Monday, December 3, 2018

Inspiration and Development of a Campaign

Ray Otus asked about my campaign. What my inspirations were/are. So I decided to do a podcast.

Most of you know I'm a huge fan of the Thieves World books. No doubt those had the biggest influence on the way I game. Then add in some magical realism and the values of Harn. There's more, but you'll have to give it a listen.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Publisher Series: The RPGNow Vanishing

I continue my Publisher Series. I have a batch of great call-ins and then get down to business with the complete merger of RPGNow into Drive-Thru RPG. My take on how this affects OSR publishers. The good and the bad. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Creating a Catacomb Hoard

In a recent session the party came upon an ancient burial. Each of the eighty bodies had a weapon, wore armor, shield and each one had a coffer under their head. For sadistic reasons I decided I'd roll each of the corpses separately to determine and exact loot. I should add I am using the B/X Essentials ruleset.

One of the things I needed to determine was the condition of each piece of equipment. I had recently bought Table Fables by Madeline Hale, she had a straight 1d6 table to determine condition. But since these items were hundreds of years old, I wanted the results to skew towards broken or damaged. Here's what I came up with.

2d6     Condition
  2       New
3-4     Used
5-6     Poor (-1)
7-8     Damaged (-2)
9-12   Broken

The condition changes the protection of the armor and damage of the weapons. In my game the poor quality items can be repaired for 10% of the original cost, and damaged items can be repaired for 20% of the original cost. Broken items could be sold for scrap. (i.e. A poor quality suit of chain mail protects at +3AC, not +4, but could be repaired for

Then I created tables for armor type and weapons. For the shield, I created a table to determine the material. 

2d6     Armor
  2       Padded Cloth (+1 AC)
3-6      Leather (+2 AC)
7-8      Studded Leather (+3 AC)
9-10    Chain Mail (+4 AC)
 11      Scale Male (+5 AC)
 12      Plate Mail (+6 AC)

2d6     Weapons
 2-3     Two-handed sword
 4-5     Battle Axe
 6-8     Long Sword
 9-10   Spear
11-12  Bow

2d6     Shield Material
 2-3     Bronze
 4-6     Iron
7-11    Wood
  12     Steel

This system worked well. I considered any 'new' condition result as that item was magical or made of hard silver, a material in my campaign. Hard silver takes on enchantments.

Then to decide what was in the coffers I used treasure type C from the 1st edition Monster Manual. I use a silver standard, if electrum was rolled I replaced it with hard silver pieces. The Northmen used this as a special currency. For game terms, 1hsp equals 5sp. If enough hard silver is collected they can be made into a weapon, armor, or whatever item the players want. I also changed the amounts of coins from the 1000s to 10s.

Copper: 20% chance to find, 1d12.
Silver: 30% chance to find, 1d6.
Electrum (turned into hard silver): 10% chance to find, 1d4.
Gems: 25% chance to find, 1d6.
Jewelry: 20% chance to find, 1d3.
Maps of Magic Items: 10% chance to find, any 2.

With the jewelry and gems, I used the condition table to determine the value. If broken, the metal was scrap or the broken gems could be used as a spell component. On a damaged result the value was in 10s, poor in the 100s, used in  the 1000s, and the result was new, I considered the gem or jewelry magical.

If corpse came up empty, I created mundane items. Some worth something, most were token items. A poor Northmen gets a pint of ale and drinking horn at the minimum. For the mundane items opened different books picked out an item here and there then added them to mix.

It took a lot of time to create this list, but it worked well. The players will need the resources for the next leg of the campaign. They are 2nd and 3rd level characters attempting to establish their  a temple, a mage tower, and a trading post in a very hostile region.

The links are affiliate links. I like both products a lot. If you do go for B/X Essentials I suggest the print option, then you get the PDFs for free. Well worth it.

And if you like Table Fables, there is a second book, conveniently named Table Fables II, that focuses on World Building. Also worth grabbing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Anatomy of Adventure Writing, Part 2: Room Description

I did a second part to my series, Anatomy of Adventure Writing where I break down an adventure into parts. This one focuses on room description. I come at this from my perspective and how I prefer and how I think good adventures are written. And if you missed part one, Introductions and GM Notes, here is the link.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Game Report: Cleansing of the Temple

This post has nothing to do with MeWe. You are welcome. 

Cast of Characters
Finikas Snotrags: The youngest son of a well-to-do merchant halfling family.

Brimstone: Street mage from Scorn. 

Johann Swartz: An honored hunter dedicated to the Theophant.

The Catch-Up
A few sessions back the group received a land grant. It was located at a Northman temple ruins. There the honored hunter could build a temple to the Theophant, which is normally forbidden. The halfling could establish a trade post and expand his family's influence father north. And the mage could construct a tower and start his own group of mages. But the Komor Forest will not give in easily. 

A halfling, porter, and a sleeping torchbearer wait in a bar
Brimstone decided to check the tavern and hire another fighter. When he went down the stairs there was only a well-equipped halfling, a large man sitting at the table with him, and a lanky man sleeping against the wall with a satchel of torches around his neck. 

The halfling, Bost Waddle, was one of those notorious halflings that liked to wander too much. A wandering waddle if you will. Between Brimstone and Finikas, they struck a deal with him. While not interested with adventure with them, he was interested in building a home on their land. And to help convince them, gave them a 100sp on the spot. 

Brimstone hired Quim (yes I know what the urban dictionary says it is, or anyone else who has watch Rob Roy, but damn it I rolled on a random table and that was the name I rolled. Plus, I thought it was funny). Quim convinced Brimstone he was good, a 3rd generation torchbearer. I'm using the torchbearer class from The Manor #8. He has a lot of specialty torches. 

Hamlet of Hounds Head
Wal-Mart has Move Into the Neighborhood
The players started in Hounds Head. They planned to head north to claim their territory and check out their land. Before leaving they decided to go to the general store and grab rations. There were none. In fact, most of the store had been bought out. The shop owner said the Adventures Guild came in and bought everything.

He could pre-order rations for them. He expected another bunch arriving next week. They bought a few weeks worth. And of course some oil flasks were on the order sheet. he shop owner discussed deal with the group. The Adventures Guild has on more than one occasion put smaller businesses out. The group agreed to work with the shop owner.

The Adventurer's Guild
To the south of Hounds Head is a massive construction site. The land was being stripped, leveled, and construction supplies everywhere. A man directed the workers. He used various slurs and created unflattering nicknames to everyone he spoke to. Then the party tried to speak with him. That did not go so. He offered to hire them, once it was known they were just 'lookie lous' he dismissed them and pushed Finikas away by his face.

The party also noticed all the gear that was in the store was now worn by the folk working here. Some of those they knew, before were dressed in make-shift armor and weapons, now wore more suitable attire for combat. The beast was growing.

Into the Forest
They set off to find their site deciding that the development of their own land would be the best defense. Along the way the passed a marsh that buzzed with stirges. They avoided it.

Then they came upon the temple ruins.

Elk Temple Map from Kingmaker Part 1
There the party discovered a gigantic bear guard what remained of the temple. During the battle the bear tore apart one of the henchmen before being downed by a rain of bolts and cuts. When the bear died it slowly transformed into a man. A northman. He wore a necklace known to be sacred. They buried him on site.

They noticed the pool cleared and after some experimentation, fed the fallen henchmen the water. He awoke with a start. His eyes wide, unsure what happened. He kept complaining of feeling different.

They continued to explore the ruins and to the west they found a series of catacombs. Half full. Estimate of 80 Northmen were laid out here. All with a weapon, armor, a shield with their name etched upon it, and a small box beneath their head.

Johann announced the area is ready to be sanctified, the creatures of evil would assault the temple to keep this from happening. This will take 24 hours and the ceremony must not be disrupted.

End of Session.

Things for Next Session

  • The next session will be the ceremony and the defense of the temple and Johann. For this I will devise a random table of attacks, mixed with a few set encounters.
  • Generate the weapons, armor, and what is within the boxes for 80 soldiers.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

What Are Words Worth?

I started a publisher podcast series on my Anchor channel. I released the first episode, "What Are Words Worth?"

These episodes are targeted at individuals like myself who are small-time publishers not back by the companies. I want to share my experience with the process and I am hoping others join in the conversation to share their experiences.

There are a lot of ways to go about publishing your own products, but I thought it would be interesting, and helpful, to those thinking about starting or who have just dipped their toe into the publishing pool.

If you are interested just click the link, "What Are Words Worth?" and you'll be magically transported there.

Friday, August 31, 2018

My Experience with PWYW

I was off from my job today and had sometime to get a few things done and sit down and do a podcast at my desk. Instead of my usual place, in my car, driving to lunch or home.

I share my experience with the Pay What You Want option at RPGNow. The pros and cons. It's been a while since I put anything up there, I have a few things in the hopper to get on there soon.

If you have a chance, give the podcast a listen. I do scary voices in the beginning and end. And I guess you can do reviews of it over at Apple Store, I have none! And it's not the Apple Store my wife reminded me, it's iTunes. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Thurber Village

I reworked Thurber Village for my Patreon. I added a few things and cleaned up the text. I do like how it turned out. I've been fiddling with layout options and what information I provide. The goal is to make it as easy to run as possible.

With Thurber Village you'll get the map you see above. Random Encounters table. What I really love about this table is it provides life and movement to the village. It also helped me create the Recent Happenings section by rolling twice on the table and combining the two rolls. I found it to be very effective.

I provide general information, a little bit about the lord of the area and detail six key people within Thurber. But players are always going to different parts of the village talking to people not detailed so I added a list of names a GM can use to use to provide names and a space to write in their connection to the village.

I also added a Random Merchant table. The previously mentioned Random Happenings. And to spice up the surrounding area, some Local Folklore tidbits. The last thing included are brief description of the keyed building in the Village of Thurber.

His any of the links and you'll be transported to my Patreon. The PDF is free for anyone to download. But, if you'd like to get a physical copy, something cool in the mail, then consider the pledge levels on the right hand-side.

I hope you find Thurber Village useful and fun.


Monday, August 6, 2018

Bandit Tables: Get More Out of Your Bandit Encounters

The party travels through the winding game trail. Up ahead a loud whistle cracks through the air. Immediately, angry shouts from above, to the left, and to the right follow. Arrows strike party members. Bandits erupt from the underbrush and attacks. 

How many times have parties encountered and fought these low level ruffians? They are like an optional starter kit for 1st level adventures.

But you know what? I love bandits. 

They don't have to be generic, nameless, mud smeared criminals living in the trees. If you wish to make them a little more interesting I've come up with a few quick tables to flesh out your bandits. 

d6 Leadership Strength 
1 none: the group has no leadership, they are have a -2 to morale rolls. Their group will only have minimal members.
2 - 3 weak: broken into fractions, the current leader has a tenuous hold on the leadership. One or two bandits divide the group. A -1 to Morale rolls. 
4 - 5 moderate: the bandits obey the current leadership There is no morale adjustments. 
6 - strong: a respected and/or feared leader. Bandits will not disobey orders and less likely to give up information. They are have a +1 to morale rolls. 

Now that we have the strength of leadership determined, we can move onto what type of leadership. It doesn't have to be a bigger version of themselves. There are numerous reasons why a bandit group exists. 

d10 Leadership Type (if no leadership then skip this table)
1 - 3 bigger/smarter bandit: a bandit has proven to be the biggest or the smartest, and has taken control. 
4 absent: the leader works through a proxy in the group. The absent leader makes an appearance when needed, but relies on his proxy's ability to lead. Leadership  Strength rolls are at -1.
5 co-leaders: a pair of powerful and respected individuals run the group. 
6 secret: a puppet master props up the leader of the bandits by providing information, supplies, and bribes. A secret leader is using the bandits to further an agenda.
7 religious: led by a leader who believes their purpose it to serve a god. It gives the bandits purpose and a justification for their actions. Religious leaders gain a +1 to Leadership Strength rolls.
8 monstrous: a creature has gained control of the bandits through threat or intelligence. The monster has to have some intelligence, a reason why it has taken control of the bandits.
9 military: conscripted under the leadership of an actual and self-styled military leader. Military leaders gain a +2 on Leadership Strength rolls.
10 family: this group of bandits is a family and thus run by one of the family. They gain +2 to leadership rolls. 

Each bandit group has a reason to exist. You could go with the outlaws joining together to make a living. But some groups have purposes beyond plying a trade. 

1d4 Purpose
1 survival: these bandits were thrown out, chased away, running from the law are out to survive. If given the chance, they may return to civilization to reestablish their lives. No need to roll on the Wealth table. 
2 money: they are looking to get paid. Money is power. Money is freedom. Money is what they want.
3 killers: these bandits enjoy the kill. Gold and jewels is secondary.
4 justified: bandits with a purpose, they feel justified in the actions no matter how horrible. 

With these three simple tables, a GM can create bandits that rise above the expected. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

First Adventure with Four Against Darkness

I've been looking at these books for months. A few weeks +Matt Jackson spoke about the game on his anchor podcast, MattRandom, and that was enough for me to click the button on them. However, Matt had already ordered a copy for me. Such a nice Matt. Everyone should have one.

Four Against Darkness, I always want to add the in there, but that would be wrong. So it is a solo adventure rule set. Not one on one. Just you and a fist full of dice. I think just 2d6s for the main ruleset and then it mentions using all the dice in later books. I did grab the first two adventure books, but haven't looked at them yet. I read this book over a couple of time to get the gist.

I'm not going into a ton of details. Just what I am playing and running through. Here is my initial setup paper. Highly recommended you grab a copy. The couple of play-though videos and Matt mentioned it was easier. I'm into easy...don't tell Ivy I said that.

Here's my initial set up. I went with a basic party makeup for my first go titled "Who Said This Was A Good Idea?". Warrior, cleric, wizard, and rogue. I kept their starting equipment without switching it out. That is my marching order also. It is a good idea to write them on this sheet the way they enter a room.

So I roll a 33 on my first room generation. A corridor that splits and has two doors at their ends. Rolled a 4 to determine the contents, empty because it is a corridor.

Roll 65 for the next generation, another corridor. This one snake up and to the left. I rolled a 5 on contents. Special Feature. I rolled a 3 to determine the special feature, armory. If I wanted to I could change my weapons the characters are using. I'll pass on that.

Third room generation is a 51, another corridor. Also empty. I think someone may have been in this part of the dungeon. We must go farther.

DOH! I for got to roll for the entrance, I just made my own. Ah well. I'll do it next time.

53, another corridor. Whoever designed this place was terrified of width. This section is also empty. Running out of room on the map. I could go right or left. Those who know me know that this is not a choice.

36, finally a room! A wonky room. Since I was on the edge of the graph paper I had to alter it to fit. Minions! Talking twinkies attack! Wait no. I need to find the minion table. 2d6 fungi folk. Lvl 3. Shit, and they have poison. Man! Now I can attack first or see how they might act, but if I do that and they are hostile thet get to attack. There are only 4. Fuck'm murder hobo time!

Just noticed I forgot to pick my wizard's spells. Time out.

Okay, got my spells. Sleep. Blessing. And because the wizard has absolutely no confidence in his companions, Escape.

My warrior, Sever, with his grim countenance and sharp blade attacks the fungi folk with a surprising savagery. His hidden hatred of all things mushroom is revealed. He rolled 2+1 (for his level) for a total of 3. Severing one of the fungi folk into equal sized slices awaiting onions.

Bronson the Boisterous bellows, bashing at the bloated body of a blasphemous fungi. Scoring a 2. Not enough to damage any of the fungi folk.

Delila, the lovely wizard with the dark eyes full of contempt pulls back her delicate hands and as they come forward a burst of sand fill the room and falls on the unaware fungi folk. A total roll of 3. Enough to take down a second one. Halving the enemies' number. And expending her only offensive spell.

Finally Cora, the moody rogue that never is seen without hood or dagger. She moves quietly, like a sigh in a storm. She slides behind the fungi folk and slides her dagger into its back. She keeps the blade flat to slide between its ribs. If it has ribs. A roll of 3 finds what would be considered the fungi's heart. The creature manages to let out a surprised glibby noise before it slumped to the cold, hard ground.

With the party finished and 3 out of 4 fungi folk slain the remain one must decide, to fight or to flee. With a roll of 2 the remain fungi flees. Sever lunges after it, but Bronson boasts, "Be still battle boy, for bounty has befallen before us." He points to the treasure left behind, 12gp fall from hidden pouches in the fungi folks' bodies.

With the first battle under their newbie belts, coming away unscathed they look to the door to the north and wonder what possibilities lie beyond. More treasure? Greater enemies?

42, another corridor. Rolled a 12, if this had been a room there would have been a dragon's lair! Now it stands empty and hollow and a mocking whistling wind blows through. Something knows we are here.

16, a room! I rolled a 10, weird monster table! Not sure what that means. I have to find that table. Rolled a 3, Chimera...level 5, 6 life points...3 attacks. Shit. And breathes fire. Everyone just pooped in their pants a little.
Absolutely Hideous!
No time to be sissies. If we are going to die, we will die fighting...or running. Attack!

Sever does not hesitate. He slashed down on one of the creatures heads He needs to roll higher than a 5. A roll of 4 bounces off the chimera's hide. Sever feels the blade turn in his hand, the pommel is coming loose again. What confidence that was gained from the fungi folk battle evaporated as he stares into the eyes of creature made from hate.

Bronson scores a 7. A natural 6 mean I get to roll again. I'm exploding! A 5 for a total of 12. His mace finds bone rocking the chimera to its side. That's two wounds to the chimera. I think I'm doing that right. That means that little bastard has 4 left.

With no useful spells, Delila stays behind the armored meat to stay protected. Afterall that's what warriors are for, to die so she may live.

Cora sees a chance, a slight chance to sever the snake head from the body. She jumps forward her blade slashing upwards hoping to catching the writhing head unawares. A total roll of five is enough to cause the snake head to spit blood and frantically slither away.

With the party done attacking, the chimera stand with half its life points, 3. The chimera breathes fire! Oh fuck fuck fuck fuck. All character must make a save or lose 1 life.

Sever: failed
Bronson: really failed
Delila: shit, failed
Cora: my god, she failed also

So apparently I suck at rolling even when I'm by myself!

Second round.

Sever regrips his sword, feels it steady in his hand and lunges forward, tip aimed for the chest. Hit with a 5! Another life point drains on the floor.

Bronson bows below the beast's belly to batter its bladder. Bang and bounce the mace's blow blunders and the chimera remains unharmed.

Delila steps out from behind her meat shield, he hair singed and the fury in her face is palatable. She swings her staff she ordered from a fancy boutique, she paid extra for the silver inlay seahorse design. Oh she did miss by the way.

Cora slide around the back of the chimera, but the snakehead follows her and hisses. She lashed out, score a 5 and drains another life leaving it staggered with 1 life point remaining.

Chimera has no plans of going anywhere. It breathes fire...again. Crap. Crap. Crap. Here come the saves!

Sever: made it? really. well shit the bed and call the turds ted.
Bronson: fail
Delila: nailed it! save
Cora: failed

Sever sees an opening, rushes forward and shouts a war cry he heard his father say over and over again not knowing his father for a few of the words wrong. With a natural 6, with an additional exploding roll of 3 plus 1 for his level, Sever cuts into the hide of the chimera, finds its heart and pushed his steel deep and it moves no more.

As the party settles, each of them looking like a chimney sweep.

The creature had a bowstaff coiled in its tail. Delila knew it to be magic. She marveled at its design and the warmth it gave off when she touched it. The bow was awarded to Cora. To stand in the rear ranks and support the front line with missile fire. While Cora acted like it was not a weapon she wanted to use, she accepted it, hiding the grin beneath the shadow of her hood. This would bring a lot of money.

So there I will end it. Took me a while to finish the game. I was BSing a lot on-line. There was a lot of back and forth in the book. Partly because I am not familiar to the rules, but also the organization of the rules is a little wonky. Combat rules seem to scattered in the book. But that shouldn't be an issue once I get more adventures under my belt.

Here's the final look at my sheet at the end of the night.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Kickstarter: Chose Your Own Sci-Fi Stock Art!

James Shields has a Kickstarter, Chose Your Own: Sci-Fi Stock Art, that I've never seen done before. A mix and match collection of stock art that can be layered upon one another to create unique pieces of art. That's brilliant.

If you play in sci-fi games you can grab a bunch of cool looking tokens for pennies. If you are publisher, this is a gold mine for commercial products. There are five packages; weapons, ships, portraits, people, and scenes. Each package has 50 pieces of stock art. And it's the most affordable stock art you'll ever buy. Keep reading. I have proof.

Pledge Levels...

$15 is for the tokens. You get to mix and match over 150 assets. So what's that, 10¢ a piece? Really up your game up with these tokens.

$25 gets you two of the stock art packages. Your choice. That's over a 100 pieces of stock art that you can use for your publications. That's 25¢ per piece. Try to find great stock art at that price anywhere.

Oh wait, it gets better. Much better.

$50 you'll get all five packages! Over 250 pieces of stock art.  You want to do that math? You don't have to, I did it. That's 20¢ per piece. Let that sink in. Only 20¢. No way you'll find a better deal than that...that is, unless you pledge at the next level.

$75 you get all the stock art Photoshop files, you can change the colors...Your 250+ pieces has now multiplied exponentially because now you can shade and color the stock art to taste. If you are a creator of sci-fi, for commercial or private use, this is the ultimate pledge level.

$150 level, you receive an original inked illustration from James himself. And you get all the rewards. I'm talking original, James signs it...and the best part, you get to submit the idea. Yeah, now that is cool.

But there is so much more...

Depending on your pledge level you'll receive complimentary copies of sci-fi games and accessory PDFs. I'm not going to name all the PDFs, you know why? Cause there are that many.

At the $15 pledge you receive 4 PDFs written by Peter C. Spawn. Oh don't go anywhere there is more. Also at this level you'll get 3 PDFs from Jacob DC Ross and a ship's blueprint done by Robert Conley. So let that sink in exactly how much you are getting for $15.

At the $25 pledge you get all that stuff above and 5 more PDFs from Jacob DC Ross and three more PDFs from Peter C. Spawn. Remember those numbers I gave you for the stock art at this level. Imagine that number plummeting because of all the free PDFs.

$ I even need to tell you. You should be hitting the pledge button. But in case you need a little more of a nudge, you get PDFs of James M, Spahn's White Star Galaxy Edition and Alan Bahr's For Coin & Blood.

One more thing...

Seriously, if that isn't enough to get you to pledge I don't know why the hell you read this far. Seriously, this is about as good as a Kickstarter gets. It is straight foward, James is a proven artist that has been apart of so many different products I can't name them all, go on RPGNow and search his name. The man is busy and delivers.

If anyone isn't convinced yet...okay shit, you are tough to convince, but this is it. My last attempt to get you to pledge. He's been offering pieces of his stock art, that is already offered on RPGNow, at PWYW so you can sample his art.

Chose Your Own: Sci-Fi Stock Art ---- Click the link.

I'm done.

Go pledge now.
Why are you still here. Go. Here's the link one more time. I'll make it big so you don't miss it.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Maps vs. Theater of the Mind

In the latest addition to the Gothridge Manor: An OSR Podcast, I speak about the pros and cons of using maps vs. theater of the mind from the perspective of a player and a GM.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Podcast: Starting Characters in a Campaign

I just released my latest episode, Starting Characters in a Campaign. I'm planning on starting a B/X Essentials campaign soon. I go over a few of the things I like to do to introduce players and their characters into my campaign world, disseminating information without (hopefully) overwhelming them, but enough information that characters can confidently act within the world.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Podcast: Weather in Game

Weather. How it can become an NPC in your game. How it can take on cultural aspects. And of course, how it can affect combat. Check out my Gothridge Manor podcast.