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Mike Myler on the Defective Geeks Podcast!


This week I was a guest on the Defective Geeks podcast, with wonderful hosts Giselle (Gizzy B) and Dianne (the Space Pirate Queen)!

We talked about tabletop gaming, getting into freelancing for RPGs, the imminent Underworld Classes & Races product line, Rise of the Drow, the upcoming Snow White Kickstarter and much, much more!
Hear about the fantastic Jacob Blackmon art on the way, what the underterror base class is all about, disillusionment with the film industry, how I go about writing and designing game materials (and some of what‚Äôs on the way!), and how to get established in the tabletop RPG world‚ÄĒwe covered a lot of ground.

 

To listen in, CLICK HERE!

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Insidious Inclusion – 5 Duplicitous Tips to Lure Players

Eventually, players get wise to the mimics, the hidden assassins and the unassuming forest trail. Sometimes to move the plot ahead, however, you need to really walk your group into the lion’s den. Even the most experienced player can still fall prey to a number of different ploys to draw them into an ambush, trap or unfortunate surprise; I’ve detailed a few below.

 

Knight-riding1) Appeal to Alignment

This goes without saying for paladins and antipaladins, but characters of every stripe can be called upon to act out their nature. While a great tactic, it‚Äôs not to be used too often‚ÄĒit isn‚Äôt likely that all the PCs share the same world views and motivations, and arguments arising from these situations can be catastrophic.

 

2) Opposing Obstacles

A bomb is about to explode, but the mayor is halfway across the city and also primed for fatal catastrophe! Sure, it’s one of the older tricks in the book, but it is effective. Watch out for the same sort of trouble you see with the above option, and avoid saturating your game with this. Forcing PCs to one or two logical solutions to being caught between a rock and a hard place too much might take away too much drama from your game, or dishearten players into feeling that their actions lack impact.

 

marbles3) Incentive

The road to hell is paved in gold and good intentions. Even the most cowardly rogue will give in to their greed and make for a dangerous situation if the gold glitters brightly enough. If you’re feeling particularly vicious, go ahead and throw one or two permanent silent image illusions their way. Eventually clever PCs might start throwing rocks at chests to see if their figments before engaging them and we’re back to traps!

 

4) Cover, Concealment, Reach and Grab

In Pathfinder awakened animals don’t go up in CR. So, for instance, an awakened giant lake octopus gains high-level tactics and 2 HD without raising its challenge rating. There’s already been talk about using terrain effectively, but imagine how an intelligent animal (especially big ones) might modify their hunting grounds. Make use of creatures with reach and grab, concealing them and enticing PCs to wander just close enough that they think they are safe (there is the Lunge feat, after all).

 

knights-armor-205) Sweet Poison Pie

Seed your real plots into innocuous happenings. These could be as simple as running into a pickpocket while at the tavern, or a little more complicated. This month the AaWBlog is taking on a bloody theme to match February‚Äôs holiday: Cultus Sanguineus. Within this mini-adventure, the PCs are invited to a grand ball. To seed this, the GM might make it clear that one of the more important members of society‚Äôs elite is only accessible to the party at high level functions; while there‚Äôs no shortage of events like this, infiltrating one is as hard as earning an invitation. When the adventurers finally find a way in, they‚Äôll think they scored the jackpot‚ÄĒnobles to sleight of hand, influential contacts to make and juicy rumors to learn‚ÄĒonly to find out differently much too late…

Do you have a contribution or idea for Meta Thursdays? ¬†Send us your ideas (after reading the¬†submission guidelines) to submit(at)adventureaweek.com with ‚ÄúMeta Thursday‚ÄĚ in the subject line!

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3 Ways to Play the Long Game

Image_Portfolio_1.14_Fantasy Butch Mapa 03Meaningful antagonists are often one of the lasting, remembering aspects of a story. While not always a simple thing to implement successfully, creating enemies that make an appearance in every arc of a campaign eventually becomes part and parcel to a GM’s toolbox.

If you’re starting from 1st level, try to keep things organic; have a grand plot in mind and provide strings that lead to it. Eventually the means to start these threads‚ÄĒa merchant, mercenary, noble, peasant or other NPC encountered by the party‚ÄĒwill provide you with a rogue’s gallery that your players will remember and look out for. Keeping these characters alive is another matter entirely (and is sometimes downright impossible) but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring them back. As a matter of fact….

Undead Lord Spectre#1) Back and Better 
The hour you spent painstakingly crafting a critical NPC bit the dust when natural 1s and natural 20s defied probability.
These things happen‚ÄĒdon’t panic.

Simply resurrecting an antagonist is always an option, but don’t count out reincarnation or other, less savory transformations. Not everyone needs to become a death knight, mind you, and you should take this opportunity to flex your creativity a bit. If there isn’t a template or other advancement option for that character’s next scheduled appearance, make one that fits your plot! The return of a nemesis will grab your players and with new, unexpected abilities, they’ll be a captive audience.

 

#2) Familiars 
There’s something like 70+ classes legal for 3.5 play that can grant a familiar, and plenty others in Pathfinder (there’s even an Advanced Rogue Talent for it). If none of those are ¬†good for your villain (although they need not be villainous‚ÄĒsee point #3). take a look at feats and the like.
The intelligent application of a familiar can allow the antagonist to act unseen and doesn’t have terrible repercussions if the creature is caught or destroyed. This also allows for scaling to occur at a rate equal to the party’s advancement, and unless you’ve played your hand too quickly, the PCs won’t be suspecting every single animal they see to be a potential spy (and if they get that paranoid, it’s probably time to lay off them a bit).

 

#3) Villainous Relativity 
What IS a villain? Is it always going to be Sauron, Morgan le Fay or Jafar from Aladdin?
This, of course, need not be the case.

Keep a list of extra names handy if you don’t have a talent for titling characters on the fly, and whenever an opportunity presents itself, have an NPC introduce themselves. Whenever plausible, have them make another appearance in the game.

003-the-boy-himself-q75-855x1373

Did the PCs really impress some maturing folks in the village ¬†when they completed their last quest? Have one or two follow them about, emulating them‚ÄĒmaybe the party likes them, or grows to compete with them. When things go awry, the NPC turns to resent the group and begins to act in concert against them with your chief antagonist.

What about the inadvertently maligned? The crooked merchant that profited from the thieves’ guild? The vengeful relatives of dead enemies? The offspring of murdered creatures?

Not¬†every¬†encounter needs to be a deeply meaningful and memory inspiring experience‚ÄĒthat would defeat the purpose by diluting the overall effect‚ÄĒbut if you can manage it, reoccurring NPCs will provide your game with a greater level of immersion.

Next time the PCs order a flagon, have Trevor Gralden, an inquisitive and polite new arrival to the town, bring it out to them; a year later, he might do the same in the armor of an antipaladin, but with chalices full of blood rather than ale.

 

Do you have a contribution or idea for Meta Thursdays? ¬†Send us your ideas (after reading the¬†submission guidelines) to submit(at)adventureaweek.com with ‚ÄúMeta Thursday‚ÄĚ in the subject line!

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4 things NOT to do when writing for an IP

Rise of the Drow hardbackI’ve had the pleasure of working with several different publishers, making material for use within a number of established campaign settings¬†(Fantasy Flight Games, Frog God Games, AdventureAWeek.com, LPJ Design, Amora games, and more). If you’re breaking into writing and want to work in this field, I’ve garnered a few things from my (still¬†comparatively¬†few!) experiences creating content within the confines of broad, cherished worlds.

 

1. SKIP YOUR RESEARCH
If they haven’t sent you material for research or it isn’t freely available, ask for it. Even if it gets rolled into your pay a little bit, having this on hand will save everybody time in the end, establish that you are professional, and will see that your material resonates with fans of the existing product. Make notes for yourself (I made an entire visual Neo Exodus timeline) and refer to them often. Check d20pfsrd.com to see if any key creatures exist in their setting if you aren’t already intimately familiar with it
‚ÄĒyou’ll be glad you did.

Immersion is the name of the game with this one. Don’t get your feet wet, jump in.

 

WORLD_MAP2. WRITE YOURSELF INTO A CORNER
That timeline should come in handy for this, but a good general rule is to avoid absolutes. Making something that prohibits the existence of another element (undead is the popular one here, but serpentfolk get slapped around like this too) inside of a world is generally something that the original creators have already made a decision about. That’s not to say you can’t break precedent (see below), just that as a general rule of thumb, you want to supplement an existing IP, not complement it.

Write to enhance the setting, not evolve it.

 

3. LEAP BEFORE YOU LOOK
Submit an outline first and avoid surprising the person receiving your material. While the extra content you designed might be fun, there are myriad reasons for why it might not be a good fit (a similar piece might already be in the works, it may be prohibitive because of something you didn’t know about, etc.) and that’s why this part of the process should never be overlooked. If you do end up adding more content or material than originally requested, make certain that it’s inside of the themes and aesthetic already present in your work and the larger library of material.

Clear your big ideas with the people upstairs first.

 

Image_Portfolio_1.14_Fantasy Butch Mapa 014. BE INFLEXIBLE
You’re playing in someone else’s toybox; if they want the red car, give them the red car and find a new toy. Be prepared for some of your ideas to get shot down or become morphed into things you never anticipated or intended. Try to improve the process by cooperating‚ÄĒcollaboration can cause some truly beautiful confluences and is not to be underestimated. There’s a lot of sayings for that, but we’ll hold off on the metaphors here. Just be open to compromise‚ÄĒyou’ll be pleased with the results.

Be agreeable and things will be agreeable.

003-Bedtime-Candle-q75-544x595

[EDIT] Ryan Macklin has a great blog post that went up earlier this week about pitching your game. It is fantastic and you should definitely read through it for your own sake as a writer. I will point out that when he ‘pitched’ Mythender at me, he did so while dramatically spinning and yelling in my face (which I don’t personally recommend, though it was definitely effective).

 

Do you have a contribution or idea for Meta Thursdays? ¬†Send us your ideas (after reading the¬†submission guidelines) to submit(at)adventureaweek.com with ‚ÄúMeta Thursday‚ÄĚ in the subject line!

 

 

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Rhythmic Nunchaku

Image_Portfolio_1.13_Fantasy Rudolf Montemayor 04Rhythmic Nunchaku
Aura moderate enchantment; CL 7th
Slot none; Price 25,152 gp; Weight 2 lbs.

DESCRIPTION
This nunchaku is made from two ornate, beautifully wrought metal bars connected by a simple steel chain.

Three times per day as a free action, a monk making a flurry of blows with this 
+2 nunchaku gains a bonus to hit an opponent based on the number of times it has already successfully hit that opponent. Each time the wielder successfully strikes an opponent with a melee attack during a flurry of blows, they gain a cumulative +1 morale bonus on attack rolls (maximum +4 bonus) and gains 3 temporary hit points (to a maximum of 20 temporary hit points). If an attack misses, the attack bonus resets to +0, but any accumulated temporary hit points remain. The temporary hit points and morale bonuses on attack rolls disappear 7 rounds after the first flurry of blows is resolved.

HISTORY A character that makes a Knowledge (history) check to learn about rhythmic nunchaku identifies the following fragments of lore:

DC 15     The first wielder of rhythmic nunchaku was said to travel the lands far and wide many centuries ago. His prowess in combat was legendary, and it is said that he has seen him in unfair battles. fighting on the side of justice. None have ever captured him or claim to have spoken to the mysterious warrior, but tales of the Rhythmic Pugilist persist.
DC 20     Each generation has its own Rhythmic Pugilist; the sacred order raises all of their kin to assume the position, and every three years tournaments are held to determine whom will hold the mantle. The finest warriors to rise during this training period receive rhythmic nunchaku, ever ready to take the place of their peer should they fall.
DC 25 ¬† ¬† The Rhythmic Pugilist has never been a man. A warrior cult of female monks carry the tradition maternally, avoiding revealing their gender whenever possible. Their nobility is matched only by their staunch secrecy, and some loremasters know that those who learn of the Rhythmic Pugilist’s true origins often meet with untimely, quiet ends.
DC 30     A princess of the realm first wielded the rhythmic nunchaku, taking up the whirling weapon in the name of the oppressed peoples ruled over by her father. She oversaw the fall of his tyranny, and instilled the order of the Rhythmic Pugilist. It has become an honored, clandestine royal organization, its secret known to only a handful of the nobility.

CONSTRUCTION
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, heroism (3.5) / righteous vigor (PF); Cost 12,752 gp 511 xp

 

Do you have an idea for an enchanted sword, arcane-empowered armor or unique magic item? Take a look at the¬†submission rules¬†and send a¬†brief summary¬†of your proposed enchanted item¬†titled ‚ÄėArmory of Adventures submission‚Äô¬†to submit(at)adventureaweek.com¬†with the following:

  • the nature of the item (weapon, armor or wondrous)
  • one or two sentences about its appearance
  • what the item in question does
  • the components and spell(s) used in its construction

 

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A Design Exercise in 4 Steps from Concept to Mechanics

hobgoblin_leader__storn_cookThe character in your head (PC or NPC) fits the vast majority of thematic requirements for the game or campaign you’re about to join, but none of the abilities available fit what you want. Homebrew is hardly unheard of, but nobody wants to waste time arguing over some house rules‚ÄĒyou need a strong set of mechanics that the GM and other players can fully approve of.

#1) Idea
Where do we start? How do we take an idea from our brain and onto the table in an intelligent, responsible fashion? First, obviously, we need an idea.
For today’s purposes, we’re going to be using “Speedball” from Marvel Comics as our example (I was a big fan of his up until the whole Penance business‚ÄĒI’ve even got most of the first run of the terrible solo issues). making up a very basic framework for an equivalent in Pathfinder. For those not in the know, Speedball could basically make himself into a big bouncy ball, redirecting kinetic energy.

#2) Search
The first thing to do is see if the tools are there already or not. While the PRD is fantastic, when it comes to designing something for Pathfinder, you should be using d20pfsrd.com. John Reyst and his slew of minions are constantly adding 3rd Party Publisher material (so you know your design is unique), have a more accessible search engine (use those quotation marks, folks) and you can break up results by category (this saves an enormous amount of work vis-a-vis magic items, classes and spells).

133-Chained-library-at-Wimborne-Minster-1709x1021Let’s look up some keywords for Speedball’s abilities: “bounce”, “bouncing”, “kinetic” and “redirect”. Whenever possible, we want to mirror or incorporate the established mechanics set up within the RPG in question, so don’t be lazy about looking at what comes up. Most of the page counts shrink as well for some reason, so sally forth!

Bouncing Spell‚ÄĒWe’re not really doing anything with this. If I was writing an entire base class, this would absolutely become a part of it somehow, but we’ll stick to levels 1-5 if we go that route, and feats or a simple archetype if not.
Greater Ring of Bounce‚ÄĒA cursed item that gives a +10 bonus to Acrobatics check for jumping, but a -10 for any other use, CL 7th. This sounds like something we can use, so we’ll put a star by it to remember, and maybe a note. [***attack ability?]
Bounding Hammer‚ÄĒFrom Pathfinder Companion: Dwarves; on a successful hit with a thrown hammer, the feat makes it land in your square. [*** feat to catch thrown weapon]
Roll With It‚ÄĒThis goblin feat looks like we’ve struck gold. Take a melee hit, make an Acrobatics check (DC 5 + damage) as an immediate action, success means that you take no damage but move in a straight line (in a direction of your choosing) 1 foot for each point of damage you would have taken, halting after half your speed in movement. Run into something and you take 1d4 damage and go prone, and all that movement provokes AoOs. Worse yet, you are staggered for a round after¬†attempting¬†the feat. [***fundamental]
Tumbling Descent‚ÄĒThis roof runner rogue archetype ability from Ultimate Combat fills another great gap: so long as there are two surfaces no farther than 10 feet apart to bounce against, they can fall indefinitely with an Acrobatics check (DC 10 + 5 for every 10 ft. increment descended beyond the initial 10 ft. drop) [***fundamental]
Shield of King RytanRicochet Shield‚ÄĒThis is an interesting combat trick; a -2 attack roll penalty to bounce a thrown shield around an¬†
obstacle, with a note about range increments for total distance traveled rather than from wielder to target. [***attack ability?]
Bouncy‚ÄĒAnother goblin feat from the Pathfinder Player Companions; the first 1d6 lethal points of falling damage are automatically converted to nonlethal damage, and you get a +2 Reflex save to avoid unexpected falls. [***the cushion effect]
Kinetic Reverberation‚ÄĒThis 2nd-level wizard spell lasts rounds per level, allows for SR and a Fortitude save. On a failed save, the weapon striking the target enchanted by this spell takes the same amount of damage it dealt to the target. Doesn’t effect natural attacks. [***fundamental]
Impact‚ÄĒFor the equivalent of a +2 weapon enhancement bonus, increase a weapon’s damage die; CL 9th. Good stuff to know. [***fundamental]
Redirect Attack‚ÄĒThis advanced rogue talent allows a once per day redirect of a melee hit to strike an adjacent creature as a free action, requiring the attacker to roll a second time. Definitely high part of our core concept. [***fundamental]
Flowing Monk‚ÄĒThis guy has quite a bit of what we’re looking for: redirection, unbalancing counter, flowing dodge and elusive target (as well as the Elusive Redirection feat) fit the bill for our core concept. [***fundamental]

At least he's not weaing skin-tight red leather...

#3) Assess
Our design ends right here. We could break some of this down and rebuild the pieces, creating a more specific monk archetype (the bouncing goblin, perhaps?) but as it is, a goblin flowing monk with the right feats, a few errant class levels or new magic items and a bright attitude should do it.
A lot of our work is done for this guy‚ÄĒlet’s assume we make a goblin flowing monk 5/rogue (roof runner) 2. They can flow around attacks via flowing monk abilities (and, of course, the Crane Stance feats), with the Roll With It feat they can redirect movement from a solid hit, they can bound downwards with tumbling descent and slow fall, and on top of all that, jump extremely far thanks to high jump. None of the flowing monk’s abilities prohibit shields, so next level we grab up fighter and a feat for tossing things, keeping a few hammers around for the purpose; if we can manage it, with the¬†impact quality. For good effect, I’d throw in the Mobility feat somewhere to avoid those AoOs.

I’m not at all bummed, by the way. We didn’t even it make it to the repeat of step 2: searching for 3PP material to see what else can be (or has already been) done (hint: Trick Shot from Psionics, along with other Marksman things). That’s one of the reasons Pathfinder is so excellent‚ÄĒthere’s rampant versatility even within the core rules. We’ll take another shot at something totally original next time..

#4) Design
What didn’t we pick up along the way here? We’re going to miss out on Redirect Attack, but that’s hardly the end of the world.¬†Kinetic reverberation¬†is something we can work with however.
Let’s head back to d20pfsrd.com, do a search and click on magic items‚ÄĒnothing shows up, so we’re clear for liftoff.
Of course, firsthand knowledge never hurts (ideally I’d be hip-deep in Paizo books for “research”) and I have an example from a Magic Item Monday back in¬†September. While I obviously liked it, we want our goblin flowing monk/rogue to use some kind of impact weapon anyway. We could get the quarterstaff enchanted, but then the shield aspect is gone.
Instead of enchanting the weapon, what about making an enchantment that activates a kinetic reverberation?
gauntlet-12We want something like a¬†cape of the mountebank‚ÄĒactivated on command with limited uses per day. This is a math problem now [(CL 3rd) x (spell level 2nd) x 1,800 gp] divided by (5 divided by 3 charges per day) = 6,480 gold. It’ll be costly to buy at 12,960 gold pieces (assuming we don’t have a buddy with Craft Wondrous Item), but our goblin flowing monk will now have¬†bracers of rebounding strike¬†that can be activated 3 times a day, granting 3 rounds of weapon damaging, kinetic action
 (Fort DC 13) with each use.

Maybe next time we’ll get lucky and hit the fields, but today we’re staying in the stables. Now, however, I am genuinely interested in putting together an elusive little goblin monk and am surprised I haven’t already…perhaps that will be something to be see in the upcoming Sidequest Saturdays? ūüėČ

Do you have a contribution or idea for Meta Thursdays? ¬†Send us your ideas (after reading the¬†submission guidelines) to submit(at)adventureaweek.com with ‚ÄúMeta Thursday‚ÄĚ in the subject line!