Friday, January 29, 2010

Editing an Adventure

Last night I was working on my adventure, The Mine of Rot & Disease, which was originally built using the Castles & Crusades system, but I've opted to go with OSRIC. It's amazing those two systems that share so much have so much different. Luckily this is not a large project, but going through and editing the stats is a chore. This is my third go around with this adventure which is usually my last draft, but since I switch systems it may not be.

I've edited several small fiction magazines, the magazine for my college and have edited both Points of Light products by Robert Conley from Goodman Games and Rob's latest, Supplement VI: The Majestic Wilderlands. I jokingly tell Rob I make him look good and when something doesn't work he can always blame me for not catching it. Which is true. I missed some laughers. Gibbering Mothers was one of my favorites.

Anyways, I am currently editing my own adventure. I'll send it to a few people to get a fresh perspective and comments. I have a thick skin so criticism doesn't bother me. I have the scars from the advanced literary class. I was someone who dared to write fantasy or science fiction in an upper level writing course, the nerve. Screw'em. I liked it.

A good edit is essential if you want your message expressed clearly. The story in a module is not much different from than a short story. There is a problem, an obstacle to the problem, the goal or multiple goals and then the degree of achievement. Not all adventures are written for the players to achieve their perceived goal. I think those are some of the more interesting adventures.

The problem comes when people are too close to their work and they can't see the flaws. They may completely understand what is going on and why, but someone who is reading it for the first time may not understand important parts. This is why it's always good to have a few people take a look at it. A nitpick here and there is not a problem but if all of them are getting back to you and saying, "I don't understand the blazing troll section" then you better take a look at it and start figuring out what the problem is. And usually it s simple fix, but like most creative people we tend to make it more difficult than it is.

With all the independent products available a well edited manuscript will help your product stand out above the others.

My random rambling for Friday morning concludes. Off to work I go where I will think about my adventure and take notes on the tweaks I want to make. (The ironic or hypocritical side note, I don't have time to go back and edit this blog, I am running late. Go figure.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tavern Tables

I found this fun little product free on RPGNow. If you get a chance it is well worth a look no matter what genre you're playing. Tavern Tables has a series of random tables to help a GM pull together a tavern in a few rolls. The first two tables (d100) are to name the tavern. The first table is the adjective and the second is the noun. An example I rolled was "The Mournful Stableboy". Sounds like a Monty Python skit. A simple mechanism that can create 1000s of names.

The next series of nine tables (these are all d6) are for tavern features, such as the quality, cleanliness and size of the place. The next three check prices, the variety of food and the quality of the food and drink. And the last three tables determine how crowded it is, how loud it is and if all those favorite dark corners that adventurers love to hog are taken or even if there are any. So let's continue on with the Mournful Stableboy. It's a fair quality tavern, that is sparkling clean, but a little cramped. The prices are cheap, but the owner has connections and can get almost any kind of drink or food all of which tastes 'interesting'. Unfortunately the Mournful Stableboy is empty most of the time and because very few people patronizethe tavern it is always very quiet. And one dark corner is occupied by the sleeping bouncer. I made up the bouncer bit.

The next series of 15 tables (all d6 again) will help a GM describe a notable patron. I won't go through all the tables to make an example, but these tables could help a GM create any NPC they need to whip up details on the spot. I'll call our patron Gunther. Gunther is heavily cloaked with wild red hair and eyes of a mad mage, no pupil or iris, all of it covered in dark gray. His startling appearance is countered by his cheerful mood. He will not say what he does for a living, but he always seems to be carrying a book that he never lets out of his sight (if he sees at all). He entertains the others by doing card tricks, but never gets involved with gambling. Gunther was created by using half the tables available. I've added my own extra details, but the tables lend themselves to allow the GM to create something fresh with little nudges from the tables.

Next tables are when a good old donnybrook breaks out. There are 9 d6 tables. The first three decide how many opponents there are, what actions they take and what skill they are fighting at. Then the other six tables determine how much trouble you are in. Let's say Gunther gets into a brawl at the Mournful Stableboy (which will be difficult since no one goes there, but let's pretend they have stripping dryad night and its packed). The brawl starts with four people whacking one another and Gunther, despite his weird freaky eyes is sweeping the floor with his opponent. But his consequence is he must leave town now because he killed the man he fought. Now we know why the stableboy is mournful, it lost its one faithful customer.

The final page is a few examples of patrons that were rolled up. This is where I would have preferred to see a random drink and food tables. I think that would have completed the product.

My recommendation is get Tavern Tables. It's a great little supplement. Oh, and did I mention it's free. Hannah "Swordgleam" Lipsky of Chaotic Shiny Productions did a great job. Give their webpage a look and download Tavern Tables.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fresh Blood

The kick off session for Rob Conley's Majestic Wilderlands was a smashing success. Unfortunately it was me who got smashed. Not drink smashed. Beat in the head smashed. Dwayne for Gamer's Closet and our newbie in the group Ken for the Rusty Battle Axe fame got chased out of town at the conclusion of our first session. Outstanding. Sometimes I wonder if a gaming session goes by where someone isn't thrown out of a tavern, brothel, town or kingdom was it right. Being chased out of somewhere is a standard in gaming. And let me tell you my guy ran like hell.

I'm playing an elf Monteblank. It's a cool combo. I get a few points of social graces because I'm an elf. I'm playing him as a con man. Complimentary, respectful, but still has the aloofness of an elf. But I want it to come off as being cultured and not arrogant. So I had this plan. It was a good plan. It really was. But I overestimated the forethought of a group of thugs. I stole this book, a valuable book with lots of good info. Thought the thugs wanted it for the treasure possibilities. Nope. They took the book by mistake. I spent a good part of the session making a copy of the book so I could sell the original back to the owner and sell a fake copy to the thugs. I didn't want them to know where the magic items were. I wanted them. Dwayne made a butt load of coin from the owner. I got a butt load of whoop ass from the thugs. My Chariots of Fire like pursuit led me through some fabulous parts of the city as I headed for the gates at top speed.

I think I need my own theme music when I run. I'll discuss that with Rob.

It was great to have Ken in the group. Every group needs an infusion of new blood every once in a while to freshen things up and to add a new dynamic. Ken adding a great deal from the start. I know he was fretting about fitting in or knowing Rob's extensive history. But hell I don't know half of what's going on at the time either. Rob starts talking about the two thousand year history of the acorns the elves used to worship, I glaze over. I can't help it. I just tell him to send me the write up, and he has billions of those, and I'll read it.

Our next leg of the journey will take us through some hostile territory. Not sure I need to add the word hostile since it seems we made the last place we were at hostile. I'm hoping they didn't see who we were so I can go back and get a good night's sleep and maybe get a small amount of revenge. Just a little.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Campaigns need money. Some sort of standard coin that can be traded goods. You have the old standard copper, silver and gold. If you have played AD&D you will have experienced the dreaded electrum pieces. Then throw in some platinum as the high end coin. I know there were games with brass bits as a level below the copper. Including them in a campaign brings it down to a dirt and scrounging type of world. Which I always like. Being a huge fan of the books of Thieves World anthologies, I always appreciated the squallier of the earlier books (before the Bysib? fish people came in and infused Sanctuary with coins) when dear old Hakiem the Storyteller was peddling his tales for a single copper and being thrilled he could drink for a day when a silver coin fell his way.

Does this make for good adventures? I guess it depends on how you run your campaign, but I always liked the idea of character appreciating a single silver coin. But that is not the kind of campaign I plan to run. Since I purchased a gazillion HackMaster books before the end of last year and all of my gaming group did the same I am running a gonzo style 1st edition Hackmaster campaign with roid rage and a 2 liter and hour addiction to Red Bull. Oh there will be coins. Lots of them. But everything will cost them players also. Oh yes, they will pay.

Still I need to make a comprehensive currency system. Even though the adventuring style will be gonzo the nobility won't like it if you mess up their monetary system. Unless the players want to bring down the wrath of Baron St. Kick Butt upon their heads they better tow the line. Here is what I came up with. I think it's simple and playable.

There are 4 coin types, the copper farthing (CF), the silver penny (SP), gold penny (GP), and gold crown (GC). The common coin is the silver penny. This money system is based off of the one Rob Conley uses.

1/4 SP = 1 CP
32 SP = 1 GP
320 SP = 1 GC
*I had a table here but it got all messed up in translation.

The copper and silver coins are minted by local nobility while all gold coins are created by the royal mint. The weight of all coins is monitored by the royal tax collectors. This monitoring is completed once per year during the royal tax collection.

It is illegal to exchange unsanctioned monies. Coins from other kingdoms or raw precious metals must be turned into sanctioned money changer to be exchanged for official coinage. These sanctioned money changers are permitted to set their own rates, but may not exceed 20%.

Non Sanctioned Monies
• If someone is caught non sanctioned monies, the person will be escorted to the money changer and have all coinage and precious metals exchanged. Then a fine will be determined local magistrate.
• A second offense, all illegal coinage and precious metals on the person will be confiscated. On top of this they will have to stand before the local magistrate for a fine to be determined and the possibility of being placed in the stockade.
• A third offense the person will be immediately jailed for a period determined by the magistrate. All possessions and properties will be forfeited. At the end of the person's incarceration they will be branded as a criminal and released.

• This is a serious offense. The first offense the person will have his right arm cut off at the elbow. All possessions and properties are forfeit. And the person will be branded as a criminal.
• The punishment for a second offense is hanging.

• A person caught shaving coins will be fined 10x the number of coins shaved.
• The second offense will be increased to 20x the number of coins shaved and be branded as a criminal.

Please feel free to let me know who you do your money system. This is somethign I whipped up last night and thought I would throw it out there for comments. I am sure there are things I've forgotten or that someone has a killer idea I could use.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Magic Item Creation

I started writing an extensive blog about magic item creation, but instead thought I would ask a few questions. What system of magic item creation do you use? Do your players find it worthwhile to create magic items? And how do you determine what it takes to create a magic item?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Conclusion of a Campaign

Last night our group concluded our campaign. Dwayne had a true Point of Light setting for his world where a displaced group of followers of the Maiden were transported from another world where extinction was eminent. The new world we found ourselves in was no more welcoming, but here we had a chance to survive, rebuild and hopefully one day return.

Upon arrival we were discovering many wonderful things we had no knowledge of. Most civilization was driven underground as demons and brimstone warlocks terrorized the surface and their only real competitor was a massive undead army formed by the victims of the demons. Torrun of the Red Hand and Ambrose a Priest of the Maiden slogged through an alien world trying to piece together scraps of knowledge. It was a lot of fun discovering this world. Stereo types were twisted, what you thought were truths in the old world did not apply here. I think Dwayne did a great job at keeping us guessing and keeping it consistent at the same time.

Last night we concluded the campaign. Our characters found the castle of the avatar of the maiden. He told us truths that we were not surprised to hear, but meant we had to change the way we did things as an order or we would repeat the same mistakes once we returned to our home plane.

It ended with my character Torrun marrying a woman from one of the native villages bonding our two people together. With the work ahead of us there are still a ton of story lines Dwayne could explore, but I like where we ended it with the possibilities. Down the road when Dwayne wants to run his world again we can pick up our old characters or make up new ones in the present or years down the timeline to see the effects of our work. Either way I look forward to exploring this world and discovering more of its mysteries.

Thanks Dwayne for a campaign well run.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Character Creation Part 2

So far this is what I have. I have decided to play an elven monteblack. This should be an interesting combination.
With the racial stats added gives me some great stats. Because all my stats are over 13, I get +1 to rolls on all of them. And Rob said because my dexterity is so high I get +2.

Strength: 13
Intelligence: 13
Wisdom: 13
Dexterity: 19 Rob said my dex could go this high. Rah!
Constitution: 16
Charisma: 13

I've had to tweak my equipment list because Rob had his own price chart and items. It's pretty much the same just a nudge here and there. Rob uses his own monetary system which I think is a good one, but does not match with other price lists.

I only need one hand to cast, but I still bought a buckler. I have one spell for the next couple of levels so something tells me that buckler is going to get used more than my spell. The other reason I like having some type of shield is Rob allows you to use your shield to ward off one attack even if it hit, but it destroys the shield. I think I'm going to need that advantage.

I got to select three spells from the first level and Read Magic. Of course you have to select Sleep, it's a no brainer. I also selected Charm Person because I think that will definitely come in handy since a lot of Rob's adventures are within the city and dealing with mean people. The cool thing is I don't have to preselect which spell I am going to choose that day. I can just cast once. That flexibility will be nice.

Included below is a copy of my character sheet. One that Rob created. A nice simple layout for a nice simple game.

Part 3 will consist of developing a background for my character. Rob and spoke briefly about this and he is intrigued of having an elf monteblank. I always like nudging his boundries a bit by creating something a bit out of the ordinary.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Character Creation Part 1

So tonight I am rolling up my Character for Rob Conley's Swords & Wizardry campaign. First off the dice selection is vital. Since our group has mainly played GURPS d6s are all you need. BUT, you want to roll different groups of d6s because in GURPS you want to roll low to hit and high on damage. It's bad voodoo to use the same set of dice for both tasks. So you need damage dice and to hit dice. Since I am rolling stats for my character then I am rolling the damage dice. So I got 4d6 rolling for stats taking out the lowest. Here goes!

Strength: 13
Intelligence: 13
Wisdom: 13
Dexterity: 17
Constitution: 15
Charisma: 12

Wow, killer rolls. This was done straight through no adjustments of any kind. That 17 dexterity is looking shiny for a thief class, but I am going to pursue Supplement VI to check out my possibilities. With stats like this I can make almost anything. I think I'll pick my class before my race. Then I can use the racial attribute boosts to enhance the class I want.

Yesterday I wrote about being a Monteblank or a magic wielding thief and I think my guy is set up pretty good for it so Monteblank it is. Now I have to select a race. I am usually just a vanilla human, but I definitely want to mix it up a bit this time. Being an elf is an obvious choice because with the +2 dexterity, +1 constitution and +1 charisma it's hard not to love all those bonuses and racial perks. Hmm a halfling...still can't bring myself to play a furry foot. A half-elves is a definite possibility. I'm not seeing playing a dwarf or gnome. I know Rob's campaigns and playing a serpent man, orc, goblin, reptile or lizard man will just complicate the party dynamics. But playing a Viridian, a half demon that gets extra spells per day, is tempting as hell. No pun intended. Well looking at all the benefits of being an elf I can't pass up. Elf it is. I'll have to contact to see if my dexterity can go to 19.

I have my stats, class, and race figured out. I'll roll for starting gold. Getting those damage dice out again. I get 3d6 multiply by 10 starting gold. Excellent, 140gp. Time to shop. Now the thing I have to remember that Rob plans to do in this campaign is use components for his ritual system, where it costs the level of the spell squared and ten in components. So a 3rd level spell would cost me 90gp in components to cast. But since I can't cast any at first level I'm going to worry about it, but keep a stash as I go for when I can. Time to go shopping.

First thing I buy is armor and weapons. Since I can wear leather armor I'm getting a suit and a shield. I'll have to ask Rob about when I cast if I will need both hands free or just one. But since I am only going to have one spell in the beginning that shield will come in handy. That's 20gp for the two. For weapons I am getting a light crossbow for distant enemies and for melee I'm going for the short sword. And I am going to pick up a dagger just because it seems like any adventurer should not leave home without one. That's 22gp for weapons.

Time for regular equipment. Getting a backpack, 50ft of rope, grappling hook, 8 iron spikes and a mallet, two water skins, flint & steel, bedroll, piece of chalk (to mark those pesky dungeon walls), two 15lb capacity sacks and one 30lb capacity sack then finish it out with a four torches. I am skipping the flasks of oil right now which I am sure I will regret, but I would rather not make myself more flammable than normal. Crap forgot food. I'll go for a week's worth of trail rations for now. Total bill rings up as 23gp, 2 sp and 9cp. That leaves me with a total of 94gp, 3sp and 41cp. I like to have extra copper so I am not flaunting my wealth when I go places.

For now my equipment is done. It's always good to keep a stash because those damn GMs always decide to start playing a rule they never did before so you need to be prepared. Plus I may be able to go to a few shops before adventuring and pick up some nice items that will be useful.

The last two things I need to select now are an alignment and a name. Rob usually doesn't play with alignments, but I believe he is using them for this campaign. Being an on the run magic-user who is associated with thieves and being an elf I am thinking of being Lawful Neutral it seems to make the most sense. And now for the name. I went to the Irish name and Ashling stood out. And I always like to add a secondary name. Anubus, a play on the Irish word for death and the Egyptian god of the dead.

Say hello to Ashling Anubus.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Process of Character Selection

Our group will be starting a new Swords & Wizardry Campaign in less than two weeks. We will be using Rob's Supplement VI: The Majestic Wilderlands and Rob will be GMing. Before each campaign I always ask Rob if there is a certain area in his campaign he wants fleshed out. What class he may want me to take and explore in his game. This is how we playtested most of the stuff in his book. This time Rob wants to run a good old fashion basic campaign. A band of adventurers exploring god knows what looking for a treasure hoard.

So I will let the dice tell me what do play. Usually we roll 4d6 six times and then arrange them in the stats you want. This time it will be a straight roll, no changing the stats around. Currently I am favoring a Montebank, or a Fogger to all you street people. I think one of the most crucial things with me when developing a character is the name. The name should definitely be a part of the personality. Usually I think of a name then develop a background. Because of my familiarity with Rob's setting he trusts me to do this on my own. Not once have I made myself the Rule of Gods and all the Lands beneath them. Except for one guy and his closest friend was Meryl, the cart he pulled around.

Tonight I plan on rolling him up and giving him a name. And if work does not suck all my mental energy out of me then I may start developing a background. I thought it might be interesting to go through the whole character process on the blog.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Old School Goodness

After work I stopped at the post office and two packages from Lulu waited for me. OSRIC rules in one package and Monsters of Myth and the one I am most interested in is Stonehell Dungeon. I have never been a fan of mega dungeons, but Michael Curtis's dungeon caught my interest. I've been a fan of his blog for a while so I thought I would give a look. I plan on doing a review on it in a later blog. So for now I am going to chill out and enjoy my Old School Goodness.

Legend of the Bodak

I've been organizing my gaming stuff lately. I needed to weed through some of the papers that pile up when I'm not looking. I found this bit mixed in and thought I would share it with you. Like I've said in previous blogs my background is with fiction so I tend to put things into a story format. This is a bit I wrote about the legend of bodak. So this entry is more fiction than gaming. You have been warned.

"Among the shallows of the dark, among the ancient trees of the Arbiter Forest, a pair of eyes opened." Jannon paused for dramatic effect. A small crowd of children gathered on the temple steps and on the fringes the street people gathered to hear the priest's morning tale. One boy whispered to another and Jannon pointed to him and raised his voice. "And from the darkness the creature spoke. A whisper of such vileness it wilted the plants around it. The creature watched the sun, afraid to enter into the light. It waited for time to creep by and it moved as the shadows lengthened. It grew impatient and stretched its sleek black hand into the fading sunlight and howled in pain. The grass where it stood, the trees above it and the plants around it blackened and died.

When the sun slipped behind the Mourning Mountains the darkness spread from the horizon to the sea. The angry and wounded creature stalked across the countryside leaving a trail of death. " Jannon took a step toward the enthralled children and whispered to them. "And then it heard a sound." He stuck a finger in the air. "It was the sound of children laughing. Never had it heard such a sound." He stood and walked among the children and closer to those at the bottom of the stairs. "The creature crept closer. Two children, a brother and a sister, played near a stream next to their home. The mother shouted out the window, 'Come in children. Bed is waiting.' The little boy answered, 'But the light flies are out' as he hopped into the air to catch one in his hands.

The sister leapt across the stream to capture her own light fly. In the sallow light of the yellow moon the girl glimpsed at the glistening black skin of the creature. She tried to scream, but the girl looked into its eyes and she fell over dead without a sound.

The brother laughed thinking his sister had tripped, but fell silent when he saw the darkness move. His shrill scream rang out in the night. It lasted only a moment before he to fell dead like his sister. Soon the mother, the father all died as they looked upon the creature." Jannon nodded at a little girl who bit at her thumb.

"And the creature waited. One small dark form joined him. Then another. Two more joined. There stood five of the dark creatures silent in the night. Together they moved deeper into the village spreading the dark until they had claimed them all. Killing others to join their ranks. A legion of death that never sleeps. They wait for a chance to flood the kingdom with their dark plague."

Several of the children had tears rolling down dirt smudged cheeks and Jannon smiled. He pointed to the sun. "Fear not little ones. The sun is high. But never forget what waits in the darkness. So be vigilant and good. Say your prayers to Delaquain, lock your door a night and listen to your parents."

The crowd of children looked frightened, but pleased. As the people disperse Jannon noticed a slight man dressed in fine, but battered armor glaring at him. He exchanged waves and smiles with the others until they had gone when the armored man approached him. Jannon watched the mercenary kneel before him as was custom if someone wished to speak to a priest and waited for permission to do so.

Jannon did not wait. "Blessings of Delaquain upon you. Speak."

"My name is Goral of Vestige, I seek your council." His voice grated against the air.

Jannon heard the sarcasm laced with his words. This man did not bow out of respect, but to mock the custom. "Stand Goral. Don't think I am an idiot and I will not think you one."

"Fair enough," Goral stood and slapped the dust off his knee. "Your little horror stories scared the idiot offspring. I wonder if you believe any of it."

"What do you want Goral?"

"As I asked. Do you believe any of it?"

Jannon felt uncomfortable answering. As if he were giving something up. Allowing this arrogant mercenary a glimpse into his beliefs. He answered to be done with him. "Yes. Yes I do. Now if that will be all I have many more important things to do."

"I know. I am Goral of Vestige and you are requested to join me." He presented Jannon with a scroll. The scroll was sealed by the office of the high priest of Delaquain. "I have spoken to your superiors and I explained the important role you play in the defense of these lands. They offered your services after I donated ten gold crowns to your mistress." He chuckled. "I would have paid ten times that much."

So their adventure begins...

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Doppelganger Mirror

I was reading through the Swords & Wizardry rulebook and an idea popped into my head. I'm not sure what trigger the idea, but here it is. The Doppelganger Mirror is a nasty little item to spice up a campaign. Even the destruction of it is going to cause problems for a long time. Enjoy.

The Doppelganger Mirror is made of a high quality, polished glass. It is framed within a large oval silver steel frame. The frame is sculpted in a sea theme with waves adorning the edges and clam shells at each corner. It weighs 100 pounds and is meant to lean against a wall for support. It looks to be of elven craftsmanship, but its weight and thick frame suggest it is only elven influenced.

The mirror reflects a depth to objects and people that regular mirrors are incapable of doing. The mirror is able to see around things. When a person stands before the mirror and desires something that object or thing will appear in the reflection.

If the player concentrates on the object the surface of the mirror will begin to ripple. At this time the player can reach through the mirror's surface. If a player chooses to do this he must make a saving throw vs. spell or be imprisoned within the mirror. The doppelganger of the player is now free to move through the real world. This doppelganger has gleaned most of the surface knowledge from the person, but does not know the background or secrets. It will use its ability to read minds to find more information. A character can resist this with a successful saving throw.

The doppelganger will provide substance for the imprisoned player by bringing drinks and food within the range of the mirror's reflection. It is in the doppelganger's best interest to keep the prisoner alive. If the player dies then it dies. The player can interact with the objects that are reflected in the mirror and use them as they normally would. However, magical properties cannot be transferred through the mirror. A +3 sword would be a regular sword within the mirror.

Once the mirror has taken someone it reverts to a normal mirror until that person dies. Only the doppelganger can see the prisoner. To all others it is just a fancy mirror.

Only a magical weapon or object can shatter the mirror. Smashing the mirror will instantly kill both the imprisoned and the doppelganger. The magical explosion will tear through the fabric of reality making the affected area weak, allowing outer world creatures to enter.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Rob Conley Interview on RPG Circus

My good friend Rob Conley, author of the Points of Light and Point of Light II by Goodman Games and his own self-published baby Suppliment VI The Majestic Wilderlands, was interviewed on RPG Circus. Please check it out. I think Rob and the RPG Circus crew did a great job.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Blogging Habits

I sit at my computer first thing in the morning and read the fresh blogs that come out of the oven. I try to catch up with any I may have missed the night before. I usually go to my blog and then go through my blog roll that I have then go to RPG Bloggers Network and read a new blog or two. Another source where I find new blogs is when people make comments on my site or someone else's I'll go through their profile and check out what they have to say.

Now sometimes at work I'll sneak a peek during my lunch which I usually am working through. But usually then I am on RPG Now checking out the new items and I always check the freebie bin. I love the freebie bin.

When I get home for work I'll get back on and see who posted during the day. This is when I post my comments. I make an effort to comment on a few blogs a day. I could probably do more, but there are a ton of great blogs and I can't get to them all. Time Shadows and Paladin in a Citadel are the champion commenter's. Those two have hit everywhere some days and I commend them for it. Those comments do help motivate and inspire people to keep going that what they are doing is being recognized. I know when I first started those comments helped.

Writing my blogs, which has been sporadic over the past couple months, I try to do at night and then have them post around 7am or so the next day. Then the other half of the time I am writing them in the morning. Like right now.

I was curious about others blogging habits. When they write, when they read, and what makes them comment on some blogs but not others? Have a great Friday and a get a game going this weekend.

I just saw this will be my 100th post and I want to thank the people who've commented on my site and those who just like to browse for a while. I've enjoyed myself.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Adventure Design: The Middle as the Beginning

When building an adventure I always like to start with a situation such as the ones we've heard many times, the princess was kidnapped, a thief stole my family heirloom, and the raiders burned down the village. Because I come from a fiction background and have written mainly short stories I prefer to start in medias res. A latin term that means "into the midst of affairs" or beginning the story in the middle of an action or event or in my example, in the midst of a situation.

Most adventure modules are written this way as the examples above are well trampled on by many a gamers' feet. How many times have players been summoned to a lord's hall for assistance with a problem? Or villagers staggering on road to tell the players a story of the horrible thing that happened to their home? A bazillion gazillion times and another large number. But it works. It's a good technique to get the adventure rolling. To get the players hooked into the adventure.

As a GM, my fiction background definitely comes through because I like a good story to my adventure. My players will tell you there is a story arc and these stories do have a beginning, middle and end with many opportunities to continue down another story if they choose. For this reason I rarely use static dungeons, ones that are sitting there waiting to be discovered. The best example I can think of is Tomb of Horrors. Nothing is coming in or out of the dungeon to attract any attention. It sits in the darkness waiting to be discovered. Don't get me wrong these dungeons have their place and can be some of the best adventures, but because of the nature of this type of adventure you need to concoct a hook such as rumors, a lost treasure map, just dumb luck as the players are traveling find the door or some scholar comes across ancient manuscripts and discovers the location of a powerful artifact. All great hooks, but this can only be a potential adventure or story or happening. The players can shrug their shoulders and it may never be heard of again.

An active adventure hook happens with or without the players' interaction. If the raiders burned down one village they are likely to move onto the next village. The lord of the land may have been refused by the players so he will send others. This develops a campaign's depth, providing layers of interaction to build upon. When the lord calls upon another group of adventurers to rid the raiders a rival is born. The problem is not going away even if players' ignore it. Now the GM has a rival born organically from the party's actions.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Adventure Layout Epiphany

Yesterday, Rob Conley of Bat in the Attic asked a simple a question about whether people preferred inline stats or stats at the end of the adventure. Since I've got a few adventures in development I took a special interest in the answers. I was surprised by the overwhelming support for inline stats. I've always been a fan of having one or two pages in the back that I can photocopy to have in front of me while I GM. Because of this poll I'll be changing the layout of my adventures. I will do both inline and the back pages. Thanks to everyone with their input in his blog. It didn't occur to me to even ask that question. Thanks Rob.

I'm including an example of what my back page looks like. I use a HackMaster style sheet, but with my own tweaks that include the experience points of the creatures and treasure that can be found in the room. Also included are actions that individual PCs can do to gain an extra spoonful of experience.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The New Year Spending Begins

Yesterday on the 2nd I ordered the White Box from Brave Halfling Publishing. For $25.95 its a very good price, but with the additional $10 shipping it is about what I would pay. I know in the past shipping costs have tipped the scale whether I would buy an item or not. This time I thought the value of the product was worth the shipping.

Today, I was browsing on the OSR storefront on Lulu and bought three items. I got a copy of OSRIC (the economy version), Monsters of Myth and Michael Curtis's Stonehell Dungeon. I continue educating myself with the different systems, this time OSRIC. As far as Stonehell Dungeon is concerned, I've been a big fan of Michael's blog so I figured it was a sure thing. The benefit of getting guilt free Christmas money that allows you to splurge on a few items.

I'll also throw out another plug for Rob's Suppliment VI The Majestic Wilderlands. If you haven't got a copy of this yet please do so. I am bias, but I believe its a great product for a great price.

2010 is starting out strong with my OSR purchases. I'm looking forward to all the independent products promised in resolutions blogs. I'm going to hold you to them people. I hope to squirt out a couple products here and there myself to pay for my compulsive gaming purchases. Here's to 2010 and to making it a golden year for gaming.