Burst of Insight

Burst of Insight—Three Random Bursts

Today, I’m presenting a miscellany of three mini blogs. Why three mini blogs? Why not expand each one out to a full length and pad out my content? Well, two are time sensitive and only came to my attention very recently and the last one is an arts and crafts project I did for an upcoming Giantslayer campaign I plan to run.

Celebrate Monte Cook’s Birthday

Monte Cook Games took to social media to invite gamers to Celebrate Monte Cook’s 50th birthday and 30 years of game design.

The post reads:


Monte is approaching his 50th birthday, marking 30 years in game design!

THIS SATURDAY, Jan 27th, we invite you to join us in playing games or adventures Monte created, from Rolemaster to D&D and Planescape to #Numenera!

The process is simple:

– Play on January 27th.

– Share photos and stories about your events on social media, with the hashtag #HappyBirthdayMonte—that’s how Monte will see them.

– Afterward, go to mymcg.info/happy-birthday-monte, and let us know how it went. You’ll give us your shipping address at that time, and we’ll send you a little present to commemorate this event!

Learn more & RSVP here:


Golarion fans could break out a copy of Monte’s Curse of the Riven Sky a wilderness adventure for 10th level Pathfinder characters, but, whatever you choose to play this looks like a great excuse to get in a little extra gaming.

A Session Journal for Players

A friend recently contacted me and asked if I’d take a look at a project he was working on, a journal for players to record important details from adventure sessions: The project has since gone live and can be found online at rpgournal.com.

According to the website, there is some science behind the journal’s design and touts that its design will help you engage with the game better regardless of your play style. There’s some discussion of “task switching,” and how the switching between two mental activities can take a toll on your short-term memory and willpower.

Honestly, I’m only taking their word on the actual neuroscience involved but I know I’m not good at taking notes during games. I’ll jot down the occasional name or impression of a character but because it happens so haphazardly there is little organization and it’s nearly impossible to reference. On occasion, I’ve been called to be the dedicated note keeper in games and with some focus, my notes do get better and more usable but I’m less invested in those campaigns. The RPGournal’s claims sound valid (or at least they seem to apply to me)and I really like the simple compartmentalized design. I can see how having places to put the sorts of notes I jot down in an organized way will help me. Add to that the inclusion of party and personal goals, which is one of those “why have I never thought of this,” ideas and the dot grid on the reverse pages, and I am sold.

If any of this sounds interesting, it’s a good time to check out the RPGournal. There is a single page PDF available for $1 and pre-orders are open online for physical copies but only until the 26th.

Burst of Insight Makes a Map of Trunau

So recently during my preparations to run the Giantslayer Adventure Path, I decided I wanted a special map of Trunau. So I decided to make one that the players could mark locations of interest to them. While much of the AP happens away from Trunau I really want them to feel connected to the town and the inhabitants. I’m hoping the tactile and visual resource will help foster that connection. I also decided to give the map a hint of elevation. Not to scale elevation but a little something to make the map stand out.

I began by having a local copy center print off two untagged maps I extracted from my PDF of the adventure. You may need to shop around to find the best deal in the size you want. My local Staples offers a good price on color blueprint posters so that’s what I used here. Then I mounted one of the poster images to a piece of ¼” foam core poster board. Normally for a job like this I’d use spray adhesive but it’s cold outside and I’m not opening the windows to get good ventilation, so instead, I picked up a couple of the large Elmer’s glue sticks. It was a bit more work but it kept me from getting either cold or dizzy.

Next, I cut out thee two higher elevations from the second map and mounted them to a second piece of foam core. Then using a box cutter and an xacto knife I trimmed the foam core to match the town sections. Assembling the the top-most tier of the city, I used two layers of foam core.

Above is the finished map with the three main elevations showing. Now to be fair there should be a slope to the middle level and the highest should be much higher but the map isn’t intended to be 100% accurate but to be suggestive. Before we begin playing, I’ll pick up some small pins and let the players mark their homes and favorite hangouts in addition to key locations in the campaign’s early books. I’ll then hang the map near the table where the players can see it regularly.

Andrew Marlowe

placed in the Top 16 of RPG Superstar in 2012 and 2014, one of the few contestants to get that far in the competition twice. Since then, he has contributed to many Paizo and third party Pathfinder products, including one of the network’s favourite releases in the Pathfinder Player Companion line, the Dirty Tactics Toolbox. Every other Tuesday, he will be sharing his Burst of Insight, with design tips for would-be game designers from a decorated freelancer.