Sunday, December 22, 2019

Four Phases of a Map

I was looking for some generic dungeon maps in my stash of hundreds I've already drawn, but couldn't find anything I wanted. Yes, I was being picky, but none of the maps inspired me. So time for a new batch. 

I kept the map to minimal detail. I didn't want room details. I wanted a dungeon map where I just add numbers. Write the description and not be constrained by drawn room details. This way the map is usable for any of my projects. 

Ingredients for my map.
  • sheet of graph paper
  • no.2 pencil
  • hi-polymer white eraser
  • micron pen 5
  • micron pen .005
  • and a Steelers game where they lost, stupid Steelers
I skipped one of the steps. Where I simply outlined the shape of the dungeon. This step involved creating interesting border to define the walls. This was done in pencil.

Phase two I inked all the stones with a Micron 5 pen. Then erased the pencil marks with a hi-polymer eraser. I love those erasers because they do the best job of eliminating the pencil marks without staining the paper.

In the third phase I took a Micron .005 pen and highlighted the grid a bit. I think it adds to the look. A thing I stole from Glynn Seal's maps.

The last phase is adding the shadowing in the stone to help define the layout of the dungeon. I used a pencil. Then used my Micron .005 pen to add bits of rubble detail. It adds a nice touch to the look.

Now my dungeon is ready for words. 

Thanks for reading. 

Preparing for the Couch

I'm one of seven people that didn't go see the latest Star Wars movie. I was supposed to go this morning, but I got a bad case of the anti-socials. Plus, there were probably too many fanboys there critiquing the movie as it played. I want to go and just enjoy the movie on the big screen. Even if its a crap movie, I'll still enjoy it. 

But that's not what we're here for.

Christmas is less than handful of days away. I'm getting a very cool gift, yes I know what it is. A small couch (loveseat) for my office. I wanted a nice place dedicated to reading. A place to sit, have a small table for my book(s), and a window nearby for light and a view. A chill place. No electronics. Just a place to get lost in a book for hours at a time.

This picture is from the website of what should arrive Monday.  

Now I'll need to rearrange my gaming book shelves. Sigh. But it'll be worth it. 

Oh, and as a cool bonus, I now have a d20 pillow to put on my couch. 

Friday, December 20, 2019

Small Details: Floors

 Art by Inken Moran

This is a series of posts I've done in the past where I take an feature of a dungeon and create a random table.

Today's offerings are floors. Packed earth, rough stone, cobblestones, mucus membrane of an otherworldly being, floors are not limited. A short table that adds a few interesting ideas to inspire your next encounter. I don't provide answers for the strangeness. Run with it. 
  1. Thick, wooden planks have fresh scars, as if someone drug something/someone across the floor.
  2. The soft dirt floor grabs at the adventurers feet. Each step causes a rippling effects as if it were thick water. The dirt moves and settles as several dozen bones of various sizes surface all around the room. 
  3. The rough stone floor gives away to precise cut stones organized into a spiraling pattern. The center stone has an inset handle. It takes two turns to ‘unscrew’ the center stone. The stone is hollow, within the hollow section is a large, brass, double-pronged key with dwarven runes etched into the shaft. 
  4. There is a section of the wooden floor that is a different color. If tapped or walked upon, it is hollow beneath. If the boards are removed an ancient well is revealed. Once the well is exposed the area turns cold and frost forms on everything and everyone in the area. From the depths, a horrific rumbling roar erupts.
  5. The floor is made from ancient brown, skulls. Walking is difficult. Running impossible. When the skulls are stepped upon some crumble and collapse. Beneath the layer of skulls is another layer skulls.
  6. The floor's surface has a yellow viscus-like consistency. Footing is slippery. When light source is brought close to the floor it has a foggy transparency. Dark snake shaped things move beneath the floor. 
  7. There is a hole in the middle of the floor as if something erupted out of the ground. A sickly sweet acidic smell is nauseating. A frothy green liquid slides out from the damaged area of the floor.
  8. The floor is made of small metal slivers. If a spellcaster enters the room, the metal slivers vibrate, and mover towards the spellcaster.
  9. A fine, white sand makes up the floor. It has series of perfectly formed ripples. In the far corner, the sand is disturbed, and dark green grit spoils the sand. 
  10. Black glass floor is nearly impossible to walk upon. It is friction-less. It slants slightly so anyone who steps upon the floor is immediately swept down to the other side of the room. 
That's all for this entry of Small Detail. Please add your own entry in the comments. 

Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 16, 2019

A Take on Healing Potions

There are two types of healing potions in my campaign.  Those that are made from natural ingredients that can be harvested and mixed into healing concoctions.  These come in two forms. a drinking potion or a salve. And then the magic healing potion.

Natural Healing Potions
These potions are relatively cheap and much easier to find.  When the party is looking to buy a batch of healing potions these are usually what they are purchasing.  The ingredients are not that difficult to find, most are grown in gardens or harvested from the local fauna.  Each culture has their version of healing potion.

One of the drawbacks of natural healing potions is they spoil.  Because they are made of natural ingredients they have a self life.  There is a chance that when a character takes a swig he discovers the concoction has turnedAnother issue is a healing potion cannot be used on an unconscious person. The character just chokes and spits it out. So if Igor the Meatshield is down after a battle, trying to revive him with a natural healing potion won't work. And lastly, natural healing potions can only be consumed once a day. Drinking multiple doses has no additional affect.

I use these types of healing potions for my gritty games, where its a low-level grind and resources are scarce. Magical healing potions are rare and expensive.

The Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Can be purchased in large quantities 
The Cons
  •  Since they are made of natural ingredients the potions can spoil
  • Cannot be used on an unconscious person 
  • Multiple uses don't equal more hit points
One of the rules I used to have with natural healing potions was it enhanced the healing when resting. So the healing would be rolled after a night's rest. This was a bit problematic. So I dropped that requirement. 

Magical Healing Potions
Magical healing potions are what most think of when reading the game books. A swig of instant healing. Of various strengths. These types of healing potions don't have to be imbibed to work, they can be poured over the wounded area to seal a nasty chest wound.

Drawbacks. First off the components to create magical healing potions is not easy to come by. Some sort of regenerative creature's blood is required. Such as imps, ogre magis, quasits, trolls, and vampires just to name a few from the 1st edition Monster Manual. Trolls are preferred. Some shops keep a troll imprisoned and bleed him when they need more for potions. This practice is frowned upon. Not because of troll rights activists, but the damage the trolls cause when they get loose.

Alchemists put the supply of healing potions back on the adventurers, "You want the healing potions, go get me some good blood. Now stop bothering me." Evil mages bleed an imp or quasit familiar for a drop or two without it getting too pissed.

 The Pros
  • Heals instantly
  • Doesn't need imbibed, can be poured over wounds
  • Can drink multiple potions throughout the day
The Cons
  •  Expensive
  • Ingredients are difficult and dangerous to obtain
  • Limited quantity
Side Effects
I sometimes implement side effects with healing potions. The natural potions not so much, but for magical healing potions here are a few of the side effects I have used. These are to give the potions a little more character in game play and some add to the usefulness of the potions. 
  • The healing potion has a warming affect, not unlike a shot of alcohol
  • The character gets tired, especially if several does are drank in a single day. The body's metabolism is running high to heal those wounds thus draining the strength from the imbiber.
  • Some healing potions can do additional things, such as neutralize poison or eliminate parasites (such as rot grubs). 
  • There have been occasions where a healing potion has caused hallucinations. The character is unable to define reality making him or her a danger to others and/or themselves. 
Lastly, I do like to vary these common items from culture to culture. Even among races their version of what heals are different. Or their magic formulas will vary on how to concoct the perfect healing potion. 

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

A Plague of Goblins!

Look at that glorious little goblin. A piece from the AD&D Monster Manual.

Goblins are  my favorite old fashion D&D critter. Over the years I've adapted the way I think about them. No longer are they just low-level fodder to be slept and slaughtered. They've become an important part of my campaign and one of the more interesting races in my campaign. The title of this post comes from what what I call a big bunch of goblins. You've heard of a murder of crows. Meet the Plague of Goblins. 

Goblins are a race with hundreds of tribes, with hundreds of factions within those tribes, with even more ideas on how things should be. Goblins look to improve their situation, however their innate impulsiveness, often sacrifices a better future for a better right now. 

Goblins are the great race of adaptation. They are survivors. They are the weakest, major race when it comes to military prowess and physical strength. They often have to move from predators and adapt to their new environment. This sometimes means they need to live in harsh conditions to avoid frequent conflicts. Or it means when the new heavy that comes in the territory, whether its a human community, dragon, ogre, or a charismatic preacher looking to convert their ways. Goblins learn quickly what others want and make sure they get it.

In the later example about the charismatic preacher, goblins don't worship a goblin god. Their religious tenents are formed to whom ever they attach themselves to. However, when they try to simulate religious rites and ceremonies it is never quite right. It comes off as comical. Some see it as mockery. Without religious guidance from another race or person, they are content without spiritual guidance. 

Forming Communities
Goblins are quick to find a spot where they fit in. They may not be treated well. They may be treated no better than second class citizens, but when they find a niche within the community they are dedicated to it. For example, in the great city-state they built their community near the trash heap outside the walls. The goblins hunt and kill the rats (giant, large, and small) and other critters that infest such places and make sure it doesn't become a problem. In some of the smaller communities they are excellent scavengers. If you need something they find it or something close to it. 

War Goblins
There is a faction of goblins dedicated to the art of war. These goblins are always led by a dominant person or creature that is not of goblin heritage. The tactics used are modeled after the attacking style of who they have dedicated their lives to. Examples would be, goblins who are led by a highly intelligent worg might use deceptive tactics. Speed. While a group that follows a dragon may use formations in the shape of a dragon and use the wings to encircle an enemy and a retinue of skilled archers as the breath weapon. Their tactics are creative and effective to a point. Because of their fragile nature, goblins still rely on massive numbers to win.

Magic Goblins?
There are no traditional spellcasters that are goblin. However, some goblins are born with gifts. Some goblins are born finders. As in the afore mentioned scavengers. They just know where to look. Their memory has an limited eidetic quality where they remember where they've seen things. Some goblins have the instinctual knowledge of plants. The ones that heal. The ones that poison. The ones that are edible. While they may not know how to bring out the properties of a plant, alchemists and herbalists often employ a goblin to help gather ingredients. 

In recent sessions of my campaign it's interesting to listen to the players calculate whether a goblin is friendly or hostile. Of course they default to kill them all and if one manages to survive, then ask if they were friendly. 

Rage Goblins
This is what I think of, when I think of old school goblins. Little rage machines. Like a little dog who attacks a moose because the dog thinks it can take it down or scare it away. Goblin Rage is actually a disease, for lack of a better word. No one is sure what it is or how it's spread. When a Goblin contracts the Rage, their eyes turn red, froth at the mouth, and attacks anyone it sees. Other goblins are terrified of the Rage. There are times when it becomes contagious and an entire community tears itself apart. Other times it remains only with a single goblin. There is no identifying trait that allows one to predict if a goblin is infected.

I use goblins in many ways in my campaign. This provides opportunities to get them involved beyond a gang waiting in a numbered room or a number on a random encounter table. In almost every instance, the party has adopted a goblin. They come to see it as an ally or friend, or at the very least, a resource. My current group encountered hundreds of war goblins. Instead of attempting a frontal assault, the party used a different tactic, to hire them. Terms were discussed and agreed upon. 

We'll have to see how this turns out.

Thanks for reading!

Note: Tried to use the caption option on the pictures, but nothing showed. So I am crediting the artist below with links to their stores on Drivethru RPG (except DAT). 

Artists in Order
David A. Trampier

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

I'm Back

So after an experiment with my own website over at Wix I came to the conclusion that while it was a platform with many bells and whistles, it didn't suit my simple style...and it cost over $350 per year to keep it running!

I was hoping the move would inspire me to return to blogging, but all it did was isolate me. My RSS feed never worked. I didn't have my extensive blog roll (which I need to update). And it didn't seem like home. Like I was wearing someone else's shoes.

This is my blogging home. I'll stay put.

I need to find an alternative for my gaming store. Possibly Etsy. Or some other kind of on-line store.

But I wanted to let you know I am back to blogger. Ivy is going to move it over to my domain of when she gets a chance.

Glad to be back.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Session 4: Into the Wolf Creek Ruins

Session 4 is in the books. This is the first session with @erik tenkar and @Jason Hobbs, along with @Joethelawyer and @Matt Jackson. The party is unraveling a small set of mysterious finds within the Ruins of Wolf Creek!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Last Post

I finally published my new website at, 

For those who have a blog roll, it would be cool if you could updated my address. Much appreciated. 

It was a lot of work. It would have been a lot more work if Whisk hadn't helped me out. She helped me with all the pictures and sizing to make sure they looked good on the page. I don't have the patience for those kinds of things. 

There is a lot more to figure out. More tweaking. My mobile look is wonky. Who knows, this old man might accidentally learn something about web design. 

It is good day and a sad day. I'm not a sentimental person, but this has been my home for nearly ten years. It served its purpose beyond expectations. I have met countless fantastic gamers because of this blog. It gave me the confidence to begin publishing. I've learned more about gaming and all the various philosophies that orbit the funny looking dice because of Gothridge Manor.

I hope folks join me on my next journey. While the address may have changed, my intent remains the same. Gothridge Manor is and always be about gaming. Serious topics are illegal within these walls. I'll continue to write adventures, share my maps and Whisk's beautiful dice pictures, share some game sessions, do reviews, and have a conversation with all those that stop by.

Thank you all. 

It's time. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Packing Boxes for the Move

I announced a while back that I am moving Gothridge Manor to a new home. I've had my fill of all the Google nonsense and ineptitude. I know no company is perfect, but I'm done here. I've out grown my space. I probably should have done this a few years ago.

Let me tell you what's going on. First, my new home will be I've had that domain for years, finally parked it over at Wix, purchased a merchant account so I can combine my store with my website, and my podcast. It'll be my one stop place to find everything. It's got me psyched about blogging again. 

I've been working on the website steady this weekend hoping to do a grand opening. I under estimated the work load. I'm not expecting to get everything done, but I want it to look good and be functional. 

The store part takes the longest. All the pictures I have needed resized and put into a format that fits. Good thing I have Ivy or that might have not gotten done. It wouldn't have been done. 

These samples give you an idea of what they look like. I think she did an amazing job. Her help has been tremendous. 

After the pictures are plugged in I priced them, put them in the proper categories, and wrote descriptions. I got all the NPC Cards done, The Manors done, but no progress with the micro-adventures or micro-locations which is a chunk. I'm not planning on getting them all in before I go live, but I'd like to get a batch done.

My store is broken into categories such as The Manor, NPC Cards, Micro-Adventures, and then I'm adding a used gaming book store. I continue to sift through my shelves and find books I have duplicates of or just don't plan on using again. 

I don't have a timeline...yet. But it is my top priority. And I'm sure I'll need to tweak things, but that is a good problem to have.

When I move I hope you'll join me. It's not to far of a walk. One click away.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Let's Build an Adventure Using My New GM Tarot Cards

So I received my GM Tarot Cards in the mail today. It was a Kickstarter that met two of its stretch goals. So I in addition to receiving the general deck, I also received the urban and wilderness decks. 

My only gripe is the font is tiny and the background images interfere. They are nice looking cards, great cases, and useful...but there is only one way to prove how useful. 

Let's make an adventure!

Let's keep the first one simple. A dungeon. We'll need a map. Oh look, here's one.

Six numbered encounters in a straight forward underground, dungeon, cellar, or sewer. CARD TIME!

The GM Tarot Cards, I'm using the general deck, has three different type of cards; locations, encounters, and hooks. Location cards have a compass. 

So our little dungeon is neither dungeon, cellar, or sewer. Tis, a crypt of the family variety. Wafting in the air are the scented memories of births, celebrations, rivalries, love, and deaths. Shared experiences of the Covenington family. Stuffed in expensive vases around the crypt are now dead lilacs and lilies sitting on well crafted wood tables. On the floors are fanciful rugs you would find layered in a parlor. The appearance is unsettling because of the attempt to duplicate a room for the living.

The young house maids gossip about the wealth that is no longer within the house. Rooms that were once filled with gold and silver items of exquisite craftsmanship are missing. They whisper that the lords and ladies must have been buried with their treasures. The older servants smack them for their idle gossip and make them return to their duties. Things still need cleaned, repaired, and kept in order until the next lord visits. 

A Bit of Mystery
During the burial of the late Lady Gwen, one of the pall bearers, Gibson, noticed one of the crypts remained unmarked. Strange. He thought it empty, but the crypt was sealed, the lid was secured with what looked like silver spikes. But consider the source, Gibson gets his nickname, Red Nose, for a reason. He never met an ale he didn't like. He's the one who thought he saw a short ghost in the forest. It ended up being Miss Gladiola's dog tangled in a bed sheet.

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to use one or all, but I'm developing all of them just to have in my hip pocket. You never know when the party is going to turn left, right, take flight, or decide to leave the area completely. 

 Let's grab a hook card.

Very appropriate card. I am pulling these out at random. I swear. So let's see what kind of hooks we can create.

Unwelcome Guests
The Covington family has always been secretive. They are no different in death. With the scuffling of booted feet, not even the silent pads of a halfling will escape their notice. 

What the Hell was that?
Anderson, the caretaker of the manor, said he nearly died of fright. He saw a thing. Like human, but broken. Its back and limbs bent at odd angles. For a moment, the edge of his lantern light caught features between the darkness. The gaping mouth was pitch black and hung open. The creature bolted into the darkness.

Call of the Quiet
The Covington crypt claimed a victim recently. The miller's boy, no one remembers his name, disappeared months ago. Tracks led to the crypt entrance. A servant found a sack of flour the boy intended to deliver at the bottom of the stairs.

The last card is encounters. I think we've covered that with the previous cards. But do you think I'm not going to use one. I so am. 

Unseen Hoard
At first you think it's rain. A steady tapping noise. But as it continues it gets louder, stranger. From the other side of the walls you hear the sound of hundreds of thunderous footsteps charging your location. At any moment you expect the walls to explode and an army to pour into the room. 

The Grotesque 
It was Anderson who spoke of a creature of grotesque countenance. Such a creature stands half in light, half in the dark, its features continue to shift. It seems to struggle with the changes. What one would consider hands, holds its bent head and its body trembles. It looks more pathetic than terrifying. Any approach, the creature shifts, flickers into view for brief moments then vanishes. 

What...who is that?
The torchlight flickers. It fights the veils of darkness that flutter between the light and the things in the crypt. Between the veils, you see hunched creature with elongated arms that end in large, curled spikes. When the torchlight hits it, the veil moves and the creature disappears. A moment later, the creature is upon you.

Now I have all this information to build an adventure. More than I'll need. I can use some of it to build the lore around the crypt. I have NPCs to carry the storyline, some creditable, some not so much. I also have a creature, or more than one, ready to inflict horrible things upon the party. 

Doing this exercise, I see different avenues to develop the adventure and to get the party involved. Especially if they do multiple visits. This could be a place that evolves. Develops. The first visit doesn't necessarily mean the creature in the dark will reveal itself. Other strange happenings can occur. Who knows. 

One of the concepts I like to use, is the developing adventure. Not everything happens or is revealed at once. Through play and discovery, the site/adventure comes alive to reveal a horrible truth hidden beneath the veneer of rumors and distraction. 

Cool. I'm done. This was fun. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Zine Quest...Let's Do This

Kickstarter announced in November 2018 (I am late to the party, but the party ain't over) it is inviting creators to launch their own RPG-inspired zine for February 2019. Kickstarter said they will feature Zine Quest projects on a special collection page in their Games newsletter.

Here are the guidelines. Simple to follow guidelines that really shows they want the old school type of zine. 
  1. Zines must either contain RPG or feature RPG-related content (like maps, adventures, monsters, comics, articles, interviews, ect.)
  2. Zines must be 5.5 x 8.5 (A5) or smaller.
  3. Zines must feature one-color printing. Note: You can print on colored paper. One color printing doesn't just mean black! You can use green, blue, or red ink if you think it suits.
  4. Zines must be unbound, folded, stapled, or saddled-stitched. No hard cover or perfect binding allowed. 

Love it.

The Zine Quest starts in February. So they remind you not to launch your project until February 1, 2019. 

To get information from the Kickstarter's mouth here are the links.

Today on my Gothridge Manor Podcast I called out my fellow Anchorites to get in on this and make some zines. Make some fucking content. The OSR, yes I am still using that term, when not chewing off its own leg, is a fierce, creative force. Let's have some fun.

Old zine makers, dust off those old long-armed staplers.

Wanna be zine makers, this is a great chance to get something going. 

Join with folks to develop content, to help edit, to discover new artists, and expand your circle beyond what you already know. My creation of The Manor opened myself up to entire population I did not know and I've become friends with many. 

I spoke to Jason Hobbs to open up a channel on his Dungeon Audio Discord channel for Zine Quest. He will create an on-going chat. And I also purposed to have a voice channel where we could have folks experienced with zine making and Kickstarters we would schedule times to join together to answer questions. While I can help with zine making, my knowledge of Kickstarters in minimal. It is a different animal from backing to creating a KS.

Once this is up and running I will let you know. 

So are you up for a challenge? Is there a zine idea that's been festering in your mind like an unpopped boil? Are you ready to share the darkness in your mind?

Let's do this!