Tabletop Gaming Feeds

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 & timeNeedles
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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 Needles
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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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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Autumn Nocturn - The D&D Rules Cyclopedia (Basic), Nightshift Veterans Supernatural Wars, & The Invisible College rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 09/15/2021 - 18:52
 Over the past twenty four hours or so my brain has been wracked to start putting my mind set in the fact that Autumn is offically starting. Here in the Connecticut Autumn started a lot sooner & its got me in the mind of Horror specifically B/X OSR Horror gaming. And the one book that I turn to frequently here is the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (Basic). This blog post goes back to this one here. If the Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

What Lies Below

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 09/15/2021 - 11:13
By Thom Wilson ThrowiGames Five Torches Deep Level 1

What Lies Below takes characters into a druid’s tomb below a rotten stump. The characters will quickly find that the druids buried within dabbled in magic and enchantments well outside their traditional schools.

This eight page adventure features an eleven room druid lair under a tree stump using five pages. Interactivity is rather basic. I’m going to spend most of the review talking about the ThrowiGames Sensory Descriptive Style format, and it’s failings, and what it means for writing a good description and organizing information for the DM to use.

So, lair under a tree stump. Some earthen cave-type rooms with a few undead and a spider in it.Interactivity is spares, and you’re gonna have to take my word on that, as I want to talk about Evocative Writing and Formatting. In this case, the interrelation between the two. This is the format used in the adventure for rooms. Other rooms mauve have other sense also, like “Taste” or “Sense” or “Exits.”


Area 1: Tree Stump Entrance

A chain around the base of the rotting tree stump drops into a dark hole below.

GM Notes: Although rusty, the chain can support up to 500 pounds of weight.

Quick View: Wide, rotten, hollow stump. 

Detailed View: Rusty, thick-linked chain. Various animal footprints around the hole.

Listen: Air whistles up through the hole below the stump.

Smell: Rotting tree and vegetation.

Secrets: The hole is discovered with a DC 9 check. Exits: A hole below the stump drops over 40 feet.


What we have is an attempt to well describe the room. Laudable, especially bringing in other senses, however I would argue that the formatting fails and that because of that the Evocative nature of the room also fails. Looking at the very first sentence, the chain around the base of the rotting stump … what’s the purpose of that line? Is it read-aloud? If so it may be TOO terse, ignoring such great features as the air whistling up, which should be obvious, and the rotting vegetation line. Is it a general overview of the room for the DMs needs? Then why the extra lines for the whistling and the rotting? 

There’s a Quick view section … how does this differ from the initial opening line? What is it adding that the opening line isn’t? Just repeating data, in the same way that the “Exits” portion is? Listening and Smelling are relatively specific actions. Further, both, in this rooms case, help set the general mood of the room and you, generally, want the players exposed to that mood initially, rather than making them “tease it out” of the DM. (With exceptions for things like a Revelation.) Further, the format, separated on different lines, with things breaking up the relevant sections from each other, takes more time to scan over and grok. When giving the initial room description you’re reading the room title, the initial italics line, the quick view, the listen, the smell, the exits, and probably the GM notes and secrets, all in order to synthesize the description in to something to relate to the players. 

This gets to the issue of being limited by a format instead of being enabled by it. I’ve almost always encountered this in adventure that, as this one does, explicitly has heading information for a variety of topics. Exits, smells, tastes, sounds, door construction material/DC, light in the room, and so on. I get where they are going with this. Light, in particular, is an easy thing to relate to, as something that we generally want to know. But what happens is that these rigorous formats begin to take over. They become the focus rather than the room and the DM running it, being the focus, even though they are supposed to be enabling that. In the end we see that the rigorous adoption and devotion to the format creates a room description that is less useful than the sum of its parts. Whatever effect a dotting hole in the ground, a rotting tree stump, wind whistling through the hole, might have had, it’s lost when you separate them out like this.I strongly believe that there is no one true way to write a description, but I do know that this isn’t it.

Also, when you approach the tree stump, entrance to the druid lair, you are attacked by four halfling thieves, life-long “Protectors of the Druids Lair.” WTF is up with this? Is has absolutely no theming with the rest of the dungeon, in any way. Another party, or bandits camped above, or something would have fit in better and made mode sense.

This is $1 at DriveThru. El Senor Preview is four pages, more than enough to get a sense of the room encounters, for format and interactivity.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

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

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 09/15/2021 - 11:00
I'm reading DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, I'm continuing my look at the comics at newsstands on the week of September 11, 1980. 

G.I. Combat #224:There are two Kanigher and Glanzman/Ayers Haunted Tank stories, as usual. In the first, the tank's crew must out think a German Panzer while on loan to the British Army in North Africa. As is often the case, the crew is mistrustful of their commander, Jeb, but he saves them in the end. In the second story, U.S. tanks keep disappearing in a secluded valley that was the site of a battle in WWI. The Haunted Tank is the last to go in, and they find themselves assaulted by poison gas. Thinking quickly, they escape and discover a WWI German unit has been improbably hiding and defending this valley since the last war ended. "You can't cheat death twice," as the title says, and these Germans and done in by the Haunted Tank team. 
"Reward for A Traitor" by Kashdan and Bercasio is a cautionary tale about trusting colonial powers if you're an indigenous person.  The son of a Pacific Island chief makes that mistake with the Japanese and gets put to work in a mine for his trouble. The O.S.S. story by Kanigher and LeRose has spies making a heroic sacrifice for the war effort, which is how these stories always go. Different here is that Control can't make the decision to shoot down their plane, even if not doing so reveals to the Germans their plans. He seems much more "all about the mission" in previous stories. The next story by Douglas and Evans is an appreciation of parachute fitters and is refreshing to the extent that its protagonist wants to be as far away from combat as possible at the end of the story, despite his heroism. The next story by Wessler and Bercasio is a short, bleak tale of a unit's practical joker who, despite being a thorn in his sergeant's side, jumps on a grenade to save him, thereby playing the ultimate joke: leaving the others "stuck with the whole lousy war."

Justice League of America #185: Conway and Perez's New Gods arc comes to an end. It's good JLA/JSA team-up storytelling, with the different sub-teams coming together in the end. Highlights include Batman and Mister Miracle comparing escape artist notes, and Wonder Woman and Big Barda tag teaming against Granny Goodness. In the end, the energy meant to destroy Earth-2 is redirected to strike Darkseid instead. Perez draws an off-model Darkseid this entire issue, but that quibble aside, I feel like this three-parter has been the best of Conway's run I've reviewed so far.

New Teen Titans #2: This issue continues to move at a pretty fast pace. Starfire doesn't yet know how to speak English (she learns it here, by kissing Robin), so how were they a functional team? Anyway,  The H.I.V.E. tries to hire Deathstroke (I didn't realize he had that name from the beginning) to take them down, but the Terminator refuses, so they decide to make their own. They get a volunteer in the form of Grant Wilson, a neighbor of the Titans who Starfire stopped from committing domestic violence. He becomes the Ravager and attacks the Titans with Terminator's reluctant help while they are Claremont X-Mening it in a fan service, pool frolic. The defeated Ravager ages pretty quick from pushing his power and dies. Deathstroke attends his burial and reveals he is Grant Wilson's father. He takes the H.I.V.E. job as revenge against the Titans, which seems to be what H.I.V.E. planned all along. 
This title doesn't yet have the character drama that would be a big part of why the Wolfman/Perez run is often praised, but it is definitely different from the other DC supers offerings (even ones written by Wolfman).

Secrets of Haunted House #31: This issue features the debut of Mister E in a tale by Rozakis and Harris. He'll become a bigger deal in the Vertigo 90s. Right now, he's just a blind guy who's been stalking a vampire who's been committing murders, but he's is easily stymied by a blow to the head by the vampire's immigrant, ingenue housekeeper. Luckily, she realizes her mistake and stakes the vampire herself, otherwise this would have been Mister E's last appearance.
In "Short Road to Damnation" by Drake and Henson, a nebbish, height-challenged secretary steals a pair of Napoleon's boots and suddenly becomes a proactive and commanding guy, which includes committing two murders. The boots that gave him the ability also prove his undoing as they link him to the crime scenes, as discovered by a Detective Leba, whose name is of course an anagram for Elba. A story by Kashdan and Brozowski rounds out the issue with an escaped convict happening upon a scientist's laboratory in a swamp. The scientist is working on an antidote to the "death factor" that causes cells to die and potentially could provide immortality. The criminal takes the antidote before the scientist can explain fully and kills him in a scuffle. The criminal's caught, but he doesn't die from his gunshot wounds, and he can't be executed. Every potentially mortal wound ages him at a faster rate, however. The antidote to death was senility (though the story calls this factor "morbidity.") We end in the future time of 1999, with the criminal locked away in a futuristic prison, a wizened husk.

Superman #354: Another Silver Age-y "mystery" plot from Bates, but again a not uninteresting one. Superman takes down a group of high flying thieves led by a Mr. Alpha, who winds up escaping into the sewers, which happens to put him a good place to hear about the origins of a suit of powered armor found in the Egyptian desert. Clark Kent is there too, having responded to an invitation from senior archeologist, Thalia Tate. Tate presents the young man who was wearing the armor who claims to be a time travel from a highly advanced, prehistoric civilization. He and his beloved were separated by a time storm--and he thinks Tate's assistant Susan is actually his long lost Myyla. Supporting his story is that Susan looks like Myyla and is wearing an identical amulet to his. When she removes it, she's no longer speaking English. Susan needs some time to sort this out, but Mr. Alpha kidnaps her, forcing the visitor from the past to get in his armor and fight Superman or else.  Superman manages to keep his attacker at bay long enough to located Alpha and free Susan. He's also figured out what's really going on. It's Tate that is really the visitor from another time. Separated in the time storm, she and her beloved arrived in the future decades apart. Not wanting her beloved to have to be with an old woman, she chose an assistant that looked a lot like the younger her, did some hypnosis, gave her the amulet, etc. The truth revealed, they return to their own time with Superman's help, and Thalia/Myyla is restored to youth in the process.
The backup story is about the Superman of 2020, the grandson of the original. That has some interesting implications for when Bates thinks the first Superman's adventures take place (if it's 1980 as in the first story, you'd think Superman would have to be having his kid pretty soon), and possibly for the expected duration of heroic careers. His future is brighter than our present: 3 supermen, and no pandemic.

Wonder Woman #273: This is the first appearance of the second Cheetah, courtesy of Conway and Delbo. Wonder Woman responds to a oil tanker accident and meets a group of environmental activists led by a young woman in a bikini and a captain's hat who happens to have access to a yacht. She's Debi Domaine. After Wonder Woman gets a shower and the yacht returns to dock, Debi gets a letter from the aunt who raised her who is apparently on her death bed. Wonder Woman heads off to work and some sitcom antics as she makes dates as Diana Prince and Wonder Woman for the same evening. Debi visits her dying aunt and discovers she was once the costumed criminal, the Cheetah, and then is captured by Kobra agents. While Wonder Woman puts on her disco cape and heads out on her date, Debi is subjected to the Clockwork Orange treatment, mentally conditioning her with images of environmental devastation. She emerges as the Cheetah in an outfit similar to her aunt's except with a deep-V neck and high-heels, and is ready to become an environmental terrorist for Kobra!
 In the Huntress back-up by Levitz and Staton, Power-girl threatens the DA over a new anti-superhero vigilante rule in Gotham, which really sort of makes his point for him, I think. Huntress shows up to intervene. She and Power-Girl go to chat, and she reveals to her friend that she's been dating the DA. Meanwhile, we discover that the Thinker is behind the DA's actions, because who could be against costumed vigilantes but a super-villain, right? In the end, a sudden crimewave breaks out in Gotham at the Thinker's command.

World's Finest Comics #266: Burkett and Buckler provide the Batman/Superman story where they tangle with the new super-villain, Lady Lunar who attacks a STAR Labs moon exhibit. She is actually a double bit of continuity referencing. She has the same powers (and origin basically) as Moon Man from World's Finest #98 in 1958 (in fact, this issue is the last appearance of Moon Man's alter ego), and she turns out to be an astronaut trainee from Wonder Woman's stint as an astronaut back in 1979. The Haney/von Eeden Green Arrow story is goofy, but charming. Editor George Taylor is sure Oliver Queen is Green Arrow, so he challenges him to 48 hours of flagpole sitting for charity, convinced that Queen will be unable to meet his column deadlines. With the help of Dinah send him stories via Morse code and what not, Ollie keeps writing his stories and sending them to Dinah via arrows right under Taylor's watchful eyes. 
The Red Tornado story be DeMatteis and Delbo has RT looking for an apartment and almost getting stabbed by a 13 year-old girl who's high on...something. He takes an interest in helping the girl and saves her from falling off a building, which finally gets her mother to recognize the severity of the situation. All, the time T.O. Morrow is watching. The Rozakis/Landgraf Hawkman story "Something Sinister in Sewer Seven" has the best title of the issue. The something or somethings are giant, mutant bugs. The main conflict is city bureaucrats trying to cover it up. Birdwell and Newton unleash a space armada of ships shaped like Dr. Sivana's head on Captain Marvel. This comes after Sivana and IBAC go planet to planet and have IBAC beat up planetary despots until they declare Sivana their ruler. Meanwhile, Mr. Mind intends to side with Sivana only until he has the opportunity to destroy him. I continue to enjoy this updated "Monster Society of Evil" saga.

Don't Touch That Dial - Neon Lords of the Toxic Wasteland rpg - 'The Carcosa Slaughter Tour ' Session report one

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 09/14/2021 - 17:39
 The group of adventurers were looking long & low in the tooth. Even Skuzz the neon mohawked mutie  warrior  was looking a bit haphazardly. The party of adventurers had been fighting almost none stop for three days across the wasteland. Narrowly escaping several cults that wanted to sacrifice them to alien gods and god knows what else. St. Stallone the cyborg knight was getting a bit fried. 'Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Why Does Rime of the Frostmaiden Have Just One Magic Weapon?

DM David - Tue, 09/14/2021 - 12:15

Spoilers for magic items in Rime of the Frostmaiden.

As written, Rime of the Frostmaiden includes a typical number of magic items, but only one useful magic weapon, a +2 trident. That count excludes the Berserker Axe, which attaches a harsh curse, and 6 laser rifles, which I don’t count as magic. Some players will relish letting their rogues and rangers become raygun-blasting snipers, but many players, including those with greatsword-wielding barbarians, may not fancy where a laser rifle steers their character.

Dunegon masters can change the adventure’s loot to fit their players, and you, I, and the designers all know it. Surely though, the lack of magic weapons comes by design, from a choice the authors made because they felt it enhanced the adventure.

What motivated this choice?

The stinginess reinforces the scarcity and struggle that sets the adventure’s early tone. ThinkDM writes, “It’s meant to convey desolation at the surface level of Icewind Dale, literally and figuratively. This sets a contrast to the high magic stuff happening later in the adventure.”

The adventure mainly avoids granting magic items that only suit a particular class or character, favoring wondrous items, protective items, and even a wand of magic missiles that any character can use. This avoids the awkward moment when the party finds a +2 longsword even though everyone wants a rapier. (DM hint: When you announce the find to that party, pronounce “longsword” as “rapier.”)

D&D’s fifth edition design aims to play fine without magic items, but a lack of magic weapons weakens fighters, rangers, and rogues against creatures resistant to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from non-magical attacks. Every character suffers moments like when the fireball-blasting sorcerer enters the forge of salamanders. However, the game makes creatures resistant to non-magic weapons common enough to lead the designers to give monks and druids fist and claw attacks that count as magic. The D&D Adventurers League gives out magic weapons to any fifth-level character who wants one. This avoids both penalizing the classes that need them and the awkward moments when a group finds the wrong type of magic sword.

In Frostmaiden, a certain infestation of vampires could overwhelm a party without magic weapons. At best, that barbarian spends a night feeling ineffective. Hope you found a laser rifle.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Adapted From Godzilla The Series Season One Episode ' Freeze ' For Cepheus Atom & Those Old School 2d6 Science Fantasy Role Playing Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 09/14/2021 - 06:27
 First discovered by the Nazi Anartica expediation of 1938 when they established contact with several alien species in the polar regions. And they also discovered the Ice borers a species of mutated Kuiju mole rats with very specia mutations. The ice borer species uses a specialized organ on the top of their heads to rapidly heat the surrounding air & burrow through the ice, snow, and slush of Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Empire of the Petal Throne rpg & Metamorphosis Alpha rpg - From Ares Section Dragon issue #101 'The Man Machines of Gamma World' By James Ward & Rudy Raupp

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 09/13/2021 - 20:16
" I have never written an MA adventure like this one before. In the fourth version of the MA rules I presented a storyline where the ship runs into an invisible asteroid filled with mushroom and crystal life forms. That storyline has always needed a transition piece that ties the starship Warden into the asteroid. This is that adventure. Take any of your characters from pure strain humans to Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Here’s the A5E Tarrasque!

Blog of Holding - Mon, 09/13/2021 - 18:04

I want to show you the biggest, toughest monster in the Advanced 5E Monstrous Menagerie: the tarrasque.

The original 5E (O5E) tarrasque is – maybe not a pushover – but vulnerable against fairly low-level parties, especially compared to the tarrasque of earlier editions. For instance, since it has no regeneration and no ranged attack, it can be soloed by a level 1 aarakocra cleric with Sacred Flame. Silly exploits aside, I just don’t think it has a chance of standing up to an optimized level 20 party… and if the tarrasque can’t, no one can.

Enter the Monstrous Menagerie tarrasque.

Click to expand



Click to expand

I’m hoping this is the definitive 5e tarrasque.

The MoMe tarrasque is elite, which is a mythic-like class of monster in the MoMe which is as hard to defeat as two monsters of its Challenge Rating – in other words, as tough as two standard O5e tarrasques. According to my much more ambitious encounter calculations (which are also in the Monstrous Menagerie), this is just at the edge of what a level 20 party can accomplish. If you can trivially beat this tarrasque at lower level, I’d like to hear about it!

This tarrasque is designed to be a two-stage fight – where the second stage is optional.

Stage one is fairly similar to fighting the original tarrasque. It’s a bit tougher than the original – for instance, it has a recharge 5-6 Godzilla-like breath weapon that can drop many characters in one hit (though that’s not usually a problem at level 20), and it has an ability that allows it to knock flying creatures in a 300-foot radius out of the sky, including that pesky level 1 aarakocra cleric.

Once you’ve dealt around 600 points of damage – around the same as the O5E tarrasque’s hit points – the tarrasque has had enough. It turns around and retreats. You’ve saved the city and won the day!

Here’s where you can choose to make things harder on yourself. If you try to finish off the tarrasque while it’s wounded, you enter Stage 2 of the battle. And remember, you brought this on yourself.

In stage 2:
-It has another 600 hit points.
-It regenerates 50 points a round.
-That breath weapon that the tarrasque could use instead of its regular attacks, if it rolled a 5-6? It can now do every turn, along with its other attacks.
-It can only be killed by the use of a wish spell while it’s at 0 hit points.

In other words, defeating a tarrasque is still within the realm of possibility for, say, a well-equipped group of 16th level characters. Killing the beast is very much a stretch goal.

Speaking of stretch goals: You can get the Monstrous Menagerie via the A5e Kickstarter! Sign up for it now.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Mail Call & Quick Review of Zozer Games Hostile Setting Book Redesign

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 09/13/2021 - 17:16
Things are up to Lulu's usual packing standards & that right there pisses me off but fortunately we're not in the New England Winter weather.. yet. Say what you want about Troll Lord Games but they package their stuff right. The revised  Hostile rpg setting book arrived from Lulu & its glorious colour. This is a from the ground up redesign & it shows in the product. The graphics are great, the Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 09/13/2021 - 11:19
By N. Masyk Monkey's Paw Games OSR Level ?

“Hail, Agkaman! Hail, the conquering hero! Hail, slayer of accursed serpents! A giant is he; panoply of burnished gold, so heavy that three men together would be buried by the immensity of its weight! A warrior is he; his sword so broad that held aloft it blots out both suns! Hail, the Agkaman, who scoured these lands of the hated snake-kin and took from them their glittering hoard, now the wealth and power of Evech! Hail, the Satrap! Hail the Golden King!”


This nineteen page digest “adventure” contains a two page dungeon with ten rooms and some fluff for a city and the surrounding hexes. It falls in to the category of “Yet another inspiration product masquerading as an adventure.” There’s not much here more than picking a Dungeon Dozen table or two. Excellent marketing here. Nice cover and a teaser description that draws me in and hooks me for $5. 

So, some city, with four surrounding hexes. One of the hexes gets the description “River; once clear and cool, winding lazily through the lowlands. Now, dammed near to the fortress to provide better irrigation for Agkaman’s crops. Frequently patrolled by riders.” The others are like that. Ok, get inspired and run your game! The city gets the same amount of detail, for this is just a collection of tables with no real meat anywhere. The two page dungeon (one for the map and one for the ten encounters) falls in to the “more of the same” category for descriptions. A symmetrical map (Ug! Fuck that shit!) and then descriptions like “Entry Hall: d6 gold-armoured knights patrol here at all hours.” or “Wine cellar: Den of the elusive wine vampire.” There’s nothing fucking here. The encounters show promise, in the abstract, but without fleshing them out and making them work together it’s just the results of a random computerized encounter table. “Hey, here’s four words about something freaky.” 

I shall, however, use this as an example of of gameable content for about half the table entries Do have some sort of gameable content … if they were present somewhere else and strung together in a meaningful way. Maybe a third of the tables in this are more than just trivia.

Trivia vs gameable content. What is that? I’m sure we’ve all encountered long and detailed descriptions of a vendors physical appearance and their backstory. This is almost always trivia. Having blue or green eyes is unlikely to drive any meaningful interaction in the game. Gameable content, though, will lead to something in the game. It doesn’t have to be something serious, but it will be something that sticks more than green/blue eyes. 

Let’s look at the wanderers table in this, which might more accurately be called the “Hirelings” table. We get a sentence for appearance. Ok. We get a sentence for equipment. Ok. And then we get the zinger, something that solidifies the NPC. “Haunted by the memories of a past life.” or “Hunting a vampire that slew their mentor” or “Blames the gods for every misfortune.” This is the sort of specificity that really can bring a game alive. 

The wandering creature table has hunters tracking a herd for three days, or nomads contemptuous of roof-dwellers. While interesting, they don’t actually LEAD to anything other than a conversation. We’re at a kind of middle-ground. While the NPC details spices them up, the encounter detail needs to drive TOWARDS something. It needs potential energy. Treasure falls in to the same category as the NPC’s. It exists and a purpose in the game (for the hirelinings, stabbing shit) and the extra spice can be more static. “Pristine serpent scale, solid gold & incredibly heavy.” or “Gilded canopic jars, filled to the brim with naphtha.” One merchant in town is an alive merchant … with nothing else, while a Traveller is looking for a fight and doesn’t care with who. You can feel the energy in one and know how to use it, while the other just IS. What’s the point of the olive merchant? Why write it up? It’s not adding anything to the game. 

This is $5 at DriveThru. The preview is fifteen pages. It’s enough to get a sense of the mixed-bag of content. Just know that it’s ALL like that.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Fire and the Void

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 09/13/2021 - 11:00

Our Land of Azurth game continued last night with the party in the midst of exploring the strange, ruined temple beneath the Crooked Hills. The party ran afoul of a group of skeletons that they quickly dispatched. They avoided a pit trap where they also found another strange item--a vial of silvery liquid. They were disappointed to find it wasn't magical.

They came to a room with a relief of a muscular, bearded man holding a scorched brazier. The group tried burning something in it and a secret door opened. On the other side was a room with a large oven with a roaring flame inside. They discovered the flame was a fire elemental who suggested it needed to be bribed to allow them to pass through to the run beyond the oven. Dagmar gave it gold pieces, which it melt in its flames. Then it parted like a curtain to allow them to pass.

On the other said was a wide, shallow bowl with a whirling void on the inside. As the party began to investigate, a group of the sleepwalkers came in. They largely appeared to ignore the party as one took a couple of items the party took to be trinkets and dropped them into the void where they disappear. When that was done, he extended a hand expectantly to the party.

They decided to give him a trinket to see what happened. He took it and put it in the void. They kept giving him the trinkets they had, even the newly acquired silvery vial, and they all disappeared. The sleepwalkers turned and left.

When they were gone, the party investigated the room further. Waylon figured out that the void was only an illusion. Items dropped into it went down a passage. Erekose found a secret lever to open a secret door. What they found, down a short passage, was essentially a glorified closet with a number of trinkets and other items that had been dropped into the void.

Mindful of the townsfolk's warning about the trinkets exploding, they cautiously experiment with putting groups of them together in the same place, but nothing seemed to happen. Eventually, they divided up the nonbroken items and took them with them.

OSR Review & Commentary On Stars Without Number Rpg - Dresdner Multipurpose Corvette For Your Old School Science Fiction Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 09/13/2021 - 03:23
 ANGRY GOLEM GAMES has been providing star ships & sci fi rpg supplies for a number of years including the latest one that we'll be covering the Dresdner Multipurpose Corvette. This is three level starship with NPC's, adventure seeds, & more. So for my own 'After The Fall of Mankind' campaign I've been looking for other OSR resources. This brings up  the Dresdner Multipurpose Corvette which is a Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[REVIEW] Temple of 1000 Swords

Beyond Fomalhaut - Sun, 09/12/2021 - 19:33

Temple of 1000 SwordsTemple of 1000 Swords (2021)

by Brad Kerr


3rd level

Temple of 1000 Swords is a 24-page dungeon adventure with 19 keyed locations, and a heavy sword theme. How heavy? More swords than you can stake a stick at, and that’s a sword-shaped stick with another hidden sword in it. The temple of Gladio, God of Swords, is overflowing with a myriad swords; they have been collected into enormous piles and mounts, swept to the sides of the corridors, flung into watery caverns, and just scattered here and there. Furthermore, as seen on the cover, parts of it are based on the tarot; and if that would not be enough, the temple dungeon is split between two rival factions, a band of mermenfolk and the platypus-based humanoid drukks fighting their age-old battle through the temple corridors. There is a strong weirdo energy to the module; it is absurd, but it is a working absurdity, just on the dividing line between the plausible and the ludicrous. It is wickedly funny.

Most everything is smooth and polished. Brad Kerr understands adventure writing. The booklet is finely balanced between the utilitarian and the flavourful. Information is placed at your fingertips; cross-references are impeccable, and there are helpful notes to help you understand and run the scenario. “Accessibility” is sometimes overdone (this seems to be a problem with official Old School Essential modules), but here, it is just right.

And the content is strong. Random encounters introduce interesting variations on the “it attacks” theme: a gelatinous cube full of swords, a “tumble-weed” of amassed swords rolling towards the party, or the aftermath of a bloody battle. There is a special magic sword broken into nine parts (appropriately called “The Nine of Swords”) to track down and reassemble. Above all, a 1d100 table of weird swords you can find if the party starts searching random sword piles for something interesting. Since Gladio can turn anything into a sword, this could be anything, including (taking five random rolls) a tin sword, a scissors sword, a star-shaped triple sword, a fishing rod sword, or a ceramic sword. This strange table is the sort of thing in a module that takes up relatively little real estate, but like Tegel Manor’s portrait gallery, adds an entire new layer to the exploration process.

The temple rooms are populated by two interesting factions of utter idiots. The drukks are bloody, short-tempered platypus-man brutes. The mermaid queen is an unhinged, vainglorious fool who offers to marry anyone who can bets her in combat. This is a great way to encourage player initiative: make the enemies dangerous, but with wide open flaws to be exploited and turned to your advantage. Elsewhere, there are ample opportunities for strange discoveries and interacting with dungeon denizens, including the dead, the damned, and a living god who is surely played by Brian Blessed, and whose “sole concern is that people kill each other with swords.” Gladio is a dick, and he is great.

Not quite the Temple of
1000 Corridors, is it.The whole module is a riot, and a springboard for further adventures. All good. Except... Why does an otherwise excellent module I have only praised so far receive three stars instead of an upper four? There is a flaw running through the scenario, and this flaw is the map. Yes, it is a map with multiple branching routes, interesting secret passages, and water (an under-utilised feature). But it is too small for what it is trying to do; basically a central dungeon loop with minor appendages attached to it. There are consequences. The random encounters make little sense, because it is a small, compressed space which is all keyed and populated with encounters. There is insufficient room for the random critters to come from, to retreat to, or to ambush a surprised group. There are two factions who have supposedly been waging bloody war against each other for several years, but these are pipsqueak groups (4d6+3 mermen vs. some 3d4+6 drukks altogether), and they live right across each other with only a corridor to separate them. Some battleground! Imagine Red Nails playing out in a small college dorm, and you get the idea:

“’Aye, she went willingly enough. Tolkemec, to spite Xotalanc, aided Tecuhltli. Xotalanc demanded that she be given back to him, and the council of the tribe decided that the matter should be left to the woman. She chose to remain with Tecuhltli. In wrath Xotalanc sought to take her back by force, and the retainers of the brothers came to blows in the Great Hall. There was much bitterness. Blood was shed on both sides. The quarrel became a feud, the feud an open war. From the welter three factions emerged – Tecuhltli, Xotalanc, and Tolkemec. Already, in the days of peace, they had divided the city between them.’

‘And where might these men be found’, growled the Cimmerian with his mouth full.

‘See that door on the left, barbarian? That 30’ by 20’ chamber be Xotalanc territory. And that 10’ by 10’ storage closet yonder, there dwells Tolkemec, the Dark Shadow! Beware his coming!’”

It lacks a certain oomph, don’t you think?

What Temple of 1000 Swords needs is room to breathe, to have grandiose empty halls and convoluted corridors separating its 19 main encounter areas. It needs to be a real dungeon in the old-school sense. Consider the following: if you extended the map to about three or four times the size, made it much more maze-like, and inserted 30-40 empty rooms, meandering hallways, chokepoints, bypasses,  and secret passages, now you would have something. You could have drukk and merman factions with reserves of 50-70 warriors each, duking it out. You could have long stretches of space where random encounters can happen. You could have a general dungeon texture to be navigated and where discovering a “special” area is a meaningful find. Let the sword generation / random encounter table take care of the rest! And you could have room for a range of player decisions. Now that would be a kickass module (and if you redraw the map yourself, it will be).

Temple of 1000 Swords is an absurd idea taken to its logical conclusions, an inspired shitpost in module form. I find it genuinely funny, and mostly well done, but the map is a letdown. This problem is, of course, a malaise: 5e and other modern editions feature so small dungeons that vast underground spaces are a forgotten art even in old-school gaming. The use of empty spaces, especially, is under-utilised. (Yes, I am as guilty of overkeying my dungeons as other people.) Nevertheless, the point stands: the map matters, and here, Temple of 1000 Swords could use much, much improvement.

This module credits its playtesters, and has a nice special thanks section to boot. Classy!

Rating: *** / *****

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Expanding Horizons - Using X6 Quadmire by Merle M. Rasmussen To Expand Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 09/12/2021 - 06:22
 If you've been following last blog entry here  Then you know about the fact that our heroes have stumbled upon a world where the remains of a post apocalyptic  Florida hold  the Minrothad Guilds  Bruce Nesmith's X7 The War Rafts of Kron. But what you night not know is the fact that the seas surrounding the X7 are actually the seas of Dread. That's right those Seas of Dread from X1 Isle of Dread.Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Expedition To The Deep Session Report #2 - The Free Gamma World Adventure GW5 'Rapture From the Deep' & X7 The War Rafts of Kron by Bruce Nesmith With The Castles & Crusades Rpg Aligned With The Star Ship Warden Rpg book

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 09/11/2021 - 18:57
 If you've been reading our recent brush with GW5 Rapture of the Deep. 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. The party isn't quite ready to tackle the underwater ruins & the cryptic alliance responsible Needles
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