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The Temple of the Blood Moth

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 07/31/2019 - 11:13
By Jacob Butcher Abrasax Press OSR/5e Levels 3-5

A science-fantasy horror dungeon for Old School versions of Dungeons & Dragons. You stare into the face of planetary death. Fight or drown.

What’s that little Timmy? Lassie is trapped in the well? Errr, I mean, people are bitching that a 24 page adventure is $8 without a preview? Well, obviously then, I have no common sense and will buy it.

This 24 page digest-sized adventure details four levels of a cult temple over about six pages, with about 31 rooms total .. and a few extra unnumbered/empty rooms thrown in on the map. Resembling those Psychedelic Fantasy adventures, it is ripe with unique monsters and treasure. Combined with evocative writing, it makes a great OD&D weird-ass adventure … without, I think, going in to gonzo territory. It’s a good adventure.

The writing here is short and bursting with evocative bits. “1: Sun-Lit Chapel. Rows of pews. Tall stained glass windows depict the Sun-God and moths at each stage of their life-cycle. Yarrow Bren the cultist can be found praying to the Blood Moth for power, offering everflowing blood in return.” That is a rock fucking solid description. 1. Sun-Lit Chapel. Not Room 1. Not Room 1 Chapel. It gives the room a name, Chapel, and then also adds a descriptor word to it, Sun-Lit. Thus, immediately, we get the sense of this room. It doesn’t do this consistently, for every  Feeding Pit there are three Courtyards, Shrines, and Stairwells, but when it does it it’s great. Note also the brief flashes of evocative imagery. Rows of pews. Tall stained glass. Combined with the Sun-Lit we get a perfect mental image of the chapel. Sun streaming in through those tall stained glass windows, rows of pews with a solitary figure praying at one end. That is EXACTLY what evocative writing should do. The creature in the room is doing something, praying, with aspects of his personality and additional “action” relayed in his request and offering. This is exactly the sort of writing that I’m looking for. It makes an impact. “Cistern: Unlit torch sconces. Vaulted brick ceilings. Filled to your shins with dark, lukewarm water.” Nice.

And it does it while also being terse. That’s not a requirement, but it IS generally an easier way to make an adventure usable at the table. The longer the writing then the more thought has to go in to editing, layout, and the use of whitespace and organization to make it scannable at the table. Or you can just keep the writing terse. Both work. 

It’s full of creepy imagery, like a stained glass porthole in the floor, heavy leaden glass, almost covered in dirt … and you can see something moving on the other side. Nice. 

Magic treasure is unique. It’s all new and weird … like “pearl snails” that turn blood in to water over an hour. And then there’s more conventional magic treasure also, like arrows and needle knives. But no generic +1 swords, thank Vecna. Imagine that, a designer adding original content to their game. Almost like value .. hmmm.. May be something in that … Anyway, monsters are unique also, which I always like. Keeps the players guessing. I should note that the conversion notes from OSR to 5e are essentially “find a similar monster and stat it that way.” A little loose for many in the 5e crowd, but ok in my book … mostly because I’d just do it on the fly.

Wanderers table has then engaged in some activity and is arranged progressively, with deeper levels getting a d8, d10, d12 wanderer die all on the same table, reusing the lower level entries while adding new entries. I’ve always loved the elegance of that mechanic, when it’s appropriate to use it, like it is here. AT least one of the hooks is ok, with the party sent to find/kill/etc someone in a village … only to find everyone has disappeared. It’s not ground-breaking, but it adds a complication to an otherwise generic quest.

It could be better. Monetary treasure is VERY light for an OSR game. Gold=XP and there ain’t no coin XP to speak of in here, which is a hyperbolic way of saying treasure or the non-magical variety is VERY light indeed. There’s a stinker here and there in the room descriptions. Room 28: Golden Altar is described as “he High Priest performs rituals and sacrifices here in order to progress the eventual coming of the BLOOD MOTH.” Well, ok, that’s a mega-lame description, especially in light of the others present in the adventure. There’s also a place or two where sound or light should have been noted on the map or in other room descriptions. In one area, in particular, a giant larvae bashes itself against the door. That’s something you need to know BEFOE The party reaches the room, to communicate to the party in previous rooms or as they approach. Sometimes its important to know things before people reach an area. That can be done in the text or much more elegantly via the map for sound/light, etc. 

This is a good adventure. Creepy. Evocative. Usable. A great journeyman adventure for whipping out to play. The way EVERY adventure should be.

This is $8 at DriveThru. This appears to be a part of the ZineQuest Kickstarter thing, with the designer having a blog, Flowers for the Titan Corpse. It appears to have some ties to the art side of the RPG world, with a Thank You to the Fall 2018 Simulation Art class. No doubt the designer labours under the impression that people should get paid for their work. Of course, writing is even less appreciated than art, the barrier being far lower. The resulting flooded marketplace makes it challenging to price anything above $0. For self-published work a PWYW structure may be best, reserving payment to work-for-hire. I’d pay $8 for this, knowing what I know now. But a $8 blind buy is a thing indeed, given that at least 99% of everything on DriveThru is crap. I’d guess the price is related to the kickstarter pledges. But, anyway, no preview.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Bronze Age Book Club

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 07/31/2019 - 11:00

I started a podcast with fellow Hydra heads Jason Sholtis and Robert Parker, and my friend and fellow blogger, Jim Shelley (though he couldn't make the first episode). Take a listen! We discuss Destructor #1 form Atlas Comics. Check it out:

Listen to "Episode 1: DESTRUCTOR #1" on Spreaker.

Fantasy Medieval Style Law. Part 2

Bat in the Attic - Wed, 07/31/2019 - 10:54
The Arrest
As Sigurt and Thil enter Lado's shop, the one of the two Greene men following them runs to tell Aldus and Marcus where Sigurt is. Unfortunately for Sigurt, the Greene has gathered everybody and ready to move. Several minutes later everybody arrives at Lado's shop.

Lado was successful at covering his discomfort at the arrival of Sigurt and Thil and managed not to tip them off that something was amiss. Their conversation about provision was interrupted by a loud insistent knock at the door. When Lado answered he see Marcus with his posse backed by a City Guard patrol standing nearby.

Marcus presents his writ and then turns to Sigurt and Thil announcing he is here to arrest Sigurt for the murder of his brother. Sigurt puts his hand on his weapon but Thil noticing the posse and the guards stops the Northeron. Thil examine the writ and finds it in good order. Sigurt and Thil get in to a heated argument until Thil pointed out the dozen or so armed individuals outside in the street. Thil will take Sigurt's gear and get back to Corbin to see what can be done. But for now they are out numbered.

To everybody's relief, Sigurt surrenders after giving his gear to Thil. Marcus, the city guard, and his posse take Sigurt to the nearest Jails and has Sigurt locked up. The writ is signed by the Jailor indicating that the arrest has been made.

The Trial
Aldus and Marcus Green return to Alderman Mallory and present him with the signed writ. Aldus requests that Sigurt be tried at the next assizes for the murder of his son. Alderman Mallory agrees and issues a Writ to compel Sigurt to appear before the commission of oyer and terminer when it assembled in 18 days at the monthly assize to answer for his crimes. Aldus pays the Alderman another two shilling for this writ.
Rob's Notes: Eastgate as a freetown is not allow to try capital crimes. The king holds monthly assize in where felonies can be heard and adjudicated. In this fantasy kingdom, the Grand Jury is a group at the assize that issues indictments requiring the named individuals to appear at the next assize. Indictments can be presented to the Sheriff or Aldermans to secure a writ to arrest the named individual to force them to appear.

The Commission of Oyer and Terminer, actually hears the case and renders a verdict. To have the commission hear a case the plantiff has to secure a writ in order to be put on the schedule or docket.

It is quite possible that the indictment step is skipped as in the case of Sigurt. In which case, if a suitable authority, like an Alderman or a Sheriff, issues a writ to put the case on the docket.
In the 18 days that follows these things happen.

Both the Greenes, and the Adventuring Party gather witnesses who would swear an account of the events that led to the death of Micheal. The Adventuring Party has a hard time of it due to the Greenes better connections. However they manage to find a merchant who was present during the incident who happened to be a rival to the Greenes.

Sigurt sits in jail and one of the adventuring party makes sure that he has food, water, and clothing each day. Medieval Jails provide minimal food and water. The expectation is that the family will keep the prisoner supplied. Luckily none of the jailers wants to mess with the Adventuring Party after the first visit so Sigurt is able to get everything that the party delivers until the assize.

When the day of the assizes arrives, Sigurt and the other prisoners to be tried are escorted by the city guard to the commons where the tents and the commission's benches are set up. It is cloudy day with rain drizzling off and on so everybody is in a foul mood and ready to get this over with.

At first the trial goes badly for Sigurt as the Greene line up an array of witnesses swearing that Sigurt instigated the fight with no provocation. And other testifying to Micheal's good character. However prior to the trial Thil managed to find out that one of the commissioners was a knight whose son got in trouble because of Micheal's rowdy ways. Thil's investigation and persuasion abilities (along with a few quiet Charm Persons) allows him to highlight Micheal's rowdiness.

At the conclusion of the trails, the commission finds Sigurt guilty of manslaughter not murder and fines him double weregild (400 shilling or 4,800 sp) for Micheal's death. The Greene family wanted death is not happy with the verdict. The party pays Sigurt's fine and quickly leaves Eastgate on their long delayed expedition to the Barradine Ruins. It unlikely the Greenes will be able to exact any type of vengeance unless the party returns to Eastgate.

Wrapping it up
I deliberately made the resolution more peaceful than would likely be the case. Odds are that Thil and Sigurt would have made a scene at Lado's shop. Either fleeing through the back of Lado's shop or attempting to take on the posse and the guard. Each with their own negative consequences.

But the scenario path I opted for allowed me to illustrate each part of how medieval style justice would work in a fantasy RPG campaign. The key to Sigurt paying a fine and not hanging from a noose is Thil clever work in discovering that others were negatively by Micheal. Thus painting the incident as one where a crime has been committed, manslaughter, but caused by Micheal's history of drunkenness. However because the Adventuring Party had no local ties it was a uphill battle at every step.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

B2 Keep On The Borderland Adventure Module Commentary On The Internal Adventure Structure & Framework For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 07/31/2019 - 04:59
Many old school gamers cut their teeth on B2 The Keep On The Borderland adventure. This is one of the most iconic and interesting introduction adventures that came down the pike from the old school period starting with the Holmes 1979 version of it. Let's look at some of the bits and pieces that make B2 so iconic and interesting. Ever since I was a kid, I've been obsessed with B2 Keep on The Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Quick Review and Commentary On 'The Pay What You Like ' Issue of Brave the Labyrinth - Issue #2 (PDF) From Small Niche Games

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 17:52
This is a pay what you want download HERE! I'm always looking for new and interesting OSR source material to use with science fantasy and space based games. The fill in what you like attitude of the folks over at small niche games is just right for my DYI gaming needs. The latest pay what you want issue #2 of Brave The Labyrinth continues with this creed and expands on it with some Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

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

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 16:32
"Giants have been raiding the lands of men in large bands, with giants of different sorts in these marauding groups. Death and destruction have been laid heavily upon every place these monsters have visited. A party of the bravest and most powerful adventurers has been assembled and given the charge to punish the miscreant giants. "Here's the back history on G1-3 according to the Needles
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On More Buildings

Hack & Slash - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 15:36
As promised, two more buildings in the series.
Hack & Slash FollowTwitchNewsletterSupportDonate to end Cancer (5 Star Rating)
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Fantasy Medieval Style Law. Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 06:45
"Lairs & Encounters™ is the ultimate supplement for fantasy RPG sandbox campaigns. Designed for use with the Adventurer Conqueror King System™ (ACKS™), it is readily compatible with other fantasy role-playing games built on the same core rules."If there is one other book besides the Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg rule book that I love its the Lairs & Encounters book. I've used it more timesNeedles
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Design Noodling in the 2d6 Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Supers Thoughts

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

So, to play test this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mutant Madness - Notes On Mutants

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

Cryptozoic Will Showcase New Tabletop Games at Gen Con 2019

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

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

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Lost Valley of Kishar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Mysterious Map

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weird Revisited: Planet of the Elves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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