I’ve stumbled on a number of interesting posts that I have to share with you.
Pastures of Green
There’s been a whirlwind of cool new settings and thought about settings out there recently. I can’t imagine what would have everybody scrambling to update and create new worlds. Well, maybe if I stretch myself I can think of something…
Troy here at the Stew has a couple of posts about Remaking the Realms (one and two). It’s a great look at picking what you want to keep and what you’ll toss when you’re given the opportunity to advance the timeline and mangle a setting to your heart’s content.
Chris Chinn has been developing an awesome setting he’s calling five blades of Bahamut. The setting involves a lot of nonstandard fantasy elements, including airships and borrowing from India’s rich visuals. He’s using the dieties from the core books, but borrows from the real world to work in the relationships, rivalries, and disputes between the gods so it feels more like historical myth. I really like his monsters article– the twist really reinforces core gameplay and eliminates some of the moral quandaries that otherwise get in the way. Quest seeds are a great way for players to pick goals that have meaning in the game world. Similarly, the litanies of the cults of Tiamat and Bahamut are ready to add to any campaign, adding depth to their worshipers and faiths.
Asamor of Encounter a day has begun adapting the Magic set Ravnica to D&D. Parts one and two [UPDATE:and three].
I know Martin has linked to it a couple of times, but Pen and Paper Portal wrote a series of premade campaigns. Each premade campaign is a series of 3-4 linked posts with ideas for a campaign beginning, middle, and end. The 28 posts are a half dozen world sketches that you can use to kick start your world building.
The Verbing Noun has a series of posts talking about world building. The example world is Nightlands, a setting that keeps NPCs penned in the cities, afraid of the endless dark. The city of Lumina is literally a point of light in the darkness. Orcs are not just Orcs is a plea to have a decent reason for your evil humanoids raid and pillage; have real societies, not just cutouts. The plea for realistic motivations in this article contrasts nicely with Chris Chinn’s Monster article above.
Harvestlands is an interesting community developing a 4e world for living style play. In the Harvestlands, the gnomes are a fractured race, mostly penned in one city. The living dice interview was the first I’d heard of this world.
There’s also a little company called Wizards of the Coast that’s been running some articles about updating the Forgotten Realms for 4e. Maybe you’ve heard of them?
If you want to steal beautiful maps, look over here. If you’d rather learn how John Harper did it, read his map making tutorial.
If you want great looking characters for inspiration? Heather at Errant Dreams shares pages of great pictures, already sifted through and sorted. Yax at Dungeonmastering.com has been running Pimp My Character, a series with custom art from avatarart.com as the prize. Borrow some attractively fleshed out characters while you’re there.
Chatty DM continues his series about RPG blogging. He starts of with why you’d want to, wanders on to how you do it and what you might write about. He’s up to who you write for. Other than me. I make an excellent target audience. [Update: He concludes the series with then what?]
Sheep sheep everywhere!
Some of my favorite science fiction and fantasy authors are writing articles and sharing short stories over on tor.com. Bruce Baugh has the gaming beat– he recently wrote about a pair of games, Cold City and Microlight d20. An excellent early post was RPGs: Presenting Settings, which talks about different approaches you can take when designing and presenting a world.
Rob Donoghue, of Evil Hat, has fallen in love with 4e. His analysis of the Swordmage and the Wizard is detailed and impressive.
If you’re still playing 3.5e D&D, but want to use some of those cool new kobold variants, look no further than Greywulf’s review of Fantasy Fiends: Kobolds. If you like the 4e way of presenting rules and want to port it back to clarify 3.5, Dragon Avenue reviews The System Operational Reference Digest (SORD).
Amagi games keeps churning out great stuff. Hideaway has good prompts when you’re creating a home base, while broken places is a one stop generator for towns in trouble, towns that could use the PC’s help. Troping helps you reward characters when they do appropriate (to the genre) stuff. That’s always handy.
Over at the recently relocated A Butterfly Dreaming, Scott is Seeking and Defining the Raven Queen. [UPDATE: The series continues in Encountering the Raven Queen.]
Vanir has an interesting hypothesis about a group’s stages of preferences. The preferences of the groups I play with now and have played with in the past are well represented here.
Hack/ has a nice roundup of of 4e reviews. Despite linking to several good reviews there are so many it’s like scooping out the ocean with a teaspoon. The review tend to run from least fond of 4e to most fond as you read on.
What cool stuff did I miss? Did you write something we should all read? Link ’em in the comments.
This puts my Friday rodeos to shame, Scott — it’s awesome!
Clearly you are a robo-gnome, brain-jacked straight into the web, reading RSS feeds while the rest of us sleep. 😛 Seriously, though, this is a crazy-good collection of links, and I like your presentation.
Nice link roundup.
RE: Monsters. I have always disliked the attempt to make monsters “just like us”. Orcs aren’t monsters because they’re misunderstood; they’re monsters because they’re hardwired to be evil, violent, and cruel. Otherwise, you end up playing Pacifist: The Boring.
Thanks for linking. I just wanted to clarify that I’m not using India’s history in any way, I’m just using the visual style of India, as much as D&D uses the visual style of pseudo-Europe. Anyone looking for Indian history or culture will be disappointed.
Thanks for the clarification Chris. People, don’t go over there looking for the history of India– you’ll be disappointed. Go for an awesome setting and you’ll come away happy.
Also, thanks Martin. Kurt, that tension is reflected in Monsters vs. Orcs are not just Orcs. Chris’s monsters gives you a good reason to slaughter them, no compunctions, while Verbing encourages you to make them realistic, with the side effect of graying morality (and, hopefully, making the world feel more realistic and complete).
Thanks for the link. Always nice to know people are reading.
This is a very thorough roundup. Looks like I have reading material for the day! Thank you.
I find it interesting that the beginning and ending stages in Vanir’s analysis are basically the same – “Who cares if we get the rules exactly right; let’s have fun.”
Thanks for the links, I’m very proud of how this series has turned out!
Trask at living dice has a chat about the pathfinder society.
I wonder if the new era, with all of the competing home/con/living league organizations [WotC’s Living Forgotten Realms, Piazo’s Pathfinder Society, and Harvestlands] will be a boon to drop in players and shared worlds everywhere? It’s an interesting development and not one I would have guessed– it’s an unusual side effect of the 3.5/4e split.
These were some great links, Scott. I hope this roundup becomes a regular thing.
Martin does a great job; I just had a pouch full of links that had to be shared. Glad you enjoyed them!
I just started doing Gnome Rodeos because I thought they’d be something our readers would enjoy — it’s not an exclusive claim by any means. 😉
I like your style better, to be perfectly honest. I’ll have to think about what I can do to change mine up a bit.
Yours rocked — I hope you’ll do more of them.
It took me a bit to figure out where the sudden spike in traffic to The Verbing Noun came from. Thanks for the links.
I’ve heard of Gnome Stew around the blogs, but I can’t get to it from work due to a web filter. I rarely read blogs outside of work but this site seems anything but short for content. I believe I will peruse.