Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2016-04-30

It’s been a nutty week. Editing two novels of my own while critiquing a friend’s novel…. This has all piled up on me, and I’m quite amazed I’m even getting this post out the door considering the Day Job has been hammering me quite hard as well.

All-in-all a good week for me, to be honest. It’s also been a great week for the links, so let’s get to it!

Developing A Plan on the Go

For those of you suffering from over-planning syndrome, this is a good post for you to read. If your players suffer from the same malady around the table, then point them to this post. As a GM, it’s a good read as well because it can help you present the right information at the right time in the right order to short circuit the analysis paralysis that some groups suffer from. I’m going to have to adjust my gaming style with my monthly Pathfinder group a bit now that I’ve read this article. I think it’ll help around the table.

The Eight Types of Fun

Chris has a great post that breaks down the 8 types of fun. I think his take is spot on and enlightening. It’s given me some food for thought on what kind of fun I like having vs. what my players like to do and where we can find some common ground.

Aging Through the Ages

Delta has a great list of the various aging rules from the generations of D&D. It’s a most excellent compilation of rules and styles of aging. If you’re building a game in which the age of the characters matters, you owe it to yourself to check this out and get food for thought.

Review Roundup: Three products of interest

Mike has three reviews here of three different RPG products. The reviews are very helpful. I had my eye on the Pythos game at one point, but it fell off my radar for reasons unknown. Now Mike’s put it back on my radar. He breaks down the pros and cons of the game, and I think the pros in his review outweigh the cons. I’ll have to check it out more in depth for myself.

Behemoth Lookout

The mix of background and information Dyson puts out with his maps really brings them to life. I see the events unfold around this beautiful location as I read the text. Very evocative. Thanks for the map and the background, Dyson. Well done!

Found Locations

I used to have a bit of source material called “Found Locations” way back in the early 90s. I think it was a Judge’s Guild bit of material, but I could be wrong on that. I used it quite a bit. Almost to the point of having the binding fall apart. I’ve since fallen away from using found locations, but I think I might get back to it with my Pathfinder game once the group gets out of their current dungeon delve.

Campaign Suspension

I feel your pain of campaign suspension, Angela. It’s a hard thing to do… and then come back to where you left off. At one point in my life, I had two roommates and a whole gaggle of close friends who were all role players. We gamed at our house, and I eventually had to run to an office supply store for a box with the hanging file folders. I marked the folders with numbers and then created a spreadsheet to track game system, campaign, GM, players, characters, and misc. notes to keep everything straight. We had nearly 30 concurrent campaigns going at once. Many of the suspended for long periods while the GM thought of next steps, but most of them were touched on at least once a month. This may sound nuts, but it was a rare day for us to not gather and role play. Out of a 30-day month, we probably gamed at least 25 of them.

10 Most Common Mistakes DMs and Players Make in 5e D&D

I’m not into D&D 5e. I probably won’t be. I’ve heard good things about the game, but I’m so heavily invested in (and incredibly happy with) Pathfinder, that I don’t see a similar game system in the same genre supplanting what I already have. That’s why you haven’t seen many (if any) D&D 5e posts here. However, when I read this post by Ameron, I knew it might be useful to some of my audience out there in the blogosphere. So… here’s the link to a great breakdown of some of the D&D 5e rules!

GURPS 101: Basic Damage, Penetrating Damage, and Injury

This is a great post for all GURPS players and GMs to read. It clearly and concisely explains the difference between basic damage, penetrating damage, injury, “lose HP” statements, and multipliers. Thanks for the clarity, Peter!

Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2016-04-23

The Pikes Peak Writers Conference that displaced last week’s post went off very well. Everyone had a good time. Everyone learned lots (probably more than their brains can handle in 2 1/2 days of programming). Drinks were drunk. Deals were made. Friends were made and met and kept forever. I couldn’t have asked for more!

Speak of deals… I made one. I sold a novel to Strigidae Publishing! That’s right. A novel with my name on it is finally getting some forward progress. You can find out more about it over at my author web site. I’m caught somewhere between “is this real?” and “holy crap!” in my reactions.

Of course, you came here to find out what cool stuff I found in the RPG blogosphere in the past two weeks or so. Here are the links!

RPT#693: HOW TO ROLEPLAY NPC MANNERISMS

If you have a throw-away NPC, maybe adding a mannerism or trait to them will make them more important to you and to the game. Even if it doesn’t, that one detail thrown in will make the world more immersive to your players.

The Incremental Art Of Escalation

I have an issue with escalation when I run the game. I go from “minor threat” to “major threat” to “end of the world” very fast. It’s a flaw in my planning and outlining of the game progress. I’ve known about my issue for years. Mike has an article here that really helps me out. The next time I run a non-improv game, I’m going to put his words of wisdom into play and see if that helps me out. I bet it does.

Crypts and Sewers

I love this map because I can see all sorts of creepy crawlers lurking about in the minor details of this wonderfully drawn piece of art. This is evoking some creative ideas in me, and I feel that is what maps are supposed to do.

Who Owns Your Campaign?

I love this article because it sums up the collaboration in an RPG quite well. I especially love the closing out summary because I’m always on the look out for the folks on the other side of the screen. When I’m a GM, I feed into the players’ desires. When I’m the player, I love throwing hooks and plot ideas (in character) to the GM. If you’re having some contentious times with your gaming group, I bet this article will be of some help to you.

30 Top Sites for Storytelling GMs

How meta can we get? I’m linking to a post of links. There’s some great stuff in Phil’s list. Go check it out! I haven’t made my way through everything yet, but I’m working on it.

An Amazing Ancestry

I’ve thought about doing ancestral charts for some of my vital NPCs (or groups of related NPCs), but I’ve never pulled the trigger. It just seems like so much work and effort, and I wasn’t sure of the gains. Mike’s article here has enlightened me into seeing the benefit of doing this for a few key NPCs (and maybe a PC or two?) in order to increase the historical and world immersion for the players. Will they care? Dunno. Maybe. Either way, it sounds like a fun exercise.

The Fevered Caves

I love how Dyson layers maps. The ups and downs and tunnels over the top of others always amazes me. It’s actually the clarity of his maps that brings up my level of amazement. Anyone (almost anyone) can draw a map with overlapping tunnels, but Dyson manages to pull it off in a clear manner.

The Problematic Ranger

I’m with Rob here. “Why is any class necessary?” People bash on bards and rangers and druids and other “support role” characters as being cruft in games. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of class-based games. I would much rather go with the skill-based games, which frees me up to attempt to emulate characters from the fiction that I read. That’s another topic, though. In this case, some players need a pre-built template handed to them, so they can wrap their heads around the “correct build” for getting to being a ranger or whatever. These are training wheels to help new players around until they can get on their own and ride for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with it at all.

The Gilligan Tools for better characterization

I love this post because it delves deep into the motivations of the characters for Gilligan’s Island (great show!!!), but as Mike calls it, these deep dives into the hows and why-fors of a sit-com are “pretentious twaddle.” That phrasing made me laugh because my reaction to the deep inspection of “Gilligan’s motivations” invokes a more vulgar response from me. However, Mike’s words sum things up nicely. The entire post illustrates how character creation in a group dynamic can lead to something wonderful… or something potentially disastrous. This is why I love for my players to sit around the table and chat about their players before any dice are rolled. It leads to better group cohesion, and not just to make sure all character classes are used to “fill the gaps.”

Return to Durahn’s Tomb

I love this post for two reasons. The first is seeing Dyson’s progression as a map maker. He shows us the older, original map he’d drawn along with the beautiful, current version. It’s awesome to see how people improve over time! Of course, the second reason is the artwork he’s presenting today in the form of the new map.

Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2016-04-09

Before I jump into this week’s post, I have a scheduling announcement: There will be no post next week. I’m president of Pikes Peak Writers, and our annual conference is next week. This means Monday/Tuesday will be focused on the Day Job and getting my personal stuff together for the big event. Wednesday is our prep day for the conference, and Thursday-Sunday is the conference itself. I don’t plan on doing much in the way of blog reading during these times. I will do my best to not click “Mark All As Read,” but no promises at this point. This means the SSS post for April 23rd may be super-sized. I just don’t know yet.

Speaking of super-sized! I have a ton of links for this week. It’s more than my usual count, but there have been some fantastic posts hit the RSS feeds this week. Great work everyone!

Time to jump into those links!

The Dungeon / Town Mirror Image

Peter’s post about dungeons and towns being the mirror image of one another as far as results and narrative goes is absolutely brilliant. I’ve never really thought about this concept before now. He’s totally right! In town, the PCs drive toward results and the GM narrates out with the player the results. However, things are flipped for dungeons. This article really opened up new perspectives for me in gaming. Thanks, Peter!

Pop-up Roleplaying Games

This is an excellent post from Darcy, but the part that hit me the hardest was the “whirlwind demos” section of the article. I’d really never considered the “skip a rock” technique (see the post for more details on that concept) when it comes to demoing a game or teaching a world or running a quick game for folks that may or may not be immersed into the game like I am. Go check out the link for more details.

Small Motives and Personal Activities

I’ll admit that for “throw away” NPCs (shop clerks and such) I don’t go too in depth in their motivations and desires. There’s so much to do as a GM and so little time to do it in. However, for recurring NPCs, I put in some more effort. Not too much, unless they are a key NPCs. Mike’s approach here at adding some depth to even the “throw away” NPCs is right up my alley. This is something I’ll have to put into practice and see if it increases the immersion in my games for the player while not costing me too many precious minutes of prep time.

The Velvet Hood – A Svirfneblin Bridge Fortress

Another admission: This map confused the hell out of me! Then I spotted the side-view illustration in the upper-right corner. The main “eye draw” for this art (maps are art, dammit!) were the top-down view of the main levels of the floor plan. The arrows guided me to where things link to, but I still had issues…. Once I puzzled it out after seeing the illustration in the top-right corner, it all clicked. Then I fell in love with yet another of Dyson’s maps!

The Crusty Old Gnome: A Taste of the Game

Another post about demoing a game and immersion and skipping that rock across the pond. However, Walt has a different take and some extra details of his own on how to throw together a proper demo for a game or world or setting. There is one thing I think Walt may have left out, though. He talked about events within the mini-story highlighting “unique or interesting rules in the setting”. I love this idea, but I would also like to add that there needs to be at least one event or challenge that highlights unique or interesting abilities of the characters. This will allow the players to do “something cool” with their characters, and this will create a deeper level of attachment to the game and world. Other than this one small thing, I think these are words of deep wisdom from a great writer.

The rule of 14 for passive abilities

This is a very cool idea. I’ve used pre-rolled lists of numbers to compare against skills in secret before, but that’s so cumbersome. I like the idea of using a static die roll (even one less than average) for a passive ability check. Of course, I’d break out of the passive roll when a player declares their character is going to slow the march to inspect a copse of trees or a hollow in the ground or a particular wall or some such. This is just for the “regular routine” type checks when no one is focused on anything. Now to play with some numbers and see if I can adopt this for my Pathfinder game. My gut tells me that the PCs perception check plus a “passive roll” of 8 or 9 would be best. Something for my analytical brain to chew upon.

The Beginnings Of Plot

We’ve all had those cool plot hooks leap into our brains during mental downtime. That’s just how our human brains work. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, taking a shower, doing the dishes, or some other mundane task. When the body is engaged and the mind isn’t, cool things happen. Now… you have this plot hook. Probably lots of them. What do you do next? Well… you click on the link above and read Mike’s insightful article on next steps. Then…. you apply them to that plot hook! (PS: This is also a pretty good approach at outlining novels, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

A Matter of Perspective – Who’s the Bad Guy?

This is brilliant! What a great perspective on two sides of the same events. This should be required reading for all fiction writers, many GMs, and some players. Seeing the dual perspectives is wonderful. Thanks for the post, Ameron!

Negotiating with Monsters in DF

Kick in the door! Kill the orcs! Loot the corpses! Yeah… That’s pretty typical. What happens when the players need the orcs alive, but still need to get something from the orcs? Stuff like information, guides, guards, etc.? Well, then it’s time to negotiate. Having the right skills, advantages, traits, etc. in GURPS is vital for this type of interaction. Peter has a good breakdown of how to go about putting these things together.

Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2016-04-02

This has been a rough week for me. It’s now Friday, and I’m just now getting my comments put together. My back went out on Monday night so badly I thought I was passing a kidney stone. I ended up in the emergency room for about 5 hours that night and got very, very little sleep. It took until Wednesday night for me to regain my energy and until Thursday afternoon before I had the oomph in me to get out of the house to go to the chiropractor. He put me back together, and now I’m feeling great. Last night was the first good night of sleep I’ve had all week, so this is the first chance I’ve had to engage my brain.

Let’s hope the comments on the links are coherent!

Use The Force, Fluke: Who’s On First This Time?

I’ve tried to sum up what Mike’s said. I’ve failed. Make with the clicky on the link and read the article for yourself, then come back. The rest of my comments will make sense after you’ve read Mike’s words of wisdom. I love this article because it solves an issue I’ve had with my monthly Pathfinder game. It’s a large group of seven players. The traditional Pathfinder initiative works well enough some of the time, but it fails most of the time to allow for freedom of movement around the board in a logical manner. I can see this really slowing down the combat, though. The group tends to make decisions by committee, and deciding the “next person” will be a committee decision. Ugh. I’ve got to put some thought into this to see how I want it to work. Thanks for the idea, Mike!

Learning Through Games

I wish more teachers in the world embraced RPGs (and other games) like Jim does. This is a great article on how gaming can really explode with creativity and fun and learning and just making the classroom experience something to look forward to, not dread. Well done, Jim!

Mixing Rumors, Events, and Random Encounters

I like Peter’s idea of merging in the “random stuff happens” items into a single table to roll upon. Instead of bombarding the PCs with a rumor, event, and a random encounter all at once (or in a single time period), this allows for a more even flow to the game and the expansion of the story. I like this quite a bit. Great idea!

New Inheritance Rules

This post has given me an idea on how to carry on a character’s legacy in my own RPG. It’s intriguing to have a new character pick up their father’s/cousin’s/uncle’s/grandmother’s sword and carry on with the quest (or their own quest) rather than rolling Xd10 on the “starting money table” and picking gear from the equipment list like you’re a kid looking at the Sear’s catalog before Christmas shopping season. This is cool and has inspired quite a bit of thought on my part.

Selling Your Loot Part 2

Tim has a good, solid system here for handling how the PCs approach merchants to sell the bloodstained goods they drag out of the dungeons. Go give it a look and see if it can be food for your GM brain like it has been for me.

Finding Your Way: Unlocking the secrets of Google Image Search

Google Image Search is a wickedly fast way to generate ideas for NPCs, PCs, groups, things, animals, monsters, and almost anything else the imagination needs creative seed for. However, there are some (okay, lots) of tips and tricks to using it to its full effect. Make sure to check out Mike’s tutorial on Google Image Search to enhance this part of your research and brainstorming goodness.

Griffinwatch Ruins

What a great set of ruins from Dyson! (PS: After linking to his stuff for years, I finally pulled the trigger and backed his Patreon. You should think about doing the same.)

Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2016-03-26

It’s been a weird week for me. Nothing before around 10:30 AM went right. Each morning was filled with craziness and oddball traffic on the way to the Day Job. That’s okay. I found plenty of links for the week.

Here they are!

How do you spend your earned XP?

I tend to save up and go for some “big bang” items. If I get lucky and spot something useful that’s low in cost, I’ll snag it for my GURPS character. Likewise, if I have some XP left over after a “big bang” purchase, I’ll use the leftovers for something small. Not always, though. I tend to have a growth plan for all of my characters, so I know what I need in XP and what I need to attain before moving on to the “next level” in my character growth. Yeah. I basically, outline my character’s future.

Temple of the Four Gods

Coooooollll! This is a great set of maps and drawings by Dyson. I know. I know. I’m a Dyson fanboy, but this set really sparks the imagination, especially with the background and small bits of info he gives out about the temple.

Play Better Games, Damn It!!!

Chris has put together a damn fine article on playing better games. What’s better? Well, that’s up to you. Your “better” and my “better” may be vastly different and we’ll never game together or just close enough to where we’ll enjoy time around the same table. How do you find your “better game”? Well, it does take some time and an organized approach. The time? That’s on you. The organized approach? Chris has just the thing for you in the post, so make with the clicky-click.

The Perils Of Players Knowing Too Much

Oi. This is a tough cookie to watch crumble. I’ve been very fortunate in my past games with overly-knowledgeable players. When they start to go over my head with their knowledge, I tend to stop and ask for a brief education on the topic before we continue the game. If they’re espousing details they know, then it’s obvious that they want it to be important to the game. I make it important by immersing myself in the topic just long enough to add that flair or flavor to the game at hand. This makes the players happy in two parts. The first is that they get to talk about a topic they nerd out about. Everyone loves doing this. The second is that it now becomes part of the game they are playing, and this deepens the immersion level for them. This is rarely a bad thing.

Troy’s Crock Pot: Making Realms Accessible Again

I’ve always been a Forgotten Realms fanboy. At the height of Faerun’s print run during AD&D 2nd Edition, I probably spent three times the amount of money on The Realms than I did on The Rules. Troy’s got a great post here that summarizes how Forgotten Realms can be accessible again… both to the veterans like myself and to the newcomers to the fold.

gnomestewlogo

We interrupt…

gnomestewlogo… your regularly scheduled programming with this breaking news!

I’ve already let slip (in subtle ways) here and on social media that I’m now part of the Gnome Stew Crew! John Arcadian generously invited me to join the new team he was forming. After getting over my flabbergastedness, we had a great exchange of emails about what would be expected. At the end of the conversation, I humbly accepted a new position as a writer over at the great site.

I can’t wait to see what John does with the site, and I’m super excited to be part of the new Gnome Stew Crew!

Of course, I can’t make a post without throwing up some links. 🙂

You can see Walt’s retirement message and Martin’s as well.

John’s announcement is also up and running for your reading pleasure.

Of course, I’ll still be including Gnome Stew articles in my Sporadic Saturday Sweetness posts. This is not because I’m now a biased party, but because they’ve always rocked and deserve the attention I shine on them.

Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2016-03-19

Things are rolling smoothly. I did pick up the Pathfinder Humble Bundle and the Paranoia Class Bundle of Holding recently. There’s lots of great PDF goodies in there for me to consume. I’m not sure I’ll review any of it, though. Paranoia Class is a great game, but it’s no longer available in “regular” outlets. No sense in wetting someone’s appetite for something they can’t acquire, and the Bundle of Holding is already expired on that one. As for the Pathfinder Humble Bundle, it was all stuff that could be obtained through the Paizo store. I might review some of the PF Society adventures I downloaded, but I’m not sure just yet.

I do intend on getting more game review material up. It’s been way too long since I’ve done that, and that was my original intent of this site. We’ll see how that goes in the near future.

For now… we have links!

Buying the Canon

Angela has some wicked-good advice for anyone who wants to adapt a favored material (book, comic, TV show, movie, etc.) into an RPG setting. I’ve tried to do this a few times and they were all miserable failures. I tried to immerse my players into something I was already in over my head with. It led to them drowning in information. Don’t do that. Treat your beloved adaptation like you would a “typical fantasy realm” and filtering in small bits of information as you proceed through the game. Think back on your first exposure to the material and realize this is what the original content creators probably did with you. You can do it. Check out what Angela has to say for more assistance than what I’m giving here.

The City of Letath

I love these maps. They remind me so much of the city maps from the Forgotten Realms Gray Box from way back in the day. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Dyson.

Pickin’ and Choosin’: Cherry-picking RPG Elements

This post spoke to the game designer in me. I’ve created quite a few RPG systems in my time. I’ve also created more settings than I can recall. However, the crunchy, numbers, mechanics, and moving parts of the system is what this post reminds me of. In the early 1990s, I worked with some friends to create a system. I took lead on the project and scoured every single RPG we collectively owned for parts to *ahem* “borrow” from. I cherry-picked the elements I thought was best and made copious notes about it all. Then I sat back and looked at the cherry-picked elements with a holistic eye. This meant some mechanics had to go, others had to be found, some had to be tweaked, and they all had to be merged together into a cohesive whole. It took 6-7 major (very major) iterations in the system to get it playable. We went our separate ways (as life does that to people sometimes), and I continued to work on the system. I continued to iterate it. As new systems appeared, I cherry-picked little things from them and incorporated them into the game. It’s to the point where it’s 99% playable, and just needs some spit-polish. Maybe I should get on that, eh? We’ll see what the future brings. Thanks for the post, Mike. Good one.

POST GAME BLUES

I can’t say that I’ve ever had the post game blues. I’ve had the post campaign blues, regardless of how things ended up. I guess the hope that I have in my heart of looking forward to spending more time with my character next session keeps me going. When a campaign ends, I know that I’ll most likely never have a chance to “be that character” again, and this always makes me a little sad, even if I have great stories about the character or how the campaign came to a close.

You’re Gonna Carry That Weight

I’m a pretty lenient GM when it comes to encumbrance. It’s just not something I really care about. It doesn’t affect the story we’re collaboratively telling… unless someone gets really stupid with what they are carrying. Then it becomes part of the story whether they want it to or not. If I go a little nuts with the number of coins I drop into the PCs laps, then what they do with the pile o’ loot becomes part of the story as well. I’ve had many a group of PCs walk away from some treasure hordes, never to return, because it was too vast to catalog and carry. Those are great moments.

The Impact of Re-Roll Keep Highest HPs in 0e

Math! Graphs! Hit Points! What’s not to love about the analysis of numbers in role playing games? What? You mean you don’t get all excited about this? Sorry. I do. If you get all jittery and jubilant about the crunchy math bits of gaming, check out this pots. It’s a great one.

vary your vampires

This post brings up a great point, but it shouldn’t just be limited to vampires. The post itself has a great focus on vampires, and I like it quite a bit. However, the thought experiment needs to be expanded upon some to a vast majority of the “standard monsters” roaming the fantasy lands. When you’re creating an adventure and populating rooms, copses of trees, ambushes, or any area with some critters, think about it. Just the smallest tweak in a monster (even if it’s just appearance or “skinning”) will really bring out the joy (and maybe fear) in your PCs hearts, even the most jaded and experienced of players.

GURPS 101: Patching Holes (Poison, Disease, Influence Rolls)

When I saw this title, I thought the article might be about fixing up some flawed rules in the GURPS system. All game systems have flaws. The large the word count making up the rules, the greater the number of holes a system will have. As we all know, GURPS has a vast library of rules supporting the core books, so it was a safe assumption on my part to think of this as “patching the game” instead of “patching a character” which is the intent of this post. If you’re looking to create a character immune (or resistant) to poisons, diseases, and influence rolls, then this a great post for you to take a look at!

Choosing A Name: A “Good Names” Extra

I’ve always had a fairly easy time coming up with names, both for NPCs, PCs, and in my fiction. I don’t know why I’ve had an easy time. I wish I could articulate it as well as Mike has here. His approach is very similar to mine, so if you struggle with coming up with decent names for your world, check out the post.

Other Monster Languages

This is a cool list of other monster languages for intelligent weapons, NPCs, weird tablets/scrolls/tomes found laying about. Excellent list, Delta!

Stealing when you should have been buying…

Ahh… The classic problem if always saying “yes” to the desires and whims of PCs. It can dig a huge hole for the GM, especially when they have future plans for events and encounters. Saying “yes” to everything will invariable invalidate plans. John hits the nail on the head when he says that the GM should dig deeper into the “oddball” requests to see what the PCs really want to accomplish. There might be some alternate paths that can be explored that won’t totally trash the theme or storyline the GM has in mind.

The Lost Ossuary

Holy Crap! When saw the flat version of this map, I was impressed. Then I was confused by the arrows pointing between various tunnels and such. Then the overall shape of the map clicked with me. It’s a cube! Scrolling down to where Dyson had constructed the cube blew me away. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a use for this map, but it’s in my permanent bookmarks!

Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2016-03-12

Another week. More links! Nothing much newsworthy to report at this time, so I’m just going to get right into it.

Character Incapability: The distant side of the coin

Take your enemies’ weaknesses and exploit them! Crush them! Drive them into defeat! Oh. Wait. Sorry. I got carried away. That’s not what Mike’s article is about. He’s got a great article about how to find weak spots in the PCs and exploit them… but not for their humiliation and defeat. It’s a great way to expand the game’s ideas, share the spotlight between the various characters, and tell a story that might not otherwise come about.

The Butterfly Effect

Brian’s article provides some great examples about how the results of one session (or story arc) can impact or even create a different story arc for another session. The post presents the information and examples so eloquently, I’m just going to leave this description here. I don’t have much to add to the topic. It’s a great article!

Boogie to the tune of the hidden Mastermind in your ranks

Muhahahaa! Mike reveals the Master Plan. Or is it the Real Master Plan? What’s the plan for? Well, being a Mastermind, of course. What? You expect me to reveal his plan here? Sorry. Can’t do that. You’ll have to go check it out yourself. Maybe you’ll be able to follow the Real Master Plan and grow into being a Mastermind.

Seven Years!

WOW! Seven years for Dyson. He even included a themed map by Rodger Thorm as part of his post. Congrats, Dyson! Keep up the great work.

Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2016-03-05

Time for the first SSS of 2016! I know. I know. It’s March already, but life got in the way. Check my previous posts for more details. I’m not going to rehash things here other than to thank all of you for sticking with me.

Time for some links!

Sunday Chin Scratcher: Player-Character Questionnaires, Yay Or Nay?

I don’t mind PC questionnaires, but I like them to be interactive. I don’t want to throw a sheet of paper at the player and ask them to answer questions about their character. Yes, that can be helpful, but I like to take it to the next level and turn it into an interview of sorts. I feel this works better for me understanding the personality and background of the character. I also feel it deepens the concepts of the character within the player’s mind.

Isometeric Mapping…Always Take Lots of Asprin Before Attempting

Like most people, the first isometric map I ever saw was in the original Ranveloft adventure. What a beautiful work of art! Also a real pain the ass to read/view/scan/etc. It took some intense study, a straight edge (or two), and a keen eye to really follow where things lined up. Even though the map gave me difficulty, I still love it. A well-done isometric map is a work of art to behold. A poorly done one is a migraine waiting to happen. I like the one done at the link by Tim, though. It’s pretty sweet.

Swords with Attitude aka Can a Sword Pout?

It’s rare for me to hand out an intelligent weapon. Very rare. I’ve been playing RPGs for almost 33 years now. As a player, I’ve seen 3 or 4 handed out, but never to me. As a GM, I’ve handed out another 3 or 4. They are a valuable treasure to behold and can be a severe game-changer, depending on the motivation and attitude of the weapon. I’ve randomly rolled some intelligent weapons in the past, and discarded the intelligent portion of the stats because it didn’t fit the story I wanted to collaborate on. Every intelligent sword I’ve handed out has been with intent and purpose, and it’s always come off great. Reading this article has inspired me to hand out another intelligent weapon, but it would really break my current games that I’m running. One is too low power (the weapon would take over) and the other is a large group (7 players in Pathfinder), so adding an intelligent weapon might upset the balance of things a bit. I’ll have to think on it. Great article, Laurence!

Support Your Local Hero

Mike’s article on heroism breaks down a variety of different ways someone can be (and should be) considered heroic. All the way from the “I gotta do this or else” hero to the “Let’s save the universe!” hero. As always, Mike’s article is great food for thought, and presents a great deal of information on the different types of heroes out there. Don’t be fooled going in. This is not purely about the superhero genre of RPGs. He touches on real life, and everything said here can be applied to pretty much any genre out there. Thanks for the great write-up, Mike!

The House of Seven Wines

This is a great map with just enough text detail to spark the imagination. This gives great seed for growth into adventure ideas or plot hooks. Well done, Dyson!

Character Capabilities: An often-forgotten source of plots

This is brilliant! In my current Pathfinder game, when times get tough (usually in combat or when dealing with dire traps or some such), the players will immediate focus in on their character sheets to see what powers/abilities/feats/skills/magic they have to scrape them out of the bottom of the barrel. It’s not my favorite reaction, but it happens. When I’m in a tough spot as a GM (i.e.: out of ideas, not sure where to go to next, etc.), I’ve never really considered going to the character sheets as a well for source material. Please go check out Mike’s article for a full explanation of what’s gotten me so excited!

Back To The Future For GM’s Day

The Gnome Stew Crew has put together some fantastic bits of advice to their past selves. Look through the plethora of tidbits and I bet you’ll find something in there applying to your current GMing (or even playing) situations. You might even see a familiar name in there: mine. That’s right. I’m part of the Gnome Stew Crew. This just fell into place over the course of the past week, and I haven’t taken the time to do an official announcement just yet. I guess, in a way, I just did. Right? 🙂

Turning The Lights Back On

*flicks lights on*

*watches cockroaches scurry for cover*

I’m back!

Miss me?

As of last night, I’ve finally cleared my plate of some projects and handed things off to others for them to run with. Man, it feels good to be free and clear of things.

I probably still have too many projects going on (by mere mortal standards), but I’m back to to the point where I can handle it. I can already feel the stress reducing as I type this because somehow the words hitting the screen make things more real.

I’ve already collected five links for the week, and am about to crank out the comments (early *gasp*) on them here in a few minutes.

I’ve also got some new things cooking for this site.

I’ve also got some things cooking for something else I was just invited to. We’ll see how that goes.

Thanks to everyone for their patience as the site went dark for a while. I knew, deep down, that I’d be back. I just wasn’t sure when. Now is that good time for me.