How to prepare a Campaign without rail-roads

I posted this on reddit a while back, just adding it here for completion.

When I plan a campaign, I separate the planning phase in two parts:

  1. Planning the main story arc
  2. Preparing for a session

Planning the main story arc

First figure out in which world you play want to play. Who are the big players? Kings, Gods, established heroes, etc. .

Create a small list of attributes for every important NPC. The list should contain their motives, morales, personality. The lists will help you to stay consistent and to act upon the PCs actions quickly.

As you won’t be able to tell what will happen in the course of several sessions only make a rough plan of events that will happen.

Set up an initial list of events that will occur if the party of heroes would not exist. Example: the evil guy tries to summon an evil monster in roughly 10 days.

This timetable will give you a rough framework for your campaign, without rail-roading the story. After each session you should revisit the timetable and figure out how the actions of the heroes have changed the course of history. _Example: If the PCs killed a commander of the evil forces, the raid on a village in 2 weeks can’t take place._This fixed timetable also means that the players can miss certain events if they are to slow or ignore a story plot. E. g. If the party needs four weeks to stop an event something else will happen without a chance for the PCs to intervene. With the timetable and rough descriptions of the event you got an overall story arc that is not written in stone and can be changed by the players.

Preparing for a session

When planning a session take a look at the timetable to see what is up next. Think through what can happen in the next bit of the story and possible actions of the PCs. You will never find all possible decisions, so don’t even bother writing it down ;).

When you got a rough overview for the session, you can start to prepare.

Create groups of enemies fitting into the scene. Create local maps of villages, dungeons and other sites you want to use. Figure out how the enemies will behave.

Example: 2 groups of goblin guard the mage tower. On a small balcony hovers an all-seeing-eye warning the mages if it sees anything unusual. The door to the mages bedroom is trapped with Trap X. etc. .

If you have difficulties improvising, spend more time describing details of the sites the heroes visit. Have a lot of stuff ready you can use if needed.

At the end you should have a detailed description of the places the party will visit. From that point on the players decide. Listen to their actions and look up what could happen.

_

Example: They sneak through the fields -> give the goblins and the eye a perception throw and act upon it.

_

If you notice that it will get to boring, use the assets you created to add more into your world. Maybe 2 goblins decided to plunder the kitchen, and they notice the group.

Hopefully I gave you a rough idea how I plan my campaigns.

TL:DR

  1. Have a rough story arc for the campaign.
  2. Create detailed descriptions of sites and enemies for every session and only act upon the actions of the party

Create tileable textures with GIMP

The input material

I took photos of the grass in my backyard to create a grass texture. The camera was held at shoulder height pointing down. I cropped the image into a 1:1 image. Try to keep the image as big as possible. Do not scale it into your desired dimension yet!

input_image

Original image of grass

Make it tileable!

There are two methods to make the image tileable/seamless.

The easiest way to create a tileable texture is to use the “Make Seamless” tool (Filters->Map->Make Seamless).

If you aren’t satisfied by the results of the Make Seamless filter you can also do it by hand.

Start by applying an x/2, y/2 offset by using the Layer->Transform->Offset tool.

This will offset the image in such a way that the opposite border match each other perfectly, but it only shifts the problem. You should notice that there are two lines, one horizontal, one vertical, were the image doesn’t fit together. You can remove the visible borders in various ways, e.g. using the clone and blur tool.

seamless_grass

Texture made seamless

Removing the midrange frequencies

At this point we cloud use the texture, but we will go one step further. The image still contains midrange frequencies, that we want to remove. The midrange frequencies will produce ugly tiling effects if the texture is repeated often.

Start by duplicating the seamless texture and apply a tileable blur (Filters->Blur->Tileable Blur) onto the duplicated version. Choose a high radius, roughly 10% of the images size. This will create a layer containing the mid and low frequencies.

To preserve the low frequencies create a new texture below the two existing. Use the Color Picker with a big radius to select an average color of the texture and fill the new texture with this color.

We now have one layer containing the mid and low frequencies, one containing the low frequencies and one containing all frequencies.

To create a layer containing the high frequencies set the mode of the blurred layer to “Grain extract” and move it above the original layer. By Merging these two layers you gain a new layer containing only the high frequencies. After merging set the mode of the resulting layer to “Grain merge” and merge the two remaining layers. This creates our final image containing the high and low frequencies but no mid frequencies.

finished_grass_texture

The finished grass texture

Note: I scaled the images to save bandwidth

Pathfinder Loot Generators

These are all tables of wondrous items in the Ultimate Equipment book.

The content falls under the Open Game License (OGL).

Minor Items

Random Item Type

Medium Items

Random Item Type

Major Items

Random Item Type

 

Moved to WordPress

After using a hand-crafted blog for almost 2 years, I’ve decided to change to WordPress.

I did this mainly out of comfort, as the old software only provided very basic features.

The old post will be transfered into this new set up eventually.