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51

How about an Aboleth? These aberrations are distinctly inhuman (to the point that they can be terrible to behold for the unprepared), vastly powerful - both physically and mystically; and they are aquatic, usually residing in deep oceans - which allows you to introduce either a single creature or a whole city of these horrors into your campaign without too ...


40

Behold the Beholder Classic fantasy based, preferably Western culture originating. The Beholder is a staple of Western fantasy gaming, one of the few creatures Wizards of the Coast and its predecessors have almost always considered to be Product Identity. They can't be a standard biped race, humans and elves are so last millennium. Oh, the beholder is ...


36

Sphinxes. You've got an imposing physical form combined with a mind suited to riddles and stratagems. Everyone knows that if you can't outsmart a sphinx, you're as good as meat. They are prone to discussion and monologue, so they can be negotiated with. They're even good spellcasters, some of them. Originates in Western culture, and though they may have ...


34

Supernatural poker face The first option seems to be: give immunities to important liars. But there are two problems on it: a) Being immune to Detect Lies makes you automatically suspect of being a liar, just as someone with his face covered seems to be a criminal. b) As more and more of your NPCs have that immunity, it won't be credible, especially if it ...


24

In real history, almost no land except impassible mountains and deep desert wasn't settled, and there are exceptions even then. The population of the world during the European medieval age was much lower than today, but widely spread out in all the known habitable regions of Earth. Take that, and now add powerful, inimical monsters to the wilderness. ...


20

Would adventurers arise if treasure was about... To your first question, yes. Though it is more about "dungeons filled with treasure" then necessarily the magic or the monsters. People tend to seek ways to make profits, especially if those can be made quickly. People are willing to take on risky endeavors to do so. Today, in the "First World", we tend ...


19

Phoenix Though considered primarily in modern context as large birds of prey and not denoted to a particular level of intelligence, in ancient societies they were a symbol of prosperity and good rule, only appearing for good and virtuous leaders. Its immortality makes it a special point, as reasoning may be the only way to deal with it. In the Eastern ...


15

Ars Magica has a system that allows for dynamic spell casting within their own framework. But spontaneous magic (as it calls it) is rooted into the existing system and it is not a light one. Mage: The Ascension, despite its numerous flaws, had an interesting system for creating magical effects. Again, it was derived from a few magical skills that one could ...


14

"Adventurers" in the real world Real-world "adventurers" engage in: Trade. A lot of human activity is based on the exchange of stuff for other stuff that you want more. Exploration. Mainly to open up new opportunities for trade. Depending on the era, an explorer might be motivated by the desire to stake out their own land claims, rewards from patrons, or ...


14

Figure out how relations are between the orcs and the ogres in the camp. Give these two groups tribal names, flags, distinctive armor, etc. Are there members of more than one clan within either tribe? If so, give each clan a name and a flag, and figure out the relations between the clans. Is there tension there? History? Pride? Think about how labor is ...


13

Roll for Shoes The entire system is composed of seven bullet points, so it's dead simple, and character creation is done mostly during play, not before, which means you can dive into a game without any pre-game prep at all (great for maximising your time in a one-shot!). The game's settingless, and because players name their skills as they play it allows ...


12

Lie Detection Barrier and Misinformation If there is a way to detect lies, then there should be a way to protect against lie detection. Villains would protect themselves, and would not share the truth with their minions. In this case they may even lie to his/her high-rank generals, because if someone try to detect lies, they would find none. They may even ...


11

Change story focus. Just catching somebody on lies is not automatically win. It's a clue. From standpoint of Unusal Suspects: investigators know that this person lies to them. They just don't know what part of this lie is correct. And they need to know curcumstances to charge somebody with something. Detect Lies is a glorified error prone polygraph ...


11

What level PCs can manage a horde of 300+ orcs & ogres!? Challenge I think their biggest problem will be the infighting/challenges for leadership from their followers! Other civilized cities & adventurers attacking your horde (even if you've been friendly, I'd take you out before you become a threat) Engaging I think you'd only need a few ...


10

In some eras of Medieval Europe, there was a military unit known as a lance. It is like a squad, but also mirrors adventuring parties really well. This is especially true if you consider some of the attributes of lances: Everyone had a role or specialization within the lance (the knight, page, crossbowmen, the dude with the bill-hook, etc.) Basic lances ...


10

The Closest 'Real World' Equivalent to DnD Adventurers is the Noble Class One of the best, and only, ways to enter the Noble class from the peasantry was to be so ridiculously puissant at combat that you were given a command - and from that tiny band of men, achieved so much so prominently and notably that you were given a higher rank, and so forth. Saving ...


9

From your description it sounds as if your system is intended to be absolutely minimal in use of rules. In that case, you're correct to worry about listing all the spells in advance - you could spend years sorting out balance and abuse problems, and still not have anything that remotely resembles what a player actually wants to do. Spells you design should ...


8

Frank Herbert's novel Dune touched on this. There were people who could detect lies unerringly (the Bene Gesserit "Truthsayers"); as a result, the unsavory powerful people arranged their affairs such that they would not have to lie. They wouldn't say "Execute this guy and get rid of the body" to their underlings; instead they would say something like "I ...


7

For the simple reason: Because when you add dungeons full of loot, this becomes the 'gold rush'. The get-rich-quick that doesn't work for 95% of the people who try it. For the complex reason: Unless you're doing some house-ruled system with a lot of differences in how things work, fantasy worlds are not usually analogous to medieval Europe. Yes, it ...


7

Dyson's Dodecahedron has a number of really nice self-contained dungeon adventures, some of them are award-winners. Scroll down the page to see them. For your purposes, the one I would recommend is "The Sewers of Travon" It is free. (+) It is large: (+) It spans under the entirety of a largish city (underground). It has a valid purpose to exist: (+) It ...


7

The problem you are having is that magic is more thoroughly entangled with setting than most aspects of a gaming system. Whatever decisions you make about the magic system inform your setting, and vice-versa. Here's what I mean: In most fantasy settings, you will find swords. There will be different styles, different techniques, etc.. But swords work the ...


6

Glorantha is a magic-rich world in which normal folks such as herders and farmers have day-to-day magic, and there are multiple magical disciplines upon which to draw. The world is most closely associated with RuneQuest and HeroQuest, but the most recent game world materials are essentially system agnostic.


6

Tamriel, The Elder Scrolls The continent of Tamriel in which The Elder Scrolls games take place is a focal point of magic, and it pervades the landscape. Basic magic (creating a small light, a spark of fire sufficient to light a candle, etc.) are fairly common even among the uneducated. However, these facets of Tamriel are not always well-depicted in the ...


6

You group them all together but I handle these things three different ways: For effects like detect lie, my rule of thumb is that it only works if the statement is a literal falsehood, and only reports to the user that a lie is being told - not what part of the statement is a lie or what the truth is. Intentional deception that is technically true doesn't ...


5

Play to the spell's weaknesses. In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, an organization of spellcasters known as the Aes Sedai have mystically bound themselves to an oath to, among other things, "speak no word that is not true". But they have become masters of rhetorical techniques like misdirection, dodging the question, concealing information, and so on, ...


4

Those adventures are perfectly viable for low level characters, that don't have access to game-breaking magic or software/cyberware. Especially for D&D, but other systems also, characters become too powerful to actually tell believable stories inside the system later on. Personally, I just change those spells. They still work the same way but only give ...


4

A very interesting dungeon I've run with my group was the Halls of the Mad Mage, by the Alexandrian. It plays around a lot with non-Euclidean geometry (an everflowing waterfall, for example, and a set of stairs where going up and down take you to the same room - this was a lot of fun for my group when they tried to figure out what was going on, and it's ...


3

Does it follow that if you introduce magic and monsters guarding dungeons filled with treasure into a historical medieval setting, you'll see an adventuring class emerge? Why not? If the prospect of pay for fighting other humans is incentive to mercenaries irl, then being paid as much as you could carry in gold, gems and magic items, doubly so in ...


3

Historical bands of wandering warriors usually emerged after significant social upheaval. A class of unemployed warriors can be an offshoot of demographics and a sudden unexpected era of peace (ronin), diminishing public finances, or expansionism spreading into a lawless frontier (cossacks, cowboys). Groups of wandering warriors can be fostered by a ...


2

I once tried to do this. Gave up before I got very far. My idea was that you can quantify effects as havign a certain number of points. Each spell must be made up of things on the list. Add together the total number of points for the rating of the spell. your "magic" score results in how many points you can cast per spell or per day... 1 point to do 1 ...



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