Friday, November 26, 2010

Added security for posting

Added two levels of security - must have an account and must type in the security letters to post. Hopefully, that will cut down on the number of bots showing up around here.

Not that I've posted in forever.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Post GC link dump

I've been meaning to do this for a few days, now. Links of interest, from GenCon.

I found a copy of of Hammer's Slammers for use with the Traveller rpg. One of my favourite short story settings in rpg format, using rules I understand? FTW!

I missed this release last year. Malifaux is a minis game set in an alternate Earth, involving gothic, steampunk, and Victorian era rife with magic and wyrdness. I grabbed the basic book and Rising Powers. I'm just starting to read the core book. I picked these up, because they looked like they could provide interesting setting ideas for rpg games. The website needs some work.

Jason Blair was hanging out this year at GenCon. He's responsible for such greats as the Villainy card game, Wyrd is Bond rpg, and oh year, Little Fears (rpg). Well, he recently re-released Little Fears in a "Nightmare Edition." I haven't picked through it, yet. However, it promises to entertain.

George over at Eden Studios, Inc. announced that he had secured the Hack/Slash comic brand license for a card game and role-playing game. The setting is one of supernatural serial-killers. I think the setting lines up very well for a card and role-playing game. It's much more adult than say, Buffy.

The card game was in development for 8 months before the announcement was made. I think they've done a good job developing it thus far. There's more work to be done on it, but there's no reason it won't hit the Nov-Dec release date.

I haven't read the comic line, but I'm thinking of picking up a few graphic novels to see what it's like. Oh, and it's been optioned to be made into a movie that may begin shooting next summer.

Do you need some awesome furniture for your games? Check out Geek Chic!

Monica's work of fiction is still available via the interwebs. You can find Queen of Crows here.

I found several cool shirts at SighCo, including the Airship Premium Absinthe work shirt.

Got Steam? and Renaissance Fashions were two retailers on site with some pretty cool threads and gear for Victorian and Steampunk adventurers!

Mercs is a newer minis game with some pretty cool figs. What really stood out to me, though, was the concept art. They have some on their website, but it doesn't do justice to the big blow-ups they had at the con.

Outbreak: Undead claims to be the best rpg out there. They also claim that Eden Studios, Inc. went out of business and that All Flesh Must Be Eaten is out of print.

Huh. Really? You mean this product right here that I sold all weekend at the GenCon booth? ~Derek

Anyways. For $45 you get a black and white, hardcover book that claims to be 450 pages. I think that's single sided pages. The type font is about 20 and it's double spaced. The design is set up to look like a survivor's notebook, complete with a 12 year old's pencil sketches. This is a $18 game that belongs in a soft cover binding.

I really wanted it to push the bar and make us work harder at creating better product. That didn't happen. What did happen is that several of our fans and at least two of our authors let them know that Eden Studios, Inc. is still in business.

One more link. This one came up in sidebar conversations at the con. Atmoic Robo and the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne is a cool idea for a comic. They go completely tongue-in-cheek and it comes across as being funny, then with action. This would be opposed to the Big Red Gun, in that BRPD strikes me as action, with funny.

I picked up the first graphic novel. I found it a fun read with lots of good quips. I'm not sure I'm satisfied with the amount of material to cover price equation, but I am looking to pick up a couple of the follow up graphic novels.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Confusing My Players

I've incorporated two ideas into my game that confused my players a little bit. Both are stolen ideas from excellent GMs - Lowell and Kip. One idea my players know is in play (Kip's), the other (Lowell's), not so much.

Quick snapshot of my game - Firefly/Serenity 'verse five years later, using Cinematic Unisystem rules with Andrew Peregrine's Spacefarers and Prairie Folk ideas from ESP vol. 1. The cast is the crew and a passenger aboard a trading vessel with the captain being an NPC. So, these people spend a lot of time together.

During character creation, I handed each of the players two note cards. They were instructed to fill them out during the character creation process. On one card, they had to write something only their best friend would know. On the second card, they had to write down something that no one else would know. They turned these in to me, I jotted down notes about each one, and gave them back to their owners. I let them sit on these cards for two hours before telling what we would be doing with them.

Right before game play, I told everyone to take their "friend" card and pass it to the person to their right. This illicited groans from some of them. However, the result was that they immediately began interacting with each other, even if it was out of character.

The other card, they keep. I'll be using those for future plot lines. Many of their secrets will tie-in very well together.

The other idea may not originally be Lowell's, but he's the first GM I've seen use it in practice ~

Never say no, if you can help it, to the players.

If the players need or want something in game, a device, a weapon, a plot move, whatever, and it doesn't hurt anything, I let them have it. Sure, it comes with the usual caveat of, "If you get this really big gun, the bad guys will have access to the same thing." However, unless it's a rare item or moves the plot in a direction that hurts other players or future plot points, I let them have it.

This confused the youngest player at the table when he wanted a new gun that would do more damage. He wasn't asking for anything crazy (like a .45 automag), he just wanted to upgrade from a 9mm to a .45. They were in a city where such a thing would be easy to get. There is nothing that will be hurt in-game by him feeling more protected (his character took a round from an M-16 equivelent). The party had also just been paid very well, meaning no shortage of funds.

He kept driving at the fact that he had the money to pay for it and was I sure such a thing was available. He was very confused by the part where I didn't care if he accounted for the money or not. He wasn't as confused by the availability of the weaspons. After all, we're talking the Old (sci-fi) West. Why wouldn't a .45 handgun be available?

Another player was more interested in a sonic weapon. She asked near the end of the game. I told her I didn't have stats, but that I would get her stats before our next game. (Note to self: create stats, use Endurance Damage.) I also told her it would be no problem for her to get such a weapon, utilizing her underground contacts. I think it surprised her how quickly I said, "Yes." Settings-wise, the Alliance uses sonic weapons in the Core. They wouldn't want bullets flying around and hurting any of those pretty citizens.

I count all of the above situations as wins. The players are getting more out of the game, whether they realize it or not, and my life isn't any more difficult as a GM.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Levitz Paradigm, Three Act structure, and the RPG Scenario

I'm going to try and use the Levitz Paradigm, as well as, proper three act structures with my Saturday night game. It's more official structure than I've ever put around my games. Sure, I've scripted them before, but not like this. I've done crazy level of scripting and character development. I've run games that were mini-scenarios where I had a specific agenda for each episode. However, this feels like a new level.

Have any GM friends had any luck with either of these? It's hard to imagine that I've run successful games (and highly successfull convention games) not utilizing these tools. I know Lowell has his 3 Things layout and that Steve uses a variant. What about the rest of you?

I'm hoping it will make it easier to rope in the players who want action to come to them, instead of creating it themselves. By easier, I mean force my hand to actively include them.

I have created an Excel file that outlines the paradigm. I like the idea of having an electronic file for this that I can reflect back on during the writing process, instead of a hand-scrawling it out on a peice of note paper.

My episode notes are done in Microsoft Word. I have them broken down by Act, then scenes (usually just two major scenes per Act - should I breaking that structure in the future?). I bullet point everything here. The last page of each episode's notes includes a list of NPC names, quick function why they are there ("contact for job"), locations, and as the current game is sci-fi, list of ship names and type of ship fir that episode.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Archetypes versus Characters

Last night's post was forced and not great. To make up for it, I give you...

I've successfully run roleplaying game sessions since the early 1990s. Probably 1992. Before that, I ran them, they just weren't what I would call successful - or fun, if you will - for most of the interested parties.

In that time, I've come to see player characters (or PCs) in two different lights. The first is the archetype, which often becomes a stereotype. The beer swilling barbarian, the noble beyond belief knight, the thief that lurks in the corner, or the mercenary willing to sell out the party for a buck are all good examples. The second is what I can only call the "character," the real person, or in this case, ideas that make up that person.

There is no "stereotypical" character. Each one is unique. These characters take the longest to create, but receive the most love throughout the life of a game. The single mother, who works 3 jobs, 2 from home, and 1 ten miles from home, who by the way, also has to juggle those 2.5 children on her own with all of their sundry activities such as fencing lessons, trumpet lessons, homework, play dates, and then also school and chores and let's not forget about her deceased husband's family that want to stay heavily involved with the kids' lives - unless it means more than attending an occasional birthday or calling to offer help they won't follow up on, and she's trying to attract the eye of this new accountant at the day job who seems oblivious to her every wile, and then when can she fit in a ladies' night out and who would watch the children while she goes out and can they spend the night at the sitter's house or does the sitter need to use her house, in which case she needs to spend hours cleaning it up...

You know her, you love her, you admire her. However, I don't often see her in game play. She's real and she has real challenges to meet. Who wants that?

Judging from the most successful games I've run, most of you want the single mother versus the thief that lurks in the corner.

I use to run games at conventions. I've probably run close to 100 games at conventions. I don't anymore, but that's another tale for another day. Two of the most successful games I've run at conventions fit perfectly into the mold of this discussion.

"Dead Ops" by James Wilber is a military thriller for the All Flesh Must Be Eaten roleplaying game of survival horror by Eden Studios. The scenario is available via their Eden Studios Presents volume 2 book. The PCs are not. There simply wasn't room. (Full disclosure, I should know, I developed ESP. The PCs in "Dead Ops" are a handful of U.S. Army Rangers dropped into a South American jungle to save some of our scientists from a hostile situation. There isn't a lot of depth to the PCs, there really doesn't need to be much depth, in truth. However, as the PCs represent a squad unit, each has their own function: leader, heavy gunner, radio man, etc. The players quickly figure this out and they are good to go. You don't need a lot of background on these guys, but James delivers some to wet your taste buds. You do need to have a quick clue about military units. Have you seen a military movie? Saving Private Ryan? Aliens? Avatar? Okay, good.

"Dead Ops" is a slow build. It starts with, "Where is everyone?" It builds to, "What the heck is that?" Moves to "What the heck are they doing here and what happens if we shoot at them?" (Hint: Don't shoot at anyone carrying an rpg, in this case, rocket propelled grenade.) Builds up to, "Now, we've got 'em!" And climaxes with, "Ohshitohshitohshit!!!" Throughout all of that, there's very little that you need to know about the PCs other than their stats and their weapons' stats.

James and I have had great fun running this scenario. Groups have died in the first two hours with scarcely seeing a zombie. Other groups have made it to the end game scenario only to have the PC of the player who held the group together at the table take an AK-74 blast to the chest and die right in front of the other PCs. It was a moving moment, it was a bad player decision, it was a razor edge to just off the PC, but everyone at the table loved that it happened. It added a quick bit of realism to a game about zombies. And the killed the guy using the AK-74 several times over.

With grenades, even.

When I'm asked to run an AFMBE scenario, this is what I fall back on. I know it, I love it, and most of the players love it. Yet, not once is there a moral imperitive interjected into the situation. It's not built to have one.

I wrote "The Burning Wheel of Karma" with Derek Guder. Derek and I intended to design it for Eden Studio's CJ Carella's WitchCraft gameline. The story takes place seven years after the end of WWII. The party is a mixed group of individuals hunting the same bad guy. I say individuals, because the group really doesn't like each other.

You have the former Nazi SS witch-hunter, his wife, their child-prodigy psychic, an Englishman with a knack for guns, his former partner, turned undead revenant Scotsman, a witch that was the former assistant to the bad guy, and an Egyptian miracle worker who is only helping so that all of these people can get rid of the bad guy and leave her country.

Everyone has their reason for wanting the bad guy dead (or gone). During the war, he was British intelligence and operated out of Cairo. Eventually, the Englishman and Scotsman discovered he was up to no good. They cornered the assistant about it and she agreed to help them. (Secretly, she was hoping to redeem him, as she was madly in love with him.) The German witch-hunter is after him for two reasons. One, the bad guy kidnapped his wife. Two, the bad guy caused all sorts of problems for the German during the war. The wife wants the bad guy dead, because he used her sexually during a magical ritual (only available during the anti-climatic, face removal by shotgun, flashback scene). The kid's along because the parents are there. The Egyptian is there, because the bad guy hurt her people and she wants all of these foreigners gone.

Now, insert the fact that the former assistant is more of a mother to the kid than either parent, both of whom have demons they want to confront. The wife/mother is something that no one at the table knows about...potentially including her husband and child. (The player would have to spill the beans.) The Scotsman's sole goal is to kill the bad guy, because the bad guy killed him. As soon as that happens, his body drops and his soul moves on to the next world. The Englishman and Egyptian are almost the sanest people in this storyline.

Have I mentioned anyone stereotype, yet? Have I mentioned that we start with media res? Have I mentioned the scenario, if you walk through it, takes less than 2 hours of play time? Yet, most groups hit the limit of 4 hours game time.

And every game's end comes with the results of a stand-off that would make every fan of Reservoir Dogs scream and cheer.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather play in the second game. You have real people in a real situation, with extraordinary situations. Magic, psionics, l33t gun-fu to make Chow Yun Fat cry, golems, demons, weird men in fanciful clothing, and a twist in the story that leaves you wanting to more. You may not sit back and say, "That was a helluva ride," like you might with "Dead Ops." You will say, "Whoa."

There's depth to characters that you don't get with archetypes. That depth takes work. Long, hard, (until 4 o'clock in the morning, by the way) work. Yet the pay off is so worth it. Heck, I even met one of my best friends running the game for him, his then girlfriend/now wife, and a friend of theirs running this game. I couldn't tell you who I met or didn't meet running "Dead Ops." The players with characters embraced them in ways I'd never seen running "Dead Ops."

The same can be said for the games I've run back home, not at conventions. The players that show up with voudounistas who run little shops and give back to their communities, while at night helping solve supernatural crimes. The character who was a single father and worked in what was more or less, weird homocide department, trying to raise his daughter with his parent's help, yet was continuously working more and more night shifts. Those are the people I want in my games.

People. Not personas or stereotypes. Not the "thug" Brujah with an oversized chip on his shoulder. Not the thief lurking in the corner of the tavern.


Just remember, they take a lot of work and you may never truly know them. I never understood the voudounista, that’s my fault, not the player’s. And the cop, I only began to figure him out when that game ended. In the end, though, they were worth trying to know.

James Wilber and Derek Guder can both be found haunting the halls of gaming conventions, especially Gen Con Indy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Four hours...the length of time Bella has been sitting in this pitiful spacer bar.

Four companions...the number of her crew sitting with her.

Four weeks...the amount of time her ships have been sitting in dry dock.

"How long is it going to take him to get the data?"

Bella opens her mouth to speak, but is cut off by a wiry man to her right.

"Four minutes," Reader says. He smiles.

Bella looks at Reader. She sighs, knowing that to say anything will do her no good. She takes a sip of the swill the bar serves as “good beer.”

"Good. I'm tired of sitting in dock doing nothing."

The first man finishes his swill in a gulp. "I'll head back to the ships and get them prepped for leaving." Standing, his sidearm is uncovered. Another man at the table stands and leaves with him, swill untouched.

Reader reaches across the table and brings the untouched swill to his lips. Bella glances around the pitiful bar, uncaring for everything that she sees, including Reader. His slouch, his spotty moustache, his raggedy clothes that make no sense together, and then his general attitude that he's the best in the 'verse and everyone owes him for it.

Still, he keeps proving his worth as a member of her crew.

The rest of the bar reminds her of Reader. It is filled with spacers who have too much of something and not enough of everything else. Mostly, they have too much body fat and not enough brains. A few spacers sprinkled throughout have a positive trait or two.

Bella watches as two young, twin females work the men in the room. One distracts while another removes any valuables showing. She recognizes a few mercenaries, some who have signed on to ship out with her in the past. Another she recognizes as a known smuggler. He went off the grid nearly give years ago, everyone assumed he had died. Judging by his presence and his two drinking companions, everyone assumed incorrectly.

Bella moves her feet across the floor, one of her boots stick to something. She refuses to look down and yanks her booted foot from the floor, setting it down several inches away. Buckets and pails are scattered across the floor. Most were originally put in place to catch rain falling from the roof. Now, they mostly serve as spittoons. A few invariably end up serving as latrines for the late night drinkers who drink more than they should.

The brass rail and the mirror behind the bar are a mess. The brass rail covered in grime from too many boots. The mirror covered in dust from never being cleaned. Bella muses that if the bartender would take half the energy he wastes flirting with the female clientele and use it to clean the glass, the bar might attract more of the ugly women he flirts with. Still, he is cute.

Two men sit at the table with Bella and Reader. One looks tired, the other excited. The excited man sets a padded pack down on the table. The contents appear to be rectangular. The tired man sits, but lets his eyes constantly wander the room around him. Bella knows that it is partial paranoia, but additionally due to good training. His hands remain below the table top, no doubt near his sidearm.

"Did you find anything worthwhile, Jack?" Bella pushes her drink across the table to the watching man. He is not the one she asked the question of.

"Yes. I have a few independent cargo ship routes, all travelling between the border planets and the rim. I recognized three of them. Two are smugglers; one is legit and has ties to the government."

"Smugglers, eh?" Bella leans back in her chair, resting it on the hind feet. "What kind of cargo are we looking at?" She rests her left hand on her blade and reaches into her coat pocket with her right hand.

"The first smuggler is moving engineering equipment. Looks like someone wants to sneak it onto Whittier without Blue Sun catching on to what they are doing. They have an exclusive contract with the government planet side."

Reader spins his empty mug of swill on the table. His head moves, following the path of the mug.

"The second one is moving black market beagles to Whitefall. I can’t tell if they are for Patience or someone else on the moon."

Bella's eyes flicker at the mention of Patience's name. Patience has always dealt her square. Tough, but square. “Let’s not cause problems for Patience. Besides, who wants to kennel dogs on a ship? What about the legit one? What are they moving?”

“Medicine, food, and Cortex equipment. From the Wave I intercepted, it sounds like someone is trying to stabilize Ezra. I don’t know why, that place is total ri shao gou shi bing.”

“Legitimate work heading to Ezra? That’s a first.” Reader’s mug spins off the table and shatters on the floor. “Oops.”

Bella puzzles over the truth out of Reader’s mouth. Ezra is a hotbed of criminal activity and a pain in the side of the parliament. Niska, at least, kept some semblance of control on the planet. With him out of business, so to speak, and the acting governor useless, it’s a mad, mad world. “You would think parliament would move troops there, not goods that will attract the eye of every crime lord on the planet. Odd. I wonder what’s going there.”

Bella grabs a radio out of her coat pocket and brings it up to her mouth while depressing the call button. "Laughton, you make it to the August Moon, yet?" She rights her chair on the floor.

"A few minutes ago. All three ships are coming online and I’ve sent out a recall notice to everyone not on ship.”

"Good, we're on our way back. I should be there within the hour. I have a stop to make before lift-off. " She drops the radio back into her coat pocket and brings out a cigar. Standing, she lights it.

“Come on boys, it’s time to go on account.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Into the Black

It's been five years since the "Miranda" incident. Captain Reynolds and the crew of Serenity sit in a silent detente with the Alliance. They went to ground soon after releasing the wave showing the secrets of planet Miranda. The Alliance let them, and truth be told, is glad they went to ground. Even if it makes it harder to find Serenity, it also means no more boat rockin' from her.

The public outburst was loud at first. Quiet out on the rim, where folk worry more 'bout what they don't have, than what others suffer through. Loud in the core, where folk think their rights are important. Loudest on the border worlds, where the loudest folk live, least ways, those loudest against the Alliance. However, like all things, it quieted after a time. Folk grew bored of the news, the panels to investigate, the cabinet meetings to plan to investigate, and the Alliance put a quick smack down on the Cortex to make sure viral information only went so far.

Like all things news-related, it died a sudden, quiet death. The latest fashions, the newest medicines, and the latest tragedies would soon overpower some "scientific debacle" that few cared about and fewer still understood. Miranda is now a "no fly" zone with satellites floating around it for security. If a ship is detected flying near the planet, the satellites send a wave across the Cortex to the Alliance military. Such a message is bound to bring an Alliance cruiser out to investigate.

It's been two years since a cabinet minister had Jack Leland brought up on false charges and ruined his career. Jack financed his lawyer by mortgaging his ship, Aces & Eights. It took nearly two years for the courts to make a ruling, but Jack came out a free man. His crew has since moved on and he's had to hire a new crew. It's not the same, but it's enough.

Jack still owes on Aces & Eights. He's taken to running jobs from it, using whatever money he has left-over after purchasing supplies, paying the crew, and buying his way into high stakes card games, to pay the debt off. His reckons if he can just win big at one of these games, he can pay off this debt, and she'll be all his, once again.

It's about this time that we catch up with some folk destined to become Big Damn Heroes…

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

UWP for the fantasy RPG genre?

[geek related]

In an effort to prove that I'm not dead, I thought I'd post a thought I had today while driving home from Kzoo. This should also prove that I do have some old-school RPG cred.

I was thinking of what I may be asked to run in the future, if anything. I have one group whose GM is thinking of wrapping up her current storyline and stepping into the role of player. This was discussed at a game I was not present for and my name was thrown in the hat as someone who could run a game for the group (if I was interested). At first, I thought they would want me to run something akin to what we’re currently playing – modern supernatural (I refuse to put the horror moniker on this game). Then I thought, “Am I so sure?” What else might they be interested in playing? Fantasy, sci-fi, weird west, etc. This led to the question:

Has anyone bothered to develop an Universal World Profile style tool for fantasy settings?

For those of you who don't know the term, UWP is a string of 6 or 7 letters and numbers (+1 additional) (all depending on the version) designed for the RPG Traveller. This set of numbers would tell you the starport type, planetary size, planetary atmosphere, hydrographic percentage (important for ships based on nuclear energy), population, planetary government type, law level, and finally technological level. Depending on the version of the game (I only have the first four, including most of the first & third and all of the fourth) you own, will determine which of those categories are included.

Obviously, these are designed for a science fiction setting. Yet, I feel they could be redesigned for use with a fantasy style setting. First we should look at the purpose of the UWP in the Traveller books.

When it was first published, Traveller was a simple collection of three little black books (lbbs). There really wasn't much for specific setting structure in these first three books. That would come later. What was in the third book, Worlds and Adventure, was the first version of the UWP. This tool was designed to help GMs design their sectors of space. With this tool, you could code everything into a concise number and know at a glance what was present.

For example, at a glance I would know that the planet Marler has a good quality starship installation on a planet 5000 miles wide with dense atmosphere and 30% water atmosphere. The population is in the hundreds of thousands with a law level wherein weapons of a military nature are prohibited, and the technology level includes starships.

As a side note, these short codes exist in one shape or another for many things in this game, including trade and star mapping.

So, with all of this in mind, I now ask, "Would this tool be useful for a fantasy style game?"

That asked, I have another question to ask, "How many people actually prepare their own fantasy setting game world versus using something already known or prepackaged?" My guess is most use the prepackaging, whether they purchase official role-playing game products, novels, or works more graphically orientated (comics, art books, music albums, etc.).

For this last question, I think the answer is, "Most people do not create their own world."

Well, phooey on them, spoiling my work here. Let's continue on as if there were a market for this idea, please.

Which takes us back to, "Would this tool be useful for a fantasy style game?"

If the answer is, "No," we must ask, "Why not?" The main reason I can think of for why not, is that people may populate their fantasy world exactly how they want it. This is a respectable reason.

If the answer is, "Yes," then we can further discuss this idea. Now, we can ask further questions.

Who is the target audience?
What makes it useful?
Where does it belong in a product?
Why is it useful?
How is it useful?

Some of these have simpler (easier, perhaps) answers than the others.

The target audience is ideally the person running the game. Therefore, I'd also drop it into the GM chapter of a product, unless the product has a section dealing with world creation. Jason Vey's Dungeons & Zombies by Eden Studios, Inc. does this on pages 50-53. That portion of the book isn't necessarily verboten for players, as it discusses the new rules, powers, etc. in the book. Jason does a good job speaking to the basics behind world/setting creation. So, if you need help getting started, these four pages may help you.

It's useful because it condenses information down into a small string of letters and numbers. This makes tracking the information easier on the GM (and potentially the player). This also speaks to the why question. Let me show you an example.

Marler A5935A3A
Foss D0002C9X
Machtan AA8677E7A

Good quality starship installation on a planet 5000 miles wide with dense atmosphere and 30% water atmosphere. The population is in the hundreds of thousands with a law level wherein weapons of a military nature are prohibited, and the technology level includes starships.

Poor quality installation, is an asteroid belt with no atmosphere or free standing water, has a population in the hundreds, the tech level is average for the setting, and weapons outside of your residence are forbidden.

Excellent quality spaceport on a planet 10000 miles wide with standard atmosphere density and 70% water, population in the tens of millions, with above average technology and law level stating blades are a controlled item requiring license and all firearms and laser guns are illegal.

I see the merits to both. The second example gives you the opportunity for flux text if you want it. The first assumes you can memorize the information (which is easy to do if you use the method to create the planets) and will take up much less space.

So, if you're doing a setting where you need to know information on all the various cities, towns, and villages, this may be the route for you.

That's another answer to, "How is it useful?" If you want to make a list of all the places of residence in your "home-brew" setting, this could do it for you. All of the information would be on one page.

You could also use this method for a setting wherein the source material isn't provided in the system you want to utilize. For example, if you are running a Hyborean era game and have many of Mongoose's fine products,

Now, let's talk more about how to make it (exactly) useful in a fantasy game.

The first bits of information we need to discern is what do we need to code? If Traveller codes these, what can we translate them into for our setting?

Starport type
Planetary size
Planetary atmosphere
Hydrographic percentage
Planetary government type
Law level
Technological level.

What is the basis for trade outside of the locale? (farming, milling, fishing, hunting/trapping, smithies, animal husbandry/breeding)

Country size

What is the major land type? (plains, swamp, mountains, forests, etc.)

Farmable land amount (in percentage format)


Government type (hereditary position, council of elders, vizier, appointed by kingdom level person, etc.)

Law level (is still relevant, just because most RPGs let characters walk around armed to the hilt, doesn't mean they should)

Technology level (doesn't have to be extravagant,

[This would also work for the interests of the kingdom:

Where is the basis for trade? (Sea/Ocean Coast, River Coast, Capitol City, Major Trading City, none - all localized)

Government type (hereditary dictatorship, council of statesmen, council of wizards, etc.)]

There is one more question/comparison we need to study. Does this material already exist?

D&D, AD&D, and that ilk had random charts that allowed for you to roll and create your settings. I remember some of these charts were quite extensive. I don't have a copy of any of the core rule books for those products, so I can't speak directly to them.

Harndex for Harn 2nd ed (that's from circa 1983 for those of you keeping track) does have a quick reference for locales. It lists the Realm the location resides within, population, holder of the location, and the liege for the location. All of that is good information. For the kingdom level, it doesn't do this. Perhaps, that information is in a different book. The kingdom level does list out the past monarchs and then a separate list for the fiefs/territories and holders thereof. This information is coupled with text about the territory.

Runequest doesn't have such a system that I've seen, nor does Hero Quest or whatever they're calling it these days. Iron Kingdoms doesn't provide the information in this method, either.

So, perhaps the answer is, create a version, see how it works myself, adjust it, then offer it to others here to use and abuse? I know I'd use it, but would others?

Yet, I have to ask, "Have you seen something like this in an RPG product for a fantasy (or even modern) game?"

My apologies for the rambling. I hope you got something out of this.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Slowly the creative juices return to my soul.

Finally, a new muse has entered my life. May she never leave, even when she must.

A new notebook has been purchased. I've begun sketching out the metaplot for the first of two seasons I have in mind for a modern supernatural world. I've begun thinking about musical influences and it's funny how I ways return to some of the same music as I've used before. However, this time I have newer music to allow influence my travels. I have also purchased books to help me with research / ideas for these paths I trod.

Ideas for a hard sci-fi campaign and low magic fantasy world have begun to bubble. I'll let them stew a bit, though. It's not like I'm even running a game right, now. It's just nice to feel the creativity flowing through me once again.

Perhaps I shall share more later, but for now rest assured I'm not quit dead.