Category Archives: Flavor

Ship Names

During the AD&D games I ran at the last Marmalade Dog I needed a good ship name, and didn’t have a good one, so I asked the players, and got a great one, the Storm Witch.

I then decided that I could make a table to come up with other usable names.

The most basic such table is a list of adjectives and a list of nouns and roll a die for each column.

Of course, with adjectives you have colors and other descriptors. Powerful action oriented descriptors are cool, like the Flying Dutchman, or the Red Witch (Wake of the Red Witch).  Ships have the idea of motion and speed. A name that foreshadows a very fast ship is only fitting if the ship is fast. A slow merchant would tend to have a name evoking reliability or stability, or perhaps a humorous name. A pirate ship would most likely be renamed to something more suiting. a naval ship would have something indicating power, like Dreadnought, Dauntless, Intrepid, etc.

Certain colors tend to give an image of ferocity, danger, dread, etc.

Use the name to draw forth a description for the figurehead. For example, when the player suggested the Storm Witch, I immediately had an image in my head and could describe the figurehead to the others. A woman with hair blown about by the winds of storms.

Some ships might have a single name, like the Dragon, and others could have longer names. Come up with naming conventions by different nations or races. Elves might name their ships after stars or trees. Different human nations might emphasize something different with their ship names.

Below are some tables to mix and match and give ideas for naming ships. This could apply to naming water borne ships or spaceships.

Adjective/Noun (d10)

  1. Flying
  2. Soaring
  3. Sea
  4. Dusty
  5. Red
  6. Fast/Quick
  7. Sun
  8. Flaming
  9. Smoldering
  10. Smoking

Noun (d8)

  1. Witch
  2. Waif
  3. Spirit
  4. Sprite
  5. Dragon
  6. Kraken
  7. Merchant
  8. Maid

Sea Related Words

  1. Sea/Ocean/Waters
  2. Mist
  3. Wave
  4. Surf/Surfer
  5. Surge
  6. Storm/Tempest/Thunder
  7. Foam
  8. Deep/Depths/Abyss
  9. Whirlpool/Vortex/Eddy
  10. Maelstrom
  11. Aurora
  12. Wind/Squall
  13. Calm/Becalmed/Stagnant
  14. Shore
  15. Isle/Island
  16. Murky
  17. Shallows
  18. Reef
  19. Shoal
  20. Fathom

Ship Related Words

  1. Sail
  2. Oar
  3. Deck
  4. Plank
  5. Keel
  6. Mast

Crew Related Words

  1. Hand/Sailor/Crew
  2. Mate
  3. Captain
  4. Owner
  5. Carpenter
  6. Rigger
  7. Master
  8. Chief

Navigation

  1. Star
  2. Sun
  3. Moon
  4. Compass/Sunstone
  5. Sextant
  6. Astrolabe
  7. Eclipse
  8. Twilight
  9. Dawn
  10. Dusk
  11. Midnight
  12. Morning
  13. Evening

Type of Ship

  1. Merchant
  2. Galley/Bireme/Trireme/Longship
  3. War
  4. Pirate/Buccaneer/Privateer
  5. Escort
  6. Whaler
  7. Trawler
  8. Cruiser
  9. Caravel
  10. Corvette
  11. Ironclad
  12. Galleon

Sea Creatures

  1. Squid
  2. Octopus
  3. Turtle
  4. Whale
  5. Kraken
  6. Barracuda
  7. Shark
  8. Eel
  9. Ray/Manta/Mantaray
  10. Crab/Lobster/Crustacean
  11. Clam/Oyster
  12. Snake
  13. Crocodile
  14. Manatee
  15. Dolphin/Porpoise
  16. Trout/Bass

Other Creatures

  1. Harpy
  2. Hag/Nag
  3. Witch
  4. Dragon
  5. Wolf
  6. Chameleon
  7. Lizard
  8. Bird/Sparrow/Eagle/Hawk/Buzzard/Gull/Albatross
  9. Mermaid
  10. Nymph
  11. Horse/Mule/Pony/Stallion
  12. Cow/Bull/Bison/Buffalo
  13. Sheep/Ewe/Ram
  14. Deer/Buck/Hind/Roe
  15. Camel
  16. Hippopotamus/Behemoth

Weapons

  1. Spear/Javelin
  2. Sword
  3. Lance
  4. Dagger
  5. Trident
  6. Net
  7. Shield/Buckler
  8. Bow/Arrow/Archer/Bolt

Things

  1. Skull
  2. Rock
  3. Bone(s)
  4. Timber(s)
  5. Sand
  6. Fire/Flame
  7. Jewel(s)/Jeweled/Bejeweled
  8. Silver
  9. Gold
  10. Copper
  11. Quartz
  12. Opal

Colors

  1. Blue/Azure
  2. Green/Verdant
  3. Red
  4. Yellow
  5. Violet/Purple
  6. White
  7. Black
  8. Grey
  9. Brown
  10. Orange

Patterns

  1. Plaid
  2. Striped
  3. Barred
  4. Dotted
  5. Variegated
  6. Changing
  7. Pale
  8. Dark
  9. Scattered
  10. Hidden
  11. Mystery
  12. Geometric

Descriptor/Modifier

  1. Flying
  2. Soaring
  3. Sailing
  4. Fast
  5. Unvanquished/Undefeated/Victorious
  6. Indefatigable/Untiring/Persistent/Patient
  7. Fearless/Dreadnought/Dauntless
  8. Mighty
  9. Powerful
  10. Reliant

List of Pirate Ship Names

List of Royal Navy Ships – With links to ships that start with each letter of the alphabet.

Gary Con Panel – Goodman Games – How To Write Adventure Modules The Don’t Suck

I have played a few DCC funnels at conventions and a few modules at the gaming table. I’ve even been a player in a play test of a module. I can’t mention that, but if my name shows up in the acknowledgements, you’ll know which one(s).

DCC seems to have a lot of interest in their modules, so I wanted to hear what their designers had to say. If I never have a published module, at least I can use the information to help design my own sessions, and games at conventions.

The panelists were Joseph Goodman, Michael Curtis, Jobe Bitman, Brendan LaSalle, and Bob Bledsaw, Jr. There were 20-25 in attendance, among whom were 3 women. When it came time to ask questions, only one of the women asked a question. That’s a significant ratio. What I wonder, is were the other two just there with their male S.O.’s, or were they really gamers with an interest in such things. Just my musings, no data to back up any of it.

What follows are just the transcription of my hastily scribbled and sometimes illegible notes. There are a lot of good points here for planning adventures in your own games, in addition to developing modules for publication.

Joseph Goodman started off by telling us that they have done this seminar multiple times before, and this time wanted to start off with each person telling what things inspire them.

1.) Things that inspire us to get a good output.

Michael Curtis

  • All writers are readers
    • Always have a notebook when reading – make note of certain words that evoke ideas, feelings, etc.
    • Follow up on ideas an author does not pursue.

Jobe Bitman

  • Movies, especiall humor.
  • Camping & hiking
  • New museum
  • New locations and feeling what the experience is like and relate to a fantasy world setting.
    • For ex. hiking is hard work, and there’s no way characters pack all the stuff they say that they do.

Brendan LaSalle

  • Big reader
  • Movies
  • Good TV
  • Poetry
  • Music – Heavy Metal Power Cords
  • Steals a lot of bad guy lines from comic books.

Bob Bledsaw, Jr. (Insight on how his dad prepared for campaigns & modules, from all the materials he left.)

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Heilein, A. C. Clarke, poetry
  • Actually running campaigns
    • Notebooks filled with names of inns, NPC’s with brief designations, random monsters, and names & backgrounds for magical items.
    • Village book, fantastic weapons, Temple book, etc.
    • His father didn’t like to lead players.
    • Look at an inn as each class. How does a mage see this inn, a cleric, a thief?
    • What about a monster or obstacle is a problem for a cleric?
    • Leave world open

Joe Goodman

  • Goes to places with unique features
    • Elephant seal hatchery – they are 2,000 pounds and the size of a VW.
  • Monarch butterfly breeding ground – view through fantasy lens
  • Hurst castle
  • Wild zebras on beach near California coastal highway.
  • Alcatraz was a military island citadel before it was a prison.
  • Art and comic books

I think it was Brendan LaSalle who said these two things.

  1. Read Strunk & Whites Manual of Style once per year.
  2. Read what you have written out loud, or have someone read it to you with the Last Draft. If it doesn’t read well, it won’t play well.

A common theme was to playtest a module multiple times to get the flow and pacing right. You have to know how it will play out before you publish it. Someone said if it is a TPK every time, then it’s too hard. If about half the party survives, then it’s about right.

2.) One thing they love and one thing they hate.

Brendan

Love: Brilliant little detail, for ex. Legacy of Savage Kings has a dragon in a cavern with the coins of his treasure lovingly stacked along the wall.

Hate: No matter what happens, you can’t change what happens. He gave examples of NPC’s you can’t kill, or some other thing that no matter what they do it won’t change. It is better to think of what will happen if they kill this NPC, etc. Trust your DM (who will run the module). ALWAYS put the players center stage as the main characters of the story.

Michael

Love: Enjoys ambiguity to cause reader and player to imagine options, avoids set in stone. Leave it up to recipient to fill in the blanks.

Hate: Story should emerge and not be stuck in a narrative since it is a participatory game.

Bob

Be a storyteller, not a story dictator.

Jobe

Hate: Really long details with buried information the DM or player’s need. Make it easy to find.

Joseph

Players are the audience, but the GM is the customer. Word count for GM/Judge is wasted, 1-2 pages at most. Pages should be for the benefit of the players.

3.) How bring ideas together?

Bob – List of Hobbits, only with warrior sounding names. His father’s notes were rich in lore from the books he read.

Michael – Pick three things and create a riff on it. Then come up with a brief synopsis, elevator pitch.

Brendan – Do like Shakespeare – Steal/steal/steal. What if it is a murder mystery?
Take random ideas and throw them at specific thing for the background to see where it goes and what happens.
He is a firm believer in a crappy first draft, just get it done, then refine it.

Michael – If nothing else, do something that you enjoy and are passionate about. Find a way to make it an adventure.

Bob – Don’t let your own misgivings stop you from paying or publishing.

Joseph – Get practice, especially with random stuff.

Bob – Some people have favorite modules that are not what is the most popular. Someone will like it, even if not everyone.

4.) How break out of the linear mindset?

Michael – Don’t make decisions for the players, just set the scene.

Bob – If there is an intriguing hook, it will draw them in.

Mike – For publication there is a set word count. How might players overcome this obstacle. Come up with 3 or 4 things.

Brendan – Billy goat Gruff, but 25th level character. Create a setting and villains. You can’t cover all your bases. Trust your GM.

Joseph – Mental checklist of

  • Player choices
  • There is a chance for every player to shine.
  • Visual Descriptions – Use hulking humanoid instead of just saying orc.
  • No ziggurats – New and exciting ideas.
  • Good title
  • Good summary  – Focused enough to do a 2 or 3 sentence description – elevator pith.

5.) Bad guy development

Leave as many decisions as possible up to the players.

Base on someone you don’t like.

Don’t lock the front door to the dungeon.

Don’t leave necessary information in an inaccessible place.

No lock without a key. This can be a secret door, or another way around the obstacle. Always a way around it.

Brendan – Once you decide what he is, Imagine as your character or you personally. Such as a dragon or necromancer.
What will you do to stop adventurers?
What will you fail at?

Q&A

How get into the situation?/Start the setting for the adventure? (This was my question. I have trouble getting a good starting point for adventures.)

Brendan – In media res [In the middle of the action/story.] especially for a module, one-shot, or convention game.

Joseph – Robert E. Howard – In media res.

Brendan – Let the players screw themselves. Maybe they are all clerics, so they need hirelings to fill in the gaps. Always have a situation that requires dealing with magic.

Jobe – 1.) Be comfortable with system you are using, and just knowing the system might give you an idea.

2.) Avoid crating bottlenecks, have some secondary way to achieve the goal. A “key” to every lock doesn’t have to be literal.

Joseph – Easter Egg – Some benefit to players that test everything and one room *. Game changers – Players wreck the story line, handle it at the table.

Word count/size?

Brendan – Have a set number of encounters for four hours. For a convention setting, 6 to 8 encounters for four hours. Most modules can be played in four hours.

Jobe – Word count – Write as expressively as possible in the lowest word count.

Joseph – c. 10,000 words is about 16 pages in the format of Goodman Games’ modules.

How develop balance in a module? How do you know you have it right?

Brendan – Playtest/Playtest/Playtest as much as you can before publishing. Run at conventions, local game store with people you don’t know. A minimum of 3 times to playtest, once with friends, twice at conventions, no upper limit really.

Michael – Six months after it is released, you will know if the balance is right.

Jobe – If more than have killed, then still needs work. If less than half killed, then it’s probably pretty good.

Bob – Be prepared for anything. There should be enough source material to plan for unexpected things players do. Always leave a way out of a tough situation, but don’t make it easy.

Translated Wrong

Today, over at OSR Today, for Table Tuesday, they had a table about being translated into another existence.

When I read the title, I was expecting something about language translation.

It got me to thinking, so I came up with the following:

How close did the language “expert” get their facts? Was it a rush job? Are they not as skilled as they claim? Is the translator under the thumb of someone opposed to the party? Any reason you can think of for something to be wrong.

  1. Direction wrong. Varies from exact opposite direction, to slightly off, such as North-North-West instead of North West.
  2. Structure/Location wrong. Instead of a castle it is a hovel, instead of a dungeon it is a cave.
  3. Size wrong. Instead of a huge ancient red dragon, it is a young adult dragon. Instead of a hill, it’s a mountain, or a mountain range.
  4. Color wrong. The evil wizard wears blue robes instead of black robes.
  5. Name wrong. The name of a person, place, or thing is off just a little. Jan instead of Jane, vial instead of vile or viol (I played with a guy in high school who rarely grasped the difference.), H2S04 instead of H20, etc.
  6. Wrong race. Hobgoblins instead of goblins, ogres instead of pixies, make it good. Wyverns instead of dragons, etc.
  7. Wrong alignment. The person who has the information they need is of a different alignment. Perhaps it is the big bad himself, as yet undiscovered by the players, and only the big bad knows how he can be stopped.
  8. Wrong generation. They need Junior, and not the decrepit Senior. Or they need the skilled senior, and not the ineffective Junior.
  9. Wrong map. The translation might be spot on, but the translator either goofs and give you the wrong map, or is of ill intent and gives them a map to a very bad place.
  10. Scope wrong. Numbers are involved and they are a few orders of magnitude in the wrong direction. The fabulously huge treasure of gold and jewels, is a big sack of copper coins and some cheap garnets. Or the small patrol is actually an army.
  11. Language wrong. The translator is confused by a similar script of a branch language, but various vowel and verb form changes have any translation with the translator’s knowledge being wrong about everything.
  12. The next map the player’s find already has a translation on it that they can read, but it is wrong in one or more of the above points.

I think this is an interesting idea, and I’ll see about adding to it in the future.

Near Misses – Thieves

I had an idea for thieves picking pockets from an experience prior to my last game at UCON. The idea coalesced as I was in that dreamy, glad to be sleeping state before I woke up this morning. (I’m off all week; so I got to sleep in today to recover from both low quantity and quality of sleep the last few days.)

As I have mentioned in at least one other article, my Dad was a locksmith and I was drafted to help from the time I was about 13 until I went off to college. Dad gave me my own basic set of lock picks. I thought it would be fun to plop them down at a game, if I ended up running a thief.

I was getting stuff out of my bag, dice, paper, pen, pencil and other things so I wouldn’t have to keep rummaging in my bag during the game and slow things down. I was wearing many layers, including a jacket sort of like a hoody with out the hood. It has packets inside next to each outer pocket.

I put my picks in my pocket, or so I thought. I felt both sides of my hand feel fabric, so I thought it was in my pocket. I had just placed something else in that pocket and realized that I was about to drop it between my jacket and shirt instead of my pocket, so I corrected. I then checked and my picks weren’t there, so just as I was getting ready to bend down to get them, +Laura Rose Williams says, “Here, Larry, you dropped this,” as she hands it to me.

This morning in my dreamlike pre-wake state, this idea hit me, and I can just see a thief picking someone’s pockets and rolling 1 or 2 under what they need. So from now on, I will rule that a thief doing this, gets what they were after, or at least something, and they “pocket” it. Some kind soul will see them drop it and come up and give it to them in full view of all around. The “FUN!” will then ensue.

I did not play a thief as planned, +Laura Rose Williams wanted me to play a wizard along with her, which I did. So I got out my picks after the game to share what I was prepared to use as a prop.

General Tables

Why do we get the ideas that we do? The other day, it came to me. I wondered, why don’t we have a collection of generic tables for the most common attributes of persons, places, and things? With the addition of adjectives and verbs, one can use simple tables to build up hints for ideas that are easy to flesh out.

For example:

COLOR (add sub-tables for variations on Red, Blue, and Yellow.)

  • White
  • Black
  • Brown
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Yellow

RAINBOW

  • RED
  • ORANGE
  • YELLOW
  • GREEN
  • BLUE
  • INDIGO
  • VIOLET

SIZE

  • Sub-atomic
  • Atomic
  • Microscopic
  • Miniscule
  • Tiny
  • Small
  • Little
  • Medium/Mid-Sized
  • Big
  • Large
  • Giant
  • Huge
  • Brobdignagian
  • Planatary
  • Galaxy-Wide
  • Universal
  • Infinite

DISTANCE

  • Close
  • Near
  • Here
  • Far
  • Distant

MEASUREMENT

  • Imperial
  • Metic
  • Other
  • Miles
  • Inches
  • Light-years
  • Parsecs

SHAPE

  • Specific
    • Square
    • Circle
    • Triangle
    • Rectangle
    • Rhomboid
    • Pentagon
    • Star
  • General
    • Roundish
    • Ill-defined
    • Non-specific
    • Lump
    • Pile
    • Heap

For a very general noun generator, pick a letter of the alphabet and a noun that starts with that letter. Perhaps categories of nouns, like the biggies, person, place, and thing.

Pick a letter and come up with something that describes a person, place, and thing, adding in a verb (action) and perhaps a description (adjective). For example, ‘S’. Sailor, Sea, Ship. This makes it easy to come up with a simple idea: A sailor sailed his ship upon the sea. So the action is sailing. Easily one can thing of pirates, maritime trade, whaling, naval battles of any era, or even space battles.

I think the key is not to limit oneself. You can just as easily use a different letter for each thing. Just go with what works. If you happen to get a rush of ideas, don’t wait, jot them down, and you can have a large collection of ideas ready to flesh out for play.

For a plot, pick a book in your personal library that has a word that starts with that letter, in this case, ‘S’ in the title. I looked quickly and only see one book on my shelves that has an ‘S’ word in the title, and it is actually a periodical, “Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine”, April, 1980. It’s the only one I have. I liked some of the stories in that one, so I kept it. Perhaps I should read them again to get some ideas.

Another book jumped out because I mentioned he possibility of pirates, “Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates.” This is nonfiction, but that doesn’t matter. Truth is stranger than fiction. There are some pirates that are little known today that inspired old movies and before that adventure stories. As I recall, there are some good ideas here. I haven’t read it in a decade.

Instead of reading either of these in their entirety, get the page count. For example, “Under the Black Flag”  has 244 pages before the Appendix with various tables and charts. To keep it simple, just do a d200 roll. That’s a d100 with a control die. Any die will do that has an even number of sides. For example, a d6. 1-3 is low, so add 0, and 4-6 is high, add 100.

A roll of 127 for page 127 gives us: The third page of chapter 7, Torture, Violence, and Marooning. Page 127 picks up mid-story about a leader of a mutiny that was captured, tortured, tried, and executed and his body hung in chains until the bones were picked clean.

I’m not a lawyer, so an adventure involving courtroom drama does not sound exciting to me. However, hiring the PC’s to go capture a mutinous crew and bring them and their ship back for justice sounds interesting.

Every story needs a complication, so an obvious one is a rival band going after the mutineers. Further complicated that the mutineers were justified in their mutiny and are actually freedom fighters out to overthrow the evil overlord.

If you want an original idea, try something like this. With an outline for a story like that, you can easily flesh out the band of mutineers, the other adventurers, perhaps loyal flunkies of the evil overlord who are also out to get the party. Throw in some random encounters, maybe roll on the ocean random encounter table to get a unique crew member, like a sahuagin sailor, or some large sea creature who pulls a ship.

Place the action in your world, and figure our how different ocean going peoples, nations, and real pirates figure into the mix.

Use the general/generic tables for colors, shapes, sizes, descriptions, etc. the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide has great tables for ambiance of dungeons and other ideas. Many other OSR rules have similar tables, like OSRIC, ACKS, Swords & Wizardry, plus many sites online.

Another option might be to pick an RPG blog at random from your blogroll, then go to that blog and look at its blogroll and pick one table at random from each of those blogs that has a collection of tables. Take the results of all these tables and see what you get.

I’m sure I have heard the inspiration for using a random page in a book in other places, but most recently, it was from +Adam Muszkiewicz at Dispatches from Kickassistan, with this article. Actually, he mentioned that during the sessions of DCC he ran at Marmalade Dog 20, back in January. He just recently wrote it up.

I like input and suggestions. Are there other general/generic tables that can be added to the mix? Other creative ways to take random elements to get an idea for an adventure? The main idea is not to require too much time to get a solid idea that you can have ready to play with minimal prep time.

Types Of Jewelry Table

A year or so ago, I did some research into types of jewelry, so I could have something besides simply rings, necklaces, and bracelets.

I had been meaning to make a table out of it, and finally did it the other day while working on organizing my various campaign notes into a coherent form.

This information is taken from multiple Wikipedia articles. I had no idea there were so many formal classifications of necklaces. Other than a watch, wedding ring, or occasional friendship bracelet at camp, I have not worn jewelry. Not being my thing, I knew there were a lot more options that seem to come to mind.

If anyone has a type of jewelry that I missed, please let me know.

The whole issue of whether or not any of these items is magical, is for the DM to determine.

Jewelry Type (d20)

  1. Anklet – Like a bracelet, but on the ankle.
  2. Armlet – Also arm ring, or arm band. Like a bracelet, but on the upper arm, can also be thicker.
  3. Badge – Specific type of pin worn to identify oneself to others. Like a watchman or a clan badge.
  4. Bracelet – Various widths worm on the wrist.
  5. Bracer – A decorative item, not the armor or arm protection for archers.
  6. Brooch – Decorative jewelry item designed to attach to garments to hold them together. See video below on penannular brooches.
  7. Buckle – Used to hold a belt or other article closed/together.
  8. Chatelaine – Holds keys and various useful implements like scissors, thimble, watch, household seal, etc. Historically signified the woman of the house.
  9. Circlet – Circle of gold, silver or jewels worn on the head.
  10. Collar – Like a necklace, but hangs flat to the body. Can be attached to a garment.
  11. Crown
  12. Earrings
  13. Hairpin
  14. Necklace – see subtables
  15. Pin – Decorative item attached to the clothes for ornamentation. May also serve as a functional piece to help hold clothing in place.
  16. Ring – see subtable
  17. Sash – Colorful ribbon or band of material worn around the body, draping from left shoulder to the right hip, or right shoulder to left hip. Can also run around the waist. Ceremonial sashes in a V-shape drape from both shoulders to the stomach like a large necklace.
  18. Tiara
  19. Toe Ring – Ring designed to be worn on the toes.
  20. Torc – Also Torq, or Torque – A large rigid or stiff neck ring in metal, of either a single piece or from pieces twisted together. Open at one end.

Ring Subtable (d8)

  • 1-2 – Signet
  • 3-4 – Thumb Ring (like an archer)
  • 5-6 – Key (like used by the Romans)
  • 7-8 – Poison (hidden compartment)

Necklace Subtables

Type (d6)

  • 1 – Choker 14-16 inches
  • 2- Princess 18-20 in
  • 3 – Matinee 22-23 in
  • 4 – Opera 30-35 inches
  • 5 – Rope > 35 inches
  • 6 – Lariat (Very long version of the Rope necklace, looped multiple times.)

Feature (d6)

  • 1-3 – None
  • 5-6 – Pendant – Something that hangs down from a necklace. (see subtable)

Pendant Subtable (d10)

  • 1-2 – Cameo – Features a positive (relief), i.e. raised image, as opposed to a negative image (intaglio).
  • 3-4 – Emblem – An abstract or representational image, like a moral truth, a king or saint, or a badge or patch, like a coat of arms.
  • 5-6 – Locket
  • 7-8 – Medal or Medallion – Small, flat and round or oval piece of metal that is marked by casting, stamping, engraving, etc. with an insignia, portrait or other artistic rendering.
  • 9-10 – Combination of above.

Pendant Special Feature (d6) 

  • 1-2 -Amulet/Cartouche – Alleged power to protect owner from danger or harm. Holy symbols, holy water, wolvesbane, belladonna, and garlic can be considered amulets.
  • 3-4 Talisman – Believed to bring luck or some other benefit, though it can offer protection as well. Items such as four leaf clover, rabbit’s foot, lucky penny, etc.
  • 5-6 Holy/Unholy Symbol

 

Sages And Their Arguments

Earlier this week, some researchers claim to have identified Phillip of Macedon’s bones, that is, the father of Alexander the Great.

There is some pretty impressive results, but there seems to be a war of opinion between those who say these bones, and another who say those bones.

This gives me two ideas. First, what wounds would adventurers find on the body of a warrior? Would they be the broken skull of the final fight that killed him, or some major wound from which he recovered? In the presence of magic or advanced technology, such massive injuries might not be seen. Where magic is not so plentiful, or technology not so advanced, this gives us a good idea.

Second, if the ruins nearby are of interest to more than one sage or groups of sages, mighty they resort to means other than logic and reason to make their point? I can see one sage hiring players to “take back” something another sage “stole” from him, in order to destroy it, or modify it to strengthen his argument. Perhaps, it might go beyond mere theft to outright murder and destruction.

War of the Sages makes for an interesting historical event, or perhaps and adventure, or even a series of adventures in a campaign. Interesting what might happen when the agents of the sages interfere with the agents of the big bad. Or one of the sages IS the big bad!

I have an interesting and quirky sage in my campaign, but so far, he does not have a “nemesis”. I can see how it might be very interesting for players in my campaign if he had one. At least I would be entertained by their reactions to what might occur.

 

Ant Man

I saw Ant Man yesterday. It is a good movie and I really enjoyed it.

After it was over I reflected on a couple of points in the movie. The second one made mention of something from the first, but the second mention required the character to know something that was not shown. I suspect it will be shown as a deleted scene in the DVD that was cut to make a bigger surprise.

I was purposefully vague about these points because I don’t like reviews that repeat the movie, book, or whatever. A review shouldn’t regurgitate a movie, especially since so many trailers grab some of the best parts of a movie. Any spoilers then leave little to the imagination. Why go spend money on a movie when the surprise is ruined?

I never read an Ant man comic. I have seen cartoons from the 90’s and later with Ant Man, so I know a bit of the back story.

What I like about the Marvel movies, is that they give enough of the back story, so that one does not need to know all the details from the comic books. If you have not read any of the Ant Man comics, or think Ant Man is a dumb idea, try this movie anyway. It is fun, entertaining, and action packed.

As with all the other Marvel movies, you will want to wait until the end of the credits.

The Conquereor – 1956

The medievalist.net has an article calling The Conqueror, starring John Wayne as the worst movie ever made.

It depends on what qualities you are judging this movie. John Wayne as Timojin, AKA Genghis Khan is a stretch. The acting and script may not be the best, but the action scenes, as I recall them from 30+ years ago were a lot of fun. I only saw the movie once.

I watched the trailer and the cavalry charges and other fighting scenes are cool. The clip with the dancers wasn’t bad either. Of course, my judgement is as a 1950’s action movie. There is action and adventure and challenges to the hero. There is also a love interest.

I don’t think this is the worst movie I have ever seen. I think it is one that I will track down and watch again. It fits a lot of the stereotypes of the fantasy adventure genre of RPG’s. If you play D&D or a similar FRPG, this movie should be a fun little diversion.

An Example of Yes

A couple days ago, I wrote about The Fun Is In Yes! Today, I’ll give an example that shows how invisible this can be to players.

In my face to face campaign with my sons and the girlfriend of my oldest son, they kill creatures and skin them, decapitate them, etc. and then have things made.

For example, due to really bad rolls when they encountered a minotaur returning to its lair, it could not hit them and they killed it. Being a large and impressive monster, they took its head and brought it back to town. They wanted to take it to a taxidermist and have it mounted.

When I created the town, I had generated the different businesses and skills available in town. A taxidermist was not one of them. However, since the town is on the marches between the kingdom and the ancient abandoned city, and serving adventurers is one of its industries, it made sense to have a taxidermist. So I picked a name and decided what part of town the shop was in. They haggled with the owner over a price, and arrange for a time to pick it up.

They go back a few days later, just to check on progress, only to find a crowd gathered around the taxidermist’s shop. It turns out that the taxidermist was charging  to give people a chance to look at this head in progress. All the normal benches and things in the shop were cleared out to focus on this one head and allow as many paying onlookers as possible. This little twist greatly enhanced their enjoyment.

The agreement was to mount the head on something to make it easy to mount on their wagon behind the seat and above the heads of the driver and passenger. This sight alone makes an impression on less powerful foes they encounter. They later added an ogre head to their wagon display, prepared by the same taxidermist.

They fought two giant weasels, who again couldn’t roll to hit, and how their heads and hides are hooded cloaks.

I am sure, if we ever resume play, that they will skin and decapitate more creatures to add to their collection.

The twist of adding an unplanned NPC expert hireling increased the fun for both the players, and me.

There was no good reason not to bring the taxidermist into existence. Had I said, “No”, the mental image of two preserved monstrous heads mounted on a wagon, with a driver and passenger wearing giant weasel cloaks would not exist. That’s part of the fun of the collaborative storytelling that is RPG’s.