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!

Jenna K. Moran has experienced her own Hero’s Journey through the gaming industry, so I’m closing out Eclectic Week with this icon of oddly wonderful, Nobilis. This version is diceless and intended for both tabletop and LARP play, and it stands as the latest version of a game that was “story gaming” before the term was in fashion.

There is a hidden world of spirit that surrounds us.

Within that world dwell the Nobilis.

They are creatures half-human and half-god. Each holds dominion over a single concept in the world.

You have heard the stories and rumors of the Nobilis.

You have heard of the fates of those who encounter them.

Herein you will find a guide to dealing with these Powers and their
attendant spirits.

Herein you will find the third edition of the Nobilis RPG—a diceless roleplaying game, completely updated and rewritten for modern sensibilities, that you may use to tell new stories of the Nobilis’ lives.

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!

Eclectic Week takes a turn to the seriously weird and intriguingly different with today’s Pick. Barak Blackburn – primarily known for a ton of work for Spectrum Games – decided to push the envelope of story gaming in an oddly wonderful way. By combining randomizing music services (like Pandora and Spotify) with Scrabble tiles to create a shared narrative experience based on the songs played as you play, he’s taken the background music of the story and turned it into the story.

Dance ‘Til Dawn is an immersive storytelling game.

We’re going to listen to a playlist that has a beginning, a middle and a very definitive end. We’re going to tell a story even as we’re moved by the music. And, when the last song plays, this story is over. The end of this story is hinted at in the beginning, but the players will define how we get there, and how it comes to be.

Dance ‘Til Dawn is a game about listening.

We are going to listen to music together. The music may very well move us and organically, the flow of the narrative will change. This is the hope. Players may choose to narrate, or they may choose to listen to the music and let it fill this shared space.

We are going to listen to each other.

Narration is a shared responsibility. Players will narrate. Characters will succeed or fail as players see fit, there are no skill checks. But as the music plays, we always know that we are moving closer to the end. Together, we will explore the world.

Each song is a piece of art, with lyrics written perhaps for reasons deep and profound, music constructed in such a way to elicit a response. Listening to music can be a group activity: a car radio, a concert, buskers on a city street.

Let us listen together. Let us tell a story. Let music be our soundtrack.

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!

Sticking to my Eclectic Week, here’s the latest release for one of Triple Ace Games’ most venerable lines, Necropolis 2350. Think Warhammer 40k meets Mutant Chronicles, all for Savage Worlds fans. This book gets into the Templars, which any fan of zealots in heavy armor fighting against hopeless odds will want to grab right away.

Batten down the hatches, fire up the engines, and let’s get ready to kick some ass!

The Ordo Templi Novi, better known to the masses governed by the Third Reformation Church as the Templars, is renowned as much for its reluctance to leave the battlefield as the thundering might of its armored vehicles.

Designed for players and War Masters alike, this handbook explores the Templars in detail.

Inside you’ll find an expanded history, information on how the Ordo recruits new members and finances its mobile army, details on the various Chapters, a tour of noted facilities, a range of hardware, sample Wild Card and Extra characters, background details on famous units, and plenty of new options for creating player character Templars.

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!

Looks like we’ve got a particularly eclectic week underway, with this diceless game supplement grabbing my eye today. Fans of Erick Wujcik‘s Amber Diceless RPG got a huge treat when Rite Publishing brought the system back with Lords of Gossamer & Shadow. Now we get a full companion work to expand your game, at long last.

The Long Walk: Life on the Grand Stair
 
The Escalara, the Grand Stair, spans eternity. On its countless landings, Doors lead to Gossamer worlds of wonder and terror. Powerful beings explore its mysteries. Will you join them?
 
The Long Walk: Life on the Grand Stair is a companion volume to Lords of Gossamer & Shadow. Within its pages, you will find the following:
  • New powers like Scrying, expanded powers like Aetheric Projection, as well as Advanced and Exalted versions of existing powers found in Lords of Gossamer & Shadow;
  • A new system of partial powers to use for NPCs or character advancement, as well as rules to allow characters to have exotic natural abilities like wings or claws;
  • Rules to create and play lower level Agent characters who work for the Gossamer Lords;
  • New Gossamer worlds to explore like the mysterious Impossible Pyramid, as wellas a closer look at the Ascendancy, the empire of Bastiano;
  • A look at some of the people who populate the Grand Stair: travel with the Cicerones and porters, and hear tales from the praecones, or fight alongside Drake’s heroic Doormen and the far roaming mercenary corps, the Raven Legion;
  • An examination of the history and culture of the Gossamer Lords, including some new Lords and Ladies to add to your game, many created by our loyal supporters and fans; and
  • A detailed framework for a campaign, The Dwimmerlaik Inquest, which includes three adventures with guides to customizing them for use in your own campaigns.
The Door is open. The Grand Stair is before you. The Long Walk awaits. Will you begin the journey?
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!