Monday 25 January 2010

Targets for The Adventurer's Tale

Just some thoughts on things I'd like to achieve with The Adventurer's Tale in the next couple of months.

- Complete the currently-unnamed Starter Adventure Module and find GMs to playtest it without me being present.
- Make use of Otherworlds in the first session of a game.
- Test the Mass Combat and Mounted Combat rules in play.
- Update the One-Sheet Quickstart to include a few minor rule changes.

Anyone volunteering as a GM to help me with my first target can get in touch with me, as I'm eager to see how the game plays without having me as a GM or player.

Thursday 21 January 2010

Thoughts on the Otherworld

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of Otherworlds as a focus for a setting. They let you keep the familiar reality of a low-fantasy world, but have your characters encounter magical, high-fantasy elements when need be. I'm hoping that both sides of the coin will benefit from the contrast of the other. But the idea of jumping into new realities is hardly a new one in fantasy. From Planescape to the more accessible 4e Cosmology D&D, the elephant-in-the-room for any fantasy RPG, has covered quite a bit of ground itself.

For my Adventurer's Setting I want something a little less defined. Something more Fairytale than Epic. I'm definitely thinking more akin to Wonderland, Oz, Neverland and Narnia than the Great Wheel. Places where adventures happen and rules of nature are broken, as well as a source for magic to leak into the natural world in small doses.

However, my experience of these sources is a little limited, as may be clear. My examples are exclusively from sources I remember from my childhood. What reminded me of this concept recently was reading about the Celtic Otherworld, and I'm familiar with many of the analogs in other culture's mythology. What I'm calling out for is recommendations for other sources of inspiration for fantastic places existing outside of our world.

Any suggestions for me?

Tuesday 19 January 2010

The Adventurer's Setting Musings

I've been working on a starter module for The Adventurer's Tale in the form of a small sandbox with a few minidungeons for adventurers to brave. The idea of the game was always to encourage GMs to make their own settings or adapt the game to existing ones. However, I can only resist the lure for so long. I'm going to have a short paragraph of setting info at the top of this starter module.

For this I want to start with some key points that people familiar with fantasy settings will want to know. The idea is to stay generic, but do generic as well as I can. Let's do this off the top of my head.

- The World is a mundane place. Magic is uncommon, most people have boring jobs and the novelty of local monster attacks has long since worn off on the average human. Most people have little reason to know about things that aren't happening in their immediate surroundings.

- The Otherworlds are far from mundane. These hidden, unnatural places exist outside of the natural world and range from the the glittering domain of the forest queen, elusive elf cities, weird underworlds filled with wonder and even Hell itself. Crossing points to Otherworlds are difficult to find and could take any form, but the Adventurers will find a way. These places are where the rules are broken and occasional "leaks" from Otherworlds are the source of most of the Fantasy in the otherwise natural world.

- Elves are elusive, immortal and always thinking of the big picture. Dwarfs are focused, obsessive and enjoy routine. Orcs are ugly, amoral and easily led by smarter creatures. Humans are everywhere.

- Wizards can display supernatural abilities but are rare enough that many people go their lives without witnessing it first hand. Wizards rarely gather together in numbers of more than two, a master and his apprentice. Stories of magic are told, but often assumed to be exaggeration. Likewise, stories of Otherworlds are often thought of as children's bedtime stories.

- Adventurers seek to protect their loved ones, gain riches and fame and explore the legendary Otherworlds. They will be given ample opportunity for all three.

Monday 18 January 2010

Making the most of your Random Encounters

Here's the situation. Your adventurers are roaming through some rough hilly land on the way to their next shot at fame and fortune when suddenly... a random encounter!

As tempting as it is to take the result straight off the table and run through it as quickly as possible, there's no reason random encounters should be unrelated to the matters that are more at the forefront of the players' minds.

Taking some guidance from Treasure Tables the encounter can be sexed up to include a unique element and way for the game to progress if they fail. Throw in a link to an established feature of this area and suddenly your random encounter feels a lot more relevant to the game.

Using an Adventurer's Tale game I ran recently as an example, I'll hit up a random encounter generator for the aforementioned rough hills.

Three Zombie Ogres.

Link to the Game: There's no record of ogres in the area the players were in, but zombie ogres? These unfortunate creatures were servants of the local Dark Wizard, K'Thrax, who the players are very familiar with. They carry metal clubs that observant characters will recognise as being similar to those of K'Thrax's guards, but behind them they drag chains bound around their wrists and necks, in a sort of undead chain-gang. It seems even in their zombie form these ogres weren't keen on serving the Dark Wizard and made a break for it. Could this mean someone is chasing them? Is there enough intelligence left to be able to use them for good? I'd hold off on making them too aggressive and instead play them as more pitiful beasts.
Unique Element: To play up the pity angle I'd have the players encounter the Ogres trapped in a sudden dip in the rough hills, unable to climb back up the steep, jagged slopes. If the adventurers decide to fight the Ogres then play up the chain-gang aspect, perhaps having them attack in unison using their chains.
Way to Progress in case of Fail: These dim creatures will have no interest in eating the adventurers, as a normal ogre might. Instead they're more likely to beat them until they stop fighting back and continue attempting to climb the slope.

Much better.

And as a special treat...

Zombie Ogre
Body 10
Melee 5
Metal Club (Damage 4), 3d6 Treasure.
Relentless: A zombie ignores any non-critical hits that cause less than 4 Damage. Critical hits damage the Zombie as normal.
Clumsy: Opponents may add 2 to their Grace score when rolling against an Ogre.