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Turn Clichés into Adventuring Gold in 5e Dungeons & Dragons – Web DM

Lord and you’ve once again saved Kingdom onea from a powerful threat today on web DM, we’re talking about cliches and in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons, so we’re going to adventure in a dungeon and fight a dragon yeah and not be cliche about it.

Yes, we’re talking about those things and dungeons and dragons that have crept in over the years, those yeah meeting in taverns and the orc invasion, and all those things that veteran players will roll their eyes at snooze boring done this a million times yeah. What we can do to freshen those things up and maybe identify some of those cliches for the newer people who are, you know, coming into role-playing, games and Dungeons and Dragons the other first year they want.

They want to. You know, avoid some pitfalls or something. So I like a good cliche, because it’s classic you know well, I mean cliches early cliches because there’s something that people like they get told so many times that you just already know the story before it you’re like. Oh, it’s that one huh right, but we’ve been doing that with stories for thousands of years right. There’s a couple things going on number one: they’re cliches, because they’re done poorly and and if they take the easiest route to portray something or present a challenge or scenario or something it’s either done poorly.

It’s done haphazardly and this can be forgiven right, yeah, very few. Dungeon Master’s are professional, storytellers, mythmakers linguists. You know all these kinds of things: actors, improv actors, like all of these things – are kind of the job of the DM yeah, but we’ve got day jobs. We’ve got other things going on dungeons dragons is not our life as much as it really is kind of our lives. We can forgive the dungeon masters of the world in the 40 plus years that Dungeons & Dragons has been around for developing cliches.

That get used a whole lot because they’re convenient and that’s probably, why you want to use them. They are classic. They became cliches for a reason they were popular or they evoke some kind of emotional response from people they liked them, because you know everybody pretty much makes the the orphan. You know parents were killed right. I just blah blah blah right. I can’t tell you how many of my characters do that, but sometimes you know why not start the adventure with full family and that’s you got to support them and you know you’re a family man, let’s run through a couple of a couple of cliches and go Through different ways to subvert them, here’s the one I’m thinking of and maybe you’re thinking of something similar yeah starting in a tavern in a tavern beginning, your campaign in at average just having drinks having drinks sitting around yucking it up, mmm you’re gambling, maybe there’s some Carousing going on just fight and then somebody bursts in somebody bursts in the twit call.

The quest giver shows up right, it’s played out in display, and it’s a it’s a joke – that your character you’re, that they were in a tavern that they would meet and start in a tavern all right, let’s kind of think about it forum in taverns or places Where people gather yeah it’s perfectly natural and and and very relatable, a kind of beginning, it’s convenient yeah. I look at myself how many times have myself in a tavern at least three times a week at least right quiz, a quiz twice, and I played Indiana terrible.

So literally me, as a person goes to a tavern three days, seven days a week. Huh so am I living a cliche life, or am I just living? My life depends on how many mysterious Wizards come in and give you a quest that changes your life. Well, it’s happened a few times. It starts you out on the hero’s journey, cliche, here’s what you can do to liven it up. First off you can change the environment dub. The purpose of the tavern is that it’s a central location, that’s familiar to everyone.

It’s a touchstone, so maybe you don’t meet up in a tavern. You meet up at a fair or a festival or a town square, or something like that. The tammer is just a convenient excuse to have the characters together in one spot, relaxed they’re not expecting combat and, at the same time, there’s a lot of stuff that they can do as they’re working out who their characters are waiting for. The plot hooks and and everything to sort of draw switch that up.

Maybe it’s a tournament that they’re meeting at and the player characters, are either participants in the tournament or spectators or something like that. Yeah, someone or you can go back and you can say well what is it about meeting at the tavern that appeals to me? It’s rustic its familiar, it’s it’s, it’s close. It suggests characters who are low level who have concerns like eating and drinking and living in a place, the tavern kind of blogs, all that and and and you can have it – you know, be something that that leans into the cliche yeah.

That’s that’s perfectly fun. You guys are meeting in a tavern, that’s probably what you guys do three days a week or I could just be an alcoholic, that’s true, but you don’t have to you, don’t have to be in a tavern, though that is true. Thank you. Yes right. Another cliche, of course, there’s a tower and in that tower, is a princess, yeah and and around there, probably some kind of beast or drag some kind of beast or dragon or a wicked witch or stepmother, or somebody that’s keeping her locked in the the princess.

In a tower is one of those where I, you know a big surprise, surprise, a game like The Witcher or a setting like the witch or The Witcher stories which have just started to read sort of tries to subvert those things and says like all right. These are the fairy tales, but what if they were real and what, if they were real monsters and what? If there was a monster hunter out there to take care of them yeah, you know the princess in a tower.

It could easily be a prince or some other kind of redeployment or something the point of it is, is that it’s a it’s a person in a tower or imprisoned some way in which they can’t get out themselves, and maybe they’ve been unjustly imprisoned or maybe they’ve Been just the prison’s. What? If what? If the princess in the tower is there because she’s, not a particularly good person and keeping her locked up, is sort of keeping everyone else safe yeah, but her agents out in the wild have spread the rumor that the innocent princess has been wrongly imprisoned by her Wicked stepmother and she really needs to be set free, yeah cuz.

What, if she’s a little bit more in lines with? What’s name Elizabeth Bathory, Bathory, yeah yeah, I mean the bloody Duchess or whatever is correct. You know they can’t kill her because she’s somewhat royalty yasur’s. They can’t they have got to keep her the away from rebel right because she’s going to just keep bathing in the blood of milkmaids, and maybe the the characters catch wind of this rumors and as they get closer and closer to what they see is like well.

If we rescue the princess, then we’ll win her hand in marriage and become princes of the realm and blah blah blah blah blah things like that. But as you get closer, they sort of uncover the mystery and realize. Well, maybe this person that’s being imprisoned, isn’t quite so yea good or maybe maybe it is maybe the fact that they’ve been imprisoned. It suggests a problem in the kingdom or the realm changing something about it, changing either, who was imprisoned, why they were imprisoned or the conditions around that imprisonment or what about this? What if, yes, there’s a princess, there’s a tower and there’s a dragon, but the princess is an evil sorceress and she has imprisoned a silver dragon and keeps this story going out.

So adventurers show up just so. She has something to feed her dragon, that’s imprisoned, they get up they’re like oh we’re going to defeat this dragon to get there like. Why are you chained up and then she hits them right? Oh, thank you. I don’t have to go and find food to know. I have to go out and buy them food today, a lot of times you just hint at a cliche or something how players will run with it, expecting something going off of assumptions that they bring themselves.

This is meta gaming on the DMS part, oh yeah. It’s fine, it’s how you build interesting stories and met it, there’s nothing wrong with metagaming, and so the players start expecting something they bring their own assumptions. They vocalize those things while they’re discussing it, the DMS listening to what they’re having to say, adapting his campaign or her campaign to what the players are doing and now all the sudden the players are expecting.

One thing you flip it on them: they realize that they’ve been making the wrong assumptions about stuff that that the way that they’ve been approaching, this has been in error, the entire time and now they’ve gotten themselves in a sticky situation that it’s harder to extract themselves. From and that’s kind of how you is honestly how you deceive and lie to the players and make them make them their own worst enemies, sort of practicing diem judo against ya, you have you have to use their own expectations and assumptions against them, because if they Only have one clue yeah and they try to extrapolate to the end yeah.

Well, you might need to get on one or two more clues. You can triangulate that, yes, you need to feed them enough breadcrumbs that they keep going and feel like. They have information, but not so much that they have a full and clear picture about. What’s going on right, the gaps that they’re filling in or where they start to stumble and make wrong assumptions about things and then as they get to the climax of the particular adventure or campaign or whatever they realize that they’ve been making some wrong assumptions now? It’s that’s difficult to pull off.

You can easily get in a situation where the players like I have no idea. What’s going on and the DM z — being stingy with information, there’s a delicate act, yeah feeding the characters, misinformation and build and letting their own wild expectations get the better of them, but it can be done so sometimes the DM can do a bamboozle. So an another cliche, especially in this day and age of television, film uh-huh, the zombie horde good grief, everybody’s – got a zombie horde right, but he’s got his zombie whore and the fathometer slow, slow.

They puke, they run, they jump. They’ve got spikes they’re noxious. You know. I you know obviously they’re the one, interestingly enough, zombie horde that I’m less concerned about and actually kind of excited of seeing is the one that’s that appears in the later seasons of Game of Thrones. I’m I’m, I think, that’s a well done one just because the villains are interesting. The dilemma is interesting.

The world that it inhabits presents. This challenge is an interesting one. A zombie horde like that in Dungeons and Dragons is like well. We’ve got like 20 dragons on our side and a bunch of wizards that’ll come around and that kind of zombie horde and a typical Dungeons & Dragons setting is like a challenge for an afternoon. You know, let’s say an existential threat to all civilization itself and more the kind of a nuisance if they’re just regular as zombies like Walking Dead, and then you just drop some wizards and whatever in there like they’re, going to start mopping that up pretty quick they’re Going to start mopping it up, so how you? How do you do a zombie horde in Dungeons & Dragons? That makes it interesting or makes it you know a genuine threat and I have used them in the past in conjunction with something else.

So I’ve used a zombie horde in the past after the realm has been weakened by years of famine and drought, which has led to widespread death, which means there are a lot of unburied bodies and abandoned villages that there’s no one there to put up a defense Against this thing and every victory for the zombie horde feeds its army and the zombie horde is being led by vampires and Lich’s and ghosts and things like that.

It’s a whole necromantic threat, not just a horde of the shambling dead. You can do it sort of in the wake of a war or something you know, there’s a massive war. That’s come through. Untended, battlegrounds and dungeons and dragons would be terrible things right. A battlefield is already kind of a bad thing: medieval angels, disease, pickers that come by after the battle looters and Pickers that come by afterwards in Dungeons and Dragons.

It attracts carrion, eaters and other eaters of the dead ghouls, and things like that when what? If, in the wake of a massive war with all these unburied bodies or mass graves, or something like that, all of the death and concentrated you know dying and negative energy cause undead to spontaneously rise, and now the players have to deal with spontaneous pockets of undead. Rising up and it could quickly get out of control because, instead of one massive army of the Dead reading south, it’s a lot of little fires, yeah undead that keeps spreading you’re completely surrounded by that you’re, completely surrounded by and and if the army.

And if the realm has already been weakened by pervasive war and death, and things like that which usually comes with disease and famine and all those other fun things, that’s how you do it. So I find zombie horde is a good complication, not necessarily the centerpiece of a campaign, but something that rises as a consequence of some other kind of calamity. I remember you did that in in our fourth one of our fourth edition campaigns.

Yes yeah. This is a big problem with the undead, but they weren’t the problem, the people drumming and controlling them for the whole problem right, you know, so it became a thing about avoiding the zombies altogether cuz. There were just too many yeah like I mean they were literally everywhere right and it’s you know, a bunch of for three or third or fourth level characters aren’t going to take on an entire horde, but that one got drumming over there yeah, the one guy who Looks like he’s controlling them.

Yeah now becomes an exercise in getting to him right and around every other yeah. It was a lot of fun yeah, another one where we got the Dark. Lord, the Dark, Lord. Yes, the Dark, Lord, the evil, big bad evil, guy yeah rules from The Dark Tower and yeah. So why does this work in middle-earth? It works in middle-earth because Sauron is a part of the mythology and the creation or everything omnipresent across thousands of years and is the enemy right very often in Dungeons and Dragons.

That’s less the case and the Dark. Lord type characters, often they’re just for the campaign. They’re not embedded into the world and meshed in it yeah they’re more trying to become a Dark Lord trying to become a Dark. Lord, you know you can avoid that. I think, by by having the Dark Lord, be either a myth or a rumor or something that a cabal of equally nefarious, but maybe less mystical adversaries have concocted sort of a story that they’ve made to present and everybody’s afraid of this Dark.

Lord. But it’s really just a figment to fiction perpetuated by something else. You could lean into it and say yeah. This is a Dark, Lord and the kingdom that this this Dark. Lord rules, this realm, that it governs, is a nasty horrific place and the people there are oppressed and – and it’s not a pleasant place to be, but you need to take that seriously. How do they deal with the neighbors that they live with yeah? What did they do for trade for food? It still has to be a functioning society in some way, otherwise there that there would be no power base that this Dark.

Lord could draw no one there to feed its armies. No one there to you know to pay the taxes. You know it’s extracting from the from the populace. Also, the Dark Lord at some point needs to have experienced a defeat in the past and they’re just lying in wait lying in wait same with Sauron uh-uh, Voldemort Voldemort, another great Potter series. You know he was this thing he got defeated, oh he said.

Oh, don’t worry, he’s gone yeah, you know, or even the Emperor and Darth Vader from an oratorio. They have weaknesses. You know, maybe it’s weaknesses like Darth Vader has weaknesses which is like you know they. It’s. The weakness is the emotional attachment to to the people who stand against him: the there’s a magical weakness or something like the Horcrux that that the party needs to exploit and find in order to overcome the the Dark Lord.

But I think like having that one massive brooding kind of dark, evil figure, that’s irredeemably evil or wicked, or something like maybe they’re, not maybe in the best villains, don’t see themselves as villains and see what they do as a type of good. Yes, and so maybe it’s entirely possible – that the rumors coming out of the Dark Kingdom are of a horribly oppressive place where everything is terrible and horrible.

But when you visit it’s not set not that bad yeah and – and there is a reason for several of the things that are happening. Maybe there is a greater threat that that Kingdom is fighting often so that has to be a little harsher. It has to be a little bit more brutal or maybe they look at it and say like no well guess what I don’t see myself as a wicked person. I see myself as the lawful ruler of this land.

These are things they’re mine by right, and I have an obligation to the to the subjects of my land and I take care of them and in return you know they they give back the fruits of their labor kind of thing and making the villain more three-dimensional And its motivations, a bit more murky yeah, can can can really subvert that cliche. Well, yeah, I mean I mean hell, you can wrap them all up together and the party gets over there to take on a Dark Lord, but you find out that he’s just trying to protect his kingdom from an invading zombie army controlled by the dragon that stole His wife and his whore wage in a tower.

You learn all of that, while starting the tavern and you learn all that. One attack from my fairies, wizard from a mysterious, mysterious, wizard and the mysterious wizard is a great, is another great cliche. It’s the idea of the wizard who has all-powerful, but it’s just like, like whatever that kamek kamek is of the wizard like hand me that book, but the book is right. There give me the book just give me the book cuz that’s kind of what it’s like right right, but they have better to do.

They have better to do so. Why is that wizard running around all mysterious, like seeking aid from first level, characters to go? Do stuff well, there’s variety of reasons: maybe it’s busy, maybe it’s not the real wizard and it’s like a projected image or something like that and the real wizard is dealing with yeah elsewhere. Maybe the wizard is just powerful by reputation and not necessarily by actual deed.

Yeah there’s a lot of different ways that you can subvert it. This is one of those cliches that I don’t really can. I don’t like to use that much just because that kind of quest, giver, here’s the character, here’s the plot hook, I’m going to shove it off on the PCs, is not something I usually like to do. I usually like to include powerful NPCs that have some significant weakness that only the party can help shore up when you find yourself either as a DM or a player.

Saying like you know, one of the character I’ve got or the idea. I’ve got for a scenario or an adventure or something that’s kind of cliched. I find that it’s best to go back to the source. What is the origin of the cliche that that you’re, using or that you may have accidentally fallen into and examine that? Because I find very often when you go back to the source where these cliches originate, you find something fresh and new and interesting, something that’s multifaceted and with depth that, as it’s been copied over and over and over and over again ad nauseam that it’s lost.

That so in example, I’m thinking of his Conan Yeah right, like Conan for a lot of people less so maybe than in the past, is a dumb barbarian who has a great sword and a fur loincloth and grunts and punches camel, punches camels and hates magic. And it’s just kind of a big dumb bully you know, but reading the original Conan stories he’s much different and his savage upbringing born on a battlefield raised in the hills of of Samaria and and and that that upbringing that he has imbued him with a savagery That civilized men lack and yet he travels through the civilized lands getting into scraps and adventures and thefts and heists, and he’s a pirate captain one story and he’s a mercenary company.

The next and now he’s off here, fighting pics and other sort of other barbarians, and then the next minute he’s fighting Stygian, cultists and those stories are evocative and feral. And that primal and you see Conan in a variety of different ways. And if, if the Conan you’re thinking of is lumbering towards you muscles bulging with a giant sword, then the real Conan is lurking in the shadows behind you and you don’t see the knife that he’s got that you’re about to be gutted with right.

So Lord of the Rings is another great one: yeah it’s been copied so often and and the the amount of fantasy literature that has grown out of the middle-earth stories. It’s worthwhile to go read the stories. Don’t read the movies they’re great, I like them they’re fun, but they also have a style to them. That’s a little played out their action movies kind of write, fantasy action, movies, yeah, like going back in like rereading Fellowship, is it’s a fun movie, but at the same time it’s aged and yet going back and rereading fellowship is a different thing entirely and you spend Time with the characters – and you see the world-building going on yeah – don’t skip the songs read through those are the kinds of moments where, if you’re wanting to freshen up a cliche, going back to the source yeah using that original source as inspiration and forgetting all the Derivative stuff that’s come after can be a good way of livening up a cliche or giving you a fresh perspective on it, so that you can then subvert it in a different way than maybe it’s.

I don’t know. I don’t know if we might have to edit this later huh but kind of the the main hook of two of annihilation, that that’s what it is. I mean everybody kind of knows that there’s a magical disease and you can’t be brazed back right who were previously raised or being affected and they’re sick, yo. Guess what you get employed by a wizard who’s sick. I literally can’t go adventure can’t go.

Do that yeah! Normally, in any other day, they just go, do something about it, but no they’re, literally sick and losing hip hip points every day and they need someone to go. Do this thing go, do this thing and that’s a good way to to let the players expectations? Sort of propel the action of the story, because then it’s like the player should be thinking themselves. If this wizards so powerful, why does they? Why do they need us yeah, which must mean that they may be either are not as powerful or there’s something else going on, and so those are the kinds of questions that players should be then asking themselves yep.

Why in the world, is the this NPC? Acting this way and the DM, if they’re thoughtful, if they’ve, given their NPC’s, proper motivations and and flesh them out, they will be able to answer that question, and it’s in asking that question. Why is this powerful NPC approaching me for aid that they can start? The players can start to piece together clues about the threat that they face? Why in the world in the great city of Oracle, apollon teen what a lot? What a powerful wizard ask? A bunch of lowly six level people to help it kill a demon.

The answer to that question is obviously they cannot do it themselves, yeah. They could and revealing that information reveals a key weakness for them and that there’s something that the party or the players need to do need to help with and and it’s vital and maybe they you know the NPC’s, don’t want to reveal that information and reveal their Vulnerabilities but the players can piece together the clues and go okay, yeah uh, okay, and then they can start in piecing.

Those clues can learn more about the threat that they face, learn more about their allies and and sort of develop an appreciation for the campaign that the DM is trying to run for. Well there. You know

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Magical Sanctums and Towers in 5e Dungeons & Dragons and TTRPG

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We’re also excited to announce the tower of power. Competition create your arcane sanctum on world anvil, and the writer of our favorite entry will win awesome prizes, including loot, straight from us more info in the description. Let’s pick out a place because you promised oh and we could build something special, let’s build our own little web DM arcane sanctum, oh okay, right yeah, sure the summer home can wait.

The idea of a mages tower yeah the tower in which a bearded wizard with their stars and moons hat and robe. You know retreats to to ponder the mysteries of the universe, pretty classic trope and fantasy right. You can’t change reality without doing a little bit of research and you got to have a place to do it place the hole to hang your head right towers feature heavily in in fairy tales and sort of myths and legends.

You know at some point they get mixed up with the archetype of the wizard, the caster, the the court Vizier yeah. You know that kind of thing and towers and magic and and the like, seem to go hand in hand and it’s one of those things where in your games and your home worlds, you know you might like you know, you know it’s a wizard’s tower or whatever You know you don’t put too much thought into it hand, wave it or really just kind of present, only one type of wizards tower.

Then thinking about your the sanctum sanctorum zuv, the world.The, the places of power that the caster’s retreat to to work their mighty magics. Those locations where supernatural forces come together and great and wondrous things are possible are a step above just the the lonely stone tower that has a crotchety old wizard. You know yeah, I mean why just make a regular tower when you can create a dim.

I plane in between the heartbeats of a yet to be born god, yes, yeah exactly, you might need that kind of space for the sort of magic that you’re working exactly majora see. You know a place where magic confers like rulership or authority, then maybe the the tower is a you know: a physical symbol of that, in the same way that, like castles, were in medieval Europe, a projection of power of physically imposing space.

That that says something about the person that lives there. That says something about their authority and their majesty and their magnitude. Someone call it a fallacy, oh sure, but you have the chance to imbue those things which, in our own world, were just symbolic with like real magic, a place that has power. You would construct something there to make use of that power. That confers something magical and has a long history in D & D right, birth right setting is a game where you know your ability to rule it be a you know.

A figure of authority is based on that certain type of magic. You can kind of take that and say well what, if it was, you know the ability to to work miracles and spells that you know gives anybody a reason to listen to you. Therefore, the places where they live and do their magic would be different than just something else. We’re thinking about. Well, let’s start talking about those places where they live and the first thing is going to be location, location location.

Where, where do you build this thing? Where, indeed, right, yeah and just any old Glen any old him yeah, I would say absolutely not right like in the same way that you know a castle, is strategically located to project power and and be physically imposing and also serve as a place of sanctuary. You might look at the magical, geography of your world and think I you know these are the locations where towers, sanctums, layers and other sorts of places, dwellings that your casters would inhabit that they’re going to be so, they might be say, planar confluences right.

We always talk about. You know the walls between worlds being thin or the the membrane of dimensions. That kind of the idea that the other world is just right there on the other side, maybe it’s a stretch of swamp where anyone can see goes the power of necromantic energy is strong there, because the link to the underworld is very close. It bleeds through into this world or any other number of other planes that could influence the prime aterial right.

Oh yes, I’m thinking like if you were at one of the absolute poles of the planet. If you could be right, there would be something very connected to either either the planes of order. I don’t know just that that kind of geographical symmetry hmm does your world have just regular ley lines, yeah just these these threads of energy, that that thread, the landscape. Right and they could be, they could be tied to the schools of magic right.

You could say, like yeah the ley lines, sort of enhance certain schools or certain types of spells, if you’re, using this sort of, like the spell tags that you know, certain online tools provide its are like ways to organize your magic in your world. Then you could say, like all summoning magic, maybe is enhanced by this particular type of ley line and therefore confluences of ley lines where it’s like summoning and divination and blasting and like those would be significant locations in your world and maybe they’re like fought over and Who has access to them and and which caster controls that location as a matter of politics and intrigue and backbiting yeah? And I mean anytime, you take you start investing.

You know investing something in real estate. You up the stakes of things and you you, you make enemies, people are going to be upset, that’s something that you took that’s denied to someone else, and so any number of places could be up for grabs. Also, in that same regard, you want to build a tower somewhere, and maybe you found a place that no other was it figured out right, but you are in the lands of this other Kingdom and you have to deal with more mundane territory alike.

No, no. I want to build a tower over here: yeah they’re, going to be able to see it, so you got a beseech the king or the landowner. Whoever and you know always her just the deed in exactly Riley or political concerns are like that right. You know you can’t just come here and build something you know, and so you can like complicate matters like that and then maybe having access to these places of power becomes a matter of geopolitics and just something that the kingdoms and nations of your world engage in And consider as their war aims and part of diplomacy, the world of razzle sin is much like this.

I sort of took a the idea of ley lines. It was like. Alright, there are these currents of magic over the world and some places say the island that razzle sin has her hut on is one such place. It masks. You know people in the same way that, like a non detection, spell, would and enhances illusions and things like that, while you’re on the island there’s an entire empire of mages who recognized this pattern across the world and began building cities and and places that they would Come together to work their magic and slowly over time, had a network of these, and instead of it being one that’s tied to say, the physical geography of the world and say, like I don’t know like the Roman Empire’s like frogs around the pond of the Mediterranean, Is one story and put it: this is more about the magical geography of the world and if you looked at it on a map, wouldn’t really wouldn’t really make sense, you’d be like man that part looks really difficult to defend or yeah.

Why in the world, would you all be clustered here, it’s all about the magic right and they have a continent spanning Empire based entirely on where the ley lines are or what happens when the magical confluence is like a thousand feet in the air right yeah? How do you get there? How do you build something energy, or do you have to talk to the cloud Giants now to like do a whole thing or there’s some air elementals, you can summon yeah.

Do you build a thousand-foot tower? The only part that’s magical is literally the very top it’s just. Everything else is just a really long way to get on the spot, but once you do it’s going to be epic right and maybe there’s like you know, stories and legends of all the attempts to make harnessing the power of this place work. You know this is the part where, as storytellers and game masters and world builders, we break out of the normal mold with these places, if you’re, using something like a game system to help create your world or or to present it, you have to abide by certain Rules sometimes, or it’s very least, you know, you’re expected to you know your players might say like oh well, you can’t always just make things up or or they want justifications for them.

Having places like this lets, you say like well, the normal rules don’t apply here. Something’s different and whether you’re not you’re, basing it on a planar cosmology that influences the place the past history of something maybe a you know. A tragedy occurred there and sorry types of magic now or more more heightened right. Oh yeah, like history of a place like an epic battle, I mean we already think you know.

I’m like you know that certain battlefields are haunted, but what, if they’re haunted with the vestiges of the magic that was used there? Oh god, I know. That’s a big part of land between two rivers, yeah literally the whole thing literally. The whole world is kind of like that, and so you have like living spells and and if it fits in, say the mourn, land and Eberron or would fit in a dark Sun. And it probably has a place in land between two rivers in there.

And those are places were magical, you know, devastation or just destruction has absolutely destroyed the place, and maybe your place of power is. It reflects that and a desolate wasteland, because it’s constantly wracked by violent elemental energies that scour you know the land or the opposite. It’s a verdant forest and then otherwise you know kind of lifeless place and maybe that signifies that there’s a link to say the Fae wild they’re spilling out yeah, I just filling out or like particularly fertile soil, because it’s coming straight from elemental earth.

And you know it’s full of its, you know whatever it is in your world that makes plants grow, you know, was the site a place where a great spell was once worked, and now it impacts the location, maybe a particularly hard-fought battle in your own campaign. That happens say it, you know mid-levels or something becomes one of these places and speaking of the lam 20 rivers, we had a character parish and battle there and where they were buried, has since become a place of peace and sanctuary in part, because of spells that Were cast when the character was buried there, but also because it just makes sense for the character and they were interviewed.

They were a tenth level druid when they died, that you don’t have that kind of power. Just doesn’t go away, it stays with you and it would influence the place so holy sites. Tombs may be. The graveyards of magicians are secret places because their magic doesn’t go anywhere, it stays with them and you you don’t want that just lying around, so you know all of these things. You can use to create a place of power and then like alter the rules of magic in your world, and that’s just the start of this, though right yeah, I mean you guys start ground up so now we start moving up or move down.

Maybe you want to go underground, but what is it what’s its purpose right? What are we doing here? Jim? You know, you found a location in your world. You know cliff tops with shrouded by fog and cloud and the violent energies of air and earth. You want to say experiment with some spells that deal with those conflicting elemental energies, and so you build a location there to experiment, or maybe you want to use those winds and, and you know, rock slides and the like as a deterrent.

You just want some peace and quiet. You know like what you want out of the location or what, rather, what the Creator wants out of it. It’s going to say a lot about how it’s built is this uh, the country villa of a court mage who you know likes the the peace and tranquility of this place, that it masks prying eyes? It just has a soothing effect on them, but it’s not a fortification. They’re not doing like in depth spell research here, but it is like the abode of a wizard or something like that.

So it’s magical in and of itself that’s very different than the sinister skull. Sorcerer, who you know weaves nekron, to rituals atop of the Obsidian tower. You know over the cliffs of acid kind of location, yeah, oh yeah, much different. My wizard would totally just wouldn’t build a tower on top of the peak just the peak of the mountain yeah. That’s all his tower. Yes, maybe like a dwarven wizard like that right right from the outside.

It doesn’t even look like anything suspicious, but the inside, if you were able to see it’s riddled with workshops and foundries and they’re all the rune smithing that they need to get up yes, building a race of atomic super dwarfs. Then we will rule the world that kind of cavern space yeah, it’s being tracked, so research, libraries, collective, you know we’re assuming a single occupant and you know creator.

But maybe this is like a cabal of mages or something yeah come together for a particular purpose and have built a structure for a particular purpose or a place like say, candlekeep right, like candlekeep in the Forgotten Realms, you could easily take that concept, move it to Your own and say like this is a magical library. The fact that it’s a magical library turns this entire location into a place of power, and you know clerics and priests of God them knowledge attend here and and getting entrance is a grueling and demanding task.

But once you’re here you have access to. You know the spirits of sages who still live here or or maybe you know you know the temple of the God of knowledge like they’ll. It will actually come down and talk to you and answer questions. It is a 7 a.M. Class that research papers do on Tuesday and day what you do with the place and how you present the structures. There’s going to tell a lot of the story that you want to tell and more importantly, like how it’s used.

You know if this is for a game you’re, creating an adventure location that your players can run around in it and potentially change things. So it’s worth thinking about like how is this place laid out? What’s the point of it all right, yeah just start with just an example: we’ve talked about before my character, air stadium, blinking, the diviner. We took that that castle in in the mirror mirror of dead man.

It was just an observatory with the telescope and it’s like my guy just had an existential crisis with killing people when he’s enough, when he’s a diviner so he’s like you know what this is place to sit down, put down some roots, right and and – and that Was perfect like it became his Wizards tower in our headquarters and it became all of those things like it: sort of organically grow. You like take over another location, which is another thing right, like you’re repurposing, a structure, that’s originally built for something and probably has been repurposed several times, yeah being able to like tell a story through how you present a location is a skill that you can learn As a dungeon master, because it’s a better way of doing it than just like info dumping – or you know like yeah, this place was great.

Here’s what you know about it through this spell or the sage versus letting them go there and discover and see how it you know all fits together like the second document in this place, made changes to it from its original function or something like that. It’s a way of showing, rather than telling and a way of like imparting a sense of wonder into location yeah. The big thing for me, with structures and and fantastical settings and worlds is this concept of sacred geometry, right of there being a type of architectural magic that you can engage in and if you think of of things like rune Smith’s and the like, then the idea Of objects being spells or spells being cast into objects.

It’s not that much of a stretch to then go like well. Why not buildings and if not buildings, then why not arrangements of buildings and, if, like a Magic Circle, if viewed from above, is an arrangement of certain glyphs and patterns, and you know in a certain way, then perhaps the buildings and walls and features of the landscape. That have been shaped could also make an arrangement that blogs similar magical energies.

And now you start thinking about the fact that say, the arrangement of rooms in the location might be a spell in and of itself yeah or the really weird Menino’s. Why or designed to disrupt spell magic right like the interior of the bar and the Dresden Files right, I forget his name now, but the way that the interior of this pub is laid back in alleys back in alleys right, he does first magic is first magic And perhaps there are you incorporate all of these things into your a place of power in that the entrance and places that need to be guarded are like magical baffles it just it’s just difficult to practice magic there because of the way everything’s laid out, but the Closer you get to the major sanctum magic becomes actually easier, more powerful and focused because this arrangement of walls with carefully embedded spells and runes and the materials that they’ve used to build it blog the magical energy to their.

You know casting chamber, which you know the air is electric with it, and all of those are, you know different ways to incorporate this idea of like the building as being a spell or being part of the magic of it, yeah just woven into it like Dresden’s. At the top of the hill in the island in the middle you can even reach, I think it calls it but yeah it was supposedly it’s it’s laid with spells and that’s what you’re going to want to do right.

I mean like you’re, going to be wanting to put your your. This is where you want to put your glyphs of warding. This is where you’re going to put all your your guards and wards. If you can get it. Yes, how you kind of lay out the the geography yeah but different Wizards are going to approach it different ways. Yes, we’ll get to that in a bit. Oh sure. Well, we’ve been talking about these casters yeah, but the spells are a part of the place, though right, because a lot of these spells are particularly we’re talking in a game like Dungeons and Dragons.

You know you cast them every day for a certain number time then become permanent until dispelled, and so, if you’ve got a place, that’s changed hands a few times that’s been or just like, been occupied by the same person for a long time. Then there might be old magic lying about spells that were laid a long time ago that have had time to wear and tear and fray or or even weirder things right like become self-aware dungeons of dragons.

It’s built on the idea of Van C and magic, which is that mad spells are living things that a caster traps in their mind. You know sort of like releases out into the world, then, if you follow that, then spells are wild things that you don’t just want to be leaving around unattended now all the time, so I you got to cast that thing every day, keep it in line. You might find that you know if your wizards tower arcane sanctum is, you know, abandoned that the magic has gone wild and frayed and coupled with the natural magic of the place, these spells that have been laid into the architecture and the the you know.

The entire structure of the place might behave differently, and might you know not work exactly the way say, Player’s Handbook spells work or something and like being something else entirely. Well, it could change the way that the people exploring it practice magic as well yeah, and – and maybe you could do a thing where you don’t have to cast at the entire amount of times to you know bring up to heal yeah.

But you know for a certain amount of time. Maybe you have to tend the spells. You know strictly like dodge the Dragons. The the counter spell mechanic is a good sort of benefit for this, like you just have a caster check right. You know it’s ten plus the spell level and just a quick caster check. Do you make it do not and and that’s a good way to sort of model that sort of difficulty. Otherwise, you know whatever system you’re using you can impose some kind of penalty or something, but I think it’s a good way to reinforce that these places are not normal and they’re, not just like a regular location, there’s something different about them, yeah and worthwhile.

Thinking about how magic and spells also fit into the structure of the place, don’t you yeah we talked about. You know how to build them, how how you’re going to build them? Sure, because also I mean hell, you can just build them with certain spells. Oh for one another thing worth mentioning yeah, you know that’s like the: what is it instant fortress or whatever you know, if you do that, there’s like you can literally just build your whole tower.

How you want it? Oh yeah you could like. Maybe the places get you summon the structure right like that. The whole point of being at this place is that you activate it and there’s like now the structure, the forms sort of around you is summoned into being yeah yeah. Well, you’re there, yes, yeah! Oh yeah, you got a little good disappearing structure. Oh yeah yeah, the Sun comes away, but you’re also going to want to populate that thing.

Right, yeah, I mean you know some wizards might be okay, with just being the only thing bubbling around there. Thirty storey tower sure, but generally there’s there’s usually there’s usually something moving around in the halls, doing things yeah their little homunculus and familiars. So you know in terms of like the inhabitants of the place. First of all, are they the original occupants? They are they supposed to be there.

Are they squatters or invaders, or something like that is in consideration, but, like, let’s assume they’re, you know they’re on purpose right brought there by the creator of it. Then it’s like. Are they guests? You know. Is this someone that the caster or mage has you know? I want you to be here and we’re going to talk about. You know something diplomatic or work on research together, maybe they’re a family member or something you can get really sort of weird.

With this and depending on how powerful the caster is, you might have like time lost guests or or creatures from other dimensions that are just like staying with the wizard as just as a friend or something like that, a lot of times, it’s fun, to incorporate like Extra planar creatures in this sense not as adversaries, not as part of a plot they have to you, know suss out, but just as color background uh, someone that they could interact with if they wanted to, but it’s not vital, and so they can approach the fantastical Elements sort of on their own, but it’s offered you know, yeah they’re, staying at the suppose, R star, because they’re like the getting diplomatic immunity or something from their dimension right yeah.

If they leave this tower they’re going to get taken back exactly right, it might be that these towers are the only places that extra planar creatures that otherwise butt heads with each other can come and speak civilly or maybe Wizards towers are known as as like neutral Ground, for you know the blood war or something like that where emissaries from this demon in this devil, you know just having a some tea right now or some angels name of chance, free dragon ante.

That’s one! Those those arguments were there willingly and and are represent potential friendly encounters with for the PCs but servants of the you know the master of the tower scene announcing both seen and unseen, both magical and non magical, and we start really kind of thinking about it. You could easily have an eclectic mix of conjured constructs that handle like the menial, labor and data tasks of the place and then, like highly-specialized, you know actual people who are there like.

Oh, yes, I I’m, you know, I take care of the wards. It’s my job to attend to the warding glyphs and the like, or it was beautiful right. You know like any of the phones going to really like mine this for some silly stuff. You can look at like the court of Louis, the 14th or some of the other Louie’s before they all got there had to cut off, and this and sort of see like this is the person who opens this particular door for the king or wipes his bum.

With this particular cloth and yeah, you can really get silly with the amount of servants that a caster might have, because maybe they’re, incredibly powerful old beyond anyone’s. You know, understanding and you know, collected these sorts of servants. Definitely an on-site tailor. Maybe there’s a huntsman, a groundskeeper master-at-arms, someone that attends to all the magical beasts that they’ve collected, who else is going to feed the Griffins or deal with the pet giant that we have out back that kind of thing yeah the master-at-arms would be like the smallest.

Whatever it was, yeah little creature they’re a little busier yeah. Definitely like a quicklink, oh yeah, you go quickly. Those are people who are, there will say mostly willingly mostly willing right. You might also have summoned creatures who are bound to the place either in. Like a summoning circle or proper cage, or maybe just like they can’t leave the grounds, perhaps the the arcane sanctum is literally a sanctuary of some kind, for you know conjured creatures who are unable to get back home, and you know you can’t just have them running Around so these mages, you know they just let them live here.

They’re, fine, but too much time away from their home has made them a little crazy. Let’s not talk to them and and you’re. You know you’re there more as caretakers, then you know like proper mages. All of those things you can feature in there and are again ways to impart information to the party. You know they stumble across. You know a hemisphere of Darkness brightly glowing runes around the outside of it.

They know that they found some kind of creature that doesn’t want to be disturbed being bound in a summoning circle, but who’s to say they can’t just have a chat, a friendly conversation with it yeah yeah. What could go wrong? Just take that moto dust over there and lay it over the rune, you know what’ll be the wiser. You know that kind of power, Jim yeah. It brings up a concept in in in role-playing games that I like, which is the the nega dungeon, the the type of dungeon that you go into and the normal things that you would do in a dungeon taking things killing monsters rummaging around yeah.

It’s going to get you not just it’s going to be bad for you personally, but also for the setting yeah. And so I like the idea of putting very powerful creatures bound in like summoning circles or magical prisons and the like, and just putting them in the path of the players and being like you could let them out. If you wanted they’re, certainly going to do everything they can to trick you into letting them out it’s a fun thing to put in there along with maybe more mundane prisoners.

You know, maybe that’s where the Kings nephew got up to yeah. Oh he’s off at boarding, school, honey, don’t write, and so any number of say, political prisoners, inconvenient family members. You know exiles from foreign lands. All of them could be found in the dungeons of prisons of places like this, because who else to take care of these people, but these mages yeah for price right sure not just inhabitants, but like the particularly contents of things, the objects that you might find there.

There’s probably meditation chamber summoning rooms, ritual magic chambers, you might have all kinds of odd guest quarters, depending on st eries beastie Ares and those four more aquatic persuasions. You know an aviary of some kind for different Flyers that you might know hosts there. Well, I’m seeing a sanctimonious now if you go to earth you know, and in the middle is all the mages that built the place, looks were like a node type structure that could be like you could have that because they’re studying the different elements and now and What began is like a research and observation location became a place where the creatures from these other planes, like made first contact as I’m kind and maintained.

You know like an ambassador sort of relationship there or something there’s a lot of different ways to play. It out. Great big summoning, like rooms where there’s gigantic, you know creatures that are in the midst of moving between worlds and it takes a while right. It’s going to take a week to bring this behemoth over from where it is, but we need it trust me. We don’t mess with it totally be worth.

It trust me, libraries of all sorts of outlandish and strange books, both forbidden and and otherwise that’s just that’s like the magical, fantastical stuff there’s you know more mundane pantries and kitchens and rooms and halls, and things like that. Fine, so it’s a place that can really come to life and, depending on whether it’s like an active, like you know, the original inhabitants are there they’re fulfilling the purposes of these structures, kind of thing or it’s, an old ruined place with the ghosts of the inhabitants And old spells that haunt the halls and no one’s been here in ages, and what are we doing here again like it really can really tell an interesting story with that and and really contribute to your world and then, like showcase, what makes it unique, there’s someone We left out yeah yeah, the man at the top.

The whole reason that this tower, the sanctum has been built who’s building this thing like, and what are they going to build? What are they going to build? It’s obviously going to be determined by who’s who’s building. It diviner is going to build a much different tower than a than an Evoque er or an abjad, certainly certainly so. The mage themselves are is a big factor in a lot of this and when you’re thinking about these things, you know, maybe the mage is the first thing that kind of pops up, but you know the personality of the caster, how they wield magic.

Are they a very demanding, iron-willed kind of figure, or they you know a motive and and freewheeling in their magic and and their discipline right, like all of that, is going to factor into what kind of place this is? Is it the abode of a long-lived, caster or one more shorter lived? Maybe someone who practiced a particular kind of magic that was unique to them. That’s colored the place or a one, that’s maybe more common and widespread, and therefore this location is quite coveted.

Are they still there or are they gone, and for what reason would they be gone? All of those things can help. You both determine what you want to do with this location once you’ve actually created it, because, presumably you know you’re not just thinking all this stuff up for the hell of it. It’s going to be either interacted with with players you’re going to present it. It’s part of your world, and so thinking through all of this as a way to like really add depth to these places and get them interested in exploring them, because poking your head around in this, this location is what makes the whole thing fun right.

Oh, it totally is, and I mean, and not only that, but everything we’re talking about here. Eventually, one of those players who’s a caster – is going to want to build a little bit of a sanctum of their own one day and settle down. Oh sure, it’s a unique one over themselves, but but you know all this information is is: is there for them as well? So you can. You can build the best sanctum that you can have the best thing to it.

It’s worth sort of thinking about, like as you’re presenting these things as game elements, that there is a there’s, a breakpoint somewhere for your group, where the outlandish bizarre kind of things or the the depth and layers of traps and wards and guards and Guardians that you’ve Put on can be like go from fun to frustrating rarely very quickly and and and you know, as you’re, creating these things, you’re sort of like a dungeon master or a world builder and you’re like oh man.

Of course it would have this and that and oh my god, it wouldn’t be impossible to break into, and oh this is the perfect setting like thinking about it in terms of its playability of whether or not the play set and what we’ve created is it’s conducive To play something that you really should think about, because often times you create things in a war old, and it isn’t until you present them to the players that you realize, like oh wait, a minute that seemed that was like fun.

When I was thinking about it and like oh yeah, this wizard is awesome like you’re, never going to get the drop on them and then like three hours into a session, the party feels stumping you’re like oh I’m sorry about that. I’m pretty sure today, with my story, bound crew with the glyph checkerboard on the glyph chair, where they got through that. But when you got to the the stillborn neo key that exists both in the ethereal and the prime material all right around on the web of thoughts that are in the room and basically project your worst like the most hated enemy.

So you attack it, but the whole thing is it’s a psychic thing, so the second you attack it. You take the same amount of damage until you figure out like oh no, I need to be jumping through the fog to whatever is back 20-feet back, not the thing. That’s right in front of me: yeah yeah ooh, so you get like at a moment where players are just you’ll, get a player, a revolt eventually well, they finally figured out and we’re toss bottle.

Finally, like he’s like wait a minute, I think it’s over there misty stepped and saw it something a tiny miyagi thing, and you know so that once I figured it out, but it was just like yeah, it’s a fine line. Right, like you, have to really know your group, and sometimes it might take a long time of playing together to figure out where that line is and and even then, even if you’ve been playing with people for years where that line is in a given night is Changes right, I think it’s just worth considering, because it I know for myself, I you know in designing these things for all the different games that have played over the years.

There have been plenty of times, nothing like all right after the sixth wall of force comes down and traps the party in to eat, and you know you’re just like wait a second. No, you can let your imagination run wild to the point where it’s no longer a thing to be played with and interacted with, yeah, and I think, keeping those things in mind like it’s fun, to think of all the fantastical things you can do, but we’re always Remembering that, when you’re talking about a game, these are meant to be interacted with meant to be played with and and explored poked around and looked at, maybe not without consequence.

Then that’s a good way to make sure that you’re going to stay on that side of interesting and fun and if you start toeing the line up into frustration, there’s ways that you can scale that back yeah and you know – or you know, every time, your players Just like aha moment comes through and it goes from frustrating to fun right. You know it’s a part of the nature of the game, but yeah, but but the big thing is to never forget that these are opportunities to enrich your world with, with with the magical with the fantastical – and you know – hopefully they go poking around in your in Your sanctum, yes, have a great time head on over to patreon for our weekly podcast and so much more web DM is also on Twitch with three weekly games, which we upload to web DM plays our second youtube champion, I’m familiar with the concept of like AI Gods and people interpreting technical processes as spells and rituals, not particularly gene Wolfe’s series, although I know that the the new Sun series is, you know like heavily inspired new manera and some other kind of science fantasy stuff.

I think my favorite interation of it is probably in you know, weird module the anomalous subsurface environment, where it’s like these orbital gods and AI platforms, communicate with priests down on the ground through like monitors and things like that and that’s how they sort of interpret their Their signs I had a setting that I never used. I developed it for awhile parts of it made it into lamb, 22 rivers, but I never ran a game in it where it was like part of an intergalactic civilization right and it’s like a pleasure planet or something like that, and it goes dark.

The whatever intergalactic networks of communication travel it was, it was a part of disintegrate, and it’s just by itself. Oh there’s like shades of tech ml if you’re familiar with that one, but this one was distinctly like there’s they’re these AI, that orbit the planet in satellites and now they’re cut off from their other AI, and they slowly descend into madness and insanity. Just because they don’t get the regular updates – and you know those kinds of things zero here – one there uh-huh and and like you know the the people who were able to communicate with – and you know, interact with those satellites.

You know they’ve controlled, like the weather on the planet. They controlled all these kinds of things. Oh yeah, when Raisa went dark, it was never pretty, it was never pretty, and so they had they had them like sort of embedded in them and as sort of like machines that were in them. So it would appear as spell-casting, but it would, but you know, wouldn’t be it’s just accessing the program codes of these a eyes that control various things through super science, some things so yeah.

I like that that you know that setup. It’s very very fun, pretty sure there was a original series episode about that. Not only a Futurama episode. Definitely a Futurama episode. Yeah do like 40 KS. That way, right, like what’s a machine spirit other than an AI right, like that’s how I see the Machine spirit they are. I know that in 40 ka I are like you know heresy, but I just feel like they’re, probably too stupid to realize that they’re surrounded by AI.

It’s really only these few that they, you know whatever all Aerotech so

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Creating a Pantheon: Gods & Goddesses in 5e Dungeons and Dragons and TTRPG – Web DM

Do we really need to bring in creating gods there, too? The existence of a pantheon of gods and fantasy role-playing is one of those things that I find very bizarre personally, because the Pantheon’s that are created for these fantasy role-playing games very rarely resemble the pantheon like pantheon of deities that we can point to in in.

Like Earth’s own, religious history, where the gods are intimately tied to some sort of mythology or something and very closely connected with each other and there’s all these stories about them that that tied them together well, yeah I mean you, know: Athena busting out of Zeus’s head And her daughter, blinded and it’s all very interconnected, like almost like familial there’s that there’s the whole like the world is a rotting carcass and the animals and monsters and gods come out of it.

That’s sort of like Norse mythology, as I as I understand it. At least but then you get to like Dungeons and Dragons and Dungeons and Dragons derived fantasy, which dungeons of dragons has been around long enough. Now that it has both influenced other genres, like iterations of fantasy role-playing, whether it’s tabletop or article games or whatever and then has in turn been influenced by those that it influenced first off.

So it’s sort of like having a conversation with itself and I think it is eating its own tail right and I think when some things are introduced into that and they’re not examined and they’re, not reimagined, then they just get regurgitate it ad nauseam to the point Where it’s like here’s another bog-standard, fantasy pantheon, which is just a collection of micro monotheism’s that have no weight to them, there’s not a faith, that’s necessary for your character to belong to and to practice and to engage with it’s just like this is the god of Fire and the goddess of the earth, and the god of whatever in commerce and whatever, and it’s just like it’s bloodless tooth gods and I frankly am tired of them.

And so I I it’s one of those things when I, when I see a fantasy setting, and it’s got yet another fantasy Pantheon, that’s like why did you even go to the trouble of making this up yourself like it’s nothing original about it, there’s nothing different about It it’s just the same thing, I’m talking strictly in like a published adventure type. You know I’m buying a campaign setting if it’s if it’s got another fantasy Pantheon in it, it’s a mark against it.

For me cuz, it’s like right. I don’t you, don’t even need to think to create up one of these. You just do it well yeah. I mean okay uh. What’s the what’s the the god of the Sun and morning’s a new beginning yeah, you know you’re just slapping a different face and a different name right on an already known concept, and that, while that is easy to do what are some different kind of schemes that You could at least draw from right, so, if you’re looking to freshen things up, you want something different.

My suggestion would be to first look outside of the Pantheon model of divinities polytheism right. It’s a polytheism that I find very bizarre and very little connection to the historical modes that I’m familiar with, and maybe for some people who are not steeped in like ancient religion and whatever else you know that they’ve spent way too much time reading about they don’t Care, you know, and in a bog-standard by-the-book kind of pantheon.

I do this when I’m like. I don’t want to think about it like this. My the point of this world is not to go in-depth about the gods or I’m going to let them come from the bottom up, in which case I will let the players take the lead on what kind of gods there are yeah. This show is a top-down approach, type show we’re talking of world building we’re talking crafting the deep backstory of your world that will inform your campaign, and so, in that sense it’s worth taking a look at the divinities and-and-and gods and the like that you have in Your setting and asking some real questions about them.

Why am I making the choices that I’m making? Is there something about the choices that I’m making that I’m just like going off of what was there before and if I’m doing that, then doing it because you’re conscious of it not because you’re, just like replicating the same mode of the pantheon of monotheism, the collection Of monotheistic religions that the most fantasy is, you could go like full-on straight monotheism, and this is one of those that I have personally found and at both, in my experience as a dungeon master and in reading about online, that it makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

That when you say there is one god in my setting, this is it. These are the powers associated with it. These are the social structures that are associated with it. This is the religion. That’s attached to it that when you do that, you number one your if you’re not creating an expansive enough monotheism, then you might be limiting character concepts for your players. They might be resentful of that.

There’s a whole real-world angle going on over here right, where people are just you know, maybe they’re uncomfortable with real world religions, they’re not familiar with it. They don’t like it they’re, irreligious or a religious or atheist or whatever stripe of non-religious participating. They are they just don’t want to have to deal with it. Right of monotheism is one that’s something to bring up in a session zero there or even before then it’s just like hey my setting has a you know monotheistic flavor, there’s one God.

You could go the other route like dual gods: sort of man, icky and dualism, where there’s one god and then an opposing God, whether that’s light and dark creation and destruction, good evil law chaos, whatever dichotomy you’re going for that, can be one that ties nicely in With a cosmic conflict of some kind, you know I’m thinking of something like middle-earth the main deity, that’s in middlee of middle-earth, aloo, guitar and nel, cuore and worn off, and all the other sort of like dark and gellick beings and and the that’s kind of a Setting that has a monotheism right, there’s like this one God and then created all these other celestial beings to help it create the world and earth and all that other business.

So there’s celestial beings that you can appeal to that. You can interact with and whatever, but they’re not gods, they’re more powerful than mortals might as well be gods, but there’s still a ranking there. So that’s sort of a way of blending the two. If you’re doing like a dualism, maybe one of the deities is it proper deity and the other is more of like a demonic figure of some kind, lesser in power, but because they’re lesser in power, they’re, it’s easier for them to interact with the mortal world or Something we can go the opposite end of the spectrum and be like full-on animist, where, like everything, has a spirit and a godling and elemental spirit of something or other and and the role of divine classes in the game is play cating all of these spirits.

So if you have say a cleric of war, for instance, then there’s no God of war that they appeal to. But there are spirits and gods of war, maybe a god of fear or a God of discipline, or something like like that. Where they’re not like, all-powerful all-encompassing, deities, they’re more like forces that move in the world that declares a part of so those are some options that are available and the reason why I kind of bring it up – and I don’t mean to like misdirect our viewers here, Where it’s like we’re going to talk about building a Pantheon, a Pantheon you shouldn’t do we will get to building a Pantheon here in a minute, yeah yeah, but before you get to that step of laying out which gods are in your setting, it is worthwhile to Ask yourself: why am I doing this? What is the point of the divine beings in my setting? Why am I choosing a Pantheon over some of these other schemes or get other arrangements of divinities in your game like? Why is that? And if the answer is just kind of like mm-hmm, there should be gods or spells right.

That’s an opportunity for a Dungeon Master to sit with that concept a little longer and think it through and fully develop. It yeah. Thinking of some questions that we can ask ourselves for for those things, I really think that a founding myth well yeah, it’s important right. I was going to say Jim. Where do you begin? I begin at the beginning. At the beginning, in the first chapter, the founding myth is important because it sets the tone for everything in your campaign you’re starting at a cosmic level, a large scale right.

I’m a big advocate of the bottom-up approach to campaign design, where it’s like. You really just need a starting Adventure, location and stuff that’s going on there and is there go there? No! Well, then, who cares like then? Who cares but world building is a fun exercise. It helps us and, as you build a campaign from the bottom up, you can take the time in between sessions to start top down building as well and see what I mean and see where they meet and – and you know you take the elements that are mentioned In the bottom-up play and then create a top-down elements for them in between sessions, for instance, and so thinking about a founding myth is important.

Where do the planes come from who lives there and how did they get there? That’s kind of where I would start. This is the entire cosmos. Is it the Great Wheel, cosmology of outer plane transit, though you know astral, Prime ethereal inner? Is it something completely different? Are you going with like the fourth edition model of the elemental chaos and then the sort of the astral sea method? There or something completely different thinking about that is going to be important, considering the place of the multiverse and the planes, and everything is important.

Those chapters in the dmg that talk about the different planes and what happens there, our jumping-off points for this. Maybe you start combining different ones or coming up with your own altogether, moving on from that, if there are planes and if there are inhabitants to those planes, then what about the gods? What are the gods come from where they eternal yeah? Are they always present? One day decided to start creating things or do the mortal races and creation precede the gods and later on, the gods come about because of belief and faith, and even the gods there could be from a bottom up approach right and the people actually create the gods.

That’s kind of a strong theme that runs through Dungeons and Dragons. We’re, like the active faith of a bunch of people, brings power to the gods, that’s kind of a default mode for it yeah kind of bring up a point. You you you, you touched on earlier when it comes to faith and in the creation of if it’s God’s versus men like who created who huh in in D & D, such a thing in our own world with religion, is the fact of faith.

It’s it’s. The fact of you know it’s in the absence of evidence like, but in D & D, like evidences everywhere you, if you do your prayers and you cast a spell you’re a priest or a cleric. You get spells. How does that affect faith? And how does faith change because there is direct evidence? Maybe if you’re going by that baseline, where existence of the deities in Dungeons and Dragons worlds and other sort of typical traditional fantasy worlds is real and there’s evidence for it.

Because of spells, you can talk to them, you can summon their servants. You can do all these things. Then faith is less a matter of like the kind of faith that we understand it of like a devotion to a principle or an ideal or a something that we have no tangible proof of, and it is instead adherence to a stricture of rules and and a Code of conduct that is handed down from a higher order being and then faith there is less about like trust and hope, and it’s more about obedience and and conformity yeah or the faith that that what you adhere to is the right path.

I like personally like adding in that element of our their gods or their. Not that’s why I really liked ever on right, like there is no evidence of gods in everyone. There’s clerical magic, there’s divine magic, but there’s no evidence of gods, necessarily there’s enough that people are faithful. But it’s not like traditional D & D, where there’s concrete proof, yeah and even and then there there are factions within D & D who are like.

Well. Those aren’t gods, they’re, artists, well, it’ll, be an example. From my own experience, the way I decided to handle that in story valve uh-huh, religion isn’t really talked about a lot, because all these people came from all these different spheres and all kind of jumbled together and thrown together and the blender on this one planet. So you have all these people that believe in all these different concepts that are similar, but they call them by different names.

So there are shrines everywhere too, like oh, the shrine of the morning Lord or the morning, or you know new beginnings like there’s a shrine to that concept, and people go and pay homage to their God at that shrine, but other than that like people. Just it’s more of a personal thing, because I wanted to have it that way, because I really wanted the players any of the players that wanted to play a cleric or someone who would believe in a higher power to bring like.

What do you want to believe in like I want you to create that really and for you to express that? Not me informing you how you should behave right, because I think that that’s just far more interesting, I can see that sort of like player led a Pantheon creation, is something I fall back on a lot just because it really tailors what the player wants to be. Most relevant to that particular campaign. Now I’ve done ones where you know it’s monotheism with different factions and divisions within the faith within the Church of it that represent.

You know different elements and allow for different kinds of clerics. Moving on from sort of the the founding myths and all those are there, certain high-minded questions and getting down like the nitty-gritty of design yourself, there’s two main approaches right, like sort of the ways that you can look at creating a Pantheon, you can either take the Game first sort of like build a game, build a set of gods that are supported by the existing game, mechanics yeah, yeah or you can flip the script and create a set of gods.

And then, if there are no game mechanics to back it up, you create them yourself. So, looking at game mechanics for gods, how do you do that? Where you’re not just filing off Lysander and putting a new name on for your morning boy, I mean, if that’s what’s working for you right, like don’t forget to skip the first part of the article and the rant and everything you know. If what you want is the standard fantasy list, you know maybe you’re new to the game.

Yeah, maybe you’ve come from. You know a popular stream or something like that and you’re like all right. Well, they’ve got these gods and critical role or high rollers or adventure zone or whatever it is that you’re coming from you’re, not steeped in years and decades of crusty game experience that you need that newness to kind of get any more more, that dopamine rush anymore And and the new stuff is fresh: it’s not cliched, it’s not old hat, it’s not boring, then taking the existing Dungeons and Dragons domains and alignments.

That’s a good place to start, and so you can go all right either. I’m going to take the domains that exist in 5th edition, dungeon, dragons or whatever game I’m using and create gods based on those. So there’s going to be a god of war, god of light or whatever or whatever, that mischievous guy, mischievous god knowledge, etc, etc. Or maybe the alignment chart you’ve got at least one for each alignment, or maybe others, and that all the very least you have a baseline there.

That’s one way to do it and, if you’re looking for something quick, if you’re looking for something easy, if you’re looking for something that’s a low barrier of entry for your players, you don’t want to overload them with lore or you want to leave the door open For them to interject their own war, for those classes or for those players who are playing divine classes, then maybe that’s the way that you go and – and you don’t have to spend a ton of time on it.

You just give it some thought present it to the players they’re going to run with most of it, you’ll fill in the gaps there, but you’re just sort of done: you’re, assigning names and they’re moving on yeah. That’s one way of doing it and if speed is good, if you’re looking for something, that’s more traditional, that’s the way to go, but if you’re looking for something different, you want something unique.

You want something that that’s tailor-made to your setting, then you’re going to have to homebrew and you’re going to have to the gods of the setting that you need based on whatever criteria you think is appropriate and then, if there are any holes in the game, mechanics You’re going to have to create your own domain and you’re going to have to create your own game rules to fill in that gap I mean, if you need them right, like I mean it’s like, if you see it as the DM, like, oh there’s, a hole There, but if nobody’s playing a cleric that needs that right, then why worry about it right, yeah until it’s necessary and then you bring it up.

An example of this would be something like I’m looking for a game world that has a polytheism that I recognized from ro from like the ancient Mediterranean and and I’m thinking here, something that’s more along like not necessarily like the Greek city-states with their patron gods. But more like the Fertile Crescent and in that era, where it’s like there’s a and yeah they’ve got like each city has its own deity and part of warfare is like stealing that God from the city, because it’s going to steal the you know the power of That city, let’s make that fantastic, yeah and now I might have each nation or people or polity – that’s in the world – might have a god that backs them up, but those gods might not map on to the existing divine domains.

And so I might chop up to the domains and make then rearrange the abilities within them so that they fit the you know the new Pantheon that I’m creating. I might homebrew some content and say, like you know, this is the city state and there’s a goddess here that rules over it, knowledge isn’t quite working for me here. War isn’t quite working for me here, but I’m going to come up with something that that’ll work for me yeah.

This is something about being a dungeon master that when it I find personally, is the most frustrating for me as a internet, Dungeons and Dragons personality, because I look at home brewing content as you go nuts right there. Is there your no barriers here, there’s no wrong answers, there’s! No! Whatever there are things that won’t work for your table yeah, but unless it’s a catastrophic Games, chances are unbalanced.

Homebrew is not going to ruin one session of your game, and if it is the you need to take a step back and talk to your players about what’s going on why this game element is ruining it, but creating your own homebrew content is just you just Do it you don’t need my approval, you don’t need the approval of the deity designers, you just do it well, I mean, if you’re talking about like concepts for like deities that might just totally destroy a setting.

Remember that people, even in the real world when it comes to religions, have accepted some crazy. I mean to go back to the Mediterranean. There I mean the big thing about inky and in Yana, and all that is inky goes down to the tigris-euphrates and-and-and Skeets won out and that’s how you have those rivers right, as that’s literally from the the girding of his loins in the fruit of his loins. There’s a lot there’s so much like there’s like a bodily fluid.

That’s what I’m saying is like you got to go pretty far, do people go whoa, whoa, whoa yeah and it’s sort of like taking the ancient Mediterranean in the ancient ancient Mesopotamia as as sort of our our archetypes for this, because I do, I think that those Analogs in our own, real world are better suited for the type of gaming with Dungeons and Dragons is, as opposed to medieval history. I don’t know that medieval history is a good historical example to you, and ancient history is a huge period of time right, but taking those models and mapping them on that means that your Pantheon czar, local and particular and idiosyncratic – and it’s not like yeah the Lysander – That they worship over in the Northeast is the same as a little painter.

They worship in the southwest yeah. It’s like franchising right like a franchise. I’m a Donald, that’s what I mean when I say that they’re, a collection of like micro, monotheism’s and then in baseline D & D. You’ve just got these. It’s it’s like! Okay, ima! I follow this one God it’s the same everywhere I go. There’s no division! There’s! No conflict, there’s no particularity to it. It’s just is it’s easy is what it is.

Yes, it’s a low barrier to entry. I find it so uninspiring and I would much rather have a a collection of just like well. This is this city’s God, and then this god is the god of the river and maybe there’s a really powerful God that that has control over something. You know that’s very influential, but there’s a mix match and they’re all related to one another or interact with each other in some way.

A good example that I use for this, sometimes, if there’s a role-playing game that came out gosh 10 or 12 years ago, now, Artesia Adventures in the known world right. What I’m talking about it’s based on a comic book series Artesia, is cancelled and I have no idea what’s happening to it anyway. It’s one of my favorite comic book series and one of my favorite games, even though I’ve never really had a chance to run it.

The whole world is created by this founding mythology and there’s a goddess and her daughters are, you know, Sheba gets daughters and they beget offspring and their offspring begets more and eventually mortals into the picture, and some of the offspring are monsters and the interaction between the Offspring and and the mortals creates the ages of this world, and you can see as you’re reading sort of the history of this world up to the present day.

The interaction of the gods, both in intensity and like early on they’re, really intends and the gods are everywhere – mortals – are interacting with them and then over time, mortals becoming the driving factor in history and the gods receding, but the impact of those gods actions are there. I like using it – and I like, using it as an example because it’s very tightly focused all of the gods – are bound in with each other.

There’s not that many of them and everything that exists in the setting has its origin at some point with a god. Either an offspring of one of the gods or goddesses, that’s there or it was created as an interaction between like okay. Well, this demigod stole the Sun at one point and took the Sun into the underworld. So it’s just like a very well thought-out example of how to present a fantasy Pantheon that has the hallmarks of real world religion, but is is definitely fantastical and and it’s one of those things where, if you get your hands on a copy of this book or Some of the the trade paperbacks that are out there for the comic book series like understanding a bit about this fantasy Pantheon.

For me, it was like setting my brain on fire with like I was calling my god here are all the things you can do. The thing that gets me about a lot of fantasy Pantheon’s is that it because they’re imported from our own history, they carry artifacts with them that I’m not sure it’s like. Would these gods have grown up naturally, in this fantasy environment? Here like it seems like that, there are other types of gods that would come about as opposed to ones that came about in our own real world right, like the big one that I’m thinking of the big example of this, for me, is real or the Lord Of Light from Song of Ice and Fire, this is a god that is harsh.

What it wants is a little murky right. What are we doing other than obedience yeah? It seems that what it wants, obey obey and deny your other gods right, deny the Seven deny or others etc. But the message that that that phrase, the night is dark and full of terrors to me describes every Dungeons and Dragons world that exists. The night is dark and there’s a monster manual, full of terrifying creatures, many of which have dark vision interactive at night like.

Why is there not a god or a deity of some kind, particularly if you have gods that are overarching that are present from region to region that have a consistent and non localized presence? Why wouldn’t you have a guy? That’s basically like yeah. I fight monsters. I’m here to fight monsters, I will keep you safe from monsters. I am here to you know, to fight all of the things that go bump in the night.

Yeah burn it away with my purifying light burn it away with my purifying light or our allies in shadow that we use. You know to fight the enemies of darkness, know that kind of because, as we know, there would be no shadow without life, there wouldn’t be right and that’s what makes it interesting. That’s what makes as a faith, makes it interesting and go from one dimensional and adds depth and complexity to it.

The Dungeons & Dragons world seems to me, like there’s all these little gods of each race right, there’s the orc gods and the nolo gods and the goblin gods and the whatever. What if you took all those monster manual, all the monsters in the monster mountain you you ignore the lore, that’s that’s already in there and you rewrite that monster manual to be like these are the offspring of deities. Right, like all of these monsters in here, come from somewhere someone birth to them or created them or brought them to life.

You could create a pantheon in which you create an intricate web that incorporates the mantra manual and your gods, and now it’s like you don’t just go say: fight and Griffin and Griffin is the offspring of this particular deity. That controls this particular thing and harming a Griffin will analog out uses is historical, Tiamat, yeah, a creature or goddess that that sort of is, is angry at the mortals who slay her her children and Abzu.

Her husband, I believe, is like slain like Gilgamesh. Maybe it’s been a while, since I’ve read the Epic of Gilgamesh, but there’s just this kind of like the sense that Tia montt is was fine until a bunch of mortals started messing with her yard, getting their yard, making a bunch of noise coming up in her Business sort of their nap right and then it awakens the chaos dragon right. That is to you, mom.

So that’s another kind of thing, and so, when you’re, looking at your campaign world, you know you’ve made this thing. You’ve got this all laid out. You’ve got your countries and your whatever and when it comes to looking at the gods of your setting, are the gods that are suggested in The Player’s Handbook working for my setting mm-hmm. If they do great, if they don’t making ones up that are integrated and fit within your campaign, setting is a very satisfying experience and then you can present that information to players, and it makes them feel like the campaign world – is much more alive and and and Realized yeah and I mean – and you know everybody typically has like gods, but like aren’t there other ways to kind of express that divine power, like I mean they’re, like hero gods like a Warhammer, even mortals that kind of rise up to the right hood or just Different kinds of like divine power that manifests that maybe it’s not a straight-up God yeah with a with a place waiting for you when you died right right with a home in the outer Plains, yeah Celestials, as intervenors yeah, I feel like a heroes and hero cults – Are one and these would be sort of like in D & D terms, these would be like epic level characters, who’ve transcended mortal limits, but are not yet gods, but maybe a really high level warrior in your campaign world that died a long time ago.

Has a cult following of people that are devoted to them that that take the practice. Is that this that this warrior wrote down or or their exploits and like form a cult based around? And it’s not quite religious, but it’s definitely not just like a fan club. Maybe there are mystery religions in which the adherents have to under grow certain. You know secret initiation, rites and understand secret knowledge about the world.

In order to be inducted into these into these mysteries, there are demigods and gods of cities. You know a god of a river or a mountain or forest little dog Ling’s, that are powerful spirits, that they didn’t have at a location or a place, or something like that. Those are all ways of interjecting, a vibrant world, of the divine into your campaign. Without having to resort to you know, zeus not knock off zeus up and knock off mount olympus.

You know not doing anything interesting, the divine community of your game as something more than just that bog standard, fantasy pantheon means that first off your tailoring it to the campaign world deepening your own campaign setting and when the players finally interact with something like that. You have something that’s fleshed out, that’s different than new. You might be showing them something new that they haven’t seen before, letting them interact with something different and you’ll create moments in your campaign where, before your players might look like, i’m not really care about.

What’s going on with this church or temple or whatever, by having something different and making it weird and unusual and and fitting with your game and not just taking the standard, that’s there you create an opportunity to make a really memorable element of your setting. Come to life and and presenting it to your players and saying like here’s, something different, i’m offering up as a way to you know, do something different with your character or help me create something new for the world that we’re playing in right.

In the book of revelations here for you gods, how does it all end? What do you I mean? What what’s that? What’s the you got a founding myth, you should have a apocalypse myth, certainly like a founding myth having these other things about how the world is going to end, how the guys would participate in that. What are the role of mortals in that end of the world? Is it a conflagration that ends in Oblivion, or is it a change of cycle a period of turmoil before the new thing happens? Is it prophesied? Is it something that the players can stop or or influence in some way? I think it’s just as enriching to to talk to think about like the end of your world, of your campaigns world and the role that the gods play in it as it is the beginning of the world and how the gods, God creates dinosaurs.

God destroys dinosaurs, God creates man, man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs. Women inherit the earth.

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Player Driven Campaign Creation in 5e Dungeons & Dragons and TTRPG- Web DM

Jim Davis. You ever noticed your DM a little drunk on power and maybe needs a designated driver to take the campaign home. Well guess what we’re talking player, driven campaigns here on web DM player, driven campaigns? Why do you want to put the players first as a DM? What’s the benefit to me, the benefit of a player driven campaigns is bringing the rest of the table in and it’s less about, like poor Dungeon Master doesn’t have any input.

They don’t get to have any say in how their campaigns going. The players are just going to dictate the way everything happens with the setting. Oh woe is me all of the great wonderful imagine of things that Dungeon Master’s get to do. I don’t get to do it. There are games that are like that, where, where world creation and world building are collaborative and group based and and there are even some games, that everyone’s a GM basically yeah – we’re not really talking about those right here.

We’re talking about making your traditional sort of mainstream fantasy and and whatever other games, that you’re playing more player focused and using certain techniques to bring the characters front and center into the campaign and to make sure that the decisions that the players are making are centered. In that campaign and that the dungeon master, our game, master referee or whatever you want to call them, is not like subtly, nudging and and moving the campaign towards some predetermined end, but is instead letting the campaign breathe and and go where it goes as it goes.

Introducing new things into it to keep it going and keep it moving and and sort of keep it vibrant, but the players and their decisions and the characters and their their backgrounds and personalities and goals are the both of the motivator. The driving force behind the campaign and and sort of the center of it right, the opposite of this style, would be we’re playing through the diems novel. It’s the straight-up railroad, although to be fair, a hyper focused campaign with characters that gel together that they they have a goal in mind that they want they pursue it without.

You know a lot of tangents or getting distracted and they communicate that clearly to the DM. The end result of it looks remarkably similar to a railroaded campaign, write it. The end product looks as though it’s it’s. You know that they were always doing the thing that I am one of them to do, and but if they will only bought the ticket for each leg of that journey, sure maybe that’s what they’re all like forcing people on a railroad right.

They want to walk across the country and you go no, no. You need to stay back on the tracks right guys, stay back on the strikes. That is true, you know and linear play, which is a less. You know derogatory way of saying railroad. Interrogatories right, listen, incendiary way is built, the country we’re talking more of the you know. What are we going to do with the campaign? Let me let the players.

Okay, take the take the initiative here and and lead what some ways that a DM can keep the players in the driving seat and keep their hands like on the wheel natural one of the big things to me and – and I experienced this as I will like Prepare a campaign is I’ll, get to a point where I’m like. I cannot do any more prep for this campaign until I know who the players are, we need something here. We need to know who are the actors that are going to be in this right? Who are the characters? What do they want where their goals, what are their backgrounds, if I’m over here, creating like an intrigue heavy urban campaign with light, combat and lots of politics and and messing about in the criminal underworld? And things like that and and my players are over here – going like man we’re psyched to play these like mighty feud warriors who are going to do battle against their enemies, then that’s a mismatch there and and I’m wasting my efforts in preparing a campaign based on, Like intrigue and politics, and and backbiting and scheming, and things like that, when I’ve got a group of players who are itching for a game of kick down the door D & D or vice versa, right, maybe they’re really feeling like.

I want to play this thief to the best ability climb the ranks of the Thieves Guild talking to the players before the game starts before there’s even a session zero, and just like communicating this information to them. Many DMS do this right, like they’re like oh hey, this is the kind of campaign I’m thinking about running like what do you guys think? Are you interested you know what what about the next time we play is this campaign I can run.

This is the a good time to start asking specific questions of your players and ask them like what is it about your character and it’s connection to the game world that that player enjoys? What are the things in the players or sorry. The characters background that the dungeon master can use for play that they can mine and look and see like okay. Well, wait a second. This looks like something that you could spin a whole adventure out of, or this thing right here is like it happened in the characters background, but but who else was involved with it? Maybe we can bring these elements to the floor later on and and what you have is as you’re reading, through the backgrounds of your of your of the characters where you start taking notes like this thing seems like a secret that’ll come out later, or this thing Seems like something that we could tease out later into an adventure.

Maybe you know a secret from the characters past that they don’t want discovered or an event that happened to them, that that that’s going to come back later, they think is resolved, but instead it’s going to come back later. Sometimes you see these elements refer to as knives and as I’m not sure where that exactly comes from, but I’ve had a couple of DMS use that technique now and I kind of like it right.

You’re you’re, asking the player character. Your ass on the player like show us what your characters got. What are the things in the backstory that we could potentially use in the campaign or that’s potentially there? Now you don’t have to necessarily do that. You could just like ask for a regular player background, and then you find those themselves. You know you find the things in it that you can use, or you can like just straight-up ask a player hey when you show me your character sheet, that you include some kind of list or description or something about the things in your characters, background.

That would be interesting to include in the game those kind of different approaches to to just getting that information. Well, then, you get to take that information and basically seed the campaign with all of that info. Exactly exactly right. So let’s say you’ve got a map of your area of play and you’re, starting with you know, sort of a locality. You know maybe there’s a town or a village. There’s a couple of adventure sites nearby, maybe a full-on dungeon or bandits.

You’ve got your encounter tables and all these other kind things it’s now time to take those elements, and hopefully you have left room for the characters in in your prep. You haven’t detailed everything out to such a degree that there’s no room for the player characters to enter into your world and start changing things up. There needs to be a moment where the DM and the player sit down together and go okay.

What’s, in your character, background right? Well, this in my world, these things work like XYZ. Do any of those things sound interesting to you, or do you think they’re relevant to your character background, it’s a back and forth and maybe there’s a little bit of compromise where the dungeon master goes like well, I know it doesn’t have to be this way. That was just sort of my initial thought if you’re a character or if you have an a different idea, or you want something different for your character that we can find a place for that in the world.

Let’s take, for instance, like you’ve got some sort of character that belongs to an organization or something like that, maybe like a wizard’s guild or monastery or a fighters dueling Club or something right like what you have is is a an opportunity for the burst off of The player character to influence the world and they can say like alright, we didn’t know that there was going to be a fencing school in this location.

But we’ve got a you know: a fighter who’s like all about dueling, and there should be someone here that that fighter can latch on to in a sympathetic, NPC a source of potential quests, a source of interest for that fighter. Who can then go to the fencing school and feel like? Well? Maybe I want to join up. Maybe I want to become an instructor. Are there any jobs or anything that needs to be done there like? Maybe they want to take it over and you’ve got kind of a whoosh of martial arts sort of like the outside instructor, comes in challenging the master to combat and takes over and that spawns a whole sort of vendetta and and so the cycles of violence.

They just continue those cycles of violence. This is where you take a look at your map and you go. Is there anywhere on here that can be connected to the player characters background? Is there anything in the player characters background that I need to be sure to include in this player, and then you go do that with the with your NPCs? Are there any NPCs here who might be a good fit for something that happened in one of the PCs background? If it’s like a local going to ruler or something like that, then that’s a good place to do it.

Maybe a mentor of some kind, that’s in their background or an enemy. Those NPCs have a place in your world, and you you owe it to yourself and to the player to like really take a look and see like okay can i? How can I work this into the campaign world? How can I embed this NPC in that campaign, world and and like have it be a part of it, but it’s there for the player to interact with as they choose player, might completely ignore these things and do something completely different.

I know I have made characters where I was like. Oh man, this is the backstory. It’s going to be this and that and the minute we start playing. I forget all that and then I’m playing the character as they exist right now, and it’s not about what? What I came up with for backstory or anything can’t move forward. Looking over your shoulder, Jim Davis, just kind of soldier looking backwards, is actually kind of good advice, we’ll run into something: that’s kinda, what we mean when we say seed, your sandbox or your location or your setting or whatever it is with your player, character, backgrounds.

We’re talking about matching locations matching NPCs. Is there something in the PC background that jumps out at you and goes like who I can make an adventure out of this then like? Let’s, let’s do that like like put that in there and and work through the players? Stumbling across it or that becoming an active element of play, you know as the game unfolds well, sometimes that can actually, instead of just seating, an adventure like you said with the fighting school thing like if it’s the traditional, like, oh my my master, my whatever was Killed that can be like the whole source of a campaign that can focus your campaign and, like this character, their whole goal is to get to the end and kill that guy right and it just so happens the rest of the party like oh yeah, that’s the Guy, that’s the baron, that’s subject like suppressing this land and we need to take him out anyway right right if you’re, creating a dynamic campaign world where things change and things develop, and your NPCs have plots and motivations and goals that are going on in the background And you’ve created like a timeline for your campaign, that’s like: if the players do nothing XYZ events will happen.

If you have something like that in mind, maybe it’s an actual like timeline for your campaign. Maybe it’s just a general idea of what’s going to happen, then you start kind of creating these moving elements. The person who slew the fighters master at the fight school is now the baron. Well, that’s a problem right because you can’t just walk in and kill the Baron yeah, that’s going to be bad news, and so you now you’ve spawned this whole other thing.

Well, what if the Baron is also has a tie to the background of another player character. You’re looking for connections that you can potentially make and it’s a skill that you’ll have to develop as a dungeon master. This is this not how I used to run games. This is something that I’ve learned to do really over the last few years is really kind of focus in and make players the the center of a game.

First off I hated reading big wall character backgrounds. It was difficult to get to the game. Ax balem owns in a multi-page handwritten gym. I had an opus he’s going to write it when you use des sins, and I know – and it’s one of those things right. I always kept my every my that’s very true. My stance was, I’m just not going to read them like write them all you want not. I don’t feel like reading a bunch of stuff.

For me, that was a reaction to character backgrounds. I was getting at the table where it seemed like the most important things that had happened to that character had already happened, yeah that the most adventure that they were ever going to have had been written into that character background, and to me that signaled, a breach Of trust that the players who were playing these characters didn’t trust that cool awesome, amazing things would happen in their campaign, and so they felt the need to write this into the play to the character’s backstory instead of just saying like yeah.

Well, you know maybe some exciting things have happened to my character, but the best is yet to come and let’s figure out, what’s going to happen through play, and so I really focused then on making sure that in the moments of play there were interesting things for The characters to do now I try to do that as well as tie in what they’ve given me for the backstory to create the elements of play that we’re going to use.

Let’s use an example right running Warhammer yeah right now on on encounter RP, their twitch blog. We got a Wednesday game. You know I have a mini sandbox that I have packed to the gills with heretics and witches and mutant and chaos and all sorts of things for a witch hunter to salivate over and want to fight. And then it’s then we get the five player characters. The witch hunter – and you know its followers and it’s now time to look through the backgrounds of each one of those player, characters and go alright.

Alero is an elven, you know it’s a high wood, elf, Ranger type from you know: who’s had this tragic backstory with a hag or a Crone of some kind that that caused Alero Pruitt’s character to to sort of commit this atrocity. I already knew that there were going to be witches and hags and sort of like chaos, sorcerers and the like in my campaign. Well now one of them has to be Alero switch because otherwise, what’s the point of Pruett telling me that there’s a witch in his characters background when he’s with a witch hunter, you said I’m saying like there was a time whenever I would read a background like That and I would go like why you can’t tell me to put a witch in my game like there, whereas I’m thinking when I wrote it on like over a bunch of witch hunters.

This is perfect right. So now I look at something like that and I go oh well. This is perfect, like it makes sense, and – and I try to do this – you know a lot now where, where it’s like, if there’s something in a PC background, let’s like bring it to the center of the game – let’s put this in there, and this works really Well for very short, focused campaigns, but it also works well for like longer running ones as well.

Let’s talk about choice and how real those choices are because, like you said you know, sometimes demons don’t want to be forced to do anything in their game, determined by the players. Things like that. But what we’re talking about here? Players, if they’re in the driver’s seat and they’re going to be directing, where we’re going right, yeah and so when they make choices, to go places and to do the things in the world that you that the DM has set down like.

How do you ensure that that actually matters there’s a school of dungeon master, ring and game, a stirring in general that that you’ll see sometimes refer to as illusionism and this school prizes, the illusion of choice, the illusion of a living breathing world that reacts to player Decisions and prizes the illusion of all of these things and they use techniques diems, who sort of like this style and like this kind of play, use a lot of techniques with what we might call a quantum encounter.

There’s something something was prepared. An encounter was prepared, but it floats around the map. It’s not nailed down yet the reason why I personally really dislike this style of play is you illustrated by like you’ve, come to a t-intersection in the dungeon. You can go one way or another. If you look at for clues as to what’s in either direction, you realize that to the left there seemed to be clues, suggesting one type of monster or enemy, and so instead you go towards the right and the dungeon master goes and looks goes well.

You know I put that encounter. I was thinking it might be to the left or something like that, but they decided to go against it, the others I’m just going to move it, I’m just going to move that encounter right. The everyone knows that the bandits attack people that take the left fork in the road. The players take. The right fork in the road bandits attack them anyway, it’s at any time where, regardless of what the players say or do, regardless of the decisions they make and the choices that they that they they make or the past that they follow.

If the dungeon master goes, this thing is happening, no matter what that is an element of illusionism. Let me take a step and say there are some times when that technique is useful. I use it all the time in one shots, because you’ve got two to three hours to play, maybe a little bit more you’re trying to deliver a certain experience to to to make sure that the game is is whatever it is, particularly if you’re like doing a Focused one-shot or something like that right, you know, but you want a beginning, a middle and a beginning.

In a million you want a satisfying session of Dungeons and Dragons. Then you use different techniques here, but in regular play in a long-term campaign play overuse of illusionism and and for players like myself. Any whiff of it immediately takes me out, and I know I’m not the only one. I’ve talked to other players who are like this and other people who they do not like in the sense that when they make a decision in game, the dungeon master is just kind of humoring them and whatever the dungeon master wants is going to happen.

They’re just shuffling things behind they’re, just shuffling things behind the scenes moving around and counters, saying like oh, that NPC was always there. I understand the temptation to do this right. It’s sometimes difficult with a group of players who really keep you on your toes. It’s hard to stay one step ahead of them and so keeping things vague and loose and what’s there what’s not, can lead to these moments where you go like well, I’m just going to at the table.

Whatever the players come up with, I’m just going to immediately react to it. It’s going to be like a counter towards it, or this encounter that I’ve prepared it’s going to happen, no matter what we’re going to get to that, because that’s what I’ve prepared! That kind of illusionism that kind of forcing an encounter, it really does damage to the bonds of trust between player and game master if they find out, and if it’s not something that the party was like.

Okay with to begin with, you know well, there’s also a few other things that diems have been known to do and we’ve discussed them before and other shows it’s worth mentioning here again, but like fudging, yeah but dying young. Maybe it’s because you are so focused on the players getting to where they want to go you’re going to fudge just to help them along I’m young easy. Is that even okay, I don’t like that.

You know here’s the thing. Would you accept it from a player? Would you accept the player going like one man? I that’s thirteen looks like an 18 to me. I have to hit you know, I’m ready to hit right now, I’m just going to fudge this dice a little too good to get the outcome that I want. You wouldn’t accept it from players. We would call that cheating yeah with those kinds of players whether it’s like Oh fell on the floor fell on the crack of a book.

It’s a die whatever. It is whatever coded language they use to give themselves. Another role or ordinate get me the first hole that they had. We, you know we don’t like it as Dungeon Master’s when players do that. Well, why would we accept it from ourselves, even if you’re using a screen like let’s say, you’re using a screen, you want to keep your notes secret. You don’t roll on the open because you’re one of those DMS likes just roll random dice in order to make the players think a lot of things are going on legitimate technique, but guys the fake bro.

I don’t overuse it, but it is a legitimate thing. You’re, like you’re gaslighting, the PC anyway, the fudge, the altering of dice, is one of those things where. Why are you rolling in the first place, if you feel the need to fudge, but to me, there’s something else going on that leads you to believe. Like the outcome that I just got with this die, roll was unwanted. Then why did you roll the die in the first place? Yeah, and if it’s something like I don’t want to kill the players right now.

If the dice are just been going against them all night and and what should have been a standard just like walk in the park, combat has got them on the ropes and and you’re running the risk of like a TPK or something like that. Even in those situations, it’s tough for me to say, like oh yeah, you should like pull your punches there and like not have them. You know, be mercilessly slaughtered first off if you’re playing a modern, mainstream RPG, the likelihood of that happening is very low right.

You really got to like go after like really deadly hard combats in a row or some kind of monster. That’s going to like drop a bunch of AoE damage on you or something to like get to that point. So taking that thought and like flipping it. What about altering an encounter like once your PCs roll up in a room? And you get your thought? Oh, this is going to be badass in one round. They just bucket of steamroller for all them in one round and then there’s like a unplanned wave.

That comes in that’s another thing that I’m just not a fan of a style of gaming. That kind of like we’re going to adapt and and and change this scene. You know change the encounter in the middle of the scene or something like that. It’s one of those tools where it’s like there’s nothing necessarily wrong with it. I have really never seen it used in a way that makes the game more fun. Like I, you know, there’s a lot of times when the players like just like waste and encounter yeah right just like utterly waste yeah.

Well, they just hit the perfect, spells and attack excite order and just take a freaking enemy down and to me it’s like well sometimes like that. Just feels good, sometimes yeah, hey, we did it right, yeah. You know yeah, and I think it’s one of those things where, if that’s what’s happened, if you know first of it’s a one-off thing, give it to your party if it keeps happening, and you sense that your players are getting bored because you know the encounters that You’re, throwing at them are not engaging and not not fun or not whatever.

It is that you, the players, want out of any counter. That’s a behind-the-scenes thing, it’s time to up your game in terms of like making sure the encounter is challenging for the party. If that’s what they’re, looking for and including like very dinna me types and looking at the tactics that they use and and and altering your own, the way you play the the monsters themselves, those are things to get you a better encounter, but the the occasional like Man, the party really just curb-stomp these these enemies, that’s perfectly fine and in those situations like fudging the dice so that it’s a more challenging encounter first up, I there’s someone will know that one of the players particularly have veteran players or something like that.

They’ll know all right this place that we’ve said it many times. Please don’t fudge dice. We like rolling in the open. We like letting the dice fall where they may, because they tell their own story when it comes to campaigns. Adventures for the DM here. Yeah, PC driven campaigns right can that coincide with what has become kind of the bog standard of fantasy RPG, which is like Avengers type world-saving like the big, the big dam quest, the big dam question yeah.

Does that work like I? I think it can, but it is difficult and there are countervailing factors that that that push dm’s into into what I see as bad practices, a lot of, but not all of them, of the like Wizards of the coast modules that they put out for themselves. Follow this model, you don’t have to play them this way. You can chop them up and use them a lot of different ways, but if you run them kind of, as is, there is a a big threat that requires the party to be higher level to deal with right somewhere north of 10th to 15th level.

From the beginning, the party is going to be dealing with enemies related to this threat and working their way up a food chain and there’s usually a sense of just like the players are the only ones dealing with this world shaking reality altering campaign, changing kind of Threat, there’s a lot of reasons why I’m not fond of that model, but mostly it’s ones where an implication of a narrative structure to the kind of the Grand Campaign sort of a rising action.

The climax of falling action and all those sorts of narrative beats that you know are the hallmark of really good fiction, and – and you know you might might make for a really good story to just like read or even just kind of talk about. They don’t necessarily mesh well with the random nature of RPGs, where you’re kind of here, at least I’m kind of here and – and I think one of the strengths of RPGs – is being surprised that those emergent elements of play that you can’t account for that.

You don’t know, what’s going to happen, you’re you yourself as a dungeon master, will be surprised, but if you’re running this campaign, that requires, like all the players, are on board they’re all unified in this goal. To like stop the big, bad and save the world, and if one of them dies then that’s that can put a hiccup in in the campaign if all of them die that can you know bring the campaign to a complete halt.

If you know, none of them want to do something like that, they all want to pursue other things. They want to go off here and do some downtime activities and they want to do side quests. I think this is like the most common one where it’s like. There’s a sense of urgency to the campaign the soul monger is killing, is killing everyone. Who’s ever been resurrected, the Tia mots going to return or the demon princes or out of the abyss and and attacking everything like.

We must do something now and that doesn’t leave a lot of room for the madcap zany adventures that I find almost all of my like favorite role, playing and Dungeons and Dragons stories are a lot there are comes from just like. We were just messing around and this happened and they opened a portal before we had to clean up this mess, or we were just like we’re poking around this dungeon and found this thing and yeah.

So many things that happen just by happenstance and randomness and chance and dumb luck and and and the weird alchemy that is, you, know, playing the game and letting things emerge from it. That’s going to alter it and something to support that argument. The knocks against the Marvel movie universe and how you can’t have any kind of personal like like Jane, never shows up for Thor and everything he’s too busy saving the world all the time you can’t fit in, like all that, you know personal backstory right right exactly Unless you’ve got a party, that’s like all of them have created backstories that tie into the grand campaign, and you know, you’ve been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes metagame work before the campaign starts to like make sure it merges and meshes that’s a situation where you can, But if you’ve just got like some players, who made some characters and they’re just kind of there to play – and they want a meander and Wonder and do all these things and you keep probably pushing them along for the Grand Campaign – you’re fudging roles, you’re altering encounters, On-The-Fly, you start negating player decisions yeah, and this is one of those things that once a player decides to do something in the dungeon master decides.

I don’t like that. That’s not going to happen and they don’t take a moment to just say: hey player, what you’re doing right now. Is it really it I’m having trouble making it work for my campaign? Can we talk about it if they try to like subtly alter the course of the game, some of the most epic meltdowns at a table? That’s it have resulted from that kind of like attempting to manage the players yeah right.

Well, I mean you’re you’re subverting the player agency in the game. Therefore, there’s no reason for the player to be there to be there right exactly and and if it’s just like running through the dungeon master story, it’s not it’s not a fun engaging way to play. There is a place for dungeon master creativity. There is a place for the dungeon master to interject their own opinions, their own ideas into it.

This is not about completely ceding the field to the players, and you are just the mere passive you know entity at the table. It is about making sure everyone gets a chance to collaborate, and everyone has a chance to have their portion of the narrative that’s being created at the table through play as an element of that, and not just like. Oh, it’s, the dungeon master and the players are left to kind of scramble for some way to connect to the setting and world and then find relevance and meaning in it.

It’s the dungeon master, going like here’s a par baked setting. Let’s get your characters in the mix, finish it off and play we’re going to hit the ground running and some of the most amazing gaming I’ve had has come from this style of game of player. Centered effing, a man deafening I’m like well, and what I love about the sword now is they have enough albums that now I could just keep listening to them and not get tired of them.

Yeah yeah because I’ve even gone back and listening to listen to high country again, and it’s still, my least favorite, but there’s still a lot of fun songs on there like I get what they’re trying to do, they want to do a more mellow, chill rock album And they have every right to do that, yeah lad that they did know. I begrudge artists at all who want to do something different now that it’s like you know, squeeze every amounts of imagination out of your brain and put it up on a article.

It’s just like I’m going to do whatever is exciting. For me, you guys can go deal with it. Yeah there’ll be a article there’ll be another. Album yeah there’ll be another article, another album so yeah yeah, but goddamn use future. So good yeah we were listening to apocryphon while

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Review Medieval Fight Club Crusader Knight Dagger

So in this article today we’re going to do a review of the medieval Fight Club, crusading Knights data. That’S this one right here, hi guys it’s Ben from medieval mayhem. On this blog. We do a lot of reviews and we look at DIY costuming and furniture for medieval reenactment, the Society of creative anarchism and also for live-action roleplay game, as well as taking a good, in-depth look at many of the medieval cultures throughout the Western world.

So if you’re interested in the medieval period you might want to consider subscribe, hi, okay, I recently purchased this dagger. I was really looking for something to add to add some really nice touches to my costuming and my weapons. So I do some um some Hema, which is historical European, martial arts with one of the local reenactment groups and I’ve really gotten into it. I was really looking for a good sort of secondary weapon, as soldiers of today would refer to it.

I did a lot of research there’s a lot of rubbish out there. Then the market is really flooded with with cheap stuff and it’s just not packed right, but I found this one. It is actually very inexpensive, but the quality is really quite remarkable, so this cost $ 50, and I was quite impressed with that. The quality of the workmanship is very, very high. I’M really quite impressed the detail is is very good.

I find this a very easy sort of weapon to wield. It comes as a dull blade. It’S a total of 41 centimeters long, it’s a blade being 27 cm. The blade has a 35 millimeter width and weighs a total of four hundred and ten grams. So, let’s take a little bit more of a look already, so you can see this good shape of the blade here as a saying it’s nice and dull, so you don’t need to do anything with it to make it suitable for role play games, reenactment purposes.

That said, it is going to depend on the rules of your group. The the hilt has a really nice leather grip, and you can see it’s got a nice, rounded pommel. The cross guard is, is nice and firmly in place? I really like this. This is um. This is a classy piece of kit, I’m going to be making a leather sheath for this dagger in about a week’s time. So please remember check back so my recommendation fall of the crusading Knights.

Dagger is a 9 out of 10. I think it’s a fantastic piece of kit, otherwise guys please like subscribe and share and I’ll catch you in my next article


 

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Review MFC Norman English Dagger

I know from personal experience that I have g’day guys my name’s Ben, for a medieval mayhem on this blog. We do reviews into other companies equipment. We look at DIY furniture and equipment, we do articles about costuming and all sorts of reenactment, but we also look at the politics and the religions and the battles of the time.

So if you new here, you might like to consider subscribing recently, I was purchasing some equipment from a company in Australia called medieval Fight Club, I’m going to leave the link in the description below and one of the pieces of equipment that I bought. I was very, very impressed with is this piece here, and this is the Norman dagger by medieval Fight Club. I was looking for something that was suitable for my son.

I’D need it to be a dull blade, something that’s not really going to hurt. Anyone he’s just 10 years old, so I didn’t want anything that was too heavy too cumbersome and too unwieldy, and it also needed to be safe and well-made. I was nothing but impressed with this one. I took this out of the packaging. This is incredibly well-made. It’S it’s a really nice weight. It’S it’s very easy to use, though the quality of manufacturing is really superb and I’ve got nothing but praise for this, and it wasn’t that expensive.

I was super super impressed. This is a total of 41 centimeters long. The thickness of the blade is three millimeters and you can see it has a rounded tip, so it’s reenactment safe. This is not actually going to hurt people. Obviously you need to be quite conscious of what you’re doing, but still it’s really good. You can see the pommel either is a really nice norman shape. This would be from around the sort of 12 ish 13th century sort of mark.

You’Ve got a nice leather wrapped handle it’s really good. It’S a nice one-handed, blade, obviously being a being a dagger, but you can see a lot of fantasies out there on the market and it just looks rubbish. The nice cross guard here is well built. I, like it, it’s um, it’s not overly, so that exaggerated or anything this is nice and simple and very functional. You have a good, fuller here. That goes, probably you know 80 % of the blade.

The blade itself is 25 centimeters long, and the width of the blade is 35 millimeters, and this cost at the moment $ 55. I thought was incredibly good. This is a really good value for money. You’Ll find it comes with a bit of an oily kind of greasy finish to it, you’re going to need to clean that off, and it will require some maintenance through the year so just to keep just to keep a um any rust off it.

And that kind of thing, but this is really good. I really like this – I’m nothing but impressed it’s. This is such a really good piece of kit I’ll be buying some more and similar sorts of knives and daggers from this company, because I think the workmanship is so good and it’s definitely worth my time in my effort. So look. I think this is a really good, solid, 9 out of 10 and I’ve, and I’m going to be doing a DIY dagger sheath in the next few days.

So please keep an eye out for that article already guys, please like subscribe and share and I’ll catch you in my next article