Sunday, 19 September 2021

Shiny TTRPG links collection #35

Previous list found here. The original inspiration for all of this - End of Week links. You can find more links on the weekly blogroll on r/OSR.

A review of Gardens of Ynn - after 3 full uses of the module at different tables.

D&D Monster Reaction Charts Compared on Leon Atkinsons blog.

A digest of "Unexpectedly powerful lessons I learned from MasterClass and applied to GMing" by u/retrolleum.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

D.I.O: Alternate Avernus Campaign

tl;dr: sketching out the Blood War centred campaign I wanted Descent into Avernus to be.

Jolted by this Do It Ourselves rallying cry by the Grumpy Wizard I was thinking of something that annoyed me for a bit. Effectively this is the same effect as when you see a trailer and anticipate a certain amazing movie - and then you don't get that (maybe the movie was good or bad, but it wasn't what you envisioned).

I got that same thing with Descent into Avernus. I have been tracking along the Avernus: Remixed series on Alexandrian and I feel entirely justified in my initial 'huh' reaction to DiA. As an old Planescaper I feel the forces of Hell should get more respect. Either they are a creditable threat to the multiverse are they aren't. To me the whole scale of Descent into Avernus felt wrong - that a single city on a single Prime planet could attract notice of the Archduke essentially running the Blood War felt off.

But to follow the Grumpy Wizards direction, enough wailing, time to rub some dirt on it and go get it fixed.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Better Opposition - d4 Effective Organisation Types

tl;dr: some templates for organisations let you know quick strengths and weaknesses for effective groups.

Inspired by the freely-available thinking of a well known real world organisation that identifies the 'key ingredient' practices that make up various recipes for success. We can grab these archetypes for effective organisations and use them for villains or heroes depending on your needs. It gives us some ready-to-go bones that we can throw a skin over as appropriate for the organisation.

The four key archetypes are:
1. Leadership driven
2. Goal focused
3. Masters of their Craft
4. Team of Heroes

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Shiny TTRPG links collection #34

Previous list found here. The original inspiration for all of this - End of Week links. You can find more links on the weekly blogroll on r/OSR.

Lizardman Diaries, one of my favourite random table creators, talks about their methods for creating random tables/generators.

Random encounters, wandering monsters and intentions on Donnut Valley I would definitely agree that part of the point of having a DM at the table is to shape the outputs from a random encounter list into the thing that makes sense in the context as opposed to 'suddenly, aboleth' just because it was on the table.

Collaborative world building for your table: Factions and the follow up how-to workflow on Hopeful Wierd Wonder blog - the workflow is a go-to for how to 'ride the avalanche' of managing player input into your world-building.

Why So Brutal? on talks about the different weight of character death in early D&D and how it mattered less in the style of game they played. A useful perspective.

Blood, Death, Satan & Metal talks about Quick Combat: Redshirts and the Save Versus Death - some nice crunching to get a rapid 'save on a d6' for massed combat. I like it.

A genius idea on Reddit from the DM for the Gutless Unkempt - they call them level up speeches, I used to do something similar in background vignettes - but I love the way they are used here as markers for leveling up.

This is a great post on radical transparency at the table - the list of things delegated from DM to players is gold for 'non-critical tasks' - I would say it goes a level beyond what I would consider but in my sliding of items (narration) back from the delegation pile, I am positively acknowledging that is part of my playstyle. I might set a different threshold for when when to risk breaking world immersion to say you fumbled something but I acknowledge the continuum.

Two interesting posts on this week - first a translation of Comment devenir un Mentat (originally published 2013-05-06) by retired Colonel Michel Goya with a fascinating view on how military expertise is built - great for saying where your battle-winning NPC's are coming from. Second is a piece on the different reactions to (mock) combat setbacks by LARPers and reenactors.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Locations and terrain as puzzles

tl;dr: On places as puzzles and setting your players on problems where you don't know the answer

This talks through how I cobble together and then use locations using an recent session example. I have less 'big set piece combats' and more 'forces loose in a place' model.

The location.

I needed something cool for the end of a hunt. I knew it was a dwarven location, high in the mountains, where a physically large artefact could have gotten lost. I had been thinking it was a shattered dwarven ruin until I got Sly Flourish's Fantastic Adventures in a sale. It had the Dam of the Beselmir Kings in it. This also featured in an article on his blog that I loved about adapting Storm Kings Thunder. I loved the aesthetic of the dwarven heads pouring water out as beards, so I wanted to try and use that.

For the set up I mashed together the sub-locations from "The Dam of the Besilmer Kings" for Storm Kings Thunder with the "Queen of Red Water" in Fantastic Adventures. That gave me a dam, with lots of internal locations and gubbins, under assault by giants. I set out the locations within and around the dam in a point-crawl format so I knew how they related to each other and that was it for prep. The main modification I made was to have three water-spouting heads on the dam instead of four.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Not just simply evil

To frame this all up - here is my 'philosophy of D&D alignment'. The internet being what it is, let me first state that what you read below is my view. You run your table in a way that works for your table. What I am talking to here is what I have come up with from my time running tables, in particular Planescape games, to make things make sense.

I come to this from reading the online discussions that build off the premise of some sentient races being essentially evil. I find myself looking through a window into a variant of the game that I do not recognise at all. The idea that you just plough into other sentients without accounting for why they are doing what they are doing makes no sense to me and never did. I could happily play Heroquest (kick in the door, kill 'em all) but as soon as I had a copy of the old black box, I was trying to figure out the why's of the dungeons. Someone had to be eating something, the water had to come from somewhere. Things had to make sense. Similarly, if there were things living down here, unless they were oozes or the undead or some sort of magical construct, there had to be some sort of sense to their actions.

For as long as I have been running games I thought it was unfair to the players to have the opposition, who ever it was, just be randomly doing things. Without a driving motivation the players could figure out there was no way for them to outsmart the foe. If the goblins are scouting for food, bribe them to your side with rations. Maybe something is so aggressive they will be unflinchingly hostile - the ogre is going to attack immediately if you trespass in his territory - then you can work around that by avoiding the ogres patch. You could also kite the ogre out of position if you *know* it will attack whomever it sees. The idea that sentient monsters are up to what they are up to because they are simply evil just seems a massive wasted opportunity.

Sunday, 5 September 2021