Monthly Archives: March 2019

The Icosantheon. No 7. Ovinnec

The Icosantheon is a host of twenty deities bound not by a common origin, but by a united conservatorship of the immaterium that forms the sides and edges of the material plane.

7. Ovinnec

The god of death, hunting, crops, and deception, Ovinnec is a god who appears in the form of various cats. Most famously he is depicted as a lean, comely man with an exposed chest and the head of a black cat, a black housecat, or a black tiger, though he can take the form of any male feline or feline-headed humanoids. Ovinnec is known by many names and forms in different cultures–dwarves often worship him as Grunuc Rat-Killer, elves as Olleanae the Living Night, and orcs as a one-eyed brown-skinned half-orc with a sabertooth tiger head called simply Slayer. Most cultures also name him as the Wild Visitor, though the origin of this title is not clear.

Ovinnec appears to be known and worshiped by all humanoid races who build permanent settlements, and most nomadic ones. Scholars often claim that the domestication of cats is so crucial to cultures being able to store grain and avoid undead that it only makes sense Ovinnec would send representatives to them. Some joke that Ovinnec taught cats to domesticate humanoids… which always makes worshipers of Ovinnec smile knowingly.

Ovinnec promotes hunting, as the domain of felines, and farming, as something that makes life easier for humanoids who should then provide cream, cheese, and blankets. As a hunter he is also a god of death, though unlike many gods of death his worshipers are not sworn foes of the undead. It’s not that Ovinnec wishes to destroy all undead–just to make sure they know he CAN, if they interfere with the delivery of his pleasure and comfort. While he promotes exploration, hunting, and farming, his one inviolate rule is that no feline is to be abused. If one attacks you or kills your crops, by all means defend yourself and your possessions. But to cause harm or pain where it is not needed it anathema.

He is rarely worshiped in large churches, but small shrines to him are extremely common–and are often filled with cats. Farmers claim anyone in need of a cat to hunt mice can go to any shrine of Ovinnec, and a kitten suitable to their needs will be present. Skeptics point out that if you have a place where a town feed and pet and protect cats, likely anyone can go find a kitten there. It is well known that Ovinnec is a close ally to Tazoteot, and his worshipers can operate out of their churches. This alliance is sometimes mocked as only existing because Tazoteot gives the best divine belly-rubs… a fact priests of Ovinnec have never denied.

*Ovinnec is Chaotic Good, but with an emphasis on chaos. His worshipers may be Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, Chaotic Neutral, or Chaotic Evil.
*Ovinnec’s colors are back, brown, orange, and white.
*His favored weapons are teeth and claws (including held claw-weapons), but also bows, scythes, and sickles. While other churches sometimes scoff that a god can’t have five ‘favorite’ weapons, worshipers of Ovinnec shrug and say “Maybe YOUR god can’t…”
*His favorite animal is the housecat, but also all cats and all creatures that are part cat.
*His servitors are sphinxes, but also cat sith, chimera, chinthe, and manticores. But not were-cats, who are reviled as creatures who steal cat form.
*His holy symbol is five curved slashes in the pattern of a cat scratch.
*His areas of concern are cats, death, deception, hunting, farming, and travel.
*His domains are Chaos (whimsy), Darkness (night), Repose (souls), Strength (ferocity), Travel (exploration), and Trickery (ambush and deception).

Druids who worship Ovinnec can only wildshape into feline forms (though they can be feline-shaped elementals) and can only have feline animal companions, but they get 6 skill points/level and add Bluff, Diplomacy, Escape Artist, Intimidate, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth to their class skill list. If they take a cleric domain as their nature bond, it must be one of Ovinnec’s domains or subdomains.

ENJOYED THIS? BACK MY PATREON!

Advertisements

The Icosantheon. No 13 – Tazoteot

The Icosantheon is a host of twenty deities bound not by a common origin, but by a united conservatorship of the immaterium that forms the sides and edges of the material plane.

13. Tazoteot
Deity of all sensuality and sexual thought. Tazoteot is also known as the Divinity of 10,000 Forms, because as deity of all forms of sensuality they cannot be contained by a single gender or shape. However, in all but 13 of their 10,000 forms, Tazoteot has glossy black lips.

Tazoteot is also know as the Demon God or Devil Goddess, because their original pantheon, the Cthonic Gods, all became fiends in the Ancient Times during the Discovery of Sin and turned to evil. But, as deity of ALL sensuality, Tazoteot refused to abandon their good followers. When the Cthonic Gods lost their true divinity and were bound to serve the eldest Daemons, only Tazoteot escaped their fate. However, Tazoteot retains considerable power drawn from fiends of all kinds as a result of this ancient history.

Tazoteot demands their followers acknowledge all forms of physical delight, but does not require them to embrace or perform any act a given worshiper does not wish to. They are unique in that they allow followers of any alignment–though Tazoteot is True Neutral themself, they does not care what ethos or goals their worshipers embrace as long as they do so with respect to pleasure.

Tazoteot does, however, forbid their worshipers from acting upon each other in any way without consent. This is poorly understood by other churches, that refer to it as the Silken Sanctuary.

*Tazoteot’s colors are black, gold, and crimson.
*Their favored weapon is unarmed/natural attacks.
*Their favored animal is the jaguar.
*Their servitors are the werejaguar witches, the forvlakke.
*Their holy symbol is a pillar within a ring, or a ring within a pillar.
*Their areas of concern are animal husbandry, birth, pleasure, relationships, sex, and truth.
*Their domains are Animal (fur), Charm (lust), Community (family), Destruction (torture), Healing (medicine), and Liberation (self-realization).

They also have special Fiendspeakers priests of any alignment can also access the Evil subdomains of Daemon, Demodand, Demon, Devil, and Kyton–though not the standard evil domain–and use the spells and powers of those domains without any automatic affect on their alignment (though if they use those powers to commit evil, that still impacts their alignment normally).

ENJOYED THIS? BACK MY PATREON!

What is the Secret of Social Media Engagement? The Answer May Surprise You!

Honestly, I don’t think clickbait titles (yes, like the one of this article) work that well anymore. At least, not at the few-thousand-followers level I am at. I suspect the rules are different both for people with fewer than 500 followers, and those with 100,000 or more.

In my experience, the secret to getting people to engage with you on social media (which is not the same as monetizing them, or getting them to respond to call to action, though it an be an element of those things) is twofold.

First, offer more content than requests or pitches. That makes people think of your primarily as a source, rather than an ad.

Second, when you want a high level of engagement, post something that both invites response, and that causes those responses to be more content. But that isn’t too difficult.

For example: “Change one word in a movie title to ‘fart.”

Yes, it’s juvenile. So, try to make your engagement posts on-brand. But a TON of people will happily post “Fart Wars!” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Fart!” and be amused.

That means people are reading, and liking, and posting, and then the social media platform is more likely to show it to other people, and THEY will engage, and…

Experiment with what your audience likes, and do more of those. But not too often.

Then, try to monetize your followers separately, with things like:

ENJOYED THIS? BACK MY PATREON!

Why Trauma Doesn’t Just End

This post is heavy, not gaming-related (at least mostly), personal, and from my perspective. I’m not claiming this is a scientific or universal explanation. Just my experience.

When you experience trauma, everyone seems to understand why it affects you immediately. You witnessed blood spraying from your mother’s face as a child. You got beating bloody by a random drunk you had never met before. You saw a naked woman clinging to the railing of a motel, screaming for help while a man tried to drag her inside. You were lured into the woods by someone you thought was a friend, so a group could jump you, force you into a ditch, and threaten to bury you alive.  You were in a car wreck. An earthquake. A wild fire.

In the hours and days after that, everyone gets it. It was traumatic. You were rattled. It sucked.

Years later, if something sets off those memories so you begin shaking, crying, screaming, some people don’t understand why you haven’t “gotten over it.” Why is it throttling back your productivity, or driving you to seek self-medication, or suddenly making you have nightmares. After all you were fine yesterday, right?

Well first, most likely not. But, second, life is a building, and it’s always growing. Every year is a new floor, every event and responsibility a new tenant you have to keep happy.

The foundation is SUPPOSED to be strong and reinforced enough to handle every floor you build. But some of us built our foundations under poor circumstances. The concrete was smashed, or the ground was swampy. When we put the first few floors on it, we are okay, but every floor is new weight. More and more strain on that foundation.

And not every floor gets built strong, or even correctly. Trauma is a fire on the 5th floor. A wrecking ball coming in through a corner office. Flooding in the basement.

So, we do what we can to shore it up. Self medication is trying to fix the problems of all that structural damage… but it’s not always good as a long-term fix. You’re not doing the work to code, because your problems are ones that sticking to code won’t fix. The tenants are complaining about the heat, because you never got the HVAC fixed after basement flooded. So you set about renovations in their apartments and offices. More windows, more doors, spruce the place up. Sure, you are cutting holes in retaining walls on the 27th floor to do it, but the building is only 28 floors tall, so who cares?

But then you build the 29th floor. The 30th. Ten more on top of that. The external braces you bolted on to make up for the weak walls can’t handle that strain. The cracks in the foundation split their patches under years of use and tons of weight.

You seem fine… but there are problems.

Then one day, winds are just a tiny bit stronger than usual. The buildings around you are fine. They can take it. But you? Your trauma-ridden structure, patches and braces and ad-hoc fixes can’t take it. Your whole frame bends. Windows pop out. Girders on the 5th floor buckle.

People look at you wand wonder what the big deal is. The fire that weakened those girders was 40 years ago. Why are you making a big deal about them now?

We can’t tear ourselves down and start over. And while major renovations sometimes can help bring us up to code, it can be extremely difficult to use a building while it’s being renovated. Do I kick out functions like going to work, paying the bills, helping people out, so I can get the work of replacing major columns done? Especially since the workmen can’t promise the columns will ever hold the same weight, and don’t know what they’ll find in the walls when we start tearing into things?

Or do I throw up some more supports, just give up on ever using the 5th floor for anything, promise we’ll add high-speed wifi to the whole building, and hope I don’t drill through a sewage pipe as I install the fiberoptic?

Trauma doesn’t go away. It leaves scars, and you often don’t know where they are, what they look like, or what will set them off.

I spent way too long trying to decide if I even wanted to link to my Patreon in this post. It seemed cheap, somehow, to talk about my pain and then ask for money.

But I know some very brave, smart, struggling people who do it, and I never look down at them for doing so. So maybe we normalize that emotional work is work, and it’s okay to suggest people be paid for it.

If you want to contribute to my writing and videos, check out my Patreon.

EDIT: A post-script.

Since people have asked, yes, all the traumas I list in the second paragraph are specific examples from my life. I left out the sexual abuse as a child, mockery for fat shaming, bullying as a nerd, and probably dozens of others that felt less relatable to the general public.

That’s not the point of this piece but yeah, for those of whom it seems to matter, those ARE all examples of trauma in one person’s life. Mine.

 

Ten Unlikely FOX/Disney Mash-Ups, Ranked!

So, as of today, Disney owns the FOX catalog of movies and television fiction.

Sure, that means LOTS more characters enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Star Wars: A New Hope distribution rights now go back to Lucasfilm. Those are the “mainstream” stories about this merger.

But Disney had made TONS of money building linked cinematic universes and rebooting properties in the past 15 years.

So, what are some unlikely but now technically possible combinations of new FOX acquisitions and old Disney properties they could try?

Here are Ten, ranked from worst to best.

10. Program of the APES (Planet of the Apes/TRON)

When an uplifted chimpanzee finds an old, independent research facility…. Nope. I can’t do it. Some great tastes just do NOT taste great together!

9. DIE HARD Wore TENNIS SHOES (Die Hard/The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes)


The only reason this isn’t the worst idea on this list is that I COULD see a way to do this as a parody… and Program of the APES really is a worse idea.

8. Serenity Witches (Firefly/Witch Mountain)

I mean, it might be fun just to see Browncoats’ heads explode. Mal and the Serenity must help a couple of psychic kids escape their government pursuers and return to the frontier planet Witch Mountain.

7. Swiss Family Robinson ALIEN

Yes, it’s a reach, but hear me out. In the future a family of explorers, with one famous example of being stranded, get stuck when their colony ship crashes on a deserted planet. They set about trying to survive already harsh conditions, when one of the animals finds this leathery egg…

Alien is at its best as either full-on military action, or small, isolated horror. Why not try that second one again?

(But if you do… yeah let’s NOT actually mention Swiss Family Robinson)\

6. Flight of the AVATAR

Do a straight-up remake of Flight of the Navigator, but with a Na’vi kid.

This is a heartless cash grab idea. Those always do well, right?

5. My X-FILES Project (X-Files, My Science Project)

A group of teens find the junkyard where the government sticks all the alien gadgets and gizmos that were stolen away to make sure the FBI team known as the X-Files can’t prove they exist. Now the X-Files are closed down, and it’s up to the kids to use the alien tech they have recovered to investigate other strange phenomenon.

Okay… I’d at least give this one a try.

4. Predator: Black Hole

I’m not saying there’s any tonal or aesthetic justification to linking these properties. I’m just saying if I get a movie post with Maximilian facing off against a Predator, and the tagline “The Most Dangerous Hunter Needs the Most Dangerous Hunting Grounds,” with the Cygnus and a black hole in the background?

I’m in!

And no one knows what to do with either franchise, so why not give it a shot?

3. Muppet Night at the Museum

Hear me out!

All you need is for the Museum where exhibits come to life to have a travelling Muppet display be installed, and hilarity ensues! Let’s face it, Night at the Museum could use a threequel, and Disney doesn’t know what to do with the Muppets anyway. And Miss Piggy karate chopping soldiers of all eras has some promise for comedy.

2. Kingsman/Pirates of the Caribbean

Look, Disney is GOING to make more PotC movies. If one of the new characters is a tailor, who gets a huge pirate treasure an uses it to begin training other tailors as super-spies? That’s a win.

1. The Orville/The Cat From Outer Space

This one is a no-brainer, but it should also be more an Easter Egg in an Orville two-parter, or MAYBE for “The Orville The Movie.”

But you can’t convince me a race of psychic cats isn’t perfect for The Orville.

BONUS MASH-UP

Ice Age “Live Action” Remake

Ice Age lost some steam, but still has lots of fans and great actors in its key roles. Just give us photo-real CGI prehistoric beasts, and people will pack the theaters.

This is the ONE idea on this page I think has any chance whatsoever of actually happening.

(Though if Disney wants to pay me to explain how ANY of these ideas could work, I’m available!)

PATREON
If you get use out of or enjoy any of the content on this blog, please consider adding a drop of support through my Patreon campaign!

StarBarians: The Saturday Morning Campaign Hack

Welcome StarBarians! You are the heroic defenders of the world of Barbarth, the most important Science-Fantasy world in the universe! You must oppose Lichlor, the undead technomancer tyrant, and his hoard of villainous themed villains.

StarBarians is a silly, high-action campaign hack for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game.

Male Alien Thug-color

(All art by the spectacular Jacob Blackmon!)

Character creation:

You are 2nd level. You’re never going to gain any levels until the very last adventure (whenever the GM says that is), when you pop up to 4th and get a new costume! This is a fast and silly game, there’s no need to worry about things like experience points. Or continuity. Or whether your feet are in sync with the rate the ground is going by.

Before racial modifiers, your ability scores are one 18, one 16, one 14, one 12, one 10, and one 8. Alternatively you can have one 20, four 10s, and one 8, or three 14s and three 12s. Assign as desired, but if you have an 18 or 20 in any ability score, no one else should. Be adults, work it out.

You get all the benefits of any one suit of armor of your choice that is 3rd level or less. You aren’t WEARING that armor, of course. You’re a StarBarian! You run around in a fur loincloth or (for some reason) skintight Victorian suit. But you get the benefits. If you want an armor upgrade, pick it as an item below, and just strap it on. It’s fine. Jump jets over fur boots is perfect for StarBarians.

You get ONE item of your choice of 5th level or less. this is your THEMED ITEM. You can never lose it for longer than the duration of 1 fight. It should have a name. Lichlor and his minions will try to steal it periodically, They never succeed. This item can be a suit of armor if you like, in which case you get its benefits instead of your baseline 3rd level armor when you wear it.

You get THREE other items of your choice of 3rd level or less.

You get 9 other items of your choice of 1st level.

Female Alien Rogue-color

If you selected a ranged weapon, its item level is 2 lower. All weapons with usage above 1 never run out of ammo or batteries. All weapons and items with a usage of 1 or that are 1-shot count as 3 items, but are fully restored at the beginning of each game session.

Each game session you can use the StarBarian Power to do two spectacular things (two different things, one each). This is because you have a StarBarian Stone. Lichlor is always trying to steal StarBarian stones. He never succeeds, and you can’t lose yours. Ever.

Starbarian Powers are based on class, can be performed whenever an appropriate roll or even occurs, and take no time.

Envoy

Treat a failed Int/Wis/Cha skill or ability check as if you had rolled a 20 on your d20.

Allow an ally who failed any d20 roll or check to treat it as if they had rolled a 15 on their d20.

HalfDragonBard-color-01

Mechanic

Succeed at any one Engineering check

Drone: Allow your drone who failed any d20 roll or check to treat it as if they had rolled a 15 on their d20.

Exocortex: Treat any failed attack roll as if you had rolled a 15 on your d20.

Mystic

Treat any failed saving throw of yours as if you had rolled a 20 on your d20.

Restore yourself or one ally to full health, ending all conditions.

Operative

Treat a failed Str/Dec/Con skill or ability check as if you had rolled a 20 on your d20.

Force a foe who succeeded on any d20 roll or check to treat it as if they had rolled a 5 on their d20.

Kalebold-Blackie-color-02

Solarian

Take an extra round of action.

Solar Weapon: Treat any one solar weapon attack that failed as if it had automatically hit and done maximum damage. Apply any critical effect, though don’t double your damage.

Solar Armor: Negate all effects of any one successful attack against you.

Soldier

Treat any failed attack roll as if you had rolled a natural 20 on your d20.

Replace any one damage roll you make, or that is made against you, with either maximum or minimum damage (your choice)

Technomancer

Force a foe to treat any successful saving throw against an effect of yours as if they had rolled a 5 on their d20.

End any one magic or technological effect with a duration.

Villains

Lichlor is a 4th level Technomancer with a +2 bonus to every roll he makes. But he always does minimum damage, and the duration of all his effects is a maximum of 1d4 rounds. No matter how often you defeat him, he always escapes.

Robot Juggernaut-color

His Themed Minions are CR 2 NPCs. They always escape between adventures.

FGG-WMD-color-01

Special Rules

No one ever dies. If you should have died, you are just unconscious.

PATREON
If you get use out of or enjoy any of the content on this blog, please consider adding a drop of support through my Patreon campaign!

Cheap Cool Common Minis: Sword and Shield

I could see this becoming a weekly thing… or not, depending on how popular it is.

The idea is to look at  a specific miniature for gaming I think is cheap ($1 or less, plus shipping), cool (well, I like it), and common (at time of writing, no promises you you come here 6 months later).

I won’t tell you specifically where to get it, though I’ll link to a Google page for options to get it . But check out your local friendly gaming store first! Especially if I am suggesting a randomized miniature you might find as a single… which today I am!

Need a male human or half-elf adventurer in a chain shirt with longsword and shield? Want something to turn into a pulp-era adventurer with some modifications?

Behold, from the HeroClix “The Mighty Thor” set, Captain America (#104)

Marvel-Heroclix-The-Mighty-Thor-Captain-America-006

Yes, like a lot of HeroClix, the sword can bend a bit. I find a dip in boiling water (CAREFULLY) followed by placing it in an ice bath held in the correct position usually fixes this. If not, i have TONS of spare swords I can glue in from metal equipment sprues.

Here’s a better shot, though this is obviously a CG render, rather than a live shot.

It is, of course, on a clicky-base, which is too big for a lot of games. But it’s easily enough to get a straightedge (don’t use a knife without being careful and experienced) under the lip of the figure base, and working it around to pry a tiny bit at a time, until it pops off.
Or, just cut it free at the feet. (With proper precautions and supervision, as appropriate).

413MVxyelnL_1024x1024

Works well as a dashing advanced-fantasy figure, but also a science-fantasy, modern fantasy, or (weirdly with a little work) a supers figure.

I found LOTS for sale under $1, though no promises you can.

But to me, this looks cheap, cool, and common!

PATREON
If you get use out of or enjoy any of the content on this blog, please consider adding a drop of support through my Patreon campaign!

Short Fiction: Weftwork

Vanre felt consciousness creep into her body like an unwelcome guest. She resisted the lure to open her eyes, or stretch her muscles, focusing instead on the warm, soft quilts piled above and below her… but to no avail. The very act of trying to find a way to stay asleep sent her mind racing through options, which inevitably meant she was awake now. Keeping her eyes closed was an act of rebellion rather than a viable tactic.

A soft scraping above her did cause her eyes to flutter open of their own volition, and her brain was immediately fully alert. Dim light leaked in through the shuttered window, casting dusky shadows across the wooden beams of her bedroom ceiling. The poor visibility was not, however, nearly enough to conceal the enormous arachnid clinging to the wooden boards above her.

Its body was more than a yard long, from it’s eight glossy black eyes and furred mandibles to the rainbow-striped abdomen. It’s eight legs spanned nearly the whole room, the longest set of fore-mid arms just inches from touching the ceiling’s corners ten feet apart. Most of the body was thickly furred, with only the orblike eyes, sharp fangs, and the leg’s numerous small claws at the tips and joints not covered in the bright pelt.

As Vanre’s eyes opened, the huge spider tilted, so it’s inhuman face lowered suddenly to be right over her head.

“Floor too cold again, Senneh?” Vanre asked with concern.

The spider’s shorter aft-mid legs dropped from the ceiling and waved meaningfully, the many clawtips forming precise, complex shapes.

Can you see me? The hand-sigils were fast and smooth, better than most webfolk Senneh’s age managed.

Vanre smiled. “I can hardly miss you, darling. You take up the whole ceiling. Just because my eyes can only look at one thing at a time doesn’t mean I’m blind to obvious things.”

I am never sure. There was none of the little wiggling clawtips that would suggest Senneh was joking. The floor was much too cold. Even with the old weavings you convinced the steward to give me, my joints ached. Water is becoming solid outside. Why do your kind live here? I liked our previous school much more.

Vanre sat up in bed, reaching up to rub Senneh’s face, enjoying how thick and soft the webfolk’s fur was.

“It’s a major port, nine months out of the year. And this is about as far south as the uriphants are willing to come. They don’t understand why we are willing to live places where water ever isn’t solid. Finding one place for all five civilized peoples to come together isn’t easy. Eleanear is about as good as it gets. And the Empire only allows one school for advanced magic.”

But it is COLD. Senneh used one of her fore-mid legs to repeat the last sigil, to give her complaint more emphasis.

Vanre stood, feeling the very chill air on her skin. She dared a very minor spell to freshen her skin, then began pulling on her uniform, hung neatly on a rack next to her bed.

“It is cold, sweetling. I’m sorry. If you want, you can just sleep in here until summer. We can even burn some charcoal in the brazier at night.”

You do not mind?

Vanre smiled. “Not at all. I don’t use the ceiling for anything.”

Vanre’s eyes drifted to her tiny desk, in the room’s corner, where an open book was covered in her own handwriting. The tight runs were interspersed with illustrations of webs, spinnerets, and weaving patterns.

Vanre’s smile grew. “Not yet, anyway.”

PATREON
If you get use out of or enjoy any of the content on this blog, please consider adding a drop of support through my Patreon campaign!

 

 

Creating SuperMemes

Superhero/comic book worlds often build off their pasts with legacies and spin-offs. A good example of this are the X-Men, who have an X-Gene that gives them mutant powers, are trained by professor X, and have had groups such as X-Factor and eXcalibre.

It may all seem a bit eXcessive, but it also greats a throughline readers can use to quickly understand how these individuals and groups are related.

So if you are going to build something for a superhero setting, why not put in the thought on how to turn a single idea into a whole meme? A set of related concepts you, and readers and players, can expand on over time.

Here’s a particularly obvious example you can build an entire set of superhero groups and concepts around: AB-Humans

The rise of “Advanced Biology” Humans, or AB Humans, was troubling and unexpected. It lead to the rise of mega-geniuses, extreme mutations, and people with true superpowers.

And, of course, costumed heroes and villains.

Doctor Amanda Bryant, a powerful telepath sometimes called “Doctor AB” tried to train some of the most powerful ABs to control their abilities and use them for the benefit of mankind. In an effort to show that this could be the standard, she called them the Normal AB Example.

The press quickly dubbed them the AB-Normals, and bigotry and fear dogged them constantly.

Doctor AB’s old colleague, Erica Magus, saw that society would never trust ABs, and knew that only armed resistance could protect this minority. She took in ABs no one else would give a chance, even those who had turned to crime and rage to survive, and made them her Knight Errants.

The AB-Errants.

Since then both groups have spun off side teams, the AB-Solvers and AB-Stainers, and AB-used being the best known.

PATREON
If you get use out of or enjoy any of the content on this blog, please consider adding a drop of support through my Patreon campaign!

The Secret to Being a Good GM

First, note that I am a HUGE believer in playstyle being variable. I don’t think there is one BEST way to do almost anything in gaming. I often get annoyed if people are being too silly when I want a serious story… but that doesn’t mean I am right and they are wrong. Similarly if a group wants to focus on tactical miniatures combat using RPG rules, that’s fine, as long as they are all having a good time.

But for me, and the styles I engage in the most, this is the thing that I have done as a GM, and that GMs of mine have done, that has generated the most total fun.

Ready for the secret?

“Create the environment to tell the PCs’ stories.”

That’s it. … And that is a lot.

Anything I do — building memorable NPCs, adding GMPCs, worldbuilding, props, funny voices, creating a meta-plot, creating random encounters–it’s all designed to create an environment where players can build the story of their characters.

Yes, I want to have fun doing that. But I am specifically trying to tell HALF a story. I don’t want to write how the villain falls. I want to write how he rises, grows, becomes a threat… the players will write his downfall.

To me, this idea has two main corollaries.

First: Build the details in the places the players show interest.

Yes, it can be annoying if I mention there are two people in a bar (a mysterious cloaked figure with a circle of runes floating around her head, and a dirty pig-farmer), and the players only show interest in the boring one I *didn’t* build an adventure around.

But that’s okay. All my ideas connected to the circle or runes are still available. I just get there a different way, or table them until later. If the players want to know what’s up with the pig farmer, then THAT is the story they want, and I’ll give it to them.

What IS a pig farmer doing in the same bar as women with magic halo crowns? How can he afford a drink? Why isn’t he tending his pigs?

The answers to those questions can form the same story, or a new one. I’m even okay railroading PCs… as long as I build the track through the scenery they want to see.

Second: Give PCs opportunities to change, and be changed.

Gaining a flaming sword? Kinda cool, especially for some players. Gaining the ability to make any sword you use flaming because you saved a fire elemental envoy from being killed by evil water wizards and were named a Knight of Emblazoned Honor, a peer fo the Plane of Fire?

Awesome.

Of course, the player can turn that down. Or then seek out other elemental titles. Or embrace the idea of fire being their birthright.

On a smaller (lower-level) scale, let players save the owner of a tavern, and get free drinks. Be befriended by an entirely mundane mockingbird. Have one horse hate them. As with all elements of telling their story put out feelers, and build on what the players enjoy.

Look at their character histories for hints on this. A summoner who doesn’t know why they can summon a chickenlike outsider? Give hints to multiple potential answers, and see which ones they build on. A fighter who carried their grandfathers sword from the Otyugh Wars? Leave hints their grandfather did more than they ever let on… and the sword may have a destiny as well.

While non-item rewards are part of this, so it just giving the players a sense that their characters impact the world in ways large and small, and the world can impact them as they interact with it.

Don’t force change. But make it available.

While, of course, trying to give players more of the things they seem to enjoy, and less of the things they don’t.

It’s the most complex simple thing in the world. 🙂

PATREON
If you get use out of or enjoy any of the content on this blog, please consider adding a drop of support through my Patreon campaign!