It's been a busy week here at the Intwischa offices. We've just had the marathon kickoff game for our Dresden Files campaign set in Victorian London. After catching our interest, and building our enthusiasm, our intrepid explorer/GM, Matt, is gallivanting off to other countries, so we won't be able to play again for a week. While he's exploring the great white north, we have to content ourselves with reading about gaming. Continue on for a sample of our reading list, featuring sidekicks, geasa, caves, time, and balls. Yep, that's what I said.
Summer Sidekick Season?
Given our gamer penchant for making strong, independent characters, it's rare that we try to make sidekicks. What are the odds, then, that three blogs will post about creating sidekicks within a week or two of each other? Charlie's post seemed to kick off the trend, followed shortly by the Alpha article I linked last week. This week, we have a post by Patrick Benson from Gnome Stew on three distinct types of Sidekicks. Who knew the humble Sidekick made for such a rich archetype?
Slake Your Gencon Envy
I've never been much of a con-going man, but I can understand the appeal. So, I can also understand the frustration of not being able to make it, once you've gotten into it. If you're feeling the Gencon withdrawal, it just might be that Vanir over at Critical Hits has an idea to take the edge off.
If you'd like to vicariously affect the goings-on in the Olympics of RPG geekdom, he's offering to accept a geas. Being the pronunciation cop in our group, I'm duty bound here to take a moment to point out that you pronounce that "gesh", and the plural is "gesha". Now that we've gotten that out of the way, you should know that the obligations he accepts are of his own choosing, and you're more likely to get picked if the task is cheap, and accrues good karma.
Where the Sun Don't Shine
It seems, sometimes, that fantasy campaign worlds have so many caves and man-made underground structures that they should collapse from lack of support. Like swimming in the ocean, wondering if there's a shark lurking just beneath your toes, walking around in one of these worlds would have to leave you wondering what horrors are skittering and slithering about below your feet.
If you're interested in a subterranean safari, but need some ideas, Steve Winter is here for the rescue. In the Howling Tower, he links to his latest article in a series by the same name in Kobold Quarterly. There, he gives some sage advice for running a cavern crawling adventure.
Brevity is the Soul of Wit
Is there a disadvantage of too much description? How much exposition is too much? If you're running a module, would you rather a complete catalog of each situation, or just the summary?
James Maliszewski, our favorite grognard, touches on this in a post this week at Grognardia. He gives examples of his room descriptions for his Dwimmermount megadungeon, which are essentially just a short phrase. This allows for a quick read, and then impromptu elucidation as needed for the particular players, which means that the dungeon will be slightly different for each party.
Time travel is a mainstay of sci-fi and fantasy. Unfortunately, I have yet to use it in one of my games. I have, however, heard of its use to great effect, so I've always wanted to pull it off.
In another appearance by Gnome Stew, Scott Martin gives some suggestions on how to accomplish this feat. He advises making a point of setting out the "rules" of time travel early. I'm pretty sure, however, that I have a group full of guys that would immediately try to kill their characters' grandfathers.
When we played our campaign of Swords and Wizardry, one of the first things I noticed was that the game has a very different tempo. If you barge like an angry bull through a dungeon in a old school game, you're going to die. Maybe you'll get speared by a Piercer, and maybe you'll get poisoned by some nasty flora. You might even fall down a hidden pit trap, get hauled back up, and then thrown down again. You never can tell how, but you can be pretty sure about the dying part.
As Steve from Howling Tower points out in his second appearance on this week's list, those old school games took that situation into account, and assumed some level of caution in your movement speeds. This, in turn affected the equation of going slow leading to more wandering monsters, while going fast leading to stumbling into inevitable death. It's an interesting time economy, which he compares to modern incarnations of D&D.
My, What Nice Balls Costa Rica Has
Now that I've headed you off on that joke...
I've always been a fan of those "ancient mysteries" stories, in which somebody finds a thousand-year-old something or other, but nobody knows who made it, or what it was for. Whether it's crystal skulls, crumbling buildings, or ancient roads in the middle of what's now trackless jungle, they inevitably invoke a thousand ideas for stories.
In this not-exactly-gaming-related story, Louis Makiello of the Epoch Times introduces the stone spheres of Costa Rica. Nobody knows who made them. They can't even be sure how old they are, since they've often been moved from their original locations. Some of them have even been blown up by treasure hunters, trying to find out if something's inside. If this doesn't give you plot ideas, I don't know what will.