Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas (or substitute your holiday of choice). Board Enterpries is getting ready to hit 2010 hard with new products and some new promotions. If you think we've been resting too much, please realize that we have been building our strength! Enjoy the holidays and we hope to see you back here in the New Year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Character Names

For many of us, character names are the most difficult part. You don’t want to make some bad-ass barbarian named Melvin. Even Tom is useless. He needs a name like Badassbarbarian. See - not easy. So what to do? Well, one thing that works pretty darn well is to use foreign languages. Heather, who runs our sales and advertising, uses misspellings of the Italian word for evil for all of her online characters. Anyone who’s gamed with her knows that “evil” is an appropriate term! When I was back in high school, I just morphed words I didn’t know well. Sometimes this worked. When I morphed Nemesis’ name (the Greek goddess) into Nebethis, I thought I was pretty darned smart. Not such an unknown word now though and a touch too obvious.
So how does it work? Get out to an internet translation tool. (I like Babel Fish) Choose a language that sort of matches the person you’re describing’s race. Then twist the word. This works along several means. #1 - it’s a cheap way to get cool sounding ideas. #2 - It might even give you a pronunciation guide. Play testers will tell you that I have had my share of NPC character names where I wrote them but still couldn’t figure out how to say them. This often degraded into calling the person something offensive - probably not appropriate to continue ...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reading other products

OK - So I’m working on Book of Wishes. The formatting on this thing is as big a nightmare for on-line publishing as it was for print. But I have to admit, even just rereading pieces of it is giving me ideas on things I haven’t used or haven’t used in a while. Now of course, this happens mainly because Board Enterprises products are vastly superior to other companies’ products (they really are!), but it does happen to a smaller extent with other books. If the content is good, it will spark good ideas, even if you have to put in a little extra time “making them your own”. (See Forge of Imagination). So - For those of you who do not play Legend Quest - You still should buy Book of Wishes. It is a fantastic source book for any fantasy game and will give you ideas for your game. Now I just have to finish getting the files ready and on line with our distributors.

Dr. Who continued

Can I make another Dr. Who analogy? Look at the amount of fighting they do in that show, or more importantly, don’t do. There’s a lot of running away! Too often we’re wrapped up in this whole combat system nonsense, when the best adventures are about solving puzzles and thinking. Yes - This makes it harder on the GM, but when it works - it’s solid gold! If you can - stop using the combat system to fill the whole adventure. If your game rules only allow for combat and don’t foster role-playing - switch to Legend Quest. Otherwise, focus on the adventure and not the action. Hey Indiana Jones - another great example of some fighting, a lot of running away and a lot of adventure without all the need for constant warfare. The original Allan Quatermain stories - sure the armies of natives were dangerous and all, but it was typically the trying to cross the desert that nearly killed him.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chained Adventures

OK - So what really made me think of this was that my boys were watching that new Marvel superhero show/cartoon. The only thing they ever seem to do is chase after these fragments of some massively powerful device. That’s it. It reminded me of when Dr. Who was going after the Key of Time (Key to Time? whatever). For those old folks like me out there you probably remember - That thing went on forever! By the time we got to the end of the story line, I just wanted to never hear of the Key of Time again. I really didn’t care what he fought next, as long as there was no connection.
Then the smoking hot Romana got turned into the weird looking Romana and Tom Baker actually dated or married the goofy looking one. OK - no relevance, but I’m still upset that they stopped using the hot one. So...Forget this paragraph
The point is this - Linking adventures is a good idea, but it can be taken too far. Fighting dragons is a good idea too - lots of daring and adventure, but come the eleventh dragon fight it's, yawn, another dragon, pass the Cheetos. Dr. Who is actually a really good example of this. Why does that show work? Well, you have action and adventure, but not too much fighting. There’s a strong element of being afraid, even if you’re armed with a super powered laser rifle. There are recurring bad guys (“permanent enemies”). Let’s look at those. Dr. Who would not be what it is without the daleks, cybermen, sontarans, and the Master. The risk is over using these main stays, but Dr. Who seems to dance the tight rope well, coming up with new stuff while hitting some of the old stuff every once and a while. For my money, that’s where the best campaigns sit as well - lots of new stuff, with enough reminders of the past to keep everyone nostalgic.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


OK - seems an odd thing to discuss this time of year, but something got me thinking on poison. You know how most guys who protect their wealth by using poisonous traps die? By poison malfunctions. You know how most poison using knife fighters die? By cutting themselves with poisoned blades.
So why use it? Well, many of them use it because their game masters don’t make it dangerous enough to use. GMs should (and I don’t always, so I’m not really preaching here, unless I’m preaching to me) force a roll every time someone handles poison. Fumble and you get hurt. If you have poison laying around the house, either protecting your belongings or on all your weapons, then maybe one fumble chance per day. What’s that mean? Well it typically means that once a month the poisoner is going to get poisoned. Maybe your rules have some skill by which the person can handle the poison more efficiently (Chemistry or Alchemy in LQ). Maybe if your level is high enough, you might reduce your chances of fumbling.
OK - taking the rules aside for a minute - It should take a certain kind of person to use poison. Normal people don’t like having something that dangerous around them all the time. Personally, I’ve poisoned my fair share of mice, but I’m OCD about washing my hands and not touching anything while I’m laying the bait. Imagine having to be like that all the time. Also, at their core, most people don’t like killing others, not even people who do it professionally. Given an option, they’d probably prefer to drive off or capture an enemy, depending on the circumstances. But not a poisoner. Frequently a poisoned enemy ill stumble away from combat only to die later. That takes a certain kind of mean to inflict on someone.
Is there a point to this? No, but that’s what a blog is for - sharing ideas that don’t necessarily have any deep meaning.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Missing in Action?

Yes Board Enterprises was on vacation. We normally don’t like to pre-announce such things because we’re paranoid about people raiding the office while we’re gone. Anyway, we’re back and we’ll be posting again very soon. Sorry for the gap!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Aliens in Fantasy

I know some of the playtesters from years ago are reading this blog (Hi!), but let me fill the rest of you in. The Forgotten Hunt was intended to be the entry into a series of modern games that would form a world where pretty much anything could happen. There would be dinosaurs, mercenaries, super-powers (not incredible ones, but some manner of enhancement), and (pause for drama) a huge alien invasion. Oh - and magic (the game Dark Hour)! Well, Magic the Gathering dominated the industry for years, and now role-playing games seem to have gone the way of war games - they’re still there, but the youth market and the money has shifted to the cards.
So, what to do with all those cool aliens that I created to attack the Earth? I use them in the Legend Quest fantasy games. Aliens and monsters can and should be used along the same lines. Those British game designers have it right. Orcs make great bad guys whether they are in the past or in the future.
My favorite aliens were the Congrogas. They were sort of dinosaur men, or dragon men (not really lizard men, but if you need to see it that way). They even had an elite cadre that were basically triceratons. I’ve been able to use the Congrogas as enemies in a super-hero genre game, a modern alien invasion game, and now in a fantasy genre game. So how do you make aliens work in a fantasy era?
First - they need to get from one planet to another. I have introduced the concept of the “spiral stairs”. I once used the term “spiral rifts”, but I really never intended to copy that other game. Think of two spiral staircases that are rotating in opposite directions, sometimes I think about a DNA strand but not connected. As the two spirals move, different parts of them will touch each other. If the worlds are on those spirals, then from time to time, they will touch as well, and at those times, both worlds (or more likely small parts of those worlds) will be in the same place at the same time. Where they touch, spiral gates will open and creatures can step through. Where the Congrogas are explorers and conquerors in the future, they are a race desperate to find a new homeland in the fantasy era. (Theirs is being ripped apart by geological forces.) Are they invaders? Well sure, but they aren’t evil. They simply must find a place to settle their race or face extinction. Where the futuristic guys have laser rifles, the fantasy guys have obsidian swords and spears. Same stats, same “powers” and weaknesses (in this case natural armor and a weakness in humid weather), different weapons, but still great enemies.
Does it work for others? Yep! Let’s go backwards. The hoawmintz are a Legend Quest “monster” race - a race of “men” who are bipedal cats. The hoawmintz make perfect aliens, they just need some manner of high tech gadgetry, or if you prefer they could be a “barbarian” culture that gets mixed up in the space race. Anyone who watched the Flash Gordon cartoon where Thun was a Lion Man understands that this race would be equally cool in a fantasy game or a space opera. This genre jumping (which clearly I am a huge fan of as I discuss it in many of our books), was also shown in things like Warhammer and Warhammer 40K, TSR’s Spelljammer, Rifts, and a bunch of other books. (At least I admit when I’m not the first to think of something.)
So what do you do now? You think back to that really cool space story you read last month (or when you were a kid) and you pluck the bad guy race out of it and throw it into your fantasy game. You probably already have their history. Maybe you can either stop them before they become a space fairing race, or simply retro their history to a fantasy era. Maybe they found a magical portal from their planet to yours or they’re simply from another continent. I am not a supporter of laser rifles vs fireballs, but once you take the lasers away from them, a lot of those aliens become really cool monsters!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


So I’m watching this show Castle last night. My first time with it, so I don’t know the characters that well or anything. But the author keeps spouting off these useless trivia facts about things. I now identify with this character. I learned more trivial stuff writing my books, especially Grain Into Gold. You would not believe the silly stuff in my head. (Pemmican came up in the show, which I perfectly understood and nearly spouted off two recipes to the people watching with me.) So to all of you out there - IT’S NOT JUST ME!
These views are the views of the author alone and are not supported by Board Enterprises. Board Enterprises does not hold or support the views of the author, especially when they are silly!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cool magic item combo

OK - so I was writing a prior post and it occurred to me that the Heart of Dragonkind only protects the dragon wearing it if the dragon is aware of the enemy. Well, if your champion is going to wear it, then he needs to have the all seeing eyes of Milonsovich. The all seeing eyes is a crown like thing, but gives the wearer a 360 degree field of vision and can see through most illusions even invisibility. The drawback is that the all seeing eyes exhaust the wearer. I mean come on - try and pay attention to everything in a crowded room for a long period of time - it’ll wear you out. So - the Heart can only be used by a dragon and the eyes will tire the wearer, making it a limited use item. These are great magic items to give a party, because they cannot make strong use of them. Game balance achieved!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Non-skilled modifier

We never really covered this in the rule book, but it has come up from time to time. What happens if a character with Melee 2 [Swords 3 (Long Sword 4)] picks up a sword-style weapon that he has never experienced before? Well, if he really has no knowledge of this weapon, he would suffer the non-skilled modifier, but since it is a sword, he still gets the MEL and SWD group skills. Huh? Yep - If a knight who has practiced with only straight edged weapons his whole life picks up a curved scimitar on the battlefield, he would have +10 (MEL) +15 (SWD) -15 (non-skilled) for a net +10. Now, give him a couple hours to practice with it and that modifier might go away.
So, is this just another chance for GMs to mess with their players? No. It is intended to stop standard soldiers from picking up exotic weapons and using them as though they were born with one in their crib. Furthermore, hopefully it never happens, but a medieval knight should not be able to pick up a light saber and use it with skill. He’d fumble around with it, maybe finding a way to use it as a sword, but definitely not look like a Jedi. With such an extremely different weapon, it might take a few days of training for him to lose his non-skilled modifier. Anyway - some things are beyond the scope of group skills until the character actually encounters them and recognizes them as something familiar. (If the knight can’t figure out how to turn the light saber on, it really doesn’t matter what he might be able to do with it.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Other Quests (part 2)

OK - it’s hard enough to come up with your own missions, so what do you do for the guys you don’t even care about? Give them the boring stuff. If 5,000 zombies are wandering the countryside and need to be put down - send your players against the necromancers and other NPC adventurers against the zombies. If a volcano erupts and shows the entrance to the dimension of fire, your players will not be the only ones to notice. Others will be racing them to acquire whatever treasures are in the plane of fire. Tapped for ideas? Use idea supplements like Spark of Imagination. No, that’s not a shameless plug - use whatever aids your want to. Remember - the other adventurers do not need to be as challenged mentally as your actual players. They also don’t need as much game balance. If it works for them to fight orcs and come away with a magical hoard of weapons - go for it!
The point here is two fold - the world cannot stand still while your players advance in levels. The world really does not revolve around them, and they shouldn’t be the most important people in the world, even if they did save it from destruction. The other side is the other side (meaning the other side of the conflict). If your players are good guys, then the bad guys will want to be gaining ground too. If your players are bad guys, then the good guys will want to rally the troops against them.
Maybe the gods want to get involved too. After all, if your players are slaughtering dragons across the planet in order to make things “safe” for humanity, shouldn’t the dragon gods get a little peeved? Wouldn’t they send their dragon champion on a quest to find the Heart of Dragonkind, a mystical amulet that allows the dragon champion to never be harmed in battle?
How does this play out? Well it could play out in a number of ways. The party could be back from killing the necromancer in a hidden tomb somewhere and learn that the two parties who were out chopping zombies to bits are the ones hailed as heroes, because they were the ones that the peasants saw protecting them. Or the party could spend three years saving village after village on the border, while another raided the tomb of a lich and returned with really powerful magic items. Or they could all just get along - comrades in arms, knowing everyone was doing their parts. When the final battle comes, your party might feel it is vitally necessary to protect the other party’s mage because he is the one wielding the wand of sunlight which destroys all undead. They might also see the evil high priest who sacrificed that one noble girl before they could save her and really want to get their revenge. Maybe we’re just making the point for permanent allies as well as the permanent enemies we advise in our books. Yeah - I guess we are.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Other Quests

Have you ever thought about other people’s quests? You know all those other adventurers and what they are doing for a living. Did you think that your party was the only group willing to risk their necks for huge rewards? What are all those other guys doing for a living?
Who cares, right? Well, it can really work into the plot devices, plus it just makes sense. If your adventurers are questing to find the long lost trident of Ebeneezer in order to calm the seas and enable their nation to invade another, that other nation should be questing to find the diamond shield of Fazzbrin in order to blind all the ships at sea before they can invade. Or at least points to that order. What if you don’t do this? Well, then your players’ side is the only one with fantastic stuff and they win every single time because everyone else is simply boring. Does it matter to the adventurers? Yep! How? Here’s an example:
OK, so the only way to defeat the evil lord is to chuck his ring into the fiery volcano, so the main quest line is about a bunch of civilians trying to accomplish that task. If the other side had simply sat still, this would not have been that tough a mission. The big bad guy instead chose his nine best guys and gave them missions - go get that ring. They did not all work together - they spread out in smaller groups and homed in on it. That’s why it took three books instead of just one - both sides were questing for the same thing.
OK, here’s a less epic example: The evil god is trying to weaken the nation’s government, while the good god is trying to preserve it. The bad guy sends relatively minor monsters against the provincial territories, luring the army and the adventurers out of the capital city to battle the monsters. That’s good adventuring stuff, right? There are packs of giant wolves invading the borderlands, let’s go kill them! Then the good gods reveal the locations of some cool legendary magic items in order to keep the heroes alive, of course they’re hidden in crypts filled with undead, but that’s good adventuring too. Then the evil guys start causing civil unrest in the capital, but all the military types are out in the field fighting monster distractions. The nation needs to split its forces, making the borderlands that much more dangerous. By the time this quest chain reaches its conclusion and the forces of evil are attacking the capital in force, the good players have fought monsters, recovered treasures, dealt with evil cults in the capital and saved young noble girls from being sacrificed. Meanwhile their allies have also been fighting monsters, and might have learned new strategies or even invented new equipment (dragon scale armor, manticore tail spears, naga poisoned arrows, etc). Also, the bad guys have been granted more magical powers for every noble girl they did sacrifice (every time the party either failed or failed to act). They have also learned how the adventurers attack, and taken actions to defend themselves. If your party’s main mage is always throwing fireballs around, the bad guys who have been working against them for the last two years will be wearing rings of fire resistance.
(to be continued)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blogging etc

OK - So I think we can still say that we’re new to blogging. There are a lot of blogs out there, and not all of them are pretty. By pretty, I mean civil, polite, acceptable in a cultured society. We think ours is, and we hope to keep it there. So what? (We come back to that question a lot!) We’re trying to encourage comments (though obviously not going about it the right way). But we want comments like: That is so cool! You guys are gods! I play your game and it’s the best! We’d also like to see comments like: Dude, why are halflings so weak? Can my dwarf use a 9’ sword? When are you going to come out with a super hero game?
If you want to leave a comment like: Learn to spell, moron! We’d prefer you emailed that to us at, and didn’t leave it in the comments section. We’ll take action! Seriously, it’s not that someone sent us a comment like that. I noticed one on another blog and really struck me as something we just don’t want. Other than that - leave comments!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Invisibility - Rule Clarification

I think we’ve put this out before, but it bears restating. There is a difference between “magical” and “mental” invisibility. (Mental invisibility is most commonly delivered through the overimage proficiency.) In magical invisibility, the subject is no longer visible to the human eye. It is a completely visual thing. If you spread flour all over an invisible creature, the flour will come to rest on them and the outline of the invisible person will be revealed. With mental invisibility, the presence of the person is removed from the mind of the viewer. No amount of trickery will reveal the invisible creature, even if the target (victim) of the proficiency is aware that an invisible creature is there. Oh they can swing heir weapon around randomly trying to strike the mentalist, but they won’t even see the blood if they happen to get lucky. I think the best way to think about it is that magic removes the person from the target’s sight, while the mentalist removes the person from the target’s mind. Oh, and yes, this means that mentally invisible creatures can swim without being detected and avoid being detected by people with really good senses of smell or hearing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Possible faith insults

It occurred to me that in some of my discussions of divine intervention (mainly in books and articles, not necessarily in this blog), I have said things along the lines of “it is easier to have faith in a god that takes an active role in your life”. Wow - That’s really insensitive, and I’m not a politically correct sort of a person. What I meant to say was, “It is easy to have faith in a god where his/her priests can produce miraculous effects on demand.” Depending on your faith you could easily see the hand of the divine in a sunrise. I see it in the miracle of an egg and a sperm forming a baby, and that happens every day. So if I’ve insulted anyone I’m sorry. I do truly mean to put emphasis on the fact that fantasy worlds allow some people to control the gods in physically visible ways.
On the other side of the coin, don’t forget that many of the people of a fantasy world would see their gods in the rain, the sun, the fact that fires burn, etc. Call them superstitious if you want to or decide exactly what type of force is needed to cause the rain. (elementals? divine servants? two pressure systems interacting? a mix of all three?) With Book of Wishes, we introduced regional elementals. Under that style of system, every river, every breeze, every mountain has a regional elemental controlling it. Earthquakes are caused by massively powerful earth elementals shifting position (the regional elementals that have some control over the plate tectonics). Think about it, the Greeks had a god for every wind and all manner of nymphs and nereids.
So if you see the divine in every tree and flower, you are not alone, and I never meant to question you!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Well we missed it again. Nope, Board Enterprises was not at GenCon. The last time we were at GenCon, Magic the Gathering was just coming into its own (and pushing all us smaller guys out) and there were no kids at home to worry about. Now the kids want to go.
Truth is, GenCon is bad for business. Not all business, but defiantly ours. I’ve talked to some other small press guys who are delighted to plunge in with every other new product, but it really seems to be a storm. A “you can’t see the forest for the trees” kind of thing with so many new products flooding the shelves and internet that too many get lost in the shuffling.
We’re not being bitter, just maybe a bit cynical. We mentioned before that we don’t release products in August anymore, because getting lost is not something we strive for. Keep checking back here and you’ll see new things soon enough!
and Thanks! We appreciate the fact that you expend enough time to check out what’s going on here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Product Feedback

We’re looking for a little feedback (either here or at Some of you are asking for more world building products instead of our more normal supplements that give more ideas, etc. Our first idea is Urban Developments (working title). This is basically city building 101. We’re going with a whole logic concept, which, let’s face it, doesn’t always work in fantasy. We see it in many ways as being a complement to Grain Into Gold. Is this the type of thing you’re looking for?

We get crushed during August by the glut of new GENCON products that flood the industry. Therefore we don’t release new products during August. Expect a more idea based supplement in September, and hopefully the base unit to Rhum shortly after. Then we’ll see what you seem to want more.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Sorry for the delay in postings. Real life some times interferes with games, even when games are the job. Anyway - we’ll be back on our normal posting schedule momentarily - have no fear. If you ever want to ask a question or contact us in any way, please use the email address!

Friday, July 24, 2009


The question has come up several times: How do we expand Legend Quest? We can add more monsters - Not too earth shattering there. We can add more gear - both magical and mundane. Some of the magic stuff can be interesting. But to expand the characters, we need more styles of magic. The Book of Wishes brought beast mastery, dwarven enchanters and elementalists, as well as the enclave sorcerers. What’s next? well here are some of the things we’re working on:
Spell Dancers - by moving their bodies, they conjure up their magical powers, in a fashion similar to how spell singers bring on their magic (from themselves, the environment and the target). Their casting times are quite long and it is not the greatest attack magic.
Enclave spell dancers - tribal dancing used to cast the big spells. Actually this is based on some of the legends and beliefs of some of the tribes in the USA’s history, expanded quite a bit (OK distorted quite a bit). Right now, this is more of a defensive thing - the village women and children dance to cast protection spells over their village and their warriors.
Spell Smithing - (OK so we have a lot of spell ___, but taken in the context of all the styles of magic, it’s not too much, we hope.) Spell smiths are enchanters who do not write their spells on the item, they craft their spell into the item. Again, it is a way to get around the metal resistances as well as make the spells harder to dispel. Also - with this you can craft those wondrous magical limbs and such. Super powered magical arm anyone? (Yes please - golden!)
Arcanist - a sorcerer who works with the inner workings of magic itself. There won’t be big fireballs here, but he will be able to strip the power from an enemy’s spells and redirect them with ease.
Dragonbone - a personal favorite. Imagine a spell caster standing atop a huge pile of bones. Not just any bones, but dragon bones. He pulls the power from the bones themselves to cast his spells. OK - not exactly an adventuring style, but summoning dragon bone armor and a dragon bone spear from the pile, while using the power of the dead dragon to fuel excessively powerful effects - stuff of legends!

The downside - I have to figure out how to do these cheaply, because Legend Quest specific supplements don’t sell very well. I’ve been thinking it through and we’ll find a way to make it all happen!
Last note - Don’t worry! We’re working on cool things for the warrior types as well. Carrier attacks and blended moves, etc.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cost of Goods

There’s a point that we make in Grain Into Gold that I don’t think we hit it hard enough. Where are all those prices coming from? There’s a simple formula. Think modern times - what does it cost to get your car fixed? Auto mechanic’s labor plus parts. What does it cost for the plumber to fix your sink? Plumber’s labor (possibly including a fee for the house call) plus parts. What does it cost for a loaf of bread in the supermarket? Baker’s labor plus parts (ingredients) plus transportation plus packaging plus middle man’s mark up. Now in the modern setting, you would have to include the labor of the marketing guys, etc., etc. The fantasy realm is the same. A loaf of bread costs parts plus labor, plus possible transportation plus packaging. For a loaf of bread, there is usually no packaging (the buyer simply puts it in their own basket), there is usually no transport (since the buyer walked to the bakery), and there is likely no middle man, though the baker might be including the cost of his taxes and other overhead in either his labor or an add on cost.
Does packaging matter? Even in the modern age, we’ve all heard that the cost of the cup that the pop at a fast food place comes in is more expensive than the pop itself. (That’s a yes.) In the fantasy era, a cloth bag to carry five pounds of flour will likely cost more than the flour. In some cases, the wooden keg the beer comes in might be more expensive than the beer. You can bet that these people are using the same packaging over and over if at all possible.
The transport situation was covered in Grain Into Gold, but not to my satisfaction. That’s where Coins of the Road will come in. Yes, I know it was likely promised some time ago, but things being what they are, it likely still isn’t going to hit the e-shelves in 2009. (Grain Into Gold is our best seller. People really liked it. To be honest, we’re working our tails off to make sure that it’s follow up is at least as good. That has been difficult!)
Anyway - when you’re figuring out what something cost - the simple formula will always be parts + labor.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Grain Into Gold Shameless Plug

It occurred to me in rereading the previous posts that not everyone who will be reading this has already read Grain Into Gold. That is a huge shame! So - Why would you want to buy GIG? Well, as you see from that coal and coke example, we get pretty detailed - not that detailed! We summarize how we got to numbers like that so you can see the logic, but not all the work. For those of you looking for a short cut, pages 69-81 of the book contain the charts. Yep, 13 pages of the costs of everything from a cow to a pound of beef jerky, from a beaver fur hat to a long sword, from a pound of wheat flour to the daily wage of a cobbler. Not only are these charts complete, but they are all based on the same system and they make sense! Grain Into Gold came out of a complete frustration in looking at yet another game book where an apple cost 1cc, but the apple grower would have needed to sell 200 apples a day to feed his family. While an apple grower might sell 200 apples during the fall, it seemed clear that his family would starve the rest of the year. Of course, the games weren’t written for the apple growers, but only for the adventurers. Grain Into Gold allows both of them to live in a reasonable and even sort of realistic economy, without crushing the game master under study notes the size of the FASB rules. (That’s Financial Accounting Standards Board - It’s an accounting joke - that’s why it wasn’t funny!)
So anyway - buy Grain Into Gold! Click here or here to find it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lycanthrope - Fletnern Rules 2

OK - I should know by now that I cannot import charts into this blog format. Let’s just give you the math:
Beagodon full gives a +70% chance of changing. Beagodon strongly waxing gives a +35%.
Tilliat full gives a +35% chance, while Tilliat strongly waxing gives a +20%.
Add the appropriate numbers (even if they’re -0-) to get the chance that the lycan will switch in an uncontrolled fashion.

Lycanthrope - Fletnern Rules

Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

OK - but which moon? Fletnern has three: Beagodon, Seuwis and Tilliat. Beagodon is most closely associated with natural magic and it is the most powerful moon concerning were-creatures. Seuwis, although being considered the “Death Moon”, has very little effect on lycans. Many people believe this proves that were-creatures are not “evil” by nature, but it simply proves that the magic surrounding the changes are not associated with necromancy. Tilliat surprisingly enough does have some impact on the werefolk, but not as much as Beagodon. The reason for this is most likely that it produces the strongest moonlight of all three and therefore has some impact.
OK - let’s make some rules. Beagodon is full for three nights, while Tilliat is only full for one. (Seuwis is full for three as well, but it doesn’t matter.) Beagodon is strongly waxing (almost full) for four nights, while Tilliat is strongly waxing for two. These are going to be the only conditions that will cause a were-creature to change unintentionally.
We’re introducing a new skill: Lycan Control. This is a 5-point Willpower based skill. It will allow the were-person to either resist the changes brought on by the moon cycles or force themselves to change when the conditions are not right. Let’s focus on forced changes first. Each combination of moon cycles will lead to a percentage chance that the person will change into their animal form. This percentage can be resisted (if the character chooses) by their Willpower (x5% as with any resistance) and their Lycan Control levels (also x5%). OK - so here is the chart:
Beagodon Tilliat Seuwis Chance of Turning
Full Full No Effect 105%
Full Strg. Wane No Effect 90%
Full No Effect No Effect 70%
Strg. Wane Full No Effect 70%
Strg. Wane Strg. Wane No Effect 55%
Strg. Wane No Effect No Effect 35%
No Effect Full No Effect 35%
No Effect Strg. Wane No Effect 20%
No Effect No Effect No Effect 0%
Full Full Full 125%
We’re going to throw a curve ball at this. Anyone without Lycan Control levels suffers a -15% to their resistance. No, that is not a normal issue, but it seems appropriate to alter the rule in this specific case.
Let’s think about some examples. A new werewolf who has a Willpower of 5 and no Lycan Control levels, has a 105% chance of turning, less his 10% resistance (Wx5% - 15% non-skilled), or a 95% chance of turning. A more experienced werewolf with a Willpower of 6 and three levels would only have a 60% chance of turning (105%-Wx5%-Level x5%). Still, not a good option for the villagers nearby. If only Beagodon is full in the sky, and Tilliat offers no modifier (either because it is not strong or not visible), the new werewolf will have a 60% chance of turning (70% base - (Wx5%-15% non-skilled)), while our more experienced lycan will have a 25% of losing control and turning (70%-30%-15%). As you can see, even an experienced lycan is highly likely to change on the Festival of the Three Moons.
Remember, as long as the were-creature can maintain a Knowledge of 2 and a Psyche of 2, they can use their own skills and form their own thoughts. They will not become vicious killing machines with an appetite for human flesh. (cool imagery though, huh?)

Lycanthrope should be different on every planet. The moons are different, and they exert different effects on the people that live under their reflected light. Many might think that these rules are too soft on the lycans and allow them a chance to resist the call of the wild. They are supposed to be. Lycanthrope is not intended to be unbearable on Fletnern, but hat doesn’t mean that you need to make it easy on your lycans on your game world!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Indian Names - Not the joke

OK - many of you have probably heard the joke about the Indian brave who asks the chief how he comes up with the names for all the new born babies in the village, and the response is something to the effect of: “I name them after the first thing I see upon hearing that the child has been born, such as Dove Flying or Running Deer. Why do you ask Two Dogs F___ing?” So I spent the week with my son at Boy Scout camp, and was racing out of there at 5:30 this morning to get back home and to work. I saw the mists over the lake, different mists over a field of tall grass, heard the birds calling to each other, and watched the sun rise over the Tennessee hills. I’ve written Forge of Imagination and Character Foundry trying to get people to spark their imaginations. If you can’t just walk out into the world and come up with some of the most wonderful names and ideas, you’re just not trying. Need names for a tribe of kobolds - Walk into a park and just sit quietly for a while, then pretend you’re the old Indian chief. If you don’t have at least a dozen names in five minutes, you really need to loosen up, because you are way too stressed!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Coke and Coal #2

Before I get too far from the discussion of coke and coal, I do want to address the fact that I understand that coke was not commonly used in England until the 1700s and really widely used with the Industrial Revolution. So why is it used in fantasy Fletnern? The main reason people switched from wood and charcoal to coke was that the forests of England had been depleted. It really wasn’t the technology. On Fletnern, the Central Plains and the Gold Mountains both have lots of coal but very little in the way of trees. Therefore it makes perfect sense that in these regions, coal and coke would be used as fuel, whereas in the Rhoric Plains and the Marilick culture surrounding the Slyvanian Forest, wood and charcoal would still be the chief fuel source. This all leads back to that 4,000 years of no gunpowder or steam power, but other things have moved forward. Hopefully that makes some sense.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Coal vs. Coke

One of the people who put some time into reading Grain Into Gold criticized our use of coal in the home. While I still feel that there would be some cultures that would use coal to heat their immediate living area negligent of the health risks (though somewhat mitigated by good ventilation), I have come to believe that what many people call coal is not coal. In many historic references to coal, I believe they actually mean coke. (No - not the beverage) Coke is to coal what charcoal is to wood. You burn it without air and all the junk burns off leaving a nearly pure carbon behind. Coke is far less likely to kill you from breathing its fumes.
In order to recognize this change of strategy, I’m planning to write up coke as a fuel alternative in Coins of the Realm. Since this book is not expected to be immediately available, let’s give you some of the ideas now:
First off, Grain Into Gold assumed that people were deep mining coal. On Fletnern, I typically assume they are strip mining it. This means that instead of 500lbs per day, the unskilled workers can mine and load about a ton a day. This drops the “at location” cost of a ton of house heating coal to 10sc (from 15 - sure it seems like it should be only 7sc for a miner’s daily wage, but what about the wagon drivers and the foreman and the other support staff?). I assume that the coke ovens are relatively close to the coal strip mine, since there are no trains. You move the coal, likely down the side of the hill and pour it into a coke oven. Three Fletnern days later (about 60ish hours) it has been burned down from coal to coke. Trying to get yield rates prior to 1900, the best source I saw said 65%, so if you fill an oven with 3,500lbs of coal, you get 2,300lbs of coke (rounded). Each coke burner can usually handle six ovens or loading and unloading two a day. Having spent some of my youth shoveling gravel and asphalt, I think a man working himself harder than his body wants to work could have accomplished this if the production lines were intelligently handled. The historic references seem to imply they did quite a bit more, but they did have some help from coal cars and train tracks. So anyway, assume that a 9sc a day burner supported by the equivalent of another 9sc guy (this is the foreman, wagon drivers, brick deliverers, etc.) burns two ovens a day effectively. 17.5sc worth of coal went in. 9sc worth of labor applied, and our 2,300lbs of coke is valued at 26.5 or roughly 23sc per ton of coke.
OK - so, the at location price of coal is now 10sc per ton and the at location cost of coke is 23sc per ton. If the burners did everything perfect, then about 1,300lbs of coke should provide the same fuel as a ton of coal. Let’s estimate that where a ton of coal heats a small home for six to eight weeks, a ton of coke would likely last eight to ten weeks. Using more modern information, it is likely that as equivalent fuels coke is about 75% of the weight of coal.
For transport, I’m going to have 15 ton wagons pulled by teams of 10 oxen driven by two men with no guards that move about 18-20 miles a day on a very good road. The city of Forsbury is 115 miles from the coal mines, so a ton of coke in Forsbury would run about 29sc.
OK - lots of numbers, lots of math. In case you haven’t bought Grain Into Gold yet, this is why you want to. We’ve done the research on historic products and how they were produced. We then back everything into the full economic system, beginning with what the cost of a loaf of bread is. By the way - a loaf of bread (16oz) costs one silver coin. That wasn’t a coincidence!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Civilization and world building

OK - I admit it. I have played Civ 1, 2, 3 and 4, plus various other versions and related games. There’s just something I really love about those games. So what, right? again with the “so what”s. I think Civ thinking can really help you with world building.
Who came first in your world? On Fletnern it was the titans - head and shoulders above everyone else (physically, mentally and culturally). You heard about what happened to them. Now, second came the goblins (ogres, orcs and goblins). The elves and dwarves were sort of next. Humans were titan slaves, so in many cases they have a refugee culture where they scrounge what they can from the remains of the titan civilization. You still don’t see it do you? How far did the Goblin Empire get before it collapsed in civil (racial) war? Did they use bronze weapons? iron weapons? steel weapons? Did they ride horses? use chariots? have bows? crossbows? How was their mining? If they had iron weapons was it because they didn’t have coal or didn’t have smelting knowledge?
These questions can sometimes be answered in a very intelligent way if you just think of each of the cultures as a Civ game. OK - Goblin Empire - in the plains with mountains and hills. Definitely had coal and iron and copper deposits. Probably did not have cattle, but did have sheep and goats. No shoreline, so no boats or sailing or fishing.
Take a look at the tech charts and start assigning the progress they would have made. Of course, your fantasy world is NOT a Civ game, so don’t forget to consider magic. I usually think of druidic and shamanistic magic as being more primitive. Necromancy is towards the beginnings of magic as well. Healing would be sort of in the middle, while sorcery and conjuring would be at the high end. Does your game separate herbalism from alchemy? Enchantment is probably higher than sorcery. Assign the levels of magic too.
OK - sounds interesting, but who cares, right? You do. Honestly! Your world likely has a history and that history has wars and other conflicts. Did the elves defeat the goblins 700 years ago? How? If you can kind of map out the Civ tech chart on your cultures, it might be obvious that the goblins had archers, but the elves had longbowmen. Maybe the elves never got their hands on iron because of where they were geographically and that is why the dwarves have dominated the battles between the two foes. Of course, we’re likely not going to gunpowder, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still use the ideas up to that point.
The reasons you care are: you want to be able to justify why your cultures are currently where they are and you want to be able to understand what went on in history. There are very few ancient elven enchanted weapons in Fletnern, because the elves primarily used wood for their weapons and magical items. The wood was not preserved and did not hold together over hundreds of years. The ancient ogres however were skilled necromancers, and their undead creatures still roam the ruins of their lost empire. If the dwarves have had control of steel for 400 years, there are likely some ancient forges around, possibly abandoned when the iron in the area was mined out.
I’m not going to pretend that Civ can create a great world for you, but by thinking about your world as though it were a Civ game, you might just fill in some of the gaps and come up with some fantastically great ideas for adventure!
For those of you who don’t play Civ - you should try it. However, think of games like Warcraft (not WoW, the original). Before you can build soldiers, you need a barracks. Before you can build cavalry, you need a stable. This is incredibly more simplistic than Civ, but some of the same concepts are there.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


So, what time period is your fantasy world set in? Do you have plate mail armor? full plate armor? Are they using high grade or low grade steel? Most people assume that their worlds are in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries. This usually works with the level of weapon and armor crafting available. Now, how long has it been there? Think about it. Have you set wars in your world that occurred 500 years ago? 1500 years ago? 4000? Most of our fantasy worlds have been stuck in the fantasy genre for a long time. Compare that to Earth where the days of metal armor were at best 1,000 years. (This assumes that from 500-1500 they wore metal armor, but this is likely inaccurate, and only used to be conservative.) What’s the point? The point is that something is keeping your fantasy world from becoming a modern world.
On Fletnern, that something is the titans. 4,000 years ago, the titans had a civil war, where the mages and the mentalists (who valued learning and self induced power) fought the enchanters (who crafted and made wondrous items that anyone could use). An enchanter weapon exploded taking the enemy army, their army and the entire continent with it. Yep, the entire continent. That continent is now known as the Great Archipelago. Anyways, some of the titans survived. The enchanters were banished from the planet, and the mages and mentalists moved to another continent.
While the remaining titans might be in “retreat”, they are not completely cut off from the world. They went back through their histories and decided that it was gunpowder and steam power that allowed the enchanters to accomplish what they did. The remaining titans have dedicated their lives to stamping out every gunpowder (or gunpowder-like) experiment and every steam engine (even those cute ones that spin around). By doing this, they have managed to hold the entire world at a technology level of steel armor and steel weapons for 4,000 years.
But! and it’s a big “but”! They don’t care about other things. Weaving has moved forward. Animal husbandry has moved forward. Smelting has moved forward. OK, not a lot, but forward. The titans are also not going to let electricity come into its own, so there are no telegraphs, etc.
So what? So Fletnern is in many ways a mixture of the High Middle Ages, the Late Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Colonial Period, and even the Wild West/Frontier Days. Why did I just waste my time typing all of this? Two reasons: 1) If you read Grain Into Gold, it helps to give you a perspective as to why I use examples that really pertain to the early 1800s to justify fantasy era industry. 2) I think game masters need to think about why their worlds are “stuck” in a fantasy era. If the elves have been battling the dwarves using basically the same tools for over 2,000 years, and no one bothered to invent a machine gun or even a laser rifle, something must be holding them back. It might be the gods, the titans, the Mages’ Guild. Maybe the physics behind saltpeter work differently in your game world.
So does this make any sense? Hopefully. Remember that when the Europeans “discovered” the Americas, the natives were basically at the “stone age”. This is important as not every culture needs to be at the same level of technology. For all you Civ players out there, this makes perfect sense. But this mixture doesn’t actually pertain to the original issue. Does it make sense to have a knight in shining armor return home to his grandfather clock and green house? In Fletnern it does. Maybe it should in your world too.


Just to let you know - The plan is to average four or five posts a month. I’m not going to try and say “every Friday” or something like that, but we should be around four.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Peasants

Another long posting. I wrote this for Fletnern, but since it is unlikely that that book will ever be published, I wanted to post it here. To me it is important, because writing this made me want to write Grain Into Gold.

The Peasants
It is important to both forget the peasants and to not forget them. In this discussion, the peasant are those people who provide for their families by farming or some other nature oriented occupation and their families. Some might be gatherers, hunters, woodsmen, shepherds, or pig farmers. The occupations are numerous and often run together. The common thread is that they are poor and live in the places between the cities.
Because this is a world of high adventure and high fantasy, it is important to forget the peasants. Too much time would be spent in the tedious bookkeeping of trying to track how many peasants there were, if they were getting enough to eat, what their general morale was, etc. Other than waving to them while passing them on the road, adventurers will hardly ever interact with these people.
It is important not to forget them, because there are a lot of them. They might not be worth robbing, but when a petty lord is forced to defend his castle against a horde of skeletons and zombies, he is going to go out into his lands and form the peasants into a militia. When a drought ruins the crops in a region, the peasants are going to be looking for food. When scouts are attempting to sneak across the countryside unseen, the peasants are going to be in the woods, going about their everyday lives.
Like other people, peasants do not care about those things that do not affect them directly. If the lord’s brother usurps his throne, the peasants will find it interesting, but it will not spur them to action. If a plague wipes out half the population of the capital, same level of disinterest. If a dragon burns the next village to ashes before being slain by the local wizard warrior, the peasants will only care if it opens up some better farmland.
Raising taxes will get a rise out of the peasants, possibly even causing a revolt. Food shortages will encourage them to act. While these might seem obvious, not all reactions would be. Most peasants would not rise up against their lord(s) even if the lord(s) were unjust. Small amounts of pillaging his own people would be allowed. Peasants are remarkable in their ability to thank their gods for deliverance from their own rulers. As long as the self-sufficient peasants can continue to provide for their families, they have the ability to forget what happened to their neighbors, or worse yet, rationalize how their neighbors deserved it.
Almost all races have peasants. It would be a rare culture indeed that did not have some forgotten people living their meager lives. They will find a way to survive and do so, without contact with the nobility or warmongers. They fill the empty spaces, even when those empty spaces seem uninhabitable.
The end result is that peasants are important as plot devices and as barriers to the free travel from one place to another. Certainly they cannot stand up to adventurers or any other trained military force, but they are often in the way. Game masters should feel free to ignore them, unless and until they are actually pushed into action, though that should take quite a bit of effort.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grain Into Gold FAQs

We had another email asking for some GIG details, so here are the answers:

How much can an ox plow in a day? an acre - Maybe its an old wives tale, but that was how an acre was measured: the amount of land an ox could plow in a day.

How much land could two oxen plow in a day? Good question! Problem is, being a city boy, I don’t know. The best I can tell from the literature and my research is that two oxen could pull through more problematic soil (like clay), but the whole point of oxen over horses was that they maintained a slow steady pace and weren’t as fast and jerky as the horses. Therefore, I would think that two-oxen might not speed the labor so much as allow for tougher soil and probably save the ox’s strength so together they could keep plowing for a much longer time.

When does he farmer need more help than his family can provide? We had been basing our estimates on the plowing issues. The idea was if you plowed every day for a month, you would have plowed 30 acres. At some point, you’ve missed the planting season, so we were putting the family farms at up to 30 acres, and historic references were supporting this number. But what happens if you have three teen age sons? Well, then you can likely do a lot more, even if you only have one plow. (A stat we found claimed it took a man 40 days to “plow” an acre with a hoe.) The answer to the question really lies in the question of crops and how long they need between seeding and harvesting dependant upon the climate. (That’s a cop-out answer, by the way.) There is also a factor of will your crops grow better (produce more) if you weed better than your neighbor does? I assume they will. So how much extra attention to weeding does it take to have a materially better harvest?
In writing background material for adventures and cities, I have used the idea of up to 40 acres can be handled by a mid to large sized family. More than 40 acres likely needs more than three or four adults. This has simply been an arbitrary number without any true documentation.

How much fish can a family who catches fish off a boat catch? I have to go with another cop out answer here - It really depends on where you are. The question seems to come down to not how many fish can you catch, but how many fish can you afford to get to market. If the market is near the source of the fish, then likely the fish have been fished out or at least down. The more wilderness areas will have a more plentiful amount of fish, but then you have to get them to market. In Fletnern, I’ve tried to avoid having big fishing vessels, because I don’t think they could get the fish back to port while they’re still fresh. I know I’m dancing around the point. Let’s try a stab at the meat of the situation (pun intended) - Assuming that the region allowed for it, a man with a net and a boat could fish out more fish than he and his family could eat. If the fish are running, they talk about families being able to catch all their fish for one year in a day or two. Again, the issue isn’t the amount of fish you can catch, but how fast can you gut them and smoke them or salt them. In an effort to actually answer the question, it seems reasonable that a fisherman with a boat and a net could go out into the sea and catch as many fish as he could carry. If we think he catches a “boatload” of fish and cleans them to be salted or smoked, he could walk away with about 30-40lbs of fish. (I’m only counting meat here, not all the guts, bones, heads, etc he threw back into the sea.) This sounds like fishing all morning, cleaning all afternoon and evening and spending the next day salting and smoking the fish, which is actually a multi-day process. Honestly, I don’t like this math, but it might just serve.

How much would the fish in a barrel weigh? You asked about a 32 gallon barrel. Well, there is a standard series of measuring where they use a 26.66 gallon barrel filled with pickled herring. Here 9/11ths of the barrel is fish (considered 220-262 pounds, sometimes 100k, but all generally in this ballpark). The rest is salt and brine.

How many square feet to a pigskin? 12. Actually I had that in my research notes. Not sure why it didn’t make it into the book. Wow! Your guess of 1/3rd was spot on!

What is the cost of cream? On the Production chart, you’ll see that 8oz of cream was worth 1.5cc. You’re right, that should have been on the price chart.

How much does a plow cost? Damn, another good question. First - What is the level of technology in your world? Are they using wooden plows? Some farmers thought iron plows would poison the ground. Anyway, it is likely that a farmer using a wooded plow made it himself. This is likely just a fire hardened pointed stick intelligently lashed to a steering device that can be harnessed to the ox. Depending on the soil, this could be good enough. If they are using iron plows, it is more likely strips of iron hammered onto the front of a device, not unlike the simple plow just described. Assuming two days of work (for the blacksmith) and about three pounds of iron/steel, you’re looking at 25sc for a plow blade. I assume the farmer is still making the rest of the thing and just buying the blade. For an all steel plow, first your world needs a John Deere (no he did not invent the tractor; he invented a better plow). I can’t find much about how he crafted his blade, but I’m thinking that at this point you’re in a similar spot to the weapon smiths. The battle axe isn’t entirely different than a major plow blade. Depending on the wealth and culture, 75-90sc seems a fair estimate.

There have been a few criticisms of the book. One of them is basically that Grain Into Gold compares to no Earth historic period. We not only concede this point, we revel in it. There is no reason that your fantasy world would not grow corn (that’s maize for all you non-Americans) next to wheat in a feudal society. So what? Well, no matter what we think, you need to make it work in your world. If you want the ground in Elfland to be magical, then by all means, have the elven druids growing 16x the amount of grain that the dwarves are. Or have the lakes in the Ogre Territory so rich with beaver and fish that humans are willing to risk life and limb to get to them.

I hope this is useful to people. At the very least you can see a little more of how we came to some of the conclusions we came to. We’re currently working on Coins of the Road, a trade good supplement very similar to Grain Into Gold, and Facets of Wonder, another companion piece to GIG that goes in depth into gems and precious stones including what they are worth and what magical properties they all might have. If it weren’t for life in general, they’d both be out this summer, but there is little chance that there will be time enough to accomplish that.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Ads

You'll notice we now have some ads showing on this site. We've tried to make them relatively out of the way, but truth be told: I kind of like ads. These should be focused on the same things we talk about in the blog, so I'm assuming RPGs. When I'm reading web comics, I like seeing ads for others. Sometimes they lead me to some cool content. I hope this will work in the same way here, without being obnoxious. Anyway, feel free to email us at if anything seems inappropriate or they somehow grow to take over the whole page. Thanks!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Aftermath

Wow - Sounds menacing doesn’t it. This isn’t about “the” aftermath; it’s about every aftermath. Every adventure that your players go on should have consequences. OK, some of the consequences might be so minimal that no one notices them, but that isn’t always true.
So what? OK, let’s think about that question. Fairly standard mission: The party has to go out and stop a group of bandits who are plaguing the “North Road”. OK, let’s say they kill every last one of them - pretty standard fantasy RP, right? Then what? Well trade should increase, right? No bandits means lower risk means lower prices in the city. That could lead to more adventure as some products from the north might be better or cheaper than the local stuff. Maybe it will lead to taxes and tariffs on goods from the north. Maybe it will run some of the locals out of business. Maybe it will bring a wave of immigrants from the north.
What about the gap in the crime terrain? Will another gang of bandits see this as an opportunity? Now that those bandits are gone, will another expand their “turf” to include the North Road? Especially with all that new trade coming through, it seems inevitable, unless the local government establishes better permanent security. Maybe they pay for that with the new tariffs. Does that mean that there will be workers needed to build the new tax booth/fort?
What about the bandits themselves? Did they really kill every single one of them? No one was home visiting a sick relative or on “leave” for a couple of days? Did any of them have a big brother who is now very upset that someone killed his little brother? Any fathers with vengeful children? The party was probably lauded as heroes after accomplishing the job; they shouldn’t be hard to find.
What about the loot? Had the bandits fenced all their goods already? Did the party simply get coins or did they get some stuff too? jewelry? When the party sells all that stuff, do they raise any suspicions? Maybe the daughter of a murdered merchant asks them specifically for a piece of jewelry that they know they have. Return it to the rightful owner or break it down into its component jewels so no one will be wiser.
Are there any reputational issues? If the party was praised as heroes, that should help them in town. If a group of guards goes out to clean up the mess and finds throats cut, does the party get a reputation for being murders instead of heroes? The public can be very fickle about its heroes; they might turn on what they believe to be non-heroic tactics.
Do you need to figure out the effects of destroying a bandit unit on the cost of beer in your game? No, but if your campaign is going to have more of a real feel and some consequences to actions, some manner of aftermath is necessary.
Anyone out there with examples of how they’ve made this work for them?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fixing more mistakes

The dragon steed is listed as doing blunt damage with its hoof. That was never intended. I’ve always pictured dragon steeds as having dragon-like feet with claws, which would turn that to tearing damage with its talons. Obviously play it any way you want, but they’re talons in my world. Should have caught that long ago.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Good Guys & Bad Guys

If you’ve read quite a bit of our products, you might have seen the comments about good vs. evil. There are no pre-established alignments in Legend Quest. As a GM, I make people use their acting skills when they are acting untrue to character. The most common time this happens is when someone who is willing to slit the throat of a sleeping enemy wants to talk to a child. Kids aren’t dummies. They can sense a cold-blooded killer when they face one. If you are a cold-blooded killer and want to talk to a kid without having the child run away screaming in fear, you need to mask your true nature.
Back to good vs. evil. One of the main reasons we did not introduce an alignment system was originally because of the paladin vs. paladin controversy. Here’s how it started: Myork is filled with knights who consider themselves to be the best examples of truth and goodness in the world. They are so good and noble that they travel to other lands and defeat horrible enemies in order to protect those people. The people of Purity are also good people and want “good” for the world. There were plans that at some point, Myork was going to try to take over the world, mainly in order to invoke martial law on the world and stamp out evil and lawlessness. This sounds to me like something that paladins would want to do. (I’ve always been partial to pallies!) At first, Purity and their navy were going to help Myork, but as the war waged on, the Tandish/Purity soldiers and pallies were going to start to feel that they were not doing good by forcing good on others. Eventually Purity would join the others and Myork would fight the entire rest of the world. There would be battles in which the paladins of Purity would battle against the paladins of Myork. Each side would be doing what was “good”. (Do the ends justify the means? Some times.) Anyway, too many people assumed that it would be impossible for people doing good to fight against each other. (Most tried to vilify the Myork knights for imposing law on the world, but if you have a system that works, isn’t it a good thing to bring it to everyone? Yep - the fact that the USA has pulled the world out of crisis after crisis and is vilified as empire builders in Iraq certainly wasn’t lost on me, but the plans for the pally vs. pally war that never was were laid back in the early 90s.)
Anyway. As we laid the plans for Legend Quest, this was in my mind. “Good” is not universally defined. It is my belief that damn near no one would actually think of themselves as “evil”. Do we as a culture condemn actions of other people as evil? Of course we do. What are those people thinking in their minds? Well, of course individuals might recognize themselves as evil. They might be mentally deranged. But if a large group of people is acting in an evil manner, chances are they have rationalized the situation to make it OK in their hearts. “We’re wiping out that race of people because they are evil and unpure.” “We are taking back the lands that our ancestors once held for six days, so it is rightly ours.” “After an insult like that one, we simply cannot allow our enemies to live without erasing our forefathers’ honor.” To an outsider, it may be so much crap, but to someone acting with this as their justification, not so much.
What’s the end? No one, certainly not a collection of people, considers themselves to be evil. Doesn’t that screw up the whole alignment thing?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Simplicity and Character Sheets

Weird topic, huh? The title should be “What do I like about Legend Quest?” First, the simplicity. Attribute x 10% + Skill Level x 5% = % chance of success. Social skills, combat skills, craftsman skills, magic, EVERYTHING!! I say this during every demo I run: “This isn’t a simplistic system; it’s a dynamic system, because no matter what you want to do, you know what chance your character has of succeeding.” Then I go into some hugely complicated example and show them that it really can do what I suggest. I always hated games where you probably only knew how to play one type of character. There is no question that some players will be more drawn to magic or have a better strategy at stealth than grunt melee, but they still know the rules for the other side of the fence.
What about the character sheet? That’s my other favorite thing. Partially it’s because there are no charts that GMs need to hang on their screens, but everything thing you need is on the character sheet. Our standard demo game starts with 20-30 minutes going over the character sheet. By the time we get to the end, they honestly feel that they can play the game. They understand bleeding damage and fatigue vs. life’s blood. They know where their success percentages are and their resistances. I think it’s an outgrowth of the simplicity effect, but the character sheet is all you really need. Anyway, those are my favorite things about Legend Quest.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thunder Doom

OK - Did anyone even notice our release of An Army’s Arms - Slyvania? That’s what we get for releasing something around GENCON. HUGE mistake. OK, so to recover from that mistake, we’re going to release An Army’s Arms - Thunder Doom. Here is a solid description of an orc tribe who raid villages for fun and profit. We’re hoping that if you’re interested in the one book, you’ll check out the other. We’re also hoping to release The Black Skulls - also known to Legend Quest veterans as Garnock’s Elite force. You remember those fun guys, right? The black scale mail armor, the enchanted claymores, these guys chew through enemy soldiers like their eating popcorn. Well, look for the announcement on Thunder Doom very soon. The Black Skulls are probably more along the lines of late in 2009.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Directional Question

Throwing out some ideas - We’ve been thinking about doing a more adult oriented set of supplements, but we’re not sure how well it will go over. As some of you know - the Vandoi is an aldar run hotel north of the elven capital of Slyvania. Walking into the Vandoi - you see a casino that would make any gambler’s mouth water, but it’s the lower levels of the complex that are the most notorious. The entertainments include the opera house, the illusionists’ shows, the gladiatorial arenas, and just about every style of stripper and “adult” entertainment you can think of (and probably dozens you didn’t think of). We might also do the Vandoi’s “sister” hotels: Smugglers’ Lair and Lair of the River Pirates. We’ve also considered just doing the “adult” action in Forsbury, so when you show up in town, you know the difference between a bawdy house and a brothel.

The thought is this: RPGs use to be aimed at teenagers, but nowadays, those teens are either playing card games or World of Warcraft (or some other MMO). We think the pen and paper RPG market has matured, but the products don’t always reflect that. Let us know what you think, because even if the customers have matured, that doesn’t mean they’re looking for this style of supplement.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Topics and such not

While I’m just going off on stuff I want to talk about, I can be aimed! What things are you folks looking to discuss? Should we show more optional rules? Just talk about products in the works? Make up explanations for why the rules are really OK? I’ll keep rambling on anyway, but let me know what you want to talk about.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Time Delay

Sorry - Had some computer issues here. Seems like we've gotten them fixed and we'll be back to blogging. Sorry for the time delay.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Making an idea your own

Ever watch Law & Order and know exactly what real life case they were trying to emulate? Did it make it worse for you that it had been based on a real life story? Usually not - at least for the public in general. They often take unsolved cases and put their own twists on them to make it so you have no idea what is going to happen next. In Spark of an Idea - That is the kind of thing we were talking about when we said make an idea your own. Now we don’t suggest you be so blatantly obvious about it as they are on TV, but you take an idea, even one people recognize, and you twist it into something you think is even more interesting. I always felt that I wasn’t explaining the principle right and it sounded like we thought everyone should plagiarize other works. Hopefully this illustration makes it a little clearer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Death and Taxes

Just a quick note to say thank you to all of our customers! We're wrapping up the finances for Board Enterprises in order to pay the taxes and 2008 was the best year (percentage wise) that we have ever had. Some years ago we had bigger gross sales, but by the ratios, this was our top year! We're hoping that 2009 will be better still!
We'll keep listening to what you tell us and trying to give you what you want. Hopefully, that will keep you coming back!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Half Breeds

A while back, we set-up half breeds for the play-testers. This was one of the many ideas planned to be included in the optional rules book, a book, that unfortunately does not seem to have a strong market at this time. So, since these work very well, we'll release them to you as an optional, use if you feel like it, kind of rule. Hope you have fun with it! (The spacing is a little off, but forgive us the challenges of this format.)

The Legend Quest game assumes that a person can only be a member of one race. For characters that are descended from two races, it is assumed that one race dominates the other for computing attributes, while the character's physical appearance is a mix of both races.
Optionally, these “half-breeds” would have attribute statistics of their own. Below is a chart for mixed races. By cross-referencing the races of the parents, the statistics for the character's attributes can be found. These statistics are in SKEWAP order.

We couldn't get the formatting right, so please click to the aux site for the charts.

Sounding Board

Hello to anyone switching over from the Sounding Board. Welcome to the new blog - hope you like it. As with all blogs, this will be part useful information and news, part mindless rambling. Still getting the hang of it, but we hope it will be of value to folks! You never know, by the time we’re done here, it might have switched from a blog to a murder mystery. Anyway - We’re just trying to have some fun and stay in touch with you - our readers and customers.

Friday, January 23, 2009

GIG Coal

I was just going through some things on Grain Into Gold. Under the coal item, it says that a man can pull 500lbs of coal out of a mine in a day. It then says that that is for the good coal (smith quality) and that “regular” coal costs 15sc for 2,000lbs. This might imply that a man can pull twice as much cheap coal out of a mine as he can good coal. While there might be some truth to this, double is not a fair estimate, and it wasn’t meant to be. The cheaper coal is actually strip mined and therefore does not need to be carried out of a mine. Hope that makes more sense.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More on Estimates

Yesterday’s post seemed a little harsh, and I want to make sure no one thinks I’m mad. I am a little frustrated, because I failed to get my point across. Let me give you two examples:
How much time does it take a modern factory to make a car? How many cars does a factory turn out per year? Therefore how much money does a car company make in a year? Starts kind of easy you think, right. The engineers know how fast the assembly line moves, and the cost accountants can tell you how much labor goes into each car. Nope, they can’t. They use averages. and that doesn’t consider all the different options which also alter the time needed. They can tell you how many they made this year. They can give you an assumption of how many they hope to make next year, but it is only an assumption. As to how much money they will make, sorry! lose, hat’s anybody’s guess. Guys work full time trying to estimate those tings, and these are cars made to exacting specifications.
More appropriate example - Our most basic: You plant two bushels (total of 120lbs) of wheat seed on an acre and you get eight bushels (480lbs) of wheat at harvest. The whole book is based on this formula. What happens if there isn’t as much rain this year? What is the result of manuring the fields? Will that result change if you fertilize with compost or with ox manure? Is this the right soil for wheat? Is this the year the locusts come through? A volcano blew its stack 120 miles away sending all sorts of volcanic ash into the air, and some settled on the farm. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Has this field been properly prepared? Are the farmer’s children weeding the field? What if they are mostly playing and only weeding half heartedly? Are the yields different in Texas and California?
The point is that we believe in the Chaos Theory, or at least in some variation of it. There are too many variables that affect the outcome for us to ever properly understand the formula. We gave the best estimates we could based on the research we had and then explained it in the best manner we could at the time. Some mistakes were made, mainly in the style of explanation. Hope you liked it anyway!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Average vs Assumption

Just got a new review of Grain Into Gold. The guy gave us 4 out of 5 stars and it seems that 2 of 5 is more normal for him, so I guess I should just be quiet and be happy. But (you heard that coming didn’t you), he said that he wanted cold hard facts, and we used too many assumptions. The truth of the matter is, we called most of our averages assumptions. Several times we said that we were using averages and averages were by their very nature not reliable. Why did we do that? Because we felt that giving a price list with ranges for everything from an apple to a house would be more difficult for a game master to use than a list of absolutes crafted using assumptions. I’ll bet there are some folks who would disagree with our decision.
Hey look, I have nothing against this guy and his opinion, but it’s kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. Someone had emailed me asking my thoughts on the amount of space a herd of cattle took up. My response was that it would depend on the space. I’m using 10 acres per head because it’s a rough average I’ve seen. Is it an assumption - Sure! It is an assumption based on the number of head various Wild West ranchers had compared to the number of acres they had. Is it valid for a land more similar to medieval France? No, probably not. Is it valid for dairy cows? (that was a reply question) Honestly, I don’t know. I was just trying to figure out Forsbury and Honsdeck. Is this a fair example of why I can only use averages and not absolutes? I hope so.
There are no black and white answers in agriculture and fewer still in manufacturing, especially when you’re dealing with hand crafting. Throughout Grain Into Gold we tried to give you the reasoning behind the numbers we were using. The point of that was so that you could alter the results depending on your world. A lot of you bought Grain Into Gold. Thank you! Really! But remember please, it is really intended to form a base that you modify according to your specifics. Some GMs will just use the price list as is. Others will do more work. I hope we helped both.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

First Shot

Hey everyone. We're going to give the whole blog thing a try. This way we can make lots of comments about the little things that would never make it into our books. Give us a couple of weeks to try and figure this all out, but we hope we'll get the hang of it and make it a great tool for us and for you.