Showing posts from November, 2022

The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place: Creating Complex Tone In Your Adventures

As a Referee and adventure writer, I wholeheartedly believe that horror and malevolent danger only work in adventures if they are balanced by moments of ease, lighthearted connection, and empathy.   In the movie musical Dancer in the Dark*, possibly the most depressing movie, the moments of viewer escapism are wrapped into the story via imagined musical numbers. They function like Tolkien’s poetry songs in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, creating an alchemical balance that deepens the connection of the viewer/reader. But how do I do this in my elf game? Relentless grim can easily become samey, inducing a kind of numbness in your players that can make them connect less with the world. There are a couple principles I consider and use to balance this in my home game. They are informed by the GMing philosophy of Nate Lumpkin over at Swamp of Monsters. 1.  The world is Not a Cold Dead Place: events do not revolve around your player characters’ actions. Another way of saying this mi

The Grinding Wheels of Disorder: A Method for Managing Factions and Their Moves

 I have struggled, and I know I am not alone in this, to maintain the movement of factions in my home campaign. When one plays biweekly, one is focused first on what the players will or could encounter at the table. I tend to prefer building campaigns that way, rushing a bit ahead of my players to hang drywall and slap up paint, creating a strange metallurgist intrigued by hypnotic space metals, what have you. But where this method (or lack of a real method) falls down is managing the various machinations happening "off screen". In my current campaign "Postcards from the Edge" which is based vaguely on Spelljammer 2e, there are four main factions which I have developed with my players during pre-session 0 world and character creation. I also have an intentionally deeply malevolent and authoritarian mindflayer faction, the Dominator Creed, or as they self style, "The Planar Voyagers".  As we are now a year into this campaign, I have found that it's diff