Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Developing a Twisted Plot Within an Adventure

One of my more recent adventures I completed for my patreon is called The Weeping Witch.  Below is the map I'm using.  A simple, but hopefully interesting, map. Three detailed areas.  It doesn't seem like a lot, but in this case the setup helps develop the plot.  Should a GM chose to ignore the setup, it is an adventure with some depth. 

Plot is usually a story element and sometimes used for adventures.  In this case, plot drives what has occurred and what will occur.  The players dictate the result. Let me use this adventure as an example.

The villagers of Scorn are irritated and exhausted.  The Harvest Moon is a few days away and each year at this time, the the Weeping Witch's cries are carried on the night's wind disturbing their sleep.  One of the precautions the villagers take is tying their children in their beds.  The cries of the Weeping Witch cause the children to sleepwalk into the forest where an abandon house sits.  

One of the children goes missing.  The villagers are suspicious.  The mother, Shara, is disliked and doesn't seem concern her son is missing.  Rumors of her practicing black magic have been whisper before, but now people are vocalizing their suspicions.  

When (if) the party investigates Shara's cabin they find, unlike all the other villagers, there are no bindings on her son's bed.  They also find bloodmoss, the villagers believe it is component of dark magics.  Shara denies everything and defies the party.

We've got the setup.  The obvious situation dangled before the party.  A witch that keeps everyone awake with her cries.  A boy has gone missing.  His mother took no precautions to protect the boy and possesses herbs that are considered to be evil.  

This is a distraction of reality, great fodder to pull your party along and give them a false sense of 'knowing' to act upon.  I like to develop these in an adventure to surprise the party, or it is a mystery to solve.  Both work out great.

The reality of it, the witch is the boy's mother.  The witch charmed Shara to watch over him.  Shara uses the bloodmoss to sedate him.  The boy is a werewolf.  If the boy is 'saved' and returned to the village he will kill many villagers.  nom nom nom

This situation lends itself to further adventures.  Allow events to unfold naturally and once a course is determined, the continuing consequences are the party's reward.  I do enjoy putting the party in the role of hero and then the result is their actions make the situation worse.  Much worse sometimes.

I use this device sparingly, it's not good to go all M. Night Shyamalan every adventure.  But sprinkling these types of situations into your game keep the players guessing.  Not to assume they 'know' what's going on until they get all the facts from every corner.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Peace Be With You Carrie

Generally I am not a sentimental person.  But after reading that Carrie Fisher had passed I couldn't shake that, "something is now missing" feeling.  Maybe it's because Star Wars was the first movie I saw with my friends, no adults.  As little guys would do, we sat in the very first row with our noses against the screen and were completely wowed at what we saw.  It was a good day.  We talked about Star Wars all the time, predicting what would happen next or if the Millennium Falcon could beat the Enterprise in a race.  Really important stuff back in the day. Carrie was apart of that discussion and apart the mythology of our childhood.  As Star Wars progressed and I hit puberty, my interest in Leia, of course, increased. I can honestly say Carrie Fisher, along with Diana Rigg were my first crushes.  I had pretty good taste for a kid.  

Tonight,  I'll put in Episode IV: The New Hope and take a stroll. Remembering the Academy Theater with the glowing, neon blue clock to the right of the screen, the smell of real butter on the popcorn and fighting with the Jujubes candies that cemented themselves to my teeth.  I'll walk down the aisle on the right hand side, my feet landing heavy because of the slight slope and find my front row seat.  And when I hear John Williams's introduction music, for a short time, I'll be that 9 year old boy who wanted to see Star Wars with his friends for his birthday.

Peace be with you Carrie.  

Friday, December 23, 2016

Funeral Games

Last night I GMed my first session using a mix of ancient Roman history and Dragon Age system and mythos.  The party were playing Etruscans, their City of Veii is burning and war is lost.  Now they are to return home and salvage what they can.  

  • +Chris C. played Ectur, a harden soldier.  
  • +Ken H played Brytan Nargald, a stealthy scout.
  • Thadius was an NPC run by me.  Their former military commander.
  • Jia another NPC, she is an apostate.
To Honor a Friend
Thadius gave the order to disband, but asked Ectur and Brytan, since they are from the same village, to help him return a friend and bury him with honor.  Both agreed.  They were returning the body to Albanum.  A village where the soldiers that stole their food are from.  Ectur was on guard that night when he was attacked and overwhelmed by three of them.  He did suffer that defeat lightly.

Empty Stomachs
Because of that theft of food the party had to decide what they were going to do for food.  Traveling in harsh winter weather was brutal even with supplies.  They decided to tough it out until they reached Albanum.  The village was a day away. 

Don't Kill the Messenger
A few hours into the trek they were surprised to see a Roman messenger riding from the north.  The took a few bow shots at him.  Wounding him, but it wasn't until Ectur lept on his horse and shot his bow from there did the messenger fall from his saddle.  

They Killed the Messenger
Brytan quickly dispatched the Roman messenger, and looted him.  He found a disturbing message.

Ectur took care of the messenger's horse and added it to their short list of resources.  They head off again toward Albanum.  Jia begins to show signs of sickness as the fatigue and hunger were overtaking her.  

Entering Albanum
By nightfall they reached Albanum.  Ectur recognized two of the men at the gate as the men who stole their food, but says nothing.  They speak to the elder of the village, Lucanus.  Lucanus is very pleased they have brought home their brother and that the party agreed to honor him with funeral games.

Funeral Games
Brytan fought Thadius and was handily trounced.  The former commanding officer is kinda a bad ass.  And then Ectur drew the lot of facing Vargus, a larger man who was part of the thieving.  Ectur put a little extra effort into his strikes, driving the big man back, cutting swaths of flesh from his body until Vargus fell to a knee and gave the missio, the sign of surrender.  Ectur pointed his blade at him and called him out on his thievery.

Honor and Forgiveness
This accusation disturbed Lucanus and he wanted an explanation.  After hearing of the stolen food, Lucanus promised to correct this.  Later that evening Vargus arrived at the party's doorstep carrying 20 days of rations in a sack.  He came with his three daughters.  It was his attempt to show Ectur why he had done what he had done, but understood it was unacceptable all the same.  Ectur took the offer and gave each of the three children a ration of food.

End of Session

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

When the Romans Murdered the World

Here's my map for tomorrow night's game.  It takes place when Rome was in its infancy, beating up on its scrappy little neighbors, the Etruscans.  Those are the folks the Romans got the idea for gladiator games.  Romans were always good at that.  Beating up people  and taking their ideas.

What I've done is mix in the Dragon Age mythos.  Stir.  Stir.  Stir.  My players will play Etruscan soldiers as the City of Veii burns.  The end of the war.  They have lost.  And now they must make an Odyssey-like trek home.

To win the war and to become a world power the Romans willingly bred blood mages, created abominations and punctured the veil.  The land is a wasteland.  What hasn't been burnt down is covered in a never seen before winter in this region.  Resources are dwindling.  Enemies are abundant. 

For the next couple of weeks I'll take over the reigns of our gaming night to fill in for the holidays.  I'm looking forward to GMing.  Been a while.  

So we'll grab our 3d6s and keep an eye on the dragon die.  

...and the other eye in the fade.

Monday, December 19, 2016

How to Write a Swords & Wizardry Adventure While Learning to Facebook

I've been typing away, writing my Swords & Wizardry Light sandbox adventure, Hunters in Death.  I've got about 4000 words in, give or take.  How many words is the OGL?  I guess I can't count those.  While I've been writing, I've been learning the Facebook.  That's right, I said 'the Facebook' like old people say.  I've had an account for years, but never used it.  Then +Erik Tenkar busted my chops for not using it.  He said it gave a huge boost for his page views.  Well if it helped his tavern I thought maybe it could help my manor.  So that's why a bunch of you have gotten Friend Requests from me.  But what the fuck is poking.  I don't think I like that.  Don't poke me.  

One of the things I'm developing is a random encounter table, with lots of ruins. If you follow my blog you know I write micro-adventures for my Patreon.  These random encounters are going to micro-adventures within themselves.

"You fucking crazy bastard, why would you do such a thing?"

Great question.  Hunters in Death is going to be a sandbox adventure.  The Komor Forest, where this takes place, is not going to be mapped.  Like mega-dungeons, as soon as you start defining it, it loses its mystique.  I want the GM to define the area as he or she imagines it.  If you need a set of ruins a day away there they are.  Like JMS, the creator of Babylon 5 once answered a question about how fast someone can travel in hyperspace, he said "they travel at the speed of plot."  Meaning if you need something there the GM is not restricted by my map.  What the random table does iy allows a GM to create a unique experience for their players.  And could run it again with a completely different outcome.  Make sense?  I hope so.

Above are a few samples of ruins I'm drawing.  Ignore that lines.  Fricking cards I ordered all have them in them.  So until I find new ones let's just call it a quirk of my map making.  

One final note is I may have found an excellent editor to slash the shit out of my writing.  I've already given him a sample and he properly trounced with a savage electronic pen.  I will lean on him heavily to make myself look good.  He has a Herculean task in front of him.  

One last, last note.  If you're on 'the Facebook' hit me up with a friends request. I'm Gothridge Manor there also.  

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Big Battle at the Monteport Crossroads

Last night we had a big battle with the denizens of Monteport.  Our tactic for the past couple of sessions has been to bluff our way through encounters.  It worked. Then last night, all those groups we bluffed, came for payment.  But let's back up a little.

Last week we accidentally blew up our party.  Half our party dead.  Henchmen gone.  Except for one torchbearer and a dog.  +Ken H couldn't stomach watching to dog become cooked.  We lit dragon's blood on fire.  We thought we'd destroy the spell component.  BOOM!  All of us wounded and spell depleted.

Fast forward to beginning of the session.  +Chris C. and +Rob Conley created sidekick characters because theirs were still smoldering.  Chris made the saddest cleric ever rolled.  Rob created a loud Jewish barbarian viking.  We find a place to make camp because we need to heal and replenish spells.

First watch we hear the whisper whisper of wicked men.  The Jewish barbarian viking though he heard two wicked men.  Turned out to be 20.  Wrong to the power of 10.

Now you're caught up.

So we are facing 20 guys.  We take up positions and give it our best.  Sword strikes, arrows, spells and slings.  We gave them it our all and we kicked their ass.  Wait for it....I even rolled two 20s in a row!  I'm not lying.We saved one of the Followers of Elias.  Made him a deal.  He could return to his folks and die or learn a new purpose with our party cleric.  He questioned him about certain people and locations.  He seemed to answer honestly.  We kept him in our ranks...for now.

There was a lot of resource management after looting the enemies.

I'm sure we'll regret keeping the guy alive, but the problem we are running into now is the deeper we go the fewer resources we have.  Especially henchmen. Especially when you blow up henchmen.  We're going to have to try to recruit some of the folks we find.  Exploit the resources we find.

It's an interesting problem.  I love these kinds of problems.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This Shit Ain't Gonna Write Itself

I've been tinkering around with micro-adventures for 18 months, maybe it's been two years, I lost count.  I'm old.  I'm at that age where I don't have memories I have recollections.  Anyway, I've been wanting to do a larger project and with the release of +Erik Tenkar's S&W Light ruleset, it got my gears going. Click the link to get a free copy of the PDF. 

I'm always tinkering with something gaming-wise.  Can't help it.  I took the ruleset and checked it out and thought what a great way to get new people involved with the game.  S&W Light has everything on one sheet of paper.  

My preference for adventures are low-level sandboxes.  I love the grind and grit of survival and taking resources seriously.  Oh crap, the mage is out of spells, the cleric is unconscious and the fighter just missed his save after eating the suspicious meat in the orc's backpack.  So because of that I thought I'd create a sandbox setting using Erik's S&W Light ruleset.

So what do I do first...probably one of the last things you should do, I made a cover for something doesn't exist.  But it looks so cool.  I decided to go with the tried and true look of the TSR adventure modules.  I found an amazing piece from Jack Holliday.  It is the center piece for the sandbox.  That picture is what inspired everything around it.  So I guess I can forgive myself for jumping ahead.  
I already shared this one Google+, but I'm doing it again.
Now that I have a rough draft of the cover I guess I should start writing.  This shit ain't gonna write itself (eww, found my title for this post).  

One of the first things I need is a location.  That location is at the edge of a big-ass, scary forest.  Gotta think of a name.  One of the tricks I use is Google translator. I use Hungarian since Ivy is Hungarian and the language has a medieval sound to it, at least to my ears.  Dark in the translation is Komor.  Komor Forest.  Cool.  Like it.  Done.  

Next I need a hub.  A place for the players to heal and sell some of their ill-gotten gains.  Since this is a frontier area there is very little in the way of resources.  I created a map for +Inkwell Ideas contest a while back and liked how it came out.  I already had a name for it, Hamlet of Hounds Head. Cool.  I like it.  Done.  

Not sure what style I'll be using in the final product, but for now this is my rough version of this map.  It gives me something to work off of.
I need to detail Hounds Head.  Six buildings.  A few features.  I decided to optimize Hounds Head's usefulness.

Hamlet of Hounds Head To-Do List
Figure out what the buildings are and detail them.
  1. The Scroll Stack - a place to get information, sell artifacts and information gathered from the forest.  Also can get magic items identified and possibly purchase a few healing potions.
  2. Ringing Anvil - can sell weapons and armor.  Buy or repair metal stuff.  He'll buy items for scrap metal to use for other tools.
  3. Valmar's Residence - leader and one of the founders of Hounds Head, ex-adventurer.  Dislikes 'the man', especially Baron Mawbray.
  4. Temple of Possimius - a temple based off of something I did for Petty Gods.  The players can get healed here, but it'll take a little more than money.
  5. (?) Inn - need to think of a name.  A place for the party to stay.  Contacts.  Information.  Also the place where Chevar is located (see People of Interest).
  6. Ingrid's Trading Post - the main place where the party can sell their extra goods.  Ingrid is shrewd and thrifty.  She won't be intimidated by adventurers.  She is a very religious woman, she has a small shrine to her god (got to figure out who it is).
Detail the features around within Hounds Head; King's Bridge, Three Paw Bridge, Trouble Creek and Three Paws Statue.

Detail a few People of Interest in Hounds Head.  Folks not tied to particular building, but will or could be encountered frequently.
  1. Korby the Kobold - already have him detailed.  A compulsive collector who hangs around the hamlet, sells his stuff for coppers and has a love/hate relationship with Fang (a dog).
  2. Chevar - a fancy talking fighter who is attempting to establish a branch of the adventuring guild in Hounds Head.  If he gets the funding, having an arm of the adventuring guild present would benefit Hounds Head.  Valmar doesn't like it, but sees the potential in Chevar's idea.
  3. Tangenta - no idea yet, just like the name.  
So I have a lot of stuff to do for a simple six building hamlet, which doesn't include tying in the adventures to the people.  

Back to Komor Forest.  I am not planning (I reserve the right to change my mind) to draw a large map.  I want the GM to use the amorphous nature of an expansive forest to be a concept and not defined.  If you need the cave to be two days away, its easy as saying "the cave is two days away".  Plus this allows the GM to devise what is in what direction and situate the adventures in any way he or she wishes.  

Another feature I'm adding is a random encounter table.  The random encounter table includes entries that are locations or creatures, all of which can be developed into adventure unto themselves.  Most of the random encounters are unique.  The GM can roll once or twice as the party travels through Komor and encounter an old ruin or a hunting party of hoogamites (I have no idea what a hoogamite is, I just made them up).  

And then the adventures themselves.  The main adventure is the Hunters in Death, which I have a rough idea what it will be, but I'm not gonna tell you yet. In addition, I'll write at least four adventures for the GM to use as she or he wishes.

The idea is to have a setting that is easy to digest and get players involved quickly.  It gives me a place rich with exploration, discovery and enemies to overcome.  It also has a history to it to give the area depth and a way to tie together what is found and fought.  

I have a lot of work to do.  My to-do list long, but I like where it's headed.  

I'll end this post with another amazing piece by Jack Holliday with a quote I remembered by Ernest Hemmingway.

Click to enlarge.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter Last Day

As of this posting there are 16 hours remaining in +Douglas Cole's Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter.  It's reached its funding goal and two of its three stretch goals.  There will be an ebook layout and there will be full color artwork.  He's $650 shy from a custom cover.  

Doug Gets Interviewed
Doug was interviewed by the Tome Show podcast and went into detail about the development of this Kickstarter and the content within Dungeon Grappling.  If you are interesting in hearing an in-depth discussion about the project please check out the podcast.  

Why to Get Dungeon Grappling
I believe it'll be a great addition to anyone's gaming table.  It adds depth to combat situations and role-playing possibilities beyond a drawn sword.  Not every combat needs to be kill or be killed.  Okay, most of the times it does.  But there are times when good barroom brawl is called for, not a body count. Maybe the group needs to get information, send a warning, knock a cocky youngster down a peg or two, wrestle the bomb detonator away, disarm a would-be robber and so on.  

Dungeon Grappling, while dungeon is in the name I can see it implemented into any genre, especially modern day settings.  You could run with the Dungeon Grappling system in countless situations.  So it's not for the dungeon and tavern.

Doug's shared one of the fill colored pieces of artwork for the Kickstarter and it looks fantastic.  

Doug's got himself an impressive stable of artists working on the book, full color spread.  It's going to be impressive once it's done.  

The buy in price for the PDF is $5.  That's more than you spend at McDonald's at lunch.  If you want a print version it's $18 + $5 or $6 for shipping.  For Brazil I saw it was like $23 for shipping.  I have no idea what the hell is going on there.  I think Doug's price points are spot on.  There are options for buying multiple print and PDF copies.  

I've had the pleasure of watching Doug develop his grappling system.  He and +Peter V. Dell'Orto offered to run an article about grappling in my zine, The Manor.  From there he's expanded it and refined the system.  I've been privy to copies of Dungeon Grappling as the Kickstarter campaign has progressed and I'm impressed with the quality and usability of the system.  Congrats to Doug on a successfully run first Kickstarter.  But there is still a few hours to get in on Dungeon Grappling.  Check it out, listen to the podcast and then throw a fiver or more at the Kickstater.  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Gaming Stuff I'm Excited About, Thanksgiving Edition

There is a ton of great things going on now and I know I'm going to miss a bunch, but I'm going to mention as many as I can.  Sit back, grab some left over stuffing and enjoy.

I've written a post about +Douglas Cole's Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter earlier this month, but there's a big update.  Originally, only a PDF product, now available print.  Starting at $18 (plus the shipping) you can grab a softcover, premium color copy of Dungeon Grappling which includes the PDF.

I prefer to read the print copy, but use the PDFs for reference.  If the PDF is all you need, the buy-in is a five dollar bill.  Dungeon Grappling is funded and on its way to becoming full-color.  There are 11 days left, plenty of time to click and buy.

Here are the add-ons (and a shameless plug).
- The Manor, all 8 issues for $12! What a bargain!
- The Guardians RPG, for $7 (an OSR superhero game).

Today I received an email from +Peter Regan that I must share.
"From now until the end of Tuesday you can get 15% off any order placed at by entering the code BF16
This is a great chance to pick up print copies of: The Black Hack, Cthulhu Posters, or just to restock your supplies of grid and hex papers."
Peter is the master of Squarehex, a fantastic gaming company that produces extremely useful and creative gaming material.  Black Hack took the OSR community hostage a few months back.  I've played the system and it's quick, easy and fun.  Check out the Black Hack sale and all the other great stuff Peter and Squarehex has to offer.

+Mike Evans, the man with the mighty middle finger, has hit the pole position at RPGNow with his campaign setting Hubris.  He mentions there will be a print version available soon.  He's got an all-star line up of artists that features the likes of +Jason Sholtis+Doug Kovacs+Wayne Snyder+Alex Mayo, and more! Hubris, at 350 pages is $14.99.  If you are a DCC fan, you're going to like Mike's style.

+Gavin Norman made this!  It's available tomorrow so there is no direct link. I am posting a link to Gavin's list of stuff on RPGNow.

+Vincent Florio+Erik Tenkar+Glen Hallstrom make up the crew at Old School Blues podcast.  I mentioned them before, gave them a little shit about using the 'blues' name and then playing music that was, shall I say, not blues.  They seem to have succumb to peer pressure and switched their intro music to blues!  Woo!  Well done guys.  But the super cool thing about it is, it is music by our own OSRian +Shane Ward, who you may know from The 3 Toadstools blog and writer of such adventures as The Overrun Mines and The Lizardmen of Illzathatch, to name a few.

Since I have some time off this weekend I've been catching up on a couple podcasts.  Old School Blues is a good one to subscribe to on 'the iTunes'.

Lastly, something more personal, +trey causey, one of the many heads of Hydra Cooperative, a collection of extremely creative and fun folks making fantastic gaming products, helped with freshening up my GM Games logo.  Trey has been posting mock covers that are just amazing so I asked for a little help.  He also 
helped with creating a new look for my zine, The Manor.

Thanks again Trey for your assistance.  I know I've sold a small part of my soul to Hydra for the help, but I consider it a bargain.  I wasn't using my soul that much anyway.

I'm off to write an adventure, draw some maps, make a random table and listen to some podcasts.  It's a good time to be gamer.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

What Do You Get When You Cross an Ambitious Clerk with His Double-Crossing Boss Who Sells to an Evil Cult?

Vincent, a particularly hateful and ambitious lowly clerk, is plotting to get a promotion. It doesn't hurt that his boss, a merchant by the name of Horrum, is a thieving, double-crossing, pompous ass.  Vincent has sprinkled rumors in the tavern hoping to find an interested group of adventurers.  He knows Horrum is planning on selling to a new evil cult.  Vincent knows adventurers hate evil cult.  It couldn’t have worked out better.

This low-level encounter is definitely geared toward a fun role-playing opportunity.  You’ve got a loud mouth merchant with a few guards and a friend who is a low-level mage with a Sleep spell, dealing with a pair of new evil cult guys who are trying to get their evil machinations started.  No one is a killer here.  Horrum, while an awful person, doesn’t have the stone to kill anyone or order someone killed.  If Jyvr sleeps the party, Horrum gives them to the evil cult.  Who in turn are happy for it, but after a while not sure what to do with them. 

For my patrons, I plan on writing up a fun, evil cult to plug into your game.  A group of folks who want to be evil, but aren’t sure how to.  

Enjoy the Clerk of Vindicta everyone.  Let me know if you use it in your game.  I’d love to hear about it.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Thing-a-Ma-Jiggy Goes Into the Whatcha-Ma-Call It

It took four weeks, but we successfully got together for a game night, another session into the depths of +Ken H's Monteport megadungeon.  Introductions are in order.
  • GM - the a fore mentioned +Ken H, who is under investigation for arms dealing to the United Fascist Pacifists of Irony.
  • Skull +Rob Conley who to everyone surprise has not gotten naked or peed on anything yet.  His character Skull, not Rob.
  • Septimus - me.  The moral compass of this group of malcontents.   
  • Allric - The notorious +Chris C. whose crimes against humanity are too numerous to list.  
It Began with Politics...
After a much political discussion, which was actually quite interesting, despite my complete lack of giving a shit one way or another.  That's when you know you have a great group of guys, you can have a discussion on politics without it devolving into the mindless, reactionary bullshit that seems to permeate the news these days.  

The Recap and Start
Then after a quick recap of where we left off because it was a month ago and I couldn't remember shit.  Down two levels, we are headed to the forth level to find a fabled dwarven city.  We check for wounds and begin.

The Cultist in the Hoodie
We left off facing these group of 'gaunts' tall lanky dudes with halberds.  They're squishy, but they hit hard.  They were led by some teen-ager with a hoodie.  We sleep the gaunts, hoodie runs off and gets more gaunts.  We sleep those gaunts and tell the hoodie to beat it.  Hoodie is a follower of Elias the One.  We told him to pound salt and get out of the way.

Fake It Until You Make It
We go down a ladder.  We're now in the third level.  A new section of the map. We are approached by another follower of Elias the One.  Here's the thing.  None of these hoodie wearing fuckers have ever met Elias.  So I start bossing him around as if I were sent from Elias.  I must have been convincing because he and his gaunts hightailed it out of there.  Two encounters no kills.  

The Machine!
We enter a room with this huge machine.  Ken developed an interesting series of things we had to do to get it to work.  We didn't know what it would do once we did start it, but damn it I was gonna push some buttons!  After a few failures we discovered we needed to put an object on this copper plate.  I put my shield on it. Successfully navigate the buttons and wa-la.  

Black Jack is Born
I pick up my shield and it starts talking to me.  Insulting me.  Ken enjoys giving magic items that insult the characters.  Chris said, "You should name it blackjack. Hit me.  Hit me."  That was so bad I had to name it that.  So Black Jack was born.  

The End
With Thanksgiving next week we decided to skip another week.  Arg!  Septimus is only a few experience points away from reaching 5th level in Bloody Basic.  I believe 6th level it the top level.  I am truly surprised he's lived this long.  Interesting sessions with no kills and a big puzzle to solve.  It was good time.   

Thursday, November 10, 2016

It's Grappling Time Motherf*#!%@&

+Douglas Cole has begun his Kickstarter, 

About the Author
I've gotten to know Doug over the past couple of years. We've gamed together several times and he co-authored a fantastic grappling article for issue #8 of The Manor.  He's also penned quite a few GURPS articles and has received several accolades for his blog, Gaming Ballistic.  I can personally vouch for Doug and his ability.  The man gets things done.  So those of you who have been burned in the past by Kickstarters, you need not have any worries about Dungeon Grappling's completion...unless Doug blows himself up again. But that's another story.  

Let's Talk About Grappling
Doug has been tinkering around with making grappling a significant part of combat.  None of the games I've played have had a good resolution system when it comes to non-lethal combat.  We won't talk about the grappling systems the various versions of D&D have tried to inflict upon the gaming world.  

Doug has developed an elegant grappling system over the past year.  He's playtested and refined it several times.  Now he's combined these rules into one book.  His grappling system provides a excellent combat option to subdue, disarm, cripple or if you'd like, kill an opponent.  

Why I Like Dungeon Grappling
When I run a game I like to have options available for my characters...good options.  The way grappling stands in most games it isn't a good option and the players don't consider it when in combat.  With Doug's system, combat doesn't need to be all or nothing.  Kill or be killed.  In this way it allows for more roleplaying.  I've never liked the subdual  rules of most fantasy RPGs.  Basically it's a crappy way of patching a hole over something the developers couldn't figure out.  Doug has figured it out.  And it's good.  And it's useful.  And it doesn't slow down play.  

Dungeon Grappling Conclusion
I am not a neutral party in the Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter, my Manors are offered as an add-on.  Also, as I've said, I know Doug and consider him a friend. But because of that I know what he's capable of and the quality if this work. Dungeon Grappling is a fantastic addition to any genre of RPG.  Leave fantasy out of it for a second and think of all the different genres you could use Dungeon Grappling with.  

I wish Doug much success with Dungeon Grappling.  And at the time of me writing this, he's already above the 80% mark.  Check out the video, ask questions in comments and join.  For a buy in price at $5...come on man, that is a no brainer.  

Get Dungeon Grappling so you can put a troll in a headlock or give a bugbear a noogie.  

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Mention in Knights from the Dinner Table

+Rob Conley gave me the heads up on being mentioned in issue #235 of KotDT.  The Web Scryer section which Rob provided me a picture.  Not only did I and Rob get mentioned, but so did +Erik Tenkar, +Courtney Campbell, Justin Alexander+Brandes Stoddard, +Rob Lang  and Bag of Holding.

It's great to be included with this group.  Hey, and a mention in KotDT is fun. Not to brag, but this is my second time in there.  A while back they did an article on zines and The Manor was mentioned.

Just thought I would share this.  Thanks Rob, for letting me know.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Giveaway Complete

I put out the call for some free Teeny Tiny Manors and had quite a few interested.  I said I would do the first 20, I got about double that.  And I also send copies to the patrons I send my monthly stuff to.  Thanks for the interest.  I hope you enjoy that.  

Oh yeah, I hand wrote a unique item on each copy just because I am on vacation and I have that kinda time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Teeny Tiny Manor Giveaway

I haven't done a giveaway in a while so here I am with a fist full of Teeny Tiny Manors that need a home.  It is a 4" x 6" index card folded in half.  The contents include a wonderful cover from William McAusland and an adventure site with four detailed areas.  If you are a collector of teeny tiny things, an adventure addict or just curious, drop me an email at with your address and maybe, just maybe you'll get a copy.  I will do international shipping. 

I am limiting the number of copies to 20.  So be fast!  

Monday, October 31, 2016

Scary Random Tables from my Early Days of Gaming

Some scary random tables I found while cleaning today.  These used to find a home in my GM screen way back in the day.  You may recognize them.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Evolution of The Sinking Village Map and Some of My Mapping Techniques

I didn't take a picture of the outline of the map.  This was the first picture I took after thinking of doing a map progression series.  I asked my patrons for some map ideas, they gave me a lot.  The one that stuck out the most was a village sinking into the sea.  Love that.  So I sketched out a preliminary map, liked it, and began mapping.  

I started shading with some of the trees and buildings.  I want to find another technique on how to draw buildings from this perspective.  

Just a note on why I am using a newsprint magazine beneath.  I use the magazine to give myself a 'soft' surface to color on.  The reason I do this is it help to blend the colors and soften the harsh lines of the pencils.  Some of the outer shades I do on a hard surface to get it to pop.  

This shows part of how I try to add texture or shading to my map.  I use two colors not far off from one another.  For the trees I randomly color the area, leaving blank spaces for the second color and then blend in the two colors at the edges.  For the water, I use a lighter blue where it touches something or where it's shallow.  

You can see the finished color of the water.  The main color is too purple for my tastes.  I will claim doing this outside in the fading light as my reason, but I often do this with blues.  I need to find a better blue, a more blue color to go with the light blue edge/shallow water color.

Like the trees and water, when I am coloring in the grass or mud areas I try to give it a texture using a two color system.  But with the muddy area I kept it one color and allow the rock features to define the lake shore and give it texture. Plus, it is mud.  

All the photos before this were taken with my phone camera.  This picture is scanned into my computer.  In the northwest corner, there are a pair of round buildings.  I figured they were dovecotes.  And to give the map a little different color, I surrounded the dovecotes with a yellowish color.  Maybe it's hay.  Maybe it's dead grass from the pigeon poo.  

Here is what the final map.  I import my scanned map into a program called Xara.  I bevel the edge to give it depth and a frame.  Then I add the numbers and names.  I take two sets of numbers, turn one set white and bevel the edge to expand it.  ThenI nest the black numbers into the white set, it allows the eye to easily read the numbers and words.  Even when I use a weird font (I believe the one I used for this one is called BLOBS).  

Then I have to get writing.  Wrap my head around what kind of adventure I imagine could be found in The Sinking Village.  

Friday, October 28, 2016

Deal of the Fricking Day

It's Deal of the Day time featuring Frog God Games' Tome of Adventure Design. Tome of Adventure Design is made up of four sections or 'books' as they are called in the tome.  The first two are Matt Finch's Adventure Design Deskbooks.

I used these books a ton.  Especially the first.  These two were great toolboxes for constructing adventures and monsters.

The other two books included in the Tome of Adventure Design are Dungeon Design and Non-Dungeon Adventure Design.  I've used this book more times than I can count.  It's the best book on the market to get your imagination running to construct an adventure. 

I think it's the best adventure design book on the market.  

Normally the Tome of Adventure Design runs $21 for the PDF, but today it's only $8.40!  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Onto the Next Adventure

Ever know a guy in town no one really likes?  Kind of a grumpy son-of-a-bitch you has nothing to say about anything or anyone?  Theodore Banks is that guy. He died 14 years ago, but seems to be feeling better now.

With the edits complete I'm hoping to release it tomorrow.  It's a zine style adventure, two levels and 8-pages long including the two maps.  The PDF will be available over on my Micro-Adventures Patreon page soon.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cracking Open Crusty Books

Today I was rearranging my office.  I needed to make it a bit more productive friendly.  Plus, changing up the furniture situation is always a good thing.  Gets the creative juices going.  When I finally completed moving things around I started thumbing through my Monsters & Treasure Assortment: Sets One - Three: Levels One - Nine.

I've had my copy since 1980 I think.  So when I say I cracked open a crusty book, I mean it.  So with this in front of me craving to do some random table plundering I asked Ivy for a title of an adventure.  Which she gave me, which I will not give here yet.  Cause I haven't finished it and I think it's fun.  As soon as she said it I got a couple of ideas.  Plus I had one of my older maps in the hopper for a long time and thought it would be a great time to use it.  

Not one of my best, but I think it suits the adventure I'm writing.  

How I Used the Monster & Treasure Assortment
So back to the Monster & Treasure Assortment.  I decided I'm making the ground level, 1st level.  So I rolled 2d4 to determine the number of critters.  I rolled a total of 4.  Then went to the First Level Monster table and started to roll.

(32) Black Widow Spider - 1
(59) Bandits - 4
(67) Centipedes - 3
(55) Gnomes - I rerolled this.  There is nothing wrong with being a gnome, except they are gnomes.
(70) Giant Gecko - 1

I decided to roll 1d4 for the number of treasures.  I rolled 3.  Then I went to the front page of the book where some of my favorite tables are located.  There are three 1) Treasure is contained in...   2) Treasure is guarded by...  3) Treasure is hidden by/in...  Love these tables.  For the latter two tables I roll one die larger than needed so if I roll above the table that means the treasure isn't guarded or the treasure isn't hidden.  For example, the Treasure is Guarded by table is 1d16. So I roll a d20, if I get a 17 or above the treasure is not guarded.

Treasure Contained in...
1. Loose
2. Small Coffers
3. Metal Urns

Treasure is Guarded by...
1. None
2. Spring darts in the front
3. None

Treasure is Hidden by...
1. Under a loose stone in the floor
2. Illusion to change or hide appearance
3. Disguised to look like something else

With those determined I rolled on the treasure table.  First off, no electrum.  I've got issues with electrum.  It makes me angry.  And I am okay with it.  I run a silver standard game anyways, to if the e-word pops up I changed it to silver.  

1. 100cp
2. 350sp
3. +1 leather armor

I scanned in my worksheet to give you a peek at what it looked like.  

So with these building blocks I number my map and begin detailing my adventure.  There will be a small 2nd level.  I am thinking of making it a 3rd level place to make a young party poop in their pants.  Probably one or two creatures at the most with a treasure of some sort, rolled on the 3rd level table.  

Friday, October 14, 2016

Extra Life Gamathon

I've been enjoying the excellent contributions for Inktober.  Especially +Jim Jones.  I hadn't spoken to him before this started and when I see an artist with chops I want to trick them into selling me a few pieces.  I spoke to Jim briefly about this and he told me about 24 hour Extra Life gamathon.  I'll let his words explain it to you.  

It's a gamathon for charity. We play board games for 24 hour to raise money for Riley Children's Hospital. It is the hospital that saved my daughter's life with a cranial reconstruction when she was just over a year old. 
People come and play over 70 donated games. Each time they play them, they get a chance to take it home at the end of the event. We also have a silent auction with over 150 donated items, and we have various tournaments and a game show version of Wits and Wagers. 
The core group of people are sponsored players. They seek out donations from friends and family to play for 24 hours and generally raise about 60% of our funds. Last year, we raised over $10,000 and over the last four we've raise a total of over $23,700. It gets bigger each year and it is a lot of work (it takes up a couple of months worth of free time to plan and coordinate each year).
But we do it because we want to honor the hospital that has changed our life and the lives of friends and colleagues and community members who have similar stories to ours.
All the money that we raise as sponsored players and through the event goes directly to Riley. All our space and prizes and auction items and insurance are donated or covered by the community that has sprung up around running the event. It is completely volunteer driven. We're all very passionate about it.

Here is the link to Extra Life to read more about the event and to also donate if you chose.  I donated because it's a fantastic cause.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Gaming Stuff I'm Excited About

Over the next few months I plan on retooling my blog, GM Games store and Patreon site.  I think it all needs a fresh coat of paint.  I've been formulating, strategizing, devising and other words that mean the same thing.

Everyone once in a while its good to move furniture around in your room, paint the walls a new color or change up the routine a little to refresh your enthusiasm. At least for me that's the way it works.   My blogging has been lax and its not for a shortage of ideas or the fun I'm having in game.  Got lots of things I think of during the day or while I listen to podcasts.

Gaming Stuff I'm Excited About
Speaking of podcasts, one of my favorite finds recently has been the Gaming and BS podcast that features +Brett B and +Sean P Kelley yapping at one another about a topic of the week.  They are 109 episodes in.  They are great about getting a podcast out each week.  They have a Gaming and BS Patreon that I've joined.  What I like about these guys is they game...a lot.  Great knowledge about many games and neither are afraid to bullshit when they're unsure.  

Another podcast that has popped up on my radar is Old School Blues Podcast by Dead Games Society.  +Vincent Florio, master of the podcast and one of the creators of Mazes & Perils, and +Erik Tenkar  of  Tenkar's Tavern are four episodes in.  They pick a topic and hash it over.  Last episode Erik talked about Kickstarters.  Something he knows absolutely nothing about.  My only complaint about this podcast is, NO BLUES MUSIC.  Don't tease me with the title old school blues and then play some other crap music.

+Jason Sholtis accompanied by his goons at the Hydra Collective, have released a Kickstarter, Operation Unfathomable.  This is Jason's personal campaign world he's been running for years.  Oh yeah, he's a hell of an artist.  I know, I was surprised to hear he draws also.  Jason and crew have already reached their funding goal and I have no doubt they'll blow the doors off their stretch goal.  I've had the pleasure of meeting and working with Jason, he helped me out when I was just starting with my RPG business.  He's a great guy and he has a twisted mind.  Perfect combination.  If you have any doubt, take a sample of his, The Dungeon Dozen.  Oh, and I have to say this, this Kickstarter has the best video I've seen to introduce someone to the product.  It's fantastic.

And last, but not least, my Wednesday night group.  +Ken H continues to map into infinity with his Monteport megadungeon.  +Chris C. adds in adventures from his Ravensburg setting.  And recently +Rob Conley has rejoined the group. While the group is small, but the ideas we talk about each week, within the glut of our puerile humor, really gets my brain cogs moving.  These guys help formulate some of my adventure ideas and to peek behind the curtain of gaming philosophies.  And they all enjoy telling me when I am full of shit.  Which is often.  

Thursday, October 6, 2016

It Was a Three Dog Night

We rejoined our Monteport session after a two week delay.  Our brave party stood in front of two spider born of earth.  We had witnessed the battle between them and the giant ants and saw that their bite turned their victims into stone. This was after our GM, +Ken H's computer decided to update for one hour.  

While +Chris C. and I were about to engage the enemy, we heard from behind us, "Non-hostiles in your rear".  It was early and the best thing I heard all night.  It was +Rob Conley playing his clerical investigative duo, Muller and Skull accompanied by four dogs.  

We managed to kill the spiders in short order.  We then had a short conversation with our new party mates and continued further into Monteport.

Our party had the map from the previous party's exploration.  We'd set up a trade route with some of the factions within the dungeon.  Now we were focused on the dark spaces unexplored.

We traveled deeper into the ant tunnels and discovered a small horde of undead.  A mixture of zombies, ghouls and a vampire spawn.  It was a brutal battle.  We lost a henchmen named Skittle, Muller died from the spawn bite as did three of his dogs, including Goliath, which I think we mourned the passing most.  

After the battle and calculating the body count we investigated the casket and altar in the room.  Inside we found a treasure hoard and discovered that the casket belonged to one Sebastian Bynard Finister.  A known vampire that controls a section of Monteport.  

Until next week, this concludes this episode of, It was a Three Dog Night.