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Tabletop games and adventures
Updated: 7 hours 36 sec ago

Exquisite Dungeon

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 04:22

Yesterday while we were waiting for some of the usual gang to arrive at The Dungeon Tower FLGS it occurred to me that we were trying to run a long-run campaign in the game store. It’s something that one would run at home with a solid regular group, not a place where people come and go from one week to the next. Or where new gamers just want to sit in for a couple of hours.

How to solve our problem?

I recalled Gary Gygax’s Tomb of Horrors. It’s less an out-right campaign adventure and more of a “See how long you can last” challenge. There were a few other stories I heard from Ernie about the Dungeon Hobby Shop where people would drop in and just want a quick game for various reasons. We needed a solution that let us drop in, game, and if others were an hour late or didn’t come, we could still have a game.

The Inspiration

In 1925 Yves Tanguy, Jacques Prévert, André Breton and Marcel Duchamp created an art exercise called “The Exquisite Corpse”. A paper is folded into thirds. The first artist draws on the top, folds it to hide the section leaving only small hints to end lines for the next artist, and likewise for the third. The end creation is a surreal and abstract whole creation. I knew Herman wanted to get a break from GMing and I was getting my fill of waiting for people to maybe or maybe not arrive.

We threw most ideas of an on-going campaign out the window. We also threw large portions of organized adventure out the window. It was decided that we’d have a blank slate world with just some core elements. Similar to my Lands of Lunacy setting, we’d embrace the chaos void. Characters would be allowed to drop in and out without story-logic explanation. If nothing else, a chaos shadow would sweep away the character. 

Game Masters can rotate at any time or at any natural pause. The GM (previously a player or guest) after the first one has the little story threads left to pull and create a game in an improv fashion. The world as a whole gets built one hex a time as each GM establishes new things. GMs can even rotate mid-dungeon if they like. The end larger creation ends up being an  adventure and campaign. Even if it’s a bit ‘abstract’ it still creates the game world.

Characters and Levels

We are keeping a stack of Pre-Gens available. Players can also generate one on site, but the game continues while they work. Generally speaking, the party has an “adventurer level” as we move along and each GM picks up the torch. As players drop in and out some level adjustments need to be made.

Running on Improv

Running an improv adventure is a real challenge, but in the Exquisite Dungeon a GM can run as few as a handful of encounters or as many as a few sessions. The GM can run off-the-cuff, a portion of a module, or something they googled during the break. In some way it should make sense according to the story threads of the previous GM.

This removes a lot of GM pressure and allows us to game with new visitors to the shop and regulars. We also get to keep our gaming muscles active and ideas flowing. One of the core reasons for us playing more is to become more familiar with the 5E system and its nuances. If your group tries the Exquisite Dungeon approach, I’d be interested in hearing about it below.

~Lloyd Metcalf

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Whisper in the Crags

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 17:20

The latest 5e / S&W “Quick Kick” adventure from Fail Squad Games is coming to a close tomorrow (January 3rd). There was only a little more than a week to find it and get in, but you only need $3 to get he full reward! Here we are now, doing better than ever…

When I first launched this idea for “Quick Kick” projects on Kickstarter with Falls Keep, I wasn’t sure if it was an idea that would stick. My intent was just to push out short adventures that were just a few pages and gave game masters some tools to have in their GMing box. I kept getting these fun ideas for short adventures that weren’t really enough for print, but more than just a Drivethru creation.

Quick Kick Projects

This is the second of Fail Squad Games’ series of “Quick Kick” projects which are super short, Kickstarter projects that cost just a few bucks to back and deliver short Sidequests in PDF form only.  The goal is for each adventure to be about one session long, 8-12 pages in length, and easy to pick up and run for the unprepared GM. Each adventure will be full color, and internally hyperlinked with an interactive PDF.

I have yet to wrangle one of these to under pages, but we’ll get there. No one complains when they get more than promised.

New Artwork

I commissioned my the skilled Raven Winter Metcalf to produce the art for this adventure. It was our goal to change the look and feel of the entire project from our usual ‘serious’ feel. This adventure is inspired by a musical piece “Curse of Milhaven” and we wanted the illustrations to reflect the theme, but carry a Burtonesque feel. In the end we landed on a project with a wonderful look and I couldn’t be happier with the departure.

The Future

The future of “Quick Kick” projects looks bright and we have many more lined up with new authors getting into the queue. For those asking, yes, eventually we may look at printing on paper, but for now, these are PDF only and add to the simplicity of the project when it comes to delivery.


The town of Lorview has seen numerous struggles from Fail Squad Adventures and Whisper in the Crags adds a sweet full-page upgraded map of the area. from the Kickstarter page: 

When the winds blow in from the east at just the right angle, the Whispering Crags north of Lorview howl and moan, giving rise to dark superstition and legends. Little Lottie Fisher has a secret friend who knows more than most about the crags.  That strange little girl, drawing her pictures and talking to the dark.

  “Lottie has a wanderlust,” her mother Rasel Fisher often says. “Even as a babe on the road, she wandered off for two days into the forest alone. She’s a blessing and a handful.”

What dark secret await the heroes in the city of Lorview this time? 

Want to get in the loop to be notified first when a Quick Kick launches? Join the Fail Squad Games Guild NOW!

If you’re reading this and it’s January 3rd 2019 or earlier – Back Whisper in the Crags NOW! 
Follow me on Kickstarter to get pinged about new projects as well.

Fail Squad Games is just getting traction and with each release we improve. Thank you for your support, backing, and sharing a love of this hobby that has enriched the world.

~Lloyd Metcalf
Fail Squad Games CEO

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

FSG Kicking up 5E

Mon, 11/19/2018 - 03:23

A few weeks ago Raven and I decided we wanted and needed to learn 5E better so that we could better understand the newest edition of the game for better or worse. We both love and play the 0E through 2E versions and enjoy them. It was just time to set things aside and dig in to try 5e in earnest without insisting it be an older edition. Here’s my take on how things are going…

The Journey

Up to now I’ve written and played modules in older editions and paid for help in the 5e conversions. No more. We found a local friend (Herman) and we talked about how to proceed. We would take it slow; stop, complain, look things up, and make a real effort to understand this edition. It turns out there was less complaining in play than anticipated but we do still need to look various things up. This slows play a bit, but we are progressing through the game better than expected.

Previously I had read the books and tried it a few times but always with a bit of expectation that the game was still what it once was. Of course, this is a foolish approach because those editions have already been printed. WOTC wouldn’t reprint the same game twice.

My Personal Issues in 5e

I have discovered by playing 5E weekly, rotating playing and GMing, that my issues were less with the game than with the way the information is presented in the books. The game plays differently than it reads when the dice start rolling. Running also seems to have smoothed out a bit with the progression of time as we become more familiar with the rules.

The Latest Adventures

Tonight players finished The Witch’s Trial in the Lands of Lunacy. During my time behind the character sheet, Herman is running us through the Phandelver adventure. The more hours we all spend on both sides of the screen, the more we are learning to like 5E. The power ratchet is real, however, doing 2 HP of damage to a monster with 6 HP is the same as doing 20 HP of damage to one with 60. We are also learning to better write to this edition from the ground up.

The Fun Side

As players, we are discarding the idea and verbiage of “Character Builds”. The Squad didn’t want to try to find the most powerful character stack. We are purposefully choosing the race class combinations we want to play and fitting the numbers and choices into that story. We had fears of overly complex play and abilities, overpowered classes (which is still on the horizon as we rise through levels), and spending hours looking up various abilities and skills.

I feel that we are all pleasantly surprised at how smoothly the game plays once the dice roll and the books are closed. Yes, we still need to look things up, but no more than we did in the 1E and 2E versions. The various character abilities are laid on slowly in lairs so GMs and player grow accustom to the options and abilities. It still feels like a night of D&D at the end of the evening and nothing more complicated than the “Complete Book of” era we went through.

The more we game, the more we all look forward to gaming again. The more we put the rules to practical application, the more we seem to accept the changes. It has taken us some time to adapt to 5E from our 0E to 2E roots, but we are indeed adapting.

We tested a live stream tonight and have discussed plans for future, better, and upgraded stream arrangements for FSG games to come online. Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with our adventure into 5E and our games.

This acceptance of 5E came just as we were considering dropping production to the system and focusing on BECMI / LL. I’m glad we gave it one more try.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs