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Roleplaying Tips Weekly E-Zine Issue #477

When Adventures Are Too Easy

Contents: 

 

This Week's Tips Summarized 

When Adventures Are Too Easy

When Adventures Are Too Easy

For Your Game: 100 Street Scenes

Strolen's Feature Article: Cult Generation

 

Johnn Four's GM Guide Books

Advanced Adventures #12 now in PDF & coming to stores soon!

The Barrow Mound of Gravemoor is an OSRIC module designed for 4-6 adventures of levels 5-7. The Highlands are aflame with the fires of rebellion and what began as a minor uprising becomes serious, deadly serious.

Pick up your copy where XRP e-products are sold and look for the title on store shelves in late February.

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A Brief Word From Hannah 

Inspiration from Antiquity

I recently learned about an interesting archaeological find. An ancient temple was unearthed with a man's body draped across the altar. He'd been stabbed in the side, his throat was slit, and then the walls fell in.

That's right: the walls fell in mid-sacrifice. There were a number of other bodies in the room, most likely priests of some sort who were caught in the earthquake that collapsed the building.

Imagine your party walking in on a scene line that. There's a bleeding guy tied to an altar, a bunch of priests or cultists are standing around him with knives, and the ground is shaking. Are they trying to stop the earthquake, or did their ritual cause it? Or is it something even worse - a powerful demon that can only break through during a geological upheaval, and the cultists are trying to set it free?

Hannah Lipsky
hannah@roleplayingtips.com
AIM: DemonIllusionist
Websites:
Chaotic Shiny
Chaotic Shiny Productions

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When Adventures Are Too Easy  

by Kate Manchester

You spend hours planning and mapping out your adventure and sit down to begin the game session. An hour later, your PCs have managed to breeze through your carefully crafted encounters and handily win the day. And to add insult to injury, one of your players look at you and says, "that was too easy!"

So how do you make things more challenging for the PCs without designing a deliberate TPK scenario? Here are few ideas to help you plan your next adventure.

1. Know Your Players and PCs

Know your players. If your players are known for coming up with outside the box solutions, try to come up with a few yourself when planning your adventure. For example, if your PCs are the sort to thoroughly examine a room in an attempt to look for hidden treasure, then throw in a poison needle trap in the trigger for the secret door.

Make no assumptions. If a player doesn't specifically say their PC is doing something like checking doors for traps or scanning their surroundings, then don't assume they are. Yes, this could potentially mean the party is unaware of the goblin sneaking up behind them, but what's an RPG without a little danger?

Know your PCs. Back when I ran an ongoing campaign, I kept an updated copy of each player's character sheet on goldenrod paper. By having a copy of the sheets, I had access to the PCs' stats and equipment. If, for example, I knew that Thorgar the Magnificent has the ability to jump 10 feet without making a die roll, then I might use a 15 foot pit trap instead of a 6 foot one.

Use the PC's weaknesses. If you're running a game where PCs take disadvantages to gain advantages at character creation, then by all means exploit them, no matter how odd the flaw. For example, a player in a LARP took a phobia of chickens thinking it was a cheap and safe way to gain extra build points. Imagine the player's surprise when a rogue group of chickens showed up at a game session and became part of a continuing minor storyline.

2. All's Fair

While life isn't always fair, it doesn't mean the adventure can't be fair to both parties involved.

If the PCs have a particular power/feat/etc., there's nothing stopping a GM from assigning those same powers to NPCs.

For example, in a Star Wars campaign I played in, my PC had a handy power that allowed her to disarm an opponent, which she used to destroy a Sith's lightsaber. During a later encounter, one of the bad guys used the same power to disarm one of the other PCs, resulting in that PC's capture.

If the party can obtain weapons or equipment with minimal effort, there's no reason why your NPCs can't also get them. In fact, in some cases, the NPCs might have access to better equipment due to superior contacts or resources.

If the NPCs have it, they can use it. If the adversaries you're throwing at the PCs have treasures of a special or magical nature, they should be using the items, not just leaving them in a dusty chest or weapons locker.

So have the NPCs strap on that +1 leather armor or keep that combination flame thrower/grenade launcher at the ready. And while this strategy might lower the item's value (through depletion of charges or damage to the object), it can also serve as an incentive to the PCs to attempt to end future encounters faster.

Use the players' own strategies against them. If you're sending intelligent adversaries after the PCs, then allow them to utilize commonly known adventuring strategies and tactics.

For example, "Kill the mage (or cleric) first" is a strategy commonly employed by adventurers. Why then wouldn't the NPCs also employ it?

3. Make Tougher Monsters

Tough monsters are tough for a reason. If an adversary has multiple attacks or special abilities, by all means let them be used. If, for example, you throw an ancient spell-using dragon at the party, that dragon should be using their spells along with their claws, teeth, breath weapon and tail. These creatures are fighting for their lives.

Raise the enemy's stats. If you typically throw enemies of the same or slightly lower level at the PCs, then consider increasing this to a higher ratio (highest party level + 3 levels, for example). In the case of a non-level based game, you might want some or all of the NPCs to have better stats than the most senior party member.

Not all monsters collect treasure. Some adversaries aren't motivated by the lust for treasure. Some are simply hungry monsters, or human(oids) trying to survive in their little patch of ground. Therefore, some NPCs might attempt to destroy a party member's weaponry or armor or use equipment damaging traps like acid or hungry rust monsters.

4. Use Trickier Traps

Make traps harder or more lethal. Make a pit deeper or give a trap the ability to adjust and adapt.

For example, in the movie Resident Evil, the main characters had to go up against a deadly laser. The first person that hit it was beheaded.

The next person was a bit more clever and managed to avoid its deadly attack several times until the laser "learned." It then went after him using an inescapable grid pattern which diced the character just before the others were able to turn it off. Ouch.

Another example of a difficult and ingenious trap is one that consists of a teleport spell that always goes first and sends the unlucky soul 15 feet above the illusory ceiling of the room so that they drop, taking damage. This process repeats until the creature triggering it is dead. The barrier is designed to disintegrate dead flesh into dust, so the only unusual thing about the room the PCs might notice is an exceptionally thick layer of dust.

Two traps are better than one. If you put a trap in a given room, why can't you put a second one in the same room? No reason besides accepted convention. So go ahead and put another trap into the room.

5. Location is Everything

Take a fresh look at the adventure. Set it aside for a while (two weeks or more) and then re-read the adventure and re- examine any included materials - maps, handouts, etc. Try to see (or create) potential locations for ambushes and full cover available to both the PCs and their adversaries, along with any potential hazards.

Don't forget about home court advantage. The PCs are usually venturing into unfamiliar territory. Adversaries typically have been living or defending the area for quite some time, so they should be able to find their way around under low light conditions, and know the location of traps, secret passages and potential hiding places.

Use the environment to your advantage. If you're setting your campaign in the desert, don't forget to remind the PCs how hot it can be to wear body armor (or full plate). Watery environments can be hard to move in while encumbered by armor, equipment and treasure, and at times rather difficult to cast spells in. Muddy forest floors can also hamper movement, while the presence of dried fallen leaves can make it hard to use Stealth to sneak up on the party of orcs 50 feet ahead.

6. On-The-Fly Solutions

If you're running an adventure and you realize it's a cakewalk for your players, here are a few quick ideas that might help:

  • Add more monsters. Sometimes pregenerated adventures are too easy for a gaming group, especially if it's not stated what level characters the adventure is for. If you realize the encounters are too easy, bring in some reinforcements. Combat of any length will typically generate noise, bringing the curious (or hungry) to come investigate.
  • Toughen up the adversaries. Change the stats on the fly by adding extra hit points, raising the armor class or giving them extra abilities.
  • Add more encounters. Many games have wandering encounter tables. Put these tables to work for you by selecting the most difficult encounters or combining one or more events. If no tables were provided, make up an encounter on the spot.
  • Last but not least, call for a break. Your players can get up, have a snack, use the bathroom, etc. while you attempt to re-work the adventure. If possible, separate yourself from the players so you can have some alone time to rework the adventure. If you're at a good stopping point for the session, feel free to avail yourself of the opportunity and use it.

* * *

Overly easy adventures can and do happen to many GMs. Hopefully, these tips will help you make things a little more challenging for your next gaming session.

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For Your Game: 100 Street Scenes 

By Alric, RPG Athenaeum

Many fantasy role-playing game adventures contain scenes set in medieval cities, towns or villages. Although published adventures will contain information necessary to further the adventure's plot, they usually don't contain much else.

This situation places the game master in the unenviable place of presenting only information relevant to the adventure; doing so makes it more difficult for the game master to present the settlement as bustling with activity, while at the same time making the adventure far easier for the heroes.

It is for this reason the list below was generated. The next time a player asks what is happening on the street, a quick percentile roll or five on the table below will fill your town with activity, some of which may even lead to adventure.

Gentle Reader: this list has been formatted as a free .pdf download for your use; you can get the file by clicking here.

You can also find it at our Free Downloads page.

  1. A juggler performs on the street.
  2. A street preacher makes a loud, public sermon on the back of a wagon. He is a man of the local religion's cloth and will not stop preaching for anything less than the drastic end of the world.
  3. A crier tells of a prominent minstrel's upcoming performance.
  4. A teamster is hauling a wagonload of pig iron with a team of two straining oxen. His destination is a blacksmith shop.
  5. A woman carrying a stack of books trips in front of the party and falls over, scattering her books everywhere.
  6. A street hawker is peddling tin wares; he bangs two tin pots together to punctuate his sales messages.
  7. A pane of glass falls out of a window. It shatters on the street.
  8. Two wagons recently collided. The respective teamsters have managed to clear the road and are calmly sorting the matter out with the watch.
  9. A pedagogue passes by, with about six noble children following behind her like ducklings.
  10. A group of unruly foreigners walk down the street, laughing and having a good time. Some might be drinking, even this early in the morning.
  11. Several kids are jumping into a hay wagon or large snowdrift from a second story window.
  12. A merchant briskly approaches, accompanied by a handful of servants. One carries a large stack of papers, another is taking sheets of parchment from the pile and placing them on the back of the third man, upon which the merchant is signing the documents.
  13. Marching at double-time, a group of watchmen passes the party. They barely notice the heroes.
  14. A street performer leads his trained bear through the streets. Other passers-by give the animal a wide berth, even though it is muzzled.
  15. A group of children playing "Thieves and Sheriffs" charge across the street, some of whom take cover behind the heroes' legs. At the DM's discretion, some of the youngsters may really be thieves.
  16. A beautiful young girl, dressed in noble attire, travels down the street with a heavily-armed and armored escort who wears a visored helm.
  17. A produce vendor's cart rolls by. The proprietor is singing quite well as he strolls past.
  18. A group of laborers are carrying large, unmarked crates from a wagon into a warehouse or tavern.
  19. An artist is hawking his paintings from an unhitched wagon.
  20. A group of young rakes pour out of a bar, laughing loudly.
  21. A homeless beggar sits cross-legged at an intersection, begging bowl in hand.
  22. A bored-looking clergyman stands next to a statue, marker or other monument.
  23. The heroes notice a humanoid figure following them slowly. If they stop and wait in the shadows for the figure to pass, it turns down a side street and disappears.
  24. Two fast-talking men are holding a shell game at a nearby corner. Ironically, the game is somewhat straight, but a third associate circulates through the crowd, picking the pockets of those who stay to watch.
  25. A watermelon falls onto the street, splattering everywhere. It was thrown out of a third story window during a domestic dispute.
  26. A townsman strolls along, humming a popular tavern song.
  27. A woman walks by, carrying a large wicker cage full of white doves.
  28. A bedraggled priest approaches the party, asking them to divest themselves of all wealth or suffer the eternal consequences of avarice.
  29. A grossly fat nobleman waddles past; he looks down his nose as the heroes as he passes.
  30. A beautiful woman is buying a swath of fine fabric from a street vendor.
  31. A small group of young men listen in rapt horror to an old man's war stories outside a tavern.
  32. A man walks by with a snake around his shoulders.
  33. A watchman, oblivious to his surroundings, indulges in a herring pie.
  34. A group of watch cadets pass the group, taking part in their daily run.
  35. A clearly lost man, trying to hold a large map open, asks the heroes for help. He doesn't speak the local language, but repeats the name of the place he is looking for over and over while gesturing at the map. For bonus weirdness, the place he is looking for is a bit peculiar - flesh house, gate place, human living location, etc.
  36. A wealthy-looking couple, dressed to impress, passes by. The heroes overhear the woman saying, "I'm sorry your wife left you for your stepfather."
  37. A group of limners are constructing a scaffold next to a nearby building. Most of the men stand in an uneven circle smoking corncob pipes, watching the youngest member of the group doing most of the work.
  38. A "performer" from a well-known cat house dances on the corner, while a crier calls out the place's hours of operation.
  39. The night soil cart is making its rounds, stopping every 20 feet while two men empty chamber pots into a great cauldron in the cart.
  40. A group of children runs out of a tavern, with the waiter or owner in pursuit. Some of the youngsters are still chewing.
  41. A preoccupied drunk obliviously runs into one of the heroes and yells, "Out of my way, you clumsy oaf!"
  42. A wizard drifts by on a flying carpet, hovering about a foot above the ground. She sneers at the heroes, looking at them as if they were beggars.
  43. A cleric, carrying a book and a sack of vegetables, walks down the side of the street. He smiles politely and walks on.
  44. A group of rough-looking teenagers lay about on a corner, looking slantwise at everyone who walks by, and itching for a fight.
  45. A pale-looking person walks down the street, stops in front of the heroes, starts coughing, and vomits on the cobblestones.
  46. A wagon is causing traffic problems as it tries to back up two blocks; the teamster missed his destination.
  47. "Peace cultists" assail the heroes, offering flowers and chanting, "May your days be full of happiness."
  48. An acting troupe puts on a performance. They encourage the audience to participate in their interactive play.
  49. A street musician plays a lute, with a small, wooden tankard set upon the ground in front of him. A few copper coins can be seen in the tankard.
  50. While walking past a temple, a hero is struck in the back with rotten fruit (in warmer months) or a snowball (in winter). The only person visible when the hero looks behind him is an elderly woman, ambling about nonchalantly.
  51. Two small children run past the party, wearing homemade dragon costumes.
  52. A small child asks a hero if that is a real sword/mace/magic wand they're carrying.
  53. A bride or groom comes running out of a temple and asks the heroes if they will be witnesses to their marriage.
  54. A hustler follows the heroes down the block, offering to sell real black lotus extract for only 10 gold coins.
  55. Someone approaches the party and relates a long, complicated story of how he/she was robbed and now needs to borrow money to buy passage home to a distant city, where his/her young children are waiting. If the heroes suggest contacting the watch the "victim" will spin an excuse and answer questions much more evasively.
  56. A hopeful artist is making portraits of anyone willing to stand as a model. She has several pieces laid out for demonstration. One of the portraits may be a person for whom the heroes are searching.
  57. In a crowded street, a beggar sits quietly with a sad dog at his side. No one seems to be intent on dropping a coin.
  58. A drunk urinates just inside a nearby alley.
  59. A young couple is romancing on a haystack behind a stable.
  60. From an open window you can hear, and later see, a 10- year-old girl playing the harp rather well.
  61. On a corner a human minstrel with a lyre, a dwarf playing an assortment of wooden buckets, and three tieflings singing in harmony are making fairly good music for an impromptu band.
  62. A flustered midwife drops her groceries.
  63. A town crier and noble courier are getting into an argument.
  64. A temple's bells sound the hour.
  65. A man pushes two racks of dresses out of a seamstress shop.
  66. An exotically dressed woman walks away from the market square. Following her is a small group of people carrying her parasol, a wax tablet, and stacks of parcels.
  67. A series of loud banging noises come from a nearby construction project.
  68. An unwashed child runs up behind a wagon, jumps onto the back, and rides without the driver's knowledge.
  69. In a small park, recruiters for the watch demonstrate weapons techniques for a group of youngsters. Several passersby idly look on.
  70. The delicious scent of roasted meat wafts from an eatery the heroes pass.
  71. A cart selling "roasted rat on a stick" is on the corner. The proprietor looks surprised as someone dressed in noble attire strolls up and orders one with honey sauce.
  72. An older man is selling dramatic masks on the street for wearing or decoration.
  73. A drummer practices on the street corner in front of a shop.
  74. A group of clerics pray aloud in a nearby park.
  75. An innkeeper and scullery boy hang a sign over their door, using two rickety ladders.
  76. An elite clergyman rides down the street in a horse- drawn carriage.
  77. Three well-dressed women, who apparently just met, are taking off their shoes and showing them to each other.
  78. An old man flies a kite in the town square.
  79. A diplomat, resplendent in highly-polished armor and riding a stately, dapple-gray stallion, leads his personal guard toward the city's largest military installation.
  80. A wedding cake is being moved from the pastry chef's bakery to a temple; several people have stopped to form a human shield between pedestrians and the five layer monstrosity, but the people carrying the cake are not very strong.
  81. A group of obvious foreigners, accompanied by their dragoman, passes the party.
  82. A pack of somewhat domestic dogs run about as their ancestors did. A few moments before, the heroes might have seen the massive cat they are chasing.
  83. A courier, dressed in the livery of a local noble house, runs past the party.
  84. A half-shaven man runs from a nearby barber shop; the barber appears in the shop's doorway, throwing bent (fake) coins at the man while shouting obscenities.
  85. A gaudily-dressed courtesan, draped with cheap costume jewelry, approaches the heroes and inquires about where they are staying.
  86. A scraggly-looking stray cat hisses at the heroes from a nearby alley.
  87. A townsman, smelling strongly of horse manure, shuffles past the party. He grimaces at any comments made about the smell, and quickens his pace as he walks away from the party.
  88. Traffic on the street stops as a funeral procession crosses the heroes' path.
  89. A wagon is pulled up into a nearby alley. The top half of the wagon's back is open and is serving as a stage for a troupe of puppeteers. They are performing a very political play.
  90. Someone dumps a bucket full of wet, runny garbage onto the street below; the refuse may or may not hit one of the heroes.
  91. A porter wheels a barrow, filled with sacks of flour, toward the heroes. His destination is a nearby bakery, if anyone cares to ask.
  92. A group of drovers leads a flock of sheep or herd of cattle down the street. Everyone hurries to get out of the way.
  93. A tax collector, traveling with a retinue of six watchmen and an enormous personal bodyguard, is visiting each business on the street. One of the guards wheels a barrow containing a locked strongbox, which is engraved with the city's coat of arms.
  94. An ambassador, carried in a sedan chair by four heavily- muscled men and flanked with Imperial Legionnaires, makes his way toward a government building.
  95. A noblewoman is having her portrait painted in the park.
  96. A half-dozen laborers walk down the street; they are obviously employed in the town's primary industry. While they take notice of the heroes, none of them speak to the party.
  97. A man dressed in a pointed hat and long robes, both of which are embroidered with moons and stars, approaches the heroes and asks if they can help him find his pet cat, Whiskers. Whether Whiskers is truly missing, or if this chance meeting is a pretense to ambush the heroes in an alley, is up to the discretion of the game master.
  98. The heroes see what appears to be the dried remains of a large bloodstain on the cobblestones. Any passerby asked about the stain look furtively at the heroes, then quickly walk away.
  99. The heroes hear a baby crying in a nearby building.
  100. A man approaches the heroes, offering to hire them as funeral mourners.

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Strolen's Feature Article: Cult Generation 

by Kuseru Satsujin, with permission from Strolen's Citadel.

These guidelines are in the form of twenty questions to help the game master formulate a cult for use in their settings. This guide is designed for use with any genre, and is not limited to fantasy settings. While originally designed for groups outside of the normal religious channels, they can be easily adapted for use in creating full blown religions.

For game purposes, cults are usually small, secret, religious organizations with affiliations to archaic or obscure mythos and various cultural or fictional pantheons.

Cults don't have to be evil, though they may be categorized as dangerous or destructive. Examples of cults would be a group that worships Cthulhu, or the Church of Dionysus.

1) What is the name of the cult?

This question is one of the most important tools in creating a cult. While there may be an idea for the cult, without a name, it's just an idea. This step allows you to begin the basis for all steps for all other aspects of the cult.

Sometimes it's difficult to come up with a name without defining some other aspects of the cult, so don't fret if you can't think of one immediately. Also, many cults have nicknames that are used to identify the cult or its cultists.

2) When was the cult started, by whom, and why?

Not everyone is going to care about this little section of information on the cult; however, by answering the question you can get a good feel for the cult's various policies and history and the how and why of the cult.

3) What is the cult's history?

Since this can be unknown, even to the cult itself, it's not as important as the other factors. It does let you add some flavor to the cult, though, by giving it a background within the setting.

4) What are the beliefs of the cult, who or what do they worship?

While not all cults worship someone or something per se, they may revere particular objects or worship someone.

5) What does it take to get into the cult?

This covers the rites, rituals, or sacrifices that must be made for entrance into the cult.

6) Where can the cult be found?

This would include the cult's headquarters, if it has one, but primarily applies to where the cult operates. Additionally, there might be holy places, sacred lands, places of power, and cult strongholds.

7) What is the cult's symbology?

Symbology includes apotropiac symbols, insignia, markers, and vestments specific to that group. Many cults have apotropiac emblems (holy symbols, fetishes, amulets, talismans and the like) which represent them and are worn by most or all members.

Insignia are distinguishing badges worn by members of the group, and may include crests, badges, sigils, seals, coats of arms, roundels, ensigns, flags, badges, cockades, patches, emblems, icons, symbols or logos.

Markers may include unique hairstyles, tattoos, war cries, distinctive pronouncements, and/or ritual scarring. Specific vestments or costumes, along with other accouterments may also be worn.

8) Does the cult have any notable literature?

Notable literature includes books, artwork, and specialized languages.

Holy books can include a canon or bible, hymnal, prayer book, scroll, magical manuscript, ancient codex, pictorial incunabulum, accounting ledger, astronomical almanac, technical manual, as well as advertising brochures or flyers or informative pamphlets.

Artwork includes paintings, sculptures, statues, tapestries, drawings, mosaics, figurines, as well as other odds and ends. Specialized languages may include an argot, cant, or liturgical language.

9) Does the cult have any artifacts?

Artifacts can include relics, magical items, magical weapons or armor, or other items of interest or special meaning to the cult.

10) What practices does the cult have?

This question covers the doctrine, rights, ceremonies, sacrifices, customs, duties, rites, rituals, and restrictions specific to the organization.

Doctrine is the principle position of that system of belief. Rights are the abilities and powers gained as a member of the group, particularly the rights to perform spiritual guidance, enact marriage ceremonies, oversee funerals, engage in omen-reading, the right to a trial by the church instead of civil authorities, coronation of nobles and royalty, and the ability to collect tithes.

Ceremonies are formal acts prescribed by convention, protocol, or ritual.

Sacrifices are the destruction or surrender of a service, object, or being as an act of worship, the most common forms include abstinence, animal sacrifice, effigies, enslavement, fasting, human sacrifice, incense or oil burning, labor, libations, votive or monetary offerings, self-mutilation, and labor to the organization.

Customs are common practices among the group, in this case, primarily social interactions and physical acts on the part of the members of the cult.

Duties are those obligations that members of the organization must perform.

Rites are ceremonial activities performed by cult members.

Rituals are ceremonial observances performed in a precise manner.

Restrictions are limitations on the activities of the group members or specific requirements in their behavior and/or appearance.

11) What is the composition of the cult?

In many cases, cults are composed of specifically limited membership. This can include gender limitations, racial limitations, as well as limitations based on social or economic status.

12) Is it a known cult, or is it secret? If secret, why?

Secrecy plays an important part in deciding several factors of the cult. Cults that are secret tend to keep their activities hidden and the cultists are more constrained by the need for secrecy. Known cults do have secret operations and activities, but they also perform a more visible role in achieving their policies and goals.

13) How wealthy is the cult?

This covers the assets of the cult, including both money and property. A poor cult will tend to rely on begging or donations to fund its activities, and may not possess any property, thus being reduced to wandering.

Inadequately funded cults may have threadbare clothing and paraphernalia, with run-down property in need of repair.

Adequately funded cults tend to have basic clothing and property, with few embellishments.

Affluent cults generally have higher quality clothing and property which is well-kept.

Wealthy cults are embodied by rich clothing and property well decorated in precious metals and gemstones.

14) How large is the cult?

This covers how many members are in the organization.

Denominations tend to be tiny organizations where all adherents agree on the beliefs and practices.

Faiths are small groups devoted to a particular practice or institution.

A sect is an offshoot of another religion that has one or more disparate beliefs that set them apart from the rest of the religion.

Churches are large, generally public, religious bodies.

Religions tend to be the major national or regional religious group, often the officially recognized religion of the nation or region.

15) Who leads the cult and how is it organized?

Who is in charge of the cult and why, and how is the cult organized - as opposed to composed?

We've already mentioned who makes up the cult; now we want to know how the cult functions as a group.

Is there a sole leader, group of elite, law-based control, no control, or voting system?

Is the cult organized on a cell basis, or a religious/military/business/feudal hierarchy?

16) What is the cult's agenda?

There can be many goals for a cult. Some cults seek nothing more than a tax break from the government. Others are devoted to the worship of a specific deity, location, or object.

Altruistic cults pursue the goal of bettering people. Anarchists aim for the abolishment of external control by authorities over their actions. Some groups espouse the superiority of their race, gender, or creed.

Engaging in criminal activity is the focus of some cults. Profit gathering, while present in most cults, does not always form the cult's primary agenda, but it can. Certain charismatic leaders form cults to feed their own ego or desire for power.

Doomsday cults, for whatever reason, believe an apocalypse is coming, and they either want to help bring it about, or they want to focus on coming through the event better off than they were. Utopian cults spring up from the desire for a group of people to enter or create an idealized society.

Many cults however, seek to gain power in some form or another, examples of which include gaining political or magical power, establishing theocratic control over a region, converting the religion they've splintered off from to their beliefs, converting everyone to the same religion, and gaining world domination.

17) What are the activities of the cult?

A wide variety of activities are performed by different cults. Overall, the cult will have one activity that is its primary mission or function.

Typical activities of cults include celebrating particular events, eliminating foes, searching for enlightenment, proselytizing, providing spiritual guidance, ruling an area, judging the law, arbitrating agreements, summoning and/or worshiping particular entities.

In addition, this question identifies the cult's spectacular mission successes or failures, ongoing activities, past activities, and other activity.

18) Who are the cult's allies?

Pretty straightforward - are there any groups or organizations allied to the cult?

19) Who are the cult's enemies?

Like allies, enemies are also simple; what organizations or groups oppose the cult and its works?

20) Who are the NPCs worthy of note within the cult?

This is a final step after all other areas of the cult have been considered and the cult has been designed. Several NPCs should be created to help breathe life into the cult.

The cult's creator (if still alive), cult master or leader, and several supporting officers or officials should be created. Support characters include clergy with specific duties, security leaders, as well as other cult leaders, and possibly some NPCs for remote areas of the cult. The latter types of NPCs can be created for individual adventures, rather than at the start of cult creation.

 

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Johnn Four's GM Guide Books 

In addition to writing and publishing this e-zine, I have written several GM tips and advice books to inspire your games and to make GMing easier and fun:

Inns, Taverns, and Restaurants - new

How to design, map, and GM fresh encounters for RPG's most popular locales. Includes campaign and NPC advice as well, plus several generators and tables

Adventure Essentials: Holidays

Advice and tips for designing compelling holidays that not only expand your game world but provide endless natural encounter, adventure, and campaign hooks.

GM Mastery: NPC Essentials

Critically acclaimed and multiple award-winning guide to crafting, roleplaying, and GMing three dimensional NPCs for any game system and genre. This book will make a difference to your GMing.

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