Reddit GM Advice: Daydreaming, Failing Forward and Failure, & Module as Menu

Reddit GM Advice: Daydreaming, Failing Forward and Failure, & Module as Menu

TEXT: REDDIT GM ADVICE THREAD

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Campaign Ideas: Hunting the Teratic Tome’s 10 Venerable Dragons

Campaign Ideas: Hunting the Teratic Tome’s 10 Venerable Dragons

The Pitch: You have a pile of scrolls, copied from the Teratic Tome by an unknown monk, with the rare pages that detail the powers, habits, and preferred habitats of the evil Venerable Dragons. Information in hand, you will hunt these monsters and the vile cults that serve them across the worlds.

I’d photocopy pages 25 to 42 of the Teratic Tome, hand it to the players and ask them to start making a plan.

The Venerable Dragons are ten in number. Ancient and vitriolic, they regard themselves as a weary decadarchy who bear the burden of governing the lesser beings. These ten dragons cannot be subdued, nor will they show mercy to their opponents. Found in long-forgotten places, sleeping under thick layers of dust or mud, these horrid creatures cause nothing but misery when awakened.

Teratic Tome by Rafael Chandler

What I’d say to the table: Make characters who are driven to hunt these ten dragons to the ends of the known worlds and beyond. There is no right way to do this. This is going to be a campaign on hard mode, no secret betrayers, please. As long as the scrolls of the Teratic tome are safeguarded a TPK will mean we just make the new characters that end up with the scrolls.

Some questions to inspire ideas:

Why do you hunt these dragons?

Did one of them take something from you or destroy someone or something you hold dear?

Are you a hunter who wants to pursue the ultimate prize?

Is there something of great power that you could make from their bones or flesh?

I’d like the group to have a way to travel. Maybe that is the main choice as we begin the game, is how do you chase these draconic monsters?

Your crew has…

…a Well of Worlds, beneath a tower on the tallest mountain. The world below was decimated when these ten dragons decided its end was nigh. Some say the monk who copied the scrolls you hold dear was born here and this world’s apocalypse was the price it paid.

…a skyship, originally made to hunt Forest Whales that fly above the Ocean Forest’s treetops, it was refitted to traverse the portals that lead from world to world (Inspired by the Serpent Gates books 1 and 2 by A.K. Larkwood).

…a Worlds Map, made by the Nomad Seers who walked across all of creation, drawing the most beautiful and detailed map of the worlds and the spheres’ movements across time (inspired by the Wanderers of Ashann from A Naturalist’s Guide to Talislanta).

What game could we run this in?

Old School Essentials, Cairn, Errant, Troika, Ironsworn, Spell and Blade (in playtest), the Whitehack, World of Dungeons and Worlds Without Number all come to mind as possibilities.

Might have to write up a follow-up blog post with a quick Into the Odd hack (as I’ve been doing lately).

Here’s how I would run this as straight-up Into the Odd. In the marginalia of the scrolls the monk writes a screed about how the Bastion’s leaders and elders refused to listen to his warnings, that the Underground isn’t ruins from a previous city but a complicated machine meant to hide Bastion and this world from the Venerable Dragon’s sight. But it is now broken beyond repair and the dragons will surely attack when they next wake. Decades ago the monk headed out into the Deep Country, hoping they might be lucky and perish before the attack occurs. “My hope is that these scrolls end up in the hands of someone with more bravery than I can muster.” I’d stat up each of the 10 dragons as a 16 HP Dragon.

If you use the idea I’d LOVE to hear about how it goes.

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Reddit GM Advice: Balanced Encounters, Kraken vs. Green Dragon, & DMing Style

Reddit GM Advice: Balanced Encounters, Kraken vs. Green Dragon, & DMing Style

TEXT: REDDIT GM ADVICE THREAD

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Campaign Ideas: The Diamond Throne

Campaign Ideas: The Diamond Throne

The Pitch: Today is your Leaveseeking Ceremony, where you will venture into the outside world for as long as you need and decide if there is something out there that rhymes with your truename. Or did your ancestors have the right of it, that the wonder in the world is eclipsed by its cruelty, better to find safety with your own people in this isolated mountain village.

You aren’t born evil because you were born of a certain race. You don’t, as a member of another race, have some manifest destiny to conquer and rule. And while there are certainly heroes and villains worthy of those titles, they are heroes or villains because of the choices they make.

The Diamond Throne by Monte Cook

I remember liking the Arcana Evolved hardcover and its weird fantasy Diamond Throne setting. When we started discussing it in an indie RPG slack I frequent, I realized I had put the books from the shelves to my desk, thinking that I might use them for a Tuesday Campaign Ideas post. I’ve got one other Campaign Ideas post about done and another outlined. I’m hoping to start a tradition. Anyway, back to Arcana Evolved…

The classes are just so cool: Akashic, Champion, Greenbond, Mage Blade, Magister, Oathsworn, Runethane, Totem Warrior (rename!), Unfettered, Warmain and Witch.

No priests, you see. Where were the gods when the Dramojh’s cruelty was raging?

Part of my is tempted to just grab the magic book and bestiary and play it in its original 3.5 ruleset. But with those rules, isn’t it silly to go with the human village rummspringa idea above? Isn’t part of the fun of 3.5 to choose race and class (ugh, RACE)?

Hence the human-centered starting point above, starting with a ceremony, a cornerstone of the setting. Delve into the weird with human eyes at first. As the characters enter into ceremonies with other folk and heritages across the setting, those folk become potential character types. Maybe you set your human villager aside while they train and pick up a verrick or litorian or giant. Perhaps you start playing one of these options because your human goes back to the village to settle down, having had enough of this world.

I like this set-up because the characters will learn about the setting with the players, no homework necessary. Of course I’m thinking about hacking at Into the Odd. Levels 1-3 and then you choose your class, gaining 4 HP per level, topping off at 12 HP, maximum for a person – dragons are 16 HP, of course. The training for the classes is vague in my mind, as is the magic system, but I bet we could do a Whitehack-like magic thing for the fluid and flexible magic from the later Grimoire supplements.

The first part of the Leaveseeking Ceremony is being able to walk through the village, going wherever you want and asking the elders about their Leaveseeking. What were their ambitions? What were their regrets? We’d flesh out the characters’ families and the world in one go, right at the first session and give the players enough information to make a decision about where they wanted to go.

Do you want to go up the mountain and see the Dramojh Fortress with your own eyes? Do you want to see the cruelty your ancestors survived that led them to founding this village and this ceremony?

Or do you want to venture out and find that lost cousin who graduated as a Magister and now serves a Giant Steward in the capital city? Your grandma has that sword above the fireplace and no one will talk about it but today is your Leaveseeking; she’ll talk about it today and tell you everything about her time leading an element of the Nightwalkers.

Or is it something farther and stranger? Is it the Floating Forest or the Harrowdeep or the God-King of the verrick that calls to you?

There is a big, strange world out there with lots of history and secrets. Let’s go.

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Reddit GM Advice: Sun-Killers, Skillshare with Strahd, & the B-Game

Reddit GM Advice: Sun-Killers, Skillshare with Strahd, & the B-Game

TEXT: REDDIT GM ADVICE THREAD

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

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Reddit GM Advice: Pattern of Consequences, Downtime Help, & an Outburst

Reddit GM Advice: Pattern of Consequences, Downtime Help, & an Outburst

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TEXT: REDDIT GM ADVICE THREAD

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

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Reddit GM Advice: Wizard, Librarians & Pirates, and a Devil’s Fire

Reddit GM Advice: Wizard, Librarians & Pirates, and a Devil’s Fire

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Reddit GM Advice: Lore, Start Small, & Endings

Reddit GM Advice: Lore, Start Small, & Endings

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Reddit GM Advice: STORY, Zany, & Players Taking Initiative

Reddit GM Advice: STORY, Zany, & Players Taking Initiative

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Reddit GM Advice: Travel Time, Githyanki! and Old Valyrian

Reddit GM Advice: Travel Time, Githyanki! and Old Valyrian

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Sometimes travel is going to go quickly at the table and that is fine. Maybe have some details about the places they pass as they pass them. Little things they might notice about the different people or how the horizon changes.

Questions can be a great way to note the time by fleshing out something about the character.

What do the others notice about you during the journey?

What habit of your character might the others find annoying or endearing?

What do you take the time to learn during the journey?

Is there something you practice at every day? Who in the party do you ask to join you?

Out of game time doesn’t have to equal in-game time. It is the details and the little things that make it interesting.

Good luck!

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I’d make steps each side wants, little Astral/magic equivalents of the bridge in Saving Private Ryan that each side is going to want to claim in order to set up a larger victory.

I’d throw the players in the deep end right away, have the war well underway but no real idea of what is really going on.

I have a PDF on the DM’s Guild that is about this kind of thing called Silver Swords of the Lich Queen. If you think it’ll be helpful, drop me a private message and I’ll send you a free copy if you think it’ll help.

Good luck!

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In Old Valyrian:

ñuha morghon iksis aōha vējes

My death is your doom.

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