This Means War…

Welcome back to the Front. Have you ever notice that when open up a history book or browse a multitude of news media sources odds are that it tends to be filled with wars and conflicts? The reasons for war (or “conflicts”) are very diverse. A few that come to mind are 1) that they happen in the name of religion, 2) in hopes of acquiring better resources/land, 3) national pride, or 4) due to one race wanting to eradicate another race. They may also happen in the form of revolutions against the reigning government and civil wars. (In some cases there are multiple reasons that these sorts of things come up.)

The signing of the Treaty of Greyhawk in Common Year 584 brought an end to the Greyhawk Wars that had spread such turmoil for so long… (Wizards Community Forum)

RPG settings have made use of wars and conflicts as a backdrop to settings for a long time. Back in 2nd edition D&D, Greyhawk underwent the “Greyhawk Wars” and Planescape introduced the “Blood Wars” — the never-ending battle between devils and demons for corrupting the souls of the innocent and not-so-innocent. [Caveat: I don’t recall that latter being mentioned in 1st, though it may have been. It has been a REALLY long time since I’ve looked at that book.] At any rate, D&D is definitely not alone in exploring war-themes within a RPG setting.

As a GM, conflicts in general give the potential to get the players involved (or at least impacted) in many ways. That’s right, I said impacted – players don’t have to be interested in the war to be impacted by it. Say the nation they are in lost a critical battle and fears about losing the war start to hit home… well, the first natural consequence of that is that prices start rising as people start trying to prepare for the worst. Or the government could shift entertainment to high gear to keep the masses ignorant of the possible trouble on the horizon. Does the latter remind anyone of the Roman Empire? The PCs may also get impacted if they have to travel into other regions impacted by the conflict.

Then again, they could get dragged into the conflict itself more directly. Do the heroes stand up against racial genocide? Do they stand up against an aggressive national enemy that threatens to end the very way of life they have known all their lives?

Obviously with a war going on the players could gravitate toward being involved in the front lines – either leading the troops or performing special missions that have strategic value but can only be pulled off by a small number of people as opposed to committing a vast number of troops to the effort. And the reverse can happen as well… What happens when a hostile group shows up quietly to take out a town so that troop movement won’t be noticed and the players just happen to be in the way because they are using it as staging point for their own personal business in the area?

In the last two homebrew campaigns I ran, there were regional conflicts going on, but the players weren’t directly impacted. With that said, the first campaign was shaping up for a massive coup d’état that would have dramatically impacted the players. The second one had a church that was in the process of forming a religious schism that would have had major impact to the players because it was the state religion. Unfortunately, the campaigns fell apart before we really got to that point in the narratives.

So let me ask a question to all you readers out there: In what ways have wars shown up in your own RPG games?

Until the next time, may you keep your wits sharp and your weapons handy as you try to traverse the battlegrounds that fill our stories.

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My Name Is … (Finale)

MechWarrior_2_coverSo the online game that I came up with my name was Mechwarrior 2. For whatever reason, my internet connection made it such that the easiest mech to fight in was a heavily armored Missile boat. I teamed up with a few friends locally and we became Clan Soulreaper.

As my handle, I chose Forged.

There are a lot of reasons that I came up with that handle. In Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy, she introduced the concept of a person being made a Forged One and stripped of all emotion and soul. That seemed to fit the Clan name we came up with, so I started using it.

A forge is also an implement to create things as an aspiring GM that always appeals to me. What new idea am I crafting up and how am I best going to show it some life?

Between those two memes, my online handle was born and I have never looked back on it.

Hopefully, together we will see what new things we can create that will inspire us to keep gaming and keep telling stories.

Though we didn’t get any takers on the contest, I’m sure we’ll have other contests to get your attention in the future!

In the meantime… War is on the horizon for the FORGED Front … I’m Forged Soulreaper and I’m at your service.

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My Name Is… (Part Deux)

As you well know, Fitz loves random generators. For some things I’m ok with them, for others, I don’t really care for them. Honestly, they are great if you are absolutely stuck … as long as the result doesn’t continue your being stuck on how two put together seemingly random words to describe something.

However, the reason I get hung up on names is simply that as a GM I have to make a decision on whether a place or a character is a disposable or if it is going to have a lasting home in what I’m doing. If the name is throw away, it doesn’t matter if it really fits the person/place in question. However, if it is sticking around, the last thing I want is a name that is going to gnash my teeth every time the chronicle revisits that person or place.

So what to do?

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The best suggestion that I have seen (and oddly haven’t really used to date because I saw it after I stopped running my last campaign) has been to make during your prep time a list of names. One for places, one for people. (Maybe more than one list for each depending on how diverse you want the naming conventions to be … like a list for names for characters of particular races or nationalities.)

For example, in one campaign I had the following areas and places as possibilities:

  • Haven – Haven’s Inn, Havensgate (used as a city name in one of my campaigns — I’ll probably use that one again)
  • Moonlight – Moonlight Market, Moonlight Tavern, Moonlight Amphitheater
  • Jester’s Court  (a haunted/abandoned tavern or an event nobles attend)

And here’s a list of names in the same world with a Russian-sounding starting point for people living in an area like Northern Europe and the Steppes:

  • Ilyana Ravenswood
  • Ivan Grimtooth
  • Boris Bonesnapper (Can’t claim this one as mine, it came from AC2 Shady Dragon Inn (basic D&D))
  • Marina Skystar

On this list you don’t merely want to cross off a name once it has been used, you want to make a note of how you actually ended up using it. Even if the character or location is completely throw away.

The goal is to make your world feel in motion … have the character or place come up again in later sessions. As Fitz knows, I thrive on trying to make my world feel like it is alive and that while the story is about the characters, there are plenty of things going on outside of what they can possibly perceive.

So what is your name? My name is Forged and the last tavern name that I came up with was the “Iron Phoenix Tavern.”

My Name Is …

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So Fitz has been hounding me for years about doing something more with gaming than just watch the world go by. Given that you read Fitz’s blog (here or over at Moebius Adventures), you probably already have seen a comment or few dozen by me over the last few years.

My name is Forged. I come . . . → Read More: My Name Is …

Some News!


Hi all,

It’s been a while since anything has been written at Game Knight Reviews and I apologize for that. I’ve been very focused on developing products and content for Moebius Adventures, so this site has languished a bit.

However, my good friend Forged (aka Mike) is going to help out with some posts starting . . . → Read More: Some News!

The Gassy Gnoll: Fireball, Fireball, Fireball!

The Gassy Gnoll Sign

Why do I feel like the Most Interesting Man in the World this week? (Thank you Dos Equis.) Might it be that I started playing a new wizard in 4e D&D last weekend and the first spell I selected was Fireball?

What is it about Fireball that makes it the “must have” spell in D&D? . . . → Read More: The Gassy Gnoll: Fireball, Fireball, Fireball!

The Gassy Gnoll: When Did It Become Us vs. Them?

The Gassy Gnoll Sign

Recently I was introduced to the idea of a “DM Kill Board” where DMs or GMs could jot down the particulars surrounding the death of a PC. Level and class details are intermixed along with the circumstances of the death. And I can’t help but be a little weirded out by this trend.

When did . . . → Read More: The Gassy Gnoll: When Did It Become Us vs. Them?

The Gassy Gnoll: Some Hard Decisions

Image Credit: Waving White Flag Clip Art from (by nicubunu)

We’re all struggling with something. Usually multiple somethings. And usually we keep on keepin’ on simply because there’s no way to stop.

Image Credit: Waving White Flag Clip Art from (by nicubunu)

I’m not depressed. I’m not sick. I’m not helpless. I’m just overwhelmed these days. Family. Friends. Writing. Staying healthy. It all . . . → Read More: The Gassy Gnoll: Some Hard Decisions

Designer Interview: Wreck Age‘s Anton Zaleski

Wreck-Age cover -Hyacinth Games

Back in January I was contacted by Matt Sears and Anton Zaleski of Hyacinth Games. They have a cool game called Wreck-Age, a RPG and miniature wargame set in a post-apocalyptic world filled with factions all with their hearts set on different goals… It’s a bit like Fallout where the world has been ravaged and almost left . . . → Read More: Designer Interview: Wreck Age‘s Anton Zaleski

The Gassy Gnoll: State Your Intentions


When you begin a new tabletop RPG gaming experience, whether it’s a new campaign with new characters, adding a new player to the scene, or new characters to familiar worlds… what are your intentions? Do you even wonder?

If that seems a curious question, it very well might be. It’s not something I’ve pondered until . . . → Read More: The Gassy Gnoll: State Your Intentions

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