alpharaposa: (DMgrin)
I'm back in the DM saddle, putting together a Pathfinder game on Google+. Monte Cook worked on Pathfinder, updating the D&D 3.5 rules to be more in the spirit of what came before.

So, in putting together a setting for this game, I have no problem with referencing my 2nd Ed sources.

One of the problems with building a world from scratch is figuring out how many NPCs will have class levels. Read more... )
alpharaposa: (jaunx)
Bantam, level 1 halfling druid from the town of Pleachy Hawthorne

Pleachy Hawthorne was founded by a druid named Hawthorne, who wanted to build a village that built upon existing wilderness instead of completely displacing it. Houses are dug into the ground or built out of stone and earth and roofed with sod. Plows are never used - tilling is done by keeping chickens and pigs in the appropriate areas to turn the earth. Compost is a way of life.

Bantam chickens are kept by most families. Some miniature sheep graze around the orchard, providing wool and enough milk for lovingly crafted cheeses. Diminutive pigs provide tilling power and bacon. Fruit trees, nut trees, and berry bushes are encouraged, and the gardens are planted with cover or kept safe with mulch.

The village of halflings has prospered. Now, the younger generation is a bit restless, with some of them ready to go out and try their wings. Bantam, one of two apprentices to Hawthorne, is among those with the urge to travel.
alpharaposa: (otaku)
(For an Exalted game)

There once was a family that took animals up and down the bright road to sell them. The bright road went through a land of death, so they were very careful not to leave it as they traveled.

One day, cruel dreams decided to play a game with this family. They made shadows that lured away the animals from the bright road. The animals were their livelihood, so the family went after them, but it was late and the sun soon left the sky. In the dark, death crept from its land and struck among them, feasting on such rich life.

One small girl was told to run, so she did. She was small enough to slip through the teeth of death as it gorged on the larger prey. She ran all the way to the bright road and was safe, but she was also alone.

Her heart overflowed and she cried.

At one end of the bright road is a white city. The faceless patrons of the city there loved life and hated death, and heard her crying. They sent a friend to bring her into the city where it was safe.

She was given a new family, and taught to care for different animals. She never forgot her first family, but there was so much life around her that she couldn't be scared of the death that ate them. Instead, she grew up lovely and clever, and told stories to little children and tended wounds wherever she found them.

She was a special woman, for she had a star in her heart. When one of the old stars fell to the earth, its blaze kindled the star in her heart. She left the white city and went to live in the sky with the other stars.

The people she had known forgot her, but the stories and kindness lingered on to mark where she had been.
alpharaposa: (Default)
Sunlight shines through a skylight overhead, filtered and refracted by a blue diamond as great around as an aged tree. The crazed patterns are broken by a woman inside the diamond, suspended as if she had just stepped from a height but had not yet begun to truly fall.

She wears a gown made of long, tapered leaves, buttoned with seed cases and hemmed with stems. Twigs and buds embroider the bottom of the long skirt and draping sleeves with random, viney patterns. Her skin is brown, with darker lines like the ridges in bark. Her feet are bare, a golden chain about one ankle with a purple flower as accent. Her hair is white and silky at the roots, standing up into a nest of floating down,like some seed adrift. She has her hands folded in front of her just below her chin, her gaze looking for someone that has been missed for some time. A necklace of white buds, tightly closed, rests loosely on the bare skin at her neck.

It's difficult to tell the color of her eyes. Maybe they're the same blue as the diamond. Maybe they're pale, colorless.
alpharaposa: (Default)
Well, once you've figured out what the monster is for, you can pick out some abilities.

For Horror Monsters, there is a strong tradition of things like blood draining, bites that turn you into another monster, and mind control. To go along with the idea that horror monsters make safe things unsafe, powers given to horror monsters tend to be invasive abilities that violate your borders. Draining your blood leaves few marks and removes the vitality from you. Turning you into a monster robs you of your identity. And mind control is, well, just plain invasive no matter how you slice it.

Notice that these also tend to be powers that are reasonably easy to not notice, too. Vampires get mind control, blood draining, can bring you back as another vampire, and are often inhumanly strong and fast. None of this is obvious just by looking at a standard vampire. This allows them, as a monster, to stay an unknown longer.

For Adventure Monsters, we're usually talking about obvious monsters. Dragons don't hide well, unless they're some kind of shapeshifting or shrinking dragon. Giant boars tend to stand out. In fact, being giant is a popular power for an adventure monster. The bigger and more impressive the monster is, the more impressive is your hero's victory when it's beaten.

Unusual but physically threatening effects are common. Dragons breathe fire. Hydras grow more heads when you cut them off. Medusa has poisonous snakes for hair and turns people to stone. Talos was made of bronze and practically invulnerable.

You can let your imagination run wild in designing abilities, but keep in mind what the monster's for. If you want to scare your readers or players, go for subtle or mental effects. If you want something that would be impressive to the by-standers and give a larger than life feel, then go for something big or flashy. You can mix and match, too. Lots of things in stories and myth have more than one power or weapon. On the other hand, things with just one ability can be very effective in the right setting. Scylla is a terror particularly because she is found with Charybdis.


Mar. 5th, 2010 07:43 am
alpharaposa: An Adventuring Bear (bear)
Ever since the disappointment of the "How to create a monster" panel at Marscon, I've been chewing over my thoughts on the matter in the back of my brain.

The panel was a disappointment because the authors (all published) spent more time talking about various weird things they wrote about. It was interesting, but with the title of the panel, I was expecting to show up and get some pointers on how to create a believable, or at least effective, monster to entertain or challenge my audience. The creation aspect was really not addressed.


So, I'm going to offer some of my thoughts, and I welcome you to offer some of yours. If I can't get a satisfying discussion from professionals, I'm sure I can get a decent set of thoughts from my fellow readers on livejournal.

Read more... )Whew... that's a longer post than I thought! I think I'll stop there for now.


Jul. 23rd, 2009 07:40 am
alpharaposa: (DMgrin)
After my walk yesterday, I spent some time writing up Improbable NPC. This is for a 2nd Ed AD&D game. If I'd been writing it up for 3e, she actually would be a little tame.

We're playing around in my Spelljammer setting. Right now, the crew is on a desert planet, so I'm going to have the joy of having them make Constitution and/or Survival checks soon.

One of the players is relatively new to the group. He's the kind of player who browses through the monster manual when he's bored, and decides to go ahead and roll up random things for his character while I, as DM, am busy elsewhere. I've had to tell him twice that I prefer to be present for those sorts of things. (He's done this for other games, too.) He also seems to have picked up the notion that all AD&D settings have magic shops around where you can just buy potions and useful magic items that people happen to have available.

I've spent so much time DMing, and now one of the stereotypes shows up in one of my games. I'll admit I'm finding it a challenge. Sometimes a very annoying one.

I'll admit to the temptation to keep the group from finding any bags of holding or portable holes or the like, now that this player has repeatedly mentioned buying one. I'll have to think more on that. On the one hand, it would be very useful to them! On the other hand, they're on a world where most of the major magic users don't have hands, and most people are more concerned with survival than amassing wealth*.

*EDIT - "Most people" does not include the dragon population.
alpharaposa: (Rumex)
While sitting at work today, waiting for our network to have its outages resolved, I had a thought struck me. I mentioned it on Twitter so I wouldn't forget it, but couldn't go into specifics there because of the 140 character limit.

It occurred to me that a good name for a Dwarven town in AD&D would be Wort. I even had a good place to put such a town. I have a little crystal sphere sketched out under the 2nd ed Spelljammer rules, and I haven't yet located a significant Dwarven stronghold anywhere there.

In any case, Wort is a town at the edge of some hills on the most typical of the several planets in the system. It's surrounded by grain fields and known for its beer. It makes LOTS of beer.

The reason is simple. Dwarven ships in Spelljammer are literally powered by creativity. Dwarves get an asteroid and go to work, and all that sculpting and mining and smithing creates magical motive force. In order to keep moving, the dwarves must work constantly, until the asteroid is completely worked over and hollowed out and there's literally nothing more that can be done to it. At this point, the dwarves pack up their forges and tools, load them onto a new asteroid, and start all over again.

However, it is very difficult to grow grains on what is essentially a mobile art project. Any plants growing there would be temporary, valued for oxygen production, and likely potted. So, how would a crew of 500 strong (or more) get their beer?

Thus, the town of Wort. Practically unknown to humans or elves of the world where it sits, but valued by every dwarf out sailing the empty skies of Wildspace. At least in this little sphere.
alpharaposa: An Adventuring Bear (bear)
So, 4th edition D&D is out. It's not AD&D anymore.. that went away with 3e. I hear from people who like 4th and people who don't. I haven't seen the rulebook yet, so I don't know. Maybe I'll give it a look the next time I'm in a bookstore. Because of that, I'm not going to talk about 4e, except in a "if they do X, I might pick it up," or "I hope they do Y" manner.

What I'm going to talk about is depth.

Read more... )


May. 16th, 2007 03:41 pm
alpharaposa: (white horse)
Changeling is an interesting setting. It's in the old World of Darkness, a world like our own, but, well, darker, with more gothic and punk features. And lots of supernatural critters around.

Anyway, the Changeling flavor has this premise- that the fae of the old world, in order to survive the encroaching Banality of mundane life, hid themselves in the bodies of regular humans. So, each changeling has a fae soul and a human one, and at some point, the fae soul gets a chance to come out for a while.

Long )
alpharaposa: (white horse)
Thinking over this post by [ profile] haikujaguar.

I was wondering why, since I, too, focus on characters, I haven't been able to get a novel length story finished since high school. (Don't ask to see it. It was written by hand in three notebooks and shown only to a friend who read it as I wrote it. Like most first works, it is embarassing in several ways. But I still have it, and portions are probably not too faded to read.)

And I thought about the way I read, and the way I RP, and even the way I watch TV shows with over arching plots.

And I realized, I use all these to try things out. I either like or dislike a character as if I met them, or I play or write or watch and try on the attitudes and thoughts and see if they fit. Does this philosophy work, or will it need letting out at the seams? What would happen if I tried this situation on? Even if I'm not actually RPing a character like that, I'll go to the mental fitting room for a while to see what it looks like.

All my gaming plots are character driven, because, internally, I guess I'm just offering people a chance to try things on, too. Here- this is the situation. Here is the great wardrobe, filled with roles to put on. Which one are you going to choose?
alpharaposa: (Default)
[ profile] anher and I have been pretty active in gaming circles, recently. One of the folks started up a werewolf LARP on the free weekend, and we'd been trying it out. There had been a lot of friction. Sometimes it was a case where what we were used to and our assumptions of what 'everybody does' were different from his. Sometimes it was adjusting from one set of rules to the next (last time we played in a werewolf LARP, we used 2nd edition rules, and they're on 3rd).

And sometimes, it was just a problem between us and him.

Well, it got to a point where [ profile] anher was having to reclarify something with the guy once or twice a week for a game that only runs once a month.

In the end, we left the game. The ST finally did something to cross the line beyond which I have no further tolerance, and [ profile] anher was only staying in because I didn't want to give up my character.

There's a lot less stress in our lives, now. There was some ugliness- we all game together on Tuesday (tabletop), so we'll see how much it'll carry over into other things. I hope it doesn't. I don't mind playing with the guy, and I'd hate to see other stuff get derailed because of hard feelings.

We'll see.


Jan. 1st, 2007 02:13 pm
alpharaposa: (scrooge)
I'm writing up a character background for a Werewolf game (original World of Darkness setting). Since I couldn't come up with a name off the top of my head for one of the figures in my character's past, I put in Insert-Name-Here.

I wonder what kind of werewolf would actually have that as a deed name. [ profile] anher suggested a Glasswalker.


Dec. 11th, 2006 04:59 pm
alpharaposa: (otaku)
Sky One is doing a movie of Hogfather (the Discworld book) for the holidays.

And, less specific but, I think, even cooler-

Starships and stations from all sorts of sci-fi stuff, all mapped out to scale next to each other. Seeing Unicron next to, say, Phobos (one of Mars' two moons) gives a real sense of the perspective the movies and stuff try to achieve.

The Death Star is freakin' huge!
alpharaposa: (otaku)
I've been working on the webpage for the Changeling game [ profile] anher and I are running. One of the features of the game is a boatload of pirates whose mortal disguise is that of a living history attraction. In the game, this boat and its crew has a website. So, I've been working on a dummy version of the website. And, I needed a logo. A flag. Something!

So I drew it in paint and used Irfanview to convert. See below.

The Friendly Kraken
The Friendly Kraken

The logo of a pirate ship for a Changeling game. The flag itself is the kraken without the words.

Aw, man!

Oct. 12th, 2006 07:03 pm
alpharaposa: (Default)
Guardians of Order (GoO) is going out of business.

BESM, 3rd ed, will be published by somebody else.

Heck, I didn't even know there was going to be a 3rd edition, but I suppose it's inevitable. It just sucks that GoO won't be around anymore.
alpharaposa: (scrooge)
And I'm designing the website. Slowly, painfully.

I'm asking for opinions. Go look at it, then tell me what you think. Tell me what it needs, what I need to get rid of, or just what needs to be moved or changed.
alpharaposa: (DMgrin)
For a Changeling plot:

I need a bunch of traditional children's stories associated with Halloween, preferably ones with interesting or memorable characters. These need to be stories you'd find in a large collection of short stories and/or fairy tales.

Brian and I will be doing some of our own research, of course, but I thought I'd see what my friends list can come up with. I'd love to find out a bunch of unusual stories that I can use to flummox players.


alpharaposa: (Default)

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