Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Monster Hunter: New Class

After a confab with my friend Rob (Bat in the Attic) he was able to help me hone a character class I'm making.  First off, I don't usually make my own classes cause I'm lousy at it.  But, I think this one is fairly cool.

After creating the character for Ken's one-shot adventure, a cleric whose god is a monster hunter.  So I thought it might be cool to create an actually class around the concept.  After some discussion I think I have it the way I want it.

I don't try to balance player classes.  I just, for the very few I've made, just make them to be fun.  Sometimes I go overboard with do-dads and cool things and that's why I called Rob on Skype and asked for a little help. 

The basic jist of it is a cleric class that, you'll be shocked, is a monster hunter.  His religious duty is the cleanse the land of critters.  In this class I will not define what a monster is, GM can do that.  Let him fight with his player about what qualifies.  I've combined the cleric and the ranger class a bit and he will have access to a special spell list that will include magic-user spells.  These guys are offensive in nature.  if you're looking for a medic, keep looking.

And I've tweaked the turning ability for him.  I think the effect will be cool.  There are four circles of station within the religion and tests the monster hunter must pass before moving into the next circle.  

I'm writing it up as a S&W Complete class.  It'll be the final piece to the issue 3 puzzle.  I swear it's cool.

Monsters by eMail

Before I say a damn thing just look at these pictures.


These are just a couple sampling of monsters Nicholas is going to send you in an email.

Okay, here's how it works.  It's a subscription.  You send in $2.50 a month (its in blocks of $10 for 4 months) and he sends you 4 to 6 critters month.  Half of what he sends you hr retains the rights to and the other half you can use.  He's got a good use of license included that's very fair.  I'm looking at these guys and thinking how one or two could grace the pages of an issue of The Manor.

So for $2.50 a month your only paying .40 to .60 cents per picture.  Its going to be hard to find a better deal.  And the quality of these bad boys is amazing.  You'll be getting these at 7000 pixels!

I think this is a smart idea.  Charging a low price while getting great value for your money and do it all through a easy to do subscription base.  And there's more.  If he get 2000 subscribers after, your subscription becomes free.  So how that works is I got an email and I am the 379th person whose shown interest and will be subscribing.  So when the 2379th person subscribes mine becomes free.  I'm not too worried about getting a free script, but I think its a cool carrot for subscribers.

So go over to Monsters by eMail and all you need to do it look around for 2 minutes and all you need to do it email Nicholas with INTERESTED in the subject.

Frick'n A these critters a fantastic.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Moleskin Maps: Volume Three

Matt Jackson released the third volume of Moleskin Maps.  If you are in the need for maps, and if your gamer you can never have enough maps, go to RPGNow, plop down $2.99 of fake money (cause when you buy stuff over the internet it doesn't really count) and receive 10 maps and each map has a write up sheet to make quick work of an adventure.

These maps are ideal if you're a GM and need something quick for your game night.  I've used Matt's maps several times and what's great about them is they are small and manageable at a glance.  And don't confuse their small size with blandness.  Each map has its own unique personality.  When I look at Matt's maps I intuitively think that's where the roper goes, loot there, good place for a trap and maybe a room for some grunts for the players to kill.  Bam!  Within 10 seconds of looking at his maps I have an adventure.  It's like magic.

If you starting or in the middle of a campaign do yourself a favor and pick up Moleskin Maps: Volume Three or two or one or all of them.  It will make your adventure planning easier so you have more time to plan out your next TPK.  For the low price of $2.99 you're getting hell of a good value for your money.

A Gnome's Hole Fetish and Elven Skeletons

Last night we had out AD&D over on Roll d20.  Ken was the GM.  Dan and I were players and about half way through Rob joined in.  We tracked the orcs through a gully, but then found a trail of blood and lots of little arrows.  Poisoned arrows.  Tracking the blood we found an orc shaman ready to die, but got lots of information.  His group were ambushed by a group of kobolds.  The orcs lair was hidden underground, its entrance hidden by shrubbery (being Holy Grail imitations now).  There were 25 orcs total, of which they had fallen into worshiping something they discovered in their underground lair.

After sending the shaman to his one-eyed mother, we proceeded and I quote, "I'm a gnome, I wanna go in the hole."  Dan's gnome illusionist/thief made it known.

The short of it was we killed eight orcs and three skeletons.  One of which show flames at us.  And then this gray blobby thing.  I think that may have been the entity the orcs were worshiping.  I found an odd, but cool mace, +1, +2 vs kobold and elves and it detected undead in a 30' radius 3/day.  An odd combination.  And when we fought the skeletons I still believe they were elven skeletons.  The GM said no, but we know how GMs are.  Pffft.  I collected about 40gp and 20sp in spending cash.

Our red shirts turned out to be quality guys.  While I was rolling single digits during battle they were scoring hits regularly.

Fun was had by all.

The Roll d20 worked fairly well.  Although it seems easier in some ways and clumsier in other ways.  I still think Fantasy Grounds is the way to go for VTT.  The flexibility, built in ruleset and tools are a huge asset.  Plus, if I have to roll virtual dice FG has an excellent  simulator.  Roll d20 I was typing in /roll d20 a lot and always messing that up.  I like just grabbing the computer d20 and let fly.  And it never rolls off the table. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Game Night Sub

I've been absent for two weeks from our Monday Night game.  Although last week we didn't play so I guess I get a pass on that one.  Tonight our group starts again, but because Rob has to race pine cars for cub scouts Ken 'The Rusty Battle Axe' Harrison is taking over the GM reins and doing a one-shot AD&D game.  He sent out an email on how to create my character which I did in this post.  I created Adzeer Mattui, Hunter of the First Circle.  A cleric whose god is a monster hunter.

It looks like most of our group will be occupied this week.  I believe there will be and one other player, Dan, who'll be joining in.  Ken said he would provide us with some 'red shirts'.  Much appreciated.

I've only had a short experience before with Ken GMing and he was using a can module that was, hmm, how shall I say, sucked the balls off a toad.  Ken's portrayal of the NPCs was great, just the plot lines of the module were weak.  I'm looking forward to see what he comes up with.  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

You Wanted It, You Got It, Stashe Sunday

 Okay, this is has been weird Google ganking dudes with stashes.  I tried to focus my search on those of the 70s.  The last entry is from the 1470s, but the 70s none the less.  I've got a good mixture or movies, sports, music, porn, television and comedy.  While not complete, I think this collection should satisfy any stashe cravings you have.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Manor #3 Cover

Here is the cover for issue #3.  The wife drew the skull and there are two other pieces of her art included within.  I like the simplicity of it and it suits the brown cover.  She is the featured artist for the adventure that's included, The Mine of Rot & Disease.  It's a One-Shot Adventure, or for the uninitiated, just means it's a short adventure meant to be completed within a single session.  It is the first of a trilogy.  That sounds much more dramatic than the first of three.  I'll be including those One-Shots in future issues.

A quick rant.  I've been noticing the card stock is not the size it says it is.  Its supposed to be the same size as regular paper, but its been short like a 1/8 of an inch vertically and horizontally.  It makes it look like my zine is wearing high water pants.

 Back to the zine.  Each issue I've feature an OSRian on the back cover.  I pick someone whose work I'm currently excited about and would like to help promote.  This time around its John Stater's Blood & Treasure RPG.  I've blogged about it in the past and think its a great addition to the retro clones.  Hit the link and John's got some freebies to download including a great adventure called The Tumbled Towers.  I'll be converting Mine of Rot & Disease for B&T.

I have 95% of issue #3 finished.  I'm editing the first part and then will have someone look it over to minimize my goofs.  Again, those of you who buy the print version you'll get the PDF free.  I've added content to the PDF version because I don't have to worry about page count electronically.  I have a handful of NPCs I wanted to stat out for the GM to use or should I say Treasure Keeper to use  and I didn't want to take up that space with character sheets.  This way the TK can print them out  instead of flipping around.  I am guessing the 2nd week of February as a release date.  Hoping sooner.  I need to get my gaming warchest refilled to buy some of the cool stuff that's out there.

I'll be posting about any price changes coming this week.  I don't think there will be any change to the US shipping and none to very little for Europe and Australia.  Canada looks to be the biggest change.  More than likely be combined with the rest of the world.  But I'll know more when I get to the post office and have a con fab with my main man down there.  He's sports a 70's stashe like only a postal worker can.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Question

With the release of the backlog of D&D products and the apparent softening of WotC stance towards...well, us gamers, does this change your view of the upcoming release of their latest version of D&D?  Are you more likely to buy it now since they seem to be gearing their recent efforts towards people who play older versions of D&D?

I'm looking forward to the release of the hardcover  releases of the S and A series.  I am definitely down for those.  I have them all in the original version, even the monochrome version, but I would like to have fresh copies in hardback.

As for the new D&D version.  Yeah, I will probably get it.  I was going back and forth about.  I'm not a fan of edition wars because I just like to play.  System is secondary.  The original reason why I was going to pass was because WotC were just being assholes towards is customers.  Especially long in the tooth dudes like me.  I shall not suffer an asshole nor give him thine money.  But maybe with this shift of perspective with the release of all the old stuff, the almost endless playtesting, maybe WotC got a clue.

Right now I'm on the side of buying the newest edition.  But only if I get a good deal on it.

Manor #3 Update

I've been working away on the 3rd installment of The Manor.  *looks at watch* Only a few months late.  I should have did it as a Kickstarter *rim shot*.  I'll be here all week.

Seriously though, I switched direction I was originally going with it.  It's half-way done.  I have two more pieces to finish writing and seeing if I can get a couple pieces of art.  The cool thing is Ivy did some of the artwork for me this time.  I'm excited about the progress and looking forward to getting it out into cyber land. 

I know there have been recent changes in postal costs.  Rev Dak who produces the DCC zine CRAWL! told me about the drastic increase in Canadian postage.  So some price adjustments will probably need to be made.  I'm not sure how much at this time, but I'll let you know.  I still miss my creepy butterflies.  They were the best.

This Manor will be like the rest in length, 24 pages long with a card stock cover.  I'm going with a paper brown bag cover.  The first entry in be a One-Shot Adventure for low level characters.  Although I may need to rethink it being a 1st level adventure because the more I looked at it the more I think it might be scaled too high.  But then again I like them when they are a little tougher.

To save some space in the print version, in the adventure there will are a group of NPCs so rather than take up space in print I am going to offer the PDF version free to those you order the print version.  That way you can download the NPC pages and get more content overall. 

I created a new banner for GM games.  Instead of using that as a blog I am going to use it as a store front.  I'm hoping that people will use it as a hub to get any of the stuff they want.  Right now I've got my adventure and zines available through me directly, RPGNow, Lulu and Noble Knight Games.  I'm working towards completing a larger project, my ever always working on Starter Adventures, but its very close to being completed. 

 Time for some snoozes.  Later.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Menagerie of the Ice Lord Review

Menagerie of the Ice Lord (MotIL) is the fourth offering from Dylan Hartwell over at his Digital Orc blog.  I've linked to the post where he does a video of what's included in MotIL.  A lot.  Sure you can buy the PDF, but once you see what you get with the print version I'm thinking you'll upgrade to it.

First off, I think this is the best one yet by Dylan.  It's got a minimalist old school approach.  In the first 19 pages he gives you info about the townsfolk of Nix and the precious crystals this adventure is built around.  Also within those first 10 pages is a 100 room castle with maps.  The descriptions are sparse and to the point.  The maps are simple, easy to read  and they look great.

The adventure itself makes sense.  It has a purpose.  And I always favor adventures where something has happened and the adventurers are investigating as much as exploring and whacking monsters.

Monsters!  This adventure has its own Monster Manual in the back.  Like S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.  Thirty new monsters for your players to get their weapons dirty upon.  All the monster appear somewhere in the adventure.  Dylan provides a character sheet so if you want to tally all the monsters you've killed in the adventure you can tick it off.  My barbarian/skull collecting side of me appreciates this.

Dylan does the writing, layout and did all the mapping and artwork.  So like all his other projects it very much his own.  And I think that's what I like best about his work.

I plan on using this adventure somewhere, sometime.  There are adventures I read and I put aside for when I develop a gaming world or have a space in the world I am running I make sure a carve out a little space for it.  The Menagerie of the Ice Lord will find a place in my gaming world.  I can't give a product higher praise than that.

Price wise its only $2.99 for the PDF, but I am going to suggest that you go for the print version at $3.99.  You get a lot of fun stuff in your envelope.  And there is no extra cost for shipping to Europe and other parts of the known world.  

Great work Dylan and keep those adventures coming.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Manor #1 PDF available on Lulu

After struggling with fixing the PDF I finally surrendered and handed the problem over to Rob Conley.  Five minutes later the problem vanished and I was imbued with knowledge should this happen again I am armed and ready.  Thank you Rob.  The problem was it was trying to squeeze two pages onto one.  I went round and round with it.  Here is the link I forgot to add.  Thanks Charles.

Because of this I am now able to offer it on Lulu along with the second issue and Knowledge Illuminates.  Which is a little exciting.  I've been wanting to get a store front there for some time, but always struggled with the PDF part.  I think I got it now.  *knock on wood*

My next goal is to complete a couple projects and start doing some print issues through them and RPGNow.  

If you bought the 1st issue on PDF DL the new version.  It's more friendly.  And if anyone has any problems let me know.

Thanks and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Creating a Character

Looks like we'll be taking a short hiatus from our Monday Night game due to other responsibilities that grown ups need to tend to.  Lo and behold, here comes Ken (aka Rusty Battle Axe) wanting to run a traditional AD&D session.  Woot!  He wants to roll up characters using Method 1.  Okay so here goes...
Which is strangely in the DMG and not the Player's Handbook.  Roll 4d6, ditch the lowest and sort to liking.  Okay, here are my six rolls.  Four black pirate dice hit the table.


Not too shabby and fairly common for method 1 and my pirate dice always roll high.  So before I arrange them I'm gonna pick a race.  Normally I play human, but I'm going off brand here and think I'll go for a half-orc.  I want to play a cleric/fighter and only half-elves and surprisingly half -orcs.  So half-orc it is.

I've already mention I want to play a multi-class character, cleric/fighter.  So I'm going to arrange my stats thusly.  Being a half-orc I get +1 to strength and +1 to constitution, but suffer a -2 to charisma.

Str: 17 (a 16 w/+1 race bonus)
Int: 11
Wis: 16
Dex: 13
Con: 16 (my 15 w/+1 race bonus)
Cha: 10 (my 12 w/-2 race penalty)

Luckily AD&D doesn't penalize clerics with low charisma. 

Ken has granted us max hit points and max money. 

So maximum hit points would be 10 for fighter, 8 for the cleric which is 18, divide it by 2 for being multi-class which is 9 then add +2 for the con bonus.  Starting hit points of 11.

Time to go shopping.  Max gold for a cleric is 180gp, fighter's max is 200gp.  So I got a 190gp to get my goods.  So with multi class you go with armor least restrictive and weapons most restrictive. 

90gp Banded Mail
10gp Helmet
10gp Shield, small

4gp Footman's Mace (2-7/1-6)
2gp Holy Symbol, iron

2gp Backpack
1gp Large Belt Pouch
4sp 50' Rope
30sp 2 empty water skins
10cp 10 iron spikes
1gp Tinder Box
6gp 2 weeks standard rations

25gp Riding Horse
15sp Bit & Bridle
12sp Harness
10gp Saddle
3sp Saddle Blanket
4gp Saddle Bags, large

If I've done my math right that leaves me 21gp and 15sp.  So I'll need to be on a tight budget.

No need to worry about alignments, but I am a cleric.  He said if you chose to be a cleric you needed to create your own religion.  I was thinking istn't that what they do anyway?

I will be a battle cleric.  I'm going to use the cleric of Thor as the inspiration.  They are monster hunters.  I got to play a cleric of Thor in a convention and had a great time playing him.  So I think I think my guy will be an Adzeer of Kotoll, a god of battle, of hunting and of the night.  There are no restrictions on getting one's quarry.  It is better to be the hunter than the prey.

That about does it except for a name.  Hmm, Adzeer Mattiu, Hunter of the First Circle

Monday, January 21, 2013

+5 Speaker of Awesomeness

I braved a fricking blizzard to get these speakers.  I'm not exaggerating.  At one point our section of the highway were stopped and as a group think we all got out of cars to chip the ice that was freezing on our windshield wipers.  I had to do this 4x in about a half in hour span.

It was ugly out.

I traveled to Erie not knowing they were getting slammed.  But by the time I figured it out we were already so close I wasn't going to turn around.  The goal.  New speakers for my computer.  Not just any speakers, but Bose Companion 5 speakers

Been saving up for these puppies for a while.

I put in a sample movie and it sounds like a small movie theater.  Music...amazing.  I just have to watch the volume.  I don't want my neighbors calling to police on me again...I didn't mean again...really.

Anyway I just thought my speakers needed their own post.

Cleaning the Desk

Cleaning the my office table again.  Maps and half written adventures and crap I don't even remember getting it amongst the piles.  Sorting and organizing, throwing away and filing, lifting and wiping.  I've got pieces of the next Manor all over the place.  I have managed to pull together all my files for Starter Adventures, but found I have lots of work to do.

First off, I apparently used 9 font for the first half and a 10 font for the second half.  That irritates me to no end.  The wife says the font is still a little small.  Arg.

Second, I need to adjust the margins.  Inside margins need to be a bit bigger so when the book is bound you don't lose text into the center.

Third, I need to reformat the middle section.  The majority of the book is in a two column format and for the tavern section I did a single column thinking it would look okay.  After printing it I don't think it looks good mixing the two.

Forth, some minor writing needs done.  The last section of new monsters and magic items a few entries still need completed.

And lastly, I need to study up on how to transfer the file to Lulu and RPGNow to get it into book form.

I was looking at the prices.  I think my Starter Adventures will come in around 56 pages.  I see some of the prices have gone up.  I'm not sure what the price point will be yet, but hardly a concern until I get all my crap completed.

Editors, Luckily I have two on board for sure and a third I'm sure that will help clean up any sloppiness on my part.

And stop being distracted by all the other maps I find and wonder what I can do with them. The picture above is something I made messing around with Xara.  It's the entry way to the Temple of the Dead.  How can I not be distracted by this?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sleestak Sunday

I haven't done a Sleestak Sunday in a whole and thought I would get back into it.  I found this one on Kevin M. Rucker's site.  I like his take on the sleestak, reminds me of the characatires (I am spelling this word so bad spell check can't even give me a hint) they do at theme parks. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tavern Cards

Who am I talking about?  Hannah Lipsky of Chaotic Shiny Productions.  She has put together a very cool Kickstarter.  Tavern Cards.  With a deck of cards you can flip them over and instantly generate a fun and interesting tavern.  And there is always a need for taverns.

Before I get into the product itself I want to sell you on Hannah and her company.  I've been a big fan of her program generators since she started.  I've promoted them here several times and would gladly do it again.  I've wrote to Hannah briefly through email and she has it planned out and knows the pitfalls of a Kickstarter.  She plans to keep it straight forward so she can deliver her very cool product on time.  With all the recent negative posts about Kickstarters and how people have been throwing their money into a hole.  I have no trouble backing this project because I'm very confident in Hannah's ability to produce her tavern cards.

The tavern cards will all be unique.  And probably my favorite thing is they will be done in the style of a tarot deck.  So if you are a tarot deck collector like me you gotta get a pack or two or three. 

Each suit creates a different aspect to the tavern.

So you can see Hannah's Tavern Cards can be used in multiple ways.  Its a very cool idea.  While I enjoy a good computer generator there is something about having that tactual experience.  Plus you'll have a ton of cool art to go with it.

Stretch goals.  No Kickstarter would be with them.  Hannah I think has been very smart with the stretch goals.  This is where many KS projects go to grass.  They promise these fantastic stretch goals to get more money, but fail to plan the costs and the reliability of the people who would produce them.  Hannah's got her stretch goals already calculated into everything.  She has even done Extensive Math!  Its in her update section where she breaks down the cost of everything.  Love it.

Back to the stretch goals.  An unnamed stretch goal is the first level, then Pirates!  Yeah, I want to see them.  Then another mystery level and the last stretch goal written is High Fantasy deck.

The price point on these decks are great.  Get in early and they're even better.  Here's the basic break down $13 for 1 deck (or $11 if you are an early backer), $24 for two decks (or $20 if you are an early backer), or $35 for 3 decks and at this level that unlocks all the booster and stretch goals.  Then from there the goals get high with signed pictures and decks and enough decks to squash a owlbear.

So head on over to the Tavern Card kickstarter and back Hannah in her project.  I'm in for the $35 backer.  You'll be jealous of me if you don't.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I'm A Bad Player

Last night our gaming group continued on and attacked the king of the people that were not paying us.  Which seems to be the only distinction.  The group laid siege on the king's stronghold, but there was no Durgo to be found.  The humble village tracker was absent...

Last night I did something I normally don't do.  I bailed on a game.  Usually I'm committed to game dates unless something important comes up.   In December I had to bail out of a Weird Tales game due to migraines.  But at least I let Trey know I wasn't going to make it.  I didn't even let anyone know last night.  I just didn't show.  Poor form.  Bad player.

I have a lot of respect for the guys I play with and respect the time they dedicate to our Monday sessions.  Its very rare that you can get seven very hard working people (I'm including you into that group Ken, but I'm really stretching it) who stop for a few hours each week and get together.  Its very cool.  And if someone needs to bail due to work, sickness, family, better offer from the wife/girlfriend/both then no problem.  My inconsiderate behavior by not letting them know is the real problem.  Just a quick email to let them know or phone or skype or one of the thousands of ways you can communicate with someone.

I'm very steady about attending and rarely cancel.  I doubt my group cares all that much.  Might not have even noticed I was missing come to think of it.  But I think of a times when you take your time to set aside to play, to prepare an adventure and then a person or persons don't show.  It's just disrespectful and in the past I've gotten pissed at people like that.  And after a few times you don't bother scheduling with them.

So don't be a bad player/GM.  If you can't play let them know ahead of time.  I could give you a half dozen excuses and one good reason why I didn't play, but I won't bore you with those details.  I've bored you enough with this already.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Party is Starting so You Better Book It

Jason Sholtis has unleashed another one of his adventures upon the public, Secret Party House of the Hill Giant Playboy.  I downloaded it tonight and printed it out booklet style.  Because its Jason I checked out the art first cause he's got pictures in about a billion and two gaming products.  On the cover you got Sardox steaming his nads with what I think is his favorite rock.  Reminds me a Flintstone key party scene.  The only gripe i have is there are a couple of pieces that are small.  I would have loved to see the one or both blown up to full page pictures.  The map is great.  I love his hand drawn map with the details.

As you would think there are plenty of random tables in this.  No, all of them are not d12.  Relax its okay, his d6 tables are pretty good.  Even one of the random party guests could be Zogorion from his first adventure.

The adventure screams fun through and through.  It's 20 pages of fun table, great art, a cool premise and its free.  Jason is giving it away.  He's a very cool guy who has a fun way of writing adventures.  Go download it.  Let Jason know what you think and take a picture of your booklet and share it.  Like this guy!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dungeon Infinate

Messing around with the art program and I accidentally did this. Same map, infinite possibilities. Multiple universes with countless dimensions all traveling along different timelines. Meet Dungeon Infinite.

This is what it looks like normally before I start messing with it.

Then I thought I would like the old style solid background.  I was going to go with that pale ass blue from the early ages, but I went for a real blue.

Then I started playing with art programs.  This one I drew in Paint then tossed it over into Xara. 

Here are the other levels of this dungeon.

For these I used that confetti fill and it looks a little annoying on my computer screen.  The solid is easier on the eyes.  Tomorrow, well tomorrow is work.  No maps will be made.  And that is a sad thing.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Call Me Iron Tom

My pirate name is:
Iron Tom Bonney

A pirate's life isn't easy; it takes a tough person. That's okay with you, though, since you a tough person. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Friday, January 11, 2013

Map Transformation

I found this map in my ever growing file of not completed adventures I'm working on.  I sketched it for my Starter Adventures book to have Rob Conley work his magic.

This is the barrow tomb of a minor barbarian chief.  The adventure is called 'The Cleaner' because you as a thief are supposed to go in and poke around.  Sardwin the Sharp, your instructor in the art of thievery, says..
"A band of adventurers broken into one of the barrows.   They took their share of loot, but they always miss something.  None of us was with them.   I want you to go into the barrow and find what they left behind.  Sometimes they stash items for later."
 And so starts your adventure as a solo thief heading into a plundered tomb.  Here's Rob's purdy map.

We played around with the fill and I liked the tonal gray the best.  Rob did a damn good job of capturing the map feel I was going for.  Of course, how could be not, my sketch was to spot on and so lifelike it was spooky.

I thought I'd give people a peek at what they would find in Starter Adventures.  I'm happy with it and I will be getting it out the door this spring.  Just one of those projects I keep pushing back into a file and pulling out every so often.  Oh, and if that map isn't cool enough for you here is the artwork from Jason Sholtis that goes with it.  I think the title for this one should be, "Failed Save". 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Got My Rejection, How About You?

I came home from work, sorted through my email and saw an email from the RPG Blog Alliance.  I hadn't really visited there in a while.  When I switched computers last year I failed to bookmark it.  In the ever changing blog world its banner got pushed to the side a while ago and I admit I forgot.  Open up the email and saw my site had been rejected which was weird since I'd been a member for four years now.  I thought maybe they were cleaning out some bloggers who hadn't been active on their site or something.  I soon discovered on their blog they were hacked.

I remember when I first started blogging it was important for me to get accepted in the RPG Blog Alliance.  Seemed like everyone with a gaming blog was on there and I knew if I could get in more traffic would increase to my new blog.  Made a huge difference.  My visits went up right away.  Plus, it helped me find a lot of other great blogs I would have missed.

I'm putting up their banner again.  I'd forgotten how I got my start and how they helped me.  If you haven't checked out their site they've got a lot of great blogs on there to check out.  I'm looking through a few now I plan to join.

Map Time!

A map I did last week.  Again, its a simple grid map I did on paint.  Since I am lousy at all that cross-hatch stuff I used a pattern fill that I think turned out well.  This adventure is called The Corruption of the Portico Mine.  With this adventure that makes about four I am working on because when Ivy wants to watch TV I grab my graph paper or sketch pad and doodle a map.  Then I start liking that map and write the beginning part.  So I have four adventures in the embryonic stage.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It's In the Details...Or Not

I'm continuing on with my posts about providing more details within an adventure, or the term I use describing a third magnification.  This post isn't for those who don't like too much detail.  They want sparse text, minimal description and run with it.  This type of adventure design is for those groups that like to get into the minutia of the world.  Little details thrill them.  Because of this, it made me want to dig a little deeper into the way an adventure is presented.

I've never been fond of people who are weird for the sake of being weird.  It's boring and not weird.  I am not giving details to be detailed.  That would suck and also be boring.  The development of an object or person or place, to give it detail is there for the players to interact with if they so chose.  If a player comes across a silver candlestick its worth 20sp either way and that can be the end of it.  Or it can be a candlestick made by Bo Duke from Hazard County and worth a lot more.  This single candlestick can become a plot point.  There could be a collector of Bo Duke silver wares.  And it being such a known item, maybe it belong to a noble who was robbed and would pay to have it returned.  Who knows.  But adding a single tag on it of history/backstory it can become more than just a 20sp trade in.

But here's the cool thing, you can completely ignore this if you want.  I won't take away from your game one bit.  It is there for players who like to fiddle or GMs who like to fiddle.

Not every candlestick will be made by the famous Bo Duke.  Most of the time its just going to be a 20sp trade in.  Done.

In the example I gave in a previous post, everything that was given more detail is for the players to explore, to use or manipulate.  Just because more details are given does not mean the prose goes off on tangents.  If anything it means I/you/the others who write this kind of adventure has to be terse and discipline.  Edit and then reedit.  That's what I find challenging and something I enjoy.

While I may not be an expert at writing adventures I'm fairly confident at what works and what doesn't.  I also know not everyone is going to like that style.  It's not written for them.  As the writer I still have an obligation to do the best I can for those who will enjoy it.  Being able to execute the style is critical.  So when it does leave my computer and waft into the ether its done as well I could do it.  So if the people who are interested in that style of adventure tell me its not good then I am the problem and need to do a better job.  If done correctly people will have fun.  I'm cool with that.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Mail Call x2

Lookie what I got in the mail today.  To big hardback books of Advanced Adventures.  I already own a handful of these adventures in print and PDF, but I wanted them all!  Plus I like having them in a hardback edition.  I've bought a ton of products from Expeditious Press and not once been disappointed.  He has them available at his site and at Lulu. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Playing with Adventure Construction, Part 2

Here is the example of what I posted about yesterday.  Write a description of a room or situation and take elements mentioned (bolded) then follow up with more detail.  I like the suggestion of implementing random tables in the details and plan on including them fairly often.  This is what the text section would look like.  I didn't do a map yet, but I think most can imagine it. 

1. Example Room
Torches in wall sconces illuminate this 20' square room.  Hanging in the center are two blacken corpses and a woman, blindfolded and gagged who struggles against her bonds.  Under them is a large circular grate with a lever off to one side.  To the north, arguing can be heard.  To the east is a door.  To the south is a passageway partially blocked by a pull cart with a broken wheel.  
Corpses, the two corpses were adventurers caught outside the entrance.  Gorum (room 3), stripped them of their possessions and died during questioning. 
Woman, Mayla was captured yesterday trying to break into the locked pantry (12).  Gorum questioned her, but he was afraid to touch her fearing he would be seduced.  He had her blindfolded and gagged.  She was trying to poison the food supply.  The vial poison (save vs. death) is hidden between her breasts.  She is working for Veloria (room 48).
Grate, the lever opens the grate in the center.   It drops 100’ into the  ancient sewers below.  There is a 20% chance that a thunderous guttural roar will issue from the pit.  Gorum is afraid it will crawl out of the pit and seek food if he does not feed it.
Arguing, at the end of a short passageway is an open door.  The men are arguing about whether the woman should be cut down for their entertainment. 
Door, locked.  Heavy wooden door.  Simple lock.  Gorum has the key.  
Pull Cart, contents.  Roll twice. (d8)
1. A cracked cask of ale.  A few tankards worth is still at the bottom.
2. Four broken spears and three broken shields.  
3. A coil of 10' rope.
4. Two sacks with several goblets and dinnerware that bare the mark of Blothsum's Froth Tavern. 
5. Extra straw for bedding.
6. The corpse of a large rat.  One of the bandits stashed a small pouch inside the gaping wound.  He found it in the rat's nest and didn't want to share.  There are 21cp in the pouch.
7. Baskets of food not yet put away in the pantry (12).  Potatoes and carrots stolen from local village gardens.
8. A bone scroll case stuck between the slats.  It contains a small picture.  A portrait of a woman.  At the bottom a Y and a T are intersected.  This etching was created by some one practicing their forgery of Yrum Tuttbom, royal artist.  If this were one of his etchings it would be worth 1000sp.

So you can see the room is fairly straight forward then it funnels down into more minute details.  Knowing who Yrum Tuttbom or Blothsum's Froth's tavern might not be important, but it adds details that can lead into other plot points and provides ample opportunity for role-playing. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Playing with Adventure Construction

I am going to go against the minimalistic sensibility the OSR values, that I value.  Being concise is a wonderful thing.  Providing just detail enough to allow the GM to fill in the spaces.  There are several popular adventures whose entries are no more than than a sentence or a series of fragment sentences.  The following examples are from Michael Curtis's Stonehell Dungeon
2. Wrecked Seraglio: Ruined bedding; erotic frescoes; smashed water pipe.  Empty.
1. Ancient Gallery: Remains of old furniture & smashed sculptures.  Gnolls (6) bundling harvested plants to bring back to their lair.  Each has 1d10+1ep & 1d8gp.
You can't get much more concise than that.  There are a list of details the GM can rift off.  Ten different GMs are going to come up with ten different ways to influence and accentuate the room.  Everything is right there at a glance.

I've been playing with doing the opposite.  Lots of detail.  With details about the details.  Each room would have its own accompanying map.  Depending on the details provided there would be the text on the left hand side and the map on the right.

My reasoning?  Hmm, I guess there are times when I am playing that I like each room to be its own puzzle, own contained adventure within.  Especially when running short sessions or competitive sessions (tournament style) it makes sense in my brain.  A lot of adventures are written to the second magnification.  Meaning the first would be the obvious.  Using the examples provided, old furniture and smashed sculptures. And of course the gnolls.  Second magnification would be the money they carried.  Something that needed to be investigated.  If there was a chest or sack in the room, second would be what is inside.  Hidden or less obvious.

What I am writing is something that takes it to the third magnification.  These are details that knowledge or skill is needed to discover.  Let's continue using the examples above.  The old furniture might be the last remaining pieces that belonged to the baron before his castle was sacked and burned.  The baron valued craftsmanship and hired Misrol of Glendale.  While a normal table and chairs would sell for 50sp, but if sold to a knowledgeable buyer they might fetch ten times that amount.  The gnolls gold pieces might be from a rival kingdom as are the weapons they wield.

While most gold pieces are generic hunks of metal, sometimes adding a small detail to them can enhance the depth of an adventure.  Like anything it can be over done.  Minimalist style can be overdone.  And what I'm messing with is probably overboard, but I'm curious to see how it works out.

The layout I am working with a room description.  Some details will be bolded to indicate there are further details.  It makes for easy reference.  And another reason I don't want to make any descriptions longer than a page.  Although stats might prove a space problem.  Again, I'm playing with idea and seeing how it works.  I like the idea of it and of course it all comes down to execution on whether it will be playable to me and possibly others.