Monday, October 21, 2013

Periodic Table of Elementalists

Have you ever looked at a chemistry textbook, and then at a game book, and thought "I wish I could summon an elemental from the periodic table?" Because I have. I think about this like, all the time. It's starting to get unhealthy. Anyway, the point is that it's an interesting idea, but difficult to execute. After all, your game doesn't exactly have stats for an arsenic elemental, or a spell for summon chlorine. Of course, that doesn't have to stop you.

All you have to do is take the list of spells for an elementalist and bend them to the element of your choice. For the purpose of example, let's use chlorine.

First of all, at least in Legend Quest, every elementalist can summon their element. This is fairly self explanatory. You cast the spell, and a small bit of your element appears. For Chlorine, that would cause a cloud of the gas to appear.

Secondly, there are elementals. In Legend Quest, each element has a certain creature established as its default elemental.Sylphs, Gnomes, Salamanders, and Nereids for Air, Earth, Fire, and Water (respectively). For Chlorine, this would be some form of diseased or rotten creature due to the poisonous qualities of Chlorine. I'm thinking a zombified sea creature of some kind. We can get back to that later.

Next, there are spells that are keyed specifically to each element. Fire mages shoot fire balls, earth users can summon walls of dirt, water casters can breathe underwater, etc. These would be a bit complex, but are easier than one would originally think. For Chlorine, there would likely be variations of necromantic spells. Acid splash, evil eye, paralyze, rot, and maybe life drain. Not too many spells, but enough that you won't cast the exact same thing every single fight.

So, if you want to do this with other elements, you can use the same basic model. For iron, you would summon the element, and might summon some kind of golem. For someone with a metal based element like that, there would likely be some kind of weapon and armor creation or modification. Stone skin and strength boosts would also make sense.

In conclusion, I'm totally putting these guys in my game world, and encourage you to do the same. If you want any brainstorming about different elements, feel free to comment. I'm sure that I and anyone else who reads the sight would love to help. Final note: chlorine should have an undead flying piranha.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Multiverses are Fun: The Evil Guy's Dimension

Hello all, I'm back. No, for real this time. Anyway, in the inexplicably long time I've been away, I've stumbled on a few ideas. The majority of them have been related to the idea of having a multiverse. In this train of thought, I realized that the multiverse allows for an infinite variety of scenarios and ideas. For example, what if the party lost.

Imagine that your adventurers just squished the Big Bad Evil Guy at the End. Just as you're about to close the rule book and say goodnight, one of the players asks what's next. Now, most would think that Big Bad Evil Guy at the End would actually mean at the End, but sometimes players just want more than that. So, what do you do?

You have them fight the same guy again. This time though, it's very different. You see, in the grand scheme of the multiverse, the bad guy had to eventually win. Either there just weren't any heroes to stop him, or they all died. So, the evil overlord won. And now he's asking the same question: what's next?

There are two options for this: either the heroes go to him, or the villain comes to the heroes. Both of them would be fairly simple to explain.

If the heroes are going to his dimension, then have a band of fantastically powerful sorcerers approach them. The sorcerers will tell them that the same guy they just killed is wrecking havoc in a different dimension. Since the heroes just showed they were capable of taking the guy down, the sorcerers want the party to go in, stomp the villain, and come back. This lets you toy with how the world would look if the villain won. Maybe no one cares, maybe an entire continent was destroyed. It depends on how overboard the villain wants to go.

If the villain is coming to the heroes' dimension, then don't offer an explanation. Just have the villain suddenly appear and have his army of evil/godlike magic powers/world destroying machine roll across the countryside. Chances are, your players are going to rush out there immediately. Then, they'll probably have some choice words to say about how they could have sworn they killed that guy. This lets you play around with the villain himself. If he's going to up and invade an entire dimension, he's going to do it carefully and powerfully. And of course he'd be more powerful now, he has all the resources in the world back in his home dimension.

A side note: if the villain was trying to destroy the multiverse, this obviously won't work. However, what I said earlier about him eventually winning is still true. However, that doesn't mean that everyone just dies. Look at it this way: Owlman must have won eventually, but the Justice League's Earth still exists. The villain might have blown up his part of the multiverse, and probably dragged a large number of universes down with him, but he can only destroy one "original universe." Since the multiverse is literally every possibility played out several times over, there have to be multiple originals. Confused? Good. Multiversal theory can do that to you. To put it simply, there are entire multiverses built around the simple question of "What if this other universe was the original instead?"

Monday, June 3, 2013

Books

Alright, I'm back. I've braved relatives, finals, and even a fish, and have finally returned. So, in my absence, I have been asked a question, "what do you do when one of your players never has a chance to play?" I don't know, this blog is about adding to your game, and we're bad at even meeting that guideline.

So, what will we be talking about today? Books! No, not the eighty you probably have collecting dust on your shelves, I mean the ones in the game.

Literature is incredibly important to a culture, so it's a good idea to know what kind of books are being widely circulated in a region. This can teach players a few things: what kind of genres are important to a culture, who is influential as a writer, and why you shouldn't ask preteen girls what the rumors on the street are.

In addition, books can be a good way to give insight into a character. If the players break into the Big Bad Evil Guy's library and find such titles as "How to Save the World" "Chivalry for Dummies" and "How to Make Sure You're Not Evil" they might consider they've been set up.

Now, more realistically, the players will eventually read a book to find something important. This is usually just a reference guide, or perhaps a journal. Assuming you don't have the time to write 300 word novels on a fictional artifact, you'll need to cut out a lot of information. However, if there was reason to read the book, it's likely the character would know the information in it. So, how do you make sure the players know what they need to, but don't spend hours talking about that information.

The answer is simple. Whenever that information would be useful, have the player roll a knowledge check. If they make it, they retained the information. If not, they forgot that bit of information. This accomplishes two things: it streamlines the process of reading the book, and it allows a possible way for players to let their characters forget entire books. Considering some of the books on the market, players should take this as a blessing.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Totally Not an April Fools Joke You Guys.

Are you tired of playing these complicated games with papers and numbers? Are you convinced that Dungeons and Dragons is actually satanic worship? Do you want a game that you can play again and again for the rest of eternity, but be bored of in the first three minutes? Of course! That's why we're here today to talk about the greatest game ever: tic tac toe.

Tic tac toe is perhaps the most complex game to have ever been played. You have to manage your points productively to put three of your units in a row. It sounds mentally exhausting, and it is. Don't worry though, just mindlessly put your marker down wherever you can block your opponent, and you'll lock him out of the win.

The last piece of advice here is the most important. The object of every game of tic tac toe is not to win. No, it is in fact to tie with your opponent as many times as you can. Whoever causes the most ties ends the game in a tie with the other player. Fortunately for you, 99.99% of tic tac toe games end in a tie, so you're sure to come in not last.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Scientific Breakthroughs (in the middle ages)

This may not be true for all game worlds, but the one I use, Fletnern, is permanently stuck in medieval times. The reason why has to do with Titans and shattering a continent, but that's a story for another time. Today, we'll be talking about just what people would eventually come up with if they were stuck in these times.

Bicycle
Ah, the bicycle. Remember how you used to go everywhere on that when you were a kid? More importantly, remember those ridiculous looking bikes with the giant front wheels? Those have been around for decades. True, they haven't actually been around since the Middle Ages, but they could have been. Why would someone make a bicycle in a fantasy game though? Because you don't have to feed it. Yeah, funny thing about food for horses, it costs money. So, when you have an alternative that you don't need to spend money on besides the initial cost, you'll want to take it.

Outhouse
You ever notice how Port-a-Potties don't have any plumbing or electricity? Of course you have, that's the whole point of Port-a-Potties. Well, Outhouses are just a wooden version of the Port-a-Potty. Why would someone invent this? I'll put it this way: your only other option is a chamber pot.

Printing Press
In Colonial times, before electricity was used to power stuff, people used the Printing Press. It requires people to be able to make little gears and gizmos, but some advanced empires may have good enough smithies to make those. And why wouldn't they? A Printing Press makes selling books or distributing propaganda easy. Whether you're trying to turn a profit or be a dictator, you'll want a few presses around to help you out.

Compass
The compass is actually less advanced than the printing press. After all, it's only magnets set in brass. However, the compass is the kind of tool that you would be lost without. Literally, unless you had some ability to navigate by the stars/sun, you would be lost.

And that's only the stuff people can make without magic. Imagine the stuff enchanters and alchemists can make when they're feeling innovative,

Monday, March 11, 2013

Annoying or Endearing

Making sure that the characters like your NPCs is important for GMs. However, just as no story is good if it only has innocent and agreeable characters, no campaign will be truly entertaining if all of the characters' allies agree with them on everything. Is there a balance between disliking the characters and being liked by the players? Yes, but it is a fine line that requires you to know your players well.

For example, in my most recent campaign the players met with two NPCs that were more straight-laced than the PCs. One of them, they hated. The other, they want to work with in the future. What made them like one and not the other? That's a surprisingly easy question.

The first NPC was the one they hated. She charged around, beat some people up, and got upset when the PCs killed people they didn't need to. I didn't really intend for them to like this character, and I was right. Still, there have been NPCs and even players that dislike killing when you can capture, so why would they outright despise this one? Let's list what she did: Make the players walk several miles, break down a goblin outpost almost single handedly, then stand back and let the players deal with the mission before making them walk back. The real reason they hated her wasn't because she objected to their killing of goblins. It was because she was so powerful, but still made them do the dirty work. In fact, she flat out said "I'm just here to make sure you guys do the dirty work. Talk to me when you're done."

The second NPC though, they adored. All she did was have dinner with them and draw up a map, and they loved it. So, what did I do differently? Two things that I think are very important: I had two other NPCs for her to interact with, and I had her help with planning. She was the one to draw up the map, she was the one to outline a plan, and she was the one to slap the idiot NPC next to her when he was suggesting they keep stolen goods. She was sarcastic, haughty, and irritable, but she was funny and kind at the same time. Even when she said the loot would be minimal for this mission, she did it in a way that made the players laugh, so they didn't care.

So, what is the meaning of all this? Three things actually. 1: Make sure that your NPCs are helpful. If they're supposed to be on par with the PCs, make them help the PCs. 2: Give them lots of interaction. One of my NPCs disassociated with the players, the other held a conversation with them. Guess which one they enjoyed dealing with. 3: Delivery is everything. If you tell the players that they can't loot the corpse because it's wrong and then leave it at that, they'll be mildly annoyed. If you do the same thing, but have the character telling them that demonstrate by telling off her partner for ordering three buckets of breadsticks, the players will still be happy.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Weather: It hates rangers

So, who wants to guess what I did this weekend? If you guessed camping in 30 degree weather, you'd be right. What does this have to do with the topic of the blogpost? 30 degrees is cold. Naturally, this got me thinking about RPGs. After all, it was so cold that Eagle Scouts and Iron Men (the triathalon, not the superhero, unfortunately) were affected. Who's to say that a bunch of adventurers wouldn't be?

Obviously, I was thinking mostly about cold. After all, that's what I was dealing with. The thoughts I had are these: It's terrible. Unless you're bundled up in at least four thick layers, you'll feel the cold. How would this affect a game? Assumedly, it gets to be winter in the game-world too. As such, the party would have to run into the weather now and then. As such, they would have to get some sweaters to wear under their armor if they didn't want to deal with any negative effects of being in literally freezing temperatures. What would these negative effects be? Well, cold doesn't usually do much to your brain or your strength, but it does slow you down quite a bit. Plus, with those cold winter winds blowing in your eyes, it would be hard to get a good line of sight. As such, cold weather would mostly be detrimental to Agility. Fire spells would also suffer, but possibly not as much as archers.

What other weather would do something to the party? Almost all of them, but heat is the second most important. Yes, heat, that wonderful thing the wizard keeps throwing at everyone. What would it do? Let me ask you this: Have you ever touched the inside of an oven after it cooked something? The answer is probably yes, but it wasn't intentional. After all, while you might have accidentally brushed your hand against the grate while pulling out a *Insert thing cooked in an oven here* you wouldn't ever do that on purpose. The oven is hot! After all, metal holds heat pretty well. Can you see where I'm going with this? Armor would be killer (literally) to wear in blistering heat. One of the main reasons the Crusades were lost was that the crusaders were running around the Middle East in full plate mail. This kind of thing would affect Strength, Agility, and maybe Willpower depending on how long it dragged on.

Of course, that isn't the end. Oh no, there's more. This one might be worth it though. After all, there are some things that add that special something to a fight. What am I talking about? Fighting in the rain. How many Action movies have that big end fight while it's pouring rain? Too many to count. So what exactly would rain do? It would probably just be a less severe version of cold. Obscured vision, hard to walk, all that good stuff but toned down a bit. So, an epic ninja battle in the rain would work quite a bit better than two archers shooting at each other. Then again, if it's arrows that are falling instead of raindrops, the archers are probably going to win.

Not really an example this week, but a suggestion. Imagine for a minute that you are an archer. You're sitting on a ledge, bow in hand, waiting for a head to pop up on the horizon. The cold is biting at you, practically chewing through your leather armor. You can't light a fire, that would give you away. Too much armor would weigh you down. Even moving would ruin you. You have to sit there and freeze, or do something and die. Now you feel bad for the ranger's character don't you? Why not throw the guy a bone? Give the archer a belt or vest or something that maintains his warmth. It would be a minor magic item, allowing for protection against some nasty disadvantadges that would be awful to have to encounter.