Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Lake Geneva Original RPG Campaign: Red Book™ Line--Free PDF MAJOR UPDATE

Lord of the Green Dragons - Tue, 05/14/2019 - 16:23
Lake Geneva Original RPG Campaign: Red Book™ Line--Free PDF MAJOR UPDATE: Three Line Studio has posted a 10 page/1.1 meg PDF file as an Update and Proposed Product Line Map for the Red Book™ Line. Very Exciting! D...
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Strong Moral Dilemmas in D&D and the Unwanted Kind that Keeps Appearing

DM David - Tue, 05/14/2019 - 11:14

The best tales climax when the heroes must choose between what they’ve learned is right and an easy route to what they thought they wanted. In fiction, such moral dilemmas reveal character. When a woman who only ever wanted to be queen realizes that someone else is better suited to the throne, will she still take the crown?

Everyone who enjoys games such as Dungeons & Dragons likes making choices and seeing the outcomes. Many of those players also enjoy exploring and revealing their characters. So in roleplaying, moral problems may rank as the most interesting and most revealing. In the Dungeon magazine article, “Temptations and Dilemmas,” printed in issue 148, Wolfgang Baur writes about the joy of posing dilemmas. “They make the player really engage with their characters and the game world. Sweet sweet perfection: all you have to do is let the PCs wrangle about it for a while.”

Creating moral choices in D&D proves harder than creating similar dilemmas in stories. In fiction, moral choices often force characters to pick between what’s right and what’s easy. But D&D characters rarely make decisions alone. They face choices as a party, and these groups inevitably mix rogues and paladins.

More than popular classes, rogues and paladins represent two ways players often imagine their characters’ moral outlooks. These make popular character perspectives because they bring escapes from either the restrictions or the unfairness of modern life.

In our world, we often feel bound by rules and obligations. Playing a rogue who’s free from ethical burdens and who boasts the power to ignore rules feels exhilarating.

In our world, we see misdeeds rewarded, good people suffer, and too often we feel helpless to act. Playing a paladin with the strength to punish wrongdoers, help the deserving, and right wrongs feels rejuvenating.

Choices between right and easy inevitably split a party’s rogues and paladins.

“Assassins, poisoners, sneak thieves, death priests, drug smugglers, necromancers, diabolists, and warlocks make it tough for more heroic, lawful, or good characters to look away or condone their smuggling, sneaking, theft, magical abuses, and so on,” Wolfgang writes. “There’s a dilemma for the party every time a character crosses the line and does something that another, more moral character might find unforgivable.”

In D&D, rogues and paladins must find ways to work together or the game falls apart. “If you wind up with that one paladin singled out and forced to choose to compromise his character just to keep playing, you have a problem.” See A Roleplaying Game Player’s Obligation.

So in D&D, moral dilemmas must avoid posing an unsavory-but-easy solution as an option. Instead these problems must force players to weigh which of two, imperfect choices brings the most benefit—or the least corruption. In “5 Tips on How to Design Diabolical Dilemmas,” Johnn Four imagines starting the party with a simple job to capture a war criminal, and then adds moral complications. What if the players discover that the elderly criminal now repents by running an orphanage? If the players decide to take him to justice, what if they learn that the alleged crimes may have saved a village? Do the players still bring the man to execution? None of these choices make the adventure easier for players, but they all land the players in thorny dilemmas that reveal characters.

Johnn suggests developing moral dilemmas by starting with a simple choice and asking questions that help you imagine complications.

  • Who gets hurt?
  • Who escapes justice?
  • Who undeservedly benefits?

While moral dilemmas benefit the game, you can press too hard to create them. Players enjoy difficult choices in balance with uncomplicated situations where their power lets the good guys win. Often players use their ingenuity to solve a moral dilemma without any tough choices. Players savor those victories.

Even when DMs work to foster moral dilemmas, most D&D games only occasionally feature such situations. But one sort of quandary appears frequently, and it’s awful.

Blame co-creator Gary Gygax and his adventure The Keep on the Borderlands (1979). D&D’s first Basic Set included this adventure, so through the 80s, the keep easily ranked as the game’s most played scenario. In a reprint, D&D creative director Mike Mearls writes, “In its 32 pages, Keep on the Borderlands provides the clearest, most concise definition of D&D that you can find.” The keep showed countless dungeon masters how to create a D&D adventure, and mostly it set a good example.

What awful moral dilemma appears 8 times in this classic?

When Gary wrote the keep, he aimed to create an infestation of D&D’s various evil humanoids: kobolds, orcs, hobgoblins, gnolls, and lizard men. Gary favored applying some natural order to his imaginary world, which included various young monsters incapable of fighting.

After slaughtering the orcs’ parents, do you put their infants to the sword? As a player who favored the paladin type, I wanted to right wrongs, not debate whether to murder young. The rogue-types in the party would open the 1977 Monster Manual and point to the word “evil” beside a pig-faced monster, but I had no taste for the baby-orc dilemma. I want to smite evildoers, not kill helpless foes. I’m far from alone in that sentiment. Worse, young non-combatants appear in 8 of the keep’s locations, and then in the countless adventures that follow the keep’s example.

I recommend contriving situations that leave helpless foes out of reach. Instead of populating the Caves of Chaos with generations of humanoids, why not imagine war parties locked in a standoff?

Even though the baby-orc problem rates as something to avoid, other dilemmas can enrich the game. M.T. Black’s adventure The Lich Queen’s Begotten ends with an interesting variant on the question of whether to kill an innocent destined for evil. Both times I ran this adventure, a party of mixed paladin and rogue types chose to protect the innocent—not necessarily the easier choice. Both groups wanted a follow up adventure where they worked to thwart the innocent creature’s evil destiny.

That’s the sort of choice that makes heroes.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Talking Lovecraft with Zaklog the Great!

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Tue, 05/14/2019 - 04:37

Hey, y’all.

Did this show with Zaklog the Great last Friday. Enjoyed talking Lovecraft and Lord of the Rings and… these obnoxious people that poison your mind until you’d begin to think that your “beloved past had never been.”

Lovecraft writes three times that “there was no hand to hold me back that night I found the ancient track.” After mulling this whole scene over in light of the Boomerclypse we’re in the process of rolling back, I’ve concluded that there was in fact a hand there. The hand of wisdom!

I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.

There’s a horror story for you. Don’t let it happen to you!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

DIY Light-Up DC Teekeez Figures

Cryptozoic - Mon, 05/13/2019 - 20:16

With summer on the horizon, it's the perfect time to create your own Light-Up DC Teekeez!  These glowing collectibles are the ideal decorations to give those warm nights a tropical, fun vibe! You can watch the tutorial video, but also remember to read the full instructions below.  As always, remember to be safe!

 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Monsters & Mayhem - Some Alternative OSR Monster Book Options for Dungeon Crawl Classics

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 05/13/2019 - 18:48
What happens when your players know every last classic monster in the Monster Manual, Monster Manual II, & even the Fiend Folio? This applies especially when you want to run something different in a retro clone mod like Dungeon Crawl Classics. Never fear we've got some monstrous options. One of the biggest problems lately that I've found with OSR players? They know all of the classic Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Cult of the Blue Crab

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 05/13/2019 - 11:17
By Rudolf St Germain Studio St Germain 5e/13th Age Levels 3-4

The small city of Shallow Bay is plagued by a gang of smugglers who sell contraband alcohol and luxury foods to the people. The mayor’s expensive lifestyle has depleted the city coffers and the head of the city guard orders his men to investigate the smugglers and put an end to their activities. Unbeknownst to most, the smugglers are a front for a radical chaotic water cult that wishes to sweep earth free of “the wicked”. The money made with the contraband is intended to buy better equipment and hire powerful allies for an expedition to the lost Temple of the Chaos Elemental. By awakening this ancient evil the cult can take the first steps towards their ultimate goal of destruction and mayhem.

This twenty page adventure, describes, in twelvish pages, some smugglers in a big fishing village and two small dungeons of about six rooms each. A competent but simple adventure, it struggles against its formatting choices and lack of specificity in detail. It’s easier to run than most modern dreck.

When is an adventure a sandbox and when is it just an outline? There’s some point of crossover where the DM is given enough information to improvise further and it’s a sandbox and some place else where the DM needs to add some substantial labour. This adventure is somewhere near the dividing line. You can take this, as written, and run it, with little to no more prep. Given that you can’t do that with most adventures today, this is a not insignificant accomplishment. It correctly provides an environment in which the party can have an adventure. A village. The local fence and a few other town personages. The smuggler base. The dungeon underneath. The OTHER dungeon the smugglers want to get to. The supply ship that drops off goods to smuggle. A rough timeline/events that can happen. Now … go run an adventure. You can do that with what’s written. You can’t do that with most adventures. Then again, it’s also VERY basic. Ask some questions, find the fence, pressure him, ambush smugglers, raid base. A pretty cut and dry adventure formula. If I were forced to choose all of the crappy Adventurers League, DMSguild, and others and their shitty formats, or the one used here, I’d have no problem choosing the format used here. It provides a high level overview of the situation and then answers some questions on how folks will react. I’ll take that ANY day over the overwritten garbage that passes for a modern adventure.

But, it’s also playing fast & free with the abstraction. The town is presented in paragraph form, single column paragraph form, on a page and a half. The event that caused the town to act against the smugglers was boat of tollkeepers getting sunk while they were trying to stop the smugglers. That’s as much detail as you get … besides the adventure noting that the party could follow up on that to determine how far out the smugglers are. Am I’m serious when I say I’m now summarizing what’s in the adventure. I’ve just told you everything it says about the situation in as many words as the adventure uses. Another two sentences about grieviing widows, the name of the boat, and some such would not be out of order for such an important event and potential plot point for the party to follow up on. I’m not looking for two pages, or even one, but SOMETHING about the event IS needed if this is going to be an adventure rather than an adventure outline.

It provides some decent support for escalating the situation, with the smugglers, but not really with the town. So while it tries to be a sandbox it does, by leaving out half the adventure, force a certain point of view: the adventure is with the smugglers and any potential complications with the town are not important. But the journey IS the destination in D&D. Just not in bad D&D …

On top of this is fumbling in several areas. It’s one column presentation is almost always a No No, because of well-known readability issues with that format. The town overviews rely on italics in the paragraph to pick out information; whitespace, bolding or bullets would be better. The cult leader is bad because she was raped as a young woman. It doesn’t dwell on her background, but it’s always weird when things like this are used and called out in otherwise generic-ish adventures. It’s weird tonal shift that doesn’t fit. A water elemental is “bound to her service with a collar. LAME. That’s explaining WHY and justifying things. She’s the leader of an evil water cult, of course she has a water elemental. Likewise the use of Sahuagin mercenaries. A tonal thing that doesn’t quite match with the water cult thing the adventure is trying to do. Sent by the evil water god? Sure. Sahuagun mercs though? That implies some setting that is off putting to me. As is the Satyr that acts as the local fence. Magical RenFaire. Bleech. And then, in this village of 600, five thugs are hired to kill the party. Hmmm, again, a tonal imbalance, I think.  The dungeons, the two of them, are more line “art project” one page dungeons, with some small text blocks pointing to rooms, rather than a traditional room/key format.

Take the usual 5e adventure and rip it apart and try to make it less of a railroad. Get rid of most of the text and just put inthe generic-ish essentials. You’d have this adventure. On one hand it kind of resembles the level/amount of detail I use in my home game; a list on a piece of paper with a few words each and some notes on a map. This takes those home notes and adds a few more words and formats it not as modern dreck but as a sandbox-ish adventure.

It’s going in the right direction. The adventure needs to make wiser formatting decisions and provide a little more detail in almost every area. Then you’d have a basic adventure like you might write up in 30 minutes for a home game/the usual 5e adventure. A little investigation, some sneaking, some hacking, some crazy plans, etc.

This is showing up a Monday because the blurb says it can be OSR, with some specific advice for 5e/13th Age. This means “statless, with stat suggestions for 5e/13th Age.” On the one hand I’m kind of intrigued to see that Generic/Universal label applied to modern games like 3e/5e, and games like 13th Age. On the other hand, I’m saddened to be tricked in to something with an OSR label. Sure, I guess, as a generic adventure, it could be OSR. In the same way that any adventure OUTLINE could be for any game.

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $2. The preview is six pages and gives you a good idea of what you’re getting. The first few pages outline the town/cult, and then one of the locales, where the fence hides out, is presented. This gives you a good idea of the one-pager dungeons to come as well as the kind of abstracted/outline/sandbox that the adventure is. All you’re not seeing is the section on how the cults reacts to various events, etc. IE: a little guidance. A VERY little guidance. Which would be enough if the adventure was more sandbox and less outline.


https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/274990/Cult-of-the-Blue-Crab?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Planes of Chaos

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 05/13/2019 - 11:00
Discussing cosmogony with an being of chaos, much less a Chaos Lord, is likely to only led to more confusion. Linear logic, causality, even truth, are concepts beings of Chaos find unnecessarily limiting. Turning to their sacred writ (such as there is) will be of little help, either. The Hymn to Perplexity is composed entirely of questions and no answers.

Still, when they choose to, the ancient monsters and angels of Chaos remember the Godhead, the One that encompassed all. It was no more Order than Disorder, no more Constant than Mutable. If there was a Fall, it was Chaos that was indistinguishable in any meaningful way from what came before; It is Law that is the aberration. And even that aberration was born of Chaos.

Limbo is akin to what the multiverse was before Mechanus, before time itself existed. It is primordial soup from which any concept or being might be instantiate.  Chaos did not remain untainted by Law, however. Form, causality and other concepts gave shape to the previously formless. The border regions coalesced into something different.


Arborea is the home of beings who revel in the the gratification of the senses. They seek to woo other souls to throw off the shackles of Law and experience the pleasures of greater freedom. They never coerce beings into accepting their gifts (such would be a violation of freedom), but mortal souls may not be prepared for the experiences they offer.

The sad, dangerous monsters of the Abyss cling only to the concept of Self. The entirety of cosmos is merely an insufferable dream they can never wake up from. They torment or toy with other beings, even other demons, in attempts to exorcise their irritation. They are seldom successful.


Beach Head - A Mutant Future Encounter or A Post Apocalyptic Old School Encounter For Any

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 05/12/2019 - 20:58
The PC's learn of a haven for mutants,artificials, altered, humans, & peoples  of all stripes  in the deserts  of California. The Ancients state park of Brodie a former ghost town that has been transformed into a seeming heaven on Earth. But there are devils in this heaven & their evil is spreading.  The characters are called to investigate this seeming paradise on Earth. Deep within the Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Number Crunchin Time (Dollar Edition)

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 05/12/2019 - 15:05
One of the things I wanted to do last month was release a whole bunch of product and see what stuck. I wanted to get a sense of how much interest there was in my stuff. Here's a recap since March 1 for five releases:

Stalwart Age Issue 1 (149 Downloads; $23.60 Gross Sales)
Stalwart Age Issue 2 (96 Downloads; $5.16 Gross Sales)
B1: Dungeon Denizens (181 Downloads; $8.65 Gross Sales)
C1: Trove of Treasures (114 Downloads; $4.00 Gross Sales)
D1: Against the Goblins (96 Downloads; $3.05 Gross Sales)

However, for context, there are two other important figures:

Sentinels of Echo City Deluxe Edition (9 Downloads; $78.11 Gross Sales)
A1: Tales of the Splintered Realm Core Rules (44 Downloads; $3.00 Gross Sales)

It's hard to take away anything concrete here, but there are a few general observations about these trends:

1. The primary purpose of the PWYW supplements is to drive sales of the core rules. Since the core rules for Tales of the Splintered Realm are also PWYW, that breaks the whole model. The benefit of Stalwart Age is not necessarily the sales of those supplements, but the way it drove sales of a game that is over a year old. At this rate, each PWYW release for Sentinels could be reasonably expected to generate 3-5 downloads of that game, which is nothing to scoff at. Making $20-$30 for releasing an 8-10 page supplement is a good business model from my end.

2. Stalwart Age 1 did remarkably well; earning over $20 when none of the other PWYW releases got to $10. That's maybe the first issue effect or something, since sales for 2 were in line with other PWYW releases.

3. The fact that the monster book had twice as many downloads, and over 2x the sales, of the adventure was surprising. I guess that the takeaway is to come out with more monster books than adventures; I didn't expect that, but I suppose that's already the model that D+D pretty much established; core rules sell the most, monster books and player guides second, and adventures in third place. My own small sample shows this trend to be true.

What all this means is that I better get going on Stalwart Age #3... that's in the early stages, but I hope to have it out by the end of the month (so I can still put May on the cover). I have a handful of story ideas for it, but I'm working out long-term plot stuff that will help the unify the whole thing later on a little better.

The Dungeon Crawl Classics Rpg Connection Between DA2 Temple of the Frog By Dave Arneson, David J. Ritchie & The World of Mystara

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 05/12/2019 - 02:14
"Green Death... That's what old hands call the Great Dismal Swamp. For centuries, this tangled maze of sluggish watercourses, stagnant ponds, and festering marshes has defended Blackmoor's southwestern frontier. Large armies and smaller parties have disappeared altogether inside its vast, dripping, claustrophobic corridors.Among those who have dropped from sigh in this arboral hell is young Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

(5e) The Curse of Lost Memories

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 05/11/2019 - 11:09
By Christophe Herrbach, Anthony Pacheco
Griffon Lore Games LLC
5e
Level 1

Hey, quick reminder that I have a Patreon. It helps offset the costs of the website and buying adventures. Unlike some, I don’t accept adventures to review; I buy everything I review.

https://www.patreon.com/join/tenfootpole?

In the wealthy Kingdom of Lothmar, hardly anyone remembers the once-powerful Barony of Wailmoor that fell 150-years ago to a terrible demon invasion. But PCs have memories of events that precipitated the fall of Wailmoor, and these memories will haunt them until they travel to the lonely moor and solve the mysteries associated with an old, unstoppable curse. Can the PCs save their minds from going crazy “remembering” events they never lived? And who is the mysterious—creature—that haunts the moor and longs for the embrace of an archangel?

This 218 page adventure is modern storytelling to it’s dying breath. Setting new records in “obfuscation through expansive text”, it’s hard to make out what is going on because of the column long (at least) backstories for everybody and everything in the game world. This is not an adventure. It’s a novelization of an adventure.

Let us examine one of the core mechanics of the adventure: you cannot die. If you die you get rebirthed back at a tree in the central village, with all your stats lowered by one. You can’t go below 8. What, then, would be the purpose of this? Not even in death can you escape the plot of the designer. The plot will go on. And you will be a part of it. Death will not save you. You do get all your stat points back when you level. So, you know …

Clever monkeys will immediately recognize opportunity in this absurdist mechanic. Rebelling against the railroad and lack of agency, let us accept, and in acceptance of our fates find victory, just as in the mystery of the Blue City Lacuna. Take your whole party to stat 8. Charge each combat, doing whatever minimal damage. Finding whatever secrets. Learning the map. Die and reform a thousand times a day. Until, finally, the Storyteller relents and you can wander, freely. The presumption of resurrection abstracted in to a new mechanic. You walk about enchanted, in ecstasy, like the gods you saw dancing in your dreams. Freedom, terrible terrible freedom.

How anyone thought this was a good idea is beyond me. This is, truly, not D&D but a storyteller game. Not a story game. In those you have some control. This is a storyTELLER game. Your agency is near 0. The closest thing to a videogame I’ve seen, the endings may be different, at some point. But the cut scenes are meaningless. Just die and be reborn.

NPC’s get full page descriptions. Paragraphs on how they react at all three friendliness levels. Encounters for third level characters are CR 8 through CR12. Paragraphs of read aloud at every opportunity. The inn serving wenches are all 16-20 year old whores.

The first encounter is chapter one and takes up most of the first quarter of the book. Every NPC extremely detailed. Everything with a background. Names and ages. All to facilitate a forced on flashback. (DC 20 WIS save. If anyone one party member fails it then they all have the flashback.) If someone dies in this first encounter then a noble will step in and heal them. You will not deviate from the railroad.

How much of a railroad? There IS a correct way to complete the adventure. Kill someone? No xp. Convince the noble of your cause? Get 25xp. The designer has determined the correct course of action and you will follow it and only be rewarded at most if you do.

The maps are illegible. You can’t read the numbers or lettering on them. This, the most basic of functionality you need to provide to the DM. The ultimate reference page. Illegible. And this then is the mortal sin of this adventure: it ignores the DM. It doesn’t understand that rule 0, the reason for its existence, is to help the DM to run it at the table. The map is illegible. The text is SO overloaded with verbosity, everything with backstory, everything overly described, that there is no way on earth a DM can use it easily. Multiple readings. Notes. highlighter . Put in your own cross-references to other areas. Invest an absurd amount of work. Everything is so overly detailed that its all meaningless. Who the fuck cares about the tavern wenches or the soldiers? I mean, sure, a few words to give them some personality, three, four, but paragraph upon paragraph? Ages? The names of the soldiers dogs? Seriously? Why not also the names of their mothers, in case it comes up?

At one point it notes a road and mentions several times how hard it would be to get a wagon up it. Uh. Ok. Why? What’s with the wagon? Is that important? At another it offers that “if the party does not accept the trail through the maggot carpet …” uh … what offered trail? Was that mentioned?

If your still with me then your ears picked up at the maggot carpet thing. What’s so fucking bad about this adventure is that there is some good stuff hiding inside. A carpet of maggots and the bones of small creatures, writhing. Nice imagery! The fucking read-aloud is too long, but, still that good stuff! And all of the flashback memories are listed on one table, with triggers and what they impact. Great reference material! The wilderness section of the adventure has varied and interesting encounters, a little combat heavy, but still, leeches and crocs in a swamp, a dull blue glow from under the water if you detect magic …!  that’s great! Hidden treasure. At one point you can reach an overlook in the wilderness and the text summarizes what you can see. Perfect! So many adventures leave out “what I can see from a distance or upon approach.”

But the text, It’s a nightmare. Here’s one small snippet from one object in one room: “The desk does not have anything on it. This desk was used by Humbert, the tower guard as a station for when Silas was in the tower. He sat there, preventing visitors from entering the tower unannounced and providing security should someone try to break into the tower. After the last battle in the Barony, Humbert took everything that was his in the tower and left. He traveled to the Viscounty of Kandra where he died there, like many Wailmoor survivors.”

Note how NOTHING in this text applies to the adventure. Nothing. It’s so closely related to my platonic Dungeon Magazine “looted trophy room” description that it could BE the new platonic idea of bad adventure writing. What the fuck is the point? And it does this over and over and over again. Everything. Everything and Everyone. Mountains of backstory and motivations and details. More than any other adventure I’ve reviewed, it hides the adventure. More is not more, not when it gets in the way and obfuscates the adventure for the DM running it.  This is the writing of a wannabe novelist, not the technical writing of an adventure designer. You’re not writing to paint a rich picture of the world in all its glory. You’re writing for a DM running the thing at the table. Even if we accept the bullshit storytell play style, robbing the players of their agency, even if we accept that, the criticisms stand. It’s unusable without a hard core effort at note taking and highlighting that, essentially, negates the purpose of the text you’ve bought. We’re not supposed to be paying for the fucking backstory.

This nightmare PDF is 20 fucking dollars on DriveThru. 20. Fucking. Dollars. The preview is eleven pages long. Go ahead and read it. Read it all. It is COMPLETELY meaningless. It’s an example of the rich and detailed backstory for the village the PC’s start in. That plays such a small part in the adventure. It’s insanity. Utter insanity.


https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/270071/Curse-of-the-Lost-Memories-5E?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Goodman Games Original Adventures Reincarnated line: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks & The Use of Mega Dungeons In Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 17:05
So I've been doing a lot of research & thinking now that Goodman Games has announced Original Adventures Reincarnated line: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks next. And the announcement has me  thinking about my 2100 alternative World War I game. What would happen if a star ship crashed into a technologically sophisticated world someplace in Europe? What would this mean to a  Victorious/ Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Blogger This For a Lark

3d6 Traps & Thieves - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 15:29

Ten Reasons Why I Like Playing Halfling Characters
1.       No one asks you to be party leader.2.       In fact, everyone insists upon you not leading the party.3.       To be honest, no one wants you making decisions at all.4.       You can use almost any other party member as a mount.5.       No matter how much sugar or caffeine you consume, it’s all “role-playing.”6.       No need to pay attention since everyone either forgets you’re there or tells you what to do.7.       Quoting The Hobbit or LotR doesn’t get you yelled at for breaking character.8.       Sneaking, squeezing, or wriggling out of danger.9.       Traps designed for medium intruders. Halflings don’t get decapitated by scything blade traps.10.   Coming up with silly character names is expected, not derided.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Weird Revisited: Beneath the Fog Sea

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 11:00
The original of this post appeared in 2012...


The children of port cities are wont to crowd the docks when any airship comes in, but none generate the excitement that the return of a vessel laden with strange, subnebulous treasures does. Many’s the young lad or lass who dreams of one day being one of the daring divers who brave weird miasmata and battle strange creatures to win fortune and fame.

The modern world has four strata. The highest is the upper atmosphere of relatively benign flying things. Just beneath are the High-Lands of plateaus and mountain-sides where humanity dwells. Lapping at these lands at the lowest elevations is the Fog Sea, a region of roiling, glowing, multicolored mists. These mists are eldritch things: toxic, mutagenic, or both, with lengthy and concentrated exposure. Inhospitable though this region may be to humans, there are many flying or floating creatures which make it their home.

The deepest depths of the fog shroud the lowest strata: the Low-Lands, the Undersea. Here one may find true oceans of water (gray and toxic from absorbing the overhanging fog), but more importantly, here lie the ruins of a once great civilization. This is thought to be the ancient home of man, before whatever happened, happened, forcing him to seek higher ground. Ancient treasures--both of wealth and knowledge--were left in these ruins. Though sailing a whole vessel through the fog is generally considered too risky a move, divers and diving craft are sent down to reclaim these treasures.


The fog isn’t the only danger. If the strange flying and floating things weren’t enough, the ruined cities themselves are inhabited by monsters. Some are mutated animals, others are humanoids--perhaps the degenerate descendants of the humans left behind. These savages view divers as violators of their territory at best and potential meals at worse. In the shadowy depths, divers do battle with these creatures, steel against steel, as firearms often misfire dangerously when submerged in the fog. The psychoactive properties of the mists have given strange powers to the creatures that dwell in it--but sometimes limited exposure does the same for divers, too.
Despite the dangers of death or loss of humanity, the rewards are great. There is no shortage of youths willing to sign on for a voyage beneath the Fog Sea.

Qwik? What's Qwik?

Two Hour Wargames - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 23:20
Or should we say "What was Qwik?"
It was a game by THW based on the movie Blood of Heroes. "What?" Movie was okay, game was great.
The movie came out 30 years ago, the game came out 8 years ago. "What?!"
Yeah, I know, time flies. And gamers change and games have to change with them. 
What was detailed then, is streamlined now.
What took a while to play, can be played in half the time.
But some things don't change.
Still bloody...still easy to learn...still compatible with After the Horseman. 
But that's another story... :)

More to come.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

What's Old Can Be Renewed

3d6 Traps & Thieves - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 20:16
One thing I really enjoy about the RPG thing is the creation of new settings or milieus. While Avremier is my primary lifelong work for gaming, I do have ideas and visions that just don't fit. Because of this, there are quite a few smaller setting projects in the works (Grayharrow and RedStaff are but two examples).

One of the fun things for me is populating these new settings. Once a distinct flavor has been established, I like to browse through classic bestiaries like the Monster Manual or Fiend Folio, with an eye toward how these old standards might differ or shine in this specific environment.

In Grayharrow, I looked at a lot of monsters with an "eldritch" feel and psionics in mind. For RedStaff, the focus is a variation of Southern Gothic Horror. Today, there is the Pseudo-Victorian tableau of decadent apocalypse called Violet Grimoire. Sorry - there's no titling for that yet. Giving myself a distinct and detailed setting concept allows for a new perspective when making decisions for development. By way of example, here are a few brief jottings from a scan of the Monster Manual.

Ankheg: Worker-type of a species that includes the Umber Hulk as a warrior-type. Banshee: Attached to established families of “true blood.” A sign of status and respectability. Ettin: Engineered to become elite guards or soldiers. More evolved and intelligent. Trained in weapon use. Fae Hound: A version of the Blink Dog, but far more menacing and large enough to ride. Possibly a version of the Enfield. Fungi, Ghost: Large, white morel-type mushrooms that can drift through the air for short distances. Similar to violet fungi, but their touch withers/ages. Fungi, Violet: Basis for an entire ecotype. Sometimes, the touch of violet fungus infects the victim, but not with rot. Violet patterns (like lichen) appear on the skin. Giant, Stonebear: At least one tribe of stone giants has embraced a form of lycanthropy to become werebear berserks.  Lycanthrope, Weretiger: Have formed a distinct race of tiger-featured humans. Controlled shifting. Society of castes. Retain golden-hued skin with striped markings in human form. Eyes do not change and are always catlike. They have a ruler called Lord or Lady Tiger (possibly similar to the Cat Lord). Merman: The only species in the setting has the traits of sharks, not fish. They are savage and deadly. 
And so-on.

I find that most of the details fall into place once a detailed environment has been created for them. And, not even a meticulously detailed environment. For the moment, the Violet Grimoire setting is defined thusly:
THE SETTING

This will be an environment for black comedy and gallows humor. It is also a place for horror of all kinds, even a bit of Mythos horror. It is entirely possible that the entire project will be merged with RedStaff as an epic campaign arc or background plotline.
The setting centers upon the great city of Veriscine, which is the capital of the Imbraiac Regency. A city with a beautiful surface covering decay and darkness beneath. Power, intrigue, desire, betrayal, fear – there must be fear. Always an undercurrent of something terrible lurking just beneath the decadent surface. Of madness concealed behind a crumbling façade of urbane civility.
The Imbraiac Regency is a civilization in complacent decline. The arcane and alchemical arts have been at their peak for generations. Much of arcane science is pursued for the benefit of those that can afford it. Pleasure and longevity are the most worthy goals.
RULERSHIP
The gods were shown to be false and their idols cast down. Then, the horrors of the Unquiet Dark began to stir and turn their attentions upon the world. Mortalkind became prey for the ravening monsters from beyond. In desperation and ignorance, the people turned to nearly forgotten gods of ancient myth for deliverance and protection. Nine Gods of Order with comforting human forms. Nine Lords of Hell that play at being gods and prefer dominion in the mortal world over eternal war in the infernal regions. Diabolic overlords thriving upon worship while seeking true ascension to divinity. During their reign, humanity has suffered little from the predations of alien horrors, and the Nine have proven very effective governors. Better the devil you know.
Well, that's all from the Desk of Mothshade for today. More fun to come.
 
 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Fast Food - A Mutant Future Encounter or A Post Apocalyptic Old School Encounter For Any

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 17:13
All across the Ruined States there  are shops & stores of the Ancients  lighted up and operating.  Seemly well stocked pre-holocaust convenience stores just waiting. Many adventurers and salavagers know better then to try and loot these wasteland murder holes. These incredibly nicely stocked store fronts are actually bio weapon testing beds for Ajax Chemicals. A post holocaust Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[REVIEW] The Hidden Tomb of Nephabti

Beyond Fomalhaut - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 16:30

The Hidden Tomb of Nephabti (2019)by Jeremy ReabanSelf-publishedLevels 5-7
Mummies. Why did it have to be mummies?Should you want to explain the concept of a dungeon crawl to a layman, looting pyramids and Egyptian royal tombs might be your best bet to get across the idea. D&D is often highly esoteric, but pyramids? Those are on TV. The first game session I ever played took place in a pyramid. If you have played AD&D reasonably long, you have probably been to one, too.
The Hidden Tomb of Nephabti is a short tomb robbing-adventure. Of its 17 pages, 8 are dedicated to a dungeon with 23 keyed areas, the rest describing new monsters, gods, and magic items. It is meat-and-potatoes in a good way. If you need an Egyptian tomb, here is one that can fill that spot. It is written and laid out in a straightforward way, and focuses on what matters around the table. It is not going to win any award, or draw hype, but it is the stuff that makes for a nice home game, packaged for reuse.
The rooms are good. Every one of the dungeon rooms has something worthwhile going on: interesting combat setups, magical tricks, interesting and well-hidden treasure, and even good NPC interaction. It does not concern itself too much with mundane elements like rotting linen or sand with bits of broken pottery – it is all about the fantastic side of dungeoneering. A lot of adventures have two or three good ideas hidden in them. This one has several, and much of it is even tied to the local mythology (may contain traces of Cthulhu; time plays another important role). Most importantly, it is all material which invites and rewards PC engagement and experimentation. Look and touch!
One aspect I am finding weaker is the way the rooms are connected. The tomb is laid out in a fairly boring way which looks like the rooms are mostly linked arbitrarily. Nothing of note takes place in the corridors (not even traps or random encounters), and it lacks the vertical elements of a good tomb-crawl. The real pyramids had stairs and air shafts and interior galleries! One or two rooms are positioned in a way that requires some thought to deal with or bypass, but you could mostly just march unimpeded to the final room, and leave the way you came. Not even a lousy pit trap in your path? This needs work!
But all in all, this is a solid, unpretentious scenario with a fake-TSR style cover I have a soft spot for. As I understand from the text, this is the first module of a trilogy, to be followed by The Fearful Fane of Bubastis, and Black Pyramid of the Faceless Pharaoh.
No playtesters are credited in this publication.
Rating: *** / *****
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Lords of the Land

Torchbearer RPG - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 13:00
The Wild Hunt of Odin, by Peter Nicolai Arbo (1872)

Hello friends!

We know that settlements in Torchbearer often have temples and shrines to various Immortals—they’re among the locations you can visit  during the town phase. But the temples and shrines are generic. It’s left to the GM to fill in the details. By default, people in Torchbearer give devotion to many Immortals. Most are simply worshipped collectively as the “Lords.” But it is not uncommon for settlements to pay special attention to a Young Lord: say Yngve the Lord of Sowing, an incarnation of the Lords of Plenty.

These rules are intended to give individual settlements a bit more character by giving you tools to determine which Young Lord a settlement especially reveres. You can also determine which Chaos Immortal (Jotunn) the settlement especially fears and propitiates. These rules are intended to replace the Temples and Shrines section of the Town chapter in Torchbearer.

Use these details to color your settlements and give them character. If you’re making use of the cult rules from Middarmark, these results can help you determine if a particular cult operates in a settlement. And obviously you don’t need to roll on the Immortal Patrons table if you already know a particular Young Lord holds sway in a settlement: Freydis, Lady of Reaping, is the patron of Sunnås in Middarmark, so there’s no need to roll.

The ‘Age’ category is meant to give a rough idea of how widespread a particular Immortal’s worship is: People throughout Middarmark and beyond (e.g., Gottland, Holmsea and Svanland) often recognize ancient immortals, though it is unusual for them to have truly devoted cults; they are frequently worshipped collectively with the Lords rather than as individuals. The worship of old Immortals is widespread and often more organized—though different peoples often have different names for them. Young Immortals are recently ascended—within the past several hundred years. Their adherents tend to be devoted and vigorous in the pursuit of their patron’s goals.

Temples and Shrines

Temples and shrines in towns gladly offer prayers for weary travelers—for a small donation, of course.

Immortal Patrons

Most settlements have small shrines to various immortals, but most also have one particular patron whom they favor with spells and sacrifice. The GM may choose a settlement’s Immortal Patron or roll 3d6 on the following table:

Roll
(3d6)Immortal
PatronAgeSymbolsSpheres of
Influence3Lord of the
Wild HuntAncientHunting horn made
of deer antlers and
bramblesTerror, fear,
hunting, the lost4The Shining
OneAncientA youthful girl, hair
not yet plaited in adult
braids, adorned with a
crown of wildflowersYouth, health,
song, spring5Lady of the
Winter HuntYoungA woman carrying a
bundle of skis, spear
and bow over her
shoulderWinter travel,
storms, winter,
death6Lord of
StrengthYoungA young man seated
upon a throne with a
naked sword across
his kneesNobility, youth,
warriors7Lord of Winds
and SailorsOldA sailor with a cloak
made of feathers;
wind-blown waves; a
mountain wreathed
in cloudWeather, luck,
sailors, journeys
by sea8Lady of BattlesYoungA woman armored and
helmed, her great sword
held point down before
herConquest and
war, courage,
order, protection9Lady of ReapingAncientA young woman with a
basket overflowing with
food; a grim-visaged
warrior brandishing a
spearHarvest, death,
war, fertility, sex,
autumn10Lord of SowingAncientA boar or a naked man
with pronounced genitaliaSowing, plowing
fertility, sex11Lord of VictoryAncientA richly dressed noble
figure on a throne with a
sheathed sword across
his kneesBattle, victory,
rulership12Hearthmistress,
Protector of the
HallOldA queen seated upon her
throne, a spear and shield
at her side; a loomHearth, marriage
children, weaving,
cooking, defense
of hearth and
home13Lord of ForgesOldHammer and tongs; a forge;
a thickly bearded faceCraft and crafters,
swordsmiths,
cunning14The HuntressAncientTwo boar spears crossed;
a bare-chested woman
crouched; a she-wolf
stalkingHunting, wild beasts,
pursuit in love, luck15The
DragonslayerYoungA man painted black and
carrying a spearHeroes, lost causes,
valiant death16Lord of MercyOldTwin idol with his sister,
Lady of Valor; they stand
side-by-side. He is a man
bearing a drinking hornHealth, healing,
recovery, mercy,
justice, drinking17Lady of ValorOldTwin idol with her brother,
Lord of Mercy; they stand
side-by-side. She is a
warrior with a sword and
shieldCourage, bravery,
fortitude, sharp
swords, strong
shields, valiant
death18The DaystarAncientAn ouroboros around the
sunSeasons, sunlight,
time, summer Propitiate Immortals

Not all Immortals are beneficent. There are dark powers who seek the destruction of civilization. To keep them at bay, folk make constant sacrifice, hoping to satisfy the dark immortals’ carnal lusts so they do not visit calamity on a settlement.

To determine to whom the folk of this settlement sacrifice—or to determine which cults secretly lurk in the hearts of the guilds and rulers of this place, roll 2d6 on the following table:

Roll
(2d6)Propitiate
ImmortalAgeSymbolsSpheres of
Influence2-3Captain of the
Dead ShipEternal
(Jotunn)A desiccated
hand from which
the fingernails
have been torn;
a ship made of
fingernailsDeath, undeath,
funerals, sailing
in storms,
curses4-5The Stalking
BeastEternal
(Jotunn)A great black
wolf; a shadow
in darkness; a
giant hand
covering the
moonHunting, wild
beasts, eclipse,
nightmares,
ravening hunger6-7Lady of
EnervationEternal
(Jotunn)A spilled cup; a
bent, lamed
woman; a giant
hand clutching a
warrior womanServants and thralls,
gossip, laziness,
time, cold wet
weather, curses8-9Lord of
WhispersEternal
(Jotunn)A knife tipped with
a drop of blood, a
hand over the
mouth; a coin
stamped with a
skullPolitics, trade,
succession,
assassination,
corruption10-12Lord of
SlaughterEternal
(Jotunn)A raven; a dead
man; a shattered
shield; a giant
crushing a powerful
warriorRavens, ambush,
battlefields, battle
madness, murder Pray at the Shrine

A traveler may pray at the shrine of the Immortal Patron or propitiated Chaos Immortal of this place.

Make Sacrifices

You may entreat the priests of this settlement to make sacrifices on your behalf. You may sacrifice to the Immortal patron or you may sacrifice to a Jotunn Immortal to try to ward off bad luck.

  • Increase lifestyle cost by 1 to represent the sacrifice and roll 3d6 on the Immortal Omens table below.
  • Before rolling on the table, you may test Theologian to call upon the proper Immortals. If successful, you may choose to keep the result that you roll or the next higher result. If you fail, subtract your margin of failure from your result.
  • You may leave a substantial offering—something magical, something worth at least 3D of cash or something unique to the Immortal—and gain +1 to the roll.
  • You may make a propitiate offering to the Chaos Immortal who holds sway over your fate: +1 to the Immortal Omens Table roll; increase lifestyle cost by 1.
Immortal Omens Table (3d6) 2Immortal Darkness: You have angered the combined council of Chaos
Immortals and they curse your prayers to the abyss. You may not pray to
the Immortals at the temple or anywhere (including clerics!) until this curse
is lifted.3Hyrm’s Notice: The shade of someone or something you killed but failed to
put to rest stalks you. It acts as a barrow wight, disturbed spirit or draugr
and grows closer with each town phase, waiting for you in the darkness.4Slaughterer’s Boast: The Lord of Slaughter sings of your deeds. Add one
opponent to each kill conflict until the next town phase.5Whispers: The Lord of Whispers stains your reputation. +1 Ob to all Circles,
Manipulator, Persuader and Orator tests until the next town phase.6The Stalking Beast spurns you: No game or fowl to be hunted while you are
in the wilderness until the next town phase. Not even a mouse. Any attempt
to hunt advances the grind and automatically results in a twist.7Curse of Slow Blood: The Lady of Enervation mocks you. You gain the
exhausted condition.8Death Omen: You see an item, symbol or spell you will soon encounter.
Take the angry or afraid condition.9Baying of the Wild Hunt: Dogs bark and fight outside the temple, drowning
out the prayers of the priests within. All invocations fail during this town
phase and automatically result in a twist.10The Immortals are deaf to your pleas.11Wind’s Laughter: The weather suddenly changes. Roll for new weather.12Swan of Blood: A raven lands on your sacrifice and pecks away a piece
before flying off.13Glory of Elves: You are visited with a vision of events to come. You see a
flash of a place or person you will soon encounter. You may remove the
angry or afraid condition once any time before the encounter comes to pass.14The Huntress’s Wisdom: +1 to camp events while outdoors until the next
town phase.15Hearthmistress’s Favor: +1 to town events and +1D to requests for hospitality
until of your current adventure.16Favor of the Lord of Forges: +1D to craft skills until the end of your current
adventure.17Gift of the Shining One: Any conditions you suffer are cured and you become
fresh.18+Immortal Boon: Add +1D to all tests for class skills during your current
adventure.

Sacrifice Lifestyle Cost: 1 plus 1 if making a propitiate offering.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Planes of Pure Law

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 11:00
The Analects, concerned primarily with the philosophies and doctrines of the forces of called variously Law, Order, Persistence, or Cetitude, are silent on emanation of the first Aeon--The Fall-- where a lesser infinity of the Godhead was broken in some sort of hypercosmic trauma. The first concept to different or separate from formlessness was Order, and everything that was not was Chaos. Thus, the first Syzygy was born.

As Order was elaborated, mind was born. The Prime Mover sought to make the multiverse as precise and orderly as its thought process. It constructed more of himself, a vast planar machine, and called in Mechanus.  If the whole universe were a vast computational engine, it could model the Godhead with such fidelity that it would be the Godhead--or at least the Godhead to the maximum resolution of the fallen universe.
But Unity no longer existed. On the expanding boundaries of Mechanus, interaction with Chaos created doubt, and doubt led to schism. The Boundary Archons became convinced that intellect and logic alone could not describe the Godhead of form Unity. Nor could the necessary transcendence occur by coercion. These seven Archons created the Heavenly Mountain, and at its peak was Abolition of Self, which would transform the souls born of chaos into what the Archons in their certainty knew the cosmos needed.
Other Border Archons believed that the cosmos could only be changed by force. They even dared consider that the former oneness might never be restored--but perhaps a new unity could be constructed. Mechanus's measures were too passive. They had seen the worst of Chaos and the equations of the Machine were not adequate to the task of subduing it. Chaos could only be expunged, and those too weak to resist it would need correction or destruction, themselves. Only the strong would have a place in Unity. They burrowed into Chaos and fixed it with chains called Oppression, and founded Hell.

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