Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Heroic Dark Deluxe – Settings

Heroic Dark Deluxe – get it today!

I wrote the Fathom and the Knights of Callisto settings for Heroic Dark Deluxe.

In The Knights of Callisto, you’re a mecha pilot facing down against giant monsters living on one of Jupiter’s moons. Excellent anime-esque heroic struggle!

In Fathom, you play an aquatic person (mermaids!) whose minor conflicts with land-dwellers pale in comparison to the existential threat of climate change. Set in a primitive era, with an ice age approaching.

Waters Rising

A D&D 5th edition combat encounter for Tier 3 characters.

At the final confrontation with the Arch-sorcerer Esunell the Blue
(Ess OO nel), the party must disrupt his ritual to create the Chaos Knife!

Credits

Stephanie Bryant is a writer, game designer, bassist, knitter, and scrum master for Roll20. You can also find her on twitter: @mortaine.

Background of the PDF is by Sarah Le @sarahle on Unsplash.

Map created by Stephanie in Dungeondraft.

Playtesters

Special thanks to my playtesters for this encounter!

  • Alethea Martin
  • Crystal Grundhoffer
  • Minx
  • Raven stiffler
  • mohitmax

Downloadable Maps

Download VTT-ready maps (with and without grid) here.

Waters Rising encounter map

All My Circuits

This is a short game for several players about non-verbal communication and literal electrical resistance. Written with Toby Strauss and available in the Love & Resistance anthology of games.

Passport

Passport is a game I wrote with Toby Strauss. It’s a play-by-postal story game. Posting it now because Nick Golding posted his Love Letters and I remembered hey, we made a thing!

Passport

Moleskine cahier notebooks (3) - perfect for the Passport!You will need:

  • 2 or more players
  • 1 small notebook (a moleskin cahier is perfect)
  • Stamps and envelopes

We are going on a journey, separately. We know each other very well, perhaps family or lovers, but we are going to be apart for a long time.

Who are we? When does our story take place? Where are we going? Why do we only have letters and mail to communicate? (If you want to handwave the “only have letters” thing and just say that, despite advances in technology, your characters choose to communicate this way, that’s okay, too.)

Read the rest of Passport in You & I: Roleplaying Games for Two!

Can’t Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me

As we all know, the collective for “clown” is “a horror of clowns.” Last month, I wrote “Can’t Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me” for Trilemma Games’ Patreon-sponsored blog. You can find it here for free to use and enjoy in your games. It’s a deviously clownish adventure about a town that suffers from dangerous insomnia after a circus comes to town. As we all know, the collective for “clown” is “a horror of clowns.”

I really enjoyed writing this adventure. It didn’t take terribly long, and Michael was great to work with, very understanding about my weird ideas for this town.

The concept came to me at 4 AM, for a dungeon where nobody can sleep. PCs can’t take a long rest, but neither can the monsters, so the only ones functioning even close to normally are undead and constructs– beings that are immune to the needs for sleep and rest. I ended up scrapping the undead when I decided to add the carnival angle to it, which gave me an excellent place for re-programmed constructs.

Update: Some very creative people have been fleshing this out and posting their results!

Owl Drink to That

FAQ for Owl Drink to That Crochet Pattern


twoowlOwl Drink to That
is a crochet pattern for a cute little wine bottle bag, easy and fast to make, using the popular Crocodile Stitch and crocheting in the round.

It uses about 1 skein (100 grams) of worsted-weight yarn, plus 20-30 yards of black and two other contrasting colors for the eyes and beak. The pattern is crocheted using an H hook, but you may need to adjust for gauge.

You can purchase the pattern at Knit Picks for $3.99 (USD).

Pattern Questions

Send your pattern questions by email (in the footer of every page of the pattern) or leave a comment here on this post! (Comments are moderated by default, but I do read them.)

Is there a knit version of this?

Not at this time.

Rights Questions

I’m an independent crafter with a shop. Can I make this owl bag and sell it?

Yes. If you are a manufacturer who wants to mass-produce the design or hire others to make them for sale, please talk to me about a licensing agreement.

Can I use your pattern to teach a class?

Yes. Please have your students purchase a copy of the pattern, or purchase it for them via the Knit Picks website. The pattern is only $4. It’s a great pattern

Can I use it as inspiration to make a new design?

Standard intellectual property rights apply– change it significantly and you’ll be fine.

Can I use your wording for Crocodile Stitch and your diagram in my pattern?

No, those are mine. You can write your own wording and make your own diagrams. I used a free program called Crochet Charts from Stitch Works Software to draw the stitch diagram.

Baby Bestiary vol 2

I contributed the Pseudodragon entry in the Baby Bestiary, vol. 2! (Print | Baby BestiaryPDF)

This was such a fun project to work on! Metal Weave Games posted asking for last-minute contributors after a couple of theirs backed out, and I jumped at the chance. I love pseudodragons, and had a lot of fun researching old monster manuals for “historical interpretations” and then imagining such creatures in a “pet/companion” capacity for adventurers.

The project also showed me a lot about how to really engage your contributors. Metal Weave had a “Baby Bestiary Contributors” hangout chat going at all times, and would regularly post adorable sketches and finished artwork from the book as they went. They also included a hard-copy of the book for contributors as part of the compensation package.

In all, it was a good project to work on, both because of the content, and because of the project management. I learned a lot about how I want to treat my own contributors from this project!

TimeWatch: Book of Changing Years

coverI contributed the zombie events to the Book of Changing Years by Pelgrane Press. My entries are in the agent log for “Engineer Pritesh.” I had a ton of fun writing both this timeline, as well as the adventure that formed its inspiration. Now that Timewatch is officially out, I may use the SRD to publish it
!

Mx. Universe

Earlier this year, a couple of editors put out a call for submissions to their small anthology of LGBT-written/themed games. A friend of mine did some brainstorming and wrote Mx. Universe, a live action role-playing game about being non-binary and getting fashion policed.

There was a small prize pool for certain categories, and I’m pleased to say we won the “Non-binary experience” category… perhaps by default. Nonetheless, it’s a quirky, fun LARP that, like most “parlor LARPs” can lend itself to some fairly deep emotional experiences.

Mx. Universe is available in the Queer Gaymes anthology.

Mythics in Spaaace!

I contributed the 3-part campaign Mythics in Spaaace! for David Schirduan’s Mythic Mortals RPG about big fights and overpowered mythical beings. It was a lot of fun to write and playtest, and I made up a pretty solid structure for the adventure.

Ruins of Byron’s World

A while back, I backed Elegy for a Dead World on Kickstarter, and it’s already a very rich world of writing prompts!

thumbHere is my first story, The Ruins of Byron’s World.

I stuck pretty close to the writing prompt and didn’t skip ahead to see what was coming next, so my story is a somewhat predictable reaction to the images and music and writing prompts provided (i.e.: it’s not terribly clever). I had fun writing it, though, and consider it a good exercise in creativity.

Some of the other stories people have written are really amazing and good, though. I’m impressed and inspired!

Exploring the Kingdom

Inspired by the GameChef 2015 theme and ingredients.

This is a competitive physical game for one or more players.

You will need:

  • A note-taking device (notebook or cell phone with notepad app)
  • A path or trail in a natural space (woods, wetlands, park, lake, field)
  • Optional, but useful: A field guide

Take a walk or run, in a natural place, preferably with a friend or two.

When you spot an animal (insect, bird, mammal, lizard, turtle, fish, etc.), point it out to your companions– they cannot claim that particular specimen for their list, although they could claim the same species (even if the animal is in a group). Identify what type of animal it is, as far down in taxonomy as you can get. Keep in mind where you are walking; you probably won’t see a dragonfly in the Sunset Dunes desert landscape, but you might see one at the Wetlands Park, just 10 miles away.

Write each unique species of animal you find on your list and mark 2 points. If you get down to the genus, but can’t identify the specific species, you score 1 point. You only get points for any species one time. You can only take the 1-point genus score once per genus.

You have thirty minutes to get more points than the other players.

Night’s Black Agents Adventure: Day of the Wehrwolf

Pelgrane Press ran the Dracula Dossier kickstarter. As one of the stretch goals, I was hired to write a scenario for Night’s Black Agents, called  Day of the Wehrwolf. Interestingly, the scenario is a standalone module– something you can play independent of the Dracula conspiracy.

October, 2015: Day of the Wehrwolf is now available for Kickstarter backers in The Edom Files! It will be live on Pelgrane’s site soon!

Some Thoughts about this Scenario

The initial pitch was to write something influenced by Day of the Jackal, retelling the story of the 1981 bombing of Radio Free Europe by Carlos the Jackal. These are two independent but complementary sources. Day of the Jackal is a Frederick Forsythe novel about an assassination attempt on President Charles De Gaulle.

Meanwhile, Carlos the Jackal, or Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, was a Venezuelan revolutionary who plotted and carried out the aforementioned bombing of Radio Free Europe.

What I decided to do was write a ranging, international thriller scenario, set in 1981, that would give the PCs numerous directions to pursue “Carlos the Werewolf” and his cronies. There are side plots. There’s possible Vatican involvement. There are discos and sleazy men with too much hair. The whole thing can be trimmed to a single 4-hour session, or played out over several sessions, depending on the group and which directions the players pursue.

I’ve also been asked many times about why it’s a “wehrwolf.” There’s a German novel called Der Wehrwolf about a defender-style werewolf.

There are, possibly, defender wehrwolves, in this scenario.

Restless: Holiday Palette

Restless: A Very Special Holiday Horror

This is a palette for J. Walton‘s game Restless (PDF). This palette is, in essence, a pre-defined apocalypse to use to tell your stories.

3106128994_94dc2c576e_zNon-Survivors: The non-survivors are Santa’s Elves, driven mad with obsessive toy-making. They have broken free of the Workshop, overthrown their tyrannical master, and are now turning all the boys and girls of the world into toys. The  adults are gone– turned into Elves or just “disappeared.” The Elves are sweeping the world to turn every child into a toy. Their legions of marching toy soldiers and dolls who wet themselves are growing.

Survivors: All survivors are children, lost in a world where the adults have disappeared or turned against them.

When starting a card, choose a thing you might carry:

    • A baseball and bat
    • A box of art supplies
    • Enough blankets to make a blanket fort
    • A Swiss army knife
    • A doll… who did it used to be?
    • A storybook
    • Three pieces of clothing, all hand-me-downs.

Using these constraints, play Restless as normal, with the survivors and non-survivors building a story along with each card drawn at random.

200-word Game: Escape Pod One Launching

pdf-download-iconDownload as PDF.

pdf-download-icon 日本でのダウンロード (Download in Japanese). Translation by Django.

pdf-download-icon Español (in nanoludoteca: el titulo es Cápsula de Escape Uno). Translation by Juan Manuel Avila.

September, 2015 Update: I wrote a blog post for Contessa about the process of designing a quick game!

Winner of the 200 Word Challenge

Developer Statement: I woke up after a bad dream and decided it would make an interesting game. I wrote during my lunch break, and playtested at a local game store in the evening. We playtested several times, hammering it out and injecting some fun into it. 24 hours after the dream, it was down to 200 words and I sent it in. Escape Pod One Launching is a tense, cruel little game where you play astronauts with thirty seconds to get to the escape pods, or die. The problem? Not enough pods for everyone, and time is running out!

Escape Pod One Launching

By, Stephanie Bryant

License: Creative Commons: By

“Self-Destruct activated. Escape Pod One launching in 30 seconds….”

Objective: Be in the pod, alive, when it launches.

Set out one Escape Pod token per player, minus one. Pick a starting player.

Everyone starts with 4 Oxygen Tank tokens; hold only one Tank token in only one hand at a time.

On your turn:

  1. Set a timer for 30 seconds, then hide it.
  2. To take an action, throw a Tank on the table and narrate the action:
  • Move to a pod (required to escape).
  • Get in the pod (required to escape).
  • Launch the pod early.
  • Overcome an obstacle.
  • Destroy one Tank from a living player.
  1. If it’s not your turn, you may interrupt the current player to add an obstacle (costs a Tank).
  2. When you have no Tanks, you can’t take actions.
  3. When the timer sounds, the pod launches, with or without you.
  4. If the pod launches with you inside it, you win! Take a Pod token and select the next player.
  5. If it launches without you, you die. Play passes to your left, skipping anyone dead or who’s already gone.

Escape Pod Two launching in 30 seconds….”             

Tiny Dragons/Epyllion Hack

2015-04-13 09.49.28-1This is a hack to use the solo Tiny Dragons RPG and Epyllion together. Your entire Epyllion group must agree to the Tiny Dragon off-table game.

Note: Tiny Dragons is a solo game. Epyllion is a group game. This hack attempts to reconcile the two games so you can play them with the same character.

Character Sheet Conversion:

Epyllion Stat Tiny Dragon Stat
Charm
Courage Virtue
Cunning Lore
Moons (only increases with level-up) Magic
Epyllion Moon Tiny Dragon Magic
Stone Force
Storm Lightning
Void Acid
Spirit Ice
Liberty Fire

Note: House and Virtue are entirely narrative in Tiny Dragons, although both should be considered when deciding on your Tiny Dragon’s favorite hoard and diet.

Note: Although Charm is not used in Tiny Dragons, you can use it for any time a Tiny Dragon interacts with other dragons, other creatures, or even non-hypnotized giants.

All new drakes start with a breath/voice that can be used for all the types of magic. When you level up in Epyllion, you lose one form of your breath magic, but you gain +1 Moons/Magic.

Between Epyllion sessions, you can play Tiny Dragons with your character. In your Tiny form, you are not as mighty as in your full draconic glory. Thus, you cannot trade 5 Hoard for a +1 to a stat in Tiny Dragons. Instead, you can trade 5 Hoard for 1 XP in Epyllion. When you level up in Epyllion, your stat increases transfer over to your Tiny form.

To gain food, have your giant take a photo of you with your meal and post it to social media. This is a magical spell known as foodblogging or Instagramming, and the giants seem to love doing it.

In your Tiny form, you are also not as concerned with the Darkness– merely staying alive is a feat! Indeed, your giant will handle all Darkness-related quests while you are in Tiny form. Note that you might find Darkness-related clues and lore in your Tiny form!

End of Epyllion Session Move:

Your Friendship Gems at the end of your Epyllion session are converted instantly to Hoard. Have your giant collect enough hoard items to reflect it (using your friendship gem tokens for hoard makes this easier).

Start of Epyllion Session Move:

You may trade 5 Hoard for 1 Epyllion XP before the start of the session. You must narrate your adventures from your Tiny form to explain how you acquired your hoard. If your group doesn’t have time for your Tiny story, you can write it down or share it at the end of the session.

Encountering Other Dragons and Creatures:

Other dragons, perhaps from your Epyllion group, may be about in your Tiny form! If so, you can give each other Hoard if they do something that meets your virtue! If you encounter new creatures, you never know if they are a possible friend, an enemy, or someone neutral. Try to make friends, though– even if they’ve succumbed to the Darkness, most creatures are good inside and want to be nice.

Attributions: Tiny Dragons RPG is by Paul Beakley. Epyllion is by Marissa Kelly and published by Magpie Games. This hack is permitted by the creators of both original games.

200-word RPG Supplement: Moon Mage Compendium Class

pdf-download-icondownload as PDF.

Developer Statement: I ran an Epyllion campaign in 2014 for some friends of mine and their daughter. When the campaign ended, we picked up Dungeon World and decided to play it in Dragonia, but thousands of years later. Most magic is the human kind, but when our heroes encountered a dragon, we started to learn about Moon Magic, and the possibilities began to open up. This is a compendium class to bring the two settings together.

Moon Mage

CC:By, Stephanie Bryant

A Dungeon World Compendium Class for non-dragon characters’ use in Epyllion’s Dragonia setting. For the 200-word Challenge.

When you form a Bond with a dragon, the next time you level up, you may take this move instead of one from your class.

Moon Speaker

Choose one Moon and Virtue to revere. Any spell or magical effect that you cast may have the cosmetic features of that Moon, with no additional effects.

  • Stone: Honor
  • Storm: Bravery
  • Spirit: Creativity
  • Liberty: Independence

Once you’ve taken Moon Speaker, the following moves count as class moves for you; you may choose from them when you level up:

Friendship Magic

When someone you have a bond with demonstrates the Virtue you revere, gain +1 Friendship. The target of your bond decides if they demonstrated the virtue. You can spend Friendship (max 3) to add to any magic roll.

Moon Spell

When you power your Moon magic with Friendship, describe an effect which you wish to come to pass, and how it fits the Moon or Virtue. Roll+Friendship spent.

On a 10+, pick 2. On a 7-9, pick 1. The magic is:

  • powerful.
  • as noticeable or stealthy as you want.
  • without physical cost.
  • directed where you will.

Are You Sheriff Dullard? A Mafia Hack

Last year, for my 39th birthday party, I threw a “Red and Wild” birthday party, inspired by To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. In the movie, Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo are drag queens who get stranded in middle America, where they teach others to let their freak flags fly.

The movie is beautiful and still hauntingly relevant today, 19 years after it was first released.

At my party, I decided we should have a party game, which was perhaps not the best idea, since I tend to have upwards of 30 people at my parties, and we were all more than a bit tipsy. But party we did, and the game was “Are You Sheriff Dullard?”

It’s a variation on Mafia and Are you a Werewolf, in which the players try to deduce who is a hunter and who is prey, and systematically eliminate each other until one side wins.

My variation can be played with 8 or more players, and has two files– the rules PDF and cards for drawing who will play each role.

The images are all CC-licensed or public domain.

Investigate a Scene: A Dungeon World Hack

InvestigateaScene

When you investigate a mystery, rolll+….

A Dungeon World and Gumshoe hack to add mystery investigation stories to your Dungeon World games.

TimeWatch Adventures!

Hannibal Crossing the Alps (2/4/14)

TimeWatch has detected an anomaly in the continuum! It doesn’t sound too serious, but we’re pretty sure Hannibal wasn’t riding a triceratops over the mountains. Can your team fix it, rookie?

Recruitment Drive (3/15/14)

“Beware the Ides of March! No, I’m serious, guys– March 15th is, like, seriously a bad-luck day.”

“Maybe it’s just bad luck for you, Julius.”

“Nah– that’s the day I got recruited by TimeWatch. It’s still a bad mojo day, though. Listen, as long as we’re talking recruitment…”

“…. Yes?”

“I’ve got casefiles on a few good men. You guys locked and loaded and ready to rock and or roll?”

“I wish we’d never gotten you that DVD player.”

Little Boy in the Snow (4/7/14)

TO: Dariya
FROM: S. Connor
DATE: August 16, 2098
SUBJECT: Don’t Follow Me

D– Got caught in 2098. Underground bunker. Miscalculated Judg Day. Not sure, but I hear rumors that weird aliens are responsible. Don’t know– surface too hot to investigate. Stuck here till my autochron works again– radiation interfering. The machines aren’t smart enough here. Something went wrong. Fix it before 2075 when the bombs go off. –S.C.

Stop the Zombies (8/14/14)

It’s the zombie apocalypse, & humanity’s survival is hanging by a thin thread. Only you can stop the extinction of our species! Are you up to the task, TimeWatch Agent?

Zombie Dinosaurs? Oh, No! (8/14/14)

TimeWatch just solved the temporal anomaly that nearly destroyed humanity with flesh-eating zombies. Now we have to deal with zombie t-rex, too? What’s next? Trilobyte terrors?

Corporate Zombies (8/15/14)

Having solved the zombie apocalypses threatening Earth, TimeWatch is now struggling against the zombie threat within its very own walls! Can your team resolve it once and for all?

Vikings (8/29/14)

The agents are standing on the site of a salvage operation near Labrador, Canada, observing or working on a crew that is currently salvaging an ancient ship, dating back to <1000 BCE, just before the first known Viking settlement in the Americas. As the vessel is lifted, one of the agents recognizes its shape as being a German U-Boat, and sees the German designation on the side.

Moments later, time ripples. The agents are recalled from this operation by their TimeWatch superior, a sophosaur (previously a human named Lt. Fred Daniels). In fact, most of TimeWatch is operated by sophosaurs, and would the lowly pinks like to come back to the agency and get back on the serious work of bug-hunting the ezeru?

 

30 Day Worldbuilder

  • MagicalWorldBuilder for printing out at home or reading on a computer
  • ePub for use with many fine ereader devices
  • MOBI for use with Kindles and MobiPocket software.

In October, 2004, I posted 30 days of world-building exercises to theNaNoWriMo discussion forums. These are short, 15-minute exercises that can help you make crucial decisions about your world, and what you want your story to say about it. These exercises have been edited for general use and re-posted here.

A lot of times, people want to write a novel and think “I want to write fantasy, but there’s so much world-building I would have to do– I haven’t done any of it!” As everyone signing up for NaNoWriMo or any writing challenge quickly learns, this is really the self-editor speaking; it’s another way of saying “I can’t.”

So, give yourself 7 and a half hours this month– 15 minutes a day– to build a world. It’s not going to be Perfect or Set. Why would it be? You haven’t actually written the story yet, you haven’t tested its limits. But it’ll give you something to start with, something to feel comfortable about when you start.

You’ll need some way to track this stuff, by the way. A notebook is convenient, but you can track it on computer, a blog, whatever. For purposes of the exercises, I’ll refer to a notebook, but understand that just means “that place where you keep your novel notes.”

As of 2007, The world-builder exercises are licensed under a Creative Commons license to help you in deciding whether you can translate (yes, with credit back), distribute to your writing group (yes, with credit), sell (not without permission), reprint (yes, for non-commercial purposes), or mirror (yes, with credit back) this useful guide!

Glass of Sands

The Glass of Sand

An island for Inverse World which I will release here just as soon as my players are done messing with it!

The Musketgears

MusketgearsRPG  v. 1.0D'Artagnan_(silver)_rv

This is The Musketgears, a steampunk RPG  set in mid-19th century France, during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III.

The players take the roles of Codenames: Athos, Aramis, Porthos, and D’artagnan, the espionage successors to the original Musketeers. Now dedicated to protecting the weak and ushering in the Republique, the Musketgears are a force for the Emperor to reckon with… if only he knew who they are!

This playtest packet is being released in “alpha playtest” stage, which means everything might be wrong and broken with it. Try to have fun with it and let me know what’s really broken, what works, and what you think would improve.

Submit playtest feedback here!

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