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I have too many mugs and now I’m looking at more. Because I am suffering and my wallet will soon suffer I’ve decided that you all have to suffer too.
There will also be a lot of amazon affiliate links here, so by suffering yourself and buying a few mugs you will be helping me to un-suffer. Thanks in advance.
If you’ve ever played Stardew Valley then you know how important it is to keep your energy up while you’re working in the fields. I’ve always thought that some of the things, like eating flowers to get energy, is a little weird. But coffee, now that’s REALISM.
I love Lego, and I love mugs, so this one seems like one I need to have. I am a little curious how it holds up to the heat, but it would still have a good display piece. Plus I could use all my spare pieces.
I know its official name is now Grogu, but he will always be Baby Yoda in my heart. I can imagine Grogu guzzling a gallon of coffee when Mando isn’t looking.
It’s pot-ception! Although this listing makes me wonder if someone could make a lid that makes drinking from coffee pots possible. Is this an untapped segment of the market? Possibly.
I don’t get some of these references, but I’m not an engineer. I do like to make fun of engineers though. Mainly because they can make more money with a bachelors than I will be able to make with a PhD. It’s okay though, I’m not bitter or anything. Unlike coffee.
A good pun is like good whiskey. It burns, but it burns SO GOOD. Donuts are the same way. Except it does the opposite of burn, because you’re gaining calories as you eat them.
Like Tom Nook, I love money. So if you buy this mug, you’ll help me get money.
I’ve made a few posts about a one-page roleplaying game that I’ve been working on called The Final Frontier. It’s a simple tabletop roleplaying game perfect for any tired game master who just wants to run a quick oneshot with their players.
While I was designing the game I tried very hard to imagine scenarios that could be solved without violence. The game is meant to put players in control of characters not used to daring adventures and life threatening situations. Instead, players are challenged to use mundane skills to solve the problems before them.
I like to think that I succeeded. In the past few weeks I played several encounters with my players.
In the first one, players encountered a cult worshipping an alien hiding under the ice of Europa. The alien was infecting members of its cult with a psychic virus that allowed it to control them. Its goal was to get enough cult members to build a ship capable to taking it back home. My players didn’t care about any of this. They got back on their ship and left the inhabitants of the Europa colony to their fate.
In the second, my players encountered a strange alien object passing through the solar system. Though they didn’t know it at first, the object was an alien probe designed to test any species it encountered. After years of intercepting transmissions from Earth the object used the harvested data to present puzzles to the characters to help its algorithms ensure that it has been interpreting the data correctly. By the end of it only player character achieved their desired surge in internet popularity and another experienced what he believed to be a revelation and left ready to found a whole new religion.
Why am I telling you all this? Because the game is finally posted on itch.io! You are free to name your own price for the game so please, go check it out be sure to tell your friends about it.
I made this one page rpg back in June. Now that I’ve finally had a chance to playtest it I’ve made a few changes. Mainly I got rid of the luck score and made each character’s health its own dice pool.
The aim of this game is to create low-combat, exploration based encounters, although combat is certainly possible. This does however require a lot of effort on the Game Master’s part to prep all the worldbuilding before the session. I’ll probably tweak this version of the game and then write a few scenarios to go along with it.
Okay so maybe it’s more like forty-ish. It’s hard to design a country from scratch. Many authors have to design at least several. If you’re sitting in front of a blank page scratching your head, this list is for you.
1. What is the climate like?
Us humans are pretty adaptable. We make otherwise hostile environments work for us by tailoring our clothes, our diet, and our homes to the local climate. Even ceremonial or luxury objects are descended from very practical pieces of technology.
2. Is it landlocked, coastal, or an island?
There’s a reason that most population centers are near a body of water. Water is literally life. It hydrates us, harbors fish and seaweed, and lets us move faster and easier than we can on land.
3. What resources are present?
Natural resources provide the foundation for an advanced economy. Without a strong foundation, the people of this country might be dependent on foreign supply lines.
4. What is the terrain like?
Is it wide and flat? Or rugged and mountainous? The easier it is to travel and communicate the easier it will be for a central government to exert control.
5. Are there any natural barriers that would impede movement?
Does an ocean or mountain range protect the country from invasion? Do its rocky shores make a harbor difficult to build?
6. Where are the sources of water?
Is it everywhere or nowhere? Who controls the potable water?
7. How many languages and ethnic groups are present?
Do the people see themselves as part of a single whole or are they just temporarily united for the next few decades or the next century?
8. Have any of these people been recently displaced?
Have these displaced persons been accepted by their new community?
9. How is society organized?
Who has all the money? Who does the populace listen to?
10. What form of government is there?
Is it a new democracy? An ancient autocracy? Something in between?
11. Do the people look favorably on the government?
If someone were to start a revolt how many would be likely to support them?
12. What religions are practiced?
Possible flavors include monotheistic, polytheistic, animistic, ancestor worship.
13. Is there a state religion?
Does that state religion tolerate competitors?
14. Who are the country’s neighbors?
And if there are neighbors, do they get along? Are they part of a regional coalition or trade zone?
15. Is this country more powerful than its neighbors?
Is someone preparing for a war of aggression? Does the populace fear an invasion in the near future? Has revolution in a neighboring country put the ruling class on edge?
16. What are the country’s major industries?
Does the government feel that it needs to prop up these industries? Are any of these industries owned by the state?
17. Is the country dependent on its neighbors for any important resources?
Can these resources be used as a form of indirect control? Do the people feel that they are paying fair prices for these imports?
18. Does the country have any colonies abroad?
Who owns these colonies? Are they ruled directly? Are people born in the colonies citizens? What languages do they speak?
19. Are any parts of the country’s territory contested by its neighbors?
How long has this territory been contested? Do the people living there have family on both sides of the border?
20. Does this country have any historic rivalries?
Populations can have rivals just like people. Is the rivalry over religious differences? An ancient betrayal? Are the royal houses related?
I am always looking for new worldbuilding tools. Am I substituting more tools for actually working on things? Probably, but it is fun.
There are a lot of worldbuilding tools out there, and figuring our which will best suit your workflow is tough. Personally I seem to just buy all of them, but that doesn’t mean you should have to. So, is Campaign Cartographer worth it?
I’ll be honest I had no idea what it was until ProFantasy started advertising their stay at home bundle. Now, compared to Wonderdraft these programs are expensive. But I got their map maker, city maker, and dungeon maker for about $60 on sale. Still not terrible considering all the included art assets.
I poked around online for some reviews. I wasn’t entirely thrilled by what I found but looking at the screenshots I really liked the art. A lot of it conjures up images of classic fantasy maps. That said, there’s still a lot to learn about making them.
On first glance the UI is anything buy modern. It’s not like wonderdraft were the icons immediately hint at what they might do. It takes some tinkering and a few checks of the manual to figure out. I don’t know about you, but as dated as this UI looks, to me it just oozes functionality.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to use. After a few minutes I was able to figure out how to draw land masses and to add rivers. I wouldn’t say that they look any good, but I’m getting the hang of it.
While the UI is very different there do seem to be a lot of similarities when compared to Wonderdraft.
The most important shared advantage of the two are the art assets. Having premade icons for towns, houses, bridges, and what not are a huge timesaver. And just like wonderdraft it’s hard at first to figure out how to best use these assets and still seem original.
Just like with Wonderdraft, the key is to experiment. After a few tries I think you’ll find that it’s easy to combine these assets to create something original. The trick is to be patient and not be afraid to start over. I know always want my first attempt to be the last but I don’t know of any project that doesn’t need a few edits.
So is campaign cartographer worth it? Is it better than Wonderdraft? To be honest with you, I don’t know. I can see already that both have a lot of potential, and Campaign Cartographer wouldn’t have lasted this long if it didn’t have potential. For me personally, I’m already enjoying Campaign Cartographer simply because it’s easier for my computer to run.
I’ll post a full review once I’ve had time to fully explore its features. For now it seems clear to me that Campaign cartographer has a lot to offer. Picking it up on sale and seeing if it’s right for you might not be the worst idea in the world, but be warned that it will take some getting used too. And right now they’re even featured on Humble Bundle!
Have you used Campaign Cartographer or Wonderdraft in the past? If so, do you have any advice you could give me? I’m always looking to learn. You can find me on twitter @expyblog. If you liked this review you can help support this site at the cost of a cup of coffee.
For me the best part about the fantasy genre is the magic. I love reading a book with a well-designed system, one that’s believable and is full of possibilities, and by possibilities I don’t just mean those shown on the screen. In my mind a good magic systems should also be one where the audience can imagine new uses not seen “on screen” based on the mechanics they are shown.
1. Codex Alera
It’s hard to beat the appeal of a simple elemental magic system, but it’s very easy to ruin one. In the Codex Alera series Jim Butcher manages to make an elemental magic system that feels natural, is incorporated into the society seen in the books, and doesn’t fall victim to its creators desire for originality. Instead of the normal four elements, this systems has six, making it more closely resemble the chinese elemental system instead of the greek. For each of these elements there is a countless number of nature spirits called ‘furies’ of varying degrees of strength. Most human characters can manipulate all six elements to some degree, but are only particularly skilled with one or two. High Lords, the nobility of the setting, are distinguished by their power over all six.
I love this system because it is intuitive and because it has been completely integrated with Aleran society. Social status and political power are linked to a person’s magical talents and the power of furies is used in place of many technologies that we enjoy in the real world. This integration is so complete that characters have difficulty imagining ways to accomplish tasks without the use of their furies, putting characters who lack a connection to furies at a severe disadvantage in Aleran society.
The differences we see in urban versus rural perceptions of magic is another facet of this system that I really enjoy. Rural inhabits more readily anthropomorphize their furies by assigning them names and personalities, whereas urban residents are more likely to see their furies as merely useful tools. In my mind different interpretations of the same system lends a does or realism to the setting. Real people have differing thoughts and approach the same situations in different ways, and this is nice to see mirrored in a fantasy setting.
2. Full Metal Alchemist
FMA’s alchemical magic, with its strict rules of equivalent exchange and lip-service to scientific principles, is a perfect system for science-enthusiasts. It’s a system with clearly defines rules and ways to break them, which is important in any high fantasy setting and keeps hand-waving to a minimum. Most importantly, it is a system where the costs are clearly shown; an important consideration in high fantasy settings.
Most of the examples of alchemy we see in the series consists of reshaping matter, but we see from the more specialized alchemists practiced by characters like Mustang and Kimblee that much more is possible. From alchestry’s practitioners in Xing we learn that this is another system that is also open to some interpretation.
Unfortunately we don’t get to see many alchemists outside of the military, but from Shou Tucker’s home and the brief glimpses of civilian alchemists attempting to repair damaged buildings we see a little of what every day life is like for an alchemist who has not been completely absorbed by the military. From the reaction of Leto cultists in Reole and the distrust for alchemy held by the Ishvalens we see that the practice of this magic is not as wide spread as the other systems listed here, but admonishments from characters who believe that alchemists should work for the people and the prominent role given to alchemists in Amestris’ military shows the importance of magic to the rest of the setting.
3. Wizard of Earthsea
The magic of true names that Ursula K. Le Guin shows us in Earthsea is a bit more philosophical than the other systems I’ve chosen to include. In this system words have power and people jealously guard their true names. Names are power in this setting, and fully trained wizards dedicate years to learning the true names of everything around them. The consequences of having this power come up several times. The balance of the world puts an inherent limit on what a wizard can do. Many spells are in fact illusions because creating something from nothing would upset the world’s equilibrium.
With the exception of the Kargish lands, magic is thoroughly integrated into the society of Earthsea. Practitioners of magic range from hedge witches, to weather control wizards on ships, to royal advisers. In the first book we are shown the importance of magic when Olgion, a sorcerer, is present for Ged’s naming.
4. Powder Mage
Brian McClellan created multiple magic systems for his Powder Mage series. Normally I am hesitant to embrace a setting with multiple distinct types of magic but these books are the exception. Privileged, Power Mages, and Blood Mages are all relatively rare and we get the sense that magic has changed over time. This sense of evolving magic makes a great fit for the themes of revolution and change often seen in gunpowder fantasy. The practitioners I’m most interested in here are Knacked; people with a single magical talent that can be anything from never needing to sleep to making crops grow in just minutes.
According to the author the Privileged make up a pseudo-aristocracy within the setting, and Powder Mages have obvious military applications, but the Knacked have the biggest influence on the every day. Knacked abilities can make a person rich, and because both men and women are equally likely to find themselves possessing magical talents the sexes are shown to have equal opportunities available to them. We regularly see female heads of state, generals, and soldiers, all of which would be rare in many other settings.
Most importantly for this list, the powers of the knacked best fit my preference for magic that is integrated into every day life. With abilities ranging from mundane to extraordinary the knacked fit into a wide range of niches whereas this setting’s other practitioners are mostly shown employed as either super soldiers or living artillery.
5. Dungeons and Dragons
On first glance this is the most rigid system that I am listing here. Each spell has specific guidelines for who can use it, what it costs, and what it does. The systems also requires players to prepare their spells ahead of time. At first this need for planning and preparation might seem limiting compared to looser systems where spells can be made up on the fly, but D&D players are (in)famous for reading the fine print and coming up with new and creative uses that stretch the limits of what is actually allowed. Go on any D&D forum and you will find users sharing and debating uses for popular spells like Prestidigitation and Thaumatugy. That this system can be interpreted so differently depending on play styles is one of this system’s strengths.
Just how integrated magic is with the rest of the setting will depend on the setting and your group’s DM. Even so, the need for spell components and the utilitarian applications of many spells allows DMs to create settings with entire magical economies with spellslingers on every corner if it suits their campaign.