PCs are an inquisitive lot. Irritatingly the more successful ones don't just charge into the nearest dungeon in search of loot and glory. They ask questions. Lots of questions.
(Art: William McAusland [Outland Art])
A wise man once said that knowledge is power. One of the principles of successful adventuring is reconnaissance. Knowing what the party is going to face before they face it enables them to purchase the right equipment, memorise the proper spells and even higher appropriate henchfolk and hirelings. Clever and wise PCs start their reconnaissance before they even enter the dungeon!
A prepared GM should be able to answer these important questions about the dungeon:
- Who built the dungeon?
- Why was the dungeon built?
- What major events have occurred in the dungeon?
- What is the dungeon called? Why?
- Why would the party want to explore the dungeon?
- What legends and rumours are associated with the dungeon?
- Does the dungeon have more than one entrance?
- Does the dungeon have any particularly well known features or locations?
- What secret(s) does the dungeon conceal?
- What general perils lurk in the dungeon?
Having this kind of information at his fingertips enables a GM to provide the appropriate information at the appropriate time. (Instead of revealing too much or making hasty choices that lead to confusion later on). Of course, not all the information the PCs gather will be true and accurate. Sources can be deliberately wrong or merely mislead. Others can provide correct information, but from their own perspective. For example, a lowly man-at-arms who sees a wizard cast a fireball might describe that worthy personage as an archmage!
But from where will the clever PCs gain this information?
- Sages and other scholarly folk.
- Adventurers who have already been in the dungeon.
- Escaped slaves and prisoners.
- Ancient and not so ancient documents (journals, diaries, maps and so on).
- Current rumours.
- Talkative (or easily bribed) dungeon denizens.
So those are the general kind of questions PCs will (or more accurately should) ask about a dungeon before they delve into its depths. Having the answers ready (assuming they manage to find them) rewards clever play. It also ensures the GM does not accidentally reveal some important secret he wanted to keep secret until later.
Are there other questions your players regularly ask? Share what they are in the comments below and remember you can download this – and every other advice article – for free at ragingswan.com/articles.
It’s been a while, I know, but we’re back in business as the CMC try to get their timey-wimey cutiemarks! The dalek might actually stand a chance, this time…
SAG announced the nominees for its annual awards this morning. I'm thrilled to say that the cast of GAME OF THRONES are nominated as Best Performance by an Ensemble in a Television Drama, on a shortlist that also includes our familiar rivals BOARDWALK EMPIRE, BREAKING BAD, DOWNTON ABBEY, and HOMELAND. The guild members also nominated our fearless stuntwomen and stuntmen for Outstanding Action Performance by Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series. BOARDWALK EMPIRE, BREAKING BAD, and HOMELAND are up in that category as well, along with THE WALKING DEAD. And Peter Dinklage, our once and future Tyrion Lannister, was nominated as Best Actor in a Television Drama. He will vie for the award against Steve Buscemi (BOARDWALK EMPIRE), Bryan Cranston (BREAKING BAD), Jeff Daniels (THE NEWSROOM), and Kevin Spacey (HOUSE OF CARDS).
For a full list of the nominees, go to:
The SAG nominations follow close on the heels of AFI's annual announcement, recognizing their ten favorite films and television shows of the previous year. GAME OF THRONES made the list for the third year in a row. The AFI recognition is especially nice since it has no winners and no losers; all ten of the chosen films and television shows share the recognition.
AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE
AFI AWARDS 2013 OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
AFI MOVIES OF THE YEAR
AFI TV PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR
Tomorrow the Golden Globe nominations will be announced, and we'll see if the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will make us three for three. Keep your fingers crossed.
- Current Location:Santa Fe
- Current Mood: happy
- Tue, 13:08: Sugar-frosted Hobbit Hole http://t.co/W19x6WeyBc
- Tue, 13:20: Srs Godzilla is srs //RT @TheMarySue: The #Godzilla Trailer Has Landed http://t.co/ObSqHOXEoY
- Tue, 14:58: RT @thelindsayellis: I think my children's book will be called "Oh, The Ways You'll Get Fired." You know, start 'em off with realistic expe…
- Tue, 16:16: New Novel Started, Plus LJ Twitter Resolution http://t.co/elBlhQ7KRF
- Tue, 17:04: I do! // RT @trpeal: Ping @the_gneech! Pretty sure you'll love this. RT @charcoalpanda: http://t.co/YehblxvApm
- Tue, 18:41: RT @Frezarion: Photoset: shahrezad1: thegeekcooks: This is basically what it’s like to be an adult. That comment is... http://t.co/JXxG5j4C…
- Tue, 22:34: RT @lupinia: We're building that in ColdFusion. #FiveWordTechHorrors
- Tue, 23:30: "Sublimey-wimey"? http://t.co/c1G35gZJBz
- Wed, 00:08: In case I haven't mentioned it lately, I <3 my friends. :D
- Wed, 00:28: RT @IGN: Borderlands 2's Christmas DLC has been revealed! Find out How Marcus Saved Mercenary Day: http://t.co/mlv7qjfEqg | http://t.co/QEp…
"My" chipmunks are the originals, the 1960s versions from "The Alvin Show," but of course they've been squeaking their way into people's hearts more or less continuously since then. (Weird little tidbit: the personalities of Alvin and the Chipmunks map almost exactly to the Ghostbusters, with David Seville being either Winston or Janine depending on the circumstances.)
Anyway! The chipmunk formula, "precocious and troublemaking but adorable chipmunks driving producer and adoptive father Dave nuts as he tries to get them to perform songs straight" is cute and funny and all, except for one particular instance: a song from the 2008 album "Undeniable," called "Ho Ho Ho." This catchy little tune starts out as pretty normal chipmunk fare, except somewhere along the line, Dave has become an asshole.
Dave gets stressed by Christmas, it seems, not an unreasonable thing when you make your living by shilling your pets as rock stars who specialize in Christmas music, but he's strangely in denial about it. When the chipmunks comment on this stress, instead of acknowledging and dealing with it, he just gets angrier and angrier, barking at them to "suck it up" and reducing Theodore to tears with his yelling.
Suddenly... not so funny.
When does the hitting start, Dave? When do you start telling the chipmunks that you didn't want to but that they forced you to do it? This creepy-ass song is one stanza away from getting real ugly, real fast.
Guh. Definitely not what I want in my silly holiday novelty songs. Somebody burn that track with fire.
- Current Location:The Hobbit Hole
This week, I’m delighted to report I’ve finally whittled down the 50 or so submissions I had for the Broken Freelancers Open Call to the final ten. Thus, without further ado, I give you the successful freelancers (and their encounters):
- Jacob W. Michael: The Ants Go Marching In (EL 8)
- Brian J. Ratcliff: The Grey Grove (EL 12)
- Richard Bennett: Hunters As Bait (EL 8)
- Fabian Fehrs: Terror From The Soil (EL 4)
- Jeffrey Erwin: The Death-Dealer of the Gloaming Wood (EL 5)
- James F.D Graham: Stuck in the Mud (EL 2)
- Fabian Fehrs: Mourning Monster (EL 7)
- Denver Edwards Jr.: Secrets of the Swamp (EL 7)
- Jacob Trier: Lost Love (EL 5)
- Jesper Andersen: Canoes & Crocodiles (EL 5)
Congratulations to everyone who was successful (and better luck next time to everyone who wasn’t successful – I’ll definitely be running another open call next year).
My next step is to get into the editing of each encounter. I won’t get into that until the new year now, but I think given the calibre of the encounters remaining editing and development should be a breeze!
The reason for the delay is due to the fact that Christina and I have been very wrapped-up in a large-scale project and have had little time for editing/research.
That being said - I hope to share this large-scale project with you all in the near-ish future. Until then, enjoy this courthouse lost in time.
Across from Monument Park, in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, stands an uncommonly magnificent piece of historical architecture. Local residents know the place well, but to an outsider the purpose of the old structure may not be immediately discernible. The gray stonework, high peaked roofs, and ornate carvings, do not convey the typical tone of an old courthouse, which is what it was constructed as back in 1871. Unfortunately, while the city of Fitchburg continues with the clamor of daily life just outside its doors, the old courthouse sits silent and disused, replaced long ago by present court just across the street.
Though a small portion of the ground level was in use as a law library through late 2013, the upper floors were shuttered at the closing of the last trial to take place here, in the late 1970's. The rooms and chambers above the first floor have since turned into a kind of giant time-capsule, all things left in place from when the last court had adjourned over thirty years ago. The upper-most floors still contain the simple wooden chairs and tables, where jurors would await being called to serve. In the courtroom itself, the state and national flags remain standing, dust covered, high above the judges podium. The air here is still and heavy, doubly so in the hot summer months. Sunlight reflects off the windshields of cars passing below, and dances upon the ceiling. These random flashes are the only bit of movement in the otherwise motionless surroundings.
On each side of the room can be found the jury stand, next to which the bailiff desk, dry-rotting with age. Just beyond lie the deliberation rooms, where a jury would come to a verdict around a circular table. Within the drawers and cubbyholes of these tables can be found scrawled messages from ages past. Pen, pencil, and etched messages convey simple dates such as “Nov 14, 1913” to short memos stating things such as “WF Black of Worchester won $5.00 March 22nd, 1928”.
Today the old Ficthburg Courthouse is mostly a thing of local interest, however it did have its moment in the Hollywood spotlight. The 1961 film “By Love Possessed “ featured the courthouse prominently in the opening sequence, though its role in the movie was that of a gentleman’s club. Even though the film is obscure today, it was a noteworthy event during its time. Directed John Sturgess (The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape) it was based upon a very popular novel by the same name. Many locals still remember the week in which the film was being shot, primarily due to the fact that production closed down several major roadways. Still others recall being paid as extras, to fill the background of scenes filmed around the city.
( In Recess...Collapse )
- Current Mood: accomplished
- Current Location:Santa Fe
- Current Mood: geeky
Meanwhile, I started the first draft of my next novel today! :) Progress so far: 1,112 of ~90k. This one started as a comic (remember the Turnabout?), which then morphed into another comic, but the more I thought about it, the better it seemed to work as a novel. This one should clock in on the higher side of the ~90k wordcount, as it's a pretty epic and sprawly story by my usual standards. I'm hoping FurPlanet will be interested in carrying it. :)
In other news, I've almost completely got my "what I want my workspace to be like" worked out-- unfortunately, it entails another drafting table exactly like the one I'm currently using! Which costs ~$450 or so. So I'm gonna have to open up commissions again, it seems! I expect to be doing that later this week, probably as soon as FurAffinity gets back out of "read-only" mode (since many of my would-be commissioners seem to prefer communicating via FA notes).
Anyway, time to feed the kitties! Catcha later, LJ. :)
- Current Location:The Hobbit Hole
- Current Mood: busy
- Current Music:Gershwin -- Rhapsody in Blue
We did tape the panel discussion, for all those who were not there, and hope to be able to upload it onto the internet sometime soon, after editing. And signed copies of DANGEROUS WOMEN -- and many other titles by the participating authors -- are available at the theatre, if you want to swing by. No, sorry, we are not yet able to offer the autographed books by mail order, but we hope to change that soon. Watch this space for an announcement.
Santa Feans (and those passing through) still have a couple of days to catch our three "Dangerous Women" films -- SCARLET STREET, ALIENS, and COFFY. (We may hold over ALIENS, but the other two will close on Thursday).
The films roll on, however, and come Friday we have two cool new offerings set to debut.
In a feature slot, we will have a brand new SF/ horror flick that's been creating quite a buzz at flim festivals, LAST DAYS ON MARS.
And for our late show -- Friday and Saturday only, at 11 -- we have CHRISTMAS WITH THE DEAD, based on a story by JOE R. LANSDALE and introduced by The Man His Own Self. We're looking forward to welcoming Joe to Santa Fe.
Zombies for Xmas. What could be better?
- Current Location:Santa Fe
- Current Mood: cheerful
I do miss the days of a vibrant LJ community, tho. Where have all the comments gone? Say what you want about life in 140 characters, there is at least a lot of conversation going on over there!
I'll try to make a point of putting more cool stuff here tho. :)
EDIT: Hmm. Maybe I'm being too hasty here. You folks tell me, yes Tweets, or no? I'd like to know what people think. :)
- Current Location:The Hobbit Hole
- Current Mood: okay
A dungeon needs to be so much more than a hole in the ground stuffed full of monsters and treasures. A dungeon without a purpose is a poor dungeon indeed.
(Art: William McAusland [Outland Arts])
In almost all cases, someone at some point made the decision to build the dungeon. An undertaking of such magnitude is unlikely to be done on a whim. Whoever built the dungeon did so for a specific purpose. That purpose shapes the layout and feel of the place. There are several types of dungeon:
- Fortress or Refuge: Built as a place to withstand a natural disaster or one's enemies the dungeon is heavily fortified. Entry is difficult and likely individual levels, sub-levels or places of importance will feature additional defensive points.
- Lair or Home: Some villains feel safer underground and live there with their minions. Such a location will have everything the villains needs for long-term living. A villain's personal quarters will be the most defensible location.
- Mine: Built to find minerals, metals or gems a mine is likely a long, rambling affair. It lacks many of the features of a normal dungeon and may or may not be still active.
- Temple: Built to venerate a deity (or possibly a whole pantheon) a dungeon designed as a temple was likely built to worship a power of darkness or death. Alternatively, a temple dedicated to a good deity may have been built to ward approaches to an entry to the Ebon Realm or other place of fell aspect.
- Tomb, Crypt or Sepulchre: Built to house the earthly remains of some great personage, a tomb, crypt or sepulchre is likely to have undead within. It is also likely to have many shrines. It could house one body, or thousands.
- Cellar: Originally built as a cellar to an above ground building such as a castle or church, the dungeon has survived the destruction of the above structure.
- Sewer: Built to carry waste away from a settlement, a sewer is a filthy, loathsome place.
- Colony or Community: Some communities choose to live underground. Such locations are often extensive and ramble over several levels. They contain everything needed for underground life.
It's also important to remember a dungeon might not still serve its original purpose. New inhabitants may use it for their own purposes. If this is the case, the new inhabitants will modify the dungeon to suit their own needs.
Does a dungeon in your campaign have a different original purpose? Share what it is in the comments below and remember you can download this – and every other advice article – for free at ragingswan.com/articles.
So it was just Real Thanksgiving yesterday. Yeah, late this year! The tribe is through Kira though at this point we've all known each other for like a decade. Anyhow, Kira's step-dad Robert is a chef, & he had to work on Thanksgiving, & people were traveling, so it got pushed & pushed. Listen, when a bunch of professional chefs are going to cook you turkey dinner, you wait. Jennifer's parents took the train up for the occasion as well; there was only one politics discussion & we didn't really get into it-- I think I heroically bit my tongue & suppressed my natural troll instincts-- so it was nice! We played board games & Jenny's dad Irv swept the day again. He does a similar "minding my own business" thing, a tactic near to my heart (but "let's you & him fight" is my favorite). Anyhow! So Thanksgiving. First off, obviously, the heck with the Puritans & the heck with genocide & so yeah, no, I'm not celebrating that. But I'm not celebrating Jesus when I get presents under the tree, either; they are secular seasonal festivals, yeah? You're eggs & rabbits for Spring, your fireworks & barbecue for Summer, masks & candy for Autumn, your Harvest feast of bounty, & then trees & presents for Winter. Yeah, War on Christmas, up with Santa & trees & prizes. So that happened. I'm a savory eater; I go for the trifecta of turkey, stuffing & mashed potatoes, & real talk? Mostly mashed potatoes. If you feed me paprika, the Transylvanian in my blood will like whatever you cooked; similarly, potatoes bring out the Tír na nÓg in me. Slap on a pat of herb butter, then dump gravy on it. That goes for everything on the plate; butter, gravy. Butter, gravy. I ate a bunch, hung out with Olivia a lot-- Jodi & I went out to play in the falling snow with her in the backyard-- & saw people I like that I don't see all that often, like Joe & Leigha & the rest of that side of the family, & Rita was super charmed by me this holiday I thought. Anyhow so that is what I've been up to.
- Current Mood:Earworm.
- Current Music:crown me king- lisa frank camelot
So I don't really have a relationship with my parents. That is on purpose. I didn't have like a terrible childhood, just that sort of "post-military" strictness with a weird crazy religious streak going through it. Neither really suited me; well, the post-military sort of did, I was all deep into Boy Scouts (until they kicked me out for being an atheist) & hunting & that kind of thing. I've got a post-apocalyptic survival background, that's not bad, but well, the religion thing I didn't cotton too, & it was the kind of crazy moral panic religiousness, a pretty bad sort. You know, pretending there were satanic babykillers hiding in the bushes, being convinced the world is six-thousand years old, evolution is so fake that Great Danes & Chihuahuas were created by god that way, that sort of stuff. The satanic babykillers had invented Dungeons & Dragons to corrupt children into the occult (fair enough) & wearing black makes you a warlock (actually, okay, both fair points). Jokes aside, my black clothes & roleplaying books were periodically seized & destroyed, whenever my mother needed to work out her issues by pretending she was fighting the Damian child I became when I turned three. So like, super mysterious why I wear black all the time & talk about gaming basically all the time. I mean, the point was I wanted to do my own thing, macabre elf stuff or whatever, then & now, & now I can. Anyhow, it has been on my mind because people who really had it bad are in the headlines; people like the San Antonio Four being released from prison after ten years because some homophobe claimed they were a Satanic cult, or the Kellers who went to prison for twenty years for the same weird lies, or Liz Mullinar in Australia, a hypnotist, saying that hundreds of kids get abused by Satanic cults & that it is "no big deal." Anyhow! So I call my mother a couple of times a year, like when she sends a check as a gift for a holiday. I'm not super rude or I can be bought, take your pick. When I called my mother this Thanksgiving, I was really flabbergasted to find out she...still believes that Dungeons & Dragons is like, Evil evil, capital E? I mentioned Tor.com in passing & she said she wouldn't read what I wrote there, because it was all about D&D. I don't know, I guess I figured that nobody could still think that, but I guessed wrong. Oh, you definitely think my interests & occupation are like, devil worship? Just nice to know that this distance isn't because of a grudge or anything, but a rational response to people I don't want to really have a relationship with. Just thinking about that & realizing I haven't really talked about anything uh, "personal" in a while, so I thought I'd write it up.
- Current Mood:Making sandwiches for dinner.
- Current Music:crown me king- the oath of fëanor
(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)
It’s my birthday and I want you to make a fuss over me. I really do. I want you to buy yourself (or a friend) one of my books. If you’ve already got some of my books, I really want you to write a review on Amazon about the book—good or bad (preferably good). This is what I want for my birthday. Buy a book, make a fuss, give me a hug, tell me you love me.
Caller Unknown (Karen Wilson #1) – Amazon | Apocalypse Ink Productions
Children of Anu (Karen Wilson #2) – Amazon | Apocalypse Ink Productions
In a Gilded Light – Amazon | Dark Quest Books
The Lady of Seeking in the City of Waiting – Amazon | Dark Quest Books
Industry Talk – Amazon | Apocalypse Ink Productions
The Little Finance Book That Could – Amazon
- Sun, 12:28: Snowy weather always makes me want to watch gunbunny anime. I don't get that.
- Sun, 12:37: It's the future, and law enforcement is recklessly gun-happy women in bikinis. Because that makes sense. http://t.co/wKNJRrliqi
- Sun, 12:40: RT @SamGrittner: I'm God's gift to women if he stopped at a gas station last minute.
- Sun, 13:24: Honestly, I think if I were the #Redskins I would have called in sick today.
- Sun, 13:42: Put in Cousins! Put in Smith! Put in that guy selling hot dogs in the stands! It's not like you can hurt the #Redskins now.
- Sun, 18:36: So, as we do every year around this time, @laurierobey put up our Christmas tree and watched "Scrooge" starring Albert Finney.
- Sun, 18:37: I am now officially heartwarmed.
- Sun, 18:40: It also hit me square in the gut, 'cos it reminded me of Kerry on several levels. So I'm heartwarmed and gut-punched.
- Sun, 18:40: I need to give my internal organs a rest now.
- Sun, 18:41: RT @foalpapers: Ah, that blissful, zen moment when I've crossed off or rescheduled all my To Do list items for the day, but tomorrow's have…
Cartographer extraordinaire Jon Roberts has posted a preview of the awesome city map he's doing for the book here.
This shows part of the Garden Ward including the Old Palace of the Sultan, the Garden Mausoleum of Hulieman, and the Observatory.
- Current Location:United Kingdom, England,Greater London,Islington, Clerkenwell
Yesterday was Dragonmeet where I ran a 4e Parsantium adventure in the afternoon featuring thuggee killers, an underground river and gnoll slavers. It was a great group and we had a lot of fun with some excellent (and very funny) roleplaying. On the next table over Steve Dempsey was running the same adventure using the 13th Age rules and it sounds like this went really well too. Steve and I came up with some new 13th Age icons for Parsantium including the Archbishop, the Mummy, and the Boss of All Bosses and I think they worked quite well. Once the book is done, I'll spend some time honing these icons and will post them here. Oh, and I got to meet Rob Heinsoo yesterday whose namesake is featured in the book as a dastardly villain....
While I was at Dragonmeet, Kate carried on getting the book ready for publication, compressing images, building the contents page and replacing "see page XX" references with hyperlinks. There's still one "see page XX" in this week's preview, but I thought it would cool to show you the kind of thing you can expect from the gazetteer location write-ups. Click on the link below to read about the Hippodrome and the Holy Basilica of Helion and to see another awesome illustration from Matt Morrow.
We're going to do all we can to get the book published in 2013 (just) – our current schedule has us uploading the files to drivethrurpg.com and Paizo on 30th December so look out for Parsantium: City at the Crossroads just after Christmas!
- Current Location:United Kingdom, England,Greater London,Islington, Farringdon