What’s under the hood?

Time to lift the lid and see what makes the engine purr.

Here’s a roundup of my latest in rpg writing.

Gnome Stew

I’ve posted two installments in the summertime world-building exercise.

The first, from June 29 was Draw In Those Nations, where we carve up our continent-sized map into  territories and countries. One of the lessons I wanted to impart comes from European history, which is that geographic features are from being the only reason for having a border. In fact, some boundaries are seemingly arbitrary, until you look at the context of the times they were established.

The second piece was Homeland from Aug. 6. Now we are focused solely on fleshing out a single nation, the one where our fantasy adventures will take place. I use the Nentir Vale from Dungeons and Dragons fourth edition as a solid example of how to create a realm of adventure, but to do so concisely. The descriptions for locations within the Nentir Vale take up only two and a half pages of the 4E Dungeon Master’s Guide, yet there is no shortage of adventure potential.

ENnie awards

Gnome Stew received its third straight gold medal Aug. 3 from the ENnie Awards, and for that, all thanks must go to loyal readers and fans. Thank you.

This year, the game mastering website was nominated in the category of Best Blog (sometimes the site is entered under Best Website). The lion’s share of the credit goes to our current gnome-in-chief, John Arcadian, a tarrasque-handler in more ways than one.  Like our founding editor, Martin Ralya, John has a strong vision for the site, which tries to reflects the diversity found in our community but also meet its expectation for solid information and table advice.

While on the ENnies, I wanted to share my enthusiasm that Elventower was awarded with a silver for Best Website. Derek Ruiz is a game designer and cartographer whose work really shines. His productivity is just amazing. Please visit his site and see for yourself.

Kobold Press

I’m really getting my adventure-writing chops tested with the Midgard Dungeon series. Special thanks to Scott Gable, who’s been my editor on this project.

Profahnter Water Station is a storm sewer pump station deep below Zobeck, the signature city in the Midgard Campaign Setting.  In keeping with the theme of Zobeck serving as the Crossroads of the setting, this underwater hub is a crossroads in the Cartways dungeons, a place where nefarious deals are done and mad experiments are conducted. Also keeping with the clank and steam aesthetic of Zobeck, there is a malfunctioning machine and clockwork guardians.

One thing I learned after publishing a couple of these was there is interest from readers in knowing what level of adventure they were written for. I’d omitted that information from the first two, presuming,  incorrectly it seems, that it needed to be specified. Either the monster’s printed challenge rating made it evident or that most GMs were like me, in that they take an adventure idea and adjust the monster stats as they play to fit the strength of the party at the table.  So, from here on out, these dungeons will include a power level.

I tried a different, more narrative approach with the July 27 piece, “Sunken Treasure” of Hammra Cistern.   This was my homage to the real-world historical site of Raqmu at Petra, Jordan, the trading city carved from the rock and whose Treasury building was featured prominently in many motion pictures, including “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.”  One of the most amazing things about Petra is that its founders, the Nabataeans, were skilled at harvesting water from the surrounding desert. Its an element I hope I captured for this adventure.



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I'm a professional print journalist and gaming hobbyist who loves reading and watching science fiction and fantasy, especially the TV show "Xena: Warrior Princess." I cheer for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers, and like college volleyball and basketball. I am master of my own kettle grill.

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