Where Does the Story Begin? January 20, 2016 20:32
When I'm working on a new saga or adventure, the titular question of "Where does my story begin?" is often the first and last thing I consider. It can often be a difficult question to answer, because a story can have any number of beginnings.
When it comes to entertaining your players, it helps to know what they are looking for in a saga. You can take what you know and give it to them, or use it against them. I like to take a little inspiration from my players, using the little details they provide and seeing how far I can run with it. The biggest hurdle can be the first session. Whether you start in a tavern, on board a train, or waking up in the desert without any provisions or recent memory, the first session shapes the tone of your adventure. When in doubt, you can always rely on the tried and true pub, where adventures are prone to start.
The next aspect of the story you might consider is background. How much of the background do you reveal to your players? Give them too little information and they may not take interest, or they may not make connections you are trying to lead them to. Give them too much and they may find the story to lose a bit of the mystery it had before. You also have to think about how complex and involved you want your background to be. A saga that emphasizes political games and nobility will most often have some complicated back story that can only be handed out in bite-size pieces. When you get a feel for your players’ personalities and strengths, you can more easily gauge whether they might make good use of a piece of information.
Now, everything I’ve talked about so far is about the start of the game, or the start of the written story. However, that does not mark the beginning. When I look back at my favorite campaigns that I played in, I don’t often begin at the first session. Sometimes the story really begins halfway through, when the party has figured each other out and the narrator has dropped the first bombshell event. That makes the previous half of the campaign part of the back story. Whether this was intentional or not I may never know, but it does bring an important note to mind. When you are writing out your campaign, I find it’s best to create an outline of major plot points. With each of those points written out, you can look at the story you want to tell and determine where it will actually begin. It’s good to aim for an intended beginning rather than letting one happen naturally. You may open up in the tavern, and up until the party escapes the exploding mansion, you may realize that what happened in between was the prelude to the story.
The New and Improved Pulse Detector: More Detection per Pulse January 13, 2016 08:21
Now, your common run-of-the-mill Pulse Detector has one function: to pick up heartbeats. The range increases as the trinket is upgraded to higher marques. With one of these bad boys, you won’t likely be snuck-up on any time soon. However, there are several features that this device lacks, and here at Spendo’s Gallery of Improvements and Prototypes, we have taken to answering the big question: What else can it do?
For starters, let’s take a look at the primary feature. Heartbeats are common enough, as the majority of living things have one. Trouble is, not all of the lurking dangers you’ll face will have hearts conveniently shoved into them. For the mechanicals and the bizarre, we have developed a new feature! The Heartless Monster-Detector will tune into the sounds that accompany most automatons and machines. This upgraded Pulse Detector will now display any machinery with moving parts. A handy tool for the aspiring thief or the less-alert guard!
Our next feature we’d like to look at is something of a no-brainer. With the ability to detect multiple heartbeats, and now machinery too, you may find it difficult to figure out what it is your Pulse Detector is picking up. Look no further! The Pulse Identifier saves you the trouble of guessing on the spot. This handy little feature measures the frequency of a pulse, and indicates whether it is organic, mechanical, or other. Now you no longer have to sit and wonder if your friend or coworker has been replaced with an automaton duplicate. Just turn on your Pulse Identifier and let the machine do the rest!
Finally we would turn your attention to this prototype over here. This is a marvel you won’t soon forget, or my name isn’t Spendo! This beauty of modern science is the answer to the oldest question in the world: Where did I put my keys? Search no further, folks! These handy, convenient, and quite charming Pulse Emitters will save you the trouble of searching again. These tiny devices can be attached to any surface, and will emit a pulse much like that of a heartbeat. This will allow the Pulse Detector to pick up the signal and, with the addition of the Pulse Identifier, display the whereabouts of your missing keys, tools, or other belongings.
Never live with uncertainty again, pick up your new and improved Pulse Detectors today! Our prices are so low, I’m practically giving them away!
- Heartless Monster-Detector - 20 Princes
- Pulse Identifier - 30 Princes
- Pulse Emitters (each) - 5 Princes
SPENDO-BRAND: 91.6% GUARANTEED!
The Arachnoforge: From Pitch to Paper January 2, 2016 12:46
With the upcoming Narrator’s Accomplice being nearly finished, we find ourselves looking back on our favorite monsters and how they came to be. Some of them were created on the spot, others had months of writing put into them, and some started out as jokes before evolving into the amazing monstrosities that they are now. One of our favorite creations from the list of monsters has to be the Arachnoforge: the automaton spider that produces and manipulates molten metal. I had the pleasure of developing this beastie, and I wish to share with you how it came to be.
I was tasked with fleshing out and finishing a number of creatures from the Rogue Automatons chapter. When I took the dive into the automaton section, I saw a list of many mechanical monsters that needed work, love, and a hint of madness in order to be made whole. As fate would have it, the Arachnoforge, being first on the alphabetized list, would get the first wave of madness I could produce. I had a solid but sparse concept designed largely with the efforts of Martin Solis and Geoffrey Treece. There were notes about other ideas that had been added on, and some of them went in some interesting directions.
One of them made this thing out to be some sort of walking tank that forged and shot its missiles. While that certainly sounded cool, I didn’t find myself agreeing that something named the Arachnoforge should do that. No, I decided to go a different route. I decided this automaton should embody the tactics of a spider, and the mind of a predator. I wanted this to be a foe worth fearing.
I took inspiration from the initial note that the Arachnoforge should be a walking furnace of molten metal. It would secrete this metal from its thorax much like a spider’s silk, and shape it into anything it needed. The first use for this molten metal was the Arachnoforge creating a metallic latticework that would make the terrain difficult to walk through.
I wanted to have the feeling of entrapment on multiple levels, so I then thought, “What’s the most horrible way I can overpower some weak adventurers?” I looked through the initial concept notes, and the answer gave me one of those evil smiles you might find on Snidely Whiplash (sans the mustache to twirl). The Arachnoforge would grab at opponents, pinning them to the ground under its bulk. Then, held down, the Arachnoforge would slowly encased its in molten metal, limb by limb. That was when I knew this creature was going to be giving players proper nightmares..
Between the lattice of metal web, the grappling style, and the victims being encased from head to toe in metal until they’re burned and suffocated, I felt great pride when I turned this in to the boss man. My pride went even higher when he said it was his favorite beastie from the Rogue Automatons Chapter. It was even the first one to get its artwork done! I couldn’t be happier with how the Arachnoforge turned out, and I look forward to getting feedback from people's encounters with it.
See below for the Arachnoforge’s stats and info, or check it out in our Narrator’s Accomplice.
Arachnoforge AP: 3 PAR: 4
HP: 108 | Wnds: 12 | Pri: +4 | Spd: 25 ft (land), 35 ft (climb)
Brute +5 | Cunning +5 | Dexterity +12 | Spirit +0 | Sciences +0
Iron Frame - medium metal armor
Eva: -1 Def: +3
Soak: 3 | 6 | 9 | 12
Note: If armor is sundered, the Arachnoforge will gain +10 ft land and +5 climb speed.
Immunities: Anatomical effects (diseases, gases, medicines, poisons, venoms), bio-flux, and all abilities requiring a spirit resist. Fire does not damage the Arachnoforge.
Piercing Clutch - Unarmed Grab
Acc: +6 Stk: +4
Damage: 6 | 12 | 18 | 24
Notes: On hit, target is grabbed and takes damage based on strike roll. Target may break the grab by spending 1 AP and rolling a Brute or Dexterity resist opposing the Arachnoforge’s Dexterity roll.
The Arachnoforge can maintain six grabs at once.
0 AP (Part of a Move)
Gridlock - Molten Metal
As the Arachnoforge scurries about, it can leave a thin trail of iron behind. Using its hind legs, it can fashion an iron web. Any space this web ends up on becomes a higher tier of rough terrain. If the terrain was not rough, it becomes minor terrain. If the space was Tier 4 Impossible terrain, then the space becomes a solid wall that cannot be moved through.
Note: The latticework of this web does look quite nice, though.
Once the Arachnoforge has grabbed an opponent, it can begin covering the victim with molten metal. For every AP spent, the victim has one called shot location encased in metal, causing them to suffer wound effects until their next breather. The molten metal also deals 1 point of unsoakable damage on contact.
Note: The neck wound effect will not bleed, but will instead cause the victim to begin suffocating.
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