Monday, December 8, 2014

12 Reasons Someone Might not be dead

12 Reasons Why Someone Might Not Be Dead
By : Jesse C Cohoon
Surprise! The person coming out of the shadows is not dead. Here are a dozen reasons why this might have happened, and the reasons for their return. Keep in mind with this list, that there may be significant overlap between these items.
1.      Faked Death: In a fantasy setting the faking could be done with an illusion, a golem crafted to look like the individual who was supposedly dead. In modern times it becomes considerably more difficult in that you have to change medical and dental records of the person. 
2.      Kidnapped: This can show up in a few ways:
a.      Unable to return: Maybe they’re being held in some sort of zoo for others to go and stare at. Perhaps they’re chained to the wall, their life force being used as some sort of magical battery. Or, worse yet, they’re being kept as someone’s personal play thing.
b.      Stockholm Syndrome: In this case the kidnapped feels sympathy or may even wish to stay on their own accord. They may watch their family from afar and see that they have moved on and not wish to cause the heartache that their return would cause after the length of time they’ve been gone. 
c.       Accidental kidnapping: as the name implies, it wasn’t the plan of the kidnapper to take away the individual kidnapped. In modern day cases this can be seen with a carjacking, and there’s a baby in the back steat. A fantasy example is Valka in Dreamwork’s How to Train Your Dragon 2, where she is taken away by the dragons. The accidental can turn into either of the two, above
3.      Trapped Somewhere: This could be as simple as being trapped in a landslide or avalanche, taking a fall that would be impossible to survive, or in the case of Gandalf the Grey being caught by an implacable foe.
4.      Mistaken Identity: The antagonist might have an identical twin or cast a glamour on someone to look like them or it could be that someone happens to look enough like them to fool the players.
5.      Left: Consider these 3 options:
a.      Didn't realize they were missed. Maybe someone has been gone so long that everyone assumed they were dead because they had too much there to leave behind. If they were alive, why haven't they returned by now?
b.      Unable to return: Maybe they were a part of a group of survivors from a flood, a war, or a fire and they felt that it wasn’t safe to return, but there wasn’t a “safe meeting area” to determine who got out alive and who didn’t.
c.       Unwilling to return: Maybe the character just had a bad argument and has determined that they’d never return home. Perhaps the character has too many bad memories of the place. It could also be that there’s nothing there for them, and thus going back would be useless.
6.      Resurrected/ Reincarnated:
a.      With Full memories: The person remembers everything that has happened in their present life until now
b.      As a totally new individual: Sometimes fate “wipes the slate clean,” and the ‘core’ of the person remains the same, but everything else, including memories, are different.
7.      Badly Injured/ Sick & Left to die: maybe someone was left to die because they were badly injured or so sick that others thought it impossible that they could survive, and they were rescued/ healed somehow.
8.      Amnesiac: a person who doesn't remember their identity, could easily wander off and become someone else, never running into anyone they previously knew. Can overlap with being badly injured.
9.      No longer Seen/ Recluse: If a person’s decided to abandon society and live in a creepy old house that has seen better days, eventually people are going to declare you dead and your house may become a target of vandals
10.  No Body Found: Maybe the character survived a shipwreck (or other mode of transportation), botched teleportation spell, or a building’s fire and it’s presumed that the person is dead.
11.  Undead: The character has survived as some sort of intelligent undead: a vampire, lich, ghost, etc.
12.  Final Shot/ Dying speech: after a character is thought to be dead they are able to give one final telling blow, or give a parting speech/ piece of advice before passing away. If an enemy does this once, the PCs will make *sure* that their enemy is dead before moving on!

Why are they back?
1-2 Revenge: They are miffed at the characters for some reason. Maybe they were left for dead. Maybe they felt abandoned. Or it could be that they are dying and the characters are the cause of it. Or perhaps it could be that they misread the situation.
3-4 Wants/ needs to reconnect: They are gone for awhile and they have a desire to reconnect to their roots. Maybe they heard news of a wedding or death in the family. Maybe they’re sickly and need to reconnect for medical reasons to get treatment for a debilitating disease. 
5-6 Accident: They run into people they know/ knew from before totally by accident
7-8 Something Changed: Something changed internally, maybe they stopped being mad at the people. Maybe they wanted to let them know they weren't really dead. Or maybe they're BACK from the dead! Or, conversely something changed externally – in that there was a job loss, a sickness that they could cure if they were “alive” again, etc. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Good Unexpected Events…And Twists to them to Make them Not as Good

Good Unexpected Events
…And Twists to them to Make them Not as Good
By: Jesse C Cohoon
Here’s a table that you can use to genuinely reward your players… but also gives a way of throwing a wrench into the works to make their rewards bite them in the end!

1)      Party: A group of NPCs get together to throw a surprise party for the characters (and if the players were too nosy, they'd ruin the surprise)
Twist (d4)
a.      The PCs are the main dinner course for a group of monsters disguised as humanoids
b.      The PCs are mistaken for someone else, and they ruin the surprise for the actual recipient
c.       The PCs are mistaken for someone else and must pay the group back for the time and expense they undertook for the party  
d.      The party is actually a ruse to capture the PCs while they are unprepared.   
2)      Help from the shadows: The characters have a person who has been helping them from the shadows, but doesn't want to reveal his identity just yet, and it's a surprise who it is
Twist (d6)
a.      The “help” actually is one of the PC’s old rivals or a much stronger enemy, and do it to lure them into a false sense of security.  
b.      The “help” is someone who the PCs find annoying or someone who the PCs blew off before, but is doing it to win their favor.
c.        The “help” is someone who is deathly ill or injured, doing it to prove they “still have game.”
d.      The “help” is one of the PC’s relatives who’s watching over them because they don’t want to admit that the PC grew up and can face dangers alone.
e.       The “help” is in terms of political maneuvering, bribes, payment of debts, etc., and when it gets to a certain level, they’ll want to have the PCs back them up in some nefarious way, and they won’t have any choice.
f.       The “help” is in terms of stashes of things the PCs need laying around (weapons, healing items, food, etc.) that the helper left lying around so that the PCs could escape or get out of a difficult situation, and now want help on a larger scale then they provided.  
3)      Enemies become friends: Someone or something that was or would have been a foe becomes their friend because the PCs helped them out or some other reason.
Twists (d4)
a.      The situation is a ruse or trick, so that they can entrap the PCs
b.      The change was only brought upon by a magic item, for instance a “helm of opposite alignment.”
c.       They lose a friend in the process
d.      They lose their class abilities for associating with the enemy.
4)      Honored: Rite of passage. The PCs are honored for some rite of passage (a wedding, funeral, or coming of age ceremony) that is seldom seen by outsiders
Twists (d4)
a.      While attending the function the PCs are charged with a crime against the entire people by their sacrilege.
b.      There is an enemy that wants the ceremony to fail/ be disturbed in some way. The PCs need to figure out who it is and how they want to disturb it.
c.       The PCs are expected to perform a part that they were not told about and that is offensive to them. Do they comply to remain or do they leave?
d.      The community finds the PC’s presence disturbing and asks them to leave. Which is more important: the honor of their friend who invited them, or the request of the community?   
5)      Won a lotto/ contest/ prize: The PCs win a great sum of money, are entered (and win) a contest of some sort, or win a prize
Twists (d4)
a.      The PCs get an unexpected rival for the prize.
b.      The prize is alive (a person or animal) [d6]
                                      i.         The person/ animal love each other on sight and have to be told to cool their affections of “get a room.”
                                    ii.         The person/ animal doesn’t like the PC who won them for some reason, but the PC likes them and must win their trust/ affection
                                  iii.         The person/ animal likes the PC, but the PC doesn’t like them for some reason and must win his/her trust/ affection
                                  iv.         Neither the PC nor the person/ animal like each other and are must work together for some task  
                                    v.         The person/ animal and the PC hate each other on sight and immediately begin fighting.
                                  vi.         The person/ animal knows the PC from before and it is quite awkward
c.       The PCs get an enemy because he/she wanted the prize more than they want/ needed it.
d.      The PCs are stalked because they have it in their possession and don’t realize its worth.  
6)      Favor of the Gods (d3)
1.      For the next X# of (time period) the PC can choose to reroll any die and take the better of the two results.
Twists (flip a coin)
a.      For an equal amount of time, the PC has the curse of rerolling and taking the worst of the two results.
b.      The PC has a permanent penalty to one stat
2.      For the next X# of (time period) the PC can choose to add a bonus to their roll for any skill, check, or ability.
Twist (flip a coin)
a.      For an equal amount of time, the PC has the curse of taking a penalty for any skill, check, or ability.
b.      The PC has a permanent penalty to hitting or damaging the enemy.
3.      You get a +X to one stat permanently  
Twist (d3)
a.      The PC has a permanent -2X to another stat
b.      The PC is cursed; all skill, check, or ability rolls (except the one so boosted) are at the same level of a negative.
c.       The PC’s armor never works as effectively, incurring a –X penalty.

I hope I have provided you some inspiration for to use in your games. If I have, please support me here: and visit my blog