Where’s Judd?

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These are the places you can regularly hear and/or see me talking about gaming or doing the thing and streaming some play. Links are both in the pictures and in the text beneath.

Here’s the link where I store my links.

You can find me on Mastodon


Daydreaming about Dragons Podcast

The logo for my podcast, Daydreaming about Dragons

In which I have a conversation with you about techniques that are shaking out at the tables where I sit and inspirational media.


The Sixth Ring, a Trophy Podcast

In which Jason and I discuss the Trophy RPG and in doing so end up talking about game culture and techniques that link up to all kinds of tabletop RPG’s.


I’m often gaming on the Actual Play twitchstream channel.

World of Dungeons, Twitch.com/ACTUALPLAY

Municipal Dungeon Delving in the fantasy city of Jaquays (pronounced Jake-Ways) in the wake of the Sorcerer-Kings, who have abandoned this world and have left their toxic labs, wyrd towers and feral pets all over the city-scape. More about the making of this game here.


I’ve been honored to play so much on the Actual Play channel, a place where I’ve made wonderful friends and played wondrous games.


What am I regularly playing off-stream?

The Sigil 6: Outlands Expedition Team

On Thursday evenings we play D&D, our Thursday night game, founded at the start of the pandemic. Here are the characters and the links to the related blog posts (houserules, AP posts, etc.).


https://githyankidiaspora.com/friday-night-troika-and-other-strangeness/

Here’s where I’m keeping my ideas for the science-fantasy RPG, Troika!, and blog posts about our Friday night game. Link above (and in the tabs at the top of the page).


At the bottom of most blog posts you might notice links to my Threadless shop. A few years ago I started combining my librarian’s passion for finding old out-of-copyright pics and general geekery with the Affinity Art Suite and this Threadless shop was born. I set up the shop so the proceeds that would go to me go to amazing organizations. Below is what the shop has earned as of 11/28/22 a total of $346.69 for organizations like Medshare India, Fair Fight, National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network, National Center for Transgender Equity and many more.

Design examples and links to collections below:

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/tabletop-role-playing-games
https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/science-fiction
https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/dune-collection
Geek Media Studies
https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/geek-media-studies
My Favorite Page in World of Dungeons

My Favorite Page in World of Dungeons

World of Dungeons by John Harper is a tiny pdf, 3 double-spread pages, a third of which is the stained character sheet printed twice. In that space you get enough rules to get started with the idea that as you go, you and your friends will be creating new moves as needed.

My favorite page, though, the one I never see anyone discuss – the one that we ignored when Sean and I played is the following:

List of places and names.

The places: Northlands, Imperium, Regency, Xanathar & Islands, Uru & the Great Desert, Akhyra & Cythonis

Northlands, Imperium, Regency, Xanathar & Islands, Uru & the Great Desert, Akhyra & Cythonis, with a list of evocative names under each. That right there is a setting. That is all anyone needs to get started. Daydream on that, write some names on a map, scrawl out a few rivers, some mountains, jot some symbol that means, “demon-haunted hole filled with treasure,” a few times and you are good to go.

Dangitall, there is even cosmology about True Names in there that I didn’t even remember until I pasted the page into my blog.

I think what I’ve learned in the process of writing this is I like my settings with more questions than answers.

What is the Regency? Is there a child-king ruled by a council of oligarchs? Will the oligarchs hand over power when the child comes of age?

The border where the Northlands meets the Imperium – is it open war? Feuding? Have the Northlands Jarls sworn oaths to the Empire?

Xanathar and Islands – why is the Imperium navy having trouble keeping its hold on the forts here?

Uru and the Great Desert – what remnants of a once worlds spanning government has its ancient ruins buried in these sands? What are the people like who call the Uru home and why has the Imperium kept its armies clear of them?

Ankhyra and Cythonis – what is the cultural link between these lands and the Imperium? What relationship did they have with the ancient people of Uru? What political conflict is causing civil war there now?

And I want those questions answered through play – if they are answered at all.

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Choose Your Apocalypse

Choose Your Apocalypse

Preparing to play Apocalypse World: Burned Over with Jay and Aaron. Their playbook choices are kind of rootless, so I’m offering up some setting choices.

PIC: Skull with flaming top of head icon

TEXT: APOCALYPSE WORLD: BURNED OVER

make the post-apocalypse seem real
make the PCs’ lives interesting to you 
and play to find out what the PCs make of their world

Red and Yellow gradient in text, crumpled poster texture over it all
https://lumpley.games/burnedover/

Here are a few ideas:

The Simple Desert: There are a few places where people dwell but it is all highway and desert in all directions. Where are you on an olde world map? Who knows? Who cares? Where are you getting your next drink of water?

Empirepocalypse: Eastern Seaboard, raise the sea level by 30 feet or so. Start in NYC, where people are surviving in skyscrapers, boats, remaining bridges and that ole decommissioned aircraft carrier/museum parked there.

Too close?

The Underground: Whatever happened on the surface, only people who retreated underground survived. The world is a series of tunnels and underground highways linking old mines to old missile silos to old government vaults.

Low Earth Orbit: There are enough space stations in orbit that the last of humanity is clinging to life while orbiting the tombworld called Earth. Moon-base, space elevator and a few space stations put up by the last of the space-capable powers before the apocalypse 50 years ago (India, China, Russia and the Vatican). Motorcycle gangs = jet pack gangs. Semi-truck = space shuttle. Interceptor Car = Orbital Fighter Jet.

We made a choice. An Operator and a Weaponized in Low Earth Orbit. Excited!

Apocalypse World: Burned Over title

Low Earth Orbit with funky, gritty, scifi fonts and cool green glow over a pic of the earth from orbit.

The Hard Zones are as follows:

The Olde Station – the piece of crap first floated into space. Often called The Tomb.

The Last Elevator – the last tether to Earth, used to grow food and transport those with the resources and the bravery to set foot on the ruined planet that birthed our species.

The Moon – our species’ first stop in space, now home to the closest thing to a city that remains and the defiled historical site of the First Landing.

The Highest Cathedral – the Vatican’s first orbital platform, an ambitious half-completed cross floating in space. The Jesuits produce some of the finest scientific minds left.

The Zhenbao-Damanski Station – Where Chinese and Russian clans play out the last pathetic breaths of earthbound political rivalries with Indian families trying to broker peace. The original name for the station is lost, now it is named after an island Russia and China fought over back on Earth.

I can’t WAIT to see their playbook decisions. They will say so much about the setting.

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Into the Odd Delve #6: Under St. Mugrunden’s Abbey

Into the Odd Delve #6: Under St. Mugrunden’s Abbey

Pre-game Pitch: Over in the Cathedral District, Abbot Van-Wolff at the St. Mugrunden’s Abbey, seems to have been experimenting with Arcanum and something has gone wrong. Locals are complaining of green energy and restless dead. The Adventurer’s Co-Operative has won a bid to delve into the catacombs, find out what we can and take whatever isn’t nailed down. The Cathedral District Councilors are not pleased with this decision but their neighbors insist.

Into the Odd
Delve #6
Under St. Mugrunden's Abbey

Found a One Page Dungeon in this reddit threadThe Mad Abbot’s Lair by Mark Murphy.

Added some chtonic details about the portals, decided that the portals happened when green-lightning zombies were killed and we were off to the races.

The players, John and Aaron, had both played in different sessions of this campaign but they and their characters had never met. Aaron’s character, Glim, had gone on the adventure where they explored a portal that John’s character, Roscoe, had shut and left alone when an otherworldly dooksalf fired its bow at him. I like the way the campaign world is slowly building and the characters could discuss their adventures with some context.

The players solved problems creatively, using tables and alchemical flasks to destroy the green-energy-overwhelmed-abbot. They out-thought the the rival Cathedral District’s knightly constabulary who were waiting to kill and rob them outside the catacombs. Good stuff.

Cog Icon in a circle in a similar palette as the Into the Odd cover.

I loved the very human reaction Glim had when he saw the results his bomb had on green-energy-possessed priests and acolytes. And the collection, “NOPE,” when they looked at one last cave and found giant spiders as they backed out and left. “Too bad there were not other areas to explore,” Glim said as they backed away.

Cog Icon in a circle in a similar palette as the Into the Odd cover.

When a treasure was described as a magical treasure, I rolled on the tables below and got Blood and Hibernation. I decided the magical staff had a needle in it and when it took blood from its wielder (1d4 HP damage) it didn’t kill or knock those it hit unconscious but knocked them into a months-long hibernation.

Cog Icon in a circle in a similar palette as the Into the Odd cover.

I came up with a story about who St. Mugrunden was, a saint who would find young women about to be burned and she’d offer herself up in their stead. After being burned to death she’d show up at a witch hunter somewhere else and do it again. I like this story and will have to use it again. I also wanted to make sure the players didn’t decide this green otherworldly energy wasn’t somehow about this saint and so I used the advanced technique of saying to my players, “This backstory is just a red herring and has nothing to do with the rest of the adventure.”

The random table offered a cool bit at the end where they found a penny Roscoe had thrown through a portal near the entrance they had first come through. Nice creepy moment, totally randomly rolled. The players missed a few rooms and that was just fine. It was a fine delve and a fun dungeon.

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Dragonslayers: Seeds of the Black Glass Valley Rebellion

Dragonslayers: Seeds of the Black Glass Valley Rebellion

There will be times when the struggle seems impossible. I know this already. Alone, unsure, dwarfed by the scale of the enemy. Remember this. Freedom is a pure idea. It occurs spontaneously and without instruction. Random acts of insurrection are occurring constantly throughout the galaxy. There are whole armies, battalions that have no idea that they’ve already enlisted in the cause. Remember that the frontier of the Rebellion is everywhere. And even the smallest act of insurrection pushes our lines forward. And then remember this. The Imperial need for control is so desperate because it is so unnatural. Tyranny requires constant effort. It breaks, it leaks. Authority is brittle. Oppression is the mask of fear. And know this, the day will come when all these skirmishes and battles, these moments of defiance will have flooded the banks of the Empire’s authority and then there will be one too many. One single thing will break the siege. Remember this. Try.

Andor, Nemik’s Manifesto

Aedler and Drifter faced down the Dragon in what was a nameless valley. The beast shrugged Aedler off its back, nearly killing the rebel in the fall. Then Drifter entered into the sideways reality of the Dragon Dreams and taunted the scaled tyrant. Willpower save = success.

“Wait there,” the Dragon said.

“I ain’t going anywhere,” Drifter said.

The Dragon was gearing up to breath fire into the small grove of trees where Aedler and Drifter and the fallen Gryphon-rider were. Drifter took a belt that he had his fallen comrade, Draven, and made a makeshift atlatl to hurl Wyvern’s Tail, his named spear. Aedler looked over Manticore’s Staff and figured out its triggering mechanism, with which he could fire the manticore’s spike from at its tip. the gryphon-rider (had we named him?) got his crossbow ready.

Chest, eyes and mouth glowing with the coming dragonfire, the Dragon descended on the grove in the valley and breathed. Aedler and Drifter loosed. Dice were rolled.

The last hope of this rebellion was quashed, killed in dragonfire. The Dragon’s scales kept the worst of the damage from drawing blood but the rebels perished as the beast landed and rampaged, making sure that nothing could grow in that valley. The gryphon-riders who were going to arrive too late would inter would they could find of the bodies.

In the decades to come, this valley would become famous, known as Black Glass Valley. This is where future rebellions would be born. This is where people would gather to bring about the downfall of the Dragon’s fell rule, inspired by Draven, Aedler and Drifter.

Maybe they will succeed. We can’t know that but we know that they will damn well try.

This campaign is dedicated to the memory of Jim Bryant, a good friend and great gamer who told a dragon to go fuck itself and told a 13 year old kid who stuttered that he should try his hand at running role-playing games, an endeavor that changed his life forever.

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Reddit GM Advice: Gothic Factions, Where to Start, & Problems not Solutions

Reddit GM Advice: Gothic Factions, Where to Start, & Problems not Solutions

Reddit Icon in front of my lovely rainbow dice from Dice Envy.

I made a list of 3 GM advice subreddits called RefAdvice.

Emiel Boven's Fun Skulls Subject Divider

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
https://www.patreon.com/emielboven/posts

Constructs that are gaining sapience and those who profit from their not being people.

Political party who want vampirism to be regulated and taxed by the state.

Ancient order of wizards who worship a sleeping god in the river.

Emiel Boven's Fun Skulls Subject Divider

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
https://www.patreon.com/emielboven/posts

Folks are going to suggest you grab a WotC hardcover adventure rather than making your own campaign. I’ ve been DMing for more than 30 years and I find those hardcovers difficult to navigate.

I’d start with a one-page dungeon, run it, maybe make up a town and build out from there. Here’s a thread of people’s favorite one page dungeons:

I hope these links help.

Have you heard of the saying, “Don’t prep plots, prep situations.”

Might help. Here are a few links:

Here’s a series of links where I take something and mine the situation from it called Situation Mining:

I made a brainstorming document called Context, Cool Shit and Consequences. Hope it helps your process.

Hope those links are helpful. Good luck!

Emiel Boven's Fun Skulls Subject Divider

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
https://www.patreon.com/emielboven/posts

There might be a way to save the daughter and the village but it isn’t up to you to come up with it. The players have to come up with it.

As a DM, I like to present problems and not come up with solutions at all. Not only does it save me time but it means that when the players think outside the box and surprise me with their amazing imaginations, I am not holding on to my own answers but taking delight in their answers.

Hope that helps. Good luck!

Emiel Boven's Fun Skulls Subject Divider

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
https://www.patreon.com/emielboven/posts

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Kill Acererak 4: Dragonslayers & Lich-destroyers

Kill Acererak 4: Dragonslayers & Lich-destroyers

In which the Sigil 6 slay a Black Dragon and dissolve Acererak’s Soul Jar in the dragon’s acidic drool.

PIC: The Free City of Greyhawk's heraldry surrounded by vines.

TEXT: The Sigil 6 are in a nameless bog just east of the Free City of Greyhawk. They have made this journey to... KILL ACERERAK.

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Shepherd what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

When the Sigil 6 gathered in Sigil to share a magical meal created by Shepherd, their Cleric, they had no way of knowing that this last merry meal would offer a magical effect, making them immune to fear effects, would make what could have been a difficult battle much easier.

They had no reason to know that Acererak had arranged to have Āeksio hen lōz Tegun (the King of the Swamp in Old Valyrian) lair in the archlich’s tomb so that any who came here to attempt to destroy its Soul Jar would have to contend with a dragon and its kobolds.

Aeksio hen lōz Tegun lasted 1.5 rounds. The Sigil 6 was on point. Crits were rolled, good decisions were made and the dragon’s kobold guards did not make it in time. Bugwump stuck the final blow, though he was reticent to take on any fancy titles like dragonslayer or the King of the Swamp.

Orune, their wizard friend from the Free City of Greyhawk, died in the battle. Shepherd raised dead, using a diamond from the dragon’s hoard. I asked Shepherd’s player to describe the hour-long ritual and he did so, offering vivid details. He described the diamond, placed on the wizard’s brow disappearing.

I said, “You can see a pale, ashen angel of death with black bone wings taking the diamond and putting it in a satchel, filled with such diamonds. From the satchel on its other hip, it took out Orune’s soul and put it back in his body. ‘We have watched you and your friends face down death time and time again. Know that from here on out your enemies will grow far more dangerous…’

“In-game, that totally happens. Out of game, I’m going to make an effort to make the combat encounters a bit more difficult. I’m not going to be a jerk about it but I’m going to try to raise up the challenge level a touch.”

I’ve asked some strategic minded friends to join a small FB group to help me brainstorm about these kinds of fighty encounters. I’m not frustrated the the players won. I wonder if I could have made some of these fight encounters a more fun challenge.

How are we counting up the dragon hoard? Like this:

Text:
	The coins you swept off the blood-stained floor coated with acid, pryed from the scales of the dragon's corpse and dragged out of the swamp are not only coins. They are a catalogue of civilizations destroyed by the dragon’s greed. Spending this kind of ancient coinage attracts attention. Your dreams have been strange since acquiring it, as if the dragon's arcane blood has seeped into the gold.
	When you spend money from the the Dragon's Hoard, tell the DM what you want to buy and in what marketplace you are trying to purchase this item. The DM will set a DC if it is possible to find such a thing in the marketplace. If not, the DM will let you know who the merchants' gossip networks say might have such an item or a map to a tomb where such an item could be found. If the item is common, the DM might just ask you to check off a gold coin or two (maybe three if it is really opulent) without a roll.
	When you roll, mark a gold piece off of the fortune below. You may add +1 for every gold piece you mark off of the fortune.
	If you succeed, you purchase the item without a problem.
	If you fail the roll the player may choose to take on the Dragon Greed:
•	Spending from a dragon's hoard puts one in touch with terrible greed. The character becomes obsessed with whatever they purchase.
Or the DM will choose one more more:
•	you draw attention from a dangerous faction
•	purchase an item/service that has a complication attached to it
•	the merchant demands an exchange of services, wanting the skills that adventurers are known to possess.
	1 Gold Coin = 1 month room & board in most cities for 6 adventurers.
	
Dragon Rampant and 10 rows of 4 gold coins to check off.

Next Game: The Sigil 6 will party, from the Free City of Greyhawk to Sigil and deal with some of the fallout of their amazing actions.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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Lich Collection
https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/the-lich-collection
Second Session of Mythic Bastionland

Second Session of Mythic Bastionland

Our first session was back in August but after digging through our schedules, we found time to play again. The more structure in the game (maps, myths, etc.) the easier it is to jump back into a game after a long layoff.

Mythic Bastionland title card
Protect the Weak
Seek out Myths
Honor the seers

Pic of a trio of hexes with pictures of terrain in them.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/18qOLDK6GifFGljetTI0NLho8RIFmVtnl/view

Folks are going to be studying the techniques Mythic Bastionland has for creating a hexcrawl for a long time. The way we pepper the landscape with Myths and then the Omens offered in each Myths one-page entry is incredible. Already the Myths are starting to cross pollinate and become a tangled web of arcane stuff occurring all over the map.

Wild Travel Tabel
1 Encounter next Omen from Random Myth in this Realm.
2 Encounter the next Omen from the Nearest Myth.
4-6 All Clear.

The trio of knights started out looking into a stone archway to another world and ended up making a deal with an otherworldly creature and heading to find a Seer frozen in Ironwood to get answers on how to pay off this creature and end the debt one of the characters took on.

On their way to the Seer’s village, after doing battle with a chymerical pack forest guardian we rolled the dice on the Travel rules and an Omen from another Myth popped up. The Omen from this Myth was a trio of knights guarding a Seer.

The tools the game offers (Myths and Omens, the different types of knights and the way it all intersects with the rules) are evocative and are inspiring interesting choices.

Three hexes with terrain in them.

Terrain is from drone shots of a bog, a forest and a castle.

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Reddit GM Advice: Good or Bad Tears, Escaping Hell & Ask and Tell

Reddit GM Advice: Good or Bad Tears, Escaping Hell & Ask and Tell

Reddit Icon in front of my lovely rainbow dice from Dice Envy.

I made a list of 3 GM advice subreddits called RefAdvice.

https://www.patreon.com/emielboven/posts
DM tips? from DnD

Talk to your friend. Find out if they are okay.

Find out if it was 1) a good cry, like after a good movie or 2) a bad cry, like after reliving trauma.

Great! What was moving about the game? Talk it over.

Not great! Let’s make sure the game doesn’t force anyone to relive trauma. Look at some safety tools to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Good luck with the conversation.

https://www.patreon.com/emielboven/posts

Rather than think of ways to escape Hell, I’d think about the legends of the only 3 people to have escaped Hell.

Some say one of the legends is a lie, a trap to create hope that will only be destroyed when the attempt fails.

https://www.patreon.com/emielboven/posts

Ask the players why their characters are at the outdoor market when it was attacked in what historians would say was the first attack of the coming Dragon War.

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What is the Dragon up to? a mini-Hex Flower

What is the Dragon up to? a mini-Hex Flower

Playing a bit with this Hex Flower idea. Here’s a thing in case you need to keep track of what a dragon is up to and want the dice to add a bit of chaos spice. Maybe add +1 to the die rolls as the years and decades roll on if you want to get complicated.

Here’s a blank pdf and a blank png in case you’d like to make your own. If you find use for any of it, I’d love to hear how it shakes out at your table.

Have I overthought this a bit and possibly made it needlessly complicated? Maybe. To be honest, the designs I’m futzing with that use full-sized Hex Flowers are less complex with where the results lead from one hex to another. I am trying to figure out how to best present them. A video? A blog post with text and let them stand on their own? A blog post with a video? We’ll see.

Below is my response from Mastodon when I was asked how to use this thing:

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Reply Show N.P.C. — Daydreaming about Dragons

Reply Show N.P.C. — Daydreaming about Dragons

https://anchor.fm/s/7a35e38/podcast/rss Summary LINKS The Indie RPG Newsletter | https://ttrpg.substack.com/ Hex Flower Faction Fun | https://discourse.rpgcauldron.com/t/hex-flower-faction-fun/1017 I was wrong, this wasn’t a blog post but a forum post on the Cauldron. Episode 92 Conversation on Mastodon | https://mastodon.social/@Judd/109332747153394519 NPC Conversation on Mastodon | https://mastodon.gamedev.place/@kastark/109330573412587660 If you’d like to pay-to-play with me as the GM, here’s my […]

Reply Show N.P.C. — Daydreaming about Dragons