July 2017 Blog Carnival – Conflicts in Dark Worlds and Genres

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Welcome back, gamers!  I usually homebrew stuff and this is a complete change of pace for me.  That said, I’ve been meaning to write pieces examining things within games in addition to homebrew.  As it is, I’ve branched out with gaming recaps and those seem to reach some sort of audience, so I’ll continue to experiment.  That said, homebrewing is still my prime focus.

Back on topic, last time I opened up the carnival by looking at why I think people like darker genres and topics in their games!  Today’s post is deeper focus on dark settings in regards to conflict; whether it’s problems from society, the self, the environment or even forces beyond our control.  One can’t have a darker story without extreme conflict, to the point it’s usually quite oppressive, or repressive in some cases.  Sure, there are more examples than what I’m talking about, but I could go on and on about that.  Also, I like rambling some anecdotes about old games I’ve played it, because I really love sharing gaming stories with everyone when I get the chance!

Author’s Note: I know, it’s a change of pace.  Like I said, I’m not abandoning homebrewing.  I promise.  Also, this one is a little more mature oriented than other posts, touching upon rougher subjects.

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July 2017 RPG Blog Carnival: Doomsdays & Dystopias (Dark Genres and Settings)

Abandoned Environment Concept tutorial by maciejkuciara

While I enjoy tons of heroic settings with noble characters ensuring good in the world, I’ve always loved truly grim and dour settings.  I speak of worlds that fit the “GRIMDARK” moniker that’s been affectionately used.  For those who don’t get the reference, it refers to Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40K tagline, which states that “In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war!”  I’m speaking of places blighted by impossible evils, dystopias where any sort of righteousness and passion is repressed, a sinister universe that is out to destroy you, nuked out wastelands where the remains of society struggle to continue or scrap the last bits of the old ones… but you get the point.

So, why is my theme essentially “dark settings and dark themes”?  Sounds depressing, I know.  After all, spending too much time in an overly dark and oppressive world can wear one down, right?  Not exactly!  There are many reasons why dark settings are truly fascinating.  Before I turn the carnival over to you, let’s take a look at why starker settings can be awesome.  (Or if you prefer, skip down to the bold text.)

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Taking Inspiration from the Marvel Cinematic Universe for Dungeons & Dragons

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Admittedly, I’ve been away from the boundless realms of graphic novel and comic books.  Whether it’s because I’m hesitant to try new series or because money is always tight, I haven’t really gone too deep into comic books, especially nowadays.  Now, I’ve caught up on a few series and read many of them after the fact, but I’ve never really gotten active within any fandoms… unless a handful of defunct and finished web-comics count for anything, that is.  That said, I’ve been slowly been brought back into the fold thanks to Disney and Marvel teaming up for the relatively recent series of films that have been mostly pretty damn good.  Save for a few sub-par installations, the films that have been released (sometimes more than) once a year have been fantastic.  At the best, an excellent journey of action and heroism… and at worst?  A good way to spend an evening, none the less.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has allowed theater goers to observe all parts of the expansive realms of Marvel; past, present and future.  We’ve had stories jam packed with all sorts of adventure… and all sorts of adventure inspiration.  These are mostly big stories full of drama and conflict, the righteous and the malicious, worlds thrown out of balance due to someone’s corrupt plans; worlds in need of great heroes, where said heroes rise up to the occasion.  On top of that, they have a variety of moods and styles to them.  The stories can range from world threatening menaces to stories about a struggling family to a conspiracy that seeks to intertwine itself with the very companies and governments we associate with.  All around, there’s more than enough to work with.  With that, let’s take a brief look at taking from MCU to enhance and inspire your games.

Editorial Note: Wait, what is this?  Well, I wanted to shake things up a little.  Considering it’s game related, I posted it here rather than on the original review blog.  But, don’t be alarmed, I’m still going to produce as much gaming content as I can.  But, I’m hoping this article will still be useful for you, at least to spark some ideas.

I was originally planning another theme, but Doctor Strange (and the rumors regarding Wizards of the Coast’s next release) revitalized my planar/multiverse theme!  So, a bit off the cuff, but whatever!  In fact, this article is very off the cuff and not really planned at all.  Also, Marvel did not pay me to write this.  I wanted to write this.  I might just like the Marvel movies… a lot.  Also, the following focuses more on the recent movies, for the most part.  None the less, enjoy.

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RPG BLOG CARNIVAL AUGUST 2016: Super-Science & Sorcery

This has been quite an exciting year for Daemons & Deathrays!  It marks me expanding my site content through new ideas and concepts.  It also will mark me making the leap to digital distribution and sales!  *fingers crossed!*  Above all, it’s the third time I’ve participated in the Blog Carnival.  In this case, spearheading this month’s theme!

On that note, the theme for this month is “Super Science & Sorcery.”  In other words, science fantasy.  This hybrid genre embodies a mixture of motifs found in both science fiction and fantasy fiction.  The origins of the genre stem from a time when speculative fiction was significantly less concrete in its terminology.  On one hand, you had harder science fiction typically written by people in directly scientific fields of study.  On the other hand, you had lighter and pulpier science fiction.  While they explored a variety of themes found in the genre, they weren’t as concerned with creating a world cemented in tested theories or making it feel exactly like our own world.  These range from Buck Rogers radio serials and b-grade midnight movies to fantastical epic stories like Star Wars and The Masters of the Universe.

In terms of tabletop hobbies, the concept of science-fantasy is as old as the grand parent of roleplaying games itself!  David Arneson’s Blackmoor made homages to aliens, high technology and even Star Trek.  Gary Gygax brought a spacefaring vessel (likely from Metamorphosis Alpha) into the world of Oerth via Expedition to Barrier Peaks.  The Post-Apocalyptic wastes of Gamma World and the western frontier of Boot Hill had options to bring strange gizmos across the planes via the Advanced D&D DM’s Guide.  Gygax’s friend and co-founder of TSR, Don Kaye, made a character that transported to Boot Hill and learned the art of the shootist.  Upon returning to Greyhawk, he was decked out in cliche cowboy gear and sixguns.  After Kaye’s passing, Gygax honored his character as a minor deity of magical technology.  During 2E’s run, Dragon Magazine had a plot involving invasive evil robots called “Sheens”, as well as an adventure called “Tales of the Comet” with a similar theme.  As the years continued, we saw a few steampunk articles for Dragon magazine, the D20 Modern roleplaying game, Gamma World revisions for new editions, Dragonstar, 3rd Party settings like Amethyst, among countless other genre mashups for the game.  With that, the concept of Science-Fantasy within the realm of Dungeons & Dragons (and roleplaying games in general) is far from new and far from over.  Beyond the realms of D&D, we’ve all sorts of works arise over the years: Warhammer 40K, Titansgrave, Shadowrun, Skyrealms of Jorune, RIFTS, the list goes on!

So, you may be wondering where you all fit into this strange theme?  For this month, I’m asking you to share any Science-Fantasy RPG goodness you have with me!  Stories, homebrew, etc!  Please, comment down below with a link to your creations.  Despite the D&D-centric nature of this blog, I encourage you to explore any RPG game or story within the realms of science-fantasy that works for you.  At the end of the month, I’ll do a round up post involving all of this month’s contributions.  Here’s to a successful month of mutants, magitech, machine men and more!

For more information on the RPG Blog Carnival, please visit here.

Image Credit: RPG Blog Carnival – Reis O’Brien

Jump Into the Faerie Ring!

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“Step inside, what’s the worst that could happen?”

In an effort to keep this blog from being stranded in a theme for too long, I’ve decided to change things up starting in February.  For the next little while, I’m going to do creations based on “The Fair Folk”.  By Fair Folk, I refer to magical creatures of myth and legend.  For the most part, I refer to faerie creatures from folktales and folklore; fey, spirit folk, magical nature beings, etc.  Some dwell in the faerie realm of Arcadia, some are native to the material plane.  In this regard, it relates to my previous planar/science-fantasy theme, but fey creatures don’t have to come from other planes per se.  They can be very much a natural part of your realm.  So with that, be on the look out for a helping of mystical and magical things to come.

IMAGE SOURCE: Martin Eager

The Planes, The Planes! – Doc’s look at the Planescape Setting

Lady of Pain - Planescapes Character by Pseudooctopus

Please don’t anger the Lady of Pain!

So, the theme for this blog for the past couple of months has been planar creatures and dimensional weirdness.  Nothing embodies both better in my opinion within the realms of D&D than the Planescape Campaign Setting.  While I’ve enjoyed other AD&D settings like Greyhawk, the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance; Planescape has remained special to me.  It’s a strange and cosmic fantasy where imagination is truly the limit!  You want to fight insane mechanical cubes with ray guns?  You can!  You wanna gamble with a Devil with an Angel by your side?  It’s possible!  You wanna get flayed by a giant lady for treating her like a God?  PLEASE DON’T DO THAT!  But I digress, Planescape is a high concept setting with endless amounts of play and content to explore.  For the reasons above and the many reasons below, I hope the full flavor of Planescape returns to D&D 5th Edition.  So far, it’s my favorite incarnation of the rule set (and I loooove AD&D 2e, albeit mostly for the vast library of settings.)  While they more or less have the Great Wheel, it feels much of the shadow of its former self like in the 3rd Edition of the game.  I want the vibrancy, the absurdity and the wonder of those wonderful weird planes.  Digressing from that, I’m here to address another question… How does one do a Planar game in this setting?  Why, I’m glad you asked!  Here’s a few humble suggestions from yours truly!

Now, I know what you’re thinking…  “Doc!  Didn’t you write about the planes on your other blog?”  Yes, I did.  However, I think now is a good time to revisit that post, especially now that I’ve been creating content revolving around planar travel and alternate dimensions.  Plus, cosmological models and jumping between worlds has been one of my favorite aspects of D&D as a whole!  With that, let’s chat about campaigns within the planes.

For starters, you might also ask me something; “Hey Doc!  Aren’t there more cosmological models than The Great Wheel a la AD&D?”  And you would be right!  Especially since 3rd edition, new models have popped up.  The Portals and Planes D20 Book (a rare title, if I may add) had heavily versatile options for truly forging your own planar realms.  Pathfinder modifies the Great Wheel and adds to it in simply awesome ways (with help of Todd Stewart himself!)  Eberron has an orrery based system where some planes overlap at the material plane at points in time.  The World Axis is a duality between the Gods above and the Primordials below.  That said, the Great Wheel remains my personal favorite of mine.  To be fair, it’s where I had the most adventures within the planes themselves.

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