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Review: "Help Wanted" Adventure Module

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  This is a longer format review of an innovative RPG adventure product, Help Wanted , from I Write Adventures .  First off, the understated description on the cover really says it all: Unobtrusive Adventure Template Creative GM's Taking those one at at time:  "Unobtrusive" means that the scenario does not attempt to tie you to a specific setting or even RPG system, nor does it attempt to impose anything on your world other than what you choose to include. To me, this makes it an incredibly innovative product. I've seen a lot of "can use it anywhere" and "system independent" products, but they usually require work to make them fit. That brings me to the second word "Adventure Template" which is exactly what it is. It presents a basic scenario and a couple of maps, but leaves it to you, as the GM, to provide the details for what's going on, what the encounter means in the greater scope of things, how difficult it is, etc. But it does s

Using Sandbox Gaming Techniques in your Regular Game

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Introduction On Friday, I gave a keynote speech at my Dungeons & Toast Toastmasters group. This is the first-ever Toastmasters club designed to meet the needs of RPG players and gamemasters.  The speech was called "The Three Secrets of Tywardin" and began with the story of a lost city found by characters deep in a large forest. I went on to explain that the characters only found the city because the players showed an interest in some scene details and improv turned into a multi-day storyline. I explained that the shift from the normal improvisation of details to enabling the characters/players to help direct the story is called Sandbox gaming (also known as open world gaming.) I then provided some tips on how to easily add sandbox concepts to existing games without changing those games. The speech was a big success, and I was asked to provide notes on it, so people could go back and refer to it. Rather than writing down the whole speech, I'm going to summarize it, wh

The Darkest House Observations

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  Monte Cook Games always excites and impresses me with their new products. Numenera was obviously transformational, The Strange  has amazing potential for multi-genre play, and Invisible Sun , in addition to its obvious quality has transformed how I play RPGs in General. Their newest Kickstarter is for a completely new concept...a horror setting which can either be used stand-alone *or* connected to any other game you are playing, using a new translation mechanic they call the "House" setting. Introduction Some basic concepts, based on the literature or interviews with the team: Based on playtests, your translated characters, from other games, feel like themselves. The game has about 50 hours of content, and is replayable based on choices you make. More important, you don't play it all at once...you might have 1-2 sessions, then escape...until the House pulls you back in. When you leave the house, you permanently leave or gain things that you take back to your "norm

Ecology of the Weregoose

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In a recent Twitter RPG discussion, a friend revealed that a weregoose was the main villain in a small rural town. I quipped that at least it wasn't a wereswan, and got an immediate response that a weregoose would have a wereswan for breakfast. After thinking about it, and discussing it with my daughter I realized that the commenter was right. In this article, I consider the characteristics of a weregoose, and why they would be truly terrifying foes. Natural Basis To fully understand a weregoose, and understand how its characteristics are enhanced in lycanthropic form, one must first consider the basic animal form. First of all, they are large birds. They are up to 3.5 feet long with a wingspan that can stretch over six feet. They weigh up to 14 pounds, and are sufficiently strong to break bones.  They are also very territorial, especially around mating season, so somebody wandering too close to a nest or a gosling may find themselves on the wrathful end of a goose attack. But thei

Sandbox Game Lessons - Part 1: Introduction and Examples

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  Introduction Open world gaming (or "Sandbox" gaming, as I'll refer to it in this series) in video games has become a big trend over the last several years. People love adventuring, questing, puzzle solving and crafting within the game, but they also love to make the game experience their own. A great example of this open world approach is Bethesda's Fallout 4 , which has an astounding number of quests, sub-quests, mini-quests and achievements, including the main quest to find your missing son. As people got more experience with the game, one of the things some players liked to do was show off these amazing buildings, settlements and crafting accomplishments they'd created. A joking response to some of the more extreme cases was "How's Shaun?" as a teasing reminder that the player has totally ignored the main quest to do their own thing. In TTRPGs, sandbox gaming has become more of a trend as well. It's always been true that no planning or adven

World Building Tools - World Anvil 1

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Those who read this blog know that I spend a lot of time thinking about my game world, Trinity , and how to make it both a robust and playable environment. I've decided to do some articles about the tools I use to manage this content, and what they bring to the table. These will not exactly be product reviews or comparisons, and they certainly are not exactly endorsements. Though I will say that if I'm writing about them, I find them good enough to be useful to me, and if my reasons for liking them are relatable, they may be useful to you, too. Today's essay is about World Anvil , which is an online webapp for world building. It is free to use at its most basic levels, with purchasable subscription tiers above that. The tier that I am currently at is the "Master" tier, which is around $50/year, and seems right for what I am doing. This initial article may have a follow-on at some point in the future, as I learn more. At this point, I'm definitely a novice, so

#RPGaDay2020 Day 31 - "Experience"

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Life is made of experiences and memories, and today I am going to share my own new experiences of the last year, since the last time I did one of these essay marathons. Because of Covid, the list is more limited than I would like, but I think it will be an decent list. New Campaign as a Player My alternate GM, Marc, ran his first 5e campaign, for about a year, ending right around the time that Covid hit. I think our last few sessions were fully online. In that campaign, we all chose to play mercenary hobgoblins in the land of humans. None of us had spent much time with 5e at that point, aside from a 3-session trial we ran to see how it played at different levels, so it was completely unique. It was also unique because we were coming off a long campaign as champions, so it was interesting to be back to 1st level grunts--especially with 5e's "everybody's equal" at 1st level. Perhaps the most unique aspect for me was that I designed my character to be the exact opposite