Skyrim, Witcher, and Tabletop RPGs

It’s 2 in the morning and I just brought peace to Skyrim by killing Ulfric Stormcloak, again. I haven’t played it much lately. For the past several months I’ve played Witcher 3 in my off hours. Both are first person computer RPGs but they are two sides of the same coin. The similarities and differences between them are long, varied, and discussed in much more detail elsewhere. For this blog post, I just want to focus on how you can use their styles in your tabletop RPGs.

It’s funny, I know. Tabletop RPGs spawned computer games, so what is there for tabletop RPGs to learn from their computer brethren? Plenty. Computer games sell much better than tabletop so it is easier for word to spread about which games are better than others. If you asked 100 tabletop gamers to name the best campaign published in the last 30 years by any RPG company other than Wizards of the Coast, Paizo Publishing, or TSR, you’ll be at a loss for a consensus. Hell, you’ll be lucky to have 100 answers. Even if you include the major companies, finding a clear winning campaign is going to be difficult. Reason being: it takes 1-2 years to go from levels 1-20 and most groups don’t last that long. But people play the same computer game year after year. So what can we learn from computer games?

1) Get It Online

With COVID-19 raging and people playing via Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, and other VTT platforms, people are playing more online. So making it easier for them to game together is something we can all take from this. I expect this change in the way we game to last long term, even beyond when “things return to normal” because it is easier for everyone to meet on their computers than to go to someone’s house game, and then go back home. It’s like going to your computer to be the Dragonborn or the Witcher, except here you can be anyone you want. So publishers should make it a regular habit to make sellable products for online gaming.

2) Adventure Pacing

This is something both publishers and home GM’s can learn. It is the pacing of the campaigns in Skyrim and Witcher 3 that I feel make them sell so well. Both have two major and interconnected plots (Skyrim: win the civil war, and kill the head dragon; Witcher 3: stop the Wyld Hunt and find Ciri), but those plots are not a single story. They are each a hundred little stories bringing you to the final story. The Bloody Baron found Ciri and will only tell you the information if you do this other job for him. The Skyrim civil war starts off properly with retrieving a crown before the other side does. This breaks the campaign up into a number of more manageable pieces.

Between each of those pieces, you can do any number of side quests. This let’s you do something different and keeps the game from becoming overly serious. One the reasons I believe that many role playing games fizzle out is that the plot becomes overly dark and heavy. Sure, time becomes difficult to find, schedules change, etc, but if something brings joy to your life, you make the time for it. If it becomes overly dark and bleak, it runs the risk ones sapping all the joy, and it turns into an obligation, one that can be easily removed.

So learn from computer RPGs and build in side quests. These should be different, fun, and not necessarily have anything to do with the main plot. Consider saving the orphanage’s puppy or returning the owlbear egg to the nest before mama owlbear comes hunting it down. On a more serious note, try escort someone to their family tomb to put their recently deceased grandmother her predetermined plot, at the very bottom of the tomb, and a necromancer previously broke in started making undead. Or retrieve the bones of an old adventurer from their tomb they had fallen in, letting both the living and the dead to find peace. Give them a treasure map or a tip about some lost magical items. No matter what, the payoff should be swift. By payoff, it can be gold or items, but what it really should be is both a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of having done good. People play role playing games to feel like heroes; let them be exactly that, both in the big campaign and to the individuals in smaller ways.

3) Pickup and Playable

This one is small but it makes a world of difference: include pregen characters with any adventure you’re publishing over a VTT. In Witcher 3, you’re playing Geralt of Rivia; the entire game is built around you being him. While I’d appreciate it if you could pick from a number of witchers, you can start playing right away. In Skyrim, the guard asks who you are and as the meme goes, you stand there for ten minutes while your face, gender, body type, and race keep shifting, horrifying the poor guard.

That is the difference between including pregen characters and not. If a GM is running your adventure during an online conversation, they’re going to have to make those pregens themselves, adding a barrier to them running your adventure at all. Remember, running a published module is supposed to make the GM’s job easier; including pregen characters is another thing to do just that.

Jon Brazer Enterprises’ Store at Fantasy Grounds is far from extensive, but we are working to improve it. See everything we have there and download something helpful to your game today. While you’re at it, check our our full catalog of Pathfinder 1e, D&D 5e, 13th Age, and Traveller products at the JBE Shop and grab yourself some awesome stuff today.

Star Battles: Nebulae and Asteroids Space Map Pack for Fantasy Grounds

This collection of stunning maps includes 12 brand new scenes of space and is ideal for ship fights in your science fiction/science fantasy campaign played over Fantasy Grounds. Each map includes a gridless version, a square grid, and a hex grid so you can use these in any game system.

Star Battles: Nebulae and Asteroids Space Map Pack includes:

  • 5 maps featuring asteroids for your players to dodge
  • 4 starfield maps of beautiful deep space nebulae
  • A stunning planet with a ring and moon
  • A dwarf star in the middle of a solar flare
  • 1 of a planet with a nebula background

Give your game a stunning background for the most epic of battles!

Download today at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, and coming soon to the Fantasy Grounds Store and the Open Gaming Store.

JBE’s Virtual Conversation Schedule 2020

COVID-19 has dramatically changed convention schedules with most bring canceled (for good reason). But people still want to play their games, and everyone at JBE wants to join in on the fun.

Right now we are scheduled to attend three virtual conventions.

We hope that you will join us at these and other online conventions.

We are looking to attend more virtual conventions so if you are running an online con, contact us by commenting below or going to Twitter or Facebook and let us know about it.

Traveller 2e: What Is Your Favorite Kind of Ship?

It’s been a while since JBE published some new ships for Traveller. If you haven’t seen our ships for 2e Mongoose Traveller, check them out at DriveThruRPG. I’ll be getting back to creating some new ships shortly. Creating new ships is downright fun, and I’ve missed making them.

So I want to know what is your favorite kind of ship. We have some ideas for ships that we want to build, but I want to know what kinds of ships are your guilty pleasure. Let us know by voting in the poll below and leaving a comment below.

d66: We’re Back With More d66 Goodness

You asked for it. We delivered! Brand new d66 Lists are back and better than ever. We just posted for brand new d66 lists for your over at the JBE Shop. Grab them today.

Not only that, we are adding all of our existing d66 lists to the JBE Shop. The JBE Shop is going to be the new home of all our individual d66 lists. Doing it like this, you can add to your collection all at once from those you have been wanting to pickup and our new ones. If you picked up d66 lists in the past, have no fear. You will still be able to download them at other websites with no issue.

So which ones have been released today? Great question. First up we have d66 Reasons Traffic Control has Denied Take Off Clearance. Traffic control doesn’t always let you leave a star system when you want to. There can be a whole host of reason why they may say no, and d66 Reasons Traffic Control has Denied Take Off Clearance presents you with 36 such reasons. Use them in your game today. Download it at the JBE Shop.

After that, we have a new list of ship names for you: d66 Ships Named After a Breakup/Divorce. Not everyone names a ship after good times or happy memories. Some do it after a major life change. Inside d66 Ships Named After a Breakup/Divorce you’ll find all kinds of ship names that will help you give the ship’s captain or owner some personality. Download this d66 list today at the JBE Shop.

This next one was requested by a fan: d66 Things That Happened While You Were in Jump Space. Quite a bit can happen during that week when you are in jump space. The last you heard, all was fine on the planet and you emerge to food riots, a megacorp announce expansion plans, or perhaps war broke out. Perhaps something happened on your ship while you were away from reality, like a powersurge sending you off course or someone in low berth is suddenly pregnant and the unborn is experiencing rapid gestation. The list d66 Things That Happened While You Were in Jump Space will help you make a unique experience. Download at the JBE Shop.

Last but not least, we bring you d66 Vehicle Manufacturer Names. This d66 list delivers 36 names for vehicle manufacturers. Whether you are looking for a massive, multi-planetary corporation that produces gravcars and much more or a small local specialty company that hand makes flyers and ground cars, this list is here to help. Download at the JBE Shop.

If there is a specific list you would like to see, let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page or on Twitter. We want to hear your thoughts.

Traveller: More d66 Lists?

Hey Traveller fans,

I got a request recently for more d66 lists. Do you want to see more? If so, tell us what additional lists would you like to see? Sure we can do more ship names, more planet names, more robot names, but us that what you are looking for? Or would you rather see more lists like “reasons why your communication/sensors systems are not working” or “robot’s current instructions” where they provide a reason for things happening. Is there any category that is not covered well by existing lists that you want to see done? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below and vote in the poll.

Discover 5 New Careers for your Traveller Game

Even the Emperor of the Imperium has a Past.

Whether it’s someone who pushes the boundaries of known space or an average citizen waiting tables, every Traveller brings different experiences to their adventures. Now you can bring to life new and varied characters for your Traveller game with Foreven Worlds: Careers Beyond the Claw! This supplement adds five new careers perfect for your game, whether in the lawless region past the Imperial border or well within its safer boundaries. Each new career features a D66 list of events, offering more replay value and new surprises.

This 30-page book for the Traveller Roleplaying Game features the following careers:

  • Athlete—a former sports professional who pushes their limits of physical endurance
  • Customer Service—a dedicated waitstaffer, someone who gets yelled at when the company makes a mistake, or a people pleaser who makes the customer happy no matter what
  • Frontierist—an explorer who goes beyond the edge of civilization to mine and forage, search for ancient ruins, or change a planet’s environment to make it habitable
  • Medical Professional—a person who dedicates their life to performing delicate surgery, nursing the sick and wounded, providing long-term care, or providing physical therapist
  • System Guard—a member of the space military protecting a single solar system, whether they’re part of the line crew, inspectors’ department, or planetary patrol

Play a New Character and Have a New Experience!

Download Foreven Worlds Careers Beyond the Claw today for your Traveller game exclusively at DriveThruRPG.

Traveller: Skyride, a TL 16 Gravcar

Typically in Traveller, I work in the independent worlds of the Foreven Sector. The only problem with this region, outside of the Zhodani Consulate the tech level rarely exceeds 10. So much of the cool toys in the Central Supply Catelogue, Vehicle Handbook, High Guard are off limit to me. So now that Mongoose published Behind the Claw, we have many TL 15 systems and even a TL 16 world to play with. So I figured why not create one for it. We figured this one would be a fuel efficient upper class family vehicle that can go anywhere on the planet as well as into orbit. Nothing crazy with this one, just your basic grocery getter.

If you want to see more high tech equipment, vehicles, ships, and more (TL 14+), leave a comment below.

Also be sure to check out all of our 2e Mongoose Traveller products like Foreven Worlds: Ships of the Border Worlds exclusively at DriveThruRPG.

Name Skyride
TL 16
Skill Flyer (grav)
Agility +4
Speed (Cruise) V. Fast
Range (Cruise) 7,500 km
Crew 1
Passengers 4
Cargo 1 ton
Hull 14
Shipping 3.5 tons
Cost Cr. 640,450
Equipment/Traits
Advanced Autopilot, Advanced Communication System, Advanced Control System, Advanced Navigation, Entertainment System, Fuel Efficient, Life Support (short term), Vacuum Protection

Autopilot (skill level) 3
Communications (range) 1,000 km
Navigation (Navigation DM) +4
Sensors (Electronics (sensors) DM) +4, 25 km
Camouflage (Recon DM)
Stealth (Electronics (sensors) DM)

Armour
Front 4
Rear 4
Sides 4

Traveller: Another Branch of Military Service

Not long ago we shared with you two of the five new careers in the upcoming Foreven Worlds: Careers Beyond the Claw. Those careers being Athlete and Medical Professional. Today we sharing with you two more careers in the PDF.

The first is a new branch of military service. The System Guard is similar to the coast guard of a modern military. They handle a mix of law enforcement and issues a full navy must deal with, but with smaller ships and they don’t head out into the deep waters, which in this case is deep space. The three assignments of the System Guard are the Crew/Line, Inspectors, and Planetary Patrol. The crew/line are the officers and enlisted personnel of the ships that make up any system guard. They deal with pirates, poachers, and ship thieves plaguing a star system. The job of the inspectors is to make sure smugglers fail to import or export illegal persons or cargo. The planetary patrol staff the orbital gun platforms, space stations and repair facilities that support the system guard ships. In the Foreven Worlds this branch of the military replaces the navy of the Imperium or Zhodani Consulate. In both of these and other interstellar governments that sport a full navy, the system guard protects the system when the baby is elsewhere and when situations do not require a military response.

The second career we are sharing today is the one that the cover image represents, the Frontierist. Those that pursue such a career to the edge of explored space go where few if any have gone before. Whether you are sifting through the ruins of some lost civilization, hunting mineral wealth where none have looked before, or attempting to change the environment of a world to be more habitable for humanoid or other sentient life forms, your work takes you where few live today. Being well beyond the ragged edge of civilization doesn’t just thrill you; it is where you belong, seeing a location in its untarnished glory, breathing air none have in countless generations, and making off with minerals none new were there before. The three most common Frontierist assignments are Archeologist, Prospector, and Terraformer.

Foreven Worlds: Careers Beyond the Claw will be out in the new year. Download all of our Traveller products exclusively at DriveThruRPG.

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