Solo RP with Mythic GM

I’ve always toyed around with the idea of solo roleplaying, and occasionally I even give it a go. I tend to be very narrative with my playstyle when it’s just me.

The other day I discovered a great add-on for Google Documents called Solo Roleplay Tools, and it has the Mythic Game Master Emulator tool as one of the options. Following is an actual play report using this addon.

In addition to the GM tool, I used the Fate Accelerated system for characters.

The colored text is results returned from the Mythic GM system based on questions I asked during my play session.


I lay manacled to a table with rusty chains about to be tortured by an insane wizard. Just your average day as a member of the Adventurer’s Guild.

“Are the keys to the manacles within reach?” (Unlikely vs 5: 35%) Roll 39: No
“Has his madness left him vulnerable?” (Somewhat Likely vs 5: 65%) Roll 88: No
What is in the room? Judgmentally Simple

Things were looking exceptionally bad. I could see no key or other implements within reach that might help me escape. While the crazy pointy-hat wasn’t really paying attention to me, it also didn’t appear that I could take advantage of him in any way that would help either. I looked frantically around the room as my options slowly dwindled away. Nothing. There was really almost nothing in this room except a small table that the Wizard was bent over.

Random Event: NPC action: Lie Information
“Does the wizard know he’s lying?” (Unlikely vs 5: 35%) Roll 67: No
Why does the wizard think I’m here? Delightfully Mysterious

The wizard turned toward me, slowly, menacing me with a raised, bushy eyebrow.

Rude Sportsman

“Well, well, well,” he said. “I know that you are a spy sent by that hack of a Sorcerer, Egeorht.”

“Do I know Egeorht?” (Very Unlikely vs 5: 25%) Roll 31: No

“Uh,” I replied.

“Oh, don’t deny it. I can see it plainly as I see the beard on your face. Admit it,” he said. “This will be much less painful if you do. Just tell me what you are here for?”

I said, “Listen, I don’t know anything about this Egeorht. But, it sounds like you don’t like him very much. How about we make a deal?”

“What kind of deal?” The insane man’s interest was piqued.

“I will find this Egeorht and steal something from him for you. Name it, and it will be done.” I was desperate, and not above deceiving my way out of torture.

The Wizard eyed me for a moment and I could see the wheels turning in his head as he considered the offer.

Deceive roll (me) 4dF ( , +, , +) = 2 [+1 Clever for a total of 3]
Deceive roll (wizard) 4dF (-, , , +) = 0 [+1 Clever for a total of 1]

He capitulated. “Very well. But know this. I have eyes everywhere. If this is some sort of trick I will find you and you will not escape the pains that I will visit upon you.”

“Yeah. Scary magical badness. I get it.” I replied.

His bushy eyebrow raised even higher, if possible, and he glared at me before unloosing my bonds.

Chaos factor: 6

*With magical help from the Insane Wizard I am able to track down Egeorht, another Insane Wizard ( of course ). I arrive at his castle, err.. dungeon.: (4) Scene Interrupted: New NPC: Return Masses*

From a small hilltop overlooking the ruins of a castle, I heard the rhythmic thump, thump of marching. Figures emerged from the treeline, marching along a well-worn path toward the ruins. Great! I timed my arrival perfectly with that of a returning army of …

Size: Very large | Health: 6 | Speed: -2 | Defense: 6 | Offense: 6
Animated | Health: 4 | Speed: -2 | Defense: 4 | Offense: 2
Intelligence: Mindless
Description: GM decision, Made of stone
Abilities: can see/sense in the dark; needs to be repaired to heal damage; does not need to eat, sleep, or breathe

Stone Golems
Good At (+2) Smashing things, Endurance, Bad At (-2) Thinking for themselves, Moving quickly
Aspects: Mindless Animated Stone Guardian, Sloth-like Speed

giant stone golems. Why? Why did they have to be golems? Magical terrors that need neither food nor sleep, two things that I was very short on. I had only one thing going for me, they weren’t so smart. In fact, they needed to be directed by very specific commands. At least I had that going for me.

Scene Aspects: Ancient Ruined Castle, Stone Golem Army

“Is there a way in?” (My Perception vs Its Fortifications: 80%) Roll 48: Yes

After an hour of scoping out the castle, I finally found what I was hoping for. On the East side of the ruins was an overlooked entrance, hidden beneath collapsed and delipidated columns. They might have been beautiful sculptures at some point in the past because I could see dull and worn out arms and faces in the wreckage. Beneath their long-dead gaze was a small opening. I’d have to remove a few large rocks to get through, but it could be done.

The Golems were patrolling at regular intervals, but whoever was in control of them didn’t appear overly concerned with anyone getting inside because they strolled by every 10 minutes. Plenty of time to work my way in. As the patrol moved by and out of site I sprinted down across the rolling grass and into the ruins of the castle. After a quick survey of the opening, I begin to pry away the rocks that would need to move in order for me to fit through.

“Is there a magical security measure that would alert someone to my approach?” (50/50 vs 6: 65%) Roll 41: Yes

Heavy footsteps crunched on rock before it dawned on me. “Idiot!” I thought. I was trying to break into the castle of a Wizard and it never even occurred to me that this place might be magically warded. Luckily the wards weren’t explosive or worse.

I tore into the rocks with haste trying to peel them away and scramble inside. Lucky for me, the Golems were not known for their speed.

Dig Quickly (me) 4dF ( , -, -, ) = -2. Spend a Fate Point to invoke Sloth-like Speed for a re-roll.
Re-roll 4dF (-, +, , ) = 0 – [+3 total with my +3 Quick]
Move Quickly 4dF (+, -, +, -) = 0 [-2 for slow movement for a total of -2]
Success with style.

I pulled out a loosened rock near and a small rockslide cascaded down from above it, removing some even large stones. The opening was easily large enough for me to slip into now and I dove in as the two stone guardians came around the fallen pillars and stopped outside the opening. I held my breath, pressed against the walls of the entrance. They didn’t investigate further than the pile of rocks that had fallen away from the entrance. Instead, one of them picked up a large boulder and tossed it into the opening, sealing me inside. If I was lucky, no one knew I was in here, if not … a typical day at the office.

*Stuck in a collapsed tunnel leading into the heart of a wizard’s ruined castle: (8) Scene Unaltered*

I slowly crawled my way deeper into the ruins. My body was covered in scrapes and bruises and at one point I had to squeeze out of my armor to get past a choke point that was nearly too thin. By the time I reached an entryway that had enough room for me to stand upright I was a bloody, sweaty mess.

I took stock of my surroundings and noted that I was in a small closet. There were the remains of a large rat, a wooden bucket that was mostly dust, and an old, bristleless broom. The wooden door leading out was not locked, but it sure was loud. I cringed as the decrepit thing cried out when I pushed it open. I stopped when I thought there was enough room for me to creep through and listened.

“Did anything hear me open the door?” (My Stealth vs Its Perception: 10%) Roll 88: Exceptional No

Surprisingly, I heard nothing. Just a deep silence that was even more creepy than if I’d heard a horde of stony feet descending upon my position. Something was very wrong and the hairs on my neck stood on end. I drew my swords as I slid out of the closet and into what appeared to be a very large aviary. The ceiling disappeared into darkness at what I guess to be about eighty feet. It was hard to know if it went higher because of how dark it was. At the center of the room, hanging from the ceiling, was a massive wooden log with huge scratch marks all over it. Much of the walls were collapsed onto the floor, yet that massive wooden perch remained suspended from the ceiling, but I’m not sure how.

I moved toward the perch, quite curious now. I was cautious and moved slowly, but the floor was slippery from the silty sand created by decaying stone. I was maybe twenty yards from the perch which hung about twenty-five feet off the floor. As I pondered the sort of creature that may have once used that perch I heard a soft, voice.

“Mmm, It’s been some time since I’ve had a guest.”

The voice was deep and bassy and filled with a hungry desire that made my skin crawl. My body felt much the same way and tried to jump out its skin but it couldn’t move at all. The icy tendrils of terror slithered over me and held me in place. I mustered all of my will and attempted to move once again, but I felt a strange resistance that pressed back upon me.

4dF (me) (+, , , -) = 0 [+1 Forceful for a total of 1]
4dF (It) (+, , +, -) = 1 [+5 Forceful for a total of 6]

A redoubling of fear pounced upon me, crushing my will back down into the pit of my stomach. From the corner of my eye, a large shadow skulked past and disappeared behind the wreckage of ceiling. While the thing spoke it moved around but had not yet revealed itself.

Its hissing voice spoke again, “What are thee here sidhe half-breed? What would cause thee to take such a foolish venture?”

The grip of fear loosened ever so slightly and I gasped, not aware that I was holding my breath. I tried to speak and coughed, found my voice and tried again. “I’ve been sent to fetch…

What was I sent to steal? Foolishly Creepy

…the skull of Khazara.” It was no use lying about it at this juncture. My only option was to play this out.

“Does the creature know about the skull?” (50/50 vs 6: 65%) Roll 29: Yes
What powers does the skull purport to contain?
New PC thread: Carry Danger
New PC character: Dispute Misfortune
New PC thread: Usurp Elements

“Ah, him.” The voice sounded disappointed. “It’s always about him. That man was a fool in so many ways. He never would listen to reason.”

“What?” I said.

The creature pondered a moment and then said, “It’s of little concern to you know, but generations ago there was strife in the kingdom. Not the petty strife you think is here now, but real, world-shaking strife.” He broke off with several hmms and hrmms, maybe trying to recall some of the long lost details.

“Go on,” I said, prompting him to continue and in no hurry to see where this would go when he was done reminiscing.

With a mutter he, at least it sounded like a he, continued. “Khazara was a great man who thought that he could solve the kingdom’s problems by usurping the throne and instituting a new regime. He believed that the King was too short-sighted. Too light-handed. Maybe he was right. Rebellion was rampant, there were massive earthquakes and floods everywhere which certainly didn’t help the situation. After years of research and gathering resources and trustworthy people he decided it was time and launched his plan into action. It was all supposed to start with a grand spell that he had been perfecting which was supposed to render the population more susceptible to sway. No one had ever tried anything of the sort before, it was quite impressive if I dare say. Foolish, but impressive. And, as you might expect, something went horribly wrong on the eve that he unleashed his new magic.

“Did he blow something up?” I asked.

“Worse,” the voice said. “He succeeded.”

“Huh?” I said.

“I don’t think you understand the terror that is the race of men, the entirety of them, open to the sway of a single mind.” The voice sighed deeply. “You see, one of the men in his retinue turned against him. On the eve if the spell’s debut it was not the mind of Khazara that the people heard and bowed to but that of the traitor Ysbelle. Oh Ysbelle,” he said the name with a wistful almost delighted lift in his voice. “Beautiful and charismatic. A voice like a siren, that one. But as evil as a horde of Furies from the Seven Depths.”

“You knew the Queen of the Seven?” I knew my history, and she was one bad mamba jamba.

“The very same,” he said. “You know the histories. She was very mad and her reign nearly destroyed everything.”

“What does this have to do with Khazara’s skull,” I asked.

“Oh, that,” he snorted. “It’s said that the possessor of the skull can recall the spell that he used that night. Silly superstition really and I don’t believe it for one minute. However…”

A massive form suddenly drew up out of the shadowy recesses of a large pillar and I nearly wet myself. The fear I had felt before was but a foretaste of the true terror that now stood before me. The creature’s body was nearly fifty feet long and made entirely of fleshless bone. Atop a long snake-like neck was a massive skull with giant fangs and where the eyes should have been were two points of blood red light that seemed as if they would bore through me and into my soul. A dracolich. The most feared combination of undead and dragonkind.

My vision swam at the edges as darkness tried to overtake me and I vomited because of the intense pressure that the beasts physical presence wrought upon me. I’d heard about dragonfear, but feeling it first hand was nothing short of the most terrifying, excruciating pain I’d ever felt.

The dragon laughed deeply and it leered at me and it sniffed at me, albeit not physically since it had no nose. I closed my eyes and felt the hot wetness of tears streaming down my cheeks and nose and tasted the saltiness in my mouth. My death was upon me.

“Since I cannot take the chance that the rumors are true, I cannot very well let you leave here with the skull,” the dragon said. “So, what am I to do.” He traced a claw along my belly drawing a line of blood and I screamed.

“No!” It was the only thing I could say because any other word was too long for me to pronounce. The creatures terrible will withdraw enough for me to speak.

I panted heavily and said, “Mad… wizard.” It was all I could get out.

“Does the dragon know about the mad wizard?” (Very Likely vs 6: 90%) Roll 31: Yes

The creatures head turned abruptly and he dropped down so that one red eye filled my vision. He gazed at me deeply. “What did you say?”

“Mad wizard,” I choked out once more. “He sent me here to get the skull. I’m just the first. There will be more coming.” It was the first thing that sprang to mind. It was only sort of a lie. Taking into account what I had just learned about there was a fair chance that I wasn’t the only one the wizard would send for the skull. Besides, I’ve already told you I’m not above lying to save my own tail.

4dF (me) (+, , +, -) = 1 [+3 quick for a total of +4]
4dF (dracolich) (-, +, , ) = 0 [+3 for careful]
Spend a fate point to invoke the Dragon’s Overly Cautious Nature for a total of 6 vs 3. Succeed with style.

The dracolich let out an audible snort, he lacked the physiology to actually snort, and then pulled back from me. “You could be right, I can’t have others coming here.” He was speaking to himself now, ignoring me entirely. I felt the terror subside even more as his focus drew away from me.

“I can help,” I said, trying to keep the desperation from my voice.

He looked down at me. “Perhaps,” he said.

Random Event: NPC positive: Usurp Nature

The creature suddenly let out a hiss and its massive head, which head been snaking back and forth, stopped. The thing groaned and sputtered as if it were fighting something. With a jolt, the beast screamed, “No!” Then it leaped into the air and with a piercing creak it unfurled its wings and pumped them once. I was buffeted by a windy vortex left in the dragon’s wake as it shot upward and disappeared into the blackness with a shriek.

The dragonfear fully left and I crumpled to the ground. My breath was coming ragged gasps and my mind was racing. What had I gotten myself into? On the one hand I had an insane wizard threatening to kill me and on the other hand, a dracolich who seemed undecided. I didn’t know much about magic, but I knew enough to believe that crazy wizard could actually find me and would actually kill me. Even crazier was that I was seriously considering siding with a dracolich the make sure that wizard didn’t get his hands on the skull of Khazara.

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Patreon for The Procurator

I’ve been rolling around spinning up a Patreon site for quite a while now. Recently I had an email from someone who was asking about the state of The Procurator and conversation followed where Patreon was mentioned. So, I figured, what the heck, let’s do this thing.

I’m setting up all the details now and working through goals and subscriber levels and all that jazz. My hope is that it will a space for a community to begin to grow and The Procurator can gain some traction and some group hugs.

Look for a Patreon launch coming in the next week (or sooner!)

Component Studio by The Game Crafter

As an independent game designer, I’m always on the lookout for tools that make my game design life easier. I’m also looking for tools that won’t cost me an arm and leg because I don’t make any money at this (I’m looking at you Adobe). I do it for the love of it. I use many free tools that are just incredible and I’m so thankful to the folks who build and support them – it’s obvious they love what they’re doing too. If you aren’t familiar with these tools, I highly recommend you check out Inkscape, Scribus, and Google Drive.

Enter Component Studio. First things first, if you are a game designer, whether professional or hobbyist, you should familiarize yourself with The Game Crafter. They are an incredible support to the gaming community at large, they participate in all the big conventions and are a constant source of encouragement and help to the game designer community. (No, they didn’t pay me to say that.)

I will say that CS is not free, but,  it’s worth it to pay the monthly sub because of its incredible power to let you manage your game projects, make changes quickly during the playtest and development process, and its integration with third-party services. Since I’ve started using Component Studio I’ve taken the plunge and begun the process of migrating all of my games to it, and I have zero regrets.

Projects

Pros

CS supports projects, which let you easily organize your games. Each project consists of a section for storing Images, Data Sets, Designs, and Fonts. This means you have a nice workspace for each project with all of its perspective pieces and parts. You can also make copies of components and projects easily, so you could likely even set up your own templates as a starting point for future projects.

Cons

Your process will naturally have to fit in the CS design paradigm which includes using spreadsheets to manage your game text, quantities, and other variables. This might be a mind-shift for some of you. In my opinion, this is the way you ought to be handling your design process anyway and this actually allowed me to solidify some things into a much cleaner design process.  Also, there is a 20GB limit on accounts which could be a hurdle at some point, if you have enough projects. I’m hopeful that this limit will eventually go up without any additional cost (disk space is as cheap as it’s ever been, and I know they’ve back-boned this on E3), but for now, I’m OK with this.

Design

You can use CS to design all of your game components, including creating the layouts for your cards, boards, or what have you.

Pros

You can do almost everything in one program instead of having to learn a ton of tools. They’ve implemented a pseudo-code system that lets you choose a set of data and merge it with a design and voila! You have all of your components complete with text and graphics. Need to change the text on your cards? Update your data set and rerun the export and presto! All your components have the change applied.

Cons

You need to know a little bit about programming to fully leverage the system. I’m actually a programmer by career, so this wasn’t a leap for me at all. However, for someone that does not really have any technical savvy, this could be a learning curve for you. It’s worth it to learn this, however, and it will save you oodles of time once you lay the groundwork for your project.

If you come expecting Adobe Illustrator, you’re going to be disappointed. This isn’t a professional design tool, but it does a decent job at what its here for.

Integration

This is the big kahuna. Component Studio integrates with a couple of other platforms by literally clicking a button. Want to playtest your game online? Bam! Export your game to TableTop Simulator. Want to print a prototype of your game? Kapow! Export your game directly to a Game Crafter project. Oh, you want to give a print and play copy to the world? Zzzap! Export your game to a print and play PDF.

Pros

Updating your resources for your Game Crafter or Tabletop Simulator project could not be easier. The folks at The Game Crafter understand technology, they know that their stuff should integrate and play nice with other services, and they already have a proven track record with developing and supporting a powerful API via The Game Crafter.

Cons

They only support 2 external services at this time: The Game Crafter and Tabletop Simulator. This list will eventually grow, and it’s new tech, so this is not unexpected. If you don’t care about either of these things then there are no cons here for you.

Closing Thoughts

I didn’t even flinch at paying for Component Studio for one simple reason: I got in on the early bird discount and so I only pay $5.99 a month for life. The standard price is actually $9.99 a month if you missed the discount window. Honestly, I might balk at that number myself since I’m a hobbyist and I make $0 doing this. But, let’s compare this to, oh I don’t know … Adobe Illustrator which weighs in at a whopping $19.99 a month.

Even if I had to pay the full price, I think I’d still bite the bullet because CS lets me spend time designing my games instead of worrying about how to get them to print so I can play them. You’ll have to judge for yourself if it’s worth it to you  —  The Game Crafter offers a 3-day trial (which I think should be atleast week).

They also seem to be very responsive and are constantly adding little improvements. If I had to guess, I’d wager they are eating their own dog food.

Star Trek Adventures RPG

Bought the PDF. Started watching all things Trek. Dreamed about Trek. Played Star Trek Online. Setup a roll20.net game. Still, I can’t shake thinking about this game. Probably because I still haven’t found time to actually play it.

Star Trek Adventures looks aesthetically great and captures the feel of Star Trek. It uses the 2d20 system where you roll (wait for it …) 2d20 and attempt to roll under a target number based on your stats. At first, I was hesitant about the system, because, you know, it’s not Fate (but, hey, what is?) After reading through the rules, however, I noticed they took a Q from Fate and essentially incorporated aspects as well as zones. Maybe this has something to do with my current crush on this bad boy.

Special Dice

I like that they are using 20-sided dice. Face it, rolling twenties is fun. More fun than six-siders. But, they threw in six-siders, too, for you old-schoolers. My only issue is that their six-sided dice are special dice that don’t have your standard numbers on them. Instead, they are a bit like Fate dice (hmm, I’m detecting a trend here.) 2 of the sides have an effect that might trigger some special abilities when you roll them. For example, a vicious weapon will inflict additional damage for each effect that shows on the dice face. I feel this is a fun way to give some variation to your weapons.

Star ships are people too!

First thing, the ships are treated like a character, which means you don’t need to learn a whole new way of doing things when you start using your ship. There are a few extra items in there, but, essentially, it’s a character.

What differentiates ships from characters is their scale. Scale is a representation of how big something is compared to something else. Ships also track breaches, which are an indication of how deeply any damage has invaded your ship.

The Trek-verse

They’ve put tons of information about the Trek-verse in the book. Some of the information is pure knowledge dump, but there’s also data presented as communications from famous people from the movies and TV shows.

They also cover many of the races, particularly the more popular and involved races from the tube. Also, even though the game’s setting is in the 24th century, with a few minor tweaks (like removing some equipment and ships from play) you can choose any setting from Original Series onward.

So. Many. Actions.

During a conflict, there are Minor Actions and Tasks. Minor Actions are limited to one per turn but include drawing a weapon, dropping prone, standing up, etc. Tasks are the big things: punching someone in the face, firing phasers, sprinting all out, creating advantages (Hey! More Fate!), etc.

Star Ship combat adds an additional layer of options based each of the major ship posts: tactical, helm, sensor operator, security, communications, etc. They all have unique actions that only a character at that post can perform.

I can’t decide whether I love this or hate it, but there are a ton of actions you can perform. My first thought is that you’ll be scoring the book constantly during combat because of how many things you can do. Maybe with a good GM Screen that summarizes everything this will turn into less of an issue, but for your first several games I can tell you, you will be abusing your beautiful book.

Final Thoughts

This game feels like Fate + Crunch. Which I think sounds awesome. I’ll report back after I really play it and let you know how it went down. Until then, live long and prosper.

P.S.

Oh yeah, there’s also a living campaign that you should really check out if you end up playing. Hopefully, they can keep up with the content, but so far, so good. You can sign up for it in the sidebar on the main web page.

What I learned when I copied another game.

I broke down and bought a copy of Scythe by Stonemaier Games. I’ve played it all of 4 times now, and 3 of those times I played solo. I can’t get that stupid game out of my head. I’m obsessed with it. So obsessed in fact, that I decided to make a new board game that is highly influenced by it. By the way, did I mention how much I like Scythe?

A previous post of mine was a setting entitled Liberty Boys, wherein I felt led to create a setting for a game in the Revolutionary War era after obsessing over the TV Show Turn (I’m obsessive, sue me!). But, after I discovered Scythe, I realized that I must, absolutely must, create a board game set in the American Revolution. A weeks long mental samurai fight ensued as I hashed out a prototype that I will be bringing with me to MenCon this coming weekend (8/4 – 8/6). I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m an indie game developer, so my stuff relies heavily on thegamecrafter.com, which means I’m limited to what they have on the shelf when it comes to making my games. More often than not, this limitation is good and helps me make tough decisions. My recommendation for any of you would-be game designers is to put constraints on your projects. This will help you to cut out wasteful things and give you a tighter product in the end.

Put constraints on your projects. This will help you to cut out wasteful things and give you a tighter product.

Playtesting your game solo is something you should do a lot of. And when you’re done doing it, do it some more. There is a very cool board game simulator that lets you add and test your own games for free called Tabletopia. Once you catch on to the interface, it’s pretty easy to put a digital copy of your game online where you not only test it yourself but spin up a room and invite friends to help you out. This was the first time I’ve done this and it was so worth it.

Playtesting your game solo is something you should do a lot of. And when you’re done doing it, do it some more.

I’m not sure how well Tabletopia, or any online simulator, will work for blind playtesting, but I surely couldn’t hurt. I’ve been terrible at blind playtesting my games, and the few times I’ve done it I’ve received some very valuable feedback. Don’t fall victim to the “I’m too shy to show off my stuff” or the “It’s super secret so I don’t want anyone to see it till it’s done” syndromes. Either one of these attitudes are OK for the hobbyist, but if you really want to get into making great games you need to get over shy or proud self and let people tear your games apart. All growth comes from pain and your games will be better…strong…faster.

Don’t fall victim to the “I’m too shy to show off my stuff” or the “It’s super secret so I don’t want anyone to see it till it’s done” syndromes.

Here are a few snapshots into my brain as I worked through the process of bringing another game to life:

Liberty Boys Prototype Board

Liberty Boys Prototype Board

Liberty Boys

Setting

A historical fiction setting, Liberty Boys is set during the Revolutionary War, but the myths of old are not merely stories of bygone eras. God’s lead kingdoms, demons seek the solace of fleshy hosts, creatures of folklore roam rural and suburban areas alike, and magic is real and dangerous.

The British Isles, led by King George III are allied with nearby Egypt, whose armies are led by the God-king Horus. The powerful British navy, backed by ancient Egyptian magic, is a force to be reckoned with. But, they have severely underestimated the tenacity of the Colonials, choosing to send but a small contingent to quell the uprising, meanwhile supporting a full incursion deep into the heart of India.

The American colonies, caught between a unified Iroquois Confederacy under the strong leadership of Hé-no, the spirit of thunder, and the King George’s occupying army of Red Coats, turn to France for help.  The beautiful and powerful, Andraste, wielding the power of divination to deadly effect, agrees to a help the budding nation and leads the French navy to the new world in hopes of expanding her influence.

Factions & Notable People

George Washington — Commander-in-Chief of the American forces.

William Alexander and Benedict Arnold — American Generals.

Green Mountain Boys — An unauthorized militia organized from Vermont originally formed to defend the property rights of local residents led by Ethan Allen. A coven of druids.

23rd and the 33rd regiments — Two of the most heavily engaged infantry regiments for the British Army comprised of demons and undead.

Queen’s Rangers — Elite Loyalist military unit led by Colonel Robert Rogers and are actually a pack of werewolves.

East India Company — The oldest and largest merchant company. Acting under Royal Charter from the 1600s, they also have their own private army number twice the size of the British Army.

William Howe — Commander-in-Chief of the British forces.

James Clinton and Charles Cornwallis — British Generals.

Iroquois Confederacy — Comprised 6 Iroquois tribes:  Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora. The tribes are comprised of witches and spirits as well as human warriors.

Weapons & Gear

Musket — Black Powder, Fouling, Reload

  • Ball — Inaccurate
  • Shot — Area Effect, Short-Range

Pistol — Black Powder, Reload

  • Ball — Short-Range, Inaccurate
  • Shot — Close-Range

Bayonet — Musket-Mounted, Cavalry Defense

Rifle — Reload, Accurate, Slow

Sword — Heavy

Knife — Hidden, Quick

Grasshopper (3-pound Canon) — Mobile

  • Ball — Accurate
  • GrapeShot — 200 yard, Area Effect
  • Shell — Explosive, Fuse

Black Powder — Explosive

Skills

Woodcraft — Includes tracking, hunting, and outdoor survival.

Horsemanship — Riding horses.

Warfare — Historical and strategic knowledge of warfare tactics.

Spellcraft — Ability to create and manipulate the forces of magic.

Faith — Power and protection derived from a divine source.

Social Status — Social graces and connections to people and organizations of power.

Spycraft — Stealth, subterfuge, cryptology and other spy-related savvy.

Resources

Turn: Washington’s Spies

Top 10 Revolutionary War Novels

Wikipedia: American Revolutionary War

Weapons & Tactics of the Revolutionary War

Assassin’s Creed III

 

 

Storytelling off-the-cuff

I’m always torn between running a pre-created story in my roleplaying games and running a story off-the-cuff.

Pre-Made Adventures

On the one hand, I have small children and lots of family and work obligations that severely cut into my game preparation time. So, choosing a to run a story that’s already been created really reduces my prep time. And there are some really good adventures and full-blown campaigns out there to choose from. However, there are a couple of things that really nag at me when I’m running a pre-made story.

Going Off Path

A pre-made story has a much higher chance railroading your players (that’s when the players don’t really have any free will in where the story goes, there’s a plotted end that must be reached by a finite number of options.) You can always have a few side quests or encounters ready, but this only increases the time you need to prepare for a game, plus you can never guess what exactly they will do when they jump off the path.

Story-Driven vs Character-Driven

Stories that are pre-written have no knowledge about the characters that will be playing in it. They don’t know anything about existing relationships or character history, thus you have the added onerous to somehow connect your players with the story in a meaningful way that invites them to buy into it. Many pre-made adventures will come with plot hooks that are intended to help the game master with this task, but they’re usually not that great. You can always come up with some on your own that are rooted in your character’s history, but again, you’ve just increased your prep time.

Create While You Play

On the other hand, crafting a story while are playing allows almost no preparation time at all, and allows you to tell a story that is deeply rooted in your character’s backgrounds. But, it’s also intimidating. Really intimidating. What if you can’t think of a good story? What if things start out great and just deflate into a big jumbled mess? What if my players are board? What if … ? What … if?

First, storytelling off-the-cuff can make it really fun for the game master, after all, you have no idea how the story ends. It’s a complete mystery and it is way more fun than it should be to see your players trying to figure out what you’re up too when you actually have no idea what’s going to happen next.

So, if you want more fun as a game master and almost no prep time, here’s a few ideas to help you along.

Adventure Seed

Don’t come to the table with an entire story prepared, but just an idea. There are a lot of websites and physical tools that can help you out with this (Rory’s Story Cubes or Donjon to name a couple). This is OK, but even better, is to look at the character’s backgrounds and pull something from there. This creates instant buy-in from the player’s as it’s directly related to their character.

Be A Guide

This is probably the most important part of roleplaying. Game master’s, listen closely. Stop trying to tell the story all by yourself. You have a table full of creative players who came over to Roleplay. If you stick them into a pre-made story then they are just along for the ride instead of driving the car. Instead, guide them into a world full of imagination where they aren’t just participants in some already grand story, but where they are the main characters who are unfolding an adventure that has yet to be written.

Don’t tell the players what’s going to happen next, ask them what’s going to happen. When they ask you “what’s in the room”, you respond with “you tell me what’s in the room.” And for the love of Pete, when they tell you what’s in the room, don’t correct them or try to fix their answer. Use some common sense of course, but resist the urge to take back control of the story. Trust me, it’s fun and you’ll start having many more of those “remember when …” moments when you reminisce about the days of yore.

Final Details

This only works if you have gamers at your table who are interested in telling stories. If all they want to do is hack n’ slash then, by all means, let the story simply be a way to move from combat to combat. That can be fun sometimes, too!

If they are interested, then make sure you help them come up with a fun, imaginative background. A character background is a potential story waiting to be told, so it’s important.

With a short recap, I bid you adieu.

  • Characters need background stories
  • Bring an idea to the table
  • Be a guide, not a dictator
  • Ask questions
  • Have fun
D&D

You can’t take the system out of D&D

I don’t know why it’s taken so long for this thought to truly dawn on me: You can’t reproduce D&D if you take away the D&D system. Oh, you can make a fantasy roleplaying game or take your favorite character and port her to that other game, but it just won’t be D&D. Yes, it seems like an obvious DUH! thing to say. But gosh-darnit, I tried to do it anyway and no matter which way I spun it, it just didn’t work. You know what else? It’s entirely OK. I’m trying to come to grips with the fact that, try as I might, D&D just doesn’t scratch every roleplaying itch.

What’s the problem? OK, OK, I’ll come out and say it. D&D is not a good system for story-driven roleplaying. I used to believe that you can take any good story and slap any system on it and it’ll be good, but I recant. It’s just not true. D&D’s system does not lend to telling a story, it lends to rolling the dice and giving you a black and white, yes-no answer. It excels at group-based, tactical play — even when you’re not using mini’s and a map. This is its sweet spot, and it shines. I’ve seen tables of grown men & women leap to their feet with cries of pure delight at the mere site of a well-timed critical hit (that’s a nat 20 for you D&D n00bs). I’ve lost count of how many stories my group has that revolved around the result of a dice roll, whether it be a critical failure or success. That’s the problem, the dice take center stage and steal the show. Ergo, D&D is not a good system for telling a story.

Now, you can try and smear around those skill checks and sort of make it work. But, it’s hard, and frankly, just not very satisfying. It feels tacked on. Some of you are now saying things like “house-rules” and “modify the system” or “lies!”. But, I don’t want to modify my D&D system. I like it vanilla, and if I modify it … it’s not D&D anymore, it’s some other Franken-system. Plus, that just proves my point, it’s not a good system for telling stories if you have to change it when it comes to the portion where the combat ends and the story starts up again. I’ve never once sat a D&D convention and had my table say “More story, less stabby-stabby!” Never. One. Time. But, I repeat, that’s OK. I still love it for what it is.

So, I find myself realizing that I should just enjoy my D&D time when I get it and be satisfied because it is satisfying. But, like most things in life, there is no one answer that fits all questions. I’m normally a one system kind of guy, but alas, that has now changed and I’ve left some room on that nostalgic shelf of D&D books for another game to fill the story-lover in me.

(P.S. I currently play 5E, but these comments apply to every edition I’ve played. Yes, I’ve played every edition … even 3.0 ;p)