Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2018-01-21 4

Sporadic Saturday SweetnessA few things are going on this week.

Looks like I’ll be a player in an upcoming Classic Traveller game that’s launching soon. We’re still working on the logistics (day, time, players, etc.), but it’s looking promising. I’m really looking forward to some classic gaming. I’ve only played in one Traveller game, and that was during high school (late 80s/early 90s), so it’s been a while. I’ve flipped through the rules and character creation system. None of it is familiar to me, so I know it’s been a while. Time to polish off the “learn a new RPG” skillset and get to learning!

I also found out that my novel, Griffin’s Feather, is going into production as an audiobook. That’s very exciting news. I received 3 auditions. The first was good, but didn’t have the tonal quality I was looking for to represent my main character. The second was pretty far off since it had a pseudo-European (New Englander?) accent to it. The third, however, blew me away! The narrator’s baritone voice had an edge to it (like my character), and he added the right emphasis to the right words at the right times. I loved his audition, and I really hope my publisher is able to make a deal with him.

I think that’s about it for news, so on with the links!

Let’s Do Something Radical…. More House Rules for D&D

This is an interesting concept from Mike about how to simplify attacks/damage on a creature, but give a cinematic feel to the creature. I could delve into the approach and math here, but I’d basically be doing a copy/paste of his article. I’m not going to do that since there’s a link right above this words that will take you to his post. I tried this out on a few monsters from the bestiary, and it seemed to work just fine in my mock combats that I set up. However, I would reserve this approach of attacks/damage modification for important creatures. Like the “boss” at the end of an adventure or story arc. Perhaps a particularly nasty foe that is “randomly” found while traveling or some such. Cool idea. Thanks, Mike! (NOTE: This approach should work for most flavors of D&D since version 3, and will work for Pathfinder and most d20 systems as well.)

The Diversity Of Seasons Pt 2 – Winter (cont)

More winter talk! This time, Mike is tackling South America. I love this series of articles. I have to admit that it’s a bit encyclopedic. I’m learning while reading, but most of the mental notes I’m making are where to find the information in the article when I need it for future reference. This series is going to go in my “permanent bookmarks” under my “world building reference” folder. This way, I can peek into the folder when I’m creating a giant jungle-based area near the equator, and spot the bookmark for “South American Winter.” (Yes, I sometimes rename bookmarks to make it easier to find them later.) This will allow me to quickly look up what Mike is teaching and run with it from there. Thanks for the articles thus far, Mike. I’m looking forward to the rest!

GM 101: Why is Session Zero Important?

I know what Session Zero is. I’ve read many articles and sections of books about it. I’ve even written about it. However, I completely screwed up my most recent Dresden Files RPG Session Zero. I didn’t set expectations about who the good guys would be, who the list of bad guys might be, and the characters are only loosely tied together (yes, even for a Dresden Files RPG game, the ties are loose). Because Session Zero failed, I’m afraid the rest of the campaign is going to fail. As GM, I screwed it up. I let the players run with their ideas during the city building phase, but offered little in the way of guidance. I basically played the role of “note taker” and took down their ideas. Live and learn, right? Do it better next time, right? If you want to avoid the pitfall that I stepped into, I highly recommend this article.

Rewarding The Game Master – A Simple Framework

GMs need rewards too! Yes. Yes, they do. Johnn has some excellent tips here on how to “gamify” the reward system for the GMs. Like with Mike’s article above, I could copy/paste the contents here, but that’s not the point. Go check out the excellent ideas for yourself. I really like this approach. I’ll admit that I’m burning out on GMing and might be stepping away from that role for a few months to refresh, reset, fill the well, and get back into it. If I do step away, I’ll be coming back with this article in mind.

Dungeons & Dormitories

Ecological interactions in RPGs are typically limited to the wilderness-type areas. We all know that introducing a foreign species into an ecosystem can radically change it (usually for the worse), and we know that different critters in the same area will most likely interact with one another. This is pretty much a given in gaming. However, the interactions of monsters in the dungeon-based ecosystem are largely overlooked. The quality dungeons that exist out there are the ones where different critters (or even the same critter in different areas) interact with one another. Perhaps the kobolds will ally with the party against the goblins, but will turn on the party if they take on the ogres because the kobolds look up to the ogres as big brothers or protectors? This post by James has a handy chart at the bottom for looking up (or randomly generating) interactions and behaviors between different groups found within a dungeon.

How To Level Up Players With Reward Systems

All 5 of the major points Johnn brings up in this article are spot on. I think he saved the most important one for the #5 spot, but all of them are worth reading about, noodling on, and getting use at the table.


I love Ang’s article because we’re not always going to want to be the GM. If we’re the only GM in the group… and we don’t want to GM… then there’s no game. That’s never a good thing. I’ve seen entire groups dissolve because the GM burned out. Heck, I’ve done that. I’ve stepped away from groups because I was too busy, too tired, too… well… everything to continue on as GM, and no one else would step up, so suddenly 6-8 people were out of a game. That’s not a good thing for those people or the hobby. This is why we need to cultivate and support new GMs in role playing. Ang has some great ideas in this article on how to go about recruiting, advising, cultivating, and improving a new GM. Well with your time to read.

The Halls of Taqash Thesk

This is a pretty cool map. Throws me back to my days as a child reading adventures, drawing maps, and adventuring through crazy mazes and dungeons we threw together. One of my gaming buddies from elementary school and junior high managed to snag an engineering pad from his father (his father designed microprocessors for some large tech firm), and this thing was huge. The pad measured 3 feet by 2 feet, and had 5 squares per inch in the grid. It was amazing for creating dungeons. Apparently the paper was also expensive because my buddy’s father wouldn’t snag more of them from work for each of us to have one. I did manage to get a few of the sheets off of the pad and drew crazy dungeons and castles and cities and such on it. I wish I still had those sheets of drawings and maps, but that was a long time ago and with the sheets being that size, they were probably unwieldy to move. I bet I left them behind somewhere during one of my many moves or trashed them. Ah well….

4 thoughts on “Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2018-01-21

  1. James Introcaso Jan 22,2018 6:05 AM

    Hey thanks for sharing my blog post! Keep up the awesome work here!

  2. Mike Bourke Jan 25,2018 1:09 AM

    As always, I appreciate the promotion and the feedback, JT! I should warn, though, that the “Winter” articles are NOT broken up by geographic location. I started south and am progressing north. Part 1 starts in Antarctica, travels through Australia, and then pops up in North Africa. Part 2 starts in South America, heads through the Carribbean, and then tramples over the continental US. That continues in Part 3, and then I head into Asia and Southern Europe. Europe will continue in Part 4, before circumnavigating the upper latitudes – Siberia, Alaska, and then back into Europe. And then I start all over with Spring. That stems from my initial impression that Latitude and the local geography have a greater influence over the weather than most people think. I’m not quite so convinced of the first of those influences now, Brazil threw up some evidence that argues that it’s an oversimplification! But the intent was always to produce a must-read reference.

    I thought about suggesting that the rules tweaks of ‘Something Radical’ be restricted to major encounters while writing the article, and decided against it. First, because the change of rules would telegraph to players that this WAS to be a major encounter; second, because having two different rules systems to do the same thing seems excessive and confusing; third, because it’s the compounding of effects on the PCs from lesser encounters that makes the difference all the more significant when dealing with the more important ones; and fourth, because less-important encounters outnumber the more-important ones, and a key attribute of the different rules is the greater speed of combat. But I’m glad that the changes seem to pan out in your tests – theory is always one thing, reality often another!

    • J.T. Evans Jan 25,2018 1:02 PM

      You make some great points about the “Something Radical” article. Changing up the rules will definitely call out that the critter the party is fighting is something special.

      Glad to see your plan for the weather articles. Sounds like a solid plan to me, but you’re right. The South American section did seem to throw off the theory a bit. 🙂

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