Sunday, December 19, 2010

When their reputation is on the line

Back for a quick post before the double whammy of Christmas and New Years here in the US. This past week I picked up some Dragon magazines from a used book store and what one of them contained was pretty interesting. I've told you guys to swipe and adapt from various sources, well this time it's closer to home. I speak of Dragon #294, and two of it's articles on catchphrases and reputation. Funny things is they both are penned by the inimitable Robin Laws.

Let's start with catchphrases, lovely bits of dialogue you can adapt to your character, or in my case NPC's, to give them a certain uniqueness. Robin gives you a few tips on coming up with things for your character to say that fit what he/she is all about. Follow up with examples, sorted by race, class, and social status (five a piece) with a gaggle of theological exclamations and ton of free floating catchphrases. He finishes off with a brief (half a page) lesson in creating your own catchphrases, all in all very enjoyable and adaptable to any game!

Next on the agenda is "Adding Injury to Insults" which involves reputation and the loss/gain of it through verbal sparring. This is a bit more difficult to adapt to some systems more than others, due to the "Feats of Wit" featured at the end of the article. I am thinking they may be used with the appropriate skill from 4E D&D, likewise in Savage Worlds. I am still digesting this article but if anyone can point me towards any other articles (or clever games with that mechanic)on reputation, let me know. My players are almost paragon and I want them to feel like they are affecting the world at times.

This brings me to the last bit, today's game, unfortunately it was a bit of a bust as only two people showed up. Instead canceling I had them just role-play one of the encounters I had planned for the group. It was about an acquaintance of theirs (previously a smuggler they met, whom they spared) that is tried to walk the straight and narrow. He asked if they could help him get a job as a singer at Thistlewood's, and up scale inn/tavern.

The Jynx the bard, assisted him in training and the dwarf shaman Brock, scoped out the tavern to see if the proprietor Mister Thistlewood had any weaknesses to be exploited. It seemed he enjoyed heroic songs and spiced tiefling whiskey, so two quick stops were in order, one to a sage to find some really classic songs of heroisim and an importer selling the special whiskey. The day of the audition went well with everything settled, and they now have a contact in the big city with them. I just ran with the story, allowing them to ask questions, giving them replies based on how and who they asked. It seemed to go well, though I'll be glad when we next play and get to roll some dice :)

So, I believe the next post will not be here before the new year, so enjoy the holidays and take care. As always, feel free to leave me a comment.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

No new blog this weekend...

but next weekend, I'll have something. Later folks!

Friday, December 3, 2010


In 2003, I had been checking out a online group for rpg artists, aspiring or otherwise and in there I met an artist named Andy Hopp, and things would never be the same. I had learned of the group through another artist, Beth Trott (check her stuff out, it's amazing ). Well, Andy mentioned he was attending Gen Con, in that first year it was at Indianapolis, and if anyone was attending they were welcome to stop by his booth and talk.

I then went temporarily insane because I decided, with only a week or two before the con, to go there on a Saturday and hang out with him. Skipping all of the headaches with registration, long waits in line, and not knowing what to expect (first Gen Con) I finally arrived with an hour to hobnob. Looking through the artshow, I discovered he was in the dealer's room sharing a table with the legendary (at least to me) Larry Elmore! Upon finding the table I discover not only Andy and Larry, but the equally amazing Jeff Easley and Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. The dealer's room was closing soon, so Andy and I arranged to meet somewhere for dinner.

During Dinner I showed Andy and another artist, Chris Seaman, some art that I had thrown together in a rush. They had some helpful criticism for me but also an idea came to them. If they set up a weekend where they would have various basic art classes, would I go for that. I was floored, they lived only a couple of hours away from me and I felt their work was fabulous so I agreed.

Fast forward to a month later and I was at Andy's house with a dozen or so artists, learning about still lives, perspectives, oil painting, just a lot of basic and some not so basic stuff. We spent the days (Friday through Sunday) learning and practicing our craft and the nights we spent playing games and partying. This became an annual event, eventually culminating in Andy turning it into a small convention known as Con on the Cobb.

I am glad I took that crazy chance all those years ago because since then I have met and befriended many artists and had some wonderful times. I love to create as much as I love to play games, so to have friends who are equally passionate is a blessing. I hope you all have friends whom you can relate to in some deep and meaningful way. Take care, and feel free to comment on anything you have read here!

By the way, here are links for the people mentioned; Andy Hopp Beth Trott Jeff Easley (couldn't find his official site :( ) Stephanie Law Chris Seaman Larry Elmore

Sunday, November 28, 2010

No new post this weekend :(

Sorry, been busy with my family. I will be back next weekend. Thanks ;)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Concering my Sunday game

My 4E game usually gets ran every other Sunday, and I like to play a little fast and loose, meaning I want them to have a say in what happens next (usually, hehe). What usually occurs is I will think about the game for the first week, then the week leading up to the game I come up with various plot hooks I would like to present them. Friday after work I really start pulling together material from different sources, until Saturday night/Sunday afternoon I really buckle down and churn out material. I do a lot of cut and paste documents, nothing fancy just stats for monsters, npc's, traps and hazards.

When I get to the store and set up I am a little nervous, wondering if they will bite or maybe it wont be interesting. Once we get started, though, it just feels right, because what it is all about is entertaining your group and having fun while doing it. So, whether you are playing 4E, Savage Worlds, 2nd edition, or whatever, just have fun. No one can invalidate your fun, so just jump in with both feet and play. Maybe even try and run a game.

Tonight found my players doing some investigation during the first half, speaking with the dwarf ambassador and the local chapter of the Gravedancer's Union (adventurers society). It was the direction they took, which lead them to the big two encounter fight in the second half. The ambassador suggested that they help the city guards out in order to ingratiate themselves with the city. The guard needed a section of sewers cleared of some unseen menace and the pc's agreed. Some role playing and a couple of big fights makes my night a blast, especially when I get to use some accents.

Well enough of this, any comments or questions, please post! Thanks for reading and take care!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Savage Dawn and WoW

Dawn of Worlds (from last week) really has me jonesing to give it a try. To that end I will be looking for a few people to get together with to do it. I will be using Savage Worlds rules and any races I have access to is fair game. This will include races found in the following;Fantasy Companion, 50 Fathoms, Shaintar, and Sundered Skies. I think this gives a broad enough selection, and granted there will be overlap, especially with standard fantasy races such as dwarfs and elves.

I plan on using my battle mat (24"x25") and wet erase markers for the map, maybe take a picture when we are finished and post it here. I am looking forward to this since I have quite a number of setting books for Savage Worlds that will see some use, hopefully Pirates of the Spanish Main.

Once it is completed, I will make some notes, possibly some alterations and then run a game to see how it goes. This may be difficult for the near future, with my Sunday game and the coming holidays so wish me luck.

I play World of Warcraft on occasion (currently playing a paladin tank), and recently the company (Blizzard)has been gearing up for the new expansion, one of the things is elemental bosses you can join others to fight. I fought two out of four of these with out any real problem, just when I went for number three that there was an issue. It is funny how when things go wrong, some folks start calling others names instead of looking for ways to help out.

During the second elemental boss, someone (helpfully) asked if I had Righteous Defense up (a paladin spell), which I did not but should have. I quickly apologized, feeling pretty silly, got the spell up and continued. The next group could barely keep it together and so when it was over I got called noob, and told I shouldn't be playing. This got on my nerves for a bit, then I realized "Who cares". Plus, I won the Awesome shield that dropped, woohoo!

Well, enough of this, any questions or comments, please post and I'll get to them in the order received. Thanks for reading folks!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Co operative Worldbuilding, Oh Yeah!!

Just this past week, I discovered a few episodes of "Gamers Haven" ( concerning co operative world building. Specifically Dawn of Worlds, from, it is basically a game unto itself. The pod casts (there are three in all) have the cast going through the process of building a world. I'll admit that the pod cast does get a little slow, mostly when one of the guys stops to think of what he should do, but overall it is a decent primer for the process.

The PDF is twelve pages, though the rules are only on seven of those pages, and is well thought out. All you will need is a table, big piece of paper, paper for notes, pencils, and a pair of six sided dice. Someone draws a rough landmass on the big piece of paper, everyone rolls to see how much power they start off with and the fun begins. Also, it doesn't matter what game system you are using, except maybe in regards to races available.

Dawn of Worlds is split into three ages; land, races, and relations. Each action has a point cost, so in the land age it is easier to shape land and climate but difficult to create and command races, though not impossible. In the age of races, actions related to civilizations and races are more affordable while the cost to manipulate land and climate rises. The final age (relations) is all about how the different cultures and peoples deal with one another.

All in all it is a fascinating way to come up with a world that kind of ties into the subject of group templates from last week. Just get your group together and get started, the game master has the final say, so while the players know the history of the world, there can still be some surprises. I am looking forward to trying this out sometime soon, using Savage Worlds as a base and I will let everyone know how it goes.

Take care everyone
PS. If anyone has anything they would like to say, please do. I am curious as to how this is being received.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Group Templates! Are they right for you?!?

Groups templates, I had heard of them for awhile now, but only recently have I used one. I was starting a home brew Dungeons and Dragons 4E campaign and decided to use "Return to Northmoor" as a basis for it. is/was an amazing podcast where the DM goes through the material he will be presenting his players, then a bit of actual play, with the DM commenting on how it really went down. Pdf's of the gaming material, notes and monster stats where needed, means you have everything you need to run a session. The pdf pertinent to this post is found in under Group Items and Character Requirements. Since I was not following the main plot of RtN, then my first task was to adapt these to meet my needs.

Another place I heard about group templates was Fear the Boot ( who have blank templates on their resource page. FotB is all class and walks you through the process, though not in a straight line ;).

The thing I love about having a group template is the players are giving me story hooks, ideas I can use to draw them in. I have (and still do) come up with npc's and events that ties them to the world I have created. Instead of limiting the possibilities, it has opened them up.

So, give it a shot and let me know how it went. I would love to hear how it went, especially if you have already used them, whether you are a player or you are the one in charge. See ya later, guys.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Just to let you all know...

This weekend's post is running late, one or two days. I apologize in advance.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Steal this idea!

Hey there, I'm back with a little something to help you out, in case you are having trouble coming up with ideas for your game. Think about an awesome movie/tv show, video game, anything and if there is a cool plot device or story point that you love or maybe you have an old module from AD&D 1st edition or something. Is there a way to fit it into your campaign?

The basis for my campaign I am running is the idea presented in Return to Northmoor ( It was a good launching point and it did some of the work for me while I found my stride. As I moved through the Northmoor stuff I began looking through my RPG collection for things I could adapt, and justify why I still have books for games I don't play, hehe.

Which leads me to "The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh"(U1) a great 1st edition AD&D module from Great Britain. My group accepted a job from the local fort to investigate a haunted house at the edge of the swamp. I turned searching the first and second floors into one long skill challenge, without telling them. Basically they would search a room, if there was something to find and they were made it, I marked it as a success. I removed a lot of combat, trying to keep key moments and give the PC's the feeling that anything could happen. They were checking for traps for most of the search, watching for weak spots in the floor, and looking through books laying around. I'll come visit this game another time, it was a blast!

I play some video games, and have been playing a certain MMO which has a number of amazing and adaptable quests in it. One such quest involves a little ghost girl who asks your character to find the various pieces of her dolly and put it back together. It is really creepy and kicks off a string of quests where you're working towards redeeming an NPC in the game. I needed a little diversion for the next small town the group was coming to and this would do nicely.

The PC's come across some kids who had been checking out a burned out house and thought they'd seen a ghost. Of course the group has to check it out, and a little girl appears, asking if they can find her dolly. A little searching gets them the body of the doll but the head is missing. More detective work reveals that seventeen years ago, a cult of demon worshipers attacked the town, and one of the guards had allowed them to slip past unnoticed. When the villagers defeated these cultists they lynched the guard, who was the little ghost girls father. People remembered he had something in his hand that he dropped when he died. This had occurred in the town's square and when they investigate they are attacked by demons and undead. After the battle they search and find the doll's head. Heading back to the ghost, they present the newly repaired dolly, and she thanks them, then asks them to help her papa. all from some quests from a video game.

So look around, see what you can steal, or draw inspiration from, there's a ton of stuff out there and who knows what kind of awesome you can show your players! :) Take care guys.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy Halloween (looking for a movie?)

Hey there and happy Halloween folks!! It’s that time of year when most folks start watching “scary” movies. Here’s a little site to check out . I use it whenever the urge to watch something different hits me, but it’s perfect for this time of year. Italian zombies, Japanese ghost stories, all kinds of things are here even sections on classic actors (Vincent Price), studios (American International), and even black and white/silent film stuff.

The first section is the Vault and it contains movies that the site owner considers revolutionized the way we watch horror, and I feel he gets it right for the most part. There are 29 movies linked on this page and each subsequent page has info about the film, facts and trivia. At the bottom of the main vault page are several links such as Hammer Horror, Asian Horror, EuroHorror, etc. Each one has a description of the types of cinema and is followed by individual titles (example, Hammer Horror has Curse of Frankenstein starring Peter Cushing, squee!)

The Master’s Chamber is dedicated to directors of the genre, such as John Carpenter, George Romero, and Sam Raimi. Each entry contains a biography and filmography as well as why the owner felt they are masters of the craft. A few of them do not link to anything (I really wanted to read about Tsoi Hark) so apparently there are a few things left unfinished. The Observatory is an actor version with a lot more empty slots so to speak (only Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Gunnar Hansen have information). The Laboratory rounds out these type of pages, this time with special effects, unfortunately only the Tom Savini entry has information.

Horror sub-genres get a look at in the Parlor, specifically vampires, ghosts and aliens. The Dungeon is a links page, in case you need something more specific, or slightly different. Hopefully this has been helpful, informative or at least in some way entertaining. Take care and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Con the Cob 2010

Apologies to everyone, I have been slacking in regards to my poor blog here. I am here to rectify that by telling you about Con on the Cob, an amazing little convention I attended this past weekend. It's a four day event that occurs around Halloween, anytime from mid October to the beginning of November. This year it was October 14th-17th, unfortunately I missed Thursday but was there Friday at noon until closing ceremonies on Sunday.

I cannot plan for conventions, as a rule, and here is why: I don't like disappointment. Years ago I signed up for a few games at Origins and was really looking forward to them. When it came time for them, I was appalled at the (im)maturity level of the some (all in one case) of my fellow players. So now I just see what is available when I get to a con.

I came prepared to play Savage Worlds and 4E LFR, and was a bit disappointed to see the LFR events were two dollars a piece. Which is average for a con but traditionally CotC is usually all about free gaming, and I decided to put my focus into playing SW, especially Sean Patrick Fannon's epic three part Shaintar game he was running (he was also the gaming guest of honor). If anyone knows why LFR was being charged for, let me know or just reply here, I'm sure there was a fine reason, I just wasn't worried enough to investigate.

Shaintar is a wonderful, detailed world that encourages stunts, risk taking, and amazing acts of heroism, even more so when Sean is running. Pregens were available that you could take and level as you played and along the way your character would acquire items and/or titles (Chosen of the Horn, ohmigod!). I missed the first game but got in on parts two and three, eventually getting Chosen of the Horn status for the ogre I played at the end of part three. The great thing about this game is if I play in another game Sean is running, I'll be able to play this character (if it's the appropriate level, of course).

The first part sounded pretty standard, Grayson's Grey Rangers were sent on a mission that dovetailed into the second, and finally third parts. I picked an ogre so I wouldn't have to watch where I stepped, and really, since my ogre (Grolsch) had trouble seeing far away I could afford to be a bit bullish, hehe. At the end of part two we discovered there was a bigger menace than we had previously thought, and soon we were off to save the world.

Part three was even more fun and amazing due to the fact that the game was being played at two tables, up until the climax. Essentially it was two groups working towards the same point, and man it was exciting! I don't want to spoil it for anyone who may play this in the future, and there were some new story elements I believe will be showing up for the first time in the new books coming from Reality Blurs next year. Just be assured, it will be awesome!!

Art is the main focus of the con, though, with artwork and artists hanging around it is inescapable. I was there in the beginning when it was a group of amazing artists, and I'm proud that has grown into this great event I can attend every year. For the art alone, it's worth it and when you add in the comedy music track (Positive Attitude, Worm Quartet, Luke Ski), miniatures (terrain and paint n' take), an amazing children's track, and a lot of gaming. Well, it can be overwhelming, it has to be experienced to be believed.

That's all for now, hope to hear from some of you guys out there.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Oh Origins, how I love thee...

I've just spent the day wandering around Origins Game Fair with my spawn (read kids), and man I had a blast. Previously my youngest would normally be gripping my arm, practically climbing up me due to shyness/nervousness but this time was different. He actually gave me a little breathing room, only grabbing my hand a couple of times.

Just did the family day pass since I have sworn off paying to play with a bunch of strangers. Last time I did that, it was two guys playing female characters in an All Flesh Must Be Eaten (zombie) rpg, and even though the pre-generated cheracter sheets had brief backgrounds on them, they chose to play them like drunken whores. Not that I know how drunken whores act, I am just guessing. So yeah, I highly recommend going to the game library with your friends (miniatures room I think) and finding something to play. I played a couple games of Unspeakable Words by Playroom Ent. (art by my friend Tony Steele, though I didn't realize it at the time) which my friends and I a lot of fun with.

I spent a good deal of time in the exhibitor's hall looking for deals, basically out of print stuff that's dirt cheap. I've found Horrorclix mini's are good for lots of different zombies and other scariness, and I even came across some Mage Knight for some fantasy rpg type mini's. Got a roll of Gaming Paper that I am looking forward to drawing maps on, whee! I picked up some Game Science dice, which baffled my wife and kids, who didn't understand why I was happy to get some. I basically pinned it down to nostalgia, since I had some when I was a kid and they got lost sometime between being a teen and an adult.

Looked for mini's for Sunday night's game, but came up dry. So basically going to the big con for me is all about buying stuff, hanging out with friends, and playing games. Today filled all those requirements exceptionally well, though a few friends were absent, I am hoping I can swing back Sunday for a bit, unfortunately I am busy Saturday. Well, if anyone has a good con story, let me hear it. Until next time, take care everyone.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My kids are ROLE-players? Who knew!

Hello again, this time I'm talking about running rpg's for kids, specifically mine but I'm sure it would apply to others. I have 3 kids, Chris (17), Jade (14), and Ike (12), and they love playing/making up games. A few years ago I ran them through some of Keep on the Borderlands (basic D&D module) using the rules cyclopedia. They explored a kobold cave and the temple of evil, having fun and coming up with some goofy things to try. The one thing that sticks out in my mind was when they entered the kobold cheiftain's room saying they were the cable repairmen. Yeah, that kind of stuff.

The trick is to be entertaining and to be able to roll with whatever craziness they come up with. You don't have to allow everything, just pick your battles, so to speak. The main priest at the keep would ask them about their exploits in the kobold caves with an exclamatory "Do tell." that got my kids laughing, but became creepy when he turned out to be a villain later.

Next came Savage Worlds, and a generic fantasy city I created. I allowed Ike to be a race of his own design, I believe he wasn't all that excited about playing. The race he created was a bird that turned into a person, which we decided was a rarity in this world. They all were playing children and I discovered they enjoyed talking to the npc's alot more than fighting, though they did some off that as well.

I have found that Savage Worlds is a great system for for kids as it is intuitive and not unnecesarily complicated. Plus, bennies are awesome, as evidenced by my youngest's cries of "Benny!" when he rolled poorly. The fact that the target number is a 4 or the target's parry is great along with dice that explode (roll the maximum on a die and you get to reroll it).

For awhile, we played a few different one sheets in different savage settings and the chilluns didn't want to go back to D&D. Which was fine, since it was so easy to run one sheets and Savage Worlds in general. Oh we weren't playing every weekend, that would have been great, but every so often we would sit down and roll some dice and I'd get to try out some outrageous accents.

So, a couple months ago I decided to try Dragon Storm out on my kids and they loved it. I mean, the rules are on one sheet of paper for goodness sake! They loved it even more than Savage Worlds, which surprised me at first. I think the flexibility of the rules allowed them to come up with some really wild stuff and allowed me to roll with some of their wilder moments.

The key (at least for my kids) is to entertain, decide what to let slide and when to put your foot down and say "Dude, come on that's just crazy!" Have the npc's interact, you don't have to do accents, as long as they have different things to say. It's helpful to have a list of names handy so you can make notes like "Germain Firebrand-town guard, likes sweetbread" and so on. The goal is everybody having fun.

Comments are welcome, thanks for reading and take care!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

First Blog! Ran a Low Life rpg.

Hello and welcome to my first posting. I am hoping to have some useful information and if I get some helpful feedback in the process, then that's even better. This afternoon I ran a savage worlds setting called Low Life (by Andy Hopp), which is a post (post, post, post) apocalyptic world where humans are no more and the world is run by werms, croaches, sentient snack cakes and the like. This game was postponed from last week so I was glad it got off the ground today.

I had pre-gens made up for the players and planned on running the the first adventure (Pastor of Puppets) in the plot point campaign. The characters chosen were as follows; Arnul Dru'mond (croach weirdo), Xxoo (obsessed oofo, hoink in training), Churro Fishcake (werm, aspiring price-o-corn),and Glorp Smegulator (pile, hoink). I quickly went over the basics of the character sheet and set the opening scene, which starts at a puppet show focusing on how wonderful the ancient (and extinct) hooman race was. One of the audience members doesn't particularly care for that and things go downhill from there. In more ways than one, as combat ends with the first player to attack taking the bad guy out in one massive shot.

You see, when you roll the maximum you can roll on a die, you get to reroll, until you stop maxing, and that is what happened. Oh well, plenty more action to be had as this was only the beginning. Bennies were the next big thing the players picked up on, as some of there rolls were bad, this let them try again. Once they learned how they could earn more bennies, they were all over that, cracking some real groaners.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and I asked what they though as we wrapped up. The response was positive and they wanted to come back for more :) Let me know what you all think, the next one will most likely be about my D&D 4e game. Take care and thanks for stopping by.