Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2018-01-13 1

Sporadic Saturday SweetnessWelcome to 2018!!! I hope your New Years was happy, warm (or cool if you’re in the southern hemisphere), safe, and filled with the presence of friends and family and gaming.

Earlier this week, I found out that my publisher is moving forward with the production of the audio book for Griffin’s Feather. That was huge news for me! I was so excited, I stayed up late Tuesday night (or was it Wednesday night???) creating a pronunciation guide and mp3s of how to say the various hard-to-say names I used within the novel. I’ve never done something like that before, and I have to admit that it was rather fun.

On the RPG front, I’ve had a rough couple of weeks. In the game I’m running, my intro hook item got thrown way off the rails by a player decision. We didn’t even get into the meat of the adventure before I had to threaten to delete the file, quit the game, take my ball, and go home. It frustrated me to no end. I’m over it, though, but I still need to have a conversation with the player about playing well with others. I’m not looking forward to that.

I also had a high level of frustration in the Pathfinder game I’m a player in. I tried to do a few cool things when the numbers stacked up just right to allow me to pull off some pretty amazing things (like jumping 40 feet to get behind the bad guys. Then the GM found every negative condition possible in the situation to negate my ability to do anything cool. Quite frankly, it pissed me off in the moment because it very much felt like the old junior high games where it was “PCs vs. the GM” in the game style.

I’m thinking about turning these events and learning points into an article for Gnome Stew this month, so I’ll dive into it deeper at that time.

On a higher note, an old GM of mine wants to get a group together. I’m really looking forward to rejoining him at the table. He was one of the best GMs I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing RPGs with, so I’m pretty jazzed to get things rolling on that front.

Enough of my rambling…. Time for some links!


Oddly enough, this article dropped about the time I was thinking about my playing styles in my various groups (see my intro above) and what it all means to me. This is a pretty good breakdown of game group styles by Wendelyn. I like her matrix of style/rules and the cross-sections. I’m pretty sure I land in the “Rules Focused” and “Deep Story” intersection of the matrix. Also, John, Tracy, and Taylor got in the virtual recording studio of GnomeCast, and recorded this episode about the article. I really like what they have to say about the matter.

Beginnings And Legacies

I know this is a bit late (since I’m a week behind on the SSS post), but HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to Mike (and Johnn) on keep Campaign Mastery going for 9 strong years. May many more years come in your future of RPG blogging. I can’t wait to see what year 10 brings. PS: There’s also some pretty good, brief advice on getting started with campaigns, what to do after adventures, and other golden nuggets.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth…

Does a character’s death negate and “waste” all of the time put forth to create, advance, play, and enjoy that character? I don’t think so. There’s no waste there if the player enjoyed the character. It’s like saying the money spent on seeing a movie was a waste because the movie ended as scheduled. There are some exceptions to this. If the character dies almost immediately after creation, then I would say the time spent making the character was a waste. Basically, the PC is going to run off and change the world in some tangible way. This change is what makes the time spent worthwhile, even if the character dies at some point.

The Diversity Of Seasons Pt 1: Winter

Wow. This is an information-packed post. There are tons of details about the various winter weather patterns in and around Mike’s area of the world. The thing that blew me away the most was the wide range of winter weather patterns in such a relatively small area (thinking globally here, not locally, or even regionally). There’s quite a difference there. This post reminded me of my grandmother who consistently had the misperception that if it was raining where she was at, then it must be raining everywhere her loved ones were located. I eventually gave up trying to tell her that it wasn’t raining in Montana (my location) just because she was in a torrential downpour in Texas (her location, roughly 1500 miles away). These conversations about weather my grandmother actually helped me out in game development. I was coding and running a MUD way back in the day, and the open source codebase I used had “global weather,” and I knew that wasn’t accurate, so I wrote code to ensure weather in each zone was using its own weather settings (controlled to some extent by the creator) and allowed neighboring zones to affect each other’s weather patterns to a small degree. My take away from this post is that in my world building, I need to be more cognizant of how my geography and world location can affect weather patterns. I do it to some extent, but not enough.


FAIR! Totally fair. If the players brainstorm with each other on what they might expect in the basement of the haunted house, and their ideas are better than yours…. STEAL THEM! This does two things: 1) You don’t have to come up with the cool stuff. 2) It makes at least one player “right” in their guess about what was hiding down there in the basement, and this validates their intelligence, skill as a player, creative energy, and engages them more into the larger story line you are building together. Pro tip: Don’t get caught doing this and never confess that you’ve done this to your players.

A Map – but not the one you want

This is a cool map. I immediately recognized the outline and patterns of cutting up the map and folding in the right places to make a surface map on a 3D object, more specifically a d12. This is a cool map. I wonder if I’d have the ability to make something like this at some point in the future, but to scale for minis? Wow. Quite an undertaking, right?


As a fiction writer, I’m familiar with the “Chekhov’s Gun” principle. Basically, if you introduce a cool thing in a story, it’s gotta come to play some part in the story at some point. Angela takes the angle that if you introduce a plot seed, it’s gotta be able to grow and impact the campaign in some manner. However, there are times when you need to pay attention to which seeds the PCs are “watering” (e.g.: hooked into or paying attention to) because you quite simply don’t have the time or energy to run about tending to all of these seeds. If you drop a hint at something cool, and the PCs ignore or simply don’t take notice of it, then it’s not vital to the game. Yeah. It’s a seed. It’s cool. You like it. However, if the PCs don’t give a squat about it, then maybe it’s not that important to the overall game…. or you can keep it in your back pocket and release it (most likely in a modified form) back into the story.

Third-Story Run

Cool! Running amok on rooftops while fighting and adventuring. This is stuff legendary rogue stories are made of. I’ve done this in a novel (that I’m currently rewriting), and seen it done in other works (fiction and RPGs and movies), and it’s always captured my attention. Love this map.


I think Tracy nailed it when he said in this article to keep quick-starts simple and elegant. Simplify the rules if necessary. Slowing feed new rules as they become pertinent, advise the players on their abilities, choices, options, and the playing of their character. Never instruct the player on how to play their character, but do provide them with a list of options. While this is all well and good, it’s the story hook for the player (and her/his character) that’s the most important. If the player doesn’t quite “get” the rules and such, that’s fine. If they get the story, setting, characters, stakes, and how they can get involved in all that juicy goodness, they’ll come back. I’ve found that most players are willing to take the time to learn the rules. However, they aren’t willing to sit through a boring intro to a campaign.

The Utility of Average Rolls: A Guest Article by Clinton Hillman

This is a neat article with crunchy math bits, and some sold GM advice sprinkled in. If you need a quick and dirty number for an NPC, take the average unless you have a specific reason to do otherwise. If the party is trying to bust a good guy from jail (or some other “defeat the guards” scenario), and you weren’t prepped for this to go down, don’t waste your time (or the players’ time) creating an NPC or three to show the different levels of competence within the guard corps. Just find some average numbers for your stats, skills, abilities, etc. and run with it. The groups runs into a sergeant? Add one to those numbers. What about a lieutenant? Add 2. Captain? Maybe add 3 or 4. You can even prep the “average man” stats ahead of time before the game starts, and when the group needs to roll against the “average man,” you’ll have the numbers ready and at hand. You can then easily add to or subtract from the average to make the encounter easier or more difficult.

Appearing to do two things while really doing neither

Yeah. I do this. I call it “filling the well.” When my creative mojo runs dry, I tend to fully halt creative projects (RPGs, fiction writing, world building, campaign development, etc.) and spend some time as a player or watching movies or reading books (anthologies are great for me during these times) or watching some cool TV. By ingesting creativity, it fills my well of imaginative juices, and I can proceed forth with my creations after the break. These breaks are usually a week or two long and happen about twice a year. Your mileage, of course, will vary because my brain is not your brain.


Wow! There’s some cool stuff in the pics in this post about creating game pieces from left over or discarded materials. Of course, when you say, “garbage,” most people jump to half-eaten pizza, stinky diapers, and other gross stuff. This is not the “garbage” Tomcollective is talking about here. It’s basically left over stuff and what you can do with it. Going through materials at discount or second-hand stores is also a great idea. There are GOBS of things you can buy on the cheap if you tilt your head, squint your eyes, and look at the materials in a different light.

Reviving Dead Religions

I love this idea of bringing a dead religion back into the world. There are tons of options here, and not only for the deity itself. Are the PCs for the return? Against it? Ambivalent, but it impacts their lives anyway? How does the return (or imminent return) change the world, the PCs, the PCs’ lives? The article does a good job of delving into some of these areas along with what it might take to actually revive a dead religion. It’s given me some ideas to ruminate on that might evolve into a campaign arc. Cool stuff here.

One comment on “Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2018-01-13

  1. Mike Bourke Jan 14,2018 2:11 AM

    Thanks for the links and the congrats, Hungry, and congratulations yourself on the Audiobook. Year 10 being underway, by now you have some sense of what it’s going to be like 🙂

    The other function of the Seasons article series is to find somewhere in the world that’s similar geographically to a location on your game world and thereby be able to “map” our world’s weather onto yours. And I’m sure Clinton will be over the moon at the nice things you’ve had to say about his first-ever article 🙂

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