Thursday, May 31, 2018

NGR: The Brave Knight

This post is one a small series showing some sample characters, who I will reference in actual play examples.

Sir Vancierge is from a noble family of good breeding and poor finances.  His early life was spent sheltered from the reality of his families debt,  but after his first tournament victory he was informed of the true severity when the trophy had to be sold immediately.  He is now forced to take increasingly more dangerous assignments to gather wealth.

NGR: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

This post is one a small series showing some sample characters, who I will reference in actual play examples.

Thaugo was a young wodewose when an evil wizard slew his clan and moved into their cave. Thaugo was kept as a servant to do menial tasks.  The wizard was not as careful with his demonic dealings as he should have been.  One of them taught Thaugo the infernal tongue and how to read.  Thaugo then planned his rebellion, shoving his master off a cliff when he was weakened from a battle with another wizard.

NGR: The Scoundrel

This post is one a small series showing some sample characters, who I will reference in actual play examples.

"Jack" (if that is his real name, and it almost certainly isn't) is a wandering ne'er do well that seeks above all else, to avoid having to take any responsibility for anything.  He began his life as a travelling adventurer when he decided to avoid paying rent by squatting in a city merchant's country home.  Locals started asking questions, one thing lead to another... yadda yadda yadda, and he's on the run for selling the merchant's home to a foreign Duke to serve as a safe house for his spymaster.  But why let real estate fraud, treason, and stealing a murderous noble's gold trouble you?

NGR: The Flagellant

This post is one a small series showing some sample characters, who I will reference in actual play examples.

Brother Cadmus was an anti-authoritarian friar who uncovered the secret of an isolated community's farming success.  He was able to secure proof of their continued adherence to the old ways and was able to burn their secret Pagan shrine to the ground and then contact the authorities to ensure the locals were returned to the fold (until they all starved to death in a famine the following year).

NGR: The Grave Digger

This post is one a small series showing some sample characters, who I will reference in actual play examples.

Abraham is a grave digger who soon became a grave robber.  His call to adventure occurred when he came into competition for a freshly buried noblewoman's grave with a hungry ghoul.  The experience gave Abraham a healthy respect for the supernatural and he became an ardent student of the various religious rites he would need to protect himself from otherworldy threats.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Unlocking downtime activities via adventures

So I've been running two competing groups through a bronze age kingdom building game for the last six months. There have been various tweaks I've made to it through play testing, all in terms of the "downtime" activities.

One of the big conceits of the game is that each game session represents one season of time, the level of magic is tied to the seasons which has big implications on what people do (As well as the need for things like planting and harvest). The big initial design decision is that wars (largely ritualistic battles) and livestock raids happen in the summer.

Livestock raids (basically cattle rustling) is an important part of the setting and going through a livestock raid is important to the feel of the game.  Its also fun pretty much exactly once.  It gets old pretty fast. The solution that arose is to make it a seasonal downtime activity with some abstracted mechanics.  That loses some of the charm and feel, its a little too "gamey" and mechanical.

To that end, the idea of "unlocking" downtime activities through an adventure was born.  Livestock raids as a downtime action would require first successfully completing such a raid in game.  In a Caribbean game you might say  you can't pirate raid merchants as a downtime action until you've done that successfully in a game session.  Boar hunting, patrolling for goblins, running cargo along a trade route, and competing in a jousting tournament are all the sorts of activities this would be ideal for.

Part of the mechanics of the downtime activity should be an element of risk.  For livestock raids I have it deal an exploding die of damage.  It COULD kill you, its probably unlikely after a certain point but it isn't impossible.  The rewards are also something I link to class.  Rogues are better at stealth,  so rogues get a bonus on the livestock raid downtime action.  In a tournament you might give warriors a mechanical bonus.

This also has a benefit in player driven games of giving them clear objectives and goals.  If they complete a livestock raid they gain a permanent option.  The reward of the individual adventure need not be huge, as the simple fact that a recurring option is available IS the reward.

Just something to chew on when setting up your own campaign.

I swear this is still upcoming

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Thoughts on the Ghoul Prince (published DIY RPG)

I now have one published adventure written for the DCC ruleset.

Its got snazzy art from the ever talented Alex Mayo and maps from fellow Canuck Dyson Logos.  But other than have DCC stats and features,  whats its deal?

Its got a psychotic slasher villain as the main antagonist, straight from the eighties.   Slasher villains don't normally work in an RPG about well armed lunatics with supernatural powers and a penchant for fighting wraiths and dragons.  I don't think a machete and an inside out mask of a sci-fi celebrity would really be enough of a threat to stop an adventuring party of non-camp counselors.

The feel of the slasher is there though, with diegetic abilities which strongly encourage using different tactics for the party to defeat (or avoid) this antagonist. If nothing else it will be a breath of fresh air as the party tries new things.

The larger change with this adventure is how it is written.  With most things that I write, you may have noticed I am usually experimenting with some concept or element of the adventure.  This adventure sprang out of my adventure convert-o-tronica concept of making ready to use location based adventure that can easily fit into any campaign.  The Ghoul Prince follows that relentlessly.   I show the core elements of the adventure, the moving pieces that set the stage for potential climactic battles, gruesome deaths, or fabulous schemes while everything else is a skeletal frame.   I then also give three different "skins" that smoothly fit over that frame and instructions on how to make your own.

I don't want to imply that the skeletal frame is somehow bare or requires the GM to write half the adventure themselves, they don't.  The skins really do cleanly fit over top,  I could have just taken one of the skins, applied it and published it that way and it would be perfectly cromulent.   But I did want to show a little bit of whats under the hood of an adventure when you structure it as a game component first and then make sure the 'fiction' lines up with it. A big pet peeve of mine with adventures is when they are incredibly imaginative and full of great ideas,  but that they aren't actually fun to interact with at the actual game table where 4-6 people will be spending several blocks of time, each multiple hours in length.

The Ghoul Prince is available HERE

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