Battlecry Liason Officer
It’s 2:30pm, I’m considering taking a nap instead of going to my lecture, and my eyes have lost their bright, hopeful spark in the onslaught of university. Welcome to the second half of semester two. I appear to still be both the pseudodragon editor and president, so this preface will be a lovely mashup of both those duties.
This edition focuses on the creation side of roleplay, from individual characters to entire worlds. It was lovingly created through the incessant hassling of all involved over the course of several months.
On the presidential side of things, ARG has been doing well. There are plenty of roleplaying groups on Tuesday evenings, and an increase in participants for Wednesday board nights. Recent weekend events also appear to be a success – I say appear because, as any good ARG president, I have not been showing up to them.
To all you university students, good luck with the rest of this semester. Remember to stop procrastinating, eat something aside from instant noodles, and sleep more than three hours a night.
Roles of the Officers
Positions in the Auckland Roleplaying Guild
Roles of the Officers
Positions in the Auckland Roleplaying Guild
The role of the President is to:
a. ensure that this Constitution and the bylaws and regulations are followed,
b. convene Meetings and establish whether or not a quorum is present,
c. chair Meetings of the Club and the Committee, deciding who may speak and when,
d. oversee the operation of the Club,
e. organise sponsorship for the Club,
f. provide a report on the operations of the Club at each Annual General Meeting.
The role of the Secretary is to:
a. record the minutes of Club Meetings and Committee Meetings,
b. keep and maintain the Register of Members, and the Constitution, Bylaws and Regulations of the Club,
c. keep and maintain records of:
· any terms and conditions of affiliation imposed on the Club from time to time by the Granting Authority over and above those prescribed by the Constitution of AUSA,
· any waiver by the Granting Authority of any terms and conditions of affiliation that would ordinarily be imposed on the Club by the Constitution of AUSA, and make such records available to Members on request,
d. hold the Club’s records, documents and books, except those required for the Treasurer’s function,
e. make the Club’s records, documents and books available to Members, and to such organs and officers of the Supervising Authority as the Supervising Authority may from time to time require,
f. provide such notice to the Supervising Authority of acts, omissions and decisions of the Club as the Supervising Authority may require,
g. receive and reply to correspondence as required by the Committee,
h. arrange bookings of venues for Club events, including but not limited to regular game nights,
i. organise storage for such of the Club’s fixed assets as are not in the custody of the Librarian,
j. forward the annual financial statements for the Club to the Registrar upon their approval by the Members at an Annual General Meeting,
k. advise the Registrar of any changes to this Constitution.
The role of the Treasurer is to:
a. keep proper accounting records of the Club’s financial transactions to allow the Club’s financial position to be readily ascertained,
b. make such records available for inspection to Members and to such organs and officers of the Supervising Authority as the Supervising Authority may from time to time require,
c. keep and maintain the Club’s fixed asset register,
d. prepare annual financial statements, in accordance with the Club’s accounting policies, for presentation at each Annual General Meeting,
e. provide a financial report at each Annual General Meeting,
f. provide such financial information to the Committee as the Committee may require.
The role of the Vice President is to:
a. convene and chair meetings of the Club and the Committee, and carry out the President’s other duties, during the absence or incapacity of the President,
b. notify Members of Club Meetings and other Club events as directed by the Committee.
The role of the Tournaments Officer is to organise, arrange sponsorship for, advertise and run the Club’s gaming and role-playing conventions, and to ensure that Members are given the opportunity to attend and participate in such conventions.
The role of the Board Games Officer is to ensure that regular Club activities are scheduled and held for the purposes of playing board games, card games and other games of a like nature, and that Members are given the opportunity to participate in such activities.
The role of the LARP Officer is to:
a. ensure that regular Club activities are scheduled and held for the purposes of playing live-action role playing games (“LARPs”), and that Members are given the opportunity to participate in such activities,
b. where reasonably practicable, ensure that the Club holds at least one such LARP within the first month of each academic year of the University.
The role of the Magazine Editor is to:
a. solicit, select and edit content for the Club magazine, which shall be known as “Pseudodragon” until the Committee decides otherwise;
b. release issues of the said Club magazine at least once annually (in conjunction with the Annual General Meeting) and more often if input allows,
c. arrange sponsorship of the magazine and advertising therein.
Officer Outside the Committee
The role of the Librarian is to:
a. organise storage for the books and games of the Club, and for such other Club Assets as the Committee may from time to time direct;
b. assist the Treasurer in maintaining the Club’s fixed asset register;
c. lend books, games and other Club Assets to Members on such terms and conditions, subject to decisions of the Club or the Committee, as he or she shall think fit.
The role of the Marketing officer is to maintain the club website, email list, social media pages and other similar electronic resources as directed by the Committee.
The role of the BattleCry Liaison is to represent the Club to BattleCry Incorporated and to protect the Club’s interests in respect of the BattleCry convention and the “BattleCry” brand.
The World of Rapture – Creating a D&D World
Homebrew worlds are scary. Imagine having to create an entire world, complete with all its continents, countries, alliances, wars, economies, races, magic types, and so much more. For many, this seems terrifying. It’s too much information to cover, with no clear place to start. When I started building my homebrew world, I was certainly terrified. I regretted the choice of offering to run a campaign and saying, “I’ll think of something.” That is, until I found the best thing a DM can ask for:
I knew I had to start small, with a rough map, a few nations, and see what could go where. To start I made a map, rolling all my dice on an A4 sheet of paper and tracing around the outline they created. Then came the biomes: mountains in the middle, desert to the west, tundra to the north, plains to the east, and jungle in the south. Next up I chucked in a few lakes, rivers, and mountain ranges. It made a diverse platter, good for any type of adventure.
After that came the nations themselves. This was where inspiration came to me. I had been reading way too many DC comics when building my world and Teen Titans paved the way. With a bit of a creative licence, my nations were born: Azarthia (Raven), the Borgcye Empire (Cyborg), Land of the Fire Queen (Starfire), the Beastlands (Beast Boy) and Robynia (Red Robin). After plotting nation boundaries, I had spots for all but the Borgcye. It didn’t feel right to put it on land, so with some extra inspiration from Bioshock and Aquaman, the Borgcye empire was plunged into the ocean to become a technological supercity. Bye bye normal fantasy and hello magic-powered steampunk.
Next up were races. I used a combination of Teen Titan influence and the biomes themselves to create a nice spread. Bestials in the Beastlands, tieflings and drow in Azarthia, halflings in Robynia, gnomes in the Borgcye, elves to the Fire Queen, goliaths in the Mountains, and tritons to the coast. As for humans? EVERYWHERE! There was no reason for the final one, except that it just seemed to make sense.
Surprisingly, the rest of my world-building came from the campaigns themselves. For the most part, this first draft stayed strong. The map was mostly blank bar the cities, towns, and regions of interest. Initially, Robynia and the Borgcye empire were the only nations I expanded. My level 3-5 campaign didn’t need to go any further, so the rest remained blank.
My next game began in a new setting (Azarthia) and a new city state (Raven’s Gate). A level 6-8 campaign needed more danger, so Azarthia was expanded upon with a 500-year civil war. Every encounter my players made, every person they met, and every interaction with the land around them grew my world. Entire regions sprouted to life as my adventurers wandered the hills. Rumours filtered in about the other nations, of ideas I wanted to try or things I later binned. To me, that’s the best part about homebrew. Steal ideas from here and there. Take concepts from games or books and filter it into a coherent story. If the idea doesn’t work where your adventurers are, find somewhere else to hide it.
The world is your oyster.
Over-Prepared Plot – My style of DMing
I approach DMing by over-preparing. When my players walk into a city, there are already multiple possible plots set up and waiting in various locations they’re likely to visit.
I organise plotlines based on size. Small plots can be covered in one session, or possibly run as a one-off game. Medium plots could take a few sessions to complete, and are more likely to tie in to other locations or stories around the world. Finally, large plots are overarching. They could be the point of an entire arc of the campaign, and have small plot points happen across multiple cities.
How you plan games depends on your DM style. I know DMs who walk into a game with a single line of plot and run multiple sessions. Normally, I’ll write out the basics of a plotline in advance. These typically range from 100 words to over a page.
Plot ideas come to me randomly. Even if I don’t know where I want to use them, I’ll write them down for later. That way, I build a library of personal content that I can whip out on the fly. As I was writing this, I was listening to a song that mentioned fireflies multiple times, giving me inspiration for the following small plot.
First, I decide on location. If I don’t have a particular place in mind, I’ll simply write the type of terrain. For this new idea, I would say urban, in a nation with a fair amount of magic.
Next, I decide on the backstory. This part is may not always come up during gameplay, but for me it’s critical. If I understand why my NPC acts the way they do, I can make them more realistic and consistent. In this case, the backstory is that a local smuggling ring sneaks in rare creatures to be bought by the elite. One cage broke, releasing two Fairies of Life. The rest of their family is still trapped, and they desperately want to reunite with them and get home.
Then, I decide on setup. Since a Fairy of Life sheds light, I would tell my players that they see two lights bobbing up and down in a side alley. If they choose to investigate, they would follow the lights down a few streets before the Fairies speak with the party.
It’s not possible to know what players will actually do, so the next part is tricky. I create a few plot points of possible paths they could follow. One such path is that they may decide to help the Fairies by raiding the smuggling den. To find it, they will have to investigate the area. By talking to someone at the black market, they could learn that the den is down by the docks behind a secret door. In the den would be a host of hostiles (I would use bandit stats). Depending on how long they take, the other Fairies have already been sold and they have to raid a local duke’s house. I may write two or three different possible paths for what they do. Never assume your players will do the obvious!
Finally, I write some potential outcomes. The players have learnt about the smuggling ring. Maybe there’s a whole seedy underbelly of this city that they didn’t realise existed? It could lead into a massive plot of corrupt aristocracy and political consequences.
Obviously, players love the unpredictable, so I write up these plotlines with the intention of improvising. However, I find having a prepared draft in advance allows for quicker decision making and smoother stories. It’s a style that works extremely well for me as an over-organiser.
Author: Sarah Albom
Ray was a resident of the spirit realm, who travelled to the Material Plane to regain his fading magic. To do so, he journeyed with an adventuring party, making magical pacts with those who he helped. His appearance started off as a 6-year-old, but each pact he made increased his age.
Drawing by Jessica Mclean, character by Peter Reeve
Science Fiction World-Building
“The pedestrian (or overworked) referee will find the set of numbers generated in book 3 or consulted in supplement 3, The Spinward Marches, sufficient for his or her needs. These numbers define a planet fairly well, up to a point, but they avoid the “flavour” of world-building, the kind of attention to detail that makes SF writers like Poul Anderson, Hal Clement, and Frank Herbert so special. They enter into the game of creating a planet, taking all of the physical, cultural, and biological implications into account to give their worlds a truly special touch.”
( J. Andrew and William H. Keith: 1981) Journal of the Travellers Aide Society. (10). “Planet-building, a Referee’s Guide”, pg 16-24”
World building is more than just drawing a map and dropping your players into the action. It forms the very platform upon which the referee will tell their story.
Within science fiction RPG’s there are a number of genres, each with their own approach to world building. Some simply list the known worlds and a rough background, leaving the rest to the collective imaginations of the participants. Others may focus upon an area of the known universe with little detail about the worlds themselves (often called the hand wave method), and others still may actually include a system for building one’s own worlds within a specific setting. A few have one detailed world upon which the game is set. Good examples are Blue Planet by Fantasy Flight Games and Ringworld by Chaosium, two worlds fully detailed with climates, local wildlife, and landmasses to explore.
That said, you may decide to build your own world. Start off with writing down basic thoughts. Is it earth-like? A desert world? An ice cube? Think about how you as the GM want players to see your world, because this will act as an “earmark” for them to remember it.
In science fiction the temptation is to go wild, just throwing ideas at the page to see what sticks. This works with space opera games (science fantasy) as the world rarely needs to be fully fleshed out, but with a science fiction game the inconsistencies will show through and pull the players from their immersion.
Once you have a few ideas scribbled down, it’s time to use logic. In the end, worlds have some kind of logic to them. You won’t find a frozen tundra directly next to an equatorial rainforest. Geography is a serious matter when determining your world’s look. Based on your previous thoughts, jot down a few ideas about lands and the types of ecospheres you want. Again, apply logic to their relationships and location (you could begin the mapping process at this point).
Note: If your preferred system has a world generation system then follow the procedures within, but do not feel afraid of choosing the results, rather than sticking to random ones. As an aside, I prefer “Megatraveller world builder’s handbook” by digest group publications 1989. I find it is a useful guide for world creation regardless of rpg system.
Now you have this rock ball floating in space. Let’s say it’s an Earth-like planet, as that allows a rough size and level of gravity. You also know it has liquid water on its surface; thus, it must have coasts, difference in depth, and ecospheres etc. The next question is, does the world have tides? If yes, that suggests the presence of one or more moons. Already you are starting to build up a simple picture of the world and its environs. Let’s say this world has two rocky moons, slightly smaller than Earth’s own moon. Mars is a similar real-world planet, so it can be used as a point of reference for how this will work (just Google details as needed). Now, let’s make it a bit more interesting. At some point during the birth of the solar system, one of the moons suffered a catastrophic event. All that remains is a debris ring circling the planet.
Such a feature can be seen from the ground and would be noticed by inhabitants, as well as adding historical context. A good GM will start to consider what befell their poor moon and how it might affect the game. What secrets are out there about this? How did it happen? These questions can spark entire scenarios.
So now you have a spherical rock with some water, a ring of debris from a destroyed moon, and a second large lump of rock orbiting the world. As it’s Earth-like, it has an atmosphere, gravity, and size similar to Earth’s. Now, let’s give this world some character.
Consider how the debris ring affected the planet’s surface. Lots of the initial debris would have crashed into the planet, so the surface could be pockmarked with large impact craters. While they would erode over time, bigger craters could leave permanent marks. Perhaps some of the lakes and oceans may have circular(ish) features, outlining these craters along the coasts and inland. The water level could also be caused by megatons of ice falling to the surface, vaporising on re-entry, and eventually forming vast bodies of water or supplementing the existing water during the bombardment phase.
So this planet has circular(ish) lakes, crescent coastlines, and crater depressions on land. You want a biosphere, so much of this would be covered in various forms of vegetation and fauna. Perhaps the crater depressions even have unique biota due to the steep sides preventing species migration? At this point, the possibilities start to suggest features and geography that could provide both interesting world immersion or even unique scenario ideas.
Adjusting some of the physical properties of the world, you can cause drastic effects can have drastic effects. It might seem fun to lower the gravity to 60% of that of Earth’s. Your players would bound around like Olympic pole-vaulters, but this has domino effects with the rest of the planet. Gravity effects atmosphere composition. Too little and the oxygen cannot be retained, while too much and other, potentially toxic gases, remain in the air. Try to use logic when you make adjustments. A planet with 80% of Earth’s gravity is habitable, while low enough that most unacclimatised humans become klutzy.
It is also risky to adjust oxygen content. The characters can’t breathe properly with too little, but too much oxygen is actually poisonous. Anywhere between 16-21% oxygen in the atmosphere is survivable.
I know this sounds technical; however, from my experience players do notice these things. While they don’t all hold degrees in astronomy and planetology, they will collectively point out inconsistencies. You want to create a science fiction world; thus, it must have some basis in science.
Now that you have a rough idea of your world, you can jot down your chosen terrains on a sketch map, setting out locations and shapes for land features. The world should end up with some internal logic and consistency; yet, reflect your personal vision. Your rock in space is starting to look like a world.
Other features such as volcanism, tectonic plates, and weather features can be worked out later, or as the GM requires. Again, try to think logically. You won’t have monsoon season over a vast desert or snow at the equator.
Now comes populating the world. This is often the trickiest part as you have to consider why there are settlements of “people” in particular places. Most cultures tend to settle on arable land and/or near water (including coastlines) so that they are close to necessary resources. This pattern holds true in real life; though, with a technological infrastructure, more remote and less hospitable places can be colonised. In short, if you place a settlement in a remote rocky outcrop, there should be a very good reason why it’s there. Perhaps your world has a single colony, which is establishing a new home for its recent arrivals. This colony will choose a site that has land suitable for agriculture, close to a good water source, and plenty of local resources. It will also be situated in a location similar to the homeworld’s climate conditions.
Time for more questions: does the settlement have a spaceport? Does it have prefabricated housing, or have they used local materials? What civic infrastructure is in place? What is their culture like? These questions flesh out the colonists (or locals). For example, it is unlikely that a freshly established colony will be a democracy. The settlers could have been guided by their vessel’s captain, who now resides as the lead authority. Later, other forms of government may replace it, but the role of captain may become a hereditary title, or morph into the form of a council chairman. These are things to consider when populating a world.
If there is a local population of another sentient race, what differentiates them? Commonly, so-called alien races in sci-fi RPG’s end up as a human in an alien suit. Think about how their worldviews and their differences from humans, because this will help shape how they might interact with your new colonists. Consider how they think, as well as how they look. Again, try to be logical. Though psychology is often illogical, it should at least have consistency over the whole species.
This concludes the basics on science fiction world building. In a future article, I may build a world from scratch and show my more in-depth processes.
Author: David Harrop
Daaniki is a hermit sorceress who was born with white draconian ancestry. Despite her cold stare and anti-social demeanor, she is a sassy dragonborn who easily gets tired of forced fetch quests and intense puzzles. However, she tries to be good and useful when it comes to helping others. Her personal quest is to figure out how to get the colour back into her eyes. She believes a powerful evil spirit stole it long ago, along with the warmth of her heart. This has left her unable to feel emotions and attuned to cold magic. Hopefully one day, she’ll get to have her eyes again.
Further artwork by Tammy Runhun can be found at https://taalaruhun.com.
The Flames of Insanity
(Preface: Ivy Woods was an unused LARP character written for the campaign Shadow of the King.)
Ivy Woods’ first memory was when she was 4, on her family’s ranch in a small Ohio town where everyone knew everyone and cows outnumbered the people ten to one. Moments of that fateful day clung clean and clear to her mind, sparkling droplets grasping at the murky ledge overlooking oblivion. Hot and stifling, the sun burnt relentlessly onto cracked, dry mud. A blue dome blanketed the entire world save for a small, white cloud hugging the horizon. She and her older sister, Lily, had been sitting right at the top of the tallest tree, trying together to be at the peak of the world. Beckoning at their fingertips, the universe called at them.
All Ivy remembered about the rest of that day was a strange, detached scream.
Later, someone gathered Ivy into a big hug. Gently, softly, as if she were asleep, they told her that her sister, who could climb the roof of their barn in five seconds flat, who had never missed a single handhold in her life, had fallen from the tree. Her next memory was of the funeral days later, standing stiffly in a black dress that itched at the collar while her mother cried. She remembered the dark ceiling she had stared up at from the bed that seemed too big for just one. And she remembered that as she looked up into the darkness, there had been a whisper in her ear.
“You pushed me.”
Life went on as usual, and eventually, the town of Hallettsville moved past the dreadful accident that had claimed the eldest Woods child. But Ivy never could. Those voices never stopped haunting her, reaching from beyond the darkness of that too-big bed. Sometimes, they gave helpful hints about a test or what quip to say. Sometimes, they told her deep, dark secrets about people, secrets that should never see the light of day. And sometimes, they told her the things she should do. Listen to us, they said. Listen, and the world could be yours. Ivy’s parents, filled with grief, isolated themselves from their youngest daughter. Save for the voices, Ivy was alone
Twelve years, four months, and six days after Lily’s death, Ivy found herself staring down at her toes, dangling from the cold metal table upon which she had perched. Indistinct murmurs snuck under the door of the sheriff’s office, where he was having a word with her parents about her shoplifting.
She couldn’t stand the thought of that too-big bed anymore, of that silent house rife with the past’s stench. So when the voices whispered in her ear on how to pick a lock and highjack her father’s car, she finally listened. Four days later, she arrived in Chicago with a backpack and $78.
The name Ivy Woods followed her through the missing reports on the news, so she escaped them with Evie Hallett. Ivy was dead, just like her sister, and the peculiar child known as Evie quickly gained notoriety on the streets before eventually being recruited by a powerful criminal ring called the Ravens. Her ruthlessness and apparent loyalty outweighed her youth, and she quickly rose through the ranks. Within ten years, she had come into a position working almost directly below the leader of the entire crime ring. Listening to those voices in her ear, she found herself falling into a void of moral uncertainty. What had once been just a mechanism to survive and escape became a breeding ground for success and power. Evie loved that power.
The voices became her closest friends, her only friends. She didn’t trust those who worked close to her, not after the voices had revealed their darkest secrets. And the voices promised her such lovely things. Why would she want real friends when the voices already gave her gifts of respect and authority? No one may have known her fully, but those close to her began to notice an unnatural glint in her eye. She felt moments where she wanted to burn down buildings just to watch the pretty patterns in the smoke, or wondered what it felt like to dance on a thousand bones. She and the voices slowly became one. Even she couldn’t tell if it was she or the voices making the sounds on her tongue. Someone in the Ravens finally whispered the word. Insane.
But Evie already knew the true personalities of her accusers. They were rapists, murderers, politicians. Insanity was hardly worse. She was above them and their petty lies. If insanity was what made her better, then why should she fight it?
One cold November morning, nine days after that first accusation, chaos took hold of Chicago. A mixture of police and FBI agents stormed the homes of some of the top Ravens bosses. Other gangs simultaneously began to take down lesser Ravens gang members. Much of the Ravens was in shambles in only a matter of days, and irrefutable evidence mysteriously appeared to put the rest away. Those that escaped the barrage went into hiding. Unlucky others ended up with throats slit in the gutter. But the head of the Ravens never saw his kingdom crumble. No one would ever know who set the blaze in his penthouse that cold morning, nor, based on examination of his body found in the ashes, had beaten him to a bloody pulp first.
Evie watched his tower burn from a ledge at the top of a high-rise, enjoying the sunbeams that managed to break through the thick clouds of that cold morning. Dangling in space, her toes gently swung just as they had outside a sheriff’s office all those years ago. As she watched the smoke drift upwards, she grasped at the heavens. At last, she had made it to the top of the world.
Author: Sarah Albom
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