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Roleplaying Tips Weekly E-Zine Issue #218

Drag & Drop Game World Organizations Part II



Contents:
This Week's Tips Summarized

Drag & Drop Game World Organizations Part II

  1. Gnomic Shipping Guild
  2. Shield Husbands/Shield Wives
  3. The Arabathil Brotherhood
  4. The Sybaritic Monks
  5. The Soporific Order
Readers' Tips Summarized

  1. Quick Rumour Tip
    From: Laura Thurston
  2. Paranoia Tip
    From: Roger Barr
  3. Matched Die Descriptions
    From: Lord Damian
  4. Speed Up Your Game: Use Static "Dice Rolls"
    From: Lord Damian
  5. Limiting Multiple Enchantments On Weapons For Game Balance
    From: Tommy HH

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A Brief Word From Johnn

Drag & Drop Game World Organizations Part II

This week's issue features five more entries from the recent game organizations contest. I hope you can find some room for them in your campaign. Perhaps they might be useful for a side plot, a background event, or a history item?

What To Do With 100 Cardboard Boxes

I'm thinking...a massive fort! The Big Move to Edmonton happened today without any problems or injuries (to people or stuff). Whew, I'm glad that's over. Now comes the fun task of unpacking boxes, boxes, and more boxes. Hmmm, maybe I should build a cardboard golem?

Here's a stumper. What does one pack boxes in? :)

Cheers,

Johnn Four,
johnn@roleplayingtips.com

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Drag & Drop Game World Organizations Part II

  1. Gnomic Shipping Guild

    From: Thinkanalogous

    Group Purpose: The Gnomic Shipping Guild has two objectives:

    1. Trade and gain money.

    2. Further the technology of the gnomic civilizations through exploration, discovery, and theft (ahem, I mean copying) if necessary. Though entirely peaceful, and anti- colonial, the Gnomic Shipping Guild has established a world- wide shipping trade. Their ships are the fastest, their naval warfare technology is the best, and their abilities at trade have enabled them to deal with even the most reluctant nations. They are a maritime Switzerland in politics.


    Membership details: Membership in the Gnomic Shipping Guild is generally gained by birth (that is, one must be born a gnome). Rank is determined by skill above all else.

    Roleplaying Ideas:

    • The party needs fast transport and GSG seems to be the best option.

    • The PCs are hired to steal siege craft technology (the only act known to make gnomes incoherently violent) from the GSG.

    • The PCs have discovered an interesting piece of loot and it's said the GSG will buying anything and pay the best rates.

    • The group needs access to an isolationist culture/nation and must persuade the GSG to put in a good word for them or even broker a meeting.


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  2. Shield Husbands/Shield Wives

    From: Thinkanalogous

    This elite military branch of men and women is known for its fierceness in combat. A married couple is trained from courtship on how to fight together. She carries a large shield and a short sword, he a small shield and a longsword. When fighting adjacent, they gain a defense bonus due to a feat, ability, or skill that teaches them how to cover each other's backs.

    If their partner dies, they take vows of celibacy for the rest of their lives. Members of this group are self selecting. Couples apply together once per year. This fighting force was created in a time of great military need in its nation's history and is the reason that women were allowed, and welcomed, into military service.

    In the country's most desperate hour, it was these fighters who saved it with a crucial victory. Since then, this fighting unit has been revered for its holiness and battle prowess. Now it serves to protect the most important members of the church or state.

    Roleplaying Ideas:

    • The party is hired to help a shield wife find her kidnapped/captured/missing husband; she, of course, joins the party temporarily as an NPC.

    • A member of party is hired to seduce a widower shield husband (celibate).


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  3. The Arabathil Brotherhood

    From: Alan Jones

    This is a group of sages, mages, and clerics who are fascinated by the variety of forms of life in the world and the planes beyond.

    Daemyr Rheoddyn is the leader and founding member. He has a mansion in the richer part of the city with a fine library and an extensive underground menagerie. He suffers from sporadic dizziness brought on by the breath of a creature he encountered years ago and now relies on other members of the Brotherhood to bring him knowledge. He is in his late twenties and uses his dashing good looks to gain favours with the women of the city.

    The Brotherhood's name is taken from one of Daemyr's adventuring partners, a paladin who died protecting the mage. A statue of Arabathil stands in the library.

    Membership details: To gain admittance, a member must produce a detailed document describing a new or unusual monster. If possible, an example (dead or alive) must be presented to the Brotherhood.

    Roleplaying Ideas:

    • A mage who is seeking entrance to the Brotherhood approaches the PCs and offers to buy a notebook they have found for a huge sum. The mage is desperate to join the Brotherhood but lacks the courage to go on his own monster hunts. If the PCs decide not to sell the book others try to steal it from them.

    • A creature escapes from the menagerie and terrorizes the city. The Brotherhood wants it captured before it is killed or before the city militia find out where it came from.


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  4. The Sybaritic Monks

    From: Tyler Elkink

    The Sybaritic Monks began 300 years ago as an offshoot of major pleasure-god worship. In their dedication to physical pleasure, which led to some strange philosophies, the Monks encountered the new science of economics. "Trade-off", or "greater pleasure gained for lesser pleasure abstained" become the core concept around which the monks built their new ideas.

    The Sybaritic Monks seek nothing but pleasure and have a broad range of definitions. In fact, anyone of any alignment may join them and prosper. Illegal or perverse activities are restricted on the basis of local law enforcement. The less likely a Monk is to be caught, the more lax the order's local house is.

    Some of their order are those with long-term, terminal diseases who plan their physical breakdowns from abuse to coincide with their expected death date. They have, as a result, become very good at understanding and treating overdoses, poisons, exotic drugs, etc.

    The Sybaritic Monks, far from being a dissolute band of miscreants, are frequently regarded as a trusty group who are willing to do favours for others in exchange for very little. For example, most Monks are willing to perform healing or restoration spells in exchange for a night or two with an attractive member of the party. This makes them exceptionally popular with the poor.

    Sybaritic Monks worship a small pantheon of pleasure gods; Bacchus, Dionysus, Lev the Triple-Breasted Whore and her lover Great Nas, Elriccan the Creative Alchemist, etc.

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  5. The Soporific Order

    From: Tyler Elkink

    This group of somnolent mystics and seers based in a major crime city are difficult to find. They are renowned for their accurate and even occasionally straightforward predictions of the future. Their fees are enormous and go almost entirely towards maintaining a huge amount of beds designed for long-term care hospital patients.

    They predict the future in their dreams. They are trained for years in maintaining a state of subconscious relaxation. When they are ready, they lay down in a bed for years at a time, kept nourished by an intravenous feed of addictive, psychotropic sedatives and more mundane components. Their dreams are heavily affected by the presence of conscious people near them, and typically speak out loud regarding a person's future when they're near. The seers are wheeled out into a private room for tellings.

    It has been postulated, but never proven, that a break-in to the sleeping beds where the seers are all stored would trigger a huge, possibly cataclysmic, foretelling that would not only predict but predetermine the future of the break-in artist.


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Readers' Tips Of The Week:

  1. Quick Rumour Tip
    From: Laura Thurston

    Hi Johnn!

    Here's a quick tip that got rave reviews from my gaming group.

    When I know that my PCs are about to meet a large group of people from arriving at a village, having a ship land, the circus comes to town, a group of pilgrims stops by, or other influxes of new NPCs, I assume that the PCs are going to want to chat up the NPCs.

    First, I consider various gossip generators:

    • Where the NPCs have recently been
    • Information about the area
    • Interpersonal relations
    • Local disputes
    • Who has recently been in the area
    • Religious and political disputes
    • Petty crime
    • NPCs being made fools of


    Next, I write up as many rumors as feasible and cut out each rumor into its own slip of paper for player handouts. Each rumor gets rated according to plot relevance, usefulness of information, and roleplaying hook potential. Each rumor gets a point value based on its rating.

    During the game, when I have the players roll to Gather Information, I add up the rumor point values on the paper slips to equal the Gather Information roll and give the collection of handouts to the players.

    Rumors can also be specific to a particular type of character. For instance, some rumors will only be obtainable by bards while others might be obtainable only if the player declares that the character is talking to the village children (who see and hear things and will talk about things the adults want kept quiet).

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  2. Paranoia Tip
    From: Roger Barr

    Johnn,

    One of the best ways to encourage paranoia and distrust within the party is to share information with a player privately, and then have him not share it when he returns to the table. (Give him a reason not to, or link it to a background piece of information that's not a good thing to share).

    It really sows the distrust, particularly if you have a player who is known for less than lawful tactics upon occasion.

    Use this tip wisely though.

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  3. Matched Die Descriptions
    From: Lord Damian

    Use the numbers on the dice when you roll them as a gauge of when to add something "extra". For example, in a game that uses 3d6, such as Hero, when the roll comes up 2-2-2, 3-3-3, 4-4-4, or 5-5-5 (triple 1s and 6s are reserved as criticals and botches) add something extra into the resolution description. Introduce some new information, add a bit of flair to combat, be dramatic on chases, etc.

    The same thing can be used in single die resolution games. In d20, for instance, when a DEX check is rolled and if the result is equal to the PC's DEX, emphasize the description in terms of their dexterity.

    If a player rolls a matched die result, he should tell you he has a "Matched Die" and what it matches with (i.e. a skill check, attack, or attribute check). He then can craft his own expanded description.

    Keep in mind that the player's description should only correspond with the skill and attribute in use at the time, though you might want to factor in any synergy skills.

    [Comment from Johnn: one reason why I like this tip so much is that the mechanics create a great "reminder service". You know how you get tired and a bit uninspired as a game session wears on? You start to forget to add details and your descriptions might not be as fresh as they were a couple hours ago. By having the dice remind you to wake up and inject the flavour again from time to time, your game session quality and GMing will remain consistently interesting.]

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  4. Speed Up Your Game: Use Static "Dice Rolls"
    From: Lord Damian

    This rule is a touch involved as it requires a bit of reverse engineering of the rules. The goal is to free up the GM so she can give more attention to the story and track what's going on better. The example below is targeted at d20, though it's actually a rule I use in Fuzion, and it can be used for many other systems.

    First, look at what you as GM have to roll during games:

    • Skill checks
    • Attack checks
    • Saves
    • Caster checks
    • Spell resistance
    • Damage
    • Initiative


    That's a lot of dice rolling and calculating when you look at it.

    Now, here's where it gets a bit difficult. You need to find the average success number (average roll + static bonuses) for each NPC and monster. In d20, since most everything is resolved by rolling a d20, your average roll is 10.5, which we'll call 10. Then add a base of 10 to all skills, attacks, and caster check mods.

    This gives you a list of difficulties for your PCs to roll against so that you now only have to worry about saves, spell resistance, damage, and initiative (which I suggest stays rolled to keep it fluid).

    On the player side, just use the rolled defense rule from the DMG. i.e. do _not_ add the base 10 AC modifier. Roll a d20 and add modifiers for every attack targeted at you instead.

    Now keep in mind this isn't fool proof. Some skills aren't opposed, and some rolls you might not want to make static or you might reserve the right to use GM fiat on them. For example, major villains should always be rolled and not use pre-determined static calculations.

    Use your best judgement though, and with this tip, you should be able to cut your die rolling and in-game calculating in half.

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  5. Limiting Multiple Enchantments On Weapons For Game Balance
    From: Tommy HH

    In my game, weapons and magic items can have multiple enchantments laid upon them. While this creates very interesting artifacts, it can be a game unbalancer from time to time as well. Here is my solution to over-enchanted weapons.

    Every single enchantment that targets somebody or something has one weakness: when the enchantment is cast roll a d6. On roll of 1 or 2, all previous enchantments on the target are destroyed.

    So, if a dwarven mastersmith wants to create a mastersword, there is a one out of three chance that he has to start all over again each time he tries to add an enchantment to the weapon. This makes it very likely that the creation of a super-weapon may take a lifetime...

    In my game, there is a second consideration to this. Casting an enchantment permanently removes spellpower from its caster (which may be restored by extremely rare potions). This turns most multi-enchantment items into projects that take years instead of weeks.


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