I was just looking at the Pathfinder Humble Bundle over at humblebundle.com and wow, what a deal. You can grab all the books you’ll ever need to play for a meager $18, and for $25 you’ll even get maps, dice and tokens. I can’t recommend this offer enough. Not only do you get to support a charity of your choice, but you’ll also be supporting a great publisher and an excellent initiative.
Four contestants. Four adventure proposals. Only four winners…
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?
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.
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
We’ve slashed our tile prices for this week only. Save big on Print-on-Demand and PDF titles until March 27th. Get em now!
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.
That’s all from me until next week.
Tell Thrilling Tales
In my spare time I’ve been reading the Paizo forums and found a wealth of tips, tricks and loads of encouragement for aspiring game designers. I recommend you check it out, even if you’re not a Pathfinder player/GM.
Here are four things I’ve learnt from voting in round 1.
1. Make Many, Submit One
I had a few ideas, but only one that I fleshed out. Next time I’d try create a list of 10 ideas, flesh out 4 and then have my friends and mentors give some feedback before I submit the best of the lot.
2. Awesomeness Rules
There were some really fun items I got to vote on, items that I want to bring to the table both as a player and as a GM. What makes an item fun? It’s subjective and hard to nail down, but the item needs to get people excited to win this contest.
3. Every Word Counts
Anything you put down in the item description needs to make sense. There were a number or “unexpectedly light” items that I came across. Fine. They’re magical. I can go with that. But it has to make sense with regard to the items theme, not just be a random feature. And at the same time, don’t eat up word count repeating things or trying to be verbose. Shorter entries often grabbed my attention over longer entries.
I saw many items that made the wielder immune to certain attacks or effects. Invincibility is only fun for the guy who’s invincible, and only for a little while. Look at any item you create from the perspective of all the players and the GM. If everyone’s going to have fun, you’ve got a keeper.
For more lessons learned this year, check out the forum. Enjoy Round 2!
The Avernos Wiki grows a little more every week. Hey, if I keep it up I’ll have 52 new entries by the end of the year.
This week we add dragons to the mix, Elder Dragons to be exact. These ancient beasts are responsible for much of the land as it is today.
I do like dragons, and I wanted to use chromatic and metallic dragons (such as in D&D/Pathfinder), but tie them into the creation legends of Avernos in a meaningful way. Last week I spoke about darkness on the doorstep and so it was important to have examples of evil having been beaten at great cost in the history of Avernos. Now chromatic dragons are set up as a force of evil, and you can be sure that someone will try and resurrect one of them to cause all kinds of havoc.
Rising Phoenix News
Here’s an awesome interior art preview for the pages of the final version of Claustrophobia! from my bro, illustrator Donovan Sloan.
I’ve also restarted going through Johnn Four’s Gamers Lifestyle course, with a view to smoothing out operations and getting more stuff published in the future. Wish me luck, I’ll be hitting the books hard this year.
Inspired in Japan
The #TRPG hashtag on Twitter is worth a browse. TRPG means “Table-talk RPG” and in Japan refers specifically to pen and paper RPGs. There’s plenty to inspire, and surprise (sometimes even shock), even if you can’t read Japanese. #DnDj will get you Japanese Dungeons and Dragons related posts.
That’s all from me until next Thursday.
Tell Thrilling Tales
|Hottest New Book
The End Of The World: Zombie Apocalypse
One of the hot topics for Pathfinder fans at the moment is the Pathfinder Online Kickstarter. This sandbox MMO, built by Goblinworks Inc., sister company of Paizo, has some nice rewards on offer. Even if you don’t play digital (and good for you) there’s something to catch your interest. Checkout the Crowdforger PDF Superpack, which includes work by yours truly, or the Emerald Spire Super Dungeon.
If you’ve never tried the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game or pen and paper role-playing games then check out the Beginners Box, which includes everything you need to get started.
Lunatic Labyrinth, a neat little one-on-one or solo adventure for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is now available on Paizo.com. The PDF is only $3.13 and includes a re-usable maze tile set. While the adventure is set in Avernos, you can easily include the adventure in just about any fantasy setting with minimal effort.