Monday, November 29, 2010

Online Gaming: Considering a MyD20 Lite Mini-Series...

Good Evening, All:

I am considering the possibility of running an online mini-series of 4-10 sessions in length, hopefully using my own MyD20 Lite rules as the foundation. It's my hope that I can break in the MyD20 Lite Referee's Guide with some actual in-game use, and I'm just wanting to try the system out in something longer than a single-session One Shot. Before I begin, however, I need to gather the basic elements needed to run a game online. I already have a great collection of token images for use as characters and monsters, so that's not an issue. However, I'm not sure what else I'll need.

I imagine that it would help to have maps of some basic encounter locations ready, such as a forested path, an inn or tavern, a small hovel, some ruins, two or three simple dungeons, and a campsite or two. Does anyone have any suggestions of where I could pick some of these up? Are there other maps you would suggest that I add to this basic list?

Also, what virtual tabletop would you suggest I use? I'm currently considering Fantasy Grounds, Screen Monkey and RPTools/MapTool (if I can find a proper Campaign Framework or create one quickly). I figure that the most likely source of volunteer gamers will come from the readers of this blog, so I thought I'd conduct an informal poll to see what you guys prefer to use when gaming online. If you have any thoughts on the matter, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

With Regards,

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Of Campaigns Past: Another World Map of Nova-Kintar...

Good Morning, All:

With some free time over the holidays here in the States, I finally gave in to the urge to pull up Hexographer and whip up a replacement map for my old world of Nova-Kintar. This map measures much the same as the original map did. Each hex approximates 250 miles across. I also shifted the map so that its edges fall along what would be the Atlantic Ocean. (My original map looked much like the simple world map I'd posted previously, at least in terms of continental position.)

And now, without any further adieu, here's an updated map of Nova-Kintar:

Updated Map of Nova-Kintar

Please feel free to post any questions or thoughts as a comment here.

With Regards,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Good Evening, All:

I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, and to let you know that I am thankful for your readership and your friendship. I hope you all have enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday, if you celebrate such, and if not, I still want you guys to know that I appreciate everyone who visits this blog and has enjoyed any of the Samardan Press products I've released.

With Warm Regards,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

GM Mentoring: Dungeons As Campaign Maps...

Good Afternoon, All:

It's been a long couple of weeks, and I haven't been able to read the blogs as much as I normally like to. Since I have today off (working for the State may not pay as well as the private sector, but its other benefits are nice, including the number of days off for State and Federal holidays.) One of the posts over on the Omnipotent Eye about dungeons in newer game systems these days really caught my eye. In essence, he was asking what could be done to help gamers with a preference for cinematic adventuring common to modern gaming systems become fully engaged in a dungeon experience. I posted a response to the original entry, but it sparked my imagination enough that I thought I'd make a quick blog entry of my own here.

Megadungeons are pretty fascinating environments, as you can tell by their prominence in discussions on the internet over the last few years. However, many gamers don't like the changes that overcome a party of adventurers the moment they step into a dungeon. Suddenly, everyone is busy checking for traps, looking for secret doors and systematically mapping a seemingly endless series of chambers looking for monsters to kill and loot to steal. In many cases, the party experiences a change of focus, because they have no end-goal or destination in mind. Instead, it's all about getting in, getting gold and getting out alive. For people interested in a story-based adventure, let's face it: that's boring as hell.

So, how do we fix this issue? My personal recommendation is to think of these large megadungeons as campaign maps. Every "sandbox" GM has read about taking a modular design approach to their campaign maps, and has probably even designed a setting or two that presents the special locations in the wilderness beyond civilization as rumors and the goals of quests. If your entire campaign is going to be based around the concept of a megadungeon, there's no reason you can't do the same exact thing here.

Choose six to twelve locations on your overall map to serve as destinations or goals. These sites become the focus of your rumor charts, and are fairly well known (even if only by rumor) among the populations that inhabit your dungeon. Each site has its own flavor that makes it stand out, and presumably its own secrets as well. Like a wilderness-based sandbox campaign, the rest of the dungeon represents the wilderness between these exotic locations that the party must traverse. Certainly, it does not appear as open as the wilderness of a surface-based adventure, but you can offer as many significant choices as the party would presumably have in a game of surface exploration, and create a similar feeling of exploration with your megadungeon.

One of these special sites could be an underground village or township. Conceptually, such a location would have much in common with a space station (an image that may help those that have GM'd science fiction games before as well), in terms of the use of corridors and main thoroughfares to connect the rooms that make up the central area of this "Dungeon Town." The NPCs here offer the party great opportunities for urban-based adventures, rumors of other sites and patrons for other adventures. Herein may be found exiles from the surface world interacting with diplomats from great underground clans or ruled by powerful denizens from the underworld or even realms beyond that which we know. A priest of healing may feel it is her mission to bring peace to those of this forsaken "Under-shire", and has erected a temple or shrine that is considered sanctuary by the natives of the region, in order to stay in the good graces of the cleric. Maybe there's even an arena or an arcane academy here, depending on who rules this place. The great part about this concept is that any idea you don't use for your "Dungeon Town" becomes fodder for any of the other special sites you've created. Instead of being ruled by a great dragon with a penchant for watching gladiatorial combat, you decide to make the village fall under the auspices of an insane mage. In that case, one of the other locations may focus on a great dragon with his own private arena, and the small community of raiders and slavers he has gathered under him to support his desires for interesting and diverse gladiatorial experiences.

The other sites on your campaign map, I mean, in your megadungeon, could include locales similar to the following:
  • Temple of Gold: This site was once a great temple dedicated to a God of Wealth, before disaster either killed its population or drove them away. The temple itself, gilded in gold and filled with untold treasures, is all that remains behind.
  • Mushroom Jungles: This vast underground cavern (or series of caverns), is filled with a fungal jungle of immense proportions. Rare and unusual plants grow beneath the giant toadstools, and unusual variations of underground jungle critters and natives harass all who travel through this place. Still, the alchemical value of some of these plants makes the efforts worthwhile.
  • Tomb of the Gods: This vast crypt is actually the final resting place of several demigods that fell in some ancient divine conflict. Entombed here by the followers of the losing side, these corpses contain within them the spark of divinity, for those skilled enough to access it. As such, this Tomb and the bodies therein are often sought by those seeking immortality, divine power, the resurrection of a fallen god, and others of similar purpose.
  • Lake of Stars: The bioluminescent denizens of this underground lake create the impression of balls of light swarming under its surface. For those that have not seen the nighttime sky in years, if at all (such as most denizens of this realm), this body of water has been poetically dubbed the Lake of Stars. A number of small islands serve as homes for tribes of aquatic humanoids, who bring all of their captured treasures and prisoners from raids back home as offerings to their bizarre gods.
  • The Undercastle: This region of fortified rooms forms a bastion or stronghold for a dedicated militaristic order. Whether they remain, or if their undead corpses, driven into eternal service by their severe dedication, still defend the Undercastle is a matter for the GM to decide. Either way, such a location may serve as a base at higher levels. Of course, such fortifications would exist if there weren't something to defend against...
  • The Magus's Sanctum: This unusual and isolated section of the megadungeon once served as the private sanctum, personal library and well-equipped laboratory for a famous (or infamous) mage of long ago. The mage may not be dead and gone for decades, or may still remain as a lich or similar form of undead. Untold arcane treasures are said to lie within the walls of this personal sanctuary.

I'm sure you get the idea. If you have any thoughts, comments or questions, I'd love to hear them, so please feel free to respond in the comment section below.

With Regards,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Of Campaigns Past: Tales of Port Kar...

Good Evening, All:

After the Nova-Kintar campaign, I ran a 2.5 year long campaign called Tales of Port Kar, using HERO System 4th Edition and the Fantasy HERO rules (plus plenty of house rules, of course, because HERO System is more of a toolkit than a rules system). The primary conceit was that Tales of Port Kar was Cinemax's fantasy series in response to the growing popularity of Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. I started each session with a description of the episode's intro, including a few cut scenes to help foreshadow elements of the day's adventure. This was back when I was still running eight hour sessions, and the response was great. The players really got into it, trying to work in the cut scenes and keeping with the television fantasy show format in terms of description. Our adventurers hit the high seas, saved their homeport, fought dinosaurs and demons, travelled back in time to create a prophecy, and ultimately fought against and destroyed the King of Demons, Sandamos. (This is where I first came up with the name Sandamos, which has remained as the Lord of Demons in many of my campaigns since.)

Unlike Nova-Kintar and its Greyhawk-esque pantheon of gods, Tales of Port Kar addressed the spiritual needs of the setting through churches and theologies, including a healing church that used rings to demonstrate a person's place within the hierarchy (the more rings you wore, the higher you were in the church) and a rune-jin who combined Oriental magic with symbols and runes to forge some spectacular special effects and powers. We had a ninja-pirate-poet, a ranger/shaman who was worshiped by Jermlaine-like cave dwellers at one point, an angellic vestal virgin who was corrupted by the forces of evil, and a mad inventor. I used my considerable skills as a horribly bad impersonator to portray "guest stars" in the series, the most memorable of which was a paladin-king based on Sean Connery.

Since Tales of Port Kar supposedly was a Cinemax series, we dealt with issues of sexuality as an adjunct of our adventures, and all in all, I found that the game went very well. I was fortunate enough to have mature gamers who did not turn the game into the mess it could have been when such matters were brought up, and like Nova-Kintar, this was a campaign in which I felt the players had a lot of personal investment. I really loved the level of Asian influence I was able to bring to Port Kar, and the use of a Fantasy TV series as the core conceit helped us focus on cinematic scenes that were easy to picture and did not bog down in day-to-day details of shopping or walking from Point A to Point B. This was also the first campaign in which I portrayed orcs as Jamaican pirates that went by the name of the Stefari (derived from the word Rastafarian.)

When the prophecy that the players had created had been fulfilled, and the Lord of Demons was slain, I felt the game had come to a close, so I wrapped it up and moved on. Tales of Port Kar was a change from Nova-Kintar in many ways, including gaming system, players, presentation style, setting and so on. I found it very successful on a number of levels, but when it was done, I never tried to go back to the setting again, nor did I ever really feel the desire to make that effort. Over time, some of the elements of the setting have found their way into other games, as is my way. If I ever compile a single world from my past campaigns, I think I'll likely use some of the flavor of the magic systems, as well as the use of Asian influences in portions of the campaign world, because it worked so well with Tales of Port Kar. Again, we can see the influence of time travel as a major element of plot development. This becomes less with future campaigns, but in the beginning of my GMing career, I enjoyed creating a setting and then letting the players change it through their actions. While I stopped using time travel as the means to do so, I still enjoy empowering players to make choices that have impact.

With Regards,

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Of Campaigns Past: A Simple World Map of Nova-Kintar...

Good Morning, All:

One of my favorite parts of the Nova-Kintar Campaign (of which there were several), was the world map I had created for it. I was in error in my last post: my desk globe was actually a representation of Abraham Ortelius's world map from the first world atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, published in 1570. It was different enough from Earth to spark my imagination, but also close enough to pull on the subconscious expectations of the players to help fill in the gaps when needed.

My original map (which I sadly cannot locate at the moment), was drawn and colored by hand on a poster-sized piece of hex paper sold by The Armory back in the day. I had only used the top half of the map, because the hexes ran the direction I wanted them to, and I implemented the icosahedral layout of the world maps of Traveller, so get something slightly akin to a flattened representation of Nova-Kintar's surface. The original map was 105 "world" hexes (250-mile hexes) in circumference. Each world-triangle was thus 21 hexes in height, and thus the polar caps extended 8 hexes from the poles. The entire map covered approximately 4620 hexes.

In preparing this post yesterday, I got nostalgic, of course. Since I could not find my map, I started thinking about redoing it in Hexographer. That was a bit overwhelming for simple nostalgia (not to mention a little time consuming), so I quickly decided to aim for something simpler, and thought about a Traveller world map. Using the classic Traveller world map, which is 45 hexes in circumference, each hex would thus be ~550 miles across, and the polar caps would extend 3.5 hexes from the poles. The entire map would consist of about 900 hexes. It was with that in mind that I decided to quickly create a simple continental map of Nova-Kintar, to share with you the basics of the world. Here's what I came up with:

Continental Map of Nova-Kintar

The continents of Nova-Kintar were:
  • Tanalis - the northern-most continent; home to Synovia, Pasalovakia and a majority of the first two-thirds of the Nova-Kintar Campaign.
  • Mazteklan - the northern of the two continents in the eastern hemisphere; joined by an isthmus of land to Cameria.
  • Cameria - the southern of the two continents in the eastern hemisphere; joined by an isthmus of land to Mazteklan; home to the last third of the Nova-Kintar Campaign.
  • Uporea - the southeastern subcontinent of the western hemisphere; south of Akirfa, attached to Neidan.
  • Akirfa - the northern of the two continents of the western hemisphere; north of Uporea, northeast of Neidan.
  • Neidan - the southern of the two continents of the western hemisphere; attached to Uporea, southwest of Akirfa.
  • "Frostlands" - the southern-most continent, surrounds a small sea over the actual South Pole of Nova-Kintar. I never thought about it much, as it was under the southern ice caps, which is why I can't remember it's name after all these years.
  • Lemuria - an island subcontinent in the eastern hemisphere south of Tanalis, resembling a very small Australia, if you will.

I may still sit down with Hexographer and whip out a world map based on the above. I think that, of any of my past worlds, this would be the world map I'd be most likely to pull together for my "ultimate campaign setting." Indeed, the memory of this map is the basis of the world I described as Taerantha in the Hammersong's Legacy Campaign Setting.

With Regards,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Of Campaigns Past: Nova-Kintar

Good Evening, All:

My last post has had a great amount of response, and I'm very pleased to see the variety of comments I've gotten, as well as from whom. Thank you to everyone who responded. Rob Conley, who published the wonderful Supplement VI: The Majestic Wilderlands, suggested that I post a few details of past campaigns, in the hopes of helping me cull some of my previous work toward the creation of that elusive "perfect campaign milieu."

Nova-Kintar was my longest campaign, running over seven years and using the AD&D 2nd Edition rules (and the Skills & Powers optional books toward the end). The world map was based on a Vincenzo Coronelli replica globe turned upside down, under the premise that the Coronelli map was actually accurate for an alternate Earth with the north and south poles switched. The campaign primarily took place on the continent that was a combination of what would be Antarctica and Australia on Earth, which sat atop the North Pole of the world of Nova-Kintar. The continent's name was Tanalis, although that rarely came up, and a majority of the action took place in the Kingdom of Synovia, the great Walled City of Catabolas, and the wilderness around this region. This world supported a pantheon of Greyhawk-esque proportions, with well over forty deities listed in the core house rules document. The players mostly played themselves as characters mysteriously transported from Earth to Nova-Kintar. Over the course of the campaign, they obtained swords that together allowed time travel (technically travel between parallel dimensions that greatly resembled time travel to the uninitiated and unknowing.) They freed an insane mage from captivity and then had to hunt him down and slay him, built a city of their own, fought a war with the neighboring kingdom of Pasalovakia, and eventually worked directly for the gods to battle the influence of that destroyer of universes known as the Something. They did a lot of other things, as well, but these are the big world-changing events that I recall off hand. It was the ultimate success against the Something that really made me feel that the world was done, since I couldn't come up with anything to top that. Over fifty different players participated in the game over its seven year history, and I still look back on it with a lot of pride and happiness.

The latter years of the Nova-Kintar campaign took place on the earthly North American continent known as Cameria (hence the name of the main continent of the Hammersong's Legacy Campaign Setting.) In Nova-Kintar, the continent of Cameria was populated by cultures similar to those that contacted North America of our world in pre-Columbian times, including Aztec, Chinese, Egyptian, Native American and Norse cultures, as well as the Republic of Roanoke, where the lost colony of Roanoke ended up when they disappeared from our world. I had a lot of fun with that particular arrangement, and that sub-setting lent itself well to some interesting and non-standard cultural interactions. The Englishmen of the Republic of Roanoke had some interesting challenges with orcish "Vikings", four-armed Native American tribesmen, Aztec raiders and a brief brush with an Egyptian-style mummy and its servitors. I didn't get to pursue as much of the setting as I wanted before I found I needed to wrap up the campaign with the "Coming of the Something", but what I did get to explore was a lot of fun, and it taught me a lot about what I like and don't like as campaign content.

And thus ends a brief description of my first successful campaign world. What was your first successful campaign world like? What elements might it have shared with my Nova-Kintar?


Monday, November 15, 2010

The Concept of the Elusive "Perfect Milieu"...

Good Evening, All:

Have there ever been times where you just wanted to start all over with a new campaign setting, hoping that this time around, it captures everything you've been looking for in a game world? I find that I'm always suffering from that nagging quest for the elusive "perfect milieu", that one setting that will hold me over for the rest of my gaming days, the ultimate expression of my GMing mastery and creative outlets. I am constantly amazed that other gamers on the net have such a world, one to which they are devoted, and which reflects the totality of their creative efforts. I can't ever seem to capture my thoughts adequately without need to make changes, and yet I see that there are those that either got it right the first time, or have no qualms with making changes in midstream, so to speak.

I suppose that some of this stems from shifting creative foci on my part as well, my gamer’s "ADD", if you will. Most of the time, I tend to run a straight Vanilla Fantasy setting, and strive to make my campaign backgrounds distinctive, flavorful and involving. The secret to presenting such a setting lies in the details, of course. However, as the campaign progresses onward, I almost always find something lacking in the worlds I've created. Maybe it's details about the pantheons, or perhaps the relationship of polities to one another. Sometimes the geography just doesn't excite me after a while, and sometimes I feel like I've painted myself into a corner with a particular campaign plot arc, leaving me with nowhere to go (that I would enjoy running, at least with the gamers I have at the time) after the arc has run its course.

I’m also torn between the kind of world I’d like to design compared to the kind of world that will attract other gamers. I love worlds that tap into the same flavor as the Sword & Sorcery or Sword & Planet literary genres, a world of pulpy high adventure. However, I find that it’s often hard to find gamers that are interested in playing in such a world. Most gamers appear to want the High Magic worlds currently popularized by Wizards of the Coast and other such publishers, and so tend to dislike the "low magic, high action" feel of the worlds I would really enjoy designing and running. I suppose that I probably should stop calling my games fantasy games, and instead call them adventure/pulp games set in a fantasy world. I wonder if that would get me more players that would enjoy the same experiences. Obviously, the tensions of balancing a milieu my players would enjoy with a campaign setting I personally would find most rewarding form a part of that sense of dissatisfaction and elusiveness.

That’s one of the reasons I’m always working on other campaign ideas, such as the World Within. If this is going to be a world I design for myself and that’s all, then I’m going to make it as "low magic, high action" as I can. If I never get to play in the setting because it’s just too different for most casual gamers, so be it. I can always continue to run a "high magic" setting for the players to keep them happy, and shift my work over from one to the other as I find the ideas useful.

Do any of you have similar issues with your campaign world designs over time? Do you have a single world you run your campaigns in, or does each campaign also require a new campaign world? What do you like in your campaigns, either as a GM or as a player?

With Regards,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Feast of Heroes...

Good Morning, All:

For those in the United State, Happy Veteran's Day! As of today, this blog is one year old. I've posted 254 times in the last year, and I have some active followers that post in the comments regularly. I've written a good deal about a number of topics, and this blog has been instrumental in the creation of a number of gaming products, as well as allowing me to develop a lot of gaming material for my campaign. I must say that posting here has motivated me to do more writing than I would have otherwise, and I am very thankful for that opportunity.

I consider myself fortunate to have friends that follow many diverse paths, and I have learned much from them. Today is Veteran's Day here, but those of the Asatru faith also recognize today as the Feast of Heroes, or more specifically, the Feast of the Einherjar. The chosen heroes who sit in Odin’s Hall are the Einherjar. Today the Asatruar honor those dead kin who gave their lives for Family and Folk. If you have friends or family who died in battle, visit their graves today, if that is not possible, drink a libation in their memory. Even if you are not a follower of the Nordic gods, those warriors who have passed to defend and protect us and our country are worthy and deserving of our recognition and remembrance on this day.


With Regards,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stellar Quest: The "Season One" Campaign...

Good Afternoon, All:

I've been thinking about Stellar Quest lately, even as I've been working on the MyD20 Lite Referee's Guide, and it occurs to me that having a brief campaign outline for an imaginary "Season One of Stellar Quest" might be a good idea. In particular, I've been giving considerable thought to the fact that the Hadrons and the Artathi are on the coreward side of the Confederation, as well as some major unclaimed worlds frequented by the Romanni. I think this gives us an excellent opportunity to explore elements of the setting that were not touched by the inspirational material for Stellar Quest, namely the Gorn, Orion Pirates and Kzinti, and their relationships with the Federation.

Obviously, each group involved should have a goal that is explored over the course of "Season One". My immediate thoughts leapt on the Gorn... er, the Hadrons. Our favorite reptilians are likely seeking choice planets in the unclaimed territories, at least one of which should have a new Confederation colony present. This gives us the chance to reenact the "Arena" episode, if we so desired, but that would also require us to bring in the Transcendants or Devas. Instead, I'll skip the "Arena" episode and instead offer the Hadrons a chance to escalate their perception of the Confederation's preparations to launch an all-out attack.

The Artathi are likely interested in seeking out Progenitor technology in this region of space, for both power and religious significance. This could let us explore social-religious themes, if we so desired, and builds on the role that the Progenitors hold in Artathi culture. It also gives us a chance to integrate the Progenitors into the game, and introduce any of a number of non-corporeal races from a time period between the Progenitors and the current galactic age.

The Romanni are very common in this region, and this gives us a chance to look into their nomadic culture. A Romanni clan could perhaps take exception to the actions of the crew during their first encounter, and the fallout between the clan and the Confederation, followed by internal conflict within the Romanni, could make for some interesting background development there, as well.

Of course, there's also room for some adventures that simply build the setting, and bring in other influences from the inspirational material, including a parallel dimension, at least one time travel adventure, and several encounters with powerful psions, advanced lifeforms and the occasional alien predator.

The question then arises: Should "Season One" be released as part of the main rulebook? Or should "Season One" be a campaign/adventure sourcebook on its own?

What do you think?

With Regards,

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Book of Races: Twelve New Races for Old School Games...

Good Afternoon, All:

I'd like to take a moment to announce my latest fantasy supplement, the Book of Races, which describes twelve new races for your Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord or other Old School fantasy campaign. Here's the blurb I've been posting to announce it:

If you are like many fantasy gamers, you've probably spent a small portion of your gaming budget here and there collecting plastic miniatures, and perhaps you've ended up with a number of figures for characters that aren't detailed in Swords & Wizardry or some other preferred retro-clone system. Maybe you are trying to convert modules or campaign settings from one of the latter editions of the "World's Most Popular Roleplaying System" into a simpler and potentially more elegant gaming system, and want to offer new racial options for characters in such a campaign. It might even be that you are seeking new and unusual racial character options to add spice and variety to your own homebrew setting. Whatever your reasons for wanting more Old School character races, the Book of Races intended to help you meet those needs and then some.

Welcome to the Book of Races. This supplement has been developed with the Swords & Wizardry rules system in mind, and should prove easy to use for both Referees and players alike. Other "retro-clone" rules systems may find the material useful with only minimal conversion efforts. This supplement is divided into two sections. The first section, New Races, describes a dozen new races for use in your fantasy campaigns. In this section, each race is described with game mechanics as suggested by the Swords & Wizardry Core Rules, which details fantasy races as a game mechanic separate from character classes. The second section, Racial Classes, provides specific racial classes for Referees that prefer their non-human characters to operate in a character class structure similar to Fighting Men, Clerics and Magic-Users.

The Book of Races details the Artathi, the Duar, the Elde, the Eldeblooded, the Feytouched, the Giantkin, the Goblin, the Hyrknoff, the Kelshan, the Ordath, the Vaelan and the Wyrmblooded. As an added bonus, an appendix detailing an alternate Simple D6 check system is included at the end of this supplement.

Swords & Wizardry, S&W, and Mythmere Games are the trademarks of Matthew J. Finch. The author of this supplement is not affiliated with Matthew J. Finch or Mythmere Games.

This 22-page product can be found on RPGNow (in PDF, $3.99):

Or on Lulu (in PDF, $3.99, and Print-On-Demand, $8.99):

With Regards,

Friday, November 05, 2010

100 Random Plot Seeds...

Good Evening:

I don't have much to write about tonight, so instead I'll post One Hundred Random Plot Seeds. Whenever you find yourself with a bizarre need for a plot, perhaps one of these might spark your imagination enough to inspire your next adventure. If need be, you can always treat this as a random chart, rolling percentile dice to choose your next challenging plot seed. Should these plot seeds help you, please feel free to comment on how.

  1. The party must protect a dark, deceitful shaman from the actions of a swift, honorable courtier, who is motivated by love.
  2. The party must help a weatherbeaten, over-confident cultist locate a shipment of illegal goods to further his ambition against a wild-eyed, honorable adventurer.
  3. The party must hunt down a clumsy, deceitful druid for punishment by a wild-eyed, boisterous ritualist.
  4. The party must help an elderly, angry gladiator locate an an oil enchanted with a moderately powerful arcane spell to further his ambition against a clumsy, traitorous necromancer.
  5. The party must retrieve an elderly, generous necromancer, or a collection of secret missives, despite interference from an ongoing military action or natural disaster.
  6. The party must deliver an an a magical battle axe to a branded, pacifistic illusionist, despite interference from a hirsute, heroic ritualist.
  7. The party must retrieve a hirsute, generous ritualist, or a collection of secret missives, despite interference from an ongoing military action or natural disaster.
  8. The party must help a weatherbeaten, envious weaponmaster locate a collection of lost lore to further his ambition against an attractive, pious tribesman.
  9. The party must rescue an alert, pacifistic sorcerer from the cruel maneuvers of a deformed, moderate assassin.
  10. The party must protect a nimble, delusional acrobat against a bald, angry mercenary who has gone insane.
  11. The party must hunt down an ugly, stoic crusader for punishment by a nimble, over-confident acrobat.
  12. The party must retrieve a lame, insecure mercenary, or a shipment of illegal goods, despite interference from an ongoing military action or natural disaster.
  13. The party must become involved in a love triangle involving a weatherbeaten, vengeful martial artist and a crusty, kind explorer.
  14. The party must help a hirsute, proud sorcerer locate a collection of lost lore to further his ambition against a weatherbeaten, moderate trader.
  15. The party must help two lovers overcome interference created by an enormous, meticulous cultist.
  16. The party must help a weatherbeaten, curious gladiator, who is being forced by an obese, stubborn spy to choose between two loved ones.
  17. The party must assist a blind, generous serf, who is fleeing punishment from an obese, prudish outlander.
  18. The party must rescue an ugly, moderate magus from the cruel maneuvers of a bumbling, delusional bodyguard.
  19. The party must rescue an elegant, pious crusader from the cruel maneuvers of a robust, cowardly cultist.
  20. The party must secretly consult with an obese, ravenous crusader on a delicate matter, while avoiding the attentions of an agile, prudish scholar.
  21. The party must hunt down an one-eyed, honest mercenary for punishment by a hirsute, stoic woodsman.
  22. The party must secretly consult with a deaf, flirtacious necromancer on a delicate matter, while avoiding the attentions of a dark, loyal sorcerer.
  23. The party must help a branded, flirtacious slave track down a long-lost love.
  24. The party must deliver an an a powerfully enchanted suit of hide armor to a wild-eyed, cowardly knight, despite interference from an agile, cautious priest.
  25. The party must assist a deformed, cautious knight, who is fleeing punishment from a small, proud cultist.
  26. The party must intervene in a family squabble between an one-armed, proud gladiator and an enormous, curious spy.
  27. The party must aid a pallid, flirtacious woodsman in performing an act of self-sacrifice for his ideals.
  28. The party must aid a swift, boisterous knight in performing an act of self-sacrifice for his ideals.
  29. The party must map an unexplored area, despite interference from a sickly, honorable commoner.
  30. The party must aid a blind, curious mercenary in performing an act of self-sacrifice for his family.
  31. The party must aid an agile, prudish explorer in rebellion against a bumbling, determined priest.
  32. The party must help a bumbling, slovenly thief, who is being forced by a weatherbeaten, proud mercenary to choose between two loved ones.
  33. The party must help two lovers overcome interference created by an one-armed, arrogant crusader.
  34. The party must hinder a courtship between a scrawny, insecure woodsman and a robust, angry adventurer, who are unknowingly related.
  35. The party must help a scrawny, boisterous knight locate a collection of lost lore to further his ambition against a lame, proud druid.
  36. The party must protect an agile, proud martial artist against a bumbling, arrogant serf who has gone insane.
  37. The party must help a deformed, proud trader atone to a wild-eyed, kind outlander for illicit or immoral past actions.
  38. The party must help a nimble, angry monk, who is being forced by an one-eyed, loyal priest to choose between two loved ones.
  39. The party must help a blind, heroic serf atone to a skinny, humble monk for illicit or immoral past actions.
  40. The party must deliver an an a magical suit of breast plate to an elderly, prudish spy, despite interference from an obese, kind outlander.
  41. The party must help a wild-eyed, insecure scholar track down a long-lost love.
  42. The party must assist a wild-eyed, delusional weaponmaster in a daring enterprise, despite the efforts of an elegant, heroic trader.
  43. The party must secretly consult with a scrawny, immoral necromancer on a delicate matter, while avoiding the attentions of a branded, greedy assassin.
  44. The party must help an alert, delusional gladiator who has been falsely accused by a pallid, traitorous shaman of illicit or immoral actions.
  45. The party must aid an one-legged, prudish crusader, who has fallen on hard times.
  46. The party must assist a blind, envious spellsword, who is fleeing punishment from a swift, honest explorer.
  47. The party must assist a hirsute, proud weaponmaster, who is fleeing punishment from a deaf, prudish woodsman.
  48. The party must deliver a pallid, envious bodyguard to an one-eyed, stoic martial artist, despite interference from a bald, arrogant priest.
  49. The party must aid a hirsute, delusional woodsman who has, out of jealousy, falsely accused a robust, cowardly gladiator of actions against a loved one.
  50. The party must help two lovers overcome interference created by a robust, honorable bodyguard.
  51. The party must seek out a pallid, heroic mercenary, who unknowingly killed a relative.
  52. The party must retrieve an alert, boisterous slave, or the personal effects of a fallen hero, despite interference from an ongoing military action or natural disaster.
  53. The party must aid a hirsute, stoic knight in giving up everything for his beloved.
  54. The party must exact revenge upon a nimble, honest scout for crimes against a bumbling, proud priest.
  55. The party must map an unexplored area, despite interference from an elderly, determined illusionist.
  56. The party must present a request for assistance before a swift, heroic illusionist against the schemes of a clumsy, stubborn spy.
  57. The party must help a lame, flirtacious sorcerer atone to a deformed, curious bodyguard for illicit or immoral past actions.
  58. The party must hunt down a wild-eyed, moderate spellsword for punishment by an elderly, honorable tribesman.
  59. The party must recover a lost work of art lost through the naivete of an ugly, loyal scholar to a small, immoral weaponmaster with a conniving nature.
  60. The party must protect a brawny, determined scholar as they request assistance from a branded, honest adventurer for actions against loved one by a swift, angry explorer.
  61. The party must exact revenge upon an one-legged, traitorous illusionist for crimes against a robust, cowardly noble.
  62. The party must deliver an elderly, stoic spellsword to a blind, delusional martial artist, despite interference from a youthful, insecure spy.
  63. The party must help a clumsy, immoral illusionist track down a long-lost love.
  64. The party must hunt down an elderly, envious priest for punishment by an agile, honorable gladiator.
  65. The party must help a small, honest knight, who is being forced by a brawny, vengeful necromancer to choose between two loved ones.
  66. The party must rescue an enormous, flirtacious sorcerer from the cruel maneuvers of a skinny, pacifistic assassin.
  67. The party must help a branded, pacifistic woodsman, who is being forced by a bumbling, arrogant tribesman to choose between two loved ones.
  68. The party must aid an attractive, boisterous spy in performing an act of self-sacrifice for his ideals.
  69. The party must help a swift, generous scholar atone to an agile, ravenous trader for illicit or immoral past actions.
  70. The party must hunt down an attractive, stoic outlander for punishment by a wild-eyed, greedy weaponmaster.
  71. The party must recover a lost work of art lost through the naivete of an obese, greedy slave to an attractive, heroic trader with a conniving nature.
  72. The party must help a skinny, cowardly adventurer who has been falsely accused by a lame, stoic martial artist of illicit or immoral actions.
  73. The party must help an alert, envious scout locate a collection of secret missives to further his ambition against an elegant, greedy assassin.
  74. The party must retrieve a lost work of art from a remote location, in competition with a weatherbeaten, cautious mercenary.
  75. The party must help a swift, humble mercenary, who is being forced by an obese, ravenous acrobat to choose between two loved ones.
  76. The party must provide disaster relief/humanitarian aid to a hirsute, meticulous martial artist, despite interference from a branded, prudish knight.
  77. The party must protect a deaf, pacifistic mercenary from the actions of an obese, greedy monk, who is motivated by love.
  78. The party must intervene in a family squabble between a robust, cautious ritualist and a deaf, angry scholar.
  79. The party must assist an obese, honest knight in a daring enterprise, despite the efforts of a crusty, pious trader.
  80. The party must abduct a bald, angry cultist from a deformed, greedy magus.
  81. The party must aid an obese, flirtacious weaponmaster in performing an act of self-sacrifice for his ideals.
  82. The party must aid a scarred, honest scout in performing an act of self-sacrifice for his ideals.
  83. The party must exact revenge upon an enormous, arrogant noble for crimes against a hirsute, envious bodyguard.
  84. The party must hunt down an elegant, honorable ritualist for punishment by an agile, meticulous slave.
  85. The party must seek out a bald, cowardly acrobat, who unknowingly killed a relative.
  86. The party must exact revenge upon a wild-eyed, vengeful gladiator for crimes against an one-legged, angry priest.
  87. The party must reveal the dishonor performed by a deformed, moderate spy against a dark, insecure necromancer.
  88. The party must protect a scarred, envious scholar against a branded, clueless noble who has gone insane.
  89. The party must assist an one-legged, slovenly serf in a daring enterprise, despite the efforts of a swift, flirtacious ritualist.
  90. The party must help an attractive, arrogant monk track down a long-lost love.
  91. The party must provide disaster relief/humanitarian aid to an agile, insecure sorcerer, despite interference from an attractive, delusional monk.
  92. The party must help a clumsy, humble mercenary who has been falsely accused by an one-eyed, pacifistic noble of illicit or immoral actions.
  93. The party must help two lovers overcome interference created by an one-eyed, envious explorer.
  94. The party must aid an enormous, cowardly crusader in performing an act of self-sacrifice for his ideals.
  95. The party must present a request for assistance before an one-eyed, curious scout against the schemes of an one-legged, over-confident sorcerer.
  96. The party must abduct an ugly, stubborn ritualist from a crusty, pacifistic illusionist.
  97. The party must intervene in a family squabble between an alert, traitorous adventurer and an attractive, delusional outlander.
  98. The party must map an unexplored area, despite interference from a lame, prudish magus.
  99. The party must map an unexplored area, despite interference from a scarred, slovenly serf.
  100. The party must help a dark, stoic serf atone to a pallid, curious explorer for illicit or immoral past actions.

Hope These Help,

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

One Page Plot: The Icon of Golden Reverie...

Good Morning, All:

Here's another One Page Plot, this one quite linear in implementation. Sadly, given the random plot seed I started with, there wasn't much room for a more open plot structure. Still, it should make for a few entertaining evenings, one would think.

Title: The Icon of Golden Reverie

Synopsis: The party must retrieve a lost work of art from a remote location, in competition with a religious zealot.

Adversaries: Shimmering Mind of the Piercing Scepter is a zealous servant of a Midnight Lord, an undead necromancer with dreams of animating a dead god and imbuing itself with its divine spark. A talented spellsword, Shimmering Mind went insane long ago by extensive exposure to the corrupting taint of a dead god's blood, and is devoted to gathering the power of the dead god so that the Midnight Lord may be reborn as the heir to the god's divine power. Shimmering Mind's immediate goal is the recovery of the Icon of Golden Reverie, which is said to be forged from godflesh given freely before the death of the fallen goddess. His ultimate goal, however, is to see the dead god rise once again (whether in the form of the Midnight Lord or otherwise), and become of the greatest of its worshipers. Shimmering Mind prefers the devastation of fire-based magic over that of others, and has a magic sword that grants him protection from fire-based attacks.

Other NPCs: Scholar-Magus Oleandros is a sage who believes he has discovered the location of the Shrine of Inscrutable Mists. Given that the shrine is located in an isolated region atop a lofty mountain peak, Magus Oleandros seeks the service of professional explorers to retrieve the Icon of Golden Reverie, which is said to lie within the shrine.

Locales: The Shrine of Inscrutable Mists is located high atop Chimera's Peak. Given the region's significance to the fallen goddess known as the Lady of Woes, the slopes team with aberrant lifeforms twisted by the presence of the goddess's ichor. The Shrine itself is protected by a Sovereign Orb, which is perhaps one of the goddess's own eyes.

Plot Hooks: The party may become involved in this plot through a number of means:

* The party may be hired by the Scholar-Magus Oleandros to retrieve the Icon of Golden Reverie from the Shrine of Inscrutable Mists.

* The party may discover a small group of burnt and charred corpses. Searching the bodies uncovers a letter from Oleandros explaining the quest to the adventurers that had since become the victims of Shimmering Mind, and providing a map to the Shrine and description of the Icon.

* The party could uncover references to the Shrine and Icon in an ancient tome found in a reference library affiliated with a Midnight Lord or located within the Madlands.

Basic Outline: This adventure is fairly linear, as far as adventures go. Once the party discovers the existence of the Icon and the location of the Shrine, this adventure only becomes active once they start off into the wilderness in search of Chimera's Peak.

In addition to the usual wilderness encounters, the party will discover signs that another adventurer is traveling in the same direction, and has control over powerful fire-based magic.

At the base of the mountain, the party will need to deal with, or bypass, a tribe of Chimera-herding savages that stalk the area. These savages view the mountain as sacred territory, and do their best to prevent others from trespassing.

In addition to chimeras, numerous aberrations and other divinely warped creatures inhabit the slopes of Chimera's Peak, causing problems for those that make their way up the mountain side.

The peak is shrouded in clouds and mist, and the shrine is difficult to find. When the party arrives, Shimmering Mind is there in meditation before the Shrine. He will not enter until he has recited a lengthy mantra that requires the better part of a day in meditation. The party may enter with him, or travel in alone. Although a zealous dedicant, Shimmering Mind does not appear more unstable than any other worshiper of a fallen god under most circumstances.

The shrine itself is a small complex of four or five rooms, the innermost of which contains a Sovereign Orb, which Shimmering Mind will regard as the eye of the fallen goddess. He will attempt to gain the Icon through persuasion, and only resort to subdual strikes against the Orb if persuasion fails and combat ensues. If the party prematurely initiates combat in the presence of Shimmering Mind, he will defend the Orb first, then resume his efforts to persuade it to relinquish the Icon.

The return trip from the Shrine to civilization offers little new that wasn't encountered previously on the trip to the Shrine.

Complications: The party may encounter a number of complications over the course of this adventure:

* Shimmering Mind is a warped and twisted soul whose fanaticism may not be readily apparent, but may cause complications as events unfold.

* The Chimera Herders are vigilant against trespassers onto the sacred ground of Chimera's Peak.

* The Sovereign Orb is the final guardian of the Icon of Golden Reverie, and does not respond well when attacked.

Rewards: The Icon of Golden Reverie is made from the flesh of a fallen goddess, gilded by gold leaf. It bears an unusual dweomer that grants its bearer mystical insight into the dreams and desires of others, and even a limited ability to read thoughts. With proper control, the Icon can even cause confusion.