Saturday, June 25, 2016

Burying the Evil

"Buried" came from an idea I got, not sure where I got it, but I got it.  A halfling that collects evil things and buries them in his yard.  Even he doesn't understand why.  In my first version Gene was more extreme and odd, it took away from his collecting which is the driving force of his personality.  The other part I struggled with is how to present the information.  After four drafts I decided to present the entire location in a series of adventure hooks.  So each item has a situation that could develop or has developed. 

"Buried" is a location within the sandbox I'm working on.  It will include 12 to 15 locations/adventures.  I'm hoping to have a rough sketch of the area done by next weekend. 

As always, you can grab a copy of the PDF for free and I hope you can find a use for it at your game table.   If you do, let me know.  Always love hearing about folks using them.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Grim Water Oasis & Keegan Manor Headed Out & Patreon Report

Late as always, but I was able to get the final part of May's trio of offerings to my patrons.  May included Grim Water Oasis and Keegan Manor.  And I also included an NPC card that is associated with Keegan Manor.  Those of you who aren't a patron can click the links and download the PDF for free. 

Keegan Manor is a location in a small hex crawl I want to develop around it.  I am working on the overall map and hope to be able to share that soon.

May Patreon Report
My Patreon can swing quite a bit over a month's time.  I thought I would share the my numbers.

New Pledges: 7 new pledges for $21

Increase Pledges: None

Deleted Pledges: 1 pledge for -$1

Decreased Pledges: 2 pledges for -$9.50

Total Pledge Change: $10.50

# of End of the Month Patrons: 74, a gain from 6 from last month

Amount of End of the Month Pledged: $174.75*

The pledged amount is that for the first micro-adventure I am able to produce.  To give you an example of how this decreases I'll share what I get in my top three pledges in June.  This can always change, but at this point and time these are the numbers.

1st Adventure: $179.25
2nd Adventure: $171.25
3rd Adventure: $137.75

So you can see it drops quite a bit after the second adventure.  I am usually good for two adventures in the month and on a rare occasion when I have the brainpower I'll get out a third. 

But those amounts are not what I receive.  Patreon gets a cut, the credit card fees need to be paid and the amount I owe others for pledging their fantastic creations.  I am taking an informed guess here and it averages out that the Patreon and CC fees take about $25 to $30 (these costs are taken out with each adventure released) and I pledge around $50 to other folks creating Patreon goodies (this is taken out once a month). 

I have to say I am very happy with my Patreon campaign, I've hit a high for the number of patrons supporting my adventures and a high for the amount pledged.  There was a nice surge of folks over the past few weeks.  And I received some fantastic emails from patrons with great feedback and how he was going to use them in a game.  Love hearing about that.

If anyone is interested in a Patreon or have questions about my experience I'll be glad to share.  It;s been a positive experience for me overall.  And a good way to earn a little extra money to support your gaming habit.  Those gaming books and paraphernalia won't come to your house on their own.

Patrons.  Thanks you as always. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

More Maps in the Making

Yup, I was busy scribbling and coloring my colored pencils to nubs.  These maps, like the previous post's maps, will be integrated into my Patreon project where I am developing a wee bit of a sandbox made up of micro-locations and adventures.  Not sure how many site will be developed.  I still need to draw the overall map of the area.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Maps in the Making

Here are some raw maps I drew up over the weekend.  I needed to get more maps done for some of the things I'm working on.  Here are a few of the underground layers I penciled.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Do You...

I made a video of the process I go through when I laminate my Micro-Adventures.  A simple enough process, but I added some of the tips I learned along the way.  The set is fairly simple.  You need a laminator, laminates and if you want to get fancy a die-cutter for the corners (they do get very pokey).  And of course a you have write an adventure.

Please let me know if you have any questions. 

And Patrons, you know who you are, I'll send out your goodies on Tuesday.  Thanks for the support.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Adventure Design: Unreliable Narrator You Wonderful Bastard

The unreliable narrator is one of my favorite literary devises.  I also apply it to the adventures I GM and write.  Here's why. 

Misdirection in an adventure or series of adventures can add a lot of fun to an adventure.  Many times it is assumed that the person inviting the group to adventure is honest with the situation and intentions.  When the party is presented with situations such as a young boy being sacrificed or a village is stricken with a plague, the extreme nature of the situation leaves little doubt that helping is a good thing.  The nature of the narrator is not called into question because of the situation.  Even if he is a no good bastard something needs to be done.  

But the narrator is omitting information.  Information that seems irreverent because of the dire situation.  Action is called for.  Adventurers excel at action.  Adventurers are much like sharks, creatures of motion and cease to exist when that movement stops.  So when the call for action is made, adventurers move.  This unreliable narrator relies on this trait, as should adventure designers.  Using the traits of adventurers (and your players) is to your advantage when developing a plot for your group. 

In my recent adventure, Grim Water Oasis, the situation presented is a young boy being sacrificed.  Not much gray area.  Seems a fairly straight forward reason to go kick some ass.  However, the situation gets more complex if the adventurers look deeper.  The sacrifice is made to feed the water spirit that feeds the oasis.  The oasis provides life for a tribe of desert people and the wildlife in the area.  If the adventurers go in crack’n skulls they have killed off dozens of more people, children and much of the wildlife.  

In the other situation where a village is stricken with a plague, the bearer of the news pleads with the party to save them all.  There is a cure.  In my adventure, The Malice House, the cure is with a hag that lives just over the boundary of hell.  She deals the adventuring party.  She will provide a cure if the party can collect on a debt owed to her.  This time the narrator is naïve of the situation behind the disease.  While saving the village is a good thing, the party must make a deal with a creature of pure evil.  The same creature that created the disease.

 Unreliable narrators, as I’ve given in the two examples, can be by choice or by ignorance.  Either way, it is an adventure element of discovery.  Unveiling the truth after the fact or during the adventure.  It puts the party’s ability to improvise to the test.  It adds depth to a simple situation and leaves the door option for further development of adventures.
There is of course a danger if overused.  The last thing you want to is make each potential adventure hook rife with deception.  A little goes a long way.  You can tell when your party has reached the point of saturation, they get a case of paralysis by analysis.  Or just call every needy villager or tavern patron a big fat liar.  

 Next time your writing an adventure or setting the hook in those adventurers mouth, add a little unreliability to the narrator.  Your players will thank you.  That last statement was brought to you by your friendly unreliable narrator. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

NPC Cards

Keegan Manor was posted tonight on my Patreon page.  Anyone can grab a copy of the PDF.  Keegan Manor is a micro-location that I plan on using as a home base for a hex crawl series of adventures and locations.  I'll tie in some of the previous releases and draw and overall map of the area.  It'll be geared toward first and second level characters.  A fresh sandbox to tromp through, kick over rocks and explore that ruin on the hill. 

I'm making a couple NPC cards for my patrons.  They'll be 4" x 6" laminated cards, like most of the adventures.  Below is a sample of what one will look like.  I'll have different ones for each of the classes.  On the back is the write up and information of any special items they carry.

I'll ship out copies of Keegan Manor in the beginning of June, along with Grim Water Oasis.  And who knows, there is one day left in the month, there may be another. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Adventure Misdirect

MA#44 Grim Water Oasis was released tonight.  Click on the link if you'd like a PDF copy.

I like developing adventures/situations where there is no way to win.  My players are all too familiar with them.  In addition, adding that unknown element to the situation.  A vital piece of information that is missing that deprives the party of making an informed decision.  I don't use this type adventure all the time, I do like to use them on a regular basis to keep the party off balance.  What might seem like a black and white situation may be more complex.

The trickster is an entity I don't use too often, but I like the idea of an enemy that is never what it seems.  Constantly changing appearance and presenting a situation in a skewed way to prod the party into a rash decision. 

I want to welcome all my new patrons this month.  I hope everyone enjoys the adventure.  I think I rewrote a half a dozen times.  Changed the map just as many times.  I hope the final version is something that you can use at your table or at least glean some inspiration from.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Scarey Shadow Not Included, but the Staples Are

With April 2016 in the books comes another batch of Micro-Adventures out the door.  This month also includes March's single offering which I did not mail because I was failing my insanity checks at work.  On to the offerings.  All of these are available at my Patreon site for the low, low price of gratis. 

To Buy or to Bother is a micro-location.  A cool critter with some OCD issues that can make a very colorful encounter.  A hidden space underground with a possibility of an interesting role-playing opportunity.  I like this one a lot.  Had it banging around my head for a while before I could finally work it out.

To Buy or to Bother is a 4" x 6" laminated note card.  The corners have been rounded for your protection.

Poisoning Chaos is another micro-location, this one could change a campaign.  This creepy, perfect, little cabin with its creepy, perfect, little bard hide a secret that could CHANGE THE WORLD!  muhahaha.  Or really put the screws to it.  This is what happens when good intentions pave the road to hell.

Poisoning Chaos is on a lovely, laminated white cardstock half sheet.  Measuring a generous 5.5" x 8.5".  And again, the corners have been rounded by Swedish craftsmen to assure the smoothest tactile experience and GM could ever wish for in an laminated, cardstock adventure.

Lastly, but not leastly is The Charcoaler's Ransom.  This is what happens when you put yur history in my gaming.  Or my gaming into history.  Where I take a slice of life from Medieval Times and mix it the plotting mind of Margesh Blackblood.  Yeah, my bandit lord is at it again.  He knows what he's doing and expects a lucrative and quick payday.

The Charcoaler's Ransom is in zine format.  Two variegated sheets of cardstock.  Also included are two expertly stapled staples to assist with keeping the cardstock together.  Engineers work diligently to make assure the staples were at the most effective distance apart to increase reading enjoyment.  However, the picture above has a scary shadow.  The scary shadow is not included. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Cover Revised

New Version

Old Version

After some feedback and my own dissatisfaction with the original cover I went with white lettering with backed by black to make the title pop out more.  Easier to read.  I changed my GM Games label.  Although it is nearly the same in both I had my black square with red lettering. 

Micro-Adventures Anthology Vol. 1 is being sliced up by cruel and vicious readers.  I want them to take their time to saw off the nasty bits.  When I get those back I'll send it off to RPGNow and Lulu to get print proofs.  This will be a digest size book.  I'll offer it in print and PDF through those stores.  I'll have to look at Tabletop Games and see what I need to do there also.  Hoping for a May release, but more likely June.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Found Locations

I recently completed a micro-adventures, Old Warren Castle.  I called it a found location.  A concept that is not unfamiliar in the gaming world, especially in the vast MMO video games.  The party is exploring an area or headed to somewhere when they find a ruin, cave, mine or natural landmark that they just find along the way.  These are locations that have no known history.  No known history yet.  Or there is no real history, but there is folklore about the location. 

I like to include several of these when I draw a hex crawl map.  I'll place a symbol of some sort to signify that there is special/unique there something there.  I've got a thing for large, stone swords sticking into the ground.  Something that might get the party's attention.  I may write a couple of lines of what they find.  "The remains of some sort of temple.  Seven pillars remain standing within a stone field."  If the party decides to explore then I'll rift off my description.  What I may have thought of as just an oddity to break up the landscape, the players might find some sort of significance to it.  And as a GM oyu have to figure out when a rock is just or rock or is it a tablet with sacred script.  

I use these sites for various reason, here is a short list of some of what I can think of.  But the best way I can describe a found location is, it tells a small part of the story about the land. 
  • Historical information.  Maybe some sort if hint of the culture that existed.
  • Help with current quest.  I'll plant helpful information or a minor item or two that could help the party with their current quest.
  • Just something interesting.  The location or thing has no real significance.  It is an oddity whose reason for being there is lost.
And I give a little experience award for finding these locations.  A little bump for exploration and investigation.  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

WiP Cover for Micro-Adventure Anthology: Possible Giveaway

I've been tinkering with assembling an anthology of my micro-adventures.  I sent away a copy an editor to clean up most of my messes.  Tonight I was trying to figure out what the cover would look like and t his is what I came up with.  Overall I like it, but I am not against hearing possible ways to improve it.  If your suggestion is used I'll send you a copy of it once I get it finalized.

Let me know what you think and if you have a suggestion let me know.  Thanks.

Developing A Plan on the Go

As a player you are often called upon to develop a do something.  I use a variation of the Marines motto: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.  Sometimes the plan is dictated by the adventure, but there are many times when the goal is clear, but the tactic is left up to the party.  In my most recent sessions, the party was given the task to inform a thieves guild that they needed to earn their units (a specialize form on currency used by the Consortium) not steal them.

Another night it was a simple fetch mission, grab the DNA and bring it back and get paid, but it got more complex when we were attacked as we left.  With a new (what we thought might be new) buyer we could choose to sell it to him for more.

Both of these situations we were going in blind.  So you make stuff up as you go. Sometimes it actually works.  Most of the time it fails in various degrees.  And the way I tend to roll, my average of level of failure is quite spectacular.

First thing as a player I try to define the goal.  The basics.  What is it we need to do?  In the examples:

  • Let the thieves guild know they needed to earn the credits.
  • Steal DNA bring it back.
Next thing I attempt to do is assume possible problems.  I know assume is bad, but more often than not that's all we got.  
  • The thieves guild might not like that.  Be ready for an attack.  Not sure how many there are.
  • Its in a crashed spaceship so expect other looters, integrity issues with the ship and of course returning with stolen DNA the possibility to getting caught.
So with the goal defined, assumptions we prepare for, we head in.  At this time we assess the real situation.  This is about when everyone's plan goes to shit.
  • It is not just a thieves guild, it also an assassins guild.  Yipee.  We meet them at their private base of operations so them letting us leave alive has decreased drastically.  But the leader is talking to us.  So maybe, just maybe, we return with limbs intact. 
  • There is someone watching us.  It appears that there are looters in the ship before we arrived.  Those watching us are waiting for us to leave the ship.
We have what we prepared for and what we have what is actually there.  Now is the time to adapt.  Use what we have come with to solve the problems we face.

  • Fairly simple, while they talk, I shoot them in the chest.  Take out the lead guy and the meatheads usually go away.  Not head guy, no pay.  
  • Since they aren't killing us they are interested in what we have to offer.  I play that angle up and stay calm.  Going gorilla will only get us killed.  Let them know if they agree lots of shiny things will follow.  
And lastly is to overcome and succeed as best you can.  Not all victories are black and white.  Sometimes getting out with your hide intact is the best you can expect.  And there are times when a situation presents itself where you can improve the outcome.
  • I was able to convince the guilds that it was in their best interest to join the Consortium.  It helped that I dropped a situation where an entire village was consumed by a volcano overnight.  That fact, along with the promise of allying with someone who could gain them more money made their decision easy.  The original goal was just to get them to stop stealing the units.  So this was a win+.
  • Found a number for the buyer for the DNA.  I figure we could double cross that bastard and then sell it to our original buyer.  Turned out to be the same buyer.  We extort him for the full pay because we offer him not only the DNA he wants, we offer all of them that we stole.  Instead of getting 1000 credits we scored 3500 credits.  Win+
Yeah, I realize in both these situations that we ended up exceeding our goal, its probably because I've blocked out all my failures.  It helps me to break it down in these steps especially if a goal or situation is stretched out over a few sessions.  My memory sucks so breaking it into smaller parts helps me keep focused.

Time to roll some dice.  I'm feeling lucky.  No 1s will be rolled.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Selling Your Loot Part 3: Gems & Jewelry

The adventurers return from their journey with sacks full of gems and jewelry. They sort through, divvy up what they want to keep and then sell the rest. Depending on how detailed a GM wants to get and what system you are playing, I'm guessing most adventurers are not going to have much of an idea the value of the gems or jewelry. In most adventures there will be a value listed, two emeralds worth 50gp each and a pearl broach worth 100gp.  And so on.  For someone who wishes to add a little depth to the selling of these precious stones please take a moment to read my simple and complex systems.

Simple:  The simple version is to give 50% of the value for finished stone.  Those that need to be cut 25%.  Jewelry is a finished product and depending on the condition a merchant will give 50% of the value or if it is a rare piece up to 75%.

Complex:  Gems and jewelry are fickle things.  Their value goes the way of trends or fashion of the times.  Emeralds may have been in last year, but don't be caught wearing those this year.  This year topaz is all the rage.  So I use a simple equation.  The value of a gem that is trending is worth 50% more, those that wear last year's favorite suffer a 50% loss.  The one exception to this is diamonds.  They never decrease in value.

I use this sub-system of selling to add a little flavor to a campaign setting.  Those nobles and richie riches like to show off that they can keep up with the others.  Or surpass them in superficial displays of wealth.  And it adds a little stratgy for the jewelers and gem buyers.  Maybe they chose not to buy gems that were last years because they don't want to get stuck with them.  Or you have a thrifty merchant who is buying all the emeralds up at a lower cost and willing to wait the years for them fall into favor once again.