Tuesday, September 5, 2023

5 TTRPG Supplement Categories: Which Do You Want To See More Of?

I've said it before, but in the event you aren't a regular visitor to this digital space, I'm planning on changing up my TTRPG supplements in the near future. It will take a little while for the changes to become evident (as it takes me a month to write them, and then another month or so for the supplements to show up on DTRPG), but I'm trying to get as much input from my readers as I can during this transition period.

And whether you're one of my regular readers, or you've only picked up one or two of my supplements, I want to gather as much of your input as possible so I can take it into consideration going forward!

Because an author is nothing if they don't have an audience to read their work!

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Supplements Come in Many Shapes and Styles

For a lot of us out there, TTRPG supplements are just one, big blob of content. Anything can be a supplement! However, while you can break supplements down by the game or setting they're meant for, as well as be genre, you can also break them down by topic.

And that's what I'd like to do this week! While this not an extensive list of every possible topic or category a supplement could cover, these are the most common ones I've put out so far. So if you see something that would really help you at your table (whether you're a GM, a player, or some combination of the two), please leave your input down in the comments, or tag me on social media with your thoughts!

#1: NPCs

Just as an example.

Whether it's the 1,000+ NPCs that are part of my 100 Kinfolk Bundle for Werewolf: The Apocalypse, or something like my 100 Prisoners For a Fantasy Jail, this has proven one of the more in-demand types of supplement over the years. After all, coming up with NPCs on the fly is tough, but it's something you have to do if you don't want your game world to feel too empty. This is, honestly, the category I use most as a Game Master, so it's the one that I tend to default to when I try to think of new projects... but is it the kind you would use the most, or is it one of the others?

#2: Things

After all, you've need something to read on that riverboat ride.

A category that gets a lot of looks, but which never hits the same numbers as NPCs, is things. Objects. Stuff. Sometimes describing these as "flavor" supplements is literal, like my 100 Fantasy Foods or 100 Sci Fi Cocktails, but this can also cover books to read, random pieces of loot as in 100 Miscellaneous Pieces of Tat to Find, and other such volumes. Flavor supplements often fill in those broad categories of a setting, giving you interesting details to add, or fun pieces of culture and style, like in 100 Fantasy Tattoos (And Their Meanings). This is particularly handy for those who can get the broad strokes of a game down, but who can get tripped up by trying to come up with all the details.

#3: Places

For those looking to go back in time.

Our made-up worlds are big places, and outside of the main areas where plot is happening, we often find a lot of rolling, empty space. The third part of the triumvirate of nouns is places, and though a lot harder to write, they come in two basic varieties for me. On the one hand you have a lot of smaller places that can be used as a snapshot, or to fulfill a specific role, such as the 100 Arkham shops pictured above, as well as 100 Space Bars for sci fi settings, and 100 Random Taverns for fantasy settings. On the other hand, though, you have supplements that have a smaller number of places, but which go significantly more in-depth on them (typically providing maps, histories, notable NPCs, plot hooks, and other points of interest). Supplements like Towns of Sundara, as well as 10 Fantasy Villages, are perfect examples of this kind of format.

#4: Factions

Every game has factions, but we sometimes forget there should be more of them at play than whatever side the PCs belong to, and whoever represents the villain. These factions might be smaller antagonists, allies of your cause, or just parts of the world to make things feel fully fleshed-out, but they usually tend to make most games better overall.

As with places, factions tend to come in two varieties for me. There's supplements with a lot of factions, but which only give brief overviews, like you get with 100 Knightly Orders For a Sci Fi Setting, or 100 Gangs For Your Urban Campaigns. And then there's supplements where you get fewer factions, but they're far more in-depth, usually covering their history, motivations, sample NPCs, rumors about the faction, and some kind of mechanical benefit one gets for joining them. Examples of these bigger, more in-depth factions can be found in Sellswords of Sundara (for DND 5E or Pathfinder), Cults of Sundara (for DND 5E and Pathfinder), as well as in Guilds of Sundara (for DND 5E and Pathfinder).

#5: Modules

For those looking for some dark fey danger, check this one out!

I've said it before, but I feel I need to say it at least one more time. While modules are the main supplement a lot of us think of, they're the toughest ones to actually sell. Part of that's because they're usually game specific, but part of it is that the amount of energy and work they take is just tough to make a return on investment with. And, of course, a lot of GMs want to make their own stories from the ground up, rather than using anything written by someone else.

In addition to The Price of Iron (a module with dark fey and terrible risks), I've written False Valor (a murder mystery where you get to kick fantasy Proud Boys in the teeth), Ghosts of Sorrow Marsh (a horrific adventure where a town is besieged by terrors from the marsh that surrounds it), and The Curse of Sapphire Lake (the hate child of Beowulf and Friday the 13th). I'm not averse to writing more modules for other systems (I should have between 1 and 2 Pathfinder Classic modules finally coming out onto the market in the near future), but they're a truly tough sell for the amount of work they take.

Cast Your Vote!

I try not to pluck ideas from the void, and just hope there are gamers out there who'd be interested in them. So if one of these five categories appeals to you as a player or a Game Master, please leave it in the comments below, or on whatever social media platform you were on when you found this article! Even better, find me at my socials below, and drop me a line to let me know.

Lastly, I know I didn't include fiction as a category here. But if you like game tie-in fiction, I'd highly recommend checking out some of my previous work like Tales From The Moot for Werewolf: The Apocalypse, The Irregulars for Pathfinder, or even my recently re-released dystopian sci fi thriller Old Soldiers!

And if you're a fan of audio dramas, make sure you check out the Azukail Games YouTube channel, and take a listen to the dozens of tales we've got up so far! We're still over 1.5 thousands hours of listen time away from getting monetized, so please stop in and take a listen... we need all the help we can get!

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  1. You are starting to change my mind about the World of Darkness, I would like to hear more fiction from that realm. I am always interested in Pathfinder content. One area I don't think you have tapped yet are your experiences as a GM or Storyteller, you can tell us what worked and what failed for you in the past.

  2. I generally like places and factions. Good for flavor in lots of uses

  3. I would be most likely to use a book of NPCs or an adventure module. But my real vote is just "not factions."

    Like you said, a lot of GMs like to come up with their own stories, and that includes me. In the course of writing those stories, I very often want to use a dungeon or quest that's already made, so modules are pretty useful. If I want to run a dungeon involving a group of vampires holed up in a frozen castle in the wilderness, I can download an adventure module with that concept, and it saves me many hours of work. The fact that it can be inserted into my own ongoing campaign is what makes it modular. But I find it extremely hard to use any kind of factions outside of the specific world they're designed for. The details just don't make sense anywhere else.