Final Xsplit Layout for Storm and Sail Game

As you may know I’m preparing to run a pirate-style fantasy game using a version of the Fate rules that I have compiled, taking inspiration from several different sources. I’ve also been experimenting with the free version of Xsplit in an attempt to make the game more visual for those watching it and as a helpful aid to my players, I’m pretty happy with the layout I’ve now got and have uploaded a small video test of it (you can see this by clicking on the video link below).

Features I intend to use via Xsplit for this game:

  • Changeable backdrop images.
  • Gold coins as fate tokens that can be moved.
  • Screen capture of the players with their fate points below them and their characters name and aspects above them.
  • Overlay-able map of the New World.
  • I also have a second screen set up that can function as a whiteboard.

Cheats guide to making simple outline maps in Photoshop

Please note: There are some excellent and very professional cartographers out there producing great maps for games, this article is not designed to create a map to compete with them, it is for someone who wants to quickly put together a simple map that they can use during a RP campaign with minimal struggle.

Producing professional looking campaign maps can be very tricky, takes a lot of practice and time, however, if you’re just looking for a quick map that will enable you to get playing your game quickly then this guide should help you.

This article assumes you have access to Photoshop and basic ability to use it (although the principles should be transferable to other graphic programs like GIMP).

  1. Open a new screen
    Start up your graphics program and open a new image.1
  2. Colour in the water on your map
    Choose a colour to represent the water on you map and then fill the whole screen in that colour (you can switch to the fill option by pressing G on your keyboard in Photoshop). It’s generally best if you go for a mid-range blue colour.2
  3. Download some landmass brushes
    This is where you’ll really save a lot of time, instead of drawing your landmasses by hand or laboriously creating them using the Photoshop freehand tool, look online for a set of brushes that are ready made landmasses.I recommend land brushes by Bonvanello: http://bonvanello.deviantart.com/art/Land-Brushes-307837333

    Download the brush file to your computer, then select the brush tool (or press B in Photoshop).

    Click on the option to change your brush size and then on the small arrow at the side (as shown on the screenshot below).

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    Select load brushes and then navigate to where you saved the landmass brush file.
    If you scroll down the brushes available to you, you should now see the various island shapes available.

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  4. Create a new layer for the land
    You can do this by clicking on the add new layer button in Photoshop.6
  5. On the new layer put down landmasses in a different colour (I’m going to use white), re-sizing and rotating brushes until you’re happy with them7
  6. Making sure you still have your land layer selected, double click to the right of the layer name (as shown in the image below)8
  7. You will see the following menu appear9
  8. Select Outer Glow, this will create an area of colour around your landmasses, you can change the colour to a lighter blue than your sea and mess around with the different settingsThe settings I’ve used are shown below.

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    This creates the area of shallow water around the coasts of your landmasses.

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  9. So there you are a simple map ready for you to sketch on and fill in as your campaign progresses. If you want to give your landmasses a little more definition then you can use the Stroke effect to add an outline and the Inner Glow effect to give them a bit more of a 3D look.12
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    So there you are, using this method it’s possible to create a basic outline map for an RPG in about ten minutes or so (quicker once you’ve had a bit of practice).

     

Star Wars Adventures on the Outer Rim: Rebel Strike

It’s been a while since I’ve run any FFG Star Wars games (although I have played in some great one-shots and campaign run by such great GMs as Andre Martinez, Michael Lashambe and Ian Christiansen) so I’ve decided that it’s about time saddle, all the FFG Star Wars games are run are set in the same version of the Star Wars universe, loosely grouped together under the label Adventures on the Outer Rim. Reading through my old notes it occurred to me that we’d never really concluded the story of Sekas Proko, Berek Nur and the hidden Alderaanian stealth technology.

Confused? Let me explain.

In one of the first of these games that I ran the players recovered some lost Alderaanian stealth technology from the post-Death Star ruins of the once great planet, betrayed by one of his friends Sekas Proko the Quarren was able to smuggle the stealth-tech aboard a stolen Tie-Interceptor and use it to escape, unfortunately his ally the mercenary Berek Nur was captured by Imperial authorities and taken away.

In a later game I had Seka Proko turn up as a NPC, he was rescue by a group of Rebels hoping to bring the stealth-tech into the fight on the side of the Rebel Alliance.

Since then we’ve heard nothing of this storyline, I’ve been wanting to run another trilogy so I thought it’d be nice to resolve that storyline one way or the other, so I decided that Sekas would set the Rebels an ultimatum, rescue my friend from the Empire and I’ll give you the stealth technology.

You can find the trilogy outline by clicking on the link below:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CnZj5f-Ij44oxIiDfvTD5Ku0f9pXEbBvlxGhIcLBbB0/edit?usp=sharing

If you have any interest in Star Wars RPGs (particularly the FFG system) then check out the Tides of Change community on Facebook, a great group of players and GMs who run games set in various versions of the Star Wars universe, I’ve met some great people through the group and had some great games:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StarWarsTheTidesofChange/

Storm and Sail: Profession-based rules re-write

As those of you who read my blog will be aware I am currently preparing for a fantasy-Fate I am planning to start in a couple of weeks that will take place in a setting (very) loosely inspired by the Carribean in the 18th Century.

Up until recently I was writing the rules for the game and merrily looking at subsystems for scale, vehicles and all manner of things and slapping them into the Google Doc that I was writing, then it occurred to me that the more I was adding the less and less the game was resembling the elegant simplicity of the base Fate system and was turning into something far crunchier. Now that’s fine if you like crunchier rules (and if you do version 1 of the rules I wrote is here), but it’s not really my bag, one of the things I love about Fate is how versatile the basic rules system is and I generally prefer to stick closely to it. This left me with something of a dilemna, I wanted to have vehicles of different sizes and two magic systems, so how could I include them and keep the game simple.

It was at this point I turned to a game that has rapidly become my Fate crisis-bible, and that is Jadepunk by Re-Roll Productions; I ran a campaign of this game a short while ago (you can see the videos here) and thoroughly enjoyed it, I remain impressed by how thoroughly the designers managed to get across their vision of their gameworld whilst at the same time avoiding the trap of just adding a buttload of new rules to the Fate system. One of the things I loved about this system was that instead of skills the characters had ratings in six professions that they used for their various rolls, so I decided to use this as inspiration for my campaign.

I also decided to keep the names of the two magic systems but trim down the mechanics in the extreme, concentrating more on what they bought to the game fiction.

You can check out the documents I’m working on by clicking the links below:

I plan to continue updating them as necessary until the beginning of the game, the rules are mostly done but the background will be reworked and expanded at a later date.

Storm & Sails: Reference Document

Okay, so I’ve started the planning for my forthcoming Storm & Sails campaign, I’m currently working on a gazetteer style Google Doc that will contain setting information and character creation for the campaign so that my players can peruse it. Although it is not complete the document can be viewed here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rKn4veeiiylh69GJUmuL8Q_516A6ZEpVj04CngiUto8/edit?usp=sharing

I’ll be updating the document over the next couple of weeks, once it’s complete I’ll be turning it over to my players to get some feedback before we start getting into the serious business of making characters.

GM Tips: Sound Effects

GM Tips articles offer advice and ideas for gamesmasters to help hone their techniques and run their games, these lists are not exhaustive but provide some tips to point a GM in the right direction. Continue reading

New Campaign: Storm & Sail

As you may have read in my previous GM Tips: Campaign Fatigue post, I’m taking a break from running my 3Brothers D&D 5E campaign for a short while; during that break I’m going to be running a finite fantasy mini-campaign (probably about 10 sessions in length). To give me something different to get my teeth into whilst I’m having a break from my 3Brothers game I decided that this game should be more high-fantasy, and having always had a soft-spot for pirate stories and the like decided to make a nautically based campaign.

I plan to be posting updates over the next few weeks as the campaign ideas are fleshed out and then make as much of the setting as possible available as a PDF on this blog, so if you like Fate fantasy or the idea of swashing a buckle on the high seas stay tuned 🙂

In the meantime I’m adding images that are inspiring me for this campaign to my Pinterest account, you can check that out by clicking on the link below:

https://uk.pinterest.com/largejo/pirateage-of-sail-imagery/

GM Tips: Campaign Fatigue

GM Tips articles offer advice and ideas for gamesmasters to help hone their techniques and run their games, these lists are not exhaustive but provide some tips to point a GM in the right direction. Continue reading

Random Things: D&D 5E trinkets for a savage world

desert nightThese random things articles are designed as quick idea generators for time-pressed GMs who want to inject some additional details into their game, in this article we look at trinkets. Trinkets were one of my favourite things about character generation in D&D 5th Edition, each character starts with at least one, a small item or curiosity that has some odd property or something strange about it, it’s not a powerful magic item, just something interesting that could spur conversation and plot.

These items can of course be used in other RPGs.

The list of trinkets in the D&D 5E PHB is great, but it had to be for the standard style of fantasy world that a large number of D&D campaign games take place in, this is great and makes sense from a marketing stand-point, but over the years there have been some really compelling primitive worlds (Dark Sun, for example). Whilst it’s possible to adapt some standard trinkets, I wanted to offer a table themed more towards these savage worlds: Continue reading

3Brothers – Survivors Log

At the UK Games Expo 2016 I ran a one-shot game using the Dungeon World system, I set the game in a far corner of my home campaign world of Talamh, which is also the setting for the 3Brothers campaign. It’s my aim to use different games to build and fill in the details of the setting.

The video below is a brief description of the events that occurred written from the POV of one of the survivors.