Author Archives: okcstephens

How I Set Up My New PF2 Game, “Gatekeepers.” Part 2: Houserules

Yesterday I discussed the optional rules I’m implementing for my upcoming “Gatekeepers” campaign for Pathfinder 2nd edition. On top of those, I’ve gone over the following houserules with my players, and we’ve agreed to use them. Since we are using character support software, I carefully crafted my houserules to be things that won’t alter the information a player needs on their character sheet. (So no bonus feat at 4th level for no reason, or adding +1d4 damage to attacks when attacking two-handed, these are all more universal action options and such.)

(The best houserules are shaped in the coal of past experience, hammered by a GM’s wisdom, tempered by the warm glow of good gaming, and yes I watch a lot of Forged In Fire, why do you ask? Art by Николай Акатов.)

HOUSERULES
These are just flat breaks from how PF2 rules are written, and I’m good with that.

Hero Points: Boosted Rerolls & Extra Actions
I like Hero Points in PF2, but I actively want to make them even more powerful. On purpose. (And, yeah, this is another in a series of power-up for players, and they all know what that’ll mean in terms of the kinds of threats I throw at them.)

If you use a Hero Point to reroll a check, it is a Boosted Reroll. On a Boosted Reroll, if the actual result on the d20 is a 1-10, you add 10 to the total. Thus the d20 value on a Boosted Reroll is always going to be 11-20. (As an aside this means you could perfectly well have Boosted Rerolls be a d10+10, rather than 1d20-add-10-if-less-than-11 without changing the math, but psychologically that weirds me out.)

There is a third way to spend a Hero Point – you can use it to gain one extra action on your turn, known as a Heroic Action. Any action you take on your Heroic Action ignores multiple action penalties for things you do this turn (normally multiple attack penalties), and does not count toward multiple action penalties for things you in the same round after taking your Heroic Action. You cannot use a Heroic Action as part of an activity that takes multiple actions.

Move And Manipulate
When you take a manipulate action that is not an attack action, and that only involves objects on your person that you can hold, you can also move your speed. Not only does this encourage a more mobile battlefield, it matches my personal experience from my days in live-action foam-sword gaming with the International Fantasy Gaming Society.

d20 = 2d10; Fumble on 2-3; Crit on 18-20
Okay, we aren’t actually implementing this one yet. But I often enjoy games with probability clumping more toward the middle than the flat distribution of a d20 (or d% for that matter). So the idea here is that all d20 checks instead become 2d10 checks. My feeling is that with the tighter math in PF2 (especially with no level to proficiency), that should work great as long as we make allowances for wanting success to go up one step/down one step more often than the 1-in-100 you’d get with fumbles on a 2 and crits on a 20. However, this also lets me make fumbles less common than 1-in-20 (which overall I like), and crits more common than fumbles (which conceptually I also like).

But none of my players have much-if-any PF2 experience (though they are all veteran gamers overall), so we’re going to stick with the classic d20 for the first few sessions, then we’ll try the 2d10 variant for at least one game session and see how we all feel about it. And, of course, I’d have to decide how (if at all) this impacted the Boosted Reroll houserule.

TOMORROW: THEMES AND BASELINES
Of course there is much, much more to a ttRPG campaign than the rules of the game. I’ve been playing with this group of gamers for 35+ years, and we’ve grown to a place where we can have an open and frank discussion about what GM and players both do, or do not, want to see in a campaign. tomorrow, I’ll discuss the planned themes and baselines of the Gatekeepers campaign.

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Gatekeepers PF2 Campaign Index

This is an updated index of all the articles I’ve written about my “Gatekeepers” campaign for Pathfinder Second Edition.

(The “Smoke Pine Taven,” in Tidegate. … Yes, “Taven.” Art by Asaneee.)

RULES ARTICLES

How I Set Up My New PF2 Game, “Gatekeepers.” Part 1: Rules Options
The initial list of houserules and optional rules the campaign began with.

How I Set Up My New PF2 Game, “Gatekeepers.” Part 2: Houserules
The campaign begins with a few pure houserules in place to alter the feel and flow of the game system.

WORLDBUILDING ARTICLES

As soon as they exist, they’ll go here.

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How I Set Up My New PF2 Game, “Gatekeepers.” Part 1: Rules Options

So, with the Really Wild West campaign closed, and me still needing to make sure I am engaged in rules that’ll be relevant to working on completing the way-too-delayed 52-in-52 subscription, I have concluded it’s time for me to run my first Pathfinder 2nd Edition campaign.

For reasons that will hopefully become clear later, I’m naming this the Gatekeepers campaign.

But, being me, that’s going to come with houserules and optional rules. Pathfinder 2nd Edition has a lot of really cool optional rules designed to help game groups find exactly the kind of ttRPG they want, and I’ve been wanting to try many of them out since before the game was published. Since we had a Session 0 to go over some basics for the campaign, here are the optional rules I worked out with the players during Session 0.

As the week progresses, I’ll talk about houserules, themes, quickstart gazetteers, and so on. Those articles will also all be linked from the Gatekeepers Index, so they’ll be easy to find.

(The adventure is likely to start here, at the “Smoke Pine Taven.” … Yes, “Taven.” Art by Asaneee.)

RULE OPTIONS
The PF2 GMG has lots of great rules for how to tweak the core system to produce a different feel or tone. I have gone with several of those options, and sketched out below along with why I picked them. It’s worth noting that these options are all supported by our electronic character software of choice, making them easy to keep track of.

Free Archetype
You get a free archetype feat at 2nd level and every even level thereafter. This significantly broadens the PC options and makes some classic protagonist tropes easy to model, and I like that flexibility. I know several players are looking at multiclass feats, but there are other interesting archetype options as well.

Ancestry Paragon
This slightly-more-than doubles the number of ancestry feats you get over the course of 20 levels. Ancestry feats have a high percentage of exploration, social, and on-theme abilities, and I like adding more of that flavor to a campaign.

Allow Nonhuman Half-elves and Half-orcs
I’m fine with dwarf/elves and goblin/orcs, or whatever other ancestral combinations players want to play with. I mean, I wrote Bastards and Bloodlines. Of course I’m down for weird ancestry combos.

No Coin Weight
Yes, it’s unrealistic. So is heroes who never have to go to the restroom. In 40 years of gaming, I have seen tracking coin weight slow down games way, way more often than I have seen it make the game more fun. My games normally enforce encumbrance rules, and I am certainly doing so with the bulk rules in PF2… except for money.

Proficiency Without Level
In this campaign no one (PC or foe) adds their level to their proficiency bonus for anything. This increases the threat of minor foes and dangers, and it lowers the total value of numbers people have to add in-play. Higher-level characters will still have a significant advantage due to things such as more feats, higher ability scores, special abilities, bigger damage and HP values, and so on. I’m excited to play PF2 this way and explore the feel it creates.

It’s easy enough for players to just not add this into their calculations. When running foes and monsters, I have to remove it, though that’s not hard (and there are electronic game aids that will do that math for me).

Automatic Bonus Progression
This replaces the need for potency, striking, and resilience runes with an automatic scaling potency bonus. This both allows a character to carry the same longsword at 12th level they began the game with at 1st (so if you grabbed the longsword off the mantle place that your grandfather carried during the Bloodletter Wars as a 1st level champion, that same blade can be part of your whole career and legend), and makes it easier for everyone to match the character vision they have with the gear they end up with.

TOMORROW: HOUSERULES
In addition to selecting some of the specific optional rules built-in to the Pathfinder 2e game engine, I’m also going to be implementing some not-in-the-book houserules, which I’ll go over tomorrow.

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I Am A College Dropout And Professional Writer

I do not have a college education.

I can, technically, list “some college” on forms or resumes as my highest educational level, but I got 0 credit hours from that “some college.” It wasn’t a great time for me, and I failed everything. Yes, every single class. For three semesters in a row. And, really, the impressive part of that story is that I talked my way past the admissions panels and deans of schools twice after failing every single class I took. While my close friends and colleagues know I can be a tenacious debater (I mean, I also talked my way into my High School diploma, which I was technically 1/2 credit short of earning), I have to suspect being a cis white male who was the son of two university employees (a professor and an executive secretary trusted to log information about radioactive materials) has as much to do with it as my blessing of blarney.

I was invited into a scholastic fraternity too, after three semesters of all-failing grades. So, yeah, I was treated by a nonstandard set of rules.

But I gave up, and walked away, and got jobs as a pizza delivery driver (a few times), movie theater usher (for one week, before I quit), banquet setup crew, short order fry cook, and the manager of a student union’s parking garage. All the while, what I wanted to do was write, preferably for big professional game companies.

And that left me in a bit of a pickle when I was applying for those professional jobs in the game industry in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As tempting as it was to write “Education: Talked my way into a High School Diploma and got enrolled in the same college three times despite failing ever class every semester — ask me how!” I’m not a big risk-taker when it comes to promoting myself. I was aware that cutesy things (sending in your resume as a character sheet or formatted as an adventure, doing it on pink paper with sketches of unicorns in the margins, literally folding it into origami that popped open as you tugged on it) were things some other applicants did, and that I just lacked the aura of whimsey to pull off.

So, for years: “Education: High School Degree, Aegis English Advanced Writing Program, Some College.

(And “Aegis English was just a special talented student program in High School, but I figured it sounded cool, and if someone asked me about it at least I was at an interview stage, where I could pile on the effort to be a strong advocate for my position.)

I picked and choose from other jobs that made me sound organized and team oriented. Being a manager of, well, anything was better than a big gap in my work history. Customer service at a bank suggested I could pass a background check. Most of the rest of it? Chucked in the proverbial bin.

Once I was actually on-staff at Wizards of the Coast for 14 months from 2000-2001, that became the crown jewel in my resume for a while. I figured a staff game industry job, followed by dozens of freelance projects for the same company, suggested I did good work. Then repeated freelance work for other companies. Then there was regular work for Super Genius Games. Then a developer gig for Green Ronin, which became the thing I built all my resume around.

And I began to wonder… was listing “High School, Some College” helping me, at all. Or, with no degree to point to, no specialty listed, no ongoing education in years, was I just highlighting one of my weaknesses? If I could get some staff jobs and tons of freelance, didn’t that matter a ton more than a sheepskin? No matter how undereducated I was, I could clearly put words together in a way that generated repeat business, which ought to be proof enough I wasn’t an idiot.

Now, to be clear, if I HAD had a degree in anything relevant, like English, Literature, History, Archeology, Film Studies (you know, just to mention some stuff there are Paizo employees with degrees in), sure, I’d include it. But there comes a point where the fact I was the manager of a parking garage, or could bread and fry cutlets, doesn’t really say anything about my ability to be a good fit for a staff job about making up worlds and rules and adventures.

It was actually my application to Paizo in 2014 when I decided “Fuck listing my education, with its high school and a few hours of college but no degree. I have more than 15 years of relevant, noteworthy, easily referenced work in this field. No one gives a shit if I don’t have a degree.” What I did do on that resume was list every single publication I had been paid for and was credited with. Every Dragon article. Every d20 Weekly byline. Every sourcebook, pdf, online adventure, and official website rules-answers article. Pages and pages of them.

Quantity, I felt, had a quality all it’s own.

(It was also, I have since been told by people who had to read it, a bit much. Nowadays I tend to lump things like Dragon articles and official advice columns into an entry that says “Various articles for Dragon Magazine, published from 1998 to 2009, list available upon request.”

And I can safely say in nearly a decade since making that decisions, whether applying at small ttRPG game companies, megacorporations, or start-ups, no one has asked me what my educational background it.

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Supers Idea: EuroVigil

Be it a comics pitch, background worldbuiding idea, or a supers adventure sketch, here’s a quick rundown on the concept of EuroVigil.

The EuroVigil Hero Contest has been held every year, in one form of another, since 1946. Hosted by the European Broadcasting Guild (EBG), it was originally an opportunity for the ad hoc WWII costumed heroes to gain greater visibility and compete to be members of the Peers, the Eurpoean Superhero Group set up to ensure the escape Nazi villains of the era would be unable to clone fallen madmen and tyrants, build factories to produce hordes of evil robots, train cyborg wolf armies, or unleash mind-control devices, all of which were surprisingly common concerns at the time.

Each hero for the EuroVigil is nominated by local agencies in their home country, the process for which can vary wildly. In France, it is determined by popular public acclaim. Germany trusts the Federal Minister for Empowered Affairs. In England, it remains one of the legal prerogatives of the Monarch to choose an entrant, though the decision is normally vetted and researched at great length before an announcement is made. Norway leaves it to their oldest serving Peer to select a candidate. Greece, Italy, and Spain all have a series of regional contests, and so on.

One selected, the contestants are broken into “Flights,” each of which is assigned to a region of Europe half the time, and to the Peer’s training facility half the time. While assigned to a region, each Flight is assisted in finding and handling crimes, disasters, and public appearances. When at the Peers facility, the heroes are tested in a variety of ways, from obstacle courses to sparring matches to being pitted against various simulated common dangerous situations (burning buildings, hostage rescue, sinking boats, and so on).

After each weekly set of events is finished television and radio broadcasts are put together to show highlights, and nearly all the raw footage can be viewed online. Each participating country then issues a set of votes, half determined by a panel of experts (often including retired heroes, firefighters, and civilian oversight groups), and half by the popular vote of the country’s population. The lowest vote-getters are cut from the program immediately, and a new week of events begins.

Though the program has remained popular for 3/4 of a century, there are criticisms. Often charismatic or kitschy contestants receive more votes than boring but effective heroes. National and international politics are seen as playing an oversized role in early selection and the editing of each week’s broadcasts. Some entrants are accused of seeking fame and fortune rather than a life of service and helping others. However, most winners do receive and accept an invitation to become one of the Peers, now the official European Union superhero team, and numerous runners-up have attracted enough support to become successful major international heroes.

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The Dichotomy

As a GM, I often want to make sure I am providing a rich environment where players can roleplay, explore, build connections and networks, expand into their own character and story, and feel they have a voice within and impact on the world they are thrust into. I try avoid making every session just a “monster of the week” fight, or endless dungeon stomp.

As a player I love those things when they seem to evolve naturally. When it feels like they are being forced and this results in slow sessions where no player is particularly engaged and things are sow, I desperately wish we could just go smash undead/punch fascists/shoot robots. I much prefer even a typical monster-of-the-week fight to a roleplaying session where things aren’t gel-ing.

This makes me wonder how often I am trying to hard as a GM, failing to just let things naturally evolve on the RP side. I have begun to think part of the issue is that my own GM style tends towards crucial, needful conflicts that can’t wait. That’s partially in response to my players generally being the opposite of murder hobos — they don’t want to have characters that murder and loot for the sake of murdering and looting, but want to be heroes who put themselves in harms way while saving others… even as they as players enjoy the action and reward of fighting and looting. So, I often generate foes who *must* be opposed for ethical reasons, and then players feel like they can’t take a day off without letting someone down.

Maybe I can find a way to have more fights and risks be optional, things you can feel good about going and opposing, but not feel bad if you let them sit because everyone really wants to help the orphaned goblin child find a home this week.

This is the other side of roleplaying for me; the flip side of rules and tactics and action economies and even storytelling. The fine tuning of figuring out what activities the GM and players will all enjoy going through within the game.

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#MotiePitch: Spread

Or rather than a movie pitch, you could use this as the plot to an adventure, a backstory, or a campaign kickoff.

Spread

A new viral breaks out. It has a very slow incubation period, very few external symptoms, and requires personal contact to spread, so by the time it is detected it exists worldwide, and no one is sure how many people have it.

People who get it are largely immune to bacteria, fungus, parasites, and other viruses. Also, they can recognize each other by touch, and have a primal urge to care for and protect each other. They aren’t telepathic and don’t always agree on anything else (including the best way to protect and care for each other), but they do all feel “curing” them, or slowing the spread of the virus, is bad. And some “Spreaders” feel their best bet is to infect as many people as possible, so the number of them that want to protect each other goes up, even though that requires lots of close personal contact.

Meanwhile, governments of the world begin to realize Spreaders could mean the end of the existing global power structure. First they try to deny Spreaders have any benefits, then briefly hammer on the truth unknowns — will Spread mutate? What are the long-term effects? But quickly, it becomes a combination of clanism and competing narratives. Stories claim some Spreaders have begun attacking anyone not infected in zombie-like biting sprees, but no one knows if it’s true and, even if it is, how common it is or what provocations might be present. More believable reports claim in in 1 million people die slow, agonizing deaths if they catch the Spread, but even that can’t be proven to the masses one way or another.

Spread becomes a new global faction, growing through a dedicated outreach program of its members without any core leader, debatable ideology, or unified message. Spreaders claim universal infection would mean utopia. Ethical objectors say much too much is unknown about how Spread will impact humanity over generations, philosophers object to the biological compunction of it overriding free will, and uninfected people in power simply have no interest in losing their positions to a virus.

Can a compromise be found, or will humanity destroy itself because of an infection that makes it want to selflessly help itself?

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Really Wild West: Doomstone Campaign Ends

I wanted to spread this info over 5 articles last week. I started several of them. but I also got kidney stones… and that derailed everything. So, here is 5 articles worth of content and pictures, all crammed into one post.

End of an Era… of Gaming

Since moving back to Oklahoma, I have been running a Starfinder play mode I called the Really Wild West, in a campaign titled Doomstone. We just wrapped it up in my last session.

I don’t get to actually complete campaigns all that often. Scheduling or relocation usually kills them off first, and honestly burnout of myself or players is more common than wrapping a whole campaign plotline. And, to be fair, some games I designed to be endless sandboxes, so there was no “end” for the storyline to reach.

I originally intended to turn Really Wild West into a commercial setting book, so there is a ton of art and game rules and background for it on this site. Given how far behind I am on other projects that’s certainly not happening anytime soon (thankfully I never took money or preorders for it), and it may never happen. But the material is all still available, so you can see where I was going with it. And I never let anything go to waste, so the core material will likely show up in *something*.

For those of you who were following along back when I was posting session-by-session updates, here’s a super-quick rundown of the campaign, minus subplots. (There’s tons of cool stuff I just don’t have time to go into for a summery –how the PCs got the pistol Killdemon, the redemption of Beardcutter Ben the Shaver’s friend, the duel where Crackers Jack threatened to murder a the mysterious gunslinger who killed his brother only to in the end shoot himself in the hand so honor is satisfied, the Tombspider Inn, BoHoss the Ogre, Tex Tanner the Helium Baron, Ceasear — professional snuggler, “that Goddamn Manticore”…)

Earth, 1891. Magic and fantasy creatures have always been part of the world. Last year, the Martains attacked in the first War of the World.

The PCs (a centaur paladin, mysterious gunslinger, fenrin bounty hunter, human mechanic technopolitin, and orc cartogramancer easterner) were each for their own reasons on a train headed west. It’s attacked by teleporting serpentfolk bandidos who, it turns out, are trying to steal a safe being transported by the Fonts & Bismark company. The safe contains a Martian Power Generator, salvaged from a Martian tripod.

The PCs do some investigating, and come to believe the attack was funded by the East Hudson Bay Fur Trading Company, who have also taken over a local ranch and are making life difficult for its neighbors. Investigating further they discover the EHBFTC is funding a dig into a mesa where a genius known as Professor Adremelich is using converted Martian Digging Machines to access Demiplanes, including one with serpentfolk, and one with svirfneblin the Professor is using as forced labor. Using svirfneblin crystal tech after liberating them, the PCs raid the Serpentfolk demiplane, and cut it off from the Material Plane.

Evidence gather suggests Professor Adremelich wishes to become a Darkling, a more-than-mortal creature empowered by one of the Fates Worse than Death. Specifically he appears to be possessed by the Venom King, a medieval worldwide threat put down by the centaur paladin before she died, and the return of which is why she has been brought back.

The PCs commandeer one of the Martian Digging Machines and the mechanic technopolitan converts to be their expedition vehicle, the “Armadillo.” The PCs begin to see themselves mentioned in the papers, and decide to take the name “Knight Rangers,” rather than be stuck with some yellow-journalism appellation.

The Armadillo

They also encounter a Deputy of Death, a psychopomp cavalryman who warns that someone has escaped the Lands of the Dead, and if the deputies can’t bring him in their boss, “The Marshal” will come handle it personally. The Marshal getting into a fight on the Mortal plane could be… catastrophic.

Like, end-of-the-Olmec Empire catastrophic.

Realizing that defeating a proto-Darkling will require mystic aid, the group head to Hellgate, Montana, home of the famous hellgate University which allows the licensed study of fel magic, and thus should have experts who can help. Along the way they face Sumerian Vrock Demons, Angry Minotaurs (who they placate and befiend), and a cyborg named “Barron the Immortal”” who is causing all sorts of trouble, and they deal with him scoffing at the “Immortal” part of his name.

Of course the expert they need is currently lost after taking an expedition into the dinosaur-infested Badlands. Also, Hellgate appears to have a mole, and another cult is found supporting a myserious cigar-smoking man who clearly also wishes to become a Darkling, the Bloodletter, and is not as far along as the Venom King but is apparently working with him.

The PCs go rescue the expert they need, put an end to a spreading ghoul plague among the dinosaur population, drop a boxcar on a ghast allisaurus while using a holy smite to empower it, discover the mole in Hellgate U is the Chancellor who is also the Bloodletter Darkling wannabe, get attacked by Barron the Immortal again (who, it turns out, cut up his brain and used it to empower multiple mechanical bodies), and get a line on where Professor Aremelich is.

Their expert will make them a nail to drive through a Darkling’s shadow, so shooting them with a bullet will kill the darkling position itself, never to return. But, she also recommends they use the Chancellor’s research to find King Arthur’s Spear, Rhongomiant, which was forged to destroy the Darkling of Betrayal but was never used against it. The PCs raid the Chancellor’s secret base, slay a vampire, and get his notes. those take them to a hidden valley where there is a gate to the fiendish demiplane where the lost Legio IX Hispana Roman legion has existed for centuries, having turned to diabolism to survive a massacre and the fall of the Roman empire.

Fight on a giant gearwork dimension device, lots of Roman themed devils, free the people living under fiendish tyranny, get the spear. Encounter a second Psychopomp Deputy of the Marshal of Death, who warns time is getting short.

Upon returning to Hellgate, they discover it’s been attacked by a Martian Walker, the first anyone has managed to get functional since the War of the Worlds. They immediately help the US cavalry track it down, discover it’s a distraction drawing eyes away from a third Barron the Immortal, who is trying to complete a Martian Factory they began building just weeks before they fell to disease. The PCs stomp him and it, and find notes suggesting there’s just one Barron left… the most powerful of them.

They also discover a working Martian interplanetary communicator, and from its signal learn the Martian elite back on Mars are diabolists, and they are planning a second invasion… eventually.

The Knight Rangers still need to deal with the Tripod, and hunt it down with the Armadillo, fighting it in a Ghost Town. They win.

(I never made the Armadillo paper model I meant to, to that green vehicle in the background stands in for it)
(I love my cardstock Old West buildings)

Tracking Professor Adremelich to Helena, Montana, they find the city is cut off by an evil vapor projected from a Paddle Steamer. They sneak up on and attack the Steamer, ultimately dealing with its owner an ancient Sumerian Elf Vulture Diabolist. Upon killing him, the Mysterious Gunslinger PC discovers he has become a Deputy of Death, for bringing in a long-outstanding fugitive, giving him natural ghost gun advantages

Helena saved, they advance on the Monarch hotel, where Professor Adremelich/the Venom King is preparing to perform the ritual to become a full Darkling. To get to him they must face the last Barron the Immortal… who is a giant mechanical spider n the third act.

From there they descend into the basements beneath the Monarch, then the sub-basements, then they discover the builders had ignored numerous warnings from pre-Columbian cultures that said not to dig here. This is because when a Darkling brought down the Olmec Empire, his disciples had fled to North America, and build an underground Ziggurat to try to bring him back. The heroes of the existing lost-to-history native cultures of the time (referred to as the Woodland Mounds culture by some RWW historians) defeated them and left warnings which later cultures in Algonquian- and Siouan-language speaking peoples had maintained and respected.

The builders of the Monarch had not.

It is revealed Professor Adremelich has been hired to build digging machines to go even deeper below the Monarch, had encounter the darkling Cult Ziggaraut, and because of the poisonous Black gas the Martians has used in the War of the Worlds was so power, the dead Venom King had been able to whisper to the professor, hooking him as a host. Now, in that cavern, the Knight Rangers must face the about-to-ascend Venom King one and for all, in an ancient cavern littered with his failed technological and magical experiments, magic teleporting portals, two canopic guardians, a venom specter, a stream from the River Styx, and the Venom King himself.

(I got to use pieces from… 6? … different brands of terrain/structure/map products in this fight)

The fight was long and hard, but in the end, the Canpoic Guardians were destroyed, the mechanic kept the mystic or technological experiments from coming to life, the bounty hunter took down the undead chimera, the technomancer dispelled the Venom King’s displacement and other defenses, the Paladin pinned his shadow to the ground with Rhongomiant, and the Gunslinger took the only and only bullet they had to destroy him forever, and made an attack roll in the open, for all to see.

And rolled an 18. And shot the bastard right between the eyes, destroying that threat forever.

There was some wrap-up after that. The Marshal of Death dropped by to say the issue was settled. The paladin discovered she didn’t have to die to keep the universe balanced. Everyone agreed to invest in the mechanic’s soon-to-be-established tech company.

So, for now, game over.

I mean THAT game. I’m still getting together with these folks, who I have been playing with for 35+ years, and bouncing dice. Just not, for the moment, the Really Wild West.

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I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more of my home game notes (or more rules for various game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

The Current OneBookShelf AI Art Policy

Anyone selling anything on DriveThruRPG.com should read their whole page of policies, but relevantly for AI art, the currently-final policy is in place regarding using Tool- and AI- art in products and how they need to be notated.

I like this version much better than previous draft.

You can find the full text at the link (https://onebookshelfpublisherservice.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/227866467-Product-Standards-Guidelines), but I’ve copied the bit crucial for this issue below.

Tool- and AI-Generated Images

The following policy applies only to titles listed by publishers on DriveThruRPG. Other sites and community programs are, for now, exempt from these rules. 

3rd Party Tool-Generated Images

All product listings that feature art or maps generated using a tool or service designed to reduce or offset the artistic process (such as donjon, Inkarnate, or Dungeondraft) are required to utilize the Format > Creation Method > 3rd Party Tool-Made title filter, except in the following instances:

  1. the tool uses only art assets that you have created by hand;
  2. the art has undergone additional processing or modification post-generation (such as animating generated maps or tokens, painting and compositing over content, etc.); or
  3. the product is expressly approved by OneBookShelf.

AI-Generated Images

All product listings that feature art created automatically by an AI-generation tool meant to bypass or replace human artistry, such as ArtBreeder, MidJourney, NightCafe, etc. are required to utilize the Format > Creation Method > AI-Generated title filter, except in the following instances:

  1. the art has undergone significant processing/modification post-generation; or
  2. the product is expressly approved by OneBookShelf.

Note for AI-Generated Stock Art

Titles containing any art rendered by AI-generated tools that are sold as “Stock Art” (under the Product Type > Publisher Resources filter) must also display the following statement in their product description:

This product contains assets that were, wholly or in part, procedurally generated with the aid of creative software(s) powered by machine learning.

Titles that do not comply are subject to removal from the marketplace. Repeat offenders may have their publishing permissions revoked.”

Given the unsettled nature of the legal status of copyright on art made with AI, it makes perfect sense to me to want to make sure customers buying stock art (which they will presumably use in their own products), be aware of the nature of the product they are purchasing.

As with all things AI art I’m keeping an open mind and continuing to research and consider, but overall I support this policy given where we are in the cycle of AI art and legalities, and how it focuses on stock art a customer may use in their own products.

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#SettingPitch: Dwarf Planets, Dwarf Gods

Just a quick idea for a scifi-horror or urban modern fantasy campaign.

DWARF PLANETS, DWARF GODS

Each planet is a god… but only as long as they are revered as planets. Pluto was the gatekeeper of the realms of the dead. Its power was vast, but focused entirely on keeping the vile undying of the extrasolar void away from the worlds of light.

Now? Now Pluto is only a dwarf planet, and thus only a dwarf god. The civilizations of Earth have noticed as things get worse and worse, but don’t understand why. Small vile things from the cosmic true vacuum have been slipping past, and people are affected. But that was just the first cracks. Years have past. Pluto is tiring.

It’s about to get much, much worse. And much, much more obviously supernatural.

The mummies of Mars are rising. The vampiric tombs crawling along Mercury’s dayside are slowing, inching closer to the darkness that can awaken them. The ghoul spores of the world that became the asteroid belt are stirring. The angry Red Specter of Jupiter is awakening, and preparing to burst forth from his cyclonic cage.

The other god planets are preparing to do what they can. To empower people, organizations, and creatures to defend against the growing threat. But each god planet is already has its full attention and power dedicated to other concerns. Jupiter can spare little attention for the Red Specter, else the infernal comets it deflects from life-bearing worlds will smash into the inner system. Saturn’s rings must kept the ecliptic harmonic in balance, lest the constants of the current universe vary.

The god planets will help where they can, but it is humanity that demoted Pluto. It is humanity that must bear the brunt of the consequences.

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