Sunday, December 14, 2014

Traitors - Who are they?

Nearly every society needs to have its traitors, but not every traitor is the same. Before we get too deep in, I think we need a definition of “traitor”. For this post, we assume that a traitor is someone who is actively working against their own government. But why?

Knowing the motivation of the traitor is incredibly important. There are those crusading “traitors” who are working against the evil aspects of their government. Sure, they’re traitors to their government, whatever style of government that might be, but they are patriots who love their country as well. They aren’t going to burn the crops and salt the fields just to win. This is their homeland and they need to preserve it while defeating the government.

Similarly, there are those traitors who are just traitors against a small number of people in the government. This is often the case when the younger brother seeks to overthrow his older brother the king. Again, this is the land he wants to rule. He is not going to want to destroy the capital city that he intends to rule from. Here he might be willing to burn the crops of those who support his brother, but would still not want to do serious permanent damage to the prize he seeks to win.

A lot of historical traitors have turned coat simply because their feelings were hurt. Most often these are the guys who want recognition for something and when they don’t get it, they sell out their country/government. Sometimes it is obvious that they have switched sides, like when they show up with someone else’s army behind them, but sometimes it is not so clear. Would a scorned general allow an enemy into the country just so he can then lead his troops to victory and become the hero? Would a craftsman of some sort turn over the plans to a new factory because he wasn’t given the chance to manage the project? These traitorous acts in order to boost your own reputation nearly always backfire, but that’s not what’s going through his head when he’s committing the crimes.

What’s the outcome? Well, often you wind up with war, sometimes civil war. One of the main issues is that even if it goes this far - What do you do afterwards? How many times have younger brothers either tried to or successfully overthrown older brother kings? What do you do with the nobles from the other side? Most often they are forgiven and allowed to continue on as if nothing happened. Maybe they lose some land that the winner rewards his guys with, but not too much changes. Sometimes the winner is so pissed that he starts executing folks and taking lands wholesale. That’s when the consequences become harsh and long standing. Those who paid the price for backing the wrong guy remember the punishments, and so do their children (typically as a blood feud). I cannot give the true historic reference, but I recall reading about a younger prince who tried to overthrow his brother nine or ten times (in France). Each time was a failure, and the prince, being royal, could not be executed, only told to stay in his distant rural castle. Even though the winner/king did not try to punish the guys siding with his younger brother, the battles themselves cost the kingdom so many nobles from that generation that it had a serious impact on society.

More on Traitors soon.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Toot Toot Take 2

We love all our distribution channels, so to not forget about our wonderful friends over at Warehouse 23, here are the ones given 5 stars over there:

100 Bar Drinks

The Alchemist’s Lab
Gods and Demons
The Royalty
A Baker’s Dozen Villains (OK, not 5, but nearly - looks like 5-5-4 as the three ratings)

Why is there a difference? Well not all of our products get reviewed, so just because something isn’t shown as a 5 star, doesn’t mean it isn’t - maybe it has not yet been reviewed. Also - Not everyone gets our stuff. Many people believe that if it doesn’t increase their damage then it isn’t a worthwhile role-playing supplement. We’re far more about the role-playing then we are about the stat manipulation!
Also - We are able to offer bundles on RPGNow, but Warehouse 23 does not have that functionality. So it is actually a little cheaper to buy more of our stuff if you’re on RPGNow. But please understand that we love them both!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Who’s in your sex cult?

Well, we talked about the death cults, so I guess we should talk about the sex cults too. Yeah - I know - pretty sensational topic, but I think it’s fairly valid.

Do you have sex cults? Do you have a love god(dess)? What kind of love do they support? In my main pantheon, I have a goddess of marriage, who although she does cover some manners of sex is certainly not supported by sex cults. I have a goddess of beauty, but again, she’s a muse and not a supporter of sex cults. There is a goddess of prostitution. She has a sex cult! There is another “love” goddess from a different pantheon - OK, a lust goddess. She has multiple sex cults supporting her. So I don’t want to imply that every pantheon has sex cults or that they are completely mainstream. I think even in a fantasy world, most sex cults would be considered abnormal by the “regular folk”. (Sort of like the Bacchanalia were not acceptable to the average lowly citizens.)

Just like we did with the death cults I want to think about some of these things in our world. I watch a lot of wacky stuff on TV, and I’ve seen sex cults depicted on what claims to be reality TV. (That was my warning that you need to take this with a dose or seven of salt.) There seem to be two main types of sex cults. The first is where the leader of the cult is abusing other members of the cult, most typically the young girls. In these cases, the leader is typically a charismatic brain washer who convinces the members of his full or near divinity and then leads through fear. The members here, especially the men who are doing the abuse, will likely be fanatics. Their brains are so mixed up, that they will do what the leader says, even to the point of entering battles they know they can’t win. But it is also important to think about the fact that they should be considered mind controlled. There are a lot of magics that affect things like this, so whether the mind control is magical, mental or just mundane, there may be ways that the good guys can reverse the affects.

The other type of sex cult is one based on money. Here it is effectively organized prostitution. Here most of the “members” have no faith. They pay their donations to the temple in order to get sex. The whole religion thing is just a rationalization. Here the members and the “clergy” are going to be vastly less interested in taking any risks. Now their money will have bought them power, both military and political power, and that is not useless, but don’t expect the faithful to rise up in their fanaticism.

Who are these people? Well, the ones in the mind controlled cult are typically pretty normal. Too often they are the most simplistic folks who are being taken advantage of. From a straight up adventurer status, this typically means they are easy to defeat. (Does your game support evil priests having mind control “spells”? It really would make sense if it did. Since Legend Quest doesn’t use classes, priests in our game can be anything.) After the bad guys (leaders) are defeated, what do you do with the members/victims? For the monetary ones, you’re talking about some guys who have deep embarrassment of what they are doing, but overwhelming desire to still do it. That’s why they wrap themselves in these excuses of religion. Who are these guys now? Well, they are the creepy guys. The quiet, timid guys who never dated and likely live in the house they inherited from their parents. No, not just any shy guys, the creepy ones who need to fulfill their sexual desires by visiting the temple of the love goddess. Again, don’t expect them to either be able or willing to put up a fight. From an adventurer’s point of view, it is only the hired help that should be a threat.

I don’t know if this helps anyone in the planning of their missions, but it might help you plan out some of your cities. Then again, good characters may see either the young girls or the purchased slaves of these cults as people who need saving, so this may just be next week’s urban adventure. Then again, the comments here probably cover more than just sex cults, and may be useable for other cults as well.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Calling All Legend Quest Players

OK - Consistently getting products posted out there is not our strong suit, but we got another one out: A Baker’s Dozen Archetypal Characters. Need a starting level character for a game tonight - right here! Need a mid-level character to help or hinder the party - right here! Need a more advanced character - you guessed it, right here.

Here are 13 characters each at three levels of experience. These are strong, well rounded characters of use to most parties. To help out a bit, we also added a page on how I make up characters, just to give you the ultimate insider’s perspective on how to get Legend Quest to work for you. Oh, and it’s only 99cents, so probably in your price range!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Toot Toot

That was our own horn. Well, we’re not actually tooting our own horn, we’re telling you about other people who did. Here is a short list of some of the products currently rated as FIVE STARS on RPG Now:
Legend Quest - Full Rule Bundle
City of Rhum Bundle
City of Rhum
100 Professions
100 Towns
A Baker’s Dozen Villains
Character Foundry
Forge of Imagination: Spark of an Idea
Warriors Guild of Rhum
Empty Crypt
Amberrose Incident

Clearly someone thinks we're doing something right. Maybe you should check them out too!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Magic Items in Legend Quest

I’m not sure that everybody out there understands how enchanters in Legend Quest work. This goes for the folks who play it as well as the folks who don’t. So let me lay it out there.

In the Legend Quest rule book, and then expanded in Book of Wishes and The Alchemist’s Lab, we actually laid out how magic items get made. In laying out how the items are made (cost of materials plus the cost of labor), we lay out exactly how much it costs for alchemicals and enchantments. But it’s far more than that.

The rules lay out how difficult it is to learn to cast those magical spells to create those items. In so doing, we not only listed how expensive the items (actually the spells that create them) but also placed a clear cap on the power. How did we do that? Well, any GM who has created some starting level characters and some starting to mid-range enemies for his/her players will know exactly how powerful an enchanter could be. In Fletnern I have NOT made up every enchanter in the world, but I have set a level cap of this: There are no enchanters above power level 5. Even those guys who do have Pow 5, most of them are hidden away in the island city of Rimmim, so trying to get specific magical items can be very difficult to obtain.

OK - Some of the numbers: Starting characters start with 250 character points to build their characters. A typical adventure grants you around 25 character points in experience. So a 500 point character is one who has been on about 10 adventures (fighting forces typically equal or more powerful as they are). Guys who stay home - I usually give them about 10CP per year for “offsite experience”. A power level of five in enchanting magical power costs 320 character points. Figure that guy will need to have at least 100 points in attributes and must have another 100 points in skills that do not directly affect his enchanting. The Strength enchantment spell takes 25, and enhancing his abilities with that spell would be 5/10/20/or 40 points. So just to cast a power level 5 strength enchantment, which would put a human on par with a troll, would require at least 550 points. Assuming he is not an adventurer (and what enchanter is?), that means that he would have needed to spend the majority of his 55 years of life doing pretty much nothing other than cast the strength enchantment and learning how to cast it, and he cannot do anything else of value. To get to a power level 6 would require another 320 points meaning he might be able to pull it off during his 87th year - not likely. That’s how we restrict the power level of magic.

Now - There are ways around this, but even my simplistic explanation here isn’t all that realistic. This guy would only have a 60% (ish) chance of success, so it isn’t exactly realistic or the best way to do things. Yes - Of course there are ways to enhance things, especially with magical talismans and other enchantments, but you are still going to be having trouble getting above five power levels.

Look - We’re not here to bore you to death with numbers. We’re hoping you’re still here. The point is more that there should be and need to be limits to what can be done. But let’s also look at the other side of things - The points can also tell us that this 55yo enchanter could be less powerful but having far more spells - spells that might be valuable in the community (or even if those spells are not directly combat related). This is one of the many reasons that Legend Quest supports magic items that are not directly combat related.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

PCs as contacts

So I was watching a newer TV show. This female character appears, she’s in danger, blah blah. I get it. You need to have clueless characters in the show so some more knowledgeable character can explain to the newbie, and therefore the audience, what’s going on.
Side track: I hate this on Criminal Minds. Love the show, hate when they imply that professional profilers need Reid to explain Jack the Ripper lore to them. I know it’s a trope and a tool, but too far a leap.
OK - So they get the newbie involved in a lifestyle that will be dangerous to her every week, but this woman with no understanding of the violence and horror of “adventuring” goes along. I hate that. Sure, she’s nice to look at, but that character should go running screaming into the night, not joining up! My question is - Should we allow PCs to do the same?

I admit, I haven’t done this. I’ve partially retired the characters of players who aren’t around anymore, but not active characters. I guess they never asked for it. But I am going to allow it going forward. Here’s how I want it to work:

Something happens in game to the PC. Maybe they are maimed or something happens role-playing wise (they lose a close friend, watch a child die, see their god’s angel turn on humanity, could be anything), and they decide that to be true to the character, he/she needs to retire. First off, what will that character do for a living? I would want them to have a chance of becoming involved again. Maybe they become a bar owner and the party hangs out there. Too common. I don’t think they should become a weapons or magic dealer - That seems too powerful.

So what have I done? Admittedly, one of the most useful retired PCs we ever had was a pimp. I didn’t come up with that; the player did. He did it to upset others in the party, but once the player was no longer around, his character became a pimp full time. He was useful; his girls heard things and could be used as distractions. That campaign is and was often focused on urban adventures, so it was probably more useful than it would be to those out dungeon exploring. What could be good? A land lord? The local lord’s tax collector? The local priest? Librarian at the city’s magical university? These are some ideas that could be useful, but are not key to every mission. One great benefit from this? You can give the now NPC experience/character points, so if they are ever needed back in the campaign they are not completely left behind. I usually allow half the experience that the slowest PC is getting - but you can decide what’s fair.

What about the player? I would give a same for same powered character - same level, number of character points or whatever you use. I would even give a magic item or two to keep them competitive in the game - not everything that the old PC had - not as many healing potions and little one shots, but a couple of the more majors. That way, the player is not materially affected for having done the right thing as a role-player.

If you have done or eventually do this - Please let me know how it went. I’m certain there are things to learn from good and bad results here!