Saturday, September 25, 2010


With Book of Wishes about to be released, we wanted to go over a couple of things in the book. Let’s start with familiars. Most fantasy enthusiasts are familiar with familiars. These are the little spell casting assistants that some spell casters make use of, but should one die, the magical and emotional toll is severe. It’s so severe, that we don’t think you should take your familiar into combat. That’s not really what they’re for. You’ll notice that there aren’t any sorcerer familiars - That’s because those guys throw fire balls at each other. Fireballs kill familiars, and that would wipe out the sorcerer pretty effectively!
Druids, conjurers and necromancers can have familiars. With the conjurers, it makes the most sense - summon your familiar and have it aid you in the bonding of some more powerful creature. With druids, it is a little more of the forces of nature concentrated in one of nature’s creatures. The druid familiars can be a little tougher than the others, especially if you choose a wolf or something like that, but to have your familiar attack in melee would be the height of stupidity. Necromancers are more like the conjurers - especially the undead masters. Here the familiar would assist in making the skeletons and zombies more powerful.
So how do you sneak in a familiar when you want one in combat? Well, protect it. Familiars need to be in physical contact with their spell casters. This rules out non-corporeal forms, but if you wanted to bend this rule, that would be a great defense. How about an arcane tower? Very good defense, but the familiar does count as an area of effect and is not considered part of the spell caster. How about ingenuity? I once had a familiar that posed as the necromancer’s shadow. Sure, he had two shadows, but when guys bust down the door and start flinging arrows, that isn’t the kind of thing they notice. In fact they never did. So I changed it up. The next time, I gave the necromancers a second shadow, and told them about it. This time it was a decoy. The familiar was actually the little gargoyle looking thing on the necro’s cane, and therefore in his hand the whole time.
This article also made me think - How about giving an illusionist an illusionary familiar? Any mage worth his salt would immediately attack what he thought was a small, easily killed familiar, wasting precious attacks on the illusion and not on the illusionist. Ooh, I have to use that!!
Are these it? By no means! In the description of the necromantic familiar it says, “A normal familiar will take...” Guess what? Yep, we’re implying that there are “non-normal” familiars out there.
Take our advice - You don’t want to take 4-40 points of damage, just because you took your cute owl familiar into battle with you and someone who thinks better than you do shot it with a lightning bolt!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fletnern Question

How interested are you, our loyal readers, in following the progression of the war in Fletnern? (We know there are loyal readers out there because we get the site stats every month, so don’t try to hide!) It will take a very long time to play out, so updates would likely be monthly.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Heroes - Really?

The victors write the history books. I think the vast majority of us will agree with that. So what makes a hero? The motivation post got me thinking - Is hero worship a motivational force. Well, who do they “worship”? Let’s look at American heroes - but from a vantage point of if they had LOST.
George Washington - A favorite of mine when I want to infuriate someone - First - Washington was a “commoner” that many people of his time wanted to establish as King (of America). Therefore if the British had won the American Revolutionary War or the Minor Rebellion of 1776, Washington would be that commoner who tried to make himself king. He would also be the war criminal who broke every law of decency when he acted like a heathen and attacked a good Christian company of soldiers while they were observing the solemn holiday of Christmas. After his horrifying breech of the established armistice, he was promptly spanked and sent running back across the river. Let’s not forget the slave owning and the “funny” hemp growing.
Benjamin Franklin - an eccentric madman who invented a couple of clever contraptions, but nearly killed himself in his research on multiple occasions. Spent years as the French Court Jester in his silly fur garb. (always depicted like a white savage)
Nathan Bedford Forrest - Already a hero to some and villain to others. Was he the first Grand Wizard of the KKK or was he a military genius who might have won the Civil War for the Confederacy had he been given a chance.
Rosa Parks- - Some loony crab ass was arrested for causing a disruption on the bus. And then she would promptly be forgotten.
JFK - war hero and new hope for our nation (at that time) or philandering son of a rum runner who never accomplished anything in political office. A beautiful example of it all matters who is writing the history books and how they wish to portray someone.
Are these my opinions? No! at least not all of them. The point I am trying to make is NOT that these people had flaws, but instead it is only the way that we remember history that makes someone a hero or one of the forgotten masses. I think that has a huge impact on the ways heroes should be treated in fantasy worlds. It is less the feats accomplished then it is whether or not the song(s) about him are good tunes.
We could go on for days, but think about some of these guys who are typically remembered as villains, but were someone’s hero in their day: Hannibal, Napoleon, Rommel, Pete Rose, Jim Kelly (see you don’t remember - four consecutive Super Bowls, but no wins). Our apologies to Jim Kelly who has never been a villain to anyone, but is simply used to demonstrate what happens when you don’t get to write the history books.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How to restrict magic items

For those games where the only magic items (or the only cool magic items) are given as treasure by the GM, restricting magic can still be challenging. How do you give them stuff without giving away incredible power? Here are a couple of ideas I had:
Give them winged bracers. This gives them the gift of flight, but they cannot use their arms while flying. Sure they can scout, but they cannot swoop in and hack with a sword. The concept is that trying to fly and fight would be like trying to fight while kicking with both legs - You are going to wind up on your butt!
A magical item that allows you to grow to giant size. Instead of giving the puny human giant strength, make him grow in order to get it. That can be a restriction in and of itself. Furthermore, the body cannot take the strain of becoming huge all the time, so there is a “cool down” between uses of the giant sized abilities. You could have the cool down based on Endurance, where a higher Endurance had a shorter cool down, but I think it would be more fun to based it on Willpower (or Wisdom or whatever) How many warriors do you know with a ton of Willpower?
The magic item has trapped the spirit of waterfall off Mount Kickapu. In order to access the item’s massive water based powers, you must first attune yourself to the spirit, by going to his home atop Mount Kickapu. I like the quest driven magic items. Another is to give them a minor powered sword, but if they plunge it into the eternal flame on the altar of Rsnefaria, it will gain far more power.
The challenge is always to give the bad guys stuff that the heroes have to fight against without necessarily giving those items to the players after the game. Maybe they’re not willing to travel to Mount Kickapu. How many encounters does an enemy giant man have to last? One. How many does the PC need to survive? Lots! Therefore limiting the item’s activation grants more power to the enemy than it does to the player.
Any more ideas?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Adventurers vs. Soldiers

As you can tell from the last post - I’m working on an upcoming war in my game world (Fletnern). There is a good chance that if a major battle breaks out, it could be “adventurers” vs. soldiers. So what? It matters. The adventurers will likely have seen more action than the soldiers, and will therefore be assumed to be more “veteran” and have better skills. But they also need to be skilled at a whole number of things, where soldiers can be a little more focused on their martial skills and still do OK. Therefore skill-wise, they are likely equal.
Adventurers often have magical weapons. That should give them an advantage. But on Fletnern, some of the troops do supply some of their soldiers with magical stuff too. Still, slight advantage to the adventurers.
Most of the soldiers will be doing this because they have some patriotism, whereas the adventurers may have opinions, but will likely see it more as a job, a job they can get just as easily in another town. Fierce loyalty vs. mercenary greed. Advantage Soldiers.
Here’s the big one, and one that will howled at by the various players (and maybe you too): Soldiers drill in tight formations. Adventurers don’t. Adventurers often use long swords and battle axes, whereas soldiers will be tightly packed with spear and shield. In following commands, in moving as a unit, as staying within the boundaries of the camp (and not getting picked off), in not getting in front of the firing archers - the soldiers have a definite advantage. An advantage so great, that it should be able to wipe out the adventurers.
But wait - look at most FRPGs and you’ll see that “men-at-arms” are low level and lack any real power. It is the adventurers that should rule the day. Well, if that’s what you’re FRPG says, you need a new game! I’ve already admitted that the more experienced adventurers would have more skills than the soldiers, and might even be better weapon’s masters than the soldiers, but the efficient fighting force that acts as a unit will be vastly superior to a ramble of skilled swordsmen running all over the battlefield getting in each others’ way. Sure, I’m exaggerating a bit, but let’s think about a modern example. African/Arab pirates against a modern naval vessel. Yeah - fire a grenade and run! Is that what this fantasy era battle will look like? Could be!