'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

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Places of Interest

Showing posts with label Journaling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Journaling. Show all posts

Friday, April 6, 2018

The GMs Journal: Notebook selection.

So.... what mapping
programs are you
using for making
world and area maps?


A couple of days ago that question was posted to a local role playing group I belong to.

The standard answers all came up: Pyromancers, Inkarnate, Photoshop, Hexkit, VTT software and Campaign Cartographer. These are all useful tools, and although I suggested some of them, I don't personally use a single one of them.

I occasionally try and use the cool and fancy tools, but I never like them. I find it easier to simply grab my notebook/journal and jot down ideas and story arcs and finally flesh them out into maps and adventures. At most I sometimes organize thoughts in Google Docs. They never allow the ease of use that a simple piece of paper allows.

I like notebooks. I have always liked notebooks. I used binders in school with looseleaf paper and never liked it as much as a simple notebook. Perhaps I find the journals of the old masters inspiring. The notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci being a prime example. His notebooks are as important as his masterpieces.

I don't journal, which you would think based on my above statement I might do, but I do keep a sketchbook and that directly leads into my current favored set of notebooks for GMing. I follow an artist on social media named, "Jake Parker". Aside from being a cool illustrator he has some awesome videos about creativity and projects on youtube. One of the things he has turned me on to is the Moleskin Cahier line of notebooks. My first reaction was, "Must be nice, Moleskin notebooks are expensive!", and indeed some of their line, like many other journals, are pricey. He went on to show how they were resistant to bleed through with inks and could even be used for some basic tone with paints, and the best part is that they are NOT pricey. They are quite affordable.

So I went out and bought a three pack of these to use as my next sketchbook. The three packs will run you around $20, and each notebook has 64 pages in them. They are not huge tomes, but that is also a blessing in disguise. I liked them. They were easy to use. They are small and easy to take with you. The paper isn't pure white, and so you can add white to sketches pretty easily. Finally because they are not 100s of pages long, they are easier to fill up. That act of completing one gives you a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment.

When I went out to find a new journal that had dots or grids on them I quickly started looking over at the Cahier line, which offer books in three flavours: Plain, Lined and Squared. I immediately went to Indigo (our local bookstore chain, and maybe yours) and tried to buy a set. Squared journals are apparently more difficult to find. Off to Amazon I went!

I found a set of 3 and ordered them. They took a LONG time to arrive as I did not order them directly from Amazon and ended up shipping from the UK. When they did they were smaller than I had realized (being the 5"x8.25" journals), but in the end I think I prefer this size for most GM journaling. I feel it is a good middle ground, but I think that is a personal preference.

Like the ones I use for sketching, they are small, allowing for completion and that sense of accomplishment. They are also filled with the same type of paper that resists bleed through; I use a uniball pen and write on every page, front and back. The slightly off white color will allow the addition of whites to your journal entries if you desire.

Of course these are not the only notebook on the block, and they are far from the cheapest, even if I do think they are affordable. For the most affordable notebooks, which I have used extensively in school and out, the crown has to go to Hilroy or a knockoff. These cheap coil bound books provide an inexpensive way to get a journal. They open flat and provide an easy way to remove pages. The downside, as I have always found, being the coil interfering with your hand when you are writing near the end of the page.

I have again provided links to Amazon and the tools I have mentioned in this post. These are affiliate links and purchasing through them provides me a small commission. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Journaling Foes in Encounters for Conan 2d20.

Currently I journal encounter ideas either through Google docs or though a physical notebook.  Both of these methods have their pros and cons, which I am not here to discuss, at least not in this post.

I do generally try and break up each page into a single encounter, and when trying to include creatures that can often be difficult beyond having a page reference or a bunch of pre-printed sheets.  Creatures and foes in Conan 2d20 have nearly as much information about them as players do.  We know all of their stats and we likewise know what they have for expertise and training.  Most of this can be handy, but for a basic combat encounter, most is extraneous.

In combat a creature can strike and be struck.  If they are toughened or greater they can react.  They can do mental attacks and might have a few special abilities.  Beyond that we need to know armor and damage.  I have moved to an older school method of recording these. 

For a "Degenerate Warrior", a toughened foe I record the following right on the journal page,

Degenerate Warrior(T) V10 R9 S1 C2 M11/2 Ra11/2 P11/2 T9/0 Mr12/3 315
Stone club (M) R2 6cd 2H Kd,S Opportunistic Cannibal (T) C 4cd Area,P1

V10 = Vigor 10
R9 = Resolve 9
S1 = Soak 1
C2 = Courage 2
M11/2 = Melee TN is 11, focus of 2
P11/2 = Parry TN is 11, focus of 2
Ra11/2 = Ranged TN is 11/2
T9/0 = Threaten TN is 9, focus of 0
Mr12/3 = Mental Resistance TN is 12, focus of 3
315 = Page number.
Stone club = Weapon name
(M) = Melee
R2 = Reach 2
6cd = Damage dice
2H = 2 Handed
Kd,S = Special abilities
Opportunistic Cannibal = Weapon Name
(T) = Threaten
C = Range
4cd = Damage dice
Area, P1 = Special abilities

You may want to include any special doom spends the foe might have. 

Most stats/expertise numbers can be derived fairly quickly if needed, ie M11/2 means Agility is 9, but it is good to make note of the page number as well for quick reference if needed.