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1d10 Random Encounters With A Revanent or Zombie Horde Table For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 10/20/2020 - 06:55
 Its that time of year when the leaves have fallen & death comes swiftly on the suffling feet of undeath. Adventurers seldom expect them but the un dead travel swiftly. They come for the living to feed & feed well indeed. “From even the greatest of horrors irony is seldom absent.”― H.P. Lovecraft, Tales of H.P. LovecraftThese things lurk around the crypts & forgotten places waiting for their Needles
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The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave #6: Bat Cave

Zenopus Archives - Mon, 10/19/2020 - 18:32

This is an installment of The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave, which starts here.

Area 5

6. BAT CAVE: The only entrance to this cave is the tunnel from Area 5 to the south, a narrow (single-file only), winding, and rubble-filled passage. Moving north through this passage, characters will note increasing humidity, a strong acrid smell, and reddish guano on the floor. 

The cave itself is oval, about 20 ft. east-west and 30 ft. north-south, with many stalactites, some dripping water. The floor is covered in red guano-covered rubble, making it slippery and difficult to traverse (all attacks by characters are made at -4, with a modified 1 on the attack indicating the attacker has slipped). The area is pitch black during the day due to the winding passage blocking light from the south.

Bats. A large colony of vampire bats has taken up residence here, exiting to the surface through the chimney in Area 5. Unless already awakened by noise to the south (see Area 5), during the day they will be asleep on the ceiling, hidden among the stalactites. Characters moving about this room have a 1 in 6 chance of waking them per person in the room, per round (i.e., 2 in 6 for two, 3 in 6 for three, etc), at which point they will begin flying about, hungry for blood. If awakened here, 1d8 of the bats will begin attacking each round.

Vampire Bats, 21-40 (20 + 1d20): DX 18, AC 3 (9 while attached), HD 1/8, hp 1 each, AT 1 bite for 1 point damage, attaches on a successful hit and then automatically drains 1 hp per round for two rounds, at which point it is full and will detach and fly away.

Vampire Bat from "The Handy Natural History" (1910), by Ernest Protheroe. Source: Wikimedia

Old Well. In the northeast corner of the room, there is a 3'-wide hole in the floor where water dripping from the ceiling and running across the floor pools 8 ft. down. A rusted chain is fixed to a piton near the edge, and hangs down into the water. The chain is about 12 ft long, and a metal bucket is attached to the end of the chain, below the surface of the water. If the bucket is pulled up it will be filled with reddish water (fouled by the guano). Etched on the bottom of the bucket is a rough map showing Areas 5-7, including the secret passage in Area 7.

The only exit from this room is back to the south. Follow the link on the above map.

To be continued...

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Monday Anime Cinema: Sol Bianca For Your Old School Space Opera

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 10/19/2020 - 18:28
 Back when I was fortunate enough to go to Anime nights down to game store 30 or so miles away on a Saturday night. I got the chance to see this OVA on VHS. There has never been a DVD release of the movie within the American market. Anyhow I used this series as the basis for a Buck Rogers Rpg game that never made it. There were myriad reasons for using this OVA. The technology in this anime was Needles
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Butcher, Baker, Alien?! - Using the Citybook I: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker series From Flying Buffalo For the Original Traveller rpg & Cepheus Engine rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 10/19/2020 - 16:27
 "25 City-based establishments with over 75 fully-described non-player characters, and scenario suggestions for use with any role-playing system. This book won Flying Buffalo its very first Origins Award in 1982. Maps, portraits, descriptions; everything you need. This book established that you COULD have a GM book that is genuinely for ANY Fantasy Role Playing System, and not just thinly Needles
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Richard Luschek Patreon

Bat in the Attic - Mon, 10/19/2020 - 14:36

I am a long time fan of Richard Luschek's work and hired him to illustrate the cover pieces for the Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG. Recently I learned that he has started a Patreon to share some of his personal work. So far he has posts of character images and stories from the campaigns he has been involved with. 

I am supporting him and looking forward to seeing what he shares in the future. I hope some of you will support him as well.

Richard Luschek II Patreon

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The Crypt in Cadaver Canyon (DCC D&D adventure review)

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 10/19/2020 - 11:11
By Mark Bishop Purple Sorcerer Games DCC Level 2

The Crypt in Cadaver Canyon is a 2nd Level Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure that challenges adventurers to save a hidden desert city (along with its cursed inhabitants) from the wrath of a devious and chaotic god. Its pages are packed with dangerous environments, exotic threats, and a world-shaking finale with thousands of lives on the line!

This 87 page linear DCC adventure contains eleven rooms, of which about eight or so will be experienced. Bursts of flavour, and penchant for dreaming up a weird situation, abound in this adventure, in spite of the rather uninspiring writing and formatting. And the design. The simplistic design. The page count isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds.

Weight divide “D&D” in to two categories of play: exploratory and plot. Older style D&D would be firmly in the exploratory camp, with its gold=xp mechanic. Modern D&D, and the wya most D&D has been played from the late 70’s (I’d guess) follows a more simple “here are a few encounters for tonight” sort of methodology, following a simple A to B to C kind of line. I’m not a fan of it, I think you sit around bored, but I recognize that many people seem to enjoy this way to spend the finite number of seconds until they no longer exist. If we accept that, then we must judge these things by “it’s not an exploratory dungeon” standard. And it’s certainly the case that the vast majority of adventures, and especially DCC one’s with their 3.0/3.5 roots, fall in to that camp. (Which, generally , is why I no longer review them. But, whatever, I’m nothing if not a hypocrite.)

There’s this cliff city. When they execute criminals they then toss their bodies in the river, that quickly runs underground, a symbolic and literal transition to the underworld. Oh, also, they made a pact with a minor god and it’s about to fire & brimstone come true in the destruction of their city unless they can sacrifice someone with a special birthmark before midnight. Also, the last person with that birthmark was executed two months ago and the sent sent down the river, in a clerical mistake. Please, sirs, could you go down the underground river and get the body for us? We’ll then resurrect it and sacrifice it before midnight.

Greenfield thinking! Outside the box! I love it! That’s a DCC thing if I’ve ever heard it! The designer has these sorts of little flavourful ideas over and over again in the adventure. At one point, if you fail a save, you see an eye on your arm and in a round of insanity try to gnaw it off for 1d6 damage. Noice! These little flavourful bits and setups are scattered throughout the adventure and denote a great talent for specificity and the grounding it can bring to a game. Brief, quick hits of detail, that really bring the noise in terms of something for the DM to run with at the table. It’s great!

I mean, it’s great when it happens. Which is not often enough.

For, in spite of these brief flashes of brilliance, the adventure is saddled with more than its fair share of garbage. And while it looks ok on the surface, I believe it is saddled with bad decisions and design.

Looking at the page count we get 87 pages for eleven rooms. Not as bad as it first seems, it’s a digest product. Plus,27 of those pages are handouts, pics for the party to look at, monster standees, etc. And, it does have a decent amount of art. Plus, the background, appendix stuff is well regulated to places that it doesn’t get in the way of running the actual adventure, it true is supplemental. Still, you’re not getting sixty pages of adventure, you’re getting thirty, for eleven rooms.

And, you’re not going to run all eleven, probably. The map is essentially linear with a couple of “forks in the road”, both of which tend to lead to the same place. You can have the left encounter or the right encounter, but you’re going to have the encounter after that. A literal DIsney boat ride, in this case. 

Did I mention the read-aloud? It’s in italics. I know, you’re tired of hearing me bitch about it. And I’m tired of seeing it. Italics is hard to read in long sections, as the page long or half page long read-alouds here are. Put it in a shaded box, or a box, or something else. 

Related to this is one of the openers, a meeting with the town council, in which 13 of them all give a several sentence long soliloquy. Seriously? Some party is going to sit there and listen to the DM read two pages of text? No one is going to break in? No one is going to pull out a phone? This betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of how a D&D game is run. There’s no “Q&A faq”, it’s just a lot of read-aloud. 

This lack of understanding goes further, to the encounters. They are simplistic. To an extreme.

Encounter one: make a saving throw or take damage. Seriously, that’s the encounter. Your boat floats down the underground river. There are eyeballs carved in to the top of the walls, all along the river. They cause you to make a save or take damage. (The aforementioned “gnaw part of your arm off for a round”) Another encounter may be just having a fight. There’s little investigation. Little poking or prodding or getting yourself in to trouble BY CHOICE. Those little moments of brilliance, such as the very flavourful rumor table, don’t make up for what is otherwise just a linear adventure of saves and fights. And while an actual puzzle does show up, involving primary colors (great job on it!) it’s an exception, not a rule. 

Great specificity, in places, without overstaying the text welcome. Great “vision” of things. But poor execution, both in terms of the evocative writing, the encounter design, choice, and clarity in formatting. Clearly, there’s potential here and I’ve love to see more of it, but it needs some experience.

This is $7 at DriveThru. The preview is nine pages, and worthless. It shows you nothing. It should show you one or two encounters, some pretext, a mix of things, so you know what you’re buying. I don’t give a fuck abvout the handouts, art and such. The purpose of the preview should be giving me enough information to determine if I want to buy it. This fails at that.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Star Trek Ranger: Patterns of Vengeance (finale)

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 10/19/2020 - 11:00

Player Characters:
The Crew of the USS Ranger, Federation scout ship:
Aaron as Lt.(jg.) Cayson Randolph
Andrea as Capt. Ada Greer
Dennis, as Lt. Osvaldo Marquez, Medical Officer
Paul as Cmdr. D.K. Mohan, Chief Helmsman
Supporting Cast:Ensign Elana Duffy, Security OfficerLt. Theras ch'Reith, Security ChiefChief Petty Officer Grex, Transporter Chief

Synposis: Captain Greer, still stranded on the Brackett, must defend herself against Lt. T'Sar who is possessed by the Unity, a group mind created in a transporter research accident. The Unity want Janet Hester, the researcher they hold responsible for their creation. On the ice moon of Mycena, Marquez, Duffy, and Theras, go looking Janet Hester and discovered her remains in a crashed shuttlecraft, buried in the snow. 
When shown Hester's body, the Unity dematerialize into subspace with it, freeing the possessed crewmen.
Commentary: This adventure was based on Marvel's Star Trek (1980 series) #8 written by Martin Pasko with art by Dave Cockrum.  

There's a good rundown on the issue here.

Review & Commentary In The Darkness of Space By Joseph Mohr From Old School Role Playing

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 10/18/2020 - 18:19
" A Neoh 'Am Abassador is on a mission to meet with the Qlansie to form an alliance against the aggressions of the Olonsean Empire. An Olonsean Majoor offers to pay well for an assassination of this ambassador before such a meeting takes place. The only problem will have to take place aboard a luxury cruiser liner slowly traveling across the Sonora Sector of space. "Joseph Mohr's modulesNeedles
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Weird Revisited: Bugbear Nightmare

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 10/18/2020 - 14:30

In dark places where nightmares thicken and curdle, bugbears are born. They're gangling things with burning coal eyes that stare out of snarled fur, black and featureless as the night sky between the stars. They haunt abodes of fear and shadow: abandoned houses, ancient ruins, sunless forests; they even squeeze into the recesses of children's closets and the forgotten world glimpsed in the gaps between floorboards. Any dark corner is a door to a bugbear. They crawl out with great sacks clutched in their spider-fingered hands. Snickering, murmuring, they snatch up children and small folk in their sacks and kill those who try and stop them. They drag the children back to their damp, subterranean otherworld, and what happens there is best not discussed.

Besides (one presumes) their kidnapped victims, bugbears subsist on such inedible provender as glass shards, potash, and the heads of rabid bats. They consider certain venomous toads an utter delicacy.

Azurthite bugbears are statted like regular 5e bugbears with the following differences:
Skills Stealth +6
Special Abilities:Plastic. Bugbears can squeeze through spaces as small as 1 inch.Shadow Stealth. While in dim light or darkness, a bugbear can hide as a bonus action.Sunlight Weakness. In bright sunight, bugbears have a disadvantage to attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws.

Review & Commentary on JG3: Dark Tower D20 & Hacking The Adventure With Castles & Crusades

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 10/18/2020 - 05:42
"An ancient evil has overtaken a once holy shrine. Thus, a sleepy mountain hamlet becomes a focal point for mysterious disappearances and even stranger legends of what lurks beneath the village. Vile enemies and strange allies, knowing neither sleep nor age, seek to involve the unwary in a titanic battle of good vs. evil. Do you dare discover the secrets behind the myths, or attempt to Needles
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Hartford Beta Max Black Book Stars With Number Campaign Notes - The Talon Sector Now With More Cha'alt - Zero Session Campaign Workshop

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 10/17/2020 - 16:22
 If I'm going to tell the campaign setting of the Talon sector then its gonna be through the lens of  Rogahn the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown.  There are several reasons for this but there's a lot of real world stuff behind some of this campaign switch up the least of which is Covid's impact. For the last couple of months a number of campaigns of mine have collapsed because of Covid & the Needles
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The Maze

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 10/17/2020 - 11:12
By M.A. Bastarrachea Magnani Axo Stories OSR/5e/Pathfinder Level ?

The Maze is a flexible, 464-page mega-adventure that easily adapts to OSRs, dungeon crawls, and any d20 system.

This 464 page thing is a setting and adventure generator. Not an adventure. 

Do you like Kingdom Death? Did you like The Maze Runner? Do I have good news for you!

You can now own this thing in order to play a Kingdom Death/Maze Runner mashup! It’s a campaign setting. You wake up in an underground room and some dudes take you to this bonfire with an old elf who explains shit to you. You can make dives in to the mazes rooms and come back with resources so everyone can live while trying to find pieces of The Ultimate Weapon (thats a setting thing, not my hyperbole.) Every time you leave a room you gain a level, until you’re level 12. Then you have to defeat a boss monster to gain a level. The book has new monsters, magic items, rules for resources and running the “bonfire” home base, and a generator/guidelines for creating your own set piece rooms. A decent number of the rooms come out The Cube movies, or their kin, while others re just massive abstractions. New classes, etc. It’s all in here. Each session the party explores a room, deals with the thing, and comes back to the bonfire to level and fully heal. 

There’s some guidelines for converting the stats to 5e or Pathfinder, but nothing for the OSR. And that’s all a stretch anyway, because what this is is a heartbreaker. Someone wanted to write that Kingdom Death/Maze Runner world and published it as an adventure, slapping it in the adventure setting, writing a marketing blurb that it was a mega-adventure, and putting 5e/Pathfinder/OSR on it so it wouldn’t be touched by the “heartbreaker” kiss of death. 

I am clearly not amused by my purchase.

I will, however, go through the process of making a room, just to fill a word count. 

Youroll seven times. First, the room. There are 100 of them. (The Create a Room section takes about a hundred pages, with the other 300 being background/resource/campaign data.) Let’s say we get Deep Tombs. What follows is a page of text that generically describes this locale. Colossal chambers that some believe are buried deep inside the maze. They were carved by blah blah blah. Several levels connected by black stais. Endless rows of crypts and coffins, made of black Marble or Granite with dwarf skeletons inside laying dormant. You roll for the number of levels, how may d100 skeletons there are, get a sentence on looting steel skeleton armor and a % chance to get part of the ultimate weapon. The second roll is conditions, so maybe a necromantic mist inside this “chamber”, or some other party or its raining or something. Then you roll for the number of exits, how long until an ext door appears, some loot and who’s in there and if there are any “mimic” monsters. From this the DM can prep some adventure ahead of time to run. Oh, also, there’s a 1% chance you just die in each room generated. Yeah!

Look, I don’t know. Maybe this is fine as a campaign setting. If I were looking for Kingdom Death/Maze Runner then maybe it’s an ok thing, with its resource rules, etc. But that’s NOT what I was looking for. I was looking for an adventure. Not an adventure generator, and a generic one at that. And one that isn’t even 5e/Pathfinder/OSR at that. Is that what you want? Great. I didn’t want that. This “Adventure” is why we can’t have nice things. 

This is $20 for the PDF at DriveThru. Whatever. I don’t even care anymore.

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Forbidden Secrets Of The Lamp - OSR Campaign Commentary On Ray Harryhausen's 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad' 1958

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 10/17/2020 - 00:15
 Top notch adventure as our hero Sinbad must rescue a princess who has been miniaturized and held captive by a ruthless magician. All sorts of obstacles are thrown in Sinbad's way, including the famous swordfighting skeleton. © 1958,"Sokurah the Magician: From the land beyond beyond... from the world past hope and fear... I bid you Genie, now appear. "I'm trying to remember the first time I saw 'Needles
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'The Changing Face of Gaming' Some Thoughts on Imagine issue #3 - "Basic or Advanced?"By Noel Williams article

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 10/16/2020 - 17:27
 One the interesting relics of yesteryear was Imagine magazine  & yes its the house organ magazine that was supposed to be part of the  TSR UK Limited line. Yeah the history is there but that's not what's on my mind today. There's a very interesting article in Imagine  issue #3 that tackles a problem that we see in the OSR again & again on social media.  I'm talking about the  "Basic or Advanced?Needles
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Review & Commentary Cepheus Atom By Omer Golan-Joel For The Original Traveller rpg & Cepheus engine rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 10/16/2020 - 16:13
 "The bombs fell. Nations wielded varied and monstrous weapons against one another. Fires, clouds of poison, and worse have swept the world. Now only the savage Wastes remain: haunted by mutants, deranged robots, and genegineered monstrosities. But from the fire, heroes and villains rise: tribals, survivors, mutants, all the warped remnants of Humanity. Armed with primitive weapons, pre-Collapse Needles
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Our AI future and Tabletop Roleplaying

Bat in the Attic - Fri, 10/16/2020 - 14:40

 What I hope for and think will happen, is something like this.

So you want to create a setting and populate it. 

Most folks I know generally has two or three dozen ideas going into this. It may be more but there is some limit. Once you start working beyond this limit it become a bit of a chore and not fun as a hobby. The good news is that most of time you can start small. If you keep the result of what you do for the next campaign then within a few years you will find yourself quite a bit of detail for your setting and that was fun to create.

In my experience a lot of the reason this stuff is not fun is because it is repetitive work. It fine when you describe the first handful of shopkeepers. When you try to describe the 20th often it is not as fun unless some time has passed to recharge your creativity.

A great set of random tables can overcome much of this but even they have their limit. For example Traveller does a great job of generating sectors. But even that process breaks down if you tried to use to generate an entire Imperium of 16 sectors or more.

But what if we didn't use even a great set of random tables? What if we used a trained neural network instead? What if it was setup not just randomly generate but randomly generate with the two to three dozen ideas we already had? 

You tell software or webpage take what you already thought of. Then it will generate the rest around it. In addition after it done, you can review the results and have re-generate the elements you don't like. 

Maybe the result is partially there but needs to be tweaked. So you edit it and then have it regenerate the rest of that specific element. As a bonus it would be nice to drill down to the level of individual character.

What make this possible, is something I noticed about the best random tables. That they seemly capture the author experience with the subject of the table. Whether is something specific like traps, or magic items. More general like a dungeon maze. Or expansive as an entire galaxy worth of sectors. 

While it doesn't replace our creativity, random tables allow us to extend it by using the wisdom of the author of the table. The same with the use of AI software. 

Now that I can see being very useful tool for the hobby.

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"Frontiers in Brain Research": Audio of Holmes' Neurology Lecture at Worldcon in 1978

Zenopus Archives - Fri, 10/16/2020 - 13:43
Flyer for World Con 36 aka Iguanacon. Click for a larger view.

Here's a forgotten artifact that has just resurfaced
: an audio recording of a lecture given by J. Eric Holmes at Worldcon 36 in 1978 (aka Iguanacon; each one has a unique name). It's titled "Frontiers in Brain Research" — Holmes was a professor of neurology at USC — and is almost hour and half in length! 

A direct link to the recording, which you can download & listen to like a podcast:

Frontiers in Brain Research

(214.5 MB mp3, length 1:29:22)

The recording starts with announcement identifying it as a product of Cassette Communications Corporation, a company that made recordings at the con and then offered them on sale for $6 a tape to con-goers. Here is their flyer from World Con 36:

Click on the image for a larger view

Per the flyer, if you ordered six tapes ($30), you received received a bonus "custom album" holder; I found a picture of one of these from an old Ebay auction of Harlan Ellison recordings:

There are a few technical glitches in the recording: Holmes was already speaking when the recoding began, so there is no introduction, although it is still clearly near the beginning where he is outlining what he will be talking about. There is also a break in his speech not too far in where the recording seems to have been stopped and started again. And there is some background hiss, not unexpected for those of us that remember audio cassette recordings.

But overall this is a real treat: we get to hear Holmes speaking clearly (the first time I have heard his voice!) and at length on a topic that he knows extremely well. He keeps it light with periodic jokes and the audience is very enthusiastic, asking many questions; the last half-hour or so is a Q&A following the lecture.

The recording is hosted on AZFandom (Arizona Fandom), "a site dedicated to Arizona fandom from its beginnings in the late 1960s to its future in the years to come", which has a page for conventions held in Arizona, including one for Worldcon 36, which includes a section of audio recordings.

The Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fan preservation site Fanac also has a page with a wealth of documentation of Worldcon 38 / Iguanacon.

Per the Pocket Program, Holmes gave his lecture from 11:30 am to 12:45 pm on Saturday, September 2nd, 1978 in the Phoenix Room of the Hyatt Regency, shown here: 

Sketch of the Hyatt from the convention program

I asked Chris Holmes about this, and he recalls attending this convention with his father but no other details. To put this in context, this was less than a month after they had attended Gen Con XI (Aug 17-20), where J. Eric Holmes was a Guest of Honor, gave a lecture on "Fantasy Literature, Fantasy Art & Fantasy Gaming", and ran two D&D games, D&D For Beginners and D&D on Barsoom.

Chris (left) and J. Eric Holmes (right) at Gen Con XI. Source: Dragon #20

Full page ad for Gen Con XI that mentions Holmes, which ran in Dragon #15 and #16.

Holmes had a history of presenting research in his area of study for the science fiction fan, having written several science articles for the magazine Analog Science Fact and Fiction, including:

He later went on to co-author, with David F. Lindsley, a college textbook titled Basic Human Neurophysiology, which was published in 1984 by Elsevier:

Enjoy the lecture!

See also

J. Eric Holmes Photo Gallery

Podcasts & other Audio Recordings of Interest

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Universal Monster Ravenloft

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 10/16/2020 - 11:00

Over at at Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque, Jack points out that it would be trivially easy to have Strahd meet Dracula given the underlying conceits of Ravenloft. I wonder why we need Strahd at all? Why not replace the Darklords with the Universal Studios classic monsters? We might call this version Karloft because... well, why not?

The Mummy, Dracula, and Frankenstein (the Darklord would probably be Victor rather than his monster), would fit right in. The Invisible Man and the Phantom of the Opera ought to have their place too. The realm of the Creature from the Black Lagoon would be a bit of departure from the usual Gothic horror trappings, but I think it could be done.

AD&D Session 23: The Ogre-Manticore-Centipede Trifecta

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Fri, 10/16/2020 - 00:36

So this game, I came in not too excited to play through another one of my one page dungeons. After playing 18 sessions with little to no prep, I just was not enjoying running games where (a) I knew every single thing that would be relevant to the session and (b) having to put up with the players playing completely “wrong” either one way or the other– by either following the overcautious algorithm searching for the path of least danger or else COMPLETELY DOMINATING my little original scenarios with little or no challenge. Of course, the players don’t mind the latter especially if the loot is good. There is some satisfaction in the campaign progressing even if an individual scenario is not the greatest.

Anyway, this session the players very quickly selected my “farmers in town looking for help to rescue their daughters from goblins” hook. They latched on this one so hard I could not review the many loose threads that the campaign has managed to produce. On the other hand, this hook has been on the table for many weeks. The daughters that could be rescued are likely either dead or else pregnant with goblin babies by now. Time combined with genuine player autonomy has a way of corroding the usual adventure premises. One more reason why a megadungeon is the natural outgrowth of how Gygax conceived of the game. Nothing else sticks! Real campaigns chew up anything approaching story type elements and just spit them out. A monster dungeon that exists for no real reason is the only thing that truly derives from the rules!

(Side note: Fagor wanted to look for henchmen, which I had largely handwaved as being largely automatic. The DMG has specific rules covering this, though. I read out the options for how he could pursue this and then rolled a percentage chance adjusted by his local noteriety. He spent like 219 gold to FAIL to find a henchman. Wah!)

(Side note 2: Due to time dilation effects, Fluid the Druid was working out a deal to get some Strength 18/00 potions from Zanzel Malecthones. Chaz was out training Druggo Hairycock to be a second level thief. This combination of events led to a session with no thief and no heavy hitting spellcaster!)

So the players start asking about this weeks old adventure hook. But now we’ve worked through using the Gygaxian wilderness travel rules with multiple wandering monster checks per day and the chance for getting lost to boot. The players are really concerned about going on another journey that lasts 14+ days which ends up putting their new characters out of play or maybe even forking the campaign. People are so alarmed by real AD&D timekeeping and its consquences that this is seen as practically as bad as a total party kill. I love the timekeeping stuff, though. So I place the farmer’s village southwest on the other side of the Mountains of Madness. It’s a five day journey, so this group of chracters will miss the next week’s session if they manage to go there and back again in a single session.

The players take a bunch of rations and head out. I roll for wandering monsters at the civilized and plains frequencies/chances. On the evening of their first day’s travels I get 200 goblins with 20 wolves. Why this encounter on the very day we decide to take the goblin themed adventure hook? And what does it mean?

The players do a little reconnaissance. I figure this is early morning for the goblins and make up a table to determine their reaction at this time. The alarm is not sounded and the players are not run down by goblins riding the 20 wolves. The party marches on into the dark giving the goblins wide berth and set camp a reasonable distance away. There does not seem to be any pursuit.

The next day in the sparsely populated hills, the players encounter four Ogres. The players got surprise and then opted to just let them pass. They then decided to follow their tracks back to where they came from– hopefully to a lair with lot of treasure. They come to a keep and I make up another random table to determine if it was a lair or if the Ogres were just passing through here. [DM note: 1-9 Lair, 10-11 Just passing through, 12 Dungeon!] It’s a lair. But it is also time to check for wandering monsters again, which just so happen to occur. So four manticores are flying out of the ruined keep directly at the players!

I roll the encounter distance and the players declare they are running to the keep to take cover right under the manticores. We look at the movement rates compared to the distance and I (probably incorrectly) rule that the manticores get 1/4th of their normal ranged attacks. (Probably should have been all or nothing.) A couple of characters get hit for negligible damage and the players are inside.

The manticores decide not to rush the players due to the confined environent. They are waiting outside to rain manticore spikes down on them should they try to leave. Besides, the Ogres should be back soon anyway, so either way, hilariaty should ensue on way or the other!

The players explore the ruined bailey they are in and discover a huge penny jar, a large cauldron, and a size forty-seven shoe. They also find what would be a mousehole to the keep’s inhabitants but which to the players is a large passageway. [DM note: 1-9 small exit down, 10-11 large passage down, 12 nothing! Also, 1-9 no secret door, 10-11 secret passage, 12 secret passage to manticore “nest”!] They players opt to explore and I roll up a single room on the random dungeon generator. I get monster + treasure, level 2 monster, ten centipeeds, 1000 silver, and 100 platinum. The players get initiative and handily defeat these low level monsters. When they realize that these “snakepede” looking creatures are likely poisonous, they concoct a plan.

They head back to the cauldron and brew up the poisonous bits of the centipedes and then dip all their arrows into it. [DM note: the Ogres arrive while the PC’s are cooking on a natural 12 on d12– didn’t happen!] There are lotsa rules on this in the DMG about who can and who can’t use poison, but it’s after 9pm so I tell the players that I stop consulting the rules when it is this late. They send three people up the tower to snipe at the manticores while the rest of the players make a barricade in order to force any charging manticores to enter the keep one at a time.

The players hit with three ranged attacks and one manticore fails a save versus poison. The overconfident manticores charge inside. A tremendous brawl ensues with the manticores taking heavy damage. Their claw/claw/bite routine should be pretty good against first level characters, but I keep rolling ones for damage when they do hit.

The dust settles and somehow the players have taken no casualties and made off with a fairly decent treasure haul. They debate whether to continue on to the farmer’s village, but if they go back to town a few of them can level. Yet another session concludes with the players all back in town.

I really liked this session because it was pure AD&D, entirely derived from the random tables in the DMG– ie, wilderness encounter checks and random wilderness encounters modified by time of day,surprise, and encounter distance. The random dungeon generation sequence which is rote after making many one page dungeon was there to do what it was meant to do: allow play to continue with barely a pause when the players went outside of my prep and the game called for a new dungeon to be created on the fly. The best of our early sessions were way more fun than my recent one page dungeon exercises because high risk / high reward situations are intrinsically more exciting. Also, we got back to more of the freewheeling, wahoo! improvisation that we hadn’t really seen as much of since way back in “Schewerpunk of the Pig Men.”

It is very gratifying to see the actual game system support and enhance the style of play that I think the group collectively prefers even while being faithful to the implied milieu of many of the game rules. The longer the game goes on, the more important it is that I have a consistent, well thought out, and fair way to adjudicate the bread and butter situations of the game. AD&D really seems shine in that regard. The more of the obscure rules your incorporate, the less work it is to manage the game world for whatever greedy and craven band of yahoos it is that decide to show up on a Thursday night!Cast o’ Characters:

Treasure and Experience:

5000 cp, 3 pieces of jewelry worth 800 gp each, 1000 sp, and 100 pp. Total gold value is 2975 gp; divided 9.5 ways this is 330.5 gold each with 165 each for the henchmen. 4 manticores, 10 centipedes, and 4 ogres (which were killed later when they came back and ate the manticore meat) total up to 3658 xp. Adding in the gold it is 6633. Divided 9.5 ways, this comes out to 698 for player characters and 349 for henchmen.

Cast o’ Characters:

Sauterelle — Human Novice (Session 22 and 23) 1517 + 698 = 2215 XP and 1376 + 330.5 = 1706.5 gold. [Can’t level this time because monks don’t get prime requisite bonuses!]

Roofus — Human Acolyte (Session 22 and 23) Frozen at level 1 until he levels! 1376 + 330.5 = 1706.5 gold. (looks like buff george carlin)

Malbert the Veteran (9 hits) [Delves 2, 3a, 3b, 8, 20, 21, and 23] XP: 122 + 753 + 351 + 0 + 239 + 400 + 698 = FROZEN AT LEVEL 1 UNTIL HE LEVELS. Potion of Strength 18/00. +330.5 gold from session 23.

Brother Parvus the Wayward — Human Acoylte (Delves 19[F], 22[F], and 23.) FROZEN AT LEVEL 1 UNTIL HE LEVELS! 1439 + 330.5 = 1769.5 gold. [Can’t level this time because he would need 3500 gold to level right now. Simpings and nudy magazines come at a high price!]

Fagor the Half-Orc Swordsman— Level three fighter. [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 6b, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20, and 23] — 4000 + 1816 + 106 + 239 + 698 = 6859 XP. His horns have grown incredibly large. Looks frightening and diabolical. Cloven hooves His name means “astonishing hero” in orcish. Member of the Order of the Knights of Trollopulous. (330.5 gold in session 23.)

Logan — [Delve 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20, and 23] Plate mail and shortswords. 333 + 70 + 76 + 875 + 31 + 80 + 165 = 1630 gold and 362 + 35 + 95 + 264 + 908 + 53 + 119 + 349 = FROZEN AT LEVEL 1 UNTIL THEY LEVEL!

Nasty and Dernhelm — [Delve 12, 14, 15, 19, 20, and 23] Just a codpiece and a spear. 333 + 70 + 76 + 875 + 31 + 80 + 165 = 1630 gold and 362 + 95 + 264 + 908 + 53 + 119 + 349 = FROZEN AT LEVEL 1 UNTIL THEY LEVEL! (Trained for dedicated grappling)

Peero the Sweeper — [Delve 19 only] 53 + 119 + 349 = 521 XP and 31 + 80 + 165 = 276 gold. [Note 15 strength and seven hit points!] Has antique monocle from 5th aeon.

Bob Dobs — Human Veteran/Acolyte (Session 22 and 23) XP at 758 + 349 = 1107 for each of Fighter and Cleric classes. 1376 + 330.5 = 1706.5 gold.

Tree Fingers the Ranger (Session 23 only) 698 XP and 330.5 gold.

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OSR Commentary on Halloween Hacking Into the D20 Wilderlands of High Fantasy Using The Castles & Crusades Rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 10/15/2020 - 18:20
 So there's been a lot of developments on the Wilderlands of High Fantasy front. We've been storming through the book & inveribly the witch class popped out at me from the D20 player's guide. The reason for this is the recent release of the Castles & Crusades Kickstarter. There are several things that I've noticed with both the old D20 & new C&C material. There's a Hell of a lot of hints coming Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


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