Monthly Archives: March 2018

Social Technomancy for Starfinder

While the technomancer spells presented in the Starfinder Core Rulebook focus on mixing magic and specific, physical applications of technology, as residents of the modern world we know that technology is much more than a set of devices. Social technologies exist, from things like first aid techniques to social media to advances in the social sciences and philosophies, as well as data organization and storage techniques, metadata analysis, and so on. Surely in a galaxy that has spellcasters blending arcana with other fields of study, technomancy would leak into every aspect of advanced knowledge.

So, here are some technomancy spells that investigate other paces magic and advanced techniques might overlap. It also introduces some new focus rules—elements that are useful to casting a spell, but not mandatory.

Cram (T2)
School transmutation
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range touch
Target one creature
Duration 1 minute/level (see text)
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance yes (harmless)

With this spell, the caster can take the knowledge from any text-based, audio, or video source and implant it into the mind of the target creature. This grants the subject a number of bonus ranks in one skill of the caster’s choice to bring the target’s total ranks (their own ranks + bonus ranks) equal to half the caster’s level (for Int-, Wis-, or Cha-based skills) or 1/4 the caster level (for Str-, Dex-, or Con-based skills). A caster that has access to an infosphere can generally use this to grant ranks in any skill, or a computer can have sufficiently complete versions of the relevant information downloaded into it for the same cost and effort as adding a secure data module.

Focus: If the target has a source of information on the granted skill on their person (such as a book or a datapad with the information downloaded into it) the spell’s duration increases to 10 moinutes.caster level.

Fashion Plate (T1)
School transmutation
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range touch
Target one set of clothing
Duration 1hour/level
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance yes (harmless)

This spell transforms the appearance of one set of clothes. The clothes may be transformed into a specific set of normal clothing, or they may be turned into clothes appropriate for a particular group of people. For example, a mage could change his ragged jeans and leather jacket into a business power suit, or skateboarding street gear, or a karate gi. This has no impact on any game mechanical bonuses the clothing offers—a cold weather suit works just as well when it appears to be swimming trunks. This spell ends if the clothing is taken off.

Focus: If the caster has access to fashion information about a specific group (normally available automatically with access to a related infosphere, or compiled with a DC 15 Culture check), this spell can make clothing appear to be perfect for interacting with a specific group or segment of society (such as a specific gang, or a specific social class in a specific city). When wearing clothing perfectly matched for such a group, the clothes grant a +3 circumstance bonus to all Charisma checks and Charisma-based skill checks made with that group. One set of clothing can only be perfect for one group at a time.

Instant Therapy (M2, T2)
School enchantment (language-dependent)
Casting Time 1 minute (see text)
Range close (25 ft. +5 ft/2 levels)
Target one creature
Duration Instantaneous
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance yes (harmless)

This spell removes the confusion condition from the target. It also acts as a dispel magic and remove affliction against all fear and mind-affecting effects on the target, moves the target one step closer to healthy on the mental disease track.

Once a creature has been the target of this spell, it can’t be targeted again until it has undergone a 4-hour traditional therapy session.

Focus: If you have a mental health file for the subject, the casting time for this spell becomes 1 standard action. A target can give you a file they have access to, or one can generally be compiled over 24 hours with a recall knowledge Culture check or liberated from modestly-secured infosphere sources with a Computers check (both DC 15 + 1-1/2 target’s level).

Rap Sheet (T0)
School divination
Casting Time 1 minute
Range close (25 ft. +5 ft/2 levels)
Target one creature
Duration Instantaneous
Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes

This spell gives the caster knowledge of one target’s legal record. This acts as a Culture check to gain information about the target as if the caster has ranks in Culture equal to her caster level and has access to a relevant database, but only covers information such as arrests, torts, convictions, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and bankruptcy. Only legal records are revealed, and only for the identity of the target as understood by the caster—disguises are not automatically penetrated and actual guilt or innocence is not revealed.

Speaking of Social Magic!

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Updated List of Very Fantasy Words

The most recent update to the Revised, Partial List of Very Fantasy Words!

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More Species-Based Insults and Exclamations for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game

My post on a d6 each worth of species-based insults and exclamations for androids, shirren, humans, and ysoki from yesterday was much more popular than I expected (I picked up three new backers for my Patreon in one day).
So, even though no one asked for them, let’s round out the Starfinder Roleplaying Game core races with kasatha, lashunta, and vesk!

Species-Specific Insults

1. Faceless coward
2. Hat-rack
3. Spikehead
4. Hipless freak
5. Brain-slicer
6. Dust-muncher

1. Mind-peeper
2. Bug-elf (or) Dwarf-beetle
3. Lizard-lover
4. Data-licker
5. Cantrip-Humper
6. Meritrollop

1. Heatless lump lizard
2. Pea-brain
3. Deathmongering war-worshipper
4. Walking suitcase
5. Doshclod
6. Cloac-er (Short for cloaca-frudder)

Species Specific Exclamations

1. Lips!
2. Sandhead
3. By the long journey
4. Slivers!
5. Doyen-sucker
6. Waster (or) Waste of Space (or) Useless Waste

1. Ignorance-eater
2. Mindblind
3. Sewer-head
5. Meritless (or) Unwarranted
6. It’s a Gift of Nothingness, and You Took It.

1. Loser (or) Coward
2. Weaponless Wonder
3. Timid Teeth
4. By the Three Blades!
5. Backstabber (or) Traitor (or) Backstab!
6. Cloac-er (Still short for cloaca-frudder)


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Species-Based Insults for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game

In a podcast I was doing, someone claimed they’d throw Patreon money my way if I’d post 1d6 (each) curse words for Androids, Ysoki, Shirren, and Humans. Not one to pass up a writing challenge that involves making money, I here I am doing that.


I’ve talked about fictional cursewords before and, while I wish it went without saying, it seems prudent to mention that there are pales fictional swearing shouldn’t go. Yes, people cuss. Yes, that can be a useful and interesting part of roleplaying. But especially when looking at species-based cussing, never bring gender, real-world ethnicity, socio-political position, religion, or anything else rooted in reality into it. We should be roleplaying to have fun, and that needs to stay away from language that uses real differences between us as insults or stand-ins for bad language.

No one should be so attached to fictional deity Klono that explaining Holy—Klono’s—Iridium—Intestines!” is going to upset anybody. But as soon as you use any real-world (or even thinly veiled from real world) elements in your cussing, you are risking other people’s feelings in the name of a drop of color for a not-real person, and that’s not cool.

With that said, here’s four d6 lists of:

Species-Based Insults

1. Piece of Synth
2. Circuitface
3. Custom-built slave labor
4. Milk-for-guts*
5. Rent-a-soul**
6. Digi-brain
*Assuming the android leaks white goo like the ones from Aline/Aliens do. This doesn’t have to be true, just a common cultural opinion.
**Based on dislike of the android renewal process

1. Boneless wonder*
2. Spiderbait
3. Hiveless drone
4. Fangneck
5. Chitten-butt
6. Buffet-stuffer**
*Assuming they have eskeletons
**A suggestion that the shirren is food, and belongs on a buffet.

1. Mindblind lashunta
2. Worldless
3. Breeder
4. Sweat factory
5. Clawless/toothless/tailless
6. Spunthole

1. Rat-tailed
2. Fleabag
3. Scavenger
4. Hairball
5. Plaguemouth
6. Junk-waffle

And then four 1d6 lists of:
Species-Specific Exclamations!

1. Slaver
2. Meatbags
3. Genebait
4. Glitching (or) Son-of-Glich
5. Sparks
6. Sagging (or) Wrinkled*
*Since androids don’t show signs of age.

1. Swarming (or) Swarmed (or) Swarm-mind
2. Repetitive (or) Predictable (or) just Reps!
3. Thoughtless
4. Parasites!
5. Compound Stupid*
6. Webbing! (or) Webhole (or) Webtastic
*As in, stupid seen through a hundred compound eyes

1. Frudd
2. Godsdammerung
3. Lose it! (or) Lost!
4. Genejoke
5. Twist (or) Twist You (or) This is twisted!
6. Spunthole

1. Traps!
2. Fleabag
3. Itches (or) Itch-laden (or) Son-of-an-Itch!
4. Hairballs
5. Matted
6. Pinkies


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Falx for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

The falx is a weapon so powerful, it forced the Romans to make the only change to their armor (reinforced helmets) that was recorded as occurring specifically because of an enemy weapon. Used by the Dacians and Thracians, the flax was a curved blade sharpened on the inside edge. Contemporaneous accounts suggest it was made in both one-handed and two-handed versions, but the one-handed may also have been used in both hands at least sometimes. It seems to have come in both swordlike and polearm-like designs, and while its most powerful swing appears to have been a devastating overhand chop, it may also have been used to thrust. It seems related to the rhomphaia (as featured on a recent episode of the television show Forged in Fire), and went through many design evolutions. During much of the time it was a popular weapon, creating a long, sharp, strong blade required particularly skilled smiths, so the longer-bladed falx may have been weapons of prestige as well.

In short, it is exactly the kind of weapon rpg players love to argue about by finding specific references or illustrations that support one concept of what it looked like and how it was used, while ignoring others. And there’s just no need for that in an rpg setting. There’s room for lots of falx ideas to all be lumped together in one game mechanical weapon, the same way the pathfinder Roleplaying game combines numerous distinct weapon designs into the broad categories of shortsword” or “longsword.”

(Martial) Two-Handed Melee Weapons Name    Cost       Dmg (S) (M)        Crit         Weight  Type      Special

Falx        75 gp     1d4        1d6        19-20*, x4             8 lbs.     P or S     Disarm, trip

*See description

Falx: A falx is a two-handed martial weapon, but if Exotic Weapon Proficiency is taken with it, it can be wielded as a one-handed weapon. It is part of the axes, heavy blades, and polearms weapon groups. A falx is considered to have a threat range of “20” for the purposes of all abilities that increase threat ranges, but after making all such calculations its threat range is increased by 1. For example, a keen falx doubles its normal threat range of 20 to 19-20, then increases that threat range by 1 (to 18-20).

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Dare Feats in the Really Wild West (for Starfinder)

The Really Wild West (a Weird West setting hack for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game) is all about daring heroes who face terrifying odds, survive on sheer grit and gumptions, and fight their way back from apparently impossible situations. Of course the heroes game mechanics of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game take care of a lot of that theme, but some heroes are just better at rising to the challenge when they should normally be on their last legs. To help players who want to build heroes who are the linchpin of avoiding disaster when all hope seems lost, the Really Wild West has Dare Feats.

Dare Feats

Dare feats only become active when you run out of Resolve Points, and go back to being inactive when you regain any Resolve Points. Each also has a method for restoring Resolve Points, which also causes the feat to be inactive (until and unless you run out of Resolve again).Dare feats don’t have prerequisites—they can be taken by any character from the plucky young librarian searching for a stolen tome in the rough frontier, to the grizzled veteran of the War of the Worlds who has seen too much horror to be shaken when things go south.

In addition to their listed effects, all characters with Dare feats gain a +1 bonus to saves against fear effects for each Dare feat they possess when they are out of Resolve Points.

Frantically Nimble (Dare)
When the chips are down, you gain a surge of evasiveness.
Benefit: While this dare is active, you gain a +1 bonus to AC. You regain 1 Resolve Point when you are attacked and missed in three consecutive rounds by a significant enemy (the attacks need not come from the same enemy) without being hit in any of those rounds.

Out for Blood (Dare)
You can fight like a cornered rat.
Benefit: While this dare is active, if your attack has a critical hit effect, your attack roll is a natural 19 (a “19” shows on the die), and you meet or exceed your target’s AC, your attack applies its critical hit effect (though it does not do double damage as a critical hit normally does). If you score a normal critical hit against a significant enemy, you regain one Resolve Point.

Run Like Hell (Dare)
When the going gets tough, you can really get going.
Benefit: While this dare is active, your speed increases by 10 feet, you are not flat-footed when taking the run action, and you can take the run action even through difficult terrain or when you can’t see where you are going. You regain 1 Resolve Point if a significant enemy takes an attack of opportunity provoked by you moving out of a threatening space, and the attack misses.

Vigilante Shooter (Dare)
You’ll jump through hell to turn the tides of a bas situation.
Benefit: While this dare is active, you gain the evasion class feature. If you already have this class feature, while this dare is active you roll twice when making any Reflex saving throw and take the higher result. You regain 1 Resolve Point when you succeed at a Reflex saving throw forced by a significant enemy while using this dare.

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Gizmos in Really Wild West (for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game)

Since no one is expected to wear armor in the Really Wild West setting hack for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, “armor upgrades” aren’t really part of the setting. However, everything that functions as an armor upgrade in the core rules is still available- it just exists in the form of an advanced speculative principles device that builds off stellar alloys, theosophic imbuement techniques, compression gears, heat-ray crystal capacitors, vril, or some other weird science from ancient ruins, Martian wrecks, lost civilizations, or mad scientists.

These are commonly know as “gizmos.”

Gizmos are most common among people who operate on the fringes of society, be they adventurers, bandits, mad scientists, or peacekeepers who have to deal with all those other categories. Gizmos often have a very steampunk aesthetic, with bronze a common material (thanks to its theosophic and anti-corrosion properties), leather straps, buckles, and some nice detail work.

Anyone can use a single gizmo, but it takes skill to use more than one gizmo at a time, or to even have more than one rigged properly to be used simultaneously. You can have ready (and in use at one time) one gizmo, plus one for every kind of armor you are proficient with (the main use of armor proficiency in Really Wild West), plus one additional gizmo per 3 character levels. Armor upgrades that take two armor upgrade slots count as two gizmos for this limit once translated into the RWW. Rigging up a gizmo for use, or putting one way, takes 6 rounds.

Here are the Really Wild West gizmo names and descriptions for Starfinder Roleplaying Game armor upgrades. Each gizmo functions the same way as the armor upgrade it is modeled after (listed in parenthesis), except as noted in each description below.


Aetheric Shields (Force Fields)
Aetheric shields are tiny aetheric generators retooled to work in reverse—rather than taking aetheric currents from the ethereal plane and turning them into electricity, they take electricity and turn them into an aetheric flow that surrounds and (modestly) protects the wearer. The power crystal of an aetheric shield turns the color of the force field it emulates.

Amazing Martian Fighting Shield (titan shield)
This is just one example of the names people use when they take a plate of stellar alloy from a Martian fighting machine, and add straps, and turn it into a shield. It’s big and heavy, so if you use it, you can’t do anything else with that arm.

Babbage Scope (targeting computer)
A Babbage scope takes readings through numerous small lenses, tracks information through a small built-in brass Babbage analytical engine, and predicts where partially concealed targets most likely are.

Crystal Goggles (Infrared Sensors)
The same crystal technology that makes Martian heat rays possible can be turned into red-lenses goggles, that allow you to see heat. Among the most common of gizmos, since you can make several from a smashed Trip’s heat rays.

DaVinci Wings (Jetpacks)
It turns out with energized cavorite (an antigravity metal that can have its gravity- neutralizing properties boosted with an electrical current) and compression gears, some of DaVinci’s designs for powered flight can function.

Dragonhide Duster (thermal capacitor)
While killing true dragons is rarely both practical and moral, drakes and other draconic creatures can be a serious threat in the frontier, and once slain their hides easily take to theosophic infusion to become clothing that stays warm, but never gets hot.

Doctor Cavor’s Resplendent Repellent Field (deflective reinforcement)
Dr. Cavor, the woman who created Cavorite and who has had the most success with Martial technology involving stellar alloys, has built just a few of these prototype devices, that normally take the form of a large metal gauntlet with several crystals and dials. It can push anything away, rather than just alter gravity as most Cavorite devices do.

Float Pack (force pack)
Though it is extremely rare for one of the few Martian flying machines to have one of it’s floater units removed while still functional, when that task is accomplished, a spectacular backpack-style device that allows amazing flight can be crafted from it.

Gas Mask (filtered rebreather)
The threat of Martian Black Smoke forced every nation of the Earth to seek better ways to protect against airborne poisons. Since Really Wild West doesn’t use armor like the core rules do, this gas mask can be considered to work for 5 weeks (though you can break that down into 35 periods of 24 1-hour increments), and then need significant cleaning and refurbishment (costing 10 credits per hour restored). It only applies to inhaled diseases and poisons, though the same cost could be applied to a Diving Helmet and Suit.

Gun Carriage (Automated Loader)
Of use only to wearers of Iron Soldier suits or Tripods (powered armor), a gun carriage is a system of complex clockwork systems that can eject casings and ammo belts, and reload new ones.

Huckster’s Sheath (quick-release sheath)
A spring-loaded sheath designed to be kept up the sleeve, and often considered a sign of low moral character.

Hush Coat (sonic dampener)
This short, leather jacket has gear-shaped metal studs arranged unevenly along its surface, and a dial control at the wrist. It uses a small aetheric generator and retuned Martian heat-ray crystals to creates sounds that perfectly muffle sounds made by the wearer.

Iron Hercules (load lifter)
The Iron Hercules ™ is a compressed air pistol-driven exoframe powered by an aetheric generator to increase your carrying capacity. Also called a “pocket mule” when built and sold by dastards who don’t have the right to the patent.

Jack’s Spring-Heels (jump jets)
Compressed pneumatic pistols running along the calf (and anchored to protective knee braces) drive down, sending you up (or forward). One of the most popular gizmos first designed by Professor “Gentleman Jack” Jersey.

Leyden Gears (backup generator)
These reverse-engineered compression gears are strapped to the arms or legs (or both), and turn your movement into electricity to recharge a battery. It can be connected to a battery belt.

Radium Belt (radiation buffer)
Designed from devices created by Mdm Curie, radium belts protect you from the “poison metals” called radioactive by learned types.

Storm Grommets (electrostatic field)
Storm grommets are small metal rings that can be attached on outwear, with each grommet connected by a high-conductivity wire to a capacitor battery, allowing you to both absorb electrical damage and create an electrical field that shocks anyone that touches you.

Temporal Adjustor (haste circuit)
Only pocket-watches created by famed punctualist Phileas Fogg are capable to being imbued theosophically with the concept of “saving time” that is so powerful, it actually allows the user to temporarily slow all the rest of the universe.

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Writing Basics: Headers for RPGs

Headers are the big titles of sections of books that tell you (roughly) what content is in that section. If you want a quick overview of what headers are, how to mark them in a manuscript (which, I should note, is actually “however your publisher tells you to,” though the [H1] and [H2]-style designations are pretty common if not universal), go check out Rogue Genius Games’ “RGG Writer Guidelines,” which discuss headers and how to let your editor and layout artist know where they should in your manuscript. That’s designed specifically for writing for RGG, but should be a useful overview you can apply to whatever style guide another publisher tells you to use.

That advice, however, is a what and a how, not a why or a where. It assumes you know when you want to have headers, and why you might want them to be different sizes. Why headers are useful and how to decide where to put them and what to call them isn’t something I learned in school, or that I was expressly taught by any editor or developer on any of the RPG projects I worked on. It is often taught, in a specific way, in courses on technical or academic writing, but those tend not to use them exactly the way an RPG does. Creating the right number of headers, in the right order and scaling, is something I picked up by example and self-education, rather than finding any course that taught it to me.

So let’s talk about how headers tend to work, for RPGs. I’ll note that this is my general advice, designed to give you a starting point, rather than an end point. Again, I’m self-taught, and learned to work with the people who published me. If you want an academic discussion of headers, you should find someone with a lot more editorial training and credentials than me.


Headers are titles and subtitles for sections of your text. They act as labels that let the reader know what information is about to be presented, and let the readers scan for a bit of information by seeking a related header. Headers can also be useful when referencing rules. It’s much easier to say “This uses the standard rules for bull rush, as found in the Combat Maneuvers section of the Tactical Rules chapter” than to say “This uses the standard rules for bull rush, as found halfway down page 942, on the left, at the top of the really big paragraph.” By giving a section of text a header, you make it easy for the reader to know what is coming, quickly find relevant material, and safely skip part of a chapter or article if they know they don’t need that information yet.

(There are also some kinds of headers that specific publishers use for game system elements. For example, if you look at the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, every feat and spell has a different treatment of text for the name of the feat or spell. Those are a kind of header, but in general unless a publisher tell you to mark headers at that level you don’t need to. Now some publishers DO tell you to mark such things, perhaps with “Feat Title” or “Stat Block Title” notations, but that’s the kind of thing you can trust your publisher to tell you if you need to notate formatting.)

In many ways, headers are like the names of sections of an outline that you just don’t strip out. I find this a useful way to think of what to call my headers and how to organize them. In general, every major topic gets a header (which we’ll call a Article Header if it is the title or an entire article or chapter, and otherwise call “H1”), and every sub-topic that is UNDER THE SAME TOPIC gets a header one size smaller (each numbered in order, with H2 smaller than H1, and H3 smaller than H2). Not every publisher has an H3 header, while some have H4 or even H5, and some consider an in-line bold (where you don’t change the font size, you just begin a paragraph with a bolded word, perhaps followed by a colon or em-dash) to be effectively the smallest header size.

For example, if I have a chapter called Equipment, then obviously “Equipment” is my article header. If I want to open that with an introduction, then I’d write have just the word “Introduction” as my H1 header. If I then do some general equipment rules as a new section, I have a new H1 “General Rules.” I don’t go to an H2, because my general rules aren’t part of the introduction. However, if after explaining that this is a section of general rules for equipment I want to describe each of those general rules (as examples, perhaps Availability, Cost, Encumbrance, and Durability), then each of those has an H2 header, as they ARE all sub-sections of general rules.

Here’s an example how that might be set up, though exactly how you format your headers is going to depend on your publisher—the writer’s job is to match the publisher’s requesting formatting, not to try to make your Word document match how the text will look min the end product. That’s the layout artist’s job, and your proper formatting helps them know what header should be what size and style.

[Begin Example]

[Article Title]Equipment 

You generally don’t want to have two headers right after each other, so here you might put a sentence or two equipment in your game. However, some publishers DO go directly from article title to your first H1, so check their house style.


Introduce why your game has equipment, and why characters care. This might just be a sentence or two, or it could be a philosophical essay about loot, treasure, power gaming, and how equipment does or doesn’t define characters in your game.

[H1]General Rules

This is a new section, still about equipment, but not part of the introduction anymore. So it gets it’s on H1, and here you talk about the fact these are general rules for equipment. If there are rules elsewhere that could interest with these (like skills, or crafting, or whatever), you might mention where those rules are found.


This is one specific “general rule,” so it gets a header one size down, an H2 compared to General Rule’s H1. Again, you can often tell what needs headers from a good outline. If you wrote without an outline, you can still go back after you are done and create an outline for a project, which may help you better organize it and determine which sections call of headers, and what kind.


Again the rules on cost are a specific “general rule,” so these get an H2, one size down from General Rule’s H1. At a glance, a reader can tell that both “availability” and “Cost” are separate ideas, both grouped under “General Rules.”


Here you put your encumbrance rules, still an H2, under General Rules.

[H3]Exceeding Maximum Encumbrance

If the core of the encumbrance rules are about determining how much a character can carry, and noting where the weights of equipment are listed, the rules for exceeding encumbrance limits are clearly related, but slightly different. By giving them an H3, one size smaller than the H2 of Encumbrance rules, you make it easy for readers to find this section (which they may only reference occasionally), and give yourself the option to point to just these rules if something modifies them (for examples if dwarves suffer a less severe penalty when they exceed their maximum encumbrance, in the dwarf race write-up you can give that lesser penalty, and tell the reader to “See “Exceeding Maximum Encumbrance” mon page ##” making it easy for them to find these rules).


Since durability is another general rule, it gets the same H2 header as Availability, Cost, and Encumbrance. A reader who gets to the end of the Exceeding Maximum Encumbrance section can tell from the larger header of “Durability” that they have moved on to a new topic.

[End Example]

When determining what your headers are and what to call them, keep in mind that headers are both organizational, and graphic. If a player is going to be looking for a rule section or specific bit of lore fairly often, it aids ease of play to have a header that points them to the right place. Headers can also make a page easier to read—two pages of nothing but column after column of text is more difficult to read through than one with a header or two to break up the monotony and give the eyes something to navigate with. On the other hand, a header called “Everything You Need To Know To Play A Halfling War Baker But Where Afraid to Ask” may be overpowering and look terrible on the page.

Consistency with headers can also be useful. If you are writing up 7 kingdoms, and each one has sections on culture, organizations, population, and threats, having that info groups under the same headers for each write-up can both make it easy for readers to absorb and understand the info, and keep you on track to not forget to mention any cultural notes about Kitchenaria just because you were excited about all the War Baker Guilds you wanted to write about. Keeping the writer on track is another benefit of good, well-defined headers.

As I noted, this is just a starting point on what headers are and how they work. When you are organizing your writing, it can be very useful to keep in mind what headers your publisher uses. If you don’t know, and there isn’t a style guide that tell you, don’t be afraid to ask. It’s a lot easier to know at the outline stage that you only have H1 and H2 options and in-line bolds, than to write a manuscript that assumed you can nest H5s and H4s and H3s to go down multiple tiers of sub-categorization. There are all sorts of things—such as sidebars, and tables, and page treatments, and section breaks, and so on—that can impact what makes sense for your headers, and even what your publisher will let you do. But understanding why you need headers, and how to decide what they should be, is a big jump forward for those without a strong grasp of them.

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