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From the prow of your ship you see the island come into view. At first it is nothing but a glint on the horizon, then a shining sphere.. a ...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

RPG's and Twitter. (A question)

Preface: I don't know how to Twitter very well. I'm a "twitiot."

Recently (last friday) I took a few minutes to follow every RPG related twitter feed I could find. I figure if I followed someone that posts things that aren't sitting well with me I can just unfollow them and no harm no foul.
 I follow a mixed bag of scientists, freinds, pro wrestlers, local news reporters, some comedy feeds, but now my list of twitter follows is predominantly RPG's. Something I find strange and I guess this is due to  twitter's algorithms controlling what they show and when, I don't see all that many RPG related posts in my  feed.

(though I do chat with  Charles from the Dyver's Blog quite often, and had a nice exchange with the person behind the Goblin Stomper Blog)

Here's my question:
How do you utilized twitter to expand you RPG circles?  All I really do is  post once a month or so that I have this blog.
Or don't you? is  twitter useless for this  kind of thing.

Thanks for reading:
-Mark.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Utilizing Insects.

Giant insects are a D&D  stand by. It's hard to find a dungeon that doesn't at least have a few giant beetles spewing toxic fluids around. Admittedly they are one of my own favorite go to monsters.

One thing I think has been slightly overlooked of the the years are the myriad of  real hunting and defensive mechanisms insects employ. If by  making any old insect "giant" it becomes that much more dangerous why not  extrapolate some of their more exotic abilities into the realm of fantasy as well. Now I'm not crazy enough to think I can write about even a small percentage of insects  in this format. Instead I'm going to try and  hit on some of my favorites.

Wasps and Hornets:
I love wasps. Few things interest me more than all the different ways they have found to survive. Aerial hunters extraordinaire it seems that these gals have evolved hundreds of ways to attack and  kill prey.

One thing to think about is wasps are in many cases ambush predators, waiting around in areas where they know prey will be  and striking with surprise. Generally an ambushing wasp will find a perch or a hidden place to hover and wait for prey. For example the  Vespa Bicolor Hornet will sit on pile of  dung waiting for flies it to attract flies. Once the fly get close sounge the  honest strikes snatching them up.

Using that as a template and moving it into the  fantasy realm I could imagine  a breed of  giant paper wasps that use man made mines as shelter. The wasps are golden grey color with a splash of red on their foreheads. Their wings are silky black in color. Their bodies long, with powerful pincers, and  thick legs. The wasps abdomens are almost round, striped black and dull grey-gold. Overall they are about the size of a large dog.

Their  nests are made of digested wood pulp  held together with wasp secretions and mud from the cave floors. The  nests are large, housing 1d12 adult wasps, gray, usually built in dark places, and can easily go unnoticed.
The wasps are attracted to gold. When gold is unearthed or stored in an area, a single wasp will fly to the location and land in the darkest corner of the  room. When  living creatures are around the wasp will wait until one is quite close (Moderate difficulty to detect the wasp) then fly out attacking the target from behind usually aiming at the neck.  If the wasp kill a target they will immediately begin excising hunks of flesh and flying them back to the nest. The wasp will bite twice a round  until A: The target dies. B: The  wasp is reduced to 1/2 hit points at which point it will try to escape.
This type of wasp only stings if cornered or if defending the nest. IN these situations wasps will buzz a target and attempt to jab with it's barb like stinger. The sting does light damage but causes searing pain. The target must make a constitution save. or lose 1d6+4 strength for 5 rounds from the debilitating pain.

Spider hunting Wasps are another interesting take:
     They are a classification of wasps that contains over 200 species which  hunt, and paralyze spiders. Known broadly as spider wasps, they drag the spiders back to their nests and  lay eggs on their paralyzed victims. The larvae once hatched eat spider alive. Horror movie level  insect on arachnid violence.
Ohh god, why did I ever look this up?

Again extrapolating things to the D&D  fantasy level... Giant spiders are a D&D stand by. If there are giant spiders why not giant angry ass wasps that eat them?
A giant-spider wasps nest would be a massively disturbing thing to  run into. Scores of  paralyzed spiders being slowly eaten by giant grubs. Beyond the horrid visual however it's not particularly threatening to your players.


So lets switch it up. How  about the grub uses the giant spider to ACTIVELY feed? The grub latches onto the spider and through chemicals or hunger the arachnid  goes into a hunting frenzy. Feeling no pain and knowing no fear the berserk grub infested spider falls on prey and  attacks until the  target is dead and the spider can feed, giving more  nutrients to the parasitic grub.  Furthermore these grub controlled spiders can  hibernate within the thin mud walls of a nest, waiting to burst fourth when warm blooded prey wonders close enough. Nothing says , "RUN!" like a desiccated  mindlessly attacking giant spider which moves like a stiff marionette.

Another hook for a mid level adventure might involve solitaire "spider " wasps that have adapted to attack other prey. Sheep disappearing with out a trace, or  town guards going missing  with just their helmets left behind could  be a nice set up for a short adventure.

Some Beetle Defenses:


source
     Blister beetles are cool little buggers when disturbed they secrete a yellow oily substance that not oily burns flesh but is also highly poisonous. So a giant version of this  critter might leave puddles of the juice in it's wake once disturbed. So if there are a bunch of them in a room and a party lumbers in  they could all scurry away  leaving  wide trails of  corrosive poison in their wake effectively making the area where the party is walking much harder to navigate.  A monster that can be used to  complicate the  environment rather than attacking the party directly. Larger beetles mean stronger secretion so any objects that come into contact with the juice should also require a saving throw. Much like a rust monster the parties equipment could be at risk as well as the party members themselves.

The  Bombardier beetle is well known for the nasty, hot, chemical spray  that gives the  beetle it's name. I even found a "giant" version stated out for D20 games.
Out there on the interwebs there is a heated (pun ) argument about whether or not the humble Bombardier beetle should be the poster bug for intelligent design. Some folks say that this bug could never have evolved such a finely tuned chemical defense because precursor beetles would have blown themselves up before the mechanism could have fully evolved. Or else those precursor bugs would have been overly burdened with useless chemical crap in their abdomens, and again never would have survived evolution.
Fine. I'll let more educated people argue about design vs evolution, for my uses they had me at "If it exploded inside, it would blow any Bombardier Beetle to smithereens."

Source
What I would like to see is a queen beetle whose male drones explode if threatened. The party stumbles on  the egg chamber of the beetles burrow and the drones charge exploding one after another in plumes of  superheated hydroquinones and hydrogen peroxide. Leaving the  Unlucky party caught in what is effectively a cloudkill spell that has the  duration of 1 minute per beetle. These beetles lay their eggs in damp places, the  eggs if collected by hardy adventurers could be used to start camp  fires , or blow up kobolds.

Botflys:
I will not be sharing any of these pictures  because I regret seeing them in the first place.
I don't suggest it, but you want search "Human Botfly" And see for yourself. Don't blame me for it though.

The  interesting part of this  for  me is that the  fly captures mosquito, attaches their egg to the  mosquito, the egg hatches on the mosquito and  use the mosquito bite as an entry point on some poor person. The  larva then feeds on the  person and develops under their skin, causing a large bump and  all kinds of hideousness.
The fly uses the mosquito as a vector to infect another animal.... (Crazy)
Now I think  giant grub being  inserted into an adventurer by a giant mosquito is cool, but it has been done I'm sure. What about using  other things as unsuspecting vectors?

For example A breed of  spider that lays small web sacks on the ends of mettle objects. If the  spider gets lucky it has found a sword or spear. If it's VERY lucky it's eggs will get stabbed into some unfortunate host where they will grow into  spiderlings and  cause all kinds of  organ failure in a month or so. This kind of thing would have tells. Like a festering wound, swelling, or actual visible spider-lings under the victims skin. A priest could cure disease, a ranger could  identify the  problem, a druid may  be able to use magic or herbalism to cure the poor soul. That character will likely never sleep again.

Source
Another thought for this secondary vector idea is an insect that uses this process to control other
 animals. A Huge water bug that uses expelled Co2 to attract mosquitoes (always the mosquitoes right?) and coats them with chemicals, which make the next mammal they bite become incredibly thirsty.  The thirsty animal seeks water, where the  water bug lies in wait where it will  ambush the victim. Characters could get a save vs the thirst,  where if they pass it they would know something is not right that the thirst is  terrible and far too sudden.

These are just some  quick ideas from some cursory searches about insects and how they hunt, reproduce, and defend themselves.

I'm sure there's an untold number of cool things waiting out there for us when we start digging.
I thing the real take away here is that if you hear something interesting about the natural world, let nature do some of the  work for you. Stretch the concept in your head until it is something that belongs in a fantasy setting. Ideas based even loosely in the real world will ring a bit more true, a bit less strange , so that the real fantastic or strange stuff will stand out that much more.


Thanks for reading ,
-Mark.

(Is that a giant carpenter bee in the side of your ship?)


Sources:
http://www.vespa-bicolor.net/main/observations/hunting-strategy.htm
Spider wasp:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/76985720/dining-in--mason-wasp-eats-fresh

Insect size:
http://www.aps.anl.gov/Science/Highlights/2007/20070808.htm

Painful wasp stings...Why you don't ant to get stung by a tarantula hawk? Like you had to ask?
http://www.sciencefriday.com/articles/why-you-dont-want-to-get-stung-by-a-tarantula-hawk/

Fucking NOPE..Just No...Some people ...man...
Bombardier beetle
Wikipedia has a list of D&D monsters .... Who knew? Is The giant tick really the grand daddy o fall D&D insects?
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/bombardier.html
https://www.dnd-spells.com/spell/cloudkill
Fuck botflys seriously , I'm never going near the equator.
https://phys.org/news/2013-07-ambush-giant-bug-lethocerus-patruelis.html

Thursday, January 19, 2017

1d12 Things the Goblins are launching from their slings.

The goblin slingers have quietly emerged from the briers on the far side of the  field. The party, distracted by the writhing wall of spear wielding goblins in front, have not seen the new group, Positioned off to their left flank and slightly to their rear, the  goblins start loading their slings. Each slinger takes aim and hurls their payload at an unsuspecting adventurer before quickly retreating back into the thorny undergrowth.

Roll for sling payload...
  1. Bag of stinging ants: Characters in a three foot area must make a constitution save or succumb to the  pain of ant stings. Resulting in a penalty (disadvantage for 5th ed) on all rolls until the  character takes a round to clear the ants.
  2. Imp: The imp lands among the party screams "For the  resistance" then back stabs a random party member with a poison dagger. 
    1. Poison paralyses
    2. poison sleeps
    3. poison causes  victim to lash out at all nearby targets friend or foe.
    4. poison does extra necrotic damage
    5. Poison causes vomiting and the character must pass a con save each round to act.
  3. Smoke bombs: Causes vision reduction, smells like sulfur. Other goblins will retreat from the smoke. The smoke is used to attract a larger ally who will see the  smoke from a distance.
    1. Ogre hiding nearby
    2. A local minor demon who hires goblins and sometimes eats adventures.
    3. A young dragon circling overhead
    4. A smoke elemental
    5. A Nearby, much larger goblin  force, complete with goblin bag pipers.
    6. A treant who thinks the smoke s from irresponsibly managed camp fires.
  4. Blobs of molten lead. FUN.
  5. Large mud wasp nests. The slingers wear net outfits, because these nasty wasps will plant eggs in any thing they sting the  resulting larva will slowly  do damage over time before erupting from the  host as a fresh new wasp in about a weak.
  6. Small thin clay pots filled with very pure grain alcohol, Followed next round by hot coals.
  7. Mushrooms that explode into clouds of spores. Breathing the  spores cause choking exactly as a "Stinking Cloud" spell effect.
  8. Small glass jars containing Rot Grubs.
  9. Pixies in  wicker cages. They are good creatures, however once released they will be the  most annoying companions ever. Chattering, giggling, playing pranks, casting fairy fire on every thing, Little winged balls of chaos.
  10. Digger Grubs: These short, fat, stubby grubs hit the  ground and instinctively dig into the earth. The goblins throw them in great numbers and while they don't directly do any harm The overall effect is to make the  ground under the  targets feet soft and unstable. The  Targets will have to make Dexterity checks or stumble about. 
  11. Pheromones: This will attract the aggressive or amorus attention of wild beasts from a great distance.
    1. Bears
    2. Wolves
    3. Weasels
    4. Rats
    5. Orcs
    6. Giant Beatles
  12. Sling stones coated in a indelible ink that marks characters wounds with a bright blue tattoo like dye. The dye marks the characters as goblin foes and  until magically removed will incite the ire of any green skin or  green skin ally encountered.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Some Great RPG links that are not really RPG links.

I would like to share some links and  a few other things that have been giving me inspiration lately.
Just some of the things I have read on the web to riff ideas off of.
I read a lot of strange things out on the Internet while working on game  ideas... why not share the madness.

Here is a an excellent  decaying architecture Flickr account.

here are some links to geological maps from around the country.
USGS map view map data base for you geological types.

Why New York?  cause I live here.
New York sate Geological survey site.

Sort of an RPG link nice looking dice.
Artisan Dice

Trade:
I find this subject super interesting.
http://www.livescience.com/44703-turquoise-trade-network-revealed.html
Prehistoric mining , which is a good read in it's own right , has a great reference section.
Trade routes between Asia and Europe in antiquity,  from the met

Maps of mines:
real mine maps form Pennsylvanian, it's honestly kind of mind blowing
A ton more of that kind of thing, mine maps from all over The United States.
Ancient mines in grease
Ancient mines and trenches ...Great pictures here,

Erowids documenting the  relationship between plants humans and psychoactive... great resource if you have a druid in the party,

Great surveys of Egyptian tombs. It's like free 3D RPG maps.
Theban Mapping Project.

Masks of the  world, you can find an idea for  a shaman, a monster, a magic item, it's all so visually amazing a GM can't help but find something usable.
Masks of the World

Human population distribution through time. Just how sparse should your 100 AD campaign be?
The interactive map is the  best part of this.
This one is also good
Spatial History Project

some ruins:
Maps of Mayan ruins

Historic England / uk:
Historic England books and images.
A great PDF about medieval English settlements.
How can anyone resist a website named "Old Maps UK"
Keys to the past town info...and more.

arms and Armour
A vast Pintrest on the subject
Art institute of Chicago's collection.
Armor and arms  club Gets right to the point. Offers brief reviews of many books on the subject.
Nicely illustrated PDF on the subject 

Aliens and stuff.
A deep dive into I'm not even sure what.
Because conspiracy theories make great fodder for RPG's


Monday, January 16, 2017

Thoughts and questions on starting setting development.

I have to be honest, and if not here where?
I'm not sure if it's the winter weather, or the holidays. It might be age or it might be frustration over work. I don't know what it is but I have honestly had no interest in running  RPG's in the past two months. I suppose the players in the game I run deserve a better explanation than that one, but I don't have a better reason to offer.

In an effort to get my mojo back I started scribbling in one of my notebooks about a setting. The only rule I gave myself  starting out was "no D&D Fantasy."

A bit on process:
I play video games with my  friends on weeknights. I watch TV with my wife.. I stream videos to my  computer.. It's a lot of empty time. All the while I keep a composition note book, one of those old style black and white jobs on my desk. While nothing else is going on I scribble in any and every game related idea I have. That's my process, as simple as that. when I need something for a game I  open up the  note book and  look for  an idea that fits the bill.

Recently my note-book scribbles have been about settings. starting at first with  D&D flavored with paranormal mystery . Kind of  Ghost adventure-ers.
Then when I decided the mid evil style fantasy isn't the  space I wanted to be in right now I started chopping away at modern myths.

My first question, why  would  "other beings" want to be around us (humanity)?
As a species we do  create a great deal of chaos, a great deal of  psychological static as it were. Rile humans up and we throw off all kinds of frantic energy. Suppose that some  "others" come here because of all that chaotic emotional back ground noise humans generate. What if those "others" come here just to stir up  bad things to create more of that back ground energy, suppose they feed on it.

My second question, why would characters interact with these creatures?
The quick answer is because they can. The characters possess some kind of energy intrinsic to them that allows them to detect and combat these, others.
Perhaps that energy  is what makes the characters exceptional in their normal lives as well. Just a bit more athletic than their peers, or a bit smarter. Talented people, who are in truth channeling dimensional energy with out knowing it. In my head I'm thinking of  characters found in fighting games suddenly dropped into the supermarket. These people stand out, and  are sought by various organisations looking to  stop, combat, exploit, or study  this inter-dimensional phenomenon.

Why  doesn't the military  just gun these "others" back into where ever the fuck they come from?
So I'm thinking the  intrinsic energy  of the characters is the only  way to banish these otherworldly beings. Further more the energy is not transferable , in other words the characters need to make contact with their mysterious foe with either their hands or something held  directly in their hands. In effect we get back to  beating things up with fists, sticks and swords, which is where I want to be.

I made this bullet point list  earlier, shared it with some folks and just kind of left it out there.

Setting idea (Brief)
  • Modern Fantasy, a day from now setting.
  • Some people are exceptional.
  • These people have and are sensitive to a dimensional energy.
  • The energy manifests as the character being talented in their field, but once it is harnessed can be used for more “magical” type effects.
  • This sensitivity causes these people to know when they’re around a pocket dimension, a dimensional being or in an area where the boundaries between dimensions are thin.
    • In resent years our reality has brushed up against a reality whose beings feed off the psychic energy created by humans in stressful of chaotic situations.
    • The dimensional sometimes slip into our world to sow chaos and gain strength form the ensuing emotional energy created.
  • Characters are exceptional humans with the energy that can not only detect dimensional but also banish them.
  • There is an organization dedicated to studying these dimensional events and finding people with the innate talent to help.
  • The characters will be burdened with finding banishing and correcting the work of dimensional beings looking to seed chaos throughout our world.
  • The innate energy in these characters can only be transferred through touch or via objects held by the character, so the only way to defeat a dimensional into get up close and personal.
  • Guns can hurt them physically, but only energy can banish then. Unless a character can somehow imbibe a bullet with their own energy they will never be abler to defeat a dimensional with modern fire arms…….. (finger nail clippings in a shotgun shell perhaps?)
  • The locations are lost lonely abandon places. Closed hospitals, forgotten subway stations, abandon factories. Places a dimensional can roam without being seen until they find a host.
  • Adventures are urban dungeon crawls on the edge of a dark dimension, finding dimensionals, beating them up. mastering the characters innate energy and gathering up alien artifacts.. saving the world from multidimensional chaos and entropy. (RPG stuff, you know)
So now for the question part.
Does this suck 100% or only 75% ?
What system would you use to run something like this in? (my first impulse is to write one, but I 'm not sure I want to get that deep)
What would you add ? (So I can blatantly  steal ideas from people brighter than I am.)

Thanks for reading
-Mark.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Adventurers between times. (the beginning)

Not for nothing but I haven't run a game since 11/12/16  or so. Being an adult gamer, with work and holidays and all that have meant that our group has just not been available for  around a month. Chances are I'm not going to get another game in for quite a while still. I know what the real life players are doing, I wonder what I should be letting the characters do.

This post is going to touch on things that deserve posts of tier own... Like  talking about  supplementing the hp system with  wounds and recruiting  ship crews. Fact is many  of these subsystems can be found on other blogs. At some point I may revisit this post and flesh out some of the concepts touched on. IN other words this post should be part of a greater series of posts but I'm not sure it will be. At the very least I hope to inspire some ideas for anyone reading, so that they might fill in the blanks in what ever why they see fit.

In our D&D game the characters just solved a literal murder mystery, for cash. The need for cash was brought about by having a 25 person ship's crew to pay every month and a deck  cannon to buy. A couple quick money making side quests were in order, and were arranged. Now that's over and the group has not chosen a path to follow just yet, what are they doing in town?

I would like to have a system for this lost "between" time.

My thought is to give each player 1 action per week of down time, per character.

The amount of down time is to be set each time a game ends with the  logical expectation of the the characters just chilling out for a few days before setting off again. If the expectation is that the next game will pick up chronologically right where the last left off, then none of this is relevant.

Actions:
Recovery: Each action spent recovering will heal a minor wound.  Moderate wounds take  3 actions. Major wounds are up to the DM/GM. In my game I have no issue at all breaking a character's rib (Or whatever) and making them take penalties that last beyond D&D's panacea, "Long rest." Spending time recovering  mitigates that issue.  Recovering characters are doing just that, nothing else.

Shopping: A character looking for a particular item or quality of item my roll vs that items rarity  once per action spent. The Gm can set item rarity as they see fit for the area the characters are in , but generally common items are 5 or better on a d20. and the difficulty scales up from there. Use this only for items that are not  automatically available, for example  any one can find a blanket in most normal towns. If the  player says they want to find a mink lined blanket  while  holding over in a desert town , then the chances are far lower.  Furthermore some towns just won't have some things. A small town might not have an armorer so finding a suit of mail that can be fitted to a character is just impossible. If there is no one to make an item or import an item feel free to disallow the item.


  • Common item roll 5 or better
  • Hard to find  roll 10 or better
  • Rare item roll 14 or better
  • Common magical item for your setting  15 or better
  • Rare magical item 18 or better.
  • DM might allow modification to this roll based on connections in the city, bartering skill? Intimidation perhaps? Thief characters should be allowed to use skill or proficiency bonuses where other classes might not. Thieves should be better at finding rare things in a urban environment.
  • Keep in mind that some things will just not be available in some places.


Recruitment: Each point spent recruiting henchmen and henchwomen will improve the chance of finding hire quality hirelings. Anyone who has ever been in the position where they do hiring will know that the longer a person looks, the  more applications a person pours over, the better the candidates will be. What the term "quality" means will vary depending on how common the required skill type is in an area, what the players are looking for, and what the players need done.
Finding  people to carry stuff is generally pretty easy. Finding a skilled porter who can not only carry a load, but know what to pack for a trip and help manage the other porters is a lot more difficult. For example the players in my game were recruiting sailors. They left the  job to an experienced sailor they had already hired.. smart move. He recruited almost a full crew but time was short so he got a few bad apples. The next stop was at a very large port city. He began recruiting to fill the final spots on the ship's crew. So far the quality of available sailors has been higher. The only thing which had changed was the presence of a larger pool of sailors to draw from. In other words recruitment quality is based on depth of expertise in an area and time spent. Rolling this over to hiring men at arms to go delving into dangerous places with. A large city perhaps one with a standing garrison of troops will yield better results than a farming village.
In my game the very best hireling fighter a player can hope to find is around 5th level. Those folks don't fall off trees, it will take time (Multiple actions) to get the word out. It will take time for a hireling of greater level to drop whatever it is they are doing and seek out the party. If the party just walks into an inn as yells "Who is up for an expedition!" they might find a few strong arms, but those arms will be attached to 0 level brains. Worse yet the lower level a hireling is the  less tested they are in a fight the more likely they would be to loose morale, break, and flee.
I could and should write a whole  post about NPC recruitment. I have written a few posts about the various problems characters can have with hirelings (Found Under henchman rules, here.)
For this post it is suffice to say  players can spend an action in their down time to  go looking for hired hands, the  more time they spend the  better hired hands they will find.

Roll a die based on the amount of action spent recruiting and the rareity of the  skill set or hireling type sought. All results are subject to what ever game you happen to be running.

Actions spent Low rarity semi rare Med rarity rare very rare
1 1d4 0 0 0 0
2 1d6 1d4 0 0 0
3 1d8 1d6 1d4 0 0
4 1d10 1d8 1d6 1d4 0
5 1d12 1d10 1d8 1d6 1d4
Results:
0. This type of hirelings unavailable in this area.
1. low quality almost un-employable many flaws, unreliable, drunkard, liar ect. -1d4 on some attribute or important skill.
2 to 3. Low quality due to a utter lack of experience, cowardice, poor morale -2 on some relevant skill or attribute.
4 to 5. Low quality due to overconfidence, mixed with inexperience. -1 on some  relevant skill or ability.
6 to 7. Average quality hireling following all standard follower rules. Reliability and personality may still be in question.
8 to 9. Average quality  follower with a +1 to some skill or attribute. 
9 to 10. Above average follower with an extra level of experience and a good attitude. Grant a +2 on some ability, attribute or skill. Low level clerics or wizards may only be hired on rolls of 9 or better.
11. A exceptional hire. Skilled, or very experienced. Good morale, and  loyalty to an employer. Either these things are true or you have hired a person with rare skills, such as a competent (d&D level 3) cleric or wizard. + 1d4 to a relevant ability or skill.
12. You have found the perfect fit for what you need. Split a bonus of +5 among skills and abilities relevant to the  parties needs. hirelings up to level 5 may be hired with a recruiting roll this high.

Information:
Characters who have investigation , research, arcana or other academic skills can spend time (actions)researching the  parties surroundings and upcoming missions.
A gm can play this as they see fit. I use it as an opportunity to  provide details and adventure hooks for the surrounding areas. Players who roll well for these research actions gain more detail characters who  roll badly. 
For example if the party wizard says he wants to research the surrounding area, and rolls badly I might say "There have been magicians who operated in the area over the years, though as of late there is no great mystical presence."
where as if she roll  well I might say, "Your research tells you there was once a foundry in the nearby  valley that was used to produce weapons. It is said a mage ran the  foundry and  experimented creating  magical  armaments there. The foundry has been abandoned for  many year but the remains of its foundations can still be seen."
one roll yields some general information, the other yields a possible place to explore.

I would allow different classes to research different types of information:

Cleric Religious history , legends
Druid Nearby locations of natural wonder
Monk Word on the street, concerns of common folk
Paladin Tactical lay of the land
Ranger Rumors and news of the country side local monsters
Thief Trade info, underworld rumors
Warrior Ancient military lore battle locations
Wizard Magical history of the area

As you can see giving players the opportunity to  do things between games has a lot of possibilities.
Beyond what I sketched out here I was thinking, Construction tasks for building strong holds. Trade tasks for off loading all of that crap characters find in dungeons. And Social tasks which are location based for each town the characters land in. In my mind when a  group of level 7 characters roll into town and stay for a week, the local nobles are all going to clamor to be the  first to invite them to dine. Players could spend between game actions fulfilling these social obligations (and hopefully gaining info and connections from them) with out having to role play every diner party.

And so on and so forth.

I am sure other DM's out there have done similar things, and used similar systems to get there. Naturally I would love to  read about  those other systems.

As always thank you for reading.
-Mark.



Saturday, January 14, 2017

Wanted: The active but lesser known RPG Blogs

Here is a question thrown out to the  internet void.

Set up:
I know there are many great RPG blogs out there. A quick Glance at the Dyver's blog "Great blog roll call" from a couple years back will prove that point.
Like many others I have a small blog roll on this blog right over on the left margin. I use other people's blog rolls all the time to find interesting things to read.
One thing I have noticed however is that most of the blog rolls I see look pretty similar to each other.  The same blogs listed over and over. I understand that blogs show up on blog rolls because they are quality, have followings, good reputations, and have earned enough admiration to warrant a blog owners desire to track it's blogs posts. While I enjoy those same blogs, I think I have seen enough  links to Tenkar's Tavern to last me a life time. (Heck, I have one to!)

Here is my question:
Have any of you stumbled on recently started, or very low follower blogs that are kicking out content, but are have not made it into the general community yet?

Those are the blogs I want on my blog roll.
Considering I run a low follower blog myself I want to read and help promote other new or lesser known blogs.

If that's you , or you know of a blog like that let me know.

Thanks for reading.
-Mark

Here have a hairless cat...Feels like a warm peach...


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

State of the Dust Pan 2016 into 2017 edition.

Well here we are 2017.
A constant in RPG blogging that has always amazed is the longevity of other blogs.

This blog had a down year post wise..
My 2017 post count was in the 40's

Down from in the 70's the year before..

Which for the record was down from over 100 the  year before that..

On the  plus side I  broke 100000 page views (As of this writing sitting at 100,158.)
A big thank you to all of the humans who has actually viewed the blog. Which is a debatable thing considering 12k of the views are from the web crawler linked to the Russian equivalent of Google.

The post with the most views from 2016 was "Packing it all away" Which was about how what we play in our formative years can shape what we are comfortable with well beyond that. I was surprised it received as many views as it did.

I think my favorite post of 2016 was "Adventures in the Canopy" A system neutral post about  the myriad of ways characters can die in a jungle. It was may favorite because it was useful and I put a fair amount of effort into it.

MY least popular post of 2016 was, "A quick hitter : Things A Gm can learn from Pro wrestling." This  gem neted all of 60 views.. so I think I will stay away from that subject for a while. I just re read it. It's not a bad post. It's not great either so I guess it deserves this  lowest of the year status.


I feel I put out some good posts this year with less obvious "fluff."  With that said my post count was far lower than it should be  If I expect to have a "successful Blog." (whatever that is.)
When I did this year end round up last year I named the post (Not dead it just smells that way)

Games and where I'm at in the hobby:
In that blog I wrote about  my D&D game being on Hiatus. It has kind of gone back to that same state again. I think it has more to do with everyone being busy this time of year than any other factor. Having the  holidays on weekends this year really mucked things up.
For the record we played about  five times in the past year. The Party continues to  re-energize ley lines and generally cause chaos wherever they roam. Wilhelm the dwarf ended his story and has gone off to find a path in life. The town of Holbek has been left in the rearview for now, as the party has gone from city to city flowing the ley lines.

World Wide Wrestling ended and we never went back to it. It's a fun game finding time to play has been difficult. I received the second book  "International Incident" but have not used the material yet.

Chris is still running stars without numbers just not as often, due to all those scheduling issues listed above. I have missed so many games not I honestly have no idea where we are at. It's unfair to Chris because I know he puts alot into it but that's also just how the cookie crumbled.

We did not kill Krampus this year, which in 2016 seemed fitting.

Current video games:
Unpopular opinion here, I tried Overwatch for a month or two and hated it.
Another unpopular opinion, as a non Star Wars Fan, I really enjoy star wars Battlefront.



Projects:

AAIE:
This game will get some more attention in the coming months, some sprucing up and  another read through. I guess one of the guys is planning on running a table of it at Gen Con.. Thats awesome. Though I otherwise done with it as a project, having it run at Gen con is motivation enough for me to make it better..

I have  no other projects on the table right now, and am not planning on starting any.

This  Blog:
I don't know, completely up in the  air.

Thanks For Reading.
Mark.