Tag Archives: GM

The Goblin of Adachigahara

Four contestants. Four adventure proposals. Only four winners…

RPG Superstar 2015

As RPG Superstar enters its final round, it may be easy to dismiss the prize of the contest, since all four contestants are essentially winning it. The prize—a chance to write an adventure proposal for Paizo—is kind of like the round 5 submission. But there’s so much more at stake here—the contest isn’t called RPG Superstar for nothing—with each contestant having grown a fan base since the beginning of round 1. And that counts for a lot. Who will be the next Gygax?

So, who’s your favourite?

Avernos Unearthed
It is said that there exists a place on the very edge of vision, hidden in the shadow of shadows, where man is not welcome and where weird, twisted things live. None venture there by design, and those who enter unwittingly struggle in vain to escape. This is Feoni, land of the fey.

Avernos Wiki

Campaign Journal
Game mastering takes effort, practice and dedication. Recently I’ve been reading the Pathfinder GameMastery Guide and thinking a lot about how I GM. Part of GMing is prep, but a whole other part is what you do at the table, which encompasses so many things: rules knowledge, social skills, time management, voice acting—the list goes on. Of all these variables, rules knowledge is probably the easiest to tackle during prep time and between sessions.

Last week I took a practice exam for DCI Rules Advisor, which might not have anything to do with roleplaying, but did get me thinking even more about rules. Things can get confusing, but usually it all comes down to common sense and an understanding of how the rules are written. What keywords are important for the game and how do they work? In Pathfinder we have checks and actions, with so much coming from the interactions of those two. Can you make an attack roll (it’s a kind of check) during a move action? No. Why? Well that all comes down to understanding those keywords and what they mean and how they work.

So if in doubt, go back to the basics, especially those keywords.

Rising Phoenix News

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Inspired in Japan
Last week we battled an oni in Kyoto. This week we come face to face with The Goblin of Adachigahara.

In the story, a lost monk comes to the home of an old lady, who is actually a human-eating goblin*. She doesn’t invite him in at first, but finally lets him sit by her fire and feeds him. When her fire dies down she tells him not to look into the back room of the house, then goes out to gather firewood. When the priest gives in to his curiosity, he finds the grizzly remains of all her past victims. Making a run for it, he is chased through the night by a very angry—and probably hungry—geriatric goblin.

*In Japanese folklore, oni and goblin can be used interchangably, so the term goblin is used lightly here.

This tale could easily be turned into a thrilling, roleplay heavy, horror encounter.

Scene 1, the PCs are travelling at night. Perhaps they failed a navigation check or were given a missleading map. Force them to roll against the cold and fatigue, then offer them a shining light in the distance. On closer investigation they find the run-down home of an old woman who isn’t overly eager to let them in.

Scene 2, the delapidated hut. The old woman eventually lets the party in, offering them some rice and stoking up the fire. She’s friendly enough, but mostly she’s polite, and that offers interesting leverage—sure, you can go and collect the wood, but you’ll offend your host. For this scene a good knowledge of Japanese ettiquete makes all the difference between a good session and a great session, and you’ll want to give your players some prep too, so they can play along. The scene ends when the old lady tells the party not to go into the back room, then goes out to collect firewood. This the time to start building the suspense, which means it’s a perfect time for those Knowledge(local) rolls and the howling wind to pick up.

A lot will depend on how the players feel about their situation starting out. They might expect that the old woman will have a mission for them, that the cottage is really a safe place to be and that, after all, she’s just a little old lady. You want to lull them into a sense of peace. One option for this is the cold, but the party could also be hiding from monsters or just need a place to get those eight hours of rest.

Scene 3. The PCs will either stay around the fire, leave, or explore the house. All three options will probably lead to a confrontation with the goblin. So what kind of stats are we looking at here? I’d probably make her human and stat her as an NPC with ranks in commoner. With a reputation as a “goblin”, this little old lady cannibal is so much scarier than a real goblin. But really, she could be anything, whatever fits best with your campaign.

Once you’ve figured out who or what she is, the rest is fairly simple—the party needs to deal with her and get out of there. The cottage gives you a lot to play with; you could have traps, haunts, undead servants, prisoners that need freeing, rats, whatever fits with your idea of her hut.

For more inspiration, read up on Adachigahara, a sci-fi version of the story, and about the grusome Onibaba.

That’s all from me until next week.
Tell Thrilling Tales

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The Hero’s Journey

Last week I promised to tell you about a great structure for your stories and games. Well, let me introduce Joseph Campbell, and his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Mr Campbell says that all myths, no matter where and when they were created, share a common series of events. This structure is common to all heroes, from Luke Skywalker to Harry Potter, from Wolverine to Superman.

Here are some of the steps on the heroes journey:

A Call To Adventure
The hero or heroin lives in the normal world until receiving a call to enter a new, fantastical world. This is Gandalf inviting Bilbo to leave the Shire.

A Road of Trials
Having taken the first step, the hero now faces difficult challenges. This is the Fellowship of the Ring and their perilous flight through Moria.

The Hero's Story. © Danielle Storey
The Hero’s Journey. © Danielle Storey

The Goal or Boon
Having overcome great challenges, the hero now receives some boon that will aid him in his quest. This is Wolverine getting his adamantium skeleton, after being defeated by Sabertooth (in X-Men Origins: Wolverine).

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”– Joseph Campbell

 

Return to the Ordinary World
The hero then returns to the world with the boon, facing troubles on the way. Luke Skywalker heading into Vader’s trap after training with Yoda, anyone?

Application of the Boon 
The triumphant hero returns and uses the boon to improve the world he left. This is Harry Potter returning to his foster parents with his magical abilities.

Here’s another great explanation of the Hero’s Journey by Matthew Winkler...

Consider the Hero’s Journey when you create your next campaign or story, and how you might use it to challenge the heroes and make their impact more meaningful.

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NPC Strategy Sheets

By far one of our most popular free downloads, NPC Strategy Cards are a useful tool for any GM. They are especially tailored to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and 4th Ed.

NPC Strategy Cards Book Cover
NPC Strategy Cards Book Cover

Using Strategy Cards

Before a session, look at your monsters and NPCs. Fill out a card for each. If you have 6 orcs with the same tactics, you don’t need 6 cards for them, just one for the group.
Use this writing time to plan how each monster will react to different actions from the players. Do they flee when they’re badly wounded, or stay and fight to the death? Do they rush into the melee, or take up bows and attack from a distance? Make your choices and write them down.

These cards are a handy reference during play, just look at the card to see how the NPC reacts. They’re also useful after play as a handy record for recapping the last session.

Grab your free cards here and go crush those heroes!

A Game of Thrones – Book Review

A Game of Thrones is probably not new to most people, what with the HBO series out and all. I just finished reading the book and so I thought a review was in order. For Game Masters I think the book highlights a couple of questions that are worth considering.

I’m a big Tolkien fan, and it’s not often that I find a book I’d even consider comparing with his works. A Game of Thrones, however, is a book to reckon with.

Continue reading A Game of Thrones – Book Review