Holy Cow! I’m a Special Guest!

Chupacabracon 2015 has accepted me as a special guest because I have enough Hero System writing credits to actually be somewhat significant!

I’ll be running games and doing panels from January 9-11 in Austin, Texas, where I intend to enjoy some weather that is marginally better than the weather in New Jersey. If you’re planning on going, drop me a line! I’ll be happy to take out a few minutes for people who make appointments beforehand.




Hallow Worlds

Currently, I’ve embarked on a project tentatively titled “Journey to the Center of the Earth!” For the past eight to ten months, I’ve been constructing what lies below at the center of my superhero world.

While some of these characters were already sheeted, the key to this enterprise is building an inner planet. I started out thinking “This is going to be awesome! This is going to be fun! A lot of my work is already completed, all I have to do is rework the math, and…”

Well, it’s 212 pages later. I’m about 2/3 done. This project is probably going to be about the size of “City State of the Invincible Overlord” or close to it.

Features include:

A Map of the Center of the Earth!

A sinister army of Reptile Men and their super-powered leaders!

The Earth’s Archmage, the Oligarch, and the Council, and they aren’t as friendly as one might expect!

Free Cities of the Center of the Earth!

Underground superhero gaming tips!

Cybernetic Mole Men! (Yeah. I love the classics. All at once, I do.)

Dozens of plot seeds, campaign hooks, and plot options.

Oh, yeah. And the Doomsday Beast! We’ve got him, too!


Always Name Your NPC’s Beforehand

I know I like to present myself as a guy who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. So much for that.

My players and I started  a new Pathfinder game. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be much cause for alarm, but it was taking place in Galt, a French Revolution-style area of Golarion.

Sure, no problem. Well, the PC’s were attacked by some thugs. And I didn’t name the boss of the thugs. It didn’t even occur to me that this would matter. So I plunked down some pennies and this bottle cap from a belgian beer that I had served to a friend of mine the other day. It read “Biere de Trappiste” on the label.

So we get around to rolling initiatives, and someone says “What’s the boss’s name?”

Me: (Trying to cover my butt) You don’t know. Are you going to ask him?

Player: It’s a little too late for that now. Let me see. (Looks at the bottle cap. Reads the words “Biere de Trappiste”) Okay. He is now Trappiste.That sounds vaguely French.

Me: (Trying desperately to figure a way out of this mess, and realizing there is none. Even if I were to name him later, I know my players. They will call him Trappiste forever) Okay. (Sighing inwardly) He is now Trappiste.

Even worse, the PC’s dropped him to negatives and he SURVIVED. 🙂 Now this guy is going to be on their tail, and I still can’t call him anything but “Trappiste.” Oh, well. Trappiste is now the villain. Unlucky them.

Still, to be fair, you should always name your NPC’s beforehand.

What’s Going On? (Part 133.6)

Well, I haven’t been maintaining as much as I’d like, but that’s because a lot of stuff has been happening and I’ve been very busy maintaining it.

I’ve written a novel called Hellbow Rune: A Novel of Dark Fantasy. This book should be out sometime this coming year. It’s long, about 500 pages, but I hope people will take a look when it comes out.

I’m also working on a superhero game project called Journey to the Center of the Earth. No, really. There’s a hallow world at the Center of the Earth with reptile people, powerful magicians, weird animals, feuding city states, and more!

My agents, Dee Mura literary and I are hammering out a different novel called Alison L. This could be big. Maybe the biggest thing ever!

Anyway, as brief as this post is, feel free to contact me at ChampionsGuru@gmail.com if you are adoring fans or just want my chili recipe.

I will be attending Gencon this year as usual. Further public appearances may be forthcoming. Stay tuned!

Making good use of terrain! (Much Delayed!)

Hi, guys! A promise is a promise, and a long time ago, I promised folks a conversation about terrain. Terrain is the area of land or battlefield upon which a conflict is played out. This can have a lot of different meanings.

1) A lot of people think of terrain as simply whatever the ground is under their feet. This is kind of silly, because terrain can change in an instant. What if there isn’t any ground in the first place? A better way of thinking of terrain is “The sum total of the local environment.”

Is that pet dog or someone’s parked car part of the terrain? As far as a battlemap is concerned, yes it is. Can characters be part of terrain? They sure can! Just strap an unconscious PC to a rocket and threaten to launch him, and lo and behold, he’s an environmental factor.

2) Can the terrain be dangerous? Sure it can! Lava, high-speed rapids, an ocean storm, or a construction site can all be examples of dangerous terrain. These combats are always the most fun, too, because the environment as opponent can’t be argued with. If you have to fight the bad guy on a tightrope over a windswept canyon, then everything just became ten times cooler (and ten times more dangerous).

3) In some cases, terrain presents obstacles. In other cases, it can make things easier. It is important to remember that this doesn’t always work great for everyone. What is good for Fred may be lousy for Bob. Thick jungle that impedes ground movement will be awful for super sprinter, but fantastic for monkey boy!

4) Challenge people with terrain! A battle on a rocky outcropping over a pool of Lava is always going to be more challenging than a battle on a flat plain, given an equal level of opponent.


Imaginary Friends: A New Kickstarter from Blackwyrm Games

maginary Friends is an adventure for the Hero System/ Champions 6th Edition and Savage Worlds in which invisible playmates come to life with deadly consequences. As much a long-term campaign supplement as an adventure, it features a set of strategies and events using the characters and depicting forces at work, rather than a completely linear narrative.

You’ll meet an entertaining array of sinister and unique characters who will engage roleplayers in tests of combat and the mind unlike anything you’ve seen before! I know you’ve probably heard that before once or twice, but I really mean it. Every playtest of this adventure has been fantastic, be it rules light or rules heavy.

We hope you’ll be pleased and surprised at what you find inside the pages of Imaginary Friends. It’s a very different sort of gaming experience.

What’s inside:

A full supervillain team. (It wouldn’t be nearly as cool an adventure if there wasn’t a full supervillain team in it)

Villains opposing other villains!

A vast array of map locations that are easily reusable in any modern setting!

The groundwork for an easy to expand evil secret organization!

A sinister master mind!

A lesser master mind!

An agent-level mastermind!

Absolutely no mimes (or Master Mimes) whatsoever!

If you help us reach our goal, we may be able to get you stretch goals such as cardboard heroes of the characters or larger maps!


Making Good Use of Space

Well, what the heck is this about? Why would I sit here and wax poetic about making good use of space? Well, it’s because honestly, a lot of GM’s don’t, and I’m going to be pretty serious about this.

On maps, people ignore basic stuff. When I publish an adventure, I make sure there are bathrooms, entrances, exits, and the like. I devote an excessive amount of time and space to these basic things. I know it sounds dumb, but far too often, people don’t really pay attention to these things.

In a fantasy game, make sure your castle has the requisite number of entrances and exits, including a couple of secret ones.

In a modern game, make sure that your maps obey fire safety codes. These things sound nuts, but they add an additional layer of realism without really costing you anything.

There are a number of reasons for this:

1) Villains need to escape to further the story. Nothing is worse than having to have a guy teleport away from your good guys just because he forgot to put in a back door. A lot of players hate villains who teleport away more than they hate eating foods they don’t like. A little detail like this will allow the players to say “Curses, he got away,” but does it in a way that’s far more mundane.

2) Entrance as well as exit. If someone can go out through the in door, they can go in through the out door.

3) Common Sense. This protects you from snarky players. If all of this is already built in, it’s not on you if your players ignore it, it’s on them, and they’ll be like…dang, I didn’t think of that.

Next time, we’ll talk about making use of terrain. That should be fun too.

  • Upcoming Appearances

    Heroicon, Decatur, Illinois, May 15-17

    Michael will be appearing at Heroicon as a Special Guest, where he will run games and appear on panels. All proceeds from this convention go to benefit troops overseas with games, both donated and purchased, sponsored by a group called Games for Troops. I know it's a trek. Come join me anyway.

    Nexus Game Fair, Milwaukee, WI, June 25-28

    Michael will be appearing at Nexus Game Fair as a Special Guest, where he will run games and appear on Panels.

    Gencon, Indianapolis, IN, July 29-August 2.

    Michael will be attending Gencon and representing Blackwyrm Games, where his latest products will be playtested and he will have at least one signing.