Jul
25

Author:

5 Comments

News

Every day, most of this week, I’m sitting down with the manuscript of For the Killing of Kings and slowly reading it aloud. I’m addressing any copyeditor questions and suggestions, and also making some minor tweaks. This is the next to last chance for me to make any changes, and the last real chance to make any substantive changes — adding entire lines and paragraphs and the like. I’ll have a final shot to correct typos, but this is about it. So it’s kind of important.

GenCon is taking place next week, and I’m looking forward to that. I’ve been leafing through some cool game stuff I traded away for on my birthday. One of my favorite acquisitions is a compilation of the first four issues of Fight On! magazine. I’m late to the party, for I think at this point the magazine is defunct. If the first four issues are anything to go by, it’s a wonderful resource for creative old school gaming, with inventive adventures and hex crawls and dungeons, suggestions for alternate rules and classes, and various other goods that are quite inspiring. It really is a treasure trove. Read More

Jul
24

Author:

Comment

Calamityware

If you’ve ever thought to yourself, well, fine china is cool, but it needs more sasquatches, giant robots, and sea monsters, have I got a site for you.

Why settle for the ordinary when you’re hosting a fancy dinner party?

Seriously, these things are cool. My friend Nick pointed these out to me a few weeks ago and I thought it high time I share them. Visit the Calamityware site and look around!

I am nose to the grindstone for the next week, so my posts are apt to be a little less frequent. Bear with me — I’m getting important writing work done.

Jul
20

Author:

2 Comments

Tabletop Gaming: Hexcrawls, Campaign Settings, & Adventures

In my last entry in this four-part series, intended to be of use to fellow gamers when they pop by RPGNow in the upcoming Christmas in July sale, I’m discussing some more of my favorite game mastering tools. And I’m going to cheat.

I get a lot of my adventure advice from the review columns written by Bryce Lynch over at Ten Foot Pole. Bryce ruthlessly looks at every adventure he can lay his hands on, and mostly he finds things he doesn’t like. When he DOES enjoy an adventure, though, it’s almost always for the same reasons I like a pre-packaged adventure — cool places to visit, neat things to interact with, great characters to meet, a compelling hook, prose that’s engaging and organized, treasures beyond the ordinary, and so on. And like me, he despises the Tomb of Horrors and similarly styled player killer adventures. He also shares my love of strange faerie elements and bits from folklore.

I differ with his preferences only a little in that A.) I’m not as big a fan of mixing in weird science fiction elements into my fantasy settings, aka “gonzo” material (but Bryce always indicates whether the adventure includes those) and B.) I’ve yet to run a megadungeon that my players care for. The latter places me in the minority of game players, I guess. It seems like every other game master I meet has his players in a megadungeon.

With that preamble out of the way, allow me to point you towards the best adventures listed on Bryce Lynch’s Ten Foot Pole site. And then permit me to point you towards his “no regerts” category (yes, that’s spelled that way on purpose) where he lists the runner-up adventures, some of which I’ve found just as good as those on his best-of list. Look closely, because some of those on both lists are actually FREE. That’s right, wonderful, top-rated free adventures, like the one in the picture there. Bryce’s thumbnails don’t always indicate if they’re free, so look around.

Read More

Jul
18

Author:

Comment

Tabletop Gaming: Tableside Resources

Some of the resources I’ve talked about in previous articles are actually useful both as adventure/campaign building resources, and as table side resources, meaning that they’re helpful both during prep time and when you’re actually running the game. As I mentioned, these are just the ones I’ve read and liked best. If you’re aware of others, please share.

Tableside resources are the items you keep on hand to help you riff with descriptions, or to add a little detail that can entertain the players or bring the environment to life. I’ve previously mentioned the Raging Swan Press books like 20 Things I, II, and III, and I Loot the Body, and you definitely ought to be familiar with those and have them on hand. Ultimate Toolbox and the D30 books I mentioned last time have some wonderful aids as well.

Tabletop Adventures has some mighty entries in this entire category. If you need some interesting things to see if your players are walking through some caverns, or the plains, or the wilderness, or if you need some extra little incidents or a few extra rooms or curious land features, you can keep these cards on hand. They come in all kinds of flavors, like Bits of Dungeon, Dungeon II, Bits of Darkness: Caverns or Bits of the Boulevard (and more). And then there’s the whole Into series, like Into the Mountains or Into the Swamp or Into the Wildwood or Into the Open. In each supplement you get fantastic details that help bring the particular setting to life – the characteristics of a temperate forest versus a deciduous forest, say, and the kind of flora and fauna typical of each. Sometimes you even get a weird new monster to encounter as well. I’m pleased to have them all. Read More

Jul
17

Author:

2 Comments

Tabletop Gaming: Campaign & Adventure Design

As I mentioned last week, RPGNow has a Christmas in July sale coming up soon, so I’m taking a look at my favorite tabletop gaming resources. I’ve accumulated a lot of them over the years, so I’ve divided a discussion of the tools across multiple articles. I last looked at treasure. This time, I’m looking at third-party game products that are full of creative lists and descriptions, advice about campaign and adventure design, and adventure seeds.

It may be that there are some excellent ones out there that I haven’t read — if so, let me know. Here, though, are the ones I most use.

Ultimate Toolbox is an expanded reimagining of the earlier Toolbox, both from Alderac. Ultimate Toolbox lacks the 3.0/3.5 statblocks of its predecessor, and it ports over almost (but not quite all) the rest of the material from the original book. But then it adds scads more simply great stuff. You want to design your campaign world, or generate some tavern drinks, or toss some riddles into your campaign or name some dwarfs or, danged near anything else you can think of, this is a must have, both during adventure prep and while you’re running the game. I’d never part with this book.

Read More

Writing

Editorial Choices

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Back in May, my friend Keith asked for a few more details about what goes on behind the scenes at a magazine. Specifically, he wrote: “I’d love to…

Novel Lessons 4: Stalking the Beast

Monday, June 18, 2018

After delivering a draft of The Bones of the Old Ones and while waiting upon editorial comments I wrote my second Pathfinder novel, Stalking the Beast. And while it…

Updated Hard Writing Lesson: Word Count

Monday, June 11, 2018

I’ve run out of time to write a lengthy essay this morning about my fourth book, so I’ll resume that series of essays next week. Today I thought…

Writing Notecards

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Sometimes I re-learn writing lessons without pain. Or maybe I should say sometimes what I know is a good writing technique gets confirmed, because I actually remember to…

Novel Lessons 3: The Bones of the Old Ones

Monday, June 4, 2018

Three weeks ago I mentioned that it had taken me a year, writing in my spare time, to create the first Dabir and Asim novel, The Desert of…