Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Eureka (and a review)

I don't normally do reviews of game books but I'm making an exception for this one. Yes, the book is titled Eureka. Perhaps it's the kind of book you think it is. Either way, on with the show.

I recently purchased myself Eureka - 501 adventure plots to inspire game masters. To sum up this book in a single sentence it is a compilation of generic plots that can be slotted into a wide variety of campaigns either wholesale or piecemeal, Long description. The team at Gnome Stew has put their heads together to come up with 501 adventure plots based off the 36 dramatic situations. They have split these plots between fantasy, science fiction, and horror themes. Each plot is approximately half a page in length and fully generic to allow you to drop them into your game with minimal modification. But enough overview. Incoming wall o' text.

The book starts with a short section explaining how to use Eureka, how to adapt the plots to your games, how the book is organized, and a description of the tags on plots. This section is a must read if you're going to use Eureka on a regular basis. Adapting a generic plot is much easier if you take the suggestions given in this initial part of Eureka as it explains the parts you need to nudge to adapt for specific styles of campaigns. It also gives ideas on reusing plot ideas and changing them to different genres and settings. This is the part of the book that really made it come alive for me. The reskinning section specifically put my brain in the right train of thought to use this for my campaigns. For Game masters who are adept at working modules into their campaigns the genre and tagging sections may be all you need to get started using Eureka.

On to the meat. The adventure plots start with fantasy, meander through science fiction, and finish off with horror. Each plot is about half a page long and contains a strong structural overview for you to place in your campaign. Each plot fits under a specific dramatic situation. Each plot is tagged with a list at the end which give you an idea of what themes, genres, and even play styles the plot contains. Personally I found the "Combat heavy" tag very useful since my group tends to feel nothing has been accomplished if there isn't a fight.

Finally the book rounds out with an index of plots. Plots are indexed not only by name, but by the tags as well. This is the most brilliant part of the book. Need a plot that goes well with intrigue and politics? Look in the index for plots tagged with those. Need a quick plot for an exploration session? There's a tag for that too. Got no ideas for where to go next? Pick a tag and pick a random page.

Thoughts: This is a very useful book. Once I fully wrapped my head around the reskinning concept and stopped thinking of the plots with generic placeholders for things like "king" "mayor" "mother" "father" I had many many ideas how to use them in my own games. One thing I found was that I didn't have to take a plot wholesale. Sometimes even half of a plot was enough to inspire me or drop into part of a campaign. The one downside I see is that many of the plots have an implied power scale. This doesn't have a huge impact as the power scale is very wide especially if you switch the generic items, but running an "epic" game will require much more work than a game in the "heroic mortals" range. IE plots will be much harder to adapt to games that are running high powered fantasy or high powered superheroes. I noticed that in reading the plots I was challenged to think about my game differently. I realized that there are certain ruts I've been getting into plotwise. Eureka pushed on me to break out of those ruts and provided plots twists and ideas I'd not thought of using. This will definitely improve my game mastering.

One more time with feeling: If you run RPGs you should buy this book.

Art is cover art for Eureka
LooneyDM out

Friday, March 18, 2011


If you're going to steal, steal from the best. Twist it just right and your players won't notice they're playing through a classic tale. Or they might and figure out all the twists ahead of time. Either way many players are as crazy as Don Quixote.

Art found on stumbleupon (sadly don't remember exact artist)


Floret: (Sweet! 16)
Floret: (...Sweet 16)
Floret: (This means I get cake, right?)
Hawkeye: (delicious cake)
Sergio: (hooray for cake!)
Sergio (*bakes a cake*)
LooneyGM: (cake? certainly)
Hawkeye (it's got papa hawkeye's special spices in it)
LooneyGM: (a cake full of SNEAK ATTACK!)
Floret: (AUGH!)
Sergio: (so instead of a stripper jumping out, it's a rogue?)

Floret (I'm not sure how useful a poison rock would be)

LooneyGM: (You'll find out...)

Hawkeye: "Hey, Serge, how do you swing?"
Sergio: "well you sort of pump your legs back and forth"
Floret: "...What?"
Sergio: "and move your body weight so you go back and forth"


LooneyGM: "Why do you want him?"
Lyril: (Because he is a sexy, sexy beast that left my bedchamber without a second word.)

Floret: (I am the least sneakiest spy ever. Aw man.)

Lyril: (You're going to offer him your buns, aren't you?)
Sergio: (yes. yes I am.)

Lyril: ( I assumed he'd follow. What else can he do? )
Hawkeye (Well, I guess you can carry him)
Thallid (use the fat to float)

LooneyGM: Floret sees the Ilwuz attackers run around to look for the reason for the cannon failure but she is high and dry by that time
Floret (Well, wet more than dry)

Sergio: (Hawkeye in the blessed virgin?)
Hawkeye: (There's some irony here, y'know)
Sergio: (any tavern he goes into is unvirginized instantly)

dicechan --> "Floret rolls 2#d6 +6 Bodyguard Spider and gets 6, 6."
Floret (I have never rolled this well in my life. I'm scared.)
Sergio grumbles and finishes his milk
Sergio: "okay we can go upstairs"
LooneyGM: (aww they interrupted Sergio's cookie time)
Sergio: (cookie time is important!)
Floret: (Nothing can stop cookie time!)

New character introduced from same place as Sergio
Hawkeye: "How the hell did he get fat, and you didn't?!"
Hawkeye: "This is bloody bullshit, this is, you eat more than the rest of us put together!"
Sergio: "Well I'm also a blacksmith."
Hawkeye: "OH, yes, I've NEVER seen a fat blacksmith before..."

LooneyGM: She has the glazed over eyes of one under the effects of the merhorse. "The Mist Reaper shall return."
Hawkeye seems to have a genuinely jovial manner about him.
Hawkeye stands, stunned.
Floret: (That's the scary legendary pirate, right? Whose treasure we're hunting?)
LooneyGM: (Yes)
LooneyGM: The woman says no more and returns to her table.
Floret: (I've got this licked. I already know what we need to do.)
Floret: (Whatever ship we get, we name it the Mist Reaper)
Floret: (Prophecy circumvented!)

Sergio "I have another cookie here. Or would you prefer a scone? I think I have a scone..."
LooneyGM: (Sergio is going to give everyone diabetes)
Thallid: (except my guy which already has it)
Sergio: (I just want to spread happiness via baked goods!)

Thallid: (Thallid is at least 5 people)

Floret: (Let's just go find some kind of wooden structure with 'boat' written on the side and steal it)
LooneyGM: (Floret: I'm going to make the next inn you go to have the word "boat" in the title so you steal it and sail off in it)
Floret: (I'll do it)
Floret: (I'm THAT good of a sky sailor)

Sergio: (I already failed my perception check because I was like WHY IS EVERYONE ROLLING)

Floret: "There's some nasty pirate wandering around, certainly. No need to believe it's a legend or anything. We can probably avoid whoever it is."
Lyril: ( And, with that, Floret cursed the group and made the GM cackle with glee. )
Floret: (Hey, just because Floret has misplaced confidence doesn't mean I as a player do)
Floret: (Floret just figures, 'Well we're already dodging ONE crazy evil guy who wants us dead, what's another? Hell, they're probably the same guy')

LooneyDM out

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Shirt of Player Destruction

This particular poster comes with a story. Yes I do in fact roll twenties. But will all of my excellent rolling as Dice-Jesus, it only happens when I DM. As a player I'm not much for rolling high. Every now and again I'll have a session where I roll above average. It's when I DM that the crazy comes out. I drop 20s on monster saves and attack rolls like they're going out of style. Or in the case of a recent game, grapple checks. 4 20s and three engulfed players later I am no longer allowed to wear my "20s" shirt when I DM ever again.

Shirt image from Penny Arcade
LooneyDM out

Friday, March 11, 2011


Cats and their ability to climb are rather amazing. Not that my cats are any good at it. The best they do is the back of the sofa. This cat however has clearly rolled well on its climb check

Picture from WIN!
LooneyDM out

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I'm getting to play an illusionist in an upcoming game. The hardest part is going to be creating the illusions that aren't magical in nature. No, I'm not going to be taping up walls. Visual illusions don't work so well in the RP medium. Illusions like the illusion of control, illusion of power, etc. All those fun illusions.

LooneyDM out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ancient Gods

You know your players have done this. You bring in a quest giver of some sort who is definitely powerful and the first thing your players think of is how they can take their cool items. Even if they don't have any cool items. As the clarion cry goes: If it has stats we can kill it!

Art from here
LooneyDM out