Tabletop Gaming Feeds

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:

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.
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 Needles
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:

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,
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,
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:

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
(Jotunn)A great black
wolf; a shadow
in darkness; a
giant hand
covering the
moonHunting, wild
beasts, eclipse,
ravening hunger6-7Lady of
(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
(Jotunn)A knife tipped with
a drop of blood, a
hand over the
mouth; a coin
stamped with a
skullPolitics, trade,
corruption10-12Lord of
(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

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.

The Magician’s House

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 23:14
By Ray Weidner
Self Published
Levels 1-3

The city of Blackrock is in peril! An army of shrieking demons marches inexorably closer, less than a week away from putting its people to the knife. The Duke puts out a call: brave and resourceful heroes are needed to recover the sacred words that will unleash the power of the Sealing Stone. Words that have passed beyond the world – and so these adventurers must pass beyond the world, into…The Magician’s House!

This 132 page adventure uses about seventy pages to describe a 25-ish “room” wizards house. There is little of the heightened reality that most DCC adventures have, making this a pretty straight forward conversion to your favorite gaming system. There is a depth to many of the  rooms that makes them seem more like mini-vignettes or set-pieces, without even really overreaching in to being jaded or expectating Yet Another Set Piece. Lots of minor polishing issues plague the adventure but it never really falls in to any major traps. I think it’s a delightful little romp through a gentleman magicians home.

What Ray has created here is a point crawl wizards house, thanks the extra-dimensional flavour afforded by being a wizard. You’re searching for either the wizard or some magic words, giving you drive to explore. The extra-dimensional aspects are leveraged in more than just “the dungeon layout is weird.” Mirrors transport you to mirror world. Or you can go to Faerie. Or the moon.  Speaking of faerie and mirrors, you might recognize some Norvel/Strange references. In fact, the baddies here are fey right out of that book, with the adventure leaning to that sort of fey.

The wizard in question is Mordank the Irregular. Tales are told of his feats … like when he saved the town from poisoned grain by summoning a huge army of rats to eat the grain. And who then died in the streets and stank forever. Mordank is my kind of wizard, both in holistic thinking and in being a weirdo.

There’s absolutely a Wizard House vibe this. There are some ruined houses in town with no real walls or doors. Except for one, which is the wizards doors. The backside looks like a normal door. That’s wizard shit. Weirdo servants? Wizard shit. Keeping fey captive? Wizards shit. Weird stuff to fuck with? Wizard shit. Mirrors you can walk through? Wizard shit. Thing place feels like a wizards house.

It helps that you can talk to just about anything. Slime creatures on the moon? They are actually guests of the wizard, nice people, and happy to talk if you don’t try to gak them at first sight. The servants? They talk … and try to get you to go back to the visitors lounge. The guards? Same thing. But their captain also needs some sneaky types to help him get back at the servants …  The fey king, and other fey? Sure, the kings hobbies are Games and Hating Mordank. There’s a great deal of interactivity. If I had a complaint in this area it might be that it could use a little more challenge. There’s that Ed Greenwood thing where you just walk around looking at weird shit. And in LOTFP fucking with anything is usually a bad idea. In a Gold=XP game the allure is usually loot, motivating you to fuck with stuff. In a one-shot (which is what this is oriented toward. More on that later.) or a story game then you motivation to fuck with shit has to be in service of the story. I’m not sure that comes through as well as it could. In some places it seems more like Greenwood interactivity. Not an obstacle, but an experience, and you can be left with the “just dont touch anything” mindset.

In THIS adventure the pregens provide some motivation in that area. They all have objectives ad “side quests” from their backstory. Discover the source of the wizards power and report back. Get cash. Spread the faith. Find a book in the library about a certain thing. Things to get you moving around the map, if this were a hexcrawl, beyond the simple main quest.

A high page count with low room count usually means word bloat. While this isn’t a masterpiece of editing, it doesn’t really have the problems associated with word bloat. Each room is contained on two or three pages. You get a little mini-map, an initial impression, and then a separate header and paragraph, etc, for each interesting thing in the First Impression description … or a feature inside of another feature, for example. This is then followed by an explicit stat block, a section on treasure, and then a note on exits. Whitespace and section headings a bullets are generous. Taken together this explains how the depth of the rooms are handled and how it gets past the word bloat issue. Ray thought about the issue and found a solution.

Well … most of a solution. At two pages per room I am ON. BOARD. with this format. Facing pages, open behind the screen, the entire room available at a glance with whitespace, headings, bullets providing me help to find things. At three I suddenly need to page flip. A third page containing just the stats and/or treasure/exits could be ok. A third page referenced during exceptions, like a fight breaking out or leaving the room. Then a page flip seems ok. But a third page, or more, to look up simple room stuff? At that point I begin to drag out my Everything is a Guideline mantra, and Too Much Devotion to a Things is Bad mantra. Messing with the margins, the whitespace, the font size, rethinking Major Headings vs Minor Headings, all all in game as things that could be sacrificed, temporarily at a minimum, on the altar of “all the main shit on two pages.”

That might be my major complaint and I think falls in to the realm of Polishing. In that same realm are a large number of other issues. Some more work on mirror world to handle the transition rooms better, those being necessarily more complex. A major NPC, the wizards drinking buddy, is lacking almost any detail at all. Like, what he knows about the house, the situation, etc. Some of the words from the First Impression features do not appear as section headings. Looking Glass in the impressions with Mirrors as a heading for more information. That’s a crude example, but gets the point across. Other places need someone to point out some flaws in the writing. A little model of the solar system is in one room. A party member can shrink and fly toward the planets … at 20’ per round. They are unrecoverable at 100’. I don’t really get this. The solar system toy, the shrinking, the distances, they don’t make sens to me together.

But, these are polish issues. There’s some very find magic rings with non-standard effects. A gem you can swallow (Hey hey hey! Dungeon of the Bear!) and great rumors. The wizard is built up exactly the way you’d want one to be … powerful and little bizarre without going full out gonzo or silly. The Gentlemen Fey thing goin on is just icing.

Good adventure. Lots of room for polishing. As a one-shot it supports the DM with pre-gens with motivations to help drive action beyond the main plot. I can handle something that needs more polishing; The Best doesn’t necessarily mean Perfect. This is a great first effort.

This is $6 at DriveThru. The preview is 21 pages! You get to see several of the complete rooms, in their two to three page layout glory.

EDIT: I review above is the one I originally wrote. Ray had asked for feedback so I sent him the review and, between writing it Saturday and publishing it Wednesday, he released a second edition. It helps mitigate the gaps around the drinking buddy knowing the house, clarifies the solar system toy, and, notably, messed around with the layout of each room to try and get it to two facing pages OR move the reference material to end to get the core room on to the two facing pages. Now, if everyone else in the world listened to me this much then my entitlement issues would be resolved, although in the wrong manner.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Blue Light Special - A Mutant Future Encounter Or One For Any Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 18:08
Two weeks ago, a small community in the Canadian Outback and Altered America borders has gone off line from short wave communications. 'The Bluelight' village community a mix of pure strain and mutant race with a technology level equal to about the Nineteen Sixties has gone off line. The community has been receiving tech assistance from Project Over Reach  in getting communications and Needles
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The Sky Fleet Moves In ! - The Thulean - Japanese War - Actual Play Session Report III

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 17:34
If you've been keeping up with the events of 2100 things are really starting to come to a boil. The PCs are on the trail of the Thuleans but several key events have happened!  Since I last hopped onto this blog a lot has happened in our Victorious/ Amazing Adventures! Rpg  game! The Russians have begun to move their air fleet into position but don't know that British agents have been Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

'File Purge' - An Encounter For Mutant Future or Any Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 15:05
'File Purge' - An Encounter For Mutant Future or Any Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaign  The PC's are out in the middle of the Altered American wasteland when they chance upon a lone abandon building. Amazingly the power is still on and the place is running. The doors are open and the place has thousands of gold pieces of artifact technology. There isn't a soul around and yet Needles
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Vault #16 - A Mutant Future Encounter or An Encounter For Any Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 00:34
 Out in the middle of the New Mexican desert something has been stirring. A new super science group has been excavating out in the desert near the infamous Vault 42. The Alliance is a group of fringe super scientists who were looking for the Vault made infamous by the vile experiments that were performed there by scientists on some of the very first of the Neo Mutant species to emerge in Needles
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The Gallery - An Encounter For Mutant Future or Any Old School Post Apocalyptic Rpg Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 19:23
 Over the past three years in the ruins of a small back wood Maryland community a facility has been set up and dozens of sightings of unusual lights have been seen in the sky around the place. Residents from several nearby communities are convinced that the place is haunted or worse. The weird lights have been seen around during the day and especially at night. Several adventurers who haveNeedles
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Delta's D&D Hotspot: Tomb of Ra-Hotep

Zenopus Archives - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 19:21
The map of The Tomb of Ra-Hotep. Source: Paul's Gameblog
Delta has a report on running the Tomb of Ra-Hotep, the OD&D dungeon by Alan Lucien that inspired Gygax's Tomb of Horrors (and Necropolis, it seems). It was included as an extra in the reprint of the original tournament version of Tomb of Horrors, which was itself an extra with the Special Edition of last year's Art & Arcana.

HelgaCon: Tomb of Ra-HotepContinuing the Helgacon wrap-up this year. For the first time I also ran: The Lost Tomb of Ra-Hotep Originally written by Mr. Alan Luc...

See also: 
Mystical Trash Heap: Art & Arcana First Impressions

Paul's Gameblog: Credit Where Credit's Due

Locations for the Tomb of Horrors on the Great Kingdom Map 
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

'Outta Time & Outta The Deep End' A Mutant Future Encounter Or An Encounter For Any Old School Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 18:20
The Encounter  Set Up Someplace along the wasteland  beaches of former Manchuria the PC's see a sudden & very blinding flash in the sky. There will be weird by plays of optical illusions showing ancient images of troops & soldiers dressed in both archaic & future soldiers uniforms surrounding the PC's. This weird effect lasts for 2 or more rounds. What the players don't know is that Needles
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5150: All Bugs Titles 50% off!

Two Hour Wargames - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 17:46

5150: Bugs - HALF OFF!?

Order any 5150: Bugs title at half the normal price before time runs out! Fight the Bugs! Time is short! 
Now's the time to get started or complete your Bugs collection.5150:Bugs!
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My Two Most Controversial Posts Prompt a Trip Into the Comment Section

DM David - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 11:53

The last two months included the two most discussed posts in the 7-year history of DM David, which calls for another trip into the comment section.

In Should a Dungeon Master Invite Players to Help Create the D&D World Beyond Their Characters? I considered the pros and cons of asking players to share a role that usually falls to the dungeon master.

Ilbranteloth suggested turning potentially dead characters into an invitation to let players imagine a different twist. “On potentially deadly hits against the PCs, they decide if they are killed, or something more dramatic (and often worse) happens.” Perhaps the character loses a leg and a bit of speed. Or perhaps the player trades death for some dramatic complication. Players focused on story understand that character arcs benefit from setbacks and might be eager to revive a dead character in exchange for a complication that makes a richer story.

After I created a Dungeons & Dragons Summoning Spell Reference, Teos “alphasream” Abadia shared some concerns raised by summoning.

I’m not generally a fan of the summoning spells. They can be too strong (they can be like a fireball of damage every round, round after round, for the casting of one spell), they tie up the terrain impeding movement (especially by locking down melee fighters, preventing a dynamic combat), and they make combat a slog (in almost any combat, the monsters lack the damage to kill more than a couple of the summoned monsters).

That last bit is what kills it for me. At the meta level, the monsters should ignore the summoned creatures, because killing them is basically impossible unless they’re a horde of low CR creatures and the monsters have area attacks. So, the easy move is to target the summoner and break their concentration, but that takes away from what the player who did the summoning wants. I haven’t found a happy medium.

Summoning spells typically offer a choice between lots of weaker monsters and fewer, stronger monsters. When the designers set choices that made summoning crowds far more efficient, they made the spells more likely to turn fights into slogs.

When I play foes with an 8 or higher intelligence who see ongoing spell effects, I start making spellcasters preferred targets. After all, characters with an 8 Intelligence practice even more savvy tactics. When players think their DM unreasonably targets them with attacks, players can get salty, but when concentrating spellcasters become targets, their players know it’s coming.

Two readers added to The True Story of the Cthulhu and Elric Sections Removed from Deities & Demigods.

Alphastream wrote, “Some readers may not appreciate how, back then, books hung around for a long time. We had decades with the same books on the shelves. Not as old stock in a corner, but as an active part of what gamers would buy and use. As an example, check out this Shannon Appelcline article where he shares White Wolf Magazine’s list of top-selling RPGs for 1992. At number 9 is the 1981 Fiend Folio!

Books like Deities & Demigods were a presence for decades, which helped keep this bit of controversy prominent across many years.

The long sales life of books from this era also led to a 2nd edition that remained broadly compatible with AD&D. The designers wanted to make big improvements, but TSR management wanted books like that old Fiend Folio to continue generating sales.

Zenopus Archives wrote, “There’s a whole earlier chapter to this story. The Mythos write-up in Deities & Demigods is derivative of the original write-up ‘The Lovecraftian Mythos in Dungeons & Dragons’ by J. Eric Holmes and Rob Kuntz that was published in Dragon magazine 12 in 1978. The bulk of this article was written by Holmes, and the Deities & Demigods write-up has the same entries, except for one. To me, Deities & Demigods clearly used the original article as a starting point. Read more at Dr. Holmes and the Cthulhu Mythos.

In Bring the Thrill of Finding Treasure Back to the Adventurers League, I wrote about how D&D traditionally motivates both characters and players to seek gold. This tempts players to take the risks that help make D&D fun.

Eric Bohm wrote, “Taking the treasure out of the game seriously undermines an important component of the D&D formula. The heroic component remains mostly intact. If your character is motivated to help people for the sake of helping them, with only an abstract unquantifiable reward, everything works. Other kinds of characters are less well supported, while truly mercenary character concepts become basically unplayable.

What about the lovable scamp who is in it for the gold? Or the many redemptive arcs of those get roped in for the base rewards and are swept up in higher motivations? How can a malefactor tempt a hero away from the path of virtue?

The only character who grabbed any money from the hoard in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist when I ran it was an NPC. The players weren’t tempted; therefore they did not feel like it was worth roleplaying their characters being at all tempted. It just wasn’t interesting for them to play into it. Let me state that again. Players with characters standing in a vault full of gold felt that it was pointless for them to even pick up a single bag of gold. Where is the fun in that?

Obviously, players can still create characters motivated by greed, but without the incentive of gold, taking risks for treasure seems like a sucker’s bet.

At the start of season 8, I wondered with James Introcaso why the Adventurers League would introduce rules that blocked characters from keeping gold in the season that featured Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. The adventure hooks characters with a chance to win a fortune in gold. James speculated that perhaps the potential windfall triggered the need for the rules change.

In How Years of Trying to Fix Obnoxious People Shrank D&D’s Appeal, I talked about how relying on a DM’s judgement rather than on extensive rules may have helped fifth edition’s popularity.

Alphastream agreed but saw areas where fourth edition succeeded in making D&D easier to run. For instance, fourth edition’s in-store play program D&D Encounters drew tons of players. “DMs loved being able to run an hour of play with 1-2 pages of very simple (and yet engaging) adventure text. Spells turned into far simpler powers meant DMs could jump in with less experience. True story: Despite playing and DMing D&D for 17 years, when 3E came out, I waited 9 months before DMing my first organized play game because I felt I didn’t know 3E spells well enough to run a game. We’ve taken a step backwards here, in that many DMs again feel they can’t DM (especially at high levels) because of the complexity of spells.

So, I think there is a balance to be struck between these design goals of keeping the game engaging and keeping it easy to learn and simple.

I would also say that while 3E really built up the game and added a lot, 4E in many ways was working to fix problems—the length of an adventuring day, the need for someone to ‘have’ to play the cleric, how many magic items a character had, and even how much experience a DM needed to feel confident. It really took the laundry list of issues, including ‘bad DMs’ and tried to fix them. The legacy of those fixes is excellent. We can see many of those improvements carried on into 5E.

In How D&D Shed the Troubling Implications of Half -Orcs, I wrote about how D&D struggled to erase the implication that half orcs came from rape. The entry became this blog’s most read and discussed post until another post topped it.

Wil cifer argued that the original implications of half orcs fit history. “Rape was a commonplace occurrence during war in medieval times. Why would a barbaric race even in a fantasy setting be kinder and gentler? Rewriting the tone of a historical time the game is based on is stupid.

But D&D is a game that gleefully tosses aside historical accuracy and realism in favor of fun. The game features magic and dragons. To unravel any D&D world, just pull any of countless threads and check it for historical accuracy or check how it stands in the face of magic.

Other readers argued that making half orcs the product of sexual violence turns orcs into stronger villains. Andrew wrote, “I have been playing D&D since 1981, and I have no problem with half-orcs being the result of an orc raping a human female. Orcs are monsters, created by an evil deity, Gruumsh. Taking the monster out of the monster has very little appeal to me. Can and should there be points of moral ambiguity in a D&D game? Without doubt. There should be. But monsters do monstrous things, including rape.

To players like Andrew, crushing evil and righting wrongs feels more satisfying when the campaign shows evil and the suffering it creates. Purely evil creatures make uncomplicated foes that justify killing.

David Streever wrote, “D&D is a fantasy game that is sold to everyone from small children to adults; you can feature as much rape as you like in your version, but I’m glad it’s not in the core books, and I’ll stay away from your table.

In your D&D game, if all the players welcome a darker tone, you can explore any origin you like for half orcs. But for a broader audience, the game benefits when it avoids saddling every half orc with a vile background.

In response to Running Group Roleplaying Scenes—How Permission From an RPG Legend Made Me Stop Talking to Myself, simontnm gave a suggestion. “If I have multiple NPCs talking I tend to use minis, and put my finger on the mini of the NPC actually talking.

“‘Don’t have NPCs talk to each other’ is good advice, but it’s occasionally necessary to deliver an NPC to NPC one liner. Keep it short and sweet.

The History of Traps In Dungeons & Dragons prompted Ty to point out the difference between good, real traps and quality traps in D&D. “From a game play standpoint, traps are just a terrible idea all around. Conceptually, in order for a trap to be a ‘good’ trap, it needs to be massively unfair. It needs to kill outright or seriously maim. One minute you’re alive, and then boom, you’re dead. No saving throws, no noticing something off at the last minute, no jumping out of the way.

Ken W replied, “You need to take the edge off your realism. A trap shouldn’t be ‘instantly lethal’ in game terms any more than a strike with a sword or great axe. In real terms, if you get hit by a swinging claymore, you are likely suffering a severe wound. But the abstraction of D&D combat and hit points means that each hit represents a depletion of stamina, not a mortal wound. Only when you reach 0 hit points does it really represent that fountaining arterial spray we would otherwise expect.

Traps operate in the same space as combat weapons in this regard. The only difference between a trap and an enemy combatant that gets a turn while the PC is surprised is…well—nothing. Except the trap essentially ‘dies’ after its turn is over.”

Good traps in the real world make lousy traps in D&D. The best traps in D&D are in places where everyone expects a trap or that show obvious signs of their presence.

Alphastream wrote, “A trap can be a lot of fun when found, if it requires engagement to disarm. As a DM or author, I try to think through the point of the trap—not just for whatever creatures put it there—but for the game experience. The trap can be hard to find and that’s fun, or it can be easy to find and be fun as well. Think of ‘only the penitent man shall pass’ in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. That’s fun because you know it is there and need to figure out a way past it. Similarly, traps can be found and that can be the beginning of the engagement.

Beoric wrote, “Perfectly good traps can be suspected because the nature of the trap is not entirely concealable. Raiders of the Lost Ark-style traps can be suspected because the tiles on the floor have no grout because they are pressure plates, or there are holes in the wall from which darts shoot.

The trap may also be old, and detectable by signs of wear, like a layer of powdered stone on the floor or vertical gouges on the wall for a falling block trap, or soot on the walls or floor with a fire trap, or spent missiles on the floor with a dart or arrow trap.

Also consider that some traps can be very well concealed if they are not being looked for, but still be detectable if actively searched for. A standard old-school pit trap was pretty much undetectable visually and could only be detected by tapping it.

None of those are actually bad traps. They just have limitations because of their nature.

There is a great discussion of this at the Hack and Slash Trick and Trap Index.”

Alphastream expanded on how traps worked in play across editions.

In fifth edition, it’s still not entirely clear nor standard whether Investigation or Perception is most commonly used for finding a trap. I have my thoughts, which I think are right, but I see it run many different ways. In general, I think that if a trap is one that could be seen with the naked eye, then Perception would work. For example, a pressure plate that has slightly discolored stone, or which is slightly sunken. Otherwise, and in my game this is most of the time, the trap is not obvious and needs Investigation to be found. A well-crafted pressure plate is like any other stone. The only way to find it is to tap at it or otherwise determine what it is, which uses Investigation.

Fourth edition’s concept of ‘trap as monster’ failed due to the underlying math, which assumed a check per round and 4 checks to disable the trap, which was supposed to equate how monsters were envisioned as taking 4 rounds to defeat. The problem is that this cold math doesn’t understand how that 4 round concept wasn’t very accurate—players focused fire on important targets and might take them down in 1 round, while ignoring others.

Players tended to focus fire on traps and break them more quickly than a rogue could disable them. Or players ignored traps in favor of the monsters, and then stepped around the traps.

I like to think 4E’s trap concept is still really cool, but it takes clever authoring to communicate to the players how to engage with it. It is awesome if the cleric immediately realizes that this trap is empowered by a rival deity and they can shut it down and greatly help the party by doing so. That feels really heroic. It’s awesome if the rogue can tell the party that interacting with the trap for two rounds will move the rays of lightning to the area where the enemy archers are standing. These are great cinematic concepts if you set them up right.

I tried my own hand at it with Dungeon of Doom. Nate and I designed a large variety of 5E traps in that adventure, and they provide a diversity of experiences. (You can get the adventure free and also see people play through them, all at Thank you for putting up with the shameless plug, but it’s hopefully useful for people given this article.

For Ability Checks—From the Worst Mechanic in Role-Playing Game History to a Foundation Of D&D, Daniel Boggs contributed fascinating D&D history that I didn’t know.

It is a quirky history, given that a primary reason ability scores were created in the first place was as a means to make ability checks—to put it in contemporary parlance. The D&D ability scores and saving throws arise as a distillation of the concept of personality traits and character skills created by Dave Arneson for Blackmoor. In pre-D&D Blackmoor, players would roll against a trait, Strength for example, or Looks, or Throwing, to see if they were successful at the attempt. When D&D came along, Arneson & co. continued to use ability checks in their games. You can see an example of a Dexterity check in Arneson’s First Fantasy Campaign (1977) where a character must save versus Dexterity to remove their armor in time to avoid drowning in Blackmoor Bay. And of course ability checks are also very prominent in Arneson and Richard Sniders’ Adventures in Fantasy game (1978). In writing D&D, Gary Gygax failed to mention this purpose of the ability scores as he apparently preferred to create an arbitrary percent chance and have the players roll percentiles instead. So, you did have some early players who figured it out on their own or who learned it in some way from Arneson, most D&D players didn’t grok the intention behind the scores and thus you got that rather odd system proposed by Ives in Dragon #1. You can see some original Blackmoor characters here.

My post 6 Popular Things in D&D That I Fail to Appreciate sparked such a furor that I posted a follow up. Many commenters took the challenge of changing my mind.

I’ve already recanted my dislike for game worlds that unnecessarily make adventuring a common profession.

Alphastream argues that monsters that bounce from table to table at multi-table events can work, but he sees room for innovation. “I’ve written these, though they aren’t my favorite device for the reasons you mentioned. I think they work best when they are in small pods. The blue dragon in Confrontation at Candlekeep works well because it makes sense (you have 4-6 towers and parties at each tower, the dragon flying in between), it is announced dramatically (so everyone gets the concept from the start), it is central to the action (no one is forgetting about the dragon), and it lets players interact with it once it leaves their table (they can jump on it or fire at it, at the risk of failing at their table). With the second Open I tried to create a different experience, one that still made sense and which provided a combination of combat, skill, and risk-reward. I would tweak it further if given the chance. All of that is to say that I think these can be done well. I think DM David is exactly the kind of person who could come up with a cool version and submit it to an Epic author.

I’ve grown to accept that adventures with carnival games work well as an introduction to the game. Alphastream touts another benefit. “I think carnival games can offer a lot of activity in a short time and offer something to every player. Very few things can do that.”

As for the way that using miniatures for the wrong monster sometimes confuses me, Creeper Jr wrote, “I don’t need minis to match exactly, but I find it incredibly helpful if there is some sort of rhyme and reason to it. My portable mini kit includes: 4 goblins, 4 guards, 4 archers, 2 mages, 2 knights/fighters, 2 rogues, 2 large green slaad, 2 giant spiders. Each mini has a color-coded base accent. This doesn’t take up too much room, is relatively cheap to put together, and allows us to quickly identify enemies with sort-of-thematic minis.

Alphastream supports budding mini collectors eager to put minis on the table. “Sometimes a DM wants to buy a box of minis or two and try to use that purchase for their efforts. I get that. I still think it beats Starburst, but maybe that’s because I don’t super love Starburst. If the monsters are Belgian truffles, or Ferrero Rocher, sign me up! Here again, we can imagine we are witnessing the beautiful creation of a nascent miniature collector. They will go from this table to assemble an army of awesome minis on a bed of Dwarven Forge. It’s like seeing the future unfold before us!

Josh rose to defend the dragon-slayer pose on page 7 of the second-edition Player’s Handbook. “I’m one of the ones who love the picture. The adventurers seem like real people, each different and interesting in his own way. The mage isn’t old. Nobody’s half dressed. The dragon’s of a size that would pose a threat to normal people and level 1’s. It’s a good level 1 accomplishment. And as for the pose, I assume there are a lot of unlisted utility spells, including one that takes the image in a caster’s mind and transfers it to paper. It’s a level 2 spell. Colored prints are level 4.

Commenters replying to How Well Do You Understand Invisibility in Dungeons & Dragons? considered a couple of odd corners of the rules for invisibility.

Dave Barton summarized one aspect. “In essence, two foes who can’t see each other have an equal chance of hitting as if they could see each other. Think about that for a minute.

This rule especially defies common sense because it grants ranged attackers just as good a chance of hitting when they can’t see their target. Sometimes D&D trades plausibility for simplicity.

Aside from the ability to hide anywhere, invisible creatures don’t get advantage to hide or any other increase to their chance of success.

Pewels asks “How would you handle light sources on a PC going invisible?

Saphhire Crook answered, “The issue of invisible light sources crosses into that dangerous territory of ‘invisible eyeballs’, which is where invisible people cannot see because their eyes cannot receive light since it passes through them.

In 3.5, light sources continue to exist, but their origin becomes invisible, implying that the target simply reflects no visible light (or all light hitting or reflecting off them is magically duplicated and filtered).”

Every so often, someone leaves a comment that delights me. My post on Dave Hargrave, Once subversive, the Arduin Grimoire’s influence reaches today’s games, inspired such a comment from Old School, New.

As a former associate of Hargrave, I’ve been around awhile and have seen innumerable articles written on the worlds of Arduin and its foothills. Many are bad, many are way too ‘fannish,’ and a lot of them are simply misinformed and/or myopically aligned with other gaming systems, to the point of zero objectivity.

This article, however, rates as the finest piece on the subject of Arduin/DH, ever. Nothing else comes close. Incredibly well written, fair, meticulous, and factual.

And you actually dug-up a pic from Different Worlds. Haha! Among other things.

Yes, Arduin wasn’t perfect. Not hardly. But it was grand, visionary, insane, stupid, ham-handed, and utterly magnificent. Kinda like its creator, right?

Anyway, massive cheers for a spectacular blog entry. I should think it’s the all-time definitive description of Arduin and its master—warts and all.

Seriously, Mr. Hartlage, you’ve created something beautiful here.

Thanks! I feed proud to garner such kind words.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

For Fun & Profit - Fantasy Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers As The Vile Villains

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 18:25
So I've been doing a lot of thinking about villains & NPC's over the weekend because I've been sick as a dog. Over the weekend I got a chance to dive into Castle & Crusades The Adventurer's Backpack. Its an interesting mixed bag of essential & optional material for Castles & Crusades. I don't want to get too bogged down into the particulars. But grab it if your a C&C dungeon master.But what itNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Living Building

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 11:14
Derek Holland
Skirmisher Publishing
Mutant Future
Level ?

Just after dawn, a village scout dashed from the forest carrying a wondrous, and perhaps even terrifying, story of a huge, circular shell with a door, a massive coiled building that sprang up during the night. And it is still growing …

This 22 page supplement details “Living Buildings”, a kind of organic building type of the ancients. Most of it is given over to background information and how the buildings grow, live, die, and operate, but about six pages have some details on the various types of rooms you might find inside one of the complexes.

The first ten pages give background on the “architectural style.” The reasoning behind the buildings and how they work. This is in long form, paragraph style with few an occasional section heading. As a “toolkit”, or fluff, I guess this is ok. I don’t know. I don’t know nothing about fluff/toolkits.

The next six-ish pages are devoted to a random room generator. Things like “Power Room. Flowing through the piping and stored in large cylinders, highly volatile chemicals fill this room and any fire or explosion Detonates them. See Attacks for details.”

Look, I’m not good, at all, at reviewing things that are not adventures. After about 1500 adventure reviews I feel like I’m just starting to understand what makes them tick. But fluff books, or toolkits? I’ve no idea.

I’ll tell you though why I found the booklet unsatisfying. Although I think it has as much relevancy as getting advice from me on Latvian literature in the 13th century.

If you look at that power room description above, I’m not sure it inspires me to anything. It just sounds kind of a little generic. I’m not sure I could take that, riffing off of it, design six different power rooms on the fly that were interesting. I think I’d have to invest a substantial mental effort in doing so with what’s present. I think I want a fluff supplement to make me excited about things, inspired, ideas bursting from my head. I don’t get that from reading this. It reads dry and abstracted. Even the sample 2-page floorplan (it’s fourteen rooms small compared to the 25-ish to 440-ish the text notes these places to be) is unkeyed and, given the nautilus design, linear with each room having one door in and door out, to the next room.

When I’m looking at this sort of thing I want something less academic and more visceral. Something that I can riff of off and inspires me to create greatness. Colour.

Also, it didn’t have a 100-entry “random artifact table”, which, I believe, is required for every Gamma World adventure ever written.

But, I don’t know nothing. Attempts like this to break out of my Adventure Zone reveal that I should stay inside it, until I am done with my current projects.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Consulting the Sages

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 11:00
Our Land of Azurth 5e campaign continued last night with the party still in the future, spending the night in the apparent safety of the Frog Temple (whose messiah, they believe is Waylon the Thief from some point in the future). They are awakened by the white glow of a point floating air that spreads into a line vibrating with the words of Phosphoro. The wizard asks if they have acquired the book. Before they can answer, something disrupts his transmission.

That something turns out to be a ball energy that resolves into a humanoid form. In a booming monotone, it demands that they turn over the Book of Doors, explaining that the Mysteriarchs of Zed will brook no one unworthy gaining entrance to their hidden city. It also declares that it is not fool by the trickery inherent in this "anomaly," though who this comment is aimed at is not clear. The group assumes it to be Roderick Drue, but the confused young man protests his innocence.

The party surmises they do want to to fight this creature, much less the Mysteriarchs, so they bargain: They will give up the book, minus the page they must give Phosphoro. The creature summons a "factor" of the city empowered to make such negotiations.

After some talk, the factor agrees to their terms. Additionally, he warns them their presence here might summon a "Time Keeper." He has the "golem of pure magic" examine the book, then remove the page Phosphoro will need. Then the agents of Zed leave taking the rest of the book with them.  When they are gone, Phosphoro renews contact. The party explains the situation, and Phosphoro prepares to return them home. Due to the nature of temporal magic, he states they will have to drift out of this time slowly. It make take hours or days.

With nothing to do but wait, the party tries to find out more about what calamity befell their homeland. They seek out the Standing Stone Sages. The sages don't know much that can help them, but do reveal that The Clockwork Princess and Queen Desira, the Enchantress of Virid, were allies in their rebellion against the Wizard.

No sooner are they done talking to the Sages than they encounter a strange ooze shot through with electrical impulses that seems to follow them. The attack it at a distance, finding it resistant to most things, but vulnerable to cold. Relying primarily on such attacks, they destroy it before it can ever get an attack in.

Weird Revisited: Bug Powder

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 05/05/2019 - 14:30
This first first appeared. Way back in 2010...

Bill: What do you mean, "it's a literary high"?

Joan: It's a Kafka high. You feel like a bug.

- Naked Lunch (1991)

Bug Powder is a strange magical substance found in the City, and its world, and possibly elsewhere. It generally appears as pale yellowish powder, and its official use is as a professional-grade insecticide. It can be found in containers from several different and mysterious suppliers--"Benway Chymical", and "Voke & Veech", are prominent examples. Bug powder will indeed serve as an insecticide, but if nasally insufflated (snorted), or injected intravenously in small doses it has euphoric and mild hallucinogenic properties.

Long-term use generally leads to dependence, but also, like use of a large single dose, seems to open a doorway to another plane. Users report travel to an exotic, desert world under two reddish moons, were lies a sprawling pennisular city called Interzone, on the quivering banks of a gelatinous sea. The swarthy inhabitants of Interzone appear human in all respects, but have undefinable and unsettling air of strangeness about them. In addition to the natives, humans from many time periods and worlds, as well as alien beings, can be found sweating in Interzone, perusing their own agendas. There is a great deal of political intrigue in the city-state, and several different political factions--but the goals of these groups and the reasons for their conflicts often seem contradictory, if not outright nonsensical.

Mystics and planar scholars believe Interzone to be an interstitial realm acting as a gate or "customs station" between the material world and the inner planes. Supporting this view is the presence of soldiers the Hell Syndicates, as well as miracleworking street-preachers and holy hermits professing the varied and conflicting "ultimate truths" of the Seven Heavens. A slight variation on this view, is that Interzone is not so much a part of the astral plane, but more an extension of Slumberland, the Dream-World, located in some seedy Delirium ghetto. Further exploration will be needed to determine this for certain.

This exploration isn't without dangers. While physical dependence comes from the bug powder's use, the thinning of the psychic barriers between the material world and Interzone serve to cause a person to involuntarily shift between the two. This tends to generate feelings of paranoia--and perhaps rightly so, as the more time one spends in Interzone, the more likely one is to become an agent (perhaps unwittingly) of one of its factions, and fall prey to its byzantine intrigues.

One final interesting bit of Interzone lower is that the natives hold that their city-state, was actually once six cities of very different mystic character, physically indistinct and loosely co-spatial, but still spiritually differentiated. The names of theses putative cities when uttered with the proper ritual, are said to be a powerful spell, though sources disagree as to what purpose.

The Kamaitachi Affair - The Thulean - Japanese War - Actual Play Session Report II

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 05/04/2019 - 17:35
"Kamaitachi" (窮奇) from the "Gazu Hyakki Yagyō by Toriyama SekienSo in last night's Victorious/ Amazing Adventures! Rpg  game lots of things happened. Let's start with the appearance last night of the Japanese heroes Kamaitachi (鎌鼬) in the bay of Ricca. These heroes are 8th level Radiants from the Victorious rpg  with a shared telepathic hive mind & weather generation powers. They are very Needles
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