Jul 21

Looming Deadline for the July Contest

journal square


As mentioned previously, July sees a new home for the Warlock’s Journal.


It is now back with Matthew at his Warlock’s Sanctum blog. As usual, a new home means a new Contest. This round of the Warloack’s Journal Contest is described on the site as follows:


As the Journal’s pages turn, entries of orders of magic emerge. Some good, some evil, all with an objective. Let’s learn more.

This time the contest is the write up your own ‘order of magicians’. Or wizards, witch, etc.


The entries for the Contest must be in by 24 July 2014. You need to write, edit and submit your 500 words describing a magical order VERY promptly. This month sees one, or perhaps two, prizes of store credit with DriveThru on offer. Here is a prize which appeals to most gamers.


All the voting rules, and the additional details about the Contest are listed at Warlock’s Sanctum.


Best of luck, and get designing VERY quickly.



Jul 18

Guest Post: How to Score a Goal!



In Something for the Weekend this week, I have another Guest Post for you. This post is from Kenny “the Cabbage” Norris. Kenny blogs regularly at The Lone Cabbage, where he focuses on solo roleplaying.


Kenny’s previous Guest Post was Flat Social Roleplaying & How to Avoid It.


This week, Kenny returns to talk about pursuing goals. Over to you, Kenny.


The World Cup is over, thankfully so, but I still want to talk about goals. These aren’t the goals that you see scored either by penalty, free kick, or during normal play. These goals are the goals that got the players (sorry can’t name any: David Seaman retired years ago) to where they are.

These same goals will also take your characters to new levels and depths.

John was driving to work, George was starting a new game tonight. They had discussed things as a group and this time they decided that they were going to go for a more story driven game. Adam and Becca, after the success of the last campaign, had decided to give it a go.


3 Types of Goals

There is much written about goals. Not what’s found in the sports pages, but that which is found in the self-help, or management, sections of the bookstore, and to be found on the ‘net. I’ve read a few books dealing with goals but nothing has stuck for me. I’m still terrible at setting and maintaining goals. For proof all you have to do is look at my decreasing-increasing waistline (decreasing now thankfully).


There are three broad stages in goal creation:

  • knowing where you are
  • knowing where you want to be
  • going in the right direction


George laid out the idea of the campaign the group agreed on. It was inspired by Babylon 5. Humankind got drawn into a war by two alien groups. Humans, being the most advanced race, were the shepherds and protectors of the younger races since the last advanced race went Beyond the Rim. Alone the humans were being manipulated in two directions at once.

Something has to give . . .


Around the outside of the broad stages of goal direction are a few tips that I picked up. It is best if a goal is concrete and written in a positive and time-limited manner.


Goal: Type 3

Of course that is great for us in real life (and I hope it’ll be helpful to you) but it’s our fictional characters, our avatars, we’re creating goals for. In that respect we don’t need to worry about the now as much. It’s the direction we’re taking the avatar that’s important.


For our characters we need the following:

  1. a concrete destination
  2. a positive write up
  3. a nebulous time limit
  4. a narrow focus


Concrete Destination

Even if you don’t do the rest: knowing where you want your character to go, and why, will give your character depth making them seem more real.

Very few people out in the public spotlight get there because they happen to be in the right place and time. They get there because they worked long and hard to achieve their goals. It is the result of their aims, and direction, in life that gets them in the public view. Which gets them their mega-bucks. Few do not want the money, money is a side effect, they want something else.

Knowing what they want is important but why they want it, also how far they will go, give colour to your character. A man who wants to save his daughter from a life threatening illness can be played many ways:

  • an evil scientist who attempts any and all methods including killing other girls
  • a man who wants the best care for his daughter and goes out to get rich to spend his money on her treatment
  • a man who retrains to become a scientist so he can work on a cure for his daughter
  • a mystic who makes a deal with the Devil to save his daughter in return for his soul

There are many more ways how this character can be played. Adding concrete language into the goal can give it an entirely different meaning than some ‘cookie-cutter’ goal.

I have one more bit of advice: make the goal primal.

Make the basic goal in such a way that a caveman can understand it. Make it big. Make it all encompassing. Make it the character’s final option. There can be no other goals. If this fails then the life of the character is over. Life doesn’t just mean physical life. It can be:

  • social,
  • emotional,
  • psychological, or
  • work related.


Positive Write-Up

In the grand scheme of things this does not matter. If you make any, and all, goals positive then they should be second nature when you come to make your own future life goals.


So no ‘I want’ or ‘I aim’. It’s all ‘I will’ or ‘My goal is’.


Nebulous Time Limit

This is the only time that I tell you not to do something concrete in relation to the goals of the character.
When creating goals there needs to be time limit. In life we need a solid date: a good deadline. In roleplaying socially there are other characters involved and things going on. So have a deadline, yes, but make sure it can be adapted to the needs of the group, the game, and the campaign.


Narrow Focus

Phil has learnt this lesson. So have I. We focused upon what’s important to us.
So does your character.
When building your character you need them to have a focus in their life. That is what the goal provides. You need to look at your character’s goal to make sure that the whole group is aligned in a similar direction. This is not to say that all of the character’s in a group need the same goal. What they need are goals that are aligned and intersect well with each other.


George had asked Adam, Becca, and John to prepare a list of goals they thought they would like their character to do in-game. John had expected, and was not surprised, when Adam and Becca came out with about 6 goals between them. John introduced his list of goals: a mix between what he wanted and thought that Adam and Becca could get alongside with.

After a discussion the 3 players, with George’s help, came up with a goal for each character that all aligned with each other.

Adam: Become the Sector Commander.
Becca: Become the Head of the Sector’s Secret Service.
John: Jantil’s goal is to discover the truth behind his wife’s mysterious disappearance and to discover the meanings of the strange messages and payments he is receiving.



An Ending?

Creating goals is never an end. It’s always the start.

The start of a new path.

It, too, is an end. A true goal is the end of other related, and non-related, goals.

Once you start upon the path stick to it: a path through meadows is nice. But nice is not what stories are made from.

Story is made from conflict.

Conflict is made from difficulties in the path towards the goal.

Coming in a fortnight: Conflict vs. Goals


Kenny wrote a companion piece to this article, focused on solo role-playing, which has been uploaded to The Lone Cabbage.

Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Happy Gaming


Something for the Weekend next week: July RPG Blog Carnival

Jul 17

Prep in Progress: Chapter 20, Part 4


The Prep in Progress entries are short summaries of my prep for my ongoing campaign The Tales of the Hero Wars.


The game prep yesterday actually went off well. I completed the session plan and the whole of the remaining Ten Scene Plot for the catacombs. This feels like a big achievement, as these catacombs should be good for several sessions of play. This means I have enough story already prepared to allow me a break over the next few weeks. I can thus devote a decent amount of time to other parts of the game that need my attention.


Of course, at the top of this list is the Wiki. I have worked through a little of the backlog recently, but there is still a lot remaining. I also need to catch up on some of the other administrative tasks, such as update the campaign calendar and make fresh notes about the Heroes’ best abilities.


I also like to use the ongoing campaign as a source of design material for both blog posts and future publications. This area needs some work too. Thus, from being in a poor position for my prep, I suddenly feel that a burden has been lifted and that I am in a good place with the campaign.


Happy Gaming


Jul 16

Kickstarting Barbarians of Lemuria: Mythic Edition



The previous Kickstarter I recommended was Primetime Adventures, a game of television drama.


The Kickstarter love continues into July with my latest find, Barbarians of Lemuria: Mythic Edition, created by Simon Washbourne. The campaign page describes the game as follows:


Barbarians of Lemuria: Mythic Edition – fast, rules-lite, sword and sorcery roleplaying in the Lands of Lemuria.

“It is a savage age of sorcery and bloodshed, where strong men and beautiful women, warlords, priests, magicians and gladiators battle to carve a bloody path leading to the Throne of Lemuria. It is an age of heroic legends and valiant sagas. And this is one of them . . .”


There is so much in this game for me to like. I prefer the fast, rules-lite type of game that Barbarians of Lemuria promises. The swords and sorcery setting should fit better into my bronze age campaign than many medieval-era games. So I am expecting to find plenty of details to adopt from Barbarians of Lemuria.


Indeed, depending upon how much I like the setting, I may simply use it wholesale as a country in my campaign. Alternatively, I may choose to make Lemuria one of the parallel worlds to my main setting, and explore the possibilities of planar travel.


Funding for Barbarians of Lemuria closes Sunday, August 10th, and it is already well past its target. This Kickstarter has also passed funding and backer stretch goals, which has upgraded the art content of the book and added several scenarios to the package. By the time we reach August 10th, I am sure that even more of these goals will have been met, making Barbarians of Lemuria excellent value.


The Kickstarter will reprint this 2007 game in an updated, expanded and revised version. Simon has integrated the feedback from fans to improve the game. Two of Simon’s adventures have already been added to the package, along with one from Garnett “G-Man” Elliott.


Take a look at Barbarians of Lemuria to see what else has been added to the package, and support the game for some fast, rules-lite, sword and sorcery action.


Happy Gaming

Jul 15

Prep in Progress: Chapter 20, Part 3


The Prep in Progress entries are short summaries of my prep for my on-going campaign The Tales of the Hero Wars.


As previously explained, family circumstances have kept me away from writing and blogging.


Eldest son is slowly learning to cope with his cast, and we are all growing accustomed to the new routine. The summer break still looks like being a long one. However, I am starting to find some time for my writing again, which allows for more posts on the blog and a return to the game prep.


There was no game session last week, but I am hopeful to run something for this weekend. Even if it is going to be a short session, I shall need to put in more prep to have plenty of options for the Players. As ever, Wednesdays are my best day for game prep.


In an earlier post, I outlined the basic features for the catacombs.


All I need to do is write up the details for the remainder of the underground complex. This was planned out as a Ten Scene Plot, and I have already described three of the scenes. Thus, I need the details for the remaining seven scenes. These are a mix of challenges, covering role-playing, problem-solving and the traditional combat scenes. I hope to sort these in a couple of hours tomorrow, and thus leave myself time for some additional writing.


The big advantage of these dungeon-style scenarios is that they tend to play out slowly. This means that the prep time I invest tomorrow can be enough to carry us through several sessions. This should thus ease my prep burden for the next couple of weeks, if not longer.


Happy Gaming


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