Visual Inspiration

If there’s one thing I can literally waste hours doing, it’s browsing through fantasy art. It feeds my imagination, gives me things to dwell on and figure how they would look in a game setting. It’s incredible, how much artistic talent there is out there and I bow humbly before anyone who can draw or paint effectively.

Deviantart.com is one of my favourite haunts and I’ve picked up a few favourite artists over time. Here they are:

And last but by no means least of course, Dragon Warrior’s very own

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Two New Savage Worlds Character Sheets

After a year of playing Savage Worlds and three iterations of my custom character sheet, I feel qualified to publish it for others to use:

Character Sheet

For historical reasons, here are the sheets that we actually use. When we transitioned from DW to SW, wanted the characters to map approximately with their relative rank without losing too many skills. Because DW uses one attack value to cover SW fighting, shooting and throwing, I condensed them at the d4 and d6 levels. I did the same for a couple of other skills at the same time.

Savage Legend Sheet

Happy gaming!

Addendum: By request – Custom Character Sheet With Alphabetised Skills

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Sometimes it all Goes Right

So last Saturday saw us playing the last session of Bitter is the Bark, a three-parter I wrote around the party having to find the material components for a cure for lycanthropy for a minor princess whom they were supposed to be safely escorting through the wilds.

The penultimate scene was a fight against an evil tree, a war tree and some twisted tree-sprites. My son was rolling on a roll in the fight against the war tree, throwing a massive 38 points of damage (Raise, Joker, Mighty Blow). As he then took up sword against the limbs of the evil tree, the rest of the group were cheering him on: “El-a-than, El-a-than, El-a-than!” I think that will be a treasured memory for years to come and all the confirmation that I needed that my family is into this as much as I am and that it was a good idea to include them.

The last scene was a hell-for-leather 60 mile ride against the clock to get the last ingredient back for the potion to be brewed. Everybody really enjoyed themselves (well, apart from the absent druid’s player that is, who’s PC is now embedded in a Blood Oak, but that was all part of the plan any way). A write-up of he last episode is found under Karickbridge Tales above.

Trying to dissect the game afterwards to determine what was so enjoyable, we came to the following conclusions:

  • Ownership; the princess was a PC turned NPC – they had personal involvement in seeing her cured.
  • Clear objectives; they started out the adventure knowing what they had to get, not necessarily knowing where to get the components, but knowing where to start looking.
  • Some memorable foes and combats; as well as the war tree, there was the wyvern incident. Cool fight.
  • Risk; there was a real sense that they could fail the task right up until the last horse-ride.
  • A good dose of puzzles and dramatic tasks.

Now to take those lessons and run with them.

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Bitter is the Bark

A brand new Savage Tale: Bitter is the Bark.

This fantasy adventure for a group of Seasoned or Veteran characters is centred on the party having to obtain the material components for a cure for lycanthropy; wolfsbane from the grave of a saint, blood from the werewolf that bit the victim and an aliquot of quicksilver. The components have to be assembled and administered before the next full moon for them to work, otherwise the victim will become permanently afflicted.

The wolfsbane can be obtained from a nearby monastery, although the monks there are less than forthcoming and the plant will need to be obtained by guile. The werewolf will need to be tracked down to its lair, identified and neutralised so that blood can be obtained from it whilst in its human form. The quicksilver can either be found in an abandoned dwarven mine or obtained from an alchemist in exchange for a rare alchemical component.werewolf clipart

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Skynet – for Real

Skynet becomes real

Completely off my normal topic, but why isn’t this all over the geekosphere? The UK has today launched a Skynet military satellite:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20781625.

No-one seems to be making the obvious connections: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skynet_%28Terminator%29

Maybe the Mayans were right after all…

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Repost: Review of Public Attitudes to Gaming

As a Christian who plays RPGs I thought it worth reposting the following review article on roleplaying and the public/media. I’m still very careful about who I tell about my roleplaying. With colleagues because I don’t want to face ridicule, with Christian friends because I don’t want to face suspicion. Which doesn’t mean I don’t tell either group, it’s just that I choose my confessors wisely.

http://rpgr.org/documents/rpg-research-documents/web-version/defamation-of-rpg

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Musing on Maps

Planning a tour in the alps

There is something incredibly satisfying about a map. The way symbols and signs promise wonderful landscapes and adventures untold. I can still vividly remember a geography lesson on map reading from my first year at secondary school some 33 years ago and the thrill of understanding how the whole thing fit together to give information. How hills were drawn, what the building on the canal was, how to find the nearest pub…

To this day there are few things I find more satisfying than buying a new map, opening it and studying it for possibilities; new hikes to plan, new routes to discover.

One of my earlier maps

And the RPG world is no different. There are some very clever people out there for whom I have nothing but admiration and respect regarding the superbly crafted maps they come up with. The website Cartographers’ Guild is a favourite haunt of mine when looking for mappy inspiration, and you only have to enter the terms “fantasy map” in Deviant Art to come up with some absolute masterpieces. In fact I joined the CG just to have download rights so that I can swipe maps for my own (personal) use.

One of my favourite formats, particularly for town and the like, is the cutaway. One of the best examples of this is Domigoron’s Town of Berem, which shows a delightful little seaside hill town. It’s half-way between map and sketch and gives me as a GM a real thrill and tons of ideas regarding how to implement it in an adventure.

When I’m buying scenarios or flipping through RPG magazines, it’s often the maps and the artwork that catch the eye rather than the story itself. But is it all necessary? I found myself needing to come up with a map recently for a wilderness adventure that I want to send my players on. I ended up throwing it together in 5 minutes using Google Docs. It has all the pertinent information (that the map needs), it’s clear and it’s fast. Minimalist. But it wouldn’t sell my scenario if I were to try to market it. At the end of the day, most of the maps that we see are little more than eye-candy for the GM that don’t even make it to the players, who get some poorly sketch-it-as-you-go version.

But I don’t want the mappy goodness to stop.

The map for my latest adventure with all the necessary information for play.

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