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Thoughts on World Creation: Magic Part 2

Tweet Magic Part 2 – Meta Magic Meta magic is one of my favorite aspects of a magic-rich fantasy world. Imagine naval warfare without submarines and sonar. Imagine cyberpunk without netrunners. That’s how I see fantasy without meta-magic. I’m paraphrasing and borrowing the term from Steve Jackson Games’ GURPS. In there magic system is a college of magic called “meta-spells.” These are, simply put, spells about magic. The simplest example would be a dispel magic spell — a mage equivalent of disarming a trap. But meta magic can go much deeper than that, and it should. If magic is pervasive in your setting, and the stakes are high enough, it should be routine to make sure certain magical countermeasures are in place. Let’s take a look at a hypothetical scenario: a king is hiring the party to … Read entire article »

Filed under: Advice, Alternate Views, General Gaming

A Better GM Screen: Part Two – Your Weaknesses

Tweet In my last post, I talked about information that could be included on GM screens to make us better GMs — not just better at the rules. In that post, I focused on information about the PCs: perception numbers, weaknesses, enemies, etc. That’s the first panel, and it’s a pretty obvious choice if you think about it. It’s information that every GM at one point or another realizes he or she consistently needs. Where to start? For the other panels on the screen, that requires more thought, and truth be told, I don’t think it’s going to be the same for every GM. We all run our games differently, and we all have different weaknesses and areas that can improve. The key to filling out the rest of the screen, I think, is … Read entire article »

Filed under: Advice, Alternate Views, General Gaming

A Better GM Screen: Part One – Your Protagonists

Tweet Most GM screens give you either three or four 8.5×11 panels on either side for information. This is a very small amount of real estate, considering the size of most rule books. I’m sure there’s a great deal of consternation when game designers decides what to include and what to exclude from the screen. In some cases, it doesn’t seem there’s much thought at all. We’ve all looked at a particular table on a screen and wondered, “why that chart?” And as you gain confidence and experience with a system the information on the screen (if you use it at all) eventually becomes unnecessary. But what if we used that real estate for something else? What if, instead of using it to make us better rules authorities, we used it to make us … Read entire article »

Filed under: Advice, Alternate Views, General Gaming, Opinion

Thoughts on World Creation: Magic

Tweet My continuing series on fantasy world creation. There are a couple of very important questions a GM must ask about magic during the world creation process. Simply slapping magic on top of a medieval setting just doesn’t ring true. Something as powerful as magic is going to change civilization in some way — or be changed by it. Mages: Corner Practitioners or Feared Outcasts? This is critical. How does the average person view mages? Are they like a modern day doctor? Can you find one on every corner? Is the a Magic Item Mart(tm) down on Market Road, run by a friendly gnomish enchanter? Or do average people look on powerful mages with fear and distrust? Perhaps there’s justification for a distrust of mages and magic. After all, can you really trust someone who can … Read entire article »

Filed under: Adventure Design, Advice

Thoughts on World Creation

Tweet I’m in the planning stages for a GURPS Fantasy game I’m planning on running with Google+ Hangouts and one of the several online RPG tools that works with it. I’m starting with world creation, and the picture to the left (as well as a multi-page setting description) is the sum of it. It is a very large island with two large cities, a couple outposts to look out for invaders and a large forested/marshland area controlled by hostile amphibious goblins who worship the dark god of the underseas. The humans who live on the island have made several attempts to settle the goblin-controlled Eastlands, but all attempts have met with failure and death. Additionally, there mountain range in the Westlands is rich with silver. Several mines exist in the mountains, and the powers that … Read entire article »

Filed under: Adventure Design, Advice