Double Proficiency

by Jakub Wisz

It’s time to make some creatures!

With that lengthy and overly elaborate introduction, welcome to the third part of Blazing Aurorae’s worldbuilding blog. In previous blogs, I covered the conditions in the comet’s tail, as well as the spark of life itself. Today, I’m going to create the basis for all the future fantastic beings that will populate the mists’ vast emptiness.

There are many ways in which cellular life could adapt to exist and thrive in the void-like environment, and I think it’s not fair to choose one over the other – which is why we’ll have all of them.

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by Jakub Wisz

In the previous blog, I set up the conditions in the primordial world of Blazing Aurorae. It’s time to get some life going, baby. The conditions we have to start with are a bit difficult for life to arise.

To reiterate – aurorium dust creates fierce, magnetic storms throughout the comet’s tail, generating enough heat for liquid water and oxygen to exist in the form of mist suspended in a vacuum, dragged along with the comet.

For organic life as we know it, this is not a friendly environment – far from impossible, however. For extremophile bacteria and even some multicellular creatures on Earth, like tardigrades, this is just a normal Monday.

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by Jakub Wisz

As a hard-scifi writer, I rarely get to venture out into the magical realms of fantasy. To make a long story short, I intend to change that. Consider this blog post an announcement of my next creation after Project Aphelion and Incitatus, Blazing Aurorae. It’s going to be a fantasy novel and maybe a tabletop RPG as well, set in a world very much unlike our own.

It’s going to be a tale set in the cold darkness of open space, in the tail of a comet full of life, civilizations, and wonders. Full of people living their lives on islands of rock and ice suspended in the icy clouds of the comet’s tail, loving, fighting, and exploring space on wooden ships thanks to the magic and technology of their ancestors.

The universe of Blazing Aurorae is far from your run-of-the-mill fantasy pot of tired old tropes and stories. It’s an unusual world with unusual creatures, but I want them to be intuitively understandable and relatable. There are magic elements and impossible conditions throughout; nonetheless, I aim to build it in accordance with known physics and biology. I believe it’s entirely possible to create a fantastic universe based on our real-world reality. In fact, I believe that a world created that way will be much more engaging, consistent, and original than a complete abstract based on nothing but desire to create something fantastic.

In this and the next blog posts, I’ll go through the process of building the setting step by step as I create the world.

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If you, like many people in tabletop roleplaying circle, are waiting for the newest expansion for Dungeons & Dragons to land, you already know you’ll be probably spending some months around Icewind Dale. Arctic adventures are on multiple schedules this year, and there’s nothing surprising about it. After all, Rime of the Frostmaiden promises the players an opportunity to boldly go where snowman has gone before.

Let’s go on an adventure!

If you’ve read my previous post, you know we’re big fans of player agency in this house. If you haven’t – go give it a read. I assure you, it will make it obvious why I’m suggesting some of the solutions and not the others.

All of the advice below applies to running arctic adventures, whether or not you want to have them in Forgotten Realms. We acknowledge and support everybody’s right to not play D&D.

Do you want to make your traveling through the arctic tundra fun, engaging, and memorable? Well, read on, because we’re just about to embark on a journey. From prep to random encounters, we got you covered here.

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I’ve been toying with the idea of Fantasy RPG survival guide for a while – and here’s the first post in the series. What I’m trying to achieve is a comprehensive guide for players and GMs who’d like to solve those matters in a more involved way than just “roll Survival (DC 15)”. In this series we’ll be covering all topics from assembling the party, sharing the loot, small unit tactics, wilderness survival, fighting different types of enemies, surviving a siege, building fortifications, to establishing your own kingdom. Basically, everything your character/party/NPC might need to be successful in the weird worlds of fantasy.

 

You’ve just left the fighter’s collage. Your mentor has just told you to go find your own path. You’ve just been kicked out of the circus. Your village has just been raided by goblins. You’ve just picked up your trusty sword, bow, dagger, or spellbook, and made your first step on the path to glory.

Now what?

You’re a novice adventurer with little to no adventuring experience. Based on your background, you probably know a bit about combat, can chat up an innkeeper, can read and write, and have some more minor skills and a major destiny in front of you. In short, there’s hundreds of people just like you in this part of the kingdom alone, and in a year, half of them will be dead or retired.

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At least for a historian. Seriously, those guys will raid your garbage bin and steal your receipts. And the humanity will be grateful. After a while. I’ve just put my hands on the last (well, fourth out of five, they weren’t delivered in the right order) volume of History of Private Life. It’s probably one of the best series about history ever written, especially if you’re interested in social changes, not the fates of battles and wars. And if there’s some study area I’d love more than social and cultural history, I haven’t found it yet.

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If you love the Victorian era and feel disappointed you haven’t lived a century ago, don’t despair – many things did not change anyway. Might be useful for your steampunk and Victorian-era RPG worldbuilding!

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Tired of feeding your party the same staple food everytime they go out to eat in a civilized place? We’ve got your back: follow us for some tasty medieval recipes, and historically accurate food lore.

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You know how to role-plan an elf. You know how to role-play a dwarf. An innkeeper. A king. A guard. A mercenary. But pray tell me, do you know how to role-play a woman? Read More

Last week I happened to review for you Jared Blando’s book on hand-drawing fantasy maps. This time we’ll go further – just in case you feel more confident in digital drawing or are just looking for some generators. Read More

You’re just starting a new campaign. Your last party got killed and disbanded, you managed to find a new Game Master, or maybe you’re just bored of role-playing the tank. Time for a change!

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Sure you want to draw a map for your campaign. Or your universe. I won’t be surprised if creating a map is where you actually want to start creating your world. Thankfully, there’s a book for that.

71im2hw7QNLWell, theoretically there’s also an app for that (kind of), but first, let me tell you about this amazing book I’ve got. It’s called How to Draw Fantasy Art & RPG Maps by Jared Blando (published in 2015 by Impact Books), and its contents are pretty much what the cover says. As the publisher was so nice as to supply us with trailer for the book, take a look:

Inside this 128-page book you’ll find tips and tricks that will help you with hand-drawing your map – even if you’ve never tried it before. The entry level for this tutorial is fairly low; the whole process is split into small, easy to understand parts. The most complicated things – like border ornamentation, compasses, and heraldry are discussed in highly-detailed step-by-step tutorial. And after spending some time with the book, following the instructions, you’ll actually winish with a good map drawn all by yourself! It could, for example look like this:

map3_1440x900

I know the Internet is overflowing with free and paid tutorials for mapmaking; but there is a reason to give this book a chance. If not for the sake of having a book about fantasy cartography, then for the sake of having  a complete, well-written, aesthetically-pleasing manual covering all of the important topics in the field. Just look at the table of contents:

  • Building Your World
  • Mountains, Forests, Rivers and Water
  • Town and City Icons
  • Typography
  • Landmarks
  • Iconography
  • Heraldry and Shields
  • Political Boundaries
  • Backgrounds
  • Painting Techniques
  • Putting It All Together

It’s the only complete manual for hand-drawn cartography, fantasy or not, that doesn’t give you this kind of meme-worthy instruction:

6a00d83451b31569e2019aff29b7cd970c-450wi

 

But what if I don’t want to draw my map with crayons?

So, you’re looking for an app. Sure, there are some.We’ll get to it next week, shall we?