Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Original Title of this Post was "Short Update." Ha!

The weekends just seem to fly by anymore. It feels like I got a ton of work finished but now that I look back it seems like almost nothing. I've been working on getting my campaign setting written down into a user friendly format so my players can go to it as a resource just like any other rulebook. I've managed to get through the introduction and a few of the race descriptions and rules. Here is a brief excerpt from the section on Lepidons, a race that replaces lizard folk in the world of Korr. They are still lizard folk, but built as a character race instead of a monster race.

Physical Description: Lepidons stand 6 to 7 feet tall and weigh 200 to 250 pounds although their slightly hunched posture makes them appear shorter. Their scale covered bodies span a range of colors similar to chromatic dragons and some breeds even feature short spikes, colorful fins or spotted color patterns. They occasionally run into problems while traveling outside of their rainforest homes, as most furniture is not made to accommodate their 4 foot tails. Female lepidons are more slender and smaller than their male counterparts, but just as deadly.
While lepidons have fairly simple lifestyles, they love colorful and gaudy clothing and gear. Much of their wardrobe is accessorized with large colorful feathers, animal skins and bulky gold jewelry. In lepidon culture a victorious warrior is entitled to the spoils of war and successful soldiers are often covered in the baubles of their vanquished foes.
Race Relations: Many races are uncomfortable around lepidons, viewing them as savages and only slightly more tolerable than some intelligent monsters. On the other hand those who are fortunate enough to befriend a member of this honor-bound race have gained an ally for life. Lepidons have a hard time relating to others outside of their society. Their straightforward attitude and blunt honesty are often interpreted as aggression or insults. This becomes more problematic as they view the social mannerisms of more civilized cultures to be frivolous and deceptive without much real substance.

In more exciting news, my blog was featured in a post on The DM's Screen by Mark, the EvilDM! When it comes to describing a setting Mark is no mere writer, he is an artist and words are his paint. I openly admit that descriptive scenes are probably the weakest link in my GM chain, so it is nice to see some true inspiration. To illustrate what I mean here is an example from a recent adventure I authored. In it, the party ventured deep into the Prindepth Catacombs, a long forgotten tomb located beneath the looted remains of a master illusionist's workshop.

Passing through the narrow corridor you step into a spacious, well lit burial chamber. The room is lined with stone coffins, mostly open, with skeletal remains within. Near the room's center is a stone throne - a pile of bones lay in a heap at it's base wearing little more than rags and a dented suit of armor.

While it's not bad, I would rate it as okay at best. I have written way better stuff in the past but for the most part that's par for the course.

On the other hand, here is a brief excerpt from Mark's continuing story: A Matter of the Heart.

Within the chill gloom of a seldom travelled corridor, stands an archway of hand-chiselled granite, dimly illuminated by the glow of wall-mounted torches.  At odds with the rest of its surroundings, the archway, and everything contained beyond its portcullised door, had been in existence long before the castle surrounding it had been erected, so many generations ago.

Boom! With a few descriptive sentences Mark's simple hallway is easily ten times more interesting than my ancient burial chamber! This is a great example of descriptive storytelling and I suggest anyone with an interest in GMing to take a look at Mark's work over at The DM's Screen. 

Oh, and on a final note, the domain names are all set up! Now you can go to! Pretty exciting stuff.



  1. Sir Matt,

    You do me a great honour indeed! You are the very first to reference a piece of my work outside of my blog. For that honour, you have my sincere gratitude. And please, do not sell your descriptive skills short, you clearly have the GM gift, and as a player, I would be more than immersed in your game upon reading/hearing that description of yours.

    You have a very obvious talent, do not underestimate it, or sell it short - I would not have poster about this blog site, 'War Bear', if I didn't feel it worthy of note and deserving of a greater audience.

    Passion, imagination, dedication is what makes a good blog great, and you, sir, have it in bucket loads. Don't be shy about it, be proud instead.

    Kind regards,

    Mark :)

  2. PS - I forgot to say, when I've DM'd my games I approach them as I would a story, and the players are the characters within that story, in which, through their actions write the whole book, as it were.

    I never start a game with a ream of notes/storyline. I generate a single line or two of an idea, then allow the players to dictate the course it takes. I treat the games as life, for within real life there are no scripts to follow, and all decisions are 50% chance. Some choices we make are bad, some indifferent and on occasion, utterly fantastic.

    I feel there is nothing worse - and I've been on the end of this in one of the few instances I've been a player - than having a DM/GM stick rigidly to a scripted module, so in the end you know fully well your path is linear and no matter what, you WILL get to that misty tower.

    My advice for any DM/GM would be, if you want to breathe life into your games, treat them as life, not just a set of rules and rigid pathways to the ultimate goal.

    Just keep a large (thick) notepad your side, a calculator, many, many pencils, a length of elastic (for line of sight issue resolving), rubber (or in the US, an eraser), and my ultimate god-send, a dry wipe white marker board and pens - many a location illustration has been done quick-time on one of these, plus great for a visual of combat placing, especially if you have one of those players who quibble about where they were at any given time in the action.

    Apologies for the second post, but being senile is a terrible thing ;)

  3. PPS - updated my blog to include your new web addy - congrats, my friend :)

  4. I can confirm that Mark is an amazing DM and his powers of description are astounding! He can set up a scene effortlessly with just a few sentences and have you sitting on the edge of your seat in fear or weeping into your character sheet with just a word.

    Mr War Bear keep up the blogging you've got some really interesting posts, I'm glad Mark linked you in his blog.

  5. While I like the idea of playing off the cuff games I am much too attached to writing them out ahead of time. That isn't to say that the players are restricted to a single series of events, they are free to go and do as they please, But I find it comforting do have things written down to fall back on.