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Two Hour Wargames - Sat, 09/08/2018 - 22:00
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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

One of my goals

The Splintered Realm - Sat, 09/08/2018 - 13:11
For a long time, I have admired Dyson Logos and his incredible skill. I have sometimes wondered why I even bother making maps, when he produces so many that are so strong, and many of these he releases under a creative commons license so that I could just pick 'em up and drop 'em into a module. His maps are consistently excellent, inspiring adventures that I wouldn't have thought of otherwise. However, sometimes he goes next level on me and I cannot even handle it. This is one example.

This map doesn't just inspire an adventure, but an entire series of modules. Suddenly, I have the idea for a campaign (loosely inspired by the Desert of Desolation Series) where the PCs are wandering the Astral Realm in a celestial skiff searching out pieces of an artifact while investigating all sorts of strange strongholds such as this that hold all manner of weird possibility.

This is just fantastic stuff.



Rub It Review: Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Doomslakers! - Sat, 09/08/2018 - 13:03
I scored a copy of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Rules & Magic book a few years ago.

This is a good game. It's deliciously good. I know from listening to +James Raggi in an interview that he created the game merely as a tool or a means to an end. He wanted to publish awesome, evil looking RPG books and he just felt like having a rule set of his own to link them to would be best. And he was right about that.

I have to talk about this game as both a game and a book.

The book is about 166 pages in A5 format. It's a hardback. It has color illustrations and black and white illustrations, all of which are quite good and evocative of the sort of post-medieval horror that LotFP game books shoot for.

This is a beautiful, evil, lovely book. The cover by Cynthia Sheppard is pitch perfect. The binding is incredibly good and the whole god damn thing just feels right in the hand. I'm a guy who prefers full size books, mostly due to a combination of nostalgia and due to my 47 year old eyesight. But this is perfect. The layout by Mattias Wilkström really delivers the goods. When you open the cover, you get blood red endpapers on which are printed in white text a list of equipment and costs (in silver). The red papers at the back of the book print various useful tables, such as saving throws. Very nice.

Raggi does not waste words. There is no introduction, no forward, and indeed no comment whatsoever about what you are getting ready to read. After the table of contents, you are instructed on how to roll ability scores. And you're off to the races.

Like most OSR core games, this one has no explicit setting. The setting is merely implied. It is fantasy. It is D&D. It is also post-Medieval, and there is a section of the book where a few pages describe early firearms to help set that tone.

The system is core OSR. It has ascending AC, five categories of saves, XP tables, hit dice, and so forth. Unlike most clones or quasi-clones, this one has a skill system. It is a very simple one. You have nine skills, including bushcraft and stealth. Everyone has a 1 in 6 chance of success. Some characters, such as the Specialist (thief), can allocate points to improve their skills.

There are some clever bits to this game that I love, including the Specialist. But also, I love that really only Fighters get better at fighting. Everyone else doesn't. So go suck an egg, Cleric. Famously, this game creates the only first level Magic-User spell I know of that requires 9 pages to describe: Summon. What a great spell. It feels like a super compressed summary of Raggi's famous Random Esoteric Creature Generator. I bet having this spell makes games... weirder.

All in all, the core book delivers a tightly packed and concise RPG system you can use to run any D&D module or other OSR style adventure in a sharp little package. Although I find Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells to be preferable for sword & sorcery gaming (at least by impression, I haven't played it yet), LotFP is hands down a winner for S&S gaming as well.

Get it. And then get some of those delicious adventure books/sandboxes to go with it, such as +Zak Sabbath's A Red and Pleasant Land (another lovely damn book).


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

(5e) The Claws of Madness

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 09/08/2018 - 11:16


By Chris van der Linden
LoreSmyth
5E
Level 1

For centuries, Aelmor Monastery near the port town of Sestone was a safe haven for scholars, monks, and pilgrims seeking enlightenment, its renowned library home to an enormous collection of ancient manuscripts, tomes, and peculiar writings. After suffering a devastating attack at the hands of a possessed monastery elder, Aelmor fell into ruin, its troubled past forgotten. When villagers start disappearing and turn up horribly mutated days later, fear takes a grip of Sestone. What sinister forces are at work? And to what end?

This 36 page adventure details an island and dungeon with 46 rooms. It’s slightly better than the usual 5e garbage, as the page count to room number would indicate. It tries for a creepy vibe but, still, it’s nothing more than a sub-par hack with the usual thin plot to drive things.

Generic hooks and the usual setup: disappearances, bodies, etc. Must be coming from that old monastery on the island where bad things happened! Of course it’s an island, that makes it plausible why the villagers haven’t gone there and yet puts the party close enough that at first level they can make it there. Islands in the harbor: the new sewers. Anyway, hooks and plot are for fuckwits and can always be ignored. The real question is: is this thing worth my time to slog through? As is usual, the answer is no.

I wasn’t completely sure of that answer though, at least when I first dug in. The designers appears plagued by a certain rare form of mistakes. He clearly had a vision for this, and a couple of good ideas, but had no idea how to sustain it.

Lets us examine, for example, the opening scene. A sudden commotion in the town square full of people reveals guy with tentacles bursting from him. In most adventures this would be that well-known (and shitty) “start them off with a fight!” advice. But not here. He’s not hostile. You can even help him some and/or ease his suffering. It almost makes sense! He’s a villager, he’s come back to the village for help. Why would he eat his friends?

This was followed up by a keyed map of the village … that is just that, a key and nothing much else. OMG! NOT a long drawn out description of a general store! NOT a long drawn out description of an inn! Just a map and a notation of which building is which, essentially. It’s almost like … like … the designer knows that doesn’t add value!

Then there’s the “gather information” portion of the adventure. It’s one column with some non-odious headings to help you find information. Hmmm. Not exactly terse writing, but, still, it’s only a column.

Then there’s the NPC descriptions. Here’s the one for a guy who’s got some missing shipments: “his short and stout man is a cunning negotiator and expert appraiser, always on the lookout to make a profit. His left eye has been replaced with a sapphire that he usually keeps covered with a fine purple eye patch. When he gets excited about a deal, he cracks his knuckles and stretches his arms out in front of him. His braided brown hair has distinctive dark orange streaks in it.” I could do without that last sentence, and it could be shorter, but, still, the description is focused on meaningful things. Not his life fucking story, but how to roleplay him. Oh course, the next one is full of batshit studpid trivia like “he lost his beloved dog while fishing during a stormy night”, but, still, there are hints in these things that this is not a lost cause.

Then there’s this attempt at a kind of Lovecraftian dread. Whispers in the darkness, a little bit of subtle madness, the tentacle/corruption thing. Notes are scattered throughout to help the DM with this. I don’t think it really conveys the full impact of what he’s going for … but it’s not shit either. That vibe is hard as fuck to achieve, even in a CoC game, and then throw in swords, fireballs, and a “we kill it” attitude and you can get the sense of the challenge. But his heart is in the right place and while not super effective the advice is not shitty either.

So far, things are ok. Not terrible.

Then the actual adventure starts and it goes downhill FAST.

There’s this island, with a monastery and a couple of levels of dungeon under it. It’s just stuffed full of shitty encounters. I hate to sounds like an old grump, but it reminded me of the “If Quake was done today” video. “Shoot enemies to kill them!” as on screen advice. While walking up some stairs on a cliff were confronted with this little gem: “… One of the bandits is on guard duty, scouting the area about 200 feet ahead of their camp. The adventurers can attempt to make a Dexterity (Stealth) check against the scout’s passive Perception to move closer undetected.” Ok, everybody, make a Stealth check. Why? Uh … just do it. It’s this weird game-like vibe. If captured one of the bandits will relate that there’s this mean gnoll thats a tremendous fighter that took out two bandits single-handedly! Do you think bandits refer to themselves that way? As bandits? “Four of our comrades died when we were attacked a day ago by a pack of gnolls.” It’s all awkward.

The place is just stuffed full of meaningless boring old fights. There’s a ghost … that does nothing, tells you nothing, and is meaningless. And then there’s the text padding. There’s a room titled “Catacombs Antechamber” which gets the following description: “A small anteroom serves as the entry into the catacombs. On the left and right, two wooden doors lead into a U-shaped room filled with sarcophagi. A small flight of stairs directly ahead leads down to the Crypt of Anthomodus. A ghostly presence can be felt in this area. See the “Ghostly Presence” sidebar for more information. If the characters investigate the stone door, read:”

So … it’s an antechamber? And the room looks like it does on the map? The only interesting thing is the ghostly presence sentence. Just all padding.

Also, the adventure gets NO bonus points for putting in the Hand of Vecna. Oh, it’s not CALLED the hand, but it’s the hand. Why no points for the hand? Well, because you have to gimp it, of course. Putting it on means you instantly turn CE. Ug! I hate that shit! You want some curse and shit? Fine. But your moralizing with alignment changes are LAME.

Anyway, long boring room descriptions. Long boring read-aloud. Nothing much going on except for some things to hack down. (mostly.)

Just another boring adventure, with a little bit of window dressing and a faint glimmer of hope that the designer can get better.

This is $7 at DriveThru.
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/193826/The-Claws-of-Madness-adventure-5e

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Tales of the Splintered Realm Now Available

The Splintered Realm - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 22:28
The core module for Tales of the Splintered Realm is now live. Go ahead and get your pay-what-you-want download for free, and when you realize that it is totally worth a thousand dollars, go ahead and plunk that down later on.

Let me know what you think of it, and I would be very appreciate of any reviews people would care to post. It's the best of Saga of the Splintered Realm, but even cleaner and more direct.

I am going to try for monthly module updates, and at only 8 pages a piece, that should be pretty doable. I have the first four or five planned out, but let me know what you'd like to see and I'll try to get it into the pipeline.




[REVIEW] The Sunken Fort

Beyond Fomalhaut - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 11:10
The Sunken Fort
The Sunken Fort (2018)by Nickolas Z BrownPublished by Five Cataclysms1st to 4th level
Here is a module following the now mostly lost art of funhouse dungeon design. Where old-school gaming has rediscovered a lot of things about AD&D, Basic D&D and OD&D, there are things it mostly didn’t touch with a ten foot pole. One of these things is the art of creating enormous dungeons stocked to the gills with encounters which make no sense whatsoever except through the lens of game logic. There are exceptions, but not many, and this corner of vintage gaming lies gathering cobwebs and dust, even though it seemed to have dominated the late 1970s. Without writing a separate posts on these classic funhouse dungeons, here are a few features they seemed to have in common:
  • a complete disregard for historical or social accuracy, and little attempt to emulate genre fiction;
  • a fondness for anachronism (elevators, balrog janitors, ice cream parlours) and pop culture content;
  • Disneyland fantasy (modern people operating modern shops and behaving as modern Americans, but dressed up as fantastic characters);
  • the world outside the core dungeon can also be completely abstracted (as seen in early CRPGs: “the Shop”, “the Temple”, “the Inn”);
  • reliance on cartoon logic to design some puzzles (giant magnets and stuff), and out of game knowledge to solve them (the proverbial chess problem on a giant chessboard);
  • interaction with dungeon denizens is possible, but not explicitly encouraged as a “core” feature of dungeoneering;
  • the only true goal is to entertain and challenge the players and the Dungeon Master.

The roots go back to the earliest megadungeons, and for a while, the style’s influence was tremendously influential on computer games – not necessarily CRPGs (which never got the freewheeling fantasy and high-interaction environments right), but text and graphical adventure games like Zork or Colossal Cave Adventure, which ruled the gaming world until their extinction in the late 1990s. Tabletop itself had mostly moved beyond funhouse design by the AD&D period, although late attempts like Jim Grunst’s fanmade modules (The Olde Abbey Dungeon, House of the Hawk, The Tower of Pascal the Bio-Wizard) were still floating around the Internet in the late 90s.
The Sunken Fort seems to have come from a bizarro parallel dimension where OD&D still reigns and dungeons are not Serious Business. It starts on a promising note, with a good rooms per page ratio: there are 80 keyed rooms described in 27 pages. The map never goes off the grid, but that grid is absolutely filled with rooms, and each one has something going on (this is perhaps the main thing separating the dungeon from its trve OD&D peers). Encounters are written up in a sparse format starting with an initial “first glance” summary, and moving onto individual details one by one. It is a fairly minimalist and factual treatment without flourishes or digressions; the background and the “possible lead-in quest” are intriguing (someone or something has stolen a bunch of townspeople’s shadows, and retreated into this ancient subterranean fortress), but entirely optional.
This is where the bizarre OD&D aspects start. The Sunken Fort is not actually written for pre-supplements OD&D (or S&W White Box), but an offshoot that, after a little investigation, seems to be an unpublished homebrew variant. The framework is familiar (everything uses 1d6 for HD, GP=XP is in effect, etc.), but the rules have been tinkered with, and the menagerie, magic and mental framework are “off”. It is a bit like switching on the TV late at night, and happening on a foreign channel with an intriguing TV show you almost, but don’t quite understand. As a positive, this makes for a more authentic OD&D experience than playing something after decades of familiarity: the module’s fire-bats, tube-heads (the only description we get is “1d4 tubular headed creatures with far too many fangs”) and blue hunting bears (intelligent, bipedal, have blue fur and wear tam hats) are almost all new. They are not simple reskins, but – as good monsters do – many of them bring new functionality to the game.
Not Fucking AroundThis kind of creativity extends to the encounters. All 80 rooms have a point of interest, sometimes more, and what they lack in window dressing (they often amount to “A ring of purple metal hangs from a string”, or “There are several small crates here”), they make up for in interaction. Beyond the combat encounters, tricks and traps abound: like a proper funhouse, there are always interesting, if crazy things to play with. “A skeleton rests beneath a glass panel in the floor. In its hands is clutched a scroll.” You know there is something to this room, and it is up to you to find out. Or: “The air smells of fire oil, and there are 20 pots on the floor. The floor is littered with the skeletons of mice.” Or: “A pair of legs walks about this room, bumping into various walls.” There are also classics like magic statues, rooms full of doors, rooms filled with black water, and so on. Most modern dungeons have four or five of these “specials” or set-piece encounters scattered around (if that); in The Sunken Fort, they are the main dungeon feature. It makes no literal sense, but in a roundabout way, it belongs there. Characters bit by a golden serpent will bleed gold pieces at a rate of 1 gp per Hp. A puzzle box is solved by tossing your players a Rubik’s cube [notably, a Hungarian invention]. If you start to pick up tiny magic mushrooms, you will be attacked by a swarm of tiny Conjurers (one might get ideas about how this module came to be). A room filled by a writhing mass of limbs and bodies makes for a nasty bottleneck where you can be dragged down and killed if you don’t find a way through. Quick thinking and dungeoneering skills will be put to the test several times.
Now, is this the world’s best puzzle dungeon? It has its flaws. The “special” rooms are mostly one-offs floating separately in the void, with little connecting tissue (the module introduction admits as much, although there are potential links and even mini-quests if you look at the dungeon sideways). And there is too many of them. It is very clever, and amazingly creative, but after so many puzzle rooms so close together, it sort of blurs together. This is a problem. A few such rooms drive the players to try crazy schemes and combinations; this emergent quality can get lost in a chaos when everything is a “special” (and thus, nothing is). The rooms themselves can be one-note, too. Sometimes, it is more fun to discover special features yourself, and here, they are mostly right out there before you. The “digging below the surface” aspect is there in a few places, but it is mostly missing.
Even with all these reservations, this is a good module to show your players what puzzle-oriented funhouse dungeons were made of, and it makes for a fairly authentic booklets-only OD&D experience (again, because it is so bizarre and unfamiliar).
No playtesters are credited in this publication.
Rating: *** / *****
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary Dangerous Magic - AC4 - The Book of Marvelous Magic By Gary Gygax & Frank Mentzer For Dungeons & Dragons

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 02:34
"Tell me, teacher?How does one open the cabinet of security? Of what use is the banner of bravery? And what are the limits of the sun deck? My books and scrolls tell me nothing about many of the magical treasures I've heard you mention time and again." "No, Phaedras, your manuscripts are too general. But since you have inquired, I will allow you to peruse this, one of my most treasuredNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Cryptkins™ Photo Contest

Cryptozoic - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 17:00

Have you ever spotted a Cryptkin in the wild? Well, many of you have, so we now have photographic proof that... “They Do Exist!”  Today, we take some time to feature and reflect on the Cryptkins photo contest!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rub It Review: B/X Essentials

Doomslakers! - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 15:12
+Gavin Norman has given us a lot of awesome stuff over the years. I know I've used Theorems & Thaumaturgy in past campaigns to great effect.

Now we get B/X Essentials. And the name on the tin is what you get. This is the classic B/X game in all its wonder, re-organized into a set of comprehensive volumes. And man do they hit the mark.

These books are gems. The layout is superb. The font choice is dead on the money for pinging that B/X nostalgia. The tables are perfectly presented. All the rules of the classic game are teased out and written in concise packets for maximum clarity and usefulness. The art is deliciously perfect.

All of that and the books are dished out in deliberate modules... that is, you can use one, two, three, or all of them as you choose. Want a B/X campaign that is all neanderthal? Just use the core rules and monster books and add your neanderthal stuff. Want 1e spells? Just ignore the spellbook and use the rest. It's a brilliant move to publish these in volumes instead of a single volume, despite the utility of a single volume RPG. There is utility in modules.

Lovely, reverent modules.

Nicely done, Gavin. And I tip my hat to +Andrew Walter, +Sean Poppe, +Luka Rejec, +Michael Clarke, +Alex Mayo, and all the other artists who brought wonderful visuals to this project.

Now the quandary is set in my mind... do I make stuff with an eye toward Labyrinth Lord... or B/X Essentials? Oh what a terrible decision to make! Pity me. I guess I'll do both.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/220726/B-X-Essentials-Core-Rules?src=hottest_filtered


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Adventure Time and Campaign Construction

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 11:00

Adventure Time aired its last episode this week. Eight plus years on, the show was a different sort of thing in many ways than when it started. While its gradual evolution meant it lost some of the zaniness of its earliest days, the show gained a depth of world and storytelling in its place.

But anyway, this isn't a post particularly about Adventure Time. I bring it up to point out that very little (perhaps none) of the world-building and character development done over 10 seasons was planned from the outset. Like most TV dramas up until people started complaining about it in the wake of Lost and Alias, the writers made it up as they went along. (Quite likely this is still the standard for TV dramas outside of prestige dramas, and even there they may just hide it better.)

This may not make for the best novelistic storytelling, but there are good, practical, even one might say democratic, reasons for serial fiction presented in weekly installments and at the mercy of weekly ratings to operate this way--and (I'd argue) for the rpg campaign settings to do the same.

I don't have to waste time extolling "a light touch" and  a"focus on evocative, potentially player-involving details" in regard world-building, because that's the received wisdom, right? I will add is that keeping it simple to start with not only keeps from drowning players (or purchasers of your product) in detail, it also serves not to fence you in a way that might not serve your or your players' enjoyment in the long term. The revelation of the world through play should be an experience for both player and GM--even though the GM must necessarily stay a few steps ahead in that journey.

The players are both creative consultants and the audience. Their interest guides where the focus goes. Their speculations about the world and their actions within it generate ideas for further development. And like with Adventure Time, the developments shouldn't be limited to locales, items, or monsters. It ought to extend to relationships between NPCs and even history. These developments should be doled out (and maybe even only created) in small adventure-relevant or tantalizing details not immediate info-dumps.

For instance, Adventure Time gets a lot of mileage out of showing us occasional relics of a technological past, then dropping the phrase "Mushroom War." It ensures it has our interest before it shows any nuclear war backstory.

I'm not advocating some sort of shared narrative control (Though neither am I arguing against it. Whatever works for you.), rather I'm just suggesting using player interest and action to spur world-building efforts, not just in the sense of what dungeon you'll draw next, but in what that dungeon, its denizen and their history says about the world, seems a good way to go.

OSR Commentary - Adapting C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan By Harold Johnson & Jeff R. Leason For Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 07:09
A hidden trap laden shrine stands in the middle of the jungle, the Olman peoples are long departed but the traps guard their ancient secrets & perhaps much more. The C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan is a testament to the legacy of the Olman's resolve & will. Can player's PC's make it out alive?! The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan is an adventure for 5th-7th level players that takes them Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rub It Review: BEAN! the d2 RPG

Doomslakers! - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 15:10
BEAN!

I stumbled across this gem back in 2011 or 2012. I can't remember exactly. But thank the dark gods J. Freels decided to create such a fabaceaen masterpiece.

This game has it all. Swords, spells, monsters, and BEANS. This is basically all the fun of D&D with far simpler rules and you're playing the role of a talking bean. So there.

You take some beans. You mark one side of each with a "+" or something to represent a hit. You toss your beans. The other guy tosses beans. Whoever gets the most hits wins that contest. The difference between the beans is your damage or whatever.

It's GREAT. And I have stolen that basic mechanic for my own stuff many times. In fact, that mechanic was the core of the Rabbits & Rangers game before I went with Labyrinth Lord as the engine.

So anyway... Bean is a core fantasy RPG without a setting. Like D&D, there's an implied setting... a mix of elements common to bean worlds. You might flight a b'nork or get a magic sword from a b'nelf.

The game is supported by an array of adventures and a setting book describing the World of Bean, a Guide to Terrafavus! Hell... there's even a Beans in Space book. You CANNOT GO WRONG HERE.

Five beans.

http://jeffwerx.com/BEANpage.htm

http://www.rpgnow.com/product/89574/BEAN-The-D2-RPG-Second-Edition?manufacturers_id=2927


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Nightstone Keep

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 11:09


By Ed Greenwood
Frog God Games
S&W
Levels 4-6

The characters will be able to explore the ruins of the keep, which have become a plant colony, and attempt to wrest a powerful treasure from the clutches of the araunglyd, a gigantic sentient fungus. The araunglyd will attempt to thwart the players at every turn, using its drone-like minions to harass and hinder them as they go.

This 23 page mess describes a keep with … 10 rooms? It is ABSOLUTELY a fucking mess. I think it might be another Aliens-type adventure, like Arachnophobia by Usherwood. Take Greenwoods expansive writing and combine it with Frogs utter incompetence when it comes to editing and you’ve got a very special product indeed. This thing is like it’s been through 6 passes of a translator, one of which was old english. There’s a fungus monster in the keep … and he’s got some minions? That’s about as much as I can dig up.

I don’t know who’s to blame. I suspect Greenwood for his writing style and no one at Frog pushing back … and then also an “editor’ … who I suspect didn’t read it at all. That’s the only excuse I can think of. I remind you that the Frogs put out an adventure with the wrong cover .. an no one ever seemingly caught it. It’s cra.

It’s got be be pretty fucking egregious for me to say something, and I’m saying something. “… connecting to underground areas in the Mainmain Cellarcellar beneath.” That’s not an infamous Bryce typo. That’s a$8 adventure with an editor attached. That’s not the only example. This shit happens all over the place. The Speartongue monster has “Hit Dice: 32” Not, that’s not a hit point mistake, as in it has 32 HP. It bears no relation to reality. Someone just put in 32.

The fun starts almost immediately. As you approach there are two birds atop the keep that attack you. This is a four paragraph encounter, for some fucking reason. It starts with this little gem “A mated pair of carrion graw nesting atop the keep see any characters approaching. The graw can’t immediately be seen from below, as they lie on its roof with wings spread and heads down, peering out through the gaps where merlons have fallen away. The graws will swoop to attack as soon as any character moves into the open.A mated pair of carrion graw (giant predatory birds) nesting atop the keep see any character character him” That last sentence looks like notes or something, that was expanded in to the text, maybe, that appears before it? It just ends, with the “him”, without punctuation. And the fucking adventure does this all over the place!

And the format Oh boy. It’s not room/key. There’s just a big bold heading, like “Throne Room” … and then four or five paragraphs of text explaining what is going on. Or “Main Cellar” or something like that … with seven paragraphs of text. From that you have to read it all and figure out what is going on. It’s fucking nuts. It’s not even wall of text, its something else. I have no fucking idea what to call it. No one spent ANY time trying to massage this thing in to something useful. It’s like you tries to have James Joyce write the pre-flight checklist for an airliner … sure, it’s kind of neat in a weird way, but its utterly useless for the purpose of which its intended.

This adventure, for 4th-6h level characters in a game where gold=xp, has 25sp and 148gp of treasure, as well as a Gem of Vitality … which heals you for 1d4hp every round and can bring the dead back to life. It has no downsides/curses, etc.

This is $8 at DriveThru. The preview is four pages and only shows you one page of text … the one with the start of the bird encounter on it.
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/232207/Quests-of-Doom-4-Nightstone-Keep-Swords-and-Wizardry

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Living Planet (part 5)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 11:00
My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues with his adventures in the world of Pandarve. Earlier installments can be found here.


Storm: The Living Planet (1986) (part 5)
(Dutch: De Levende Planeet)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

When last we left our heroes, the seeds that the green dwarfs had given them to breath had apparently run out and they lost consciousness. They awaken on  the shores of the lava sea. The worm hunters apparently gave them restorative pills and set them and the rest of the form debtors ashore, but stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Several of the debtors blame Storm and Ember for their fate, but one at least is grateful for what they did. He thinks he can help with their quest...


Another sees a way to make some money off it.

Storm and Ember work as cattle drovers for a couple of weeks and get new mounts and clothes. The trail boss points them in the direction of the city of Mardukan and Marduk's Palace.

Meanwhile, one of their fellow former debtors is at that palace selling them out to Marduk.


He does get the reward he was hoping for, however:

Storm and Ember reach palace in the mountains and have before them a forbidding climb. Ember remembers a back entrance through the air circulation ducts that she saw when she was a prisoner. They have to brace themselves inside the pipe and climb until they reach the maintenance ladder.  The travel through maze-like passages until finally they see light coming from an opening. Unfortunately, they are expected:


Then, everyone gets a suprise:


TO BE CONTINUED

[NEWS] Echoes From Fomalhaut #02 released in PDF

Beyond Fomalhaut - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 08:51
Echoes From Fomalhaut #02
I am happy to announce the publication of the PDF version of Echoes From Fomalhaut #02, now available from RPGNow. This issue of the zine features a complete town supplement, a guide to the Isle of Erillion mini-setting, and two adventure scenarios. People who have purchased the module in print are eligible for a free copy of this edition (these download links have just been sent out). Print copies are still available atemdt.bigcartel.com.
In other news… Echoes From Fomalhaut #01: Beware the Beekeeper is now getting close to sold out. I still have around 15 copies left, and a reprint is forthcoming, but if you’d like a copy of the first printing, this is the last call.
In yet other news, Echoes From Fomalhaut #03 is undergoing proofreading, and awaiting a few illustrations. If things go according to plan, it will be published in the second half of September. When I set out, I planned to maintain a more-or-less quarterly schedule with the zine; so far, so good!
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On Waves and Travel

Hack & Slash - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 06:35
Oh, doesn't fall always breed new campaigns? It certainly seems that way to me.
But I'm not talking about the adventure I'm playtesting, or even the game I'm going to be running for family, I'm talking about old, regular, Dungeons & Dragons that happens on a Friday, pretty much every day of the year, excepting football times? I'm not sure, my friends are reprehensible people.

They are in the water and they would sink to the bottom, but those clever bastards build a boat. So they aren't sinking to the bottom. I know, I checked. They are sailing south in mystara, somewhere around 1500 miles. It's hard to tell. It is literally difficult to read the maps.

How do we handle a wave crawl?

I'm a big fan of outlined procedures, so this is the place I'm going to do it. I mean, when I run the wave crawl, I'm going to open up this web page to do it!

"The sea is an awesome place, the home of terrible monsters, the source of unpredictable currents and strange mists, and the scene of terrible storms that can smash the strongest ship to splinters. Perhaps the most deadly of the sea's hazards, however, is the lack of landmarks. Once out of sight of land there is little to steer by. A small mistake in navigation or a sudden storm can drive a ship hopelessly off course until a familiar shore is signed. Only the braves and most hardy adventurers dare challenge the sea!" -Expert Set, page X63

Morning Bells
[  ] Navigation Check: The acting navigator rolls his Navigation skill, +2 for Astrolabe, +1 for Spyglass, and +1 for Maps. (With appropriate training, this grants about an 8% chance of some drift per day)

[  ] Then we roll on the Water Movement Modification Chart from X64, reprinted here for my convenience.

Dice RollEffect2Becalmed. No movement except by oar. Oared movement reduced to 1/3 normal amount to take into account rower fatigue.3Extreme light breeze or beating before normal winds. All movement reduced to 1/3 normal rate4Light Breeze or Quarter reaching before normal winds. All movement reduced to 1/2 normal rate.5Moderate breeze or broad reaching before normal winds. All movement reduced to 2/3 normal.6-8Normal winds. Normal movement.9Strong breeze. Normal movement plus 1/3 extra movement.10High winds. Normal movement plus 1/2 extra movement.11Extreme High Winds. Double Normal Movement*12Gale. Eighty percent of a galley sinking. Triple normal movement in a random direction*** 20% chance of galley shipping water, 10% chance for all other ships. Any ship which ships water will have its speed reduced by 1/3 until it can dock and make repairs.
** Roll 1d6: 1 = current direction, 2 = 60 degrees starboard, 3 = 120 degrees starboard, etc.

High Sun
[  ] Check for encounters at Morning, Evening, and Night by rolling on the following table, cribbed from CDD-Encounters References by B. Scot Hoover for uncharted seas:
None Land Natural Encounter Uncharted 01-79 80-81 82-98 99-00
If land is indicated, I use Chris Tamm's d100 Islands and possibly his d100 castaways tables.

I use the following table for natural marine features (adapted from CDD-Encounters by B. Scot Hoover)

1. Seaweed
2. Sudden storm
3. Dragon turtle
4. Dolphin pod
5. School of fish
6. Whirlpool
7. Maelstrom/Hurricane
8. Birds!
9. Water Elementals race the ship
10. Floatsam!
11. Green glow on the horizon.
12. Lightning storm
13. Kraken. You rolled a 13. What did you expect?
14. Fog. Pea Soup.
15. Corpses of fish and other deep horrors lie on the surface of the water
16. Ball Lightning, maybe will-o-the-wisp, possibly bad mushrooms
17. Whales
18. Sea monster
19. Ghost ship
20. Chris Mcdowell's d10 Odd Ocean Encounters

TAPS  [  ] Each night, perform a morale check. This check is penalized by 1 for each week it has been since they have seen land, and penalized an additional 1 per day without food. If the check fails check out the camp events on Evelyn's Hireling events table.

When other ships are indicated, I prefer Zak's "Who's on That Passing Ship?" table. down towards the bottom.
If you're looking for a salt water horror, I use Chris Tamm's D100 Deep Water Horrors. Or, if you need fishlike beastment civilizations, check out The Trouble with Beastmen: Wet & Wild.
Frequently you need some junk that washes up on a beach. This table from Death and Axes will generate 100 crazy pieces of washed up flotsam.

Did I miss anything?

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary - Beyond Eleven The Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia By Frank Mentzer Edited & Collected By Aaron Allston

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 06:08
Sure it came out in Nineteen Ninety One but the D&D Rules Cyclopedia is the version of the grand game that I'd have with me if I was stuck on a desert island with a group of players. It has everything that was in the Frank Mentzer D&D Basic Rules Set (1983), & opens it up by a factor of ten. The D&D Rule Cyclopedia is a one book tool kit for handling all of the classic modules & Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

In Sight Test? Where have you gone? Right here! Part 2

Two Hour Wargames - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 19:34
Be sure to read Part One first to get a full understanding.








There's a Cure? Not exactly...

Download the free ATZ Tabletop and Convention Play doc here. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

In Sight Test? Where have you gone? Right here!

Two Hour Wargames - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 19:33
 Magic Door? Right here!
Want to play ATZ - Evolution or any THW title that uses the Action Table on the tabletop with rulers and ranges? Easy to do and perfect for running convention games. First, get the free download available here at the bottom of the page. Then read the following Bat Rep.








Part Two
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

PRESALE: Blood Moon Jersey Devil Cryptkins™ Vinyl Figure (New York Comic Con Exclusive)

Cryptozoic - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 17:00

He’s ditching his home state and heading to the Big Apple! Here’s your chance to own the Blood Moon Jersey Devil CryptkinsTM vinyl figure created exclusively for New York Comic Con 2018! You can avoid missing out on this extremely limited collectible by purchasing it now and then picking it up at Cryptozoic’s Booth #244 during the event.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

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