Sunday, February 24, 2013

Django Unchained (2013)

Rare is the day I go to the movies. Still, I enjoyed the original Django. The imagery of an unknown man carrying around his own coffin, only to have the contents of that coffin be iconically used in mediums many years down the road, still lurks in my mind. Add to the fact that we have a great cast here including Jaime Foxx as Django himself and Quentin Tarantino making movies that I usually enjoy and well, I'm glad I was able to see it in the theaters.

I'll be discussing some specifics from the movie that will include spoilers. If you wish to avoid those, read no further.

Mentor: Django is seen initially as a slave whose freedom comes from an outside source that then proceeds to arm and train him. Django has natural talents that fall into place with this new profession of bounty hunting though and excels at it. Django is not alone in having a mentor. Many characters ranging from Rand from the Wheel of Time to Vin from the series Mistborn, have senior characters whose skills and experience are a stepping stone for the other characters to rise above their, often low and humble origins.

Flaws: Despite being a mentor and a man who hates slavery, Dr. King Schultz is seen several times having such issues with slavery, that he finds himself on the verge of 'breaking' character. Indeed, is it Schultz failure to control his anger that he winds up getting killed and putting Django in danger. This is not necessarily mirrored well in games like Dungeons and Dragons that are more concerned with combat matters and spent hundreds of pages detailing hot to engage unique abilities in combat, but other game systems have various triggers that can be used to force character behavior ranging from Disadvantages in Champions to bits in Gumshoe.

Slavery: A huge issues in and of itself, slavery is one that is ripe with roleplaying opportunities. These range from pitting the players into gladiator roles such as in the movie gladiator, trying to change the social situation of slaves, such as in Spartacus or the Ten Commandments. These classics of the cinema deal with slavery as a bit of a story telling element in that they are used to get the action going or keep it in place.

Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator is a slave because it puts him in a situation where the audience can then enjoy various spectacular combats. Spartacus the TV show takes that a step further and puts in various characters and cast to make it more of a drama with fighting than the slave rebellion the original movie was.

It can be a powerful field though so if your unsure of what your players think of the subject, check with them first.

The Quick Talker: In one scene, Django is about to be taken to a mining camp to serve out the rest of his days. Some quick talk puts him in possession of weapons that enable him to deal quick death to those who were about to take him in. While it is a scene of violence, the act of getting to that scene would work well as a Skill Challenge in 4th edition requiring some fast talking and some ability to convince. Fortunately for Django, in this case he has his bounty sheet from his first kill as a 'good luck' charm and witnesses to his status as a bounty hunter that allow his false story to ring true.

Django does a good job of moving quickly despite its length and can be a great example of a con gone wrong among other bits.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Kickstarter Updates and Review and Rambling

Time for the pre month Kickstarter observations. One of the comments from a previous update of this nature asked me to note why I backed the Kickstarter as opposed to just buying it at my local game store. I’ll cover that here as well.
For me, I’ve cut way back on supporting. For one, few of the companies or people I’ve backed seem to have any idea on what the realistic delivery date of their project is. For another, some of the companies I’ve backed are doing new kickstarters without delivering the material from the first. I’m not saying “fool me once shame on me” or anything but if you’re running another KS and haven’t delivered on the first one, why on earth would I support it? This is especially true if the new KS is in a very similar vein as the first.
It would seem that the whole concept of the kick start, to give something a boost at first, to give someone a hand up, a ledge to stand on, is not what companies are using it for, and instead, using it for full out financing. Good luck with that.
Another thing is my own person situation has changed. Because I’m not personally in the same situation I was when I backed a lot of these projects, my whole outlook is different. Most of this stuff I wouldn’t even buy in the store now. Sourcebooks for Pathfinder when I’m not in a regular game? Pass. Miniatures when I’m not painting? Pass. It’s taught me the value of actually buying stuff off the shelf on an as needed basis.
Hell, it’s JIT (just in time) buying! Mind you, I’ve always known that backing many of these projects would require patience. I’ve noted several times that RPG companies whose very livelihood is at stake, are notoriously late on their delivery. I’ve been to too many Gen Con conventions where product was being sent overnight to the convention so that the company could try and make its cost back. Thinking that material prepaid would be delivered is foolish.
On the other hand, I can’t help but think the quickly accepted meme of “no KS is on time. It’s standard.” Is the way I want to vote with my personal finances? For many people it’s not an issue and for me, if it wasn’t because part of the standard, it probably wouldn’t matter that much but it’s becoming a little blasé in companies just giving what I have to assume they know, are false delivery dates.
Red Box Games: I was a backer at a high level for the first Red Box Games KS. I found some of the levels to be a little confusing but not confusing enough that I didn’t pledge. I figured if I was reading some of the charts wrong, I’d simply get some bonus material. Red Box Games is one of those miniature companies that is bouncing in terms of its popularity. Sometimes they are carried at a wide variety of locations and sometimes there are huge sales that empty the stores of them.
I had three factors in backing them. One, I didn’t know if Games Plus would be carrying them. Two, there were some good deals to be found here. Three, I was in an ‘excited’ phase about the whole Kickstarter process. I was feeling as a consumer that I was making a real impact on projects that might not have made it. I was ‘high’ from the Bones project if you will. That it was part of the big community.
Then the deadline passed last October and continues to pass. Part of this was the success of the Kickstarter. Part of it was failure of some of the molds on the caster’s side requiring several of the molds to be worked again and again. Some of it probably lack of project management on this scope. Still waiting as of this moment.
On a side note, Tre decided to launch another Kickstarter to continue the funding switch over from metal to plastic. This was after several people informed him that they would not be supporting another KS while the goods from this one were outstanding but apparently he’s receiving such great deals from the caster that if he doesn’t jump on it right away, his long term business will be hurt.
From an outside perspective, it appeared to have been a disaster. Its initial goal of five thousand was met and for a time was even at fifteen thousand. Somewhere along the lines though, the stretch goals, which were all visible at the start of the campaign, were swapped out. In addition, the funding and number of backers never got as high as the first one. Some of the backers were in for stretch goals and as the stretch goals never got closer, they dropped their pledges. Then it was cancelled. Despite making its funding, mind you. Does that mean the initial goals were too small and it was counting on getting as high or higher than the first one? Again, to me, to a customer, to an outside, seems that the process isn’t being used as a Kick to get things going, but as a new business as usual. Mind you, it might have been a good thing as the campaign was below its highest levels and dropping.
Some very interesting discussion over on the Reaper forum about the how and whys of running a ‘good’ Kickstarter and I hope that Tre is able to learn from both the campaigns. Some of the stuff I thought might have been lacking, like surveys to the backers, were indeed there but may not have had enough depth. Showing all the stretch goals may not have been a great idea. Listening to the people who reply to those surveys may have tainted the silent majority may have just been thinking it doesn’t matter what happens until I get my original order I won’t be ordering again. Another potential problem is supposedly Tre lost money on the first KS so the ‘deals’ on the new one were not as exciting as the old one.
I think there are a lot of factors that are outside his control thought. For example, the ‘dumping’of a few companies Red Box Games stock before the campaign. If you’ve already bought the exact same miniatures in metal for pennies on the dollar, your need for a material you may not have seen yet is not necessarily going to be that high.
Tectonic Craft Studios: I was a backer at a high level for the KS. I did it because it appeared to be a good deal and as this is a brand new company, their presence at my FLSG was unknown.
The owner has done what several companies have. Smaller rewards at lower dollar pledges have gone out. In the meanwhile, the owner has been trying to expand the company by opening the store and selling material that’s not even been sent out to those of a higher pledge because you only get one shipment unless you want to make a separate order and ask for your items to be delivered at that time. The owner has also been working with other companies and expanding the business that way. In the meanwhile, those who initially paid to have product delivered are not getting it.
Some back and forth on the comments section. For one, the owner has spoken of getting instructions up. Hasn’t happened. At one point the owner mentioned that we, the initial backers were getting a deal. I had to call him on that one. A deal is only a deal if its delivered on a timely fashion. Don’t be almost a year late on your own estimated delivery date and tell me how lucky I am to be getting the product. Just don’t do it. You’re late. Suck it up. Don’t try to pacify me by letting me know that man, it is just so awesome of you the creator to give me this great deal. Sheesh.
I did place a separate order and have spoken of the material a few times on my miniature blog. Some nice stuff but I think its retail price is going to be too high for what it is and that his best bet will probably not actually be in the terrain but in the movement trays and tournament trays. When looking at companies like Games Workshop, who are known far and wide for their‘outrageous’ prices, their terrain compares very favorably to Tectonic and hey, is much more detailed and usually has some sort of instructions and lots of painted examples.
Steampunk Musha: The company doing this has been lax in its updates. This one was due last September. It could just be me but I’d prefer more than once a month, especially if that once a month only comes after being prodded with a public request for information. Because this is another small company, I didn’t know if it would be carried in retail stores so backed it. My whole feeling on it is m’eh. I understand that the person doing it is having or has had some issues. And these things happen.
The frequency in which they appear to be happening to Kickstarters is a clear indication to me at least, that one man operations are bound and determined to be delayed. The same goes for companies that aren’t actually following up on the individual projects within them, making these one man operations in all but name.
It Came From the Stars: Due last June. Updates about once a month. More frequently recently. The updates are generally the same and indicate very little progress done in my opinion. Still waiting on art ten months after the project was supposed to be in people's hands. What?
I’ve been hearing its almost done for quite a while now. This is another one, that due to the small size of the company, I was unsure of it being in the store. In addition, this one was not a runaway success so I felt that there was a real impact of being a patron of this project. At least the people doing this one just appear to be late as opposed to having suffered some illness or family related issues. Hoping that the book blows me away because at this point my attention has wandered away again. It would be nice to get the book and go, “Man, I need to play so I can use this!” as either a GM or a player. I suspect thought that onto the shelf it will go.
28mm Demons & Devils: I backed this at a high level. I did so because I’ve never seen the figures at the FLSG before. I also own one of the figures, the dracosilk and it’s a solid figure. I thought, what the heck. Now some time ago, I posted a thread on talking about the end of metal in figures. The price is apparently very violitale. This doesn’t count the weight of the material and the extra shipping costs this can incur. Center Stage initially went with an all metal cast but some of these figures were very large, this might have meant some sever issues in terms of shipping cost and material cost. So a resin option was offered. Some grumbling on and off about it but also some cheers. Resin, despite some potential health issues, does have its fans.
Fast forward to some odd questions from CSM about what type of figures they can provide in terms of resin and metal and apparently some concerns about quality control in terms of the resin resulting in people getting the metal, or at least, that’s how I understood it; Some unhappy people about it and some happy.
Fast forward again and they’ve now acknowledged that they won’t make their estimated delivery date and that they never ‘promised’ that it would be out in March but that they would most likely manage to ship everything out to the lower level backers.
And bam, there’s the pattern. People who ordered small amount of material or existing material get covered before those who are putting down larger sums of finance. Mind you it’s a bad situation either way.
If you have enough smaller orders to make the fans happy, it’s a good thing. Mind you you may not get larger orders from the same backers next time because you decided it was better to make them wait,
but the majority of people are happy. If you make everyone wait till everything is ready, then the people who backed you and thought they were going to be getting it at X time will be unhappy, and if you’re late anyway, its not going to make the higher ended backers happy anyway.
Companies need a lot more clarity in terms of what they’re offering and if necessary, if they know that things will break down into different categories, to start including shipping and handling charges for those separate shipping events into their tiers.
On a separate note, they’ve started another Kickstarter despite again some minor vocal protest that people weren’t going to back until they had their previous goods. It has passed its required funding level but is nowhere near the level of the first KS.
Mind you this could be a wide variety of reasons. People may be waiting for the first order. People may have no interest in the subject matter of the new material. The pricing on the new material may not be attractive, especially after the good ‘deal’ on the first KS. To outside appearances, it has a little bit of the appearance of ‘scrambling’ as stretch goals have been changed and its momentum seems to have halted or peaked. Some interesting figures in the new KS but as I’m feeling rather ‘blah’ about the whole thing and having the company tell me that the material is not going to make the estimated release date and getting defensive about not ‘promising’anything, yeah, they’re not getting any more of my money.
Midgard Tales: Another one I'm basicaly M'eh at this point. Updates about once a month? My own situation has changed, the project is late, seems pretty par for the course for an RPG product. Maybe March? 
Tentacles and Eyeballs: Let’s see…. Good deal in terms of what you get for the price? Check. New company whose availability to the FLSG is not known? Check. Supposedly soonish shipping date initially? Which was last October? Check. This guy was hit with a C&D by WoTC for infringement on several of the figures. WoTC also hit the CMS guys but they able to deal fairly quickly.
Dark has been working to put together replacements for the larger figures that were lost. Bad news is that again, the smaller orders have been shipped out so the people who again, paid the most get the sharp end of the stick. Can anyone see why I’d be thinking, “Yeah, this backing isn’t for me.” Communication isn’t bad but I personally feel that the replacement sketches, at the very least, are overdue and that this should have wrapped up already in terms of what we higher end backers will have the option of getting.
Pirate Goblins: Another one that’s late as it was due last October. The guy running it has claimed personal issues. Other people are not quite so willing to believe as he’s been posting on facebook at times when he’s claimed to have no internet access. In addition, he’s claimed to have sent out many a package but no one that’s backed it has claimed to have received them. There’s essentially nothing the guy can do at this point to get me to pre-order from him again. Buy in the store? If I see it and it looks cool, sure. Buy direct and support it? With the level of communication we’ve seen and the lack of actual product in hand that simply isn’t going to happen.
1650s Rulebook: If I saw these figures in the store, I'd still buy them. They impress me that much. Communication from the guys running it? Not so much. The core book in PDF format has been sent out and we have been seeing some updates but chances of me actually playing this once it comes out due to various factors is down to wiff factors.
Dwimmermount: Too much drama to really go into here. Shame too because it seems like a solid concept. The thing I found most interesting is when I asked Tavis if he's actually spoken to James the answer was no. So remember, we've seen two 'updates' from 'James' that Tavis actually hasn't gotten in person. Hope James is able to get his spirits in the right order soon.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Cutting Edge: Part One of A Handful of Men by Dave Duncan

Another victory for the dollar spinner rack from Half Price Books. Good thing too! I went to look at Amazon and see what it would run to pick up the material in e-book format and it's over $7 bones a pop. What's worse is it has a different cover and while I understand that art and graphic design and all that good stuff is a personal matter, and this cover isn't my favorite by far, the new version is made of fail. If you're going to charge premium prices, make sure you've covering all your bases eh? Mind you, this doesn't seem to be too far from how Dave himself thinks if you read his web page.

While I realize that no everyone has access to a local used book store, or a yard sale, or even that you can't find all the books you want in a particular series or setting, I have so many other books currently, and so many more I could buy for well under $7, that I'm afraid unless those books go on sale at some point, Dave Duncan or Tor, the publisher, will never see a penny of my reading his materials.

I've never read any of his books before mind you. That's one of the benefits of the dollar spinner rack. I can afford to pick up a book by an author, like Dave Duncan , who I've never read before and see if it's something I want to continue with.

Having never read any of the work here before, I will note that despite it being a sequel to a previous series, that I didn't have any problem reading it or following along with the characters. It does end on a massive cliffhanger though, so if that is a problem for you, you may want to avoid it.

Below I'll be discussing spoilers from the book so if you'd rather avoid those, read no further.

1. Magic Words. One of the interesting things about the 'magic system' in this series is that there are words of power. Many game systems go different routes to bring such magics to the game, including 3.5  which, like previous editions, had it's various "Word" spells. This doesn't count specific classes like the 3.5 version of Tome of Magic. Here, when you attend an older person, they may sound off their knowledge of a word of magic and if you have 'talent', it will grant you power.

For me, in D&D, that might be a good reason why mages go adventuring at all. Only by fighting and killing other mages can they learn these 'words of power.' Each would can be used to advance a spell level so that you could learn higher level spells. Sure, sitting in a tower may get you access to the material, but if you don't actually know the words of power to unlock the ability to learn a 2nd level spell, you'll never be able to cast it. Here to learn higher level spells you'd have to continue to earn new words of power.

2. The Future: There are a few bits that involve seeing the future here. One of them involves a scrying pool that when you put one foot in, shows you things you should move towards, and if you put the other foot in, it shows you things you should avoid. Another one showcases how a person who is always seeing the future might act. They often get confused with how things are and what is actually happening. It makes them less likely to be taken by surprise mind you but at the same time doesnt' put them in good standing in social situations.

3. A Mage By Any Other Name: The setting is populated by all manner of powerful spellcasters. The most powerful of which, are known as Warlocks. These 'titles' are a manner of honorific as it's revelead that of the 'four' traditional ones, there was a non-Warlock who was more powerful than all of them. It also doesn't account for other variables. This to me, reminds me of the older editions use of names for the different levels of the core classes. Instead of every cool sounding noun getting it's own core class or prestige class or paragon levels or whatever going on nowadays, the titles are ranks or honorifics.

4. It's A Small World After All. Despite the novels' length, it is only the start of the story and some of the.... I don't want to say secondary characters, but characters whose presence in the novel is under felt, have a way to go before their story impacts the core tale. These characters though are from a forgotten and/or lost race and aren't known, in general, to the outside world. Indeed, even among their own people they can hide from one another if they choose. One of the games the mages there play on outsiders is, when ot wiping them out entirely, is of making their journey go in circles. If there is a hidden race or society or group, there should be a sound reason why they're not known outside of, "Oh, no one goes down that street."

5. Love. There is a 'Roman' style society here in its glory. Their ruler is a good man. Not great in ll virtues mind you but a sound leader. His love for his wife however, is almost more of a matter of function and of her attractiveness. This leader's right hand man however, is a lover of the ladies and has already seen himself, in a scrying pool, with his lord's wife. But the way things are developing, you can tell the wife, who is treated more as an object as opposed to a person, isn't against such a potential future because it involves her making decisions. Her sense of values and what she wants out of life are also much different than what her husband wants. She would be content to learn to love her husband and their daughter if they could do so in solitude as opposed to being part of the court life. In many ways, it echoes another famous love story that went wrong show cased in many tales like the movie Excalibur. NPCs, subplots, themes of betrayal and tragedy, can all add deeper elements to a campaign that embraces them.

6. Duty. When good king Rap uses his magical abilities to see what is going on in the grander scheme of things, he is overcome with a sense of great evil preparing to come. He find that it's his duty, his solomon duty, to stand against this. It's an interesting thing because when he's asked if it's to save his own home, he answers that it's to save the world. Failure to save the world would be the same thing as failure to save that home. Characters that need motivation to take up arms or to get out of the tavern, can be motivated when they know that failure to do something, results in the end of the game.

I enjoyed the book and will look for other volumes in the series next time I'm at Half Price books. I like the way the writer is able to transition from deep personal moments to hand waving seasons in order to move characters closer to one another over large spans of land or to age the younger characters in the book without it seeming to be skipping important parts.

Dave Duncan handles a large cast and is able to bring them together to start the real struggle that won't occur till at least the next volume.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pantagruel from Teratic Tome

For those who don't know, the Evolved Grottoes & Griffons Teractic Tome, is a Monster Manual style book. The PDF I have weights in at 120 pages, but that doesnt' count things like the cover or table of contents.

While I haven't fully read the Teratic Tome, I am impressed by the cover. It reminds me of the original Manual of the Planes with punny adventurers facing something very mighty.

Looking through the book, that mighty creature is Pantagruel. No, not that Pantagruel although it could very easily be described as that one. After all, this one is returning from a journey gone horribly wrong.

No, the things that struck me about this Pantagruel were it's 'epic' use. It's presence is enough that any creature with 2 hit dice or less that looks upon him dies.

His physical abilities, hit points, magic resistance, and other bits, are on par with the other 'big boys' from the day. It's been a while since I've looked but Orcus 120 hit points and Asmodeus either 199 or 200 right? He's at 216 or so.

Those things, while impressive, didn't strike me as nifty as another bit. See, before Pantagruel shows up, there are numerous signs. Knives hurling themselves at people for example. Animals exploding from insects building hives within them. Things of horror.

It gave me a 'good' feelign. I don't know if it was a deliberate nod to Elder Evils but in feel, that's exactly what it is. This makes Pantagruel something more than just another monster to fight. Before he's even seen, before he's even known, there are signs of his approach.

The interior illustration, if that is indeed Pantagruel on the cover, doesn't live up to that full color awesomeness, but that would be a hard sell. If you can give your players a 'chill' through such an image, it's well worth the fight.

I wonder if the authors will hire someone to do a Pathfinder version? It's not as if Pathfinder has a lot of epic level foes in it's ranks either. That would be nifty. Hell, 4th edition anyone? If Kobold Press can do a Kickstarter to get a 4th edition version of their Midgard Bestiary out, might be worth checking to see if the demand is there.

Looking forward to seeing how many other monsters stand out with some nifty bits that can be incorporated into the campaign.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Berserk 36 by Kentaro Miura

I'm out of touch. I didn't even know the new Berserk came out until I saw that a new animate 'movie' came out. Immediately bought both. Don't know if I'll be talking about the movie outside of "m'eh" and yet it's a "m'eh" with potential if they cover the core story elements cut out like Puck and Skullknight and actually, you know continue it.

Anyway, Berserk 36 was like visiting an angry old friend. Kentaro's art reminds me of Goerge Perez or Jim Lee in that his detailed line work is awesome. I still refer to my art book despite the fact that the text is all in Japanese. I figure it's an art book right?

The book continues to make use of some elements that I find would be right at home in most campaigns.

1. Curse Magic Items. Elric had Stormbringer. Guts has the Berserk Armor. With it pain and injuries that don't outright kill him are... well, not healed by the armor, but modified enough that he keeps fighting. Bad news is that in this state he makes a frenzied berserker look sane. Still, unlike Elric, Guts has at least one comrade wo can pull him out of the frenzy.

2. Ritual Magic is very powerful. Despite the limited knowledge of magic that Lady Farnese has, she is able to do a ritual magic that prevents magical entities from entry. A mystical barrier if you will to prevent fully monstrous magical creatures from entering it. While it's use is somewhat limited and it doesn't stop those things that are hybrids of magic, it's powerful enough to stop those that are fully of 'the other world'. Many games use some type of this effort but often have such long casting times or high material component costs that they're not very practical. Here the same is true but they do have the time and knowledge to use it.

3. The Foe Too Big To Face! Many times a character will encounter something that they just shouldn't be able to defeat. In Star Wars, A New Hope, the rebels have no chance against the death star but it does have a certain famous weakness. In How To Train Your Dragon, Toothless, as powerful and unique as he is, is not where near powerful enough to battle 'the Red Death'. Here, Guts comes face to face with 'The Sea God'. It's so enormous that the ship sized creatures that he has been fighting with the ship he's taken passage on, are essentially it's whisker's and decides the only way to kill it is by going to it's heart!

This is old hat as they say. I've seen Thor do it with Celestials and other heroes with Ego the living planet and I'm sure other people could point out numerous instances of the foe too powerful to simply beat down. In 4e, it might be possible to use a Skill Challenge to model how best to overcome this entity. In another game, it might be possible to just model many of the 'antibodies' or other efforts of the host body to repel the invaders. Make the players realize what a do or die situation they're in and don't hold back!

4. New Character Bring It. Isma has just joined the crew but already in this new world, she's shown that she fits right in as she is capable of turning into a mermaid. In traditional games, the power level of the core group may grow and grow to such a point that a fresh character starting at the recommended baseline power level wouldn't have a chance to survive much less contribute to the game. There are numerous ways around this including splitting the party or the focus of the campaign and giving the lower level characters appropriate enemies and side liens and goals and then they're the way Kentaro takes and that's to make the new character have a 'hook' or a unique ability that lets them jump right into the fray.

The only problem with Berserk 36 is that despite it's hefty length, we're left with essentially a very long high level fight which means that we've got to wait until the next issue to get resolution. Damn you Kentaro!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology

Milton J. Davis and Charles Saunders assemble a variety of material here that reminds me of some of the older anthologies in that, for me, it's a lot of names I didn't recognize and a lot of different writing styles with some good, some bad, and some great stuff. I initially didn't realize that there was an Imaro story in the book itself until I got to the end.

I'll be discussing specific spoilers below so if you'd rather avoid those, know that for the low price, it's worth looking into.

Among my favorites are the following:

Skin Magic by P. Djeli Clark. It has a few elements I enjoy in a story. A different style of magic, in this case, a cursed thief who can summon monstrous creatures from inside himself. In some ways, this ability reminded me of Corum's early ability in the first trilogy where can can summon monstrous creatures that are undefeatable. It's also got the 'young' hero going on where the character is still learning of his abilities and learning how to work this curse into an actual ability. The character is still very vulnerable at this point. Very much like a low level character.

The Three Faced One by Charles Saunders. In terms of role playing games, I think the concept of a high level character, as Imaro is here, looking for rest and recuperation, but most importantly, anonymity from his previous heroism, is an interesting twist on a hero's rise to power. Imaro did all that in the last of the series and paid a heavy price for it. Now he needs time to heal and recuperate. It's not that he's all the sudden in a boring situation, for after all, what fun would that be, but that he is no burdened with the weight of all his previous expectations.

In a role playing game, as the players gain more and more levels and powers and toys, the weight of those background elements can weight heavily on them. One of the fun thing about Spelljammer, Ravenloft, and Planescape, is the ability to quickly move the campaign to fresh territory. Big hero in country X? You're nothing in country Y. This leaves the opportunity to revisit older material in future stories while also expanding the campaign setting.

In The Wake of Mists and The Generals Daughter, the former by Kirk A. Johnson and the later by Anthony Nana Kwamu show some interesting choices that can be put into a RPG. In the former, the main character is essentially whisked away from a battle to go through a quest to gain power. The readers keep getting hints that there is a price for this power. In the General's Daughter, the main character's daughter dies and he is given the opportunity to save her, but at the cost of many others who would suffer from his actions.

In the Wake of Mists has enough naming conventions and ideas in it to mine for a small adventure in and of itself. In between encounters the character, Sangara, is healed of his wounds so that he may approach each challenge at full strength. Almost like having a cleric that.

Characters, no matter how powerful, may encounter situations where sacrifice may be called for. There may be an attack on multiple fronts that they can't handle all at once. Characters may also be called on to make tough choices. Do you save your friend, or a city? Do you save your wife, or a world?