THE LANTERN OFLORNOLN AND AD HOC ADVENTURE/CAMPAIGN/GAME DEVELOPMENT
As a DM I am practicing a new gaming technique with my players which I am calling Ad Hoc Development. I plan to write up a more detailed paper and post on the idea later on but for now I am posting this briefer synopsis here because of the fact that my players don’t visit here and won’t see it. They don’t even know this place exists.
Actually this is a very old technique for me (and for others as well I am sure) for it goes back to the time I was a teenager and used to do something similar as a DM. The idea is very simple. I simply watch what the players are doing, the problems they encounter in game, and then modify the adventure, campaign, or game on an ad hoc basis as events progress to offer them possible, yet not obvious or easy or expected solutions to the dilemmas that lay beyond their current capabilities to resolve. It is somewhat similar to the idea of a literary or mythological Deus Ex Machina/Machinae, but the idea is not to “save them from disaster” but to offer them an unexpected and useful possible solution to their in-game problems. Problems they don’t have the resources or abilities to yet solve for themselves.
The technique works in this way. First I observe what they are most having problems doing, then as they proceed through the adventure/campaign, etc. I simply provide some unusual device, creature, companion (man-at-arms, etc.), artifact, magic item, clue, etc. which should, if thoroughly investigated and experimented with (and that is the real key), allow them to resolve their current set of difficulties.
To that end I simply observed my new group of players as they explored the Sunless/Sunken Citadel. (The first adventure they are playing and decided that one of the very first things they needed was, obviously, light.) But rather than using the adventure as written, and I have kept the skeleton of the adventure intact, I simply greatly modified it and rather than preparing a large list of gear and magical items and devices they would need to find I simply give them things (usually buried in trash or debris or collapsed areas, on monster corpses, in modified treasure hoards, found in pit traps, or in other less expected places) that they will find useful.
One of the very first items I gave them was the Lantern of Lornoln. (Lornoln is what the original citadel was called in my new world before it sank and was destroyed, the name meaning “Light of the Mountains,” for it was the frontiers outpost or citadel at the foothills range of the Nol-Ilthic Mountain Range.)
Anyway they found the Lantern, which they now call the Lantern of Lornoln or just “the Light” for it looks like it is an old rectangular 4 sided (6 with top and bottom) lantern with sides made of glass or crystal and with a body made of brass.
Their first clue upon taking it that it was no ordinary lantern was how light it felt. Like it was made entirely of glass (or in modern terms even of plastic). So it was obviously not made of brass. Also the glass or crystal sides were entirely transparent and unblemished and unsullied or smudged, even in the debris, and this “glass” is extremely hard.
Instead of a wick or a place for oil the very bottom is covered in glyphs they cannot read and the wick is replaced by a single piece of brass like metal (a small metal rod about an inch and half tall and about one quarter of an inch in diameter). They experimented by sliding one of the glass panes back and then trying to pull or twist the metal bar (you could twist it until it clicked) at which time it lit and produced lumens equivalent to 6 torches in a sixty foot range but within a thirty foot range it is almost as if one is standing in broad daylight. The lantern also has a suppressive and frightening effect upon creatures that fear light or prefer the darkness. That is the only thing they experimented with as far as the lantern is concerned, because they were eager to explore the rest of the ruins of the citadel and night had not yet set in.
The lamp also has other functions which they must explore to discover.
1. The wick will burn, without producing any heat for eight hours straight and then it will extinguish itself for another four hours. This is the same functional procedure for all of the other “wick functions.”
Had they continued to turn the wick they would have discovered:
2. an infrared function in which the lantern is completely black or dark but will illuminate any living creature up to a distance of 120 feet as if they are aglow in an infra-red sheath, though the creatures so displayed are unaware they are lighted by the lamp.
3. an ultraviolet function which will softly illuminate an area of 20 feet in a purplish-blue haze and will illuminate anything hidden that can be seen by ultraviolet light.
4. a setting that will illuminate secret doors and passages, even through solid rock, up to a ten foot radius.
5. a secret setting can be gotten from the wick by clicking it down. That is the “night-light setting.” When people sleep within the radius of the night light (20 feet) they may have strange dreams and portents of nearby dangers or of near-time future events. If they are awake and in the area of the night-light then they can see creatures approaching from a distance of up to 120 feet but the night light makes those within the area of the (soft and almost ultraviolet like) glow appear much smaller than they really are and displaced (as if they are several feet from their real positions). This makes it hard for others to target the lantern users at night.
If they take some of the “glass panes out” (and these are made of magical, transparent crystals, not glass) and turn them around to face the other direction then these functions can be had out of the lantern:
6. the regular light can be focused out of just one pane as if a flashlight were being used to illuminate objects out to a distance of 100 meters and this beam can be seen from three miles away (on flat, open terrains).
7. one of the panes will allow anything illuminated by regular light to be examined as if under a low-powered microscope (60 times magnification).
8. one of the panes, when flipped, acts as a silvered mirror, can sometimes be used to see other people’s thoughts and true motives, and also has effects upon the undead and deceitful.
9 one of the panes, flipped, acts as a strobe light (if the regular light function is used) and can disorient another or make them nauseous. This works even on magical and highly intelligent and even psychic creatures.
The Lantern of Lornoln is, in fact, a Minor Artifact, though the party doesn’t know this yet, they simply think it a “magical light or lamp”
I created it ad hoc or on the spot as something for them to find (then developed it more later on as I thought about who might have created it and why and how it ended up where it did). I will reveal none of the various functions of the lantern to my players, only they can find these out through experimentation and/or research done by others. It is possible they will never discover all of the functions, or even that I will discover other functions as time goes along (in the game).
This is part of my ad hoc system. Even I may discover new functions for these things as time goes along. Plus I will encourage all of my players to devise their own possible uses for things (normal, magical, or miraculous things).
That too will be part of my ad hoc system – unique DM/GM and player innovations. Or put another way, rather than trying to pre-develop or prepare or preplan all aspects of an adventure, campaign, or game I am going to start leaving as many things as possible open to on the spot and ad hoc invention and creation as I can possibly and reasonably accommodate. See where that kind of experimentation leads.
(Of course some things will still have to be preplanned: certain items and magical devices created specifically for certain characters, particular heirlooms, legacies, etc. But as far as many and possibly even most treasures, artifacts, devices, items, and even creatures and NPCs I’m going to play those “by ear” – so to speak.)
Some of the other Ad Hoc creations I indulged in that first evening of play (Sunday) included:
A. There was a room supposed to be inhabited by two mephits (according to the module). I instead used it to allow the escape of a very unique (psychaec even) Homunculous (which is attempting to become the familiar of the party Sorcerer).
B. There was supposed to have bene a werewolf (I’ll describe the actual adventure in another place), but it actually was a Wolf-Hound who is in fact secretly a kind of unique chimera who has become the Animal Companion and protector of the party Druid. It can actively communicate with the Druid through dreams and visions.
C. There was a supposed to have been a set of magical crystals used to entrap mephits, I instead turned it into a magical crystal that creates “powdered water.” (Called Aqua Pulvis.) The party is aware it does something to water but don’t know yet what. It actually uses an alchemical alembic like device to reduce water to a powder which when then later remixed with clean water, or wine, will produce Aqua Vita. Once the user has drunk the powdered solution or suspension of Aqua Vitae then they will not need to consume any liquids again for seven days, nor will they lose liquids by sweat, urination, or by any other means. They will reach a perfect state of fluid homeostasis within their own bodies.
Some of the ideas I already have for future ad hoc items or treasures they find (based on my previous observations of the characters and my players) are: i. honeyed lepsis, ii. sthenetic or sthenotic tablets (tabula sthenae – like the Aqua Pulva an alchemical preparation), iii. A blessing pouch, and iv. a special magical notebook for research that automatically inscribes itself with clues and hints about how to locate information on various subjects of interest. Which I may call the Librum Incognita.
Of course I will not pre-develop these ideas at this point but attempt to let their capabilities sort of grow organically out of game events.
By the way I am also thinking of applying this principle to my novels and fictional writings as well. Not seeking to predevelop items and plot points but letting them shift on an ad hoc and unpredictable and unplanned basis.
As a matter of fact I should apply this same idea as a method for developing my own Real World Inventions. After all inventing with the intent of producing technologies and tools that are multi-functionally capable is one of the basic tenets of my personal approach to inventing.
In the aftermath of director Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World, the entire franchise began a process of rejuvenation. Not only was the film a tremendous blockbuster, but for the first time in years, a Jurassic Park film captivated audiences. The previous two sequels had failed to ignite the excitement and fascination that the original Steven Spielberg film had and to date, Jurassic World has been the closest that Hollywood has come to repeating that magic.
With the public now well aware of plans to make Jurassic World into a trilogy, the anticipation of those films is perhaps matched only by the curiosity of what sort of films they’ll be. For the upcoming Jurassic World 2, we know that Trevorrow has stepped back from directing in order to focus on scripting as well as producing duties. The sequel is in the hands of J.A. Bayona (A Monster Calls) and his vision of the famed dinosaur park run amokwill include animatronic as well as CG effects.
Now we’re also learning that Bayona’s Jurassic World 2 will be a much darker film than its predecessor. Scified brings us the latest news on the film after Bayona spoke with the Spanish language media outlet Agencia EFE. Comparing Jurassic World 2’s darkness and depth to other legendary second steps in successful film franchises like Star Warsand Star Trek, Bayona had this to say:
“It will be darker and scarier then the previous film. Obviously when you have Chris Pratt it will also be very funny. But it will be darker. It is a second step in a trilogy, and the second step is always dark as in ‘The Empire Strikes back or the ‘Wrath of Khan’ which are the examples you always get. The film takes the story where it has never been before. To me it surprised me. We are going to places where the saga has never been before, and at the same time we are paying tribute to the franchise. We will take it a step further. There are things that will happen that people are not expecting and they really are shocking.”
Most recently, Jurassic World 2 writer/producer Colin Trevorrow revealed that the sequel would deal with animal abuse by using the treatment of dinosaurs as a parable of the treatment that today’s animals often encounter. This sort of focus would certainly take the story where it has never been before and it’s easy to see how such a topic could indeed create a much darker Jurassic World film. Couple this darker take with Trevorrow’s previous assurances that the sequel would be scarier than its predecessor and the number of questions as to how all this could play out greatly increases.
Regardless of what either Trevorrow or Bayona might have to say about Jurassic World 2, the real test of how dark or scary the film is will come when audiences are able to decide for themselves. A film like The Empire Strikes Back didn’t require advance warning of its gloom and doom, it delivered these things while being highly entertaining. If Jurassic World 2 can perform in a similar fashion, then the dinosaur-mania that swept theaters with Jurassic World is sure to carry its monstrous momentum onward into the future.
Jurassic World 2 arrives in U.S. theaters on June 22, 2018.
I haven’t had much time to build up the membership yet because I’ve been busy but I have tried to build up some interesting content. The primary interest of the group is gaming, but like this blog it will cover history, archeology, warfare, science, technology, fantasy and science fiction, literature, pop culture, comics, etc.
You’re welcome to visit and to join. Just hit the links provided.
I will soon be returning to blogging and posting about my own game worlds and milieus, my novels (in this case regarding my fantasy/mythological, my sci-fi, and detective novels mostly), my essays on gaming, the games I have designed and written, TSS scenarios, GPADs, my start-ups that are game related, my Vadding expeditions and urban exploration, and all of my other personal creations, enterprises, and Work.
Recently I have been much too busy with both business and personal matters to post about my own creations. But things have calmed now and that’s about to change.
So from now on I will be posting at least once a week about my own creations and designs. This I will do mostly on the weekends, but if you are a follower of this blog then you will know as soon as it happens.
Today at E3 in Los Angeles, Ubisoft announced a fall release for Star Trek: Bridge Crew, a new virtual reality game that will allow players to explore space as a member of the Federation. Supporting the announcement: a cool video featuring LeVar Burton, Jeri Ryan and Karl Urban trying out the game. Playable co-operatively with a crew or solo as Captain, Star Trek: Bridge Crew puts players directly onto the bridge in a Starfleet ship. The game will be available on PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Bridge Crew puts a player and their friends in the heart of a brand-new starship, the U.S.S. Aegis, where every action and decision made will determine the fate of the ship and her crew. The overriding mission is as follows: Explore a largely uncharted sector of space known as The Trench, in hopes of locating a suitable new home world for the decimated Vulcan populace — while coming into direct conflict with the vaunted Klingon Empire.
As developed by Red Storm Entertainment, a Ubisoft Studio, Bridge Crew is designed exclusively for VR. It capitalizes on the powerful sense of social presence only possible through virtual reality. Through hand tracking and full-body avatars, including real-time lip-sync, players can experience what it’s like to serve as an officer on the bridge of a Federation starship.
As a crew, players will form a team of four to operate the roles of Captain, Helm, Tactical or Engineer. Each role is crucial to the success of the varied missions players face, and only by working together can the crew complete their objectives. Also playable in solo, players will assume the role of Captain and dispatch orders to their NPC crew mates. The Captain’s strategic decisions will be vital in order to successfully complete missions. In other words, it’s your ship and you’re in command.
Keep an eye on StarTrek.com for additional details about Star Trek: Bridge Crew.
This article on Viking clothing reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to discuss for some time now. In my games and in my writings, Craft (and by that I mean High Craft), often plays a large and beneficial role in both individual matters and even in larger events.
Using boots and shoes as an example characters have both found and had created for them (by master craftsmen) footwear that is not magical but rather so well crafted that it provides real benefits, such as resistance to extreme temperatures, resistance to wear and replacement, comfort befitting improved endurance or resistance to things like trench foot or blistering, and when they concentrate upon certain tasks (such as running, hiking, climbing, jumping, or stealth) they give definite though temporary advantages.(The characters must concentrate upon the task, for instance, and declare or show evidence that they are trying hard to sneak, or paying attention to their climb – but then such boots give temporary but definite advantages).Such boots or other items and gear (weapons, clothing, tools, etc.) are not magical at all but rather of such high quality and clever construction that they give measurable advantages over other items not constructed by master craftsmen.
(Though really well constructed items of High Craft might very easily be discovered far more susceptible to being enchanted at a later date than more mundane items. That is to say items of High Craft can be far more easily enchanted or ensorceled and such magics will far more easily affix and permanently secure themselves to objects of High Craft than to less well made implements.)
The same could be said to apply in a larger sense to whole groups of people. Nations with master craftsmen or smiths or even entire shops, foundries, and industrial operations devoted to High Craft (and invention and innovation) can produce gear and weapons and armor and equipment that gives a particular army a real and measurable advantage over another less well equipped force. Maybe even, en masse, a very large advantage. Again, not a magical advantage but a qualitative advantage of High Craftsmanship.
Though in a Tolkienesque sense it could easily be argued that High Craft is a form of “magic.” That High Craft is precisely what much magic really is.
With me however, at least in games, I usually use Magic as something “added to” or above and beyond even the Highest of Crafts. Though in my writings and novels High Craft and Magic are sometime synonymous and interchangeable or fungible, depending upon the particular circumstances of precisely what is being discussed.
I know that some use craft as a part of their game(s) and writings and some do not, but if you do, then what are some of the ways you use High Craft as an advantage on any level?
How do you use and employ High Craft in your own creations?
One of the original boots found in the Oseberg Burial Mound dating back to 834 AD. (Photo:skinnblogg.blogspot.no)A number of complete Viking Age shoes found in Scandinavia and England have the same characteristics. They are flexible, soft and mostly made of cattle hide, but also other kinds of leather was used.There are complete shoes found in the Oseberg ship burial mound in Norway, Hedeby trading center in Denmark, and Coppergate (York, Viking Age Jorvik, Editor’s note) in England.
All three of these discoveries show a similar construction and form typical for the Middle Ages.
The shoes found in the Oseberg ship consists of two main parts, soles and uppers, and are so-called “turn shoes”.
Reconstructed boots found in the Oseberg burial mound, by Bjørn Henrik Johansen. (Photo: Bjørn Henrik Johansen/ skinnblogg.blogspot.no)
The shoemaker stitched the shoe together inside out, and then turned right side out when finished. This hides the main seam, prolongs the life and prevents moisture from leaking in.
Viking Age shoes (793 – 1066AD) were well suited for use in wintertime by using thick, felted wool socks and fur inside.
Materials and Tools
Studies of the leather shows that mainly cattle hide was used from the 9th to mid-11th century and was typically 1 – 3 millimeter thick.
Anglo-Scandinavian Shoe found in Coppergate, York, England. (Photo: definedlearning.com via Pinterest)
A bristle or metal needle was used stitching flax, hemp, or a combination of the two. Shears or blades were used to cut the leather, and a simple awl to punch the holes.
At Coppergate twelve examples of iron shears were found.
Tanning and Color
Vegetable tan was the primary method for tanning, but also alum tans and oil tans were used in luxury leathers.
Reconstructed Anglo-Scandinavian Shoe found in Coppergate, York, England by Bjørn Henrik Johansen. (Photo:by Bjørn Henrik Johansen/ skinnblogg.blogspot.no)
Modern vegetable tans are much stiffer due to industrialization and shortening of the process and are unsuited for turn shoes.
Like today, elaborately made clothing and shoes were visible proves of high social status.
Scientists have concluded that the better-quality shoes and boots had much more color than can be seen from archaeological discoveries.
Is GRR Martin’s ASOIF not every bit as much a work of Great Science Fiction as it is a work of High Fantasy?
(Though, perhaps given the numerous bloody, torturous, criminal, immoral, and amoral events of the story and books, perhaps Epic Fantasy is a far better term than High Fantasy. I should also say that I have read quite a bit of Martin’s science fiction so I do not make this observation in a vacuum.)
In any case look at the background, the events, and the milieu of the world itself. Even the very planet is apparently out of sync, ecologically and biologically. You have a world whose very orbit and rotation seems seasonally misaligned.
You have a past superculture (Valyria), apparently with a fairly highly developed technology, who were abruptly and almost instantly annihilated in what appears to be a self-induced immolation or act of self-destruction.
You have incredible acts of architecture, engineering, and materials control, such as with the Wall.
You have what is essentially a wholly alien race of creatures (the White Walkers) who can disappear into hibernation for untold aeons only to reappear in a mutated and far more dangerous form. You have other species of peculiar natures and seemingly bizarre backgrounds, such as the giants and the Children.
You have a very dangerous long-term degenerating disease which looks very much like some form of designed biological agent. Or yet another mutating agent.
You have a boy who cannot only “warg” himself backwards in time to gain critical information or historical events, he can actually influence people in the past. In other words you have visionary time travel with a built in ability to influence previous timelines.
And I could list many other such elements, including the dragons themselves, and their obviously native and possibly enhanced, not animalistic intelligence.
Now none of these things negate the obviously fantastical elements of the story (whichever you take as the source material for the real story and the truer events, the books or the Game of Thrones show) but they do point out that the frontier between fantasy and science fiction in this case is an extremely thin line of division.
Then again the exact same thing could be said of Tolkien’s work.
The frontier between science fiction and fantasy in the works of both men is an uncertain one indeed. At least when it comes to certain obvious elements.
Simone Missick (“Ray Donovan”) has joined the cast to play popular character Misty Knight, a Harlem police detective who is determined to learn the truth about Luke Cage.
“We know fans have waited years to see Misty Knight brought to life, so we had to find the right actress,” said Executive Producer/Marvel’s Head of TV Jeph Loeb. “Simone blew us away with her performance as the strong-willed cop on a mission.”
Theo Rossi (“Sons of Anarchy,” “Bad Hurt”) has joined the cast as Shades, a ruthless criminal with ties to Cage’s mysterious past.
“Theo Rossi is a swiss army knife–no matter what you bring to him, he has a tool for it–and he’s playfully unpredictable,” said series Executive Producer and Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker. “His Shades will be someone you hate to love.”
Actress Rosario Dawson, celebrated for her work in “Top Five,” “Sin City,” and “Kids,” will reprise her role from “Marvel’s Daredevil” as nurse Claire Temple. Her blossoming friendship with Luke Cage will have a major impact on both characters’ lives.
“We are thrilled to have Rosario in another one of our television series,” said Loeb. “Her performance as Claire Temple in Marvel’s Daredevil was astonishing and we can’t wait to see her shine in Marvel’s Luke Cage.”
It was previously announced that Mike Colter (“Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” “The Good Wife”) will play the charismatic lead character, Luke Cage, in the series. Mahershala Ali will play his archrival Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. Cheo Hodari Coker (“SouthLAnd,” “Ray Donovan”) will write the series’ first two episodes in addition to serving as showrunner and Executive Producer along with Loeb.
After a sabotaged experiment leaves him with super strength and unbreakable skin, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) becomes a fugitive trying to rebuild his life in modern day Harlem, New York City. But he is soon pulled out of the shadows and must fight a battle for the heart of his city – forcing him to confront a past he had tried to bury.
“Marvel’s Luke Cage” is produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios for Netflix.
Indeed. It has been a seminal influence on my fictional writings, but not just upon my writings. It also greatly influenced many other things I did or am still doing in life, everything from detective work to my inventions.
I also learned a great deal about things like map-reading and ambush setting by playing D&D.
When he was an immigrant boy growing up in New Jersey, the writer Junot Díaz said he felt marginalized. But that feeling was dispelled somewhat in 1981 when he was in sixth grade. He and his buddies, adventuring pals with roots in distant realms — Egypt, Ireland, Cuba and the Dominican Republic — became “totally sucked in,” he said, by a “completely radical concept: role-playing,” in the form of Dungeons & Dragons.
Playing D&D and spinning tales of heroic quests, “we welfare kids could travel,” Mr. Díaz, 45, said in an email interview, “have adventures, succeed, be powerful, triumph, fail and be in ways that would have been impossible in the larger real world.”
“For nerds like us, D&D hit like an extra horizon,” he added. The game functioned as “a sort of storytelling apprenticeship.”
Now the much-played and much-mocked Dungeons & Dragons, the first commercially available role-playing game, has turned 40. In D&D players gather around a table, not a video screen. Together they use low-tech tools like hand-drawn maps and miniature figurines to tell stories of brave and cunning protagonists such as elfish wizards and dwarfish warriors who explore dungeons and battle orcs, trolls and mind flayers. Sacks of dice and vast rule books determine the outcome of the game’s ongoing, free-form story.
For certain writers, especially those raised in the 1970s and ’80s, all that time spent in basements has paid off. D&D helped jump-start their creative lives. As Mr. Díaz said, “It’s been a formative narrative media for all sorts of writers.”
The league of ex-gamer writers also includes the “weird fiction” authorChina Miéville (“The City & the City”); Brent Hartinger (author of “Geography Club,” a novel about gay and bisexual teenagers); the sci-fi and young adult author Cory Doctorow; the poet and fiction writer Sherman Alexie; the comedian Stephen Colbert; George R. R. Martin, author of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series (who still enjoys role-playing games). Others who have been influenced are television and film storytellers and entertainers like Robin Williams, Matt Groening (“The Simpsons”), Dan Harmon (“Community”) and Chris Weitz (“American Pie”).
With the release of the rebooted Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set on Tuesday, and more advanced D&D rule books throughout the summer, another generation of once-and-future wordsmiths may find inspiration in the scribbled dungeon map and the secret behind Queen of the Demonweb Pits.
Mr. Díaz, who teaches writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said his first novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” was written “in honor of my gaming years.” Oscar, its protagonist, is “a role-playing-game fanatic.” Wanting to become the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien, he cranks out “10, 15, 20 pages a day” of fantasy-inspired fiction.
Though Mr. Díaz never became a fantasy writer, he attributes his literary success, in part, to his “early years profoundly embedded and invested in fantastic narratives.” From D&D, he said, he “learned a lot of important essentials about storytelling, about giving the reader enough room to play.”
And, he said, he was typically his group’s Dungeon Master, the game’s quasi-narrator, rules referee and fate giver.
The Dungeon Master must create a believable world with a back story, adventures the players might encounter and options for plot twists. That requires skills as varied as a theater director, researcher and psychologist — all traits integral to writing. (Mr. Díaz said his boyhood gaming group was “more like an improv group with some dice.”)
Sharyn McCrumb, 66, who writes the Ballad Novels series set in Appalachia, was similarly influenced, and in her comic novel “Bimbos of the Death Sun” D&D even helps solve a murder.
“I always, always wanted to be the Dungeon Master because that’s where the creativity lies — in thinking up places, characters and situations,” Ms. McCrumb said. “If done well, a game can be a novel in itself.”
What makes a D&D story different from novels and other narratives is its improvisational and responsive nature. Plotlines are decided as a group. As a D&D player, “you have to convince other players that your version of the story is interesting and valid,” said Jennifer Grouling, an assistant professor of English at Ball State University who studied D&D players for her book, “The Creation of Narrative in Tabletop Role-Playing Games.”
If a Dungeon Master creates “a boring world with an uninteresting plot,” she said, players can go in a completely different direction; likewise, the referee can veto the action of player. “I think D&D can help build the skills to work collaboratively and to write collaboratively,” she added. (Mr. Díaz called this the “social collaborative component” of D&D.)
Ms. Grouling also cited “a sense of control over stories” as a primary reason people like role-playing games. “D&D is completely in the imagination and the rules are flexible — you don’t have the same limitations” of fiction, or even of a programmed video game, she said. A novel is ultimately a finished thing, written, edited and published, its story set in stone. In D&D, the plot is always fluid; anything can happen.
The playwright and screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire, 44, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Rabbit Hole,” said D&D “harkens back to an incredibly primitive mode of storytelling,” one that was both “immersive and interactive.” The Dungeon Master resembles “the tribal storyteller who gathers everyone around the fire to tell stories about heroes and gods and monsters,” he said. “It’s a live, communal event, where anything can happen in the moment.”
Mr. Lindsay-Abaire said planning D&D adventures was “some of the very first writing that I did.” And the game taught him not just about plot but also about character development.
Playing D&D has also benefited nonfiction writers. “Serving as Dungeon Master helped me develop a knack for taking the existing elements laid out by the game and weaving them into a coherent narrative,” said Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic and author of “My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind.” “And yet you were constrained by the rules of the D&D universe, which in journalism translates into being constrained by the available, knowable facts.”
Mr. Lindsay-Abaire agreed that fictional worlds need rules. “For a story to be satisfying, an audience needs to understand how the world works,” he said. “ ‘The Hunger Games’ is a perfect example of: ‘O.K., these are the rules of this world, now go! Go play in that world.’ ”
Over and over again, Ms. Grouling said, tabletop role players in her survey compared their gaming experience to “starring in their own movies or writing their own novels.”
As for Mr. Díaz, “Once girls entered the equation in a serious way,” he said, “gaming went right out the window.” But he said he still misses D&D’s arcane pleasures and feels its legacy is still with him: “I’m not sure I would have been able to transition from reader to writer so easily if it had not been for gaming.”
The eldritch knight archetype for the 5th edition fighter can technically be used to create a version of the arcane archer, though its powers are more suitable to melee weapons than ranged. With a few tweaks, the eldritch knight can become an impressive ranged combatant, while still allowing the knight’s melee advantages. The Eldritch Archer
The spellcasting feature of the eldritch knight remains the same with the following addition. Note: These changes apply to the spellcasting class feature of all eldritch knights.
Anytime the eldritch archer is able to learn wizard spells, including those limited to theabjuration or evocation spell schools, they may instead choose one or more ranger spells from the following list. These spells are considered wizard spells.
3rd: hail of thorns, hunter’s mark
7th: cordon of arrows, pass without trace
13th: conjure barrage, lightning arrow
19th: conjure volley, swift quiver
The weapon bond class feature remains the same. Eldritch archers commonly bond one ranged weapon and one melee weapon. Though spells with a somatic component require one hand to cast, 2-handed ranged weapons such as bows and crossbows may be held in one hand while casting a spell.
The war magic class feature remains the same with the following addition. Note: These changes apply to the war magic class feature of all eldritch knights.
If you use your weapon bond on a ranged weapon and that weapon is in your hand, you may spend a bonus action whenever you cast a cantrip to imbue one piece of ammunition with the cantrip’s arcane power. As a part of the bonus action you may fire the piece of ammunition at any target or location within the weapon’s range. If the spell requires an attack roll, the attack is rolled normally for the ranged weapon using Strength or Dexterity as appropriate, not your spell casting ability. If the spell requires a saving throw, you must make a successful attack roll against either the target creature or the desired point of origin (use a base AC 10 if the target is a point instead of a creature) before forcing the target to make the saving throw.
Whether or not the spell requires an attack roll or a saving throw, a successful ranged attack roll deals damage from the ammunition in addition to the effects of the spell (weapon damage is dealt before applying the spell’s effects, including any associated saving throws). Should the damage be reduced to 0, such as through the monk’s Deflect Missiles class feature or similar effect, the spell’s effects are negated.
The eldritch strike class feature remains the same.
At 15th level, you learn to weave arcane magic around yourself in order to hide your position. After you take an attack action while hiding, you may expend one 1st level spell slot to become invisible until the beginning of your next round. You may expend a 2nd level or higher spell slot to use this ability. For each slot level above 1st, the invisibility lasts 1 additional round. Invisibility gained through use of the arcane sniper class feature is not broken by attacking or casting spells.
Improved War Magic
If you use your weapon bond on a ranged weapon and that weapon is in your hand, you may spend a bonus action whenever you cast a spell (not only a cantrip) to imbue one piece of ammunition with the spell’s arcane power. Otherwise, this feature works as the war magic class feature.
Marvel Studios has commenced principal photography at Pinewood Studios in Atlanta, Georgia onCaptain America: Civil War, the third installment of its Super Hero franchise. The production will shoot on location in Atlanta, Georgia, which serves as the base for the film’s production, as well as locations in Germany, Puerto Rico and Iceland.
Set for release in the United States on May 6, 2016, Captain America: Civil War is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, “Community”) from a screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Captain America: The Winter Solider, Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger). The film returns Chris Evans as the iconic Super Hero character Steve Rogers/Captain America along with Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Paul Bettany as The Vision, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Don Cheadle as Jim Rhodes/War Machine and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch.
After his debut in Marvel’s Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Paul Rudd will make his first appearance alongside the Avengers as Scott Lang/Ant-Man in Captain America: Civil War.
The cast of the film also includes Chadwick Boseman (42, Get on Up) as T’Challa/Black Panther, Emily VanCamp (“Revenge”) as Sharon Carter/Agent 13, Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds,Bourne Ultimatum) as Baron Helmut Zemo, Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow/Crossbones, William Hurt (Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk) as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).
Captain America: Civil War picks up where Avengers: Age of Ultron left off, as Steve Rogers leads the new team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. After anotherinternational incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers while they try to protect the world from a new and nefarious villain.
Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War is produced by Marvel Studios’ president, Kevin Feige, with Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Patricia Whitcher, Nate Moore and Stan Lee serving as executive producers.
Directors Joe and Anthony Russo’s creative team also includes director of photography Trent Opaloch (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Elysium), production designer Owen Paterson (Godzilla, The Matrix), and three time Oscar-nominated costume designer Judianna Makovsky (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone).
On the heels of the reveal of its nine-month production schedule, Marvel Studios, the Russo brothers and IMAX today announced that Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War – Parts 1 & 2 will be shot in their entirety using IMAX and ARRI’s next generation revolutionary 2D digital camera – a joint customized digital version of ARRI’s new large format camera, the Alexa 65. The two-part “Avengers” saga marks the first time a Hollywood feature film will have been shot completely using IMAX cameras and will feature IMAX’s exclusive aspect ratio, providing moviegoers a uniquely immersive experience.
“The intent with the Infinity War films is to bring ten years of accumulative storytelling to an incredible climax,” Joe and Anthony Russo stated. “We felt that the best way to exploit the scale and scope required to close out the final chapter of these three phases, was to be the first films shot entirely on the IMAX/ARRI Digital camera.”
“Over the years, IMAX has had the incredible good fortune to work with some of the world’s finest, most talented filmmakers, who continue to push the envelope both technically and creatively,” said Greg Foster, Senior Executive Vice President, IMAX Corp. and CEO of IMAX Entertainment. “We could not be more excited to deepen our partnership with Joe and Anthony Russo, a pair of filmmakers we believe are next-generation trailblazers. Marvel’s Avengers franchise has become aglobal phenomenon and to have it pay off in this epic way using the IMAX/ARRI digital camera is the very definition of event movie-going.”
The next-generation 2D digital camera – co-developed by IMAX and ARRI – is meant for use by today’s leading filmmakers working in the IMAX format. The joint solution is designed as a complementary tool to IMAX’s high-resolution capture technologies – including its 3D digital and 15perf / 65mm film cameras. Moreover, IMAX worked with ARRI to achieve the highest level of digital image capture for playback on IMAX’s xenon and new laser projection systems.
Set to be directed by the Russo brothers and featuring a script by Marvel favorites Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 is slated for release in IMAX theaters on May 4, 2018; Part 2 will open on May 3, 2019.
Pre-orders of the device, which can been used for everything from immersive space sims to interactive VR movies, will kick off later this year, at a yet undisclosed price point. The shipping device, based on the company’s Crescent Bay prototype, will include built-in audio and what Oculus describes as “an improved tracking system” that works regardless of whether you’re sitting down or standing up.
The ergonomics and industrial design have been tweaked as well to make it a product that’s a little more polished for the consumer market. Previous models were only available for developers interested in building apps and games for the headset, though the company also helped produce the Gear VR headset being sold by Samsung.
We’ll get more details from Oculus VR in the coming weeks, including the price and full technical specifications, and the company teased that the upcomingE3 gaming conference might be one venue in which it would deliver further information. The big question remains exactly what software will work with the Rift upon launch. We’ve seen some examples already, including space simElite: Dangerous and the aforementioned interactive movies. Given how long developer kits have existed, it seems likely that game companies and others have had time to add support for the Rift into their products, but I’d expect to see some game announcements at E3 and more as we get closer to the Rift’s actual ship date. Like so many new peripherals, however, there’s a chicken-and-egg dilemma; some will no doubt buy a Rift sight unseen, but many may wait to see whether this is a literal game-changing experience before they invest. Yet if nothing else, there’s always Oculus’s parent company, social media behemoth Facebook, which has said it intends to provide some sort of social experience through virtual reality.
Of course, Oculus isn’t the only company interested in VR: HTC has teamed up with Valve to produce a headset targeted for later this year and gaming company Razer is taking a bigger picture approach with an open source platform that’s compatible with multiple VR platforms. One way or another, virtual reality will be a fact of life in the next year or so.
Today’s entry for The Forge is based upon a correspondence between me and an old friend over the idea of exactly how much of a game can and should be programmed (pre-designed), how much should be flexible and open to ad hoc manipulation, and what the consequences of these conflicting deign principles really mean.
Of course in tabletop and role play games (non-electronic versions) the ad hoc and “open” elements are much easier to develop and fully exploit in comparison to exactly how much of a computer or electronic or video game must be pre-programmed. But in my opinion the ultimate goal even of computer and video and even virtual reality games is not just to mimic or emulate open choice, but to actually develop program parameters than allow a sort of “open interface” with the gaming world in the same way that an individual can interact with the Real World. That is to say game should not merely simulate “open choice and open exploration” they should actually provide it.
And since today’s entry is for the Forge I also briefly discuss the Design and operational Tools I call the Terra Incognito and Esoteric DistributionPrinciples, as well as Hard and Soft Backgrounds/Milieus.
Since all games are programmed (to some extent) I think that it is very unusual for most game designers (who think in a programmed fashion- that is they try to project onto the game the same basic methods of thought which they themselves use for the logical design of the game) to attempt to program into the game the elements you described.
When maps are drawn and given to the player they are almost invariably accurate.
Why, most all game designers think, give a player an inaccurate map as that will only anger him and look shoddy, as if it were the fault of the game designer, as if it were a bug. Most players have become conditioned to think in exactly this same fashion as regards games. They see that something does not function properly and they automatically assume it is a bug. But much of life is exactly that- Terra Incognito, you get no real map to most things in life, especially things you have never encountered before and it is ridiculous to assume that any map you ever receive will be absolutely accurate. As a matter of fact much information we receive and much education is similarly either erroneous or at the least tainted by bias, or by ignorance or by mistake, intentional or unintentional.
Then you have to consider that often times things we receive as information from any particular source may also be purposely misleading.
Therefore if a game is to mimic life in many respects it has to incorporate this “unknown and unexpected” territory and it must also incorporate intentional deceit. For instance in many games i have played when one receives informant information it is just assumed to be accurate or truthful. This is not the way real informant information works. It is partially correct, partially misleading, purposely misleading, it is second or third hand information, it is misinterpreted, or disinformation, etc… Games should reflect this. As a matter of fact this puts me to the mind to create all sorts of intentional bug parameters that reflect real life, not randomness, but actual error. Error that is reflective of living error.
So I’m gonna incorporate both aspects into my game designs. The unknown, uncharted, unmapped or incorrectly mapped territories, of whatever kind I’m gonna call the Terra Incognito principal. The other, the misleading or incomplete information principle I think I’m gonna call
the Esoteric Distribution principle.
Both principles will function as a sort of basic background of functionality, that a game, like life itself is not just about the data but the quality and nature of that data and how accurately that data reflects upon the overall gaming environment. Then the player, like a living person, will have to determine not only the gaming parameters, but the functional parameters and whether any information received is of any actual value, whether it is valid or invalid.
I suspect that current principles only exist because they are reflective of the basically mathematical mindset of software and game designers.
That is perfectly appropriate for the development of a Hard Background, or environment in a game, but it is completely superficial and childlike in naivete as regards a Soft, or Human, Background. Soft Backgrounds are full of error, deceit, and ignorance. Unlike present games, soft backgrounds fail to function properly, or one could say function in error about as often as they function successfully and accurately. Soft Backgrounds are not just mere isolated plot devices, but should be a vital and ongoing principle of making any game or skill simulation function correctly.
Fancy seeing Captain America drop kick and decapitate an Ultron bot? Of course you do. So I’m not going to waste your time with any preamble, just watch the Australian television spot for Avengers: Age Of Ultron and immediately start to salivate.
Sensational. Despite being just 15 seconds long, this brief look at Joss Whedon’s hugely anticipated sequel rams home the two main aspects of Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Firstly, that the world is in utter chaos because of Ultron’s decision to wreak havoc across the globe. And secondly, that the Avengers themselves are going through their own issues. That’s why Iron Man has created a Hulk-buster suit that he uses to drag the big, green monster through a skyscraper.
The fact that both Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) are easily able to destroy the Ultron bots with an almighty swing of their hammer and shield, respectively, suggests that we’re going to get action scenes reminiscent of Age Of Ultron’s predecessor (2012’s The Avengers) and The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King. In these films, each of our heroes took down the repeated sway of enemy soldiers with no difficulty, and the directors of these films made sure to keep audiences entertained by injecting humor and making the characters work as a tag-team to defeat them. Thor’s thwack of Cap’s shield with his hammer suggests Age Of Ultron’s battle scenes will be broken down in this manner, too.
Meanwhile, one of the most prominent aspects of Avengers: Age Of Ultron’s promotional campaign has been the tease of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and The Hulk’s (Mark Ruffalo) tussle. Because of The Hulk’s height, weight, anger and gamma-ray advantage over his metallic pal, Tony Stark has created a Hulkbuster suit to tackle Bruce Banner’s less-than-friendly alter-ego. Many rumors have started to circulate about the reasons for their tussle. Some have suggested that Iron Man resorts to tackling The Hulk because he has lost control and is wreaking havoc in a heavily populated area, while it’s also been teased that they go toe-to-toe just to see who is tougher. Scarlet Witch might also factor in to the fray, from what we have heard. Either way, the tease of their tussle has done a great job of amping up anticipation ahead of Age Of Ultron’s release, so much so that Avengers 2’sbox office predictions are insanely high.
And now that we know that Captain America: Civil War will revolve around an almighty quarrel between Iron Man and Captain America, it basically proves that Age Of Ultron will help to sow these seeds ahead of Steve Rogers’ third solo adventure in 2016. But before that though, Avengers: Age Of Ultron will hit cinemas on May 1st. And it promises to be a pretty big deal.