Sunday, June 29, 2014

Micro-Adventure #4: The Pierced Children

Here is my latest addition, Micro-Adventure #4: The Pierced Children.  You can go on over to Patreon and download it for free like all my other offerings.  If you like it, maybe throw a quarter into the till.  Either way, please download it and give it a read. 

This micro-adventure kept wanting to creep into full adventure mode.  One of the things I enjoy about writing these is keeping it concise and cutting away all the frivolous additions.

To conserve space for this entry, since many of the opponents were the same I just used a generic stat block at the end and if there were any variations I added them into the text of the encounter.  

+Thaumiel Nerub wrote a review about MA #1: Norman's Gone Missing.  He estimates it took him 1-2 minutes to read and that included prepping time and it takes 15 - 30 minutes of game time.

+Erik Tenkar also wrote a quick post about MA #3: The Pig and The Ogre.  He's itching to get a grease pencil and mark it up.  Great idea!

For those who are members of my Patreon offerings I'll be sending out laminated copies of the micro-adventures every so often and other surprises I am cooking up.

+Christian Walker took the time to post a few words about my laminated version of MA#3: The Pig and The Ogre.

There seems to be a lot of cats with my maps.  Maybe I should start selling these things at the pet stores. 

And to those who are already supporting my Micro-Adventures, a huge thanks.  It is appreciated and I hope to make it worth your while.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Friday is All Right for Fighting

Elton John had the wrong night.

+Erik Tenkar took the B Group....we need to come up with a better name.  That one sucks.

+Erik Tenkar GMed our group made up of the technical grappling guru +Douglas Cole (he's got a t-shirt to prove it), erotic dungeon fantasy author +Peter V. Dell'Orto and a guy I don't know well enough to give him a smartass moniker, +Chris Maler.  The fourth guy in our small group is sorta like a Spinal Tap drummer. 

My guy, Minister, a cleric/mage, leveled up to 3rd in each class.  And something magical happened...roll d20 got a quantum flux dice roll generator.  Apparently it is the latest quantum you can legally possess.  This was to assist Minister from continuing his long string of 1's.  It did that.  Instead, Minister is now rolling a long string of mediocre misses.

Our group returned to the 3rd level, because like all adventurers believe, the deeper you go the better the loot is. We now had a dwarf, he helped us detect all those five degree angle slopes, but he immediately failed to notice the 10' pit.  At least he missed the spikes.

Erik worked magic with his fog of war so not to give too much away.  But we were looking for doors and rooms with numbers.  It took us a little while to find a room with some loot.  We encountered a Donkey Kong trap.  I loved it.  Flaming barrels rolled towards you and the great thing was, it reset itself so the next poor shmuck would have to leap of those flaming bastards.

We fought a series of low level critters.  I think the camel spiders (without toes) and a quad of skeletons were the badasses of the night.  We ran in another mage with two fighter 'companions'.  The mage vanished and I slept the two manly men.  Erik said they were wearing plate mail, but then took it back when we looted them and said they only had chain mail.  In a previous room we'd inadvertently taken the mage's spellbook he hid.  And here's a very important lesson boys and girls, come closer because I want you to hear this.  When you're invisible, don't shout 'fuck'.  That kind of potty mouth behavior will get you killed.  And that's just what happens boys and girls, that mage died as a dagger was slowing pushed into his eye socket.

Peter got tubro-rot from putting on a mummy's boots.  Or at least he said he got the rots from the mummy.  I saw how he was flirting with the one-eyed potion girl.  Peter thinks she's winking at him.  I didn't have the heart to tell him otherwise.

Last night was fun and needed.  It sounded like almost everyone in the group had a long ass week.  I needed to blow off some steam by goofing around and having some fun tromping through a dungeon. 

I had a great time.  My contribution was minimal.  But it was a needed diversion and a fantastic way to begin the weekend.

Oh, and to get a more accurate and serious version of the session, Peter has his take and a few opinions.  And Doug is able to write his report the instant we are done.  He's such a kiss ass.  But it's the most accurate at what happened and his Google-fu is top notched when finding the appropriate clipart to highlight events. 

But the kicker is, I wrote this post, so Tenkar gives folks 10% bonus for writing a post about the game.  That 10% bonus allows me to level up in to a 4th level cleric and mage. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sneak Peek at the Next Micro-Adventure & Wounded Warrior Project

Here's the map for #4 Micro-Adventure.  This one is called the Pierced Children.  It consists of a mountain edge, some woods and a rough silver mine.  Those blue spots are supposed to be more 'silvery'.  They look a little too much like water.  I thought if I added white it would make it less water looking.  I miscalculated.  The white makes it look like ripples sort of.  While I don't have the artistic ability many of these map dudes do, but I can at least make what's on the map clear. 

I've been creating these for my Patreon page.  So far I've got 9 patrons, hit my first goal, and learning the interesting things about Patreon.  Some of them glitches.  But I offer them to everyone for free.  You can copy them off the page here or go to Patreon and DL it there. But, next month the focus will be on something else.

Next month +matt jackson has gathered a bunch of mapmakers, some of the best, to donate maps and he hopes to collect enough donations to give the Wounded Warrior Project $1000.  Matt is active military and one of my best friends has been in the Marines for 28yrs, I jumped at the chance to participate in this.  In July, all money I get from Patreon is being donated to Matt's project.  Matt has his own Patreon page.  This is where all the action will be if you wish to contribute.  Just join up and you can donate as much or as little as you want and withdraw at anytime.  No risk to you.  It's a cool set up and I've enjoyed the short time I'v had with Patreon. 

For more information about the upcoming Wounded Warrior Project please head over to Matt's page.  He's got more information of what's going on.  And seriously, hook up with Matt on Patreon, even for a quarter a map, it helps.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Navigating in a Land of Fog and Rain

This subject is appropriate for the weather here today.  We've got down pours and flooding.  It makes a mundane trip/landscape more challenging.  I avoid the word interesting, because while I like my fantasy exciting and interesting.  I like my real life less so.  Especially when it comes to traveling. 

Take a normal travel route in your game and add weather.  That ogre encounter you planned can take on a different level of difficult by adding rain, fog, snow or a fricking tornado!  I've never had a tornado in my game.  I may need to do that.  When I do add an environmental element to an encounter I usually add some modifiers to make it relevant.

Say the group is headed north on a road they've travel hundreds of times, but the day is rainy and patchy fog hangs in the air.  When Mr. Ogre Grumpy Pants bursts through the fog and rumbles towards the party, wielding a barn door as a club what happens now? 

  • Everyone with a one handed weapon is at -1 to hit and to damage.  
  • Two handed weapons are -2 to hit and to damage.  When you can't find good footing then it's more difficult to drive a strike home.  
  • A miss requires a Dex roll.  A failure could means they get twisted up and fall.  Could mean the pommel of the weapon is wet and slips out their hand.  Requiring a round to get up or get retrieve a weapon.
Some may say this is too fiddly.  I say BAH.  I don't think I've ever said BAH.  It adds a interesting element to a typically encounter.  In more extreme weather the penalties would be worse.  But for now, I'm just writing about typical weather. 

I wrote the rain away.  The rain stopped here.  I must be magic.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Adventure Unbalance

Adventure balance is one of the terms that makes my teeth hurt.  Not a fan.  I understand the concept, but for my games, I don't like it in practice.  Most of my players know I don't like to pull punches and not every situation they are going will be in their favor.  I will add most of the time it's my players who jump into the deep end of  the crap pool.

When I make adventures there are encounters that are going to be easier or very difficult for the players.  In Knowledge Illuminates, a 1st level adventure, there is an encounter with an Ankheg that could be party killer.  If the party tries to go toe-to-toe it won't end well.  But if they choose to go after it, they'll need to come up with a plan.  That's where the fun is.  Also, in the same adventure, there is a very bad, bad magic item that could do bad,bad thing to the players.  But at no time is anyone telling them they have to use it.  There is a group that will tell them not to use it and there are enough hints that using it will be a bad, bad idea.  

While I don't like to go out of my way to see that encounters are balanced for the party.  I do playtest my adventures.  I try to run them at least twice and if I can get some one else to run the adventure once.  I want to see if I inadvertently created a death trap.   While I am not into balancing encounters I also won't create unavoidable, mindless death traps.  It's frustrating to the players and boring to me.  When I playtest an adventure I can see where the problem are. 

A good GM can also adjust the difficulty level of an adventure fairly easy.  I can build an adventure for 1st thru 3rd level dudes.  My parties usually consists of four guys.  So that's what I write for.  If your group has six to eight guys the encounter might be to easy.  So while an adventure may have a suggestion of levels, it depends on size of the party.  Some of them bring hirelings in tow.  At this point the GM could increase the number of the enemies or increase the hit points or hit dice of the creatures.  Or whatever way you chose to create.

I've had dragon or giants or liches in 1st level adventures.  Usually they played an peripheral role, but if the PC wanted to challenge, suck up to, or, as one player wanted, to pee on the sleeping giant than rewards are given out for stupidity, cleverness or the distance of the urine stream.  Most PCs are smart enough to avoid, or watch.  But once in awhile a player is going to want to make a power play at a low level.  If they can pull it off, bravo.  If they don't, more likely they'll be rolling up a new guy.

In my experience, these unbalanced events/encounters are what my players find memorable.  They can be built into an adventure arc the players are working through.  Think of Conan and his parents and friend slaughtered by Thulsa Doom's men.  It set up the first stage of an epic.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Delayed Mail Call

I've been lax in showing off my latest acquisitions.  I've got a very cool backlog of stuff.

Zines have been pouring into the Manor lately.  Also there must have been a big sale on yellow card stock I missed.  +Richard LeBlanc's zines are an odd-size and full of his crazy good stuff.  Metal Gods is very cool.  I really enjoyed +Edgar Johnson's piece about the street kids.  That piece alone is worth the price of admission.  And Crawl Jammer brought to you by +Tim Callahan  comes in at 32 pages.  I think he's just trying to show off.  Making us look bad.  I haven't had a chance to read through it yet.  But I am getting ready to do some space micro-adventures and his zine is going to be a huge help.

+Joseph Bloch's fantastic Bestiary.  I've only thumbed through this bad boy, but holy shit on a's good.  Of course my timing was off and I bought it the weekend before his 30% sale.  Damn my piss poor timing!

This picture went wonky.  It's sideways.  Anyway.  Two very cool things here.  First off is a letter from +Christian Walker.  It's always good to get something from Christian.  I was laughing before I even opened the letter.  Above is +matt jackson's project, a hand written and drawn single page zine.  I dig the concept and I will definitely find a use for it.

Alright this photo thing is annoying.  Grrr.  Anyway, +Joey Lindsey had some items for sale on Google+ and I snagged a couple of oldies.  Good price and they filled a couple holes I had in my collection.

Okay, off to the bookstore.  I need to get some writing done.  I have the next micro-adventure written, but need to do a map.  And I need to get cracking on issue 7 of the Manor. 

Why I Didn't Participate in Free RPG Day

I've been a huge fan of Free RPG Day since 2009.  I thought it was a great idea, and it was one of the things that drew me back into playing d20 games.  I looked forward to every year.  Last year I think I finally had had enough.

In previous years I'd done well with getting freebies and scoring some loot on top of it.  But, it seemed every year I had problems with the shop owners.  For me there is no F in FLGS.  There are two in my area that generally participate.  Neither is a favorite of mine.  The primary store I go to, the staff are all super friendly except the guy who is in charge of the gaming section.  For some reason he must live by the philosophy that if he is arrogant enough people will believe all the crap that spews out of his mouth.  I just don't like the dude.  In previous years I was willing to chance him being there (ironically he was rarely there on Free RPG Day), but not this year.

The second store I rarely visit because the owner latches onto me and he feels the need to show me every bit of stock he has in store, hoping I'll buy half of it.  Last year I dropped nearly $100 in his till on Free RPG Day.  I scored a lot of good stuff, but he got mad at me when I declined to run a game.  "You got all that free stuff, the least you could do is run a game."  Yeah, I did get free stuff, but I'd also purchased a few pricey items I could have gotten a fuck load cheaper on-line.  I had plans with the wife to go out of town and enjoy the day.  Sitting in a room with him for 4 hours was not in any of my plans in any of the multi-universes I may exist. 

So this year I read about Free RPG Day and thought about going.  Looked at the page, targeted a few pieces I'd like to score, but the day came and went and I didn't go.  Here's the reason I didn't go.  All of the above that I've written and the fact I think I only visited each store once during the past year.  I didn't want to have to deal with either of them.  Wasn't worth it.

I'm sorry I missed out on it.  Really I am, cause I do enjoy the day.  Next year I'm going to have to just take a road trip to a gaming store I've never been to before.  Grab some free stuff and see what kind of gaming books they have on the shelves.  That's not too bad of a thing.

Plus, a lot of independent publishers are jumping on the bandwagon and produced free items for the day also.  I got quite a bit from what was offered on-line.

I'm going to throw this out there, particularly in +Erik Tenkar direction because he's a sucker to do this kind of thing.  Have an OSR Day.  Have folks offer up samples of their wares just like Free RPG Day, but it focuses on our neck of the woods.  I don't know if it's a good idea or me finding another reason not to go mow the lawn.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Another Micro Adventure Completed

Here's the 3rd adventure in my line of micro adventure.  You can go over to my Gothridge Patreon page and download the PDF.  Those who are patrons of mine will receive a 4" x 6" laminated version of the adventure.

Membership has its privileges. 

The Trailer for the Next Micro-Adventure...

The Pig and the Ogre
I know, it sounds like a love story, but there is nothing like that in here.  It's a gripping drama where a giant humanoid struggles against his environment while facing his biggest challenge, a giant and elusive incarnation of everything he loves best in this world.  Bacon.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Question: Reoccuring NPCs

I was reading through my some of my new gaming acquisitions, I've gotten another batch since Origins.  When I read through books I'm usually imagining how I can use this or that in my campaign world.  This morning I was thinking of NPCs I would use in certain places.  And it got me to thinking of reoccurring NPCs in my campaign.  I have a handful of them.  While their setting my change their personality and name remain the same.

Personality: This little angry guy always pops up in my campaigns.  He's an elderly man with bird like features.  He's a fundamentalist in one of the religions and has no tolerance for those who fail to meet his standards.  Especially those among his own faith.  He calls for extreme measures to be taken.

Setting: I've put him in a temple in the large cities, but I've also put him in small villages were he is the sole provider of religious guidance.

How I Play Him: Opulus is a wonderful foil to the party.  He is a non-combatant, but he is verbally aggressive and he gets people riled up.  His misguides his flock into indulgence when he is preaching about purifying by fire.  His motives are self-serving.  But his anger and conviction with which he speaks convinces others he is acting for the greater good.  The party often finds them on the opposite sides of his rants.

Personality: Max is a large man who is always a bartender.   He is laid back, doesn't get too riled up except if the bar is threatened.  A good brawl, he's okay with.  Draw weapons or if any fire start jumping around he'll pin you to the wall with his knight killer crossbow he always has under the bar.  Keep him on your good side, tip him well and you may find bits of information to your ear.

Setting: Always a tavern.  Max is always behind some bar in one of my campaigns.  He's my go to bartender.  The tavern is usually an adventurer's tavern with lots of eclectic folks milling about.

How I Play Him: Max doesn't talk too much to those folks he doesn't know.  He's polite, but doesn't engage.  After a few sessions with the players have hung out there, shared a story or two and have tipped him and his staff (he is very protective of his staff) well, he'll share information about what he's heard and he has an extensive adventuring background.  He is a great resource when the players need an important piece of information. 

Vander Gothridge

Personality:  Vander is arrogant and powerful.  He is usually outside the authority to nobility.  He is an entity they often fear to anger.  So he does as he pleases to who he pleases and very little can be done.  But he never does anything extreme or horrible.  He believes himself to be above everyone and they are nothing, but ignorant children.

Setting: Vander can be found nearly anywhere.  I often plop him in the main city of the campaign.  But he's been out adventuring also.  He usually travels alone.  Or he'll have a retinue of slaves.

How I Play Him: If you hadn't guessed this blog was named after this character from many years ago.  I don't play him all powerful, but he is a major force to be considered in my campaign.  Arrogant would be the first word I would describe him as.  But as the players might learn to hate him he is also known to save a village from a small horde of undead.  Not so much because he was saving the villagers, but because he hates undead.  Most leave him alone because some of his acts to benefit them greatly.  In one campaign he was a border lord with one castle in a mountain pass.  He and his men held back the tide of the great orc nation beyond the mountains.  And even though he was a giant pain in the ass, no one touched him.

So this is a short list of my go-to NPCs for my campaigns.  So Friday Question back at you, Do you have any go to NPCs that you've used in multiple campaigns?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Origins: D&D Next Session

The final activity of Origins was our D&D Next session.  When I glanced at the games D&D Next was offering it was interesting to see all the old time adventures they were using to demonstrate the ruleset.  Tomb of Horrors, Keep on the Borderlands and some 3.5 stuff from the Forgotten Realms.  It seems WotC is making a concentrated effort to get back some of the fan base it lost.

One thing I should note is we were not playing the final version of D&D Next.  We were playing the final playtest rules.  The referee made it clear that some of the things have changed.  So this is really just a playtest of the final ruleset.  But I was going in to see or feel which direction they were going in.  While they were using old adventures, that didn't mean they were going old school again.

I could go through the playtest, but Rob already did a good job of covering the details here.  What I can add is it felt like playing a combination of AD&D through 3.5.  Bits of this edition here and bits of another here.  Also the adoption of ascending AC was a good choice in my opinion.  The skill resolutions were easy.  They used a simple scale of 10, 15, 20 and 25 to determine the difficulty of a task.  A side note, I was listening to a podcast where the players were playing 3.5 and through the podcast they would ask for a skill roll.  Often the players would roll in the 30s and be disappointed!  To me, the system is broken and out of balance at that point.  If D&D Next sticks to what it did in the final playtest rules than I think that flaw could be fixed.

The referee was competent , but like Rob said, relied way too much on reading the script from the adventure verbatim.  Maybe he had to do that because it was a playtest setting for the adventure.  The adventure itself was bland, but I think had some interesting nuances for longer play.  This adventure had several optional quests the players could have explored.  For some reason it reminded me a lot of the Pathfinder Adventure Paths.  

I've already ordered the Starter Set on Amazon.  I think it is $13.  I'd like to see what the final version is going to look like.  From what I've seen and experienced it'll be a system I can work with.  Probably won't be my main system, but it'll find space on my shelf. 

So WotC is trying to attract some of the old school/Pathfinder folks back into the fold.  Let's see how they treat 3rd party publishers this time around.  I hope they can figure out they can attract more folks with and open hand than a clenched fist.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Origins Report

Origins was a mixed bag this year.  The bad part was all on me though.  I had a very long week at work and I get maxed out on people.  Shocking I know.  Then on Saturday I threw myself into the con without any 'recovery' time.  Little things were pissing me off.
  • Standing at the Chessex booth and having a kid step in front of me as I'm looking.  I move down.  He did it again, only this time he's standing on my foot and not moving.  After asking him to move twice, I moved him.  Not really a huge deal, but I was already in a bad mood.  
  • Then a girl with some sort of weird wings kept turning and poking me with the end of her wings.  Those little fuckers were sharp.  Most of this I wouldn't bother thinking about it, but...
  • Coughing on me.  This pisses me off even in my best moods.  Someone is looking at you or near enough that when they cough they spray you.  Grrr.  Cover your fucking mouth man.  
  •   And the last thing, and this was something I was trying to avoid, staying late.  We were trying to get into a 4 o'clock game for D&D Next.  All filled up.  The only slot open was at 8pm, so that means we would get out at12am and would get home until 4am.  We left for the con at 5am.  I had a bad feeling that my companions would be the ones sleeping while I drove home.  Pretty much happened and I didn't get home until 5am.  
But there was some very good stuff that went on.  Origins exhibitor hall was fantastic as usual.  The only disappointment was the Troll and Toad booth.  They brought zero gaming stuff.  All Magic the Gathering cards and some other card game stuff.  No interest.  I wanted to dig through their bins and buy some old modules I am wanting to finish my collections.  There were a lot of interesting demos going on.  Although, the guys at the Steve Jackson games booth must drink energy drinks by the case.  Those dudes are loud and talk very fast.  I asked the one guy to go away.  I was trying to look at books and he kept talking about something.  Sorta like he had a conversation going with someone else then continued it on with me except I had no idea what the hell he was talking about.  And he's one of those dudes who coughed on me.  Grrr.

I did get to play in a D&D Next session.  I'll write a separate post about it.  This post is apparently about me being pissy and the shit I bought.  A lot of cool shit.  With a flourish of my hand, I present to you my Origins '14 loot.

I spent a good amount of time in the author area.  I picked up this Halfling cookbook for Ivy.  hey had a Dwarven one also.  They explained they were actually recipes from medieval times.  The Halfling book was English recipes and the Dwarven book was German recipes.  Thought it would be fun for her.  Then, of course, I got her a cool little Wonder Woman drawing.  I was surprised they didn't have more WW stuff.  Then for me, I got a d30, I needed to get a new one because with +Richard LeBlanc putting out all that golden d30 tables I nearly wore out my other one.  And a new set of dice.  Smoke.  Just because they were dice and I wanted a set.

Another thing I got Ivy (and myself) is the Martial Bliss game.  It's looks like a very cool game.  It's got two types of decks.  One is the Task deck.  The married folk draw five or some number of cards.  The other person is not supposed to see them.  Each card has a task to complete, usually some mushy task that sucks up to the other person, and all tasks are assigned a point value.  At the end of the week you tally up the points of completed tasks.  Whoever has the most gets to draw from the Reward deck.  And that could be something movie night and you get to chose the movie.  Some of you may be disappointed because its not a sex deck, but I got card stock and a sharpie.  I can make my own 'task' cards.

The other two books I bought were just to get some new fiction into my head.  Greg Wilson was cool to talk to.  He's a gamer and runs a game on d20.  He was sucking up to me pretty good because he saw my Steeler hat and made football talk.  Yeah, I'm easy.  But he was interesting to talk to, even had his doctorate dissertation for sale.  I should have bought that to.

+Pelgrane Press Ltd was the big winner this year during my shopping spree.  These are two games I've been wondering about for a while.  I got a decent deal on them.  I bought four books and got one of them free.  And the lady told me why the Hillfolk book was a weird size.  But I can't say.

Here are the other two book I bought.  And while I've been wanting to get The 13th Age and Hillfolk for a while, Esoterrorists and Trail of Cthulhu interest me more.  Both use the GUMSHOE system.  I was introduced to the system when +trey causey was running his Weird Adventures wold.  I liked how it worked.  This is a 2nd edition of that and just reading over the rules has my mind going a 100mph thinking of adventure ideas.  I might try an adventure or two with them.

I hit the Harn booth.  Got the map they gave away on Free RPGDay.  That map is fricking gorgeous.  It really is a piece of art.  Then I got two adventures...both featuring trolls...hehe...Harn folks will get that one.  I got them for a very good price.  +Rob Conley had a very interesting conversation with Grant Dalgliesh.  Then went over to Game Science Dice and picked up some old time Hex Sheets.

Tomorrow I'll post my thoughts on the D&D Next session.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I Got Interviewed by a Talking Otyugh

After insisting on the Otyugh take a box of Tic Tacs I did an interview...the first interview for Otyugh Talk.  This is a new blog created by +Matt Borselli.  He the dude who also the creator of Asshat Paladins blog.  He created the blog to interview some of the folks that publish, artify, and produce stuff for gaming.  The format is simple.  He asks three random questions to each victim cherished guest.  I happened to the the first target person to be interviewed.  Very cool.  I like the idea of the quick interview and the random three questions.  It was fun. 

On a side note, my players now have to worry about running into a dire otyugh!

Best of luck Matt!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Micro-Adventure #2: The Skeleton Crew

I posted my second adventure on Paetron tonight, The Skeleton Crew.  It's a roadside adventure that players can happen upon or a short trek while waiting for a larger adventure to unfold.  I've sorta kinda connected the two adventures by giving the necromancer the name of Noctum.  But it's hardly necessary to connect them.

I need to give thanks to Telecanter.  He's the silhouette dude.  A lot of these silhouettes I'm using are from his collection.  I've been collecting them since he started and always wanted to do something with them.  I think they add a fun element visual element to the map.  You could probably run the adventure without the text and wing it from the map alone.

Next time I'll get into what inspired me to do these.  It goes back to the Time of the Mullets.

Off to Origins tomorrow.  I think I woo hooed in my mind a little.

Some Magic Items

Here are a few of the magic items I've created in my first two micro adventures.  The second is almost done.  I'm hoping to post it tonight sometime.  I've linked my Patreon page, but they will always be hear to snag.  I thought I'd give an example of some of my down home magic items.  None of them are too powerful (there are from low level adventures), but I think have a interest slant to them. 

Necklace of Noctum (From MA #1)
Allows the wearer to control 3HD of undead.

Bovolo's Harness (From MA #2)
This is a vesture made from preserved flesh.  I add +2 to AC and saves.  It also grants the wearer to go unnoticed among mindless undead such as, but not limited to skeletons and zombies.  This who have downloaded my Mini Manor: Faces Without Screams will recognize Bovolo is the name of the boss creature in that adventure.

Grave Dagger (From MA #2)
A Grave Dagger is considered to be magical in combat, but it provides no bonuses for to hit or damage.  It is a ceremonial dagger that when used in animating skeletons or zombies, these will be the strongest of their kind.  Meaning, they get their maximum hit points.

Enjoy folks.  It's Friday.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Origins Right Around the Corner

I'm getting excited about Origins now.  I'm not one to get too excited about anything.  But I'm looking forward to hanging out with a few of our gaming group and going on a road trip.  Talking about gaming and whatever weird thing that comes to mind. 

I'm planning on hitting the vendor room hard.  Probably spend a good chunk of time in there, but I also want to find a game or two.  Maybe meet a few folks.  If you're going or at Origins, I'll be the dude wearing a Gothridge Manor shirt (subtle huh?).  That is if I can fit in it.  Ivy has been cooking a lot of good stuff lately.  She always does.

I see some pictures of people sitting around the table playing 5th edition D&D and they are all staring at tablets....I guess they are trying out whatever Morning Star is.  If I'm sitting around a table I want to talk with folks and get my face out from behind a screen.  But I'm sure they were just doing a demo to show what it could do.  Still, I want dice, paper, pencils and a group of people having a blast.

Rob sent me the Origins booklet and I'll take a look at it later.

I may run a short pick-up game there.  If I plan to I'll post it here tomorrow.  So if anyone is interested they can stop on by.  Hope to see some of you folks there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

First Micro Adventure is Up

I posted my first micro adventure, Norman's Gone Missing, on Patreon.  I think I did it correctly.  I made it available in PNG and PDF format.  It's an example of what I plan to do for the micro adventures.  I keep them as simple and interesting as I can and leave out all the other stuff.  These adventures will always be posted here and on my Patreon page free for everyone.  While I am trying to make a little extra money for my zine, I just like making these things.  Enjoy, and go find Norman.

A Manor, Micro Adventure Assist

I've been kicking around an idea for a while, to get involved with Patreon.  I love the idea of it.  Sometimes the concept confuses me, but it works.  I'm backing four folks right now who contribute a great deal to gaming and plan to do so for a long time.  They've inspired me to give it go.  So here's my plan.

First off, what I am planning to do for Patreon is a series of Micro Adventures.  Simple adventures you can drop into your game at a moment's notice.  Small enough to make a trek through the forest a little more eventful or maybe the GM needs to break up the monotony of a sea born adventure with a well-placed shipwreck encounter.  These are adventures you can use while the players are on large quests or in between saving the world.  But these little encounters could definitely be used as seeds or clues to bigger things.

Each Micro Adventure will be accompanied by one of my hand-drawn maps.  I post them on here all the time.  I scan them in and then use the computer to place the words and numbered areas. 

The reason I'm doing this...The Manor.  I've been getting a good bit of interest from people wanting to submit to The Manor and I want to be able to pay them for their efforts.  And I'd like to do some colored issues in the future.  And while there are a bunch of great gamers out there willing to do it for free, I like to pay them for the efforts.

If you are interested in supporting my idea, please head on over to my Gothridge Patreon page and donate whatever you feel comfortable with.  You can always put a limit on how much you want to donate a month and can pull out at any time.  I plan on producing 3 to 5 of Micro Adventures each month.

All the Micro-Adventures will be offered here for free.  So if you don't have the cash or just not interested in the whole Patreon thing, I understand. 

Thanks for give this a look.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Getting Ready for Origins

Last night we cemented the deal to head over to Columbus OH this Saturday.  At first they wanted to leave at 4am...holy crap...I got them to hold out until 5am.  It's about a 3.5hr drive from where we are.  We aren't signed up for anything.  I didn't even know I was going until last Monday.  We are hoping to find a pick-up game or two.  Maybe we'll make a pick-up game or two.

I'm not sure what I'll be looking for this year.    I'll spend a lot of time at the vendors.  I've got small stash set aside for my inevitable dice purchases and looking for things I don't know I'm looking for.  Surprise items that just get jump up and get my interest.

And by coincidence I received an email about Con on the Cob (it's not until October).  I'm really looking forward to this one.  The Monday night crew discussed it and seems like we are all going.  We'll be straggling in at different times.   And since I know I'll be going to that one, I'm going to run a couple of games.  I've never did that before, so this is the year.

If anyone has any inside info about what's going on at Origins, please let me know.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Wounded Animal

We were at it again tonight.  Monday night.  Monteport mega dungeon by +Ken H.  We've been tromping through the endless halls for over 18 months.  Many moons ago we heard the name of our enemy.  A man, we are guessing he is a man, named Elias.  The leader of a large cult of men and women who grow people for eating and we believe they are at fault for the demons we've found.

Tonight, after traipsing up and down a confusing array of stairwells, and with a big assist from a skeletal, gnome ex-queen, we found the gnomes we were here to save and Elias.  He was accompanied by three armored gaunts, a novice, and a demon cockroach.  I managed to web the armor guants then Elias wasted no time and riddle Adzeer (my dude) with 7 magic missiles.  +Chris C. charged the demon cockroach, +Rob Conley took to the walls with his Spider Climbing ring to drop behind the Elias and hope for a backstab.

We managed to kill everything except Elias.  When our 25 naked dwarves ran into the frey and he was injured by two volleys of magic missiles, Elias fireballed the room murdering 18 naked dwarves.  Our nemesis escaped to the north and teleported away.

I gloss over the battle report because I am tired and a blow-by-blow description isn't interesting.  But the game was.  Ken did an excellent job of building the tense atmosphere when we encountered Elias.  He was tough and fun to fight.  Monteport continues to prove to be an amazing place to explore.  And while Elias got away, he's very nervous now.  He knows we're coming after him and have the ability to take him out, but now he's wounded, like an animal.

And that isn't good.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

My Dark Lord Starter Kit Arrived

I was eating lunch the other day and this guy decided to hang out.  Apparently my Dark Lord Starter Kit arrived.  You get a random animal familiar, mine was a black bird.  And in following weeks I will receive a reusable curse, a black cloak and a how-to evil laugh step-by-step instruction.  And I can cancel at any time.

Friday, June 6, 2014

New Gaming Cards Kickstarter

+Jim Pacek over at Carjacked Seraphim, has opened my eyes to a new card Kickstarter, Traps and Treasure Playing Cards.  Damn you Jim. 

So I suppose you should go check it out like I did.  Blame Jim.  They do look very cool.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Building a Micro-Adventure

I define a micro-adventure as a 1 to 4 encounter/room exploration.  With some systems, that can fill two, three-hour sessions, but I'm focused on the OSR's constellation of gaming systems.  This is based on my several years of being the initiative keeper for our group and combat usually lasts around 4 rounds.  If it's not over in the 4th round, it's pretty well determined who's going to be taking the dirt nap. 

I have a handful of adventures floating around, but the one that seems to get the most play, from what I read is The Salt Pit from The Manor #1.  It covers a little over 4 half-pages and that includes my masterly drawn map of a hole in the ground.  There are 9 detailed areas.  And 1 monster.  Done. 

The simplicity and the brevity of descriptions are the selling points of a micro-adventure.  A GM can  read through it in a couple minutes and run it.  And most OSRians are masters of last minute alterations. 

Present a situation.  It shouldn't take more than two sentences.  Three, if your feeling verbose.  Paco and his family work a small salt mine, but recently some creature has moved in.  They need your help to get rid of the creature so they can get their quota for the local lord.  Paco and his family could lose everything.

Simple and to the point.  It might not motivate everyone, but it's presented in very simplistic terms with logical consequences.  The party can chose to run with it or hit the tavern.

When describing encounter areas within a micro-adventure, keep it brief, but personal.  You could write that the mine is covered with wooden planks.  But it doesn't push the adventure along.  Paco built a cover to the mine to keep his children safe.  The trapdoor he installed as an entrance has been ripped off its hinges.  

Each encounter area doesn't need to be a result of the creature, it could be nuances of how a salt mine works.  Don't be technical, just add an interesting detail.  These small details can make a big difference from a micro-adventure being interesting or sucking. 

The final encounter with the creature, the focus of the adventure, should have been developed through the other encounter areas.  A 'build' to the final battle. 

Final encounter...make sure to use the creature's abilities to the fullest.  Make it as dangerous as it is built to be.  If there is no sense of danger than the adventure will fail.  There's little a GM can do if the party starts slinging out criticals and/or doing max damage.  But, until that happens make them nervous.  With the final battle in the Salt Pit, the creature uses its chameleon power to possible gain surprise and it's odor to weaken the party before it attacks. 

This is what has worked for me in the past.  My adventure Where is Margesh Bloackblood? is another example of how I develop a micro-adventure.  That one has a slight twist to it where the GM rolls randomly where Margesh can be found.

One last note.  The map(s).  With micro-adventures I usually keep them bare bones with boxes with numbers in them.  Symbols for doors (possibly windows).  I want to be able to look at the map and memorize it in a glance.  But some folks with an artistic flare can develop a micro-adventure with just the map.  Look at many of the one entered in the one-page dungeon contest.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Some Zines Get Some Love'n

+Peter Schweighofer, who writes the Hobby Games Reece blog did a post today titled, Print Fanzines in the Electronic Age.  It's a very good post.  It features three OSR zines.  One of which is mine and the other two are +john yorio's Six Iron Spikes & a Small Hammer and +Nathan Irving's recent release Secrets (which he has just announced he is releasing the 2nd issue, Strange Races, and that you can pre-order it today).

Please go give it a read.  Thanks Peter, for the kind words and the awesome post.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Looks Like I'm Going to Origins

Tonight I got invited to go to Origins by +Rob Conley and +Daniel McEntee tonight.  Hadn't thought about it this year at all.  Forgotten it was only a couple a week away.  After a short amount of thought I thought why not.  Last time I was there I got to game with Ken St. Andre and bought my first set of Game Science dice from Lou himself.  I had a great time.

It was a nice surprise.  I'm looking forward to it....something tells me I'm gonna need a bigger dice bag.

A New Style of Mountain and Hill

A new style for me anyway.  Tons of folks have been drawing them this way for years.  In my latest map I thought I would give it a go.  In an attempt to make it a little more stylistic than a pair of pointy tips or a pair of rounded mounds....hmm, nevermind. 

I was trying to figure out a way to do the forests different, a little perspective, but couldn't find a look I liked or that I could do well. 

Overall I like the new mountains and hills.  With the hills I can depict whether they are low rolling hills and steep hills. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Let's Talk Money

I know, it's almost sacrilege to speak about that abomination called money in this field, but I'm gonna.  I know there are lot of people who are already into making their own stuff or thinking about it.  Here's what it looks like in my corner of the self-publishing world.  I've calculated the gross, the cost and net of the past month.  This gave me, I had a bit of an idea, but not really sure until I ran the numbers, of how much I made and how much was going out.  These numbers are about as accurate as I could get them.  When I send out comp copies and freebies it's difficult to track their costs.
I broke down the sales in the different categories so I could see where the money was coming in.  The bundles represent the biggest money maker, but if you look at the per issue, single issues sold for $4.03 on average.  Where the bundles included 6 issues, averaged $3.52 per item sold.  Still, $685.50 for the month is great.  But now let's look at the costs.
Some of the costs were estimated the best I could.  Such as the ink and cardstock.  I burned through 2 ink cartridges this month and into my 3rd, but since I do personal printing on the same machine I just averaged it as best I could.  And the reason the paper was $0 was because I am very good at taking advantage of Staples rebates and all the regular paper I have has cost me nothing.  All the different fees from Paypal, Lulu and RPGNow are accurate.  Paypal has a fee system I don't quite understand.  If someone sent in me in $4 for the latest Manor, I get charged  a .42 cent fee.  If someone sends in $20 for the Manor bundle Paypal charges an .88 fee.  RPGNow is a straight 35% off the top of what you charge.  Lulu, about the same.
 So after a month of sales I was able to make $333.48 to the good.  I figured out what the average gross sale price was for each unit sold, average cost of each unit and how much profit I made on each unit.  These numbers are all based off of selling 208 units this month.

These numbers can be off putting.  This doesn't include all the time I put into printing and mailing these issues.  Which is a considerable amount.  The other thing is most of my products are below the $5 mark so there isn't a lot of room for profit.  But, I do this because I enjoy it.  The profit I make allows me to buy other OSR books and populate my shelves with a few other goodies.

There are a number of folks who get pissy about people making a little money off RPGs...ignore them.  People can figure out what they want to spend their money on without the help of those few griefers.  People can vote with their money if they are interested in what you're doing.  If your interested in publishing your own thing than I say give it a go.  It's a lot of work, but good fun.  I've met a lot of great folks because of doing this and have gotten a ton of support I never expected to get.

GM Games May Sales Report

GM Games had a fantastic month of May.  Actually it was the best sales month I've ever had.  My previous record of units sold during one month was 118 set November '13.  You guys smashed the shit out of that total with 208 total sales this month.  A owe a big thanks to +Jeremy Smith for suggestion I redo my bundle print package for all six issues.  I received sixteen bundle orders, that alone accounts for 96 sales.  Thanks to everyone who ordered.  It made the month a lot of fun.

Upcoming Projects

Starter Adventures will be hitting the virtual bookshelves this month.  I have my help lined up and the tweaks are finished.  So the sooner the better. 

Manor 7 already has a few entries lined up.  Looks like this is going to be an advertisement issue so far.  And they have interesting things to sell you.

Interesting Numbers
  • Manor 6 has already sold 91 copies.  Only Manor 1 has sold more at 93, but that was over two months.  So issue 6 has a great chance has a good chance of becoming the fastest selling issue.
  • Mentioned above, GM Games has sold over two hundred units in a single months.  208 to be exact.  That is 90 better than the next closest month.
  • GM Games eclipsed 1500 total sales marker hitting 1517 this month.  And there have been 1671 free downloads of various products. 
Now onto May's numbers.

Again, thanks for a fricking awesome month.