Ship Names

During the AD&D games I ran at the last Marmalade Dog I needed a good ship name, and didn’t have a good one, so I asked the players, and got a great one, the Storm Witch.

I then decided that I could make a table to come up with other usable names.

The most basic such table is a list of adjectives and a list of nouns and roll a die for each column.

Of course, with adjectives you have colors and other descriptors. Powerful action oriented descriptors are cool, like the Flying Dutchman, or the Red Witch (Wake of the Red Witch).  Ships have the idea of motion and speed. A name that foreshadows a very fast ship is only fitting if the ship is fast. A slow merchant would tend to have a name evoking reliability or stability, or perhaps a humorous name. A pirate ship would most likely be renamed to something more suiting. a naval ship would have something indicating power, like Dreadnought, Dauntless, Intrepid, etc.

Certain colors tend to give an image of ferocity, danger, dread, etc.

Use the name to draw forth a description for the figurehead. For example, when the player suggested the Storm Witch, I immediately had an image in my head and could describe the figurehead to the others. A woman with hair blown about by the winds of storms.

Some ships might have a single name, like the Dragon, and others could have longer names. Come up with naming conventions by different nations or races. Elves might name their ships after stars or trees. Different human nations might emphasize something different with their ship names.

Below are some tables to mix and match and give ideas for naming ships. This could apply to naming water borne ships or spaceships.

Adjective/Noun (d10)

  1. Flying
  2. Soaring
  3. Sea
  4. Dusty
  5. Red
  6. Fast/Quick
  7. Sun
  8. Flaming
  9. Smoldering
  10. Smoking

Noun (d8)

  1. Witch
  2. Waif
  3. Spirit
  4. Sprite
  5. Dragon
  6. Kraken
  7. Merchant
  8. Maid

Sea Related Words

  1. Sea/Ocean/Waters
  2. Mist
  3. Wave
  4. Surf/Surfer
  5. Surge
  6. Storm/Tempest/Thunder
  7. Foam
  8. Deep/Depths/Abyss
  9. Whirlpool/Vortex/Eddy
  10. Maelstrom
  11. Aurora
  12. Wind/Squall
  13. Calm/Becalmed/Stagnant
  14. Shore
  15. Isle/Island
  16. Murky
  17. Shallows
  18. Reef
  19. Shoal
  20. Fathom

Ship Related Words

  1. Sail
  2. Oar
  3. Deck
  4. Plank
  5. Keel
  6. Mast

Crew Related Words

  1. Hand/Sailor/Crew
  2. Mate
  3. Captain
  4. Owner
  5. Carpenter
  6. Rigger
  7. Master
  8. Chief

Navigation

  1. Star
  2. Sun
  3. Moon
  4. Compass/Sunstone
  5. Sextant
  6. Astrolabe
  7. Eclipse
  8. Twilight
  9. Dawn
  10. Dusk
  11. Midnight
  12. Morning
  13. Evening

Type of Ship

  1. Merchant
  2. Galley/Bireme/Trireme/Longship
  3. War
  4. Pirate/Buccaneer/Privateer
  5. Escort
  6. Whaler
  7. Trawler
  8. Cruiser
  9. Caravel
  10. Corvette
  11. Ironclad
  12. Galleon

Sea Creatures

  1. Squid
  2. Octopus
  3. Turtle
  4. Whale
  5. Kraken
  6. Barracuda
  7. Shark
  8. Eel
  9. Ray/Manta/Mantaray
  10. Crab/Lobster/Crustacean
  11. Clam/Oyster
  12. Snake
  13. Crocodile
  14. Manatee
  15. Dolphin/Porpoise
  16. Trout/Bass

Other Creatures

  1. Harpy
  2. Hag/Nag
  3. Witch
  4. Dragon
  5. Wolf
  6. Chameleon
  7. Lizard
  8. Bird/Sparrow/Eagle/Hawk/Buzzard/Gull/Albatross
  9. Mermaid
  10. Nymph
  11. Horse/Mule/Pony/Stallion
  12. Cow/Bull/Bison/Buffalo
  13. Sheep/Ewe/Ram
  14. Deer/Buck/Hind/Roe
  15. Camel
  16. Hippopotamus/Behemoth

Weapons

  1. Spear/Javelin
  2. Sword
  3. Lance
  4. Dagger
  5. Trident
  6. Net
  7. Shield/Buckler
  8. Bow/Arrow/Archer/Bolt

Things

  1. Skull
  2. Rock
  3. Bone(s)
  4. Timber(s)
  5. Sand
  6. Fire/Flame
  7. Jewel(s)/Jeweled/Bejeweled
  8. Silver
  9. Gold
  10. Copper
  11. Quartz
  12. Opal

Colors

  1. Blue/Azure
  2. Green/Verdant
  3. Red
  4. Yellow
  5. Violet/Purple
  6. White
  7. Black
  8. Grey
  9. Brown
  10. Orange

Patterns

  1. Plaid
  2. Striped
  3. Barred
  4. Dotted
  5. Variegated
  6. Changing
  7. Pale
  8. Dark
  9. Scattered
  10. Hidden
  11. Mystery
  12. Geometric

Descriptor/Modifier

  1. Flying
  2. Soaring
  3. Sailing
  4. Fast
  5. Unvanquished/Undefeated/Victorious
  6. Indefatigable/Untiring/Persistent/Patient
  7. Fearless/Dreadnought/Dauntless
  8. Mighty
  9. Powerful
  10. Reliant

List of Pirate Ship Names

List of Royal Navy Ships – With links to ships that start with each letter of the alphabet.

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My Answers To Some Questions by Venger Satanis

I saw on G+ a mention by +Venger Satanis, of a new article over on his blog, about the latest OSR teapot storm, about transparency and the difference between news and paid advertising at Enworld.

I try to stay out of disagreements on the internet; but these questions struck a chord with me, and I will answer them the way I understood them. I don’t personally read Enworld. (I just looked at Enworld and their front page is a wall of text that makes my head hurt trying to focus. – Yet another reason not to read it. I’m not claiming any prizes for design on my blog, but I don’t get a headache trying to read it.) I tend to stick to the OSR related blogs that have old school games and clones as a focus.

  • Does this kind of thing (payola) bother you?
    Any site should adhere to transparency and honesty in who funds the site, and if recommendations are from a compensated review, etc. If it was a site I followed and I found that they did this, it would sour me to further interactions with that site.
  • How susceptible are you to hype, advertising, promotion, and the like?
    I may be a fish on a hook when someone in the OSR points out something they like, that I too find compelling. But I also know that about me, and can control myself. But flashy commercials, even if very clever, don’t entice me to part with my money. I have always been skeptical of them.
    I don’t like all the same things that some OSR bloggers like, and they don’t like some of the things I like. No amount of hype will be me to buy something that I look at and say, “Eh.” There is no accounting for taste. We each have different aspects to
  • Do you prefer to only hear about games from big companies with lots of advertising dollars behind them? 
    See above. Basically, word of mouth and seeing something for myself does far more than glitz to get my money.
  • Why are labels, brands, and officially authorized/licensed take-your-pick important to the average RPG consumer?
    I don’t understand it personally. Just like I don’t get how back in the 80’s girls wearing poorly made jeans that cost $50 looked down on my sturdy $10 jeans that lasted until I was out of grad school. I’m sure different people have different reasons. I bought the Greyhawk Gazeteer, but it was mostly about the maps. There are cool ideas in there, but my group had progressed to doing our own fleshed out worlds.  I know some people really like the organized play, but some of the descriptions of what is required seem far to over the top for me. I’m not one to drink the Koolaid.
  • Would you agree that creating a sense of immersion is a high priority in RPGs?
    I come from the era of theater of the mind with only a few maps and minis. Most of use love to read and have fertile imaginations, and don’t need fancy books with slick covers to bring things to life in our mind’s eye. The art may be cool, and don’t get me wrong, Trampier, Sutherland, and others of the old guard gave us iconic images that set the tone. But where we took it in each of our groups and shared experiences at the table, was far beyond that. Much of the new are is very good, even excellent. I am sure it sets a tone for those whom that it their first experience.
  • Would you also agree that rules-light RPGs are more immersive because they present less obstacles, procedures, and time devoted to looking things up?
    Immersion is created at the table. If the GM and players don’t cooperate in that, it doesn’t happen, or not very deep. What I mean by immersion is the willing suspension of disbelief one has with a movie, play, book, etc. That feeling of being able to see the action in your mind’s eye and feel a mutual sense of “we are in this thing together” with the GM and other players. This can happen with roleplaying at any point on the spectrum from merely describing what your character does, to actually “becoming” your character at the table.
  • Since crunchy and rules-heavy games are three times less likely to bring in new roleplaying blood than simple and rules-light games (yeah, I just made that statistic up – but it seems legit to me), why continue to support the former over the latter?
    There are those who like that style of play. If they ceased to get support, I am sure they would complain as loudly as those of us that don’t like that style of play. I’m all for finding the style of play that works for you, and rules that support either or both make more sense to me.
  • Is authority more important or valuable than autonomy?  
    GM’s and their players should be free to do what they want with the settings they use. If the final authority does not lie with the GM, then it isn’t an RPG I’m interested in.  One can use any setting for their campaign, even copywritten and trademarked material, if it is just the group around the table. If one goes to the expense of buying an “official” setting, one can use as little or as much as they want.
    I have read complaints that if players kill a significant monster or NPC in the prior adventure, they have no impact on that same creature being in the next adventure in the series. If the GM is not giving the players an easy kill, it should stand, if it is plausible that they defeated that NPC. Taking that power away from the GM is the biggest flaw, from my understanding of those things.
    Of course, one can take those published adventures and use what fits in their own campaigns. A subsequent adventure that the “unkillable” NPC is required, either cheats the players, or requires the GM to devise a plausible explanation why that NPC isn’t dead. However, how many times can a different dead NPC “not really be dead?”
    If the NPC is central to the following story, then it is requisite on the authors of the prior adventure to lay out all the ways it is impossible to defeat this NPC. However, to paraphrase von Moltke, “No plan of the GM survives contact with the players.”  Players never do what you expect. Unless you railroad to the point of eliminating player choice, the player’s don’t do what you expect. Even if you give them two clear options, they always find three or four more you never thought of.

Those are my answers to these eight questions. If you care what I think about this latest kerfuffle, then keep reading. Otherwise, stick to the reason for this blog: games and having fun.

My thoughts on this latest tempest:

In the era of the internet, if you spew B.S. someone will call you on it. If you don’t like it: Ignore those who call you on it, whine about it, or don’t do it anymore. Just don’t expect me to care when someone calls you on it.

The thing they should realize about +Erik Tenkar is that as a retired police office, he is trained to investigate and present evidence to the prosecutor. Erik knows the difference between slander and libel, and that truth is the only legitimate defense. Since they can’t sue, they whine. Enworld isn’t the only one in the S.S. Whines A Lot, from what other teapot storms have indicated.

I should probably steer clear of this, much as I try to keep real life politics out of my game discussions. This is the RPG version of politics. In that same vein, no matter what you do, think, or say, someone, somewhere will read all or part of something online, and accuse you of saying nowhere near what you said or meant.

Logic and reasoning are wasted on some people. As my mother used to say, “Common sense ain’t so common.” [My mother only used ain’t in things like this. If you knew her, you would understand her point in using it in this case.] Today, what so many people call common sense is just a catchphrase to use against those who disagree with your position. Ad hominem arguments, even crude and backhanded ones, run counter the the common sense demanded by truth, logic, and reasoning.

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Dice Chain To Inspire Number of Player Character Racial Enclaves

I was thinking on some of the ideas I have had for a new campaign setting, and the idea of numbers of major groups of various player character races crossed my mind. I was thinking how to use the dice chain for something else, and this idea just jelled.

Below is how I am considering using it for this specific campaign setting. There is nothing to stop you from using a dice chain with all the various dice you have. One could also mix in story cubes to get a back story for each “nation”. If you don’t have gnomes in your world, skip them. If you want some races to be even more rare, use different dice to represent them, or make their enclaves smaller and further apart. There are so many other tools that one could use to build details. Tables, cards, dice, PDF’s, novels, TV, and movies each have something they could inspire.

One does not have to go into great detail, just make a note about that race with the number. For example, below I have the four shires, meaning four groups of halflings. They could be in a federation or confederation arrangement for mutual defense and trade.

For the dwarves, the idea of a lost kingdom sounded appealing, so in common parlance, it is the seven kingdoms of the dwarves. This gave me the idea that dwarves would call mithril and other hard to obtain things as rare as the eighth kingdom. This generates an air of history, mystery, and legend without much effort at a complex list of names and dates and charts. It leaves room to add them later, but they are not needed at the start.

Multiple groups of each race brings up the possibilities of rivalries, historic ties, and intrigue between members of each group. This would be in addition to any such things happening with the various groups within each kingdom. Add into the mix relations with other races, and it’s politics where ever you go.

Politics and factions arise in groups of all sizes. Families, neighborhoods, villages, baronies, kingdoms, regions, continents, etc. Families go from the basic unit to extended families, to descendants of the children of a common ancestor. Neighborhoods have those that are older and established vs. the newcomer, or other such division. Villages, towns, and cities have competing factions whether by neighborhood, guild, or class. Baronies have divisions between townsfolk and rural folk. Such divisions scale. Baronies more distant from the seat of the king are seen as backward and uncouth. Newer kingdoms more recently cut from the wilds are seen as inferior to long established kingdoms and empires.

Enemies over trading rights become staunch allies when faced with invasion by a mutual enemy. It can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. It is far simpler to have one simple rivalry and one simple commonality between each neighboring “kingdom.” Let the course of play reveal an increase in the number of conflicts or points of mutual interest. Or the initial single point of interest and conflict might be broadened and deepened during the growth of the campaign through play.

As is evident, in my case, a relatively simple idea has sparked my creative juices, and I see all kinds of possibilities. My goal is not to get mired in the details. While I might have four halfling shires, and seven dwarven kingdoms, I don’t need their official names, names of rulers, or location at this time. Adventurers need not be educated about the scope of the world, or even access to maps of the world. They only need a general idea that the four shires are in the east, for example. Unless they are a halfling, they won’t know more than that.

All of this is just a framework or placeholders for ideas. Not all ideas will work into play. Only those ideas that come into play are worth expansion. The most work and detail needs to go into the starting location and surrounding region. This concept easily transfers to any set of rules or genre. For science fiction, it could be how many star systems, star bases, capital ships, etc. a given group has. Narrow the focus to a city and it indicates number of neighborhoods with each group in the city. Use a roll of the die assigned to a given group to generate a random number for whatever place in the setting it is needed. I think that it is a simple enough concept that you don’t need a table, other than as an example or reminder. If you forget and use the “wrong” die, it won’t hurt.

Dice Chain for Number of Nations/Enclaves of Each Race

Original D&D Dice Chain, as I knew it: (One can roll the dice, or take the maximum from each die, or any number that makes sense for your vision of your campaign.)

d4 – Halflings – The four Shires.
d6 – Gnomes – Burrows for dwellings and grouped in clans.
d8 – Dwarves – The Seven Kingdoms of the Dwarves, the 8th Kingdom is lost in mystery.
d10 – Elves – Ten major enclaves of Elves. Could be wood, valley, high, grey, or other groupings.
d12 – Humans – 12 major nations/peoples. Nations with “fixed” borders, or groups of nomads with claims on seasonal lands.
d20 – 20 other groupings of Humanoids, potential other player races.

Half-elves and Half-Orcs would tend to be mixed in with one of their parent’s communities, or isolated communities where they settle.

There are six dice in the above dice chain. Use a d6 to determine which die to roll to determine number of clans in a dwarven kingdom, or how many tribes of orcs. These could always be those that are known. The world is a big place and magic, interdimensional portals, and the like can explain away any sudden appearance when it is “known” that there are no more X in the world.

What die to roll for number of factions/groups/divisions at this level? (d6) (Level can be city, kingdom, continent, etc.) For example, how many major guilds are in the capital city? Of course, if you roll 20, you may be re-thinking the work that would involve, so as always, change it to suit your needs. A good one would be, how many regiments can be mustered, if you don’t want to calculate detailed population metrics. If you roll a d4 and a 1, or a 1 on any die, what story would you come up with to only have one regiment that the king can count on? Rebellion, civil war, invasion, natural disaster, dragon?

  1. d4
  2. d6
  3. d8
  4. d10
  5. d12
  6. d20

DCC style dice chain (d14) or d16

  1. d2
  2. d3
  3. d4
  4. d5
  5. d6
  6. d7
  7. d8
  8. d10
  9. d12
  10. d14
  11. d16
  12. d20
  13. d24
  14. d30
  15. d50
  16. d100
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Gamehole Con 2016 – Registration Complete!

Well, I did it. I got registered for games at Gamehole Con. I didn’t pay attention and tried to do too many special events, so I didn’t get the Hobby Shop Dungeon. Well, maybe at GaryCon….

The list I have will keep me booked solid all day Friday from 10 am to midnight. I probably better make sure I’m well rested before then…..

Saturday I’ll be going from 10 am to midnight again with two games, but with a two hour break between them.

Sunday I’m in in two games from 10 am to 4 pm.

I thought about bringing stuff to run impromptu games, but not sure when I’d fit that in.

Here’s what I’m signed up for below. I hope I get to interact with those I so far only know from online. (With affiliate links to games at DriveThruRPG.)

Fri 10 AM – A Stay at the Warden Hotel – Metamorphosis Alpha by Jim Ward

Fri 02 PM – DGS Presents: One In the Gun, Four On the Floor – 2nd Ed Gamma World with Chad Parish (I only ever played 1st edition. I have a copy of 2nd edition I picked up a while back, will have to look it over. I can compare to a 1st edition copy I picked up.)

Fri 08 PM – Mythus Tower – Swords & Wizardry with Bill Webb (I played in Bill Web’s game at UCon last year and have a dwarf character he said can be used in any of his games, I just need to find it….)

Sat 10 AM – The Cave of Wisdom – AD&D with Luke Gygax

Sat 06 PM – Gaming & BS Presents: Relagul’s Quest & The Secret Temple of Bast – AD&D with Nicholas Abruzzo

Sun 10 AM – Escape From The Purple PlanetDCC with Jon Hershberger

Sun 12 PM – The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence – Crimson Dragon Slayer with Venger Satanis  (Never read this one or played. Something different to try. I’m sure the level of tiredness by Sunday afternoon will contribute to the hilarity.)

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Software – Update Post

I originally wrote about the software I use here, way back in July, 2009. While linking another article, I realized that I need to update where things are now with the software I use.

My old dual boot PC was replaced by a dual boot laptop, but the screen went out, not completely, but very hard to read. I could never get Linux to recognize the other screen, so I was mostly using it in Windows. I replaced it with the computer I have now. It started as Windows 7, and is now Windows 10. I intended to set it up to dual boot and use Linux, but I didn’t do it right away, so now I’m leery of messing it up. I just need a new PC dedicated to Linux.

I thought Windows 7 was a good step up from Windows XP. I avoided Vista like the plague after seeing what clients who used it had to go through. I tried the pre-release trial of Windows 8 in a VM and I could immediately tell it was not meant for desktop use. I had to google how to shut it down.

Once, I even had an encounter, at an airport fast food place, with a Microsoft developer. Before I knew who he was, he asked my opinion about Windows 8. I was honest, it was not built for people who needed to get work done on the desktop. I didn’t know of any of our clients that used a touchscreen monitor for their desktop, or who had the patience for such a radical change. I didn’t understand why Microsoft had to rename and hide everything in each new OS. I also complained about a change in office. It used to be really easy to do mail merge, and they moved it, so I looked like an idiot in front of a client because I couldn’t figure it out with them watching. I couldn’t find it in help either. I don’t like the ribbon. It is only because I know the shortcuts for things that I can do some of what I used to do. [The latest version of MS Office broke the shortcuts I use for some things. I only have to use it every day at work….] He then explained that he worked for Microsoft on Windows 8. He appreciated what I had to say. I think things like that lead to Windows 8.1.

I still use NoteTab, that I mentioned here yesterday.

Firefox was just too slow, so I switched to Chrome.  Since Chrome is by Google, it integrates with all the Google apps well. With the recent changes that are coming with G+, I’m not sure what changes I’ll see in the near future.

G+ was new and has become a place where I consume most of my game material. It allows for quick and easy interaction with others in the hobby. Losing events will be a challenge to be solved. It is very important to my online gaming.

Microsoft now has a print to PDF option, so even though I have CutePDF installed, I rarely use that option.

I switched from Open Office to LibreOffice for the same reasons many others did. Both are free and are a good replacement for MS-Office.

I re-read the entire article and more than just software and computers have changed. I mentioned my now ex-wife. It doesn’t matter what she thinks. I introduced the boys to AD&D after she moved out and we had a blast. We were playing almost every week for several months. I keep hoping things will work out to play more, but they never seem to.

I also mentioned playing table top RPG’s over the internet as something I didn’t think I could do. Now I am in a regular Wednesday night AD&D game on Roll20 that just has session 120 and is well into its third year. I have also ran my own Metamorphosis Alpha campaign, that I thought I would have gotten back to long ago.

I have been to six conventions since then, ran my first convention game and several others, met new friends in real life and online. I have two conventions planned for November, GameHole and UCon, and have my gold ticket for March’s GaryCon. I’m running four different games at UCon in November, and need to get the focus on them and get them done. In a couple of hours, I will finalize my registration for GameHole Con, my first time to check it out.

I got to meet a lot of the old guard from the early days at GaryCon 8 and I got a lot of autographs.

I also found a local group focused on DCC, but we are on a long hiatus.

Kickstarter’s aplenty have been backed. Which reminds me, again, that I have updates on those to post.

I jumped back into this blog with the 40th anniversary of D&D, and posted every day for several months and actually have people who ready my blog. That lead to my current involvement with Multiverse.

I even jumped into NaNoWriMo a couple years ago, and got most of the novel idea  that I had way back in college into a first draft.  Sigh…. I still have 5 or 6 chapters to go to actually have a complete first draft. Too many things to fix around the house and not enough cash to pay someone to do it.

 

 

 

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Campaign Idea – The Broken Lands

The Broken Lands – This name comes from the topography that is marked by the effects of earthquakes. Earthquakes were once common in the area, but are now beyond living memory. This will make valleys, bluffs, plateaus, swamps, and any other feature fit. Volcanism or other processes, including magic or gigantic creatures, could be the source of the quakes. The variation in the terrain will allow for creatures of any type. Mountains high enough for cold based creatures in summer, Wet & swampy regions, areas of mountains high enough to block the rains and have arid/desert regions.

Living memory suddenly changes with the earthquake that uncovered a buried structure. (Vault of the Broken Lands? Secret of the Broken Lands? Mystery/Mysteries of the Broken Lands?) This leads to the possible questions: Why an earthquake now,? Can the cause be determined? What is in the buried structure? This area will be the best available farmland in the area, but it is remote and off the beaten path/main trade routes. While officially part of the kingdom and claimed by one or more neighboring kingdoms, it is a march/borderland and is wild. Only the occasional bandit or ravaging monster has come around in recent years, lulling all into a sense of peace and security.

This abruptly changes the focus for the locals, the region, kingdom, and neighboring kingdoms. This is the hook that brings fresh adventurers to the area. This refreshes the minds of elders about stories of the creatures and adventurers of old.

As a new campaign, the initial setting will be centered in a human kingdom, and the first PC’s will be human. It takes time for word to spread and non-human treasure seekers (of 1st level) to show up. Non-human NPC’s of more power, whether in levels, politics, wealth, or other connections/measures will be possible.

This lets the initial players and their first characters in the campaign have a hand in shaping the way it develops.

New player characters will be average character level – 1, but no higher than the lowest level character. So if the average is 4th level, but the lowest level is 3, start at 3rd level.

Leveling up – simplified – Once have enough XP to level must return to civilization/secure and well supplied base/name level stronghold and rest up and re-supply for a week. For treasure to count for XP it has to be returned to civilization with the players.

Smoke Mountain, Smoking Mountain, Fuming Mountain, Fire Mountain, Dragon Spire, Dragon’s Spire, Dragon’s Maw

COOL! – I was thinking of a volcanism and earthquake defined region, and wanted something like Death Valley (140 miles long), and found the terms graben and horst, and then the jackpot, the Basin and Range Province. It is 170,000 square miles (for example: 500 x 340). It covers a huge area in the US southwest and northeast Mexico. It is all terrain I have never seen, except in TV and movies. But I have seen similar, smaller examples in Colorado. There are numerous features affected by volcanoes and various faults. There are plenty of barriers that would make large “uninhabited”/”uncivilized” regions, and multiple kingdoms. Having border areas on the perimeter that are the more stable heartlands of the greater kingdoms/nations, makes for the far off influence of the kings/rulers/government less immediate.

This area in the real world is home to copper, gold, and silver mining. Mountains would be a good place for dwarves, and areas of isolated forests would be good places for elves. Lost valleys of the Pleistocene, or isolated plateaus full of dinosaurs. Aliens, inter-dimensional rifts, and so forth are all fair game.

Having a bit of real world analog to help inform my imagination is helpful, but it is a game and in no way requires me to stick to the way things are in the real world.

I had another idea in the pipeline, but the idea hit me, so I put it down. I plan to take bits and pieces of my current campaign and other unrealized ideas, and make the current center of action somewhat far off from this new area. I have ideas that I didn’t leave a good place for in my original campaign concept that was more top down than bottom up design. I need a different map for my original campaign anyway, it didn’t fit for how I was trying to use it. It didn’t impact the players, but it didn’t really fit for what was developing in my mind’s eye. It’s a great map my brother did for me, but it didn’t afford all the cool terrain that I wanted available for all the things I want to do. I want just enough map detail for a starting area, and a general concept of what is around it, so that there is flexibility to make a place for the specifics that grab the player’s interest.

Having the geologically active region known from the start makes it easy to have some sort of geological activity happen to alter the landscape or reveal something new. This makes the world living in a sense that there is more rapid and long-lasting change to its appearance than in other locations.

Just writing out notes in my preferred text editor, NoteTab*, the ideas just don’t want to stop. I keep jotting down notes of cool ideas that I don’t want to forget. Just when I think I’m done, another idea pops into my mind. It’s great to have the creative juices on overdrive, but not when it is time to go to bed. Even though I have what is now today off, I still need to get sleep and deal with the requirements of adulting.

*See these past articles where I discuss NoteTab. Software, Notes, 30 posts in 60 days [I forgot about this one.], Tools, Written vs. Typed, and NaNoWriMo. I even have my name in the acknowledgements of the help file for my contributions to testing over the years. I don’t want to take the time to learn how to do all the things in another editor that I can do with NoteTab, as I have better things to do.

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Starting Session – Suggestion/Forget

I woke in the dark to take care of biological necessities and had an idea cross my mind, so I put it quickly into Evernote (the free version). I don’t know if it was from a dream or just the weird ideas that go through my brain from time to time. It would make for an interesting start to the adventure. It could be really interesting with a new party of fresh adventurers, AKA 1st level.
The party rides into town people give them dumb looks. Especially when they ask questions that they should know the answer.
Woman runs up and screams, “Where’s Horace?” [I have no clue where that name came from. I don’t know anyone by that name.]
Later the party finally finds Horace, and he is: dead, undead, alive, evil infested, etc.
Of course, the entire question of “Where’s Horace?” could be dragged on for multiple adventures to an entire campaign.
Horace could be a lantern bearer, or other young lad helping out the party, or could even be a member of the party that some magic affected the party causing them to forget him entirely. They approach the village from the direction of their original approach to the village.
One thought is to start each player with 500 experience points. They have no idea why, perhaps not even questioning it.
Let the ideas that the players themselves blurt out inform the tale of what happened to Horace. Not the whole cloth, but take the interesting bits and snippets.
Of course, this would only work with those who haven’t heard this idea, to get the fullest effect.
The GM will need a default story line to explain things, if the player’s musings are not of much help. But that’s one open ended idea that really got me to thinking about how to handle a random question like that.
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Sandbox Idea

I wrote about an idea for a new campaign setting last week. Last night I had an idea for the starting point for the sandbox.

An earthquake rocks a region near a village. The ground opens up and reveals a structure beneath that releases creatures that raid and terrorize the village. Some local hero/adventurer types kill/drive off the creatures, find the buried structure/dungeon, discover great wealth within and word soon spreads. These adventurers could have retired or set themselves up as local power/authority figures, or all been killed in their greed for more.

This premise sets up the whole thing to use a module featuring a dungeon, a commercial megadungeon, or developing my own. The level of flexibility with this is enormous.

Of course, this leads to a boom town with new found wealth that garners the attention of the far off king, who sends a newly ennobled baron, a younger son of a noble to come in and restore order and make sure taxes are collected. This will be a challenge to players, and the degree of taxes taken will depend on how law-abiding the players and other adventurers are, and how lawful and honest the new baron is.

The PC’s hear about this chance for riches and glory, and arrive with lots of others to make their fortune. The damage, from the creatures, to part of the village is seen on the homes & buildings closest to the hole in the earth. Earthquake damage is also evident. Merchants, innkeepers, thieves, and oh so many others have shown up and changed a once sleepy farming village into a boom town that is the center of attention for miles around. Think of a gold rush town, but with magic and monsters. One cold place this in any genre, not just fantasy. Weird West, Sorcerous Space, etc. Or take out the magic and just be technology, whatever suits you.

The native villagers are in shock at the sudden changes to their way of life. Farmers will be chasing people off their fields. This could lead to a localized famine if the crop is poor from all the digging.

Of the various ideas I have had to pull this together, many can be implemented before or after gameplay starts to make things more dynamic. A timeline of events leading up to and after the earthquake would also help move things along.

Ideas:

Make this a one-off introduction to the campaign. This would call for a small dungeon that is soon tapped out.

Make this the center of attention for the sandbox with a megadungeon.

Formerly sleepy area of kingdom that has not seen much trouble for generations, near a kingdom that has been at peace, but the sudden surge in wealth has many claiming ancient rights to the spoils and demanding their fair share. Documents, maps, patents, deeds, genealogies, etc. All presented to back up claims to land, mineral rights, etc.

What might have caused the earthquake? Why now? Who is interested in this?

Supply caravans lose guards and others seeking their fortune. Some merchants come in on a caravan, but set up shop selling supplies at exorbitant prices to adventurers.

Mines/Miners – non-adventuring types will be digging for treasure, not caring to risk life and limb in the dungeon. Pre-cut stone is gathered from the structure as all newer groups have used prior construction materials again.

Local farmer/crafter sets up an inn, uses materials from buildings of the slain families to build/expand.

Constable. – Native villager appointed/elected/selected by town to keep peace/order. Active before arrival of the baron. Baron can arrive before or after game play starts.

When baron and his force arrives, they set a levy and require the able bodied to build a low wall and ditch around the town with watchtowers at each approach. The underground structure is mined for building materials and is like kicking an ant nest….

If a megadungeon, there will be some other entrance(s) that keep re-populating the dungeon. If they dig too deep too fast or venture too deep too fast, they could attract the attention of a lot of bad things….

Place other NPC’s and static encounters around the sandbox. Note which ones were there before the earthquake, and which are new arrivals since. Are any new arrivals due to what the earthquake has revealed? An old hedge witch/wizard would be there before, do they know anything about the structure?

Sages, scholars, and wizards interested in ancient things might show up.

Local village cleric/druids overwhelmed. Shrines set up to strange and foreign gods. NOTE: Idea of the powers and work that in to it.

Other farmsteads in surrounding area.

Fallen towers, other ruins, caves, sinkholes, etc.

Rival gangs of adventurers. As with any boom town situation, one of them has a level of clout/influence the others don’t and takes advantage of it. Turf wars/claim disputes/etc. This may or may not be the original “heroes”. Calls for generating multiple rival adventuring parties.

Tavern Name: The Fallen Paladin – either a heroic paladin fell in battle saving the town, or fell from grace….

Thieves guild of nearest city/large town moves in to get their piece of the action. Or a thief of sufficient level moves in to set up his or her own guild.

 

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Seven Years – I missed it!

July 18 is the anniversary of this blog. This past July marked seven years since I started this journey.

I was reflecting on what to write about next, and the idea of “Why blog at all?” I have written about it before, My Take On Blogging About RPG’s.” I found re-reading that a good reminder of how I do things.

For me, blogging is as much about sharing my ideas as it is cataloging them for later. I touch on a variety of topics, and follow other blogs with ideas that interest me. Reading about how others do things gives me ideas and helps me to be a better player and GM. Interacting with those same people increases the circle of friendship and makes it a cool experience to finally meet and play together in real life at conventions.

I may take breaks from the blog when the well of ideas runs dry for the moment, or hectic times with work, or situations with family that require a change of focus.

I view this blog as the stake in the ground. It gives me a focus to come back to. It invites others to share my ideas and give me feedback. It is a tool that I find helpful. I can search it to find what I have written in the past and read it months or years later with fresh eyes. Even the limited writing I do helps scratch that itch I have to write.

I hope to keep blogging as long as I’m able to play RPG’s. I’m coming up on 39 years of playing D&D in the Spring. Four more decades of life with RPG’s sounds like a good time to me!

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Ramblings of an Old Gamer