Archive for the ‘Accross the Web’ Category

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

1 February, 2021

Is all right in the heavens?Welcome to the RPG Blog Carnival for the Month of February, 2021, on the theme of Gifts of the Gods, divine artifacts,

Such items figure in highly legends such as:

  • The Aegis of Athena, the shield that protects her (and indirectly the Olympians).
  • Mjölnir, the hammer of Thor, popularized in the Marvel comics and movies.
  • The Yata no Kagami (the sacred mirror) of Japanese legend.
  • And in fiction with such items as Stormbringer, the soul-drinking demonic sword and tool of the gods of Chaos.

A small number of such items, the thunderbolts used by Zeus, are mass produced.

So, let your imagination run wild!  Make up new items or stat up those from myth, describe places where lost items can be found or quests set by the gods for those who wish to “borrow” item for an important task, what artifacts would your campaign villain seek?  What is the craftsman of the gods working on?

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 in a 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 Third Celestial Armory.

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

Image Royal Armory at Leeds by Lofty found on Wikimedia Commons and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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History Resources for your Game [4]

20 December, 2020

A piece of historyA variety of interesting articles about history that have found recently and wished to share:

The story of the HOUGHTEAM, a secret unit sent into the ruin of Germany (while the fighting was still ongoing) to acquire the Nazi’s vast collection of maps and geophysical data for the US (and the keep it from the Soviets).  What a great plot for an adventure!

Some of the high valleys of Switzerland used to store cheese to be served at the owner’s funeral.  Funeral customs, apart from tombs to plunder, are often neglected in RPGs, so good food for thought here.

A very good discussion on oaths, how they are made and why can be found here.   Very useful for designing oaths for characters to take.  In fact the entirety of A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry is well worth mining for information on history.

Games have been with us forever, recently a Roman game piece has been found.   Many partial games have been found but is most case we do not have a firm idea of how the game was played.   Do your game worlds have any games unique to them?

Languages live and die with their speakers, and there are only about 2,000 people left who speak Tsakonika, a language descended from Laconian, the language of ancient Sparta.  It is one of the oldest surviving languages.  Have you used lost languages in one of your adventures?

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

Notes: Photo edited from the one at the Chester Standard and used without permission.

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History Resources for your Game [3]

4 October, 2019

A variety of interesting articles and sites about history I have found recently and wish to share:

Gamers will be pleased to learn that dice and games of chance have been with us a long time, the Romans even used dice towers to ensure randomness of the roll!

A canal in Amsterdam was drained as part of a construction project and they cataloged and photographed it all.  You can delve below the surface and see what they found by the date it was lost here.

Fish Pond in Hawai'iAquaculture, that is, the controlled raising of seafood, is not a new thing.  The Hawaiian have been doing it for centuries and they recently set about restoring one of the fishponds, very interesting and a good idea of what clever people can do even with limited technology.

In the late 19th and early 20th Century, railway work was so dangerous that the companies retained their own railway doctors who pioneered early trauma surgery.  Seems like a great background for a character to me.

A fascinating article about travel in the Ancient Greek World, which is full of useful information and ideas.

California City was designed to be a massive metropolis but it never happened.  Now there are just echoes and roads to nowhere.  Seems like a great place to visit or the seed for an alternate history.

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

Notes: Image of the Hawaii fishpond from Atlas Obscura and used without permission.

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Dark Future Ahead 28 – News from the ‘Net of a Cyberpunk bent

29 September, 2019

Energy VaultHow will the latest technological advances be used to advance the plutocracy?  Join me in reviewing some inspiration for cyberpunk gaming culled from my many trips into the matrix.  Enjoy the news:

Raytheon, that big defense contractor, is working on drone defenses for the US military working with various sorts of directed energy weapons, such as lasers and microwaves.

The Chinese Government is backing a Belt and Road Initiative, a new Silk Road, to build transportation and economic links from Asia to Europe and Africa, some of the giant machine used to build it are impressive in size and productivity.

A Swiss company, Energy Vault, has a design using cranes and concrete blocks to store energy.  If nothing else, it would be a great place to have a fight going on.

More ways to avoid facial recognition technology, some useful, others less so.

There are many ways to grow food inside using artificial light, LEDs are proving to be extremely flexible in such applications.  Who knows what harvest may come from such technologies?

For plants grown in the traditional methods, they are becoming increasingly vulnerable to diseases and other blights in our interconnected world.  Perhaps ironically, viruses may provide the best way to introduces defenses into plants to fight these dangers.

What visions of the coming dark future have you seen recently?

Notes: To my surprise, it has been nearly a year since my last Dark Future Ahead . . .

Image from Energy Vault and used without permission.

 

 

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Creative Sunday – Howard Brandon and Shaintar

9 June, 2019

Shaintar QuickStartAnother in an irregular series of posts, where I highlight some of the awesome creative things being done out in the world.  Today, we have:

Howard Brandon

Howard has been a friend of mine for many a year, he has played in several of my campaigns and I have played in a few of his.  For quite a while now, he has been the public face of the fantasy world Shaintar, powered by Savage Worlds, and its Organized Play branch (originally called Justice and Light, though I am not sure of the name of the current incarnation).

To go with the new version of Savage Worlds (the Adventure Edition), Savage Mojo, the current owners of Shaintar, have released a Shaintar JumpStart adventure, written by Howard, along with a set of pre-generated characters, if you want to give this fantasy world a try.

If you want to see some of the other work Howard has been doing for Shaintar setting, take a look here, he has been very busy.  He also has organized a mini-convention in his hometown of Madison, GA, which he hopes will grow into something bigger.

Notes: It has been a while since I did one of these so time to bring them back.  Howard deserves more recognition for all of his hard work on the Shaintar setting.

Also the links are affiliate links which will earn me a pittance if you purchase anything through them.

 

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Making Magic Wondrous – February RPG Blog Carnival Wrap Up

28 February, 2019

Magic is ColorfulAs is the way of February, it comes to a close quickly and with it, February 2019’s RPG Blog Carnival on Making Magic Wondrous comes to an end (though late submissions are always welcome).

The introductory article is here.  And I wrote a supporting piece, Everyday Magic in the Sea of Stars.

Contributions:

Roll4Net brings us the 3 Laws of Magic, showing how magic can work in a world.  And it is supported by the 3 Laws of Enchantment as well.

The Library of Legends uses an eponymously named article to look at magic items and gives advice I strongly agree with (I removed Detect Magic from the Sea of Stars years ago).

Codex Anathema looks at The Color of Magic to see what Magic: the Gathering can suggest to designing magic systems for RPGs.

Campaign Mastery, who is hosting March’s Carnival, contributed the math heavy but intriguing The Language Of Magic: A Sense of Wonder for the Feb 2019 Blog Carnival.

Thank you all for your words and thoughts!

Notes: Photo is “colour drops” by friedwater is licensed under CC by 2.0.

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June RPG Blog Carnival – “Why do I love RPGs? Why do I love GMing?”

30 June, 2018

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival is on a the wonderful theme of “Why do you love RPGs? Why do you love GMing?” hosted by Campaign Mastery.

I have been a gamer for most of my life, it is my primary and favorite hobby, starting way back in 1977 at the age of ten when my mother pointed out that the library in Eugene, Oregon, where I lived at the time, had a wargaming club on Saturdays.  It was there I first encountered D&D and I was immediately hooked.  Over the years I have watched the hobby grow from a closet obsession of people on the fringe, survive a “Satanic Panic” where good-meaning but mean-spirited people tried to stamp out the hobby, to watching the lexicon of our hobby (and our title “gamers”) snatched from us by the video game industry and now the rise of RPGs as a spectator sport over various internet platforms.  What a long strange trip it has been, but oh, so much fun.

What do I like and love about RPGs?  The freedom to do and be what you can imagine and do it all in the company of friends.  You get to have adventures, many of which will become fun stories of heroism and chaos in retrospect, from the safety of your (or your friend’s) home or other friendly meeting place.  I enjoy the chance to see other worlds through the eyes of imaginary people, and sometime playing around with rules systems too, but mostly it is the joint adventuring and story-telling that I find fun.

What do I like and love about GMing?  Much the same as for being a player.  But this time instead of being an actor or co-author, I get to be the primary author or director.  I set the stage for the game to play out on, with the input of the other players, and we have a great adventure together.  When it all works right, it is quite magical, and when it just works, it is still fun.

There is more I could write, but that is the essence and I want to get it in before the deadline.

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Dark Future Ahead 27 – News from the ‘Net of a Cyberpunk bent

14 June, 2018

Which new technology will go horribly wrong?  Join me in reviewing some inspiration for cyberpunk gaming culled from my many trips into the worldnet.  Enjoy the news:

Go see the full sized oneHurricane Electric Internet Services has a lovely visualization of the global internet backbone.  Very visually pleasing and interesting.

The Australian Defense Force used a DroneGun (really an anti-drone gun) to disable drones around the ASEAN summit.  Here is more information on DroneShield the company that makes the DroneGun.

Just in time?  As the US Army is starting to assign microscout drones to its units.  It will be interesting to see how tactics evolve using tools like this.  More information on the Black Hornet drone direct from it manufacturer.

We can now watch the evolution of language in real time.  Be on fleek for the future.

A company is retrofitting cargo containers into mobile hydroponic farms.  What would you do if you stole one of these instead of your intended target?  More information on the company, Local Roots, behind them.

What visions of the coming dark future have you seen recently?

Notes: Image from Hurricane Electric Internet Services but do go look at the full sized one.

 

 

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