Monthly Archives: February 2012

Campaign Season: Delayed Action

Overwhelming ForcesThe best-laid plans rarely survive contact with the enemy. In my case, my day job has transformed over a weekend installation from developer to support manager. Campaign Season fell through the cracks, and I didn’t have the resources to properly promote it and generate interest.

So we’re going to push it out by a month and shake the bushes a bit more. I’ve edited the dates in the announcement post, so point interested parties there for now. If you’re interested, please follow the directions and leave a comment at the signup page.

Now get out there and start thinking up devious new angles to attack war from.

Thanks for your patience and continued interest!

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Weekly Assembly: Campaign Season

Short list this week here in the Weekly Assembly. Between being sick and having a new system go live this weekend, plus prepping for Campaign Season, it’s been a hectic week. But there are still plenty of tasty links. Carry on!

At Home

Articles posted here on The Gamer Assembly.

  • Campaign Season is upon us. Sign Up for our military-themed RPG Blog Festival hosted here at The Gamer Assembly. It runs from 20-27 February 2012.
  • Only 53 Gaming Days Until PAX East! If you’ll be in Boston on Easter weekend April 6-8, you owe it to yourself to attend the best gaming con. Three-day passes have sold out, but you can still pick up day passes. We’ll be there running a panel on Saturday, April 7 at 12:30pm in the Merman Theatre. Will we see you there?

Away

Content from people involved with The Gamer Assembly posted elsewhere across the Internet.

Notes From Abroad

Other interesting articles and cool links.

Wizards of the Coast went public with their announcement about the next edition of D&D on Monday 09 January 2012. We’re collecting D&D Next links in our wiki. If we’ve missed any good ones that you’ve read, feel free to let us know in the comments or join us in the chat.

  • Strategy Game Meets RPG from Stargazer’s World thinks about adapting strategy games for use in RPG games. Start with a random base of operations, then expand the tabletop map depending on what the party decides to do next.
  • Yeh Varily was spotted in the back of the Judges Guild supplement Village Book 1 by Jeffrey Queen. Who says Wizards can’t be badass?
  • Gary Gygax Photomosaic as created by Weem out of images of D&D books really nails it. Nicely done. There aren’t many things I want a poster of any more, but I want a poster of this.

MetaRoundup

A roundup of roundups featuring links of interest to the tabletop RPG community.
Please let us know about other weekly roundups in the comments!

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Campaign Season: Sign-Up Page

  • Are you an RPG Blogger or Blog-Curious?
  • Do you want to write military-themed RPG content for online publication?
  • Would you like to be a guest blogger to see how this whole blogging thing works? Or do you already have your own blog you’d like to promote?
You’re in the right place. Welcome to Campaign Season.

If you want to write something for the Campaign Season RPG Blog Festival either for your blog or as a Guest Blogger here at The Gamer Assembly, please sign up by leaving a comment below. Please include the following information:

Name: (The name by which you’d like to be referred. Alias, nickname, or twitter handle welcomed.)
Personal URL: (Optional – Twitter profile, about.me, or personal site would work.)
Blog Name: (The name of your site you want people to see. If you don’t have one, that’s cool.)
Blog URL: (Your blog or whatever site you want to be linked. Article URLs will come later.)
Area of Submission: (A brief description of what you’re writing about, like “Item” or “Scenario” or “Optional Rules”. Multiple submissions are OK, just note each.)
System: (Something like “D&D 4E” if specific or “Any” if usable anywhere.)
Title: (The working title of your article(s). Try to be specific. Actual article titles will be used when submitted.)
Guest/Linked: (Use “Guest” if you want me to publish your article as a Guest Blogger. Use “Linked” if you’ll publish on your site and I’ll make a link to your article.)

Here’s a clean list of what I’m looking for to copy and paste into the comments.

Name: 
Personal URL
Blog Name: 
URL:
Area of Submission:
System:
Title: 
Guest/Linked:

If I were submitting, my comment would look like this:

Name: T.W.Wombat
Personal URL: http://twitter.com/twwombat
Blog Name: Wombat’s Gaming Den of Iniquity
URL: http://gamerblog.twwombat.com
Area of Submission: Optional Rules
System: D&D 4e
Title: Siege Weapons in D&D 4e
Guest/Linked: Guest

I’m going to try and read everything submitted so I can include a little blurb on your entry. Entries will appear something like this:

I’ll compile participants in a spreadsheet so people can more easily check out other entries. I would encourage people submitting something with a similar title or submitting to the same area to touch base with each other to steer clear of duplication, especially in a focused area like “Battlefield Terrain”. Maybe a grand collaboration will come out of that initial contact – who knows?

Before Signing Up, Be Thou Warned:
1) I reserve the right to play Editor on Guest Posts. I won’t publish any changes without author approval.
2) Bring your best to this festival. You’re showing off your work to the world. Please keep your writing focused, readable, clean, and tight.
3) I am human and have failings. If I miss posting or linking something of yours, please remind me.

We’ll have a logo soon, one way or another.

DEADLINE for participant sign-ups will be ongoing. The festival is currently postponed until further notice. Once scheduled, please get your content delivered somewhere in the festival’s window and sign up before you deliver your content. That said, if sign up and you’re late with an article you promised, don’t sweat it. Life happens; I get that. I don’t maintain a black list for bloggers who are late or anything like that. Get it to me when you can and I’ll get it on the site when I can. Fair?

Thanks for your interest!

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What’s behind this door? Tables for your RPG

Sometimes when running an adventure your players veer a little off course. Okay sometimes they veer way off course. Thinking on your feet and coming up with ideas quick is a very useful skill, but sometimes you need a little help building a manor fast, coming up with a reason for the next dungeon room or just keeping things different.

The first list are simply types of rooms you might find in a large home, lair, fortress or complex. If the result does not make sense for your current location, you can roll again, but sometimes the fun is coming up with an explanation to why this odd room is present. Your players will often do the same. Feel free to accept whatever theory you like best.

The second list is of specific objects, events or environmental effects you might find in a room. Most of these are purposefully a little odd or curious. Use them for red herrings, on the fly plot hooks, or just to keep things interested.

Big List of Rooms

  1. Ready Room
  2. Foyer
  3. Closet
  4. Armory
  5. Abattoir
  6. Lavatory
  7. Laboratory
  8. Forge
  9. Catacombs/Crypt
  10. Master Bedroom
  11. Sleeping Chambers
  12. Barracks
  13. Training Ground
  14. Treasure Room
  15. Prison Cell
  16. Torture Chamber
  17. Kitchen
  18. Circle of Evil
  19. Arcane Testing Chamber
  20. Study
  21. Library
  22. Guard Room
  23. Tower
  24. Fletcher
  25. Jeweler
  26. Storehouse
  27. Tannery
  28. Food Pens
  29. Great Hall
  30. Throne Room
  31. Meeting Area
  32. Portal Room
  33. Fungus Growing Room
  34. Empty Room
  35. Clothier
  36. Maid’s Chambers
  37. Water Supply (well, stream access, etc)
  38. Little Hall
  39. Confectionery
  40. Ball Pitt
  41. Sewer
  42. Larder
  43. Food Service/Lounge
  44. Room Under Construction
  45. Temple/Chapel
  46. Sacrifice Chambers
  47. Room full of statues that speak in riddle
  48. Amphitheater
  49. Waiting Room
  50. Stables
  51. Docks
  52. Stairwell
  53. Wine Cellar
  54. Office
  55. Dressing Room
  56. Tinkerer Workshop
  57. Gallery
  58. Galley
  59. Greenhouse
  60. War Room

Big List of Room Features

  1. The floor slopes down to a drain in one corner of the room.
  2. Orange curtains
  3. Strange Draft
  4. Window with a wall behind it
  5. Knuckle bone from a human on the floor
  6. Loose rock in the threshold
  7. Stained glass windows
  8. Large animal droppings
  9. Central Fire Pit
  10. Expensive Looking Chairs
  11. Bottle of Cheap Perfume
  12. Sports a collection of Wigs
  13. Series of numbers written in the wall in draconic
  14. Smells of horses
  15. Open Book
  16. Candles still burning
  17. Smells of Roses
  18. Strangely Cold
  19. Glowing moss
  20. Contains various shapes not square or round
  21. Odd death related paintings
  22. Wind chimes made of marrowless human finger bones.
  23. Small domestic animal
  24. A thick layer of dust, recently disturbed.
  25. Walls, floor, and ceiling all covered with one particular shade of paint.
  26. Manacles and chains
  27. Indecipherable whispering
  28. Distant muffled noises
  29. The sound of a girl crying
  30. Temperature change with no obvious source.
  31. A rack of exotic weapons
  32. A burnt book.
  33. A trapped creature.
  34. Scattered rat droppings
  35. An odd bit of slime on one wall
  36. A nail attached to the wall with Sovereign Glue.
  37. An opening in the floor leads to darkness
  38. An opening in the floor leads to lava
  39. An opening in the wall that opens onto an opening in the opposite wall. You see the back of your head.
  40. A grate
  41. Arrowheads
  42. A fake tiara
  43. A bag of women’s laundry
  44. A plate of cheese and bread, gone stale
  45. A keg of dwarven ale
  46. A small shiny disc, made of something light and hard, but not metal
  47. Potted vegetables
  48. A framed portrait of the current local ruler
  49. Carvings on the wall
  50. Tribal symbols
  51. A bust of a saint
  52. A family tree tapestry
  53. A sword embedded in the floor/wall.
  54. Filled with insects
  55. Holy Symbols
  56. An animal carved of marble
  57. A painted underwater scene on one wall
  58. Star chart of ceiling
  59. Sleeping child
  60. Fresh Paint

What do you think is missing from our lists?

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The Weekly Assembly: This Means War Edition

And no, that doesn’t mean edition wars. Perish the thought. We’re kicking off our new monthly theme with an RPG Blog Festival to match. Read on!

At Home

Articles posted here on The Gamer Assembly.

  • Stay tuned for Campaign Season, our upcoming RPG Blog Festival hosted here at The Gamer Assembly. Interested in writing military-themed content for an RPG? The signup page will be online soon.
  • Epic Endings by Brian Liberge revisits the end of his campaign and shows us how he revived it to run a more satisfying campaign wrap-up adventure.

Away

Content from people involved with The Gamer Assembly posted elsewhere across the Internet.

  • Secaelia: Player Classes and Options by Chris Jackson explains what classes should be available within the world of Secaelia, based on classes available in the Swords and Wizardry manual, plus details about how the different classes are perceived in-world.

Notes From Abroad

Other interesting articles and cool links.

Wizards of the Coast went public with their announcement about the next edition of D&D on Monday 09 January 2012. We’re collecting D&D Next links in our wiki. If we’ve missed any good ones that you’ve read, feel free to let us know in the comments or join us in the chat.

  • Calling All Gamers: Help A Grad Student Out asks gamers of all stripes to fill out a personality survey for fellow gamer Michelle Drury’s Master’s Thesis in Experimental Psychology. It comes with a free analysis of your responses, but it ends soon.
  • Caves of Chaos Reimagined by Weem provides a free-to-use-with-attribution awesome version of the Caves of Chaos map. It’s full color and based on the old B2 Keep on the Borderlands module. Have I mentioned it’s awesome?
  • Lost Movie Found from Ethan Gilsdorf at GeekDad presents recently-uncovered Super8 footage of a D&D game from the early 1980s. That brings back memories.

MetaRoundup

A roundup of roundups featuring links of interest to the tabletop RPG community.
Please let us know about other weekly roundups in the comments!

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Epic Endings

A few weeks ago I wrote about how it’s ok to stop your campaign before the game’s maximum PC level. Read the link for the full backstory, but the short answer is my campaign ended abruptly. While people agreed that the campaign was fun, they walked away from the table that night frustrated and disappointed.

So I decided it wasn’t over. I try to give my players a lot of room to make choices, and their characters decisions should have weight. However, I also believe that the DM’s job is to facilitate fun, and that ending, while natural, was just not fun. I told everyone we had one more session and began planning my ultimate ending. I wanted to make sure it fit certain criteria to make it fun, challenging and have that epic feel.

1. Getting the Band Back Together. I told my players that they could bring any character they had played so far in the campaign. Whomever they chose, we would find a reason to get them involved, and a reason for them to have reached level 30. This gave them the opportunity to end with the character they connected with the most, and really end that characters story with a big event.

2. Time Passed. I set ten years between the last session and the finale. This serves two purposes. First, it gives the PCs reasons to have reached 30 more slowly, so it doesn’t feel like we missed a really exciting session. The second reason is to respect the natural ending that we previous came to. It’s true I didn’t like that ending, but that doesn’t mean it should be disregarded. By having a length of time between these two events, it gives the last session weight. That ending changed the way the characters viewed and interacted with the world in the downtime and set up how they would treat the threat before them.

3. Truly Fearsome Encounter. To that end, whatever they faced now had to be an extremely dire foe. Not only does it have to challenge characters of Epic Power, but scare them in such a way that they won’t handle it individually. Some characters needed really strong reasons to be present for this fight, such as the cleric who ascended to the heavens or the warlock who had been captured and tortured by Tiamat.

I decided an outbreak of the Abyssal Plague was finally joined by two of the Elemental Princes of Evil. The gods cannot directly interfere on the mortal plane in my campaign, but their mortal servants can. That gives Tiamat a reason to release a favored captive, and the other gods a reason to turn a blind eye when one among them chooses to descend.

4. Tie It Into the Campaign. It has to feel like an ending, and not just a big fight for the sake of it. I had plenty of enemies to choose from. I knew I wanted Tharizdun as the final enemy for my next campaign, so setting that up made sense, especially since the players had been battling his cultists, and accidentally freed his avatar. The Princes of Elemental Evil are powerful foes in their own right, who are naturally tied to Tharizdun.

Pazuzu was also a favored villain. He loves chaos and I could see how the Abyssal Plague might amuse him to no end. He had previously led a PC astray, and it seemed like the perfect time to bring that PC back. This time, he would be the embodiment of the Voidharrow.

5. Challenging and Dynamic Combat. I didn’t want this to be a series of static fights against solo brutes. Epic characters are powerful, damn near impossible to kill and full of options. I wanted each fight to have terrain, multiple enemies and allow the players to think creatively.

I kept it under the open sky but on a dead rocky terrain. That gave us boulders, ledges and crevasses to deal with. First fight was Imix, with a couple of powerful demons and plenty of minions. That made sure if the solo got locked down, there were still powerful threats to deal with, but not so overpowering that they didn’t save some dailies for Ogremoch who loomed in the distance. When they got to Ogremoch, their former ally was revealed as the Voidharrow (Elite) and they had to deal with both foes at once. I added a voidharrow goop hazard that would cause an instant of domination. I also decided that if the Voidharrow was eliminated before Ogremoch, then new minions would stop spawning. That allowed a natural change in momentum, halfway through the fight. I made sure Ogremoch kept two action points till then to keep the combat threatening.

The end result was a much more satisfying ending. The players were challenged but not overwhelmed. They felt like they had accomplished a real goal, which made their epilogues more meaningful. The moral of the story, don’t accept a crappy ending. It’s your game.

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