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A Bit Of OSR Campaign Commentary On Gary Gygax's G1-3 Against the Giants & A0-A4: Against the Slave Lords Compilation Book By David "Zeb" Cook, Allen Hammack, Harold Johnson, & Tom Moldvay

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 16:32
"Giants have been raiding the lands of men in large bands, with giants of different sorts in these marauding groups. Death and destruction have been laid heavily upon every place these monsters have visited. A party of the bravest and most powerful adventurers has been assembled and given the charge to punish the miscreant giants. "Here's the back history on G1-3 according to the Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On More Buildings

Hack & Slash - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 15:36
As promised, two more buildings in the series.
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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Fantasy Medieval Style Law. Part 1

Bat in the Attic - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 15:25
Recently I created an example of how fantasy medieval legal system would work. I talked about this in a series of posts about building a feudal setting called Of Overlords, Kings, and  Barons. Of course there is a Harn Article on the subject called simply Law.

The Incident
The PCs are sitting in the Rusty Keg tavern in the City of Eastgate enjoying a meal and a drink after concluding a deal for a map that will lead them to the Barradine Ruins, their current focus. From two tables over, Michael Greene and his friends start mocking one of the party's member, Sigurt the Bold a Northeron. He is a member of the Greene family a local merchant family who works the northern trade routes. Northeron raider are one of the more serious threats that the family has to prepare on their trading voyages. As a result there is little love for Northerons from Micheal or his family.

Michael is drunk and starts making loud comments about SIgurt. His friends join in as well. Finally Sigurt had enough and walks over and just clocks Micheal after deciding that he can take on the whole lot if need be. Micheal jumps on top of Sigurt and the fight is on. Micheal's friend are about to jump but stops when the whole adventuring party stands up. The fight is between Micheal and Sigurt.

A few blows are traded by Sigurt has the upper hand being a veteran warrior. Unfortunately a few rounds in, Sigurt's player rolls a critical hit. Not only Sigurts puts Micheal down but also kills him.

The Aftermath
The tavern goes silent. Corbin, the leader of the party, decides that it is best not to stick around. He gives the barkeep 50 gp for the trouble caused. Then the party leaves and returns to the Wyvern Inn where they have rooms.

The barkeep, who also the owner of the Rusty Keg, goes over to Micheal Greene's friends and tell them to pick up Micheal's body and bring him to a back room. Then the barkeep start questioning Micheal's friend who are they and who is Micheal. Eastgate is large enough that not everybody is recognized on sight. However the Barkeep has heard of the Greene family and is well aware of their status as a merchant family. So the barkeep grabs his son and tell one of Micheal's friends to take his son to the Greene house.

A 1/2 hour later, Aldus Green and his eldest son and heir Marcus Greene arrive at the Rusty Keg. Sad and angered at the death of his younger son, Aldus tells Marcus to start questioning people as to what happened. While a lot of the patrons have left a few remained who saw everything. Between them and Micheal's friends, Aldus and Marcus gets a general description of the party, and along with the name of the person who they met, Lado Thorne a chandler local to the ward.

The Investigation
Aldus and Marcus secure a cart from the Barkeep and transport Micheal's body back to their house. It is almost midnight when this is done. Because it is night time Marcus gather a guard wakes up a handful that work for the family. Picking those who have brawled or can fight. They march through the street towards Lado's shop.

Along the way, a City Guard patrol stops them and asks their business., Marcus explains that his brother was killed and they were on their way to Lado's shop to question him about the identity of the killers. That they intend no violence. The guard corporal in charge of the patrol knows from experience that tempers are high. So he tells Marcus that he may go but only if one of the guard accompany to act as a witness.

Marcus agrees knowing that his family hasn't done anything formal yet. So the guards are well within their authority to order Micheal and his posse to turn back. But the guard corporal knows about the Green family and their status. Since the purpose of the posse is to question Lado it fine as long as it doesn't get out of hand. After Marcus leaves with his posse and the assigned guard.. The corporal sends a runner back to the ward's barrack to let the Sergeant and Lieutenant know that a murder took place and that the Greene family has sent out a posse.

Marcus, the guard, and the posse arrived at Lado's house. After pounding on the door for a few minutes, Lado open a window and ask their business. He becomes a little frightened at the posse below, he calms down a little when he see a guardsman with them. He lets Micheal and the guardsman into his shop and they begin to talk.

As a rule most proprietors including Lado keep quiet about their customer's business. However when Lado learned that Micheal Green was killed in a bar fight after he left. He quickly identifies the adventuring party to Micheal and to the guardsman as a witness. He also happen to know through the dinner conversation with the party that they are staying at the Wyvern Inn.

He doesn't tell Marcus what his business with the group was about. Telling Marcus that his father can talk to Tomas, the guildmaster of the Chandlers if the Greenes want to know. However that discretion doesn't extend to protecting his customer from a murder investigation.

The Writ
It been a long night so far with no end in sight, Marcus leaves Lado's shop. He tells the city guardmen that the Greens are going to keep watch on the Wyvern. The guardsmen acknowledges and asks for an escort back to the barrack. Marcus does this as well as send his own guard and one of other employee to watch on the Inn for the remainder of the night. Afterwards Micheal returns home and spends the remainder of the night comforting his mother.

Rob's Note: Aldus doesn't authorize Marcus or any of those who work for them to go into the Inn and grab the party as the Inn is the property of a innkeeper who in good standing with the innkeeper's guild. Innkeeper are expected to protect their guests and safeguard their property as one of their responsibilities. With a writ from a Alderman, the Greenes have no recourse to wait until they secure one. However if Sigurt or the party steps out of the Inn then they are fair game.

In the morning the party wakes up and has breakfast and plans the day's shopping in order to prepare to leave for the Barradine Ruins the following day.

At the earliest possible hour, Aldus Greene and his son Marcus head over to Alderman Angus Mallory's house. The Mallory family have long been friends of the Greens. The Mallorys own one of the largest weaving establishments in Eastgate and the Greenes often ship their linen and wool to distant ports.

Aldus reports the murder and has his son Marcus swear to the particulars. Alderman Mallory is more than willing to accept their sworn oaths and issues a writ authorizing the Greene to seize Sigurt's person and transport him to the nearest jail to await a hearing. The writ further allows the Greene to call on the CIty Guard as the accused is reputed to be a member of an adventuring party. Aldus pays the Alderman two shillings (24 sp) for the writ.

While the party is eating breakfast and planning their day. Aldus and his son Marcus are gathering every guard and employee they have along with sending a runner to the ward barracks to ask for a patrol to be on hand.

This takes time so the party conclude breakfast and break up to go shopping and prepare for the expedition. The two men that the Greene station see this and start to follow Sigurt. Sigurt is in the company of Thil the Cowled, a mage, and their job is purchase rations and other consumables for the expedition. Ironically they head over to Lado's shop.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Two D&D Feats Everyone Loves (For Someone Else’s Character)

DM David - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 11:15

In February, the folks at D&D Beyond shared the most popular feats among their users. The favorites included entries I would expect. The top three all appeal to risk-averse players building a wide range of characters.

Hate losing spells to failed concentration saves? Take War Caster. Hate damage? Take Tough and make damage hurt less. Hate flubbing rolls? Take Lucky.

Ranking 4th, Sharpshooter suits fewer character types, but it proves so powerful that it rates as the worst thing in D&D.

Well past the broadly useful and the overpowered, the list includes Sentinel and Polearm Master. These potent feats suit narrow character types—often characters built with the feats in mind.

For me, the surprise comes from two powerful feats that failed to rate.

Inspiring Leader lets your group finish every rest with temporary hit points equal to your level + your Charisma modifier. It grants something close to Toughness to everyone in the party.

Healer lets you spend one use of a healer’s kit to restore 1d6 + 4 hit points, plus additional hit points equal to the creature’s maximum number of Hit Dice. A creature can only regain hit points this way once between each rest, but this still counts as the cheapest healing in the game.

Why do so few players choose these outstanding feats? Perhaps because the character taking the feat only gets a small benefit for themselves. These feats’ strength comes from lifting the whole party.

Related: 10 Ways to Build a Character That Will Earn the Love of Your Party

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Some Thoughts On Adventurer, Conqueror, King, Rpg's Lairs & Encounters Book

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 06:45
"Lairs & Encounters™ is the ultimate supplement for fantasy RPG sandbox campaigns. Designed for use with the Adventurer Conqueror King System™ (ACKS™), it is readily compatible with other fantasy role-playing games built on the same core rules."If there is one other book besides the Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg rule book that I love its the Lairs & Encounters book. I've used it more timesNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Design Noodling in the 2d6 Space

The Viridian Scroll - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 06:07
TLDR: I couldn't sleep so I made a game. Skip down to Give It a Name! to get past the process notes.

If you were to ask me what my favorite die was, I would probably say the d6. While it's odds are rarely intuitive or seemly, there are so many things you can do with it that are interesting and quick to read at the table. The point of this is that I am up late tonight working on yet another way to use these basic cubes to make an interesting resolution engine. 
The IdeaHere is the game in a nutshell:
Roll 2d6 and get 8+ to succeed. If you have a relevant skill, power, or specialized bit of gear you can "push" and roll 3d6 instead, and drop the lowest die. Succeed or fail, your highest die indicates the degree of success/failure. A high die on successes is the damage you do. (No separate roll to resolve damage.) 
The odds work out that you succeed 41.67% of the time on 2d6 and 68.06% of the time on a roll 3d6. Which is kind of nice in that 3d6 puts you above the 50-50 threshold, AND moves the middle of the curve above the 8+ success line. 
CriticalsSuccess is its own reward, since you do more on a high roll. But I wanted to give the GM permission to screw people (make a "move" in PbtA parlance) when a player rolled really poorly. So I started with the idea that any failure that includes a 1 is a critical fail. That was problematic because the odds were way too high (31% on 2d6, 19% on 3d6) and it ran counter to the idea of high die (not low die) indicating degree. In fact, the idea of high die indicated degree of failure as well as success came after I looked at the odds. Before it was high die on success, low die on fail.
As a result, a critical fail became any failure that included a 6. The odds of that came out to 5.56% on 2d6 and 1.39% on 3d6. That seems to be in the right range and I left it there for a while. But as I was jotting down design notes, I realized two things:
Raising the BarThe first was that I wanted some way for the GM to raise the bar on really tough things. I came up with two variations. Since players need to roll 2d6 to hit an 8, the GM can't take away a die. Variation 1 was for the GM to raise the bar by requiring 2 or even 3 fictional advantages for the push. The other was for the GM to make 5's and 6's a critical fail. Or even a 4+ on the high die a critical fail. (The odds of a high die of 5 on a fail are 17% for 2d6 and 5% on 3d6. The odds for a high die of 4 on a fail are 33.3% on 2d6 and 11% on 3d6). I didn't like either of these options because they didn't feel good or were too fiddly to explain/not intuitive enough.
The second note I made was that I was originally hoping that the math would work out such that a player who pushed not only increased their overall chance to succeed and their chance for a "critical success" (which I suppose equates to hitting a 6 on the high die), but to also increase their chance for critical failure
In writing that second one out, I realized I could meet both of my design goals with one simple change.
The Final Version?Roll 2d6 and get 8+ to succeed. Succeed or fail, your highest die indicates the degree of success/failure. A high die on successes is the damage you do and a 6 gives you an extra benefit in the fiction. On the other hand, a fail with a high die of 6 is a critical failure; the GM can heap on the pain!
If you have a relevant skill, power, or specialized bit of gear you can "push" and roll 3d6 instead, and drop the lowest die. This of course increases your chance of success and your chance to get in some big damage. However, when you push, any fail is a critical fail in that the GM can do things to make your character's life a lot worse than a simple failure. 
I liked this idea, but wasn't fully married to it yet, and I'll explain why in a moment. First, though, I want to show the odds:
2d6 chance of success = 42% and critical fail = 6%.3d6 chance of success = 68% and critical fail = 19%.
This makes pushing dramatic! 
I suppose my one reservation is that it may not be very logical. Yes, putting extreme effort into something can raise the stakes on failure. On the other hand, higher skill, the right equipment, or a relevant ability, which I give as the justification for a push, probably shouldn't result in a higher chance of critical failure. 
One more tweak? Let's give it a shot.
The Final Version (Probably)Roll 2d6 and get 8+ to succeed. Succeed or fail, your highest die indicates the degree of success/failure. The high die on a success is the damage you do, and a 6 allows you an extra benefit in the fiction. A fail with a high die of 6 is a critical failure, and the GM will make your character's life worse!
If you have a relevant skill, power, or specialized bit of gear you can "push" the roll; Use 3d6 and drop the lowest. This increases your chance of success and your chance to get in some big damage or gain that extra benefit. 

If you don't have a relevant skill, power, or specialized gear,
you can still push. However, any fail is a critical fail. Whether you roll a 6 or not, the GM can do things to make your character's life a lot worse than on a simple, non-critical failure.
Now the odds look like this:
2d6 chance of success = 42% and critical fail = 6%.3d6 chance of success = 68% and critical fail = 1% when you use skill, power, equipment or 19% when you use pure willpower, desperation, or reckless effort.
Give It a Name!Hmmm. I'm not sure how original this mechanic is. I've never seen it before, so I'm going to name it and release it under a Creative Commons. (Yes, I know you can't really copyright mechanics. Humor me. If you use this mechanic somewhere, stroke my ego by giving me credit.)
The text of the rules may change a little over time for brevity. But for now you should use some variation very close to the following. Feel free to use it exactly as written.
Dice Punch Roll 2d6 and get 8+ to succeed. Succeed or fail, your highest die indicates your degree of success/failure. The high die on a success is the damage you do, and a 6 allows you an extra benefit in the fiction. A fail with a high die of 6 is a critical failure, and the GM will make your character's life worse!If you have a relevant skill, power, or specialized bit of gear you can "push" the roll; Use 3d6 and drop the lowest. This increases your chance of success and your chance to get in some big damage or gain that extra benefit. It also reduces your chance of a critical failure.If you don't have a relevant skill, power, or specialized gear, you can still push. However, any fail is a critical fail. Whether you roll a 6 or not, the GM can do things to make your character's life a lot worse than on a simple, non-critical failure. Text of Dice Punch is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, 2019, Ray Otus. 
What Is It Good For? I feel like this bit of mechanics would be great for a micro-game or a very cinematic game where characters are defined by only a handful of adjectives/labels. It leaves the question of what damage means wide open. I would give most characters/opponents d6 hp per "level" and consider 0 hp to mean "out of action" (dead or the equivalent in most cases, probably something impermanent for player characters). Here's an example game written with Dice Punch.
Dice Punch Bowl In know, the name makes no sense whatsoever.
Get together with a small group of friends and three dice to share. Each of you should add one element of inspiration: e.g. Jedi knights, a death race, and neanderthals! Figure out some kind of world where these things make sense together. These rules assume you know a bit about role-playing games. One of you will be the Game Master; the rest will make characters as follows.
 
Choose:
  • A folk (like human, lizardfolk, trollkin, or cat-people)
  • A calling (like sailor, mystic, librarian, or psychologist)
  • Three to five mundane bits of equipment that might prove useful
  • One "special" – a power or bit of specialized equipment that is unique to your character.
  • Your character starts with 6 points of health. If you lose all 6 you are out of action for a while. The GM will tell you what it will take to get going again, if you aren't actually dead.
When you do something risky, roll the dice!

Roll 2d6 and get 8+ to succeed. Succeed or fail, your highest die indicates your degree of success/failure. The high die on a success is the damage you do, and a 6 allows you an extra benefit in the fiction. A fail with a high die of 6 is a critical failure, and the GM will make your character's life worse!

If you have a relevant skill, power, or specialized bit of gear you can "push" the roll; Use 3d6 and drop the lowest. This increases your chance of success and your chance to get in some big damage or gain that extra benefit. It also reduces your chance of a critical failure.

If you don't have a relevant skill, power, or specialized gear, you can still push. However, any fail is a critical fail. Whether you roll a 6 or not, the GM can do things to make your character's life a lot worse than on a simple, non-critical failure. 
Failure can mean you take damage. The GM will give you a wound or two. 
When you play the game, the GM frames scenes and poses questions. You answer for/as your character. It's a conversation! Keep up the exchange until the GM tells you it's time to roll. After you roll, the GM will describe what happens or ask you to describe it, and the conversation continues.
After a session or major accomplishment, the GM may award everyone an "advance." An advance gives you an additional d6 of health; roll a die and add it to your total. An advance also means you can add a stunt. To add one, write down a bit of useful gear you used, or a special trick you did in the fiction of a previous session. In any subsequent session, you can name a relevant stunt (once per stunt per session) to reroll the dice. You must take the second result, however.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Random Supers Thoughts

The Splintered Realm - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 20:40
1. I am mulling over what to do with The Stalwart Age #3. The draft of it is done, but I ran into a problem with it in terms of alignment with the core rules; I have something happening about 10-15 years earlier than it is suggested in the core rules; I suppose it could take a decade for the effects of an event to reach the masses, but I don't know... I don't want to give anything away, but I'm not sure if I want to go ahead as it is, make some major edits, or just rework the story completely. I'm at a bit of a crossroads with it.

2. Someone left a 3-star review on Echo City Sentinel #1... since it is free, and one page, and doesn't promise to be more than it is, I'm not sure why it gets a 3-star rating; but it's all good. I do wonder about 3-star ratings sometimes; many of the 3-star ratings have been with no review. I would welcome the feedback to know why people thought a product was lacking. Oh well.

3. I've been toying with some alternate character generation rules, and I really like where they are going. In thinking about how battlesuits work, I was thinking of a modified set of rules for character templates; if you want to roll up a character who is a bruiser, I could easily create a simple set of rules that makes sure you will get a bruiser, but also leaves the opportunity open for random things as well. It would allocate dice in different ways, and change the odds of getting certain abilities. For example, here's the brick archetype I'm thinking of:

Brick:

Origin: Roll normally. You could theoretically be a prodigy with a biomech suit that makes you a brick...

Traits: You have 1d6 random traits. Roll 1d10 below for your traits. You automatically receive either invulnerability or imperviousness, in addition to the 1d6 other traits.

1. Body Armor
2. Weapon, Melee
3. Pummel
4. Shockwave
5. Large
6. Alter Ego
7. Leaping
8. Tolerance
9. Energy Body
10. Roll randomly using the tables in the core rules

Attributes: When rolling for attributes, roll the following dice (either re-roll 1s or roll 1 additional die and keep the best dice allocated):

STR - 4d6
INT - 2d6
PWR - 3d6
DEX - 3d6
CON - 4d6
CHA - 2d6

So you want to roll up a character 'like' the Thing? Good news: use this quick guide and you'll get something like what you want... with probably a surprise or two you didn't expect.

So, to play test this:

I roll for origin and get 3. My character is a construct. I'm already thinking golem... and those +1d6 hit points are going to be useful.
Roll 1d6 for imperv (1-3) or invuln (4-6), and get 3; imperviousness it is. I roll and get 5; 1d8 imperviousness is going to be nice.
I roll 1d6 for total traits and get 6! Wow. That's a lot of traits; I roll and get:
4 shockwave
5 large
6 alter ego
8 tolerance
9 energy body
10 random trait (11 channel, 5 matter conversion)

He's a brick... and so much more. This is a lot to process, but it's still pretty unified feeling. As for traits:

STR - 4d6 and get 20 (!)
INT - 2d6 and get 7
PWR - 3d6 and get 13
DEX - 3d6 and get 13
CON - 4d6 and get 13
CHA - 2d6 and get 8

Dang. This boy is going to be pretty tough. No pummel, so he's going to be using found weapons. I'm going to min/max the CHA 8 to 6 to bump CON up to 14.

Okay, I've got my theme; he's basically an ice elemental. His matter conversion allows him to turn anything inorganic he touches into ice. This allows him to create a lot of found weapons, and to use these in combat (since his pummel is lame at the default 1d4).

He has tolerance to cold; it's not complete immunity, but it's close with his imperviousness stacked on top.
He is a big boy, roll d8 for hit points.
His energy body is going to be an ice body. His shockwave is actually a roar.

Ymir's Fist, Hero 2
AC 15; HD 4d8+1d6+8 (hp 35); Feat +8; Melee attack (+9/1d4+7)
STR 20 (+7); INT 7 (-); PWR 13 (+3)
DEX 13 (+3); CON 14 (+4); CHA 6 (-)
Traits: Alter Ego; Energy Body (deals 3 cold damage vs. melee); Large; Matter Conversion (inorganic to ice); Shockwave (1d6+7 to 30'; Feat for half); Tolerance (cold)
Talents: Focused (+10% xp); Second Wind (recover 1d6+2 hp once per turn, 2x per day) 
Drawback: Fear of fire (complex)

He's a magical creation generated by an ancient Norse ritual that bound a northern spirit into the body of a random dude who was part of an archaeological expedition, trying to get undergrad credit. He got a little more than he bargained for... the spirit comes out when it wants to, against the will of the student.

So, I get to play a character kind of like the Thing... but in a lot of ways, not really :)


Mutant Madness - Notes On Mutants

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 14:15
Note that this blog entry came from the annals of 2011. Before the release of Deadpool & Deadpool II. And since then the Marvel Xmen movies are now owned by Disney. The information still applies to an upcoming personal project of mine.  Mutant Madness So  X-Men First Class opened over the weekend & others have covered it in their blogs. Needless to say that over the weekend I printed Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Cryptozoic Will Showcase New Tabletop Games at Gen Con 2019

Cryptozoic - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 13:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment will showcase three new tabletop games, conduct demos and tournaments, and offer several exclusive promotional items at Gen Con, August 1-4 at the Indianapolis Convention Center in Indiana. At Booth #503, Cryptozoic will sell DC Deck-Building Game: Rebirth, which will be available at retailers the same day, and limited pre-release quantities of Epic Spell WarsTM of the Battle Wizards: ANNIHILAGEDDON Deck-Building Game and Spyfall: Time Travel. 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Lost Valley of Kishar

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 11:25
By Gabor Csomos First Hungarian D20 Society OSRIC Levels 6-8

Somewhere, only a few days’ travel from a busy trade route, there lies a valley surrounded by untamed wilderness. It is surrounded by cliffs forming the shape a ring, unnaturally steep and tall, as if they had been wrought by human hand. No one remembers who had originally erected the ruins standing within the valley, and who had nurtured the wondrous tree which had once drawn pilgrims from distant lands. Kishar’s priestesses have been long forgotten – but the tree’s blessed radiance persists. As if under an odd compulsion, all manner of beasts have been drawn to the valley, and in time, there emerged others. Those who came from far beyond human imagination, and were already here before the first priestesses…

This 36 page adventure details a lost valley with about 28 locations laid out in about 22 pages or so. Each of the major points is a little situation to overcome or exploit, with most having a relationship to one or two others. It tries to organize well, considering it’s single column, but some disjointed text causes an occasional forced error, ala older Judges Guild.

Ok, big crater, 8 miles in diameter. Covered in jungle. You’ve got tarzan in there with his winged apes, a tribe of people friendly to him, a tribe of hostile goat people, tombs of ancient heroes, a hag kidnapper, a crashed spaceship being exploited by said hag, a “dead” lich, a neutralish-ish death knight-ish guy, the tree of life, underground tunnels, rivers, Skull Tower, a rampaging monster ala tarrasque, and two T-rexes guarding an entry cave to get in. Oh, and some flying monsters hanging around the edge of the crater to make like rough on folk getting in/out. That’s a fuck ton going on. 

Each is presented in maybe a quarter to a third of a page. A brief description of what’s going on, how they react, what they want, and so on. Just enough to layout the basics of the group with the rest left up to the DM to react to when the party starts to screw around with things/people. It’s a good way to do things in a big sandbox-y like environment. And, like I said, each site generally has some sort of connection to two or three others, getting the party moving around the valley and encountering other groups.

Our wanderers, inside and out, add to the fun. Outside the valley we get a kind of tension building exercise, finding relics of past depredations. Inside the valley are things to attract the party and get them interested in the encounter, sights and sounds of creatures about. 

I need to be a tad delicate with my next criticism, but I’m not going to, instead leaving that to every reader to NOT misinterpret. This is both clearly not a English-As-A-First-Language product AND perfectly good english. Ninety-five percent of the text would be indistinguishable from an English-native text. I admire our non-English friends and their ability to produce works in English better than most English-native works. Further, I love seeing non-North American/British works. I love the different take on things. But … in this case, that extra 5% is a little jarring. It’s not unbearable and not incomprehensible, but it does cause some non-trivial efforts to understand. It’s more ‘unusual phrasing’ than it is “wrong.’ 

In this case, though, the unusual/strained phrasing helps fight against the chosen format. We’ve got a one-column text, which is itself a little straining, and then on top of that a kind of terse description of the area, maybe with a paragraph break or two. As the rooms get to be more complex, and the text grows, that strained phrasing, in places, make the grokking more difficult then I would be comfortable with. I might liken it to an older Judges Guild product, like Dark Tower. You have to fight the text a little to get the big picture of whats going on and that makes immediate understanding suffer. But, in both cases, the content is worth it.

There’s also a misplaced detail or two. I thinking of some tracks that show up in various places, mentioned in the valley introduction and haphazardly referenced in the later text. There’s also a “valley overview” description included in encounter 5 “Vantage Point”, which doesn’t make sense to me why that isn’t possible from other locations around the rim. It’s these little notes and, almost, asides, in which could be moved around or organized a little better.

Still, it’s a pretty good lost valley adventure. Lots going on. The setups are understandable, easy for the DM to grok. They interact with each other. It’s got a lot of tough shit running around to overcome. (And may be a little light on the treasure for a 1E game …) It’s also taken the single-column format about as far as it can go. I don’t think you could make some of the encounters any longer and preserve usability. 

This is $6 at DriveThru. The preview is ten pages. The last page shows one of the valley encounters. If you take that, as well as maybe “the ring of rocks” section at the end of preview page eight, then you’ll get an idea of the writing style. I don’t think it can be taken any further.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/282762/The-Lost-Valley-of-Kishar?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Mysterious Map

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 11:00
In the long overdue moving of some of my stuff from my parents storage shed, I found this old map that came with a video game. I think I kept the map long after the gaming system that played it was gone, because I thought to use it in an rpg. I never have though, but hey, there's still time!


(Turns out the map is from Quest for the Rings for the Odyssey2, released in 1981. Thanks, internet!)

Deeper & Deeper - The Connections between D3 Vault of the Drow & the Slavers 'A' series of Modules

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 06:10
" As a member of a bold party of adventurers, you and your associates have trekked far into what seems to be a whole underworld of subterranean tunnels -- arteries connecting endless caves and caverns which honeycomb the foundations of the lands beneath the sun. Your expedition has dogged the heels of the Dark Elves who caused great woe and then fled underground. " Is there a connection Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A Bit Of OSR Campaign Commentary On A0-A4: Against the Slave Lords Compilation Book By David "Zeb" Cook, Allen Hammack, Harold Johnson, & Tom Moldvay

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 07/28/2019 - 17:50
"A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity: It is time to put a stop to the marauders! For years the coastal towns have been burned and looted by the forces of evil. You and your fellow adventurers have been recruited to root out and destroy the source of these raids—as hundreds of good men and women have been taken by the slavers and have never been seen or heard from again!"One of the things about Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Weird Revisited: Planet of the Elves

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 07/28/2019 - 14:30
This post from 2012 takes us to a future world where Man is only a dim memory...

Many young elves heed the call to adventure, despite the fact their simple and pleasure-loving society sees their actions as odd--perhaps even aberrant.  The elvish word for "hero" carries the connotation of "fool."

The shimmering sprites are sometimes found in old forests.  These beings claim to be visitors from metal cities which circle the earth like the moon. Right-thinking dwarves don't believe such foolish tales.

Though their numbers are few, ancient dragons know many secrets and will impart them--for a price.

Mutated cultists haunt subterranean ruins.  Not only are they dangerous, but their ideas are theologically suspect.

Updated & Expanded Review & Commentary On The Basic D&D Adventure CM3 Sabre River By Douglas Niles and Bruce Nesmith For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 07/28/2019 - 05:07
"You are a guest of the count, one of your allies and the strongest man in the region. Your sojourn has been pleasant, a nice change after weeks of battle. Suddenly the courtyard below your window is filled with the noise of galloping horses. More guests? You yawn as you look out. But these people arriving look more like tax collectors than guests. You decide to give your attention to Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Some Thoughts On Adventurer, Conqueror, King, Rpg's Heroic Fantasy Handbook

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 07/27/2019 - 17:27
"The Heroic Fantasy Handbook is a rules supplement that brings the flavor of heroic fantasy to your favorite role-playing game. Cleaving away decades worth of assumptions and expectations about how characters heal, fight, and adventure, how magic works, what spells do, and more, the Heroic Fantasy Handbook offers a fresh way to play with familiar D20 fantasy mechanics."Its been over a year Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

(5e) Acid Metal Howl

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 07/27/2019 - 11:18

By Joseph Lewis

Dungeon Ages Adventures

5e

Levels 5-8

In the deep desert lies the dead city of Yumar, the source of countless bizarre rumors. Was it destroyed by a demonic metal sphere? Did it sink into a pit of acid? Were its people transformed into cursed beasts? Is it ruled by vicious thieves or mad nuns? In fact, the only thing stranger than what happened to Yumar a century ago is what will happen a few days from now…

This 48 page adventure details a lost desert city with about nine-ish adventuring sites, from small to large. It’s laid out and organized well, easy to scan … and has The Sandbox Problem. Still, great for 5e.

48 pages for nine locations seems a bit long, even if some of the locations are little mini-sites. Worry not. The fonts and whitespace are generous with this one. Locations are nicely organized with relevant data grouped together and page breaks used to separate things when appropriate. Laid out in front of you, it’s easy to maneuver through the text and find the information you are looking for, from locations, to motivations and personalities, to area descriptions. From a usability standpoint this does well. I’m not sure the format is one to take as platonic, for usability, nut Joseph had an idea of what he wanted to do for this adventure and the format works with it well. There are many paths to get to usability.

Bullets, whitespace, numbered lists, offset boxes, page and section breaks all play a part. But then … I wouldn’t be Bryce if I were ever happy with something. The adventure falls down some on what I might call cross-references. Usually I use this to refer to literal cross-references. A key containing a little (room #7) or a locked door with a (key: room 5) next to it. If information is LIKELY to be important to the DM then a little pointed to where it is is a nice addition. These sorts of cross-references do occur in at least one part of the adventure (DM text next to a locked door noting the key location) but they could be a little strong in other areas. Further, there’s a need in another way: what people know. There are a few factions running around the ruins. At least two would like you take care of the others. But … it is then natural to ask some questions. You want us to kill/drive off the nuns? Why? What do you know about them? Etc. There’s not much guidance in that area. A cross-reference to the nuns, or a summary of what they know/relate would have helped out there. Nightmares? Sleeping? Where’s that nightmare table again? These are small-ish things but they seperate a really great adventure from merely a good one. 

The major issue with the adventure though, is The Sandbox Problem. IE: why do the players care? In an older D&D it might be just for the loot, for XP. In modern versions though there tend to need to be other motivations to gain XP. The hooks presented lead the party to know ABOUT the city but not to give them motivation to go there, other than pure curiosity. Exploration is valid, if your group is in to that, but rumors of loot, faction motivations that tip the party off to it, and so on, would drive things forward a bit more. The city feels a bit passive because of that. It COULD serve as a site for the DM to insert their own goal, a book, bell, candle or some other mcguffin. But, still, it feels like the factions, while not friends, are more passive. More dynacism to drive things forward toward something would have been appreciated.

Interactivity is good, there are lots to see and do if the party is so motivated. Obvious flesh-to-stone people are depressed, if save, for the same reasons as that TNG cryo-sleep episode. A dancing gecko as treasure? Count me in!

Yeah, I’ve got some complaints. A better “view” of the elevation issues would have been nice. Wanderers seem heavy on slogs up the cliffside to the top by foot or fly spell. But, read-aloud mentions things to follow up on. One of the first is an acrid smell … which you can follow to a location. You can see sites in the distance and trek towards this, this is explicitly mentioned. I love that. At one point you can force your way in to vault via lockpick instead of the keys … which causes a treasure golem to appear. My apprehension at gimping player abilities (lock pick) is not quite as strong at higher levels as stronger divination and bypass magic is available. Or, maybe, it is but there’s example of GOOD challenges vs BAD gimping.

This is a decent adventure. A little focus in the future on evocative descriptions, without growing longer, and some solutions to ever-present Sandbox Motivation issue would knock this over the top. As is, inserting a little player motivation, like a staff they are after, etc, solves the motivation problem. While this may hover between No Regerts and Best, it’s 5e and I’m happy to see a decent 5e product.

This is $3 at DriveThru. The preview is 25 pages(!) Page 8 has a good “vision” overview and is a good preview, generally, of the formatting that the adventure uses. Overall it’s an excellent preview of what you are buying, from a writing and organization standpoint.


https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/282061/Acid-Metal-Howl-A-Dungeon-Age-Adventure-5e?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Using CM1 Test of the Warlords by Douglas Niles For Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigning

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 07/27/2019 - 04:33
"The king requests your presence in the honorable kingdom of Norwold. If you're worthy, you may be appointed lord of a dominion filled with friendly villages, sturdy fortresses, and raging band of monsters.Raging bands of monsters?Well, yes, and you may have to lead your forces into a war or two. But you'll be ready for the challenge. You'll be ready for treacherous spies who conspire to Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A Harn City for $1

Bat in the Attic - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 17:52

Columbia Games has launched a Cities of Harn kickstarter. Harn is a fantasy medieval setting that been in publication since 1983. It second product was called Cities of Harn and detailed seven cities on the island of Harn (Aleath, Cherafir, Coranan, Golotha, Shiran, Tashal, and Thay). Each city had a map, some background, a listing of two to three dozen businesses, and a handful of building mapped out and detailed including castles. All tersely described.

It was a popular product largely because it was medieval fantasy. Which made it easy to adapt to one own fantasy setting. I used just about of the cities to represent various towns and cities in my Majestic Wilderlands.

For example I used the Harn City of Shiran to represent Gormmah a capital of one of the factions in the Viridistan Civil War.


There are a couple of things you should be aware of.

PDF Only
It is PDF only. The purpose of the kickstarter to fund art and writing to expand the original cities. In recent there been a concerted effort by Columbia Games to get everything for Harn back in print. Along with updated to the latest standards that has been set for new Harn Articles.

Mainly for location like cities is that we get a tad more on the personalities and motivations of the NPCs and more fleshed out buildings and interiors.

The Price
At the $1 level, Columbia Games will give you the PDF for the City of Shiran, before the kickstarter ends. The reason for this is because Harn material has always been priced at a premium level. Which can be a tough sell. The Harn material is good but it is that good? Doing the kickstarter this way hopefully will entice to you get to buy into one of the higher levels if you like Shiran.

However the $1 for the Shiran is a sweet deal for what you get.

Is Harn worth it?
For me the answer has been yes, however I do what I can to cut cost due to their pricing. I am a Harnquest subscriber which dings me $20 to $30 four time a year and gives me the latest releases and half price on their PDFs. And I take advantage of sales when they come up.

And the fan support for Harn is second to none at Lythia.com.

Just look at the crazy stuff that has been posted for just one of Harn's city: Tashal.

Example: Eastside City Block
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Cryptozoic and Hobby World Announce Release of Spyfall: Time Travel

Cryptozoic - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 13:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment and Hobby World announced the limited release of Spyfall: Time Travel at Gen Con, August 1-4, followed by a full retail release in September. In this latest social deduction card game in the popular Spyfall series, 2-8 players take on roles in memorable locations from history, as well as some futuristic locations. The twist is that one of the players is secretly a spy and does not know the location.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

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