Thursday, July 20, 2017

Adventurer's Almanac: A Goldmine of Ideas

"Adventurer's Almanac" by: Michael Curtis

Goodman Games just released a new product called the Adventurer's Almanac, written by Michael Curtis. This book is a 111-page system neutral game-aid intended to assist game masters by providing over 300 adventure hooks and ideas. The book is structured around a 13 month calendar which provides descriptions of events such as festivals, holidays, and adventure concepts that would be appropriate for the time of year. 


Like many game masters, I do from time to time fall victim to the fatigue of trying to come up with creative and new ideas for every session. This burnout is often the result of not enough time to prepare enough material for an entire session. While I am often able to pull off some improvisation to hold it together when this happens, it would be much more preferable to have some material on the bookshelf to draw inspiration from when I don't have enough time to peruse reddit or enworld for ideas to cannibalize from the graciousness of strangers who have been kind enough to share their work. This book is a perfect resource for both last minute game prep as well as long-term planning for an entire campaign.

Each chapter of the book represents one of thirteen months. Every month has an actual calendar that includes names of days of the week (typically named after an animal...I think my favorite so far is The Day of the Narwhal), events/holidays that occur, and moon phases. This book is perfect for something I have always wanted to include in my extended campaign that has been in existence since 2012. Measuring the passage of time and being able to point to exact days brings a tremendous amount of realism to the game. Another feature of the calendar is that each month provides an equivalent date on the Gregorian calendar so that a gamemaster can quickly describe things like weather with some level of confidence. 



Each month has a table of dates for that month and corresponding events and adventure ideas that could happen on each day. The rest of the chapter includes brief descriptions of these concepts. None of the entries go into extreme detail, so there is still a bit of work that will need to be done by the game master in order to fit these ideas into a running campaign. However, they 

There is a really cool idea that it is introduced fairly early in the book regarding character birthdays and astrological signs. The idea that is introduced is that a certain percentage (20%) of people born in a particular month share similar personality traits, enough so that people make generalizations about people from each astrological sign. If the role confirms that they have a personality trait associated with their astrological sign, then they roll percentile dice to determine if they will have a "positive trait" or a "negative trait." For example, for the month of Hardfrost positive traits include sociable, cleverness and bravery; negative traits include being predisposed to being a bully and violent tendencies.

While many of the events and hooks included are seasonal, just as many seem to just be interesting ideas that entire campaigns could be built off of. One entry entitled the "Invisible College" describes a judicial society that oversees the use of magic. If your murder-hobo group start lighting up each settlement they enter with fireballs, flesh this idea out to introduce some retributive justice to the world and set them straight. 

I have a big campaign finale coming up that I need to prepare for, and I have a strong desire to include a festival as a prominent feature in it. This book couldn't have come out at a better time, as I very quickly found a festival in the book that matches what I need perfect. What I want to present to the players is an Oktoberfest-like event that is supposed to be a way for a community of Dwarves to celebrate the season's agricultural harvest and mark the transition to focusing attention to mining. I thumbed through the Adventurer's Almanac for about five minutes and I found the perfect event. The description in the book for the festival of Dwergferi (during the month of Emberfade) describes a holiday that encourages friendly competition by means of the keg-battle (a rugby-like team event), the annual judging of the beards (how awesome is that?), and a ceremonial dance known as the Dance of Thunder and Flame. The entry for the festival also lends flavor to the meaning of the drunk-fest by explaining that it is believed that a dwarf's lifespan is correlated with the number of flagons they can consume. I hope to create some mechanical rules for each of these mini-games (which I look forward to sharing in a future post).

Final Thoughts

If you play primarily out of modules or are looking to pick up a supplemental book because you are looking for mechanics to accompany new ideas or random tables to roll on, then this one might not be for you. As a system-neutral book, you won't find specifics or statistics for things such as the Broadsword of Comedy and Mirth, a pun-producing sword that makes its victims succumb to fits of uncontrollable laughter. These specifics are up to the game master to design.

This is a great resource if you play a lot of homebrew games or have a campaign that is going to take place over an extended period of time. Most of the ideas presented are fairly shallow, and are designed to be jumping off points for the game master to flesh out the details and bring to life. Everything in the book is going to require considerable work on the gamemaster's part to put into motion, but the book accomplishes its goal of providing a nudge to any brainstorming session. It is also a neat way to bring a calendar into your game that can fairly easily be re-skinned to fit into your campaign world. All the fun you can have with character birthdays, random festivals when the story is getting too heavy, and a ton of ideas for quickly providing details to that session that you are expected to run in less than 24 hours.

2 comments:

  1. I'm pleased you're enjoy the book. Thank you for the kind words!

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  2. I've often tried to include calendars in my games in the past but they just didn't have substance behind them to make them meaningful, so I am very appreciative of this book as it covers an area that I think is often neglected in ttrpgs.

    Purely by coincidence I will be running Intrigue at the Court of Chaos. Looks like a ton of fun and I'm looking forward to writing up a play report for it!

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