Monday, November 29, 2010

Brisco's Eleven-Foot Pole

Howdy mighty adventurer, have I got the latest and greatest dungeon delving tool for you, Brisco's Eleven-Foot Pole.  You might be asking why our eleven-foot pole is different from the other ten-foot poles.  Simple, our pole goes to eleven.

Brisco's Eleven-Foot Pole can collapse into a one-foot rod making transportation easier and can double as a club.  When crawling through narrow caverns or passages the last thing an adventurer needs is to have his tools hinder as will normal ten-foot poles will do.  With an easy pull of a lever the pole shrinks into a one-foot pole in an instant.  The lever has a lock down recess that will keep unwanted shrinkage from happening.    

Brisko's Eleven-Foot can also be used as a ladder.  Small pegs hidden within the pole can be extracted to provide footholds.  No more waiting at the bottom of a pit while being heckled by party members to lower a rope. 

A pair of new features recently developed and provided for no additional charge is a continual light spell at the end of Brisco's Eleven-Foot Pole, that can be covered by an assortment of several decorative caps.   Each cap can also be used at a projectile by simply shrinking the Brisco Pole to its one-foot section then expanding the pole causing to cap to launch itself at your intended target. 

With Brisko's Eleven-Foot Pole you get the convenience of it collapsing into a one-foot club, the ability to turn into a ladder, a continual light spell, and three decorative caps that can be used as missiles.  Brisco's Eleven-Foot Pole can be yours for only 100gp or in four easy installments of 25gp.  Now if that weren't enough, Brisko has added four of his Brisko's All-Purpose Iron Spikes.  These spikes were given the Adventurer's Reliability Award four years running.  Order now while supplies last.

Customer Reviews
 101 out of 103 adventurers found this review helpful
** Frozen Lever and Tacky Caps by Amork "Stoner" Stonehill
While traveling through the frozen Fortuary Pass our party came across a tribe of snow trolls I tried to use the 'projectile cap' option but the cold weather had froze the lever.  It wouldn't budge.  Although I like the convenience of its size and weight, the continual light spell is more of a nuisance spoiling my dark vision and the decorative caps are embarrassingly tacky.  I had one of my buddies whip up a pair of caps that looks better and are more accurate.   Although I am not impressed with the eleven-foot pole it is useful, but combine it with a set of Brisko's Iron Spikes (they rule!) the 100gp price is a bit high, but worth it.

91 out of 96 adventurers found this review helpful
*****I wish I had bought Brisko's Eleven-Foot Pole a hundred years ago by Ephemeral Lightleaf
Eleven is better.  I use this at home, at work and on weekends when my friends and I decide to go south and have a go at the Caves of Chaos.  I've got most of Brisko's products and have never been disappointed.

0 out of 323 adventurers found this review helpful
No Starz by GruGunk
Brisco sukz.  I got yur 11 foot pole rite here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Organizing My PDFs

I've taken a part of my extended weekend to go through the ton of PDFs I have collected over the past few years.  I have condensed the binders down from 18 to 12 to make more space on my gaming shelves, which is at a premium.  I've gone through and thinned out the ones I haven't used and won't.  Some were just bad.  I have a collection of random tables ones I've gotten from other blogs and have given credit to those who wrote them, but some I just don't remember.  If you see one of yours in my list and I haven't named you please let me know so I can do so.

Purple Binder: Random Generators
1.       100 Tavern Features by *
2.       Tavern Tables by Chaotic Shiny Productions
3.       Interesting/Unusual Island Characteristics
4.       Hex Dressing Table by *
5.       Quick NPC Personalities by *
6.       50 Paladin Hooks by Campaign Mastery
7.       50 Barbarian Hooks by Campaign Mastery
8.       54 Sorcerer Hooks by Campaign Mastery
9.       25 Cleric Hooks by Campaign Mastery
10.    Dungeons, Towns and Wildernesses Tables by *
11.    Random NPCs by *
12.    Beyond the Black Gate Compendium 2009 by Al Krombach
13.    PC Events: Illusionist by Al Krombach
14.    PC Events: Fighting-Man by Al Krombach
15.    PC Events: Druid by Al Krombach
16.    PC Events: Cleric by Al Krombach
17.    PC Events: Assassins by Al Krombach
18.    The Dungeon Alphabet by Michael Curtis
20.    Fantasy Occupations by ADM
21.    One Million Magic Items by ADM

Green Binder
2.       The Kobold Guide to Game Design, Volume 2: How to Pitch, Playtest & Publish by Wolfgang Baur with Nickolas Logue
3.       The Kobold Guide to Game Design, Volume 3: Tools and Techniques by Wolfgang Baur, Monte Cook, Ed Greenwood, Rob Heinsoo and Colin McComb

Burgundy Binder
1.       NPC Essentials by Johnn Four
2.       Basic Gamemaster by Chaosium
3.       Robin's Laws to Good Game Mastering by Robin D. Laws
4.       Tavern Denizens: Book 1 - The Dives by Generic Universe Publishing

Green Binder
1.       City Builder Volume 1: Communities by Michael J. Varhola, Jim Clunie and the Skirmisher Game Development Group
2.       City Builder Volume 2: Craftsman Places by Michael J. Varhola, Jim Clunie and the Skirmisher Game Development Group
3.       City Builder Volume 3: Entertainment Places by Michael J. Varhola, Jim Clunie and the Skirmisher Game Development Group
4.       City Builder Volume 4: Professional Places by Michael J. Varhola, Jim Clunie and the Skirmisher Game Development Group
5.       City Builder Volume 5: Tradesman Places by Michael J. Varhola, Jim Clunie and the Skirmisher Game Development Group
6.       City Builder Volume 6: Mercantile Places by Michael J. Varhola, Jim Clunie and the Skirmisher Game Development Group
7.       City Builder Volume 7: Service Places by Michael J. Varhola, Jim Clunie and the Skirmisher Game Development Group
8.       City Builder Volume 8: Scholarly Places by Michael J. Varhola, Jim Clunie and the Skirmisher Game Development Group
9.       City Builder Volume 9: Religious Places by Michael J. Varhola, Jim Clunie and the Skirmisher Game Development Group
10.    City Builder Volume 10: Governmental Places by Michael J. Varhola, Jim Clunie and the Skirmisher Game Development Group
11.    City Builder Volume 11: Underworld Places by Michael J. Varhola, Jim Clunie and the Skirmisher Game Development Group

Black Binder
1.       ePublishing Secrets by 12 to Midnight
2.       ePublishing 101 by Gareth-Michael Skarka ADM

Burgundy Binder
1.       ePublisher Guide by OneBookShelf Inc.
2.       ePublisher PDF Creator by OneBookShelf Inc.

Blue Binder
1.       Goods and Gear: The Ultimate Adventurer's Guide by Mark Plemmons and Brian Jelke

Green Binder
1.       GURPS, Psionic Powers by Jason Levine
2.       GURPS, Power Ups: Perks by Sean Punch
3.       GURPS, Power Ups: Imbuements by Sean Punch

 Yellow Binder
1.       GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 1 Adventures by Sean Punch
2.       GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 2 Dungeons by Sean Punch
3.       GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 8 Treasure Tables by Matt Riggsby
4.       GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 10 Taverns by Jason 'PK' Levine and Loren K. Wiseman
5.       GURPS Fantasy-Tech 1: The Edge of Reality by Matt Riggsby

Thursday, November 25, 2010

They're Always So Mean To Each Other

Day off.  Watching a little football and decided to watch something else.  I thought about watching Spartacus (btw it looks completely amazing on bluray) when Ivy says, "Don't watch that.  They're always so mean to each other."  You know, I had no argument.  They are mean. lol   Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"I Got About 10 Points of I Wanna Beat You with a Stick Left"

Get a good laugh here...

Again I can't figure out how to add a video, but this one is funny as hell.  Too bad his boots of his escaping didn't work better.  Anyway, thought it would be a good laugh before the frantic cooking of Thanksgiving begins.   

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Critical Hits and Fumbles for Spells

More on the magic system I am in the process of developing.  I am implementing a roll to activate the spell.  Meaning no more automatic successes for magic-users who want to whip out a spell.  Spells will have a difficulty level depending on their level and other circumstances will effect the roll.  A quick note before I go on, my system uses spell points to determine if a magic-user is able to cast a spell therefore if a 1st level mage has learned the spell and somehow acquired enough points to cast a 6th level spell he may do so.  Here is the run down of difficulty levels (DL) and what would enhance the outcome.

0-level - 8 D, 1st level - 10 DL, 2nd level - 11 DL, 3rd level - 12 DL,
4th level - 13 DL, 5th level - 14 DL, 6th level - 15 DL, 7th level - 16 DL, 8th level - 17 DL, 9th level - 18 DL

- For every level of the magic-user get +1 to the roll.
- Caster adds his intelligence bonus to the roll.
- Spell specialization bonus.
- The caster suffers -1 to the roll for every point of damage taken during the combat.
- The caster suffers -1 for every spell he is maintaining.

A 1 is always a failure and a 20 is always a success.  Each spell has a critical failure or success result.  In case of a regular failure the spell points are expended, but the spell does not discharge.  A success and the spell goes off as planned.

The other wrinkle I put in is that mage's need to hit with their spells.  Not automatic hits with missile weapon or even a placement of a fireball.  He must roll 'to hit'.  So a mage may have critically succeeded in casting a magic missile, so its charged up to do max damage, it still needs to hit its target.  When mage attacks with a spell he gains his level and intelligence bonus (like in the roll above) to hit.  But it is possible to critically succeed on casting the fireball and maxing out the damage, but if the mage fail's to target it correctly it could explode at the party's feet.  Magic is fickle what can I say.  And as for any roll, the 'to hit' roll can have a critical hit or miss.  A critical hit with a magic missile may cripple the limb it hits, knock a person prone if it hits the chest, or knock a person out if it hits the head.

Like I said, its a process and something I still need to playtest.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monster Vault

Another 4th Edition box set has hit the shelves at my not so local Borders.  It's tagged a $29.99, but armed with a 33% coupon and about $8 dollars in the gift card managed to get this for $12 out of pocket.  The price of the AD&D PHB and MM back, back, way back in the day.  If I played 4th Edition I think the $30 price tag would be fair, but since I don't play 4th edition I was only willing to get it for the reduced price.  And it is worth it.  What irked the shit out of me is as soon as I got out of my car I dropped it and scrunched in two corners. 

The main reason why I bought it were the monster tokens.  There are 10 sheets of excellent artwork on sturdy tokens.  I gave my miniatures to Rob years ago because 1) I don't have the space to keep them 2) I don't have the room to store all the paints and dodads you need 3) I don't like painting miniatures.  These tokens are a nice replacement not requiring much space and no painting.  They suit my needs just fine.  There is a wide variety and I like that the three different size tokens, plus they have a handful of 'rings' that makes smaller creatures larger. 

Also included in the box is the adventure, Cairn of the Winter King.  A predictable, but not bad adventure for 4th level characters.  It looks easy enough to convert to S&W or OSRIC.  It's definitely an adventure by the numbers, but most of 4th edition modules I have or read are set up this way.  There is a flip map to assist the adventure.  It provides the location when the undead ship arrives and attacks the town and a portion of the dungeon on the other side.  I wish the map was more generic or been large enough to include the entire dungeon doesn't make much sense to just have it include just a few of the rooms.

Lastly, the Monster Vault book itself.  It has an owlbear as the featured monster on the cover.  That's 4th edition tugging on my old school heart strings.  It's a large digest size book fashioned in the same manner as the Rules Compendium.  A thick and sturdy book with tons of monster stats I have absolutely no use for.  But it has bits and pieces of descriptions of the critters and I always like the small twists of monster ecologys. 

Everything in the Monster Vault, including the box (which I dropped and it still irks me) is top quality stuff.  My main reason for getting this was for the tokens and I am not disappointed.  The adventure is good and it will be easy for me to convert and the monster book has a lot of great artwork and I'm sure will be a good read.  Getting this for only $12 was a good deal.  The $30 price tag would have been too high since I don't play 4th edition, but if I did play 4th edition then I would have had no problem paying it for this product.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Villains, S&W Style

We all need villains or at least someone to go up against the players.  This is a low level group of well organized highwaymen.  They are not outright evil and they do have some morals about who they steal from and those they hurt.  I often like providing rivals shades of gray to make them more rounded and interesting.  Having a notorious group of robbers who will not harm women and children provides a quality maybe not expected.  The stats provided and equipment are straight out of the Swords & Wizardry rulebook. 

Borsko Brothers
These five brothers are the sons of Kord the Brigand, one of the most infamous outlaws in the kingdom recently captured and executed without trial.  The local nobility did not want to give sympathizers a chance to free the charismatic criminal.  The five brothers Malcolm, Shifter, Willem, Ash and Nickolas have taken up their father's mantle.  The brothers are solemn, strong and intelligent.  They are serious about their business and plan their heists in great detail.  They have escape plans prepared if something goes wrong and plans should one or more get captured.  Because of their cautiousness and extensive planning, their plans usually succeed.  The brothers have killed, but will avoid it if possible.  They will not attack women or children unless attacked themselves.  They conduct themselves professionally trying to put their victims at easy.  Or in the case of an armored patrol, they will attack quick and hard to demoralize the guards.

2nd level Fighter
S: 13, I: 14, W: 9, D: 9, C: 10, Ch: 10
HP: 10, AC: 4 (15), Dam: 1d6+2, SV: 13
Equipment: +1 chainmail, +1 spear

Malcolm, the oldest, has developed a small, but effective group of informants.  He gets the latest information on caravans departing or arriving.  He also has a handful of city guards on his payroll.  Malcolm pays them well to keep them faithful.  He lives by his father's credo no being greedy that is better to sip from the people pockets so they never go empty instead of taking it all at once and pay your men first.  When jobs are discussed among the brothers and if there is an argument Malcolm is deciding vote.

4th level Thief
S: 13, I: 12, W: 10, D: 14, C: 8, Ch: 6
HP: 10, AC: 3 (16), Dam: 1d4+3, SV: 12
Equipment: +2 leather armor, +1 ring of protection, +2 dagger, Boots of Elvenkind

Shifter is the most experienced of the group having been in the thieves' guild for a few years before going independent with his brothers.  Although the guild was not pleased he had kept them content by feeding some of the information on possible jobs the brothers do not have the resources to do.  Shifter has a few enemies within the guild, namely a man called Red Wind, his former partner who resents Shifter's leaving.  Shifter is excellent at entering and leaving a place without being noticed.  Shifter is not well liked because of his abrasive personality, picking out every small negative detail or creating one when none are available.  Even his brothers threaten his with violence after so long.

3rd level Fighter
S: 13, I: 12, W: 9, D: 8, C: 13, Ch: 8
HP: 21, AC: 4 (15) or 2 (17) w/shield, Dam: 1d8+2 w/sword or 1d6 w/bow, SV: 12
Equipment: +2 Chainmail, +1 Shield, +1 Longsword, Bow, 20 Arrows

The quietest brother.  Like the others, he is intelligent, but will only speak if there is a flaw in a plan.  Willem is the brother they send if killing needs done.  He approaches every job with a cold detachment that sometimes bothers the other brothers.  He doesn't care for the money or luxuries they earn, only to keep his sword sharp and his armor in top condition. 

2nd level Thief
S: 13, I: 11, W: 10, D: 15, C: 12, Ch: 13
HP: 6, AC: 5 (14), Dam: 1d6, SV: 14
Equipment: +1 Leather Armor, Short Sword

Ash is the brother with the most personality and is often the one who scouts a place.  He is very likable, often buys people drinks.  His weakness is the women.  He can distracted by a wink or a sway of a woman's hips.  Malcolm has taken him to task about this a few times and even have set him up to show him the dangers of his obsession.  Ash is serious because his brothers are always serious, but likes to have a good laugh when they are not around. 

3rd level Fighter
S: 16, I: 7, W: 9, D: 11, C: 14, Ch: 11
HP: 21, AC: 0 (19) w/axe or 3 (16), Dam: 1d8+4, SV: 12
Equipment: +2 Chainmail, +3 Battle Axe*
*This is the Battle Axe of the Betrayer, the +3 bonus is for to hit, damage and to armor class.  It is a cursed item and it slowly works on the wielder's mind making him paranoid especially those closest to him.  So far Nickolas has been able to resist the axe's powers, but he is beginning to believe Malcolm is plotting to kill him.

Nickolas is the brute of the brothers.  The youngest and largest.  He does not look like the others and becomes angry when someone mentions this.  He was trained to use the axe by his father's best friend and fought one season with the mercenary company, The Blood Wolves.  He still has many friends in the Blood Wolves and will hire them when a job needs extra muscle.  He is unaware of what the axe is doing to him.

Monday, November 15, 2010

GURPS, 4th Edition, and Playtesting for Goodman Games

Friday and Saturday I traveled to Erie to take part in the convention, or more accurately, days of gaming.  Rob and I went up together on Friday to play a game of GURPS.  In the description it said it was an introduction to GURPS to players who hadn't tried the system.  Since it was the only game running that night and a rare opportunity that Rob and I get to play together (instead of one of us being a GM) we went.  We weren't about to let our 20 years of playing GURPS get in the way.
We were the only ones to show for the games.  The GM was Jim I guy I'd met during the other days of gaming in Erie.  We fessed up at the beginning that we weren't newbs and told him we'd been playing since the 2nd edition of GURPS.  His response was "I hope this doesn't suck then."  "Not to worry," I said.  "We're here to roll dice and have fun.  And I hope Rob does something embarrassing so I can blog about it."  He didn't.  Jim brought us in each two GURPS books to have!  The remarkable part is I didn't have either of them, I got Rogues and the other was Monsters.  So thank you Jim.

The game itself was a simple play by number adventure that had been in the books as an example for years.  Rob and entered a house started stealing things.  That is until we ran into Max the sleeping guard with the large scimitar.  We ended up killing him which cost us reward points in the end.  It was a short night, but I got some other goodies also.  I found random hit location dice, trap dice and random dungeon dice. 

Saturday I rushed to Erie to get to the Swords & Wizardry game at 9am.  I skipped breakfast because I was running late.  I got there and the GM never showed.  Determined not to let that spoil my day I hooked up with a 4th edition game at the next table.  I played a swordmage, I think.  It was fun just to play.  I'm still not a fan of the 4th edition, but the GM did a great job and the other two guys in the party were good.  I planned on playing a Savage World, Hellfrost game, but the 4th edition ran over an hour and the Hellfrost filled up. 

Once that game was done I was starved so I thought I'd go find something to eat.  Then I saw Rob setting up for one of his games.  He told me to join because they were going to play the Goodman game retro game now instead of at 7pm.  I wanted to play that so I starved more.  We had a full table for this one.  Al from Beyond the Black Gate joined us.  I won't go into too many details about the game because I am sure Rob will give full details of it.  My impression of the was a mixed bag for me.  There were some things I liked and some I didn't care for.  Since I am not sure how many details I can give I won't say too much, but we had a great time.  Started out with 10 guys and ran out with 3.

The good thing about running the game early is I got to go home at 7pm instead of 12am.  So I could finally eat.  I hope your weekends went well and the gaming was as good as mine. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Top Monsters

What monsters do you favor when developing an adventure?  Maybe there is a monster that you like the idea of, but never come up against or used as much as you have liked.  I know there is a list for me that is a mixture of both, ones I like and ones I like the idea.

Cyclops - One of my favorite creatures since I was kid watching Ray Harryhausen do his magic.  I always thought the cyclops was an underutilized monster.  Recently, in the Kingmaker Adventure Path by Pazio the boss for the 3rd in the path, The Varnhold Vanishing had a cyclopean lich.  Yeah, it is cool.

Doppelgangers - Another underutilized mid level ranged creature that I think can add a ton to an adventure and the overall campaign.  My god the havoc they can spread.  Taking the form of this or that person.  They are walking virus of paranoia.

Devourer - This one would be more in the line of a monster I like the idea of, but I have never put it in an adventure and never came across one.  But the concept of this undead definitely has it making the list.

Owlbear - This one is the first monster I remember from playing in the very early days.  I dunno there is something about the simplicity of the odd mixture of the two creatures that I like.  Plus it was my first.  You never forget your first, unless you drink too much.

And Goblins - The simplicity and flexibility of goblins makes them a favorite over the orcs.  They can be fierce little obstacles that can throw hundreds of bodies at a problem or in my world there are large groups who adapt to living next to other races and the ultimate scavengers of culture.  They make good companions and comic relief. 

What are you top five monsters?  Hell, I might try to figure out that poll thing-a-ma-bob and add it on the side for people to vote.  But what monsters do you like the fight or put in your adventures?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You Vets

Having a Master Sargeant in the Marines in our gaming group and a friend for more years than I can count I would be a bad, bad person and friend not to thank him and all the other vets out there.  I know there are more than a few gamers out there who serve or who did serve so thanks to all of you out there.  The work that has been done, the work that is ongoing and the work that needs to be done in the future is appreciated.  Again, thank you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Not Your Standard Adventure Introduction

The following is an introduction to a module I wrote when I was a fairly aggressive mood.  It was a lot of fun.  I thought how good it would be to read this at the beginning of an adventure instead of all the standard yapping.  

This adventure is not for sensitive people.  This adventure is not for politically correct people.  This adventure is not for polite people.  I’ve done my best to offend everyone equally.  Enjoy.

A Welcome
If your players are looking for a smash and slash, blood soaked walls, big monsters with big treasure and a body count so high that you need a 16 intelligence to calculate it, then you’ve come to the right place.  Welcome to the adventure, Midnight Tower of the Mind Zombies!  I love that title and not ashamed to admit it.

I’m not going to bother with a background.  Blah, blah, blah.  To hell with the background.  It doesn’t need a background.   No reason is needed.  It’s there because it’s there.  If you need a reason then play Harn or 4th Edition D&D.  No whiners, wussies or LARPers allowed.  This adventure is not for those who need to know, but those who need to do.  Get ready to kick in doors, kill hundreds of critters and if you can survive, walk away with more treasure than your greedy little arms can carry.

DM Rules

1st Rule
No hiding your dice rolls behind a stupid screen.  If you roll three natural 20s in a row and decapitate the cleric so be it.  The player has dice he can roll up another one.  Don’t you dare fudge your rolls.  GMs need to be ruthless.  Don’t waste your time reading all those sensitive blogs about how a GM should give the players a chance and that you are the storyteller.  It’s you against them.  A GM should take advantage of every ruling, situation and use magic items and spells to their full potential.   A character graveyard has been included.  It’s your job to fill it.

2nd Rule
There is no sleeping in the Midnight Tower of the Mind Zombies!  There is no recovering spells as they peacefully slumber.  GMs don’t check for wandering monsters, there WILL be wandering monsters.  Every time a bedroll hits the floor a GM should be calculating how many ghouls come screaming down the corridor ramming the door.  No sleep.  Even if the players come up with some genius way to keep everything out there is still a matter of Methuselah at the bottom of the dungeon handing out nightmares like apples with razor blades on Halloween. 

3rd Rule
Third rule is that every wall, floor and ceiling is fair game.  The players can chop, dig, burn, and disintegrate their way through the tower.  Everything in the adventure is meant to be destroyed.  As can the creatures within the dungeon.  Doors and stairs are merely suggestions.  If the players want to dig a hole in the floor to drop into the next level, let them.  Be sure to surprise them with a few walls collapsing beside them as a hundred liches pour out of the hole.

4th Rule
Have a lot of miniatures.  Get every damn miniature you have.  Don’t get uptight about the paint.  This is battle, paint gets chipped and those stupidly thin crossbows, spears and swords are going to break off.  Let it go.  God made glue from dead horses so you can repair them later.  As I told you in the beginning this adventure is not for the weak willed, this means GMs too.  If I someone complains about a paint chip on a miniature throw them out of the game immediately.  If you as the GM utter a single word you will not be permitted to run The Midnight Tower of the Mind Zombies ever again.

5th Rule
Traps are save vs. dead.  Don’t coddle the players.  It's disgusting.  The character graveyard is there for a reason.  Characters need to die, they know this.  Give them what they want.  Let them see 50d6s roll across the table as a 10 ton block falls fifty feet onto a character.  It is a sight they won’t soon forget.  Dice requirements are listed later.

6th Rule
When a player does something incredibly stupid or fails at a critical moment the GM will award the player a Ribbon of Suck.  If a character earns a third Ribbon of Suck he dies of humiliation and cannot be resurrected.  His soul is forever destroyed by the gods as being a mistake that should have never been created. 

Don’t look for ecological, physiological or theosophical reasons why the creatures are where they are and what they are doing.  The creatures exist to kill the characters.   
There are skill challenges included in the descriptions.  If you have a problem with skills, get over it.  If you don’t think a thief is a class, but being an elf or dwarf is, then go back to your crayons.  Its big boy time.  Go eat at the little table while the adults play a serious game.  

Most adventures will tell the GM to alter anything to fit their setting.  Screw that.  Run it as written.  Don’t cut down the number of monsters, don’t reduce the damage done from a trap and don’t let them sleep.  Don’t touch a damn thing.  Leave it be.  Run it.  Count the bodies.  Laugh with mad joy as the character sheets pile up in the graveyard.  A GM should take great pleasure in killing the players.  A loud laugh lets them know their pathetic death was not in vain.  Rejoice the deaths and don’t touch one fricking word.

Now go get every die and miniature you have.  Borrow more.  Buy more.  Pile the dice in front of you.  Intimidate them with the sheer volume and when they ask just smile.  They’ll find out soon enough.  When they see the character graveyard let them read the names of the fallen on the tombstone.  Feed on their fear.  You will be gorged before the first encounter is over.