Browsing Archive: November, 2018

Building Monsters from Both Directions

Posted by Ron Lundeen on Thursday, November 29, 2018, In : RPGWriterTips 

I’ve been designing a lot of monsters in the past year, and I’ve noticed that I tend to do so from one of two directions regarding the art: either my text comes before ordering the art, or my text comes after the art exists. Both directions warrant some careful consideration to make sure the creature’s powers align with its image. A GM often shows a picture of the monster to the players (“you see…THIS awful thing!”), but the players also get a sense of the monster ...


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Monsters Should Know Their Neighbors

Posted by Ron Lundeen on Tuesday, November 27, 2018, In : RPGWriterTips 

A classic, old-school dungeon is a series of connected rooms, each containing traps or monsters. This is fun, but modern RPG players expect more verisimilitude from dungeon inhabitants. If there’s an ogre in one room and a roper in the next, a lot of questions naturally arise: do they know about each other? Do they get along? Will one come running if the other cries out for help when outmatched by intrepid adventurers?

In any dungeon you design (and I use the term “dungeo...


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I Found a Secret Monster!

Posted by Ron Lundeen on Monday, November 26, 2018, In : Paizo 
Here's a short update about a neat thing I just discovered. The Pathfinder RPG Bestiary has several monsters with variants listed. The stone giant, for example, has stone giant elders that are a bit more powerful and lead their people. Wights have brute wights (ones made from giants), cairn wights (powerful wights that guard crypts), and so on. These variants are called out with their own headers or boldface entries. They're also listed in a table at the back of the Bestiary for ease of refer...
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Rule of Three Clues

Posted by Ron Lundeen on Wednesday, November 21, 2018, In : RPGWriterTips 
There's a very good piece of adventure design advice that goes like this: you must leave at least 3 clues for something you want the PCs to do. As they could miss one, or even two, of these clues, you need to have enough there to point the PCs in the right direction. I wanted to talk about why this rule works, and give some advice about putting it in action.

As an initial matter, this rule isn't about getting the PCs from one room of a dungeon to the next room of a dungeon. They'll just walk t...
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Spells to Cause Fights

Posted by Ron Lundeen on Tuesday, November 20, 2018, In : RPGWriterTips 
I was kicking around some ideas for new Starfinder spells with my friend Conor last night. We were reworking many of them to either dial up the space-fantasy theme or to work around the rough edges of some rules. He'd suggested one spell that would deal damage in an area based on the number of electronics in that area--you'd just count the squares in the area with electronics, and more electronics-filled squares meant more damage dealt by the spell. I spotted a problem with this: there's an i...
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Tying Forward and Back

Posted by Ron Lundeen on Wednesday, November 14, 2018, In : RPGWriterTips 
I've got the great privilege to be developing the Tyrant's Grasp Adventure Path here at Paizo. Although I know quite well where the entire 6-part arc is going, I'm currently just over halfway through the development. I've done enough now to categorize in my mind the connections I'm working hard to make across all the adventures. They make good points for any adventure author to keep in mind, whether writing a simple 5-room dungeon or an entire campaign. I call them seeds, callbacks, and theme...
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Never the Ideal Party

Posted by Ron Lundeen on Tuesday, November 13, 2018, In : RPGWriterTips 
Many adventure authors assume that players are going to have the key bases covered: a tank-y fighter type, a nimble rogue type with a lot of skills, a healer, and a blasting spellcaster. These follow from the core classes of fighter, rogue, cleric, and wizard, but there are many combinations that make up a balanced group like this (and some classes, like an oracle, can do nearly any of them depending on specializations). 

This leads into a few suppositions that adventure authors make: that PCs...
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Be the Beasts!

Posted by Ron Lundeen on Friday, November 9, 2018, In : Hints and Teasers 
"Hey, is it true that in the upcoming adventure A Bad Day for Trolls, everyone plays trolls?"

"Indeed! You're all monsters! Grawr!"

"Can I see one?"

"Sure! Here's Maggrak Bigmaw!"
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What Failure Feels Like

Posted by Ron Lundeen on Thursday, November 8, 2018, In : RPGWriterTips 

I mentioned in my previous blog that I’m part of a group playing through Doomsday Dawn, the 7-part playtest adventure to test very specific parts of the proposed 2nd Edition Pathfinder rules. We went into this knowing that the playtest adventure isn’t like other adventures—although we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the plots thread running through it. One thing we’ve noticed about the game, though, is that it feels pretty punitive overall. That's particularly obviou...


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Through the Grinder

Posted by Ron Lundeen on Wednesday, November 7, 2018, In : RPGWriterTips 

Even though I work here at Paizo and have close access to the designers, playtest materials, and the first of the Pathfinder 2nd edition material, there’s no substitute for actual table play. I have a group that’s been going through the Doomsday Dawn playtest adventure, in all 7 of its parts. Like many people playing this adventure, our group is behind the formal “one part per two weeks” schedule. We rotate through GMs and play every other week, but life happens to get...


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What PCs Love to Kill

Posted by Ron Lundeen on Friday, November 2, 2018, In : RPGWriterTips 

No adventure author or GM can really predict what their players are going to truly love and remember about any particular session or campaign (in my experience, it’s often to be a groan-worthy joke as anything else*), but you can get a sense of what monsters they’ll remember fighting. If you plan out encounters with these monsters carefully, you can craft encounters they’ll remember long after the campaign is done.

Players’ stories about satisfying, memorable victorie...


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About Me


I'm Ron Lundeen, developer for Paizo, Inc., active gamer, and RPG freelancer. I've recently had products in print for Paizo, Wizards of the Coast, Raging Swan, Open Design, Headless Hydra Games, and Rite Publishing. I'm still taking freelance writing assignments, but also focusing on writing for Run Amok Games.


 

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