Saturday, 30 October 2010

three things: necromantic prosthetics

Ghost-Touched Eye - This pale, milky-white eye will when inserted into an empty socket graft itself in place permanently causing incredible pain (treat as nauseated) for one round.  Afterwards, the eye sees normally and enables the wearer to see things that are out of phase or in the Ethereal plane by concentration to a distance of 120 feet. Someone with a ghost-touched eye still needs other magics to interact with things in the Ethereal but sometimes, forewarned is forearmed.
Market Value: 80,000gp
Creation: Caster level 9th, Create Wondrous Item, Heal 8+ ranks, true seeing.

Hand of Bloody Bones - This hand is skeletal and always dripping with dark blood, it activates when it is attached to the stump of an arm.  The hand is considered to have Strength 15 and can claw as a +1 weapon for 1d4 damage.  By smearing some of the blood along an slashing weapon then wielding it (a full-round action), the hand grants that weapon the wounding property until it is dropped by the wielder.  The hand of bloody bones smells of freshly-spilled blood, causing problems in certain situations (DM's discretion).
Market Value: 5000gp
Creation: Caster level 10th, Create Wondrous Item, spectral hand, vampiric touch.

Ghoul's Teeth - This set of teeth is activated by carefully affixing them against the gums, if the user had normal teeth, they all fall out.  They give the wearer a bite attack similar to that of a ghoul, inflicting 1d6 damage and forcing a Fortitude save (DC12) or causing paralysis for 1d6+2 rounds.  The downside is the elongated canines and thicker molars deform the face and lead to drooling, causing a -2 penalty to Charisma checks and Charisma-based skill checks.
Market Value: 20,000gp
Creation: Caster level 6th, Create Wondrous Item, Heal skill 8+ ranks, ghoul's touch

This content comes under the Open Gaming Licence v1.0

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

field of dreams - review: coliseum morpheuon

Coliseum Morpheuon by Rite Publishing
Metric: Nightmares (from the Khaaaaaan!!!). Got that out the way.  Now to business!
DISCLAIMER: This review is based on PDF copy provided by Rite Publishing with supporting map packs and paper miniatures.

Overall: 3.75 nightmares.  This is a book of two halves. Good ingredients with new rules, spells, feats and traits strewn among NPCs and monsters.  Nagging slips in organisation, mechanics bloat and chibi-esque artwork tarnish good stuff wrapped in Jason Rainville's gorgeous cover.  Canny GMs have lots to love with floorplans and riddles as well as quirky settings, fun encounters and memorable NPCs if they adequately prepare.  Fans of the Rule of Cool will be squeeing hard.

4 nightmares (5 nightmares in parts).
The introduction starts off a bit stiff but kicks up a notch as things turn to the Plane of Dreams, lovechild of Lovecraft's Dreamlands and the old World of Darkness Dreaming.  I like the setting and the gazetteer provides thumbnail sketches of various places to go and people to see along with some exquisite surreal art. 

The Dreamburning rules are reminiscent of White Wolf's Wraith or Evil Hat's Don't Rest Your Head. Creating a threat for high-level characters is a nice idea - attacking what drives them makes it different.  Mechanically there are assorted feat-like traits but repairing dreams requires serious magic or sacrificing others and their dreams.  There's no way good characters can inspire hope (or Hope). The mechanics are thematically consistent with the Coliseum's setting and explains the attitude of many major NPCs.  A table summarising the Dreamburning options (and other feats) would be very helpful.

An outline of what kinds of creatures live in the Plane of Dreams including new monsters like the chittering dream eater, malevolent denizens of Leng, oneirobound slaves who weave things from dreamstuff and predatory qarnjthak lends a more Dreamlands cast to the setting.  I'd have liked more creatures here but the Coliseum and Appendixes scratch that itch later.

Then the Coliseum itself, drawing on hints of Alighieri's Divine Comedy, early Bas-Lag, late Melnibone and the Village from The Prisoner.  The history of the Coliseum is outlined with it's origins as domain for the nigh-omnipotent Khan of Nightmares.  Now the Coliseum is a melting pot for the denizens of Dream, populated by primal entities, mechanical monsters, otherworldly opponents and feckless fey.  Some read like using a large hadron collider on monster templates.  For example the Hounds of Ill-Prophecy, tiefling were-Nessian hellhounds with levels.  This aside, there's interesting folk - the Queen of Thistles, the Pasha of Swirling Ashes, Deuce of Clubs and the Khan of Nightmares make memorable encounters.  Lady Puzzledeep is a gem showing how conflicting motivations can elevate a character.  All the major NPCs also have Dreamburning options so they can join in the fun.  Fans of Planescape will certainly approve.

Then a series of enjoyable riddles before Chapters 6 - 8 take you into the Coliseum proper; that second half I mentioned.   The Trials of the Damnation Epoch range from sublime to deadly and end in a very high-stakes game of King of the Mountain (yes even at 16th - 20th level!) before a series of proposed encounter structures in which the preceding pages suddenly make a lot more sense. Encounter setups make individual elements flow and offer staging tips and battlemaps.  Putting Chapter 10 (Secrets of the Coliseum) between Chapters 6 and 7 would offer a layered look at plots enmeshing the Coliseum and it's characters.  There are battlemap expansions for the encounters that are worth looking into including MapTool files - a nice touch acknowledging the presence of Internet-run games.  Jonathan Roberts again excels in his cartography.

Appendixes include NPC antagonists and potential characters who provide a benchmark.   Everything you need to play is here. GMs seeking continuity could use this after Paizo's Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path by using both products' ties to Leng.

3 nightmares.  While the cover and internal art by Jason Rainville is beautiful, elements are liberally recycled particularly as cameos for boxed text.  Minor NPCs get miniature-type artwork.  Personally I think the contrast jarring, even though the miniature artists provide art for both Rite Publishing and Paizo.  Maybe I'm being picky but it seems to detract from the visual appeal of an otherwise fine product.

Overall, this is good stuff.  It needs polish, an index for all the crunch would have been nice and the Dreamburning rules look balanced but maybe need their own indie game to truly shine.  High-level Pathfinder adventures are not exactly a common commodity and the re-usability of the Plane of Dreams and the Coliseum as a setting makes it worthwhile for those high-levellers who've been there, done that.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

alchemist alternatives: poisoner

I recently reviewed Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist and mentioned an extra archetype or two would be appreciated. Alchemists are a strong mix of short-range offence, personal buffing and potion manufacture and Secrets expands those options further. So here's a classic archetype that will give a games master a twist on the alchemist and a ready-made villain for heroes to curse.

"Here's a little something for what ails you."
The poisoner makes a good villain for your Pathfinder campaign as they use dark methods. While more insidious than most, they can drop bombs like any alchemist worth their saltpetre. Starting poisoners take risks like anyone else but soon become less susceptible to their own tools. There are bombs for undead and poison-resistant inconveniences, the poisoner becomes a terrifying foe at higher levels.  Their skills makes them effective in treating comrades (including clerics) and providing support in the wilderness as well as the alchemist staples of providing potions and - of course - poisons.  Any race can pick this build - poisoners are a pervasive evil.

Abilities: Dex 13+ Con 13+
Skills: Craft (Alchemy), Heal, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (Nature), Sleight of Hand, Survival.

1st. Frugal Crafting feat 1
2nd. Smoke bomb discovery
3rd. Great Fortitude feat
4th. Stink bomb discovery, +1 Intelligence
5th. Master Alchemist feat
6th. Sticky poison discovery
7th. Point Blank Shot feat
8th. Concentrate poison discovery, +1 Wisdom
9th. Precise Shot feat
10th. Frost bomb discovery
11th. Advanced Alchemy feat 1
12th. Poison bomb discovery, +1 Intelligence
13th. Reliable Bombs feat
14th. Delayed bomb discovery
15th. Rapid Shot feat
16th. Elixir of life discovery, +1 Wisdom
17th. Opportunity Shot feat 1
18th. Extend potion discovery
19th. Improved Greater Fortitude
20th. Grand Discovery (Poison Touch), inferno bomb, eternal potion.

1 - feat in Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist

Formulae that work well with this build include:
1st: bomber's eye, crafter's fortune, cure light wounds, disguise self, expeditious retreat, true strike
2nd: bear's endurance, blur, cure moderate wounds, restoration, transmute potion to poison, undetectable alignment
3rd: absorbing touch, cure serious wounds, displacement, heroism, nondetection, remove disease,
4th: cure critical wounds, death ward, detonate, fluid form, neutralize poison, restoration, stoneskin
5th: delayed consumption, dream, magic jar, nightmare, polymorph, sending
6th: eyebite, heal, mislead, shadow walk, true seeing, wind walk

Saturday, 23 October 2010

inns & taverns: the twopenny crow

The Twopenny Crow is a riverside inn and ferry to a forlorn island graveyard.  A sprawling cruciform bungalow with attached stable and rose garden, it's sign is a two-headed crow with spread wings.  The bungalow and stable is made of whitewashed cement with dark-stained beams and decorated shutters and doors.  The stable is quiet and a pair of black cart horses rest in two of the stalls.  A stand of yew trees shelters the inn from wind decorated with bright scraps of red and yellow fabric while a rowan and a blackthorn form an arch for travellers to shelter under.

Inside the inn is coloured autumn.  The walls are yellowed by pipeweed smoke or painted crimson, indigo  orange.  The beams are carved with ornate flower and leaf patterns.  Painted tiles of crows, scarecrows and various flowers hang between tallow lamps.  The furniture is lower set than usual, concession to numerous halfling patrons.  There are two main rooms, a large communal bar with tables and chairs arranged in orderly rows with a clear space for people to stand and talk and a smaller lounge with tables and chairs closer to the walls.  Those wanting food are encouraged to go to the lounge.

There is a variety of drinks available - a dark reddish beer with floral hints and bittersweet aftertaste unique to the house and at least three other beers as well as cyser, cornwine, a ferocious sloe gin, a bittersweet rowan spirit and in winter, mulled spiced cyser and a floral mead. For food there are a variety of pastries with seasonal fillings from spiced meats with parsnip and onion to a sticky apple and blackberry mixture.  Fresh bread and hard cheese is available with a generous dollop of dark, sticky and spicy elderberry and onion pickle.  This is particularly loved by the halflings who always try to learn the recipe from the landlord, Ebur.

Ebur is the rock the Crow rests on. An excellent cellarman, skilled carpenter and undertaker, his ordered mind and strong baritone quells most outbursts. He leaves the bar work to his younger sister, Iola - herself a herbalist of repute.  Both Ebur and Iola lost their spouses to the war and visit the island on quiet days to grieve.  Sometimes, Ebur will be called on to act as an undertaker.  Not much escapes the attention of these two who somehow instinctively side with the wrongfully accused and who find themselves helping put wrongs right, often with the help of itinerant adventurers.  This has led to the Crow being avoided by local sherrifs until things are getting out of hand.

The ferry to the island graveyard is operated by a pair of brothers.  One is blind (though his hearing is formidable), the other is mute.  Both are staunchly loyal to Ebur whose quick thinking saved them both from being eaten alive by ghouls.  Though the island is now cleared of undead, the brothers maintain a steadfast vigil and both carry swords and horns that are sounded in the event of unnatural activity on the island or from the river.  If the horns sound, all of the locals will come running - past incidents have involved attacks from ghouls and other undead raised by fugitive necromancers or evil cults.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

apologetics now - the softback revolution

The paradox of choice bedevils those confronted by variety.  Exponents of world cuisine buffets know this.  It was a similar situation for 4E D&D players, a profusion of classes and builds for each class made for tricky choices modified by races, hybrid characters and more.  Add options in additional core books, core classes in non-core books (Et tu, Swordmage?) and a steady stream of errata.  Then add D&D Insider with exclusive tools and character classes including the Assassin. The overhead for the game is significant despite potential re-use and proved intimidating to new players.

So this year Wizards released D&D Essentials Red Box as a gateway to the hobby.  This is a good thing.  Other Essential boxes are forthcoming (Heroes of the Fallen Lands, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, DM's Toolkit and Monster Vault) to expand the horizons of new players. Maybe less endearing for those who've already invested in 4E are scheduled Essentials products.  Bill Slaviscek explains in a recent Ampersand column.

We're not talking about anything earth-shattering; rather, numbers have been tweaked here and there to make creatures more challenging, or powers have been given more interesting and dynamic effects.

Of course this tweaking extends to player characters - the slayer and knight are versions of the great weapon and guardian fighter. The new build for the druid goes further, losing the wild shape class feature.  While Core Rules and Essentials are compatible, it's clear Essentials is the future for D&D which may annoy those who invested in the last bookshelf.

Future releases include in February 2011, the Class Compendium: Heroes of Sword and Spell which converts five classes in the 4E Player's Handbook (cleric, fighter, rogue,  warlord and wizard) into Essentials format.  March 2011's Players' Options: Heroes of Shadow brings the once-exclusive assassin, the necromancer and the hexblade to the table.  Other Essential softbacks with the remaining classes will probably follow - Class Compendium: Heroes of Legend appeas a likely candidate.

As for that simplified game promised by the new Red Box?  Enjoy while it lasts.  There's a whole new bookshelf on the way!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

rpg books on lulu you say? buyer beware!

The Underdark Gazette has seen a bunch of Wizards of the Coast books appearing on Lulu. Apart from some 4E books, there's also Lords of Madness miniatures.  Wait, what?  Being naturally cynical, I went to go have a look and corroborate this with Wizards and Ingram Book Group who were also mentioned.  Neither site refers to it.  In addition there are other books appearing.  Books from Mongoose Publishing for example.  Or are they?

Companies like Green Ronin and White Wolf are using Lulu to publish and distribute books. Clearly the examples I've mentioned in the previous paragraph are not doing so.  Doubtless there's going to be another backlash against using established technologies.  If you're a tabletop RPG company and you're not using Lulu, it may be worth checking to see if someone is.


Wednesday, 13 October 2010

recession-proof gaming XI: embodiment of free

So the financiapocalypse still rumbles on. Gaming is still going on and the quality of free stuff out there gets better and better. If you needed any evidence of this, take a look at the links below and maybe try a few at your table. Incidentally if you have a free (as in free) game or game-related thing you want to spread the word about let me know in the comments!

d20 Freebies - Courtesy of Paizo.  Download and review!  Thanks to Geek Related for the tip off.
Project Aon - Joe Dever's Lone Wolf game books and setting books for Magnamund.  Inspirational stuff and a nice collection of solo-based game books as well.

Age of Shadow - An OpenQuest game (BRP retro-clone) with Tolkien overtones and no divine magics.  Thanks to @ubiquitousrat for the tip-off and Sorceror Under Mountain for being the kindly uncle on this.
Hell for Leather - Quick pick-up game of dice towers and extreme violence in the veins of Running Man and Battle Royale.  If you like this, take a look at the game at Cobweb Games.  
Old School Hack has the Winter 2010 playtest version up.

Floorplans & Maps
RPGmapshare - Maps and map objects for personal use.  Thanks to NewbieDM.

Labyrinth Lord Character Generator - Elegant and really quite nice for those pick-up demo games.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

living by numbers

Today is a somewhat unusual day if you believe the symbology of numbers holds some significance.  The tenth day of the tenth month of the tenth year.  What does that mean?  There are also five complete weekends (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) this month, an event that happens every 823 years.  So make the most of them. Unique events - weddings, environmental activism and even events celebrating numerical significance though that last seems a bit meta.  Still, not every day is Doomsday, is it?
Courtesy of Mark A. Mandel

A sense of order in a chaotic universe is  comforting.  The objective of a calendar is to bring order and where these things change, other things follow.  The world doesn't always fit neatly into a numerical model - witness leap years as a hack to get around that.  Of course if you change the rules, as Pope Gregory XIII did to try and keep Easter where it should be, there will be differences of opinion - and in RPGs, often that kind of philosophical difference leads to a fight. 

This is easily transplanted into a game as long as consistency is applied.  Perhaps a particular calendar day is favoured by one or more divine powers.  Celestial events may be ordained to occur and certain numbers may hold arcane significance.  The plot hooks that can be spawned from this are multifarious - want to foil an evil ritual?  You need to be there on this date.  This builds a sense of tradition and permanence as long as the events are observed in the game. There is little point having all this neat stuff if your players don't see it.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

inns & taverns: the angel under the hill

Some dungeons never die, they just get repurposed.  This is true of The Angel Under The Hill, a roadside inn that was a former abandoned shrine.  Not much is known of this new inn - while certain locals drink there, most do not believing it disrespectful to those once worshipped there.  The fence around the inn holds a courtyard and small stable, the sign is the rear view of a winged man holding up a ceiling.  The inn is recessed into the hillside with a pair of columns flanking the ironbound oak door.  The stable is manned by a polite yet brisk groom who charges two silver for it's use and considerably more for overnight care.  The horses however will get one of the best treatments in a stable it has ever experienced.

Inside, the main hall of the inn is lit by smoky tapers.  The walls are dressed stone with hand-sized iron grilles to disperse smoke and allow the air in.  Pride of place is given to the large tapestry of an angel, whose face is obscured, wields a flaming sword against a green dragon.  The floor is a mosaic of an angel with a blazing sword.  The angel's face is obscured as the mosaic tiles are fused together by some great heat.  A raised stone hearth blazes cheerily at all hours and a long wooden bench resting on barrels serves as a bar.  Of the shrine's other trappings, there appears to be little evidence.  The main hall can hold twenty in comfort among five square tables.  Four smaller private chambers from the main room seat four in comfort, six at a pinch. 

The inn sells a russet ale that travels indifferently and has come some distance to be here.  There is however, a good red wine and measures of a fortified port-wine (called martasblode) available.  Slices of salted pork, rolled pork meatloaf served with pickled parsnips, a spicy mushroom and onion stew and a hard, flavourful cheese round out the menu. Prices are reasonable and quality is good except for the beer.  The landlord tends bar and will happily pay for better beer.  Though an inexperienced brewer he is an excellent cook able to turn beans and hard-tack biscuits palatable though he has few talents beyond this and running the Angel smoothly - his wife and son serve ale and tend to the accommodation of guests.  Though he knows the Angel is a former shrine, he will not give up it's use without significant coin.

Accommodation is offered - twelve austere rooms with single straw cots and covered chamberpots that to monastic residents will feel just like home.  Others will find them small and slightly uncomfortable but dry, warm and clean.  The walls are whitewashed and scrubbed clean, those moving the bed however will find tally marks on the wall.  Tallow tapers are made available for those who need them as is a bowl of water heated by a poker.  There are no other decorations and the acoustics in these rooms are exceptional as the walls between each room are five feet thick.  The Angel has numerous chambers deeper than this accessible by a stair behind the bar.  Here the landlord keeps pigs, an extensive mushroom and vegetable farm as well as a larder and kitchen.  There is a brewery but this is haunted by mold and beerstone, a professional would need weeks to return it to a fitting place for the manufacture of beer.

There are currently no threats of invasion or secret passages, much to the chagrin of adventurers who visit the Angel Under The Hill although the tapestry contains some interesting references to the location of a dragon's hoard (reputedly the dragon slain by the angel) though spotting them requires a keen eye and knowledge of the weaver's trade.  A tunnelling monster would probably be the only thing that could encourage the landlord to surrender this inn to someone else beyond using more extreme measures.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

the phantom isles

From the voyages of Maelduin and St. Brendan to the Crocker Land Expedition, islands observed then lost to later travellers persist. While sailors are cast as unreliable witnesses and prone to tall tales, phantom islands persist in adventure stories even where the world is mostly known. In some cases it may be a simple case of mistaken navigation, where a fog bank or sand bar is mistaken for something more substantial.

Other circumstances have fantastic explanations like the leviathans of old; the Old English Fastitocalon mentioned by Tolkien in Tom Bombadil or the zaratan catalogued in Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings and later in al-Qadim. Others may be wreathed in enchanted mist like Hy-Brasil, set to appear when the stars are right. Though that phrase may indicate a seagoing encounter with a more horrific outcome of course.

All are opportunities for adventures. Misplaced navigation may take an expedition into a new world. Yet other errors are introduced by map makers, intended to flatter the courtly patrons of expeditions or deceive the gullible. When these maps hold promises of wealth or new lands, adventurers are drawn like moths to flame. And in many of the worlds we explore, there be dragons.

Monday, 4 October 2010

strange brew - review: advanced feats: the witches brew

Metric: Cauldrons.  It's traditional.
4.5 cauldrons. Comprehensive introduction to witches in Pathfinder's Advanced Players Guide, a feast of feats that expands character options for witches, spellcasters and for other classes as well as class builds based on three classic witch archetypes. 
This review used a PDF provided by Open Design.

Content: 4.5 cauldrons.  Witches Brew takes a slightly different tack to Secrets of the Alchemist, introducing the witch class rather than assume prior knowledge.  It focusses on versatility and parallels between it and the current magus playtest can be drawn.  The witch offers a mixture of magics and this versatility makes it both powerful and a frustrating one for those used to narrow focus.

The feast of feats here range from the witch specific (linked resistance) to those applicable to spellcasters (guarded casting) and beyond to any class (robust health).  Sigfried Trent's capability in taking the feat system in different directions provides a GM will a toolkit from which numerous games can be woven - using item focus to create wizards with bejewelled tomes of arcane power for example.  Some checks and balances will need to be applied and the facility to swap feats in and out as a character develops is suggested here to develop versatility without being tied to feat trees.  There are a couple of feats that stand tweaking - seduction could eliminate it's overt sexuality instead cultivating favour and jealousy (like Sauron/Annatar in The Silmarillion) but if you're OK with wicked witches vamping it up, it'll do, pig, it'll do.

The builds are classic witch.  The arch-witch as tactical counterspeller, magical misdirector and wizardly foil is terrific, the white witch provides a flavourful healer/buffer and the wicked witch is just that.   Another build would have gone beyond the classic poses and made this brilliant - maybe an elemental-based witch showcasing patron magics. 

Layout: 5 cauldrons.  The cover art by Christophe Swal shows a cowled male witch bedecked with scrolls, tattoos and talismans, a sloshing tankard of ale and booted foot resting on a barrel of ale.  A subtle challenge, evoking femininity without being feminine.  Inside, magic circles lurk behind the text and all text is clear and readable.  Bookmarks for sections enable efficient use and if Secrets of the Alchemist was a bit rough, this is polished smooth.

In closing this is excellent stuff and for the price sets a high bar for PDFs to beat.  Witch characters get new toys (familiars get a deserved boost) and their GMs have a lot of toys to play with.  More like this please.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

three things: magical masks

Aspect of Order - This jade mask of a face with a guarded expression enhances use of lawful magic while worn. Spells with a lawful descriptor gain +1 to their DCs to save against and the caster gains +1 to caster checks to defeat spell resistance.  While worn, the wearer has a lawful aura with it's power determined by their level.
Market Value: 2500gp
Creation: Caster level 6th, Create Wondrous Item, Spell Penetration, magic circle vs. chaos.

Dread Visage - This wrought iron and jet mask of a sneering, saturnine face enhances the use of evil magic while worn.  Spells with an evil descriptor gain +1 to their DCs to save against and when worn, the caster gains +1 to caster checks to defeat spell resistance.  While worn, the wearer has an aura of evil with it's power determined by their level.
Market Value: 2500gp
Creation: Caster level 6th, Create Wondrous Item, Spell Penetration, magic circle vs. good.

Facade of Chaos - This oddly-stained cloth mask has bone buttons for eyes positioned below the eye holes and ragged strips for hair and hiding the mouth so the wearer appears to have a bearded, scrunched up face with four eyes.  Trying to use Spellcraft to identify what the wearer is casting is difficult (a +5 to DC) but it's effect on magic is unpredictable.  Spells with a chaotic descriptor get +1 to their saving throw DCs.  All other spells modify by their DC by 1d3-1 (a roll of 1 means the DC is lowered by 1).
Market Value: 1250gp.
Creation: Caster level 6th, Create Wondrous Item, Spell Penetration, magic circle vs. law.

This content is created under the terms of the Open Gaming Licence.

Friday, 1 October 2010

carnival round-up: preparation

This month's RPG Blog Carnival is at it's logical conclusion.    Plenty of people writing games with the new academic year and long nights drawing in and it's Read An RPG Book in Public Week.  Preparation seems to be a lost art yet what's missing in quantity is made up for in quality.

Compromise and Conceit offers an example session prep for a mystical alternate America. Detailed plans and giving everyone something to do makes this a good example of planning collaborative play.

Pen and The Sword suggests Triage as a solution for preparation for those GMs blessed with a surfeit of stuff to put in their game, offering a seven-step plan to reap an excellent game from the chaos.

Monsters and Manuals warns us to Be Prepared while planning a WWII zombie survival game on the Eastern Front with lost German POWs using Cyberpunk 2020s Friday Night Firefight rules.

Nuketown shows how to run a game in 60 minutes with a prepared GM's kit and points us to an example of how to prepare using a three-page manifesto.

Campaign Mastery shows how flowcharts can be used to help plan and prepare games, providing examples of how to structure an evening's session.

Time for the carnival to leave town but for some, the preparation continues...
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