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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!

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

 

Polaris the RPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“For centuries, wars and climatic catastrophes have ravaged the surface of the earth, making it uninhabitable by all but the mutated and monstrous. Humanity, searching for refuge, combs the world’s oceans and finds sanctuary…and more. Welcome to Polaris!”

– POLARIS, the RPG.

POLARIS is a French tabletop RPG, set in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi atmosphere, where survival is first and foremost. What attracted me was the sci-fi with a seasoning of horror and weirdness setting. Thanks to a very successful Kickstarter Campaign in early 2016, Black Book Editions are finally able to expand the product line and publish this game for the first time ever in an English language edition and now it has begun to wash up on our shores across the pond!

As you might have guessed from above description, the world of Polaris is a dark, cold, wet place. Mankind in its folly has rendered the surface of the earth uninhabitable, and even with the help of some ominous benefactors known as The Geneticians, they fled beneath the waves to survive in any way possible. However Mankind’s baser instincts gets the best of them and before long, war and bloodshed begin to stain the seas as red as the toxic surface! New factions rise and new grudges evolve as the water becomes spotted with the blood of both the innocent and the guilty. Unknown centuries of squabbling ensue ever diminishing resources, and it seems the end is nigh until a phenomenon known as The Polaris Effect instills select individuals with powers that science cannot adequately define or explain.

There is zero question that Polaris is gorgeous. The layout and art are a testament to the care and craftsmanship the good people at Black Box Editions bring to the table. The world map is beautiful and very impressive – something big happened to the Earth’s surface, and sizable chunks of the surface are completely submerged. There’s an ocean through the middle of North America and Australia both, Greenland’s heart is submerged, and much of South America is gone. It’ll be very interesting to see if we get to find out what the heck happened to the world, or if it’ll be a mystery of the ages…

The default game setting takes place after all of this has transpired and more, The Geneticians are in hiding…or gone. The great city of Equinox is the oceans last best hope for peace…or disaster as it is the hub of all the political powers and controlled by the powers who wield the Polaris effect!

In this post-apocalyptic sci-fi atmosphere, where survival is key the Player Characters can take the role of the usual post-apocalyptic types: mercenaries, soldiers, doctors, as well as devotees of The Cult of Trident, whose members tend to be proficient in the manipulation of The Polaris Effect to create amazing feats. The group can encounter as much or as little political and cold war intrigue since there are a several major powers settled about the globe, as well as groups can either align themselves with one of the smaller geographically locked factions or open the engines up and  travel The Seven Seas in search of adventure. But beware for under the sea man isn’t the only thing that lurks beneath the surface as it is so not safe to go back in the water as mysterious monsters, mutants and nature await the adventurous and foolhardy.

One thing I could so see one of our groups doing is use something like Mutant Year Zero’s Ark rules to build the groups own community under the sea and doing missions to help the community as a whole to grow and evolve.      

Here is a quick over view of the books and items out as of this post, don’t worry I will so do more detailed and visual reviews over the next few months as all of these products are all beautifully illustrated and laid out, and that includes the PDFs

Quickstart/adventure on Drive Thru RPG

 Now to be honest this is an abridged version of the adventure in Core Rulebook 1 and the Pre gen Characters are great and its FREE on DriveThruRPG.Com!

Polaris the RPG – Quick Start #1 Universe

A great and free teaser to the Polaris setting

Polaris Core Rulebook 1

Fiction, World Setting with a ton of plot hooks, Character creation, and Rules!     

Polaris Core Rulebook 2

Mystery, Underwater combat and Vehicles, Mermaids (Not those kind!) and other sea creatures, Tech and most importantly fixing gear, and ‘Advanced Rules’!

Together both rulebooks do come with a lovely cardstock ‘Slipcase’ to keep them both safely in. Between the two you have everything your need to play the Polaris RPG! Together over 500 pages of full cover loveliness!

Equinox setting book

Another lovely hardcover book weighing in at 48 pages, that goes further into the equally mysterious and majestic city of Equinox. This neutral Freeport of a floating city in the sea is home to the ‘Cult of the Trident’ the systems mysterious users of the Polaris Effect! It does a good job of giving a ton of good plot hooks as well as including the adventure “Industrial Espionage”.

 

Polaris Character File

 I LOVE these for you Polaris players! This 16-page full color Character folio have EVERYTHING a player needs to play including rules and charts from Core Book 1! Just check out the publisher’s description:

 

A gaming aid for all Players of Polaris RPG! It introduces in a few pages the world and timeline of the game, and describes the major factions and the most important nations of the Deep. The helpful summary of Character Creation and basic Combat Rules helps players and GM’s alike speed up the gameplay! 

On the 8 pages dedicated entirely to your Character’s abilities and equipment as well as your progression you get plenty of space to detail your Adventurer!

The woodfree paper lets you write and erase on the pages!  This booklet is aimed at Polaris RPG players, supplied in packs of five Character Files, shrink wrapped together to accommodate a whole gaming table. 

16 pages, softcover, woodfree paper, full-color  • Map of the World of the Deep  • Character Creation Summary  • 8 page character sheet  • Essential Rules Reminder 

 

Location Map Foli

I’ve only seen digital copies of these but wow they are beautiful!

This pack contains 16 different location maps where underwater adventurers are likely to roam! Each map exists in a version with full captions, and a spoiler free plain version so players can discover it during gameplay. 

The locations included in this pack:

  • Equinox: Level 1
  • Vessek Rental Hangar
  • Bar
  • Hotel
  • Vessel Assembly Yard
  • Cabaret
  • Combat Arena
  • Prison
  • Mining Zone
  • Experimental Hydro-Farm
  • Secret Laboratory
  • Isolated Station
  • Network of Infested Tunnels
  • Surface Bunker
  • Light Frigate Class
  • Unknown Ship Wreck

 Polaris RPG: Dice Set 

Style up your game with a set of these Polaris dice! Contains 7 dice (3d6, 3d10, 1xd20)

 Check out their awesome website HERE!

Polaris RPG nominated for 4 ENnies in 2017!

As more detailed reviews come outI will link them here, plus see our earlier Summer one shot article HERE.

-Jim 

Sunday Night Scoundrels Episode Six: In roads under a Black Sun

Join us as we play Fantasy Flights Edge of Empire – Star Wars

The Scoundrels are really starting to gear up after our second session (unrecorded but well be drop lots of what happened during the game)
Lady Satori continues using the crew of the Disruptor!
Join our Crew as they Take off for some work on a Shadow Port that their new black Sun ‘Contact’ has given them.

-The real gaming starts at the 12 minute mark.

 

‘Don’t touch my gun’

 “We’re delivering groceries?”

“Do you guys know what a gravity well is?”

“I succeeded”

“Are these the purple dice your looking for?”

“I AM USEFUL, WATCH ME!”

“Triumph!”

“You had you chance…”

“….this guys trying to play games with us…”

“This is why gun are DEADLY!”

 

Please support our show at  patreon.com/cppn

Adventure outlines and design!

Adventure!

We all have lots of great and creative ideas and one of the hardest things is organizing them, try using this outline to help craft an encounter, adventure or even a campaign story.

It isn’t the solution to making every tale under Paylor, but it should help you, create a proactive narrative and a set up for a satisfying conclusion. Even if your group wanders away from the track, you’ll have a head start in crafting a compelling story!

What’s the issue?

It can be any thing, from crazy cults to mundane invaders! If you’re having problems being inspired that day, just choose a real problem in your life or something from history. The only caveat is that if you choose something trivial, you are setting yourself up to have to work hard to make it meaningful to the players, and if you choose something daunting, you could bog the players down as they struggle to find a solution. Look for a significant problem that can be solved by at least one of the players specialties, in one scene. But you can make anything work.

For Example

  1. The purple dragons egg is missing.
  2. Orc are rampaging across the land.
  3. The fields have been cursed.

Create the Non-Player Characters Who Have The Problem

Keep it simple. This is an adventure; there isn’t going be time to describe their middle name or family line anyway – unless those things are relevant to the problem you created. Just give yourself a few basic aspects to get into the mindset. The rest can develop as you go, or better yet as the players throw out comments!

For Example

  1. A young street rat
  2. A grandmother in the woods
  3. A gender-ambiguous child in danger

Be sure and Describe Why the Problem Matters to the Player Characters

The more important the problem is to the player characters, the more important it becomes to the story an the role playing! Come up with a solid reason why these people care; this has to go double if your problem is trivial. Raise the stakes until it has emotional impact with the players.

For Example

  1. The man the group slayed earlier bought a purple dragon egg, but he never sold it dying before finding a buyer for it. Now the egg begins to hatch in the heroes home town.
  2. Long ago, the grandmother of the player tells a story of how as a young child her younger brother disappeared after similar orcs raided. Tonight, her young grandchildren are visiting.
  3. The child has a secret urban garden that supplies a rare medicine. Unless the plants are pollinated soon, half a dozen people living in squalor – and close personal friends to the group – will die.

Separate the wheat from the chaff

When you’re finished brain storming, look over your choices and descriptions to decide if your problem is still the same as it began. In my missing dragon egg example, the added meaning has revealed the actual problem of the story: the group slayed an evil doer, releasing a complication (a classic story tool used in sequels!). I’ll need to describe why the killings will tie in with the dead villain. The other problems could also be redefined at this stage.

Bring Light to an Obstacle That Holds Them Back

Think ahead to how your PC’s could and should solve the problem. Then decide what is in their way and preventing them from getting to the finish line. What will they struggle against during the Adventure? You definitely want a character-focused story, as they are the stars of your show! This is where you introduce your players to their character arc; just make their first obstacle a personality flaw.

Be Sure to Offer One to Three Attempts to Solve the Problem

I say “attempts” because your PC’s must and will fail here and their and then face the consequences for that failure. Its ok as this builds the fun and excitement and should ramp up the suspense. Perhaps the hero runs down the clock on fruitless measures or causes more damage or consequence. After every attempt, they should be worse off than when they started.

But there’s hope! Give each failed attempt a small step toward the solution. Make sure, as the popular term goes, that the set back lets the Adventure “Fail Forward” It might be a clue, a tool, or a piece of advice that will help your character. That doesn’t mean they’ll recognize it right away. In fact, it’s better if they don’t and one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given is when things slow down: “Someone Kicks in the door and roll initiative!”

Create a Critical Turning Point “What a Twist!”

Now the helpful hints finally click together for the Adventure’s. They have a stunning realization, a clever idea, a fruitful roll of a skill or finally understand a piece of wisdom. This gives them their first opportunity to solve the problem.

If you’re planning an unhappy ending, the Adventure’s realization may be false, out of date or incomplete. Perhaps the hero latches on to the wrong solution to their problem. Regardless, at this point your Players must feel that success is possible.

Show What Happens Next

You’ve brought your Adventure and PC’s to a critical turning point. Now they’ll make a choice that determines their success, and together you’ll narrate the results. Whatever happens, their situation must change.

Go far enough with your narration that your Player’s know what’s coming next. The details might be different, but the direction is clear. This is the big wrap up point, success or failure the Adventure should be forever changed and effects will ripple along the game world. Yes, please make sure your Players feel those ripples wither its free drinks at the Tavern, NPC’s calling them out as heroes or failures and reminders a few adventures down the line.

 

I hope this helps even if just a little in your Adventure designing and all you plot lines get played with glee or an evil glint in your eye!

😀

-Jim

Galaxy at war: Precious Cargo – Chapter Eighteen The Padawans are on a roll

Our Force and Destiny game set in the Clone wars era!
Join us as the Astromech John Tomes, and the Younglings: Balin (Dan), Yalka’von (JJ), Darla (Duncan), and Ted’Na-ugent (Chris) head off into the pirate ship and save their captured Adults!
“You can make an Aim maneuver twice”
“Blowing you both up!”
“If people would write in Common”
“Their cutting us to ribbons”
“Wooah, and were moaning?”
“Don’t do it Dan he’s a Bitc….!”
“Despair is just Story!”
“Tommy’s Back!”
“And that’s why I ran to the grown ups!”
“The Story must be told!”
*NSFM*

Unboxing my Savage Rifts Kickstarter package!

I’m super excited to receive my Kickstarter backer kit! But why the face lift for RIfts from the Palladium system?

“Over 25 years after its original release, Rifts® continues to inspire players around the world with its gonzo, big-guns-and-super-magic world of adventure. Savage Worlds is a game system dedicated to infinite potential combined with ease of play.

Unifying the two means bringing the magic and mayhem of Rifts® to countless new players, as well as calling out to original fans with a new avenue to dive back into this famous world.”

Now we’ve loved the Savage Worlds game system since they picked up Dead Lands and we played the heck out of that!(Though it was before we did the little podcast thing.)

Now onto what we got:

www.kickstarter.com/projects/545820095/rifts-for-savage-worlds

Everything GM:
-The Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide in PDF and Limited Edition hardcover
-Game Master’s Handbook in PDF and Limited Edition hardcover
-Savage Foes of North America in PDF and Limited Edition hardcover
-GM Screen and Garnet Town Gambit adventure in PDF and print
-Poster Map: North America + Castle Refuge in PDF and print
-Combat Map 1: Rift + Ley Line in PDF and print
-Combat Map 2: Portal + Nexus Point in PDF and print
-Savage Rifts Dice Set
-Savage Rifts Bennies
-Savage Rifts T shirt
-Savage Rifts Messenger Bag
…and all digital and physical stretch goal items.
Listen to our Rifts gameplay at https://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.podbean.com/category/rifts/
And don’t forget that you need Savage Worlds as well!

Thanks for reading guys, and I can’t wait to share our game play!

-Jim

My top five picks for beginners to RPG’s

Hey guys Jim here from creative playing podcast network I’ve got a great tip for this weeks blog. Our top five games that I would get for a new gamer in your household.

All right so for this post well be under the pretense of this is for someone who pretty much wants to get into role-playing games but hasn’t played much, so here goes:

Number Five: Dungeon World!

 

The last few years have seen a lot of new ideas and awesome game  mechanics come into the RPG world, and Dungeon World is a prime example of this rebirth. Dungeon World is the answer to the age old question, “What if D&D were an Indie RPG?” and it does a great job of establishing itself. It is the fantasy setting version of the game Apocalypse World, but Dungeon World draws nicely from two of my favorite games like FATE (for rules and heart) and Dungeons & Dragons (for feels and soul).

One reason its on this list is for new players and GM’s, there is a focus on rules that influence the story in a meta capacity or mechanics let you control the narrative in a more abstract way than D&D does. Dungeon World brings a lot of ideas the rules of Dungeon World are shaped around a very specific old-school play style but use modern rules and game design that has the advantage of being very easy homebrew rules to add in your own elements.

Dungeon World is built to introduce people easily to the D&D-style gaming experience. There is a strong emphasis on the 1980s, 4X style of D&D play (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate) and rules exist for setting camp, keeping henchmen in line, exploring, etc. Dungeon World breaks what seems to be a cardinal Indie RPG rule design by keeping races and classes from D&D, which does a lot to help it keep its essential flavor.

As a GM I love one of the base ideas of the game: “Running a game shouldn’t be a pain. Dungeon World gives the GM all the tools to run a game quickly and easily. Fronts help you keep the world around the players living and evolving. Moves are ways to drive your game forward. And your Agenda keeps you on track.” -Dungeon World

Number Four: Star Wars Force and Destiny RPG Beginner Game 

The Star Wars: Force and Destiny Beginner Game by Fantasy Flight Games is a complete and excellent stand alone introduction to roleplaying in the Star Wars universe! Force and Destiny is the third installment in Fantasy Flights series of Star Wars roleplaying games and yes you’ll be hearing more about the others below on this list. Whether you are new to roleplaying or just new to Force and Destiny, the Beginner Game is a great starting point.

The starter set contains everything you need to learn and play the game. the 4 per-generated characters are amazingly put together in the style Fantasy Flight are now known for! 

what you get:

1 adventure book
1 rulebook
1 introduction sheet
1 map double sided
4 pre-generated characters
14 custom dice (not as scary as they look to learn)
8 destiny tokens
55 character tokens

… and if you go to the Fantasy Flight website you are able to download additional characters and an additional adventure, how’s that for boom for your buck!

Personally the only reason this isn’t higher ranked is learning to use force powers has a bit of a learning curve unlike the other two Fantasy Fight beginner boxes that ranked better.

 

Number Three: Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set: Fantasy Roleplaying Game Starter Set

 

Number Three is near and dear to my heart since it was the start of our podcast DND Journey of the fifth edition

Ideal for a group of 4 – 6, What you get:

the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set includes a 64-page adventure book with everything the Dungeon Master needs to get started a 32-page rulebook for playing characters level 1 – 5 , 5 pre-generated characters, each with a character sheet and supporting reference material and classic 6 dice.

This Starter box is the bench mark of RPG’s for the fifth edition they did a great job on an adventure that takes the group to three different major locals and 5 levels so you will definitely get a ton of play out of this box as opposed to the 1-2 session boxes from most other companies. the Pre-gen characters are expertly put together explaining the new game mechanic introduced in fifth edition “inspiration system” and they lay out leveling up so its fast and smooth. Buy this set and you wont be disappointed!

 

Number Two: Star Wars RPG: Age of Rebellion Beginner Game                                                    


Can you say Rogue One!

yep classic Star Wars fighting the good fight against the empire! Or like we’ve modified it on our Star Wars Podcast games you can play it Empire vs rebels or clone war era.

The starter set contains everything you need to learn and play the game. the 4 per-generated characters are amazingly put together in the style Fantasy Flight are now known for! 

what you get:

1 adventure book
1 rulebook
1 introduction sheet
1 map (double sided)
4 pre-generated characters (with two more downloadable online)
14 custom dice (not as scary as they look to learn)
8 destiny tokens
55 character tokens

… and if you go to the Fantasy Flight website you are able to download additional characters and an additional adventure, how’s that for boom for your buck!

I’m a huge fan of the Fantasy Flight Dice system and their beautifully put together starter sets, character sheets that are god looking and super helpful with charts, suggestions and all a player needs in one folio!

and this leads me to…

Number One: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game 

OK so my number one is the Edge of the Empire Beginner Game! This is a great starter game I personally have to say everyone who plays the beginner game box has loved to have loved it! The  characters are set up is such a way anyone can pick it up and game!so that way anyone can learn to play fantasy flights edge for GM’s within 30 minutes of opening the box your ready to confidently GM! Now pick it up and get your Crew away from Teemo the Hutt!

Here’s our play through and review from two years ago:

http://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.podbean.com/e/edge-of-empire-starter-set-real-play-and-review-pt-1/

 

do you have some games you’d like added to this list?

-Jim

 

Why I love the Podcast Games!

The other day I was asked why I love gaming and podcasting those games so much and I had to take a second and think about that. I’ve had a long, long, life long enjoyment of games going back to some of my earliest memories of gaming with my Aunt and her husband in insanely long Monopoly sessions. It was never who won or lost but how we enjoyed the company and stories and comradery of the times. Thankfully that style of game enjoyment followed me as I grew older and started playing more than Chess and other milton bradley games. Then one faithful day I saw the AD&D GM’s Guide cover and fell in love with D&D consuming all I could about it and the books (Mind you Fantasy choose your own adventure books and Comics were how my parents snuck reading into my life before this time), and novels of Fantasy adventure and monster slaying.

To make a long story short flash forward a hand full of years and I was regularly running Teenage mutant ninja turtles, Rifts, Robotech and still D&D games and loving the story writing, pacing adventures and surprise encounters all the while loving to GM and occasionall getting to play!

Than fast forward again a pair of decades and I noticed something, our gaming groups had of course morphed, evolved, and changed due to adult duties and needs but even with old friends who didn’t game any more we could sit and talk about those AMAZING adventures of yesteryear! It was at this point now married and tied up in work, chores, to do list and trying to fill in a active gaming life (Thank you Honey for being a Gamer!) We noticed the hard long  gaps in gaming and at the end of a game session  we all would hurry and be whipping out phones and calenders looking for the next free day to game. I had been a long time lover of Podcasts on iTunes, so I decided to podcast our games from then on because of nothing else than to let us keep track of where we left off as well as we could listen to those epic moments where some amazing speech or snide remark was tossed out at the spur of the moment, or as I like to call it the ’magic of immersion in the now’. That feeling where your totally in sync with your character and your not playing them but being guided by what you just know to be true there character and when at that level of game enjoyment things just happen and hours fly by and you are left gasping at the amazing story you all just completed together. That magic is why I love to podcast so we can relisten, share and talk about it and if lucky get to relive it a little each time we revisit it. One thing I know that surprised us all was how much our listeners enjoy the shows and that’s added to us wanting to add little things like NPC stories and behind the scene moments that are a blast to write and record! So to sum it up I love to set up story frameworks with twists and turns and varied ending and getting to share them with those who enjoy similar things =D

 

Thanks for reading this!

-Jim

What do you guys think?

Savage Rifts!

And you thought Rifts Earth was a savage place to live before!!!

I’m super excited to see how Rifts plays out in the Savage Worlds system. Just to take a second and date myself, I was in High school as Rifts was rolling out in the 90’s and dove greedily into a worlds were dragons and power armored warriors clashed and rediscovered magic are being used and new forms of Techno-wizards appear (Mind you those Leather fighter pilot goggle wearing magic item makers were one of the early Steampunk character types I’d ever seen in a game not D&D at the time and I always loved playing them!!!). Rifts was a huge game world that has grown more and more over the decades with multiple book shelves of mine filled with world books that just add so much more to the setting and Character options.

Rifts® for Savage Worlds

 

I know there are a lot of voices that see the game mechanic as a negative when reviewing the system as a hole and the MDC system as being past its time. Others I know love the system. Personally I know it does slow the game momentum down and causes TPK’s or issues balancing groups but a good GM will talk with his players on what should and shouldn’t be used in the game (Nothing worse than being a glitter boy pilot stuck without your suit in a city storyline).

But back on point here, The Rifts IP from Palladium books is getting a refreshing face list, same old world but with some new faces, Character creation and System mechanics. Next Saturday I’ll be At Isle of Games getting my first taste of the game with the Savage Worlds system and I really looking forward to it!!!

Along with getting a sneak peak of the books that will be coming out I already backed the new Kickstarter for the book, which by the way hit their goal in the first TWO MINUTES of launching!

 

I of course jumped in after the first day so a TON of limited edition things had been scooped up already but I’m pledged on the “Everything GM level” so you’ll definitely be seeing some reviews and showcasing of the products here, on the podcast and on our YouTube channel At this point they’ve unlocked over 24 Stretch goals and the number keep raising!

rif

I hope if you get a chance you can check out the Kickstarter and show it a little love.

 

 

-Jim

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