The Far Side of the Table: “Teching” the Table

Upgrading the Game: “Teching” the Table There is an enormous amount of technology that can be added to the table. Initiative trackers, digital character sheets, rulebook PDFs, and virtual dice rollers make up a small number of possible additions players or GMs may use. Throughout this installment, I work to describe my own adventures in using technology. Each article focuses on a different piece of technology, discussing its...

The Egg Thief, Part 2: A Sidetrek

Pernicious Template (and 3 examples) Pernicious Creature (CR +0 or +1) Creatures with the pernicious template live anywhere evil fey are found. Pernicious creatures acquire the physical characteristics (such as green feathers, fur, or scales, and red spots), locomotion, and feeding habits of the pernicious platypus. A pernicious creature’s CR increases by +1 only if the base creature has 5 or more HD.   Rebuild Rules: Senses gains...

The Far Side of the Table: “Click! Now What?”

“Click! Now What?” Our heroes find themselves standing in the Tangle, a sprawling market square filled with local merchants and their patrons. Before them sits one of the city’s grand masters, Lady Rena Ambar, master of brewers. She waves them to join her at the small plaza table, topped with fine foods. Welcome to the table. In my quest to learn better ways to GM, I discovered a tip mentioned by the writer, The Angry GM, called a “Click Trap.”...

Medieval Urbanism: Fantasy Transmutations of Medieval Urbanism

Fantasy Transmutations of Medieval Urbanism Deep, exhaustive knowledge of the functions, shapes, styles, structures, and topologies of the medieval city is, irritatingly, not enough to guarantee the birth of places as unique, believable, and awe-inspiring as, say, Tolkien’s Gondor. Such feats of the imagination are indeed rare, but knowing where to draw upon, not being afraid to allow the rich history of cities to inspire you, and...

Dunsany & Dragons: Adventures from English Literature

Adventures from English Literature Lord Dunsany’s (1878–1957) works have been cited as sources of inspiration for the most famous fantasy roleplaying game since its first edition in the late 70s. His short tales, in particular, are really “fantasy” in the modern sense: most of them follow the “hero’s journey” model, involving young brave adventurers involved in situations dealing with magic swords, monsters, spells, and...

Writing a Better Homebrew Campaign: Linear and Nonlinear Worlds

So you want to create your own campaign for your players? You want to craft adventures with thrilling action, compelling characters, and rich plot hooks? With cliffhangers and twists, treachery and redemption, complexity and surprises around every corner? A living, breathing world to explore with your friends? We want to help you do just that. Part 3, Linear and Nonlinear Worlds An understanding of linear narrative structure is something many...

The Egg Thief: A Sidetrek

The Egg Thief: The Purloining Pernicious Platypus While visiting a provincial festival, an eccentrically dressed man wearing a leather helmet and goggles approaches the PCs. His name is Halm Hogarth, and he takes the PCs aside, saying he needs their help with an investigation. A large number of chicken eggs have disappeared from several farms east of town. Worse, he is also missing two hippogriff eggs. When the PCs arrive at the hamlet, they...

The Far Side of the Table: The Frying Pan or the Fire?

The Frying Pan or the Fire? Welcome back to the table. In this session, the adventurers accidentally found their way into a nest of 6 vampire spawn that I had prepared for later in the story. The adventurers were all level 3, each vampire was level 5. My players were destined to lose. What do you do when an encounter is too hard? What adjustments can you make in the middle of combat to scale the scene down to more reasonable odds? Wednesday...

Medieval Urbanism: The Labyrinthine Realities of the Medieval City, A Designer’s Primer

The Labyrinthine Realities of the Medieval City City planner and historian Lewis Mumford famously recognized the essence of medieval urbanism in “the secrecy and the surprise, the sudden opening and the lift upwards, the richness of the carved detail.” It is that very essence, along with the mysteries fantasy tradition has constructed within it, that makes the medieval city a great environment to roleplay in, and a constant source of...

Midgard Expanded: The Travels of Lucano Volpe, or Captured by Monks

Part 8, Captured by the Monks of Leng Woe and calamity! Imagine the worst that might befall a traveler, and that thought pales in comparison to what has happened to Agosto and I! Desert duststorms drove us Northward for three more days in clouds of choking grit and sand. But on the fourth day, the sky cleared, and it was then that we saw the black city lurking at the base of the cliff-like mountains. We stopped to refill our waterskins at an...

Writing a Better Homebrew Campaign: Different Ways to Tell Your Story

So you want to create your own campaign for your players? You want to craft adventures with thrilling action, compelling characters, and rich plot hooks? With cliffhangers and twists, treachery and redemption, complexity and surprises around every corner? A living, breathing world to explore with your friends? We want to help you do just that. We’ve looked at where ideas might come from. Now, it’s time to think about how to tell...

Streets of Zobeck for 5th Edition Now Available

A Collection of Dark and Daring Adventures What happens when adventurers become the owners of a brothel? When a roguish associate asks them to attend an oligarch’s masquerade in his place? What lurks in the Cartways besides kobolds? And what will you say when another thief tells you the only way to find a treasure is to become hunted by the Praetors? Dark dealings, my boys, and a knife in the guts might be the price. Whose guts? Might be yours...

Medieval Urbanism: A Fantasist’s Introduction

Medieval Urbanism and Geography The medieval city in all its multitude of forms and guises has been a staple in contemporary myths, storytelling, and fairy tales, and has profoundly influenced fantasy RPGs. The instantly recognizable civic styles of Tolkien, the Forgotten Realms, and even the Witcher do after all draw their inspirations from places like as San Gimignano, Prague, and Carcassone. To actually design intriguing imaginary...

Howling Tower: Cardtography and the Wilderness

The Wilderness The cardtography method can be used to lay out a wilderness area just as easily as a dungeon. All that’s needed is an encounter grid tailored to your particular wilderness. Creating the grid isn’t much more difficult than building a table of random encounters since that’s essentially what it is. A wilderness area is a good place to use the option for determining the lengths of connections between areas, as...

Howling Tower: Cardtography and Multi-Level Dungeons

Multi-Level Dungeons We’ve covered the basics of how to lay out the cards, how to connect the cards, and how to decide what each card represents in a simple dungeon. In this installment, we look at ways to create a more involved, multi-level complex. If we’re talking about a dungeon (and for the time being, we are), then all that’s needed is a way to locate some stairs or ramps down to the next level. The simple and obvious...


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