Wish

Ken’s Gaming Bucket List – Campaigns

I turned forty this August. Despite it being a landmark of a sort, at my request it was a quiet day spent with immediate family and a couple of close friends and their kids. It was near perfect.

A birthday like this, of course, has led me to assess my life to date, to revel in the victories and throw another coat of spackle over the parts I’d rather put far behind me (in reality, I’m prone to constant self-critique, but for the purposes of this piece, let’s pretend that isn’t the case). While I’m certain that a reckoning of my neuroses and an itemized list of things I have yet to accomplish would be a riveting read, let’s get to the meat of this article: the RPG campaigns I want to run but have not yet had the chance. What has made this storied list? Well, for starter’s there is:

Eyes of the Stone Thief – Pelgrane Press (13th Age)

I’m not a big fan of megadungeons. A series of keyed encounters heavy on combat but light on role play just doesn’t do a lot for me. Eyes of the Stone Thief is a different beast though. The Stone Thief is a megadungeon, certainly. But it is also its own character, and if the GM does their job even reasonably well, their players will hate this vindictive and evil place.  The fact that Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan is one of the best adventure scribes in the business helps as well; if it will help make the GM’s task easier, he has likely included it. From adventure hooks, to icon relationships, to campaign structure, to dungeon configuration changes, to a chart that makes it easy to track when the titular living dungeon will/should dive back into the bowels of the earth, the tools are close to hand.

Chance of Playing: Good. Eyes of the Stone Thief will be conquered by my players one day. Or it will consume them. It is just a matter of time.

Zeitgeist: The Gears of Revolution – EN Publishing (Pathfinder RPG)

Zeitgeist is likely the most ambitious campaign produced for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game to date. In its twenty levels, the player characters will advance from being lowly constables attempting to prevent dockside riots to key players in their world, defeating nigh-godlike fey titans and, ultimately setting the course for the next age of the world. The world deserves some mention as well; despite the relative brevity of the Campaign Guide, Zeitgeist’s world, calling it a fey-steampunk marvel doesn’t do it justice, is compellingly well drawn. Zeitgeist is a campaign full of heavy themes, that will demand the best of the GM and players, but if it plays half as well as it reads, it will provide one seriously epic campaign.

Chance of Playing: Excellent. I will likely run this as a solo game; the intrigue and emphasis on role play over dungeon crawl will appeal to Kelly.

The Darkening of Mirkwood / Tales from Wilderland – Cubicle 7 (The One Ring)

When it comes to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien (other than The Hobbit), I prefer the films to the books. Yes, I am a godless philistine, I’ve come to terms with it. My current favourite fantasy RPG, The One Ring, however, hews much more closely to the literary source material than to the shield riding shenanigans seen on the big screen. While it may seem to be a bit of a cheat to list two adventures here, there is a good reason: The Darkening of Mirkwood is a sprawling campaign frame full of lightly sketched adventures that cover thirty years (!) from 2947 through 2977. Tales from Wilderland, on the other hand, offers a handful of discrete, excellently designed scenarios that a Loremaster (GM) can slot into the above campaign. There’s a lot to like in these books, but I think my favourite aspect is the expectation that the PCs be heroic. After playing RPGs with largely the same group of people for twenty years, I’ve seen every flavour of douchebag mercenary behavior (“I’m just playing in character, Dweazel the Hamstringer would totally burn down the orphanage just so the populace could see him rescue the orphans from the blaze. How else is he supposed to get a special ladyfriend…) it would be nice to have them actually be the good guys, just this once.

Chance of Play: Moderate. Though ToR is not a difficult system to learn and use, it isn’t D&D or a derivative thereof; getting my players to buy in will likely be difficult.

 

Eternal Lies – Pelgrane Press (Trail of Cthuhlu)

 Eternal Lies is a monster that spans generations as well as continents. While I don’t want to spoil too much of the story, it is a horror-mystery after all, it is safe to say that the sins of the fathers (and mothers) come home to roost, forcing subsequent generations to fix their forebears grave mistakes… or die trying. The nice thing about this campaign is not just that it’s a compelling story; this book is laid out in a way that makes it easy to use. Information is clearly called out. Keeper (GM) material is clearly delineated from player information. Designer notes and anecdotes are copious. The campaign is also open, so while there is definitely an overarching plot, the investigators are free to go where the clues take them without worrying that they’ll miss out on something important.

Chance of Play: Good. When the stars are right, I will run this. Depending on her leveI of interest, I can run it solo for Kelly if necessary; Pelgrane Press does have rules for one Keeper one player play after all…

 

The Dracula Dossier – Pelgrane Press (Night’s Black Agents)

Pelgrane Press hits my bucket list for a third time, as does designer Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan. There’s a reason for these trends: Pelgrane Press makes fantastic system-seller material for their games, and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan is a top-tier RPG designer. The Dracula Dossier is two books, The Director’s Handbook, which, as the name implies, contains all of the material an NBA director (GM) needs to run the campaign, and Dracula Unredacted, which is the “real” story as transcribed by Bram Stoker. The two books are extensively cross referenced and both serve to build not just an epic GUMSHOE campaign; they are simply the best RPG adventure I have ever read. I’ve read a lot of adventures over the last thirty-two years, and none of them matches, let alone exceeds this. Honestly, nothing else even comes within spitting distance. The best part isn’t the extensive research the authors obviously did. It isn’t the almost excessive work done to make such a sprawling sandbox easily playable for the director. It isn’t even that whoever gets to play in this campaign is in for something truly epic. The best part is that I could hand (or more likely send a PDF) a copy of Dracula Unredacted to my players and say, “Read this in whole or in part… and tell me where you want to start.” This campaign can be completely driven by the investigators, and the material is presented in a way that the director won’t have any real trouble in adapting to their moves. I’m not sure how Pelgrane Press, or any other company for that matter, will be able to top this.

Chance of Play: High. One way or another, I will run this campaign eventually.

 

So there it is…

While there are other campaigns I’d be happy to run, these five are the ones I’d be most excited to. I was hoping that Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition would have produced something to add to the list, but no luck so far. Not that there aren’t good campaigns for 5e, all of the ones Wizards of the Coast has produced so far have been good, some very good, but none of them are superb in my opinion. This is still better than 3.5 or 4th Edition which had one excellent adventure each (Red Hand of Doom and Madness at Gardmore Abbey respectively) and a bunch of dreck otherwise. Despite producing some of my favourite campaign settings, 2nd Edition AD&D has no memorable modules or campaigns I can think of off the top of my head…

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Which campaigns are on your bucket list? Let us know!

5 PFRPG Adventures Ripe For A Tangible Tavern

If you aren’t familiar with our Tangible Taverns line, this series of PDFs is dedicated to bringing life back to the local watering hole while making the GM’s job a little easier.

We help you bring the tavern to life with:

  • Detailed descriptions
  • Rumour and event tables
  • Tavern maps
  • Colourful and unique NPCs
  • Complete stat blocks (for Pathfinder and 5e compatible versions)

All of our taverns are designed to be slotted into just about any adventure, but this week we bring you a few specific Pathfinder RPG adventures that can easily host a Tangible Tavern or two.

Way of the Wicked Book Three: Tears of the Blessed 

tears of the blessed coverThis adventure, the third module of the Way of the Wicked adventure path by Fire Mountain Games, spends most of its page detailing the Vale of Valtaerna, but it begins travelling to the city of Ghastenhall. Some details are given about this city, the first one of a decent size the PCs have encountered since their escape from prison, but many are glossed over with the assumption being that the PCs get cracking on the Vale.   The city of Ghastenhall, which has a plethora of culture, is bound to be full of taverns, and just about any Tangible Tavern could be found in and around the city, but for us, it will always be home to The Bull & The Bear.  Yes, Tears of the Blessed was the beginning of our Tangible Taverns line.  During this long standing campaign the PCs set up shop in Ghastenhall and ended up purchasing a local tavern, which they used as their homebase, an excellent source of income, and a foothold to make inroads to eventual rulership.  Whether your PCs take it that far or not is up to them, but this tavern can easily be inserted in this adventure. In addition, with its obsession with the arts, Ghastenhall is the perfect location for a dinner theatre like Simon’s.  Give the PCs a break from their sinister plots with the antics of the colourful faces at this playhouse.

Pick up Tangible Taverns: The Bull & The Bear and Tangible Taverns: Simon’s Dinner Theatre today.

 


Kingmaker Book One: Stolen Land

king maker stolen land coverThe Kingmaker adventure path has PCs traipsing across vast swaths of untracked wilderness as they seek to build both their fortune and a kingdom. Stolen Land, the first book of the campaign, provides the PCs with a good home base in Oleg’s Trading Post, from which they can hexplore the virgin wilderness. But what happens if they don’t want to travel dozens of miles back to the Post after a run of bad luck? What happens if they get into a spot of trouble and just need a little R&R time to recover? Enter The Hidden Oak! This tavern, located in the bole of a massive tree in the heart of whatever forest you want to place it in, will give the PCs plenty of opportunity to unwind while interacting with the misfit forest denizens it houses, and gives them the chance to build relationships with powerful allies such as the tavern’s proprietor Beatrice, or with the mysterious sage Crescenzo. Plus, PCs can get a leg up on their next foray into the wood by eating some of the magically delicious food provided at the tavern!

Pick up Tangible Taverns: The Hidden Oak today.

 


Rise of the Runelords Book Two: The Skinsaw Murders

rise of the runelords coverThe PCs must make their way from the small town of Sandpoint to the coastal metropolis of Magnimar.  The route is doted with taverns and inns in such a manner that travellers can easily reach the next establishment after 8 hours of travel where they can rest up for the night and continue on the next morning.  Blackberry Bill’s is a small stone tavern that can easily be placed just about anywhere, but with his rugged nature and aptitude with a weapon, it stands to reason Bill, a former adventurer, can easily take care of any troubles that come his way, and make a few coins off his jam while doing it.  PCs are bound to enjoy the blackberry treats they can find in this eclectic tavern before continuing on with their travels.

Blackberry Bill’s is one of three taverns found in Tangible Taverns: Trio of Taverns.

 


Hell’s Rebels Book One: In Hell’s Bright Shadow

in hell's bright shadow coverHell’s Rebels is probably my favourite of Paizo’s recent adventure paths. In it, a group of PCs gets to build up the Resistance in the Chelish city of Kintargo, and possibly free it from the infernal clutches of the thrice damned House of Thrune! Who doesn’t dig poking their fingers into the eye of Golarion’s least lovable purveyors of devil worship? If you’re looking for a location to foment dissent against the system, look no further than The Delectable Dragonfly. This ladies (well, self identifying as female) only teahouse is a fantastic location to build an army, pick up and leave coded messages, or just get a nice cup of tea and finger sandwiches. The revolution starts today!

Pick up Tangible Taverns: The Delectable Dragonfly today.

 


Skull and Shackles Adventure Path

Skull_&_Shackles_logoWhen a big part of the premise of the adventure is for the PCs to explore the seas and ports of The Shackles, many taverns, inns, brothels, and other establishments are bound to be introduced.  Sometimes its easy to throw out a name and a brief description, but when the PCs will be sticking around a little longer, it’s a great time to drop in a Tangible Tavern.  If you are looking for a shifty tavern down near the docks, look no further than Tuffy’s Good Time Palace.  Worn out, tough, and laden down with a supply of pickled food and cheap beer, Tuffy makes the perfect host for fresh-of-the-boat pirates who haven’t seen the shore in days.  For those pirates who fancy themselves a cut-above-the-rest, let them head inland a bit and pay a visit to the Angelic Imp.  Well decorated and in demand with the well-to-do, this little tavern is the perfect place to drop a lot of coin on a good meal, and maybe conduct a discrete business deal.

A free sample version of The Angelic Imp is available, but for all the NPCs and a couple of stat blocks, look for Tangible Taverns: Trio of Taverns.  You can find Tangible Taverns: Tuffy’s Good Time Palace here.


If you like the idea of using Tangible Taverns, you can collect them all in the Tangible Taverns Bundle.

Dire Rugrat Publishing PFRPG bundle

Have you used a Tangible Tavern in one of your adventures? Share your story below!

How’d That Happen? (5 Ways to Use Plot Twist Cards)

Plot Twist Cards for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

Well over a year ago I posted a review of GameMastery Plot Twist Cards: Flashbacks on Paizo.  This product is described as a “vividly illustrated deck” that “opens up a new experience of shared storytelling, providing players with ways to suggest events during any adventure.”  The idea is players get one of these at campaign start and at every level, and they can give the card to the GM to suggest a possible way for the events to play out.

At the time I wrote the review we’d recently introduced those cards, as well as the first set, as a means of putting a little power in the hands of the players as a reward for keeping a campaign journal. Before each session the player could read their journal and, assuming it was half decent, gain a card to redeem at a later date.

Since then we’ve played around with them a bit more, and, well, it’s been a bit of time since we added them to our gaming tool kit, so it seemed fitting to talk about them again, specifically, some cool ways you can add them to your campaign.
Deja Vu cardEach of the cards features the card name that represents a theme, a spot with a mechanic associated with the theme, and then four potential story points.  (I should note the flashback set often had me pondering exactly how the association between the story point and the card name was made, and if you are only going to pick yourself up one of these decks, I strongly suggest it be the original one.)

  1. Reward System. When we started using these cards, the GM gave them out to players for their player journals.  Like the hero point system, players can retain up to three cards to use for something awesome, or just to make things work out a bit more in their favor.  The difference here is that the card has to fit. Your charming female rogue is trying to distract that city guard while her friends sneak ill-gotten goods out of town? That lust card might do the trick when your roll went poorly – or your GM planned on having him not be easily distracted. Ours have also been used to steer the campaign in a different direction, with the cards sometimes having far reaching impacts. (I once used a card to put a personal nemesis of my character in a tight spot. The card assisted me in having her kicked out of her flat, and ended up causing most people to look at her like contagious disease.  With her life falling apart, the once wily woman came to my PC, who was disguised, looking for help.  I gave her shelter, let her get really comfortable, and hired her to work in my tavern. Then I brutally stabbed her in the back as I revealed my true identity. Ah, evil campaigns…)
  2. Player Inspiration. If you don’t want your players to collect them, or don’t like the idea of the reward system, or you don’t like giving them that much plotting power, you can also hand them out and use them on a smaller scale. One card per player per night. They hand them back at the end of the night.  If the players are in a situation where the card fits, they can use the mechanics of the card to aid them: +20 on a Diplomacy roll; Target becomes confused for 3 rounds; An ability or effect lasts 1 round longer than normal, etc.
  3. GM Inspiration. How many times as a GM have you hit a session where things are just lagging? The PCs aren’t following the leads you laid out, you don’t want to have a random band of thugs jump out an attack them just to liven things up, and you need a little inspiration.  Grab a card.  You might have to stretch your imagination a bit, but I promise the name of the card and those little story points on the bottom should get you thinking, and inspire you (and hey, if that first card isn’t working, just grab a second one). Plus the pictures alone can get your mind plotting.
  4. Plot Point. It’s almost a game in a game.  Draw a card before the game session and see if you can tie it into that night’s adventures.  It’s up to the GM and the players to make this happen, and we’ve found it amusing how easily some of these just naturally fit into what is to come.  Some cards seem to be the theme of the night, even before we knew what would be drawn.
  5. Plot a Campaign.  Either deal a series of them and draw inspiration on plotting your homebrew campaign, or shuffle them up and lay them out like a tarot reading. Past, present, what’s to come – it’s all there, and it could just be magical. At the very least it gives you a great starting point, with all kinds of potential plot hooks.

While I haven’t seen it done, I’ve also heard of the cards being used for board games like HeroQuest and Castle Ravenloft, or being shuffled up with a Harrow Deck.

Have you ever tried out the Plot Twist cards? What’s your most memorable use of a card?

lights

Freebie Friday: Easy-Peasy Yule Lights

In 1895, U.S. President Grover Cleveland proudly sponsored the first electrically lit Christmas tree in the White House. It was a huge specimen, featuring more than a hundred multicolored lights. The first commercially produced Christmas tree lamps were manufactured in strings of multiples of eight sockets by the General Electric Co. of Harrison, New Jersey. Each socket took a miniature two-candela carbon-filament lamp.

From that point on, electrically illuminated Christmas trees, but only indoors, grew with mounting enthusiasm in the United States and elsewhere. San Diegoin 1904, Appleton, Wisconsin in 1909, and New York City in 1912 were the first recorded instances of the use of Christmas lights outside.

Over a period of time, strings of Christmas lights found their way into use in places other than Christmas trees. Soon, strings of lights adorned mantles and doorways inside homes, and ran along the rafters, roof lines, and porch railings of homes and businesses.

(Wikipedia)

Household Magic coverWhile we all love looking at the bright coloured lights once the job is done, I’m not sure anyone enjoys hanging them.  Inside you are tripping over decorations and fighting to get the string around the tree, outside it’s the ladders and the cold weather nipping at your fingers.  Either way there is the tangled strings, the burnt out bulbs, and the sheer frustration.  It got us daydreaming about possible answers, and with the recent release of Letters from the Flaming Crab: The Household Magic Catalog, the magical solution was right at our finger tips.

 

EASY PEASY YULE LIGHTS

Is the dreary dark weather of Yule time bringing you down? While warm fires and soft light brighten up the interior of your home, those dark evenings make the outdoors oppressive. Bring a little cheer to the outside of your abode with minimal effort. Our self stringing lights easily brighten up the exterior of any dwelling, and can be hung on a building, a tree, or a fence; the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Easy Peasy Yule Lights (Wondrous Item)

Aura faint transmutation; CL 3rd
Slot none; Price 1,500 gp; Weight 200 lbs.

DESCRIPTION

This 50 foot length of green silk rope is studded at 6 inch intervals with tiny silver bells. Upon command, the rope snakes forward, upward, downward, or in any other direction the user wishes, at 10 feet per round. The delicate silk rope can fasten itself securely to rough wood, nails, and other non-slick surfaces as its owner desires. It can unfasten itself and return in the same manner.

A length of easy-peasy yule lights can be commanded to light up for four hours. When lit, tiny globes of light form inside the bells and illuminate an area as a torch. The lights can appear as whatever colour or combination of colours the owner desires and can remain static or twinkle at varying speeds as desired.

The process of creating easy-peasy yule lights weakens the rope they are made of. If they are subjected to more than twenty pounds of weight the length of easy-peasy yule lights snaps and become non-functional.

CONSTRUCTION

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, animate rope, dancing lights; Cost 750 gp

If you are looking for other fun household items for a magical world, check out the latest release from Flaming Crab Games.

5 and 5 for Pathfinder RPG

So, not long ago I wrote about five things I love and five things I don’t love about D&D 5e. Overall I think it’s a great system, and certainly my favourite edition of that game since second edition AD&D. That said, it isn’t the only system I play or enjoy, so today I will do the same with the other 500 lb gorilla in the realm of fantasy RPGs: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (henceforth PFRPG) by Paizo Publishing.

I had no prior history with Dungon or Dragon magazines, so I discovered PFRPG mostly by chance during its open beta while looking to file off some of the irritating edges in the D&D 3.5 system. Seeing that the document had already addressed some of my issues, and being wooed by the spiffy Wayne Reynolds cover and artwork, I gave it a read and subsequently purchased a copy of the final release. At this point, I may have run more sessions of PFRPG than any other game… and I’ve been running games a long time. Now that my history with PFRPG has been , let’s get into the meat of this article with five great things about PFRPG:

  1. You already know how to play it. While I imagine there are indie RPG enthusiasts out there that have never played a derivative of D&D 3rd edition, every gamer I know personally has. Getting buy-in from players for a PFRPG campaign is easy in my experience, since there is already a familiarity with the basic system, even if some of the specific details are different.
  2. It is adaptable. PFRPG is a fantasy game per its default, but it is actually adaptable to other styles without too much heavy lifting; I have been running it as a modern day Supernaturalesque action horror game quite successfully for some time. We will get to see how adaptable it is in Paizo’s hands when they release the science fantasy Starfinder Roleplaying Game in summer 2017.
  3. It is well supported. Paizo releases several books each month to support their RPG, including their flagship Pathfinder Adventure Path. Every month sees the release of one sixth of a campaign, with supporting material, which is a godsend to busy PFRPG gamemasters. At this point, I think more books, if not more pages, have been released for PFRPG than for D&D 3.0 and D&D 3.5 combined. Additionally, there is official errata and FAQs on Paizo’s website to clarify and correct the rules.
  4. Third-party support. If Paizo’s first-party support isn’t enough, there is an active communityof third-part creators producing all manner of content to fill the gaps in the “official” ruleset. Whether it’s the quirky but complex classes released by Interjection Games, or Dreamscarred Press’ updates to the 3rd edition psionics, or Raging Swan Press’ awesome dressing, or the neat tweaks to the system coming from Rogue Genius Games, you can find nearly anything you could possibly want from a third-party vendor. If you will allow a shameless plug, our own Dire Rugrat Publishing offers nice (and not nice) taverns in multiple game systems to introduce to your campaign right over here.
  5. The Community. More than maintaining a customer base, Paizo has done a fantastic job building a thriving and involved community on their website. You can ask questions on the best way to build an uber-barbarian, find people to start your next campaign with, or discuss anything from politics to tv. Best of all, you might have access to the people that write and design your favourite products.guard on watch

So far so good, right? But what is the dark side of PFRPG? Let’s see…

  1. Rules, Rules, Rules. PFRPG may not be as rules heavy as, say, Rolemaster, but it has a lot of rules. And more rules elements are added with each new hardcover release. There are a lot of things for a player, let alone a gamemaster, to remember which can lead to a lot of slowdown. This also leads to…
  2. Combat is a slog. You would think that a game that has such a strong focus on combat would let you make it through several of them in a session. You would be wrong. I’ve clocked a fight between a party of four 1st level characters and 6 goblins at over ninety minutes of real time. It gets worse as you gain levels, to the point that, in my gaming group, once the PCs were at level 8 or above, we could have a combat or we could roleplay in a four hour session, but we certainly couldn’t do both.
  3. High level play. In addition to slow gameplay, high level PFRPG introduces the reality that the PCs become super powered to the point that they couldn’t be defeated by Superman and his team of super pets. Perhaps its my own deficiency as a game runner, but I find playing PFRPG beyond 8th level largely unsatisfying.
  4. Golarion. Plenty of people love Paizo’s campaign setting of Golarion. I don’t. It doesn’t make sense to me. Its focus on strongly thematic regions makes it seem more like an incoherent jumble than a logical, believable place. All of this would be fine if Golarion didn’t worm its way into the supposedly setting neutral system rules, but it does. All goblins are illiterate and fear written language… since it was decided to include that little bit from the Golarion specific Adventure Path line in the Bestiary. All undead are evil, since the creative overlords of Golarion  don’t like the idea of non-evil undead. I can ignore things like this, but I shouldn’t have to dangit!
  5. Player’s Expectations. This is something that I found originated with D&D 3.0, but carries through to PFRPG. The players expect you to play “fair.” This is to say, they expect CR appropriate encounters. They expect that the gamemaster will adhere to the suggested Wealth by Level. They expect that every encounter will yield to the use of their swanky combat tricks, spells, and feats. And they get cranky and accuse the GM of being unfair when they don’t. I have found, even while playing with the same people for nearly twenty years, that my players just aren’t as creative in their problem solving while playing PFRPG as they are while playing other games.

So there you are. If there are things that you love or loathe about PFRPG, sound off in the comments!

Rabbit in a field

Is That a Bunny? With an Axe? (5 Things To Do With “Murder Bunnies”)

Flaming Crab Games recently compiled a letter titled “Murder Bunnies.”  As soon as I heard of its impending release, I was intrigued.  I mean, how (and why) would such a soft, adorable creature be linked with murder?

One of the things I love about Letters From the Flaming Crab is their strange and unique take on things.  This company takes something overlooked, seemingly dull, or otherwise unexplored and turns it into something intriguing or thought provoking.

I loved the way Hygiene raised some great points about how nail care can affect a disguise, I had my taste buds tickled with magical food in Culinary Magic, and I appreciated the exploration of banks and lending institutions in Coins and Credit. 

When Murder Bunnies was released, FCG offered up a few copies on Paizo, with the hopes of a review or two.  As a 3PP writer, and publisher, I feel weird writing typical reviews.  I know how much work goes into a product, and what people want out of a product varies. This hesitancy with reviewing FCG products is amplified by the fact that I’ve written for them, but I received a review copy, all 3PPs appreciate feedback, and well, who doesn’t want to know more about this PDF?

So What About Murder Bunnies?

This is a bonus letter, which means it was not one of the initial letters scheduled for release in 2016.

The letters released this year have generally been longer than those compiled in 2015, and as such the price was increased slightly.  Murder Bunnies is back to the lower page count (clocking in at 9 pages), and priced accordingly at $2.99.
Rabbit with a swordThe focus of the letter was exploring the race of trius vrai, more commonly known as lepus hostili or “murder bunnies.”  It opens with a note from Aldus Emberidge, a sage and advisor unfortunate enough to have been held for a time by these strange rabbit folk.  I loved this.  It is the stuff of the letters.

The PDF went on to detail the physical descriptions, alignment, society, relations, adventures, and all of the typical things that need to be discussed when introducing a new race.  From there it features four different racial archetypes, new racial rules, including trius vrai equipment such as the abduction rope. There’s a collection of feats, some neat magical items specific to this savage and creepy race of rabbitfolk (lucky halfling foot anyone?), and then a few spells.

I loved the idea of this race.  I think it has a lot of (creepy) potential.  And the society and relations write-ups were a lot of fun to read.  And then…

(Honesty here) I’m not a big lover of reading mechanics.  I know: Pathfinder has a ton of rules, and they are meant to be followed, and you need the mechanics to make the game work.  I get it.  I get this is a letter about a race.  And I was prepared for that.

The archetypes use the kineticist, spiritualist, brawler and druid classes, and I appreciate the way these archetypes suit the race or trius vrai, and also use a variety of class types. The visual of the primal vessel archetype with its manifestation of the ancestral spirit of the trius vrai race is particularly cool, and a neat take on the class.

But the bottom line is that I love the fun twists FCG’s puts on their letters.  I love how easy it has been to incorporate the ideas from the letters into our game sessions.  A bit here, a bit there, heck a whole fair ready to go.

Murder Bunnies fell short. It’s “just” a race.  A cool race.  An interesting race.  A race with potential.  But it’s a race, not an easy to use/adapt/insert Letter From the Flaming Crab.

It did get me thinking about some cool things to do, but I guess the bottom line is I wanted some of these ideas or springboards included.  I wanted that little extra that made Letters from the Flaming Crab: Murder Bunnies easy to drop into an ongoing campaign.  That made it a Letter.
Cover of Murder Bunnies by Flaming Crab GamesAt the end of the day, I have to give Letters from the Flaming Crab: Murder Bunnies 3.5/5 stars.  I’m rounding it up to 4 stars, you know, for purposes of this platform, and because once you mull it over, there’s some cool potential.  If you are looking for a new race to test out, this is a fun little PDF full of flavor and potential (and some creepy art). If you are looking for a fun and funky letter you can easily drop into your campaign, this PDF is lacking a little something. (Never fear though, folks.  After mulling it over for a bit, I have come up with a few quick, and not so quick, ways you can drop Letters From the Flaming Crab: Murder Bunnies into your campaign.)

So, on that note, we bring you…

Five Things To Do With This Product:

  1. Your players, out venturing in unknown territory, accidentally stumble into an area inhabited by trius vrai.  Grab their character sheets, hand them some premade “murder bunny” character sheets. Describe the humanoids venturing into their territory, emphasizing the way their rabid bunny blood boils and their muscles scream at the chance to bury their sharp weapons into the flesh of these trespassers, or you know, that kind of thing.  Let the dice fall as they may. This gives your players a chance to try out this seldom seen race of rabbit folk, makes them see what it feels like when the shoe is on the other foot, and gives you a chance to peruse their character sheets.
  2. If you don’t like switching character sheets, why not set a game night or two in a village of trius vrai? Have your players make PCs with this unsociable race, send them out on guard duty and have a group of adventurers find them, and their bunny clan.
  3. A local farmer has been having trouble.  He recently built a new pen for his livestock, moving them out into a field previously used to grow crops that kept disappearing.  The animals were all brutally murdered, and now his young daughter insists she saw giant rabbits do it.  He asks the PCs to investigate.
  4. The PCs, venturing through the woods, happen on a young, injured trius vrai. The wounded bunny creature is unlike anything they have seen before. If they offer assistance, he seems to trust them enough to accept, and in thanks, he leads them back to his home. The group is welcomed well enough, but quickly the friendly farce falls away and suddenly the group is trapped inside the village of a savage rabbit folk. The trius vrai could attack openly, wait until the party is asleep, or give the PCs a chance at a game: outrun us and live.  Was the injured trius vrai aware of what his people would do?
  5. And if you want something more simple, throw a fun, and Person dressed as a rabitdifferent, NPC their way. He (or she) could be hiding out in the woods as a refugee or a survivor, or could be wandering the town, or there on a mission.

For the full story on these not-so-cuddly creatures, you should head on over to OBS or Paizo and grab yourself a copy.

More Dinosaurs Please

What kid doesn’t love dinosaurs? There is something about them that just seems magical, special.  Maybe it’s because while there is evidence they existed, it isn’t like any one of us is ever going to get to see a real live one.

Which could be one of the reasons they show up in Pathfinder (and other RPGs).  If you live in a world with dragons, ogres, and gelatinous cubes, it stands to reason dinosaurs are just as likely to be walking around.

If you loved them as a kid (or adult), and I mean really loved them, you probably know exactly how many claws a T-Rex has, what the difference between a brachiosaurus and an apatosaurus is, and why a pterodactyl is super awesome, but isn’t a dinosaur.  If you just think dinosaurs rock, and want to call the long-necked ones a brontosaurs, that’s cool too (I did until I had Rugrat #1 – he will take any chance he can to correct me and my dinosaurs knowledge).

In either event, maybe you want to see a little more dinosaur action in your game.  Heck, maybe you want a whole dinosaur world!

Forget the dragons!
Ditch those gelatinous cubes!
And ogre – take your stinky self somewhere else.

It’s time for a foray into the prehistoric world!

There are lots of cool ways to do this: the party ends up on an island (think Jurassic Park); the party steps through a portal into a prehistoric world; the whole campaign is set in a world where dinosaurs are more common.  Whatever set-up you chose, what you need is more dinosaurs.

I have combed through the Bestiaries.  There’s a bunch of dinosaurs, and a bunch of other prehistoric beasts, but there’s definitely room for more if you want a whole campaign set with these radical reptiles.

Or there was.

Flaming Crab Games put out a fun Letter back in September.

Letters from the Flaming Crab: Dinosaur Companions details 25 new prehistoric creatures (mostly dinosaurs), and includes a bunch of them as animal companions, mounts, and/or familiars.  But more than just a bunch of stat blocks, this product also includes encounters. What do you players do when they find an injured dinosaur? Or when they have to pass through a nesting ground?

Yes, I worked on this project. Rugrat #1 is obsessed with dinosaurs and I could not pass up the opportunity.  He’s on the verge of gaming, and we are trying to draw him. A way to add something he loves to something I think he’ll love was a no-brainer. I actually had him brainstorm some of the dinosaurs he’d like to see, and we talked about what sorts of things the dinosaurs might be doing.  It was awesome to see him use his imagination.
Never fear though, at the end of the day, Letters from the Flaming Crab: Dinosaur Companions was written by a great team of writers (who aren’t 6 – that I know of), and overseen by J Gray, a talented developer.

If you love dinosaurs, or you have someone in your life who does, this is a great PDF to pick up.

Grab it today and make your game a little more prehistoric.

And because I don’t want you to think this is just a plug for an awesome product, here’s an encounter (not found in the book). The troodon can be found on the SRD, while the maiasaura is in Letters from the Flaming Crab: Dinosaur Companions.


Encounter: Egg Thief

The PCs emerge from a dense jungle and find themselves at the edge of a large clearing filled with nests of maiasaura eggs. A dozen huge reptiles are spaced throughout the breeding grounds, paying close attention to their unborn children, and don’t seem to have noticed the PCs.  On the outskirts of the breeding grounds, fifty feet away from the PCs, a troodon can be seen eyeing an unattended nest.

Two rounds after the PCs arrival, a second troodon is seen across the clearing; it makes a move toward a nearby nest, and several maiasaura immediately take notice.  With a lot of noise, the soon-to-be-mothers charge toward the invading egg thief.  The nearby troodon makes its move, scurrying toward the closest nest. 

If the PCs don’t retreat, the maiasaura quickly notice the troodon near them fleeing with an egg, and attack all apparent invaders.