The Secret Names of Streets

The room was shrouded in darkness. The only source of illumination was a lone bare light bulb hanging over the table where we set. Its light did more to conceal than to reveal, promising clarity only to deliver unnerving shadows.

“All set,” said the doctor with sunken eyes and melodic voice, putting away the syringe. “You will feel the effects shortly. Now, we already went through the process, but sometimes patients suffer a relapse under the influence of the drug, so I will leave these papers with you.” She indicated a few pamphlets lying on the table. “Just consult them if you’re unsure of what you’re supposed to do. We find it helpful to pick one patient to be your guide in this matter.”

She stepped deeper into the darkness, so only her voice could be heard.

“I’ll be leaving now. It’s… undesirable for unrelated people to be present at this stage. Don’t worry, though. No matter what happens, no matter what thoughts and memories you find in your mind, nothing can hurt you in this room. Not anymore.”

A sound of a door opening and closing could be heard, though we could not see it.

“Right,” I said reaching for the pamphlet. “So I guess we’re doing it. Let’s see…”


DragonRaid: Righteously Mingling With Evil, Part 4

World-building is something you can do endlessly. Dozens of books can be written about pretty much any given setting – and dozens of books were written. Descriptions of entire continents or individual cities, important locations that served as sites of grand battles or arcane rituals, various organizations ruling the world from shadows, important people and signature characters – all of these and more were crafted by creative people to enhance the illusion of a living world, to make a fantasy just a bit more real. History, politics, geography, culture, economics – all of these topics and more warrant some attention, for they can provide plot hooks for your games or serve as background flavor to enhance your game experience.

But, of course, there are practical limitations on the amount of world-building that’s actually done. There is only so much information players would be willing to absorb in preparation to a game and there is only so much information that’s actually needed for the game to function. In urban fantasy, for example, while you can spend your pages just describing a given city and its notorious landmarks, it’s not really necessary. The information is available for those who want to know it, so it’s more productive to focus on differences from our reality: supernatural elements lurking in the shadows. In regular fantasy, you do generally need to describe the world at large, but you generally don’t need to, say, describe every local holiday and associated traditions. That would just bloat the book and probably won’t be all that useful for most GMs.

Then, of course, there are physical limitations. If you’re publishing your book, you may afford only so many pages to print before the price would go too high to hope for profits. If you have only 50 pages to spend describing your world, you probably shouldn’t spend them on details of local trade routes.

Ultimately, what is and isn’t described about a setting should depend primary on the focus of the game. A game focusing on adventures in exotic places should, of course, include descriptions of said places, while PCs’ home towns may be left relatively abstract since they’re here only for the PCs to rest to buy supplies. A game focusing on court intrigue would need to focus on politics and economy, various factions and their agendas, while stuff like old dungeons with ancient evil inside would probably be just distracting, so they don’t need to be included. Some settings are left deliberately abstract for the players to add their own ideas to the world. In this case, it’s more important to focus and themes and tone of the setting as a whole rather than on specific details. And so on.

So, with all that said, let’s get to the next section of DragonRaid titled “The World of Talania,” which, naturally, describes the eponymous continent and serves as a foundation of knowledge about the setting for both players and AMs. How long is this section, you ask.

Seven pages.


DragonRaid: Righteously Mingling With Evil, Part 2

Last time I’ve talked about the New Player Briefing, which was basically an introductory pamphlet. Today I’m starting on the first of the three core books of DragonRaid: Light Raider Handbook, which appears to be a setting manual, though it also contains some mechanics stuff.

Without farther ado, let’s begin.


DragonRaid: Righteously Mingling With Evil, Part 1

To celebrate our new site, I decided to get back to writing some posts. At first I though about Middens review, which I’m still doing at some point, but eventually I settled on a longer project because you deserve it. You all deserve it.

So, what is DragonRaid? Well, those of you with any TRPG experience should know already that the prime purpose of role-playing is worshiping Satan. Not everyone got the memo, however, and so back in 80s a group of Christians decided to make their own TRPG promoting Christian values and intended for an adult to play with kids. Its most famous feature is that players are required to cite Bible verses in order to do magic.

We’re in for a ride.


The Paranet Papers, Part 7 (Goes Bump, Who’s Who) + Conclusion

OK, let’s finish it.The last two chapters update general information about the setting: new supernatural creatures, the fate of old ones, new characters, upgrades for old ones.

It’s more Farla’s domain than mine, so I’m not going to cover it in detail. It would be more fun when we get there in the readthrough (so, keep voting for DF on the poll. We need more Farla suffering to sustain us). Instead, I would mostly focus on game-related stuff here and in the end give my opinion on the book as a whole.

The Paranet Papers, Part 6 REDUX (Spellcasting)

So, turns out combining paragraphs from the book the way I did turns them into a chant to summon Mary Sue into our world. Didn’t know that. It’s all good, though! Turns out she can’t survive in reality for long. Especially in December in Russia.So, without further ado, let’s do the chapter again.


The Paranet Papers, Part 6 (Spellcasting)

The theme of this chapter is to bring magic closer to canon due to new stuff being introduced in the books published after the game was created. Those of you who read my reviews of the first volume may recognize it as absolutely terrible idea. The rules of magic were the best when they were dealing with relatively generic stuff, like the evocation of five elements (though even there we had spirit covering everything the other four didn’t) or general thaumaturgic rituals. When it comes to DF-specific lore, like soulgaze or hexing, it was generally flawed at best. Most clearly it could be seen in the section on Laws of Magic, which attempted to define in mechanical terms something the books never bothered to properly codify, creating a horrible mess stitched together with a lot of “up to the GM” handwaves.So, let’s see how well it went this time.


The Paranet Papers, Part 5 (The Ways Between)

If there is one purely good thing I can say about this book, it’s that it tries new things. While the chapter on Las Vegas was a pretty standard urban fantasy setup, the chapter on Russia went into historical fantasy territory and tried to deal with a rarely used yet interesting period. The third chapter gave us a small community that abolished the secrecy, changing the standard dynamic the setting since on the one hand you don’t need to worry about hiding your powers, but on the other everyone knows what you are, which may be good or bad depending on your actions. The fourth chapter dealt with a massive continent-wide conflict attracting a lot of warring factions.And this chapter deals with travels and road trips rather than anchoring the game to one location.

Let’s see how well it does.

Also, neat picture: