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650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2014 21:49:33
While you can't beat the price, there are not 650 useful seeds, but more like half of that, maybe a fourth of that if you're looking for outright adventure seeds rather than a quick encounter in a city. The compiler should have been more ruthless in cutting out bad seeds.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
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650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
by Paul a. M. T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2014 23:03:37
You're tired, you've had a hard week, and your gamers are going to be over in 30 minutes! Been there, done that? Guess what! This just be your lucky night! This book contains enough good ideas and just enough information to CYA without disrupting your campaign by bringing in extra stuff you don't need. It is also handy to have around when your gamers do the unexpected (yeah, like you never caught caught completely off guard!) and all of your prep work for the night's adventure just went out the window. It is written in the age of Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons 4.whatever but it is still generic enough that I have no trouble using it in my Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Campaign. (Yeah, that's right, AD&D! I'm 50 and still gaming with college kids.) I can't believe these guys are giving this thing away for free! Grab it while you can! I mean it! Now!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
by Matt A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2013 15:08:27
I'm sorry, I know it's free, but "A bunch of hombres wander around looking for a waffle-house” is not an adventure hook.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
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650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
by Joshua P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/24/2013 21:27:16
This was very helpful. I sometimes find myself, as a GM, boggled by my players actions and in need of a method to bring them back to the main story-line without pulling a "You can't do that". This has given me much more freedom to let them go off track and still bring them back again.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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GM Mastery: Inns & Taverns Essentials
by Roger N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/14/2013 14:20:35
I purchased this thinking i would get a lot more use from it than I actually have. There is no denying it is well written and packed full of really useful stuff, however as a DM/Gamer of 30 years I tend to ad lib a lot of what this book is telling me about. I guess im perhaps not the target demographic. I think for new DMs etc this book could be invaluable just sadly not for me.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
GM Mastery: Inns & Taverns Essentials
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650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
by Steve D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2013 13:17:51
Very useful tool. My group loved the added texture. And you can't beat the price.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
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100 Roadside Encounter Ideas
by tyrion m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/15/2013 06:05:23
Very good and exactly what it says on the cover, a series of ideas for encounters that your players might have while traveling.
Very few are completely ordinary such as a creature attacking a party, most are flavorful and at the very least can add an interesting detail to your party travels("A knight bearing the crest of a local lord is found rusted into his armour, in an uncomfortable position, by the side of the road.") and most can be used as inspiration for quests of various length if the GM is willing to make an effort(for example "A cave next to a mountain trail has a merry fire crackling and a pot of stew bubbling away, but no sign of occupants." is a fairly straightforward one while others might make for neat stories with a bit more effort "The group arrives late at night at a tiny village straddling the road. They secure accommodation and food from the friendly locals and fall asleep. In the morning the village is empty and ruined, as if abandoned years ago.")
Nothing to complain about really especially at this price, thanks to the good people who offered it up for free.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
100 Roadside Encounter Ideas
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650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
by Michael I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/13/2013 14:03:40
Unlike many of the other freebies, this one has pages and pages of hooks. It is impossible for your group to have ever used all of these. They are higher quality than most as well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
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650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
by Robert A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/01/2013 05:54:09
Just picked this up and after only a brief skim through, I've already found a good number of ideas to spark off interesting thoughts about adventures and stories that could follow on. Even if you don't like them all, you are likely to find plenty here that you could use yourself.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
by Brian H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/22/2013 13:37:19
I gotta say this is a pretty good book for a freebie. There are tons of seeds and hooks for encounters in an urban/city environment that can be used to create adventures for your party or If they do something familiar/unexpected while in a city you could use one of these to hook them into an adventure willy nilly. Inside the pdf there is also a link to his website which has a seed generator of all of these so if you don't want to sort through the book you can pull up the generator online and go from there in a jiffy. I really liked this one.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
by Brett B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2013 19:33:59
Nice little down and dirty pick-me-up for those moments when your GM brain fails to produce the kind of ideas you're known for. Whether you need a nudge or kick in the right direction...these hints and story bumps are nicely written and creative. Good stuff!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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GM Mastery: Holiday Essentials
by Bruce L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/22/2012 10:56:33
This is an in-depth book covering the generation of local, and national, holidays, to spice up your campaign world. If you follow the directions, and develop holidays for your campaign world, the breadth, and depth, of your imaginary world will expand, dramatically. This product is for those GM's, and players, who really enjoy the role playing aspect of their gaming. If you are into hack-n-slash, move on.

For those who want to make their game world more believable, who want to expand the background of their game world's communities, this book is highly recommended. It covers the why's of holidays, what they are, why they are, and who should celebrate them. It is not aimed at background fluff -- holidays, can be used as springboards for adventures. One example, is that for a particular holiday, a rare herb, or meat, might be necessary. Perhaps an adventure can be designed around acquiring the needed item for the celebration; or, perhaps, all of the needed items for the holiday have been stolen, or maybe even ransomed. The importance of the holiday can be from ho-hum, to critical. It really can be quite useful, if the GM is willing to develop the details, using this book as a guide.

I have been a GM since 1980. I found this book highly useful, and worth my investment, in both time, and money. It is not recommended for beginning GM's. Your experience with this item, and its proposals, may vary. ;-) Cheers!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM Mastery: Holiday Essentials
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GM Mastery: NPC Essentials
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/09/2012 00:03:35
"What is my motivation?"

What may be a cliche in acting is a cornerstone in roleplaying an NPC. Generating the stats is the easy part -- How did he become the way he is? Why does he interact with the PCs? What gets him out of bed each morning???

The first book in RPGObject's GMMastery series is "NPC Essentials", by Johnn Four, of Dragon magazine and the Roleplaying Tips Weekly website (www.roleplayingtips.com). NPC Essentials is a 83-page PDF document, with about 50 pages of design text, 10 pages of mini-adventure, and 20 pages of charts and worksheets, for $8.95. Essentially, it's a planning manual for GMs to design their NPCs. Story writers may find it useful as will players creating backgrounds for the PCs. Except for stat blocks of the mini-adventure, the document may be used for **any** roleplaying system. Even new GMs (and lazy ones) can just focus one or two ideas at a time and improve their techniques.

Besides the introduction, the text itself is divided into four chapters:
* NPC Design
* NPC Role Playing
* Campaign Management
* NPC Archetypes
* Mini-Adventure
* Charts, Tables, And Sheets
NPC Design

This chapter recognizes that GMs only have so much time to plan and design characters. It begins by dividing up various NPC elements into the Four Planning Groups: Core NPC, Core Roleplaying, Detailed Roleplaying, and Combat. You'll use one or more of them depending on the NPC's Story Role. Each NPC Story Role (from Villains and Rivals to Remote NPCs and even Items!) has a description, list of Planning Groups to use in its design, Estimated Planning Time, and Design Methods. Through an **organized** series of instructions, questions, and examples, this chapter guides the GM in creating a character. Personally, I found the amount of preparation work quite dauting (take a deep cleansing breath), although a GM could step back and quite easily only prepare one or two NPCs.

NPC Role Playing

This chapter opens with a philosophy of scenes with NPCs: Portray the scene as if "The PCs have entered the NPC's life, not vice-versa". The chapter then suggestions on how to make the NPC most effective in advancing the storyline. The rest is devoted towards techniques for GMs to use during roleplaying: Acting, Voice, Parley strategies, NPC-to-NPC discussion, Escape routes for NPCs, and Roleplaying during combat. Again, quite a bit of advice is given, and a GM can just focus on one or two techniques in his next session.

Campaign Management

While NPC Design focuses on the individual NPC, NPCs do not stand alone in a campaign, and a GM certainly has to keep track of more than one NPC! This chapter ties the NPC to the campaign and suggests how to keep track of a cast of non-player characters:

* Organizing NPCs: Good organization prevents missing information and mistakes in play. This section includes suggestions for physically storing NPC information (from binders to business cards), and what NPC information to update between sessions.

* Introducing NPCs: The most lasting impression on a party is the introduction. This section gives examples of how to best introduce an NPC, through foreshadowing techniques, what makes the NPC unique, and surprises to spring on the characters.

* When PC and NPC power levels differ: Tired of pitting your 20th level wizard against invisible magic-proof ninjas? Want to throw more than goblins and kobolds at low-level characters? This section provides roleplaying tactics for challenging PCs with lower-level NPCs, and vice-versa (including tips for GMs with players who assume they can fight everyone they encounter!).

* Tying NPCs to your campaign: This section explains how to reflect your world -- not to mention plot hooks and critical story information -- through NPCs. Is the NPC a trendsetter, or a trendfollower? (Did you, as a GM, even think of distinguishing your NPC this way?) I found the suggestions on how to avoid the "critical NPC the PCs must meet but fail to" trap to be particularly useful.

* Creating dynamic NPCs: NPCs and even regions die and change. This section, which uses an event chart in the back of the book, tells you how to change NPCs without it becoming too much work. The event chart might be fun for PCs to use, as well.

* Character cast creation in six steps: This section is a step-by-step guide in creating, prioritizing, and developing your NPCs. Nice to see that one step is devoted towards budgeting your time!

NPC Archetypes

NPC Design covered standard NPC story roles, NPC Archetypes cover the standard NPC professions (mostly city) in an adventure: Craftsmen, Upper Nobility, Soldier, Beggars, and so on. Besides plot hooks, each archetype is given a short background discussion to help flesh him out. For example, a craftsman might be an employee or an owner. Assigning him a role in the business results in a completely different personality, and thus a different roleplaying interaction with the party. Few artists and entertainers can make a living at their craft. What will the surprise of finding out the entertainer's full-time job affect the players? With this chapter alone, the GM can turn some routine stereotypes into opportunities for enjoyable roleplaying.

Mini-Adventure

The next chapter is a 10-page investigation / social-driven mini-adventure. For characters of 3rd-5th level, this adventure is meant to tie in what the GM has learned from the previous chapters. Personally, I wished this chapter discussed more of how the techniques of the book created the adventure, rather than the final adventure itself. (The adventure does contain a chart of what certain people in the village know about important NPCs; use this as an example in your own adventures). The adventure centers around some village council shenanegans, a definite change of pace from the generic helpless towns seen in most publications. It's one thing if the PCs save the helpless town from the bad guys. It may be an interesting other situation if the town is a little more political than helpless...!

Charts, Tables, And Sheets

This section contains 20 pages of charts and record sheets to help the GM efficiently plan his NPCs; brainstorm names, background, appearances, traits, quirks, and secrets; create events for NPCs (see Campaign Management); and record this information. (There are 100 Secrets, 100 Events, 200 Quirks, 300 Traits, and even more entries for Names!) PCs will definitely find these charts and worksheets useful in thinking up a background for their own characters. You'll probably want to print out the record sheets and fill some out as you read the book. Unfortunately, these sheets cannot be used electronically (ie. you can't type the information in for electronic storage).

PDF or hardcopy?

Personally, I wish this book were hardcopy, with web support of record sheet downloads. But it's still written as a book rather than, say, a series of reference sheets. After trying to read it onscreen, I gave up and printed out all 80 pages. The only pages that really benefit from the electronic format are the record sheets (since you can print any number of them crisply from your printer instead of copying them at Kinko's). Otherwise, the layout is done very well, with minimal, but effective use of color (art, maps, and chapter headings). The PDF document uses bookmarks and you can use copy and paste. The book does not have an index.

Other comments

To some extent, the document assumes you're designing your own overall adventure and you will do this work before play. It would have been nice to add suggestions how to analyze NPCs in published adventures so you're not caught flat-footed (to steal a term) when the players throw a roleplaying wrench which the adventure didn't prepare for. The advice doesn't directly address (lazy) GMs who prefer to develop their characters between sessions as they play the game ("the characters write themselves" sorta thing). What with most short adventures (such as those in Dungeon magazine) being of the "save the helpless villagers" variety, I personally would like to have seen suggestions on developing NPCs to tie together for similar but unrelated adventures (eg. the head honcho villain who's responsible for these different groups of bad guys threatening different helpless towns).

Roleplayingtips.com

If nine dollars for some of the most thorough NPC planning advice I've seen in twenty-some years is too much, at least subscribe to Johnn Four's Roleplayingtips.com **free** weekly newsletter. Started two years ago, this newsletter is over 145 issues strong, with contributions by Johnn and numerous readers. Perhaps the only drawback is that archived articles are only sorted by date or title, as opposed to subject.

Conclusion

A good number of GMs create their own adventures, which means a good number of them should own this book. Even if your games are still nothing but dungeons and hackfests, you can certainly add some color to the helpless town elder, not to mention the evil boss villian (before the players chop him up). GMs who start with published adventures will still find this book useful for fleshing out NPCs. This book will also assist PCs who desire character backgrounds (all too often at the behest of their GM).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM Mastery: NPC Essentials
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650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/28/2012 19:06:01
This product delivers exactly what the title says, and it’s free! Even if you use only a fraction of the 650 encounter seeds, you’ve gotten your money’s worth!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
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650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks
by Margaret E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/11/2012 13:35:40
I think I've read 150 out of 650 so far, there are so many! The variety is excellent, and it seems to me that some of those "encounter" seeds could be the beginning of a different adventure, just fleshed out to be a full one, perhaps adding other seeds from this module. A lot of variety here!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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