Category: Pick of the Day

Today’s Game Master Toolbox Week Pick is from Azukail Games, one of several companies that publish lots of books intended specifically to make the GM’s life easier and their campaigns more interesting. 100 NPCs You Might Meet at the Tavern is exactly what it says – a set of one-hundred interesting and distinct people a hero might encounter, drink with, get information from, or wind up in a proper brawl with at a place of drink and revelry.

There’s a lot of tavern-and-drinks related books from this outfit (they’re probably a lot fun to hang out with at cons), including 100 Fantasy DrinksFantasy Beer Names, and Grosk’s Tavern.

Characters will often spend a substantial amount of time in taverns, whether following up leads, meeting contacts, resting or looking for clues and information. Some of the people met may be important for whatever quest the characters are currently undertaking. But what about the others?

Taverns and inns are not frequented just by people who are immediately needed. They will have other customers and staff as well. Rather than simply glossing over these individuals, this supplement provides a detailed list of 100 different people to flesh out a tavern. Each is given a name and described. Some of them may have skills and knowledge that characters find useful and others could be a potential source of adventure hooks.

This PDF supports Adobe layers and the page backgrounds and images can be disabled to make printing easier.

Here is a sample result:

Arian Nightsbridge: A big man with the crooked nose and sunken knuckles of a lifetime brawler, Arian claims to be a hedge squire. He can list every lord he’s fought for, and every master he’s served, though only those with a knowledge of the most obscure branches of noble family trees will recognize the names. Dressed in a roughspun tunic, he looks the furthest thing from a knight… except for the battle-tested sword at his side. Touchy about his word and his honour, what he lacks in courtly manners he more than makes up for in a willingness to stand and fight when it’s asked of him.

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

Dancing Lights Press has a huge number of products that fit into the Game Master Toolbox Week theme, including the one I Picked for you to look at today, Worldbuilding PromptsBerin Kinsman is a master of this kind of guide.

As you’re contemplating a new campaign, or the even larger idea of building a world for long-term gaming projects (and possibly even sharing/selling), this is a solid guide to focus your thinking and help prompt you in the right directions to get things done effectively and efficiently.

Develop Settings, Character Backgrounds, and Adventures

Worldbuilding is essential to good fiction, regardless of the genre or medium. It creates the context for the characters and the stories that they’re involved in. The information necessary to understand the motivations of the villains, the goals of the story, and what’s at stake if the protagonists fail, are all tied up on the setting elements that have been established and explained. Without your particular worldbuilding elements, your setting might as well be any other generic setting. 

Throughout the Foragers Guild Guide series I’ve been an advocate for worldbuilding with a purpose. While creating a setting can be a fun activity in its own right, it can easily spin out of control. When working on background for a novel or game, it can turn into a distraction. You can cut down on preparation time by focusing only on the details necessary to provide a feel for the world. Give the characters a connection to the world through the elements you create for their origins, motivations, and goals. Develop only as much as is essential to generate the conflicts and contexts that support the story you intend to tell.

This book assumes that you’ve already got the broad strokes down and are looking to fill in the details of your setting. You want to develop the things that create interest, support a sense of verisimilitude, and help establish an emotional connection between your audience and the world, its characters, and its stories. The prompts provided are meant to serve as food for thought, asking questions that you can answer your own way, at comfort level and degree of detail of your own choosing.

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

Game is coming up, but you had to deal with a sick kid, an overdue work project, and then that flat tire. You had to cancel last week, so you really don’t want to cancel again, but… wait, let’s crack open that Mission Files book at grab something out of it! It’s OK that I am running Modern AGE and not A.W.E., the concepts will translate just fine. This is a great product for Game Master Toolbox Week, anyone cyberpunk or modern/post-modern era stuff can make this work.

Missions are the lifeblood of The Sprawl. Better lay down the plastic.

The Sprawl: Mission Files is a collection of ten new cyberpunk missions for The Sprawl. Infiltrations, extractions, heists, recovery ops, wetwork, investigations, hunts, pursuits, shakedowns, Mr Smith has them all… and more.

Ready to run. Each mission includes a brief summary of the fictional setup and details on the people and places involved, as well as all the clocks and directives you need.

Hack them into your own shape. Each mission also takes you behind the scenes with design notes on its structure and ideas for hacking the mission to make it uniquely yours.

Between the lines and beyond the missions. The Sprawl: Mission Files is also filled with MC advice and tips for how to handle tricky situations and how to tweak familiar features of the game to enrich your play experience.

The Sprawl: Mission Files is a mission supplement, not a complete game.
A copy of The Sprawl is required to play.*

(*) – I am of the opinion, obviously, that you can use the material in this to help with any game you’re running of an appropriate genre.

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

Let’s do a Game Master Toolbox Week, starting with the new release from the ENnie-nominated designer, John Beattie (for Cake Walk). This is a system-agnostic guide to adding vulnerabilities to otherwise nigh-invulnerable and very tough monsters and foes. It’s a way to make combat about figuring out how to take down the baddie by paying attention to clues presented both before and during the combat. This is the kind of thing anyone wanting to run a Supernatural-flavored campaign, where the heroes have to study the Lore to figure out how to win an unwinnable fight, will want in their Toolbox.

Every player knows that cold iron hurts fairies and zombies are weak to headshots. Weaknesses and vulnerabilities are classic parts of RPGs. But if you just use the most well-known weaknesses, the thrill of discovery is gone. Weakness becomes a matter of “Do I have fire? I use fire.”

Changing up weaknesses makes things less predictable, but it’s not enough if the only way to figure them out is random chance. Tease your players’ brains by giving them clues to find the weaknesses. Make it into a puzzle that they and their characters can solve.

From the Ennie-nominated author of Cake Walk, Banes is a system-agnostic book for adding weaknesses to monsters in an interesting way. Each of the main Banes has multiple “tells” for figuring out what’s going to hurt the monster, descriptions of what that damage looks like, and a special effect for spicing up combat even more. Other sections include: 

  • How a Bane should apply (both in terms of how, say, fire affects the creature and other sources of damage)
  • How to use more exotic or unique weaknesses, like the sword of the last king or unusual herbs from haunted graveyards
  • More exotic effects to change the course of battle, like loss of spellcasting

Turn your fights into a puzzle and give your players something to think about.

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

Closing out Positively Beastly Week, I’ve landed on one of the most popular villain books for supers gaming ever published. Villains Unlimited is for Heroes Unlimited (2e), sure, but the sheer scope of creative ideas in this tome can help any superhero GM flesh out a world with villains, factions, and more. And that art! Oh, the art…

An epic sourcebook that features rules for designing your own super-organizations, the Jury, the S.C.R.E.T. government agency, Game Master tips, villain teams, and a rogues gallery of 80+ villains waiting to drop into your adventures.

  • 80+ villains, plus villainous teams and organizations.
  • The Jury – heroes or villains? A self-appointed group who polices superheroes and takes down those who become evil, reckless or crazy.
  • S.C.R.E.T. – Superbeing Control, Retrieval, and Elimination Teams, a multi-national organization designed to handle “superhuman” problems.
  • Fabricators, Inc., an evil organization that supplies evildoers; their weapons and gizmos.
  • Magic tattoos, weapons, cyborgs, a crazed world conqueror, monsters, madmen and adventure ideas galore.
  • 224 pages, written by Kevin Siembieda & Kevin Long.

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

Continuing to dodge the monsters and mayhem found in bestiaries for Positively Beastly Week, we trend back a more traditional “monster manual” with Kobold‘s Tomb of Beasts for 5th Edition. 400+ monsters from the entire history of Kobold Press’ creations for previous fantasy gaming systems, all collected up and statted for the latest iteration of D&D. A must-have from the best creators.

DM: “A collection of hundreds of eyes floats down the corridor toward you, trailing ganglia and dripping caustic fluid that sizzles when it hits the ground. What do you do?”

PLAYER: “I retire, and become a farmer.”

Whether you need dungeon vermin or a world-shaking personification of evil, the Tome of Beasts has it. Here are more than 400 new foes for your 5th Edition game-everything from tiny drakes and peculiar spiders, to demon lords and ancient dragons.

Tome of Beasts includes monsters from the entire history of Kobold Press, with longtime favorites such as:

  • Clockwork creatures
  • Drakes and dragons
  • Devils and arch-devils
  • Dangerous flavors of the fey
  • Undead-and much more!

Use them in your favorite published setting, or populate the dungeons in a world of your own creation. Pick up Tome of Beasts and give your players an encounter they won’t soon forget!

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

As we roll on through Positively Beastly Week, I am proud to point out the most popular “monster book” in the Pinnacle library, Savage Foes of North America for Savage RiftsNot only is this one hell of a collection of stuff to throw at heroes in that setting, but there’s great content that can be reskinned* for any Savage setting, no matter the genre. There’s powerful fantasy-flavored enemies, gleaming and gritty high tech opponents, giant monsters, weird and mind-bending aliens, and more.

(*) – Reskinning is a very useful technique for GMs to master, whereby you take the stats for an established entity and just re-interpret them to represent something else. For example, in Savage Foes, you’ve got the 1st Apocalyptic Cavalry folks. It’s all-too-easy to reskin those as bandits, mercenaries, and more for any setting where hover cycles or robot horses are a thing. The Daemonix work great as either techno-demons or bizarre alien invaders or… you get the picture.

IN A WORLD FULL OF MONSTERS AND MADNESS, IT’S GOOD TO KNOW WHAT’S COMING.

One day, your heroes may face a heavily mechanized patrol of Coalition Soldiers. The next, they’re trading lasers and mystic bolts with a horde of cybernetic-loving demons called Brodkil. Next week, a gargantuan tentacled horror from a Rift threatens every living thing in the region, and it’s up to the Tomorrow Legion to stop it…somehow.

Rifts®: Savage Foes of North America contains stats and descriptions for all of the major monsters and enemies a group of heroes might face as they serve in the Tomorrow Legion: the Coalition States, the Federation of Magic, the Black Market, the 1st Apocalyptic Cavalry, the bandits of the Pecos Empire, and much, much more. Important key figures, such as Emperor Prosek, Lord Alistair Dunscon, and Sabre Lasar are included. For those times when a Rift opens and you want randomly figure out what comes out of it, there’s an extensive Creatures from the Rifts Generator to help you.

This book requires the Savage Worlds core rulesRifts®: The Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide, and Rifts®: Game Master’s Handbook to play. Rifts® and Megaverse® are Registered Trademarks of Palladium Books, Inc. All character names and likenesses are copyright and trademarks owned by Palladium Books, Inc. and used under license.

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

Positively Beastly Week, my celebration of bestiaries and bad guy collections, continues! The concept of the RPG bestiary started with the very first Monster Manual, an encyclopedic collection of creatures mythical and original, each with illustrations and game stats, intended for the Dungeon Master to call upon in crafting encounters and adventures. The tradition continues with Green Ronin‘s own Fantasy AGE Bestiary, fulfilling the exact same role for their own core fantasy RPG. Not surprisingly, much of what was found in that venerable first tome for D&D is recreated here, but there’s plenty new stuff from the lavishly creative minds of GR’s team.

What does every fantasy RPG campaign need?

Monsters! Monsters! Monsters!

The Fantasy AGE Bestiary gives Game Masters a plethora of new foes to challenge their players, from classics like the basilisk and minotaur to new monsters like the eldritch crown and shard lord. Each creature is fully detailed, with background information, adventure hooks, game stats, and variants.

This beautiful, full-color book is the first sourcebook for the Fantasy AGE RPG and an indispensable resource for Game Masters.

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

I am often inspired by a hot new release for my themes, and this week is just such an occurrence. The Starfinder-driven Alien Bestiary is chock full of things to throw at your galaxy-running adventurers. The best bestiaries give you groups and factions to weave into your campaigns, as well as effective tools and advice on how best to use the creatures and villains, and this is one of the best.

Welcome to Positively Beastly Week, a celebration of bestiaries and bad guy collections!

It Came from the Stars!

The Alien Bestiary brings you an incredible array of sci-fi and space-themed monsters and menaces for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game! The creatures you’ll find within are perfect for whenever your heroes venture into the dark tapestry of space or have to defend their homeworld from alien invasion by eldritch horrors from beyond the stars, whether you use the official Starfinder setting, a universe of your own design, or a dedicated sci-fi saga like the Legendary Planet Adventure Path or in the Aethera Campaign Setting!

You’ll find allies and adversaries within these pages, from playable races for your sci-fi game to cosmic horrors and apocalyptic enemies inspired by classic themes of science fiction. This volume collects nearly 300 monsters from CR &frac;12; to CR 30, including template grafts and starship-level creatures from tier 4 to 18. You’ll find residents of the Legendary Planet and Aethera settings, Starfinder versions of classic creatures like the myrmidon robot, plasma ooze, and star-spawn of Cthulhu, alongside brand-new never-before-seen monsters like the asteroid worm, star fairy, meteor dragon, and supermassive singularity!

The Alien Bestiary is more than just monsters too, with appendices devoted to cults of the Great Old Ones, creatures of the Aethera system, creature indices by type and CR, high-tech traps and hazards, and spells, feats, and expanded rules for aetherite radiation, vacuum, and more! The PDF version, of course, is hyperlinked and bookmarked for your convenience, and the book is packed with incredible artwork and delightful design by some of the best authors in the business. These monsters are dynamic and cinematic in how they play at the table, with ecology, history, and lore that are a pleasure to read.

Don’t let your Starfinder Roleplaying Game campaign get lost in space or just be a trek among the stars! Grab a copy of this incredible 440-page monster accessory today and Make Your Game Legendary!

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

In a lot of games that fit the Mashup Madness Week theme, you end up with the melange of genre elements and tropes, and you’re encouraged to just mix it up and dive in. With Torg Eternitythere is a pretty specific setup of genre concepts being mashed into the Core Earth; the entire premise involves the very conflict created when ancient spirit magic and cybernetic laser arms crash up against eldritch horror and pulp superheroes. It’s beautiful and brilliant, and the core activity for the player is to be one of the few people in the multiverse capable of dealing with what happens when all this mess gets tangled up and people need heroes to fix it.

The invasion of Earth told in previous tales of TORG took place on one version of our world. The High Lords there were successful for many years, but were eventually stopped by the planet’s valiant Storm Knights.

But there are infinite versions of our world.

This is the tale of a different Earth, one where things did not go as well…

The Torg Eternity Core Rules include all the rules and setting information you need to create characters and play the game, including

  • Background on the Possibility Wars
  • World Laws and adversaries for Core Earth and the 7 invading Cosms
  • Creation and advancement rules with dozens of perks for all kinds of characters
  • Magic, Miracles, and Psionics rules
  • Gear for all tech levels

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