Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Wednesday Comics: DC, December 1980 (wk 2 pt 1)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 09/22/2021 - 11:00
My goal: read DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands around September 25, 1980.

Action Comics #514: Everywhere computers are going haywire and causing trouble. After noticing the pattern, Superman traces the problem back to the Fortress of Solitude. There, he's bedeviled by his own robots and security measures, but fights his way through to the culprit: Brainiac. Brainiac is rebuilding himself after his last encounter with Superman and Supergirl and needs the help of the Fortresses computer to reprogram parts of his brain. When, he gets done, he says they won't meet like this again, shakes Superman's hand and flies off. It's a whiplash shift, and it made me wonder for a moment if their was a missing page or at least panels. But no, Superman explains that he used his powers while Brainiac was distracted to pull a Doc Savage move and reprogram Brainiac's brain for good. An interesting twist by Wolfman in an otherwise ho-hum story, one which will lead to a short "new direction" for Brainiac. Short, because he's only got only 3 more appearances over as many years before he gets his new, more robotic redesign.
The Air-Wave/Atom backup makes the Sunspotter out to be a super-powerful villain, but it isn't enough to keep him from being defeated, and it isn't really enough to make this feature interesting. Sunspotter does have sort of a Marvel vibe and design, though; he reminds me of some one or two appearance Marvel Team-Up foes. Next issue promises a solo Atom story (presumably still by Rozakis and Tanghal). We'll see how that one goes.

Adventure Comics #478: This issue will be the last of the 3-way split in Adventure. Each of the features is getting sent off to another title. But here, DeMatteis and Giordano/Mitchell finish their Black Manta storyline--sort of. Manta and his army of the disaffected attack Atlantis, but Aquaman escapes from the cell where Manta left him in time to rally the Atlantean troops and give an impassion speech to Manta's forces, many of whom desert and take an offer of sanctuary in Atlantis. Mera recovers from her illness and arrives in time to stop Black Manta, and Cal Durham is with her. Cal finally gets to tell Aquaman what he's being trying to tell him for 3 issues: that's not really Black Manta!
Levitz and Ditko have Starman succeed in saving M'ntorr from his own people, but M'ntorr is then exiled to the physical universe. He tells Starman he's proud of him and regenerates Starman's destroyed staff before deciding to die anyway. I have a hunch the follow up in DC Comics Presents will be more tying off loose ends than continuing the story. The Pasko/Staton/Smith Plastic Man has Plas up against a group of former criminals turned P.I.s who are acting like criminals again to prove they haven't "lost their touch." They also happen to look just like the Marx Brothers. Honestly, I'm surprised Plastic Man lasted as long as it did, not because it's terrible, but because I feel like it was very much out of step with what comics readers wanted in 1980.

Brave & the Bold #169: Barr and Aparo have Batman investigating Angela Marcy, faith healer of the Marcy Temple, after the suspicious death of her husband. Zatanna is an attendee of the temple and a believer. She tags along to prove Batman wrong. It turns out Raymond Marcy was killed by a mobster he refused to use his healing gift on. Angela's powers are a fraud, though her assistant has been faking the most dramatic cures without her knowledge. The killer is brought to justice, and Batman suggests Angela Marcy open a mission in Gotham's slums instead of a temple. A solid, if unremarkable team-up yarn. 
The Nemesis backup continues not to do much for me, other than I appreciate Spiegle's art. But hey, it graduates to a Batman team-up next issue so we'll see where it all winds up.

Detective Comics #497: In the lead story, Conway and Newton take Batman out of Gotham to track a gangster to Baja California. In one difficult night, Batman's mission intersects the disparate lives of several individuals, and leaves most of them better off--even when his actions interfered with their plans. It's a clever concept for a story, though I don't feel like it comes together as well as Conway might have hoped. 
The Batgirl backup is more interesting. Barbara Gordon is a suspect in the murder of Representative Scanlon, there appears to be a frame-up. The only way to alibi herself is to admit to being Batgirl. Her father has mysteriously disappeared, so she's on her own. Barbara is arrested in the issues cliffhanger ending. Delbo's art seems not up to his Wonder Woman standards here, though. 

Green Lantern #135: I just don't feel like this Dr. Polaris story needed 3 issues. It's decompression before decompression was a thing. Well, not really decompression, perhaps, but more not getting to the point. Polaris has conquered the world and a ringless Hal Jordan and his pal Thomas go to try and stop him somehow. Polaris recognizes them but spends so much time toying with Jordan that our hero has time to mentally call his ring back. Polaris keeps absorbing magnetic power so he doesn't think it matters. GL changes strategies, though, giving Polaris more power so that he becomes one with the magnetic field of the universe (or something) and disappears.
The Sutton/Rodriquez Adam Strange yarn likewise feels like a study in taking so long to get to the ending that the ending feels flat. The story title, though, is "The Zeta-Bomb Maneuver" which references the ST:TOS episode "The Corbomite Maneuver." Strange pulls exactly the same sort of trick as Kirk in that episode when he bluffs the existence of a super-weapon called a zeta-bomb to defeat the rebels.

House of Mystery #287: The Micheline/Bercasio story must have inspired the cool Kaluta cover, but doesn't really have anything to do with it. An Arctic weather outpost is plagued by mysterious deaths where the bodies are found drained of blood. Oh, and there's that coffin that's there with them nobody can explain, so already several of the remaining crew are thinking vampire. In the end, one guy, the skeptic is left, though he manages to kill the vampire, he is bitten and finds himself transformed here in the middle of no where with no blood to drink. 
The other two stories aren't quite as good, but not terrible. DeMatteis and Cruz give us a story of an old woman who is domineering toward the niece she supports because she is secretly jealous of her youth. She makes a deal with a very chipper Devil for a second youth, and for a while lives it up. Then, she realizes she's been tricked and is aging back to childhood. Her niece takes charge of her life and finances and sets out to treat her as cruelly as she feels she was treated. The last story by Oleck and Saviuk seems overly complicated in that it makes the slaughter-happy treasure-seekers attacking Native American-appearing folk aliens instead of--well, Europeans. Captain Jurok is convinced there is a city of gold, so he leads a side mission without approval of his superiors to find it. They are taken captive and forced to toil as slaves in that hidden city of gold. Jurok escapes, but dies of exposure, though not before being found by his people. They leave the planet, never noticing the shackles he wore were made of gold.

OSR Review & Commentary On Colony Builder Supplement For The Hostile Setting From Zozer Games & Your 2d6 Science Fiction Games

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 09/22/2021 - 02:27
" Build a colony within the HOSTILE setting. Build a colony from your favourite SF movie or TV show. Make it pay. Keep your costs low. And then test in the market. How will it fare with a key group of characters at the helm? Make decisions for them as they try to fix the colony's inevitable problems, chart the fate of your creation into glory or ignominy. And then watch the corporation come in toNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Expedition To The Deep Session Report #2 - The Free Gamma World Adventure GW5 'Rapture From the Deep' & X6 Quagmire by Merle M. Rasmussen With The Castles & Crusades Rpg Aligned With The Star Ship Warden Rpg book

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 09/21/2021 - 15:15
 The PC's have struck out on their own into the swamps of Florida to gather intelligence on the cryptic alliance that is featuring in the free Gamma World adventure 'Rapture of the Deep'  right over here at Wayne's Books. Then you know that our little gang of Amazing Adventures & Castles & Crusades hellions saved a town along what's left of the Florida pan handle. This picks up right where 'Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rethinking Potions as a Bonus Action

DM David - Tue, 09/21/2021 - 11:57

A popular house rule in Dungeons & Dragons lets characters drink a potion as a bonus action rather than as an action. (See Scrutinizing the 9 Most Popular House Rules for D&D.) When a typical round takes several minutes of real time to play, this rule spares the players from having to wait for their turn only to spend it adding 2d4+2. That turn feels like a letdown.

Nonetheless, I favored playing by the book and making drinking a healing potion an action. Until we welcome CamelBak hydration backpacks into our D&D worlds, I estimate that getting and opening a vial, and then downing the contents would take the better part of 6 seconds. Also, characters tend to need healing potions late in a fight, and I enjoy the difficult choice between pressing an attack despite dangerously low hit points or healing. Choices make games engaging.

My opinion changed after I played countless battles while eyeing unused potions of giant strength, fire breathing, and heroism in my characters’ inventories. Near the end of a battle, I still like the dilemma that healing potions can bring, but those other potions work best as a boost at the start a tough fight—the sort of fight you never want to begin by wasting a turn sipping a potion. The typical D&D battle only lasts three rounds!

Can I start fights with a timeout? “Before we roll initiative, my character tells the dragon, ‘Wait one second,’ holds up a finger, and then drinks a potion of fire resistance.” Until that works, I will continue to retire characters with stockpiles of unused potions. I would have enjoyed using those potions, so I suppose I’m ready to invent a device that rigs one of those gag cup-holder hats with more tubes than a pan flute.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Mists Creep In - 'Of Gods & Monsters', James Ward's Tainted Lands, and The Role Of The Divine

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 09/20/2021 - 16:38
" Mythic epics are the driving force behind fantasy role playing games! Castles & Crusades is no exception. Here for the first time C&C branches out into the ether and brings you OF Gods & Monsters a book we guarantee you’ll want and use. Written by James M. Ward this book stands along side the Monsters & Treasure as a tremendous resource for adventure and fun.""James M. Ward returns to a subjectNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Sepulchre of Seven

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 09/20/2021 - 11:37
By Hex A.G. Nome Hexagnome OSE Levels 5-7

Long ago a half-elf, half deer-centaur named Jayne led a small guerilla band against the armies of an evil fae witch. They prevailed at terrible cost.Over centuries, the Church erased all memory of Jayne’s fae nature. Monsters moved into her hideout-turned-sepulchre, still haunted by Jayne’s enemies and companions, and a ghost longing to complete his vengeance…

This 68 page digest adventure features a two level dungeon with about forty rooms. And a metric FUCK TON of shit going on. Multiple zones, subplots, mysteries, a variety of things to do. It is CRAMMED. Could use a little more focus on consistent evocative descriptions, and it’s going to take some study cause it ain’t holding your hand. But, if you have to study, make for an interesting dungeon … and this one’s interesting.

Well, it’s got the fucking marketing down, that’s for sure, at least as far as the cover is concerned. Striking, isn’t it? It stands out in the sea of generic samey style that seems to be the goto these days. I say it in my feed and was like “Uh, Fuck Yeah, I want that.” Excited from the moment of purchase, that’s what I like!

The dungeon is the former base and now tomb of mythic figure of yore. Her legend is now corrupted and transformed, much in the same way that christiantity houses some pagan beliefs. There’s something there, some borrowed, something new, something blue. The locals will tell you tales about their local patron saint, each with some truth in them. Slotting in to this same section are the hooks, two of which stand out to me both escort jobs. One, a priest charged with cleaning and blessing the derelict sanctuary, and the other escorting a 17 year old “chosen one” in to the place. It gives it a kind of Dragonslayer vibe, I think. There’s no real detail to either, and a little personality and/or guidance, maybe one sentence more or two, for each, would have gone a long way. And that’s going to be a theme of this review. Most of the rooms could use a sentence, maybe two, more. 

So, great maps, lots of variety in them. Same level stairs, grottos, rivers, features on the maps. Clean and easy to read, monsters noted n the map for reaction purposes. Even a side view to help you see how things go together. The maps come from two different good designers, and then this designer has further modified them to fit their usability needs. VERY good job. These are REAL fucking dungeon maps, none of the half-efforrts that are so commonly seen these days. Not necessarily exploration maps, with their loops and such, but then again this is a tomb dungeon. The PDF comes hyperlinked and with cross-references in rooms to help you locate information.

And I don’t really, historically, like tomb dungeons. I, traditionally, find their maps too limiting (not this one!) and the encounters are a little boring and staid. They never feel like tombs. And when they do it feels a little static. But not here.

What we have going on here are a number of zones. We’ve got the kobolds in the entry zone. We’ve trolls down below near the underground river (multiple ways in to this dungeon for clever players!.) We’ve got some border zones with vermin. We’ve got a variety of tombs, with their intelligent undead spirits, and workshop areas. And the land of the fae, breaking in to places. Different feelings to the zones, different vibes. From the (potential) war zone with the kobolds to the more methodical negotiation with some intelligent undead, to more traditional exploration elements avoiding the typical dungeon vermin. And it’s through this zone play that a variety of play styles come in to play, keeping the adventuring elements fresh and less stale than a typical tomb adventure. 

Descriptions, when they happen, are quite good. Here’s a description of an amber golem: “Carved in pale translucent blue amber, the lean, 5′ tall, 2-tons snow leopard radiates softly from within. Bronze teeth and claws shine with the promise of death. Liquid gold cat-eyes cast puzzling, hopeful inquiries.” Note how it concentrates on things relevant to play, its appearance and mannerisms. Maybe a little flowery in places but those bits don’t overstay their welcome and could be argued lead to a better conceptual understanding of the beast, by the DM. The designer manages to do these descriptions time and time again … when it comes to creatures.

Room descriptions are done in a kind of evocative keyword/bullet point style, with section headings augmenting this. So the initial description might be: Well (rumbling water far below) 7 Arrow Slits, Larger than life statues (statue description) Lancet Arch door. And then some major sections headings for Kobolds, 7 Crude Arrow Slits, North Door, and Well, each with some bullet point descriptions and mechanics. This style, done well, ranks high on my Favorite Styles list. . It scans easily and short, punchy descriptions can work well. 

When done well.

Ok, so, I’ve not alluded three separate times to issues with the adventure. I’m going to cover them now, but, I’m also going to say that I like this adventure. You’re going to have to study it to use it, and it could be better, as I’m about to detail, but I think it’s worth it. 

There are three points I’d like to address. The first is hand holding. Just how much detail do you provide for the DM, as the designer? How explicit must you be, how much do you have to spell out for them? There is some happy medium between minimal keying and WallOfText four page room descriptions. Something like B2, or G1, can do a decent amount of story-telling and explaining through the use of the room keys. The story of the place comes to reveal itself over time, through the room keys. Alliances, slave rebellions, faction tension and so on. But those are, essentially, room keys one step removed from minimal keying. As your rooms get more complex and more is going on it gets harder to tell that story through the keys. You begin to need to be more explicit. You need a summary of what’s going on. That could be What’s going on in the dungeon, or in this zone of the dungeon, or, what’s going on in this room. Ideally, you, the DM, glance at things and know what’s going on. More complexity, though, requires more explanation. And this adventure could sorely use one more sentence, maybe two, for most of its rooms and Major Things.

Those creature descriptions that are so good are essentially the only place you’re going to see words strung together like that. Those escort folks needed a couple more sentences to bring them alive. Likewise, the rooms here, need a sentence or two more … as does the entire dungeon. If there were a few words, a paragraph, up front describing how the dungeon, factions, etc, worked, it would reduce the cognitive load of figuring it out. Yes, it’s present. But you need to read and understand everything to get it … and a little front-loading of the information would have made it easier to receive and grok. Same with the rooms. With some study you can figure out what is going on and how to run the thing. A sentence or two more would have helped with NPC reactions, and an overall “vibe” to the room.

Because as it stands, the rooms come off a little … staid? A little flat? The descriptions anyway. They don’t feel like a cohesive whole, working together, to create a vibe. A couple of evocative sentences up front, might have solved that. Or, a lot of agonizing work on the specific words selected to describe the various elements that are present. Right now it comes off more fact based than evocative, and I find that the keyword thing works better when it comes off as evocative instead. 

So, it’s complex. And requires study and thinking to figure out how things run. And some time thinking about the rooms to summon up a suitable imagery to go with them. I’ve been known to really slam an adventure for such things. Generally, this is when I feel the adventures so derivative and offers nothing interesting in play. If you’re going to charge me $50 for a grilled cheese it better be a really fucking good grilled chese. But then, sometimes, you get something like this. Sure, there are flaws, but, overall interactivity is good enough that the effort you put in to running it will pay off. And in spite of me saying that, after a couple of read-through, I’m STILL not sure how the damned/skulls/number of them work. Ug!

It’s a real dungeon. And those are few and far between.

It’s free at DriveThru. And the entire thing is available as a preview. AND they’ve posted some sample pages. Check out that gorgeous fucking map! Check it out. Page 22 of the preview/16 of the book is a good one to look at for the format/style used.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/366868/The-Sepulchre-of-Seven?manufacturers_id=20057?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Dark Sun: The Sand Raiders

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 09/20/2021 - 11:00


I've run two sessions now of Dark Sun using Forbidden Lands (and the Burning Sands Dark Sun adaptation you can find online). To keep it easy as we were getting used to the system, I decided to run the short adventure in the 4e Dark Sun book.

At the caravanserai of Dur-Taruk, the party (Eowen, Elf Ranger; Insam, Ranger; and Keeb-Raa, Thri-Kreen druid) accept a job from a dwarf factor named Urum ath Wo of the merchant house Zawir. It seems a Zawir caravan arrived with one wagon missing and with it its cargo of grain, wine, and wood. Fifty silver was offered for clear directions to the cargo or its return, and the party is eager for the coin.

The party is able to pick up the trail of the lost wagon and track it to a place it was set upon by saurian silt runners.  In fact, some of the silt runners are still there, and the party engages them in combat, ultimately emerging victorious. The bodies have attracted the attention of a pack of kruthiks. The party has to kill them before they can follow the tracks showing where the silt runners too the cargo. They lead to the ruins of an ancient tower.

Stealthily approaching the tower, the party finds a vault where the silt runners and their leader have taken the cargo and the still-living wagon crew. The leader is a largely reptilian creature who has a dagger coated with some greenish ichor. He doesn't get a chance to use it because Insam puts an arrow through a gap in his carapace and kills him.

In the battle that follows, one silt runner escapes but the others are slain. The party decides the cargo is too much trouble for them to carry back, but they free the crew, and after making camp for the night in the vault, they return to Dur-Taruk in the morning for their payment.

The Tainted Lands & The Vampire Queens of Europe Campaign Set Up Using Old School Resources

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 17:54
 So its been a long while since we've cracked the spines of classic Castles & Crusades & old school supplements with Halloween rolling around the corner. I've been looking into possibly running a Bruce Campbell Vs The Army of Darkness meets Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust hence my grabbing James Ward's Tainted Lands last night. The mists of the Tainted Lands have coming rolling across Middle Ages Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Dwarf Folk of the Wilderness

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 14:30
Art by Jason Sholtis
Another Antediluvian people of the Wilderness are often called names that would translate as some variation of "dwarf." They arrived as the retainers of the First Folk lords who called them simply "the smiths." They were, and often still are, forgers of implements of bronze and iron, and cunning artificers.
They are clearly cousins to mortal humankind, but are shorter in stature, more powerfully built, and courser featured. One of the first human tribes to meet them in the new world called them "hairy ones" in their tongue, a name adopted by later arrivers in a mangled form as goohagatch. These latter folk believed the dwarf people to be cursed to wander, but also protected from harm by the True God. This has not always sparred them violence from their human neighbors, and they have mostly moved away from encroaching settlements.
There are some dwarf folk who have adapted to a greater extent to humans ways, and perhaps even interbred with humans. They are sometimes called "civilized dwarfs" but just as often "petty dwarfs."

[STUFF] Morthimion: The Crypt Level

Beyond Fomalhaut - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 08:49

[Spoiler-free, player-safe section]

MorthimionTwo years have passed since the last update on Morthimion, a dungeon we have been exploring as a side-show to other, larger campaigns. For those who are not blog regulars, or do not want to read up on this stuff, Morthimion came about as an experiment to play Original D&D (reasonably) by the book, three booklets only. Most OD&D games use the followup supplements, or at least Greyhawk, which gives you a slightly rougher, lower-powered proto-AD&D. LBB-only OD&D is not yet that game. It lacks many of the monsters, spells, and classes we would associate with D&D; hit dice and weapon damage are universally 1d6; monster XP is much more generous than it would be later; and ability scores barely do anything. Level advancement can be very quick at the start, but gets quite slow later. Beyond the sheer oddity and archaic charm of it, OD&D hangs together surprisingly well if taken seriously and played by the book. It is not a fantasy novel simulation, it is a verbal tunnel exploration and puzzle-solving game that has simple but effective mechanics for looting labyrinthine subterranean complexes.

Here is where Morthimion stood in August 2019:

“I have also completed Level 3, The Crypts, progressed with the wilderness section, and written brief encounter ideas for some of the sub-levels the characters have discovered in the last two games. These will be explored in the next post, after we have a few more sessions under our belt! Until then… Fight On!”

Well, the games progressed decently until late 2019, when two things happened: the bat plague put our face-to-face games on hold, and after completing another sublevel (The Court), I felt burned out on the dungeons. The campaign was on hiatus, with only one session in 2020. After a long break, I feel like the creative block may be lifting, and Morthimion can return to rotation. Level 4, The Mines, has been drafted and the first draft of the key written; we also held another game yesterday with some quite interesting results.

This post shall summarise what has been going on in Morthimior (Ryth Chronicles-style), and allow me to clear my head by releasing two more levels of the dungeon – which will be found at the end of the post. To protect the innocent (my players surely are), this later section will be spoilered.

* * *

Domains of the Faerie Princes

Older Expeditions

Here are the main events of the Morthimion campaign:

On October 27, 2019, a wilderness expedition was conducted to the northern highlands of the Domains of the Faerie Princes. Not even far from King Donald’s Wall, the company already had to leave behind two horses to distract 5 griffins going for their company. A ruined village in the swamps yielded good bounty – old wine barrels with valuable vintage. Fatalgorthe Footpad (the campaign’s only Thief – transferred from another game, and thus valid) was only saved from spider venom with an antidote. After selling off the barrels at Lodobar’s Tavern, a forest hangout of knaves and miscreants (where Szaniszlo, a light footman, snuck away to seek adventures elsewhere), the group headed for the highlands proper, and right into the nest of two green dragons. Surprised in the dense forest. Renato the horseman, Rudolf the light footman, Owl (Fighting Man 1), El Caballo the torchbearer, Zsazsa the bowman and Fero the heavy footman perished by dragon breath. Turning to flee in bind panic, the others rolled on the Table of Terror. Axbjard Bjardax (Dwarf 2), Hijo de Emirikul (Magic-User 2), Xingar (Fighting Man 2), and Fatalgor (Thief 2) all rolled hilariously badly, and were devoured by the dragons. Tumak the Shaman (Cleric 2) would be the sole survivor, but he would be missing for several weeks, out of the game.

A new company from experienced and newly recruited adventurers was established for a safer dungeon expedition. Premier brought Tycho the Ascetic (Cleric 2 of Law) and Weirlord (Magic-User 1), as well as Chort the torchbearer, Ale the porter, and Montgomery the footman. Narmor took Önund the Mystical (Magic-User 2), joined by Ulf Jr., a footman. Bendoin took Derek (Fighting Man 1), followed by his domineering aunt Dahlia Derekovna (a porter), and his uncle, the bowman Derekov; as well as Alyssa (Elf 1). Gajzi took Bandar (Cleric 3 of Risus, God of Uncontrollable Growth).

Shortly after leaving Lodobar’s Tavern, Derekov was caught and eaten in the forest by a giant frog. Pressing on to Morthimion and descending to Level 1, the company was checking out a set of stairs leading upwards, but triggered a slide trap that dumped them down into Level 3! The way was sealed and the mission changed immediately: escape alive! This section of the level (The Juggernaut Tomb) consisted of looping passages, and rumbling noises soon turned out to be enormous rolling juggernauts, one of which caught Dahlia Derekovna under its wheels, squashing her flat. Passages to the west led to a corridor patrolled by a hydra (wisely avoided), while a northern passage revealed an exit from the juggernauts’ path. Passing by stairs down to Level 4 (not an attractive prospect), the explorers discovered the The Arena of Death, where a group of werewolves appeared out of thin air to fight the challenging PCs. Lacking effective magic, they had to flee back where they came – Montgomery was left dead in one of the rooms after he burned himself to death with his own flaming oil.

The horror, the horror...
Level 3 is discovered!

Back in the Juggernaut Tomb, secret doors in the middle lead to a strange talking enigma calling itself “the Sphere of Infinity”, which demanded a hefty sum for information about finding a way out of the level. Meanwhile, Ulf Jr., exploring a nearby room, was drained and killed by a spectre lurking in a stone statue. and eventually, the southern way opened into a less dangerous dungeon section. An old man demanding 200 gp per character “or suffer the Curse of the Third Depth” was paid by most PCs, except Alyssa and Bandar, who had neither the money nor the intention to pay. Following the words of the Sphere of Infinity, they passed through a network of ghoul-haunted catacombs, and finally found a staircase back to Level 1! To their horror, Alyssa and Bandar now learned the true meaning of the “Curse of the Third Depth”: they could not leave this dungeon level, no matter how they tried! These two adventurers disappeared down in the dungeon, and were never seen again – the others, earning meagre loot but at least keeping their lives, headed upstairs to return to the surface...

On November 30, 2019, a different company probed Morthimion’s depths. Returning to the party came Derek (Fighting Man 1) and his henchman Dolmio the bowman, with Dr. D. (Magic-User 1) and his henchman, Demon (heavy footman); Tycho the Ascetic (Cleric 2 of Law) and Weirlord (now a Magic-User 2) with Ale (porter), Chort (torchbearer), and Rommel (heavy foot). They were joined by two Morthimion veterans, Brother Tivold, Cockroach of the Light (Cleric 3 of Chaos) with his henchman Mario the Peg-Leg, Xang (Fighting Man 2), and Xodak (Hobbit 1). Helmet Buddy (Dwarf 2) also joined the group.

This company opted for a wilderness expedition in the lower parts of the valley. They were soon attacked in the forest by giant frogs, and Mario the Peg-Leg was devoured. Meeting a Gypsy caravan shortly afterwards, they consulted with their leader, Offryn the Outlaw, for a crystal ball reading. This brought to their attention a mysterious stone arch they had already seen near a forest cemetery, somehow connected to “the Prince of Roses”. Unfortunately, seeking out the arch brought no enlightenment, and they instead plundered some of the crypts in the cemetery, recovering modest but not too difficult plunder to a total value of 5900 gp.


Level 2 explorations...

A second expedition led down to Level 2 of the dungeons. Exploring the eastern side of the level, Dr. D. fell into a wandering pit moving along a corridor, and died instantly. Crawlways inhabited by giant weasels were purged and a little treasure recovered. They avoided a mysterious fire temple, and found stairs up to Level 1. Finally, they came to a corridor with arrow slits and a metal door with a small peephole. A panel slid aside, and a pale, dishevelled creature (a morlock) asked about the party’s business. He finally acquiesced to letting them see their king after a bribe. However, instead of opening the door, a pit trap opened underfoot, dumping all in the corridor into a sub-level enclosure. Weirlord narrowly avoided getting killed, while Chort the torchbearer perished with a broken leg. Noises of angry, armed morlocks were approaching from behind a portcullis with long spears and flaming oil, and the only other way was a 20’ wide shaft down.’ Quickly rappelling down, they were again in the Level 3 catacombs. This was at least familiar territory. Backtracking to Level 1, resources were running low, and the company ended up bribing a group of randomly encountered bandits to serve as their escort to the surface. This expedition covered some ground on Level 2, but the pickings were very slim, a mere 305 gp.

On 29 November 2020 (almost exactly one year later!), we reconvened, this time virtually on Roll20. Önund the Mystical (Magic-User 2) and his heavy footmen Jörg and Tade were joined by Mime the Grumbler (Dwarf 1). Tycho the Ascetic (now a Cleric 3 of Law) came with Weirlord (Magic-User 2), who kept Rommel (heavy foot) and Ale the porter. Two new dungeoneers joined the gang: Seogarr (Fighting Man 1) and Astanir (Cleric 1 of Law), who brought the porter Willem and the bowman Marruk.

Travelling through a less trod path of the forest, the company came upon the statue of a bat holding a fist-sized crystal worth 4000 gp! Astanir instructed Willem to fetch the prize, but it soon turned out that the crystal, a cursed chunk of ice, would freeze its thief into an icy statue, and also melt into worthless water in turn.

A new section beyond the Torture Chamber...

Since the company was relatively weak, the expedition was conducted on Level 1. The company soon encountered a company of armoured adventurers, led by Ellominet the Benevolent. Parting on amicable terms, northern passages brought the party to a stone knight guarding an intersection, who demanded five rounds of single combat for passage. Mime the Grumbler rose to the challenge, and defeated the stone hero. To the north, a room complex with a teleporting chest puzzle yielded nice treasure, including a 5000 gp amulet! The company returned to the area close to the entrance. A crumbling wall in the Torture Chamber drew Mime’s attention, and this section proved to be of new construction! An entirely new part of the level was revealed, with meandering passages leading to dead end pits, and powerful quantum ogres that would appear if the party was backed into the corner. To his bad luck, the wounded Mime the Grumbler – this section’s discoverer – perished in one of the pit traps.

The ogres had decent gold, and the search also yielded an old bronze door leading to a mortuary with scattered treasure… but also 12 ghouls. Deciding to leave them be rather than risk a fight after a successful turn attempt, the door was instead spiked shut for a later expedition. The company now headed for the surface, where they soon made an unpleasant discovery: Jörg the heavy footman proved to be a thief looking for a good score, lifting a good deal of valuables from the resting company. Marruk the bowman also called it quits, retiring with his well-earned wages. And so the game stood for ten more months.

* * *

Jewels of the Gnoll King

On 17 September, 2021, we had a guest coming over from the States (Necromancer Games forums regular Kenmckinney, from way back in 2002!). After sightseeing and a lunch, we sat down for an impromptu game of OD&D with the gang.

The party descended into the dungeons of Morthimion, trying to lay siege to the ghoul mortuary. Ken got two second-level characters, Otto (Dwarf 2) and Wulfram (Cleric 2 of Fire, Lawful), with Sven the halberdier. Nubin (Dwarf 3) came all the way from a LBB-only Xyntillan game back in 2019, and he was accompanied by Brother Gaspard (Cleric 1 of Law), as well as a whole troop of four bowmen: Nock, Aim, Draw, and Shoot. Tycho the Ascetic (Cleric 3 of Law) and Weirlord (now a Magic-User 3) returned with more recruits: the halberdiers Bill and Hook. Brother Tivold, Cockroach of the Light (Cleric 3 of Chaos) came alone, for he was so mighty.

The company quickly returned to the Torture Chamber, and set out to construct an elaborate ghoul trap using spikes, rope, and lots of oil. However, as they were hammering the spikes into the wall, the noise attracted a band of ten gnolls, who attacked the party from the rear (in OD&D, these are not yet the later hyena-men, but gnome/troll hybrids – the Morthimion document refers to them as “tromes”). A furious melee developed, and the gnolls (sturdy 2 HD critters) put up a darn good fight, making all their morale rolls and fighting to the last. Sven, the halberdier, went down fighting in the melee.

The canonical OD&D gnoll

Now the gnolls were just a random encounter far from their lair, but I gave a 30% probability of them carrying a level one treasure (that's 100% of 1d6×100 silver pieces, 50% of 1d6×10 gold pieces, 5% each of gemstones or jewellery, and 5% of one magic item – trash loot, basically, because in OD&D, 100 gp is chump change).

So the gnolls had 300 sp among them... 10 gold pieces... but then I rolled that 5% for the jewellery, and they were carrying four of them! Jewels are completely random, and they are the most valuable treasure type, much much muchmore valuable than anything else that’s not a magic item, and small enough to transport easily. I rolled everything in the open, and got a 5000 gp necklace, a 10,000 gp crown, a pair of 1300 gp boots, and a 8000 gp sceptre!The characters had found the guard escorting the crown jewels of the Gnoll King! They basically immediately turned around and left the dungeon, because they could just jump a level each after dividing their 24,300 gp haul, even though it was among seven characters. Two henchmen, Shoot and Bill decided to cash out their wages and retire.

The second expedition was with a more powerful band: Otto, Wulframand Brother Gaspard were now level 3, Nubin was a Level 4 Hero, and Brother Tivold became an Anti-Vicar. To round out the lineup, Trident the halberdier joined Weirlord, while two more halberdiers, Walther and Siegfried joined Otto. Draco (Fighting Man 2 with a Charisma of 3, a regular Quasimodo!) joined the company slightly later.

The trap was finished: three ropes fastened at ankle height over pools of oil, characters feigning escape to lure in the ghouls, and ready torchmen to set the oil puddles ablaze at the first opportunity. The followers were left to hang back, since this was solely a trick for the hardier PCs. The ghouls were ready to fight (they had heard all the hammering outside their lair), and rushed out more suddenly than expected. They were worn down and burned by the oil-and-rope traps, although characters were severely wounded, and Otto, Nubin, Brother Tivold, as well as Draco were paralysed (in OD&D, there is no time limit: I ruled it would last until the end of the expedition). The ghoul band was finally destroyed by turning them into a blazing pool of oil behind them, a dirty trick which was so clever I didn’t even grant a save vs. dragon breath. The mortuary was looted… 1200 gp and a shield +1… no! Examining one of the rotting tapestries on the wall, it was discovered that the back was also embroidered with a treasure map showing a lake in the wilderness, demarcated by forests, a road, and mountains. This would be Silver Lake, a body of water in the Domains which they had passed by numerous times!

With four characters suffering from paralysis, they again headed outside (this short session went without much in the way of exploring new territory)… to run into six very angry gnolls, apparently searching for the jewel thieves! This time, the gnolls were taken out with a sleep spell, except a sole survivor who turned and fled into the darkness, even carrying off a magic arrow Draw had shot at it.

The session ended with a brief wilderness trip to recover the treasure. Riding on horses, the company entered the forests… to immediately run into ten more gnolls, preparing an ambush! This time, Weirlord was ready, and used phantasmal forces to create the illusion of several more horsemen thundering behind them, and the gnolls failed their morale check, disappearing in the woods. The way to Silver Lake was clear, but where was the treasure? Tycho the Ascetic’s speak with animals spell used on 11 friendly giant toads just minding their business among the reeds (the result of a high reaction roll) pinpointed the exact location of one half of a submerged boat, carrying in its hold some 40,000 silver pieces. Thus ended the expedition for The Jewels of the Gnoll King and The Treasure of Silver Lake.

[Here ends the spoiler-free section]

***

[Players wishing to adventure in Castle Morthimion: 

STAY AWAY!]

The Crypt Level / The Court Level

These two levels were both written back in 2019. Of the two, The Crypt Level is a dangerous place, the first one in this dungeon to use the second-level random encounter table from The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures. This ups the threat level considerably, since it goes up to the second highest monster encounter chart, which begins with Trolls and Superheroes, and ends with Hydrae (6-8 heads) and Medusae. Crypts are easy to write, since you can make up any sort of weird puzzle/trap encounter trap and justify it as a “crypt”. So there is a lot of this, as well as a set of ghoul catacombs, the killer Juggernaut Tomb, The Arena of Death, and some encounters which are just dungeony staff to avoid over-theming. I am not entirely satisfied with this level. You be the judge, but I may want to alter the maps slightly to add more horizontal connections crossing the place, which may be as simple as a short secret corridor around 21/d. It is also slightly overkeyed, with not enough breathing room between encounters (I noticed this during the ill-fated escape expedition – the company was constantly running from the frying pan into the fire). This may be harder to fix without compromising the existing layout of the level. Things to ponder.

Then, you have The Court Level, the lair of the wizard Wörramos. You have your standard throne room/reception hall, and you have stairs up from Level 1 for brave souls who want to mess with a powerful and insane magic-user and his critters. This small thing is mapped and keyed as a “special” dungeon, following OD&D ideas about real spaces: it is not realistic, but vaguely reminiscent of someone’s ruined palace quarters. I like the random Wizard determination chart. You can notice there is a southern half to the Grounds. The secret Lycanthrope Level has a handwritten key but no typed version yet, so the next release will probably contain this one – hopefully not two years from now.

And level 4 is taking shape: here is a page of the super-rough notes, written on a long train ride (a good place to design adventures).

The Dwarven Mines: The Very Rough Cut

Download:Castle Morthimion - Levels 1-2-S-3-C (10 MB PDF)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Reviews & Commentary A Groats-worth of Grotesques From The Skull as a Complete Gentleman Co By G. Edward Patterson III For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 09/18/2021 - 20:23
" Being a SYSTEM-AGNOSTIC Role Playing supplemental treatise ON MONSTERS; which is to say a BESTIARY for your Tabletop Games of Fantasy. Styled in the manner of the Baroque Period; a Curiosity Cabinet of Creatures for enlivening the table!""The over 100 entries were gathered out of sundy authors, philosophers, physicians, and poets; sacred and profane. The illustrations are collages of diverse Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Final Cards Have Arrived

The Splintered Realm - Sat, 09/18/2021 - 17:25


It took about two weeks, but the third draft of the deck of Shakespeare Deathmatch came in - and the cards are perfect! I'm so happy with the printing, and I finally banished all of the little layout gremlins that were messing with the cards. I'm going to go through to dot I's and cross T's on the DriveThru site, and the cards should be up for sale in a few hours. I can't wait for people to start playing this game. 

By the way, I recommend the hard plastic box for an extra dollar - totally worth it.

Lost Throne of Talukeld the Broken

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 09/18/2021 - 11:16
By R.P. Davis Kabouter Games 5e Levels 2-4

Talukeld the Broken was a leader of a great horde of warriors who swept in from the West, conquering the Known World. It is said that his throne, made from the bones of his enemies, has manifested numerous magical powers. […]  The King gives the adventurers an ancient, crude map showing the way to Talukeld’s Tomb. No one has been there in generations, so nobody knows what dangers might be encountered along the journey, nor what they might find in the tomb once they arrive. The map has a curious symbol in one corner: a clenched fist holding a short, broad-bladed spear…

This ten page adventure describes, I don’t know, three rooms? It’s trying to do “epic” at level 2, without much in the way of evocative writing … or encounters. And I mean “encounters at all”, which are woefully few. Also, remember, I write these summations, such that it is, AFTER I write the review.

I am an ass. Let’s get that out of the way. Fortunately for everyone else, I know I am an ass and keep it in check in public. In private though … Every time I go in to these things I’m full of joyous anticipation. What wonders shall we see today? There, just over the next hill, is that shining city on a hill under a blue sky. But, at the same time, I am an experienced traveler on this road. The search of meaning in an existence inherently devoid of it can leave one that way. So, now that the initial “Wonder & Joy” has happened I can look at the product description. And see it is 5e and ten pages and a conversion from some other system. This leads to the weary traveller making judgements before cracking the electronic spine: cover page, title page a couple of pages of “epic” backstory and overview, a couple of pages of appendices, lets say three of them, and a credits page. That’s eight pages. In a ten  page adventure. The finally two pages will be the actual adventure and contain … three rooms Yes, i predict three rooms. And there will be undead and animated statues. This then is the prediction of Bryce! 

Epic backstory and setup, eppic backstory, epic setup, army of giants about to pour down on King Asshats kingdom, he sends you get the Bone Throne from some dudes tomb so they can turn the tide of the impending invasion. It’s two weeks away. No word on why no one has done this before. Maybe the giant army plans better and has better leaders than Good King Asshat? Anyway, “no one has been to the omb in generations, and who know what dangers might be encountered along the way?!” says the teaser. This translates to a road running right up to essentially the front of the tomb and, the best part, the journey to the tomb being abstracted to just “make a skill check,” This represents all of the dangers you may have encountered on the way to the tomb. And no resting to regain the abstracted damage you take! If you do then you might not make it back in time to save the kingdom! I mean, there’s no real time table. So … 

Let’s see, let’s do a breakdown of the encounters in this adventure. The skil check on the way to the tomb. Two stone statue guardians at the front door that you can bypass. (Ha! I knew it!) A puzzle in the first room. Then a trapped hallway. Then the main room (Ha! Three rooms! I knew it!) with some cultists you can  bypass. Then a skill check to remove the throne from the tomb. Then a skill check to get the throne back home “losing one day for each failed check, This means that they arrive in the nick of time to save the kingdom from the giants!” *sigh* Look man, I’m all for bypassing encounters. And I certainly don’t think that fighting it the core of D&D. But, hey, how about some tension? A trap that needs a passive perception of 14 to see? Don’t blind people in 5e have a PP of 14? The two bypasses are good, and good design, but there is no inherent danger or tension in any of these encounters. I think I would fall asleep playing this. Yeah, convincing the undead cultists that you need the throne is a good idea. And tricking the statues is a good idea. And then what? It’s not that combat is NEEDED but rather that there must be some kind of tension in an adventure. And this one don’t have that. 

It does have a locked door that knock can’t open, a part of that first rooms puzzle. Bad design, again. The designer has dictated that THIS IS HOW YOU PLAY MY ADVENTURE, and you have no choice but to experience it in the way they want you to. In reality, a wizard memorizing knock no longer has Sleep. The party has made a choice. We will bypass X and potentially make Y harder .This is a meaningful choice. This is agency. Not of which exists when you gimp the party. 

I don’t know what else. There’s a suit of gilded armor that is sure to have the party asking “how much is it it worth” that is never mentioned again. We’re told, as the DM, to make an encounter “frightening” … without any guidance. That’s the goal of the designer. It is to write a description, setting a scene, which will make the players and/or DM think “this is frightening!” You don’t tell, you show. 

Oh, and, the descriptions, boring and poor as they are, lacking any evocative writing, come ass backwards. In one case I’m thinking of, the road to the temple is described AFTER The entrance to the temple is described. It should be obvious why that is bad. It should be, but I know it’s not. 

And yet, I am too full of ennui to elaborate. I’m going to go sulk the rest of the day until tomorrow, when shall return to me dreams of gilded houses in the sky.

This is $4 at DriveThru. You get all ten pages in the preview. Enjoy that.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/367915/Lost-Throne-of-Talukeld-the-Broken–Fifth-Edition?1892600

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First impressions of 'The Adventurers Spellbook' PDF For Castles & Crusades Rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 09/18/2021 - 06:19
 Just recieved my copy of the 'The Adventurers Spellbook' pdf  from Troll Lord Games Kickstarter & my first impressions on the book start now. 'The Adventurers Spellbook'  is massive clocking in at two hundred & fifty eight pages of Castles & Crusades spell goodness. Why is this book so massive?! Well, 'The Adventurers Spellbook' is a compilation of the spells scattered across a number of Castle Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
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Immortality Inc., Eldritch Wizardry, & Godbound rpg 'Its The End of Earth As You Don't Know It' Play Session Report 10

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 09/17/2021 - 18:10
 D&D Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry (1976), by Gary Gygax & Brian Blume, is the third of four supplements for the OD&D game. It was published in May 1976. This book represents one of the backbones of my Godbound campaign that's been on going on & off now for three or so years. The appearance of an immortal of Entropy & Chaos has signaled the possible death kneel of an Earth across space & timeNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
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Weird Revisited: The Black Train is Coming

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 09/16/2021 - 12:25
This is a Weird Adventures related post from 2011. I don't think it made it into the book. I re-read the Manly Wade Wellman story that inspired it yesterday, so it brought it to mind...
“A black train runs some nights at midnight, they say..”

-- Manly Wade Wellman, “The Little Black Train”
Hobo-goblins, human tramps and bindlestiffs, and other Brethren of the Road, tell stories in their camps of a preternatural train that runs from this world to planes beyond. This lore is seldom shared with those outside their communities, but folklore records regular folk having chance encounters with the phantom.

The appearance of the train changes with time. It always appears old, like it has a decade or two of service behind it behind it, but otherwise stays current with locomotive technology and styles. It's not marked in any way, and has been described by observers in paradoxical ways. It’s plain and nondescript, yet powerfully commands intention. Some feel an intense unreality upon seeing it, others the cold hand of fear.

The train starts on mundane tracks, but as soon as it's "out of sight" of its observers it begins to shift into other realms. Some dreamers have seen it crossing the lunar wastes from the vantage of the parapets of the Dream Lord's castle. It is known to make stops in depots in the Hells. Planar travelers have attested to seeing rails that fade into nothingness at the mouth of the gyre at the bottom of reality.

Mostly, it seems carry certain dead to the afterlife, though why it comes for some and not others is unknown. Hell Syndicate snitches know of it, but not who operates it. Angels likewise keep a serene silence. Most who ride the train are dropped off in the waystation realm of the dead, from there to travel on to their souls' final destination.  Some, however, are taken directly to the outer planes. Others seem to ride the train for longer periods of time. They're found snoozing in couch cars, or drinking and playing cards in the dining car. Waiting, perhaps, for something. They’re sometimes inclined to conversation, though they seldom have anything useful to say.

Adventurers have sometimes used the train as a quick ride, either to the Other Side, or the Outer Planes. Hobo-goblin glyphs sometimes point the way to likely places were the train may appear. The train’s gray, nondescript, and seldom seen staff do not object to taking on new passengers, so long as they pay the fare--which varies, but is always in silver.

There's always the option, for those with fare or without, of hopping one of the train’s empty freight cars, but riding an open car through other planes is a dangerous proposition, and the boxcars are only empty of freight--not necessarily other travelers.

The Tournament Adventure That Tested My Limits as a DM

DM David - Thu, 09/16/2021 - 12:09

For tier 2 of my Dungeons & Dragons weekend, I ran Necropolis of the Mailed Fist, billed as a “punishing one-session tournament dungeon designed for four 8th‑level 5th Edition characters.” My group relishes punishing tournament D&D games and once made the annual D&D open championships the center of our gaming year, so the Necropolis seemed tailor made. See Why the awesome Dungeons & Dragons Championship should return.

Necropolis author Sersa Victory specializes in tournament-style deathtraps flavored like the concentrated essence of every graveyard-and-murder-themed heavy metal album cover. The Necropolis delivers. In the first room, one character had his eyes torn out. The adventure includes a creature called a constellation of living spheres of annihilation. For the right audience it works brilliantly, and I ran it for the right crowd.

That said, because every room includes a page or two of connected puzzles, traps, and monsters, I often found running the adventure taxing. As I flipped pages, I sometimes worried that I failed to keep the fast pace needed for maximum engagement. Confession time: I love encounters with more in play than monsters to kill, but this adventure layers so much into every scene that I wished for a bit less. I feel so ashamed. A more measured approach to heaping punishment would have limited the simultaneous moving parts that demand a DM’s attention.

Later in the weekend, when I ran a tier 4 adventure of my own making, I took the lesson to heart and eliminated some complicating elements from an encounter that hardly seemed to need the filigree.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Heroes of Wargaming Games Workshop & Empire of the Petal Throne rpg- More Metamorphosis Alpha rpg - Slow Boat Generational Ships Observations

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 09/16/2021 - 11:41
 Let's return to Empire of the Petal Throne rpg's enemies of mankind, way back in April of 2021 we covered 'Heroes of Wargaming'. And there's an interesting observation from the Hobglobinry blog from 2018 entitled,' The qhal and the Slann. Or: did CJ Cherryh invent the Old World?' Hmmm. No, I don't think she did because of one of the comments of JC; "Tekumel was probably an influence on Lustria Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Design Structure of D&D Basic on One Page A4 ... or is it?

The Disoriented Ranger - Thu, 09/16/2021 - 06:50

Among other things, I'm working on The be67 Supplement. As the name on the tin says, it's not a complete set of rules, which was a difficult decision to make ... Can you play this without knowing D&D Basic or Labyrinth Lord or any of the other clones? I'm not sure. So to be on the safe side, I decided to go with the supplement approach. For that I felt it necessary to give the reader an designer's approach to tinkering with D&D by explaining what all the pieces are and how they work together. What's more, I wanted all that on a double page A5. It's ... a tall order, I guess. Still gave it a shot, and I'm reasonably happy with it. However, I wanted some eyes on this, so here we are. What do you guys think?

Well ... not saying it's not. [source]

Basic D&D and Labyrinth Lord, Quick and Dirty

This is the general overview of the elements that make the game. Knowingthis (and knowing LL or D&D Basic)will help you understand what we did here andwhere we deviate. How that comes together and how it plays will be explained in the subsequentpages of this supplement. So, buckle up.

What kind of game?

Role-playing games, as we understand them in the context of the original game, are about telling fantastic stories with a specific set of rules that allow a group of PLAYERSnarrating setting-specific roles, with the game system and a GAMEMASTER(GM or Labyrinth Lord or Dungeon Master) providing the stage, feedback and rulingsfor their actions. The GM is considered to be the final arbiter in the game.

The interplay between players and GMcreates an ongoing story while the system offers tools to specify and resolve turning points in said story, usually by using an assortment of dice and with the system output shaping the narrative in a way that produces a very specific playing experience.

What kind of playing experience?

System and GM provide SETTING, STAGEand OPTIONShow to interact with all that. Stagemeans a basic set-up what kind of story is offered in the greater context of the setting. Classically, we are speaking of some sort of fantasy world filled with wonder and magic and monsters, with the stage being anything from a town for adventurers exploring dungeons for fame and glory to the chance to play political intrigue on a king’s court. A starting point like that is usually aimed to result in a collection of ADVENTURESthat sums up to what is called a CAMPAIGN.

With the stage set like that, players will chose the CHARACTERS(the “roles”) they want to use to explore their possibilities. This is considered a team effort, as the originalgame doesn’t allow all tools for every role, but instead different facets of the whole for different roles. That distinction is called CLASSES. The classes available are heroes one would expect in the gaming world (or setting), like archetypes of a sort.

To simulate growth for classes, characters collect EXPERIENCE. Experience is a measure of the success the characters have in their adventures and the players’ skill. Experience is collected in points (EXPERIENCE POINTSor XP) and character growth occurs in stages. With reaching a certain point limit, characters gain what is called a LEVEL (they LEVEL-UP). Each level-up comes with certain benefits that give a character more powerful tools to overcome the challenges GM and system are proposing in a campaign.

The core gaming experience, then, is about playing specific characters in an on-goingcampaign while using the tools available to the group to interact with the storyin order to gain XP and levels utilizing dice and wits againstanadjusting and intelligentopposition in form of the GM and the system.

What game tools, then?

The tools available to characters generally are expressed in abstract values andfall into four categories: active, passive, intermediate and special. Active tools interact, passive tools react, intermediate have qualities of both or are derived from the first twoand special is everything else (for instance class-relatedabilities).

The active valuesare called ATTRIBUTESand comprise of the physical (STRENGTH, DEXTERITY, CONSTITUTION)and mental (INTELLIGENCE, WISDOM, CHARISMA)capacities ofa character.

Attributes are expressed in numbers between 3 (low) and 18 (high) and give a basic understanding of how a character measures against other characters or the gaming world. It also shows strengths and weaknesses a character has, with high values giving bonuses and low ones giving penalties (usually range from-4 to +4).

The main passive values are called SAVING THROWS, classically comprisedof BREATH ATTACKS, POISON or DEATH, PETRIFY or PARALYZE, WANDS as well asSPELLS or SPELL-LIKE DEVICES.

They mirror the attributes but map more the gaming world than representing individual characters. Attributes deviate between characters but remain static as the character grows. Saving throwschange depending on class and level but aren’t individualized between characters.

Intermediate tools are HIT POINTS (HP), which give a measure of a character’s life force, ARMOR CLASS (AC), which measures how well a character is protected against harm, and an ATTACK VALUE, which shows the chances a character has to hit successfullyagainst an AC. All intermediate tools are decided by class, change as characters gain levels and are modified by attribute bonuses.

Special tools can be anything from THIEVES SKILLS to SPELLS and MAGIC ITEMS classes or characters might have access to. They are usually very specific and give classes or characters some depth or flavor. DM TOOLS(like MORALE of non-player entities, e.g.) also fall into this last category and differ greatly between between editions and variants.

------------------------

And that's that. If the rules variants and additions in the supplement follow up on this scheme, would the understanding of it (and the original game, of course) add to the reading/playing experience? Is it necessary at all? And is it "complete", as in, did I succeed? Please, help a guy out, if you can :)

------------------------ 

In other news,  you can check out a free preview of the Ø2\\'3|| (that rpg I published) right here (or go and check out the first reviews here). This will be with the general populace for a little while now, but we will do some sales in the near future, of course. If you are in Europe, I'd put this on hold for a bit (wishlist it, or something). OBS still prints in the UK and since that isn't Europe anymore, tolls are mandated. No one needs those extra costs. They are working on the problem, and I'll do a happy sale as soon as they switch printers ...

If you already checked it out, please know that I appreciate you :) It'll certainly help to keep the lights on here ...

Just look at that beauty ...

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