Tag Archives: Campaign Diary

Dentium – Campaign Crucible

Download “Dentium – Campaign Crucible”
In this episode the guys have another campaign crucible, and this one features some difficult ingredients! (58min)

Things you may be interested in:

City of Mist


Monocle Society


NPC Cast NPC Cast patreonbutton NPC Cast SMASN

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Star Wars Wrap-Up

My Star Wars game, which I’ve written about many times, finally wrapped up, with my heroes having freed a dangerous Moff as the general they needed to lead the war effort against an unfrozen Sith-out-of-time who was conquering the galaxy and proclaiming himself “The Returned God”

Since my players are the best players, I created a little video for them to check out of their adventures afterwards. I asked each of them for narration; some got back to me, and I used their text, others I filled in the blanks based on their characters.

I hope you enjoy it and it gives you a few ideas for how to wrap-up your games at home.

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TPK Primer: The City of Egress

City of Egress Map

This TPK is named for Bruciare, the crowning jewel of the nation of Contarini, it provides a gateway to the sunless sea.  It is a city of art and innovation, where inventors and creators toil away in great contests to win renown for their patron nobles. Those nobles are equally tied up in a constant power struggle to be The First House and create policy for the city, and embroiled in the far reaching conspiracies that keep Bruciare entrenched in the supernatural currents that bubble and churn in the depths of the city.  

It is an important era for Bruciare, as a safe and navigable path has been charted across the Sunless Sea that was once thought endless.  On the other side lies a mysterious land, and now the nobles have a new contest to be embroiled in: exploring and claiming this new land, which for now remains unnamed.  The second house, house Toritzi sees this as a way to claim the coveted first spot, and house Embroli now races to defend its hold.  Each house has began to prep a powerful fleet for their expedition.  House Ytroo, recently descended from second to third seat, finds itself with no ships following a cunning economic maneuver from house Toritizi.  Even lesser houses nip on their coveted position.

This has drawn away attention from the budding supernatural powers that lie hidden beneath the shining facade of the city, which has long considered the dark arts as forbidden and supernatural, something that the savages of other nations partake in.  Even now there are stories of golems and clockwork men roaming the streets of the city at night, wandering the maze of canals seeking something…

But Contarini is not the only nation seeking something from the lands across The Sunless Sea.  Her neighbor to the north Prahovia, has begun to prepare a journey with its own Ghost Fleet, a dozen galleons painted white that seem to drift across the ocean at supernatural speed.  Prahovia’s King, Rurick Vost, rumored to be immortal, even helms a ship in the fleet himself.

Meanwhile Arthfeal, the mysterious lands on the other side of The Shadewood, have decided to use this opportunity to assess Contarini’s strength.  Spies of all sorts have journeyed south through the wood, using their magicks of illusion and charm to worm their way into Bruciarian High Society.  Even former exiles hope to earn redemption by spying for The Emerald Nation.


Muka Xofed – An exiled soldier of Arthfeal, who always puts his own survival at first priority, he schemes to find a way to infiltrate Contarini’s expeditions and return the intelligence gained as leverage to end his exile.

Mighug Ytroo – The second son of House Ytroo, Mighug is desperately searching for a ship to get across the Sunless Sea. Given his house’s reputation as a house of outsiders and foreigners has bubbled up again with their loss of status, Mighug seeks revenge on house Toritzi.  At the same time he must keep his dark arts hidden, or else further expose his family to ridicule.

Set Igew – Even Set himself doesn’t understand his background.  He remembers nothing from before his 18th year.  He practices a magical art that allows him to infuse the inanimate with life, but at the cost of a memory or two.  It stands to reason that at some point he merely gave too much, but the consequences of that are unknown.  Now he gets by on his wits and connections, which have told him of a ship left practically unguarded.

Stausk Wioslea – Stausk hails from Prahovia originally, where a ghost’s curse has given his life purpose. While the curse provides him some benefits, he searches for ways to undo what has befallen him, though his curiosity often distracts him.  Now he finds himself entangled in the supernatural underbelly of Bruciare, where the abilities of a particular nobleman have drawn his attention.

The first episode of The City of Egress will be streamed this coming Friday, September 11th at 7:30PM PST.  You will be able to find episodes on Youtube and in audio form on our Podcast feed shortly after.

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Edge of the Empire: Don’t Cross a Trandoshan

After the adventures last week that took my players to a lost Sith battleship in Bothan space, they escaped with no loot but at least mostly intact, so they wanted to take a breather. No set plans, so they headed to Tatooine to get some time off.

Mos Eisley  After touching down in Mos Eisley, their first goal was to get some bacta for the Wookiee who has 4 critical hits on him (don’t go into lightsaber range with a Sith General, kids!). Tatooine, however, isn’t some bacta-rich inner rim world. The players secured a bacta tank, but they weren’t able to find enough sources to fill it. A trip to the mid-rim or further core-ward should get them in touch with the bacta cartel dealer needed to fill it. I could have hand-waved “yes, give me 4000 credits and you can have a bacta tank like it says it costs in the book,” but instead I made them go to the Imperial garrison (tricky, since two of them are wanted by the Empire), and work with the bored Imp functionary to “liberate” their bacta tank from the base.

Second, they wanted guns.

A trip to Wuher’s famous cantina, with Figrin D’an and Modal Nodes tootling along on their Omni Boxes led to the players finding a gun runner lounging in the corner. I didn’t intend to have a gun-buying experience in this game, but the players were looking for guns, and finding a gun runner was more interesting than the players not finding one, so they befriended the Trandoshan gun runner Jem Mavr.Jem Mavr

After spending a LOT of money on his increased rates (though less than his original, quoted prices when he considered them rubes), Jem invited the players out to his lodge in the Jundland Wastes (because I was having fun saying sibilant s’s since Jem was a Trandoshan so of courssssse all his sssss’s were sssssstretched out) to shoot targets. When they arrived, he showed off his wall of the really cool guns, including a Bowcaster. Our Duros pilot (with 1 strength)’s lidless solid-red eyes went wide when he saw it and demanded the chance to fire it. Jem agreed, and when the Duros rolled a despair when shooting at a target, he got blown backwards off his feet and bent the arm of the bowcaster. Jem was Not Happy.

The Wookiee, who had been convalescing in the medical bay of the Elegant Knave, the party’s Ghtroc 720 light freighter, was roused from his rest by the sound of the party, along with Jem and his crew, arriving on board in the docking bay, demanding the Wookiee fix the weapon.

Since the Wookiee’s obligation (his dedication to his mother) had been rolled that session, I declared as the bowcaster was set down on his work bench, he notices that the hilt is covered in his family’s runes. When he mentions them, Jem explains that he had to enslave a lot of Wookiees to get that weapon from them (Trandoshans are noted Wookiee slavers, having evolved in the same star system). The Wookiee of course swings the bowcaster cracking Jem across the mouth, and combat begins!

It’s then that the Duros reveals the Sith Lightsaber he took off the Sith General they took out last game, and when the Captain sees Jem’s reaction, he realizes that none of Jem’s crew can leave the Elegant Knave alive. After a frenzied firefight, the crew takes the bodies of Jem and his gang, along with their Ubrikkan landspeeder and their swoop bikes back to his ranch in the Jundland Wastes, and dumped them off then tossed the Sith lightsaber and a Thermal Detonator (that they had just purchased) into the lodge and took off, ensuring that nobody knows that they had interacted with Sith as they took off from Tatooine with some fancy new toys, while also leaving them lighter in the wallets and still on the hunt for much-needed bacta.

Jundland Wastes

Originally, I had no plans for the evening other than “shopping session,” but between a timely Despair coming up and lucking into picking ‘Tradoshan’ as the race for the gun runner from the æther, it turned into a great session with lots of character growth, new toys for the players and laughs and smiles all night. Share your best “things turned out better than expected” stories from when you had to wing it with zero prep on our Facebook page.

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Star Wars Props

[This post is a companion to episode 113 of NPC Cast, titled “Edge of the Empire”]

Download NPC Cast Episode 113 – Edge of the Empire

In acting (particularly stage acting) there’s something called ‘business.’ Business is a little thing or action an actor has to fill space when they aren’t currently speaking or doing something. Rolling a half-dollar over their knuckles, smoking a cigarette or cleaning their glasses are great examples. I love having that in my games as well, giving the players something to interact with even when they aren’t currently rolling dice or interacting with an NPC. The easiest way to get that is props.

Very early on in my Edge of the Empire campaign I decided I wanted money to matter, down to about the 25 credit mark. But rather than have pencil erasers wear their way through the corner of a character sheet, I decided to do something a little different – actually make galactic credits! I started by photoshopping up the credit symbols, using the SF Distant Galaxys font. Then I reversed the image in GIMP and had it printed on plastic transparency sheets.

How to Counterfeit Credsticks

Imperial Credits spend better than gold pieces

I then went to a craft store and got some spray glue and some reflective scrapbooking cardstock. A quick trip outside (safety first when dealing with aerosols, kids!) and glued the transparencies to the cardstock, with the glue and ink both on the “inside,” so the cover is clear. Scissors get everything sliced into tiny sticks and now when they dock, they actually have to hand over 50-100 credits (or use Negotiate to haggle that down to 25). Total cost to make these was about $8 (plus the cost of spray glue, but that stuff is useful so you should have it anyway)

I also used a similar process along with manipulating an image of a Star Wars datapad to create the infochant pipeline. Before each session, I can use a wet-erase marker to fill in juicy information (or worthless information) as a world-building exercise, and give them a heads-up on what’s happening in the Star Wars galaxy at large. If I want there to be a story or want to not immediately give up valuable info, I can attach a roll to getting it. These sorts of throwaway bits can go a long way to making players feel like they’re actually smugglers hustling to fill up their hold with supplies, and going to the location that they feel they have the best chance of unloading them at a profit.

I didn't have anything planned in Parsec 5, just making stuff up

Click for very large version of the Padd

Speaking of supplies, I grabbed a fillable-form PDF of a Ship sheet from the Fantasy Flight Games community and completed the parts that were unlikely to change, then had it laminated. The crew has their own wet-erase marker to track things like crits, damage, cargo and upgrades. For 60¢ I have something that will stand up to the abuse of the DM’s bag, and is easily findable in the pile of papers every DM has with them all the time to hand out to the players.

They still haven't fixed their busted landing gear.

Laminated for your protection

I hope these ideas will inspire you to create your own props to give your world just a little more verisimilitude, and to give your players a little more business to interact with at the table. Happy gaming!

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Campaign Diary: Ark, the Eternal Refuge – Conversion.

by NPC Aaron

Hello again and welcome to my campaign diary that I post every week here on npccast.com.  Last week we talked about making your campaigns epic from the ground up and this week I would have loved to talk about my campaign further but last week real life got in the way and we had to go a week without playing.  During that time though, something amazing happened: I got my copy of 13th Age.


Now I am not here to say that 13th Age is a better game than Pathfinder.  Some people like things about game systems that I think are flaws and vice versa, but I have been excited to get my physical copy of 13th Age for some time and I like the game system better.  Unfortunately I also REALLY like the plot of our Pathfinder game so far.  This left me with a dilemma, but I quickly realized that both were medieval Fantasy games and that I could just port over the characters and we could play the same campaign in a new system.

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Campaign Diary: Ark, The Eternal Refuge – Epicness

by NPC Aaron

Last week we talked about building interesting encounters.  This week we’re going to increase the scope and talk about building a campaign that feels truly epic.  But first we need to talk about the general goal of that type of campaign.


What Makes A Campaign Epic?


When building a campaign about heroes we often want to capture a certain feel.  We look to movies and video games and we want the climax of our campaign to feel like they do.  We want all the characters to be truly invested in defeating the big villain and we want the encounter to have unprecedented gravitas.  There are some campaigns where this type of end is not appropriate, but a lot of heroic fantasy and sci-fi campaigns are going to strive for this.  We want the feeling of a summer blockbuster or a Final Fantasy style game at the end.


The key to this is that the scope of the game needs to be big.  The journey to the epic climax needs to be long and full of twists and smaller conflicts that cause the player characters to be invested in that final showdown.  Creating that through traditional storytelling is difficult, but doing it with a shared narrative like a roleplaying game is nearly impossible.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying though and I thought I should share the experience I’ve learned from my own efforts.

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Campaign Diary: Ark, The Eternal Refuge – Bad Guy Goals

By NPC Aaron

Today will be a quick one due to time constraints but I really wanted to talk about something simple that will help any sort of action-heavy game.  In our last session Del’s character Jon convinced the party to head into Blackgate, the domain of his former vampire master, to save his parents.  After sneaking over the wall, the session was devoted almost entirely to that single encounter, but it didn’t seem to drag horribly so I thought I’d go over how to make that work.

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Campaign Diary: Ark, the Eternal Refuge – Upside

by NPC Aaron

I apologize for my absence the last couple of weeks.  I was sick and then had a lot to deal with. Regardless, we are pressing on and I am going to do my best to have something written up every Monday.

Last time we left the campaign with our heroes having endured some pretty heavy losses.  One character’s home was burned to the ground, and another’s ex-wife was murdered.  The characters had decided to hole up in a church basement along with the two elven children they had rescued.  At the end of the last session they had decided to stop letting things happen to them and planned to take on boss Qarl and the Qarl Syndicate. Continue reading

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Campaign Diary: Ark, the Eternal Refuge – Causality

By NPC Aaron

Last time we talked about my failure at GMing by email, and also about how to handle hidden information in a campaign.  This week I will go over what happened in our latest session, and the planning I did for it.

The Goal

One thing I wanted for this game, was to create the feeling of the players that they are at the center of the action in the city.  I wanted them to be able to see the gears of the campaign world churning around them, while knowing that no one specific machine was entirely on their side, or entirely against them.  My idea of how to accomplish this goal was to introduce factions.  Previously I had introduced the Qarl gang, as well as hinted at The Harvesters who work for Shindrogon, the master of Del’s character Jon Farrier.  This game I wanted to add one more organization to the mix, as well as hint at others.  I also wanted to start weaving in the prophecies we came up with from the character creation session. Continue reading

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Campaign Diary: Ark, The Eternal Refuge – Hidden Info

By NPC Aaron

I apologize for the lack of an article last week.  I will try to prevent that from happening in the future. The email portion of my campaign did not go as well as I had hoped, and I was left with very little to write about.  This was nobody’s fault but my own, but it did serve to remind me of a valuable GM lesson, and I’ll start today’s article with that. Afterwards, I’ll explain some ways you can best utilize hidden information in your games.

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Campaign Diary: Ark, The Eternal Refuge – The Hook

by NPC Aaron

Last week we talked about character creation and world-building.  We fleshed out character concepts and the parts of the cities they came from.  That was the easy part.  Now we move on to the first session, which is honestly the hardest part.  The first session is like a first impression, you only get to make it once.  If your players don’t buy in for the first session then its going to be hard to get them to buy in at all.

Getting Your Players To Care

Your players need to have something in common.  They can already be part of a formed organization, they can have a mutual ally bring them together for a task, or they can be forced to go through some ordeal together.  I usually go with the third option for my games because then I can give the players as much freedom in character creation as possible since my games are more open world sandboxes than predestined stories.

Looking over last week, our character’s only common thread is that they all hang out at Eaton’s Alehouse.  This was by design so that I could bring them together by threatening it.  I came up with a small adventure hook to capitalize on this.  I decided that a crime lord in a neighboring district was having trouble with his competition and had decided to try to move his protection racquet to the peaceful neighborhood of Greenstreets.

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Campaign Diary: Ark, The Eternal Refuge – The Beginning

by NPC Aaron.

Welcome readers! This is the first edition of a new article here on NPCcast.com detailing the campaign that we play with our group.  My hope is to both provide you with some insight on how I approach running a game and also allow you to see a story unfold and characters evolve.  This week I am going to detail the process I went through devising the premise and setting of the game, the world-building that we did in the first session, and the type of characters that the players have made for the setting. Continue reading

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