Saturday, January 18, 2020

Forgotten Crypt of Sir Reginald

Click to grab the PDF

I've been grinding away this month working on a hex crawl adventure that I plan on adding to Zine Quest 2 on Kickstarter. Last year was the first time Kickstarter took the month of February and featured old-school zines. I missed it. I'm not going to let that happen again. 

But I needed a break. So what do I do to take a break from writing an adventure. I write a different adventure. 

The Forgotten Crypt of Sir Reginald is my 86th micro-adventure and my 140th offering created for my Patreon. Everyone of them I've released for free on PDF. And those who wish to get a physical copy push a pledge button. Or if you just like what I do, there is the option to throw a tip into the jar. 

This adventure has been laying around for a while. Sir Reginald's Crypt is actually one of the many entrances into a mega-dungeon I work on occasionally. I believe there are over 350 keyed areas and I've written about 50 of them. I haven't had a party plunder those depths yet. Maybe someday soon.

Sir Reginald is a regional hero in my campaign. For a small group of people he's the shit. He's the one that helped them when no one else would. This adventure is an introduction to the end of his story. I may have a couple more adventures coming out that feature different deeds through out his life. 

I should mention I used a piece of artwork from Rick Hersey of Fat Goblin Games. And I am using another piece of his art (I'm hearing Janis Joplin in my head) for this month's NPC card, coming soon. 
I created a new undead using this piece as the inspiration, skull collector. He's a weird skeleton-like undead who can grab the skulls off of corpses and adhere them on its shoulders. Then use them as missile weapons that do d4 damage. I liked the idea of it. Kinda creepy. It's good to throw an unknown at the players every now and then. 

I also added an element of where nature interacts with magic. I love weaving those elements into my campaign. In this case moonstones are used by necromancers to enhance their raised undead. Effectively they get their max hit points while wearing a moonstone. 

And lastly, poor Reginald suffered one of the worse fates he could have ever imagined. He became one of the undead he hunted all his life. A victim of a wight's drain. Sometimes fate has a cruel sense of humor. 

Alright folks, thanks for stopping by. Again, please stop by Micro-Adventures Patreon and grab some PDFs and consider pledging. But only pledge if you like getting cool gaming stuff in the mail. If you hate that kind of thing...why?!?

Take care!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Big Battles

The adventurers enter a dungeon, a ruins, sewers, or abandon temple and find themselves in a series of personal battles. A group of goblins pepper them with small black arrows before they repel down to the floor and engage in hand-to-hand combat. Skeleton warriors emerge from their earthen graves, exploding debris throughout the crypt, rusted and jagged weapons slicing at their moral opponents as they charge in a silent rage. The floor collapses under the party's weight, the rotten boards shower down on them and that's when they notice the soft, sticky floor moves. A family of green slimes quickly move up the hands and slip beneath armor and clothing.

All scenes from close battles. Something we all have some skill in. However, what happens during large battles? There are many different systems out there to manage large battles. No GM wants to roll for each individual participant. But the personal touch is lost in these systems. It becomes more of a practice in accounting. Calculating numbers of troop strengths and giving various advantages in battle a score to be considered in the column of numbers.

I don't have an answer, but I've been involved with many of the sub-systems during play. What should be a climatic battle came down to number crunching. It detaches the personal heroics from the game.

From Total War Rise of Mordor

Like I mentioned, I don't have a clear answer. However, I have run a handful of big battles over the past year and I found my non-system works fairly well. This works for me, your mileage my vary.
  • I keep the battle as personal focused on the adventurers as much as possible. 
  • The massive battle that happens around them is part of the setting. Assign a few rolls with advantages worked in and have the players roll these.
  • Allow for heroics that you wouldn't normally allow in a regular game. For example, say a fight is surrounded by goblins and he does 15 points of damage. Each goblin has 3hp each. Fighter killed 5 goblins in a single swing. 
  • In addition, if the players come up with crazy ideas let them attempt them. Give it a roll, if they succeed fantastic, if they fail fantastic. Even in success and failure, results are not always what the players expect. 
  • Use tactics for the enemy to make it interesting to keep the players on their toes because they will have been scheming what to do. I know mine will.
  • Always have one or two twists ready for the battle. Good or bad. 
  • Make sure you keep the pressure on the party.
  • Allow death to occur. If one of the party goes down, allow one last heroic act.
  • Then after the battle is over, consider the repercussions of it. It will have a ripple effect. 
While this is not a comprehensive list, nor an organized system, it is a loose philosophy to enter into larger battles to keep them personal. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Constant Reshaping of a Campaign

The Northmen temple the party explored. They expected something bigger. 

Last night's game session three of the five players showed, one was an hour late. The two weeks before, two players showed. And the week before that, one player showed. And the week before that, all five showed.

What is the common denominator of all those weeks? 

We played. 

I've been running this campaign for a little under a year and attendance is sporadic at best. One player left completely. It happens. There are a ton of legit reasons players don't show. And there are some bogus reasons, but we won't dwell on those.

I run a hex crawl, with lots of things going on. Different groups grabbing for the same pot of power. And monsters. Yeah, lots of those. I build off the characters' backstory and their actions. I morph the campaign to reflect the consequences/rewards of those actions. Because I do this, no two campaigns are alike. The maps don't even look alike. I create what best suits the party I'm running.

This is Monday's group map.

This is Wednesday's group map. 

These are the same hand drawn maps. Hounds Head remains in the same spot, but little to nothing else is the same. For example, take a look at the hills just north of Hounds Head. Monday's group encountered a gnoll fort there. Wednesday's group discovered it was territory run by a bugbear tribe. While not all that big of a difference, each change served that particular game. 

A lot of these changes were due to who showed up at the table that night. I will run a game for one person or all of the party. Trying to weave personal story lines to play off a character's backstory is difficult when that player doesn't show on a consistent basis. I built story lines that would flesh out one of the characters and the impact would be felt campaign wide. Then they don't show. And don't show the next week.

Move on.

There are going to be times when story/plot lines don't go anywhere. They abruptly end. It's okay. Work them into the background. While the party is off slaughtering the next batch of orc babies the Temple of Sarrath is establishing fortified locations. Shit happens while the party is crawling in a dungeon.

Focus on the people that show. It's okay to mess with the time continuum. In a recent adventure where the entire party showed I had a climatic end. To be continued the next week. Only two people showed. I still ran a game. I put them a few days back and they got to explore details of what was going on in more depth. The next week it was the same. One person showed. Finish this side quest while we waited for the rest of the group to show. 

This last week, still only two showed (third joined later), the freeze on the climatic end was unfrozen and that scene played out. Nearly exterminating one of the party members. He's okay. A little scarred and scared, but his soiled britches have been changed and his boo boos have been kissed. 

While it wasn't what I wanted, A GM rarely gets what he wants, but I got to play. Have fun. Roll dice. You know. So I did get what I wanted.

Running this past year has taught me to be more flexible when running a game. To run the game with who shows. Adjust your adventures and expectations. Just because you planned the party to enter a hell dungeon this week, but only two show, you decide to run something a little smaller, shorter, but no less deadly. Work in a little backstory or something the players have taken an interest in.

So yeah. That's it. Don't call the game if not everyone shows. Be flexible enough to run with one person or ten.  

Peace out!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Hag Moth

Click on the picture to get a PDF copy.

I've been working all weekend on my Zine Quest 2 project. Its been slow going. I've got bits and pieces spread out. Beginnings of an adventure here, notes over there, and somewhere in the mix is the hag moth. How the hell did this guy get into the mix?

I was writing an adventure and thinking of the dangers in the forest, or more exact the nuisances. Bugs! One of my least favorite things. I figured in the ever darkness of the Komor Forest what would happen when an adventuring party brings in light. Swarm!

I tweaked them a bit so they are only attracted to normal light, not magical. 

I guess hag moths are a real thing. I did not know that. And the pictures I found are creepy. Especially the cocoon. A bit HP Lovecraft looking if you ask me. And the poison, that is true, real life, no shit accurate. 

This little write-up was a nice break from the zine. You can click the picture to grab the PDF.