Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2009

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion


To the 127th issue of The Guild Companion.

Apprentices of the Guild

Last month, I talked about the New World Order's initiative to jump-start the presence of Rolemaster/Spacemaster and HARP/HARP SF at conventions through "Apprentices of the Guild". There is a hidden board on the TGC forums where even now the first Apprentices are converging on the plot lines for a connected series of three scenarios that can either be run independently or as a set. I went over to Mjolnir/ICE and asked nicely if I could borrow a chunk of the Shatterings from the Gryphon World setting, and they've graciously agreed. (I promised not to blow up Cyradon, Anias or indeed any part of the Gryphon World) Which means that the first cycle of scenarios will tie in very nicely with HARP's Cyradon and the upcoming Rolemaster Classic version of Cyradon. Once the crack team has filled in the remaining potential plot holes, we will move onward to defining the detail of all three scenarios in terms of scenes/encounters and produce a to-do list of what's needed.

There's plenty of room for more people to get involved. Sign up to the TGC forums (if you have not done so already), then drop me an email at editor at guildcompanion dot com with your shiny TGC username saying you want to be an Apprentice, I'll drop a note to our webmaster who'll tweak your account permissions and in due course, you'll be in and can get to work.

Exorcising the Demons

At the last checkpoint on Something Wicked way back in June, I explained how I was working my way through the writing up of twenty-two demons. June and July were not productive months as far as writing was concerned as business trips, conferences and conventions ate my free time. Nevertheless I still managed to corral two Sunday afternoons and six demons of the second batch were duly written up, leaving a trio statted but not written up in the second batch, and the third batch of eight demons that only existed in note form.

So August arrived, Constitution was a success, and suddenly my free time returned. I seized the opportunity of three free weekday evenings and religiously wrote up one demon description each evening. The second batch had been duly exorcised.

So a Saturday rolled around and it was time to look hard at the third batch. There was a brief momentary panic when I realised that the notes were incomplete for these fiends. The first order of business was to fix those lacunae with a charge through deciding what the likely myths & misconceptions, treasures and encounters text should say. This was followed by some wrestling to figure out the names and natures of their special abilities (over and above what Demons get anyway) and the sudden realisation that I did not have to stat up the "Forged" (we need a better name for them). The Forged are demons who have been the (un)willing experiments of "Forger Demons" (yes, we need a better name for them too) using magics that will be found in the upcoming Construct Toolkit - extra limbs, weird mutations, exotic abilities, etc. Of course since these devils are mostly unique variations of existing demons, there really was no point in statting a "typical" specimen because there is no such thing. That got rid of the troublesome demon that had been kicked out of previous batches, so I'm now down to seven demon types to stat and write up and one demon type just to write up.

Unfortunately it was not as easy as just statting up seven demons. It never is. Each of these demons was to be represented at Class I, II, III, IV and V. So that was actually 35 monster stat tables to produce. Hmm. Doing each one in turn is not the right approach. The proper approach is an assembly line because many of the required subtasks are very mechanistic and you get faster with repetition.. I have a box of very out-of-date business cards, which are completely blank on one side, and get used to pass "secret" notes to players when I GM. So I take some cards and create little tables with rows BD, DS, FO, FD, MD, SD, and VD, and various headings such as Abs (Abilities), Stats, PPs, RRs, Hits, Init, DB, BMR, Attacks, Skills, Trea(sure), #Enc, and Out(look) in that order because there are dependencies between some of the elements of a HARP monster stat block. Then I make a final card with base values for hits etc according to monster size and monster class, so that I don't wreck my copy of Monsters: a Field Guide with too much propping open. Copy an existing Demon stat block and purge out the non-generic bits. Make 34 copies. Make and eat lunch. Then spend the rest of Sunday and the next several evenings working through each of my little card table columns in turn, making ticks as each quintuple of demons was resolved. Sanity preserved, job done.

I'm now down to eight demons to write up. Another weekend arrived and I marched my way through all eight writeups without any hassle, finishing early to my surprise. An inspection of the chapter indicated three incomplete subsections - Demonic Heritages (appropriate and balanced Lesser Demonic and Greater Demonic Blood Talents), Demons as PCs (the advice is Don't, but if you must, here's what to do), and Creating New Demons. They were short, I was on a roll, they were written that evening. The "Masters of the Abyss" chapter is now complete and is with the alpha playtesters. Finally.

Ah yes, those abbreviations - BD, DS, FO, FD, MD, SD, and VD -are Battle Demons, Demonic Spirits, Faceless Ones (this name is being kept), Forger Demons, Mist Demons, Shadow Demons and Vermin Demons. Like I said, many of those names will be replaced, though we might keep the originals around as easy-to-recall aliases.

Still To Do

Two chapters remain to be written for Something Wicked: the penultimate chapter on Foul Sorcery and the final chapter of GM advice. Sorcery was actually written for College of Magics but did not make it into that book for space reasons. When I originally wrote it, I had access to a precursor version of the Monsters: a Field Guide Demons chapter. What was actually published in Monsters is significantly different to that version and as there are now 22 more demon types, it needs to be rewritten and that's what I'm doing at the moment.

Farewell for now ...

Enjoy this month's issue and we'll be back in October with issue 128, but until then ...

Keep gaming and have fun,
Nicholas HM Caldwell
General Editor for The Guild Companion