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Applesauce, Apple Oatmeal, and Session 2 and 3 Notes
Apple Sauce

3 lb. apples
½ C apple juice
1 T lemon juice
½ C sugar

Instructions: Peel and core apples and cut into large chunks. Put heat apples, apple juice, and lemon juice in a large pan and heat until apples are tender but not mushy. Mash apples and juice and add sugar to taste (Optional: keep apple and lemon juice mixture for oatmeal).

Apple Oatmeal

½ C Ground oats
½ C Apple water (from apple sauce recipe)
½ C milk
½ apple, cut into chunks

Mix ground oats, apple water, and milk. Heat and add apple chunks.

2nd and 3rd Session Notes
We did some research and found some nice people who we are now working together with to find a thief. We took a breather after tough battles against the books, and did some individual work and research. We are now investigating the old dockyard for rats and maybe thieves. We’ve already had a tough encounter with some thieves, but we also met some nice people down by the docks. Scotti is a very good smith, and I think we can all understand Vasili a bit better now.
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Cinnamon Dried Apples and Session 1 Notes
Cinnamon Dried Apples

1 tsp. Sugar
¼ tsp. Cinnamon
1 apple
1 C orange juice
½ tsp. other berry juice
1 tsp. lemon juice

Instructions: Mix the juices, put aside for later. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Remove the core of the apple and cut it into thin slices. Dip the slices in the juice mixture and put them on a metal mesh. Drizzle the cinnamon sugar mixture over them. Leave the slices in the sun to dry.

1st Session Notes
I’ve ended up with a very interesting party. They seem strong, but not so strong that I can’t help them. This adventuring job is dangerous, though. We’ve already been attacked by some very dangerous books, and I worry about what will come next.
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Finnian's Backstory
Finn grew up the only son of the leader of a clan of halflings that lived in a village in the north built around a gigantic cedar tree. They called it the 'Night Cedar' and everyone in the clan got a necklace when they were 10 with a piece of the bark of the tree on it. He had one sister who was three years younger than him. Finn didn't like it there because the clan was almost completely secluded from the outside world and he was pressured by his parents to do well in all that he did, because he would be the next leader of the clan. This gave him almost no time to spend on the one thing he loved to do, cook. It also didn't help that there weren't many decent cooks in the village, so he didn't have anywhere to learn, and that it was pretty much just wasteland around the village, so there weren’t very many natural resources for him to forage or hunt for. Finn felt cooped up in his village, and a few days before his 16th birthday, when he would have to start his training to be the next leader, he ran away from the village. He went to a dwarven village known for their artisans and begged them to teach him cooking. It turned out that there was only one old dwarf who had that much expertise in cooking in the village, and after much begging from Finn, he finally agreed to teach him. Finn spent the next two years learning all that he could from the dwarf. Still, there was a limit to what the dwarf knew, and there still weren’t very many natural resources to be found, so Finn decided to travel south, to the Crossroads, and then on to Zobeck. He found plenty of amazing plants and animals along the way, but he needed to get a job. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any credentials or anything, so the best job he could get for his cooking was at a temple to Baldur, the same god that he had grown up worshipping. Here, though, they were called Lada. Finn enjoyed the spirit of the temple and worshipped Lada in almost all his free time when he wasn’t cooking. Still, he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to adventure, to find new places and people and to expand his cooking. He put these desires into his prayer, and to his surprise, Lada responded to him one day. She told him that if he showed his resolve and belief in her, she would grant him the power to get what he wanted.
Finn worked hard day after day, cooking for the people in Lada’s temple, praying to Lada, spreading her word throughout the city, and one day, she told him that he could not avoid his family any longer. He found a priest who helped him contact his dad and he spoke with him, apologizing for running away but explaining that he wouldn’t be coming back. His dad, glad that he was still alive, accepted this but begged him to stay safe. He talked with his dad a few more times and then told him that he would be setting off soon and that he wouldn’t be able to talk to him for a while. They said their goodbyes and Finn went back to the temple for one more prayer. Again, Lada answered him, and told him to do well in her name. Finn suddenly found himself in possession of the power that he had been promised. The next day, he set off.
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The Handsome Blacksmith
At the feast Rara overheard whispers amongst the women about this handsome fellow, Maddox the blacksmith, and then giggles as he approached. He offered to enhance the party’s weapons. Rara wasn’t about to hand over “Tenderizer” to just anyone, so she accompanied him as he hefted both Valindra’s and Solera’s swords over one of his broad shoulders. She soon found out they were lucky to have such a talented army smithy, his skills were far beyond repair and maintenance of old weapons and armor, in fact they were exceptional.

Maddox had erected several timbers, solid and fir, like his arms, and stretched canvas from his forge wagon, creating a sturdy structure for his smithy, not cobbled together like the other ramshackle wedge tents or lean-tos. The embers from his portable forge provided a welcome warmth from the bone-chilling cold. His tools were laid out in a tidy row in his orderly workspace. Rara helped him stoke the fire and gingerly began pumping his bellows with her wry lean body.

Shirtless beneath his leather apron, his hammer began to ring steady and then picked up pace on the anvil, massaging the hot malleable metal. A sheen of sweat covered both of their bodies. As impressed as Rara was with Maddox’s endurance and skills, he was enchanted by hers.

An artisan with gemstones and metals, Rara embraced the opportunity to add a special touch to her friend’s weapons. First, with Valindra’s sword, engraving leaves on the cross guard, then embedding tiny emeralds on either chappe in the pattern of a heart shaped leaf. And finally, recreating a “forget me not” flower in the pommel, five blue sapphires surrounding a yellow citrine. Rara had not exactly purloined, but reserved some of the best gems from their adventures. Maddox disappeared into his wagon momentarily emerging with a prize, a piece of greened leather, from the hide of a troll. It made the perfect new grip.

Next was Solera’s blade. The sword had a quillon block, thick and hefty for a cross guard, which provided a perfect place for a dazzling set of six and eight pointed snowflakes made from fine diamonds. At the center of each snowflake was a brilliant blue sapphire, similar to the color of Maddox’s eyes. Rara first caressed and then tugged one of Maddox’s hammers from his bench, and suddenly began to assail several diamonds bashing them into dust. With his hot breath, Maddox blew the scintillating dust from Rara’s tiny hands into the sword’s indented fuller. After tempering, the end result was bedazzling.

Spent and ravished, the two collapsed from their sweaty endeavor. Maddox fed Rara some left over mutton from his stores he kept in his wagon, while Rara, ever the naughty one, shared her flask, filled with Gogondy, a deep red gnomish wine. It had its usual effect on a human, Maddox promptly fell asleep after quenching his thirst.

She hastily got to work sculpting a piece of jewelry, twisting some wire and bits of metal into the shape of a hammer. In the middle of it she placed a ruby, the predominant symbol of the svirfneblin race. She left it there for the satiated Maddox.

The next morning Rara returned to the blacksmith, she saw that Maddox wore her gift around his neck from a rawhide lace. This surface dweller wasn’t so bad.
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Posted by the GM
The Wounded World
10 Things to Remember when playing RPGs
1. Lean Into Failure (Occasionally)

You play games to win, and you win an RPG by succeeding at your goals (defeat the villain, get the gold, get more powerful, and the like). But if you’re a player focused on story, you need to look at things a little differently sometimes, because to win an RPG from this perspective is to tell a great story. And sometimes the best stories arise out of failure or defeat.

2. Anticipating Where the PCs Will Go

A good GM knows where the PCs will go and what they’ll do before they do. However, the GM doesn’t force them to go anywhere or do anything. How on earth do you accomplish that?

Players have their PCs go where things sound most appealing, interesting, or fulfilling of their goals (wealth, power, information, the recovery of the kidnapped duke, or whatever). And you are the one who controls the places and things that fit that description.

Sometimes, you can subtly encourage the PCs to go in a certain direction or do a certain thing (because you’ve got stuff prepared for that choice). You do this by observing and learning what the players are likely to do. Once you figure things like that out, you can guide the players and they won’t even know you’re doing it.

3. Leading Questions

GMs should be very aware of when they ask leading questions. Now, my point here isn’t to encourage you to avoid them—just to be aware of them. Sometimes, leading questions are valuable tools. But most players will read into a leading question, so don’t use them unless you want a player to read into them. This leading question is probably the most powerful in the arsenal: Are you sure you want to do that?

4. Speaking for the Group

Sometimes one player will attempt to speak for the group, saying something like “We turn on our flashlights and go inside the warehouse.” If that happens, just go with it. If the other players don’t object, it makes things a little easier and moves them along a little faster. You don’t have to get confirmation from all the other players. It’s their duty to pay attention and interject with “Wait, I don’t want to go into the warehouse,” or “I’ll stay outside while everyone else goes in” if that’s how they feel.

5. Answering Questions

Sometimes a player will ask a question that they shouldn’t have the answer to. Questions like “Are the police in this town corrupt?” or “Where do criminals fence their stolen goods around here?” Rather than saying, “You don’t know,” try instead asking the player “How will you go about finding the answer to that question?” Doing that turns their question into a forward-moving action. It becomes something to do, and doing things is more interesting than asking the GM questions.

6. Pacing Within a Session—Important Moments

Sometimes, though, it’s worth taking a bit of time with an important moment. An audience with the queen, the appearance of an elder god, or flying a spaceship into a black hole are all scenes where it might be okay to take your time. In fact, the change of pacing will highlight the importance of the moment and can, all by itself, convey the gravity you want. But here’s the thing about slower pacing—you have to fill up the gaps with something. In other words, it’s okay to slow things down, but if you do, you need more evocative description, more intriguing NPCs, or more exciting action.

7. Pacing Within a Session—Unimportant Moments

A GM who is adept at pacing will take this a step further, to the point of perhaps surprising the players, at least at first. If there are a couple of rather low-powered guards at the entrance to a high-tech complex and the players announce their intention to take them out quickly, the GM might just say, “Okay, you knock out the guards. What do you do with their unconscious bodies?” No die rolls, no game mechanics.

That will catch the players off guard at first, but it’s going to tell them about the difficulty of the challenge and the importance of the encounter. In an instance like this, the GM knows that PC victory is a foregone conclusion, and rather than taking ten minutes to resolve the rather meaningless encounter, they simply get to the heart of the matter, which is what the PCs do immediately after the fight—do they try to hide their infiltration or charge right in? Because the GM knows that decision will affect the rest of the session far more than how much damage they can inflict on a low-powered foe. Plus, it saves session time for the challenging encounters to come.

8. Enduring Player Agency

If you put a PC in a situation where their abilities don’t work, you’re taking away their agency. Rather than negate their abilities, require them. If a character can phase through walls, don’t set up the villain’s fortress so that the walls prevent phasing. Instead, make it so that phasing is literally the only way the PCs can get in. By requiring that ability, you’ve rewarded the player for selecting it.

9. Even a Simple Game Is Fun

The events that occur because of ideas generated by the players rather than the GM, and events that come about because of the inherent randomness of the game, are far more likely to make or break a session than the ideas the GM provides.

My point here isn’t to contend that the GM doesn’t matter. As someone who loves running RPGs more than almost any other activity, I’d never say that. What I’m saying is don’t put too much pressure on yourself as you’re getting ready to run a session, particularly if you’re a new GM. I’ve made this point many times, but I’ll make it again: RPGs are about group storytelling. It’s not all on you. It’s on the group as a whole.

10. Character Death

Sometimes in RPGs we gloss over the effects of death in the story, but that’s not entirely believable and means missing out on great narrative opportunities. If a character dies, talk about how that impacts the survivors. Have a funeral in the story. Track down their next of kin. Build a memorial. Do something to recognize that the characters in the group are very likely close friends and would react as people who have lost someone significant in their lives.
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