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At Any Price - - Paul Elliot's Zaibatu rpg & Postcards from Avalidad by Miguel Ribeiro, & Manuel Souza Combined

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 10/04/2021 - 06:08
 “There are no innocent bystanders ... what are they doing there in the first place?”― William S. Burroughs, Exterminator!Yes, what are they doing there in the first place?!  Let's pick it right up from the other day on the blog.  Who are the party in the first place?!  If their agents of the powers from Postcards from Avalidad by Miguel Ribeiro, &  Manuel Souza combining it with Zozer Games Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

1545

Looking For Group - Mon, 10/04/2021 - 04:00

The post 1545 appeared first on Looking For Group.

Categories: Web Comics

Things of the Moon - James Ward's Tainted Lands & Cultclassic Eighties Movie Mixed With A1 Assault on Blacktooth Ridge By Davis Chenault - More Thoughts On Horror Campaigns In The Tainted Lands

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 10/04/2021 - 03:21
  “This madness is no longer contained in the Tainted Lands. It spreads, filling the empty places around it with the dread of horror, polluting the world one small step at a time.”"Upon the far slopes of the Turmberg Mountains, where the northern shores of Lake Vanhir lap the Plains of Cos lie the fog-enshrouded Tainted Lands. In the Days before Days hosts of dark hearted Val-Ehrakun settled hereNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Doctor Who Chronicles: 1983

Blogtor Who - Sun, 10/03/2021 - 10:03

The makers of Doctor Who Magazine present a new 116-page bookazine about the show’s Twentieth Anniversary year – 1983! Arguably, few years stand out in Doctor Who history more than 1983. The show’s 20th anniversary was a milestone in an era when few series had achieved such longevity. More than that, it was a celebration […]

The post Doctor Who Chronicles: 1983 appeared first on Blogtor Who.

Categories: Doctor Who Feeds

Still Here But Retired

Furiously Eclectic People - Sat, 10/02/2021 - 23:47

Just stopped by to say I'm still here.

My games of Hackmaster died out when covid hit 18 months ago.

However since the beginning of Summer I have been running games at the same brick and mortar store.

Last game we ran was a play test of "Escape from Kabul" I'm designing for the Simulation & Wargaming folks. (They actually get paid for that kind of job.)

Otherwise I'm in retirement.

I put an old server in my garage and it runs old text games at

empire.game-host.org

BT
Tracy Johnson

NNNN

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Categories: Miscellaneous Blogs

The Monkey Business Ruin Generator in Action (Part 1: Basic Results & 1st Area)

The Disoriented Ranger - Sat, 10/02/2021 - 17:33

So a good friend of mine recently informed me that the Ruin Generator I provided in Monkey Business (that OSR module I wrote) had no merit at all. The results were too vanilla and for the time you'd spend using it, nothing of value would be produced. He admitted, though, that this judgement was superficial and only based on his read-through, not on actually testing it. Fair enough. I value his observations a great deal, so I should pay attention. If my description of it wasn't enough to inspire him to use it, I'd go as far as agreeing that I failed to make him use it. That doesn't mean, however, that the tool doesn't have merit, it means I failed to make my case properly. This series of post will try to rectify that (this is going to be a big one, so I decided to go with two parts or more here).

Presumptions 1: Can Complex Environments be Randomized?

DMs using the tools provided will create a huge jungle sandbox from scratch, including factions, villages, treasure and ruins as well as having an idea how those interact. It is a tall order and people seem to mostly find it all usefull. Treasure got some heat, but I make my case about that in the post linked above ... in short, I believe the treasure generator gives a DM a shitload of information to build on while IMPROVISING treasure on the fly, even creating quest items (among of lots of other things). Test it in specific gaming situations (it needs the context of the game to build on) then tell me it doesn't work and, more importantly, why.

Anyway. The Ruin Generator got no love at all and was deemed to baroque to be even used. I mean, it definitely is high concept and not using it will have you missing out (imo), but not hinder you from using the module at all. It is just (and here's why I even bothered to write it) that a DM will create 19 hex fields with each containing an average of 3 ruins, some of them small (not so much work), some of them huge (that'd be modules in themselves, actually).

You don't have to have all of them prepared (players will only explore one hex at a time ...), but you'd be well advised to have the hex prepared the characters are in and the adjacent hexes as well. Starting at the border of the hex map would mean you'd have some concepts for round about 12 ruins ready enough for the characters to explore on a whim. Looky here (from the module):

Open in new tab for details ...

Now, either way you prepare for that will be lots of work, because that's just what it is. You sure can have some maps handy or some other product or even some random online generator to help you through this, but you will not get around preparing all of that. At the least you'll have to adjust what you get to your game.

The problem is, obviously, the level of detail players will expect when exploring ruins or a dungeon. It can barely be handwaved (if at all) and it'll have lots of moving pieces in the air as the players gather information about structure and inhabitants and how to work that to their benefit.

My design goal for the ruin generator had been to have a system easy enough to complete in a couple of steps, but with complex enough results to allow for depth and variety while summoning all the little tropes one could encounter in such an environment in the order they would be encountered.

That last part ("the order in which they are encounteres") turned out to be the crucial part, as it mirrors the hierarchy of information from "most general" to "most detailed" when the narrative starts zooming in on something that warrants more detail. Having the information build up that way a DM will have at all times a superficial pattern on hand to expand on as well as some detailed hot spots to work with as the characters explore.

That is, admittedly, a tall order. But if pulled off properly, it'd be a mighty tool for a DM to get all of those ruins prepared within some reasonable time frame (imo). If a DM has fun doing so (because we are nerds like that), it'd be even better. It'd be the DM playing AND creating at the same time (like, you know, How To Host A Dungeon, for instance). If nothing else, DMs using this tool will spend time creating something themselves instead of learning to use something someone else wrote (well, it's kind of both ... you know what I mean).

Naturally, one could critizice now that you don't buy a module to do something yourself that should be provided instead. However, that argument does not stand with all the sandbox creation tools I have encountered so far. It is always assumed that the DM interprets and builds on the pattern any such tool would provide. Why should this be different with ruins or treasure created that way?

It isn't different at all, imo. The DM creates. Ideally a module will provide a great frame to make what they create shine and maybe even give it some direction. But DMs will create or they end up being the mouth piece for something someone else created, and where's the fun in that?

Anyway, I digress. Sorry. I believe that a certain amount of complexity for such a tool as described above is warranted, even necessary to get results worth anything (considering said complexity). Still not saying I managed to create such a tool, but I hope I was able to explain where I'm coming from in this and how I went about it.

Show, don't tell, man!

Alright, lets get rolling. I'll just go ahead and use the module as intended so you guys get an idea what's happening. Our hex-field is a 52, that'd be "rolling plains with some jungle". The Resource Level is a bit lower here (-1), so we get to roll 2d6 for ruins here ... a 7. That means we have one medium sized ruin hiding here as well as two overgrown remains (a piece of road, a pillar, something like that). As for factions, this hex also contains a hidden Gorilla Base (with 2 orangutans, 3 chimpanzee ninjas and 9 goblins stationed here) and two hidden drug stashes, 2 Cannibal Villages, some mushroom artwork (5 times, spread across hex) and some artifact and weird effects from the Alien presence as well as some (4) areas showing signs of radiation.

First, the Cannibal Village (just going with the dice here) actually is within the ruins. They currently have lots of wounded due to some sort of war and people are afraid of something (quest is indicated!), but are poorly equipped. They have a shaman who's faking his magic abilities (which is somehow connected to the people being afraid) and have a crazy chieftain (reason for the wounded and the poor equipment, although they live within the ruins).

The second Cannibal Village fights with some sickness but has the population happy as something nice had just happened (I'd go with them finding a cure or remedy). They are quite primitive and have only basic farming and rudimentary tools available, but their fighters are capable veterans and have a level 3 Shaman that is in contact with the spirits. Their chieftain, however, is quite incompetent.

There are no conflicts in the area, but the next time the gorillas will expand here, it'll mean to go to open war with the cannibals, so tension is high.

That's the stage as far as we'll need it for this example (we'll ignore the surrounding hexes and the vistas they'd add to this as well as the results about what the villages would exactly look like). This is what's going on in the 790 square kilometers of this hex (an area about two-thirds as big as Los Angeles) ... everything is in a distance equivalent to couple of hours travel across those plains. 

What ruin over yonder?

This is for the results!
Now for the Medium Ruin. First roll is 1d100+50 to see how big we'll go ... that'd be 115 points for building this. The result of our first Ruin Section is 9 (d12), 20 (d20), 5 (d8), 10 (d10) and 2 (d6) (a total of 46). First sign of those ruins is a big overgrown Stone Arc (adds includes Inside Area). It should be in a jungle area this hex is featuring, visible between the green growth.

The Theme for those Ancient Ruins is "Time Loop Destruction" and it'll feature some Residual Magic of sorts. There are also some harmless ghosts here and a zombie problem as well as Kobolds. One Jungle Treasure can be found here.

TREASURE 1: 17 (d20), 2 (d20), 1 (d12), 6 (d8) - This is one dose of a rare drug made from vermin and worth 208 gp.   

Our 115 are reduced by the value of that first roll (46) to a 69.

For the second Ruin Section (an Inside area) the results are 3 (d12), 5 (d6), 7 (d10), 20 (d20) and 7 (d8) (a total of 42). This is a former Green House. The entrance to it is hidden, Stone Faces are heavily featured in this area, it is quite swampy and here are some crude and natural traps. Here are two factions present: Kobolds and Troglodytes, but it also has a Dragon! So a dragon has its lair in a tower here ... Furthermore adventurers might find 4 Jungle Treasures and access to clean water here (additionally to what the Factions and the beasties carry, that is).

TREASURE 1: 4 (d20), 15 (d20), 2 (d12), 5 (d8) - This is some ancient weapon made out of iron and worth 130 gp.

TREASURE 2: 1 (d20), 12 (d20), 8 (d12), 7 (d8) - This is some alien wear made out a strange leather with usability 8 (high) and worth 56 gp.

TREASURE 3: 6 (d20), 10 (d20), 4 (d12), 1 (d8) - This is some crested container made out of wood with a usability of 4 and worth 21 gp.

TREASURE 4: 2 (d20), 1 (d20), 5 (d12), 7 (d8) - This is 5 doses of some alien alcohol made out of herd animals and worth 30 gp.

Our remaining 69 are reduced by the value of that second roll (42) to a 27.

On to the next area. The results are 15 (d20), 4 (d6), 4 (d12), 5 (d10) and 2 (d8) (a total of 30). First Impression here is a "Mountain Side", which should translate to something like a cliff of sorts with the features "hiding" in the jungle atop the cliff. I'd go as far as saying this is a wonderful stone wall featuring a mountain scene and hiding some stairs that lead to the top. The high result here also adds one Inside and one Feature Area to this.

Main Theme here is "Roots"and the Complication is "Uneven Footing", both adding to the hidden aspect of this area. Some harmless monkeys reside here and there's one Jungle Treasure hidden here as well. I'd put the cannibals here in relative distance to the Kobolds and the Zombies (and the Dragon, for that matter).

TREASURE 1: 3 (d20), 16 (d20), 11 (d12), 1 (d8) - This is an ancient artwork made from salt and worth 62 gp.

Our remaining 27 are reduced now below 0, but there are still two areas to be resolved (an Inside and a Feature). After that the ruins are complete (for now).

For our Inside in this area we get 6 (d10), 5 (d6), 5 (d12), 1 (d8) and 5 (d20). This is a Boneyard (a huge hall, at that) with the Stone Faces returning as a Theme, more harmless ghosts and some termites. Three Jungle Treasures can be found here. The Cannibals are aware of this area, but mostly avoid it because of the ghosts.

TREASURE 1: 13 (d20), 13 (d20), 3 (d12), 6 (d8) - This is some mysterious knowledge conserved on iron sheets with a usability of 3 (low) and worth 70 gp.

TREASURE 2: 15 (d20), 1 (d20), 9 (d12), 7 (d8) - This is 9 doses of some primitive alcohol made out of herd animals (blood?) and worth 32 gp.

TREASURE 3: 4 (d20), 8 (d20), 1 (d12), 1 (d8) - This is some big ancient accessory made out of bone with a usability of 1 (very low) and worth 14 gp. 

The Feature is connected to the Inside and for that we get 3 (d8), 13 (d20), 3 (d12), 1 (d6) and 2 (d10). An Ancient Gallery with some hidden spaces can be found here. The main Theme is "Bridges" and these ancient halls still have some magic working here. The complication here is that it's crawling with insects, mostly Termites, it seems. One Jungle Treasure can be found here.

TREASURE 1: 17 (d20), 13 (d20), 2 (d12), 2 (d8) - This is some rare knowledge written on some vermin based medium with a usability of 2 (low) and worth 272 gp.

That's it for the random results and what they sum up to. All of this is somewhat basic, so far. What we haven't done yet is interpreting how the dice used for those results connect with each other and what that looks like. A map, so to say (see below).

And all that for what?

I had scribbled on the side how all of this comes together, roughly. This will need some fleshing out in places as well as produce some very specific necessities for the ruins here (mostly due to residual magic and a dragon).

What I will do now is putting in some extra effort, since this is a blog and not a DM notebook. If I were doing this for my home game, I'd just make a sketch, put down some notes and be done with it, which would be much faster. Since this is also a proof of concept, I'll go the distance and show how the provided information helps creating a very individual and fitting location for Monkey Business.

It goes without saying that this has a very high variation due to basic variables like location alone. Have this location high in the mountains and it will look totally different as well as offering different challenges (different hidden areas, different ways to get from A to B, different populations, ...).

Other than that, there might be many different reasons to explore those ruins derived from how the adventure is going. Those cannibals have a problem that needs solving. The dragon could be a problem in the area or even a possible ally versus the gorillas ... or it's all just treasure hunting (again, that dragon will have a hoard!).

You won't get the same result twice, so there is that as well. In the end, if you do 12 ruins like that, even without fleshing them out properly (there are cheat sheets to keep the information straight and with that it should be easy to even improvise a ruin), they all will be distinguishably different with lots of variety for exploration and enough information established to keep the players busy for some time.

And now for the first Area ... this is me as the DM now, building on the established. The map for what is presented here looks like this (preliminary and to be expanded on, of course, but this is what you get):

Just a sketch, but all the pieces are there!

The Hidden Everdying Galleries of Karrik-Thazzar

These ruins of a long lost civilization once flaunted its greatest achievements and victories for its people to indulge in. It featured a magical gallery where the rooms connected via magical bridges, a boneyard where the remains of overcome foes could be admired in artful displays and a green house showcasing the most beautiful and magical blossoms throughout the realm.

It fell, as all things do eventually. Now only the ghosts and ruins left behind give careful observers a hint of the serene beauty this place once held.

This location contains five major areas, some of them hidden, as well as two factions to interact with (Cannibals & Dragon Crew). It's low in treasure and in traps.

The whole complex is hidden under heavy plant growth and the easiest access to the ruins is through a overgrown but still well visible artificial and ornate stone arc.

Encounters as per rules for exploration (in this case using Labyrinth Lord and the module itself).

Random Encounter Table (1d12)

1-2     Ghosts 

3-5     Signs of Dragon Presence

6-7     Sight of Dragon in Distance

8-9     Kobolds on Patrol

10      Troglodytes having Fun   

11     Cannibals, but lost

12      Dragon Close-By

Add (1d4-1) 1 Random Jungle Encounter, as per the module (results 12 & 8):

There are some stoned lower monkeys somewhere in the location (where the DM thinks it appropriate ... I decided for Area 1 Site 3).

AREA 1

Basic mixture of jungle and ruins. Sites are connected via paths that allow easy traversion. Cutting through the jungle between sites is (mostly) possible, but tiring and time consuming in comparison. Sites are between 30 and 50 meters apart, visibility of surroundings is noted if applicable.

There is some Magic Residue in this Area with a "Time Loop" as a theme. Let's have some fun with this one: once per character (not enough magic to trigger this more than once per character!) death in this area creates a loop where the character is sent one combat round back in time instead. First time this happens, the character has to make a successful check to not be surprised and just die again (because, duh!). Second time around they know what's happening and can take the knowledge about their surroundings and the fight into account to avoid their death. Each time they willingly die to learn from the experience, they either get +1 to attacks or -1 to AC until death is avoided (as for the DM: that last and deadly last attack will stay the same, of course ... no additional rolls needed!).

If they die more than 10 times, a succesful Save versus Death Rays becomes necessary to stay sane. Unsuccessful save implicates fear against [mode of death] and means that each time a character is confronted with similar situations (same weapon, same monster, whatever applies) they have to make a Save versus Paralysation to not freeze in place instead of acting.

Please encourage players to come up with creative alternatives to allow their survival. Characters willingly facing death in this Area after surviving their first loop, will just die as per the rules of the game you are using.

Area 1 Site 1: A once glorious Arc

The top of this arc is well visible when the jungle containing those ruins is approached from the plins due south. Even when entering the jungle during daylight, the top of the arc will function as an easily visible guide to the location.

On site, this turns out to be a roughly 40 meters high, 60 meters wide, 20 meters deep triumphal arc. Very ornate heavy stone blocks that mostly feature edged but expressive stone faces.

Features:

  • An eery whisper is omnipresent here. It sounds like the distnat buzz of a town.
  • The remains of a cobblestone street lead downhill towards WWN (Area 1 Site 2).
  • The surrounding jungle is littered with big overgrown stones, but no complete structures are visible.
  • Everything but the arch seems thrashed.
  • Climbing the arch will reveal two more close-by features: a half-sunken building with a tower due NE and a massive cliff artificially cut to appear like a mountain panorama due west (Area 3 Site 1). The panorama can be recognized and located in the distance after a succesfull INT check (and might lead to other locations, if the DM so desires).

Area 1 Site 2: Kobolds & Decaying Ghost Shadows

This has been a plaza of sorts, located at the foot of a artificially altered, 30 meters high cliff bordering it due W. The cobblestones here resisted some of the roots reclaiming this area, resulting in a bit of a clearing. Still, it's full of big debris and growth, making this the perfect camp for the kobolds residing here. They are the preliminary guard for the Dragon living in Area 2 Site 5.

Features:

  • The residual magic remaining in this place makes things even more irritating: glimpses of the past of this location flitter ghostly over the remains, making the whole area very restless with ghostly people and buildings telling of the downfall of this place, if one cares enough to observe the phenomenon for a long enough time (at least 4 days before it loops back to the beginning).
  • The Kobolds are well hidden here, allowing for an ambush 4 in 6 times.
  • An optical illusion hides a staircase up that cliff (leading to Area 3 Site 1).
  • Rests of one cobblestreet leads up SEE to the arch, one leads up NEE (to Area 1 Site 3)

12 Kobolds, 1d4 HD (4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1), AC 7, C, 1 Attack, D 1d4 or Weapon-1, Saves 0 level Human, Morale 6, Hoard Class I

Area 1 Site 3: Hidden Durst Jamboree

This clearing borders above a swampy area due N (some 20 meters down from the clearing). It has only big debris marking the area, like overgrown partial walls and half broken passage ways. Some stoned monkeys have set up camp here (the Random Jungle Encounter set up above ... it fits here quite well becaus of the Treasure hidden here). There's a shabby tent, some carpets, wooden boxes and dirty cushions. There's also a table set up with six monkeys playing poker and five more commenting on it (in Common Tongue, of course). It's a lively scene and they are unafraid and relaxed (the Dragon allows their presence, thinks them entertaining). The monkeys are not associated with the Hidden Gorilla Camp in the area (just customers ... those monkeys are too flimsy for military duty).

Features:

  • From here the half sunken building due N (Area 2) is well visible.
  • The monkeys will allow characters joining the poker game, but they cheat and are careless about it. Still will take the gold, though. They are easily threatened and intimated, however, and will make concessions if pushed hard enough.
  • One shady monkey will offer the character some Durst (see Monkey Business p. 42 & 43), but has no idea what the dose is actually worth (or what the drug does ... he'll sell it hard, though). He'll claim 100 gp, but can be haggled down to 60 gp.
  • One path leads down due W into swampy territory (to Area 1 Site 4), one leads down due WWS (to Area 1 Site 2)

[using the Monkey Generator provided in the module, adding the stats myself:]

11 White Howler Monkeys with flat wide faces and naked prehensile tails (black skin), 1d4+2 HD (6, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 4, 4, 3), AC 4, C, 1 Attack, D 1d6-1 or Weapon, Saves 2 level Human, Morale 4, Hoard Class IV

Area 1 Site 4: A damp place, but sunny

This little clearing is bordering on a swampy area with a half sunken building due NNE surrounded by lots of water patches between the dense jungle as a main feature (Area 2). Other than that, there's not much else to be seen on a first glance. There's no such thing as an empty space, though. It's quite nice here, actually. And no ghosts at all. Coming to rest here, one can admire the beauty of nature integrating what's left of this once thriving place. Thick roots, rustling green, ornate stones and sunlight glittering on water ...

However, spending more than half an hour here will trigger an encounter as described above.

Features:

  • Taking the time to enjoy the scenery will heal 1d3 HP.
  • There are two hidden paths leading away from this location. Finding will take 10+1d20 minutes each (unless characters very actively look in the right places, going by the description the DM provides).
  • One leads underwater NE and into the building adjacent to this site (into Area 2 Site 1, sidenote: the building can be entered by climbing as well, see entry Area 2) and can be discovered by looking into the clear water between this site and the building (which will reveal a stone doorway). Characters will have to dive through it into the building (simple CON check will suffice, though).
  • The other leads through an ascending tunnel due N (to Area 1 Site 5). The Stone doorway leading into the tunnel is hidden behind some rubble (covering the lower third) and heavy undergrowth. This is former service tunnel used by slaves and it is very well intact, even features some graffiti mocking the long dead masters of those long dead slaves (texts will need read magic to be deciphered, the pictures of profanities speak for themselves).
  • There is one obvious path leading up and due E (to Area 1 Site 3).

Area 1 Site 5: Foul Kitchen Service

The building that stood here is long gone and only some foundation and debris are left to frame this site. The service tunnel this site is entered by opens into what has been a kitchen (which could be found out if someone where to study the remaining foundations). This is not a clearing, but somehow bushes did not overwhelm this part of the ruins. The jungle only gets thick right behind the remaining stones marking where the building stood. The Dragon Crew is not aware of this area, which would make it a nice place to hang out. However ...

Features:

  • Main remaining feature in this place is an open well with a 2m diameter. The water deep down is black and muddy. On opposing sides of this well, somewhat hidden below earth and grass, it has two skeletons. The rests of their clothing indicate that they had been soldiers of some kind. They seem to have stood guard here.
  • Only the night reveals the tragedy that befell this place, albeit only incomplete. The scenery will come to life ghostly, showing the two soldiers forcing what seems to be the household into the well, with all the tears and drama one would imagine. Women trying to protect their children, people trying to climb out of the well only to be cut down. The soldiers do their job relentlessly, but with tears streaming down their stoic faces. 20 people die in that well. The Soldiers commit suicide after the deed and die where their skeletons are found.
  • Those 20 souls forced into the well are Zombies now that will climb out as soon as they sense the living above. It'll take them two rounds to get out of the well, and even though characters being aware of what's coming will be able to shoot some of them down before they get out, most sure will make it. And they will follow those adventurers mercilessly unless destroyed.
  • Service tunnel leads out of there due S (to Area 1 Site 4).

20 Zombies, 2d8 HD (adults: 15, 13, 12, 12, 11, 11, 10, 9, 9, 9, 8, 8, 8, 7 children: 7, 7, 7, 5, 4, 3), AC 8, C, 1 Attack, D 1d8 or Weapon, Saves F1, Morale 12, Hoard None 

That's enough for now ...

I think it's already a lot, actually. The rest will follow as I get down to it. As I said above, just going with the notes and sketches is way less work intensive, especially if the DM is somewhat familiar with the tool and uses the provided Cheat Sheets.

Okay, I have to admit this was more fun than I thought it would be :P Reminded me why I enjoyed writing MB to begin with. However, as I stated above: if you actually use the tool, you'll get lots to play with and it does allow for a deeper exploration of the setting while allowing room for what the module established. This is an, I'd say, average result (you can get a crystal skull, ffs, and more quests that connect this with the hex ... a lot can happen).

In realted news, since the PoD version of this is overdue and a revision is warranted (it is my first, and I love it for that, but it can be better!), I'll aim for a Kickstarter of the Revision in 2022. So stay tuned! You want a teaser? You'll get a teaser :)

Sexy, no? More 2022 ...
The module itself already does a lot, of course, so make sure to check that out if haven't already! It is PWYW, so you can get it for free, give it a try and show some love afterwards, if you are so inclined. This beast of a module received 3 five star ratings since the reviews had dropped. From people I do not know, I might add (and still love for their commitment!), so this actually is received quite well.

------------------------ 

If you are thirsty for more,  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). We will do a sale in October when the banner goes live. Stay tuned for that ...

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 ...


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Frozen Temple of Glacier Peak

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 10/02/2021 - 11:06
By Robin Fjarem Self Published Knave Levels 1-3

The melting ice has revealed the walls of a long-forgotten temple at the summit of Glacier Peak. Historians and adventurers travel from afar to witness this legend come back to life, hoping to get a slice of the untold riches surely contained within. There is just one problem: The entrance is yet to be found.

This 24 page digest adventure uses thirteen pages to describe about 32 rooms in a three level dungeon. It’s got some norse folklore theming and tries to keep the writing focused. I get the concept that it was going for, but it feels constrained. I THINK it’s possible, tough, to come off with some PHAT L00T with no fighting; a nice folklore element.

Ok, so, cave up on the frozen mountside. And, in spite of that “historian” crack in the blurb, there’s no hint of magical renaissance in this at all. It’s pure norse mythology. We’ve got three levels to the dungeon. The first is a relatively empty abandoned temple with, I think, eleven rooms. You get reindeer hides on the walls, and antler carvings and small little figurines at modest shrines. The overall vibe here is one of a place empty, and abandoned. In fact, I believe the only encounter is with a centipede hiding in the chest of a skeleton. Old. And then you come to a stairway leading down. It’s covered, blocked with ice. Here we have a pretty literal transition to the mythic underworld. You need to find you way past it. Level two is linear, with just a handful of rooms. A giant lake, some islands. A small shrine on the second to last, that lets you turn the water in to a portal you can jump in to. And, at that last island, a 6HD norse troll, in a deep sleep. So, you know, don’t go too far. Finally, the lake portal leads to you level three with the rest of the rooms: norselandia.  Dark elf, grey dwarf, some frog-people, sprites, and a wingless dragon: the lindwurm. And, of course, his hoard. 

We are now in full on fantasy realm and you can talk to most of those bizarro people. The dwarf, chained to the wall by the dragon, his keys around the troll-kings neck … who was turned to stone by the dragon. Freed, he forges an adamantine sword for you. Or the gnome living in a cabin next to wall that has colossal door in it, the keyhole 8’ off the ground. He’s got the key, but will only give it up if you go X and get him Y. (Where X&Y are mushroom forest related.) Or the sprite that has lost his drum … that will put the dragon to sleep. And on it goes. So we’ve got a good transition in to the fantastic and strong folklore elements. And, as I’ve mentioned, it might be possible to snag a decent amount of loot with no combat.

The writing tends to the brisk side: “Grand hall with a high ceiling. Empty torch sconces in the walls. Reindeer pelts hang stretched out on the walls with stone benches beneath.” Not droning on, to be sure. Other rooms are perhaps too terse in their descriptions “Frozen Shrine: Encased in ice.” There might be some EASL issues with the quality of the imagery/evocative word choices, but I think the issue more comes down to imagining the scene and trying to get it down on paper. There is clearly an attempt made, in most cases, but one that falls short in almost all cases of bringing a truly evocative environment to match the interactivity in them. It’s not doing anything special in the formatting area, other than staying focused on the length and using some bolded words. I’m not on board with what IS being bolded, but clearly there was an attempt. Better writing and better bolding choices come with more time and more experience.

So, what the fuck is wrong with, besides some less than stellar evocative writing?

I could point out some mistakes in the design. The sleeping troll is at the END of the path, and wakes up if you make noise … but you don’t really know he’s there … and thus are not worried about making noise. Placing him up front, or, stronger signalling or snoring would help. And there’s a bit of this and that similar in the adventure in which there are things to do/not do that could cause tension but are, I think, mishandled or not telegraphed well, working against their intent. 

It’s also got a little bit of a fetch questy “find the red key for the red door” sort of CRPG thing going on. “So what do we need to do FOR YOU to get you to give us something?” came to mind. This is hard. You want interactivity. With NPC’s, them wanting things is good. But too much and it starts to feel like you’re running up to someone with a gold star flashing over their head and pressing the “skip dialog” button as fast as you can. 

It’s also constrained in its size, and I’m thinking particularly level three and its fantasy-land fetch quest stuff. Everyone essentially is right on top of each other. Melan and I differ, I think, to the degree we dislike this element, but I think we both recognize it and don’t care for the constrained spaces. I recognize that it exists, and why, and that NOT being constrained is far better. I just don’t ding something as much when it shows up. I’d much rather have some gravitas behind the distance, and quest, than just walking next door, etc, to pick up the thing and stab the thing guarding the thing. In particular, the lost drum, hanging in some random (literally!) tree in the swamp comes to mind. There’s no weight behind this. There’s no feeling of having earned that golden fleece. The adventure is trying to do too much in too small a place. But, meh, it’s 2021. 

Other things comes to mind, like the use of a random table for a treasure behind a waterfall. I don’t get why designers do this. Just place a treasure. The fact you have a table for it shows a lack of understanding of what random tables are used for in old school design. It’s far, far better to place a treasure, or monster, in an integrated way in to the design. Yes, there IS a time and place for random tables in an adventure. But not for general use. 

So, slow start, probably on purpose, and strong theming. But the language use doesn’t convey the theming well, although the interactivity does. 

This is $3 at DriveThru.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/370215/The-Frozen-Temple-of-Glacier-Peak?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Happy Dave Arneson Day & Some Thoughts On David Lance Arneson

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 10/02/2021 - 05:59
 Happy Dave Arneson day everyone! Mr.Arneson was the co creator of original Dungeons & Dragons. And he's one of the innovators of the grand game as we know it. There are so many things that I owe to Mr.Arenson as both a player & as a dungeon master. David Lance Arneson, October 1, 1947, Hennepin County, Minnesota, U.S.He literally is one of the founding fathers of the game that we call Dungeons &Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Sutherland Dragon Details

Zenopus Archives - Fri, 10/01/2021 - 21:43


As promised in my earlier post about on the exhibit of the Holmes Basic cover art ⁠— aka the Sutherland Dragon ⁠— here are several close-ups of different portions.


The Fighter



The greens are more apparent, including in details such as the "emeralds" circling the pommel of the sword poking out from the treasure pile.

In the dragon's chest in the upper portion of this image you can clearly see multi-colored gems encrusted between the belly plates. A few are even gleaming, a detail which doesn't show up well because the gleams are white on a yellow background. 

Note Sutherland's signature, just visible below the shield. This portion of the image appeared on the bottom edge of the box set cover, where a bit more of his name can be seen than here.


The Magic-User



Here we see the wizard unobscured by the TSR logo and the other writing on the box cover.

Sutherland's attention to the lighting is very apparent in the yellow highlights and deep shadows applied to the wizard's blue robe.


The Dragon


Yellow bands of light radiate out from the wizard's torch, a detail that doesn't reproduce well on the boxed set cover. 

The motion lines accentuate the mood that the dragon has just been surprised. Sutherland used motion lines in other illustrations, particularly sword swings, such as on the title page of the Holmes Basic rulebook, as can be seen here.

As a reminder, the exhibit featuring this painting is at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA through Halloween, and then will be at the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, TN from May 20 to September 5, 2022, and then at the Flint Institute of Art in Flint, MI from September 23, 2002 through January 8, 2023.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

I might dust that

Yarn Harlot - Fri, 10/01/2021 - 21:20

As much as I hate to let go of summer, I am trying to embrace the Autumn.  It’s always felt like the genuine start of a new year to me – all the relaxed ease of the summer goes out of our lives, and for our family there’s a general sense that it is time to settle down and get to work.  Maybe it’s a holdover from the school years, but September and October feel like you should buy office supplies and generally get some sort of grip on… everything.  In Joe, this looks like mumbling around the house muttering words like “plans” and “next” and making piles of paper, that and he’s far more likely to say “good idea” to my suggestion that we call the guy about the porch ceiling than “let’s get to that soon.” (That is Joe for “Hell no we’re not doing a renovation.” Also, happening this week, I hope. The thing leaked last year and while the roof is fixed, the ceiling of it drops peeling paint in our hair while we come and go now. Winter is definitely not going to improve it.)

For me, it’s a time of the great and mighty list and spreadsheet, and for scrawling grand statements of intent on the tops of notepads. Bold statements that say things like “Organize Main Floor”  or “Deal With Closets” or my favourite (just wrote this one down this morning) “Christmas?”  (The astute among you will note that these are particularly crappy plans, lacking form or detail, and being too large for anyone to accomplish in one go, no matter how tidy the block letters are that you wrote it in.)

(This is Ken’s sweater, so close to the end that it’s silly that I spent the morning sorting the bathroom out. It needs just a few hours of my time. )

This year I am particularly interested in “getting the house together” (similarly vague and difficult to accomplish, I know.) One of two things is going to happen this winter. Either the pandemic situation is going to improve significantly and people are going to start coming in my house again, in which case I had better tidy up,  or things are not going to get better, and a long-lonely winter stretches ahead of me and I don’t think that I can get through it if the junk drawer in the kitchen is still like this. (Actually, and more to the point, I don’t think Joe can get through my winter if they drawer is still like that.)   Things are going to have to get better in this house no matter what, and the great time of deferral, of lying in the sunshine and thinking that I’ll clean up on a day when it’s not so nice out…it’s over, and it’s time to clean something.

It is time to feather this nest, to dust, to organize, to take things to the thrift shop, to finally fix that stupid shelf and get the right kind of lightbulb for that lamp that’s all wrong. It is time to toss the stash (more on that another day) and start to make a list of what yarn I need to buy for the winter. (I find it’s best to do this right after the stash toss, when I’ve just had a good visit with it and can’t possibly convince myself I’m low on sock yarn.) It’s time to wash the fronts of cupboards and prune plants in the backyard and this year, be the kind of person who rakes up all the leaves before the snow lands on them and you have to clean them up all slimy in the spring.

(A little shawl from the Gauge Dye Works August club – it would be done if the kitchen pantry wasn’t so sorted now. Also, bastard slugs do you see those leaves.)

This feeling, the urge to clean … well, anything to be clear, is a rare one for me. I like being organized but I really hate cleaning, and usually I have to bribe myself with knitting and audio books to get it done at all, so if the mood is with me… I’m going to go dust.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Agents Within The Blood Soaked Alleyways of SANCTUARY! A Cepheus Engine Rpg View Into Chaosium's Thieves World rpg Campaign Box Set

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 10/01/2021 - 20:05
 "Skulk through the night on the heels of Shadowspawn . . . delve into the twisted tunnels of the Purple Mage . . . attend the court (or perhaps the harem) of Prince Kadakithis . . . dodge the keen-eyed Hell Hounds with Jubal's Hawkmasks . . . drink your ale and guard your purse at the Vulgar Unicorn . . . boldly walk the streets of the wildest, most varied, and most downright fascinating city inNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The FCC moves to curb SIM swap attacks

Malwarebytes - Fri, 10/01/2021 - 16:15

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is going to set new rules to curb the rising threat of SIM swapping, also known as SIMjacking.

SIM swapping (and the very similar port-out fraud) is the unlawful use of someone’s personal information to steal their phone number and swap or transfer it to another device. Once this happens, the scammer can use the device to receive calls and messages intended for the victim. SIM swapping is often used to intercept codes sent by SMS that are used in some forms of two-factor authentication (2FA).

SIM swapping is difficult to scale up into large attacks against lots of people at the same time, but it is often used to target specific, high-value individuals.

Early last year, US senators wrote a letter to the FCC urging it to do something about the rising problem of SIM swapping:

The impact of this type of fraud is large and rising. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the number of complaints about SIM swaps has increased dramatically, from 215 in 2016 to 728 through November 2019, and consumer complaints usually only reflect a small fraction of the actual number of incidents.

It went on to say that SIM swapping “may also endanger national security”:

SIM swap fraud may also endanger national security. For example, if a cyber criminal or foreign government uses a SIM swap to hack into the email account of a local public safety official, they could then leverage that access to issue emergency alerts using the federal alert and warning system operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

According to its recent release, the FCC “has received numerous complaints from consumers who have suffered significant distress, inconvenience, and financial harm as a result of SIM swapping and port-out fraud. In addition, recent data breaches have exposed customer information that could potentially make it easier to pull off these kinds of attacks.”

Currently, the proposals boil down to requiring better checks, and quicker notifications:

[The FCC] proposes to amend the Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) and Local Number Portability rules to require carriers to adopt secure methods of authenticating a customer before redirecting a customer’s phone number to a new device or carrier. It also proposes requiring providers to immediately notify customers whenever a SIM change or port request is made on customers’ accounts.”

Many are already happy upon receiving this news, vague as it is.

Great to see anti sim-swapping rules proposed. However, orgs must be given direction about secure methods of verifying identity in support — we typically see knowledge based authentication (easy to bypass, find, solicit, etc). Orgs must move to MFA instead to verify identity 1st. https://t.co/N7VmX6h5Jp

— Rachel Tobac (@RachelTobac) September 30, 2021

Of course, specifics need to be laid out as so to how carriers can help potential SIM swap victims and how they generally safeguard all their users.

The post The FCC moves to curb SIM swap attacks appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Lavender Kisses Beanie

Moogly - Fri, 10/01/2021 - 15:03

Soft, feminine, delicate, warm, and pretty – the Lavender Kisses Beanie is the perfect match to the Lavender Kisses Cowl and a free one skein crochet pattern on Moogly! Disclaimer: Materials for this pattern were provided by Yarnspirations. Featuring Red Heart Unforgettable Red Heart Unforgettable is one of my favorite Red Heart yarns of all...

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The post Lavender Kisses Beanie appeared first on moogly. Please visit www.mooglyblog.com for this post. If you are viewing this on another site they have scraped the content from my website without permission. Thank you for your support.

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Categories: Crochet Life

Apple Pay vulnerable to wireless pickpockets

Malwarebytes - Fri, 10/01/2021 - 14:19

Researchers have shown that it is possible for attackers to bypass an Apple iPhone’s lock screen to access payment services and make contactless transactions. The issue, which only applies to Apple Pay and Visa, is caused by the use of so-called magic bytes, a unique code used to unlock Apple Pay.

In the full paper, researchers from two UK universities—the University of Birmingham and the University of Surrey—show how this feature makes it possible to wirelessly pickpocket money.

The underlying issue

What happens often is that a feature designed to make our lives easier, also makes it easier for clever attackers to use that same feature against us. The vulnerability identified by the researchers is only present when Visa cards are set up using Express mode in an iPhone’s wallet. Express mode allows iPhone owners to use transit or payment cards, passes, a student ID, a car key, and more, without waking or unlocking their device, or authenticating with Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode. The user may even be able to use their card, pass, or key when their device needs to be charged.

Transport mode

Contactless Europay, Mastercard, and Visa (EMV) payments are a fast and easy way to make payments, particularly at a time when we’re all much more wary about the hygiene of the surfaces we touch.

Normally, payments via smart-phone apps need to be confirmed by the user via a fingerprint, PIN code, or Face ID. Apple Pay elevated the EMV standard for usability, by introducing a feature that allows it to be used at a ticketing barriers (like those used to access the London underground railway network) without unlocking the phone. And Apple is not alone. Samsung has introduced the same “transport mode” feature as well.

The researchers found that Transport for London (TfL) ticket barriers broadcast a non-standard sequence of bytes—so-called “magic bytes”—which bypass the Apple Pay lock screen. Apple Pay then checks that its other requirements are met (which are different for Visa and Mastercard) and if they are it allows a payment to be performed with no user interaction. In this way it allows underground passengers to move through the barriers without stopping, in the same as they do with Oyster cards.

Taking payments

For Apple Pay Visa, the researchers were able to craft messages that resulted in fraudulent payments from a locked iPhone to any EMV shop reader, for any amount. The tests were made for payments up to £1,000 (roughly US$ 1,350). Mastercard is stricter, requiring readers to have a transit merchant code before allowing this functionality.

The researchers also found that Samsung Pay does not use magic bytes, but it was always possible to perform an EMV transaction with a locked Samsung phone. However, they also found that locked Samsung Pay would only allow a zero-value payment. Transport providers (which is only TfL right now) must have an arrangement with their banks to make good the value of the tickets. According to the researchers, “this makes it impossible to relay Samsung Pay to shop readers to buy goods, but it is still possible to relay Samsung Pay to other transport readers”.

Pointing fingers

When the attack was disclosed to Apple and Visa, Apple reportedly said that the problem was with Visa (stop us if you’ve heard this one before), and Visa said it was with Apple. Apple insisted it was up to Visa to implement additional fraud detection checks. Visa pointed out that the same problem did not exist in the Samsung Pay and Visa combination.

For now, as the academics stated, while the problems are acknowledged by both parties, who have been spoken to extensively, the issue remains unfixed. Apparently, when two industry parties each have partial blame, neither are willing to accept full responsibility. Needless to say, while nobody fixes the problem, all users are vulnerable.

It seems unlikely that transport modes will be removed from phones, so the researchers have proposed an EMV relay-resistant protocol.

Where does that leave you?

The attack has only been demonstrated in a lab and there is no evidence that criminals are currently exploiting the vulnerability.

However, if you are worried about falling victim to this type of attack, you should disable the Express Mode if you don’t need it. When you add an eligible transit card to an Apple Wallet, Express Mode is turned on by default.

Should you lose your phone or have it stolen, there is now—in theory at least—a way for thieves to extract funds from it without having to guess your passcode. To avoid that, we suggest that you inform your bank or payment provider if your phone is stolen so they can block your cards.

Stay safe, everyone!

The post Apple Pay vulnerable to wireless pickpockets appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Minaria: Elfland

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 10/01/2021 - 11:00

This is the first post in a series, perhaps. My version of Minaria, extrapolated from the map, manuals, and pieces of the boardgame, Divine Right.


Humans are not welcome in the shadowed and quiet forests of Elfland. This antipathy is ancient. In the age following the fall of the Lloroi Empire, the Elves of Neuth (as they call the great forest in their own language) viewed the primitive tribes that they encountered as they ventured from their home as little more than clever beasts. The years have taught them that those beasts can be dangerous; they have learned to be wary of humans, but not to respect them.

The Elves believe themselves to the heirs to the Lloroi, possibly even a direct continuation of that great race. They take pride in being the only culture to withstand the Cataclysm without a reversion to barbarism. They prefer not to discuss the crumbling spires of their half-buried, ancient capital of Letho or the much reduced extent of their lands.

The Great Forest is relatively unspoiled by human standards. Their craft and science (they do not call it magic) is such that their communities often blend into their surroundings. Only another elf might know that they were there.

Humans who have dared to enter the forest easily become lost and often have returned with their memories completely gone. Those are the ones that return at all. Elven rangers patrol the wood with hounds whose howls are uncannily like human voices in lamentation and whose all too human faces hold horror in their eyes. Few elven settlements would give shelter to human stranger, raised as every elf is on tales of the malice of the beast Man.

"One day," say the elven lords to their knights when they are feasting in their hidden halls. "One day our host will ride forth and scatter the human rabble before us."

Review & Commentary On Clement Sector Core Setting Book By John Watts From Independence Games For Cepheus Engine Rpg & Your Old School 2d6 Rpg Science Fiction Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 09/30/2021 - 21:51
"Welcome to Clement Sector!In 2210, scientists discovered a wormhole allowing travel to the opposite side of the Milky Way galaxy.  Once across, exploration teams discovered worlds far more suited to human habitation than those in star systems nearer to Earth.  Were they terraformed by some unknown race?  Are they just a coincidence in the vast diversity of the universe?""Over the ensuing years Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

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