My name’s Bo Luellen, and I’m the co-author of The Keswick Player’s Handbook along with Johnny McLain. The Keswick Players Handbook brings to life a gaming world I started creating back in 1996 while DM’ing for some of the best friends a person could have. Since that time I’ve continued to run decades of adventures in my world of Arreanna. In March of 2016 I had a life altering surgery that gave me a new focus. I brought on board Johnny as a co-author and together we began a monumental undertaking of writing a source book for one of the nations. This month we completed the book and our work was picked up by the publishing company www.d20pfsrd.com . Today we are proud to announce that the book we worked so hard on is now available for sale:
The world of Arreanna is filled with excitement, danger and riches that call to bold adventurers. Inside is a chronicle of the magnificent nation of Keswick, home of the King of all Arreanna. Using the Pathfinder system you will have everything you need to dive into a world that blends the Arthurian style with contemporary Steampunk. Play a tiny mouse race called the Murine or pilot giant gnome built robots to do battle with unique Kaiju monsters!
If you think figuring out what PC you want to play is hard, step into the Game Master’s chair. The role of a GM is to present a balanced game which will challenge the players, give a intriguing story line and set up a beginning and an end. I personally follow the Three Act Structure found in movie making. I also try to incorporate Chekov’s Gun and a Deus Ex Machina to really enhance the danger element and the sense of high adventure. I’ve provided links to these concepts, and I’ll going into details about how I integrate them into a gaming experience that leaves the players feeling like they are a part of The Game of Thrones instead of an episodic serial.
Refreshing the Well of Inspiration
I’ve been putting together regular games since 1996. Finding new and interesting story lines is like nailing jello to the wall. If you do not find new plot lines to follow, it turns into the Southpark episode where everything they try has a “Simpson’s Did It!” reply.
When the mental well goes dry I pick up my backpack, find a park or a trail head, and I hike. As I walk through the forest I try to imagine what it would be like for a character who had a week long journey in the woods to reach a town. I let me mind wonder about the particulars of the journey. Why are they traveling? What quest were they answering?
As a writing and brain storming exercise lets follow the line of thought as I hiked today at the Turkey Mountain in Tulsa, Oklahoma:
As the heroes travel, I considered how they would eat and drink. You can’t carry enough water and food. You have to hunt for supplies. This means you would need to hire a competent guide with game hunting experience. What if that hunter wasn’t some pub crawler just waiting around for someone to hire them? What if he was a logger who was recently laid off. His family is depending on him/her for a livelihood. Now lets say that logging company that fired him has also hired you to travel to this distant town to pick up some mercenaries that will scare some farmers off their wooded land. This would give the evil logging corporation a foot hold on cheap land. So now the PC’s are traveling with the laid off logger, hearing his sad story on the way to the town. During the journey the ex-logger helps the PC’s fend off some random encounters, ingratiating himself to them. By the time the PC’s arrive at the town, they are fulling on the loggers side, and must figure out how to turn the tables on the evil logging corporation!
All this from one walk in the woods.
Imagination isn’t sparked by the on switch of a gaming console. It is ignited through new experiences, adversity and private mediation. Try turning the radio off in the car as you go for a drive, walk around your block or sit on your back porch and watch some squirrels scurry around your neighborhood. Modules are great to buy, and there are a lot of fantastic adventures ready for purchase. Don’t forget that the adventures your group talks about the most are the ones that came from the mind of your Game Master!
While the concept of a Sensitive member of a team cherished point of debunking by skeptics, their value can change the tide of an investigation. One role the Sensitive seems to play is the connection they can have with the client.
The Unexpected Councilor
In situations where emotions run high, the clients can become overwhelmed by the sharing of their experiences. In past investigations I’ve found the clients seem to gravitate towards the Sensitive members of the team. I believe this is because the client feels that their story is so incredible, they seem to be concerned with convincing the team that their recount is true. They want someone to know they are not crazy, and the supernatural occurrences really happened. To that end, they reach out to the team member who can validate their experiences by means of a sixth sense. The Sensitive member becomes not only a tool for sensing activity, but a councilor to the client. This too can be a benefit to the team, as they might get further information vital to the investigation that the client did not share initially.
The Occultist Librarian
During the Pope Lick Monster investigation case in Louisville, KY, our team came across some drawings on the side of the bridge. These were a mixture of pagan symbolism and Celtic letters. We documented the drawings for later research, but one of our team Sensitives amazed us all by translating it on the spot. To give him credit, Mr. Chris Gravatte was the team member in question. He is a Crowlian and an excellent field technician.
The background of the Sensitive is usually rooted in some occult or pagan practice. This can be a great resource to a team when they come into contact with some mystery surrounding such an element. In 1988 I was told a story by a librarian about going through her fathers affects after his death. She found a chest full of candles, spell books and incense. This was a big surprise to the woman, and she told the story like a tale of horror to scare children. At the time I was heavily influenced by my families religion, Pentecostal, so this story frightened me to death. It wasn’t until I started investigating and researching the occult that the particulars of the librarians story made sense.
To have a qualified expert in occult practices and pagan religions on hand cannot be underestimated or undervalued.
To Follow: Sensitives as an Investigation Tool – Part 3
My name’s Bo Luellen, and I’m the co-author of The Keswick Player’s Handbook along with Johnny McLain. The KPH brings to life a gaming world I started creating back in 1996. Among the many pop culture references I draw from, the concept of the giant monsters from the Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra and Gamera film franchises is one of my most beloved. As a kid I combed through the old TV Guides to see if there was going to be a Godzilla movie playing on one of the five stations we had. For you kids that are reading this, let me repeat; we had only five tv stations to watch. This might be shocking to you, but life was just as exciting without a smart phone.
From Film to Function
As I began the process of writing the KPH, I started looking at just how one would work a godlike monster that dwarfed the Tarrasque into a OGC Pathfinder supplement. The power of a Kaiju (giant Japanese monster) could lay waste to any city, and literally become a world breaker. To make these beasts work within the rules while preserving an element of fun was a challenge. How could I make a giant Mecha work in the mechanics of a game without driving the players and the GM nuts? The answer was, “The 1 to 100 rule.”
The 1 to 100 Rule
In the concept stages of game design, our team had to come up with a way for a player and a GM to have a rules system for combat and movement. We shifted from a super complicated system down to a simple one. In the simplest terms here is the mechanic that Johnny and I came up with:
The 1 to 100 rule says that 1 point of damage from a Kaiju or Mecha will do 100 points of damage to a non-kaiju/mecha creature, and it takes 100 points of damage from a non-kaiju/mecha creature to do one point of damage to a Kaiju or Mecha. The Kaiju or Mecha have this same rule placed on several aspects of their build. This makes a single step by the behemoths deadly to anything under foot.
This rule allows a sense of awe for these amazing monsters, while allowing room for a d20 combat system. This mechanic is much more in depth than this, but this is the essential concept.
How is A Mecha Possible in the Arthurian Keswick Setting?
The setting of Keswick began being designed in 2003 when I ran a two year long game in Tulsa Oklahoma. During that time I introduced an ancient race of Keswickians who’s technology had been forgotten by time. In subsequent adventures, the players uncovered underground ruins that had left over technology that they were utilize. As the game went on, by 2015 the players helped me flesh out a complete catacomb of an ancient city that housed the fabled Marcavis, the first Mecha I created, which was used to defend the nation against a Kaiju. To quote Pacific Rim, the players had found some truth in these words: “Stacker Pentecost: Today. Today… At the edge of our hope, at the end of our time, we have chosen not only to believe in ourselves, but in each other. Today there is not a man nor woman in here that shall stand alone. Not today. Today we face the monsters that are at our door and bring the fight to them! Today, we are *canceling* the apocalypse!”
There are several ways for Players to pilot a Mecha. By visiting the city of Zanfan, the home of the Mecha excavation and R&D, the PC’s get to see the wonder of the ancient world. Mecha’s as small as a horse or the 200 foot tall ancient wonders are on display. If you have the right training, you could pilot one of these and defend The Relam from one of the 13 Kaiju that inhabit the land.
My name’s Bo Luellen, and I’m part owner of the Third Eye Paranormal Investigators of Tulsa along with Candy Riggs. When we were designing our team, the idea of a “Sensitive” member came up. Should we have someone that proclaims that they are psychic and/or can perceive things about the supernatural that others cannot? Is there value in it for the client, and is there any validity which will stand up to scrutiny?
Sean West, the 2006 team sensitive in the Crown Hill Graveyard, Tulsa, OK.
First lets define their role in our team. The Sensitive’s responsibility is simply to get impressions, but they tend to get drawn into much more. To the client, introducing someone on the team as a “Sensitive” can get you strange looks. I find it best to keep their role compartmentalized, and simply announce they are a member of the technical department or the EVP sub team. It is important that the Sensitive member not give feedback during the investigation. This can cause confirmation bias on the part of the teammates. If a Sensitive says they feel more activity in a certain room, it is best to get that feedback post investigation. This way you can compare the data gathered to the impressions of the Sensitive. The above picture is of Sean West, which while on my team, he was able to cold read several case details that the client had yet to share with some shocking accuracy. I’m proud to say that almost 15 years later, we have his sister Leila West on the team today taking his place as our Sensitive.
The team Sensitives getting an impression surrounding an open grave in 2006. (Sean West pictured right)
Part of the responsibility of the Sensitive is to take a Zener Test prior to any investigation. As most experienced investigators know, the Zener (Rhine) Test is a way of using statistical analysis to gauge results that could show a probability of knowledge beyond the normal senses. For more information, check out Zener Cards. The results of the test are taken into consideration when beginning and investigation with a Sensitive member. If they score well, perhaps they are more “in tune.” If they score poorly, then maybe they are having an off day.
Leila West (front left in black shirt) with Candy Riggs (right in blue shirt) in 2017 in the Crown Hill Graveyard, Tulsa, OK.
In the realm of the paranormal, to have belief in the supernatural, one must be open to the abilities of not only the dead, but the living as well.
Coming Soon: Sensitives as an investigation Tool – Part 2: More than just Diana Troy, I discuss unexpected elements Sensitives bring to an investigation.
The new Pathfinder system supplement by Pick Up the Fork Media LLC. is due to be released in November.
What is Keswick?
The Nation of Keswick is a shinning beacon of bravery and chivalry to the rest of Arreanna. It is based on the Arthurian legends with a twist of pop culture. The war torn landscape shows the scars of cataclysms and disasters that nearly wiped out civilization from the face of the planet on several occasions. Now the small number of civilized races struggle to survive in sporadic settlements scattered through the land. Out numbered by the vicious races of The Wild almost 2 to 1, The Crown of Keswick is determined to defend The Realm.
What does this book bring to my gaming table?
New game mechanics such as:
Cache Renown’s: Organizations that give players an career path and an edge when starting their adventuring career.
Mecha’s and Kaiju (Godzilla sized monsters): Defend the Realm from 200+ foot tall monsters in equally massive mechanized robots made from forgotten and ancient Arreanna technology.
Well Crafted History: The designers have been writing Arreanna since 1996, which results in one of the most well organized and thought out histories to any campaign setting.
Mini-Races: Certain races of marsupials were awakened during the Age of the Purge. Play as cute 6 inch Murine (mouse), Dragon Shrews or Flying Chipmunks in adventures from a smaller perspective.
New Combat Rules: Mechanics developed for Mini-Races as well as Kaiju sized encounters that makes sense.
Brand New Classes, Races, Feats, Traits and Pantheon: Keswick has options that allows for them to play anything from a bold Knight from one of the 13 Orders or a thief looking to rob a tomb. High adventure is the order of the day!
My name’s Bo Luellen, and I’m part owner of the Third Eye Paranormal Investigators of Tulsa along with Candy Riggs. Since 1999 I’ve been investigating the paranormal. Operating in Oklahoma has brought some special challenges and opportunities. Many of the home owners who contact us for an investigation has shown a hesitation to tell their preacher or church pastor of such activity. While the concept of a living God who is actively involved in their lives is always a topic in churches, the topic of the undead or the devil is taboo.
When we are contacted by potential clients, one of my first questions is, “have you discussed this with your religious organization?” A prudent question to ask, especially in the Bible Belt. The answer has been an overwhelming “No.” The stigma of suggesting that you have something paranormal happening in your home can be daunting for a client to deal with. The gossip circles in churches can be ruthless, and clients do not want to be the target of some vicious rumor.
This point has always interested me. Some of the Mid-South religions have an almost cult like culture that, historically, has been quick to claim Satan’s involvement in any paranormal activity. Because of this, clients and churches generally refuse to address any tangible evidence of the paranormal. It reminds me of a hunter that only plays video games, and has no practical training in what to do if they were in the wild doing the real thing.
For those of us that grew up in the 80’s, we remember certain iconic cartoons that still make us smile today. The idea of a smaller culture living around a bigger one became a cool idea. The Little’s, The Rescuers, Smurfs, and The Secret of Nimh were but a few.
The new supplement book by Pick Up the Fork Media has integrated a rule system that allows for miniature 6 inch tall races into your normal campaign setting. In the land of Keswick, several small marsupial species have become awakened with intelligence. They set out to take their place in society, but are mostly ignored by the normal humanoid races. The player gains the ability to adventure as a tiny mouse or a dragon shrew. instead of battling dragons, you find yourself trying to rescue a lost child from a “fang beast” (a cat). Perhaps your set upon a quest to gather information for The Crown, as your size makes you a natural spy.
I’m happy to announce the paranormal podcast, Varla Ventura’s Tales of the Strange has dropped its first episode on iTunes. We are going state by state, interviewing and discussing some of the most interesting reports and cases of paranormal activity we can find. Some stories are from small teams and others are from historical events. I’m so honored to co-host, edit and produce this show with Varla. She has been an inspiration to me, and we hope you love the show.
In promoting the launch of my website and my upcoming book and podcast, I decided to advertise in a different way. To help with exposure, I picked women in my world that were strong, independent and fearless to participate in a series of James Bond/Atomic Blonde style photo shoots.
The first was Ellen Earp. She is a descendant of James Earp, the brother of the famous lawman Wyatt Earp. She has lived her life on her own terms, and conquered adversity at every turn. Ellen was a perfect choice for this project. She is beautiful, powerful and undeniable.
The second was Bridgitte Moon. A born survivor, mother and positive influence to those around her. She has overcome obstacles that would be keep most people down for the count, and found a happiness within a successful life. She continues to inspire the next generation in her position as a TRIO Academic Adviser at Connors State College.
At each stage of release in a project I will continue to pick strong women in my life to do these photo shoots with. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did making them. A Big thanks to the models for their time and friendship.