Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Holidays and Roleplaying

With it being Halloween, I thought it might be fun to talk about roleplaying on holidays.  Our friends and us always get together on Halloween, let the kids go trick or treating and we play board games.  We tried roleplaying, but with all the interruptions of giving out candy, it didn't work well. But if you do roleplay on Halloween or any other holidays here are some tips.

1) Food.  Have lots of it.  What is a holiday without food?  We usually get pizza, have cookies we can decorate and snacks a plenty.  I suggest some healthy food to off set the junk.

2) If you can't roleplay with your group, do board games.  You can chit chat, be interrupted by trick or treaters and still get some gaming done.

3)Do something special in game, if it fits with the plot.  A ball, a party, even a scary dungeon!

4) And most importantly, have fun!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

To Keep Time of Bloodhelm

This is a high end building with high end merchandise.  Clocks have been around for a long time, since before the founding of Tridon, but accurate clocks are often hard to come by.  Chase Vanderhoot is the most sought after clock maker in most of Tridon.  His clocks range from tiny, hand sized clocks, to tall clocks which stand taller then ogres.  Chase makes all the mechanisms and puts them together, while his daughter, Stella, makes all the casings like her uncle Ben did before he was tragically killed by bandits.  Chase also makes small clocks which can be put in the pocket to keep time.  They are hard to make and very expensive. Mostly only nobles can afford any of his clocks, but these pocket clocks are only had by the richest of nobles. 

Chase lives in a small estate not far from Bloodhelm with his daughter, wife Maria, and their two youngest sons.  His oldest son is learning the trade from his dad and figures when his father retires he and Stella will take over the business.  As much as he loves his sister he hopes she will find a good man to marry who will still let her work on the wood carving.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mother Mable of Bloodhelm

Every major city has an orphanage.  With war, attacks by humanoids and even just disease, there will always be orphans.  Most who lose their parents go to relatives, but some children just aren't that lucky.  In Bloodhelm, the city provides a small house for children run by Mother Mable.  She is a tall, imposing woman who never cracks a smile.  She runs her house with efficiency and expects everyone to toe the line, from smallest to oldest.  Bloodhelm gives her a small stipend plus living expenses for the orphans, which she has to make stretch, so few of her charges have hole-free clothes.  None go to trade schools or are apprenticed, but she does manage to get a teacher to come and teach her charges to read and do basic math.

Mable does not like her job, but because she is an unmarried woman of age, she has little in ways of prospects for anything else.  She knows many of her charges choose to live on the street instead of be with her, which she doesn't worry about.  She gets the same amount of money no matter how many orphans she has.  Mable also teaches her charges a few other skills, such as begging, pickpocketing and lock picking.  Being an orphan herself, once, she picked up skills and shows her charges how to do such things to help supplement her income.  She is not unkind to her charges, she just doesn't like them.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Encouraging Good Roleplaying

As a writer and fantasy reader, I love descriptions.  I know the mainstream novels are supposed to be fast paced, (we don't have time for your 3 page description of the city, people), but those of us fantasy readers we love a good description and lots of details, (hello, council of the elves in Lord of the Rings?).  Roleplaying is no different.  You are trying to put your players into your world, whether pre-made or home grown.  They want to know what the shifty eyed man in the corner looks like.  How pretty is that barmaid?  How high are those buildings in case my thief needs to make a mad dash across the roof tops?  You have to give your players something for their roleplaying eyes to see.  Here are a few suggestions.

1) Pre-make a few NPC descriptions, even if they are only flavor text to fill in the scene.  Players like that added touch and makes them wonder if that NPC is important or not.

2) Make up descriptions of the major buildings in your city.  I would definitely have the tavern made up they will inevitably go to, the manor or castle of the city and any place you want your PCs to go to.

3) Major items they will find should be described.  These include a quest item, weapons of great power, even trinkets they get as rewards.

Happy Gaming!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

History: The Creation of Martapa

Martapa, like all seven of its sister planets, were created out of the Void by the Gods.  No one is sure where the beings called Gods came from, but it is assumed the Void created them.  Catiana, Sarjon and Targon were the first Gods and the three of them brought forth the worlds of the system as the remaining Gods were summoned forth by Catiana.  (This does not make the other Gods less powerful then Catiana, but she is deemed their "mother" because of it.)   The Gods then decided on the Balance, which creatures to create and how they would interact with the world.  Obviously not all the Gods liked the plans (mainly Kahalla) but all said they would abide by such plans.  Once mortals were placed upon the world the Gods stepped back and watched their world grow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Books of Knowledge

Books of Knowledge is a cozy little shop crammed full of books, scrolls and anything with writing on it.  People and scholars come here to browse or to buy that tome they just would love to have.  The owners, Justice and Mary Binder, will allow people to look through their collection for just research for a gold an hour.  This is how they make most of their money, though they do sell books and scrolls quite often.  They figure they can make more money selling the knowledge over and over again then they can selling the book.

The first of three floors are crammed full of books, with the second floor used for study and research areas, as well as some book storage.  The Binder's residence is the third floor.  Mary is expecting her first child, so Justice is sort of absent minded at the moment and takes a little longer to find what someone is looking for.  If a customer won't be patient with him, he just ignores them and doesn't worry about it.  He is too focused on Mary to care.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sota the Bard

Sota, a human of middle age and originally from Karoon, loves to play it up to the crowd.  He has dark skin, black hair he keeps in a pony tail and dresses in all the latest fashions, (though not at the high end of costs).  He always bares a smile to his audience, takes requests for songs, stories or ballads, and plays for even the smallest of tips. He has an uncanny ability to remember any ballad, story, or song and if he hears a new one will sit and listen to the person telling or singing it until he has it down. He rotates between most of the taverns in Bloodhelm, depending on a tavern's needs.  He actually has a house in one of the nicer neighborhoods in Bloodhelm, with a cook/house maid that keeps him well fed and cared for.

Sota's only downside is he likes his drink.  He tends to try and stay away from drinking, especially when playing, but if he is being social he tends to drink a lot and get himself in trouble.  The last time he barely avoided a duel with a minor noble for hitting on his soon to be wife.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

History of Squires

The Knights of Martapa didn't start out as Knights, they were just the men who fought along side Peter and his friends at the battle which made Peter High King.  They fought in leather armor, (if they had any) and some hardly knew how to use the weapons at their side.  Peter knew such a condition could not continue if they were to keep mankind safe from the darkness.  So Peter instituted a learning situation where older, fighting men, no matter rank would take in the younger men to teach them what they knew.  Originally this was just anyone who served in Peter's army, because there were no nobility.  As time marched on those who fought for Peter and Tridon and were of nobility were termed Knights and they took on younger nobles as their squires.  This took generations to be so selective, and for a long time even common men could become Knights and squires.  (As a side note a lot of the minor noble houses are led by men who descended from just those sort of common men.)

Squires are usually in training for three years, after which they are sent on a quest to better not only themselves, but Tridon as well.  Now adays very few squires come from common stock, but it is not unheard of if a man (or woman) in the regular army or militia proves themselves to the local lord and granted such a boon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Assassins Guild in Bloodhelm

Though official named, "Fugitive Capture", this building is the base of all the assassins in the area.  They work under the pretense of finding escaped prisoners, but will kill or capture just about anyone if the money is right.  Numbers are hard to pin down, and they purposefully keep it this way, but there are always three people working the building, taking information or giving updates on escaped prisoners.  Prices are steep, for actual escaped prisoners, and even more for assassinations, especially if they are hard to get at people.  Names are never asked, only payment up front.  The assassins are honor bound, believe it or not, and if they do not finish a contract, they return the money.

In game, the group may be working against this guild, or if you have an evil based campaign, they may be working for this group.  Take assasinations seriously, because this is a very evil act, and it would be better to be working against this group.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Average Home Guard

Though there are hundreds of people I could detail, there is also the average "Joe" that your player characters are going to encounter: bakers, merchants, and even guards. Here is an average profile of a guard at Bloodhelm.

A home guard at Bloodhelm will most likely be light skinned, blond or brown hair, with blue or brown eyes.  (Not racism, just the make up of this area...have to have those sorta disclaimers now a days...)  They usually stand around six foot tall, give or take bit.  Most are fairly broad, though wiry is somewhat common.  Most are men, somewhere between eighteen and twenty five, though captains and sergeants are usually older.  Most can read and if they can't, the Home Guard gets them a tutor to at least read the bare minimum of things.  Some are married, but most are single though want to gain some savings to impress some young woman so they can marry.

Home guards are trained in bow, short sword and spear.  Some know magic others know how to handle more exotic weapons, but they are far and few between.  All are equipped with brigidane armor, weapon of their choice and a dagger.

If they chose to no longer serve as a home guard after their seven years of service they are given a small stipend and many become crafters or guards for caravans.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Butt in Chair Time

Like most writers, I find it hard to find time to actually write.  I have two very involved kids, I help with Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Battle of the Books and our school's TAG program.  I'm a substitute teacher aid and I volunteer my "free" time with the school and the local Grange.  Somewhere in there I'm supposed to write.  It doesn't happen as much as I would like, but here are some things I do when I can't be home typing away at my laptop.

1)I think about my story as I drive or walk to my next project.  It may only be five or ten minutes, but it gives me a little brain storming time I don't have to do when I actually can write.

2)Bring a pad of paper with you to your child's next activity.  My daughter has a class in town (20 miles away) and I can't exactly just drop her off and go home.  So I will bring a pad of paper with me and outline the next chapter, write a segment that has to get out, or think on things I need to edit or add in and write it down so I don't forget them when it comes to actual writing time.

3) Try to pick a time each day that you know you can usually count on to write.  Even if it's just 15 minutes it's better then nothing.  My best time is right after I drop the kids off at school.  I don't always get that time, subbing sometimes as I do, but I can usually sneak in a half hour or more of writing.  Be flexible.  If you have to be somewhere a half hour earlier then normal, then write earlier or just take that ten minutes over nothing.  If nothing else look for spelling mistakes!

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hall of Kings

In the royal palace in Stormvale is a hallway lined with paintings and statues of men in different poses and attire, but always wearing the circlet of the High King.  This hallway, about two thousand yards along the outside western wall of the palace, is the display area for all the portraits and statues of High Kings long gone.  Naturally there are far too many such pieces of art to be put up at all times so a caretaker swaps out the various statues and paintings every once in a while (usually once a month) so all the High Kings can be seen now and again.  The painting and statue of Peter are always present at the north end of the hall and the current High King (if there is one) is at always at the south end.  Scholars often come to gaze upon the portraits for study or to look at painting and carving techniques of eons gone by.

Those portraits and statues not in use are carefully stored in a room in the lower levels and always under lock and key.  For the last sixty years or so the paintings have remained untouched, even by those who were friends with the Wizards and Kin.  A new caretaker with knowledge of the past High Kings will need to be found soon before all knowledge of the paintings and statues are lost.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Rat Tavern

As the name suggests, this location is in the seedier part of town, in a run down building with not so desirable patrons.  Originally, this was a nice building and meant to be an escape for those husbands who needed some time away from their wives, (thus the "RAT" in the name).  At one point it served good beers and ales (not expensive, just good), but now everything is watered down and brewed nearby with questionable methods.  Meals can be purchased, but the chance a rat might actually be in the stew (whether purposefully or not) is quite high.  Meals used to be made by the wife of the owner, with fresh bread, but now the owner just throws something together at the beginning of the day and calls it good.

An added feature is the few whores that work from out of the inn.  The upstairs used to be a family residence, but now the owner, Butch Tarstring, rents them out to down on their luck whores to make a little side money.

There are no bouncers and the bar brawls get exciting here.  They are an every night occurrence (though some rougher then others) and the patrols have stopped responding they happen so frequently.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Wings of Stars

Wings of Stars, or Star as her friends call her, is a wood elf.  But she loves magic and loves being with humans so she came to Bloodhelm to learn about the craft.  Though she knows more about magic then most of those who are "teaching" her, (she is, after all, nearly 200 years old) she loves to see the different views on magic and the different ways people use magic.  Though she wanted to be nothing but a student at the Bloodhelm Mage Guild, they have put her in charge of the more earthly magics and teaches as she learns.

Star is only about four foot five, short even for an elf, with silver and grey hair and bright blue eyes.  She bares tattoos of ivy vines on her forearms and a small grouping of stars beneath her right eye.  She dresses in blues, silvers, and greys and despite being an elf, will talk a person's ear off.  If a person bares some new magic she has to know all about it.  This sometimes gets her in trouble with people, but most like to hear her point of view on such new magics.

She can be found at the Mage Guild in Bloodhelm most of the time or wandering the market.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bards of Martapa

Not only is this a common class in most roleplaying systems, (who doesn't want that swashbuckler to swing from chandeliers?), but the bard is also a very important person in the world of Martapa.  Bards are like the news media of today.  They spread news, both good and bad, as well as bring cheer.  They often come to a new village and tell what is going on in the world for a dinner and a room.  Because there are few people who travel outside their villages, bards are life lines to the outside world and are treated well.  It is considered bad luck to harm a bard, but if they do behave badly, (aka make a pass at the mayor's wife or worse), then they are fair game.

Bards usually carry their own instruments, weapons, and gear and dress in bright colors.  Some can afford a horse and even an escort.  They can be found everywhere, even in areas controlled by the Black Wizards and the Empire.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Brief History of Weatherworn's Mages

In my stories, I hint at the fact that Weatherworn's mages are powerful weather mages, people who can change the weather at a whim.  I don't ever explain it in depth, just hint they can do colossal damage if they truly want to.  Originally, when Gustaff was given charge around the area of Weatherworn, his wife Lillith was a powerful weather mage.  In the "old days" they were called witches, but now all who use magic are termed mage.  She could control the weather around the stormy coastal city, which allowed for ships to enter the deep harbor without fear of smashing into the tower rock cliffs.  It was her magic, and the magic of her daughters, which made the long, rock ramp leading from the harbor to the city up above.

Tradition shows that all daughters of the current Weatherworn Leader are born with the ability to cast these strong magics, though there have been a few born without such talents.  Everyone of them are trained and cared for by the House until death, even if they marry.  This makes for a very large "stable" of weather mages, all of whom live in the area of Weatherworn, but not necessarily in the city itself.

Very rarely have they had to be called upon for to protect Weatherworn, most of the time they are used for making sure crops grow and ships make it into the harbor safely.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Eastern Imports of Bloodhelm

This shipping company specializes in moving items from the east side of Taina to the west side. Though they mostly move fabrics and specialty foods, they also bring baskets, pots, wooden items, just about anything only made on the east side of the Tsalagi Mountains.  The company has a dedicated fleet of thirty wagons, 200 pack animals and about 400 employees with stations in just about every major city, even on the east side.

The business is currently owned by the Janson brothers, Torak and Thane.  They station themselves in Bloodhelm, but sometimes work out of Varanath as well.  They are around thirty, human and get along with most people.

You could use this place as someplace to hire on to, as a way to get specialty products or as an adventure jump off point.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Lady Kell

(A little background on this character.  Though she never is in any of my stories, which some of these characters I've posted haven't been, she was a well thought out character.  My husband introduced me to roleplaying when we were in college and this was my very first character.  I have used her as an NPC in my roleplaying campaign and she could also be used for such in your campaign!)

Lady Kell is an elf who loves working with and being with humans, or any race for that matter.  She is a mage of the highest caliber but loves to share her knowledge.  She lives near Varanath, just to the east of it, in a small, secluded wooded area.  She lives by herself, though she certainly has lots of guests, and her constant companion, Apple.  Apple  is a small fairy dragon who has taken a liking to Kell and her shiny baubles.

Kell is only five foot tall with flame red hair and emerald green eyes.  She speaks a half dozen languages and dialects and has a library crammed full of knowledge.  Though her modest cabin has only three rooms, the third room is an extra-dimensional library and study which can only be entered with a password or special key.  If the room is entered by someone without the key or password it just appears as extra bedroom.

As for in lore, yes, Kell is a descendant of Veo Sunstar, (thus the red hair).  She knows it, but doesn't brag about it or worry about such ties.  She judges a person on who they are not what they are.  She will help those in need if she can, take down bad guys if she is able, and aid adventurers with their questions if they perform some task for her.  She has a lot of access to lore and history so would be a good place to search for tidbits for some plot line for the GM.

Happy Gaming