Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2016-08-13 1

This week marks the 28th anniversary of my first brush with death. My right arm was amputated in a nasty car wreck during the wee hours of 1988-08-08. Yeah. 88-8-8. Easy date to remember. Easy events to remember, too.

It’s during this week that I do quite a bit of reflection on where I’ve been and what I’ve done in those near-three decades since a much younger version of myself faced down death and walked away. Most of those reflections are for myself to keep internal, but I do ponder if I’ll ever take the various materials and game systems (maybe just one of them) and attempt to publish them. Know what I mean? Things are getting more serious along those lines, but I’m not quite ready to pull the trigger yet. I’m getting closer, though.

Oh. By the way. The arm was re-attached during a miraculous five-hour surgery. It works fine for me… most of the time.

Enough of pondering the distant past. Let’s look at that last two weeks worth of links!


I’ve done something similar to what John mentions in his post. My take on “creature roulette” is to shake up the veteran players who seem to have every entry of the bestiary memorized. I’ll grab a book or three (or five) and pick a random page/creature from each book. I’ll scribble a few basic notes of description or keywords down for the creature. Then I’ll combine them as best I can in a pseudo-logical (hard to be completely logical in a fantasy setting) manner. Then I’ll assign stats as I see fit to the description of the newly minted monster. The “fresh” idea always throws those veterans for a loop. Having said that, my approach is for creating new critters, and John’s approach is for fleshing out (or creating) storylines. I love his ideas as well and may very well incorporate them into future gaming sessions.

Just Another Pointy Stick I: Spell Storage Solutions Pt 3a

In this installment of the “pointy stick saga” (my name, not his), Mike delves into the use, misuse, alternate use, and general ideas of wands and staves. This is a really good article because it provides for a wide variety of options beyond the “my wand of fireballs has 38 out of 50 charges left.” My favorite advice in here is that wands found “in the field” should not be fully charged (without a good reason). I’ve been doing this for years because it makes sense that the former owner (perhaps the fellow that is now a cooling corpse at the PCs feet?) would have used up some of the charges during his adventures.

Custom Player Encounter Type Deck

This is a great idea for helping keep encounters focused on the PCs and shuffling around (heh. get it?) who gets the spotlight moments. I know that, as a GM, I tend to favor one or two particular PCs when it comes to spotlight because I know they thrive on it. This really isn’t fair to the rest of the group, and I openly admit and acknowledge it. I just get twitchy when forcing a player to exploit the spotlight when they don’t want to. This randomization technique would allow me to remove myself from the decision by using a tool and not be as weird about it. Good idea, Matthew!

Decisions Of Plot: Encounter Planning and Prep

I think Mike’s done more prep on this article than I usually do for a session (or even a few sessions) of my games. Then again, I’m mainly an improv-style GM. I love winging things. For those sessions that I do prep, Mike’s article is a huge help. My favorite part is the reminder to hit the critical beats within the encounter/session to match up with the overall campaign arcs.

The Grand Library of Coruvon

Great map of a library. I can see many different things happening here. This map appears to be pretty straightforward on the surface, but exploring ideas that can happen here has really sparked my imagination. Great map, Dyson!


What is “punk?” There are plenty of nebulous ideas wrapped around that single word. I, of course, immediately go to neon tattoos and spiked piercings in a cyberpunk environment. There are many different ways to go, and I think this article sets a great foundation for the exploration of the word.

Not Just Another Pointy Stick: Spell Storage Solutions Pt 3b

Mike delves beyond the standard wand and staff concepts of storing spells. When I break that mold, my first thought is arrows (and is the first major section of the article), but Mike delves deeper than that in this article. If you’re interested in different “pointy sticks” that can hold spells (lances!!!) then check out this article. PS to Mike: Congrats on the silver ENnie award!!!

Starting Your Adventure in Shackles

My current Pathfinder campaign (which is currently on hiatus because of work-related things) started out similar to this. Not quite in shackles, but the group started out in a jail cell without knowing one another and not really remembering how they landed in jail. I expected some backlash from the players on this, but they ran with it and ran with it quite well. I like how this turned out, but it’s tricky. There are some other examples of “starting in shackles” within the blog post, so go check them out!

Why We Game: An Ode to Friends

First off, congrats to the World Builder Blog on the gold ENnie! Yay! This article really helped me out. Not with direct advice on how to do something before arriving at the table or during the session, but to remind me of why I love this hobby so very much. Thanks for bringing me back to my roots and giving me new energy for my game sessions.

Lightning Research: Maximum Answers in Minimum Time

My fantasy trilogy (book #1 is under contract now… I’ll update more on that when I have more solid news of a release date, etc.) doesn’t require much research. It’s a world all of my own creation. I get to play in my own playground. However, my urban fantasy (set in modern day San Antonio and involving the deities of the ancient world) requires tons of research. Mike’s techniques on lightning research have helped me hone my research capabilities for my urban fantasy novels. His approach isn’t too far off from my own, but I love his advice of “skim twice.” I usually do a skim, then a read…. Going in for that second skim session might help me figure out if I’m in the right place before I dive into the reading portion of things.

Release the Kraken – The Three Tombs of Acker

Ooooohhhh….. This is an incredibly complex and beautiful map. I love it, and might yank it into use for my current Savage Worlds game… We’ll see if I can fit it in.

The Finer Points of the FrankenGame

FrankenGames are fun! They’re also time consuming. What’s a FrankenGame? Well… It’s when you smash together two, three, or even four (sometimes more!) games together and run with them. It’s a really fun experiment and a rewarding experience. I wouldn’t recommend every game or campaign be run this way, but if you’re an aspiring (or even experienced) game designer, this is a great thing for your brain to go through. You get to make up rules on the fly and see how they work. Learn from the results: good and bad. They’ll make you a better designer, gamer, player, and GM. You’ll learn tons of insight into the “regular” games you play and how they are structured.

One comment on “Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2016-08-13

  1. Mike Bourke Aug 14,2016 10:20 AM

    We all encounter the unexpected in life; it always challenges us in ways that we never thought we would have to prepare for. What defines us as people is how we react and respond to those challenges. I’m glad that you survived the amputation and even happier that the limb could be reattached and still provide reliable functionality at least most of the time, but I’m happiest of all that you seem to have come through the experience pretty much intact as a person without excessive psychological effects; in fact, I would say that under the circumstances, you have your balance of external living and internal reflection pretty well adjusted!

    And so to your comments:

    [Not] Just Another Pointy Stick: Spell Storage Solutions Pts 3a [and 3b]: Expanding horizons beyond what’s listed in the rule books are what this series is all about. Glad I was able to validate some of your own thinking and hope that some of the other ideas come in useful in the future!

    Decisions Of Plot: Encounter Planning and Prep: This article pretty much wrote itself from front to back in two sessions of work, not much prep required! The editing, however, and especially getting the formatting right for maximum clarity of presentation, took almost four times the usual for an article of that length. Which, of course, is why I don’t do it that way all the time! This article has gotten a lot of response through social media, which is always gratifying; it suggests that, like you, a lot of people expect it to be helpful to them when more robust prep needs to be done. Glad I was able to help!

    Lightning Research: Maximum Answers in Minimum Time: This article, on the other hand, hasn’t generated much buzz, for reasons that escape me. Maybe most people don’t think they need to know how to research things, and so don’t read the article to discover how inaccurate that perception is? But those who have read it have all found it useful, and I hope that also proves to be the case with your urban fantasy.

    Finally, thanks very much for the congrats – I’m very proud of having been awarded the Silver Ennie, and am hard at work trying to live up to it!

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