Tabletop Gaming Feeds

How to Run Better D&D Games By Doing Less

DM David - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 11:24

If you are a dungeon master, the easiest way to improve your game sessions might be to do less. Rather than doing all the tasks of running the game, delegate some to the players.

This lesson took me a long time to learn. I found Dungeons & Dragons in an era when gamers took the master part of dungeon master seriously. Some control freaks even thought dungeon masters should make all the players’ die rolls to better conceal ACs and other secrets. (See Would You Play With a Dungeon Master Who Kept Your Character Sheet and Hid Your PC’s Hit Points?) I never went so far, but I never considered imposing DM chores on the players. Besides, I felt happy to do the chores myself.

Years of running tables in 4-hour convention games made me change. Especially with D&D’s fourth edition, convention sessions threatened to push past the time allowed, robbing the players of a satisfying conclusion. Rather than let a session go long, I found ways to speed the game. I learned to delegate parts of the game to the players.

I’ve learned a lot about dungeon mastering in rooms like this one at Origins.

The benefits surprised me. Delegating did more than help end a session on time. It led to better games.

Typically, dungeon masters run all the non-player characters, describe the action, track initiative, set up maps and figures, make rulings, and so on and on. The players mostly wait for the DM’s attention. A DM’s pace tends to bottleneck the pace of a role-playing session.

Delegation reduces the bottleneck at the dungeon master. Games move faster, so everyone enjoys more time adventuring. Plus, when players gain more to do, they remain engaged in the game and have more fun.

What tasks can you delegate?

Tracking initiative. If you poll your players for initiative scores and keep track yourself, you should change your method. Unless you run games for young kids or new players, let the players manage most of the initiative. I drape initiative tents over my DM screen so that I can reference stats on the cards, but players fill the cards—even monster names—and put them in order. Typically, they call out turns. For more, see The Best Ways to Track Initiative in Dungeons & Dragons.

Referencing rules. Stopping a session to page through the rules robs the game of momentum. Ask your players to look things up. Usually, I just need to understand a spell and can resolve other actions until I get the details.

Drawing the battle map. If someone can draw the room while I grab miniatures, combat starts faster. Don’t bother describing every detail to sketch. Just ask someone to draw, say, a 40 by 60 room, then you can draw the doors and profane altars and other features.

Running allied non-player characters. Whenever an non-player character might take the side of the players in a fight, I always print an extra sheet with the character’s combat stats. My regular players lobby for the chance to run an NPC. If the ally doesn’t require bring much personality or motive, anyone can run it. If I need someone to show the NPCs’ fear of fire or hatred of magic, I pick the role players with character portraits on their table tents—the players who introduce their characters in funny voices.

Recapping the last session. When you continue a campaign, ask if anyone can recap the last session. This allows you another moment to prepare while giving you a sense of what the players considered interesting or important. Plus, you may uncover things you told the players that proved confusing or misleading.

Tallying experience points. Players keep track of the gold they win. Why not have a player keep track of experience points too? After each encounter, while you still have the monsters and encounter notes in view, give the experience values to a volunteer accountant.

Githyanki marked with numbered disks

Numbering monsters. I use numbered markers to distinguish the miniature figures on my battle map. Compared to players attacking “this” and “that” monster, the numbers avoid confusion and speed play. Tracking damage becomes easier. See Number Your Monsters to Stop Wasting Time Finding Them on the Battle Map. Usually, I hand one player a stack of numbered markers and let them tag the monsters.

Track damage dealt to foes. Damage dealt is not secret information for the DM. (Seeking a tactical advantage, my Dungeons & Dragons Championship teams kept track of damage.) Delegate damage tracking to that player who likes to deduce monster ACs and can total 8d6 fireball damage at a glance. When a monster takes damage, have the tracker report its total damage. If the total exceeds the monster’s hit points, describe the kill.

Or let the player describe their moment. Delegate. The game doesn’t just belong to the dungeon master. It belongs to everyone at the table. See Should a Dungeon Master Invite Players to Help Create the D&D World Beyond Their Characters?

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20% Off Sale Now Until the End of October

Two Hour Wargames - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 02:17
Time for the last sale of the year. Enter the coupon code
20off
and get 20% off of your whole order. Sale is the last of the year and will continue until the end of the month.
Valid on our bundles as well.
NUTS Bundle         5150 Bug Wars          FNG Bundle
THW Website
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Gaming Memories Meeting Nigel D.Finley & GenCon's Past

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 10/14/2019 - 21:11
There was once upon a time when I used to follow role playing game writers like some folks follow veteran sports players. The guy I followed went by the name Nigel D. Findley. He was one of the most excellent science fiction & fantasy writers I got the privilage of meeting back at a GenCon back in the early Nineties. The night  I met Mr.Finley was blur of beer, bravo, & memory at this point.Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Review & Commentary On The Balor-Kin Racial Class For Labyrinth Lord By James Mishler Games

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 10/14/2019 - 18:17
Half demons have always been troublesome but when it comes to the sons & daughters of the Abyss that's a whole different level of Abyssial trouble! This is five pages of Abyssial fun waiting to happen to your players.That's where 'The Balor-Kin Racial Class' For Labyrinth Lord comes in. Now let me go on record as saying that this is not a RC that's I'd allow at the table unless I was runnning Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Tower of the Moon

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 10/14/2019 - 11:15
By David Pulver Night Owl Workshop S&W Levels 3-6

[…] The tower filled with howls and screams. Tales say that all perished in the struggle, the frenzied wolves even turning against their pack mates and devouring one another; only a few servants escaped to tell the tale, and recall Mordark’s dying words to Artesia before he was eaten alive: “if I could not share the Tower of the Moon beside you in life, I do so in death…” Today, the Tower of the Moon is a monster-haunted ruin, its shadow falling over dark forest and desolate wilderness. Only the brave or foolish dare its secrets.

This delightful 23 page digest adventure details a tower with four levels and about 25 rooms. Interactive, interesting, and not too overwritten, it provides that OD&D like vibe that I enjoy so well. It could also use some work for scanability. 

The cover is actually a decent depiction of the tower, imagine that! And the front door of the tower? You enter through the teeth of a giant wolf head face carved in to it. Mythic Underworld here we come! These are but two examples of the decent design that Pulver imbues in to this adventure. Making the art work with the adventure to help inspire the DM and evoke the setting, as in the case with the cover picture. And then there’s the wolf head. You’re passing somewhere else when you go through it, and everyone knows it. The mood changes. It’s D&D time. You’re elsewhere now. The rules are all wrong and every perversion is justified. 

But, I shouldn’t have started the review in the middle. This thing has the OD&D thing going on. What is that? It’s a degree of creativity that is not standardized for your convenience. As D&D has aged and the various editions have marched on, the various tropes of D&D have become more and more ingrained. Sword, +1. Hero. Innkeeper. Loyal Knights of blah blah blah. Everything comes from a book. Going the other direction there tends to be more non-standard elements and they tend to be combined in more unusual ways. That first level of The Darkness Beneath does this well. A flaming roll rolling the ceiling shooting off fire blasts didn’t come from no book. Nor did cursed plate mail shouting “Here I Am!” or an orange gem that you can use to shoot fireblasts … until it ,elts your hand off.  None of this is writ in stone, of course, it’s just a general trend; exceptions abound. But it’s also a convenient shorthand label.

This has that OD&D feel. There’s a magic well with curses and delights. It’s related to silver, and the moon, and has a sullen werewolf in it. And, it does magic stuff. One example is that it can turn stone back in to flesh, like the cockatrice statue you found in an earlier room, if immersed. But that’s an example, not an exhaustive list. It reminds me of the way LotFP (the system or an adventure, I forget which) used Bless as a kind of general-purpose thing. It wasn’t exhaustively spelled out and with the spell you could, well, Bless things. AND WHAT HAPPENED DEPENDED ON WHAT YOU WERE TRYING TO DO. The game world kind of made sense, general guidelines were set up and left for the DM to follow. And this adventure does a lot of things that feel like this.

Interactivity abounds and the monsters are sometimes integrated in to that. A ballroom, with shadowy dancing figures … that beckon you to join them. Shadows. (A nit: if you survive 30 minutes of dancing with them they kiss and release you. You should have gotten something for that, a +1 con or wis or something else. Reward must come to the daring, or else no one will ever be daring.) Rooms are generally written in a neutral tone, not designed against the party but rather existing for the party to exploit or fall for. A statue with a face that speaks? Do you give it a drink? Kiss it? These are the ways of OD&D and these are the ways of this adventure.It’s done well and I like it.

One the mediocre side if Pulvers writing and roo morganization. It’s primarily paragraph based, three or so per room of maybe two to three sentences each, with monster stats being bolded. Each paragraph generally describes one thing fully. I suggest that this is a poor format, in the form its taken here. Room two is a store room. The first paragraph details smashed crates and casks, blood stains, etc. The second gives more detail, a discarded mace and a broken quarterstaff. And the statue of a surprised elf. HOLY FUCk?!?!! What?!?!?!  This format forces the DM to read the entire room description before running it. Not. Cool. We don’t delay games because of bad writing. Better to bold important details in other paragraphs, or, put all of the majorly important/obvious stuff in the first paragraph and then use the later paragraphs to follow up, perhaps with bolding to draw the eye immediately to the correct place. Otherwise we need to bring out Ye Olde Highlightere. And what do we say to designers that force us to do that? That’s right: Go Fuck Yourself, it was your job to do that for me, the DM/consumer. It’s not egregious in this adventure, but its enough to be annoying. 

“Bob the wraith Lord put 7 skeletonsin this room (using his magic book) to prevent him from being disturbed.” That’s fucking trivia. Use that word count to create a more evocative description or increased interactivity, not to justify the existence of why there are 7 skeletons in the room. That trivia has no impact on the adventure being run and is this (almost always) irrelevant, distracting, reduces scanability, and the word count used for better things. It smacks of the crimes of pay per word padding.

Treasure is light. Really light. So light I wonder if Pulver has run a S&W campaign before. And  there’s a lot of boring old +1 magic items. That’s a serious miss and substantial departure from the OD&D ways that the encounter in this feel like. Other than that there’s amiss here and there; one room has a high ceiling with an overlook/balcony … that isn’t actually mentioned at all until you get to those higher rooms. Oops. Plus, if this had been the other way round, with the gallery encountered first, we would have had a classic Thracia tease. But, it’s the lack of balcony mention that’s the sin.

Still, A decent adventure for its flaws. Interactivity is strong. Themes are strong. Creativity is strong. Organization and evocative writing are at least not terrible. 

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $3. It’s certainly well worth that price. The preview is six pages and shows you fuck all of what you are actually buying. You get to see the full tower maps (there are mini-maps for each level also) as well as the bullshit background pretext and hook. But there’s nothing of the actual room contents. Major miss with that; that’s what we’re paying for, that’s what the preview should show us a bit of so we can determine if its crap or ok.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/289553/Tower-of-the-Moon?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Psychonauts of Gyre

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 10/14/2019 - 11:00
The Psychonauts, also known as the Alchemists, are a policlub in Gyre who believe that most intelligent beings are incapable of perceiving the true nature of the multiverse and the Godhead (if such a thing exists), but the appropriately altered state of consciousness can unlock these hidden secrets. To this end, the Psychonauts engaged in personal experiment with a variety of chemical substances are neurologic modifications of their own devising. To fund these experiments they are also the primary suppliers to Gyre's illicit drug trade. They also supply many of the legal mood altering drugs many a citizen of Gyre and provided the experimental research central to much corporate subliminal media.

Psychonaut club members are always eager for more subjects (willing and unwilling, in some cases) for their experiments. They also will at times pay handsomely (or more likely over drugs or chemicals in trade) for exotic psychoactive substances from the Outer Planes.

A Deeper Slice Into Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Editions Role Aids Fantastic Treasures I & II by Alan Hammack From Mayfair Games

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 18:18
"Fantastic Treasures I &  II was written by Alan Hammack, with a cover by Boris Vallejo, and was published by Mayfair Games in 1984 & 1985 as a 96-page book."Yesterday I wrote about using Mayfair Games Role Aids Demons I & II box sets, Fantastic Treasures, & Monsters of Myth & Legend. The response has been overwhelming but not so much in a good direction. I received a bunch of B.S. OSR Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Weird Revisited: Do You Have Alignment or Does It Have You?

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 14:30
Recent discussion of alignment on discord brought to mind this post from 2014...


What follows is some brainstorming on a conception of alignment that probably just over-complicates things, but hopefully will be of some interest to somebody.

As we all know, alignment is derived from Moorcock and Anderson and is suppose to provide some moral and ethical structure to--well, the universe--and to provide a behavioral check on certain character types, but any attempt to relate it to actual moral quandaries, leads to discussion of baby orcs. Some people (myself included) have suggested at times the obvious solution of just viewing the sides as teams or opposing armies free of a moral dimension, but mostly it seems like people just ignore it. While I'm still advocating for a bit of blue and orange morality here, I want to suggest another wrinkle.

I recently finished the third of Hannu Rajaniemi's science fiction novels, The Causal Angel. One of the futuristic societies, the zoku, tend to form group minds, but individuals joining one or more zoku (Japanese for "clan") related hobbies, interests, or vocation. This process involves "entanglement," a sort of co-mingling of though and desires. The higher one's rank (i.e. the longer one is a member or the more "good" they do for the group) the more entanglement the individual becomes and so the more their thoughts and desires are reflected in the group consensus and action, or "volition." This effect is reciprocal, though, so the higher rank, the more one's on thoughts and actions are shaped by the zoku volition.

Maybe alignments could be a bit like that? Joining up with a fundamental metaphysical power of the universe means getting benefits (positive reaction, access to power) but also means you lose a bit of your individuality (or at least have that individuality altered). for someone powered by alignment (a paladin, a cleric), the higher level you become the worse it gets. A high level Paladin would be unlikely to worry about straying from their alignment; they would become one with it, or at least part of it.

This would make adhering to any alignment sort of like bartering your soul for magical power. The only difference is, with bartering your soul you are still quite aware you've given something up. With this approach, it would get harder and harder to ever imagine yourself doing anything differently.

This of course means that gods and other beings of great power and strong alignment allegiance have probably become more or less avatars for the consensus overmind/soul of the alignment.

OSR Commentary - Vegas,Cha'alt, & Mayfair Games Role Aids

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 10/12/2019 - 18:19
This little thought experiment came about after I cancelled my game last night after real world concerns came to light last night. I've been thinking of dusting off some older AD&D campaign notes for my my a Godbound/Cha'alt campaign set in Las Vegas. The demand here is a modern AD&D world. Now how the Hell does a dungeon master pull that off? Well by reaching for Mayfair Games's Role Aids Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

(5e) The Temple of Misfortune

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 10/12/2019 - 11:03
By William Murakami-Brundage Menagerie press 5e Levels 1-3

The adventurers are sent to stop a pair of star-crossed lovers and collect the bounty on a gang of ruffians. Unfortunately, the bandit hideout is on the grounds of a haunted temple, and the recent tumult has awoken the restless dead.

This 24 page adventure details the grounds of a ruined temple with 36 rooms in about seven pages. The writing is mostly flat which forces a generic feel to plae in spite of several attempts to beef it up with some non-generic details. “Not odious” does not mean “good”, but the designer at least has a good start on producing better work.

Girl runs away with bandit in order to have a more exciting life. Her dad, a petty noble, has promised her hand in marriage to someone else to cement power. Bring her back! Oh, and the bandit also has a bounty on his head. This is the pretext to the adventure. The entire thing is explained in a one page summary overview which is clear and well organized. The hook-ish/hiring part in the town is also covered quite well in another page, also generally well organized and clear, not overstaying its welcome. It does force you to read instead of making better use of highlighting, bolding, bullets and whitespace for better scanning. Still, in and out quick, so it’s not terrible. The worst thing to be said is that “she eloped” is shouted out by the crier in the town square, in the “reward” call to action. That would probably be kept quiet, or at least reserved for a private audience with the noble/staff. 

36 rooms in seven pages is a decent density for 5e. The rooms generally don’t overstay their welcome with excessive trivia and background and read-aloud. Skill checks are done better than in most 5e, with logic and common sense coming in to play at numerous opportunities. 

The maps, two of them, appear to be Dyson affairs. Two of the better ones, one of an outdoor ruined temple/manor area and one of a small cave system. Both are noticeably more open than usual and have unusual features like tree copses and water features scattered throughout. The maps would have done well to have “rooms with reacting monsters” marked in them on the map, for ease in DM’ing. In addition, a side-view/perspective piece of art, showing the ruined temple, would have been in order. Given the number of collapsed wall and the general ruined nature, a more 3d adventuring style would have been well supported by this and a better use of the art budget than the generic full color monster art that several pages were devoted to. 

And on a related note, the ruins could have used with an overview description for the party. It just starts out with room 1, the ruined bridge that leads to the ruins. Some adventuring areas lead themselves to a scenic overlook type of situation. When you can survey the whole of an area from a distance the adventure deserves a little overview section, noting general features and standouts. If there’s a ruined dome with a bright light shining up out of it then it makes sense to mention that when the party first looks down on the place, doesn’t it? Otherwise you’re relying on the DM to either remember the important details of every room and if they apply to the scenic overlook description, or forcing them to go through the adventure and make notes. And if the DM has to make notes then the designer has probably failed in some way. 

The writing in this is generally flat. In spite of a few words like “tarnished bell” or “rusty pots and pans”, it generally just comes off as boring old generic ruins. The writing really needs to be beefed up with better use of adjectives and adverbs. I’m not advocating more MORE words, but generally different ones. I loathe purple prose, but it’s the designers job to bring the scene to life in the DM’s head. You have to give the DM something good to work with, something for their imagination to take ahold of and run with. You’re inspiring them, or you’re supposed to be anyway. The writing in this doesn’t do that. 

In particular I’ll mention the Shadows in the adventure. A lot used to be halfling bandits, some didn’t. But none of them really get any description at all. Either of them or how they rise and attack. A couple of hiding under the bed and come out to attack. Much better to have the shadows of the corners of the room to stretch, or to see them rise in some malign way from the slain bodies on the floor, yes? Something to make them come ALIVE. 

I note that this uses the modern 5e adventure convention of noting, at the start of the keyed entries, the sights, sounds, lighting, and terrain. I get the reason, and it’s ok. But that’s not an excuse to NOT include it in the individual rooms also. Bring them to life! Also, wouldn’t this information be much better suited for the map? Imagine 18 point font at the top of the map reminding the DM of the dusty nature and the occasional moans of the undead. From where, the players ask? The DM consults the map to find the nearest room that has monsters marked on it. That’s how all of this is supposed to work together to hel the DM bring the adventure to life. 

It does little good to tell us, as this adventure does, That room “10. Kitchen. This was a kitchen …” yeah, no shit, you just told us that. Or that the ruined bridge once allowed people to access the temple. Or that the well once provided water to the temple. Ok, that last one is mine, I made it up, but you get the idea. The trivia, backstory, and repetition does us no favors. At worst, it ills the adventure with garbage that the DM has to fight through while scanning for the important bits. They added nothing to the actual adventure. Use that word count to instead add more interesting adjectives and adverbs to make the place come alive.

It’s an ok adventure, if with a generic vibe. It does integrate the pretext in pretty well, with the halfling eloper/bandits, without making it a railroad. Maybe a little light on treasure. Alas, I have no time in my life for ok adventures and as such I’m afraid this gets buried in with the mountain of 5e adventure dreck on DriveThru. Still, high hopes for the future with this designer. I hope they can beef up their writing and give some more holistic thinking to adventure supporting the DM. Maybe finding a good DM or two that they can use as playtesters, who will tell them what they had to do to run it, so things can be corrected before publication. Yeah, hard work. Same as with the evocative writing. But that’s what separates the garbage with an idea from the good.

This is $6 at DriveThru.The preview is nine pages, with the last three showing you some of the room keys. You can get an idea of overview, hook summary, and how it uses its text to bring it to life (or not.) In that respect it’s a good preview. You can also see how it handles skill checks a little differently than most 5e adventures. There’s nothing revolutionary here, but it’s nice to see a little more sanity in that area. 


https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/286939/Temple-of-Misfortune?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Last day for some Viking Adventures

Bat in the Attic - Sat, 10/12/2019 - 03:28
Douglas Cole of Gaming Ballistics and I have gamed together and since he started publishing often wound up chatting on the same podcast. He has created a distinctive fantasy Viking themed setting called Nordlond. Along with doing work with GURPS, The Fantasy Trip, and his own 5e variant Dragon Heresy.



His latest kickstarter is expanding Nordlund with a series of adventures. It now in its last 24 hours and like all his projects looks to be fun, and interesting. This version is for the The Dungeon Fantasy RPG by SJ Games which implements the GURPS system as a standalone fantasy RPG. I hope you check it and get in on the kickstarter. Douglas has delivered on all his kickstarters and spares no expense on the production values.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Beyond - A Modern Dimension of Supernatural Horror & Depravity For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 18:56
I've been wrestling with my a Godbound/Cha'alt campaign set in Las Vegas especially how the undead lords & the underworld are gonna fit in into a modern occult setting. Funny thing is I've already done all of the heavy lifting with the public domain setting of the Beyond ages ago. There are weird and modern realms of supernatural horror where Dark Forces can snare the living and adventurers Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSRing & Running Ravenloft's RA1 'Feast of Goblyns' By Blake Mobley For An Old School Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 17:17
"In Feast of Goblyns, a party of adventurers must use all their skills to escape the manipulations of one of Ravenloft's most powerful lords as they attempt to seek out the accursed Crown of Soldiers. If all goes well, they just might live long enough to escape this dread land and return to their homes."RA1 'Feast of Goblyns' By Blake Mobley marks the first real expansion & explosion Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

B/X Mars is Upon You! Who Will Save You Now?

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 11:00

Michael "Aos" Gibbons released his long-awaited B/X Mars this week. As the name suggests, it's based on the Moldavy/Cook iteration of D&D. It is also inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs's Barsoom, but that's only the roots; Mike's Martian tree grows in much more of a "Dying Earth" direction, with more than a little Kirby and perhaps a bit of Heavy Metal attitude in there.

In addition to the basic rules, it covers the society and culture of Mars, numerous factions, monsters, and equipment. It's also got a gazeteer of the Zerzura area ready to start a campaign.

Of course, it's profusely illustrated with Michael's high contrast black and white art that is at ERB accurate in terms of nudity and decidedly unlike any of the famous Barsoom illustrators of the past. The cover's above, but here another taste:


Go get it!

The Deodanth Gamit & The Free Swords & Wizardry Book J. Miskimen's Ruins of Arduin

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 10/10/2019 - 17:01
So last night I was sitting around with DM Steve at the usual watering hole & we were going over my notes for the upcoming Las Vagas Godbound/Cha'alt game. He's thumbing through Cha'alt & comes in with there's too many God damn Elves in this game! And this starts us off on a discussion about original Dungeons & Dragons & Advanced Dungeons's PC Elven race. This gets us involved in our Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Saxalings

Torchbearer RPG - Thu, 10/10/2019 - 14:30
Atilla and his Hordes Overrun Italy and the Arts (detail), between 1843 and 1847, Ferdinand-Victor-Eugène Delacroix

(xposted with Bridge of the Damned update)

Hello friends!

In a past series of posts, we looked at two Middarmark clans, the Ageirings and the Tualings, along with their ættir.

I’ve been working on The Bridge of the Damned adventure and figured I would give the clans involved in that adventure a similar treatment. This week we’re taking a look at the Saxalings, whom we previously learned a little about in Adventure Design: Robber’s Bridge (Part VIII) and Life in a Ruined Village.

The Saxalings

The Saxalings are a Gott clan in the Gottmark. They owe fealty to Tancred the Fair, greve of the Southern March. During the conquest of the Gottmark 20 years ago, Hincmar was chieftain of the Saxalings. He and his warriors seized lands along the northern bank of the Vimur River that belonged to the Bjorning clan known as the Runungs.

Among those lands was Kviholl, the hall of Grima, chieftain of the Runungs. Grima and his household were caught unaware by the rapidity of the Saxaling advance through their lands. Not only were Grima and many of his huskarls slain when the Saxalings burned Kviholl, the Saxalings also captured the shrine to Runa the Battle-wise, ættir (ancestral spirit) of the Runungs. As a result, several pieces of the Runung clan regalia fell into Saxaling hands. Some were destroyed, but one, a buckle of finely beaten gold in the shape of a falcon, caught Hincmar’s eye. He incorporated it into his own clan’s regalia.

Today, Ishildis, daughter of Hincmar, is chieftain of the Saxalings. She rules from her hall at Skyholl, erected in the very spot where Kviholl once stood. Ishildis is guided by Saxa Horsekiller, ættir of the Saxaling clan.

Saxa Horsekiller Nature 5*Might 5Binding and Cursing, Protecting, ProphesyingBelief: Blood must be paid for any and all slights against me and mine.Instinct: Protect my bloodline.Type: Spirit

Special Rules: The ættir is the embodiment of her bloodline and can speak to those who share her blood in dreams. She lives in the clan’s regalia—a banner, piece of jewelry, weapon, article of clothing or relic of some sort—and can communicate with the bearer directly.

Hit Points Banish
5Convince
6Battle
9 WeaponConflictADFMBound to ClanBanish
Capture — +2D — — Fed with Regular
Sacrifice Banish
Capture — — — +2DMatriarchalConvince — +2D — — Prophetic VisionsBattle
Capture
Convince+1D — — +1s

Note: Before the Bjorning raid, Saxa was Nature 6. Her current Nature 5 reflects the loss of the Falcon Buckle. Should the buckle be returned and rededicated, her Nature will be restored to 6.

Saxa Horsekiller Description

Saxa is a warlike spirit, eager for conquest and increase in her descendants’ power and prestige, while merciless against foes of her house. In the Otherworld she generally appears astride a great white stallion, clad in gleaming mail and helmet with a lance in hand.

She has grown restless over the past two decades. The curse of the Vimur River has prevented her clan from expanding south and “friendly” clans box the Saxalings in to the north. She has begun agitating for her clan to feud with those neighbors in the hopes of seizing their lands. While enraged by the impudence of the raiders that stole her Falcon Buckle, part of her exults: If they could cross the cursed river to mount an attack, her people can do the same.

Contrary to her deed-name, she was known in life to care deeply for horses, lavishing her steeds with love and affection. She earned the name by riding one of her beloved horses to death to warn her family of a surprise attack by a supposedly allied clan during one of the frequent brushfire wars that consume the old country of Gottland.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Jacked into Etherspace

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 10/10/2019 - 11:00
This is a follow up to this post about the data etherspace of Gyre.

The natural Ethereal Plane is the substrate that underlies material spacetime, and is continuous with it. The artificial ether network of Gyre is surrounded by an astral bubble, a firewall, that keeps it from being accessed without the use of specific nodes. The legitimate and illegitimate users of etherspace most employ stables of proxies or individual avatars constructed from etheric stuff. Artificial subtle body avatars are sometimes called "subs." Ethernauts can construct them in any form they wish, limited only by the available resources. The subs are controlled via technology and a neural interface.  Not only does a sub allow the creation of a secondary identity, it also insulates the user from the dangers of etherspace. If the sub dies, the users consciousness returns to their body, unharmed. Usually.

Proxies are programs that have many different names depending on their use. They are simple etheric creatures for the most part; mindless, engineered etheric fauna and flora that have a specific data function. Sometimes these programs slip their chains and go feral in the network. Most starve or waste away without a way to perform the function they were built for. Rarely, some can undergo evolution to more free-living forms and become vermin. They may prey on legitimate programs or gnaw holes in data conduits, but they are perhaps more of a danger to rogue ethernauts lurking in the shadows, so aren't as vigorously hunted as they might be.

10 Board Games Kickstarter Coming November 1st

Two Hour Wargames - Thu, 10/10/2019 - 03:58
Here's a look at the Board Games for our upcoming Kickstarter. Each will include one or more color maps/boards, color counters and cards at a reasonable price. Tell your friends and combine orders if needed to get the best price.

FYI - Some of the games may share the same titles as existing THW mini rules, but they are not the same game. These are unique stand alone games using similar mechanics and can also be played with minis as well.

Learn one set of similar mechanics, play multiple games!
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Mystically Bonded War Bears For Your Old School Campaigns & Retroclone Systems

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 10/10/2019 - 00:48
A noble creature has come down from the Hypborean mountains, and polar regions, the ancient Atlantian war bears & their mystically bonded companions are once again appearing upon the stage of Hyperborea and the ancient pocket realms. Measuring up to fifteen feet in length is the uplifted Atlantian war bear, a rare species of hunter, companion, and very loyal being. These once plentiful Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Appearance Of A Certain Sword - Cha'alt & Breaking The House Campaign Plus OD&D's Eldritch Wizardry

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 10/09/2019 - 17:51
Last night was interesting on a number of levels one of which I'm going to talk about today. But one of the books that happened to fall into my hands was the original Dungeons & Dragons quartet of supplements. And one artifact drew my attention to Eldritch Wizardry .  That item is the 'Sword of Kas' which has a whole lot of  Greyhawk back story cannon by now. For the moment I'm going Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

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