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Tregen Firmstone

Fail Squad Games - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 02:07

A BECMI Character Created with Labyrinth Lord using Rules Cyclopedia straight 3d6 method.

Tregon Firmstone

Tregon is no stranger to heavy armor and hard battles, but prefers the quiet movement of his fine leather.
“I can’t feel the stone clunkin’ round in all that metal.”

Tregon is a hardy, solid dwarf of good reputation among his kin in the mountains. He works hard, is likable, with a good humor. He always sees the best in folk and sometimes to a fault. He can be quite gullible. Trevon believes most things that people say are the truth, and has lost his savings more than once because of his blind trust in others.

Tregon prefers the home life. His mother’s Sweet potatoes and onions makes up his favorite meal. He has come to admire halflings for their enjoyment of good food and drink and never misses an opportunity to visit them when he can. While he loves home life under the security of the mountains, a wanderlust occasionally takes hold of him and his curious nature keeps him from holding a life-long work in the dwarven society.

Click image for full size character sheet

The post Tregen Firmstone appeared first on Fail Squad Games.

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Actual Play: Tell Me, Have You Seen the Yellow Sign? Part 3

19th Level - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 00:05
I cannot forget Carcosa where black stars hang in the heavens; where the shadows of men's thoughts lengthen in the afternoon, when the twin suns sink into the lake of Hali; and my mind will bear for ever the memory of the Pallid Mask. ― Robert W. Chambers, The King in Yellow

[Part One] [Part Two]


Setting:New Orleans, LA; Tuesday, February 1 - Saturday, February 5, 1921
Characters:
  • Earl Crowley - Antiquarian settled in Arkham
  • Jordaine Furst - Strasbourg-born Great War spy for France
  • Fredrick Tardiff - Great War veteran, Kingsport artist
Summary:Hearing Fowler and Papa Screech back in the estate, the investigators exercised stealth. Crowley and Tardiff prepared to burn the side of the teleportation portal on the estate side of the gate while Furst snuck upstairs to see if there was anything worth seeing.

Upstairs she did find something rather disturbing behind a locked door (which she easily picked) - a shrine to his dead wife and daughter, with a copy of The King in Yellow as well as a tattered notebook. Flipping through it she found it was a set of instructions as to how one might summon Hastur. She pocketed the notebook and, going back downstairs, put the King in Yellow in the kindling they had laid out.

Their attempt to sneak out was not quite successful - Papa Screech heard them and pursued, opening fire with his handgun. Furst and Crowley returned fire, killing him. However, Fowler lived in a wealthy neighborhood and they quickly heard the whistles of police officers responding to the sound of shots fired. However, Tardiff had an ace up his sleeve - a spell he had learned to summon a mist, providing them a cloak in which to escape.

The next day Crowley and Furst monitored the swamp summoning area while Tardiff kept an eye on things in New Orleans.

Tardiff learned that Fowler had been taken to a hospital for a nervous breakdown - and that the portal had indeed been destroyed. He also discovered that Fowler had vanished during the night.
Crowley and Furst saw some of the remaining cultists dragging Fowler to one of the old hits, tied up. From listening to their talk it was clear they were distraught, refusing to believe that Papa Screech was truly dead and hoping he would soon appear so they could complete the summoning ritual.

That being established, the two returned to New Orleans to meet with Tardiff. They decided to make an anonymous tip to the police about Fowler and informed their patron, Charles Sunstram, of all that had transpired.

Keeper Notes:This last part was a pretty quick session, but we weren’t quite able to finish in part two. I was rather impressed by this old adventure - I ran it pretty close to as written, though I did add an extra clue here or there as it seemed there were a few too many pinch points. New Orleans was a nice diversion from our New England based campaign and over the years I’ve come to appreciate the Robert Chalmers that influenced HP Lovecraft.
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Sentinels of Echo City Deluxe Now Available

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 14:33
The complete book for Sentinels of Echo City Deluxe Edition is now available! Whew.

I wanted to lay out the game plan for the near future...

There will be a print edition in a few weeks. I have been through this with a fine-tooth comb. That said, there is probably SOMETHING that I missed. I want to give it a few weeks to go back with fresh eyes before putting it in print. It is much easier to update a pdf than to tell people the print book they just ordered has some errors.

I have a plan for long-term sustainability. I plan to release a 24-page game update bi-monthly. I have notes for the first six of these. I didn't include the second Echo City Team Up characters, setting, and adventure in this core rule book, because these are going to be part of a larger 'under the sea' supplement that will be in the first few updates. The first one is going to focus on the Powers Family, and we'll be going under the sea in the second or third update. I don't have a title for these yet... I do love the name "Echo City Team Up", so I may just go with a second volume of that... I decided on a $9.95 price point for the book, because A) it is significantly longer than the other games I've done, and B) all supplements for it are going to be pay-what-you want, meaning that this is the only investment you'll ever have to make, and everything else will be optional.

I'd love to hear your feedback, and I'd welcome any help to spread the word about this book. It's all open content, so you are free to make, share, and publish your own updates. Please do! Tell your friends!

Thanks for the enthusiasm for this game. If it wasn't for people asking for it, I probably wouldn't have gotten around to doing it, and I am REALLY proud of the final product.

- Mike

The Gateway of Tsathoggua's Madness - The Volcano Lands Olathoë' Session Report Fourteen

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 06:46
The world upheld their pillars for awhile: Now, where imperial On and Carthage stood, The hot wind sifts across the solitude The sand that once was wall and peristyle; Or furrows like the main each tawny mile Where, ocean-deep above its ancient food Of cities fame-forgot, the waste is nude, Traceless as billows of each sunken pile. Lo! for that wrong shall vengeance come at last, When the Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
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Dan’s Top 19 RPGs - #8 - RuneQuest

19th Level - Sat, 04/07/2018 - 18:08




RuneQuest is a game I’d love to get a bit more time playing. The first version I picked up was the Avalon Hill-published, Chaosium-produced 3rd edition of the game. For many, if not most people, RuneQuest is equivalent to Glorantha, the default setting of the game. However, the 3rd edition took place on a fantasy version of Earth, with Glorantha detailed in a book in the boxed set.
My own experience with RuneQuest is in using it as the rules for a fantasy version of Earth, with the PCs being either Vikings or Lenape Native Americans, covering a fictional colony set up by Vikings in Manhattan around 1000 AD. It featured evil dwarfs, dragons, and lots of violence. It was a lot of fun. If it went much longer I think I would have thrown in some ninjas and dinosaurs... We actually used a fairly crunchy version of the rules, as designed by Nash and Whitaker for Mongoose Publishing, a set of rules that became the basis for The Design Mechanism’s RuneQuest 6th Edition and later Mythras. Chaosium, after a long journey, has the rights back to both the game and the rules and is in the process of producing a new edition, RuneQuest Glorantha.
What’s the appeal of RuneQuest? For me, it’s the skill-based characters. Without classes, you can make any character you want. With a simple percentile skill system it is easy to know how good your character is at something. And characters will rarely have enough hit points to guarantee surviving a single hit from a sword, combat is very exciting - lots of parrying and maneuvering. The Nash and Whitaker incarnation of RuneQuest greatly detailed the maneuvers possible, with characters getting additional options depending on how well they attack or defend. This was sometimes a little too crunchy for my tastes but it did make combat very exciting. From what I’ve seen, Chaosium appears to be throttling back on this a bit, going back to something closer to the 2nd and 3rd editions of the game. Still quite a few options, but not quite as crunchy. I’m considering RuneQuest to be a single game, unlike the different editions of D&D. Unlike D&D versions, RuneQuest character sheets from one edition tp the next look quite similar to one another, albeit with a lot more details as the editions go up. The editions aren’t quite as similar to one another as they are for its sibling, Call of Cthulhu. This is perhaps not too surprising considering the game has had four publishers - Chaosium, Avalon Hill, Mongooe, and The Design Mechanism. 
RuneQuest is also well known for its magic systems. The base game assumes that everyone is able to use magic, though for most this amounts to very minor magics like sharpening a blade. It is possible to become a dedicated priest in all of the editions and many of them also allow for sorcerers. Nash and Whitaker opened it up to shamans, divine priests, sorcerers, and mentalists. They also provided dials for how magical a world you wanted - you could,for example, take away the ability of everyone to use magic quite easily. It was also used by Mongoose for gaming in Lankhmar, though, truth to tell, I was a bit disappointed by those books. 
I’ve never gamed in Glorantha which makes me a bit uncomfortable commenting on one of its best known aspects. Glorantha is very much a fantasy setting. The gods in that setting are very real. The afterife is a very concrete thing, reducing fear of death quite a bit - and giving an emphasis on becoming legendary for one’s deeds. I like how it gets away from the default medieval fantasy of most games, going for more of a Bronze Age fantasy - and with a strong emphasis on different cultures, from the very primitive to empires. I’ve been giving some serious thought to trying out a Glorantha-based game of late.
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Echo City Map

The Splintered Realm - Sat, 04/07/2018 - 15:01
I absolutely love the map that Michael Hansen did a few years ago for Echo City. It created a visual for the city that was different than the one I had in my head, but it was also a thousand times better. In putting the book together, I went to include that map. However, I realized that the file was a bit small, so it became grainy when I blew it up for inclusion in the book. Even more, though, I realized that I couldn't do anything with it... it was a finished file that I didn't have the ability to modify, add to, or tailor further. It was a finished product. I figured it would be worth the time to do my own version of it, breaking the files up so that I could manipulate them and create various layers of the pieces of Echo City, but also in a large enough file that I could go to the street level and put in actual buildings or places of interest as we go forward, updating the primary map. I present to you, the map of Echo City 2.0 (and the black and white version that will be inside the rule book):


Behold! The Sword of Power! Excalibur! - Destiny Against The Darkness In Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 04/07/2018 - 06:02
"Look upon this moment. Savor it! Rejoice with great gladness! Great gladness! Remember it always, for you are joined by it. You are One, under the stars. Remember it well, then... this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say, "I was there that night, with Arthur, the King!" For it is the doom of men that they forget." Merlin, following the decisive British Victory Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
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Dating Modules - Slavers, Elemental Evil, Giants

Greyhawk Grognard - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 23:19
A fun, and sometimes necessary when delving into the deep lore of the published adventures, pastime is to try to figure out when, exactly, a given adventure module takes place. Originally, of course, the early modules such as Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, had no definitive date beyond their year of publication. Too, some are completely location-based, like Tomb of Horrors, and thus could take place in any number of time-periods, as needed.

But some do take place in specific years in the World of Greyhawk setting, based either on the characters or events mentioned therein, or in later publications. Using the good but sometimes flawed Greychrondex as a jumping off point, I thought I'd take a pass at determining when some of the classic modules that have been my focus here, might take place.

A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity
A2 Secret of the Slavers Stockade
A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords
A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords

This is probably the most straightforward series of adventures to date. In the much-later follow-up, Slavers, we are given specific dates for the earlier events:
After a year of preparation, recruitment, and organization, the Slavelords began their operations in 576 CY. Yellow-sailed pirate ships, under the command of the Slavelord Eanwulf, began raiding the coasts of the Sea of Gearnat, from Onnwal to the Wild Coast. In addition to netting slaves, these raids sowed terror throughout the region. The fact that the local militias proved unable to stop the Slavers only heightened the fear spreading across the land.The Slavelords' operations ran for four years. (Slavers, p. 121)So that sticks a pin in module A4 for CY 580, four years after the start of their piratical raids in 576. Nice and neat. Oh, and Slavers itself takes place ten years later, in 590, but that's kinda out of my current period of interest.

T1 The Village of Hommlet
T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil

The timing of Hommlet and the Temple of Elemental Evil begins with the Battle of Emridy Meadows, which the timeline in the Gazetteer and Guide to the World of Greyhawk place at CY 569. In the Introduction to Temple of Elemental Evil, we read:
For five years afterward [after the Battle of Emridy Meadows], the village and the surrounding countryside have become richer and more prosperous than ever before. ... The villagers heaved a collective sigh -- some pained at the loss of income, but others relieved by the return to the quiet, normal life -- and Hommlet continued its quiet existence for four years more. But them, a year ago, the bandits began to ride the roads again -- not frequently, but to some effect. ... This information has been spread throughout the countryside, and the news has attracted outsiders to the village once again. (Temple of Elemental Evil, p. 5)So, 569 + 5 + 4 + 1 = 579. The PCs are supposed to arrive at Hommlet, and take on the Temple, in 579. Crap, I need to revise my latest Greyhawk's World article. Because I put it in 578. Dammit.

G1 The Steading of the Hill Giant Chief
G2 The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl
G3 The Hall of the Fire Giant King
D1 Descent into the Depths of the Earth
D2 Shrine of the Kuo-Toa
D3 Vault of the Drow
Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits
GDQ1-7 Queen of the Spiders

Oy. Here we go.

Here we have something of a confused muddle, when it comes to the giants, and the drow, and all that. On the one hand, Temple of Elemental Evil implies that the events of G1-D3 happen before that module:
Lareth was one who sought to serve both the Temple and Lolth. And although Lolth hated Zuggtmoy's Elemental Evil, she so lusted for power that she accepted such service. Had she not been routed, her dark followers so crippled, much might have come of this.But as it transpired, Lolth could -- and can yet -- give only encouragement, without physical or magical aid, to those who call on her. (Temple of Elemental Evil, p. 29)That certainly sounds like a description of the aftermath of a bunch of PCs going through the Vault of the Drow and slaying Lolth's mortal form. So, based on that tidbit, we might be strongly tempted to put the GDQ modules in the 577-578 time-frame. That mostly squares with the later module Against the Giants - The Liberation of Geoff, which explicitly says they take place "in the years 576-580 CY" (p. 2).

However, if we accept that Temple of Elemental Evil took place in 579, and D3 took place before that (with Lolth's mortal form being slain), that 580 reference cannot be right. It has to be earlier, because T1-4 takes place in 579, and Lolth has already been slain.

It gets worse, though, because in the combined version of the modules, GDQ1-7 Queen of the Spiders, which has a different introduction, explicitly claims that the Eilservs were backing the Slave Lords!
Two noble families, House Eilserv and the lesser House Tomtor, have sought to extend their power over the surface world through actively encouraging evil agents in the lands above. It is house Eilserv that provided the support for the slave lords of the Pomarj, and have been rallying the giants of the Crystalmist mountains to raid the human lands. (GDQ1-7 Queen of the Spiders, p. 4)So we have:
  • The Giants modules take place between 576 and 580 
  • The Giants modules take place before 579 
  • The Giants modules take place after 576 and before 580 
So here's my brilliant theory as to how the drow could have been supporting the slavers after the events of Vault of the Drow.

The support for the Slave Lords given by House Eilserv was early on, while the slavers were still getting organized. It had certainly ended before the Slave Lords themselves were destroyed, since by that time the events of D3 happened, and Lolth had already been destroyed. One point that would support this even further is the background of one of the Slavers, the drow fighter-cleric Edralve:
Edralve is an exile from Erelhei Cinlu, from which she barely escaped after an abortive coup. (In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords, p. 20)And I think that fits perfectly. The whole motivating force behind the actions of Eclavdra and House Eilserv in the whole Giant/Drow series of adventures is to seize control of the Vault of the Drow away from the priestesses of Lolth. If Edralve was indeed the representative of House Eilserv among the Slavers, it makes perfect sense that once the Eilserv plot was undone by the PCs, she would be stuck in the Pomarj, unable to return home. And that would also fit in neatly with the original plan for Q1, which would have seen both Lolth and the Elder Elemental God dealt with once and for all, because the full imprisonment of the EEG would render the Eilservs and Tormtors largely powerless.

Okay, so that works out pretty well.

The other fly in this ointment is the fact that later on in the timeline, we see that the giants actually won. They overrun Sterich and Geoff in CY 583, according to the Greyhawk Wars Adventurers Book:
Atop these other setbacks came a new threat from the Crystalmists: giants, ogres, and other hideous creatures, long held at bay, surged into the mountain vales of Geoff and Sterich. The rulers of these lands sent frantic appeals to King Skotti of Keoland, but, with the bulk of his army gone, the king had little help to offer. Even his reserves were largely committed to the Ulek frontier. Nonetheless, King Skotti scraped together what forces he could and offered them to Earl Querchard of Sterich, provided the earl recognize Keoland's authority over him. Negotiations wasted precious time: before the two could come to terms, Sterich and Geoff were overrun. (Greyhawk Wars Adventurers Book, p. 20)The CY 583 date is explicitly corroborated in Against the Giants - The Liberation of Geoff: 
In Fireseek of 583 CY, the cluster of cloud islands reached the southernmost tip of the Crystalmists. ... Coordinating the alliance had taken several months, and devising the plan of attack would take several more (especially considering the dull minds of some of the lesser giants). Gorroda was finally ready to strike in the middle of High Summer, sending messages to all of her subject tribes to attack when the large moon was new. (Against the Giants - The Liberation of Geoff, p. 4) Now, that still doesn't get us too twisted yet, because it's entirely possible that the reference to the giants being "long held at bay" could refer to the original G1-3 series, with PCs coming in and blunting their attacks. Fine. The attack in 584 is a follow-up to the original raids in 577-8.

But...

Here we come back to Against the Giants - The Liberation of Geoff. And here's where things go all cattywampus. From the Using the Classics with the New Material section:
If you wish to use these classic adventures [G1-3] as part of the "Liberation of Geoff" plotline, there are two main ways to do this. The first is to have these events take place ten to fifteen years in the past and set them somewhere in Geoff or Sterich; the new material can represent a new crisis which the heroes who defeated the last giant incursion have been asked to deal with. In this case the three original adventures can be run "as is." The second is to move them to the present day (591 CY) and shift their settings for easier use withthe new information in this product.Ugh. Honestly, things would be easier if they just left well enough alone, but here they have to go around talking about moving things in the timeline. Fortunately, the whole thing starts with a great big "if", so I'm going to go with a canonical assessment that moving the classic modules around was simply presented as an option, and their inclusion in the module does not necessitate such movement, even if it is seemingly encouraged by filling up more than a third of the book with a reprint of those three modules.

So basically, ignore the "you can move those old modules to the new era" stuff, and keep the background as written, for Liberation of Geoff. We're still left with the original giants in 577-578, and have some more supporting evidence.

To recap, here's what we come up with looking through the source material:
  • CY 576: Slavers appear and have drow support
  • CY 577: Giant raids start
  • CY 578: Giants/Drow modules events occur, Temple bandits start to re-appear, drow support for Slave Lords ends
  • CY 579: Temple of Elemental Evil events occur
  • CY 580: Slave Lords modules events occur
That is certainly different than the "accepted" mega-campaign sequence that's been described over the years, which is Temple of Elemental Evil, then Slave Lords, then Giants/Drow, with the expectation that it's all one PC party doing all the work, and the modules increase in difficulty as they rise in level.

That leaves us with a few implications as to how to make the sequence work "as is" from a canon timeline perspective. More on that anon, perhaps. For now, we've seen where the evidence leads us in terms of where these modules belong. Sweet Myhriss's Lips, I hope they're not all this hard to work out!
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Asmodee Digital Bringing Terraforming Mars to Steam, iOS, and Android

Gamer Goggles - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 12:46

Asmodee Digital Bringing Terraforming Mars to Steam, iOS, and Android

 

Invade Space on PC and Mobile with Updated Graphics and Beyond

 

PARIS — April 4, 2018 — Asmodee Digital, the industry leader in digital board game entertainment, announced today they are bringing Fryxgames’ award-winning strategy board game, Terraforming Mars, to Steam (PC), Google Play, and the Apple App Store. Developed by LUCKYHAMMERS, the digital edition of Terraforming Mars will launch into Early Access in May and full launch happening later in Q2 of this year.

 

Faithfully developed alongside the game’s original creator, Jacob Fryxelius, the digital edition of Terraforming Mars is a true adaptation of the cult classic board game. Each player competes as a powerful corporation tasked with terraforming the Red Planet. Players create oceans, plant forests, import resources from Earth, and more in an effort to make Mars habitable for human life. Mars may be an unforgiving planet, but the real enemies are the competing organizations who will stop at nothing to claim Mars for themselves by sabotaging resources, crashing asteroids into fields, and wreaking havoc on mission-critical systems.

 

Players can compete across several game modes including two unique single-player modes where the player can play solo (just like the board game) or against AI controlled opponents, pass-and-play local multiplayer, and +online multiplayer in intense turn-based strategic gameplay.

 

“Terraforming Mars captured our imagination the moment we laid our eyes on it. Not only is it the most demanded and highest rated board game since its launch in 2016, it’s a far out trip to Mars!” says Philippe Dao, Chief Marketing Officer of Asmodee Digital. “We’re thrilled to work alongside Fryxgames in bringing their masterpiece to life for digital audiences.”

 

The physical edition of Terraforming Mars launched in 2016 and became an instant cult classic among board game enthusiasts. The game was named one of the best 50 games of 2016 by Popular Mechanics, ars technica listed the game as one of its 20 best games of 2016, and Vulture called it “the best high strategy game of 2016.”

 

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Details on Faeries for the Majestic Wilderlands

Bat in the Attic - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 12:29
Two years ago I made a post how I got a handle on how faeries work in my setting. The basic issue is that there are multiple interpretations of why faeries are what they are in myth and legend. This means in order to roleplay faeries there is no definitive source for the referee to use. Many of the major ones didn't click with me until I came with the approach I outlined below. I like it because it preserve the mercurial and seemly random nature of faeries but provides a consistent starting point for an encounter.

I collected the Faeries entries from the legendarium I am working on for my Majestic Fantasy RPG and posted it as a PDF here.

FAERIES
Magic in the Majestic Wilderlands is the force of creation made manifest. Before the creation of the Abyss and the Chromatic Crystals, the inherent level of magic was low. In order to be harnessed as a spell, it was laboriously gathered in a ritual and infused into a scroll, charm, or magical device. After the creation of the Chromatic Crystal, someone with a disciplined will could cast a spell without the use of a device.

Over the centuries magic did not turn into a science or craft because it was influenced by an individual’s emotional and mental state. What worked for one individual, often didn’t work for another. This susceptibility of magic to emotion had another consequence, the creation and evolution of faeries.

Faeries are creatures, and monsters born out of the ambient level of magic that flow throughout the Wilderlands. The emotional life of elves, men, and even plants and animals give birth to these creatures including the faeries that developed sentience. The nature of their birth has left all faeries with a singular drive to recreate the emotions that give them life. This typically manifests with the faeries using their abilities to recreate the circumstances of their birth. Using magic, to manipulate the environment and those around them into playing out certain stories and emotions, over and over again. This can led to dangerous situations when emotions like anger, hate, and fear are part of the faerie’s nature.

The key to dealing with the Faeries is to understand the emotions and stories that gave them birth.

The Elves and the Faerie
When the Wilderlands was created there were two sentient races; Elves and Men. The Elves were born as the glory of the Wilderlands, as a shining example of the potential of life. They were given great gifts however the price was that their fate was tied to the Wilderlands. One reason is the innate magic of the Wilderlands sustains their immortality and other gifts. Because of this, the elves feel kinship with the faeries, and in general will help them fulfill their nature. For the faeries that have the negative emotions as their nature the elves will still help them but try to do it in isolated locations far from the other races of the Wilderlands. Many elves realms have a large population of faeries.
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DC at Marvel Collected Edition

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 11:00


In case you missed the previous installments, here's a collated list of the posts I've done so far based on the idea that the staff at Marvel in the late 50s early 60s got to revamp DC's Golden Age characters (except for those that never stopped being published. The idea was introduced here.

All the characters presented so far are statted for the TSR Marvel Superheroes rpg:

The Atom The Nuclear Man!
Green Lantern Most Cosmic Hero of Them All!
Hawkman Master of Flight!
And a couple of villains Silver Scarab, the nemesis of Hawkman, and Star Sapphire--is she Green Lantern's lover or his enemy--or both?


Review & OSR Commentary On RPGPundit Presents #26: Mutant Hordes of the Last Sun For Your Old School Wasteland Campaigns

Dark Corners of RPGing - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 01:35


So today it wad great anticipation that I grabbed a copy of Rpg Pundit Presents 26 Mutant Hordes of the Last Sun. I asked for this copy of what looks like Rpg Pundit's dip into the OSR  post apocalyptic rpg scene with the Last Sun setting. Sort of a Dying Earth meets gonzo OSR rpg style game setting, Dungeon Crawl Classic or Mutant Crawl Classic players are going to feel right at home here as will Mutant Future rpg fans. There's also a good shot of Tolkein's Middle Earth playing to the strains of some weird Eighties sound track here. None of this is a bad thing for the OSR zine presentation of this setting;

" In the gonzo world of the Last Sun, human beings are an endangered species. After the Great Disaster, human numbers have steadily declined throughout the world. Although a few areas still contain a human majority (like the city of Arkhome, detailed in RPGPunditPresents #16 and #20), true humans are a very rare breed throughoutmost of the world.
While humans have been hunted to near-extinction in some areas (like the Middle-Northern Wildlands, detailed in RPGPundit Presents #15), it was mostly mutation rather than depredation that
has apparently doomed humanity. The time of the Great Disaster, when the Dark Ones entered the world of the Last Sun and waged war against all life, caused an enormous amount of ecological damage to
the world. The disappearance of the Ancients, crash of G.O.D. into Emergency Mode, and rebellion of the AI Daemons meant that there was no central control. The loss of the Dwarven Machineholds to the
servants of the Dark One also meant that all the machinery that kept strict control over the climate of the world was no longer accessible.
The war of the Pythian Elves and their allies against the Dark Ones on the surface of the world created devastation, both technological (radiation and other toxic effects) and magical. As a result of all this,
not only did many humans die, but many more were mutated into horrific monsters and monster-races, like the humanoids usually described as goblin-kin. A majority were changed into what are now
simply referred to as mutants—they are human-like, but no longer human creatures"
So basically Rpg Pundit is steadily working on an OSR post apocalyptic rpg and testing the waters of the marketplace with a slick mutant race generator with a strong eye towards the gonzo end of the spectrum. This product clocks in at eighteen pages & is full of random generators for everything from your mutant's tribal factional background, powers, type, color, & potential additional physical qualities. In addition there's a psychic powers system built into the product that can work in a wide variety of OSR products. Finally there's a random mutant quirky qualities & weirdness table. And there's actually a couple of pieces of pretty decent artwork along with the usual quality layout to the product line. 




Mutant generators walk a very fine line when it comes to execution they have to have enough useful information & lots of great random tables without taking away from the tool box nature of the product. Rpg Pundit Presents 26 Mutant Hordes of the Last Sun succeeds in that regard. The three dollar price tag means that the dungeon master can roll up a wide variety of NPC mutants without breaking the bank. It also means that the players have addition customization tools right at their finger tips. There's enough meet on the Mutant Hordes of the Last Sun eighteen pages to give a good idea of the direction of the product without boxing the players completely and utterly into the setting.
There's just enough guidance to randomly determine if your PC is a mutant, and what kind of classes he can play without strong arming the player into a corner of dead ends & penalties that many other OSR & old school post apocalyptic products have done in the past. Yes I'm looking at you Ares section of Dragon magazines of ages past.
There's a lot here that can be done with Rpg Pundit Presents 26 Mutant Hordes of the Last Sun from factional NPC mutant characters to full fledged psychic mutant PC's whose presence won't destroy your wastelands.
The inclusion of a working psychic powers system is a nice addition for only three dollars & I can see using this generator for creating humanoid mutant alien species as well. This generator would work well for creating mutant tribes & NPC's on failed colony worlds for science fiction or science fantasy worlds. There's enough here to add mutant PC's to a wide variety of OSR games. The three dollar price tag makes this a nice & solid product for use with OSR games. I don't know if the Last Sun setting is for me but the Rpg Pundit Presents 26 Mutant Hordes of the Last Sun is a welcome addition to the post apocalyptic Dungeon master's arsenal. So this one is a five out of five in my book!

GRAB RPGPundit Presents #26: Mutant
Hordes of the Last Sun RIGHT HERE
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Character Sheet Update

The Splintered Realm - Thu, 04/05/2018 - 18:44
Here is the revised character sheet for the Deluxe Edition... I got it back to a half-sheet, which I prefer. I expanded it for Absolute Power, but kind of missed the old half-sheeter. It is a little bit tight, but I like it. You can see how I trimmed a little bit of the fat from the game, but didn't lose anything in the bargain.
The draft is finished. The book is going to be 192 pages. I still have to put together the index, do all the page references throughout, and do one more good edit. However, I don't see any reason the book shouldn't be available by the end of next week. It's a nifty looking package. It has over 40 pieces of art (including maps), which are almost all new pieces. It has everything from the core rules, absolute power, Echo City Team Up #1, some GM notes from Splintered Realms Magazine #1, and a pretty solid update to Echo City (which was from a guide to Echo City that I had half written but never finished). The mechanics are streamlined and updated, and I have added a few tweaks here and there, including a 3-page section on battlesuits and a 3-page section on magic.
Here is the new character sheet to tinker with...

A Knight Before The Darkness - H.P. Lovecraft, Appendix N, & The Mutating Underworld In Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 04/05/2018 - 18:29
"Then down the wide lane betwixt the two columns a lone figure strode; a tall, slim figure with the young face of an antique Pharaoh, gay with prismatic robes and crowned with a golden pshent that glowed with inherent light. Close up to Carter strode that regal figure; whose proud carriage and swart features had in them the fascination of a dark god or fallen archangel, and around Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Yes - magic.

3d6 Traps & Thieves - Thu, 04/05/2018 - 14:18
I've listened to people insist that "Because - magic" is a copout in fantasy fiction or gaming.



Okay. Agreed. Tentatively.

These are many of the same folks that seem fine with dodging laser blasts, fiery explosions in space, and lightsabers - but, that's cool.

Right now, I only care to address this in regard to the Avremier setting. Avremier has magic. In fact, to some extent, the setting IS magic. If you see things like islands floating on the surface of the sea, a group of mountains sitting by themselves in an area that looks unlikely for mountains, a great big rubble-choked gap between two broken halves of the planet, or a diseased-looking moon hanging suspiciously close to the world - assume there are valid reasons - probably to do with elemental, divine, or magical forces. But, trust that there will be a purpose behind it all. Not to serve as a plot device. Not because it looks kewl. Not for the sake of being weird. But, because the setting warranted it.

Because - verisimilitude.


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Initial Thoughts on Mythic India

Greyhawk Grognard - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 23:32
So no sooner do I make a post about the projects that I've got going on at the moment, but I start knocking out the "in progress" stuff almost immediately. Obviously that leaves a hole, and my nature abhors a creative vacuum.

I've not committed to it yet, but I'm toying with doing a "mythic India" version of my Golden Scroll of Justice book, which was centered on mythic China. So, essentially a supplement to provide Indian-themed races, classes, skills, magic, and monsters to your 1E, ADD, LL, SW, and so forth, games.

The obvious player in this sphere is the RPG Pundit's excellent Arrows of Indra, which I absolutely love. So if I do decide to go this route, I will be consciously trying to take a different direction than the one he took. Where his work is firmly based in history, with magic thrown in, mine will be analogous to "Medieval Europe is to AD&D as Medieval India is to mythic India".

Terrific game, and one I want to
consciously avoid copyingIn other words, I'll play (much) faster and looser with the material, in the same way that Gygax and Arneson took Biblical miracles and turned them into spells (part water) and magic items (staff of the serpent), and took Ancient and Medieval European realities and turned them into 2nd century BC druids, 11th century clerics, and 17th century cavaliers rubbing shoulders in gleeful defiance of historical timelines.

History and mythology will be an inspiration, but not a guide. The tropes of Dungeons and Dragons will be maintained, and the source material will be changed to serve them, if needed.

But there are other fantasy India products out there. Against the Dark Yogi. Sahasra. Tales from the Ganges (sadly no longer in print). Probably others, too. I'll want to make sure I do something that stands out from that crowd, and takes the source material in a unique direction.

In one way, I have an advantage because I'm putting everything into the larger 1st edition meta-setting and using the ADD rules. For instance, take the elements. In classic Hindu cosmology, there are five elements - air, earth, fire, water, and void. So, like I did with Golden Scroll, I'll have to account not only for the new void elemental, but the resulting para- and quasi- elementals that result from the introduction of yet another elemental plane. (That's in addition to the elemental plane of metal which Golden Scroll introduced.)

As an aside, I love the metaphysical ambiguity that having such relative planar geography causes. It's one of those things you can just say "it's a mystery that sages cannot explain" and it adds depth to the whole cosmology.

It's also the case that I will not be including a setting with the book. Like AD&D and Golden Scroll, there will be some "implied setting" stuff by necessity, but this will be a sourcebook for DMs who want to create their own mythic India, not a setting unto itself.

I want to turn this into a gameable mechanicSince I'd be using Golden Scroll as a model, I'd want something to use in the same way that I used the skill system for kung fu. The obvious choice is yoga. There are some pretty out-there types of yoga, many of which claim all sorts of supernatural benefits. That will be my framework.

New sub-classes of clerics and mages are a given. Races? Monkey-men (vanaras) to be sure. I'd like to come up with at least one more. I'm thinking apsaras and gandharvas might be a good choice for the basis of a new sub-type of elf. Pointed ears aside, they could be good choices; associated with music, dancing, and sex. Remember, these aren't supposed to be exact correspondences - in a game where "medusa" becomes a type of monster rather than the specific name of one of only three Gorgons, it makes sense, in much the same way as the Norse Alfar don't map to elves in the details, but they do in the broad strokes. Is there an Indian analogue for a dwarf? Research will tell (or maybe someone in the comments).

I'm not saying it's aliens, but...Now, much like I tried to make Golden Scroll an amalgam of Chinese folklore and mythology along with some of the tropes of modern kung-fu movies, so too would I really love to figure out a way to bring in some Bollywood tropes into the mix. Is this my chance to write rules for romance? Or will I be able to bring in some sort of weird song and dance number into adventures. This will take a lot of thought, but as they say "you make rules for things you want to happen in the game." I would add as a corollary that "you make things meaningful, fun, and rewarding, or else the players will ignore them." Ahem.

Finally, I have to put some ancient astronaut weirdness in here. Several episodes of the History Channel show Ancient Aliens dealt with India, and specifically called out vimanas as being flying craft or spaceships that would sit on top of Hindu temples. Oh MAN do I have to include that.

Now, this doesn't mean I'm necessarily throwing my hat into this particular ring. I've got a bunch of other ideas that are percolating in my mind, which I might talk through in some subsequent posts. But getting these sorts of initial thoughts down helps me organize things in my mind, which is a good thing.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Depravity of Monsters - Drawing From The Darkness of Appendix N & Dungeons

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 17:58
Monster placement is essential in Dungeons & Dragons adventures but what happens when the monsters bring the dungeon with them?! Last night I got a chance to sit in on one of my favorite Atomic sci fi films Them from 1954. I was thinking about the film's influence on me when it comes to running adventures. The pacing, investigative aspect of the monster movie, and even the lay out of the lairNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

David Sutherland Day 2018

Zenopus Archives - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 16:00
 Sutherland's art from the title page of the Basic rulebook
2018 update:

It's once again David Sutherland Day so I've bumped this post (previously bumped last year). David would have been 69 today. Feel free to add a new comment below about his work.

Of note, there is now a Sutherland appreciation group on Facebook called:

The Scaly Sacrarium of Sutherland

And did you know that David Sutherland made his own customized lizard warriors that resemble his drawing from the Foreword of Holmes Basic? The one at the top of this blog? See this 2013 post on the Zenopus Archives for more on this:

DCSIII Customized Saurians

Original post from 2013

Today marks the birthday of my favorite TSR artist, the late David C. Sutherland III (aka DCSIII), who passed away too young (age 56) in 2005. I've designated April 4th as "David Sutherland Day". Dave's work defines the look of D&D in 1977, when his art graced the cover of the Holmes Basic Set and first AD&D hardback, The Monster Manual. His work also defined the look of Holmes Basic, being used for the both the cover, the title page (posted above) and foreword (the lizard rider that graces the title of my blog). He was also responsible for most of the artwork for the first Basic module, B1 In Search of the Unknown.

Tome of Treasures has a page with an extensive listing of his TSR credits.

In 2012 his Basic Set artwork was featured in a line of retro t-shirts from WOTC. And in 2013 his original painting was recovered from a crate at the WOTC offices.

Please post a comment on what your favorite work(s) of his.

Here are a few somewhat obscure pieces from Swords & Spells (1976) that are very much in the same style as the Holmes title page piece:






Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Battlesuit Examples

The Splintered Realm - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 12:10
I remember looking through the Weapons Locker supplement for the Marvel Superheroes RPG and being amazed at how the different armors worked, and how there were so many different varieties of armor for Iron Man. I thought it was cool to have a character who could put on different battlesuits depending on the situation. However, I'd never been able to design a system that allowed for that level of variety while still having some semblance of game balance.

Until now.

I present to you, the Persister Battlesuit, including generations to get to level 3, and the three alternate suits for level 3:


Persister Battlesuit Mark 1
(base suit at level 1; 12 BPs); Grants +4 hp
STR 14 [-]; CON 14 [-]; PWR 12 [4]; Body Armor [-]; Bolt (1d6/30’) [2]; Flight [2]; Imperviousness (1d4) [2]; Strike (1d6) [2]

Persister Battlesuit Mark 4
(base suit at level 2; 25 BPs); Grants +8 hp
STR 15 [2]; CON 15 [2]; PWR 14 [8]; Body Armor [-]; Bolt (1d8/60’) [4]; Flight [2]; Imperviousness (1d6) [3]; Strike (1d6) [2]; Trick Weapon System (30’) [2]

Persister Battlesuit Mark 9
(base suit at level 3; 40 BPs); Grants +15 hp
STR 16 [4]; CON 16 [4]; PWR 16 [12]; Air Supply [2]; Body Armor [-]; Bolt (1d8/90’) [5]; Electronic Countermeasures [2]; Flight [2]; Imperviousness (1d8) [4]; Strike (1d6) [2]; Trick Weapon System (60’) [3]

Persister Battlesuit Mark 10: Bruiser Battlesuit
(first alternate suit at level 3; 40 BPs); Grants +18 hp
STR 20 [12]; CON 18 [8]; PWR 12 [4]; Body Armor [-]; Bolt (1d8/60’) [4]; Flight [2]; Imperviousness (1d10) [5]; Strike (1d12) [5]
This suit is for situations requiring a lot of muscle.

Persister Battlesuit Mark 11: Infiltrator Battlesuit
(second alternate suit at level 3, 40 BPs); Grants +12 hp
STR 14 [-]; CON 14 [-]; PWR 18 [16]; Air Supply [2]; Body Armor [-]; Bolt (1d6/60’) [3]; Chameleon [2]; Electronic Countermeasures [2]; Imperviousness (1d6) [3]; Sneak [2]; Sonar (3 miles) [4]; Utility Belt [2]
This suit is for situations requiring stealth.

Persister Battlesuit Mark 12: Explorer Battlesuit
(third alternate suit at level 3, 40 BPs); Grants +21 hp
STR 16 [4]; CON 20 [12]; PWR 14 [8]; Air Supply [2]; Amphibious [2]; Body Armor [-]; Bolt (1d6/60’) [3]; Imperviousness (1d8) [4]; Snare (60’) [3]; Utility Belt [2]
This suit is for non-combat situations: rescue or peacekeeping.

Notes:
- I originally thought of the STR and CON ratings as being bonuses to your existing attribute. However, that REALLY skewed things when you started with STR 6 vs. STR 12 (both normal human range). If you are getting +10 to STR from the armor, one character is ending up lifting about 20 tons while in the armor, and the other is able to lift about 200 tons. When you look at how that range (attribute 6 to 12) magnifies, you ended up with a base rating of about 14 to 15 in the scaling. Putting all armor at a base rating of STR 14 (regardless of your human STR rating) makes more sense. It also keeps you out of the problem of 'what if Hulk put on the Hulkbuster armor? Does that magnify his STR?' In this case, no.

- It took some tinkering with the numbers to get it to balance out, but I think it works well. A battlesuit hero of level 6 is going to be VERY powerful. However, level 6 is Thanos level (the current Iron Man would be level 4 in the game, so 1 level up from the examples given here). I'd put this suit at the comparable level of War Machine right now. He'd be level 3 as well. 

- I LOVE the system for trick weapons, and when you layer this (or utility belt for that matter) into this suit, it's just fantastic. I will always use the random option: In play, I go to activate the flare rocket launcher; maybe I have a flare rocket left, or maybe I swapped those out for smoke rockets. The die is about to tell me...

Wednesday Comics: The Tragically Uncollected 1963

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 11:00

1963 was a 6-issue limited series published by Image in 1993. It was a homage (and gentle parody) of the Silver Age of Marvel. It features the talents of Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, Rick Veitch, and Dave Gibbons. It is twenty years later incomplete and is unlikely to ever be completed.

The characters in 1963 are familiar without (mostly) being straight analogs. Mystery Incoporated comes the closely to a straight pastiche, by being the Fantastic Four with different powers and slightly different personality dynamics. The Fury fills the Spider-Man niche, but has a more Bucky-like backstory with hints of Daredevil. USA, Ultimate Special Agent is the Captain America stand-in, but more resembles lesser known patriotic heroes. Horus feels the Thor god-slot. Johnny Beyond is a beatnik Doctor Strange. The Hypernaut is like Iron Man by way of Green Lantern, done all Kirby/Starlin cosmic.

The issues strive for a 60s feel with faux-bullpen bulletins, fake ads, and nicknames for all the creative staff.

Attempts have been made by Bissette and Veitch to complete it or get a collection published but something has always got in the way (and that something may very well be Alan Moore who seems to now hold a grudge against Bissette) but the individual issues can be picked up relatively inexpensively.




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