Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How Simple Do You Like Your Game

The philosophy of many OSR games is keeping it simple so someone can create a character in a few minutes and start playing. Or in golfing terms 'grip it and rip it'. The death ratio is fairly high, but making the characters takes little to no time and there is no shortage of handy tools out there created by all the OSR folks to help things along.

Simplicity of play is fun, but the group I run in likes a little more complexity. OMG. That's right. You heard me. I like a little complexity to my game. I prefer to be able to make my character unique not a cookie cutter class guy. I want options damn it. Maybe this is because I player GURPS for many years before getting involved with the more old school philosophy of play. For short run campaigns or one shots, the grip and rip it style is great, but when I am going to play a guy for a while I like growing beyond the narrow confines of a class definition.

I like being the fighter with that one little magical power that gives him a slight edge. Maybe all he can do is create a flash of light, but it's enough to give him a slight edge for a few seconds. Maybe a thief who is an expert at manipulating people, who can talk to people and get vital information for his next job. Or a mage who has contracted some horrible disease, he suffers from the physical scaring while most die from it. The sight of him makes others run for the fear of contracting the disease.

Can any of these be put into any retro clone game...sure, but the GM will need to statistically figure out the numbers. While other games have these different effects statistically figured out. Now brace yourself, but this does happen, some GMs, if it's not in the book they will not allow it.

I play more than I GM. GMs have all this room to play with to create new critters, cities, treasures of wonder and a new bagel if they choose. As a player I like to have a little room to move around also. Allow me to be creative and move my character into a direction not normally taken. Beyond the narrow scope of a class based system. I want to play in a large field and run this a way and that a way. Explore what my character can become within the world the GM created. I promise not to break your world.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sleep Spell Chart

This is the kind of crap I do instead of working on one of my projects. I am looking up a stat for this or that or some critter and I wonder what it looks like in one of the other gaming systems. And off I go. Twenty books spread across my desk, this time all opened to the Sleep spell, and now I can't even find my keyboard.

I picked the Sleep spell this time because it is the quintessential 1st level spell. No mage leaves home without it. And for a 1st level spell it is by far the most powerful. Magic Missile wounds one, maybe you get a kill if you run into a sickly kobold. Read Magic I always had a problem with since I am playing a mage should I not have been trained in the oogly googly language of magic? Charm Person is a great one, but again it affects a single target. And if the target makes his or her saving throw you are stuck there with nothing but a stubby dagger in your hand. Has shouting "Stop, or I'll kill you with my darts!" ever been effective? Hold Portal, is handy, but a chair or a lock can do the same. Needing to cast Shield would mean I am getting attacked. Why aren't my meat shields doing their job? Then you have a handful of useful utility spells like Light, Read Languages, Identify, and Unseen Servant are all useful, but not worth taking up a spell slot during the exploration of the Spastic Lizardmen Temple of Unseen Smells.

Sleep can single handedly take out a small army of critters and all of a sudden that stubby little dagger of yours becomes the most powerful weapon in existence to those taking a snooze.

So this is where my time goes. I spent going through as many system books as I could find and comparing the differences of the Sleep spell. One thing they all seem to agree on is Sleep is a 1st level spell. So here is a table of the basic information. I guess the one thing that always bothered me about the Sleep spell was no saving throw. Systems seem to be split on this one. Anyways, this is how I spent my Sunday afternoon. It is now Monday morning and I have finally put back my books so I could write this. Click on it to make it larger.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Deadliest Catch

Here's why I did not have TV for many years. Not too long ago I was flipping through the channels and I come across the Deadliest Catch. Not being a fan of any sea stuff I nearly flipped right past it, but my wife said she liked the show so I put down the remote and wondered what was on sale on RPGNow. Twenty minutes later I was hooked (or in the case of this show, I was in a pot). Then the crushing story of Captain Phil Harris. Man. I just started watching the damn show and it already punched me in the gut.

Okay, why am I writing about the Deadliest Catch in a gaming blog? Because it's got me jazzed up to do seafaring adventures. I've never been a fan of seafaring adventures, but after watch several episodes (for those of you have Netflix the first five seasons are on instant play) I am ready to use the stuff I am learning from the show and put it into an adventure and build a proper fishing village. Their traditions go back so far, the superstitions, the teamwork and the captain is king.

Anyway, felt like sharing that on a Saturday night. Just wondered what shows have inspired others to do an adventure they normally wouldn't do? Have a great Saturday. Bye.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

0 Level Characters Love Them or Hate Them?

Ever since I saw the Cavaliers experience table in Unearthed Arcana I wondered how well it would work in play. For the cavalier they don't just start at 0 level they have two levels to of zero to work through. I always thought it would be interesting to have the players start at 0 level. At this point they would have basic stats and skills, but they wouldn't be a class yet. A GM would run short senerios through critical parts of their training.

This is a rough idea how I would do it since I really haven't thought it through. It would be broken into three parts. The random attribute and event rolls. Everyday environment factors. And encounters.

The player would roll 2d6 for attributes or 3d6 and discard the lowest. From there the player would select a class he would like to be trained. At first it would be a few rolls by the player to determine some random events that would increase or decrease his abilities. Quick off the cuff example for a farmer boy wanting to be a fighter;

1-win village footrace, gain one charisma
2-managed to get through flu season, gain one constitution
3-broke your ankle lose one dexterity
4-got into a lot of fights with other village boys, gain one strength and a 50% of gaining onecharisma and 50% losing one charisma
5-adventurer stops in village gain a weapon proficency and 2d6sp
6-find a broken sword in the woods

The second part would be the environment this village boy is in. Being a farmer he will gain strength from the constant toiling and possible constitution if he can avoid becoming sick. The drawback is he won't gain education here and the possibility of learning a skill is greatly reduced. Again the GM would need to come up with a handful of factors that would help the player develop his character.

So a player might roll on six different tables through their 0 level time. But also during this time the GM would arrange encounters that would also form who the player would become by the choices he made. Another off the cuff simple example. This same village farming boy wishing to become a fighter encounters a single goblin in woods. The goblin rushes into attack. Another encounter may be a competition at a festival where all the village boys compete in wrestling and racing. The GM would come up with rewards or penalties depending on the outcome.

What I like about this way is the player has a lot more say in the development of his character while the GM still retains the randomness of life and its affects on a person. But would require more work for the GM.

I know when I am reading books I often find the beginning sections about how the person became the hero, often times, more interesting than when he or she becomes the hero.

So tell me your thoughts, suggestions or opinions. The more I think about this the more I like it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rival Adventuring Groups and Adventurer Friendly Kingdoms

Has a party ever come upon a dungeon they have prepared to enter to find another group leaving? One of the large fighters in the other party has Acererak on his hand and pretends it's a puppet, "You're too late. But you can have the scraps we left. Tell the green devil I said hello." Then laughs as he hefts a sack overflowing with loot and walks off.

Well crap, your party is all dressed up with no place to go. In a world where all the bad guys are plotting world domination or ancient tombs and temples filled with forgotten treasures does the party believe they are the only ones out there waiting to save the day or to gather the loot? Come on they can't be that arrogant can they? Do they believe the dungeons, temples, mines, ruins, towers or god forbid crashed spaceships are waiting just for them to plunder?

To add a little competition to a dungeon crawl world I add other parties of varying degrees of competence. Some helpful, some who would rather lop off the heads of the players than speak to them. Some of the advantages of this are if a player dies they have a pool of 'free agents' they can pull from. If the players find a higher level party willing to mentor them they could discover what the weaknesses are of certain critters and possibly get a hand me down magical item or two to help them on their next quest. It can also set up foreshadowing, say a high level party comes back half its number and the rest bloodied, the players might be the next group to be called upon to deal with the menace.

Having a kingdom that is tolerant or maybe even friendly towards adventurers has a great advantage.

1. The adventurers are going to buy their stuff from that kingdom and pour in the money they gained from the adventurers. So there is no need to tax them too high, the kingdom will get their share soon enough.

2. The kingdom is safer. It will have its own standing army, but have groups of incredibly skilled mercenaries that could easily change the tide of battle.

3. The king doesn't have to pay them. If there is trouble coming from the nearby swamp he has his people spread a few rumors about a treasure horde and watches the adventuring parties stumble over themselves racing to collect it.
4. It keeps nobles on their toes. Hereditary claim is no match for competence in battle and the ability to lead. The king is always assured that his nobles will be the strongest in the land. He can select among those who will serve him best.

5. Even though the king will need to watch during times of peace, because all those players boiling and seething for victory, glory and fame don't like to sit at home for very long, he must create grand distractions such as tournaments and contests that glorify what players most hold dear.

6. Finally, it provides competition. Who will be the first, who will be the best, who will last the longest and who will be remembered.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Labyrinth Lord & other Systems

I'm taking advantage of Lulu's summer of free shipping (for orders over $19.95) and I believe finally completing my collection of retro clones. I placed my order for Labyrinth Lord and the Advanced Companion. Oh and then I threw the Monster Listing on top of the pile. Why not. Yes, I know the downloads are free, but I dislike reading that much on PDF. I like PDFs to refer to not to read. Plus I had no reason to get LL before because our group has been playing mainly Swords & Wizardry. I'm looking forward to checking it out, seeing the subtle difference all these games seem to have. The reason I buy these game systems is first I love reading about them, second I always like to read about how others do it and third I have my own way of doing things so I am always on the look out for a good idea, tearing it out and pasting it into what I do.

Hey it is Friday! I'm going to churn and burn this day while I wait for my books to come in. I will place it beside the following systems I have on the shelf beside me;
HackMaster Basic
HackMaster 4th Edition
Castles & Crusades
Swords & Wizardry
D&D 3rd edition
D&D 4th edition
Pendragon 4th and 5th edition I believe
Dragobn Age
Tunnels & Trolls
Judges Guild (I guess not so much a system but something that stands out for me)
Palladium Fantasy
and a crapload of GURPS

There are bits and peices of others like Vampire the Masqurade, Shadowrun 1st ed, Talasman (sp?), and Ares Magica. As you can see I spend way too much money on gaming, but I enjoy it.

Have a great Friday everyone!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Giving Mundane Treasure a Kick

Over at the Tower of the Archmage, David is doing a series of posts based on how he is stocking his megadungeon, particularly the first level. His most recent post was on rolling random treasure and fitting it into his dungeon. He adjusted the values of the gems so 1st level character could not retire after a few rooms. That got me thinking how I do treasure, especially coins, gems and jewelry and some artwork.

I'm always one who likes to add a few layers to things. Sometimes I over complicate them, in which I just toss the idea into the mental bin and continue. When I decide treasure I may add a few curves into the value of things. Easiest one is coins. The standard is copper, silver and gold. I'm not one for platinum or by all the horrors above and below, electrum. What I do like to do is introduce simple variants in value and worth to them. An example is there is silver and hard silver. Hard silver is worth much more that regular silver and not found in coins, but rather small bars. What makes hard silver so valuable is that it accepts enchantments easily. It is usually part of a recipe when someone wants to make an enchantable weapon.

Keeping with the coins I like to slip in ancient coins which are different size and value. A gold coin from the third kingdom is three times as large as the ones minted today. The reason I like this is it adds depth and character to the treasure connecting itself to the world around. But again, sometimes it gets too complicated and the focus is elsewhere so then the players will just find a pile of gold coins.

Gems can hold enchantments, be an ingredient in an alchemical recipe or a component in some spell ritual. To cast a gate spell a mage may need to have the dust of 10000gp worth of diamonds or some such thing. To create a potion of strength the potion may require the chips off a ruby. Its fun to have these layers, but only if the players buy into it. Again if it seems to be something that bogs down the game or the players don't seem interested in that aspect I drop it.

Artwork is tricky, but I like to add a significant painting or sculpture. Like in the real world the value is not often the quality of the work, but who created it. Some of the paintings in a recent adventure I designed show significant details of a lost dwarven mine. It was an adventure hook I laid there to see if the players would pick up on it. If they do plan to explore, fantastic. If not, no problem.

As I have stated above sometimes this gets me too involved in details many times may not matter, but if done correctly and with a light touch, adding this kind of thing to your mundane treasure rewards will make it more exciting.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Starter Adventures Downloads

Starter Adventures has reached over 200 downloads, 213 to be exact. I thought I'd get a 100 downlaods. Maybe. Anyway, hope everyone likes them and keep an eye out for the next adventure.

Riddle Me This, Never Mind, Just Grab the Liver

GM - Rob
Oelander - Dwayne
Syrnvald - Rusty
Ashling - Me

After a week break our gaming group got together and it started out a bit slow and lethargic. We ended the last session with completing a series of investigations for Syrnvald so he could finally reach his next level of experience. It was the primary focus of our group at the time and now that it was finished we needed to start a new path. The GM set out a hook about someone scrying our party. That the divining person in the conclave would be able to pinpoint who and where it was she would just need a liver of a sphinx. Very weird request.

Oelander didn't care who it was. He just wanted a good sword. His father being an evil SOB and fairly powerful thought it was him keeping an eye on us. We had killed several demons (did I mention Oelander is part demon?) and now had the attention of some powerful verdians (those are the demon people that look like green elves). He wanted the sword to help battle his father.

After some discussion it was decided to get the sphinx liver. It was suggested that if we got into trouble we could challenge the sphinx to a riddle contest. I didn't see how that would help since we wanted its liver and I doubt it would have handed it over if it guessed wrong. Plus the GM just bought a book of a hundred riddles and wanted to use it.

The location of the sphinx was in a swamp with a tribe of tough orcs. In Rob's campaign there are only goblins and orcs. No bugbears, gnolls, hobgoblins or kobolds just various levels of orcs. The plan was simple until we started thinking of all the stuff that could go wrong with casting a fireball in the middle of a swamp. Even if the swamp gas didn't explode the sphinx liver would be crispy. So having to keep our largest gun in our holster we hired a fishing boat from some very nervous men.

We snuck up on the orcs and started sleeping them, taking out the majority. They were tough as billed. Then the sphinx joined the fray since these orcs worshipped it and made bovine offerings. I shot the sphinx with a knight killer crossbow and followed it up with a barrage of magic missiles then I think Rusty finished it off with m ore magic missiles. All in all we took them out fairly easy. Oelander took one wound from the flying sphinx.

Since none of knew where the liver was located on a sphinx we just took the whole thing in our portable hole. We discovered some other group with 'evil intent' was watching us.

In the end Oelander still is looking for a sword. Rusty discovered even after gaining all those spells he still goes last in initiative every time. And I am waiting to see how the story unravels. The biggest winners of the game were the nervous fishermen. They can now fish the entire swamp and somewhere out there is the sphinx's treasure. They plan to tell no one about the orcs and sphinx being gone.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Character Death

Popular subject in the blogs lately so I thought I would chime in. When I am running a campaign the players are aware they may be eaten, beaten, scorched, melted, frozen, stoned, mind flayed, spirit rendered or discover death in some other magnificent way. Considering their occupation, death should always be behind them and to the left ready to tap on their shoulder.

In the beginning levels I always try to provide a 'red shirt' or two to demonstrate how dangerous a place or situation is and to provide the monsters a chew toy other than the players. If the players decide to stay after one of their faithful henchmen just got mangled then they better hang on to their cod piece. As a GM, when it comes to combat I prefer to roll my attack and damage die in the open for the players to see. So there is no fudging.

Should one of the players get taken out then a couple things can happen, they can attempt to get the character resurrected or not. In my game to get resurrected is not an easy thing. A cleric must ask a favor from a god to grant life once again. Some religious strictly forbid resurrection, believing to be a form of necromancer and messing with the will of gods/fate or whatever they believe in.

Should the players decide to do this I will usually then run two sessions, one for the players and one for the dead character. Since the character who is dead wishes to be alive again I may run an adventure or two where he must prove to that god he is worthy while the other players will need to gather the money, components do a favor for the clerics before the ritual begins. So a character's death provides possible adventures.

I am mostly a player in games and I know when a GM is fudging. I hate it. If the monster rolls a natural 20 when I have one hit point then let the die roll where they may. I am okay with it. I don't want all my characters to have epic story arcs that can get boring and dilute the times when I do have a character that does something epic. I will give an example of a not so glorious death one of my characters suffered. Del-Goth was a not to smart mercenary who always got into trouble. I had a blast playing him. But his end came when an iron golem held him underwater in a horse trough till he drowned. About as a humiliating death as they come, death by horse trough. But I thought it was great. It made sense. It happened organically without coddling by the GM. Then I started thinking of the next guy I wanted to play.

When I hear a GM who doesn't like to see the player characters get killed I think of sports where they don't keep score. They don't want anyone's feelings to be hurt. There are times when that strategy is appropriate. But overall, I prefer as a player and GM to have death hovering nearby. Otherwise I am just rolling insignificant dice until my next treasure collection. As a player I can handle a character's death. As a GM I will be fair and as consistent as I can be, but my players know if they go into that dungeon all of them may not be coming out.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Vote for Bat in the Attic Games

ENnies have come around again. I've never followed them, but last year I was glad to see Swords & Wizardry get a nod. This year I would like to see Rob Conley's Supplement VI Majestic Wilderlands get a nod. So please give him a vote HERE. If you're a fan of his work let the ENnies know.

Name of the Publisher would be: Bat in the Attic Games


Thanks and have a great weekend.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tarot Card Generator

Chaotic Shiny has done it again. Hannah 'Swordgleam' Lipski has created a tarot card generator that should be added to your next game and pretty much every game after that. Like her other generators, the tarot card generator is simple to use, created some very interesting results and most of all useful to any genre.

She breaks the tarot cards generation into four parts, the description, meaning, condition and what's on the back. And you are able to create one to twenty-five cards at a time. Each tarot card is also given a title. The Sleepless Fighter, The Fearful Knave, The enchanted Warlock ect...

The description is just a sentence of what is depicted on the card. I'll use the Sleepless Fighter tarot as an example for the descriptions. The card depicts a tall, pious lass with copper-colored eyes and a shortbow before dawn.

This is followed by a short esoteric of what the card could mean. It is associated with an agreement, physical strength, and wealth. Inverted, it represents fear, an accomplishment, a death, and fire.

The third section is what condition the tarot card is in. I enjoy these descriptions because often the focus is what is on the card. Hannah takes it that other step. The card has a large bloodstain.

And the final section is a short description of what is on the back. Another fantastic addition that normally is not considered. The back is dark grey on grey with a gate.

I encourage everyone to go check out Chaotic Shiny generators. Hannah has produced some of the best gaming generators I've found. And she keeps cranking out new ones. There are a ton of them that are free. And if you haven't bought her Treasure Hoard Generator I recommend you do so. I did a review of it and have been using since then. It adds a depth and odd intresting things I would not normally have come up with. So please check out Chaotic Shiny Productions webpage and have a blast playing with all the generators.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Random Events for Players Arriving in a Village

1 - The village is celebrating the wedding of one of its own. The villagers are in a great mood and welcome the players to join in the celebration. During the celebration the villagers have several contests, a foot race, wrestling, rock throw (both accuracy and distance), and a giant tug of war at the end. The players will be treated as family, fed well and their tankards will never be found empty.

2 - The players see the burnt husks of cabins where the village once stood. Among the ruins the villager bodies can be found, but there are too few bodies. The livestock have fled to the fields which remain untouched. In the middle of the ruins is a spear thrust in the ground with a brown shield hung on it.

3 - The men are working the fields and the women are going about their chores. All the children are all hiding in their homes. As the players enter the village they pay little notice. If approached a villager will look terrified. Some will tremble and be unable to speak, others may feint, and others will cry and ramble on about something horrible in the forest. Within the forest an eldridge creature of nightmares has awaken and has been feeding off the villagers for the past two weeks.

4 - A tinker will approach the players as they near a village and shake his head. I wouldn't go in there. Bad stuff. If he is pressed for more information he will just explain that something ain't right. If the players enter the village they will be greeted with by friendly villagers as they go about their business. They will offer the players the visitors cabin to stay in and invite them to join them for dinner that night. All the villagers meet under an open air pole building to talk about their day. They will ask for stories from the adventurers and any news they might share. The players food will be laced with a subtle poison that will make them very tired. The villagers worship a blood god and need a sacrifice. They don't want to kill the players, but drain some of their blood.

5 - The harvest is in full swing. Villagers are working hard. As the players approach they will see a knight riding his horse across the field at a full gallop. His armor is torn and he shouting warnings to everyone. A few moments la wolf, the size of an elephant pursues him. One of the wolves grabs the closest villagers and swallows him whole.

6 - The local baron is holding court at the village. A local mage is being tried for murder. Many mages are in attendance as well as many local nobility. The tension between between the two groups. This quiet village now has 4x as many people within that usual. It has become an event and craftsmen and merchants are taking advantage of the spectacle.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Planned Projects and More on Artwork

Yesterday I asked about how important is the artwork. There are a ton of folks out there that are fantastic artists, but I don't feel comfortable asking them to donate artwork when I am attempting to sell my product for a small profit. My plan is to build a small war chest from the initial sales so when I decide to finish (an ongoing problem for me) a larger project I can hire some artists.

The projects I am working on are one shot adventures. They are built to be started and completed in an average three hour session. This of course depends on how much BSing occurs. All of them will be able to played separately, but there will be a series that are connected if the GM chooses to. Because of their length and the layout I am using I don't think there will be a 'wall of text' to contend with.

During that time I will be contact some artists on-line and see what the prices are. I really have no clue at what a quarter page ink costs or a full color cover. So I will be learning this as I go. I want to thank everyone for their feedback yesterday. I was much appreciated.

It's Wednesday, I'm at work and all I want to do right now is edit my adventure, look up a creature that I forgot to do last night and go to my haven of a bookstore and drink a very expensive drink.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How Important is Artwork?

While I am working on my next project, a short adventure, I am wondering how important art is to those of you out in gaming land. I know it is important to the more professional companies, but what about the little guy starting out. Since my war chest is nearly empty (because I am addicted to RPGNow, love that site) I don't have the money to buy original drawings. Sure I could fish around on the net and find common domain medieval woodcuttings that we have all seen a hundred times, but is it that important that I fill space with reruns. To me it's like watching the same episode of Frazier for the umpteenth time. I appreciate the woodcuttings and the episode where Frazier and Niles attempt to write a book, but my time and your time could definitely be used better.

This is not a shot at art not being important. Rob is currently working on his Scourge of the Demon Wolf Adventure and he contracted a couple of local guys to his art. They've done an incredible job. Their visuals have really enhanced the adventure. Rob earned enough from his Majestic Wilderlands sales to contract them. In the Majestic Wilderlands Supplement Rob used the medieval woodcuttings, Renaissance paintings and some of his homemade sketches. I think artwork was needed for his book because of the length and that is was jam packed with information. But for the short adventure I am developing I don't think it's needed.

I considered my hand at a few of my own sketches, but here is why I won't. I've never bought a product because of the art, but I have not bought a product because of the art. In other words I don't want it to look cheap and amateurish. I'd rather have a clean look. Another reason I prefer this is it is more printer friendly. Printing out pictures you have seen a ton of times and probably has nothing to do with the adventure is a waste of money. I am blogging away to ask a question as I often do. To me it makes complete sense to approach the creation of my adventure this way, but as being one of the lousiest business men in the world I do like to hear opinions of others. In cases like this I am well aware I am too focused and close to see other possibilities so I ask to those out there that are in the business or interested in buying one of my adventures how important is the artwork?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Wine Crier

The wine crier is often overlooked when it comes to medieval occupations. The town crier gets all the publicity. I'm here to give a shout out (pun is intended) to the wine crier. I'll name my imaginary wine crier Herbert and go through an imaginary day.

Herbert awakens earlier to prepare himself. His monthly bath was taken ten days ago so he is still good. He grabs his red tunic and tall feather cap, symbols of his profession. He needs to stand out in a crowd. He brushes of the dust off from yesterday's work and any bugs that have embedded themselves into the fabric. Then he opens a small locked chest with the tools of his trade, a leather flagon and a small metal cup. Dressed and armed with his tools he leaves his home to consider which taverns he should try.

The Yellow Belly Son of a Coward Tavern was closed down after the owner was chased away by rodents of unusual size. Too bad he still has two barrels of Cliffendour Wine. Herbert nods at a passing patrol of city guards.
"What is your choice this morn Herbert?" One of the guards asks. "Yet to be determined my brave friend. Listen for my song in an hour's time."

The Rusty Keg Tavern was rumored to have gotten a keg of the Red Sorstrum Wine. Herbert turns into the Rusty Keg and sighs when he sees Randal standing there in a newer red shirt and a taller feathered cap. Randal preferred to be called Raven. "I'm surprised to see you so early this morning, Randal." Randal turned and smiled. "I'm surprised to see you so late this morning Hubert." "It's Herbert." Randal shrugs his shoulders. "I've already gotten the commission for the day."

After a few moments considering what Randal would like bleeding from the head, Herbert turned and considered a new course of action. He could return to the Gored Tusk, but the wine was uninspiring and lacked any real surprise. He always ordered the local White Foal wine or what the locals call Swamp Water. It does not good for the reputation of a wine crier to have the samplers spitting wine on your boots.

Temple of Grog came into view. He stood outside for a moment and considered how he would approach the owner who was difficult to understand. They had decent enough wine and even smart enough to buy a few exotics when caravans came in, but their religious angle always disturbed Herbert. He straightened his leather flagon and hat and walked in. Two men were bowed at the waist with their shaved heads touching, hands tied behind their backs as they grunted and appeared to be pushing one another over. Herbert cleared his throat and wished he'd stayed in bed. "Good day my friends. I am here to sample today's wine." The taller of the two shaved head men looked up as the other one fell to the floor. "Herbert. How are the gods treating you these days?" "As if I were a privy." "I have a wine for you to sample." The owner looked excited. Herbert wished he could remember the owner's, it was something like Moon Friend. "I have made my own wine." "Oh," Herbert tried to sound pleasantly surprised, but it came out more of a whimper. "Would you mind untying me?" Herbert untied Moon Friend. "I've had it blessed by all the temples so all the gods favor this wine. I call it super ambrosia." "Ah yes, the addition of super is always a clever strategy." Herbert groaned inside. When Moon Friend opened the barrel the soupy green liquid burped up bubbles that released a horrible stench. Herbert could not stifle his gasp. "I feel I have wasted your time my friend. My stomach has suddenly taken a turn for the worst." He fled the Temple of Grog trying to wipe the smell from his nose.

Herbert saw George, another wine crier heading into the Misty Tankard only a few steps ahead of him. He reconsidered the time he needed to start the day. He once was the first to arrive at taverns and he could pick and choose who he worked for, but the number of wine criers grew and it has become a cutthroat business. The purity of the profession has become diluted like most of the wines these days. It no longer was about the wine, but more of a footrace.

Herbert decided to backtrack towards the Gored Tusk. He sighed and went inside. Prather stood behind the bar, he smiled when he saw Herbert and patted the small cask. "I've been waiting for you all morning Herbert. You're late." "My apologies." Herbert looked at the cask curiously. The expert craftsman of the keg alone got him excited. "What vintage is this?" Prather filled a goblet, "You tell me." The glorious scent of fruits and woods fill his nostrils. "By all the good gods this is the elven wine of the Forest Lords." Prather nodded. "And I've bought several casks so I expect you to sing their virtues until they are all sold."

The wine crier spends the rest of the day out on the street providing samples to people and singing the virtues of the wine, telling stories to drive the people into the host tavern. So in your next game don't forget to employ a few wine criers for your town. They add a lot of color and fun for a street encounter.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cleaning Out the Gaming Shelves

I hope everyone has a very good 4th this weekend. I plan on spending some of the time going through my gaming book shelf. I’ve been buying a lot of different things these days and I need to see what I have. It’s a great time to do it since I am switching my room around so time to do some sorting and getting rid of some stuff I have lost interest in. I may do something fun with them on this blog. I’m not sure what yet, but if anyone has a suggestion please fire away.

Within this month I am hoping to release my first adventure module for sale on RPGNow. Rob suggested I also put it on Lulu. I also plan to release another short adventure for free to download. I’m a man with a billion almost done projects and I’m finally focused enough to get them finished. You have been warned.

And any of you who used my Starter Adventures please drop me a comment on how you used them and if they worked out.

Now go grill up a hot dog, hamburger, steak or if you a vegetarian on of those soy things they mold to look like real food. Watch some fireworks. Don’t get too drunk. And scheme up something very cool for your next adventure.