Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I Didn't Know You Could Ship Light in the Mail

+Erik Tenkar and +Zach Glazar were yapping on Tavern Chat with Erik's freaky head floating around in the green screen.  I asked for a physical copy and behold, yes Virginia, you can ship light in the mail.

Outside left.  Adventure packs are always appreciated so as the players are not turning the session into a fricking shopping trip.

Outside right.  Classes and spells.  The brain behind the layout did good.  Players info on the outside facing them.  The GM guys on the inside.  They got smarts.

Inside GM guts stuff.  Everything you need to run the game except dice.  I love it.  And I love having a print copy because I struggled to read the PDF.  Well done Erik and thank you Zach for the copy.  Much appreciated!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

We Achieved More Cowbell!

Cast of Characters

It had been many months since we last gamed.  Since then Erik created Swords & Wizardry Light, Doug created a Kickstarter and funded his Dungeon Grappling and Peter keeps writing interesting article for GURPS and getting kneed in the face by friends.  Erik being our task master for the evening, we were using his own ruleset, Swords and Wizardry Extra Light.  In this case extra light doesn't mean less, it means more.  It includes some of the sub classes like ranger and paladin.  We made characters and headed to the mayor's house.  

The Mayor

A nervous, twitchy man with sweaty palms and smelled of raw turnips, spoke to us in quick bursts.  Goblins led by an ogre had stolen from caravans.  Trade is down.  He offered us 25gp, or a Healing Potion, and a little money on the back end if we returned.  He also provided us thee items he'd gathered from the rooms of now dead adventurers.  Moldleaf chose a silvered dagger, Aafiuran chose two vials of holy water and Bertrum was left to collect the mysterious, unlabeled, blue potion.  

We Have More Cow Bell
A guide escorts to the place then leaves.  We find ourselves standing in front a dwarven tomb.  "Princess Kalishan Lays to Rest Here" in dwarven runes over the entrance.  

The double door entrance is wrecked.  There is a hole large enough for a battle hobbit to enter.  Bertrum sees a sleeping goblin with a cowbell over his head.  Bertrum puts an arrow in the goblin's chest.  The others enter.  The party just leveled up, we have achieved more cow bell!

To Charm an Ogre
We head right.  We find a room of goblins gambling and drinking.  Surprising there is no fight.  We hesitate to attack as they did.  And that's when Idi showed.  An ogre with subtle motivations.  Moldleaf charmed him.  As far as ogres go, Idi was reasonable.  He expressed fear over the bones and 'stunties' to the north.  

Show us.

After Idi ripped off a lock pair of doors we enter a dwarven tomb.  It had the words "Here lies our lord in rest".

"Let's wake the fucker up."

Warning: Hairy Ass Image Imminent 
A coffin.  A coffin lid.  Shove.  Shove.  Ghoul.  It missed.  Bertrum didn't. Aafiuran tossed a holy water grenade into its mouth and turned it into black ash soup.  We dug through the goo and found some loot.  

As we did this, five of the six doors we did not check behind us fell open and skeletons came out.  Idi, the ogre chickenshit ran into the tomb with us.  This was my view for a few rounds.

After avoiding that sight Bertrum formed a halfling wall in the doorway to keep the bones out.  He did a surprisingly good job.  After whacking and hacking we were bloody, but alive.

One door didn't open.  So we opened it.  Found another crypt.  The real crypt.  A little tip for tomb raiders, never settle for the first crypt you encounter.  It's nearly always a fake.  The real good crypt is hidden somewhere.  Another tip, don't stand behind a frightened ogre.

I Detect Elves Nearby
Crypt.  Lid.  Push.  Push.  Horrible creature within.  Idi stood strong this time whacking the creature.  And for the killing blow, our little elven mage, Moldleaf, who'd missed air when he swung, decided to throw his silvered dagger he received from the mayor and planted in between the eyes of the creature.  Dead as dead gets.

Loot begins.  We each get a magic item.  Bertrum gets a +1 short sword that detects elves.  Traveling with two elves, that power should come in handy.  We give Idi some pimp cup we found.  He likes it.  

Let's Make a Deal
After some exploration, the B-team discusses the raiding the ogre is doing with his goblins.  For a small fee, the ogre and his tribe of goblins will protect the caravans when they come through the territory.  An unconventional solution to the situation.  We like it.

We return to town inform the mayor of the deal.  He was less than pleased.  But after some quick talk, Moldleaf convinced the Mayor it was a good thing, it increased his military power.  He liked the idea of that. 

We ended the session with more cowbell.  Win.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Vengeance Before Healing

Session 4: Vengeance Before Healing

Cast of the Party
  • +Chris C.  played Ectur, a harden soldier.  
  • +Ken H  played Brytan Nargald, a stealthy scout.
  • +Rob Conley played Sethre, a battle apostate.
  • Anders, NPC tranquil.

Quick Explanation of Stunts
A quick note on the stunts I mention.  Dragon Age is a 3d6 system.  A stunt occurs when someone rolls higher than the target number and at least two of the dice are the same.  They get a number of points equal to their Dragon die.  On-line we decide the last of the d6s was the dragon die.  So if Chris rolled a 4-5-5, he gets 5 stunt points to spent.  Stunts are special effects that have an assigned cost.  

Then Came the Spiders
The giant with a dragon's head walked out of the rift and Brytan shot the creature with his bow, praying it would have some effect.  The arrow struck the scaly hide and shattered.  It moved its head to look in his direction and opened its mouth.  It spewed out five giant spiders that fell to the ground and scurried toward Brytan. 

One surprise to the group was when the spider hit it wasn't poison, but rather the spider's poison attack was considered a stunt.  They had plenty of opportunities to experience it.   While they battle the spiders the dragon giant headed deeper into the forest.  The party was injured, especially Brytan who took the brunt of the attacks.

They debated then decided not to track the dragon giant directly.  It left a trail of giant spiders behind it.  They decided to go east toward the main road and then try to intercept it farther north.  They noticed the rift had shrunk to the size of the plate, but remained.  

As they moved east they encountered a makeshift fort.  Wood walls 10' high.  Two men on a open platform tower.  Both were drinking.  One wore a Roman a partial Roman uniform.  The party opted for a sneak attack and shot at the two on the tower.  Nearly killing one.  Two other bandits rushed out of the fort to attack and the party made quick work of them.  Ectur dressed in his bronze armor laughed as their feeble attacks sparked off his armor.  

The leader of the group, the one dressed in the Roman attire tried to escape, but they tracked him blood in the snow and killed him.  It was discovered these men were Resenna.  Etruscans who turned their backs on their own people and allied with the Romans.  Ectur found a not from one of the Resenna leaders, Nasia, on the leader, confirming their alliance.  

The party made camp in the fort, finding it surprisingly comfortable.  The reclaimed the alchemy supplies and potions for their tranquil companion, Anders.  They found a stash of 20 healing potions and 6 lyrium potions.  

We ended it there for the night and they earned a level moving to 4th level.  

Session Notes
A couple of common sense rulings were made during the session.  Chris tried to taunt a spider during combat.  I ruled the spider couldn't be 'taunted' but we would call it distracting.  A spider is n't going to react to "Your mother smells like elderberries". 

One of the spiders hit Ectur and stunted.  I decided the spider would do a poisonous bite stunt.  When it rolled damage it failed to get through his armor.  So I ruled since no damage was done no poison was transferred.

I like the fact that the monsters, spiders' poison attack is a stunt action.

Weather came into play.  With the continuous winter the players were able to track the bandit leader with easy.  

We are really enjoying the system.  I'm enjoying running the game.  There is a lot of strategy to keep their heads above water.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Blood Sacrifices

Session 2.5 & 3: Blood Sacrifices 

Cast of the Party
  • +Rob Conley as Sethre, an apostate.
  • +Chris C.  played Ectur, a harden soldier.  
  • +Ken H  played Brytan Nargald, a stealthy scout.
  • Thadius was an NPC run by me.  Their former military commander.
  • Jia another NPC, she is an apostate.

Not all games start with the players in one area.  Or time for that matter.  Ectur and Brytan have been adventuring north for the past two weeks, they ended their last adventure at Udine among the Etruscan apostates.

Sethre awakens, sore and confused.  He's in the forest.  His feet and hands are bound.  From somewhere behind him is a green, pulsating glow.  He can hear people talking.  Chanting...chanting is never good.

He looks around him and sees two other Etruscan soldiers bound like him. Heavy boots crunching the fallen leaves from behind.  He fakes unconsciousness and stifles a gasp when he sees a Roman soldier walk up to one the soldiers, lift him by the hair and slit his throat before throwing him over his shoulder.

Sethre awakens the other soldier, Marce.  They work together to become free.  The heavy boots return and this time they ambush the Roman.  Sethre kills the soldier with an expertly place arcane bolt.  After loots the Roman, Sethre discovers the Roman is not a Roman but an Etruscan.

They move to the edge of the forest and see a rift in the veil.  A blood mage is chanting over a pedestal.  An unnatural rock arch formation where bodies are stacked and the blood is dripping down onto the pedestal.  Another 'Roman' soldier is shouting for his friend.

The players attack.  The ceremony needs the blood of nine men to complete.  Seven have died.  During the fight, Marce kills the Roman soldier on the archway, his blood joins the others.  Eight.  Sethre damages the blood mage to brink of death door.  The blood mage pulls out his dagger and sacrifices himself on the pedestal.  Nine.

The anchor ceremony is complete and the rift is stabilized.  Tendrils reach out from the rift and attack.  Sethre gets pulled into the veil, not knowing the fate of Marce.  Inside the veil he struggles to free himself.  He sees a room of men sitting eating, talking to the apostates.  He reaches out for them and silently shouts for help.

Inside the monastery of apostates, Ectur, Brytan, Thadius and Jai eat.  They are discussing their plans as the apostates have politely asked them to move on.  Thadius becomes sick, the apostates quickly see that he has been infected with the dark taint.  They rush him to the infirmary.  He's in the right place.


They hear a whisper of a voice.  They don't see anything at first, but then green tendrils form out of the wall and grab at them.  A battle begins.  Ectur and Brytan manage to get Sethre out, but both of them are swallowed up in it.  After a few pressure rolls they escaped before the rift closed.

They took time to recount what occurred.  Thadius and Jai remained behind.  Anders went with them.  While a tranquil will not fight, he is a proven alchemist and if nothing else the party decided he could carry stuff.

They decided to return to where the rift was located.  Brytan used his tracking to find the location and the dead body and glow of the rift announced they had arrived.  They took in the scene and Sethre understood the pedestal was an anchor to stabilize the rift to allow it to remain open.  They attacked the pedestal and more tendrils reached out for them and they fought them back as they smashed the pedestal.  A large scaly hand reached out of the rift.  As they fought and frantically fought off tendril and destroying the pedestal a 15' tall bi-pedal creature with a head of a dragon stepped out.

End of the session.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Almost Total Party Kill at the Lizardman Temple

It's been a while since our face-to-face crew has gotten together.  We remedied that yesterday.  Our host +Dwayne Gillingham, is in the process of developing his own system and wanted to give it a test drive.  The adventuring party included me, +Rob Conley and +Daniel McEntee.  The system is not considered a class system because anyone can take abilities as they progress.  So you can go from taking warrior skills then jump to magic or cleric.  But at first level you pretty much are you you are.  I was a dwarven warrior, Rob played a human mage and Dan was a halfling rogue.

The adventure started with us signing indentured contracts for one year, and if we survived that year each of us would be granted 40 acres of land to forge our own in Darthmead Forest, located just south of the City-State of the Invincible Overlord.

Our first test was an ambush by a dozen kobolds.  We were protected a wagon full of women and children headed to Darthmead to work.  No you may or may not be surprised, but I was rolling like crap.  Couldn't hit water if I fell out of a boat kinda bad.  But we ended up defeating the kobolds.  However, it was not simple.  You think of kobolds them to be a fairly easy opponent, but they proved to be more challenging than we expected.  The new system proved to be deadly.

We arrived at Fang Tower, met with the Myrmidon of Set.  She assigned us our first mission after resting a couple of days.  The masons that were scouting the area for more stone have not returned.  We were assigned to find the masons and return them.

We scouted the creek, Dan found a secret path through magical briers.  When we navigated through the path we came upon this gorgeous looking set piece.  Let me set aside the game for a second.  In today's gaming when someone brings out a set piece like this the game stops and everyone has to take pictures.  I did.  Shared it on Google + and watch the +'s rack up.  Dwayne is one of those folks who can build Mordor out of egg cartons, paper machete and some glue.

Back to the game.  The setting is a lizardman temple, with the ruins of the elven temple scattered around it.  What you can't see is under the far bridge is a pool of blood.  We get into a battle with the lizardmen.  We do fairly well.  Dan almost killed the shaman with a single knife throw, but he escaped by diving into the pool of blood below.  We take out a few of the other lizardmen, I shattered the far bridge causing two other lizardmen to vanish into the blood.

After the battle we found one of the masons with his throat slit.  But there were four others.  We searched the temple and the only other access we found was a cavern beneath the pool of blood.  Being the foolhardy adventurers we were, we dove in.

We crept down a hallway where I set off an acid trap.  Figures.  Then we reach a doorway and see this fantastic set piece.

Some of us, may just some, will recognize the statue.  While Dwayne's sculpting skill may not rival Michelangelo, but I loved it.  So cool.  He really went all in for this adventure.

And this is the room where Dan and Rob died.  I ran.  We took on a bunch of lizardmen with spears, blowguns, the shaman and two demon lizardmen.  It was too much for our little group.  It was a lot of fun.  Playtesting the system and the beautiful set pieces.

After the game we spent time discussing what we thought worked, what needed tweaked or needed more explanation or included.  This is why I miss a weekly face-to-face game.  You get to feed off of each others energy and I much prefer rolling my 1's with real dice.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Defending Albanum

Cast of the Party
  • +Chris C.  played Ectur, a harden soldier.  
  • +Ken H  played Brytan Nargald, a stealthy scout.
  • Thadius was an NPC run by me.  Their former military commander.
  • Jia another NPC, she is an apostate.
Attack Before Dawn
The players were awaken in the darkness before the dawn.  Wolves were prowling outside their cabin.  It didn't take them long to organize and enter a fight with the cursed blight wolves.  Three wolves and one alpha wolf led the group.  Ectur and Brytan focused their attacks on the alpha wolf, Thadius took on the smaller wolves.  Jia stayed back and healed.

The fight went the party's way, but could have easily turned against them at any point.  The party killed the alpha wolf and two of the blight wolves as the third fled into the forest.  

Before they could recover they heard screaming from the west.  Brytan overcame the distance quicker than his slower counterpart, Ectur as he trudged up the incline in his heavy armor.  Two more blight wolves accompanied by a hurlock, a darkspawn.  The bodies of villagers littered the ground around them.  The hurlock's hands burned and as it drew its two-handed sword the blade burst into flames.  The party fought these creatures in the war and did not hesitate to engage it.  Brytan greeted it with arrows as Thadius engaged the group in hand-to-hand combat.  It took a few more rounds before Ectur joined the battle.  With the assistance of Jia, she kept Thadius fighting.

Friends of Albanum
Albanum was quiet again.  For a short time.  The leader of the village, Lacanus, thanked the party for their assistance.  "Being so close to the front these raids have exhausted our supplies and most of our soldiers."

Lacanus offered them braided necklaces, tokens, and the title of Friends of Albanum. Each village has their own intricate braid design.  Wearing the necklaces allows someone to get shelter and food from Albanum.  A rare thing during these trying times.  

Onto Udine
The party headed north.  They decided to stay off the main road to travel to Udine.  Udine is an oddity of Etrusan villages.  It is village of apostates.  They train here and are not very welcoming to outsiders, even to other Etruscans.  

Anders the Tranquil 
Just south of the Udine they found a man crawling in the snow.  A blood trail behind him, an arrow in the back of his leg.  They discovered his name to be Anders and it unsettled Jai that he was a tranquil, a person that was born with magical talent who was forced by the Circle of Mages to either join them or have their magic removed.  The removal of magic comes at a larger price, taking away the person's personality.  He or she becomes passive and completely helpless when encountering a violent situation.  They will never harm another person knowingly.  Even if that other person is trying to kill them.

Anders apologized for having to bother them for assistance.  Bandits had taken his potions again.  This was the third time.  He spoke openly about the possibility of being killed once he returned to the Circle of Mages.  

The Apostates of Udine
The party found the walled community and their leader, Nasia.  She was quick to correct any mistakes they spoke and made it known that their presence there was an inconvenience.  They gathered some information, met a more friendly apostate, Zeta, that was more generous with information.  

End of Session

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Developing a Twisted Plot Within an Adventure

One of my more recent adventures I completed for my patreon is called The Weeping Witch.  Below is the map I'm using.  A simple, but hopefully interesting, map. Three detailed areas.  It doesn't seem like a lot, but in this case the setup helps develop the plot.  Should a GM chose to ignore the setup, it is an adventure with some depth. 

Plot is usually a story element and sometimes used for adventures.  In this case, plot drives what has occurred and what will occur.  The players dictate the result. Let me use this adventure as an example.

The villagers of Scorn are irritated and exhausted.  The Harvest Moon is a few days away and each year at this time, the the Weeping Witch's cries are carried on the night's wind disturbing their sleep.  One of the precautions the villagers take is tying their children in their beds.  The cries of the Weeping Witch cause the children to sleepwalk into the forest where an abandon house sits.  

One of the children goes missing.  The villagers are suspicious.  The mother, Shara, is disliked and doesn't seem concern her son is missing.  Rumors of her practicing black magic have been whisper before, but now people are vocalizing their suspicions.  

When (if) the party investigates Shara's cabin they find, unlike all the other villagers, there are no bindings on her son's bed.  They also find bloodmoss, the villagers believe it is component of dark magics.  Shara denies everything and defies the party.

We've got the setup.  The obvious situation dangled before the party.  A witch that keeps everyone awake with her cries.  A boy has gone missing.  His mother took no precautions to protect the boy and possesses herbs that are considered to be evil.  

This is a distraction of reality, great fodder to pull your party along and give them a false sense of 'knowing' to act upon.  I like to develop these in an adventure to surprise the party, or it is a mystery to solve.  Both work out great.

The reality of it, the witch is the boy's mother.  The witch charmed Shara to watch over him.  Shara uses the bloodmoss to sedate him.  The boy is a werewolf.  If the boy is 'saved' and returned to the village he will kill many villagers.  nom nom nom

This situation lends itself to further adventures.  Allow events to unfold naturally and once a course is determined, the continuing consequences are the party's reward.  I do enjoy putting the party in the role of hero and then the result is their actions make the situation worse.  Much worse sometimes.

I use this device sparingly, it's not good to go all M. Night Shyamalan every adventure.  But sprinkling these types of situations into your game keep the players guessing.  Not to assume they 'know' what's going on until they get all the facts from every corner.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Peace Be With You Carrie

Generally I am not a sentimental person.  But after reading that Carrie Fisher had passed I couldn't shake that, "something is now missing" feeling.  Maybe it's because Star Wars was the first movie I saw with my friends, no adults.  As little guys would do, we sat in the very first row with our noses against the screen and were completely wowed at what we saw.  It was a good day.  We talked about Star Wars all the time, predicting what would happen next or if the Millennium Falcon could beat the Enterprise in a race.  Really important stuff back in the day. Carrie was apart of that discussion and apart the mythology of our childhood.  As Star Wars progressed and I hit puberty, my interest in Leia, of course, increased. I can honestly say Carrie Fisher, along with Diana Rigg were my first crushes.  I had pretty good taste for a kid.  

Tonight,  I'll put in Episode IV: The New Hope and take a stroll. Remembering the Academy Theater with the glowing, neon blue clock to the right of the screen, the smell of real butter on the popcorn and fighting with the Jujubes candies that cemented themselves to my teeth.  I'll walk down the aisle on the right hand side, my feet landing heavy because of the slight slope and find my front row seat.  And when I hear John Williams's introduction music, for a short time, I'll be that 9 year old boy who wanted to see Star Wars with his friends for his birthday.

Peace be with you Carrie.  

Friday, December 23, 2016

Funeral Games

Last night I GMed my first session using a mix of ancient Roman history and Dragon Age system and mythos.  The party were playing Etruscans, their City of Veii is burning and war is lost.  Now they are to return home and salvage what they can.  

  • +Chris C. played Ectur, a harden soldier.  
  • +Ken H played Brytan Nargald, a stealthy scout.
  • Thadius was an NPC run by me.  Their former military commander.
  • Jia another NPC, she is an apostate.
To Honor a Friend
Thadius gave the order to disband, but asked Ectur and Brytan, since they are from the same village, to help him return a friend and bury him with honor.  Both agreed.  They were returning the body to Albanum.  A village where the soldiers that stole their food are from.  Ectur was on guard that night when he was attacked and overwhelmed by three of them.  He did suffer that defeat lightly.

Empty Stomachs
Because of that theft of food the party had to decide what they were going to do for food.  Traveling in harsh winter weather was brutal even with supplies.  They decided to tough it out until they reached Albanum.  The village was a day away. 

Don't Kill the Messenger
A few hours into the trek they were surprised to see a Roman messenger riding from the north.  The took a few bow shots at him.  Wounding him, but it wasn't until Ectur lept on his horse and shot his bow from there did the messenger fall from his saddle.  

They Killed the Messenger
Brytan quickly dispatched the Roman messenger, and looted him.  He found a disturbing message.

Ectur took care of the messenger's horse and added it to their short list of resources.  They head off again toward Albanum.  Jia begins to show signs of sickness as the fatigue and hunger were overtaking her.  

Entering Albanum
By nightfall they reached Albanum.  Ectur recognized two of the men at the gate as the men who stole their food, but says nothing.  They speak to the elder of the village, Lucanus.  Lucanus is very pleased they have brought home their brother and that the party agreed to honor him with funeral games.

Funeral Games
Brytan fought Thadius and was handily trounced.  The former commanding officer is kinda a bad ass.  And then Ectur drew the lot of facing Vargus, a larger man who was part of the thieving.  Ectur put a little extra effort into his strikes, driving the big man back, cutting swaths of flesh from his body until Vargus fell to a knee and gave the missio, the sign of surrender.  Ectur pointed his blade at him and called him out on his thievery.

Honor and Forgiveness
This accusation disturbed Lucanus and he wanted an explanation.  After hearing of the stolen food, Lucanus promised to correct this.  Later that evening Vargus arrived at the party's doorstep carrying 20 days of rations in a sack.  He came with his three daughters.  It was his attempt to show Ectur why he had done what he had done, but understood it was unacceptable all the same.  Ectur took the offer and gave each of the three children a ration of food.

End of Session

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

When the Romans Murdered the World

Here's my map for tomorrow night's game.  It takes place when Rome was in its infancy, beating up on its scrappy little neighbors, the Etruscans.  Those are the folks the Romans got the idea for gladiator games.  Romans were always good at that.  Beating up people  and taking their ideas.

What I've done is mix in the Dragon Age mythos.  Stir.  Stir.  Stir.  My players will play Etruscan soldiers as the City of Veii burns.  The end of the war.  They have lost.  And now they must make an Odyssey-like trek home.

To win the war and to become a world power the Romans willingly bred blood mages, created abominations and punctured the veil.  The land is a wasteland.  What hasn't been burnt down is covered in a never seen before winter in this region.  Resources are dwindling.  Enemies are abundant. 

For the next couple of weeks I'll take over the reigns of our gaming night to fill in for the holidays.  I'm looking forward to GMing.  Been a while.  

So we'll grab our 3d6s and keep an eye on the dragon die.  

...and the other eye in the fade.

Monday, December 19, 2016

How to Write a Swords & Wizardry Adventure While Learning to Facebook

I've been typing away, writing my Swords & Wizardry Light sandbox adventure, Hunters in Death.  I've got about 4000 words in, give or take.  How many words is the OGL?  I guess I can't count those.  While I've been writing, I've been learning the Facebook.  That's right, I said 'the Facebook' like old people say.  I've had an account for years, but never used it.  Then +Erik Tenkar busted my chops for not using it.  He said it gave a huge boost for his page views.  Well if it helped his tavern I thought maybe it could help my manor.  So that's why a bunch of you have gotten Friend Requests from me.  But what the fuck is poking.  I don't think I like that.  Don't poke me.  

One of the things I'm developing is a random encounter table, with lots of ruins. If you follow my blog you know I write micro-adventures for my Patreon.  These random encounters are going to micro-adventures within themselves.

"You fucking crazy bastard, why would you do such a thing?"

Great question.  Hunters in Death is going to be a sandbox adventure.  The Komor Forest, where this takes place, is not going to be mapped.  Like mega-dungeons, as soon as you start defining it, it loses its mystique.  I want the GM to define the area as he or she imagines it.  If you need a set of ruins a day away there they are.  Like JMS, the creator of Babylon 5 once answered a question about how fast someone can travel in hyperspace, he said "they travel at the speed of plot."  Meaning if you need something there the GM is not restricted by my map.  What the random table does iy allows a GM to create a unique experience for their players.  And could run it again with a completely different outcome.  Make sense?  I hope so.

Above are a few samples of ruins I'm drawing.  Ignore that lines.  Fricking cards I ordered all have them in them.  So until I find new ones let's just call it a quirk of my map making.  

One final note is I may have found an excellent editor to slash the shit out of my writing.  I've already given him a sample and he properly trounced with a savage electronic pen.  I will lean on him heavily to make myself look good.  He has a Herculean task in front of him.  

One last, last note.  If you're on 'the Facebook' hit me up with a friends request. I'm Gothridge Manor there also.  

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Big Battle at the Monteport Crossroads

Last night we had a big battle with the denizens of Monteport.  Our tactic for the past couple of sessions has been to bluff our way through encounters.  It worked. Then last night, all those groups we bluffed, came for payment.  But let's back up a little.

Last week we accidentally blew up our party.  Half our party dead.  Henchmen gone.  Except for one torchbearer and a dog.  +Ken H couldn't stomach watching to dog become cooked.  We lit dragon's blood on fire.  We thought we'd destroy the spell component.  BOOM!  All of us wounded and spell depleted.

Fast forward to beginning of the session.  +Chris C. and +Rob Conley created sidekick characters because theirs were still smoldering.  Chris made the saddest cleric ever rolled.  Rob created a loud Jewish barbarian viking.  We find a place to make camp because we need to heal and replenish spells.

First watch we hear the whisper whisper of wicked men.  The Jewish barbarian viking though he heard two wicked men.  Turned out to be 20.  Wrong to the power of 10.

Now you're caught up.

So we are facing 20 guys.  We take up positions and give it our best.  Sword strikes, arrows, spells and slings.  We gave them it our all and we kicked their ass.  Wait for it....I even rolled two 20s in a row!  I'm not lying.We saved one of the Followers of Elias.  Made him a deal.  He could return to his folks and die or learn a new purpose with our party cleric.  He questioned him about certain people and locations.  He seemed to answer honestly.  We kept him in our ranks...for now.

There was a lot of resource management after looting the enemies.

I'm sure we'll regret keeping the guy alive, but the problem we are running into now is the deeper we go the fewer resources we have.  Especially henchmen. Especially when you blow up henchmen.  We're going to have to try to recruit some of the folks we find.  Exploit the resources we find.

It's an interesting problem.  I love these kinds of problems.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This Shit Ain't Gonna Write Itself

I've been tinkering around with micro-adventures for 18 months, maybe it's been two years, I lost count.  I'm old.  I'm at that age where I don't have memories I have recollections.  Anyway, I've been wanting to do a larger project and with the release of +Erik Tenkar's S&W Light ruleset, it got my gears going. Click the link to get a free copy of the PDF. 

I'm always tinkering with something gaming-wise.  Can't help it.  I took the ruleset and checked it out and thought what a great way to get new people involved with the game.  S&W Light has everything on one sheet of paper.  

My preference for adventures are low-level sandboxes.  I love the grind and grit of survival and taking resources seriously.  Oh crap, the mage is out of spells, the cleric is unconscious and the fighter just missed his save after eating the suspicious meat in the orc's backpack.  So because of that I thought I'd create a sandbox setting using Erik's S&W Light ruleset.

So what do I do first...probably one of the last things you should do, I made a cover for something doesn't exist.  But it looks so cool.  I decided to go with the tried and true look of the TSR adventure modules.  I found an amazing piece from Jack Holliday.  It is the center piece for the sandbox.  That picture is what inspired everything around it.  So I guess I can forgive myself for jumping ahead.  
I already shared this one Google+, but I'm doing it again.
Now that I have a rough draft of the cover I guess I should start writing.  This shit ain't gonna write itself (eww, found my title for this post).  

One of the first things I need is a location.  That location is at the edge of a big-ass, scary forest.  Gotta think of a name.  One of the tricks I use is Google translator. I use Hungarian since Ivy is Hungarian and the language has a medieval sound to it, at least to my ears.  Dark in the translation is Komor.  Komor Forest.  Cool.  Like it.  Done.  

Next I need a hub.  A place for the players to heal and sell some of their ill-gotten gains.  Since this is a frontier area there is very little in the way of resources.  I created a map for +Inkwell Ideas contest a while back and liked how it came out.  I already had a name for it, Hamlet of Hounds Head. Cool.  I like it.  Done.  

Not sure what style I'll be using in the final product, but for now this is my rough version of this map.  It gives me something to work off of.
I need to detail Hounds Head.  Six buildings.  A few features.  I decided to optimize Hounds Head's usefulness.

Hamlet of Hounds Head To-Do List
Figure out what the buildings are and detail them.
  1. The Scroll Stack - a place to get information, sell artifacts and information gathered from the forest.  Also can get magic items identified and possibly purchase a few healing potions.
  2. Ringing Anvil - can sell weapons and armor.  Buy or repair metal stuff.  He'll buy items for scrap metal to use for other tools.
  3. Valmar's Residence - leader and one of the founders of Hounds Head, ex-adventurer.  Dislikes 'the man', especially Baron Mawbray.
  4. Temple of Possimius - a temple based off of something I did for Petty Gods.  The players can get healed here, but it'll take a little more than money.
  5. (?) Inn - need to think of a name.  A place for the party to stay.  Contacts.  Information.  Also the place where Chevar is located (see People of Interest).
  6. Ingrid's Trading Post - the main place where the party can sell their extra goods.  Ingrid is shrewd and thrifty.  She won't be intimidated by adventurers.  She is a very religious woman, she has a small shrine to her god (got to figure out who it is).
Detail the features around within Hounds Head; King's Bridge, Three Paw Bridge, Trouble Creek and Three Paws Statue.

Detail a few People of Interest in Hounds Head.  Folks not tied to particular building, but will or could be encountered frequently.
  1. Korby the Kobold - already have him detailed.  A compulsive collector who hangs around the hamlet, sells his stuff for coppers and has a love/hate relationship with Fang (a dog).
  2. Chevar - a fancy talking fighter who is attempting to establish a branch of the adventuring guild in Hounds Head.  If he gets the funding, having an arm of the adventuring guild present would benefit Hounds Head.  Valmar doesn't like it, but sees the potential in Chevar's idea.
  3. Tangenta - no idea yet, just like the name.  
So I have a lot of stuff to do for a simple six building hamlet, which doesn't include tying in the adventures to the people.  

Back to Komor Forest.  I am not planning (I reserve the right to change my mind) to draw a large map.  I want the GM to use the amorphous nature of an expansive forest to be a concept and not defined.  If you need the cave to be two days away, its easy as saying "the cave is two days away".  Plus this allows the GM to devise what is in what direction and situate the adventures in any way he or she wishes.  

Another feature I'm adding is a random encounter table.  The random encounter table includes entries that are locations or creatures, all of which can be developed into adventure unto themselves.  Most of the random encounters are unique.  The GM can roll once or twice as the party travels through Komor and encounter an old ruin or a hunting party of hoogamites (I have no idea what a hoogamite is, I just made them up).  

And then the adventures themselves.  The main adventure is the Hunters in Death, which I have a rough idea what it will be, but I'm not gonna tell you yet. In addition, I'll write at least four adventures for the GM to use as she or he wishes.

The idea is to have a setting that is easy to digest and get players involved quickly.  It gives me a place rich with exploration, discovery and enemies to overcome.  It also has a history to it to give the area depth and a way to tie together what is found and fought.  

I have a lot of work to do.  My to-do list long, but I like where it's headed.  

I'll end this post with another amazing piece by Jack Holliday with a quote I remembered by Ernest Hemmingway.

Click to enlarge.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter Last Day

As of this posting there are 16 hours remaining in +Douglas Cole's Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter.  It's reached its funding goal and two of its three stretch goals.  There will be an ebook layout and there will be full color artwork.  He's $650 shy from a custom cover.  

Doug Gets Interviewed
Doug was interviewed by the Tome Show podcast and went into detail about the development of this Kickstarter and the content within Dungeon Grappling.  If you are interesting in hearing an in-depth discussion about the project please check out the podcast.  

Why to Get Dungeon Grappling
I believe it'll be a great addition to anyone's gaming table.  It adds depth to combat situations and role-playing possibilities beyond a drawn sword.  Not every combat needs to be kill or be killed.  Okay, most of the times it does.  But there are times when good barroom brawl is called for, not a body count. Maybe the group needs to get information, send a warning, knock a cocky youngster down a peg or two, wrestle the bomb detonator away, disarm a would-be robber and so on.  

Dungeon Grappling, while dungeon is in the name I can see it implemented into any genre, especially modern day settings.  You could run with the Dungeon Grappling system in countless situations.  So it's not for the dungeon and tavern.

Doug's shared one of the fill colored pieces of artwork for the Kickstarter and it looks fantastic.  

Doug's got himself an impressive stable of artists working on the book, full color spread.  It's going to be impressive once it's done.  

The buy in price for the PDF is $5.  That's more than you spend at McDonald's at lunch.  If you want a print version it's $18 + $5 or $6 for shipping.  For Brazil I saw it was like $23 for shipping.  I have no idea what the hell is going on there.  I think Doug's price points are spot on.  There are options for buying multiple print and PDF copies.  

I've had the pleasure of watching Doug develop his grappling system.  He and +Peter V. Dell'Orto offered to run an article about grappling in my zine, The Manor.  From there he's expanded it and refined the system.  I've been privy to copies of Dungeon Grappling as the Kickstarter campaign has progressed and I'm impressed with the quality and usability of the system.  Congrats to Doug on a successfully run first Kickstarter.  But there is still a few hours to get in on Dungeon Grappling.  Check it out, listen to the podcast and then throw a fiver or more at the Kickstater.