Take the magnificent flexibility of RIFTS and put it in a working rule-set. That is Frayed Lands.
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No updates in quite a while. Why is that?
I’m writing and improving my art skills. With over 14 projects to write and another 2 to illustrate I have to brush up on everything.
Simple 2d6 is simply sitting there attracting a few sales. Have you bought a copy? Drop a comment below.
Rune Paths d20 is also attracting a few sales.
Combined the two products paid for some art supplies. Nothing much but it’s nice to have done them.
Inspiring art is a benchmark for a quality product in the RPG industry. Without a captivating cover the book relies on marketing and reputation to reach players. For the private publisher this requires budget. Cover-quality art is about $1000 per piece from pro-artists. It will be a gamble if the cover-art alone can net you sales to recoup those costs.
What does this say about the people we sell RPG product to?
They are visually driven. The branding of RPGs is around the imagination of the artist who illustrate the product. It also says, to me, that we gamers are far less imaginative than we believe.
Peace and giggles.
When you enter a new system there’s usually a setting attached. It doesn’t have to be provided by the publishers because it’s inherent in the way the rules allow characters to interact with their setting. If uber-powerful reincarnated gods can be mowed down by a single squad of archers when the rule descriptions say otherwise then there’s a dissonance which undermines the fundaments of the game; and that is detrimental to fun.
Of course it’ll be impossible to make perfect mechanics because of preference differences. We can see that some rulesets expect an adversarial game-table in the way they describe the game running. Others expect the GM to provide for player desires and adapt to whatever they want, implying the GM is their to provide for the players. We all come to the table to get something out of it so it is best to co-operate.
I have a little saying: “Practice the 3BCs”.
Simple 2d6 is ready for exclusive retail sale on RPGNow and RPGDriveThru. It is $6.50, a very reasonable price for a full game, including rules, character sheet, table of contents, and an index.
The beast appeared at the gate dragging a mountain goat. They launched their attack. Artan and Lorco hit it with fire spells. Lorco, a Fireball, and Artan an Aganazzar’s Scorcher. The bear was then trapped in the gateway by Kalista’s summoned dire wolf. It did not fight long before they killed it. Dressing the large carcass took some hours and they returned to the Secure Shelter to rest. Lorco agreed to go to Muddy Cape and hunt clams with them but he had to cut Dalldra in for a share as well as pay for her services – albeit at half-rate.
Overland the journey was tough. Exposed to the dastardly cold north west wind that came straight off the sea ice they took comfort that at least it wasn’t snowing. Digging about with their one shovel they found a clam after an hour. Then Kalista used Locate Plants and Animals and it was easy to find another score of clams. In all they had three pearls and it was deemed enough clam meat for Madam Lim.
When they returned to Vrim it was only three days to the full moon and Don’ needed to be ready to fulfill his role to the Fey.
It was Lord Tovran who added the complication. They should have known by the serious looking man with the scars and the old wound of a shallow fractured cheek bone, Sheriff Daeus.
“You may have heard that Sheriff was investigating something to the east. That much I know was being talked about. What you may not know is that he has found a troubling thing. Tell them, Daeus.”
The Sheriff complied and let them in on what had happened days ago. A young girl had wandered in from the east frostbitten and alone. She claimed that people had been rounded up and taken by the cult of Ath-Voarnus. Those who resisted were put to the sword, and those who fled were butchered from behind. They had found abandoned farms and buildings. No livestock and a few bodies in the snow. Then they had run out of food and had to return.
“I ask you to aid Vrim again and help us rescue these people, or at least put an end to this cult’s raids on Vrim’s citizens.”
“We have just enough horses,” Daeus said quietly to Lord Mikhail.
On the ride out the next morning they asked about Herath. Daeus had seen a man briefly but assumed it was one of the few lone trappers who lived on the margins. He didn’t try and talk to the man.
Cultists had moved into the area and at first kept to themselves. Then they had become aggressive at getting people to convert. It was the little girl, the lone survivor from the nearest village, that had told Sheriff Daeus the background. Many had fought on the fateful day but the cultists cut them down and that cowed the rest of the villagers. All were marched eastwards, with every last scrap of food and feed, for the livestock. Each village was bare of people and food. Corden, Villyme and Puldup; the farthest. Don’s tracking was superb, as always, and he followed the trails as well as a bloodhound might. They past no campsites but when the reached the fifth bridge, a marker of the furthest reaches of the fief of Vrim, they found heavy destrier’s tracks – as if the horse wore barding.
“A knight?” Don’ asked Daeus.
“Perhaps invaders. Maybe the Livruss and Kulvuss left a contingent behind.” The sheriff mused.
They weakened the fifth bridge, removing recently added bolsters, and did the same at the bridge near Puldup – hiding the material in the woods underneath snowdrifts. Then they rode hard back to Vrim as was promised by Tovran so that they might deal with the Fey in the Lutemakers Woods. The lord understood the need to Don’ and his peoples’ craft guild, and thus livelihoods. The Dwarves had secured the promise of the guildmaster to aid them and continue to provide a beast each full moon. All that left was to deliver the beast Lord Tovran had provided. As he left the area outside the stables Lord Mikhail announced that Daeus would be going with the party, and that Lady Varnia Sipran would also be attending – now that the Sipran family were back in their castle.
“Is she bringing the shield guardian?” It was an innocent enough question from Kalista.
“They have a shield guardian? Why was it not used when their keep was attacked?” Tovran was angry, infuriated actually. He stalked off muttering venom about letting innocents die.
It was the end of the 98th day since they left Felk Bay, that they dined with Lord Mikhail Tovran’s family and retainers, but not Lord Mikhail, who sent his apologies at being in a mood most foul that he would not be polite company. Freyald has many tales to sing, though, and regaled them with a long epic ballad from Iron Claw; Hadramyr the Griever. It didn’t help the feeling.
The players have encountered the “diversion”: a sword demon. A feararkh blade from the Pale of War. It has been giving them a serious smack down. All the foreshadowing of its power was ignored by one player and the rest stuck with them anyway to try and keep Felghanis alive.
Fate Points were burned! No-one has more than two left after starting with four each.
I think they can salvage it without spending more and technically they can’t spend more since the Fate Point wasn’t intended to ignore a blow and stay in the fight. It was intended to keep the PC alive after the blow and use the narrative to explain why they didn’t die. Good example is Kellor after being struck by Thiridea’s poleaxe. It certainly looked like the dwarf had his head smashed in but when they checked him Kellor was alive, unconscious and missing his ear along with a swath of skin off the side of his head – making the mess they thought was his skull’s contents.
Unfortunately I was caught up in the excitement and fear of the confrontation with the Feararkh and allowed, if not encouraged, the use of the Fate Points in that way. And to top off the bad GM’ing brought in Fenris as a TPK preventer (god mode Sue?). I reneged on that and ret-con’d it after the session ended. It was fairly pointed out to my face that was what I had done and although it cut a bit it felt good to “undo” it.
Given the party are in a bad tactical situation I have to think of some narratives to save the day.
1) The fate points already spent will still do what they were meant to. OOC explanation will be made up front to clarify how FP are intended to work and what the IC ramifications are going to be. That is PC’s will be “saved” by the FP already spent but still go down and look dead. In future that is all that FP will be able to do.
2) Intervention: there is a caster within the keep, Lady Murelle, who could intervene and possibly save the party.
3) Aftermath: FP based survival has the characters “wake up” to the aftermath.
I don’t know what’ll happen, and I have a few more ideas that I won’t list, but I’m hoping to get it back in the good zone after my GM stuff-ups.
The trial should be fun. There’s a bit of a twist in that for the players that will put them off balance and realise that the NPCs are actually thinking & strategising. Also one of the PCs will gain a visit in an uncomfortable way. I’m hoping to arrange a one-on-one time before the main game so this can take place. It’s possible that they party will try to intercept a creature they can’t handle so it will be likely that Fate Points are required.
But this is conjecture. The main thing is that a reveal is coming up which should really make it a bit more confusing about the main plot element, yet brings the realisation that much more is at stake than they realise.
Probably too much information but I have to put it up anyway.
Clash at the Barrow of Kentos
When the party asked if they could take the book, again, a voice rolled out of the sarcophagus, “Until my tomb is safe you cannot touch the book.” They ran to the sounds of battle to protect Kentos’ tomb.
Two martial scours and a turn-specialist, who managed to destroy two wraiths, were leading the attack on the Barrow of Kentos.
Felghanis used his Blindness spell to devastating effect on the attacking Scours. He took a hit from an oversized crossbow bolt from a sniper. After the first of them was downed the other two ran but the sniper kept on. One of the Scours fell to his knee in surrender claiming a rich cousin, a Cardinal no less, when it appeared this “Thiredea” they kept calling to for help was not forthcoming.
The leader of the Scours, and sniper, closed on the party as they took the three other Scours prisoner. She tried to imperiously take charge of the situation expecting her authority would be enough out here in the wilderness to make the party do as she said. They quickly blocked Thiredea and met her words with harsher ones. It was straight after this that battle began again. Aenir and Kellor quickly flanked her and landed two hard blows. She erupted into the form of a werebear and began raining heavy damage about her with a poleaxe in one hand/paw.
Herath was downed, as was Felghanis, and Kellor looked like the side of his head was smashed in, by the time they brought Thiredea down. Kellor’s wound turned out to be a nasty but non-life-threatening one. His ear was ripped off with bits of his helmet and scalp. The party were grateful.
It was a long session primarily focused on the battle – which was split in two chapters. Thiridea turned out to be a capable enemy but ultimately out-numbered and with her massive strength quite damaged by Ray of Enfeeblement, she succumbed. It went down pretty much how I had hoped except I expected the martial scours and the turn-specialist to get inside the barrow. All the plot information will be put together next session.
Kallista’s player was quick to spend a Fate Point to save Kellor when I put the option on the table. It was almost a race between Don’s player, too, for the privilege. I thought that was great. Players invested in their party and their NPC companions helps keep the energy of the game in good shape.
Chris’ journal is here and goes into more detail:
I don’t know how many prepared modules I’ve tried to run that are too structured to allow any deviation. They are reliant on having two dungeon walls as railroad tracks to keep the party on the plot. Often the plot is not even revealed. Prepared modules are without assistance in how to join the main events together and that is why my new product in the works will attempt a different structure to what is on the market.
Thinking about the structure of a campaign guide being presented as "Event Points" and a general sequence of those points – then adding in various ideas and scenarios to link each event point. Kind of like boxes that line up but need constructed linkages to get between each box.
The assistance that is lacking in modules is the linkages. Often they are contrivances if they even exist. It seems implicit that players are railroaded to the next scene and that really shatters free choice. Sure, a GM can adapt a game so no matter what they choose the players end up at the next scenario and there are ways that is done badly. What I hope to achieve are a bunch of linkages that are not awkward or tyrannical.
For instance: the Kiltayre campaign was intended that the players get to Dwarftown and have questions about the next line of the prophecy-rhyme.
Five swords of bone
The party would try to research it with libraries and Gather Info. checks in the taverns and inns, leading them to either the Iron Tower or the mouth of the Greywynd River. However, one of the players steered the group into the arms of the Church and then confessed his necromancy thinking he could win them on side and prevent his Uncle from achieving a nefarious plot involving armies of undead. So I had to improvise and it wasn’t the best, but it did work, and get them to the Iron Tower. Sure it involved a demon ship of stone that was manned by the Amorrensis Trade Guild, already foreshadowed through the Uncle’s journal, and got them to the Iron Tower as well as introducing an antagonist (Fenris “Nightwolf” Morgane).
What I’m driving at is that not every conceivable scenario can be presented in a module, let alone a full campaign guide, but background information and methods which do link important event points together ought to be provided. GM’s will be able to wing it without relying entirely on their experience and have the back-story related information to make better improvisation which is on-theme with the game to date. Hopefully my vision works out.