It’s the end of July, which here in Michigan means that we’ve only got a few months left in which we can game outside without risking frostbite. At Intwischa, however, we’re not letting the ebbing summer keep us from our appointed RSS feeds. Last week, we had great posts on tricks for making NPCs, dungeon corridor architecture, and wilderness outpost expansion among others. Here are some of my favorites.
Paint the Fence
I love Mark Twain. (Bear with me, you’ll see the RPG connection soon.) In one of his classic scenes, Tom Sawyer gets his friends to not only paint his fence, but pay him for the privilege. Now you too can use this trick, with only one simple 3×3 grid!
Ok, maybe you can’t get your players to pay you (at least I haven’t been able to manage it), but you can get them to make your NPCs. In a recent post from Scott Martin at Gnome Stew, he suggests stealing a trick from the Serenity RPG. Have your players fill out a 3×3 grid, with NPCs somehow relating to their PC. They’ll end up with three each of: allies, contacts, and rivals. You’ll end up with nine free NPCs for every player, each with an intrinsic connection to a PC background! I’ll absolutely be trying this soon.
When I run a game, I try to make the stuff within it as realistic as possible. I try to consider everything from the motivations of the NPCs, to the geography. Maybe it’s no surprise, then, that I always enjoy the Bartoneus’ Architect DM posts over at Critical Hits, which look at RPG buildings from an architectural perspective.
In this post, he discusses a standby of dungeon design: the simple 10ft wide corridor. You might think there wouldn’t be much to say on the subject, but Bartoneus covers several variations on the structure. Hopefully this article will make more interesting scenery as all you dungeon delvers are standing around waiting for your rogue-types to check for traps.
In a neat contribution this week, Ameron over at Dungeon’s Master lists the ten books (or sometimes sets of books) he would keep if he had to cull his collection. I don’t have nearly the RPG library that a lot of gamers do, but even I would have trouble choosing. This will take some thought. In the meantime, check out Ameron’s list, and let us know what yours would be in the comments!
The Rest Stop
People-watching is amusing in general, but travel somehow makes it even more interesting. There are the other travelers, each from somewhere different and under the same stresses of the journey. There are also the locals, who all have their own stories, and knowledge of the area.
Our requisite fantasy adventurer probably meets scads of these people while trudging resolutely to Mount Doom (or wherever). If you need a hand coming up with all these folks, Troy Taylor over at Gnome Stew came to the rescue last week with his Son of Fantasy Wagon Train. If you love generators (and who doesn’t) get your dice ready, and make some NPCs.
A lot of the campaigns settings around today treat magic as just another tool. This has always been dissatisfying to me. As much as I enjoy playing magic users, they’re still these very strange people accumulating massive power, and meddling in the forces of the universe. No matter how kind and grandfatherly the cliche wizard might be, this guy can probably fry you with a waggle of his bushy eyebrows. It’s a little unsettling if you think about it.
This was Steve Winter’s point in his recent post over at Howling Tower: Magic should be a little scary. In a somewhat related post, he also puts forth the opinion that Jafar from Disney’s Aladdin is the ideal villainous magic user. If you ignore the comic relief elements, I can’t say that I can object.
PC actions should have consequences. It’s a seemingly simple statement, and I’m betting that just about everybody will agree. How many of us GMs really think through those results?
For instance, if your PCs are living in a remote outpost, running down goblins and other impediments to civilized expansion, that should make it easier for the outpost to expand. Just how to expand it may be a more complicated question. Never fear, however, for Matthew Neagley is here to save the day with his Growing Your Home Base post at Gnome Stew. He uses Medieval Demographics Made Easy (another awesome resource) to extrapolate how a wilderness community would expand. A very interesting read.