Saturday, December 31, 2011

Look What Came in the Mail

I haven't made it the post office for about a week, but when I opened my PO box I found a squished copy of Loviatar in between bills, advertisements, and mail that wasn't even mine.  Within my envelop was a note that reminded me I have one issue left in my subscription.  But it was the last line that made me chuckle.  "Goodness knows we can all use some good mail now and again."  Amen to that brother.

Issue #6 is broken in four sections.  The Introduction, which I will admit is something I skip in most magazines, but not this one.  I consider Christian's introduction just as valuable as the other content.   

Thursday Night Fight Club kicks off Christain's series "This Is L.A.".  It is stated out for BRP and is set in modern day L.A.  I love the accompanying photo and the story that goes along with it.  This is a timely article because my group has been discussing a modern day campaign.  My only problem is I don't have a smart phone to decipher the code square thingys.  In truth, I didn't have a cell phone for about three years until last week.  What can I say, I really, really, really hate phones.  But with an email I know I can get the answers.  Plus, I think its an excellent use of technology.

Now we move into the next and my new favorite, Hex 002 for basic D&D.  I love this series.  It reminds me of the dungeon Christian had in his OSE5F.  An adventure that saw the demise of Lester, Hester and Chester.  That dwarven clan never recovered.  In issue #5 hex 001 connects with 002 and so on.  I like it.  What I enjoy so far about the series is its understatement of adventure.  This series alone is worth taking a look at to all those OSR folks who haven't checked out Loviatar, seriously, you really should. 

And the last entry is A Lonely Dance on a Cold, Northern Shore Part III for Vampire: The Requiem.  Although I don't play Vampire the characters can be used for any system.  This is a great example of the system doesn't matter, its about characters and their stories.  If you got that you can plug them in any where.

On a final note, I wanted to say something about the artwork of Jay Penn, he has a blog called Realms of Faerie that you can check out and see his work done for Loviatar #6.  For me, his artwork fits the attitude of Loviatar perfectly.  His line drawings have an old school feel, but with his own style.  The cover is one of my favorites.

In conclusion, excellent job Christian, excellent job Jay.  My first gaming purchase of the new year with be my renewal to Loviatar.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Evil Garden with a Free Download

I'm on vacation and prone to doing something completely irrational.  In this case I went through all the monster manuals, tomes, catalogs and bestiarys to form a comprehensive list of all the plants, fungi and rock creatures.  I tried to keep it to creatures, not constructs.  You will find piercers within, but you'll find nary a stone golem.   In all I scoured 22 different books.  I'm sure I missed one or two and maybe included one that shouldn't be on the list, but give a poor fellow a break.

The reason I did this you ask?  I was creating wilderness encounters and though it would be a good idea to have a listing of natural inhabitants that make it so dangerous.  I also made myself a makeshift random table as I created these encounters which is included at the bottom of the post and within the list.

A not on my manual selection, even though there is a lot of redundancy in the creatures (Shambling Mound leading the pack with 5 separate entries, the Treant, Quickwood and Yellow Musk Creeper each scoring four), but there are differences in each entry.  Not to mention whole books dedicated to the ecology of the so and so.  While I did include the AD&D version of monsters I did not list the 3.0 and 4.0 editions.  I have no idea why just didn't.

Hope this list is of some use to someone.  I plan on using it for another goofy vacation project I will post about soon.  And as promised, here is the random table I produced to come up with a variety of encounters.  The percentages may not make any sense, nor were they meant to.

Random Wilderness Table
01-08   Monster
09-20   Animal
21-28   Person
29-35   Item
36-41   Magic
41-47   Water
48-56   Roll Twice and Combine
56-61   Trap
61-71   Plant
72-77   Weather
78-83   After Scene (roll again)
84-87   Ruin
88-93   Empty Lair
94-97   Landmark
97-00   Grave

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I Got Skyrim

What a gorgeous game.  I just got it this afternoon and dig the new crafting system.  But the only thing I have gotten proficient at is stealing from the NPCs gardens.

Monster Strength

I want my strength bonus!
I've been running my AD&D campaign now for a few months and something finally penetrated my thick brain the other day.  Let's take the Ogre for example, in the Monster Manual is does 1-10 damage or by weapon type.  No strength bonus is figured in.  The only reason this penetrated my thick skull was one of the characters has an 18/00 and is a fricking slaughtering machine.  The ogre is 9' tall and one mass of muscle and no bonus and if I remember correctly and I know do, the magic item Gauntlets of Ogre Power provide the wearer with an 18/00 strength.  The only creatures I can think of off the top of my shaved head that strength is figured are the giants, but again not into the damage itself. 

Here is a table I got out of the Monster Manual II.  It gives 19 to 25 strengths and a comparable monster.
Str   Monster
19    Hill Giant
20    Stone Giant
21    Frost Giant
22    Fire Giant
23   Cloud Giant
24    Storm Giant
25    Titan

Again, none of these strength bonuses are included into the damage.  Now I can hear some readers out there saying they don't include any attribute bonuses into the stats. True and not true.  Some of the armor classes are lower because of creature being quick, some critters can cast spells because they have a higher intelligence and so on.  Is it quantified?  No.  Would I want it to be?  No.  I'm just saying this because I've been thinking about it.  Although I wouldn't go around figuring out dexterities for creatures, I have done a lose configuration of strengths.  Why?  Because I'm on vacation this week.  If you want to make any more sense of it beyond that then you are wasting your time.  I'm doing this before I go out and by Skyrim.

Since my campaign is mainly populated by gobliniods, humanoids and the occasion horrific abomination here is my half ass list.  Is this set in stone?  No.  Why am I asking myself all these questions and answering them?  I don't know.

Str    Monster
7       Kolbolds
8       Goblins
12     Orcs
16     Hobgoblins & Gnolls & Troglodytes
17     Bugbears
18/00  Minotaurs & Ogres & Owlbears
19     Trolls & Umber Hulks
20     Ettin

Monday, December 26, 2011

PDF Pricing

I've been reading a few marketing books on my time off (do I know how to have a good time or what) and came upon the controversial subject on pricing PDFs.  I know as a fiction writer the rates for writing are pretty much as they were in the late 60s, early 70s with a lot less avenues of opportunity.  These days with electronic self-publishing though writers can make a decent income without the need of a magazine or publishing house.  With POD we have a more control of our writing, presentation and pricing.   

Knowledge Illuminates at this time has netted me $193.05.  After you take out the OGL and stat blocks it is a 5400 word manuscript.  That works out at .035 cents word with the ability to increase.  This is about what I would make if I wrote for an RPG company and less if I were selling a short story.  All of them have different rates, but the few I have seen, none go over 3 cents.  Once an editor/owner/whatever the title is that controls the purse strings likes your work and you become more reliable, he will pay more.  But many gaming companies are not accepting submission.

So after all the above veering off the path I want to swing this blog back to its original intent, the pricing of PDFs.  Your PDFs. And back to the book I was reading.  Here are the guidelines I saw for short PDFs (this was written in 2005).  These numbers are coming from ePublishing 101.

Pages          Base Cost
1-5                   $1
6-7                   $1.25
8-9                   $1.50
10-11               $1.75
12-14               $2
15-17               $2.50
18-20               $3.00

Additional Factors
Appropriate  Artwork +$1
Established, Respected Publisher/Writer +$1

The one thing I see now on RPGNow is there is no standard.  You will see a 100 page product priced at $1 and a 32 page product sitting at $32.  I know when Troll Lord Games released their Castle Keepers Guide on PDF for over $30 I was thinking it would never sell.  It's a silver seller.  I am Mongoose, and so can you! at $23.96 is a copper seller even though it is only 37 pages.  But these guys are well established and well liked.

For me, I try to figure out how much I would like to make with each sale.  With Knowledge Illuminates I wanted to make $2 after RPGNow took their cut and costs were factored in.  With my upcoming Starter Adventures I would like to make $3 PDF.  PDF pricing for me is much easier because all I need to do is subtract what the seller percentage which is set.  No matter how big or small, cheap or expensive, RPGNow takes35% for non-exclusive sales.  So I make 65 cents per dollar.  To make $3 I need to sell my PDF for $5.  Will that be too much?  Sales will dictate if I was wrong.  It will all come down to if people believe they got value for their money.  And that does not mean bloat the manuscript with additional material, but to streamline and make the material as assessable to the reader as possible.

EDIT: Forgot to add my last paragraph.  With production values increasing so have the prices.  With LOFP recent releases and the recent release of Weird Tales the OSR is becoming more professional and proficient at producing products.  And of course with that the PDFs have increased.  To me you have to ask yourself three questions:  How good is your product?  How many you would like to sell?  And is it a product that people want? 

I'm done.  Now go outside and play.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Favorite Posts/Blogs of the Week

I've been trying to pay more attention to the blogs I read.  I don't know how many times I read something then want to go back to it and cannot remember where the hell I read it.  So I started writing down a few of my favorites from each week.

My first one I saw this week was from R.W. Chandler of the Black Hole Diaries.  He post a tavern game called Rot Grub Roulette.  Absolutely love this game.  It's horrible and creepy and exactly what stupid drunk adventurers would do.

Ckutalik over at Hill Cantons started a Point of Light Contest.  Being that my campaign is run on this concept I took an interest in this post.  Read the comments.  There is a ton of great entries.

Lastly, Jason Sholtis from UNDERWORLD INK started a brand new blog called The Dungeon Dozen.  I love the concept of the blog.  Each entry is a random table on random subjects.  Jason brings back some respectability for the often forget d12.  Love the tables he's done so far.

I am off this week and looking forward to getting some work done on a couple of my projects.  I hope everyone had, is having a great holiday and then we got another one of those next week.  I love 2fer holidays.

Merry Sleestak Sunday

Enik gets into the Christmas spirit by installing fiber optics into the ancestors' skulls.

I know this one is a little big, but it was the only way to keep it flashy.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Super New Blog!!

I'm just missing the superhero balloon around that title.  But its true.  Jason Sholtis, OSR artist extraordinaire and all around swell guy has a new blog.  This one is called the Dungeon Dozen.  This blog is not about his art which is already well known and features in his other blog Underworld Ink.

If I'm not mistaken the theme of the blog is the posts list 12 things in a variety of topics.  Some examples are Dungeon Corpses, Unknown Spells, Unfathomable Deities and what are you still reading my blog for click on over to The Dungeon Dozen and join.  He doesn't bite.  Although he does fling poo. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Spells as Treasure

My players are stuck in an uncivilized land.  When leveling up this hurts the mages the most.  Why?  Because fighters increase their fighting ability, thieves continue to improve their craft and clerics get addition spells by their god.  What about mages?  They level up, but where do they learn their new spells?  There is no guild hall, no secret coven, no lonely tower in the wilderness (at least none that they've found) for the mage to go and learn new spells. 

Now spells become a commodity.  Something that can be traded among a few of the spellcasters that are on the same side.  And those scrolls that are often considered minor treasure become important.  To the mage, the most valued treasure. 

The rules I have in place for my current campaign is a magic-user may transcribe a scroll into a spell book, but it consumes the original scroll.  I pretty loose with the recovery of spells.  Just get a full night's rest and say you're recharging your spells and I'll let you know if all of them are memorized.  The other thing I've added is a version of Rob's (Bat in the Attic) version of ritual casting spells.  Great for utility spells.  Such as a detect magic.  When you're in a hostile environment keeping yourself armed is critical, so using a precious spell slot on a service spell is not often done.  But with the ritual spell, a magic-user can cast a spell by using 10gp of spell components/level of the spell and it takes 1 turn/level of the spell to cast.  Here again, since the players are in an uncivilized area they need to take time to gather the natural spell components available in the woods.  Which I've decided takes 1d2 hours/10gp worth of components.  *On a related note, I had all the players before the start of the game pick a secondary skill, like mason, leatherworker and so on.  If a player chose herbalism or some sort of wilderness skill this time is reduced by half.

I've always liked the idea of spells as earned or found treasure.  I have those spell compendium books so I have a lot of new and interesting spells the players may have never heard of or experienced.  It adds an element of surprise to the casting itself.  It is not a memorized effect.  So the caster will need to experiment a bit to discover the nuances of the spell.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Werestak and My 600th Post

A little known fact that the sleestak are susceptible to lycanthropy.  Despite this, some of their features, such as their large eyes remain intact during the transformation.  Probably the strangest thing is hearing a wolf hiss. 

Yep, that's right this is #600.  What does that mean?  Means I've managed to stick around longer than I thought.  I'll be doing a couple year end blogs looking back on stuff I bought and blogs I've read and written.  Sometimes it seems like I've been doing this forever.  Have a great Sleestak Sunday.  Even you Lurker.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The $1000 Mark Has Been Surpassed

Well I've gone and done it.  I've been keeping a close tally of my year's spending on gaming stuff and it looks like I have officially gone over $1000.  Trey's Weird Adventures was the temptation that put me over.  A thousand is it a lot, but I have no regrets.  I don't smoke or drink so my indulgence is gaming material.

This year is coming to an end, but there are still a few things I would like to get.  That total may get a little higher.  Ivy is in the background chanting "Now I can get my Vitamix.  Now I can get my Vitamix."  So she has ulterior motives in her support of my gaming habit.

I just saw Weird Adventures hit #8 on RPGNow.  Go buy a copy and make it #1.  I haven't read it yet, but since I follow Trey's blog I know it's going to be great.

A Stellar Week for the OSR

It's been a pretty good release week for the OSR.  The long awaited Weird Adventures by Trey, From the Sorcerer's Skull blog.  It is available in PDF, but if you want it in print *raising my hand* then you'll have to  wait until after the New Year.  I plan on getting both.  This is one I've been waiting to get my hands on for some time.  The PDF runs $10.99.  No word on how much the print will be. 

Second, James Raggi had double release of Carcosa and The Isle of the Unknown.  There is a long line waiting to get these.  I think it's smart to do the double release.  More than likely gamers will purchase both and save on some shipping.  The LotFP machine rolls on.  I would give you the price, but its in euros and James is has discounts so go check it out and buy yourself a very cool Christmas present.

Third, lesser known than the two above, but I think just as significant, is the first release by Dylan Hartwell over at the Digital Orc blog.  He took the plunge and decided to produce and sell his product, The Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz!.  He wrote and did the art.  The artwork is great, reminds me of old Judges Guild drawings.  At $2.99 go check it out and let him know.  Support a fellow OSRer.  (OSRer? I'll go with it.) 
And I am so damn jealous I did not get in on those Dungeonmorph Dice.  Those look great.  Everyone involved in that project did an excellent job.

Have a great Saturday.  And don't forget the buy some OSR goodness for Christmas.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Monster of Monsters

The other day I asked a question on Google+ if anyone had used the Tarrasque in their game.  Most had, one even said it was a playable class which boggles the mind and sounds fun as hell.  Recently in my campaign the players were exploring one thing and ended up seeing the Tarrasque free itself from hibernation.  They're not sure what to think of it other than not to get in its way at this point.  I know what I am doing with it and how to use it, but I was thinking of different ways such a creature could be used in a campaign.

First, it is a force of nature, destroying everything in its path.  It eats and sleeps.  It's only purpose is to eat and sleep.  There is no grand scheme to its actions other than that.

Second, it is a force of nature that does have a purpose.  When things get unbalanced, because we all know nature is neutral and loves balance, this big boy comes out to play to set the scales equal.

Third, a god pet.  Release the Kracken kind of thing.

Fourth, a prehistoric god itself who has outlived all its followers and now seen only as a abomination.

And I am sure there are a billion other back stories you could give this big boy.  I'm still working on the mythology for mine.  I've got most of it figured out, but still looking for some tasty bits.  So if you have any Tarasque stores and feel like sharing please do.  I want to peek at your ideas and maybe steal some ideas.

At least I am an honest thief.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I've Hijacked Tim's Blog

Yeppers.  I'm taking over this blog and offering gamers 20% off their entire purchase at My Blanket Shoppe.  Hope you take a look-see.

Coupons expire 11:59PM (12.18.2011). As always, Free Shipping within the continental US. And please remember to add your coupon code GAMERDISCOUNT, when asked at the end.

In other news, Tim's due home soon.  Paprika chicken and sweet tea for lunch.  And for the pups, homemade ice cubes.  Nums, nums for all.

Merry Christmas & Happy Gaming.

Thanks Bunches,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Necklace of Second Chances

Last night the game ended with the party battered and one member rescued from the brink of death.  One of the interesting treasures the players discovered was a necklace with three cubes (I found the picture by google ganking and I was surprised to have a choice of three cubed necklaces).  For now it is called the Necklace of Second Chances.

The Necklace of Second Chances makes the saving throw for the player automatically.  Here's how it works.  Each cube can hold up to six charges represent by a rune appearing on one of the sides of the cube.  To charge the cubes requires Viz.

Viz is a physical manifestation of magic that occurs naturally in nature.  Also creatures with magical abilities have viz charged parts that can be harvested.  And some mages can create viz. Viz can be use in place of a spell slot.  One viz will allow a magic-user or illusionist to cast a 1st level spell without losing the spell.  The viz is consumed on use.

The cubes can be separated into necklaces to the number of cubes it has.  The one they found had three.  With each viz one charge is absorbed into the cube and a rune will appear.

Not all saving throws are the same.  If a player is bit by a giant centipede one charge is used to make the save.  If an ancient red dragon bears down on the player with a full blast of fire it may require six or more charges.  There is not set number of charges for the different saves.  The GM can determine that.

The only drawback is if a save is required the necklace will automatically use the charge if available.  The player has no control of when it is used.  If the necklace is worn it is in play.  The only time it will not use its charges is if the save requires more charges than the cube(s) has available.  So if the players necklace only has one charge when that red dragon breathes on him the necklace can do nothing to help.

These necklaces require contact with the person or creature they are protecting.  So having it in a backpack or pouch will not help. 

Very few of the necklaces exist.  The cubes themselves can be made of nearly any material.  Most are made of metal, but bone and wood have also been used.  So when the cubes are empty of charges they look like a normal cube and can be easily overlooked.

In my campaign I give 1000xp for the first time the players find and discover the use of the necklace.  Market value is determined by the location of where they try to sell and to whom they try to sell it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sleestak Sunday

Even the Sleestak get sad when their elder gods tell them no.  This one is not allowed to play in the pylons for a week. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

This Just In

Hey, lookie what I found in my mailbox.  I'm very excited about coming home tonight and looking through it.  I know I'll be rolling  an adventure just to see what happens.  As the owner of the first two books, if the second two are just as good I'll be one happy gamer.  By the way, this book came to me in excellent shape.  No dings, dents or scratches.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Knowledge Illuminates Sale, Sales

Please move along if you have no interest in this, but I like to do sales updates.  Since I put Knowledge Illuminates for sale on the 24th of November I've sold 10 more.  That puts the total sold to 97.  Out of 97, 14 were comp copies and 83 were sold.  That brings my gross total to $291 and my net is $189.15.  So though it didn't get near the total I spent for the year it certainly had fun exploring with it.  When I have that credit at RPGNow I am more likely to take a chance on a product and pick up things I would like to see.  Which I did a lot this year.

I want to thank those ten who took advantage of the sale and hope you enjoy the adventure. If you end up using it let me know how it went.

Well that's all for a Tuesday night.  I'll be doing a game summary of last nights game. They discovered the big bad secret.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Town Name Generator

I found this Town Name Generator messing around on the web.  I'll add to my gaming links section.  It looks like it can be used for fantasy or modern.

Easing into Monday...Enjoy

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hand Drawn Campaign Map

This is an unmarked version of my campaign map.  Even my players haven't seen this or know where they are located.  We've been playing I think for three months and they have just traveled out of the original hex they started from.  Game night tomorrow night.  Looking forward to it.

Selling Some Gaming Books

I've got a fat stack of White Wolf's original Vampire, Werewolf, Mage and Changeling.  I'm willing to sell these bad boys cheap.  If your interested just email me elder(underscore)sensa(at)yahoo(dot)com.  All I ask is let me know how much you're willing to pay and since these guys weight a ton (around 15.5lbs) to pay the shipping also.  I'm not sure if there will be many or any offers for these books, but if you're looking for a stash of early Vampire books let me know.  All the books are in pretty good condition.  Here are the books included.

The Main Rule Book (hardcover)  SOLD!
The Players Guide
The Players Guide to The Sabbat
The Storytellers Handbook to The Sabbat
Chicago by Night
Children of the Inquisition (over-sized book)

The Main Rulebook   SOLD!
Players Guide 
Book of the Wyrm
Ways of the Wolf

Main Rulebook

More to come!  I've got to make some room on my shelves.

Sleestak in Black

Love this picture.  To me this is what the sleestak look like when they are coming out of the night to get you.  I decided to couple this with the Tower of the Archmage's Happy Terrainsgiving Contest. He's giving away a very ruin tower.  All you need to do is write an encounter that would happen at the tower, follow him if your aren't already and then post a comment on his blog.  All entries must be in by the 10th of this month.  I'm combining this Sleestak Sunday with his contest.

Twenty years ago the Hills of Stratford were lined with a series of forts built to defend against the invading armies of the goblinoids.  After a few years and several successful adventuring parties the lose organization of the goblinoid army crumbled as their leaders were killed, their treasures looted and the temples brought down upon their heads.  The forts no longer served a purpose in the eyes of the nobility.  With no army to defend against, the forts were abandon.  They were to be destroyed so as not to provide refuge for bandits or allow a rival a foothold within their land.  This was not done.

One of the most remote outposts known as Starges Tower stood against the Bleak Mountains.  With the constant wind, the barren landscape and months on end of isolation, the soldiers of Starges slowly devolve.  They're commander, Jeron, was assigned the post as a token.  He returned from a campaign in the desert  with a religious zealousness that embarrassed the most dedicated priests.  Some say it was heat stroke.  Others said he was possessed by demons.  Despite this, his military methods were highly effective and his family too influential for the nobility to dismiss him.  Instead they stationed the volatile commander at the Tower of Starges where his madness was refined.

Jeron brought with him a book he'd found in the desert.  A book of nightmares.  At first the soldiers thought it a joke and passed the time coming up with nicknames for Jeron.  But as the months passed and the resolve deteriorated Jeron offered them a solace.  He offered them a purpose beyond standing the wall staring out at nothing.  His soldiers memorized passages of a language they did not speak.  Jeron led them through rituals which they did not understand, but it gave them distraction and a sense of purpose.

After twenty-seven months with their only contact being the seasonal supplies, a messenger arrived.  His message, the soldiers were to return and the tower destroyed.  The messenger's words barely crossed his lips before he was killed.  His body stretched out on the barren ground as they preformed the final ceremony in the sacred book.

A few months after the initial messenger was sent and no soldiers returned, a small group was sent.  The family of Jeron wanted to know the reason why everyone else had returned but him and his men.  When the group arrived they found the tower still standing, but abandon.  They're investigation found the soldiers had left everything behind as if they had left in the middle of the day.  Food sat half eaten, clothes still resting on wash boards and a letter half written sat upon Jeron's desk.  The letter, though made of recognizable letters was not comprehensible.

The small group decided to leave in the morning.  Most were soldiers at one time and had the sense to post watch.  None of them slept.

As the night fell and the howling winds increased, Jeron and his men emerged from the ground transformed.  No longer bearing any resemblance to man, Jeron's skin had grown scales, eyes large and black, hands replaced with jagged pinchers.  His men the same.  They came upon the terrified visitors and one by one slaughtered them.

In the morning the bodies of the men were stretched out upon the barren landscape as an offering to a god whose name they did not speak.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wow. Very Cool Vid.

All I can say is wow.  Fantastic job.  I saw this over on Google+ and thought I would swipe it.  Beautiful voice and not too hard to look at either.  Bethesda, you need to hire her.

A Collection of General Bullshit and Some Good Stuff

Tome of Adventure
First off, I saw a video of ze bullette looking through a copy of The Tomb of Adventure.  Did it ship?  I've been waiting by the post box for the past few days accusing the mailmen and one suspect looking mailwoman of stealing my book.  After being escorted out by gunpoint and told never to return I was wondering if I should chance a midnight raid to see if it arrived.

Other Left Column of Purchases
Other recent purchases have placed me precariously close to the edge of dropping over the $1000 spending on game stuff for the year.  I have only a few weeks left.  I'm wondering what product will tempt me enough to take the plunge.  With Oubliette 7 and the Gamemastering book I got for free I have a lot to read.  Then I bought Legend from Mongoose for a buck.  I thought I would see what it was. 

Start Adventures
Things are progressing slowly, but work is being done.  I am increasing my bugging of Rob for maps.  I still have to give him the big map for the tavern.  We are going to work it out so there will be a map included of the tavern that can be printed out to use with miniatures.  Then I'll fire off copies to readers to do some proofing because I can never ever catch all the typos.

Map Eating Dogs
They remain alive.  Though many of you seem to be on their side, justifying their deliberately desecration of a Manor artifact.  Because of my situation at the post office and some other minor indiscretions has an unmarked dark blue impala police car across the street watching my every move.  And if I wasn't mistaken, late last night I think I saw the glint of a sniper scope in a tree within the woods.

Game Night
The players have just encountered something...big.  Can't wait to see how it plays out.

Modern Warfare 3
Got my kill ratio up to a 1.06.  At least I am on the positive.  When I first play I think it was at .65.  I always sucken muchen at first.  But now asses are starting to get kicked and names aren't be taken because once I kill you I don't care.  Muhahaha.  The system. the 360 (not those sissy PS3 blue ray players Lurker).  The gamer tag: Gothridge.

I think the latest Loviatar is the best.  I really love Christian's editorials.  The real gem in issue 5 is the starting hex.  It is very cool.  Fun.  And if you are still being a lazy arse and haven't gotten Loviatar go get it now.  I'll wait.  

The Happy Whisk
She says hi to everyone.  Lunch is at noon.  She is roasting a chicken with onions and potatoes.  

I've been watching this show called Being Human.  A British show about a vampire, werewolf and ghost.  It's been pretty good so far.  It has some funny parts in it.  I'm a little confused about the ghost stuff though, in the first episode she was talking a lot to the pizza delivery guy and took out the trash and people saw her, but now normal humans are unable to see her.  The mythologies around the werewolf are standard fare.  The vampire mythology got rid of anything that would make filming difficult.  He can eat, can be in the daylight, and apparently his hands are always cold because he's always wearing gloves with the fingers cut off.

Well time to get going.  Have a great Saturday.  "Be seeing you."

Oh Crap, One More Thing
I just saw Joseph Browning just turned 40 and doesn't look a day over 45.  He's putting a ton of his items at Expeditious Retreat Press for $1.  I'm headed there now.  Could this be causes me to go over the edge?

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Dog Ate My Map

No seriously.  I just came home with a pizza in hand and I open up the door to find my map, a map I've had for many years, shredded.  Wiggy running around with the half she hadn't quite had time to shred still in her mouth.  This was my map of Eastgate.  It was my first big map of a big city, with each section detailed in smaller maps.

Wiggy remains alive and well, but I am not sure for how long.  Here is a picture of the culprits.  Bug may have had nothing to do with the map shredding, but I have found her guilty by association.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm Tired As...

New Map

Rob Conley sent me a few maps for Starter Adventures.  This one is for one of the magic-user scenarios.  He even drew some rats for me.  I started the layout of the sixteen scenarios.  That will be the bulk of it.  Each one is a one to two encounter created for one of the four classes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Low Level Magic Item

Gerald the Not So Swift demonstrates how not to sheath a dagger.
When I write adventures I do the stream of consciousness thing and just keeping writing and putting down what ever sounds cool.  This is how I come up with most of my magic items, monsters or additional elements into the campaign.  When writing Starter Adventures, because it is written for absolute low level beginners I wanted to include magic items, but I needed to keep them low-level in power, but still useful.  The Torch Knife is one example.

Torch Knife
This useful item originated with the thieves guild.  With the invention of the torch knife thieves no longer needed to carry around cumbersome torches or lanterns.  A light source they could command to turn on instantly and more importantly off.  Since then their popularity has grown among adventurers and young nobles who like to collect roguish weapons.  

Torch knives are activated by a simple command sound, ‘shhh’.  This will activate and deactivate it.  Custom command words are available, but this increases the price.  A torch knife gives off enough light to see a foot or two in front of the wielder.  This illumination is not variable.  It's bright enough to read script, pick locks and signal someone in the night. 

It acts as a normal knife in combat.  It is not considered a magic weapon.  For those creatures that require a magic weapon to hit them, the combatant will need to find another weapon. 

The average cost at market for a torch knife is around 100gp.  This price can be as low as 50gp or up to 200gp.  These are not difficult to find.  Nearly any adventurer supply shop or magic shop will have these in stock.

Almost Dead

Game night went well.  Everyone  showed up and on time, technical difficulties were non-existent and all the players survived...almost.  My players have a grueling foe they are fighting.  These guys are very good at illusions and shapeshifting.  So for them they are constantly questioning anyone they meet.  "Are the are who they say they are?" 

Last night they encountered a room littered with illusions.  Most of the characters figured out that it was an illusion, but failed to disbelieve entirely (failed their saves so they could still be harmed by the illusions).  Boog, failed his save and charged in.  What the other players saw was Boog get paralyzed.  What Boog experienced was a battle that nearly ended his life. 

Boog battled his nemesis Waldron, but found him quite a different opponent now they were no longer on the same side.  Their feud goes back to the beginning of the campaign when they both guarded the fort.  Waldron and Boog traded blows, but a cleric healed Waldron and he was able to strike the death blow.

A quick side note.  In our campaigns those who are honorable and serve a god can earn bless amulets from the  churches.   These amulets offer a +1 to all rolls, but if that isn't enough they also can save the wearer's life by deflecting a death blow or in Boog's case have him hover at death's door.  Boog hovered in that doorway and the others players fast actions was able to pull him away and revive him.  Once the bless amulet saves the wearer it is destroyed. 

It ended with them spiraling down into a deep cavern and poor Boog, failed his saving throw vs. death magic when he came across...

Next week the players will find out.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Expectations of a Small-Time Publisher

There has been some interesting conversations going on about Professionals vs. Hobbyists and I guess like me, most of us are both.  Some may sway toward one end or the other, but if you have put something out there selling, you are a professional.  My definition of a professional is you get paid for what you do.  Quality doesn't factor in.  I am sure you don't need any examples of books or movies where the person got paid a boatload of cash and the product completely sucks. 

Being a one of many in the crowd of small-time publishers I try to be as professional as I can.  None of the products I produce will be flawless, but I try to get them as close as I can.  I just had someone the other day point out a typo I missed.  Much appreciated.  Those damn things seem to spontaneously spawn.  If someone dislikes my product for whatever reason, I just hope they will stick around and see if they like the next one.  And then there are those times when you have someone hate what you've done, but have no real basis, other than personal or they just enjoy being a dick.  Those I won't waste my time on.  You let them have their say then forget them and move on to something more important. 

Then there is the matter of money.  I've been open about the profit margin on my products, how many I've sold and how much I made so far.  It's still listed above.  I can do this because I'm a one man show so far, but if I was producing more and had a few people on staff I would still be open about certain things, but be more private about others.  But the point I what to get to is charging for what you've done.  Some will say there is so much free stuff out there why pay for it?  And the answer is you don't.  There is a lot of great quality free stuff.  Part of what makes the OSR great.  But the other great part of the OSR is being able to self-publish and make some extra change.  I doubt many will get rich, but some people are making some serious mad money.  The public will decide whether your product is worth purchasing.  It's not like we don't have any shortage of people with opinions around here.

When Knowledge Illuminates came out I was hoping to sell 25 to 35 copies.  I kept my expectation low partly because it was the first thing I put out there and it was pretty much a one man show.  I think with my $1 sale, I've reach 90 paid sales.  I'm thrilled with that.  It was fun and a learning experience.  With Starter Adventure I am hoping to sell a 100 copies print/pdf.  To me that's scary high because it needs to sell word of mouth.  I have no distributor and don't have time to sell them by hand.  With assistance of Underworld Ink for the art and the maps by Bat in Attic I hope to produce a good quality book that people will have fun with.  I really won't know until I get it out there.

But to all of you out there that has no taken the plunge and have something they may want to publish I say take a look at it again, have you made it as good as you can at this time, if so publish it and don't be afraid to make some money.  Even if you only sell a handful enjoy the pizza you buy.  If you sell a 1000 then go ahead and plan the trip to Tahiti.  It's all good.  This is a game we are talking about.  Not a necessity.  Have fun with it and if done right others will have fun with it to.

Unfortunately I haven't had time to edit this post, the dogs are biting at my jacket and I am late to work.  Game night tonight here at the Manor and I'm looking forward to rolling some dice. And as I mention, once the guys finish the adventure I'll put it up as a free download.  It's Monday, it's raining and I would wish you to have a good day, but I doubt it.  Ha.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sleestak Sunday

This picture is from Vince Dorse.  He has a lot of cool pictures, but for some reason, I'm not sure why, this caught my attention.  Go to his site check out his work it's very cool.  Great use of color.  Sadly though, this is the only sleestak picture I could find.  Have a great Sunday folks.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Layout, Finding a Home for Art

Yesterday I spent 4 hours on seven pages of Starter Adventures. I did the layout for the dungeon adventure section and I forgot the fricking map. More layout time for me today. 

Rob Conley did the map and will do all the maps.  Jason Sholtis and John Larrey did all the artwork.  That's the best and hardest part of the layout having all these great things to put in.  When I did layouts for my other products I didn't worry about art because I had none.

For each drawing and each map I am trying to find its home in the space of the page.  I know it sounds dramatic, but it's true.  Each serves a purpose for a particular section of the manuscript.  Making them fit in a pleasing way is a challenge.  I guess I could compare it poorly to an art gallery where each has its space on the wall and there is a method to the presentation. 

When I checked my layout yesterday I noticed I placed most of the drawings in the right column near the bottom.  So I went back and altered the locations to help break up the text and assist in imagining the adventure I'm trying to convey.  It's an interesting process.  Although I have cussed out my computer screen for not doing what I wanted I think I have a handle on it.

Now I am onto the New Monster and New Magic Item sections and if I can get Ivy off the couch and pry the 360 controller from her hands (she is glazed over playing a marble spitting frog game) we may go to the bookstore.  Have a great weekend.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Hunter and Four Orcs

I was playing RAGE a few months back and it had a great little mini game in it so I thought I would rip it off and place in my game.  Here is my version.  I think it is a simple game that I think will be a lot of fun in game.

The board is simple, it is build in a X shape.  Each arm has three spaces and the orcs start at the end of each arm and the hunter stands in the middle. 

  • Player makes a bet.
  • Four dice are rolled each round.  For every 1 rolled an orc is taken off the board.
  • If the player manages to kill all the orcs in the first round the player earns 10x his bet.
  • If the player manages to kill all the orcs in the second round the player earns 4x his bet.
  • If the player kills all the orcs in the third round he wins his bet back.
  • If the player fails to kill all the orcs he loses the bet.

Optional Variant
In larger cities gambling houses may add two more arms and one more space.  The player would roll six dice per round and the player would get a 25x payoff for the first space.

I think its a cool little game you can put in any tavern or gambling house and the mechanics of it make it game friendly and won't slow things down.  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Sale

Happy Thanksgiving to all those out there eating turkey and to the rest of you, well, have a good Thursday and try not to be jealous because I have the day off.  Muhaha.  I decided to drop the price of Knowledge Illuminates from $4 to $1 for the holidays.  So any of you out there that have been wanting a peek now is the chance to do so.  I plan on using any profit gained from the sale to send out hard copies of Starter Adventures.  So if you have some time, take a look at it and see if it might interest you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hand Drawn Map

I leave the professional map making to Rob.  But when I do them on my own I hand draw the map then add the text in Paint or some other program.  And for the building itself I did a little work in paint.  This is the medium map.  There is an overview map and of course a more detailed map of the inside.  The overview shows the three main areas where a series on three one-shot adventures take place.  This is the map for the second one.  The first one, Mine of Rot & Disease, this one is called Ambrose Abbey and the third is yet unnamed.  Mine of Rot and Disease was going to be my first release before Knowledge Illuminates, but I opted for the latter.  The cool thing about this module is Whisk did some artwork for it so I am looking forward to getting it ready for publication. 

Game Night Cancelled

After working hard on the adventure I got a flurry of emails Monday during lunch that one couldn't make it and two would be late at different times.  Because the party is in the middle of an dungeon adventure I decided to cancel and try again another time. There are times when having a partial party is fine, but when the whole crew is in the middle of a dungeon, not so much.

All is good though.  Four day weekend coming up.  Hope to get some reading done and work on a few projects.  Starter Adventures is in layout, just waiting for maps.  That is my fault for taking so long to get them to him.  I plan to play around with some layout ideas. This will be one of the more trickier layouts I've done.  Not that I have a ton of experience.  But I look forward to solving the problem.  I know I am limited by using MS Word, but its what I'm comfortable with.

Time for work.  Hope it goes quick.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Working on Tomorrow's Adventure

Finishing up the adventure for tomorrow's game.  We should have a full party once again.  It's great to have full party.  I'm using the Complete Tome of Horrors to populate my dungeon and its been a lot of fun.  Tweaking and figuring out different ways to present things.  Short post.  Just having fun on Sunday night creating havoc. 

Everybody Loves Sleestak Sunday!

Except Lurker of course.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tome of Adventure Design

I knew I was going to do It, I just didn't know when.  I ordered the the Tome of Adventure Design from Frog God Games.  Inching me ever closer to that $1000 dollar mark on the left hand column.  I'm thinking either Pathfinder's third Bestiary or some must have OSR product is going to nudge me over the edge.

First impressions of the PDF are I can't wait to get the print version.  I already have the first two books in print.  Both are excellent.  The third book is about building an adventure and the philosophy behind it.  Tables everywhere.  And if you have experience with the first two books each table has a purpose within the whole.  They are not random, random tables.

The forth book, probably the one I am most interested in focuses on out of dungeon adventures.  I haven't had a chance to look at it too closely, but I plan on setting some time aside and playing with the tables tomorrow.

Like the Complete Tome of Horrors, this tome will be a fantastic addition.

Three Things I Like Best About Swords and Wizardry (title edit)

I've been thinking about a few month old AD&D campaign and how it compares tot he retro clones. It has been a blast digging through the old books and they still fall open to the tables a DM is always looking for.  But there are a few things I do like better with the retro clones.  Here is a quick shot.

1. Ascending Armor Class
Simple, no table needed.  I like it for easy reference.

2. One Saving Throw
I do like the single saving throw more than the five different saving throws.  But, I think I like the Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saving throws the best.  Still, the single number save is easier and keeps things rolling.

3. Easy Monster Creation
Okay, this may be a subtle difference between 1st edition and the retros, but miles easier than doing GURPS critters.  The simple stat blocks of the Monster Book (which is the only thing I wished they had included in The Complete Tome of Horrors) save the GM a lot of headaches.

Have a great Saturday and try to be nice to those gentle peasants.  Remember to leave them their wedding dresses and grandmothers.

RPG Heroes Are Jerks

Friday, November 18, 2011

friday, what to do?

Not much has been going on as far as gaming this week.  Our group took a break this week due to conflicting schedules, but we'll be ready to roll this Monday.  In a way it worked out.  It allowed me some extra time to work on the adventure they are going on.  When they are done I plan on putting it up for a free download. 

Yesterday I tempted fate by suggesting an OSR podcast and got a few replies, some said the market is saturated and I am sure it is, some said do a video (well actually James said it) and that would be cool too, but that is even more technology I would need to learn.  Some said it would be cool.  Usually in these cases when I am thinking of something like this I won't ask for public opinion.  I'll just do it and see what happens.  I know there are some good podcasts out there, but I guess I would like to see one more OSR centric.  I may get together with Rob Conley and see if we can come up with something.  He would be the tech guy and his knowledge of games and gaming is encyclopedic. 

Right now I am feeling like switching it up a bit.  I would like to get excited about a project again.  Starter Adventures is just waiting for maps so I can do the layout.  I'm looking forward to releasing it to get it off my table and move forward on the next. 

The next project will probably be Hydra related.  I'm more of a lurker at this point.  Seeing what others are doing and seeing how the group gels or segregates and go from there.  Some of the projects proposed I would definitely be interested in. Megadungeons are always interesting although I rarely use them.  It's tough to get a party through a normal sized dungeon.  Still, never did one and would be interested to see it constructed.

It's Friday.  Hope to get some good writing in this weekend.  The Whisk will be whisking so it will be just me and the pups who randomly terrorize me.  Have a good one folks and stay safe.  Snowing like crazy here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

OSR Podcast?

I am about to throw this on the forum over at Hydra.  How about someone doing an OSR podcast?  I am not that person since I have no idea how to do it.  But I know how to listen to them.  There are a ton of podcasts out there, but I would like to see one that is more OSR centric.  Do what Underdark Gazette and more, interesting blog posts, current releases, announcements, interviews and general news.  Just curious what others thought? 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More OSR Products

Other items I would like to add to my list that I think are top notch products are:

The One-Page Dungeon Contest
I think most would agree this little contest brings out the best in the OSR.  Not only from the designers of the adventures, but the judges who donate their time, Alex who has coordinated it the past couple of years and the sponsors who offer some fantastic prizes. 

Beyond the Black Gate Compendium by Al
Beyond the Black Gate was one of the first OSR blogs I plugged into and had a pleasure of tossing some dice with Al.  For the past couple of years he has released compendiums which are fill with useful tables, article and ideas.  All free.  All Al.

Inns & Taverns by Satyre
Over at the Fame & Fortune Blog Satyre has been pumping out Inns & Taverns for a while.  I am a huge fan of them.  Can you ever have enough taverns?  I don't think so. 

Favorite OSR Products

James over at the Underdark Gazette asked what our top OSR products are.  So after failing to post yesterday due to technical difficulties and a light array of swearing I will bore you with them now.  Like most people said, these are in particular order. 

Points of Light by Rob Conley
I wasn't aware of the OSR at this time.  Forth edition D&D hadn't been released.  And every time I heard someone talk about being 'old school' it invoked my gag reflex. But as I look back I think this is an excellent OSR product to get campaigns started quickly.  I know I am partial to this because I helped in its creation, but I still refer to it today.

S&W Monster Book by Matt Finch
When I mention my favorite monster manuals this one right up at the top.  Before the Tome of Horrors and the new Hacklopedia of Beasts it was my favorite.  Those beautifully simple stat blocks.  Even with the two heavy weight tomes I mentioned I will still refer to this one often.

A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe by Expeditious Retreat Press
If I were a professor of RPG Fantasy 101 this book would be required reading.  It breaks down the complexity of medieval society into a playable form.  It can add a depth to a campaign that will make it a rich place to adventure for years.

I only have Knockspell on this list because out of all the magazines I like this one the best.  Fight On! is a great mag, but Knockspell seems to geared more towards what I like in a gaming magazine. 

All My 1st Edition Books
I'm using them for a campaign right now.  We are having a blast.  Even after 30+ years I still love reading through them and finding new ways to surprise the players. 

Tome of Horrors by Frog God Games
The master of monster manuals.  This hefty book could kill a kobold.  With the addition of the lairs, the write ups and excellent art this book I think is a must.  I just miss those simple stat blocks from the Monster Book.

Neoclassical Geek Revival by Zzarchov
This is a nice hidden gem in the OSR.  What makes this rules variation so interesting are the sub-systems that he employs.  Zzarchov has a fresh and interesting way of looking at things that you may take for granted in your own game.  If you get a chance I urge you to check out NGR.

There are others.  Adventures I didn't even get to mention, but time has caught me up and I now must go to work.  And its only Tuesday. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sleestak Invade Etsy

The sleestak can be found on Etsy.  I love this belt buckle.  Although that little point on his head above and below seem a little risky.  On slip or wrong bend and you've been impaled by a sleestak head. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dungeon Crawl Session

Cast of Characters
Boog, fighter – Rob Conley
Grim, thief – Brian
Corum, cleric – Rusty
Ailen, magic-user – Josh
DM – Me

Monday Night found the party’s number increased to four as Josh joined the fray.  The party now has a representative from each of the four base classes as Josh took on the roll of magic-user.  Running on only brain fumes for the session I skipped the whole clever introductions or creating an organic situation where they would meet.  Hell, there isn’t even a tavern to do the cliché meet and greet.

After the players helped remind my sorry ass of where we left off.  (Side note: I always have the best intentions of keeping detailed documentation for a campaign, but it never seems to happen beyond a few sessions.  So no having the best memory ever created I often need reminded of where we left off.)  This time I did have an idea and created a dungeon for the session. 

With only minimal introduction I had Josh join the party on the outside of the dungeon.  The party tracked one of their enemies to here, a not so abandon temple of the old Death God, Ba’al.  Abandon temples of death gods are the best.  After some muscle work from Boog the barred door fell under his mighty onslaught. 

Immediately upon entering the players saw the strange sight of a crumpled pillar with long tentacles laying on the floor about it.  After a quick and cautious inspection they deduced the pillar had been a roper.  Ailen saw that its teeth and eye had been removed.  Someone with the knowledge of components and Viz must have killed it. 

Not long after the inspection of the roper was completed the party was attacked by two 8’ skeletons with big ass swords.  Corum was able to turn one.*  The second one lumbered forward and shattered Corum’s shoulder with a massive blow.  After trading blows with the giant skeletons the party limped away victorious. 

After this attack the players investigated a couple of rooms and found the front entrance was under a good amount of mountain from the initial earthquake that cut them off from the civilized kingdoms.  Ailen discovered a Pouch of Preservation (see New Magic Item Section) with pipe tobacco stashed in it.  They avoided a room of zombies.  Although there was a nice scene with them scrambling with iron spikes to keep the door shut as the zombies piled on on the other side.  Zombies, always a good time. 

Then the unsuspecting party came upon a locked door.  After some tinkering with the lock, the door burst open with a cloud of dust that blinded most of the party.  A dust ghoul (from the Tome of Horrors) attacked the players.  The players had no idea how much danger they were in.  The dust ghoul was prepared to summon his dust zombies, but after being wounded and the decisive strike from Corum, sent the creature lifeless to the floor.  Boo-yah! 

Inside the room the players found thirteen pedestals, two empty, eleven with grotesque statues of the others gods in perverse positions.  Boog, being an art connoisseur of perverse statuary wanted to take them with him, but decided they were too heavy and would probably break off the most interesting parts during the adventure.  He put a Boogmark in his brain to come back and grab funny statues.  On the floor the symbol of the death god was inlayed with black quartz.  Corum got a very bad feeling about this room and had the party leave.

As they stepped out of the statuary room the floor trembled with a loud rumbling noise that seemed to emanate from beneath them.  Scary.

The party then encountered a strange door that was intricately decorated with thirteen skulls.  The eye sockets of the skulls were holes.  After some monkeying around and a fail trap check by Grim, Boog took a header into a 20' deep pit.  At the bottom was black water.  When he climbed out he was covered in transparent leech like critters.  Boog scream like a little girl and as they burned them off of him he screamed a little more.  After much deliberation they decided the door was no match for them and moved on.

As we neared the end of the session the players heard and felt the rumbling under their feet once again.  Something must be pretty scary under there, eh?  They found a secret door that opened to a small room with a pillar made of black quartz.  The same kind of quartz the symbol in the floor in the statuette room was made of.  They broke out the make shift wood platform around the pillar and discovered it dropped a long way. 

The final room where we ended for the evening they found a storage room.  It had enough basic supplies for a hundred men.  The most interesting part of the room was the war chest they found.  It had some money inside and a few other things, but the chest itself was something they plan to drag out of this place.

*The players don't know this and if any of my players are reading this stop now or lose 250xp.  Corum still has the ability to 'turn' undead, but it does not make them flee.  Instead it stuns them for a number of turns.  At the end of that time they can attack normally.  A house rule put into place since this is the dead god's home field. 

DM Notes
The fortunate thing was the players explored all the rooms I managed to detail.  And ended where I had gotten to so that leaves me time to get it ready for out next session.  Which will be in a couple of weeks because this week two players will be absent.  I got a good idea what will be in the remaining rooms, but I want to take the time to flesh them out a bit.  So far in this dungeon I created two new magic items.  One of which will be explained in a bit and a couple new spells.  Always cool.  The addition of a magic-user into the group I think will prove invaluable. 

A short note about the magic item.  I decided to use the ritual system that Rob uses based off the ritual system that 4th edition uses.  Which I think is a pretty good system.  A magic-user can do a ritual that take 1 turn/level in time and cost 10gp worth of components/level of the spell.  The Pouch of Preservation was created for this.

New Magic Items
Pouch of Preservation
This pouch can hold up to 50gp worth of spell component to keep preserved.  It is a fairly common item among magic-users.  It is especially useful when a component has a short shelf life.  It is not water sealed so liquid will run out.  (250xp)