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.
Adventure, adventure and more adventure. That’s what we have for you today. Fight a flaming centipede on behalf of the Dragon King, challenge the forces of the Abyss on behalf of humanity or build your own epic encounters. All this and more in today’s epic post.
My Lord Bag of Rice is a story about a brave samurai who faces off with a giant centipede to save the kingdom of the Dragon King. As a reward, he gets an ever–full bag of rice and earns the title “My Lord Bag of Rice”.
Scene 1, a bridge over a narrow lake, much like Lake Biwa, the original setting for the story. Across the bridge lies an imperial sea dragon, who is looking for a way to rid his kingdom of a giant centipede that invades his lands nightly, killing his children. If the party attacks the dragon, he fights them for a few rounds before extoling them for their great bravery and asking them to join him.
Scene 2, under the waters of the lake. The dragon invites the party to his underwater palace. As they follow him down, the waters part magically for them, keeping them nice and dry (and saving them from Swim checks). If you need some mechanics for this, you could have the dragon give them a pearl to swallow that surrounds them in a bubble and acts as if he had cast Water Breathing on them for 24 hours.
While in his palace, the Dragon King throws a banquet for the party, with all kinds of fishy creatures serving magnificent dishes or providing entertainment. This needs some thought, because you want to paint the right picture and create a sense of awe and mystery. It’s also going to be a very different game if you have a druid in your party; if you do, this is their chance to really shine.
By the way, if you need some water tiles for this scene, check out our Sea Tiles on Drive Thru RPG.
Scene 3, evening in the underwater palace. The Dragon King alerts the party about the coming centipede, which can be clearly seen coming down the mountain because of its flaming eyes and glowing legs. To keep things simple, use a CR appropriate centipede and keep the fire aspect of it purely cosmetic—this is fantasy, after all.
Pick a map that gives the party some time to rain down missiles on the monster, while it uses its 40 foot speed to come on like a freight train of flailing legs.
For treasure, an appropriately themed and scaled Cornucopia of Plenty could work well at the right level. Otherwise, you could easily make up the treasure quota with bags of rice, a nice bell and bolts of silk.
This adventure has two big monsters, so make sure that the CR of the centipede is the higher of the two. Also, how is this centipede making his way to the Dragon Kings palace? Centipedes don’t swim or breathe underwater right? This is a good opportunity to set up a recurring villain, someone who can cast a few spells to make things happen. This villain doesn’t even need to show themselves yet, giving you a seed for your next big, Japan themed adventure.
Humans—that self-serving race who do more damage in their short lives than all the minions of the Abyss could in a lifetime of elves. Yet there is some hope, however slim, that this chosen race may realize their place at the head of the coming battle. Pray they do, before it is too late.
Rising Phoenix News
Last week’s post mysteriously disappeared into the netherwebs. We’re blaming it on a kobito ninja server invasion, although it probably has something to do with the auto post not running properly (or that’s what the kobito ninjas want us to think). As a result, you get two posts from me this week, happy reading!
Since I’ve been writing a bunch of Pathfinder encounters—four this month—I thought I’d share a little about my creative process. Encounters make up the heart of an adventure, so building great encounters is worth the effort.
First I get a concept. This usually comes from a map or monster that I really like. Specially, I look for an interesting twist that will make for a fun and memorable encounter. Maybe the party has to fight off some orcs, but the orcs are actually fleeing from an owl bear. Maybe that owl bear is a druid trapped in that form because of a failed spell. Maybe the party all get turned into owl bears and get to rampage through the orc camp! Whatever happens, it’ll be better than just fighting a bunch of orcs.
I’ll then calculate APL and set up the encounter. At this stage the concept may change a little. I might find that an owl bear is too challenging for my 1st level solo player, or that I need an orc chieftain to fill out the ranks. Maybe I’ll even have a little wiggle room for a small trap or another monster that will spice up the mix. Maybe that owl bear has a goblin “rider” hanging on for dear life.
Next I’ll set out the encounter in point form, something like this:
- Orc party (6x orcs) appear up ahead on the forest path. They rush the PCs.
- Orcs try to get past party, fighting if they must.
- Five minute breather for party to recoup. If not hit hard, scrap this.
- Raging owl bear storms down forest path. Screaming goblin (Knuckle ‘Ed, lvl 1 warrior) clutches at its back.
- Perception checks to notice medallion around owl bears neck.
- Fight with owl bear. More perception checks to notice medallion.
- If defeated, PCs find medallion (transmogrifies to an owl bear). Owl bear is actually Gunther Firth (level 4 druid).
The last thing is just to flesh things out. Build NPCs, stat out the traps, decide what treasure will be up for grabs and so on. Rinse and repeat for all the encounters that make up your adventure.
That’s all from me until next week.
Tell Thrilling Tales
Happy New Year! I hope 2015 is a great year for you.
This year I’m changing things up with the blogs focus. Each Thursday expect updates on my weeks gaming and project progress, as well as inspiration for your campaign. If you’re a GM, be sure to subscribe, because you don’t want to miss out. (Enter your email address on the right and hit “Join The Party”).
Each week I’ll bring you a new Avernos Wiki entry. The entries usually go live earlier in the week, but I’ll highlight them here.
This week South Fort expands with a look at the Sentinels. These fearsome totem-towers are both defence and rallying point for the people living in their long shadows.
The Books of Faces
Last year we embarked on an epic adventure with the crowd-game Book of Faces and this year I’m ramping things up. The game will still be available on the Facebook page, but has a new home on the site, with updates mentioned here.
After every game session I play I’ll post some thoughts aimed specifically at GMs.
Last Friday I ran my first session of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying (MHR). Man! Am I sad they stopped publishing it. Anyway, I love this sort of story driven game. D&D and Pathfinder show their wargame roots, while MHR, like World of Darkness, Burning Wheel and my own Claustrophobia!, are much more free form systems that encourage great story telling.
Making the shift from Pathfinder to MHR was tough for me, but so worth-while. I learn’t more about GMing while fumbling through a new system than I would have if I played several sessions of the same old game. And most of that learning came from being out of my comfort zone and having to kick up the role-play a notch. I felt the game was much more immersive for it.
Nothing will improve your GMing like playing something new and unfamiliar, that’s for sure.
Rising Phoenix News
I’ll post weekly updates and teasers of our current projects, so watch this space. For now, you’ll find it worth subscribing to our YouTube channel, interesting things are about to happen there soon.
Also, don’t forget to vote in the 2015 RPG Superstar Contest at Paizo.
Inspired in Japan
Japan is full of history, culture, art and other inspirational things to fuel your creativity. I’ll be posting the videos, pictures and prose that have inspired me recently.
This girl was painted on the wall of a local train station and I immediately thought of the beautiful but chilling yuki-onna.
Anyway, that’s all from me.
Tell Thrilling Tales
Waaay back in the day someone in our role-playing group (called Bob’s Rent-a-Cult btw) owned a copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness, a supplement for Heroes Unlimited. I don’t think we ever actually played it, but the idea of role-playing a ninja turtle has stuck with me ever since and that’s a gap I intend to fill.
How? Well, If you haven’t already heard about Marvel Heroic Roleplay (MHR) then you’re already too late, since it’s become so hard to get the books after their short print run. Anyway, the fan base is still huge and people are playing. Besides, the standard Cortex System is still available, which MHR is based off. It’s a perfect system for some turtle powered action. Cowabunga!
Datafiles, the game’s character sheets, are easy to build from scratch, but here is some inspiration from RPG.net.
That just leaves the Events (adventure), and I think there are some great resources, namely the original and reboot comics as well as all the numerous TV series runs and all the movies. My favourite would have to be the 2003-2009 run, which was the second series and is closer to the comics.
If your interested in playing, or just want to know more about Marvel Heroic Roleplay, why not join the Google+ group and let’s talk turtles. If you’d like to see campaign notes and other articles about the sessions here, leave a comment below.
The Claustrophobia Beta Test is officially over. Thank you to everyone who sent in their feedback, which has been included in the latest version of the Beta Test on DriveThruRPG. Even though the Beta is over, you can always send me your feedback, I’d love to hear from you.
The book is off to the graphic designer for illustrations and layout. Watch this space for future updates.
I posted an update to the rules for Claustrophobia! yesterday which includes the following updates:
- Clarifications of many of the rules and standardization of terms throughout the book.
- Improved layout of the monster entries to improve readability.
- Added details about the Claustrophobia! Art Project.
- Inclusion of a basic Glossary of Terms.
- Many formatting tweaks.
Be sure to download the latest version of the rules now.
The Art Project
The Art Project on RedBubble is a showcase of the final book art for the game. Here I’ll be posting works from time to time, giving you the chance to wet your appetite and tell us what you think about the art. By buying stickers and t-shirts you help us fund more artworks and improve the final edition of the game.
Later this month and in early August I’m off on holiday, so I’m not planning any updates until late August. This time will be a chance for me to unwind, regroup and come back stronger than before. If you’re off on holiday I hope you have a great time and safe travels too.
My mother always said “don’t generalise”, but when it comes to role-playing, go big or go home. And if you’re at home, just go bigger. Big generalisations give us a point of reference that’s such a key to entertaining sessions. Heavy Scottish accents indicate dwarves, that’s pretty much a tradition of the hobby. Evil villains sound evil: they cackle as they deliver their diabolical monologue.
Don’t do what I did. I’d heard advice like this before, but in my mind “subtle” was always a better option. Boy was I wrong. Subtle characters are effectively watered down and they become bland, tasteless and unrecognisable amongst the scores of other watery NPC’s. When you make generalisations that support players assumption, you confirm aspects of the world that are a cornerstone of their understanding. Yes, the dwarf could have any accent, or none at all, but a Scottish accent is expected. The merchant who speaks with an Indian or Egyptian accent might well be looking for a good deal, even if he’s from Calimshan rather than Calcutta.
It’s all about character, so ham it up. Use those cues to make your characters truly unforgettable.
I love creative role-playing design competitions, like the One Page Dungeon Contest. They’re a great way to push the creative envelope and get work out there for the world to see. I’ve just finished work on my gnome-tastic RPG of subterranean mayhem for the 1KM1KT 24 Hour RPG Competition.
Of course, a competition like this one calls for some out of the box thinking because, as was the case in this years competition, the box was literally and figuratively rather small…
Continue reading Claustrophobia! – 1KM1KT’s 24 Hour RPG Contest 2012
“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.
For a cheaper option try out the Battlemap – Pirate & Ghost Ship, which looks really pretty. It’s print and play.
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’m going to tell you a little secret, you don’t need all the crap. All the books, figures, maps, expansions, subscriptions and who knows what else. In fact, role-playing is one of the cheapest hobbies out there, second only to watching paint dry, and much more fun.
You’ve probably seen the paragraph in your favourite game core rule book entitled “What you need to play the game.” It probably mentions a pencil and scrap paper, dice and the book the text is printed in, with a copy of some of the main books for the Game Master (GM) and a book of baddies. This has been the trend with a number of books, but some publishers have offered the whole game in one book, such as Mouse Guard, Warhammer FRP and many indie games. These companies usually offer a number of additional books to help you expand the game, but generally you can get by without them. Some games, including some really good ones, are absolutely free. Just google Pokethulhu and download a copy of the rules, it’s a great system that can be adapted to play in any setting.
You will need to buy dice, and role-players are pretty grumpy when it comes to sharing their dice, so be sure to buy your own set. I don’t think there’s such a thing as good or bad dice, roll them hard enough and you’ll eventually roll high. I recommend getting a set including at least a D4, D8, two different coloured D10’s, a D12 and a D20. Anything else is superfluous. For the D6’s I recommend getting a set of board game dice in a few colours, which you can take from Monopoly, because who plays Monopoly since Settlers of Catan came out anyway?
Another neat trick about dice that will save you some cash, but generally slows down play is to use a D6 to make up the rolls of less common dice:
D4: roll a D6 but refill any result of 5 or 6.
D8: roll for odds or evens, then roll as you did for the D4, multiplying the result by 2 if you rolled evens.
D10: roll for odds and evens, then roll again and reroll any sixes. 1-5 is your result if you got odds, 6-10 if you got evens. Use this method to roll up D100’s as usual.
D12: roll for odds and evens, then a roll of the D6 is 1-6 for odds and 7-12 for evens.
D20: roll like you would a D10 above, but with an extra roll to decide if it’s a result from 1-10 or 11-20. This is quite a hassle, but a neat party trick. I’d recommend you get a D20 though, it’s like a sign that you’re a role-player, an open minded individual who sees the world in full colour and not just as little game pieces on a fold out game board.
As for the rest, there is so much free stuff out there that you can get deep into the hobby without much overhead. Still, I’d like to say that I’m all for supporting the game developers and publishing houses that sweat blood so we can play better games. As a writer I have some idea of the effort that goes into brining quality to the table, and it isn’t cheap. You can support them without breaking the bank by buying digital versions of your favorite games from places like Drive Thru RPG.
It’s NaNoWriMo month so I’m back to the trenches. Let me know what tips you have for saving hard earned cash and especially any free RPG’s you’d like to recommend.