Saturday, November 12, 2016

The easy thing is to be silenced because you don't want the insults. The easy thing is to look the other way when it's happening to others.-- JK Rowling

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We must live and work together as brothers [and sisters] or perish together as fools.  --Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawkes of Cornwall, 15th Century Knight
Be the person that makes others feel special. Be known for your kindness and grace.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

“Tonight,” Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawkes of Cornwall begins, “I will share with you some of the more valuable stories, events, and moments of my life so that somewhere deep in the recesses of your imagination these lessons might continue on and my experiences will live to serve a purpose for you.”

20 Rules for a Knight

1. Solitude
Create time alone with yourself. When seeking the wisdom and clarity of your own mind, silence is a helpful tool. The voice of our spirit is gentle and cannot be heard when it has to compete with others. Just as it is impossible to see your reflection in troubled water, so too is it with the soul. In silence, we can sense eternity sleeping inside us.
2. Humility
Never announce that you are a knight, simply behave as one. You are better than no one, and no one is better than you.
3. Gratitude
The only intelligent response to the ongoing gift of life is gratitude. For all that has been, a knight says, “Thank you.” For all that is to come, a knight says, “Yes!”
4. Pride
Never pretend you are not a knight or attempt to diminish yourself because you deem it will make others more comfortable. We show others the most respect by offering the best of ourselves.
5. Cooperation
Each one of us is walking our own road. We are born at specific times, in specific places, and our challenges are unique. As knights, understanding and respecting our distinctiveness is vital to our ability to harness our collective strength. The use of force may be necessary to protect in an emergency, but only justice, fairness, and cooperation can truly succeed in leading men. We must live and work together as brothers or perish together as fools.
6. Friendship
The quality of your life will, to a large extent, be decided by with whom you elect to spend your time.
7. Forgiveness
Those who cannot easily forgive will not collect many friends. Look for the best in others.
8. Honesty
A dishonest tongue and a dishonest mind waste time, and therefore waste our lives. We are here to grow and the truth is the water, the light, and the soil from which we rise. The armor of falsehood is subtly wrought out of the darkness and hides us not only from others but from our own soul.
9. Courage
Anything that gives light must endure burning.
10. Grace
Grace is the ability to accept change. Be open and supple; the brittle break.
11. Patience
There is no such thing as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A hurried mind is an addled mind; it cannot see clearly or hear precisely; it sees what it wants to see, or hears what it is afraid to hear, and misses much. A knight makes time his ally. There is a moment for action, and with a clear mind that moment is obvious.
12. Justice
There is only one thing for which a knight has no patience: injustice. Every true knight fights for human dignity at all times.
13. Generosity
You were born owning nothing and with nothing you will pass out of this life. Be frugal and you can be generous.
14. Discipline
In the field of battle, as in all things, you will perform as you practice. With practice, you build the road to accomplish your goals. Excellence lives in attention to detail. Give your all, all the time. Don’t save anything for the walk home.The better a knight prepares, the less willing he will be to surrender.
15. Dedication
Ordinary effort, ordinary result. Take steps each day to better follow these rules. Luck is the residue of design. Be steadfast. The anvil outlasts the hammer.
16. Speech
Do not speak ill of others. A knight does not spread news that he does not know to be certain, or condemn things that he does not understand.
17. Faith
Sometimes to understand more, you need to know less.
18. Equality
Every knight holds human equality as an unwavering truth. A knight is never present when men or women are being degraded or compromised in any way, because if a knight were present, those committing the hurtful acts or words would be made to stop.
19. Love
Love is the end goal. It is the music of our lives. There is no obstacle that enough love cannot move.
20. Death
Life is a long series of farewells; only the circumstances should surprise us. A knight concerns himself with gratitude for the life he has been given. He does not fear death, for the work one knight begins, others may finish.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Benevolent & Omnipotent Gods

“The gods can either take away evil from the world and will not, or, being willing to do so cannot; or they neither can nor will, or lastly, they are able and willing.
“If they have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not omnipotent. If they can but will not, then they are not benevolent. If they are neither able nor willing, they are neither omnipotent nor benevolent.
“Lastly, if they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, why does it exist?”
—Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 B.C.E.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Default Adventure Skeleton

The Default Adventure Skeleton

by Mike Shea of Sly Flourish

Original Article

We've talked about the importance of pacing but this is a hard concept to understand at a practical level. How can we worry about pacing when we have a pile of friends on their way over and need to keep them entertained for four hours?

Simple tools and checklists can give us a lot of leverage when running our RPGs and we can use such a checklist as a basic guide for maintaining an interesting pace during our next game.

This article contains one such checklist in the form of an adventure skeleton.

The adventure skeleton is a simple outline that can fill out a two- to four-hour gaming session. It builds in pacing throughout and maintains enough flexiblity to support a wide range of interesting adventures. It's a dangerous tool, though. Use it too much and all your games start to feel the same. Still, when nothing else is working quite right, this is a good way to build some solid pacing into your game before you begin.

In short, here is the adventure skeleton:

Start with a battle.
NPC interaction that sets the stage for the rest of the adventure.
Another fight.
More exploration or interaction.
The final battle.
A conclusion.
Step 1: Start with a Battle

We know how important it is to have a solid start and there are few more gripping starts than a good battle. D&D combat gets everybody rolling dice and focuses on the strongest pillar of the game—combat. This battle also serves as a good way to introduce the PCs to the problems they may face. This battle might even LEAD to their problems. Perhaps they killed the Wererat kingpin's only son or cut down the king's favorite mercenary lord. Sure, he was a jerk, but he was the king's jerk.

Step 2: NPC Interaction

Next jump into interesting NPCs and some useful conversation. After the battle is over it's time to bring in our helpful questgiver who steers the direction of the PCs. Maybe this is a good person or maybe it's a scumbag, but someone needs to help the PCs navigate the rest of the story and point out the interesting locations.

Step 3: Exploration

Next comes our scenes of exploration. This might be an investigation into some sort of crime. It might be the exploration of an ancient ruin. It might be a series of interviews with other NPCs to understand the full scope of the situation. However we play it, this is the scene where the players get to do LOTS of non-combat sorts of stuff. Uncovering clues, disarming traps, manipulating the corrupt town guard to learn of the criminal underpinnings, that sort of stuff.

Step 4: Another Fight

Time to bring the pace back up again with another good solid fight. This one shouldn't be too hard. Maybe slightly less diffcult than the first and certainly less difficult than the final fight. Keep in mind that most fights should give the PCs some clue about the overall storyline going on. Pepper in interesting clues all throughout the game. This fight could be less about monsters and more about an interesting environment. Are they hanging from the side of a cliff? Are they fighting on the remains of a crashing airship? What's the environmental hook in this fight?

Step 5: More Exploration or Interactions

Depending on the type of adventure going on, this is a great time for the PCs to tie up any loose ends. This is where the big reveal occurs. It might be the lowest level of a dungeon, a secret chamber in the castle, or finding out that the queen's attendant is really an ancient sorceress in disguise.

Step 6: Final Battle

Near the end of the adventure our heroes come face to face with the true villain. This should be a nice challenging fight with interesting terrain and other interesting variables that make it an exciting batle. This is your big set-piece fight if you're using cool maps or 3d terrain.

Step 7: Conclusion

We don't have to leave a lot of time at the end but we should leave some time to tie off the loose ends and give the PCs some closure. Usually, by the end of a big final fight, players are packing up their dice and starting to check their watches. A little extra time to describe the impact of their actions usually ties off the game right.

A Blunt Instrument

This outline isn't perfect and it shouldn't be used all the time. In particular it doesn't work for more standard serial adventures where, in many cases, stories will be broken up across multiple sessions. Still, a good balance of interaction, exploration, and combat helps keep the beats of pace going.

As a tool to get you started building a fun adventure, you could do a lot worse than an outline like this one. Like all of our tips, try it out and rebuild it into something useful for you.