Precious little darlings

I appear to have launched myself into something along a 12 days of Christmas run of daily blog posts. It was not intentional, it just sort of happened.

Today I would like your help.

What I want to do, over the next 12 months is produce at least ten 1st to 3rd level adventures. I would like to avoid the cliches of “You are guards on a wagon train”. I have the inspiration for two.

The first has the characters start as passengers on a ship carrying food. The town they land and disembark at is in the grip of a harsh winter and the people are starving. The ship they were on is full of food stuffs and that is loaded into wagons and carted out of the town. All the while there is an angry and starving mob being held back by soldiers. The town is quite obviously on the verge of food riots. A fellow passenger who is obviously quite affluent joins the characters on the gang plank and casually says that the characters had better join him in his carriage as that mob looks like it could turn ugly. From there the characters get invited to stay with the local land owner, who is quite obviously not starving and is really quite obnoxious and make jokes about the peasants being revolting and how he would drown the ring leaders in the harbour if he didn’t need them to work the fields in the spring. From there I can offer the characters several adventure hooks around the rebels trying to overthrow the unjust land owner, the cause for the unexplained harsh winter (defiling a sacred place), the town erupting into riots and the characters having to rescue an innocent.

The second one involves the heroes arriving at a village where they learn that rogues are blocking the road ahead and demanding tolls. That is their opening encounter but along the way they meet a druidic type woman that has her own mission to find a unicorn that has been sighted in this area. There is a back story to the lady who is trying to find an antidote to a magical poison, thus the need for the unicorn. She wants to ask the unicorn to allow her to wash its horn with purified water and use the water as the base of her antidote. This figure serves as patron to the characters and a source of healing.

So the reason I want to create all these starter adventures is all Ken Wickham’s ‘fault’. If we are going to get RMU in 2019 then Ken is quite right in that we need starter adventures. I want to include a 1st to 3rd level adventure in the fanzine each month. The longer that RMU takes to arrive means that there will be a greater stock of starting adventures. We can even offer new GMs a choice of adventures, imagine that!

It is a long time since I have had to write beginner adventures but anything that helps make RMU a success is a good thing as far as I am concerned!

As per normal the statting of these adventures will be to the limit of what I can get away with. It does mean that they will be playable in any version of RM but the finer details of NPCs, for example, will fall upon the GM to create.

p.s. There are bonus brownie points if you can work the top image into an adventure. It is entitles “I will protect you!”, it actually has three exclamation marks but I thought that was excessive.

28 Replies to “Precious little darlings”

  1. I plan to clean up my RMU starter adventure too in the next little while. But with two young kids at home, I have had a hard time meeting any deadlines!

    1. I think the more sources of starter adventures the better. I cannot foresee there being an imminent singularity.

      Incidentally, I got the impression that you were away on vacation, should the young kids be at home on their own?

  2. I suspect Hurin means young children in the household, not alone by themselves…

    In any case, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with including one or two of the more cliche starting adventures. Wagon train guard duty is a great way to introduce newbies to the ideas of teamwork and how the combat system works, plus it has the advantage of being entirely setting-neutral. Plus, you can always introduce twists like the caravan-master is in league with bandits and hired the PCs precisely because they appear new and inexperienced (presumably making any heist a push-over and allowing the master to remain in place and keep funneling easy takes to his bandit allies). As I’ve mentioned, quite a few people in my groups over the years tended to be brand-new to RPGs, and I always found that grounding the first couple adventures in less-fantastic options let them find their feet and get used to the basic mechanics without having to dive too deep.

    It’s also, I think, important to show new GMs how to scale adventures and encounters. RM, as we’ve observed many times, puts serious demands on GMs, and a bad GM will certainly turn off an otherwise receptive group. The easier we make it for them, the better.

    1. Good points. My only reservation about the cliches is that RM pitches itself as an advanced system or experienced GMs. Obviously you can be experienced and bad. I would expect that an experienced GM would either have already thought of wagon train guard or some of the other tried and tested starters. I also see this as a sort of “We are the RM community, you are welcome to join us, we made these for you.”

      Have we created a Schrodinger’s Cat out of Hurin’s children? One where they exist both on vacation and home alone simultaneously until such time as Hurin reveals the truth?

      1. While RM may pitch itself as being for experienced folks, the reality is they have to get that way first, and being experienced in one game doesn’t always translate well to another. Just look at the issues some experienced D&D players have when they move to RM. I submit the learning curve is at least as great for GMs. Therefore it makes sense to me to provide familiar adventure hooks so they don’t have to stress as much about a new adventure type along with a new set of rules and the associated issues there. They don’t all need to be that way, but having a few certainly doesn’t hurt. If one focuses more on combat, another on magic (or at least involves it more) and a third more on skills and non-combat activities (or if one larger adventure progresses through those lines) I think it’s much more useful as an introduction. It would be idea if such an adventure was part of the RMU core, but I suspect that won’t happen.

        1. I can see your logic. I would say that the learning curve is far greater for the GM who has to know, apply and arbitrate the rules and support the players. The players on the other hand can and should be able to rely on the GM to support them through the learning process. The GM just gets the books and is expected to take it from there.

  3. This topic (and perhaps the same ICE forum topic referenced above) caused me to do some thinking, especially after deep diving Matt Colville’s GM YouTube channel. In particular one of his “Sandbox” videos where he stated using 6 generic D&D adventure modules as the entry for the sandbox adventures he runs. Old school AD&D modules, with no official connection, but modified and tweaked a bit to allow characters a place to start, get familiar with the system, but provide them enough hooks to not feel they are being railroaded into a specific path. This gives him time to create his own unique adventures to pursue, or use as ties between other pre-published adventures.

    The more I though about it, the more I realized that RMU (perhaps RM itself) doesn’t really have that. AFAIK, there isn’t a wide selection of low level, entry adventures for a GM to choose from and use in a similar manner.

    I bought a 40 pack of adventures from Azukail via DTRPG , and also a few generic adventures ($1 Adventures from PickPocket Press), with an eye to convert or expand them. I also have been working on a few new adventures for RMU (*).

    However, of invaluable aid to me (having not written a new-from-scratch adventure in a while) was a new book from Word Mill press called “The Adventure Crafter”. Found it on DriveThruRPG, it bills itself as “… a system for randomly generating story outlines, adventure seeds, random events, and plot twists for your role playing gaming pleasure.” I rather like it a lot, and it’s helped take two or three adventure seeds and get them into a coherent, imaginable space in no time at all. Oh, I’ve had to supplement some of it (i.e. I use different and deeper random NPC generators(trait, appearance, mannerisms, etc…), but non-the-less her system is still the governing process.

    I look forward to seeing your work.

    Dave

    (*) More to learn the rules, I’ll be play-testing the first soon. It’s an urban adventure, complete with chase, for new players entering SelKai/Eidolon. It’s loosely based on a kidnapping outline that Mr. Amthor had in that source book. Expanded and filled in, yes, but the idea kernel was certainly his.

  4. Ha, I sometimes wish my kids were like Schrodinger’s Cat… locking them in a steel box would certainly make them less noisy. But I suspect the wife wouldn’t go for it. 🙂

    In reality (quantum or otherwise), the kids are on vacation with us and having a ball in the sun. My eldest in particular has taught me a lot about initiative, since I usually have to win it if I want to stop him from randomly hitting his brother.

    Like IntoThatDarkness, I actually kind of love the low-level, caravan guarding missions. The characters have not yet acquired too many powers for me to keep track of, and we can focus on just the basics, making sure we get everything right. Sometimes the big, high-level battles are so chaotic and complex that I find out later I did something wrong. So I find the low-level, mundane battles to be some of the most fun.

    1. OK, you have convinced me!

      Today’s post, will be about caravan adventures.

      I am glad the children are not in a tin box with a cyanide pill.

  5. When you wrote that you would focus on making the new set of low level adventures—I totally agree. Doing so also supports a view that RMU needs a free, low price, or basic set to help bring in new RM GMs and players. You will likely have new or returning RM blog users as well when the game releases, coming to look at your blog posts and resources. In my game, the players will be learning their characters while I am also trying the completed revised core mechanics for the first time.

    1. I certainly hope we see a greatly increased community, here and on the forums. I can imagine the forums will explode with people trying to get to grips with the new game.

      I do not believe that we will get a RMU basic set. I think we should but I don’t think we will.

      As I said above, the culture seems to be that RM in all its forms is an advanced system for experienced GMs, therefore we don’t do basic.

      I have lost track of all your random generators. Do you have an adventure seed generator? I can remember a lot of NPC aspects but not an adventure seed one.

      1. I’ve kind of got a couple; not mine, in products from others. Tome of Adventure Design from Frog God Games and Oldskull Dungeon Tools from Kent David Kelly (which is based on his other supplements). The second only really works if you want reasons to head for a dungeon. KDK is very fond of dungeons.

      2. I haven’t made any adventures published, just some of the bare-bones settings maps, with broad details, and some languages. My tool selling stuff focuses on a solo story writing challenge game and NPC engines.

        Have you ever consider writing stats for a RM book in Fudge ladder stat terms and non-RM attributes & skills using OGL with a RM2, RMC, RMSS, RMFRP, and RMU conversion sort of like how ICE would have a conversion in front or back of their MERP adventure modules (maybe they have it in SW modules and sourcebooks). Even my MERP manual has Fantasy Hero ® and AD&D ® conversion with a registered mark at every use of the word in the conversion chart with a note of the registered mark owner at the beginning that they do not have a license to do use it in any of their products. Or would that be too vague?

        1. I tend to have two hats when it comes to my own products. The first hat is my RM hat and these products tend to be labours of love. The community is way to small for these to ever be commercially viable.

          The other hat is products made for profit. I have not made much for FUDGE so I don’t know how active the buying audience is. It seems to me to be a more natural fit to build Zweihander crossover products. The audience seems to share a lot of qualities and the Zweihander audience is allegedly large.

          Another audience that is apparently large are people who have the original Pete Fenlon MERP sourcebooks. So a conversion guide to turn RM 1st Ed/MERP stats into Zweihander compatible stats could be a winner. I have added that to my ever longer todo list.

          Regarding the OGL, I am falling out of love with the OGL licence and moving towards a straight Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike licence. The CC licence is more liberal than the OGL.

          1. I have a feeling that the FATE audience is bigger than the FUDGE one. There certainly seem to be a lot more products available for it. I also don’t know the difference between the two but FATE Core is free.

            I know of one poster on RPG Geek who regularly uses FUDGE. But he designed it.

            1. I would rather not role play than play FATE.

              I agree that it is a much bigger audience but I am not the person to design for it.

              Regarding FUDGE, I am a fan of the Ghost Ops game. It is a FUDGE derived game and it is my ‘go to’ set of rules for modern day gaming. It had a successful KS with 383 backers and raised £13,000. It has only made Copper and not one of its supplements have made a metal rating. One would have thought that with nearly four hundred backers that you could sell at least 50 copies of a non-stretch goal expansion.

              1. I’ve encountered FATE twice. ICONS, which is a superhero RPG, for which it seemed to work, and The Dresden Files. Which gave me the impression that FATE was a competitive BSing contest between players and GM.

                So far, not a fan of FATE!

                1. I think that if you imagine a spectrum with simulationist games like RM at one end then FATE would be at the completely opposite end of the spectrum.

  6. Interesting that I came across this blog today. I GM’d RMSS for nearly 20 years. I was running a campaign set in Middle Earth that had stretched almost 10 years (real time) when one of the players in our group passed away in 2013. Our group has since rebounded and we’re playing the old West End Star Wars. I’d like to get back to RMSS, but I can tell you that after a long work week interpreting laws and conducting data analysis, the last thing I want to do is cross reference charts at the roleplaying table. I spent Christmas searching for a new fantasy game, but my love for RMSS keeps me coming back.

    Anyway, history over. Since I know RMSS better than most, I will probably house rule it to greatly simplify gameplay and start everyone at good ‘ole 1st level for a gritty, survivalist game, which would be perfect for the 1st-3rd level adventures this blog post is contemplating. I love Peter R’s idea for the ship arriving in the dead of winter and all the creative directions that could go. Do you have a link to an example or existing title that you guys are looking to create? I’d love to contribute somehow. Especially if it means helping with an RMU, which I would probably buy the hell out of.

    1. Welcome to the blog Jay,

      So the adventure with the ship arriving out of the storm in the dead of winter will be on Drivethrurpg in a couple of day, if I get my act together. I aim to publish one of these each month in the rolemaster fanzine. It only costs 99 cents but because it is behind an effective pay wall it means that most players will not have stumbled upon it and read the adventure and the ending. It also means that they will be available for ever and not get lost in the archives of all the blog posts.

      If you want something more fleshed out then Prison Break and Wagon Train may give you a good start. If you want something meatier then City of Forgotten Heroes could be what you want. https://www.rolemasterblog.com/city-of-forgotten-heroes/ is the first instalement but you will have to scroll through the posts to find them all. I think there were seven posts on that adventure and it is still not quite finished. We did some cool stuff with scaling the threat level in https://www.rolemasterblog.com/roll-call-of-horror/

  7. Is there an example for the content you’re looking for? A link to somewhere or the title of a supplement? I’d love to contribute somehow.

    1. Ohh look, a can of worms!

      It is my intention to publish these in the fanzine. If you were to write an entire adventure, that I could publish then I will give you a profit share. All I would need from you is the email that you use on Drivethrurpg or RPGNow. They will automatically credit you with your share with every sale.

      The fanzine costs $0.99. OneBookShelf [OBS] take 30%, that leaves 69 cents. As for other writers I will share out 20% or 14 cents a copy. You would continue to get that 14 cents a copy forever. Right now I only sell 20 to 30 copies of each issue so you we are talking peanuts. I said in a comment recently on a different post that my work for Rolemaster is a labour of love not for money. Having said that, post RMU going on sale, the community could grow significantly and 20 copies could become 200 or 2000 if RMU is a success.

      If you, or anyone, wants to contribute anything to the fanzine you can email me at weareallawesome @ rolemasterblog . com

      1. Sorry – I thought I accidentally messed up the first post as a guest so I signed up and posted again, so same person. Anyway, fans don’t do this sort of thing for money. We do it because it’s fun. I submitted some new professions and spell lists to ICE a long time ago on their website when they were having a call for fan content. I was stunned when years later I saw online that someone had referenced the work I did and titled it with my name.

  8. Hello all. I’m back from my holidays and I’m playing catch-up so I won’t belabor this post but I had to include these quotes when I read the post script. These are from my favorite auther, Terry Pratchett

    ‘Multiple exclamation marks,’ he went on, shaking his head, ‘are a sure sign of a diseased mind.’ — in Eric

    ‘Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.’ — in Reaper Man

    ‘And all those exclamation marks, you notice? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head.’ — in Maskerade

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