Over on the Patreon we’ve just released the first bit of bonus content! If you’d like to help out the podcast you can join at the $4 level. When you do you’ll receive access to this episode as well as all future bonus episodes.
In this first release, Dr Hipp and I sit down and discuss what went on behind the scenes for Wild is Plus and decisions made as we got the game ready for production. We talk character decisions, game mechanics and experiences we had with some solo playtests before we kicked it all off “for real.”
I’m very happy to announce the first episode for Natural Geekery, Season 2 will be dropping this Wednesday morning, July 22rd. New episodes will continue to release every Wednesday for your geeky listening pleasure!
It’s been rough holding on to this secret for what has turned into a very long six months. I made the decision to relaunch things back in January of this year and since then have been very busy creating, recording and editing new episodes. I had hoped to kick this off a little earlier but, as you may have guessed, 2020 had other plans. (I think 2020 has had alternate plans for just about everyone at this point.) Regardless, I am finally ready to share it with all of you.
This podcast has always been about the community surrounding the hobby of tabletop roleplaying games and the joy we get from creating characters and playing through stories. (And, yes, I did just say, “We.” More on that in the upcoming episode!) To that end, we’ve decided to create our own story as well as looking more to that focus on interaction and community. We are going to be doing this with a special twist that I don’t think you will find in other podcasts.
I don’t want to spoil it early but let’s just say we’ve built an entire new game world for you to enjoy and explore with us. In addition, a new feature for listeners to email in gaming stories has been added. We will also be adding surveys and questions and all manner of things available to you to have a hand in shaping the progress of the show. In addition, there are plans still being worked on that will take us well into next year and beyond with stories, interviews, and more.
As we move through the later half of what has been a very tough year for most of us, it’s our hope the upcoming Season 2 will give you a chance to take a break from the nuttiness of the world, have a laugh, enjoy a tale and to share in our enjoyment of roleplaying, storytelling and creativity.
The podcast will be available here of course and is available on all major podcast hosts, Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn and others. If you’d like to follow the official Twitter account then hop over to @NaturalGeekery and click follow. If you’re a bit more visual you can follow my daily wanderings on my @naturalgeekery Instagram. If you have any questions, comments or would like to be on the show then feel free to comment here or email me at email@example.com!
I look forward to kicking off Season 2 with you this Wednesday. See you then!
Hello to all of you wonderful subscribers and supporters of this blog and podcast. It’s been awhile. This is a small post with a simple message.
If you’ve caught some of my Twitter and Instagram posts, there have been stirrings and bits of movement in the darkness of the recording studio, reports of the faint sounds of dice rolling, distant laughter, and a shadowy voice you can barely hear whispering, “Check one, Check two. Check. Check”
Yes, as you may have guessed, the podcast will be back very soon! There are numerous changes inbound and I’ve spent much of the past few months working with those changes and putting something brand new together for the show. I did make the mistake of not mentioning more things here and using this as a vehicle for updates and information. Rest assured that, as we move forward, that mistake is corrected.
As to the long break? Well, that will be addressed in time. In the long run, I think the downtime has served it’s purpose, like how cold and winter is important after planting bulbs. It produces some pretty colorful results in the end and I’m hoping that you enjoy what has been planted.
More to come next week and the weeks to come. I can’t wait to share the new show with you!
Follow the link above if you’re not sure what I’m talking about here. The short version? I’m using Rory Story Cubes to create a fantasy map at random.
Here is a detailed write-up of the process I used to generate a map with 7 rolls. I used all three of my Story Cubes sets and simply grabbed the cubes randomly from the pile. The amount varied on each roll from 8 to 3 Cubes.
I started with a blank piece of watercolor paper. I use the thicker paper for mapping in case I want to lay some watercolors down on a later date. You should use whatever you like or have laying around. (My first test runs were on lined notebook paper!) For this run, I threw in two coastlines on the Eastern and Western sides of the map and then started rolling Cubes!
My first round was with 6 Cubes. After the roll, only 4 were still on the paper. I rolled, from left to right, a tower, a city or a temple, a set of scales and a pot of gold.
I’ve enjoyed using Rory’s Story Cubes for all kinds of inspiration for my RPG and storytelling games. Typically, I’ve used them to help me with adventure design and NPCs. I’ve also used them for my solo RPG projects as well. I currently own the Original set as well as Voyages and Actions and they are worth having in your GM toolbox.
I love coming up with ways to randomly generate adventures, NPC’s, locations, etc. This weekend I had the fun idea to use the Story Cubes to randomly generate a fantasy map. I ran a test run just to see if my idea was valid and was thrilled with the results. So, in order to better illustrate how to do this I decided to build a map entirely from scratch and show you how to do it.
First off, you will need to pick up a set of Rory’s Story Cubes. They can be found online and at department stores like Target and Walmart. They are a set of 9 dice with graphical images on them.
Next get a blank sheet of paper which will be your map, a pencil, a good eraser, and a notebook or scrap paper. You might also want some fabric like a towel or maybe do the rolls on a carpeted floor to keep the dice from bouncing too badly. I did the example below on a hardwood coffee table and, as you will see, everything worked out just fine!
Holidays help provide us with important breaks, excuses to party, to meet up with old friends and family as well as offering times of reflection and peace. More so, the mid-winter season is a special time since it’s the time of year where a host of different holidays combine to create a juggernaut of a holiday season. I enjoy diving down into the histories, traditions and folklore surrounding it. From the ancient party of Saturnalia, to the Irish horse skulls of Mari Lwyd to the more modern Kwanzaa, it’s always a fun ride.
This year, it got me thinking about fantasy worldbuilding and the importance of festivals and holidays in a game world for a gamemaster. In table top roleplaying, holidays can often be treated as throw-away events for a game, typically being used as a backdrop for a one-shot game. However, I think holidays and festivals can serve the campaign, and a game’s host, by providing more depth to the game world with not only the build up towards a holiday but the holiday itself.
If, as the game host, you already have a calendar for your world then your set. If you don’t have a calendar it’s not necessary but it does help to give the players a sense of time. In the game world, the cycle of annual holidays can help a community or society to understand the flow of the year. Holidays, festivals and feasts are like sign posts letting communities plan a planting season, a harvest season, special moments of import to be celebrated, etc.
Though I’m mainly going to talk about a fantasy setting this can serve just as well in science fiction as well. We are going to look at five components to review for inspiration in crafting a holiday for your game; Culture, Survival, Celestial Events, and Themes. At the end of the post, I’ll present a sample holiday made up with these components.
Like most D&D geeks from the early 80’s, my first campaign was set in the first world released for the game, Greyhawk. After a few campaigns here and there, imagination called to me. I was yearning for a new place to build adventures and my next love, Forgotten Realms, had yet to be published. I think it happens to most gamemasters in time. I wanted something to call my very own so I cast off from the shores of Greyhawk and did what any self-respecting, geek gamemaster would do – I started my own game world.
The concept from my adolescent brain? A large, sparsely populated island filled with more monsters then civilization. It was to be a savage place where life was cheap except for small pockets of civilization along the coast. With so much danger, why would anyone go there? This was easy enough. Legends of an ancient civilization buried within the mountainous crags, vast halls of undiscovered wealth, knowledge and magical secrets, of course.
I called the island Ballushiam, the Lost Island
I grabbed a ballpoint pen, some grid paper and got to work. I scribbled rivers and mountains. I designed where different factions were located with crayon and marker. I drew out different territories and gave them horrible names. I drew my first compass rose. I worked on the project for several weeks.
And, of course, this was as far as it got. Sadly, it never got played. I hung on to my maps and my notes because I kept telling myself, “One day, monster island… one day…”
Years passed and the island held true to it’s name. Games came and went until a few years ago I was purging through things, going through boxes of older game material. I was getting back to only the simple, basic things I wanted to keep. Amidst the crumpled character sheets, half-drawn maps, odd sketches, old GM notes and brittle graph paper I came across an old, green school folder. I recognized it from my high school days. Forgetting what was placed within I opened it carefully and found, to my joy, Ballushiam, the lost island! All that was left from the numerous notes and sketches were two gaudy maps with little information. Yet, looking at them brought back all the memories, all the ideas.
Once again the lost island had been found and I had a decision to make. I was cleaning things out. I’d not done anything with it for decades. Why keep it? Would I keep it or did it just need to go into the trash after taking a few pictures for keepsakes?
Of course, I kept it. What kind of gamer would I be if I tossed out the very first horribly drawn world maps I ever created?
So, it went back in the worn green folder and stored with other memorabilia like my first dungeon, my first monster, and some old character sheets. Once again, the island sank back down under the waves of attention.
But, all was not lost. Recently, as I went looking for the GenCon XVI booklets I photographed for my previous post, the lost island rose again. When I found it, I made an important decision.
If I didn’t use it immediately and do something with it then I would toss it and move on.
Which, of course, means…
It’s time to explore the lost island of Ballushiam!
One of the ideas I had for this blog was to produce, from the ground up, a fantasy game world that could be free and open for everyone. This is exactly what I want to do with Ballushiam. It has, sadly, been unattended for decades but I’m breathing life into it and will be sharing the island with you. I’ll be doing the heavy lifting, of course, but I’ll be listening to comments and thoughts that come up on future posts. As things grow, you, as reader, will have chances to effect how aspects change and grow on the island in various ways. I want it to be a living, breathing island.
First steps will be getting the map done or, at least, part of the map. I love doing write-ups and background history pieces as well so these will be posted here too. Most of the pieces will not be to any specific game system but I may give some hints and examples how they might, for instance, into Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, FATE core, etc. Everything will go under the tag of “Ballushiam” and, if it gets hefty enough, I will give it it’s own page and cross-link everything as needed.