Archive for the ‘Accross the Web’ Category

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Styles of Game Mastering, this is mine.

24 July, 2022

Always in progressOver at RPGGeek, there is a discussion about GMing styles (which you can find here) where I replied but I thought that I would share it here as well.

So, my thoughts on how I run a game.

My World, I have the final say about how things are, how they work and how it all fits together. That being said, I love for players to add, adapt and build off of things in the setting. Just because I have the right to veto something does not mean that I want to use it, I want the game to be fun for the player and something they are willing to buy into and make their own as well.

Let the players lead, there are things going on in the world that will happen in certain ways if not interfered with but it is up to the players to decide what their characters do and if they want to get involved in plots larger than “let us earn so money to buy drinks”. I do not use end-of-the-world plots (except in my superheroes campaign where the characters stopping such things is an underlying assumption of the genre) and while the world may get “worse” if the characters do not stop certain things, they will always have a chance to correct course and make things better laters, if that is their wish.

Light Preparation, I rarely have more than a page of notes going into a game, sometimes I highlight people, places or things I want to make sure show up (or at least get referenced) but usually I just have an opening scene and a handful of threads and off we go. I have been trying to be better at taking notes and these days I almost always have a google doc open as I am playing to add notes to as things happen and get mentioned.

There are Consequences, which is why note-taking is important! If the shadowrunners piss off Manawave Technologies and leave clues as to who they are, if the venturers insult a Draconic representative, if our teen heroes foil a plan by the Puzzle Master, these will lead to consequences . . . The games and the adventures do not take place in a vacuum, what the player characters do effect the world, usually in small ways but sometimes in major one and, in turn, the world will affect them.

Naturally, all these interlock, because I know my world(s), I am able to work out how to fit in player ideas and suggestions and to extrapolate the effects of their actions will have on and in the world.  I can start with minimal notes and work outward because I have a strong idea of how things fit together and what the general currents are in the campaign.

Notes: photo [Construction Site] Louis Lafon, found on the Met and is in the Public Domain

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Dark Future Ahead 30 – News from the ‘Net of a Cyberpunk bent

3 June, 2022

How dark is the Future?  As dark as you need it to be for an interesting game.  (Personally, I am pretty hopeful but happy, shiny futures are not as interesting to play in.)  Let us see what interesting things await us in the near future:Underwater Garden

Food thefts become more common?  Look at the case of the purloined pistachios.  At the very least it would make for a different sort of adventure.

Looking at alternate forms of powers, what about harnessing the power of the wind through kites!  Kites can be used to generate power in several different ways and take up let space than a windmill and can even be mobile.  Or perhaps you would rather convert obsolete oil tankers into floating energy generators and maybe even factories as they travel the world, fishing for power.  Seems like a great place for a job.  Other companies are working on modular turbines that can be used in rivers and tidal basins and easily connected into existing grids (or create new ones in isolated areas).  This sort of turbine powering a small, out-of-the-way community could be a good centerpiece for a magnificent seven sort of scenario.  Interesting ideas all.

Speaking of interesting ideas, what about underwater greenhouses?  Using the water outside for temperature regulation, maybe hook them up to some of the generators above for a complete closed system.  A fascinating idea but harvesting and retrieving the plants grown seems a bit tricky.

Water systems seem to be a theme, Bechtel is working on ways to use water to improve the efficiency of cooling data centers, which is a huge energy sink apparently, so reducing energy costs for cooling such is important for a variety of reasons.  Again, another interesting place to set a mission.

So, who is watching you?  The Electronic Frontier Foundation has advice on how to know who is watching you and how at street-level surveillance.  Good things to keep aware of.

And more ways to use technology to learn things, there is a way to use a single laser to “see” what is in a room, useful if you need to break into that room, troubling if someone is planning on breaking in on you.

Need a campaign idea?  How about rescuing stranded and damaged container ships?  It is likely to be a growth industry, requiring specialized skills and nerves of steel, sound like player characters to me.

Now, to wrap up on a lighter note.  Need some ideas for new and almost real media for your game world, try NestFlix!

Photo underwater greenhouses from Nemo’s Garden and used without permission.

 

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Dragons! Ending this month’s RPG Blog Carnival

28 February, 2022

Today is the last day of the RPG Blog Carnival for the Month of February, 2022, on the theme of Something, Something, Dragons so still time to join in!

DragonsI had hoped for more participation, but this has been a wierd month with lost of distractions (especially over the last few days!).

Codex Anathema talked about the Draconic Prophecies of Eberron (in Spanish!)

Curato Alain linked to this thread on RPG Geek: Not your Usual Dragon.

My contributions were: Read the rest of this entry ?

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Dragons! Beginning this month’s RPG Blog Carnival

1 February, 2022

Welcome to the RPG Blog Carnival for the Month of February, 2022, on the theme of Something, Something, Dragons.

Obviously, the important part of the theme is DRAGONS, creatures so central to our conception of roleplaying games that they are half of the title of the “world’s most popular roleplaying game”.

So, let us talk about Dragons.  Some ideas:

The Seven-Headed Dragon, Fairy Tale by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Illustration by Kay Nielsen, 1925

  • Tell us how dragons fit into your world or do not.
  • What dragons are well known in your world?  What myths and legends surround them?
  • Tricks and techniques of successful dragon hunters.
  • Why do dragons gather hoards?  And what do they hoard in your campaign.
  • What can be made with dragon bone and dragon scale?
  • If you eat a dragon’s heart, what happens?
  • Stories of encounters with dragons from your games.

Let your imagination soar like a flying dragon (and how do dragons fly?).

I hope you find inspiration.  Please leave a comment on this post with a link to your submission.  As people post link, please take a look as the idea is to share, inspire and bounce of one another’s ideas.  At the end of the month, all of the links will be collected as in a hoard in a final wrap up post.

If you are not a blogger hopefully you will be still be inspired.  If you start a relevant thread on Reddit or Discord or a forum or whatever, then please post a link to it in the comments so that can be shared too.  The more people involved, the merrier!  Let us create some wondrous things together!

My first contribution, the Dragon Empress.

Notes: This will be the fourth time the Sea of Stars has hosted the RPG Blog Carnival, the first time back in May, 2017 with the theme of Occult Mysteries, the second time in February, 2019 with the theme of Making Magic Wondrous, and the third was February, 2021, on the theme of Divine Artifacts.

Thanks to Daemons and Death Rays for hosting the RPG Blog Carnival last month on Political intrigue, Courtly drama and Factions.

Image The Seven-Headed Dragon, Fairy Tale by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Illustration by Kay Nielsen, 1925, from the United Archives, and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

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History Resources for your Game [5]

17 November, 2021

A variety of interesting articles about history that have found recently that you can use to add depth and texture to your game world or just to expand your general knowledge.  I use them for both.

A long walk for a drinkThere are more ways to catch fish than nets and lines, the Pacific North West tribes built extensive fish traps along the coast.  These fish traps were extensive and suddenly forgotten due to a terrible set of circumstances.  But a fascinating technology for harvesting fish.  Is your campaign set along a coast?  Is there a place there for fish traps?  If so, would any of the cultures there be likely to use them?

Though sometimes your concern is with water, in Indin they used to use step wells to gather and store water.  There is a concerted effort to reclaim and rebuild these unusual and fascinating water storage systems.  Is water a concern in areas of your campaign world?  What strategies do the people there use to store and conserve water?

This is a fascinating article about the Zone Rouge, the area of France still deemed too dangerous to visit because of abanded Great War munitions and toxins.  Interesting enough on its own, but noted in there is the fact that certain types of plants can tell you what sorts of minierials are in the soil.  Yes, prospecting with plants!  It would be a neat “secret technique” for exploring druids, perhaps an order that is tied to one of the Dwarven cultures?  Are there any areas due to the aftermath of war or other reasons that are unsafe to visit?

Dogs and people have been living together for millennia, and we have shaped many dog to fit very niche need.  This article looks at some of the vanished breeds whose purpose vanished and, as happens, so did they.  The story of the evolution of our current types of dogs is interesting and a bit sad as so many other types of dogs were left behind, lost in the mists of time.  Though a turnspit dog might make a fine familair for a wizard who specialized in culinary magic.  What sorts of dogs are there in your campaign?  Does any culture specialize in creating exotic dogs?

Did you know that there are abanonded buildings and even entire towns in the US Nation Parks?  Here are a few of them.  Great place to set a horror game or perhaps for a supervillain to hide their secret base.

Hope this have you thinking   Have you found any intriguing or fascinating history you would like to share?  If so, please do!

Notes: Photo by Dharani.prakas, found on Wikimedia Commons and used under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

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20 Quick Questions: Rules from Necropraxis

21 August, 2021

OldBooksI have been listening to Judd Karlman’s Daydreaming about Dragons podcast, which I highly recommend, and he mentioned this set of rules-based questions from Necropraxis that I thought would be fun to answer for the Sea of Stars.

Quote: “Here are 20 rules clarifications that are likely to be needed anyways at some point.”

1 Ability scores generation method?

Whichever you want to use. I am a fan of roll 4d6, drop lowest, arrange to suit but I am flexible, Read the rest of this entry ?

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Dark Future Ahead 29 – News from the ‘Net of a Cyberpunk bent

9 June, 2021

How will the world change as we move into the new corporate dystopia?  Join me in looking at some inspiration for cyberpunk gaming culled from my many trips into the matrix.  Enjoy the news:

It is a ridiculous vehicle but cost effective, even if it does look like a toy, meet the Ami.  For absurdity, a chase involving several of these could be hilarious.

Let there be warFor those cyberpunk setting that feature Neo-Soviets or aggressive Russians, here is their Cathedral of War.  It seems like a rather over-engineered justification for any future military actions taken by the Russian state, not disturbing at all.

How Red Bull uses football (and other sports) to build their brand, the success of RB Leipzig in German Soccer. An excellent example of how corporations use various means to advertises themselves which sometimes  becoming money making enterprises in their own right.

The celebrity impersonators making money on Cameo, it seems there is at least the chance to have some confusion on an extraction mission here.  Or possible a way to help pay for that body sculpt into an obscure 20th C actor.

Need something valuable and interesting to people to steal (or need to protect)?  What about Bob Ross paintings which are surprisingly rare given the number he painted . . .

Who says technology and superstition do not meet?  There is a superstition, maybe humorously played into, that a certain type of snack will keep your technology functioning properly . . .

Robots and cows, living together in harmony, at the Oldenkamp Diary.  Would be an interesting place for a chase or fight.

Notes:It has been a bit since I did one of these, hope you find it interesting.

Photo of the Cathedral of War found on Wikimedia Commons, comes from the websites (mil.ru, минобороны.рф) of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation and is copyrighted.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence.

 

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Festival – The Empress’ Birthday (RPG Blog Carnival)

27 May, 2021

The year in the Sea of Stars runs as dictated by the Empress and is universal across the entire world, the year consists of thirteen months of twenty-eight days each and one epagomenal day in the middle of summer, the Empress’ Birthday.

495px-Pantomimes_of_1866_-_Hush-a-Bye_BabyWhile the Empress does not demand or enforce celebration on this day, though naturally all of the lands she personally rules do, most communities celebrate it in one fashion or another.  It is often combined with other civic festivals, founding days, name days, all sorts of events get rolled into the big day.

Popular ways to celebrate include parades, speeches and firework displays.  Some groups have martial displays, gladiatorial combats are not unknown.  Plays, songs and other performance art celebrating (or at least acknowledging the power of the Empress) are expected not least because the Empress often visits out of the way communities on this day, sometime she is said to have visiting multiple places across vast distances but that can not be true, can it?

Over time, the plays have evolved from very formal and stately celebrations to more popular entertainment.  Many now use the plays and performances to comment on and satirize local politics and notables.  In a fashion similar to commedia dell’arte or the English Pantomime, the former usually performed by professional with the latter begin more ad hoc productions.  The Empress (and local dragons) are usually not the targets for such frivolity, as most dragons are rather thin skinned, though the Empress is occasionally (and somewhat ironically) cast in the role of deus ex machina on occasion.

How the characters could get involved:

  • Attend a play or celebration.
  • A wizard, or other spellcaster, could be hired to provide fireworks or illusions.  Especially at the last minute after the prepared firework got wet.
  • If the characters are well known, they could be asked to perform or be drafted to act in the Panto.  Once in, they might be paid or pressured to include political commentary damaging to one of the local factions.
  • Rumors say the empress has been spotted!  At our festival!

Notes:  This is in support of this month’s the RPG Blog Carnival, Adding Festivals, Holidays, and Birthdays to Your Game hosted by Full Moon Storytelling.

Image Details from “The Pantomimes of 1866”, found on Wikimedia Commons and is in the Public Domain.

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RPG Blog Carnival – the Parable of the Bridge

8 March, 2021

Bridge to SomewhereIn support of this month’s RPG Blog Carnival Say yes to your players(hosted by the Roll4 Network) I thought that I would tell a story from some years ago that taught me a vital lesson.

So, I had gathered a group of five players. Their characters had all been drawn from across the Sea of Stars to the edges of civilization by a set of powerful dreams.  They arrive in the city of Asku-Korla, once a wealthy city that sat astride a major trade route, which has been slowly dying since the Sundering changed the world.  Much of the city is abandoned and the core is now ruled by the Bronze Lion, a Conan type former adventurer who deposed the former king.  This will be important later.

They find each other at an inn, the Compass, knowing but not knowing each other, where they each receive a letter inviting them to a tomb to discover the truth about the dreams.  Together, they venture out to the tomb, defeat some monsters and each recovers an item from the tomb that seem to be of a deeper significance, almost as if it was made for them.  Emerging from the tomb, there is Burns Brightly, a sorcerer and the source of the letters, who ask them to join her in her plans of conquest as together they can ascend and rule.  The characters refuse, a fight ensures, Burns Brightly escapes, vowing revenge and the characters return to the city.

So, here we have the characters (and the villain) as reincarnations of great heroes (actually demi-gods, but the characters never learned this) set up for a classic conflict of good against evil as they try to reclaim their birthright!  But it did not happen that way . . .

One of the characters, Kao Li, was one of the apprentices of a famous magistrate of the Jade Pillar Dynasty and disliked by his rival apprentices.  An attempt is made on his life and they trace it down to the Resident Magistrate of the Dynasty, who was acting on a request from one of the rival apprentices, depose him and install Kao Li as the new Resident Magistrate.  When they visit the Bronze Lion to introduce themselves, it goes well, and they learn who Ashu-Korla was once a rich and prosperous city on the trade route from the Dynasty to the outside world but it is rarely used now as it marginally easier to sail around the island than travel over it.  The characters decided to rectify this by . . . building a bridge!  Making travel to and from the Dynasty easier and restoring the ancient trade routes.

The rest of the campaign was devoted to the task of building that bridge: gathering materials, drawing up plans, making deals on both sides of the bridge and so on.

But that was what the players were excited by, so that is what the game’s focus shifted to.  That was the important lesson learned, follow what the players are interested in even if it is not where you thought the game was going.  I was a bit surprised at first (“My beautiful campaign idea!”) but quickly adapted and since then, I have never made big plans and let the players choose their direction (if any) for campaign arcs.

Image Suō Province: Iwakuni, Kintai Bridge (Suō, Iwakuni, Kintaikyō), part of the series Famous Places in the Sixty-odd Provinces, No. 51 (Sanyōdō group) by Hiroshige, found on Wikimedia Commons and is in the Public Domain.

 

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Gifts of the Gods, divine artifacts, ending the RPG Blog Carnival

28 February, 2021

Gifts and CursesFebruary comes to an end and with it, my time as host of the RPG Blog Carnival, though I am sure that I will host again soon.

The framework for Gifts of the Gods, divine artifacts, is here.

Firstly, Roleplay-Geek provided thoughtful advice on handing out A Gift from the Gods.

Moving through time and space to Campaign Mastery who presents the Forbidden Weapons of the Omega Archive, a very Whovian trove of items but with suggestions to adapt them to other settings.

Out of the mists comes Owlbear Games with a look at how divine gifts might be twisted in the realm of Ravenloft.

A silver flame leads us to Codex Anathema exploration of the Relics of Old, with a focus on Eberron.

The gentle flow of water is the core of Full Moon Storytelling‘s tale of how the Everflow became a central point of their campaign world.

At Five Foot Square we are introduced to the mysteries of the Hidden Queen in A Gift or a Curse?  The Cult of the Hidden Queen.

Cruel Trinkets of the Mad Gods are presented by Rising Phoenix Games as their contribution to the Carnival.

My contributions were: the Third Celestial Armory, where the gods used to keep their weapons and now the Draconic Imperium does.  Divine Artifacts in the Sea of Stars, where to look for them and where the few new ones come from.

Thanks to everyone who participated and spread the word!

Notes:  March’s RPG Blog Carnival is Say yes to your players, hosted by the Roll4 Network, hope to see you there as well.

Image “Keith Haring – The Marriage of Heaven and Hell [1985]” by Andrea Sartorati is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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