Saturday, July 31, 2010

Selling Magic Items

Question for you GMs out there - Have you ever let your PCs sell magical weapons? What about spell books? I don’t think this is too rare; I think it is common in most games. What happens to those items? If the party fights a demon summoner and finds his spell book, they would most likely sell it if they couldn’t use it (and maybe if they could). So some guy buys the book (and probably kills the middle man). He is now rampaging in the PCs homeland with demons. They put him down and get the book again. They’re stupid - they sell it again, of course, since the last guy is now dead, no one will pay well for it because they understand there is danger. So they sell it to a “passing merchant in a bar”. He either is or off loads it to a truly dangerous man who summons the demons as part of a major assault on the government of the city. #1 - the players seem to be endangering themselves needlessly. #2 - Shouldn’t someone (like someone afraid to buy the book) tell the government that the party is at fault for the demon invasion?
OK - go the other way - They dump a whole bunch of magic items on some merchant and he sells them to whoever he can - like the bandits who the players will be fighting next. Does the party just keep arming their opponents? At some level they will think how smart they are for selling the same items over and over again, but that would imply that you aren’t making the missions hard enough.
A while back in one of my campaigns a vorpal claymore came home from a mission. Most of the party was quick to try and sell it, but a couple of them said, “No way! I’m not going against someone with a vorpal claymore!” Funny how the melee types did not want to sell it, but the mage types weren’t worried. Hmm, there may be a moral in that somewhere.
Even fantasy characters have to learn - there are consequences to every action.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Violence part two

It occurred to me that some of you might know Fletnern and be wondering what I plan to do to cause this world war. The two big ideas I have are:
Myork has an army sitting in Scaret ready to rampage. Neither Garnock nor the Wembic Empire could withstand it on their own, but together, they would likely defeat it. Do the orcs and the Lats form an alliance or do they fall prey to the Anglic knights bringing liberty to the rest of the continent?
The on-line campaign experienced the invasion of giant ants. It took a great part of the Wembic Army to defeat the first wave. (Oh, you didn’t realize that was only the first wave?) Now the Wembic Empire is going to need a lot more help to fight back the major assault. I’m not sure if the first wave is all that will hit the main line Fletnern or if I need to have the main assault hit too. What happens to the mighty Wembic Empire if they throw away their strength saving the rest of the continent? Who would dare side with them even if it meant life or death? The truth is I think I have to destroy the city of Kaudelt if the main invasion comes through. That’s the rub!
For you real old timers, you might recall “The Divine Mission” a romp through the future of Fletnern. By accomplishing the mission (actually missions), they undid something in the past that prevented the Cult of the Three Priests from taking over the world. Same principal.

Some Really Good Violence

Ever want to put some really good violence into your campaign world, but fear that it will disrupt what you’ve worked so hard for? Try an alternate universe! What in the H E double hockey sticks is he talking about?!?
As many of you know, my world is Fletnern. It was started about 30 years ago (man that hurt - thinkin’ I’m that old). I have built and nurtured this world for 30 years, and the thought of having a massive world war that will likely kill a bunch of main characters (at least NPCs) and completely change most of what I have going currently is scary to me. Oh, I’d love to see it, but I don’t are risk it.
Then it struck me - parallel universe. Hey, if it works in the comic books, it should work here. A couple of minor changes to give it a slightly different feel, and advance a cold war into a war on the brink of exploding. Then, a friendly neighborhood time traveling titan (yes, I have more than one in the world) and the player character (or party of PCs) is replacing a recently assassinated version of himself on a different, but seemingly similar, world. Now, I can have my huge battle, and after the character takes part in the big war, he/she/it can go home - back to the normal world that still exists as I designed it, but with fond memories of ripping the world apart.
I have to tell you - I love this idea so much, I’m going to use it a lot more than once. Not only does it work fantastically well for one campaign, but it helps me keep one campaign’s huge action from completely disrupting another campaign’s normalized action.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Have you been watching Burn Notice? If not, you should. That is good TV! That’s not the point of this blog. The point is Barry, the money launderer. Barry is one of Michael’s contacts. Barry is not a nameless, faceless contact who simply supplies everything that Michael needs. He is an NPC that often needs to be convinced to help. In fact recently, they have pretty much had to bribe him every time, but he is willing to take a bribe (not always money) in order to commit crimes and put himself at risk. That is what a contact should do. Any other felon (non-contact) would not be willing to commit crimes for a bribe, at least not a reasonable one.
As I remember, Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch was the same. (S&H was BAD TV!) He never really wanted to help them, but with a couple off threats or a bribe of some kind, he coughed up the information they needed. Of course, if the bad guy was an enemy of his, then it came easier. (I haven’t seen S&H in decades, so forgive my memory.)
A lot of games have contacts as part of the game rules “Every character starts with two contacts”, but few of them ever really describe what these contacts are supposed to do. Are contacts willing to come with on missions? Are contacts willing to give the characters loans? I think Barry and Huggy are perfect examples. They are willing to put themselves in some danger for people they know and trust for some sort of reward. Example: I trust you well enough to tell you where the drug dealer lives if you give me $50. I would not tell someone I didn’t trust even for $50 because the drug dealer would find out and come shoot me.
But are they stagnant? They shouldn’t be. If your contact is an officer of the law, and the player character hands over an important criminal to the contact, maybe he gets a promotion. If the contact is a fence for stolen goods, and the player character kills the other fence in town, then the contact is going to have a really good year. The opposite is true too. If the fence tells the player where to find a thief, and the player kills the thief, the fence is likely going to have fewer people he can buy from.
These changes can be good and bad. A promotion gets a beat cop off the streets, and tougher to get street info from, but it will help him get other info, assuming he still deems it a good idea to deal with the player. These contact examples I’m using may seem like modern examples, but it works in fantasy too. City guards act remarkably like modern police. In many campaigns, enchanters are not willing to deal with characters who are not their contacts. Who would be dumb enough to sell a magical sword to a barbarian who is trained in using it to kill? Why would the barbarian not kill him and take the stuff from him? Some spells might be dangerous to cast or illegal. It would be nice to have a long range teleporter as a contact if the city guards are chasing you.
The reason I want you to care is that contacts greatly enhance the role-playing aspects of the game. They bring the city settings to life. Don’t let them be sycophants and don’t let them be meaningless. Let them become minor recurring characters that can really add life to the campaign. Once you do, they can often become mission givers as well!

100 Towns

Well, we said we were going to be better about pushing out product this year and so far so good. 100 Towns just hit the electronic shelves at RPG Now and e23. Seriously, this is not just a simple little list. It’s 20+ pages of brief descriptions of 100 different kinds of towns. It’s what you need in a form you can read in a minute. Yes - this is for you Mr. GM off the cuff! Oh - and its $1.99, so it’s in your price range!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


One of the optional rules that was designed years ago, but never published (boy there are a lot of those!) was the concept of the “natural”. It started with Convergence aka Alien Armageddon aka that modern LQ game with the aliens. One of the races was a snake centaur - torso, head and arms of a man (sort of) with the body of a snake. Some of these guys had natural defenses: poison fangs, tail spines, some sort of carapace; but the natural defense had to be taken at character creation. This was something they were born with, not something they could train in later. This started me down the road of other things you’re born with. One of the first was a 10 point skilled called “Noble Birth”. Yep - It’s what you think. In a role-playing setting, knowing whether the person is of noble birth can matter. No, not in combat, but Legend Quest is after all a role playing game and not simply a combat system. There was also the 10 point skill - Natural Beauty. These were the people so darn pretty that it affected their social skills. It could be good or bad, because it’s not like ugly folk like those who are vastly better looking. Natural Beauty led to Exceptional Natural Beauty (OK, that’s not the name, but I still haven’t figured out what I want to call it). The exceptional one is a 25 point skill and is twice as good as the other one. These are like the Helen of Troy folks where entire countries go to war to get them back. (Side bar - Don’t you hate when they put some skinny chick in as Helen and tell you how gorgeous she is, when you’re thinking, “Damn girl, eat! There are 14yo boys with more chest than you.” - Please excuse the inappropriateness of that last comment.)
Well this led to Royal Birth - a 25 point enhancement of noble. It also led to the concept of “naturals”. Everybody’s brain is wired a little differently. Some folks pick up certain things better than others. Why not have a character who had a natural affinity for a particular skill? Think magical power or swords. The idea is that the character would get the first skill level for free and every skill level afterwards would be cheaper to buy. Of course this would come at the cost of buying the “natural” talent. It can still only be purchased at the start of the character. To be honest, I haven’t figured out the point cost of this nor the benefit. I haven’t had enough new characters being played to play test the game balance of it. I have thought about just assigning (randomly) natural skills to every character and not telling them until it seemed appropriate. Everybody has to be good at something, don’t they?
Oh, there’s more. What about 0-point skills? Here’s what I mean: You would pick from one of the following faces: Attractive (mild - not like natural beauty), Plain (nothing special), Baby (good for carousing and acting innocent, but bad for leadership), Everyman (the kind of person who very easily melts into the crowd), etc. The idea was to start forcing the players to define their characters a little better, while not distorting the game. These “faces” would be very mild in effect, but there would be an effect. Yeah, there would be Ugly and Sinister too. Sinister - great for intimidation, bad for carousing.
So - Take this as a sneak peek at the optional rules, should they ever come out. First - Book of Wishes. It has been formatted and we’re checking the formatting and some edits now. Some of the artwork is showing shadows and our print guys cannot figure out why. (Not there in the original product, but magically appearing in the pdf version. VERY frustrating!) Anyway, at long last, we seem really close. BoW will hopefully show that while we’re doing a lot of generic stuff, we have not forgotten LQ, nor will we ever!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Dark Side

Assuming you’ve read our stuff (particularly Forge of Imagination), you’ve seen that we strongly support the concept of taking ideas from others, but making them your own. There’s a “dark side” to that:
I admit it - I’m a child of the Star Wars generation. I remember playing on the front porch of a guy who later became a play tester for us (wow - that one is a convoluted story) marveling at his new Boba Fett figure. I saw all three of the original movies in the theater with my parents because I wasn’t old enough to drive. So I guess it makes sense that when I think of spells, I envision laser beams. Cast a life drain spell, I see a laser beam reach out and strike the bad guy. Cast a fireball, I see a laser beam that explodes at the far end. But it really shouldn’t be that way. I’m working really hard to change my way of thinking. I’ve decided that spells should (as often as possible) look more like clouds. Magic is supposed to work outside of material physics, so a congealed, amorphous shape with power in it, seems to fit. It’s kind of H. P. Lovecraft too.
Or how about this - a rip in the fabric of space. I really wanted to use “rent in the fabric of reality” but that seems too flowery. I’m working on the stats because while writing this I thought of a cool spell: Ghoulish Hand - conjurer spell - This spell causes a rent in the fabric of reality through which a ghoulish hand emerges to claw and tear at an enemy. The hand will appear at one of the least advantageous points for the target (usually behind). The conjurer opens the portal for the hand, then the hand will attack as well as it can. The conjurer needs to sustain the spell but not direct it, unless he wants to move the portal, then he must take an action to close and reopen the portal. This is an action, but does not require a new casting fatigue or success roll. See, no laser beams.
The other thing I want to do is have precognitive sword fighters. The problem is that it keeps making me think of the Jedis, and I don’t want that. Imagine how cool it would be to be able to use mentalism to predict your opponent’s moves and then counter them. But I don’t want guys walking around saying, “These are not the halflings you are looking for.”
Don’t succumb to the Dark Side. Keep other people’s ideas out of your game (unless their from Board Enterprises of course! and of course unless you have made them "your own"), and the game will run a lot smoother! Come to think of it, maybe I should keep other people’s stuff out of the blog. Nah!