November 29, 2011

Getting Rid of Equipment

Of late, I have been gearing up for my Stargate campaign (Spacemaster system) and I have been going over the equipment lists for it. In particular, I have been looking over the gear Bundle lists from the AEG Stargate SG1 game system. And then I began to compare these to the TV series. And then to any TV/Movie of the same genre. And I determined that they do not use equipment lists.

We have all seen the montage wherein the hero starts packing his overabundance of weaponry; sheathing knives, jamming clips into guns, spinning revolvers, cocking his shotgun, etc. But we never see the equipment montage; cleaning the lens of the binoculars, booting up the PDA, sharpening the pencils, slamming the batteries into the flashlight, coiling up the rope, sighting the compass, etc.
And that is because, equipment that does not affect combat is boring

November 28, 2011

Wanted: 21

This is another in the series of "wanted" posters that can be found within a campaign setting.

-The Cat nomer could apply to the fact he is in fact a werecat. Dirk is an agent for an enemy government sent to spy. Investigation of the charges will reveal it occured to a government official with access to sensitive govenment documents detailing troop movements and codes. Pursuing this reward will drag the party into an adventure of espionage and double-dealing with a lycanthrope at its center. Are they ready for that?

November 23, 2011

How to Plot A Novel/Campaign in 5 Steps

While doing some research on yesterday’s article about to how to take the World of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron and turn it into an RPG campaign setting, I came across the author’s blog. Of particular interest was a post she made on How I Plot A Novel in 5 Steps. While there have been other articles detailing how writing novels and RPG campaign design are very similar, I still enjoyed her thoughts and felt there are a lot of good points to be taken away from her post. You can find the article here.

I’ll copy over some of the better parts and take a look at them from the point of view of someone working on designing a campaign for their RPG game.

November 22, 2011

The World of Eli Monpress

Like most RPGers I like my fiction. I can get into a good sci-fi, fantasy or modern thriller book. Often there are things I can use in my own games, either for a one-shot adventure, or ways I can add to my own ongoing campaigns. And sometimes I like a book enough to want to play in that world as a campaign of its own. The books of Eli Monpress is one of those worlds.

If you are unfamiliar with the books of Eli Monpress they are a series of books (three so far) by Rachel Aaron. They are firmly in the fantasy genre. They take a wonderful and refreshing approach to the fantasy setting. And there is much to steal from the books for one’s own settings. I’ll outline some of the best parts…

November 21, 2011

Wanted: 20

This is another in the series of "wanted" posters that can be found within a campaign setting.

-Even if no one in the party does not speak elvish, they may have come across an NPC who does, or they may go out and seek to find an elf.
-Why is someone looking for a translator? Perhaps he has an elvish document that leads to an ancient ruin ripe for plundering (for which he will need a group of adventurers). Perhaps he has captured an elf and needs to pry some secret knowledge from the elf. Either way, this will doubtlessly lead to further adventures.

November 18, 2011

Who was the One?

The other day on Facebook (yes, I still use Facebook) I received a friend request from someone I hadn’t heard from for over 25 years. I immediately confirmed, but right thereafter I began to think about all the things we had done together in high school. And then it hit me, he was the person who had introduced me and my friends to role-playing games.

He was one grade ahead of us, but we all knew each other from mutual interests; fantasy, science fiction, computers. And then one day we went over his house after school and he introduced us to D&D. And of course we loved it. We all became hooked and would play whenever we could; we even took a senior skip day and went to the local park to play all day long. Soon thereafter we quickly tried other RPGs, such as Villains and Vigilantes, Traveller and Gamma World. I’ve been playing ever since and covered a wide range of game systems since then, but it all started with that one person and D&D.

Who introduced you to role-playing games? Are you still in contact with them?

November 15, 2011

Nine Hallmarks

With one of the latest WotC setting books, Neverwinter Campaign Setting, they included Nine Hallmarks of a Neverwinter Campaign in the Introduction. Basically this is nine points that define the campaign setting and help make it unique. To be honest, some of the points can be seen in many other settings, such as Myriad Possibilities, but they do help keep in mind the theme and direction of the setting. This helps a person who wants to run a Neverwinter campaign remember the important things that make up the core of the setting. They did the same thing with the Darksun Campaign Setting book.

I like the concept of the Hallmarks of a campaign. A list of core concepts that help define a setting. In fact, this could be applied to game systems as well. Basically a list of the things that make the campaign or system unique. They can include unique setting concepts or how the rules interact with the setting.

I also like the fact there are only nine points. This helps to crystallize the most important things about the setting/system. Many settings have more than nine unique points but by limiting the number to nine it helps to narrow down the most important points. As a side point to this, if a person is designing a new setting/game system and they can not come up with Nine Hallmarks, perhaps their setting/system is not strong enough to stand on its own.

November 14, 2011

Wanted: 19

This is another in the series of "wanted" posters that can be found within a campaign setting.

-This is a dangerous man and pursuing him will be an undertaking. He will have demons at his command. He is wearing a symbol and is likely part of a larger organization.
-What are his goals? His offense is not helpful. While consorting with demons is not a pleasant thing, he doubtless has evil plans that will harm the common folk. Perhaps he is planning to overthrow a government or, even worse, he may be seeking a way to allow the demons of Hell an easy gateway into our world.

November 11, 2011

Do Character Powers Define Role-Play?

A few weeks ago, the blog Gaming Tonic wrote an article on the subject on the overwhelming choices that exist for certain RPGs, specifically Pathfinder and 4E; though to be honest many of the inherent points made within the article apply to any edition or RPG system. The basic premise of the post is that despite there being a large number of choices, in the end all the choices tend to boil down to a select few optimized builds. It then went on to proclaim that these builds inhibited role-playing since they are always the same build and thus the characters created were all the same and thus were played the same each time.

Even if I took more or less away from the article than was intended, for me it still brought up the question of…do character builds dictate role-playing of the character?

November 9, 2011

Presidential Candidates as D&D Character Sheets

I am not a political person at all, but I do like amusing and mainstream accounts of D&D. Here is a website that did up a bunch of the Presidential candidates as D&D character sheets. I'm sure there is some political bias on the part of the author, but a lot of it is funny nevertheless.

November 8, 2011

Where Did the Dungeons Come From?

Dungeons are a staple of most D&D campaign worlds. However, when it comes to world-building, why were the dungeons originally built? Why are there so many dungeons for the player characters to explore? It is a good idea to contemplate the idea of where the dungeons came from during world-building as the answers can add a level of “realism” to a campaign world and also provide adventure ideas down the road.

Here are some rationalizations for the existence and proliferation of dungeons. It is assumed these dungeons were initially created in ancient days.

November 7, 2011

Wanted: 18

This is another in the series of "wanted" posters that can be found within a campaign setting.

-A simple but effective entryway into an adventure killing orcs and taking their stuff. Sometimes that is all the players want to do some nights and if they pick up on this poster they are letting you know this is what they want for the evening.

November 3, 2011

Supervillain: Rabid


Gary Thom has the ability to control and enhance animals. He is a freelance contractor willing to do anything for money. He often teams up with others. He keeps a variety of animals at his apartment, some fairly normal and some exotic. He has also been known to use animals from local zoos on occasion.

Some of his animals are Birds (Blood Hawk Sentinel), Spiders (Deathjump Spider, Spiderling), Snakes (Deathrattle Viper, Sail Snake, Viper Swarm) Dogs (Dire Wolf, Pack of Hounds), Cats (Tiger). These animals (and their above normal stats) should be considered to already have been driven into a frenzy by Rabid. In any encounter with Rabid it should be assumed he has enough animals with him to bring the encounter up to a full encounter.

November 2, 2011

Supervillain: Headache


Georgina Lewis is a mild telepathic. She discovered her powers as a youngster in school when they came to the forefront while being harassed by the other girls. Since then she has learned to channel her powers in all the wrong ways, using it to hurt other people, much as she was hurt as a teenager. It is possible she could access other telepathic abilities if she focused and explored outside her usual ways and means, but she seems content to only use her abilities to hurt others in the most unsubtle way possible.

November 1, 2011

Supervillain: Volcano


Sid Mann is a big guy. He came from the school of hard knocks, mostly as an instructor. He has learned to use his size to his advantage. When he discovered he could summon fire, things got even better. Now he uses his prowess to his advantage, even if that means others have to suffer.

Volcano can summon fire, but for now he does not know how to cause it to shoot. Instead he usually simply makes his fists fiery as he punches the lights out of whatever steps in his way.

Volcano hires himself out to anyone that will hire his muscle. He knows he is muscle and does not delude himself into thinking he is anything but. However, this does not mean he allows himself to be taken advantage of.