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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changelings

Torchbearer RPG - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 13:00
Paton, Joseph Noel (1821-1901); The Fairy Raid: Carrying Off a Changeling, Midsummer Eve; Photo Credit: Glasgow Museums

Hello friends!

Luke has been noodling around with a new Middarmark stock. We’re still playtesting and would love your feedback!

The changeling is a special stock. Trolls pick a human family with a new infant, abduct the child and leave one of their own its place. Sometimes the changeling knows what it is, sometimes it only learns the truth later in life. Changeling children are frequently malevolent or destructive and their unwitting adoptive families often come to grief.

To reflect this, Troll Changelings don’t have a class of their own. Instead they choose from the classes available to humans: Cleric, Magician, Thief or Warrior. They cannot be paladins.

If you’re interested, I highly recommend reading Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword, which also happens to be a great primer for Middarmark gaming in general. In The Broken Sword, the elf lord Imric kidnaps the infant son of Orm the Strong and Aelfrida, leaving the troll changeling Valgard in his place.

Troll Changeling

Nature descriptors: Tricking, Boasting and Breaking

Wises

Troll Changelings choose one wise from the following list to start: Troll-wise, Giant-wise, Changeling-wise, or Folklore-wise.

Trait: Hulder

In addition to their class trait, troll changelings must take a second required trait: Hulder. Hulder are troll changelings left to be raised by human parents, sometimes as punishment, sometimes in exchange for a human child stolen. In their human form, they are beautiful to behold (though most have a telltale tail). In their troll form, they are hideous, long-nosed and misshapen.

Class

Troll Changeling characters may choose from the cleric, magician, thief or warrior classes.

Nature Questions

Do you play cruel tricks on your human parents, frightening them with your trollish ways or do you have mercy on their simple souls and keep to human tradition?

  • If you play cruel tricks, increase Nature by one.
  • If you have mercy on humans, take the Filial or Compassionate trait at level 1 in place of your home trait.

Do you boast of your wild deeds, even ones you haven’t accomplished yet? Or do you remain secretive about your true nature?

  • If you boast of your deeds, increase Nature by one.
  • If you remain secretive, take Secrets-wise, Ancient Grievances-wise or Revenge-wise.

Troll strength flows through your blood. Do you rend and snap your way into and out of trouble? Or do you hide your strength and your trollish origins?

  • If you break bones and snap locks, increase Nature by one.
  • If you hide your trollish origins, increase your Hulder trait to level 2.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

From the Desk of Jason Hardy – Shadowrun 6

Gamer Goggles - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 19:42

From Jason Hardy, Shadowrun Line Developer:

Shadowrun, Sixth World is coming soon!

Wait, Shadowrun, Sixth World isn’t out yet? But I’ve been thinking about it for years! Playing it for more than a year! How are other people not playing it? Development time can be so disorienting.

There was a time—six years ago, to be specific—when I threatened physical violence to anyone who said the words “sixth edition” in my presence. (The threats didn’t work. No one is ever scared of me. But I digress). Fifth Edition took a lot of effort to produce, and I didn’t want to think about starting that whole process again. But then there were a few years where I didn’t have to think about a new edition, and I could recharge. Actually, that’s not entirely true, because every time I play a game—whether it’s one I worked on or not—I’m kind of thinking of a new edition. I’m looking at what works well, what works differently than intended, and what possibilities might open up with a tweak here and there. So when the time came to envision the next edition of Shadowrun, I had a few ideas, as did the excellent roster of Shadowrun writers and gamemasters I could tap into.

All those ideas needed a framework, of course. As we started our work, we decided the sixth edition of Shadowrun needed to possess three main qualities:

Be no more than 300 pages long;
Use D6 dice pools; and
Feel like Shadowrun.

Those last two points are related, because it’s tough for a game to feel like Shadowrun if you’re not rolling a healthy handful of D6s. But there’s more to it than that. Combat specialists, spellcasters, conjurers, adepts, faces, deckers, technomancers, riggers, enchanters, weapon specialists, and more all need to exist, and they all must have different and meaningful ways to contribute to a run.

In this edition, all that had to happen within 300 pages. Which is a trick. Fifth Edition, not counting the index, is 466 pages; the anniversary edition of Fourth Edition was 351 pages, and Third Edition was 325 pages (minus the sample record sheets). Second Edition is a lean 284 pages, but it had no bioware, no technomancers, no alchemy, and no qualities, to name a few things that have changed in the intervening years. The book that started it all is an even leaner 207 pages, but along with the elements Second Edition didn’t have, it lacks things such as adepts and foci, and it offers only twenty guns—heresy! (Fifth Edition has 52, while Shadowrun, Sixth World will offer 53–we didn’t cut back much on those options!) All this is to say that streamlining the core rulebook back to 300 pages was not going to be easy.

It’s important to note that simply making the book shorter doesn’t, by itself, do any good. You can make any book shorter by simply ripping every third page out, but you end up with a book that makes no sense. Making the book shorter only is useful if the game also becomes smoother to play. In other words, we didn’t just want a shorter game—we wanted one that moved faster and was easier to get into, while still offering lots of meaningful options. We also didn’t want this to be Shadowrun: Anarchy for the simple reason that Anarchy already exists. Anarchy represents a more extreme end of the rules-light spectrum than Shadowrun, Sixth World–one way to understand the difference between the two is that the gear rules and listings take up about seven or eight pages in Anarchy, compared to fifty pages in Sixth World. Did I mention we wanted to offer lots of options?

Anyway, this means that if the rules were changed, they needed to be changed with an eye toward enabling players to do the things that they wanted to do more quickly. Combat should be faster. Hacking should be smoother and more intuitive. Magic should adapt to be just what the caster wants it to be. And so on. So what, specifically, did we do? Here’s a sample:

Expanded Edge: Yes, one of the things we did to streamline the game was to make one function much more detailed. But stay with me for a second. The definition of Edge has shifted—rather than being that undefinable something extra you reach for in a tough spot to help put you over the top, Edge now represents the accumulated advantage you get in opposed situations. Whether you’re fighting, spellcasting, hacking, or negotiating, you’ll have a chance to earn and spend bonus Edge. And you should spend it—if you’re not gaining and spending Edge regularly in Shadowrun, Sixth World, it might be time to rethink your tactics. Or find less formidable opposition. Gaining and spending Edge replaces a lot of other functions in the game, like calculating situational modifiers, dealing with recoil and armor piercing, and environmental modifiers. Edge also provides a chance for a character to really have an impact when it’s time to spend it.
Fewer action types: There are two, Minor and Major. That’s it! You get one Minor and one Major per turn, with an additional Minor for various circumstances, such as reaction-enhancing augmentations or spells. One Major Action may be traded for four Minor Actions, or four Minor for one Major.
Simplified initiative: You roll initiative at the start of an encounter and then don’t re-roll it. Certain actions or effects may change your initiative score, though.
No limits: Limits served a valuable function of balancing attributes and providing different opportunities for rule effects, but in a streamlined ruleset, they are not needed. Limits on most tests and Force for spells have all been removed.
Skill list narrowed: Fifth Edition has 80 skills, while Sixth Edition has 19. That’s a big difference. There’s definite streamlining there, but it comes at the risk of characters not being distinct from each other. To deal with that, players can still select specializations but can also upgrade a specialization to an expertise, giving their character +3 bonus dice instead of +2, and once they have an expertise they can select an additional specialization. This will provide characters with chances to become truly distinct.
More intuitive Matrix: This is an ongoing goal, and it’s always fun to try to make Matrix activities happen alongside and in parallel with the other actions. Deckers will have meaningful things to do and ways to get in, make things happen, and get out—all while trying to avoid the watchful eyes of the Grid Overwatch Division, of course.

Those are some of the major changes, but far from the only ones. We haven’t talked about Attack Ratings, the uses of armor, changes to Knowledge skills, revamped spell design, new vehicle stats, cyberjacks, and more. I hope this gives you a taste of the upcoming changes, and I look forward to you all playing Shadowrun, Sixth World as much as I have and will! And look for more information on this blog each Wednesday in May!

May 1: Initial Announcement
May 8: Product Overview
May 15: Developer Overview
May 22: Setting Overview/Fiction Announcement
May 29: Developer Q&A
June 5: Rigger Dossier
June 12: Shadowrun at Origins preview
More to follow – I will nail him down at Origins if it’s the only thing I do this year.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

New official D&D Paint Set from Gale Force 9 and The Army Painter

Gamer Goggles - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 19:40

New official D&D Paint Set from Gale Force 9 and The Army Painter
Deep under the crust of the adventurers’ feet, lies a whole world of terror and evil. To some it is best avoided; to others it is a calling; to most, it is death. Welcome adventurer, to the Underdark – the most hostile and dark place imaginable; a place where nightmares are real and aberrations spill forth from the depth of terror.
D&D Underdark is an expansion set to Nolzur’s Marvelous Pigments painting series. 10 high-quality acrylic paints toned specifically to match many monsters and horrors dwelling in this nightmare realm. The Underdark Set includes 8 colours unique to Dungeons and Dragons, and also comes with an exclusive Drizzt Do’Urden miniature included in the set.

D&D OFFICIAL PAINTING SERIES EXPANSION SET
INCLUDES 10 HIGH-QUALITY, NONTOXIC 12 ML WARPAINTS AND EXCLUSIVE DRIZZT DO’URDEN MINIATURE!
INCLUDES 8 COLOURS UNIQUE TO DUNGEONS & DRAGONS

Warpaints are a high–quality acrylic paint range specifically designed to paint detailed miniatures. The paint has a creamy consistency and is extremely rich in pigment, 100% non-toxic, and always delivers a perfect matte finish.

Recommended to use in conjunction with D&D® Adventurer’s Paint Set.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

This Just in from Paizo Kingmaker extension!

Gamer Goggles - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 19:32

Hello,

Thanks for the all the Kingmaker 10th Anniversary crowdfunding campaign press! The Level-ups keep going… so we’ve decided to extend it to midnight on June 4th (Pacific). That’s one of the advantages of running the campaign on Game On Tabletop.

It is late in the day on Friday, so please consider this a simple courtesy, not a attempt at breaking news.

I’ve copied the announcement here for you:

“When we first launched the Kingmaker 10th Anniversary campaign on Game On Tabletop, we heard from Pathfinder players worldwide wondering why the campaign was only two weeks. For some, the campaign timing didn’t match their paycheck deposits. Others didn’t hear about the campaign until much later. Many others still haven’t heard about it.

With PaizoCon beginning next week and UK Games Expo the week after, Paizo and Game On Tabletop have decided to extend the campaign through those events to allow more time to unlock greater value for backers—and to give everyone more time. The campaign will now end at midnight Pacific on June 4th.

Thanks again for all your feedback and support! Together, we’re going to make the 10th anniversary of Kingmaker a truly epic event!”

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Modiphius to make Elder Scrolls Miniature Game

Gamer Goggles - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 19:28

The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms – Tabletop wargaming in the world of Tamriel

LONDON, ENGLAND, May 20th – Modiphius Entertainment is proud to announce a new narrative miniatures game based on The Elder Scrolls®, the legendary videogame franchise by Bethesda Game Studios®.

The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms builds on the core mechanics of Modiphius’ Fallout: Wasteland Warfare game system, but has been rewritten and reworked by designer Mark Latham (The Walking Dead: All Out War, The Harry Potter Miniatures Adventure Game, Editor White Dwarf Magazine) to suit the world and inhabitants of The Elder Scrolls franchise.

Featuring high quality 32mm resin figures, each with its own unique custom base, the skirmish system sees fan favourite heroes like Hadvar, Ralof, Yrsarald Thrice-Pierced, Marcurio, Mjoll the Lioness, Ulfric Stormcloak, Galmar Stone-Fist, General Tullius and Lydia. The player’s heroes lead groups of followers on adventures inside Dwemer Ruins, Draugr-infested Nord Tombs, and through the frozen wilderness.

As well as controlling their troops, players will also need to manage the stamina and Magicka resources their models bring to the table, all the while watching out for hostile AI driven enemies and narrative events that can change the flow of battle. Players can play against each other or team up (or play solo) to take on all manner of creatures and adversaries driven by Modiphius’ advanced AI system.

The game will feature scenarios ranging from dungeon delves, where you seek out lost treasure, to running battles across the ruined outposts that dot the landscape of Tamriel, all the while fulfilling quests and narrative-driven scenario objectives that will see your band of heroes grow from game to game. Will you claim the ruined fort as yours and build your own settlement, or wander the countryside clearing out foul ruins of the stench of your enemies?

In the first wave, players will raise their banners in the fight for the future of Skyrim as they lead the forces of the Stormcloaks or Imperial Legion in the battles of the civil war. Forces will typically comprise 1-6 heroes and 3-15 troops. The first wave of releases will be a Two Player starter set and reinforcement sets of resin miniatures for both the Stormcloaks and the Imperial Army, a Dragonborn single player set, but more races and characters from across the Elder Scrolls stories are planned. A host of accessories like metal tokens, deluxe dice bags, settlement journals and more will expand your options. Planned releases will expand on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim®, as well as adding releases from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion®, The Elder Scrolls Online®, and more.

Modiphius plans promotional miniature releases in the lead up to the launch, starting with the iconic Dragonborn miniature, available right now in limited quantities from www.modiphius.com/Elder-Scrolls, or pick one up at the UK Games Expo show in June, or GenCon in August. More special editions will be released through the year and will be available again after release.

The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms will be available from Christmas 2019. For more information and to sign up for news, visit: www.modiphius.com/Elder-Scrolls

For press requests and interviews direct or at UK Games Expo please contact pr@modiphius.com

About Modiphius Entertainment

Modiphius Entertainment is a London, England-based entertainment publisher of tabletop games and related hobby merchandise. The company launched its first game, the Achtung! Cthulhu Roleplaying Game, in 2013, and has since released Conan, Adventures in Age Undreamed of, the official roleplaying game of Robert E Howard’s barbaric universe, Matt Leacock’s Thunderbirds, a cooperative board game based on the classic 60’s show, the official Star Trek Adventures Roleplaying game, and Fallout: Wasteland Warfare miniatures game.

About ZeniMax Media Inc.

ZeniMax Media is a privately owned media organization headquartered outside Washington DC with international publishing offices in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Eindhoven, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sydney and Moscow. Through its subsidiaries, ZeniMax Media creates and publishes original interactive entertainment content for consoles, PCs, and handheld/wireless devices. ZeniMax Media divisions include Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, Arkane Studios, Tango Gameworks, MachineGames, ZeniMax Online Studios, ZeniMax Europe Ltd., ZeniMax Asia K.K., ZeniMax Asia Pacific Limited, and ZeniMax Australia Pty Ltd. For more information on ZeniMax Media, visit www.zenimax.com.

About Bethesda Softworks

Bethesda Softworks, part of the ZeniMax Media Inc. family of companies, is a worldwide publisher of interactive entertainment software. Titles featured under the Bethesda label include such blockbuster franchises as The Elder Scrolls®, Fallout®, DOOM®, QUAKE®, Wolfenstein®, Dishonored®, The Evil Within™, Prey® and RAGE®. For more information on Bethesda Softworks’ products, visit www.bethsoft.com.

About Bethesda Game Studios

Bethesda Game Studios is the award-winning development team known around the world for its ground-breaking work on The Elder Scrolls series and the Fallout series. Creators of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion®, the 2006 ‘Game of the Year’; Fallout® 3, the 2008 ‘Game of the Year’; The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim®, the 2011 ‘Game of the Year’; Fallout® 4, the winner of more than 200 “Best Of” awards including the 2016 BAFTA and 2016 D.I.C.E. Game of the Year; and Fallout Shelter™, the award-winning mobile game with more than 100 million users. Bethesda Game Studios has earned its reputation as one of the industry’s most respected and accomplished game development studios. For more information on Bethesda Game Studios, visit www.bethesdagamestudios.com.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

West of the Keep on the Borderlands

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 00:46

I enjoy running Keep on the Borderlands with new players, however I find myself wanting to embellish the area map more and more the more I play it. I believe it is well known at this point that old pulp stories provide a better resource for stocking a wilderness map than either fantasy novels from after 1980 or rpg supplements. For those that are still not convinced, I offer this example.

Rather than start the classic module at the keep where the players can buy equipment and collect rumors, I want to play out part of the travelling that happens before they get there.

On the road to the keep, the players encounter a bedraggled survivor of a caravan that was destined for the keep. He tells of veritable army of bandits that emerged from the forest, ransacking and plundering the goods, killing the troops that were meant to relieve the forces of the keep, and kidnapping the merchants and artisans. And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the warriors with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

The players have to decide whether to continue on the road and risk being waylaid by a superior force… or perhaps go around.

Now… to the north of the road, there is a random encounter table loaded up with mostly cannibals. (Give a 1-6 chance for a bear, spider, or wolf– otherwise it’s cannibals!) If the players strike off into the forest they will stumble across this grisly scene:

In a wide clearing, on a rather bold incline stood a grim stake, and to this stake was bound a thing that had once been a man. Kane had rowed, chained to the bench of a Turkish galley, and he had toiled in Barbary vineyards; he had battled red Indians in the New Lands and had languished in the dungeons of Spain’s Inquisition. He knew much of the fiendishness of man’s inhumanity, but now he shuddered and grew sick. Yet it was not so much the ghastliness of the mutilations, horrible as they were, that shook Kane’s soul, but the knowledge that the wretch still lived.

For as he drew near, the gory head that lolled on the butchered breast lifted and tossed from side to side, spattering blood from the stumps of ears, while a bestial, rattling whimper drooled from the shredded lips.

Kane spoke to the ghastly thing and it screamed unbearably, writhing in incredible contortions, while its head jerked up and down with the jerking of mangled nerves, and the empty, gaping eye-sockets seemed striving to see from their emptiness. And moaning low and brain-shatteringly it huddled its outraged self against the stake where it was bound and lifted its head in a grisly attitude of listening, as if it expected something out of the skies.

If the players want to follow this up, they will find the village “Bogonda, ruled by Kuroba the chief and Goru the priest.” They’ll be attacked by harpies on the way there, of course. And have to figure out what to do with a village penned in with harpies exacting an awful tribute on one side and merciless cannibals hemming them in on the other.

Meanwhile, to the southwest lies city of Ib. This is the closest thing to civilization that the players could reasonably get to if they would like to look for reinforcements.

It is told that in the immemorial years when the world was young, before ever the men of Sarnath came to the land of Mnar, another city stood beside the lake; the grey stone city of Ib, which was old as the lake itself, and peopled with beings not pleasing to behold. Very odd and ugly were these beings, as indeed are most beings of a world yet inchoate and rudely fashioned. It is written on the brick cylinders of Kadatheron that the beings of Ib were in hue as green as the lake and the mists that rise above it; that they had bulging eyes, pouting, flabby lips, and curious ears, and were without voice. It is also written that they descended one night from the moon in a mist; they and the vast still lake and grey stone city Ib.

To the south there is a strange mausoleum:

And so they passed through the jungle until they came to a strange clearing among the giant trees—strange because nothing grew there. The trees ringed it in a disquieting symmetrical manner, and no lichen or moss grew on the earth, which seemed to have been blasted and blighted in a strange fashion. And in the midst of the glade stood the mausoleum.

A great brooding mass of stone it was, pregnant with ancient evil. Dead with the dead of a hundred centuries it seemed, yet Kane was aware that the air pulsed about it, as with the slow, unhuman breathing of some gigantic, invisible monster.

To the southeast the players will eventually stumble across the bandit’s camp. The players could attempt to infiltrate it and rescue captives or else try some other insane scheme.

How much should you prep for this scenario…? Eh, D&D is not that complicated. Make something up! You don’t know which way the players will go or if they will bypass most of this altogether. The point is to throw all this at them as the need for it arises and then see what they are most into playing. Read the three pulp stories referenced here before the game. Be prepared to wing it. Do additional prep if any of this strikes a note with the players.

It’s okay if the players ignore all of this and instead make for the keep as quick as they can manage. There’s nothing wrong with looting the Caves of Chaos instead! Of course, if they want to sell certain offbeat magic items, the City of Ib is going to be their best bet. And getting additional gear at the keep is going to be tough until those bandits are dealt with!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Campaign Commentary - White Dwarf Issue Eighty Eight & Brian Lumley's The Sorcery in Shad

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 20:32
Wayback in 98 I quit Dungeons & Dragons for a time to run the Stormbringer rpg. The local Dungeon & Dragons player scene had dried up & those that remained wanted something different.White Dwarf Magazine, Issue 80  from 1986 has one of my favorite adventures,Ancient & Modern is the first part of a two-part adventure for AD&D and/or Call of Cthulhu by Graham Staplehurst. This adventure wasNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Ruins of Unity - An Adventure Encounter For Mutant Future or Any Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 16:29
The ruins of Unity city are a testament to the incredibly subtle protection the ancients had in place that failed. A wide variety of faux Egyptian obelisks scattered throughout California in the pattern of Orion's belt. These  stood as occult barriers to the other dimensional forces & supernatural horrors that lurked just outside of the local space time in the lower strata of the Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Greek Myth Godbound

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 11:00
Reading Kevin Crawford's Godbound (which is pretty cool!), I've been thinking about how I might use it, if I ever got around to it. I have two ways I might use it, actually, but here's one of them.

The first borrows some from my old Gods, Demi-gods and Strangeness idea, except it would shift to being more about Kirby-esque super-gods heroics like The Eternals or The New Gods rather than mortal plagued by science fictional gods.

The background: For reasons not fully known to anyone but himself, the titan Kronos sought to create a more permanent world of matter and time, something less mutable than the idea-space of chaos where the titans existed. Eleven of his peers were either dupes or co-conspirators in the creation.

The Titans were lessened by their participation in the Cosmos project. They were forced to embody and support fixed aspects of the architecture of Kronos's world: They entered as creators but became as much prisoners as those that came after them. Like in Greek Myth (and Exalted's Creation), the Earth is flat:


(The world probably resembles the world known to the Ancient Greeks, but maybe "blown up" slightly.)

Kronos's rule was in many ways a Golden Age, with human's living in protected gardens, yet at the caprice of Kronos and his allies. The Olympians also resented his command, and they led a usurpation, that toppled the Titans and imprisoned them away.  Humans were freer, but also suffered from disease and hunger and lived shorter lives. The Olympians restricted human technology, fearful initially of another revolt.

In the current age, the Olympians are decadent and distracted. Mighty heroes and demi-gods have appeared among human, ready to rediscover the technology of the Titans and challenge the gods themselves with their deeds.

The Feel: Mythic Greece as a science fantasy, superhero epic. This is a "ahistorical," mythical ancient Greece. I mean, more ahistorical than usual. It might be a distant past like the Camelot of 8000 BC in DC Comics' Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight. It has a bit of Kirby, a bit of Starlin, maybe a bit of Peter Chung's Reign: The Conqueror.


Aragorn Never Had an Identity Crisis

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sun, 05/19/2019 - 21:46

This came up the other day, so I had to look it up. Any classic character that is adapted to contemporary media is consistently mutilated into something they’re not. Most recently this can be observed in the many edits made to Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker in Disney’s cartoon adaptation of the original Star Wars film. It seems a small thing, maybe, but this is how people that hate us actively rewrite our culture right in front of us. Plenty of well meaning people take the knockoff for the original while their imaginations are dimmed. Before long, the waters are so muddied the original inspirational character concept is lost in the noise.

Now about Aragorn: was he reluctant to take up the mantle of king? Was he at all ambivalent about his identity and heritage? Let’s check back to the Council of Elrond and see.

Aragorn introduces himself in response to Boromirs tale of the dream about Imladris, a broken sword, and a halfling. Elrond identifies his lineage. Frodo reveals the ring. Bormir is still confused, thinking that the dream must indicate the doom of Minas Tirith. Then Aragorn says this:

The words were not the doom of Minas Tirith, but doom and great deeds are indeed at hand. For the Sword that was Broken is the Sword of Elindil that broke beneath him when he fell. It has been treasured by his heirs when all other heirlooms were lost; for it was spoken of old among us that it should be made again when the Ring, Isildur’s Bane, was found. Now you have seen the sword that you have sought, what would you ask? Do you wish for the House of Elendil to return to the Land of Gondor?

So… Aragorn announces himself as the true king at the Counil of Elrond to the steward’s eldest son. The reason he waited is because of prophecies regarding the ring, not due to some lame heroic journey that people decided that every single character arc has to follow starting some time in the late seventies.

Returning as king is politically complicated in war time, yes, particularly with the steward descending into madness. And it’s pointless anyway so long as Sauron is not defeated. With that miraculously taken care of, the way is opened for Aragorn to marry his betrothed with her father’s permission. Which was the plan all along.

He was humble, but he never compromised. He was, perhaps, an inferior guide for the fellowship in comparison to Gandalf. But he did his duty in that regard right up until circumstances dictated that he take another course– one that would involve leading an army of undead among other things…!

He never doubted his identity. He never shirked his responsibility. And he certainly never needed to be scolded by the guy that was going to end up being his father-in-law. Though he grieved in response to disaster, he never needed to be told to “boomer up” and be true to himself. He did what was right without compromise or complaint– with the hope that providence would set all things right in the end!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Campaign Commentary - Gary Gygax's Gord The Rogue & 'The City Beyond The Gate' AD&D adventure

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 05/19/2019 - 18:37
Its been a long while since I cracked open an issue of Dragon magazine & issue one hundred has as it centerfold adventure one called The City Beyond the Gate for AD&D. I never ran it for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons but instead I ended up running it for the Stormbringer rpg back in 97 or so. The adventure takes a party of Greyhawk adventurers into the heart of modernish day London to Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Annihilation Rising Goes live

Fail Squad Games - Sat, 05/18/2019 - 15:55

The latest in Fail Squad Games’ Quick Kick projects has gone live and needs your support!! This project is only running 11 days and ends on 5/28/2019!

 

Monsieur Nerluc clings to the local mountainside. Villagers tell frightened children that the monstrous form of earthen stone is just a natural rock formation. It’s a lie they’d like to believe themselves. Monsieur Nerluc is, in fact, the lord of all Tarasques, and strange cultists seek to waken him. If they do, his age-old toothache will begin to throb, and he’s going to be horrendously angry. 

 Can the heroes get to the “root” of the problem? Will they have a Tarasque lord running wild?  This adventure will be approximately 14 pages long when layout is finished and aimed at a party of 4–5 heroes of 5th level.

Back it NOW!

The post Annihilation Rising Goes live appeared first on Fail Squad Games.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

An Arthurian Take On G1-3 Against the Giants (1e) By Gary Gygax As Old School Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 05/17/2019 - 18:40
"Giants have been raiding the lands of men in large bands, with giants of different sorts in these marauding groups. Death and destruction have been laid heavily upon every place these monsters have visited. A party of the bravest and most powerful adventurers has been assembled and given the charge to punish the miscreant giants. "Its been a busy last two days & its been very interesting to Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Why Isn't There a Game for That? [Update]

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 05/16/2019 - 19:00
I originally wrote this post in 2014, so it's probably time to check back in and see how the rpg landscape is changed. There are a number of genres/subgenres that are under-utilized or not utilized at all in rpgs, despite the fact they would probably work pretty well. Here are a few off the top of my head:

Humorous Adventure Pulp
Basically this would cover the whimsical, fantastical, and often violent world of Thimble Theatre (later Popeye) and the Fleischer Popeye cartoon. A lot of fist-fights, fewer guns. This would also cover Little Orphan Annie, various kid gang comics, and (on the more violent end) Dick Tracy.
Update: Still nothing. It's probably not a genre that has a lot of cachet for modern audiences.

Wainscot Fantasy
Little creatures hiding in the big world. Think The Borrowers, The Littles, and Fraggle Rock.
Update: I've found forums and blogposts where others are asking about this sort of thing, but no games still. Well, no published games. There's a quick and lite Fraggle Rock game here.

Kid Mystery Solvers
Scooby Doo is probably the most well-known example, but you've got several Hanna-Barbera returns to the same concept. Ditch weird pet/side kick, and you've got The Three Investigators, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys. 
Update: Looks like there is a game called Meddling Kids. I don't know anything about it though.

Wacky Races
I've written about this one before--and Richard has run it. Still needs a game, though.
Update: There is a board game, which perhaps is a better fit for it.

DIRECT SALE: American Gryphon Cryptkins: Series 2 Vinyl Figure

Cryptozoic - Thu, 05/16/2019 - 16:59

What's more American than an eagle? A creature who is part-eagle, part-lion, and (almost inexplicably) part-American flag! American Gryphon is a variant of the Gryphon Cryptkins: Series 2 vinyl figure and is a Cryptozoic Exclusive, only available on the Cryptozoic eStore while supplies last!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Life in a Ruined Village

Torchbearer RPG - Thu, 05/16/2019 - 13:00
Evening by Russ Nicholson

Hello friends!

It’s been a bit since the end of the Bridge of the Damned campaign, so I wanted to give you some insight into what I’ve been working on.

In the third update, I provided some details on the Saxaling clan that lives on the northern bank of the Vimur River. I also focused on the manor village of Saxatoft.

Saxatoft is a location you can visit in Bridge of the Damned, but it is currently not a functional settlement. In game terms, the Bjorning raid that kicked off the adventure was a disaster. That disaster prevents Saxatoft from being used for a town phase. Lady Clotildis, wife of Ridder Fulk, is doing her best to keep her people alive and to rebuild the village, but she could use help!

In the meantime, while the village can’t be used for the town phase, it can be used as a camp location.

That’s all well and good, but none of our existing camp events tables are really a good fit for this situation. So I’ve made a custom camp events table specifically for camping in the ruined village. You can make use of this for your own games even if you’re not using Saxatoft, though you might have to tweak some of the entries a bit.

This, by the way, is a process you can go through for your own setting to give it a bit more personalized flair. The generic tables from the Torchbearer core book are great and I use them all the time. But sometimes, especially if there’s a place the players are likely to return to again and again, it’s worth the extra effort to make something more specialized.

Note

This table is a bit different than the camp events rules in the core book. In the Torchbearer core book, you roll to determine whether a camp is a disaster, minor inconvenience, safe camp, minor break or lucky break. Then you roll on a subtable to get a specific result. This method brings all of that together in a single table.

Ruined Village Camp Events

Roll 3d6

2Abandoned. The conditions in the village are too miserable. The survivors
quietly slip away in the night, abandoning the town to ruin. 3Collapse. The flame-licked structure you’re squatting in comes down on your
head with a relieved moan. Camp ends and remaining checks lost; structure
destroyed and may not be used further as a camp. All must choose: Make a
Dungeoneer test to get to safety or Laborer tests to save packs and gear. 4Terror. This place is haunted by those recently slain by violence. They emerge
howling from your nightmares. Camp ends and all remaining checks lost. Test
Willto remain sane. Suggested failure result: afraid condition. 5The recent death and misery in the village has lured corpse-eaters into your
midst. 1D2+1 ghouls investigate the pyres to see if any meat escaped the
flame; finding none, they look for fresher flesh. Spend a check to make a test or
engage in a conflict to avert the disaster. If failed, in addition to the resulting
twist or condition, camp ends and all remaining checks are lost. If successful,
camp continues. 6Raid! 2d6 bandits (the Bjorning and Græling thralls) fall on the camp to take
supplies and the children they had to leave behind when they fled. You may
spend a check to make a test or engage in a conflict to avert the disaster.
Otherwise camp ends and all remaining checks are lost. 7Fouled well. The corpses of humans or animals were dropped into the well
during the raid, fouling the water. The well water is undrinkable (anyone who
drinks it is automatically made sick). 8Barren lands. The game in this area has been driven off by the fires and the
land has been foraged clean by the survivors and escaping thralls. There’s
nothing edible to be had for miles. No Hunter or Scavenger tests possible in
camp. 9Hanged man. There’s a corpse of one of the raiders hanging from a tree
nearby, full of ill omen. You cannot recover from the angry or afraid conditions in
camp. 10Smoking pyres. This place is full of ghosts. Recovering spells and invocations in
camp is impossible. 11The roof leaks or the room floods. It begins to rain if it is not raining already.
Water seeps into your gear ruining: 1-3 torches (d3), 4-6 rations (d3). 12Safe camp! 13Midden. +1D to Scavenge for town items in this place. 14Sympathetic children. The local village kids bring you rations of food and wine. 15Fell off the wagon. Roll once on the Gear loot table. 16Overhear a whispered conversation about: 1-2 a cult, 3-4 a local secret, or 5-6 a
political matter. 17Fruit-bearing trees. The orchard or briar has fruited. Collect 2D6 portions of
forage. 18There’s something valuable buried beneath the floorboards or flagstones of the
structure you’re squatting in. Roll once on the Treasure and Valuables loot
subtable (page 145). 19Volunteers! Neighbors hear about the dire straits of Saxatoft and come to
volunteer help. Roll 1d6: 1-2 Laborers, 3-4 Craftsfolk or Artisans, 5-6 A knight
and their retinue. Persistent Results

Some of these results are persistent. If a building collapses, there will be no shelter until it is rebuilt. If the well is fouled, the water will remain poisonous until action is taken to remedy the situation. If the same result is rolled again on a subsequent visit, things should get even worse.

We Can Rebuild It

When the players first encounter Saxatoft, the village is still reeling from the raid. As a result, all camp event rolls are at -1.

Getting Saxatoft back on its feet requires three things:

  • The manor and outbuildings must be repaired (skills like Carpenter, Laborer, and Stonemason may come into play; Steward might be used to organize work parties).
  • The village must be repopulated (either the thralls that escaped to the hills in the raid must be found and recaptured or the PCs might convince people from other settlements to move to Saxatoft).
  • The village’s stock animals must be replenished (perhaps by raiding other nearby settlements and herding the animals back to Saxatoft, or purchasing some breeding pairs from other settlements).

If the PCs successfully perform one of the above actions, they eliminate the -1 to the camp events roll. If they successfully perform two of the above actions, they receive a +1 to the camp events roll. If they perform all three, Saxatoft once again becomes a functioning settlement that can be used for the town phase.

Each time the players make an expedition away from Saxatoft and return, there is a small chance that Clotildis and the small band of survivors she leads will have performed one of the actions themselves. Roll 1d6. On a result of 1, they have taken an action to get Saxatoft back on its feet.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Dungeon That is Never Cleared

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 05/16/2019 - 11:00

I'm sure there are the exceptions, but it seems like that Gygax-approved secondary goal of dungeoncrawling is to clear dungeons to make the land safe for decent folk or something like that. I don't know how much that's that's done these days, but at least dungeon rooms and levels are cleared to allow safe havens/base camps.
What if the dungeon were so alien that sort of thing were unlikely? A dungeon could be looted, but it never could be tamed. This wouldn't mean that the dungeon is static or unchangeable by adventurers, just that it would always retain its essential, deadly, character.

I've been reading The Vorrh by Brian Catling, a novel which has at its center (sort of) the eponymous, immense, ancient forest that is steals people's memories and is supposedly uncrossable. I'm also thinking of the toxic, alien nature of the Zones in Roadside Picnic.

Maybe a mythic underworld as hostile as either of these, would be a bit too much of a killer dungeon (but then again, maybe not) but some movement in this direction might be interesting. In both cases, the appropriate sort of preparation might be key. In the Roadside Picnic case, that means good intel and appropriate gear. In the case of the more mystical Vorrh, it might involve a separate quest to get the needed knowledge, blessing, or key.

Philotomy in his off-quoted "Musings" got it, particularly if we go light on "versimilitude" and allow just enough "internal consistency" for player choices to be meaningful:
"...a megadungeon should have a certain amount of verisimilitude and internal consistency, but it is an underworld: a place where the normal laws of reality may not apply, and may be bent, warped, or broken. Not merely an underground site or a lair, not sane, the underworld gnaws on the physical world like some chaotic cancer.   It is inimical to men; the dungeon, itself, opposes and obstructs the adventurers brave enough to explore it."

S1-4 Dungeons of Dread By Gary Gygax & Lawrence Schick

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 05/16/2019 - 02:42
"Dungeons of Dread is a collection of four classic, stand-alone Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure modules -- S1: Tomb of Horrors, S2: White Plume Mountain, S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, and S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth -- complete with original black-and-white interior art."This is one of the reprints that I've been considering for a long time now. Its sort of a revamp of theNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Watchers & Night - An Adventure Encounter For Mutant Future or Any Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 05/15/2019 - 18:05
 The desert town of Joshua is post apocalyptic trading paradise on the edge of the former site of the ultra secret military base under Joshua Tree National Park. The town has  one of the last working space ports on Earth. Each early  morning at sunrise  a trio of dark humanoid shapes watches over the town.  One would think that a working space port would be the target for every single local Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Tower of Zenopus in Ghosts of Saltmarsh

Zenopus Archives - Wed, 05/15/2019 - 14:16
Ghosts of Saltmarsh alternate cover by N.C. Winters. I like this one more.
Way back in the mists of 2006, on Dragonsfoot I wrote that:
Another dungeon that could be fit into such a combined setting would be the Zenopus dungeon in the Holmes basic book. It's set in Portown on the coast and also has pirates/sea caves, so I've often thought of having Portown and Saltmarsh be the same. Neither town is described, though, so Restenford could be used for details. (Though I guess it could be a bit much to have one small town with both a haunted house and a ruined wizard's tower.)I'm certainly not the only one who has had the idea of merging Portown and Saltmarsh. The similar coastal setting and lack of a full description for either town make them a natural fit. While Saltmarsh being described as a "small south-coast English fishing town of the 14th Century and with a population about 2,000" does feel smaller than Portown, a "small but busy city linking the caravan routes from the south to the merchant ships" plying the Northern Sea, it's still an easy merge for the DM building a coastal sandbox setting. In fact, I have run each of these adventures in the last few years in my kids game, and while I kept Saltmarsh separate, I still had it nearby on the same coast as Portown.

Now the Wizards of the Coast have themselves taken advantage of this. Yesterday an eagle-eyed member of the Holmes Basic community over on MeWe, Chris H., reported that he'd spotted the Tower of Zenopus in a flip-thru review of the forthcoming Ghosts of Saltmarsh...! This is the latest hardcover 5E adventure from WOTC, a compilation of conversions of the original AD&D modules U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh*, U2 The Danger at Dunwater, and U3 The Final Enemy** (the pdfs are also available as a discounted bundle), plus four later adventures from Dungeon magazine.

In addition to the obvious similarities between Portown and Saltmarsh, I'm also not surprised to see Zenopus turn up in this product because Mike Mearls is credited as one of the co-Lead Designers (along with Kate Welch, interviewed here), and he ran a Return to the Tower of Zenopus this past March at Gary Con, and also tweeted this map, so it was certainly on his radar at the right time.

After looking into the previews myself, the area map for Saltmarsh shows the town on the mouth of a river emptying into the Azure Sea. Yes, that's right, they've preserved the Greyhawk location names from the originals! Across this river on a peninsula is a location marked "Tower of Zenopus". Per the map compass, this places the tower generally to the west of Saltmarsh, which fits with Holmes' original description (albeit without an intervening river). The U1 Haunted House is in the other direction along the coast, east of Saltmarsh. 

On the page facing this map is a four-paragraph section titled "Tower of Zenopus", which gives the background for the location --- condensed from the original --- and some brief ideas for encounters found therein. It's much more of an adventure hook than a fleshed out location, and it acknowledges as much by concluding that the details are left for the DM to determine. It would be fairly simple to use a direct 5E conversion of the original dungeon (perhaps adapting my list of Portown rumors to get the PCs over there?). 

As far as I can recall, this is the first time TSR or Wizards has recycled any of the Zenopus content in a later product, and also the first time it has been officially placed in Greyhawk. Also significant is that they've titled it the "Tower of Zenopus", as over the years this has been the most frequently used colloquial name for the originally unnamed adventure. In the new version, just the like original, the tower is a complete ruin and the actual adventure is in the dungeons beneath. As I've written before, this follows the naming convention of Castle Greyhawk, where the dungeons are referred to by the name of the ruined edifice. 

In addition to the Azure Sea, the area map also includes the Hool Marshes to the east of Saltmarsh and the Dreadwood to north, clearly placing it on the original Darlene map from the World of Greyhawk folio or boxed set. Also, the "Geographic Features" section following the Tower of Zenopus mentions the "Kingdom of Keoland", a location going all the way back to the proto-Greyhawk Great Kingdom map.

After some further delving, I realized that this area map in Ghosts of Saltmarsh is simply a direct update of the area map from U2 Danger at Dunwater. All of the major geographical features and even the hexes lines on the map match the placement on the original. 
The original even gave hex numbers for the World of Greyhawk map, with Saltmarsh being located in hex U4-123. So while the new adventure may not be specifically identified as being in Greyhawk, it is easily placeable and usable with that campaign world.

In the image below I've annotated the original U2 map with the new location for the Tower:




*All Drivethrurpg links include my affiliate number.

**I've long suspected that this title is a sneaky pun (spoiler: The Enemy with Fins; i.e. the Sahuagin). I even asked Gygax about it once on DF, and while he claimed no knowledge, we did exchange some fintastic puns.
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