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D&D Journey of the fifth edition: Season 2 Chapter 55 Time to take action and move!

It is so good to finally be back and gaming! Were all set for more D&D into the new year.

Join Kellie (Sister Solace), Kerrie (Tallyn), Jocelyn (Reona O’Tuck),  Brittany (Tarc), Jess (Hugh Mann) Jaaz (Kriv) Evie the Good reaver and myself as we play through D&D Princes of the Apocalypse adventure module:

Abolish an Ancient Evil Threatening Devastation in this Adventure for the World s Greatest Roleplaying Game Called by the Elder Elemental Eye to serve, four corrupt prophets have risen from the depths of anonymity to claim mighty weapons with direct links to the power of the elemental princes

By the way I’m gauging interest if anyone would like to play on Roll20 Tomb of Annihilation or the Starter set? I’m thinking of branching out to more online games.

Evie is doing great on her first day in the world of D&D!

 

“Do you want to be next to him?”

“It’s not just a bowl…”

“I’m not happy either!”

“My cool goo on Sister…”

Check out our review on Blades in the Dark at http://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.com/cutting-shadows-blades-dark-rpg-review/

See more at http://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.com/

Our other podcast https://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.podbean.com/

And please listen and support us at https://www.patreon.com/cppn

How to write a Noir Adventure

Whatever kind of reading genre you like best I know you can find your match in a good noir detective novel. A great stories with complex plots? Noir. Hilarious humor, albeit of a generally dark variety? Noir. Unforgettable characters? Noir. Breathless action? Noir again. It is a great article to follow my Blades in the Dark review.

When you write a noir style mystery adventure, you and your players are entering into a world of smooth talking gumshoes, two-timing dames, shadows and hazy lights. This isn’t just detective fiction. As a noir writer, you are focusing on the criminal in a concise tale that follows the character’s descent into potential self-destruction.

Keep it simple by maintaining focus on plot and mood

Much like Noir stories and novels keep the Adventure in a concise, a raw style that does not involve a great deal of explaining or wordiness. Describe stark and barren landscapes, empty cities at night, or decrepit warehouses as backdrops for the story. Tell the players enough to know where they are, but be spare with the language.

 

You sly dog, you got me monologuing…

Noir fiction Non-Player characters don’t tend to have much emotional depth. They scheme, they strategize, but they aren’t blabbermouths. Keep it simple, and focus on plot (and the twists), mood and colorfully pithy dialogue.

 

Remember who the Stars are!

The players are the Star of the Game but as a Game Master you need to remember it’s conceivable that a noir adventure can have a detective as the main character, but noir fiction tends to revolve around the criminal. It can be a man or a woman, but traditional noir style in my opinion, there absolutely must be a femme fatale! In literary circles debates have raged about whether this archetype is sexist or a sign of admiration of strong females, but whatever the case, noir adventures need a tough-talking and unforgettable woman! If your a lucky GM like me it can be your players but if not you need to add one.

 

Player motivation

Show us what drives the Player Characters. What has brought him or her to this desperate point? What drives her to a life a crime? Noir stories portray a criminal who is seeking one last chance at something big wither it’s a heist, a scam or a murder. Just remember most  noir protagonist are  no heroes. They are driven by revenge, greed, lust or all of the above and they cross a moral line to get what they want. In fact, there are no heroes here and the only way is down. They look for answers in the bottom of a bottle of whisky and ask questions with a gun. However, we do empathize with our anti-hero and we want him or her to win, even though it won’t get them anywhere. Give your PC’s a glimmer of hope that they will succeed, this is what keeps them going and keeps the players hoping along with them, only to have it torn away at the end.

 

You who reside in the Shadows

Noir fiction gets its name from a style of cinema created by European directors fleeing from WWII. They brought German expressionism to American cinema. Mostly including extreme camera angles and dramatic high-contrast lighting, which helps to cast angular shadows to great cinematic effect. Hence, film noir is associated with the night, when the streetlights reflect on rain-slicked streets and the underworld comes out to play. However, movies like Chinatown and Brick are both noir that bathe their characters in California sunshine for most of the film, but still hit the beats we expect from the genre. Your players don’t have to be creatures of the night, but it helps for adding atmosphere and the mood of the adventure. Don’t think of shadows, dark cities and smoke-filled rooms as clichés. In noir, they are necessary.

 

The Mystery

As I’ve already said, you don’t need to have a private eye or a world-weary police officer investigating a murder, but these staples still work as an easy way to insert a mystery as the adventures catalyst. Classic noir usually starts with a corpse, often a dames or at the very least a missing person, but the development of neo-noir of RPG’s offers Game Masters a wider scope to play with. The mystery can be less about a straight murder investigation and more about preventing a prophecy or just a mind wiped amnesiac trying to piece together their fractured history. The beauty of the nihilistic nature of the noir hero means they probably killed someone at some point and might have to investigate a case who they know who did it but need to hide the evidence, it’s the journey that adds the mystery and leads to darker nihilistic feel.

 

 

…and someone kicks in the door!

More so in Noir than any other genre can you pull two of my favorite tricks to keep a adventure plotting along, as soon as the players get bogged down in over analysis or low energy happens, Bam! Someone kicks in the door or throws something through the window! Violence is an essential part of the noir tradition. It’s symbolic reflection of the darkness of the world made tangible. The players will get a crack on the back of the head with the butt of a gun or wake up with a broken nose and tied to a chair. There are bodies to be buried, illuminated by the car headlights and the bad guys will catch up with the protagonist and give them a beating. Make sure your players will trust you its all for the fiction. That’s just the way it is because life is shitty and noir is telling us how it really is.

 

 

No Winners only losers

Honestly talk to your players before you take this into your games but, much like in the old days of Vampire the Masquerade in a Noir adventure their are no happy endings. I hope I mentioned the part about leaving hope at the door? Noir is the boulevard of broken dreams and noses, so don’t expect to let your players get the gal or guy and skip off into the sunset. That’s not going to be how it plays out in noir. Your lead may die, either literally, mentally or spiritually. Maybe they lose everything like family, job, and/or their grip on sanity. Or maybe they just lose the object of their desire which could be money, revenge, or fame. Whatever happens, make sure the players are no further ahead by the end of the adventure. So great job guys you solved the mystery, but it turns out the girl of their dreams killed that guy or they still lost all the cash and they’ve got to leave town. No happy sunsets, no sweet kisses and definitely no wedding bells! This is a noir adventure, not a Jane Austen novel!

 

Notable Noir fiction for inspiration:

Dennis Lehane’s A Drink before the War, a brilliant debut introduces private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, hired by three politicians to retrieve some dirty photos.

Anything by Raymond Chandler read The Big Sleep and Lady In the Lake. Chandler is an artist of the hardboiled quip, complex plots and sparkling prose.

Dashiell Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon! still one of my favorite characters ever, Sam Spade was also the blueprint for Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, starting a tradition of cynical detectives that survives today in books like The Dresden Files.

Jim Butcher, Speaking of the Dresden Files! Both the 14+ novels and the famed RPG are good reads!

James Ellroy created The Black Dahlia. Ellroy is great on handling the flavor of west coast L.A. noir, mixing social commentary in with death and darkness.

Stieg Larsson’s   The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, this amazing series starts with Larsson’s first novel that is a combination brilliant locked-room mystery, a study of an entire society, and classic noir premise all in one.

When writing this I was as suggested to mention Patricia Highsmith, who wrote the inspiration for famous films, The Talented Mr Ripley and Strangers on a Train.

 

 

Notable TV and Movie Noir:

The Various Batman franchises, believe it or not Batman fills a lot of the Noir criteria and is a good reference for Noir,.

The Maltese Falcon, the very first one you need to see!

Sin City, if you’ve seen it need I say more.

Brick is a neo-noir set in a modern American high school and does it so stylishly. It’s an homage to film noir without being overplayed.

The Postman Always Rings Twice (either version)

The Big Sleep has everything you’d expect from film noir and is a classic for great reason.

Dark City is a Noe-Noir Sci Fi twist that shows the best of the Genre.

 

This was a great articleto write and to lead up to next weeks. Our review of City of Mist, a noir RPG of modern-day legends by Amít Moshe!

D&D Journey of the fifth edition: Season 2 Chapter 54 I don’t know if I’m ok with this?

It is so good to finally be back and gaming! Were all set for more D&D into the new year.

Join Kellie (Sister Solace), Kerrie (Tallyn), Jocelyn (Reona O’Tuck),  Brittany (Tarc), Jess (Hugh Mann) Jaaz (Kriv) Evie the Good reaver and myself as we play through D&D Princes of the Apocalypse adventure module:

Abolish an Ancient Evil Threatening Devastation in this Adventure for the World s Greatest Roleplaying Game Called by the Elder Elemental Eye to serve, four corrupt prophets have risen from the depths of anonymity to claim mighty weapons with direct links to the power of the elemental princes

By the way I’m gauging interest if anyone would like to play on Roll20 Tomb of Annihilation or the Starter set? I’m thinking of branching out to more online games.

Welcome our friend Evie and her first D&D experiance!

“Sir, Master….Daddy?”

“What is the plan…”

“I didn’t even get a chance to hurt him!”

“…Sobek!”

“…Their not dogs!”

“How many of us can cast sleep?”

About half way through we take a break and geek out on Flash Gordan and things…

Britney’s not so good Hero forge review is after the closing along with 3d printer talk

Check out our review on Blades in the Dark at http://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.com/cutting-shadows-blades-dark-rpg-review/

See more at http://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.com/

Our other podcast https://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.podbean.com/

And please listen and support us at https://www.patreon.com/cppn

Cutting through the shadows (Blades in the Dark RPG review)

Blades in the Dark is a new Genre Blending narrative Tabletop RPG designed by John Harper (also creator of Lady Blackbird) and published by one.Seven design in early this 2017, following his very successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2015. Currently materials and game aides  are being published by Evil Hat Productions. Blades is a game of desperate criminals meeking by in an industrial almost steampunk  dystopia, taking heavy inspiration from TV shows like Peaky Blinders, video games like Dishonored, movies like Gangs of New York and novels like The Gentlemen Bastards. Players take on the roles of a criminal crew trying to survive on the streets of Duskwall as they are squeezed between  the law and rival criminals on all sides as they attempt to build a place for their ‘Crew’.

The main setting in a fictional post-apocalypse, gaslight fantasy London-Venice-Prague mashup called Doskvol. The world essentially ended long ago with the destruction of the gates of death, with the land masses breaking apart to form the massive island nations of the Shattered Isles. No one has seen the sun clearly in ages. The dead never seem to find rest. The seas are a black ink full of horrors but the blood of those horrors is needed to power massive lightning barriers around cities that try to keep out the dead.

The game’s mechanics are deeply rooted in Apocalypse World, but in a completely unique and original system. It puts a heavy emphasis on fiction-first gameplay which I enjoy but also makes sure to sport a high level of crunch. How well does that combination work? I can tell you it makes for one smooth Criminal!

Character Generation

Blades in the Dark pulls a high class heist in regards to character creation! They use a style that as a Game Master I like more and more as more games are now utilizing Player Character Playbooks. Once a player picks their class, nearly everything they need to know is right there on the Class Playbook sheets. Every skill in the game is on the sheet, as well as all their special abilities. This speeds up the Character creation process considerably and makes everyone’s life easier.

The Class Playbooks much like in Mutant Year Zero provides a good balance between structured career and free-form character creation. Each class defines what special abilities a character has and what they have access to. Players are then given skill points to customize and flush out their characters. One player’s ‘Cutter’ might be a smooth talker as well as the classes default fighting skills, while another player’s ‘Cutter’ has the special ability to fight ghost with his bare hands! The game gives players just enough points to make very playable characters, and rules on how those points can be spent prevent the risk of super-specialized Min-Maxed PCs who can only do one thing, which is a good thing when your a prowling the streets up to no good!

There’s no HP’s on this street!

Blades in the Dark doesn’t use traditional Hit Points. Instead it uses Stress and Harm. Stress is both the game’s meta currency and a major consequence of any failed or partial success rolls. Player Characters give themselves stress to get extra dice or to help out their friends, and they gain stress when they choose resisting taking harm. Players must play a dangerous balancing act, deciding if they should just accept the broken leg or risk the stress needed to avoid it. The broken leg comes with some serious penalties, but getting too much stress can take the character out of the action completely.

This resource-management angle adds a great tactical element to play, making sure the more mechanically oriented players always have something to do. It also shows that a character is deeply affected by their experiences. Plus there’s a FLASH BACK Mechanic that uses stress but more on that later.

Now Stress is a pain to clear but, Between heists, Characters have an opportunity to reduce their stress by indulging in vices. These vices are your characters favorite indulgences and run the gamut from traditional favorites like Alcohol or drugs to truly bizarre options like locking oneself in a room and staring at a creepy alter for a few days straight. Whatever your vice, just like in real life, indulging in it carries a few dangers. A Character might overindulge or get pinched by the Bluecoats. There’s even a chance that the character could go on a multi-week-long bender, and their player will need a backup character for the next game session. But this is a great opportunity to add another proper villain to the crew! Characters that ignore their vices accumulate more and more stress until they are in real trouble and can suffer truly traumatic consequences. It’s both great to roleplay and offers a meta level of play.

And Now its time for a Flashback…

Actually this is the coolest rule in the game and one that should be used in so many other RPGS! The Flashback Rules Are Fun! Blades in the Dark really discourages players from planning, or over planning their scores ahead of time. Instead, the GM is supposed to start things off when the Player Characters run into their first obstacle in the heist: a locked window, a Bluecoat walking the beat, an angry ghost, etc. The group then deal with each obstacle as it arises, and they can add planning via flashback typical of heist shows like Leverage and oceans eleven.

For example: If the group encounters a locked cellar door, one of them can say “Ahhhh, but I got the key for this door before we went on the mission.” Then they’d narrate how they stole the key, made a wax impression and filed a copy… but they need get the GM’s approval, and roll to see if they were successful.

The flashbacks are a blast to use, no question about it. They make the score feel like a classic heist like Ocean’s movies and since each flashback can cost stress depending on complexity, they add to the stress management system as well. Players must decide if an obstacle is difficult enough to justify a flashback or if they’ll deal with it in the here and now.

The rules say that flashbacks can’t override anything that’s already been established in the group narrative especially if they fail their roll in a flashback. If they take an injury as a result, the GM and Player should reflect it that  they were hiding that they had the injury or consequence the whole time. GM’s this is a time to be really creative!

In practice I’ve seen flashbacks can be frustrating to players who enjoy planning out every detail of a score and I know those players! Those players can end up feeling like they’re being charged stress for something they would have taken care of ahead of time if the rules had let them. But honestly after a few game sessions they will love the idea of planning for flash backs, or even suggesting them to there fellow villains! Flashbacks are a ton of fun, especially the get out of cliff hanger situations!

Now lets talk the Dice!

Now is the part of the system I’m not a huge fan of but success and failure and degrees of success have to be rolled some how…

It has all the problems of the system used for Masks and Dungeon World, Players roll a number of d6 equal to the skill they’re using, with a few opportunities for extra dice. The only die that matters is the single highest one. If it’s a six, that’s a complete success. If it’s a 4-5, that’s a partial success. A 1-3 is a failure.

Once players get a hefty 4 to 5 dice pool. Which for the most part they can not do in character creation, unless they try really hard and set their minds to it. Their chances of total success exceed 50%. Blades adds two mechanics to effect every roll. The first is position, the worse a character’s situation is, the bigger their penalties for failure, and the second is effect, a general measure of how much impact their roll has on the narrative.

I like this as these two mechanics mean every roll has a bunch of possible outcomes, now there are no solid guidelines for deciding which outcome to choose but this is something I like as it leaves the options in the GM’s hands so it can mean a partial success and the PC suffers a wound, or it can mean a complication occurs, their effect is reduced, and their position is worsened. It’s entirely at the GM’s discretion which is great! This allows more difficult tasks to carry greater risks, but only in what happens if the character fails. A six is still always a success and two sixes is a critical success!

Like other loose game mechanics I feel many a new GM may feel Effect will be difficult to manage as it’s not always clear what extra or reduced effect can do. As advice to fellow GM’s just relax and flow with the narrative and just roll with it as there are multiple factors to consider when deciding if a character’s abilities will grant them extra effect. Until you dive in and just play with it and I’m sure you and the Players will find your stride and have fun. The whole system is a bit complex an not what I call a starter level RPG.

Finally a proper bunch of villains…

To be honest the game takes the stance and flavor that the group will pick their ‘Crews’ theme and almost all will be villains or Anti heroes with options like Assassins, Cult, Smugglers and Bravos to name a few that will lead you into wielding blades in the dark, see where I went there 😉

Now in normal RPGs it can be a struggle to keep the party from dipping into dark and heinous behavior, Blades in the Dark is the exact opposite in theme, feel and gameplay. It encourages the PCs to be proper villains. This has a good chance to end up with a group that’s less like the characters of Assassin creed syndicate, Taboo or Gentlemen Bastards and more like a group of serial killers but then they will pay for it in generating to much ‘Heat’, a metric  sort of like Grand thief auto and hitting 5 stars.

Not all groups will succumb to the dark side (or they cover their tracks well), and not all GMs will have issue with dancing in the dark streets and allies, but be warned if you’re considering this game and don’t want to run the Evil League of Evil, spend some time thinking of a premise that will give your group more noble ambitions and goals. The PCs could be part of a revolutionary movement, good lost  religion or a bunch of Robin Hoods, so long as it provides some pushback against the worst of the streets.

Blades in the Dark has so much going for it and so much a ton of game testing put into it and I adore it,  meaning I recommend it a lot. The faction rules are amazing and worth reading even if you never plan to run the game but can be used in other games to breath new life into them. GMs who can tap dance around the dice mechanic can have a lot of fun with the game and rolls. Players will enjoy their abundance of success, but eventually it can get boring if your GM doesn’t use all his tools. The game makes it difficult to provide effective opposition as it’s normally just players rolling to act,  attack or defend. Please as a GM insure that your players meet effective opposition or the game might not be very interesting. It puts a heavy emphasis on fiction-first gameplay but also has a high level of crunch. How well does that combination work? Let’s find out!

Click the Picture above for the Amazon link, you can also find the downloadable tool at evilhat.com and DrivethruRPG

Check out the maps here: https://www.evilhat.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/blades_sheets_v8_1_Doksvol_Maps.pdf

 

D&D Journey of the fifth edition: Season 2 Chapter 53 The Newest Acolyte

It is so good to finally be back and gaming! Were all set for more D&D into the new year.

Join Kellie (Sister Solace), Kerrie (Tallyn), Jocelyn (Reona O’Tuck),  Brittany (Stranger #1- the Pirate Barbarian Half Orc), Jess (Hugh Mann) Jaaz (Kriv) and myself as we play through D&D Princes of the Apocalypse adventure module:
Abolish an Ancient Evil Threatening Devastation in this Adventure for the World s Greatest Roleplaying Game Called by the Elder Elemental Eye to serve, four corrupt prophets have risen from the depths of anonymity to claim mighty weapons with direct links to the power of the elemental princes

By the way I’m gauging interest if anyone would like to play on Roll20 Tomb of Annihilation or the Starter set? I’m thinking of branching out to more online games.

 

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Check out our review on Blades in the Dark at http://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.com/cutting-shadows-blades-dark-rpg-review/

See more at http://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.com/

Our other podcast https://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.podbean.com/

And please listen and support us at https://www.patreon.com/cppn

 

 

TusCon 2017: How to create compelling characters panel

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https://www.tusconscificon.com/

It’s great to have a killer plot and a well designed world, but your readers are going to spend a lot of time with these people, how do you make them worth it?

Join these great panelists is the discussion of how to create compelling characters Participants: 

Ron Collins http://amzn.to/2B0VCIJ

 

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Erika Lewis http://amzn.to/2hNhXoE

 

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H Paul Honsinger http://amzn.to/2zSLxzq

 

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Jill Knowles http://amzn.to/2z1IAJJ

 

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 David Van Dyke http://amzn.to/2B1TS25

 

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TUCSON COMIC CON 2017 Epic Sci-Fi and Fantasy Worlds panel

Every movie, television, game and book franchise is built upon the creation of a fictional world. Join our panelists: KJ Kabza, Kathryn Lance, Janni Lee Simner, & Natalie Wright the Moderator as they discuss how the success of a franchise often depends on how richly the world is imagined. Join in as they talk about your favorite fantasy worlds such as Harry Potter, the Marvel Universe, Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time, Fallout 4, Dragon Age and others that exemplify the rich world-building that we love in our favorite sci-fi and fantasy franchises. The authors on the panel also share tips in how they create their own fictional worlds.

 

KJ Kabza http://amzn.to/2hCQB0v 

Kathryn Lance  http://amzn.to/2B4lxzd

Janni Lee Simner  http://amzn.to/2B3xGEF

Natalie Wright http://amzn.to/2B5pEeH

 

See more at http://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.com/

Our other podcast https://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.podbean.com/

And please listen and support us at https://www.patreon.com/cppn

TUCSON COMIC CON 2017 Mastering Dungeon Mastering

At Tucson Comic con we were treated to another great and informative panel by Brandish Gilhelm

*Adult language and possibly NSFW*

Join Hankerin Ferinale for a mind-melting dose of creative superfuel for YOUR tabletop game, and how to take it to the next level. All the tricks and techniques from YouTube’s cybernetic mutant!

Runehammergames.com

His Amazon Author link http://amzn.to/2yC7iUH

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15044998.Brandish_Gilhelm

 

See more at http://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.com/

Our other podcast https://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.podbean.com/

And please listen and support us at https://www.patreon.com/cppn

Tucson Comic Con 2017 Write YOUR Best Selling RPG panel

We were treated to a great and informative panel on writing you RPG by Brandish Gilhelm, and we all know each GM out there honestly has an RPG or three they would love to publish!

Brandish Gilhelm is a Dungeonmaster, artist and writer from the Seattle area. A lifelong teller of fantasy epics, in the last two years he has gained a following of like-minded heroes-to-be via ‘Drunkens & Dragons’ on YouTube, and through books and game products like ‘The Daring and the Doomed,’ ‘Index Card RPG,’ and other tabletop products at Runehammergames.com

 

His Amazon Author link http://amzn.to/2yC7iUH

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15044998.Brandish_Gilhelm

 

RPGaDAY 2017 August 29 What was the best-run RPG crowdfunding campaign you have backed?

All the Awesome Games! Scion, Savage Rifts, Shadowrun, 7th Seas!

#RPGaDAY2017 is here! Let’s share and celebrate our awesome hobby!

See more at http://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.com/

Our other podcast https://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.podbean.com/

And please listen and support us at https://www.patreon.com/cppn

 

What was the best-run RPG crowdfunding campaign you have backed?

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