Jeremiah McCoy

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Tag: game world (page 2 of 2)

Undead Beware the Gravedigger’s Wrath: The Gravedigger Rogue Archetype

I have a long history with the concept of playing a gravedigger. I played one for over a decade at a larp in the Atlanta area. I rather think he may have been the most interesting character I have ever played. For all his sneaky abilities (he was a rogue) he was also noble in thought and action. He was tremendously creepy and people expected him to be evil, but he wasn’t. He was just not socially adjusted. That lead to some amazing role play sessions and I kind of miss playing the guy.

Anyway, I always liked the vision of champions of death that are not evil. With that in mind, here is my take on Gravediggers as a rogue archetype in 5th edition. In keeping with their semi-divine devotion to caring for the dead, I set them up with paladin spells. I am interested in some feedback on this. It is not too unlike the Avenger class in 4th edition. I don’t think it is over powered, but others might disagree. Tell me what you think.

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Stealing the Guild

Consider the thieves’ guild.

The thieves’ guild is an odd artifact of fantasy games. Once you accept that a hero can be a thief, you begin finding ways for the thief to belong to the world. Wizards have colleges and councils. Fighters become knights, become lords, and even become kings, ruling by this ax. Clerics have their religious hierarchies. The choirs of angels have nothing on the politics of churches. Thieves, though, are inherently outsiders. They prey upon the world. Yes, Hobbits get led astray by dirty road dwarves into being burglars, but that is not quite the same thing. A thief is more than just someone who sneaks around. Thieves’ have their own subculture. In fantasy games, it is called a guild.

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Actual Books

Sorry for the delay on this. I had a death in the family, and that took a lot of the steam out of me. I hope to get back to writing more regularly.  Ironically, I attended the panel which inspired this with the family member who died. He was on my mind a lot while writing it.


In my series about spell books, it occurred to me I had not addressed books in general. It is easy to assume everyone is on the same page with regards the subject of books. That said, not everyone really looks into the history of the book as an object and a technology.

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Rules For Spell Books (Or how I learned to relax and hang out in libraries)

I think I have established I love spell books.  The spell book is an integral part of the wizardry motif.  The book, the object, is a needed part of what wizards do in D&D. The current rules do require you to record your spells, but I do think it could be even more emphasized.

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Spell Books of Infamy


I love spell books.  I did a video about them and everything.  They are fascinating elements to magic in fantasy.  Wizards are supposed to be wise. They got that way because of what they learned. None of that is cutting deals with powers, thank you very much.  I am looking at you Warlocks. Books are where you store that knowledge.

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More Scifi fifth edition, with more background

First post of the new year, and it isn’t a resolutions post?  What silliness is this? Nope, I am going to post another in my series on doing a scifi game in 5e. The first post can be found here.


Where was I? Ah, Backgrounds.


Backgrounds are awesome. It is one of the most interesting aspects to 5th editions is the idea of backgrounds. It adds more depth than just class and race. It adds variety to characters, flavor, and themes. Things like it had existed before, of course. In 2nd edition, there were the kits, which sort of tied to a background, and also added some subclass like features.

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SciFi 5th edition experiment part 3 fun with Aliens

A few things.  First, you can find my earlier posts on this Science Fiction 5e thread here, and here.

Second, let me know if you like these.  I will keep writing them if people are getting anything out of them.

Third, sorry it took a day or two longer to get this out.  Writing races is not as exciting and writing classes. I also had some other issues going on, but real life is like that some times. I did briefly consider doing my own artwork for these, but remembered I am not a great artist.


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Science Fiction Game in 5th edition part 2 The Problems of Setting

So, I started out with the notion of making a 5th edition Scifi game. This was spurred by the idea of exploring what you can do with the 5th edition system framework.  All fun and games, until you realize how much work it can be.  Oh well, we continue the madness.

The problems with setting

The question of game design is one of experience.  What stories are the players going to have here? What experiences do you want them to have?  The original role-playing games, proto-D&D and its ilk, were extensions of war games.  They were changed because the players wanted a different experience from what they were finding in the wargames. The rules grew out of that desire for a new experience.

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The Beyond of comic future

Artwork from Justice League Beyond, by Peter Nguyen

Artwork from Justice League Beyond, by Peter Nguyen

I see a lot of people who complain about the state of comics, for various reasons. Some complain they have lost originality.  I have heard others complain about how dark they have become.  Of course, the classic complain of expense will always come up. One I have heard come up time and again, is that they seem to have lost a lot of that simple fun we all loved when we first started reading them. When I say we, I mean those of us who started reading in the 80s.

Well worry not my friends. I have a cure for this complaint, of sorts. DC comics has a line of digital first comics.  These are comics published to Comixology, and the like, first, and later collected to print.  Among these titles they have the remnants of the Timverse. The Beyond titles, Batman Beyond, Superman Beyond, and Justice League Beyond, are very much a call back to a more fun sort of comics.

I find the experiment here of releasing these on digital first is a good one. It is a place where they don’t have to worry about circulation numbers as much and ideas like this can get some space to breath. I think comics will need to consider changing things up like this more often. Try it out in digital, then move it to print once you see the response.

But I digress..

These series are all set in the future version of the Timverse(That continuity created in the Batman Animated series and its successors), that we know from the Batman Beyond series. It is scifi setting with super heroes.  They exist in their own sort of continuity. Well, actually the continuity of the cartoons, but don’t rely on the New 52, or anything like that.  They are set in a 2020 era DC universe.  A lot of the heroes are not around anymore. The Batman retired due to the fact his body can’t keep up any more, and let a younger man, Terry McGinnis, to take up the mantel.  There is more to that story, but I will let you look into that on your own.  Superman is still around, though older. The Justice League in this era are Aquagirl(Aquaman’s daughter), Micron(a succor to the Atom, but his past is a bit murky to me), Warhawk(Son of Green Lantern John Stewart and Hawkgirl), Big Barda(the same one as before just with a new outfit), Superman(see above), Green Lantern( a new kid named Kai-ro), and on occasion, Batman.

Why are these good?  Well, the stories are solid.  They are not Jason Aaron or Alan Moore good, but they are solid action adventure stories, with a dollop of nostalgia, and a slice of occasional subtext. They do have a lot of call backs to the cartoon, and DC comics in general, but not without explaining it, or dwelling on it. There is a great bit where they reference the Challengers of the Unknown in one story and it wasn’t hammering you over the head. If you knew who they were, you got a thrill, but it didn’t read like they would leave you out if you didn’t know. The art is again, very solid. They range from up and comers with a good command of the form, to some of the new hotness like Fiona Staples, doing fill in issues. They do have a contained continuity among the three titles and have had cross over, but not so much that it is distracting from the stories in the books.

On a game level, there is something to be said for this setting in a superhero game.  There is a lot of room for people to play, without running into too many existing constraining you. Also the scifi element makes a lot of character concepts much easier. They do have all your usual superhero options, mutants, aliens, and gadget heroes are there, but a few new wrinkles pop up. There is an active transhumanist theme in this future, and a recreational use of illegal gene mods is common in the underground. Having a cat person with feline DNA, walking around with a cybered up bully boy, is a regular night on the town for Batman here. I could see a group of heroes trying to reclaim the legacy of heroes like Green Arrow or Steel.

Whether you are in it for game inspiration, or looking for a fun and light superhero comic, these would make a good choice to check out. Oh, and one of the best parts, they are cheap.  They are 99 cents and issue on Comixology, so the barrier to checking them out is low. I pick them up when I can, because I am cheap these days and I like to maximize my bang for my buck. I will admit, I was more apt to take an interest in these, because I loved the Bruce Timm’s work on animated universe he fostered. If you loved those, you will find much here to love, but it is still good stuff, even if you have never seen them.  You should go check them out.

defining worlds for the game

Do you ever look at a TV show or a movie, and think to yourself, I could absolutely play in that world?  Plenty of gamers do.  I suppose it is the same sort of inspiration that fan fiction writers get.  There is something about looking at a well formed world, that make you want to play there.

I recently watched the first season of Lost Girl, and I had that reaction.  Now the show itself is not super awesome, but it is entertaining.  It is a bit sex heavy, like a paranormal romance. There is nothing wrong with that, I guess, but it can be off putting if you are made uncomfortable by sex scenes. The cast is generally pretty interesting, and they do a good job of building a world. Lost-Girl

The heroine in the show is a succubus, which is a sort of Fey. Fey are like the fair folk, or Tuatha de Dannan of Irish myth. All the supernatural beings in that world are considered some sort of Fey. This is the first world rule that you can look at for game world design.  This simplifies things as it makes everything fit into a familiar framework.  The succubus, vampires, werewolves, leprechauns, and basilisks are all Fey, and you don’t need to cook up a new backstory, and metaphysical origin, for each.  Having a framework is something that simplifies the world and helps give it parameters.  That is important in fiction and in game design.

Most of the Fey feed on humans in some manner.  This shapes their relationship to humans, and it helps define their differences.  Each of them also has a power, usually related to how they feed, but not always, and weaknesses unique to their breed.  They are not immortal, but ageless for the most part. These points make it easier to define the individual characters.  In designing a game for this setting, you would want to require the pc’s choose what they need, what their power was, and maybe a weakness as well. That weakness can be a difficulty in controlling their urges like the protagonist, or maybe silver as is the case with the werewolf. If I were doing this in Fate system, for instance, the High Concept would be their type, and powers would be acquired, and the weakness would be an aspect.

The Fey fall into two camps, for the most part.  The Light Fey are ostensibly are for the good aspects, and protecting humanity.  This is not always true, though.  A lot of the Light Fey look at humans as pets or annoyances. The Dark Fey are all about the nastier side.  Humans are cattle put there for the Fey’s amusement. They are decidedly not friendly but they are not always kitten eating evil. They all see humans as beneath them. They obey rules and compacts that exist to keep them from going to war again. Many of these compacts were set in place by a peace making Blood King a 1000 or more years earlier.  These societal rules, and history elements, make the world feel more real.  It grants a level of verisimilitude to have factions with definable traits and expected behavior.  You can break those expectations, but it should only be done as something you draw attention to the oddity of it.  The heroine in the series is unaligned, but it is made clear, this is not only unusual, but it brings its own complications.  When defining the game elements, you would want to makes sure those defined behavioral expectations are known, and also the consequences for stepping out of them.  If a Light Fey kills a Dark Fey, or vice versa, a war could result that might kill a large number of humans as well. The consequences are well defined and that will help govern behavior, for PC and NPC alike.

Converting a world from one medium, like a TV show, to a game world is a fun exercise. It can provide you with fun worlds to play in, and it can also help you further refine your own skills at world design. Even as an intellectual exercise, the value is definitely there.  The decisions you make in the process with will help you make better world of your own, whether it is for writing or gaming.

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