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Hi all! I've been a fan of Matt Colville for awhile and his Running the Game series for awhile now and thought I'd spread the goodness here.
For the uninitiated, this series of YouTube videos is aimed at newer DMs who are looking to start running D&D for the first time (especially at the beginning of the series), but there's plenty of good stuff for DMs of any experience level to mine. I've found them incredibly instructive for how I run and think about my game to be sure.
And, while there's a focus on D&D, there's certainly material that is transferable to any game you're running. Anyway, have a gander (note: this isn't the first of the series, but rather the first of his I saw, which is about railroad campaigns vs the sandbox)!
As of Wednesday @ 11am, we still have seven slots for Fiasco!
Attack of the 50 Foot Fiasco - A sendup of 50's B-Movie horror. Friday at 10am Four seats available Unaussprechlichen Klutzen - Bad decisions in the style of HP Lovcraft. Friday at 2pm Three seats available We need a minimum of three people to play, so reserve your seats now.
As a GM I often find the need to put in a new angle on various monsters that have been otherwise worn out through overuse.
Here's one I thought of this morning (I don't plan to use it since I'm not going to be running D&D for a while).
Mind Flayers are usually depicted as running a society based on enthralling other creatures through mind control and using them as a combination of labor force, food source, and breeding bodies. The life of the thralls is dull and horrible.
But suppose that the touch of an Illithid tentacle to a brain stimulated vast ecstatic pleasure better than any sensation in life. Instead of mind controlled slaves, the thralls would be tentacle-touch addicts, eager to work for and please their Illithid masters. Illithid infiltration of cities would be like the wokrings of a drug cartel. The Mind Flayers would have armies of eager servants, begging to be recognized and given more contact.
As for brain eating, with such a large population serving them, the Illithids can give the dying a day or so of pleasure then consume their brains.
As for Cerebromorphosis. the Illithid breeding cycle wherein a larval flayer consumes a brain over the course of a week and takes over their body, that would be the greatest experience of all, one solid week of pure, unending bliss followed by death. The thralls would be vying for the honor and experience of it.
This makes the job of adventurers trying to overthrow mind flayers even harder, because they have to contend with willing servants and secret addicts.
For added measure one can make the Githyanki and the Githzerai immune to this effect provided they live lives of grim unhappiness.
I was reading this thread today in reference to another question someone asked, and thought about how buying a cool miniature led not only to a fun NPC but a hilarious running gag in my campaign a few years back: http://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?/topic/53734-personalities-npcs-and-miniatures/?hl=heckelmeyer
It led me to think about some of the other things I've done in the interest of versimilitude. I will list the first ones that spring to mind:
What does a potion taste like? Look like? How does it manage? RPG characters slam potions between swings of sword and twitch of somatic gesture, no trouble at all. I got an idea when I saw these fancy glass perfume bottles (empty) for sale, and decided to see what would happen. So one day, upon finding a treasure hoard, I put several glass bottles full of ... who knows what... before the players. On the table. And let them try to figure out what the potions were...
You never saw such consternation. Having your character sip a potion to figure it out, no big deal. Putting a weird colored liquid in front of a human and having him try to figure it out, you'd think you were asking him to sample fricaseed turd in arsenic sauce. It was great fun. Still remember the one potion that made Big Dave go "AAAAGH! POISON! THIS IS HORRIBLE!" It was coffee, with a spoonful of strawberry ice cream melted into it, and a dab of green food coloring, just for giggles...
2. DROOLOK CHIPS
The players had never encountered a droolok, and so were most interested when the village was all in a tizzy because a droolok had been sighted nearby. It had to be hunted down and killed before it slaughtered us all! The players even signed up for a hunting party, but did not find the droolok; Gaston, the mighty hunter, an NPC who lived nearby, brought it down with his mighty bow. The players never got to see it. However, a day or so later, at the inn, they saw a special on the chalkboard: DROOLOK CHIPS 2 GP WHYLE THEY LASST
Well, this piqued their interest. Bar food in Docworld generally consists of potato chips, fried shieldmoss, or sausages, and is generally counted in copper as opposed to gold. So they ordered a bowl of droolok chips, out of curiosity.
I promptly got up from the table, went to a cupboard, and brought them a bowl of irregularly shaped thick brown... chip things.
They stared at them for quite some time. Hobbes picked one up and examined it. It was a few inches by a few inches, fairly thick for a chip, and appeared to be some kind of thinly sliced crispy fried meat. He carefully put it back in the bowl.
"You're not going to at least TASTE it?" someone said.
"F&%#, no," said Hobbes.
Everyone looked at me. I took the chip Hobbes had touched, and ate it. It crunched.
Everyone looked at the bowl. Eventually, Nathan worked up the courage to select a chip, and eat it. He crunched it thoughtfully. "Tastes kinda like bacon, except not quite. Kinda salty, but not bad."
Hobbes looked at me. "I'm a ranger. I should know what a droolok is. What's a droolok?"
I replied, "A droolok is not a normal woodland creature for your selected area of ecological knowledge; you don't know what a droolok is for the same reason you've never seen a panda or a polar bear. For you, a droolok is a monster, and one you have never encountered."
They ate the chips. Even Hobbes, who can't even eat shrimp, because they look too much like bugs...*
3. TROLL PIE
In the course of the party's travels, they settled into an inn one night, and asked the innkeeper's daughter what they had for supper. Their options were the usual mulligan stew, something off the menu, or troll pie, which was being served for free.
Well, this piqued the party's interest. Troll pie? And it's free?
It was explained: Apparently, another party had encountered a troll nearby, and had slain the beast, only to find that an evil wizard had cast fire resistance on the dratted thing. They couldn't burn the parts! The best they could do was to build a large bonfire and keep the dratted thing IN it; roasted troll doesn't regenerate. Yet. Cooked troll wouldn't start regenerating for a good 24 hours after being cooked, so they'd done the best they could: field dressed the monster and cut him into niblets. The local inn had been serving him up in pies for the past month, and twice in the night since then, they'd had a pitched battle in the kitchen as they'd mistimed things, and a troll began to hatch from a pie that hadn't been served in time... please, good sirs, there are only a few pies left... won't you help to rid us of this horror? It's free!
"Do we get XP if we do?" said Hobbes.
And so the party ordered the few remaining troll pies, and some fine ale to wash them down. And I got up and headed for the stove. And the players uttered a collective "Oh, $%&@." They'd played this game before. And from the oven, I drew five small pies, about the size of chicken pot pies you buy at the store... but irregular, obviously homemade. And the crusts... were green. And had warts.
I put the pies before the players. Hobbes said, brightly, "I eat the pie. Yum, yum, yum. How many XP do I get?" His hands did not move, nor did he touch his fork.
"Man, I only got an eight wisdom, and even I know that isn't going to work," said Justin. He picked up his fork and broke the crust. Rich, creamy green stuff waited inside. The pie was still hot, and steamed slightly.
Scott shrugged and dug in. "It's not bad," he said. "I'm not sure if it tastes weird because it's weird... or if it just tastes weird because it's green."
Everyone cautiously began to eat. Except Hobbes, who sat there and looked at his green little pie and looked mournful.
"You going to eat that?" asked Justin, finishing his own pie.**
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