The Boiling Brine, an inland sea on the planet Iblis Prime via
For the past 28 sessions, I have been GMing a Warhammer 40k Rogue Trader game for my home group. At the end of our last story arc, the players were rewarded with the rights to a colony on a newly discovered (though presently populated) planet outside of the Imperium of Man.
Rather than give them a data dump of information and plot hooks I created, I made a session out of planet creation. I leveraged the World Generator system from Chapter 1 of the Stars of Inequity supplement, and players took turns rolling skill checks to research or investigate the planet and its system. Based on the success of their skill rolls, I granted them some leeway to choose off of the random tables from Stars of Inequity. If they failed, I chose nastier results.
After randomizing the characteristics of the planet, we set about filling in the details of some major factions of the city, creating a slew of potential allies and adversaries as they set off to make their mark for the Imperium of Man. I’ve included the results of our session as a (mostly) ready-to-play location for your Rogue Trader game, which can be easily adapted for other settings.
Mass combat, via
Last week’s Unearthed Arcana covered Mass Combat for the second time since the series launched at the beginning of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Behind only the Ranger class, it is the second most-covered subject of the series, meaning D&D’s designers feel there is a gap in players’ expectations and the rules as written.
Frankly, I don’t care much for either entry, as both sets of rules offer too much unnecessary crunch to a game that’s elegant and streamlined. I don’t have any particular gripe with the rules they’ve presented (though they’re more complicated than just using a swarm, for no real benefit), but rather with the fact that any rules are presented at all. Simply put: most RPGs, including D&D, don’t need them. However, this latest Unearthed Arcana does capture the most important element for running exciting mass combats, buried in the very final section: Critical Events. An RPG should focus on the moments where the characters’ actions influence the direction of the story most, and these inflection points–Critical Events, in the parlance of the UA article–should be the point of focus for the rules and the Gamemaster.
To illustrate this thesis, think of the Trojan War. It’s a story that has been retold a thousand times, but can you recall anything about troop formations or the tide of the broad battle at any given point? The Greeks attacked and the Trojans held firm. Alternatively, think of the battle between Hector and Patroclus; Hector famously slew Patroclus, believing he was Achilles for he had donned Achilles’ armor. Achilles, on learning of Patroclus’ demise, entered the battle in earnest and turned the tide in the Greeks’ favor. More to the point, if you were retelling the story at a tabletop, would you rather focus attention on the minute movements and formations of the regular Greeks and Trojans, or on the epic duel that led to the entry of the Greek’s greatest champion and, ultimately, the demise of Troy? To borrow from the silver screen, would you rather focus on the naval battle around the Second Death Star, or the Millennium Falcon’s bombing run into its core?
Posted in Dungeons & Dragons, Game Design Dungeon, Homebrew, Mundangerous
Tagged 5E, d&d, Design, dnd, Dungeons and Dragons, Mass Combat, RPG, Unearthed Arcana
Lately–as I’ve mentioned on the Total Party Thrill podcast–I’ve been running a Warhammer 40k Rogue Trader game using Fantasy Flight Games’ Dark Heresy Second Edition system. Rather than members of the Inquisition, as Dark Heresy is designed for, the player characters make up the crew of a Rogue Trader vessel. We had to lightly reskin and reflavor a few items, but it has been an overall smooth conversion, but one mechanic has stuck in my craw since the first game of Dark Heresy we ran in 2014: item acquisition.
This is not the Unearthed Arcana you’re looking for… via
Homebrew Challenge is an occasional column in which we develop a homebrew solution for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition in order to create additional player options, actions, or abilities. We discuss the challenge, the solution, the design principles we employed and ideas that we rejected, and the areas of concern that Dungeon Masters should keep an eye on.
The Challenge: Group Casting
The idea that a group of casters can combine their power into a single spell is as old as magic. It shows up in fiction in various forms, from Shakespeare’s witches in Macbeth to a variety of psykers, heretics, and cultists in the Warhammer 40k universe. The goal here is straightforward: create a mechanic by which two spellcasters can combine their spells to achieve a greater net effect. Continue reading