All posts by Stargazer

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

One GM screen to rule them all

I have seen a lot GM screens in my roleplaying times and most of them were either not too sturdy or the information printed on the GM’s side was only partially useful. One excellent GM screen was the one released by WotC for the new D&D 4th Edition but there’s another GM screen that put’s them all to shame!

I am talking about the “Savage Worlds Customizable GM Screen” by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. For around 26 bucks you get a sturdy trifold vinyl screen that has 6 pockets that you can use to customize your screen. I currently use it with the Pirates of the Spanish Main insets that you get for free at the official site, but you can easily create your own insets. If you don’t mind to create your own insets, you can use this GM screen with any roleplaying game. And since it’s coated with vinyl it’s pretty resistance to the common dangers on the playing table like sticky softdrinks, candle wax and/or spilled snack food.
You can even use it to hit your players if they don’t behave. It’s the perfect tool for the GM. 🙂

Dungeoncraft: Religion on Asecia

In most medieval-fantasy campaigns the gods are very real, they grant spells to their most devout followers and they sometimes even walk the earth. In a world like Asecia, I want religion (especially organized religion) on of the major forces of the world but I don’t want gods meddle with the affairs of humans. Although there are several religions on Asecia the gods themselves never interact with the living (although the pious believers will probably tell you otherwise).

As I wrote about in the first episode, there is no special divine magic. But most people believe that the mark of sorcery is a gift from god (or the gods) and organized religion and the magocracies worked hand-in-hand for millenia. But in the times of urbanization and industrialisation the power of religion starts to wane.
But let’s first talk about the major religions.

The Holy Cerynian Church of the Great Architect
Shortly after the Cerynian empire became the first democracy the Cerynians adopted the religion of the Great Architect. In earlier times they revered the Three Sisters, three vengeful and unforgiving goddesses. But then a young prophet from a small province at the border of the empire started to tell the people about the Great Architect, a loving and creating god that created the world for humans to make their own. The new religion was very successful with artists and craftsmen, that preferred the positive creativity of the Great Architect over fearful obedience to the Sisters. Especially the mages opposed that new religion because they feared that they would lose their power, because it was believed that magic was a gift from the Sisters. But in the end the new religion prevailed.

The Holy Cerynian Church of the Great Architect is now one of the major religions in Cerynia and the other nations of Asecia. Following a long tradition most priests were craftsmen or artist before they were ordained. Followers of the Great Architect believe that the best way to please their god is to create something that outlasts their death, like a piece of art or a building. Members of the Church of the Great Architect don’t beliefe in an afterlife and they strive to live a fulfilling and pious life.
The Symbol of the Church of the Great Architect is a hammer and compasses. The priest usually don’t take a vow of chastity but some monks do so in order to focus on their religious or scientific studies but those vows are normally not for life. The tradional garb of the priests is a simple grey hooded robe.

The Brotherhood of the Three Sisters
Although the Brotherhood has lost most of its members hundreds of years ago, the religion is still alive. The Brotherhood believes in the Three Sisters, three vengful (sometimes almost evil) goddesses that expect complete obedience from their followes. In Brotherhood dogma all sorcerors are the Sisters’ children and shall be revered as well. In the Brotherhood only men are allowed to pray and take part in church service. There are a lot of rules which regulate the lives of the believers and not following those rules leads to fast and draconic punishment. The Brotherhood’s symbol are three black female figures in front of a red disc. The priests usually wear read, unadorned robes and featureless black masks that cover the whole face.

The Church of St. Michael
Michael d’Arellien was a minor noble with almost no magical talent born on one of the island that are now called the Principality of St. Michael. He was a devout follower of the Great Architect but pretty insignificant until a fateful day when suddenly his magical talent increased hundredfold. It is said that his magical aura and his eyes were shining bright as the sun even when he was not actively using magic. That influx of power has given him immense insight and hidden knowledge of the world. He used his new-found talent to help people, heal the sick and he preached about a better world for all humans. Many people believed that he was the reincarnation of the Great Prophet or an avatar of the Great Architect himself.

He convinced the Cerynian Empire to grant the Western Isles independence and became their first prince. But he tought of himself not as the ruler but the servant of his people. In the following years tales of miracles spread throughout the Isles.
All of the Principality sects started to rise that believed the prince was more than a man. They believed he was the Architect himself walking amonst men. And when Michael d’Arellien suddenly vanished without the trace it was believed that he transcended.

Today the major religion of the Isles is Michaelism. The Church of St. Michael still resembles the Chruch of the Great Architect but its followers believe that a man, St. Michael of Arellien, was an incarnation of the Architect himself and that he came to lead the Isles into freedom. The priest of that religion wear white silken robes adorned with the symbol of a white-blue star.

Minor Religions
 The citizens of Tovenar are followers of the Great Architect but there was a schism several hundred years ago that lead to the creation of the Holy Tovenari Church. The Holy Tovenari Church uses a slighty modified liturgy and this church is mostly based on monastries. Tovenari priests wear black robes.
There are rumors that the people of the lost kingdom of Rivenar worship some kind of evil entity, but that’s unconfirmed and doubted by most scholars. 
There are also a lot of atheists and agnostics in most countries especially in Cerynia and the Principality. 

So, that concludes this episode of Dungeoncraft.

Is d20 Modern dead?

When I am not totally mistaken the last major release for d20 Modern was d20 Dark•Matter and it was released in September 2006. The most recent article on the official d20 Modern site was posted in december 2006. So d20 Modern has got no official support for almost two years now. After D&D 4th Edition was announced there was some talk about a new version of d20 Modern based on the 4th edition of D&D but nothing further has been announced. So, is d20 Modern dead or is there some hope that it will come back in one form or another? And how will a 2nd edition of d20 Modern look like?

“Dead like a dodo?”
In my opinion d20 Modern is dead. WotC is currently focussing on D&D 4th Edition and the Star Wars roleplaying game. When the recent lay-offs were announced Wizards let us know that they want to focus on their core brands. And from what we’ve seen in the past, they probably don’t count d20 Modern to their core brands.

“Pathfinder Modern”?
No, no, Paizo hasn’t announced their own version of d20 Modern (yet) but I think it would fit into their portfolio. With the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game they are releasing an updated version of D&D 3.5 for people who just don’t make the jump to 4th edition. So they, or another third-party publisher could release something like an updated d20 Modern in the future and revitalize the game when Wizards is unwilling to fill that gap. The d20 Modern SRD was released under the OGL, so at least there should be no legal barrier.

“D20 Modern 4th Edition Style”
Ok, let’s imagine I am wrong and Wizards would release a new d20 Modern based on the changes they made to the d20 System in 4th Edition. Most changes would be welcome like changing saves into defenses and dropping multiple attacks per round. But I just don’t think that powers would work well in a modern campaign. D&D 4th Edition feels a lot like a superheroes game set in medieval times (which I like) but I don’t think this will work in a modern low-magic world. Also “roles” and “power sources” probably have no meaning in a modern game either. It would however perfectly suit a superheroes game but I don’t think Wizards will release a game in that genre.

So, what are your thoughts on d20 Modern? Is the game dead or will we see a revival in one form or the other? Please use the comments below to share your ideas.