Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Archmage's Octavo #2 Keroth's Bridge

Well, here it is... issue #2, and my entry for Tenkar's So You Want to be an OSR Superstar contest. Honestly, I didn't expect to make it to the final round, but I'm glad I did, and I think you will be too when you check it out.

This issue  contains a Swords and Wizardry Adventure with some hints of DCC, several new monsters, magic items, and 28+ keyed locations and a couple of random encounter charts, and a never before seen map collaboration between Matt Jackson and me!

I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, July 28, 2014

New Monster: Leeper Rat

“Leaping rodents of unusual size? I don’t think they exist.”

“What are you talking about? of course they exist.”

“Well I’ve never seen one.”

“Farmer Elsie Goodwin raises flying pigs.”

“They only glide, and only if they’ve got a big enough drop or the wind is blowing off the moors, which it almost never does.”

“Bil-bob harvests silk from those creepy arachno-goats of his.”

“What’s your point?”

“My point is that the world is a weird place. Last week there was the chaos cult trying to raise up some demon from hell. The month before Grandma Kells dug herself out of her own grave and went back to her house, and took up her knitting. My point is that leaping giant rats isn’t a stretch.”

“Well, ok, but leaping ROUS that also have a horrible wasting disease?”

Rat, Leeper: Init +4; Atk bite +2 melee (1d4+1 plus disease) leaping bite +4 melee (1d6+1 plus disease); AC 14; HD 2d6+2; MV 20' or Leap 40'; Act 1d20; SP disease (DC 10 Fort save or suffer 1 point of Con and Strength damage every day until healed), Leaping Attack (must be at least 10' away); SV Fort +6, Ref +4, Wil -1; AL N

While not the largest of the giant rat species, these 2’ tall rats are quite compact but with massive hind legs that they use to launch themselves at their targets. This impressive means of locomotion looks more like a bunny’s hop than a kangaroo’s gate. More terrifying than their aerial assault is the foul rotting disease their bite carries. They are usually found in packs numbering no more than a dozen individuals.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Gone Hiking, Contest Extended!

Since I’m heading off into the woods stupidly early Monday morning (on the road by 5am so I can be on the trail at sunrise) I'm not going to be around to pick a winner for my contest.

Remember the contest? Win one of the Free RPG Day modules in this picture!

All you have to do is e-mail me a random table. That's it. Then I'll pick the winners by putting each entry on a table, and rolling for the winners! Easy!

I was originally closing the contest Sunday at midnight, and then rolling for the winner on Monday, but since I'm not going to be around on Monday to roll, you get an extension! The contest is now open for entries until Friday at midnight!

So write up your random tables, and send them in!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Backpacking the Maryland Challenge

I’m heading off into the woods on Monday to tackle a 41 mile section of the Appalachian Trail from Pen Mar PA to Harpers Ferry WV… and then 41 miles back in a really ambitious 4 days. The total mileage is going to be something closer to 90 miles by the time I’m done. I expect that I’m going to have more to say about hex crawls, weather, and encumbrance after I get back!

I do have a couple of posts queued up, but don’t expect any replies to comments or e-mail for a few days.

What I’m bringing for 4 days/3 nights:

Hooded rain jacket
2 quick dry synthetic t-shirts
2 pair of shorts
6 pair wool socks
Hiking shoes
Baseball cap
Regular glasses
Plastic poncho

3 liter waterskin
1 liter UV water bottle
light sleeping bag
camp stove+steno
Cookpot, Cup, Spork
LED flashlight
Cell Phone
Solar Cell Charger
First Aid kit
Emergency Kit (Whistle, Rope, Compass, Mirror, Matches, Duct Tape)
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Walking sticks
Bug Spray
Trash Bag

8 power bars
6 packets of oatmeal
6 fun size candybars 
1 bag homemade trail mix
4 instant coffee packets
3 dinner packets

Total Weight: About 30lbs, of which about 1/3 is water.

In preparation for the trip I've reviewed a number of backpacking websites, read numerous accounts of the Maryland Challenge and the 4 state Challenge, as well as journals of various hikers who have attempted the Maryland section of the AT.

For the most part I was pretty buoyed by what I read, and feeling psyched about the whole thing. The instances where people dropped out of the Challenges were mostly due to injury, often really bad blisters. Since I’m not planning on trying to do all 40+ miles in 24 hours, I’m not too worried about that.

What I am worried about is being slow. There was one journal (http://www.cosmicsmudge.com/on-the-appalachian-trail-i-70-footbridge-to-harpers-ferry/) where it took the one guy 2 days to do 22 miles. In the second paragraph, there’s this line:

“Even if we finished the day at a brisk 2 mph pace (and that didn’t seem likely), we were facing at least a mile in the dark.”

A brisk 2mph?!?! Then again, it looks like he was carrying WAY more than is even close to necessary for an overnight hike.

Yesterday my sleeping bag and solar charger arrived, so I packed my pack to see how it looks/feels. I’ll be taking it out for a spin this weekend so I can get an idea of what my trip will feel like, and see what adjustments I’ll need to make to my packing.

I can already tell you that 30lbs is a lot of extra weight... off balance weight too. Having it all right behind you radically changes your center of balance. I'll be adjusting what I'm carrying, and how I carry it over the weekend. And even what I've got is around a third of what a soldier carries in the field! Yikes.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ancient Sagas of Everlance 6/29-7/13

This update covers sessions played on 6/29, 7/6, and 7/13. The current cast of character is as follows:

Brother Caswyn - Priest of Gloriana
Myshkin - Paladin
Beska - Wizard
Gifilte - Monk of love

Towerday, 27th Arist, 1096 md.

Like a bolt from the blue, sudden, violent, and foretelling stormy weather, Gloriana will light the path.

The people of Caer Brennau were greatly relieved to hear of our success. So much so that we’ve not had to pay for a meal or a bed or a drink. I’ve tried to turn some of this generosity to more worthy causes, but my massive hangover clearly indicates that at least last night I was not as successful as I might otherwise have been.

Gloriana has also very clearly indicated that she’s ready for me to get back to my work, and she delivered my next task right into our laps. Caravan guard duty. Unexpected, and even mundane, except for the fact that the Tample of Gloriana in the City of Cam has commissioned a statue from Olstat, a sculptor that lives here in Caer Brennau. Olstat will be traveling with the caravan as it makes it’s way north.

However, we weren’t hired to protect him, but rather to protect a young woman by the name of Kira, the daughter of Halmara the guildmaster. Kira is betrothed to some lordling in Cam.

Thunderday 29th Arist, 1096 md.
30th Arist, 1096 md.

Just as Gloriana stands among her divine brothers and sisters, so to must her followers stand with those who honor other gods, as long as the cause is just.

Two days on the road, and the only thing we’ve seen of Kira is her curtained carriage. No shock, since it turns out that she’s not actually in it. She was kidnapped (maybe) before the caravan left.

Severno, the caravan master, has asked Myshkin and I to ride ahead and see to the truth of the ransom note, and negotiate for her release. If there’s a good chance, try to rescue her.

Two passengers from the south will be joining us, a priest of the god of love named Gifilte, and a wizard named Beska. We ride in the morning.

1st Erstdain (first day of spring), 1096 md.

Gloriana’s anger is a cleansing storm. Once it is past, the world shines, as the offending skum has been washed away.

The day did not start out promising. Storm clouds hung low in the sky all morning, dark and threatening. We came upon a barrier in the road, a makeshift stop manned by 4 “tax collectors”. We killed 2, captured one and drove the last off. Not much further along some uniformed tax collectors received not only taxes, but the highwayman we’d captured, who had yet to actually regain consciousness. I fear I was a little… overzealous in the fight.

A short time later, still a couple of hours away from the Red Mug Inn (our destination for the night) the clouds delivered what they’d been promising. We made it to the inn looking like a pack of drowned rats. The curried owlbear chop and surprise stag essence ale almost made up for it.

2nd Erstdain, 1096 md.

Gloriana hold both sword and shield. Your duty is to protect as often as it is to attack.

The day was bright and clear, and after a filling breakfast, we followed the instructions on the note to the circle of oaks where we were to light two signal fires. However we found some tracks that lead off some distance, across a stream to an old ruin. Finding nothing there, we returned to the hill, and lit the fires.

A rider arrived after a time bearing a red flag with a yellow half moon. I spoke with him, he demanded 5000 gold for Kira’s release. I offered him 500. He rode off, saying he’d be back in 2 days with Kira, and that we’d better have the 5,000gp.

We followed him back to his camp, and found a well defended small fort. A quick count from a fair distance away suggested that there were at least a dozen bandits that we could see. We retreated back to the inn without being spotted.

We discussed trying to recruit some local muscle to roust the bandits from their hideout, but after some tentative inquiries, it seemed the bandits *were* the local muscle. We decided to return to the caravan and report our findings to Severno.

3rd Erstdain, 1096 md.

In the mud, blood, and gore following a battle is where you must prove your mettle to Gloriana.

More riding in the rain. Servano wasn’t thrilled with our report, but decided to pay, rather than risk the caravan in a rescue attempt.

4th Erstdain, 1096 md.

Most laws are of man, and bend like reeds. Gloriana’s law is like steel, and only bends to prevent the whole from breaking in the heat of battle.

The exchange was successful. The bandits were in force, but they kept their word. This whole experience sits with me like a bad meal. I will pass back this way, and the bandits will answer for their unlawful behavior.

5th Erstdain, 1096 md.

A glorious end is a mug of ale, and a sword hung above a warm hearth. Let your enemy die in battle.

Servano asked us to ride ahead to the next town to deliver a message to the outrider. We took the sealed envelope and headed out. After stopping for a quick lunch we were set upon by a great white reptile. My companions all were thrown from their horses as the beast charged. Gloriana smiled upon me, and I managed to not only keep my seat, but bring the mount around behind the lizard. Though I didn’t land a single blow, my presence, and the stamping of the horse proved enough of a distraction to allow my companions to bring the beast down.

As the weather was fine, and we’d made good time, we settled in for a true lunch of fresh steaks.

We arrived in Weeberry mid afternoon, and quickly found the Beggar and Rose Inn. Some yokel tried to pick a fight with me, and when that didn’t work, with another patron. I invoked the power of Gloriana to point out that this was a poor choice on his part.

While I was out for a walk, another trouble maker named Raylan asked us to retrieve a dagger from a goblin cave. He claimed the cave was on Artis Folcey’s land, a local farmer of bad temper. The serving girl said the land we were directed to belongs to Thale Gorfin, and she didn’t know any Artis…

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Prince Charming Reanimator @ Charm City Gameday

On Saturday 7/19, at the Charm City Gameday held at Games and Stuff, I ran +Daniel Bishop’s FT0 Prince Charming, Reanimator.

***This post contains spoilers***

Originally I had opened my table for 8 players. It filled, I got an e-mail asking to join in over the cap, and then had 3 cancel before the day. So when the game started, I had 5 players - Zach, Julie, Mike, Doug, and his daughter M. Everyone got 4 level-0 pregens. Unlike the last time, there wasn’t much time spent picking characters. A quick glance at the pile, and then grabbing 4 at random.

I gave the basic intro given, I asked them what path they’d like to use. They wisely chose the narrow path. No one was much interested in looking around outside the wall. (Note to self: have the PCs make a passive wisdom check to notice things). The bone strewn courtyard kinda freaked them out. They discussed heading straight for the inner keep but opted to check out the stables first.

It was about this point that Josh and Beth joined in. I really should have had the 5 other PCs give up a character each, and have everyone run 3 characters… Character deaths would quickly begin to whittle down their numbers anyway.

M had one of her characters enter the kitchen, once the hole was discovered. And, the vile drop crawler tried to eat her face. It failed, and unlike the last party that pulled back, there was a quick succession of characters crawling through the hole, popping up, taking a swing, and then getting shoved out of the way by the next character. One of the vile drop crawlers landed on a dwarf mushroom farmer, killing him instantly (first PC death of the morning). The number of missed attacks on that one landed on the poor dwarf’s corpse to the point where there wasn’t a whole lot left by the end of the fight.

One thing that cheered my old school heart, it only took them a moment to loot their companion’s corpse.

From the stable, they circled around the castle wall, checking out the collapsed tower, skipping Dr. Chadwick’s tower, and into the chapel. The party decided to all pray together, and I let them each roll once for their lawful characters. They also opted to leave the one farmer’s goose here until they found the princess.

The party then headed up to the upper courtyard, where the Hobyahs popped up out of the ground, and started attacking. Due to really good initiative rolls, followed by solid attacks, by the time it was the Hobyah’s turn, they were already down to half their number. I think I killed one or two PCs with the hobyahs. By this point the PCs had had enough, and were ready to find the princess.

One of the halflings went up to the keep door, and trying to look super cool, tried to push the door open/over one handed. This didn’t go well, and another character pointed out that the door opened out, not in.

Slamming my hand on the table was much less effective on a sturdier table.

The players divided up to search the great hall, discovering a fair amount of loot. The fairy princesses handed out the sword, shield and mirror. M’s characters (with the mirror) went straight up the balcony, and without waiting for the rest of the party threw open the door, and spied the pile of roses.

I was most impressed when she checked out the pile with the mirror. The rest of the part swarmed up the stairs and heroically charged the dragon. All except Julie’s characters, who, with the dragon distracted by the guy with the flaming sword, checked the doors to either side, first discovering the spinning room, then the room without the floor.

Again, super impressed when M ran over to look with her mirror, and saw the truth of the situation for herself.

The fight with the rose dragon… Ugh… I blame my dice. Multiple fumbles. Otherwise there would have been many more deaths before the flaming sword of truth wielding mercenary lopped the dragon’s head off. He put a rose on his lapel.

When it was suggested that maybe someone should try to kiss the princess before turning her over to Prince Charming, M (wisely) checked the mirror, thus ending all talk of kissing.

The party then took the princess to the chapel, and prayed for her. (Inventive, I liked it). The mercenary decided to head back for the gold from the spinning wheel. Of course I had him roll a agility check! And he failed, but made the save to only fall asleep. They collected him, and the princess, and returned the way they came.

Things with the Prince and Princess Aurora went was scripted, except the party decided not to heed the demon, and opted to attack the now undead princess. 1d16 damage didn’t even phase them.


2 attacks a round at 1d16 damage didn’t either.


Most of them chased her through the woods.

The halfling who stuck around the sleeping mercenary decided to take advantage of the chaos and snagged the prince’s syringe and box of 3 glowing blue vials. Like a dose of speed, he popped up, taking a hit on his physical stats. The halfling (little maniac) then stuck him twice more, using all of the prince’s serum.

I was flabbergasted.

All this going on while the rest of the party is beating down on the fleeing princess, and she’s killing on average 1 PC a round (usually whichever one was last to hit her). The PCs were helped by a trio of criticals (2 to the eyes!), but she just wouldn’t drop. The mercenary, took up the sword of truth, snagged the Shield of Truth, and stood toe to toe with the princess. This is about when the undead horde showed up, and most of the party was ready to flee. It probably helped that I reminded them that they had done more than twice the damage to the Princess than they'd done to the dragon, and she wasn't slowing down any that they could tell.

Josh (the merc’s player) engaged me in a whispered conversation, and then had the merc offer her his services.

0_o WTF?!?!?!?

And that’s where it ended. I had such a blast running this group through FT0. I told them that the group that gets to play FT1 isn’t going to be happy with their choices!

Mad props to Daniel Bishop for writing such an engaging scenario. If you're impressed (and you should be) go vote for FT0 for an ENnie under the Best Electronic Book category.