Friday, March 30, 2012

Fantasy Friday: Some Thoughts on Domain Management...

Good Afternoon, All:

For today's Fantasy Friday post, I wanted to take a few minutes to collect some thoughts on domain management. I've recently been reading An Echo Resounding by Sine Nomine Publishing, and that sparked a thought in me to return to the concept of players involved in the original "end game" pursuit of developing lands and acting on a regional scale. I like a lot of the basic approach behind An Echo Resounding. Given that I'm an itinerant rules tinker, and that I'm currently playing Savage Worlds, I can't help but consider how I would approach such an issue. That has sent me in a mad scurry to read other domain management systems, such as Birthright and Kingmaker. Below are some of my initial thoughts:

First, I want a system that's fast and easy to use, particularly for the players. If it's easy for me, too, then that's even better. This pretty much means a system with one action per round (or multiple actions if you are willing to take a penalty to your efforts, in standard Savage Worlds fare.)

Second, I want something that mimics the general way that combat works, or at least how mass combat works, so that it is easy for the players to pick up. The more concept in common with existing rules mechanics, the better.

Third, I want something reasonably generic, so I don't have to generate a list of parts to buy, and add to it every time a player gets a wild idea. If they want a holding or asset that helps with trade, for example, they describe it and then we assign a category (such as Trade) and a rating (such as Medium) to determine how it integrates with the basic framework.

Fourth, I want enough options to provide flavor, but not so many that I drown in them. Too many options leads to Option Paralysis, which stalls the game. That's not good.

Fifth, I want a way that adventuring can integrate into the rules, so that I can replace a specific action with the results of an adventure, if the players decide they want to play something out. Everyone likes to see that their efforts impact the outcome, and that opportunity should be supported by the system I'm creating.

As you can probably guess, I've already got the majority of a system outlined, but not yet formalized. When it is ready, I'll post it here for your thoughts. Still, I thought I'd at least give you some insight into what's recently been bouncing around in my head.

Enjoy Your Weekend,

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Traveller World Tags: Homeworld, Military Rule, Prison Camp...

Good Afternoon, All:

In the eighth of my short series of posts on Traveller World Tags, I'm focusing on the following remarks that are often tracked along with trade codes: Homeworld (Hw), Military Rule (Mr), Prison Camp (Pr).

My thoughts on world tags for these remarks can be found below.

Homeworld (Hw)

Allies/Contacts:Colonial administrator; Friendly research xeno-sociologist; Leader of "peace faction" natives; Ranger/scout-turned-liaison
Rivals/Enemies:Ambassador of competing foreign power; Ruthless offworld investor; Xenophobic native leader; Zealous native priest or shaman
Targets:Captured offworlder; Local religious icons made of gold; Treaty between natives and offworlders; Xeno-sociological research data
Locales:Native village; Offworlder colony; Site sacred to the local religion; Treaty site
Challenges:Bizarre native customs; Competing foreign power seeks treaty that excludes the party's polity of allegiance; Native factions feuding over offworlder presence; One side commits an atrocity

Military Rule (Mr)

Allies/Contacts:Downtrodden local; Humanitarian aid official; Local medical doctor; Underground resistance
Rivals/Enemies:Cruel patrolman; Secret police; Traitorous turncoat; Vengeful freedom fighter
Targets:Captured plunder; Forged travel papers; Shipment of rations or medical supplies; Weapon cache
Locales:Burned-out settlement; Internment camp; Military headquarters; Site of battle or massacre
Challenges:Curfews; Military patrols; Rationing; Travel restrictions

Prison Camp (Pr)

Allies/Contacts:Helpful sycophant; Innocent man falsely accused; Overworked security chief; Stressed out technician
Rivals/Enemies:Arrogant prison guard; Corrupt warden; Opinionated smuggler; Vengeful prison gang leader
Targets:Criminal mastermind; Map of possible escape route; Security system access codes; Smuggled luxury items
Locales:Patrol headquarters; Secret smugglers' landing site; Squalid living quarters; Weapon cache site
Challenges:Criminal gangs; Guards with itchy trigger fingers; Interdiction cruisers; Security systems

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions to improve the options listed above?

With Regards,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Traveller World Tags: Ancients' Site, Subsector/Sector/Regional Capital, Exile Camp...

Good Morning, All:

My apologies for the short delay in getting this out. In the seventh of my short series of posts on Traveller World Tags, I'm focusing on the following remarks that are often tracked along with trade codes: Ancients' Site (An), Subsector and Sector/Regional Capital (Cp, Cx), Exile Camp (Ex).

My thoughts on world tags for these remarks can be found below.

Ancients' Site (An)

Allies/Contacts:Ancients cult pilgram; Local guide familiar with the site(s); Naive research scientist; Offworld collector
Rivals/Enemies:Ancients cult leader; Artifact thief/smuggler; Corporate spy; Swindler selling fake artifacts
Targets:Ancient artifact (functional or broken); Map to secret/hidden Ancients' site; Proof of the site's inauthenticity; Research based on reverse engineering artifacts
Locales:Ancients cult shrine/religious center; Government permit office; Secret/hidden Ancients' site; Smugglers' warehouse
Challenges:Angry Ancients cultists; Malfunctioning Ancients artifact; Permits required to access the site; Site is actually a well-constructed fake

Subsector and Sector/Regional Capital (Cp, Cx)

Allies/Contacts:Diplomatic liaison; Merchant House representative; Politician's aide; Professional bodyguard
Rivals/Enemies:Ambitious admiral; Enemy spy/terrorist; Merchant House lord; Overconfident noble
Targets:Confidential executive report; Diplomatic courier pouch; Holovids of certain "indiscretions"; Incriminating military orders
Locales:Foreign embassy; Law offices representing a particular politician; Republic Senate antechamber; Special interest group headquarters
Challenges:Diplomatic immunity; Foreign intelligence operatives; Political corruption; Protest rallies

Exile Camp (Ex)

Allies/Contacts:Blockade runner; Helpful sycophant; Innocent administrator falsely accused; Overworked security chief
Rivals/Enemies:Exiled despot; Over-zealous warden; Relentless assassin; Vengeful smuggler
Targets:Exile; Family heirloom; Map of possible escape route; Smuggled weapons
Locales:Patrol headquarters; Secret smugglers' landing site; Squalid living quarters; Weapon cache site
Challenges:Planetary blockade; Political reprisals; Security systems; Victims of political atrocities

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions to improve the options listed above?

With Regards,

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fantasy Friday: Sandbox Encounters From A To Z...

Good Afternoon, All:

For today's installment of Fantasy Friday, I wanted to discuss my plans for next month's A-Z Challenge. The goal for the A-Z Challenge is to write 26 posts in the month of April, one a day except for a given day per week (usually Sunday). The topic of each post starts with a different letter of the alphabet, creating a series of hopefully related posts that your readers will find entertaining or at least useful.

While I know that I'm moving most of this blog toward Traveller, the month of April is going to be all about fantasy, because it is admittedly easier to write for. In my case, I'm going to focus on Sandbox Encounters. I intend to write up 26 different encounter types I can use in my Madlands Campaign, to help when I need a random encounter in my game. Of course, these can be used by fantasy GMs with minimal changes, particularly if you're running a sandbox campaign or a game set in the Hammersong's Legacy campaign setting. With a little creativity, many of these encounters can be used in other genres as well. (Well, maybe not the supernatural encounters, but the rest should be good.)

The basics of Sandbox Encounters can be found in my post entitled Inspired by Red Tide: The Shadow Syndicate Encounters, although I'm changing it up just a little bit. In essence, I'm looking at the following write-up format, which is a simplified version of the Red Tide write-up, but suitable for my own purposes. Note that I'm not including stat blocks in my version, although I may, if I have the time and motivation to do so.

Sandbox Encounter Format:
  1. Brief Description. This will be a paragraph describing the encountered creature or type in general.
  2. Encounter Groups. This section provides three different encounters of escalating power levels: Novice (levels 1-3), Seasoned (levels 4-6) and Veteran (levels 7-10), to borrow terms from Savage Worlds. Each simply lists the members of such a group, and provides some basic treasure for the encounter.
  3. Encounter Ideas. This d6 table will contain six different scenarios that the GM can either choose directly, randomly select, or use as inspiration for a given encounter.

I am currently looking at detailing the following Sandbox Encounters:
  1. Adventurers' Expedition
  2. Banth
  3. Canker Hound
  4. Dinosaur
  5. Earth Drake
  6. Fyrcat
  7. Giant
  8. Horror From Beyond
  9. Iron Golem
  10. Jackal Lord
  11. Kelshani
  12. Lupiscupine
  13. Mantid
  14. Night Hag Cult
  15. Ogre
  16. Pyrolisk
  17. Quickling
  18. Revenant
  19. Serpentfolk
  20. Troll
  21. Unicorn
  22. Vulturan
  23. White Ape
  24. Xenophobic Patrol
  25. Yakshini
  26. Zegoth

If you have any other suggestions than the ones above. please feel free to make them. I'm pretty open, and I'm sure my players would enjoy a few surprises, so long as they fit the flavor of the setting.

With Regards,

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Traveller World Tags: Rich, Water and Vacuum...

Good Afternoon, All:

In the sixth of my short series of posts on Traveller World Tags, I'm focusing on the following trade codes: Rich (Ri), Water World (Wa), Vacuum (Va).

My thoughts on world tags for these trade codes can be found below.

Rich (Ri)

Allies/Contacts:Free trader captain; Luxury resort chief of staff; Rec chem pub owner; Starving artist
Rivals/Enemies:Arrogant noble; Interplanetary thief; Merchant House planetary director; Vengeful duelist
Targets:Black market military-grade cybernetics; Contraband luxury items; Fine liquor; Shipment of recreational chemicals
Locales:Art gallery/museum; Corporate headquarters; Luxury resort; Private mansion
Challenges:Bureaucratic red tape; Corporate espionage; Deranged or inebriated cyborg; Exaggerated social classes

Water World (Wa)

Allies/Contacts:Aquabot operator; Life support systems technician; Research scientist; Talkative submarine captain
Rivals/Enemies:Delusional leviathan hunter; Local seaport portmaster; Research station director; Underwater city council member
Targets:Biochemical extracts; Exotic aquatic creature; Natural anagathic research data; Underwater drone
Locales:Fishing vessel; Floating platform/station; Submarine; Underwater dome
Challenges:Colossal aquatic leviathan; Extremely violent storm; Failing environmental system in underwater environment; Tsunami

Vacuum (Va)

Allies/Contacts:Disgruntled miner; Life support systems technician; Retired computer hacker; Sealed habitat engineer
Rivals/Enemies:Atmospheric ration control officer; City security chief; Insane saboteur; Mining operation director
Targets:Atmospheric ration coupons; Life support system spare parts; Master access codes to the city's security systems; Vacuum-functional mining equipment
Locales:Abandoned/isolated outpost; Large crater; Underground city corridor; Vehicular airlock
Challenges:Ever-present surveillance equipment; Meteor storm; Rationed/failing life support; Restrictive regulations

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions to improve the options listed above?

With Regards,

Monday, March 19, 2012

Traveller World Tags: Non-Agricultural, Non-Industrial, Poor...

Good Afternoon, All:

In the fifth of my short series of posts on Traveller World Tags, I'm focusing on the following trade codes: Non-Agricultural (Na), Non-Industrial (Ni), Poor (Po).

My thoughts on world tags for these trade codes follow:

Non-Agricultural (Na)

Allies/Contacts:Freight handler foreman; Happy-go-lucky smuggler; Offworld investor; Starving beggar
Rivals/Enemies:Black marketeer; Corrupt customs inspector; Food control board member; Ruthless food importer
Targets:DIY hydroponics equipment; Food transport shipment; Imported textiles
Locales:Barren wasteland; Customs warehouse; Food distribution center; Underground cities
Challenges:Food riot; Large indigent population; Restrictive regulations; Security systems

Non-Industrial (Ni)

Allies/Contacts:Free trader captain; Freight handler foreman; Immigration recruiter; Starport clerk
Rivals/Enemies:Ambitious real estate tycoon; Black marketeer; Corrupt customs inspector; Ruthless smuggler
Targets:Imported luxury vehicle; Radioactive ore samples; Secret settlement expansion plans; Textile shipment
Locales:Customs warehouse; Outlying homestead; Textile plant; Untamed wilderness
Challenges:Land rights threatened by imminent domain; Restrictive regulations; Stolen shipments; Trade embargo

Poor (Po)

Allies/Contacts:Immigration recruiter; Medical clinic administrator; Overworked charity program director; Underpaid technician
Rivals/Enemies:Arrogant importer; Overconfident bounty hunter; Ruthless smuggler; Vengeful gun runner
Targets:Fugitive in hiding on this "backwater planet"; Illegal weapons; Medical supplies; Shipment of exotic spices
Locales:Abandoned warehouse; Over-full medical facility; Partially constructed amusement park/tourist trap; Ramshackle "shanty town"
Challenges:Impoverished population; Lack of available parts for repairs; Regional epidemic; Stolen shipments

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions to improve the options listed above?

With Regards,

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fantasy Friday: On Mind Mapping...

Good Afternoon, All:

For this Fantasy Friday, I wanted to talk about a GMing tool that I've recently discovered and started using for campaign and adventure development. It's called mind mapping. A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing. You can make them using pen and paper, or you can use software like FreeMind.

Mind mapping works best as a form of brainstorming. You are getting ideas out there as quickly as you can, using the branching lines to help you organize the ideas in some form of structure. You may not use all of the ideas you capture. However, in the early stages of campaign development or adventure design, getting everything out there is very important.

One possible use for mind maps might be to capture notes and thoughts on adventure ideas for individual PCs without your campaign. Simply create a new mind map for each character in the game, and spend 5-15 minutes reviewing the character's character sheet and backstory, making notes on adventure ideas as you do so. An hour's worth of your time may produce some great ideas for adventures and even campaign seeds that will give you many sessions of enjoyment. I think that's a great return on your investment.

If you'd like to know more, you might check out the following links:

Hope This Helps,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Traveller World Tags: Industrial, Low Population, Low Technology...

Good Afternoon, All:

In the fourth of my short series of posts on Traveller World Tags, I'm focusing on the following trade codes: Industrial (In), Low Population (Lo), Low Technology (Lt).

My thoughts on world tags for these trade codes follow:

Industrial (In)

Allies/Contacts:Research engineer; Smuggler with a heart of gold; Talented roboticist; Test driver/pilot of experimental vehicles
Rivals/Enemies:Aggressive anti-robotic demonstrator; Industrial spy; Ruthless part supplier; Vehicle theft ringleader
Targets:Cargo container of robots; Expensive replacement parts; Industrial secret research; Shipment of new vehicles
Locales:Corporate office building; Illicit "chop shop"; Manufacturing plant; Warehouse
Challenges:Bureaucratic red tape; Industrial espionage; Interference from offworld interests; Poor supply of resources

Low Population (Lo)

Allies/Contacts:Grizzled radioactives miner; Lonely starport clerk; Progenitor researcher; Overworked technician
Rivals/Enemies:Arrogant starport director; Mining operation manager; Progenitor cultist; Unscrupulous "import specialist"
Targets:Mining equipment; Progenitor artifact; Shipment of radioactive ore; Top secret research data
Locales:Colonial offices; Progenitor ruins; Radioactive ore mine; Research facility
Challenges:Colonial or isolationist mentality; Insufficient manpower or expertise; Pirates running a protection racket on the colony; Unusually high levels of radiation

Low Technology (Lt)

Allies/Contacts:Curious sociologist; Diplomatic liaison; Friendly chieftain; Local importer
Rivals/Enemies:Aspiring warlord; Local guildmaster; Luddite commmunity leader; Xenophobic aristocrat
Targets:Handcrafted furniture; Local faction leader's daughter; Prize livestock or mounts
Locales:Battlefield between warring factions; Fortified settlement; Lumber yard; Smelly feedlot
Challenges:Luddite mob; Stampeding livestock; Warring tribes, clans or factions; Xenophobia

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions to improve the options listed above?

With Regards,

Monday, March 12, 2012

Traveller World Tags: High Population, High Technology, Ice-Capped...

Good Afternoon, All:

In the third of my short series of posts on Traveller World Tags, I'm focusing on the following trade codes: High Population (Hi), High Technology (Ht), Ice-Capped (Ic).

My thoughts on world tags for these trade codes follow:

High Population (Hi)

Allies/Contacts:Colonial Services clerk; Hydroponics technician; Medical supply distributor; Pharmaceutical researcher
Rivals/Enemies:Deportation case worker; Disciplined terrorist cell member; Drug lord; Population control enforcer
Targets:Experimental medical equipment; Luxury goods; Illicit drugs; Pharmaceutical research
Locales:Drug cartel-owned private spaceport; Hydroponics greenhouse; Overcrowded tenement building; Pharmaceutical warehouse
Challenges:Food shortages; Privateer press gangs; Tensions between rival criminal cartels; Unruly mobs

High Technology (Ht)

Allies/Contacts:Computer security analyst; Cybernetic surgeon; Security specialist with connections; Talented roboticist
Rivals/Enemies:Accomplished hacker; Arrogant gun runner; Industrial spy; Vengeful cyborg
Targets:Commercial robots; Experimental prototype; Illegal weapons; Shipment of cybernetic parts
Locales:Advanced research & development laboratory; Hospital cybernetic surgery recovery ward; Over-sized computer server room; Robotic manufacturing plant
Challenges:Advanced security systems; Computer virus; Getting caught in the middle of a Central Security Service sting operation against a local gun runner; Glitchy cybernetic parts

Ice-Capped (Ic)

Allies/Contacts:Grizzled ice miner; Local geologist; Mining company broker; Petrochemical researcher
Rivals/Enemies:Eco-terrorist; Mining site general manager; Offworld investor; Vengeful prospector
Targets:Ice mining equipment; Geological survey results; Map to a rich lode of a precious metal; Private collection of locally mined crystals and gems
Locales:Geological survey station; Glacier's edge; Isolated mining station; Refined ore processing plant
Challenges:Avalanche; Blizzard conditions; Difficult terrain; Local wildlife
What do you think? Do you have any suggestions to improve the options listed above? With Regards, Flynn

Friday, March 09, 2012

Fantasy Friday: Sword & Planet RPG, First Draft...

Good Afternoon, All:

I've posted the first rough draft of the Sword & Planet RPG for your review. You can download the file at:

Bear in mind that it is still a work in progress, and that there's a lot of data and layout work that is still missing. However, since I said I'd have it up today, I figured I should at least post what I have.

Please feel free to check it out, and give me any feedback you might have. I'll work on getting an updated version up next week.


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Traveller World Tags: Desert, Fluid Oceans and Garden...

Good Afternoon, All:

In the second of my short series of posts on Traveller World Tags, I'm focusing on the following trade codes: Desert (De), Fluid Oceans (Fl), Garden (Ga).

My thoughts on world tags for these trade codes follow:

Desert (De)

Allies/Contacts:Curious terraformer; Desert nomad/guide; Moisture or spice farmer; Research scientist
Rivals/Enemies:Anti-terraforming activist; Eccentric prospector; Hermit psionicist; Nomad chieftain
Targets:Artifact sacred to the local desert nomads; Hidden well/water reservoir; Shipment of unusual spices; Terraforming equipment
Locales:Desert nomad cave city; Moisture farm; Oasis; Underground cistern
Challenges:Blinding sandstorms; Giant sand worms; Territorial feud between opposing desert nomad tribes; Xenophobia and unusual customs among the desert nomads

Fluid Oceans (Fl)

Allies/Contacts:Happy-go-lucky sailor/seafarer; Leviathan hunter; Processing plant technician; Specialty "aquatic" equipment supplier
Rivals/Enemies:Ambitious port master; Grizzled sailing captain; Processing plant executive officer; "Save the Leviathan" ecological activist
Targets:Map to untapped precious metal lode; Petrochemical cargo shipment; Rare albino leviathan; Sailing vessel
Locales:Leviathan "bait" shop; Petrochemical processing plant; Shipyard; Warehouse district
Challenges:Alien leviathan; Raging petroleum fire; Severe storm in a non-standard atmosphere; Ship sinking into non-water fluid

Garden (Ga)

Allies/Contacts:Big game hunter; Knowledgeable forester; Respected vintner; Spice farmer
Rivals/Enemies:Clearcutting logger foreman; Drug crop plantation owner; Gluttonous noble; Vengeful game warden
Targets:Bottles of fine wine/liquor; Exotic or addictive spices; Handcrafted wooden furniture; Prime livestock specimens
Locales:Hunting lodge; Overgrown plantation; Vineyard; Wildlife preserve
Challenges:Exotic local disease; Invasive offworld predators originally imported to handle a local pest; Trapped in a hunting preserve when hunting season starts; Unusual hunting or wildlife preservation regulations

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions to improve the options listed above?

With Regards,

Monday, March 05, 2012

Public Service Announcement: 20% Discount at

Good Afternoon, All:

Today's post has been highjacked to bring you an important Public Service Announcement. is offering a deal where you can save 20% on any order on their site. Just enter the coupon code SPACIOUS305 at checkout and receive 20% off your order. The maximum savings for this offer is $100. All the usual disclaimers apply, of course. (This offer is only valid in US Dollars and cannot be applied to previous orders. You can only use this code once per account, and unfortunately you can't use this coupon in combination with other coupon codes.) This great offer expires on March 7, 2012 at 11:59 PM PST, so don't miss out!

This is an excellent opportunity to pick up any PDFs or Print-On-Demand books that you've been wanting to add to your collection. Many of the Old School publishers use Lulu to make their printed copies available. And if you happen to find a few Samardan Press publications you'd like to add to your list, I would be thankful for your support.

On Wednesday, we will return you to your normally scheduled blog series on Traveller World Tags, already in progress...

With Regards,

Friday, March 02, 2012

Fantasy Friday: Free Sword & Planet Ruleset Coming Soon...

Good Afternoon, All:

For Fantasy Friday today, I thought I'd mention that I'm pulling together all the Sword & Planet material I've posted into a single document, along with material I hadn't posted previously. I will make this document available sometime next week (probably around my birthday on March 8th.) This document will be available for free, simply to share those creative efforts with others. I'm doing this in part to honor or celebrate the new movie "John Carter of Mars", but mostly because I just love Planetary Romance gaming. I hope that my contributions will help others enjoy more of it themselves.

The book itself will contain all the rules needed to play a game in this exciting genre, as well as a small bestiary of foes inspired by the Barsoom series of novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I will be releasing the entire thing under the Open Gaming License, so other publishers can use it as they see fit.

The list of character races will be simple, and will likely include one or two species from different planetary romance series. Obviously, human (Earthmen) will be the preferred race, but local humans of varying skin colors, as well as a large multi-limbed giant (ala the Green Martians), and one or two other options would be good to have in the rules for creativity purposes. Any suggestions on this particular point would be greatly appreciated.

Anyway, I just wanted to share the news of my intentions with you, and ask for your thoughts, concerns and feedback on the idea. I will likely have no artwork in the document unless I can find some good public domain art that inspires a Sword & Planet game. If any of you have any suggestions of where I might find something of that ilk, please feel free to let me know.

With Regards,