Links of the Week: January 9, 2012

I think I might call this the Shatterworld Edition.  It seems Niccodaemus has most of the links this week.

RPG Blog Carnival: Fantastic Locations

I’m reading all the carnival posts I find — all I’ve read so far look really good, thanks for taking part! — and have decided to round them up separately in a weekly post on Thursdays.  Even though it excites me to see them, I’ll leave them out of my normal Links of the Week posts.

I have to say that I’m pretty pleased with the turnout so far.

Kickstarter Projects

I haven’t become aware of any really exciting (to me) projects this week.  At least, that I can afford; the 3d printer project looks really cool but I can’t justify the expense.

Monster Stand-Ins (Plastic Card Miniatures)


I’m still hawking this one.  It’s a little over a third of the way funded and there’s more than a month left, but I’d really like to see it succeed.

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea


This one is funded and I just backed it myself.  It’s cool enough I thought I’d remind people of it before the project closes January 15 since there is a stretch goal.  Tim makes a more impressive case for giving Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers your cash at I’d Rather By Killing Monsters….


Adam mixes things up a bit with urban hacker steampunk elves.  A little different, but they look like a lot of fun.

Fame & Fortune

Satyre brings us another damned city, chantákia, this one rich in mineral resources.

Hack & Slash

The skill deconstruction continues, with Intimidate getting what looks like a C- grade (reasonable item for inclusion, less than ideal implementation), Stealth and Perception (or Hide, Move Silently, Spot, Listen) getting a pretty solid F (and I think his reasoning is pretty sound), and Speak Language and the whole family of Knowledge skills fare about the same.

I’m wondering how many -C will consider worth having at the end of all this.  I suspect we might end up with a small number indeed, and just switch it to another mechanism.  I’ll be interested in seeing a summary table when he’s done.

Roving Band of Misfits

Benoit shows how to make some nice Tentacle Miniatures… and it’s enough that I really want to send my players to sea now, just so I could break something like this out on them.  Tasty, and I don’t even like calamari.


Niccodaemus is busy reimagining character classes.

He starts with wizards by describing the Anatomy of a Spell, and the approach taken really appeals to me for some kinds of settings and games.  I’ve never really been a big fan of read magic, and I have to admit that I always liked the idea of grimoires, as in Call of Cthuhu.  The thought of deliberately seeking out older books in order to make sense of the spells you found, possibly dealing with multiple languages (one of thing things I loved about the grimoires) gives me happy feelings.  In fact, I just realized that the West Marches-style sandbox I (still) want to run would be almost ideal for this sort of thing.  The spells from the core rules, or at least a subset of them, are still available for selection by wizards when they level, but the grimoires have spells that are not available for selection.  That is, wizards can still have their fireball, but if they want the ritual of est-kente, they’ll have to work a little harder.

He continues, to describe Clerics as Prophets and Saints, which sounds like it fits the setting he has in mind for them.  At this point I’m not heading that way myself, but this is a thoughtful piece.  The reaction of the common populace to people exhibiting these powers makes sense to me, and the idea of clerics being itinerant just so they can get away from the constant crowds (I have the image of a ‘God Star’ avoiding fans….) amuses me.  The follow-up article comparing Magic vs. Miracle interests me rather more.  It highlights the differences in an intriguing way and leaves the way open for all sorts of scenarios.

Finally (so far) he talks about druids and bards, and how they differ from wizards and clerics… and they are different in how they approach magic, and bards are rather more impressive than the arcane thieves described in most D&D books.  He looks to the requirements for joining the Fianna, and they are such that it seems reasonable to me that bard be a prestige class rather than a base one, and probably one that not many would be able to qualify for.  I am quite prepared to ignore the possibly exaggerated requirements and treat them as legitimate, they land right in the range of what I expect of characters ready for prestige classes.

Relating to the Anatomy of a Spell, Niccodaemus also talks about finding scrolls and how to gain spell knowledge from them.  This seems to be potentially an easier route than learning from a grimoire, if you can find all the pieces.  What appeals to me here is that it is possible to cobble together a faulty spell — if you try to cast a spell you have incomplete (you prepare a new copy of the spell and try to fill in the blanks, and get it mostly right) then the copy of the spell you have is faulty and you will cast it consistently that way unless and until you find a better version.  I don’t know that I’d want to get into this level of detail, but I can see it working.

Changing track a bit, Gaia is the Goddess of the Earth, just as Hydros is God of the Waters and Pyros is God of Fire (both included in last week’s links).  I am reminded of an article from Dragon #77, “Elemental Gods” (no, my memory isn’t quite that good, I found an old USENET post where I mentioned the same article).

The Action Point

Jason has a suggestion here that looks brilliant and that I’ll want to follow up on regarding Worldbuilding: Top Ten List for your Game/World/Campaign.

Short form?  Hit TVTropes (take a ball of twine so you can find your way home — if you’ve never been there, I’m sorry and you’re welcome.  You’ll understand later) and pick the top ten (or) tropes you want to encourage in your campaign.  He also provides guidance on how to go about it.

  • Trope-ify Your Setting: Use the website to identify tropes that fit your campaign feel
  • Core Tropes: Identify which tropes are most important to you as a GM to help when building adventures or NPCs.
  • Six Tropes, Under The Gods: Choose a limited number of tropes for individual areas of your campaign, so they are familiar and distinct as the PCs travel

Tropes have power and utility for a reason, especially with regard to roleplaying games.  I had not specifically considered it before (outside the Rule of Cool), but this is such an obviously good idea I’m going to have to give it a go.  I’ve often described campaigns and settings by the observable elements, the things PCs will see and interact with or that the players are familiar with from our world (such as “this campaign is… modeled on viking Egyptians, desert-raised raiders who have left the dry lands for the ocean”).  Going straight to the tropes will give a clear indication of expected behavior and campaign trappings that I think it will work even better.


Dragon Draft


Brendan goes old school with his monster rules for dragons.

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