Ryan McRae

Ryan McRae

Creator of Burn the Tavern Down.
Bringing Creativity Back to Gaming.

BTTD #4

Here are some of my ideas about gaming, adventures, and just telling great compelling stories. Let’s get going.

How an Absurd War Serves You

A lot of conflicts happen because of pure stupidity. In most fantasy literature, war breaks down into a couple of themes:

  • This thing wanted to be the boss of us and we said no.
  • This wizard wanted to make a thing and we said no.
  • This person slept with this person and none of us were on board.
  • Land.

But if you make a reason people went to war (whether a very large war to a very small war) a long time ago, hundreds if not thousands of years ago, some of the best adventure can be based around that.

Example: A rival bitterness between two cities because they held their flower festival on the same day. This caused both sets of merchants to suffer since it split the amount of people who would visit. Lines were drawn.

From there you can build: one town bans one color, one bans another. Each city limits the flowers that can be grown, thus reducing certain spells that can be cast as well as medicinal properties. And certain poisons don’t have an antidote.

But there has been a new development! Druids are hunted down because they won’t comply with what each city wants.

Because of this, the once peaceful god of beauty and fauna isn’t having this nonsense anymore and now something sinister is stirring in the forest between the cities. The adventurers have until the next full moon to restore the peace between the two cities before the cities are swallowed and consumed by rage.

Take a terrible reason to go to war. Then take it ten steps further. That’s where you find adventure.

Throw me some terrible (not silly) reasons cities or nations would go to war. I would love to put them in a future newsletter.

If you are looking for a trilogy around war and its consequences, my favorite series, probably top 5 is: The City of Stairs trilogy. What happens when you slay the gods you fought against? What secrets were they hiding? And what do you do when they finally emerge? You will burn through this trilogy. Cancel. Your. Plans.

Tip for Food at Your Game Night

If you are having guests over the age of 30, have a charcuterie tray. Everyone will love it and you can eat the leftovers while you type your gaming newsletter. That’s it. That’s the tip.

For Mac-Users Only: Using GarageBand to Enhance Your Game

If you own a Mac, you have a handy-dandy program that rarely gets used: it’s called Garageband and let me tell you that it is magic.

You record your voice on podcast setting and then send it to your players. Simply record the introduction to the adventure and send it to your players. When you sit down at the table, you’re ready to go. (If you aren’t going to change it at all, you can simply use Voice Memo.)

The ideas are limitless.

  • Record a prologue or little aside of your adventure.
  • A threat from a villian. A really mean threat!
  • A newsstory about your characters and how they screwed it up last adventure (great if you have a superhero campaign).
  • A diary entry from someone the characters know.
  • Someone giving a tour of the city your characters know or will know.
  • Create seperate audio files for different characters; they have tidbits of information they would know during the adventure.
  • Offer rewards if the players make their own and share them. Oh, the bard made their own original piece of music based on the characters and their adventures? I can’t even right now.

Here’s a three story piece I made for the Numenera setting awhile back. Did it in an hour and then just played around with the buttons. (Numenera takes place a billion years in the future. Little. . . context.)

It adds a great deal to hear something composed for you; and if you play your game on a Fri-Sun, it’s great to send it out on a Mon-Wed.

A Boardgame Everyone Loves

I recently started a new boardgame group, and we played Azul. It’s a tile taking game where you are making textiles and you want to make the most beautfiul patterns. It’s my favorite kind; from afar and from the first reading of the rules it looks tough, but with limited choices and a ton of replayablility—it’s a simple, fun game. Top 10 for sure.

Even though I sent my buddies a video of how it worked, we still went over the rules (I think I should have used this one. Much better.)

Well, that’s the newsletter for the week. If you liked it, read the whole thing or just, you know, scrolled to the bottom, I’d love if you shared this on Good Old Facebook to your friends, family and gaming group.

See you next Thursday.

Keep Rollin.

P.S. If someone passed this email on to you, you can subscribe here, and get to Burn the Tavern Down weekly. You’ll get emails on how to simply game better.

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