Friday, January 30, 2015

Mini Review: The Manor Issue 3

The Manor is a labor of love OSR 'zine put out by Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor.

Mine of Rot & Disease - A short undead-centered poisoned water supply adventure. I could see running this at a convention. Simple and a good set up for old friends getting together to game and socialize. Oddly, it gives an introduction to a Townsfolk section, but then never lists the townsfolk.

Pog Nog's Cart - An NPC goblin who sells supplies from a cart. I want to start using Pog Nog in my games immediately.

Adzeer: God of the Monster Hunt - A specialty ranger/cleric class for Blood & Treasure RPG. I am not familiar with the RPG. However, I think I would design the class a bit differently from what I see. Either way, it could be fun.

Now to see if I can submit something to the Rusty Battle Axe Poetry Slam section of the 'zine....

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

[D&D 2e] Character Profile: Kryphon

Kryphon Felix Drexle is a half elf rogue, built using the Bounty Hunter kit. He has a half elf brother, Kerun, with whom he adventures. Their backstory is as follows;

Our father was a sylvan elf who met our mother in a glade during a full moon. He was intoxicated with wine due to a revelry he clan partook in that night. In the moonlight, our mother was a comely enough sight for our father, and they had a tryst. Afterward he left, leaving our mother pregnant. She took up the mistletoe she had been collecting for a druid friend and returned to her home.
Our mother was a poor servant of a middle class household and was sickly quite often. Since she only worked for a middle class house, she didn't live with them but returned to her own hovel daily. 
When we were 20, she died, leaving us with practically nothing and no one. I turned to hunting out food from people I figured had more than enough, and you started going around trying to find a job as an armsman, watchman, house guard, militia, or any hiring a strong arm. You wanted to make money using a sword, but no one seemed to want to hire you, possibly because you were a half elf, possibly because you looked like a pauper, or possibly because you didn't even have your own sword. Even when you did find a job, we had to keep moving from town to town because I was new at the thieving gig and kept getting caught.
I wanted you to have your own sword, so you might get a position you wanted at some town, city, or village.  I finally found the shiny claymore you had always wanted but got caught stealing it...however, not before running out of town with it and with you.
The next town we got to, I decided that I couldn't keep living the way we had been living, and I needed some help. I needed some employment and a better income. I wasn't sure who would need my services, so I asked around clandestinely and found the local thieves guild. When I joined, they had need of a bounty hunter. I've been hunting people ever since.

Age: 25 Weight: 150 Height: 5'6" Sex: M Hair: Blonde Eyes: Brown Level: 5

Str 15 Stamina 14 Muscle 16
Dex 18 Aim 18 Balance 18
Con 11 Health 11 Fitness 11
Int 17 Knowledge 19 Reason 15
Wis 10 Intuition 10 Willpower 10
Cha 12 Leadership 12 Appearance 12

Weapon: Sabre, Short bow, Dagger+2/+3 vs large

Armor: None

Gear: Thieves Tools (Lockpicks, sm. metal mirror), Skullcap (black silk, non-sheer), Belt pounches (2), Chalk, Quiver, Pitons (2), Caltrops (1 bag, 2 lbs), Hooded travel cloak with 5 inner pouches

Backpack: Small sack, small hammer, hooded cloak, cloth (common, 10 square yards), candles (9), flint and steel, grappling hook, pitons (8)

Miscellaneous Items:  Mini blade, healing potions, brass lantern ring with Harper symbol, potion - control undead (wight), Denora's ring (invisible to undead), boots of elvenkind.

Wealth: 306 gp, 58 sp, 13 cp stashed under a loose floorboard in bunkhouse

Optional(Skills & Powers)
Racial Abilities: Infravision 60', Sword Bonus, Bow Bonus, Detect Secret Doors, Weapon Specialization, Immune to Sleep & Charm
Traits: Altertness
Disadvantages: None
Class Abilities: Backstab, Climb Walls, Detect Magic, Find/Remove Traps, Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Pick Locks, Pick Pockets.
Kit abilities: None
Nonweapon Proficiencies: Tracking, Appraising, Information Gathering, Observation, Carpentry
Weapon Proficiencies: Sabre, Short bow

Monday, January 26, 2015

[WFRP 2e] Renegade Princeps 2

Vaervenshyael - Female Elf Protagonist

My companions
Tankred "Silver Bear" Tenneckermann - Human Mercenary
Wilhelm Hechland - Human Engineer
Johann Wilhelm Woeller - Human Barber Surgeon

Ludovic Hasselhoff - Human Prince
Maximillian Morningglory - Halfling Witch Hunter and Master of the Horse
Pieter Adler - Human Miner

(Previous Notes)

The sheik of Ubain has sent his messengers to repeat his claim on our land, Padua-on-Avon.

Maximillian stopped in to Vaervenshyae's dwelling early in the day to alert her than she may hear about a horse rustling later. She is welcome to investigate it prudently, but she should not be able to find the culprits. (It also just so happens that Tankred and his group are hired to steal the visiting Sheik's horses.)

We learn of a place in town called The Old Homestead. It's an area partially burned down by orcs. and now treated as haunted house by the locals. Sounds like a great place to investigate.

The engineer wishes to examine the weapon shard we found last sitting. To test the priest's assessment about it being magical, he invents Wilhelm Hechland's Amazingly Astounding Magicodetecto Device, version 1. Essentially he crushes it between two anvils while simultaneously smashing a toad on the item. The theory is that it is well known that magical items are unbreakable and unable to be dirtied. Vaervenshyael, in possession of the item, doesn't trust the engineer and first asks Ludovic if he is amenable to this testing which will leave the item in pieces if it turns out not to be magical.

Ludovic checks the item over before agreeing to testing. He believes the  shard is shaped like cleaver (or skaven spear blade...just my meta theory) without handle. Maybe made out of dwarf gromril? It rings of crystal and metal. He thinks perhaps it is star metal? Vaervenshyael thinks both the humans are rubes.

Wilhelm tested the blade. It didn't break. It also remained clean, in that the toad guts rolled right off afterwards.

The Sheik's men came complaining to Vaervenshyael of stolen horses. She was not sympathetic. "If you can't keep control of your property, maybe you don't deserve to keep it." They are unsatisfied with the elf's lack of concern and leave to complain to Ludovic. He sends them back to their ruler without their property.

Finally, Pieter Adler comes into town, stating he may have found the old Iron Mine of Abdul al-Shadaar. His timing is impeccable, as the town smith (Tankred) was just complaining about a dearth of raw material in town.

As an aside, Vaervenshyael completely forgot to get reimbursed for purchases made in the first sitting.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Contemplating the Caller, Mapper, and a Timekeeper

Today the topic of timekeeping came up: 
Timekeeping is essential, without it things like spell durations, light sources, and so on become much less important than otherwise. I WANT TO KEEP TRACK OF TIME. But damn if it isn't hard as hell. Especially when the DM has so much other stuff to worry about.
With the question:
If you were redesigning the core chassis, what could you do to make timekeeping easier?
My reply:

The players have a caller, a mapper, and a timekeeper. In other words, recruit the players to help.

I've been giving this a little thought lately, because I think I'm about to return to using a caller. All these roles serve to help the GM.

Mapper: As a GM, I draw the room/corridor/whatever on the party map and hand the party map to the players. The mapper could be in charge of labeling, asking for clarification, searching the map for possible secret rooms, etc.

Caller: Players like to all blurt out different things they want to do, often all at once and in a conflicting manner. I usually have to ask for clarification, and they often change their minds when they hear what the others want to do. The caller could help cull and organize all that noise and present it to the GM as official "this is what we do." It would save me a lot of time clarifying and asking "are you sure?" etc.

Timekeeper: The timekeeper could work with the GM, keeping track of the PC's resources. "It has been X hours, we need to light another torch/refill the lantern with oil." They could also work with the GM, "We've done thus and we've done such. How much time do you think has passed?" This could jog the GM's memory that we have some timed events we are keeping track of too that might come to pass, expire, etc.

It also gives those bored players something else to do to keep them engaged. "You can't play Angry Birds in your downtime, you're the timekeeper!"

What do you think? What do you do?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

[WFRP 2e] Renegade Princeps 1

My Character
Vaervenshyael - Elf Protagonist (Female)

My Companions
Tankred "Silver Bear" Tenneckermann - Human Mercenary
Wilhelm Hechland - Human Engineer

Maximillian Morningglory - Halfling Witch Hunter
Ludovic Hasselhoff - Human Prince
Most Reverend Scholar Roderic Leer - Verenan Priest, Librarian, Antiquities Curator

In the Border Princes, a Princedom dubbed Padua, upon (or overlooking) the river Avon.
Tales of ruins to the south.
The abutting prince, an Arabyan sheikh, claims he is the proper ruler of our land.
The Lonely Mountain in the distance to the north is claimed to be a dormant volcano. There are often geysers of rotten smelling water that erupt nearby.
There are Badlands to the north, beyond the mountains. They are inhabited by goblinoids.
There are supposedly elvish ruins to the north.
Padua is a relatively prosperous crossroads with approximately 100 settlers.

The Story Begins
A group of adventurers/treasure seekers show up in Padua with some goods to sell. The rulers of Padua require that all potentially valuable goods be assessed by them for their personal interests. These rulers send the characters with the antiquities curator priest to evaluate the goods.

Vaervenshyael walks in and directly asks to see a supposed "sword" the adventurers reported having. What they pull out is actually an incomplete glass-like blade that they had used as a shovel. The priest touches it and states that he believes it is magical. The companions stare him down like he is mad for saying such a thing out loud. The priest goes on to state that he also believes it to be cursed. The adventurers want no part of it. Vaervenshyael pays them 5 GC (which she makes a mental note to recoup from Ludovic).

The priest asks to borrow 3 brass to buy another item the adventurers have for sale (which she makes a mental note to recoup from him). It is apparently a pottery shard with a strange beetle/bug imprinted. He states he has a collection of these curiosities from around the realm.

The sitting ends with these facts/hooks laid out for us.

Monday, January 19, 2015

[WFRP 2e] Morrslieb's Shadow Finale (46)

Maximillian Morningglory, Halfling Vampire Hunter

My companions
Udrin Sor-Valdir - High Elf Wizard
Ludovic Hasselhoff - Human Entertainer

Abelhardt Mullberger - Journeyman Apprentice
Brother Dieter - Priest of Morr
Sir Ortolf Eiche - Magister and Wizard Lord of the Azyr Wind, Professor of Antiquities of the Celestial College, First Adviser to Baron Valken of Reikland

The gates of the estate opened and Sir Eiche rode through, with several other riders behind him. He circled us, surprised to find us there. Instead of joyfully welcoming us, he actually threatened us into the house...the house we just spent a lot of energy trying to get into while looking for him. 

While Eiche's compatriots were dismounting, Maximillian noticed tails and claws. They were skaven! They were instructed to take our weapons, and we headed to the parlour.

(Note: Maximillian did not give up his stakes [he's a vampire hunter] and Ludovic didn't give up some hidden daggers.)

On the way to the parlour, we saw Mullberger strung up and bleeding. It was obvious he had been tortured. Eiche spat out a snide comment about his apprentice not giving him the information he wanted to hear. He then started asking about Udrin's medallion.

(Note: These medallions find chaos stones, which can be turned into large sources of warpstone.)

We continued trying to be polite despite Eiche's persevering gruffness. He eventually capitulated and offered us some tea. Ludovic used the tea tray to start a brawl. When reaching for his tea, he grabbed the entire tray and launched it at the face of the skaven who was guarding Udrin, our spellcaster. The tea was hot, and the ratman was burned.

Maximillian grabbed his stakes and threw himself at Sir Eiche, lamenting the lack of his ogre bodyguard.

A skaven defended Eiche and knocked a stake out of Maximillian's left hand

(Note: Critical hit. I wasn't too healthy to begin with, having been critically hit outside the gate in the last session.)

Udrin released a devastating spell (Pillar of Radiance) and blasted the entire room, friend and foe alike. The blast sent Maximillian flying and mildly concussed him.

(Note: Second critical hit of the fight. It took a Fate Point to keep me from dying). 

Maximillian regained his senses to find Eiche staring at Udrin hatefully and casting a spell. The halfling grimaced, rolled himself across the floor, and bumped into the back of Eiche's legs, interrupting a spell that could have killed the elf. Maximillian was too dazed to act further.

Udrin followed up by melting Eiche with a Gaze of Radiance. 

Maximillian awoke, finding Udrin barely standing, Eiche and the Skaven dead, and Ludovic unconscious. Ludovic was awakened, and the group lamely wandered out of the house. On the way out, Udrin ordered some of Eiche's beggar minions to burn the place down. Surprisingly they obeyed.

In the end, the Baron Valkan never existed. Eiche served the skaven, making Valkan up completely.

Udrin told the group he plans on going to his family's holdings in Altdorf and then head to Ulthuan with the medallion. The group's adventures are over. The Old World was saved and few will ever realize it.

Friday, January 16, 2015

GM and NPCs

I know henchmen and NPCs are a big part of RPG history, but I never used them to their fullest potential. As a GM, I never really felt like playing a dozen or more personalities at the table each night. After a while, all the NPC personalities blend into one...unless the GM is really good. I am not yet really good, so the NPCs remain minimal. One the one hand I feel my groups miss out. On the other hand I sure am glad I don't have to play so many characters each sitting.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

[WFRP 2e] Morrslieb's Shadow 45

Maximillian Morningglory, Halfling Vampire Hunter

My companions
Udrin Sor-Valdir - High Elf Wizard
Ludovic Hasselhoff - Human Entertainer

Brother Dieter - Priest of Morr

(GM's Write-up, edited for my blog).

Tonight the Winds of Chaos erupted.

It started with doubles and triples rolls for Udrin, who's player was absent the GM played best he could: basically aloof and the better of the rest of the party.

The party began at the walled estate of a patron whose Azyr wizard (Sir Eiche) turned up missing over a week ago (game time).  Things got weird. Udrin cast the Skywalk spell on himself so he could scout the other side of the wall...and he rolled doubles. This results was a 91 on the Minor Chaos Manifestation.

A 91 is two (2) chaos events. The first caused the party to break out in a cold sweat. The second roll was a 98 to occur on the next spell cast. Well, that had to happen quickly as the Skywalk had to be followed by another so Udrin could return to the party.

This meant rolling on the Major Chaos Manifestation table. That was a 99! Suddenly, it's a Catastrophic Manifestation of 53. A d10 roll caused 7 Daemonic Imps to appear "asking for daddy" (or at least a controller). The chaos hunting Maximillian swung at the first one.

The imps attacked back. Maximillian took a critical hit, avoiding Insanity, but down to 0 wounds, and spared only by the Sleep of the Dead spell by Brother Dieter and then Daemonbane by Udrin.

Needing healing, Maximillian asked Udrin, "How that magic touch?" Obliging him, the elf rolled successfully enough with three (3) 10s! Major Chaos event #2! At first Maximillian thought the warmth was the healing spell working, but he soon realized the elf had burst into flames!

Taking damage the first round and then deftly managing to literally jump out of his boots, Udrin was left completely naked and without eyebrows.

So. Much. Goodness. So. Many. Laughs.

GM Note: This is why dice rolling and the random "friction" of them can drive so much story, people. Dice rule!

Monday, January 12, 2015

[WFRP 2e] Morrslieb's Shadow 44

Maximillian Morningglory, Halfling Vampire Hunter
Magnus the Pony

My companions
Udrin Sor-Valdir - High Elf Wizard
Ludovic Hasselhoff - Human Entertainer
Durak Braksson - Dwarf

Tegort - Ogre bodyguard
Abelhardt Mullberger - Journeyman Apprentice
Mordrin Skorkinson, Giant Slayer
Brother Dieter - Priest of Morr
Bianca - Our boat

(Previous update)

Mullberger's visions at the burned down inn were mere hints and shadows only. A subjective eye could make out Skaven, but then a subjective eye can see whatever it wishes. He scattered the ashes he was using for his spell and returned to the Bianca.

We were again hit with the enormity of a city proper as we sailed into Altdorf. It took time to get to a proper berth, Mullberger anxious to disembark all the while. When we docked, he took off for the University. Tegort also took his leave to return to his family, but let us know we could call upon him if we needed him again.

After some confusion of who was going where, Maximillian decided to follow Mullberger. Mordrin followed the halfling.

 The halfling didn't feel as if things had come to a proper conclusion with the magisters and felt Mullberger was probably key to setting things to rest. Maximillian's delay in following the Journeyman we enough to note that he was not the only one following the wizard. A beggar kept hot on the apprentice's heels.

Maximillian addressed the beggar, and even gave him some alms, hoping to get information out of the man. While thankful, the beggar was tight-lipped and evaded Maximillian's questioning. He slipped off into the crowd.

Maximillian had lost Mullberger but knew his destination. He continued to the University and asked to see the apprentice. He was told the man was not there and had not been there. To Maximillian's reasoning that left only one other option: Baron Valken for whom Sir Eiche worked.

Maximillian headed toward the merchant's district, but Mordrin was waylaid after spotting a tavern. The Cheerful End was patronized by followers of Morr, some of them recognizable. Brother Dieter, last seen at the now burned-down inn upriver, recognized Maximillian and had a seat beside him. The two caught up on events, and Maximillian indicated his intent to enter the merchant's district. Dieter stated he could get the halfling inside without alerting the multitudinous city watch. Maximillian felt it would be more difficult to remain inconspicuous with the slayer, so he left the dwarf drinking at the bar and slipped out the door.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Outside Realism

In my WFRP 1e game I have a player with two knife-throwing characters. His goal is to have the two characters across the room from each other, throwing knives at the enemy in between, and catching to re-throw the knives that don't hit. I think he could tell I wasn't immediately sold on the idea.

My friend knows more about weapons than I do, albeit mostly modern-day ones. He was excited about the idea, but I didn't think it would work. It seems to me that you need to throw a knife differently if you want to hurt someone than you would throw it if you were expecting someone to catch it. We play fantasy games, but we like to have some realism involved.

Anyway, I've decided to look past the lack of verisimilitude. We are here to have fun. What he wants to do sounds cool to him. It's not going to break our game. What the heck, let his characters form a blade barrier and let's all enjoy the game!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Gaming Goal

I have this blossoming desire to play a long term D&D game. I can't really add another session to my biweekly schedule, so I'd need to convince one of my current groups to play and someone in my group to run it. That goal should last me through the year.

Monday, January 5, 2015

[WFRP] Doomstones Session 5

Started with the party coming upon the shrine and getting their first view of the ogres. Many Cool checks were failed as they got an idea of what they were up against: ogres. They set up camp off the trail and figured out a plan of approaching the shrine.

The human entertainer was shoved out to talk to the ogre guards. He found out they were residents of the shrine and they were hungry (surprise). This gave the halfling, Professor Brambleburr, the opening he needed to get in. He walked up and offered his services as a cook if he could explore the locale in a professional archaeological manner. The ogres loved the idea of a cook and assumed his fancy words meant he wanted to see the shrine.

The halfling and a dwarf checked out the shrine finding a large, dark stone on a plinth as well as a random hole in the floor. The halfling then cooked for the two ogre priests. The meal was so good that the ogres allowed him to bring in his friends to explore the complex if he would cook for everyone. He sent the dwarf out for the others with precise instructions: have the other halfling, the one with herbalism skill, bring in enough herbs to put the ogres to sleep.

The herbalist (with a stellar intelligence check) had/found enough trollbane to knock every ogre in the place unconscious. Suddenly the party had free reign of the complex for at least 5 hours.

The search began. The archaeologist swept every room looking for clues. He left behind the ogres' money and most of their valuables, as these creatures were the least violent, almost nicest, ones the group had met in their travels. The entertainer didn't think along the same lines. He and the herbalist's bodyguard went around slitting ogre throats.

They took their time heading into the priests' quartets, searching thoroughly for clues. They headed further down into the complex, triangulating with the crystal of fire glowing brighter as it neared another crystal.

All the clues led the party to the lowest level, which happened to be covered in two feet of mud. The mud contained some worms that were found to eat metal. Two party members lost the lower parts of their chain coats. They also found a room with two doors magically locked. Nothing they did would open the doors.

Heading back upstairs, they remembered the hole in the shrine floor. They lowered the archaeologist down through the hole. He found a large room with a platform rising out of the mud directly underneath. The hole was surrounded by bars all the way from the platform to the ceiling. He could only look into the room.

He had the idea to use the mud worms to eat through the bars. The party ended with access to the lower level.