Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Underhanded Goblin Tactics!

I wrote this up and I think I cribbed big parts of it from a Dragon magazine article about orcs but goblins work just as well.

  1. Mounted on monsters (take your pick) 
  2. Throw a  skunk at party 
  3. Roll boulders downhill at PCs 
  4. A non-goblin ally leads the PCs into an to ambush 
  5. Wave torches at mounts to spook them 
  6. Dig pits in the area of the ambush 
  7. Nets slug in the trees 
  8. Lots of Goblin bowman at very long range 
  9. Ravine high advantage and cover 
  10. Hidden spears set for a charge 
  11. Grease has been spread on ground 
  12. Throw sacks of pepper 
  13. All the goblins have poisoned weapons or other cursed weapons 
  14. Sneak in at night while party sleeps 
  15. Wear out a party over several days with hit and run tactics don’t let the party sleep.  
  16. A number of goblins dress up like other monster (worse have prisoners dressed up like this) 
  17. Hostage children used as shields 
  18. Pet monster 
  19. Feign an attack on non-goblin allies 
  20. Tripwires in the underbrush 
  21. Bows fire then back away,   
  22. Muddy ground soaked with oil, then set on fire 
  23. Goblin with class levels
  24. Drugged wine is left for the PCs
  25. Green leaves on goblin cookpot fires makes dense smoke downwind of the camp 
  26. Non-goblin allies or just Hired Mercenaries to fight the party 
  27. Goblins are concealed in water, breathing through reeds, leap out of the water (surprise)! 
  28. Change up the goblin feats to give them a new trick or two
  29. Use large weapons two-handed which deal more dmg 
  30. Cause an Avalanche over a mountain trail 
  31. Doctored a spring with a sweet tasting drug 
  32. Goblin Dogs (or other monster) to serve as guardians and trackers 
  33. Goblins have aerial support from goblins mounted on flying creatuers like giant wasps 
  34. Goblins use flaming arrows 
  35. Shield wall with Tower shields 
  36. Palisade must cross grants cover 
  37. Goblins arches firing from a boat in a nearby river or lake 
  38. Goblins scatter caltrops 
  39. Logs soaked with flaming tar are rolled down hills at the Pcs 
  40. Sacks filled with angry snakes are tossed into the PCs camp at night 
  41. Dismounting rope across the path of retreat to get mounted pursuers.  
  42. The Goblins have spread bear traps throughout the underbrush 
  43. An eatchen cave underneath the trail they collapse it deep pit with loose earthen walls (that may collapse) 
  44. Off handed weapon use 
  45. Clad in rusty but functional plate mail 
  46. Goblink bowmen on a grove atop the nearby hill each archer has a stuffed dummy next to him 
  47. The goblins have a mascot templated Creature be creative. 
  48. Bull roarer that make horses nervous 
  49. Grappling Goblins no fencing with them (or other combat maneuver like feint)
  50. catapult in the brush on a mountain? 
  51. Ditch filled with tar then set on fire to form a barrier 
  52. A non-goblin ally with pigsblood and dressed as a merchant concealed poison dagger 
  53. dark rainy night cuts down on torches 
  54. A non-goblin ally joints the party! (a traitor)
  55. Climb trees firing from the safety of high branch 
  56. Brush and forest fire in dry weather 
  57. War Wagon arrow slits and wet hides 
  58. Trap of a flaming barricade and the goblins fire over it with bows 
  59. A false treasure map lures victims into an ambush
  60. the goblins cause herd animals to stampede in the party (cattle, elephants, dinosaurs!) 
  61. Twice as many goblins as PCs they fight in pairs one all out defense the other attacking (Teamwork feats)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Need More Love! (PFRPG)

There are over 3,000 Pathfinder Compatible Products out there, and some of them are very well known like Tome of Horrors complete, Razor Coast, Way of the Wicked, the Midgard Campaign Settings, the Genius Guide to the Time Thief, even my own 1001 Spells. But what I wanted to do was point you at some of the unknown greats out there, products not produced by me, diamonds in the rough, products that Need More Love! (In no particular order)

Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting and Undersea Sourcebook
Why It's Good: A unique and interesting all-aquatic campaign, does a thorough job of converting existing RPG tropes, equipment, and mechanics to a plausible-sounding undersea civilization (ink comes from "milked" squids, fire spells manifest as boiling geysers, etc), and has the best rules I've seen for 3 Dimensional Combat. Some of the best artwork out there for Pathfinder, pretty to look at.
Buy This If... You enjoy new RPG experiences especially under the waves, and want good material for undersea adventures in traditional campaign settings.
Paizo Link. 

Conflict PvP: Tactics & Teams Rulebook
Why It's Good: An extensive system for tournament-style player versus player matches, partially inspired by online MMOs. Incorporates various types of matches beyond just violent encounters, such as "capture the flag" retrievals, who can gather the most treasure in a time limit, and takes into account caster/noncaster disparity by offering options to help bridge the gap (terrain which launches a person into the air to melee a flying opponent, spells with long casting times are off-limits, etc).
Buy This If... You want to pit your character-building skills against your fellow players in an "arena" environment.
Drive-Thru RPG Link.
Paizo Link (Hardcover Only) 

The Road to Revolution: The Campaign (PFRPG) PDF
Why its good, planned by Tim Hitchcock with maps by Mario Barbati, You have Adam Daigle (who now works for paizo) Liz Courts (who does too), Tim Hitchcock (if you don't know him you should) Lou Argesta (of razor coast fame), Rone Barton, John Ling, Greg Oppedisano, and Brendan Victorson
Buy this if you want to run A urban adventure path levels 1-16
Paizo Link 
I am sure there is a printer version, I forgot where though.

Why its good Purple duck games is an unsung trooper of Pathfinder 3PP, they do a lot of cool stuff but I love templates so a series that puts a new template (which multiplies your monsters, as green ronin says) on the same creature gets my thumbs up and needs more love.
Buy this if you like good monster templates or love otyughs!
Paizo Link

Snow White
Why its good A lot gets said about Rise of the Drow but to me at its best is the Snow White trilogy. Solid writing, new twists on an very grim fariey tale, cartography by Todd Gamble, its great stuff.
Buy this if you like gothic faerie tales, and don't want to tell you players your doing it.
Paizo Link

Tournaments, Fairs, & Taverns 
Why its goodDrinking rules, in-universe games, and wizard football, its a best seller from the 3.0/3.5 days but it does not get much Pathfinder love and its a great book. If there was a complete Pathfinder conversion of War of the Burning Sky that would have got my vote though.
Buy This If you ever have your players in a tavern, attend a fair, or compete in a tournament. So really buy this because I bet thy ask where the tavern is.
paizo link

All Stars Take On the Mega Dungeon (PFRPG) 
Why its goodEd Greenwood, Monte Cook, Steven Schend (my first GM by the way), Brian Cortijo... nuff said.
Buy this if you ever run a dungeon you can loot it for great ideas even if you don't run it streat.
paizo link

Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
Why its good: Book of Beasts River Kingdom gets a lot of love, mostly because of kingmaker, but I like this better because these creatures can be dropped in anywhere, I also love that the creatures are presented with in character advice from Npcs who have encountered them. And we all know I love good flavor and good mechanics with a narrative.
Buy this if you like shadow magic or the plane of shadow is part of your games cosmology becuase like I said these can be in any campaign due to the plane of shadow touching all planes.
Paizo Link (in print and pdf)

Your Whispering Homunculus (PFRPG) 
Why Its Good:Because its Richard Pett writing game aids, on par with Raging Swan's Dungeon Dressing. Midguard gets a lot of love, as does the kobold's guides, but to me this is one of the things that Kobold Press has done for Pathfinder that needs more love.
Buy this if you want to help suspend your players disbelief in your game world.
Paizo Link (in print and pdf)

Horns of the Hunted (PFRPG) 
Why its good Because it is a plug in that makes the story of Kingmaker work better, it did something I had not seen before a plug in that did not just add on to the mechanics of a AP, but something that plugged into the story, and improved that story.
Buy this if Your running the Kingmaker adventure path
Paizo Link

NeoExodus: A House Divided Campaign Setting (PFRPG) 
Why Its Good: Amazing Art, Amazing Layout, solid writing and its not a Lord of The Rings clone there are no elves, dwarves, halflings etc. NeoExodus is a truly unique campaign setting everyone should read.
Buy this if your like pretty books and your tired of the same old same old.
Paizo Link

A Necromancer's Almanac: 2012 (PFRPG)
Why Its Good: Necromaners of the Northwest make some of the best free stuff out there, and they are incredibly prolific so a collection of a whole year is just damn perfect.
Buy This If you enjoy a grab bag of cool stuff like a dragon magazine annual.
Paizo Link

Children of Wyrms 
Why Its Good: - The layout and artwork in this book is Glorious. It also delves into the metalic half-dragon's background and ecology in a way I love, so much so I wanted more, but its not a players book to me its a GMs book, but I love it for that very reason.
Buy This If You want to have metallic half-dragons play a major role in your campaign.
DrivehtruRpg Link

All That Glitters 
Why Its Good: Raging Swan Does dungeon dressing like no one's business but you won't always need it, In a standard fantasy adventure you will need treasure, and who wants boring old treasure.
Buy This If: You want to have treasure hoards that evoke awe and wonder. 

Darkness Without Form: Secrets of the Mimic (PFRPG)
Why Its Good: This is a great and useful monster ecology created by Clinton J. Boomer and Matt Banach. Plust its from Sean K. Reynolds games.
Buy This If: you like to make use of Mimics.
Paizo Link

Rhune: The Stormpunk Character Primer (PFRPG)
Why Its Good: Storm Bunny Studios is the poster child of need mores love, they make some of the highest quality books and yet no one seems to know about them, so here I give you something free, but you should really check out all the stuff.
Buy This If: you like FREE!
Paizo Link

Genius Guide to the Templar
Why Its Good: Owen K.C. Stepens has made so much good stuff (I am looking at you Time Thief) but one that does not get enough love but gets asked for all the time is alternate alignment paladins, well its been sitting here all the time in the form of the Template.
Buy This If: want to play divine warriors who are not Lawful Good
Paizo Link

Super Genius Presents: The Vile Magic of Argonax the Mad (PFRPG)
Why Its Good: Owen K.C. Stepens get's a lot of prop for his mechanics but here is an exmaple of his skills with fluff and why I consider him one of the best Game Designer's alive.
Buy This If: you want to make artifacts.
Paizo Link

Forgotten Foes 
Why Its Good: Really high quality writing, design and even Lore DCS for you monsters for a bunch of monsters that were not included in the Pathfinder Rpg, with really great art.
Buy This If: like a great monster book.
Paizo Link in print and pdf

It Came From the Stars Campaign Guide 
Why Its Good: Amazing art, and some of the best writers in the industry who have both written for me and written for paizo: John Bennett, Clinton J. Boomer, Chuck DiTusa, Scott Gable, Michael Kortes, Colin McComb, Richard Pett, John Pingo, David Schwartz, and Mike Welham
Buy This If: you like hellboy and other lovecraftian goodness.
Paizo Link in print and pdf

Tome of Horrors 4 
Why Its Good: Its from the same folks who brought you tome of horrors complete, but it has better full color art!
Buy This If: like a solid monster book.
Paizo Link in print and pdf

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

City of Spells: Animate Object

 Line Art: Jesse Robidas

Colorist : Brittney Lezon

I, Owain Northway can tell you that the spell animate object sees a good bit of use in my hometown city of Questhaven especially in conjunction with the permanency spell. Popular items created by the Hornorable Order of Theurgic Master Craftsmen include a good number of animated and self-propelled vehicles. I have ridden in an animated carriage, heavy chariot, sleigh, heavy wagon, row boat, a few small sailing ships like cutters and sloops plus a very rare animated rare glider. 

Mathena the Maker, Child of Tituk of the line of Tu;  a female gargoyle and Artisan of Hallowed Vessels in service to Our Grand Wright in Heaven is extremely well known for creating some of the most interesting animated objects in the whole of the Protectorate. She often grants her objects the ability to burrow, fly, climb or swim so as to surprise trespassing members of the Questor’s Society such as myself. Some of the more knowledgeable folk I have consulted on this matter say she has also learned the art of creating life-spark constructs and given her creations free will and sentience, while others simply follow instructions of those who know the proper command words while others fallow intricate or simple preset directives

There are however a few problems holding back the more widespread use of animated objects. Their their ability to follow only limited commands, the unreliability of sentient constructs and the cultural considerations of slavery of sentient creatures especially amongst the ironborn. However many of the rich favor them as modes of transportation due to their continuous function and their lack of the need to feed an animated object, some have started recently to use them in milling and other repetitive tasks, though theft of objects is common once the command words are learned, so the expense causes further issues.  

The following list below is formed from some of the more interesting animated objects I have encountered in my journeys:

  1. Altar
  2. Archway
  3. Armchair
  4. Armoire
  5. Armor (what type)
  6. Ashtray
  7. Astrolabe
  8. Bardic Instruments
  9. Basket
  10. Bed
  11. Bench
  12. Book
  13. Bookcase
  14. Boots (slippers, shoes; swarms)
  15. Bowls (swarm)
  16. Bouncing Ball
  17. Brazier
  18. Broom
  19. Bucket
  20. Caltrops (swarm)
  21. Cage
  22. Cauldron
  23. Chair
  24. Chains (metal type)
  25. Chamber Pot
  26. Chandelier
  27. Chest
  28. Church Bell
  29. Cloak
  30. Closet
  31. Coffin (normal, ornate)
  32. Coins (swarm, metal type)
  33. Crystal Skull
  34. Curtains
  35. Desk (simple, ornate, rolltop)
  36. Dog House
  37. Dog Choker Chain
  38. Door (Iron, Stone, Wooden)
  39. Drinkware (glass, stein, cup, flask etc; swarm)
  40. Fireplace
  41. Floor
  42. Floor Tiles (Material Type)
  43. Floor Grating (Metal Type)
  44. Footstool
  45. Forgefire
  46. Fountain
  47. Grindstone
  48. Guillotine
  49. Hammer and Anvil
  50. Hangman’s Scaffold
  51. Haystack (Swarm)
  52. Holy Symbol (Huge or Smaller, choose material)
  53. Incense Burner
  54. Iron Maiden
  55. Logs (small kindling to massive yule log)
  56. Marbles (swarm)
  57. Mirror
  58. Net
  59. Obelisk
  60. Pallet
  61. Pants
  62. Painting
  63. Pedal Harp
  64. Petrified Creature
  65. Piano
  66. Pillars
  67. Pillory
  68. Pillow
  69. Pipe Organ
  70. Pipe (Smoking)
  71. Pitchfork
  72. Portcullis
  73. Potbellied stove
  74. Printing Press
  75. Plates (swarm)
  76. Rack (torture)
  77. Railing
  78. Rags (swarm)
  79. Rugs
  80. Sack
  81. Shield (type and material type)
  82. Sofa
  83. Spittoon
  84. Spirits (cask, keg, barrel)
  85. Statue (huge or smaller, metal or stone)
  86. Stairs
  87. Stuffed Animal (kids toy, or taxidermy)
  88. Table (banquet or small)
  89. Tapestry
  90. Throne
  91. Torch
  92. Trap (Mechanical)
  93. Tub
  94. Utensils (metal type, swarm)
  95. Vise (torture)
  96. Wall (material type)
  97. Weapon (melee/ range, type, and material type)
  98. Wheel (torture)
  99. Wine Press
  100. Workbench

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Steve Tool's: Evocative Enviorments

Ajanta Caves

I do a lot of work as an author, game designer, art director, layout artist, and publisher.

So I am here to post some more of the tools I use. This time lets look at some of the real world inspiration I use to help design more evocative locations than a 10x10 room with a chest in it.

The 33 Most Beautiful Abandoned Places In The World - Imgur

Weird and Exotic Places on Earth

Evocative Places

22 Unbelievable Places that are Hard to Believe Really Exist


Steve's Other Tools

Steve's Tools: Adventure Design 

Steve's Tools: Encounter Design

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Game Masters are better than any game designer.

Game Masters you have the ability to go over every encounter and make sure each Player Character has a chance to hold the spotlight and shine. 

You can do this simply by having a copy of the PCs character sheet to look over as you design. Asking PCs to keep a Google document updated with their Character sheet or perhaps saved in a shared Dropbox.  Regardless even an out of date character sheet is still better than none.

This is because it allows you to ad pieces to your adventures. If say the PC has ranks in craft (underwater basket weaving) or knowing that a PC can take a 20 and unlocks a particularly hard door that no one else could get through. You will know if the PCs can bypass a prismatic wall or not, because they have the right set of spells or if you need to drop a wand with gust of wind into the game, and give to the last person to have it the PCs would expect. Or knowing that a PC has the Improved Sunder or Improved Disarm feat means you should put in few encounters with natural weapons and include more manufactured weapons, because again this puts the spotlight on the PC.

If you want to challenge them or humble them, make it so things get harder if they don’t make a successful use of a skill the PC ignore. I once had an amazing encounter with a bard who was running a printing press and had high ranks in sense motive. My PCs had tons of secrets that they did not want the john Q public knowing and the bard just came in and asked the PCs questions never threatening them, or accusing them of anything. The PCs and no ranks in Bluff and many of the PCs used Charisma as a dumb stat. It was basically role-played that they were using blatant lies. We still laugh about it; they could have killed the bard ten times over but failed to convince her of a single thing.

You can have a bad adventure but if your players feel like their characters were awesome they will still have fun, and that is the true goal.  

There is no wrong way to have fun, but there is a Rite Way ;)


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tabletop Rpg Kickstarter Numbers for 2013

Some interesting numbers
Top Tabletop Roleplaying Kickstarters for 2013

1.       Onyx Path's Deluxe Exalted 3e ($684,755; 4,368 backers), 
2.      Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu 7e ($561,836; 3,668 backers), 
3.      Evil Hat's Fate Core ($433,365; 10,103 backers), 
4.      Monte Cook Games' The Strange ($418,478; 2,883 backers); 
5.      Modiphius' Achtung! Cthulhu (£177,557; 1,972 backers), 
6.      Onyx Path's Demon: The Descent ($150,235; 2,076 backers), 
7.      Cubicle 7's Cthulhu Britannica: London (£90,412, 753 backers), 
8.      Agate Editions' Shadows of Esteren: Travels ($137,024; 951 backers); 
9.      Kobold Press' Deep Magic ($126,031; 1,927 backers); 
10.    Flying Buffalo's Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls ($125,440; 1,638 backers);
11.     Frog God Games' Razor Coast ($123,366; 709 backers); 
12.    Posthuman Studio's Transhuman ($117,965; 1,898 backers); 
13.    Onyx Path's Changing Breeds ($114,155; 1,405 backers); 
14.    Chronicle City's Space: 1889 (£72,379; 1,025 backers); 
15.    Onyx Path's Mummy: The Curse ($104,831; 1,767 backers); 
16.    Frog God Games' The Lost Lands ($104,116; 526 backers).

Twice as many TabletopRpg Kickstarters topped $100,000; in 2013 compared to 8 the previous year.

Also note over 10,000 people signed for Evil Hat's Fate Core Kickstarter. 

I don't like pontificating about what it all means as I could probably never stop but I do find it encouraging