Thursday, April 29, 2010

Damaged Characters, A Question

This blog is counter intuitive to an old school train of thought, but I've been thinking about damaged characters and how it would affect them. How would a fighter with half his hit points still be able to function as if he were at full hit points? I'm not a fan of making things complicated, but I do like simple rules that reflect some realism. A damaged character is not reflected in any of the Old School various system rules. At least I couldn't find much.

The only rules I've found on the matter are characters that are at 0 hit points or below and varying levels of death; the almost dead, mostly dead and the dead, dead categories. Rufus the fighter is second level and has ten hit points get hit by an orc spear for 5 points of damage. Rufus's hit points are halved. Does he suffer no effects from the strike? Should he have a temporary penalty or one that lasts until he is healed?

I pose this is a question because I am interested in knowing if DMs would use this rule and if players would want it included. I am thinking of a simple version where a character suffers some sort of penalty at half hit points and then a second level of penalties if reduced below a quarter of their hit points. I have nothing developed just throwing it out there to see what sticks or to see if it gets thrown back at me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dungeon Room 6

The narrow hallway is lined with bones woven into the stonework. The bones move and twist. As the players move through the hallway bones will stab at them. A successfully attack does 1d6 damage. If a 6 is rolled, the bone will graph to the bone in the area struck (roll random location). The character will be unable to move or use the limb that is struck. Trying to remove the bone will damage the character 1d4 per attempt. The wound cannot be heal (hit point lost for the initial attack and further wounds suffered from trying to remove the bone). A remove curse spell will allow the bone to be removed and the wound can be healed at this time. Each player will be attack 2-12 times as they travel through the hallway. If a player is struck for a second time where the bone is graphed, the bones will drag the character to the wall and moving him down the hallway at the rate of 10'/round. At this time, the player will be in such excruciating pain any actions are nearly impossible. A saving throw must be made to allow the player to do the simplest things.

As the players reach the end of the hall they will be greeted by the horrific sight of humans, elves, dwarves, goblins, and several others, some so distorted they are unidentifiable writhing on the ceiling as the bones slip into and out of their bodies. The victims' screams are barely audible. All the bones are dragging the bodies slowly towards a shield sized, black hole in the east wall.

Hidden among the bones is the Bone Demon, Kossuth. It will watch the players waiting until all the players enter the room. It will then release a sickly yellowish fog that will fill the room. All characters must make a save or become paralyzed for 2-8 rounds. During this time 2d4 bones will each round. As in the hallway if two bones do maximum damage they will begin to drag the player towards the hole. Kossuth will not confront the players directly seeking sneak attacks, moving around to the back of the party or isolating one member as the bones continue their assault. It will take successful search roll to spot Kossuth moving among the bones. If the players reduce Kossuth to half hit points it will go through the hole and appear in room 35 later in the adventure.

The bones will continue their assault after Kossuth is gone. After twenty-five of the attacking bones have been destroyed, the bones will stop slithering and the bodies will drop from the walls and ceiling. Those that are still alive cannot be healed. Nothing short of a wish spell coupled with a remove curse and blessing will the person have any chance of survival. They will wail in agony after being release. They will not respond to anything the players say and if they suffer more damage they will die.

If a player decides to go through the portal they will need to make a save or go into shock, they will have just entered the Realm of Death. He will be unable to speak or take any actions. If the player is not removed from the realm of death 1d4 rounds the player will fall into a catatonic state. And should the player still not be removed in another 1d4 rounds the player will die. Should a player die in the Realm of Death any attempt to communicate or bring back the character will fail.

Should the player succeed his save, he can observe another portal nearby, but will be unable to move. A player that remains within the Realm of Death gains the attention of other bone demons.

The players can only destroy the portal once Kossuth is killed.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Treasure Hoard Generator

A quick math question: What do you get when you add a treasure generator and Chaotic Shiny Productions? Answer: Treasure Hoard Generator Pack, the best treasure generator available. This is not hyperbole, nor puffery. I've tried several online treasure generators, and all have their merits, but lacked the depth to keep me interested. Hannah "Swordgleam" Lipski has developed a treasure generator that any GM will be thrilled to have in their arsenal.

The Treasure Hoard Generator has eight treasure generators that can be combined or used individually. The first generator is the Treasure Parcel, this is the one that combines all the other generators. You can set what level of treasure you want it to generate up to 30th level and it also has a random level selection if you prefer. There are eight different categories of loot that you can choose to include or not. The categories include (I'll go into more depth in each one soon) jewelry, art, gems, food, potions, artifacts, components and other goods. Right off the bat I liked the selection of categories because of how rarely I've included art or food as treasure. After selecting the level and what type of loot you want included just push the Generate Treasure Parcel and wa-la, a pile of loot to distribute.

The next tab is the Treasure Hoard. This one is interesting. You can select anywhere from 5 to 50 hoards. The hoards consist of a paragraph of stuff and things. Here is an example that was just generated: Seven sheep skeletons, one blue steel dagger, one iron box, one large eagle feather, eleven very small platinum amulets, one large container of sea green paint, forty lock picks, one birch greatclub and nine tiny occult books.

I got about nine ideas just from my first reading. Seven sheep skeletons, I love it. Now all you old schoolers out there, can you see the benefit of this generator? Nothing is detailed, but invaluable suggestions for a GM to develop into their own personal coolness.

Parts of the Hoard
Charms, you can create from 5 to 50 at a time and also select from three categories; Loose, Jewelry and D&D loot. The description of these items lends the GM a handful of ideas should he choose to develop it further.

Gems, are described like no other generator. Included along with the physical description there is information on possible properties. This gem is associated with prosperity, optimism and divine love.

Art, there are several categories to choose from or you can select random. The categories include: Painting, Drawing, Tapestry, Sculpture/Statue, Sketch, Etching, Carving/Engraving, Fresco/Wall Painting and Mosaic. I will continue to say that the descriptions create ideas for the GM to develop a history behind the piece. Maybe that small wooden sculpture of a broad shouldered, gloomy minstrel has an extensive history or a piece to a larger mystery or maybe it has something cool hidden inside.

Potions, this one generates what the potion looks and tastes like. Also included are possible side-effects. These are a lot of fun. Smokey gray and foaming slightly, contained in a brass flask with runes down the side. The potion smells like ginger and tastes like rat droppings. Side-effects may include a temporary loss of the sense of taste. One could only hope if it tastes like rat droppings.

Artifacts, has several categories plus the all popular random selection. The categories are: Any Weapon, Armor and Shields, Polearms, Bludgeoning Weapons, Bows, Swords, Armor Pieces, Full Armor, Shields and Thrown Weapons. As you can see this is not your all powerful type of artifacts, but good old fashion hardware to make the other guy bleed and to keep you from bleeding. There are great descriptions of the look of the weapons and armor and it hints at the powers and possible quirks of them. This dire flail was forged by a legendary smith to be used by healers and is covered in engravings. The grip is knotted with green leather. It allows the owners to speak with the dead.

Coins, okay this is cool. You can make your own coins. You can select the shape of them, text, what is in the center, and if there are glyphs. And if you want, you can add cracks. Why? Because it elevates the cool factor. I included a set of coins I made for Gothridge Manor. I mean if it wasn't enough that the Treasure Hoard Generator created all these great descriptions of loot it also can make custom coins.

And yet there is more. Other features included are the ability to edit the results from the inside of the program, you can print directly from the Treasure Hoard Generator, and save the results of the last 10 things you've generated.

The price of the Treasure Hoard Generator is $3.95. Easily worth the money. This is a tool you can use for any fantasy genre game; Swords & Wizardry, OSRIC, Rolemaster, Castles & Crusades, Pathfinder and all the variations of D&D. And this treasure generator will help any GM create adventures and improve existing ones. One final word, Chaotic Shiny Productions will give you a full refund if you don't like the Treasure Hoard Generator. You've got nothing to lose and only the best treasure generator to gain.

Friday, April 23, 2010

How Do You Know When You Need A Break?

Been very busy at work, doing all these reports for the state and I just caught two sections where I wrote about 'Random Encounters'. Wow, I need a gaming break. Maybe the state will appreciate a few orc patrols or goblin shamans. But probably not.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

One Year at the Manor

Yup a year has gone by and I wouldn't have noticed until I saw The Omnipotent Eye blog, A Year with the Eye. I saw I started on the 19th of April.

Part of the reason I started to blog was to get involved with the gaming industry and possibly get a few of my own products out there. I was reluctant because Rob would sent me forum links of conversations going from time to time and it seemed a lot of it was juvenile temper tantrums. Then I did a few guest posts on Bat in Attic and saw the blogs had a different attitude. There was still some drama, but much less than on the forums.

A year later I didn't reach any goals of putting out any products and I would love to blame my new job, but that wouldn't be honest. I just didn't apply ass to seat and type enough. As Rob could tell you I have dozens upon dozens of half-finished products. Those don't sell very well. But blogging has helped me try and do something each day. Write a blog that may be just short and goofy or a full blown article where I did research and had my wife edit it.

So in the next year of blogging I hope to finish a few products and get them out there. To continue to put out a blog at least every other day, more if I can do it. I hope to help Rob get more of his Majestic Wilderlands out there. Oh, and as a side note, if you are over on Bat in the Attic and bug him about when his adventure Scourge of the Demon Wolf will be out. He missed his March deadline.

Thanks to everyone who has participated by commenting and/or joining my blog. It's been fun watching the OSR develop and all the great things that are coming out of it. I look forward to another year of blogging and seeing what else I can learn along the way.

Monday, April 19, 2010

One Page Dungeon Contest Winners

Alex has announced the top twenty and I am fortunate to squeeze on to that list. Although I find it kinda funny that most won in a Most of category. More precisely, Most Hideouts for the Head Bad Guy. Thanks to the judges who selected mine. Here is a list of the winning entries.

Adam Thorton - Central New Jersey after the "Big Whoops" won for Best Post Apocalyptic Goodness. And it could have easily won for the best title and best rumor table.

Antti Hulkkonene - Den of Villainy won for Best Pirates. This has a fun layout and map.

Chris Gonzales - The Tunnels of Turrack the Terrible won Best Sounds Effects. Not sure if I understand this Best of. It's a very cool random generated dungeon that can be reused making it different every time.

Clarabelle Chong - Time for Tea won Best Victorian Sci-Fi. Also the longest down loading dungeon. This one has got a great look, like an antique newsletter.

Crowin Riddle - City of Traitors won for Best Lost City. He should also win for best name. The map and layout are professional looking and a balls to the wall adventure.

Craig Brasco - The Vault of Zerduzan won for Best Evil Cultist Hangout. This adventure reminds me most of the first adventure modules I used to go through.

Heron Prior - Trolls will be Trolls won for Best Lair. Its got a giant two-headed troll in the first room. Enough said.

Herwin Wielink - The Crypt of Laun Phien won Best Architectural Design. This one has got a great theme. I just hope you don't get dizzy.

Jimm Johnson and Jeff Lynk - The Contemptible Cube of Quazer won Craziest Map. This award is well earned and I would love to see someone do a 3d version of it.

Lord Kilgore - Heart of Darkness won best mini campaign. Anyone inspired by Joseph Conrad is tops with me. Well done.

Paul Siegel - Four Corners won best fitness center. Imagine a bunch of little gnome Goldberg's running around.

Peter A. Mullen - Labratory of the Asmodean Techno-Mage won Snazziest was to Push the Envelope. I really do love this picture. It's almost like one of those 'find the objects' from the Highlight magazines.

Rob Antonishen - Mine! Not Yours? won Best Mine Crawl. My favorite line is "If the battle is not going well, the kracken will escape through an underwater tunnel into the ocean." What? The kracken is having a bad fight what kind of characters are fighting this thing?

Shane Mangus - Raid on Black Goat Wood won Best Cthulhu. Love the name Black Goat Wood. HP gives this one a two tentacles up.

Simon Bull - The Ruination of Tenamen won Best Monsters. I really like this adventure and plan on using it in the near future.

Stuart Robertson - Dungeon from a Distant Star won Best Mix of Genres. I am not a fan of spaceships and fantasy mixing, but this is good. And he uses flumphs. I'm sold.

Me - Where is Margesh Blackblood won Most Hideout for the Head Bad Guy. Also known as the longest stretch of a category. Ha. I am glad someone didn't create a five layer hideout or I wouldn't have been included.

Tom Holmes - The Bone Harvest Horror won Best Cartography. This one absolutely earned this award by far. Well done.

There are a few that were left off I really liked to I will create my own categories.

James D. Jarvis - Gas-N-Die wins Best Random Encounter Table. Listen to this line up, Mutant Bikers, Cannibals, Rabid Coyote, Carnivorous Cactus, Radioactive Alley Cat and a Road Runner. I would play this one just to get a random encounter.

Dennis Carter - Order of the White Wick wins Most Rooms Denoted by Letters. I like this adventure. Its one of those that reminds me of a 1st edition AD&D module.

Jens Thuresson - Tomb of Orcus wins Best Map that Tells a Story. No words given. No words needed to run this one.

Lee Barber - The Embowled Coffin of the Tutelar Fiend wins Best Introduction to an Adventure. If this blurb was on a back of an adventure module I'd buy it.

Michael K. Tumey - Necromancers Crypt wins Coolest Map. I'm surprised this one did not get in the top 20. There isn't much in the way of description, just room labels, but the map is wow.

Really, all of them are very good and have different merits. I tend to favor the fantasy oriented ones while others like a mixture of genres or more sci-fi. Either way they are for anyone to use. Here is a link to a PDF Collection of the Winners.

And a huge thank you to all the judges and sponsers of the One Page Dungeon Contest. It has been fun. At the bottom line that's what this crazy hobby we indulge in is all about.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gaming Week Just Got Better

Last night Rob from Bat in the Attic blog, came over and we did an old school trade. I gave him the Greyhawk Folio and maps for Chaosium's Thieves' World Box set. This is one of those gaming gems I've been looking for for many years. So I am excited to finally add it to my collection and use it in the future. They Greyhawk setting I have never been much of a fan. The maps are great and luckily I had an extra set of those (have no idea where I got them from), but the folio I never used and because of its odd size was a pain in the butt to store on my shelf.

Always being a lurker in the free stuff over at RPGNow, I found this very cool adventure called Orc Hunt from Tabletop Armory developed for the Pathfinder system. The adventure is only two pages long and there is no map and because of the situation presented a GM can easily plug it in damn near anywhere in his campaign world. I won't go into details because you should go download it for yourself. It's free remember.

Yesterday I wrote about the White Box and provided pictures of what is included. Today I wanted to do a short review on the adventure that is included, The Vile Worm of the Eldritch Oak. Love that title. Sounds like Roger Corman should be making the film. The map is great like I said yesterday. All around this a cool little adventure that is easily plugged in anywhere. I won't go into any details,so as not to spoil any surpirses. But when you get your White Box (not if you should) you're going to be pleased with this little addition.

And finally, I guess Alex and all the judges will be announcing the winners of the One-Page Dungeon Contest. So I am looking forward to see if I placed of not. Either way there are a ton of good adventures to use now because of this contest.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pictures of the BHP White Box

As requested by Paladin, pictures of Brave Halflings White Box.

Here is the box itself. Very cool artwork on the cover and along the sides.

All the books splayed out including the table of graph paper and the dice that are included along the top. The d4 is hiding in shadows above book 3.

And finally the adventure that was included. Love the map in this one. Excellent job Andy Taylor. Actually kudos to the whole crew. Thanks for the hard work.

A Good Week for Gaming

The week started off with a bang when we had out regular Monday Night Group (minus Rusty Battle Axe) exploring the underworld of the city and eventually exploring an abandon mansion on the outskirts. The fights were mismatched, we handled them easily, but it was fun to explore the old mansion. Always check the fireplaces for loose bricks. I found a hidden treasure after hidden treasure. It finished with us taking down the main guy (he's remains alive as of this blog, but no promises next week). And I got to web one that tried to run away. I am much happier when I get to web someone. Can you name the module we went through by the cover art?

The next day I get a package from Amazon. I bought GURPS Mysteries and HackMaster Basic. I've only just started to read both and I am thrilled with both of them. The initial work in the GURPS Mysteries is fantastic. Lisa Steele has done an amazing job explaining the different sub-genres of mysteries and how to convert them into a playable adventure. HackMaster is interesting and with all HM products funny as hell. I really loved the attitude and fun the original HM had, but didn't like the time it took to create a character. HM Basic does reduce the amount of time, but I think I will need to tweak it. They've reduced the classes and races down to four. No more Battle Mages or Gnome Titans. Both of which I enjoyed, actually HackMaster got me to liking Gnomes. But this is easily fixable with my tweaks. The honor system is something I am still not huge on, but it would be interesting to find a way to make it work like Glory does in Pendragon. My favorite thing about Hackmaster is the randomness of stats of D&D, but the skill sets that are more like Runequest. The hybrid of a system I am working on slowly is going to be a Frankenstien Monster created from bits of AD&D, GURPS, HackMaster, C&C, S&W throw in a some Pendragon and a dash of Pathfinder.

Then yesterday my White Box came in Brave Halflinf Publishing. I'd forgotten about the adventure that came with it so that was a nice surprise. And as promised it had a colorful set of dice included. I'm excited to sit down with all my new gaming stuff this week.

Friday, April 16, 2010

When the Player's Come Knocking

The party is thundering through the dungeon corridors trying to be quiet. Oh they believe they are quiet. Hell, the thief made his move silently roll, but with nearly a ton of metal armor, weapons and the hundreds or thousands of coins they are dragging along being quiet in a confined room/corridor is not an easy feat. And when the party starts beating on one of the dungeon denizens then the gig is up.

When writing adventures there is a lot of encounters where the creatures are surprised. They wait in stasis for the players to activate them so to speak. If there is a group of bandits that get monkey stomped in one room and the there are a bunch more in the next three things should happen. The bandits join the frey, the bandits set up an ambush to surprise the players as they come in or grab their family photo albums and get the hell out of there.

Player's make a lot of noise. They can't help themselves. So as GMs out there, how do you handle the noise factor of your players? When they are bashing in a door does it alert a portion of the dungeon creatures? Does it make them scurry to the noise? Set up an ambuch? Or do you keep the critter in stasis? I know a lot of it depends on the type of creatures that populate you place, but most of the critters have some sort of intelligence and mobility, what do they do when they players come knocking?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Monster and Treasure Assortment

This was one of the first non-core book, non-adventure module gaming supplement I purchased. You've got the great Tramper cover art and other small pieces woven in. Basically this is a two sets of random tables divided between monster and treasure. The title wouldn't make much sense otherwise. And each set is divided into nine different levels. Formatting wise, what I love, is they wasted no space. Even the backside of the front and back covers are used.

I used this book to help populate my 'folder modules' (I used Manila folders and would staple my map to the inside and some information about the dungeon on the other so when we would play I would use it like a regular module from TSR). I would draw a dungeon on graph paper, number the rooms and then start rolling. All the treasure and monster tables use 100 entries in each. No duplication or fudging with saying on a roll of 44-48 1-6 Orcs. Each one is assigned one number.

An example room would be this. I'm going to use a 5th level table for both monster and treasure. I rolled a 88 for the monster so that gives me 1-4 Giant Rattlesnakes. And I rolled a 17 for the treasure giving me 1 jewelry worth 3000gp. Now in the front of the book are three tables for how to present the treasure. One is what is the treasure contained in, the next what is it guarded by (traps) and the last one is what is it hidden by. The contained and hidden b are d10 and the guarded by is a d16. So let's see what's going on with this treasure. The treasure is contained in an iron trunk, trapped with spring darts firing up from the top of the container and is hidden under a loose stone in the floor. Of course you may only want to roll on one or two of theses tables, but its fun to roll on all three and keep what you like.

I know I stocked a lot of dungeons using this book. It is simplistic and will make dungeons that have no rhyme or reason, but that's okay. It may spark some great ideas by positioning a couple of things near one another you would have normally never attempted.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Prepare to be jealous. Unless you have one of these already. I found this little treasure in the bargin trough at Borders last night, Whack a Zombie: You Can't Keep a Good Zombie Down. No words were truer. Inside this little box is a 5" inflatable punching bag zombie (the kind with the sand in the bottom) and a fact book about zombies. And this is what started this blog.

Here are ten signs that you might be a zombi.

The ladies from Disney love zombies too:

If you spot any zombies please report them to the center.

One of the best combinations in the world Star Wars and Zombies.

Here is an automatic crossbow to take out that zombie horde in your backyard.

There were so many great zombie songs to choose from, but this one is the best.

Well this one is pretty funny too.

Here are some famous zombies you may recognize.

And if you are hungry you can always snack on some Gingerbread Zombies. They're Yum-ooo. Hmm sometimes don't you wish Rachel Raye was a Zombie? Or is she? Hmmm.

Cafepress has so many awesome t-shirts that I want to order a new wardrobe.

And I'll leave you this the wikipedia of Zombie survival...just in case.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why I Carried My DM's Guide with the Back Out

Like most of us out there I have my gaming shelf, or shelves depending on the stage of your addiction, close at hand so I can just reach over and grab a copy of Pendragon's Knights Adventurous or any of the three editions of D&D (1st, 3.0 and 4th) core books or my entire shelf dedicated to GURPS. I swear I learned more about history through gaming supplements than I ever did in high school or college for the matter. I still have my original set of 1st edition AD&D core books including the Deities and Demigods with the two excluded mythos in later versions. It has seen better days, tape holds the binding together.

I was retelling the story to the guys about one of my first times explaining D&D to a substitute teacher in junior high. I had my DM guide on my table as I struggle with a chemical equation.

"What's that?" The substitute pointed at my DM's Guide and I thought I was in trouble.

"It's a game. D&D. Dungeons and Dragons."

"Are you a devil worshipper?" Now when he asked this there was no judgment in his tone. He just sounded interested in a very creepy way."

"No. It's just a game."

"How come it's got a devil on the front?"

"It's not a devil. It's an effffrri." I didn't know how to pronounce it. It just came out as a fupping sound.

"Does the game have devils in it?"

"Yeah." I was thinking I am losing this one and this stupid cover is not making things any easier. Why not just put a dragon or giant on the front. Nope had to be some devil looking dude with a name I couldn't pronounce.

Later in study hall that day I was talking to one of my fellow D&Ders. We knew each other by the extra amount of folders and books we carried. We talked about our most recent game and our plan to get together at the library across the street and play though a module. Mr. Substitute teacher was listening to us and part of our conversation was about how we killed this and killed that. My fellow D&Der talked about how he had to sacrifice an animal to get the gate open. Mr. Substitute Teacher sat next to us and whispered "Where do you guys do your sacrificing? I do mine under the bridge by my house." We both nodded and sat in an uncomfortable silence and I was praying for that bell to ring.

I was glad he was a substitute teacher. From that day on I was real careful when I brought my gaming books, especially the DMs Guide with it back out. Eventually I covered them with paperbags like I did my school books. Great camouflage. I learned that the attention of those interested was sometimes worse than those who hated us for bringing that trash into the school. Those people I knew how to handle.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

5. Dungeon Room

5. The Bone Room

As the players near the room the stonework in the hall becomes paved with bones. The open room's floor, ceiling and walls are made of bone. Jagged, broken off bones jut out in every direction making travel through here dangerous. The ceiling dips and the floor swells making some areas in the room narrow enough in height that only a halfling could pass without stooping.

Hidden among the bones are two bone demons (or Babaus, pg.213 OSRIC). It is virtually impossible to distinguish the demons among the bones. The demons have rigged a trap for the players, as they walk towards the corridor in the east wall a section of the bone ceiling will collapse on one or more of them (4d6 damage and for every 6 rolled a limb is pinned). The demons will attack after the trap is sprung.

The demons do not want to kill the players, but to subdue them. Baiyatus (see room 6.) needs more souls to carve a permanent gate for his demons to enter into this world. The secret door in the eastern wall is concealled behind a movable bone door that blends in with the surroundings.

Any treasure has been given to Baiyatus, but among bones and only a Detect Magic spell would be able to find it is a wand made of bone. It is a Wand of Reincarnate with 2 charges.


Stumbled across this interesting site. Besides from the annoying ads it looks to have some good things on it. The selection is small right now, but I'm sure that will grow over time. If you need to look up a quick critter check out Monstropedia and see what you can find. I like the human monster section the best so far.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Families as a Positive

I've been digging through old Pendragon books and I would glance at the family section, they always have a family section. Then I was listening to RPG Circus and they spoke about how gamers like to play loners in a group. Rarely is family considered. In fact family is seen as a weakness. Something to be used against a player. I got to thinking in all my years of playing I can only think of a handful of times where I had some sort of relationship with a family member. And in all those times they were used against me as plot devices.

But hold on. It doesn't have to be that way. Or at least not all one sided. What if a player benefited from having a family? A father who dispensed advice even though some of it was completely off track. Maybe dear old dad is an ex-adventurer who knows the location of a dungeon or two or knows some tricks of the trade. Mother could be a kick ass spellcaster or a can pick a lock with a smile and a simple pin. Brothers and sisters who can also be rivals, but also have the attitude 'no one is allowed to beat up my brother, but me'. A family as a valuable resource instead of a constant victim would be a nice change.

Monday, April 5, 2010

How do YOU rate as a GM? (Only your players know for sure.)

This little test was inspired by DeAnn Iwan's article in 81st issue of Dragon Magazine of the same title. Well, replace the GM for DM and then it's exactly the same. She wrote a 43 questionnaire for players to rate their GMs. This is a variation of her test. Circle which number best describes the way your GM plays. So all you players out there grab your favorite writing utensil and know that your GM is not permitted to peak at your answers. You information and identity protection is my highest priority unless you write a comment then the gig is up. Remember, there are no bad GMs only ones that suck before they get good.

Does the GM challenge you?
1. Not so much. Everything is too easy. There is no penalty for being stupid.
2. Everything is impossible. Everytime I return home the GM makes me roll a lockpick challenge. I have the fricking key!
3. The challenges are balanced and fair. Just don't touch his slice of pizza or demon lords happen to appear.

How often do your characters die?
1. Die? I've waded through an army of titans and came away unscathed. I am immortal.
2. I've got sores on my hands from rolling up new characters.
3. Frequent enough that I run away when I see an army of angry titans.

How much treasure do you get?
1. I own at least one of everything in the treasure section. If Vecna had any more body parts lopped off I would have them.
2. I'm a 7th level fighter and I have holes in my shoes and wield a dull scythe I got from a farmer.
3. The party members and I have a pretty good stash of loot to help us take on what is thrown our way, but man I would love to get my hands a Girdle of Giant Strength.

How quick is the level progression?
1. I have attained godhood in three different classes. I am a god among gods. I'm very bored.
2. Forty-three sessions in the campaign and I've finally reached 3rd level. Never laugh at a GM's haircut or touch his pizza.
3. I'm progressing well. I got a nice bump of experience points after the last adventure.

Is your GM creative?
1. Ahh, he developed his own language for sentient bovine that have fled their native plane. I won't even go into culture of vegetables he gave us a handout on last session. Hint, don't eat the turnips.
2. My shoe has more ideas. I swear he bases each session off the most recent episode of Heroes.
3. Yeah. Keeps me guessing. Never assume a magic item or monster is going to react like its written.

How does the GM run NPCs?
1. All of them are nice and helpful. Even the mean ones apologize.
2. All of them are dicks. Even the nice ones would rather die than give us directions to a tavern.
3. Lots of variety. Although he tends to favor old characters of his, but if you know that ahead of time your good to go.

Does the GM favor any one class?
1. He likes non-adventuring classes. Last session we got a twenty-three page hand out on the particulars of a cobbler.
2. Any class his current NPC is.
3. I don't see any favoritism. Certain situations make one class shine over the others, but we all seem to get into the spotlight.

How does your GM handle critical successes?
1. Any hit is a critical. I've lopped off more heads than a lawnmower in a field of dandelions.
2. I wouldn't know.
3. He has a homemade chart with some cool effects. Although my group seems to favor the pelvis shot.

How does your GM handle critical failures?
1. I wouldn't know.
2. I've lopped off my own head and another player's leg while just eating dinner. I failed my challenge roll for cutting a piece of ham.
3. He has a homemade chart with some cool effects. Okay, it is pretty funny when someone hits themselves in the pelvis.

How realistic is your game?
1. If I want it I get it. So not very realistic.
2. I caught a cold walking in the rain then had to hunt a cow and nearly died because I couldn't track it down in a fenced in field. (Yes Rob, that one is for you!)
3. Enough to make simple things a little more exciting, but not get bogged down with details for the more mundane aspects of the game.

Does your GM go strictly by the rules as written?
1. We don't have any rules. We make it up as we go.
2. We aren't allowed to have a copy of the rule books. We had to hand them over before we began. He didn't want to be bother by people arguing with him.
3. He goes with the flow. There is a definite framework in place, but a lot of home rules built in. And if we as a party don't like a particular rule the GM with change it.

What is the best part of the game for your GM?
1. To see his player happy and successful. There is no failure as long as we try.
2. Collecting all the characters he's killed over the years. Sick son-of-a-bitch makes you hand over your character sheet so he can add it to a folder that reads 'character graveyard".
3. Watching us struggle with one of his puzzles or watching us cheer on a fellow player to get a good roll so the party can survive.

If your score is very low you must have a GM from California who does yoga. If your score is in the middle then you have GM from Texas who works in a prison. If you have a very high score you must live in Pennsylvania with a GM named Rob (I've got a game tonight so I figure I can get some extra xp for blatant flattery). So concludes this test. There are many other questions that could be asked, but I don't want to ask them. So please feel free to add you own.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Haul from Black Blade Publishing

I hadn't ordered from Black Blade Publishing before, but had it on my favorites lists for some time. I decided for the weekend to get some good stuff. I haven't got to read much of any of them yet, but I got all day today to read.

I've been eyeballing Mythmere's Adventure Design Book for some time and finally got it. I'm a sucker for these kind of production books. I have expectations for it so I hope its good.

Then I pick up a copy of City Encounters for S&W and #3 Knockspell. I know, they've been out for a while, but I am catching up so don't grief me. I'm a big fan of the first two KS so hoping again this follow up is just as good. City Encounters I bought as a whim. The $3 price tag made it easy to just add it on at the end. I've had a change to glance through some of the tables and it look interesting. Or more important, it looks like something I can use.

So my plan for the day is to do a little cleaning to get my desk clean so I can do some writing, print the pdfs and do some reading. Enjoy the day everyone..

3-4 Dungeon Rooms

3. Doors of Darkness
A rusted iron spike is propping open the left door of the double doors. These doors are covered in the same white limestone, but most of the limestone has broken off and lies in piles on the floor. Most of the hellstone beneath is exposed. Beyond the door is darkness. Natural light does not penetrate it. If a magical light source is used they players will see an empty room (see room 4.)

4. The Pool in the Pit
There is a Hallucinatory Terrain spell cast in this room. The illusion of the floor hides the pool beneath. There is a 10’ drop before the 50’ deep pool begins. The water is ice cold. A character must make a save vs. paralyze or he will take 1d6-1 points of damage/round.

At the bottom of the pool are several dozen skeletons. Only the magical items have survived the years within the frigid water. The list of intact items includes a suit of +2 chainmail, a belt of +1 strength, a cloak of +1 protection, two +1 swords and the Sword of Berringer (see new Magic Item section) rings of Haste and Magic Missile (see new Magic Item section), and a total of 1400sp and 210gp.

To the west a section of the room is platform with large tapestries covering the walls. The tapestries are tattered and faded. They are faded images depict horrific images of tortured spirits. If a player stands before these tapestries for an extended period of time a save vs. fear must be made. If the player fails the images in the tapestries begin to move. For each player that fails his save a wraith will be created from the tapestries.

If a player tries to burn or cut the tapestries the images will shriek alerting everyone from room 5 to room 12. The tapestries can only be destroyed by holy water (which acts like fire).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Dragon Age Review

Last weekend I had a 40% Borders coupon burning in my hand. The nearest Borders is about 45 minutes away, but I make that trip regularly and did so armed with a coupon and a thirst for a carmel javanilla with shot of espresso (this bad boy is not on the list you have to order it which I highly recommend). As I drove there I was thinking of what I could get. I wanted a gaming book by god, but the problem was most of the RPG selection is 4th edition D&D. No edition war here, I've got the core books and a couple modules and played it enough to know 4th edition is not for me. The other books they usually have are a few WoD selections. Again, not for me. They did have a copy of Mutants and Masterminds last time, but superhero RPGs, eh.

I went hoping to find something of interest. I knew I wasn't coming out empty handed. I walked over to the RPG section and found the usual array of books then say a box edition of Dragon Age. It was $30 so with my coupon in cost a little under $20 which was defiantly in my price range to explore another game system (like I need another).

Armed with my carmel javanilla I grabbed my favorite table at the cafe and open the box. First off, it is based off the video game which I have never player, but I do have a 360 and I'm not afraid to use it. So I may in the future. I'll also add I have not played Dragon Age. I've only created a few characters and when through a mock combat. So this review is based off of how it presents itself and reads.

Anyway, inside the box is a Player's Guide, Gamemaster's Guide, a map of their campaign world and three d6s. First off the guides present well, the artwork is excellent and the layout is easy to follow and read. The map is a little boring for my tastes. It doesn't earn the privilege to be laminated and hung on my wall. And the three d6s. More dice. Enough said. Two black and one green die, the dragon die, and that is very important to the game.

I dove into the Player's Guide first and Dragon Age records stats by rolling three d6 like most games, but then you only record your modifier and toss the actual number you rolled. So if you rolled a 15 you would record it as +3. Your stats get modified as you develop your character. This is done because Dragon Age is run off of challenges. Within each of the eight attributes there are focuses which increase a player's chance of succeeding a challenge by two.

Races permitted are human, dwarf or elf. Classes permitted Mage, Rogue and Warrior. I found it interesting they had no cleric class. Healing is done with the Mage class. The one thing I really liked was how the Mage class was run with Mana Points. So this allows the class to be much more useful at lower levels and from what I can tell pretty damn potent. There is a selection of Backgrounds a player selects from and then you roll to give your character background abilities and a random bonus. These are directly connected with the campaign world within Dragon Age so it will take some work to tweak these if you decide to use this system outside their world.

The Game Master's Guide is a concise mixture of generic gaming advice, how to resolve dice rolls, a small selection of creatures and magic items and it finishes with a short sample adventure.

I doubt I would ever run a Dragon Age campaign. I may try to run a pickup game once in a while with it. When I made a character for the first time it took about 30 minutes which means once I get used to the system I could probably finish one on 15 minutes which is great. I do like the culture backgrounds and the random bonus you can get which I will probably implement in my campaign. Even though there are only three races and three classes you combine them with the different backgrounds and there are a lot of options to keep the characters interesting.

This offering from Green Ronin Publishing is a solid product and from my gaming wallet worth the $20 dollar price tag, but I wouldn't have paid $30 for it. The system has some interesting bits to it and a relatively easy learning curve. A group could buy Dragon Age in the afternoon and have a full blown game going before supper. I think the biggest weakness that I see in the product is the setting. There is nothing new in the world of Dragon Age. It is a reworking of fantasy standards. There is no 'wow' factor to use the setting. However, there are plenty of good bits to pick from to add to a homebrewed campaign.

ADDITION at TimeShadows request:
First one is the Apostate. Here are the bonus abilities you get:
- Add 1 to your Willpower ability.
- Pick one of the following focuses: Cunning (Natural Lore)or Willpower (Self-Discipline).
- Can be Human or Elf.
- Can speak and read Trade Tongue.
- Mage Class

Then there is the random table for benefits. There is one for an elf and one for being human. I really like this addition and am planning on doing something similar with my campaign.

2d6 Elf
2 +1 Cunning
3-4 Speak Elven
5 Focus: Cultural Lore
6 Focus: Self-Discipline
7-8 +1 Magic
9 Focus: Stealth
10-11 +1 Dex
12 Weapon Group: Bows

2d6 Human
2 +1 Constitution
3-4 Focus: Stamina
5 Focus: Self-Discipline
6 Focus: Healing
7-8 +1 Magic
9 Focus: Riding
10-11 Focus: Deception
12 +1 Cunning

These are outlaw mages. The Chantry Templars hunt the Apostates. So the real disadvantage of playing a character with this background is you will need to be discreet with your magic use lest the Templars gobble you up.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Small Press Availability

It's Good Friday and I am at work up to my eyeballs in paperwork. I can't stay focused worth a damn and I keep going on Amazon to check on gaming books. I have nearly a 100 bucks worth of credit on Amazon and can't find much in the way of Old School material available. There are some through secondary sellers, but my credit doesn't work with them. I'm considering getting GURPS Mystery, I've heard great things about it. I recently bought Dragon Age which I plan on doing a review soon.

I guess my post is about the availability of Old School products. I know where to get them on-line, but there are none in the gaming stores I have around me or the big store on-line places. I'm not sure what my point is except I would like to see the venues for Old School products to I can buy more. If BHP, Black Blade Publishing or many of the fantastic small publishers could get their products into say Amazon I would gladly blow my entire credit amount on products and then some.

I'm sure there are logistics I don't understand, but that's my hope.