Archive for June, 2015

So it probably goes without saying, but in this post I’ll be discussing trigger warnings at the game table. While I won’t go too in-depth into any one topic, there will be mention of some topics that might make people upset. Just a heads up because I love you all and don’t wish to offend.

So on Thursday of last week my latest blog post caused quite a stir on social media. It was all about how to use trigger warnings and why they’re important at the table. It seems like trigger warnings are a hugely controversial topic and I did not quite realize the reactions I’d get. Looking back I could have given some better clarification.

Before I move on with the rest of this post I just want to say to those of you who come here looking for fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons resources and worldbuilding advice – have no fear. On Thursday  we’ll get back into the swing of those things with a post I’m currently writing about the lingering injuries module in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

You May Not Need Trigger Warnings

I saw A LOT of people decry the entire notion of trigger warnings and X-cards. While some folk could have been a little less flippant (and in a very few cases less graphic or bigoted) in their responses, I get it. Many people don’t want to compromise their story and have been playing in the same group for years. They already know the limits of their friends and have an open dialogue about everything in the game which comes naturally. In other words everyone is comfortable with one another. I have this kind of relationships with two groups that I’ve been GMing since college. I don’t need to give trigger warnings and they feel comfortable telling me, “Yeah, I’m uncomfortable, move on,” on the rare occasion that it happens.

I would say that if you’re GMing a game with a new group, especially if it’s in a store or at a convention and you’re covering something questionable (like sexual assault), consider giving a warning (or better yet put it in the description of the event if there’s a posting for it). It will take 30 seconds and there’s a strong likelihood the group won’t care and you can move on without changing a thing in your game. If someone says, “I’m not cool with that,” then you as the GM have a choice to make. You can change the game or let the person know you’re going to proceed as is and let them bow out. In any case doing this before a game with strangers starts will save you and your players time and anguish in the long run.

Do I Have To Give Warnings for Everything?

I got a lot of sincere questions from people asking if they were expected to give trigger warnings for everything. One trusted friend gave a great example saying some people have serious issues with food addiction and did that mean he should be giving trigger warnings before playing a game in which he as GM gave a description of a feast?

My thought is that, no, you do not have to give trigger warnings for everything. I think most people sitting down to play a game have some assumptions about the content that game. For instance in Dungeons and Dragons players expect to have at least a PG-13 level of fantasy violence where they’re slaying monsters and villainous humanoids a la The Lord of the Rings. In a Cthulhu game players can assume all of the horrors and mental instability which comes in one of the works of H. P. Lovecraft. You don’t need to give a trigger warning for every little thing, but you should give warnings for the sensitive stuff that doesn’t happen in every game session of the system and setting your group is using (like sexual assault in D&D).

Just make sure that any new players know what they’re getting into. If you don’t know the person well and they’ve never played or heard of Monsterhearts or Cthulhu, a little advanced warning is courteous and only takes 30 seconds. Again this kind of thing is perfect for conventions and public play.

The food addiction example above is trickier. That’s the kind of thing that’s unexpected at many tables, but for some people is a serious trigger. The best thing you can do is create an environment of open communication and let your players know they can bring anything to you even if it seems trivial.

You Don’t Have to Change Your Game

In response to last week’s post I saw some people say, “I tell people if they need a trigger warning not to play in my game.” Flippancy aside, this message is actually a trigger warning and it’s a fair one for private home games. If you feel the story you’re trying to tell is more important than another person’s particular sensitivity, it’s good to be upfront about that. Don’t waste their time or your own and get into a situation where a person can be hurt or made upset. Odds are if you don’t want to adjust your game for a player with a particular sensitivity or trigger, that player doesn’t want to play in your game. If you can hash that out before rolling any dice, you’re both better off for it.

I’d advise courtesy and manners while giving this message to players, since a lot of flippancy may leave you with no one to play with. Not everyone needs trigger warnings, but most people hate playing with jerks.

X-Card Abuse

A few GMs out there hadn’t heard the concept of the X-card and it made them nervous. They were worried players might abuse the card to skip through difficult combat encounters and other challenges, especially because the X-card comes with a no questions asked policy. While I’ve never heard of or experienced a player abusing an X-card in such a way, we’ve all been burned in the past by players abusing a rule to the point of ruining the game’s fun. It wouldn’t surprise me if this happened, especially if someone wanted to drive a GM crazy for choosing to use an X-card in the first place.

If you feel someone is abusing an X-card, talk to them about it. Ask them, “Hey you seem to be using the X-card a lot. Is there anything in particular that’s coming up in our games that’s making you use it?” If they don’t have a good answer, explain to them that the card is there to avoid upsetting situations, not as a cheat to get through challenges. If the abuse continues, tell the player you’re not sure that they’re the right fit for the game your playing. It doesn’t matter if they’re using a cheat or using the X-card all the time for legitimate reasons because in either case the statement is true.

Communication is Key

At the end of the day communication is key. I think people see the phrase, “trigger warning,” and it sets something off in them. Yes, that’s irony. I saw a lot of hate for trigger warnings followed by statements like, “My players and I talk through issues because we’re adults.” That’s awesome, people! If your communication is open and honest, you’re doing it right. So if your group is experienced, new, young, old, bawdy, family friendly, comfortable friends, or a group of strangers at a convention the most important thing is you have a great time gaming together.

I’m Not Trying to Ruin Your Game

I think I owe many of you an apology. When I posted about this on social media I let my inner marketing copywriter get the best of me and used the phrase, “Why you should use trigger warnings in your game.” As stated above not everyone needs them because they already have a gaming group full of friends and honest communication. I’m not here to ruin your games. If I give some advice on the blog that you don’t like, you don’t need to take it.

Sorry if you felt like I was shoving my apparently game-ruining (and according to some life-ruining) philosophies about tabletop games down your throats. Surely, that was not my intent. My intent was to provide advice for those looking for it and let people get a look into how I run games with questionable material. I’d love to hear what others do when they want to run a game with some more serious themes with groups of new people. Sound off in the comments below.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Advertisements

I sit down with Wolfgang Baur, Kobold in Chief of Kobold Press about his upcoming visits to PaizoCon and North Texas RPG Con as well as his upcoming events at Gen Con. Then we talk about Wolfgang Baur’s wish for a fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons OGL and all the awesome products he has planned once (if) it launches. Spoiler alert – fifth edition Midgard Campaign Setting is liberally spoken about. This podcast was recorded on June 17, 2014.

Please rate and review us on iTunes, it helps a boat load!

Links:

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

So it probably goes without saying, but in this post I’ll be discussing trigger warnings at the game table. While I won’t go too in-depth into any one topic, there will be mention of some topics that might make people upset. Just a heads up because I love you all and don’t wish to offend.

I’m almost 30. When I started playing tabletop RPGs as a 10-year-old kid, my games were a lot like The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. By that I mean simple tales with simple themes of good folk battling evil folk and scoring some treasure. As I got older my games became more complex and sometimes verged into themes found in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin (that’s Game of Thrones to all you HBO viewers out there). Plots certainly became more complex but the stories of my games also dealt with more adult issues. While these themes and ideas made for more interesting narratives and more realistic characters, many of these issues can make players, even fully grown adult players, uncomfortable. Suicide, sexual assault, sexual intercourse, physical and mental abuse, torture, addiction, physical illness, mental illness, and a lot of other serious, complicated real world topics can make for a moving story, but they can also ruin a game for a person who just showed up to have a good time and forget about the worries of the world for a bit.

It’s a Game First, Art Second

Personally when I read or tell a story, anything goes. As a professional writer and producer, I believe in a storyteller’s right to portray these topics as they choose and I believe an audience has the right to not watch, gripe, and criticize as they choose. That’s not to say I’m always comfortable with tasteless storytelling where gratuitous violence or offensive material of any kind is itself the entertainment, but I am comfortable saying storytellers should be able to make what they want and people should be allowed to pick it apart and/or not consume the product as they see fit.

All of that being said, remember that role-playing games are games first and the art of storytelling second. Players and a GM tell a story together for their own fun and entertainment. It should not be a GM or player forcing the story they want down the throats of others. People have given up hours of precious free time to come and sit at a table, often with strangers at a friendly local game store or convention, and don’t need to leave the experience feeling uncomfortable, offended, or ostracized. That kind of stuff doesn’t get people to come back to a game. I’m reminded of a Vice article in which a DM forced an NPC onto a female player’s character. That player left the table in tears and never returned to the game. I think most of us can agree we do not want anything to get that far at our tables even if most people think a topic is harmless. These situations are even more likely to come up at conventions and organized play events where the group may be strangers to one another and have no idea who is comfortable with what. We need to be able to put all people involved in the game at ease. That doesn’t mean these triggering topics are off-limits, but it does mean we need to be mindful and respectful of our fellow gamers.

Here are some handy tips and methods for keeping everything cool and comfortable at the table when you story heads into questionable territory.

Ways to Mitigate Trigger Activation

When someone has a visceral uncomfortable or hurt reaction to an event or description in a game, a trigger response has been activated for that person. Here are a few ways to avoid trigger activation.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

When it comes to trigger activations, nothing helps more than simply talking with your players. Before you get started ask them what style of games they like to play and what books, television, and movies they like to watch. Remember that just because a person enjoys book containing a triggering topic doesn’t mean they’ll enjoy it in the shared environment of a role-playing game but it gives you a good idea of where to start. This is also a great way to break the ice before getting going during a game at a convention or local friendly game store with a bunch of new players.

Remember to set up questionable events with trigger warnings before you play. If you aren’t sure about how a description or event will go down with the players, ask them first. “Hey this adventure includes a possible suicide, but let me know if you’re not ok with that because I can change things very easily. You don’t have to tell me why, just let me know if it’s a problem,” is a great way to give a warning. Make sure the players know they aren’t inconveniencing you or ruining the fun of the game for anyone else. Don’t make them give you a reason why the topic makes them uncomfortable since that defeats the purpose of the warning. Be cool. Everyone is there to have a good time.

If you’re playing a longer campaign made up of multiple sessions, spend some time talking to your players about what makes them comfortable and uncomfortable throughout the run of the game. Let them know they can come and speak with you if they have a problem with anything that comes up. Establish trust by listening to concerns, and by not asking probing, personal questions when concerns are brought up. In addition to providing trigger warnings, talk to them after a questionable event as a check-in to make sure everyone’s still feeling good about the campaign and story. It’s definitely better to over communicate than to have a friend get upset and leave a game.

Set Ground Rules

Before a long campaign there’s time to talk with your players and go over a list of questionable topics that might come up in the story. Why not immediately check off all the things that someone says are off-limits for them? You could email the list to people or talk with people one-on-one so they can respond individually and not in front of the rest of the group. Then you can just let your players know topics that won’t be part of your game so they don’t bring them up at the table as well.

If you’re playing with a group of good friends, you could always have a larger discussion about setting ground rules before a game starts. A discussion like this can even allow for ground rules to be more specific. Rather than removing an entire topic from your story (e.g. physical disease) you might be able to cross off a specific item within that topic (e.g. a specific terminal illness).

Tap the Card

Setting ground rules and lots of communication are great, but what happens when you don’t have the time cover everything before a convention game with a group of strangers? Or maybe you’re playing a game with so many questionable topics, like Monsterhearts, that going over a list would be maddening and time-consuming.

On an episode of The Round Table podcast where we discussed sexual harassment at the game table panelist Barak Blackburn brought up the idea of placing an index card in the middle of the table. Whenever any person for any reason felt uncomfortable with what was happening in the game’s story, that person could tap the card without a word and the GM would simply fast forward and move the story past the scene and the topic wouldn’t be touched again. If you’re running a short game with a lot of questionable material and don’t want to upset anyone, this is a great trick. It’s commonly known as an X-card, because the DM typically draws a large X across the index card.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

It’s time for part three of my entry concerning June’s RPG Blog Carnival. This month the carnival topic was picked by Phil over at Tales of a GM and the theme is “Summerland.” Summertime is all about vacation for many of us and that can include adventurers! In my first two posts, Summertime Downtime and Summertime Downtime 2, I provided some new downtime options in addition to the ones in the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide for fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons. You can now grab those options in a PDF on the Free Game Resources section of this site along with plenty of other resources for your game like monstersD&D fifth edition rules modules, backgroundsspellsmagic items, and more.

In this post I’m continuing the downtime theme, but instead of providing more downtime options I’m going to give you some advice for running downtime between adventures at the table.

The Problem with Downtime

Many GMs want to tell stories about world-­shaking events with villains and forces who are not off the clock, so the PCs can’t be either. If the adventurers take a year to build a castle, evil takes over the land or worse yet, evil chills out for a second because the DM wants the PCs to be able to build their fort and the story’s sense of urgency is gone. So there is no space between adventures for the PCs to pursue downtime activities. The bard never gets to start his college and the fighter never gets to spend nights gambling with hard won treasure.

To many it may seem fine to ignore downtime activities, but finding a way to fit them into your game will allow each player more role­-playing time and create a richer story within your world. It’s worth going through the trouble of fitting in occasional non-adventure time for your players to explore their characters’ everyday lives and it allows the players to interact with the world they’re trying to save.

There are ways to have your cake and eat it too. Downtime activities and an urgent, world­-shaking campaign story arch can go together.

Fitting in Downtime

Here are a few times the DM can allow more downtime into a game, especially if that game is one with a fast-paced overarching story.

Travel

Sometimes PCs spend days, weeks, or even months traveling from one area to the next with the occasional random encounter thrown in. All that time is often glossed over at the table, especially if that world is as big as Toril, Eberron, or Canus. These travel opportunities are the perfect place for downtime activities, especially if the PCs are part of a larger caravan or ship. Suddenly a boring ride through the plains is a chance for a PC to learn to play an instrument, sow rumors amongst the caravan, go carousing, craft an item, or recruit members of an organization.

Part of the Plot

A PC may want to take time to do some research into the name of the demon lord the party has been hearing on the lips of every cultist they’ve come across. A wizard may have to build an item, magic or mundane, that will aid the party against a threat looming over the land. The bard may want to stop and sow rumors about a villainous overlord to his people or gather supporters to form an army to takedown a dragon. If there’s a piece of the main story only one character can tackle during downtime, the rest of the party is free to do whatever they like. Be sure that this burden doesn’t always fall on the same PC so that everyone gets a turn affecting the main story and likewise a turn doing whatever they want.

Of course there are other instances of downtime being part of the plot. Perhaps a villain fakes death and lets the PCs think they’ve won the day for a time, allowing the PCs a break before the villain comes back stronger! The villain’s trail could just go cold and the PCs have downtime to kill until signs show evil has returned. Maybe the PCs have to lay low in a city or town and wait for a messenger or patron until they can continue their quest. Even Batman takes breaks when there is no crime to fight.

Death of a Fellow PC

If a character dies, the other PCs might need to spend some time looking for a new adventurer to take the deceased’s place or find a diamond and spellcaster powerful enough to bring their comrade back from the dead. This might require the full party’s efforts, but in most cases it does not. While someone works on filling the gap in the party, the rest of the team is free to spend downtime however they like.

Slow Down the Events

Some world-shaking events take years. A campaign driven by an overarching story does not need to be so urgent. Perhaps a campaign’s villain is only active during certain seasons or parts of the lunar cycle. Maybe the villain bides time between schemes, lying low until the heat dies down, or spending evil-won spoils during evil downtime. What? Evil has to build castles and carouse too, ya know.

Perhaps the evil scheme the adventurers are trying to thwart takes time. It’s not easy to construct a doomsday device, build an undead army, unravel the mysteries of a complex tome, or become a lich. While the baddies are doing their thing, the adventurers have some time to do as they please without sacrificing the importance of your main story’s events.

The Downtime Round

During downtime it can be easy to get caught up in what one PC is doing while ignoring the rest of the characters for a long time. If this kind of thing is happening at your table, think about instituting the downtime round. This rule makes sure everyone gets a fair shake when they’re chilling betwixt adventures.

Before discussing how each PC spends downtime all players roll initiative. Then in initiative order downtime turns are resolved. Each player has 3 to­ 5 timed minutes (determined by the DM) to explain what they did during the downtime and resolve it using the appropriate rules for the downtime activity. Usually only one downtime round is needed. If some PCs need more time to resolve their actions, their turn still ends when the timer goes off and then there is a second downtime round which they can use to complete their downtime activity. There are only two downtime rounds total so PCs need to wrap up their activities by the end of round two.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


I sit down with Jeff Greiner, Dave Gibson, and Liz Theis to talk about the upcoming Rage of Demons D&D storyline and take a look at the art. Then we talk about the departure of D&D R&D staffer Rodney Thompson who has left Wizards of the Coast to join Bungie. This podcast was recorded on June 4, 2015.


Please rate and review us on iTunes, it helps a boat load!


Links:


If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!


I sit down with Steven Helt, two time Iron GM champion, winner of RPG Superstar, cofounder of the Four Horsemen, and designer of numerous products for the Pathfinder RPG. This podcast was recorded on May 17, 2015.

Please rate and review us on iTunes, it helps a boat load!

Links:

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, The Round Table and Bonus Action, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

It’s time for part two of my entry concerning June’s RPG Blog Carnival. This month the carnival topic was picked by Phil over at Tales of a GM and the theme is “Summerland.” Great topic! Since summertime is all about vacation for many of us, I decided to provide some new downtime options in addition to the ones in the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide for fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons.

In my previous post I showed off the downtime activities of creating a cover identity, making contacts, and committing a petty crime spree. In this post I’ll be giving you a look at building an organization and buying a magic item.

Note – maybe downtime isn’t for you… Or it just seems boring! We’re supposed to be adventuring after all! Well in another post next week I’m going to give you a few ways to make downtime more exciting and run smoothly at the table. For now, check out the options below.

New Downtime Options

These new downtime options can be added to any campaign at the DM’s discretion.

Build an Organization

A character can spend downtime between adventures creating and building the membership of an organization. The organization could be a guild of thieves or mercenaries, a church, a collective of magic users, a group of activists, or anything group of people with a common cause. Work with the player to come up with a mission statement for the organization. This statement should begin with the word “to” followed by a verb. “To kill dragons for gold,” “To uncover political corruption,” and “To spread the light of Apollo,” are all examples of organization mission statements.

To start the organization, the character must have a place for members to meet and spend at least thirty days and 100 gp recruiting new members. This time need not be spent consecutively. At the end of the thirty days the organization is established and the character has recruited ten members to the organization and makes a DC 15 Charisma (Persuasion) check. For every 1 the check succeeds the DC, another recruit is added to the organization.

Once the organization is established, the PC can spend downtime recruiting new members. Every day of downtime and 5 gp the PC dedicates to recruiting members adds another member to the organization. At the end of a period of downtime spent recruiting members, the PC makes a DC 15 Charisma (Persuasion) check. For every 1 the check succeeds the DC, another recruit is added to the organization.

Once the organization is established, the PC can spend downtime assigning jobs to recruits to gain money for the organization. Every day of downtime the PC dedicates to assigning work (such as collecting donations, dues, contract fees, etc.) the PC earns 1 gp per recruit in the organization. The rest of the funds collected go to upkeep the organization.

While the PC is away from the organization the PC can order the organization to recruit new members, earn money, or both. The organization is less effective without the PC actively leading it, so it only recruits two recruits a week if ordered to focus on recruiting, only earns 1 sp per member per day if ordered to focus on earning money, or recruits one recruit a week and 1 cp per member per day if ordered to focus on both.

It is up to you as the DM if the organization can be of further help to a PC. Think about the organization’s mission statement. A network of spies can provide the PC with intel, while a mercenary guild could provide soldiers for storming an enemy castle.

Buy a Magic Item

In most worlds few people have magic items and even fewer are willing to sell them, but there are those out there who occasionally come an item for which they have no use.

A character looking for a magic item can spend downtime searching for a buyer. This downtime activity can only be performed in an area where the character can find lots of other adventurers or wealthy folk like a city or guild hall. Legendary magic items and artifacts cannot be bought during downtime, since these items are so rare and priceless.

The character must make a DC 20 Intelligence (Investigation) check to find a seller of an item with a generic description, such as “a magic sword.”  If a specific magic item, such as “a sword of wounding,” or an item with a specific ability, such as “a staff which lets the wielder cast fireball,” is desired, the character must make a DC 25 Intelligence (Investigation) check to find a seller for the item. On a failed check, no seller of the item is found after a search which lasts 10 days. On a successful check, a seller of the item is found after a number of days based on the item’s rarity as shown in the Purchasable Magic Items table. If the character wishing to buy a magic item provides a generic description, you decide which specific item is available for sale. Because of the research and investigation required, a character can only look for one magic item at a time.

If the PC finds an item for sale, the player rolls on the Buying a Magic Item table, applying a modifier based on the item’s rarity, as shown in the Purchasable Magic Items table. The PC also makes a Charisma (Persuasion) check and adds that check’s total to the result. The subsequent total determines the seller’s final sale price of the item.

You determine the seller’s identity. Sellers can be adventurers, wealthy collectors, or a more nefarious individual like a fence or thief. A seller could be someone trying to swindle the character by selling a mundane or cursed item. If the seller is shady, it’s up to you what the consequences of the sale are.

Purchasable Magic Items
Rarity Base Price Days to Find a Seller d100 Roll Modifier*
Common 100 gp 1d4 +10
Uncommon 500 gp 1d6 +0
Rare 5,000 gp 1d8 -10
Very Rare 50,000 gp 1d10 -20

*Apply this modifier to rolls on the Buying a Magic Item table.

d100 + Mod. You Find…
20 or lower A seller offering ten times the base price.
21 – 40 A seller offering four times the base price.
41 – 80 A seller offering twice the base price, and a shady seller offering the full base price.
81 – 90 A seller offering the full base price.
91 or higher A seller offering half the base price, no questions asked.

Time for a PDF

Hey do you want these downtime activities to have and hold forever and ever? Well you can grab them in a PDF if the link below.

Downtime Activities

If you want to grab it later you can head on over to the Free Game Resources section of the site where it will live forever alongside plenty of other resources for your game like monstersD&D fifth edition rules modules, backgroundsspells, magic items, and more.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

I know I just finished up May’s RPG Blog Carnival but it’s time for June’s! This month the carnival topic was picked by Phil over at Tales of a GM and the theme is “Summerland.” Great topic!

When I think about Summer I think beaches, barbecues, sitting in the sun, relaxing a hammock, going camping, seeing a blockbuster movie, the end of the school year, and fun. In a word I think vacation. So that’s exactly what I’m going to write about – downtime between adventures in RPGs, specifically adding options to the downtime mechanics already found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide for fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons. I’ll be presenting three today and two more on Thursday.

Note – maybe downtime isn’t for you… Or it just seems boring! We’re supposed to be adventuring after all! Well in another post next week I’m going to give you a few ways to make downtime more exciting and run smoothly at the table. For now, check out the options below.

New Downtime Options

These new downtime options can be added to any campaign at the DM’s discretion.

Create Cover Identity

It doesn’t hurt to have an identity to fall back on. At anytime an angry cult, government, former lover, or mob of monsters could be trying to track a character down. A PC can spend time establishing a new identity for when things go bad by forging documents, creating a disguise, and presenting the public with an alter ego.

Creating a false identity requires a character to stay in a specific area for a time to help spread the word of this new identity. The more populated an area is, the easier it is for that PC to create a new identity since there is less of a chance the PC will recognized. Likewise the more famous a PC is the more difficult it becomes to create or maintain a false identity, as the PC might be recognizable to even those who have yet to meet the character.

For every day spent creating a cover identity the PC must spend 1d6 gp.

Village (Population under 1,000) 60 days

Town (Population between 1,001 – 10,000) 30 days

City (Population 10,000 or more) 10 days

For every level above 1st the PC has attained +10 days

Maintaining a Cover Identity

Once a cover identity is established, that cover must be maintained as a character’s fame and notoriety grows. For every level the character attains after establishing a cover identity, that character must spend ten days of downtime and 1d6 x 10 gp maintaining the cover identity before it can be used.

Make Contacts

Establishing contacts in a settlement allow a character to gain information in that specific settlement. When a character is establishing contacts in a settlement, that character spends time in public places buying people meals and drinks, socializing, and perform in various favors for people. After a predetermined amount of time spent establishing contacts based on the size of the population of the settlement, that character gains advantage on any Charisma (Streetwise) and Intelligence (Investigation) checks when trying to learn more about events happening within that settlement.

For every day spent in an area gaining contacts a PC must spend 2d6 gp on drinks, meals, and gifts with potential contacts.

Village (Population under 1,000) 10 days

Town (Population between 1,001 – 10,000) 30 days

City (Population 10,000 or more) 90 days

If settlement is extremely closed or isolationist +20 days

If community generally looks down upon the race, class, or background of the PC +10 days

For every two levels the PC has attained -1 day (it takes a minimum of 1 day to establish contacts)

Petty Crime Spree

Sometimes crime does pay. In large cities and settlements with limited law enforcement characters might be able to spend their time committing small crimes – shoplifting, smash and grabs, shake downs, pick pocketing, burglaries, and collecting protection fees for the local thieves guild are all ways a PC might choose to earn cash during downtime.

The specific nature of these criminal activities are up to the player and DM. This downtime activity only works with smaller crimes which keep physical violence limited to theft and minimal property damage. More heinous or risky crimes should be played out as normal.

At the end of a time period spent committing a crime spree, the character must roll on the Crime Spree Downtime Table. If the character has training in a specific skill that would aid in the crimes they choose to commit (e.g. A PC trained in Stealth committing burglaries or in Intimidation shaking down shopkeepers for protection fees), the DM can allow the character to roll twice on the table and use the higher result.

Crime Spree Downtime Table

d100 + Level Result
1 – 30 The authorities catch you and you are jailed for 1d10 days. You can avoid jail by paying a fine of 10 gp per day you are jailed.
31 – 40 You unwittingly commit a crime against a fellow criminal attached to an organized crime ring of the DM’s choice. This organization is now an enemy and seeks retribution.
41 – 60 You earn enough money to recuperate all your lifestyle expenses for the time spent committing crime.
61 – 80 Crime does pay! You recuperate all your lifestyle expenses for the time spent committing crime and gain 4d6 x 10 gp.
81 – 100 Crime does pay! Surprisingly well! You recuperate all your lifestyle expenses for the time spent committing crime and gain 5d10 x 10 gp.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!


I sit down with Roll20 cofounder Nolan T. Jones to discuss the storied history of the virtual game table, Roll20’s business and gaming philosophies, the capabilities of the table, their new Apocalypse World web series, and future updates coming to the product! This podcast was recorded on May 27, 2015.


Please rate and review us on iTunes, it helps a boat load!

Links:
If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, Bonus Action and Gamer to Gamer, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

The time has come! For the past month on this site I’ve been building a dungeon crawl in my homebrew campaign world of Exploration Age post by post. Well now I’ve revised, tweaked, and added to that adventure, Prison for Dragons, and put it all together in a nice, downloadable, FREE PDF. You can grab it in the link below or you can head on over to the Free Game Resources section of the site where it will live forever alongside plenty of other resources for your game like monstersD&D fifth edition rules modules, backgroundsspells, magic items, and more.

Prison for Dragons

Prison for Dragons is a fifth edition adventure for four to six level 12 PCs.

But wait! There’s more. I’ve got more links below of the individual dungeon maps, both with and without grids, for you to use however you like. Personally, I’ll be bringing them right into Roll20 as I play through with my group.

All these maps were made using Pyromancers‘ Dungeon Painter tool. I love it! So fast, easy, web-based and free!

Shuzal 1 Grid 57x66 Shuzal 1 No Grid 57x66

Shuzal 2 Grid 131x63 Shuzal 2 No Grid 131x63

Shuzal 3 Grid 100x100 Shuzal 3 No Grid 100x100

Shuzal 4 Grid 102x100 Shuzal 4 No Grid 102x100

Thanks to everyone who checked out the Prison for Dragons blog series and commented here, social media, and various other forums with great constructive criticism. Most importantly, a huge thanks to Nils Jeppe of Enderra for inspiring this series and adventure with last month’s RPG Blog Carnival theme of “Unusual Dungeons.”

If you play through the adventure (or just read it) let me know how it goes!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!