Monday, July 8, 2024

More Pseudoskills

In our new campaign, one of the players created a pseudoskill for his character, an unconventional healer using the Physician skill house rule.

Chemist + Physician = Paracelsian Medicine

Not gonna lie, I was pretty excited to see this idea of creating specialty skills out of the standard skill list take root in another player's character.

Here are some additional ideas for pseudoskills.

Oratory + Bargaining = Negotiation
I created this one for my own character, a smooth talking Student of Law, and used it to help his landlord get an investment loan to become an olive oil merchant. Negotiation is the polite or refined form of hustling, as represented by the Bargaining skill.

Oratory + Literacy Master = Poetry
Oratory + Seduction = Sonnetry
This one was also for my character - I wanted to make poetry a thing for him, a part of his Occitan heritage. These are pretty self-explanatory; one normally doesn't take check marks for Literacy, but a character pursuing this as a pseudoskill should be permitted to do so, using Wit as the defining attribute.

Oratory + Theology = Preaching
The ability to deliver a rousing or edifying sermon or a moving eulogy, this is an obvious choice for priests and ministers.

Theology + History = Hagiography
Hagiography is the "lives of the saints" - this is useful for identifying the connection between a saint's name and a location or an organization, similar to the Heraldry skill, or for invoking the proper patron for blessing an activity.

Horsemanship + Polearms = Jousting
Jousting was still a thing in early modern France; frex, jousts were held as part of Louis XIII's coronation celebration and appear in Richard Lester's 1973 epic The Three Musketeers. This could be a remarkable alternative to rapiers and pistols as a dueling challenge!

Magistracy + Pilot = Maritime Law
Magistracy + Heraldry = Salic Law
Two more areas of legal expertise, the law of the sea and the law of noble succession.

Friday, June 28, 2024

A Small Footprint, Or A Curious Omission

I stumbled across a review of Flashing Blades by Arthur at Refereeing and Reflection: Tangled Thoughts On RPGs and Related Hobbies published about seven years ago. Here's a short excerpt.
What’s even more interesting to me than these rules themselves, however, is Pettigrew’s notes on their use. He makes the entirely fair point that they aren’t necessarily going to suit all groups – especially if you’re just running a one-shot – but for the purposes of an ongoing campaign they can add a heap of flavour. On top of that, he even makes the point that you can use them to break up periods of adventuring (with one or two adventures happening a year) and make a truly generational game, with the campaign unfolding over a span of years. This I find fascinating because it has Pettigrew enunciating, a full year before it was published, the concept of generational play over an epic span of history which became a major factor in Pendragon – thus anticipating a widely-celebrated innovation in game design and in the idea of what a campaign might cover.
I find it intriguing that FB still gets positive reviews, in this instance thirty-three years after it was released, as well as a well-deserved call-out for innovation in roleplaying games.

It's rare that I find anyone with anything bad to say about the game. Many of the retrospectives I read over the years speak highly of Flashing Blades, and the stories of different campaigns are fun to read. And that made me curious: how big a foootprint did this fun, innovative game make when it was released?

If the major roleplaying game magazines of the mid-Eighties are any indicator, Flashing Blades didn't even leave a pinky toeprint. A search of the indices of Dragon, Polyhedron, Space Gamer, and White Dwarf don't mention the game at all: no reviews, no articles, no adventures, nothing. Only Different Worlds mentions it, with reviews of the core rules and the Parisian Adventure and High Seas supplements.

That makes the game's continuing good vibes, which appear to be largely a blogosphere phenomenon, all the more fascinating forty years after its release.

Monday, June 24, 2024

You Got Your Boot Hill In My Flashing Blades! Reputation and Non-Player Character Reactions

Other gamers are suprised sometimes when I'm asked about my favorite roleplaying game and I tell them it's original, "classic" Traveller. In fact, I've played more Traveller over the years than any other game, roleplaying or otherwise. As a result, I've internalized a lot of Traveller's rules, which is why when I need something like a reaction table or encounter ranges or something, I tend to default back to the system I know so well.

When I returned to Flashing Blades about thirteen or fourteen years ago, I brought in Traveller's reaction table; random non-player reactions are something of a cornerstone to how I referee roleplaying games, and I can recite the little black book table and its modifiers from memory. In the years since I last ran FB, however, I played in a three-year Boot Hill campaign, which has my favorite reaction table in roleplaying games, full stop.

The first thing to understand is that 2e BH doesn't have a "social attribute" for player characters: no Charm, no Charisma, no Fellowship. It also lacks social skills, or really any skills at all, and the original rules include only one social rule, minor (non-player) character morale. Boot Hill's NPC Reaction Table was introduced in its first published module, BH1 Mad Mesa, and it was included again in BH2 Lost Conquistador Mine. For a game with no social attribute or skills, it's absolute genius, a rule based on the adventurer's reputation, built from the player character's actions and standing in the setting.

So as I start a new Flashing Blades campaign, I'm changing up my reaction table. Now there's one important difference between BH and FB; the lattter has attributes and skills affecting social interactions, so the challenge before me is to incorporate those while keeping the essence of a reputation based system. First, there are a few small changes to the reaction tables as published in Mad Mesa and Lost Conquistador Mine - we made some of these same changes when we played our Boot Hill campaign years back.

NPC Reaction Table
Roll Reaction
2 or less Deadly - NPC will attack at slightest provocation
3 Hostile - NPC will attack if player makes slightest threatening move
4 Insulting - NPC tries to pick a fight
5 Suspicious - NPC watches character closely
6 Undecided - NPC watches character
7 Undecided - NPC is cautious
8 Friendly - NPC is off-guard
9 Trusting - NPC is friendly and does not suspect character
10 Helpful - NPC will give reasonable aid
11 Helpful - NPC is willing to join character
12 or more Loyal - NPC is willing to risk his or her life for character

Reaction Roll Modification
-4 Character has killed a friend of the NPC
-2 Character has killed someone known to the NPC
-2 Character is caught performing a criminal action
-1 Character is a known criminal
-3 Character is a known enemy
-1 Character is a stranger
-2 An argument is currently in progress between the character and the NPC
-1 NPC is drunk
+1 Character has previously helped the NPC
+1 Character and NPC are together in the same group
+1 Character refrained from killing a friend of the NPC when given the chance
+1 Character is an individual known to have performed a heroic deed
+2 Character has saved the NPC's life
+2 Character is a known friend
-3 to +3 Character skill check results

Now, Flashing Blades has six social skills: Bargaining, Bribery, Captaincy, Etiquette, Oratory, and Seduction. As presented in the adventures, social skills are pretty straightfoward rolls against an attribute, as seen in thie example from An Ambassador's Tales.
The player-characters must be fairly tactful about dealing with the explosive cake and saving the Ambassador. The Bavarian chocolate cake is the Emperor's pride and joy, and any violent destruction of the pastries or ill-concealed removal might result in a bad scene. Clever characters may think of special excuses for removing the cake (e.g. saying that M. de Bienvenu has been advised by his doctor to avoid sweets, or, perhaps, that he is allergic to chocolate). Similarly, they might 'switch' cakes with him. Otherwise, some player-character with Etiquette skill must make a successful roll against Charm to avoid a scene. - "Habsburg Hospitality," An Ambassador's Tales, p. 8, emphasis added
One of the problems I have with a system that depends on an attribute or skill roll is that the universe comes to be defined by the character sheet. Persuade the count to loan the adventurers four horses? Oratory roll against Charm. Make sparkling small talk with the baroness over supper? Etiquette roll against Charm. Bribe the guard captain to overlook a transgression? Bribery roll against Wit. This is very unsatisfying to me. I jumped through a variety of hoops to make this work in my last FB campaign, but given how smoothly the combination of reputation and morale worked together to create nuanced social system for BH, I want FB social skills to fit into this framework.

The solution is, a social skill check becomes another modifier to the reaction table. Taking a cue from Flashing Blades' combat rules, a social skill check is a simple attribute check but the results will be handled similar to extra damage (4.53 Weapon Damage, p. 17) for serious wounds.

Modifier Social Skill Check Result
+3 Roll of 1 exactly, at referee's discretion
+2 Roll of one-half or less of skill value
+1 Roll of more than one-half of skill value to skill value exactly
-1 Roll of one more than skill value to half-again skill value
-2 Roll of more than half-again skill value
-3 Roll of 20 exactly, at referee's discretion
Example: Jacques has Charm 12 and Etiquette skill. He wants to impress a potential mistress with his manners. The referee determines the skill check number is 14 - Charm 12 with +2 bonus for Etiquette - and Jacques' player rolls a six on 1D20. In addition to whatever modifiers he has for reputation, Jacques gets an additional +2 modifier to the reaction roll to see if the mistress is indeed impressed by Jacques' rizz.
Flashing Blades lacks a Bravery score like Boot Hill, but for purposes of rounding this into a social system, a Wit check will work; if the situation is especially complex, or the non-player character is particularly significant, the referee can even call for opposed Wit checks. Together the skill-influenced reaction roll coupled with a Wit roll produces something comparable to what we used for BH while maintaining the role of FB social skills and skill checks:
  • Negative reaction, fails Wit? Cowed
  • Neutral reaction, fails Wit? Resentful compliance
  • Positive reaction, fails Wit? Possible ally
  • Negative reaction, passes Wit? Possible enemy
  • Neutral reaction, passes Wit? Disinterested
  • Positive reaction, passes Wit? Willing to negotiate
  • And this avoids the situation of a player character's attribute score defining the universe, my personal pet peeve.

    Wednesday, June 19, 2024

    Pinching Pennies? Monthly Expenses in Flashing Blades

    Monthly expenses (food, shelter, etc.) 3 £ x Social Rank (see 3.8) - 3.72 Outfitting, Flashing Blades core rules (p. 12)
    Mark Pettigrew cited Traveller as an influence on Flashing Blades, and it may be most evident in the treatment of careers and character finances. Like Traveller, Flashing Blades likes its player characters struggling to make ends meet and hustling to pay the bills, i.e., seeking out and accepting patronage opportunities. Salaries alone are rarely enough: a Social Rank 5 Minor Official (5.21 The Social Scale, p. 23) in the bureaucracy makes 70 £ annually (MINOR OFFICIAL, 5.53 Ranks and Positions in the Bureaucracy, p. 32) but has monthly expenses totalling 180 £ for the year. Given that most player character bureaucrats start at SR 7 (3.8 SOCIAL RANK, p. 13), the disparity is even greater and the need for additional funds more pressing.

    Player characters don't simply rely on their salaries, of course, receiving an annual allowance (3.71 Yearly Allowance, p. 11) in addition to whatever salary - if any - they receive from their careers. The source of the annual allowance isn't defined; historically, people received income from rentes and other annuities, but inheritance, rich uncle, or a remittance to stay far away are all plausible explanations for a character's yearly allowance as well. Between a salary and a yearly allowance, an adventurer may make enough to meet annual expenses: an SR 7 Gentleman Minor Official bringing home that same 70 £ but with a yearly allowance of 300 £ will still have 188 £ left over, at least until the fermier général and the parish priest extend their hands for taxes and tithes.

    Advantages such as Wealth, Title, and Land may add to an adventurer's yearly allowance, but the latter two also increase expenses in the forms of higher Social Rank and property upkeep, and with greater income comes higher taxes and tithes as well.

    So, can a player character reduce their monthly expenses to better live within their means?

    Before I can answer that we need to understand what exactly is covered by those monthly expenses. First, shelter for most characters will be a rooming house or a hostel, or more rarely an auberge (inn), which generally caters to travellers, not tenants. At Social Rank 3 and below, lodgings are likely shared, with 1-4 beds with straw ticking and cheap blankets in a rented room, pegs on a wall for hanging clothing, a tin basin and a pitcher of water in the hall for ablutions, and the possibility of a cut-down wine barrel for use as a tub with water drawn from a well in the garden. From Social Rank 4 to 7, rooms are usually private, with two thin mattresses, one of straw and one of feathers, covered by a thick wool blankets, a basin and pitcher on a table or chest of drawers, a small wardrobe, a stool or small wooden chair, and bathing water warmed in the kitchen. At Social Rank 8 and above, lodgings are a small suite with a sitting room or salon and a bedroom or bedrooms as well as separate shared quarters for servants. A mattress and thick comforter stuffed with goose down cover the bed, a decorated and gilt ceramic basin and pitcher sit on a carved chest of drawers, and an expansive wardrobe stands against a wall, with a covered, cushioned chair and footstool on a carpeted floor nearby. A glazed iron bathtub is concealed by a screen or secluded in its own small room for privacy.

    Students and soldiers may also find lodging in a rented room in a private residence; d'Artagnan finds a room in the home of the cloth merchant M. Bonacieux after his appointment to the guards company of M. des Essarts on his arrival in Paris in The Three Musketeers, for example. Students of Theology, during their months of study and service, are expected to live in a community with other students not dissimilar to monks; the accomodations are comparable to that of merchants, but the cleaning and cooking are handled by the students themselves. Titled nobles of Social Rank 10 and above may find accomodation in the hôtel or townhome of another noble family, comparable to that of a rooming house but with better quality service - more on that in a moment; for such nobles, monthly expenses are halved as the accomodation is considered a display of hospitality expected of the nobility which is repaid by pourboires (tips or bribes) to the staff and service rendered to the family.

    A single morning meal is provided for lodgers of SR 3 and below, consisting of a thick vegetable soup or stew and brown bread with thin beer or table wine to wash it down; monthly expenses also cover a midday and evening meal, usually purchased from a street vendor. Meat is rare and usually consists of mutton or goat meat added to the stew or baked in a crust, or a fish ragout if near the ocean or a substantial river. If a SR 3 or below rooming house serves meat in its meal more than two or three times a week, the absence of dogs in the neighborhood may be noticeable. Meals are served in wooden or clay bowl or on platters with drinks in clay mugs. At SR 4-7, lodgers may expect to receive a morning and evening meal as part of their expenses; the stew will usually have meat, typically the aforementioned mutton and goat, and roast chicken is common table fare as well. The fish ragout is supplemented with whole fish roasted on a spit. Boiled vegetables are served as sides. Beer and wine remain the most common beverages, with rum or brandy available for an extra fee beyond what's covered as part of a character's monthly expenses. Service is on pewter bowls and platters, while drinks are served in clay or pewter mugs. At SR 8 and above, meals come in courses of four or more, with a variety of meats: roasted mutton and fish are common, with beef and especially wild game appearing with some frequency. Along with platters of boiled vegetables, raw celery is considered a delicacy and exotic New World vegetables such as tomatoes and potatoes may be present as well. Good wine and spirits are served in crystal decanters and goblets while meals are served on china imported from the East Indies or silver bowls and platters.

    Finally, the rules specifically mention food and shelter, but what's about the ever-elusive "etc."? Some services may be covered by monthly expenses. At SR 3 and below, maids will change and launder the characters' bedlinens monthly and the character can get their clothing laundered and crudely patched on the same schedule as well; swashbucklers are a rough and tumble bunch as a rule, and stains and tears should accumulate readily in the course of their adventures. Between SR 4 and 7, linens are changed and quarters swept and dusted weekly, and a washer woman will launder clothing as needed while a seamstress will skillfully mend the garments on the adventurer's behalf. A young boy, perhaps a son of the owner or a servant, can be expected to bear messages for the adventurer, and to carry a torch at night, for the price of a small tip folded into monthly expenses; the boy's safety is the adventurer's responsibility and should be considered carefully in the assigned task. A groom will tend to an adventurer's horse as part of the cost of upkeep (3.72 Outfitting, p. 12 under Transportation); the groom will hotwalk, brush and feed the horse and summon a veterinarian if needed. At SR 8 and above, servants abound: chambermaids see to the linens every few days and sweep and dust daily while laundresses launder and seamstresses expertly repair and alter clothing on request. One or more ladies' maids or gentlemen's butlers will assist the adventurer with dressing and attend to the character's bath. A concierge will make sure that the accomodations are kept up and summon workers to perform necessary maintenance as needed. Messengers may be dispatched not just around town but to neighboring cities on the player character's behalf.

    For all characters, monthly expenses include incidentals ranging from clay pipes and tobacco to woolen hose to shoe repairs by a cobbler, at the referee's discretion.

    Okay, that's what your money gets you. What if you can't afford to live at the standard expected of your station?

    Characters who cannot afford, or who choose not to pay, the monthly expenses associated with their Social Rank will find their effective rank decreases; a SR 7 Gentleman who pays 15 £ per month for expenses will find that others treat them as having SR 5 instead. This may affect opportunities such as membership in a club, admission to seminary to pursue a career as a Student of Theology, or to advantageously apply to a regiment. The most important consequence to the adventurer due to a lower effective Social Rank is the loss of influence.
    Sometimes, however, influence may have direct effects on the game, in one of two ways. First, any character may expect informal, polite requests to be granted by those three Social Ranks or more below his own, if he can roll his own Social Rank or below on a D20. Thus a Marquis could ask a small favor of a Baron or a Bishop, and have his request(s) granted on a roll of 13 or less on a D20. Polite requests are defined as those which are easy to grant, and which are of minor significance to the person asked (such as a Magistrate waiving a small fine, a Captain looking after someone in his company, a Baron allowing hunting on his estate, etc.). The possibilities are endless. Polite requests, no matter how polite they may be, will also often be influenced by bribery or reciprocal favors.

    In addition, influence of Social Rank may be used, on rare occasions, to force those of lower Social Ranks to perform services which may be difficult or dangerous. Such services may only be requested of one six or more Social Ranks below the character, and may only be asked once per year (unless the character increases his or her Social Rank that year, in which case, he may ask 2 services). Such services may not be outrageous (e.g. asking an NPC to lay down his life for the character, or to give the character large sums of money) and the request must be within the power of the person requested. The person requested has a choice: to grant the request, or to automatically lose one Social Rank himself. A small reward or bribe is almost always offered for such services, Examples of difficult requests might be a Treasurer of a Royal Order bullying a rich merchant to go into an investment with him (perhaps with the lure of possible profits), a Lt. General forcing a townsman to quarter troops in his house, a Grand Duke squeezing a Secretary of a Noble Order to admit him to the Order, etc. Of course, some such requests may be granted through threats or violence, rather than influence. - 5.22 Influence (p. 23)
    A character with a lower effective Social Rank will find their influence is constrained to that of their temporary rank.

    A character who does not pay the monthly expenses for at least four months will find their chances of promotion reduced by the difference between their Social Rank and their effective rank; frex, a character with SR 7 paying only 15 £ per month for four months will find their chances of promotion reduced by two. Finally, at the referee's discretion, a character who lives at a lower rank for six or more months may have their actual Social Rank reduced by one.

    Can living at an effectively higher Social Rank improve influence and chances for promotion? That's a subject for another post.

    Tuesday, June 18, 2024

    Plus de trousseau: More Skill-Based Equipment for Flashing Blades

    My Flashing Blades house rules include five new skills for characters to choose. In keeping with my Te Deum pour un massacre-inspired stuff-for-skills house rule, here are items a character taking the new skills may expect to receive.

    Skill Item
    Falconry A gauntlet with a tassel, jesses, a field leash, and a swing lure
    Musician A musical instrument and 1D6 sheets of music
    Naturalist A plant press, a bottle of grain alcohol, and 1D6 glass jars with stoppers and horsehair threads
    Physician A fleam, a metal bowl, and a clay jar with 2D6 leeches
    Surgeon A trousse including scalpels, hooks, a clamp, a probe, needles and flax thread, and a bone saw

    Sunday, June 9, 2024

    Student of Theology: Seminary and Minor Orders in Flashing Blades

    Characters who wish to join the Clergy must have Theology and Latin skills, and must start as Students of Theology. Gentlemen with the necessary skills may choose to start the game as Students of Theology, in whichever school of theological thought the wish. All others may roll 2D6 at the beginning of each year after the start of the game, in an attempt to roll the entrance number of a school, to become a Student of Theology. As characters may not roll to enter a school at the start of the game, all characters who are not of Gentleman background must wait a year to enter a school of Theology.

    To study Theology in the 17th Century, one commonly went to a school or college run by one of the powerful monastic orders of the times. Each order has its own requirements for years of study needed to be ordained, and the amount of time each year which must be spent studying Theology. . . . At the end of a character's study as a Student of Theology, he is ordained into the Priesthood. - 5.42 Joining the Clergy,
    Flashing Blades core rules (page 30)
    A Student of Theology in Flashing Blades undertakes a three or four year period of study in order to become a Catholic priest, so what exactly happens during that time?

    The last half of the sixteenth and first half of the seventeenth centuries, known today as the Counter-Reformation, was a time of renewal and retrenchment for the Roman Catholic Church in response to the rise and spread of Protestantism. One of the principle events of that period was the Council of Trent, conducted in two dozen sessions between 1545 and 1563 under the auspices of three different popes; the Council attempted to address what the Church perceived as spiritual laxity and temporal abuse by the clergy. Among the recommendations - known as the Tridentine reforms - was to improve the education and training of priests, and this led to the founding of seminaries, what the game calls a "school of theological thought."

    The Student of Theology in Flashing Blades then is a seminarian. Seminarians, during their periods of study, live in a community, similar to monks. They are expected to be devout, dilligent, sober, and chaste. They wear eccesiastical garb and attend services several times a day, with periods of study in between.

    Seminarians also take minor orders. The minor orders are offices within a parish church or abbey responsible for assisting the priests in running the church and performing Mass. The minor orders are porter, lector, exorcist, and acolyte.
  • The Porter is responsible for locking and unlocking the doors of the church and ringing the bell. Porters also act like doormen or guards, keeping the congregation safe during services - in the era of the Wars of Religion, this is no small thing.
  • The Lector reads non-Gospel biblical passages during services; Gospel readings are limited to the major orders.
  • The Exorcist of minor orders is not Father Merrin from the eponymous movie; exorcism of demons is left to ordained priests. The exorcist's main responsibilities are assisting with baptisms, performing "minor exorcisms" - mostly annointing with oil and praying over the infant - in preparation for consecration.
  • The Acolyte is the highest ranked minor order, lighting candles and carrying them in ceremonies and processions, administering bread and wine to the priest during Mass, and otherwise assiting the priest.
  • Before the rise of seminaries as part of the Tridentine reforms, "porter-lector-exorcist-acolyte" was a pathway to the priesthood, and seminarians are still ordained in the minor orders. As part of their training, Students of Theology will serve in a parish church; principally this will be as a lector, reading Holy Scripture - literacy in Latin, remember - during Mass and, particularly in the last year of their studies, as an acolyte and more rarely as a porter or exorcist. Much like the Student of Law's stage and clerkship, this gives the seminarian practical experience in the service of a parish church, working alongside priests and a pastor and interacting with congregants - and for the referee, another pathway for enmeshing the player character seminarian in the life of the setting through rumors and patronage.

    An interesting thing about ordination in the minor orders: it's open to the laity. This does in fact open another pathway to the priesthood for characters who don't want to be seminarians, but it's also an opportunity to involve a character in the life of a parish church without the responsiblities and strictures of ordination as a priest. As a quick and dirty house rule, say roll 8+ to become a porter with promotion to lector - literacy in Latin required - on 8+; promotion from lector to exorcist requires a 9+, and promotion to acolyte - Theology skill required - from exorcist requires 10+, all on 2D6, of course. Service is four months a year for each minor order. Promotion attempts are rolled once a year as per the core rules, so the time to ascend through the minor orders is variable and probably pretty lengthy, but that fact that one can rise to acolyte while keeping a wife and family and pursuing another career might be appealing.

    So how about Aramis? We know Aramis becomes a priest as well as superior general of the Jesuits, an ambassador, and a duke over the course of the novels, but what about Aramis the King's Musketeer of the first book? Well, we know that Athos and Porthos intervened "at the moment of my ordination," as Aramis describes it, so it would appear he is a lapsed seminarian who plans to return to the Church at a later date, which means he's probably ordained in the minor orders already.

    Now, a reminder: Flashing Blades is a game of swashbuckling adventure, and priests historically fought duels and carried on affairs and participated in politics, so none of this should imply a life of mundane service for player character clerics. Through active participation in a parish church, a seminarian will become close to priests, curates, and pastors, and quite possibly members of the bishop's curia, and will get to know parishioners as well; awareness of the politics of both the Church and the local community should follow. A better understanding of the Student of Theology experience should open doors to adventure, not close them.

    Friday, June 7, 2024

    Monsters in Motion

    Sometimes I run across something that seems so simple and so obvious it feels like it doesn't need to be said, and then I'm surprised when other gamers say, "I never thought about that before."

    I was reminded ot this by JDJarvis' post this week at Aeons & Auguaries, "Monsters don't have to stay in their rooms."
    Many published dungeons seem to treat the monsters in any given room and the entire room itself as if it is frozen in amber waiting for the PCs to turn up. The used of pre-written description text sure doesn't help dispel this notion (I recall one adventure with 6 or 7 paragraphs describing a room and in the last sentence it mentions the 1st thing PCs would notice... a Beholder). Many critics, DMs and publishers seem to forget that while the published dungeon may be fixed and as is on the page the monsters don't have to stay in their rooms.
    As I'm preparing to run Flashing Blades again, this seems particularly relevant to me, 'cause it's tied very closely to how I run my games. I have a list of locations; I have a list of non-player characters - families, really. Characters are associated with certain locations, sure, but then I populate my chance encounters - my preferred term-of-art for 'random encounters' - all over the city with those characters. The chevalier de Rochebaron, knight-captain of the military Order of Saint-Jean, is of course associated with the order's commandery in Sainte-Argene-sur-Barmie, but he can also be found in a chance encounter in the Place du Vicomte, or on the Quai Sainte-Barbe, or in Le Dauphin tavern.

    I find this makes the setting feel like a real place more than just about anything else in my referee's quiver, and it also creates coincidences, something that can feel very forced without a random element behind it. Frex, you may run into Lèbre, a "seller of holy water" - one of the random encounters in a church from the FB core rules - at Saint-Papoul's on Tuesday, then run into him again at the abbey of the Cordeliers on Saturday, without specific intent on my part as the referee beyond a non-player character showing up in places where it makes sense for him to appear.

    Now, adventure designers can encourage this sort of thing pretty readily, to wit:
    Key to Level One -
    30. Abandoned Storeroom
    Nine kobolds took up residence in this abandoned storeroom, from which they search for a dragon medallion they believe is somewhere on this level of the dungeon. From 2-4 kobolds will be out searching at any given time.

    Random Encounters -
    2-4 kobolds from room 30, out searching for the lost dragon medallion
    And Bob's your uncle.