Category Archives: Campaign Journal

RPGSS2015 – Round 3

The top 16 contestants have entered round 3, as RPG Superstar 2015 continues to heat up.

RPG Superstar 2015

Round 3 is all about unleashing new terrors on the world of Golarion.
The judges offered some great monster creation hints on the forum, which are well worth a read, even if you’re just making monsters for your own home game. Mikko Kallio, last years winner, offered these tips, Adam Daigle, a developer at Paizo, offered these, and Eric Hindley (Movie Monster Matinee and Classic Monsters Augmented) posted these tips.
Continue reading RPGSS2015 – Round 3

RPGSS2015 – Round 2

Maps for round 2 of the RPG Superstar 2015 contest went in late last week and voting is now open. Go check out those entries and put in your votes.

RPG Superstar 2015

Avernos Unearthed
This week we wonder on the edges of the mysterious Veiled Lands, as the Avernos Wiki adds the Fey tainted city of Pandatheon to the collection.

The Books of Faces
The strange wizard, excuse me, gnomeologist, is describing a quest to you in very vague terms. But then, what else do you do but strap on a sword and accept?

You can read the history of the adventure over at the Adventure Chronicle

Campaign Journal
This past Saturday we played our second session of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. Unlike D&D or Pathfinder, there’s a lot of room for players to tell the story, so players need to pay attention when they’re not up. To help, I offered the MVRP award (most valuable role-player) and 3xp to whoever was voted the best player by the group. It was great incentive, and I hope it will continue to be a huge motivator in later games.

MRVP Trophy

Do you have any rewards in your campaign beyond Xp? Leave us a comment, we’d love to hear from you.

Rising Phoenix News
We’ve been working over the last year and a bit to get the Japan Roleplay Society going, a place for English speaking role-players who live in Japan to meet and find players. If you live in Japan or know someone who does, come check us out on FB.

Inspired in Japan
Setsubun is a Japanese festival that happens yearly on February 3rd, celebrating the start of Spring. One of the events held at this time is mamimaki which means “bean scattering”, a ritual intended to chase away bad spirits or oni. The man of the house dresses up as an oni and the rest of the household throw roasted soy beans at him to chase the bad “spirit” away.

What customs might revolve around local monsters in your campaign world? We’d love to hear your ideas.

Oni statue

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

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Punchy Printouts

Today I’ve got some tips on making modern player handouts with more punch as well as updates on our current news.

SHIELD Secret Brief

Avernos Unearthed
Avernos is all about the darkness on the doorstep, the growing evil at the edge of vision. So it’s high time we took a look at the Abyss, this weeks newest addition to the wiki.

The Abyss is a massive hole in the ground, surrounded by the Jaws mountains and leading directly into the depths of hell. Not a place you want to go, unless you’re, say, a witch hunter, monster slayer or questing paladin.

This is one area that will probably see many more entries this year as we travel deeper into the dark. I hope your sword is sharp and your torch bright.

The Books of Faces
Last week I mentioned my big plans for the Book of Faces adventure. But what is it really all about?

The Book of Faces is content that I’m creating while players from all over the Internet are giving their feedback, deciding where the adventure goes. While that’s happening, I’m busy writing more content and drawing concept sketches for a final book version. I call it crowd-questing.

You can follow the history of the quest at the Adventure Chronicle or take part on Facebook.

Campaign Journal
Handouts are a great way to hook players in and say “hey, this information is important.” I made this secret SHIELD Brief for ACT 2 of Breakout for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

It’s easy to put something like this together in a text editor like Word.

  1. Write out your text. Use formal language to make it sound official and important.
  2. Use a font like Stencil for the header and Courier for the main body. A font like Freestyle Script is good for hand written parts, such as notes scribbled by NPCs or their signatures.
  3. Add logos harvested from the web. A grey scale version of the logo makes a great watermark if it’s in the background.
  4. As with logos, you can find stamp marks on the web. Better still, stamp them with a real stamp and red ink. Yet another option is to use the shape tool to create your own stamp, using a thick border and the Stencil font, all in red, to get it as close to the real thing as you can.
  5. To make your document more intriguing for the players, use a black marker pen or white-out to hide important facts. You can also use this trick to create red herrings.

Rising Phoenix News

Rising Phoenix Games is 4! In all the commotion of the holidays I forgot that we’ve been working towards our goals since the very last day of 2010. For sure, it has been a great ride, and the best is still to come, with so many exciting projects itching to go live.
You can check out our publications for the past four years on DriveThruRPG.

Voting for RPG Superstar 2015 ended a day or so ago, but next week the round 1 winners will be announced over at Paizo.com.

Inspired in Japan

I’m not sure who the two people carved on this stone are, but my guess is they were a couple who lived in the area. Perhaps their descendants commissioned the carving after they passed away. What do the statues and carvings your players come across tell them about your world?

Carved Stone. Photo by R Sloan

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

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New Games, Ancient Lands

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 is a great year for you.

happy_new_year_2015_3d

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”).

Avernos Unearthed
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.

Campaign Journal
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.

IMG_7364.JPG

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

Cortex TMNT – Master Splinter Datafile

So last time I talked about setting up a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game using the Cortex system. Today I’m going to build a datafile for Master Splinter, the father and mentor of the Turtles.

The datafile might not make much sense if you’re new to the Cortex system, but I’ll give a quick run down at the end to explain a few things.

Splinter (IWD Comic Cover)
Splinter (IWD Comic Cover)

Name: Splinter (alias: Hamato Yoshi, Master Splinter, Sensei, Father)

Affiliations: Solo d8 Buddy d6 Team d10

Distinctions: Mutant Rat, Master of Bushido, Father of the Turtles.

Power Sets:
Mutant Rat:
Enhanced Senses d8, Enhanced Reflexes d8, Enhanced Speed d8.

SFX: Claws & Fangs. Add a D6 to your dice pool for an attack action and step back the highest die in your pool by -1. Step up physical stress inflicted by +1.
SFX: The Nose Knows. Spend 1 PP to add Enhanced Senses (or step up by +1 if already in your pool) and reroll all dice on a reaction.
Limit: Mutant. Earn 1 PP when affected by mutant-specific Milestones and tech.

Ninjitsu
Weapon (Cane/Bow) d8, Enhanced Reflexes d8, Enhanced Stamina d8.

SFX: Focus. In a pool including a Ninjitsu die, replace two dice of equal steps with one die of +1 step.
SFX: Area Attack. Target multiple opponents. For every additional target, add d6 to your pool and keep +1 effect die.
Limit: Exhausted. Shut down a Ninjistu power to gain 1 PP. Recover power by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene.

Specialities:
Acrobatic Master d10, Combat Master d10, Covert Master d10, Medical Expert d8.

Master Splinter by Dave Rapoza
Master Splinter by Dave Rapoza

Design Decisions

Splinter has Team as his highest affiliation to represent his leadership of the turtles. Solo is his next highest, because he fights well by himself, while with a buddy he’s often forced to be the minder and teacher, effectively slowing him down somewhat.

His distinction Mutant Rat should work nicely when he meets humans for the first time and has to try and get past the “Ahh! You’re a talking rat” stage of the conversation. Master of Bushido will tie him to the code of Bushido nicely and represents his role as a ninja sensei, while Father of the Turtles will mean that his sons influence his decisions to a large degree, which is often a major driver of stories involving Splinter.

The power sets cover his mutation and ninja training and the SFX were mostly plucked from Marvel Heroic Roleplay’s Hero Datafiles. If you have any suggestions please leave a comment below.

His specialities are pretty self explanatory. You might want to add Mystic Expert to give him more esoteric ninja knowledge. I didn’t take that route, which is why he has Medical Expert instead. Splinter uses ancient Asian medical practices and has a deep understanding of the human (and turtle) anatomy, so Medical Expert seemed a better fit.

I didn’t create any milestone, but some major themes to explore would include raising and training the turtles as well as getting revenge against the Shredder.

Till next time
Tell Thrilling Tales

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness
The Book That Started It All

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!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by theCHAMBA
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
by theCHAMBA

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.

TURTLE POWER!!!

 
Superheroes - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

The Cold Heart – Solo RPG Quest Part 1

These are exciting times for solo role-players, with new ideas on solo story telling being assimilated and shared all over the web. I recently played a solo RPG session of my own and here’s what happened.

The system I used is by Spacejacker of tinysolitarysoldiers. He explains the rules on his website with a play report too. Simply put you use dice to determine how the story progresses, asking questions which the dice and your creativity answer. I played using my Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures collection, Dungeon Tiles and for combat I used the Claustrophobia! rules, since I wanted to play test the combat system specifically. I’ve decided to focus on the story here rather than the mechanics, but if you want me to go into more detail on mechanics then let me know.

Continue reading The Cold Heart – Solo RPG Quest Part 1

The Adventures of Thanamos – Introduction

Inspired in part by another post and the work I’ve done on my own solo campaign, Sentinels Watching, I decided to run a little free style solo campaign and share it with you to inspire your own adventures. I’ll walk you through the process and share some insights along the way so that you can play out your own campaign.

 

Choosing A System

The system you choose should reflect the type of game and genre you want to play. It’s no use starting out with the Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game if you want to play something set in the future, but it is a great system if that future involves mice who fight with swords and shields to save themselves from snakes and foxes. A great tip that also makes a load of sense is “play what you know.” It’s no fun if you get bogged down trying to find rules the whole time. That said, solo play is a great method for learning a game, which is one reason why I’m going with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, particularly the rules from the Beginner Box. I recently bought the set and I love that it’s a lighter version of the game but still works with the Core Book. I don’t have a load of time and so the games need to be quick and action packed. Also, I love fantasy so Pathfinder fills all of my requirements.

Continue reading The Adventures of Thanamos – Introduction

Meet the Cast

Campaign Journal

Follow our Pathfinder campaign as we face monsters, dungeons and the insanity of the Wednesday night gaming group. See the first part of the series here.

The First Session

Funnily enough, our first session was scrapped as far as its placement in the whole campaign. I can’t actually remember why, but I think we spent some time going over the town and campaign setting, as well as introducing our characters. The result was that what actual story developed was insubstantial and easily discarded. So, without any further ado, we’ll have a look at the characters and a little about the players too.

 

The Setting

We are using the Dungeons and Dragons town of Fallcrest (3D Model), a town with a river running through it and a series of caves beneath it. Some of the characters have lived in the town or in the area for some time, while others are new arrivals.

 

Thorn Ravengrin

A tiefling rogue with red skin who likes to show off his white tattoos by wearing only leather pants and a cape. He carries a longsword into battle, which he wields in his right hand, since his left hand was lost in a dungeon trap, where he had to cut it off to escape. His infernal heritage is interesting, as Thorn’s father, Yawldaw Ravengrin, was a Half-Fiend with babau ancestry.

As the campaign has progressed, Thorn has shown an obsession for anatomy and wishes to re-construct the hand he lost. To this end, he has collected several hands from dead foes and studies them in intricate detail.

Thorn is played by Little Johan, who recently became a father and thus owns his very own hobbit.

 

Rapid Wind

An Elven monk wearing peasant clothing and carrying a long spear and sling. Because he’s mute, Rapid Wind keeps a chalk board around his neck (a nifty little prop to role-play with). It is apparent that something terrible happened in Rapid Winds past, which is why he can’t speak. Rapid Wind practices an elven form of unarmed combat known in the common tongue as Leaping Foot, a bastardised description derived from the elvish name for a style that looks more like a dance than a fighting form.

As the campaign has progressed, Rapid Wind has become very fast, reaching a speed of 55′ at level 3 (at level 4 he can use his ki to move at 75′). He has an old horse companion, Gunthar, that he has saved several times from near disaster during our sessions.

Rapid Wind is played by me, and is probably the most difficult character I’ve ever played. I’ve never played an elf before, except as a GM, and found it challenging to think like an elf, but luckily there’s the Lord of the Rings trilogy to help out. Also, as an introvert, playing a character who can’t speak means that I say very little at the table. Still, it’s been fun playing Rapid Wind, and not being able to speak is worth a load of laughs.

 

Stander Vrok

A half-giant cleric of the church of Torm. Raised by dwarves, Stander was the first character to have his own theme song, which was “Stander Struck” to the tune of “Thunder Struck” by AC/DC. So far the church of Torm has been an important element in the story, even though Fallcrest has only a small congregation.

Stander has had recurring visions and his focus on his quest is unswerving. Despite his size, Stander is not very strong and has often found himself in need of healing, even though he is the party cleric.

Stander is played by Willem, recently married, at who’s wedding reception we all sang along to “Stander Struck” like there was no tomorrow.  I’ll also mention that he and his lovely wife walked in to the Darth Vader theme song, so you have to give him props for that! Willem was the GM for the first few sessions.

 

Densharr Tailchaser

Densharr is a Catfolk who loves to sing (practically all the time). Our party bard, and composer of the epic ballads “Stunder Struck” and “You can’t stop the rod”. Densharr comes from nobility within his clan and is rather well off, and thus supports most of the party. He is often seen taking notes which he hopes to use in composing a major saga.

Densharr has often exhibited the cunning of his kin, and although he seldom gets directly involved in fighting, he has directly influenced the course of many battles and bolstered the resolve of the rest of the team.

Densharr is enthusiastically played by Francois, who I hope will be releasing a sound track of the campaign near the end of the year. Francois keeps track of our wealth and maps out any locations that need mapping, thanks to the power of grid paper!

 

Gimp

The Blue wizard, this little goblin kin is small for his race, making him quite hard to spot. He focuses his magical skills on support magic rather than combat spells and creates many of the items the party uses.

Gimp is the most learned member of the party, and often knows something on any given subject. He has recently been spotted talking to  something over his shoulder.

Gimp is played by Big Johan, who is also the current GM at the time of writing. Johan also GM’s another campaign that Francois and I play in, a D&D 4th Edition game, which is why let Johan get away with more than any GM really should.

 

Serisia

Serisia is also a tiefling and an assassin in the making. She is the only female in the group, and possibly one of the most level headed. Not much else is know about her, but that’s what you get when dealing with these shady types.

Serisia loves her sneaking about, and her acquisition of a magical ring of invisibility means she’s pretty good at it.

Serisia is played by Andries, the local mathamagician. The force is strong with this one, or else he just knows a lot about Star Wars.

 

Conclusion

Other players brought their characters into the game at different times, I’ll introduce them during the relevant parts of the story.

Starting a New Campaign

Campaign Journal

In this series I’ll be taking you through our bi-monthly Pathfinder campaign that began at the start of 2011. Mostly I’ll just focus on the story, but will also point out some of the lessons we learnt and fun ideas that came up. Unfortunately, it looks like I will be missing the last half of the campaign, but I’ll see if I can organise someone else to continue the story where I left off.

In this post I want to focus on how we got started and all the ground work that was laid before we started playing, which I hope will give you some ideas for your own game.

Picking The Team
The biggest question when we set out, and in most RPG groups, is who is playing. There are always people with different levels of commitment or difficult schedules and finding a time that suits everyone is a bit of a logistics nightmare, especially when everyone is working and has a family. I missed the 2010 campaign because of my busy schedule which left me with only Wednesdays and Fridays open during the week, and Thursdays nights were more convenient for the rest of the guys.

So, we set up a meeting for all interested parties to discuss times. Some of us have played together since meeting on-line, (www.rpg.co.za for South African players), others were relatives or friends of other players, and so on. We drew up a grid of each day and who would be available when. We decided that we would choose one week day and play every two weeks, which would also mean that the impact on our weeks would not be too unmanageable. Wednesday was chosen and we keep our game days to that, although busy schedules and wierd holidays have meant that we’ve played less that twice a month, it does mean that people try and keep Wednesday open.

A number of potential players have not yet pitched for a game and some players have only played a single session, but our core of six players has remained pretty solid. Instead of choosing one person to be the GM, we are taking turns that span a few sessions. This method worked well for the guys in their last campaign, and lead to some interesting results, including a multitude of villains that had it in for the party, each villain the brain child of a different GM.

Picking The Rules
Our next decision was picking a games system. In the 2010 campaign the guys used Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, but there were many other possible available now with our collections of books growing as they have. In the end we chose Pathfinder because it is 3.5 and lets us use all the 3.5 stuff we have.

Picking Pathfinder meant that we didn’t need to learn new rules. This is worth mentioning because, although it is 3.5 compatible, Pathfinder does make some changes. The key though is that when we look up a rule, we look it up in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, and we haven’t really needed to invest much time learning.

For interest sake, some of the other games that were listed as possibles included Mouseguard the RPG, Call of Cuthullu, World of Darkness, Warhammer Fantasy Role-play and Dungeons and Dragons 4, which at least 3 of us are currently involved in a campaign of.

House Rules
At this point, let me just mention that if you do have a session like this to plan your campaign, be sure to order pizza. In fact, if you remember nothing else from this post,remember the pizza. Good friends and good food makes all the admin seem like fun.

With the rule set chosen we defined a number of house rules, some more bizarre than others:

We use a critical fumble table for 1’s rolled in combat. If you fumble, not only do you miss, but now bad things happens to you, such as loosing your weapon and so on.

Each play must bring a white board marker, since we use a glass pane over a grid map to mark out encounter locations. If each player brings one, we always have a choice of markers and it’s not an issue if someone forgets. You could easily do the same thing with bringing map tiles or maps.

Halflings have hairy feet. This was an odd one, and I brought it up, because I’m a Tolkien nut. Discussing the world makes it more immersive, in my opinion. If you imagine the same things, you share the experience more deeply.

Keep the beer lids. We are keeping beer lids to make into a suit of scale mail. The Yaya Sisterhood have their jeans, we have our scale mail.

Story points. Players can accrue story points both in game and out of game that they can then use to affect the game in a way not normally available to players in Pathfinder, such as to get a re-roll on a dice, changing something in the story or bring in an NPC. You may only ever have 3 story points and you can spend 1, 2 or 3 points to get various effects:

One story point: Re-roll a dice, make an acrobatic move you could not normally make or get extra information from someone.

Two story points: An extra attack, an automatic crit or convince an NPC of something.

Three story points: Avoid death, invent an NPC or change the story.

Character Creation
We decided that any Humanoid character was legal, resulting in a party consisting of a Catfolk, two Tieflings, a Giant, an Elf and a Blue. We discussed the party make-up to try and get a balanced party, and ended up with a multi classed rogue wizard, a wizard, a bard, a monk, a ranger and a paladin. I’ll be introducing the characters in the next Campaign Journal post.

Many other aspect of character creation were decided after the meeting. In fact, nothing was actually decided regarding characters on the day, but the first GM requested that each player send him an email with class, race, name, a short description and a backup character class. We could then go ahead and create a level one character.

In Summary
I think the planning session was very valuable, and our games would probably not have gone as smoothly as it has without the planning meeting. It surely saved us a great deal of email. It was also fun, and we got to shared many war stories and got to meet other role-players, have some great pizza and just laugh about our adventures.

Have you had a similar planning meeting for your campaign or group, please tell us about your experience.