We’ve been nominated for 15 ENnies including one for Page XX! Voting ends tomorrow, so we would appreciate your votes. You can find out more about our ENnie nominations, and a link on how to vote, here.
However, we’re not just resting on our nomination laurels. With less than three weeks to go until Gen Con, we’re beavering away to get a giant stack of new products out for the show. The first of these is now available to pre-order; Shadows of Eldolan, the first published adventure for 13th Age and The Book of Loot, featuring a raft of magic items for your 13th Age game. And of course, 13 True Ways is still available for pre-order, too. KWAS subscribers will get the August edition, Xeno-archaeology!, this month; meanwhile, non-subscribers can now buy Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk as a stand-alone product in the shop.
- 13 True Ways – the long-awaited expansion book for 13th Age features six new classes, the lore of devils, the keys to Horizon, the Great Gold Worm’s secret assassin, and much more.
- Shadows of Eldolan – this first level adventure for 13th Age pits players against the problems brewing in the port town of Eldolan
- The Book of Loot – a collection of magic items for 13th Age to be found, stolen, given as rewards or otherwise looted by the player characters.
- Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk – the new subscription of Ken Writes about Stuff showcases the Children of Yig
- Series Pitch of the Month – This month’s edition is Promised Land by Caias Ward
13th Age Resource page updates
- 13th Age Monsters List – Sean Dunstan and our man Detective Clayton have created a list of all the monsters in the 13th Age Core rulebook, Bestiary and 13 True Ways
- 13th Age character sheet – Ieuane has done a new version of the character sheet
See Page XX Poll
Our best intentions lay in ruins as we scramble, once again, to get all the books out for GenCon Indy. But our pain is your unalloyed pleasure, as we provide you with a slew of preorders and new releases for 13th Age, Trail and others. In addition, we have been nominated for a host of ENnie awards. Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk is out now, and KWAS subscribers get Xeno-Archeology.
The ENnie Awards are an annual celebration of RPGs. Pelgrane has been nominated for a record 15 in all – and we would really appreciate you considering us in your rankings. Eternal Lies, 13th Age, Hillfolk Pelgrane Press, music and Owl Hoot Trail have all been nominated – a full list is here, along with a sampler.
The voting booth is here. You can rank as many or as few products as you like. Search for “Pelgrane” on the voting page to find all the noms.
ENnie awards mean so much more to publishers and creators than they do to customers. The recognition by carefully selected judges in the form of nominations against such a strong field is gratifying, and there are few greater pleasures than seeing shiney-faced writers and artists clutching their well deserved awards in their clammy hands. However, the journey from critical recogntion is tough, because it is a popularity contest, and this year the competition is partcularly strong – the armies of FATE and Numenara compete with Hillfolk and 13th Age, for example. We are honoured to be in their company.
Skip this if you aren’t going to GenCon.
This will be our biggest GenCon ever in terms of events, with more than 80 games booked in and more to follow, a big 13th Age announcement, seminars and at least nine new releases. Gareth Hanrahan and Steve Dempsey have written convention adventures and we’ll have a constellation of guests including Robin D Laws, Ken Hite, Gareth Hanrahan and Rob Heinsoo.
We are emailing all Shadows and Book of Loot pre-orderers to offer GenCon collection.
Scheduled Games and Games on Demand
You can see a list of scheduled games and seminars at GenCon here. New ones are being added all the time, but they fill up quickly.
If you are a GM it would be great if you could sign up for Games on Demand – a fantastic and growing initiative which allows people to sample a wide variety of RPGs for the first time. If you want to run Pelgrane games, then you can contact us to get convention scenarios for GUMSHOE, or ASH LAW for 13th Age games. Games on Demand encourage diversity (both in games and people), so it’s best if you are able to run a variety of games – if you only submit one game system you are liable to be rejected. If you are accepted, please let us know.
Printer willing, 13 True Ways will be shipping out in early August. All US Kickstarter backer books and pre-orderers will be shipped before GenCon and we think most of them will arrive before GenCon. Kickstarter Backers and pre-orderers will be given the chance to collect at GenCon. Kickstarter backers will hear through the Kickstarter interface, preorderers will get an email.
Rest of the World backers and pre-orderers will be shipped across the Atlantic to be on shipped from the UK. To make up for the fact that some GenCon attendees will get copies before Rest of World backers, Rob Heinsoo is putting a little something exclusive together for Kickstarter.
I thought you might also like to see the cover for the forthcoming The Eyes of the Stone Thief by Ben Wootten.
The Gaean Reach
The Gaean Reach and Gaean Reach Gazeteer are set in Jack Vance’s sprawling, idiosyncractic SF milieu, and feature Vengeance In Space!
It feels like the Gaean Reach has been travelling at sublight speeds across interstellar distances, but it has finally arrived. Both books are available on pre-order.
Trail of Cthulhu and Fear Itself
Dulce et Decorum Est, adventures set in the Great War is out now and Soldiers of Pen and Ink and Mythos Expeditions will be on sale next month.
Dreamhounds is in art direction.
Seventh Circle, Matthew Sanderson’s creepy haunted house adventure for Fear Itself will on pre-order next month. It’s compatible with Trail of Cthulhu, too.
Esoterrorists, Ashen Stars and Night’s Black Agents
- Robin Laws has started work on Worldbreaker, a globe-trotting set of linked Esoterrorists adventures. It has a very gruesome and disturbing prologue and gets worse from there.
- Accretion Disk for Ashen Starts is being illustrated.
- Ken and Gar are working on Dracula Dossier and Unredacted Dracula for Night’s Black Agents for a Kickstarter later in the year. Ken discusses it here.
- John Adamus has submitted a Night’s Black Agents adventure, The Dubai Reckoning for playtesting.
- Steve Dempsey and Gareth Hanrahan have written convention adventures for all our GUMSHOE settings.
As summer envelopes us in its muggy embrace, I, the Enigmatic Icon, come to deliver you auspicious news. What’s that? No, I haven’t finally hunted down the interlopers to my island who stole the crown of golden vines from off my stony brow. Or gotten to the bottom of who’s been spreading rumors about my love life, but that’s a whole other deposit of igneous material, if you catch my drift. No, today I bring you tidings of my employer, Stone Skin Press–they have been busy since last time I checked in here.
- The “Stone Skin on the Rocks” column has proven popular, with new authors guest-blogging each week to recommend a particular beverage to pair with their fiction. The heat does make a person (or golem-like construct) thirsty:
- Ed Greenwood and Maurice Broaddus contributed drinks that were both a little sweet and a little sour for their column that paired drinks with stories from The New Hero Volume 1.
- Jesse Bullington talked rum, in particular it’s link to Vodou and his story in The New Hero Volume 2.
- Dmetri Kakmi took out the sour but kept the sweet for his story in The New Gothic.
- Finally, S.J. Chambers provided a suggestion that is every bit as terrifying as her story in the same anthology.
- Speaking of The New Gothic, our anthology of all things dark and creepy, the book continues to earn rave reviews:
- In a write-up at his blog, J.T. Glover says, in part, “If you like Gothic, if you like horror, or if you like the Weird, there’s something for you in this well-edited collection of stories. Kudos to the editor for putting together such a good book, and kudos to Stone Skin Press for making it an attractive book. So many paperbacks are cheaply made, and it’s a pleasure to hold something in your hand that feels durable, looks good, and will stand up to the rereading it deserve.”
- And over at Innsmouth Free Press, K.L. Pereira also gives it a glowing review, saying in part, “What marks this anthology as one to watch is indeed its focus on fear and how each plays with this and other very human emotions to highlight the concept of Gothic as pervasive, regardless of creepy mansion or madwoman in the attic.”
Cold drinks and hot reviews–it doesn’t get much better than that. We’ve got some brand new stuff coming out in the days to come, so be sure to follow our Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ pages for up to the minute updates, and of course there’s also the main Stone Skin site.
I’ll be back in August, and until then do as I do, and watch out for chisels.
Even as I write this, the indefatigable Chris Huth toils into the Canadian night, putting the finishing touches to The Book of Loot, our upcoming compendium of new magic items for 13th Age. The book’s crammed full of wonderful treasures and potent creations of sorcery, along with several items that we ourselves call out as utterly unforgivable puns.
Not every item written made it into the book for one reason or another. Some were cut for thematic reasons, others for balance. Here’s one that fell early on, on grounds of complexity. It’s an Epic-tier item associated primarily with the Emperor icon.
Chessboard of the Ages: There is no mistaking this item; the board of onyx and marble, and the gold and ruby playing pieces are described in songs and sagas from previous ages. However, the pieces are subtly different each time – the pawns change to resemble the allies and enemies of the chessboard’s bearer, while the features of the Icons of the Age appear on the other pieces.
When you first take possession of the chessboard, the GM gives the role of your opponent to some rival, ongoing villain or even an enemy Icon (GM: roll relationship dice if you want). Usually, it’s the Lich King or Orc Lord. You have the opening move. Once per battle, you may ‘move’ by activating one of the chess pieces as a free action. Each piece has a different ability. You may use each ability once per piece (so, you can use the pawn power eight times total in your life, most of the other powers twice ever, and the king and queen powers once each). A piece disappears when used.
Unlike most magic items, the chessboard doesn’t have a recharge value. Once you use a power, you can’t activate any of the chess pieces again until your opponent takes a move (or until your opponent voluntarily forfeits the chance to use a power – see the King, below, for why that might be a good option)
The powers possessed by the chess pieces are:
- Pawn: One nearby ally may take an extra standard action in their next turn or heal using a recovery as a free action.
- Rook: Cast teleport (as the wizard spell) to travel to any stronghold or flee from a battle without incurring a campaign loss
- Knight: Gain three paladin talents with all associated feats until the end of a battle or call a legendary hero to aid you for one battle
- Bishop: Cast any one Divine spell of up to ninth level or automatically succeed at any one skill check, no matter the difficulty
- Queen: Either copy the powers of any other chess piece remaining on your board (other than the king) or sacrifice the queen to remove any one piece possessed by your opponent, other than the king.
- King: You may only use the king’s power if you have at least twice as many pieces left as your opponent, and your opponent has suffered a significant defeat in the real world outside the chess game. When you use it, the chess game ends and the chessboard vanishes. However, your opponent is magically compelled to perform one task for you as a forfeit for losing the game. You may specify the task as you wish, and the opponent must obey.
Quirk: You share your opponent’s dreams while playing.
I may be mad – no, I am mad – but I can count. Eight pieces for good, eight for evil, that makes sixteen. But they say there are but thirteen Icons in the Empire. Who are the other three? Or do some play both sides, like the treacherous harlots they are?
- Erach, crazed preacher
13th Age answers the question, “What if Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, lead designers of the 3rd and 4th editions of the World’s Oldest RPG, had free rein to make the d20-rolling game they most wanted to play?” Create truly unique characters with rich backgrounds, prepare adventures in minutes, easily build your own custom monsters, and enjoy fast, freewheeling battles full of unexpected twists. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.
There’s big excitement this month with the release of the pre-order of 13 True Ways for 13th Age. The phone has never rang so much here in the office! After a long wait, the PDF is now available to pre-orderers on their order link, and it’s off to the printers, too. We’ve released a few 13th Age Core Rules Limited Editions. Read more here.
KWAS subscribers are in for a treat with two new giant editions on their order page, GUMSHOE Zoom Voodoo 2: The Invisibles, and also next month’s edition, Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk. This means that they’re now getting their subscription a month in advance – starting in July, subscribers will get the next month’s edition on the last working day of the previous month.
13th Age Resource page updates
See Page XX Poll
A German filmmaker has adopted a very special genre: The legendary Dreamlands stories of H.P. Lovecraft.
The crowdfunding campaign to finance Huan Vu’s new fantasy film started out with great success. Over 44,000€ were raised by IndieGoGo and crowdinvest in the first days. That beat even the expectations of the team. Filmfans can join the crowdfunding on IndieGoGo until 3rd August 2014, where they can get attractive rewards and will help Huan Vu’s vision come true.
“Lovecraft’s stories have influenced the work of many authors and filmmakers like the novels of Stephen King and David Lynch’s cult TV show Twin Peaks. But there are only a few films which base directly on Lovecraft’s work”, says director Huan Vu. The German filmmaker studied at the “Stuttgart Media University“ and has created „Die Farbe“, an award winning film based on Lovecraft’s story “The Colour Out Of Space”. “Die Farbe” was shot on a very tight budget. Vu’s new film will be a more elaborate production. The team wants to raise the needed €155,000 (about USD 211,000/ GBP 126,000) with crowdfunding. “The Dreamlands” is based on several Lovecraft stories, the “Dream Cycle”.
The film will be made with complex visual effects and will be shot in English. This creates an easier access to the international market and makes is possible to work with well-known actors.
“The funding of such a project is still a problem in Germany. Under normal circumstances, genre films like this are difficult to create within the German film industry”, explains Vu and adds: “The international Lovecraft Fandom gives us a good foundation from where we can build up our project.”
The needed money will be raised using two different crowdfunding systems. On the one hand the team uses the crowdfunding platform “IndieGoGo”, where backers will get rewards like T-shirts and the final film on DVD or Blu-ray. On the other hand there is an investment model where supporters can invest higher amounts, starting at €250.00 (about USD 340/GBP 203). At the end the investors will get a profit-sharing if the project is successful. The investment-model is made for people who would like to spend bigger amounts of money on “The Dreamlands”.
The author Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island where he also died in 1937. He is known as one of the most influencing authors in the fantasy- and horror-genre. His way to create tension by confronting his characters with unexplainable phenomena still gathers a huge fan-base. “I always had the feeling that those unique stories must be brought on the silver screen. So I decided to fulfil this dream with my effort for “The Dreamlands”, says Vu.
If the funding is successful the shooting for “The Dreamlands” will start in 2015.
“The Dreamlands” on IndieGoGo.
“The Dreamlands” on the web.
If you are interested any of these games, please email me with the game you wish to playtest in the subject line.
Your Dead Eyes My Mirror
System: Fear Itself
Author: Karl Vezina
Duration: Two sessions
Deadline: July 31st
Chicago, 1975. The age of the grindhouse in the decaying downtown. A group of friends attend a grindhouse showing of a controversial giallo on its closing night. A savage murder occurs during the showing, amid electrical disturbances and supernatural phenomena.
The following days bring fresh horror, as the patrons discover that they are trapped in a surreal world mirroring the horrific film they saw. And something in that surreal world is stalking them, something methodical and unrelenting. Something that makes them all watch while it kills them one by one. Can the patrons find a way to fight back before they fall victim to a faceless terror or go mad from the horrors they are forced to witness?
System: Esoterrorists 2nd Edition
Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
Duration: 1 session
Deadline: July 15th
An infamous Esoterrorist just got picked up by the police of a small town in the middle of nowhere. You’ve got to collect him and babysit him until the Ordo Veritatis can extract him for interrogation. You know that he’s part of a cell of dangerous, power-obsessed would-be sorcerers – can you keep your prisoner alive until tomorrow?
Truth & Reconciliation
System: Ashen Stars
Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
Duration: 1 session
Deadline: July 15th
Seven years ago, the Mohilar War ended. No-one can remember who the Mohilar were, or how they were defeated; the only testaments to their existence were the ravaged planets and shattered fleets left in their wake. The once-mighty Combine is still trying to pull itself out of the ashes. You’re Lasers – Licensed Autonomous Zone Effectuators, freelance police – and you’ve been hired to make sure that negotiations to rebuild the broken world of Demeter aren’t interrupted by local reactionaries and troublemakers. The war’s over; it’s time to build a new future.
This will be a short Pelgrane’s Nest – the fledgings are demanding fresh freelancer flesh (say that three times quickly!).
The 13th Age work flow is now established, with the Bestiary printed, 13 True Ways on preorder, and two others in layout. Ken Hite has written much more than we expected for his latest KWAS Voodoo 2 and done the same with Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk, so the subcription becomes even better value. The collection of Ken’s first 13 KWAS issues is available as a single download from the store.
More Content for Pelgrane Press – Project Shakespeare Monkeys
With magical PR chap Wade Rockett’s help, we’ve devised a social media calendar. We’ve been sticking to this schedule for a solid month now and it’s going well – from your perspective, is simply means regular articles from Robin, Ken, Gareth and the Fire Opalites which we then wrap up into Page XX for our monthly visitors. In particular, it means extra snippets of content from Robin to spice up your games, including the lines of ours which need more love such as Mutant City Blues and The Dying Earth.
The 13 True Ways print version is available for preorder – get the PDF download now. Kickstarter backers have their PDF already, and we’ll get you an update on the other Kickstarter goodies soon. I am particularly excited about the six new classes, and can’t wait to play the Occulist – unique in that if you play it – you are actually the only one in the entire world. I’ve scratched together some pages to create a sampler you can download here.
The 13th Age Bestiary is en route to our shipping points – those lucky Fire Opalites already have their copies. We’ve sent out the address change request to Bestiary customers, and I hope the Bestiaries will be shipping on Friday. Limited editions won’t be out for a while.
Chris Huth has moved from 13 True Ways layout to Shadows of Eldolan, and then The Book of Loot (you can see a sample of Loot here). We hope to have both of these at GenCon.
The Eyes of the Stone Thief is progressing – here is a sample of Herwin Wielink’s cartography.
Trail of Cthulhu
Soldiers of Pen and Ink now has cover art in the style of Spanish Civil War posters. It will be a 72-page mini-campaign available in print format.
Dulce et Decorum Est, our Great War collection has been printed and will ship to pre-orderers at the end of July.
Mythos Expeditions has been copy edited, and is waiting on layout.. Here is a double-page spread.
Ken Writes About Stuff Subscription
Ken has been rather over-excited in the past two or three months and has written much more more than he was supposed to for Voodoo 1, Voodoo 2 and Serpent Folk – the lastest releases of KWAS. For this reason, we have increased the cost of those individual episodes. However, the cost of the subscription will remain the same, at least for now – so it’s exceptional value. The more subscribers we have, the more all subscribers benefit with extra content at no extra charge – it’s like a Kickstarter in that respect. This month, subscribers are getting both Voodoo 2 and Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk on their order links so that they will now have a month in hand.
For those of you who missed out, the first year’s subscription is available as a single volume from the store.
Gar has mainly been working with Rob on polishing up The Book of Loot; he’s also produced a list of suggestions for Fear Itself 2nd Edition which will change it so it better suits the specific genres for which it is designed, with campaign frames for different styles of horror game.
The Gaean Reach and The Gaean Reach Gazetteer have been printed and will ship to pre-orderers at the end of July.
Better Know a Freelancer – Robin D Laws
Robin D Laws wrote The Dying Earth, the GUMSHOE system, the Gaean Reach and DramaSystem. He created The Birds comic strip writes fiction and critical analyis and has access to Canadian ice wine.
Robin D Laws. Say that name, savour it, then read on. Don’t say it three times while looking in a mirror though, unless you want a mildly irritated Canadian in your bathroom. (This also works for Rob Ford, but you have to use a horizontal mirror lined with white powder). Robin D Laws is a game design powerhouse. To use a coding reference, if Ken writes source code for GUMSHOE, then Robin wrote the GUMSHOE compiler – he’s that badass. He annoys a few people with his game design innovations, and “transforms the way I game” with a bunch of others. Eventually though, it’s like “I was doing that stuff all along.”
Who, though, is the fool? The game designer who annoys people, or the publisher who pays him to annoy them? (This probably sounds better in Latin).
Aside from the quality of his work, my experience working with him on The Dying Earth gave me falsely high expectations of professionalism in the industry. Well, thank you for that. As a Canadian, he is ideally suited to his role of official translator between American English and English.
We didn’t quite burn him out with Hillfolk, but he needed some time to refersh with other projects and publishers, though he still produced a 13th Age adventure and monthly Page XX columns for us. He did all of this whilst knocking out a second edition of Feng Shui with all the latest gaming technology and produces half of a droll and award-winning podcast Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, which is released on time with terrifying efficiency – all the more extraordinary considering his co-host.
Now Robin D Laws, with his “Robin’s Laws of Gaming” hat on has written Getting Started with Tabletop Roleplaying Games. Read a sample here. He is knee deep in the outer black at work on his Esoterrorists campaign which will be shattering your brain towards the end of the year. As I mentioned above you may also have also have noticed more articles on our website by Robin D Laws – each one a polished stone of inspiration your GUMSHOE games.
“Robin D Laws, Robin D Laws, Robin D Laws. Ah, there you are. You have my ice wine, I hope?”
A column on roleplaying
by Robin D. Laws
We all believe that players should have meaningful choices when running their characters through adventures, whether they’re published, prepared by the GM, or created on the fly. Although we decry gaming stories that can’t go in multiple directions, you often also hear GMs at troubleshooting panels wondering how to keep players “on track.”
Published and prepared adventures that do offer meaningful choices have to account in advance for the many directions a premise might develop in. In other words, they require the writer’s time, and the room in a published book’s page count, to create more material than will be realized at any single gaming table.
Even improvised branches have a cost, in the thought energy of the GM as she thinks up a response on the spot and wonders how that might impact all the other dominoes she and the group have set up so far.
To help us wrestle with the eternal tensions between GM-driven and player-driven narrative, let’s step back to categorize the various ways adventures branch.
Whenever a game’s rules get used to resolve something important, it can change the direction of the story. If the cleric gets wounded, you have to take him back to town. If you fail to protect the witness, you lose her testimony. This is the most common type of branching, and one often that takes care of itself—as long as the GM or adventure writer remember to give the characters chances to use their abilities. Choices grow from an interaction of the random (the die roll) and choices previously made by the players, when they created their characters or boosted them through experience. However because it doesn’t involve a player huddle it’s easy to leave it off the list of choices that pivot the story.
A blind choice is one in which the players get to decide the direction of the storyline but have little or no context for the decision.
The classic example here is the dungeon corridor with two doors, one leading to the left and the other to the right. The adventurers have no advance knowledge to base their decision on, and must choose arbitrarily.
A more GUMSHOE-y example occurs at the start of an investigation, when the team decides which of several promising leads to pursue first.
Though blind choices aren’t the richest possible branches, they do show the players that they control the story’s direction. They might allow interesting character moments—by wanting to talk to the ladies at the nursing home before the bikers, I reveal something about my Ordo Veritatis agent. And because the players have little to go on, they have less to discuss, making for a quick decision.
A false choice presents the group with an apparent branch that isn’t.
The classic false choice is the dungeon corridor with two doors, one of which leads to an empty expanse of trackless passageways; the other, to all the monsters and treasure and fun stuff. The fun stuff is behind whichever door the players choose. So if we, the players, pick the red door, we go through it and have our adventure, coming back later to peek through the blue door and discover that we picked the best one in the first place. But if we’d picked the blue one first, it would have been the fun one.
To coin a phrase, this is one of those techniques that works only if it works. Your players may be quite happy to savor the feeling of choice, without ever knowing that you steered them toward the only option you prepared for them.
This goes to one of the great conundrums of adventure design, the subjective way in which we experience choice. Players given no true decision-making power can feel that they had it, and players who had many sharply different choices can still leave with the impression that they were railroaded.
An informed choice is one in which the players have enough information to weigh the consequences of their decision.
In the door example, they might have been told that there are orcs behind the left door and mushroom people on the righ. They can then decide which type of monster they want to hit first.
An adventure can frame an informed choice as a trade-off, with pros and cons on each side.
If you decide to ally with the kch-thk, you’re choosing the superior fighting force, but can exert less control over their actions on the battlefield. If you pick the ragtag human colonists, you can rely on them to follow orders, even if they can’t muster the numbers or firepower the kch-thk would.
Informed choices give the players a high degree of control over the story’s direction. However, if they’re not tough choices, the GM or adventure are actually still nudging the story toward a predetermined path. And if they are tough choices, they’ll take a while to make. How much fun they really are depends heavily on how well the group makes complex decisions. Players who always butt heads with one another may prefer less narrative control, if it also means cutting down on the wrangling. Also, many people feel they face enough tough choices in real life and prefer their roleplaying narratives to present them with simple, comfortingly binary right-or-wrong answers.
Player-driven branches occur when the players create a choice point the GM or adventure writer did not anticipate.
Instead of picking the red door or the blue door, they don’t even go to the dungeon. Instead they decide to foment a gnome rebellion in the dwarven mine they pass on the way.
Instead of interviewing the witnesses the adventure mentions, they decide to go delving into a suspect’s banking records—a logical step the scenario doesn’t anticipate.
The fun value of a player-driven branch turns on how readily the GM can respond to it. In a crunchy combat-driven game, it might be hard to whip up stats for dwarven slavers and whip up a satisfying environment to stage the battle in. Simpler rules sets foster easier improv.
The more logical the players’ surprise choice, the less freeing it will feel to them. Of course any investigator would check the bank records first! What’s the big deal?
This might also be called a GM-facing choice. Sometimes you’ll find an element in an adventure where a die roll, hidden from the players, determines the direction of a story. A scenario that tells you that “There is a 40% chance that this room contains a ghost” is engaging in random branching. As is any mechanism that asks you to roll on a random table to see who the characters encounter, whether there are any cabs driving by, what businesses ply their trades on a particular street, or if the planet the spacefarers see on their viewscreens is habitable.
Players expecting to interact with a modeled world that isn’t set up to provide them with story opportunities may prefer lots of random branching.
In general though, if a choice falls in a forest and no one is around to perceive it, the objective of multiple possibilities, to give control the players, remains obscure.
To give freedom-seeking players influence over the scene, another choice type must be arise from the random roll. Once they’ve found that statistically generated habitable planet, they might then decide whether they should explore it themselves, or merely sell the coordinates to the big settlement company back on the homeworld.
Many thanks to our GM team and all the players who attended our games at Origins this year. We sold out of all of our games, and even squeezed in some walk-ups in the scheduled games. Kendall Jung did an amazing job of managing our play events at the show. Onward to Gen Con!
Free RPG Day
Make Your Own Luck, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s prequel to the upcoming Eyes of the Stone Thief campaign, is our contribution to this year’s Free RPG Day — you can get it on Saturday, June 21 at your nearest participating game retailer. We’ve heard that some stores are giving GMs their copies in advance so they can run the adventure on the day of release, so you might want to ring up your local store and see if they’ve scheduled a play event.
(Because some folks have asked: Free RPG Day is a retailer-sponsored event created to support game stores, so we’re not giving away PDF copies of the game.)
Make Your Own Luck: Live Play Crossover Event!
In much the same way that Nick Fury assembled the Avengers, for Free RPG Day we’ve assembled a team of players to play Make Your Own Luck via Google Hangout and Roll20 on Saturday, June 21st at 3:00 PM EST / noon Pacific:
Join us live on Aaron’s YouTube channel on Saturday, and watch the mayhem unfold.
Domain of the Dwarf King will go live soon. At Rob Heinsoo’s request it features a dwarf centipede. (I guess I know what Dutch horror movie Rob watched last night.)
Domain of the Dwarf King concludes the Orc War trilogy, and will see the final defeat of General Gul. Or not — that’s up to the adventurers.
The next big Organized Play installment after Domain of the Dwarf King is the first of our champion-tier games: Escape from the Diabolist’s Dungeon!
State of Play
We’e now up to 1186 GMs running Tales of the 13th Age worldwide, on every continent except Antarctica. If you know anybody in an Antarctic research station who wants a copy of 13th Age let us know!