July 29, 2011

Quick Tip- Unique Names

One simple way to differentiate NPCs and locations is by naming them uniquely. One easy way to do this is to start each one with a different letter of the alphabet. It makes it easier for people to distinguish two names if they start with unique letters.
If I see two NPCs, named Sean and Seth, I find I can confuse the two, especially if they are not NPCs I interact with a lot. By changing up their first letter, Sean and Jeth, my mind compartmentalizes them into a different alphabetical partition, making it easier to keep them separate.

If you find yourself running low on unique letters you can start to use a digraph; two consonants brought together to make a unique sound, such as BRing, SLide, STeve.

July 26, 2011

Killing Is XP

I know a lot of players hate the xp-for-killing method of advancement. Some say it feels contrived; others that it promotes combat over role-playing. People have sounded off looking for other ways to grant xp for years. Some have looked at rewarding successful completion of a goal, the end-of-quest reward. However, I say that killing is xp, accomplishing a goal is not.

July 25, 2011

Wanted: 10

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

-Yet another way for a player to be proud of being an adventurer and a way to earn some "free" gold. Things that could go wrong include: the painter is evil and is able to control people through his paintings (having a stable of adventurers to do his bidding unknown is a huge plus for evil), the painter falls in love with one of the subjects, the painter is behind in her "protection money", this is a means to make a list of all the adventurers in town.

July 22, 2011

Dark Sun Days

Like the rest of the US, I am sitting in extreme heat today; we should be around 110 with the Heat Index. Being the rpg geek I am, I immediately thought of how this is close to how it must feel to be in a Dark Sun adventure. Unrelenting heat where you start sweating profusely five minutes after starting to move. Where your shirt clings to you from the sweat and tugs at you. Where that cold bottle of water is warm after only 30 minutes...and has lost all ability to refresh because of this. Where all your energy is sapped from your body before your day's activity has even begun. Where that large ice tea from Dunkin' Donuts tastes like the best thing ever created.

All this is stuff we need to remember as DMs (and players) when describing such a similar experience within a game setting. The feelings we have in a similar situation in real life can be more readily translated into a game experience. By remembering how and why we feel as we do in this heat, it will aid us in describing what is happening to the characters when it happens in game.

This can be applied to other situations. Ever had to try and move through 4 feet of snow on your way to the end of the driveway? Ever sit by a babbling brook on a cloudless summer day as a cool breeze washes over you? Ever been out in the pouring cold rain as it comes down in sheets and turns the ground to a clinging mud? All these experiences that are had by us in real life can be brought into a game setting and used to enhance descriptions and invoke a greater sense of immersion.

This does not have to only apply to weather conditions; it can also apply to other experiences. Ever had to shovel 4 feet of snow in your driveway? This is similar to how it feels to dig out that collapsed tunnel in the dungeon. Ever had as serious injury such as a knife cut or car accident? This is similar to how it feels after a combat. Ever been on a long road trip where you had to drive 24 hours without sleep? This is similar to to how it feels when your character is forced to make an Endurance check on a long journey.

Remember the unique times of real life experience. There is often a correlation to an in-game experience that can be used to enhance your game.

July 19, 2011

Farstead Part Four: In Play & Change

In Play Mechanics
Now that the world is set up we can start playing. For the exploration, I will take a look at how many potential special items the characters can find. From there each member of the party will make a Nature roll with a DC20. For every success, the group will have found one of the special items from my list per day of exploring.

The understanding is that the group is making a diligent effort to explore the entire hex; this means they are traveling into dells, into hidden places, into every valley, behind every hill. I allow those who made the Nature roll to randomly roll to see which of the available special locations they discover in the hex. Eventually they will discover all the special features/items and the hex is then considered fully explored.

July 18, 2011

Wanted: 9

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

-Kor may be the mastermind behind a string of thefts...or the underling posed to take the fall in a clever game of misdirection. The real mastermind may have been using Kor as a frontman while he remains free from suspicion. However, capturing Kor first may be a way to get closer to the true mastermind.

July 15, 2011

Farstead: Terrain

This is the list of Unique Terrain for my Farstead campaign. These are "naturally" occuring features such as vegetation, simple animals or geography. They are designed to be out of the ordinary or something easy to remember. These should be easy to add into any campaign setting, especially as most of these would be local occurances so it would make sense that only the local inhabitants would know about them. This helps to explain why they do not appear on any maps. Just be aware that some of these can potentially alter a setting and its economics.

July 14, 2011

Farstead: Mysteries

This is the list of Mysterious things the characters can find in my Farstead campaign. They are meant to be unexplained, perhaps for the entirety of the campaign. Perhaps someday they will be explained but nothing is set in stone right now and I can use them later to fill a void if needed. Until then they are meant to show the characters that they can not "know it all".
In your own campaign they can be used for something similar or maybe you have an idea of how they can fit into your world to add something unique and different.

July 13, 2011

Farstead: Snakes

This is the list of Snake Notes for my Farstead campaign. These are various things the characters can discover during their explorations. They are meant to be mysterious and set a tone. Each time the characters discover one of these it will reinforce the notion that the land they are exploring was once the home of intelligent snake people. Even if your own campaign does not have a snake motif, most of these ideas can be converted to your own campaign. For instance, if your own world was once ruled by dragons, the Bone Dome can house dragon bones instead of snake bones. The intent here is to reinforce knowledge of the ancient world in your campaign.

July 12, 2011

Farstead Part Three: Populating the Map

Now comes the fun part of world creation. I get to decide what is going into each of the hexes. One thing I do when populating areas is to give myself a list of things I want in each hex. For the purposes of this hexcrawl, I want each hex to contain the following: a Delve, Snake Note, Mystery and Unique Terrain.

Delve- I want at least one dungeon. Most of these will consist of 2-3 encounters. Dungeon Magazine from WotC and DnDInsider has been releasing a series of short adventures for their Chaos Scar sandbox that all fall within the 1-6 level range. I will be using a lot of these to populate my immediate area.

July 11, 2011

Wanted: 8

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

-This is a large amount to offer for the recovery of a lost item. Perhaps the gems are worth alot of gold, or perhpas the item is magical. There may also be other groups looking for the item.
-The item may be cursed, a curse that affects the party as they recover the item. Additional adventures may be needed to remove this curse from the party.

July 5, 2011

Farstead Part Two: The Map

Having determined what options I would allow for character generation, I next had to make the world/continent. For this I decided to use HexMapper (Arr-Kelaan Software-AKS) a program that came out over 13 years ago. I’m not even sure you can still find it online anymore. Here is a website that talks about this version of HexMapper (there are others with the same name but are not the same thing) with a link to a yahoo group that still uses it. I am not part of the group so I don’t know what you can download from there. http://www.welshpiper.com/arr-kelaan-hexmapper.

July 4, 2011

Wanted: 7

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

-Pol Murk is likely the leader of a gang of thieves. Perhaps he a meticulous thinker who plans all his robberies out in advance. He uses disguises and other trickery to stay ahead of the law. The party may be hired to protect a warehouse that rumors have said Pol Murk is planning on robbing.