Monday, August 31, 2015

My Patreon Mail Offerings

I completed three mico-adventures this month.  I did a short video to show the finish product and what my patrons get in the mail each month.  To my patrons I should have these in the mail by Wednesday.  Thanks for your support.  Enjoy!

Pits & Perils & More Systems

Our next game exploration is Pits & Perils.  +Chris C. has written an adventure for the system.  When he told me he was going to run it using that system I knew about it, but never looked at it.  Chris said you could fit a character sheet on a note card.  So when I made up my character I used a 4" x 6" note card and it fit with plenty of room to spare.

While it is a simple fantasy RPG, it has some interesting differences.  Most notable, to me, was the combat system.  I wrote the rules on my character sheet, the better you roll (it is a 2d6 system) the more damage you do.  There are variables like if your using a two-handed weapon in which case you get a +1 to your damage.

Our small group is planning on experimenting with other game systems.  I believe +Ken H wants to return to his Monteport setting using the Blood & Treasure system.  And I've been reading and writing adventures for a Dragon Age adventure.  I recently received the core book for Dragon Age and I have the a few Dragon Age 'history' books to help me figure out the background.

I guess I should go.  It's Monday and I've got bills to pay.  Although right now I would love nothing more than to draw a couple maps.

Friday, August 28, 2015

...and I watched the world burn.

Wednesday was the conclusion for my Esoterrorist one-shot adventure that lasted for ten and a half months.  +Chris C. and +Ken H explored the reality fragile world of Saegertown, Pennsylvania.  It started with a suicide of a high school student.  A high number of suicides in the area is an indicator that there is a problem with The Veil.

Along the way they encountered a conspiracy theorist psychic, a small town sheriff, a transvestite witch and his pizza shop owning sister, a professor of geomancy disguised as a nurse, a man who phased out of reality, and a little boy that the world forgot. 

They investigated several sites in the area where suicides and murders occurred.  And these sites were accompanied by arcane symbols and primitive magics.  Ley lines came into play, but when everything was said and done, the focus returned to the place where it all started, the Beckett House.

From the beginning the Beckett House was rife with activity.  Mysterious gateways, Ouija boards, visions of the past and demons filled these deteriorating walls.  Time and time again the investigators returned seeking answers, but often left with more questions.

In the end, they sacrificed themselves. Sacrificed the reality they knew.  In the end, they stood at the center as they watched the world burn.  And when there was nothing but the black ash that followed them throughout the adventure, they rebuilt.  They rebuilt a place that was very familiar, but very different from their own.  Now they were the anomalies of this reality and the gateway to oblivion. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

30 Second Magic Items

At lunchtime I asked for folks to take 30-seconds to create a new magic item, this is what I got so far.  Please add you own if you feel so inspired.  I trick is keep it to a short time and write with thinking about the logic of it.

So here is the one I came up with:

Mogger Bearing:  A simple metal ball and the end of a stick.  While it looks like a simple mace it sucks as a weapon, but is actually a part of a larger instrument.  Spinning this on the ground will tell you which direct you need to go.

+Tim Snider 
Pathfinder's Arrow: This is a simple wooden arrow with a small hole through the center of the shaft. The arrow needs to be threaded and hung on a string so it can swing freely. If the name of a location, object, or person is said aloud, the arrow will pivot to point in that direction. If said object is above/below, the arrow will slowly rotate.

Morgan's Laugh Fae:  This set of fake teeth is activated by a secret phrase (Merlin's Beard!) and automatically starts telling jokes in elvish.  All people of Elvish descent in range need to save vs Spells or be disabled for 2d12 rounds in peals of laughter -- unable to do anything but roll on the floor laughing.  Non-elves who understand elvish will get the jokes but not find them funny.
ribcage xylophone that causes knee knocking and shivering if played, -4 save against cold, -2 morale and -3 move.
Domark' Coin: this strange rusted coin appears to have been used to pry something open. Legend holds the great thief Domark once had a lucky coin he always carried.

Game use: If held in the hand when attempting to open a lock increases your chances by +2 once per day. 

+Mike Elston 
Verkingtorax's Pomander of the skunk: a small metal ball 2" in diameter that gives off the smell of a skunk to anyone not within a 12' circle whenever the sliding cover is slid to expose the small piercings. (think an incense censor (sp?))

Used to allow the bearer to evade creatures that hunt by scent.
 +Ken H 
Google Plus Geas: Wielder of this device commands others to name a magic item within 30 seconds. No saving throw.
A Small Dollop of Green - Green is a mutable magical byproduct that has seeped down into the bowls of the earth, meandering through the depths for hundreds of years, infused with psychic essences - it yearns to be more than waste.

When a player acquires A Small Dollop of Green  they have 30 seconds to decide what small hand-held magical item it will transform itself into, for 30 seconds.
A cool collection of instant magic items.  Except for Ken's.  He's a smartass and probably why we get along so well.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Village of Osmolt Coming Soon

It's been a wait, but the continuation of Denizon's Folly is finally done, Village of Osmolt.  Well almost done.  I need to read through it and fix a few things and Whisk is going to draw me a few silhouette pieces.  I'm hoping to release it tonight or tomorrow morning.  There is another piece to this adventure that will detail Blasfeemus Tower (on the map to the right).  So there is a part three to this adventure. 

I struggle with this adventure quite a bit.  Trying to capture some details of a fey realm that were different and challenging to the party.  Without getting too out of whack.  There are a couple of random tables included that I think help with this.  After rewriting this adventure more times than I remember I like how it turned out.  You'll need a patient crew and if they are quick to combat the might find themselves is way worse trouble.  This adventure is a bit of a mystery, trying to find the three missing children.  So many things have happened since they disappeared.

As always, my micro-adventures are always a free PDF download.  And with it you get the GM map as seen above and a blank players map in case you want to run this on-line and not give away locations.  This micro-adventure is in zine format so my $5 patrons and above will get a print copy at the end of the month with the rest of what I get done this month.

This is MA#31, I have 5 micro-locations and did one micro-sandbox.  Once I get 50 under my belt I plan to put them in book form on Lulu.  I'll need to reformat some of them, but overall everything I've written for my Patreon will be included.  I am figuring out how to reward my patrons, especially my long term ones.  I'll announce more details when it get closer. 

Half of the proceeds will go to Jim Ward's GoFundMe campaign.   When I first purposed doing this I think it was around $2000 and I see today it's over $13000!  I wish him well and hope it helps.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dragon Age One or Two Shot

I continue to tinker with the Dragon Age setting and AGE ruleset.  I'm enjoying the process and like the system.  of course I won't know exactly how much I like it or not like it until it gets played.  I'm using the box sets in this case, primarily the first one.  When the big book becomes available I'll snag a copy.  (although I heard they used a crappy binding and that makes me nervous for such a big book!)

I've read through the first box set a few times.  I'm trying to get a better grasp on the setting of Dragon Age, Thedas.  I don't think I've ever used a ready made setting before.  I like the setting, lots of cultures clashing, political intrigue, class/race wars and a big enemy, the darkspawn.  That's a good start.  It's a dense setting, meaning you can get a lot of play out of a small area.  So you don't need to be an expert about the whole setting.

I'm focusing my adventure in the Red Cliffe Village.  A simple enough adventure with what I hope interesting encounters and a twist or two.  The first short adventure is called, "The Day Butter Died".  I won't explain the title or adventure until after I've playtested it. 

There will be a few rule changes.  I'll list the changes in a later post. 

The one thing that has been challenging and this is from a layout point of view, is formatting the stat blocks is difficult and they take up a lot of room.  Usually I'll do my own version, but I haven't found a way to format them differently and providing the same information. 

But those are the challenges I love to have.  I know a few of you have posted that you've played in the Dragon Age game I was curious if there were any problems that you ran into?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The End Begins

Well, it looks like after almost a year I will get to complete the Esoterrorist adventure I started at Con on the Cob last October.  After some time off, a job change and some tinkering with the laws of time and space, +Chris C. and +Ken H are going to resume their roles as investigators for AEGIS and complete the final chapter in the adventure.

After a bizarre road winding through rural Pennsylvania, investigating suicides, horrific murders, small town cults and encountering a 'thing' or two, the investigators find themselves standing at the front door of the Beckett House.  The place where it all began. 

So much has changed since then.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Saved My Monday

My mailbox is my friend most of the time.  I enjoy going there when I know I've got a little something waiting for me. Today I wasn't expecting anything.  I had a few items I needed to mail out.  When I opened my post box I was very surprised and very happy.  +matt jackson and +Christian Walker saved my Monday.  Both sent me one-page zines.  They are good and fun to get. 

This is the 4th installment of Christian's the tolling of the great black bell.  Love that name.  Bonus points if you can identify where it comes from.  I'll give you a abstract hint...walnut.  muhaha  Go check out Christian's site, he does a video for each one.  He cracks me up when he says "Thanks for the Googles". 

Matt Jackson, inspired by Mr. Walker, has created The Ten Foot Pole.  His first offering features The Molted Branch.  It is very, very good. 

I plan on grabbing an empty binder to put keep track of these one page gems. 

Then I got more dice....I know, I know.  But these were gold and gold and ivory and if I'm gonna play a new game I need new dice?  Right?  Guys?  Back me on this one.  

To Combat or Not To Combat, What Does Your System Say?

+Douglas Cole penned a post recently, Character Study - why focus on combat?  He writes about developing an effective combat character within the rules of the game.  Go check it out and the previous post where he discusses his paladin in 5E (which I fireballed last session and rolled the best damn damage I'd ever thrown, of course the dragon was immune, but poor Marcus was not).

My take on this is very similar, my characters need to be combat ready.  +Rob Conley runs a medieval fantasy with lots of ancient Roman influences.  While there is a lot of roleplaying, there is also a lot of combat.  Rarely do you get anywhere without a weapon in your hand.  Or several hundred other behind you with weapons in their hands.  Like Doug mentioned, it takes a special player/group that won't take action during combat.  The majority of the rules of nearly all fantasy game are for the organization of combat. 

I have played one character I can think of where I played a non-combatant.  But my character was incredibly rich (we were playing 3E GURPS at the time and I plowed 50 points inn wealth) and ran one arm of a thieves guild.  He didn't have any combat ability to speak of, but he had a lot of people around him that did. 

+Zzarchov Kowolski's game, Neoclassical Geek Revival has a completely different take on combat.  I had the fortune of playing in his game a time or two, but in his game, if an encounter ends in combat it is considered a failed encounter.  Whoa!  Took me a while to wrap my head around that concept, but I loved how it played out.  But his system is not combat oriented so it made it easier to avoid a bloody conflict.

In this most recent 5e game I've played three characters so far.  The first two went off to do their own thing.  I had Sidwin, a rogue who's ideals did not match with where the party was going so he went his own way.  While he did not shy away from combat, it had to be for the right reason.  A rogue with a moral compass if you will. 

Then there was my lizardman gladiator, Leshar.  He was only around for a few sessions, but he was all about the combat of course.  Loud and brash.  He burned down a keep and battle the sheriffs elite guards as the world burned around him.  It was the best day of his life.  He soon parted company with the party because as soon as we defeated the sheriff and his men, we handed over the keys to the place to another adventuring party.  Leshar found the secret way into the keep and got out with a hefty fortune and left town before the party gave that away to the other adventuring party.

Finally I have a mage.  A timid mage who is not good at confrontation.  Combat makes him nervous and is scares him to cast fireball.  And after he murderized the party paladin last week he's going to like casting it less.

I've rambled off topic.  But I believe where systems are built primarily to resolve combat its difficult not to gear a character towards it.  Can it done?  Of course.  And it would be challenging for both the GM and the player.  And even more difficult with a party to succeed in a combat-adverse campaign.  But that would be an interesting game.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Patreon Pledge to Jim Ward's GoFundMe...I Hope Others Join In

Hey guys, I know you've seen this FundMe going around the past couple days to help Jim Ward with medical costs.  I received an email from a long time supporter +Tony T that brought my attention to Jim Ward's situation.

So here's what I plan to do:
I will use 50% of the money I make from Patreon this month and donate it to Jim Ward's Fundme.  With a minimum of $100.  I'm hoping for $200.

I encourage the other folks who have a Patreon or have enjoyed Jim's work to pledge.  I'm not asking anyone to do what I plan to do, but maybe toss a few bucks in, whatever anyone can afford without causing a hardship for yourself.

Why I am doing this:
For me, this is another reason why I do my Patreon, it allows me to donate money, to give back with resources I wouldn't have had otherwise.  To help another gamer out.  I'm a huge believer in giving back to the community and that comes in many forms.  I've given away more gaming stuff than I can count and I have receive more gaming books than I can remember.  Some of my supporters who have gone through a tough patch and unable to pay for one of my zines or adventures will still find it in their mail.  Donating so someone can buy a book, more pens, go to a con, ect...  And then there are the serious situations like what Jim and his family are going through.

Why I can do this:
The OSR is made up of generous folks who go out of their way to help with gaming and real life situations.  It's one of the reason I've stuck around as long as I have.  I've met a ton of great folks because of gaming (even when they squabble).

This is my clumsy attempt at giving back a little.  If it wasn't for my supporters of my zines and Patreon I wouldn't be able to do this.  I thank you ladies and guys for the privilege of allowing me to help out someone whose work I've enjoyed over the years.

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

July Mythoard Video

I am a fan of Mythoard, it's no secret.  I decided to do a video of me going through all the contents.  It's not a true unboxing cause I opened it up at work.  I'm not going to wait until I get home. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Micro Adventures Join Now!

I had my beautiful assistant finish the cutting and cropping duties.  Now they are ready to go.  I've updated all the addresses and added the new ones. 

Join Now! 
I should have a jagged bubble around that.  If you join my Micro-Adventures Patreon at the $2.50 or higher level now, you'll get the Crypt of Sir Reginald and Echo Patrol as a thank you for joining.

What You Get!
  • Each month I complete 2 to 4 micro-adventures.  These consist of a map drawn by me, mostly colored hand drawn maps.  And a very short adventure to plug into your game where ever you see fit.  Because of their micro size they won't take up a ton of space in your campaign world and east to work in.  I also write micro-locations and sandboxes.
  • At the $2.50 level you get all the laminated 4" x 6" card adventures and the laminated 5.5" x 8" half sheet adventures.  As seen above.  
  • At the $5 level you receive the laminated adventures and the zine sized adventures.  These are not laminated.  
  • In addition to these, when I release an adventure on-line, you'll get the PDF version for free.
  • At the $10 level I am still working out.  You'll get all the above and a couple other benfits I am working out.
Thanks to all my supporters.  I hope you'll get your adventures before the weekend.  

Trying Different Systems or Thinning Out the Experience

I have been in a mood lately where I want to experiment with different systems.  Most notable system I've been discussing lately has been Dragon Age.  And with that the AGE system in general.  I've also been toying with sci-fi settings and adventures.  There are a few systems available out there now that I could use, but I've been using a basic system so far.  If I got serious enough about it I would use White Star.  Or Stars Without Numbers which I've never had the chance to play.  The only sci-fi game I was in was a Traveller game where I had the most useless character for the mission and my job was to pretty much stay out of the way.  So that was fun. 

The other system I've been toy with is Pathfinder.   I don't see myself running a game of it.  There are too many do-dads for my taste, but there is a lot of good stuff I've been wanting to transform into a system of my own choosing.  I love some of the adventure paths and how they set up the books.  I could see someone in the OSR run with that model.

A few months ago I was running Esoterrorists on Wednesday nights.  I think we enjoyed the GUMSHOE system for that kind of setting.  And with a few copies of Silent Legions in my hands I of course have been tempted to create a few occult adventures set in the backwoods of Pennsylvania.  We've taken a break from it and one of the other guys on Wednesday wants to run a Pits & Perils game.  I haven't had a chance to look at it, but I have heard that it is reminiscent of early 70's rpgs.  He wants to run a one-shot.  I like that we can jump right in and game only knowing a little about system. 

Monday nights we continue on with our D&D 5E game.  Tonight I think we finish our assault on a dragon lair/corrupt elven taig.  My initial liking for 5E has definitely lessened as we continue.

A few weeks back I played in a 4e GURPS game where we delved into an amazing game prop and explored the graveyard of Sanctuary and its first of two levels of under-crypts.  It was a lot of fun and I'm always glad to play in a GURPS game, but I don't think I would want to try to GM a game. 

And I almost forgot that the B-Team has switch gears a bit and last time we played it was Far and Away Land.  I remember having fun, but can't remember any details.

Some of the other systems I've tried throughout the year were Dungeon Crawl Classics, Crypt Masters, Blood & Treasure, Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry Complete and Core

And games I want to try, but haven't had a chance to really get into yet are, Hillfolk, Torchbearer, Dungeon World, Hackmaster and The Strange.

While I enjoy trying out new games, I love nothing more than getting into a committed campaign that may last for a year or longer.  Which we do often.  And one of the reasons why I added some Wednesday nights to play different systems.  Mondays are committed to campaigns.

I admit gaming ADD is something I struggle with at times.  But I like bringing in elements from different systems or someone else's game, into my own game. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Fantastic Four Review

I don't usually do film reviews, but I went out this morning to catch the first showing of the day.  For $5 and only a handful of other people it's a win win.

When I collected comics as a kid the Fantastic Four was my favorite group.  The Thing my favorite superhero.  When they released the previous Fantastic Four from...what about 10 years ago...I was disappointed.  Nope, I was pissed.  I'll give a little ground that the second one was better, but that's like saying an infected open sore smells better than a maggot covered corpse. 

The hype leading up to this movie has been all negative.  I can't think of anything positive except maybe one guy saying the movie was horrible, but at least it was short.  Which I can appreciate.  Then you have the idiots bitching about the Torch being played by a black guy.  When I hear complaints like that I put them in that special little box in my mind where senseless dumb stuff get thrown in the incinerator.  Then you had the director saying the movie is different from the one he cut.  So, not too much good was said about it.

But I don't give two shits or a nickle what others say about a film.  I'll make up my own damn mind. 

My expectation for this movie was nothing more than to watch a superhero movie on the big screen.  And appreciate it for what it is, tumors and all.

I liked the movie.  It was a decent movie for a summer watch.  That's all I wanted.  It is a very flawed movie, yes.  My biggest complaint is one I have for many superhero movies that always want to go over the goddamn origin story again and again and again.  I've seen batman's parents get shot enough.  I've seen Uncle Ben get whacked enough and the radioactive spider chomp Peter, I've seen enough versions of Superman crashing into a country cornfield to make me puke.  The difference however for those examples is they embraced becoming something different.

For some reason it has become canon that the Fantastic Four must bitch about being changed.  Then, near the end they accept who they are.  This version of the Fantastic Four is no different.  Except for Torch.  Torch always likes being the Torch.  It's like these movies are a first level adventure that they keep using over and over and rarely do we get to see them reach a different level.  Avengers does this well, showing the development of power and its cost.

Despite the whiny part in the middle, the Fantastic Four had some interesting bits in it.   I really enjoyed the dimension they were exploring.  They called it Planet Zero.  I'm not sure where that falls in the mythology of the FF4.  I remember the Negative Zone!  It kinda looked like the Negative Zone.

The boss fight at the end seemed to have been cut down.  I liked the introduction of Dr. Doom, it was kinda creepy.  But the final fight was over quick. 

Will I run out and see this film again?  No.  Will I get it on DVD?  Probably not.  Am I glad I went and saw it?  Absolutely.  It was a fun summer movie.  Just check your expectations at the door and sit back have fun.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Adventure Writing Tool...or The Fingerprint and the Frick'n Monkey

The recipe to create this adventure writing tool is easy enough.  Take one excellent +Michael Althauser dice bag and fill with a shit ton of Rory's Story Cubes.  I've got the first three sets included and then three other add on sleeves of story cubes.  When I am writing a room, encounter or a situation I reach into the bag and grab 1 to 3 dice.  The number I grab is determined by how much I want to be happening or happen within the framework of the adventure.  I roll the dice and run with the images that come up.  Not all the dice are going to make sense.  Or fit.  If not, feel free to substitute or ignore.

I've got the party traveling along a road that hasn't been used in a sometime, so surround landscape has taken over most of the road.  They are using the road to get to the location where they've heard there are bad guys (or good guys depending on your group).  I want to have a encounter along the way.  Some sort of thing to foreshadow the area they are entering.  So I reach in my dice bag and pull out two story cubes:

I got a fingerprint and a frick'n monkey.  Shit.  Okay.

My interpretation of these dice are this.  The party is attacked by some sort of wildlife.  Since I've been working on Dragon Age stuff, I'm going to say they were attacked by a pack of wild dogs.  A nasty group that wear armor around their back and heads.  The fingerprint is a symbol that will connect or identify these dogs are connected with the bad guys the party is looking for.

If the party survives the dogs, they continue up the road and hear barking coming from a cave entrance.  These dogs are also wearing armor.  Thus connecting the dogs on the road with the bad men in the cave. 

Is this important?  No clue.  But it helps connect a narrative of the adventure.  To give it an unusual flair.  One I wouldn't have probably thought of if I hadn't rolled a fingerprint and a frick'n monkey.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Breathing in the Fumes to Make a Better Gaming World for You

Here's a stack of micro-adventures on the verge of been coated in hot plastic.  Hmmm, smells so good.  Everyone in my Patreon at the $2.50 and above level will get both these adventures.  Even the new dudes who just joined.  I like to do that as a thanks for contributing to my little adventure madness.

This month I completed two micro-adventures, Crypt of Sir Reginald and Echo Patrol.  The Crypt of Sir Reginald is the top layer of a micro-mega dungeon.  That's right, an oxymoron.  I have two other levels mapped and the second level almost done.  And Echo Patrol was my very first sci-fi micro-adventure.  It was fun to do.  It help unjam my creative funk by going outside what I normally do.

After I get done laminating and I slur my words, don't worry, it's just from the poisonous plastic fumes I breath (yes I inhale) to make a better product for you. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Minimalistic Gaming

My gaming  background is Basic D&D, AD&D for many years, jumped to GURPS before 2nd edition hit and stayed with it for several more years and most recently its been retro clones and other systems.  Kinda went full circle. 

+Ken H started this thread, +Chris C. picked up on it and then +Rob Conley just posted also about the subject of minimal gaming.  All of them discuss their strategies and concerns about running a minimal game.  A game where there is a single class, maybe two to choose from.  Little to no magic.  Healing becomes a scared thing and needs to be obtained and protected.  This is done to allow the rules to stay far in the background while players explore.  Where fighting becomes a last ditch tactic, not the go to bum rush.  Players develop their own ideas and concepts of how to interact with their environment without relying on a roll to determine the outcome.

Individual taste will always determine whether this is of interest or the equivalent of paint drying.  From my perspective this sounds like a blast.  I've run several low level magic campaigns and high magic campaigns.  I like the low level magic  campaigns a lot more.  I use the mind set of a Arthurian world where powerful magic exists, but it is behind the scenes.  It moves slow.  There are weaker, petty magics such as alchemy that can reproduce magical effects on a much smaller scale. 

Take this a step farther where even plate armor and swords are rare.  They would be considered valuable treasure.  In a world full of leather armor and spears the man with plate armor rules.  I like campaigns and rulesets that cater to making simple items that fantasy tropes assume and the become valuable by making them scarce. 

Does this create a bland, vanilla world?  Only if you allow it.  Some people just won't enjoy this kind of game and that's understandable.  But I think most would find a game where exploration and survival are valued over the accumulation of power and fancy babbles more interesting.  How many games have you been in where you had to decide which magical weapons to use?  Or the party goes into town to sell off all their scrolls because its just more weight to carry around?  Or the party needed an Excel sheet to keep track of all the treasure they carry around?  I like a world where the discovery of a sword is a big deal.  Where exploration is critical to discover more resources. 

I may have gotten off track a bit.  Just a wee bit.  But system and world using minimal rules does not restrict  player's freedom.  It does not restrict options.  If anything it cracks the possibilities wide open.  When the GM asks "What do you do?"  You don't look at your character to your character sheet to see what you can do, but you starting grinding out ideas, limited by what a group of people can think of.  And that's a scary lot.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mail Call Vlog!

So I've been getting all this great stuff in the mail and I thought I'd do in a video format for fun and to save some time.  I was right about the fun.  Not so much about saving time.  But here's my first vlog, Ivy shot it with her tablet while I said cool way too many times.