Project: 12 Days in Greyghast (Sneak Peak at the Plots)

As I discussed in my previous post (click here for that), my two current projects are a little different.  I’ve had my collection of magic items (and I get tickled pink to this day seeing people out there at ENWorld and and GITPG and reddit and etc., etc. etc.) link to them and discuss using them in their games; I’ve had my starting collection of traps to spice-up and weird up your own campaigns (and traps are hard, buddy, let me tell ya’); and I’ve been enjoying the Building a Campaign series by our co-writer, Ben, and the visitations on the real meat of class origin and play-theory by our co-writer, Mike

…but my world for the last month or so has been building awesome table-top gaming rigs with projectors and fleshing out the first module I have (and my play testers have) ever, ever, ever tried to make.

Because the fanbase for our little blog has been wonderful, and the interest has been flattering, I’ve decided to share some of the plots in our module project.  In the coming weeks, we’ll be posting up the maps, org charts, tables (random encounter tables for crimes, for npc’s, etc.), and the more detailed version of the Plot Matrix–but, for now, you can get a sense of the pace of the module by reading through these summaries (and hey, maybe you decide to use some as seeds for your own game plots).

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Building a Campaign from the Ground Up Part 9

Let’s hop to it; shall we?

This week we’re going to look at designing a Timed Encounter for our players. Now, this rendition of it will be left a little open. We’re going to base it around the idea that the party is going to scale the wall with crafted ladders. However, the DM could have to tweak this if their players decided on an alternative means of escaping.

So I figure we should have set points to keep pressure on the characters. First would be to see if the characters react quick enough. There have been times my players just stand around and don’t know what to do or they spend forever on deciding what they should do. Players should think through things, there’s no issue with that, but if you allow them to have all the time in the world then it takes away from the gravity of the situation and in the end breaks the self-immersion. Our players are trying to escape! They don’t have a half hour to decide what to do.

Event 1: The players have 1 minute to decide what they’re going to do. Whether it’s rush up the ladders as fast as they can or turn to face down the countless amounts of guards, they have to choose quickly or they’re in trouble. If they don’t start doing anything before the minute is up, they find themselves surrounded by guards. The ladders are knocked down and things don’t look very good.  If they do decide what they want to do, the DM can have them roll initiative and move on. Otherwise they’ll skip through this entire section. Which is fine. The players failed to react, there are consequences for that.

After the initial moments, the characters will proceed with the escape through each round as they would any encounter. From here, all events will occur after a set number of rounds. This will give them time to achieve their goal with more consequences of being slow. Of course, we’re going to make it extremely hard for them to succeed. The plan is to get them in the arena and jump shards there. If they successfully escape-which they very well might-the DM will have to improvise; but we can make a suggestion on that later as well.

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Project: 12 Days in Greyghast (Intro)

For the last month, I’ve been using my current Eberron game (with my most excellent Eberron players) to flesh out the sandbox for my first written and published module.  Now, I’ve been running D&D for around 12 years properly, and other stuff before that.  I’ve largely disdained module-based gameplay in favor of more open-world feels–but, with the advent of 5th edition and the creative spark from this blog (and our fans and feedback), I’ve taken the plunge to marry the two loves… modules and open space to run a game.

Where that leaves me is our current project: a compendium and set of tracking tools for a party of 1st level adventurers to take on the role of guards in a conventional D&D world.  It isn’t the first time a module has been designed with that in mind either implicitly or explicitly (I can think of a few), but where ours takes a detour is that the entire module is 12 days (in game) of play in one small city.  The entire city moves on it’s own time-table and clock (the DM will be the one with the master tracker that will show what is happening in any given part of the city at any given point in that 12 day stretch).

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Building a Campaign from the Ground Up Part 8

Good Wednesday, Readers,

Last week we went over the general scheme of things for the big prison escape. We left a lot open to flexibility and improvisation. This was done on purpose to help our DM understand that the characters need to help craft the story. The DM might ignore the advice but there’s only so much we can do.

I’m sorry I haven’t updated the google docs yet. I’m hoping I’ll get a chance this week. It’s at the point where it’s so far behind it’s become intimidating. I promise that by the end of this it will be in a usable form.  However, if any reader has a knack for throwing together these kind of things in a professional manner and would love to work on it, please let me know :D. I could always use the extra hand.

So, what’s next?  With our open escape plan, we took a lot of work off of our chests and threw it in on the DM. Sucks to be them I guess. But in all seriousness, we have some tidbits to add in the final product for that section—examples and some helpful tips for the DM. We’ll attack that much later. Right now we’re going to press forward with completing the chapter.

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Building a Campaign from the Ground Up Part 7

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

DMs, GMs, and other interested parties, welcome back.

Last week was a short post, but we talked about the big escape from slavery. The overall plan was basic enough: climb over the wall in the wee hours of the night. We left out a lot of details and I received your much appreciated input to help give some sense of structure. We’ll pick up with Minni Torre asking the adventurer’s for their help.

The morning comes after the long restful night. Your body aches in every nook and cranny. You may as well have not slept at all. Guards come by and let each cell of prisoners out to a wide open area. There are a few tables with other slaves eatinggoop.  Many guards patrol the sand floor space and there are stone walls the height of three men. Across from the path to the slave quarters is a hole in the wall where people seem to be getting the ’food’. Off to your right is a training area where some slaves practice for their inevitable deaths in the arena and to the left a well-guarded gate. There is also an unknown hut in the far left corner.

From here, we’ll let the characters mosey around a bit. They can talk to other slaves, check out the hut, get food, whatever. The point is for the DM to gather what peaks their interest and make note of it. This can then be used by the DM to help craft the rest of the escape and such.

If your paladin is super curious about the hut, then we’ll use that to feed their story. If the fighter wants to spar with other slaves, let him; this is key. Why? It lets the players do what they want and allows their actions to choose the important aspects of the story. EVERYTHING the players do that isn’t “part of the plan” should be noted by the DM. If a player decides to skin off the face of a kobold and wear it as a mask (yes this happened in my last game session) then the DM has to make use of that detail.

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Our Second Test of a Low-Cost, Home-Built Projected Table-Top

For those paying attention, we’ve been working on physical resources–not just digital ones–this month.  If you haven’t looked at our first projector build you can click here.  Since then, we decided to take the basic concept and put a little more engineering into it.

But, first principles… we still wanted to keep the build itself in line with our overarching philosophy:

  1. It has to be economical.  Nothing too expensive.  Like, of course a real “projector mount” would be great, but the cost is a little outside where we wanted to be.  A good ceiling mount would be a hundred bucks, and that doesn’t take into account other things like still needing to mount the mirror.
  2. It has to be very configurable.  We wanted to approach this from the standpoint of a normal gaming group.  What if the ceiling is 9 feet instead of 8?  What if the table is an inch or two taller or shorter?  What if I need to be able to put it up and take it down with ease?  Our builds are trying to stay within the bounds of “adjustable and removable”.
  3. It has to work now and in the future.  In the end, it has to meet the needs of my current projector and (ideally) a new one if I get a new one.  It has to put the image down edge to edge.  It has to freaking work.

So, our second build here–what we did differently:

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On Fighters & Fighting: Addendum

Another one? ABSOLUTELY!

…though a short one. My previous post in the On Fighters & Fighting series grew a bit too large to accommodate some of the ideas I had, and a number of people requested an Unarmed Fighting Style Generator as a companion to the one focused on fighters.

Here, then, are my final thoughts… for the moment.

Abstracting Hit Points In Melee Combat

Everyone understands, on some level, that Hit Points are meant to be an abstraction. Why? Because going up in levels does not give a character gallons more blood, extra internal organs, or bullet-proof eyes. While it is surely in-genre for many games to treat warriors who have reached a heroic status to actually be unrealistically tough in the fibre and recover from wounds that would maim others for life, that can only carry the idea of HP so far.

So what if we took a page from real life combat for some inspiration?

Here are some brief suggestions:

  • Winded – When two people are facing off in combat, one of the things on everyone’s mind is how long they can last in the fight before their performance starts to wane due to fatigue. The stronger and more enduring opponent certainly has an advantage, but the master of a fighting style can often wear down even a more powerful if inexperienced foe through the use of proper breathing techniques and far more efficient use of their energy.
    This can be reflected by describing someone who is steadily losing HP as wavering, looking desperate, and otherwise showing signs that they will not be able to stay in the fight if this goes on.
  • Collateral Damage – An exchange of blows or clash of swords is not usually a one-touch situation, where the injured side walks away with a single new wound that adds to the pile but doesn’t otherwise impact their ability to fight. Attempting to block a powerful punch might wrench a shoulder, and a battle of strength as two hardened warriors lock their blades together can lead to sliced or broken fingers, which adds up in ways that even adrenaline can’t cover.
    Reflecting this sort of HP loss is as simple as describing minor but important damage that someone can only attempt to ignore for so long before it will catch up to them.
  • Head Games – Intimidation and smack-talk has its place, but finding yourself on the wrong side of an axe and bleeding has a tendency to leave a much deeper impression. Part of fighting is having the will to press on and the confidence to seize advantages as they arise, and even if someone is very much still a threat to their opponent they might become less of one if they’re distracted by their own mortality or pride. Relating the loss of Hit Points to mental state is not common, but if HP represents the ability to stay in the fight and not get down to that last deadly wound, then increasingly leaving themselves open for such an attack – only to recover at the last moment to take a less serious wound – is entirely appropriate.
    This can be reflected by describing a character’s behavior when they lose HP as increasingly wild-eyed, uncertain, or desperate.

Random Unarmed Fighting Style Generator

Unlike the previous post I will not attempt to recreate the tables involved here on the blog, but instead will link to the random generator itself, along with the Google Document that holds the tables I used to make the generator work.

I found myself making some interesting, or odd, choices in trying to put this together and I hope you enjoy them. If not, or if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment!

Unarmed Fighting Style Generator

UFS Random Generator Tables