Thursday, June 18, 2020

Glen Welch and the Mystara Players Handbook





Complete, thoughtful, detailed. Over two hundred pages faithfully transitioned to 5th Edition.

Honest and faithful to the original.

A massive undertaking to have completed so well.

That is the short review.

So, the longer review.

Mystara is a huge setting spread over many, many books.

This guide takes all the material and places it in one book of over two hundred pages.

Now. The majority of the material can be used with any edition of D&D.

But this book also lovingly and faithfully translates the necessary parts to fifth edition.

That means spells, abilities, character class tool kits and magic items.

The net result is a product perfect for fifth edition but great for any fan of the original Mystara who did not get each supplement (some which are now virtually impossible to find).

How comprehensive?

You can see the excerpts from the table of contents.

That comprehensive. Light on illustrations and filler. Heavy on context.

224 full sized pages of living, accurate and accessible content.

That comprehensive.


Friday, May 15, 2020

Heroquesting and the Godlearners Secret

It hit me that for a normal campaign to introduce heroquests it needs two things.

First is a myth that the question should follow.

Second is a structure that follows the bones that the godlearners discovered.

A heroquest involves:


  1. The call to adventure.  This is where the characters align themselves with the myth.  They achieve the right runic affiliations.  They acquire the appropriate regalia.  They align themselves with the correct community. They basically pay the entry fee for the quest.
  2. The stations of the quest.  This is where they retrace the path through myth in the footsteps of the hero.
  3. The reversal or loss.  This is where they now pay the price for the benefit that they are going to take back into the mortal realms.  This is why every heroquest has a reversal or failure built into it.
  4. The recovery or triumph.  This is where the characters overcome the reversal, converting the price they have paid into a benefit.
  5. The return.  This is where the characters return to the mortal realm from the mythic realm with the benefits they are bringing back for themselves and for their community.
The godlearners secret (not the official one that dooms you, but the secret to their power that Arachne Solara broke when she bound time) was that they learned to sidestep 3 by using the mythic realm to sidestep cause and effect.  While this increased entropy by minuscule cosmic amounts, it also allowed them to achieve great power.

Imagine all the benefits of Yelmalio or Humakt and none of the constraints.  Imagine being able to avoid the spirits of retribution.  To gain every benefit without paying the price.

Of course when Arachne Solara bound the sun, she also caused all the sidestepped debts to come due.  Which is why dooms found every godlearner no matter how they attempted to outrun them.  All of the delayed causality, all of the unpaid prices, all came due.  Since that mythic event, the sidestepping that they used also ceased to be available.  That secret is no longer relevant because it is not available.

A note on costs: costs are in the aggregate so that entropy does not increase.  But that means that if twenty heroquests attempt a path, if half of them fail in disaster, yielding up "payment" so to speak, and half succeed, the half that succeed can capitalize on the "payments" made by the half that failed.

If 100% of the heroquests on a path succeed, then each time at the step three reversal they will have to pay the price.  Consider how Yelmalio's followers all take penalties.

A note on costs:  costs may be paid by the community that supports the heroquest.  Lets say that one hundred members of the community each sacrifice a point of power.  The heroquest can achieve a result similar to the hero sacrificing a hundred points of power.

What a heroquest does is allow the community to achieve supramundane results that they couldn't reach, not results that it cannot pay for, by following or recreating the right path.

In designing heroquests:

  1. Pick a myth or a story.
  2. Work out the way that the characters can fit themselves to the story.
  3. Pick an outcome or benefit (the why they characters are going to do the quest).
  4. Fit the outcome or benefit to a price.
  5. Determine how and by whom the price is paid.
  6. Add in additional difficulty or wrinkles.
Sacred time each year is a two week community heroquest.  But the path is well trodden, the costs are well understood, the benefits in reducing entropy are clear.  Reviving Tada in Prax -- that hasn't been done yet, though the grisly portions, the runic identities and the path seems clear enough.

Anyway, it occurred to me that this is a different way to explain heroquests that might make it more accessible.

And no, you don't get the forbidden godlearner secret from this essay, just the one that was extinguished and the knowing of which is harmless.






On Alignment

The initial D&D campaign surfaced out of a Castles and Crusades Campaign.  The original alignments were based off of Three Hearts and Three Lions with Law = Civilized and Chaos = Feral.  Neutral was the borderlands between those two realms.

The next fantasy campaign was Barker's with Good/Evil for alignments, but the Good was stasis and the "Evil" was change.

At the same time, there was Moorcock's Law and Chaos with Law = Good and Chaos = Evil (and the chaos gods were worshiped with cries of "blood and souls" and similar things).  Of course Moorcock did not stay still, and his Law/Chaos eventually moved to Stasis/Change.  Moorcock's Neutral was exemplified by Tanelorn -- where people attempted to step aside from the wars of the gods.

My preference was Order / Chance (Tychism).  Though my law/chaos eventually shifted to Order (external rules) vs. Anarchy (internal whims).

In each of these the possibility of a good/evil axis also fits in.  Good can be defined a number of ways, but the two that fit fantasy campaigns are (1) seeking positive outcomes for the greatest number and (2) aligned with the positive energy planes -- both resisting entropy.

Evil is either (1) rapacious self serving action or (2) malicious action.  Both are aligned with the negative energy planes (or why all undead that energy drain end up evil) -- and increasing entropy.

For the most part, #1 is the general understanding of evil -- something that admittedly creates some tension with players who want to play #1 as neutral and assert that as long as their rapaciousness isn't malicious, it isn't evil.


Friday, October 25, 2019

Useful material

I've been posting useful material and FRPG related links to the Shattered Norns Facebook Group.

It is at:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/829726510438199/



Disclosure/Caveat:




Any time you share an affiliate link, it’s important to disclose that to your audience.

Note, I have affiliate links, it is just that as of Friday, October 25, 2019 all of them go to an account that does not exist.  That will eventually change and you should treat all links as if they are affiliate links going to an active account on Amazon.com.

As Amazon puts it:

Generally, readers trust you more if you are transparent about where you are directing them and why.

To meet the Amazon Associate Program's requirements, you must (1) include a legally compliant disclosure with your links and (2) identify yourself on your Site as an Amazon Associate with the language required by the Operating Agreement.


To comply with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, your link-level disclosure must be:

1. Clear. A clear disclosure could be as simple as “(paid link)”, “#ad” or “#CommissionsEarned”.
2. Conspicuous. It should be placed near any affiliate link or product review in a location that customers will notice easily. They shouldn’t have to hunt for it.


In addition, the Operating Agreement requires that the following statement clearly and conspicuously appears on your Site:

“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

For social media user-generated content, this statement must be associated with your account.

Associates should also consider the relevant social media platform’s guidelines.

For example, Associates may use Facebook's Branded Content tool.


Visit this page on AC to bookmark this information about disclosures.
.
So, when I eventually get to creating links to my actual affiliate status, all of the above will apply. Treat any link you access after Friday, October 25, 2019 as being an affiliate link I am paid for, even if the truth is that I probably won’t them linking to an actual account before 2020.
Caution should be rule 1.

Any time you share an affiliate link, it’s important to disclose that to your audience.

Note, I have affiliate links, it is just that as of Friday, October 25, 2019 all of them go to an account that does not exist.  That will eventually change and you should treat all links as if they are affiliate links going to an active account on Amazon.com

Generally, readers trust you more if you are transparent about where you are directing them and why.

To meet the Amazon Associate Program's requirements, you must (1) include a legally compliant disclosure with your links and (2) identify yourself on your Site as an Amazon Associate with the language required by the Operating Agreement.


To comply with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, your link-level disclosure must be:

1. Clear. A clear disclosure could be as simple as “(paid link)”, “#ad” or “#CommissionsEarned”.
2. Conspicuous. It should be placed near any affiliate link or product review in a location that customers will notice easily. They shouldn’t have to hunt for it.


In addition, the Operating Agreement requires that the following statement clearly and conspicuously appears on your Site:

“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

For social media user-generated content, this statement must be associated with your account.

Associates should also consider the relevant social media platform’s guidelines.

For example, Associates may use Facebook's Branded Content tool.


Visit this page on AC to bookmark this information about disclosures.
.
So, when I eventually get to creating links to my actual affiliate status, all of the above will apply. Treat any link you access after Friday, October 25, 2019 as being an affiliate link I am paid for, even if the truth is that I probably won’t them linking to an actual account before 2020.
Caution should be rule 1.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Reflecting and projecting

January 26, 1985 is when I was married.

Fifteen years later, January 26, 2000 my life was in ruins in so many ways.  I was fat, 265 lbs.  I was fifteen years older.  Three of my children had died.  Physically I was a mess as well.

How bad?  Well, when I began the long slow road to physical health and started at a gym, I could move between 20 and 40 pounds on the machines, generally whatever the lowest setting was on the weight machines.  Walking even a mile was difficult for me.

It has been thirty-three years since January 26, 1985.  Fifteen years to disaster.  An interregnum.  And then rehabilitation. 

Now I weigh a good deal less.  I can walk fifteen or more miles, with a full backpack over the Appalachian Trail's ups and downs.  In so many ways things are so much better.

It came to mind as I read a story on Facebook that wrapped in someone who was looking at a shipwreck in many ways.  They were getting divorced, they were older and they had gained a lot of weight.

I reflected on that because I identified with them.  I tried to express that, but did so poorly.  Got told I was disgusting and fat shaming.  The people I was trying to talk to didn't get it.  I wasn't shaming the other person -- I had been in their shoes -- and I wasn't claiming sympathy as an excuse to deride them.  I had been that person whose world had crashed apart.

But, things are better now.  I was lucky enough not to face divorce (though burying three children in the space of five years was terribly hard and the death of so many dreams).  I lost the academic career I had been building towards with publications and seminar presentations.  If you've been 5'5" and 265 pounds with no muscle tone at all you know I was a mess.

It is a terrible place to be.  Yet. 

Yet.

Yet yesterday, January 26, 2018 I was glad to be alive.  Today, January 27, 2018 I am glad to be alive.  There is so much joy possible.  The person I was commenting on seems to see that, I hope that they mean what they wrote.

But it was good for me to look back and see myself in their shoes as well.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Falls the shadow.


Falling Shadow

Parts:

1.       Building a road through dream.
a.       Dream terrain:
                                                               i.      Real/fixed
                                                             ii.      Fanciful
                                                            iii.      Mutable.
b.      Dream weather:
                                                               i.      Fear
                                                             ii.      Hope
                                                            iii.      Passion
                                                           iv.      Memory
                                                             v.      Loss
                                                           vi.      Confusion
                                                          vii.      Peace.
c.       Dream Encounters
d.      Dream Inhabitants.
                                                               i.      Aberrations.
                                                             ii.      Shadows.
                                                            iii.      Dreams.
                                                           iv.      Creatures.
                                                             v.      Clockworks.
e.      The anchors and road way.
2.       Falls the Shadow City
a.       The factions
b.      Typical city encounters and issues – all five have cross-purposes and alignments. (each needs two out of three things).
c.       Journey from West Anchorage to Redoubt short of the City.
d.      Embassy seeking cooperation in seeking a bending on the gate to allow the dream road to pass through to the mountains.
                                                               i.      Master’s position is that if they can get three factions, he can make it happen.
                                                             ii.      Two factions support.
                                                            iii.      Need to gain a third, without losing any of the two.
                                                           iv.      Offers.
                                                             v.      Encounters.
                                                           vi.      Reversal.
                                                          vii.      Redoubt in Mountains.
                                                        viii.      Anchor set or failure.
                                                           ix.      Other possibilities. 
                                                             x.      Return or other choices.
1.       Redoubt in mountains can anchor to Star strands location permanently.
2.       They can choose to stay in City.
3.       They can return to West Anchorage, either by road, overland, or through Star strands.

Island Adventures
1.       Starting campaign in the islands.
2.       Character generation.
3.       Initial campaign choices and missions.
a.       Explore
b.      Harvest
c.       Pacify
d.      Oppose Kraken discharges.
e.      Hunts.
f.        Delving in ruins.
g.       Cross-Island possibilities.
h.      Cross over to shadow in unsettled areas.
4.       Launching to Ostend.