18.) Sapen's Nose
Sapen Trache, the legendary astronomer, was as well known for his wisdom as for his garishness. He loved all manner of fashionable and attractive things. Once, during a duel with a young upstart and rival scientist, Trache lost the tip of his nose. Using his hobby of alchemy, he constructed a gilded brass prosthetic to replace it. So well as it made that it was said to blend into his skin perfectly. After his death, Sapen's gilded nose was taken by the coroner as a memorial token. Eventually the nose was sold to an amateur scientist and collector of curios. He modified the shape of the prosthetic to fit about his own nose. When he put it on, he was surprised to notice the clarity with which he saw the stars, as though he were looking through Sapen's own wise eyes.
Wearing Sapen's Nose allows the user to see perfectly all the stars in the sky, and even to know their names and paths. A night traveler will find himself able to navigate to practically any destination.
Rose - There are some whose hearts fight only out of love. Souls in true love who hold the quiver will turn the gem pink. These arrows are made from red maple and fletched with swan feathers which, when fired, will turn sharply toward the direction the archer's true love lies. Aquamarine - Some find that they have no home on dry land, but only in the great deep. Those old salts whose souls are only home at sea will turn the gem aquamarine. Arrows drawn from the quiver are carved from driftwood, fletched with large scales and tipped with shark's teeth. These arrows fire as easily beneath the waves as above; on land, one of these arrows that strikes the ground will produce a quart of sea water from the earth. Silver - Despite the turnings of the secular world, some a truly devoted to their deity above all else. Such devoted religious souls will turn the quiver's stone silver, and their arrows made of white oak are barbed with quicksilvered points. These arrows deal divine damage on striking. Go to Comment
Red - In a few hearts, there lurks nothing but the desire for vengeance. If a vengeful soul takes the quiver, the gem turns blood red. Arrows from the quiver will be made of red oak, their heads obsidian. The arrows will only strike those guilty of grievous sin, falling short of the innocent to leave them unharmed. Go to Comment
Heh, great! In spite of the silliness, I see this as a tool sought after by negotiators and royal messengers worldwide. Even if it isn't terribly intelligent, they could use it as a teacher to silver their own tongues. Go to Comment
An enchanted, foreign-looking cap of very fine quality, those who look upon it are entraced by its beauty. It is nearly identical to the famous Cap of Confusion, a powerful wizard's garment that allows the wearer to bewilder and frustrate her enemies. The Cap of Confounding, however, does not work in this way.
While wearing the Cap of Confounding, one will feel quite confident in their own abilites; however, most of their abilites are unchanged. There is one notable attribute that is altered: the wearer is rendered incapable of executing mathematics. They are completely unaware of this, of course, but others are bound to notice. The arithmetical trouble affects everything to do with numbers, from simple counting to quadratic equations. The Cap of Confounding and its errors were made famous when King Utar - well known for his fine taste in haberdashery - lead his troops in the Crusade of Thalbus. In giving orders for the artillery to fire, Utar was quoted as saying "Fire at my count! Ready? One, two, five!" Go to Comment
Hm. I feel like I've been told "This there's cool knife. You don't know how to use it, but if you did, it'd be awesome." Beyond that, I feel like I'm not given much beyond a name and some vague mention of wizards and elves.
What makes the knife so awkward? It sounds like just a basic fighting dirk. You've given some skeletal background info, but I'm craving more.
Don't get me wrong, Railus, you really are improving. You just need to work on fleshing out some of the more emaciated subs. Keep it up! Go to Comment
I ran into the same problem, trying to incorporate a whole setting into a few subs. A couple of suggestions there:
1. If all your subs come from the same game world/setting, link them together. Either freetext them or link to them in the sub. Either way, if you really want us to know all your subs are coming from 1 setting, tell us.
2. It can be hard selling a sub by itself if it's part of a setting. If possible, separate the sub from the setting. I originally intended my Tagma Drakontas to be part of a big, overarching setting. But, realizing I couldn't do that, I snipped the connections to the rest of my game world and made references that were vague, but didn't leave a lot wanting. In general, subs that stand on their own do better than those that are setting-specific. It just tends to make it easier for us to read.
3. If you do want to do a whole series on your game world, plan it out and give it to us in easy-to-swallow segments. Starting with the details of a particular weapon of a particular race might not be the best option. Maybe you want to tell us the major kingdoms and places in your setting first, then work your way down. This option requires *a lot* of planning, however, and you might want to start just by having free-standing subs. Go to Comment
It's a bit munchkiny to me, but the backstory is somewhat interesting. I'd like to know more about Cedit. Why'd he decide to make such a powerful whip? What's his motive? Not bad, though, overall. Go to Comment
First, I love the atmosphere of the temple. I get a very Half-Lifey kind of feel from it for some reason, and you've got some good descriptions in there.
While I understand you wanted to keep it somewhat vague for customization, the vagueness makes the whole sub feel sort of blank, like you started to create a beautiful painting but only sketched an outline. What really gives some of the great subs in Strolen's their "oompf" is the detail: whos, whys, wherefors, hows. So it's seems to be a temple that acted a place of worship and had some necromancy underground. Who was their god? Why the reanimation rooms? Why the traps for the penitents? We love hearing stories here, tell us yours.
Also, there's some detail that's lacking. For example, the artifact chamber:
"Here, anything of value was stored by the temple. Inside there is not much left, except a strange idol. The idol radiates evil.
Guarding this chamber is a Wight, tasked with destroying all who enter who do not speak a command word."
So the party goes into this chamber. What's it look like? How big is it? Then there's nothing left but an idol. What sort of idol? Is it gemmed, gilded, stone, wooden? How can I tell it's emanating evil? Then a wight shows up, apparently. What's the spoken word that it's listening for? What significance does the word have? These are details that really make or break a sub.
Overall, I really like the idea of the abandoned temple. But giving a skeleton of a temple dungeon just isn't quite what we're (or at least I'm) looking for. Detail-rich subs are best, IMHO.
I'll hold off voting for now in case you want to tweak it. I think it's really the start of a great sub. Go to Comment
You'll find no argument with me. I simply find my prose is inadequate to convey most of what I want to say.
I agree with you on more than you think. Certainly the best of fiction can completely engross a reader more than a mediocre RPG. And, at least from where I stand, the standard for what makes "decent" sci-fi/fantasy is lower than "decent" mainstream fiction (mainstream for lack of a better word) if the sci-fi/fantasy gives a fresh take on something.
And here you will find me lacking as a writer. I've neither great prose nor stunning ideas. If anything, my general modos operandi is to take things I've seen in history and translate them into a fantasy setting. Yes, that's what Tolkein did, God bless 'im, but I'm no Tolkein. And as a reader, I find myself preferring sci-fi/fiction that's well-written over that which explores unique ideas.
Exempli gratia: My favorite fantasy novel of all time is "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss. What I love about it, is that it excellently written. Does it have some unique ideas? Sure. There's naming magic (not brand new, but I like the take), there's a culture whose first language is signed (pretty cool, though actually not seen until the sequel), etc. But my favorite parts are the human ones, the ones that are just written spectacularly well.
I contrast "The Name of the Wind" with the Demon Cycle series by Peter V. Brett. It is full of rather unique ideas, a cosmology of demons, a unique rune-based magic system the likes of which I've not seen elsewhere, etc. etc. I read the first book, and I the ideas were enough to make me pick up the second. He's written two more I've not touched. Why? I find the writing to be mediocre at best. It's dull, it's repetitive, it's over dramatic. It's not interesting.
If I had my way, I would write like Rothfuss. But my skill is closer to a Brett. In short, when I say "I'm interested in making settings that one would want to *play* in, not just *read* about," I mean that I personally lack the skill to put my ideas into novel or story form. I write game things because I can do it well enough, and I do not write prose fiction because I cannot do it well. Go to Comment
Thanks for the analysis, axlerowes. Your deduction is correct: I'm first a writer, then a player, and last a GM - if at all.
So why write in this way? Several reasons. For one, note the headline in the browser: "Strolen's Citadel: A Role Playing Community." Most of the subs here are meant for game usage. There's a scant two pages in the "Articles - Fiction" section, and some of those aren't even prose. I try to write for the intended audience to some degree.
Another reason is, I consider gaming and game settings my favored medium. An analysis of my hard drive fill find many character sheets and setting ideas, and mere handful of attempted prose fiction. The Citadellian submission format is something I'm generally better at.
Reason the third: I wrote this for the "Five Room Dungeon" quest. This follows a fairly specific and linear format - I think you'll find most subs in that quest and with that freetext follow a similar outline. While aware that the GM must be prepared for many contingencies, I wrote this to fit the format while allowing some player selection.
In regards to the "GM VOICE," as you address it: You're right, this isn't exactly formatted to be dropped into a WotC book or anything. My syntax and tense are inconsistent in that way. I do try to write for multiple audiences, be they GM or player or just reader. I try not to pigeonhole the reader into thinking in a specific context, though it's geared broadly toward gaming.
On a tangential note, I know of two specific cases where this sub was used by GMs. One was Muro, as mentioned in his comment. The other was a fellow by the name of Ray who saw it in on Roleplaying Tips Weekly. He did as I anticipate Strolenites to do: adapt the dungeon to his own system and setting, adding and trimming where needed. Ray sent me the sheets he used, modified and including a few possible contingencies, maps, etc.; sadly I've lost the ZIP file in the years since, but he did keep the players more or less on the track I outlined above.
I do appreciate the viewpoints, axle. The devil always needs his advocate, and it does make one think. Go to Comment
Interactivity. If I wanted to write "standard fiction," it would be straight prose. Role-playing fiction is meant for a player/GM to use in their games. While one could certainly take standard fiction characters and drop them into a game, I'm interested in making settings that one would want to *play* in, not just *read* about. Go to Comment