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#RPGaDay2021 Day 18 - "Write"

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  Volk the Scribe, by Steve Stark Mages write spellbooks. Storekeepers maintain records of their purchases and sales. Spies send secret correspondence between themselves and other people. Lovers send letters to each other. Travelers maintain a log of where they've been, and what and who they've seen. In a fantasy RPG setting, virtually everybody that players come across is writing. As my Trinity co-creator and I were discussing dwarves a few months ago we realized that there was an inherent problem and an opportunity. Dwarves are a very lawful and organized people with a strong sense of the community, and we realized that any old dwarven merchants probably have an obscene amount of writing that they've maintained over their career. Assuming they track every purchase, sale, inventory change, piece of correspondence and so on associated with the business, at the end of their 200+ year lives they must have chests full of dusty books, old scrolls and maybe even randomly scribbl

#RPGaDay2021 Day 17 - "Trap"

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Cover art for Grimtooth's Traps  by Flying Buffalo   Despite being a certified Evil GM (tm) I've never really been a fan of traps. I throw them in occasionally, but just mundane ones designed to keep people out, not the subtle ones that people have concocted over the years. Grimtooth's Traps is the grandfather of all trap books, and in it, and its many sequels, it brings the art of trap making to new heights. They are not just examples of how the traps look to players, but show the implementation of them and what it would take to create  (and possibly defeat) them. Traps like these are designed to be encounters on their own, with significant resources put into their creation and with a goal of not just deferring intruders, but often ending them. Still, they have just never been something I wanted to put into my dungeons--which makes it all the more surprising for my players when I do. Today, I'm going to be talking a few of my standard traps, and the innovations I'v

#RPGaDay2021 Day 16 - "Villain"

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  The Strongest Enemy Ever by Ry Spirit Nothing spices up a game like a good villain. They motivate the party, give the GM a legitimate way to annoy his friends and create story arcs that are memorable. For this essay, I'm going to go a little bit different than usual: I'm going to list some characteristics of a good villain, with some examples, but I'm also going to provide some examples of villains who were lessened because they didn't have these qualities. Personality The first, and most important characteristic of a villain is a personality. They can be arrogant, aloof, obsessed, deranged or even cheerful--but they have be something that makes them memorable when the party meets them, especially early on. There are so many wonderful examples of this, but I'm going to point to Joker in The Dark Knight as played by Heath Ledger. To me, that character comes into his own with the infamous "pencil trick" which cements him as dangerous and totally in charg

#RPGaDay2021 Day 15 - "Supplement"

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  GURPS Complete Collection (with joke titles) - Uncredited Supplements are the backbone of the RPG industry. They not only offer more opportunities to build out a game system, but provide incremental revenue sources for the publisher and/or secondary creators. Today, I'm going to be talking about what I look for (or don't) in supplements. For purposes of this, I'm going to assume that there is a core book (or two core books) for the game. D&D has the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide as separate core books. Numenera split their one core book into Discovery and Destiny. Dungeon Crawl Classics has one book with everything. The Critical Few After I've read a new game's core book, the first supplement I reach for is its "Monster Manual" equivalent. After 40 years of gaming, I can bring up all the fantasy creatures I want for a game, but if  the game is Cthulhu horror, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Cyberpunk or surreal, I really want a

#RPGaDay2021 Day 14 - "Safety"

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  "Safety" by Griffstuff My pinned Tweet has been unchanged since I put it up last November, and I have no intention of changing it anytime soon. Its message is simple, and I'm reposting it and my response comment below: I just commented about safe-space gaming to someone. And I just want to reiterate: Every game I run is a safe table, regardless of race, gender, LGBTQ status, being an introvert or anything else. And if I don't know the players, I tell them that explicitly.   I have to add two things: 1. My table is also welcoming. I really appreciate people being there. 2. It also includes being welcoming to people who are new to the game we're playing. Everybody was new once.   Nobody should ever feel they made a mistake sitting at my #TTRPG table.   To carry these ideas forward, I'm going to describe a topic that is very dear to me: how I ensure that players always feel safe, comfortable and welcome at my table as a GM. I'll also touch on how I do that

#RPGaDay2021 Day 13 - "Flood"

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  The Old World by Alyn Spiller For the last three years, I've put header art on all of my essays. I do this because it adds an interesting graphical element to my text-only essays. But very quickly, I realized that the art actually inspires some essays or brings in detail that add more depth to the articles. This is one of those. I had decided that "flood " was a great launching point for one type of essay, but on seeing this piece by Alyn Spiller, I realized I had to write a completely different essay to do it justice. Beneath the Waters of Our World Water is an amazing and often underutilized element for Role Playing Games. In the real world, we have  thousands of marine biologists, oceanographers, educational, corporate and private diving expeditions. Snorkeling and scuba diving are an hugely popular pastime for vacationers. And yet, we honestly know almost nothing about what is in the ocean. We can make maps of the bottom of the ocean, and have little idea what's

#RPGaDay2021 Day 12 - "Think"

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  The very first thing that came to mind when I read "Think" as the word for today was Aretha Franklin's 1968 song of the same name. She made Think universally famous through her performance of it in the Blue's Brothers movie. She explained things in no uncertain terms to Matt "Guitar" Murphy, and when the queen of soul has something to say on the subject, it's best to let her do the talking. Sadly, she wasn't talking about RPGs and so I was forced to come up with my own essay. What came to me next was "Give me an INT check" which is a common GM tool for remembering a fact, getting a hint, or showing knowledge or an understanding that exceeds what the player knows. Each of these is a completely different circumstance, and that's what I'll be reviewing today. Remembering A Fact During the course of an adventure or even a campaign arc, many details will come up. Some characters record important information in a book; campaign summari