“Location, location, location.” Where you set your RPG encounter is every bit as important as the monsters that make up your CR budget. Here’s a quick guide to creating awesome locations.
Like a good movie, you want your locations to be interesting, challenging, and above all, memorable. Some good examples are Smaug’s vast Treasure Room under the Lonely Mountain and the sprawling Goblin City in The Hobbit.
First, ask yourself, what kind of location do you want? Is it a dark jungle, vast ice cave or dank swamp? Let your monster choices inspire you.
What thematic features does your location have? Can you swing from vines in your jungle, or are the trees incredibly old towers that reach high into the clouds? Make a list of these features. Then, choose one main feature to focus on and two for added detail.
How do these features help or hinder PCs? If you have a river, how wide and how deep is it? Does it lie across the heroes path or do enemies float down it towards them. Are there sharp rocks and how can you avoid them? What other hazards can you think of, and which will add the most to the encounter?
Whatever features you come up with, play them up and make them extraordinary.
Mapping Your Location
Once you have your theme and features, it’s time to sketch your map. Think about where the PCs and monsters start, and how you want to use your features. If your location has multiple levels, draw a side on sketch to help you conceptualize the area.
Next, take some time to research rules related to your features, such as falling, lava and ice mechanics. If the giant statue in the centre of the map is going to move, how will PCs interact with it and who will be rolling what, and when?
Now draw your map on paper or a dry erase grid map. Pay special attention to distances, if you want the heroes to be able to jump the chasm, make sure they can. Use different colours and symbols to help your players read the map. For extra points, you can use small pieces of black origami paper to create your own Fog of War.
That’s it, why not leave a comment to tell me what you came up with.
The local tavern isn’t just a drinking hole, or a place to hear far fetched tales. It’s a home, a meeting place for a group of adventurers who share a common bond, who’ve built their trust in each other through countless battles and exhilarating adventures. While not every adventure starts in the tavern, the best ones always end there, with arguments over loot put to rest when the barman taps a keg.
The Pewter Tankard TavernMap is an inch grid map, perfect for use with most fantasy role-playing miniatures. This PDF contains 3 versions of the same A4 map and several ideas for including it in your fantasy RPG campaign.
“Yo ho ho and a bottle of cheap rum!” Oh how we love pirates! They may be scumbags, but we love them so much! A salty campaign at sea always sounds like a good idea doesn’t it? In fact, I recently finished writing a pirate adventure which our group is playing though at the moment, and through that I did some research into the great stuff available for the sea bound gaming group.
Please note, some of these products have affiliate links so that I can make some money, which helps me keep this site going. However, I’ve only reviewed stuff I actually thought was worth recommending.
What are pirates without their maps? And what’s a game session without a good battle map? A decent ship map has to be the first port of call for any piratical GM.
I went onto Amazon and bought the GameMastery Flip-Mat: Pirate Ship. It’s super useful, but there were aspects I didn’t like. One side has a top down view of two ships with gang planks between them while the other side has the lower levels of the primary ship, with parts repeated and parts missing (such as the ship’s wheel). I would have liked to be able to fold the map to reveal only one top view of a ship at a time. A nice aspect is that you can fold the map to show just one level of the ship, however, it is at the cost of multiple views of the action. Also, while masts are represented, there’s not much indication of where all the rigging is. There are some cheaper print and play maps out there that have done a nice job with rigging, so I really would have liked to see that here. My last gripe is about the ship’s texturing. I really like how they did the water, but the deck of the actual ship is a little too fake, in my opinion. That said, the map is fully compatible with the GameMastery Map Pack: Ship’s Cabins and makes it that little bit more useful. Unlike anything print and play, this is dry erase, which means you can write on it with markers – a huge plus.
I’ve been listening to the Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack as inspiration for my pirate adventure, which I actually got onto because our GM uses it in our current campaign. It creates the perfect mood whether your adventure’s nautical or other.
Also, because I’m a big fan, check out Blackmore’s Night’s – Loreley, which works nicely when timed right. They have a bunch more stuff that I’ve played at LARP’s, so I generally punt Blackmore’s Night whenever I can. I mean it’s Richie Blackmore for crying out loud. Deep Purple… you know. Smoke on the Water. Okay, okay, I’ve had my say.
Another band worth checking out, if only for inspiration, is Turisas, and their song Hunting Pirates.
I really like proper miniatures, in metal or plastic, but recently I’ve found paper miniatures to be super useful, especially when travelling to the next game session on a crowded train. I’ve looked at a number of printable miniatures and nothing “pirate” really appeals to me, whereas I really like the Militia Men available from onemonk.com. I think real pirates probably looked more like these guys than the popularised image of pirates. Then again, I was raised on Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play, so I may be biased.
As for metal and plastic figures, there are plenty out there, so I won’t review anything now. I just wish Wizards had released a few more pirate figures with their Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures; I think they only ever did one. Luckily though, there are also hundreds of pirate toys out there, like these, which may fit into your game, even if they’re a little cheesy. My advice: shop around.
Pretty much any toy store will carry loads of pirate props – typically hats, eye-patches, pistols and swords. Look around a bit and you might even find pirate loot. Making a map is a pretty neat touch to any campaign and you can do that in a number of ways, from dipping paper in tea to stain it and burning the edges to designing something in Photoshop. Check out this tutorial on Wired.
Well, that should be enough to keep you, *ahem*, afloat. Got any other neat ideas? Please share, I’d love to hear from you.
I could trace the origin of this blog back to many sources, but one of the most prominent must be when I started writing modules for the convention circuit back in Gauteng South Africa, specifically for UPCON and ICON. ICON was actually the first convention I ever attended, going there for comic books (Spider-Man mostly). I came out of that convention with a box of Warhammer 40k, which eventually lead to role-playing. So I kind of think ICON was where most things began for me in a way. But enough rambling, this year again I’m submitting a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventure, Death in the Deep.
So, wouldn’t it be neat if players and GM’s could get additional information about the module online? Wouldn’t it be great if other interested readers could get a taste of the adventure? Well, that’s what this page is all about. I’m posting it now, but it’s sure to change as more information and downloads become available here.
#NEWS FLASH! – 30 March 2012# Just submitted the module and all the character sheets. I’m pretty proud of the outcome. I reckon this is my best work so far.
#NEWS FLASH! – 13-14 April 2012 Play Test# Our Japan group, who were a witch, wizard, fighter and stow away rouge (she only joined the fight when the Loreley split in two, managed to wound the sea serpent so badly that it ended up with a Dex of 8 and made it’s escape. The adventurers then made it to land where they sheltered for the night, uncomfortably close to a boggard camp. They then made their way on foot and by horse to Dead Mans Landing, passing the town of Gold Bridge, ruled by Duke One-Eye. They found Lantern Tower to be trapped, a store house for the 8-9-3.
It pays to be ready. All the following items are not required, but may prove useful to GM’s running the module.