Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Book of the Righteous and the World of Freeport

In 2016, Green Ronin conducted a Kickstarter to update The Book of the Righteous to D&D Fifth Edition. The print book debuted at GenCon 2017, and backers like me received their copies about the same time. I had never acquired or read the original Book (written for v.3.0), largely because it was a thick, expensive hardcover (320 pages!) and I tend to prefer creating my own pantheons for my D&D campaigns. However, I've come around to thinking that I should try using those gods in my next Freeport campaign. The City of Adventure uses deliberately generic deity names (God of the Sea, God of Pirates, etc.) to make it easy for DMs to fit Freeport into their own campaigns. Using the gods from The Book of the Righteous seems the next logical step in creating a more uniquely "Ronin" campaign.

The 5E version of the book also promised to have a wealth of new crunchy bits for religious characters. One of the few real disappointments I've had with the 5E Player's Handbook is how short the list of domains is compared to 3E. The new Book of the Righteous fills in most of the "missing" domains, and adds some new ones (like Beauty and Corruption). Non-clergy in the gods' service also get new options, with at least one new subclass or other option for each class in the Player's Handbook.  That's very welcome material for a DM like me who enjoys homebrewing, because it facilitates giving each god and their church a distinct flavor. That's ultimately what sold me on backing the Kickstarter.

The Pathfinder edition of Freeport: The City of Adventure (FCoA) gives the most extensive list of gods (pages 401-402) of any sourcebook yet produced for the setting. For the remainder of this column, I will try to match that data to suitable gods from The Book of the Righteous. (The new edition omits the original book's "Listing of the Gods," which provides a quick summary of gods by portfolio. I have used that list to double-check my own conclusions below.)

The four most prominent gods in Freeport are the Gods of the Sea, Knowledge, Warriors, and Pirates.
  • Shalimyr, CN god of water, is perfect for both the God of the Sea and God of Storms. His domains are Tempest and Water. 
  • Tinel, god of magic, knowledge, and truth, fills the role of both God of Knowledge (in his CG aspect, which is open with knowledge) and God of Magic (in his N aspect, which keeps secrets). His domain is Knowledge, but the text implies that similar domains would also be appropriate. The Arcana domain (from the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide) would be another good choice for clerics of his archmage aspect.
  • The God of Warriors could be either Terak, LN/LG god of war and valor, or Canelle, CG goddess of victory and strength. The God of Strength has a separate shrine in Freeport's Temple District, making Terak the better choice for the local war god, despite FCoA listing all these martial gods (Strength, Valor, and Warriors) as chaotic. 
  • The Book of the Righteous mentions Freeport a handful of times. Two of those references (pages 103 and 162) state that Darmon, CG god of travel, wealth, and joy, is worshiped as a god of pirates in that city, and the latter mention suggests that the heretical Cult of Possession (CE) runs his temple there. Darmon is also God of Roads and God of Commerce, and possibly the God of Luck. I would recommend using the name Darmon for his more reputable aspects, and Harrimast for the god of pirates. (The name "Harrimast" is never used in FCoA, but was applied to the canonical God of Pirates in many earlier Freeport titles.) Darmon/Harrimast's domains are Travel and Trickery. 

Other gods worshiped in the city include:
  • Maal, LN god of law and justice, is both God of Justice and God of Retribution. His domain is Balance. Maal is the god of the Hexworth Inquisition, on the Continent (see FCoA, pp. 293-295). Many of his courts and inquisitors in that nation have been corrupted by the excessive zeal of the Necromantic Censure.
  • Morwyn, LG Goddess of Healing, has the Life domain. 
  • The "God of Life" is a nature god rather than a healer. Use Rontra, LG goddess of the earth (domain: Earth or Nature); Eliwyn, the N Tree of Life (whose guardians are druids); or Thellyne, NG goddess of woodcraft, nature, and the hunt (domain: Nature). Thellyne best matches the alignment given in FCoA.
  • Urian, NG god of the air and sky, is the God of the Sun. His domains are Air and Light.
  • Mormekar, N God of Death (and rebirth) has the Repose domain. The corrupted Cult of the Icy Breath (NE) worships him as God of Murder, using the Death domain. As God of Death, Mormekar is also popular among the Druzhdin of the Continent (see FCoA, pp. 291-293).
  • Thellos, NE god of greed, gluttony, and desire, seems the best match for an evil God of Thieves, though Darmon and the Cult of Possession both have significant followings in the criminal underworld. Thellos also qualifies as God of Lust (though Aymara, CG goddess of love and the arts, and Zheenkeef, CN goddess of wine, madness, and inspiration, provide non-evil alternatives).
  • Followers of the God of Penitence worship either an aspect of Shalimyr (attended by his holy ascetics, separately from the local sea god's temple) or of Mormekar (possibly led by one of the Reborn). It's conceivable that both may be true, if the shrine was established by an atoning Shalimyn.

The "Unique Gods" listed on page 402 of FCoA do not have counterparts in The Book of the Righteous. I would suggest the following domains for these gods:
  • Crawling Chaos (CN): Death, Madness, and possibly Arcana (Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide)
  • Unspeakable One (CE): Madness
  • Abaddon (CE): War
  • Dagon (CE): Madness, Water
  • Oona (NE): Madness, Repose
  • Yig, Hitthkai Sect (N): Knowledge, Trickery
  • Yig, Sskethvai Sect (NE): Fire, War

Some of these unique gods are given more detail in Cults of Freeport. I intend to write a future column about using that sourcebook with The Book of the Righteous.

In addition, cults of Asmodeus (LE god of lies, power, and fire) and various archdevils have operated in Freeport in the past (see especially Hell in Freeport). The King of Hell's domains are Fire and Tyranny.

Finally, the Continent is also home to some other religions not listed on pages 401-402:
  • The Eternal Flame, worshiped by the azhar of Kizmir, may very well be a part of the secret church corrupting the faith of Anwyn, LG goddess of homes, the hearth, and servants. The conspiracy's priests are LE.
  • The Way of Astrape is the dualistic faith of Tagmata, in which saints are revered instead of gods. Consider this religion to be NG with the Light domain. Its holy warriors are paladins with the oath of devotion.
  • Krom, God of the Orcs, is almost certainly another name for Canarak, CE god of destruction, violence, and rage. (The name "Krom" originally comes from Green Ronin's Ork! The Roleplaying Game; see also Black Sails Over Freeport, pp. 28-29.)

Note that the Great Church has not yet been mentioned in any of these suggestions. In the World of Freeport, that religion either lacks the ubiquitous nature ascribed to it in The Book of the Righteous, or it is most active in regions not dominated by a specific god's church. The latter would be the case in my proposed "all-Ronin" take on Freeport. For example. the Great Church is unlikely to have as much influence in Hexworth, where the Inquisition rules supreme, as it would in the more cosmopolitan Ivory Ports. It lacks a proper temple in Freeport, though the Continental Great Church almost certainly sponsors missionaries to seek converts in the city.


For ease of reference, I've compiled a list of all my previous columns discussing running D&D Fifth Edition games set in Freeport.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Unearthed Arcana and Freeport, Part 6

As many of you already know, I periodically review "Unearthed Arcana" articles with an eye towards using this material with Freeport: The City of Adventure. (If this is your first time seeing one of my UA reviews, see the appendix at the end of this column for links to past installments.) This time, I'm reviewing columns from May to September, 2017.

Unearthed Arcana Update (5/25/2017): This short piece explains the R&D group's process for further playtesting for the artificer and mystic, two new classes that were introduced (and revised) in previous UA columns.

Revised Class Options (6/5/2017): This article presents four subclasses that have been revised based on feedback about their earlier appearances in UA: Circle of the Shepherd for the druid (11/28/2016); Cavalier for the fighter (1/4/2016); Oath of Conquest for the paladin (12/19/2016); and the Celestial (formerly The Undying Light) for warlock (11/2/2015). It also updates past eldritch invocations (2/13/2017). All remain just as suitable for Freeport as they were before.

Greyhawk Initiative (7/10/2017): This document provides variant rules for initiative, in which characters roll dice for initiative determined by the type of action(s) they wish to take that round. These rules add more drama and unpredictability to combat, at the cost of a bit more complexity. Some groups may find that added chaos fits in well with Freeport's rough-and-tumble style, while others may find the setting to be more than sufficiently unpredictable already.

Three-Pillar Experience (8/7/2017): This alternate system for XP focuses on all three of the games's pillars: exploration, social interaction, and combat. Inspired in part by the milestone system of awarding XP, it also simplifies the tracking of XP, and gives the DM more control over the rate of advancement. This system is no better or worse than the standard rules or the optional milestone rules, simply different, and as such, is just as suitable for Freeport as either of those methods. However, if you feel that exploration and social interaction get short shrift when it comes to XP awards, this system may appeal to you.

Race Options: Eladrin and Gith (9/11/2017): This article presents a revision to the eladrin subrace that appeared in the Dungeon Master's Guide. This version plays up the eladrin's mercurial nature by tying its use of racial cantrips to emotional states associated with the four seasons. As an elf subrace (albeit a rare one), eladrin are suitable for characters from Rolland.

This installment also presents the gith races--githyanki and githzerai--as playable PC races. While nearly any race can be justified in visiting the City of Adventure, gith have never appeared in any Freeport products because they have never been Open Game Content. (On the other hand, none of the UA series is open content, either, so DMs are perfectly free to use gith in their home games.) In the World of Freeport, the usual origin of psionic characters is Naranjan (Mindshadows) rather than extraplanar races.


For ease of reference, I've compiled a list of all my previous columns discussing running D&D Fifth Edition games set in Freeport.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Kickstarter and Me, Revisited

A little over a year ago, in "Kickstarter and Me," I listed the various Kickstarters that I had backed. At that time, The Book of the Righteous Kickstarter had just recently concluded. I received my copy of the book last week, so it seems to be an appropriate time to revisit that list.

First, the following projects have updates since that column:

Freeport: The City of Adventure for the Pathfinder RPG: Half of the six-part Return to Freeport adventure path is now available, and I've been told that Part 4 will be released later this month. (Green Ronin has announced a February 2018 release date for a print edition of Return to Ftreeport, but that omnibus is not part of the KS rewards.) The final backer reward, a Freeport Companion for the Fantasy AGE system, still has no scheduled release date.

Prospero's Price; A Lovecraft and Shakespeare Tale: This graphic novel is still in limbo. The authors have sent out brief updates once or twice a year to say they're making progress, but I have serious doubts whether I'll ever see this book.

Epyllion, a Dragon Epic RPG: I have received the book, and my kids are very curious about the game, but we've not yet made the time to try it out. (Between school, continuing our D&D 5E game, and my other GM duties, we simply don't have the time to try to teach them another system right now.)

Blue Rose: The AGE Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy: This game has been released, and the book is both huge and stunningly gorgeous.

Spirit Island: This game (and its first expansion) shipped earlier this summer, and we've been able to play it a couple of times so far.

The Feminomicon: This book has arrived, and is solidly on par with Stoll's earlier book, A Natural History of the Fantastic. He has started new Kickstarter projects along the same lines as those two art books, but I've decided to save my money for more games instead. Those seem to give a bigger return for my investment.

Book of the Righteous for Fifth Edition: I've only just started reading this, but it's a very pretty book, and full of richly detailed pantheons. The new crunch for 5E is very intriguing as well, and I will definitely be writing one or more blogs about how to use The Book of the Righteous with Freeport.

I have only backed one new Kickstarter since that previous column:

Isometric Gaming Paper Rolls by Erik Bauer (October 2016): This project produced mapping paper with an isometric grid for drawing 3D or forced perspective maps. The product funded and shipped quickly, though the erasable isometric mats that some backers have only recently been produced and shipped due to difficulties finding a manufacturer. I did not choose that reward, just the paper map sheets. I have yet to try them out, but they would be perfect for something like the maps of Castle Ravenloft in Curse of Strahd.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Finding Me Online

Besides this blog, you can find me, or my work, in the following places online.

Online Communities

I am active in the following online communities:

Ronin Army: The Green Ronin Publishing community forums. Most of my posting there involves Freeport, but I sometimes dip into the Fantasy AGE and Blue Rose forums as well.

The Piazza: A fan forum dedicated to the many campaign worlds of Dungeons & Dragons, but members are encouraged to discuss any RPG or setting that catches their interest. (I reported on my most recent Freeport campaign there, before I started this blog.)

The Paizo Messageboards: Primarily dedicated to the Pathfinder RPG, but other RPGs and many non-gaming topics can be found there, too.

DeviantArt: An online community for artists and art lovers. My gallery is here.

LEGO Dungeons & Dragons: This Facebook community is a closed group to prevent spam, but it is very welcoming to new members who enjoy LEGO, RPGs, and combining the two.


Gaming-related material that I have posted online can be found here on Studded Plate, at some of the communities listed above, and on the following sites I've created:

Tim's Errata ArchiveTim's Errata Archive: Unofficial errata that I've compiled for Green Ronin's Freeport line as well as many other products.

The Stuff I've Written page on that site lists my professional publications, with links to online stores for the PDFs (or the files themselves, for free web enhancements).

Thastygliax's Vault: Characters, monsters, campaign settings, and other material that I've created for a variety of role-playing games. The home page provides links to the various wikis I've created for my past and present RPG campaigns (like my current Pathfinder game, "Time of the Tarrasque"). Anything that doesn't fit one of those other wikis, and hasn't been published here on my blog, ends up in the Vault.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Time of the Tarrasque #13: Death Pleases the War Goddess

Our heroes include:
  • Edel Naergon, high elf bard (magician) 3.
  • Fatou, human wizard (evoker) 2/cleric of Yaziel 1; and Nochaesh, owl familiar.
  • Jubair, human rogue 3.
  • Jumari Boneface, half-orc inquisitor 3 [deity not yet known to most of the PCs].
  • Lucretia Scavola, half-elf monk (zen archer) 3.
  • ZhaZha, half-orc cavalier (order of the dragon) 3; and Zafira, camel mount.
They are currently accompanied by the human druid Tailless, and her axebeak mount Cluck. Last time, the party assaulted a hideout used by Ghost Fist Clan orcs, and took the leader, Ilgash, alive.

After healing themselves and exploring the small cave, the heroes decided to heal Ilgash enough that they could interrogate her. Edel tried to question her diplomatically at first, but Ilgash could see no reason she should cooperate. The bard then let ZhaZha take over: the cavalier bodily picked up Ilgash, held her against the wall, and aggressively commanded the prisoner to cooperate. This intimidation was very effective, and Ilgash provided them with the following information:
  • She works for Yazdanyar, warlord of the Ghost Fists. He is with the rest of the clan, up near The Stairs. (This refers to one of the few known routes that caravans can use to climb the Shalash Escarpment, located in the desert a hundred miles or so to the north.)
  • She is here to gather information on the nearby settlements, to learn if they are worth raiding. 
  • Jibral the alchemist was not a direct contact of hers, but he was friendly with the summoner Izaz, who was a member of her tribe.
  • The Ghost Fists worship the Lord of Endings. (This is one of the titles of Asmolon, god of the void and death.) 
  • Tarifa was their spy in Spine Hollow. Ilgash isn't important enough to know any other spies the tribe might use.
  • Yazdanyar is a human devotee of the Lord of Endings. The tribe follows him because he is mightier than any of their warriors. 
  • The Ghost Fist Clan numbers a couple hundred orcs. Ilgash wasn't sure how many priests the tribe has, but there are at least a couple of them.
  • Ragalash is an elf (or half-elf?) from somewhere across the desert, but Ilgash didn't know where Yazdanyar found him. Ragalash has dark purple skin and white hair. (This led Jumari to conclude he must be one of the semi-mythical drow.)
  • The Ghost Fists had no raids planned here--yet--but Ilgash expected more of the tribe to arrive within a week. 
  • The tribe has one or two other hideouts between here and their home base, but none as good as this one. 
The party deliberated about what to do with Ilgash. Lucretia, at least, did not want to kill her in cold blood, but they couldn't simply let her go, at least not before her fellow tribesmen arrived. The monk suggested they turn her over to the druids at Spine Hollow, like they did with the spy Tarifa. The others agreed to this, and decided that ZhaZha and Jubair would accompany Tailless back to Spine Hollow, which would take at least three days round-trip.

While that group was away, the others would prepare for the arrival of more orcs. They used brush to build some screens atop the lookout spire, so that Lucretia would have some cover there. Jumari climbed up to the hole the spring issued from, and found that it was too small to hold anything of interest (or danger). She also burned the pair of unholy symbols they had seized from Ilgash's group, as well as the creepy wooden mask one of them had worn. Fatou scribed a few scrolls--a luxury of time that traveling rarely affords her--and finally identified the pearl of power they took from Tarifa.

Their friends reached Spine Hollow, and delivered a report as well as their prisoner. They acquired more provisions, and asked if any more villagers could accompany them. Unfortunately, the Hollow could not spare more people. Jubair proposed a bargain with Tailless that if she came back with them again, he would stop asking her repeatedly about how to get a pet axebeak. She agreed.

Traveling by night, the trio returned to Ilgash's cave just before dawn on the 27th of Leaffall. This date is the Feast of Broken Swords in Thovalas, and is the holy day of Lucretia's goddess, Bellonika. The monk awoke before dawn to start her prayers, and used her quarterstaff to practice glaive katas (Bellonika's favored weapon). She was disappointed that there would be no deaths on this holy day, because that would please the war goddess, so instead she spent part of the day hunting.

The battle begins!
That night, late in the first watch, Tailless heard a group approaching their position in the ravine. She alerted Edel, who went into the cave to wake the others. Meanwhile, ZhaZha, who was also on watch, mounted her camel and moved to the druid's position. Jumari had just enough time to hastily don her breastplate before a small group of four orcs came into view of the party's sentries. The orcs paused, sensing something amiss, and the heroes attacked. Fatou blessed the party as Lucretia started shooting at the orcs from her vantage point. Edel cast grease between the orcs and his friends. ZhaZha rode forward to meet the orcs, easily crossing the grease but failing to spear one with her lance.

The orcs closed with the cavalier, and one struck her. Two of the orcs entered a rage, and one attacked ZhaZha while the other went after her mount. The first barbarian landed a lucky critical hit with his falchion that, with her previous injury, was enough to kill her, not just knock her out. The other barbarian wounded her camel.

Jubair, Jumari, and Fatou (the last two using expeditious retreat) reached the fight, and the evoker shot a force bolt at ZhaZha's killer. Edel cast hideous laughter on the same orc, and the camel promptly bit the now prone barbarian. Lucretia shot one of the non-raging orcs twice, killing it.

We removed ZhaZha's mini from the board when she fell
dead in her camel's space. 
The other barbarian ignored the camel--and suffered a bite of opportunity for doing so--in order to cross the grease and attack Tailless. Jubair moved to flank this orc, but missed. Jumari joined that fight, and Lucretia shot the orc. Meanwhile, Edel stepped away from the scary barbarian and healed the druid.

The fourth orc struck ZhaZha's camel, knocking it out. (However, it soon stabilized on its own.) The prone barbarian, who had shaken off the bard's spell, tried to rise--but the axebeak crushed his head in its huge beak.

The surviving barbarian struck Tailless again, but then suffered a sneak attack from Jubair and a falchion blow from Jumari. Fatou reached the druid and healed her, as Lucretia downed the orc with an arrow.

This left only one orc standing, who was badly wounded. It tried to withdraw, but was pursued and taken down by the axebeak.

Jumari examined ZhaZha and learned that it was too late to heal her, for she was dead. She then healed her fallen friend's mount while the party searched the dead orcs. They found a couple of potions, and some jars of black paste, which Jumari and Fatou recognized as black fester (an orc concoction that, when applied to weapons, causes the wounds they inflict to resist healing magic).

The party took ZhaZha's body back to Spine Hollow to ask the druids if they could bring her back. On the way there, Edel composed a song praising the cavalier's bravery, and recited it as part of their plea to the druids' leader, Razima. Because ZhaZha had died protecting Spine Hollow, the sylph agreed to cast reincarnate on her, but lacked the expensive oils required by the spell. The heroes would have to return to Zahallan to acquire them. (ZhaZha would also need some castings of restoration to remove the permanent negative levels incurred in returning from the dead, but that spell is not available to druids.)

The adventurers left ZhaZha's body and camel in the druids' care and traveled to Zahallan. They had acquired quite a bit of nonmagical loot from their past several fights that they had not yet had time to trade for cash, so they did that now. This gave them enough to buy the oils for the druid's spell, and a decent start towards the other spells their friend would need once alive again.

The day of the new moon fell during their trip back to Spine Hollow. Jumari took some time to move away the party's camp in order to conduct some prayers and rites in privacy. Fatou took note of her absence, and recalled that the half-orc had also vanished for some time during the previous new moon. Fatou observes Yaziel's holy day on the full moon, and knows Asmolon's cult holds unholy rites at the new moon. She was, however, fairly certain Jumari did not observe those ways, given the inquisitor's passionate hatred for the death god's cult. The wizard's curiosity finally got the better of her, and she asked Jumari what religion she followed.

Jumari answered that she followed "the Lost Egg." When that statement met blank stares from her companions, she related the short version of her god's story: At some time in the distant past, the two dragon goddesses, the Adamantine Dragon and the Scintillating Dragon, mated and each produced a single egg that they laid in shared nest. The Tarrasque hatched from one of these eggs, and devoured the other. Jumari worships "That Which Is Not and Should Have Been," the potential of the unborn god. She prays at the new moon because it is reborn then, with new potential. Similarly, the winter solstice is a holy day, when the year is reborn. Her religion is not a common one; she had known only three followers--herself, her master, and her sister--before Jubair had asked her the same question a few weeks before and decided to become a follower, too.

The group continued on to Spine Hollow. They gave the oils to Razima, who performed the reincarnation spell the next day. ZhaZha returned as a half-elf, apparently a mix of high elf and the pale-skinned humans of the northern continent, but she retained her gender and her previous body's bright red hair and blue eyes.

The party intends to continue the fight against the Ghost Fist clan, and plans to go looking for their home near the Stairs...


Hurray! The inquisitor's big secret is finally out in the open! You'd think PCs would be more nosy than this group has been. Now that the others are aware of it, I have added the Lost Egg to the Dragon Gods section of the religions page.
The new ZhaZha

ZhaZha's player is currently adjusting her character sheet, and reviewing the effects of the permanent negative levels she has to cope with until she can afford to clear them. She may seek out a side quest or two to earn the money to pay for the required spells, so that she doesn't have to beg even more from her friends. We have a few weeks to work on that before our next session, due to real-life transitions affecting our group.

Lucretia's player has defended her doctoral thesis and found a postdoc position. We're all very happy for her, but unfortunately, the job isn't local, so she will be moving out of state next month. This means that this was her last session in person with us before then. We've been considering our options for how to continue the game from here, and will start by having her join us remotely, through Skype or the like. Whatever we work out will also affect her husband, Jubair's player, who will be joining her after he finishes his degree this winter.  

Appendix: Previous Sessions

Sunday, August 27, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017: Day 31

31st) What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?

I can't narrow this to just one answer, so here are some of the things I look forward to in 2018:
  • The rest of the Return to Freeport adventure series, which will be gathered in a print collection in February
  • Hopefully getting back to GenCon again.
  • Continuing my "Time of the Tarrasque" and Tales from the Yawning Portal campaigns.
  • Getting my act together to finally get the Miskatonic Regional Elementary School LARP ready for a second run.

#RPGaDay 2017: Day 30

30th) What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

I've thought long and hard about this, and finally decided that the mash-up that I would most like to see is one that I helped write back in 1998. As I mentioned in my "LARPs in Limbo" column last fall, I would like to polish up Miskatonic Regional Elementary School for a second run someday. To give you an idea of how many genres get mashed into that one little game--and to push myself to do some some more work on it--here's the player handout (or "bluesheet") about the game's premise:


Bluesheet: The Big School District Merger

The past year has been a turbulent time for the Miskatonic River Valley school district. Due to the prolonged recession, state and federal funding has dried up and nearly every school in the district faced closing unless they merged.

Before now, the district was home to four elementary schools:

Miskatonic Elementary has served the children, spawn, and other assorted offspring of the families, spore beds, and parthenogenic amorphous masses of historic, haunted Arkham for over a century. The school is large, both in student body and in architecture--it has to be, in order for some of the more, um, exotic students to even make it through the doors. Now renamed Miskatonic Regional Elementary School, it has become host to other very specialized schools that were closed in the merger.

Anime Elementary was the school of choice for the local mecha operators, space fighter pilots, alien sex demons, cute tiny auto mechanics, and weapons dealers in the high-tech townships north of Arkham. Many of these families had more-or-less mobile residences, so when the school was shut down, most of the students simply transferred outside the district. A few families decided to keep their kids in the same school district, so those ended up at Miskatonic.

W.D. Memorial was located in Filmland, to the east. Few parents here were willing to move away from their show-business careers. Some were affluent enough to afford private schooling, but most just enrolled their kids in the nearest possible school. Miskatonic gained many talented and fascinating students as a result.

The Atlantean Private School for Boys was located offshore a few dozen miles south of Arkham. Wealthy superheroes sent their sons here to be properly trained in the use and control of their powers. Unfortunately for the school, some supervillains also sent their children there. An ill-considered comment on a report card last spring kindled the fires of rage, so to speak, in the heart of one of the more volatile parents. Luckily, all of the students were away on a field trip that day. They returned home to find not the welcoming domes of the underwater school, but the cooling lava of a new mountain range. Although no villain has publicly claimed responsibility, the modus operandi has narrowed the search to one particular suspect. Dr. Volcano, however, is in hiding and refuses to comment on the disaster.

The first couple months of this school year were rather challenging, as both the returning Miskatonic students and the newcomers adjusted to sharing a common school. The principal, Mr. Black, has dealt promptly and efficiently with fights, accidents, and other disturbances, which has greatly reassured the parents of new students who might have had any qualms about Arkham's sinister reputation. (Most potential troublemakers, on the other hand, live in terror of the harsh and seemingly omniscient Mr. Black.)

#RPGaDay 2017: Day 29

29th) What has been the best-run RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

Pretty much all of the Kickstarters by Green Ronin that I've backed (Advanced Bestiary, Freeport: The City of Adventure, Blue Rose AGE, The Book of the Righteous). They've had their hiccups and delays, as most Kickstarters do, but the Ronins have always been very up-front about any issues and how they were going to be resolved, and the final product has always been worth the wait.

#RPGaDay 2017: Day 28

I'm starting a new job tomorrow, so don't know how much free time I'm going to have this week. I've decided to go ahead and post the rest of these today.

28th) What film/series is the biggest source of quotes in your group?

It's probably a toss-up between Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Princess Bride, but the Star Wars movies rank pretty high on the list, too.

I recently saw a gamer post online (I wish I could recall who or where) about how they vastly prefer The Princess Bride quotes to Holy Grail at their table. They had found that the former don't spawn as many follow-up quotes, and thus they derail the game far less.

#RPGaDay 2017: Day 27

27th) What are your essential tools for good gaming?
  • Plenty of writing materials for making notes during the game. I usually use a composition notebook to take notes during each session I run, for future reference. (It's also a great memory aid for when I type up the summaries of each session for this blog.) I also keep a pad of scratch paper handy for tracking initiative, sketching maps and symbols to show the players, and any other writing needs.
  • A good battle grid. I've used wet-erase mats in the past, but my current preference is 1"-gridded easel pads. My art skills let me easily draw maps freehand during play, but it often saves precious play time to draw out the more complicated maps ahead of time. And using an easel pad lets me keep maps that I might want to reuse later.
  • A good supply of dice. Have enough for all the rolls that your character makes on a regular basis, and at least one of each other die type the game uses. If you're the GM, have multiples of each kind of die (and possibly an extra set or two if a player forgets to bring theirs). 
  • Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering, by Robin D. Law. This short booklet (only 38 pages) has a lot of solid advice about how to be a better GM. I reread it about once a year or so just to refresh my memory and remind me to pay attention. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017: Day 26

26th) Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

GURPS. I haven't played GURPS in about 15 years, but I still own a shelf full of GURPS historical sourcebooks, and have used them as references for games using very different rules systems. For example. I've used GURPS Greece, Egypt, Celtic Myth, Places of Mystery, and Fantasy Bestiary, among others, for my BESM Greek myth campaign; and GURPS China, Places of Mystery (again), and Arabian Nights when working on a Silk Road caravansarai LARP.

I also tend to reread sourcebooks that contain conspiracy/secret history/alternate history/occult content (GURPS Illuminati, Atlantis, Cabal, Atomic Horror, Warehouse 23, Monsters, etc.) every few years, because I've long wanted to try running a game of that sort. If I ever do, it probably won't be in GURPS, but I would be constantly using those sourcebooks throughout the game.

#RPGaDay 2017: Day 25

25th) What is the best way to thank your GM?

Let them know that you enjoy playing in their game. Give them good feedback about what you like about the campaign, what you want to see more of (or less of), what has you confused and needs more clarification (apart from obvious in-game mysteries--but if those are consistently frustrating, tell the GM), and what you would like to do with your character as the game progresses.

Money, game books, LEGO, and food are all strictly optional, but rarely refused. ;)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017: Day 24

24th) Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

I don't make much use of Pay What You Want publishers, but I did look into some of the DM's Guild offerings when Wizards of the Coast highlighted a few of them in their "Unearthed Arcana" series. Stray Chow Chow's "Druid Circle - Circle of the Beast" (Price: Free--not even PWYW!) stood out as providing animal companions to druids, which was a staple of the class in previous editions. It allowed me to convert my daughter's Pathfinder druid to 5E without losing the one feature that had sold her on the class in the first place.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The "Mythos" CCG

This text was originally posted 8/3/2017 in a new thread in The Piazza's Call of Cthulhu forum, but I decided that it was worth sharing here, too. Additional comments have been added as footnotes.

I played Magic: The Gathering and a couple other collectible card games for a time back in the 1990s-2000s, but the only one that I actively collected and still own is Mythos[*]. This was Chaosium's attempt to cash in on the CCG craze with a game based on their own Call of Cthulhu RPG. The game didn't sell well, so Chaosium only produced a handful of expansion sets during 1996-1997 before discontinuing the line[**]. I bought quite a few Mythos decks and boosters when it was new, and a LOT more (often as cases) when it started hitting the clearance shelves. For a very brief time, I even turned to collectibles resellers to acquire some of the individual cards I couldn't find any other way. (I'm still 13 cards short of a complete set, because they were going for more than I could justify paying then, and are probably impossible to find now.)

My wife and I continue to play occasionally with the dozen or so of the best decks that we built years ago. Our kids are now 13 and 12, so we've started teaching them how to play, too. We started them on the two prepackaged decks from the Standard Set, and they've recently graduated to playing with our custom-built decks.[***]

This has finally prompted me to build some new decks for the first time in years. I was never happy with any of the Europe decks that I built back in the day (that region was never as interesting as the Middle East expansion), so I decided to try tackling that again--and ended up with three new decks to test sometime in the near future.[****]

I've also typed up card lists for our older decks that have stood up well to continued play. That way I'll have a record of what was in them in case we ever retire them to cannibalize the cards for new decks.

And if the kids stay interested in the game, I'll have less incentive to donate my spare cards to Gen Con's Cardhalla. I had some mixed feelings about seeing a big pile of Mythos cards there the one year I made it to the con (2011), but that didn't stop me from building a Yellow Sign to leave behind for the unwary....

Cardhalla: Yellow Sign by Thastygliax


[*] Chaosium long ago removed the Mythos CCG pages from its website, but they can still be found here, in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. (Thanks to David "Big Mac" Shepheard for the link!)

[**] The original release is known as the Limited Edition, and is set in "Lovecraft Country"--essentially the 1920s-1930s New England in which most of HPL's fiction was set. This set had Starter Decks as well as additional boosters that introduced new regions: Europe in Expeditions of Miskatonic University, the South Pacific in Cthulhu Rising, and the Middle East in Legends of the Necronomicon. This last booster also included the idea of Allies from the Past (like Abdul Alhazred and Keziah Mason), who could be played through the use of certain Artifact and/or Spell cards.

There is also a Standard Game set, which included two pre-made decks that could be played against each other. All of the included cards are unique to this set, though some merely reproduce Limited Edition cards with new art. (My wife and I own multiple copies of this set in order to use the cards in our own decks, but we always keep one set intact for when we're teaching people the game for the first time.) 

There were two compatible but standalone sets released over the next year or two. The Dreamlands provided adventures set in that dimension, and introduced rules for traveling between it and the "Waking World" (the world and time of the Limited Edition and Standard Game). It included enough new Waking World content to allow you to play adventures than span both realms without needing the previous games (though having both certainly gives you more deck-building options).

The last release was New Aeon, set in the modern day (1990s). Like the previous set, it included means for dimensional travel, with enough Waking World-related cards to support those adventures, but it made no direct references to the Dreamlands. It simply referenced "other dimensions" in some card text.

[***] My daughter, the elder spawn, asks to play Mythos more than any other game right now. We even took some decks with us on our family trip to see the solar eclipse this past weekend. Naturally, I chose the decks that included Eclipse cards.

[****] None of which exclusively use Europe locations, but visit at least one other region or dimension. Two of the three have been played (and slightly tweaked) since my original post to The Piazza. We still need to test the three-region deck, which requires visiting Lovecraft Country, Europe, and the Middle East in order to complete one adventure.

#RPGaDay 2017: Day 23

23rd) Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

This is a difficult question for me to answer, partly because "jaw-dropping" is not a word that often occurs to me when considering RPG books, and partly because I own a number of quite lovely RPG products.

I've already mentioned the full-color interior art of Blue Rose, Second Edition (see Day 12). The book's art director and graphic designer, Hal Mangold, has been making Green Ronin books look amazing for quite some time now, and he keeps finding ways to outdo himself time and time again. Other titles that Hal has designed in the past 2-3 years include Freeport: The City of Adventure, the Freeport Bestiary, and The Book of the Righteous--and those are just the gems that I personally own.

Apart from Hal's work, the first book that occurs to me is Big Eyes Small Mouth, Second Edition. The rulebook was in full color, with a bright, bold layout and lots of lots of colorful anime-style art throughout. (Sadly, I lost my copy in a flood. My Second Edition Revised book survived; it reproduced most of the art, but often at a smaller size and only in black and white.) The BESM Third Edition rulebook was full color and quite pretty as well, but it just wasn't as lush in presentation as the Second Edition.

And finally, I composed most of this post ahead of time, before I bought the Starfinder Core Rulebook last week, but that book deserves at least an honorable mention here.

Friday, August 18, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017: Days 18-22 (Eclipse Edition)

My family and I will be traveling the next few days to see the total eclipse and do general sightseeing in Nashville, so I've decided to post my answers to the next few days' questions now.

18th) Which RPG have you played the most in your life?
19th) Which RPG features the best writing?
20th) What is the best source for out-of-print RPGs?
21st) Which RPG does the most with the least words?
22nd) Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

18th) Which RPG have you played the most in your life?

This is an easy one: Dungeons & Dragons. I've been playing and DMing one edition or another of that game ever since I was first introduced to RPGs in middle school around 35 years ago. I played Basic and Expert in middle school, Advanced in high school, and 2nd Edition in college. I promptly adopted v.3.0 and v3.5 when they were released, but didn't care for 4th Edition much, so continued running and playing v.3.5 until my group decided to switch to Pathfinder a few years ago. Fifth Edition has won me back, and I'm running it for my kids so we can all learn the new rules.

19th) Which RPG features the best writing?

I'm not sure how to judge the "best" writing, but I would have to say that the Buffy and Angel RPGs are the two rulebooks that have been the most entertaining to read. Most RPG rulebooks tend to get pretty dry reading after a while, but very little of the Buffy core rulebook is. The prose is very conversational, and peppered with witticisms in the style of the TV series--but that casual, snarky style never gets in the way of explaining the rules clearly.

20th) What is the best source for out-of-print RPGs?

Given my shopping habits, I'd have to say RPG hobby shops and used book stores.

Many game stores will have a used game section, where items are greatly discounted. When I lived in Boston, my FLGS (Pandemonium Books and Games) had a rather extensive used game section, with most items marked at half the cover price. Some games languish on the used shelves because they just aren't good enough to sell even at a discount, but you can occasionally find a real gem among the dross. Pandemonium also had a "Black Hole" clearance shelf for items (both used and new) that hadn't moved in far too long; as time passed, those items moved to gradually more discounted shelves, ending at 90% off if still not sold.

Used bookstores will sometimes have role-playing games sections. Both Half Price Books stores in my area (Lexington, KY) have a full bay of RPG books, from a wide variety of games, both recent and venerable. Though none of the following were out of print, I scored a huge pile of Pathfinder hardcovers at HBP last year, and discovered the OneDice system there, which I bought for my kids.

21st) Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Fate Accelerated Edition. This 48-page book distills all the essential elements of the Fate system into a compact, streamlined game that can be used for almost any adventure genre.

This system is used in many of Evil Hat Production's recent games, like the new edition of Dresden Files. My one opportunity to play it so far was a short campaign using Do: Fate of the Flying Temple.

Best of all, the rulebook is available as a pay-what-you-like PDF from the Evil Hat website, or for only $5 in print.

22nd) Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

BESM Third Edition and D&D Fifth Edition. I'm sure that I would find BESM a lot more work to run for any campaign that was not a solo game, but for that, it's served us extremely well.

I'm still learning D&D 5E, but the rules are far, far simpler than any edition since 2nd, and it still captures the classic feel of the game. Running published adventures for my kids (Lost Mine of Phandelver and The Sunless Citadel) has been pretty easy so far. And it's the first edition in a while that I would not feel completely overwhelmed using to run the massive and dangerous Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (which, as I've discussed here before, is a goal of mine).

Thursday, August 17, 2017

TBT: #Drawlloween 2016

I participated in #Drawlloween 2016 here on my blog. However, I sprained my hand near the end of October, so couldn't continue for a couple weeks, and posted Days 24-28 in November.

I also drew sketches for Days 29-30, but never posted them online. Now that I have copied all my #Drawlloween work to DeviantArt (here), I have corrected that oversight.

Much of the reason that I forgot to post Days 29-20 at the time was that I never completed Day 31 ("Trick 'R' Treat"). I had intended to draw a picture of my old Buffy RPG character, Patricia "Trick" Tillinghast, in a Halloween costume. (See here and here for more about Trick.) To do her justice would have required much more time and effort than my very quick drawings from the rest of that month, and my injured hand wasn't up to it yet. To fill that void, I have uploaded an older drawing of Trick as Animal (below), which I drew back when that RPG campaign was still active.


#RPGaDay 2017: Day 17

17th) Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?

Spaceship Zero, from Green Ronin. It was published in 2002, and I acquired a copy in early 2003. It's based on the album of the same name by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets, and was designed (and partly illustrated) by members of the band. It's a quirky mix of '50s radio-serial SF tropes and Lovecraftian horror (the main villains, the Hydronauts, are clearly "Deep Ones in spaaaaaace"). I've compiled some unofficial errata for the game, but never played it.

GURPS Fourth Edition (Steve Jackson Games, 2004) is a close second. I played a lot of GURPS Third Edition back in the '90s, but my regular group had drifted off to other games (primarily D&D v.3.0/v.3.5) by the time 4E came out, so we never made the move to that rules set. Which is a shame, because I won a copy of the Basic Set through the 4E iconics lookalikes contest when SJ Games was first promoting the new edition. (I built the warbot C31R07 in LEGO. My strategy of appealing to Evil Stevie's other hobbies worked!) I also sold a single 4E article to Pyramid ("The Mirror Dance: Playing Twins in GURPS," June 24, 2005).

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Time of the Tarrasque #12: Alarming Some Orcs

Our heroes include:
  • Edel Naergon, high elf bard (magician) 3.
  • Fatou, human wizard (evoker) 2/cleric of Yaziel 1; and Nochaesh, owl familiar.
  • Jubair, human rogue 3.
  • Jumari Boneface, half-orc inquisitor 3 [deity not yet known to most of the PCs].
  • Lucretia Scavola, half-elf monk (zen archer) 3.
  • ZhaZha, half-orc cavalier (order of the dragon) 3; and Zafira, camel mount.
Last time, our heroes captured Tarifa, a halfling witch who had been spying on Spine Hollow for the Ghost Fist Clan. They delivered their prisoner to the settlement's druid leaders. The interrogation provided more information on the Ghost Fists and their leaders, and confirmed that this orc tribe worships the death god Asmolon.

After the party had a good long rest, they were called to speak with Razima again. She thanked the party for their deeds of the previous night, and informed them that Tarifa had provided more details on where Ilgash's secret hideout was located. Razima had recognized enough of the landmarks to give directions to Tailless, who would lead the party there to deal with the orcs. Spine Hollow's resources are very limited, but she asked if there was anything they could provide to help. Jumari requested healing potions, and the druids were able to supply two, as well as food and water.

Tailless said that it would take a little over a day to reach the cave, which was found in a branching ravine is some rocky badlands. Near the center of this ravine was the spring and a cave used by the orcs.

They traveled at night (with ample light from the moon, which was still full). Once Tailless informed them that they were only a couple hours' travel from the ravine, they decided to send scouts ahead while it was still dark, but to delay their attack on the hideout until daylight. Jumari and ZhaZha were aware that many of the desert's orc tribes have adapted to the daylight, so they could not count on bright light impairing their foes. However, the orcs would have a distinct advantage over most of the party at night, so they decided it would still be best to attack in daylight.

Jubair and Lucretia scouted ahead and found the ravine, while ZhaZha patroled on camel-back closer to the rest of the party. The rogue and monk entered the ravine, and reached the fork without problems, Here, they saw a spring trickling from the side of the ravine to form a small pool. They also saw a cave beyond it, and a single orc standing guard upon a rocky spire that gave a view of all three approaches. The sentry did not appear to be very attentive, however, and did not spot them.

Map of the ravine and hideout entrance. (Based on "BG-Desert-04," by gogot at Deviant Art.

They returned to the others, and Lucretia (who had some training in tactics) reported what they found, and started the discussion of how to best approach the orcs. The party agreed that they needed to lure the orcs out of their cave in order to kill them. They decided that a distraction was needed, so chose to split the party: ZhaZha would scout around to find the southern entrance to the ravine, and she and Tailless (riding her axebeak, Cluck) would enter from that direction. ZhaZha suggested they use the axebeak's cry as a signal that they were in position and ready to attack. In addition, Fatou send her owl familiar with the riders; she would know they were close (within a mile) when her empathic link reestablished itself.

The assault begins!
The group on foot entered the ravine, and reached the branch without being spotted by the sentry. They heard the jingling of (ZhaZha's) armor from the south. So did the sentry, who moved back out of sight. Seeing this, Jumari cast shield of faith upon herself in preparation for a fight. The sounds of this might have also alerted the guard.

Lucretia began climbing the shelves at the base of the spire in order to reach the sentry's previous position. She had some trouble getting purchase, until Jubair climbed up and gave her a boost.

Tailless had Cluck squawk a call, and rushed forward to the intersection. The cave was located in a nearby cul-de-sac, so Edel cast grease on the ground at the narrowest part of this passage.  Jumari cast expeditious retreat upon herself and rushed to the opposite side of the spire, where a rough ramp allowed the sentry to reach the bottom. The orc cast bane on the party, but only Edel was affected. Fatou then moved forward and cast sleep upon the sentry.

The trapped orcs on the defensive.
Jumari was able to dimly see at least one orc standing just inside the cave. She heaped insults upon the orcs, to which they answered by shooting at her. Another orc rushed out and moved to engage the inquisitor. ZhaZha and Tailless reached the scene and dismounted, because there was no room for their animals. The cavalier promptly moved in to flank the orc warrior--a barbarian, who was starting to rage. Meanwhile, Jubair sneak attacked the sleeping sentry to make sure he wouldn't wake up.

The orcs' leader attempted to cast sleep on Jumari and failed. Lucretia, who had moved to the top of the spire, shot this orc and took her down with a nasty critical hit. Jumari could faintly heard a shocked exclamation in Orcish about "Ilgash" going down, but then a masked, robed figure began tending to the fallen leader.

Two more orcs joined the fray outside--a lightly armored thug with a greatclub, and a warrior with scalemail and a scimitar. The orc barbarian struck ZhaZha hard with his falchion, but her return blow dropped him.

Jubair jumped down from the spire's ramp, and used some small ledges on the ravine wall near the cave to bypass the central melee in the cul-de-sac. The masked figure retreated into the cave, out of sight, so Jubair rushed into the cave to deal with it.

Edel cast a second grease spell, which toppled both of the orcs still standing outside. The greatclub wielder tried to stand but was cut down by attacks of opportunity. Jumair passed over the greased area, but stayed upright, and beheaded the barbarian.

Ilgash (with mohawk) returns to the fight.
At this point, Ilgash stood up once again, partially healed and angry. She tried to cast cause fear on Jumari, but failed. Lucretia shot her and Tailless stabbed her, finally dropping her for good. The masked person spotted Jubair next to him the cave, and cast a surprisingly feeble burning hands. Jubair took him down quickly after that.

This left no conscious foes on the field. The party checked the bodies to see if any survived. Two did--Ilgash herself, and the barbarian--so the heroes stabilized them to interrogate. The party then took some time to catch their breaths and search the bodies and the cave.

Edel detected no magic on the orcs beyond a single potion, but some of them had a masterwork weapon or armor.

The cave was big enough to fit a dozen or so filthy bedrolls, a few barrels (one holding water, one holding some unappetizing dried food, one holding spare javelins) and a large flat rock that looks like it was used to prepare food and such. They found a disguise kit near one of the bedrolls, and a small pouch of gold in another. Finally, a very long pole with a tattered banner (a crudely painted white fist) was propped against a wall near the entrance.
Last orc down.

The orcs: (front, L-R): sentry, Ilgash, barbarian;
(rear, L-R): warrior, thug, masked spellcaster.

Appendix: Previous Sessions

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017: Days 15-16

My kids start school tomorrow, so to give myself one less thing to worry about then, I've decided to post tomorrow's question along with today's. And as you'll see, they're closely related questions.

My regular weekly blog will still be posted Wednesday or Thursday. This week's installment will feature a new "Time of the Tarrasque" session.

15th) Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

Call of Cthulhu. Apart from trying one of the brief solo adventures back in college (when my roommate owned a copy), I have never played Call of Cthulhu using Chaosium's original BRP rules. I have, however, acquired a sizable CoC library, and have adapted it for use in other game systems: I ran a couple short GURPS campaigns using the rules in GURPS CthulhuPunk; I've co-written a short, silly LARP titled "Miskatonic Regional Elementary School"; and I've run three campaigns in Green Ronin's Freeport setting, which is steeped in Lovecraftian horror. I'm also partly responsible for the volume of Cthulhu Mythos elements that appeared in the long-time Buffy campaign I played in; my first character pitch was a essentially a Deep One hybrid, and the GM gleefully ran with it.

16th) Which RPG do you enjoy using as-is?

That's a tough question, as I tend to make up my own material for almost every system that I play for any significant length of time. But at the moment, I'd have to say Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition. Most of my homebrewing efforts are currently dedicated to my Pathfinder campaign, so for now, I just use what's in the 5E core rulebooks and the canned adventures that I'm running. That's plenty good enough for my kids as they learn the system and I get more comfortable with running it.

(Of course, anyone who follows my blog knows that I'm interested in trying a Freeport 5E game someday, and that will involve a lot of conversion from previous editions. But for now, my answer stands.)

Monday, August 14, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017: Day 14

14th) Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

Pathfinder and BESM Third Edition.

My current gaming group's game of choice is Pathfinder. I've used that system for my most recent Freeport campaign, and for my current "Time of the Tarrasque" game (which technically has a planned end point around 20th level or so, but it's going to take us a few years of game play to get there, and I have very little planned out between now and then).

I use BESM 3E for the solo Greek myth campaign that I run for my wife. That game is extremely open-ended, though after 10 years of play, I'm actively trying to work out a suitable climactic stopping place for us in the near(ish) future.

D&D 5E will probably end up taking BESM's place as one of my go-to games once I master the system a bit more. I'm currently running published 5E modules for my kids, since Tarrasque takes up so much of my "create new stuff" headspace.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017: Day 13

13th) Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

One of the game experiences that has most changed how I play didn't seem to be that profound at the time; it was just a matter of convenience. In my very first "Studded Plate" column (at BigBlueDie), I discussed the events that led to me adopting the use of LEGO minifigures instead of conventional miniatures. These days, I use LEGO minifigures and models as much as possible in my games, and I launched this blog in large part to share the tips and techniques that I've learned in the 15+ years since I made that change.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017: Day 12

12th) Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

I can't really decide between Blue Rose, Earthdawn, and Pathfinder.

Blue Rose, especially the Second Edition (for AGE), is packed full of beautiful art depicting the romantic fantasy genre. The AGE version also includes Stephanie Law's covers from the original True20 line, repurposed as two-page spreads at the beginning of the players' world, and GM's sections.

Earthdawn has a great deal of black and white interior art depicting the races, cultures, and creatures of Barsaive. The quality varies greatly, but taken as a whole, they convey the look and feel of the setting quite well. The first edition even had a few color plates of the races, famous sites, and other scenes.

And Pathfinder books almost always do a good job of depicting a wide diversity of people, creatures, and locations typical of a d20 fantasy setting. I'm especially fond of the Wayne Reynolds portraits and module covers that been repurposed as interior art in the Core Rulebook and elsewhere.