Thursday, August 25, 2016

Under the Blood Red Moon

If you're a huge C&C fan, and you missed this, I'll be happy to send you my copy. Just drop me a comment and it's yours.

Under the Blood Red Moon is the Free RPG Day adventure from Troll Lord Games for Castles & Crusades and Amazing Adventures, their pulp/modern RPG game.And it really is just the same adventure twice. It even uses the exact same 4 room dungeon map on page 5, and it isn't an interesting map either...

From the back cover:
A sword and sorcery adventure!

Matyas is an old man. A long life of adventure has left him satisfied and ready to pass to the Arc of Time and meet his patron, Toth, the Shadow of the All Father. Satisfied, but for one last task. It is in his mind to make a final sacrifice to Toth by placing a magical parchment, reputed to hold the cure for lycanthropy, beneath an Altar Stone of the Temple of Toth. But this is easier said than done, for the Temple is over-run with evil and he is too old to undertake the task. So he turns to his kin, asking one to gather their friends and make this sacrifice for him!

Across the Gulf of Space & Time

An adventure of modern design!

An ancient temple has been unearthed and rumors abound that beneath its Altar Stone is a parchment of amazing power. Reputed to cure lycanthropy, Richard Wilkins, a wealthy industrialist and humanitarian has hired a group of adventurers to bring it to him. He’ll spare no expense, for his need is pressing, Hilda, his daughter has the dread affliction, and without it she’ll be doomed to a nightmarish life. But the Temple is guarded and bringing the ancient parchment out won’t be as easy as they think!

This is very much a quick-start adventure that can be played in 1-2 hours, depending on how much explanation of the game the players need. There's some combat, a tiny bit of problem solving, and a lot of boxed text and no art aside from the cover.

Granted a quick-start adventure is going to have limitations, but this really fails to be anything other than painfully pedestrian, and worse, fails to take advantage of the fact that both adventures take place in the same dungeon years, eons, ages, maybe universes apart. There's really no excuse for that!

In short, if you've ever played an RPG... ever... skip this. It isn't worth your time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


For Free RPG day, the one thing I really wanted was the Lamentations of the Flame Princess release SLÜGS!

Why? Primarily because their releases tend to be leaps and bounds better than anything else that's sold, let along given away. Not just in production quality, but in the writing and design. While SLÜGS! isn't quite up to the same high marks as Better Than Any Man or Doom Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children, it does show how LotFP is willing to push what is and isn't acceptable or expected, or even usable!

The other reason I wanted it? This ad, which I thought was going be the cover.

Why would I want that? Why wouldn't you!! Okay, so mostly I'd want it just for the shock value of people seeing it on my shelf.  Turns out though that this is the cover.

Not bad... But not nearly as exciting to see on the shelf. 

What is SLÜGS!? It's a monster guide focused on... slugs. Yes, shockingly, it's all about slugs. Slugs of all shapes, sizes, and descriptions. Why is that exciting? Because you get some really weird slugs in this book.To start with, you get the Acid Slug. No, it doesn't spit acid that burns you, it secretes acid that sends you on a groovy trip, man!

How about the Love Slug? There's some adult art in the back of the book that covers that one.

Slugatron, the giant transforming robot isn't really a slug, but he transforms into the shape of one.

That's just 3 of the dozen slugs in this thin volume, and each gets it's own bit of artwork. In fact, this book has more art than monsters, and it's all great!

How often are these slugs going to show up in my games? Rarely, but some of them absolutely will. More than that, is the inspiration to push the bounds of what is usual in my games. From the usual perspective, how interesting are slugs? Even giant ones? Not very. But with a little twisted imagination, you can make anything interesting.

Oh, and the introduction is a beautiful piece of work, and worth picking up just for that. But what I'm going to quote from the book is in the afterword:
"Be free in your fun, wild in your imagination, and fuck 'em if they can't take a joke." James Edward Raggi IV
Wise words to game by!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad was the first DC comics movie that I was actually interested in seeing in a long time. It looked, from the trailers, like it would be DC's answer to Guardians of the Galaxy, a wisecracking band of misfits and ne'er do wells thrust together mostly against their will to do something good.

And I suppose that's what it was... but it was a piss poor answer that felt crafted by a committee.

In so many ways it was almost good, and then it shot itself in the foot. Moments what clearly could have been great if they'd been built up better, rather than just being tossed out as if the director was saying "look how clever and sassy these characters are!"

The movie starts out by introducing the cast. Will Smith with guns, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Pyro the Peaceful Gangster, and a guy who throws boomerangs. Oh, and then, when the team's put together, they add a guy who climbs things and gets no back story. He's killed off pretty quickly to show that the military guys pulling the strings aren't afraid to off the team, in a move so telegraphed it was painful.

Will Smith's character Deadshot unfortunately plays as... Will Smith with guns. I never got the feeling he was doing anything different to give the character a personality distinct from his own, and the way he was used in the movie was very much "Look! It's Will Smith!"

Margot Robbie's Quinn suffered from her wardrobe. And I get that Quinn weaponized her sexuality, but there was some actual interesting acting going on from her. I wanted more of that, but it seemed like every time she started to really get into it they decided to pull her back, rather than letting her run with it. It could have been a much more interesting movie if the focus had been more on her, and less on her booty short clad ass. 

Boomerang guy had a thing for unicorns... which was explored much better (you know, at all) in Deadpool. Uh... aside from that, he was there? 

Killer Croc growled and looked impressive.

Joker is around too, mostly being crazy and trying to get Quinn back, and really being in the movie too much... and I like this Joker. Jared Leto does a solid job, and the laugh is pretty much perfect... but... this isn't his movie. Sure, being in the flashbacks worked, but the whole rest of his story line could have been cut. It would have made the narrative much tighter.

And Katana and her magical... katana... was in it for some reason. 

The villains... I mean antagonists? were the government agents, and their pet ancient goddess who runs amuck.

And in the end, I was very glad I went to see it during a matinee. I was glad I saw it, mostly cause I could then write this blog post, and complain about it with my friends. Beyond that? It really wasn't worth it.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Terrain: Mausoleum & Grand Stairs

Forgot to take a WiP of it all scribed up with stonework. You'll have to wait a bit to see what it looks like. I tried to be a little more interesting with the steps, but I'm not really thrilled with the results.

The Mausoleum for the Frostgrave scenario. 6x6 inches with a door in the center of each wall. I decided to have some fun scribing the panels along the roof.

Still thinking about adding some more decoration to it, just a bit to liven it up.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Stonehell: Flailing Around

Session 16 was played on 7/29

Wilhelm, drunk Dwarf 3 (Julia)
-Hammond, war dog
Frank, halfling 1 (Emily)
Yaqen, elf 1 (Shaun)
9 Hirelings & 1 dog

Stayed in town
Tink, a pretentious Elf (but I repeat myself) and former barkeep (Hanna)
Shelly, a vegetarian recovering alcoholic halfling Thief 3 (Nadia)
Tobias, Cat, Cleric 1 of Persephone (Mollie)
Leroy, human fighter 1 (Mike)

Wilhelm, after deciding that it was time to make a real effort to get the flail and return Tobias to his original shape once again gathers some of his friends to head back into Stonehell. Knowing that an elf would be vital to the success of the mission, he goes searching for Tink, but instead finds Yagen (Yak-en) sitting bleary eyed in the morning light outside one of the rougher taverns. With a shrug he joins in.

The party enters the dungeon, and makes it to Rocky's room. However, as they were unable to think of any good questions, they passed by without visiting. As they did so, a long wet thing snapped out of a side corridor toward one of the torch bearers. It missed, and the whole troop charged in at the giant toad, killing it swiftly. Into the quiet halls, they turned to the southern crypts. Bursting forth from the first set of doors, 5 things made of shadow and dust surged forward. Everyone ran back to the pillar room, and seeing the shades following, turned deeper into the halls, heading toward the northern crypts.

Rushing past doors, the monsters within barely registered the party's presence before they'd all rushed by. While they managed to outpace the shades, they were relentless, and now were backed up by a large collection of ghouls and skeletons! The hallway opened up into a large room, at the far end of which was a large statue of a shrouded woman bearing a flail in each hand. The one on the right glinted golden in the light. Unfortunately there were no other exits to the room, and another half dozen skeletons slept fitfully in their eternal rest.

To say things didn't look good is an understatement... Wilhelm ordered his hirelings to HODOR! I mean, hold the door... while he ran for the statue. Yagen, Frank, and a couple of the hirelings who weren't keeping the undead in the hallway at bay moved to engage the ones already in the room. Wilhelm grabbed the flail then sprinted back to the doorway to pass it off to Hodor, who proceeded to crit on a specter, blasting it to nothing.

Over more than 8 rounds of combat every combat hireling was dropped, as were Frank, Hammond, and Yagen. One ghoul made it past the bottleneck charging into the center of the room toward the torchbearers. In spite of it's 2HD, and 3 attacks, it only managed to scratch the poor man. With his adrenaline pumping, not only did the ghoul's touch failed to paralyze him, but he then proceeded to beat the ghoul's head to pulp with his torch.

In the end, it was Wilhelm with his flaming dagger and the 2 torchbearers left standing. Gathering the fallen who still lived, the party shuffled back toward the entrance, peeking their heads into the open and empty crypts.

Gains: Golden Flail!
Losses: Some hirelings
Kills: So many...

Friday, August 12, 2016

Stonehell: Bone Things

Session 15 was played on 7/8

Wilhelm, drunk Dwarf 3 (Julia)
-Hammond, war dog
Tobias, Cat, Cleric 1 of Persephone (Mollie)
Shelly, a vegetarian recovering alcoholic halfling Thief 3 (Nadia)
Leroy, human fighter 1 (Mike)

Stayed in town
Tink, a pretentious Elf (but I repeat myself) and former barkeep (Hanna)
Frank, halfling 1 (Emily)

Wilhelm manages to gather up a number of his earlier companions and heads back to the dungeon to try to recover the golden flail to restore Tobias to his original human form. They stop by to visit Rocky, and ask about where the fairies took their gold, where the golden flail could be found, and where Mal Nul was hiding. The answers were less than specific.

They then pressed on into the quiet halls, where a wandering clatter of skeletons came upon them. Tobias turns them with ease, sending them running back into the darkness. They head down one of the crypt halls off of the pillar room, and immediately run into problems. More skeletons and a ghoul come out to play dropping 2 of the hirelings and Wilhelm. Wilhelm and one of the hirelings survives, but the other had his throat ripped out.

Further down in the dark a loud bang, and the rattle of lots of bones heralds the arrival of a large skeleton thing. It nearly fills the corridor, and seems to be made up of the bones of multiple beings all collected into some unholy monstrosity. Two hirelings are slammed aside, Tobias fails to affect it with his faith. Everyone else still standing leapt into the melee and broke whatever curse held it together through sheer physical assault (and Wilhelm's magical flaming dagger).

Leroy, Shelly, Wilhelm, and the last 2 standing healthy-ish hirelings, after bandaging up everyone else who was still clinging to life, checked out the next crypt. It was full of about a dozen large rats. Easy pickings... Sort of. The rats were vicious but ultimately exterminated. Shelly field stripped them, and took their pelts. Wilhelm took a lucky rat's paw.

Given everyone's injuries, it was decided to camp out in one of the (now) empty crypts. This would have gone better if 5 giant centipedes hadn't started crawling across the sleeping party. Their startled cries and sudden movements shocked the bugs, causing them to attack the apparent threat. Shelly, Wilhelm, and one of the hirelings were all bit and poisoned.

Deciding they'd had enough, they gathered their loot and dead and headed home. Wilhelm throws a riproaring party and wakes up at the end of it with almost a dozen hat boxes in his room at the inn, each containing a kinda fancy hat. The hirelings are given "I survived Stonehell" t-shirts and bonus of 200gp to divide among themselves.

Gains: 4,180gp worth of assorted treasure
Losses: 3(?) Hirelings
Kills: 3 skeletons (6 turned), 1 ghoul, 1 bone thing, 12 rats, 5 giant centipedes