Thursday, March 26, 2020

Setting The Scene Part 1 - The Introductory Scene

Welcome to Jeepers Keepers! We have a lot of ground to cover, so let's jump right in!

"What do you do?" is probably the most-asked question by anyone running a tabletop roleplaying game. It's also one of the most exciting questions, fraught with potential because the answer can be anything. During a Call of Cthulhu session I was running a few years ago, my then-9 year old daughter (who had been listening peripherally), answered, "I turn into a cat and sneak through the window!"

Of course, as we get older, we tend to interpret that question to infer that the answer will be something possible within the rules of the game we are playing but that still a whole lot of wriggle room on the part of the player.

As a Dungeon Master/ Game Master/ Keeper of Eldritch Lore/ Lore Master/ etc we have a very powerful tool in our GMing box that can help us fine-tune that response to a point where we can seem pre-cognitive: setting the scene.

A GM sets the scene in many ways: by revealing a new section of a map laid out before the players, describing strange runes on an ancient door, what lies in the chamber beyond that very door, or a malevolent smile as a player tells you they are opening the door without checking for traps first. A scene can also be set up by playing music (Music is a great way to set up a mid scene change -- more of that in the next post), or in stopping music that was already playing.

Our imagination will go a long way in helping us come up with colorful descriptions, but we also shouldn't turn our nose up at having a list in front of us with key evocative words or even pre-scripted text if it will help add atmosphere and drama. (Yup, there will be posts about that as well)

Let's listen to a couple of examples from Episode 1 of my of actual play podcast running Horror On The Orient Express for Call of Cthulhu 7th edition.

This scene is set up by means of a verbal "establishing shot", a top-down explanation of the world outside the scene itself. The virtual camera then closes in on a specific location (a music hall), and then a specific person (the Player Character). We learn that London is gearing up for the holidays and is in a festive mood even though there hasn't been any snowfall yet. We know the date and time of day. We also learn that the Player Character is a performer.

Here's another example from the same episode:

This scene is set up a little different. We get just the basic details here: a priest is relaxing in his apartment attached to a London parish, reading the newspaper on a Sunday afternoon, when he receives an unexpected telephone call.

One thing that both of these scenes have in common is the lack of the question, "What do you do?" One reason for that is because I typically reserve that question for when I have set up a dilemma for the players (There will be a post on dilemmas coming soon). Since I don't need specific information, I'm willing to wait and let the player carry the story forward. With less experienced players, you may need to plant a bit of action into your setup so that they know that's their cue to act, but more experienced players will interpret that pause as an invitation to join in the storytelling at that point.

Gamemasters will want to exercise caution in how much detail they put into setting up a scene, there are times when you will want (and need) a longer setup, and times when you will want to keep it short and sweet. Very long stretches of read text can feel like you are railroading the players, however, and that they are not contributing to the world at all, just moving through a maze set up by the GM.

I hope you found this short discussion on setting up a scene helpful! There are several other aspects to setting up scenes that will be covered in future posts.  How about you? How do you like to set up a scene? Does it differ when you are running a pre-written adventure compared to a home brew one? Comment below and keep the conversation going!

Friday, May 18, 2018

The One Ring RPG Documents

Don't mess with Dain.

Heya folks!

I've been away for a bit, busy with life and all that.  I'm currently involved in an ongoing The One Ring campaign that I am having a ton of fun with, we play once a week via Roll20.  I'm playing one of the Dwarves of the Lonley Mountain named Nur.  I put together a couple of documents to help me role-play a dwarf and I wanted to share them with you all.

I do not take any credit for the information in these documents, it has all been stolen off the interwebs, most of it via straight copy and paste.  I just wanted to pull together all of this knowledge on Dwarves to help create and play my character.  If anyone has an issue with these documents please let me know and I will pull them down.

The first is a Khuzdul/English document.  It has various phrases and words and is divided up into several sections on various topics.  Most of this was pulled from a blog called Midgardsmal by David Soto, he worked on MERPS and did some translations of Neo-Khuzdul for the LOTR and Hobbit movies since there was so little original Khuzdul written by Tolkien, his site is awesome so check it out.  Here is the document:


The second document is everything I could locate on Dwarves and their history, places of importance, specific Dwarves, their wars and smithing/treasures.  Most of this is copied straight from various articles on Tolkiengateway  I just wanted everything in a handy document to use while playing.  Here is the document:


Well I hope that helps all you dwarf fans and role-players out there.  Like I said, if anyone has a problem with these documents please let me know and I'll pull them down.  Take care people!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

DnD Giveaway - Results!

Happy holidays everyone!

Today is the day I announce the winner of the DnD Giveaway!  There were a total of seven entries,I get to roll my trusty d7 (thanks DCCRPG).  The result is a 6!

Looks like Gothridge Manor is our winner!  Congratulations and thanks everyone for entering the contest.  Gothridge Manor please contact me at jasonc1976 (at) gmail (dot) com with your shipping information and I'll get it shipped out when I return from my vacation (some time after 12/24). 

Take care everyone and see you all in the new year!  Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

DnD Giveaway!

Heya folks!

So today I have a little something for you all, I mistakenly pre-ordered TWO copies of Xanathar's Guide to Everything for DnD5e.  I was a little excited for it and forgot that I had already pre-ordered it when I placed the second order.  Yes I'm a geek and a fanboy.  In the spirit of the holiday season I am giving away my extra copy to one of my readers.

Make a comment below and I'll enter your name in a random drawing that will be done on Saturday 12/16/2017.  I do not promise that it will be shipped in time for Christmas!  Good luck to you all and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Friday, December 1, 2017

The One Ring - Moria

Cubicle7 recently announced a new product due out in 2018, MORIA - A Deluxe Boxed Set!!  There is little other information availible so far, only this 27 second teaser video from Cubicle7's website:

Keep yours eyes on this space, I'll be posting any new information revealed, I am super stoked for this product!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Laughter of Dragons Cover

Boom!  How's that for a cover!  Today Cubicle7 released the never before seen cover for the upcoming adventure series The Laughter of Dragons for The One Ring RPG.  This book of adventures is the companion to the Erebor source-book and will contain a series of six linked adventures.  The cover was done by Sam Manley and its a beauty!

I will be posting a review of The Oaths of the Riddermark in the next week or two, stay tuned and have a happy holiday everyone!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Bree - A Review

Hey folks,

I'm back with yet ANOTHER The One Ring review!  Bree was recently released in .pdf format and I believe that the dead tree versions are currently being shipped.  I'm hoping mine arrives soon as this is another fantastic Cubicle7 product!  More after the break!