Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Working toward the Kickstarter - Tuesday Talk

I'm moving forward in the Kickstarter planning stages. One of the most important things for a KS to be successful is to have an engaged audience. I have been actively promoting the blog on FB and G+ for a few weeks now to move toward that goal. What I haven't done yet is start asking what people would like to see in a Mord Mar product.
I have a vision and a lot of writing done for the campaign. But, it does no good if that's not what people are looking for. With that in mind, I am beginning a new weekly blog article: Tuesday Talk!

In this week's Tuesday Talk, I'm asking about the setting. It's important. I mean, it really is everything in a campaign like Mord Mar. For those of you who don't know, I will give a short exposition.

Mord Mar is a great mountain, in which dwarves lived for centuries. The dwarves built a huge city, also called Mord Mar within. They prospered under the Greybeard clan's rule for hundreds of years. Like any successful city-state, they warred with their enemies, namely drow, goblins, and orcs, but the city was always triumphant. Part of this military dominance came from the great teleportation system that connected all of the parts of the city.

Then, the armies of chaos banned together to destroy their structured enemy. Orcs and goblins attacked remote parts of the dwarven homeland, while drow and other magic wielders infiltrated within. The very tools that kept Mord Mar powerful were its downfall. The infiltrators taught the orcs, goblins, and other races that joined in for spoils of war to use the teleportation system. Soon, enemies were appearing out of thin air, and striking down dwarves where they stood. The only area of the city that stayed safe was Var Nae, or Grand Entrance. That section of the city didn't have teleporters to use against the dwarves, and they were able to hold a small piece of their once grand city.

It is rumored that below the base of the mountain, in a deep subterranean cavern, is a device, spell or artifact that can turn a mortal into a god. Many scholars believe this was the very reason why Mord Mar was attacked. Goblins, orcs and their like must dream of immortality. When your society is kill or be killed, there is nothing more tempting.

After the fall of Mord Mar, Var Nae was overrun with refugees from the chaos deeper in the mountain. Many of these dwarves left the comfort of the stone and embarked outside. They found a suitable place near the great mountain, and began to build a city in the swamp. These people benefited from the ancient dwarven discipline of "stonecalling." Some dwarves could move the stone with their voice. A few of these came with the refugees from Var Nae, and build a solid foundation of stone for their new city, Stonemire.

The people of Var Nae understood that they could not reclaim their lost city from the chaos. So, they began an adventurer's guild. Many people from many races came to try their hand at pulling treasure out of the mountain. Many died, a few were successful, and a couple even became rich. It is rumored that at least two members of the guild found how to become gods.

Recently Var Nae has come under drow occupation. They locked the great doors to the outside world.

This is where the 1st Kickstarter book will begin. "Stonemire" will be a setting book, with the city, swamp, and a few nearby dungeons that can once again unlock the Great Doors of Var Nae. Is my premise sound? Would you enjoy reading or playing this product? Please let me know!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monster Monday: Goblins

So last week, I talked about description again. This was my scenario:

The Setting:
Low level characters have been hired by the burgomaster of Stonemire to find out who stole the fireworks for the upcoming celebration. Witnesses report that short cloaked people were seen near the warehouse last night. One witness swears he saw a long hooked nose, and green skin. Another said there were about 10 of them, well organized and being led by a taller fellow.
The group knows there are the following nearby: a goblin village, a kobold cavern, an orcish tribe, a halfling burrow, and a lizard-man encampment.

Where do they head first?

On one of the Facebook posts, someone brought up that AD&D goblins were red. Honestly I never knew that. I think that green goblins started with Fighting Fantasy gamebooks in my mind and have been cemented ever since.
Looking through my collection, the first reference to green goblins I found was in Castles & Crusades, copyright 2005. I know that I've seen goblins as green a lot longer than that.

Even in Mord Mar, I have different types of goblins that look different:

Dreg: An underground goblin. Usually a brown-gray mottled color. Skegs and Dregs constantly interbreed.
Skeg: A swamp goblin. Usually a green-gray mottled color. Skegs and Dregs constantly interbreed.
Ferg: A forest or jungle goblin. They are rarely seen near Mord Mar, but are stronger than their local counterparts. Their skin is usually a forest or kelly green.

But, this brings us to a different question. Should goblins be uniform throughout most (or all) D&D games? Sure, if they are uniform, it is easier to identify when goblins are the foe. But is that a good thing? Should goblins look similar everywhere and still have different cultures?

Feel free to comment!

Monday, May 15, 2017

What Creature Is This: Follow Up

Last week, I asked the audience "what creature is this?"

The Setting:
The adventurers had been contracted by a city to look into the disappearance of some less influential citizens. Most were homeless, but one had been a lesser noble's son who had been on a drinking bender in the slums. The trail led the group to an old mansion at the top of a bluff. After finding some grisly remains in some closets and hidden rooms, the party has made their way to the basement.

Coming down the stairs, the party sees the following creature:

A dirty humanoid is there, with crazy hair. His fingers are elongated, with sharp claws at the fingertips. His clothes are ripped and threadbare. Through the openings in his shirt, you can see his skin, paper thin and pasty white. He stands there, smiling a visage of needle-like teeth. His dull eyes seem to have a malevolent red tinge, but do not reflect the light of your torches as a living being's would.

Here's the breakdown of the answers that I noticed:

  • zombie
  • ghoul x 2
  • ghast
  • wight x 4 (correct answer!)
  • "skeleton not enough meat for a zombie"
As you can see, there was no real consensus among the respondents. Let's do another one, this time not undead:


The Setting:
Low level characters have been hired by the burgomaster of Stonemire to find out who stole the fireworks for the upcoming celebration. Witnesses report that short cloaked people were seen near the warehouse last night. One witness swears he saw a long hooked nose, and green skin. Another said there were about 10 of them, well organized and being led by a taller fellow.
The group knows there are the following nearby: a goblin village, a kobold cavern, an orcish tribe, a halfling burrow, and a lizard-man encampment.

Where do they head first?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Monster Monday - Bulette

One of my favorite monsters is the bulette. Every game needs a tank that can burrow under the protagonists, attack without warning, and leave without dying.
From the title page of the 1st Edition D&D Monster Manual

I may get the details on this wrong, as it is oral history, heard from Tim Kask about 3 years ago at GaryCon. I asked him about his hand in creating the bulette, and to the best of my knowledge this is paraphrasing what I was told:
Gary was always on the lookout for new monsters. He found some Taiwan toy "dinosaurs" that didn't look anything like dinosaurs at a dime store. He brought them back and told the TSR employees  to make monsters for D&D out of them.
Tim grabbed what we now know as the bulette.
Dwarven ponies were running rampant in Tim's game at the time. He decided a predator was in order. As the party was resting with the ponies tied to a tree, a pair of bulettes burrowed up and grabbed the ponies. They ripped them apart, and once their bellies were full, left again. (I don't know if the adventurers actually killed one.)

Bulette are a stereotypical monster. They are big, tough, and stupid. They are a complete mystery, rising from the depths to cause havoc and destruction, with no known reproduction or social habits. They exist to feed and to strike fear into adventurers hearts.




Monster Monday - Guest Post

A friend of mine wanted to add to the Monster Monday mayhem! So, today, for the first time, we have a guest post. The following is written by Ian McGarty.

Oh $&*# Run!

The rumble of galloping horses died down as the group slowed to a halt near a large tree standing alone on the flat grasslands. The group seemed perplexed though as some rumbling sound continued. A keen-eyed elf scanned the horizon, a robed wizard looked to the skies, a warrior and priest drew forth their weapons and shields, and a slight dark clothed figure dismounted and pressed a hand to the ground. At that moment, the ground collapsed in under the wizard’s horse and all of the mounts spooked at the scream of pain and terror from the horse being pulled under. A sickening crunch followed as the wizard scrambled out of the hole. The group ran towards the tree. The elf screamed as a 15’ long creature of armor, sinew, and muscle shot from the ground with a single push of its powerful clawed legs. A mouthful of razor sharp teeth claimed the elf who had little time to react. The warrior and cleric rushed forward and slashed and banged their weapons against a thick armored body of the torpedo like creature to no avail. The slight man threw a fusillade of daggers which bounced harmlessly against the creature which continued to crunch chew upon the elf.

Monster. The word evokes imagery of fantastical creatures for all of us who are enamored by fantasy games and role-playing. Its roots come from Middle English and Old French and the word monstre  meaning ‘to warn’. RPG’s have changed in focus from tricking, trapping, and avoiding monsters to a grind to assault and slay them all. This has in part been made possible by the changes which have occurred in more ‘rules heavy’ game systems like Pathfinder which has diminished the ferocity and deadly aspects of many monsters. Myself, I prefer the ‘OSR’ monsters that can kill in a single pass, with a single failed saving throw, and must be overcome with more wits than rolls.  It seems that these newer systems have lost that original meaning and warning about the monsters.
For example, let’s compare the creature described in the interlude above, the Bulette. In first edition, this creature had a nigh-impenetrable shell, unless you discovered its weak underbelly. The damage dealt by this creature was massive and could kill a player in a single swipe. Paizo’s bulette has lost its teeth and can be killed by a group of 3rd level characters! The danger of monsters has been watered down and this has made players less clever in my opinion. Danger breeds creativity.

So what are the effects of this change? In my opinion, it has caused players to become less creative and more reliant on a simple die roll to determine everything, from what plan they can enact and think of, to the swing of their swords. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. Some people crave a game with structure and tactics that have clear, intricate rules to describe any possible outcome. These people want to participate in a game that has a rigid and static order and procedure they can rely on. The resurgence of the OSR type games has also been excited by groups of players that want more than just a die roll to determine what their characters can figure out.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Statues

A poster on the Old School Gamers group on Facebook asked a simple question tonight:
Today's random word is statues. How have you used statues and golems in your campaign?

It sounded like a great topic for a blog post, as they really are one of my favorite tools in my gm's toolbox. Statue creatures are pretty common in FRPGs. Some common ones include: caryatid column, gargoyle, and living statue. But this isn't where they shine.

Statues are a tangible thing that links the past to the present. They are the physical representation of the dark god that cultists worship in the darkness. Statues are the effigy to heroes long past, and kings of yore. They are the divine's likeness in a town square. Yes, statues are many things.

Statues can play many roles in a FRPG game. They can be quest givers, like in Clash of the Titans. They can be quest enders: "destroy the statue of Orcus, and the undead will stop walking the night." Statues can be warnings. You know you've entered a medusa's lair when you see statues of heroes, all with surprised looks. Statues can even be rewards. Try giving the party a statue of them, in the hometown. Remind them of it when they walk by, and you will see many sly smiles.

My two favorite roles for statues are information and puzzles. Statues are born for these tasks. For example, when a GM wants to expound on the past of the campaign world, it is easy to add a Hall of Kings, with statues from every king, and their accomplishments listed on a plaque. A well known puzzle that could be used is the Eight Queens Chess Puzzle.

Here are 3 scenarios that I have or will use involving statues in Mord Mar:

  1. Minotaur Statue: The party comes across a statue of a minotaur on a pedestal. It is made of obsidian, and holds a double-bladed battle axe. As soon as a party member touches the statue, it comes to life and attacks the party member. If the party member dies, it returns to the pedestal, unmoving until another person touches it. If the party defeats it, the minotaur respawns in 24 hours, stronger, and hunts the person that touched the statue. The party must find a way to defeat it without destroying it. Examples may include: leaving it in a portable hole, locking it in a room that it cannot escape from, or appeasing it in some other way (with a GM's clues.)
  2. A statue stands in each corner of a room. They can be turned 360 degrees, but not moved. For the secret to be revealed, none of them can look at a wall or each other.
  3. Deep in a cavern below the old city, the party finds a statue of Auror Oaktooth (high god of Mord Mar). It is badly defaced, but still recognizable. If the party restores the statue, and surrounding room to temple quality, Auror will give a great boon to them. 
Statues are one of the most versatile tools available to a Game Master. Don't just look at them as monsters to overcome, terrain to battle around, or treasure to be traded for gold. They can be so much more.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Chronomega Kickstarter Launch

My buddies over at Vorpal Chainsword have launched their newest Kickstarter: Chronomega. I don't do a lot of Kickstarter recommendations, but the VC gang blew me away with their first release, Ravingspire. They did an amazing job, and released a unique product.

I've seen a bit of Chronomega in action. At GaryCon this year, the crew broke out the demo game, and it looked like a blast. Everybody wants to shoot their friends out of an airlock once in a while, right?

UPDATE: The Chronomega Kickstarter has been canceled.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Teleportation: an expanded view (warning: longer than normal)

"Ingress and egress are vital components of a megadungeon. As such, they must be well designed." -me on Facebook earlier today.

While writing my Mord Mar Monday post last night, I talked about teleportation in Mord Mar. I asked some friends on Facebook about the subject. I received some excellent responses. Here was my post:

"A question for the historians of Dungeons & Dragons: Did Gary gygax allow teleportation to be used in castle greyhawk? I dimly remember reading something about it a long time ago, but my google fu is weak.

Follow up question: Do those of you with your own Mega dungeons allow teleportation in them?"

Having my Facebook friends respond to my post was very enlightening. I found that Gary Gygax did in fact allow teleportation into and out of Greyhawk Castle. And, it seems most megadungeon creators do allow for teleportation to work within their creations. Undermountain colored my perception more than I had realized.

To recap, here's what I said was going to happen with the Mord Mar:

"My conclusion to the Teleport Dilemma is a randomization. As I was thinking about the teleport nodes that line the entrance corridor, I decided that Egg devised the system. He built it, but it is pervasive throughout Mord Mar. 50% of the time the teleport spell taps into the system, and dumps the people being teleported into the nearest teleport node (or activation point). 25% of the time, they teleport as intended (with the usual teleport chances of failure), and 25% of the time the spell simply fails."

In 1E AD&D, teleport has a casting time of 2 segments, with only a V component. So, it is quick and easy to cast. The weight limit may factor into successfully using the spell in combat. I just looked up the S&W version of teleport, and I'm a bit surprised. Here it is, from the newest printing of the Complete Rules:

Spell Level: Magic-User, 5th Level Range: Touch Duration: Instantaneous

This spell transports the caster or another person to a destination that the caster knows, or at least knows what it looks like from a picture or a map. Success depends on how well the caster knows the targeted location, as follows:

1. If the caster has only seen the location in a picture or through a map (so that knowledge is not based on direct experience), there is only a 25% chance of success, and failure means death, for the traveler’s soul is lost in the spaces between realities.

1. If the caster has seen but not studied the location, there is a 20% chance of error. In the case of an error, there is a 50% chance that the traveler arrives low, 1d10 x10 feet below the intended location (with death resulting from arrival within a solid substance). If the error is high (over the 50% chance for a “low” arrival), the traveler arrives 1d10 x10 feet above the targeted location – likely resulting in a deadly fall.

1. If the caster is well familiar with the location, or has studied it carefully, there is only a 5% chance of error. On a 1 in 6 the teleport is low, otherwise it is high. In either case, the arrival is 1d4 x10 feet high or low.


This version of the spell obviously does not provide enough advantage to warrant a problem. It is only a single person. It honestly seems a bit weak for a 5th level spell. Looking at Labyrinth Lord, it seems to be very similar to the S&W version. This may be why settings like Barrowmaze, Rappan Athuk and Castle of the Mad Archmage don't mention teleport.

Compare that to the Pathfinder version, which is HERE. PF ramps up the power level considerably for this spell. I would assume D&D 3.0/5 would be about the same.

HERE is the 5E version, for reference as well. Again, a very different spell than LL or S&W. Also considerably more powerful than 1E.

This brings me to the conclusion that the rules system for the game will have a large impact on the effectiveness of teleport. Mord Mar started as Pathfinder, which may be the root of my consternation.


"Mega's are all about navigation- at higher levels PCs have more options and should be able to use them. That said, high level GMing for Megas is about challenging resources - so I limit teleportation. In my newest Mega, the dungeon itself has MR you have to overcome"

Mister Z said that. I want to study it for a moment. The first sentence is why I have the Teleportation Dilemma. I agree that players and characters should have access to the things that they earn. It's beginning to look like I should re-revisit teleportation in Mord Mar.

Another friend of mine, JJ, said "With the additional possibility of spell failure? Why not?" This makes me think that I am on the right track.

For now, I think I'm modifying the original percentages: 25% to hit a node, 25% to hit a  rune, and 50% chance to work normally.

Monster Monday: What creature is this?

Today, I have decided to try an exercise with the audience. As the hobby has grown, most "staple" monsters are well known by players and game masters alike. If I say "walking into the massive cavern, you are surrounded by life-like statues. The medusa must be near." everyone (relatively speaking) knows exactly what a medusa is, and how to combat it. With that in mind, I have chosen a monster that is fairly common at mid-levels. If I mentioned its name, you would know immediately what you were facing and how to confront it. Instead, I am going to give a description, and see what the readers think it is.

The Setting:
The adventurers had been contracted by a city to look into the disappearance of some less influential citizens. Most were homeless, but one had been a lesser noble's son who had been on a drinking bender in the slums. The trail led the group to an old mansion at the top of a bluff. After finding some grisly remains in some closets and hidden rooms, the party has made their way to the basement.

Coming down the stairs, the party sees the following creature:

A dirty humanoid is there, with crazy hair. His fingers are elongated, with sharp claws at the fingertips. His clothes are ripped and threadbare. Through the openings in his shirt, you can see his skin, paper thin and pasty white. He stands there, smiling a visage of needle-like teeth. His dull eyes seem to have a malevolent red tinge, but do not reflect the light of your torches as a living being's would.

Can you tell me what kind of creature it is?

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Mord Mar Monday

This past week I have been spending more time on Mord Mar, and less time on blogs, and other gaming-related activities. I have had a couple of solid breakthroughs on design and writing.

First, I have been moving forward on writing the sequel to Goblins. Mord Mar: Denizens of the Citadel has 4000 words written. I have made it to a room that is overwhelming me. There's just too much to describe. I'm pushing through it, trying to find a way to write it that won't overwhelm the reader. Nine different objects need describing.  It is a challenge that I will overcome. In the next couple of days, I will find a format that works.

The flip side of that overwhelming room is the adventure is outlined, and will move quickly once the room is done. I love the different challenges that are going to be presented. Combat, puzzles, and exploration will really be at the forefront in Denizens of the Citadel. I'm excited about the history and setting that is becoming organic to the module.

On a different note, I think I have finally found a solution to the Teleportation Dilemma. This problem has been nagging at me for years. For those of you that don't know what the Teleportation Dilemma is, allow me to explain. Teleportation can screw up a mega dungeon. The ability to come and go at will removes a large portion of danger. It allows the quick transportation of loot. Teleportation can allow access to areas that the GM has not fully prepared.

With all of this, most mega dungeon creators limit or remove the use of teleport. Look at Undermountain as a great example. Here's a quote from The Ruins of Undermountain Campaign Guide to Undermountain, page 16: "Old, but still potent, protective magics placed by Halaster prevent many forms of teleportation and similar spells - word of recall, dimension door, succor, and even passwall from functioning within (and into or out of) Undermountain. No magical methods of escape are possible unless such magics don’t touch or pass through any stone walls, doors, floors or ceilings."

Removing such a powerful spell from the party has caused many of my players consternation. In some games they have had to find the spell, in others they chose it as a spell when leveling. Either way, they hated not having it available. They felt punished, simply because of the setting that we were using.

My conclusion to the Teleport Dilemma is a randomization. As I was thinking about the teleport nodes that line the entrance corridor, I decided that Egg devised the system. He built it, but it is pervasive throughout Mord Mar. 50% of the time the teleport spell taps into the system, and dumps the people being teleported into the nearest teleport node (or activation point). 25% of the time, they teleport as intended (with the usual teleport chances of failure), and 25% of the time the spell simply fails.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Monster Monday

Well, it's Monday morning here again. Time for my soon-to-be weekly blog about monsters! Last week, I looked at monster books that I love. This week, I'm giving the community a sneak peak at some Mord Mar stuff! These monsters were originally made for Pathfinder, but as we use Swords & Wizardry now, they have been translated.

FLAMESPIT LIZARD
Hit Dice: 5
Armor Class: 2 [17]
Attacks: 2 Claw (1d4), Bite 1d8 + 1d6  (fire)
Save: 12
Special: Napalm Spit
Move: 18
Alignment: Neutral
Number Encountered: 1d6
Challenge/XP: 7/700

Flamespit lizards are passive creatures, unless they sense their primary food: oil. When flamespit lizards sense oil with 60' they will investigate, curiously and non-aggressively. They will paw and bite at any container that has oil in it. If any creature attempts to move the oil away from a flamespit lizard, they immediately attack with their napalm spit.

Napalm spit: Flamespit lizards can use this attack twice per day. They shake their head back and forth before expelling a sticky glob of flaming ichor at their target. If it hits, the target takes 3d6 damage the 1st round, unless wearing armor. If the target is wearing armor, it must save or be destroyed by the acidic fire. On the second round, the target takes 2d6 damage (regardless of the previous round's results) and if the armor was not destroyed, it must save again. On the third round, the target takes 1d6 damage, but the armor is no longer in danger.

The Hot Spring
While exploring a cave, the party comes across a warm spring. Lazing about the spring are 4 lizards, all about 6 feet long. The lizards' bright crimson and green scales reflect the torch and lantern light as polished stones. As the group's porter enters the spring cavern, the lizards lift their snouts into the air, and begin walking lazily toward the hireling carrying the lamp and oil. . .

The Flamespit Lizard was originally created by Dustin Edwards for use in a Mord Mar scenario. They will be appearing in the upcoming Mord Mar book entitled Stonemire.

Orc-wraith
Hit Dice: 5
Armor Class: 2 [17]
Attacks: 1 claw (1d6 damage + 1d6 wisdom drain)
Save: 12
Special:  Rage Aura 30' (Save or attack nearest creature), Create Spawn, immune to non-magical or non-silver weapons
Move: 9/24 (flying)
Alignment: Chaotic
Number Encountered: 1d4
Challenge/XP; 8/800

Orc-wraiths are a terrible, rare undead creature. They only form when one of two things happen: An orcwraith kills a person with orcish blood, or when a wraith kills a person of orcish blood and dies before the orc's wraith-form can rise. Orc-wraiths hate all life, and will attack until the life-force is destroyed, or the orc-wraith is.
Whenever an orc-wraith hits an opponent, their willpower lessens. They begin to give over to baser instincts and lose the ability to reason (-1d6 wisdom with each hit). Any who lose all their reasoning and willpower die. This willpower can only be regained through magical means.
Orc-wraiths rage is infectious. Their hatred of life is so great, that all who near one must make a save, or attack the nearest living creature for 1d6 rounds. All orcs or half-orcs that die at the hands of an orc-wraith will rise as one upon the next full moon. Orc-wraiths ignore all attacks from non-magical and non-silver weapons.

The Dead Room
The lord of the land has tasked the adventurers to find the Wand of Archian. Archian was entombed in a low hill, about 2 days walk from the nearest village. When the group arrives, they find that a group of orcs had broken down the door, and fought a horror inside. Although there is no sign of the original horror, the three desiccated orc bodies prove there was a struggle. The grim shadow visage of one of these orcs floats through a wall, and all hell breaks loose. The lead fighter turns to strike the cleric, and the thief yells "run." This warning may have come too late.

The Orc-wraith was devised by me (Jayson "Rocky" Gardner) for use in Mord Mar. I expect them to show up in a module sometime in the future. But, the Cultworks is still a long way off.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Upcoming projects

As many of my regular blog readers know, publishing Mord Mar has been a dream of mine for 5 years or so. Thanks to a push by Swords and Wizardry day, I now have the tools available to do this. InDesign is an amazing program that will take me forever to learn. But, I learn best while doing. After getting Goblins of the Citadel out, I have begun working on the first actual sourcebook for Mord Mar. It's going to be called Stonemire. I hope to have it done before the end of the year, and am expecting about 128 pages.

When I revised Mord Mar: Goblins of the Citadel, I intentionally re-wrote a couple of blocked off areas into it. There will be a sequel coming, where the stone slab above Mucksnort's throne room is moved, and the PCs and GMs can begin to see the true scope of the citadel. This should be out in a couple of months. A few of the lingering questions from part one should be answered: where did the Goblin Mirror come from? Who put it there? Part 2 will answer these questions. But, I plan on a 4-part series, so there may be more questions than answers when its done . . .

Ian (my partner) and I think we have hit on something for the Swords and Wizardry Light community with my weather chart. We are brainstorming several more charts, and intend to make a 25-50 chart book for S&WL. They will be compatible with any fantasy role-playing game. We have another ten or so ideas that we just need to sit down and write. I hope to push this one out right around NTRPGcon.

Ian has submitted a one-page adventure for S&WL to Tenkar, Mike and Zach. It will probably show up soon in either a print, or PWYW PDF format. . .


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Monday, April 24, 2017

Monster Monday

Everybody who plays RPGs knows of Dungeons and Dragons. Most people who don't play RPGs in the Western World know of Dungeons and Dragons. Those of us who do play, know that monsters are integral to the game. That's why Dragons is in the title. Today I'm going to look at 5 "entry level" monster books for some of the games I have played over the years.

Image from paizo

5. Pathfinder Bestiary (Paizo, 2009): Paizo may have saved our hobby from the 4e massacre. They picked up the 3.X mantle and gave the players something worth playing. Paizo put a great monster book together here, with amazing art, and a sturdy frame. I did enjoy Pathfinder for several years, but now I prefer less "crunchy" games.



4. AD&D 2e Monstrous Compendium (TSR, 1989): I loved this book. Right up until I bought my 4th or 5th Volume. I loved that I could arrange the monsters in my notebook next to the encounter descriptions. I loved being able to keep hundreds of monsters in a single binder. Then the holes started ripping. The printers couldn't line up the pages from volume to volume. I spent way too much time putting them back in order when I was done. It will always have a place in my 14 year old heart, and on my shelf.

Image from Troll Lord Games

3. Castles and Crusades Monsters & Treasure (Troll Lord Games, 2004?): I love C&C. It's probably my favorite game behind Swords and Wizardry. I rank this book because I only need it for, well, monsters and treasure. C&C doesn't suffer from too much crunch. And Troll Lord seems to always be running a sale. 

Image from Drive Thru RPG

2. Swords and Wizardry Monstrosities (Frog God Games, 2013?): As much as I love S&W, that's not why this book makes #2. What makes this book head and shoulders above the modern competition is that every monster has an example set up. At the very least, this makes it entertaining to read. And, more often than not, I want to find a way to included the described encounters into my game. To top it off, it is a Frog God production, so the book will probably outlive the campaign it is used in.

Image from Tome of Treasures

1. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977): There's not much to say about this book that you don't already know. We all love it. A book with the same name has appeared in 4 of the 5 D&D editions (sorry 2e). This book has stoked imagination in one form or another for 2 full generations. Its longevity and iconic nature make it a must have, in at least one edition. 

A quick note: I wouldn't trust those prices at Tome of Treasures. They seem a bit out of date.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Swords and Wizardry Day: Bonus Post!

For you S&WL players, you really didn't think I would forget you, right? Here's a weather generation table, just for you. (Not really. It can be used in pretty much any RPG.)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/kyvuzgpnuc8o1yi/Weather%20Table.pdf?dl=0

There's the Dropbox link. I'm probably going to send this one over to Tenkar's Tavern to try and get it put in Torchlight. So probably no Drivethru or RPGNOW.

Roll some dice, and slay some monsters!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Swords & Wizardry Day!


Swords and Wizardry Appreciation Day is here! My contribution is an old module that I ran at Gen Con in 2014. It's been slightly re-worked, edited and re-formatted from PF to S&W. It was a straight forward module at GC, and still pretty much is.

Here's the link:
(removed. Now on RPGNow, see below)

If that doesn't work for you, I plan on having it up on DrivethruRPG and RPGNow before the end of the weekend.

Here's the new link:
http://www.rpgnow.com/product/210351/Mord-Mar-Goblins-of-the-Citadel

Roll some dice, and slay some monsters!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

My 5 most important GM resource books

There are a lot of books that GMs can use to make their game better. Tonight I am going to highlight five of my favorites, and give a couple of honorable mentions. My game is a megadungeon, so that may influence this list. Here it is, with a few words on each:

5. The Name Book, by Dorothy Astoria (1992, 1997). It's simply a list of 10,000 names in alphabetical order. When I need a name, there is always one close at hand with this book. Pretty much any name book will do. Nothing is worse than Barkeep #12, so avoid that with a book you can find at a flea market or garage sale for less than a dollar.

4. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide (1st Edition), by E. Gary Gygax (at least 18 printings from 1979-1987?). The granddaddy tool book, this volume is quintessential to running any good game. Sure the rules are not well edited, and you have to hunt for similar things in different places. But, Appendix A is worth the confusion. You can literally create a dungeon by rolling dice with Appendix A. Appendix N is a list of "inspirational and educational reading" that can get any GM's creative juices flowing. You can find it for as little as $10 on Ebay, and probably cheaper at used bookstores, comic shops or conventions.

3. Bill Webb's Book of Dirty Tricks, by Bill Webb (Frog God Games) is a great resource for when the player-characters get out of control. He expertly explains how to bleed gold, resources, time, or anything else they might stack up too much of. And he makes sure the players still have fun! The PDF can be bought for $5 at the link to Frog God Games.

2. How to Write Adventure Modules That Don't Suck, by Goodman Games (2017 - It may not be available at retail yet) This book contains advice from a lot of great designers: Jim Ward, Christopher Clark, Skip Williams and Brendan LaSalle to name a few. They cover a huge range of topics, from context to description. It's going to be $30 when you can get it. It is worth it.

1. Tome of Adventure Design, by Matthew J. Finch (2009, 2016), again published by Frog God . This book literally walks you through creating adventures. It has charts upon charts (and what self-respecting GM doesn't love charts?) with everything from location names, to types of clues, and
special effects for teleportation devices. It is basically the 1E DMG on steroids. It's going to set you back $21 on PDF or double that for print. Every time I am working on a dungeon, I pull out this book.

I'm not going to go into detail with my special mentions, but I think they are noteworthy. Someday, they may even get their own post. Here's 3 more books to be on the look out for:

Special Mention #1: Storyteller's Thesaurus by James Ward and Anne K. Brown
Special Mention #2: The Dungeon Alphabet by Michael Curtis
Special Mention #3: The Random Esoteric Creature Generator by James Raggi

Hunt them down. You will be glad to have them all in your collection.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What makes a dungeon "Mega"

My list of megadungeons post yesterday was the best read in my blog, ever. Thanks all 500+ of you that looked at it! A few people commented on my Facebook posts about what makes a megadungeon well, mega. I think it is an important question. One I plan on delving into right now.
BadMike said "There are a few sites online that describe what a megadungein is. Some characteristics are: you cannot reasonably map the entire thing; there are areas controlled by different factions; there is a backstory to the dungeon that goes back a very long time; etc"
Another poster (named Kreeping Deth) on Facebook said: "Large enough and with enough treasure, interesting places, monsters and factions to support multiple parties of different levels exploring all the time. There's no "winning it," because "cleared" areas always repopulate with new inhabitants. No matter how far you go, there's always more. This dungeon can serve as the basis for an entire campaign for dozens of players that can span years and years. Some people like elaborate backstories for them, but that's less important to me because I think that ultimately limits the scope and constrains creativity. It's OK for the origins of its creation and development to remain a mystery.

- chainsaw "
These are both viable answers.

A couple of bloggers that I read have attempted to answer this question as well (links to their discussions):
Dungeon Fantastic
The Angry GM

With that background, on to MY criteria:
1. It can never be fully explored or mapped. PCs should know that they haven't found everything. There is always a mystery of "I wonder what we missed." Undermountain was particularly famous for this. Castle Greyhawk and El Raja Key would literally move walls around to make this true.

2. A megadungeon must have a theme. Castle Triskelion is about a crazy family's home. Castle of the Mad Archmage (and Castle Greyhawk) is about a crazy wizard. These themes don't show up in every room, but they do show up over and over and over.

3. A megadungeon must have lots of entrances and exits. Without this, it is just too hard to move quickly to new areas. Rappan Athuk is a great example of how these portals can facilitate multiple levels of characters delving the same dungeon.

4. Many areas controlled by many factions is another reasonable criterion. Orcs, goblins and gnolls should be holed up in the megadungeon and willing to negotiate to eradicate the other factions. Without factions, a megadungeon is just hack and slash. That gets boring quickly. Felltower (see Dungeon Fantastic blog above) does a great job with this.

5. There need to be goals in a megadungeon. Often, the GM or the players of a campaign will set these. They can be McGuffin quests, search and rescue, get a particular map or any number of tropes. Just sending players in because its there is not good enough for a long term campaign.

I think this is wordy enough for now. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment if I am wrong, or am missing something.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Megadungeon List

Most of my megadungeon collection
So, I've been looking for a comprehensive megadungeon list for a while, and can't seem to find one that covers them all. This will be an effort to do that. Anything I am missing, please let me know.

THE MYTHS
Castle Blackmoor
Castle Greyhawk + El Raja Key
Underworld of Jakalla

THE TRUTH
ASE - Anomoulus Subsurface Environment
Armaron Castle
Barrowmaze
Castle Gargantua
Castle of the Mad Archmage
Castle Triskelion
Castle Whiterock
Castle Zagyg
The Darkness Beneath
Dark Tower
Depths of Felk Mor
Doomvault (from Dead in Thay)
Dragon's Delve
Dwimmermount
The Emerald Spire
Eyes of the Stone Thief
Felltower
Foolsgrave
The Grande Temple of Jing
Hobby Shop Dungeon
Kihago
Maure Castle
The Maze of the Blue Medusa
Mines of Khumar
Mythrus Tower
Rappan Athuk
Roslof Keep
Ruins of Castle Greyhawk
Ruins of Kwalishar
The Slumbering Tsar
Stonehell
Undermountain
World's Largest Dungeon

THE CONTENDERS
Caverns of Thracia
The Lost City (module B4) - I finally own this. I need to read it to see if it moves "up."
Palace of the Vampire Queen
Temple of Elemental Evil
Tegel Manor
Tomb of Abysthor

INSPIRATIONS
Skull Mountain (Holmes Boxed Set)

PENDING
Dyson's Delve
My Own Private Jakalla

I know there are others out there. There's one that I read about once called Demonsgate or Demonsmouth or Demonshell or something.


Blogs used in this research:
http://castletriskelion.blogspot.com/
http://quasarknight.blogspot.com/2016/03/a-comprehensive-list-of-megadungeons.html
http://dmdavid.com/tag/megadungeons-in-print-and-on-the-web/
http://dungeonfantastic.blogspot.com/p/megadungeon-design.html

Monday, April 10, 2017

Swords and Wizardry Light

So, the awesome frogs, er people, at Frog God Games (and Erik Tenkar) have created a system called Swords & Wizardry Light. It's a whole game in 4 pages. Seriously, check it out HERE. It's free gaming goodness.

S&WL is getting tons of support too. Tenkar's Tavern is planning a 'zine. I even threw a 1 page adventure toward it. Frog God is working on Tome of Horrors for Light. They are even making Character Cards. Some guy named Mike down in Texas has even started a Society, called Swords & Wizardry Legion.

If you are looking for an streamlined, fun, game with easy to learn rules, check out S&WL. Bring a couple of old friends back to the table with it.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Gary Con Pt 2

Well, it looks like I may get two blogs done in one week! Go me!

Saturday morning we headed to the Gary Con Open finals. We played cautious and moved forward, with purpose. We made it to the final big bad, and killed him! (Still no spoilers). Jon was once again a hoot, and we were missing our Druid from the day before. We handled it, and had a blast in the process.

After the GCO, we ran into my friend Cory, and checked out his group's game Chronomega. It's interesting, but still needs some tweaks to the rules. The board looks beautiful, though. It uses the same mechanic as Ravingspire (3 spinning wheels that change the board). This one takes place on a space station. As we only watched for 20 minutes or so, I can't really tell you the goal. I expect another really fun game from the Madison Crew. Looking at the game, I would expect a Kickstarter in Q3 or Q4.

My last game was another of Bill Webb's Mythus Tower environs. Again, I don't want to spoil it for you if you get the joy of playing. But, there is now a halfling immune to fear running around Mythus Tower, Seriously, that guy was a boss. He took it straight to the boss monster with no hope of winning and crushed the odds! If you read this, shout out, so we can get together on another game with Bill at Gamehole or GaryCon next year. Again, Splat walked away with no magical loot. But he is level 5(?) now!

We did win the GaryCon Open. By about 100 points. Here's my cousin-nephew-son highlighting our win.


Gary Con and other stuff

It's been a really long time since I have had the chance to update the blog. A new business will do that to you. That said, I hope to get back into a decent blog schedule. On to the Gary Con report.

We left on Wednesday for GaryCon, Nathaniel (my cousin-nephew-son) and Jake were with me. We let the recently-turned-eighteen Nathaniel drive the first 2 hours of our journey, to the Michigan-Indiana border. From there, I took over. It was a good thing, too, because Chicago was Chicago. Stop and go traffic all the way to O'hare. Here we grabbed my good friend Ian. After he climbed aboard the trip was pretty smooth.
We arrived in Lake Geneva, dropped luggage, and headed to Frank Mentzer's party. Not much to note there. We looked at some artifacts of our gaming heritage, and had a good meal. Then headed back to the hotel. We headed to the bar and began our hellos with old friends. Zach Glazar, Bill Webb, The Barkeeper, Bad Mike and others showed up throughout the night. Honestly the first couple of nights became a haze. Too much alcohol and too little sleep and food.

Thursday morning rolled around, and Ian and I headed to our game: In Search of the Unknown: A DCC Character funnel. This game was a blast. Chris Lauricella made a great game. We found Blackrazor (from White Plume Mountain), which killed a lot of people. We found several other artifacts that had less impact on the game. I know he said Strahd's Cloak, a Staff of Power and other things were available. The other artifact that had significant impact was Acerack's Skull, which we used to make a momentous end to the game. In my infinite wisdom, I sat in a chair that summoned a demon. A fellow party member threw the skull at the demon, causing the entire dungeon complex to implode on itself. The adventurers who survived were rich beyond measure though, as we had filled wagons with loot and left it outside for our inevitable triumph!

Next up was Jim Ward's Metamorphosis Alpha game. It was a lot of fun. Jim, of course, had TPK'd the group before it was done. He was nice enough to sign my How To Write Adventure Modules That Don't Suck before the end of the day. I also ran down and grabbed a copy of Epsilon City to have him autograph as well.

Then we headed to dinner with the Frog Gods. Bill, Zach, Skeeter, Mike and Erik were there, and our buddy Jim had shown up in time to eat too. The steakhouse at Grand Geneva Resort is really good. We were all well sated and most of us well sloshed! We took a bit longer than expected and were about 20 minutes late for Scooby-Doo vs Cthulhu. Our buddy Chad "Danger" had no problem filling our seats.

Friday morning was an exercise in mind over matter. The hangover was palpable. But, with a good nudging from Ian, I was able to get moving. Ian, Nathaniel and myself headed to the Gary Con Open. We were pleasantly surprised to be in the same group as a couple of last year's winners. I'm not going to spoil the module for you, as it can be purchased from GARY CON when they get the bazaar up and running again. Jon Johnson was our GM, and he does a great job. Thanks to a well timed Limited Wish, we advanced to the finals. More about that on Saturday Morning.

Next on my schedule was the 1974 Gen Con demo of Castle Greyhawk. It was supposed to be played at Horticultural Hall, but was moved to Gary's old house on Center Street at the last minute. Paul Stormberg, of THE COLLECTOR'S TROVE ran this event. It was a great deal of fun, with moving floors, a rug beater room, a wrapping room and other oddities of Castle Greyhawk.
This adventure was written by Rob Kuntz, and was a great deal of fun to play. This was the second time I have adventured into Castle Greyhawk on original maps. The other time was what brought me to Gary Con in the first place. Both were in Gary's house. I may be the luckiest fan RPG'er on the planet. I'm willing to share stories, but you need to ask.

At 8 pm, the whole group of us showed up for the Head Frog's Mythus Tower game. Bill Webb is just a pleasure to watch GMing. He skillfully has 20+ people playing through a dungeon. Splat, my fighter, was able to procure a Rod of Resurrection from another character at the end of the night. Bill's games are episodic, and have reoccurring characters that gain levels. The new guys (Nathaniel, Jacob, and Jim) all hit level 2. Ian hit level 4, but I didn't gain a level. Stupid fighters needing lots of XP. Bill has a stable of about 10 re-usable adventures that he runs at cons, so I don't want to give anything away. All I can say is "control the light." This ran until about 1 am.

I'm going to continue Saturday's adventures tomorrow. Hopefully it will push me to get more regular at blogging.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

An update

Happy New Year! I know that was like a month ago, but life happens. Here it is a new year, and I have quite a few updates. First, the central topic of the blog: Mord Mar.

We have moved the campaign outside of the dungeon. I built a small town called "Swampsedge." Everyone in the group mistook the name for "Swamp's Edge" so I changed it to "Stonemire." (If you have an opinion on the name mention it in the comments.) We restarted in a grittier fashion, with the players only having a couple of coppers and a makeshift weapon each (these included a frying pan and a butcher's knife.) We have played 4 sessions of this reboot, the highlights as follows:

The party finds an eyeless zombie stumbling through the swamp. It doesn't act aggressive, just stumbling Eastward. They follow it for a while, finding a huge hole in the ground about 30' deep with corridors leading from it, There were several more zombies in the hole. They explore a bit, fight a couple of goblins, then report their findings to the burgomeister. He brands the PCs as heretics responsible for the zombie and exiles them to prove their innocence. They are each given one item form the town (weapon or armor) and head out to prove their innocence.

The party heads back to the hole and begin exploring. They find a magic book that when it is "read" shows the reader what all the eyes from the eye-less zombies see. This generally blinds the reader for a while. They continue exploring, and are beaten by some kind of 'man-slugs' and bound.

They awaken later to find themselves in a jail cell in a goblin city! They assume they are going to be sacrificed to the book they found. After some time the goblins are attacked by lizard-men (who are also after the book.) The PCs take the opportunity and escape, killing goblin women and children on the way. They also recovered the book before leaving.

The PCs head back to Stonemire with the book. Talking to the burgermeister, the PCs realize that this book is actually an ancient artifact and needs to be destroyed or contained. As fate would have it, Brother Maxfield a Paladin of the Mountain, is visiting, and offers to take the book while the PCs gather the necessary materials to destroy the Occularis Librium. They are told they need 150 PP, Fire That Does Not Consume, and Ice That Does Not Melt.

The PCs decide to find platinum first, and hire on as caravan guard. The caravan is heading East (away from Mord Mar) to the city of Beltol. Along the way the caravan is attacked by a few ogres, which are beaten, but kill a few (NPC) guards first. The caravan places the bodies in storage under the wagons so they can be returned to the families.

The first night in Beltol, the corpses break out of the storage containers and attack the PCs. They are covered in vines, and it is determined they were re-animated by a disease. At least 1 PC has contracted this disease.

After this, they part company with the caravan and head toward Mord Mar. Here they find that the city is attacked by a red dragon (slaying Paladin Maxfield and leaving the whereabouts of Occularis Librium in question), and drow have marched in. (This event happened in a previous part of the campaign with different PCs, who slew the dragon.) The drow have come because the Occularis Librium is active, and they fear it as well. The PCs get embroiled with the politics of the drow and are invited to a banquet by King Johan Greybeard honoring the drow.

Drow, being drow, are insulted at the smallest thing. In this case, a dagger that the PCs had found on their journeys had been used to slay a famous drow warrior (and a dwarven king.) The presence of this weapon throws the drow into a rage, suddenly leaving the banquet saying "Johan, this means war." This is where we have ended. We will see where it goes from here.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The other side of the Gamehole

Gamehole Con was this past weekend in Madison, WI. I was convinced by my friend Chad Delp (His Blog). I'm glad I listened. Another friend, Cory, was gracious enough to open his house to me. (Here's his blog)  We had an absolute blast at Gamehole Con!
Cory and Chad in all their Gamehole Glory. Ian, we didn't miss you at all!


Thursday night, I drove in and got lost in Madison, after dealing with construction traffic through Chicago. After taking a tour of downtown, and the student area of the city, I decided to actually go looking for the house. Turned out I was 5 minutes away. After the pleasantries, we settled in and watched some Daredevil and some movie trailers. Everybody retired for the night soon after.

We headed to Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall about 7:30 am on Friday. Chad and Cory both had their badges and event tickets, so I headed off to get in line to get mine. After looking at a 100 person line, we (some people in line) realized there should be two lines. Which meant I was there about 3 minutes! Gamehole organizers, please note, VIG attendees would like our own line for these things.

I had some time to kill before my 1st game, so I headed to listen to Jeff Martin's True Dungeon Seminar. I heard a lot of things in this one that I had not heard before. But, those are not my secrets to kill.

My first game, at 10 am (of 3 for the weekend) was Dark Outpost, with James Ward. And wouldn't you know that I forgot my Deities and  Demigods to have signed by him. It's always interesting contrasting the old-school guys to the new school guys. This game was a lot of fun, and his favorite line seemed to be "what do you want to do." I made it almost to the end, and was killed by . . . something. When I still had 29 HPs, 31 Shield Points, and 10 Armor Points left. Those old guys do love killing adventurers!

My next game was with Bill Webb at 8 pm. This left me a lot of time to shop the dealer hall (no Castle Xagyg to be found, and no 6th Edition OD&D empty box either.) But, I did run into Bill Webb, and talked extensively about the Silver Bulettes, the state of the industry, and several other interesting topics. He also gave me a hell of a deal on a butt-load of books.

Other notables that I got to see for a little while included: Zach Glazer (of Lesser Gnome fame), Frank Mentzer, Tim Kask, Luke Gygax, Ernie Gygax and Brendan LeSalle (X-Crawl if you didn't know.)

Finally, the time came for the 8 pm game! Mr. Bill Webb himself, running Swords and Wizardry! Even though he forgot his minis, this game was AH-MAZE-ING! It had 21 players at the beginning, and 7 of us first level characters survived and defeated a lich! We had destroyed one phylacrety when we woke her. We scattered like the mice we were and got lucky that our stalwart Paladin was able to hold her off for 10 rounds or so! This bought us the time to destroy the other phylacreties and find a sword that would hurt her. Half-toe the Halfling "proquierer" walked out level 2!

After the game, I spent more time socializing with Bill, Frank, and Mike (I think, a head-honcho of NTRPG con.) I got to hear a great story about Frank's early days of gaming: he was playing a werewolf and raiding a farm with some other monsters. They left him to get the baby, who was in his high chair. Well, the baby won initiative and stabbed Frank's werewolf in the eye with a silver spoon. That may be the only time I have ever heard of a baby killing a werewolf.

Saturday, I had the whole day to myself. Cory and Chad said I had to go with them to the Original House of Pancakes. The bacon there is to die for! The pancakes were pretty good too. If you're in Madison and have the time, I suggest it for breakfast.

I spent the day on Saturday wandering around the con, listening to stories and talking to interesting people. I only had one game at 8 pm, with Dungeon Bastard himself. And what a game it was!

We were each given 25000 gp, as seen here:
These were used to bid on things, similar to Cutthroat Kitchen. 1st was character creation. I ended up spending 6k on Gandalf, and giving a competitor a whale. The 1st challenge was a combat, where I got to cast spells with Scrabble tiles. I would roll 2d10, and have that many tiles available to make spells out of. The first spell was "Crawls," which made all of the ghouls we were facing crawl on the ground. My second spell was "Talent," which made a ghoul begin dancing on the deck. This was great fun. Here's a couple of pics from the event that Cory took for me:


At the conclusion of the combat, I did not get immunity, and then rolled a 1 on a d20 and a 1 on my bonus d6 from the gracious judge, Jen Page. So, my night with the Dungeon Bastard was over quickly. That last pic was the final monster, the Beholdasaurus Rex. Check out Chad's blog for the subsequent rounds of this game.

Shortly after, I packed up and headed home, to guarantee the wife lets me go again next year ;)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

It's been a while

It's been a long crazy summer, but cooler weather is here again. Hopefully, that means a more regular posting schedule. Work on Mord Mar has been moving . . . sideways.
I've decided that the city being inside the dungeon just doesn't work. So, I have moved the home base to a swamp. The walk is about 8 hours to Mord Mar.
Swampsedge is an outpost of dwarves that fled from Mord Mar. Over time they have evolved. I'm working on a new template for 'swamp dwarves.' We will see how this pans out.

Oh, and a new "Halloween adventure" is 1/2-2/3 written for the group!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Day 9 (On Day 14): Favorite PC I would like to play


Hmmmm. I'm not really sure that I have a PC that I would like to play. I guess, if I did have one, it would have to be Tanis Half-Elven. He is my favorite character in any of the D&D books. But, I don't think it is as much fun to relive stories I have read as it is to write new ones.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Day 8: A bit late, but a favorite PC of my own

So, I have been a little off track. I'm hoping to catch up in a flurry of blogs. So here is day 8. A favorite PC of my very own.

I have a couple of great characters right now. But, the one I am going to write about today is Thomas "Rock Solid" Trampier. AKA Thrust. He's my X-Crawl character. When I was at GaryCon this year, I had Terry Pavlet draw him for me (the image is at the bottom of the page).

X-Crawl starts characters at 3rd level, so Thrust already had a bit of history. He's 23 and a zookeeper by day, and an X-Crawler at night. He and his sister, Lilith (AKA Lust) were on teams in both high school and college (Division V and Division IV respectively).

Thrust hails from Seattle, Oregon, as does the majority of his current team. They have competed in a few Crawls (live pay-per-view death sport in a world with technology from the 80's coupled with magic), notably: Memphis Crawl (where he lost his left eye), the Celebrity Invitational (where his ear was grazed by a goblin shooting a gun at him) and currently 3 Rivers Crawl.

Thrust was once a gung-ho, ready to take on the world man. Losing his eye to an orc barbarian (and a woman at that! The shame!), and almost having his head blown off by a .357 have curbed that enthusiasm.

Now-a-days, Thrust is a bit more pragmatic. Until the rage fills him. When his sister is threatened or when a teammate is seriously injured, he loses it. (He's a 1st level Barbarian and 4th level Brawler.)

He is a lot of fun to play. There are a lot of tactical options, and he is a blast to RP too.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Day 7: Favorite Edition

Favorite Edition is a tough one. I currently play Pathfinder. But, my favorite edition is 1st.

5th edition I have not played enough of yet. I do like Advantage/Disadvantage enough that I put it into my PF games now.
4th edition I did not play at all.
Pathfinder is what I currently play, like I said. But I hate the super-heroness of it. I hate that there are too many rules and characters types. At least they fixed the power issues of 3.X
3.X this was the best system that dungeons and dragons had. Then they ruined it with 100s of books.
2nd edition may have actually been better than 1st, with the add of skills. But I can't get over Gary's game being stolen from him.
1st edition is the game for me. I love the simplicity of it. "Here's what I want to do." No feats. No skill checks. Just some dice, paper, and imagination to fuel adventures.
0D&D I own all the books, but refuse to use them in a game.

Day 6: Favorite Diety

I'm a couple of days late on day 6. Told you it was going to happen.

Anyway, this is kind of an odd question, compared to the others so far on the list. Everything else so far has either been personal (how started, favorite dice) or universal (Race, Class, Game World). Deities in RPGs don't apply to everyone. Not playing a cleric or paladin? Who actually chooses a deity then?

My favorite RPG deity is St Cuthbert. My most recent religious character, a half-orc paladin followed him. He was around for most of my early RP days.
And he doesn't live in the Realms.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Day 5: Favorite die or dice

This is going to be short:

My favorite die is a 6 sided alien die I won from a buddy, Eric. We have a tradition of making bets. We bet dice. I won that one in a game of Magic.

My favorite dice are d10s. Simple math is good.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Day 4: Favorite Game World

Finally, something interesting to talk about! Obviously my favorite game world is Mord Mar. I've really enjoyed building it so far. It hasn't been without its challenges though. Most are chronicled here. Instead of rehashing those, here are some of my favorite things that I am working on now.

1. The Demons. All of them. Belle is my favorite (a CG Succubus that works for Var Nae easing people into the next life.)

2. The expansiveness of the setting. For a finite system (a megadungeon), there are any number of places that can and should be fleshed out. The group is currently going through a noble's manor.

3.Bear Jarl. The golden dragon is awesome. And fun to RP.


My favorite published setting?
Greyhawk.

It started it all. It has the original megadungeon. It is also 'dead.' It didn't bloat into 3 quadrillion books. Each DM had the ability to make part of the world his own.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Day 3: Favorite Class

My favorite PC Class . . .

I play mostly Pathfinder these days, so here's my top 5:

5: Ranger- My True Dungeon class.
4: Paladin- Probably the overall most powerful class in 3.x systems.
3: Brawler- Shoutout to X-Crawl, yo!
2. Rogue- The versatility of this class is unmatched (well, except for the way OP Factotum). Use Magic Device is the best skill ever. Backstab allows the Rogue to be a front line fighter.
1. Wizard- Spells. Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Disintegrate, and Read Magic.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Day 2: My Favorite PC Race

I've been thinking about this all day. What is my favorite PC race, and why?

It really depends, is the only answer I came up with. Here's the rundown:

Pathfinder/D&D 3.X:Humans. The +2 to a stat and +1 Skill point per level make them the most versatile in my opinion.

AD&D 2nd: Half-Elves. I'm pretty sure this was a lingering fascination with Tanis Half-Elven.

Basic/AD&D: Elves. We never used level limits, so Elves had a distinct advantage.

Vampire: Gangrel. I just always loved the loner archtype.

Overall, I gravitate toward whatever is most powerful in a game. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

How I fared for Gen Con



That's my finalized list. All of those are bought and purchased. Here's a readable list:

WEDNESDAY
True Dungeon Golden Ticket 5:00-8:30 pm
St Elmo's Director Room Dinner 9:00 pm

THURSDAY
Dealer Hall Early Access 9:00 am
True Dungeon Sable Gauntlet (combat) 4:00-6:00 pm
True Dungeon Chase into the Underdark (combat) 7:15-9:15 pm

FRIDAY
Magic: The Gathering Chaos Draft 3:00-7:00 pm
Escape the Room: Supervillain Hideout 10:00-11:00 pm

SATURDAY
X-Crawl Tournament 9:00 am-1:00 pm

30 day challenge: Day 1

So, I ran across this today, and since it is June 1, it seemed a good idea to try. I may not succeed with real life (you know, 3 little boys, 2 dogs, a cat, a wife, 2 jobs), but I intend to try.

How did I get started with RPGs?

It is really a mystery lost in the sands of time. It was around 1984, and Marvel Super Heroes and D&D Basic were floating around in Michigan. I lived in Florida. I came to visit my family, and was introduced by my cousins.

Flash forward to being home from vacation. My parents would have none of it though. Moonies owned D&D and I was not allowed to play. So, I would head to the local library, and digest every piece of information I could.The 2 books I remember were Oriental Adventures and Fiend Folio. They made almost no sense to me. No PHB or DMG for reference.

I fought with my parents for 5 years about it. I wrote a paper for school about it. I finally got the okay to play, and haven't looked back.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

How to plan a schedule for Gen Con

For those of you not in the know, Gen Con's event list "drops" tomorrow. I've been going to Indy since 2005, and have some idea of what to expect and how to navigate the process. Here's how I do it:
  1. Download the program catalog (on your phone, hopefully). Usually* they post it here: http://community.gencon.com/files/  This is in an Excel format. (* last year they did not post the program files in the downloads section.) This allows you to use downtime to scan for events that you want to play.
  2. Find events. Lots of events. Find duplicates of games you really want. Keep the event number's handy.
  3. Prioritize your events! We will get to the Wish List soon, but while you are looking through the events list, make sure you note event numbers. Make a top 5 list for each day. Don't worry about overlapping times at this point.
  4. Make a spreadsheet with all of this information. Here's what our group spreadsheet looks like:
     

    The colors on the right are broken down to type of 'event.' The left column of colors is: Food/Drinks (breakfast/lunch/dinner/bar time), Exhibit Hall (you will want to schedule time for this mammoth nerd sale), RPG/Game, True Dungeon (a high priority for our group, and something that has to be coordinated between 10 different schedules), Pool time (you won't see this on my schedule for GC, but my friends enjoy it.), Workshop, Electronic Games, Other, and Logistics (travel time, for example.)

    The colors on the right are the important ones at this stage. Red is a top priority event. Most lists have True Dungeon, You Too Can Cthulhu, D&D special events or other things that can only be done at Gen Con.
    Yellow is a medium priority event. In my case, this year, you will see Lords of Waterdeep World Championships, Munchkin, and other games that I can play at home, but enjoy enough to find competition.
    Green is labeled as "Space Filler." These can be low priority events, or nap time, or screw around time.
  5. Find the Wish List on the Gen Con website. (It's probably on the drop down menu under your name in the upper right hand corner. It's not live yet, so I can't be sure.)
  6. Populate your Wish List. Using your highest priority events as your highest number wishes. If you want You Too Can Cthulhu, you should put all of the YTCC events that you could possibly attend as your highest priority. For example (from the 2014 list):
    You Too Can Cthulhu - Black Letter - Cthulhu Raids AgainThursday 8am - noon
    Friday 8am - noon
    Saturday 8am - noon

    Would be listed at wishes 1, 2 and 3. You will probably not get any of them in your cart come registration day (they are VERY popular.) You will have the option to 'release' any tickets that you don't want back into the system, too.
    Last year the wish list limited people to 50 events. This sounds like a lot, but really when you are fighting for a spot in a popular game, they go quickly.
  7. Be online about 11:30 next Sunday, signed in and ready to submit your wishlist. Pray for a low number.


Although the list isn't public yet, my priority list will look something like this:
1. True Dungeon
2. True Dungeon
3. True Dungeon
4. True Dungeon
5. True Dungeon
6. True Dungeon
7. D&D All Access
8. AEG Board Game Night
9. - 12. Random RPG that looks fun
13. Munchkin
14. Lords of Waterdeep World Championship.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Current WYC schedule

This is more for me than the gentle readers. WYG website doesn't give me a nice list of what I have going on at the con.

Friday 6-730 Lords of Waterdeep
Sat 1030am True Grind or 9am-1pm YTCC (decisions, decisions)
Sat 9pm  True Dungeon
Sat 130-3pm Munchkin
Sunday 12n-3pm Artemis War Bridge: WYSN MystWulf

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

T-minus 14 hours

So, I've had 2 sick kids the past 2 weeks and an anniversary. The last post was mostly written, but I had to finish that up before updating. Now I have a moment of free time.

I'm going to use it to make sure I don't forget anything. I head to Gary Con in less than 14 hours.

1st Mord Mar Session of the Year

So, I ran the first Mord Mar session of the year last Saturday. The players had a blast. We started at level 5, and here's the PCs:

Khyron: Elf Wizard 5
General Wranth: Gnome Master Summoner 5
Moran the Mighty: Human Spy 4, Fighter 1
Abraxes Onyxheart: Dwarf Barbarian 5
Adrax Onyxheart: Dwarf Cleric 5
Hatch: Human Mindchemist 5

Gonn Inkweaver was the party's handler from the Adventurer's Guild. I do love that part of MM, not having to wrangle everyone to a cause. "You are part of the AG, you've been assigned to this team." Simple, sensible, and easy.

Anyway, they were assigned a secret task, finding the king's kidnapped daughter, Jayella Greybeard. The AG was sealed off for the appearance of the Hellevator (an uncommon, but not unheard of event.) They climbed inside and away they went.

They stepped out of the Hellevator into a 10' wide corridor. 2 doors on each side and the corridor continues into a room. They open both far doors. The door on the left has nothing but a set of footprints in dust leading to the NW corner.

Meanwhile, Moran steps into the right hand door, and gets attacked by 6 treasure chests. They mostly miss, push him out the door and shut it.

Khyron enters the room at the end of the hallway, and gets attacked by a gargoyle who just throws rocks from about 20' above. Each character that enters seems to awaken another gargoyle, all of whom throw rocks. The group hustles through the room to avoid rocks (leaving the footprints mostly unchecked.)

The passage splits, continuing forward and cutting right. Most of the party goes to the right. Due to positioning, Hatch steps into the forward passageway, and notices 'neato lights.' Failing his save, he heads toward them.

Meanwhile, the passage to the right led to a room with 3 aquariums. Adrax steps on a pressure plate, dropping a Gibbering Mouther onto himself, releasing 3 more from the aquariums, and dropping one next to Moran.

Quick recap of combat: Khyron maxes out a Fireball. General Wranth opened a pit to divide the battlefield. Adrax was enveloped by a Mouther, and Abraxes did lots of damage. End of this combat, Adrax was down 4 Con and a few HPs were lost around the party. Adrax used 2-3 Channels.

Meanwhile, Hatch has walked under water and into a far corner of a room. Fortunately, General Wranth saw which way he went. As soon as combat with the Gibbering Mouthers was over, he headed to find his lost friend.

This combat was brutal. There were 2 Corpse Candles from Tome of Horrors (PDF and Print). I didn't use the Con drain aura mainly because of the simultaneous fighting. That said, Hatch was brought down to 3 STR, and Moran was brought down to 1 STR before they killed the first one. The second Corpse Candle fled (presumably to guard something or warn someone.)

This is where the session ended for the night. 


Thursday, March 5, 2015

New stuff this week


So, these past two weeks have been a good one for acquisitions:

  1. 3 Dufex prints all about 6" x 8"."Gods of Lankhmar, (Kieth Parkinson?" "Lord Soth's Charge, (Kieth Parkinson)" and the cover of Unearthed Arcana (Jeff Easley).
  2. Cyclopean Deeps Volume 1 from Frog God Games came today.
  3. My Bones came in! 
  4. Unearthed Arcana, 1E Player's Handbook, and Oriental Adventures came in today. I traded some Bones for these!
  5. Necropolis (3E) showed up last week.
  6. I found the 3E Ravenloft and Relics and Rituals at a local store for cheap.
  7. Gary Gygax's Hall of Many Panes was bought on Ebay and delivered.
That's not bad for a couple of weeks. And more on the way.


CotMA 12

When last we left our intrepid adventurers, they were neck deep in trolls. We had 2 character deaths, and we were in trouble.

Feran: Ranger 6 (me)
Chance: Cleric 5/Rogue 1 (Ian)
Clip-Clop: Centaur Fighter 5 (Jake's character. Played by Dustin. 'Cause Mangonel is dead.)
Inquisitor 6 (Rob)
Mangonel: Human Barbarian 3/Druid 3 (Lion Shaman something or other) (Dead)
Tiefling Magus 4/Rogue 2 (Dave)

It is amazing what a difference 1 character makes. That centaur is brutal. Having him in combat we had a fighting chance.
We returned to combat on Feran's action. He immediately readied an action to hand the centaur his Flaming Axe. This quickly turned the battle. Doing 1d12 +10 + 1d6 will do that. Trolls have low AC, so Clip-Clop was dropping one a round. Add to this, the tiefling dealing acid damage, and Feran tripping the foes. And the Inquisitor was using bane. The red d6 is a Spiritual Weapon. The green die is a 'smoke countdown.' Opening the lane into the room actually was a benefit to us. We could attack several instead of one. Add to all of this the DM's dice were cold. We prevailed in a fight we were very close to losing.

Searching we found a secret room with 13 sacks in it. But, we also attracted a wandering monster. This guy showed up again. And again we ran. Straight back to the sphinx. We found it deactivated. But, it woke up after someone put themselves in the 'betting ring.' We gambled for a way home. And we won!

Coming out of the dungeon, we sold pretty much everything (in Greyhawk). We each had somewhere around 16k in gp. Feran bought a +1 enchantment on his Mithral Large Shield, a +2 enchantment on his Mithral Chain Shirt, and a Goggles of the Night.

Now we take a break so I can run some Mord Mar. Should be about 12 weeks and we'll be back to CotMA.