Tuesday, August 19, 2014

5E D&D Has Been a Blast

Last night we completed our 4th session of 5E D&D.  +Rob Conley is DMing us through Lost Mine of Phandelver, the adventure that comes in the Starter Set.  Rob has seamlessly integrated the adventure into his own campaign world, The Majestic Wilderlands.

Last night was a blast.  Usually we start at 6:30p and end at 9:30p because we are old and we smell bad if we stay up too late.  But last night he fought through our own funk and gamed until 11:30p.  We had nearly a full crew, +Chris C. players a opera singing fighter called Vougner, +Daniel McEntee plays a elf, ranger with a name I cannot remember.  And our newest addition to the group, +Joshua Macy is an elven mage, by the name of Aria.  I play Sidwin the Sharp, a rogue with an 18 charisma (it has saved our bacon twice).

Last night we got into it with the Red Brands.  Local bully group.  We just returned from kicking the goblins asses we come into town to find out the Red Brands have murdered a local farmer and they captured his wife and children to sell into slavery.  Now Sidwin is not a pillar of moral decency by any means, this doesn't set well with him.

The Plan
Sidwin tells the party that he's going to scout the Sleeping Giant, a ale house in the village where the Red Brands hang out.  He'll sneak up listen in and come back with the information.

Where the Plan Goes to Shit
Sidwin tippy-toes over.  Hears what he needs.  Tries to tippy-toe away, but one of the Red Brands catch him walking away.  Questions.  Sidwin pretends to be a drunk who water a nearby bush and offers the Red Brand a chance to taste it.  He declines.  Then all the Red Brands come out.  Sidwin goes into drunk ruffian mode who is running out of money.  Needs a job.  After some talking, drinking and gambling they seem to accept Sidwin.  Except the dwarven ale wife who make shitty ale.  I want to return to the inn, but they say, no no, you need to stay here.  Shitty ale making dwarf lady hold a crossbow on my ass all night.

Where the Shit Gets Real
My comrades find I have not returned.  They find me sleeping in the ale house with the Red Brands.  We kill them all.  Sidwin got enough information and we have a source that can tell us about a secret tunnel into the manor where the farmer's family is being held.

Where We Alert Every Fricking Person in the World that We are in the Dungeon
Yeah, we fought a lot.  We did well.  We actually got through a few fights without anyone going down.  This time Sidwin went down from a volley of magic missiles from a mage who kept shouting something about his glass staff.  Again my fellow party dudes saved my bacon. 

We left off still in combat!

We've been having a great time playing.  Rob is always an excellent DM.  Having Joshua in our party is great to get new blood mixed in.  The only thing missing was +Ken H, he hates us and won't play with us any more.  He keeps making up excuses about having to work and family, blah, blah, blah.  Have some priorities man!

I was really hoping to have my 5E handbook today, but the UPS man would not leave it on my porch (even though I left him a fricking note to do so) and now I have to wait until tomorrow.  I want to punch him.  Not hard.  Maybe in the upper leg to give him a charlie horse. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: How to Create Great Fantasy Maps (even if you can't draw)

Sometimes I go on to RPGNow and cruise around for some random thing to buy.  I always stash away some store credit for such occasions.  This time around I saw the title, How to Create Great Fantasy Maps (even if you can't draw)Great title.  I like maps.  I like great maps.  I like to try and draw maps.  So I bought it.  At the low price of a $1.50, hell yeah I was going to get it.

This is the PDF printed.  The staple is not included in the PDF.
How to Create Fantasy Maps was written by Mark Wightman (don't touch him or you'll lose a level) for Draken Games.  The PDF comes in at 24 letter sized pages.  This features, don't be shocked, a lot of maps.  It's very printer friendly.  No large black spaces.  No backgrounds.  Just text and maps. 

Being a map guy myself, I'm always looking for a few tips, tricks or cheats.  There are a couple of cool techniques I learned in this that I want to try.  I won't go into detail because that would spoil the fun.  While you won't find any deep, dark secrets of mapping within, it is very handy and I can see it being especially useful to beginners or folks like me who want to see how other hand draw their maps.

The biggest draw to How to Create Fantasy Maps is Mark's writing.  The guy's excitement for maps really comes across in his writing.  In the intro he mentions his love for the Tolkien maps and a spectacular example of his lack of artistic ability (I am right there with you brother).  It's a fun, practical way to learn how to draw maps.  The examples are great.  He gives advice that I would have difficulty following, such as be patient.  I forget that.  Let the ink dry first before you try to erase the pencil lines.  Good advice.

I give a big thumbs up for How to Create Fantasy Maps

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Village of the Zombies

Sounds like a bad-good movie, right?  I think so at least.  I finished my 10th micro-adventure with bad horror movie on a Saturday night in mind.  Oh, and with a big bowl of popcorn.  There are zombies, lots of zombies, all kinds of zombies.  Whole zombies and partial zombies.  Big zombies and little zombies.  Quiet zombies and singing(?) zombies.

Here's the map:

Here's the link:

Go forth and download.  It is free for all to do thus.  Much gratitudus to my generous patrons.  The gods will favor you with much wine and women in the afterlife. 

Please let me know if you end up using it and how it went.  I've got to get something figured out for Con on the Cob.  It's going to running up on me in no time and I want to run a couple of adventures.  Wonder if I have any laying around?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dice Porn...Orgy Time


All Over the Place Weekend

I spent most of the weekend bouncing from one project to another.  I gave myself permission to do this since I finally sent the 7th issue of The Manor to my vicious editors. 

I have my map done for my next micro-adventure.  It turned out well I think.  I've titled it Crypt Hill for now.  I'll probably stick with it, but I have a couple of ideas I may play with for this map. 

I worked on a piece for the next Manor.  I may do a theme issue.

I worked on an adventure for the Esoterrorist game I want to run.  I'm using local sites, groups and lore mixed in with made up stuff.  This will give it a more authentic feel.  Plus, being a modern day type adventure I will know what resources the players would have available to them.

That's it for my weekend.  Tonight we play our third session of 5e and I hope we finally get into the cave.  The GM has been ruthless with his rolls. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Madness in the Earth

Just released my 9th micro-adventure.  I allowed myself to break out of the one-page limitation.  This one is about four, half-pages and then a fifth page the includes a players' map.  This allowed me to add a few more details and use a larger font.  You can download a copy at my Patreon page.  You can download it with or without the background.  Enjoy the Saturday and to all those who already got their PHB.  I'll have to wait a couple more weeks before I get my hands on a copy.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

I Blame Dragonlance...Okay I Contradicted Myself

Day #7 asks what is the most 'intellectual' RPG owned...not sure what that means.  So I guess I lose.

I'm guess it is either an intellectual property thing, like Babylon 5 or Star Wars.  OR it means it takes a lot of brain cells to understand it. Not sure if I have very much of either.

I'm going to go with the intellectual property side because I think all RPGs require a lot of brain cells depending on your group and the amount of drinks consumed during the game.

I don't think I have any intellectual property games.  No Star Trek.  No Star Wars.  No Babylon 5.  No Dresden Files.  I've never been a fan of it I guess.  And I blame Dragonlance.

Please give me a moment to warm up the way back machine to explain.

A billion years ago when the sun was still forming and there were only three and a half planets in the solar system there was Dragonlance the trilogy.  I ate those books up.  Nom nom nom.  Then TSR released a series of Dragonlance adventure modules.....this was bad.  Nay.  It sucked.

Here's why.  The adventures had you follow the story of the book.  The pre gens were all characters from the book.  If you hadn't read the books and others had then the conversation went something like this.

"Tasslehoff wouldn't do that."

"I don't care, he's a thief.  I steal Tanis's sword."

"We wouldn't do that."

"I fireball Riverwind.  I want a shot at Goldmoon."

"What the hell?  Rastlin wouldn't...okay, he might do that, but not until years later."

It's didn't work.  The adventures are the worst TSR put out as far as I'm concerned.  Especially since there was so much hype surrounding it at the time. 

I know this is an extreme case, but it was enough to cause gamer trauma.  I also know that all the other games are well received, but I guess the other main reason why is I'm not all that interested.  If someone wants to run a Star Wars game I'm there, but I won't run one.  Conan, sure, but again, not too interested in buying a bunch of gaming supplements that mirrors this. 

BUT!  I will contradict myself and nearly nullify I said above this so if you want to skip to this part and start reading that's okay to.  I do have Dragon Age and Thieves World books.  Actually Dragon Age should have been on my post of games I never got to play.  I would defiantly love to run a game in either of those.  I would even be tempted to do a Black Company campaign.

But I think I've screwed this post around enough.  So...there it is.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Long Answer to a Short Question: Favorite RPG You Never Get to Play

Post not interesting?  Just add Red Sonja.
I don't do many of the day-to-day blog things.  This month there is #RPGaDay.  I've entered a few of those.  But once in a while one get me to thinking.  Or gets me to look at my gaming shelves and wonder what the hell was I thinking.  Today's question is what is your favorite RPG you never get to play?  I've a group of them.  And here they are in no particular order.

As I scan my shelves I see Hackmaster.  Love the idea of the game, but never had a chance to play it.  We attempted to make characters one night and when we were into the second hour of creation we bailed.  Still, I'd like to see how it runs.  I also have the fancy books of Hackmaster Basic.  Beautiful books, but they sit on my shelf only to be taken down once in a while to be browsed through.

Beside my Hackmaster books are my Pendragon books.   I've had these for years.  I'm still attempting to collect them all.  I've written adventures using Pendragon background.  But I have never played the Pendragon system.  I like low fantasy settings.  Magic is scarce or just a background element while the humans struggle with their own drama.

Pathfinder would fall into this category also.  I've got a big batch of their books, even have an adventure path, but never played it.  I wasn't into 3.5 all that much.  During it's heyday I was deeply immersed in GURPS.  Pathfinder being the 2.0 of 3.5 is something I way always interested in playing, but haven't yet.  With it's strong following I may yet.

Some of the Drama Systems, like Hillfolk and Dungeon World interest me.  I've got the rule books, but haven't read them thoroughly.  Browsed the pages and found some cool stuff that I would like to see how it plays.

There are a handful of old school systems that I haven't played, but would like to give them a go sometime.  To name a few: Adventures Dark & Deep, Scarlet Heroes, Fantasy Heroes & Witchery, Ambition & Avarice.  There are a couple systems that I have played one or two sessions with, but would love to use them in a campaign such as The Neoclassical Geek Revival and DCC.

But the winner right now, the system that has my attention that I want to develop adventures for and to run is Exoterrorists.  I guess GUMSHOE would be the system and Exoterrorists it the setting.  I can see running multi-session, episodal adventures.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Another D&D 5! Session in the Books

So I was nearly killed.

After a nice breakfast, our first hireling hire and a quick shop we made our way to the path we discovered earlier in the week when half the party was nearly killed.

Our fight, detected a pit trap with his face.

I snuck up to the cave mouth to discover how many goblins there might be.  I discovered one.  Well, that's all I could assume there were as he thrust his sword through my spleen and the tip popped out the other side of me.  I decided to rest after that.

When I awoke I took a knee (using a football term for a short rest) and we got away from the cave.  Our new elven ranger also did not fair well.  He was filled with arrows.  This would soon happen again thus earning him the name "Arrow Catcher".

We took a captured goblin that our mage put the sleep, to a cabin.  He was questioned and the goblin spilled his guts.  Figuratively at first.  Literally later.  We met a local lord.  I slathered his undeserving hide with respect and praise.  He was more astounded by the elves.  So I stood by quietly.

To his manor we went.  A structure that looked just slight less inviting than a giant's asshole.  The shelter and food were poor, but we did find a small gem of  a person inside.  He held her bond and in the morning we purchased her bond.  The local lord attempted to cheat up, but our elven mage shamed him for asking for more.

Our band on oft wounded adventurers returned to the goblin cave once again.  This time my luck was better as I was the one who struck a deadly blow without a sound.  However arrow catcher earned his name as he was filled with arrows once again.

We managed to revive him.  He took a knee and recovered some health. 

We wait until next week to enter the cave.

Things I Noticed
Holy shit goblins are tough when they surprise you.  They are +6 to sneak, I think +6 to hit.  With my 14 AC, Goblins have a 60% chance to hit me.  And they hit hard.

Initiative and Surprise are critical.  If the goblins get surprise and win initiative proved to be deadly.  Going first is a huge deal. 

Goblins being tough is a lot of fun.  Having to grind to get into the cave has been a lot of fun.  This by far is what gives the game a old school feel.  I'm really digging it. 

The death mechanic, while I am not sold on it, works for the game.  We had a few tense moments as people were making their rolls.  Pplus we couldn't make out medical checks for nothing.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Patreon Zine and Changes to my Patreon

This week I'm sending out a thank you zine to my Patreon supporters.  I combined the micro-sandbox, Misanthrope Islands with the two adventures that went with it, Gargoyle Lair and Temple of Selig.  Here is a shot of a few of the pages.

All the maps are in full color.  This is my first full color zine.  Anyone who joins my Patreon page today, Sunday, August 3rd, you'll get a copy. 

Changes for my Patreon Page
I've release two of my micro-adventures on laminated 4" x 6" cards.  While I like the idea of it I think the font ens up being too small.  The third card I did was nearly unreadable.  I'll still do cards for some, others I plan on laminated half sheets, color map on one side, text on the back. 

Here's the two laminated cards I've sent out recently. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

GM Games July Sales Report

Another pretty decent month for GM Games.  Although I haven't released anything in two months GM Game still managed to bring in 61 sales.  Bundles drove the sales. 

I added a new feature to the monthly sales report, total all-time sales column.  This way you can also see the total tally of sales.  I sometimes wonder about it and have to do too much math.  If I do it every month it should be easier to track.

Manor #7 is done except for my introduction.  I'll finish it this weekend and then send it off to the proofreaders.  I'm hoping to release it mid-August. 

Over the past few months I've had several folks contact me about wanting to start their own zines.  There are a lot of great things coming out of the OSR these days.  I'll write a in-depth post about the new zines that I've had the fortune of reading. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Investigative Adventures

I've been reading a bit about adventure structure in various books.  While I can whip out a fantasy d20 adventure with very little pain, I'm working on a different type of adventure.  It's an investigative adventure.  In most fantasy adventures the main action is combat.  In this type of adventure it will be information gathering.

I've been reading Exoterrorists, GURPS Mystery and I have a few shows I plan to watch just to get a visual structure. 

Forwhateverreason, this is what has my off time attention.  If any of you have a interesting read on that kind of subject please let me know.

On another front: I released my 8th micro-adventure.  I'm creating something fun for my Patreon supporters. 

And the 7th Manor is done except for the introduction   Then off to my excellent ediitors.

I did that on purpose.  Really.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

MA #8 Temple of Selig is Open for Business

The 8th micro-adventure Temple of Selig is posted at my Patreon page.  Go grab a copy.  It is a part of the micro-sandbox, Misanthrope Islands or is can be used alone.  I've added a player's map so if a GM wants to use it on-line they don;t have to worry about numbers or critters popping up.  I think its a cool, but very dangerous adventure.  It also has a few cool magic items.  I hope you enjoy it.

D&D Next, My First Session

Last night Rob Conley ran a 5e session.  It's the first time we played the system since its 'release'.  We played two or three sessions in various stages of the playtest.

We used Roll20 and Google Hangouts.  They had 5e character sheets for Roll20.  There were very cool, some of the buttons didn't work, but over all it helped.  The only problem I had was the sheet covered the map.  So I had to keep closing/shrinking then reopen it.  It would be great if Roll20 could get to where we could use two screens.

The game itself, was a lot of fun.  I'm really liking the new D&D.  I am making my peace with the short/long rest and second wind mechanics.  While not a fan of it I can work with it.  I'm just having fun with it and working it into my strategies when I play.

I like the skill system.  And I think the advantage and disadvantage are good game mechanics.  Simple and effective. 

Last night we were ambushed by four goblins.  The two mages were immediately taken out of the fight.  The next round our fighter barely made it.  My rogue got a minor wound.  We could have easily been TPKed within two rounds.  By goblins!

One of the things that helped save our hides is using my Persuasion skill.  I convinced the goblins that more were coming and they should run.  That stunned them long enough for our fighter to second wind and then engage.  And I was able to get a couple arrows into goblin flesh.

So the combat was dangerous, fun and there were enough options to make it interesting. 

So two thumbs up for me.  D&D 5e so far is a good thing.