Two Guest Articles: Valentines For Your Valentine & Ritual Sacrifice

From Rebecca Laffar-Smith

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0168

A Brief Word From Johnn

D&D Module Nearly Fini

I’m just about finished a second-round edit of my first D&D module, which I’ve co-written with Jared Hunt. It’s an action adventure and should be quite entertaining to play. Plus, we’ve fooled around with the standard module format a bit, based on feedback I requested from you in a previous Tips Issue, to make it easier to GM. I’ve also added GM advice sections and other goodies.

We approached the project from a perspective of “how can we help GMs be more successful and have more fun at the game?” Hopefully we’ve supplied a few pieces of this puzzle with this module. It should be available in eBook format at in the near future!

I’m GMing Again

I’m finally setting my butt behind the screen again after too long a time away. Day job projects, this ezine, and personal commitments had me too busy in 2002 to keep up with regular gaming. Sheesh. I’m taking a KISS approach this time ’round, as I’m still a little too busy for in-depth planning. I’ll let you know how it goes and what I learn!


Johnn Four
[email protected]

Two Guest Articles: Valentines For Your Valentine & Ritual Sacrifice

Valentines For Your Valentine

I am proud to release this wonderful mail order catalogue of gifts for your loved one. All items are priced at special rates much cheaper than you could ever buy them elsewhere and many of the items available are very rare. Your loved one will treasure any gift you give but especially something chosen from the “Valentines For Your Valentine” catalogue.

  1. Philter of Love
    Does the love of your life not return your affection? Are they too involved with other things to attend you as you deserve? Just by consuming this tasty philter by fair means or foul your valentine can be enamored and finally realize their love and devotion to you.
  2. Leucrotta Antidote
    For those little accidents or bad mistakes when using the Philter of Love, or if you wish to avoid the philter’s effects, this antidote made from the saliva of the Leucrotta will quickly cure away your worries. No more affects from those love potions.
  3. Potion of Vitality
    No married couple or warrior with time off should be without one or six of these potions of Vitality. To revitalize your love life after the affects of time, sleeplessness, or exhaustion, or just for those times when things are just not looking up.
  4. Ring of Human Influence
    Even the most deformed and hideous human can pick up with this small trinket. You’ll become the wonder of anyone’s life and the most charismatic among all.
  5. Aurumvorax Fur Coat
    Your significant other will love you for this gloriously fine fur coat. Valued at 20,000 gold pieces, it is strong and durable as well as having beauty unsurpassed by any other garment. An added bonus, the wearer also receives great benefits against magic and mundane fire while using this garment as protection against attacks.
  6. Aurumvorax Decorations
    Carved from the teeth and claws of an Aurumvorax, these fine decorations, trinkets, and jewelery are valued at 1 gold piece each and will be highly treasured by any loved one.
  7. Fire Lizard Eggs
    Painted in uniquely beautiful colors, these fire lizard eggs are valued at 5,000 gold pieces. Many of them eventually hatch producing fire lizard hatchlings. Raise hatchlings as pets or sell them for 7,500 gold pieces. Fire lizards also aid in the protection against dragons.
  8. Lizard Man Scale Armour
    Valued at 1,500 gold pieces, your beloved adventurer will adore and treasure this finely crafted Lizard Man Scale Armour. Provides full body protection and is smooth and easy to move in.
  9. Crocodile Hide Boots
    Made from the tough leathery hide of crocodiles, these boots are very good in all conditions and are the height of fine fashion.
  10. Crocodile Hide Gloves
    Matched perfectly with the boots, these gloves are crafted from the softer but still strong hide of crocodiles. They are the perfect addition to any fashionable person’s collection.
  11. Giant Crab And Crayfish Meat
    A delicacy, the fine meat of these crustaceans provide a succulent and filling meal. Perfect when added with salad or in soup.
  12. Crabman Artifacts
    Crafted by the fine craftsmen of the Crabman community, these include seaweed weavings, driftwood carvings, and seashell ornaments. All are exquisitely hand crafted and beautiful, timeless pieces.
  13. Couatl Feather Hats
    Styled with the soft, fine, colorful feathers of the Couatl, these gorgeous hats are the entire rave in the places of high fashion.
  14. Cockatrice Feather Quills
    Wizards the world over often pledge hours of their lives searching for fine Cockatrice Feather Quills with which to pen their magical works. If you buy one for your beloved magic user those hours can be better spent in your arms.
  15. Cave Fisher Rope
    Thin and very strong, this rope is finely crafted from the filaments of cave fishers. It is nearly invisible and is perfect when one wants to leave little trace of their movements. Perfect for those loved ones in less lawful professions or those who require stealth.
  16. Cave Fisher Gel
    A substance that can be applied to boots and gloves, it increases traction for climbing and some reports tell of it actually allowing wearers to climb flat walls or ceilings. Any significant other will truly appreciate such a gift, especially in those times of need.
  17. Ivory Tusk Ornaments
    Beautiful decorations to enhance any home or office worth 600 gold pieces each and can be carved to any requested shape by our expert craftsmen.
  18. Robe Of Scintillating Colors
    Any intelligent man or woman will just adore this wondrous robe of scintillating colors. Its flowing gentle softness and array of rainbow colors dazzle the eye. The Robe of Scintillating Colors is a must for any fashion admirer and definitely a necessity in the closets of those with an intelligent mind.
  19. Eyes Of Charming
    These contact lenses can be tinted any color you like. Made from exquisite crystal and designed with the help of magic they can charm any beholder. When wearing these lovely Eyes of Charming lenses you just look into the eyes of those you love and they will love you all the more.
  20. Stone Of Good Luck
    Every person can use this powerful stone of Good luck. It does just as its name would have you assume, enhancing the bearer’s good luck dramatically. If your loved one is going away on another adventure you will surely want to help their chances of returning to you with one of these Stones.

This catalogue and the items and prices represented are completely fictional, no orders will be taken, no coins exchanged and all uses are in-character. Please don’t attempt to use any of these items or similar products without experience in such areas, and kids, don’t try this at home.

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Ritual Sacrifice

From Rebecca Laffar-Smith

Across this world, and throughout time, sacrifice has been a sacred religious practice. A number of religions, in part or whole, believed that sacrificing food, animals, and even humans to their chosen deity would appease their God/dess for any number of reasons. These sacrifices were completed in a variety of ways and each were thought to achieve any number of purposes. In a roleplaying world, we are left with a very open playing field in which to create all sorts of unique and entertaining contributions to the game.

  1. For Players: What Can You Get Out Of It?
    The concept of choosing a religion for your character in a role playing game is very common. Of course, every character can worship a chosen deity, not just the devout Clerics and Paladins, and doing so adds another dimension to the character’s background and personality. But it is rarely considered what following the teachings of a chosen God/dess or Pantheon could really mean and what aspects could be included in the game to enhance the storylines.

Following are just a few concepts and ideas to get you thinking of the multitude of variances one could consider in just this single area of religious worship:

  1. Show your love and devotion to your chosen deity by offering regular sacrifices of animals, birds, food, drink, floral arrangements or some other fruit of your labor. Offer grain or other fruit and vegetables for a return of fine harvest. Sacrifice milk to increase your own yield. Or give your deity eggs for improved fertility.
  2. Prove your dedication to your deity’s cause by sacrificing your meals and abstaining from food for a defined period of time. This has the added bonus of suffering for your religion, which would allow you to raise your awareness closer to realms in which your holy one resides.
  3. Offer a burnt offering to appease an angered God/dess. This could be animal or plant, depending on your PC’s beliefs, and is one of the fastest ways to return to favor.
  4. Dedicate each kill you make with your chosen weapon to your Creator. Doing this is sure to put you in the good graces of your Creator and might even allow you added advantages such as renewed spirit, life, or perhaps a truer aim.
  5. Presenting a sexually desirable pure virgin to your God/dess could improve your own situation and would surely be a very appreciated gift to show your piety.
  6. Choose an honorable death as a warrior who dies in battle or offer oneself as the sacrifice in a major ritual to reap the true benefits of your faith and devotion in the afterlife.
  7. Perhaps your character was born and raised in the knowledge that they would one day be a gift to the chosen God/dess. As such, they remain pure and wholesome towards the religion of your character’s choice and willing–or perhaps not so willing–to go under the blade when your character’s time comes.
  8. Leave a part of every meal for your higher power, or grace the soils with edible goods in the hopes of having a plentiful return.
  9. Appease your blood thirsty God/dess with gruesome sacrifices by taking a sharp blade to a human, humanoid, or monster upon the altar or burning them in a purifying holy fire.

These ideas can be just the beginning. Consider also other forms of worship or expand on the ideas already mentioned here.

  • For Dungeon Masters: Taking Sacrifice To The Next Level
    As a dungeon master, the concept of ritual sacrifice can be taken even further. Having read how a player could incorporate these ideas into their own characters, use any of the above concepts in addition to your own to enhance your NPCs.

Also consider the following:

  1. Have a contest of religion where two or more opposing temples make sacrifices to their chosen Lords in the hopes of proving which is the true deity.
  2. Have a community leader call for all first-born sons (or something like this) to be sacrificed in some way, to restore the God/dess/es favor to the community or its leader.
  3. A local cult is tossing innocents into a nearby volcano on the belief that feeding the volcano (and thus the God/dess), appeases the Creator and prevents earthquakes or eruptions.
  4. Ancient scriptures might be found telling of rituals that actually worked to bring the God/dess before their worshippers or of miracles of victims surviving or returning to life after sacrificing themselves.
  5. A regular festival where a part of the year’s harvest is given to the God/dess in thanks and in the hopes of an even more successful harvest next year.
  6. Strange illnesses falling upon a village, yet those of a particular religion are being spared for some mysterious, perhaps miraculous, reason.
  7. Miraculous healings and visions of the future coming after great sacrificial events, sometimes experienced by a multitude of worshippers and other times by individuals.
  8. Sacrificed dead rising and attempting to retaliate for their cruel fates.
  9. The livelihoods of farmers and other land workers threatened by strange cattle disappearances and mutilations.
  10. Mass murder and religious warfare waged upon entire cultures, brought about by a follower believing he hears his deity’ word or is doing his God/dess/es work.

Now we begin to see how one could really use sacrifice and other religious techniques to enhance parts of your game. We also realize that not just those already known to be religious fanatics can use these techniques. Anyone in your game might follow a God/dess in one form or another. In fact, I would probably not be to far off if I said that very few people would not follow a God/dess in one form or another.

There is a great well of inspiration to be drawn from historical accounts and I now leave it up to your own creativity to devise a way to incorporate sacrificial offerings into your next game.

Attention Game Publishers & Companies: THIS SPACE FOR RENT

Do you have a gaming-relating product that you’d like to tell 13,000 Game Masters about? Put your information and links here! The GM subscribers to this ezine have been very supportive of advertisers in the past and are open to learning more about your products, especially if they’re useful to roleplayers.

Contact me for rate information or if you have any questions. [email protected]

Tips From Roleplaying Tips Game Masters

Have a roleplaying tip you’d like to share? E-mail it to [email protected] – thanks!

The Price Of Labour

From Ashley H. & Members

Here’s a suggestion for spicing up merchant encounters:

The PCs walk into the shop of the most widely praised smith in the land, and slap down money for goods. The smith waves it away, and with a solemn wink says that he wants something else. But what he wants, well, that’s something completely strange, something one would think no one could give away.

There’s a contract involved–there always is. The PCs sign it, thinking either that they’ve won something for nothing from a mad smith, or that whatever they’ve just sold or promised to do isn’t worth as much as what they’ve just gotten. What’s the price?

Some suggestions:

  • A day’s worth of luck
  • The heart’s fire
  • The last breath of a vampire
  • The sixth finger of a sylph
  • Their soul (Always a favorite)
  • Their dexterity
  • Their voice
  • A week’s worth of sleep
  • Their peace
  • Their death
  • Their passage to heaven
  • Their nightmares
  • Their good dreams
  • Their firstborn child
  • Their grandfather’s spirit
  • Their mother’s last whisper
  • The scales from the wings of a demon
  • Fingers or thumbs (How are they going to wield that nice new sword?)
  • Their eyeteeth
  • A year of their life (Which one is up to you
  • Their sense of smell
  • The smith’s pain
[Request from Johnn: do you have any suggestions to add to this list? I think it’s a neat idea! [email protected]]
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The Cthulhu Search Engine

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Random Weather Excel Sheet

From Chris Adams

First off, thanks for such a great ezine. I can’t tell you how much I get out of every issue to apply to the campaign I DM. I thought it was time I give something back.

In Issue #128, you had a reader’s tip about weather and utilizing the Farmer’s Almanac. I’d like to do that one better! I put together an Excel spreadsheet that creates random weather. The great thing about this spreadsheet (if I do say so myself) is that it takes “trends” into consideration when determining the high and low temperatures of the day, as well as precipitation and wind speeds.

I created the spreadsheet for my own campaign, which is run in a temperate area not entirely unlike southern New England in the US. So the weather generated for each month of the year reflects that. If someone wants to alter the ranges to make it more desert-like, or arctic-like, that can be done on the second worksheet. The moon phases have to be altered manually based on user preference.

Your readers are welcome to download the file at:

Thanks again for a great ezine!

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Using The “Song of Ice and Fire” Series For Gaming

From Chris Youngblood

I noticed someone pointed out in your ezine that Lord of the Rings is used an awful lot as a game/world building resource. And, as he also pointed out, with the resurgence of the stories and materials in popular culture, things might get a bit repetitive or boring.

He’s right about that. I have since stopped using LoTR for the majority of information in my world and have switched over to George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series. The three books he has put out so far are incredibly rich in detail, religions, culture, and so on, and I have had enormous success in drawing upon it as a resource. I highly recommend it as a read, and I highly recommend it as a gaming resource.

I’ve done a couple different versions of Martin’s world so far. One is a blatant copy of the game world, down to the noble houses, map, events, and political standings. That one was, for obvious reasons, the easiest to work with.

When I started working on the more elaborate alternate versions of the campaign, I went to the expense of buying a second copy of the books and marking passages or sentences, taking notes in the margins, etc. I also have the advantage of working at a copy store, so I can get as many copies of materials I need, and this came in handy with the world map itself.

I wrote down all of the characters’ names according to whether they were important or secondary characters. Of course, this list changed extensively as the books went on, and the characters you thought were “important” rapidly moved to the “secondary” category (I also checked out the Milenix web site you mentioned a while back, and the MyInfo program has helped with this enormously :).

I also made some rather detailed notes in the MyInfo program regarding the Houses, the careers and classes of the people, the factions and political groupings, and so on.

Hope someone gets as much enjoyment out of using this material as I do.

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Does Yelling Work?

From Anthony M.

Just figured I’d write in and give a bit of a tip from my experience. I’m currently a player in a group of 7 other players and one DM. Things can get a bit crazy at times with such a large group and combat can tend to drag on when you’ve got 7 other people who have to take turns and then a horde of monsters who have 3 or 5 attacks each!

I’ve played with this group for about a year now. We’ve been under a couple of different DMs and had a smaller group originally. Right now the problem we’re having is that when it’s someone’s turn in combat other players start trying to give them advice or drop subtle hints as to what that player should do.

As a player myself I think this is ridiculous! Your action during a round represents 6 seconds of time in the game in which you can move, attack, cast a spell, etc. There is not enough time for three other people to all argue back and forth as to what YOU should do with YOUR character. Unfortunately, our DM sometimes says something and other times doesn’t, and he doesn’t always catch people trying to whisper or make hand signals or mouth something across the table.

Finally, the other day when it happened again with more than one person trying to tell another player what they should do on their turn, I just banged my fists on the table and shouted “ENOUGH! Let people make their own moves!” It shut everyone up. I’m also going to post in our private forums about the issue and maybe people will start behaving. Sometimes you’ve gotta rule with an iron hand. I can’t wait for my turn at DM this summer. I’m still waiting for my Jr. DM’s badge though. [Comment from Johnn: Thanks for the info Anthony. While I wouldn’t advise yelling as a standard operating procedure, I can see how a group needs a shock reminder for quiet and player respect from time to time–especially a large group– as excitement builds, chatter gets louder, and distractions increase.]

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Campaign Zine Examples

From Darien P.

One of your articles talked about campaign zines. This is something we do in our campaign, and since you asked for examples, here are a couple of zines in PDF format.

Campaign Zines PDF – CC4-39 (111k)
Campaign Zines PDF – CC4-45 (113k)

In my campaign, I have started farming out the session summaries to players on a rotating basis. The one who will write the session summary is called the “Chronographer.” That player steps up and takes better notes that session in order to make sure that they get the information needed for the ChronoCurrents. If that player is in an involved scene that will preclude note-taking, he just taps a temporary sub.

We have a copier here, so we make copies of everyone’s notes after the session and pass them to the Chronographer. (One of our players, who is a note-taking fanatic, dubbed himself the “Loremaster” with tongue in cheek when this tradition began, but the name stuck!) [Comment from Johnn: very cool zines Darien. Got a great laugh from the “Hubristic Bastard Tests Coke Emptiness” article!]