Thursday, June 30, 2011

3rd Geomorph Set - 4

Ok, so this one doesn't really fit the theme, except that there's a pit trap.

Many levels...and no easy way to cross!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tim Curry Tuesdays - Pennywise

Tim Curry Tuesdays

Welcome to Tim Curry Tuesday! In this week’s installment, I’d like to introduce you to Pennywise the Dancing Clown!

Pennywise the Dancing Clown
No. Enc.: 1 (unique)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 150’ (50’)
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 7
Attacks: 3
Damage: 1d6/1d6/1d6 + Special
Save: L4
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: VII * 3

Pennywise appears to be a human clown, but is actually the physical manifestation of IT - a being from beyond the universe that feeds upon fear. IT’s favorite victims are children, though it will gladly feast off of anyone who feels terror. In order to increase the effect of fear Pennywise will automatically appear to each individual as a man-sized example of whatever phobia they might be suffering from. When they suffer the effects of their phobia they will take 2d4 points of damage for every round they flee.

Anyone who does not have an active phobia will need to make a saving throw if they are successfully damaged by Pennywise. If they fail they must flee in terror for 1d4 rounds and suffer 2d4 damage for every round spent fleeing. Half of all damage caused by fleeing will be absorbed by Pennywise, healing it of any damage taken.

Pennywise has a WIL of 19, but it is reduced by 2 for every opponent he faces. He is also highly susceptible to damage from silver.

IT is usually active for brief periods after which it tends to hibernate for years or decades at a time. If Pennywise is killed, IT will go into hibernation for 5d12 years, after which Pennywise will again emerge.

Mutations: Regenerative Capability (Special), Bizarre Appearance, Epidermal Susceptibility, Mental Phantasm, Vampiric Field (Fear Only)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Inspirational Image - Thunderspire

The gate to the Thunderspire Labyrinth, in honor of the fact that today my cousins will begin to delve deep into that mountain!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

3rd Geomorph Set - 2

Bottomless pits, bricked up passageways, and escape tunnels...

I wonder how far down those stairs go?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Help a Blogger Out

A while back I wrote about being a part of a community, and what that means.  Since then I’ve come up with another way that you can be a part of the blogging community: help someone out!

Now, before you get the wrong idea, I’m not talking about giving money for anything. Not birth, not death, not illness, not research, no money at all.

What I think you should give is some time and effort. It’s something you give with every blog post, and every comment, but there is another way to give. As you read through the various blogs that you follow you see ideas that get put forward; monsters, magic items, classes, races, even whole adventures! Sometimes you see something that just doesn’t quite work. Chances are the author knows this, but doesn’t know what’s off, or how to fix it.

But you do. Or you at least have some ideas.*

Recently Dylan aka the Digital Orc posted an adventure called Death and the Lady which involved some crazy cultists and the xenomorphs from Aliens. It was interesting, but it needed some work. Here is where I did something different. Rather then just moving on I printed it out, and read it though it a couple of times. Then I started making some notes. Then I turned those notes into a post, where I dissected everything I thought was wrong with the adventure.

You didn’t miss it because I didn’t post it.

I turned it into an e-mail, and I sent it off to Dylan. I wasn’t sure how he would take my critiques, and I must admit I was a little worried about it. He replied rather promptly and thanked me for my thoughts, and said he’d get back to me. A couple of days later he did, addressing my thoughts and critiques. He even went ahead and shared part of our e-mail exchange!

Another example is the amazingly prolific Bat of Ancient Vaults. I have no idea how, but he daily posts a new spell, monster, magic item, or god. Most of the time I think his creations are both wonderfully imaginative and fairly well balanced, but there have been one or two that we’ve commented back and forth on, discussing the finer points, be they charges, XP value, or anything else that I think could use tweaking.

I am currently reviewing a copy of Lord Gwydion’s Flying Swordsmen RPG to edit and review. I’m really looking forward to getting into this one because like many of you I’ve been generally unhappy with the way monks and their ilk are portrayed in DnD. I expect that Lord Gwydion and I will be going back and forth, and that this will take some time, especially considering this first draft is 79 pages long! Time that I could spend mapping, painting, writing blog posts and comments, or even mowing the lawn... ok, maybe that last one isn’t really a big deal, but you get the idea. But the way I look at it, it’s probably going to be time well spent.

*One thing to keep in mind is that just because you’ve offered your opinion doesn’t mean they’re going to rework their project for you. There have been times were people have told me “thanks for the comment, but I think it’s fine the way it is.”

Thursday, June 23, 2011

3rd Geomorph Set - 1

I call this set "Long Way Down" for pretty obvious reasons.

Those are supposed to be rope bridges...

Careful... there's no railing!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

To Do

I know it’s a rule that you should never post what it is you’re going to do. This is a good rule, as it prevents you from promising something you may not be able to deliver.

However, there are a number of things that I’ve started that I’m intending to get back to, and for my own benefit I’m writing a list of them.

  • Sea of O’sr Project - I never finished putting together the Atoll of U’slim, nor did I ever share the second island I was working on.
  • Blog PDFs - You said you wanted them, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
  • Megadungeon - I keep getting sidetracked. It’s becoming a rather big project, and sometimes I fell a little overwhelmed with it, which is why I think I keep working on geomorphs
  • 4e game session reports - I left off in the middle of session 3. Now I need to write part 2, and then write up session 4, and maybe do that before we start Thunderspire Labyrinth this weekend...
  • Begin editing Flying Swordsmen RPG for Lord Gwydion - I promised him preliminary comments by the end of the week... and it’s already Wednesday!

I think that covers the majority of the big ones. there are a few other things that I’m working on, but none of them are projects, just one-off posts.

Ok, back to re-reading Thunderspire and Flying Swordsmen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tim Curry Tuesdays - Darkness

Welcome to Tim Curry Tuesday! This will be an ongoing series where every week I will explore a character Tim Curry has played. Why Tim Curry? For one thing he’s done quite a number of characters that just beg to be made into NPCs! For another, the man has that voice... it’s definitely one of the top 5 voices I’d pick if I could only hear every male with the same voice. I have also used Tim Curry as a mental touchstone of an NPC that my players interact with. And I just finished listening to Sabriel, which was read by Tim Curry, so he was on my mind.

For our first installment I’m going to go with the obvious and necessary choice of Darkness from Labyrinth Legend.

They could not have picked a better actor to play this demon. It’s a scenery chewing character, and Tim Curry can gnaw it with the best of them! Darkness makes for a great BBEG

Lord of Darkness

Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 12**** (L)
Move: 180’ (60’)
Attacks: 1 gore/1 weapon
Damage: 2d6+2
No. Appearing: 1
Save As: C12
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: G
Intelligence: 16
XP Value: 4,750
Monster Type: Planar Monster, Enchanted (Unique)

The being known as the Lord of Darkness, or simply Darkness, is the spawn and champion of a Chaotic Immortal known as Nox who desired to see the world shrouded in perpetual night and winter. Darkness appears as a 9’ tall satyr with red skin, black fur, and massive curving horns. He wears a sleeveless black robe, and carries a black staff.

Darkness commands a horde of corrupted goblins and other foul beings that he uses as his hands, eyes, and ears on the surface world. Darkness suffers 2d8 points of damage for every round that he is exposed to sunlight due to his deep connection to Nox.

In addition to his natural strength Darkness is capable of using the following powers 3 times/day: Charm Person, Cause Fear, Detect Good (Innocence), Blight. He can also use the following powers 2 times/day: Know Alignment, Produce Flame, Curse. The mere presence of Darkness causes creatures of less than 4HD to automatically make a morale check or be cowed into inaction. Darkness is immune to Sleep, Charm, and Hold spells, Fire, Cold and weapons of less than +2 enchantment.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Balticon Sunday Geomorphs 6

More bricked up doorways, and some statues!

A hidden crypt! Maybe a vampire's hideaway?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Balticon Sunday Geomorphs 5

In the last week I've jumped to 101 followers! I expect several of you arrived from the Underdark Gazette, but wherever you came from you are welcome!

There aren't enough stairs in geomorphs, or bricked up doorways!

Friday, June 17, 2011

WotC-Fail - Girls & D&D

I generally stay away from bashing WotC and their generally moronic decisions, but this goes beyond the pale.

Republished from Kynn's LiveJournal:

As part of their inexplicable series about D&D and kids, Wizards of the Coast has posted an official tutorial about girls & gaming, which starts with a disclaimer:

I am a man.

Despite living a rich and fulfilling life, one thing I never got to be is a woman. Therefore, some readers are likely to ask, “What gives you the right, as a man, to talk about women?”

First of all, this article is not about women, but about children of the female persuasion. Children rarely write pedagogic articles (and thank goodness for that!) and so this ungrateful task falls upon my hairy adult shoulders. So while I may not be female, you, my hypothetical accuser, are not a child, hence we’re both in equal violation of authenticity.

[blah blah blah]

Lastly, and this is my main point, it’s all about fun and games. So please, for the aforementioned goodness’ sake, don’t take anything I write too seriously. My aim as I embarked on this monumental project was to help DMs avoid some of the pitfalls into which I had stumbled in the beginning of my career and to tell some amusing anecdotes while at it, not to expose all the intricacies of the human spirit.

This is the same guy who wrote the tutorial about punishing kids.

At the time of that article, Uri had a public Google buzz feed. He's taken it private now; I made a screencap at the time.

Let's take a look at the guy who Wizards of the Coast thinks is the correct person to write about girls in gaming:

Uri: Feminism 2011: we got our rights. now we want yours! Lord Havoc: painfully true. I say outlaw the bitches. Uri: I say send to Gaza for re-education.

This guy has ideas worth sharing about girls in gaming:

Uri: Feminazis look for sexual harassment like witch hunters used to look for witchcraft. Their proposed treatment is also the same...

Here's the guy who features in their "D&D Kids: Girls at the Table" article, talking about the causes of domestic violence:

Uri: Instead of blaming men for violence, blame the wives who leave the men with no choice but being violent.

Annnnd here's Uri's idea of the perfect RPG, presumably for adults only and not for the immature:

Uri describes a game about raping and killing women. Someone says he should write it. Uri answers, 'Write? Hell... I want to live it!'

Now, I'm not saying that Wizards of the Coast should be in the business of censuring any of their contributors for their personal views. Uri's odious views on domestic violence, on feminism, on rape shouldn't automatically disqualify him from writing for Hasbro.

But I'm just thinking that maybe, just maybe, Wizards of the Coast should have hired a female gamer to write the article -- I know plenty of them who could write well about the topic and not just regurgitate a bunch of tired gender stereotypes such as the character statistically [sic] most likely to be attractive to girls is a female eladrin ranger -- instead of an openly misogynist apologist for domestic violence.

Just sayin'.

PS: As you might expect, the article itself is shitty.

Update: This post originally contained a sentence that cast doubt on other people working at Wizards of the Coast. That was inappropriate and I apologize for writing it, and hereby retract it. The sentence was:
I'm sure there are plenty of men at WotC who might agree that women who are victims of violent abuse from their spouses deserved it for forcing their husbands to physically assault them.
I apologize to anyone I hurt by saying that.

Update 2: Wizards of the Coast has removed the post, and posted a statement on Twitter:

We've removed the article. The opinions of the author don't reflect the views of Wizards of the Coast.

Here is the Google cache of the post (hat tip [info]yendi), and a very large screenshot of that cache (Google caches eventually expire).

There is just so much wrong with this...

Balticon Sunday Geomorphs 4

I'm working on a new set that I'm calling "It's a long way down" but for now enjoy yet more Balticon Geomorphs!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Found Treasurers

A Bestiary for Mutant Futures, Gamma Worlds, and Assorted Post-Apocalyptic Wastelands) has some bizarre offerings, but Hitchcock has to be my favorite.

Old Guard Gaming Accouterments offered up the Stone Woman, who would fit very nicely standing at a crossroads.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Balticon Sunday Geomorphs 3

My first set of geomorphs have been added to Dave's Mapper!!

A bunch of statues, a secret room, and a pit trap. Fun times!

Finding those secret doors may help

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: Challenge of the Frog Idol

Dyson’s entry into the Fat Frog Challenge clocks in at an impressive 20 booklet sized pages of adventure (plus cover and copyright pages). What you get in these pages is basically a mini-campaign! There is a dying city, a swamp full of forgotten gods and other interesting things, and a 12 room dungeon that marks the entrance of a megadungeon!

Before we even get to the city, the adventures are each given a roll on 3 different rumor charts! These rumors do as much to help flesh out the area as almost anything else in the adventure. The city is, as I said above, one that is in decline. It is ruled by the garrison commander and the whores! The weekly gladiatorial fights are the city’s only entertainment (aside from the whores). Between the rumor chart and the info the adventure provides, it wouldn’t be hard to use this place as an active and ongoing base of operations or even the focus of a campaign.

The swamp takes up the bulk of the adventure. This makes sense, as the hex map detailing the swamp and the area immediately around it take up 252 six mile hexes! Out of these there are only 12 keyed locations, and 2 of these are left to you to fill in. However the locations that are filled in are done so skillfully. #5 I think has to be my favorite for a number of reasons.

The dungeon is a map that Dyson has shared before, but I don’t recall it being previously keyed. There is just enough in these 12 packed areas to really tempt adventurers further in.

If you haven’t yet checked out Dyson’s entry into the Fat Frog Challenge, I suggest you download it and do so right away!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Balticon Sunday Geomorphs 2

I e-mailed Dave of Daves Mapper about getting my geomorphs up. He told me how to format them, so sometime in the next week or so I'll be reformatting them and sending them on to him.

Until then, I hope you continue to enjoy!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fat Frog Challenge: Madness of the Frogmen!

Over at B/X Blackrazor, JB issued a challenge to create and adventure based on a creepy statue that Tim of  Gothridge Manor posted.

A Side-Quest Adventure for a Party of Old School PCs, Levels 4-6
Designed for use with the BECMI/RC edition of D&D

Within this 4 page adventure you will find 3 new monsters, a map, and a description of the idol of Whisk!

The adventure can also be found under the download link at the top of the page.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Balticon Sunday Geomorphs 1

Some sort of mechanism causes these rooms to shift.

I wonder what's in all those little rooms? Orcs with pie?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why Geomorphs? & Post 400

Up until Balticon I’ve been avoiding drawing geomorphs. As I’ve said before, my previous attempts have been generally uninspiring, and they’ve gone into the recycle bin (sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively). So what made me decide to do two dozen while at Balticon?

There are a couple of reasons.

1. I wanted to do something with my hands while sitting in panels. While they can be interesting, they don’t always keep my complete and undivided attention. Virginia addresses this by knitting. Now I’ve tried knitting, and the results are less than pretty. Rabid weasel in a sweater box was I believe the best description of my attempt, and while I could devote the time to learning the skill, I’ve decided that I have enough hobbies, and don’t need a new one, plus I would have to have my own yarn stash, and where would we put it?!?

I can’t really paint minis, as there isn’t the space or even the surface to do it. Model and terrain making is right out for the same reasons. Writing uses too many of the same parts of the brain that I use to listen with, and that brought me to map drawing. All I need is a pen or pencil and a piece (or pad) of paper (graph paper ideally).

Ok, so I’m going to map. What to map?

2. I can’t really work on my megadungeon. There are things I have planned that will require access to my binder, and more concentration than I want to devote to it. I could work on some random dungeon, but when I tried that I could feel myself thinking about the megadungeon. I needed some form, some structure, maybe a goal... The first thing I thought of, when I thought about structure, was geomorphs.

Seeing as I was just planning on keeping my hands busy, this seemed like a good solution. I opened up my notebook, and started marking out 10x10 grids. Once i had them ready, I started drawing. I found that I could work on geomorphs and listen to the panelists, so my goal was accomplished!

Now that I’ve done these geomorphs I do have a few thoughts.

1. They’re fun! Having the limited structure of 100 squares really helped me get to it and get mapping. I didn’t spend much time dithering or worrying about making a bad or boring geomorph. That isn’t to say that I didn’t. There are a bunch that I’m perfectly willing to admit are completely boring! But because it’s only a single geomorph on a page of geomorphs, it didn’t really matter! I’d just wrap it up, and move on to the next one.

2. It’s harder than it looks. Making geomorphs is actually pretty easy. With 100 squares and 8 entrances each geomorph is a quick project. Making interesting geomorphs? That’s harder. Ok, sure, if every geomorph was interesting and cool with a neat gimmick they’d all lose their value as interesting. You actually need relatively boring spaces to make the interesting bits stand out. Finding the right balance? Again, hard.

3. It’s harder than they make it look. The gold standard of old school mapping has to go to Dyson and Stonewerks. I say this a lot, but believe me, I think it even more often. They have the skill and the tools to make their maps look awesome. My maps don’t look like theirs, and without some time and effort spent learning to emulate them, they never will.

And that’s OK! My maps look like... well... MY maps. I have my own style, and no it isn’t as refined, or as pretty. But I’m learning. I’m working at it. I look at these geomorphs, and I can see where I need to improve. It’s even more evident when I scan them in at a high resolution and see them blown up on the computer!

So what next? The Sunday geomorph series starts tomorrow, so there's that. But will there be more geomorphs? I don't know. It's certainly fun, and should future occasions arise where geomorphs would keep my hands busy... We'll all just have to wait and see. Either way, I do plan on working on my maps, and making them look better!

Also, just a quick note that this is my 400th post! Go me!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Balticon Saturday Geomorphs 6

This marks the end of the first set of Balticon Geomorphs. The second set will be along presently...

A big statue, a bricked up doorway, and a long corridor

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Balticon Saturday Geomorphs 5

You'll notice the corridor extending beyond the geomorph edge...

Lower elevation sections are great for filling with a foot or two of water... dark water that might be hiding something...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Paper Models - ChickenHawk

I like building models. This should probably come as no surprise considering that I’m also into miniatures, and for the most part they’re pretty much the same thing. Right now on my shelf I have a number of models I want to build, including the Enterprise A from Star Trek V, a federation runabout, the original 1701, and a large model of DS9 that comes with fiberoptic lighting! That last one is what I consider to be a massively major quest that I expect to take a significant amount of time (months!), and that I am not yet ready for. I’m planning on the runabout being a test model for including electronics before I tackle DS9.

However all of these will take a fair amount of time, time that I really don’t have to spend right now on toys.

When I really just want to build something without any fuss, without worrying about painting or anything beyond putting the thing together, I usually don’t have much in the way of options, especially when factoring in limited funds.

One option I recently decided to explore was paper models. There are a lot of them out there, and a lot of them are free. I’ve known about them for a long time now, but until recently I never took advantage of them. I stumbled upon this site: I don’t remember where. It’s in Spanish, but the pictures are pretty clear, and Google Translate does a fair job if you have difficulties figuring it out. I decided that I’d give his ChickenHawk Utility Dropship a try. He has it available in a number of different styles, and I decided that the A-Team paint scheme looked fun.

I printed it out on regular paper, and over the course of a single evening I made some decent progress. The pieces were cut out as I worked on the component, rather than cutting everything out ahead of time, and I used Elmer’s to glue it all together.

After several hour worth of work, and a few stumbles, I ended up with this.

I probably should have picked a simpler model to start with, but I'm still pretty pleased with the results. It isn't perfect, far from it, but aside from being given it's clear coat, it's done.

I didn't use all of the thruster assemblies or the antenna. For the thrusters I couldn't find another spot I wanted to put more onto. For the antenna, I couldn't see putting them on a model that would be used in a game, or stored in a basement.Some of the Last Chancer's for scale. As you can see, it's perfectly scaled for 40K or any other 28mm scale game.

Some hints if you decide to work with paper models. I made mine with basic printer/copy paper. I would suggest something heavier if you can get it. Also, make sure to pre-fold everything. It might also be worth it to print an extra copy in case you mess up a part.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday Inspirational Image - Labyrinth

I've never had an open topped labyrinth like this in my games before, but looking at this, and thinking about the movie Labyrinth, I may just to include one!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Morrowind - Why I Hated The Game of the Year

Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is an award winning, Game of the Year RPG for the PC and X-Box. I bought the X-Box version because I heard that it was such an amazing game, and it is, or at least some of it is.

The world of Morrowind is designed for exploration. The game designers made it an expansive place with lots of interesting things to see and interact with. It seems to be about as much of a sandbox as you can get out of a videogame. The graphics are top notch, at least they were. This unfortunately means that the X-Box has a hard time managing it. Load times take forever, and it has a tendency to be jerky, and even crash.

Character creation is another area where you can tell they put a lot of time into it. There are a wide variety of races and classes to choose from. There is also a lot of customization that you can do with the way your character appears. The options are so wide that it can be hard to pick.

Unfortunately movement and combat show just how much they tried to cram into this game, as these aspects both suffer. Movement is ok, but it’s possible to get your character stuck on things like bushes, a patch of grass, or doorhandles. There is a jumping option, but I can’t say that I ever found it very useful except as a way to become unstuck.

Combat involves getting your target in your cross hairs, and swinging. It’s fiddly, and I really disliked it. There wasn’t any option (that I could discover) for any alternate attacks, and the standing there trading blows was not only fiddly, but boring. At least in many other games where you stand there and wack on each other it at least looks interesting. The lack of a good tutorial didn’t help it any either. I can’t remember the last game I played that didn’t have a solid combat tutorial. The same process of lining your target in the cross-hairs and clicking is used for interacting with things. Be it a door you want to open or an item you want to pick up. The process is still fiddly, but picking flowers or grabbing a torch isn’t likely to get you killed!

Interacting with people generally involves a LOT of reading. The more you talk to people and learn things, the more options you open up for later conversations. Unfortunately there is so much information that it’s hard to keep track of it, even with the journal.

After trying it out several times, reading walk-throughs, and other things online, I was left with the simple conclusion that while Morrowind is a fascinating game, it isn’t the game I’m looking for. What I want is more Knights of the Old Republic. I’ve played both, and Jade Empire, and for an RPG it hits everything I’m looking for. I’m finding Fable to be interesting and fairly engrossing as well. Seeing that I don’t have a whole lot of time to spend playing videogames, I find myself pretty picky about what gets my attention. Morrowind had its chance, and then some.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Balticon Saturday Geomorphs 4

I based this first one off of a vertical geomorph by Stonewerks called Bastion.

This one has a big room with two over looking balconies. I wasn't really sure how to show the elevation.