Power Rangers RPG Campaign

I looked at the character sheet for the new Power Rangers RPG and I can’t help but to want to build a campaign.

I just saw the character sheet for this game…

And like so many other character sheets, it got me thinking. There is so much potential for this particular RPG to be outstanding in my collection as a GM. I have four kids who are all huge fans of the series, plus my wife is a huge fan of the original Green Ranger played by Jason David Frank.

I’m going to walk through some of my design process without a system attached on here just for fun. The first thing I want to consider is the version of Earth’s timeline or alternate Earth. This happens in several Power Ranger series and is referenced throughout some seasons. Personally, I love cameo appearances by rangers from older series. Megaforce was probably my favorite for this reason.

The opportunities presented by this new RPG are just too juicy to pass up.

Looks very familiar. Similar to D&D.

Needless to say, we’re going to probably start with an alternate timeline to Mighty Morphing. I mean, the original characters were cool and all, but why not kick it up a notch? Think about it. The Time Force Rangers knew alternate Earths exist. What’s to keep our old original arch enemy, Rita Repulsa from doing the same? What if she cast a spell that broke the time/space/dimensional barrier?

I’m going to start out with Lord Zed as the main bad guy in Season One of Power Rangers, uh… ooh. We need a name. Power Rangers Lightning Force. Okay, I can work with that. My 12 year old already has his character designed, like the minute I mentioned it. He wants to play Blue Phoenix. Can you tell he’s excited?

The idea here is not to just replay the old scripts.

Hence an alternate timeline. We’ll keep a few things here and there, but let’s mix and match. Gonna try to go slightly more serious than the Bulk and Skull type characters, but not as dark as the 15 minute remake with Katee Sackhoff that got banned. (Loved it for what it was, but yeesh. Dark…)

The characters are still going to start out as high school students in detention together. We’ll have a Breakfast Club type opening with them all in weekend detention together. My wife will probably want to play Tommy Oliver as a girl, if I had to guess. Tommi Oliver it is. I want to minimize the use of NPC rangers, but so far I’m betting I’ll have three or four solid players at the most with my wife and oldest popping in and out. My youngest is still learning how to play games and sit still, so he might get relegated to GMs helper to begin with.

I’m going to plan on the team only having four colors starting out.

We can always add more later, right? The original team for Lightning Force will be Red (Dragon) Blue (Phoenix) Black (Chimera?) and Green (Pegasus?) I may have to recruit a player or two online and adjust. Again, we’re in the development phase, so nothing is locked down. I’m feeling a very magical flying monster vibe so far.

We’re going to leave the gang in Angel Grove but I’m thinking the population might change. Ever notice how monsters regularly rampage through the town, smashing buildings and crushing cars? Why don’t we ever hear about innocent bystanders during these battles? I want there to be some kind of consequences to not leading the giant monsters out of town whenever possible. Who’d want to live in that town? Can you imagine the real estate nightmares? But I digress…

In the next installment of this campaign building series, let’s talk about the bad guys a bit. I want something more than a gold monkey with wings. I’m kinda considering borrowing extensively from a gaming company that is no stranger to trademark lawsuits. Think of it as a tribute to 40K. But if I’m flirting with danger, why not go all in?

Til then, take care. Please stay healthy. Eat your vitamins, drink plenty of water, get some exercise, get some sleep, and avoid giant monsters rampaging through your town if you can. Game on.

Hex Crawl Adventures

This style of play isn’t for everyone, but one thing I recommend for players and GMs/DMs who get burned out on the same old campaign world is to drop the player characters onto a brand new planet or sub-plane/demi-plane after an adventure or two in the old world. Much the same way the mists of Ravenloft used to abduct entire groups of adventurers, the PCs could literally just wake up in a new world and have to explore to try and find a way home, if they ever want to go back.

Exploration at its most fun!

Many gamers from back in the day probably still remember the old Expert Set adventure, Isle of Dread. Which is now reprinted here as a deluxe hardcover. My copy came with my original Expert D&D Blue boxed set. I have spent hours pouring over this module. I love it for its simplicity and charm. Not to mention several terrifying adventure sessions running around dodging dinosaurs and cannibals.

Without too many spoilers, X1 Isle of Dread sets up as a shipwreck. Or at least that’s my preferred way of running it. From there, the PCs have to salvage what they can for supplies, pick a direction, and start exploring. Assuming they have time to choose wisely because they’re not being chased by something. Thus, for many of us, began what is now commonly referred to as a “Hex Crawl.”

Small Hex Grid

If you’re running a game, this can be a fast way to put together a campaign world on the fly. Or, for a completely random campaign of fantasy adventure, you can literally roll as you go or roll for any blank surrounding hexes next to the one the party just entered.

This style of game is a hoot because the person running it doesn’t necessarily even know what’s coming next. Personally, I recommend rolling for the adjoining hexes at the end of the session just so the GM can prep accordingly. That, and some landmarks are going to be dead obvious to the group, especially if they can get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area.

I’ve seen all manner of distances applied to hexes from one mile to ten miles across or more. Some people like to draw on them with colored pencils or mark key land features for future reference. If you’re running a game based on random hexes, you can also have tables for encounters in any given terrain type, or even preset adventures for when the group enters “X” hex space. Ruins are a great example.

Example courtesy of Shieldice Studio’s Realm Fables: Hex-Worlds

This style of world generation is also very useful if designing your own campaign world, especially if it’s set in a time before modern or magical global cartography. (There’s an adventure seed there for someone- Imagine a mage’s guild whose entire job is to teleport to random places, make a quick map, and teleport back before they get eaten by the locals…) I use this generation method myself because I don’t want to give away the whole map at once. Usually, I have a page of the larger hexes as my starting campaign map and then make more map pages as my group ventures out from their current hex.

I usually have some vague, general idea of where I want them to end up and what’s around it, but I certainly don’t have the whole thing lined up all in one week. That’s one distinct advantage homebrew worlds have over premade settings. The group can legitimately say, “We don’t know where we’re going yet. No one has been there yet as far as we know.”

How do I (h)explore if my group is in a premade world?

This style of play isn’t for everyone, but one thing I recommend for players and GMs/DMs who get burned out on the same old campaign world is to drop the player characters onto a brand new planet or sub-plane/demi-plane after an adventure or two in the old world. Much the same way the mists of Ravenloft used to abduct entire groups of adventurers, the PCs could literally just wake up in a new world and have to explore to try and find a way home, if they ever want to go back.

Once they’ve been transported from the old familiar maps they may be used to, the group is going to have to become somewhat more resourceful. If you think about it, food might not look the same. There are no familiar landmarks to go by. Heck, the stars aren’t going to look the same, if there are stars. Different planes have different rules. Maybe there’s perpetual day or night. Maybe there’s no metal as far as the locals know. This makes exploration one of the most valuable pillars in any RPG where the group is engaged in a hex crawl.

One word of caution for using this style of play- You may wish to limit certain types of magic if you’re going to have a good hex crawl. At low levels, it’s not a huge problem. Teleportation can be a regular game wrecker for hex crawls. So can certain divination spells. Even basic flying can get out of hand if the GM doesn’t find a way to reasonably limit it. (Freakish thunderstorms, flying monsters, antiaircraft flora…) Obviously technology can make things rough on the GM and super easy on the party. Look how far humans got with just a telescope and a few simple navigational tools here on Earth.

The nice thing about dropping the group onto a whole new world is they can hex crawl for a few sessions or the rest of the campaign. I do recommend if you’re going to turn the game into this style of play that it be mentioned before characters are made. Obviously someone’s 100 page backstory is going to deflate completely if they’re no longer anywhere near those places and events mentioned therein. Artificers, Clerics, and druids are going to be extremely useful or completely hosed depending on where they end up. It’s also a good time to introduce any major rules changes the GM might wish to impose due to the new environment. Please make sure everyone is on board before the hex crawl begins.

Hope this little foray into the worlds of hexcrawling was useful. I may drop another article similar to this one down the line explaining how to set up the random tables with more examples of adjudicating a hex crawl game. Have a great day. Take care. Game on.

FATE?

It attached itself to the hull. At first it was just a nuisance. Then the crew began to change…

Horror? One Shot? In Space?!?

I’m thinking about putting together a one-shot game or possibly a mini campaign. I like FATE because it’s a simple system and easy to work with. I’m not sure what kind of an audience I would have for the kind of adventure I want to write, though.

Some background. I like anime a lot. Much of the material I tend to come up with for funsies in my own head usually revolves around some type of anime game such as OVA, BESM, Gratuitous Anime Gimmick, Mecha Hack, and so on. I’ve played around with a lot of systems over the years. I also love Mecha v Kaiju for FATE, which is roundabout how I got here.

My favorite anime series, of which there are many, is still Neon Genesis Evangelion. I also love Chrome Shelled Regios, Appleseed, Satellizer El Bridget (Freezing,) Macross, and Arpeggio of Blue Steel. I never get tired of anime, especially anything with giant robots. I also loved long Cowboy Bebop before it got popular again (Just ask my wife, who got tired of listening to Real Folk Blues…)

I’m shooting for a change of pace on this one.

Chrome Shelled Regios is getting incorporated into a D&D campaign I’m building, especially the dite. However I still love the idea behind the contaminoids. They had to spread through space, theoretically. And that brings around my love of two other series; Starship Troopers and Aliens.

Here’s kind of the premise for the adventure: The group runs into a distress beacon from a ship that has this big, gnarly thing attached to its hull. The ship has had an outbreak of a zombie-like virus that is killing the crew. Turns out the big gnarly thing is using humanoid hosts to turn the ship into its egg.

What to do with the ship? What to do with the crew? Do we cure them? Rev up the space chainsaws and start beheading zombies? Nuke the whole thing from orbit? Where did the big nasty bug come from? Are there more?

This could literally turn into a campaign or series of campaigns and the more I think about it the more cool ideas bubble up. There’s only two questions remaining. The first is what system? The second is, do I drop this into an established universe or just run with my own?

These questions and more answered in another article. Game on. Have fun!

Do I Have to Do it “Their” Way?

If the world was open? If it had its own OGL? If it were free to distribute AND had a good system? Heaven!

Pathfinder Second Edition vs Dungeons & Dragons 5E

Please forgive me. This post is not intended to start an online donnybrook over whose system is best. **Disclaimer:** Play whichever system you like. Decide for yourself what you prefer. Thank you!

Yesterday I was discussing whether or not one should play/run/create content for D&D 5E strictly for rules-as-written or homebrew. Homebrew is awesome! But with 5E being the top dog in the industry right now, it’s also the one most people are playing with/creating material for. I love 5E for this reason.

I used to dog on Pathfinder pretty hard when it started. BUT…

Yeah. I’m guilty of that. I’m sorry family. It’s true. I used to think it was strictly intended for all the Third Edition D&D players that couldn’t handle Fourth Edition. BUT! I came around. Just in time for Pathfinder Second Edition.

Lessons learned, I LOVE Pathfinder 2E! The mechanics are great. The classes are pretty cool. It’s flexible. Paizo learned from their previous edition. The main rulebook is heavy enough to defend my home from burglars… It’s all good. Some day I might do a full review.

There’s another catch with PF2E, though.

If you are playing D&D 5E as written, you’re playing in the default setting of Forgotten Realms. There’s also Eberron, Ravnica, and soon I guess they’re releasing Spelljammer and possibly Planescape. If you go online there are literally hundreds of other campaign worlds and settings along with conversions of older settings. Please don’t panic. There is plenty of room for more. The Open Gaming License literally opened the floodgates for more world building than anyone ever imagined.

Pathfinder 2E, not so much… While Pathfinder Infinite has opened their world to creators, it’s pretty much their world. I don’t mind this, but it doesn’t leave a lot of room for world building. That’s unfortunate. So, yay, I can homebrew PF2E, but then I have to figure out how literally everything translates into PF2-ese. So, yay Golarian.

I will say Starfinder, which is more or less Pathfinder in space, just opened up considerably with the Galaxy Exploration guide. That’s cool. Space is infinite. The Universe is literally infinite and that’s without alternate dimensions. It would be foolhardy to lock players into one star system or one planet for a space game.

I see this happen with other games.

I collect RPGs like mad. I love games. I love mecha and anime games especially. Alas, many of them seem to fall into one of about three categories. 1. They have their own very specific campaign setting/world. Again, yay, but it’s not what I’m looking for. 2. They’re too generic. A lot of games have great mechanics, but just don’t go far enough into what I was looking for in their game. 3. Last, they don’t have any kind of OGL attached. Which means they’re literally the only source of material for that game.

I understand companies having exclusive rights to certain properties. Ask anyone who used to work for T$R or West End Games about Lucasfilm. They’ll probably cringe. Star Wars was especially tough to work with, from what I hear. Ugnaughts anyone? Margret Weis Productions had a deal with Battlestar Galactica RPG. A lot of established properties don’t want people willy-nilly adding to their setting and then publishing it, which thoroughly wrecks the official canon and creates all kinds of plot holes. Seems fair to limit creative access, right?

But why lock an indie game possibly with its own unique system, into a specific setting? Seriously, I would love to work for just about any game company on almost any system. (I have a few disclaimers, but we’ll leave that for another day.) But if the world was open? If it had its own OGL? If it were free to distribute AND had a good system??? Heaven!

I might not exactly love D&D 5E for certain mechanics.

But at least the OGL lets us create our own worlds, classes, characters, and so on with an established system that actually does work pretty darn well. Ironically, PF2E is based on roughly the same mechanics. There are a LOT of d20 based games. At this point, if I’m publishing on DrivethruRPG, my intention is to do something d20 based or a superhero game like ICONS. The only other generic systems I’ve really enjoyed so far have been FATE and Open Legends. Again, I’d have to spend some serious time developing within those systems because there are certain things kinda missing that I’m looking for mechanically. (Again, that’s another discussion.)

I love Paizo’s take on d20. I think the Starfinder/Pathfinder mechanics are well thought out. I think PF2E is loads of fun. I almost taught my kids to play it before D&D 5E. PF2E has not become the runaway train of supplements that its predecessor did. I look forward to their upcoming releases and writing some adventures set in Golarian probably just for fun. Maybe not for publication. Starfinder Infinite material might be a possibility, depending…

I love D&D 5E because I’m building my own very odd, wacky, very fun (hopefully) campaign world. With some help from the Universe, I might even publish it. And I have some “generic” fantasy stuff that I’m again planning for DMsGuild hopefully in the near future. Pathfinder Infinite might be another story. I don’t know yet.

I’m also working on a more solidly constructed portfolio to show off some of my writing talents. In the meantime, if you are interested in hiring me as a writer I am quite available. Heh heh. No seriously! LOL! Please hire me? Heck, if you’re local I’ll even walk your dog or something.

Until next time, take care.

Campaign Worldsmithing

I want there to be a rich, positively huge world. I want to build a world so big that my first group might have to hex crawl at first just to find their way around. Nature will be lush and grow very rapidly…

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to building a fantasy new campaign world for the Fifth Edition of the World’s Most Renowned RPG and deciding what all I want to have go into it. I know several things I don’t want that I’ve seen over my many years of running games that are too numerous to list here. I will go over the highlights of some things I think would be fun.

First off, I want there to be a rich, positively huge world. I want to build a world so big that my first group might have to hex crawl at first just to find their way around. Nature will be lush and grow very rapidly, which is why there could be ruined cities buried beneath the dirt and in the trees. Needless to say, druids and shamans will have a fun time.

Awesome Warforged Samurai
Image created using HeroForge.

Speaking of classes, I want to bring back some old favorites of mine and build upon the preexisting ones in ways that haven’t entirely been covered yet. Samurai will play a large role in things socially and politically, as well as their weapon-mastering cousins- the Kensai. Obviously I plan on Ninja, Shugenja, and the Wu Jen making a comeback. I keep looking at ways to integrate Sohei as well without sacrificing any of the PHB classes.
Races: Simply put, I love elves. There will be lots of them. There will be several of the old favorites and a race somewhat similar to the Warforged of Eberron fame. I also want Gnomes to play key roles, too,

Dragons: Here there BE DRAGONS!!! I love dragons. I don’t think enough campaigns or adventures feature enough of them. Fizban’s Treasury looks to be a fun book for me to draw resources from. I also have some great ideas that I need some serious art talent to have help with. Not everything can be done up with stick figures and protractors.

I love dragons!!!
Image c/o WotC. Used without permission.

Ancient and recurring evil: Part of my style of D&D has always been good vs evil. Since I know Blizzard will never cut a deal with WotC ever again, I figure I can incorporate some Diablo style elements into my game. I’m also a big WoW fan, but I want to stay away from some of that material for fear of looking too much like WoW. I may borrow bits and bobs such as magic items and monsters, just with my own spin on them.

I’m angling for this guy and his bros to show up in a game someday.
Used without permission. Please don’t sue me. Thank you.

I know WotC has said they plan to resurrect two of their old campaign worlds, and possibly a third sometime before 2024’s revision of the game. My educated guesses so far are: Dark Sun, Planescape, and possibly Spelljammer. We’ll see what they do. I think they should bring back Mystara and possibly Greyhawk. Honestly, I think the rights might be a bit tricky on some of the older properties, though. I’d also love to see Birthright or Al-Qadim, but I’d bet against those after seeing what WotC put on DMsGuild as a disclaimer regarding some of their older games. (Personally, I think they’re trying to hard to appear sensitive, but…) I’m seriously doubting OA will ever make a comeback in any way.

Anyway, my world will pull a little from Birthright. I loved the way Regents were connected to their lands and gained powers from it. What if any character could draw additional powers from their homeland? Or if they had spirit helpers? What if rulers could shut down their borders by spells or natural abilities? Yeah… Makes me salivate. Lol!

I plan on rebuilding the weapon list from scratch. Like many DMs, I take great pain in what has become of some of my favorites as well as those of the players. The same can be said of the armor table and many spells. It will be time-consuming and I won’t have it all worked out right away. Spell revisions and changes tend to take a long time.

Of course, no world would be complete without the presence of many of the classic monsters. The undead will certainly make a large appearance. Sorry, as hard as I try to avoid the clich├ęs, I know there will be liches, vampires, skeletons, and zombies to fight. We’ll also see the standard spread of elementals, hydras, manticores, yokai, kodama, and dozens of other creatures from European and Asian sources. That’s kinda my thing.

I want the campaign to center around exploration first and foremost. We can dig into politics and religions once the campaign has been going for a while. I really want this to be the type of game where the PCs get to decide where they’re going. I want to try to avoid any heavy-handed NPCs and massive secret agendas that no one can do anything about. (Sorry, burned out on FR and Eberron that way.) I also want to avoid NPCs looking at the group and saying, “Been there. Done that.”

My intention is eventually to start putting pieces on here and some pdfs out for some of my basic things, such as weapon and armor revisions. I don’t want to charge much/anything at all until I start getting some basic maps made and a little bit of the lore written. Eventually I’m going to have enough built up to consider a Kickstarter or getting some money together for artists and possibly mapmaking. By the time 5.5 or 6.0 rolls around, I might have something concrete.

If you made it this far, thanks for hanging out with me. I appreciate you! Stay safe and see you again soon.

Game World Creation Journal

I won’t lie. I start a lot of projects. I don’t necessarily finish them. I get sidetracked rather easily. Okay, more like derailed.

And I have a TON of ideas. Heck, I’ve got ideas for getting more ideas. Creativity fountain for days. I have that in spades, hexagons, even. Heh heh… makin up my own card suits. See?

My latest venture, among others, is creating my own D&D Campaign world. I have some challenges to overcome. I also have a ton of cool stuff I want to do, probably more than I can fit into one book or even one world. I get really excited because they’re all things I’ve wanted to do for years and years.

I have all these cool plans for kingdoms. Challenge: Mapping
I have all these neat ideas for various race/culture combos. Challenge: Fitting everything on a map
Races have become the new hot topic in D&D as of late. Do we even call them races any more? Some folks are struggling with gender and pronouns. Where do we draw the line?
I want to rewrite the weapon/armor tables. Challenge: Players are going to freak out. Possibly in a good way, but still.
Classes are one of my favorite things to tinker with. Challenge: How will players and DMs react to certain traditional classes being tossed out?

I think world design and campaign design should break certain rules and go outside the guidelines. Creativity isn’t about stressing over who’s getting offended today. Maybe coming up with new ways of not-stressing the audience out, sure.

So my plan here is to simply start the damn thing and see it all the way through. It may take me 20 years and be published after my death, but hey- we’ll get there. More to come as I develop it. Prepare to be freaked out, possibly.

%d bloggers like this: