Friday, July 3, 2009

Shadowstorm: The Twilight War Book II by Paul S. Kemp

Below are some ideas dregged up from my ole brain by reading Shadowstorm and how they might apply to your own role playing game. As usual I'll be using quotes from the book with a page indicator so spoilers will be here. Reader beware.

"A bargain, devil." (p. 12)

There are times when the players will get themselves into events far beyond their ability to control. In such instances, if the players have anything of value, even if that is information, if possible, nudge the players into that direction if you wish to avoid what is commonly referred to as a Total Party Kill (TPK). In some instances, the party may be setting up their own future adventurers and will have a chance to come back to the situation that lead them to the bargain in the first place.

Dawn's light, as pink as a rose, radiated through the slats of the closed shutters. Abelar rushed to them and threw them open. Rose-colored light bathed the room. Its touch warmed Abelar, calmned him. The light washed over the entire village, casting it all in a pastel glow." (p.114).

Sometimes the actions of a deity do not take form of a massive column of flame enguling the enemy. It's not a parted sea rushing together to crush the foe. Sometimes it's something that will be of help to the party that is not of direct combat. It could be the saving of resources for latter. It could be the temporary boost of power that a group needs in order to be somewhere else.

In many cases, the divine favor should be used sparingly. The players should never come to rely on divine intervention nor come to expect it. Players that do so are going to be let down when the Game Master does not provide that extra assistance.

"He and the Maskarrans learned only what you wished, Divine One. They destroyed your simulacrum and think you dead." (p. 229)

Everyone loves a good villain. An enemy that is harder to kill than originally thought. A villain that keeps coming back for more. If the Game Master has a villain that the players enjoy fighting and thrwarting, there are numerous ways to keep such a villain in the game. In the case above, the heroes of the novel weren't even fighting what they suspected they were but rather a duplicate. In fantasy role playing games, such an event can be common ranging from an actual clone to a dupe dressed as the villain. Marvel Comics was notorious for using robots for Thanos and Dr. Doom to explain their numerous losses to what would be considered 'C' listers.

"Love is a lie. Only hate endures. Light is blinding..." "All is fleeting." (p.79)
"The Light is in you, my friend. It shines brightly." (p.112)
"May Lathander watch over you and the dawn bring you hope." (p. 113)

In terms of players having a patron deity, if the GM has a list of catch phrases that is common to the faith, it can help the players to bring more to the table in terms of potential for role playing. A character with strong faith may have have an outlook that is colored by the faith. If the rest of the party members share the faith, it can provide some common bonds for them. If they do not, it can create friction. In many fantasy settings, including the Forgotten Realms, generally only classes that directly rely on divine power have a single patron deity with others praying to whatever deity is in charge of the current issue. For example, the 'Bitch Queen' is the patron of storms and sailors often pray to her to spare their ships as they sail across the waves.

Look for ways to bring details to the game that will give each campaign setting its own flavor and the players will look for that flavor. Some will pick up on it and bring their own ideas that can be incorporated, making the game as much theirs as yours.