I’ve been into RPGs for a while now, and I’ve enjoyed both playing in and running the game. I guess I’d split running vs. playing as 50/50, so I’ve had my fair share of game masters to learn from, and plenty of time to solidify my own style.
I recently sat in a game with a brand new game master, and (like usual) had a grand time. This was his very first time running a gaming session, and I’d say he did a good job. He’d been playing in the game for a couple of years, and he’s one of those people who can read a book and remember everything—so he’s pretty knowledgeable about the rules.
We had a good time.
Well, except for one time…
You see, right in the middle of combat a player interpreted a rule one way (in their favor), and this brand new GM interpreted it another. There was some discussion back and forth between the two… including references to forums, and I could see both were getting a bit frustrated (especially the player). I really wanted to chime in with my own two cents, but I and everyone else just waited. After a couple of minutes, the player relented and the game resumed.
Now, there’s a variety of ways this could have been handled, and I guess it depends on what the people at your table prefer. Some say it’s perfectly fine for a player and GM to discuss their interpretations right then. Others say that the GM is god and should simply make an immediate and final ruling. Others say to immediately spend time looking up the rule and dissect the wording, or perhaps going online to search forums and social media groups to seek a consensus. Sometimes there’s even a group vote!
Now, I’m not talking about when a player is unsure of a rule; I’m talking about when a player and the GM have opposing views and are sticking to their guns.
Of course, after many years of gaming, I’ve seen the best solution make its way to different tables over and over again, because it’s the best…
Rule in favor of the player… immediately.
Then, research it later. Research it after the game, or even after a good night’s sleep. When you immediately rule in favor of the adamant player (even if you know they are wrong), you’re saying that their enjoyment is important to you, and you’re helping them achieve that.
We’re sitting at the table to play a game… to play a rolelaying game. Rule discussions and arguments take you out of character, interrupt the story, and kill the mood. So what if a rule is being interpreted incorrectly? Figure it out later. Figure it out when you’re not under pressure, when the player is more likely to listen to you with open ears. Who knows? Maybe you were wrong. If you were right, you can show them the correct interpretation–later. Remember, the game master is not there to rule over the players like a god; they’re there to help everyone have fun in a fair way.
Besides, if you tend to rule in favor of the player, they’ll be more likely to trust you and accept when you actually rule against them.
Despite being god-awful at math, I like to try to make sense of the D&D Economy.
So, assuming tenday weeks (as per Forgotten Realms), and according to the PHB, a skilled laborer makes 2gp a day, and unskilled 2sp a day. Both are variable with these as minimum wages, but we know from Tomb of Annihilation that jungle guides into literal death itself equates to about 5gp a day. We also know that spending 1gp a day is required for a modest lifestyle, and 10gp a day for an aristocratic lifestyle.
Looked it up on SageAdvice and Greenwood says the average family business works daily with the exception of holidays or festivals and what have you. So, on average, skilled employees for these businesses are making at least 2gp a day. I doubt this ever gets higher than 3 or 4gp if we’re seeing that life-threatening situations are 5gp a day. However, we’re not accounting for inflation, so it’s possible that places like Waterdeep have a much higher rate of income, but if we’re meant to take the PHB advice as the average, I can think of no place better than the Sword Coast and Waterdeep to be displaying of this average.
Large amounts of unskilled labor are making somewhere between 2-7sp per day, so about 6-21gp per month. Skilled labor is making between 2-4gp a day, so about 60-120gp per month. A modest lifestyle, which is below comfortable, so probably lower middle class or working class, is spends 1gp a day just to exist. For those that are unskilled labor, that means you’re living a “squalid” or “wretched” lifestyle of 1sp a day or less. Essentially, you’re working class poor, or a college student.
Aristocrats are reasonably making anywhere from 20-40gp+ a day, only going higher and higher the further they are up the chain, for a minimum of making 600gp a month, something along the lines of 1,200gp a month, with no actual limit on this.
So with this frame in mind: Adventurers.
A group of adventurers goes out for maybe a tenday or so and returns with several hundred bags of gold, gems worth several hundred bags of gold, paintings and other valuables worth several hundred bags of gold, and magical items worth potentially far more than that. Essentially, putting their lives on the line, an adventurer literally catapults to the top 1% within a month’s time of gathering loot and other forms of wealth. Really just a single +1 sword is a month’s wage for an Aristocrat at the “upper bounds” of the average and potentially almost 5x that, depending on the buyer (as rare magical items cost 500-5000gp).
What does THAT mean?
If you are an adventurer, you are literally a Walking Economy. Every leader, king, president, what have you, is going to want you on their good side, and is going to want to insure you somehow. Likely, the moment you return to civilization, you are pressured to invest virtually all of your wealth in case you die on your next outing. Suddenly, you’re not only the economic lifeblood of a region after a few years, but you’re someone special. You have museums that hold all your art pieces, jewelers who are making special rings out of the Blood Diamonds of the 7-Headed Lich’s crown jewels, and you are routinely bringing enough wealth back to make up anywhere from 1-10 aristocrats every month or two.
And there’s more than just you. The entirety of the Sword Coast absolutely crawls with adventurers. Wealth is being mined from the veins of the earth and looted from the bodies of other civilizations and routinely brought back. The highest form of wealth, magic items, are circulated around routinely, and those that hold them are essentially the richest, baddest, and most socially capable people at this point. That +2 sword you found in some goblin’s asshole three days ago, by mere virtue of having it, makes you a noble because of how much it’s worth. Say “This sword now belongs to the city,” and suddenly you have 5,000-50,000gp owed to you by the city–enough to live off of for the rest of your life. And, of course, you can still use the sword if you need to “protect the city” or whatever the day’s excuse is.
I imagine when adventurer’s die, all their assets are quickly liquidated. Some people go broke, other’s cash out–it’s like a failing company and selling your stocks and reinvesting. Only the stocks are Tom (the level 12 Halfling Wizard) who is capable of plane-hopping on demand. Kind of fickle, if you think about it. I guess that’s why no city’s main trade is “Adventuring”–gotta have a backup in case Tom fucks off to the Plane of Fire and never comes back.
The PCs were tasked with escorting a rich historian and his bodyguard into a known dungeon. Every decade or so the dungeon gets infested with new simple monsters and every so often it gets cleared out. This particular historian wanted to walk around the dungeon and map it out, but he needed a group or mercs/adventurers to clear it . Really, though, he was looking for an imprisoned wizard and the wizard’s MacGuffin artifact, but that’s beside the point.
As the PCs go from room to room, level to level, the historian’s bodyguard (Helen) only occasionally helps out in the fights–she’s there to protect the historian, after all. However, she’s helped out occasionally, and she has always fought as a rogue/fighter type, and quite capable (at least on par with the PCs).
Anyway, this dungeon crawl has taken up about eight gaming sessions, and I’ve always played up Helen as sometimes helpful, and sometimes a little short with everyone. One PC in particular (Shastina’s rogue) took the bait and ran with it. The two began a little bit of a rivalry, and Shastina never quite knew what to make of this secretive bodyguard.
Then, about halfway through the dungeon crawl, Shastina’s daughter came into town and sat at our gaming table for one session. I let he play Helen because that seemed like the best fit, and boy was it! Shastina and her daughter played the rivalry of these two characters to the extreme, throwing insults (in character) and always trying to one-up each other with combat moves against monsters. It was fantastic.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and the whole dungeon crawl climaxed with the entire PC group fighting a suddenly more powerful and evil Helen (like I always planned). It was awesome. I knew this fight was coming, and the players may have suspected a little bit, so it was a good culmination. What made it even better was when Helen specifically went after Shastina’s character…
Sure, the big bad evil girl is fighting a bunch of PCs, and many DMs might spread the attacks around so not too much damage is done to a single character, but Helen focused on Shastina’s rogue and took her down after two rounds. Someone then healed Shastina’s rogue, but then Helen took her down again, and with several attacks per round, she ended up killing her outright. With her last attack, she sliced the head right off and lifted it high. It was GLORIOUS.
I know what you’re thinking, “what a dick.”
But, I am not normally one to kill player characters. This was the first death in six months, and it honestly felt great. Now, I can say that because everyone at the table knows I’m not there to kill PCs, and they prefer to let the chips fall as they may. This fight didn’t have to start at this time; the PCs could have waited and gotten stronger, but they pushed for it. They knew I would not be pulling any punches, and everyone was satisfied with how it played out.
So, don’t be afraid to kill PCs, especially if they’re ready for it. What I mean is, let the story progress naturally, and don’t be afraid to let your inner demon come out–your story just may get that much richer.
Man! I thought something was weird. The Mini Counters and Number Tokens have been selling like hot cakes for the past few years. And why not? They’re awesome! And useful!
But we suddenly stopped getting orders a few weeks ago. It was weird, but I just figured it’s a few slow weeks. Like, 0 MPH slow.
Today, I finally got a new order, but the customer was charged over $17.00 just for shipping… to Tennessee. That charge should have been, like, $5.50. So I checked the settings on Ecwid and found the mistake.
So THAT’S why people suddenly stopped buying here… they didn’t want to pay triple the cost for shipping.
My fault. Somehow I screwed up the shipping location settings in Ecwid a few weeks ago and didn’t catch it. I won’t bore you with the details, but I fixed it.
I feel like a dolt, and I sincerely apologize to anyone who wanted to place an order recently.
I normally recap our sessions in our own Facebook group, but decided to share this here because this time it was a different and particularly fun way to do it. Basically, I recapped the session from the viewpoint of the bad guys, letting the players get into the minds of their opponents a little bit. For this particular session, a pack of gnolls have been taken over by a drow demon, and the PCs are invading their underground den. It works particularly well this session because it was basically a dungeon crawl, and I think it’s a good way to show them that shit’s gonna get real… real quick…
[Because of Shastina’s magical obsidian dagger, she has a quick vision…]
After facing some murderous invaders at the rope bridge, HoUelp barely escapes, and finds his older brother, Brakch… “Brother, we are under attack! I think they’re here to save the humans… We must tell master!” Brakch responds, “No. Master does not want to be disturbed. We must counterattack, and kill the intruders. Kchaabrik! Take six warriors through the small passage, flank the intruders at the rope bridge! We’ll barricade the corridor!”
Kchaabrik gathers six gnolls and they all move around the side of their home to flank the intruders–who have managed to get across the rope bridge. Brakch then forms a barricade in the corridor, and waits. This will be the first real fight his younger brother (HoUelp) will face, and Brakch looks upon him proudly.
The intruders then cast some red light magic, illuminating half the warriors in the corridor. HoUelp yells, “Brother! They have magic! Should we not tell master?! We MUST tell him!” Brakch relents… “Fine, we’ll go to the master…”
Meanwhile, Kchaabrik and his six warriors make it to the rope bridge and assess the murderous intruders… It’s an ecclectic group of horrid enemies… a couple humans, a really giant human, an elf, a dark-colored elf, and even a giant freaking cat… such a weird man-pack indeed… they must all be the runts of their own races, cast out and banded together. Nevertheless, Kchaabrik and his warriors begin their counterattack, but quickly realize their mistake as brave warriors begin getting knocked off the rope bridge.
With only two warriors left, Kchaabrik takes stock in his situation. These foul intruders are lethal, and he wonders why he should stay and fight. Two things tell him to run: (1) his new pack lord is a really nasty demon. Kchaabrik is not powerful enough to take him down, so he’s never going to get the chance to be the alpha anyway. And (2) just today, Kchaabrik’s hunger got the best of him, and he ate his own pups, so he really had no more family left here. So, yeah, it was time for him to leave. He took his last two remaining warriors and retreated. Maybe they can find some henchman or something at the bottom of the mountain to feast on… adventuring murderers always leave a henchman somewhere watching their horses…
Brakch and HoUelp get to their new pack leader’s den, bursting in. As the two look upon a scared human who is about to be brutally murdered in some bizarre ritual, HoUelp speaks… “Master! We are sorry for interrupting the rituals, but we are under attack!”
[Shastina tries, but she can not get a clear image of the Draegloth; only a looming shape and a pair of red eyes. She can, however, clearly hear his raspy whispers]
“I told you not to enter here.” With that, Shastina can clearly see the looming shape reach out with his large hand, as if to grab something, and HoUelp begins to whimper and yelp in pain. Brakch takes a step closer to HoUelp, wanting to help him, but it’s too late. HoUelp violently arches himself backward, and his heart bursts out of his chest, flying across the blood-stained room and into the Draegloth’s hand.
Brakch is motionless… covered in his brother’s blood. The Draegloth watches Brakch stand there… the large gnoll silently get angrier and angrier… foaming at the snout. For a moment, Brakch actually doesn’t know where he is, or what his own next action will be. He is paralzed in deciding if he will attack the PCs, or the Draegloth. Then he begins a slow, deeply gutteral growl.
The Draegloth finally speaks, knowing this gnoll now has no more family…
“Now, dog… get out of this room, and let no one else enter…”
So, Brakch is quite pissed that he lost his brother. Yes, it was the Draegloth who actually killed HoUelp, but in his fracturing state of mind, it’s the Draegloth’s command that focuses Brakch’s anger upon the PCs.
The PC’s will know of what has just transpired due to Shastina’s vision, and I imagine they might try to get Brakch to join them in fighting the Draegloth, but he’s now too far gone… totally rabid… I’m going to make him a badass and it’s going to be one hell of a vicious fight. Can’t wait!
It’s a big deal when a new tabletop roleplaying game gets published. It takes a lot of work, collaboration, planning, marketing, and gumption. Success is a big deal, and it should be celebrated. Sure, it’s easier to publish a game today than years before, but I think a true mark of success is if that game ever gets expanded. People have to like the game in the first place, and then they have to want more. Fabled Environment’sOlympus, Inc. has hit that milestone…
Olympus, Inc. is a game that uses the popular and capable Savage Worlds system. It combines the vibe of the cyberpunk genre with modern espionage and urban fantasy, where Greek demigods and mythical creatures battle in the shadows for the future of our world. Abruptly awakened to the war with strange new abilities, you’ve been thrown in neck-deep, while everyone you’ve ever known continues on with their mundane lives. You weren’t even given the choice between the red pill or the blue…
I am very happy to see a new setting book for Olympus, Inc. There’s a lot of cool stuff in the main book, but I always felt there was room for more–which is exactly what The Pelion Report is all about. We’re getting new Paragon Bloodlines (Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Hephaestus and Hera), new Demigod Bloodlines (Cyclospawn and Centaur), and of course new Powers, Edges, Hindrances, weapons, and even some new corporations (you can never have too many!). The book will also give us rules for enhancing items using Orichalcum (a mythical metal), something I think a lot of gamers were asking for. Winner!
The Store here at Stuffer Shack has been a labor of love. The Number Tokens are convenient, Mini Markers are cool, and Mini Counters are just way awesome and useful (easily our best seller). We don’t do the Horse Minis anymore because Safari Ltd.’s quality went to shit (and I don’t sell shit).
So, anyway, I have to take a break from the Store for a bit. Family, house, and work have taken a hit, and I need to get caught up on life.
However! It will be back! So sign up for the newsletter. I don’t put many newsletters out, so the next one will let you know when the Store is opening back up. Doo-eet, and thanks for being awesome!
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