Posts by Tim Hitchcock

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Musings from an Empty Tankard: Sibling Rivalry

Here are some ideas on how to rope players into creating shared backstories that add a level of complexity. While players often use group backstory to offer a quick explanation for shared events or why individuals might be accompanying each other in the first place, players and GMs often overlook introducing the complex social and …

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Musings from an Empty Tankard: Parasitic Symbionts

While parasitic symbionts afflict their hosts with adverse side effects, most hosts believe the benefits outweigh this. Sometimes such hosts band together to form secret cults based on their common infestation. These cults are often interested in prolonging the life of their parasites, acquiring more parasites, or even spreading parasites to others. Such groups might …

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Musings from an Empty Tankard: Trial by Fire

For ease of explanation, individuals on trial will be referred to as the accused—and the individual running the trial as the lawgiver. Trials resolve with only a few ability checks, though the appropriate challenge DCs and damage penalties should be determined by the GM based on the PCs’ level. Additionally, some trials draw spectators. Once …

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Musings from an Empty Tankard: Omens, Prophecy, and Foreshadowing

First, pick a mood or theme that suits the flow of the game. After describing that mood, use it for the basis of your prophecy. A prophecy that accurately describes the game feels more organic. It feels as if it has always been unfolding, and the PCs are only now beginning to see it. It …

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Musings from an Empty Tankard: Quantifiable Magic

In a typical game, characters gain rewards intended to be useful, unique, and wondrous. Rewarded magic items provide the character with value, either enhancing the character’s performance or contributing to the story. However, sometimes a reward offers little or no value to the characters or the story. Giving these “drop-or-sell” items a quantifiable value allows …

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Musings from an Empty Tankard: Ghostbaiters

These apprentices have the ability to see spirits, and the ghostbaiters attune themselves to the apprentices, allowing them to see through the apprentice’s eyes. Though a specialized skill, it’s a dangerous job, so as you can imagine, becoming such an apprentice is typically reserved for the bold, the foolish, and the desparate. Though in some …

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­­­­­­­­­­Warlock’s Apprentice: Ahu-Nixta, Hivemind of the Concordant Chronosphere

At one time, the ahu-nixta held dominion over many races. Cruel masters, they fed upon the younger entities and stole from them those elements they needed to transcend the Void. They broke the creatures they enslaved—salvaging flesh and bone, dominating thoughts, harvesting fears—and they warped them into vessels for their own designs. But just like …

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