Sunday, April 7, 2013

That which makes me smarter

You know that old saying about that which does not kill me only makes me stronger? I feel that way about knowledge. The more I learn, the better it is for everything, especially game mastering. I watch all sorts of BBC, PBS and History Channel stuff. I especially like the “worst job” series. They gave all sorts of information about actually living in the olden times that I can use in my world. Whole cultures I have sort of ignored now have filled me with ideas. Some of them include: the Aztec swords (macuahuitl). I knew about them, but I didn’t think about them because they don’t fit that paradigm of what “fantasy” is. I have since put them in my game, both made from obsidian and using shark’s teeth (little shark’s tooth daggers that do tearing damage for my feral island halflings). Also Aztec - the chinampas or floating gardens. They built up raised platforms in the swampy areas often anchored by trees. The mud was built up and up until it was above the level of the river water. Now you have farmland where once you had only river bed, and a constant flow of irrigation. I gave it to my Arabian Nights based culture, and it works great to explain why they could build a big city in a desert (by a river). For prehistoric cultures, I fall back on a “camp” I went to as a kid. I participated in an archeological dig where we were pulling out artifacts from ancient Indian villages. I learned all about flint, flint napping, long houses, etc. What’s the point? When you’re a GM, you need to do everything - build a world, build cultures, build NPCs, build adventures. The more you know about everything, the better you do that. So when you’re setting up a night’s game, don’t let yourself get too key-holed into “fantasy” stuff. Use all of your knowledge and it will become a much cooler game for you and your players.

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