Thursday, September 15, 2016
Master of Devils Appendix N Edition
Note this is my 'gaming muse' edition of Master of Devils. There will be spoilers below.
The Pathfinder setting is vast. In Master of Devils, Dave Gross takes his two main characters, Count Varian Jeggare and bodyguard Radovan, to Tian Xia.
Tian Xia is the Pathfinder equivalent to Kara-Tur from the Forgotten Realms or Rogukan from Legend of the Five Rings.
In terms of gaming ideas, a few things hit me:
Missing Players: You ever play with someone on military leave due to being a reserve or someone who got a new job? In this novel, Radovan and his boss, Jeggare are separated at the start of the novel. Radovan goes through intense training and multiple encounters that in most situations would be far too dangerous for him.
At the end of the novel, Radovan goes back to his normal form and his normal abilities.
In such a situation, it would seem to me that the GM decided to run Radovan as an NPC and have him in the action even if he wasn't in the direct action. This allows the character to keep moving and doing things even if the player isn't there.
Chaosium way back in the day used to have a Runequest Cities book with a catch-up table that provided some fun stuff.
If you're looking to keep the group together, running one of the characters as an NPC for a brief time, even if you go ahead and make them into something a bit different can be one way to do it.
Mundane Encounters: One thing I see people post about running Kara-Tur or other 'Oriental Adventure' style games, is what type of adventurers should they have?
Ancient China has numerous ruins. It'd be hard to believe that the fantasy versions of said settings don't.
Heck, even mundane encounters like bandits are acceptable. The very first thing we see in Master of Devils is that the duo and their wagon and guards are under attack by bandits! Sure, they have a funky name and my be using weird attacks or a different strategy, but at the end of the day, they're bandits!
This doesn't count that in a side quest going on later, there is an introduction to a goblin possessed of a kami. But mind you, this goblin has been kicked out of his clan. Numerous companies have a lot of great visuals if you're looking for ideas on how such goblins might look. The miniature game, Confrontation for example, has numerous goblins and ogres donned in Samurai and Ashigaru.
The Exotic: So one of the things you can do when characters move to another setting, is bring out the strange things. There are numerous named characters here ranging from Jade Tiger to Judge Fang. Play around with appropriate names to the new setting but dont' go overboard with it because if every character name, every item name, every magic item, every spell, every combat maneuver starts sounding like an episode of Samurai Sunday, it'll become harder for the players to remember what all of that means.
But if you want to introduce the 'Shadowless Sword' a blade that moves so fast the sun cannot give it a shadow, or a few unique spells to the region, now's the time do to so.
Secrets: Along the telling of the story, there is a certain criteria that must be met in order for the characters to gain access to a dragon's 'heart pearl' and to use that to make a wish. (Dragon Ball Z in the house!). One of the characters that the readers, or at least most readers, assume is X, turns out to be Y and has that very criteria needed!
Another character appears initially to be merely a humble farmer but has too much skill and dedication and knowledge to be merely a farmer and turns out, he's actually a prince!
Characters that are more than one dimensional provide a great opportunity to add to the player's role-playing experiences. It can be boring in a campaign that's not focused on merely hack-and-slash, if all of the non-player-characters are one-dimensional pieces. Give them patrons that the characters might not appreciate. Give them hobbies that the players do appreciate. Give them outlooks that challenge the player's out outlooks.
The Big Dogs: Being the 'Oriental Adventurers' of the Pathfinder setting, it's great to see famous characters used. In this case, we get to see both the avatar and the Monkey King himself. The Monkey King is a famous religious/legendary character from various parts of China, similar to say, Thor or other more familiar deities.
Having a known element make an appearance can provide the characters a touchstone in the unfamiliar. This can work against you if you as a Game Master if you make those characters the focus of the campaign though so a light touch is needed with them.
Master of Devils looks as a non-standard setting and provides a lot of inspiration for game masters who might normally not appreciate running a non-standard campaign and is worth picking up for that reason alone.