#RPGaDAY2020 Day 24 – Humour

Well after today there are seven more posts left of this blog event. We could almost call it the home straight.

Let’s jump in and see what today’s theme is…

Humour is a hard one in RPGs, and subjective.

What one person or group finds hilarious, another will find it falls flat.

During a session of D&D humour is something that happens spontaneously based on events and comments at the table.

If playing a horror scenario whether D&D or another system such as the Alien RPG, humour is a tool used to break the tension.

However there are RPGs that have humour and humorous situations built into them. The one I know of and own is Paranoia.

Paranoia is a comedy game – a dark comedy, for sure, but if people aren’t laughing out loud at least once per session, you’re doing your job wrong.” from the Paranoia GM manual.

I love how the manuals for Paranoia have been written. They have a style that is informative, casual, and humorous.

The GM manual for the game has a chapter giving advice offering tips for running humour in an RPG. A GMs mileage will vary with the given advice. But it’s still

One of my favourite quotes and bits of advice from the GM manual is the following:

Note: Always say ‘XP points’, never just ‘XP’. If it annoys you just reading through this book, imagine how much it’ll annoy your players.”

I think it captures the tone of the manuals and Paranoia itself perfectly.

And for the record the Paranoia Mission Book has one of the best, if not the best introductory scenarios for an RPG that I have seen (which admittedly isn’t extensive).

[YOUR SECURITY CLEARANCE IS NOT HIGH ENOUGH FOR THE TITLE OF THIS ADVENTURE] is the name of that starting scenario, written with a similar style as the other books that make up the core Paranoia RPG. It can actually be played without having read the other books or referring to them. Plus I really do enjoy reading this scenario, it’s a delight.

Paranoia is the go to game for me if I want to play a RPG that will have people laughing. It allows for so many silly situations and lots of slapstick humour.

It’s been funny reminding myself about Paranoia. I must get it to the table once all this silliness in the real world is over.

#RPGaDAY2020 Day 23 – Edge

Let’s see what curve ball this late #RPGaDAY2020 thing has for us today. Today’s curve ball is…

This one has me stumped.

I had to look the meaning of edge up and alternatives to use to get inspiration for this post.

In the end I decided to go with linking edge with extremity and reaching the furthest point of something, like a boundary.

My first and current campaign as a DM, which regular long time sufferers of this blog will know is a homebrew campaign I call In the Wake of Pytheas.

The campaign got its name after the Greek geographer and explorer Pytheas.

It has the party exploring the edges of the Sword Coast.

Bouncing around the islands that make the Moonshae Isles and the unnamed ones to the west of it.

However being only seven sessions in to the campaign the adventurers have only reached the Mintarn archipelago.

In those sessions they have managed to make enemies with a Minotaur pirate called Angrath. Seen the Red Rage of Mintarn, Hoondarrh the red dragon. Fought sahuagin. And now are on a “treasure hunt” trying to find a lost dwarven mine on Mintarn.

They have been given an adventure hook that will take them to the Northlander Isles trying to save a party member that has been kidnapped. But they haven’t followed that up yet.

But the nature of this campaign is that they can go anywhere. It’s a sandbox campaign.

I have ideas for adventures or islands for the adventurers to discover, that have a variety of sources of inspiration.

Such as the adventurers coming across an island based on the MtG realm Ixalan. Which has pirates, merfolk, vampires and dinosaurs. Which I think will be pretty cool.

Or having an island based on the Greek Minotaur legend. With the imminent arrival of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything I like the idea of using islands themed around the supernatural hazards.

This sandbox nature of the campaign is something I really love. The openness. The variety. That last bits important. It means we can try different genres, such as horror. Or different styles of play, such as dungeon crawl or wilderness. Which will hopefully keep things interesting for the players.

There we have it a very tenuous link to today’s theme of edge. More bs tomorrow see you then.

#RPGaDAY2020 Day 22 – Rare

For some reason yesterday was an amazing day for traffic to the blog. Over double it’s normal traffic.

Often these are rare blips. It doesn’t become the new norm.

Super small and cozy blogs like this, which don’t review stuff, cover news, or write in-depth insightful posts, are thankfully rare.

It means I can write about stuff I like, do a series of posts like this #RPGaDAY2020. Basically whatever I’m currently into, then that’s what I blog about. And that changes over time.

But you and I are here for one thing only today. And that’s to my poorly formed thoughts on the theme that was chosen for day 22 of the #RPGaDAY2020 when it was run back in August. That theme is …

I could talk about magic items and treasure within D&D. And if I was a betting man and could be bothered to google it. I’d bet good money that is the approach that a good few folks took when they hit today’s theme (back when people were doing this at the correct time).

Me I’m going to talk about real life rare items.

One that if it was in print I would be saying should be in every DM’s library. That rare item is Gary Gygax’s Extraordinary Book of Names.

I’ll admit I don’t own a physical copy of this book. I’d love to. But like most things that are out of print and unlikely to be printed again, the second hand price is astronomical. At the time of writing around £250 on Amazon!

This isn’t a book that is just made up from lists of names. It has essays on names and naming. The lists of real names are organised by origin not nationality. Plus there are lists of fantasy names. Each list has naming customs, pronunciation guidance. There are also tables you can roll against. It’s a great source of inspiration to help bring an NPC to life. With a name a picture starts to form of just who that NPC is.

The Gary Gygax’s Extraordinary Book of Names is still relevant today and easily used in conjunction with current systems. Which makes it an even rarer book, and no doubt pushes up its price even more.

But even old scenarios or supplements for long gone RPG systems or old versions of existing systems can be pretty hard to get hold of. Such as the two Judge Dredd RPG scenarios Judgement Day and Slaughter Margin. Although the cost of these is a bit more affordable.

Why would you want these sort of things?

Well you could be on a retro RPG kick and want to relive those halcyon days of yester year. Sadly through the mists of time your copies got lost for whatever reason.

Or you could be playing a current version of the system or IP and want to use the old material as a source of inspiration in the current version. Or you want to update an adventure you have fond memories of to play with the new rules.

Collecting rare out of print RPG publications for whatever reason can be expensive. But also rewarding.

Ok that’s enough of these ramblings. More tomorrow.

#RPGaDAY2020 Day 21 – Push

Still here?

Thanks for hanging in there.

We still have ten posts to go after this one.

Be strong we can make it.

I can’t promise it will be an easy ride. But once we get today’s post over it will be a bit easier.

Our #RPGaDAY2020 kick that noggin into gear inspiring word is…

Back in February in what was to turn out to be our penultimate D&D session before the Pandemic threw a giant spanner in the works. I wrote the following describing the events of that session.

After having a hearty breakfast our ”heroes” were escorted by the City Watch to their newly acquired ship. Waiting for them onboard was Hoondarrh’s tribute, complete with two knights guarding it.

Before setting sail the party were informed Valdor had been kidnapped, and that the Tyrant was in the process of finding out by whom and where he had been taken.

Our party set sail, and after a slight detour during the night, the ship was attacked by sahuagin.

The battle was long and bloody. Eventually our “heroes” won through.

The sahuagins “boat” was searched to no avail. So it was set on fire!

And that is where our “heroes” were left about to continue the delivery of the tribute.”

I didn’t go into much detail about the battle with the sahuagins. Who are turning into a recurring bad guy for the campaign. This was the second time sahuagin had attacked the party. And it won’t be the last.

During the battle Kaiban the dwarf wizard jumped up on the railing of the ship.

I checked which way Kaiban was facing. This was important. He was was looking out to sea, facing the sahuagin boat and its occupants.

I then had a nearby sahuagin run up and push Kaiban off the railing into the sea. It completely surprised the players.

This now put Kaiban in a sticky situation. The pressure was on. They had to get out of the water fast. Could any of the party help? After all they had their own problems, like attacking sahuagin.

This had all come about from a player deciding to jump on the ships railings. A spur of the moment thing. It certainly wasn’t planned. I reacted.

I felt this was a natural thing for the sahuagin to do. Instead of fighting the dwarf, the sahuagin had decided to let the dwarf drown if they couldn’t swim, or have the “pet” sahuagin sharks finish off the dwarf.

It made the combat seem more interesting. It made the sahuagin seem more real. To me it was in keeping with the spirit of the sahuagin.

An opportune push added so much drama to the encounter.

Ok see ya tomorrow.

#RPGaDAY2020 Day 20 – Investigate

New toys have arrived that may or may not distract me from this self imposed extremely late participation in the #RPGaDAY2020.

New toys that hark back to my youth, the early Eighties, and the home computer boom.

So before I get distracted and lost down memory lane trying to recapture better, simpler days long past. Here is today’s word of inspiration…


When you look around for clues and make deductions based on those clues, you make an Intelligence (Investigation) check. You might deduce the location of a hidden object, discern from the appearance of a wound what kind of weapon dealt it, or determine the weakest point in a tunnel that could cause it to collapse. Poring through ancient scrolls in search of a hidden fragment of knowledge might also call for an Intelligence (Investigation) check.” Players Handbook

What the designers of D&D are describing is basically what we witness Sherlock Holmes do at a crime scene. Use that as a great excuse to rewatch the BBC update with Benedict Cumberbatch on Netflix.

I see the investigation check going hand in hand with the perception check.


Your Wisdom (Perception) check lets you spot, hear, or otherwise detect the presence of something. It measures your general awareness of your surroundings and the keenness of your senses. For example, you might try to hear a conversation through a closed door, eavesdrop under an open window, or hear monsters moving stealthily in the forest. Or you might try to spot things that are obscured or easy to miss, whether they are orcs lying in ambush on a road, thugs hiding in the shadows of an alley, or candlelight under a closed secret door.” Players Handbook

This is the “oh look what I’ve found”.

You may have deduced with the investigation check that an object might be hidden on or behind a book case from clues in the room. But the perception check will allow you to find that hidden object on the book case.

Cyberpunk RPG Humble Bundle

Not quite Cyberpunk Red (the pdf has just been released, with the physical dropping very soon now). But Humble Bundle have teamed up with the publishers of the Cyberpunk RPG R. Talsorian to offer a shit load of Cyberpunk goodies for charity.

Highlights include the Cyberpunk 2020 rules, the Cyberpunk Red Jump Start Kit, plus a load of adventures and source books.

Even with the new updated rule book now available, these allow you to either try the system before getting the latest rules. Or they can still be used with the new rules and instantly give you a tonne of stuff to use in your games.

Remember these are digital versions (ie PDF’s).

You can get them HERE.

#RPGaDAY2020 Day 19 – Tower

Let’s jump straight in and see what we have to inspire us today, the 19th day of #RPGaDAY2020…

Today I thought I would create a name for a tower using the locations table 1-1A from the Tome of Adventure Design.

The Black (rolled a 9) Tower of the Deceitful (rolled a 27) Horde (rolled a 55).

I need a map for The Black Tower of the Deceitful Horde. Now I could create one from scratch that is entirely my own. However I don’t really have the time to do that, write this post, and play with my new Pi 400!

So a good source for ready to use maps is the Dyson Logos blog. When you see his maps you’ll recognise them immediately. He has a distinctive art style that is very popular. That has earnt him some commissions with WotC that have gone in official products.

On the maps page you will see thumbnails of over 800 maps that he’s created. Scroll down until you see one that speaks to you, or meets your needs.

I went with the Sunken Tower map. It seemed the sort of tower a Deceitful Horde would have. A tower where a lot of it was hidden. Bigger than expected when first seen.

So I have a location and map!

But if I continue with the steps that Kelsey of Arcane Library wrote about in an email newsletter I need an adventure hook. So like Kelsey I will roll against table 1-6: Location-Based Missions.

I rolled a 52. Which is an infiltrate and spy mission.

So why does the party need to infiltrate and spy on the Deceitful Horde?

Like Kelsey maybe rolling against table 3-6: Big-Picture Backstories I might get an idea. I rolled a 33 and got “Inhabitants changed beliefs” I also saw the following on the table “After a religious or philosophical dispute”. I like the idea of combining the two. The horde was not always deceitful. Until recently the horde were a garrison of paladins. But a dark evil secret sect within the paladins seized control. Corrupting all to their evil plans. Since the coup the tower has gone silent.

The party have been sent to investigate what is going on at the tower. Previous attempts to find out have either never been seen again, or their corpses found horribly mutilated. The suspicion is something has happened at the tower but the local towns need to know what has happened.

So there we have a simple adventure idea based around a tower. That’s better than talking about Rapunzel, Jorinda and Joringel or The Two Towers. See ya tomorrow.

#RPGaDAY2020 Day 18 – Meet

I got a
Baby’s brain and an old man’s heart
Took eighteen years to get this far
Don’t always know what I’m talkin’ about
Feels like I’m livin’ in the middle of doubt
‘Cause I’m
I get confused every day
I just don’t know what to say
…” Alice Cooper Eighteen

I hope you enjoyed that snippet from an Alice Cooper classic. Kinda sums me up on this blog. Obviously not the age part!

So here is our word of inspiration for this behind the times #RPGaDaY2020 post…

Meet my go to books for D&D that are not official WotC books.

These four books (which include my latest addition) are the books I turn to the most when planning my D&D sessions (when they run).

The Lazy DM books are a fantastic framework for planning a session without spending hours and hours doing so. Plus the workbook has some hand tables and maps that can be used during planning or more importantly on the fly during a session.

The Monsters Know What They’re Doing just complements the Monster Manual. Decide what creatures your party will encounter, then look them up in this tome. This will suggest tactics for you to use so that those creatures seem “realistic” and believable. The encounters won’t just be a fight to the death, or charging in. They will be much more intelligent than that.

This last book, also the newest addition, was a recommendation by Kelsey of The Arcane Library in one of her email newsletters. This book is full of useful tables to inspire your planning. Such as generating a location name, and a back story for the location.

What books are your go to none WotC D&D books?

#RPGaDAY Day 17 – Comfort

Here we go again.

Another day, another post.

The theme for the seventeenth day of this thing I’m doing is…

We all like our comfort, being comfortable.

But for us to grow, we need to step out of that comfort and challenge ourselves.

For me that was becoming a DM.

Being a DM can seem daunting. Especially if you watch streaming RPG sessions such as Critical Role. The likes of Matt Mercer present impossible standards to judge yourself against. After all they have been doing it for years. Not to mention some sort of acting background.

But it’s another Matt that gave me the confidence to try my hand at being a DM. The first two or three videos of the Matt Colville Running the Game series were inspiring (they all are really). Plus he gave us a simple short adventure that we could run, with guidance on running it.

That adventure the Delian Tomb was my first D&D adventure that I ran as a DM. It was also a taster session for those that wanted to try D&D at our gaming group.

I think it went ok. The players seemed to have a good time.

Plus they were all keen to start a D&D campaign when I asked who would like to play on a regular basis.

Now I’m a bit of an introvert. I’m definitely not one for doing voices, I might be a bit self conscious on that front. In the past my voice has been described as a bit monotone (my O Level English Literature teacher told me that back in the day).

But no two DMs are the same. We each have our own style.

As a new DM I’m still finding my style.

However I am enjoying being a DM. Something I would never have found out if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone.