Sunday, December 29, 2013

What would I change if I could?

Legend Quest has been going strong for over twenty years now, so I am not ready to turn anything within the game too much on its ear. However, over the last couple of weeks there have been a couple of things that jumped out at me - things I kind of wish I could change.

1 - I’m still upset with myself for making Seduction a 6 point skill while making Carousing and Etiquette 3 point skills. Feel free to change that in your game!
2 - A copper coin is worth too much. If you have Grain Into Gold, then you’ve seen that onions (for example) cost 0.4cc per pound. Cabbage is 0.3cc. Now in Rhum (and therefore most other areas of my game world) I have introduced the “bit”. It’s a quarter of a copper coin. This worked extremely well, because if you know the Wild West, you know that two bits are a quarter of a dollar. Well, when I created Rhum and Legend Quest back in the early 90s, I use to say that a silver coin was worth about $5, thus “two bits” of a copper coin would have been 25¢. Well, now with Grain Into Gold and the other products due out in 2014, that doesn’t work. It especially doesn’t work because of inflation. Anyway - There is no real way to buy something small. You can invent a much lower value coin for your world, but the truth is that no money changer would bother making them - There isn’t enough profit in it to hammer out the coins themselves.
3 - This one is a little easier to fix: An axe used to chop wood is clearly a two-handed weapon, but an “axe” in LQ is a one-handed weapon that does 1½S damage with a Strength Needed of 5. So, just assume that there is another thing, often called a “wood axe”, that is a two-handed weapon. This has a SN=4 and does 1S. It is also of tool strength (if made for a lumberjack, just standard for a home). If you don’t understand tool vs. standard vs. combat ready, you may want to take a look at the Optional Weapons supplement.

As I think of more things I’m unhappy with, I’ll post those too.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Killing - Do you have to?

I remember my very first FRPG game session. My first character (priest/healer type) died in the first room. So we rolled up new characters and went back at it. Second character - a mage type - put the spiders who had killed the last character to sleep and we won the first room. While they were asleep, I killed them. Every time I put something to sleep, I used my dagger and “cut his throat”. It was just the thing to do. Now I did question my GM the first time. I asked if that was OK, and he assured me that I could still be a “good” person and slit throats. Well I’m not 12 anymore and I don’t agree.

Do we have to always kill people in FRPGs? Look at the classics, stories like the Three Musketeers and Ivanhoe. They don’t always kill the bad guy. OK, sometimes it bites them in the @$$, but sometimes it works out for them. I wish that there was a little more surrendering in games, and less slitting of throats. Maybe a little capturing. But why would a FRPG character not kill someone?

1 - Ransom. The main income of low born knights was the capturing and ransoming of enemy knights. It got so out of hand that there were battles where one side would be losing their forces because they were off protecting the prisoners they had already taken. If player characters can make money, they can be incented to do things.
2 - You don’t want to be cold blooded. In my campaigns, if you cold bloodedly kill people, it affects your Carousing and other social skills. Psycho killers make themselves known, even if it is just that cold or crazy look in their eyes. Want to be the face man for the party and talk to all the locals? Better not be slitting throats.
3 - Because like begets like. In other words, if the campaign world is built on the idea that ransoming and capturing are the way to go, then if the party is ever overwhelmed, they don’t need to be killed. They can be captured. Maybe there is someone who can pay a ransom - Maybe one character is released to gather funds. I have successfully captured an entire party and forced them into indentured service - making them perform three missions for their captors. They were both mercenary forces in a merchant war, so there was nothing personal about it.
4 - Because people you let live owe you. If you think you’re going to try this, let the first guy they let go give them something. Maybe he reveals an ambush, tells them who the secret enemy is, appears out of nowhere to show them a secret passage when they are about to get their butts kicked, whatever. If the first time they let someone live, he comes back with a bigger force and attacks, then they start thinking, “Well that was stupid - should of killed him.” So be overly generous and hope to convince them of the new normal.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Your Army is Doing What?

I often struggle with having massive standing armies in fantasy worlds. As you probably know from this blog - I have a tendency to dwell (probably too much) on the mundane things like feeding people and housing people. Having a large group of guys sitting around unproductively (between wars) is a drain on the entire community.

Wait! Don’t think I’m ignoring the importance of an army, whether it be fantasy or real. What I’m really saying is that letting soldiers sit around and do nothing is really bad! “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Leaving a massive group of well-armed and well-trained guys to get bored will end in disaster, or at least a military coup. So what do you do with them?

Before we get into soldiers, I want to stress the use of militias. Most of my fantasy kingdoms seem to have very few soldiers, but they have a trained militia. Militias allow for two things - peasants who are not push overs and a swelling of the army if the kingdom is ever attacked. These are good things! The army may be 2,000, but with the militia it is 10,000 trained (or at least semi-trained) soldiers - much more difficult for the invaders to take advantage of.

OK, so soldiers, between the wars. The main pursuit of soldiers if sentry duty. Sentries stand a post and look for danger, but there are several variations on how this can work. They could be wall guards, literally walking the walls of the castle or city wall. This is boring work; watch out for idle hands. They can be border guards, standing sentry at the kingdom’s boundaries. Here they are often the guys supporting the customs and tax officials. A tax collector standing on the border is not going to be able to collect from a caravan with dozens of guards, but a tax collector backed by two platoons of armed and ready soldiers stands a far better chance. But there are also those soldiers who’s job is to patrol the forests and middle lands, typically for bandits. This is a sentry job too, just a moving one. Most folks probably think this is what soldiers always do between major wars, but there is so much more they could be doing.

- Construction - The Roman Legions were great builders. They built the roads and the walls. Some folks believe that Hadrian’s Wall was built simply to keep the legions busy so they wouldn’t have time to think about assimilating with the Scots. Today we have the Army Corps of Engineers. They build all sorts of major projects, though they probably are not a material part of our forces (by numbers). So the precedent is definitely there to have soldiers building stuff.

- Messengers - Does your fantasy world have a postal service? If so, who’s carrying the messages? Can they be trusted? Letting military units carry the messages, especially if they are cavalry, gets the job done, keeps the soldiers busy, protects the message by force, and allows the unit to review region (checking for those pesky bandits and poachers).

- Police - Soldiers are not police. Soldiers fight (at least typically - I know this whole post is about what else they do). Police keep the peace and investigate. That’s not the same thing. That’s why standard soldiers do not make for good policemen; it’s just two different disciplines. However, using soldiers as police is a time honored tradition. Soldiers are best used when extra police are needed - like when there is a riot brewing. At these points, no one really cares if the soldiers are too rough - they do what needs to be done. Do be careful here, because if your culture believes in people possibly being innocent, sending a bunch of spear stabbers to “capture” the suspects usually doesn’t end well.

- Athletes - I don’t want to get into whining over the “amateurs” that go to the modern Olympic games, but some countries clearly believe that they can employ athletes within the army. This may seem frivolous, but what sports are popular in your fantasy world? In mine, it’s mainly what we see as track and field events. Having military units who are training for running, jumping and throwing events, and then performing those events at public competitions - that’s the stuff that national pride is made of. Whether it is unit against unit or kingdom against kingdom, these events keep the soldiers busy and keep the public entertained. I do not advocate gladiatorial competitions between soldiers.

What else? Any of a huge number of things! Construction might also include such things as digging canals, painting buildings, or building fences. What about ship building? There might be reason to have the soldiers trained as smiths and be making armor and weapons for themselves and for the militia. There is always training, but training can get boring pretty fast. Military exercises are less boring, but still training. Soldiers often have some fashion of first aid training - can they use that to help civilians in peacetime? What about firemen? Someone needs to pull down burning buildings, and soldiers are typically brave enough to do it. There are other fields as well. If you agreed with having military smiths, then having soldiers mine the iron or cure the leather seem reasonable next steps. In Forsbury, it is common to go from being one of the Baron’s cowboys to being one of his Border Watch (light cav).

Not enough? There is no rule that everyone has to do the same thing, so break it up a bit. Also remember that an army lives or dies on their logistics. Not to suggest that the soldiers take up farming their own food, but they might be active in moving barrels and cases of food around from ship to storehouse and from storehouse to barracks. Simply transporting goods around the city for their own purposes should keep quite a number of them busy at all times.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Royalty - Expanded

Here is a review of our product Royalty: The Royalty is another useful niche product from the people who brought us Grain Into Gold. It does what it purports to do: it comes with a boatload of NPCs. It's sadly not as much of a look at processes as Grain into Gold is – it's a collection. If you need a menagerie of connected NPC aristocrats of various sorts, many of which are relatively generic if not for the intricate family lines, then this would be a useful product. I find that the NPCs could've used some more expansion, and more of a variance – there's an awful lot of whining miscreants and cheeky gossips. Rating: [4 of 5 Stars!] Despite his criticism, he still gave us 4 stars. We take this criticism very seriously. Because Royalty was intended to be used to fill out the most commonly met people in a fantasy world court, there is an overabundance of courtiers and gossip mongers. In an effort to address this issue, we have expanded Royalty with 50 additional NPCs. These folks are the ones who may not be as visible or may be actively hidden. We hope this addresses your comments and keeps our customers happy! Enjoy! You can see Royalty - Expanded here.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Alchemist's Lab

Board Enterprises has published and released a new product - The Alchemist's Lab - A Guide to Magical Manufacturers In most game worlds, the alchemists sit in their dungeon laboratories and craft potions of all manners, sinister and benign. Typically, if they are in a major city, they are churning out healing potions for the adventurers. The same can be said of the enchanters, slaving away making magical swords and armor. But what do they do for themselves? Making magic is a difficult task, yet these brilliant researchers never seem to take the time to invent things that will directly help them. Even if all their doing is finding better ways to make the magical swords, they really need to spend a little time enhancing their labs. This book does that. Here you will find dozens of products and techniques that can be used to make making magic easier. For player character alchemists, this book is required reading. For GMs, it can be a wonderful source of background color, loot, and/or explanations for why you do or don’t allow the sale of magical items in your world. This book is written in a generic format, so that the items can be used in the widest range of magical role-playing games. This supplement contains: 51 pages of content. Artwork is kept to a minimum to deliver more to you the reader. over 250 different items in the price list - from the mundane to the highly magical All that for less than $4 The Alchemist's Lab on e23 The Alchemist's Lab on RPG Now

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Couple of Guys who Need Grain Into Gold

My son is a huge fan of the web comic Goblins. I have to admit, it has certainly brought a chuckle to me more than once. Link to this particular episode. You don't need to know anything about the series for this to be funny, just have played "those other games". If you have ever had that discussion around your gaming table - check out Grain Into Gold. This is a fantasy economy that actually works!

Cups (like for drinking)

There are numerous ways to try and get your players to get into the idea of role-playing. Sometimes it’s something small like forcing them to determine what kind of cup they want to use. After all in the fantasy world, there are no drinking fountains (that’s bubblers for you Wisconsin folks) and no Dixie cups. (for you Southerns, there are Dixie cups in the North and no one considers them racist.) So what do they use? In my fantasy towns, the fastest way to find yourself in the bottom of a well is to drink straight out of the bucket. So anyone who wants to drink something between meals needs to carry his own cup. The really Viking-like will want drinking horns, though they are kind of difficult to stand on a table. You might think that a wooden cup would be the cheapo version, but think about how tough it is to carve out a wooden cup without power tools. It’s actually a lot quicker to solder up a tin cup. Then again, ceramics are going to be the really cheap version. After all, they’re just mud that was properly fired after being molded in a matter of seconds by a skilled potter. But you have all sorts of ceramics: earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain, plus they can be glazed or not, and then can be in the shape of a cup or perhaps a stein, etc. Was it painted or decorated in another way? Don’t forget leather, whether it’s waterskins or hardened flasks. So what is each player going to pick for their character? What does it say about them? Further, it’s not just the players. What does the tavern keeper choose for his bar room? What does it say about his bar? Are glasses fancier then ceramic? Do steins show that this is a place for real beer drinkers? Were the leather jacks coated in water proofing that makes the beer taste different? And if you figure out what type of vessels you’re using but want to figure out what they are drinking out of those cups, take a look at 100 Bar Drinks for some ideas. It's got 5 stars, so we must have done something right.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Coins of Fletnern Review

Coins of Fletnern has been out for five years now. (WOW, time really does fly!) We recently found this review of the FREE product, and well, he liked us! Coins of Fletnern can be found (for FREE!!) at RPG Now and at Steve Jackson's e23


Hollywood - No, the one in Fletnern. It was named because it is a huge forest (“wood”) with a lot of holly. I have no idea why the Hollywood Hills were named that; I hope it is a reasonably similar reason. In any case, don’t criticize Fletnern for naming things what makes sense. I guarantee, there is no film industry in Hollywood; not even a group of actors. Do all your place names make sense?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why Enchantments Work the Way They Do

I wanted to explain a couple of things as a game designer. Try as we might, most people wind up being reactionary instead of, well, action-ary. I played many RPGs before I wrote Legend Quest. So I had a much better grasp of the pros and cons of certain gaming functions then Gary Gygax did when he first wrote D&D (and AD&D). That’s not a slam - I had the benefit of hindsight that he did not. I never liked the whole wands and staves thing. Case in point - the wand of fireballs. If the party gets one at lower level, it takes the game balance of restricting the number of spells a mage can cast and throws it out the window. Now the low level mage is constantly throwing one of the better spells in the game, instead of waiting until the most opportune time. On the other side of the spectrum, if higher level mage gets his hands on one, it is mainly useless because it only does damage of 6d6, when his spells are likely doing double that or more. At that point it is effectively a lawn mower for eliminating rabble you don’t care about. I forget if there was a level required or not, but I recall having an enchanter in the game open his shop during a siege of the city and a bunch of apprentices went walking out to the city walls and annihilated an attacking army. One item I did like was the staff of power/magi - I know - two different items, but they were very similar. As a GM, I would assign extra powers to these staves. Not only did it cast a whole bunch of spells for you, but when you cast your spells through it, it enhanced your spells - It made it as though you were a higher level caster. That was the way I wanted wands to work: They enhanced the magic you were using, not giving you magic you had never had before. It was this point that created the talismans in Legend Quest. In LQ, talismans (and they can be anything, including wands and staves) can add to the power of your spells or to the area of effect, range, or accuracy (or some combination). So there’s some strategy here, not simply putting nearly limitless power in the hands of a young mage. (For those of you who think 100 charges in a wand of fireballs is putting a limit on it have never actually played a D&D mage.) Honestly, the Jurassic Park concept of having to have some concept of the power (knowledge of science in their case) you are wielding instead of just wielding power that others developed and built on plays here. You cannot use a talisman in Legend Quest to cast a spell you never learned. Another one in the same style - I remember huge fights erupting around finding gauntlets of ogre power and/or belts of giant strength. Let’s say you have a fighter with a 18/88 Strength. You find ogre gauntlets, this will take him from a +2/+4 (I think) to a +3/+6. I would argue that the thief with a S 14 needed the gauntlets far more than the warrior guy did. After all, he would go from +0 to +9, not +6 to +9, and when those extra points were doubled or tripled in the back stabbing, the +6 damage went to +18. Clearly, the fighters opposed this idea. And I should have too, but not for the same reason. According to those rules, I could take a five year old and have him start heaving boulders. Again, I wanted Legend Quest’s magic items to enhance the player, not remake him. Strength or Agility items add +1, +2, +3 - not automatically go to Strength of 10. What’s the difference? I think Legend Quest’s use of enchantments gives power bump ups, and ones that can be controlled. The control lets you increase the power as you go, but in multiple ways. A character with a S 7 and a +1 enchantment could get a +2 strength enhancer and use character points (experience) to increase his attribute score. So yeah, that looks like he got a lot better, but it was only through the normal character progress and a touch more magic. I like to think that while our magic items are definitely beneficial, they don’t put the character completely outside the ability of a non-magically enhanced character to compete. Humility amongst player characters is important!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rant against that other game

You know what I hate? Alignments! You know what I hate more? Game writers who don’t understand their own games. Case in point - Chaotic evil or chaotic neutral creatures who have their societies and governments (rules to live by) spelled out. Guess what - Chaotic creatures wouldn’t form societies. They wouldn’t agree to live by rules. OK - I haven’t played that other game in decades; I was only reading something on a campaign for that game where it was talking about the slaadi, you know the CN “demons”. Look - Slaadi should not be able to form societies. Slaadi should not be able to be classified into a limited number of forms. Slaadi should be more like Lovecraft creatures where you cannot describe them and would never be able to understand their motivations. Lovecraft creatures - those are chaotic. I wish if those guys were going to pretend to write about these alignments, they would have some concept of what they were writing about!

Fads in Fantasy

Anyone who reads my posts will have seen that I like modern ideas brought into fantasy games, but only when they make sense. One thing I have added from time to time is the notion of fads. For you gold farmers out there who are thinking, “This is going to be another one of those posts about culture and who needs that in a role-playing game” stay with me. I may just thrill your gold lust. What’s a fad? Something that becomes culturally significant, but only for a short time. Why do adventurers care about fads? Well, because depending on the fad, they could make a huge amount of money. When a fad hits, the merchants go crazy. They are willing to pay any sum and risk anything in order to fill the market (and make huge profits). For this they most always need adventurers. Why do they need adventurers? Well, even in the most mundane fads, the fad desired product will become so expensive that the risk of robbery will skyrocket (as will the cost of robbery). So that dull caravan guarding mission now becomes an actual adventure. What is the fad item? Well, they are seldom common things. Some of the fads I’ve used have been certain colored clothing (the dyes become extremely expensive - this one is more mundane), bearskin rugs (certainly a good adventurer type of product), and dragon meat (which is really an adventurer required product). But think for a moment: bearskin rugs need to have as few holes in them as possible. Sword swingers are of no use. (Yes - I have actually had adventurers who using a touch of magic wrestled and strangled bears. Oh they got hurt, but they did the job.) With dragon meat - It’s not like it stays fresh for weeks on end. So you either need to find a local dragon (nearly impossible if there is an army around) or find a way to either transport it without spoiling or transport it extremely fast. These are the challenges that make what might seem like a grinding type of a mission into something with a little problem solving. The risk is always that the fad will end before you get back. Once it’s over, it’s over! This means that if they get lucky and do a couple of runs, the third one (you know, the one where they’ve got it down now and know what they’re doing) is usually a bust as the fad ends. So they make some money, but are often all whiney about missing that last opportunity. This is what keeps the game balance in check - prevents them from becoming Persian kings. Think about it. Not only is it a fun way to add some zest to your urban encounters, but it really can create adventuring quests, either working for others or out on their own.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Plagues, Disasters and War

Those who read my blogs know that I often suggest knowing things like where the lumber or food is coming from. I often argue that it is important, and I have a reasonably serious reason: natural disasters. The Great Fire of London followed a massive outbreak of plague the year before. (Don’t hold me too tightly here - I’m summarizing enormously.) Meanwhile, England was at war (mainly their navy) with the Dutch. With London in shambles, the supply lines (and I believe the shipyards) were of no use in the war effort. The tide of battle turned. So what? Well let’s think about your fantasy world. Imagine your players/party are fighting a huge war against the enemy. Their city is supplying men, arms, artillery, and logistics (rations) to the war effort. All of a sudden, the capital bursts into flames and 20-25% of the population dies. Maybe it was the enemy’s saboteurs. Maybe it was just lightning. Maybe it was a cow. (OK - Mrs. O’Leary’s cow did not start the Chicago fire, but that’s a different post.) What happens on the front lines? Well, forget getting reinforcements. Forget getting new supplies, and by supplies, I mean food and ammo. Can the military in the field truly take the men and time to start hunting the region for their own supplies and wood for arrows and javelins? All of a sudden, the military’s priorities are going to shift from winning battles to surviving. That’s why it should matter, even to the gold farmers out there. Unless they have some spell caster summoning up magical food for them, they might have to start thinking about starving too. And they will need to worry about their army starving. But this is the stuff of high fantasy. Now instead of scaling the walls to kill the enemy, they need to figure a way to steal the enemy’s supplies, and possibly catch those saboteurs. Maybe their healers need to return to the city to try to stop the plague, and their fantasy army is now without magical healing. Maybe they were expecting six new navy ships to come out of the shipyards and beef up the navy, but those ships either burned or are now heading out to try and get food to feed the civilians. An enormous number of issues could arise, and most of them would cause missions. What? Your cities don’t suffer from plagues and disasters? Really? Where’s the actions and adventure in living in a utopia that never has problems? You know, stuff happens outside of the adventures. Cool stuff! Stuff that matters to the adventures and the adventurers. One serious outbreak of plague could turn the tide of war. It happened all the time throughout history.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Starting with a HUGE Monster

Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching modern Godzilla/King Kong-like movies lately, but I’ve been thinking more and more about starting a campaign with a HUGE monster. Cloverfield probably did this best (on screen). There was this huge monster tearing up the city, and the civilians were challenged in various ways: dodging throw statue heads, explosions, climbing falling buildings, fighting off “lice”. When they actually encountered the huge monster it was game over, but if they could have avoided the thing, they might have made it out alive, at least some of them. I’m liking that kind of idea! I don’t want to give away what I plan to do (because my play-testers read this), but what if a huge dragon erupted out of the middle of the city? It has been in an egg, underground, incubating for centuries. Maybe it causes huge destruction but flies off at first, maybe distracted by a herd of cattle that look far more appetizing than all these stringing humans. The players would first have to deal with the chaos and collateral damage of the eruption and the battle between the dragon and the army. Then they might have to go down into the hole to see where it came from, only to find that some sort of mini-dragon creatures that have been tending the egg or embryo over the centuries. Maybe then they figure out why it hatched now. Was it a simple time bomb or did someone do something to release it? Assuming someone did something, now it’s time to kick their tail. Oh, and then somehow figure out what to do about the huge dragon itself. I don’t like the idea that they would actually fight it - It’s supposed to be too tough. Either they watch the army fight it, or they come up with a plan to lure it away. Then again, there is always the Godzilla vs. King Kong plan - find some other enormous creature that might be able to fight it for you. (Avatars and demi-gods, please apply here.) Anyway - That’s what’s been running through my mind! Sounds kind of cool, doesn’t it? Imagine low level characters, claiming they were instrumental in bringing down the most powerful creature ever to exist in your game. That’s the stuff of legends! Post-script - To run a mission where the characters are desperately trying to survive the carnage of buildings getting tossed around and rescuing people from blocks turned into bonfires by the dragon’s breath weapon, you need a game that lets you do things other than swing weapons. Please find such a game! If you have one - excellent! If you don’t, try Legend Quest. We pride ourselves on having hosted exciting games at major conventions where no one ever attacked anyone else. (The coal mine fire is the best known of these.)

Followers of the Faith

We published Gods & Demons because we knew that many role-players liked to have lots of gods to choose from. But there is a companion book that we probably won’t publish: Followers of the Faith. Followers is a book of religions. I don’t recall ever seeing a game world or role-playing game where there was more than one religion for a particular god. But let’s think about modern religions; the ones that agree most closely are the ones that fight over the more minor differences. Why wouldn’t that be the same in our multi-divine game worlds? Let’s do a quickie example: Marina is the goddess of water and the seas. The religion Marina the Bountiful sees Marina as the goddess who bring the fish to the fishermen and rain to the farmers. Waters of the Rain religion ignores the fact that Marina has anything to do with the seas and see her only as a rain goddess. Marina of the Rivers sees her as the goddess of fresh waters and believes she manifests as a huge catfish. Everpresent Aquatics (also known as Marina the Jellyfish) is a religion once again focused on sea water and sailors. They believe that Marina has an enormous number of tentacles, and each one follows those ships that she has blessed in order to keep them safe. But it’s more than just multiple religions for the same god - What about the religions that might revere more than one god? The best example of this is the War Twins: the brother and sister gods Manoto and Shade being worshipped as twin war gods, where most religions see Manoto as war god and Shade as the goddess of death. Who cares? Right, that’s the question we always have to answer. First off, for player characters, can they only worship one god? and if they do, what are the relationships with the other gods? Not every person who worships a particular god will see in them everything that everyone else sees. In other words, gods should not be one dimensional characters. For the game master, these little differences are typically the cause of religious conflicts. Sure, you can have the god of fire fight against the god of frost, but if you want civil conflicts, rivalries and even battles, you need people who worship the same goddess but in different ways. Look at Earth History, especially England. Think of the Puritans and all the problems they caused. (Yes, I blame the Puritans, yes, right before Thanksgiving when everyone pretends they were the victims.) If you want to add more to your game world, you need to diversify your gods and religions.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween 3: Decorating your Undead

I went on and on about how zombies aren’t tough. But they’re essential, right? So how do you make them tougher? Here are a couple of ideas on how to make skeletons and zombies different enough to seem like they are more dangerous. Not sure that every one of these actually makes them tougher!
1. Cover your skeletons in a glowing powder. This actually makes them easier to hit in the dark, but it gives them an additional eerie/horror quality that might be enough to make the civilians flee. They aren’t normal skeletons; no, they’re magical glowing skeletons.
2. Bolt steel and iron onto your zombies. Necros know about anatomy; after all, they play with skeletons all the time. They know where the bones are and would be able to bolt iron and steel pieces onto the zombies without “hurting” them. This can be as simple as armor pieces (assuming your game does not demand skill to use armor), or can be as easy as bolting a couple of horse shoes onto each hand, making the fist attack seriously dangerous.
3. Spiky zombies. Like the previous idea, place some manner of sharp object stick out of the zombie and tell it to wrestle people. While the zombie is on the enemy, damage will occur from the spikes. If they are barbed spikes, then the zombies could effectively weigh down the enemy, even if it has been re-killed.
4, Poisons. Undead are resistant to poisons, so why not outfit them with poison. Put a poison packet in the zombie’s mouth - every time it bites it will be coating its teeth with poison. Sharpen the skele’s finger bones and fill them with poison - kind of like a quill pen. The living have to be careful with poisons or they can get hurt, but the undead don’t have that issue.
5. Skeleton animals. Humans are not the best creatures for combat. Imagine how more effective a skeleton or zombie bear might be. Bigger (assumed more powerful) with naturally big teeth and claws. The zombie bear’s fur might even act as a natural armor. I’m against skeleton flyers, because their wings won’t work, but there is the possibility of skeleton bugs, even giant ones. After all, their carapace is part of their skeleton, so it would stay with them.
6. Thinking zombies. For one mission, I had a necromancer who used a “titan chemistry set” to create a drug that allowed zombies minimal thought. They became about as “smart” as skeles - still not independent thought, but not the total idiots they normally are. As such they could use weapons, were slightly faster and generally surprised the “good guys”. They weren’t that much more effective, but sometimes the unexpected is enough of an advantage.
7. Shadow mummies. I’ve been trying to flesh this one out (no pun intended), but I like the idea of mummies have some manner of shadow powers - maybe the ability to hide in shadows (magically, not like a thief). That one solid hit from surprise can turn a battle.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Halloween 2: Zombie Campaign

After going through all that on Are Zombies Tough, I thought of a good idea for a campaign. I have often said that there has to be something wrong with a person to make them an adventurer. Why would a normal person decide to risk their life for money? Are there really no better options for earning a living?

OK - so here is how this one sets up. The GM makes up a whole bunch of characters, but not adventuring types - civilian types. I know, those games that don’t recognize civilians make this hard. Might be time to switch to an actual role-playing game (like Legend Quest). Anyway - say there are a dozen playable characters, and the players take one or two each. Then their town is assaulted by a pack of zombies. The zombies are barely together. They wander the open town, attacking those they see, but can be found wandering in ones and twos and dealt with by gang ambushes. The GM should kill some of the playable characters not controlled by the players, just to show it can be done.

OK - put the survivors aside and next game session - a new town, a dozen new playable characters (again civilians) and another pack of zombies. This pack might be a little better organized, maybe they have a goal of some sort, like the church (probably where all the non-used playable characters are hiding). Again, team work and tactics should win the day, but now they understand that the zombies were not really attacking the town, but instead the church.

Third session, third town, third team of civilians, third zombie attack. This time, a necromancer is discovered and captured. Under questioning, it is revealed that he is a disciple of some evil god who is trying to have a war with the god who’s churches are being attacked. Yes, it took three attacks, but now they know there is a holy war brewing between the god of necromancers and the god of the farmers (a god of light? agriculture?, whatever).

OK, so now, the players get to look at all the survivors from the three towns and choose the “posse” that is going to go out against the necromancers’ base. Now they are adventurers. Now they can start thinking about arming themselves with real weapons and armor. Why do it this way? Well, every campaign needs to start somehow, and this beats the whole, “You all meet in a bar”. This writes their character history while starting the campaign. This team will find that the first necromancers’ base is only the tip of the iceberg. They will have to work against the cult to avoid a holy war, and possibly avert a civil war or necromantic coup. Once they accomplish all that, they will be mid-level adventurers and will likely stick together to adventure. They might also be approached as soon as this is done to take on another undead threat, being seen as the region’s local band of undead hunters. I may write this up as one of our Campaign Starter Kits, but you have all the ideas here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Halloween 1: Are Zombies Tough?

I like zombie movies; I really do. Don’t know why. Might be that the first horror movie I ever saw without getting nightmares (age=8) was Night of the Living Dead.

Anyway - zombies. You know the monsters in all the zombies movies? Yeah, they aren’t zombies. They’re ghouls. Zombies don’t make more zombies when they bite you. Ghouls do. So what do we know about zombies? They’re mindless. Well, if they’re mindless, then they can react. They can react to instructions given and react to stimuli (like getting hit in the head with a shovel). But they cannot plan.

Further, they should probably never get to attack from surprise, because they are too stupid. They would roar/moan before attacking. Now, you’re game might have them silent, and that would be cool. Adds to the eerie factor. If they are mindless - Then they should be affected by whatever non-skilled modifiers are in your game. They cannot have a skill with a weapon because they lack the ability to learn. Now you might be tempted to let them use whatever weapons they used in life (woodsman’s axe, pitchfork, etc.), but I don’t think that should be allowed either. Just because they didn’t throw it down when they became a zombie doesn’t mean they know what to do with it. In fact, some of them would probably try to claw or bite their enemy, even if they had a sword in their hand. I let people arm the zombies, but everything the zombies use is considered an “irregular weapon”. In other words, if a zombie swings a sword, it is most likely that it will use it like a club and not like a sword.

So they’re slow, easily avoided. They cannot effectively use weapons, reducing their attack even if they are considered to be strong. They are stupid, and in most games (Legend Quest included) smart adds to your ability to detect stuff around you. This means they are easily ambushed or tricked in other ways.

Do they have any strengths? Most zombies can take a beating, especially when compared to a civilian. They don’t bleed to death, they don’t get scared, and they don’t even care if lop off one of their legs. They’ll bite your kneecaps! Then again, role-playing wise: No one should have any problem killing one. If a zombie shows up at the house, no one is going to think twice about planting an axe in its head. “Right between the eyes.” This makes it more reasonable for civilians to “kill” them in cold blood. This works unless the zombie is someone you know/knew. Then it becomes incredibly difficult to attack it, even if you know it is no longer Grandma, but instead of a monster; it looks like Grandma! There is something to the intimidation factor. Here is a corpse, walking around. For people who don’t intentionally wander into tombs and dungeons seeking to risk their lives for money, monsters are scary. When confronted with a monster, you run away. As long as the encounter occurs in a far off dangerous place, the fear factor should be minimal. After all, the adventurers came here expecting monsters and bad guys; a simple zombie shouldn’t make them pee their pants. But if a mass of zombies starts wandering through town, the initial reaction should be to run away. Sounder minds may prevail and they may gather together to fight the zombies off, but flight before fight. Zombies make an excellent monster for civilians to face - for all the reasons given here. A little planning and you can ambush them. Their slow movement makes them easy to hit by those not experts in weapons. But do they stand up to seasoned veterans? Not really. Sure they take a lot of damage to put down, but not so much that they are a real threat - more of a distraction. What do you think?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Stipends or the benefits of being nobility

Let’s assume for a moment that there is a king who controls a kingdom 50 miles by 50 miles. In true feudal fashion, he has four counts who each control 25 mile x 25 mile tracts. Each count has five barons who control 125 sq miles of land. Each baron has five knights who control 5 mile by 5 mile portions of land. What if a count simply wants to build a town and a mill along a certain stretch of river? That piece of land is controlled by a knight who really isn’t cut out to manage land and peasants. So the count cuts him a deal: The count gives the knight a house in the capital and a stipend of 500 per year - forever! Why? Well, the count is sure he can break up the knight’s lands and charge far more taxes than he was getting from the knight, especially now that there will be a mill there. Probably makes 500 a year just on the mill and the rest is gravy. Meanwhile, the knight is now happily living in the more glamorous capital with income and no responsibilities. OK, fast forward a couple hundred years. There are three counts; the queen controls the fourth county. Many of the knights have had their lands taken away (in exchange for stipends) by all levels of nobility above them. The queen looks around her and her capital is filled with these supposed noblemen who are receiving these stipends and have been for generations. Now in the olden days, if a soldier did the kingdom a huge service, they would be knighted and given a shire, but there’s not land left to give. (There is, but she’s not giving any of her land away.) So she decided to knight someone and just give them a stipend, as though they had been given land and then she bought them off. There, now the new knight is on equal footing with the other lay-abouts. This isn’t uncommon - but what does it do for game masters? It creates a level of nobility who have nothing to do all day but pester the king/queen and attend court. While some nobles might have managers back at their lands administering to everything, these guys just get their money on the royal welfare system. Now in theory, they are collecting their fair share of income on their ancestral lands, but it gets harder and harder to tie the nobility to the reason for their titles. This actually gets complicated. Six generations later, you have someone who holds four titles, three of which are receiving stipends. Well, that might be interesting, but what does it really do for game masters? For those of us devoted to classic literature, the adventurers are always these well to do nobles who have nothing but time on their hands. They are already rich, or at least well off, and looking for something to do. They are bored at court and will happily take on missions for the queen (or king). They might start off as seemingly minor issues - diplomatic missions, etc. - but quickly turn into action packed spy adventurers dealing with foreign courts and exotic criminals. Meanwhile, you never have to worry about how they live, because the crown is making sure the stipend is delivered to their chief butler who is maintaining the home. This type of campaign isn’t for everyone! First - It demands that the players and their characters actually show some class. Barbaric behavior is not going to be tolerated at court. Just because someone is your enemy, you do not get to whip out your sword and behead him, especially not on the queen’s new carpet. Second - The action is downplayed and the role-playing is brought forward. It’s often more of a murder mystery type adventure - a whodunnit. While fighting can still be integral, it is not the end-all/be-all. This can be a lot tougher on the game master too. Now you have to actually develop personalities for all the bad guys, not just how many points to kill. But when it works ... it is a ton of fun and will keep your players interested for years! Board Enterprises is working on Lifestyles - a book that will allow game masters and player characters to declare how they live by picking their level of home, meals, etc. A couple of quick choices and you know what it costs to live between adventures. Stipends are a short cut when you want to look at things like this. The heir of an ancestral manor lord would easily have enough cash every month to live on without having to worry about finding a job or spending their loot.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Feeding Forsbury

A stream of consciousness blog entry: So I was trying to figure out what they eat in Forsbury - the main city for my main, currently running campaign. The easy answer is “beef”. The plains around the city are filled with cattle herds. Not only are there a lot of them, but they grow ‘em big in Forsbury; steers are generally 20% heavier than steers found elsewhere. But what else? Forsbury is a depot town - the caravans roll in, dump their cargos in warehouses, pick up different loads, and head back where they came from. So with that much trade and that many foreigners, there need to be a lot of different types of food around. The problem is, this is the plains. Not the worst farmland in the world, but not the best. And nobody is wasting good pastureland on an orchard. So what are they growing? Well, mainly feed for the livestock. Some snow falls in Forsbury during the winter, so there is definitely a need to have feed stored for the coldest months. With all those caravans rolling into and out of town, food is imported, which works for all the foreigners in town. But is there any fresh? Not really. There would be a small amount of fresh fruit available (seasonally - blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, both wild and domesticated), but almost all fruits would be preserved in some manner. This is both because locally produced is still several days away from the end user (without any means of refrigeration), and because of the caravan culture that expects everyone is constantly traveling. Think raisins, prunes and dried apricots. So do they have any fruits? Sure, but mainly as preserves and jams. They also drink their fruits in apple cider and wine. They do have vegetables, but again, the kinds that are “built to last”. Potatoes, carrots, turnips; root vegetables that will keep if stored properly. There will also be several styles of pickled vegetables. To be honest, I’m thinking I don’t know if I want to eat there, so let’s liven it up a bit. Protein - Here they know what they’re doing! Fresh beef is available, and possibly even to the upper lower classes. Now the poorer folks are probably buying beef bones for soups and stews, but the middle class folks should be able to have corned beef or beef sausage. One of the largest producers of pork sausages is in town, so all manner of those will be available as well, including fresh, dried, pickled and smoked. Walnuts and pecans are grown in the region, both wild and domesticated, so there will be a mess of nut recipes. (Sorry for any of you peanut fans, but peanuts are considered slave food and probably not sold to free people.) Just north of Forsbury, they have wheat fields as far as the eye can see, and breads (really rolls) are easily found. Just to the south, though not as prolific, are the fields of pasta wheat, and dried pastas would be easy to come by. No one really trusts tomatoes, so don’t think of a tomato sauce - more likely a cheese sauce over that pasta. This is just a start, and I can hear the gold farmers out there asking why it even matters. OK, They probably stopped reading before this point. It matters to the roleplaying. You cannot sit down in an inn and expect a fresh salad, especially not in January. It also matters for when the players go off-road. If they are chasing bandits through the “wilds” of Forsbury, what’s out there? Well, cattle and plains. Do they need to worry about riding through an irrigated field that might have hidden canals? Nope, just plains. Will the bandits have forests to hide in - not many. Not every region is built the same way, and now you as a GM know what this region is like, and can far better run your campaign through it. But no, none of this adds to the damage modifier on your sword.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What can be Gleaned?

I have been running campaigns in the campaign world of Fletnern since 1981 - yeah - 32 years. Not surprisingly some things have changed. Not as much as you might think. More has been enhanced rather than changed. Also not surprising, some things have been forgotten. With 30+ years of missions, campaigns, notes, etc., a lot of paper accumulates. I have spent some time over the last couple years trying to cut down on the paper. Rather than have four boxes of paper in closets, I scanned everything and have been sorting the pages into individual files. Sometimes it’s easier to just retype some stuff, sometimes, I leave them as images. But something important is happening - I’m remembering (maybe relearning) about my world. Many missions have some notes on a small town here, a famous battle there, or a description of the countryside in a region I haven’t thought about in decades. When I stumble on these items, I copy and paste them into my “Gleaned” file. The Gleaned file every once in a while gets cut and pasted into the master file for the world, so that the things I wrote up years ago, but were lost in the reams of paper are now finding their way back into the official accounting of the world. Why? Well, I spent time on them. They further enhance the world that my characters live in. Why wouldn’t I want to recapture that work and those thoughts? But there’s more to it. In a lot of situations, story lines simply ended; ended before they were truly completed. Maybe the player characters moved on. Maybe that mission was done, but questions remained. Sometimes there are notes on the paper: “This guy got away”, “delivered to sheriff for trial”, “mercenary never hired”. Leaving fully developed characters in a vacuum is against my beliefs. I am driven to ask - well, what happened next? Sometimes, it is easy - the trial resulted in him being executed - done. But what about those missions where the party did something important? Did the party defend a castle against bandits? Assuming so, did any bandits escape? If so, where are they now? An actual example: The party defeated a clan of rebel dwarves who were trying to take over a mine they considered theirs by inheritance. The rebels were defeated, but the rebels owned a castle not too far away. With the rebels all dead (or awaiting execution) who took over the castle? What happened to it? Is another rebellion brewing there? The mercenary is a real example too. She was intended to help the party, but they didn’t trust her. Where did she go? Well, I decided she became a gladiator, but worrying that she was becoming too big in her home town, she decided to move to a city where she could fight lesser opponents with better odds. Thus she will run into the PCs again. Assuming you haven’t thrown out or deleted all your old missions, take a look at some of them. Is there an urban adventure that details a bunch of businesses in your city that you forgot about? Any characters left hanging? Any descriptions of minor kingdoms that no one has visited since? Use them! Use them again if you can. Maybe they saved the Kingdom of Whateversville three years ago. The king is going to know who he can trust if some new threat rises. And you already have all the background completed, maybe with a couple of brief updates. Saves you time, and adds a richness that every fantasy world needs.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Organized Crime

I have a problem in my {fantasy} world. Nothing is illegal. OK - that’s an exaggeration, but certainly not a lot of things. Sure, murder and theft are illegal. But drugs are legal. In some cities, you need to have a pharmacist’s license from the druggists’ guild, but other than that, anything goes. Prostitution is legal in most cities. Gambling - legal. Drinking age - Can you hold the stein? See, nothing’s illegal. Why is this a problem? Well, because I want organized criminals. I grew up in a Sicilian neighborhood in Chicago - Yeah, that one! We had organized crime. They were great! They kept the gangs out. Now they’re all politicians. Guess what - That really makes sense! So what do I do in my fantasy world? Well, I start with smuggling. Since there really are no goods that aren’t allowed, then smuggling is just about getting past the customs officials without paying tariff. Since tariffs can be as high as 20%, this can still be a good business. What else? Well, the prostitutes still typically have pimps. Without them the girls are too much at risk, so networks of pimps make sense. So far this is pretty small potatoes. The big money is in the protection rackets. Here’s the business model: Guy walks into your store and says, “You have a lot of nice things here. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to them.” Then the store owner hands over a percentage of his perceived sales and the hood goes down the street to collect at the next place. But here’s the thing - The organized criminals actually protect your place. This is their neighborhood. Nobody steals stuff from you in their neighborhood. Even the pickpockets better know to stay out of their neighborhood or they may be sleeping with the fishes. You see my organized criminals - they’re family men. They want their kids to live in safe neighborhoods - neighborhoods made safe by the local boss. In one city, this goes so far that there are no police. The city guard has been completely replaced by the crime families. There’s a lot of back story to how this came to be - a big war, lots of soldiers needed, deals made, etc. So let’s rethink the protection money: insurance and taxes. We may pay insurance and taxes in the modern age, but in these fantasy settings, the same things are being provided by the crime families. If someone steals from you, you tell the local boss who hunts the guy down and roughs him up. Next thing you know, someone returns your stolen goods. It’s better than insurance, because the criminal is no where near as evil as a modern insurance company. You pay taxes to make sure the police patrol your streets. They pay the mob boss to make sure his thugs patrol their streets. What if the local well goes bad? Tell the mob boss, he’ll take care of it. The really nice thing about this is that you don’t have to worry about some written laws. Say your 19yo daughter decides to run off with some loser. The police won’t help you, but the mob boss will. These guys actually believe in customer service. OK, so the thug collecting is probably about as likable as an IRS agent, but still, you’re even up there. Look, my world has cities with city guards. In one city, the guards are controlled by the local noble families who once owned the lands that have become the neighborhoods. Those guards brawl with each other more than the crime families do. In some cities, the guards are even good at their jobs, but they are constrained by the laws, and they still cost you in taxes. You see, here’s where I tie organized crime to politicians. Both get paid the same way - by taking money out of the pockets of the producers. Now what they do needs to get done, otherwise there would be chaos and anarchy. But who do you trust? The local mob boss who’s kids are playing in the street with yours, or the politician who’s never worked a day in his life. I’ve lived under both, and I can tell you, I don’t trust politicians.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Player Characters and their “Bench”

A while back I wrote how I would love to have a campaign where the main party had a “bench” - a group of other adventurers they could use is they ever needed to. Why? Well, what if the mission is to sneak into the enemy castle by scaling a wall, picking the lock on the castle safe, and escaping without ever being seen. Not exactly a job for a pally, now is it? In fact anyone in heavy armor is a detriment to accomplishing the task. But, if you had a bench, then the guy who normally plays the hulk in heavy armor can just pull out his thief or illusionist character and be of help to the party. For me, being a role-player, this matters because there are missions that I just don’t think my character would want to go on. (I do normally play characters that in other game systems would be considered pallys.) So, how? OK - This is NOT realistic or perhaps even reasonable, but imagine if every player in the party had three characters. Every time the party had an adventure, the player would choose one character to use. But, at the end of the game, every one of the three would get the same experience and possibly even gold. They would not (in my opinion) get extra magical items, and would be forced to pass any items they might have around. So does this work? Well, it eliminates the issue of trying to keep the characters all generally at the same level of experience, though admittedly in a very artificial way. It probably under powers the party, because they would have fewer magical items (since they are likely sharing them amongst more characters), but the GM could compensate for this in some fashion. It also weakens the party because the player will not be as good at playing that type of character as they might have been, but this seems a little too whiny. If a player is good, he/she should be able to play one of three characters without being a fool. Problems? Oh yeah! Now that you have three characters, what if you want to bring two on a particular adventure? In fact, you’d most likely want to, and the rest of the party might think it is a good idea too (OK, everyone bring their huge fighters and their healers!). Now, the GM might allow this, and then cut the experience by splitting it amongst the number of characters in the mission. (My game tries to measure threat when awarding experience, not simply tally up points for dead monsters. So the idea of losing points due to more guys only affects experience if it lowers the presumed threat level.) Is this too big a problem? Maybe not. So what is the excuse? the rationalization? While the main party is off adventuring, the ones who stay at home are doing similar, but undefined tasks. I think the whole team (players times their three characters) would have to be an organization of some sort to make this work. Maybe they are an adventuring guild, or a military unit, or an organized crime gang, or a religious organization (a cult, but not in the bad sense of the word), anything to tie them together and justify them staying together as a team. Hey - It works for the Avengers and the Justice League, why not fantasy heroes?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Politics are Fun! They Cause Wars!

I mentioned my Anglic people in the last post. When I was establishing my culture cheat sheet, they were to be based on the Knights of the Round Table and Camelot. They were also to have issues because military based cultures do not do that well during peace time. Any way I want to make a point about using modern cultures and clashes as templates for in game cultures. Forget Camelot. The Angles of Myork have turned in the USA in my game world. Every time some culture finds themselves under attack or in danger from natural disasters or even monsters, the heavy cavalry of Myork rush to help them. The knights and their men at arms come sweeping in, defeating the problem (even if it is just hunger) often at great sacrifice. Then six months later, the saved culture starts to forget. They start to think that they could have handled the problem themselves and didn’t need the knights to save them. They start to forget that they begged for help. They start to resent the knights for being powerful enough to fix their problems when they were too weak to do it themselves. Admittedly, the knights are probably heavy handed. They have a tendency to try to stick around to make sure the problem is really handled. They’d hate to get back on their ships and then go home, only to have to come back and finish off the now returned problem. Sure this is based on sound logic and strategy, but no one wants a foreign military presence in their city. Correction - No one wants a foreign military presence in their city when they are no longer under attack. And that is what the problem is - forgetfulness. Col. Jessup (Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Men) had it right. It is not for the person “who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it!” So did The Kinks: “I came to feed you, but now that I need you, you won't give me a second glance.” Third time and I’ll stop: No good deed goes unpunished. Why does this matter? Actually a good example: The Hobbit - the book, not the movie. The Battle of Five Armies. I know, Tolkien wanted the story to have a somewhat happy ending, so the end is different, but bear with me. The armies are gathered because the dwarves have stirred up enormous troubles (Smaug). The men of Long Lake need treasure to rebuild their homes. The elves simply wanted treasure. The men and elves wind up helping the dwarves, but the dwarves were ready to fight the men and elves over keeping the treasure. The dwarves didn’t kill Smaug, the men did, well, Bard did. Bard kills the dragon, and the dwarves are willing to go to war with him because the men expected some compensation for their torched town. Before I divert too far - Here are the take aways: First and most importantly - If there are any members of the US Armed Forces reading this - Thank you. Some of us still understand the sacrifices you make and appreciate what you do for us! I have seen what it does to your families for you to be away and in harm’s way and it is no small price. Second - Allies are not always happy. Saviors today - enemies tomorrow. Admittedly, it is not “tomorrow” on WWII, but look at the politics of Europe and Asia. Japan is our ally. Russia is our enemy. Europe thinks the USA is evil while they run headlong into the Communism we spent so many years fighting against. OK, so we’re running headlong into the Communism we spent so many years fighting against as well. Europe just has a head start. See? Politics - It’s Fun! It starts wars!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What Kind of Sandwiches Do They Eat?

“a nice MLT: a mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They're so perky, I love that.” What kind of sandwiches do they eat in your fantasy city? Do they eat sandwiches at all? Mine don’t. There is one culture, the Angles, where they split rolls and put meat in them. But it’s considered cowboy food. After all, a slice of roast beef inside a roll wrapped in a napkin is a great lunch for a cowboy who needs to carry the food with him and eat while in the saddle. Nobody else does that, in fact it’s considered incredibly rude. “Greatest thing since sliced bread” - There is no sliced bread in my world. In fact there aren’t even loaves of bread in my world. It’s either flat bread or rolls. And it’s eaten on the side, or perhaps dipped in the soup. I was going to write a book called 100 Bar Foods, a companion to 100 Bar Drinks, but I don’t think it will sell, at least not on its own. I don’t think there are enough GMs out there who actually think about stuff like this. What do they make the bread out of here? What types of meat are available? What’s common and what’s upper crust (no bread pun intended)? How do they eat? I like Rome. I like the history. I like the lessons we should learn about what happens when you have too few people controlling too much governmental power. Rome had a lot of fast food. They had to; their apartments didn’t have kitchens. They had hamburgers. I don’t know what they called them, but there is documented evidence of something that you might call a meatball sandwich using a flattened meatball. They probably did that because you could buy it at the counter and eat it while walking away. No plate necessary. I needed something like that, so I made the waurglars, but they’re a lot closer to a stromboli. It shouldn’t be hard to figure it out, but GMs seldom take the time to do it. Maybe that’s better for me, because quite a few of them seem content to pay me to do it for them. You know what the climate is, so it doesn’t take too much to figure out what grains grow best there. You know the terrain, so you should know what kind of animals will work there, domestically or wild game. You put the two together. Admittedly, I add some culture: Do they bake, boil or broil? Do they use salt, spices, sauces or pretty much plain? How does it affect your game? Well, when the characters hit the tavern during or after a mission, they probably don’t have a choice of what to eat. They ask for a meal and a beer and they eat what the tavern has cooked. As GM, wouldn’t it be better to add a little flavor (this pun was intended) to the game. In the Rhoric Hills, they sit down to a plate of goulash with spatzle, red cabbage and a rye roll. In Brinston, they’re served fish stew with wheat rolls and salted wheat toast. In Scaret, they get a pile of “earthmeat” (mashed potatoes, turnips and carrots) with boiled cabbage and some roast mutton. Maybe you think your players don’t care. Then again, maybe they would if they only had the chance to experience it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Burial Methods

So I was watching something the other day and there was a Viking funeral. I got to thinking - You know, that makes a lot of sense in a fantasy world. Think about it this way: While there probably is more than enough land for graveyards, do you really want to offer up your ancestors to the necromancers? Zombies are horrifying, but imagine how much more horrifying they would be if it were grandma and grandpa? Assuming your culture does not believe in whatever it was that the Egyptians believed. (I don’t pretend to know why they went with mummification), incinerating the dead makes a lot more sense. I know they’ve dug up some Vikings buried in their boats with all sorts of treasure and tools, but the tradition (fantasy as it may be) of putting the dead in a ship with whatever they need for the afterlife and setting them adrift in the burning boat - Sounds good! No zombies, no skeles, no cursed ground where necromancers can gather power. Kind of makes you think - What are your fantasy world’s cultures doing with their dead, and why?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Three Missions - One Stone

Maybe you folks are smarter than I am, but as a GM, I almost always send the party out after one goal. Now the best I have done is when I set up what would be the world’s largest adventure, if I could ever get around to finishing it. (The interior portions were a palace a half mile in diameter, five stories tall, plus the 15 mile by 8 mile valley wedged between three volcanos and chasing ogre bandits amidst a massive buffalo migration over 150 miles of wilderness. - Sorry for the departure from the topic.) OK - So the post was supposed to be about sending folks out on more than one mission at a time. How to make it work? Well, there’s the easy way. The party gets a mission to travel to the capital city, report for duty, and go fight in a major war. Well, before they leave, they talk to the merchant’s guild - any one need a message delivered to the capital city. Maybe someone else is travelling there and would like to be protected by the party. Maybe a weapon shipment needs to get there too. Maybe the place they are about to attack holds some really cool treasure and while they are following orders and attacking the city, they might be directed (by a third party) to divert just long enough to recover it. Maybe a unit of their army is concerned that their orders are going to get them all killed, so they want to team up. Thus the party would still being doing what they were supposed to, but would have more tweaks and twists in their seemingly straight forward orders. Maybe the enemy is using hellhounds, and an alchemist lets them know that he’ll pay 10sc for each tongue and 1sc for each tooth recovered from the beasts. Maybe the enemy’s weapons are more valuable to a certain fence then to others. Maybe the enemy’s provisions are kind of disgusting (at least to the party’s culture), but are finely preserved delicacies to some other culture. So some sutler is willing to trade actual fresh food in exchange for the captured provisions. So what does this turn into? Well the party first off makes extra cash just getting to the next adventure, and then while they are out in the field fighting, they are stopping to take hell hound teeth and enemy provisions, possibly when they should be fighting or advancing. It means more is going on than simply the main adventure. Maybe that other stuff isn’t important and doesn’t affect the action itself, but it might, and it will serve as “more”. I think the best way to handle something like this is to change the way I handle the Adventurers’ Guild. Instead of effectively being the introducer of missions (effectively the bounty billboard), it could turn into an Adventurers’ Manager. By managing their careers, the guild can work to make everything they do more profitable, for all concerned. Managers can be helpful, motherly, or just plain evil (maybe not evil, but really greedy). I don’t think it takes that much more planning on the GM’s part, well, inconsequentially more. This might also be a way to make adventuring more of a business and less of a gamble for loot. (Check out a previous post on just that here.) When someone offers a bounty for someone, it is very likely that the bad guy pissed off someone else too. Will the party of bounty hunters need to decide who to collect from or will they be able to “double-dip”? What if one bounty demands he be captured alive, while another demands he be brought in dead? With a skilled manager, the party doesn’t even need to do the research; they can just make the decisions during combat.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pen and Paper First Person Shooter

I’ve been thinking of how to mix it up when it comes to missions and I have a couple of ideas: First - There’s a reason that run and jump games are fun. Even if you’re too old to remember Pitfall, you have likely played or at least watched Lara Croft or Prince of Persia. Running, and jumping and killing bad guys - It’s fun. (Yes, yes, we role-players are a sick and twisted bunch!) How to do that in a pen and paper RPG - Well, it depends on your rules. In nearly every RPG, the characters have speeds and jumping distances. If not - get a new game. OK, we don’t really mean that (but we kinda do). In any case, as a GM, you probably know what they can and cannot do. If your game does not apply percentages to those skills, you can figure them out yourself with a quick modifier. Let’s say that a running long jump is Strength + Endurance + Agility (in feet - Attributes for humans are on a 1-10 scale). So your decent warrior is going to running long jump about 20’. Modify that for armor and any extra equipment he might be carrying. So if he needs to jump a 20’ gap during an adventure, make this like a 75-80% chance of success. Why? Read the post about rolling dice - nothing is certain in combat. Maybe he misses his step, slips a little, twists his foot as he leaps - whatever. If he has to go 24’, well maybe each extra foot is -10%, so 35% chance of Success (CoS). Maybe if he misses by less than 15%, he has a chance of grabbing it with his hands - probably a Climbing skill. So what do you do with all this? Urban adventures! Either they are chasing a thief across the rooftops, trying to escape from an invading army (across rooftops), etc. Maybe it could be a chase over some uneven mountain tops or bad lands. They’re running, they’re jumping, they’re killing bad guys when/if they can catch them. They’re fighting bad guys that catch up to them. Imagine the difference between a “open the door - fight monster” dungeon adventure, and a leaping across buildings, chasing the bad guys urban adventure. If you can’t get the heartbeats of your players going with that kind of action - and not all of it violent! - then you are clearly doing something really wrong as a game master. OK - the rest of these are not as well thought out, but should be good to go in any case: 2 - There is some sort of alarm that goes off if it detects any sort of magic item. So you need to leave all your magical equipment behind and go in “naked”. Maybe spells don’t set it off, but any items would. 3 - The bad guys are tiny, but dangerous - think pixies or fairies, probably spell casters. Sure a dagger hit will kill one, but how many are you going to get. It turns the logic of most characters (how much damage can I do) around. Now they have to think - how often can I hit? Maybe they’re mostly immune to magical spells too, to avoid one fireball clearing the room. 4 - A military mission where an infantry unit is assigned to the party. They will act primarily as meat shields, but should add to the drama. Most players are not use to characters dying around them, and the constant death toll will change things up. They cannot be wasted either, or there won’t be enough of them left at the end to accomplish the mission or shield the party during the final epic battle. A twist on this might be the infantry guys constantly pulling the “You go on, I’ll hold them off as long as I can”. This twist should make the adventure more of a chase too. We all know that combat takes a while. It’s one of the benefits of playing on-line games - the computers do all the math and just say the damage or miss. If you need to pick up the pace of your game, drop some of the combat and put other action in its place. Everyone rolling together to see if they jumped the alleyway will still be suspenseful, and take a lot less time than fighting through three or four enemies.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Economics of Adventuring - post-script

See the previous post on the Economics of Adventuring in order to make more sense of this, though it does kind of stand on its own. I have come to a conclusion - Adventurers are actually gamblers. They are willing to gamble their lives in order to find loot. Let’s be honest - the best stuff from an adventure is seldom the pay you receive. It’s what you loot off the bad guys. So adventuring is in many ways, just a means of having a reason to go slaughter some folks and take their stuff. The reasons might be really good! but they are just an excuse for looting. Let’s not make too moral a statement about this. Learn more about the Roman legions - This is basically what they were doing. The soldiers didn’t really like their jobs or their pay. What they liked was going out, conquering other nations and getting rich off the loot. If the general wanted to keep his troops happy, he had to give them a chance to go and get killed - so that they could gather up other people’s stuff. I mention the Romans, because most of the tribes that attacked Rome were a little more honest about it. They knew they were only there for the plunder, while the legions pretended they were there for the safety of the Roman civilians. Maybe they were - They had a fairly good reason to go and attack other folks, but they certainly profited by it as well. I think that’s how I’ll continue to look at adventurers - Gamblers looking for loot. Post post script: Let’s also remember that the loot that the Romans brought back was most commonly slaves. How you handle that is entirely up to you and how your game world runs.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Why Do We Roll Dice?

I think sometimes we lose sight of why we roll dice. What exactly is it about combat and other tasks that make them random? It is not simply that you have a 40% chance of success and therefore will hit four times out of ten. It is instead, chaos theory. There are too many variables involved in a system such as combat for a game to take them all into effect. Since neither players nor game masters know everything about the terrain, the weather, the manufacture of the arms and armor, the health of the two combatants, etc., it would be impossible to know if a breeze knocked an arrow off its course or if a sword found a weak spot in the armor. All these variables are represented by the dice. Random factors affect the success or failure of the attack. Why does this matter? I think it matters because it establishes a premise: The player does not know all the factors that are controlling his success or failure. The use of dice establishes this. So why do game masters insist on explaining to players all the modifiers that factor into their success or failure? I do it myself, sometimes. We’re trying to quickly do the math on an attack success and we walk through the modifiers. What I think is necessary is for the GM to sometimes say - your chance is X%. Why? I’m not going to tell you! Of course this upsets most players, especially the rules lawyers, but it’s meant to. Role-playing games are intended to have some mystery to them - that’s why you have a GM who knows all and players who don’t. We (as GMs) need to flaunt that a little more. Besides, if you can get them familiar with the idea that they will not always know the modifiers, then when you do need to keep something secret, you can slip it in far more easily. As a player, I use this idea as well. Let’s say I get lucky and hit three times in a row on a 40-50% chance of success. Role-playing, I will thank my deity, because clearly, that shouldn’t have happened, so it must have been divine intervention. Sometime other characters get upset about stuff like that. They are assuming that their characters fully understand not just physics, but the specific physics of that situation. The idea is ... well ... I’ll use the phrase foolish, because the words I want to use are not publishable. Yes, luck in and of itself is a factor, but how was it lucky? Did the attacker hit a pot hole and stumble? Is it really humid out and someone’s grip on their weapon was a little off, not enough to drop it, but enough to lessen the impact of the hit. I’m not suggesting you determine why every hit or miss occurred, just that you accept that sometimes factors that no one sees or senses still have an impact, and it’s OK for them to be secret.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Empire of Orcs

I’m often preaching about looking at things differently, and here is one of my best examples: orcs. In some other games, orcs are creatures that can easily be killed by the least adventurer with one sword hit. In Legend Quest, starter orcs can be some of the most dangerous combatants around, easily competing with low to mid-range adventurers. Then they start to use magic too, and things can really get out of hand. Here’s what I did in Fletnern (our free world which is available here and has a relatively new wiki here): When I first started using Fletnern, the orcs were the allies of the city-state of Garnock. Two warrior cultures, though different warrior cultures. Allied, but not that friendly. That really didn’t get me where I wanted to go because the orcs remained a nation of brutish tribes. As I matured, so did my orcs. The Wembic Empire (the orcish nation) had a military coup, as one would expect. The Vile Ones tribe was overthrown by the Crooked Sword tribe, and the Crooked Swords put their chief on the throne. Emperor Baratock is a true emperor. He can be the savage warrior or the diplomat, whichever is necessary. He loves to play games with visiting dignitaries. He’ll have one of his aides instruct them to approach his throne and kiss his feet, only to rise from his throne and lash the diplomat for forcing “such a trusted ally” to debase themselves. Of course, he’s just testing the diplomat to see how far they’ll go, and how they’ll react to his theater. One of his other tricks is that during banquets, he eats off dragon bone plates and uses “primitive” looking utensils, while his guests eat off fine porcelain and use silver and gold utensils and crystal goblets. In his mind, he is communicating that he is a hearty warrior, use to life’s difficulties and they are weakened by their finery. You don’t have to buy into it, but it shows his style of thinking. Baratock has recently “threatened” the merchant powerhouse Brinston. He sent a proclamation to the various business schools letting them know that his city was the world’s largest, his empire was the world’s largest, and thus his people were the best opportunity customers for any merchants in the world. To ignore this base of buying would be to their disadvantage. Not too shocking, but the old school merchants considered it a joke of some kind. The Council of Barons and their merchants have taken the threat to heart and having been moving product to the Wembic Empire for a decade. So how are these orcs different? Well, there are many tribes that make up the Wembic Empire. This allows me to choose anything from scavengers to pig farmers to mounted raiders to skilled miners to dragon riding super warriors when I need to put in some orcs. The various tribes have varying loyalties to the Crooked Swords. Emperor Baratock is working to break down the tribal power by forming military units of mixed tribes, something unheard of before. He feels that if he can break the power of the individual chiefs, the warriors will be more loyal to the emperor. He also has the money and power to foster alchemy and some other magical research. He also has over a million test subjects to test alchemicals on, just to see if they work. One of the fun parts is that Baratock has a harem of ~300 wives. Most of these are chieftains’ daughters held as hostages, but Baratock has fathered over 500 children. Having him interrupt diplomatic negotiations with comments like, “Do you have any daughters?” and “Are they pretty or are they solid?”, is always fun. Again, he’s just enjoying throwing these diplomats and negotiators off their game. The Wembic Nation is busting at the seams. They cannot grow enough food to feed everyone, though Baratock tries to disburse the food fairly to keep folks alive. Because of this, the Wembic Empire has been annexing human villages along its eastern border. Typically these villages agree to become part of the empire in order to gain something they need, often either coal or protection. The empire gets farmland and, in some cases, coastal access. Of course, the humans not in those villages assume that the villages were pressured or forced to join the empire and they want to liberate them, though taking on the Wembic Empire is a rather suicidal endeavor. This is going on too long, and I don’t know if I’ve made my point, so let me try to bang it home: With rules that allow for NPCs that are not overly simplistic and some development of their culture, I was able to develop orcs that are now a force to be reckoned with. I came up with how the tribes work (amongst the other tribes), which allowed for conflict and important differences. (For good ideas on different tribes, check out A Baker’s Dozen Tribes.) I came up with a couple of ideas on how their culture worked (such as widows being taken into the harem of the chief) and then watched how they played out on a grander scale. I have given them organization, but not trust. (Doesn’t that other game call them lawful evil?) I haven’t truly changed their nature, in fact many tribes are exactly what they have always been considered, but some tribes are much more. And I’ve developed enough individuals and individual tribes that I can write my court intrigues. All that was left was to think about was how the rest of the world would try to deal with this young nation. Follow these same steps with any race or culture: A couple of cultural differences, how will those play out. A couple of NPCs, how will they act or react. Boom! Something interesting. One last point: If you determine that because of some cultural difference a race is going to die out - let it happen. Either they need to adapt and change, or let them die out. You need to have failed cultures and ruins scattered around too.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Economics of Adventuring

I’ve always been cheap, both in real life and in games. One of my big issues is before one of my characters takes a potion, I start thinking - am I going to make enough on this mission to pay for replacing the potion? I know that’s not what it’s supposed to be about, but that’s what runs through my head. It does make me think - Are adventurers just stupid? Do they spend huge sums of money just to risk their lives? The pay is never very good, though the looting typically is. It’s my training, but I think of nearly everything as a business transaction - How much does it cost to adventure vs. how much do we get paid? I know - It’s a game. Blah blah blah, but it has to make sense, doesn’t it? If it costs you six healing potions worth 500sc each to survive a mission and you only get paid 300sc for it, then this job sucks! OK, you probably get some loot that may help compensate the loss, but there are missions where you’d wind up worse off than where you started. So what to do? Well, the easiest thing to do is ignore it and just go on. Probably better is to see it as a perverse form of gambling - You put your life on the line, and sometimes you lose, but sometimes you win big. The big time would be that massive magical sword or staff. Even though I see it as all business, I get that if it gets too business-like it won’t be fun anymore. One way I sometimes try to explain away the business aspects is to let the employer cover all the logistics. The employer helps pay to get you to the job, they supply the support which may include healing potions, and they may even help you fence the goods afterwards. Then at least some of the business side is handled. This is a quickie way to explain away the business side of things while at the same time not making the game into homework. I’ll never suggest spending all your time counting the copper coins, but I do think it is important to come up with a reasonable explanation as to why they would keep doing it, because typically the money won’t really justify it.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cliff Hangers

Catching up on my pay TV series. Am I the only one who thinks HBO and Showtime are just soft porn 24 hours a day? Anyway- I thought, Should I use cliff hangers? Most of my gaming sessions end something like this: OK, you killed the big, nasty, evil guy at the end, you discovered the treasure and you head back to town. See you all next week and we’ll split up the treasure and figure out your training/use of character points. (With our point based system, character points are like experience and allow for the learning of new or improved skills.) But what if I started using cliff hangers? I’ve used them, though never intentionally: You open the door and see sixteen alchemically enhanced orcs ready to kill you. This fight will take way too long, so let’s call it for the night. I think they’d be more annoying than helpful. I’ve never really had to motivate my players to come back to play, so I guess I’ve never really needed to bait them. Plus, with schedules, someone always misses a session or two, so they’d be pretty disappointed that they got the lead up but not the climax. However, there is a reason that the TV shows and movie serials all used them. Along these lines - If you have never read Tarzan, do! It was written as a magazine serial and the action holds you! So this is less of a blog post and more of a request for information. Take it as a possible suggestion (try using cliff hangers at the end of the night’s gaming) if you want, but share if you know how well (or poorly) they work.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fantasy Super Hero Campaign

I’ve talked about jumping genres all the time, but I haven’t given a good example yet, so here goes: Imagine that there are two brothers: an alchemist and an enchanter. Now they’re greedy SOBs, and they are always trying to find a better, cheaper way to make their stuff. They need adventurers to collect ingredients. So they send the party out to collect some alligator or crocodile stuff. They need it for some strength potions. So they pay the party and everyone is happy. Not only that, but the party has a means to buy magic. The gator hunting thing isn’t that extravagant. Not even memorable. Then after a while, people start getting killed. Huge bounty gets put on the killer, because he’s clearly using supernatural strength. You see, this guy was looking for an edge in some sport or competition, so he started buying up the cheap gator strength potions. Problem is that when you use them as often as this guy was, they have a tendency to turn you into - well, let’s call it a were-gator. As time goes on, the two brothers and their experiments start causing more troubles. They are enhancing other adventurers or gladiators. Some they use alchemy to help; others they use weird enchantments. Maybe they’re sealing demons into armor in order to grant the users magical abilities. Maybe they’re hiding the essence of eagles in flying potions. These seem like perfectly normal magic items, but the brothers are so greedy, that the items are unsafe and effectively creating monsters - monsters that the party then gets paid to put down. The brothers aren’t evil, just greedy. But the results are causing all sorts of problems. If you’re not coming up with tons of ideas, either you have never read a comic book, or you’re just not thinking about it right. Think of most of the comic villains you know. Now change their backgrounds into something more fantasy based. The psycho fell into a vat of alchemicals, not chemicals, and turned into a clown criminal. Criminal gets a new set of wings and instead of using them to fight monsters, he becomes a cat burglar, well, bird burglar. They built him a staff of lightning bolts, but it exploded when he used it and now he is the lightning bolt thrower. Maybe the magical item that the enchanter built for the party is now being used by a gang of bad guys. Maybe the local crime boss wants magic for his enforcers, and starts protecting the brothers. Now the stuff is really going to hit the fan, because he is evil, not just greedy. Well, he’s both. Come on- you can fill in the rest. Doesn’t sound too different, does it? Party of adventurers hunting monsters, though a lot of them happen to be in town. The monsters are a little different - not just orcs and goblins. Maybe the party will wind up accidently getting in on the mess too and find themselves with super powers or magical stuff that represents super powers. How does this help? Well, every comic book or comic book movie you ever saw is now the plot line to an adventure. Every comic book villain is a special monster, one that isn’t in the rule book, and therefore cannot be pre-known by the players. It’s all about having enough ideas - Ideas that are not in the rule book and cannot be easily figured out by our players adding to the mystery of the game.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Admittedly, the lion’s share of modern folks are monotheistic, so our perspective may be skewed, but we have numerous religions surrounding one God. What about the pagans or more to the point the fantasy folks in your game world? I think you should complicate your world and divide the worshippers of the same god(s) into different groups. Here’s the easy way: There is one main religion per divinity, however, there are various sects that believe other things. This works pretty well for keeping things really easy while allowing for heresies and other religious conflicts. You see, that’s kind of why you do it - to generate conflicts. Nobody fights to the death like two groups that believe almost exactly the same thing with only a slight difference. For example, despite Protestant propaganda, the Spanish Inquisition is only known to have killed around 825 people (assumed to be more than that, but still less than 1500) over the course of about 160 years. The Inquisition was actually a monitoring device against Jews and Muslims (again, contrary to Protestant propaganda). Meanwhile, Henry the VIII executed at least 500 for religious treason over the course of six or seven years, amongst the tens of thousands he executed in his lifetime. Let’s not forget (though it isn’t similar religions fighting) the ballpark 50K who were executed for witchcraft over the course of about 300 years, again mainly in the English controlled areas. Henry was killing Catholics, a religion he was raised in. The Spaniards were killing Jews and Muslims who had (at least in theory) failed in their religious conversion. The closer “relationship” was by far the bloodier. Let’s take the elephant in the living room: estimates have 20K Templars (just Knights Templar) dying in the crusades. A druid or pagan looking in from the outside is likely to see Islam and Christianity as the same god. I won’t argue that point right now, but I think there are certainly people in this modern day world that are still fighting the crusades. I mention the Templars, because they fit so well into a fantasy environment - warrior monks fighting for their religion. A lot of this always comes back to my desire to see paladins fighting paladins. I am setting up a wonderful world war in my game world. In the end, it will come down to pallys fighting pallys, both knowing that they are fighting on the side of what is right and good. (No, we don’t use paladins as a class, but these are knights of religious orders, and it is a lot quicker to write “pally” then what I just did.) How do I handle the religions? Close to the one major religion with smaller sects and cults. There are more than one religion, but most of the major religions of the major gods are not hostile to each other, and people raised under one religion can easily worship at the temple of their god within another religion. I can accept this because there isn’t a central authority in my religions. With no central authority, there is far less consistency from church to church. If some preacher in the middle of the farmlands is preaching that a particular god is god of life and harvest, while the same god is worshiped as the god of luck and justice in the city, there is no one to say one is right and the other is wrong. Well, at least there is no one to enforce an opinion like that. How to use them? Well, a fanatic sect may start causing trouble to the point of forcing the more mainstream religion to have to put them down, either for heresy or to avoid being vilified by association. Maybe one sect believes a similar one has no right to certain relics. Always fun to force the PCs to choose sides! Need ideas? Remember that the assassins were a religious sect, as were the aforementioned Templars. Shaolin monks? What about conflicts between worshippers of the goddess of plants? Would the wild worshippers (more druidic) be at conflict with the farmers? If you really cannot think of at least a handful of ideas without trying, maybe you’re not cut out to be a game master.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fletnern wiki

We’ve mentioned the semi-new Fletnern wiki before, and it’s getting some traffic, but we want to reach out to any of you who are using it. What are you mainly looking for? We’ve dumped some content out there, but the real question is: Would you like to see more short subjects or should we start giving more detail on the subjects we have out there? For anyone who does not know, the Fletnern wiki is a wiki about the World of Fletnern. Fletnern has always been free and the base/starter pack can be downloaded on our main site: More and more details are showing up on the Fletnern wiki. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean we won’t support it, though it may not be the main priority at all times. The truth is, Fletnern (by the way, that translates into Titan as “far and wide”) has been in use as a gaming world for over 30 years, and there seems to be about 1,200 pages of content on it. Just tell us what you want to see and we’ll supply it, because it almost has to have been written already.