Archive for May, 2015


Into June, May falls behind

31 May, 2015

The name June evolves from the Roman month Iunius, or Junius, is named in honor of the ancient Roman goddess Juno who is the wife of Jupiter and oversees marriage (and equated with the long suffering Greek goddess Hera).   For the Romans, the first half of Iunius is a period of religious purification and was considered the most favorable time to marry, though mine was on the Solstice and it has worked out pretty well.

Summer officially starts this month, so, any thoughts on a theme, reader?  Send me your suggestions and I will try to act on them.

May, 2015, saw the following posts on the design journal:

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Review – Wulfin (for OGL Fantasy)

31 May, 2015

Wulfin is a resource for a new species, brave wolf-humanoid communal defenders of all that is good.  They are obviously a species near and dear to the author’s heart but unfortunately there are some poor organization calls and mechanical problems that drag down the usefulness of this product.  The Wulfin deserve a full rewrite to bring them to the gaming community as their author had intended.

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So, I have a Patreon account now

30 May, 2015

I joined the tide of hopeful content creators and have created my own Patreon account.  So, if you would like to support and encourage my creativity, I will be grateful.

In any case, I will be continuing to create new content here which I hope has been useful for people.

Thank you for your support here or there.


My ‘What are you good at’ GM Challenge

29 May, 2015

From the devious mind of Barking Alien comes the ‘What are you good at’ GM Challenge.  It is pretty simple, five systems/genres you do well, three you do not, five GM skills you excel at and three that need improvement.  For me:

What genres, settings, or games in general do you GM best? Which ones do you think you totally rock?

  1. Traditional (as in D&Desque) Fantasy, fantasy is a good standby and the central pillar of my gaming experience, by now I am pretty good at juggling the needs of it as a genre.
  2. Silver Age Superheroes, when heroes were heroes and villains had themes (“Not this day, Comet Master!“).
  3. Cyberpunk/Shadowrun, the dark future is a surprisingly fun place to play games.
  4. Legend of the Five Rings, the Empire of Rokugan has always proven to be a good place to run games.  Everyone likes magical samurai, right?
  5. Action/Adventure, as a general rule, this is my strength.

Which games could you use to work on? That is, if your group wants to play one of these games, you yourself would probably recommend a different GM.

  1. Politics, I have real trouble tracking the vast number of NPCs and plots required for a really solid political game.
  2. Horror, never sure how to get player buy in for this.
  3. Comedy, while I have run games with lots of humor, a pure comedy game I suspect would collapse with me as a GM.

What elements of Gamemastering do you do best? What aspects do you nail more often than not?

  1. Flexibility, I can adapt quickly to whatever craziness the players throw at me.
  2. Making Players Awesome, I want everyone to be awesome!  So, letting players and their be cool is what it is about.
  3. Imagination, I like to think that I present an exciting and interesting world.
  4. Action/Adventure (again!), presenting high action really does seem to be one of my strong suites.
  5. NPCs that help without getting in the way, this is a skill that took me sometime to learn as a GM but I think I have it down now.

Which elements are still a work in progress? Name some things that you don’t do as well as you’d like.

  1. Organization/Note-taking, not as careful or as complete as I should be on either of these (linked) GM duties.
  2. Politics/large number of required NPCs, as mentioned above, the organization and tracking needed for large scale politics and intrigue seem beyond me.
  3. Player Commitment, not as good as inspiring this as I would like, no one seems to be willing to do more than the minimum needed to play.  Which can be understandable but to build a strong campaign some additional interaction and support is needed.

An interesting exercise and food for thought.


Tuesday Magic Item – Deatheater Blade

26 May, 2015

Swords of FaithThe old knight stopped at the top of the stairway leading down into the catacombs.  “You two, take warning back to the town, I will buy your what time my old frame can.”

Voddick paused to send a crossbow bolt into the undead thing that was trying to mount the base of the stairs, causing it to stumble but not fall.  “There are scores if not hundreds of them, you will be killed.”

The knight’s sword started burning with an eerie blue-white flame.  “They will not find me easy prey.  Now go.”

Gollaon tossed a three freshly lit torches down the stairs.  “That might slow them a bit.  May your faith be strong and your sword sharp, Sir Venryll.”

“May the Ancestors guide you safe and quick,” he replied with a quick salute.  The two nodded and then ran for the town with all possible speed.

Deatheater Blade

These swords are forged of steel alloyed with a dusting of silver and quenched in a mixture of holy water and rare oils.  The hilt or shaft can be plain or elaborate depending upon whom it was originally made for, but usually religious symbolism is worked in somewhere.

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Rokugan SRIU Episode 3 “Temples, Tigers and Trouble” (L5R Campaign Report)

25 May, 2015

Six weeks have passed since the Hanami and the Empire moves into early summer.  The new members of the SRIU have been spending their days training as yoriki.  After several weeks of alternating training and relaxing in the capital, the characters are giving a solid grounding the duties and responsibilities of an Imperial yoriki, including such tasks as checking travel papers, filling out the proper reports in the proper format, road building and repair and jitte fighting.  The Bayushi spends her evening indulging in theatre, the Hida practices origami and watches some sumo and the Lioness, writes letters.

The Otaku is ‘requisitioned’ to inspect Imperial cavalry units by Taisho Seppun Bachin and the Doji is sent along to act as her minder (explaining where this two characters were during this adventure as the players were out).  The rest of the unit are tasked with escorting Kaiu Taura, an engineer, to Ryu Bannin Toshi (Dragon’s Guard City also called Treacherous Pass City) to build a fortified Temple for the Order of Harmonious Work at the last Imperial way station before the mountain pass leading to the Phoenix lands.  The journey is uneventful, apart from getting wet from a few sudden storms, and they arrive at Ryu Bannin Toshi and partake in the wonderful fish for which the city is justly famous.

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New Magic Item – Sword of the Bandit King (for D&D5)

20 May, 2015

‘Red Teeth’ Wrack smiled his unpleasant smile as he picked up the sword, the pooling blood from his former leader’s slit throat did not slow him in the least.  “Now, I am the bandit king,” he whispered to himself.

Sword of the Bandit King

Weapon, very rare (requires attunement, but see below)

This slightly curved long sword is made of blued steel and shows signs if some hard use, but the blade remains in excellent condition.  The hilt has a distinctive hand-guard inlaid in silver with setting for gem, which may or may not be set depending on the fortunes of the wielder.  The grip is made up of multiple short lengths of cording in various color, one length for each former wielder.

For most, it is just a +1 long sword.  It desires to make its wielder the bandit king or queen, the most famous outlaw in the world.  It is not intelligent as such, but it does seek someone to make that desire, real.  As such, it provides its wielder with a variety of abilities:

  • Advantage on Charisma checks when dealing with bandits, pirates and similar such criminals and outlaws.
  • The sword’s enhancement bonus increase by one for each order of magnitude of followers, +2 with 10, +3 with 100 and so on up to +5 at 10,000 or more followers.
  • Once they have 10 or more followers, the wielder gains advantage to all saves against mind-effecting abilities.
  • Once a day, by proclaiming loudly, “I am the bandit queen!” (or as appropriate to the wielder and followers), all of her followers within line of sight or earshot gain advantage on their next attack roll and advantage on saves against fear for ten minutes per bonus of the sword.  The sword’s wielder gains a +1 bonus to attack rolls and saves and one temporary hit point per follower within 20′ per bonus of the sword (at the time the proclamation was made) for the same duration.

The sword wants to be in the hands of the most ambitious bandit leader it comes into contact with and it will send visions to those it wants to wield it, showing them what they could be . . . with the sword in hand.  Anyone who has dreamed of wielding the sword, instantly attunes it when they take it from its current owner.

Likely fate of those who embace the sword.

Notes: As requested, a D&D5 version, the Pathfinder version can be found here.  A brutal weapon for an ambitious criminal who will likely rise, and fall, spectacularly.

Image from Wikimedia Commons and is in the Public Domain.


Tuesday Magic Item – Sword of the Bandit King

19 May, 2015

A stylish leader of banditsThe young bandit lead the pair to the largest tent, “Sir, the two mercenaries to see you.”

“Show them in,” came the reply from inside.  The bandit opened the tent flap and the two venturers entered.  Seated on a camp stool was a well dressed man with a prominent scar running from under his left ear to the base of his throat.  Behind him were two rough looking fellows with crossbows.

The discussion ran the usual, fees for services, expected cut of plunder and such like and concluded quickly.  The two were dismissed and once alone, they began quietly talking among themselves.

“You recognized that sword?” asked Gollaon.

“How could I forget it?  That is the one Reckless Wilhelm used when he was the Prince of the Red Banner Band,” replied Voddick.  “The ones who almost killed us when were were serving as caravan guards and then got themselves slaughtered trying to take that tournament hostage at Westford.”

“And was owned by Vallia the Black Eagle when she united the coastal raiders, until they tried to capture Asterdahl and were sunk by the Republic’s navy,” added Gollaon.  “That sword is trouble, I say we part ways with it as soon as we safely can.”


Sword of the Bandit King

This slightly curved long sword is made of blued steel and shows signs if some hard use, but the blade remains in excellent condition.  The hilt has a distinctive hand-guard inlaid in silver with setting for gem, which may or may not be set depending on the fortunes of the wielder.  The grip is made up of multiple short lengths of cording in various color, one length for each former wielder.

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Random Bandit Gang generator

18 May, 2015

Thinking about my upcoming L5R adventure and bandits gangs made me throw this little random generator together.  It is pretty bare bones but useful, I hope.

Random Bandit Gang

Size, if near a Major Trade Route +1, if local Law Enforcement is lax +1, if a war was recently fought in the local area +1 (these modifiers are cumulative).

1 – 3-5 members
2-3 – 6-15 members
4-7 – 16-30 members
8-9 – 31-60 members
10+ – 60+ members


1-2 – Disgruntled Peasants
3-6 – Unemployed Ronin/Mercenaries
7- Broke Merchants/Smugglers
8-9 – Charismatic Leader
Roll again: 1-2 Peasant Agitator, 3-9 Ambitious Individual, 10 Religious
10 – Special, roll again:
    1-4 – Suppressed Religious Sect*
    5-6 – Secretly backed by political faction to use against enemies**
    7-9 – Front for a Dark Cult*
    10 – Operation of a Secret Society**

* Has a extra 50% chance to roll on the Magic table of the Tricks chart
** Roll twice on the Tricks Table

Base of Operations

1-5 – Isolated wilderness camp
6-7 – Mobile/Ship/Boats
8-9 – Cowed Village
10 – Special, roll again
 1-2 – Abandoned Fort
    3-7 – Forgotten Temple
    8-9 – Ghost Town
    10 – Noble’s Estate


1-3 – None
4-7 – Highly skilled champion or elite squad of fighters
8 – Special Weapons/Equipment
9 – Highly mobile (mounts/secret paths/great at forced marches/whatever)
10 – Magic, roll again
    1-4 – Hedge Wizard/Self-taught Sorcerer
    5-9 – Heretic Priest/Rogue Shugenja/Crazed Druid
    10 – Powerful Magic Item (may be the brains behind the operation)

Now, let us give it a spin.  The players have heard rumors of a bandit gang along the North Trade Road.  It is a well patrolled region, so no bonuses there but it is a major trade route and there was a recent war, so +2 to the size roll: 6 + 2 = 8, 31-60 bandits.  Origin 7, broke merchants.  Base 2, remote wilderness base.  Tricks, 9, highly mobile.

So, we have the remnants of a merchant company driven out of business by unscrupulous competitors but still mobile due to their wagons and mounts.  They prefer to attack the caravans of their former rivals but will do what they have to to survive. we will call them the “Rough Blade Company”.

Comments?  Suggestions?


You can register for GenCon events now!

17 May, 2015

It is the 17th and GenCon event registration is Open!

Go here to see the Legend of the Five Rings RPG games I am GMing there!

Hope to see some of you there!

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