Monthly Archives: June 2017

In Honor of Stewart Wieck (1968-2017), one of the founders of White Wolf and one of the original creators of Mage.

Finishing up It’s a Kind of Magic Week, it feels like there’s not a better final Pick than one of the iterations of what many feel is the ultimate iteration of “gaming the arcane.” By my Belovedest Carinn’s estimation, M20 represents the best version of Mage, so I am going with it as today’s Pick. However, there’s a few flavors of “agents of change” for your consideration, including Mage: The Ascension (Revised) and Mage: The Awakening (2nd Edition).

I tell you this: We are Divinity. 

Reality is ours to bend. To subvert. To command.
We have that power – all of us. 

Not everyone knows what to do with it, or uses it well.
Most of us never realize just what it is we are or how much we can do. 

Those of us who do well, some of us are monsters.
Manipulators. Parasites. Tyrants. Fanatics. 

And the rest of us never see that monster in our own mirror, only in the reflections of those folks who are not “us.” 

Here’s the truth, though: We are ALL “us.” We are ALL gifted, 

We can ALL change the world. Most of us remain asleep. 

A blessed few Awaken. Fewer still use that power wisely.
And none without consequences. 

And so, reality is up for grabs. Where do you stand?

And will you Fall… or Ascend? 

What’s in it?

• Updated profiles of the Council of Nine Traditions, the Technocratic Union, and the Disparate Crafts… with many unexpected developments. 

• An epic history of magick and its factions.  

• A compilation and clarification of essential and optional rules, including martial arts, vehicles, hazards, cybernetics, the Otherworlds, and far more besides. 

• Overviews of paradigms, practices and tools – the focus of your Art. 

• Detailed explorations of the epic concepts involved in Mage. 

• Chilling looks at the Nephandi and Marauders. 

• The Nine Spheres, plus their Technocratic variants. 

• Old favorites and new faces from among the Awakened Ones. 

• Reality Zones, Paradox, Quiet, the “coincidental vs. vulgar magick” debate, and far, far more…  

• New full color original art by Michael William Kaluta, Echo Chernik, Steve Prescott, Christopher Shy, Larry MacDougall, and other classic Mage artists, as well as classic B&W pieces carefully chosen from the earlier editions.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

As part of It’s a Kind of Magic Week, I wanted to include this gem. It’s a highly valuable exploration of world-building and campaign management of a believable, Western society-influenced setting in which magic plays a part. History-mixed-with-magic, if you will, and exceptionally helpful to anyone who wants to add elements of believable, immersive reality into their efforts.

What happens when high-level wizards and clerics can alter the course of fate, history, economies, and wars in a medieval-era world?

Read on!

 

This third edition of A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe adds an entirely new chapter about how to make realistic place names. A total of 18 new pages of material are contained in the 3rd edition. The below quote was said about the 1st Edition of A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe.

“If you’re a DM and running a D&D game, you should have this book. Period.” Monte Cook, author of the 3E Dungeon Master’s Guide, and owner of Monte Cook games.

This 208-page supplement is for GMs and players who wish to add a touch of realism to their game. It’s for the people who’d like to flesh out the background of their gaming world, but don’t have the time to dig through scholarly books. A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe provides you flexibility and advice in creating your own world. It contains a massive amount of game-usable information about the medieval period and focuses on how D20 magic could change a traditional medieval setting. Generation systems for kingdoms, cities, manors, aristocratic wealth and landholding; a thorough construction system; and an economic simulator allow GMs to recreate the high middle ages feel with ease.

A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe solves age-old dilemmas like: How much does it cost for my PCs to repair the formerly-orc-infested abandoned keep they want to use as a home base? What would happen, politically, were the PCs to set up their keep? How big is my city of 15,000 people? How many buildings are in my city? What do all the NPCs do? How do I start my PCs on the road to becoming kings? Just how much does a king earn a year anyway? What about just a regular noble? How big is a kingdom of 5,000,000 people? How many cultivated acres does it take to feed them? How should I map towns, cities, and smaller communities within my kingdom? What type of government should I use for my kingdom? How does magical religion really work? Just what do those NPCs do with all their time?

The questions plaguing DMs and world-builders for the past twenty-five years have now been answered!

…and now with the 3rd edition, you’ll get advice on how to name places in a realistic manner, with a comprehensive list of place names culled from UK topographical history, allowing you to systemically name your world as you see fit!

 

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

As It’s a Kind of Magic Week rolls on, today’s Pick is from the Dungeon Masters Guild, where creative gamers can share their ideas for D&D. This is a particularly popular collection of spells focused on the makers, the task-focused, and arcane “scientists” of your 5e fantasy setting.

101 new spells appear in Archetypal Spell Compendium: Artificers & Arcanists, a massive collection of new options for spellcasters including three FOUR new subclasses for artificers, new archetypes for wizards, sorcerers, and clerics, 20 new spells for artificers, 30 or more (sometimes much more!) spells for each major spellcasting class, over a dozen spells each for the paladin and ranger, and more for 5th Edition D&D games set in the Forgotten Realms, Ravenloft, and beyond. These options include not just rules, but detailed descriptions and setting material to help you or your players role-play these new options to the hilt. Click the preview to see the whole table of contents, including lists of all spells.

Now available for $10– a value of 10 cents per spell, +1 free spell! When more  content is added, the price may go up for later purchasers, but early buyers receive all new content for free.

  • New Class Archetypes include: 
    • NEWLY ADDED: The Clockwork Engineer (an Artificer Specialist Archetype). This steampunk artificer uses clockwork devices secreted on his person to perform unexpected attacks and imitate life with inanimate objects.
    • THREE New Artificer Specialists: The arcane sleuth creates the tools that help solve impossible mysteries; eradicators infuse magical symbols with the power to destroy the hated monsters who are their sworn enemies; the prodigy chooses to perfect and enchant his own person rather than relying on any one item.
    • New Cleric Divine Domain: Defier. Disbelieving heretics who are no longer true clerics, drawing their power from elsewhere and disavowing the worship of any deity;
    • New Sorcerous Origin: Shugenja. Called by divine forces and trained in some of the ki powers of monks, these masters of the elements tap into holy forces and balance spiritual forces through their own bodies;
    • New Wizard Arcane Tradition: Guild Wizardry. Members of an arcane order who share resources in pursuit of magical power, these wizards can borrow spells from distant wizards and excel at out-casting other arcanists;
  • 101 new spells include all the spells from the author’s previous products, plus just as many brand new ones. Carry your own hideout anywhere you go with pocket cave; punish any who dare to harm your allies with ray of reprisal; accomplish any task quickly and efficiently with a servant army; burn away flesh and memory alike with lesser chainfire; visiting the fury of hell itself on anyone in your path with Glasya’s stride; and many, many, many more unique and powerful spells.
A content-packed resource for players and DM’s alike, Archetypal Spell Compendium: Artificers & Arcanists opens up new possibilities of power, mysery, wonder, and most of all magic for any D&D 5th Edition game.

If you enjoy this product, please check out other DM’s Guild titles by the same author.

If you think this product could be improved, please Review or at least leave a comment– all input is read and considered, and could show up in a newer version of the product!

Also, enjoy the perfect companion piece to this sourcebook, Forgotten Realms Archetypes II: Champions of Mystery, which features mysterious new factions, wielders of the raw power of legendary spellfire, sorcerous paladins, telepathic spies, rabble-rousing bards, masters of secretive dueling techniques, and more.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

The world of Jim Butcher‘s Harry Dresden continues to draw gamers in. Really, this is no surprise, considering the man is a long-time gamer himself, and fans of his work who are also roleplayers sense the connection. The world Harry navigates (and barely survives) is a compelling realm of modern fantasy and very much a place for heroes and other interesting folks to gather and try to stem the tide of chaos and evil that might otherwise shatter the veil between everyday life and the worst parts of magic and monsters. There’s been a full-on FATE-driven iteration for a while; now Evil Hat wants to open the world up to even more folks with the much-lauded Accelerated version of the rules (featuring the work of my friend, Leonard Balsera among other great folks).

Welcome to Day Two of It’s a Kind of Magic Week!

PARKOUR! Leap right into the Dresdenverse!

Welcome to Dresden Files Accelerated, a pared-down, pick up and play RPG set in the world of Jim Butcher’s NYT bestselling Dresden Files series. Take a jaunt through the Nevernever, stand up to the Black Court, and sit down for a pint at Mac’s. This book contains all you need to make it happen.

In this book, Ivy—a.k.a. the Archive—will walk you through everything you need to know to get your game running, including:

  • An introduction to the major super­natural players in the Dresdenverse and the places you might meet them.
  • A new mantle system that speeds up character creation and gets you into the game fast.
  • Faction-based campaign creation that creates immediate drama and action for your group.
  • A scale system to support interacting with and playing at various power levels.
  • Easy-to-learn Fate Accelerated style gameplay, with a few clever Dresdenverse tweaks.

Dresden Files Accelerated.
Fun. Fast. FUEGO!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

I think I’ll try to stick with Theme Weeks every week, and see how it goes. This is an It’s a Kind of Magic Week, with a decided arcane theme.

The rollout of all-things-Rifts continues from Palladium, with one of their most important and popular books finally in PDF. Many hundreds of spells, magic items, and everything to do with magic all over the Megaverse.

The ultimate Rifts® reference on magic

This is it, the ultimate guide to magic for Rifts Earth. All the magic spells, magic tattoos, Techno-Wizard items, magic weapons, equipment, body armor, restraints, parasites, symbiotes, magic items, armor, automatons, Iron Juggernauts, and more from Rifts® World Books 1-23, Sourcebooks 1-4, and Siege on Tolkeen 1-6, collected into one big reference.

  • 850+ spells of great variety.
  • 370+ magic items, weapons and devices.
  • Elemental Magic, Temporal Magic, Ley Line Magic, Cloud Magic and Necromancy.
  • Tattoo Magic, Nazca Line Magic, Nature Magic, Whalesongs and Ocean Magic, and more.
  • Magic Songs, Chants, Biomancy, and Iron Juggernauts.
  • Techno-Wizard weapons and devices, Rune Weapons, Millennium Tree wands and other magic items.
  • Magic herbs, plants, components and symbiotes.
  • Shamanistic magic, Fetishes, Talismans and more.
  • Comprehensive index of Practitioners of Magic.
  • Designer notes, comments, tips & hints for running magic characters.
  • 352 pages of magic and wonderment.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Of course, I must end GM Toolkit Week with the eponymous bundle that shares the name. The folks at Engine Publishing are friends, I won’t lie, and I highly respect their contributions to the state-of-the-art when it comes to discussions and guides for making gaming better. Mike Lythgoe, if you want the “boxed set” of awesome for your digital shelf, this is it.

(Text from Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters, one of the six amazing sources in this bundle.)

“Much more than a simple book of plots, Eureka! stands as one of those essential tools that GMs and game designers will find themselves reaching for again and again.” — Game designer Wolfgang Baur, Kobold Quarterly review

2010 Golden Geek Award nominee for Best Supplement

Featuring a foreword by gaming industry legend Monte Cook, Eureka contains 501 complete adventure plots usable with almost any roleplaying game, plus GMing advice and tools for making the most of every plot.

If you game once a week, that’s nearly 10 years of adventures, all right here in the largest collection of its kind ever published. Written by nine veteran game masters — the authors of the most widely read game mastering blog on the planet, Gnome Stew — Eureka is more than just adventure seeds.

Each plot includes a hook to draw your players in, an outline detailing enough material for a complete adventure, generally in the form of 3-5 meaty encounters, and any game mastering notes, plot twists, and advice you might need to turn that plot into a fun night of gaming.

Adventure hooks alone don’t give you much to work with, but fully developed adventures can be hard to personalize and fit into an ongoing game. Eureka is the perfect middle ground: We provide the main ingredients, and you decide how to prepare them.

Packed with ideas and inspiration and including DRM-free PDF, EPUB, MOBI, and text versions of the book, this massive collection is designed to be the ultimate adventure toolkit:

  • Fantasy, science fiction, and horror plots: 167 of each, all easily adaptable to multiple genres
  • Clear, concise game mastering advice: We show you how to adapt plots to other genres (effectively giving you 464 fantasy, 420 sci-fi, and 338 horror plots) and how to turn Eureka plots into full-blown adventures
  • The tools you need: Plots are grouped by theme, from “Revolt” to “Mistaken Jealousy,” and categorized by tags like intrigue, exploration, and combat-heavy
  • Four indexes: Quickly find a plot for any situation by genre, tag, title, or author
  • No game mechanics and no proper names: These system-neutral plots are simple to use and easy to personalize to your game
  • Fully hyperlinked and bookmarked: We’ve made Eureka as user-friendly and GM-friendly as possible

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

The KOBOLD folks provide an entire excellent series of advice and tools for GMs to use in improving their craft and enhancing their games. Alongside the fantastic KOBOLD Guide to Worldbuilding, I highly recommend this useful tome to aid Game Masters seeking step-by-step guidance in putting together a campaign. Just look at the list of writers!

Run Your Best Campaign Yet

Whether you’re a new gamemaster or a seasoned vet looking for a new angle to shake up your game, these 19 essays by expert gamemasters help construct your campaign from the ground up—and keep your players engaged until the dramatic conclusion.

Kobold Guide to Plots & Campaigns shows how to begin a new campaign, use published adventures or loot them for the best ideas, build toward cliffhangers, and design a game that can enthrall your players for month or even years. Want to run an evil campaign, or hurl the characters into unusual otherworldly settings? Want to ensure that you’re creating memorable and effective NPCs and villains? We’ve got you covered.

Complete with discussions on plotting, tone, branching storytelling, pacing, and crafting action scenes, you’ll find all the tips and advice you need to take on the best role in roleplaying—and become an expert gamemaster, too! Featuring essays by Wolfgang Baur, Jeff Grubb, David “Zeb” Cook, Margaret Weis, Robert J. Schwalb, Steve Winter, and other game professionals.

This latest volume in the best-selling and award-winning series of Kobold Guides tackles the storytelling and campaign planning at the heart of any great RPG. Improve your game and expand your plotting and scheming skills with the Kobold Guide to Plots & Campaigns!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

No GM Toolkit Week would be right without bringing out AEG‘s Ultimate Toolbox. This one really is system-agnostic, meant to help GMs running any game with a fantasy motif.

Based on the award-winning RPG book Toolbox, the Ultimate Toolbox starts off where the original stopped. Focusing on inspiration, the Ultimate Toolbox is 400 pages of the best charts, tables, and seeds of gaming adventure. From character backgrounds and world building to pirate lore and magical portals, every page is the key to adventure.

Covering seven distinct and ever-important topics, the Ultimate Toolbox is a must for any GM. Whether your games take place in the city, dungeon, wilds, or even at sea, there’s a chapter dedicated to it. Even PCs, NPCs, and magical creations get their fair share of attention, as well as advice and charts for building an adventure or campaign from scratch.

Begin your journey now.

This book can be used with any fantasy game system. There are no rules, no powers, no stats of any kind-merely page after page of charts, tables, advice and good solid gaming inspiration. With over 1,000 never-before-seen tables and a fully-loaded index, what else could you ever need?

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

It’s rare I pick an entire company’s catalog of products, but with it being GM Toolkit Week, how can I not point out the entire collection of amazing game aids that Ennead Games provides? A randomized list for just about every single thing I might imagine needing a list for, and tons of stuff I never imagined (but they did!). Names, equipment… rules for defining an entire plane of existence!

Ennead Games – A company dedicated to making materials for use in rpgs and writing, from Fantasy to Sci-Fi.

Seriously, just click the link and wander around their page.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Welcome to GM Toolkit Week here at SPOD. Thanks to my friend, Mike Anthony Lythgoe, you get a week’s worth of Picks specifically oriented on products that any Game Master should consider putting into their “box of tools and useful bits.” These are things a GM can call upon to help pull together a session of gaming and handle challenges in a clean, easy, and fun way.

I’m opening up with a bundle full of “Indie Rock Star” Berin Kinsman‘s Premise products. These are roll-grab-and-go hooks and adventure seeds that you can use to stoke the imagination furnace and get something interesting going at the table. This bundle pretty much sets you up for almost any kind of game for as long as you are likely to helm a table.

Here’s an example you can roll in the Fantasy iteration (on a result of 17):

On the eve of having honors bestowed upon them by the king, the protagonists finds their social and professional lives turned upside down by vicious rumors.

Protagonists
This premise does not require the protagonists to have any special abilities or a specific sort of background. The rumors should be credible, but can be based on the events of adventures played out at the table rather than events from the protagonists’ back stories.

Story Goal
The objective is to have the protagonists prove their innocence and worthiness, avoiding scandal and scorn. Their lives aren’t necessarily in danger, but their reputations are. Once the protagonists have accomplished this, you have reached the end of your story.

Obstacles
For this premise, obstacles will revolve around finding out who is spreading the rumors and proving that they are false. The least difficult obstacle will be discovering why people are suddenly treating them differently, and why the king is canceling the ceremony. This will escalate in difficulty as the rumors become widespread and the accusations become more terrible. The final obstacle should be confronting the antagonist, getting a confession, or acquiring the evidence to prove that the protagonists have been smeared.

Antagonists
The goal of the antagonist is to destroy the reputations of the protagonists. Their motivation might be based on revenge for some past defeat. They might need to remove the protagonists before they can perform some future mission for the king, which would mess with the antagonist’s plans. This premise works best with an established, recurring antagonist.

More than simple plot hooks or adventure seeds!

A premise is the heart of a story summed up in a single sentence. It should provide a general overview of what happens, without spoiling anything. A good premise contains, explicitly or by implication, four key elements of the story: who the protagonists are, what the goal of the story is, the sorts of obstacles that need to be overcome in order to achieve the story goal, and who the antagonist is.

Each premise provided in this book is more than just a story hook or adventure seed. It is the beginning of a story, your story, that you can flesh out and develop to suit your specific needs. These can be used again and again by varying the details, changing the four key elements, and altering details like locations, themes, and the rewards and complications that stem from whether or not the protagonists can achieve the story goal.

Protagonists

The assumption is that you already have player characters created, if not fully established. For that reason, elements of the premise should be tweaked to suit the abilities and personalities of the protagonists and not the other way around. Suggested character capabilities that could useful in completing the story goal may be listed, but if no protagonist possesses these traits then a supporting character should be inserted to compensate. Likewise, ties to background elements can either be retconned into a protagonist’s history, or given to a supporting character who can either ask for the protagonists’ help, or hire them to pursue the story goal on their behalf, as appropriate.

Story Goals

The story goal is the objective that the protagonists must achieve in order to successfully complete the adventure. It’s how your audience, whether they are readers, viewers, or players, knows that the story is over. The purpose of the story goal in a tabletop roleplaying game is to keep the players focused and their protagonists on the right track. In a simplified 3-act structure, Act 1 will have the protagonists learning about the story goal and deciding to pursue it. Act 2 will present a series of obstacles that need to be overcome in order to accomplish the story goal. Act 3 will have the protagonists facing the final obstacle, defeating the antagonist, achieving the story goal, and earning their rewards.

Obstacles

Achieving the story goal shouldn’t be easy. The protagonists will need to overcome an escalating series of obstacles. These might be linked thematically, or somehow related to the nature of the goal that needs to be achieved. Start with a simple obstacle early in the story, something that plays to the protagonists’ strengths and will be relatively easy to defeat. Then think of the hardest thing possible, pushing the limits of the protagonists’ capabilities, and make that the final obstacle. Flesh out the middle with obstacles that are increasingly more difficult, bridging the journey from beginning to end.

Antagonists

Each antagonist should have a personal goal that they are trying to achieve, as well as a motivation for pursuing that goal. This might place them in opposition to, on into competition with, the protagonists. If the premise fits with an established antagonist that you have used in previous stories, you should use them. Tweak other elements of the premise to fit their personalities and abilities. Otherwise, you can create a new antagonist that suits the particulars of your desired story and overall campaign or series needs.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!