Adventuring Domain Guides

I was very impressed by Stormsweeper’s list of skill tests to be used while dungeoneering. Material of this sort is both interesting and has a lot of practical value - you could just about pluck stuff off the list randomly (assuming that everyone cared about being in the dungeon of course), especially for MG GM’s turn-type challenges.

So if anyone has the werewithal to cough up similar treatises on other subjects - wilderness adventuring, dealing with strange cultures, sailing, politics/court/the affairs of nations, the trials of great wealth, warfare, artisanry, outlawry.

…I’d be very grateful.

As three or four-page supplements, I think they make a lot of sense - they give new-to-BW GMs a lot of ideas, and if a campaign is clearly inspired by the Trials of Court challenge list, everyone knows what skills are going to be in demand. (It’s possible for a new-to-BW GM to never call for an Etiquette test, for example.)

I think one could make a good start just by keeping a domain in mind and reading through the skill list.

I haven’t seen that before. Would you mind linking to it? It sounds really useful.

My apologies, it’s Thor’s list, though apparently inspired by his experiences in Stormsweeper’s game.


Sure, I’m the current campaign I am running has plenty of wilderness adventuring tests. Making this list is just preping for that game…
I think that you will see some crossover from the Dungeoneering list.

I think this might be useful as well. Reading the Obs in a huge skill list doesn’t really sink into the brain all that well. I am doing a lot of GMing without access to the book these days (PbP), and as such, have just been giving a lot of arbitrary Ob 3’s and 4’s. Heheh…

I’m less arbitrary about it. I often ask someone “What’s your skill exponent” and give them a hard test based on that. Sometimes the Ob is pretty easy to figure out. Other times, I’m being an ass trying to drain my PC’s of artha.

I highly recommend the “vindictive asshole” route when assigning Ob’s.

I think that’s against the rules. The Ob is always the same for everyone.

Are you trying to decipher an ancient manuscript? That’s a Symbology test at 6 Ob. Do you not have Symbology? Sorry, pal. That’s a Perception test at 12 Ob. Good luck.

Yup, against the rules. Obs should be set by the difficulty of the task, not the exponent of the skill being used.

Also, wanted to say that setting Obs isn’t just an arbitrary process for me. Here’s my reasoning. According to the book, pg 15 BWG:

Ob 2 = routine action
Ob 3 = requires concentration
Ob 4 = risky
Ob 5 = requires expertise

Routine actions I am more likely to just say yes to, so Ob 2 tests and lower don’t pop up as often. If the player wants a routine test, they can make the roll, at the risk of failure.

Actions that require expertise are less likely to be performed by the PCs, unless they happen to be experts. No experts in my campaign yet. So, Ob 5+ tests are uncommon.

That leaves an easy choice between Ob 3 and 4. :slight_smile:

Back on the topic of adventuring skill test guides, I would really like to see some sample Obs in there as well. Give me some examples of some high Obs, and even some for Ob 1 and 2! I know there are Obs in the book too, but I think that we could get some really interesting skill test situations going on, tailor made for the domain at hand.

And how about interesting linked tests?

I’d take a shot at it myself, but I’m a new GM with this system.

Are you trying to decipher an ancient manuscript? That’s a Symbology test at 6 Ob.
Situational modifiers always apply to tests, so if you flesh out the details well enough, you can find ways to apply meaningful obstacle modifiers. And when applied correctly, you wind up ramping up the pressure on the PC’s.

And it’s really something I do once a player is past the point where routine tests matter for advancement. But I should clarify: I dig around for an appropriately high Ob within the rules. So they want to decipher Auntie Z’s Cookbook of Lore? Well, what do they want? Do they want a recipe? Ob 2. Ancient lore? Ob 4. Do they want to find an incantation in there? Ob 5. Let’s add a +1 Ob modifier in there because the book is old and the ink is smudged. Maybe a horde of goblins is bearing down on you - +1 Ob because of the distraction.

Routine actions I am more likely to just say yes to
This is a bad habit. You should only Say Yes when there is no interesting consequence of failure. If a task should be Ob 1, they still need to roll for it.

I rather think we’ve lost the thread.

Michael, get us back on track. Your idea is a good one.

I do have a hankering to get to some guides myself, but that’s going to have to wait until I can dig myself out of my work backlog.

I do have a comment about the use of these obstacles. An obstacle list like this gives the GM the chance to grab the reins and shove a challenge into the player’s faces, a bit like the GM’s turn in MG. “You return to the dungeon but find the cavemouth partly blocked by a large stone. Make an Ob 2 Scavenging test to find something useful to pry it open with.”

This explicitly bypasses giving the players any meaningful choices in that moment, unless they object and come up with a better plan - such as to get Lug to heft it himself or Madranona to blast the rock with white fire, or balk and decide not to go into the dungeon (e.g. until after scouring the place for clues as to who or what might have blocked it, or why). While some might balk at the railroading, it seems a useful way to add challenge and advancement, while keeping the story rolling.

Without the GM pushing for an immediate test, an obstacle like this might lead to twenty minutes of beard chewing about the builder’s significance, which would be a shame if the GM didn’t really care and was just trying to inject some texture. Quick, evocative tests seem like a good way to inject this texture.

From the ‘City Hazards’ challenge guide:
[li]“Make an Ob 2 Perception test to avoid stepping in chamber pot swill as you pick your way along the cobblestones. Fail and you arrive at the Bishop’s city palace smelling like a vagrant.”
[/li][li]“Make an Ob 1 Streetwise test to realize you need to avoid the priest’s quarter while armed.”

I’ll essay an on-track post here: One thing that could be pretty useful with these sorts of guides is some cross-referencing. In a lot of cases, there is overlap between skills. Let’s say you wanted a guide to smithing*. Some weapons and armor can be produced with the Blacksmithing skill, while others require specialized skills. Sometimes the obstacle is different. There are also skills from other stocks with slightly different coverage, like War Art. It would actually be useful (in a smithing-centric game) just to go through the book and cross-reference all of the skills/obstacles to make a knife, for instance. (Off the top of my head, you can do it with Blacksmith, Black Metal Artifice, Smithcraft, Weaponsmith, or War Art)

I have occasional moments where I look at a task and ask myself “Uh, what skill is that anyway?” In some domains (smithing, or even more so healing) the answer is “any of these, take your pick” but in other cases (stealth being the most obvious example: an intent might be achievable with Stealthy or Inconspicuous either one, but any given task will fall only into one skill or the other) the domain has strictly-delineated skills that do not overlap.

This is maybe a slightly different kind of guide: whereas we’re all familiar with the broad outlines of fictional dungeoneering, I only know a tiny bit about actual smithing and it’s still probably more than many gamers. So in the one case we’re working from a general task (move through a dungeon) to specific ones (dig out from a collapse). In the other case, it’s maybe useful to have something to take a specific task (fix the boat) and help us say “No, Mending isn’t quite right, you need Boatwright for that.” Personally, I’m kind of obsessive and I get at least a tickle at the back of my brain (“there’s a skill for that!”) but it’s easy to forget what has specific skills and what doesn’t. Quick: what skills can make a crossbow? (Attiliator and War Art, but not Weaponsmith or Bowyer/Bowcraft).

Actually, tell you what: I’ll take a crack at an Artisan Guide. I know we got some outdoorsy folks around here who could probably knock that right out of the woods, any takers?

If BW were a game about forging what you believe in*, this would be a pretty important domain. It’s certainly an area with lots of partially-overlapping skills, varying obstacles, and so forth. But I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game with actual overlapping smith skills among the PCs, so while it’s a good example I don’t think it’s actually a particularly important guide to actually write.
**I mostly believe in axes, why do you ask?

dealing with strange cultures
We had a sidequest in my game recently that saw the party encountering a strange pygmie tribe on a tropical island. Here are some of the things you can use.

Communicating with the natives: Foreign Languages, Painting (or some other skill that can be used to make pictures)

Identifying the Tribe leader: Foreign or Heretical Doctrine, Symbology, Folklore

Making friends with warriors: Power (to move the Rock of Might), Hunting (to slay the rare beast of Blarghhhh), Dance (to show off your mighty haka), Drinking/Drunking (to drink them all under the table)

Getting in good with the chieftan: Etiquette (to perform the proper rites), Resources (tribute)

Climbing the ridge to the mouth of the volcano: Orienteering, Agility (to keep from slipping), Climbing (to do steep ascents)

Leaping over ravines: Agility or Speed

Resisting foreign diseases: Forte or Health

Withstanding the oppressive heat: Forte

Learning about artifacts on the island: Artifact-wise, Obscure History, Folklore

Those are some thoughts that came up during the course of the game.

Ah, sorry man, my fault there. I’ve started a new thread over in the Rim to continue the Ob discussion without derailing this thread further.