Archive for November, 2010

The Gates of Leoss

For a century, the Empire of Aros has maintained control of the Western Marches through strict disciplined military control. But as the empire begins to fracture, the cracks of discord begin to show themselves. The heroes have traveled the hard, dusty road to Leoss, the empire’s largest stronghold in the Western Marches. But will they find the answers they seek, or will martial intrigue and gang violence keep them from their task?

Join us for Warlords of Aros,
Monday, November 15th, 6 pm at the Lewisville Public Library.

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Encounter Design 101: Traps!

In the movies, traps are big dramatic sequences that bring the hero within a hare’s breath of certain death, only to be escaped at the last minute by a quick wit or sheer luck. In RPGs, traps are most often an obstacle that cost the heroes resources they would rather spend elsewhere (bennies, wounds, fatigue, or sometimes equipment!).

When you include a trap in the encounter, you need to consider a couple of things. Is it the focus of the encounter, or is it an additional obstacle? How easy is it to circumvent or disarm? How dangerous is it?

If the trap is the focus of the encounter, it should be dangerous, complex, and bedeviling. It can have multiple parts. Consider the trapped corridor from the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Rolling bolder, poison darts, spiked pit, and spear trap all work together to create a very tense scene. These traps are sometimes what are called “deathtraps” and involve sharks with laser beams or at the very least, irritable mutant sea bass. They are usually there to protect something very important (Raiders) or are designed to kill those who displease the villanous creator (James Bond).

If the trap is an obstacle, it is something that must be avoided as part of a larger encounter. Fighting a monster that can jump doesn’t seem like a big deal, until you add a bunch of pits and give the monster the ability to push a character into one. Or maybe its some magical beam that every round zaps someone in the room? Sure it might zap your monster, but maybe the monster is tough enough to resist the damage, or there are just so many monsters you can afford to lose a few. Either way, the trap needs to be a threat.

The best traps are either those the players don’t see coming, or those that work together to be a real thorn in their side. They shouldn’t kill outright, but they should require some work or sacrifice on the part of the players to avoid.

Discuss.

You can find a list of basic traps in the Warlords of Aros Bestiary.


Encounter Design Contest

Remember, all encounter design contest entries are due Monday, November 15, at the Warlords of Aros game. If you haven’t already started, this weekend would be a good time to get your entry written up! If you need help, this post has all the rules for the contest, as well as plenty of examples, tips, and documents to help you out. We’re going to choose three prize winners from all the entries we receive, and we have some really cool prizes lined up!

We’re really excited to see what you create, so get to it!


The Gates of Leoss

For a century, the Empire of Aros has maintained control of the Western Marches through strict disciplined military control. But as the empire begins to fracture, the cracks of discord begin to show themselves. The heroes have traveled the hard, dusty road to Leoss, the empire’s largest stronghold in the Western Marches. But will they find the answers they seek, or will martial intrigue and gang violence keep them from their task?

Join us for Warlords of Aros,
Monday, November 15th, 6 pm at the Lewisville Public Library.


Encounter Design Contest

You all had so much fun with Joe’s Reverse Dungeon that it got me to thinking that maybe it’s time to let you off the leash again and see what kind of creativity springs up.  In the past, we’ve tried full on adventure design. But while everyone seems excited about this at first, we always end up with a mere handful of submissions. Not at all confidence inspiring.  So, I thought, maybe its time to scale things down a bit.  And so we present to you:

A good encounter should set the scene and present a clear challenge for the players.  It should be flexible, allowing plenty of options for the heroes and the antagonists.  Things need not be all they seem; the most memorable encounters have a twist of some sort that provides an additional challenge for the heroes.  This could be the environment itself, or some sort of obstacle the heroes must navigate to succeed.

A great example of this is towards the end of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  Indiana Jones finds himself caught mid-way across a flimsy rope bridge spanning a deep chasm, the bottom of which is filled with man eating crocodiles.  On either side of the bridge are Thugee cultists.  Hopelessly outnumbered and cut off, the hero must use his wits to defeat his opponents, for resorting to fighting will surely lead to his doom!

The objective of the contest is to create a single “encounter” to challenge the heroes of the Warlords of Aros game.  This encounter should involve contact with an antagonist (either a monster or some other form of antagonist), a trap, a puzzle, or some combination these elements.  It should also offer a reward of some sort for the group.  All statistics and game related details are expected to be presented in standard Savage Worlds format.

Your entry should provide enough instruction for someone else to manage the encounter in game.  You can contain as much material as you would like (maps, pictures and illustrations), but it should be at least one-page in length (about 250 words).  To create your entry, you may use any of the adversaries or traps presented in Warlords of Aros Bestiary, or one of your own design.  Be as creative as you’d like!  Likewise, you may use the treasure tables in the bestiary to determine the rewards for the encounter or create your own.  The Zin Marshes Bestiary is also available for your use.  You can also use any monster from the Savage Worlds rulebook, or on the Savage Worlds Creature Database.

To help give you a push in the right direction, we’re providing two examples so you can see exactly what a planned encounter looks like and how you might design one of your own.  There is no right or wrong way to design an encounter, and both of these examples are very different in a lot of ways:

Sample Encounter #1: A pretty basic set up with the monsters luring the heroes into an ambush.

Sample Encounter #2: A much more ambitious encounter where the heroes must make real choices that can have far reaching consequences.

Your contest entry can be as basic as the first, as complex as the second, or anywhere in between.  BE CREATIVE! We want to see what you come up with!

All entries are due at the Warlords of Aros game session on Monday, November 15th.  Entries may be handwritten (LEGIBLY!) or typed (preferably) and may be submitted in hard copy or email.  Maps should have some indication of scale, and ideally will be done on a grid (graph paper).

Three entries of those received will be chosen as the best, and prizes awarded for first, second and third place.  The winner of the first place entry will have a game session to run his or her encounter for the group!  Don’t worry, Tom and Joe will be on hand to help out.

If you have any questions, post them in the comments field or on our Facebook page.

ESSENTIAL DOWNLOADS AND LINKS


Sample Encounter #1

Sample Encounter #2

Warlords of Aros Bestiary (includes traps, treasure and relics information)

Zin Marshes Bestiary (includes over 30 new monsters!)

Savage Worlds Creature Database