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The Barrows of the Forest Lords
Dungeons  (Forest/ Jungle)   (Puzzles)
RGTraynor's comment on 2011-04-02 04:28 AM
What's "unrealistic" about haunted burial mounds? It's not only a staple of tabletop gaming, it's a staple of Earth's own mythology.

Are they stupendous challenges? No, they're not. Are all such challenges required to be, and do we presuppose every party taking one on is a veteran one?

Do they involve dozens of intricate rooms and chambers with zillions of fiendish traps and dozens of awesome creatures? No, they don't, but - after all - we're talking realism here, and there's not a lot that's ever been put to paper in RPG-land less realistic than "dungeons" ... quite aside from the difficulty in statting one out without reference to system mechanics.

Would a series of tombs in the middle of nowhere that was looted, and its undead destroyed, cease to be relevant to the campaign? I would imagine so, except in so far as future explorers were archaeologists; I don't much feel the need to recycle old plots, or press the reset button and hope I get a 100% turnover in players so that I can. Would that be "unrealistic?" No more so than Karnak, the Pyramids, Angkor Wat or Petra are "unrealistic" because they're ancient ruins of mystery which were looted over the years. Go to Comment
The Barrows of the Forest Lords
Dungeons  (Forest/ Jungle)   (Puzzles)
RGTraynor's comment on 2011-04-03 09:41 AM
That presumes that "improvement" = "conforming to your prejudices."

For one thing, I don't think that "straightforward" is a bad thing. Something that, IMHO, has badly marred this hobby is the notion that there has to be an arms race between GMs and players - problems have to be ever-more baroque and convoluted, and players aren't rewarded for good or clever plans so much as they are for guessing the precise answers the GM had previously in mind. There's a lot to be said for problems with logical solutions.

For another thing, this is already a highly cooperative hobby, and the overwhelming majority of adventures emphasizes it already. Indeed, this encounter strips the players away from their guaranteed collective support network and forces them to solve the problems individually, of their own resources, without advice from others. I don't think that's a bad thing either.

Spicing up? Of course I could have written three times as many words to say pretty much the same thing. However, I have my own preferences for how much flavor text I'm going to shove down players' throats. There's a point where "evocative" seques into "boring" and "repetitive," and I seek to err on the former side, short of the point where eyes start to roll, players start to sigh, and attention begins to drift to the laptops. Go to Comment
The Barrows of the Forest Lords
Dungeons  (Forest/ Jungle)   (Puzzles)
RGTraynor's comment on 2011-04-04 03:06 AM
Perhaps you do, and that's fine - you can submit what you please for the reasons which suit you, and no one can say boo to that. For my part, I've mined Strolen's heavily for ideas and stuff for my game. Putting up subs is my way of giving back. No one ought to say boo to me for *that*.

"Perfect?" No, I never said anything of the sort, and I'm quite capable of choosing my own words without someone putting them into my mouth. But my subs ARE designed the way I wanted them to be designed, have the amount of challenge I prefer, target the archetypes I want targeted and have the amount of flavor text I find suitable. Those who share my preferences are welcome to steal my stuff. Those who want to rewrite my stuff to suit their own preferences, they're welcome too - heck, I do that enough for things I clip from this site.

But telling me, repeatedly yet, that I ought to write my material to suit someone else's preferences? A bunch of game companies have paid me to do exactly that over the years; that's about the only way I'm going to do that. Go to Comment
The Barrows of the Forest Lords
Dungeons  (Forest/ Jungle)   (Puzzles)
RGTraynor's comment on 2011-05-24 03:09 AM
Indeed I did; this is slightly spruced up from the original adventure I put people through. My players handled it just fine, and have no particular beef with such challenges.

Following your comment to Dossta above, you're absolutely right: the surviving baby proved the toughest challenge of all. The character in question proclaimed his intent to keep the baby, adopted him when they got back to civilization ... and then promptly checked out, preferring to keep his city focus on his social climbing and his aristocratic mistress. Happily, the party leader has a strong maternal instinct and cared for the boy, and took him with her when she became pregnant herself and relocated to the elven empire. It broke her heart to hear the now-toddler plaintively ask where his papa was and why he never wrote ("Is it because I'm bad, Auntie 'Laina?"), and she adopted him herself.

The child is now nearly six, and a good, sweet lad, but heck ... he's a creation of the freaking God of Pain, he sees and speaks to disembodied spirits, and the grownups are worried as all get out as to what he might become when he grows up. Go to Comment
The Standard
Items  (Other)   (Heroic)
RGTraynor's comment on 2011-03-30 07:57 AM
Update: Mm, should have mentioned in the first place that the banners bear no emblem beyond the phoenix sigils capping the flagpoles ... Go to Comment
The Standard
Items  (Other)   (Heroic)
RGTraynor's comment on 2012-10-13 05:00 AM
Huh. That's not a half-bad notion, and one I never thought of. Come to that, never mind all of them ... what happens if you put ANY of them in close proximity? Should Avanar and Vallia go to open war again, that might put as many as four Standards on the same battlefield (Avanar's third Standard is a thousand miles from the Vallian border, and the other two known Standards are several hundreds of miles apart as well.)

Beyond that, the Vallian-Avanari border's been the world's most contested for centuries now, and a lot of the same battles are fought over the same plains they've been fought over for generations. Who's to say that the burial mounds over there don't contain a forgotten Standard, which will have that synergistic effect on/with the others? Go to Comment
The Standard
Items  (Other)   (Heroic)
RGTraynor's comment on 2012-10-13 05:03 AM
You assume correctly; they work just fine no matter where as long as they're unfurled and there's a wind.

The problem with keeping them on palaces, though, is that they defeat *friendly* magic as well. Go to Comment
The Mel Victus
Lifeforms  (Flora)   (Forest/ Jungle)
RGTraynor's comment on 2011-04-02 04:56 AM


Not bad, but if this is the version that's AFTER spelling and grammar errors were corrected, I'd hate to have parsed through the original!



I'd give this a higher vote if not for that and a couple other problems.  "They ask the party for help in defending their children against such a horrible fate."  What horrible fate is that?  Heck, if I was the headman of a small village in that situation, my answer would be something along the lines of "You know something, greedy ruling lord, come in and TAKE the damn plant.  You can't really take it out of the village anyway, but you're welcome to try.  Bring your wizards and alchemists along and have them check it out ... you don't have to take our word for squat."


Go to Comment
The Tree of Bone
Lifeforms  (Unique)   (Mountains)
RGTraynor's comment on 2011-04-02 04:47 AM


It's absolutely evocative prose, and were I to read it in a fiction work, it'd fit magnificently.  It's just a bit much for the exigencies of a tabletop gaming campaign, where the amount of storytelling and flavor text with which you can batter the players is limited.  There's a lot a GM has to invent here: what are the powers of the Tree?  Is it a deity in of itself, a servitor/avatar of one, or simply an uber-Undead?  Is there a nation near to hand or claiming this territory?  What are these minions the Emperor has?  Who are the cultists that serve/oppose him? I'd be happy to see more of these particulars fleshed out. 



The flavor text doesn't say, and I'd wager the average player would raise eyebrows at several pages worth of it that boiled down to "Evil last emperor of destroyed empire / nasty undead tree / and here's the location."

Go to Comment
30 Bardic Tales
Items  (Art and Music)   (Non-Magical)
RGTraynor's comment on 2012-02-16 01:20 AM


A sound idea, and the selection and explanation of the songs comprise a good, representative range of the genre.  Like EchoMirage, though, I have a hard time figuring out how many the excerpted lyrics could possibly scan (except for a couple of the jocular lyrics, where strict scansion and meter aren't needful), and artistically they're comparatively pedestrian.  I empathize with the effort; having been a lyricist and poet for decades, it's not always easy to churn out quality lyrics on demand, but the lack keeps the sub from top marks.


Go to Comment
Lantern of Flameless Light
Items  (Equipment Listing)   (Magical)
RGTraynor's comment on 2011-04-13 04:04 AM


Heh, I like this.  I have a "Something Weird" vendor in my gameworld who peddles offbeat things from time to time ... this sounds like something he'd sell.


Go to Comment
Ride My See-Saw
Plots  (Crisis)   (Single-Storyline)
RGTraynor's comment on 2010-07-13 07:35 AM
This follows Steve Darlington’s excellent format for designing adventures: take an evocative song you like and use it as your inspiration. For the ones I’m posting here, I use Moody Blues’ songs; this one is Ride My See-Saw. The adventure was written for my Firefly campaign, but it works in any SF campaign. Unlike a number other of these plots, it’s not as adaptable to other milieus, but were I to do so, I’d make it an invasion plot: the orcs/Apaches/NVA are coming with an unstoppable force the party cannot hope to defeat or thwart, and they have to manage the evacuation. Go to Comment
Ride My See-Saw
Plots  (Crisis)   (Single-Storyline)
RGTraynor's comment on 2010-07-17 09:04 AM
Which might backfire, unless you can launch a ship in seconds. Presuming you have your crew all inside and the ship buttoned up ... well, think a mob of five hundred people on the pad, given about ninety seconds, could make the Space Shuttle unable to launch? I could easily see it happening here. Go to Comment
Ride My See-Saw
Plots  (Crisis)   (Single-Storyline)
RGTraynor's comment on 2010-08-01 05:59 AM
It really is. Steve designed it for doing Buffy games, where sessions are deliberately episodic, and it's surprisingly useful for the format. Absolutely give it a try: just pick song titles from your favorite band and go for it. Go to Comment
Legend of a Mind
Plots  (Hired)   (Single-Storyline)
RGTraynor's comment on 2010-07-13 07:29 AM
This follows Steve Darlington’s excellent format for designing adventures: take an evocative song you like and use it as your inspiration. For the ones I’m posting here, I use Moody Blues’ songs; this one is Legend of a Mind (Timothy Leary’s Dead). The adventure was written for my Firefly campaign, but it works in any SF campaign, and truth be told, would work for any milieu where the characters are involved in merchant trading. Go to Comment
Legend of a Mind
Plots  (Hired)   (Single-Storyline)
RGTraynor's comment on 2010-07-17 09:01 AM
Thankew! Go to Comment
I Know You’re Out There Somewhere
Plots  (Crisis)   (Single-Storyline)
RGTraynor's comment on 2010-07-13 07:22 AM
This follows Steve Darlington’s excellent format for designing adventures: take an evocative song you like and use it as your inspiration. For the ones I’m posting here, I use Moody Blues’ songs; this one is I Know You’re Out There Somewhere. The adventure was written for my Firefly campaign, but it works in any SF campaign, and truth be told, would work for any milieu where the characters are traveling and are under time pressure to leave the area. Go to Comment
I'm Just A Singer ...
Plots  (Hired)   (Side-Quest)
RGTraynor's comment on 2010-07-13 07:16 AM
This follows Steve Darlington’s excellent format for designing adventures: take an evocative song you like and use it as your inspiration. For the ones I’m posting here, I use Moody Blues’ songs; this one is I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band). The adventure was written for my Firefly campaign, but it works in any SF campaign, and truth be told, would work for any milieu where there are (a) popular entertainers and (b) the characters have a ship or caravan where passage may be obtained. Go to Comment
Notable Locations of Teleleli
Locations  (City)   (Any)
RGTraynor's comment on 2010-08-01 12:51 PM
A little uneven, and some of the entries just didn't click with me, but enough are way out there to make this a fine sub. The Road of the Second Chance, the Dancing Goat Theater and the Temple of Meh especially are great. Go to Comment
Black Mountain
Locations  (Establishment)   (Any)
RGTraynor's comment on 2010-05-07 04:50 PM
Very scanty so far. May we have more detail? What the place looks like, how many alchemists are there, some names and personalities of the leading lights, that sort of thing.

Holding vote pending expansion. Go to Comment
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