Thursday, July 31, 2014

Investigative Adventures

I've been reading a bit about adventure structure in various books.  While I can whip out a fantasy d20 adventure with very little pain, I'm working on a different type of adventure.  It's an investigative adventure.  In most fantasy adventures the main action is combat.  In this type of adventure it will be information gathering.

I've been reading Exoterrorists, GURPS Mystery and I have a few shows I plan to watch just to get a visual structure. 

Forwhateverreason, this is what has my off time attention.  If any of you have a interesting read on that kind of subject please let me know.

On another front: I released my 8th micro-adventure.  I'm creating something fun for my Patreon supporters. 

And the 7th Manor is done except for the introduction   Then off to my excellent ediitors.

I did that on purpose.  Really.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

MA #8 Temple of Selig is Open for Business

The 8th micro-adventure Temple of Selig is posted at my Patreon page.  Go grab a copy.  It is a part of the micro-sandbox, Misanthrope Islands or is can be used alone.  I've added a player's map so if a GM wants to use it on-line they don;t have to worry about numbers or critters popping up.  I think its a cool, but very dangerous adventure.  It also has a few cool magic items.  I hope you enjoy it.

D&D Next, My First Session

Last night Rob Conley ran a 5e session.  It's the first time we played the system since its 'release'.  We played two or three sessions in various stages of the playtest.

We used Roll20 and Google Hangouts.  They had 5e character sheets for Roll20.  There were very cool, some of the buttons didn't work, but over all it helped.  The only problem I had was the sheet covered the map.  So I had to keep closing/shrinking then reopen it.  It would be great if Roll20 could get to where we could use two screens.

The game itself, was a lot of fun.  I'm really liking the new D&D.  I am making my peace with the short/long rest and second wind mechanics.  While not a fan of it I can work with it.  I'm just having fun with it and working it into my strategies when I play.

I like the skill system.  And I think the advantage and disadvantage are good game mechanics.  Simple and effective. 

Last night we were ambushed by four goblins.  The two mages were immediately taken out of the fight.  The next round our fighter barely made it.  My rogue got a minor wound.  We could have easily been TPKed within two rounds.  By goblins!

One of the things that helped save our hides is using my Persuasion skill.  I convinced the goblins that more were coming and they should run.  That stunned them long enough for our fighter to second wind and then engage.  And I was able to get a couple arrows into goblin flesh.

So the combat was dangerous, fun and there were enough options to make it interesting. 

So two thumbs up for me.  D&D 5e so far is a good thing.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mail Call! Again! This is Getting to be a Lot!

Kickstarter alert.  Completed. 

+Frog God Games, The Lost City of Barakus has arrived.  I went in for the hardback and one of the player's guides.  The delivery date for this was August 2014.  They got it in early.  Well done. 
There was an option to buy additional books from FGG for a reduced rate and I saw the Tome of Horrors 4 was listed and grabbed a copy.  Can someone have too many monster manuals?  I'm finding out. 

Game night tonight.  +Rob Conley is running a 5e game.  We are short a player or two.  If your interested and not a dickhead, we do Google Hangout, just chat and use Roll20.  We start at 6:30pm and play until 9:30pm, give or take a few cracked skulls.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rearranging my Gaming Shelves

With the influx of gaming goodness that has been coming in lately I have to rethink my shelves. This is something I always dread doing.  Because I always want to redo the shelves in a different way, but then I end up putting back together the way they were in the first place.
This is only a simulation of what the actually event would look like if I did not keep my gaming books organized.

Normally I keep my books separated by system.  AD&D here, GURPS over there, Swords & Wizardry can fit in there and Blood & Treasure will do well there.  Now that I have so many different systems that its become more difficult to do it this way.

Last time I rearranged my gaming shelf I tried a different way.  I went with core rule books on a shelf.  A shelf for all my monster manuals.  Another for adventure modules, a section for developing adventures and a miscellaneous section.  I need a section for box sets.  Zines, of course.  And binders for gaming stuff for campaigns.  That's a lot to ask of some shelves. 

Plus, I need space for all the paper supplies for zines and adventures.

No easy task.  I believe I'm returning to my system based organization.  I need to figure out the space and who will go where in the hierarchy of systems on my shelf.

And I hate to admit it, but it may be time to purge some of my gaming stuff that I don't use or never plan to use.  Gah!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Art for Manor #7

The 7th issue is only waiting for me to finish my introduction.  I plan to pin that down this weekend.  The art for #7 is coming from two guys I don't think I'd spoken to until very recently.  +Jim Magnusson did the creepy cover and a handful of interior art and +Jarrod Shaw swooped in and added two needed pieces to complete the issue.  Oh, and I can't forget +j garrison.  He's in this issue with an adventure and he drew the art to go with it.

Talking with these guys, who were excited and willing to help me make my zine better is a giant part of why I do this.  It was fun working with them and both did a fantastic job.  Here's a preview of some of their work that's inside the next issue of The Manor.

by Jim Magnusson

by J Garrison
by Jarrod Shaw
by Jarrod Shaw
by Jim Magnusson

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Making Gaming Stuff

I've been messing around with developing an adventure using the Exoterrorists, GUMSHOE system.  Think X-Files if it had been on HBO (Maybe True Detective would fill the bill, but I've only seen one very good episode so I can't say).

So I thought I would make up fake, shadow government type documents.  The players would be working for Aegis.  I thought it fit the theme I was going for well.  But I could just have official government documents with Aegis on the header.  No, no, I have to come up with an official seal.

Don't Google official seal because I got a bunch of pictures of people killing baby seals.  Pisses me off just looking at it.  I want to hit those people with a big pole.  And there it is, I'm distracted from what I was doing.

As you can see, I made a seal up.  I was going to put more details in, but I'm happy with the outcome right now.  Plus my ability to fiddle with it will only make it worse.  Now I have a seal to put on the top of official government papers when I send them to my players.  See how I managed to avoid writing the adventure.  Not my first time.

Now go back to your porn.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Another Petty God is Born

And his name is +Jason Zavoda.  Zavoda does sound like good Petty God name.  Zavoda is the Petty God of Used Gaming Goods.  In my pantheon he would rate higher than a petty god, it is gaming after all.  Here's why Zavoda earned his deity status....

Jason asked if I wanted a couple of adventure modules that were in well-used.  I never turn down adventure modules.  I said sure.  I though maybe he'd send a couple in a manilla envelope.  Holy crap no he did not.  The package weighted about five pounds or more.

Now the amazing thing is not just the weight and the quantity that was inside, but the fantastic quality of what was inside.  Stuff I needed to fill in holes in my collection. 

There were a big batch of pirate ship cards.  Most of them were in individual plastic sleeves.  The ships look very cool. 

This is probably the most interesting bunch of the batch.  I've never heard of any of these or if I had that memory is long gone.  When I see stuff like this I go back in time to where we huddled in unair conditioned attic during the summer reading the latest gaming material we could get our hands on.  Then the inevitable debate about what this meant or what that meant.

I just started getting Lankmar stuff.   I've always been interested in it, but I've never had them.  I got the main book on eBay last week and then Jason sends me all this!  From the looks of it there are different versions of Lankmar.  I did not know this.

Role-Aids and Undermountain.  Like Lankmar above, I was also looking on eBay at these guys, just getting a feel for the prices and just pondering what was inside.  Undermountain looks crazy good.  Big maps!  Jason asked if all the maps were there...I have no idea.

 Stupid blogger flipping my pictures.  The next batch are a series of classic modules.  Some of these I have, but mine are also worn so its cool to have spare when the cover blows out or +Rob Conley spills pizza all over my booklet.  (Rob will proclaim his innocence, but he is guilty)

 Boom!  Classics!  I was raised on these adventures.  I don't have this version of Tomb of Horrors.  Very cool.

 The B series is one of those that I don't have many of.  I think I have 1 and 2 and  Zavoda used his powers and granted me two in the series I did not have.  I've been the B3 a couple of times when I had a full head of hair.  Long ago.

And lastly, a Ravenloft book I didn't have.  Again, Zavoda knows.  And a copy of the Free RPGDay DCC adventure from last year. 

As you can see I believe Zavoda has earned the right to stand in the pantheon of petty gods.

Gaming Staple: Cure Wounds Spells & a Rant About Rest & Recovery

As sleep is to mage, cure light wounds is to cleric.  A cleric in almost every system is the medic.  The guy who can help the party go further into the dungeon without having to leave to recuperate.  Here's the small break down of what Cure Light Wound does in other systems.
  • In standard AD&D it will cure 1d8 points of damage.
  • In Swords & Wizardry Complete it will cure 1d6 points of damage.
  • In Labyrinth Lord it will cure 1d6+1 points of damage or can be used to cure paralysis.  

In D&D Next they don't have a Cure Light Wounds spell rather a Cure Wounds spell that is scalable, therefore can be cast at a higher level when the mage has high spell slots available.  There is no need for extra names/spells such as Cure Serious Wounds, Cure Critical Wounds, or Cure Mildly Annoying Rashes.  They are all covered in a single spell. 

The standard healing of a 1st level Cure Wounds spell is 1d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier.  If the spell is cast with a higher level spell slot than the number of d8s rolled will reflect that.  Example, if Cure Wounds is cast using a 4th level slot, the player would receive 4d8 hit points healed +the spellcasting modifier.

I like the simplicity of it.  No need to remember all those spells.  This is an increase in healing ability over the other systems.    In D&D Next you get your next healing bump at 3rd level when a 2nd level spell slot opens up.  And 5th level to access a 3HD healing spell.
  • In standard AD&D your cleric needed to reach 7th level before getting the next level of healing spell.  And 9th level for a 3HD healing spell.
  • Swords & Wizardry Complete  is the same, you need to reach 7th level before getting a 2HD healing spell.  And there is no 2HD cure spell for LL.  
  • Labyrinth Lord is the same as S&W complete.
As you can see in D&D Next, the cleric has more ability to heal, faster and better.  This is why the whole spending hit dice during a short rest irks me.  And how a long rest recovers all lost hit points.  I am not a fan of this.  In this version you have access to more healing than any other version of the game.  And the need to add additional auto healing options just waters down the danger of the game. 

This is where the philosophy of your home-ruled game comes into play.  This mechanic demonstrates that the builders of the system are afraid to have character die in game (I'll get into the saving throw mechanic of death in another time).  To me, the fun of the game is the struggle of surviving a dangerous place, managing resources and hoping the next room has the treasure you're looking for.  A short rest allow a player to spend their hit dice like a healing spell.  So everyone in the party can recover from their wound by chilling out and grabbing a slice of pizza.  An ogre just slices half of you off.  No worries, I got a bag of Doritios and some Mountain Dew, I'll be fine. 

This is just my philosophy on the rule.  I don't like it.  I think with the clerics new options and increased healing ability this mechanic seems redundant and harmful to the overall sense of danger to the game. 

Oh, and do not get me started on that second wind crap.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gaming Staple: Sleep Spell Part 2

Last night was game night and I was talking with the uber goobs about the sleep.  I crunch some numbers. 

With 5th edition based on hit points.  It's current write up knocks out 5d8 hit points worth of enemies.  I'll use the goblin as the standard enemy.  I check the goblin stats in the Starter Set and they have 7hp.  So an average roll for the spell would be 22 to 23 hit points affected.  So in 5e a mage can put to sleep an average of 3 goblins. 

In older editions the standard sleep spell could take out 4d4 creature with 1 hit die or less.  Goblins average less than a hit die in older versions.  So the mage would average 10 goblins a Sleep spell. 

So the Sleep spell in 5e has been nerfed a bit.  I don't mind the change.  I always thought Sleep was overpowering to begin with.  I like the 5e version because its not overpowering at low levels and doesn't become completely useless at high levels.

JDJarvis brings up an interesting situation. 
What interests me in that notation is if the HP limits for spell effects are meant to be the targets usual healthy HP score or the current score. If the current score it opens a host of tactics that were otherwise completely absent, hitting a troll a couple times and casting sleep on it is now valid (but does it wake up when it regenerates above the HP limit of the spell?).

I think I would run with current hit points.  The party manages to whittle down a giant to 10 hit points and the mage hit it with a sleep, I say good on them.  Maybe the next giant will get to make meat soup.

How would you guys rule it?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Taking a Look at One of the Staples of D&D

One of the things I do is take a look at staples that are in every edition and played a lot.  In this case, I looked at the Sleep spell.

Most versions of the sleep spell effect Hit Dice of the creature.  There is usually some scale of the number of creatures effected.  This time around, 5th edition has taken the sleep spell and made it based on Hit Points. 

My first reaction was neutral.  I thought, okay, a little change up.  But still a bit of a token one.  But what I liked is the spell progressively gets more powerful with the mage.  In past editions it was the big bomb spell at lower levels and discarded soon after.  So the increase of hit points it effects as the character increases in level will make it a viable spell long term.

Since I'm on lunch break, I don't have any numbers.  I'll check back when I get home and do some calculations to compare version.

So this staple of the game, for me, has been improved.

Numbers later.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

MA #7 Gargoyle Lair and Something About Farts

Here's my latest creation, MA #7 Gargoyle Lair.  It goes with my first micro-sandbox Misanthrope Islands (you'll find the reference to it in the description of 3. Choracha Island),  but can be played on its own.  You can head to my Patreon page and download them.  I'm excited that I'm up to eighteen patrons and have nearly reached my third goal.  It's fun.  And it helps me pay for my addiction, gaming books.

The next adventure is also mention in the Misanthrope Islands, 7. Risco's Hideaway, Temple of Selig.  I've got the map done and ready to go.

One of the brain farts I had was I never gave the GM a player's map without numbers and little silhouettes.  Well I smelled the cheese, discover I dealt it and I am now remedying that oversight.  I'll add another bulk package, like I did before for the maps without background, for the past adventure maps without numbers. 

Pizza's done.  Sherlock is cued on Netflix.  Gotta go!

My 1st Character for D&D Next

Looks like Sidwin the Sharp is my first character for a new/old system.  I rolled 4d6 and wrote them from top to bottom, no changing them.  I used four precision dice from Dice God, Zocchi.  He smiled upon when I rolled. 

Usually I can tell if I am going to like a system when I create characters.  I enjoyed making Sidwin.  It is easy and yet has simple and effective options.  Gone are the video game mechanics of 4th edition that turned me off.  This system seems to have grabbed the best from the different editions and a few brilliant ideas from OSR systems. 

There will people who will crap all over it because it's WotC and Hasboro, but I'm judging on its playability.  I've had the chance to playtest it in the early stages and in the last stages.  So I'm looking forward to playing the final version. 

I've been reading through the Starter Set books and while I wish there was more in them to begin with I still think there is enough to get things going.  An inexpensive way to see if the game is for you.  And cool blue dice.  Dice are always a good thing.  And with the offering of the free PDF, I printed it out, 3-hole punched it and bound it together with bread ties.  I thought about getting fancy, but went old school, Wonder Bread style.

It fits into the box.  I've been going through it, but haven't sat down and read it from front to back.  I like making up characters and learning it that way.  Then read it.  I still need to wrap my head around the spell casting.  I think I've got it.  Almost. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mail Call: My PO Box is a Treasure Chest

I guess I've been in a acquisition mode.  +Ara Kooser was getting rid of some of his loot, so we set up an exchange, I sent him a bundle of Manors and he sent me...

Originally I just asked for Spirit of the Century.  +Ken H spoke highly of it and I've been enjoying non-medieval fantasy lately so I thought it would be a cool get.  Ara threw in the +Brave Halfling Publishing White Box.  It looks new.  I have one, but with box sets I almost prefer to have a spare.  Big thanks for Ara for his generosity.

The next score was on Amazon.  I've been really enjoying Exoterrorists.  That book has got my idea factory churning over time.  So I checked out a few books that went along with it.

The Factbook was something I was very interested in.  It sounded like a good resource to get a foundation built for an adventure or two.  I really want to take this for a spin.  Profane Miracle was priced cheap and thought it might be good to see how they build an adventure using the system.  The Book of Unremitting Horror is to run more of a horror type GUMSHOE game, but I plan on integrating into Exoterrorists.  

Lastly, I've been hearing about True Detective for many months now.  I think everything I read about it was positive and people were excited about it.  This time I just went to my local Wally World and picked up a copy of the blu-ray.  

I'm looking forward to watching this.  Sounds like my kind of show.  And actually sounds a lot like the game I want to run.  Although is it me or is McConaughey looking extra creepy lately? 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Question: Trifling Gawds

I was over at +trey causey blog and he wrote a post about gods influencing/messing with/blue bolting PCs.  Manipulation of powerful PCs so the gods can get what they want, or, the PCs away from getting what they want.  Either way you have immortal, very powerful beings taking a huge role in a campaign's direction.

Question is, how much direct influence do the gods have in your campaign?

Do they work as a backdrop, people kneel down before stone likenesses and blather on about how great thou art?  Or do they appear amongst the folks to cruise for ladies or provide aid?

Usually in my campaign it is a little more of the second one.  Gods do directly take part in the shaping of things.  And like any true bunch of immortals, they are completely dysfunctional, irrational and self-defeating.  While the gods may not take an active role in a current adventure, however, they are definitely influencing the shape of the whole.  Even if it's in the background.  I think it adds depth and a living world.  Things continue to evolve even if the players are not directly interacting with it.

So what's up with your gods?  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Manor #7 Line Up

I shared this last night and thought I'd share you the cover model of issue #7 drawn by the deft hand of +Jim Magnusson.  He drew a batch of fantastic interior art also.

Inside this issue of the Manor is a lot of contributions from all sorts of folks.  I've been getting more offers from people who want to contribute and I'm very cool with that.  It's been interesting to see what folks are offering.  I've got things already lines up for issue #8.  Here's what's in this issue so far (there may be more by the time I get through with it).

+Boric Glanduum wrote, Boltswitch's Mobile Potion Emporium.  A grand introduction by a gnome that has some libations to sell to your character with lots of flair and a heavy dose of flattery.

+Johua De Santo add his spin on the Skinwalker class.  Specifically the coyote.   This is a very cool take and I can see using this one for many different genres beyond fantasy.

+Chris C. wrote the featured piece, Mirror, Mirror.  Miraboth the Mercurial Mirror Master of Meezan-Abeem is on the cover and nine of his mirrors are suited to hang on the walls of any campaign.  Well, a wall of a very dark room.

+Simon Forster, one of the map masters of the OSR has included a micro-adventure, Trouble Down the Well.  Very concise and very cool.  Another great adventure that takes minutes to prepare for.

And +j garrison adds an bug ridden adventure called, Horrid Caves.  He even did the art for this one.  I just laid out this adventure last night and it's good.  Very good.

There is one more small piece I'm waiting to add from +Ken H.  But if you notice I didn't even make it into my own zine.  So because I am master and commander of the Manor I think I'm going to add a little space so I can get something in there.  So many great contributions.  So little space.

A huge thanks to all these guys for offering to contribute and making the Manor even a better zine.  I appreciate it. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Banner Me Done

I made a fancy new banner for my Patreon page.  Got tired of having a big blank spot on my home page.  I thought it can out okay.  Alright, on to the next micro-adventure! 

Death of a King, Coffin in the Kitchen, and I Don't Know My Right from My West

We waited.  We waited because Egbert thought it would be a good idea for the minotaur king to get dressed in his battle armor before we knelt before him to swear fealty.  Since we had plans of killing the vile king who sent children to their death, him getting his battle armor and weapons only seemed fair. 

Egbert is not the brightest of strategists. 

We came up with alternate plans.  Maybe swear fealty, but keep our fingers crossed so it doesn't count.  Maybe barricade him in a tiny keep that has nearly no walls left and burn it down around him. 

These are the smart people talking.

The villagers chastised us for basically being wussies.  They had armed themselves and waited for the chance to kill the minotaur king.  So we waited.  Then we watched.  The minotaur king was overwhelmed as the entire village fell upon him.  Only Chuck, a peg-legged peckerwood took an axe to the head. 

Much rejoicing was followed.  We looted the king and keep.  Treasure we did find.  I nearly died.  We then saw the shrine that was defiled.  We gave back treasure that was decorated with flowers.  Made the shrine nice again. 

Apparently we are better interior decorators than tacticians.

We need to find the sage called Cosmo.  We find out he's to the west, south west.  No, I meant the other west.  I don't know my right from my west. But we have food and it's not raining.

We encounter a cabin with a coffin.  She kept saying it was nothing.  I just use it for extra toilet paper and socks.  I didn't buy it.  But she did show us an obelisk.  We read the words.  The words made a little sense which was good.  We stayed the night.  I slept with one eye open.  I don't trust a woman with a coffin in her kitchen.

Ten days march.  We encounter very little except screeching from the hills. 

We come upon a big tower, with a big thorny hedge around it with COSMO'S TOWER cut into the lawn out front.  After a short deliberation of if this was indeed Cosmo's Tower we approached and had a conversation with a floating mouth.  Then a floating hand.  We enter.

Inside we speak with Cosmo.  He has information and he has a prices.  He also had a menu printed.  What information he could tell us and what he wanted for the information.  Very forward thinking.  We need to collect green slime, yellow mold, centipede venom, webs of a giant spider or the testicles of an owlbear. 

We chose the centipede.  Cosmo knew where to find some.  There we went.  Into the forest of big ass trees.  I mean big ass.  Like big.  Ass.  We went into one and found some weird vegetation.  Threw a torch at it and the vegetation moved away.  We all lit torches.

Then the GM stopped the damn game.  Wanted to pick up here next week.  I say we play until then!

If its good enough for JC then it's good enough for me.  Right back at'cha my man.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My First Micro-Sandbox is Live

I seem to always complete these at the end of the day.  But it's done.  Misanthrope Islands is in the books as my first micro-sandbox.  I'll have two micro-adventure that will accompany it.  They'll be completed later this month.  But this really has given me a lot of ideas. 

You can grab a copy over on my Patreon page for free.  I offer all the work I do for Patreon free to the public.  So grab a copy if you like. 

I took suggestions and +Tim Knight wanted some islands.  So I got my colored pencils out and made a map.  This is a nasty place for higher level characters.  I kinda went with a stone giant/earth type creatures for this one.

Anyway, enjoy and whatever you do, don't fail your save.

Game Design Inspiration

One of my favorite tools to use when developing an adventure, magic item or even a story is using tarot cards.  I've got about six or seven different decks.  For my current task, I'm using the Dark Grimoire Tarot.  It's a tarot deck inspired by HP Lovecraft stories.  Need I say more? 

I'm working on a the micro sandbox, Misanthropic Islands, and in area two the players encounter a area blasted by shards of stone.  Mixed within the stones is a massive 100' diameter wheel with script in the center and symbols on the edge. 

It's what I am currently calling Wheel of Fate, a tool of judgment used by the stone giants.  The wheel is divided into a 12 equal parts.  Some good, more bad.  I'm using it like a Deck of Many Things. 

How do the cards come into play?  I grabbed the tarot deck, give them a good shuffle then start flipping over the cards and stop on ones that strike some spark for me.  Some symbol and a consequence/reward that goes with it.  I keep the game mechanics very simple.  But using the wheel can be deadly.  Here is some of what I've come up with.

Okay, back to work.


While I was writing up my 7th micro-adventure, a series of islands that the party can explore, something happened along the way.  I wrote, and as a jammed up the first page with words, another half page was filled also.  This was way too long for a micro-adventure.  I looked over what I wrote and the map and realized, that's because it's not an adventure, it's a micro-sandbox!

But if its gonna be a sandbox, it's gonna need some hexes.  I didn't know how to do that.  So I did what nearly everyone does these days and Googled it.  I found a add on for to make hexes.  All you have to do is DL it and put it in the effects folder.  And BAM!  As you can see above, I got some hexes on my map.  You can alter and change the hexes.  Excellent addition.

So my next Patreon offering will be a micro-sandbox and within the sandbox I am placing two micro-adventures within.  And I am really excited that I now have 15 patrons.  Once in a while I've been sending out the laminated adventures.

On the back of the maps are the area descriptions.  So if you need to run an adventure, a couple of minutes of reading and you'll be all set.  I think with the micro-setting I'll be offering something different.  I'll have to see.

Anyway, back to work.  These maps won't describe themselves.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mail Call: Part 2, Revenge of the Old School

These came in the mail yesterday also, but I didn't want other gamers throwing themselves off of dice towers in a wave of jealousy. 

I found these on eBay.  Very happy to have scored them. 

I had the Rouges Gallery when I was a little puke, but somewhere it went missing.  This one is marked up a bit, highlighted a bit, but I wanted a copy to go with the rest of my stuff.

Lankmar, it took my a while to get my hands on this one.  I tried to score other copies on ebay, two times the person I bought it from did not deliver and a third time I was outbid with minutes to go.  Going to read through and may need to start collecting the Lankmar supplements. 

The Book of Lairs.  I don't think I ever had the first one.  I've had the 2nd one since I was a little puke.  Again, got this one to fill a whole in my collection and I want to get some good ideas.  Really, these were the first micro-adventures I remember and where I got the idea from.

Ebay treated me well this time around.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mail Call! Zine-pocolypse

Look at what came in the mail today.  Just take a look.  Over here.  Yeah, all the zines.  The best part....two of the zines are from new dudes still wet from the placenta. 

I got the 2nd issue of Crawling Under the Broken Moon.  Put a little space in your dungeon.  If you want to run a sci-fi DCC game, this is where you're going to want to start.  +Reid San Filippo looks like he's got something very cool on his hands.  Well done.

The Well of Souls is brought to you by fellow Pennsylvanian, +Carl Bussler.  This is an adventure for the DCC system.  I play in three different groups and not one uses the DCC system and I've got more DCC zines than anything else.  I guess I'll have to tell Ivy that I'm starting a 4th group.  Carl does an incredible job with presenting his adventure.  The zine itself is stylized with deckle edging of the pages, his choice of card stock and interior pages.  Carl did it all, wrote it, drew it and mapped it.

And the other newb to the zine ring is The Undercroft by +Daniel Sell.  You thought I was going to say this one was for DCC also, nope.  Daniel gets down with Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  For some reason I always want to write flaming princess.  As Daniel puts it, this zine is full of death & disease. 

Two out of three zines are new, the third one is still wet behind the ears.  But I think zines are kinda like dog years.  One zine equals 5 to 7 magazines. 

Please give these guys a look.  Grab a copy.  Support their work.  This zine thing is contagious. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

MA #7: Misanthrope Islands Map

Tuesday got wiped out by a migraine.  Arg.  Yesterday was crazy work.  Today a repeat of yesterday, but some how I managed to sketch out a new map for my micro-adventure series, The Misanthropic Islands.  Mini islands with various horrible things for your players to experience. 

This time around I am breaking my barrier of a single, half-page of description.  I'm going to try out something a little different.  Some layout options.  I want to present the information a bit different and it will require more space.  But I want GMs to look at the description and not have to hunt for the information they're looking for.

Over all I like how the map turned out.  I wish the deep sea blue would have blended better.  I'll have to look up a better technique on how to do that. 

I'm hoping to complete Misanthropic Islands this weekend.  I also have some Manor #7 work to do.  I'll post later, about how much great stuff is going into the next issue. 

Until then, enjoy the beaches...just keep your axe and shield within reach.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Lesson in Adventure Writing

I've been blathering on about my micro-adventures for the past couple of weeks, about my Patreon page and getting people involved or at least grabbing a copy of my latest creation.  I like folks playing my adventures.  It's a cool kick.  When I read about game sessions where the players have run through my adventure and how the GM has tweaked the adventure to fit their world/party/system, that's what it's all about for me.

But I'm not here to write about that.

Writing these one-page micro-adventures has been a fun challenge.  I love drawing the maps.  It allows me to do grown up coloring.  But trying to fit a fun, interesting adventure with possibly larger implications on half of a page, forces me to be concise.

Here's some examples from my most recent mico-adventure, The Crypt of Volkov.  It originally was going to be a page and a half, but I went through and slashed the shit out of it.  Waaa!

Here's the initial entry for the room #2 Tomb of Victor Volkov.  The stat box has been removed.

The door to this room is locked.  Opening the door will trigger the pit trap.  Inside the room is stone coffin.  It is carved from the natural stone.  There is a copper plate (long turned green) with an inscription scrawled into the metal.  Also in the room are two gargoyle statues.  They are made of a different, darker stone.  They are perched on pedestols.  The inscription is an archaic form of common.  Any player with a intelligence over 14 can read it, Risen from the ground.  Returned to the ground.  May the ground accept and protect you.  If the statues are attacked or if the party attempts to remove the coffin lid they will attack.  The statues are small, stone golems.  When attacked they get an roll at the same time.  If the golem scores a ’hit’ they grab the weapon.  If it’s a normal weapon it will be broken.  If magical the golem will take any damage the weapon normally does, but they player will need to win a contest of strength to use the weapon again.  The golem’s have an effective strength of 19.
Once activated they will remain so for one day.  They will chase the players to the entance of the crypt.  If destroyed, both have Golem Hearts (valued at 1000sp each) inside.  The coffin lid can beremoved with a combine strength or 30.  Inside is Victor Volkov.  He is dressed in rusted platemail and helm.  Grasped in skeletal hands is a two-handed sword covered in a calcium crust.  If grasped, the sword will transfer some of Victor’s experiences to the first one who touches the sword.  The sword’s name is scawled on the blade, Inviktum Viktorium.  Under the corpse is a secret compartment that contains four gold bars (valued at 100gp each).
Here is the final version.
The door is locked. Opening the door will trigger the pit trap. Inside the room is a stone coffin and two gargoyle statues. The statues are made of a different, darker stone. The statues are small stone golems that will attack if attacked, or if someone tampers with the coffin.  Once activated, they will remain so for one day. They will continue their attack even if it takes them outside of the crypt. A combine strength of 30 is required to move the coffin lid. Inside is Victor Volkov. He is dressed in rusted platemail. Grasped in his skeletal hands is a two-handed sword. The first to touch the sword will gain some of Victor’s experiences (gain 3d6 x 100xp). The sword’s name is scrawled on the blade, Inviktum Viktorium (see below).
Here's what my thinking was.
  1. This is too long for a micro-dungeon.  The whole theory behind it is being concise, be interesting without being generic.  I mention the natural stone...doesn't make a damn bit of difference.  A GM can make the call on that if it comes up.  It has no bearing on the room.  It's out.
  2. The copper plate with the inscription, while I like the nuance of it, it takes up a lot of space.  Three and a half lines.  While I did like that detail it needed to go.  Why?  Because it had nothing to do with what's going on in the room.  That darling needed to be killed.
  3. For some reason I thought it would be cool if the stone golems caught and broke the weapons swung at them, but it isn't a know skill of a golem (probably too slow for that anyway) and it took up a lot of space to explain how they would use it in game.  Four freaking lines.  This one needed to go again.  The golems are going to be difficult enough.
  4. Golem hearts.  I like the sound of them and thought they'd be an interesting find, but there was already a cool magic item to be found in here and I would need to go into a long explanation for a new magic item.  This got slashed due to it being redundant in this room, but stored in the memory locker to be used at another time.
  5. And I got rid of the secret treasure beneath Victor.  Again, another redundancy that took up too many lines.
With those five edits  I went from 20 lines to 9.  This room alone would have put me over my allotted space.  This is one room out of the six.  All of them had cuts.  In the end I think the adventure is better for it.

A micro-adventure should be something the GM can read through in a couple of minutes then be prepared to get the game going.  I appreciate a long adventure, but I'm lousy at digesting that much material unless I run it over and over again.  These adventures you can pop into your head with no prep time.  And the reason why I need to keep them short....unlike this post.

That's a glimpse into my brain while I write these adventures.  I've got some good ones on the assembly line.  I hope you stick around to see what's next.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Matt Jackson, Zine Maestro

The other day I mentioned I received a zine, A Collection of Presentations, Cartographical in Nature: Patreon Maps, Vol. 1, created by +matt jackson.  A collection of his maps accompanied by flavor text to bring the maps alive.

The physical nature of the zine is incredible.  Matt pays a lot of attention to the details.  To the paper he selects for the cover and inside pages, to the stitch binding and to the rounded corners.  Matt has made his zine into a piece of art beyond the content.

His layout is simple and effective.  A short write up on one side of the page and the accompanying map.  I couldn't capture the true color of the pages.  It looks like yellowed antique pages from an old tome. 

Matt chose a font to give the appearance his zine was written with an old typewriter.

You can see here that he hand bound each zine.  And each map has a footnote that gives the name of the map and the date it was published.

Matt has created a zine that sets the bar for me.  It seriously is an fantastic zine.  And while I am singing the praises of Matt, the guy is humble and generous.  This month he is leading a funding drive for Wounded Warriors.  You can join in the drive by either joining his Patreon page and donate for every map that's published.  He's got top-notched guys lined up.  You'll get enough maps to run an entire campaign without ever having to pick up a pencil.  Or if you just want to donate direct please click on WWP Project page.  Matt's looking to raise $1000 and he has already raised over $400.  He's running it for the month of July.  Let's see if we can smash the shit out of that $1000 goal!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Micro Adventure #6: Getting a Dungeon Crawl On

All my previous efforts have been outside adventure sites.  The ones I have planned for the immediate future are also outside.  I'm planning on doing a series of islands, and some villages are cued up.  But for this one I decided to go for the classic linear lines of a dungeon crawl.  Or in this case, a crypt crawl.  I'm hoping to finish it by tomorrow.  I'll be free to download on my Patreon page.  I've got five micro adventures up so far.  Please go check them out.  And if you end up using one, let me know how it went.

I'm off to the bookstore.  For an expensive coffee.  I hardly ever drink coffee at home, never at work, but mark it up 700% and squirt in some caramel and I'm there.

Friday, July 4, 2014

GM Games June Sales Report

Here is my monthly sales report.  No new releases this month.  I've been working on getting issue #7 of The Manor completed.  I've had several requests for folks wanting to get into the zine which has been fantastic.  It's also got me to thinking if I continue to get inquires to have some sort of guidelines.  But guidelines in a very loose way.  I want people to bring what gets them excited to the zine even if it doesn't fit within the parameters of the guidelines.  I guess that will be a different post.

Interesting Numbers
  • Manor #6 has become my best selling issue in the first two months of sales.  Manor #1 sold 93 copies.  Manor #6 sold 105 copies.  
  • A total of 1112 copies of the first six Manors have been sold.  When I added the number I was floored.  I had no idea.  Manor #1 accounts for 355 sales alone.  Can't wait to get the next issue out.
Here is the break down in sales last month.
I had 45 sales.  All the print sales came from 3 bundle orders at the beginning of the month.  PDF sales trickled in throughout the month.  The PDF bundle of the Manors was the major selling point also.  It makes sense, when I bundle stuff together these is usually a cheaper price attached than buying them individually. 

Thanks to everyone for the support.  I'm hoping July will go well.  It'll be tough to get through all the 5th edition D&D noise.  And I know I'll be distracted by checking it out.

Micro-Adventure #5: Ghost Ship

My latest Micro-Adventure #5: Ghost Ship can be downloaded for free at my Patreon page.  It was something I had partly done in my hopper.  Then +Tim Knight, one of my brilliant patrons, asked for some waterborne adventures.  I plan on doing some small island hopping ones in the future. 

You can download the adventure with or without the background or as a picture.  If this kind of thing floats your boat (hell yes that pun was intended) please become a patron of my page and you'll find a little something, something in your mailbox once in a while. 

And another thanks to the guys who've been using these adventures and posting about how they played.  

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Major Mail Call

I mentioned back in June that I didn't participate in Free RPG Day.  Out of the blogosphere came +Brutorz Bill, (Green Skeleton Gaming Guild) he said he had a few things he had to share.....

Yeah he did.  Holy crap.

I haven't ready Elric since I was a young man with lots of hair.  Things have changed since then, but I'll bet it reads just as good now. 

The last two years of LotFP.  Something tells me these are going to destroy my campaign.

Some comic books.  Reign in Hell, sounds very interesting.

And finally, The World of Synnibarr and Monsters of the Endless Dark.  I've heard of Synnibarr, but don't know anything about it.  And a monster manual...oh yeah.

Fantastic mail day...I got something from Matt Jackson also, but want to give it its own space.

I huge thanks to +Brutorz Bill for making my weekend with his generosity.