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I’m giving paid GMing a try on the Start Playing site.
Click here if you’d like to see what games I have coming up or if you’d like to register for a paid game. Right now I only have a session of Trophy Gold on the books but will throw more out there as we go.
I am dipping my toe into these strange new waters.
Want to get excited about a game on a Monday morning?
Usually, when I’m hearing about a fictional setting, be it a tabletop game, video-game, novel or talkie, when proper nouns and titles come up my eyes kind of glaze over. Not so with Rae’s stuff.
From a picklist in The Twilight Throne and the House of Ruin:
Who are the heralds of the apocalypse?
Cursed Archivists, wielding corrupted wisdom
The Kraken’s Beloved, chaos mages fueled by despair
Humans, newly awakened to stolen powers
Dragons sleeping in souls touched by tragedy, dreaming new forms
I don’t know what ANY of that means. I only know I want to get together with my friends and figure it out. Watch (or listen in the background as you do blog work, as I did) as amazing gamers agonize over too many cool options but have to choose one:
Everyone else in that video has exciting links brewing too.
Sean is excited about Improv for Gamers 2nd Edition. Still in trial over on Gamefound, a new crowdfunding direction for Evil Hat.
Connie‘s got a Godkiller, a 2 player game about killing a god that has its own twitter account. New details should be dropping on that today, I believe.
What are you excited about?
Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons
Most of the time I’d rather get my players into the mix with information at hand so they can make interesting, informed and meaningful decisions. There will still be room for surprises but in my experience, when I find myself actively hiding something from the players it is often a mistake.
Uncovering secret lore or figuring out a complicated situation can be fun. I’m just saying, keep careful track of how hard you are working to keep secrets or keep information from the players. Character decisions are far more interesting when they have more information.
Even when players don’t know things, I don’t think of it as hiding it from them or being subtle. I think of it as controlling pacing by unspooling the hidden at the pace of their discovery, especially if they are after the information and are taking smart angles to find it.
Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons
In which the Sigil Six ends of the Curse of Strahd slaying the legendary vampire through sorcery, steel and cunning.
Helewynn ran outside the tower, where the group had entered and saw Strahd’s Nightmare Steed, still unable to see him. She jumped on a pterodactyl and titled with him once, doing brutal damage to him with the Sunsword but Strahd did brutal damage with his hands and a Blight spell. When the group arrived, the Nightmare took Strahd into the ethereal.
The plan was to lure Strahd into the room where he had a teleportation brazier and teleport everyone, including Strahd, to a killing field they had set up in the Abbey of St. Markovia’s courtyard.
The group ran down the tower’s steps into the crypts and started looting his ancestor’s tombs (finding a cloak and a sword). Rahadin found Bugwump alone and did some brutal damage to him, dropping him to 0 hit points right in front of Trundle, who was standing by the secret door from the crypts to the hallway that led to the teleportation room.
The group dropped Rahadin down to 1 hit point, nearly killing Strahd’s Red Right Hand but she misty-stepped and got away.
There was a cool moment where Bugwump went down and Kuru used Mage Hand to get a healing potion to his comrade but the way A described it was really nifty. He described running towards them, tossing the potion to his Mage Hand and the magical hand zipping to pour a potion down his friend’s throat. He made a simple casting of a spell feel like an action movie. It was cool.
Strahd arrived, invisible, and asked the group to fall to their knees and beg for mercy; they did not and began to run for the secret door that led to the hallway that led to the teleportation room. Strahd threw 2 fireballs that really decimated the group. Failed Soldier and Jusko fell but were brought up to single digit hit points.
The group was huddled in the teleportation room and Strahd entered, walking through the door. The group was ragged. He asked them to make their way through the mists to the Shadowfell and tell Sigil of his mercy. Hellewynn grabbed him and pulled him into the teleportation area but not before he gutted her with his hands.
The group was on the precipice. The killing field they had prepared and it gave them advantage on that first round. They did a brutal amount of damage to Strahd and Strahd, in turn, dropped Jusko and nearly dropped Bugwump. Failed Soldier used a cool spell to take negative damage and brought Helewynn up to 40-something hit points.
Sun Sword in hand, Helewynn killed Strahd and in the sunlight of this magic blade, he could not turn to mist. The clouds party and for the first time the Sigil Six could see the blue sky.
Jusko, once he was healed, picked up Strahd’s signet ring, knowing that it would have great meaning to his family, proof that he had killed the vampire who had feated on his kin. He offered it to Helewynn, who pushed his hand away, wanting him to have it.
Next session the Sigil Six is planning to head into the Shadowfell, through the mist, and make their way to Gloomwrought. Or as Trundle said, “Fuck the Lady of Pain. Let’s take our sweet-ass time getting back to Sigil.”
Session V – I fucked up numbering; there is no Episode V.
The hardest thing to do is create into a void. When you are making something, give yourself some structure, even if you throw it away later or hate it. That is fine, it gives you something to chafe against and that will help you create.
Where did this come from?
Reddit Post: I’ve just started the daunting task of creating my first world from scratch, and it started pretty simple: A town here, a city there, maybe some mountains near it. I thought I was doing a pretty bang-up job. But then I started seeing other people’s worlds and getting overwhelmed by the amount of thought they put into the logistics of their setting. I remember seeing Matthew Mercer create a believable mining town in 3 minutes, he started with a vague outline of a mining town and then added farms, and then unions, and then mining guilds, and then adventuring guilds, and so on and so forth. It was so impressive and horrifying, how does one think about these things? Does everyone think about their settings like this? Am I just stupid and unfit to be making worlds and just stick to prewritten stuff? So does anyone know a “Worldbuilding for Dummies” book?
You are not an idiot. Folks have been doing this for a long time and have internalized structure.
When you have a new place, try this:
Think of 3 things – a place, a faction and a secret.
Eventually, you’ll want 9 but to start fast, but for fast-and-loose at the table – just jot down 3. Eventually, when you’ve had a moment to think or time to prep – you’ll have 3 of each:
3 Interest Places.
9 things. More will grow out of that. If you can’t think of 3, that is fine. Just move on. Jot the things down and get going.
The above video came out and reminded me of Austin Walker’s amazing article about this.
And in the analog game space, one of the major elements of the tabletop, “story game” revolution has been an increase in NPC characterization. One of the core rules in D. Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World is to “Name everyone. Make everyone Human.” No more sending your party of adventures to fight “Thug #1” or “That weird mutant.” A Dungeon World GM needs to think of these characters as real people, with real motivations.
Something to think about for tabletop games when it comes to crafting NPC’s with often surprising hidden depths and seeing the ways random results can bump into player actions creating something greater than the sum of its parts.
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Feels like I’m hip deep in things to read and watch about gaming today:
3 Twitter Threads by Avery, here are the first tweets but check out the threads:
Asking good questions is such a big part of being a good librarian that it was a shock when Apocalypse World first made me really think about questions as a tool at the table. Of course gamers asked each other questions before Apocalypse World; I’m not saying the Bakers invented questions or the question mark. But naming the tools in one’s toolbox makes it easier to reach for said tool and makes it easier to discuss how to use them well.
The questions here go back and forth between questions for high stats and questions for low stats. They can easily be changed a bit for the middle of the road results.
Below are the pretty versions with world bubbles and character sheets but below that is just the text.
Were you born strong or did you work hard to become strong?
What is/was the worst part about not being the strongest?
What feat of strength have you always wanted to accomplish?
How did you survive without physical strength?
When you locked up with the strongest person you’ve ever wrestled, what happened that made you realize they were stronger than you?
When did you realize you were faster/more graceful than everyone around you?
What is your worst nightmare about being clumsy?
What feat of grace have you always wanted to accomplish?
What did you almost drop?
Which monster was the children’s game you were so great at named after?
What did being hale and healthy allow you to accomplish?
What was your haven during your sickest days?
What did you survive because you are so durable and healthy?
When were you most sick and who took care of you?
What did you attribute your great health to? Ancestors? Deities? The crystal clear water in the streams where you grew up?
When did you first realize you were the smartest person you knew?
How did you deal with the written word being so difficult for you?
What was the first problem you solved with your intellect?
How do you react to being called dumb?
What was the first problem you could not think your way out of?
What did you realize about the adults around you at a young age because of your incredible perception?
What problem in your community did you not see because of your lack of wisdom?
When did you first give wise advice to a friend and how did their problem find resolution?
What personal shortcoming did you fail to see until it was too late and damaged your life?
Which prayer has the most personal meaning for you?
Who were some of the first people you remember charming?
How do you recover from bad first impressions?
When was the first time you realized the power you wielded in front of a large audience?
Who did your lack of charm and social grace push away that you really regret?
What was the best performance of your life so far?