Friday, June 30, 2017

NPC#3 Blake

Blake is one of the major NPC in my Hamlet of Hounds Head. He runs a small business called the Scroll Stack. He is the go to guy for information, to sell weird stuff the party finds and keep him happy, he's currently the only steady source of healing potions. 
Here's a section of the write up I did for Blake
The sign hanging outside the door is a simple etching of a stack of scrolls. The unusual feature of this structure is that it has a pole building built over-top the structure to act as a second roof. After a shipment of parchment was destroyed by a leaky roof, Blake had the second roof constructed. 
Blake is at his house 75% of the time. The other 25% he is exploring the forest. He is always accompanied by his large dog known as Red. While in the hamlet, Red can be found napping nearly anywhere. He awakens long enough to eat. He moves slows and wags his tail a lot. Red has the innate ability to detect ill-intent. He’ll make his dislike known by growling at the person. 
When I play an NPC in my game, especially one I think that will be reoccurring, is I think of a role in a movie or an actor in general. When I think of Blake I think of John Hurt, speaking slow and sometimes mumbling his words. 
The Robe of Matthius is a cool little artifact. While it is powerful, it is very limited. And with all powerful items like this, it sometimes has a mind of its own and does what it wants. A GM could have a lot of fun with either effect of the robe. 

Blake is a free PDF download. If you like what you see please consider joining the fun.

And before I sign off, the artwork is from Matt Morrow.
Thanks guys. I hope you find Blake useful or at least entertaining. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Shot, Bitten, and Scorched

Hi. That's me. I'm Nikola Vegas. Okay that's not me, but that's how I picture me. I graduated from RNI University and I was on track to become a professor. My parents taught at RNI, my genius younger brother, Isaac, is already a professor. My sister, Marie, is a project manager for a bio-tech branch of the university. So I was the last of the family to join the employ of RNI. 

When I completed the professor training and explained to my parents that I wanted to explore other worlds, not read about the history, but find the history, they just stared at me. They took me to the campus Pizza Hut to 'celebrate' my graduation. The buffet no less, I believe my mother's exact words were, "A suiting celebration for the career path you've chosen". We ate in silence, my father paid the bill and they left without so much as a good luck.

Earlier in the week I'd spent nearly every credit getting the supplies I could afford. I got this sweet laser pistol. Now with only a few credits to my name I waled to the job recruiter's office, backpack in hand. I needed a job.

Without going into too much detail there was a cargo ship, the Tuskavarda CX-7. Tusk for short. A cargo ship headed to the out most planet, specifically to Millwall Station. A mining operation, but access to some of the outer planets that haven't been explored, but surface scans have shown anomalies. The word anomalies is candy for my ears. While I might be digging, or hauling, it would give me a chance to earn some credits to do what I want to do.

While on the Tusk I met an interesting guy, Max. Apparently his father is the majority share holder in the mining operation. I was hoping this was a break for me. Maybe I could get a better job knowing Max. 

A few days into the trip things got exciting. Too exciting. There were a series of deafening bangs on the ship's hull. The alert went off. The other passengers were in a panic.Max and I not ones to sit around started toward the lounge, the lounge had the best windows on the ship to see what was going on outside. Outside our door a crew member handed us emergency packs and told us to return to our rooms. Ahh, no.

From the lounge I saw the strangest ship I'd ever seen. It looked like five different ships fused together. I'd heard of hartunfaans, but never thought I'd see one of their ships this soon. Killers and breeders, an evil lot. Max and I ran up to the bridge to see if there was anything we could do. A boarding pod latched onto the hull outside the cargo bay. A chance to use my new laser pistol. Excited and terrified Max and I ran down to the cargo area. Large blivets of various of gases were secured by cables. Four levels. It was crazy.

Boom! The boarding pod struck the side of the ship, blew a hole threw the hull and six hartunfaans ran out. They wore magnetic boots and were standing on the walls. From below, four crew members of the Tusk opened fire. Max was quick to run to join them, his laser pistol firing wildly in the air. He showed no fear. I went up to the next level hoping to catch the bastards in a crossfire. What the hell did I know? I was always the third man on the university fencing team and there were only four of us.

I reached the next level, laser fire was going everywhere and we were surrounded by 300 lb. compressed gas bombs. I did a quick estimation in my mind and thought it was comparable to my parents putting me into advanced quantum physics class when I was nine. But I didn't have a sweet laser pistol then.

I fired off my first shot. I missed. Actually, if the hull hadn't been there I probably would have missed space!  One of the crew members went down as did one of the hartunfaans. The one I shot at took aim at me and missed, but he melted a large section of the catwalk I was standing on. Then hit me with second shot. Luckily the railing got the most of it. Then the gas blivet caught fire.

Before I know what I was doing I jumped off the catwalk onto the hartunfaans that shot at me. I ended up putting him in a headlock and shooting at another raider. I...ah...missed again. 

Max and the crew were laying down heavy fire, but two of the crew were down and another one was trapped under a gas blivet. 

As I was hanging on for dear life, the hartunfaan, the fucker bit me. Next thing I know I am woozy, I can understand what its saying and my will was fading, I was ready to do whatever it wanted. Max blasted it, but it still tried to shoot me. I was able to get enough of my wits gathered and blasted it dead. Then I nearly fell the remaining two tiers. Which would have been okay, since the hartunfaan blew himself up. 

Max was able to rescue me from taking the fall. After all, I'd already been shot, bitten and burned. No need to add a fall to it. Then the boarding ship exploded opening a large hole into space. We managed to direct one of the gas blivets to 'plug' the hole. 

We escaped to the bridge and things went nuts. In short, the hartunfaan blew the bridge off the ship. Max and I sealed ourselves in the navigation room. Distress calls had been made and scout ships from the Millwall Station arrived just in time to chase the remaining hartunfaan away. 

Once we arrived at Millwall Station Col. Bertolucci offered Max and I the Tusk, since everyone else had died except a janitor and an elderly couple. But, the Tusk needs thousands of credits of repairs. I think I have three to my name. However, if we did some missions for a strange alien named Dr. Scrot. 

So it begins.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mutant Sludge, Severed Appendages and How They Saved My Friday

+Christian Walker ran me through my second session exploring the Wasteland of Gath. It saved my Friday.

My companion, Kerg, a dwarf of great fortitude and bravery, was struck with urge to defecate. Frantic, he ran to deposit his turtledoves into a large crate in the middle of the road. No sooner had he dropped his trousers and assumed the position, he shouted something unintelligible then ran back to me. "Jesus Christ", the poor dwarf clung to his heathen expressions, but his excitement was warranted. From the crater crawled three abominations. Creatures of such grotesqueness that even the Great Imbiber would not allow them to sit at the far table in the Immaculate Tavern. 

Since we were outnumbered thought of approaching them with a more unconventional method. I gave Kerg one end of a rope as I held onto the other. We charged the the creatures with the rope taut between us. One of the foul things fell back into the pit, Kerg struggled, lost the grip of the rope and it fell harmlessly to the ground, not impairing the other two.

We took positions farther down the road, readying our weapons. The two creatures were upon us quickly. Being the old, scarred man that I am, I rarely move quickly. One of the horrible things struck Kerg in the side, the blood spattered on the road.

I managed to hit one from behind. The force of the blow caused the left side of its head to crumple. It did not make a sound when it hit the ground. The third creature crawled out of the pit.

The battle ensued. Kerg was set upon, but he held his ground and fought back, his wild swings, while not finding flesh were enough to keep the creatures at bay, allowing me to strike a second one down. 

But it was during this time when another wasteland inhabitant scrambled out from the bushes, dropping a bucket, and fleeing on a path to the north. I noted this as something that might need revisited.

The third creature died, again it fell silently. The wasteland wind is always so fierce, but even it quieted for a moment. A gift from the Great Imbiber, a divine nod of his approval that we had done a good thing.

We investigated the pit, a hole filled with a black sludge and within the sludge there were three large eggs. Hatched. I was glad to see no fourth or fifth egg. Then I remember the fallen bucket. The fleeing creature kept severed hands and feet within. My guess was to feed the abominations. With some back alley ingenuity I fashion a dredge with the bucket and my rope. Who knows what offerings might be at the bottom of the sludge.

We found various bones. Apparently these creatures have been here for some time. Another thing to note. While I may or may not have been hung over on the day Father Orius went over the dangers of witches, I do remember there is a connection. 

It was then when Kerg saw a skull. A marvelous skull encrusted with aquamarine. How such a beautiful thing could appear so close to the lost souls of the wastelands creatures. It was inspiring. But this was not my day. This gift from the Great Imbiber was meant for Kerg. And true to Kerg's nature, he was humble in the acceptance and praised the Great Imbiber. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Finding a Concept for an Adventure

Last night I was writing. As I often do, I draw a batch of maps, put them in a folder and then when I want to write I chose a map that is inspiring me at that moment. Last night this simple grid map screamed it wanted my attention.

Those of you who don't know, I have a Patreon where I create micro-adventures or locations. Little pieces GMs can throw into their campaigns to fill in the spaces in between. Currently, I'm in the process of making a lot of ruins for the sandbox I'm developing. My idea is to map and detail 100 different ruins and put them in a random table so a GM can seed Komor Forest or their own campaign with various ruins.

Many times when I start writing I'm not sure what this map is about. Empty rooms and corridors waiting for words. While most times I'll write stream of consciousness and rift on whatever is going on in my head, this time I grabbed some books to help get the juices flowing. On my table were +Richard LeBlanc's glorious D30 Companion, Raging Swan Press's, GM's Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing and lastly the ancient artifact of the Monster & Treasure Assortment: Sets One-Three: Levels One-Nine. All of these are worth grabbing.

I roll a few times on various tables, write down the results. It's then I start getting an idea what's going on in that map of mine. I wanted to keep this map/adventure simple. With the adventures I write for my Patreon, many don't have a backstory explaining its existence up front. I prefer to let the place tell, or hint, at the reason why it was built and what has happened. 

Again, most of this is me rifting off of a few detail I get from random tables. The random tables are a great tool because they take you to a place you probably wouldn't have gone. Given you an angle to play up for the adventure, that might not have existed. 

Still, I wanted to keep this a straight forward adventure. But while I am writing about a simple crypt some interesting details popped up that gives details about the people who are buried in the tombs. Slight hints of why they are there and new mundane and magic items. 

Death Coins: A simple tweaking of historical stuff. Coins made specifically for the dead to be spent on the after world. Minted with a crow and stored in their tombs. Northmen had to exchange the treasures they found in life for the currency used in the afterlife. And where do you get such coins, the shamans, temples or oracles of course. And it was not a one-for-one exchange. No. It was important that a death was accompanied by cache of death coins. If not, a beggar forever. While not completely explained in detail in the adventure, their importance is hinted at.

Spells as Treasure: I'm using Swords & Wizardry Light. The list of spells available to the players is minimal. It works. This gives me the opportunity to give the players a spell they would not normally have access to. I like that. Now the party's mage or cleric is wielding a spell few have access to. 

Useful Dungeon Stuff: One of my favorite things to add to adventures is dungeon stuff that proves useful. In this case, the adventures find crypt dust. Basically a body is so old that even the bones have turned to dust. I add a note in the adventure that so many doses can be harvested from the crypt and can be used to enhance a Speak with Dead spell. Instead of the usual three questions, the caster can ask four. It's not an overpowering effect, but something the players may find useful and if nothing else, can sell it for a pouch full of coins to a local mage. 

New Magic Items: When I create magic items my attempt is to make them unique. To give them a reason to exist. Magic items are rare and precious. Often they have side effects that are not helpful to the player. Like the ring I am working on, its not finished yet, the players find, while it helps with protecting the player, it costs blood to fuel its magic. I haven't worked out the details, and it is a low powered magic item so the cost will be minimal. However, in a game of S&WL, a single hit point makes all the difference in the world. 

Hope to have this adventure out by the weekend. I've got three other adventures in various stages of abandonment. I offer all these adventures for free, so you can grab them on my Patreon and check out my other offerings. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

What Really Happened in the Wasteland of Gath

Brother Adelmo Performing a Daily Ritual to the Great Imbiber.
I started my journey alone into the Wasteland of Gath, but it was not long before I found not only a companion in my journey, but another blessed soul that the Great Imbiber provided a hard and difficult life, to grant him stories that will carry him to the Immaculate Tavern. 

I speak of my friend Kerg. I found him along side the road, banging his head in despair. I greeted him and he immediately told me his story. A glorious story of betrayal, loneliness and despair. I shared the sanctified wine I carried and praised him and his story and how the Great Imbiber has blessed him with scars to show a life well lived. We finished our rite of greeting and decided our stories should be joined in Gath.

A road was plotted out for us. The bright yellow lines showed us our path and we followed. It was not long before we came across a hulking metal box. As we approached, we heard the jangle of chains against the road. From the front of the metal box, two skeletons, brothers who had lost their way, emerged. They surged towards us with jerking, awkward steps. 

Kerg questioned whether he was worthy to set one of our brothers free. I told him "let loose and may your strikes set our brothers free". His bolt grazed the abnormally pointy skull. 

I stepped forward, brandishing the Tankard of the Great Imbiber, "Go now brothers, your stories need to be told." And they turned to shamble away.

Kerg asked again, "should I shoot them?" 

"Set them free Kerg!" As I stepped behind one, my mace found a home in the ribcage, shattering the mid-section and watching him scatter across the road. Kerg's aim was true and severed the backbone of our second fallen brother and I watched as he collapsed on itself.

I took my pyx out, filled it with wine and let it dip into their fleshless mouth. "May the Great Imbiber accept you and hear your stories, see your scars and marvel at the life you have lived."

I completed the rite for the second brother. It was then I saw a glint of gold within the skull. Since I had no tools to retrieve the gold, I handed it to Kerg who questioned smashing the skull.

"Our brother has begun his journey and the Great Imbiber has saw fit to reward us. It would be rude not to accept." 

Kerg smash the skull and we each collected a gold ingot. Our brother must have some wonderful stories to be rewarded so generously.

It was then we heard noises within the metal box. More chains clanging. Metal against metal. We climbed upon the bus and saw more brother trapped within. This may be my first step into a greater world, but I could never imagine being responsible for setting so many free, so quickly. 

I'd heard about these boxes and found the liquid fire that allowed it to move. We poked a hole where the blood was stored, soaked a cloth, lit it and ran to the other side of the road. Kerg and I stood there, wine in hand, blessing the souls we freed in a glorious conflagration. Those boys were entering the Immaculate Tavern with an resounding announcement. 

With the souls set free, our cups empty, we continue our journey in the glorious Wasteland of Gath with purpose and the Great Imbiber on our side. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Great Imbiber Provides

+Christian Walker is running an interesting game. He comes up with great things that really get my creativeness going. Christian is running a series of micro games. A single player rolls a character and introduced to the situation. The session takes about 30 minutes. He then repeats this with other players. 

First, it was great to talk with Christian. I've known him for years and we've exchanged a lot of mail during that time, but we hadn't gamed together or spoken to one another. So it was a real treat to meet my gaming brother on the west coast.

Second, I love this idea. Quick sessions with individuals. I can't wait to read Christian's post about how each of us dealt with the situation. That will be a fun read.

Third, I really like my character. Brother Adelmo, a 50 year-old acolyte who wandered through his life looking for a purpose and believes he's finally found it, serving the Great Imbiber. With his bottles of wine he intends to make the world a better place.

Fourth, love, love, love the little battle maps that Christian made and sent in the mail. You play along on Google Hangouts and we keep track of characters on our own battle mat. So cool. I don't have minis so dice were my substitute.

Fifth, he left me wanting more. I had a lot of fun. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Continuing Saga of Free RPG Day

Each year I look forward to Free RPG Day. It's just a cool concept and it gets me into the gaming store. My problem continues to be the gaming store. Each year they find a way to be annoying or go straight to be assholes. This year it was more annoying. First off, they allowed me to chose one thing from the box. I'm not sure how other stores do it. Maybe that's standard. But I was hoping to pick up a couple things minimum. 

The other thing that I find annoying about them is they have a lot of old, used gaming stuff in the basement. Had it there for years. I asked if I could take a look at the boxes. No. They were doing a computerized list of items and going to sell them on-line, but the person who was going to do that left last year...  So you have someone standing in front of you with cash in hand and... 

While I left with Vaginas Are Magic and bought an interesting Pathfinder: Occult Bestiary, going to that game store reminds me why I order most of my books on-line. The one game store that is closer and much more friendly, unfortunately, did not participate. I would have probably set up shop there for a while, bought some books and ran a game or two. 

Maybe next year. My friend and I were talking and may invite the owner to participate and we would help with the cost. That way the local folks where I live can check it out, have a friendly atmosphere to play and get some cool ass games. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ghoul Nest

I offer you my 66th micro-adventure and my 88th over all, Ghoul Nest. Getting close to that 100 mark. We'll have to talk about that. I'd like to do something cool. 
Back to the adventure. Ghoul Nest. "What?", you ask as you tilt your head to the side. "Why would a ghoul nest?" Good question. "They live in graveyards and eat the almost living." Good point. 
What if I told you there were ghouls with wings. Not the women's sanitation napkin kinda wings. No. Scary membrane, batish wings. They are small, undead humanoids with wings that have a paralyzing touch and they love nothing more than a warm skull full of brains. Nom nom nom. 

These vicious little bastards. They are minions of one of my nine death gods, Torox. Rivals to the Crow. You can find a sampling of them in MA#57 Judgement of the Crow
This adventure dangles an artifact in front of the party's drooling gobs, Ver-Kalapac or Blood Hammer. How simple it would be to step into the twisting spires of the Crow temple and take the artifact. No vast dungeon delving. No year long trek through fourteen different types of extreme weather. Just walk in and take it. Except...someone had already did that a couple centuries earlier. Still, kill the ghouls and there is some useful loot to be found.
Playing the Flying Ghouls: Use their flying ability to their advantage. When the party steps into the spires I'd give them a chance to look around for a round, maybe two. If they don't look up the flying ghouls would get a surprise attack. They are small and quick. They swoop down to attack and then fly back into the rafters. Out of reach of melee weapons. The flying ghouls won't land until they believe all their prey is paralyzed. 
Their paralyzing touch lasts one-third of their bipedal brethren, so these little guys move fast when they eat. To add some gruesome details, when a hit scores maximum damage, the character may lose an eye, or a finger is bitten off or part of the nose is torn off. 
Crow's Reward:  The forest, while forgiving of its denizens, loathes these creatures. If any character has shown interest in the history of the Crow or bears any symbology,  the flying ghouls will target that character. If they should cleanse the temple of the creatures and perform some sort of smudging or cleansing ceremony, that character may find a crow as a henchmen. The GM can fiddle with the details. When I do this I general have the character and the creature bond over a simple task it does. In this case, maybe the crow finds a pouch of silver the party missed or an silver ring lost in the debris. And as the game goes on, the crow will be helpful in more ways. A developing, non-magical, familiar. 
Artifact Carrot: If the party thought they were going to waltz in and find a artifact just sitting there after centuries...shame on them. However, if you have a hammer lov'n man (or woman) that would like to get their paws on Ver-Kalapac, then this can lead to following a trail of rumors and evidence. Who knows, maybe a future micro-adventure. Ver-Kalapac is not assigned any powers at t his time, but the name, Blood Hammer, would suggest it likes to fight. Something like this would not go unnoticed.
Well shit. That's all I got for now. Micro-adventures is at its highest patronage it has even been. So thank you. While I haven't struck the original art goal just yet, I'm still going to inquire about getting more original art for our adventures. Cause getting art specifically created for your adventures is just so cool. Grab the PDF for free and if you like what you see, join in on the fun.
Roll some dice, make your saves and check for traps...twice!