JP On Gaming

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Black Sails for Rhym released


After a lot of time and poking around with them, touching and tweaking them over and over, I decided it was time to stop and get these adventures out.

Many of you have played "Black Sails", my tale of pirates, scholars, dragons, and intrigue. It is an adventure I longed to write for so long, one I was very happy to get to write. Since Saggakar plays in Faremh, which is landlocked it was not really the best place to set a nautical adventure.

You can get it here on Drivethru RPG or RPGNow

I am really happy to release this adventure, let me know what you think of it!


Edit: Fixed the links

Monday, December 18, 2017

[Old Pro Tricks] 10 points to a paranoid sandbox campaign

I have been talking and participating in a number of threads of recently, challenging myself to post valuable insight from the many, many years of DMing, writing and playing RPGs. Every so often, I write something there I think has a lot of value that should be re-posted here.

The other user asked a long-winded question about what he called a "Unstructured narrative", basically he wanted to create a sandbox "but not quite". His question was how to create such a setting and how to have his players suffer form paranoia and avoid choice paralysis. I was quite taken by the question because it is one I struggled with - and failed quite a lot - during my long career. He asked for methods to accomplish that.

Let's see...
Pathfinder RPG Check
Making my players paranoid of what was coming up next. Check
Providing them with a sandbox where they can drown to my heart's content. Check
Keep the PCs in one place for longer than possible. Check

So I had to reply.

The biggest problem you may have is that players simply do not know what to do and don't know where to start.

Things I would do before setting them completely loose.

   1- Present the NPC and feature interaction with them. Not just *"Hi! I'm Bob, I'm your cousin blacksmith, do you want a sword?"* But something more meaningful.

   2- Make sure the NPCs bring in some of the questions you want the PCs to ask themselves. Ideally, following the rule of three. They will figure it out and take it beyond what you thought.

   3- Your NPCs should also share some possible avenues of resolving conflict, "You should take care of those Hatfields... they are jerks". Again the rule of three is a good way to start.

   4- Avoid the whole thing depending on a Sense Motive check (made or failed). A single check should not unveil everything.

   5- Provide the PCs with visuals (or at least a list) of the major suspects. Since they come from town, they should not spend their time exploring and wondering who is who. They WOULD know that Tim sleeps with his neighbors' wife. They WOULD know that Mrs Buttons is the gossip queen. They WOULD know that Father Smitty sleeps in the church on warm afternoons. Etc. All these things are good to provide right off the bat.

   6- The NPCs should FEEL like they are doing something. For example, the guards does not sit at the gate all day waiting to charge gate tax. They get called upon for things of various importance: Mrs Buttons' cat in the tree, looking at a murder, fighting off marauding orcs/goblins, breaking up a brawl. This gives the PCs an added reason to talk to the NPCs: What happened today and what did you do about it?

   7- The death of such a campaign is when the players don't know what to do because they do not have enough things to do. Ideally, overwhelming them with hooks, stories, avenues of investigation. Why? Because if they can't handle everything, guess what the mayor/lord has to deal with? His hands are tied too.

   8- Make sure EVERY PC has some personal story/ plot to deal with. Even the orphan who knows nothing about his past should have something. This may not be immediately obvious, but perhaps the spinster Miss Kara looks longingly at the PC... Every character should have a thread or two that is related to HIM/HER.

   9- Split the party... Yes, I said it. There should be time when the party will split. If they do that and you run the two groups separately, that will create some paranoia. When you do that, this leads me to the big one:

   10- Make sure everyone has equal time with you. Not everyone is as interested in a total sandbox.

What you ask for is VERY possible and doable. In the early parts of the campaign, provide the PCs with a little guidance: offer a few possible missions and ideas, see if they want to take them.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

FOE releases Spiderfen: Terror in the trees

It's been too long since FOE published a new product. This is a book that has been actively worked on for quite a while. Pretty much from Day One of Saggakar. Spiderfen is a book that is filled with ideas to adventure in that forest.

The book deals not only with the city and seat of House Faremhi, but also the Forest surrounding it.

This book contains:
- A history of the city of Spiderfen and the Forest
- Detailed descriptions of its most important sites and features, such as the Kiflan River, the populous eastern forest, the dark and mysterious western edges.
- Odd races of the Spiderfen Forest, including driders, fey, and hareen or feral halflings.
- The city of Spiderfen is mapped and fully detailed.
- Four First One Houses
- Major NPCs described
- Unique locations and plot hooks
- Guards and spiders fully statted out for 5th Edition and Pathfinder
- Material used extensively for the Legacies Organized Play Campaign

Content of this book is usable for the Tyrants of Saggakar, but can be used in any campaign using BOTH 3rd and 5th edition of the world’s oldest role-playing game or Pathfinder Role-Playing Game. However, it is mostly system-agnostic and its content could be easily adapted to any game system.

The book is available through DriveThru RPG, RPGNow and should be available through the OpenGaming store (not yet there as of this publication).

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Back in the saddle

After the sad events of October when I was suddenly without employment, I spent the last six weeks in a frantic dash for a new job.

Frantic is the word because i spent more time on the phone during that time than I did for the whole of the two years prior. I had to start up my outlook calendar just to keep track of who I talked to and interview appointments. On days I would wake up without any calls, I would end up doing a string of unexpected calls.

I am not complaining. I have, and have positioned myself to have a skill set that is in high demand in the Nashville market. Those of you who do not know, I am a software engineer. I write and think of code for a living.

He best part of this madness is the place I am in now: starting a new job. Who'd'a thunk that going back to work would be like a vacation? I knew. After the previous scramble in 2015, I knew.

This time, I had to choose between seven positions. Many of them really good ones, and turning them down was difficult. Decisions are not about making friends, but making the right choice for me, my family, and my employer. A place for that sweet spot... Where I believed I could grow my career the most. It was difficult indeed. Especially when salaries were all very good. I angsted and tossed and turned over many nights. It came up to a coin toss between two places.

But as usual, with a decision came peace.   I slept so well, snored for sure. I had a job again.

So I am currently sitting in a Waffle House waiting to meet my contact so that I can start... In just under 40 minutes. The routine returns...

I know Thanksgiving is behind us but I still feel the need to thank so many people. Every recruiter who gave me the chance to showcase what I could do, every employer who wanted to pick my brains and see if my skills could help them. My family in Montreal for their support from afar, my friends in Tennessee and Kentucky.

But the biggest thanks I have to give goes to my immediate family: my three kids: Jojo, Kitty, and ActionMan who fulfilled their part of the bargain I offered them, to do good in school while I found a new job. And my wife, Julie who supported me during this time, a real rock. I am sure she will be more than happy to see me leave the house and the Dr Phil marathon to end...

I almost forgot Dr Phil whose sixteen years on tv gave me a lot watch with from my sofa. I mean have you ever met a guy named Philip (and its many spellings) who wasn't a great guy? (There is one, the current premier of my native province of Quebec...)

Now enough blabbing let's get back to work!