Hipsters & Dragons

Because roleplaying is social, creative, fun… and kinda cool!

Category: DMs Guild Publications

Jimmy Meritt Introduces: Here’s To Crime

Following hot on the heels of last week’s post, which featured best-selling author Jeff C. Stevens introducing his Encounters in the Savage Cities (perfect if you’re about to run Dragon Heist!), is the second post in what I hope will be a regular series of articles.

This time I’ve invited DMs Guild newbie Jimmy Meritt onto the blog, to talk about his tantalisingly-titled new book Here’s To Crime: A Guide to Capers and Heists… another perfect publication for those about to enter the cosmopolitan, crime-rich environs of Waterdeep.

Within two weeks of publication it’s already become a Platinum best seller, so let’s stop beating around the block and lend our ears to its devious mastermind.

Dear Jimmy…

Tell us about your book: Here’s To Crime: A Guide to Capers and Heists

We all love watching caper films, but it can be hard to capture that same excitement at the gaming table. We want the characters to be pulling off clockwork cons, but in practice the sessions devolve into dull planning session, and a heist that doesn’t feel too different than the
average dungeon crawl.

“Here’s to Crime” introduces a variant rule hack (influenced by the brilliant game “Blades in the Dark”) that captures the energy and mood of films like “Ocean’s 11”, to let DMs and players have high energy, slick, and fast heist sessions.

Buy Here’s to Crime on the DMs Guild

Why did you write it?

I actually wrote this for my home game! I love heists and capers, so I was originally working on this as a house rule system for my players. I posted an early version of this to Facebook and Reddit, and instantly received feedback that it was cool enough that people were willing to pay for it. So, I finessed it and tossed it up on the guild!

I think this is especially helpful right now, as many tables are getting to run the new “Dragon Heist” campaign. This rules supplement will really give “Dragon Heist” games a shot in the arm, and help it feel REALLY different from previous campaigns.

How about a little taster then?

I break a “Heist” into essentially a three phase mini-game.

Phase One, the Plan, walks you through how to run a short, crisp planning session. It gets enough information to let players influence the narrative, but also stays loose enough to keep room for surprises during the heist itself. A “Character First” focus keeps players involved, even
if they don’t have a lot of interest in tactics.

Phase Two, the Heist, has players overcome obstacles using skill checks, combat, and a special “Flashback” mechanic that lets the characters be one step ahead of the game.

Then, in Phase Three, a narrative heavy skill challenge lets it all come together.

Who the hell are you by the way?

My first game of D&D was played at my best friends sleepover – his dad insisted that he run a game for us [ed. the tyrannical power of fatherhood being put to great use!]. And I’m still playing with the same group, 26 years later!

When I’m not playing Dungeons and Dragons, I make my living as a raconteur. I’ve lived on the road as a touring stand-up comedian, I’ve starred in low budget horror films, I’ve run Dungeons and Dragons campaigns for middle schoolers at a summer camp, I’ve performed and written for a medieval dinner theater, I’ve slogged through performing in store live infomercials… now my
focus is on stand-up comedy, and Ghost Story telling.

What else have you written?

“Here’s to Crime” is my first piece for the DMs Guild, but I’ve got more on the way! I’m hard at work on my second piece, which will be a collection of short heists and cons set in the city of Waterdeep. Stay tuned to my author page.

And just for fun…

Please answer the following questions, with as much or little detail as you wish…

Your current PC
I’m the DM! Right now I’m running a Viking themed game, where my players are questing to kill the Norns to break a cycle of predestination and fate, so they can stop Ragnarok.

Your favourite character class
I play super rarely, but whenever I’m at the table I tend to lean towards a bard.

Your favourite monster

The Mind Flayer! One of my favorite things about D&D is that it’s not just a generic fantasy setting, there’s all these weird elements around the edges. Mind Flayers really hit that home by bringing in a 50s pulp/horror feel.

Your favourite official D&D adventure
Curse of Strahd! Reading the second edition “Ravenloft” stuff was a huge influence on me – it’s “Horror” tone showed that you can tell a lot of different kind of stories within a D&D context. Trying to capture different feels/genres is part of what lead to “Here’s to Crime”.

Your favourite unofficial D&D adventure
Enworld publishing put out a work called “To Slay a Dragon”, which they also converted for 5e with “The Holdenshire Chronicles”. I often like stories that sort of change the genre of what you can do with D&D, but this is a work that’s exactly what it says on the box – a party is assembled
to go to a mountain and slay a dragon! It’s incredibly well executed, and just has a classic feeling to it- I feel you could run it for any table and they’d have a blast.

Your D&D alter ego
I’m the tavern bard giving out quest hooks with stories of ancient lore.

Thanks Jimmy, it was great getting to know you. Where can we stay in touch on the multiwebs?

I’m a man of mystery! But you’ll often find me chatting on D&D forums.

Jeff C. Stevens Introduces: Encounters in the Savage Cities

You’ve probably heard me mention the DMs Guild one or two times on the blog by now. It’s an amazing marketplace where Dungeons and Dragons lovers can publish and sell their own homebrew content… including myself!

I often check by to gaze at the latest releases, looking for inspiration, but I rarely have time to read many of the enticing-looking titles cover to cover and review them (something I’d love to do in an ideal world where my job was to live and breath D&D every day! Sadly it’s not, although writing about Barcelona is hardly the worst 9-to-5 in the world either…).

That’s when I had the bright idea of inviting the authors of the Guild to introduce their own work, in their own words, and as well to find out a little more about these men and women at the creative coalface of the homebrew industry.

First to step up to the plate is Jeff C. Stevens, who introduces us to his favourite work within his Savage Encounters series of publications…

Tell us all about your book: Encounters in the Savage Cities…

Encounters in the Savage Cities is a collection of 26 short, urban-themed encounters / adventures written by some of the best-selling writers on the Dungeon Masters Guild.

The encounters are fully-developed and most include challenge rating scaling suggestions, which makes it easy for a Dungeon Master to drop them into their own game.

Maps are also included, both in the PDF and as separate downloadable files.

Buy Encounters in the Savage Cities

Why did you write it?

I like short encounters and adventures. There are times when a DM may need more time to prepare for a session, when only a little bit more experience is needed before the party levels up, when not everyone can make the game night, or times when the party turned left instead of right, and these short encounters really help in those situations. They also help inspire current campaigns, adding to and building off what is written, making it your own or expanding on what occurred when you ran the encounter.

I also wanted to showcase the great writers on the Dungeon Masters Guild. It’s tough establishing your name and products in this industry, I thought this would be a good way to give consumers a sample of writing from many different writers and styles. 23 writers contributed to Encounters in the Savage Cities, and each writer did an incredible job.

How about a little taster then?

Certainly! Here’s a snippet from ‘Trouble in the Docks’, an encounter MT Black wrote for the supplement:

The docks smell of saltwater, tar, and rotting fish. Above the din of the crowded streets, you can hear the slap of water against sodden piers, the clank of chains, and the rustle of canvas. The sky is shrouded in dark, heavy clouds, and the odd spot of rain begins to appear on the dirt road you are walking on.

A halfling pushes through the crowd, coming directly toward you. She holds a clipboard in one hand and has a pencil behind her ear. “Please,” she says. “Can you help me? I just need a few minutes.”

The halfling tells them her name is Seraphina Redport, and that she is a planner employed by the city council. She is currently trying to interview a broad selection of people in the area. Assuming the party talk to her, she will ask several questions…

Who the hell are you by the way?

I’m Jeff C. Stevens – a 47-year-old dude from Missouri living his childhood dream of writing D&D adventures. I started playing in the early 1980’s and I can still remember the all-night games we played over the weekends at a buddy’s house, living off soda, chips, and pizza while we rolled dice and slayed bad guys. It was fantastic! I took a long break from the game, but I came back when 5th edition was released. I’m glad I did!

Unless I’m at a gaming convention, those marathon D&D sessions don’t happen anymore. Now, I’m lucky to get in two games a month, even one game a month can be difficult with all the adulting we have to do. Plus, being a creator takes a lot of time. I wish I could be a full-time writer/producer but it’s tough to do in the RPG industry. I love writing, it’s been one of my life goals for a very long time. I wish I had studied writing in college, but I chose to instead learn about Criminal Justice – a field in which I do not work (LOL).

And what else have you written?

I have an entire product line built around the Savage Encounters idea. The first Savage Encounters product was Encounters in the Savage Frontier, which was inspired by the Storm King’s Thunder campaign. Then came Savage Cities, Savage Jungles, The Mines of Chult, and most recently, Savage Wilderness. Each time I use a mix of writers to provide writing for the books. Very soon, there will be a new Savage Encounters supplement available – Villains & Lairs. You can find my entire catalogue here, on the DMs Guilds.

I have also written 14 adventures. Several are also available for Fantasy Grounds and two are Adventurers League legal.

And just for fun…

Who is your current PC?

I have a couple PCs I use. My favorite is Gruntog the Half-Orc Bard.

Your favourite character class?

Bard. I’m a drummer and I love roleplaying. It’s a good fit for me.

Your favourite monster?

Mimic. There are just too many cool ways a party can encounter a mimic!

Your favourite official D&D adventure?

I’m running Tomb of Annihilation for my group. I like the jungle setting, the lost ruins, and the zombified creatures. It’s a great area to explore even if you aren’t running the official campaign as it’s written.

Your favourite unofficial D&D adventure?

My group had a great time playing Scarab of Death by Benoit de Bernardy. There’s a good mix of all three pillars of play.

Your D&D alter ego if you were beamed into the Forgotten Realms?

I would be Finnian Brushrunner – halfling Paladin to Tymora. He’s my character from the Curse of Strahd campaign I played in. He survived that campaign, so I think I’ll stick with him!

Thanks Jeff, it was great getting to know you. How can we find you on the multi-webs?

On Twitter @jcorvinstevens or Facebook.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén