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Roleplaying Tips Weekly E-Zine Issue #210

Drag & Drop Game World Organizations - Contest Entries



Contents:
This Week's Tips Summarized

Drag & Drop Game World Organizations - Contest Entries

  1. The Necroassembly
  2. The Institute
  3. The Sons Of The Blood
  4. The Solvianeese Restoration Society (SRS)
  5. The Society Of New Light
  6. The Cloaked Flame Guild
  7. The Dwarven Youth, Future Heroes, Mountainmen
  8. Yggdrasil: ISP Agents In An Age Of Corporate Domination
  9. Mirror Of Amaterasu - A Pan-Asian Hacker Group
  10. Dogs of Actaeon
  11. Order of Pan Gu - Rogue AI Programmers
  12. Sons of Loki
  13. Tu's Spear - Vigilantes Unite!
  14. Church Of The Fermented Revelation
  15. Sentinels Sinistra
  16. The Heminae
  17. The Mystlings
  18. The Ministry Of Guild Regulation
  19. The Crowners
  20. The Dreamhunters
Readers' Tips Summarized

  1. Knock 'Em Dead With A Funeral
    From: Sean Brasher
  2. Take An In-Game Break To Refresh The Group
    From: Asbj┐rn Hammervik
  3. Dungeon Mapping Tool (PC)
    From: Asbj┐rn Hammervik
  4. The Scoop On Electricity And Armour
    From: Michal Rutkowski

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A Brief Word From Johnn

New Contest - Game World Organizations

This week's issue consists of entries from the Game World Organizations contest. There's just one week left, so be sure to get your entries in soon!

Prizes:

Entry Deadline:
  • Saturday, March 6th, 2004, Midnight MT.


Entry Rules:
  • To enter, email me one or more group or organization concepts in the following format:
    • Group name
    • Membership details (Who belongs or can join?)
    • Group purpose (Why does the group exist?)
    • Plot hook, conflict, or story ideas


  • Winners will be selected randomly from dice rolls, naturally. :)


NPC Essentials Reviewed

My book, GM Mastery: NPC Essentials (and one of the prizes for the current contest) has been recently reviewed:
http://www.silven.com/adnd.asp?case=show&id=227

Great Book

I'm nearly done Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson (see Brief Word, Issue #206). I can't put the book down, though I'm reading it at a slow rate because my free time lately is absorbed in writing GM Mastery: City Essentials. Not everyone will like the book, but I feel Planescape fans and Black Company fans should check it out.
http://www.sfsite.com/06a/gard58.htm

Cheers,

Johnn Four,
johnn@roleplayingtips.com

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100 FANTASY ADVENTURE SEEDS


Postmortem Studios is the PDF imprint for work by James 'Grim' Desborough, Origin's Award Winning game writer. This book is an adventure supplement suitable for use with any fantasy game. Each page contains a seperate adventure idea and each idea has three twists and an epilog, enabling you to come up with even more ideas! Even if you don't use the ideas, there is enough here to help you overcome GM's block and come up with an evening's gaming.

Buy it here:
http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=2433

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Drag & Drop Game World Organizations - Contest Entries

Following are some of the entries I received from the current Game World Organizations contest. I think these are an awesome GM tool as they can be dropped into your campaigns, woven into your stories or plots, or used as PC/NPC background materials. I hope you find them useful and entertaining.

I'll be publishing the rest of the entries in future issues of the ezine; so, if you like these puppies, then stay tuned.

  1. The Necroassembly

    From: Remko van der Pluijm

    This organisation is dedicated to the forbidden art of grafting (replacing a limb with a limb or bone from another creature). One who wants to join the Necroassembly (called this way because the former was obsessed by undeath grafts) must be able to create a graft or be willing to learn this foul ritual. In addition, he must also have a graft or be willing to receive one. Of course, the necessary magical skills are requirements.

    The reason for this group's existence is their common goal: to take away the limitations of the human body by replacing its limbs with grafts from corpses, strange creatures, or animals. Ultimately, they want to create a superhuman.

    A couple of possible plots to encounter this group are:

    • The party notices, or is notified, that bodies are being dug up from the local graveyard. The bodies have been stripped of their limbs and their trunks left behind. Upon further investigation, the party finds out there is a group of strange and abominable people wandering around in the nearby village. They have pillaged some of the other villages in the neighbourhood and are going back in the party's direction.

    • The group might contact the PCs through a third party and hire them to capture strange beasts and monsters.

    • Social encounters might get interesting as group members try to hide their grafts from a malicious, misunderstood public.

    • Should a PC fall in combat for any reason within a town or city, it might be possible that this group acquires his body. Perhaps they've posted a generous bounty on bodies through underworld channels. The PC might wake up with a graft! Alternately, a killed PC might be resurrected and given several grafts. The Necroassembly expects the PC to be loyal to their cause, or at the very least, pay off the debt he owes them for his resurrection and "improvements".

    • To place this wicked group in a modern or future setting, the group members could be mad scientists, trying to create a perfect race from different animals.

    • Within a future setting, the grafts could be of different types of aliens.


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  2. The Institute

    From: Veljko B. Petrovic

    Goals: The institute is an organization that claims to strive for the control of magic. They don't exactly want to abolish it, but they feel that any new developments should be examined (to prevent the disturbance of balance) before being ruled as an allowable practice. They constantly hound wizards that use too much magic for their taste (any ninth level spell in their "earshot" should get them running).

    While most members believe in this doctrine, the head council (Circle Of The Silent Ones) is actually comprised of jealous arch-magi who want to lessen the competition. This, of course, is kept a guarded secret.

    Membership: There are four branches of membership.

    1. The laymembers. Rich and influential people who either believe in the official Institute doctrine or find it convenient to be members (i.e. having friends and/or contacts who are influential and magi).

    2. The operating branch. Basically, mercs doing the Institute's dirty work. This occasionally results in some crackpot going on a crusade against magic.

    3. The Silent Order. The mages of the institute. They are involved in the organization and safekeeping of magical knowledge.

    4. Circle Of The Silent Ones. Leaders of the Institute and arch-magi.


    Roleplaying ideas:

    • The PCs go on missions for the institute to investigate some powerful spell-casting or to secure some new spell.

    • As the Institute is rare in their lands, the PCs are hired to investigate this new power by a local mages' guild.

    • The Institute, several secret services from a dozen other guilds, and a secret society or two are after the same thing (say, the man who invented a revolutionary new way of magic item creation). The PCs either join one of the fractions or pursue that 'something' for their own ends.


    By the way, this was inspired by "The Institute" in Jack Vance books.

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  3. The Sons Of The Blood

    From: Veljko B. Petrovic

    Goals: This secret society is founded by human (Or some other local majority group) supremacists. Their ultimate goal is to rid the land of "those vile mongrel demi-humans".

    Membership: Mostly the lower caste, especially old war veterans, out-of-job laborers, and similar folk. The upper echelon of the organization, however, is aristocratic.

    Roleplaying ideas:

    • The demi-human players get targeted by Sons Of The Blood thugs. The PCs will probably find this annoying (or at lower levels, frightening) and will react.

    • The PCs' favourite city is suddenly being abandoned by demi-humans as their shops are getting vandalised and some are even being lynched. Nobody knows exactly who is doing this, but a great deal of graffitti reading "SOTB" is appearing on the streets.


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  4. The Solvianeese Restoration Society (SRS)

    From: Veljko B. Petrovic

    Goal: This is a loosely knit group of archaeologists, mages, and scholars who want to restore the Solvianeese civilisation to its former glory and to delve the depths of its mysterious magic technology.

    Membership: Archaeologists, historians, mages, and scholars. PCs could become members if they had Knowledge, Ancient History of at least ten ranks.

    Roleplaying ideas:

    • The SRS sends the PCs to probe the depths of ancient ruins in order to find new information they need.

    • The Society's careless tinkering with ThingsManWasn'tMeantToKnow(tm) might lead to disastrous consequences. They could, for example, unleash a lich (or demilich, vampire mage, mummy lord) that was trapped in some sarcophagus for half an eternity.

    • For a more subtle (but potentially campaign wrecking) effect, the Society successfully reconstructs a useful Solvianeese device (say, the equivalent of a steam engine) thus creating an industrial revolution in an unprepared world.


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  5. The Society Of New Light

    From: Veljko B. Petrovic

    Goals: This society is best at home in large, centralised, and religiously oppressive empires. It seeks to overthrow the corrupt Emperor and his Holy Inquisition to usher in a new era of prosperity and enlightenment.

    Membership: Freethinkers, artists, rebellious mages, and representatives of the downtrodden masses. The PCs ought to be able to join.

    Roleplaying ideas:

    • This society can play a central role in a campaign based on social inequality.

    • The PCs might be hired by a third party to hunt Society members down or to help them, depending on group's alignment.

    • A good game-starting hook is to have the players rotting in jail then have them escape (or be released) with the help of some strangers who depart, leaving the players only a symbol of their Society and perhaps an assignation in some remote place (The Bunch of Grapes tavern in Septorum on the 23rd of Darkwinter. The password is 'swordfish' :D ).


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  6. The Cloaked Flame Guild
    (aka The Stick Waver Patrol in Thieves' Cant)

    From: Veljko B. Petrovic

    Goal: This is an underground guild of mages (well, mostly sorcerers and bards) that does magic services for the underworld.

    It has two basic goals:

    1. Make a lot of money
    2. Survive


    Everything else is subservient to that.

    Membership: Any arcane spell caster can join if he or she is good enough. A simple task combining both magery and thievery is often enough to win a membership (say steal the new formula of the sleeping potion from Dreuhter the Alchemist and make it for us). The NPC membership should be a repository of villains for good aligned PCs, picturesque scoundrels for a more cheerful role playing experience, or fellow psychopaths if your PCs make Sauron look like a boy- scout.

    Roleplaying ideas:

    • This could represent the mage guild in places where magic is illegal, or it could serve as a mage guild for the shadier PCs.

    • A simple two to three session adventure would involve having your players be an inquisition squad sent to root out these villains from the city underworld.


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  7. The Dwarven Youth, Future Heroes, Mountainmen
    (aka Disposable Youngsters For Hopeless Missions)

    From: Elena "of Valhalla" Grandi

    This is an organisation within most Dwarven clans that gathers young warriors under the command of a clan elder. It is mostly made up of lower class members, with little to lose and some hope for social improvement. It can also consist of younger members of older families who have a taste for adventures or disagreements with the family elders. Any dwarf of the clan can enter the organisation as long as he (or she) is of legal age. A member can leave at any time _between_missions_.

    They are probably the less disciplined part of the dwarven armies, being divided in small bands of 2-6 who can, to a certain extent, choose their own missions from a list available in the organisation's headquarters. Such missions are usually of the "suicidal" or the "long and uncertain" kind, with little chances of success. Consistent rewards and the chance to acquire some fame always drives in new members though.

    Members of the organization also get more freedom from the family authority and more chances to get in direct contact with their clan elder (and being listened to) than usual for dwarves of their age.

    With the high chances for adventures and loose requirements, the organisation could be appealing for a PC at the beginning of his career, while more experienced ones could be interested in the ability to get private audience with a clan elder with little questions asked.

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  8. Yggdrasil: ISP Agents In An Age Of Corporate Domination

    From: Tyler Elkink, Contributing Editor
    Tokidoki Entertainment Journal
    http://www.tokidokijournal.com

    This group is good for cyberpunk or other "don't trust the elite" high-tech themes.

    A special team with members who have trained both in black ops and high-tech, Yggdrasil spreads the memes of its backer, perhaps an honest branch of government or an ethical "rebel" corporation.

    They travel alone, setting up temporary Net access points with their portable network systems. They use standard message systems to alert interested parties and remain in a specific area for a length of time from one hour to two days maximum.

    The corporations try desperately to find them but are restricted by the fact that the Ygdrasil software is coded specifically to detect corporate intrusion. At the first sign of trouble, Yggdrasil broadcasts an alert and packs up, moving on in less than five minutes.

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  9. Mirror Of Amaterasu - A Pan-Asian Hacker Group

    From: Tyler Elkink

    The MoA is eager to prove their worth to major Net legends. They want to set up an official alliance with like-minded military or corporate groups and either redeem their ethnic group or free it. They are highly skilled technically but almost totally incapable of operating outside their environments. Most are HS or college students.

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  10. Dogs Of Actaeon

    From: Tyler Elkink

    This group is made up of former agents of either side in a large war. Regarded as traitors by both sides, the Dogs are combat, spy, or hacker veterans stranded in DMZs who found safehouses inhabited by both sides.

    The Dogs are working towards a "truly free" world where they don't have to worry about charges of desertion or of being a traitor for simply trying to survive. Both sides know of them and consider them idealistic, not a huge threat, but representing a tremendous pool of skills.

    Since they are deserters in war, most military personnel are willing to shoot them as soon as they recognize them.

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  11. Order of Pan Gu - Rogue AI Programmers

    From: Tyler Elkink

    The Order, as they call themselves, is a group of programmers who gather to create or change AIs. They typically work normal jobs, but at night or on weekends they gather in safehouses (physical or network) and run huge networks that house AIs.

    The government would regard them as criminals for stealing military AI code if they knew exactly who had done it. They have a range of skills, usually with an emphasis in technical fields, and high levels of ability in coding and psychology.

    AIs regard them as Frankensteins because their creations are most often damaged. They have only one successful AI, "Fu Xi," who runs their network and assists in compiling other AI code. They seek more AI code from military or corporate sources, but their hacking skills are insufficient, and Fu Xi's attempts have met only with confusion and system crashes. Most members have exceptionally high-quality personal assistant programs that are pseudo-intelligent.

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  12. Sons Of Loki

    From: Tyler Elkink

    This is a non-guild solution for creating an underworld organization.

    In highly-controlled territories, theft is punished very harshly. Those honest men and women who become trapped in a life of crime are not considered by the government's draconian legal system.

    The Sons do not exactly provide support for criminals. They hate rapists and murderers. But they do have a broader definition of "self-defense" than the police do and they disregard property crimes committed by the poor. There's plenty of bad people in the group, but they do provide shelter for some honest men and women.

    They concentrate on safehouses, pawn shops for petty thieves, and enforcement of "protected areas" where they keep crime at statistically unremarkable levels so as to avoid the interest of law enforcement.

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  13. Tu's Spear - Vigilantes Unite!

    From: Tyler Elkink

    Nobody investigates the Spear. Nobody knows about the spear except its own members. The Spear pricks the heart of darkness. First begun by police sick of widespread, violent crime and the "coddling" of criminals for everything short of rape and murder, it has grown to include police, vigilantes, and victims of crime obsessed with revenge. It houses some serial killers (who target uncaught or pardoned rapists, for example) and most of its membership treats human life rather more lightly than most.

    However, the Spear only targets violent criminals who aren't, in their opinion, sufficiently punished by the system. Their social network spreads word of escaped convicts, uncaught serial offenders, and official investigation into Spear-related crimes. The membership is still heavily police-oriented, so very little danger exists for the members. The group is tribal in nature and members are inaugurated with tattoos over the heart.

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  14. Church Of The Fermented Revelation; Blessed Are The (Colt) Peacemakers.

    From: Tyler Elkink

    Guns and booze, together at last.

    Their beliefs focus on alcohol as God's Holy Tool of Civilization (since alcohol is a major factor in the growth of cities in the agricultural age) and guns (or spears or swords) as God's Holy Tool to Defeat Evil. They have the rich liturgy of the Catholic church, combined with the willingness and capability to lay waste to the enemies of God, and the wild edge to encourage mavericks. They also have hospices to treat wounded of their own and those who are brought to them. This makes them quite popular among criminal elements who want to avoid registered hospitals that law enforcement watches.

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  15. Sentinels Sinistra

    From: Shandy P. Smith

    A group devoted to the protection of monarch and kingdom. Generally speaking, the members follow the precepts of honor and justice. In the defense of monarch and kingdom, however, they are utterly ruthless.

    All classes and races are represented in the Sentinels. Potential members are scouted by a special division within the Sentinels, first from afar, then from an in person interview (though the potential recruit doesn't usually realize it). If the candidate is acceptable, a magic/psychic probe is used to determine such things as the ability to balance honor with expediency, capacity for absolute devotion, and a lack of other major bindings (previous loyalties and the like).

    Members are recognized only through a series of complex passwords which change from time to time.

    Plot hook: The PCs find the murdered body of a friend. The officials do nothing to investigate and the nobles laugh it off. If they push too hard for official action, they will be warned off. Violently, if necessary. The friend was one of a team of subversive agents sent to incite civil unrest within the kingdom.

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  16. Heminae

    From: Shandy P. Smith

    The Heminae are small and informal group of halflings and gnomes of all classes who travel around and do random good acts. The group size ranges from 5 to 10 individuals depending on the current enrolment and will have no more than 10 individuals at any one time.

    Acts of kindness range from providing a desperately depressed man enough ale for a peaceful, if temporary, oblivion, to rescuing travelers from mortal danger.

    Plot hook: The PCs hear rumors of a wandering group that does random acts of kindness and asks for nothing in return. Is there a more sinister purpose?

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  17. Mystlings

    From: Shandy P. Smith

    This para-military organization specializes in bringing down evil schemers. All classes and races are welcome. All that is necessary for membership is a proven desire to bring down evil.

    They often operate outside the law, though they never use utterly evil methods. Their most recent efforts prevented an evil temple from becoming the defacto rulers of a nearby kingdom.

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  18. The Ministry Of Guild Regulation

    From: Shandy P. Smith

    This ministry is responsible for maintaining peace between the various guilds in the city. This helps keep prices reasonable, prevents guild conflicts from getting out of hand, and maintains a channel between the guilds and the royals.

    A copy of each guild's charter is in the Ministry Records. Copies of previous decisions are also available. Due to the nature of the Ministry, there is always pressure on Ministry representatives to decide in favor, or against, some guild or other.

    Plot hook: As an outside group, the PCs are asked by the Ministry Head to investigate rumors of corruption within the Ministry.

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  19. The Crowners

    From: Rhuobhe Leafdancer

    A partly public guild that focuses on convincing the Royal Chamberlain to crown a certain candidate. They organize dinners with the high circles to gather monetary, military, and political influence for their future leader. On the other side, they have a vast network of informants and spies planted deep within their opponents' ranks. They secretly plant intrigues with the other candidates, move them against each other, blackmail them, and hire assassins, amongst other things.

    Of course, getting into that kind of guild is not an easy job to do. The group is closed to other applicants and the members are specifically picked for their reach and influence.

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  20. The Dreamhunters

    From: Matt C.

    The Dreamhunters are a small group of powerful magic users who have the gift of having prophetic dreams. Members of the organization are taught to harness their dream-energies to produce dreams with immediate importance, a process they call "dreamhunting". Over the years they have recruited several members and their organization now stands at roughly one hundred members (not counting hirelings and candidates for membership) across the entire region.

    The Dreamhunters use the prophecies they glean through dreaming to alter the course of events for the "better" of all people. Of course, now and then, the better condition is the one that suits their organization best. Joining the Dreamhunters only requires the gift of prophetic dreams and magical aptitude. Young children are often sought out as candidates but adults who discover their talents later in life are welcome as well.

    Plot hooks:
    • PCs could come into conflict with the Dreamhunters if the group decides that the characters play an important role in fulfilling a prophecy the group wishes to stop.

    • The characters could be hired by agents of the group to carry out some task necessary to the fulfilment of a desirable situation shown in a prophetic dream. The Dreamhunters are very secretive, though, and will usually come to the characters through underlings. Only if their need is great, or the situation desperate, will the Dreamhunters come out to the PCs openly.


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RolePlayingMaster


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Readers' Tips Of The Week:

  1. Knock 'Em Dead With A Funeral
    From: Sean Brasher

    If you are looking for a good hook to start a new adventure, try starting with a funeral. There are many advantages to this approach, such as:

    • Meeting People. If the heroes have never met before, they could naturally meet at the ceremony. If they already know each other (and the deceased) then they have an immediate connection to the situation. Plus, a funeral is a perfect opportunity to introduce NPCs, ranging from grieving widows to creepy undertakers to the mysterious figure who comes in to lay down a single rose on the grave and then vanishes.

    • Story Hooks. Obviously, if the deceased was murdered, died under unusual circumstances, or was the victim of some social force such as racism or persecution, this can be an immediate hook for the heroes to follow and a motive for their involvement. Or, if the deceased was connected to some mystery, (such as "he never did tell anyone where he hid all of his gold" or "now we'll never know what she was looking for in those tunnels") the heroes have an enigma that they might be interested in solving.

    • Cultural Snapshot: A funeral also provides a great example of how a culture works. The funeral could be a formal affair where clerics recite epic poetry and the body is interred into a crypt, or it could be a rowdy wake where the friends and relatives drink and dance their blues away. All manner of superstitions and customs can be displayed, such as covering all the mirrors in the house or laying coins on the corpse's eyes; all of which give further substance to the fictional world you are creating.

    • Roleplaying Opportunity: If your players are interested, a funeral provides a very dramatic roleplaying opportunity. How does their character handle being reminded of their own mortality, as well as dealing with their grief for the deceased? Do they stoically show no sign of emotion or do they wail and gnash their teeth? Do they try to console the widow or take time to make out their own will? These choices can show a lot about who the character is and how they see the world.


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  2. Take An In-Game Break To Refresh The Group
    From: Asbjørn Hammervik

    In one way, this ties in with the livejournal tips.

    [ http://www.roleplayingtips.com/issue185.asp#r1 ]

    When I got my subscription there, I decided to make this an opportunity for change. So, I decided to take a break. Not in real life, but in campaign time. Some pretty nasty business had went down, and one PC had killed himself. They were scared emotionally and physically. So, I called a 6 month recollection time. The PCs did some decent work, made some new friends (among others, the new PC) and gained a level. It all worked out nicely, and the slight stagnation I had sensed before the change, was solved.

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  3. Dungeon Mapping Tool (PC)
    From: Asbjørn Hammervik

    Here's a link to a freeware dungeon mapper that's quite excellent. You'll need the .NET software from Microsoft though.

    http://www.tribalxsolutions.com/freeware.html

    http://www.microsoft.com/net/

    (Be sure to read the documentation and system requirements before installing.)

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  4. The Scoop Of Electricity And Armour
    From: Michal Rutkowski
    Special thanks to: Marek Chojnowski

    Dear Johnn and readers,

    It is a well established practice in many systems to penalise PCs in terms of electricity resistance and saves for any and all metallic items carried by the characters. I will not argue that an iron sword will tend to draw electricity from a lightning spell or blue dragon breath.

    However, the matter is different when discussing armour. I study physics at university, and with a friend of mine we came to a surprising conclusion. A closed conductive surface (such as full plate mail) acts as what is known as Faraday's Cage - the charge from the lightning gathers only on the outside surface of the suit of armour, without penetrating into the character. It then "slides" down the surface of the metal into the ground, actually rendering the character impervious to the electrical damage (no charge passes through them).

    For this to work, there must be contact between the armour and ground (iron boots), otherwise, the feet (or more) are burned. I suggest you all to consider this when planning electrifying encounters.