Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Rotating GMs, an Idea

We hit a stopping point in +Ken H's Monteport campaign.  We maneuvered to have Duncan become king without spilling one drop of blood.  We decided to take a break from that campaign and +Rob Conley volunteered to run his 5e version of his Majestic Wilderlands.

What I purposed was to have a shared world and each of us take turns GMing.  Why?  One, it sounds cool.  It reminds me of the Thieves World anthology where several authors shared the city of Sanctuary and the denizens within.  And the real reason is our group is getting larger.  All of us are GM capable.  And half the group hasn't had a chance to run anything.  +Chris C. has done a bit of GMing, but I defiantly want to see more, +Douglas Cole I only had the pleasure of him GMing me for a session, +Daniel McEntee and +Joshua Macy I haven't had a chance at all to have them GM.  And I've been chomping on the bit lately to run an adventure.

The general set up would be, GM develops a setting and an adventure.  The adventure lasts 1 to 3 sessions.  Second GM, rifts off the 1st GMs details of the setting, including groups, gods and whatever weird stuff that was introduced.  Run another adventure for 1 to 3 sessions.  Repeat. 

The difficult part is the starting.  Having seven folks agree on stuff can get tricky.  The good thing is we are seven guys who get along very well and have a great time.  I looking forward to the discussion and each one of us making our point for what we would like to see.

One of the first things we'll have to decide, is the genre.  We'll have to chose that first before we begin.  Before we pick a system.  Then there are several other large decisions to make.  We're planning a night to discuss all this. 

I'm curious to hear if anyone else has done this?  I've heard of it, but never seen it happen.  If you have done it before, tips on how to do it are welcome.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Random Map Monday 6

I started a Patreon campaign back in June 2014, this was the map for my first offering.  A roadside encounter.  A simple encounter, but the map has a lot of features.  
Traveling on the road. 
  • Sparse woods 
  • Boulders/rocks
  • Muddy creek banks 
  • Small creek 
  • Cliff side
  • Small cavern
While it is a simple encounter, local tinker gets kidnapped by a bad guy, the environment helps make it feel a bit larger in scope.  Plus, I like to use different colors in the map to give the map some texture.  I like how it turned out overall.  I would have liked a better cavern and cliff side.

This week I begin to work on Manor #8 in earnest.  I have a fantastic article about grappling to kick it off.  And another group of critters created by another OSRian.  I'm looking forward to getting it started.

Happy Map Monday folks.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Lost Treasure of the Bone Soldiers


The Lost Treasure of the Bone Soldiers is my latest Patreon offering.  To get players interested in the adventure I was thinking of just throwing a treasure map in the way.  A crude thing that mentions buried treasure. Simple, but effective.  This adventure is short, but thick with character ending possibilities.  First there is the simple you fall a 100' and turn into broken meat sack.  Then there is the harpies charm ability, depending on the game this could be a permanent situation.  And lastly, the life draining ability of the wraith.  That ain't no joke.  
I introduce a group in this adventure, but I don't give any background.  Bone Soldiers.  Anyone who has read Starter Adventures will find mention of them in magic-user entry, On the Road.  Bone Soldiers are a group of folks dedicated to the necromantic arts.  One of their artifacts was hidden here many years ago.  

Until next adventure, keep you dice wet with the blood of the party and never forget, the slice of pizza is always the GMs.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Feature: Strange Stars

+trey causey has recently released his much anticipated Strange Stars.  Its a setting book for space adventures.  Right now it is available in PDF at RPGNow and Trey is waiting on the proof for the print copy.  I plan on grabbing a hard copy as soon as its available.

I think Strange Stars is amazing.  It looks incredible.  The artwork and layout are fantastic and pleasing to read.  Trey's created a sandbox in space to tromp around in and the way the book is laid out, the information is a joy to read, easy to find to reference and compare. 

It's nice to break away from the fantasy genre once in a while.  To strap on a laser rifle instead of a longsword.  Getting into fights with killer robots instead of orcs.  And getting in trouble at the local bar...well, I guess some things don't change across genres. 

Seriously consider getting this book.  It's got an old time feel with new ideas.  I think Trey has done an incredible job.  I hope to get a future generation of Boris (my character in his Weird Adventures game) kicking it into hyperdrive, guns blasting while smoke a cheap cigar. 

Hell yeah.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Citizens of Ashbourne, Part 4

9. Empty
This structure is currently empty.  The previous tenants did not pay their taxes and were no longer productive in the mine so Maximus evicted them from Ashbourne.  Before they left, the wife (none in the village will say who lived here because they believe speaking their name will curse them) made a sacrifice within the building, that if anyone else try to live in this home they will be forever cursed.  The villagers believe in the curse because she was of Thilol ancestry.  People known for their primitive and powerful magic.  The building is in disrepair.  The doors and windows are boarded up.  Should someone take a look inside they will see the magic circle still on the floor with a goat rotting in the center.  Maximus has forbid anyone to enter, those that do will be fined or put into the stockade.

Valuables: Nothing of value is in the home.  Only a few burn candles and a decaying carcass of a goat.

Plot Hooks:  The locals claim to have heard noises from the house at night, but the boards are still intact.  Maximus took off a few boards to look inside and found no evidence of anyone staying there.  On the third night a horrible scream awakens everyone.  It came from the empty house.  They pried open the board from one of the windows.  Laying outside the circle of candle is a charred corpse.  No one is sure who he is or why he or she was there.  The corpse is Alexander, a mage from the House of the Strange Majestic.  He was investigating the magic behind a Thilol curse.  No one will enter the house.  Within a day or two other members of the house will arrive and demand the retrieval of their brother.  Maximus will not open the house because he is afraid of the curse.  The villagers are at a standoff.  The house mages are not patient and will use their powers to tear apart Ashbourne if they need to get Alexander.

 10. Exxok (miner)
Exxok is a small man, but very strong.  He lives here with his mother, Lorinia.  He doesn't speak much, but doesn't shy away from gatherings. Exxok loves to mine.  Loves to discover new things.  To him the earth is a mystery with an endless supplies of treasures waiting to be found.  Exxok could easily pick up and go if their was excitement to be found in the ground elsewhere.  Lorinia his mother is kind and enjoys company.  Should any females be in the party she attempts to arrange a meeting with her son.

Valuables:  The home is nice and comfortable.  He has nothing of value other than a silver snuff box (10sp) that he carries in his pocket.  It's usually empty unless he finds something interesting.  It's often a curious rock he'll store inside.  Lorinia has a small hand mirror with a handle carved from aged wood.  It is decorated with etchings of sleeping animals.  The materials the mirror is made of is not worth anything, but it possess a trace of magical power.  It needs to be infused with more magic for its true properties to be revealed.  It is a Mirror of Ellic (see New Magic Item). 

Plot Hooks: Exxok went into the forest the evening before, but hasn't returned.  There is evidence in the nearby trees of a struggle.  And the fact that he left behind his pick and shovel is not a good sign.  Exxok was caught and taken back to a broken tower to be pressed into Margesh Blackblood's crew.  If the players can get to him within a week he won't be 'one of them'.  After one week he will have been indoctrinated into their crew and fight anyone who would take him away.

While on one of Exxok's forest digging excursions he finds a large chain link.  In the following couple of days he finds the large chain.  He tells the others and he gets a few of them to help.  Exxok get obsessed with finding out what it is and stops going to the mine to work.  Before Maximus wrings his neck he sees Exxok has dug up a 30' square area.  The chain is connected to the center. 

11. Rud (miner)
Rud is the former torchbearer of Maximus.  He is well liked in Ashbourne.  He works in the mine and drinks a lot afterwards.  He's a happy drunk who jokes around.  Even though he drinks, he never misses work.  His motto is, "if I work I can play".  He is good at carpentry work and helps out others if repairs are needed.  Once he's drunk, he's likely to pee on anything.  He has the habit of urinating on the houses of others.  Peed on one of Warren's (1.) horses and now they are enemies because of the incident.  (inspired by Luvien, a Rob Conley character obsessed with pissing on the entire world)

Valuables: Rud's place is a mess.  It smells bad and has stuff everywhere.  Within the mess there are three toolboxes.  One of the toolboxes contains ten rubies (100sp each).  It was a gift given to him by Maximus.  He could sell the rubies and improve his living situation, but the rubies have more sentimental value to him.  

Plot Hooks:  There is a man in the stockades.  He will not divulge who he is or where he came from.  Rud claims he saw the man trying to break into the storage (4.).  The man laughs when he is threatened with legal action.  The man is Worton, a low level thug who is a member of the Silent Knives thieves guild.  He and three of his friends thought it would be an easy score to grab the cuprite.  His friends will attempt to break Worton out of the stockades that night.

Variation of the above plot hook.  Rud sees a man breaking into the storage.  He goes over to investigate, a scuffle ensues, Rud kills the man (Worton) with a dagger strike to the heart.  Worton's friends plan to get revenge that night.

New Magic Item

Mirror of Ellic
This item once belonged to the sorceress queen, Ellic.  She was known for her ruthless tactics and her blood magic.  The mirror was given to her by one of her advisers whose name has long been lost.  Looking into the mirror subdues the savage, softens a hate filled heart and calms the enraged.  The adviser wanted her to be a good queen.  He was impaled on the stake for his efforts.  Ellic gave it to one of her dress maidens and since has been handed down through the years.  The mirror only has a trace of the magic it once had.  If imbued with magic, such as viz its powers will return.  It takes a full round of looking directly into the mirror for it to have a calming affect.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Citizens of Ashbourne, Part 3

7. Pounter & Herod (miners)
Pounter is a tall, hunched man.  Herod, his son, is nearly an exact copy of his father, except there is no gray in his brown hair and no hunch.  Both men work in the mine.  Pounter is an experienced miner, he walks hunched over because of all the days in the mine where his height was a disadvantage.  Pounter likes working in Ashbourne, the mine is small in scope, but larger in height.  He has a constant cough from his years in the coal mine.  He recently started coughing up blood, but has hidden that fact from everyone, especially his boy.  Pounter lost his wife and second child ten years ago.  An outlaw knight rode into the village to take some for slaves and kill the others.  His wife and child were among the latter.  Pounter carries this grief with him, but it only surfaces when he's drank too much.

Valuables:  Between the two of them, they have 32sp scattered around the house.  Herod has a small stash of gemstone he believes are valuable and something he can use when he gets married.  He's collected about 100sp worth.  He even does some gold panning in the creek sometimes.

Plot Hooks: Pounter is too sick to go to work, his cough has gotten worse.  Herod discovers his father is coughing up blood, but doesn't want to say anything.  He sought out Ingrid's help, but she is gone.  He asks the party if they can do anything.  He offers his stash of gemstone as payment.  Pounter's sickness required magic, even Ingrid's concoctions wouldn't work.  If his disease is not cured, Pounter's health worsens and within two weeks he will die.

Pounter staggers out of the mine, his face white with fear.  He stammers his words making it difficult to understand.  Then another miner runs out of the mine with a huge smile on his face.  "A gem, as big as my fist," he shouts.  Pounter shakes his head, "It's a grim stone (see Local Legends)."  Those around him become quiet.  Maximus orders everyone out of the mine.  Without the mine, Ashbourne cannot continue to exist.  Maximus needs help, he needs experienced help to extract the grim gem.  If the party agrees to this he will make them citizens of Ashbourne and they are permitted to build a home and Maximus awards them 20 acres to do with as they please. 

8. Guttar's Store
Outside this building is a lot of stuff.  Wheelbarrows, pick-axes, shovels, buckets, piles of wood, and a big cloth flag with the miner's guild symbol of a pick-axe and a shovel crossed.  The metal items are in various stages of rust.  Half the building is dedicated to mining equipment. along with digging instruments there are lanterns, flasks of oil, heavy clothing, gloves and boots.  Guttar run's the store with Helima, a awkward looking girl who covers he face with her dark hair.  Guttar is friendly, too friendly.  He follows around anyone who enters his shop and tried to get them to buy stuff.  He's polite, but he pesters people to buy more than what they came in for.  If he is rebuffed he'll return to his stool and pout.  Helima has a dark side to her.  She takes pleasure when others get hurt.

The other side of the building is where Guttar and his family live.  He is married to Ulma, a large woman with a bad temper.  While she is pleasant to others, she insults and belittles Guttar constantly.  Ulma is one of the few citizens of Ashbourne that can read and write.  She takes jobs on the side when writing is involved.

Valuables: There is 250sp worth of equipment in the store at one time.  He keep a small metal lockbox out in the open on a shelf.  It contains 45sp.  In their home the money is kept under the bed, on Ulma's side.  It is a simple lock box containing 145sp.  There isn't much of value in the house.  It is unkempt and cluttered with more mining equipment.

Plot Hooks: One of Pavlo's (12.) young children was found dead near the mine.  He was hit in the head with a stone.  A few of the other miners remember Guttar being near the mine.  Because of this people are pointing the finger at Guttar.  Ulma is keeping quiet.  With Guttar out of the way she can take over the shop and and marry a real man.  That's why she killed Pavlo's brat.  Ulma wants to be with Guran (15.).  Guran is popular among the miners and is swaying their opinion against Guttar.

Local Legends

Grim Stones
Grim Stones are physical manifestations of bad luck.  They are red/black in color and it takes years to manifest.  Some say they grow in areas where malicious acts of violence and depravity are prevalent, but Grim Stones have been discovered in the wilderness and in isolated areas of the world.  Despite how they are formed are where they are found, those individuals or communities that was exposed to the Grim Stone is possessed by misfortune and tragedy.  Grim Stones once exposed do decay and with each misfortune it gets smaller.  Some mages collect Grim Stones, they keep them in the magically contained display cases.  They often want to harness the powerful magics for their own purposes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Random Map Monday 5 (I Forgot Yesterday Was Monday)

A island feature map with a slice of coastline.  The southern island is supposed to be a mountain, but it looks more like a sphincter.  I guess it's in the right spot.  I imagine a big, flying baddie lives there.  Easts things on the other island and along the coast.  And of course if you have a scary sphincter island you have to have rocky terrain surround it.  No easy access to Sphincter Island! 

That ought to do it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Brittle Bone Lake

Brittle Bone Lake is a small location you can plop into your campaign without much work at all.  This location came about by maps I saw by +Kristian Richards and +matt jackson and the content came about because of a picture drawn by David Trampier of a catoblepas in the original Monster Manuel.  I love it when that happens, two sources of inspiration combine.

You can grab a copy over at my Micro-Adventures Patreon page.

For those patrons at the high end, I'll send out a laminated version of Brittle Bone Lake. 

I think they turned out pretty good.  I rounded the edges so they weren't so damn sharp.  You could have poked your eye out. 

And I'll be breaking out my Batman stamps!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Adventure Difficulty: I Like Peril

I'm writing my next micro-adventure, it's a low-level tromp through two encounters.  It's a treasure map adventure type.  I tend to make adventures on the tough side.  Some say too tough.  I'm a fan of peril.  I like to develop the feeling of danger, situations where the players are damned if they do or don't, and the awareness that death is a possibility.

The adventure that I'm writing, gravity is the real threat, the monsters (harpies) while dangerous aren't as dangerous as a 100' fall.  Here's the setting: players find a map, leads them a waterfall (I haven't named it yet) where the lost treasure of the bone soldier is supposed to be waiting.  A good old buried treasure. 

The players have to traverse a narrow path along a steep hill, where the path encounters the harpies is about 100' up.  The harpies are singing their song and lure their charmed victims off the cliff.  A little Wile E Coyote action.

I think it creates interesting scenarios.  If the charmed character attempts to walk off do the rest of the party grab him or attack the harpy.  There is very little room for failed rolls in this case.  A failed roll could result in a character's death.  There are many who disagree with this philosophy.  But without this kind of threat I think the adventure weakens and I lose my peril.  As I said, I like peril. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Kickstarter Report: Tropes Zombie Edition

+Pete Spahn is the main man behind Small Niche Games.  He's created several great gaming products such as Guidebook to the City of Dolmvay, Blood Moon Rising, The Inn of Lost Heroes and he also does a zine, Brave the Labyrinth.  And as the TV commercials say,...and much, much more.  Now he's giving a Kickstarter a try...well, not a try, he's already delivered on two other successful Kickstarters and last night his Tropes Zombie Edition funded.

Pete has developed a great game around the genre of zombie survival horror.  Imagine having the family over, or the guys and everybody plays a character then unleash the zombies.  Have The Walking Dead playing in the background, or Night of the Living Dead.  Does that not sound like a great night?  Back Peter's TROPES: Zombie Edition!

Oh, and don't forget to order the pizza before the game starts. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Taking 5E Attunement to the Wood Shed

Last night +Ken H decided we needed to do some bookkeeping before starting our session of Monteport.  Book keeping in the way of attunement...I was "What the hell is that?"  In the DMG, on pages 136 & 138, there is a rule that some magic items need to be attuned to the person so that an individual can reap the magical benefits.  A maximum of three items can be attuned to a person at one time.  And not all magical items need to be attuned.

I understand it, but not a fan.  It's a bit fufu for me.  You sit with your magic item during a short rest to get attuned. 

Here's my take on it, for whatever it's worth.  It 's a rule to restrict characters that adventure within a magical item rich campaign.  Like a restrictor plate.  It's there to regulate the power, in this case, the power gained by having a bunch of magic items.  

My opinion is if your going to have a magic rich campaign run with it.  If you want players to have fewer magic items than don't place them in your world.  +Joshua Macy said it felt fiddly, and that's a great word to describe it.

Now I am not bashing.  Not at all.  And I think it's interesting that Ken put it into play.  It created a lot of discussion and thought.  And I am not a huge fan of thinking.  I know +Chris C. liked the rule a lot.  Adding a different element of strategy.  I don't remember the opinions of +Rob Conley or +Douglas Cole.  

I'm curious what others think of attunement and how its played out in your game.  While I am not a fan of the rule, I am curious to how it plays. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Random Map Monday 4

Random Map Monday continues.  I sliced a section of a map and imported it into my Xara program.  The second map, I placed the text, villages and interesting sites.

I use a simple font with very few details.  Then back it with the same text only in white then bevel it out a bit to give it a white background.  It makes the text easier to read and I think it looks good.

This is me messing around with mapping tools.  I don't have anything written for it.  Although I think I could do a one-page hex crawl from this.  I may have to see.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Micro-Adventures in the Mail and Batman Stamps

One of the perks of my Patreon campaign is you get shit in the mail.  Gaming shit to be exact.  Above, my latest micro-adventure, Ossuary of a Death God, will fling itself across the world to my  high-end patrons. 

Although, I am sorry to report, they will not have the Batman stamps on them.  I saw them at the post office the other day and plan on buy as many as I can afford.  Even the postlady said they were awesome and that even the Bat Signals were stamps.  Bat Signal stamps....win.

I, Minister

If you want more accurate accounts that occurred during our Friday night game I advise you to head over to +Douglas Cole's room and read his Three Invade the Mad Overlord or +Peter V. Dell'Orto's post Southern Reaches: Session 10 - Castle of the Mad Archmage 7 - Three Sought Adventure.  Peter's actual post is shorter than the title.  I claim that none of the events that I write are accurate or even happened.  I am the unreliable narrator that those college English courses speak of.  I, Minister, a faithful of Unosum, God of Quantum 1s, this is my version of the same story. 

We started on the surface.  Cuts and boo boos healed.  Seemed to have enough liquid band-aids that we passed on any more purchases.  Then after a short discussion about returning to the arena level we decided not to.  I pointed out we had already hit the sweet spot in the arena when we broke into the treasury.  And since there was one less than four submerging into the madman's sewage pit, we decided to explore a level we had some familiarity.

Our tactics are simple, we break down doors, kill the inhabitants and take their stuff.  Unosum does not bother with the morality of a situation, he requires fortune to glorify his name and that 1s are not to be scorned, but to be embraced.  If'th thou never'th throw'th a 1'th, then the joy'th of success'th would forever'th be dimished'th.  - so say'th Unosum, God of Quantum 1s and Lord of Rock Bottom.

Our first offering was a batch of squatty little dwarves.  They consider themselves savage and evil, but they were mere cows awaiting to be slaughtered.  As if they lived their entire lives for that moment when we opened the door.  Some were killed with shocked looks on their face, some died as they slept and a lucky few died in battle.  Their deaths equaled a sum of gems and coin.  The entire value of their lives in a pouch.

Unosum has a harsh sense of humor.  He finds laughter at the sight of his faithful struggles with unseen events.  I served my lord well this time when a tick the size of my head landed on my back and burrowed in.  My vicious, and eager to kill comrades were kind enough to remove the tick after providing some humor to their day.

We've searched this dungeon for many hours and our attention to detail served us once again, the discovery of a secret door led to the discovery of a large chest.  As Rul pulled the chest out of the room we were set upon by a grotesque giant.  It's visage I hope to never see again.

I remember from a previous adventure we'd gained possession of a 2' copper disc with runes inscribed into the metal.  It possessed a single charge of a lightning bolt.  I unleashed the bolt at the giant and silenced its amused laughter.  Mirado finished of the pathetic creature by cleaving into its neck.  It had the decency to die quietly.

The chest was full of silver.  Surely a sign from Unosum that he is pleased with our progress.

And then something strange happened.  We ran into a creature that we did not kill.  A succubus, I assumed, dressed as a healer of some sort.  For a moments we discussed seeing her or some one like her, in Tomes of the Ancient Grognards.  We were pleased to see her, but saw no benefit from killing her.

It was then we encountered a most vile creature of many heads.  The Ompah Band!  Again, Unosum found my service entertaining and saw fit that I be struck in the head with a lyre.  Rul destroyed the band with a single swing.  I humbily said a pray to Unosum for the privilege of making him laugh.

We finished our night of exploration with a battle with ghouls.  Unosum is with in this battle making sure all damage I do are 1s.  He is kind to be with me in battle.  The undead creatures are quickly dispatched by my the Blue Beaten Mirado and he who Knocks Wood, Rul.