Sunday, January 31, 2010


OK, so we’re about to release A Baker’s Dozen Villains. These Baker’s Dozen supplements will be generic ideas, fully developed to be dropped into your game world. So we’ve been brainstorming what would and would not work here. Religious sects comes to mind. Most fantasy games assume that the worship of each of the pagan gods is basically universal. (At least all the game worlds I’ve seen - besides Fletnern of course.) This is actually a very foolish idea. Few if any would even have a central point of authority. How do you keep everyone believing the same things and worshipping in the same way without some sort of hierarchy? Now, you could say that the gods themselves instruct their clerics and priests as to how to worship them, but that’s pretty heavy handed - at least more heavy handed than I’m willing to go along with.
What does it matter? Well, think back to Earth history. Factions amongst the Christians caused wars throughout the Middle Ages. Hey, what about the Crusades? But most Christian groups at least tolerate each other now (praying there are no bombings in Ireland this month), right? You don’t need to go back into history to see what the Sunni and Shi’a are doing to each other. This may be a broad generalization, but the more people are alike, the more likely they are to disagree.
So the point is that different sects of the same religion not only argue with each other, they are likely to go to war against each other. What happens in a fantasy environment with the gods directly involved then? Does the god choose a side and then abandon the other side? Wow, what an opportunity for a different god to step in and continue the conflict.
Want some ideas? Those who play my games likely know that Shade is the goddess of death. There are sects that believe that by killing people, they are making Shade happy. There are sects that see death as simply one of the agents of change, and insist that Shade is not the goddess of death, but instead the goddess of change and even invention. There are sects that fall back on the stories of how Shade and Manoto led the troops of Brakin in wars against the elder gods and how this brother and sister were the heroes of those wars. These people see her as one half of a team of war gods. Sure, war gods cause death, that’s why those others are confused and see her as a goddess of death. What does she think? Well, she’s not real thrilled with the killers, because they cause more work for her. But every group that worships her brings her more power, so why should she dissuade any of them?
OK - You don’t like my examples? Yeah - he created things just to prove his point. OK - Take Hades. In the Disney movie Hercules, he was the main villain. A flat out bad guy bent on universal domination. In Xena, he was a plotter, but basically wanted to be left alone. He was typically seen as one of the good guys (or at least neutral) while Ares was the bad guy. In Percy Jackson, he is one of the “Big Three” and is a rival of Zeus and Poseidon. His offspring have done some evil in the world, but again he is more on the side lines, but still not the bad guy. Three different takes on the same god, all within the same generation. Now of course we aren’t worshipping him, but how easy for a person to spin the characters to suit their own needs. Even a well meaning person would do that. Can you imagine what would happen if a local priest felt he could change things a bit to make his lot in life better? But of course, priests in small communities are community leaders, more like politicians. We all know that politicians can be trusted!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


This blog has been anything BUT consistent. We’re aiming to change that. In a previous post, I said I was shooting for four or five posts per month, but didn’t want to commit to weekly. Well, I’m going to shoot for weekly now! The plan is that a new post should show up every Saturday.
We’re pretty happy with how things are going on many levels. Our hit rate on the page is solid, and our hit rate to the advertisers is fairly good as well. (Please keep supporting those advertisers!!) We would prefer if this was a two way street, you know - you use the comment button. We’ve had a couple of folks complain that they had problems when they hit the comment button, so we might have to experiment and check that out. You are encouraged to join in the discussion! even if you disagree with me. I likely won’t change my opinions, but I’ll at least acknowledge that someone might think differently. Every gaming group is different; some things won’t work for every group or every game.
Board Enterprises has been a nice business for my family ever since it began back in the early 90s. For patches of time, we’ve let it roll with with very little guidance. In 2010, I’m really hoping to put some extra effort in, and rebuild the base in order to take the company and Legend Quest up a notch, at least back to where it was before Magic the Gathering.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bad Guy Motivation

I was thinking about it, and it seems to me that most bad guys are motivated by greed or anger (wrath). They either want to take something from someone else, or they want to kill. Doesn’t that leave five other deadly sins? I did actually run a game once where the bad guy’s motivation was gluttony. Granted he was the evil spirit of gluttony, so I doubt that one will work too often. What about sloth? Well, there are a lot of people who do a lot of work while trying to avoid doing work. My mind slides toward slavery or the summoning of demons, either of which might make good adventures. Lust? Well, yes, there are definitely ways that lust can be the motivation behind a bad guy (or girl). Rather than get into trouble, we’ll let your mind wander on that one alone.
The point of this posting is this: Pride and Envy are likely the most common motivational forces in the modern world. Let’s speak only in generalizations (that means I’m claiming that I’m not talking about any one person or group of people): More people are interested in doing better than their next door neighbors than they are in doing well. People who have never wanted a riding mower in their life, feel compelled to get a new mower, because their next door neighbor just did. Don’t believe me? Ever seen a grownup drool over a Lexus? Ever talk to someone and find out that they hate that other guy, but you realize that they hate him because of who he’s dating and not anything he’s actually done?
Let’s play some angles on this: The king of XYZ declares that his daughter is the most beautiful in the world and any knight who wishes to claim her hand in marriage must prove himself through some fantastic accomplishment. Pride huh? You betcha! So what? (We ask that a lot don’t we) The neighboring kingdom is going to be pissed. They think their princess is the most beautiful, or they hate the fact that their neighbor is flaunting his obviously better looking daughter. Maybe they see it as a slap in the face of their horse faced princess. Maybe they pay the party to mess up the questing knights. Maybe they kidnap the princess. Maybe they have a female adventurer prove herself better than the questing knights and then take the princess, or a male knight who wins her and dumps her.
Lesser example: Kingdom ABC is known for growing the most succulent fruit in the world. Kingdom DEF wants someone to go and steal the seeds to their trees, and bring it back, so they can have the most succulent fruit.
The world’s most perfect diamond has been found in Smith County. Count Jones wants it - not because it’s valuable, but if he can convince people that the best diamonds in the world come from Jones County, all of his stones will increase in value.
See where we’re going here. Focusing on why they do it, can give you some really cool twists on missions. It won’t always change the mission itself, but it can make the mission seem different to the players. Perception is more important than reality here! Just think about it. Greed and wrath are not the only motivational forces in the world. Oh, yeah, love and all that too - blah blah blah.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back in the Day

For those of you who might not have known Board Enterprises “back in the day”, we’re putting the review we had in Dragon Magazine back on the web site. Unfortunately, when this review came out giving us enormous advertising, we had neither the proper distribution nor the proper advertising to take advantage of it. Would our lives have been different if we had been properly prepared? Probably not, but you never know. Shortly after the review came out, Heather joined the team and things started taking off. She got us the distributors and even started getting the advertising handled. I’ll get some images of the old ads scanned and on the website too. That will be pretty cool. Let us know if there’s anything else you want to see on the web site. We’ve gone through at least six different plans for it since we lost our auxiliary site. We’ll listen!