Thursday, December 29, 2011

This Looks Pretty Rad

I think I will be adding this to my list of things to get.

From Paizo's site:

This 64-page softcover explores the solar system of the Pathfinder campaign setting. Along with extensive gazetteers and maps of each of the numerous planets of this system (including the war-torn Red Planet of Akiton, the undead world of Eox, the primeval Green Planet of Castrovel, gas giants, asteroids, moons, and more), this book includes guidelines for traveling from world to world and exploring the dark depths of outer space. Rules for several new monsters, alien races, and magic round out the otherworldly offerings.
by James L. Sutter

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

I first heard about this game nearly a year ago. I have been anxiously waiting for it ever since then. Now, it is in the final stretch, and there is a kickstarter to get the initial print run funded. Also, IT'S GOING TO BE IN A BOX!

Head on over to the kickstarter page to lend your support.

If you want to know more about it, head on over to the AS&SH section of the OD&D boards to ask any questions you may have.

Tin can helmet + laser pistol = WIN!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What's Not to Love?

From Volume III - The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures:

An Experiment in Hexploration

In reading about the sharing of maps and information in the original West Marches campaign, I've decided to try and implement a similar thing in my own Outland campaign. At the Inn Between Worlds, there is a large crappy table known as "the adventurer's table", where adventurer's carve their maps directly into the table. There is the overland map, and also any location maps of adventuring sites that have been explored.

I've gotten the thing started, and will bring it to the gaming sessions for the players to add to. It will probably be some time before enough exploration is done to expand the map, but we shall see how it goes.

Outland overland map - player version

Also, not sure how to handle this with online players. Keep a current photo posted? How will they update it? Keep another version in Hexographer? Not sure yet...

Outland Session 2

On December 23, I was visited by out-of-towner friends Steve from Atlanta and Mason from Milwaukee. We decided to do some gaming, and after being presented with the available rumors of locations to be explored, they went with the haunted house - now dubbed Nagle Manor.

Two players, with 5 PCs each entered the manor, and made use of the map shared by the previous explorers. They explored the majority of the ground level, and found stairs going both down and up, but chose to limit their shenannigans to the first floor.

Here are some highlights from the adventure, in no particular order:

  • Animated curtains began to strangle two adventurers, but the curtains were foiled by a well-thrown bear trap and later burned.
  • A well-stocked library attended by a powerful yet crazy magician. One of the PCs attacked him, and she was turned to stone for her efforts. The others perused the books and were each allowed to check out a book, being told that they must be returned in 4 weeks. Books checked out were a treatise on all matter of slimes and oozes, a book on fishing, and two tomes dedicated to the accurate valuation of works of art and fine furniture, respectively. Successful study of these books may aid the adventurers in the future...
  • A black pudding was encountered, and sent through the floor to the lower level of the manor.
  • A ballroom full of dancing ghosts was discovered. The ghosts seemed to pay no mind to the adventurers, but some clumsy navigation of the room led to one of the PCs brushing up against a dancing ghost. The cold chill of death caused the PC to die where he stood.
  • A room full of bowling ghouls was discovered. The PCs fled immediately!
  • There was a locked door in the northeast quadrant of the manor that the adventurers were unable to gain access to.
  • An armory was discovered, but a suit of plate animated and sent an adventurer or two to their graves.
  • Some sort of magical painting depicting a great battle was discovered. At some point, a barrage of arrows flew forth from the painting, killing yet another PC.
  • Treasure taken from the manor includes a magic sword, a ring of telekinesis, a dragon control potion, a bottle of elvish whimsey wine, and miscellaneous items to the tune of a ~3,000 gp value. An encrypted treasure map was reported to be found as well.
Here are the adventurers that met their demise at the hands of Nagle Manor, illustrated by Mason:

Big Lurch - death by cursed scroll

Dweebal Zappo - bumped into a dancing ghost

Moonbeam Zappo - pissed off the librarian and was turned to stone

Moonshine Bloodgood - killed by arrows fired from a magical painting

Stephan Suxley - killed by animated suit of armor

Ulthon Steelhide - also killed by animated suit of armor

The following adventurers made it home, did some partying, and two of them advanced to level 1 somebodies:

Jim Titanium - advanced to 1st-level Fighting-Man
Jim Titanium action shot

Scarecrow Hooker - advanced to 1st-level Thief

Gordo Murvin - promoted to henchman of Jim Titanium. Hey, it's better than being dead!
Gordo enjoying his one true love - fishing!

Barkbeard Woodsack - Scarecrow Hooker's new meatshield
Updated map of the manor (scale and accuracy are questionable)

I was told that zero-level adventures are super awesome fun. The end.

Monday, December 26, 2011

An Idea for Knowledge Skills

As the players in my last session were searching through the books in Nagle Manor's library, it occured to me that maybe it would be a good idea to have some basic rules for knowledge acquired and that sort of thing. Here are my initial thoughts:

  • A book can be studied in week-long increments. At the end of the week, the PC makes a read languages check (percentage chance equal to Greyhawk's "% chance to know spell"). If the check is successful, the PC gains a knowledge point in the particular subject, or some other benefit. If the check fails, no gain is made.
  • Only one subject may be studied per character per game week. Also, only one week of study may be performed per each session played, so players that play more often will be able to make use of this more.
  • Knowledge points are used in an identical manner to LotFP's skill points. Each PC has a base 1 in 6 chance of knowing something useful (to be determined by the referee). Each additional point earned through research represents an additional 1 in 6 chance of success.
  • Subjects should be relatively specific, i.e. a specific monster or monster type, a specific type of potion (if trying to learn how to make one). "Magic" would not be a suitable subject, as it is too broad. Knowledge skills should never lend combat bonuses (like +1's, etc.), but they may give knowledge of certain monsters' strengths and weaknesses.
  • I'm thinking 4 in 6 should be the maximum level of any knowledge skill, at least until the PCs are rather high level.
  • The referee can of course modify any of these rules based on the circumstances at hand. For example, some very obscure arcane study that has a big payoff could require 4 weeks of successful research and significant monetary investment in order to gain but a single point of knowledge in that area. These are just meant as loose guidelines as a means for rewarding players that take the time to develop their characters in this way.

Here are some example subjects that PCs have already acquired books for that I would allow them to develop knowledge skills in:
  • appraising art and fancy furnishings
  • fishing
  • ecology of oozes/slimes/jellies (would give a chance to know strengths and vulnerabilities)
  • beginning magic for the mentally challenged (successful study and a minor monetary investment could perhaps lead to the learning of a random 1st-level spell or perhaps a cantrip).
  • first aid (ability to make minor poultices, etc.)

Here is the read languages table I use, borrowed from Greyhawk:

Thoughts and criticisms are always welcome!

My Late and Crappy Christmas Present for Gamers

Here are my crappy, nigh unintelligible maps from the delve into castle dundagel that occured on 12/23/11. The only other reference to this delve I am aware of is HERE. I don't even know which tower we went into, but perhaps other players can shed some light on that.

We didn't find any treasure on this route at all, so perhaps this will at least accelerate a future expedition's chances of getting to the good stuff. We couldn't do much to the gold spider, but a flask of acid sent it scrurrying off. Also, always remember: rats hate fire.

Because fucking FLAILSNAILS

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Outland Session 1

24 0-level noobs arrived in the land of the two suns this past evening to try their luck at one of the many fine adventuring locations Outland has to offer. At the Inn Between Worlds, they were able to survey a crude map carved into the table by some other crazy adventuring types that had come before them, and learn a bit about the immediate surrounding area.

After acquiring a small loan at a 100% per two days interest rate from Calbraith the Legitimate, they equipped themselves modestly with some spears and a few suits of leather and headed north, to investigate the spooky manor house that was reportedly burned down by a previous adventuring party. A recent trade caravan had returned from that direction a few days prior and claimed it was still standing, so they decided to check it out.

Upon arrival, there was no evidence whatsoever of a fire. A rock was thrown at the door from a good 60 yards, and a devilish figure in a tuxedo, reminiscent of Satan himself, opened the door and bade the group to enter, and offered to take their coats. After doing so, he faded from view as if some sort of apparition.

The group of course jumped on the opportunity to raid the coatroom, and were rewarded for their efforts with a bit of gold and some fine outerwear.

The rest is hard to make out from their drunken ramblings, but there were bits of information concerning a bathtub filled with blood that contained a cursed sword and someone's wedding ring, a magic mirror that sucked in Bleat, the poor dwarven goatherder, and releasing some other grateful young woman who quickly fled the scene. There was also some banter about a painting they boosted, picturing a group of werewolves playing poker, and a dozen skeletons seated for a grand feast, one of which was relieved of his gem-studded iron crown by a nimble-fingered hobbit.

Three of the PCs caroused, all failed their saves, and each of the three were involved in some sort of mixup about where it was acceptable to take a leak in the middle of the night. Luckily, each of them were able to talk their way out of any fines that might have been imposed.

The expedition could be called a great success, with only one PC lost, and they earned enough money to pay back the loan shark and free the one poor fellow of his newly acquired cursed sword. The party was feeling so generous that they carved their makeshift map of the parts of the manor they explored into the adventurer's table at the inn.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Outland OD&D Character Sheet

Here is the "official" Outland OD&D character sheet (at least until I decide to change it).
Click HERE for the PDF.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Come Have Some Adventures in Outland

So I finally got up off my butt and I have most of the pieces in place. The official start of this campaign will be Monday night, December 19th, 6:00pm to 9:00pm CST.

System: OD&D+Chainmail (hacked and bastardized, of course)
Setting: Outland - Newly discovered region of your stereotypical D&D planet. You can play as orcs and goblins and go fight things that aren't orcs or goblins.

There are two components to this new "campaign".

The Game Store Game
Beginning December 19th, and every other Monday thereafter, the game will be run at Unique Gifts & Games in Grayslake, IL from 6:00pm to 9:00pm CST. I am willing to handle up to 10 players. Sign-ups are encouraged, but not required, as long as there are less than 10 players.

Upcoming Dates for the Game Store Games

The Google+/ConstantCon/FLAILSNAILS Game
Beginning December 26th, and every other Monday thereafter, the game will be run online via Google+ hangouts from 10:00pm to 12:00am CST (Tuesday 4:00am to 6:00am GMT). To get added to the list of players that will be randomly selected each week, just shoot me an email at aplus/86erz/org with your FLAILSNAILS PC's class, level, and system he/she was created under. I will do the player selections on Tuesdays. Currently, PCs from any D&Dish systems will be accepted, but I will attempt to have the PCs near each other in level. If we happen get a group that is interested in it, we can do zero-level play, which is a ton of fun in it's own right.

Upcoming Dates for the Google+ Games

I've made a sad attempt at documenting my house rules and that sort of thing, or at least all the info you'd need to create a new zero-level PCs and advance them to actual 1st-level PCs with classes. It's basically LBBs with a touch of Greyhawk, ascending AC, Chainmail combat (I will switch combat systems from fight to fight depending on my mood because I'm like that), and a few other oddities thrown in for good measure. You can click on the "Outland OD&D Game" link at the top of the page if you are interested in that sort of thing, but it certainly isn't necessary. I'll address anything important as needed before or during play.

Hope to see you there, and please let me know if I've forgotten anything...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

World of Pathfindercraft

Got this in my mail this morning:

Paizo Licenses Pathfinder MMO Rights

Not sure what I think about it at this point...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dirt Cheap Entry into Gaming

I happened upon this while wandering about Amazon. There apparently is a glut of D&D 3.0 PHBs for less than a dollar. Add in the standard $3.99 shipping for used books on Amazon, and you are still below the $5.00 mark.

Anyways, I just thought it might be a good way to get like 4-6 books and start a new group up. I think Zak has shown us that we needn't be afraid of d20 D&D, and you can make it as simple or complex as you like.

I recently got back my 3.0 rulebooks that were out in limbo in one of those perma-borrow situations. After having played Pathfinder for a while, I was very surprised to see how low-power these rules were when held up against Pathfinder. Wizards have d4 hit dice, barbarians start out being able to rage once a day instead of like a bajillion times, etc. Plus 3.0 seems to have less focus on the use of miniatures than 3.5 (seems that way to me - not sure if it's really true).

Anyways, I just thought I'd pass along the information in case anyone wanted to take advantage of a superb deal.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Help Bail Out the Warden!

For those of you not already in the know, Jim Ward was recently hospitalized and underwent triple bypass surgery. Some of the particulars are discussed in his thread at Dragonsfoot.

Jim has a lot of medical bills to deal with, and his good friend Tim Kask has set up a fund to help defray these costs. This morning I donated $100.00. Now, understand that I'm not looking for a pat on the back or anything like that. I'm just hoping to encourage more people to do the same.

Over the summer, my little cousin and I had the pleasure of playing in a Metamorphosis Alpha campaign run by Jim at Lake Geneva Games. Running this game for a group of strangers is something Jim just did out of the kindness of his heart and his love of gaming. I learned a ton from playing with him over those summer months, and I'm really looking forward to the day those games can resume. He always put up with my cousin's antics - eating every color jello cube, terrorizing the tourists on the beach of the resort level after he got turned into a wolf, trying out equipment over and over again, regardless of how many PCs he splattered on the walls. Jim never said, "Hey you dummy! Stop doing that!" He just smiled and patiently let him feel things out, handing over a new blank character sheet whenever it was needed (in one 3-hour session he went through 4 PCs!).

Jim also taught me that good D&D players bring goodies (cookies, donuts, etc.) to share with the group. And he didn't teach me that by telling me. He taught me that by doing it himself.

I could go on and on about how awesome of a dude Jim is, but the main thing is he needs some help, and I consider him a friend. I have an extra brand new copy of the OSRIC hardcover sitting around (the Black Blade one), and I will send it to the first person who matches my $100.00 donation and emails me a screenshot of the confirmation email. I will pay for the shipping as well.

Thanks in advance to anyone who helps out, even if it's just a few bucks.

Here's the link to the site where you can donate: Friends of Starship Warden

Monday, November 14, 2011

Phantasmal Feces

We got a chance to throw together a quick ad hoc D&D game yesterday, so the PCs entered the amazon caves for a brief expedition.

They got a random encounter of 5 carnivorous flies, so my sister cast Phantasmal Forces to create a giant illusory pile of shit, which occupied most of the flies and turned a potentially difficult fight into a trivial one. She appropriately named it Phantasmal Feces.

I thought it was pretty awesome.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Caught the ConstantCon Bug...

Warning: This is a stream-of-consciousness post, and may be incoherent or hard to follow at times. I got up 4 hours earlier than normal, so bear with me...

Having played in Jeff's game the past two weeks, and playing in Evan's game tomorrow, I've pretty much decided it's time for me to run a ConstantCon game myself.

On a side note, Jeff is awesome because he always positions himself in front of the camera with his eyes peeking over the bottom edge like Kilroy, just as if he were looking over a DM screen.

So then the only question becomes what to run?

My latest fetish has been with OD&D+Chainmail. I can't explain it, but I've just been finding rolling the handfuls of d6s very rewarding and more fun the the old single d20 roll.

I think I could make this work, although it might be weird to people at first if they've never done it before.

The setting I really want to run is a big, weird city with lots of dungeons underneath it. Let's say six dungeons of six levels each to start with. Of course if you are in one part of the city, and the dungeon you want to go into is on the opposite end, it will probably take a good bit of work just getting across the city. This will probably leave out wilderness adventures for the most part, but between the potential city and dungeon adventures, there should be plenty to keep people occupied.

This will have the added benefit of allowing me to play with my friend that moved to Atlanta last year.

Here are some more random thoughts about this game, which is still a zygote at this point:
  • The city is tentatively called Licentia, the City of Six Sides (it is hexagonal in shape). It is loosely based on a published product that probably no one reading this would be familiar with. Even if they were, it wouldn't really matter because there isn't a great deal my version shares with the original beyond shape and general feel.
  • The city is divided into six "districts". Here are the ones I whipped up, subject to change and/or better names - Dreams, Devils, Portals, Golems, (need a few more as well). ConstantCon needs a Multiversal Bazaar, so might as well have it here.
  • Shit, we got a Portals district, so we can do anything, really! Carcosa and Cykranosh are definitely fair game. Maybe a portal to the Land of the Lost and New Jersey as well.
  • I like funky classes. The Land of Nod magazine always has some cool classes in there, so consider those fair game in my game.
  • If you have a FLAILSNAILS character you really like, you should think about it long and hard before you come here. I give out lots of treasure, but I also have no problem killing/maiming/mutating characters.
  • I'll could potentially fuck up other DMs' games depending on their disposition. Check with your DM before you come back from my city with a lightsaber or pet otyugh. They might not dig that.
If this is something you might be interested in, I'd love to hear what you think. Am I getting in over my head?

P.S. - So far it looks like Monday nights 10:00PM - 12:00AM CST. Probably every other week.

cliffside view

what lies below

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Here, take this trap...

I rarely create my own traps, since I have a crap imagination, but I made this one and I thought it was pretty cool and worked well in play, so here you go.

The setup: A mostly-empty 30x40 room with a door. When the door is opened, a single torch set in a sconce on the opposite wall lights up - as the players said, "like a refrigerator light." This is just a gimmick to draw attention to the thing.

The torch itself is obviously magical. It is an everburning torch that can be set to ignite/extinguish when certain conditions are met, similar to magic mouth.

What isn't so obvious, is that the sconce is also magical. It is styled to look like a hand holding the torch. Mine was made of stone, but it could be anything, really. Most notably, the ring finger bears a gold ring with a large gem set in it (say 1d6x1,000gp or so). Close inspection will also reveal a small nozzle sticking out under the hand.

Directly beneath this thing is a 10x10 pit trap in the floor, which could be detected by anyone crouching down and examining the floor beneath the torch/sconce.

There should probably be one other thing somewhere in the room, well clear of the pit trap. This creates the possibility that the party will split up, with some messing with the torch/sconce, while the others mess with the other thing.

Here's how it works: The torch can be removed from the scone without issue, but in order to remove the valuable ring, the sconce would need to be damaged or broken. If the sconce is touched at all, even with an item like a 10' pole, the trap is triggered, and the following things happen:

Round 1: The nozzle sprays a powerful sleeping gas in a 10x10x10 cloud. Save or get knocked out.

Round 2: The pit trap opens, dropping 20' (2d6 falling damage) into a pit filled with 6 inches of your flammable liquid of choice. The liquid is not deep enough to reduce any of the falling damage, but it sure is strong-smelling! Any characters that didn't get knocked out by the gas can make another save to grab the edge of the pit before plummeting down into it. Characters that were knocked out will be awakened by the fall.

Round 3: The magical sconce-hand opens up, dropping the torch into the pit and igniting the fire juice. It burns real hot, so its probably going to cause about 2d8 damage per round, or somewhere thereabouts. Whatever the number, it should be scary. A character might be able to catch the torch as it's falling before it ignites the liquid, but I would not present them with this option. They would need to think of it on their own. Even then, I'd probably make it a hard DEX check (3d20s - ALL of them equal or under dex score).

Handle escape to be consistent with how you'd normally handle such a thing. Personally, I'd say a round to get a rope set, provided one is available along with a grappling hook, and then the rope could be climbed at a rate of 10' round. Once they are 10' up, they take only half of the flaming hot damage.

The oil in there will burn for several hours, probably requiring the group to return the following day if they need to retrieve any items that may have been dropped in there. For double the fun, have the trap reset!

Zero-Level Chainmail-Style Fun

Saturday night we were supposed to have our Pathfinder game which is being run by my brother-in-law, but we were short 2 of the 4 players, so he didn't really want to run it. As luck would have it, I had just gotten my back issues of Fight On #6 and #7 the previous night, and I had read Jeff Rients' excellent article, "Holy Crap! I Need a Dungeon RIGHT NOW!" (in issue #6). It was a very good article that gave some great and easy-to-remember guidelines for creating a decent dungeon in no time flat.

I purposely didn't bring hardly any of my stuff with me, even though I usually do as a "just in case" measure. So all I had was one sheet of graph paper, my copy of Vornheim, a notebook with a few tables I had done up previously, and Labyrinth Lord and my Zero-Level rules on my tablet.

So, I took the opportunity to whip up a quick haunted house with 3 levels, had each of the two players "roll up" 6 0-level noobs, and we had us a nice little adventure!

This was the closest thing to total improvisation I have ever done, and it went really well. I did take about 45 minutes to put everything together, but they only made it through about a third of the content in the several hours we played, so it's safe to say I overprepped. Both commented on how much fun they had, and I think the whole thing did a good job of showing how you can have lots of fun with very few rules or character details.

For combat, they just rolled a d6 for each PC they had, and they would hit on a 6 with a makeshift weapon, or hit on a 5+ with an actual weapon like a sword. They had one room where they "activated" 4 zombies and 5 skeletons, and we were able to manage the combat very quickly and easily this way. Plus, there's just something gratifying about rolling handfuls of dice. I've been spending a lot of time lately reading about how to use Chainmail rules for OD&D combats, and this session showed me that it is something I really ought to pursue.

Once I got into the flow of things, I found it really easy to add little details on the fly that brought the thing to life. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Otherwise empty room with a fortune-telling machine ala Zoltar, from the movie Big with Tom Hanks.
  • Random encounter with three wolves was turned into three pet wolves with the clever use of a pound of bacon and a good reaction check. Minutes later, when they were sent into combat against ghouls, 2 of the 3 failed their morale checks and fled. Easy come, easy go!
  • Illusory place settings on a dining table in an early room had the players examining EVERYTHING they encountered thereafter through a mirror.
  • The players located an invisible coffin hanging from the ceiling in a room. The coffin contained a beheaded vampire with a stake in his chest that wasn't bothering anyone. They decided it would be a good idea to douse him in oil and set him on fire (after stealing his cape) inside the house, apparently forgetting that the manor was constructed of wood. It was getting late anyways, and they had gotten a fair amount of treasure despite never making it to the second floor. After getting back to town, they heard tale of a group of villagers that attempted to burn down the place 40 years prior, and found the place standing the next day as if nothing had happened. So, they can probably go back if they want to.

For your pleasure, here are my crappy maps and keys from the session:

top is the ground level, then the 2nd floor, then the "basement"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Another Take on Zero-Level Play

Here's my latest take on zero-level play.

Zero-Level Play

Each player starts with 4-6 guys, and you just roll on 2 tables for each guy and start playing. The rest gets fleshed out as you go along.

One thing thats nice about this is you don't get a situation where a player likes the high stats of one of his zero-level guys, so he decides to hide that guy in the back in order to survive to 1st level. In order to advance, you MUST PLAY THE GUY, and try stuff out that brings all of the abilities into play.

For combat, I figure I'd just use a d6 for each guy. A 6 is a hit for those guys with makeshift weapons like rolling pins and such. A 5 or a 6 is a hit for the guys that acquire actual weapons. Then it's simple for a player to just roll a handful of d6s for all his dudes.

I'll give an update if I ever get around to trying this out at the table, but I like it on paper.

Monday, October 31, 2011

OSR Search

This awesome dude called "Untimately" on the OD&D forums made up a custom search thingy that will search OSR blogs/sites. It's pretty rad, and you should use it.

OSR Search

Have a Rockin' Halloween!

A few old faves for the season...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Purchasers of Self-Published Products...

If you are like me and like to buy lots of self-published materials from the OSR dudes out there selling their wares... and you are also like me and prefer the Print + PDF purchase option... and they aren't offering that...

Do yourself a favor, and just ask. Often, the person(s) will be perfectly happy to send you a PDF (often for free) if you buy the print product.

Ask and you shall receive!

Tinkering with Classes

The other day, Jeff Rients made a post about this old Dragon magazine article that allows you to build custom classes based on the component pieces.

I have been reading that article and goofing around with the basic principles since I read it. I've done some slight reworking of it to fit my game better, probably taking away more than adding, and I think it has just what I need to break out race and class as two separate things for my B/X-ish Outland game.

I took the 400 base XP and split it among the four things everyone must pick - hit dice, fighting capability, weapon damage, and saving throws. For everything else, I just performed the math on the values so that all you have to do is pick what you want and add all the numbers up.

Here is a draft of my version, which includes a very drafty version of some alternatives to the cleric's turn undead. These alternatives (Channel Energy and Cure) are stolen from 3E and DCC, respectively.

Here are some rough samples I created using these as well.

Once I'm comfortable with the basics, it should be easy to add new things that players come up with.

The best part, is this will allow me to split out race and class. Then I can have races with very simple bonuses, and if there's a race with something a little bit too special, we can just tack an XP value onto it. I like that the Labyrinth Lord AEC attempted to do this, but I think their approach is overly complex. Here is just a snippet from that version:

Dwarves receive the following saving throw bonuses:
• +2 save versus breath attacks
• +4 save versus poison
• +4 save versus petrify or paralyze
• +3 save versus wands
• +4 save versus spells or spell-like devices

I just don't like that.

I'd do something more like this:
Humans - +1 to any ability score.
Dwarves - Infravision, +2 to saves against magic (no more special dwarf saving throw table, they just use the class one), and they know stuff about stone.
Elves - Immune to ghoul paralysis. Sometimes when they pass a secret door, it becomes limned in a weird green light. No one knows why.
Hobbits - +1 to all saves. 1 bonus luck point. Can throw or fire a stone as far as a short bow.
Tieflings - Darkness or Cause Light Wounds 1/day.
Orcs - Intimidate: make a medium strength check (2 of 3 d20s equal to or under STR score). Success causes the enemy to make an immediate morale check at -1. Usable 2/day.
Goblins - Infravision. Pick pockets.

Something like that. Then level limits could be removed as well. Just thinking out loud. Anyways, if you see any holes in my basic approach here, please let me know.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Labyrinth Lord AEC Spell Reference Booklets

I put together some spell reference booklets for the cleric and magic-user. The source material is the Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion, but I pulled out the IP and also fixed the spell entries that say things like "this is the same as the cleric spell, so go look up that one even though you are a magic-user".

The PDFs are interior pages only, so you will have to make your own covers for these booklets using your favorite copyrighted art. I would have included the one I made for myself, but the art I used is from a currently in-print book that is less than 30 years old, so I figured I'd try not to piss those people off.


Labyrinth Lord AEC Magic-User Spell Reference
Labyrinth Lord AEC Cleric Spell Reference

P.S. - If I ever get a player that plays a druid or illusionist, I might do those as well, but I don't see that happening in the near future.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Feast of the Gods

Adapted from one of the Arduin books (I forget which one).

This large golden platter is usually held by a statue in some deep, dark, and super-dangerous dungeon. At the foot of the statue is a plaque which reads in a long-forgotten tongue, something about eating if you believe the gods are on your side, etc. Read languages will easily decode the message, or possibly an intelligence check for a bard or some PC with a background in linguistics.

On the platter are three items - a loaf of wonderful-smelling bread, a large piece of juicy roasted meat, and an ornate chalice filled with a rich, dark wine.

Should the PCs be brave enough to partake of this feast, here is what happens.

Guidelines: There is only enough of each item to benefit (or screw over) one person. A single person may only benefit from one of the items.

For each item consumed, roll a d10. All effects are permanent.

1-3: Strength/Agility/Stamina (STR/DEX/CON) are reduced by 1d4.
4-10: Strength/Agility/Stamina (STR/DEX/CON) are increased by 1d4.

1-3: Personality/Intelligence/Luck (INT/WIS/CHA) are reduced by 1d4.
4-10: Personality/Intelligence/Luck (INT/WIS/CHA) are increased by 1d4.

1-3: PC loses 1d4 levels.
4-10: PC gains 1d4 levels.

Theoretically, one person will get screwed over, but of course it all depends on the dice gods. PCs should have at least a hint of what they are getting themselves into - perhaps rumors could be dropped in well beforehand. Just be sure you are okay with following through with it if a PC with bad luck loses 4 levels!

In our game, the level 5 cleric lost 3 points of Per/Int/Luck. The level 6 barbarian gained 4 points of Str/Agi/Sta. And the level 6 ranger leapfrogged to level 10!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Best Laid Plans...

We ran our Pathfinder/DCC mashup game last weekend, and I was really excited for it because we were starting on this 4-level dungeon that I completely stocked myself, and I had a lot of fun doing it.

One of the things I had in it was this:

I thought this was really cool, but the statue is on level 2, while the amazons are on level 4, so the PCs would have to put in some effort to be able to take advantage of this thing. Furthermore, the goal of their expedition into this dungeon is on level 3, so there is a very real chance they will get what they are there for and leave (which is probably the smartest thing - level 4 is pretty nasty). So I knew going in that this was one of those things that might not get used.

However, I failed to realize that as soon as they encountered the thing, they would smash it to see if there was treasure inside.


Well, who knows. Maybe they'll find the penis and decide to hunt down a make whole spell. Yeah, right!

Oh yeah, just to clarify, the amazon leader is wearing the thing like a strap-on. Maybe there is someone else out there with an equally disgusting mind that would like to use this? Go for it!

The Book of Vile Darkness

As time goes on, I get more and more comfortable taking stuff from any version of D&D (except 4th) and using it in my games. Back on Free RPG Day, I bought Monte Cook's 3E Book of Vile Darkness from one of my local game stores. I imagine it must have been quite popular at the time it was released (I wasn't playing then), because it's damn good. There are a ton of great ideas in here to kick the creepy factor up a notch. Here is one example:

Demonic Graft Machine: This machine is a mass of metal tubes, gears, arms, and wheels that turn and move silently. At the front of this machine, a wide iron plate fashioned into the form of a hideous face grins with a wide, open mouth. Through the mouth, the innards of the device are visible. The device is part machine and part demon, infused with fiendish essence and powered by evil magic. It is used to graft demonic additions onto the bodies of willing or unwilling victims.
Anyone that comes within 5 feet of the open mouth must succeed at a Reflex save (DC 15) or be grabbed by a tonguelike appendage and dragged into the machine.
Within the bowels of the machine, the victim’s body is sliced, burned, punctured, and torn. These operations deal 6d6 points of damage to the victim in 1 round. In the next round (if the character is still alive), demonic flesh and essence is added to the victim’s body, restoring 5d6 points of damage. On the third round, the character is spit out with a new demonic addition in place (roll on the following table).
d%: Demonic Addition
01–25 Left arm. The arm is long and flexible like a tendril, with a crude, three-fingered claw at the end. It functions as a natural weapon dealing 1d4 points of damage plus the character’s Strength bonus. Weapons used in the hand take a –2 penalty on attacks. Once per day, the arm can produce magic missile as the spell from a 5th-level caster.

26–55 Right arm. The arm is muscular and sinewy, with a clawed hand. The arm confers a +2 inherent bonus to Strength. As a natural weapon, the arm deals 1d6 points of damage plus the character’s Strength bonus.

56–70 Thick and muscular legs. The character gains a +2 bonus to his Constitution score.

71–85 Slim and agile legs. This addition increases the character’s speed by 10 feet when not wearing heavy armor or carrying a heavy load. The character gains a +5 competence bonus on Climb and Jump checks.

86–100 Familiar. Grafted onto the shoulder, back, stomach or hand, a demonic familiar is a small face with an evil expression. This face has Intelligence 12, Wisdom 9, and Charisma 6. If the character is a wizard, the face can teach him one new spell for every spell level he knows. If the character is a spellcaster, the familiar povides a +2 inherent bonus to the ability score that determines his bonus spells.

Now, this thing is obviously loaded with 3E mechanics, but the underlying idea is very simple to convert to any edition you happen to be playing.

Personally, I love giving PCs power that is clearly tainted with evil or some negative side effect, and seeing how they proceed. I also love mutating the shit out of them, so something like this is right up my alley. Currently, I have a half-elf cleric covered in hair from head to toe, a half-ogre barbarian with goat legs, and a female goblin with a moustache in my campaign (Thank you Dave Hargrave for your Whimsy Wine idea!).

But this thing is really cool. A trap spits out the victim with demonic modifications? I can almost guarantee that once the first PC comes out of this thing, the others are going to want to line up to go in voluntarily. I think I'll have to rule that the thing broke after one person goes through it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Adventures in Munchkinism

So my brother-in-law decided he wanted to run a drow noble campaign, using Pathfinder rules, and allowing everything on the Pathfinder SRD site. I'm thinking, this is crazy! He had us roll stats three different ways: 3d6, reroll 1s; 4d6 drop lowest; and d12+6. Then we could pick whichever set we liked the best and arrange to taste.

Thus, I set out to make the most broken character I could without putting forth too much effort. There is so much crap available, I'd still be sifting through feats if I wanted to really take it seriously. First, the stats. d12+6 gave me the best results, with the following scores: 18, 18, 15, 12, 11, 10. Two 18s! The drow noble modifiers are totally insane. +4 Dex, +2 Int, +2 Wis, +2 Cha, -2 Con.

Dex being the best, I went for a Dex-based class. Rogue seemed kind of lame, but I found a new class from the new Ultimate Combat book - THE NINJA! This class is totally broken. At level 2, I can already turn invisible as a swift action (meaning I can still move and attack in the same round). It's totally fucked. We played one session, and let me be honest, it was fun as shit. We're all supposed to be brothers/sisters from the same family, and we just came of age (86 years old) and are going to be sent to the drow school for learning devious shit. So for our first session, we did some trials. One was to pick a mushroom from a set of four and hopefully not die or get fucked up. I'm not sure what we were supposed to figure out, besides just guessing. Anyways, I got a crazy-ass bluff score so I faked eating the mushroom. I rolled shitty, so it didn't work, but I followed up with a use of my 1/day suggestion spell, to convince the test's administrator that I had in fact eaten the mushroom. At least that worked. I later found out the mushroom I picked was some crazy hallucinogenic kind, so later that night all our PCs split it and ate it, and promptly proceeded into the dungeons of our own house to pull monsters out of the cells and kill them for sport, while tripping.

I laughed my balls of the entire session, and was in tears once or twice. We decided to be the Black family. We have Joe Black (me), Jack Black, Frank Black, and I forget what my sister's was. I think next session, we will actually be going to the school. I expect lots of amazing fun, sort of like if completely immature superheroes were to attend whatever school Harry Potter went to.

Now for your pleasure, here is my completely overpowered level 2 character:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Loads of Free Fun

A few weeks back, I ran a sort of experiment. I wanted to run a level 1 Pathfinder adventure with level 0 DCC characters. I already had some copies of the free DCC RPG Beta Rules printed up, and I had picked up this free goblin adventure on Free RPG Day.

In order to make it a little more meaningful, I told the players they could each roll up 4 level 0 goblin dudes, and any survivors could become level 1 henchmen of their main characters in our Pathfinder/DCC frankenstein game that has been running for almost a year now. It was easy to fit this in plotwise with our ongoing campaign.

The adventure was a ton of fun. The module needs a little bit of adjustment to run for DCC, but I did it all on the fly without any problem.

The dares were especially fun, and since level 0 DCC characters don't get hardly jack for items, it is very worthwhile for the players to try. I think I killed like 5 PCs from the dares alone.

Here were the most memorable:

The very first dare, "Dance with Squealy Nord", where a character has to ride a piglet rodeo-style for three rounds (3 successful Agility checks, roll equal to or under Agility score on a d20). First roll was a fail, and the PC fell off the pig and died.

Hide or Get Clubbed: This is the goblin version of hide and seek. The dare-taker rushes off into the marsh without any weapons and attempts to find a good hiding spot (I allowed the PCs to make two checks - d20+agi mod and d20+int mod and take the better result for their hide check). The other goblins try to find him, and if they do, the finder is allowed to whack the previously hidden goblin with a club. Once the goblins start looking, roll 1d10 to determine how many goblins come close enough to the hiding goblin to attempt –1 Perception checks to notice the hiding goblin. (Rolled a 10 and the first one found him.) If a goblin finds the hidden goblin, the resulting club strike automatically inflicts 1d4–1 points of damage. (BAM! DEAD! HAHAHAHHAA!) If no goblins find the hidden goblin, he wins a loan of the mystical Ring That Lets You Climb Real Good (a ring of  climbing).

After the dares, there's just one encounter on the way to the target. (Note that the adventure references the Pathfinder Bestiary, but you can get the needed stat blocks for free at if you don't have the actual book.) This is a relatively straightforward encounter against a big spider. Probably one or two guys will die depending on initiative. I made certain to explain the obvious trail back to the spider's lair after the fight so the PCs could pick up a few more mundane weapons.

Then, the final part, which really needs to be toned down unless you don't care about having a TPK. There is a wasp swarm trap, which the PCs will find impossible to kill off once triggered using Pathfinder swarm rules, since they are immune to normal weapon damage. Additionally, the druid at the end can summon a swarm (and she should!), which can be very deadly, potentially killing up to 4 PCs per round, but that one only lasts 2 rounds.

By the end, only 2 PCs remained from the 16 we had at the beginning. One of the players took a body part from one of his deceased 0-level dudes that he was particularly fond of, in order to have his main character get him resurrected someday. (Awww, how sweet.)

In summation, this session was a big hit with the players, and we spent most of the session laughing our asses off, which is how it should be. I highly recommend trying this combo, as the silliness of DCC 0-level play and this particular adventure complemented each other perfectly.

Monday, September 19, 2011

B2: Outpost on Outland

Zak with porn stars made a pretty good post about B2 as a one-page dungeon. Since a lot of the work I've been doing with Outland is very similar (although still not as lightweight as his stuff), I figured I'd take the opportunity to say, "Look at me! I'm smart too!"

Outland has barely anything to it right now. This is by design. For me, Outland is somewhere I can dump any idea I have and have it fit in okay. It's kind of meant as a remedy for my gamer ADD. If I get bored, I can just drop in a few hexes of whatever it is that is catching my fancy at the moment, whether it be space aliens, colorful dinosaur-riding men, wicked fey munchkins, the traditional huge ruined pile, a haunted house, castle amber, you name it. In case you are curious, the entire concept of Outland was sparked from this fine piece of work. I hope that guy starts posting again. I really enjoyed his stuff.

The basic framework I've started with and am building upon is of course B2: Keep on the Borderlands. The only thing is it's terribly organized and too wordy, so I'm basically rewriting it for my actual use at the table. I've changed the details, but the basic underlying framework is identical. Outpost of some far-reaching empire... check. Caves with a bunch of monsters... check. One of the things I've learned about myself is that writing stuff down makes it stick in my brain. Even if I'm running a module, I need to write down the important stuff myself, or I'll just forget it all. So I just figured since I'm doing that anyways, I'll just change everything.

The Last Outpost of the Undying Empire (a.k.a. The Keep)
So the keep is roughly the same, but it's crappier. It's surrounded by wooden palisades. Anyone riding a horse there gets their horse confiscated and slaughtered, since the beastmen can smell horses from miles away, and will mount a raid if they know horses are around. The place is watched over by Lord Something-or-other (it hasn't come up yet). There's guards, a sage, some shops, crappy tenements for the poorer folks, and nice apartments for rich visitors. Also a handful of undefined buildings in case I need them for something. The map stays in pencil in case there are changes I feel like making.

A lot of farmers are coming up here to farm the "blue tubers" that grow so well here. They are exported back to civilization for top dollar. No one knows why they're so popular amongst the nobles back home yet.

The Bell & Weasel, a dive bar outside the walls, has been the most popular place to party thanks to the tavern tables from Vornheim. An elf made it to level 2, only to get greedy and try to make some money by pit-fighting in the basement of that place. I just rolled a random encounter, and it was appropriately a pit viper, which he fought against and promptly proceeded to die. He made the first few saves, and came close to beating it, but fell just short.

The Outpost Hinterlands Wilderness Map
Here is the hex map, and you can see a lot of eraser marks on it already. The vast majority of it is still subject to change, as the only hexes that have been adventured in (not counting traveling) are 1014 (the keep), 0816 (the caves), and 1111 (Raid on Black Goat Wood). I love swamps, so I have to have a swampy spot in there, and I'm thinking of a Pembrooktonshire-style village up there by the lake, provided it doesn't get erased, but the thing is pretty wide open at this point, so the sky is the limit. I really like B4, so I may drop that in somewhere if I get around to giving it another read-through and jotting some notes. I'm also pretty certain that one of those forested hexes leads to X2: Castle Amber, a module I was very excited to run a few months back, but it didn't work out.

The Caves of Insert-Word-More-Evocative-Than-"Chaos"
Here's my version of the caves. First session yielded an air shark attack, which was pretty awesome. Can't wait for the Old Lady encounter to come up either. I have absolutely no idea what it is at the moment, so I'll be forced to think of something on the spot, which can be stressful, but it tends to yield fun results.

So far only the cyclops monkey nest has been fully cleared. It would make a decent base for anyone wishing to make some serious excursions into the caves, or the strange dungeon, the entrance to which was discovered in the back of the alien caves. I wish I could post the alien caves map, because I'm pretty fond of it, but it hasn't been fully explored yet.

Cave A: Cyclops Monkey Nest
I can post this one, since it's been fully cleared and the cave is now vacant (but for how long, no one can say). Anyone that's been paying attention to this blog for a while might notice a striking resemblance to a previous endeavor of mine. But, the players from my home group already did that version, so I had to switch it up a bit.   I wish I could nicely type up all my stuff with detailed notes and such for others to use, but honestly, it's boring as shit and takes 100x longer to do it that way versus just coming up with the idea and jotting down the rough notes like you see above.

At any rate, I got the opportunity to give (shameless name drop incoming!) Bruce Heard's cleric a cyclops eye mutation in these caves, and that was one of those awesome moments in gaming. He just gave me this weird, blank look, like, "What the fuck are you doing to D&D!?!?" No idea what was really on his mind, so we'll just have to see if he comes back to play a second session.

Now, I still have a few things left for me to refine in my games:

  1. I always bring way too much crap. I need to DRASTICALLY cut down the amount of materials I use in my games. My goal is a single Miscellaneum of Cinder-style booklet that has all the charts I use in one place, so I can stop flipping through literally a dozen books. And I would love to find a single monster book to rule them all, rather than the five or six I usually depend on. No, not Tome of Horrors, that's way too fucking big. I just got my copy of AC9: Creature Catalog in the mail today, and I'm hoping that will do the trick, at least for a while.
  2. I think I need to do more work up front regarding treasure. I fancy myself a monty haul guy (learned that from Jim Ward), but I've just been putting rolls on two-or-three-levels-higher-than-party-level treasure tables from Kellri's Encounters Netbook in my adventures, and they haven't yielded the magic item wealth I was hoping for. At a minimum, I think I need to just put rolls on magic item tables specifically in rooms, rather than waiting for them to come up on the treasure tables.
  3. I need a better way to organize my NPC notes. They always end up scattered all over the place. Hasn't been an issue so far, but as more and more play happens, I'll begin to lose track of things.
  4. Probably a bunch of other stuff, but those first 3 have been the biggest annoyances so far.
So there you have it. This is my creative-outlet-for-an-uncreative-guy thing I've been doing, and I've been having a lot of fun with it. If you made it this far, congratulations! I never read anyone's blog posts about their personal campaigns if they are this long, so I try not to write this kind of stuff myself, but I just felt compelled to do this one. If you read the whole thing I hope you got something out of it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Outland House Rules Booklet (Draft)

I finally got my Outland house rules booklet about 99% done. I just need to put in the credits to all the people I got art and ideas from, and figure out how to get that damn Quentin Caps font embedded on the first page. If it's something you think you might be interested in, feel free to take a peek and let me know what you think.

click for link to download

This was inspired by the work of Jason Vey, Jimm Johnson, and includes many of my favorite house rules by OSR dudes around the globe. It represents the vision of my personal "perfect D&D" (although that's certainly a moving target, and there's always room for more!)


P.S. - I will update it as soon as I get the final kinks out as well.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Outland Sorcery

"The Hand" by Miguel Santos (pictishscout on deviantart)

Here is my first draft of B/X-ish sorcery, which is being introduced not as a new class, but as an alternate magic system that standard magic-users can opt into.

Outland Sorcery
At any time, a magic-user may choose to abandon the traditional study of magic and pursue the dark sorceries that are so prevalent in Outland. This decision is permanent, and gives the sorcerer the following benefits and limitations.
Spells no longer need to be memorized. A sorcerer can cast any spell he knows at any time, but he must make a spell check to do so (roll 2d6). The effects will depend on the result of the check. Thus, the sorcerer is sacrificing the reliability of the traditional magic-user for the flexibility of sorcery.
  • Spell Fumble:
  • On a result of 2, the casting results in a critical failure. The sorcerer takes 1d6 subdual damage from the backlash per level of the spell. Additionally, there is a 10% chance of corruption per level of the spell. Roll a d10, and if the result is equal to or less than the level of the spell, a corruption occurs. The referee will let you know the nature of the corruption. Corruptions are generally permanent, but it is rumored that some sorcerers have successfully sought out ways to remove corruptions which they found to be particularly bothersome. If such a method exists, it certainly won’t be cheap.
  • Failure:
  • If the result on the table indicates an F, the spell is lost and cannot be cast again until the following day after the sorcerer has rested.
  • Delayed:
  • D indicates that the result of the spell is delayed, and will not take effect until the following round. If the caster is hit by a missile or engaged in melee before the spell goes off, the spell is treated as a failure.
  • Immediate:
  • An I indicates that the spell goes off immediately.
  • Spell Critical:
  • A result of 12 is a critical success, and the spell will have an increased effect, as determined by the referee.

To give credit where credit is due, this is influenced by Chainmail, the excellent work of Jason Vey in his Age of Conan and Forbidden Lore OD&D supplements, and the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.

I would also like to have rules for sacrificing money/animals/people to get bonuses to spell checks (I really like Jason's rules for this, as outlined in his Secrets of Acheron supplement IIRC). I think a Summon Monster ability would be a nice touch as well. Actually, there are a million things I'd like to add, but I'm trying to keep it small enough to fit on a single digest-sized page, so I have to decide what's really important. I suppose I could always add complexity in the game through tomes or magic items, which is a strategy I've become quite fond of lately.

Anyways, I'm curious to know if anyone has any thoughts on the matter - good, bad, or indifferent.