Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Important Elements of Horror Gaming

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. As a fan of horror literature and movies, I absolutely love this time of the year and I take every opportunity I can to enjoy the macabre. One of the ways I do this is by running a horror-themed game or adventure near the end of the month (I did so last Saturday actually).

Horror, unlike fantasy or science fiction, is a little bit harder to as a table-top game. The GM has to be careful when building that sense of dread and terror and one wrong step can cause the whole concept to crumble. Also, if the players are not willing to buy into the concept and play along with the concept, the game will quickly unravel (This is true for any game really, but its especially true about horror games). 

Now, let's say you've thrown the idea out to your players and they seem interested. You have an adventure in mind, but you're nervous that you might fail to deliver on the horrifying elements and the game might end up being a complete dud. Well, there are a handful of elements you can focus on that will you run a successful horror-themed game (or let you add some horror elements to your existing game if that's your goal). Those elements are Mood, Mystery, and Tension

Mood is probably the easiest of the elements to capture. When describing a location or setting up a situation, focus on the elements that would make the location or situation creepy. For example, let's say your characters are traveling down a country road that leads to an abandoned mansion one of the characters recently inherited. To set the mood for the horror to come, you can focus on the isolated nature of the country road and the derelict nature of the mansion. Describe how the floor boards creak underneath their feet and and the only source of light seems to be the sunlight slipping through the tattered curtains. Focus on those details that will help create that sense of dread and uneasiness that will get your character's on edge. 

Creating a sense of mystery about things also helps as well. Basically, its working on the "Less is More" idea where the less you know about something, the more mysterious and creepy it can be. For example, lets say your characters go into the basement of this mansion and you know there is a ghoul warren hidden underneath the house. When they finally encounter these ghouls, you could call them by name, but that takes away the mystery of the creature. Instead, only describe them physically. Call attention to their gaunt frames and pale flesh, their talon-like fingers and rotten teeth, and the stench of carrion that hangs around them. Keep the characters guessing about the true nature of the creature, what its motivations are, what it will and won't do, why exactly is this thing here, how long has it been here, and so on. While the characters can discover these things as they play the adventure, the mystery should still be there and you should use it to add that fear of the unknown. 

Finally, remember to build tension to make the moments of horror more effective. For example, we have the ghoul warrens underneath this abandoned mansion. The characters discover a trap door in a cellar that leads to the warrens. Now, you could have them open the trap door and two ghouls pop out and growl at them, but that's not scary. Instead, you drop hints about what might lie beyond this trap door. You mention a few scratch marks on the door and the ground surrounding it, and a faint rotten smell hanging around it. When they open it and drop down into the warrens, you mention how the stench seems to grow worse the further they delve, and bones litter the floors of the cave. As they draw closer to the ghouls, tell them they start to hear the sound of something eating, tearing and clawing away. All of these elements help build the tension that will be released when the ghouls spring their attack. It, like mood, will help put the players on edge as well. 

While there are other elements you could throw into the game as well, like taking the normal and twisting it into something abnormal, the three above elements are the most important in my opinion. Focus on them, implement them, and build upon them to help make your horror games better. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Random Inspiration: A Zombified Hex Crawl

Well, this should be fun...
Recently, I've been reading World War Z by Max Brooks and I'm loving it. I love well-written zombie fiction and its really interesting to see how the entire world my react and slowly adapt to a zombie apocalypse. Now that I'm close to finishing the book, I really want to run a zombie apocalypse campaign using some of the ideas presented in the novel.

While the campaign is still in the "cool idea" phase and I have no immediate plans to run it (I still have my Pathfinder game to worry about), I've been thinking about what system I would use and how I'd run the game. Last night, an idea popped into my head: Why not run the game as a hex crawl?

The game would take place a few months after the initial outbreaks and chaos. The players would belong to a group of survivors who have discovered an abandoned facility (I'm favoring a small military base at the moment) and have set-up a small community there. The characters would then be sent out into the surrounding wilderness to gather supplies, raid abandoned stores, and the like. Like a normal hex crawl, the players would explore a large hex map while on these missions, each hex containing different sites and encounters. For example, they might discover a small farm house inhabited by a family who has resorted to cannibalism due to the shortage of food or a wrecked RV filled with supplies, but surrounded by the living dead. Anything's possible really.

If I were to run a zombie hex crawl, I'd make sure to add some wandering zombies into the mix as well. For example, when the characters move out into the wilderness, there would be a chance of them running into a wandering group of undead. I'd probably represent this by a percentage roll that would be modified by the character's actions (if they were being very loud and drawing attention to themselves, that percentage would go up). I'd also focus on resource management, since those resources will raise the chance of the characters and their group surviving the apocalypse.

So, what do you guys think? Do you think a zombified hex crawl would be an interesting idea? How would you run such a campaign?

Friday, October 25, 2013

My RPG Person Proflie

Two posts in one day?! This is madness I tell you, madness!!

Anyway, I saw this little form over on Playing D&D With Porn Stars and I'd thought I'd fill it out as well because its a cool idea and I want to join in on the fun.

I'm currently running (at home): Pathfinder

Tabletop RPGs I'm currently playing (at home) include: See above 

I'm currently running (online): Nothing

Tabletop RPGs I'm currently playing (online) include: Nothing

I would especially like to play/run: Call of Cthulhu, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Mutants & Masterminds, Numenera, & Sword & Wizardry. 

...but would also try: Fate & Torchbearer

I live in: Gilmer, Texas 

2 or 3 well-known RPG products other people made that I like: Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Mutants & Masterminds, Pathfinder 

2 or 3 novels I like: A Song of Ice & Fire series, Anything by Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, & Lovecraft. 

2 or 3 movies I like: Dark City, John Carptenter's The Thing, and Anything by Guillermo Del Toro. 

Best place to find me on-line: Facebook or Google Plus (The Plus button on my keyboard is broken). 

I will read almost anything on tabletop RPGs if it's: Presenting an interesting take on something, presents some cool stuff that I can use in my campaigns, or is well-written and interesting to read. 

I really do not want to hear about: How your game better than someone else's game and how they're stupid for not realizing this. 

I think dead orc babies are ( circle one: funny / problematic / ....well, ok, it's complicated because....) A trap that causes groups to break out into arguments of morality instead of just having fun and playing the game.

((Most of the last stuff doesn't apply to me yet, so I decided to skip it for now. Hopefully, I can change that in the future.))

I talk about RPGs on Facebook under the name Cody Connelly

Heroes of Sandpoint: The Lure of Greed

The Town of Sandpoint, The Light of the Lost Coast
Recently, I ran the first session of my new Pathfinder campaign. As the name implies, the campaign is set in Sandpoint, a prosperous town located on the coast of Varisia in the Pathfinder Campaign Setting. Unlike previous campaigns, I plan to make this game a little bit more episodic and focus more on the characters and their growth as adventurers instead of some complicated metaplot. I thought it would also be fun to post regular re-caps of each session here. I'm going to do my best to keep everything short and spoiler-free as well. 

Our Cast of Characters
  • Alfgeir Stannisson, a Ulfen Cleric of Gorum who has traveled from the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, hoping to become a great hero like his ancestors. 
  • Fiona of Sandpoint, a Varisian Rogue who has spent most of her lives on the streets of the coastal town, doing whatever she can to survive. 
  • Jon Silverbow, an Elf Ranger who hails from the Mierani Forest of northern Varisia who has a deep hatred for goblinoids. 
  • Ongar, a Half-Orc Paladin who has dedicated his life to the goddess Sarenrae and hopes to spread her redeeming light wherever he goes. 
  • Tywin, a Half-Elf Sorcerer from the shadowy realm of Nidal who has traveled far and wide in search of vengeance against someone who has wronged him. 

The session began, like most do, in the Rusty Dragon Inn of Sandpoint. The characters had been drawn to the tavern by the town's sage, Brodert Quink, who wished to hired them to travel into the surrounding hinterlands and find his missing niece, Lucendi. While Ongar was the first to show interest in the old man's plight, the others eventually agreed to help after being promised a decent reward. 

After purchasing some horses from the town's stables, the party made their way down the Lost Coast Road, with the Jon at the lead, using his survival skills to make sure they stayed on track and didn't get lost. After a few hours of travel, the party decided to retire for the night and made camp along the eastern border of the Tickwood. As they relaxed by the fire, the group was ambushed by a large group of goblins. Thankfully, the group managed to handle their attacks with a well-timed sleep spell from Tywin. While most of the goblins were either killed or fled, the party managed to capture two of them and interrogate the pair. 

They learned the goblins were dedicated to an entity known as the "Snake Mistress" who was supposedly a goblin once that was cursed for being greedy. The also say they've moved into one of the old ruins in the nearby Tors, having attacked a archaeological dig that was taking place. Knowing Quink's daughter left with a cleric of Nethys on an archaeological dig to the same region, the characters make a deal with the goblins and they lead them back to their new lair. 

After arriving at the camp and using the shade of night for cover, the party ambushed and easily overtook the goblin camp. After which, they took the time to heal a man who turned out to be one of the dig's guards. Now conscious, he told the characters that Lucendi and the cleric Marsoolian had escaped into the ruins, with the goblin's leader eagerly chasing after them. With this new knowledge, the characters entered the ancient ruins. 

The group quickly found the leader of the goblins, a goblin snake sorceress named Tethiqqa. After defeating the wicked creature, the party discovered a secret passage that lead to a series of hidden chambers underneath the ruins, figuring Lucendi and Marsoolian had traveled down there. They quickly moved through the chambers, only being slowed by a elaborate pit trap that almost took the life of the sorcerer (who was thankfully revived after Fiona force-fed him a healing potion she had stolen from the ranger earlier). 

The party finally found Lucendi, on the flood slowly bleeding to death with the cleric standing before her and a armored skeleton laughing maniacally over them. Figuring the skeleton was trying to kill the two, the party joined the fray and managed to take down the undead champion. However, they quickly discovered this was all a ruse when Marsoolian, smiling wickedly, blasted them with negative energy and tried to kill them. Earlier in the dig, the cleric had discovered a strange book that cursed him when he red it, turning him evil. He had taken control of the skeleton and used it to attack Lucendi. The party retaliated and, sadly, killed the cleric. Alfgeir quickly healed Lucendi's wounds and returned her to her uncle and the party received their reward. 

((Note: I used a modified version of the Lure of Greed adventure from Wayfinder #7. Also I'd like to thank Fiona's player, Drew McClain, for sending me a re-cap last week. It really helped me when writing this post))

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Simplified Sundering for Pathfinder

Art By Wayne Reynolds
Sundering items has always been one of those options in D&D/Pathfinder where I like the basic idea, but dislike its execution. The idea of attacking your opponent's weapon or armor instead, trying to break it and leave them defenseless, is an interesting tactical decision. However, the process of sundering an item can be rather frustrating.

 For those of you who are not familiar with the sundering rules, I'll do my best to explain them. During combat, you can choose to sunder an item held or worn by your opponent as part of an attack action in place of a melee attack. If your attack is successful, you deal damage to the item normally. Damage that exceeds the object's Hardness is subtracted from its hit points. If an object has equal to or less than half its total hit points remaining, it gains the broken condition. If the damage you deal would reduce the object to less than 0 hit points, you can choose to destroy it. If you do not choose to destroy it, the object is left with only 1 hit point and the broken condition.

As I've mentioned before, I'm not the biggest fan of keeping multiple hit point totals, and I don't feel like keeping track of another pool for each weapon. Also, I've never found these rules all that fun to use at the table. If you don't feel like whacking away at an opponent's items for a few turns, and hope to God you don't roll under the item's Hardness again and again, I don't see why you'd ever try and sunder something.

So, why not abstract the rules somewhat and make the whole process a lot easier to use. When you attempt to sunder an item, you'd still make a CMB check against your opponent's CMD. However, instead of rolling damage if you succeed, you'd place a condition called "Weakened" onto the item. The Weakened condition would cause the user of the item to suffer a -1 penalty to attack rolls, damage rolls, or AC when using the item. If you succeed on a second CMB check, the item gains the Broken condition as presented in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. If you succeed on a third attempt, the item is destroyed. If you succeed by 5 or more on the check, you deal the worse condition (5 or more makes the item Broken, and 10 or more destroys the item).

These rules are still kind of rough and I plan on refining them further. I might also add some additional rules, like making items made from certain materials (like adamantine) easier to sunder with and harder to break. However, I wanted to see what others thought of the basic idea and get some feedback.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Musings About D&D Weapons

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about weapons and what's the best way to represent them mechanically in D&D/Pathfinder. There are some people who prefer the OD&D method of having every weapon deal d6 damage, while there are others who like weapons to have different damage dice and a few special abilities as well. 

Personally, I prefer weapons to have different damage dice. I understand the appeal of the OD&D method and I'll admit, I like how simple the method is. However, I feel like different damage dice help make each weapon just a little more unique. 

With that being said, I do have mixed feelings about weapons having special abilities though. On the one hand, I like these special abilities and qualities make each weapon a little more unique. For example, I love how D&D Next rapiers innately allow you to use Dexterity for attack rolls instead of Strength. 

However, I fear that giving every weapon a special ability or quality would just complicate things. It would be a chore to create unique abilities and qualities for each weapon in the Equipment chapter, and keeping them straight would be a hassel as well. Also, it would probably cause combat to move even slower as people look up each weapon's ability and quality. 

Probably the best fix would just to cherry pick a few weapons that were designed to have different qualities and purposes and give them one or two simple, easy to remember abilities. For example, the fail would grant you a bonus when attempt to disarm another opponent or maybe get rid of the Weapon Finesse feat and just give certain weapons, like the rapier, the innate ability to use a character's Dexterity bonus instead of their Strength bonus for attack rolls. There is still the chance of people having to look up what some of the abilities are, but at least its only for a few weapons instead of every single one of them. 

What do you guys and gals think? Should weapons have different damage dice, or should they all use one kind? Should they have special abilities/qualities, or not? I'd love to hear your opinions. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mutants and Machineguns: Gonzo Post-Apocalyptic Fun & Free to Download!

(Click Picture to go to Game's Website)
Recently, for reasons that I can't really explain, I've had this urge to run a gonzo, post-apocalyptic game in the vain of Thundarr the Barbarian with a heavy dose of Gamma World for good measure. While I could easily use some like Mutant Future or Savage Worlds to do this, I wanted something really rules-light that I could teach in no-time at all and modify just as easily if push came to shove.

Thankfully, the gaming gods smiled upon me and I found the little, mutated gem that is Mutants and Machineguns. Created by Robertson Sondoh Jr. and Daniel Marcus, Mutants and Machineguns is exactly what the cover says it is. Its a light-hearted, rules-light RPG set in a gonzo, post-apocalyptic world that just so happens to be free to download.

The game's rules are incredibly simple. Each character has four abilities: Combat, Physical, Mental, and Social. During the character creation process, players receive 8 points to allocate between these abilities. No ability can have a score below 1 or higher than 3 at the beginning of the campaign. The player then chooses one of three races: Pure Human, Mutant Human, or Evolved Animal. Afterwords, they roll their character's hit points and choose their mutations.

When attempting to perform some kind of action in the game, the player rolls 2d6, adds the results together along with the appropriate ability score, and compares the final total to a target number. If the total is equal to or greater than the target number, the character succeeds at the action. A natural roll of 2 is always considered a critical failure and a natural roll of 12 is always considered a critical success.

While I might make a few changes to fit my own needs (like creating a android/robot race for example), Mutants and Machineguns is a rules-light game that I believe does a fantastic job at representing its chosen genre and I believe everyone should give it a look.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Random Wizard's Random 10 Questions, Part Deux

So, I was reading a few blogs when I wild questionnaire appeared. A few months ago, I answered Random Wizard's first questionnaire (here), and I thought it would be fun to answer the second one as well.

(1). Should energy drain take away one level of experience points from the character? Yes or No? If no, what should level drain do?: NO. Level drain has never made a lot of sense to me. Does the effect cause the character to forget the abilities it learned when it gained that level, or did the character just lose the skills to utilize those abilities? I've always preferred ability score drain for situations like this, and I would probably just use that.

(2). Should the oil used in lanterns do significant damage (more than 1 hp in damage) if thrown on an opponent and set on fire? Yes or No? If yes, how much damage should it do?: YES. For Pathfinder, I'd probably have it act like a splash weapon that requires something to ignite it. When lit, it would deal the same amount of damage mentioned in the Core Rulebook's equipment chapter for lit oil. For older editions or retroclones, I'd probably use the 1d8 for 2 rounds rule.

(3). Should poison give a save or die roll, with a fail rolled indicating instant death? Yes or No? If no, how should game mechanics relating to poison work?: YES (Kind Of). Some poisons should have save or die rolls, but those poisons should be rather rare and expensive due to their potency. Poisons that have different affects should exist as well.

(4). Do characters die when they reach 0 hit points? Yes or No? If no, then at what point is a character dead?NO. For Pathfinder, I use the system presented here. For older editions or retroclones, I would use a save vs. death roll (using the number for Save vs. Poison). If the character succeeds, they are left unconscious for 1d6 rounds. If they fail, they die.

(5). Does the primary spell mechanic for a magic-user consist of a "memorize and forget system" (aka Vancian)? Yes or No? If no, what alternative do you use?: YES. While I prefer spell check systems like the one found in DCC, I like Vancian magic as well and I've never found it as problematic as others seem to. My only beef with the system is fluff-based, not mechanical.

(6). Should all weapons do 1d6 damage or should different weapons have varying dice (1d4, 1d8, etc...) for damage?: NO. I understand why some people like the "d6 for every weapon" rule, but I feel like varying damage dice help make each weapon a little different. Also, I like rolling different dice for different things.

(7). Should a character that has a high ability score in their prime requisite receive an experience point bonus? Yes or No?: YES. While I wouldn't use it for Pathfinder, I actually rather like this rule for older editions. I like how it rewards your character for having a high prime requisite ability score, but doesn't make it a requirement to actually play the class.

(8). Should a character with an Strength of 18 Constitution get a +3 bonus to hit points, or a +2 bonus to hit points, or a +1 bonus to hit points or no bonus to hit points? And should other ability scores grant similar bonuses to other game mechanics?: YES. Yes, I think a high Constitution score should grant you additional hit points and that high scores in other abilities should grant similar bonuses to other game mechanics (Dexterity modifying AC, Wisdom modifying saving throws against spells, etc.).

(9). Should a character have 1 unified saving throw number, or 3 saving throw types based on ability scores (reflex, fortitude, will), or 5 types based on potential game effects (magic wand, poison attacks)? or something else?: UNDECIDED. While I personally prefer the 3 saving throw types, I can understand why others like having the 5 types or the 1 unified saving throw number. Really, it depends on one's personal preferences and what they feel comfortable with. 

(10). Should a cleric get (A) 1 spell at 1st level (B) no spells at 1st level (C) more than 1 spell at 1st level?: UNDECIDED. Like saving throws, this one really depends on one's personal preferences. I understand why some like clerics to gain spellcasting abilities at 2nd level, and I can understand why others like them to have it from the very beginning. For me, it really depends on the game and edition I'm playing. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Musings on Racial Religions, Part 2

Art by Aaron Miller
Monday, I talked about a number of alternate religious beliefs that could be tied to three classic fantasy races (Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings). Continuing down that path, I've been toying around with a few more alternate religions & philosophies for two more races: Gnomes and Orcs.

New Age Gnomes
After their exile from the Realms of the Fey and their exodus to the Material Plane, the now mortal gnomes were exposed to a number of new ideas and concepts that peaked their curiosity. Religion was one of those ideas. While the idea of religion intrigued the ex-fey, they found themselves rather turned off by the restrictive dogma and the arbitrary divisions separating similar faiths. Therefore, the gnomes have taken different elements and ideas from the different religions and philosophies of the known world and have melded them together into a strange, new faith all together. Unlike other religions, gnome mysticism has now official structure what-so-ever and each gnome is responsible for their own, personal spiritual awakening. While there are some common elements and beliefs that most gnomes share (We live to experience the wonders of life, overtly-strict dogma causes one to miss the bigger picture and be close-minded, and that there is always something new to discover), each gnome is encouraged to develop their own version of spirituality and faith, adding new beliefs and ideas as they venture out into the world. 

Hero-Worshiping Orcs
The life of an orc is usually brutal and short. They are born to a world of blood and violence and usually die a painful death at the end of another's blade. When they close their eyes for one last time, their bodies are collected (to either be burned or cannibalized, depending on the situation) and their life is forgotten, as if they never existed in the first place. However, there are a small handful of orcs who for one reason or another have left a lasting impression on the world. These orcs are known as the Ur-Gosh, or "Hero" in Orcish, and are venerated as deities. Each tribe has their own set of Ur-Goshes, each with their own epics that are passed down through the generations, from one orc skald to the next. The orcs believe worshiping the Ur-Gosh will grant them luck and inspire them to do something so great they will join the ranks of the Ur-Gosh when they die and be remembered throughout the ages. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Musings on Racial Religions

Art By Christophe Swal
I think I've made it abundantly clear that I have an interest in fantasy deities and religion. There is just someone about these different deities and the religions built around them that jump-start my imagination and get my creative juices flowing.

Recently, I've been toying with some ideas about religions & philosophies for the traditional non-human races, giving them something else to follow and believe in than your typical fantasy deity such as Corellon Larethian or Moradin. Being one to think aloud, here are some of the ideas I've had for a handful of the traditional fantasy races (Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings).

Atheist Dwarves
I'm not sure why, but I think it would be interesting if dwarven society was built around an atheistic worldview. Now, unlike real-world atheism, the dwarves admit that the entities that many refer to as gods do exist and grant powers to "worshipers". However, they see these entities as nothing more than incredibly powerful outsiders and not true deities. Instead of worshiping these false deities, the dwarves put more weight into their material existence and focus on the here and now instead of metaphysical concepts. 

Animistic Elves
Due to their close relationship with nature, I think it would be cool to have elves practice a form of animism. The elves believe there is no separation between the spiritual and material world and that every field, every tree, every rock, every flower, and every creature has a spiritual essence. These spirits can be angered and appeased like normal deities, and the elves do everything they can to respect and honor these spirits. Also, the elves believe that when a person dies, their soul returns to the source of all life in the universe, becoming one with everything. 

Ancestor Worshiping Halflings
Since clans and families seem to be a big deal with halflings, I think it would be cool to just have them practice a form of ancestor reverence. Instead of praying to the gods and goddesses of the other races, halflings venerate past family members, believing their spirits watch over their living descendants and possess the ability influence the fortune of the living. Before doing something important, a halflings perform a ritual to contact their ancestors and ask for help and guidance. Also, every halfling possesses some item (could be a totem, or a book containing the records of their clan or family's history) that is considered sacred and is the main tool they use to contact their ancestors. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Five Questions to Ask Yourself When Creating a Character

One of the most entertaining elements of any roleplaying game, at least for me anyway, is the character creation process. Being a creative person, it can be really fun to just sit down and attempt to make a new and interesting character to use as either a PC or NPC in a future campaign. However, there are those occasions when I'm suffering from a bad case of writer's block and can't seem to actually come up with anything.

When those situations arise, I tend to ask myself five or so simple questions to get my creative juices flowing once again. Since I highly doubt I'm the only one who suffers from the occasional case of writer's block, I thought others might find these questions useful as well.

1. What is Your Character's Concept? This is easily the most important question to ask yourself when creating a new character. The concept will act as a blue-print for the character, influencing almost every decision you make during the creation/generation process and beyond. When creating the character's concept, try to boil it down to its most essential elements and create a short and memorable phrase. While you could write an entire paragraph about your Fighter's concept, it will be easier to remember that he's a "Runaway Farmer's Son Looking For Adventure" and its much easier for others to get what your character's concept is as well.

2. What Are Your Character's Major Beliefs? All of us have our own set of personal beliefs that shape our decisions and life. It only makes sense your character would have these as well. While you don't have to get very detailed with them, its a good idea to at least ponder what your character's opinions and thoughts might be on things like religion, politics, and how one should live their life. For example, our "Runaway Farmer's Son Looking For Adventure" might believe that a person must work hard if they want to achieve something and if you want something done, you should do it yourself due to his childhood working on a farm. Because of those beliefs, he might have a problem with a noble who is handed things they didn't earn and has others do their dirty work for them. Your character's beliefs should influence how you play the character and how they might react to certain situations.

3. What Major Events Shaped Your Character's Life? All of us have had a number of experiences that helped shape who we are today. That should be true for your character as well. Maybe there village was attacked by a tribe of goblins and they were the only survivor, instilling in them a deep hatred of goblins. Maybe they were a criminal, but after spending sometime in prison they have decided to turn their life around and make up for their past ills. While you could detail all the events in your character's life, I suggest focusing only a handful of major events. All those extra details can be interesting, but you don't want to get bogged down because of them.

4. What Are Your Character's Major Goals in Life? Throughout life, we all have a handful of goals that we wish to achieve. You character probably has a few goals as well. Maybe the character who's village was destroyed by goblins hopes to one day find the tribe responsible and get vengeance. Maybe your swordsman is trying to find the man with an extra digit on his hand who killed his father. Having a few goals will help explain why your character is living a life of adventure and will give your Game Master a few hooks to use in the future as well.

5. What Are Your Character's Qualities & Flaws? Think of this question as you adding the icing to the cake that is your character. Think about your character's concept and everything else you have decided and create a few positive and negative traits that would make the character a little more interesting. For example, you have decided to play a Paladin who used to be a thief until he saw the error of his ways and took up the sword to pay for his past crimes. Your Paladin might be more sympathetic to those who are trying to redeem themselves due to his own past and he is excited to do anything he can to help others. However, due to his past, he might struggle when put into a situation that might cause him to buckle and return to his criminal ways.  These little details just add a bit more life to a character and shouldn't be skipped over during the character creation process. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Random Inspiration: Aincrad as a Megadungeon

Since it started airing on Adult Swim's Toonami block back in July, I've been watching Sword Art Online on a fairly regular basis. The series takes place in the near-future where a Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) called "Sword Art Online" has been released. After logging into the game with the assistance of a virtual reality helmet, the players discover they are unable to log back out. They are then informed by the creator of the game that the only way to escape the game is to reach the 100th floor of the game's tower and defeat the final boss. However, if their avatars die in-game, their bodies will also die in the real world. While I have some problems with the show's pacing, I find Sword Art Online to be rather entertaining.

While watching the show, I found myself thinking about the show's setting and how it would be a pretty cool setting for a D&D/Pathfinder setting. The game in the show is set on Aincrad, a floating fortress made from iron and stone. The base diameter of the castle is about ten kilometers and the structure consists of a hundre floors stacking straight upwards, with each floor's diameter being a bit smaller than the previous one. Each floor has a few cities, towns, villages, forests, plains, and a dungeon that leads up to the next level.

Aincrad would be a pretty awesome D&D setting. The players would all start on the bottom floor, having been born in one of the towns located there. Having spent most of their lives on this floor and having heard numerous rumors and legends about what lies at the top of the castle, the characters band together and work their way through the different dungeon floors. Throughout the campaign, you could have them discover the history of the fortress, who built it and why, and what lies below the blanket of clouds that Aincrad hovers over. Also, if you want to make things a little more interesting, you can throw in some steampunk and industrial elements since the setting is a gigantic flying fortress.

What do you guys think? Do you think Aincrad would make a pretty cool D&D setting?