Friday, February 10, 2017

The Free-Association Map Method

The players in my Malara campaign have recently reached 5th level and secured a relatively steady income by marrying a prostitute friend of theirs off to the royal botanist and then assassinating and impersonating said botanist (like you do). As such, they're starting to feel a bit of wanderlust. Up to this point, they've spent most of the campaign in a huge primeval forest and adjacent jungly elf empire (toward the center of the map below).

So the time has finally come for me to figure out what else is out there. This is how I did that.

First: codify my influences. I filled a piece of paper haphazardly with the stuff I want to influence the setting. Then, around each one, I tried to get more specific about what aspects I wanted to lift for my game.

Then I moved on to the word-map below. Using the influences and what I've already told the players, I named the regions of the game world. I used different colors to distinguish the regions from each other and provide a dominant mood. Around each region, I filled in words from the previous step, crossing them out as I went.

Then it was a matter of making several more passes, using what was already there to free-associate more characteristics of the region. At this point I also borrowed liberally from other sources, particularly +Zak Sabbath's campaign (the prime motivation behind this).

For every region, I tried to make sure I included most of these:
  • Landscape
  • Monsters
  • Political actors
  • Flavor
  • Two dungeon-like adventure locations, outlined in yellow. Eventually I hope to have 5-10 for each region (if they get visited, anyway), but at least I can quickly create these two if I know the PCs are on the way.
As a final step, I demarcated land, allies, enemies, trade routes, and wrote a hook for each region.

This method might be too obvious to warrant a post ("I wrote down ideas in different colors!"), but I was really happy with both the process and result. It gave me more freedom and more useful information than my usual mapmaking inclination, which is to start by outlining continents, then mountains, then rivers, then forests...and then the last step is, "Ok, so what goes here? Why do the PCs care?" Essentially, I inverted the process. Now I feel like I have a really good idea of what each location is like, and can quickly produce a map that should give the PCs enough to do until I can flesh it out some more.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Beyond Vornheim

Read these:



In the absence of hard evidence on either side, you need to decide for yourself whose words are more credible. For my part, I find Mandy more credible because I can see Zak's great incentive to lie, but I can't see hers. I've decided to withdraw my support for Zak - through both my money and my blog - unless I can be absolutely certain that I'm not supporting the person Mandy describes. I wouldn't send someone to jail based on this level of evidence, but I'm not sending him to jail so that standard doesn't apply. The only things I know for sure about Zak are that he makes good RPG material and is unnecessarily combative online, and those things neither condemn nor exonerate him.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Will the Chainmail be Unbroken

I couldn't sleep at all last night, but at least I have these kinda clunky rules for broken armor to show for it:

This works for any ascending AC system, but I'm sure someone who understands descending AC (i.e. not me) could adapt it.

First, you need to know the "armor range" of your AC. This is the part that's not covered by the base AC or Dex bonus. So in LotFP for a character wearing leather armor with a Dex bonus of +1, The full AC would be 15 (12+1+2), and the "armor range" would be 14 and 15.

When an opponent rolls an attack against this character, it misses if it rolls 13 or less, hits if it rolls 16 or more, but if it rolls a 14 or 15 it strikes the armor. When this happens, the player rolls a die (d20, say) and notes the number rolled next to the armor. Numbers accumulate over time, and when the player rolls the same number twice the armor is broken and useless until repaired.

It's a fair amount to keep track of, I know. It also means that heavier armor will get dinged more often, though I kind of like that since it would dull your reflexes anyway. Characters are relying more on the armor to absorb blows and less on their ability to dodge.

For even more to keep track of, you could introduce different armor qualities by rolling different dice to check for breakage, from piss poor (d4) to absolutely legendary (d100).

Now that I think about it, you could do the same thing for weapons by checking for breakage every time you roll a 1 to hit.