Only the brave or foolhardy would dare go beyond the borders of the world.
Moebius Adventures offer up some great setting ideas that I haven’t seen get much play in published works and would be perfect for a home campaign.
John Crowley III talks about reaching the end of your campaign, and how to deal with it when the day comes. Because, really, an awesome campaign needs an awesome ending, so you’ve got to get that right.
Well, that’s April. I finished several projects, all ahead of schedule and within the target word count. Part of what I did took place on Camp Nanowrimo, and I’m glad I took part. I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with a strong “team”—even if that team is working on vastly different things—and Camp Nanowrimo, with its cabins, provided just that.
I pulled off some great work this month; an adventure, some location writeups and a short story. I wouldn’t have finished on time or even close to the word count goals if I didn’t plan well.
What worked was not writing until I was sure of what I wanted to write. That’s it. No bullet points. No fancy diagrams or mind maps.
Let me say it again. Don’t write a word until you know exactly what you’re writing. For my adventure, knowing was writing the Adventure Synopsis. For my writeups, it was drawing the location maps. For my short story, it was figuring out why a hero was standing in a church with his eyes closed.
Don’t write until you know what you’re going to write.
Try it. Now. Write your own version of Little Red Riding Hood—you know the story. It won’t take long. You’ll add your own voice, your own ideas, but the plot will be the same. Watch how much easier it is than creating something totally new.
In our experiment, what you knew about Little Red Riding Hood was the plan, a writing goal. Your writing, your execution, was informed by the plan/goal, but not strictly constrained by it; you had some room to embellish in your own way. Plan your work until you have such a strong concept and then write, words will flow from your pen.
Watch this space because I’ll be posting more about some of the work I did in the months to come.
Imagine you’re coming to the finale of your years-long campaign. Friends are moving away, and you want to end with a memorable bang. A big bang. A cataclysmic bang! This time it’s not just the people and things the PCs love that are at stake, but their entire world that’s on the line. There is no turning back.
So how do you prepare for a world shattering session? With the Kickstarter for Crisis of the World Eater successful funded, we’ve got plenty of this sort of thing to look forward to. Maybe you, as a GM, are feeling inspired. Perhaps, as a player, you’re about to face your toughest challenge yet.
The topic for May’s RPG blog carnival is “At World’s End”, and the best and brightest RPG bloggers will be sharing links to related posts, right here, in the comments below.
Anything is fair game; cataclysmic events, stats for planet crushing monsters, rules for the Apocalypse, or perhaps a hero’s survival guide to the End Times. We’re not playing games anymore, now we’re playing for keeps, winner takes all!
Don’t forget to follow the Phoenix on Twitter and Facebook, it’s the best way to keep up to date with the world shattering events that are about to be unleashed by ruthless GMs the world over.
As tough as their mountain homes, the hardy dwarves make their stand against the coming darkness. But it is a losing battle which they wage against the forces of the Abyss, as their numbers slip ever more rapidly into decline.
I love dwarves, I enjoy playing them and I feel I really understand them as a race, so I’m very glad to present them to you this week on the Avernos Wiki
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If you play Magic the Gathering, even half as much as I do, then you probably have a bunch of cards like these.
In the spirit of Reuse, Reduce and Recycle, I turned mine into NPC cards.
Choose a side. I picked the sides that had cool characters and monsters .
Use correction tape or stickers to make some writing space.
Add some text with a marker. I chose 4 points; Name, Race and Apparent Occupation (not class, because my “paladin” might actually be a rogue posing as one), Demeanor (how the character behaves) and Speech Quirks (how the character talks. Are they soft spoken or haughty? Do they have a lisp or do they tend to drone on and on and …)
Sleeve them. Shuffle them. Use them.
The final product looks pretty good. And they work well with my NPC Strategy Cards too, simple sleeve them together.
That’s all from me until next week. Tell Thrilling Tales
Voting for round 4 of RPG Superstar began this week, with voting open until March 2nd. Are you planning to play through any of the encounters?
I’ve been hard at work behind the scenes of Avernos, planning out the next phase of posts that will tie everything together nicely. In the coming months we’ll be digging even deeper into the elves for a bit before we briefly look at humans, then on to my favourite race, the dwarves.
Today’s entry is about the Great Betrayal, mentioned last week in the entry on elves. This pivitol moment in the history of Avernos needed its own section, enjoy.
Next week we’ll venture into the mysterious Veiled Lands, don’t miss it.
The Books of Faces
We have more adventure than you can fling a prune scone at. Make your move.
Last weeks game of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying was the third session in our campaign, with guest player Brent — from Comics League International — joining us to play the role of the mystical Dr. Strange. To kick things off, Thor, Black Widow and Dr. Strange went after Armadillo, who was rampaging through the streets of New York. The fight went from the street, through the City Bank and into a comic book store, where the heroes discovered old comics about the mysterious Sentry, last seen voluntarily locked up on the Raft.
Next up was a hunt for Mjolnir, Thor’s mighty hammer, lost during the fall of the Avengers Mansion. In a battle with the Wrecker and Bulldozer, Strange revealed his secret identity as Loki, when Thor — having found the hammer — summoned it, only to have Strange/Loki throw up an extra-dimensional portal in its path. Thor and Loki took their battle to the frozen wastes of Jotunheim, where Thor, wielding the Wrecker’s crowbar, brought the beat-down Loki deserved. In the final moments of the battle, Loki played his ace, sending the Casket of Ancient Winters through a third portal to Earth. Oh, that Loki.
The neat thing about having a villain amongst the players is that it’s so unexpected. It isn’t easy to pull off well though, because you’re essentially betraying the trust of the players, who expect every other player to be part of the team. Here are some factors I think play a part in setting up a good double-cross scenario:
Experience: Both Brent and I have played in at least one session where a PC turned on the party. Brent is also a very capable GM, so I knew I could trust him to deliver an awesome story instead of a nasty TPK.
Group Size: For various reasons we ended up with two players, Thor against Loki, which ment that Thor’s player could have felt very isolated if he wasn’t such a great player. I wouldn’t recommend the double-cross for small tables for this very reason.
Guest Stars: Brent has to take a four hour long round trip train ride to play with us, so we knew this would probably be a one shot for him. He could be the bad guy without affecting the existing group dynamic.
Rewards: One of my players wanted to play Loki, but we just couldn’t figure out how to give her that chance without the fued between Thor and Loki derailing the game. With Loki defeated, and probably stripped of his powers and turned into Kid Loki, it makes much more sense for Loki to be a playable option.
Have you ever set up a player vs player double-cross in your own sessions? I’d love to hear about it.
Rising Phoenix News
Ahoy there me matey! Next month we set sail across vast oceans with Sea Tiles, our next set of game tiles. They’re perfect for expanding the sea and ship maps in your collection and they’re coming soon to Drive Thru RPG.
Avernos and the Book of Faces has been taking up most of our time, but we’ve also started work on a mini campaign setting for Pathfinder, which is off with the play testers now.
Inspired in Japan
I was introduced to Go, not in Japan, but while LARPing in South Africa. It’s a facinating game which originated in China and is very popular in Japan, even today. It’s easy to learn. The guy who taught me described Go as “takes minutes to learn, a lifetime to master”. I love the complexity that arises from its simple rules.
Avernos Unearthed & The Book of Faces
Due to a Japanese national holiday, these sections will return next week.
My first game of Call of Cthulhu didn’t happen, probably because of a big event that sucked up the player pool. Never the less, dice were rolled and demons fought, so happiness all around. Instead of CoC we played the Legend of Drizzt D&D Adventure Boardgame, which will soon be joined by a new release for the series, the Temple of Elemental Evil, scheduled for release on April 30th. I’m pretty stocked for that!
Also, if you want to play Call of Cthulhu and you only have two interested people, check out Monophobia, A Fear of Solitude. We might give this a try sometime soon.
Rising Phoenix News
Maze Tiles are a simple and effective solution for building a moving, shifting maze. Complete with levers and gears, these tiles work well as a clockwork dungeon, a gnome’s warren or artificers puzzle.
The set includes 4 tiles with unique designs on each face, giving you a total of 8 options to build your mazes with. Available as a PDF download and as Print on Demand.
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.
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.
That’s all from me until next time. Tell Thrilling Tales
Winners of the first round of RPG Superstar 2015 were announced this week, with 32 winning items chosen out of hundreds. It’s a tough competition for sure, with a lot to be learnt.
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
ICON 2014 is just around the corner! As always, this year promises to be a great one for all.
My module, Where Heroes Stand, a Pathfinder adventure set in mysterious Japan, will début at the con. Where Heroes Stand is the first part of the Kamen, Land of Masks Campaign Series. I’ve put a lot of work into making this a great adventure, my play testers loved it and I know you will too.