Tuesday, 22 July 2014

This Room Contains #2

"Four acolytes of the Heathen God Oom and two indentured servants stand listlesly around a tall ornate glass jar. Inside it, floating amid the bubbling radioactive effluent is a brain, its gibbous surface pulses as it psychically influences the minds of the men around it - by overwhelming them with the false sensation of the intoxicating fumes of the Arjal poppy seed"

Quick dungeon room ideas, all created using -  this method. (6 - 6 - 2) #thisroomcontains

Monday, 21 July 2014

This Room Contains #1

"Two venerable wights Azzbad and Imanon, the two sons of Sharamet, kneel infront of an ancient scroll written in a  delicate goldleaf script. It resists all their attempts to cozen its wisdom by infusing the atmosphere in the room with long forgotten magicks, thereby creating a turbulent and noxious vortex-like cloud around them."

Quick dungeon room ideas, all created using -  this method. (3 - 3 - 6) #thisroomcontains

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Flaws.

"The right flaws will make your character more accessible to your audience and bring him to life, but the wrong flaws will make your audience despise him no matter what heroic acts he accomplishes. There are good flaws, and there are bad flaws."

These are from TvTropes. 


  • Alcoholism (except when it leads to violence)
  • Drug addiction (except when it leads to violence)
  • Tobacco use (cigars, cigarettes, and especially pipes)
  • Sexual promiscuity or (as long as it doesn't involve children, animals or the unwilling, like rape, zoophilia or necrophilia) 
  • Reverse snobbery
  • Being too cool to socialize.
  • Being a klutz.
  • "Sticking to your guns" even when the odds seem stacked against you (Which some may argue isn't even a flaw at all, except when it results in Good Is Dumb)
  • Stupidity (as long as it stems from genuine ignorance, and not apathy or bigotry)
  • Misanthropy
  • Emotional aloofness, especially with Male Love Interests
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Holding ridiculously high standards, especially with snarky comments.
  • Being a NobleInnocent or Tragic Bigot (Assuming they're a good guy of course), especially for people who grew up a long time ago or those with Police or Military backgrounds.
  • hot temper (except when it leads to violence)
  • Laziness
  • Cussing (except in the presence of the clergy, monarchs, aristocrats, the elderly, children, and sometimes women)
  • Self-Deprecation
  • Cowardice (except when failure to act causes someone else's harm)
  • Weirdness and a lack of social norms, particularly in female love interests
  • Clumsiness, notable in that it's often the single flaw given in an otherwise perfect character

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Inspiration

Like a big wailing baby, 5e has had a somewhat turbulent birth, some areas of the internet anyhow. Lots of people have as an alternative, decided to have logical and constructive conversation about the edition. Which is good.

+Courtney Campbell and +Jack Mack wrote some interesting posts about D&D, the area that piqued my interest (for the moment at least) was inspiration. Read the articles, get an understanding about what they're trying to say. Mack isn't keen on the extrinsic wear and tear on the players, Campbell its subjectivity. Heres why I think you shouldn't worry about those things and present another angle on the mechanic.

This edition is the game of many faces, lots of different things from lots of different games. Some d&d and some not. WoTC has taken great pains to make anything they include feel appropriate and 'classic' but really its clear they've been looking at their peers and the multitude of popular 'indie' games that have blossomed since the OGL and 4e.

Inspiration = Fate Points

Personal Characteristics = Fate Aspects

If your familiar with Fate, hopefully you've had either an "Aha!" or "Yeah... obviously!" moment, if not let me give you a rundown. Aspects in Fate act like the gears that drive your character, you can turn them to add drama to the game (usually, but not always, creating complications) thusly earning tokens which can be spend toward enhancing rolls. They're like disad's that you can summon when its most interesting to. Like every good disadvantage, it gives you a boost elsewhere.

When you look at D&D's inspiration like this the extrinsic reward becomes less problematic, still if your not sure try this. So my players are roleplaying anyway - lets harness that energy in a different way to drive another part of the system -Why cant I turn those gears? I want to call upon character traits and offer inspiration in reward for a complication or interruption of my choosing. This way I can make things more interesting just when it matters. Still let the players have control, but when you want your able to lean across and grab the wheel, just for a moment. 

Suddenly inspiration is acting more like XP, and hopefully less extrinsic.

Subjectivity is hard. I don't think I have a concrete answer here but I think i'm close. Its about relationships. Indie mechanics often rely on group support to work, theres a lot of power shifted toward players and away from the referee, this shared responsibility is really rewarding for the players and takes a lot of the burden from the ref's shoulders. But runs kind of against the grain for the old school dungeon play that this edition runs with. 

You (or you're DM) will figure out how inspiration makes an appearance at the table. But first? Check out Fate. Hopefully you'll look at it in a different light.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

'The Game' he said, looking down his nose..

So, as i'm sure you'll be aware - theres been internet controversy (read: no big deal really) about the new edition of 'The Game' and who spoke with the designers a few times about playstyles they enjoy. Im hoping most of you are, like me, of the opinion that you really couldn't give a fuck. I wont re-tread ground about the issue, everyone else is re-hashing the same viewpoints so you'll find it somewhere on the web, but I do want to talk about my thoughts on the game, and how its going to impact my home group over the coming months.

So I guess for me the only important thing is the question, are we switching? Answer is, quite-possibly-maybe-not-but-then-again-who-knows. Its sure got some fun mechanics in it. It's got some really dull and tedious ones too, the reality is that having played a fair amount of indie rpg's our group has been exposed to really interesting and different ways of dealing with situations at the table, and many of the ways d&d goes about resolving them feels, tired? Clunky? Here's what's first on my list to house rule.

Movement. 5e is feet (or squares) I can see the usefulness of having this information, the well is 7ft wide, the ladder 14ft tall. But do I want to have to deal with it all the time? No. Engaged, Nearby, Far-away thank-you-very-much. Possible Fate zones if you wanted to.

Monster mechanics = Yawn. If you're like "you have to make monsters do interesting things" I get you - its my job to make it interesting for the players. But trust me run a session of 13A and see how much more fun you have with monsters that are hardwired to be interesting in the first place. And then have the pull stunts. Double bubble.

Classes seem ok, I like the fact that you can build a super simple fighter, or with later rules, a complex guy with loads of moves and options. And im guessing, based on the limited covering of topics in the starter set that the GM experience will be as easy as 4e. CR is back for you 3/3.5 fans, but its appearing to work much more like the 4e xp buy system. Which was for me, one of the few saving graces of running that game.

The fact is, the way we play d&d, our 'kung fu style' will be whatever it is regardless of the rules, its just how long will those rules provide entertainment for? We're a year into 13A and Im still very happy running it, as are my players. We're coming to the end of a campaign arc at the moment, we'll run the starter set and see where we go from there. Theres a lot of adventure to be had at Phandelver.


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

ICON Issue 2

The latest issue of ICON fanzine is now available, featuring work from +Mike Shea +Venger Satanis +Bri Anderson +Brian Rodriguez and +ASH LAW

You can grab it here and no doubt it will be available over at http://13thage.org/ before too long, i'll also be submitting it to DriveThruRPG, expect that in a day or two.

If you re considering submitting an article, or have wondered what your words would look like in digital print - get in touch with me : david@8bitfactory.co.uk

Don't forget to share and enjoy.

Friday, 27 June 2014

NPC Betrayal

I wanted to write about NPC betrayal. I've got an unorthodox method of npc betrayal in my campaign at the moment and got to wondering how I would handle it other ways.

Exposition ahoy.

The npc in question is an early patron of the characters, a wizard specifically. The reason its unorthodox in the way i'm handling it is because the players know he has been replaced by a doppleganger, as they also run evil characters in the same campaign, something i've written about a little before. Whats great is that they know he's bad news, in meta game, but are fantastic enough role-players that they can push the story forward whilst using their good characters without using that information, and seem to have a much deeper emotional response to the character, and in fact, all the characters they come across in their dual lives at the table. Whats a real shame for the group however, is there will be no 'Aha!' moment. No reveal. Which kinda sucks.

So that got me to thinking how would I handle the turncoat thing differently, usually I'll set the story-line ball rolling and react to where it goes. I like to tell the story that players ask for. So I don't think having one enemy turncoat would be as story effective as having several potential turncoats. That way, when the players are at their most vulnerable - I can choose the npc who is under the least amount of suspicion and reveal him as a double agent for the maximum effect.

If intrigue is a focus of the campaign at any given time, i'll ensure that i'm giving out the vibes from several key npc's, then start letting clues drop - eventually they find out there's a mole - then they'll hopefully try and smoke them out. Perhaps discover a nefarious plot, and just in time, foil it or watch it go off.