Jul 07

Sigil PD: Chapter 22, Part 3

Character (4) head


No game, Campaign Overview sheet & Sigil’s Factions



There was no roleplay last weekend, nor is there a game planned for next weekend. This combination means I have no game prep to work on tomorrow.


Instead, I shall use the time for some of my bigger projects. First of all I need to compile the campaign outline, now that I have printed out the new design. This may trigger some tinkering with the layout, but to properly understand if the design is fit for my purposes, then I need to use it. Additionally, I intend to look at some of the other gaming tasks awaiting attention. The campaign calendar is long overdue an update, and if I want to include the Sigil Factions in our game, then I need a list of their beliefs and conflicts.


There are more items on my list, but this seems a good place to start. I have long established the principle that it is better to set modest goals, and over-achieve, than it is to aim too high. My writing always seems to overrun, so it is probably best to keep to these moderate targets.


Crossing these items off my list would be a valuable achievement.


Happy Gaming



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


Jul 06

ENnies 2015 Voting


ENnies_LogoGen Con is looming, which also means it is time to vote on the ENnies.


The ENnies website describes the awards as follows:


The Gen Con EN World RPG Awards (the “ENnies”) are an annual fan-based celebration of excellence in tabletop roleplaying gaming. The ENnies give game designers, writers and artists the recognition they deserve. It is a peoples’ choice award, and the final winners are voted upon online by the gaming public.


There are many sections to these awards, and I am unfamiliar with a lot of the nominees. I have voted for those items I know about, but the voting process does link to relevant sites if you wish to learn more before casting your vote.


I am all in favour of giving creators the recognition they deserve, so I urge you to participate.


Log your vote for the ENnies here.


Happy Voting



Jul 05

Writing Goals, 5th July 2015


TalesOfAGM CrossHi Everyone,


Here it is Sunday again, so time for my weekly update. Previously on Tales of a GM:


  • 4 hours – Primary Goal – Dyvers Project HeroQuest 2 essay
  • 2.5 hours – Secondary Goal – Game Chef reviews
  • 1 hour – Tertiary Goal – Smolensk pdf
  • 2 hours – Social Media – Visit different Forums and write five posts or comments
  • 2 hours – Write long blog post
  • 2 hours – Fiction Goal – Write Ten Pets
  • 30 mins – Weekly Task – Website


Despite the comparatively hot weather, this has been a good week for me. The Dyvers essay was posted one day late, but I think the extra time spent on the editing was worth it. Amazingly, this essay was picked up by both the designer and publisher of HeroQuest. This has led to some stellar traffic numbers, which has to be good for the blog long-term.


Elsewhere, I have written two of the four Game Chef reviews I need. This looks to be on schedule for uploading on the 8th of July. The additional essays for the Smolensk pdf are now in the editing stage, so this feels to be on schedule this week. I really need the bulk of the editing done, so I can complete the layout next week. This is a tight schedule, but progress seems good for the moment.


Sadly, there was no roleplaying this weekend, as we had to take Gerrard to a party. Already, so much of my life revolves around their social life, and the boys are only 5 and 6. However, I did play Magic with Jace, which is always fun.


Moving forward, I am still working through the tasks according to their deadlines. My targets for this week are:


  • 4 hours – Primary Goal – Game Chef reviews
  • 2.5 hours – Secondary Goal – Johnn Four essay
  • 1 hour – Tertiary Goal – Smolensk pdf
  • 2 hours – Social Media – Visit different Forums and write five posts or comments
  • 2 hours – Write long blog post
  • 2 hours – Fiction Goal – Write Ten Pets
  • 30 mins – Weekly Task – Website


Once more, a good start to the week should carry me forward, and I hope to clear the desk a little more before the long summer holiday.


I wish you all a good week



Jul 03

Summerland: An Overview


RPGBlogCarnivalLogoSmallAt the end of May I announced Summerland as the theme for June’s RPG Blog Carnival.


Hosting the Carnival was a wonderful opportunity for the blog, and a great chance for me to meet new Blogger friends. I shall definitely volunteer for another chance to act as host.


However, even though the Carnival has moved along to another blog, I still have one more task to perform. This essay brings together all the posts submitted as part of the Summerland topic.


Themes of Summer

As the articles rolled in over the course of June, several themes emerged. In the previous Carnival posts I listed the articles in the order they were submitted. For this summary, however, it is more informative to group the entries together by theme. I have identified five themes to Summerland:

  1. Holiday
  2. Festivals
  3. Food
  4. Setting
  5. A Broader Summer


Let us look at each one in turn.


1. Holidays

The theme of holiday is perhaps the most obvious, as summer is the time of year when people take a break from their normal routine.


James at World Builder Blog explored this theme with two linked articles. He described additional options for the Heroes in their downtime between quests. There are some great story seeds here, as plots can easily arise from the connections or organizations established during the downtime. Plus, as these downtime activities are Player-led, they provide the GM with lots of information about what the Players want to do in the game.


Downtime activities for Heroes


More downtime activities for Heroes


2. Festivals

The origins for modern holidays lie in the religious festivals of the past. Several writers submitted essays on this theme. Religion and belief should play a strong role in fantasy games, as this was such a central feature of historical cultures.


On this topic, I wrote an overview of summer farming festivals. These celebrations highlight the importance of the farming calendar, especially to rural communities. If the Heroes take on the role of the Lord of the Manor, then they need to preside over many of these festivals.


Summerland: Farming Festivals


While I took a broad focus, looking at several festivals, some writers chose to focus in on a single celebration. The first of these was Jay at Philgamer, who explored the azure dragon festival. Jay presents an amusing festival with plenty of entertaining possibilities for involving the Heroes.


The Azure Dragon Festival


Meanwhile, Sean at Sea of Stars described a civic festival celebrating the Empress’ Birthday. Summer is a time for all manner of festivities, and this one is suited to an urban setting.


The Empress’ Birthday


Over at the Moebius Adventures blog, grnknight described the mysterious blessings of the Sisterhood of the Long Summer. Just who are these strange sisters, and what is the real agenda of the cult which builds up around them? There is a great plot here, with the potential to develop however the GM chooses.


The Sisterhood of the Long Summer


Nor was grnknight alone in exploring the darker side of summer. V at Leicesters Ramble submitted a brief ritual for those who do not welcome the long days of summer. The Night of Hunger presents summer from the perspective of night creatures. One of the great joys of hosting the June Carnival has been seeing the ingenuity of our community of RPG bloggers, and this is a prime example.


The Night of Hunger


3. Food

As the Night of Hunger suggests, the topic of summer food also appeared. However, I was the only writer to explore this aspect of summer.


My first essay on food explored the forgotten hunger gap, that period in July when the stores ran out and prices rocketed. Inevitably, the poor suffered the most and the solution often involved hallucinogenic foods. This essay is ideal for fantasy games with a darker, more sinister tone.


The Hunger Gap


My second essay explored using summer foods to evoke a setting. I also suggested how modern and SF settings can use food to establish a sense of time and place in the game. Food is a great way to distinguish one location, or season, from another.


The Taste of Summer



4. Setting

In my original launch post I suggested how Summerland could be the name of a setting. This aspect of the topic also provided us with several essays.


I had a lot of fun writing a description of my version of Summerland, a fae Kingdom of Eternal Summer.


Summerland: Kingdom of Eternal Summer.


This version of Summerland also rang true with Tim Brannan at The Other Side, who wrote a description of a suitable fae queen. I described Titania in my article, but Tim’s entry is a lot more interesting.


Elena the Fair, the Witch Queen of Summer


Quinn at Dungeon Hacking was also inspired to write about Summerland as a setting, but adopted a more conventional approach. His Summerlands are a broad setting for his 5th Edition D&D campaign. Quinn submitted a whole series of articles about the setting.


Summerlands overview.


Origin stories and an important Summerlands feat: The Ritual of Evolution.


The sea kin human sub-race for 5th Edition.


A farmer/ fisher background for 5th Edition.


When I checked the above links, I found yet more entries by the prolific Quinn.


 Summerlands Antagonists: Sea Kin Enemies and Allies


Races of the Summerlands: The Varanus Lizardfolk


Classes of the Summerlands: The Feral Druid


Nor has the end of June stopped Quinn. He has already posted on the topic in July.


Danger in the Summerlands: Insects and disease


I am sure there will be many more posts to come, so if you are interested in his Summerlands setting, then visit Quinn at Dungeon Hacking. Thank you once again for your extensive contribution to the June Carnival, Quinn.


5 A Broader Summer

Finally, there were a few entries which adopted a broader approach to Summerland. These topics underline the creativity of the bloggers writing in our hobby.


Grimnir asked the important question “how does one fight against the sun?” This was a timely reminder of the cumulative effects of the sun and heat in general. I can relate to this approach on a personal level, as I sit here suffering from the heat.


Summerland, hot and bothered.


Dagorym at Arcane Game Lore reminded me of the need to include SF games in the carnival. He created a system to determine, and keep track of, the current season on any planet across a host of worlds in a sci-fi game. Summer is not just for fantasy, all our games have seasons.


What Season is it anyway?


Finally, there was Mark at the Grymvald Gazetteer corner of the CMG Blog Triad from Creative Mountain Games. He wrote a short article citing links to all manner of fascinating articles. Each dealt with the topic of summer, so I shall conclude this summary of Summerlands with another summary post.


CMG Summer links


July Carnival

Which brings us to July. Just as the seasons roll onwards, so too does the RPG Blog Carnival. The new host is Scott over at Of Dice and Dragons. The topic for July is Weapons of Legend. Scott describes the topic as follows:


When someone speaks of a legendary weapon most folks immediately go to those that have been called out in stories for centuries or popularized in the novels and movies of today. Some examples would include:

  • Excalibur, King Arthur’s war sword
  • Mjölnir, Thor’s hammer
  • Grayswandir, Corwin of Amber’s sword
  • Glamdring or Foe-hammer from J.R.R. Tolkien’s work


To learn more, and see more examples of Weapons of Legend, see Scott’s blog.



So that was the Summerland Blog Carnival. I had a great time reading the entries, and chatting with some great bloggers. I will definitely try to host again, but for now the baton has passed to Scott.


What was your favourite Summerland article? What important topic was missed by the bloggers? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


To learn more about the RPG Blog Carnival, see Johnn Four’s page at Roleplaying Tips.


Happy Gaming



Something for the Weekend last time: Why I Love HeroQuest 2.


Something for the Weekend next week: Trollbabe and Endings.


Jul 03

The Sigil Courier: Chapter 21

Ghastly Grim and Ancient

Sigil Courier

Late morning, Godsday, Hunt Week, Delve Season, 1034


The Return of Lady Ice

Strange stories have reached The Sigil Courier of the apparent return of the Terovian noble known a Lady Ice.

Our roving reporter in the haunted land of Terovia has heard conflicting accounts of the latest coup staged in blighted Castle Iastra. In a land of haunted dreams, it is hard to separate the nightmare from the truth. What is known is that a troop of townsfolk stormed the Castle.

What happened next is less clear. Did a statue really come to life to reclaim her ancestral seat? Did an avenging spirit step out of a twisted portrait to kill Baron Vadol? If the Baron is dead, then why do some townsfolk claim he is still the ruling dhampyr?

Seemingly, the clock has turned back five years in Castle Iastra, with Lady Ice resuming her taloned grip on town. How long she can hold control this time remains to be seen.

Read the in-depth report on Page 5.


Harmonium Test new Tech

A spokesbeing for the Harmonium has confirmed plans to extend the roll out of the new clockwork bottles.

“The latest report from Investigators show promising results,” explained Captain Falal of Precinct 43. “These ingenious clockwork devices can deploy themselves into a hostage situation, being small enough to escape detection.

“Furthermore, they have superb ranged capabilities. We are still exploring what substance to fill the ‘gnomes’. I have assigned my artefacts team to explore this in the next round of tests.”

Read the full story on Page 7.


In other news

Are we seeing another wave of troll refugees flood Sigil? The previous coup in Terovia brought many refugees to our fair city. The truth will surprise you.

Read the FULL STORY on Page 13.



Happy Gaming



The Sigil Courier series are the session summaries from the Sigil PD cycle of tales in my Tales of the Hero Wars campaign.


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