Monday, August 31, 2015

The Shattered World - Setting without a Plot

Previously, on this very blog, I've written about my Pitch for my 5e D&D campaign, the Shattered World, and the Icons I created for the setting. You should go read that post to get an idea of what I'm working with. What I've come to realize since that blog post, and having run an additional session of that game in the meantime, is that while I set up a rich setting (at least I think so) I did a piss poor job of setting up a plot. In order to keep this post shorter, I've put up a separate post with a bare bones summary of the game so far that you can find here. Below the jump is the conundrum I find myself in and what I'm trying to do to fix it.

Shattered World - The Story So Far: A Summary Bare of Bone

Being a bare bones, long after running the game, GM based record of what has transpired in my D&D 5e Shattered World campaign. It goes without saying, but this is all to the best of my recollection.

last updated 10/04/2015

Calendar created with the donjon fantasy calendar generator. To see the calendar I created, go to the "data" option on the donjon generator and paste in the text below and then click to another option to get the data to reload with my settings:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Brutal Bugbears and Baleful Banshees - Gussying Up D&D 5e Monsters #1

As discussed before, Thomas and I have been thinking of how to improve 5e Combat and part of that is tinkering with monsters. So here are my first attempts, a take on the Bugbear and the Banshee, both of which are included in the D&D Basic packet.

A few notes first...

I haven't play-tested these at all, so they're entirely theoretical. It's changes I like, so I'll probably make use of them when I use the creatures in 5e and update the posts with any notes or discoveries.

I'll probably steal liberally from 13th Age and Dungeon World. I also plan on only looking at monsters from the D&D Basic rules so that the originals are freely available for comparison.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Killer GM Syndrome

Every now and then when I'm running (or even playing) a game I catch the edge of something that sets me back a little, Killer GM Syndrome... and I've noticed it a lot looking at the popular culture around tabletop gaming and so I want to write out my thoughts on it to try and see if I can't figure out a few ways to try and counteract it in games. (for those of you playing the Antagonist Relations blogpost drinking game, take a drink for "Zack uses writing to try and figure something out")  TL;DR then just read this one article.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

D&D 5E - Player Facing Critical Success Options

Somehow, while talking about D&D 5E combat, and our dissatisfaction thereof, Thomas and I started talking about Critical Hits. I mentioned that I found it easy to make Hard GM Moves (ala Powered by the Apocalypse Games) when a player rolls a Natural 1 or Critical Failure (or conversely, when a monster rolls a critical hit) but I didn't have as satisfying a solution for when players roll a Natural 20 or Critical Success. We decided to each tackle the problem separately, each writing our own blog post without consulting the other to see the different strategies we'd come up with. Naturally, we could help but bend that rule a little bit in our conversations over the next few days but for the most part we kept mum on our plans, so neither of us have seen what the other is proposing. We're considering other cross-blog shenanigans in the future, so this is a bit of a test.

Here's his take: Gussying up monsters (the Ogre!) and crits and mine is below the jump... (and my comments on Thomas' take can be found here)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Planarch Codex - Job Board & Canned Introduction

Here it is, the Job Board I'm using for my drop in when you can, pick up friendly World of Dungeons 1979 - Planarch Codex game.

Last Session: 9/7/2015
Last Update: 9/18/2015
Non-embedded version here.

Canned Intro:

You're a freebooter who's ended up in the planar city of Dis, ruled by the enigmatic Sultana and maintained by her Roadwardens. You need to scramble for enough dosh to pay the rent, get enough grub for your growling stomach and booze to carouse. Fortunately the city is full of Jobs, some jobs take you to other parishes in Dis, little bits of other cities on far-away planes that Dis has devoured and made part of itself. Other jobs take you to far off and dangerous planes, either through portals or perhaps on Tungsten Galleys across the Sea of Embers. A game of Feral Anthropologies, Corsairs, Freebooters and Low Brigands and a Ravenous City that is full of dangers.

More Planarch Codex Stuff on Antagonist Relations

More Planarch Codex Heritage Moves

A selection of additional Heritage Moves for Planarch Codex

  • Human
    • Laugh in the face of death
    • Rally your allies when all looks lost
    • Display tenacity in a forbidding situation
  • Efreet
    • Offer a “deal”
    • Strike with magical fire
    • Provide just the right item, at a price
  • Gnome
    • Create a small mechanical device
    • Use your small size to hide
    • Craft an illusion
  • Halfling
    • Go on a fool's errand
    • Steal something small without being noticed
    • Avoid the attention of a larger creature
  • Ogre
    • Destroy something with your fists
    • Fly into a rage
    • Take something by force
  • Werewolf
    • Transform to pass unnoticed as beast or man
    • Doggedly track prey
    • Drive your pack into a fervor
  • Frogman
    • Launch an amphibious assault
    • Leap a great distance
    • Grab something with your freakishly long tongue
  • Kobold
    • Lay a trap
    • Retreat and regroup
    • Call on your draconic heritage
  • Angel
    • Deliver visions and prophecy
    • Stir mortals to action
    • Expose sin and injustice
  • Devil
    • Plumb the vaults of hell for a bargaining chip
    • Make a show of power
    • Strike with hell-fire
  • Goblin
    • Charge!
    • Retreat!
    • Strike in unison with your allies to overwhelm an opponent.
  • Gargoyle
    • Attack with the element of surprise
    • Take to the air
    • Blend into stonework
  • Spiderlord
    • Enmesh something in webbing
    • Bite with poisonous fangs
    • Move with unnatural quietness
  • Minotaur
    • Gore with your horns
    • Knock someone back
    • Navigate a labyrinth unerringly
  • Centaur
    • Overrun them
    • Fire a perfect bulls-eye
    • Gallop with unrelenting speed
Printer Friendly Google Doc version here

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

For the Record: 1547 Leanmonth 20 (4th Skyday)

Picture stolen shamelessly from a player.

For the record...

In the D&D 5th Edition session I ran tonight, the six 3rd level PCs defeated the following during a 3 hour combat...
  • 37 goblins, give or take
  • 3 hobgoblins
  • 1 hobgoblin captain
  • 1 ogre
  • 8 goblin zombies
  • 1 ogre zombie
  • 1 wyvern
  • 1 giant acid slug (stated out with the black pudding stats)
  • 2 bugbears
This is not counting dirigibles filled with goblins and bugbears that they took out from a distance with a ballista. They also survived having an explosive ballista bolt go off when the monk dropped it while rolling as the result of a critical failure. They also rescued a couple of gnomes.

edited 8/31 to add list of Gob Loot they took from the Goblins they fought...

Antagonist Relations Actual Play Podcast 1 - GM Commentary

First, go listen to Antagonist Relations Podcast - Episode 14 - The Family That Yanks Together as that is the session that I'll be commenting on. A Red and Pleasant Land is abbreviated as aR&PL below. Also, spoilers for the podcast, though I won't post any spoilers for the players about upcoming sessions.

Friday, August 14, 2015

In the Lair of the Ginger Giant - Pod People

Two, count 'em, two new podcasts.

First, Antagonist Relations Podcast Episode 13 - Owlbears and Wendigos. In which the Ginger Giant and I discuss the games we've been running and playing lately, with our better halves providing insights into what it's like to be subjected to our GMing.

Second, the first of our new Actual Play podcast series, wherein I run A Red and Pleasant Land using the Planarch Codex hack of World of Dungeons 1979 (itself a Dungeon World Hack) -  Antagonist Relations Podcast - Episode 14 - The Family That Yanks Together

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Shattered World - Pitch and Icons

Back in June I started a new D&D 5E game, or D&D 5E-ish game... See, 13th Age has thoroughly corruped me, so I shoe-horned in 13th Age Style Backgrounds (using a ridiculously complicated system that I may post later), the Escalation Die and 13th Age Icons and also Numenera style GM Intrusions in place of the default (and uninspired, in my opinion) Inspiration rules.

The setting was a reboot/homage/hack of the last D&D 4E campaign I ran and I pitched it to players as "Final Fantasy Airships meets Isla's Mist Sea meets Zombie Apocalypse meets Battlestar Galactica meets Mad Max with some Glen Cook Black Company/Garrett PI tossed in too" and "so you're stuck on a giant flying airship that the 'good guys' only have partially under control, there are sections of engineering that are infested with undead, sky pirates attack and you have to drive them off". (Isla's Mist Sea is the 4E campaign where the PCs were on a wizard's floating Island).

The final setting pitch ending up being: Pre-Shattering the world was in the midst of a war between powerful wizards over silver mines and hordes. Wizard rulers/generals were taking ever increasing gambles, raising hordes of dead and making war machines to fight while they floated above the earth in flying castles and city sized flying ships. I deliberately had the PCs put into stasis by a "neutral" wizard during the actual apocalyptic Shattering so that they awoke three years after into a strange world and players wouldn't need to worry about detailed setting information and would get to discover things along with me.

A portion of the Airship dungeon explored during the most recent Shattered World game.

With that loose premise, I decided to make my own Icons and since I was also running an Apocalypse World game and drawing on Apocalypse World's flavor/tactics for some of my inspiration, I decided to base the Icons on the AW Scarcity/Lacks that AW provides as motivating factors.

  • Hunger
  • Thirst
  • Ignorance
  • Fear
  • Decay
  • Despair
  • Envy
  • Ambition
  • Greed
But the new realization I had with Icons is how it serves the GM's interest to set up a PC's relationship with an Icon as a choice about game narratives. For example, one of the Icons I created is Father Machine and I set up the PC choices of Positive, Ambiguous and Negative relationships as follows.

  • Positive: You want to work to spread the machines as replacements for the old arcane magic, you are a warforged who is visted by Father Machine in your dreams.
  • Ambigious: You find the mechanical devices and innovations of Father Machine and his followers useful, but worry about what Father Machine plans. You are a warforged who wants to break free of Father Machine.
  • Negative: You blame the machines and warforged for the Shattering just as much or more than you do the Wizards.
So as the players choose Icon relationships they were also telling me something about how their PC's would react to the world. So far this has worked well, as I can remind myself of the Icon relationships and weave in scenese, places, items and NPCs to bounce of them.

You can see all the Icons here, or rather all but one as I still need to write up my Icon version of Blunanda the Kelp Queen, who was stolen shamelessly from Thomas.

Expect more about the Shattered Worlds as I continue to run.

Post-Apocalyptic Names

As I'm prepping to run a Godless mini-campaign, I wanted to have a good post-apocalyptic name table to draw from. The Apocalypse World...