Encounters ~ Plots ~ Places, a system neutral book full of NPCs, Encounters, Items and Places is available now!

Encounters ~ Plots ~ Places is a source book for any fantasy role playing game. In it you will find Non-player characters, items, adventure hooks, encounters & beasties – all easily added to your campaign with a minimum of effort. 50+ pages full of adventure, intrigue, danger and rewards. EPP is available starting today as a PDF at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow for just $6.00. Softcover editions will be coming to both DTRPG and Amazon.com in the near future.

NPCs

Detail descriptions and motivations, including suggestions for powers, dominant traits and the reasoning behind their existence. Each NPC is well fleshed out and includes suggestions for inserting them into your campaigns.

Encounters

Interesting and original creatures and situations that can be used as one off encounters, side quests or as the basis for larger adventures within your campaign. Great for conventions, one shot games, or as detailed additions to your current campaign.

Items

New magical items that have never been seen before. Detailed descriptions, methods of operation, usage and pitfalls for every item.

Places

Eerie villages, sites of conflict, areas of interest: detailed descriptions of areas your party can wander through. Add in an items, encounters and NPCs as you see fit.

Adventure Hooks

Brief summaries for use in creating your own adventures. Think of them as seeds from which your entire campaign can grow.

The Goods

The PDF version is actually 3 PDFs. The base PDF is 7.5MB in size and has everything you need. The tablet optimzed PDF is 20+MB in size and works on iPads and android tablets. Finally, the easy print PDF is 7.2MB in size and has a white background with no cover, to minimize toner use. EPP weighs in at 63 pages in length, 60 of which is pure content.

12 fully fleshed out NPCs, ready to add depth and dimension to your game.

15 detailed encounters to keep your players on their toes.

6 fresh, new items to instill that sense of wonder back into your game.

5 detailed places for your characters to discover.

You’ll find links between all of the above throughout the document, highlighting NPCs, encounters, items and places that work extraordinarily well together.

In addition to this, several pages of adventure hooks to get your GM creative juices flowing!

The Deal

Retailing at $6.00 for the PDF, when I kickstarted this I set the pre-order price at $5.00. For the next week you too can take advantage of the pre-order price and save yourself a buck. If you click this link, you’ll be taken directly to DrivethruRPG with EPP in your cart at the $5.00 price.

Encounters ~ Plots ~ Places

Coming Wednesday: Encounters ~ Plots ~ Places! A system neutral source book chock full of what you need

Encounters ~ Plots ~ Places

Encounters ~ Plots ~ Places is a source book for any fantasy role playing game. In it you will find Non-player characters, items, adventure hooks, encounters & beasties – all easily added to your campaign with a minimum of effort. 50+ pages full of adventure, intrigue, danger and rewards.

NPCs

Detail descriptions and motivations, including suggestions for powers, dominant traits and the reasoning behind their existence. Each NPC is well fleshed out and includes suggestions for inserting them into your campaigns.

Encounters

Interesting and original creatures and situations that can be used as one off encounters, side quests or as the basis for larger adventures within your campaign. Great for conventions, one shot games, or as detailed additions to your current campaign.

Items

New magical items that have never been seen before. Detailed descriptions, methods of operation, usage and pitfalls for every item, including adventure hooks useful for creating larger adventures based around each item.

Places

Eerie villages, sites of conflict, areas of interest: detailed descriptions of areas your party can wander through, complete with adventure hooks. Add in an items, encounters and NPCs as you see fit.

Adventure Hooks

Brief summaries for use in creating your own adventures. Think of them as seeds from which your entire campaign can grow.

The Game Mechanic: Mixed Company.

Image courtesy of BarefootLiam-Stock.

I play with a fairly mixed bag of psychotic cats individuals: a few old hands clashing with the newer generation of gamers, while those with a foot in either camp watch with bemusement from the sidelines. While there are no real edition wars to speak of at our table, the difference between those who have been running in a system for a few versions and those who have just arrived to the campaign can become fairly weighty over time.

After the jump, we are going to examine how we can help bridge that gap during game, as well as helping to run a better game for people who might have conflicting concepts of what they want from the table.

Continue reading “The Game Mechanic: Mixed Company.”

City of Clocks on Kickstarter – check it!

As someone developing their own system neutral source book, I can only applaud the effort that’s going into this one! I’ve chatted online with James who’s spearheading this project and it truly sounds amazing!
City of Clocks is a systemless industrial fantasy setting focused on a massive city, rich in history, on the brink of a massive internal conflict. The city is home to two million souls, mostly human but also a smattering of other races. The city is a pressure-cooker of tensions among the noble houses that roost at the top of the societal food-chain, the various factions that struggle for the hearts and minds of the working class, and the autocratic Parliament that sits atop it all and bring an iron fist down on anyone who would dispute their rule. In all this, an ancient seed of power is awakening in humanity, a genetic legacy that once brought down humanity’s predecessor-creators and could spell out the same fate for the Parliament and any who’d deny the people of the city freedom. The Incarna, those imbued with these strange and terrible abilities, now take sides in a burgeoning conflict that could finally free the city — or destroy it entirely.

City of Clocks as a project has a very long history. I originally started writing it in 2003 as a setting for Dream Pod 9’s Silhouette system (which is where most folks may have heard of it), and the project went into hiatus for many years until it was revived recently. The publisher who currently owns the rights to City of Clocks has no plans to publish, so we are raising money through Kickstarter to fund a rights buy-back, to pay for layout and art for the setting, and to fund all the minor things that come with a product release. Unlike a lot of other Kickstarter projects, City of Clocks is completely written and edited, and the bulk of the Kickstarter drive is to get back the rights to the setting and put it out there for people to use however they like, be it for tabletop gaming, minis play, tactical wargaming, or whatever else they’d like to do with it.

The Game Mechanic: Xanatos Gambits.

Image courtesy of Deviantart member Superdiddy.

A Xanatos Gambit, according to TV Tropes, is a two-tiered plan designed to assure victory, even in the face of apparent defeat. It’s named after a character from a certain animated series who was a master at this particular tactic, and would often use it to manipulate the story’s protagonists into fulfilling his own goals in spite of their supposed foiling of his presented plot.

Today, we’re going to be examining the Xanatos Gambit and its potential usage for your campaign, as well as taking a few cautionary measures to ensure your players don’t start busting out the torches and pitchforks after their own actions come back to haunt them.

Continue reading “The Game Mechanic: Xanatos Gambits.”

Kingmaker Reflections

 

image courtesy openDemocracy at Flickr

Last week my local gaming group finished up the Kingmaker Adventure Path from Paizo. We started the campaign very near Gen Con 2010 and just finished last week. I was the GM for the campaign as it was my turn in the GM’s chair. The campaign was certainly not without its challenges, both in character and purely from the getting the group together perspective.

This was one of the longer-term campaigns our group has completed and the first Adventure Path we have completed. It was a fun campaign and I think the group had a fairly positive feel about the experience.

This post is a reflection on the campaign from the GM’s chair touching a little bit on the out of game factors to a successful long term campaign and from the in game perspective.

The Meta

As I noted above, we started this campaign right around Gen Con 2010 and just finished last week for a total of about 19 months from start to finish. During the course of play we did have a couple of extended scheduling issues.

The first was an event at home that necessitated a gap in play where I could not GM. During this time the other major GM in the group stepped up and ran us through a mini-campaign arc of Star Wars. This Kingmaker sabbatical allowed me the time from GMing to focus on the more important issue I had going on at the moment. Luckily the other GM in our group was able to keep the group with some momentum by running another game at this time frame.

The second extended break which lasted about five weeks ironically enough happened just before the finale of the sixth book. It did not have a single significant event but truly was a set of continuous scheduling difficulties between various group members. In fact for the last session we were actually short one player, but with another on vacation this week we as a group felt it best to simply continue forward rather than lose more momentum.

Despite these two scheduling issues we were still able to take the campaign to its completion. I attribute a lot of that to our group being a good set of friends who are all very patient. Each is aware that scheduling issues and other matters sometimes surface and we as a group just roll with them. That is a huge factor in the success of any long-term campaign in my opinion.

Having another GM within the group to help keep the group gaming when I had the first extended absence was also quite helpful. It helped keep the game on everyone’s schedule and keep things fun instead of simply missing session after session when I needed the sabbatical.

The Campaign

The Kingmaker campaign was a lot of fun, though not without its challenges. One of the early challenges was the small number of encounters per day aspect of Kingmaker. During exploration it was frequently the case that the players would only face a single encounter, maybe two if they had a random encounter as well. This allowed the characters to use the best of their resources in most combats as they did not have as much motivation to hold back a little. This seemed to make a lot of the encounters relatively easy. There are several mini-dungeons in the AP and those were the more fun sessions for me. The party seemed more challenged and the fights seemed more interesting.

A lot of people will say use the random encounters more to keep this one encounter per day from being an issue. That works when used occasionally, but it just didn’t feel right to repeatedly throw random encounters simply to scale up the daily challenge. I simply decided that letting the characters be heroes on a regular basis was not a major issue.

My other recommendation for GMs running Kingmaker is to read all six of them well ahead of time before running the campaign. Several people find fault with book six because it seems to come from out of nowhere. If you know what is in book six it makes it much easier to foreshadow certain events and make sure book six fits in a little better. I think this was one of my stronger points of the campaign, making sure that book six was adequately foreshadowed so it didn’t seem so out of left field. In fact book six was my favorite one to run out the whole AP. It really helped make up for the single encounter per day issue noted above.

Now one of my shortcomings for the campaign was not developing the NPCs thoroughly enough. Kingmaker is quite sandboxy and ripe for the creation of interesting and fun NPCs. I dropped the ball here and too many of my NPCs felt like cardboard cutouts. I am taking this as an opportunity to improve my GMing for the next campaign though and learning to put more time in NPC development to add that layer of depth to the campaign. So if you are running or planning to run Kingmaker, make sure you have a good method of building and creating NPCs with some depth. I think it will really add to your campaign.

The group I ran for did do the Kingdom building. Only one player really handled the Kingdom side of things and a lot of the building was done outside of our face-to-face sessions and done on the message forums we use between sessions. It worked well for us and let them build a kingdom without necessarily consuming face-to-face game time. If your group does not seem to interested in the Kingdom building portion of the AP, I would encourage you to use the Kingdom in the Background rules and not feel pressured to make your players tackle a portion of the AP they have little interest in doing.

Wrap Up

The Kingmaker was a fun time for our group. Here I have tried to outline some of things that contributed to the campaign’s success – both at and away from the game table. Several of these thoughts could easily be applied to your own long-term campaign, whether it be a published module or a home brew.

What have you found to be keys to your long-term campaign’s success? Downfalls?

The End Of The World As We Know It: your guide to playing a survivalist in a modern game.

Image Courtesy of Elli Thor Magnusson and Corbis The Apocalypse is very popular right now. Zombies, peak oil, economic collapse, nuclear war and various creative interpretations of the Mayan Calendar have set more and more people prepping for the end of days, or just having fun talking about it and making plans for various hypothetical scenarios.

With our current cultural obsession for the End Times rivaling our fervor for the Futuristic Dystopian Government in the eighties, it stands to reason that somebody’s going to want to run a game about the inevitable rise of the Undead or a nuclear warhead falling on us out of nowhere.

For situations like this, rolling up a survivalist can give you serious edge over the challenges you may face, as well as just being a highly entertaining character to play.

I’ve broken this post up into two sections. The first deals with a few of the different philosophies and lays out a few lovingly tongue-in-cheek templates I’ve developed over years of browsing through various forums and other online communities as well as a few personal encounters with other survivalists. The second section, which will be posted a week from now, is a system-neutral guide to gear, with a few bits of individual equipment, advice on building gear kits for your character, and other pointers for making your wasteland warrior pop.

Continue reading “The End Of The World As We Know It: your guide to playing a survivalist in a modern game.”

Adventure Modules as Time Savers?

 

Like many GMs I find myself strapped for time with responsibilities of work to put food on the table, family events and general chores that need to be done around the household. While I enjoy running games I often look for ways to save some prep time for a game and quite frequently fall to running published adventure modules as a means to save that preparation time.

My most recent campaign is in the final stages of finishing up the Kingmaker Adventure Path from Paizo for the Pathfinder RPG system. It has been a very fun campaign so far and the players have been having a good time so far.

But I have to question whether I actually saved myself time by choosing to run a published adventure path instead of just coming up with things on my own. I frequently find myself asking this question when I run published adventures usually amidst reading through the module trying to make sure I have all the plot hooks woven into the tale straight so I don’t paint myself into a corner later on in the module or adventure path.

With published modules I inevitably end up spending a fair portion of time just making sure I have all of the plot hooks straight, fully understand the NPCs in the module and watching for areas where the players might go “off track”. With published modules there is more pressure to keep the players somewhat on the path that is set out in the module or at least be thinking of them to bring them back to it if need be.

Are these published modules really saving me that much time? I am not so sure.

Even as a busy GM I think I might be able to run just as entertaining and certainly more fluid sessions just by crafting my own adventures in the beginning and then let the players decisions drive the game from there. I would likely choose some small section of an already established campaign setting, do my initial research on the region and then sketch out a few major happenings. Create a few power groups, a few noteworthy NPCs and then think of a few starter adventures to help get things going in the early sessions.

As those early session unfold the GM can get a better sense of what the players are after and adapt on the fly as the campaign unfolds to explore those areas more. The GM will still need to prep for sessions, but I often think the prep will have greater gains than simply trying to prepare a module that might not be hitting the areas the players want to focus on.

In addition I think I would be more relaxed during a session as well. I will have much less worry about describing an NPC wrong or doing something on the fly that contradicts something in the module later. In a world where the adventures are my own I will have that full control. I won’t have to worry as much about invalidating something that was pre-written later on in the module. This new found flexibility would likely allow me to adapt much better to the PCs as they do something unexpected or spend more time interacting with an NPC I had not expected.

Running a game takes work on the GMs behalf. Whether it be studying a published module or sketching out the background of an adventure you write, there is work to be done. I am beginning to think though that the work put into my own adventures and campaigns would lead to a more relaxed and enjoyable session due to the flexibility. Perhaps the next game I run will be one of my own devise instead of defaulting to a published module because I am too busy.

What do you think? Do you think published modules actually save you time? Or can you get more out of a session you prepped yourself with about the same amount of work going into it?

Drawing A Blank

 

You have a game coming up at the end of the week and your mind keeps wandering in circles, drifting off to other things and not doing what you want it to. Give you ideas for the game you need to run! Think, think and think and it just is not cooperating. You have hit that wall, the wall that good ideas do not seem to want to cross.

Maybe you have read my previous post on images as inspiration. And now you have spent an hour trolling the Internet looking at various images from many sites across the Internet. Still nothing. Not even images are providing that spark for your upcoming game and time is running out.

Let’s take a look at some other source of inspiration that can sometimes be used to spark either a small idea for an upcoming gaming session or even kick off a whole campaign.

Television

When looking for ideas there is always television. Choose your genre, watch a few shows and then adapt something from there to your game. The fun part of this is that you can choose to watch something that might be science fiction based and then adapt a core concept from that show to a fantasy genre. Or you can go the other way as well. Watch a fantasy based movie and take a concept from that and redress it as something for your futuristic science fiction game.

I have even had good luck with kid’s cartoons to come up with ideas on the fly. I actually really enjoy watching a Scooby Doo episode and taking a couple of ideas from it to adapt for a gaming session. I still have a village that was uncovered when the water from a lake disappeared that is screaming to be included in one of my games.

Continue reading “Drawing A Blank”

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