Monday, March 28, 2016

Salaries and Feudal Holdings for the Kingdom Building Rules

Election season got you down?  Has the endless parade of politicians and talking heads left you longing for the days when fiefs were held in vassalage directly from the king in exchange for the promise of military service?  Well if you are running a campaign that uses the Kingdom Building rules, you might appreciate the following set of optional rules!

If you are familiar with the Kingdom Building rules (and if you aren't, none of this is going to make much sense), you know that they are a set of rules designed to let your adventuring party control and grow their own realm.  Each member of the party can take a leadership position ranging from Ruler to High Priest to Spymaster, with plenty more positions open for NPCs.  They manage the creation and expansion of settlements, issue edicts, develop the land, and collect taxes.  It's basically a whole other game - I recommend setting up a facebook group where your players can discuss affairs of state so that it doesn't take up too much of your tabletop time.

My adventuring group in the ongoing but long-stalled Graverobbers campaign is about to begin ruling over their newly forged barony, but as I was going over the Kingdom Building rules I realized that there wasn't a lot of incentive for some of the characters.  If you know history, you know that people like to use positions of power to increase their personal wealth.  This was a major aspect of feudal society, but it is sadly lacking in the Kingdom Building rules.  So I whipped up the following optional rules that will allow characters to draw a salary from the kingdom's treasury, or even control their own fiefdom and manage a small settlement.

The following material given in gold text is available as Open Game Content under the OGL.  Open Game Content is ©2016 Jonah Bomgaars.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Monster Monday: Rustbound Skeleton

Today's Monster Monday is the rustbound skeleton, an undead creature that can reduce your fighter's armor to dust.  Bones and rusted armor fused together by necromantic energies and driven by a will to visit death and decay on the living.

Remains from the Battle of Visby, 1361
Adventurers might encounter rustbound skeletons in a crypt that has been infested with rust monsters, while investigating a shipwreck, or while traversing an old battlefield.  Check out the rustbound skeleton template below, and the example rustbound skeletal knight!

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is ©2016 Jonah Bomgaars.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Gods and Religions, Part 1: Worldbuilding Options

Some of my players may find it funny that I am starting up a series of articles on gods and religions.  It seems like whenever they roll up new characters for one of my work-in-progress campaign settings, one of them asks, "So what gods do we have to choose from?" and my response is always a sheepish, "I, uh, haven't gotten around to making the gods yet."  In my defense, even if it rarely comes to fruition, I devote a fairly large portion of my thought processes to the gods of a setting.  Gods and religions are important, and if executed properly, their influence on the campaign setting can be profound.  

The fantasy worlds of D&D and Pathfinder have an advantage over our world in that the gods have an empirically verifiable effect on those worlds.  Our world has a variety of competing religions and faiths and an increasing number of people who doubt the veracity of any of them.  If army chaplains could heal the wounds of their companions with a touch of their glowing hand, like D&D clerics and paladins can, our world would likely have a very different outlook on religion.  As it is, we as worldbuilders have to deal with this difference as best we can.  

There are two main approaches that a typical campaign setting takes to religions: universal gods, or local pantheons.  

Universal Gods
In this approach, the same gods hold sway over the entire campaign setting.  This is what most campaign settings (eg. Faerûn, Greyhawk, Golarion) tend to use.  It is the easier approach for the creator of the world, because they only have to think up one batch of gods (usually adding in some new ones in later supplements), and it is easier for the players because they don't need to navigate a treacherous web of home-brewed theology.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Getting Into Character: An RPG Character Questionnaire

Whether you are new to roleplaying or a storied veteran of the form, sometimes you need a little help getting into character.  Maybe you have a great concept for a character that you need to flesh out, or maybe you have a character you know intimately but want to view from a different angle.  Inspired by exercises authors use to get into the minds of their characters and that actors use to get into their roles, I have created a short questionnaire to flesh out your RPG character.

Go beyond the usual 'race, class, height, weight, hair, etc.' on your character sheet and delve into your adventurer's personality, background, and physical features.  Some questions (like "Where or with whom do they feel most as home?") are broad, allowing you room to expand and interpret your character's nuances.  Others (like "What would a demon lord try to tempt them with?") are more specific, designed to get you to explore aspects of your character that you might not otherwise think of during character creation.  One word answers are discouraged; instead of "What color is their hair?" it asks you to "Describe their hair," opening the door not just to color but to texture, smell, thickness, style preferences, and more.  The goal is to fully realize your character physically, emotionally, and mentally, making roleplaying easier and more rewarding - and more fun!

Read the questionnaire below or click here to download it from my patreon in pdf or docx formats!