Sunday, November 22, 2015

Map: The Lost Temple of St. Hesta

Here's the latest map I've been tinkering with.  Not sure if I am dine tinkering, it is a little heavy on the right side.  I'm going to keep this one clean, no silhouettes.  I like the look of the numbers sitting in the center of the rooms. 

St. Hesta
St. Hesta the Plagued One is a Petty God who believes in the dualism of existence.  Her philosophy reflects that of the Cathars and Bogomils (to name two), they believe there is a good god and a bad god.  Anything that is of this physical world is evil and the spiritual world is good.  I'm simplifying the shit out of it, but that is the general premise.

St. Hesta believes the use of disease is the most efficient and righteous way to to transition from the material world into the spiritual world.  It provides someone time to giveaway all their earthly possessions to enter the spirit form unburdened and unhindered.

Her followers are divided into three castes and I blatantly ripped this part off from the Minbari of Babylon 5 fame.  There are the workers, warriors and clerical castes.  The workers are undead, common people or warriors who have fallen in battle that return as skeletons to assist a cleric in their duties.  The warriors see a black and white world, they are not prone to thinking through things, but reacting and defeating those who would interfere with St. Hesta's will.  And her clerics are potent disease spreaders that have the unusual ability to see the future.  The see a possible future and act upon it.

I created St. Hesta for our current Pits & Perils game.  I'll do a formal write up later.

Enjoy your Monday.  I only have a two-day work week.  Looking forward to some time off and too much food.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Age System with a How I Suck at Rolling Dice Rant Mixed In original

For the past two Mondays a group of has been getting together to play Fantsy Age set in +Rob Conley's  Majestic Wilderlands.  Dwayne, the GM, really likes the AGE system.  He wanted to give it a run and see how it works.  Cause just because it looks good don't mean it plays good.

I think it plays very well.

I rolled a character, ended up being a mage, human, poor, artist, but a charming fellow.  I took my magic in healing and lightning.  And the skills I took (or focuses) are in healing and lore.  So I am sorta of a glorified band-aid.  One of his quicks I gave him is he is always one inch taller than anyone standing next to him.  One of the first questions he asks when meeting someone is, "How tall are you?"

Different character, different system, different campaign, same horrible dice rolls.  I just don't get it.  How I can roll so bad, in 2d6, 3d6 and d20 systems.  Roll high or roll low.  I will find a way to destroy what the average is supposed to be.  Let's take the easiest (hey +Douglas Cole I'm doing number stuff, I know you like that), the average of 2d6 is 7.  I did a calculation of a few of my sessions using Pits & Perils and discovered that in my realm of existence, 7 is not the average, it is actually 5.6.  Now I m NOT a number dude, but I would say that is a signifcant difference.

And as for quantum number generators, don't believe the hype.  Quantum has feelings, cause it hates me.  I still remember the night in a d20 game I rolled 6 or 7 1s in a row.  And that was just the 1s I rolled in that one part.  There were lots of them sprinkled throughout.

Breathe, step away from the Quantumness.  Find that happy place where there are no 1s on the dice.  Somehow the dice bounce playfully upon the table and slowly spin and come to rest with a large 20 showing.  I cheer.  I point at the GM and laugh and then remember that I was rolling an ability check.

Back to my intended intent.

Age System, I love the combat.  I enjoy that there is defense, what you roll against to hit someone and armor, the bits that keep you from bleeding out.  In the AGE system these are two very different things which I like a lot.

Cobat is a blast.  This is where the AGE system works the best for me.  Stunts are the mechanic that sets the combat apart from other systems.  Stunts occurs when a roll is successful and doubles are rolled on the three dice.  The stunt die is a different color and if a stunt is earned, the number rolled on the stunt die is how many stunt ppoints you get.  So you can knock your oppenent down, do extra damage, do another attack, order a pizza or a combination of things.  The stunt mechanic shines in this area.  In other areas, like magic, it is less effective because the stunts are mainly geared toward combat.  There are also stunts for exploration and role-playing.  I don't think they work.  It seems forced.  If I were running a game I would keep the stunts strictly in combat.

Magic system is a bit generic.  I don't hate it, but can't say I am a big fan.  You select from school that specialize in fire, water, healing, wood, pickles and cookies.  There are four spells in each school.  They are independent on one another.  It's not like GURPS where the schools overlap and some requirements are in other schools.  With AGE it is a tiered system, you get the first two spells when you are a novice in that school, you get the third spell when you are a journeyman and whan you reach master level you get the 4th.

The spells are balanced, they don't overpower the mage, but if you can roll well (see rant above) they can be very effective.

The system uses spell points instead of slots.  Various things can happen to make a spell work or fail.  Most spells have a target number, if you don't roll above that, you lose your mana points and you have the pleasure of nothing happening.  I tested out this several times during our last session and yep, sucks not to hit the target number.  Some spell you can plaw  more points in to give it more power.

Then there are the skills and focuses.  They are different and I still get confused of which is which.  I get it for a while then I get distracted by a squirrel and I forget.  Happens.  Skills allow you to use or do things that others can't.  Like the first aid skill (that is called something I can't pronounce), I can do a minor action and first aid someone during combat.  You get a major and minor action for clarification.  So I can first aid someone then cast Get Back You Evil Bastard in one round.

Following up on what I just wrote.  A round is 15 seconds.  So in the AGEsystem I can first aid someone while in combat and then attack if I want....   Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong?  If I am then you are wrong and I am right.  I think if I ran a game I wouldn't permit first aiding in combat.  Being someone who has experience with first aid it just doesn't work in my mind.

Healing is always a big issue with me in games.  Most games make it too easy for adventurers to heal everything and move on without a scratch.  AGE does this also.  Not a fan.  They have a short and all night healing rate.  I would cut the all night rate, take the short rest rate and make it the all night rate.  I don't want sissy adventurers.  And sissy healing systems encourage entitlement and laziness.

Every class has specializations, like I plan on becoming a Miracle Worker so that increases my healing ability.  But I could choose to be a lore master or sword mage.  They are add on abilities to help enhance your character.  I don't see the need for these specializations, but I guess it helps me target my career track for being a mage.  Again, these are teired, novice, journeyman and master levels.

Experience is the same for each class.  2000 will get everyone to 2nd level.  AGE doesn't give experience points per monster, but has a system where the GM determines the difficulty of the encounter and assigns xp from there.  I do like this set up.

I really have enjoyed the AGE system, there is a lot I like about it.  I hope to run a few one off games soon.  I just wish I could find the system where I could roll better.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Night Investigation

Sunday, November 25th, 2015 (9:25pm)

Subject went to Barnes & Nobles.  Stayed in the cafe the entire time.  Drank a drink that looked like a caramel landslide.

Did not get up to pee.

He worked on a antiquated laptop that wasn't connected to the internet.  Worked on something called Hamlet of Hounds Head.

Listened to a iPod and ignored everyone around him except for a brief exchange with the barista who was already making him drink before he ordered.

A red-head, I'm assuming it was his wife, sat beside him reading gluten free magazines.  Not sure what the hell gluten is.  Noted it, Google later.  She sipped on tea and at the end of the night ate from a jar.  I cannot even guess what it was.  Did not look good.

The subject began packing once the closing in 15 minutes was announced.

Followed the subject and his wife to Wegmans.  Again he set up in the cafe section there.  This time he set up his laptop along side a tablet and was using both at the same time.  However, when the Sunday Night football game came on any work he'd been doing came to a halt.

When his wife came to visit the subject finally went pee.

His Sunday night concluded with watching football until his wife returned with groceries.  They packed and left for home.

Conclusion: Subject is too boring to follow any further.  This investigation has been a complete waste of time.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

It's in the Mail

Pictured above are my October Micro-Adventures all printed and laminated.  There was a delay this month because of a vacation, a painted bedroom and when I returned to work, no vacation goes unpunished.  But now I've got them all set to mail. 

All the PDFs are available for free on my Patreon, but if you want to get laminated and/or the zine versions become a patron.  Join in on the fun and get a envelope of adventure in your mailbox every month.

Thanks to my super-duper patrons.  I'll be sending out your adventures on Monday.  For the rest of Saturday morning I'll be stuffing envelopes. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Promise Broken

I promised Tim I would not post without his knowing. Well I had to break that promise. Guess what I will be doing all day tomorrow. Yep playing Fallout 4

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Deal of the Day Results

On Monday my Starter Adventures was featured on RPGNow's Deal of the Day.  I submitted to be one of the Deals of the Day about two months ago and was just about ready to email them to see where I was on the cue and more to the point, to see if I was on the cue.  I didn't send the email, because on Sunday I received an email telling me Starter Adventures would be Monday's Deal of the Day.  Normally it sells for $7.99, but for the day it was priced at $4.

I did some light spamming on Google+.  A few good folks reshared my post and helped me get the word out.  Tenkar used his bullhorn to get the news out which always helps.

My Expectation: I wanted to sell 12 to 15 copies to consider a success and if I got 20 sales I would be extremely pleased.  Well, I got 50 sales.  Wow.  Thanks to everyone who grabbed a copy.

One Detail Fixed: For some reason Starter Adventures was listed in the 5E category.  I must have clicked the wrong category when I posted it.  Then when I tried to change it, it wouldn't.  But I see it is fixed now.  Yeah!  Before the sale I always received an email or two about how that stat blocks were not set up for 5E play.

Interesting Numbers: When I started the sale I there were 68 copies in wishlists and 9 in shopping carts.  When the sale ended there were 74 copies in wishlists and 8 in shopping carts.  So the sale did not seem to make a dent in those that already were interested.  And to my surprise there were more.  I would figure if you were interested trying something out when its 50% off.

Suggestions & Conclusion: If you have any products on RPGNow I highly recommend signing up for the Deal of the Day.  Be patient because their waiting list is long.  I waited two months.  But in the end it is worth it.  It costs a lot of promo points, but they well spent and WAY more effective than homepage impressions to get people to look at your work.  If you plan on doing the Deal of the Day I would select one of your higher end products.  Or a product you really like, but it never took off.  I plan on doing Deal of the Day again.  I'm not sure exactly what the promo will be for, but once I figure it out I'm spending some promo points and getting back in line.

Thanks: A huge thanks to those of you who helped spread the word, +Erik Tenkar+Denis McCarthy, +Peter V. Dell'Orto, +Frank Turfler and I know I'm missing a couple more.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mapping Contest

Hey, +Inkwell Ideas and +Joe Wetzel is having a mapping contest.  The theme for this one is it must include at least two buildings.  They can be located in a city, village, ruin or cavern if you like.  Joe extended the contest until November 6th.  The winners get a set of +matt jackson's Moleskin Maps.  You should have a copy of those already.  And a set of DungeonMorph Dice.

I got busy and did a map, Hamlet of Hounds Head.

Join in the mapping contest, its fun to do and hell, if you win, the prizes are fantastic. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Deal of the Day: Starter Adventures!

Today my Starter Adventures is the Deal of the Day on RPG now.  The PDF is normally $7.99, but today it's only $4.  This is a great product to introduce someone into table-top RPGs.  I wrote this one specifically for folks who don't know a d20 from a ghoul.  A product that enhances what is fun and interesting in the game.  To hook newbies into coming back for more.

There are four adventure/situations for the the four main classes meant to be run one-on-one.  These scenarios will help a new player explore different aspects of the game.

There is a fully developed tavern filled with characters, secret doors and of course a basement that links into a sewer system.  Red Bear Tavern is a place where adventures begin, one ale at a time.

And the final piece is a full-fledged adventure.  After your newbies figure out that pyramid looking die is a d4, they can get busy being heroes. 

And to make it all come together, the incredible artwork by +Jason Sholtis and +John Larrey, the maps were created by my long time friend +Rob Conley and the unsung heroes of any written product, the editors +Tim Snider and my wife.  Any typos or grammatical assassination are on me because between those two they cleaned up a ton of my mistakes.

If you've had Starter Adventures in your cart or thought about checking it out, today is the day to do it.  If you have any questions about it, please just comment, Google+ me or email me.  I'll be glad to chat about anything gaming.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Zombie Museum Day Trip

Yesterday, Whisk and I drove to Evans City, a small, but busy place just north of Pittsburgh.  Why would I drive there?  Because they have The Living Dead Museum of course.  Evans City is also the home of Evans City Cemetery which was featured in the first scenes of Night of the Living Dead, the original zombie movie.  A few years ago Whisk and I went on the hunt to find Nicholas Kramer there and had a great day.  Since then they have rebuilt the chapel that was in the movie.  It was rebuilt with the donations from movie fans who wanted to see it restored.

Here are a few cool picture we got from the museum.

Today the Whisk and I are barricading the doors and windows with all the scrap wood we can find.  We'll watch scary movies all day and she'll make great food.  Perfect Halloween.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Party Failure

I've been thinking about and discussing what constitutes failure for a party.  During my latest session the party put themselves into a situation where they are most likely to fail.  They were given the task to find and item before the week was out.  It probably won't happen.  There was one point in the adventure where I almost fudged it a bit to help them keep on schedule, but I hate fudging and decided to see how it played out.  The ending will as much a surprise to me as it will them.  So while they may not get the item back in time, there are a batch of other possible outcomes. 

I finished my 3rd micro-adventure this month, The Remains of a Most Unfortunate Party.  I started writing it before the game session, but it tied in nicely to my thought process.  Here we have an adventure that has been 'used' so to speak.  An adventuring party fairly recent went through here to get an item.  There are bodies and evidence of their passing.  In the the end they got their item, but they also were TPKed.

A few days ago I posted another micro-adventure titled, Old Warren Castle.  I have a post half written about found locations and that's what I consider Old Warren Castle. 

Time to head to the zombie museum in Evans City.  Enjoy the adventures.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Prison of Gallus

I completed my 35th micro-adventure last night, Prison of Gallus.  My 42nd piece over all for my Patreon.  I finally cracked 70 patrons!  Ivy likes to let me know when I get a new patron. 

I often overwrite my micro-adventures which is easily done given the restricted space on a 4"x6" notecard.  Or if I go bit it might be on a half sheet, from and back.  Or my largest is a full sheet, folded, front and back.  Often times I need to rewrite an adventure, on average, three times.  I kept doing over and over again this past month.

I was working on this one idea, but the problem was I had a great title and great cover, but the adventure I wrote for it did not fit the...I don't know, the importance of the title and cover.  So I had to put that one aside to go at it another day because it wasn't clicking.  I've got a folder on my desktop full of partially written adventures to come back to. 

So to give my mind a rest I binge watch Netflix (and there are so many good shows on right now) and draw maps.  I think I've drawn 5 or 6 maps recently.  Fodder for later use.  The map above was one I drew while watching an enjoyable episode of Arrow.

To get things churning again I often have to dial it down.  Think more of an adventure situation than an adventure setting.  These micro-adventures actually can produce an amazing amount of ideas to rift off of.  With Prison of Gallus you have the following situations:
  • An unborn child was cursed to be a flesh eater, a living ghoul.  
  • The noble lord who is embarrassed and ashamed of the situation and uses his power to sacrifice others in the hope of curing his son.
  • The mysterious person who curse Gallus and what was the reason.
  • The criminals are vanishing from the dungeons, even those who are guilty of minor crimes.
  • The disappearances of people on the street.  
There are many strings to pull upon that are suggested in this micro-adventure.  These strings can be developed into much larger situations/adventures.  The seed, the beginning of something much larger.  That's why I like writing the micro-adventures because even though they are small, they can develop into many things.

Prison of Gallus is free for everyone.  Just hit the link and you'll be teleported to where you can do that.  If you are a patron or become a patron at the $2.50 level or above, you'll receive a laminated copy of the adventure in early November.  I huge thanks to my 71 patrons.  Their support has been a huge help over the past couple of months. 

It is Monday.  Time to make the doughnuts. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Trick-or-Treat Giveaway Winners!

I had 24 entries into the giveaway.  Here are the 6 winners!

+Andy Action wins Menagerie of the Ice Lord
+Peter Schweighofer wins The Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz: Extra Stout Edition
+Frank Turfler wins The Undercroft No.5
+Taylor Frank wins Demon Drums
+Jim White  wins The Stronghold No.2
+Mike Monaco wins Slumbering Ursine Dunes

Thanks to every who shared their Halloween stories, they were a lot of fun to read.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Trick or Treat Giveaway

I was sorting and changing around my gaming shelf and found some duplicates of some zines, new and old, and thought I would do a trick-or-treat giveaway.  Here's the list of prizes.

The Treats
Demon Drums by +Tim Callahan 
Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz: Extra Stout Edition by +dylan hartwell
Menagerie of the Ice Lord by +dylan hartwell
Slumbering Ursine Dunes by +Chris Kutalik
The Stronghold by +Boric Glanduum
The Undercroft by +Daniel Sell

All of these are fantastic.  And the only reason I'm doing the giveaway is I have duplicates and spreading good gaming around improves the world.

The Trick
So here's how this will work.  If you want to be entered into this random goodness, in the comments below, share your favorite Trick-or-Treat moment.  Or Halloween if that words better.  Extra points if you mention what was/is your favorite treat to get. 

I'll randomly roll the winners from those who participate.  If there is a particular one you would really like to get, mention it.  Can't guarantee that's the one you'll win, but it improves your chances.  I'll determine the six winners Wednesday night sometime.

Enjoy this, the funniest of all the holidays, Happy fricking Halloween.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Starting a New Player

I've been reading various posts and the subject I've been drawn to lately are about starting a new game.  A new game with new players specifically.

There are several posts about easing a new player into a campaign world.  And others throw them in the middle of the pool of information and tell them to swim.  I prefer somewhere in the middle.  I've never been fond of extremes either way.  I prefer somewhere between the two positions and that somewhere may lie anywhere, depending on the player I am trying to introduce to the my game.

As I say in many of my posts, I will with this one, this is what works best for me and I am not saying if you prefer to use different methods that you are wrong.  I don't get paid to be the game police.

When I get a new player introduced into my campaign there a few factors that I take into account.
  • What is the player's gaming experience?  Is this their first gaming or are that a 30+ year tabletop warrior.
  • What is the player's age?  Once in a while you'll have a youngster join the party.  I would introduce a 10yr old into the campaign differently than a 40yr old. 
  • How far along into the campaign is the party?  If the new player starts with the rest of the party I will take more time creating something to introduce them to the world.  But if a new player come in at the middle (I don't like doing this, but at times I have done it), I will give them a sketch of what is the current situation, and notes focused on how the party came to be where they are.  I don't want to disrupt the flow of the game, by bogging down the party's momentum to explain why this happened or this is how that happened.  
  • Talk to the player.  If someone is going to join my game, I like to explain what the campaign is about and what kind of game are they looking for.  If they want a western theme, or a high powered video game experience I let them know they will be very disappointed in my game.  Plus, you want to make sure your new player isn't a dickhead.
I don't do much more than that.  If I have the time I'll do an outside session with them to develop their character and run them solo to get a feel for the background of the character and the tone of the campaign.