Monday, November 30, 2015

Blaspheemus Tower

I completed the last leg of a trio of Micro-Adventures tonight for my Patreon campaign.  I would not consider this a micro-adventure thought since it doesn't fit on the back of a note card, or on a half page sheet.  This one ended up being 11 pages long, including a cover and credit page.  I grabbed this image off of RPGNow a while back, one of +Jeremy Hart's great pieces.  I used another piece of his  for the cover of Stone Fields of Azoroth.  I dig his creepy, deep shadow work. 

I plan on doing a PDF and combining the first two adventures, Denizon's Folly and Village of Osmolt with Blaspheemus Tower.  Normally I share my micro-adventures with everyone, but once in a while I share things only with my patrons, a little special something for their support.  I released the PDF of this adventure tonight and hope to have the combined PDF done sometime in December. 

This is the grimmest of the three adventures.  I drew inspiration from old world faerie tales where the world is grim and harsh and the endings are brutal.  I like these types of adventures and endings because it creates the possibility that even when the heroes save the day, the people they save don't always win.  Their horrible fate is exchanged for another. 

It's a subject I hope to write more about in the future.  For me, these kind of endings, situations where the the heroes thought they were doing good just made it worse, makes the gaming world more interesting.  I love a good old smash the evil things, grab the gold.  We are good.  You are bad.  But to keep my interest I need that vast, gray area of morality to come into play.  

More on that later.  If you would like to get a PDF of the trio of adventure consider joining my Patreon campaign, Micro-Adventures.  If you get in on the $5 pledge, you'll get a print copy when it's finished. 

Now back to work.  The 5-day holiday weekend has crashed to a sudden and inevitable end.  Monday just kicked the door down and pissed in my Cheerios. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Zine Vaults, a Kickstarter that Kicked Ass [Review]

A few months back +Carl Bussler and +Eric Hoffman, of Stormlord Publishing, created a Kickstarter, The Zine Vault.   I jumped in right away because I have quite a bit of interest in the OSR zine culture that has grown over the years.  And Carl and Eric do an incredible job with everything they do.  The Zine Vault scheduled completion date was November.  And last time I checked the calendar, it's November.  Carl and Eric delivered on time and, as always, produced an excellent product!

 There were five designs, six if you count a blank option, of Zine Vaults to choose from.  I got a sampling of all of them; Post-Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Great Old Ones,  Sci-Fi, and Six-Guns & Sorcery.  Originally the boxes were going to have Zine Vault printed on the side, but that proved too costly from what I remember.  I was a bit disappointed by this originally, but now that I have the boxes I see it as an opportunity to personalize the boxes and to name the boxes for what is inside. 

Let's look at the inside of the these boxes.  They are made of heavy cardboard and lined with a dark matting.  Before the Zine Vault Kickstarter I looked around quite a bit for heavy boxes to store my zine, but I could never find the right size.  I found a couple of boxes that would have fit two stack of zines inside, but they were always Christmas themed.  I don't want a glittery, smiling snowman guarding my zines. 

Here's my stash of boxes I received.  Lots of boxes soon to be filled and given purpose. 

In the description, Zine Vaults are supposed to hold 6 zines.  I was able to easily fit 10, 24-page zines!  And if I chose to go over a little I think I could squeeze in one or two more without blowing the top off.  As a sire note, I just received my first shipment from Brave Halfling's Kickstarter, two copies of The Ruins of Ramat. 

So this concludes the Zine Vault tour.  I asked Carl and Eric if they would sell Zine Vaults after  completing the Kickstarter orders, and the answer is YES.  After all the KS order are complete, Zine Vaults will be available at Stormlord Publishing.  Indulge your zines, treat them with the luxury they deserve.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Questioning the Rules and Conversion

Monday night was Fantasy Age where I play a mage that is always one inch taller than anyone he meets.  He and the group are working for the Consortium (dimensional travelers who collect species of other dimensions).  We've contracted with them to collect five sentient beings.  We've opted to get some orcs.  The previous session we did the same contract and inadvertently grabbed five goblins.  And learned that the better shape they are in the more units (their money - the Consortium excels in magic item creation and only accepts units in exchange) are earned.

This time we thought we'd go for orcs...and we did.  But we killed too
many of them and were overwhelmed by their numbers.  We tuck tail and ran back to regroup.  I believe I failed the group on this one.  I'm Mr. Healer, I've got mad first aid skills and the only one with healing spells.  I let the fighter folk drop too far down instead of maintaining them through the entire fight.  While it is within the rules, I feel that it is an exploitation of a flawed rule.  I mentioned in a previous post that first aiding someone in the middle of a battle is ridiculous.  And while I understand it is a fantasy world with lots of ridiculous stuff that I don't even blink at, for what ever reason I get stuck on it being unrealistic rule.  The GM tweaked it this time though and added another qualifier to be able to use first aid in battle and the person must also have healing magic ability.  Which I do.  So my one inch taller than everyone else dude is super cool.

On Tuesday night we continued our Pits & Perils sessions.  It was the conclusion to my turn as GM.  Each of use has taken a crack at running adventures.  +Chris C. and +Ken H had adventures that required 3 sessions.  I hogged the microphone for 5 sessions.  They were searching for a death mask located in the Valley of the Dead.  They have been battling a religious cult, Memento Mori, that worships St. Hesta, the Plagued One.

The session ended with the party successfully getting the death mask.  But the more interesting event was when they encountered a cleric of St. Hesta trapped within the tomb.  They battled for a short time before the cleric fled.  The party found the cleric quivering being his work table pleading for mercy (when I have NPC of significance I usually label them with an actor's name and proceed to do a horrible imitation, this guy was Peter Lorre).  What happened Chris's cleric was able to convert the weak willed man and immediately changed his name to Pshaw.  So the party's cleric earned his first acolyte.

Chris's turn next week.

To those of you who are getting fat and watching football tomorrow, enjoy the holiday.  I am enjoying a 5-day weekend and the kitchen is already filled with incredible smells.  So excuse me while I sneak away to tear off a chunk of fresh bread and grab an apple spice cupcake.  It is a burden to live with a baker.  I must eat them for the good of all mankind.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Map: The Lost Temple of St. Hesta

Here's the latest map I've been tinkering with.  Not sure if I am dine tinkering, it is a little heavy on the right side.  I'm going to keep this one clean, no silhouettes.  I like the look of the numbers sitting in the center of the rooms. 

St. Hesta
St. Hesta the Plagued One is a Petty God who believes in the dualism of existence.  Her philosophy reflects that of the Cathars and Bogomils (to name two), they believe there is a good god and a bad god.  Anything that is of this physical world is evil and the spiritual world is good.  I'm simplifying the shit out of it, but that is the general premise.

St. Hesta believes the use of disease is the most efficient and righteous way to to transition from the material world into the spiritual world.  It provides someone time to giveaway all their earthly possessions to enter the spirit form unburdened and unhindered.

Her followers are divided into three castes and I blatantly ripped this part off from the Minbari of Babylon 5 fame.  There are the workers, warriors and clerical castes.  The workers are undead, common people or warriors who have fallen in battle that return as skeletons to assist a cleric in their duties.  The warriors see a black and white world, they are not prone to thinking through things, but reacting and defeating those who would interfere with St. Hesta's will.  And her clerics are potent disease spreaders that have the unusual ability to see the future.  The see a possible future and act upon it.

I created St. Hesta for our current Pits & Perils game.  I'll do a formal write up later.

Enjoy your Monday.  I only have a two-day work week.  Looking forward to some time off and too much food.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Age System with a How I Suck at Rolling Dice Rant Mixed In original

For the past two Mondays a group of has been getting together to play Fantsy Age set in +Rob Conley's  Majestic Wilderlands.  Dwayne, the GM, really likes the AGE system.  He wanted to give it a run and see how it works.  Cause just because it looks good don't mean it plays good.

I think it plays very well.

I rolled a character, ended up being a mage, human, poor, artist, but a charming fellow.  I took my magic in healing and lightning.  And the skills I took (or focuses) are in healing and lore.  So I am sorta of a glorified band-aid.  One of his quicks I gave him is he is always one inch taller than anyone standing next to him.  One of the first questions he asks when meeting someone is, "How tall are you?"

Different character, different system, different campaign, same horrible dice rolls.  I just don't get it.  How I can roll so bad, in 2d6, 3d6 and d20 systems.  Roll high or roll low.  I will find a way to destroy what the average is supposed to be.  Let's take the easiest (hey +Douglas Cole I'm doing number stuff, I know you like that), the average of 2d6 is 7.  I did a calculation of a few of my sessions using Pits & Perils and discovered that in my realm of existence, 7 is not the average, it is actually 5.6.  Now I m NOT a number dude, but I would say that is a signifcant difference.

And as for quantum number generators, don't believe the hype.  Quantum has feelings, cause it hates me.  I still remember the night in a d20 game I rolled 6 or 7 1s in a row.  And that was just the 1s I rolled in that one part.  There were lots of them sprinkled throughout.

Breathe, step away from the Quantumness.  Find that happy place where there are no 1s on the dice.  Somehow the dice bounce playfully upon the table and slowly spin and come to rest with a large 20 showing.  I cheer.  I point at the GM and laugh and then remember that I was rolling an ability check.

Back to my intended intent.

Age System, I love the combat.  I enjoy that there is defense, what you roll against to hit someone and armor, the bits that keep you from bleeding out.  In the AGE system these are two very different things which I like a lot.

Cobat is a blast.  This is where the AGE system works the best for me.  Stunts are the mechanic that sets the combat apart from other systems.  Stunts occurs when a roll is successful and doubles are rolled on the three dice.  The stunt die is a different color and if a stunt is earned, the number rolled on the stunt die is how many stunt ppoints you get.  So you can knock your oppenent down, do extra damage, do another attack, order a pizza or a combination of things.  The stunt mechanic shines in this area.  In other areas, like magic, it is less effective because the stunts are mainly geared toward combat.  There are also stunts for exploration and role-playing.  I don't think they work.  It seems forced.  If I were running a game I would keep the stunts strictly in combat.

Magic system is a bit generic.  I don't hate it, but can't say I am a big fan.  You select from school that specialize in fire, water, healing, wood, pickles and cookies.  There are four spells in each school.  They are independent on one another.  It's not like GURPS where the schools overlap and some requirements are in other schools.  With AGE it is a tiered system, you get the first two spells when you are a novice in that school, you get the third spell when you are a journeyman and whan you reach master level you get the 4th.

The spells are balanced, they don't overpower the mage, but if you can roll well (see rant above) they can be very effective.

The system uses spell points instead of slots.  Various things can happen to make a spell work or fail.  Most spells have a target number, if you don't roll above that, you lose your mana points and you have the pleasure of nothing happening.  I tested out this several times during our last session and yep, sucks not to hit the target number.  Some spell you can plaw  more points in to give it more power.

Then there are the skills and focuses.  They are different and I still get confused of which is which.  I get it for a while then I get distracted by a squirrel and I forget.  Happens.  Skills allow you to use or do things that others can't.  Like the first aid skill (that is called something I can't pronounce), I can do a minor action and first aid someone during combat.  You get a major and minor action for clarification.  So I can first aid someone then cast Get Back You Evil Bastard in one round.

Following up on what I just wrote.  A round is 15 seconds.  So in the AGEsystem I can first aid someone while in combat and then attack if I want....   Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong?  If I am then you are wrong and I am right.  I think if I ran a game I wouldn't permit first aiding in combat.  Being someone who has experience with first aid it just doesn't work in my mind.

Healing is always a big issue with me in games.  Most games make it too easy for adventurers to heal everything and move on without a scratch.  AGE does this also.  Not a fan.  They have a short and all night healing rate.  I would cut the all night rate, take the short rest rate and make it the all night rate.  I don't want sissy adventurers.  And sissy healing systems encourage entitlement and laziness.

Every class has specializations, like I plan on becoming a Miracle Worker so that increases my healing ability.  But I could choose to be a lore master or sword mage.  They are add on abilities to help enhance your character.  I don't see the need for these specializations, but I guess it helps me target my career track for being a mage.  Again, these are teired, novice, journeyman and master levels.

Experience is the same for each class.  2000 will get everyone to 2nd level.  AGE doesn't give experience points per monster, but has a system where the GM determines the difficulty of the encounter and assigns xp from there.  I do like this set up.

I really have enjoyed the AGE system, there is a lot I like about it.  I hope to run a few one off games soon.  I just wish I could find the system where I could roll better.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Night Investigation

Sunday, November 25th, 2015 (9:25pm)

Subject went to Barnes & Nobles.  Stayed in the cafe the entire time.  Drank a drink that looked like a caramel landslide.

Did not get up to pee.

He worked on a antiquated laptop that wasn't connected to the internet.  Worked on something called Hamlet of Hounds Head.

Listened to a iPod and ignored everyone around him except for a brief exchange with the barista who was already making him drink before he ordered.

A red-head, I'm assuming it was his wife, sat beside him reading gluten free magazines.  Not sure what the hell gluten is.  Noted it, Google later.  She sipped on tea and at the end of the night ate from a jar.  I cannot even guess what it was.  Did not look good.

The subject began packing once the closing in 15 minutes was announced.

Followed the subject and his wife to Wegmans.  Again he set up in the cafe section there.  This time he set up his laptop along side a tablet and was using both at the same time.  However, when the Sunday Night football game came on any work he'd been doing came to a halt.

When his wife came to visit the subject finally went pee.

His Sunday night concluded with watching football until his wife returned with groceries.  They packed and left for home.

Conclusion: Subject is too boring to follow any further.  This investigation has been a complete waste of time.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

It's in the Mail

Pictured above are my October Micro-Adventures all printed and laminated.  There was a delay this month because of a vacation, a painted bedroom and when I returned to work, no vacation goes unpunished.  But now I've got them all set to mail. 

All the PDFs are available for free on my Patreon, but if you want to get laminated and/or the zine versions become a patron.  Join in on the fun and get a envelope of adventure in your mailbox every month.

Thanks to my super-duper patrons.  I'll be sending out your adventures on Monday.  For the rest of Saturday morning I'll be stuffing envelopes. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Promise Broken

I promised Tim I would not post without his knowing. Well I had to break that promise. Guess what I will be doing all day tomorrow. Yep playing Fallout 4

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Deal of the Day Results

On Monday my Starter Adventures was featured on RPGNow's Deal of the Day.  I submitted to be one of the Deals of the Day about two months ago and was just about ready to email them to see where I was on the cue and more to the point, to see if I was on the cue.  I didn't send the email, because on Sunday I received an email telling me Starter Adventures would be Monday's Deal of the Day.  Normally it sells for $7.99, but for the day it was priced at $4.

I did some light spamming on Google+.  A few good folks reshared my post and helped me get the word out.  Tenkar used his bullhorn to get the news out which always helps.

My Expectation: I wanted to sell 12 to 15 copies to consider a success and if I got 20 sales I would be extremely pleased.  Well, I got 50 sales.  Wow.  Thanks to everyone who grabbed a copy.

One Detail Fixed: For some reason Starter Adventures was listed in the 5E category.  I must have clicked the wrong category when I posted it.  Then when I tried to change it, it wouldn't.  But I see it is fixed now.  Yeah!  Before the sale I always received an email or two about how that stat blocks were not set up for 5E play.

Interesting Numbers: When I started the sale I there were 68 copies in wishlists and 9 in shopping carts.  When the sale ended there were 74 copies in wishlists and 8 in shopping carts.  So the sale did not seem to make a dent in those that already were interested.  And to my surprise there were more.  I would figure if you were interested trying something out when its 50% off.

Suggestions & Conclusion: If you have any products on RPGNow I highly recommend signing up for the Deal of the Day.  Be patient because their waiting list is long.  I waited two months.  But in the end it is worth it.  It costs a lot of promo points, but they well spent and WAY more effective than homepage impressions to get people to look at your work.  If you plan on doing the Deal of the Day I would select one of your higher end products.  Or a product you really like, but it never took off.  I plan on doing Deal of the Day again.  I'm not sure exactly what the promo will be for, but once I figure it out I'm spending some promo points and getting back in line.

Thanks: A huge thanks to those of you who helped spread the word, +Erik Tenkar+Denis McCarthy, +Peter V. Dell'Orto, +Frank Turfler and I know I'm missing a couple more.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mapping Contest

Hey, +Inkwell Ideas and +Joe Wetzel is having a mapping contest.  The theme for this one is it must include at least two buildings.  They can be located in a city, village, ruin or cavern if you like.  Joe extended the contest until November 6th.  The winners get a set of +matt jackson's Moleskin Maps.  You should have a copy of those already.  And a set of DungeonMorph Dice.

I got busy and did a map, Hamlet of Hounds Head.

Join in the mapping contest, its fun to do and hell, if you win, the prizes are fantastic. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Deal of the Day: Starter Adventures!

Today my Starter Adventures is the Deal of the Day on RPG now.  The PDF is normally $7.99, but today it's only $4.  This is a great product to introduce someone into table-top RPGs.  I wrote this one specifically for folks who don't know a d20 from a ghoul.  A product that enhances what is fun and interesting in the game.  To hook newbies into coming back for more.

There are four adventure/situations for the the four main classes meant to be run one-on-one.  These scenarios will help a new player explore different aspects of the game.

There is a fully developed tavern filled with characters, secret doors and of course a basement that links into a sewer system.  Red Bear Tavern is a place where adventures begin, one ale at a time.

And the final piece is a full-fledged adventure.  After your newbies figure out that pyramid looking die is a d4, they can get busy being heroes. 

And to make it all come together, the incredible artwork by +Jason Sholtis and +John Larrey, the maps were created by my long time friend +Rob Conley and the unsung heroes of any written product, the editors +Tim Snider and my wife.  Any typos or grammatical assassination are on me because between those two they cleaned up a ton of my mistakes.

If you've had Starter Adventures in your cart or thought about checking it out, today is the day to do it.  If you have any questions about it, please just comment, Google+ me or email me.  I'll be glad to chat about anything gaming.