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.

Elementary, dear Watson!

I love RPG and I love murder mysteries. When I am not blogging, gaming or drinking coffee, I am probably listening to a Sherlock Holmes audiobook or watch the latest CSI episode.
I always wanted to have a great murder mystery adventure perhaps as part of another campaign or as a whole campaign. I still remember the good old times, when I was still in high school, when I discovered the roleplaying game “Private Eye” on a friends’ bookshelf. As far as I can remember we never actually played it, but I found the idea to play a private investigator in a roleplaying game written for murder mysteries and the like intriguing.
When I run or play Call of Cthulhu we normally have a lot of opportunities for criminalistic activities. We hunt for clues, talk to suspects, do research in libraries, so it’s the closest thing I have experienced to a detective roleplaying game.
When d20 Modern came out a few years ago I made some plans for a campaign with psychic investigators like in the Agents of PSI minisetting that never came out of the planning stage. My main problem always was, how do I create a compelling murder mystery without working everything out to the miniscule details and without resorting to a lot of Search and Research tests? And how do you handle psychic abilities in a murder mystery? I haven’t found an answer to these questions yet, so I ask my readers to share their thoughts.

Drinking from the firehose

The RPG Bloggers Network is awesome. It helped new or virtually unknown blogs like mine to get an instant readership almost over night and usually you get a lot of helpful comments. The first few days in the network were a great experience. But great success comes at a cost and I think we are starting to see the effect.
Currently trying to follow everything that is written on the network is like drinking from the proverbial firehose. The community churns out vast amounts of quality content at such a high speed, that you just cant keep up.
And there’s another interesting effect. I am pretty sure that most of the traffic for most blogs comes from the RPG Bloggers Network site. With sometimes dozens of new articles coming out between the site’s update cycle it happens that your article never appears on the front page and is forever lost in oblivion. That can be frustrating.
So what can we do to remedy that situation? I have to admit, I have no instant solution available. If one of your articles gets featured on the main site, you probably get a lot of traffic for a short period of time but it’s uncertain if the readers come back. And because of the recent changes on the main site, featured posts are not as prominent as before.
One possibility is to advertise the use of RSS feeds. I use Google Reader to subscribe to the blogs that interest me and so I almost never miss a post. You can of course use any RSS feed reader you like.
Aside from that I have no idea.
Don’t get me wrong! I still think that the RPG Bloggers Network is awesome but I get the feeling that the success may not come without some injuries.

Dungeoncraft: The World of Asecia

Last time I showed you the original map that started it all. Today I want to explain you what I’ve changed and why I have made that changes. And you’ll get more details on the campaign itself.

“The world is not enough”
Shortly after I’ve restarted my “gaslight fantasy campaign” project anew I realized that my initial map was not big enough. There were three ways to remedy that problem:

  • Create a whole new map
  • Change the scale of the map
  • Keep the scale of the map and add more lands around it

In the end I decided to go with option 3, although technically I will have to recreate the whole map either way. Since I lost the original map files, I will have to recreate the whole map in CC 3.0, allowing me to add more lands and make some changes. The major landmass of the original map will become a group of islands similiar to the British Isles and I will add some more islands and a bigger continent to the east.

“Rise of Nations”
In my first episode I wrote about the tribal origins of humanity and the rise of magic. But this was millennia before the actual campaign is meant to start. Over the years nations have formed, collapsed, where rebuilt, conquered, united and broken apart. Over almost a millenium the major political power on the eastern continent was the Empire of Cerynia. Cerynia started as a magocracy with the leaders of the three sorceror houses forming the ruling council, the Troika of Cerynia. Over time the lesser houses and the unmarked populace demanded more rights and after a long struggle that almost broke the empire apart, the Empire of Cerynia became a republic. 300 years ago the Republic of Cerynia lost a lot of their provinces because the once free territories wanted independence. During that time, the Principality of St. Michael, the Kingdoms of Tovenar and Rivenar were formed.

“Republic of Cerynia”
Cerynia is my version of Rome. During their golden age the Cerynians not only invented democracy but they also were the ones who formalized magic, created the first magic academies and made huge advances in the mundane sciences. But their nation grew to fast and so it started to fall apart, just like Rome did. But I didn’t want Cerynia to become a footnote in history, so decided that although it lost most of it territories, the Republic of Cerynia still continued to hold its core lands until now.

“Principality of St. Michael”
Another major power is the Princpality of St. Michael. Once it was part of the Cerynian Empire but the island nation has been granted independence during the most troubled era of Cerynian’s history. The empire was fighting on too many fronts at that time and so they decided to grant the Principality independence and keep it as an ally instead of getting another enemy. The first prince of the new founded nation was Michael d’Arellien, who is now worshipped by the Church of St. Michael. The principality is a constitutional monarchy with the prince as the head of state. The parliament consist of the Industrial Council, the Council of Mages and the House of Commons. The Industrial Council consists of 20 of the most influential industrialists, the council of mages consits of the highest members of the sorceror houses and the House of Commons is elected by all citizens of the Prinicpality in equal vote. The Principality is also the spearhead of the industrial revolution that still changes the face of Asecia.

The Principality was strongly influenced by the United Kingdom of our world. The Principality is much like a Victorian England with magic and weird inventions thrown in. The Principality is highly industrialized and the industrialists are trying to get even more influence. Mages have lost a lot of their former glory but they are still a power to be reckoned with. There is also a rather new breed of mages in the Principality that tried to combine the advances of technology with the traditions of magic, calling themselves Technomages.

“Kingdom of Tovenar”
Tovenar is the last remaining pure magocracy today. The majority of the people of Tovenar are farmers that owe fealty to their mage lords. The land is controlled by a lot of minor nobles that only report to their sorceror-king Kharad II. Kharad II has studied at universities all over the continent and is trying to turn his kingdom slowly into an industrialized nation much to the chargrin of a lot of backwater nobles who fear the change of the status quo. Recently Kharad II has moved his capital to the new city of Kharagrad which he planned himself and invited scholars from all over Asecia to teach and research at the Royal University of Tovenar.
I will write about Rivenar and the rest of the world later.

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. – Karl Marx”
Borrowing from real history has its advantages. Although it’s not as original as creating everything from scratch it’s much easier to get things feel natural. My world of Asecia is much like Europe during the Victorian times. Then take the noble houses of that time and replace them with mages and you’re almost there. Spice it with some weird science and steampunk and you get an unique mix. I am currently at a point where I think that this campaign could really work. My main problem with creating whole campaign settings has always been that I want to put it all in. I have thousands of ideas and I don’t want to let something out, so the result is a mess. Blogging about my ideas and reading your comments helps me to focus on the project andkeeps me from jumping from cool idea to idea.

“Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book”
The big question remains: Should I try to write all my ideas down at the end so that it could be published as a book? Not that I intended to sell it in the first place, but I could make it available as PDF for free on the site, if there are enough people interested. What do you think? And do you think I should keep the format of the articles?