Tuesday 25 May 2010

Be charmed by Rustfoot's magic

Rustfoot by Jens Thuresson is a delightful blog filled with novel components that you can air drop into any fantasy campaign. Written from the point of view of a wizard who travelled your world documenting places, deities, magical items and so on into a single book. Beautifully written with a humorous (often dark) lilt, the posts will entrall and entertain you. It has become my default bed-time reading, relegating the tower of books to a passable alternative.

Do you believe in magic?

Magic items in games tend to follow a pretty typical methodology thus:
  1. Take a real world item.
  2. Put 'magical' in front of it.
  3. Describe it using a few words.
  4. Add a game bonus.
Although this is functional and facilitates the creation of a huge array of magical items, you tend to end up with a lot that look like:
Magical Sword, +2 damage, forged in the flames of mount Sliceanddice.
Which, in the mind of the reductivist turns into:
Sword +2 damage.
All the majesty and cool is bled away in the heat of the moment when you just have to consider the scale of damage you are inflicting on the Ork, Globin or hapless bystander. Further restrictions or rules do help the magical item to retain some of its intrigue but that is often sadly lost. It is, after all, just another +Something Magical Doohicky.

Although most obvious in magic items, I think this problem exists throughout the fantasy genre. A village on a stream becomes just another village. A fireball spell just another lobbed ball of burning death.

Enter Rustfoot

Jens has a talent for writing, crafting fresh never-seen-before ideas as well as turning existing tropes on their heads. Even the hardened roleplayer who has games printed on papyrus and who has been roleplaying since before Gygax's place of birth had geologically disconnected from mainland Europe, would be hard pushed to say they've seen this all before.

The presentation of each item is not a cold stat-block but a delicious description through the eyes of Rustfoot. You can't help but be drawn in. The sketches included are reminiscent of the naturalists who explored the expanse of the Pacific - they do not need to be beautifully rendered by a professional, it wouldn't look like Rustfoot had created them.

Blogging drawback

Update: has added a contents page now. Superb! Thanks, Jens.. Being a blog, there isn't an index so it is difficult to browse the content. I've defended the same constructive criticism levelled at me, which is why I created the RPG Directory. Rather than labour the point, I've made a quick one below of the items Rustfoot has scribed so far.


Unique, novel and bound in charm with every post. I wanted to outline a favourite but I really couldn't. The magic items and spells are the most delightful and perhaps most useful to the fantasy GM. They say familiarity breeds contempt. Wrong-foot your complacent players by breathing some of Rustfoots splendid discoveries into your game.

Jens, thank you for sharing and let me be the first to demand a PDF book if it!

Friday 21 May 2010

Do what I did - go away and create

We're all excellent consumers. I tip words into my eyes from blogs, I drip lovely audio spoo into my ears by a plethora of podcasts and scrape delicious tweets off the web. Chances are, your habits aren't too different to mine. We (do excuse my assumption that you, dear reader, are actually part of my consciousness and we are all essentially part of the Unclebear Borg Collective) read a fair number of roleplaying games.

All this consumption is very well and good and might just make you a better roleplayer/gamesmaster/creator but nothing, and I mean nothing, can replace the actual act of creation. Go away and make something. Create, upload, share and improve through feedback. Stop reading this and make something, when you've made something come back and tell us all what it is.

Go on.

Welcome back

While patting out my Guide to Writing a Free RPG (which is turning into a monolithic series coming soon), I have also been working on my other monolith: Icar - doing my best to deal with all of its misgivings. As such, it's approaching a very raw alpha, which I will tentatively proffer to those poor sods who were infected by the filth that is the current version.

I have a smorgasbord of blog posts about to arrive but the best advice I've only recently realised is go and make something, there is no substitute. I took an unscheduled pause, which is now clicked off and my advice to you is Go and create!