Category Archives: Sandbox

Sandbox Idea

I wrote about an idea for a new campaign setting last week. Last night I had an idea for the starting point for the sandbox.

An earthquake rocks a region near a village. The ground opens up and reveals a structure beneath that releases creatures that raid and terrorize the village. Some local hero/adventurer types kill/drive off the creatures, find the buried structure/dungeon, discover great wealth within and word soon spreads. These adventurers could have retired or set themselves up as local power/authority figures, or all been killed in their greed for more.

This premise sets up the whole thing to use a module featuring a dungeon, a commercial megadungeon, or developing my own. The level of flexibility with this is enormous.

Of course, this leads to a boom town with new found wealth that garners the attention of the far off king, who sends a newly ennobled baron, a younger son of a noble to come in and restore order and make sure taxes are collected. This will be a challenge to players, and the degree of taxes taken will depend on how law-abiding the players and other adventurers are, and how lawful and honest the new baron is.

The PC’s hear about this chance for riches and glory, and arrive with lots of others to make their fortune. The damage, from the creatures, to part of the village is seen on the homes & buildings closest to the hole in the earth. Earthquake damage is also evident. Merchants, innkeepers, thieves, and oh so many others have shown up and changed a once sleepy farming village into a boom town that is the center of attention for miles around. Think of a gold rush town, but with magic and monsters. One cold place this in any genre, not just fantasy. Weird West, Sorcerous Space, etc. Or take out the magic and just be technology, whatever suits you.

The native villagers are in shock at the sudden changes to their way of life. Farmers will be chasing people off their fields. This could lead to a localized famine if the crop is poor from all the digging.

Of the various ideas I have had to pull this together, many can be implemented before or after gameplay starts to make things more dynamic. A timeline of events leading up to and after the earthquake would also help move things along.


Make this a one-off introduction to the campaign. This would call for a small dungeon that is soon tapped out.

Make this the center of attention for the sandbox with a megadungeon.

Formerly sleepy area of kingdom that has not seen much trouble for generations, near a kingdom that has been at peace, but the sudden surge in wealth has many claiming ancient rights to the spoils and demanding their fair share. Documents, maps, patents, deeds, genealogies, etc. All presented to back up claims to land, mineral rights, etc.

What might have caused the earthquake? Why now? Who is interested in this?

Supply caravans lose guards and others seeking their fortune. Some merchants come in on a caravan, but set up shop selling supplies at exorbitant prices to adventurers.

Mines/Miners – non-adventuring types will be digging for treasure, not caring to risk life and limb in the dungeon. Pre-cut stone is gathered from the structure as all newer groups have used prior construction materials again.

Local farmer/crafter sets up an inn, uses materials from buildings of the slain families to build/expand.

Constable. – Native villager appointed/elected/selected by town to keep peace/order. Active before arrival of the baron. Baron can arrive before or after game play starts.

When baron and his force arrives, they set a levy and require the able bodied to build a low wall and ditch around the town with watchtowers at each approach. The underground structure is mined for building materials and is like kicking an ant nest….

If a megadungeon, there will be some other entrance(s) that keep re-populating the dungeon. If they dig too deep too fast or venture too deep too fast, they could attract the attention of a lot of bad things….

Place other NPC’s and static encounters around the sandbox. Note which ones were there before the earthquake, and which are new arrivals since. Are any new arrivals due to what the earthquake has revealed? An old hedge witch/wizard would be there before, do they know anything about the structure?

Sages, scholars, and wizards interested in ancient things might show up.

Local village cleric/druids overwhelmed. Shrines set up to strange and foreign gods. NOTE: Idea of the powers and work that in to it.

Other farmsteads in surrounding area.

Fallen towers, other ruins, caves, sinkholes, etc.

Rival gangs of adventurers. As with any boom town situation, one of them has a level of clout/influence the others don’t and takes advantage of it. Turf wars/claim disputes/etc. This may or may not be the original “heroes”. Calls for generating multiple rival adventuring parties.

Tavern Name: The Fallen Paladin – either a heroic paladin fell in battle saving the town, or fell from grace….

Thieves guild of nearest city/large town moves in to get their piece of the action. Or a thief of sufficient level moves in to set up his or her own guild.


Wednesday Night AD&D on Roll 20 – Session 100!

I’ve been playing a weekly AD&D game, Graveyard of Empires:The Islands of Curabel, for two years next week, and also session 100. We missed two weeks for DM vacation, etc. and one when not enough players showed. 100 represents the number of played sessions. I am the only player who has attended every session, with the same character. There is one other active player that has been at it since session one. On session 98, the rest of us thought his character was dead, so the character is “out of play” for simplicity’s sake, until the character can make his way back to us.

This is very cool, to be on the brink of 100 online sessions. All the more because I know that many games fizzle after a while. I would be curious to know how many Roll20 campaigns are still going this long, or longer?

Our DM, John, does Sandbox style. He has set things planned, with pre-programmed events that happen whether or not we take the bait to go do things. We have surprised him with things we chose to do or ignore. He talks about his campaign over on his blog, Dwarven Automata. He has shared his campaign bible, scripts her uses for generating NPC’s, directions, weather, etc. John has also shared DM notes on player write ups. He only recently started this, so only have a few sessions done.

We seem to have the right mix of players who get AD&D and we have fun. I look forward to riding this out and see what transpires.

I’ll be posting an email interview with our DM when it’s ready. In the meantime, I thought I’d post this and test the waters to see how many other games have lasted so long.

What is the longest running Roll20/other online platform game you have played in?

Prepping and Running Games Saves Money

I have found that in the last few weeks as I prepare a Metamorphosis Alpha scenario to run at UCon, play test it online with two different groups, and end up with a weekly Saturday game and bi-weekly Sunday game, I don’t have as much time to read and browse forums and find more goodies to spend my money.

This is good. I’m not broke, and I’m not poor, I just prefer to pay cash for things, and I already have multiple game systems to choose from. Both the books and manuals I have, and many different PDFs. While I like collecting lots of different ideas for tables and how others do things, in the end, if all one does is collect bits and bobs and never runs a game, what’s the point? {I’m also going to attend ConOnTheCob in October, UCon in November, the company holiday party is in Orlando, FL in December – I finally get to go to Disney World!, Marmalade Dog in February, GaryCon in March, etc.]

Other than helping out the creators when I buy things, if I’m not running at least one game of one of the rules I already have, I’m not doing the one thing I have written so often that I want to do.

I struggle with having “enough” prepared to be comfortable. the key for me is determining what is the right “enough” to have. It doesn’t matter the game system.

By jumping in and running Metamorphosis Alpha and having a regular commitment to keep running it, my outlook has changed. The task seems much less daunting, and the myriad of excuses of why I’m not ready yet fade away.

My in person AD&D campaign with my oldest son and his girlfriend faded away when they moved in with me in the months before my granddaughter was born. Preparations for parenthood, and figuring out their new family dynamics have put that on the back burner. Thus the desire to move that campaign online and get it going that way. Starting up with a new group of people do not guarantee they would make the same choices and check out the same things as my face to face players. Once I get a bit more done with my MA online game(s), I will do more to get my AD&D game going online.

This doesn’t mean no preparation, and no ideas for suggestions for players, etc. There needs to be enough of a framework that it holds together. What this looks like will change and adapt, or it should, once players start interacting with the world. I have lots of ideas, but it is what the players do with my descriptions and starting conditions that is interesting. Watching players interact with the world I have presented and seeing them debate and struggle over courses of action, or regret actions taken, just makes the whole thing come alive. This is cooperative play/storytelling at its finest!

So I have dug in and started using all the pads, pens, dice, books, and miscellaneous notes I have gathered. The results are encouraging, and I find that I want more! I have enough ideas to keep things rolling, and the players have their own ideas, so I don’t see burnout with roleplaying as an issue. Burnout is only a threat based on how crazy busy work gets in December and January. [Oh the “joys” of being a support analyst for payroll and accounting software at year end/W-2 time, plus a new set of forms this year for the ACA.]

I don’t plan on participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I still need to write the last few chapters of my novel, so I can start on the second draft/revisions. I know I can do it, since I have over 60,000 words that I wrote last year in November. It’s just a matter of sitting down and doing the work. Like most things in life, the ad slogan, “Just Do It.” fits so well.

I have a lot of different irons in the fire, and without the distraction of all the different TV shows I watched last Fall, Winter, and Spring, I have gotten more done. It’s all about priorities, and making a decision to act on them, and following through.

Well, that’s enough stream of consciousness for now. I think I’ve convinced myself that I can do the running of games online, and that I can handle as much as I want to handle, with all the irons I have elected to have in so many fires. I can save up shows to binge watch on long weekends, or not worry about them at all. I can put as much effort into game preparation as I want, but choose to focus only on preparation that makes the most sense and has the best chance of being used in play. I can also deal with various projects around my 95 year old house, as well as down-sizing a bunch of non-gaming stuff. I like the idea of a simple life and being able to live out of a van. But I’d need most of a semi-trailer right now. My goal is to go through all my stuff and pare it down now, so in X years, when I’m gone, my sons won’t have to deal with it. I like my stuff, but gadgets and things become obsolete or lose their appeal.

NOTE: I wrote this late at night, and made one pass at it, and it shows in all my rambling and additional topics. I’m not going to go back and fix it. My point is in here. Find it if you can. LOL!

P.S. Don’t forget to talk like a pirate today, ye scurvy dogs!

All of the Axes

For some reason, I was doubting myself on the plural of axis. I confirmed my recollection via googling that axes is the spelling of the plural of ax, axe, and axis, although the pronunciation of the plural is different.

Oddly enough, my topic is including each axis, of X, Y, and Z, still three items. My brain makes connections most others don’t, but I think of an axis of axes, AKA using an ax to represent an axis.  But that is a rabbit trail distracting from the intent of this post.

Yesterday, I wrote a review of +Jason Paul McCartan’s The Graveyard at Lus, for White Star. In that PDF, he briefly mentions position in space. While reading about the graveyard creation concept, I had an idea for determining the X, Y, and Z axis of a ship in a hex in space. I’m not sure what the three dimensional hexagon would look like. For example, a square in three dimensions is a cube. From this site I googled, it appears that a soccer ball or buckminsterfullerene is the closest thing.

Anyone who has watched Wrath of Khan will know why the Z axis is important.

My idea is to use 3d6, one for each of the X, Y, and Z axes. Ideally, a different colored die, or based on their position when they land.

The X axis is left to right, the Y axis is top to bottom, and we have two dimensions on a page or screen covered. The Z axis adds the bit that raises above or sinks below the page, or the things that appear to fly out at you in a 3-D movie.

If using dice of different colors, specify which is which before the roll. If using position, for example the one most to the left is X, most to the top is Y, and the remaining is Z, or designate the position to your liking. A third alternative is to roll one die three times, specifying which die is which axis, but that slows things way down.

Since we will be using 2-D maps on paper or screen, X will be running right to left on the page, Y will run top to bottom, and Z will rise above the page or sink below it.

Each die will use 1-2, 3-4, and 5-6 for 3 options for each. There’s no mechanic in this for dead center, but say if all three die come up 3 it means dead center. Or if they do come up all 3’s, roll a control die and if it comes up 3, or the designated number, it means dead center. That would be more for placement of a single item in a hex. This mechanic would work better for relative positions of one ship encountering another.

For the X axis:

  • 1-2 = to the left (For example 1 could be far left, 2 middle left.)
  • 3-4 = to the center (For example 3 could be left of center and 4 right of center.)
  • 5-6 = to the right (For example 5 could be middle right and 6 could be far right.)

For the Y axis:

  • 1-2 = to the top
  • 3-4 = to the center
  • 5-6 = to the bottom

For the Z axis:

  • 1-2 = higher in the hex
  • 3-4 = to the center
  • 5-6 = lower in the hex

The above only allows for rough approximations, and is probably good enough for a fast-paced game. Use another roll to determine distance, etc.

If more precision is wanted for more exact placement of an item in a space hex, determine the size of the hex and divide it into increments and pick an appropriate die to roll. For example, figure out how to divide the size of the hex by 100 and roll three percentile dice, i.e. 3d%, one for each axis. You may narrow a million cubic miles down to 10,000 cubic miles of space, and then repeat the process to narrow down to the 100 cubic miles, and once again, for where in that 100 cubic miles is the one cubic mile of space with the object in question. If the item is large enough, perhaps you don’t need to keep rolling, but what if it is a lost wedding ring? You’ll be rolling a long time. I think it would be good to just have the approximate location with the 3d6 method and just use roleplay and skill checks/challenge rolls to find the item.

The cool thing about the 3d6 for three axes positioning works for air travel/combat, and for elevation above or below ground, or above or below water, etc.

One could also take the teleport spell from AD&D and the percentage change to teleport high or low, but that does not allow for X and Y.

How would this work? Let’s take the example of two ships in White Star one with the players, the other a random encounter. Roll 3d6 for relative position of each, and determine approximate distance that each detects the other. The Graveyard at Lus has suggestions for how to handle distance with scanners. Generally, the GM’s will have an idea of what scale they are using, and will have an idea of what dice to use to determine distance.

There are a lot of variables for determining distance, including damaged scanners, cloaking devices, etc. I think rules for encounters and pursuit and evasion of pursuit have enough ideas to cover determining distance, so I won’t come up with something new at this point.

This is a bit of crunchiness in RPG’s that you can use as desired; meaning use it, modify it, or don’t use at all.

If this was helpful to you, please comment!

Checklist For Gearing Up For An Online Campaign

I keep fiddling around here and there with ideas for getting my real life AD&D campaign world in shape and organized to run as a successful online campaign.

The last few weeks I have realized that I do more talking/blogging about getting ready than getting ready. I collect neat ideas that I want to remember that I want to have ready for possible use in my campaign. Rather than just talk and haphazard idea collecting, I have resolved to actually do it.

To make sure that my actual preparation is on track, I will make a checklist of things to do and principles to guide my efforts. Since these are things I feel I need to do for me to run an online campaign, I through that I would share the list, in case others find it helpful. Better yet, you might have suggestions that I can use.

My list should be generic enough that even though I mention some specifics of AD&D/OSRIC, it can easily be modified for any genre. I also have interest in running campaigns for Metamorphosis Alpha and White Star, so the same steps, except there is no preexisting campaign to draw from, would apply. Finding the time to run one online campaign, let alone make preparations to do three won’t happen overnight. I could do one shots or once a month sessions for the other potential campaigns. I will get the AD&D/OSRIC campaign off the ground and running before starting another one.

First, what are the principles/guidelines for my online campaign.

RULES/GENRE: First Edition AD&D/OSRIC Fantasy with house rules, If players don’t have access to the Player’s Handbook, point them to the PDF and available print options for OSRIC.

STYLE: Sandbox & Theater of The Mind

TECHNOLOGY: Go with what I know and have experience.

  • Roll 20 & Google Hangouts for play. (Free option, can pay to avoid ads.)
  • A G+ Community to gather campaign information. (free)
  • A Google drive location for shared documents.  (free)

CAMPAIGN: My existing campaign with the clock rolled back to the starting point of the in-person players. This gives me all the ideas I have already used and avoids having to re-stock all the locations that were cleared out. It also allows me to incorporate things that happened in prior play, especially polishing off the rough edges and filling in gaps that prior play revealed.

An added benefit of this is that all the work I do in preparation for an online campaign and actual play will add something to the in person campaign.

Second, the to do list needed to get ready. Remember the KISS method!

  1. New DM map. My existing hand drawn map sections don’t line up right, and I just fudged it at the table. The PDF’s I found online with a section with hexes and an area to make notes were not quite right the way I filled them out.
    1. Note on all maps – they don’t have to be fantastic works of art, just good enough to get the point across.
  2. Player’s Map. I haven’t worried too much about a player’s map in live play. I do have a rough map of the town where they have made their base. If the players online want to buy a map, I will need something in electronic format to give them. I will need the town map in electronic format.
  3. Campaign Introduction. Short document to give a sense of the world and the current situation in the campaign the characters will enter.
    1. Have a TL;DR section at the top with bullet points.
    2. Race and Class specific notes. For example, magic users & illusionists would have knowledge of certain things that other classes would not know. There is a campaign situation reason that a starting player can’t be a half-orc in my game.
  4. House Rules Document. Make it clear how I do things and what rules I use, don’t use, ignore, add, modify, etc.
    1. Have a TL;DR section at the top with bullet points.
    2. For example, I don’t hold to the level limits.  I also don’t use weapon speed.
    3. I only use the classes in the Player’s Handbook.
    4. Only some mundane items from the Unearthed Arcana, Wilderness Survival Guide, and Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide.
    5. Meta-gaming and out of character outbursts have a way of becoming reality….
    6. Silver standard
      1. Price Sheet with silver standard
    7. XP for session summaries and writing up people and places.
  5. Review campaign notes.
    1. Town – Electronic map, place things that need placing, add businesses and NPC’s as needed.
      1. Both Player & DM version.
    2. Revised area map – Make it match what I envision in my head and not how it ended up on 4 or 5 different sheets of hex/note paper.
        1. Both Player & DM version.
    3. Perhaps a map of the known world that might be available to the players.
    4. NPC’s – Organize list of NPC’s for online play. Add or modify NPC’s as needed.
    5. Add classed NPC’s for every class present in my game to save time. Ideas in my mind need to be written down and clarified.
    6. Add NPC’s for each race present in my game.  Ideas in my mind need to be written down and clarified.
    7. Review existing dungeons, lairs, scenarios, etc. to make them fit my revise area map.
    8. Review encounter tables – Tweak as needed.
    9. Method to track notes and ides generated by player outbursts, fears, ramblings, kidding around, and actual stated goals/desires of players.
      1. This will probably be as simple as a next session note pad. Perhaps even a separate pad or side of the page for future session ideas. A stenographer’s note pad had the line down the middle, so that might be simplest.
    10. Timeline/events – Stick to the major events that were pre-generated or that developed from the live campaign. Modify them as the players interact with the world. It will be possible for player activity to speed up, slow down, or stop pre-generated events.
    11. Make a note of anything that I think of as I go through and organize my notes so I don’t forget anything.
    12. Don’t mention any possibilities to players that I am not prepared to back up with preparation for the players to go in that direction.
    13. Longer list of rumors/rumor table.
    14. Generate more names to be ready to name NPC’s.
    15. Re-use weather events and other happenings.
  6. Configure dice and other macros and documents in Roll 20.
    1. Have a document or links to tips for Roll 20 and how to do macros, etc. in case there are players new to Roll 20.
  7. Write up description, etc. for Roll 20 campaign page.
  8. Build G+ Community for campaign. Description, categories, etc.
  9. Locate a good source of images to use for setting the tone for the site and each adventure. I really like how the DM to my weekly online AD&D game does this.
  10. Invite Players & set time for the campaign to begin.
  11. Schedule Time With Each Player to create a character and a backup character. Determine date and frequency of play. Day of week, and weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.
  12. Prepare a better space for holding he materials – maps, notes, manuals, and a place to roll dice and take notes.
  13. Technical – Get a cable so I can run two monitors.
  14. Last minute stuff prior to first session.
  15. First session.

Any other ideas or suggestions are welcome!


Railroad vs. Sandbox – The Timeline

Railroading players by forcing them to do what the DM wants is a bad thing. However, there is a “railroad” that runs through sandbox style play that should be acceptable and welcomed.

The timeline.

What I mean is, the DM comes up with plots, situations, rumors, etc. and puts certain things on the campaign calendar, things that WILL happen – barring intervention by the PC’s or others.

For example, the sun comes up every day, unless something changes that.

The DM comes up with a situation and puts it on the calendar/timeline of the campaign. That “something major” event will happen unless something stops it. This major event could be good or bad.

An example of a good event is a diplomatic marriage that will end decades of tragic war. This event will happen barring outside intervention. A powerful wizard may like that this war keeps these two nations too busy to stop her consolidation of power among groups of humanoids. The end of hostilities means that she will have to use her time and other resources to stop their meddling instead of putting it towards her own goals. Thus it makes sense that this major NPC would hire an assassin to keep her own involvement in the background. Perhaps the PC’s have not discovered the existence of this “big bad.”

The DM assigns a chance that the assassination will succeed or fail. The DM determines through a roll or through choice that the assassination will succeed unless someone finds out about it.

It is up to the DM whether or not the PC’s ever find evidence of any plot. If the evidence is put into the campaign, what if the PC’s NEVER find it? This is NOT a problem. If the PC’s don’t know about something, they can’t do anything about it. The assassination goes through and then the PC’s are tasked with getting to the bottom of it. If the assassin gets away without leaving a trail, what do they do? If they would rather go fight giants, or seek out a dragon, let them.

If the PC’s happen to have done something that merits their presence at the wedding, maybe then they get wind of something, and have a chance to change the course of the timeline. However, it should not be a requirement that the PC’s even know about this. If the “big bad” has the resources to hire the best assassin, how likely is this person to make a mistake? There is a chance, and the DM should decide if there is a chance of failure, or how exactly they want to play it.

If the PC’s are nowhere near the scene, i.e. they are across the world, or in a dungeon, or otherwise unavailable for the event, it goes down as pre-determined.

In my mind, this is the only thing that some might consider a “railroad” that is permitted.

However, it is still possible that through the actions of the PC’s the original assassin might be met in another situation before then. If they take out this assassin, then the next best assassin must be assigned to the task, and their chance of success or failure is likewise determined.

Perhaps, the PC’s decide to go investigate something that leads them to discover the big bad and interrupt her plot.

I have played in many games and GM’d several with all kinds of options presented to players. The players ALWAYS manage to find some significance where the GM may not have intended it to be. This is OK. The players sense that something is important and it opens up a whole new something to be explored, be it a plot, dungeon, monster, etc.

The calendar or timeline for the campaign is the schedule and not the railroad. Just as something can delay a train, tracks out, accidents, fuel shortage, robbery, etc., many things can delay or redirect the events of the campaign timeline. In some places, the train never runs on the times stated on the schedule.

For my campaign, I determine a year or two worth of events. I like the idea in the AD&D Oriental Adventures for determining the event for each year and for each month in the year. Some events, like a flood or earthquake may be nearly impossible for the PC’s to stop. Other events, like an invasion, might be something that can be stopped or delayed, or prepared for, if the players find out about it and can get word to the right people.

Having a campaign timeline with nearly inevitable events planned is not a railroad. A railroad would be forcing the players to do something about them. What if the players don’t see their involvement as required or important? What if they see some other plot or action in the world as more important?

An example from my campaign is a wedding between the ruler of the town that is the home base for the players, and the king’s niece. The players had just found a magic sword and shield that I expected them to use. Instead, they had their own plans. They want to get in good with the powers that be for their own ambitions. So they make a present of this sword and shield to the Baron, and because there is some well-known lore associated with them, they get invited to the wedding and later reception/party, where they get to meet the princess, the king, and several other powerful people.

My plan was that the wedding happened and they might get a glimpse of the king and retinue when they came into town and for the procession to and from the temple for the wedding, and perhaps again when they left. How many players just give up a magic weapon and armor, KNOWING that they are magical?

I never saw their actions coming, so I had to improvise a wedding ceremony and party and have other NPCs generated on the fly.

The players were much more excited to have met the king and queen, and gotten in the good graces of the baron, who is now married to the king’s niece. Yes, the magic items were cool, but the roleplaying and the player driven goals were so much more fun and interesting than I could ever come up with on my own.

It is like the twist ending of a book or movie that is handled so well that you don’t see it coming and are rewarded by getting the full effect due to the finesse with which it was presented. If you have ever seen a movie, or read a book with a big twist at the end that is predictable and not well presented, it leaves one feeling uneasy and disappointed. A railroad that forces the players to go where, when, and how the DM wants them to go is like the poorly executed twist, totally unsatisfying.

A timeline or calendar is not a railroad, just a schedule of possible future events in the course of the game. The players don’t know about this schedule, and only learn of events as they happen, or if they happen to be in the right place at the right time to learn of them before they happen. Even if players know that something is up, they have the power to decide if that something is important enough to figure out what it is, and if they should do anything about it.

For example, suppose the players learn of an assassination plot to disrupt the wedding? What if they just get word to the appropriate authorities about this, and the location or timing of the wedding changes? That alone might be all that it takes to foil the plot. Or it might force the big bad to come out of hiding and get involved personally to make things go her way.

As I have said elsewhere, if the DM/GM has a story to tell, they should write the story, instead of forcing the players to do something in-game that does not interest them.

Review – DayTrippers Planet Generator

DayTrippers Planet Generator, is a section pulled from the DayTrippers GM Guide.  DayTrippers is an RPG game by Tod Foley of As If Productions. I had not heard of this game, but this is one piece that many complain is not in the White Star framework. It is a nice piece to have if you don’t have another ruleset to borrow from, or don’t wish to create your own tables. It is a system agnostic method for generating star systems from the size and type of star, to the number and size of planets.

This six page document is 4 pages of tables for system generation and half a page of converting character abilities, skills, and difficulty levels to other systems. The first page being the cover and last half page being split between more information on Day Trippers and blank space.

It is reminiscent of what I recall from other science fiction games back in the day, most likely Traveller, but perhaps also Star Frontiers. At 50 cents, it is hard to say no to this.

If you need something to get your juices flowing with ideas so that every system is not the same, this can do the trick. If you don’t want to invest in a complete rules system just for these tables, it is a great value.

Prepping To Improvise

From an April 6, 2015 G+ discussion. Initially Adam asked about stumbling blocks to improvisation as a DM/GM.

Awesome discussion! I just now had a chance to read through all the comments.
Having played in two sessions of +Adam Muszkiewicz‘s Kickassistan at Marmalade Dog and having him play in my first effort at running a game at the same convention was a very powerful experience for me.
After we got done, I asked for input from all those who had ran games at cons before and got a lot of very helpful advice.
For me, I put so much time into prep to run an off the shelf module, that I wish I had put in some work on fleshing out a new area of my campaign.
If I develop something, I know it inside and out and can wing it all day long. For a pre-existing module or campaign, I have to spend a lot of time to digest it and get the feel for it, so that I am comfortable running it.
I may do a good job of running it, but my comfort level with doing so is not the same as something I brewed myself. I may be the only one aware of my discomfort. There is always discomfort with new experiences and figuring things out. As long as the discomfort of the DM does not become a distraction to the players it isn’t a problem.
In my own campaign, only something that takes advanced preparation can stop me. Even some things that would be smoother with advanced preparation, I find that I can wing it and my players have fun and come back for more.
My players have plans that have nothing to do with any plots or background. They know there is something going on that connects a lot of the humanoids and undead they have run across, but their main goal is money and power for its own sake. They are doing the good deeds to get in good with the powers that be, not for the sake of doing good. The result is somewhat the same, but the motivation for action is different. I have been totally surprised by players’ choices and actions, as I would not do what they did knowing what they know (but I have been playing for 37 years).
However, my fun as DM is watching how the players interact with my world. Yes, there are things I have in mind that would be cool if they ever go in that direction, but I won’t force them. But, seeing how they think something I considered to be an innocent aside or description, they see cryptic and important things, and they run with it. I know how my world works, so I can run with their inadvertent building of a direction/portion of my world.

Adam then posted this article of his organized thoughts on the matter.

He boils it down to 6 things:

  1. DM a Game
  2. Take Notes during the game
  3. Invent a tool between sessions
  4. Bring new tool to next session
  5. Make notes in the next session, rinse and repeat.
  6. Apply the consequences of the player’s actions to their characters.

I would sum this whole idea up in two points:

  1. Don’t make more work out of it than there needs to be.
  2. Remember to have fun!