2011/12/29

Role Playing 101 #8: NPC Interests Behind the Scenes

Last time we considered how you can use a framework, or a sandbox as a starting point for adventures. Such a framework outlines the most important non-player characters, locations, and possible enemies and stakes from which adventures may arise. Also, it gives a lot of freedom for the players to determine what and how the adventure will be. That's nice. But once you have the framework, how do you proceed?

What Do the Other People Do?
Personally, I like to look at the main non-player characters, or non-player interest groups. Main npc's can be the local king, baron or warlord. Or a powerful wizard, tradesman, bishop or even a monster – preferably an intelligent species. Interest groups can be the trade guild, a gang of slavers, the city guard, the kings guard, a mercenary war band, an organised crime group, the church, town hall, an industrial cartel, a hidden organisation of priestesses, a band of cultists, the secret police, and so on.

Whenever players act (or don't act), I try to think: what will the npc's and interest groups do? Will they notice the player characters? What will they do about them? Will they contact them, be pleased and go at their own business, be angered, annoyed, shocked? Will they send in assassins, or instead send a head hunter to hire them, or seek an alliance?

Take It One Group at a Time
Try to start out with just a few npcs and interest groups, and move them about on the imaginary playing board of your world. Make sure that at least a few will at some time turn out as enemies, or allies to the player characters. Make them have conflicting interests, also with eachother. And figure what the players might see, hear and notice of the ongoing conflicts, dealings and secret alliances.

Maybe the players will witness how a slaver band captures the daughter of the innkeeper (actually a mistake). Then they see how the city guard stands idly by (they have a conflict with the innkeeper, and one city guard works with the slavers). The heroes may protest with the mayor about the guard, and the mayor may then reprimand the guards. Next the heroes are hired by the innkeeper to rescue his daughter. The one city guard in league with the slavers sneaks out at night to meet with his fellows (and might be followed by a hero). The slavers meanwhile realize their mistake, and make plans to get rid of the daughter (the heroes may be witness, or they may learn later). And so on.


What if You Forgot Someone?
Sometimes you'll find that you forgot about an npc or interest group. Players may ask you why they didn't do anything. In that case, you may do several things – besides frankly admitting that you forgot. One is to say that they were too occupied to intervene or act, or that they had missed what happened – npcs can surely make mistakes too. Another is to smile enigmatically, and think of a cooler reason why the interest group didn't turn up. Maybe they have a secret friendship, an ulterior motive, or maybe they are scared of something or someone that was present. Maybe they care less than they seemingly did. Or maybe the players received help from a third party, who intervened and stopped the missing npc or group. But I didn't have to say so, did I? Because you already thought that up beforehand, and that's why they were not there... That's what the players will find out next time. That's the secret of the Game Master.

2011/12/24

Free Adventures: Ammersfurt #35, The Secret

It's Christmass!
And here is the final part of the series of...
The Secret of Ammersfurt is a free role playing supplement for the Dark Dungeon 2nd Ed game. Every week for thirty-five weeks, you'll get new bits for the Ammersfurt adventure setting, like monsters, NPC's, locations, skills, character templates, role play tips, and so on. And also every week, you'll get an adventure seed, which you can turn into a weekly adventure.

Adventure Seed 35: The Secret of Ammersfurt

Somehow uncanny luck is with the heroes. Malegys, the elusive mage has been captured. He is sick and wounded, and he fears that he will turn into a vampyre. His neck is bleeding, and he coughs up greenish slime. While all are in the commanderie, Malegys then even pleads the heroes for help. Find a cure for him, and he wil share the “Secret of Ammersfurt” with them. Because, he says, he has finally found it out. All they will need is St. Anfrid's cross.


Download the thirtyfifth part of The Secret of Ammersfurt here!

2011/12/22

Role Playing 101 #7: Game Mastering with The Framework

Many game masters start out running linear games. You start at a beginning scene, proceed scene after scene in a predetermined order, and end with the predetermined finale. Maybe the outcomes of each scene - or room, or sublevel, or level, or subquest – are not entirely clearcut, but you either win or lose, or win some and lose some. It's a one way ticket. Or a railroading game.

Railroading or Sandboxing?
That's not necessarily bad. But the lack of choice may annoy some players. And they may rightfully feel that they could just as well play a computer adventure instead of showing up at the game table.
So, there is the other extreme, which is often called a Sandbox game. I'm not sure if that's because it's like kids playing in a sandbox. But it does involve giving the players power to decide what the adventure is about. You want to go down the Tomb of Horrors? Cool. You want to wreck the town nearby? Fine. You want to explore the seven seas and smuggle green skinned aliens? Fine. You want to save the world economy with a diplomatic campaign among the nobility and their bankers? Great.

Sandboxing can be Scary
But running a sandbox game may scare most game masters. Because you either have to know and understand the world in detail, or you must be able to make it up as you go. And be consistent. For most of us, who may have trouble understanding the real world already, that's quite a feat you're asking.

So how do you pull it off? Scetching adventure worlds until you're ready? That may take decades. And be sure that the first thing your players will do is to jump on a space ship and travel to another world.

One solution I use is to scetch a rough framework of the game world, and fill in the details as I go along. And while I game master I make notes, so I may remember what I thought up later. In between sessions I try to guess where my players will want to go next, and do some research. Or instead, I decide for the players where they will go next, and do the same preparation.

So Where to Begin?
For example, I could decide that the first adventure session will take place around the town of Soest. So, if possible I'll have a rough idea of what the town looks like (I took a map of the real town Soest in Germany). Or at least what's special about the town (many buildings are made from green stone). I'll decide what kind of fellow the mayor is (tall and skinny, and a sneaky thief, named Herr Weymarck). Where the town inn is located (across the town square next to the church). Who the innkeeper and his daughter are (an amiable old Jew, with a somewhat naive daughter who talks with dead people – while she doesn't realize they're dead). What the main church looks like (a huge church and abbey of St. Patroklos, mostly in green stone, with a huge crypt under it, which is sealed because there are undead down there). Who the abbot is (a tall viking like fellow named Harald, who is smart but blends in the background). And what the general area looks like (mostly forests with a moon shaped lake in the south, between the low hills, maybe infested with monsters). What are the neighbouring towns (Paderborn, Dortmund and Koln – always easy to pick a real map). What is the country like (medieval Germany – but with orcs, vampyres and dragons).
Since there is a big church of saint Patroklos, I also look up the saint in Wikipedia, to jog my imagination a bit more. I notice the man was hunted in France, and there was a connection with dragons. As a twist I figure it would be cool if St. Patroklos was a dragon himself, and that's why he was hunted. Maybe that's why his bones are special too, and made a relic.

Fleshing Out the Framework
With this background, I can easily provide a few alleys for adventure. The heroes could be asked to clean out the undead in the crypt of St. Patroklos church. Or one of the heroes could become Schutzfrau of the town as an inheritance, and find out that the mayor robbed the town treasury. Which in turn might lead to him trying to kill the heroes off with a hired assassin. And why are building stones green? Are they poisonous perhaps? Maybe there is a problem with vampires, or with a roaming army of orcs. If so, I'll have to make up who hired this army. Wouldn't it be a cool twist if that was the Kaiser of Germany himself? Then there would be human mercenaries in the army that might point out that fact (let's call their leader Hagen, a ruthless plate clad tactician). The army might stage a full scale attack, and we get a siege adventure where the heroes have to defend the town. Maybe they also have a spy in the town. The boyfriend of the mayor's daughter perhaps. And so on.

As you may see, I don't fill in most of the details until I need them. I could, just for fun, fill them in before play. But I don't have to.

The framework provides a backdrop where my players can choose to do their own thing. And if I want, I can also run a normal adventure, with start, ending, enemy and stakes – on top of the background. In that way the backdrop and the straight adventure are intertwined. The one provides color for the other.

Next time: How NPC's and PC's can change the game world. Continually.

2011/12/17

Free Adventures: Ammersfurt #34, Grave of the Dragon

The Secret of Ammersfurt is a free role playing supplement for The World Beyond. Every week for thirty-five weeks, you'll get new bits for the Ammersfurt adventure setting, like monsters, NPC's, locations, skills, character templates, role play tips, and so on. And also every week, you'll get an adventure seed, which you can turn into a weekly adventure.

Adventure Seed 34: The Grave of the Dragon

As a final find in the old text, there is a pointer to the actual grave of St. Ansfrid. The grave was not where the knights always thought it was, but it is instead in the commanderie of St. Joris itself. When one of the heroes curiously goes for a look, he finds that the heavy unmarked grave stone has been removed. Only a few moments ago. Something lies in the grave, four feet down.

Download the thirtyfourth part of The Secret of Ammersfurt here!

2011/12/15

Role Playing 101 #6: Game Mastering in Scenes

Last issues we looked at quick and dirty adventures. But what if you have a little more time, or want to be more specific and structured in what you're doing? Then you can game master in scenes.

Any adventure can be broken into scenes. Each scene is characterised by a kind of action, and each scene in a role play adventure is bound to an encounter (not necessarily with something living or undead), and a location. An average session has somewhere between three and ten scenes, each lasting somewhere between 20 minutes and an hour.

A Scene: Action, Encounter, Location
So, you can have action scenes, combat scenes, chasing scenes, travelling scenes, problem-solving scenes, diplomatic scenes, spying scenes, horror scenes, role playing scenes, or even love scenes if your players dare. Actually any action you can think of could be the basis of a scene.

And then you can combine actions with encounters and locations. Like a chase scene on dragon mounts fleeing a horde of angry wyverns. Or a combat scene with a hostile city guard on the city walls. Or a horror scene with ghosts in a haunted house. Or a diplomatic negotiation with a gang of Uruks on top of a cliff. And so on.

Thinking in what kind of scene you are doing, or needing next, can help you structure your game. Are you in a slow scene? Maybe you need a fast paced action or combat scene next to keep your players awake. Have the idea your players are out of breath combat scene after combat scene, and they can't figure out your plot? Give them some breathing space with a friendly encounter in a role playing scene.

Scripting your Game in Scenes or No?
Some game masters even prefer to map out their entire game beforehand. They write out each scene before the adventure starts, at least in encounter, location, and what is to happen. With my group however that's not very useful. Typically they try to have their own agenda, and steer the adventure where they want it to go. If I try to force my set of scenes on them they just go renegade or end up frustrated – and then frustrating me.

What I often do however, is prepare a rough set of scenes – or encounters – that I can use in the adventure. Which scenes I end up using then depends on the moment, and the actions of the players. Often, the real adventure turns out quite different from what I prepared. That's part of the fun and the surprise.

Try thinking in scenes next time you run a game, while keeping start, end, enemy and stakes in mind. And see if it helps you keep grips and have more fun!

2011/12/10

Free Adventures: Ammersfurt #33, Saint Anfrid's Heritage

The Secret of Ammersfurt is a free role playing supplement for The World Beyond. Every week for thirty-five weeks, you'll get new bits for the Ammersfurt adventure setting, like monsters, NPC's, locations, skills, character templates, role play tips, and so on. And also every week, you'll get an adventure seed, which you can turn into a weekly adventure.

Adventure Seed 33: Anfrid's Heritage

The same text that revealed the fighting cross of St. Joris also reveals that there is another relic left. A coin that St. Anfrid always had with him. It never occurred to the master of the order before, but this coin, which is still kept in a box in Lusidinium is mentioned in the writings. The one that can wield the coin, may bring a new time and place for the Knights of St. Joris the legends say. The master of the order asks our heroes to go forth and gather the coin in Lusidinium at the Heiligenbergh.



Download the thirtythird part of The Secret of Ammersfurt here!

2011/12/08

Role Playing 101 #5: Quick and Dirty Adventure Building, part II

Have you had a chance to wing a quick and dirty adventure yet? Yes? How did it go? No? No matter, you will have many opportunities. And, with the three extra ingredients in this post, your quick and dirty adventure may be even better.

Last time we talked about the four main ingredients: beginning, what's at stake, the enemy, and the ending. This time we deal with colour, ally and twist.

Colour
Anything that adds a special taste to your adventure is colour. It may be the special setting, that you describe in detail. Or a special setting that players may recognize from a book, movie or holiday. It may be the funny actions of non player characters, or the funny voices you give them. It may be the typical actions of the enemy, the signature he always leaves, the strange costumes he wears, the inexplicable hatred he has of one of the heroes. It may be the music you play in the background – be it symphonic rock or moody film score. Or it may be the map you quickly scribbled on a piece of paper, or the pictures you quickly grabbed from internet to evoke the right mood.

Ally
Especially in a longer adventure, the heroes will need help. They will need an ally, or multiple allies. The best allies are worked out like player characters, like the master enemies. Typical allies may be friendly heroes, city guard, nobles, mercenaries, fairy godmothers, vague wizards, and so on. They can even be a character you play when you are playing instead of game mastering. Allies may show up as a patron – someone who hires the heroes – or they may trot along with the group, at least some of the way. Allies are also an excellent way to keep the players on track in the adventure, and steer them a bit in the right direction. Or the wrong direction, if you feel they go to fast or become complacent.


Twist
No true exciting story goes without a surprise. And that's what the twist is. Any surprise may do. But the best surprises are those which change the premises of the story. An ally can turn out to be an enemy, or the enemy can turn out to be an ally. That what is at stake may be trumped up, or change – like when you find out that the treasure is actually a lethal dragon. Or when you find out that while you were rescuing the princess, the enemy now is attacking your home city with an army. Or allies may turn out to be temporary enemies, like when the law is chasing you for crimes you did not commit. Or maybe you did commit the crimes, but they made sense because they were against the enemy. Study stories and movies for the many twists that are possible. And have at least one in your adventure. Maybe more.

There, this should make your Q&D adventure a lot more special already. Now, for good measure, let's try an example.

The heroes meet in a roadside inn on their way back from last adventure (beginning). Here they witness the kidnapping of the innkeepers daughter (stakes) by incredibly strong orcs. These orcs are led by a wizard who calls himself Orcus (enemy). As the adventure unfolds, the game master plays the music score from Lord of the Rings (colour), and the heroes traverse a forest full of spooky creatures (colour). The other daughter of the innkeeper joins the heroes on their quest, and it turns out she can fight and steal exceptionally well (ally). However, before the heroes reach the tower where Orcus has his army, they interrogate a wounded orc, who explains that the two sisters stole a magick orb from his master (twist). Orcus now tries to get the orb back by threatening the kidnapped daughter. While the heroes will make up their mind who they will help, they enter the tower for a final showdown with Orcus (ending).

2011/12/04

Free Adventures: Ammersfurt #32, The Fighting Cross

The Secret of Ammersfurt is a free role playing supplement for the Dark Dungeon 2nd Ed game. Every week for thirty-five weeks, you'll get new bits for the Ammersfurt adventure setting, like monsters, NPC's, locations, skills, character templates, role play tips, and so on. And also every week, you'll get an adventure seed, which you can turn into a weekly adventure.

Adventure Seed 32: The Fighting Cross of St. Joris

The old text that was found in the Ylversum tower contains very intriguing stories. {If no book was found in the last adventure, find it in the dusty library of the commanderie of St. Joris.} One is about the “fighting cross of St. Joris”. Which should be somewhere in, or near Ammersfurt, as it was brought from the holy lands by St. Anfrid. Could it still be here? The relic could certainly mean a lot to the order, Ammersfurt, and even the heroes. Together they sit down by candlelight and try to decipher the old texts.

Download the thirtysecond part of The Secret of Ammersfurt here!

Art by renaissance champion Rafael: St. George and the Dragon.

2011/11/30

Role Playing 101 #4: Quick and Dirty Adventure Building, part I

Have you ever been stuck, minutes before starting a game session? No ideas where to start? No idea how to do it? Or have you ever wanted to master an adventure, but found yourself procrastinating endlessly? Here are some things I do to get myself into an adventure, sometimes even after play has started.


Making the Instant Adventure
To do an evening – or afternoon – of adventure, you need to have a few things. You need a beginning, a sense of what's at stake, an enemy, and an ending. At the very least you need these four. And if you wish to do a little better, you also need colour, an ally, and a twist. All you need is an idea of each of these things, and you can make up the rest on the spot. Just be consistent.

Beginning
For the beginning it is important that you get the player characters together. To work together, to basically like or at least tolerate each other, and if possible to stay physically in the same group – most of the time. One way to do this is to let them be invited by someone who asks their favour – a patron. He or she can explain what's at stake – or what the mission is, and propell the adventure forward. The patron may also be one of the player characters. In practice that can work quite well, because you have a player who will help you keep the group aligned.

Another good way to begin is to throw the characters into the action. They are in the mission already, or they are drawn in because the stakes unfold before their eyes. A princess may be kidnapped in front of them, or you may tell them that they are guarding a caravan, or on the way to convince an enemy Duke not to attack their home country – and now his troops try to capture them. Action has the advantage of drawing the attention of the players, and thus you gain momentum in your game.

What's at Stake
You must know what the adventure is about. Is it about honour of the clan, the lost treasure of an ancient king, saving the lives of friends or fellow citizens, or what? This is what the players have to fight for to “win” the adventure. Make it as concrete as possible. And if you can try to hook the stakes to the personal history of each of the player characters.

Enemy
The enemy is the person, entity, force of nature, army or monster – or any combination thereof – that tries to take that what's at stake away from the adventurers. These are the creatures and forces that will provide combat encounters, nasty face downs, dangerous situations, treacherous conversations and dazzling chases. The master enemy should have statistics and quirks like a player character. Make them up on the spot if you have no time. Or if you're lazy, pick an old enemy. These often even work better.

Ending
Every session needs an ending. Not just every adventure, but every session – a good ending is often a reason to come back the next time. A typical ending involves a showdown with the enemy. Or a chase after the enemy. Or a running away from the enemy, or the forces of nature, while trying to save what's at stake. An ending is a climax in a way. And if you can, stage it in a special location, such as on a cliff, in a throne room, or a dragons lair. Make sure you start the ending scene (or scenes) about an hour before you have to wrap up the session. And if your heroes aren't even close to ending the adventure by then, make an intermediate ending, with a cliffhanger. One where an enemy escapes, for example.

So, now you have the main four ingredients, give it a try. Wing it! Next time I'll deal with the other three: colour, ally and twist.

2011/11/28

Pick #70: PlayElf

Ever sat bored at the screen and typed in "PlayElf" in the search engine? I just did.

And I see I'm not the only one to have thought up this silly joke - on "PlayBoy" or "PlayGirl". There's at least three separate sites displaying playelves. (Warning: Nudity may scare some people, so look at your own risk).

The most artistic by far is Play Elf Gallery by Håkan Ackegård, with ElfQuest-like humorous drawings. The picture displayed is also his.


Another is Spanish, with typical nude picture covers of women with longer ears - its best joke being that it's not to be sold to those under age of 100. Too hot to handle for younger elves obviously. The art of this german issue may be better (scroll down). Or take this one on DeviantArt.


If you'd prefer to watch nude men, there's also the cover art work of Sabreyn on DeviantArt, with some tongue in cheek texts.


And if you can speak Swedish, you might even try this "male chauvinist role playing game"...

2011/11/26

Free Adventures: Ammersfurt #31, Dragon Tower

The Secret of Ammersfurt is a free role playing supplement for the Dark Dungeon 2nd Ed game. Every week for thirty-five weeks, you'll get new bits for the Ammersfurt adventure setting, like monsters, NPC's, locations, skills, character templates, role play tips, and so on. And also every week, you'll get an adventure seed, which you can turn into a weekly adventure.

Adventure Seed 31: The Ylversum Tower

Near the village of Ylversum, in the forest, is a mysterious, tall stone tower without any entrances, except one at three hundred feet height, all the way at the top. Nobody knows why the tower was built, but it stands as long as people can remember. Most folk say it is a ghost tower, or a magick tower. And since the stormy night a few weeks ago that seems to be more than true. Dark clouds hang around the tower, lightning keeps striking it, and a dragon has been seen landing at the top. The heroes come to see what's true of the stories.


Download the thirty-first part of The Secret of Ammersfurt here!

2011/11/25

Role Playing 101 #3: Do You Dungeon Bash or Do you Tell Stories?

 When you play old style Dungeons & Dragons, or Tunnels & Trolls, the main story line is usually something like this:  Long ago, an evil wizard named Whatshallwecallit built a complex of tunnels under the city – or under the Harz mountains. He filled it up with monsters, evil creatures, and deadly traps. He hid a secret treasure away too and locked himself up on top of it. And now his evil threatens to take over your nondescript home town with pleasant peasants and fancy fairies. Your task, as the heroes, will be to go into his underground realm and beat the unlife out of him and his minions, meanwhile collecting enough treasure to cause hyperinflation in the local economy.    

Sounds familiar? Even though such a storyline doesn't necessarily make much sense, many players including myself revelled in it. It provides just enough rationale for testing your wits and having plain fun while tabletopping with your friends and throwing a lot of dice. You can play a grumpy dwarf, a brooding ranger, or a haughty elf making snide remarks to your fellow characters, and bash away your weeks frustrations while you bash away at the skulls of your virtual designated evil enemies.  

This kind of game is not supposed to be too real. Its a hack and slay, search and destroy mission.

The Next Step is Story Telling  


But after a while, some players at least may find that their heroes develop backgrounds. Backgrounds above ground. Backgrounds that have very little to do with sprawling mazes underground or neurotic necromancers locking themselves up to wreak havoc on the world. And that's where the root of a totally different sort of adventure lies. Adventure maybe without necessarily bashing your enemies, without going underground, without collecting treasure even. Adventure with other rewards.   

But saving the kingdom – perhaps your own – or your family, or your family's honor, or maybe world peace, are all things that may become goals. Tasks may be to identify a killer in a metropolitan city or at a feast in a remote mansion. To guard an envoy on a diplomatic mission, or even to do the diplomatic mission yourself, and meanwhile find out who is trying to thwart a peace deal, or what's really rotten in the state of Denmark. It might be to conduct war, and to do battle on the battlefield. It might be to travel through the wilderlands to save your true love, or keep her from marrying Prince Pumpernickel. No treasure needs be involved, no monsters, no combat. It's the story that becomes important, and the development of character perhaps.   

Role playing games outside the fantasy setting more often follow this pattern. Like sci-fi games, horror games, games based on movies or books. Maybe because a trap and monster laden dungeon makes little sense in such a setting, or maybe because these settings allow a different way of playing. But fantasy usually falls back to the dungeon. The Dark Dungeon game is an exception in this for a fantasy role playing game – one not specifically based on a book or movie. It is less fit for a straight dungeon bash, although you can use it for that purpose. No, Dark Dungeon is a fantasy game made for playing stories.   

Leaving the dungeon and entering the realm of stories gives a lot of freedom. Possibilities. New realms to explore, and other ways of having fun, and experiencing surprise. But where do you begin? Freedom also gives choices, and how to make these choices so that you actually have an exciting adventure? That question I hope to answer at least partly in following posts.

2011/11/21

Pick #69: Delta Green, Cthulhu goes WWII

Actually looking for something not quite related, like obscure secret service sections in World War II, I stumbled along an intriguing fansite. Delta Green. It concerns itself with source materials for Call of Chthulhu (never sure how to spell this critter), but for a period which is usually ignored in the regular CoC game. The second Great War to end all wars. A brief scan gives me the impression that the research is well done. Especially as I didn't notice until quite late that it was gaming material instead of regular history stuff.

If you dare, the setting is allows for quite dark and powerful adventures. Just imagine combining the real horrors of the war with the imagined ones... 't Will be a challenge not to make it too sick, but there's opportunity to go to unknown realms of the mind too.

Sadly, the site seems to be dying a slow death, just like its Yahoo mailing list and companion blog -or at the very least its dormant. Have a look if you feel like exploring unknown horrors of 39-45. I wonder if Gil Trevizo is still having stuff for this project, and whether the planned supplement  "Our Darkest Hour" did come to fruition. My google skills so far fail to find it!

2011/11/19

Free Adventures: Ammersfurt #30, The Hanged Men

The Secret of Ammersfurt is a free role playing supplement for The World Beyond. Every week for thirty-five weeks, you'll get new bits for the Ammersfurt adventure setting, like monsters, NPC's, locations, skills, character templates, role play tips, and so on. And also every week, you'll get an adventure seed, which you can turn into a weekly adventure.

Adventure Seed 30: The Hanged Men
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Since the judgement on the Hof a few weeks have passed. And the sentenced criminals have been hanged on hangman's hill, also known as the “Berg” (mount), just south of the city. It is not a nice sight, but such seems to be the way to deal with bad crime. And then, after an exceptionally stormy night, one of the heroes passes the gallows on the forested hill. The hanged men and women are all gone. The gallows are empty. Crows are everywhere. A stench permeates the air. But there is no dead body to be found. What happened?


Download the thirtieth part of The Secret of Ammersfurt here!

2011/11/17

Role Playing 101 #2: What's Your Play Style?


Maybe it's just one game, but you can play it many different ways. See if you can recognize your own play style(s) in the ones below.

The power player
These play the game to “win”. To become powerful. To be the mightiest. The best. The one with most magic items and treasure. Sometimes they want to play fair, sometimes they don't care. Most players start out this way, because in general games tend to be competitive. So you're supposed to win, right? Well, no. Role playing games are not really about winning or losing. The're much more about cooperating – with the exception of player killing online games maybe, but would you call that role play? So, most gamers evolve further, to new goals.

The puzzle player
Plots, intricate intrigue, politics and diplomacy, cloak and dagger, murder mysteries, complicated storylines with lots of twists – or just plain riddles and puzzles to solve. All of these can motivate the puzzle player. And to be honest, most role players are smart enough to like this style. It's just very much dependent on the Game Master whether it's possible. He or she will have to provide the brain crunch.

The playground player
For this style of play the game is mostly an excuse to be together with friends and have a good time. The game world is mostly a playground to do silly things, prank, make jokes, dream up cute pets, and test zany magic items. Story shouldn't be too heavy handed, nor should winning be a goal, except maybe as part of a vengeful prank. Few gamers survive on this style alone. But especially as a change from everyday heavy handedness, some prefer it.

The simulationist
To recreate as it was is the main motive here. This can be a historic simulation, like in portraying knightly or Christian virtues as they maybe were. Or maybe political or economic, or tactical combat situations. Detail often becomes very important, as do (long) descriptions. Only if the game master also is running a simulation game, this style is possible. So it tends to be rare.

The role player
The true role player insists that it is stepping in the shoes of someone else that is the goal of the game. Some role players like the experience of being someone else – and feeling how they feel, with all the thrills and spills if possible. Some like to portray someone else, and see the game as a form of theatre. Role playing tends to be easier in games where the story is central, and when there are many social encounters. I suspect that most gamers are in fact attracted to the game for exactly this aspect of play. The game doesn't derive its name from nowhere, you know.

The team player
Misused as the term team player may be, having someone with this style in your group is gold. Team players try to make the game work for all involved, if need be at the cost of their own play experience. They try to make the group a whole, drawing other players into the game by giving them special attention. And often team players follow the plot and the Game Master plans when they can guess what they are. The downfall of many team players is that they may not be recognized if they do their necessary work too smoothly. Cheer a team player if you recognize one.

Talking about recognizing, did you see your own style or styles here? Have you moved from one style to another? Can you see what the styles of your fellow players are? Which do you like, and why? Questions, questions. But fun to think about.

2011/11/16

Pick #68: Snow White goes Postal

Grimm's fairy tales are a welcome source of storylines if you're out of inspiration. Or if you're looking for doing a classic without bothering to pay for the rights. In other words, looks like Snow White is back!
Nothing like Lord of the Rings, fortunately ;-)



At least the trailer looks fairly cool - if mostly violent and not with too much intelligence required for the male leading part. Looking at it I think the only suspension of disbelief you need is on Kristen Stewart becoming more beautiful than Charlize Theron. Duh... no way!

Maybe this Snow White can handle a long knife better. Still, looking forward to what commercial director Rupert Sanders makes of this. You never know, maybe he can pull off things longer than 1'30" too!

With thanx to Book of Worlds for discovering the trailer in the first place.

2011/11/15

Free Adventures: Ammersfurt #29



The Secret of Ammersfurt is a free role playing supplement for the Dark Dungeon 2nd Ed game. Every week for thirty-five weeks, you'll get new bits for the Ammersfurt adventure setting, like monsters, NPC's, locations, skills, character templates, role play tips, and so on. And also every week, you'll get an adventure seed, which you can turn into a weekly adventure.

Adventure Seed 29: Judgement at the Hof

After good things have passed, uncomfortable times come. It is the day that criminals of the past year will have to be judged. And this year a few that are held in the Thieves tower might receive the death sentence. The Schout (Sherrif) has come to town because he will have to pass sentence. Our heroes are present, maybe because they captured one or more of the accused. A crowd has gathered on the Hof, and the prisoners are led forward under the beat of a drum.

Download the twentysecond part of The Secret of Ammersfurt here! 

Painting is of the actual Thieves tower in Amersfoort 

PS It seems I kind of messed up my sequence of adventure parts for the Secret of Ammersfurt, and kept on publishing #22. Hope to rectify that from hereon.

2011/11/10

Role Playing 101 #1: Roll Playing vs Role Playing


Ages ago, I think it was in the 80-ies of last century, one of my best friends wrote a role playing manifesto. We weren't supposed to just roll the dice, he said, but we ought become our characters. We ought to feel how they felt, and actually play their roles. At least for the duration of the game.




Rolling Dice and Just Having Fun
We were playing a variation of the Dungeons & Dragons game then, and for most of us it took some time to understand what he meant. Weren't we supposed to just go into a dungeon, roll some dice, and slay some hapless monsters? Collect some treasure, roll some dice, and meanwhile imagine that we actually were Aragorn, or Gandalf? Was it wrong what we were doing?

Not necessarily. Basically it's a difference in play style. There are more possible play styles, sure, but my friend made a very important distinction. You either shove your persona around the board, and roll some dice, or – to an extent – you become the persona. Most people start out doing the first, as it is less scary. It's also easier to say: hey, that's just a puppet, it's not me. My character does this or that. My character now attacks your character because he failed his sanity roll. Haha. No offence meant.

Or Being Someone Else a Bit
But it's – I for one think so – much more interesting to crawl into another skin. Slip into a role, and be able to say – I hit the dragon with my sword! I am the one whose parents were slain by the evil Imperial troops, and now I am out for revenge. Or if you dare: “dear princess Arwena, I love you”. Scarier, for sure, but also more rewarding.

The more you try it, the more you may be surprised how it really is to be in someone else's shoes. I still am, especially when playing evil non player characters, often finding out and feeling on the spot why they act as they do. In that way, role playing may actually prove to be better social training than you'd expect after seeing another nerdy portrayal of our hobby.

Where are you at your own games? Do you prefer roll playing or role playing? Or is it a mix of both? When do you use which method? Do you fall back on dice to avoid intimacy, conflict, something else that's scary? Or do you just use it to condense time, and seek role playing out in other situations?
It's an old distinction, but it's fun to make it explicit for yourself.

2011/11/05

Pick #67: Colonial Gothic

With all his fame, one would almost forget that James Maliszewski did more than invent Dwimmermount or blog fervently on his Grognardia. With Richard Iorio II he also co-wrote Colonial Gothic. A role playing game of historical horror fantasy in the Colonial days of America.

And it's good. That might be easy to say about someone famous' produce, but it just is.  Funny thing is, the game is almost as hidden as it's subject matter, Colonial Horrors. But really, it's one of the very few games I'm curious about playing. Not just once, but campaignwise.

And that's not just because it touches on similar subject matter as my own "The French Invade Texas" - just to put in a shameless plug for my own games.

If you want to imagine a bit what it's setting is like, imagine what Call of Cthulhu might have been, if it was written by Edgar Allan Poe, and set in the pre-revolution days of North America. When the French, the native Indians, the British and the Dutch still vied for supremacy. Where the Germans fought as Hessian soldiers, witchcraft was real, and the land was without highways or motorcars. But with demons.

Have a look. The pdf is not too expensive, the game system is fairly simple - yet with two twelve sided dice as its base, it's quite esoteric -, artwork simple but evocative. Also the supplements - written by a host of experts - are intriguing, telling of a past we often forgot about. Like Colonial France, when a full third of North America was officially under French control. When we forget about the native Americans, that is. And if you prefer Freemasons or Knights Templar, there are booklets about those too.

2011/11/02

Random RPG Thoughts #3: Why is D&D so niche?

Dungeons & Dragons once was a huge hit amongst teenagers. And to some teenagers it still is. Except that some of them are now forty plus year old teenagers. Yet, certainly now in Europe, it is niche.

Science Fiction is a hit amongst many people, as a genre. Star Wars is one of the all time box office hits. But Science Fiction for people at large is... niche.

Fantasy is hot amongst teenagers. Lord of the Rings is an all time box office hit and a huge New Zealand mega production. Even the book it was based on is an all time hit, reluctantly admitted on literature lists in college. Bu fantasy as a genre is... niche.

Even since Harry Potter. Which is a brilliant concept coming of age series. Brilliant at least in the sense that Harry Potter and the novels grew in age with their audience. It thus gained a growing grown up audience. But even Harry Potter is a bit... niche. Mainstream niche perhaps. But nerdy niche.

Naturally, D&D and other typical role playing games are more niche than HP. Even since World of Warcraft - which is at least akin to tabletop role playing.

Most sensible grown ups will not come near the games. Why not?

Several reasons I guess. To name a few:

1. Typical RPG rules are way to complex, rulebooks are way to thick, and it appears to take a week long course to even start understanding the game. I suspect this is one of the most important put offs.

2. Typical RPG games look childish in a way, or simple minded. Mindless slaying of monsters and looting of treasure may seem a bit nerdy and adolescent.

3. Too few sexy women play the game. Including the typical party-going kind. This may have to do with reason #1. It may also have to do with reason #2. The game itself seems unsexy.

4. The competition element is unclear. Or at least the goal of the game is. This may be why How to Host a Murder games may not be so niche, even if they have small audiences too. There the goal for an evenings play is clearly set.


So, if you'd eliminate these points. Simple rules, less childish themes (and I do not mean adult themes instead), a sexier concept, and a clear goal for the evening. Would you entice a less niche audience?

I'd love to know!

2011/10/27

Free Adventures: Ammersfurt #28

The Secret of Ammersfurt is a free role playing supplement for the Dark Dungeon 2nd Ed game. Every week for thirty-five weeks, you'll get new bits for the Ammersfurt adventure setting, like monsters, NPC's, locations, skills, character templates, role play tips, and so on. And also every week, you'll get an adventure seed, which you can turn into a weekly adventure.

Adventure Seed 28: The Glassmaker's Last Wish

After a long search the Ammersfurt officials and the Cathedral builders manage to find a glassmaker for their cathedral that is an absolute master in his work. His name is Nicolas Nicolaessen, and his work is magickal in quality. The heroes are asked to talk the man into designing the windows for the church to build. But as they arrive and admire what he is currently doing in the Utrecht Cathedral, Nicolas explains that he cannot come. Why not?

Download the twentyeighth part of The Secret of Ammersfurt here!

2011/10/17

Free Adventures: Ammersfurt #27

The Secret of Ammersfurt is a free role playing supplement for the Dark Dungeon 2nd Ed game. Every week for thirty-five weeks, you'll get new bits for the Ammersfurt adventure setting, like monsters, NPC's, locations, skills, character templates, role play tips, and so on. And also every week, you'll get an adventure seed, which you can turn into a weekly adventure.

Adventure Seed 27: The Cathedral Builders

One of the buildings that was damaged during the short war with Gelre is the church of Our Dear Lady, St. Mary. Now some richer pilgrims and believers have thought of a new plan. They wish to rebuild the Ammersfurt St. Mary's church as a cathedral. In fact, they offer more than enough money to make a start. A huge sum. Burghermaster Swartenburgh has second thoughts about the thing, but he does not want to refuse a given horse. He asks the heroes to investigate subtly.

Download the twentyseventh part of The Secret of Ammersfurt here!

2011/10/16

OSR Experiments #29: Real Heavy Stuff

I always hated encumbrance rules. They're cumbersome, hard work, and heavier on the players than the characters. But last holiday I noticed there might be a point to these rules.

Hauling one extra backpack with a bundle of books I bought made the difference. My first backpack, with camera and clothes was heavy enough, feeling a bit like a harness on my back. But this second one was a killer. I literally noticed how I slowed down. Maybe my real speed halved, maybe I made two thirds. But I slowed.

I would have another ten hours to kill in Munich before my train left. Then I figured I needed to find a locker. And so I did.

If I would have to carry my two kids, or perhaps my wife, that would really slow me down. To less than half speed. And I would not be able to continue for a longer period. If it was something heavier still, I would only be able to drag it forth slowly, or not at all.

So encumbrance makes sense, even in adventures where dungeon loot is not the first objective.

But I hate adding up numbers all the time! So I figured, maybe, maybe there is an easier way. Because encumbrance is both weight, and bulk, and the way you are able to carry the stuff.

So instead of counting in coins, or pounds, or grammes, or even stones, like Alexandrian or Lamentations, you might count in HEAVY THINGS. You might even classify as SOME STUFF, HEAVY THINGS, VERY HEAVY THINGS, and HARDLY MOVEABLE STUFF.
And instead of always counting, you only start counting once it becomes important. When you're in a chase running away from enemies. Or when you are chasing others yourself.

It might work out like this.

SOME STUFF - are small weapons, a small handbag, a tool, a jacket, etc. Anything that gets your hands full but doesn't really slow you too much. Some stuff you can always take with you, but it may get your hands full if you don't have a bag for them.

HEAVY THINGS - are just that, a full daypack, a winter coat, a bag of groceries, a sack of loot, a big shield, a big sword, a pole arm - you can carry one heavy thing as a normal person without being slowed down too much. Carrying more heavy things will slow you down.

VERY HEAVY THINGS - another hero, a cupboard, a stack of loot. Very heavy things make you move slowly. You're a sitting duck and you can forget about chasing. Unless you're very strong, or perhaps make a strength check.

Hardly moveable stuff? - Stone slabs, coffins, real big furniture, a tree... Forget about moving long distances at all. No chasing. Get an elephant or horse to help you out.

Now I only need to factor in STRength and SIZe... And figure out how many coins is VERY HEAVY.

What do you think? Worth a try?

2011/10/10

Random RPG Thoughts #2: Do you need a Character Sheet?

Sometimes you only find out you need something once you don't have it with you.

Last weekend I was playing with a semi-regular group, but not at the regular location. I brought dice, including a smashing big one. I brought a ruleset, even though I rarely look at it during gaming. I brought my little webbook, with an adventure file of what we played before. I even had some jpegs of maps to use, just in case.

But I didn't bring character sheets. And my wife, usually the leading player, forgot her character booklet too. Now forgetting sheets isn't that uncommon. Some players always forget their sheets, and some write a new one for the same character each session. I don't really mind. I play a story style game, cinematic if I'm into it, and I rarely need exact stats. I mostly need a pretty solid idea of what a hero is like, and I'll wing their scores.

But to have a solid idea, you might actually need a character sheet. And I kind of forgot about that. My wife complained that she was running out of options because she forgot what this hero could do. Yeah, she knew about the few high, typical skills, but not about the many smaller ones that give flavor and extra options. Telepathy and Magickal Suggestion all right. But what else? This wasn't a regular character, you might guess.

And because she didn't know it well, neither did I as a GM. Options became a bit more narrow. Another player, who plays less often, and is a relative newbie suddenly realized that she also might be missing her character sheet. She had been playing a few sessions without a sheet already, because, well, she left it at home somewhere in an obscure place. Like in a dustbin or a box in the attic. Maybe that was why she was running out of options  sooner, and found herself sitting just waiting what came at her hero. Instead of taking action for herself.

Maybe she would have been less of a rookie player if she had looked at her skill list and background notes Maybe she'd say, hey, I have night vision! So I'll sneak around and have a look in near pitch dark! Or she might have used her history knowledge to see if she could tell about the allegiance of an older NPC. Or she might just have used another weapon.

I kind of forgot, and often thought that a character sheet may be stifling. I thought you don't really need one, and can let your imagination roam free. But maybe that's not (all) true. Maybe you do need a sheet with descriptors. A sheet with constraints, to actually spark your imagination.

How about you? Do you like to play with, or without a character sheet? Do you think a good game needs them? I'd like to know.

2011/09/30

Adventure Shorts #0: Survived!

There, I've survived the September Challenge. Barely. ;-)

Here's a link to (almost) all the adventures as compiled by Asshat. Thanx Matt!

And here's a link to my own twentyfive shorts.

Cheers to all who joined, and cheers especially to those who actually wrote shorts - or even made the challenge. H-H-HURRAAAH!!!!

And now for a beer.

PS As an addendum to the early surveys: Gamemasters corner also seems to have joined the challenge, but I'm not sure why or when - there's no adventure shorts there!

Update: You can find all shorts of my series and more in Unpleasant Encounters at RPGNow

Adventure Shorts #21: The Rotting Mill

No It's not skipped! It was just pending! Here's the final part of the september challenge series.

Near the edge of town, in the fields, there stands a dark, ruinous, rotting wooden windmill. It was not there the night before. And neither were the leaping, whispering, ravenous bodies with their yellow eyes.

What may occur next:
  • The rotting, dark windmill appeared overnight through a mirrorlike portal with a missing shard. It is no doubt part of the same portal as the shard where the stirges came from. The mill comes from an evil dimension.
  • The ravenous bodies are ghouls that eat not only the dead but also the living. They will swarm out next night and attack villagers and heroes alike.
  • The mill is actually a travelling device itself. Inside is a set of wheels within wheels, full of runic symbols that can be set to direct it to a new destination. Perhaps it can even travel through time, within limits. There will be fuel for 1d6 transportations. And it may attract new ghouls between dimensions with every trip.

Ghoul
The ghoul is a foul, undead creature, naked, gibbering, licking, leaping, clawing, gnawing. Sometimes covered with rotting poisonous slime which causes paralysis if it touches the skin of living creatures. They are often found near graveyards, and other dry deserted areas where carcasses can be found.

OSR: AC 6, HD 2* need magic or silver to harm, Dam 1d6, paralysis on hit, Move 90', Save: F2, #app 1d6
DD2: dex 4, leap attack 3, claw and bite 4 (weapon class 1), cause fearful paralysis 3, resistance to non-silver weapons (selective armour class 3, may be undone by a blessing)

Update: You can find all shorts of this series and more in Unpleasant Encounters at RPGNow

2011/09/29

Adventure Shorts #25: Mede's Microcrystal Monster

Mede the Micromancer once again invites the heroes to admire his newest magick finds. He leads them to a grotto where a ten foot high statue of a demon has been crafted from the stalagmites. “It's a present for the duke” Mede explains, “and I want you to help protect and transport it to him”

What may occur next:
  • The crystal statue is rather big and heavy to carry, and although the reward Mede promises is good, it will be a challenge to move the crystal demon idol anywhere.
  • Forgetful Mede may provide the heroes with a special mycrocrystal spell scroll that can shrink the statue to a nice transportable size and weight. But the transformation will not last, and might wear off too early if the transport is delayed. And then there are all sorts of officials who hinder the heroes on their way to the king.
  • The crystal demon is not just a lifeless statue. It will come alive and move to attack once it is delivered to the king. Mede may or may not have been aware of this fact.

Crystal Demon Statue
Crystaline life forms are very rare, but most of them may be found in the Castellan deserts. There something in the soil gives the sands and minerals a life of their own. Most crystal life forms resemble animals, human statues or demons. But in theory they may take any form. Most crystalines are peaceful, and may even remain unmoving for weeks on end. Others may seem animated by malevolent demons.

OSR: AC 3, HD 4, Dam 2d6, Move 90', Save: F3, #app 1d6-3
DD2: heavy crystal skin (armour class 3), crystal fist 6 (weapon class 3), may appear inanimate

Update: You can find all shorts of this series and more in Unpleasant Encounters at RPGNow

2011/09/28

Adventure Shorts #24: Evil Dead


In a cabin in the woods is said,
lies an ancient book blood red.
't Is a tome craving to be read.
But guarding it are the Evil Dead.

What may occur next:
  • The heroes find themselves travelling through the woods, and find an excellent but deserted cabin in the woods. Night falls and scary figures move through the woods outside.
  • The figures outside are undead, attracted by the human flesh inside. And by a magic tome of darkness, that also lies in the cabin.
  • The book of darkness wants to be read. In it are spells to control the living dead outside. But it may also attract even more evil when the words in it are wrongly uttered. And unwary heroes themselves may end up slain, and then turn into zombies too.

Zombie
The evil dead, those that hunt and devour the living while they decay and rot away themselves were first encountered in the poisoned valleys. But after the use of the weapons of destruction, and the subsequent black rains, their numbers appeared in many places. Those who die because of the evil dead often turn into one of them, which led scholars to believe that it is a disease, or a parasite that animates dead bodies. No matter, whenever encountered they are relentless, carnivorous, with an excellent sense of smell, and although usually slow and with bad hearing, they may attack from ambush and must be considered deadly. Priests may be able to turn them by blessing and protection.

OSR: AC 8, HD 2, Dam 1d6+1, Move 120', Save: F1, #app 1d10
DD2: claw and bite 4 (weapon class 2), will not stop until critically wounded

Update: You can find all shorts of this series and more in Unpleasant Encounters at RPGNow

2011/09/27

Adventure Shorts #23: The Apes

Visiting a deep valley in the far wildernis, the heroes encounter a young acolyte lady. She is wounded and alone, but conscious. When a hero lifts her, her voice is weak: “I must find my sisters of the temple, before it is too late.”

What may occur next:
  • The priestess is on her way to a nearby hidden temple, where her lost sisters guard an ancient bone relic of her order. She was knocked down by a thief who wants the relic.
  • No mortal man, but only women are allowed to see the relic, or else they be slain by apelike monsters.
  • The apelike monsters have slain not only the thief, but also the priestesses who guarded the relic. The relic bone has now fallen down a crack in the crags, from whence only a female hero – or the acolyte lady may recover it safely.

Rock Baboon
These strong apes usually live in peaceful groups led by a few stronger male and female specimens. They are seldom aggressive, except when cornered or swept up by evil magick.

OSR: AC 6, HD 2, Dam 1d6+1, Move 120', Save: F2, #app 2d6
DD2: con 3, str 3, dex 3, bite or strangle 4 (weapon class 1)

Update: You can find all shorts of this series and more in Unpleasant Encounters at RPGNow

2011/09/26

Adventure Shorts #22: The Slaver Party


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A night on the town seemed such a good idea at the time. But when one of the heroes picks a fight with a hooded giant with a nasty lisp and temper, the entire game changes. The giant and his friends turn out to be alien lizard men, foraging for strong slaves.

What may occur next:
  • The lizard men are looking for gladiators in their arena far away, and they believe the heroes make fine specimens.
  • The lizard men use a special magical net to capture prospective slaves, and they are a particularly strong group to deal with. Running away may be a better option than fighting.
  • If the heroes manage to get away, they learn that the lizard men slavers hold an important princess (or prince) on their exotic ship that lies in the harbour.

Lizard Man
The lizard people believe that they travelled from their dry star of origin, to the luscious sea waters of this world, where their god made them masters. Where they live under water or on the sea is a matter of conjecture, but they themselves say that they are with millions. Fortunately man only rarely meets their raiding parties, and if they are encountered they are usually in small groups of traders – relatively peaceful. The lizard people stand between five and seven feet tall, and have a greenish blue scaley skin. To avoid authorities they may sometimes pose as cloaked humans.

OSR: AC 5, HD 2+1, Dam 1d6+2, Move 90', 120' swimming, Save: F2, #app 1d6+1
DD2: scaley skin (armour class 1), but may also wear chain armour (armour class 2), str 3, con 3, spear or trident 4

Update: You can find all shorts of this series and more in Unpleasant Encounters at RPGNow

2011/09/23

Adventure Shorts #20: The Mother Wolf

“Romulus and Remus were raised by a mother wolf”, the old man said. “But who has ever heard of speaking wolves that raise men, do they exist? I think so, and I know where you can find one for me.”

What may occur next:
  • The scholar who knows where to find the mother wolf has captured two human children who walk on all fours like wolves, but who also speak a simple human like language. He says he found them in the neglected forest behind the broken bridge.
  • The children were in fact abandoned years ago and were raised by a speaking mother wolf. She will be looking for her human children and may be angry. She may also be reasoned with.
  • A bounty hunter and his helpers are also looking for the mother wolf, intent to sell her for the highest price.

Speaking Wolf (lost race)
The speaking wolves once were the companion of man, according to the oldest legends. They came with us when we travelled between the stars, and they raised those of us who lost their mothers and fathers. Some say, that these were the creatures that eventually evolved into our domesticated dogs.

OSR: AC 7, HD 2+2, Dam 1d6, Move 180', Save: F1, #app 2d6
DD2: dex 4, bite 4 (weapon class 1 or 2), run 4
The speaking mother wolf speaks in a howling and growling simple dialect of the common language. It can charm any attackers to leave her unharmed and go away (OSR: limited charm person, DD2: limited charm 3)

Update: You can find all shorts of this series and more in Unpleasant Encounters at RPGNow

2011/09/22

Adventure Shorts #19: Night at the Ravine

At the end of winter, when the heroes travel with a group of traders along a ravine they find that the road has crumbled down. The company is stuck for nightfall, so they camp on the road just beside a 1000' drop. That night several people wake up screaming: “ghosts, dead people!”

What may occur next:
  • The ghosts are evil spirits that want to scare the traders to let them fall down the ravine in fear. They are not able to harm or touch anyone phisically, not directly.
  • The ghosts are ghosts of traders who had fallen down here, but they actually protect the traders and heroes by waking them. Another part of the road is about to collapse, and only because the heroes are awake one of them will notice. With luck all can move safely back down the road before the rock slides down.
  • The ghosts are traders who died here, and a shrine that is built for them on the other end of the broken road lights up in a magic glamer. Then a bridge forms out of thin air, allowing those who dare to pass to the other side. If at least the bridge is real, and not a ghostly trrap, the heroes and traders may be at their destination next day after all.

Trader
Caravan traders are common on all routes between civilized areas, and among them are often adventurous types. Some of them might have a somewhat dishonest streak, but most of them are good folk, who prefer to talk their way out or into any situation rather than using force.

OSR: AC 7, HD 1, Dam 1d6, Move 120', Save: F1, #app 1d8
DD2: leather jacket (armour class 1), long knife 3 (weapon class 1), trading 3

Update: You can find all shorts of this series and more in Unpleasant Encounters at RPGNow

2011/09/21

Adventure Shorts #18: Blood Sucker from a Mirror

A present arrives by mail, from Mede the Micromancer, a known trickster. When the heroes carefully open the package, it contains a shard of glass. A humming shard of glass, with an image in the reflection which is growing, and growing, and growing...

What may occur next:
  • The shard is from a mirror portal to another dimension. It now opens up to a space where blood sucking kolibris live in swarms. Fortunately, they come out one by one through the shard. But they come out fast.
  • The shard was packed in a lead lined box, which protects against the portal magick. It will stop the swarm coming out.
  • Not only the Stirges are on the other end of the mirror shard, but so is Mede, who fouled up one of his experiments. A letter accompanying the package explains how the heroes may rescue him. Only question is, how did he write the letter and send the shard in the mail?

Stirge
As an experiment from the southern armies, the giant, two foot wingspan, blood sucking kolibris were first intended to take on the wolf spider threats. Unfortunately, the beasts soon evolved into a species that attacked easier prey too, like humans.

OSR: AC 7, HD 1, Dam 1d3, Move 180', Save: F2, #app 1d10
DD2: flight 5, blood sucking beak 3 (weapon class 0), dex 5

Update: You can find all shorts of this series and more in Unpleasant Encounters at RPGNow