Friday, January 29, 2010

You found what in the wastes?

Random items encountered in the wastes
1.      Refrigerator with a body sealed in it.
2.      Childs rag doll with 4 legs
3.      Android head
4.      Pile of dung, a large pile of dung
5.      Abandoned Manthill
6.      Boat
7.      2 dead batteries
8.      Small cardboard box with a deck of cards (roll a d6 – 1 adult, 2 basic, 3 tarot, 4 most wanted, 5 1999 baseball set, 6 your favorite tv show)
9.      Diary
10.  Cat collar w/ id tag
11.  Case of shattered mugs w/ corporate logo
12.  Tool box w/ basic tools
13.  Garden shed/gazebo
14.  Exposed basement/foundation
15.  Acme safe (at least 5’ tall)
16.  Destroyed giant bee hive – human body covered in honey inside it
17.  Guinea pig colony – alive and well!
18.  Tall enclosed cart, filled with blue scrubs of various sizes, many destroyed by rodents
19.  Airplane tail (this could be a cessna or a 747)
20.  A folding chair under an awning of corrugated tin
21.  Crashed satellite
22.  Cargo container – someone lives here
23.  Cargo container – giant hole blasted in the side
24.  Hoverdroid spinning in a 5’ circle about 35’ above the ground
25.  Playground – melted
26.  Crudely sculpted spidergoat
27.  Campsite – tent, fire pit with cooking fire & charred spidergoat
28.  Rusted out VW Bug
29.  Gun case – full of painted 15mm minis
30.  Katrina trailer – pristine condition, poisonous.

And hope they don't have blasters

The news is that WotC wont renew their Star Wars license, which means no new Star Wars RPG or mini products, for a little while at least.  

I can't say this bothers me at all.  I never picked up or played the saga edition.  From what I read of it the Saga system sounded like a solid system, but after having played d20 Star Wars, I just couldn't muster any enthusiasm for it.  I think I experienced that dissatisfaction of d20 more keenly with Star Wars then I did with D&D, and it wasn't even because of all the splat books.  It was more that it felt like you had to try too hard with d20 Star Wars.  The simple elegance of West End Games' d6 Star Wars captures for me the feel of the original trilogy, which is what Star Wars is supposed to be about.  If I want a sci-fi game that does something else I have numerous options, from Traveler to Star Trek (2 versions) to Alternity to X-plorers sitting on my bookshelf. 

Speaking of WEG SWRPG, I've been rereading a bunch of the old books.  I picked up Galaxy Guide 4 Alien Races over christmas at a used book store, and that got me back into all the other books I've got.  Then a friend called, and she found at her FLGS some old d6 books, and would I be interested?  Of course I said yes!  They haven't arrived yet, but I'm really looking forward to getting them and adding them to my collection. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Norman over at Troll and Flame posted this most awesome picture of a Howlerbat and asked for stats.  Here's my attempt.


Armour Class: 6
Hit Dice: 2
Move: 9' (3')
      Fly 180' (60')
Attacks: 1 bite or 1 howl
Damage: 1d4 or stunned (see below)
No. Appearing: 2d12
Save As: F2
Morale: 10
Treasure Type:  J
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 50

A howlerbat has a vicious howl attack.  It can target a single creature, and if that creature fails it's saving throw vs. paralysis it is paralyzed for 1d3 rounds.  If targeted by multiple howls, the effects are cumulative, however any successful save negates all previous failed saves.     

Magic Mushrooms

"Hey human... grab a seat.  See those eggs over there?  Why don't you fry them up, they go great with mushrooms."

Nimble froze.  His foot oozed slowly into the soggy moss.  Turning his head slightly he saw a couple of eggs and a frying pan next to a small stack of firewood.  Just a little bit away was a patch of brownish spotted mushrooms.  Nimble felt himself relax and stepped over to the frying pan, and pulled the flint and steel from his pocket.  A mushroom omelet and a soft bit of moss sounded perfect.

Just as he bent down a small vial arched overhead, landing amidst the mushrooms, and setting them alight.  Screaming echoed through the swamp as Rathgar grabbed Nimble from behind and jerked him away from the conflagration.   

Magic Mushroom
Magical Plant
Armour Class: 10
Hit Dice: 1+
Move: 0
Attacks: 1 (special)
Damage: Special
No. Appearing: 1
Save As: M1
Morale: 11
Treasure Type:  C
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value:  25

Each patch of Magic Mushrooms is a single entity, with a powerful charm ability.  Any intelligent creature that comes within range will be encouraged to consume a portion of the mushroom patch.  While both tasty and nutritious, the mushrooms are highly poisonous.  Anyone consuming even a single mushroom, and failing a saving throw versus poison will fall into a deep sleep after 2d6 minutes from which they will be unable to wake themselves.  The victims of this poison, presuming their bodies are left unmolested are covered in the spores of the creature, and will be killed after approximately 24 hours, and over the course of about a week their body will be entirely consumed.    Larger (and thus more experienced) Magic Mushroom patches will often have their victim lay the trap for the next victim.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gamers rock!

It seems that Gamers Helping Hati has raised (as of 8:30 AM EST) $48,555 for Doctors Without Boarders.  You guys rock.

Also, I've been approved for membership in the RPG Bloggers Network.  I hope that those of you who come to visit my tower will find something useful for your games.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gamers Helping Hati

If you haven't seen this, you must.  For $20 you get a HUGE pile of gaming PDFs, here's a highlight:
  • BASH! Basic Action Super Heroes
  • Best of the Rifter
  • Castles & Crusades Arms and Armor
  • Chronica Feudalis
  • Classic Spycraft: Spycraft Espionage Handbook
  • Colonial Gothic: Secrets
  • Cortex System Role Playing Game
  • Dork Covenant
  • DRAGONSHIRE: City Ruins
  • Ephemeris
  • Full Light, Full Steam
  • Hollow Earth Expedition Earth Drill
  • Karma Roleplaying System Core Rules Book
  • Kobold Quarterly 11
  • Labyrinths & Lycanthropes
  • MADS Role Playing Game
  • MARS: Savage Worlds Edition
  • MonkeyGod Presents: From Stone to Steel
  • Piledrivers and Powerbombs: Chokeslam of Darkness Edition
  • QAGS Second Edition
  • Reign of Discordia (Traveller Edition)
  • Roma Imperious
  • Serenity Role Playing Game
  • Shrouded Agendas for D&D 4E: The Purifiers
  • Spirit of the Season
  • Thousand Suns: Foundation Transmissions
  • Three Sixteen
  • Thrilling Tales 2nd Edition (Savage Worlds)
  • Trail of Cthulhu Player’s Guide
  • Wayfarers
So go get some good stuff, and help out those who are suffering. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


You and your friends are from out of town, and you've just chased off that band of goblin raiders.  It may be pretty small time, but to these townies it was Epic, and when it came down to it, you rocked harder then the goblins did.  So once the rumble was over, you head back to town, bask in the adoration of your fans, and call it a game.

Or not.  Sometimes your fans can be more interesting than those goblins.  What are the townies going to think of you?  Not everyone is going to be thrilled.  Some maybe downright pissed at you. 

The young adoring fan - the swooning merchants daughter, or the strapping young farmboy whose never seen anything like you before.  You're powerful, dangerous, and way more interesting than that farmboy or merchants daughter.  Show them a little bit of kindness and attention, and they're yours.  Of course, once they're yours are they worth it?  Maybe they become clingy, jealous when you show others attention.  Maybe they try to talk you into settling down, abandoning your friends.  Or maybe they decide to follow you.  And while there maybe some benefit to having them around, increasingly they'll become a greater liability then they are worth.

The young adoring fan's parent (type 1) - While the merchant and the farmer are both thrilled that you dealt with the goblins, and dropped some coin at the local tavern, they're less thrilled at their kids reactions.  But maybe they remember when some adventurers passed through when they were younger.  But you paid attention to their child, maybe you even took advantage of them.  Now they're pissed, and suddenly you're less welcome in town.  Sure, you can still get your ale, and you still have a bed, but now you're being asked to give up the best room, and maybe the tavern keeper is suddenly out of the good ale every time you ask, but everyone else has a mug.

The young adoring fan's parent (type 2) - She was always pretty, but has she ever been useless.  Nothing in that head of hers worth having, and even her parents know it.  Maybe that farmboy is handsome but he's got his heads in the clouds and is as likely to be staring off into the sky as plowing the field.  These parents will do everything in their power to hookup their kid and the adventurer in as permanent a way as possible.  

The young adoring fan's parent (type 3) - You don't want to pay attention to my kid, you want to pay attention to me!!  I've been living in this Podunk town with my Podunk life and I'm ready for some adventure!  These parents will exert their authority to get rid of their kid so they can be the focus of your attention.  There is an even chance that they're just looking for a thrilling weekend rather than a lifetime commitment, but it could go either way.

Big fish in a little pond - Likely the big fish is a member of the local militia or constabulary.  They're popular around town, and they like to be the focus of attention.  You've upset that.  Now everyone is talking about you, clustering around you, and the big fish is already tired of it.  Expect back talk, and snide comments, and help only in the most dire of straights. 

Friday, January 15, 2010

Swords & Wizardry is a big fat sell-out!

And congratulations to them for that!!!

It's nice to see the OSR doing well, even if it's in limited numbers. The quality has all been pretty top notch in just about everything I've read, which has made reading it worthwhile.

On that note, I finally finished reading Michael Curtis' Stonehell that I ordered from Lulu.   


I doubt that anyone reading this is unfamiliar with Stonehell, but here's the basics - this volume is the upper 5 levels of his 10 level megadungeon.  Each level is given a 2 page introduction, which includes an overall map of the level, a brief introduction and a list of all the monsters that inhabit the level.  Each level is divided into 4 quarters, and each is given a 2 page introduction with overall notes about the quarter and it's population.  The next 2 page spread shows the map for the quarter, keyed notes to the map, and the keyed entries to each of the rooms using a modified one page dungeon template.  There is next to no flavor text in the keyed entries, which works for this format.

Overall in appearance the book is clean black and white.  The text is in an easy to read 2 column format interspersed with occasional line drawings.  The maps are grey and white with black text, making them very readable.  I'm very impressed with the quality here, having ordered it from Lulu.  This was the first (and so far only) product that I've ordered from Lulu and I was a little apprehensive about it, but as soon as I had it in my hands all fears evaporated.

The content of the book matches both the quality of the printing and the format.  It's chock full of useful stuff!  There tends to be an over all theme for each level, including some dungeon or level spanning events.  The history and ongoing developments of Stonehell seem to be pretty internally consistant with lots of neat things for players to discover and puzzle over, and while there is plenty of quirky "old school" flavor, it never asks you to strain your suspension of disbelief. 

It's specifically designed for use with Labyrinth Lord, but it would take very little effort to use it with any other fantasy RPG.

I'm really impressed with this product, and I can't wait to play with it myself, or to get my hands on volume 2 (it's already on my Christmas wish list).  For those of you who are planning on delving into Stonehell, be sure to say hi to Coal.  I hear he likes fresh mutton and a skin of mead.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

D&D Default Setting

I've been thinking about D&D settings, and the many things that many people have written.  One of the ones that keeps coming back to my mind is that a setting more akin to ancient Greece is more in keeping with what D&D tries to do better than medieval Europe. 

Darrin Drader over at "Writing, Game Design, World Domination" sums it up pretty well.
"The reasons I think the Greek civilization is a better model for the fantasy genre is because it was polytheistic, it consisted mainly of independent city states, and because the monsters of its mythology are so commonly associated with the fantasy genre."
I stumbled upon his post completely by accident when I clicked on "Next Blog" but it tied in to what I'd been thinking about for a while now.  Playing in a realm of city states allows you to do some things, like war and travel between different cultures with a greater ease than you can get with a more medieval setting.  It brings things down to a more manageable scale, especially at lower levels.  Plus the geography of the Aegean Sea just cries out to be used in a game.
Look at all that hilly and mountainous terrain, the string of islands, and of course the great cities of Istanbul and Athens!  Plus it really is the cross roads of the ancient world, and when your players are ready for a change of pace there are lots of options!  Sail to the south and you hit desert.  South-East, and you hit Egypt.  East and you hit Persia, North/NE and you come to the Slavic lands.  West brings you further into the Mediterranean where you might encounter vikings, Romans, and/or Spaniards.  Of course you can switch that up just to keep player from using their real world knowledge.

Could using this idea lead to a Hercules/Xena type game, full of silly and completely incorrect historical mash-ups?  Absolutely!  And if everyone at the table is having a good time, then who's to complain? 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Railroad to Oz

I am reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as part of my classics challenge.  I'm about a quarter of the way through, and I realized what a horrible adventure it would make.  From the point where Dorothy is told about the land of Oz it is made abundantly clear that she has no choice but to go to the Emerald City and speak to the Wizard if she ever wants to go home.  It turns out that Oz is a magical and wild place, in the middle of a HUGE desert.  So huge no one knows of anyone who has ever crossed it, not even the Good Witch of the North, and the only way that Dorothy can go is to follow the Yellow Iron Tracks... I mean Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City. 

Shortly along the Yellow Brick RailRoad she teams up with the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man.  Such party introduction would require just about everyone to sit and wait their turn for what was probably a quarter to half the game session.  I don't know many players that would be willing to do that.  Maybe, just maybe, they were late and building characters at the table, and were introduced as they finished.  Maybe.  

Now, this isn't to say that Oz wouldn't make a fantastic setting for a game.  It already has!  I played in a game of D&D years ago where the DM literally sent us to Oz!  It was actually kind of frustrating until we figured it out where we were. 

The Sci-Fi miniseries Tin Man's re-imagining of Oz would make a fantastic dark steampunk setting.  I would probably run it with Deadlands or Mutant Future.  Most likely I'd use Mutant Future, as I own that one, and don't own Deadlands!! 

There is a lot to be mined from Frank Baum's creation, but it's worth spending some time to clean away the stuff that wouldn't translate well into a game.