Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Making the Case

In both books and roleplaying campaigns, you as either author or GM need to make the story line compelling.  You want the person to read on, your players to continue on to their goal.  But how do you do that with out feeling like your trudging along.  Here are some ideas I've found useful.

1) In both roleplaying and books, plotting out where you want to go is always a good idea.  Make your outline as elaborate as you want.  But be aware your players will take left turns now and again.  Even when writing, sometimes you change direction because of something unexpected you wrote in, so be flexible!

2) Develop the area, people and ideas you want to express.  Players like three dimensional worlds, as do readers.  Here you have to be a little careful.  Players like lots of descriptions to see if there is anything they can use or abuse.  But in this fast paced world we live in a lot of readers do not like page long descriptions, so you have to be careful on what you write.  (As a side note, most old school fantasy readers like page long descriptions and if you are pandering to them, write on!)

3)  Really think out your bad guys.  Just because they are bad doesn't mean you automatically hate them.  Maybe they are really nice guys, but just on the opposite side of the board as your players/main characters.  Unless you really want to don't use the cliche bad guy, twirling his mustache as the train comes closer, make him a dynamic person so people hate him, but perhaps understand where he is coming from.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Fudging of Dice

In most roleplaying campaigns, every GM/DM comes to that time where fudging the roll is probably a better idea then letting them lay...thus why most GM's have a screen to hide behind.  But beware the fudging too much.  There is a time and a place and let's look at those.

1) Character creation.  My daughter, all of nine years, wanted to play a Pixie Fairy in Hackmaster, a system which is known for it's "let them lay" policy.  But this is a nine year do you explain to a 9 year old that their pixie fairy has a Strength of 1 and about 10 hit points at 6th level?  So in this case, let your players roll up a few different sets of stats and let them pick the best set (not best scores).  Make sure, as a the GM, that you watch because some players like to roll and roll until they get a great set.

2) When your player missing would so mess up the mood.  Say the party has been having an epic battle and the player in question is about to make the final blow in spectacular fashion.  And they miss, technically, by 1 or so.  How unfair is that?  Let it land, what does it matter.  Obviously the main bad guy was about dead anyway, let the party have something awesome to talk about later.

3) When a player character is about to die.  Not something you should do every time.  Making them rez on occasion will keep them cautious.  But if we were once again in that epic battle, down to the last hit points of both character and bad guy and the bad guy lands a spectacular blow and would kill the player and thus end the campaign badly, let it be glancing, leaving the character at 1 or 2 hit points.  The alternative is to let both the bad guy and the character hit at the same time and let them die at the same instant.  Still really cool!

My best advice is to not fudge too often and think hard before doing it.  Don't let your players get away with everything but let them have fun!  That is the point, after all.

Happy Gaming.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Roaring Bear Tavern in Bloodhelm

This modest inn is three stories, rustic, as it is built like a large, log cabin, and has a giant stuffed bear just inside the doorway, waiting to greet patrons.  The tavern is cozy, with a fire near the bar and enough room for about twenty people to sit comfortably.  There are single rooms on the second floor, the third has one suite and the rest is a common room for those who don't want to pay for a full room.  Breakfast usually comes with the room, but any drinks are extra.  The owner, Jack Wanderer, was once an adventurer, but lost a leg to a ogre raiding party.  His party survived and brought Jack back to be healed, though not to his whole state.  He settled down with his savings and now runs the tavern to listen to tales, big and small, of adventure out in the world.

The tavern is only closed from around midnight until five in the morning.  Jack stays for most of that, but delegates the morning prep work to his cook and one of his serving girls.  Jack is not married, and though he is missing a leg, his is quite handsome, easy to talk to and gets along with just about anyone.

Jack has several bouncers who he pays well and keeps order in his tavern.  Any back talk to Jack will earn instant removal from the tavern, whether a person has paid or not.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Love and Marriage Part X

So to wrap the whole love and marriage ideas up, lets look at such things in your campaign.

I think it is perfectly fine for a little romantic interaction between characters, but your players definitely need to be mature enough to handle such things.  My husband and I played in several groups where we had characters who had romantic interludes, campaigns where our characters were entangled with other player characters and in groups with no love interests.  All angles can be fun.  The biggest problem is separating romantic interactions of the characters and the interactions in real life.  Our friend in college and I had a pair of elves who had a fling going on, but we knew that was here it stopped, especially with him being my husband's best friend!  But some people may not be mature enough to handle such situations so allow such things in with trepidation if it hasn't been tried with that group before.  Encourage it if it brings on good roleplaying, but remember there might be out of game consequences if not handled properly.

The other problem is if you are playing with younger players.  If you are, just have the characters as "boyfriend and girl friend", with hand holding and sitting next to each other.  Don't allow much beyond that.  Depending on age, kissing is probably fine as well.  Just realize the maturity level of your players.  Even adults may have issues with deep romantic relationships so don't push, and don't allow players to push, if they don't want to have romantic interludes.

Happy Gaming!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Love and Marriage Part IX

The humans of the free cities in Ariella are very merchant orientated.  Their lives revolve around trade and getting a good deal.  So when a man loves a woman and wants to take her from her family to be part of his family he shows his interest in a very odd way.  The man, especially if he is from a merchant family, will leave trade goods upon her doorstep in hopes her father and brothers will see what fine goods he has and will be able to keep their daughter/sister very well.  If the trade goods are accepted, trade goods (or other fine objects) will be sent to the man's family so they are assured the woman isn't coming from a destitute family in need of more money and that is the reason the woman is accepting.

After several weeks of exchanging goods (which most go to the couple, anyway) the two families come together and in a short ceremony, the father gives his daughter's hand to the man.  Afterward the two families, and invited guests, feast on good foods and wines.  Later the pair are escorted to their new home where the trade goods have already been brought.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love and Marriage Part VIII

Skiegs, though small, and unassuming are very passionate people.  When they want to show their affections for the one they love, they go to great lengths.  And though they are associated with ogres, not all skiegs are evil, they are just in it for the money...and to keep themselves unharmed since ogres are so much bigger then they are.

A male skieg, if they love a female skieg, will begin by showering her with gifts, everything from favorite foods to finally something expensive like jewelry.  The more items he can give her the richer he is saying he is, which is very important to a skieg.  If the woman approves of the gifts she will return the most expensive gift with a note asking him to share all his riches with her.  Afterward, a large, lavish wedding with lots of food and guests are held.  Skiegs measure their marriage by how much money they spent on it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Love and Marriage VII

Ogres certainly aren't that civilized, but even they get "married".  When a male wants a female, usually he just takes her, if he has higher rank then the females family.  Sometimes he has to fight the males of the family to get the female.  Other times, especially chiefs, the males are smart enough to make alliances by offering to take a "useless" female off their hands.  There are no ceremonies, just the male basically telling the female she is his now.  Most of the time females don't fight back, but sometimes they do and either they end up dead or the family takes the male out.  If a chief is involved there is a big celebration of eating and drinking, but otherwise it is an uneventful event.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Love and Marriage Part VI

Minotaurs also have their own marriage rituals, and though, for most of my High King's Sword books they are the "bad guys", they are still a people who love, hate, live and die.  Here are some of their customs for marriage.

1)Since all minotaurs, women and men, can fight, ritual fighting is a large part of getting married.  When a man asks for a woman's hand in marriage a sparing event will occur to see if she will except.  If he can beat her, then she will deem him worthy of her hand in marriage, as will her family.  There is no holding back, though if the woman really loves the male deeply and is just going to kick his back side, a little restraint may come into play.  The only exception to this is if the male is a blacksmith.  Blacksmiths are too valuable to put in harms way and thus just being a blacksmith is value enough for any woman who is purposed to.

2) The wedding itself is simple.  They stand before their priests, exchange vows of love and devotion, then cut open their arms to exchange blood, signifying that they will live and die for each other.  Usually just the family is invited, but close friends and important officials are also invited.  The more blacksmiths that can be invited, the more prestige a wedding can gain.

3)The feast is simple, but filling.  Fruits and bread are the norm, along with fine wines, dark beers, and treats of elaborate decorations finish it off.  Often a wedding feast is a "potluck", with each person invited bringing a dish they like to share.  The married couples' family will provide the alcohol and the imported treats, and often a large chunk of the food, but this way people who normally don't show off have a time to show off their cooking abilities.

4)  The man always buys/builds the house that the couple move into, though he often has help from the woman's brothers to ensure their sister has a good home.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Love and Marriage Part V

Elves have very elaborate, and drawn out, weddings.  Elven weddings last a full week starting on the 1st day of the month, to give blessing to the couple.

1)Day 1 through Day 3: The soon to be bride and groom meditate in the temple of either Targon, Aiyana, or Catiana, (their choice) and think upon their lives and the lives they will have together.  During this time neither take water or food so they can be more pure as they speak with their Gods.

2) Day 4: A small feast of salads, fruits, vegetable dishes and wine are given to the couple and their close families.  (In some case this is the whole community, even if they are not "close" family.)  Both families get to know each other, if they don't already, and plans for where the couple will live and what professions they will pursue, if they haven't already, are discussed.

3) Day 5: This is an elaborate exchange of gifts between families and with the community.  Each family tries to up stage the other by giving very fine gifts to the other family, as well as to prominent community members.  Some families give gifts to even the smallest of children in the community to show how well off they are and how willing they are to give back to the community.

4) Day 6: The wedding itself.  This hours long ceremony is exchange of vows to each other, to their families and to their Gods.  Testimonials are given about the couples' virtues and small speeches are given about how well the community wishes the couple to do in their lives together.

5) Day 7:  The feast.  The feast has several dozen courses, starting with soups, and ending with trays of deserts that have been prepared all week.  The best wines and meats are given at this time, as well.

Players can be part of the wedding, because the groom or bride is a family member, or they can be invited because, perhaps, they helped the couple out.  Very rarely are outsiders allowed to witness if they haven't done something for the family in the past.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Love and Marriage Part IV

So dwarven weddings, though not as boisterous as human weddings, are still a sight to behold, and be part of.

A dwarven wedding as three days of activities.
1)Day 1: The groom will go to brides house and challenge all her brothers, male cousins, uncles, whomever wishes, to a challenge of strength.  Whether it is wrestling, metal working, or just a slug fest, the groom will fight each male of the household that wishes.  The more people he fights, the more honor he brings to the marriage.  If a woman only has a few brothers/cousins/uncles, then neighbors sometimes fill in.  Afterward, the bride's family pays for any healing he may need and welcomes him into the home for a large dinner.  Anybody can watch the fighting, but no one is to interfere.  If a man is liked by the family, they may take it easier on him, but if the groom is not liked it's bound to be a fight of epic proportions.

2)Day 2:The marriage itself.  Both the groom and the bride will spend half the day meditating in the temple to Taniger, asking for his blessing upon their life together and making sure this is what they truly want to do.  Afterward, close to sundown, the ceremony itself is performed.  Everyone in the community will come to witness the marriage, even honored guests, (though is the larger city, it's usually everyone in the neighborhood), and then drinking will commence right after into the wee hours of the morning.  It's a tradition for the bride and groom to try and out drink the other.

3)Day 3: The feast.  Once everyone awakens in the morning a day of feasting occurs.  There are more drinking contests, as well as some wrestling and metal smithing contests, but the focus is on the feast.  Guests are always invited, especially if they have earned the love and respect of those getting married.

Afterward the bride and groom retire to their home to be left alone for about a week before life returns to normal.

Tomorrow: Elven weddings.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Love and Marriage Part III

For human nobles, marriages are a very complicated affair.  Depending on the level of nobility these affairs can last days.  For lesser nobles several days of balls and dinners are the normal, while for House Leaders' children there will be tournaments as well.  So here a fairly average noble marriage.

1) First, there will be tournaments of strength, if there are any.  This can include foot and horse races, sword fighting and jousting.  The Knights of the area get to show off their skills with the possibility of winning prizes put up by the couples' families.  These tournaments can last days depending on the couple being married.

2)Balls.  There will be at least one ball, if not several, when a noble couple is married.  Sometimes there is a ball before the wedding, some after.  Sometimes there is a ball before and after a wedding.  These are social events, places to maneuver politically and arrange other, beneficial marriages.

3) The wedding itself.  This can last several hours, with elaborate dress and the head of the biggest church of the House city presiding, (in the case of House nobles this will be Lady Catiana's priests or Lord Sarjon's priests).  Everyone dresses in their finest.  After the wedding itself many Knights will declare a mission they will go on for the couple or other nobles may declare their engagements.

4)Feasting.  This is something which can last for days.  Food is brought in from all over Tridon, and some times from more exotic places.  Depending on the House, sometimes even the peasants are invited.  (This happens most often in the Northern Houses.)  Even local heroes are sometimes invited.

Tomorrow: Dwarven Weddings.