Monday, November 12, 2012

Fast Prep with Personality

Last week I was ridiculously busy. I was racing towards a gallery opening at work, getting the house reorganized after our epic Halloween shenanigans, buying birthday presents for my niece, working on the weekend, fending off a creeping cold and generally not doing any prep for my usual Wednesday game. By the time my group decided that we were absolutely going to play, it was already Wednesday morning. This left me with my lunch break to come up with a plan for tackling the night's adventures.

Now, I've done short-prep games before, but at less than an hour this was by far the shortest. I knew I needed to be fast and to prep ONLY THE THINGS I WOULD NEED TO SURVIVE!

I decided to stick with my typical strategy for quick-prep games and start with the characters involved. The previous session, my players had rescued a group of slaves from some hobgoblin mercenaries and had taken one of the hobs prisoner. I knew that the party would likely want to get information out of the various NPCs and to get the slaves back to safety.

The first thing I did was figure out the makeup of the group of slaves. This consisted of single sentence or even single word descriptions of their appearance, occupation and, of course, their names. I made sure to throw some variety into the group and to use the characters to establish some potential conflict points. How do the slaves react to their former captors? What condition are the various slaves in? I wrote some of these points down, but just kept others in mind. When nothing was written, I used the character's brief description to establish a likely personality.

and that was it. That was my prep.

Granted, certain other things made additional prep unnecessary. My players had stated their intent to retrace their steps through a previously traversed cave system, so I didn't need to plot out new locations. They had also left a couple obstacles in their path, including a cave full of previously turned undead.

By focusing on the characters first. The fast-prep game became a really engaging escort mission. Jittery slaves on the verge of madness tried to flee or went catatonic, the mercenary prisoner made an unsuccessful escape attempt, and the undead very nearly took out several of the players' precious cargo. I felt that creating varied personalities for each of the NPCs made all the difference in the world. The session wouldn't have been nearly as engaging if the players were simply escorting slaves 1-7.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Work plug: Into the Twitterverse

Update: my idiot self added a restricted image link... here's one that shows up.

Are you a twit? Have you ever twat? if the answer to either of those questions is either, "yes!" and/or "WTF you talkin' 'bout Spork!?" You might consider tuning in for my first ever professional TweetUp.

I may be a fantasy RPG nerd by night, but by day I make a living as a spaceflight nerd. Apparently this qualifies me as a "museum expert". I have been asked to join a panel of fellow "experts" discussing the opening of my museum's new gallery, which features the Space Shuttle Full Fuselage Trainer. So, if you like tweeting, or Space Shuttles, or have an Anime-like obsession with training, you might want to check it out.

For reference, my Twitter handle is @Geoff_n in case anyone feels like following my occasional 140 character brain farts.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Mash-ups 2: Super Smash!

Even though only a couple folks chimed in on last week's first Monday Mash-up, the conversation in the comments produced some great ideas for characters that left my brain buzzing all week. Therefore, I'mma do it all over again now!

This week's mash-up theme is super heroes and, more specifically, their alter egos:

I love alternate universe and spin-off comic plot lines, and one of my favorites is the Marvel 1602 mini-series.

If you aren't familiar with it, the series places several well known Marvel comic book characters in the world of the late Elizabethan period. Sir Nicholas Fury is the Queen's intelligencer, Carlos Javier is a monk running a school for gifted youth... you get the picture.

I also had the privilege of playing in a Song of Ice and Fire campaign that included NPCs based on super hero alter egos. I recall burining down a bandit camp run by Oliver Queen. Anyway, here is my example to get you all started:

Ayric Lensherr
Sorcerer (Electromancer) Level 10.
Ayric's comes from a racial minority group, who have periodically been subjected to pogroms undertaken by the despotic ruling families of the realms. After witnessing his parents' deaths during one such purging and upon discovering his unique sensitivity to magic, Ayric became determined to use his strength against all who would seek to oppress or control him. Now, faced with a new threat by those seeking to purge the influence and control of magic users from the land, Ayric has hatched a plan to turn the tables and exert his powers over his enemies.

Spell list
I envision skinning all of these spells as some sort of manipulation of either metal or electro-magnetic energy.
L0: Resistance, Detect Magic, Read Magic, Daze, Dancing Lights, Mage Hand, Touch of Fatigue, Open/Close, Arcane Mark
L1: Tensers Floating Disk, Shocking Grasp, Feather Fall, Shield, Hold Portal
L2: Resist Energy (electricity), Glitterdust, Shatter, Knock
L3: Hold Person, Lightning Bolt, Fly
L4: Globe of Invulnerability (lesser), Rainbow Pattern
L5: Telekenesis

Okay, now it's your turn! No need to be as detailed as mine, but go!

Oh, and feel free to add to last week's post as well if the fancy strikes you.

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