Conflict!

The Heavy Metal GM

Stories, regardless of genre, always need some sort of conflict to be entertaining. Nobody likes reading text books about how to do stuff, don’t lie to me. Considering that RPG sessions are just fragments of a story, the rule still applies. Considering that conflict is the bedrock of everything, sometimes it can feel a little stale and over trodden. Keeping conflict interesting is somewhat of a balancing act throughout the course of a session or campaign. With it being the central piece of it all, it goes without saying that conflict is also incredibly important to the story you want to tell.

It doesn’t take a genius to discover the three types of conflict: physical, social and internal. Physical conflict is probably the most straight forward; it can be with a person or animal, and in some cases even just forces of nature or the environment itself. Sometimes just fighting…

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Stay on Target: Keeping Distracted Table-Top Gamers Engaged

If you ever played a table-top role-playing game you understand about distractions. Endless diversions hampering plot, game play and flow. Sometimes you get together and it seems as if you might as well meet at a bar and get it over with. The game master and several players might enjoy a few straying conversations. But often too much conversation not related to game will dampen everyone’s fun. Lighthearted conversations and off topic jokes CAN kill game sessions, ruining the fun for everyone.I have a few suggestions on how to keep everyone on target and working towards a fun night of gaming.1. Set a time limit for players and game masters This can be controversial in some groups. Combat and non combat encounters are different beasts. The game master (dungeon master) must be flexible and know what type of players he has. My suggestion for combat is to set a 2-4 minute timer for each player IN COMBAT. Game masters must interact with each player in a ten minute period in a combat setting. Non combat portions of the game heavy in role-play should have limits as well. Set a max time limit of ten minutes per player. The game master should speak with every player first before going back to player 1. This time should be agreed on by everyone. Stress the emphasis of flow and getting in fun for everyone. No one wants to sit around and diddle their thumbs in boredom.2. Make sure everyone has something to do!!!! Sometimes you will run a game sessions and a character dies. No backups are available and now you have a good friend stuck out of the game. What the heck are you gonna do? Give them something PRONTO! Often I would pull in some extra NPCs and let the player run them. This way the player has something new to do and can be a boon in most cases. Make sure you run with extra characters to compensate for any deaths in the party. If you are running a dangerous situation as a game master, make sure you have back up plans and ideas for a party wipe or a few deaths. The worst thing you can do as a game master,leave someone out of the party. After all it is a party and we all want to have fun.3. Keep your party’s goal in mind as a game master This does not mean railroad the party. It means to read your players and see what their goals are. Your goals should be their goals. It is not a competition. When you create or use a dungeon, make sure the final treasure is something the player has in mind. Know the characters and make sure you understand how the player is interpreting their role in the party. Your goal as game master is to see their efforts come to fruition. If the part sets a goal, make sure they stick with it. When the party wanders aimlessly, this can lead to a joyless, soul sucking session. Talk with your players, directly or indirectly through NPCs (non-playing characters).4. Ensure everyone gets involved, directly or indirectly in non combat encounters The dreaded shopping session can suck the joy out of any group. Players will get super bored waiting for that one friend out to get the best armor and equipment. It can drive people batty. This is a difficult task but one the game master must ensure does not bore people. If one player is shopping for new armor, give the other players something else to do. Let them participate in the gladiator pits. Wizards should go off to a local college and engage others of his profession. Clerics should have small encounters at a local temple. Thieves should be trying to rob local marketers. It is hard but not impossible to keep track of everyone. But the game master must balance time between each character. Do not allow more than 10 minutes max to go by without engaging every player.Staying on target, keeping players involved in a game session becomes crucial to running memorable games. Running a table-top RPG as a game master can challenge the most intelligent person. But the great thing is, learning and using time management skills can make the difference in dungeon mastering. Learn to pay attention to each player. Sum up their goals as a character and make sure you can get everyone to agree on a destination. Never let a player fall behind. If a player dies, give him something else to do, even if you reincarnate them as a ghost! The main mission is to have fun and play together as a group, creating memories. Join hundreds of others as they rise up against the threat of the Leviathans and Elder Gods. Live

Source: Stay on Target: Keeping Distracted Table-Top Gamers Engaged

Dragon Gods Rising Chapter 4

A spirit entered Celundynn’s watery heaven of Ansyllar, making its way with a message. This entity verified her previous outbound message was received. Another meeting, this time for the sake of her people’s lives. The messenger, made of swirling stones with two eyes shining like magma, stopped a good distance away from her as she sat on her throne of creation. She sat for a while in contemplation of its presence. Time became very flexible within the Celestial Spheres. Ansyllar, home of all Undine spirits, was no exception.During this time, Celundynn thought about what she knew.Her husband’s blasphemous creations, humanity, caused mayhem and strife for the Salamander species and their Dragon gods. It would only be a matter of time before it all came apart. Whispers of the Dragon gods rising up and uniting tickled her ears. An emissary living in the Crater of Lugos cried out to her in prayer, telling her about the plans Draax has. The waters and Draax’s fleet have stayed quiet for a long time after their strike on Ar-Indurr. It would only be a matter of time. Time she did not have in the real world. The Goddess of Shimmering Light and Shallow Waters knew her symbiotic relationship with her followers. Nothing would stand in the way of her keeping them safe. Including her own husband.Celundynn held court in her Palace of Eternal Light, a construction of miraculous will, carved out of dreams and hopes. Bright walls made of luminous bubbling water flowing up and down divided the underwater palace. The floor looked much like any other floor you would find in the ocean, filled with sand, small creatures, and rocks. Arching over the strange walls of dividing water, fibrous coral made of strange glowing filament filled the ceiling, a living plant stretching over the whole palace. Celundynn herself formed it from the dying wishes of a coral reef, destroyed long ago by rising methane gas from the ocean floor.The small elemental creature knew it stood out as a dark, rocky shape, swirling in the otherwise calm palace. So it delivered the message quickly.“The Gnome gods will gather for you, Celundynn, to hear your plea. Meet us in the Orchard of Knowledge, Reason, and Madness when the next lunar moon is full over the city of Jaash. The exact point will be detailed in another message. Our hearts are made of stone, so make sure to bring passion and logic with you — else your requests will fall on deaf ears.”“Insolent spirit, I should crush you where you stand. But I will come at the appointed time. And I will bring both passion and reason!”The rock spirit left her palace rumbling with swirling crushed stones. The Goddess of the Shallow Waters watched the messenger disappear out of her realm. One of her many priestess advisors approached her throne. She stopped and bowed low, waiting for permission to speak. Celundynn decided long ago that every spirit in her realm would stay in the form of mermaid, with the upper half very humanoid, and the lower half a fish, to show her commitment and love for all water and land creatures. Her priestess advisors were no exception, wearing elaborate jewelry on their Human parts and allowing their tails to swim freely with no constraints. The priestess who bowed before her waiting for permission was once the finest negotiator in the seas. Norhenna’s advice came from the heart and reached through the fog of information, doubt, and fear. “Speak Norhenna, I wish your council.”“Goddess of the Light and Shallow Waters teeming with life, I understand Gnomes. After spending several of my living years as your ambassador living in the city of Pothma, nestled deep in Rhok-Kanmor mountain range where the most stubborn of Gnomes, the Stoneborn, call home; I believe you must appeal to Methussa. She will listen, and the other Gnome gods will follow. But to convince her you must state our case. The Dragon gods are uniting and will come to destroy us.”“Are we sure about this? Even now it sounds ludicrous. Their very nature is chaos and fire. They spread out their will and extinguish themselves before even thinking of a full assault on us. I only hear rumors and information inferred from my priests. Nothing solid. How can I make a case?”“Here.” Priestess Advisor Norhenna handed the goddess a crystal, deep blue in color, swirling patterns within. “The spirit of Cargo Ship Captain Farthreen Wavecrasher from the city of Nesh is inside this crystal. Let him speak before the Gnomes. They were overrun and destroyed. Even their spirits were enslaved into crystals like the one you have. One of our scouts managed to sneak aboard a Salamander vessel leaving the scene and steal several crystals back so they may find peace in your heaven.”“This is horrible. Free him at once! Why did you keep his soul trapped in the crystal after it was recovered?”“We, uh, we wanted to make sure to show you what the Salamanders did. What their gods practice and make our case.”“FREE HIM NOW.”The crystal parted. A long haired greenish bl

Source: Dragon Gods Rising Chapter 4

Downtown San Antonio During Christmas

One thing I can say, I have seen a lot of the world. Yet there is so much more I need to discover. Recently I arrived to start my new life here in San Antonio. So far its been steady progress and I am enjoying the scenery and the people here.This city looks amazing during Christmas. So enjoy a few photos I snapped during my travels downtown. All pictures copyright Richard Leon. Ask before you reuse.

Source: Downtown San Antonio During Christmas

Anointed: Mantle of the Gods Table Top RPG

Greetings Gamers and Readers,I want to blog about a particular game I produced and created, Anointed: Mantle of the Gods. Anointed marks my second table-top RPG created, with the first being New Gods of Mankind. We designed Anointed to work with New Gods of Mankind in a more intimate, detailed way. Anointed brings traditional skills, combat and fighting to a game primarily focused on New Gods, large scale conflicts and miracle casting. This game focuses on heroes in the same vein as Dungeons and Dragons. Anointed: Mantle of the Gods published in 2015 and you can buy it in print or PDF formats.If you have no idea what a tabletop game is, let me fill you in. When you played with your friends and used action figures to reenact scenes from your favorite movies, you did an early form of role-playing. Table-top RPGs focus on more mature, collaborative efforts which enable us to empathize and relate to a fantastical world and gain insight. Rainy days and dark cold nights beckon the need for stories and imaginative exercises. Wikipedia has an excellent article about what a Table-Top game here. Quote “A tabletop role-playing game (or pen-and-paper role-playing game) is a form of role-playing game (RPG) in which the participants describe their characters’ actions through speech. Participants determine the actions of their characters based on their characterization, and the actions succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines. Within the rules, players have the freedom to improvise; their choices shape the direction and outcome of the game.”I wont go into the myriad types of table-top RPGs out there. Instead I will focus on what makes Anointed so unique.1. It ties into a meta-game/ universe. We designed Anointed specifically to work with New Gods of Mankind. It can operate on its own, or be used to form a unique game where players play as gods, armies and the heroes. It creates a meta narrative and this truly is a unique gaming experience. Most games will limit the players to one point of view. Players in New Gods of Mankind can create sagas, with gods and heroes. Armies can clash but the focus remains the story emphasized with easy rules. If you seek a game with a broad vision and the ability to play multiple parts in a huge campaign, this system is for you. 2. The background and story stands out.  This game does not use typical Tolkien styled fantasy elements. We took the classic elements of Aristotle and created corresponding species which came to life. Salamanders (resistant to fire), Gnomes (made of rock), Sylphs (who can fly) and Undines (aquatic species) make up the four main sentient species on the planet. Wood Nymphs and a couple of giants round out the races.Even the world background stands on its own. The setting  takes place over Eight Thousand Years from now on a distant planet. In a couple of thousand years from now, humans colonize the planet. Humanity dies when the elemental spirits of the world become sentient and figure out humans are taking/ destroying parts of the planet. The elements originate in their thoughts from humanity. Currently humanity struggles as a new species on the planet Naalrinnon. Mankind only uses Bronze Age tools, for now. Every piece of new technology gets assimilated and mankind seeks to build alliances and cities with each other. The main difference between the bronze age on earth and bronze age in Naalrinnon comes from the gods who cast miracles and protect their tribe. Humans rely on their tribal gods to protect them literally with no metaphorical difference. The gods incarnate for real on Naalrinnon. These small, human gods often appear and disappear for many reasons. Either their tribe dies off,  the people stops worshiping them or even worse. The New God gets captured and bound with no more belief left to get them out of the jam.

Source: Anointed: Mantle of the Gods Table Top RPG

Sexy Friday Night Music, Melt by Duke Dumont

I’d like to continue my selection of Friday Night music with another favorite. This is more of House Chill than Death Metal. But the intent is the same. One of my favorite stations on Sirius XM Radio is Chill or 53. When this song came on the radio, it blew me away and really set the groove for an awesome Friday Night. Adam George Dyment or Duke Dumont, makes groovy tunes in the UK. His single, Need U was nominated for Best Dance Recording back in 2014. He owns his own record label Blase Boys Club. Check it out here. Lyrics Below. So close, I melt into youKiss me darlingKiss me babyI can feel your fingers touching meKiss me darlingKiss me babyAll caressing my deepest though, yesKiss me darlingKiss me babyI can feel you whisper in my earKiss me darlingCause when you’re so closeI melt into youI melt into youTouch me babyTouch me darlingI melt into youKiss me babyOow, your lips on meSo, close, to meSo closeI melt into youKiss me darlingKiss me babyI can feel your fingers touching meKiss me darlingKiss me babyAll caressing my deepest though, yesKiss me darlingKiss me babyI can feel you whisper in my earKiss me darlingCause when you’re so closeI melt into youI melt into youImages property of Duke Dumont

Source: Sexy Friday Night Music, Melt by Duke Dumont

Inspiration by Coffee

I must say if it was not for coffee, I would be a bore. Coffee and the caffeine it contains acts like a little muse inside of me. As my mind slowly wakes up, chemicals fire within my brain. New neuron pathways connect. An idea percolates and issues forth. From my thoughts to this keyboard an act of creation happens. So for this I am truly thankful.Over 83% of all adults in America drink coffee according to this 2013 article from USA TODAY.That is more than any other nation out there. But then again when I was in Kuwait and Dubai, Starbucks existed on pretty much every corner near the malls and major roads. I would say countries in the Middle East would give Americans a run for their money as far as how many people drink coffee. Unlike America, alcohol is forbidden to Muslims and banned in Kuwait and several other countries.  Coffee’s origins can be traced back to the 15th Century in Yemen, located in the Middle East. The Sufis, deep within their monasteries started to cultivate the bean. They obtained the first seeds from Ethiopia. This first brew would help them during their nighttime devotions. One legend attributes the first cup of coffee to Abul Hasan ash-Shadhili, founder of the Shadhili Sufis (part of Sunni Islam). For more information go here. Whatever the case may be, coffee did originate in this region first, then spread throughout the Ottoman Empire. From there it jumped into Italy and spread throughout Europe. Finally it reached America in the 1720s out in the Caribbean.Now on to what happens when you drink the stuff. Here is what Coffee does to your brain. Check out this video below. Coffee releases several chemicals into your brain and body. Adenosine, Adrenaline and Dopamine push our body to another level of operation, giving us the feeling of energy. Too much coffee though can have the opposite effect. There is even a lethal dose of coffee which is 14000mg. An average cup has 150mg. I personally benefit at least 3 to 5 times a week from coffee and caffeinated substances. Without it I would not be able to produce what I need. A few people have sworn off coffee and its effects. But I will always reach for that cup of coffee on a Monday morning.Now my favorite Coffee is Café Bustello. Runner ups are Illy and Starbucks. I do like Community Coffee and I will tolerate the occasional cup of Folgers. For cold coffee I love UCC made in Japan. 7-11 has some great choices of coffee if you are in a hurry. I usually take my coffee with Sweet and Low (the pink packets) and that is it. No creamer or other substance. Maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon during cold weather. What kind of coffee do you like? How do you take your coffee? Let me know in the comments.

Source: Inspiration by Coffee

Adventure Game vs. RPG

The Heavy Metal GM

When I think of an adventure game, I personally think Talisman. I sat down to randomly play that one time at Battleground Games and Hobbies, the local watering hole. It was my first shot at an adventure game (besides some early run ins with HeroQuest) and it was actually really interesting and fun. The problem was mainly the length. But is that really a problem though?

Sticking an adventure game next to, say an RPG, no. RPG campaigns last years and years, sometimes. Are they really that different from one another? It’s a complicated question. In spirit, they are very much the same thing: a means of telling an interactive story with a group of friends. That’s about where the similarities end, though. However, I really think that adventure games have a huge relevance among role playing enthusiasts. They’re really good at introducing somebody who, say, likes board…

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Repairing the Cracks in Us

Perfectionism, a constant mental state we strive towards. An unobtainable, idealistic condition of reality. Our burden and carrot on a stick. Excellence in our personal and professional life is barely tolerable. We must move forward to the next star. For shooting at the moon is far too meager of a goal. We, the professional, the business oriented human work, day in and day out towards a state of being which does not exist since the beginning of our universe. Perfectionism can be admirable. Yet it will be the early death of us all. In our lives and in our relationships, perfectionism and its evil sister intolerance often destroys as much as drive us forward.There is another way to strive towards your goals. Kintsugi or “Golden Joinery” the Japanese art form of repairing broken pottery with gold, silver and other precious metals doubles as a philosophy. In the 15th century of feudal Japan, a notable Shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimas introduced the technique when a Chinese tea bowl returned from repairs riddled with staples. Looking at the ugly repairs on his precious tea bowl, the Shogun spoke with several craftsmen who came up with a better solution. Thus Kintsugi was born. In those days, during the height of Higashiyama Culture, the tea ceremony, or Sado became a critical component of the culture. When the Shogun used a broken tea pot during a critical ceremony, it threw every member of court for a loop. It also caused many to admire and reflect upon this. After much introspection, several Zen Buddhist philosophies such as Wabi Sabi and Mushin grew further during this time. Many people began smashing their pottery on purpose, just to have golden joinery applied to it. Wabi Sabi, the Japanese philosophy, holds tenants consisting of impermanence, suffering and emptiness. Pottery fixed to become something better in this life reflected these ideas. Even though life is temporary and we all must suffer, one can find beauty in our own flaws. We can transcend our past, our problems and become something better. It is OK not to be perfect. Our flaws can be turned into strengths. Our imperfections a beauty born of suffering. Martial artists enter into a heightened state called, Mushin, or No Mind. One can think of the mind on overdrive where mere words cannot express the quickness of thought and action. This technique is expressed in Kintsugi as the broke pottery accepts the fate given to it. Damaged and now repaired, the pottery becomes a beautiful object, more valuable than before, because of the flaws illuminated. The repaired cracks in the pottery express strength through suffering, as it endured destruct

Source: Repairing the Cracks in Us

Unpopular Opinion: The Phantom Menace Wasn’t A Bad Movie

I agree with these points.

James Harrington's Blog of Geek and Writing

Shaddap!

Okay we all remember Episode 1 being the most anticipated movie in almost all of history. Fans were nuts! Action figures literally flew off of the shelves (I think I still have a few) and people were ready for Star Wars fever. We’ve been without a new movie for over a decade and were itching for this.

What we got… did not please a great many people…

Yeah… we all know this one. The introduction of Jar Jar Binks alone was a crime that most of us couldn’t get past. If we weren’t wishing his death, we were bringing up identity politics and accusing Lucas of writing him as a gay black freed slave stereotype… yes that’s actually a thing!

No one is going to deny that Jar Jar Binks was awful… and he wasn’t alone…

Aside from stupid characters, PAINFULLY forced dialogue:

and themes that completely destroyed our…

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