03 March 2017

More Campaign Questions

I found this over at my online and real life friend Nathan Jenning's 'blog. More interesting questions to consider when creating a fantasy campaign.

Questions for Campaigns at Each Level of Scale


What is the name of this place?


Why
  1. Backstory
  2. Size
  3. Population
  4. Army and size
What race is in charge here? Really?

Do they speak common? Something else?

Is anything illegal?
  1. Weapons
  2. Magic
  3. Something odd or absurd?
Who is in charge? Really?

Secret societies? Cults?

Who is the wealthiest? Different from above? Really?

Stronghold?
  1. Motte & Baily
  2. Castle & Keep
  3. Curtain Walls
  4. Wood
  5. Stone
  6. Enchanted
What is the religion? Really?

Who is their cleric? Really?
  1. What are clerics?
  2. How do clerics work here?
Is this place for Law, Chaos or Neutrality?

Can we change alignment here?

Who is the most powerful?
  1. FM
  2. CL
  3. MU
  4. TH
  5. Dwarf
  6. Elf
  7. Hobbit
Who knows the most?
  1. Book knowledge
  2. Experience
Is there a:
  1. Tavern or Inn
  2. Stable or Livery
  3. Jail or Prison ... and who is in it?
  4. Church or Temple
  5. Bank
  6. Town or Guild Hall ... which guilds?
  7. School
Can we buy?
  1. Supplies
  2. Equipment
  3. Weapons or Armor
  4. Magic Items
  5. Transportation
Can we find?
  1. Healing or Potions
  2. Antidote
  3. Cures
  4. Raise Dead
  5. Curse or Remove Curse
  6. Lycanthropy Cure
Can we obtain hirelings? Retainers?

Where is the nearest treasure to recover?
  1. Is it legendary
  2. Will it make us famous
  3. Will it make us rich
Are there any problems around here?
  1. NPCs
  2. Monsters
  3. Will it make us famous
  4. Will it make us rich
  5. Will it make us landed
Is this place its own problem?
  1. Deception
  2. Intrigue
  3. Corruption
Does anyone need something done?
  1. Are they rich
  2. Powerful
  3. Will they pay: in kind, coin, land
Is this place at war?
  1. With whom
  2. How long
  3. Is it just
  4. Who is winning
Where is the nearest dragon? And hoard? Or any creature that:
  1. Petrifies
  2. Paralyzes
  3. Drains Energy
  4. Poisons
  5. Breathes a weapon
  6. Contagious condition
  7. Regenerates
  8. Enchants
How do PCs find out about these things? Rumors?

01 March 2017

[Review] How To Run A Kickstarter

Kick Starter (KS) has attracted various types of projects since its inception. Though there are folks who malign KS, deservedly so in a few cases, I would be the first to point out this a shortcoming of the format of KS offerings and the individuals behind those projects, not the KS folks themselves. I could spend a lot of time slamming certain notorious KS meltdowns, ranging from projects which began with good intentions but failed to deliver, to what appear to be outright confidence games intended to fleece people.

This is not a post about that, and I'd appreciate it if you would take discussions about such elsewhere.

Let me point out before I go further I've backed 9 KS projects:
  • I received the correct rewards for my level of patronage every time. Yes I did; every one, every time. 
  • The reward matched the description on the KS page.
  • All but one project delivered later than promised, but only one of those eight was delivered more than a month or two later than promised. 
  • In every case I received clear and (more importantly) believable communication from the responsible party or parties that (a) my project was late, (b) the reasons for the delay, and (c) a reasonable estimate of when I could expect my reward(s) to arrive. 
So, not a bad track record overall. I agree with KS in that I'm not buying a product so much as I'm supporting the development of a product. In light of my apparently unusual success with KS, what does it take to stand out from that crowd?

Douglas H. Cole and Gaming Ballistic LLC's Kickstarter Dungeon Grappling (DG). I was impressed on so many levels with how Cole conducted this project. I received constant communication about DG, fun things to read, my input/feedback was sought, and my e-mails were answered promptly (I sent two over the course of the KS campaign).

It wasn't just the communication. The product itself was exactly as advertised, save where backer feedback suggested changes the majority thought were a good idea. It was delivered on time and securely packaged to prevent damage to the product (I once received a badly damaged "collector's" version of a KS product due to the way it was packaged, no I won't tell you which one).

Now when the project is winding down? Cole is still seeking feedback. Are we happy with the product? What else would we like to see? Would we be interested in this semi-related product and here's what else the company has in the works. And, most importantly of all? Has everyone received all their rewards and are there any issues or problems with what they've received?

This is how to run a Kickstarter! Know your product, know your capabilities, know your audience. If the first 3 rules of a brick-n-mortar store are location, location, location then I'd say the first 3 rules of KS are communication, communication, communication!

Neither I, Cameron DuBeers, nor my Wobbly Goblin Press are employed by or affiliated with  Mr. Cole or Gaming Ballistic LLC. I'm just a gamer impressed to hell and gone by a well-run Kickstarter campaign.

12 January 2017

[REVIEW] Dungeon Grappling

Dungeon Grappling (DG) is written by Douglas H. Cole and published by Gaming Ballistic LLC. Neither myself, Cameron DuBeers, nor my company Wobbly Goblin Press, are associated with either Douglas Cole or Gaming Ballistic in any way beyond backing the Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter. This review is based upon the first PDF release available to KS Backers only. Gaming Ballistic is currently accepting pre-orders [here] (link updated).

I never had the opportunity to read the 'zine article DG grew out of, so I cannot directly address any differences between the two. I will say DG includes a nice introduction to grappling and what it means to your campaign. Also a nice part of the presentation is the body of text, artwork and background art are all divided into layers. Artwork and background can be turned off, leaving the just the text for easier reading and printing. Not that the two are intrusive in any, I found the presentation of the material to be well done, but I personally like plain text for reading on the computer screen.

The actual game play mechanics are logically divided into three sections: Core Concepts, Grappling Effects, and Monstrous Grappling. Also included at the back of the book are an exhaustive Index and a summary of the rules in the form of two reference sheets. The latter will be helpful when conducting grappling in a referee's own campaign, particularly the first few times these new concepts are employed.

As advertised, Dungeon Grappling presents a system adaptable to most FRPG games, particularly those emulating pre-1983 rules sets. Rules for the different gaming systems are presented with the correct terminology and level of detail, leading me to believe Mr. Cole is either adept at all these systems or had plenty of editorial assistance writing those sections.

One aspect of the game I particularly like is the division of player-character and monster grappling. This section also includes example monsters with statistics and combat examples specific to 5E, S&W: Complete, and Pathfinder.

So, how do the rules work? For S&W they work great. I found them easy to adjudicate, adaptable to the fluidity of combat, and producing consistent results. I ran several scenarios including one on one, one versus two, and five smaller opponents versus a larger, stronger opponent. The rules handled each situation without a lot of paging through the rules or having to guess how to proceed.

Conclusion? I will be incorporating these rules into my S&W based campaign rules. Is there any better praise for a work of this type?

Summary: presentation, coherency of rules, ease of use; all get top scores. This product is highly recommended for your home campaign.

26 November 2016

Advice For Video Reviewers & Podcasters

A few brief words of advice for persons doing gaming related videos and podcasts.

Short intros, then get to the subject at hand.

Stick to the subject.

Use your natural speaking voice.

If you don't have a pleasing speaking voice, get someone to do your broadcast for you or with you.

Try to have new information in your podcast, something more than that found with a casual Google search.

If you're doing a video review? Exploit your medium by having visuals and props. If you're doing a podcast choose a location with good acoustics and a minimum of background noise.

No filler! When you reach the end of your useful information, stop talking!

19 November 2016

The Unblemished

An unofficial arm of the Church of Law. The Unblemished are soldiers and unsanctioned guardsmen in towns or cities where Law holds sway. Because of the church's annual receipt of tithes from the these troops tend to be very well armed and trained. The Unblemished will typically be armed with mace or club, fighting spear, and dagger; they are almost always clad in plate and carry shields.

Sometimes these men and women, almost always humans, operate with the blessings of The Nine and the leading members of the local clergy. Other times they operate independent of the local clergy under the command of a Cleric, who may or may not answer (or at least confer) with the local clergy.

The Unblemished always cover their faces when in uniform, communicating only in the Lawful alignment tongue. In stressful situations, any being unable to communicate in same will often be detained. The Unblemished are very often fanatical in their devotion to The Nine and will usually err on the side of dogma in pursuit of their duties. These fanatics are often rigid and unyielding in their faith, even to the point of great personal cost.

Unblemished soldiers are always found preferably in groups of nine or multiples of nine. In such a case there will be one soldier bearing the sigil of one the deities on his tabard, all of The Nine will be thus represented. In smaller communities where numbers are lacking they will resort to groups of three.

If your campaign uses paladins, this is a great source for them.

30 October 2016

Variant Humans: The Elorran

Basically, I've decided to have six human ethnicities in my new supplement, one for each physical attribute. So, what I've been working on in my spare moments is the new races. It isn't just coming up with a backstory, but coming up with a decent name for them. 

The Elorran are slender humans characterized by roman noses and strong foreheads. Their fingers and toes also tend to be very long, though they are no more dexterous than other humans. The Elorran inhabit the region closest to the Upper Serpent River and the western arm of the Frostfang Mountains. The Elorran are tinkerers, inventors, sages, and wizards. They are strategic fighters and though they  are not particularly warlike, they are implacable foes once aroused.  The Elorran have a not undeserved reputation as humorless, stoic, and overly analytical.

Elorran average 3"-6" taller than human norm, with light colored hair. Hair color is usually light brown, blonde, and so blonde as to be almost white. Eyes tend toward blue or grey. Elorran roll 3d6+1 for INT and 3d6-1 for STR, and add +1 to saving throws versus mind influencing spells. Elorran society is lax when it comes to matters of spirituality, so they produce few clerics, but some of the finest mages the world has known have come from the Elorrans. The Archmage turned Sage "Ahmechs the Wise" is Elorran.

29 October 2016

Variant Human Race: Heptamoni

The Heptamoni (singular: Heptamon) dwell mainly in the northern reaches. They prefer loose-fitting clothing made of unbleached woven cloth, leather stained in light colors, or furs. They average 3"-6" shorter than typical humans, are hirsute and heavy browed, as well as heavily muscled in their frames. Hair and eyes trend toward dark brown. A Heptamon will typically have a one-syllable first name, the name they go by in everyday life, with a rarely used last name consisting of their mother's first name name followed by -childe; or -childemon in the case of a multiple birth. Multiple births are 10% more common among these humans. Their society is matriarchal and worship of Iskela is foremost among their beliefs.

Heptamoni prefer weapons that take advantage of their strength, such as bashing or two-handed bladed weapons. Clerics are revered among the Heptamoni, indigenous magic-users are rare and all MUs are treated with a mixture of respect, contempt, and fear.

The Heptamoni get +1 to all saving throws versus cold-based attacks or magic, roll 3d6+1 for Strength, and 3d6-1 for Dexterity.