Lorecraft has become especially popular in recent years thanks to games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, and with its resurgence as a storytelling mode, many creators both professional and amateur are attempting to carve out their own plot of narrative real estate. This isn’t a new frontier, however, and savvy world builders would be wise to recognize that. Lore is all about longevity, about reaching from the past to inoculate those of the future. With this in mind, try to think about something, anything that has existed in its original, unmolested state for, say, one hundred years. What about two hundred? Or a thousand? The simple answer is none, but “simple” seldom makes for satisfying stories. That, at its heart, is what lorecraft is all about. It is simulating the persistent effect of time on a culture, idea, structure, or even a single person. It is telling the story (whatever that story may be) as it was by how it is now. To do this, you need a story that can turn into lore; here are some tips on how to do just that.
Think about lore as footprints or tracks that players have to trace backwards. Unlike conventional storytelling where the narrative unfurls before the protagonist, lore and legend by their very nature require that at least part of the story has already been told. But you already know that. You have already stepped in those footprints before, you remember. Don’t you: the house down the street, with the loose-hinged shutters sun bleached and dropping jagged paint chips like leaves from a maple tree. Derelict and abused, the house is perched on your street like a gargoyle, watching the jittering plans of you and your neighbors for years. Local children would bribe one another with melted snickers to go inside on hot summer nights when the moon was brightest. Some would go in, plucking up the courage (or naïveté) only to rocket out screaming from the houses yawning doorway. You remember hearing about the night she went in. You remember waiting for her to come out, the kids around you calling out her name in nervous laughs. You remember eventually going home. You don’t remember seeing her again.
The haunted house! Everyone has at least heard of one! It’s a great way to build micro-lore that resonates with a lot of people. This idea of a physical structure that’s mere existence compels those nearby to fabricate a story around it. It’s an important part of culture, crafting legends around structures, and we have been doing it for thousands of years. Houses of worship often fall into this column, but we will get to religion in a bit. For now, be thinking of lore in the way you think of that haunted house. What makes it unique? What makes it memorable? Most of the time, it’s the aesthetic. It’s the fact that it isn’t like the surroundings. It possesses an air about it that begs for a story. All the important ancient structures that exist today exhibit that. Maybe at one time they fit right in, but something happened. Everything changed and for one reason or another, it had the tenacity to brave the storm of time. So often, buildings don’t stand the test of time; that is why I said it’s great for micro lore. It helps creators get a grasp on the idea of persistence and setting because lore has a tendency to lean on the philosophical. Without a strong presence of mood and setting to ground wayward protagonists, lore might just be perceived as a history lecture. Buildings like temples, pyramids, even creepy homes are a good way to avoid some of the wordiness of legacy and provide engaging avenues to show rather than tell. History is learned. Lore is explored. Keep that in mind with buildings.
This may be the most familiar form of lore that we digest today. Stories of heroes of a bygone era and the adventures they undertook is the soul of most roleplaying games. While players often are participating in reactive story telling (The monster is doing this; so, you do this), lore is post-active storytelling. The analogy of the footprints is especially true for folk tales and post-active narratives. For example, one of my favorite Native American folktales from the Muscogee tribe describe the events that lead to opossums having bald tails. In short, a clever opossum catches his tail alight to bring fire to those that needed it most, Prometheus style. Post-active storytelling does not have much of a pension to be changed on the fly, but its results are able to be engaged with and are usually the reason the story is being told in the first place even if that reason is “I wonder why opossums have bald tails?”
Folktales are a way to humanize history through lore. It is a vehicle that allows us to make an impression on one of the most difficult surfaces to reach: the past. If you want to build character-centric lore, go to the folktale and see what makes them tick. Soon, you will be begin to notice that classically there are uncanny archetypal characters that mirror other characters from vastly different locations and points in history. Folktales palletize grandiose ideas of the human experience, but at their heart, they tether the present to the past through caution and familiarity. The best heroes of lore, despite how godlike or untouchable, are always actualized by what makes them most human.
The backbone of most prominent religions presently is preservation. Someone thought that the world works/should work a certain way, and they made sure that their ideology could be propagated beyond their lifetime. It’s a pretty daunting task. Regardless of validity, religions deserve a pat on the back for lasting as long as they have. This deliberate, theological persistence is engineered to imbed itself into culture to survive; it does this through lorecraft.
For sake of illustration, let’s make up a religion. A group of intelligent creatures live on the shoreline of a massive sea. Every once in a while they see curious beasts ferrying men across the water. These beasts have large white structures that catch the wind and propel them forward. Without the technology to observe these things closer, the little colony agrees that the beasts must be some massive water bird capable of carrying humans over past the horizon.
“Well what is on the other side of the horizon?” one asks.
“Who knows? Everyone that goes out there never comes back,” replies another.
There is the seed. Mystery, intrigue, mortality. Over the next couple of generations this seed grows and evolves as more people throw their theories into the ring, and before you know it, we have a fully fleshed out mythology about gatekeeping birds transporting chosen humans into another realm. As silly as it sounds, Americans actually tried to synthesize a religion to keep people out of nuclear test sites in this very way (Vox and the podcast 99% Invisible have an amazing video on this which can be found here https://www.vox.com/videos/2018/1/29/16932718/biohazard-design-nuclear-waste). Take an icon. Let that icon grow bigger in scope though intrigue, and once it grows too big or esoteric for people to completely understand, eventually someone is going to stand up and say, “Hey what if we aren’t supposed to completely understand? Maybe it is supernatural.”
We mentioned before that folklore was designed to connect the human condition to the often foggy interpretation of the past. Religion connects the human condition to the supernatural in much the same way. It’s important to keep in mind that rich lore often deals with the mortality of man and the anxiety it can induce. Throughout human history the desire to feel like the unexplainable is being orchestrated by something bigger than man has cropped up again and again. We build lore around it to contain the philosophical musings that we feel are most satisfying. When it comes to religion, think of lore as a glass terrarium that not only provides enough structure to keep everything in one place but also remains transparent enough so that we can see whats inside.
If folktales highlight the best in human design, then monsters are the downers at the party that point out how awful things are. In a way, the story of the monster is the antithesis of the folktale. If folktales tell us, “Hey, humans can transcend themselves and do amazing things,” the monster story warns us, “Humans can transcend themselves, but you may not like what the end result looks like.”
We see great examples of that warning in familiar stories like “Frankenstein,” “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” basically all werewolf and vampire stories, and so many more. The next time you read or watch something about a monster shift your perspective and try to see it as the protagonist. More often than not there is a sympathetic turn; a genesis story of sorts. Your lore alarm should be buzzing right about now. While most lore is about taking steps back in time, the specific lore surrounding monsters often has us taking steps back to scrutinize ourselves (specifically our psychology).
Where monsters are concerned, good lore builders are able to hold up a mirror and make you see something worse than your reflection. I don’t know about you, but my usual reflection is bad enough. Take the idea of the classic Kraken myth. It’s not scary because it has tentacles or is impressively large or even that it eats boats. It’s scary because it has alien motivations and wants to eat your boat. It embodies the fears of many sailors and the anxiety of traveling into the unknown, an anxiety that keep many people for exploring anything at all. The Kraken has effective lore because it begs the question, “Why is it scary?”
One more example: the witch. In fact, watching the movie “The Witch” tries to convey much of what I have already said about monsters. The archetype of the witch has us asking, yet again, why we are so concerned with relatively innocuous things when seen at face value. Old ladies are not scary, per se. Neither is magic nor the idea of the supernatural. The witch has been so alarming for much of English, Irish, and German history because of what it represents to humans in a general way. The lore behind the witch gives it its weight. The concept of dark, corrupting knowledge that poisons your very nature and potentially those around you is terrifying, especially for colonials during that time. The idea of the “other” has lead people to do terrible things, but the lore behind it is important. Lore helps us tackle these issues with a degree of skeptical separation.
Lore is a powerful tool at a creator’s disposal, but getting bogged down in time lines, he-said-she-said, and esoterica can really detract from the heart of what makes lore compelling. That is, our actions matter and can echo through time long after we are gone. An old professor said something to me once that I still think about today when I’m writing story: “The most engaging part of a treasure hunt is why it needs to be hunted in the first place. If you don’t know that, you’re just writing about a dirty box full of scrap metal.”
Andrew Pendragon is a veteran role player, Dungeon Master, and story teller. His work can be seen featured on outlets like the Simply Scary Podcast and Youtube channel BlackEyedBlonde, but he takes the most pride in his High Level Games affiliate podcast The Dragon’s Horde where he, alongside his co host, answers listener submitted roleplay questions and weaves them into a false-actual-play.
Picture Reference: https://funnyjunk.com/channel/vidyagaems/Bloodborne+lore+ilustrado+ludwig/wYGsLjL/
It’s no secret that Modiphius is the biggest company to hit the tabletop gaming scene since Fantasy Flight. They continue to produce high quality products on a regular and often reliable release schedule. From Infinity and Conan to older titles like Achtung! Cthulhu and Mutant Chronicles, Modiphius’ library seems ever expanding and continually improving. The throughline for their newest releases is the 2d20 system, a rule set and dice mechanic that itself has been growing and adapting much like the company that spawned it. I really enjoy the system; the following three aspects are some of the high points. Let’s have a look!
Whether you’re hacking a quantronic computer to dig up information about the latest rogue AI, piloting a starship through a nest of Klingon Warbirds, or seeking high adventure in the Hyborian Age, 2d20 works and works well. The system is meant to have a certain measure of “give” so that it can bend to the constraints of a particular setting or genre without breaking. The basics are always the same: roll 2d20 and try to get at or below your combined attribute and skill There’s a kicker though. Some more difficult actions will require more successes than you have dice, and while you can crit for more successes, you might find that you need 5 successes to pull off the badass move you’ve been planning for three turns. That’s where the game’s Momentum system comes into play, which I describe in more detail below.
The base system receives tweaks in order to capture the feel of the game and setting it’s attached to. In Conan, the magic is added as an additional system. In Star Trek, the skill system is reduced to only six fields of study, but the breadth of each is increased dramatically. This refocuses the gaming experience to support the thrills of discovery and clever thinking. Thus, a player will find each game that uses the system familiar, and will simply need to learn the changes before jumping into a session.
Only 2d20? But what if I don’t net any successes? What if I need three successes to perform the action in question? Time to buy more dice! The player characters receive and continually build a pool of Momentum. These points let players augment their dice pools and damage, and sometimes achieve even cooler more specific effects. Does the medic absolutely have to pass their roll to save the life of another PC? Spend some Momentum and grab three more dice. Running out of Momentum? Refill the pool by overachieving easier tasks; extra successes net you more of those sweet dice-adding points. This mechanic not only provides some much needed aid to the player characters and lets them feel awesome, it also provides a gauge of how much potential success the player characters have on their side. They can then make decisions as a team regarding whether to fight or flee. It also rewards them for doing simple tasks such as preparing for a fight by cleaning their weapons or rigging simple traps, each of which can potentially add Momentum to the pool before a big scene wherein heroics are a must.
But what if the pool runs dry and you still need extra dice? Most variants of 2d20 allow for the players to provide the GM with their own dice-adding resource in order to mimic the effects of Momentum. Referred to as “Heat” in Infinity, this resource can be spent by the GM to increase the dice pools of significant adversaries, call in reinforcements, or just cause a little mayhem for the party when they get complacent. It’s this push and pull that really makes the system come alive.
And it’s this same push and pull that creates and maintains dramatic tension throughout the gaming experience. Heat and Momentum provide incentive for players and the GM to keep the pressure up. If you sit on your laurels, you start bleeding Momentum. If you take too long deciding how to take your turn, the GM starts generating Heat. This makes conflicts feel exciting and intense. Even negotiations with new alien species have their drama turned up to 11 using this system. 2d20 effectively works to eliminate as many dull moments as possible, which is a welcome feeling in the age of the cell phone. It keeps players focused on the action and guides the GM by giving them an idea of what they can add to a scene to make it even more exciting, but still balanced. It’s hard to find another system that fights so hard for the enjoyment of the players at the table.
2d20 is a growing, living entity. It receives revisions for each game and supplement that comes out. Since Modiphius does not appear to be losing steam (they just acquired the production rights to Vampire: the Masquerade, after all), I’m positive we’ll see even more iterations of this cool new system with updates and fixes. No system is without its flaws, of course. Come back next month for my critique of the system, whereby we will explore three of the main issues that I’ve discovered. In the meanwhile, let me know what you think of the system and the games that it’s attached to!
David Horwitz is a gamer and freelance writer/editor with an obsession for exploring new forms of leisure. If you’re looking for an inquisitive mind and a deft hand, or just want to chat about gaming, contact him at www.davidhorwitzwrites.com/contact.
Picture Reference: http://www.modiphius.com/2d20.html
About a year and a half ago, in March of 2017, I was introduced to a fairly recently released game from Japan called Detatoko Saga. I was enamored with the notion of the being one of the first English speaking players of a game from Japan, and took meticulous notes on how the game ran. Though after a month or so of regular play, the group moved on to a different game, and thus my collection of the rules was incomplete.
I then did what any sensible person would do; I acquired a copy of the game myself and finished the translation on my own.
Perhaps I should say that’s what I PLANNED to do, because I didn’t understand Japanese at the time. It’s been about a year or so since then, and I’ve made significant strides in learning the language, and I’m finally able to begin my harebrained scheme of bringing one of Japan’s games into the English speaking world.
And through this journey, I’ve confirmed many things that up to this point I’ve only heard said by other people. Presented for your reading enjoyment are some of those points.
1) Japan Designs Their Rulebooks Differently (If Ever So Slightly)
Recall your favorite RPG Rulebook. What are the first few pages dedicate to? For more modern games, it’s likely a short chapter introducing the idea of an RPG to you, followed by some of the basic mechanics of the game, and then a chapter dedicated to creating your character. While Japan more or less follows this same approach, they typically lead off with something you don’t often see in American or European games at all.
The first 15 or so pages of Detatoko Saga were dedicated to what in Japan is known as a “Replay;” a complete text transcript of what went on during a session of the game. This isn’t unique to Detatoko Saga, either. Some of Japan’s games may even have several of these Replays compiled in the beginning of their rulebooks, turning them into works of fiction with a rule compendium in the back. (The translation company Kotodama Heavy Industries is planning to release the English rulebook for Shinobigami in this format, if you’re curious to see what I mean!)
One other interesting feature to Detatoko Saga hinges on the fact that many Japanese books are softcover with a dust jacket. Removing this jacket reveals that the front cover of the book is a copy of a character sheet for the game! This is an important addition, since print media still dominates the book market in Japan; it’s rare to find .pdf or other ebook variants of Japanese publications.
2) Translating Is An Art, Not A Science
One of the golden rules of translation is that it’s not a mechanical task; it’s why Google Translate is generally regarded as better for individual words and phrases than complete sentences. The way certain words are used, especially when coupled with other words, can make a world of difference.
A similar scenario I encountered when translating Detatoko Saga was the name of a skill possessed by the “Dragon” class. It was a skill that could be used in combat to retaliate against an enemy attack. This was originally translated as “Counter.”
The translator for this game was going through quickly, and admitted that a few times he picked names for the skills based on what they did, as opposed to what they were actually named. So I went back to re-translate it for practice. The skill that was known as “Counter” was spelled “逆鱗” which means “Imperial Wrath” or “One’s Superior’s Anger.”
There’s also additional layers of meaning added to the original name: the individual kanji that make it up are 逆 for “reverse” or “oppose” and 鱗 for “scales” like those on a fish or lizard. So this skill is thus used by a creature with scales to oppose being attacked, which would rightfully make them angry.
This illustrates perfectly why translating is a creative skill: neither “Counter” nor “Imperial Wrath” is more correct than the other. One gets the point across of what the skill does just by the name, while the other is specifically what was said, even if the word play gets lost in translation. Which is also to say nothing about the option of re-writing the name to capture that same whimsical word play by using a name like “Red Hot Fury.” (Since Dragon’s are popularly known as fire breathing creatures.)
3) It’s Practical Experience In Using A Language
I spent around a year reading up about the basics of reading and speaking Japanese, as well as using a bunch of language learning apps. Every so often, I would crack open my copy of Detatoko Saga with the hopes that I knew enough and it’d make sense at a glance.
I’d pick a passage, and see if anything stood out or made sense. When I couldn’t recognize anything, I put my rulebook away and went back to my language books, hoping that more study would get me ready.
It never did, by the way.
Translating a game was much like how I described learning a new game; at some point, I needed to take the plunge and work with what I knew, or I’d wind up perpetually saying, “Just a little bit more study, then I’ll be ready!”
It’s been slow. I’ve clumsily had to stare at various kanji to decipher how they’re constructed before I could punch them into my dictionary, and one line of text would take me roughly 15 minutes to figure out. However, these were words that my language apps and text books weren’t teaching me, so I couldn’t necessarily wait.
I had to let the experience of figuring them out for myself teach them to me. From time to time, I’ll encounter Japanese words in other places, and since I’ve taken that leap to figure them out from Detatoko Saga, it wasn’t as difficult for me to understand it that second time around.
If it wasn’t already obvious, translation is a complicated subject. It’s why it took eight years for Tenra Bansho Zero to be completely translated. Not only was it close to 1000 pages of material, but there was also a great deal of cultural detail that needed to be considered at the same time.
Which is to say nothing of the fact that Japanese is such a wildly different language from English or many of the other European languages. Despite the long road I had to take to start making sense of Detatoko Saga, though, I’d have to say that starting it was worthwhile.
Much like the difficulty of learning about and playing roleplaying games.
Aaron der Schaedel is the resident weeb at High Level Games, and is still a really long ways off from finishing the translation of Detatoko Saga. You should find him on Twitter (@Zamubei) and tweet pictures of catgirls at him.
Picture Reference: https://www.amazon.com/Detatoko-saga-Ryo-Kamiya/dp/4775313274
The tabletop RPG industry is growing. As a result, people from all walks of life have come together at the table. While this is certainly a great thing, especially if a Game Master is intentionally inclusive, but this can also result in miscommunication and awkward storytelling. Personally, I find that there's nothing worse as a Game Master than unwittingly making a player uncomfortable at the table and not knowing until much later.
Enter the X-Card, a concept developed by John Stavropoulos. Plain and simple, the X-Card is an index card with a large X on it. If a player is ever uncomfortable, they can tap the card or hold it up. The Game Master will then continue on, or back up a bit and re-write what just happened in the story. No one is to ask for an explanation as to why the player was made uncomfortable by this particular story development. Everyone just accepts it, and moves on. Afterwards, the Game Master and player can talk it over, so that the Game Master can better understand how to guide the games for everyone's benefit in the future.
You may have a group of gamers already established, and naturally know where the line is for them. If that's the case, the X-Card may not be for you. But if you have had issues in the past, with players being hurt or upset over the content in your game, then here are five good reasons you should take a look at this handy tool.
1) It Says “I Care”
Utilizing the X-Card at your table lets the players know immediately that you care about their feelings. This is more important in an environment where you don't know the individuals very well. If you have a new player or two that are friends of your current players but who you don't know personally, the X-Card can help set up a safe environment quickly. It can help players see that you are attentive to their personal needs.
2) It Makes Players More Comfortable
I have heard other players state how much more comfortable they were at the game table when they discovered that the X-Card was being used. They realized that if they had an issue, they could say so quickly and without trouble. Having relaxed players will help keep everyone having a good time.
3) It Puts The GM In A Good Mindset
With the X-Card in play, the Game Master can feel free to tell their story and trust the players to utilize it when they need to. I am certainly not suggesting that the Game Master should just say and do whatever they want, waiting for players to tell them otherwise. Instead, the Game Master can rest easy knowing that there is a device in place should the situation arise.
4) It’s In The Creative Commons
If you're like me, and you prefer to do things the legal way when it comes to purchasing and exchanging RPG material, fear not. The X-Card document is in the Creative Commons and may be shared freely. As a matter of fact, you can even incorporate it into an RPG of your own design as a mechanic if you so desire. You simply have to attribute the original author and share the work under the same license. This flexibility makes the X-Card easy to modify and use as you see fit, and you can also exchange the document with your gaming group with ease.
5) It's Great For Convention Games
If you're running a game at a convention, you're likely to run into all sorts of people. You'll be gaming with total strangers, which can make for some potentially uncomfortable encounters. While I would recommend staying away from touchy subjects at a convention table, it's still wise to utilize the this tool. This will avoid any miscommunication that could easily happen at a table with a group of gamers you've hardly met.
For many of us, gaming is about escapism; taking a moment to explore a world that never was and slay the proverbial dragon. Making sure that these moments together are safe and even empowering can be difficult to achieve. No tool works for every situation, but the X-Card certainly is helpful.
Nathan Carmen is the founder and head writer of the Indie RPG company, Tricky Troll Games. Nathan loves building worlds and improving his craft when he’s not busy parenting. Reach Nathan at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the TTG website at https://nathanccarmen.wixsite.com/trickytrollgames
Picture Reference: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SB0jsx34bWHZWbnNIVVuMjhDkrdFGo1_hSC2BWPlI3A/edit#
One of the trends in gaming lately has been trying out new mechanics and ways of resolving conflict. Suited takes the whole “using cards” thing to its logical conclusion and breaks out the playing cards to create a wacky, setting-adaptive system, excellent for one-shot adventures. The best part is that the system was developed in the best place ever to use playing cards: a road trip. Check out what designers Ted Pick Jr. and Erin Johnson had to say about the game below.
First, Suited looks like a blast, but it seems like the car ride that spawned it may not have been. Did you have the idea to work on a game before you set out, or did the deck of cards get you thinking?
The car ride itself actually was a lot of fun, Texas has a gorgeous countryside that is worth driving through if you get a chance. But to answer your question, we had discussed working on designing a tabletop game the night before the drive, and we decided to spend some of our time during the drive working on one. At the time we had just gotten our hands on a copy of WYRD'S "Through the Breach" which uses a card-based system, as opposed to dice, and we fell in love with that idea and couldn't figure out why there weren't more card-based game systems out there. So we started spit-balling ideas on how we could put together a Two-page RPG using card mechanics, and about 3 hours later we had the bare bones of Suited. Side note: We seem to do our best game creation while driving, over the course of two other drives we designed two completely new playsets that we are planning on releasing as stand-alones at some point.
You state in the sample document that one of the goals of the game was to keep it quick. What was your biggest challenge to keeping the pace of the game up?
The biggest challenge to keeping the game fast was in trying to keep everything slimmed down. There are volumes of games out there (that we love dearly) that have page upon page on game mechanics, enemies, weapons, and chapters detailing how to level your character. While these games are fun, we wanted to create a game that people could pick up, spend maybe 10-15 minutes reading over the rules, and then start playing. Originally we designed Suited for a Two-Page RPG challenge, but as we worked on it we realized that we could never fit everything on just two pages, and as we designed more playsets we had to add in a few more rules mechanics to accommodate actions that could occur in that setting, which then required trying to keep the rules slim enough to not slow down the game, but in-depth enough to do what they needed to do.
All of the missions are randomly assembled by the GM. What’s been your favorite combination, and what were some of the hijinks that ensued?
I think my favorite combination so far occurred in the Post Apocalypse Playset. The group in the Post Apocalypse game had gotten a world that was run by robot overlords. Working with them to design the world, we decided that it was a world where humans were cloned and used as batteries by the machines, but that some humans had gotten free, but they were dying off because the robots wiped the knowledge of how to reproduce from their genes. The item that the group started with was a VHS Tape and their mission was to Save The Information. So they decided the tape was a copy of Debby Does Dallas and the information they had to save was the way humans reproduced (as demonstrated in the tape). The downside was that the only way to copy the tape was controlled by the villain, Emperor Gor-Urs, so they had to make a dangerous trek across the land to his base and convince him to allow them to transfer the data and copy the VHS tape. They started in Guttown in a desert and immediately got into a scrap with some robot sentinels out looking for free humans. The group then had a run in with some free people hiding in an old scrapyard (The Dumps), and were then chased up into the Mountains where Emperor Gor-Urs lives by a Robot Hunting Pack. They successfully destroyed the pack, found Gor-Urs base, and convinced him to let them use his VHS copier. It was a blast!
In the free sample you have rules for noir, western, and post-apocalyptic settings, and you have announced rules for anthropomorphic animals, space exploration sci-fi, and wushu settings. Can you give a hint for future settings?
Our plans are to release two Pay-What-You-Want expansion packs, both with 3 new playsets, and then combine the two expansions and the free edition playsets into a high-quality full book that will be available for purchase on DriveThruRPG. So right now we have the six playsets you mentioned, and then another seven playsets planned for the core book that would range over all of the common settings people enjoy roleplaying, everything from 80's action hero to horror to high fantasy. We also have a couple of stand-alone playsets like I mentioned earlier that we will save for special events, kickstarter stretch goals, and the occasional April Fools release. One example of the stand-alones is a touring band simulator in the idea of Spinaltap/Airheads.
We cannot express how awesome it feels to have people looking over our works and playing our game, and if you haven't checked out the DriveThruRPG file lately, we released an updated version of Suited: Free Sample Edition last month with better graphics, and much nicer layout, and a slightly larger section on the rules mechanics of the game. We hope that you enjoy Suited, and should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to let us know!
Check out Suited here.
Phil Pepin is a history-reading, science-loving, head-banging, river-running nerd, who would like nothing more than to cuddle with his pups and wife.
Picture Reference: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/241178/Suited-Free-Sample-Edition
Before you begin reading this guide, I would like to formally make note of my identity. I am Balamast, Master Thief of the local thieves guild; some of you may know me as Fox Fingers and if you don’t, I am terribly disappointed. I have spent the last 20 years perfecting my craft and now I will give you the five most useful tips I can share to improve your skills. If you are not of the charismatic or dexterous among us, please stop reading and go learn how to be like the rest of the barbarians. Well, shall we begin?
1) Make Sure You Have A Silver Tongue
Not every problem can be solved with metal, sometimes you must use your charm to get away with things you otherwise wouldn't. You must obtain a silver tongue. To do this, practice speaking to all manners of people. Try convincing someone that you’re somebody you’re not. Start simple, pretend to be a merchant from a far away place seeking land to be purchased. The more you practice, the better you will get at speaking quickly; especially when you are caught off guard. This is by far your most valuable asset as it will save your life in a pinch. This skill allows you to learn information that will give you an edge in these situations.
2) Light On Your Feet
I can boldly assume you understand that being light on your feet is an important mechanic to becoming a good thief, right? Well, when it comes to running away from a caravan of guards who just caught you stealing from the king's cache, you bet that your not fighting them. Do what we thieves do best, RUN! Running isn’t just about beating your feet and controlling your breathing, it’s about fluidity of movement. We need to teach you how to fall from great heights, jump over railings, using alleyway walls to climb up onto a roof, the like. What I am getting at is that you need to go practice. Find some buildings to play around with, practice running as fast as you can, stretch your muscles and let it become not thought, but instinct. Eventually everything will become muscle memory and will be easily applicable where ever you go.
3) Know What You Are Dealing With
Every rookie thief has made this mistake in the past, going in blind. You must know at all times what you are dealing with and the repercussions of such. What I mean by this is that when you pick your target, who does it belong to, what kind of power do they hold, are you willing it take to risks if you get caught. There are lots of different people out in the world, you could be stealing from a powerful wizard and you just might end up becoming a toad for the rest of your measly existence. So do yourself a favor and study. Learn everything you can about what it is your after so you have the best chances of succeeding. I am friends with far too many toads now.
4) The Thieves Language
So, once we have our shinies and bobbles, where the hell do we go to sell them? Well, we must look for the marks. Have you learned thieves cant? We use this to mark places of interest under the naked eye of the city. We use it to communicate guard patterns, places to sell your stolen goods, jobs or even some useful items for any traveling thief. Thieves cant can also be used to communicate directly to others with slight hand gestures, that's how group jobs are performed, we do it without saying a word. So keep an eye out for these markings throughout the cities, you will be surprised by what might turn up.
5) Last Resort
I always put this as my last lesson when it comes to teaching thieves. I am not a believer in killing, nor do I condone what ever acts you take outside of these teachings. But, as a thief you must be able to play dirty, a good majority of us are not tough fighters. I would always say run first but at some point in your career your going to be surrounded. Step one is to take a good hard look at your surroundings, see what you can use to advantage. Whether it be sand to throw in their faces or a rock to hide behind. Find a way to get in between the armor. Exploit weaknesses when possible, i guarantee you will always be able to out fight a man in plate. Exhaust him by dodging his attacks and when an opportunity arises go for it. We thieves tend to excel at knowing the human body allowing us to perform what I like to call “Sneak Attacks”; I am clever. Basicly pointing your blade into a weak point of the body, this tends to be more difficult with bigger weapons so we tend to stick with the knife.
Thank you for taking the time in reading this guide as I hope it helps you achieve your goals and dreams of obtaining whatever it is your after. Remember to speak well, be nimble as a fox, learn about your target, know our language and when you have nothing else know how to fight. I do not run an assassins guild so if you get in trouble for murder, understand that purchasing this document holds me under no legalities of your actions.
Benjamin Witunsky, artist, writer and nerd savant. Cofounder of the NerdMantle Podcast available on Soundcloud, Itunes and Google Play Music.
Picture provided by the author
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.