Wednesday, July 31, 2013

[WFRP] Southern Creatures from Compendium One

I love the D&D 2e Monstrous Manual and Monstrous Compendium Annuals. They are such a ground for inspiration. I recently realized my collection was missing the print versions of the Annuals, so I started ordering the least expensive ones from Amazon.

Compendium Annual Volume One arrived recently, and I thumbed through it to reacquaint myself with some of the monsters. There weren't really any for my Warhammer South Lands games, set in the Spears of the Dawn setting. Here's the closest thing to something I might use:

Stone Snake: I'm always looking for a little variation that fits the Warhammer setting.

(Copyright WotC)

Snake, Giant Cobra: Giant varieties of creatures are great, too!

(Copyright WotC)

Ormyrr: Fit the snake profile and add a little variety.

(Copyright WotC)

Ophidian: Yet another snake creature.

(Copyright WotC)

Naga, Bone: Can't forget about the skeleton version of some of these.
(Copyright WotC)

Marrashi: I'm not sure when I'd get to use this otherwise, so a type of beastman would be cool.
(Copyright WotC)

Gambado: This creature might just be messed up enough to fit into Warhammer. It burrows into the sand with only the bleached skull showing, then springs up when prey approaches?

(Copyright WotC)

Dragon-kin: These should definitely get used somewhere, I'm just not sure if the South Lands is the best place. I've already got a lot of other snake races crowding in the humans.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Important D&D Concepts

I would definitely agree with this assessment.

Q: What are the two most important concepts in the D&D game?
A: The most important concept in the game is player choice. In order to give players the most fun in the game, they must be able to make choices that will make a definite difference in the fates of their characters.
The second most important concept is that actions have consequences. Player decisions will lead to further campaign developments.

--Jon Pickens et al., "Dispel Confusion" column, Polyhedron #13

Monday, July 29, 2013

[WFRP] Southern Creatures from Compendium Four

I love the D&D 2e Monstrous Manual and Monstrous Compendium Annuals. They are such a ground for inspiration. I recently realized my collection was missing the print versions of the Annuals, so I started ordering the least expensive ones from Amazon.

Compendium Annual Volume Four arrived recently, and I thumbed through it to reacquaint myself with some of the monsters. There weren't really any for my Warhammer South Lands games, set in the Spears of the Dawn setting. Here's the closest thing to something I might use:

Human, Pygmy: Small humans who live in the deepest jungles.

(Copyright WotC)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Magic Item: Sweat of Grungni

The sweat of Grungni is a very rare magical liquid collected in small vials. One drop of the potent sweat collected from the dwarven ancestor is enough to completely heal a dwarf of any and all wounds, fatigue, and insanity.

Friday, July 26, 2013

[WFRP] Southern Creatures from Compendium Three

I love the D&D 2e Monstrous Manual and Monstrous Compendium Annuals. They are such a ground for inspiration. I recently realized my collection was missing the print versions of the Annuals, so I started ordering the least expensive ones from Amazon.

Compendium Annual Volume Three arrived recently, and I thumbed through it to reacquaint myself with some of the monsters. I was excited to find some that will fit perfectly in my Warhammer South Lands games, set in the Spears of the Dawn setting. There weren't many, but I like to mark them down to remind myself later.

Firenewt: Distant relatives of lizardmen that roam hot regions.

(Copyright WotC)

Cildabrin: A mixture of spider and scorpion.

(Copyright WotC)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

[A&A] If You Can't Hit, Grapple

Greg Christopher, author of Ambition & Avarice, posted these tips on Google+ yesterday. I thought I would share. It helps for those who might be stuck in a combat rut. Read on and open your imagination:
This was asked in the Ambitions & Avarice community, but I thought I would share publicly because it says a lot about how people think. It was brought up by [Jim].
Jim noticed that since my monster model also incorporates a very low rate of attack bonus progression, a PC in heavy armor would be very formidable. If your troll (you are running the game) has no attack bonus and the knight has an AC of 22, you are going to be flailing and doing nothing, right?
A lot of times in traditional RPGs, we think of combat as people standing next to each other just bashing away. That's why this seems to be a problem. And I'm not picking on Jim here, TONS of gamers think this way.
But in the A&A rules, you can initiate a grapple with a touch attack. So that knight with a 22 AC is getting 8 points of AC from his +1 Full Plate. That is ignored. So now you are just rolling vs a 14. On a success, you grab that little pipsqueak and begin strangling him. Watch him dance in that shiny armor.
Now his party members might come to his defense. They might jump on you and try to pull you off him. There are a flurry of contested rolls and eventually they end up pinning you down. Then the weakling wizard jumps up on top of you and pours flaming oil down your throat.
Wasn't that more fun than just swinging over and over?
There is a lot of nuance in these old school rule sets. A lot of people don't realize that. This is just one of the nuances in A&A. I hope you can find the rest of them.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

[WFRP] Crossing the Border

The Doomstones campaign is a Warhammer-ized version of a high-fantasy "seek the artifacts of power" type game. It's not a campaign that I think fits particularly well into the Warhammer mythos, but when it was release there wasn't much of a Warhammer mythos to constrain it.

The campaign begins with 2nd to 3rd career PCs in a remote area of the Border Princes. Most Warhammer adventures take place within the Empire. A fan (or someone) decided that there needed to be an adventure that bridged the gap between where a group of established players might start out in the Empire to where the Doomstones take place in the Border Princes. Thus Crossing the Border was born.

Since I really want to run the Doomstones campaign at a couple local gaming conventions, I thought I'd playtest this Crossing the Border and see what we thought. Here are those thoughts:

  • The adventure is far too easy for 3rd career characters. Basic-level bandits and orcs, while potentially deadly, don't give the party much of a fight. I think that's OK to get new players used to the combat system. I also think it's OK to let the PCs feel rather heroic against attackers. As far as a challenge, though, there wasn't much there.
  • This is not written as a convention adventure. That's not meant to take anything away from the adventure. It just fits better for use in a home game where the PCs have just gotten to the end of their second career or beginning of the third. There's some background to skip if using this for convention play.
  • During The Journey section, I skipped any random, short encounters or adventures to try to make sure to keep the sitting within a 4 hour convention time slot. 
  • When we got to the ambush, our dwarf scholar tried to keep Prince Max out of the fighting. When the dwarf let the prince go, the prince proceeded to run a bandit through with his rapier. We didn't get the feeling that the prince wasn't good at defending himself as the scenario wanted us to. That's the luck of the die roll.
  • Since there were no random encounters, there was a LOT of ground that was handwaved during the travels. One player explained that they just didn't remember much of the trip because of their stop at Bugman's Brewery before crossing the mountains.
  • I let the dwarf scholar character know historical information without making an Intelligence roll. I told him about the Bloodaxe Alliance and showed him the tribal symbols from the book.
  • The party never quire trusted Severin, but they weren't able to foil his plot, either. There were 3 players and 4 night watches. They had no problem splitting the night watches with Severin's men. However there wasn't a PC available for the fourth watch...the one where the murder occurs. They did wake the manservant for the fourth watch, under the premise that he had to get up early and prepare the prince's breakfast. However, Severin was able to complete his fell deed concealed from the manservant's eyes. In future games, I might make the manservant more keenly observant, as he was written to be worried about the prince and distrustful of Severin. Since the adventure called for the death of the prince, it was just easiest to allow it to happen during the manservant's watch with little fuss.
  • As I said, they didn't trust Severin. The dwarf scholar even cast Sleep on the guard who was watching with him, then cast Sleep on the sleeping Severin, and then searched through Severin's belongings for any signs of foul play. Since there was nothing to find, the dwarf finished his watch less worried...not knowing what would happen during the last watch of the night.
  • Having the party wake up to the dead prince was not a comfortable feeling as the GM. The players didn't argue or try to retcon anything, but there was an obvious sense of failure. The feeling was palpable in the room. Disappointment. It was great that they were obviously highly invested in the job, but it was horrible to see their shoulders slump at the news. I'd rather have played out a fight and had the prince taken out in the grand melee of the orc attack.
  • The PCs weren't interested in the orc attack. They let Severin's men take the brunt of it while they strapped their weapons back on. (Oh, that's another thing I'd change a bit. Maybe a test to see if they notice their weapons being taken in their sleep.) I didn't want to play out an entire battle with myself, so I just noted that Severin's men were the better fighters and had the 6 men take out the 12 orcs with only Severin surviving. He was mortally wounded, but they patched him up and held him for ransom to make up for some of their profits that they lost.
  • At this point they had a prisoner to take further into the Border Princes for the ransom price they put on his head. I still had the rest of the adventure left to get them interested in the stones. If they were more interested in the ransom, then I would have pulled a GM card and had Severin die of infections from his wounds. 
  • My timing was pretty good so far. It took about 1 hour and 40 minutes to get to the halfway point of something I was trying to fit into a 4 hour time slot. The rest of the adventure flew by, though.
  • The party didn't have much reason to head toward Cegovin, so I made sure they had a lot of extra horses at the end of the first half of the game. They decided to take 5 extra horses to sell to Old Milos in Cegovin. Here's the thing about selling 5 horses (one of them the prince's) in a border town: what kind of person carries that much gold to give you for that many horses? I ended up bartering instead. I gave out a full set of chain mail, a cart and a bottle of ale, and some writing supplies (ink and parchment) to the dwarf for three of the horses. The last regular horse was traded for rations and traveling supplies. The party got gold for the prince's horse only.
  • The party fit right in to the small farming community. The dwarf scholar tried to tell a tale at the dinner table before story time. I kid you not, unsolicited. I had the farmer he was talking to tell him to save the tale until after dinner. Also, he had taken out a map of the area and was asking the locals to help him update it. This was GOLD for this scenario. I had the locals telling him that the river really was here, not here, and that they have never even herd of this place or that place. The "updates" to his map ended up being what the area looked like in the past not the present. As a scholar, he loved the result when he found out.
  • The dwarf scholar recognized that Gnarok's tale was a hundred years old or so, but wasn't sure what to do with the information. The party's mercenary captain didn't want to let a bunch of farmers go off untrained to help the dwarves, so she gave them fighting lessons before bed. She even gave them some of her extra weapons to take to the fight! In the morning they found those weapons rusted and rotted in the field. 
  • They found the dwarf's body while checking the place out when they woke up in the morning. The note and the map had them hooked, after Gnarok's tale. The adventure, Crossing the Border, accomplished exactly what it set out to do: it got the PCs in the right place with a reason to be there. They found the note and the map, and they were more interested in pursuing that instead of taking Severin back for ransom...or at least they were interested in stopping off at the waterfall on the way to taking him back for ransom. Naturally things would progress from there. And I think adding a feverish, wounded prisoner would be quite the interesting wrench for them to have tagging along.
  • We finished the whole adventure in two and a half hours. Obviously other players might take longer, especially if there were more players and we were at a loud convention. It should fit well in a 4 hour time slot, even if we finish early.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Survival Guide

This is a thing that has been going around Google+, a kind of survival guide for old school games, written by Ben Lehman. I'm sure everyone's seen it, but I wanted to post it...just in case:

Playing D&D is a skill. If you are not good at the necessary skills, the game will punish you by killing your characters. What I can do here is point you in the direction of what skilled play looks like. That isn't the same thing as teaching those skills, for which we would actually have to play the game together, but it can hopefully give you ideas about what to try.
My assumption in this piece is that the biggest stumbling block to D&D is the combat, rather than traps or mapping or so on. Obviously, there is different advice for different problems. But I have noticed that combat is the problem that 90% of modern gamers have with playing D&D.
Core Principles
The combat system of D&D is a punishment mechanic, not a reward mechanic. You do not want to get into a fight. Particularly as a 1st level character, fights will kill you dead. Every single attack roll has a fairly decent chance of killing you. Thus, you want to avoid being subject to attack rolls, by whatever means.
If you look at the D&D reward mechanic (experience points and treasure) this is obvious. You can orders of magnitude more experience points from treasure collection than you do from combat (monster killing). XP from combat plays basically no role in advancement whatsoever. Your approach to a dungeon should thus be surgical, rather than exhaustive: get in, get as much treasure as you can, and get out. You do not have to confront the dungeon on its own terms and, indeed, doing so will kill you.
As a player of modern (tabletop or video) games, this can be a hard adaptation to make. You have been trained through long experience to "clean out" dungeons and to treat combat as a resource expenditure (spend some hit points to pass the monster) rather than an out-and-out losing condition. However, D&D is not a game of resource management nearly as much as it is a game of creativity. Creatively navigating your environment is the only possible key to success.
There are a number of implications from the two core principles. I'll go over a few of my favorites.
Establish the Fiction The DM will naturally keep her descriptions fairly vague and nebulous, both because this is easier and it is of course clear in her head. Do not let her get away with this. Ask questions about your character's environment, about the exact spacing, about the exact locations. This is useful for two reasons: one, it will reveal potential resources and opportunities, and two if combat breaks out it will give your the proper spacing.
Jam Today is better than Jam Tomorrow. Listen up wizards. You've got your one sleep spell, and god-damn it you're going to save it because without it you're useless. So you hang on and then, bam, stray arrow gets you. You have made the classic error of delaying your gratification. Do not do this. Use whatever resources you have at your disposal right now before you're too dead to use them at all. If you run out of resources, retreat and regroup ASAP. You will not get through the early levels of D&D by being parsimonious with your victories.
Talk, Run, and Wait When you encounter a monster, you have four options: Fight, Talk, Run and Wait. This is not for show. This is the game giving you a last chance to avoid doing something stupid. If you have any possibility of avoiding combat with the non "fight" options, do it. This means, yes, you should pay attention to what languages your character speaks, as well as the internal politics (if any) of the dungeon. A character-killing fight could turn into an opportunity or a reward.
Prefer Cleverness to Arrows, Arrows to Swords If you can find a way to avoid a fight, do it. Light a bonfire and smoke out the goblins. Don't molest the Flesh Golem in the attic. Roll a boulder in front of the cave mouth and keep moving. However, if a fight is a must, try to engage on your terms: i.e. at range. Most early D&D monsters don't have ranged attacks, so engaging at range will give you a huge advantage. Note that bow ranges are much larger than the movement rate of most early monsters, so don't let the DM get away with "just one round of arrow fire then they close." Consult the rules, and keep in mind to establish the fiction.
Use your equipment, use the environment More than just a ten foot pole, everything on the equipment list is insanely valuable for navigating the dungeon. Get lots of oil and set things on fire, for instance, or use a mirror on a pole to look around corners. Anything in the dungeon, up to and including the walls, can be leveraged for your advantage.
Take your time Do not hastily move through the dungeon. As much as possible, take your time, secure retreat routes, and don't let the DM rattle you. Remember: there is always another dungeon. Don't take risks that aren't both calculated and absolutely necessary.
I feel like there's a huge culture shock being exposed to D&D for the first time. A lot of video gamers, Forgies / Story Gamers, and players of modern forms of D&D are used to the game's mechanics being their friends, to being able to leave the fiction in a muddled cloud, and to not having to actually struggle to succeed in a game. It's tempting to just go "this game is broken" or "this game is not to my tastes," and that's totally cool. However, there's a huge depth of game there, that includes serious respect for the fictional space in a way few other games replicate, and I think it is worthwhile -- for game design education if nothing else -- to play it aggressively and appropriately and see where it leads you.

Monday, July 22, 2013

[WFRP 3e] The Winds of Change Part 1

I'm sure everyone's wondering how a blind PC manages in Warhammer. Don't let me hold up your curiosity any longer.

Sister Sonja is, literally, a blind zealot of Sigmar. She has a robe, a quarterstaff, and, at times, a caustic personality.

Stedi - Dwarf Boatman

Notable Zealotry:
The party's boat ran aground in Grunburg. A little girl was very kindly giving us some information and offered to take us to a location of interest...for a small fee. Sis. Sonja berated the 7 year old girl for trying to extort money from the faithful of Sigmar.

This place of interest was a bookstore where our prey had visited on his way through town. The store had the "stench of chaos," and Sis. Sonja insisted it be burned to the ground after they had gotten all the information they could from the place.

In Altdorf, the party met a dwarf windbag whose conspiracy theories never ended. She was about to tell the diminutive what she thought of him when her companion quickly led her away.

Friday, July 19, 2013

[WFRP] More South Land Creatures

I love the D&D 2e Monstrous Manual and Monstrous Compendium Annuals. They are such a ground for inspiration. I recently realized my collection was missing the print versions of the Annuals, so I started ordering the least expensive ones from Amazon.

Compendium Annual Volume Two arrived recently, and I thumbed through it to reacquaint myself with some of the monsters. I was excited to find some that will fit perfectly in my Warhammer South Lands games, set in the Spears of the Dawn setting.

Draco-Sphinx: Perfect for the mountainous areas of the setting, and a great Warhammer type creature, as it is essentially a manticore with drake instead of human features.

(Copywrite WotC, I'm sure)

Mummy, Creature: These are mummies of animals and monsters, instead of just humans. Great for an African theme.

(Copywrite WotC, I'm sure)

Marl: Giant, acquatic snake-like creature found in swamps and rivers. Fits my snake theme!

(Copywrite WotC, I'm sure)

Laerti: Desert dwelling reptilian humanoid? Perfect! The book says they hire themselves out as mercenaries. I see them working for the Umthali.

(Copywrite WotC, I'm sure.)

Kalin: Spider-ant? Sounds like a bestial Warhammer creature to me!

(Copywrite WotC, I'm sure.)

Dwarf, Wild: I wondered where I was going to have dwarves in this setting. These ones inhabit tropical jungles. That might indicate more of an Amazon-like area, but I think I can slip them into the Spears of the Dawn forests! Yay! Dwarves in the south!

(Copywrite WotC, I'm sure.)

Centaur-Kin, Zebranaur: Africa is the place for zebra. These fit the setting to a T.

(Copywrite WotC, I'm sure.)

There were many other inspiring creatures in this volume, but not for my South Lands game. Man, I love these books!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

[A&A] New Race: Satyr

A Satyr is a humanoid that is half human and half goat. They are naïve and curious in most aspects of life. They are also a randy race, often caring for little more than the pleasures they can get out of life. These pleasures include wine, shapely nymphs or other enticing humanoids, and a soft place to sleep. Their whimsical nature is particularly difficult to control. Instead a satyr needs to be focused onto a task at hand, usually by an outside party.

A satyr has the head, body, and arms of a human, but the lower extremities of a goat. They usually have small horns poking out of a head of unruly hair. The hind legs are powerful, giving them bonuses in running and leaping. Most satyrs are vegetarians who balk at the thought of killing another living creature. In extreme situations, however, one does what one must no matter how distasteful.

The running bonus gives the satyr +4 to dexterity for the purpose of calculating encumbrance and speed rates (pg 32). Furthermore, a satyr who is able to start at a sprint may leap an amount of feet equal to its dexterity score. Without a running start, a satyr can jump ½ dexterity in feet.

Innocence, naivety, and general friendly demeanor give the satyr bonuses to NPC favors and reaction rolls. For these rolls, use 4d6 and keep the best 3 results.

Type: Barbarian
Vision: Normal
Hit Dice: d6

Blast: 11
Death: 15
Paralysis: 16
Poisons: 12
Reflex: 11
Spell: 15

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

[WFRP 2e] Morrslieb's Shadow 15

In which Mordrin is not in Kansas anymore.

On Thursday we played the fifteenth sitting of our WarHammer 2e online campaign. Here's a relatively quick rundown.

Mordrin Skorkinson, Giant Slayer. He is still looking for a giant to slay, as he doesn't feel the last giant was quite giant enough. He has also slain some daemons, though none of note.

He is the bemoaner of the doom that got away.

His chosen weapon is a magical two handed war-hammer taken from a slain priest of Sigmar, its once faded runes now burn bright due to Mordrin's great deeds.

My companions:
Tibalt - A Brettonian Knight
Udrin - A High Elf Scholar
Gustav - A Human Initiate of Verena
Ato - A Wood Elf Wizard Apprentice (Absent)

Mordrin's Experiences
From last time: Mordrin flew through a chaos orb into an unknown place/time. He appeared on the top of a roof somewhere, vomiting up his last meal. His reluctant Remembrancer, Udrin, was the only one in the party who appeared beside him. We know not where, or when, the rest of the party is.

Now: Udrin has been talking to Imhol, a librarian of sorts from the place where we appeared. He has concluded that we have traveled back in time 5000 years! Currently in this place, doomsayers are talking of star metal that is going to fall and change the world.

We met up with the rest of the party, who appeared in the same time but a little further away when they came through the orb. They made a fascinating discovery that if the inhabitants of this time-frame are touched, they disappear.

The party as a whole has come to the conclusion that we are not completely in the past, but are experiencing an echo of Cairnmere as it was 5000 years ago. With that in mind, Mordrin didn't bother to pay for the vials of healing potion we took from the uninhabited alchemist shop.

We encountered some druchii and daemonette's along our travels through town. They were real enough, dying when hit with Mordrin's hammer. Also, amazingly enough, Mordrin was able to succeed a Dodge Blow!

Mordrin tried to intimidate the last druchii for information before killing him. Since we were dealing with followers of Slaanesh, Mordrin tried: "If you don't tell us, we won't torture you." It failed miserably.

The end of the session found Mordrin in a stream, washing off the goo the daemonette's left behind when exploding back to their own world. It's OK to be dirty, but daemonette goo is not cool.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

[WFRP 3e] Character Profiles: Sister Sonja

Sister Sonja is a human Zealot from Reikland. She has joined a party of intrepid adventurers after it was found out that most of the employees at her current place of residence were chaos cultists. She had always suspected them as shiftless no-gooders. During the purge of the locale, she was befriended by a dwarf named Stedd. She has committed to traveling with him on his encounters.

Sis Sonja is suspicious of pretty much all humans she meets. After a while in their presence, she can usually tell if they are lazy, gluttonous, greedy, lecherous, etc. She believes her purity and devotion to Sigmar will greatly enhance the dwarf's expeditions.

It is probably important to note that Sis Sonja is completely blind. A fever took her sight ten years ago.

Age: 4? Weight: Don't ask Height: 5'6" Sex: F Hair: Grey-Brown Eyes: White Rank: 1

S 2 T 4 Ag 2 Int 3 WP 5 Fel 2 Wound Threshold: 14

Weapons: Quarterstaff

Armor: None

Skills: Intimidate, Reilience, Discipline, Piety

Specializations: Resist Charm, Resist Guile

Special Abilities: Adaptable, Diversity, Favoured by Fate

Talents: Suspicious Mind (Insanity), I've Seen Worse (Focus), Determined (Focus)

Action Cards: Basic (Assess the Situation, Block, Dodge, Guarded Position, Melee Attack, Parry, Perform a Stunt, Ranged Shot) plus Curry Favor, Staring Contest, Combat Focus, Shield Slam, Splints & Bandages

*When choosing action cards, I removed not only all the wizard and priest cards but also all the ranged cards. I only chose from melee and support. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ambition & Avarice Release

On Friday Greg Christopher of Chubby Funster games released his full version of Ambition & Avarice on RPGNow. I think it is well worth the cost. I'm actually going to buy it when he releases the print on demand option as well.

If you downloaded his beta version, there should be a discount for the pay version in your email. You might want to double check. Mine went to my spam folder.

Here's the blurb from RPGNow:

Ambition and Avarice is an action-adventure roleplaying game with an easy-to-understand OSR chassis. The characters are rough and ready adventurers. No more moralizing paladins and clerics. Even the religious characters are willing to get a little dirty in the pursuit of their goals.
The game brings a fresh look to medieval fantasy with 10 unique classes that each bring something special to the table. Each class features;

- Expertise in a class-specific task; like the Sorcerer's counterspelling ability or a Cultist's ability to sacrifice humanoids to curry favor with their god.
- Identification of something in the world; like the Priest's ability to identify divine symbols and beings or the Savage's ability to spot weakness in combat.
- Companions to serve as henchmen; like the Knave's ability to recruit spies or the Conjurer's ability to create imps to serve them.

The five magic-using classes have a varied selection of new and exciting spells. There are easy methods to create your own enchantments, raise unique undead to serve you, or craft cursed items to give to your enemies. The non-magical classes have their own rich choices and don't fade away in importance as the magical characters advance in level.

These classes can then be combined with 10 classic fantasy races; from elves and dwarves to orcs and lizardfolk. You can combine them however you wish, creating everything from goblin knights to dwarven brigands.
The entire package is designed to allow quick character generation and presented in a format that is clear and easy to read. The text is packed with expanations of not just the rules, but the reasons behind the rules. It is an ideal choice to hand to a new player who is looking to get into the great game, but turned away by thick rulebooks with byzantine organization. The adventuring mechanics are also OSR compatible and allow easy integration with a variety of old school campaign material. You can pick up this game, grab an old module, and get playing in a very short amount of time.
Game on!
And here's what I said about it most recently:
There are endless materials written under the collective designation of the OSR (Old School Renaissance). I say "endless" not exactly literally, but in the interpretation that I could probably spend all my free time reading these publications and not finish in my lifetime. I have downloaded years worth of settings, systems, adventures, plot hooks, NPCs, magic items, etc. onto my computer. I have purchased a select few in print. What I needed was the one system I would use to run them all.
Originally I figured I would use Basic D&D (Red Box). It was the first RPG I owned, it was barebones, and it would hold, in some way/shape/form, everything these supplements would add. Instead I found this handy little OSR retro-clone that fit well with the game as I like to play it, plus added some fun twists. I printed out some pregenerated characters and ran the game at a couple local conventions. The players really seemed to have fun, and I was able to run the game on top of published adventures from different periods in gaming history.
My willingness to play in, and run, early versions of the game seems to have me on the good side of the author. He keeps me in the loop of the current version and lists my name under the playtester section of the credits. Some of my original ideas (magic items, traps, NPCs) fit Warhammer, some fit D&D, but now I'm getting some that fit this particular OSR retroclone. I have a new race that I will be typing up shortly, but I feel I should wait until the latest release of the ruleset is out before I publish the race on my blog.
There are fun things going on with this game, and I'm glad to be a part of it. The fact that I can use all my OSR collective supplements with this game brings it into my fantasy games of choice list.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Favorite Non-TSR Adventure/Module

I love it when other people's blogs ask questions that make for good blog posts here.

This is the kind of question that should have been coordinated on about 100 blogs all in the same day, with each blog answering even as they asked the question.

Erik Tenkar asks, "What is Your Favorite Non-TSR Module / Adventure (any system)?"

My answer is The Oldenhaller Contract for WFRP.

Why: I have run it many times, both for friends and at conventions. It plays out differently each time, which makes it fun. Also, I have come up with a couple ways to tweak/expand it to make it fresh for me or those who have played before.

If I wasn't such a procrastinator I'd have the maps and pictures loaded into Roll20...

Now, if you are reading and are so good as to answer, what is your favorite non-TSR module/adventure and why?

Friday, July 12, 2013

[PortCon] For Services Rendered (Pathfinder)

Our party is hired as the personal bodyguard to the lord of the land. The lord wants to go on a cockatrice hunt. Events go downhill from there.

Kaide One-Tusk, half orc paladin. I once had a half-orc cleric who told everyone he was a paladin. This character became a natural extension of that one.

My Companions
Hayden - Human Fighter
Sinessa - Half-Elf Rogue

The only children in the castle were teenage daughters. They all looked similar, though they all had different fathers.

The lord took us on a hunt for cockatrice eggs. Kaide fought off the creatures on a mountain pass, while the other two party members climbed down the mountain side to raid cockatrice nests.

Kaide explained what he was doing, his battle tactics, etc. to the lord while fighting off the creatures. He wanted the lord to know that he had gotten a good investment on his money.

By the way, one of the cockatrices we a dire version. The rest of the party climbed back up from their egg hunt to help Kaide kill it.

On our way home, a medusa came running after us screaming, "my babies! My babies!" She was some kind of cockatrice caretaker. The lord wanted her alive, so we had to knock her out while avoiding her gaze.

When the medusa was brought to the castle, all statues in the place became animated to try to help her escape. Our characters could do little to nothing to hurt the statues. Kaide ended up running around them to get into the dungeon where the medusa was being judged by the lord and the other men of the keep.

The makeshift courtroom in the dungeon was an ominous sight. The men, even the priest, were vehemently cursing the medusa for nothing more than her mere existence. She asked, "is this what I get for services rendered...for giving you each daughters, as requested in exchange for my safety?" It was at that point that Kaide had the clarity of mind to use his Detect Evil ability. Everyone in the basement was evil. The epic endgame battle began.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

OOC Thoughts On DodecaheDRONE

DodecaheDRONE is a d12-based game set in the far future. You play one of 12 Drone types who are assigned to maintain a cloning facility as well as assist the humans that come out of it rebuild the world.
DodecaheDRONE is about exploring the ravaged land and helping find a way to return it to some semblance of normality.

For some reason I keep picturing these drones as RoboRally robots (which means also Johnny 5). In reality, they are supposed to be more human shaped, bipedal. I see them rolling around on treads. I guess that would be a horrible way to move silently.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pie Week, Day 4

I was thinking about breaking down Pie Week for the blog here. I got just enough interest in it from here and from Google+ that I decided to go for it.

Day 4:
Morning: There is a rumor that some food went missing in the night. There is talk about it in the communal dining hall in the morning. "Some rascal children are sampling the pies right off our windowsills! Some pies are missing! I thought we raised our young 'uns better than that!" Investigation around the site(s) will find boot prints. The wearers of the boots have a short stride and drag their feet a lot when they walk. Trails are lost as they intersect with roads. Foot traffic from the morning has obscured all tracks along the main roads.

Archery events commence again around 1 PM in the afternoon in a field. Everyone has the morning to themselves.

Event 1: Archery - The Speed Shoot: This one is for the skilled. Archers must loose as many arrows as they can and hit the target block at long range (-10 BS with longbow and extreme range, -20 BS with short bow).  Archers should allow for up to 24 sharp arrows maximum to be shot for up to 8 rounds. Only arrows in the block score. There is no time to aim in the speed shot. Points: 1 per arrow in the circled area of target (hit). 1 additional point per arrow in the yellow center of the target (hit with -30 BS). 40 points max, if 20 arrows are shot.

Event 2: Arena - Another play!

Event 3: Blackberry Pie Cook-off!: Townsfolk were allowed to prepare any type of pie they wanted, as long as they used blackberry. The types of pie I included were black and blueberry pie, blackberry and apple, blackberry cheese pie, thickened blackberry with cinnamon, and blackberry ale pie.

Night 4: The orcs need some meat to go with their snacks. They start stealing livestock. They may be caught if people are set to watch. Multiple cows and sheep will be stolen from each farm. Many of the animals not taken will be killed, with their throats slit (for silence). Again, the orcs have come out of the tunnels they have dug into the alchemist's basement. Damien followed and killed his share of animals. Anyone watching at night might see him sneaking home all bloody.

This time, though, the thieves lead the animals through the roads, to the trail leading to Frederick's ruined cabin (Hobbly location 8), down the stream, and into the caves (location 57). If investigation returns to the cabin, animal tracks can be found. The thievery happened in the early morning, when the watch had retired to the toll houses. Tracks on the road are again obscured by morning foot traffic.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Escape from the Zoo

I had this crazy idea for a game as I drove by the zoo the other day:

Players take on the roles of animals who have escaped from the zoo. They need to remain free, hiding from or taking out humans when necessary.

Sounds like a decent premise. I just see everyone playing lions and tigers and bears and snakes, with nobody playing penguins.

Maybe the penguins don't escape.

Monday, July 8, 2013

[WFRP 3e] Eye for an Eye Conclusion

(Previously in Eye for an Eye)

From Bruno the kennel master:

"I was walkin' the hounds around the perimeter, 'cause they was all antsy 'n stuff, when this large, red beast with wings falls down off the roof to land at meh feet. One of them new porters, that dwarf fella, was on top o' the creature gettin' ready to whack 'em with Korden's hammer. I don't know how he gots the hamer; all them dwarf doin's are beyond me ken.

"Anyway, these two falls down at meh feet from the roof, and what can I do but whack at the thing wit meh sword? I gives the creature a good ol' poke wit the business end, and it stops movin'. Next thing I know, it's all "congrats, hero!" I'm jus tryin' to start a water brigade to put out the wall the beastmen got burnin'

"I don't need none of this "hero" stuff. I got dogs what need takin' care of now that the hullabaloo's over."

Friday, July 5, 2013

[PortCon] Marvel Exiles: Hellfire and Doom

It's an alternate reality. Professor X is the head of the Hellfire Society. Dr Doom runs the other faction in town, the Allied Nations. Neither are "good." The adventurers are dragged from their own continuums to overcome a world-altering event in this timeline.

Psylocke: Filled with assassin and telepathic abilities.

My Companions
Strong Guy (Guido)
Ultimate Spider Man (Miles Morales)
Penance (Billy Baldwin)
Iron Man (Eugene Thompson)

I used my telepathic abilities to trail someone who turns out to be a clone of Peter Parker, Cain Parker. The second Spiderman we now know, after the one in our party.

We split up. The other part of our party meets Peter Parker. The third Spiderman we now know. There are far too many Spidermen for this to end well.

Our part of the party is recruited into the resistance, led by Captain America and a crippled Tony Stark. The other half of the part is recruited by Peter Parker, who has bought and taken over the Baxter Building.

It turns out the X-Men don't exist. Psylocke is a little at a loss. She also finds out that she, not her brother, is Captain Britain in this reality. How's that for a lot to process?

The endgame battle takes place at the Baxter Building, where the Hulk is activated to try to take out both the Hellfire Society and the Doom Alliance...and everyone else in the building.

Thanks to our heads-up, the resistance was able to nullify Hulk's rage after a (relatively) short period of time, circumventing total destruction. We also nullify Peter Parker's alliance with a multi-unit robotic supervillain (whose name I forget).

We left the GM's expected series of events early on, and he had to make up a lot of circumstance on-the-spot. You couldn't tell, though, and things were pretty smooth. We felt like we made a great contribution to the timeline.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Use of Social Networks

If I had a product creator asking me the best ways to use social networks, I would advise them thusly:

Twitter: Use this for announcements. It's not useful for conversations.

Facebook: Use this for keeping up with friends and family only. Don't friend fans or people you don't know.

If you have a Facebook Page for your company/product/what-have-you, use it for announcements.

If you have a Facebook discussion group, let the fans discuss your product. Reply when something catches your eye. If there was one place on Facebook that I were to suggest the creator cultivate professional interaction, this would be the one place.

Google+: Use this for your professional postings. Post thoughts, new developments, pictures, convention info, etc. on this forum, and interact with the people in your circles. Reply to comments. Comment on the posts of others in your circles, especially prolific posters who have lots of other active people in their circles.

Do some Hangouts. Get your fans interacted and excited. They will spread the excitement to others.

Have a Community. Treat it like the Facebook discussion group.

Website: Every business, no matter how large or how small, should have a website. Even if all you do is sell small print run booklets at cost. If that's the case, your blog can be your website. If you become a larger business, your blog (if you have one) can be a subset of a more business-focused website. 

The website should be run by your computer guru. Unless it's a simple blog, the creator shouldn't have to worry about the website. Let someone else with the time and the training update your site with the latest news and products.

If your website has a Forum, let others in your business run it. The fans need to see and interact with the others in your business anyway. This is a good place for them to do it. As the creator, go on special occasions or when you have some downtime and want to interact more.

This is how I would do it, you know, if I was in the business. I'd love to give my theory a try!

What do you think? What have I missed?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

[WFRP 3e] Eye For An Eye Part 5

Continued from the Journal of Tor'endirathelevellon to His Lady Ariel, Queen of the Elves of the Wood

Part 4

This is the way the world ends: Not with a bang but a whimper.

It is because you have seen first-hand the ravages of chaos and beastmen that I feel confident telling you what I witnessed in the basement that night. The beasts of the wood a fell and foul creatures, indeed, but the pure, palpable evil of these human cultists make beastment seem perfectly natural.

As we stared into the macabre ritual taking place, I could feel part of my spirit, my very essence, sucked out of me to fuel rite. Trying my hardest to ignore the chill of evil, I shot as rapidly as possible toward the one-eyed Gregor in a vain attempt to forestall future events.

Two arrows struck the man and hardly seemed to slow him from his chaotic murmurings. Blood erupted from my arrows' wounds, but it was not the red blood we expect from humans. It was a sickly dark color, more expected from dwarfish machinery than a living being. The thrice-damned doctor and the female cook left their places in the circle to attack me.

Dr. Steiger pulled out a scalpel, sliced a shallow wound into his own neck, and then used the filthy instrument to puncture my unarmored chest. There was something otherworldly about the wound, and I felt my very sanity become unhinged. Though I suffered other wounds during this battle, I believe it is this one, infected wound that is the cause of this sickness which will shortly take my life.

Beside me, Stedd, the dwarven boatman also attacked the feral cultists. Though his attacks were precise and vicious, the crazed humans seemingly refused to die. It took too long for the dwarf to break through the human ranks to reach the altar and attempt to stop the ritual.

The doctor and the cook continued to assault me with the scalpel and a meat cleaver. As you know, my specialty is with the bow, and though I dodged and parried, in the end they overwhelmed me. I fell to the floor, my precious lifeblood pumping out of multiple wounds.

Stedd reached Gregor, but not before the steward could plunge his unholy dagger into the bound sacrifice. The tapestry on which the sacrifice lay began to glow a sickly hue. Gregor, the doctor, and the cook made their escape while Stedd was entangled with a remaining cultist.

As I lay dying, I thought back upon the task you had assigned to me. I thought of my forest home and how comfortable, even arrogant I was in its familiar embrace. We elves are prepared to fight massive, inhuman beasts. We are prepared to defend ourselves from unnatural magics as they assault our peaceful glades and glens. We drill in preparation to slaughter evil races who infringe on our homeland. However, we are not prepared for the duplicitous nature of humanity. We are not ready for the race of creatures that should be aiding us in our eternal battle against chaos but instead spend their time waging internal wars.

The humans are not ready to join our cause. They are neutralized, battling the enemy within.

Torendir was found in the basement during the cleanup after the events at Grunewald Lodge. He was feverish but alive. He was taken to a private room in the lodge, too weak to walk but able to pen this missive to his queen. Shortly after completing his message, the elf looked longingly out the room's window into the forest below. Stedd was present as 'Tor' exhaled one last painful breath and never breathed in again.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More Than Just Snakes

I'm starting to think I should have more than just snake people in the South Lands of my Warhammer game. Maybe I should use Lamia and Lammasu of various types, just as it was suggested I use various types of snakes as various races. These creatures fit very well into the barren, desert landscape. And they don't get used much elsewhere. 

Read my inspiration for this:


Description: Creatures that have the head of a human and the body of a lion, goat, deer or snake, said to eat children
Things that are known:
  • Human are their prey
  • They are intelligent and have powers of illusion
  • They like to live in arid desolate places
  • They have the heads and/or torso's of humans, with animal lower bodies
  • They can see in darkness
  • They bait and trap men, using them for sex, sport, and supper

Monday, July 1, 2013

[PortCon] The Dionysian Gambit (Serenity RPG)

The Dionysius, the most luxurious space liner in the 'verse, is hosting the annual High Stakes Poker Tournament. The upper crust of Alliance society will be there to wager their winnings and hope for a chance to win 10 million credits! It sounds almost too good to be true. But with that much scratch at stake, somethin's bound ta go wrong....

Mr Gresham, an aristocrat who deals in antiquities. A competitor has been undercutting his business, and Mr Gresham severely needs this prize money to fund a new expedition. His poker ain't so great, but his connections to high society are outstanding.

My Companions
A registered companion, thinking about retirement
A professional poker champion who thinks he's high society
An ex police officer turned ship security
A pilot posing as part of the crew
A lady farmhand who was naive as all get out but could take any of us in a fight
An almost invisible drifter with his own agenda
A heroin junky looking to score big

My biggest surprise with this game was that the GM actually wanted us to play Texas Hold 'em Poker, a game I know nothing and care nothing about. He gave us certain advantages due to our skills (reading other players, bluffing other players, intimidating other players). However, in the end, the majority of the time slot was spent playing a few rounds of poker, first against NPCs and then against each other.

Since I don't really care about Texas Hold 'em, I did whatever I could with the plot outside of the card game. I used my powerful contacts to try to dig up some dirt on this other antiquities dealer who keeps undercutting me. I was sure something shady was going on, and I wanted him exposed so my business would come back.

I also decided to make a few deals with some affluent spectators when I wasn't at the poker table playing. I got a couple financiers for a mine excavation that I know is a sure thing. Even if the poker game fell through, I was set for the near future.

It turns out that other players at the table had plans to steal the prize money and get away. Well, they accomplished their underhanded doings. The prize money was stolen, and three of us were given 1 million credits in consolation/insurance fees for the guaranteed money.

Naturally, in my mind I'm the one who won the tournament. The only other people still in the game when the lights went out and the money was stolen were either cheating, a layabout druggie, and an uneducated farmgirl.