Holidays in Gaming

Are you using holidays in your game? If you were like me when starting out as a game master, no you’re not. Yet holidays mark various places on the calendar, help recognize important persons and groups in your setting’s history, and much more. They give your game life where it otherwise feels flat, like there’s nothing going on in the world besides what the players are doing.

In the United States there are 10 major holidays and a near infinite number of lesser holidays. To break them down the major ones into more generic terms that are easier to use in your game, they are (in calendar year order):

  1. Start of the calendar year
  2. Recognizing the birth of a civil rights leader
  3. Celebrating nation’s leaders
  4. Remembering soldiers that fell on the battlefield
  5. Marking the birth of our nation
  6. Recognizing the common laborer
  7. Remembering someone that discovered this continent
  8. Remembering living soldiers
  9. Harvest
  10. Holiday for the nation’s largest religion

So how can you use these in your game? Some of these are quite obvious and able to be used without exactly as is: harvest, remembering living and fallen soldiers, start of the calendar year, etc.

How about celebrating a civil rights leader? Well considering that the most discriminated against races (uh, ancestries) of the game are half-orcs or tieflings, how about a day where their contributions to the nation’s society are recognized. Or turn it on its head. Make it human-rights day because the elven rulers are keeping the humans from having a voice in their government. Is the day marked with celebrations or protests? Are the town’s guards brought out to prevent pick pocketing or riots?

The way you name a holiday says quite a bit about the leaders. If you call Labor Day Peasants Day that shows the rulers as looking down upon their subjects. Peasants Day would have a much different feel than Labor Day.

If you want to make you location anything but generic, come up with some quirky holidays. Something like Groundhog’s Day, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Teacher’s Day, or Secretary’s Day. Try using something like National Health Day, a day where everyone goes down to the river and washes all the filth and grime off their bodies, which is perfect after a long winter of being inside. Or how about Hug a Gnome Day, the one day a year where gnomes are willing to sell in human markets, and the mayor wants them to come back more often so they are trying to spread good feelings among he gnomes. For the brutish types, how about Woodcutter’s Day. This day before the start of winter, all manner of trees that are unfit for being made into buildings or furniture are cut into firewood and sold to the people to help them last the winter. Naturally there would be lots of beer and other pleasures sold at such events, which can be a good cause for the reasons for the players to come together in the first place.

An important thing to remember is that while we all take the weekend (or some regular set of days off, no matter where in the week it resides) for granted today, the Five-Day Work week did not begin as a concept in the US until 1908. Europe was no better. For proof, Dame Maggie Smith in her role as the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey once asked “What is a week end?” Before that, the only days off for the average person were on holidays. This is why the holidays we now consider minor were not so minor a hundred to a thousand years ago. Not overworking your people is important so holidays were frequent.

With Halloween coming soon, why not download the Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider adventure for Fifth Edition at the JBE Shop. You can also find it for Pathfinder right here.

Traveller RPG: Name This Ship

Hello Traveller Friends I has been some time since we have shared something for our favorite science fiction game. Today we are happy to share with you a little something we’ve been working on. Naturally, it is ships because we love having more ships in Traveller. If I am having a stressful day, designing a ship is always an enjoyable break. With this, we’re trying something new. We’re going to let you name this class of ship. We asked for names over on our Facebook page. The winner will get this the publication this ship first appears in for free. So if you want to submit a name for a future ship, be sure to follow us on Facebook and set the Following level to “See First” so you never miss one of our posts. I would like to thank everyone that submitted off a name. We loved them all, even less-than-serious suggestions of “Jeff” and “Shippie McShipface.” Special shout out to Jeff Zimmerman for pointing out an oversight in the original design (that is fixed above). Click here to see the full size image. There is little I can tell you about this ship that is not already in the image. She is built and used in the Foreven Sector, where all our Traveller supplements take place in. This class of ship is primarily a cargo carrier but expects to see quite a bit of combat; being away from the relative safety of the Imperium means no one is there to swat down pirates. Pirates will think twice when they see the level of armament you bring to bear. Vote in the poll, share it with your friends, and download our supplements for Mongoose Traveller both 1e and 2e today.

Christmas in July 2018

Its that time of year again everyone.

*Time to brush up on our juggling?*

What?!? No. Well, not only that, but it is time for the Christmas in July Sale. Sure we said last year and the year before and the year before that that it is better than ever. Just like it was true then, it is even more true now. Why? Because we have more on sale than we did last year.

*Isn’t that just because you have more stuff than you did a year ago?*

Yes, thank you very much unhelpful voice in my head, that is true. We are talking over 200 PDFs that are 25% off.

*Wow! 25% off. That’s like … 75% of the regular price.*

Once again unhelpful voice, you are correct. And you can find these deals at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow and the Open Gaming Store. Let’s take a look at some of these awesome deals you can snag right now.

Pathfinder

Book of Beasts: Legendary Foes (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)
Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)
Book of Heroic Races Compendium (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)
Book of the River Nations (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)
Deadly Delves: The Gilded Gauntlet (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)
Deadly Delves: To Claw the Surface (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)
Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player’s Companion (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)

Traveller

Creatures of Distant Worlds Compendium (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)
d66 Compendium (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)
Mech Tech ‘n’ bot: Mech Squadrons (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)

Fifth Edition

Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Forbidden Woods (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)
Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)
Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)

13th Age

Book of Heroic Races: Age of Races 1 (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)
Book of Heroic Races: Age of Races 2 (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)
Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin (DriveThruRPG/Open Gaming Store)

See all of our PDFs on sale at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow and the Open Gaming Store and download now before this sale ends.

Traveller RPG: Spiders

It has been a very long time since we posted anything Traveller related on our website, let alone published anything. Short of the long, we are working on it. With Pathfinder ending it required us to throw out our whole schedule and quickly adjust. Fortunately we are almost done with our last 1e Pathfinder project and then we can go back to Traveller. And to show how much I love this game, I am sharing with you today a nice little spider.

Did I say nice? And little? Yea, this thing needs killed with fire. Nuke it from orbit; it is the only way to be sure.

Spiders

Description

Ranging from the tiniest of creatures to those as large as humans, spiders come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. Several have distinctive spots or designs on their bodies. They possess eight legs, a poisonous bite and compound eyes on their head. Many spiders create webs to capture and hold their prey in place while they scurry close to feed.

Combat Tactics

All spiders are aggressive predators that use their poisonous bites to subdue or kill prey. They prefer to surprise their prey and repeatedly bite until either they have eaten enough, are driven off or have made their target helpless.
Spiders come in two general types: hunters and webspinners. Hunters rove about, while web-spinners usually attempt to trap their prey in their web. Hunting spiders can spin webs to use as lairs, but cannot use their webs as weapons the way web-spinners can.

Ecology and Habitat

Universally, spiders prefer dark places with little wind or sound vibrations. Apart from that they differ greatly between individual species. Some prefer dank caves, others prefer corners in homes, while other still prefer grasslands. Wherever there is life, there are spiders. Even though spiders are more common and larger in warmer climates, they still populate colder environments.

Animal Hits Speed
Stalking Spider 12 12 m
Skills Melee (bite) 1, Recon 2, Stealth 1, Survival 2
Attacks Bite (2D + Poison)
Traits Armour (+1), Poison (12+/2D/1 minute for 6 minutes), Small (–1), Spider Climb
Behaviour Carnivore, Killer

You’ll note that this one has a new trait on it: spider climb. Here’s what it does:

Spider Climb: The animal can walk at its full speed on any surface that is not designed to be slick and perfectly smooth.

Download all of our Traveller books at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow.

Foreven Worlds: Dispatch Science Shuttle

The Dispatch Science Shuttle is a mobile laboratory. Its small size lets it be taken inside any larger, jump capable ship and transported anywhere in a quick time frame. Add it that its military sensors and onboard science lab and it is the laborary you need in the field. Top that off with the fuel process, fuel scoops and an oversized fuel tank and this ship can act as an emergency generator and refuel tender, increasing its functionality.

The Dispatch Science Shuttle was originally designed for governments to have a rapid response lab ship for disasters. When the Rowan manufacturing company started getting order for them from corporations looking for a planetary test vehicle, they knew they had a hit on their hands.

This ship appears in the upcoming third installment of the Foreven Worlds: Prelude to War Adventure Path, due out this Summer. Order your copies of the first two installments of this series of adventures today at DriveThruRPG with the Rose of Death and State of Chaos.

Dispatch Science Shuttle

TL 10     Tons Cost
Hull Standard Hull Points 22 56 Cr. 2,800,000
Armor Crystaliron Armour 6 4.5 Cr. 1,440,000
M-Drive Thrust 3 2 Cr. 4,000,000
Power Plant Fusion-8 (Efficient) Power 33 3 Cr. 1,650,000
Fuel Tanks 280 Weeks Operation 21
Bridge 6 Cr. 300,000
Computer Computer/10 Cr. 160,000
Sensors Military DM+0 2 Cr. 4,100,000
Fuel Processor 20 tons/day 1 Cr. 50,000
Fuel Scoops Cr. 1,000,000
Aerofins 5 Cr. 500,000
Laboratory 4 Scientists 16 Cr. 2,000,000
Cargo 1.5
Maintenance Costs Cr. 1,500
Purchase Costs Cr. 18,000,000

GM’s Day Sale 2018

It’s that time of year again and the GM’s Day Sale is in full swing. Just about everything from Jon Brazer Enterprises is on sale at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, Paizo, and the Open Gaming Store. There you will find just about everything in the JBE catalog for Traveller, Pathfinder, Fifth Edition, 13th Age, and Swords and Wizardry at 30% off or more.

Additionally, we will be doing a number of 1-Day Sales at JBE Shop. Today we are offering the Pathfinder adventure Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin for only $2 when you use the GMsDayReignOfRuin coupon code. Download this adventure today and check back this adventure over the next week for more.

Dreamation: A Gender-Inclusive Convention

If you want to know how to make your gaming conversation gender inclusive, to make it a welcoming place for all gamers no matter what their background, look no further than Dreamation. This convention, as well as DexCon, both if which are run by Dexposure, is a local con for me, located in North-Central New Jersey. It hosts board games, miniature war games, LARPs, and of course role playing games. It was this past weekend and I enjoyed myself immensely at it.

This conversation has a sizable indy game presence where you can find yourself in a game of Monster Hearts as well as Dungeons and Dragons. I spotted games of Dungeon World and Misspent Youth. I ran a game of Traveller set in the Foreven Worlds. Naturally Adventurers League, Pathfinder Society, and Starfinder Society were present as well as Living Arcanis, Greyhawk Reborn, and Shadowrun Missions. I can now finally say I played in Pathfinder Society. Despite having a low 4 digit society number, I never sat down for a game. My first character is now level 2. First, however, I had to play a pair of Greyhawk Reborn games. If you like D&D5e rules but miss the Greyhawk setting, but sure to check out Reborn. You will be glad you did.

Munchkin Panic

While I spent much of my time in the role playing area, I did slip out and got in a game of Munchkin Panic. This game is similar to Castle Panic, but with some elements of Munchkin thrown in. The shear number of games that were offered we’re amazing and well worth spending an entire weekend in those areas.

I never got to the war gaming and LARPing area and I always wish I did. Perhaps next year. Seeing people in costume or with their minis sets is always a joy.

So what about this conversation makes it inclusive? I will just let two pictures speak for themselves:

By having ribbons to stick to name badges that let everyone know how they should be identified, it makes it more comfortable for everyone. No one has to tell another how they should be identified; everyone can just read for themselves. On top of that, the signs in the second picture we’re covering the normal restroom signage, meaning there weren’t any strictly male or female restrooms. I did hear some ask others that the seat be lowered when they leave so maybe that can be added to future signs. Even still, there are plenty of other ways Dreamation supports an inclusive culture in tabletop gaming, and if every other convention followed their example in these two areas, it would go a long way to helping gaming to being a welcoming place for all.

When I talked about PAX Unplugged last year, I mentioned that they needed a much better way to pre-register people for games. While Dreamation’s system is light years ahead if them, they could be better. I would prefer it if they migrated completely to Warhorn or Tabletop.Events instead of only being done by Adventurers League, Pathfinder Society, and Greyhawk Reborn, but writing names down on paper still got the job done. Dreamation had a massive quantity more games, letting everyone get in a game in every time slot they choose to. Plus, Dreamation’s sign up sheets were always up and spread out over a sizable area, letting multiple people sign up for games at the same time, day or night. So if my biggest complaint about the convention is that its game registration system is not as modern as I would like it to be, I’d call that a serious win for this conversation.

Be sure to check out Dreamation and the other conventions such as DEXCon at Dexposure.com.

Traveller: Using Monsters

I want to take a break from our usual Monster Wednesday for a moment and discuss the reasons to use monsters in Traveller. In games of fantasy like D&D and Pathfinder, using monsters is fairly obvious. In cases like lions and owlbears, it is a case of survival, a man vs nature story. For orcs and goblins, they are a stand in for uncivilized humans in a non-magical world. When it comes to zombies, dragons, and devils, they represent an aspect of humanity and our fears rather than an individual human. But what about science fiction in general and Traveller in specific. How should you use them? In my opinion, Star Wars is the best place to look for how to use sci-fi monsters well.

1) Essential Part of Native Life

While the sand people would be NPC aliens, the elephants covered in rugs that they rode we’re an essential part of their life. Remember that just because you have high tech people living on a planet doesn’t mean the natives are integrated and can use the technology. Some will still use animals as a significant part of their daily life, whether for transportation, protection, or a food source. No one says that that animal has to be docile.

Suggestion: When dealing with primative life, give them some kind of animal to make their life easier.

2) Dangerous Fauna

“Nuke them from orbit; it’s the only way to be sure.” When you are colonizing a whole planet, you’ll want to eliminate the local dangerous fauna. However, if you are not a sizable government with sizable resources, you’re not going to do the job well. Take the Rebellion for example. They only had enough resources to establish a small base on Hoth. They couldn’t waste resources to eliminate all the snow creatures like the kind that got Luke. In fact, if you watch the outtakes, you’d see that one even made its way into the rebel base. Random encounter, right there.

Suggestion: Have some kind of monster spring up as random violence when you are not in a hub of civilization.

3) Cheap Short Range Vehicles

If you’ve looked in the Vehicle Handbook, you’d know that high tech vehicles are expensive. So if you are not going far, ride something there. They come so much less, especially if you are just taking them from the wild instead of buying them. Just because riding an animal is low tech doesn’t mean that the saddle has to be from another century. Not to mention, if you are in an extreme environment, like Hoth, they will probably be better adapted to the climate than your vehicles. Additionally, different cultures use animals in different ways. Some might ceremonial roles or as symbols of their people. As a final bonus, they are meat and warmth if you are stuck in a bad situation, even if you thought they smelled bad on the outside.

Suggestion: To emphasize different cultural or economic conditions, have a high tech popilation ride animals.

4) Pets

Having a pet adds flavor to a character. Dr Evil and his hairless cat. Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Jabba and the rancor. What does it say about Jabba that he kept a rancor? That he liked watching people being eaten right in front of him. That he wants to be feared. That he likes associating himself with powerful creatures. That he is over compensating. Probably all of the above.

Suggestion: Give a dangerous person a dangerous pet.

5) Entertainment

The Last Jedi had animal racing that the wealthy were betting on. Animal racing is a common use and can be used in your game. Animals fighting each other can also be used. Imagine how much damage the fighting animals can cause if they escape.

Suggestion: Add some flavor to a location by using animals as entertainment.

Get yourself a whole some quality monsters for your Traveller game today with the Creatures of Distant Worlds. Download this book and anything else at the JBE Shop using the “holiday2017” coupon code to get 30% off today. You can also download it at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow and the Open Gaming Store.

Any Traveller NPC On The Fly

When I am prepping a Traveller game to run at home or a convention, I will always take the time to stat up an NPC and come up with a full backstory. This way, I always have consistent skills, the right number of dice for weapons damage and the exact equipment the character should have. This should be part of any good GM’s prep before running a game. Yet when the players catch me off guard and I have to have a Traveller character on the fly, I don’t bother looking in any books. I just remember these simple rules:

1) Pick a Theme

This may seem obvious, but it must be stated upfront: have a theme for the NPC. If I don’t, I quickly have NPCs that are good at everything. To combat this, I pick a theme and I stick to that theme for the character. It can be as simple as “doctor” or as complex as “down on their luck stock trader who took up painting.” Either way, their theme is pretty simple as it only needs to get me through the game session so I can stat them out fully (should the NPC survive that long). That theme dictates what skills, characteristics, and other bonuses the person should and should not have.

2) Bonus Tree from Competent to Incompetent

In much the same way that the difficulty goes up or down depending on how difficult any particular challenge is, I keep a ladder in my head of what bonus to add to any roll. Here’s what I use:

Bonus When To Use How Many Skills
+4 Exceptional Max 1
+2 Professional 1-3
+1 Above Average 2-4
+0 Average 3-6
–1 Below Average 4-8
–3 Never Exposed Before All the Rest

Take the Doctor for a second. For an exceptional brain surgeon, I’d give them a +4 Medic, but for your average family doctor, their Medic would be +2. Related skills like Science (biology) and Admin would be +2. If the subject of art came up like if the doctor was talking to the stock trader, I could assume the doctor took an art history class in college for fun so is not a complete noob at it and would get a –1.

The down on their luck stock trader, well that person is down on their luck because they are not all that skilled at it to begin with. So I would give them a +1 in Broker, Carouse, and Gambler, +0 in Admin, Art, Persuade, and Streetwise.

Even then, I wouldn’t write these numbers down. This is just what I’d assume based based on the theme. If, by the end of the session, it looked like the NPC would return, I would write down those stats after the game while it was still fresh in my mind so I had it for next time.

3) Weapons and Armor

While I can fudge weapons and armor in a pinch, I pretty much keep these stats on a sheet close by.

User Armor Bonus Weapon Damage
Military +15 5D+3 Zero-G or 4D, AP 5, Auto 3
Police +10 3D Stun, Zero G or 3D, AP 3, Auto 2
Survivalist +8 3D, Auto 3
Paranoid +3 3D-3 or 2D Melee, Stun
Stealth +1 2D Body
Unprepared/Civilian +0 1D unarmed

Like I said, I keep this with me. Even if I remember what the police officer’s weapons and armor is, that doesn’t mean that the players will strip them of it after knocking the person out and then they are left with being an unprepared/civilian entry. This little preparation makes running a game quick and easy for when (not if) the players run the game off the rails.

If you really want to be prepared for any name you could possibly need, get yourself the d66 Compendium and its sequel, the D66 Compendium 2. Both are available at in Print and PDF at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow. Order your copy today.

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