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The Wizard of Bald Mountain

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 11:19


By Ken Goudsward
Dimensionfold Games
Goldensword/Generic
Entry Level

Our adventurers are commissioned by the Jarl of Connaught to investigate strange weather phenomenon at Bald Mountain. The Jarl also sends his personal mage to accompany them.

I don’t even know where to start on this one.

This 24 page adventure details a short overland journey to a ruined keep on top of a mountain with a wizard in it. The keep has ten rooms and has two monsters: the wizard and his fighter buddy. Single column, sparse, and yet with 24 pages … there’s just nothing here. Condensing this to a one page dungeon would still leave ¾ of a page to spare.

The jarl charges you with getting to the bottom of the weird weather coming from the top of the mountain. He gives you a sword and some armor. He sends his mage with you. (Ug. NPC with the party means betrary by him and/or DM pet. And in this case it’s a party betrayal.) You wander up a mountain for a day, find a ruined keep that is mostly empty, and fight a wizard. Everything here is more than little off.

Take the overland. The mountain is eight hours away, walking. Each hour you have an encounter on the wandering animal table. “Woah!” I thought, way too much. Foolish me. The encounters involve flies, mosquitos, crows, grouse, rabbits, deer, geese, a falcon, etc. I was then surprised there was no wandering rock table.

Once again, the adventure should concentrate on player interactivity. The mundane has little place. Wanna set the mood, or foreshadow? Great, no problem. Roll on table 12 each hour to see what kind of gravel the road is made of that hour? No. This is a caricature of D&D and, much like the rest of this adventure, reminds me of fantasy heartbreakers. Someone’s got a bug up their ass about how things should be.

“The team will need to gain entry into the keep. The keep can be entered easily from the east, north, or west.” *sigh* And does the sun rise today also?

The keep, proper, has two levels and ten rooms. “R3: (Servants quarters) (dark-empty torch sconce) 3 beds, only 1 with blankets; 1 dresser with shabby clothes” Fucking wonderful. My life is now complete. I never knew what I was missing. This is adventure? This is value? This is supposed to help you run a good game for your players? Yeah, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, but it also doesn’t DO anything. Room after room is like this. Well, at least all ten rooms, that is.

The adventure ends on page ten, after starting on page four, with the Boss Fight. It’s labeled The Boss Fight. It’s one page long, with TOO much whitespace, and full of tactics for the evil bad guy wizard. The rest of the page count is monster stats, tables, etc. Any EVERYTHING is in single column “i wrote this in word and printed in PDF” format.

There’s just nothing here. It would make, at best, a quarter to half a page of a one page dungeon. I get “slow burn”, but this is a little silly.

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru, with a current suggested price of $3. The preview shows you the entire adventure. Enjoy, in particular, the boss fight on page ten. Or maybe the adventure design on pages two and three.
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/242468/the-Wizard-of-Bald-Mountain

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Living Planet (part 2)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 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 2)
(Dutch: De Levende Planeet)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

Storm asks the diminutive foreman to at least take them to the ground after having "salvaged" their aircraft. After consulting his rule book, the man says he can help them, if they do him a favor in return:


The man also gives them seeds to swallow which will infuse enough oxygen in their blood for them to reach the ground. When they find the egg, the little men will locate them.

They take the gliders down to ride the thermals rising off the molten sea. Unfortunately, Ember gets too close and catches her wing on fire! Storm swoops in close, then Ember jumps:


They're too heavy to fly, so they're forced to land on an isolated rock outcropping. They surmise they'll soon die due to the heat, but then--amazingly--they see ship approaching. To get the crew's attention, Storm summons the power he has as the Anomaly to create a burst of light...


The ship sends out a scout on a winged beast who identifies them as shipwreck survivors. The Salamander pulls in close to pick them up. Once aboard, they are greeted by the Captain. One of his administrative functionaries enquires as to how they plan to pay for their passage. When Storm says they have no money, the Captain offers another solution:


And they happen to have two vacancies!

TO BE CONTINUED

For a Love Of Goblinoid Games Labyrinth Lord An OSR Commentary

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 06:41
So if you were online then you know about the shake up over at the Labyrinth Lord. G+ community. There's new blood that's been infused into the back court of the game & perhaps on a positive side we'll see more action on the Labyrinth Lord front.  With Antonio Bravo now taking over the reigns we'll probably see more new life blood pumped into the OSR beast that is Labyrinth Lord. Way back Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wargame Wanderings 1: Thoughts on X-Wing Second Edition

Gamer Goggles - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 01:44

In the first ever episode of Wargame Wanderings Matt talks about X-wing second ed and how the changes might impact players.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

If all goes well I will be able to Gen Con FFG has invited me and several other creators a second ed party so I’m looking for ways to go.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Twelve Rules For Pulp & Gonzo Elements In Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 16:53
There's been a bit of a misnomer about my reputation among certain corners of the OSR. I've been called everything from an 'Old School Renegade' to an 'Old School Resurrectionist' to that 'old fool'. Well, perhaps I'm a bit of all of those things & more. The commentary I'm offering seems to be scoffed at in some corners. So what. I'm here for the OSR readers &  subscribers but more over theNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Runequest available from Chaosium

Gamer Goggles - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 16:06

RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha has just been released by Chaosium as an all-new edition of one of the world’s most influential and acclaimed fantasy roleplaying games.

First appearing almost 40 years ago, RuneQuest is as dynamic and vital as ever. This all-new, deluxe edition introduces RuneQuest and its setting of Glorantha to new players everywhere.

“This new edition, also known as “RQG”, has been explicitly written with the goal of approachability, reaching out to new players and gamemasters as well as returning fans, making sure that the game line remains vital and engaging for everyone.” said Chaosium creative director Jeff Richard. “These rules are also backward-compatible with the previous versions of RuneQuest from Chaosium, and the scenarios published for them.”

Lavishly illustrated in full-color throughout, Chaosium has released the core RQG rules as a 443 page PDF, with the physical book to follow in August (just in time for Gen Con). People who buy the PDF from Chaosium.com now will receive a coupon for the full price of the PDF back, when they buy the physical book*. So there’s no need to wait, adventures in Glorantha can start now!

*How this works: The hardcover version will retail for USD$54.95. With the coupon from your PDF purchase you will only pay $27.00 ($54.95 – $27.95 coupon = $27.00).

Four features make RuneQuest distinct among other roleplaying games:

Mythic AdventureRuneQuest began in Greg Stafford’s mythic universe Glorantha, one of the oldest, most detailed, and most influential roleplaying settings ever published. Its influences are Bronze Age cultures where the relationship between mortals and the gods are much stronger. Rather than being myths, the deeds and actions of the gods are history, and are very much active forces in shaping the day-to-day lives of all living things. Culture and Community — Adventurers are strongly tied to their cultures and clans, with compelling family histories, complete with all that entails. They begin play knowing not only who they are, who their family is, what clan they belong to, but with person al history that gives them experience and momentum going forward.

Unique Adventurers — Players can create unique adventurers and customize them as desired, without arbitrary restrictions such as classes or levels. All adventurers can use magic, including powerful Rune spells that channel the very power of the gods. As adventurers progress, they grow along natural lines: skills that are used successful improve, and rather than being limited, the opportunities for development and improve increase dramatically.

Dangerous Combat — Combat in RuneQuest can be dangerous, even deadly, with skirmishes filled the chance of fumbles, critical hits, and strategic tactical choices. Shields can shatter when hit hard enough, limbs can be disabled, and even the weakest of opponents can get off a lucky shot that can take out an experienced foe. RuneQuest’s percentile-based rules system has been used to drive many other wildly-successful games. including Stormbringer, ElfQuest, Ringworld, and most notably Call of Cthulhu, itself one of the most popular roleplaying games worldwide. RuneQuest‘s simple, intuitive system (also known as Basic Roleplaying or BRP) has directly inspired other games, including HeroQuest and King Arthur Pendragon, and been influential to countless other tabletop and computer games. What some early reviewers have said:

“RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha is a landmark, and was even before it was written… it marks the return of one of the most influential and storied games in our hobby back to the house that built it… No other RuneQuest—and this is coming from a guy from whom you’d have to pry his Cults of Prax or Cults of Terror from his cold, dead hands—does Glorantha as well as RQG.”—Andrew Logan Montgomery, Exploring the Otherworlds of Fiction, Magic, and Gaming. “one of the most stunning RPG books ever made”Games Vs Play

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Why Fourth Edition Seemed Like the Savior Dungeons & Dragons Needed

DM David - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 13:00

In 2005, Dungeons & Dragons faced a possible future similar to the fate of another popular role-playing game, Vampire: The Masquerade. In this future, D&D only exists as a license for online games and t-shirts and another potential movie. The tabletop game remains as an archive of PDFs for sale to die-hards. See The Threat that Nearly Killed Dungeons & Dragons—Twice.

To guarantee tabletop D&D never met this end, the game needed to qualify as a core game brand at Wizards of the Coast, now owned by Hasbro. D&D needed to match its best-ever year of sales in 2000, but this time the game needed sustained sales at that level.

Without a new edition, the game could never approach such numbers. A new edition could be easy, but it had to bring a profitable, sustainable strategy that would meet stockholder’s expectations for return on investment. So far, no tabletop publisher had found such a strategy.

None of this means that fourth edition’s inspiration came entirely from a reach for sales. D&D team leader Bill Slavicsek wrote, “As we move deeper into the third edition, it’s flaws and fun-ending complexities become more pronounced, more obvious to players and Dungeon Masters alike.” The design team saw ways to “greatly reduce and perhaps even eliminate completely the parts of the game that get in the way of the fun.”

Meanwhile, a new threat was taking players from D&D. World of Warcraft debuted in 2004 and experienced surging popularity. By May 2005, WoW had 3.5 million players. By 2008, the community hit more than 11 million players. D&D players started talking about the players that tabletop lost to WoW.

At gaming conventions, the same aging guys who started playing in the 80s showed up to play D&D. Presumably, the younger players and women who might love D&D stayed home to play Warcraft. Wizards of the Coast aimed advertisements at bringing WoW players to the tabletop, but mere ads could never win the flood of new fans D&D needed.

WoW didn’t look like a fad or another way to play. It seemed like the vanguard leading to the future of gaming. “Gaming was definitely changing,” D&D designer Mike Mearls explained. “And I think that for 4th Edition, what we were trying to do was to start predicting for D&D where we thought the game was heading.”

Surely, new players coming to D&D would have an online or video game background. To compete, D&D needed a big advance—a new edition that didn’t just improve the game but an edition capable of winning Warcraft players by matching some of what drew players to online games. “As far as I know, 4th edition was the first set of rules to look to videogames for inspiration,” Mearls said. “I wasn’t involved in the initial design meetings for the game, but I believe that MMOs played a role in how the game was shaped. I think there was a feeling that D&D needed to move into the MMO space as quickly as possible.”

So the new edition focused on the elements that made the D&D fun and especially appealing to fans of online fantasy games. Mearls recalled that the team felt that “building a player character was the real thing that drove people to play the games. You wanted to choose your feats, your prestige classes and whatnot.”

Once players built their characters, the fun came from showing off those characters on the battlefield. Lead designer Rob Heinsoo wanted to give the game an irresistible hook that tied the game together and compelled gamers to play. “The solution James Wyatt, Andy Collins, and I were excited about was to give every PC an ongoing series of choices of interesting powers. Most every time you gain a level you select a new power or a feat. Every combat round you have an interesting choice of which power or powers to use.”

But none of this excitement would benefit players who struggled to find DMs or potential DMs who saw the role as a chore.

The new edition worked to be easier to run. Casual DMs could simply buy an adventure, read the boxed text, and then run a sequence of skill challenges and combat encounters. In a skill challenge, the DM just had to decide if a skill helped the players—but only when the challenge’s description neglected to list a skill in advance. Combat encounters ran easier too. Monsters offered a few, clear options for combat. Just move and roll attacks.

To succeed, the new edition needed to do more than win new players. The game needed a profitable, sustainable strategy.

For Blizzard Entertainment, Warcraft boasted an advantage that the D&D team surely envied. Players paid a monthly fee, which guaranteed steady revenue.

“Along the way, we also came up with the idea of Dungeons & Dragons Insider,” Bill Slavicsek wrote. “This exciting suite of digital tools for players and Dungeon Masters was just too powerful a concept to try to shoehorn the existing d20 Game System around it. Instead we knew we had to rebuild the game to take full advantage of this amazing new initiative.”

The game didn’t just need to be easy to DM. It needed to be easy to run online. Ideally, it would help DMs enough to make running a bad game nearly impossible. Players could drop into the virtual tabletop at any hour, join any available DM, and feel confident that a stranger could deliver a fun experience. A thriving virtual table would let players join a game 24/7, just like Warcraft. And all those player would pay monthly, just like Warcraft.

The designers aimed for online-friendly rules. Fourth edition defines powers as tightly as Magic the Gathering cards, so a computer never needs to decide if, for example, you can take ongoing damage from cold and fire at the same time. Unlike earlier editions, spell effects no longer required a DM’s judgement to rule on a Wish or to decide whether a wizard could polymorph a fly into a blue whale that would drop on a foe.

If the rules proved easy for computers to emulate, the virtual table could lift more and more of the rules burden from the DM and the players. Meanwhile, a new generation of D&D-inspired video games and MMOs could open new revenue sources.

The team planned ways for players at kitchen tables to contribute to the bottom line too. The emphasis on character building would inspire players to by a stream of books with new options. DMs would buy adventures. Everyone needed miniatures. The 4E rules list “D&D Miniatures” among things needed for play—not as a “Useful addition” like a character sheet. The rules never mention tokens or other alternatives to minis.

The D&D team thought they finally had the recipe for sustained success that D&D needed. The new game featured rules optimized to bring the most fun out of the character creation and combat choices that drew players to D&D. The new strategy could gain the income that would vault D&D to a core brand for years to come.

At the 2007 Gen Con game convention, the D&D team announced the new edition. Mike Mearls saw an uneasy reaction from the D&D faithful. “The big announcement on Thursday night was, well, tense. We didn’t spark a riot, but it seemed the audience was a bit nervous.”

As someone in the audience, I saw a confused reception. The D&D team emphasized D&D Insider and the virtual tabletop so much that people wondered if D&D would remain a game playable without a computer. But the designers loved D&D and their new edition, so we felt ready to embrace it too.

Next: Why Fourth Edition Never Saved Dungeons & Dragons

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Black Hack II Kickstarter is Live!

Oubliette - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 08:48
The Kickcstarter for the Second Edition of The Black Hack is now live. This time along with an updated 20 page rulebook there's a 124 hardback with loads of extra content and a special black box with extra goodies.

Check the project page out here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1730454032/the-black-hack-rpg-second-edition
















Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Yvain, or, The Knight with the Lion As OSR Campaign Setting Fodder For Your Old School Games

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 03:30
I haven't put fingers to key board since this morning & work has had me moving from one thing to another. But I've been neglecting the Lion & Dragon rpg for a bit now but I wanted to get into the Welsh Arthurian literature for a bit. Everything I love about Welsh Arthurian literature is here in spades. The other worldly influences are striking as they are weird in their execution. This is a Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

1940: It’s Not Just a Running Gag!

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 02:57

Author JD Cowan confirms a long-running culture critic meme:

While looking up the big magazines back in the day I came to the conclusion that 1940 is a really HARD cutoff to where the best material ended. There were some good stories, but it stopped becoming common after that very specific year.

Argosy eventually dropped pulp after running less and less of it, Weird Tales changed editors and aimed away from novels and sword and sorcery, Campbell had finally shaken off the last of the red-blooded action adventure writers from Astounding, Amazing and Fantastic shrunk and ran smaller and smaller stories, and most every other magazine followed suit. This correlates with the change in content as well as the less imaginative titles and covers the magazines sported. Oh, and the same small pool of writers began showing up everywhere while others just vanished around the same time. The field only shrunk in the 40s so it was no mystery why magazines had completely died by the 50s.

The only magazines that seemed to hold on were Planet Stories and Startling Stories, somehow living in a decade where the bigger magazines disowned their style of adventure stories. And they were looked down on as trash.

So, yeah: don’t read anything after 1940!

Now, if this is the first time you’ve heard of this, you are going to have a powerful desire to dismiss this is being merely a product of evolution, changes in technology, progress, and/or utterly predictable changes in fashion and style. You’d take for granted that the publishing industry merely adapted however it could in order to maximize their bottom lines. And you’d also be wrong. Because the same thing that you are witnessing happening to both Marvel Comics and Star Wars right now happened to short science fiction and fantasy back then.

Author Brian Neimier explains it this way:

The short story’s demise is by design. The Campbellians and Futurians took over the big anthologies and magazines decades ago. Find me an SF fan who religiously read AnalogThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, or Asimov’s since the 70s (or before in the first two cases), and I’ll show you a fan who’s since cancelled his subscription.

The SF short story market collapsed because the gatekeepers deliberately banished escapism, heroism, and action from the format. They tried to murder novels, too, and they almost got away with it. Amazon has been the science fiction genre’s saving grace. The tradpub gatekeepers didn’t see it coming, which tells you how little they know their own industry.

Since at least the 1940s, the sciffy literati have been working to purge any trace of masculinity from the genre. They purposefully strove to replace the Shadow, Doc Savage, and Conan with Kickass Strong Female Characters , Scalzified soyboy snarkitrons, and androgyne sideshow attractions. Men responded by abandoning print sci-fi in droves at the reader, author, and editor levels. They were supposed to have nowhere to run.

Now, you might object that the old style of story wasn’t actively suppressed. You might point out that several of the best authors from the bad old days are still in print. If you’d like a look at the sort of person that holds sway over the print industry for the past few decades, just look at the sort of nudniks they tap to write the introductions to these works.

Author Jim Fear has a typical example:

I’m reading this biography of Robert E. Howard called Blood and Thunder: The Life & Art of Robert E. Howard (which I highly recommend, by the way, if you’re interested in the man’s life), and in the introduction Joe R. Lansdale has the absolute unmitigated gall to say, and I quote, “The twelve year old male was perhaps his most obvious mark, being open to all the repressed desires that Howard displays, but readers of all ages have fallen under his spell.”

This might seem innocuous to you, but it lights a fire under the [bottom] of someone like me. This belies an attitude of unvarnished, feigned superiority. An air of “I’m better than you because I don’t enjoy what twelve year old boys enjoy.” And in the interest of poking into the very base of these suppositions that people like Lansdale obviously hold so close as to throw around in such a cavalier manner, what in the absolute hell, precisely, is wrong with what twelve year old boys enjoy?

Hey I get it, not everyone likes the same sort of thing. That’s fair. If you’re on the same page as Joe R. Lansdale and really want to have some wide open, totally realistic, grown-up oriented fantasy, then E. Reagan Wright has just the thing for you: Modern Fantasy from Dark Horse Comics!

I’m not even going to provide the link. It’s just another stale-ass relationship webcomic dressed up in D&D garb and slapped with a Dark Horse logo and felated by a fawning press to make it seem legit. From what I hear at the D5D tables down to the local friendly nerdery, it’s a pretty good approximation of the latest version of D&D. Most of what I see these days are people LARPing as tabletop RPG gamers – it’s like the Inception-pocalypse out there, people.

#NotAtMyTable!

Now, some of you are going to read these posts and… I really get it, your spirit is going to be vexed. You’re going to recall your favorite hard science fiction classics. You’re going to think of all the cases where realism contributed to the story. You’re going to tune up whatever smart remark about John Carter getting with a big breasted Martian woman that lays an egg for him and all that. Truly, you are the spiritual heir to the weenies that wrote in very angry letters to Planet Stories back in the forties. You are a truly discerning person and I’m sure you have a point!

Nevertheless, you need to chill. There is a particularly noxious attitude that justifies itself by making appeals to realism but which has an almost Gollum-like hatred for a great many things that are real.

Richard Curtis put it this way:

“If you write a story about a soldier going AWOL and kidnapping a pregnant woman and finally shooting her in the head, it’s called searingly realistic, even though it’s never happened in the history of mankind. Whereas if you write about two people falling in love, which happens about a million times a day all over the world, for some reason or another, you’re accused of writing something unrealistic and sentimental.”

I want to tell you to do yourself a favor and get these godawful killjoys off your shelf and out of your to-read pile… but the fact is… you walked away from these losers decades ago without even realizing it. And Marvel and Disney are watching entire of legions of people do the same thing right now now that they’ve made it clear that they can’t create stories with unvarnished depictions of the heroic.

It’s 1940 all over again.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Box Breaking 249: Catacombs Conquest from Elzra Games

Gamer Goggles - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 00:44

Catacombs Conquest is the newest game In the Catacombs line, It’s a stand alone  version that can serve as an introduction to the popular Catacombs line by Elzra Games that features a dexterity based combat system.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

Alright I am going to try and play this Thursday night. If not I won’t get to it until after Origins Game Fair

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A Piece of Gaming Mecca or Magic Item?

Fail Squad Games - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 20:29
Magic Items and Nostalgia Me at 330 Center St with leaves for the project

This piece of cardstock vibrates with the essence of gaming. The artisanal paper is hand-made from sample adventure printings, damaged well-played modules and leaves collected from 330 Center Street in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. For those who don’t know, 330 Center Street was the home of Gary Gygax and is the birthplace of Dungeons & Dragons. The world and gaming were forever changed from this modest little home.

The leaves were collected, cleaned, destemmed, then soaked for months to make the fibres pliable enough to be added to paper. Tears were shed as classic adventures and sample printings were pulverized for the pulp. These adventures and leaves were then hand-pressed to create this one of a kind card stock that carries the essence of gaming in every cell.

Lloyd Metcalf, Art director of Gary Con and CEO of Fail Squad Games collected the leaves, made the paper, and finally adorned each piece with thoughtful art in archival ink. Each drawing is intended to bring the essence of classic Dungeons & Dragons and RPGs to everyone who holds it.

Since the first piece was created, it has come to be believed that dice resting on this paper are imbued with the luck and adventures of legend. Is it possible that a roll in a game might somehow be altered by the will of all the heroes of center street, and the uncountable nostalgic adventures that were had with the paper that was recycled into this one little square?

I will have a very limited supply of these at North Texas RPG Con this year (2018) at the Fail Squad Games Table. All artwork is unique and different to each piece.

The post A Piece of Gaming Mecca or Magic Item? appeared first on Fail Squad Games.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Thoughts The Dungeon Ecology of The Golden Voyage of Sinbad 1973

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 16:45
If you need a recap on the overall plot & high points of one of my favorite Ray Harryhausen films go here. We're going to be diving deep into the background of this classic film & its comic book adaptation Unknown Worlds issue #7 from the 'my comicshop' website.   So last night I watched the classic Conan film from '82 & then moved on to 'The Golden Voyage of Sinbad'. This film has so Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

spellbook PDFs for all the Monster Manual monsters and npcs

Blog of Holding - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 14:10

I made a new utility for DMs: HTML and PDF spellbooks for every Monster Manual monster.

If you’ve ever tried to DM a monster who uses a lot of spells – a lich, say, or an archmage – you’ll know that it is no picnic. Trying to pick out the lich’s next turn involves flipping through several spells in the PHB or in D&D Beyond. It sure would be nice if all the monster’s spells were presented together so you could just scan the page!

That’s what this tool is. Every spellcasting MM monster from angel (deva) to yugoloth (ultroloth) has its complete spellbook, in either HTML or PDF format, available here.

Also, I added a feature where you can login and design your own monster or NPC spellbooks. Just type in the name of a spell and the full text of the spell appears in the spellbook. You can also write up custom spells.

This utility was a real lifesaver the other night, when I was DMing a game. Midway through the battle, one of the players cast a Silence spell on my custom NPC necromancer. Normally this is a HUGE pain. You have to look up every single spell to check which ones don’t have a verbal component. Instead, I was just able to scan the PDF and quickly see how many spells the necromancer could still cast: none. All of his spells had verbal components. He was completely hosed.

Here’s that link again: The 5e Spellbook: Printable spellbooks for all the Monster Manual monsters

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Desecration & Damnation

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 11:16


By Davis Chenault
Troll Lord Games
Castles & Crusades
Levels 4-6

All along the banks of the Vindig River people worshipped the river goddess. She blessed the people and kept the trolls at bay. But in time, she grew weary and to guard them she set statues upon the river to watch over the people, and then she left them to their own devices. But no troll fears stone, nor the forgotten promises of a goddess. They have returned to the Vindig, but this time with a vengeance.

This is a twenty page adventure detailing a small/dangerous river journey and a small river temple. Full of flavor but too long for what it is, it takes a lot of words to get where it’s going which results in confusion on more than one occasion.

The Trolls can be frustrating. This adventure is FULL of flavor. It’s got a nice river/delta setting, kind of Lewis & Clark or Mississippi River rafting setting. Everything is wet, there’s a big wide river with some rapids and sheer cliffs in places. Slippery mud and slick rock stair. Sunken temples wet. Rules for swimming, storms, drowning, rapids. Ancient protective river gods and beast-like men ruining their temples. It’s got a nice slow pace and realism to it without it going too far down the “roll every 10 minutes of game time for heat exhaustion” nonsense. There’s this primitivism that would be at home in Harn or maybe even Runequest. Not bronze age, but a good rural river thing.

It’s also quite a short adventure for the page count. The last seven are just monster stats. Before that we get an opening battle with the beast-men/trolls that is the hook. Then some village and priest roleplay, wilderness wandering monsters and the river rules, and then a four-ish encounter temple. The adventure is mostly a very conversational writing style with little of the traditional encounter/key format. Bolding runs in to DM text runs in to bolding.

This can lead to confusion in places as multiple areas kind of overlap with little distinction as to the location change. The editing really let this one down.

The wilderness is a big part of this, but the wandering table is a poor, at best. Just a list of monster stats without detail on actions. Farmers, sure, but what are they doing out in the wilderness? I like a little pretext to get the old DM juices going.

At another point, in some rough rapids, there’s a little dungeon entrance that’s left for the DM to develop, as a reward for those who brave the rapids instead of going around them. For the amount of content I would have expected a one or two room cave, at least, with some loot. (And as an aside, that’s a perfect example of putting things out of the way. If you look behind the waterfall, behind the stairs, you should find something.)

The encounters, what there is, are weirdly long, repeating background text, and quite a bit overly detailed.

The seeds are planted for a longer adventure, visiting more temples, and the setting that leaks through the detail is interesting. It’s just really simple for the page count provided.

This is $10 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages. The second and third page show the initial encounter and gives you a good idea of the style of writing to expect. Note the three or four paragraphs on page three and the amount of text there.
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/240688/Castles–Crusades–Desecration–Damnation

Oh, and as an aside, here’s a paragraph I found funny. Yeah, I think we get, mostly, what is meant, but sometimes you need the regional setting product to decipher things precisely …

“The stealing of an idol by a vindehoyer is a bad omen and may indicate that Atharioon has given up on the Vindig River and Urshoonga is coming to claim what he says is his. Since the Zjerd are invading the region, a PC will make the connection as Stroomsh is a Dorstmin.”

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Damselfly!

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 11:07

No stats today, but here's a new piece of art by Dean Kotz with colors and logo by me for my supers thing in the works.

The microverse of Zurrz-Zann is home to a technologically advanced, regimented society. Zurrz-Zann was at peace for many years, until an emerging insectoid intelligence on Earth breached the dimensions and fomented insurrection. Xazandra Zaantarz was a junior law enforcer, sent with her partner to Earth to stop the psychic attack. The two eventually became lovers and a crimefighting partners as Dragonfly and Damselfly. 

When the society of their homeworld took an even greater turn toward authoritarianism, Damselfly chose to stay on Earth and was branded a traitor by her people.

Dark Naga Adventures - Hastur Mythos Adventures Path & Commentary

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 18:11
"Immediately following the events of Confronting Hastur, the characters wake up in Carcosa and are greeted by a broken man who tells them they only have a day to escape the plane before becoming permanent residents. The way home appears to require them to confront a demon lady and the three demon brothers who constantly vie for her attention and their domains within Carcosa. A land Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary - Player Expectation Verse Choice In OSR & Old School Games

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 15:16
So over the years I've learned a bit of balance when it comes to using Arduin or any old school material. The dungeon master is part set designer, part referee, guide when it comes to the worlds of our imagination. Dave Hargrave used these ideals in his home campaign with gusto but not abandoned. Over the years of reading about & talking to the various players in Mr. Hargrave's home Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Twelve Rules For Adapting Classic Old School Modules for Campaign Play

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 06/02/2018 - 18:37
Sometimes one stumbles into a blog topic, today I was down at my local Half Priced Books with some friends. I walked over to the rpg section which was quite full of treasures from the old school. Watching two twenty something year old guys mooning at a classic  T1 Temple of Elemental Evil by Gary Gygax with Frank Mentzer. They were intimidated by three things the lethality of the module, the Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

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