Summertime is upon us, and that always means a big shake up for the Library Game. Half the regulars are out with travel and summertime activities. New player pop in, unburdened by homework and band practice. In the past, this has been mildly disruptive of the campaign storyline, but not this year. Which tells me it’s a perfect time to switch things up a bit. So this year…
We’re going to build an adventure!
Each game session, we are going to set aside an hour to collaborate on a dungeon adventure. Each time we will touch on a different aspect of design: brainstorming, mapping, NPC creation, stocking the encounters, you name it. In the end, we will have a perfectly serviceable dungeon/wilderness or even an urban adventure to thrill and amaze! Last monday, we brainstormed our concept. Here are the results:
Which loosely translates to:
Beneath the ruins of an old desert town, a sand dragon commands a legion of mummies to protect her horde. Her greatest prize is a priceless jewel, the magical embodiment of an ancient prophecy that makes her invulnerable and increases her necromantic powers. In the ruins above, a band of outlaws, led by her mate, a dragon in human form, carry out her demands for tribute among the communities that border her territory. The ruins are protected by a violent sandstorm that forms a protective wall.
But the dragon isn’t the only one who covets the gem. To a tribe of savage minotaurs, the gem represents a key to their ancestry. They constantly monitor the sandstorm, waiting for an opening they can exploit to take back what they feel is theirs by right.
Elsewhere, a powerful wizard employs a cunning ruse to recruit adventurers and the fool-hearty to journey into the heart of the maelstrom to wrest control of the gem for his own fell purposes.
Our next game session is Monday, June 20 when we will start tackling the maps.
When I told our friends at Triple Ace Games that we were going to use All for One: Regime Diabolique for our next library rolelplaying game, they loved it! So much so that they really want to give one of you a copy of their newest hardcover book for the game, Paris Gothique. This book explores the dark side of Paris in 1636, the primary setting for All for One.
And so, on August 29th, we will be hosting a special contest. We want every one of you to create a person, place, or thing that can be found in the 1636 Paris. Whether it is a famous swordmaker known throughout Europe for his fabulous blades, a villanous secret society that plots against the throne, or a safehouse where all manner of secrets can be exchanged, we want you to create the Paris of our game. Everything you create (within reason) will go into the setting, and will be a person your characters may encounter (and perhaps even make a contact or patron of) or a place or landmark they can visit.
From all of your entries, we will choose three winners. The grand prize winner will receive an autographed copy of Paris Gothique.
The entire August 29th game session will be devoted to creating your entry. It must be at least one paragraph and must fit the setting. You can collaborate on ideas as a group, but no “group entries” will be accepted (we only get one copy of the book, after all). All entries are due at the end of the game that night.
Download Example Entries
After much deliberation (and not a little holiday delay), we’d like to announce the winners of our Encounter Design Contest for 2010.
First, I’d like to thank all our judges: Joe Cox, Alex Smith, and previous Adventure Design Contest winner, Sam E!
Of the three entries we received, all had a great deal of potential and different strengths. One offered a great moral quandary that could be explored by the players. Another tailored its challenges to the group and the strengths/weaknesses of the individual players (as well as devising a full on rosetta stone code). The third really made us wonder what goes on in the nightmares of kids today.
Because each entry was built around such a great concept, it was tough to choose a real winner. But someone must win. So we decided a tie for second place was appropriate! And so, without further adieu, I give you our winners:
2nd place (tie): Alison (for her riddles and puzzles) and Heather (for her goddess-against-her-will)
1st place: Kate (for her temple of the cat spirits).
Really, it could have gone either way. It was the eerie, Children of the Damned atmosphere that would have made Stephen King smile that put Kate over the top. We would love to play at a table under any one of these great scenarios. And so we will, as Kate will be running her scenario for the group on January 17th!
All our winners will receive a copy of the Savage Worlds Explorers Edition. Our second place winners will receive a Borders gift card while our first place winner will receive a special Hellfrost package donated by our great friends at Triple Ace Games! Thanks to Wiggy, Dave and the boys for their generosity! Be sure to visit their website and check out the great worlds they’ve conjured up.
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.
You can find a list of basic traps in the Warlords of Aros Bestiary.
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!
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
Warlords of Aros Bestiary (includes traps, treasure and relics information)
Zin Marshes Bestiary (includes over 30 new monsters!)