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I Forge Iron

Call me Ishmael, a Roleplaying adventure ages 10 and up


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So, to not go even further off topic in other parts I suggest we continue over here.

What I am thinking off is doing something like Frosty did with his "on the beach" story, but my story would be start on an actual ship (if you still don't get the title, shame on you and go to the library).

So, I like to start with some world building, all my experience as a DM has been in fantasy or Lovecraftian setting, since the normal world gives people way to much understanding about what makes things tick. Imo it is way more interesting to strand in a new world where you can use some of your old knowledge, but there are also new things to learn/explore. 

1. Time period? 

2. no or low fantasy?

3. Climate?

4. World changing event?

 

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Wooden ships? corrac, clipper, in between? 

Or steam ship? Pre American Civil war to Titanic?

Modern or future?

If we do trans world type displacement, then I offer Clark's law. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." For example a metal detector is for scrying metal. No?

Yes, a climate simplifies things. Are we talking: climate, season or weather? An adventure could take us to any, anytime of the year. Here it can be 85f, and raining but a week's steady walking and you're on ice fields with lows in the single digits. 

World changing event eh: prevent, cause, deal with an ancient one? 

About, "going to the library." Over here that's a polite way to excuse yourself to go to the toilet. Of course sometimes Ish really Shmells. :wacko:

Frosty The Lucky.

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Are you voting for monsters large enough to need harpoons George? Looking at your AVATAR makes me wonder if you own a razor. Thinking of your character? 

I just realized I mistakenly called Will-I-Am Mr. DM. My bad, do I get experience points for realizing the mistake?

I was giving climate a little thought. Who's read, "Icerigger," by Alan Dean Foster? Cruising a frozen sea on a giant 4 masted ice skate could be fun. It's a good read if you haven't read it. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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The biggest gap I tend to see in Fantasy books is the amount of time basic tasks take in low tech situations.  Like: How long does it take to walk 100 miles?  How long does that take if you have to carry food and camping supplies?  How long does it take if you have to forage for food and prepare it as you go along?

My classic example was a scene from one of the Shannara series: the party has been split up and once character is alone without food or supplies; but he isn't worried, he's a ranger and can travel point to point in the forest and hunt with his bow to provide food as he goes along. So he sets off "whistling and singing".   There is a special term for bow hunters who try to hunt in a forest while travelling point to point and whistling and singing...Starving!

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Good suggestions, I was thinking about the 1800's, anyone remember the Essex? It sailed out when some of you where just started walking :P

As for climate, that kind of depends if we start on this planet or some made up version. That also plays into the no or low fantasy aspect. Finding a bear on a island you are getting fresh water from is one thing, and most of you would know what to do. But what happens if a short faced bear or Megatherium wanders out of the woods. 

I am not much for "preventing" a disaster, since we are but men and there is not much that can be done if a tsunami crashes you boat and the earthquake changes the surface of the known world (unless of course you play into more of the low to mid fantasy and people get special powers) Dealing with disasters, or finding evidence of a disaster destroying the world (example, the ship gets lost in a terrible storm near the Bermuda triable, when the ship get out of the storm you look at the sky and the stars are just "wrong", after getting back on track you sail back to the port where you left only to find it ruined (can be like Pripyat is now, could be even worse)).

But then again, going sci-fi can also be very interesting, a old classic whaling boat that flies from planet to planet :D 

George, maybe it will be the other way around, and the harpoons are the only metal you can find, are you going to sacrifice them to make tools? Or do you need them as weapons? Maybe great Cthulhu laughs at your pointy sticks.

Thomas, that is indeed something wrong with a lot of fantasy, just because someone can do a thing, does not mean he does not need effort, or that he can fail. I have had some weird looks from players who went "we set up camp and start a long rest" "me: well, it is dark, how do you set up camp" "we make a fire" "me: how?" "confused face, I have a fire-starting kit" "me: ok, do you have wood?" "we are in a forest, we find wood" "me: well, as you know it has been raining the entire day, so if you get a fire hot enough that would dry wood, but where do you get materials to START the fire?" They learned to take more care into these simple tasks from then out. 

Frosty, there is no XP yet, but you can give yourself a pat on the back.

 

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I knew it would come up and even expected Thomas to bring it up. The basic tasks of life, the time, effort and utility of results became a major THING. 

How do you as DM balance realism and playability? If the party has to account for everything, say supplies and travel time for examples, as it's being used now. A party of 5 with a workable blend of skills and abilities can maintain an average 4mph walking speed. On a smooth surface say a Roman road. IF it isn't raining and traffic isn't heavy. Conditions isn't too hard to figure in but say they can make that kind of time. Can they travel 10 hrs. a day?  How long does it take to prepare meals? Eat "Waybread" as you walk? Ever try to JUST eat hardtack? Soldiers during the American Civil war took to carrying hard tack and jerky in a water proof leather bag soaking in water constantly to have edible food ready when they got the chance to stop and eat. Starvation and malnutrition was the norm until a Northern General I'm sure Thomas can supply the name I don't recall, Made hot nutritious meals the #1 priority for the troops. 

That's just one aspect, how do you play it? If you go for realistic the party can expect to spend half the day cumulative time in camp: making and breaking camp, collecting and preparing wood, foraging and preparing forage, cooking and preparation are two different things in the real world. 

I've played with DMs who demanded realism and the entire session was taken up with waking up, dressing eating breakfast and loading up to start walking. About 2 hrs of rolling the dice and we were done with that approach.

On the other hand is the DM that only cares for play and ignores realism. You end up with, I kill the ogre and put the treasure in my pack. Yay, lok at all the experience and treasure points I have! I buy a +14 sword!

Balancing realism and playability on the fly was the toughest task for me as DM. Educating the boffos who didn't pay attention, tried to use modern tech, etc. was easy. The party that never remembered to map the dungeon was just plain fun. We were into dungeons and mazes at the time. <evil grin>

Outdoor modules turned right into a nightmare for the DM. We didn't do what he'd planned, right from the beginning. We were SUPPOSED to fight our way up a narrow valley trail, encountering: bands of orcs, highwaymen, various companies and bands of monsters and such, all organized by an evil mage we were tasked with killing. 

Wellllll. . . a little scouting after grounding our boat at the designated river mouth, Gee there wasn't anywhere else to land!:o The two party members best suited to scouting, the ranger (Richard:)) and the half elf thief took a look over the ridges defining the river valley. Boots of Striding and a Cloak of Hiding :) got me across the ridge I took and being a wood elf had Peej over his side, scouted, reported and catching up to me in about an hour and a half. Gee, what did we find? The monsters brought together by the evil mage in their camps, occupying a side canyon. Being as they didn't get along under the best of conditions. Something Russ, playing Cormu, the magic user fighter, challenged the DM about. It turned out the mage had to have put them under a spell making them sleepy docile and unresponsive until called on for the ambushes.  

It was vast COOLNESS to take a small, sleeping army in a rear flank attack, AFTER the half elf thief sneaks into the pavilion and slits the evil mage's throat. Know what happens to a couple hundred orcs when some smarty tunic ranger pinks the ogre standing right in front of them in the butt with an arrow? Wakes the ogre right up who turns around to find out what bit him and it starts smooshing orcs who wake up for all the good it does them. The other ogres wake up and don't want to miss out on the fun. In no time the party was just doing clean up, taking out individuals or bands trying to sneak off. 

It was a catastrophe for Steve the DM. We blew his entire game plan in the first 5 minutes, though it took some time to clean out all the monsters. And as reported the evil mage did indeed have some important treasure besides the things we were hired to collect. He gave serious thought to killing us all off with a mage booby trap or a meteor but was too fair a guy.

When Russ DMed games didn't get away from him like that and he played an excellent balance of real/play. However, Russ typically spent months planning modules. It was a daunting dedication he had. When he passed away his wife offered his notebooks to Steve but we hadn't played in a few years. I wonder if Steve still has Russes modules and notebooks, heck I don't k now if Steve is still alive even. 

It's been so long. Now I really need to find my box of D&D stuff. By time I stopped playing, Richard was one awesome ranger fighter cleric. Only the one spell though, still . . . 

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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Amazing story Frosty, blending realism and playability is indeed pretty hard, I used it more as a way to make players think about what they need to do, especially the first time, or if the situations change. Nobody cares about explaining how them make camp in a town, they just ask around for a tavern. It gets more difficult if they do not speak the language. 

Players will always surprise you, sometimes that gives you a good laugh, sometimes you just want to Tarrasque them. Once hear of a group that was fighting a monster on top off a tower, they nocked the monster down the tower and then the druid jumped after it, while transforming into a tree. You just can't think of things like that as a DM.

 

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The DM can have fun to. I had a Paladin that i used to play. He was the strongest of the group i played with so there were times i would be the one to smash a door or something. Anywho, during one game we came across a door and i said i would just charge it. The DM rolled and said, i was now laying on the floor unconscious with a broken nose. I says what happened, he said maybe next time draw your axe and attack the door, dont use your face.

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I remember surprising a DM as I had read Francis Galton's "The Art of Travel" a book on how to lead expeditions into the unknown in Victorian times.  So how to set up camp in areas with roving bandits.  How to traverse deserts, forests, ice.  What you need to carry with you and how to carry it.  Along with discourses on whether goat, sheep or camel milk lasts longer for use in your morning tea...

There is another easily found book with the same title; so be careful to look for Galton's name!

The art of travel, or, Shifts and contrivances available in wild countries 1855. (Modern reprints are available!)

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I never liked paladins in my groups, both as a player and a DM. Someone would either go "I do it all for the greater good and I can do what I want" and then execute a prisoner, or be a pain for every other player with their "NO, we will not sneak into their camp, we must give them a chance to defend themselves" I tried playing one once and it was so hard to balance out the vows and the rest of the party, I rather play a cleric or a alchemist, more healing and less rules. 

Especially my last Alchemist, in pathfinder you can build them like a sort of a dr jekyll/mr hyde. So normally he was  a Gnome named Gummer, a cheerful fellow that used his knowledge of plants to make potions that would heal and help the party. Until things got dangerous, then he would drink his special potion to become a hulking mass of teeth and claw named Urzug, making him about 2 feet taller and very very different in personality. No more cheerful laughter and helping out other, no, Urguz lived for destruction and explosion's. So his skill in alchemy was now used to make bombs, and if the bombs ran out he would use his claws to rip and tear. 

I think I found the book you where talking about Thomas, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/14681/14681-h/14681-h.htm. It wont be available in Dutch stores for about 9 weeks...

 

 

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Looks like it. I've always bought hard copies; but keep giving them away to friends; time to buy another I guess.  However IIRC it was written in 1855; so no cars/trucks, trains only in "civilized" areas, no electric systems, lights, motors, etc.

It was updated several times over the years. It might be interesting to compare various editions and see how the world changed over time.  The author was very interesting too, a polymath who tried to bring statistics into the "soft sciences", among the many things he is remembered for he coined the term "Nature versus Nurture" and made the first weather map.

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Paladins were a mean spirited joke played by Gary Gygax that is going to live forever in infamy!:angry:

After allowing one Paladin most DMs I knew excluded them as PCs. 

I like to play a PC with one neutral alignment, my favorite neutral good, makes for playable rangers. Richard got carried to Hell and returned neutral evil with a +10 charisma so he could lie convincingly. It was most of the way through the second session the party figured Richard was no longer a good guy. It was a glorious final battle.

Good link, "The Art of Travel," 5th ed. looks like an interesting read. Especially if I have to walk to town!

Frosty The Lucky.

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That is what I also did, no Paladins in my group. But then again, I wield a pretty big BAN-hammer. I used to have a pretty extensive list of tweaks and changes to the DnD rules. Spells even more so, things like haste and fly are just to overpowered and make things boring. You know a spell is to strong if it is the only spell a mage will use.

Having a player that can lie about his true motive is very interesting, in the story I was designing before the Covid ruined everything I wanted the party to find a shrine of a forgotten god. He would set them on quests to right the wrongs done to him by the other gods and the players would be rewarded with powerful artifacts, spells and powers.

Thing is, he was no god. Or at least not a god in the normal sense of the world, he would have either been a Demon or a Great old one (thing Cthulhu without the Calamari). The plan was to have him "influence" one of the players to become his minion and work on the party's belief in how good of a god he was from the inside. 

I would have loved to see how that would turn out, would they see trough the clever lies of a God, would they see that one of their own was being corrupted? Would they just kill him or would they find some way of "curing" him? Or would they just follow what I fed them like sheep, only to see the world burn because of their actions.

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It takes some rearrangement of the game mechanics if you need to tell the DM something without letting anyone else in the party know "somethings up".  Casually meeting them out of the game and making prior arrangements for your character's dastardly plans can work well.

On the whole I found the best  + you could get was to make your character so much fun in the game that people and the DM went out of their way to preserve it in bad situations.  The converse is also true; if your character is so obnoxious nobody else likes them...well there was the time a character fell unconscious and woke up with invisible explosive runes tattooed on there face. At random intervals a party member would read one...worked pretty good until we met a beholder that read all of them at once.  And that was one of the nicer things we did.  One particularly obnoxious player, we took over his character and ran it. Every game start we would roll to see if it was still controlled and he had to sit there doing nothing; again until a TPK freed him.  (We loaded his character up with all the defensive stuff the party had so he wouldn't die and free the player to roll another character.  Same player that got the "you must roll a character at the game" rule after the 4th character he had in a row that was a 00,00,00 probability roll...

Shoot I had fun with bad characters; Regnad Kcin, 6,6,6,---- Dm offered to kill him for me. I played him to a glorious death from a 1 hit point orc...

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Really, you named a character Nick Danger? :P

If I needed to let the DM know something I would just pas him a short note, since I always had tons of printout of my spells and bonuses (paper made old in the oven, burned and darkened with coffee) nobody would even notice if I was writing up a novel.

The invisible runes sound pretty evil, we found something like that in a letter once. When we opened up the envelope about 12 fireballs went off. Somehow we managed to get lucky and survive with single digit hit points left, the tavern we where standing in did not roll that well. Neither did the tavern owner or the rest of the patrons.

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The context is that we were gaming at a Game Store and were not allowed to exclude people from the group.  Having a large space open till past midnight with tables and chairs was hard to find when we were in college.

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Yeah, excluding people in a public place would be a no no. But some people just don't understand how to play DnD like games. 

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That's about how Richard got taken to Hell and his alignment changed. He was scouting a path and it passed a threshold to another dimension laid by a demigod. To the party, Richard just walked down the path and gave the all clear. To Richard he spent years in Hell being tortured. 

We just passed notes to the DM and if the DM didn't notice to each other. 

I was out of gaming when computers became reasonably portable or I would've seen about wiring the game. Everybody with a screen and keyboard to com with the DM. Later I thought of an easier and probably better method. Small dry erase boards in a shadow box so only the person you aimed it at could read it. 

Ever try to play a neutral neutral alignment? I tried once and based play on RAH's Witness from Stranger in a Strange Land. Pretty hard to play, not quite unplayable but it was a LOT of fun now and then. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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"Appears white." I'm paraphrasing Appears, that may not be the word used. He used that character so masterfully, I'll bet RAH would've been the best DM ever. 

Frosty The Lucky. 

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