Sunday, October 23, 2011
Dragon #184, Zephyr
I saw this last night while flipping through some scans and decided I would write about another magazine. I try to limit these. It was odd that this was the one I found because there has been some recent talk on villains and not so long ago about being a good GM. This issue has articles on both of these topics as well as a few others.
The issues first article is "Courts and Courtiers" and it deals with NPCs for royal courts. It provides a list of possible unique personalities that one might find in the court. It also suggests using the "Foils" article in Dragon #136 which I will have to check out. It then provides a random chart for court activities and a rather extensive list of expert hirelings that could be connected with the court as well as their costs. If you game involved nobles in any way this will be information to check out.
The next article deals with giving the evil NPCs an even break. There are some great tips here to make even the most basic of bad guys more challenging for a party. It focuses on spell casters but then who doesn't include an evil magic user or cleric in a dungeon now and then. Most of the spells are low level and in some cases involve turning tricks players use back upon themselves which I have always been a favor of. I always told players if you can have or do it then the bad guys can as well.
The next article was one that really struck a cord with me. I hate the fact that in many sessions I have played in even the important NPCs end up being nothing more that stat blocks. The most memorable events in my gaming history are where there was role and roll playing involved. It puts for the idea of the seven sentence NPC. I am going to sue this for every NPC I need to create from now on. The DM should write a single sentence describing NPC for each of the seven topics. I will list the seven topics below which I hope does not violate copyright. I will quote one of the samples they provide as well.
Occupation & History
Attributes & Skills
Values & Motivations
Interaction With Others
"Baron "Wardog" Muckdigger is the lord of a small land holding in east Sembia, of which he is the seventh heir. He is a short man, clean shaven with a very upright posture. Wardog is a 9th-level fighter famous for his incredible stamina (Con 18) and his leadership abilities (Cha 15), as well as his alleged ability at musical composition (his works are described as being more like the sounds of war than actual music). Beside composing music, the baron's greatest love is war, and he will use almost any excuse to take up arms against anyone he thinks might prove an interesting adversary. The baron has a rather blunt and direct way of dealing with people, but mixes it with enough charm to avoid being abusive. He knows a lot about military tactics, different military organizations and how to defeat them, but virtually nothing about the back-room politics in Sembia (or music, for that matter). The baron always talks in a loud voice with his head stuck right in your face, so you can smell the heavy garlic on his breath."
The next article deals with villains, as opposed to simple NPCs, in your campaign. The article calls them reoccurring NPCs but what is a villain but that. The "good" villain is the one that though perhaps thwarted finds a way to escape and return again. They will also need to be fleshed out being something more than a stat block. Using the Seven Sentence platform above would be a great start but perhaps make it a paragraph on each. It is also possible that what starts out as a NPC will become the villain through happenstance. The villain does not even need to be one that the party is trying to kill but one that has motivations opposed to that of the party or one of the players. The article does a much better job than me in describing this and I think any DM should give it a read.
The last article of note in the magazine was "The Referee's Code of Honor". It deals with some rules that will help with the relationship between the DM and the players. This will help make the DM and the campaign better. Some of the rules I might tweak but then maybe I am not as good a DM as I think I am. Below are those rules but if you are a DM give the full article a read.
1) Always treat your players with respect.
2) Never take a character away from a player.
3) Don't take on more than you can handle.
4) Be reliable outside the game.
5) Make the game fun for the players and yourself.
6) Take pride in your work and also in the group.
The rest of the magazine is full of normal features and a piece of fiction. There were also a high volume of advertisements in the magazine. I have put forth that there was a decline in the overall quality of Dragon over time. This one hit on some high notes but the ads occupy more space than the articles or seem to at least. In the end this is an issue to own for the articles I describe. It can be picked up for a few bucks or perhaps less if bought in a lot so give it a look over.
Duration: One Day
Area of Effect: 1 Target/Level
Casting Time: 2 Rounds
Saving Throw: None
With this spell the magic user allows for a greatly increased movement rate. The spell is intended to used outdoors though there might be some instances where it would work in a subterranean environment.
The spell will allow the targets to travel at a speed that will allow them to travel a distance that would take them a week in just one day. The distance traveled will be lessened if there are any delays or obstacles that take more than a few rounds along the way. The spell will also eliminate the chance for random encounters as the speed being traveled out will make encounters unlikely.
The spell can target both those on foot and those mounted. The caster can mix these as desired though the travel rate for each target is based individually on their normal travel rate. The spell will not allow the use of wheeled transports as the vehicles will not be affected by the magic and will not hold up. This spell can be cast in an aquatic environment as well as on land.
The use of this spell is limited though as it puts a serious strain on the target. After use of this spell the target must rest two full days before it can be used again. If used mounted there is nothing to prevent the use of fresh mounts though.
Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the 80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :) Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.
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