Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Random 5 Room Dungeon Generator

I had meant to do this for the August RPG Blog Carnival but missed it due to real-life problems.  However the idea stuck in my head so now it's here, hope you enjoy.

Image (cc) miszla
This generator uses the 5 Room Dungeon model, which I always think works better as themes/areas than explicit rooms so the results are designed as hooks and inspiration so it fits better into your campaign.  As always, roll a set of polyhedral dice or use the JavaScript roller at the bottom of the post...

The d20 - The entrance:
  1. is up (or down) a sheer cliff.
  2. has become the lair of a beast.
  3. is hidden by thorny undergrowth.
  4. has soldiers camped outside.
  5. has sunk underwater.
  6. is guarded by a magical construct.
  7. was magically sealed.
  8. is guarded by an intelligent undead.
  9. has collapsed, is there an alternative?
  10. is haunted by vengeful spirits.
  11. requires a lost key (or keys) to open.
  12. is guarded by the local militia.
  13. is not located where the maps say it is.
  14. has been infested with giant vermin.
  15. can only be accessed using magic.
  16. is the home of an elemental or similar.
  17. is opened by machinery that is missing a part.
  18. is trapped in some way.
  19. is known only to a select few.
  20. is one of many, the rest are decoys or deathtraps.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Populating the RPG Planning Grid, or Filling Your PANTS

Let's imagine I'm starting my new campaign, and to keep prep low and help tie all the emerging plotlines together I'm using my 5x5 grid of Places, Antagonists, NPC's, Things, and Scenes.

Image (cc) AsymmetricButterfly
I need something going on in the background, so I'm just going to roll up a random plot arc:

Crafted long ago by Lizardfolk, from the bones of a gargantuan beast to be wielded in a war against Undead, this is a spear of destiny. It makes the wielder speak in the language of the creator until attuned and is well balanced, or somehow blessed or guided, adding +1 to attack rolls. The wielder must avenge the death of the last hero who fell using it to awaken its powers, when it will become a +2 magic weapon that blazes on contact and deals an additional 3d6 damage to the intended enemies

This might be the main plot arc of the whole campaign, or it may never get any screen-time.  It doesn't matter, it matters that it gives me some elements and a vague idea for a story.  The story can (and will) change, but that's cool. That's the point of the grid.  Quickly I scribble some stuff in:

Places The graveyard of the Gargants
Antagonists The massing forces of the Undead
Things The Gargantbone Spear

Now what about our characters' stories?

Thursday, 12 September 2019

One-Roll Random D&D 5e Characters

I have been working on a procedural character generator for 5e, as I find the system isn't necessarily built around making characters interesting, but it's involving learning a new language so is taking a while.  I'll post it when it's done!
Image (cc) Mikeypetrov

SO! Here's a quick generator you can use now, with a reason to take non-minmaxed stats and a life event to add some inspiration for background colour.

Why not grab a set of polyhedrals or use the button at the bottom to generate someone interesting?

The d8 - Race
  1. Human
  2. Elf
  3. Dwarf
  4. Halfling
  5. Dragonborn
  6. Tiefling
  7. Gnome
  8. Half Elf or Half Orc

Friday, 30 August 2019

Campaign Planning Grids for Plot Components

I have been playing around with ways to make my planning easier, more dynamic, and more focused.  The idea I've hit upon is mainly inspired by Technoir's "Transmissions" and the sheets I had made to track the Enemies, Friends, Complications, Things and Places for each system in my Stars Without Number campaign.

Image (cc) Sheam Bo
I was using a 5x3 grid for SWN - one for each category for each tag I used, including the Trade tags from Suns of Gold, and it worked well.  However it didn't feel like there was much continuity in terms of the plot, and I was keeping notes elsewhere on what was happening on and off screen. Given that the system is designed for sandbox games that's fine, but in retrospect I think I overplanned here for my needs and should only really have had one of each category for background, side plots, and local colour - but that's for another article...

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Campaign Planning, Reusability, and Separation of Concern

Some important concepts from my work in computer software can definitely be applied to campaign planning. Let's talk about two of them.
Image (cc) Tim Probert

Separation of Concern

Think of any dungeon* you've seen - or have written - with a map of the layout, lists of encounters for each room, key items and notes on where they are hidden.  How many times have you, as GM, had to skip, rearrange, shuffle or rebuild parts in response to the party's actions? Exactly.

Separating the elements means more flexibility.  Generally, the dungeon map doesn't care what monsters lie within and the monsters don't care what important treasures they guard. So if we plan loosely we can make it easier to change or add things on the fly.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Starting Infinity with Haqqislam, or What I Should Have Done

Infinity is an awesome game. I love how dynamic it is and the minis are brilliant. I hate how overwhelming it is for new players, which stems from:
  • Having many, many, special rules and equipment choices despite the elegance of the core rules.
  • There are no bad unit choices, so it's hard to narrow things down.
  • Starter boxes contain a good mix of units but these are not necessarily beginner friendly - Haqq box I am looking at you!
When I started I bought as much Haqq as I could, mainly through bulk sales on FaceBook, and a few new pieces that I wanted because they were cool or because people on the internet recommended them.  Looking at my 7-800 points of unpainted Haqq and still having things I want, I can't help thinking that - especially as a casual player - I should have taken a different approach...

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Building Robots (for World Domination)

Image (cc) Cameron Daigle
I happened to chance upon the brilliant Twitter bot @doskvolscores and it prompted me to start thinking about bots and automation.

I had been playing with some of the old automation stuff the blog was set up with long ago; it seems the feed aggregators are mostly gone, as RSS has gone out of fashion, but the feeds are still going strong. They're what power a lot of the links in the sidebar as well as the blogroll, so I started seeing what I could do with them.

Monday, 24 June 2019

RPG Blog Carnival - One Roll Fae NPCs

Since my last Carnival post I've been thinking about Faerie NPCs, what sort of things they might want and what interesting trades they might offer unwary PCs … grab a set of polyhedral dice or use the JavaScript roller below to find out!

The d6 - Type
  1. Dryad or other female Fae
  2. Satyr or other male Fae
  3. Sprite or Leprechaun
  4. Pixie or Faerie
  5. Wild Elf or Gnome
  6. man-beast of some kind: Faun, Centaur, Kitsune...
The d4 - It has an aspect of
  1. spring - bright green shades, suggestions of flower buds
  2. summer - vivid colours, suggestions of flowers in full bloom
  3. autumn - red / brown shades, suggestions of fruits and seeds
  4. winter - grey or white shades, suggestions of bark or twigs

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Gaming With The Kids at Ambush Wargames Show

Yesterday I took my two eldest to Ambush which is run annually by my FLGS at our local showground.  I wasn't sure what to expect, and how long they'd want to stay...

  • After a look round the stalls we enjoyed an introductory game of Blood Bowl run by the local gaming club Wolds Wargamers.  Both of them had so much fun they wanted to buy a copy straight away! It was a close and very swingy game, ending in victory for my daughter from the jaws of defeat.
  • Both wanted to have a go at painting so we grabbed a free mini each and spent an hour or so in the painting area while the painting competition was being judged.  Suffice to say we didn't produce anything that could compete!
  • We all got talking about all sorts of games - we didn't even get to play any of the boardgames which I thought they would make a beeline for - and my son even wanted to have a quick game of Infinity when we got home, so all in all a positive experience.
Is this a shameless plug? Maybe … but it was a great event, all very friendly, and the work put in deserves recognition. It's running today as well, and then hopefully back bigger and better next year.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Railroad / Sandbox / Other - The Third Alternative

Image (cc) Dean Peters
There is a sliding scale between the "Railroad" and the "Sandbox" when it comes to RPG campaigns, and between pre-planned and on-the-fly content.

Railroads are pre-set linear story paths that the players can break by deviating from them; this is the main criticism that tends to be levelled at traditional published adventures.  The storyteller in me wants a beginning, a middle, and an end for my campaign "season" just like a TV season, but I don't want to railroad the players. And I don't want to prep it all up-front!

Sandboxes are environments that let the plots be driven by the players; the GM leaves hooks and clues for them to find but the story follows the players' choices.  The storyteller in me loves this, I love to build in player stories, but I don't want to prep a load of stuff that won't get used and I don't want to wing too much

But these aren't the only structure options, these are just the options we see in modules because they are the options that are easy to publish.  I'm looking for a low-prep option 3.

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