Wow. It’s been so long since I’ve done one of these, I lost my groove and habits. I meant to get a post out last week, but that didn’t happen. Again, fell out of the habit. I do have the links for the past two weeks saved up, so this is going to be a mega post of sorts.
Before we jump into the links, an update on my life:
I’ve completely resigned from my various volunteer duties for a local non-profit. I wish them well. There’s no animosity on my part toward the non-profit. It was just time to move on to different things. This freed up tons of time in my life.
I’ve started Taekwondo with my son. He’s gaining confidence and keeping his health up. I’ve lost 20 pounds now and have a goal of losing another 20 more pounds. I know my doctor wants me to lose another 30 to 35 pounds, but I’m setting realistic goals for now. Once the next 20 is gone, I’ll look at the last 10-15 pounds as a “stretch goal” for myself.
My debut novel was released at the end of October. You can find out more information over at the novel publication page on my author web site. Also, if you want a signed copy and don’t live near me, you can buy a signed copy from my site. I’ll autograph it and send it off to you via USPS media mail. Sorry, but no international shipping. It’s just too crazy and expensive for me to make it work.
I’m done with the rough draft of my 6th novel. I’m deep in edits on it. When I edit, I print the novel, grab a red pen, and start my notes. My brain works better for editing this way. I miss way too much if I edit a digital document. Once the paper edits are done, then I scan to PDF the redlines and start work on updating the master digital document. I’m in the “update master digital document” phase right now. I’ve completed 18 out fo 22 chapters thus far, and I hope to get a chapter or two done each day.
I think that’s about it for updates, so let’s leap into the links for the past two weeks!
PS: I’m starting this post early (Tuesday night) since I’ll be in Texas for a funeral Wednesday through Friday. I have a Taekwondo belt test on Saturday afternoon and a Pathfinder game on Saturday evening. I’m hoping I’ll have the time to come back to this post and finish things up before it goes live. If the post appears unfinished, that’s because my energy levels dropped off before the end of Saturday and I was unable to come back.
PPS: I had a little time before my Taekwondo belt test to update this post. Looks like I’ll have most things updated and links put in through the end of the week.
Jack’s post broke my heart. Like Jack, I’ve always taken my sight for granted. Unlike Jack, I’ve not had the honor of coming across a blind person that wanted to game. I guess the barrier for entering the hobby is too high for most blind folks to consider it. This makes me sad. We’re talking theater of the mind here. There’s no vision required to tell tales, play games, make up characters, and collaborate on a story. However, because of the rules, mechanics, spell lists, dice, and so on that are required in nearly every game, I get that not being able to see would put a stop to any desire, no matter how strong, to join in on the hobby. I know this post links out to his Kickstarter that’s concluded (successfully!!!), but if you have the ability and inclination to assist Jack in his efforts, please don’t hesitate to click through to the post to find ways to reach out to Jack.
I love me some physics. I also love graphs and math. Those three things seem at odds with role playing (except for maybe the math part) because we always seem to come up with ways to “break” physics in our games, and graphs tend to make most creative folks fall over in a coma of boredom. However, this post is a great one for anyone considering running a parallel universe game. There are so many things to consider and take into account using physics as we understand them…. well… physics as Mike understands them. If you’re chewing on an idea (for a campaign or a novel or a short story or whatever) involving parallel worlds, you owe it to yourself to go check this post out.
I know the description of this ship says that it ran afoul of a reef, but I love this map because it looks like some gigantic shark from the depths of dark oceans rose up and took a bite out of the ship. That spurned ideas in my imagination more than the description. If I use this map somewhere, I’m going with my version of a prehistoric shark rising up to take down the ship… and let the adventure run from there!
I love magic items with backgrounds and stories and lore wrapped around them. Sure, a “long sword +1, ghost touch” is just fine, but knowing that my character has “Jorgo’s Sword of Ghost Whispering” makes it that much more valuable. However, this can be quite a bit of work for GMs. It’s hard enough cranking out backstories for characters and events and locations, but tossing magic items on top of that list might be the straw that broke the GM’s back. This post can help with that! It breaks down the backstory creation for items into pretty straightforward questions that can be answered in a few seconds.
I’ve thought about checking out Roll20 since I learned about it a few years back. I just don’t have time for another game in my schedule, and I always seem blessed enough to have in-person games aplenty. If you’re looking for an online gaming experience, but aren’t sure where to start… this post is for you. Go check it out!
I’d never thought of using nostalgia in a character’s background. I’ve come close to it by saying that a character “would like to return home” or “would like to be reunited with…..” but I’ve never actually dropped the words “homesick” or “nostalgic” into a backstory for a character. That’s pretty powerful stuff there. I need to, perhaps, update my character workbook that I use for main characters in my fiction writing to include a question along the lines of, “What is your character nostalgic for?” I think that type of exploration of a character’s past will allow for depths to be mined for gold. Thanks for the article, Mike!
This is an interesting article because it brings to light the patterns of development of society and how things might repeat and what the “current” trends are based on. Without a predecessor, it’s hard for something today to exist. I’m pretty sure the latest and greats Top 40 hit on the radio station can have its legacy traced back for decades by a good historical musician expert. The same thing applies to most everything out there. I think the cycles of evolution of society are getting shorter and more refined as we’re now in a digital age where almost no information is lost (and probably too much is produced, creating noise to drown out some signals). If you think about the gaps in time where we went from walking to riding beasts of burden to using chariots to using wagons to using trains to flying to space travel… Each of those gaps are getting shorter and shorter. Similar concepts can come about in other areas as well if one looks hard enough.
I love banshees. They’re on of my favorite undead to use as a GM. Ever since I popped one on the party that was near defeating Strahd in Ravenloft (original module) and that turned the tide against the PCs, I’ve loved them. They’re great critters. So when I saw Dyson’s title for this page, I knew I’d have to check it out! I was not disappointed. The ruins depicted here in the map are so beautifully done, you can see the past wonder of the tower. I think I’ll have to set an encounter or mini adventure somewhere using this map… and of course, there will be a banshee in it.
Mike talks about the “big bad evil organizations” that tend to pervade some literature and much of our fantasy role playing. Red Wizards of Thay from the Forgotten Realms come to mind in this. My favorite sections here are the “Uniformly Evil?” areas because Mike questions if an organization can be through-and-through vile and repulsive. Probably not. In every detestable group, there is usually a shining star who is misguided or coerced into going along. This becomes more and more likely as the group grows in power and population. Was every Nazi soldier evil during WWII? Doubtful. Keep this in mind when designing your evil organizations. Mike also raises some other interesting points in this post that every GM should go check out.
I laughed and laughed and laughed when I saw this map. Mainly because of the pun “head” and “quarters” and it’s a 3D skull! Even now it still makes me chuckle. this is a pretty neat map, too.
I’ve done tons of improv writing in my time. I love. I have a large backpack that is tearing at the seams because of the “improv tools” I have packed into it. I almost need a larger backpack (or need to stop buying improv stuff… Nah!). However, I’ve never really done a full improv RPG session/campaign. Yeah, like most GMs, I’ve improv’d a character or setting or series of events because of decisions by the players, but I’ve never gone full bore into improv gaming. I guess it’s a comfort zone thing. I don’t mind writing with an improv style. I also love sharing what I’ve written from my improv writing sessions. However, collaborative improv…. I guess it just makes me a little uncomfortable because I’m afraid I’ll do/say/think the wrong thing at the wrong moment. I did break through this discomfort a bit back in October at MileHi Con. I stumbled (mostly by accident) into speech/physical improv session that lasted an 50 minutes. It was quite fun because I realized others were as uncomfortable as I was, so it put me at ease. I guess that made it a safe place, which goes back to Senda’s article where she does a great job of describing how to make an improv session a safe place for everyone involved.
Wow. Mike dives into some of the major speculative fiction genres and explores them quite well as regards to how they fit into RPGs. I’m quite impressed by the overall detail here. I learned a few little tid-bits and nuggets from the article even though I’ve been steeped in speculative fiction since 1980. Great work, Mike! (PS: If you’re thinking about designing a campaign world or a fictional environment that lands in the spec fic area, you owe it to yourself to check this one out.)
This is a very brave post by Stargazer. He’s come out to say that GMing can, sometimes, raise anxiety levels to the point where it’s near impossible to do the task properly. I get that. Every time I launch into a new campaign (even with people that I know well), I get twitchy and nervous and wonder if I’m going to screw it all up. Once I get into the stream of things (usually two sessions in), I calm down a bit and just go with the flow. It’s a weird mental thing that many people go through. For more introspection on what Stargazer is going through, check the link. For once, I recommend reading the comments as well. There’s some supporting and quality information in there as well.
I’ve always struggled with the “personal goals” vs. the “party goals” and keeping them in balance. If a personal goal doesn’t align or mesh well with the party goals (also known as campaign plot arcs), then they tend to get pushed aside. I like Mike’s approach here to give those personal goals some time in the spotlight without focusing on them too much or for too long. This gives everyone a chance to feel personally involved the campaign with it always being about the “big idea” that’s going on in the story.
This is a pretty cool festival generator. I like it and will most likely put it to use next campaign I run. Just a note about these types of generators. Don’t use them literally. That rarely works out for you. Just use them to generate some “idea seeds” that you can germinate and ruminate upon before coming up with a solid idea. Enjoy!