Here’s the blurb for the Incarnate, from Drive Thru RPG:
The Incarnate Hybrid Class combines the powerful rage of the Barbarian and the supernatural mysteries of the Oracle into an exciting new player option compatible with the Pathfinder Role Playing Game.
Inspired by the Lovecraftian Mythos, the Incarnate brings cosmic horror into your characters’ lives in a threatening, ever-present sense. An instrument of an alien entity, your destiny is yours no longer.
Do you dare cross the alien entity that made you its avatar?
Gain amazing power over metals with the Metal Mystery for the Incarnate class.
When you can literally bend iron to your will, there’s not much that can stop you from ruling any battlefield.
You can find Margherita’s great addition to the class in Pathways #73, along with more options for the Shaman class.
The Incarnate metal mystery is a really nice addition to the class, which could use a couple more mysteries to make it really versatile.
Also, dreaming up metal based patrons to fit the class gets my GM brain excited.
Mix Galacticus with the Silver Surfer for a shiny outer god.
Or an iron demon that inspired the creation of the first iron golem. Now every sentient iron weapon is potentially and evil cultist…mwahaha!
For a long time I was against using Patreon. To me, it was just a way to ask for money.
Still, I was starting to see a bunch of Patreon campaigns that had a great offering, that gave customer something special, and that were worked as an invaluable part of the business for the company or individual that was running it. On top of that, I’ve come to realize that Patreon is the perfect platform for offering a subscription service.
And, we make adventures we’d like to publish monthly.
Sounds like a great fit to me.
Now we can offer a subscription for our products similar to what Paizo does with many of their product lines. That’s exciting, because it also means we can better connect with you, our fans.
We’re in the early days of launching our Patreon campaign, but now is a great time to jump on board and help us chart this new course. We’ve set up some tiers we think you’ll really like.
At this tier you’ll get a page or two of game mechanics, and 2-3 wallpapers from Bob Storrar, usually including art from our latest release.
And it only costs a dollar.
Bring the Heat Backer
If you’re a fan of our Choose Your Destiny solo and 1-on-1 adventures, then check out our Patreon and ensure your copy of the next installment in the campaign at this patron tier.
So far we have two adventures in the series out, with another two in editing. Three more are on the cards.
All the adventures are compatible with the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons, through the SRD and OGL.
In this series I’ll give you an overview of our sessions, with tips at the end for running your own Stranger Things campaign. Because Stranger Things Season 3 is not out at the time of writing, you don’t need to worry about spoilers, but I’m going to assume you’ve watched Season 1 and 2 already.
I described a lot of the scenes to the players in terms of the camera, and talked about what the audience might see that the characters might not know, which is what I’ve done below.
Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 1: Tuning In
Player Characters: Mr. Clarke, and any of the kids (Dustin, Lucas, Max, Mike, or Will).
The camera tracks in from a high angle showing the Hawkins school. It’s a cold day and there are no kids outside.
The camera moves through the main doors and down the hall, passing hand-made posters of pumpkins and other Halloween decorations.
The text “November 1985” comes up at the bottom of the screen.
The camera pushes through a door into a class. Mr. Clarke is busy explaining scientific concepts on the board, his back to the class.
Cut to a medium close-up of El, who’s staring out the window.
Cut to what she’s seeing in her mind’s eye: scenes from the battle with the demogorgon in the school, ending with her fight with the monster in this same classroom.
Mr. Clarke turns around and notices El isn’t concentrating, again. He confronts her.
After that, the kids checked to see if she’s okay, but don’t learn anything.
GM’s Notes: El is struggling to come to terms with her new life, and doesn’t quite fit in yet. She’s also working through all the horrors she’s faced.
Player Characters: Joyce and Hopper
The two are sitting in the car, sharing a smoke. The radio is on. Hopper has just rescued Joyce after her car broke down, again. They talk about the anniversary of all the craziness.
At some point the radio starts crackling. Tuning it does nothing; the static is on every channel. Hopper realizes that this has been happening on and off all day.
GM’s Notes: It’s a good idea to hit your players with a bunch of questions, like:
“What’s on Hopper’s mind?”
“Does Joyce have a new love interest?”
The title for Stranger Things Season 3 plays. The episode is entitled Tuning In.
GM’s Notes: Linking things as much as possible really works for a Stranger Things game. If I do my job right, my players will start freaking out every time the radio goes on the fritz.
Player Characters: Nancy and Billy. Later Mike joins.
Nancy hears the doorbell and goes to open the door. Billy is standing there. She asks him what he wants, and he says he’s there to see her mom. When Nancy asks her mom, she’s told that Billy has been hired to do odd jobs, like cleaning the pool and washing the car, because “your dad works so hard, honey, he needs his rest”.
On the radio, in the background, Would I Lie To You, by Eurythmics, is playing.
Cut to a montage with Billy doing jobs in the yard, often with his shirt off. This hops back and forth to Nancy and Mike confronting their mom. The kids used their mom’s distraction to milk her for around $50.
GM’s Notes: I expected things to blow up, with Billy or Nancy storming off. Maybe that would have happened if Billy was an NPC, but, for now, he’s right where I want him.
Me thinks the Wheeler family is doomed.
Player Characters: Dustin, Lucas, Max, Mike, and Will. Mr. Clarke joins them later.
We cut to El sitting in the AV room, listening to the radio. Again she’s spaced out, and doesn’t notice when the rest of the gang walk in.
The rest of the group asks El what’s going on, and she flips a switch that allows everyone to hear the static on the radio. She turns to Mike and says “Bad Men.” She points to his forehead, then to hers, then to his again.
They notice that Will is spacing out too.
Lucas decides that, if weird things are happening again, it’s time to go to the cops. He bums money off Mike (who’s flush with cash right now) and uses a pay phone to call. Flo at the Sheriff’s Office answers, but suspects it’s a prank call. Lucas manages to convince her that it’s serious, and she writes a note, which she puts on Hopper’s desk, under his coffee stained mug.
The kids then figure out, with the help of Mr. Clarke and a radio manual, how to calculate the distance of the transmission. Using a map, they figure that the transmission is coming from the Hawkins National Laboratory.
Lucas is creeped out all over again, and calls Hopper for a second time. This time Flo contacts Hopper over the police 2-way.
Player Characters: Hopper, Jonathan, and Steve.
A great scene follows with Hopper — who was patrolling those fields from Season 2 — sending up a rain of gravel as he high-tails it to the school.
On the way, Hopper finds Steve kicking the tires of his car in frustration. He offers him a ride.
Along the way, Hopper asks what Steve is up to lately. Steve isn’t doing much, and Hopper later offers him a job at the police station.
Cut to the kids getting on their bikes and heading to Mike’s house, after Mr. Clarke tells them that it’s getting late and Joyce has already called the school three times.
The audience sees Mr. Clarke (now an NPC) go into the AV room to clean up. He turns on the radio and listens to the static. A dark figure hits him, hard, from behind, and he slumps over.
At the school, Hopper and Steve meet Jonathan, who now works part-time with Joyce, and helps at the school’s photography club, which he is leaving from when they meet him. Jonathan takes them to the AV club.
The door is ajar, and Hopper pushes in to find Mr. Clarke standing in front of them. Mr. Clarke says that the gang have gone home. On questioning him, Jonathan figures out that there’s something weird about Mr. Clarke’s behavior, although there’s no sign that he’s been injured.
GM Notes: I had no idea what Jonathan, Steve, Nancy, and Billy would be up to in 1985, but I figure they are all out of school, but still in Hawkins, at least in November.
Mr. Clarke is no longer a playable character, and that pool of characters is likely to get a lot smaller before the end. Mwahaha!
Player Characters: Flips between Hopper, Steve, and Jonathan, and the kids. Later Dr. Sam Owens join in.
Hopper takes Steve to the Wheeler house, and Jonathan joins them there. They find that Mike already took El home, and has since returned. The remaining kids explain about the radio, and give Hopper the map showing the source of the radio disturbance.
Jonathan takes Will home (after Joyce phones the Wheeler’s).
Hopper drives home to find El asleep in front of the TV. She’s been watching “Growing Pains” and there are half-eaten Eggos on a plate in front of her.
Hopper puts her to bed before calling Dr. Sam Owens. The two have a code figured out and use it to arrange a meeting the next day.
In the morning Hopper finds out from El that the Upside Down is somehow involved, but it’s frustratingly difficult to get more information out of her.
After dropping El at school, Hopper picks Steve up and drops him off at the station. Callahan and Powell have a good go at him: “Didn’t we arrest you once?”
Hopper meets Dr. Owens, who tells him that the lab ran a mind reading program, using radio waves to boost the powers of test subject 009. It was an older project, and Owens is surprised that, if it’s the source, that it would even be running now.
GM’s Notes: If I did things differently, I’d give the teens and kids more conflict to react to during this scene. Maybe Max is having issues at home, and Lucas is taking some backlash from that. I’ll talk more about troupe style play later on, and why players might be disinclined to make things harder for themselves, which is exactly what you need in a Stranger Things game.
Player Characters: Kids, then Hopper and Steve.
We cut to the gang during recess. El is nowhere to be seen. We cut to El in the AV room again. She’s listening to the radio, hearing static. Mr. Clarke comes up behind her and places his hand on her shoulder.
Cut to black.
The credits play out with to the sound of the very really creepy Voice Carry song by ‘Til Tuesday.
After the credits we see Steve bringing Hopper his coffee. Steve asks “About my car…?”
GMing Stranger Things
Search “1985 TV Shows” on Google, look at movies that were released that year, and check out fan theories about the show. You’ll have plenty to work with.
Search “Top 100 1985” on Google for those special tracks that’ll help you tell your story. Play them at the right time and they’ll make a big impact.
Scary Synth Sound Tracks
YouTube has a ton of tracks you could play in the background. Just search “stranger synths” and find something you like.
Player Handouts — Making Them Stranger
If you’re super into it and want the font, you can buy it from myfonts.com. Way over my budget though.
If you just want a title screen, a cheaper solution is makeitstranger.com. The image at the top of this post was made there.
Troupe Style Play
For Stranger Things Season 3 I didn’t just want the players playing the kids. Imagine watching Stranger Things without seeing what the teens and adults are up to! Instead, I gave them access to the main characters, and let them pick who wanted to play who, when.
In many ways this worked, because the players had watched the show and knew the characters. Also, the vs. Stranger Stuff engine is super simple, so it was easy to glance at a character sheet and play.
What didn’t work was that the players were unlikely to throw challenges at each other. Nancy and Billy could have made for a tense scene, but who’s going to throw a spanner in the works in a cooperative game? Next time around I’ll give the players more incentive to be confrontational, or use some of the PCs as NPCs to stir things up.
Even More Inspiration
The following video is the whole reason for our Stranger Things Season 3 campaign. It’s a long one, but worth checking out if you’re still unsure about running a game using the vs. Stranger Stuff rules, or how it fits with Stranger Things.
Our next session is 2 weeks away, so see you back here next month for more from Stranger Things Season 3.
The fine art of Goblin Lugging, enjoyed across our ancient realm by men and dwarves alike. Goblin Lugging is truly a valorous challenge of strength and grit.
Each contestant grabs a goblin, then races through a series of obstacles. The winner is the first to cross the finish line with a goblin in their possession. Progress is measured in rounds for this challenge and the contestant to complete all the obstacles with a goblin in their possession in the fewest rounds is the winner.
After the starter’s whistle, each contestant must grab a goblin by making a successful grapple (see the Combat chapter in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook). There is one goblin per contestant, kept in a small pen at the start of the course. Contestant must move along the course using the move action described under the rules for grappling. If a contestant fails a grapple, then they spend 1 round trying to re-catch their goblin.
There are three obstacles along the course:
The Lake. This obstacle is 15-feet long. The contestant must make a DC 12 Swim check for each round they are in the water. On a failure, they make no progress. On a failure by more than 5, they can decide to either let go of the goblin and re-attempt the Swim check (DC 10), or they both go underwater. If a contestant’s goblin drowns they must spend 3 rounds capturing a new one.
The Wall. This wall has random hand and foot holds, and requires a successful DC 15 Climb check to get over. Contestants holding a goblin suffers a –2 circumstance penalty on this check. It takes 3 rounds to climb over the wall. If the contestant succeeds on an accelerated climb (a –5 penalty), it takes only 1 round. Contestants failing the Climb check make no progress.
The Slide. This slope has been turned into a muddy slide. Getting to the bottom is simple enough, doesn’t require a check of any kind, and takes 1 round. At the bottom of the slide the goblin gets to attempt to break the grapple, with a +2 circumstance bonus for being drenched in slippery mud.
Goblin CR 1/3 CMB +0, CMD 12
See the goblin in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary.
The winner of a game of Goblin Lugging is the first to cross the finish line, still holding their goblin.
Enjoyed this game? Be sure to check out Welcome to Scarthey, which includes the sport of Cackle-Ball!
How was 2017?
Even if you didn’t achieve everything you set out to do, don’t lose heart. These last few days of 2017 have taught me that success in anything is about chipping away until you achieve your goal.
One day you’ll get there, or, as the Dead Man Fall song Bang Your Drum goes, “keep banging on your drum, and your day will come.”
Rising Phoenix Games was born on New Year’s Eve, 2010. This year, 2017, saw us cranking up the heat, and publishing more titles than ever before. The plan is to burn hotter in 2018, and we’ve got some great things planned.
Your RPG Resolutions for Better Adventures
I asked Twitter friends for their New Year’s RPG Resolutions. Here are some of the answers I got.
I plan on developing an origions setting for world of Braxia with Saurians
If you’re a GM, then you’ll probably have similar goals.
For players, your goals might be to play you character better, or to contribute more to the fun at the table. If so, I recommend the excellent Player’s Companion, just released on the DM’s Guild.
Besides a ton of character options, the book provides excellent advice on playing your character, and on combat tactics. Included in the Better Gaming chapter is a section on action economy, which I’d never considered before but made a huge impact on how I play.
So, what are your RPG Resolutions for 2018? Share yours in the comments below — making your intentions public is a great first step to achieving them.
For me, all the things I’m interested in—game design, writing, programming, storytelling, art, model painting and sculpting, LEGO—all these passions are motivated by a burning need to be creative, to make something new, something fun.
Our motto—Tell Thrilling Tales—encompasses this to some degree. It’s also our way of saying that we want to help you, as a GM, to run better games. This year though, I’ve started adopting a new phrase:
Make Good Games
2017 was all about that, and we released a ton of content, including a load of adventures, 4 prototype video games, and a critically acclaimed mecha book. I’m not going to talk about those—there’s a full list of our titles at the end of this post, if you want to know more.
What I really want to talk about is motivation.
Making games is a dream job, and I’m lucky enough to spend most of my working day trying to bang out new titles. It’s not always easy though, and finding the motivation can be tough, especially when you’re working on a title that’s beset with frustrations.
Believing in a project, I’ve come to realize, makes all the difference. That’s why the “Make Good Games” line makes so much sense to me. Good games have value, and it’s motivating to know that a game I’m putting hours into has worth and will be something I’m proud of.
I was watching an interview (below) with Mike Pondsmith, creator of Cyberpunk 2020. How awesome is it that an RPG he designed is becoming this huge AAA video game? His passion for the game, for the setting, and for the genre is clear, and I’m pretty sure that’s going to make all the difference for Cyberpunk 2077 in the end. Mike believes in what he’s making.
To wrap up this year and this post; 2018 will be all about making good games, and less about all the other things that can so easily distract from that. Getting that right will be hard work, but 2017 taught me that we’re getting better and better at what we do. I hope you’ll join us for the ride!
One of the things Rising Phoenix Games is planning to do in 2018 is to step away from social media.
Maybe our approach hasn’t been right, but we haven’t seen much interaction or sales coming off Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. I’ll keep those channels open, but we’ll be focusing more on making great games. We’ll keep in contact with you through this blog and our email newsletter.
Marketing is important, and using social media to reach customers is useful, but I don’t need to compete with all the other businesses trying to take your hard-earned cash. This is also why our email and blog efforts are going to be more useful, filled with content you can use, rather than the hard sell.
The Patreon Controversy
I’m also looking at starting up a Patreon page, specifically to fund the projects that Bob Storrar and I know will be well received. Our University of Scarthey line, including our Choose Your Destiny solo adventures line, both launched this year, and have been well received. We’d like to give them the attention they deserve.
To be clear, our adoption of Patreon, if we do go that route, is not about people giving us money. It’s about fans being able to pay for the things they love and want. It’s a business, not a request for handouts.
What patron tier rewards would you like to see from us? Let us know in the comments below.
New Store—Coming Soon
You might notice that we’re working on our very own online store. We’re aiming to make it as easy as possible for you to get our games, and those of our affiliates, right here, on RisingPhoenixGames.com. The new store will launch sometime in the new year, around the same time that we announce our Patreon plans.
Here’s a little game I play at home over the December holidays. I call it…
Santa has a man on the inside, and it’s your job to coordinate his mission. A day or so after your Christmas tree goes up, he’ll deploy in the field, and just before it’s time to clean away the decorations, he’ll return to base with his valuable intel.
I use a 12 inch action figure or, for smaller trees, plastic ninjas, like those plastic army men.
One night, just after your tree goes up, and while the rest of the house is asleep, sneak over to the tree and hide your operative inside. The goal is for him to remain unseen, so hide him well.
And don’t tell anyone he’s there, because that would be like M saying, “hey everyone, James Bond is a spy.”
You win the game if you safely extract the operative before all the decorations get packed away and no one has spotted him.
“Daddy, daddy, there’s a ninja in the tree!” Sorry bud, you lose.
Up the difficulty by hiding your operatives gear inside Christmas tree decorations. Do this some time after deployment and be sure to remove it when you extract your operative.
Do you have any games you play over the holidays? Let us know in the comments below.
This season, we’re calling on gamers to help us collect rice and upper-cut hunger in the face, at least for the season. Our goal is to collect 1 million grains of rice by Christmas, and we can only do it with your help.