Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #1

The Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad is a DCC zine by Wayne Snyder of Goblin Mini Mart, Edgar Johnson of Edgar's Gaming Blog, and Adam Muskiewicz of Dispatches from Kickassistan.

That alone should be enough to send you out to get it right now. Seriously, it's that good, and the PDF is PWYW, so there's really no excuse! It really is worth a buck or two for the PDF, though, so consider chipping in some beer money for them.

If that isn't enough for you, this is a zine that goes to 11. Specifically it goes to d11. Don't have a d11? That's ok, they tell you how it works.

Issue 1 also provides a great introduction to the First City (Ur-Hadad) by way of a DCC 0-level funnel/city crawl. If you appreciate Vornheim, you'll appreciate the roll all the dice method of neighborhood generation in this issue. You'll also appreciate the very appropriate 666 rule that goes with it.

To round things off, there's a nice little 1 page dungeon insert, The Cave of the Maggot Witch that you can save to drop in when needed, even into the funnel if you're feeling mean. There is nothing in this issue that you can't drop into any fantasy urban environment, and all of it can be used at the table, little to no prep. It's that easy, and that good.

So grab your (dice) sack, get ready to drop your dice, and pick up issue 1 before issue 2 hits. You will not be sorry.

Seriously, it really does go to eleven!

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 ( 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.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Contest Reminder: Free RPG Day Modules

I'm giving away these 4 Free RPG Day items.

LotFP's The Doom-Cave of the Crystal Headed Children,
The DCC/X-Crawl module
Chooseomatic Time Travel Dinosaur Mesozoic Mayhem book
Castles and Crusades Druid's Lament

To win, all you need to do is e-mail me a random table. Thus far, I've gotten only 2 entries...

Just send in your table to davidbrawley at gmail dot com

New Monster: Krol’ara

Nimble eased his tools out of the lock. “Done” he declared softly.

“Ready?” Rathgar asked.

His companions nodded and Feris dimmed his were-light.

The castle corridor was silent as Nimble slowly pulled the door open. Rathgar stood, shield raised, sword ready, and peered into the darkness of the opening doorway. The room beyond was large, and full of pedestals.

Once the door was open enough, Rathgar, followed by Allianora stepped in and to the side of the door, scanning for danger. Spying none, they looked about the room. Each pedestal stool about 4 feet tall, and on each was a unique urn. Some were ceramic, others clay, and a few looked like copper. Most were intricately decorated, painted, and embellished.

“Interesting collection.” Nimble said, breaking the silence. “I could find a buyer for these.”

“Later. We need to find the Baron.”

“There’s a door further on.” Alolianora pointed to the dark side of the room. “Check it, or continue down the hall?”

“Check it” Feris voted. Rathgar and Nimble nodded in agreement.

Nimble eased the door to the hall closed behind them, and they made their way to the far side of the room, skirting along the edge.

Nimble froze “Did you hear that?”

His companions paused, and from the middle of the room, they heard one of the unrs knock, as if something was pushing to get out.

It knocked again.

And again…

And again, this time causing the urn to rattle on the pillar. Then silence.

Everyone held still, not even breathing, and waited… and another knock, rattle, and a crash of ceramic on stone. Feris flared his light to it’s full brilliance, revealing a thick coil of black smoke that resolved into a worm like shape, held up by two thin arms and sporting a bright red eye, that blinked once, and turned toward them. Its bulky form scampered toward them with remarkable agility and utter disregard for the pillars knocked aside, and urns sent crashing to the floor.

Krol’ara: Init +2; Atk Smoke Tendril +3 melee (1d6+2); AC 16; HD 2d6; Move 40'; Act 1d20; SP Half damage from non-magical weapons; SV Fort +0, Ref +3, Wil +6; AL C.

This monstrous creature is not native to this plane, and even when bound here it has difficulty maintaining its form. It always looks less than solid, shedding black smoke constantly. It takes the form of a vaguely wormlike being that is supported and propelled by two thin boneless arms. The rear half of the worm hovers just above the ground. The front of the worm is a giant red eye. It has no discernable mouth, but a tendril of smoke can whip out that causes a burning sensation, and looks like frostbite on anyone it touches.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Free RPG Day Redux

I'm off running Daniel Bishop's ENnie Nominated DCC adventure Prince Charming, Reanimator today, but I wanted to leave you with something cool, and free stuff is always cool...

I managed to snag a few extra things from my FLGS from Free RPG Day. I got an extra copy of The Doom-Cave of the Crystal Headed Children, The DCC/X-Crawl module, and the Chooseomatic Time Travel Dinosaur Mesozoic Mayhem book. And I'm not really interested in keeping my Castles and Crusades Druid's Lament. I'm thinking I should just give them away, seeing as they're free... but how to choose?

How about I roll a random chart? It's thematic. So if you want a chance to win one of these books, e-mail me a random chart at davidbrawley at gmail dot com. I'll hold this open for a week, so you've got till midnight July 25th to get me your entries.

And because I don't want to leave you without anything today, here's The Hidden Way, a DCC one page dungeon based on a little map that Matt Jackson posted yesterday on G+.

Good luck with the contest, and may the dice be in your favor!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Awesomeness

Between getting ready to run DCC at Charm City Gameday, finishing up my entry for Tenkar's OSR Superstar Challenge (anyone want to give this an editorial once over?), and reading 5e, I haven't really had the time to put into the blog, and I feel bad about that. I have post ideas, but I need to sit down with them and spend some time hammering them out. Until I get to do that, here's a couple of cool pictures to make your Friday even better.

This is what a transformer should look like

Just cause the dragon is made of roses, doesn't mean it won't TPK your ass!

Who says feathers will make it look like a chicken?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vondal Runeforged - 5e Wizard

Last night I finally sat down to create my first 5e character. And like I promised, it's a mountain dwarf wizard. I was pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy it was, even when I opted for some of the slower choices. It did however show me where I'll be making my first house rule for 5e.

What I did:
Standard ability score array
Rolled starting money and individually picked equipment
Chose background, traits, ideals, boons, and flaws.
Picked spells

All told, I think it took maybe 15 minutes, and that was due in large part to double checking everything, and needing to look up the different spells. So here he is:

Vondal Runeforged, Mountain Dwarf Wizard
Level 1
Soldier (standard bearer) background

Str 14 +2
Dex 14 +2
Con 15 +2
Int 15 +2
Wis 8 -1
Cha 10

AC 15 (chain shirt)
HD 1d6
HP 8

Trait: Full of stories
Ideals: Independence
Bonds: Never leaves a friend behind
Flaws: Little respect for those unproven

Darkvision 60'
Poison Resistance
Combat Training (axes and hammers)
Armor Training (light and medium)
Arcane recovery

Languages: Dwarven, Common


Gaming (dice)
Vehicles (land)

Battle Ax +4 1d8+2 slashing (1d10+2 2-handed)
Light Hammer +4 1d4 bludgeoning 20/60

Dungeoneers Pack
Runed Rod
Glass Eye
Spell Book
Pouch made from an orcish banner

Ray of Frost
Fire Bolt

1st Level Spells
Burning Hands
Comprehend Languages
Detect Magic
Thunder Wave

Like I said, I'm pretty impressed. While Vondal will not necessarily be the most impressive spellcaster around, the shock of thunder wave blasting a ring of orcs away from what looked like a dwarf warrior... Well, it brings an evil gleam to this DM's heart. I would check with my DM to see if he'd let me use the rod as a club... Although it seems the wizard isn't proficient in club. That's weird.

Ok, first house rule, wizards get clubs.

So what did your first character look like?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Weather & Time in D&D

In my over 2 decades of playing D&D neither time nor weather played much of a role, except when it was vitally important to the adventure. From Rules Cyclopedia to 2nd, 3.0 & 3.5 to 4e, weather was only mentioned rarely. Didn't matter much whether it was in the deserts of Al-Qadim, the streets of Sigil, Thunder Rift, or the frozen north. If there wasn't a hurricane blowing, a sandstorm incoming, or a blizzard dumping a foot of snow an hour, the weather was always just... baseline normal for the setting. It was as climate controlled as most of the places we played.

The same thing went for time. Unless there was a literal clock ticking in game, outside of combat it was always very loosely handled, and mostly by DM fiat.


And I ignored it. Happily. With no small amount of success as a DM. And so did the DMs I played under. It just wasn't a big deal.

Except recently my thinking has changed a bit. I'm playing in 2 games right now, a Castles and Crusades game The Ancient Sagas of Everlance, and a B/X Expedition to the Keep on the Borderlands, and both Mario and Peter (the DMs) keep close track of both time and weather.

A calendar from the Realms

The B/X game is a hex crawl, and it's very much a resource management experience. How much can we explore and still make it back to the keep? Or if we're not going back to the keep, where do we keep our crap, and how many days of rations do we still have unspoiled? If it takes 3 hours to get to the pumpkin-head's cave, and 3 hours back, how long do we have till sunset? Is it worth going out of the keep in the rain if it's going to slow us down, limit our ability to really search the hexes?

In the Ancient Saga of Everlance (no, I don't actually know why it's called that) I've been the game's chronicler, keeping an in-character diary. Knowing what happened what day has made a difference. Things happen in a specific order. And yes, Mario handles travel time a little more loosely, but it isn't a hex crawl, and he keeps very close track of days and of the weather, and that has made a difference in how I'm experiencing the game. Hell, knowing my character had the inn's special for the day (curry owlbear chop) further lends a level of immersion to the game that I didn't expect. I would usually just say something about the stew over the fire and move on. Every inn our characters visit (and we've hit a bunch on the road) is at least a little different.

So maybe Gary was on to something? Since I'm going to be starting a DCC campaign in a couple of weeks (my first ongoing gig as a DM in quite a while) I'm going to make a greater effort to keep track of time and weather in my game.

What's been your experience with time and weather in your RPGs? Do you run it lose, or do you keep a really close eye on things? 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fun with maps

I spent much of Saturday hanging out at Titan Games working on my OSR Superstar entry, surrounded by people playing Magic, WarmaHordes, 40k, and a variety of board games. I didn’t get involved in any games myself, and only spoke to a couple of people. It was a really nice way to spend a hot and humid Saturday afternoon. Sometimes it’s nice to just be around other people who like the same sort of things you do, soaking up the ambiance. Plus, I got a complete draft of my entry written up.

Speaking of, I’m pretty pleased with my adventure: Keroth’s Bridge. I’m still making a few tweaks, finishing off the map, and feeling a little less rushed since Erik pushed the due date back. This means I can actually clean up the map before I ink it and do all the crosshatch fill, and then add the numbers after I scan it, rather than hand write the numbers.

The new due date is Sunday, but I think I'm going to try to get it wrapped up by Wednesday, since I have a busy weekend. Specifically, it looks like my DCC game at Charm City Game Day is full plus one! 9 Players if everyone shows up! I haven't run a table that large in over a decade... Definitely not pulling any punches...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Charm City Game Day is in 1 week!

Attention Greater Baltimore Area Gamers!

The semi-annual Charm City Game day is scheduled for July 19th at Games and Stuff in Glen Burnie. There are morning and afternoon games being played... 14 in total! And you'll find everything from Traveller to DCC to Star Wars to Fate to Dungeon World... I've had a blast every time I've gone, and I'll be running a morning DCC session: +Daniel Bishop's Prince Charming. Reanimator.

Signups are open and I only have 3/8 seats left open for my game! I hope to see you there!

Friday, July 11, 2014

OSR Superstar?

I'm afraid I don't have a whole lot going on this week. Between the release of 5e, and trying to get my entry done for Tenkar's OSR Superstar Contest, and releasing issue 1 of the Octavo... Well, there isn't a whole lot of time for blogging. I do appreciate all the individuals who've been doing all the reviews of 5e though. They've pointed out a few things I missed in my initial read through.

Anyway, so this isn't a complete waste of a post, here's a preview of what's coming for my contest entry.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bits and Bobs XXII

If you listen to Spellburn, you know it, you love it. If you don’t, click, listen, love. Then go listen to Spellburn.

Did you ever wonder why, when necromancers can so easily animate the dead, and all sorts of other corporeal undead stalk the night civilization hasn’t just opted to cremate the dead? There’s a really good reason actually, though rarely discussed. Ed Allen over at Ruminations of a Geek has a pretty good idea why.

What do you get if you cross a redneck with a jedi? An order of psychic warriors called the Jedites. And if you want to play one in Labyrinth Lord, Nick Peterson over at Of Dice and Djinn has the call written up and ready to kick ass.

If you haven't picked up Vornheim yet (and why not??) you've still got a few hours to snag it for the low low price of Pay What You Want!

Over at Sea of Stars, there's a great post about enchanted salt weapons and armor. Timothy Brannan from The Other Side Blog, who perpetually writes about witches has an interesting Web Witch, that has no known connection to the drow.

Worth looking at for that reason alone! Familiars, the little animal helpers of witches and wizards everywhere... aren't the cute little fuzzballs they look like. Arnold K over at Goblin Punch has a very DCC style take on them.

Alchemy and potion making really should be left to the professionals, but adventurers being crazymurderhobos, will do what they do. And when they mix healing potions with orc spawning pool liquid... the results can be interesting.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Note to self

Yesterday I released The Archmage’s Octavo to the wild, and almost immediately it was pointed out that in trying to fill a blank spot, I managed to cut out a couple of sentences of the Magic Eater monster description. Nothing vital, but embarrassing, and a clear reminder to stop making tweaks after you’ve had your editors look something over.

Anyway, here’s the link to the corrected file.

In other news I finished reading the new D&D PDF and Starter box. Still mulling it over, but I'm pretty impressed... Can't wait to give it a try!

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Archmage's Octavo: Issue 1

Normally on Mondays I share a new monster. Today, I'm sharing issue 1 of my zine: The Archmage's Octavo. In this inaugural issue I've included the variant rules for wizard carousing (aka research), a new monster that fits in very will with this month's RPG Blog Carnival theme of invasive species, and an adventure location that ties together the research rules, the monster, and a ruined tower map by Dyson Logos.

Formatting note: This PDF is designed to be printed front to back, and folded booklet style.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday Inspirational Image: Castle

One thing that I've never used in D&D is the wilderness castle encounter from page 95 of the Rules Cyclopedia...

Castle by Maciej Kuciara

Friday, July 4, 2014

Free RPG Day Reviews: DCC, X-Crawl, LotFP & C&C

I managed to snag 3 modules for Free RPG Day at Titan Games: DCC’s Elzemon and the Blood-Drinking Box/X-Crawl’s Dungeon Detonation!(double module), LotFP’s Doom-Cave of the Crystal Headed Children, and the Castles and Crusades offering A Druid’s Lament.

C&C’s A Druid’s Lament is in some ways a very DCC style adventure. The background is that a druid, pissed off that her forest is being clearcut, petitions her god for some old testament style help smacking down the loggers after they laughed at her and beat her up when she tried to stop them. In answer, a great forest spirit full of rage shows up and kills everyone who enters the woods, including an innocent family out for a picnic. This was a bit more than the druid planned on, and she wants the adventurers to banish the spirit. She isn’t going to help directly, either.

Oh, and the spirit has taken up residence in a great oak tree that has grown over the ruins of an ancient evil tomb (of course), and the combination is turning the whole forest evil.

Unfortunately it’s back to generic fantasyville from here. I really got the impression that this adventure could go to 11, but they only ever crank it up to a 6 or 7. The actual encounters are pretty uninspired, the ruin/dungeon under the tree was built by the “first human empire” which no one has ever heard of, no one will read the language of, but you should totally include it in your campaign!!!! I can’t tell you how much this sort of advice turned me off of this adventure.

Rather than try to shoehorn it in, why not suggest that DMs reflavor the dungeon to match whatever the local ancient evil empire was? Also, making it one that no one, not even the elder elves remembers… how does that make the PCs care? If the elves don’t even remember, who cares?

I think there’s a good adventure here hindered by the authors trying too hard in all the wrong ways. You’ve got a rage filled forest spirit summoned but not controlled by a now regretful druid. The ancient empire thing adds nothing interesting, and detracts from a solid idea.

LotFP’s 32 page offering is not nearly as impressive as last year’s 96 page Better Than Any Man, but then that’s a nearly impossible bar to reach for a free product!

It is a goofy, creepy, and unique adventure that will challenge just about any party that doesn’t have access to wish level magics (and might challenge some that do). There’s a lot of humor in this adventure, and it doesn’t shy away from pulling in heaps of sci-fi and modern references. Yet Raggi makes it work… there is a logic to all of it, and the adventure pulls aside the curtain for the DM to understand what’s going on too.

The artwork, by +Gennifer Bone is perfect for the adventure, finding the right balance between the seriously creepy messed up mind of Raggi, and the humor and absurdity of it all. I think this piece captures it all.

On top of the great story and art, there’s also a monster mechanic that most closely relates to the Law of Conservation of Ninjitsu, which I’ve never seen implemented in such a simple way. It’s worth picking up for that alone.

The DCC offering was a little on the short side (6 pages including map), but still a fairly solid little adventure. I wouldn’t hesitate to drop it into a game as a side quest. I did read one review (I don’t remember where) that complained that it was linear. Given the length, and the fact that it takes place mostly in a big circular hole… I’d have to agree, but I don’t think given those factors that being linear takes away from the adventure. There are a number of other adventures, including Michael Curtis’ Emerikol was Framed that are also linear, and also fun. Not every dungeon needs to be a twisting labyrinth that branches and connects all over the place.

On the flip side of the DCC adventure is an X-Crawl adventure Dungeon Detonation! (which is why the DCC offering is only 6 pages).For those unfamiliar with the game, X-Crawl is a d20 dungeon crawl game set in the modern/near future world where adventuring parties are the sports superstars of the world, and they enter dungeons built by the mega-rich for gold and glory, and the entertainment of the masses.

I’ve never played X-Crawl, but I love the concept… and the temptation to drop PCs from a more normal game into an X-Crawl just makes my evil little DM’s heart skip a beat with joy. This one is definitely worth the read, and not just for the flavor. Some of the room combinations would work really well in a funhouse style dungeon.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

New Magic Item: Magic Box

The red dragon gasped as he lay dying. Arrows pierced his scales, cuts oozed thick dark blood, and the blackened patch on his neck dripped melting ice. He locked eyes with Feris, and tried to speak, the words getting stuck in his ruined throat.

“This is it.” Nimble called out from the far end of the cave. He carried the box carefully, almost reverently.

“Is it trapped?” Asked Allianora.

“No, not that I can tell.” Feris answered.

Rathgar looked at the box, and then around to the coins, gems, and other treasures now scattered around the cave. “All this, and what you want is that box?”

“Most assuredly.” Nimble nodded.

“You know it’s dangerous…” Feris warned.

“Dangerous how?” Allianora looked up from the box, alarmed.

“The magic that box contains can rewrite the very fabric of reality.”

“Don’t your spells do that?”

“Of course, but only in a very limited way. That box can change… everything.”

“Why didn’t he use it?” Rathgar pointed over at the dragon.

“He might have, but not effectively. He didn’t have the imagination for it.”

“Nimble… are you sure this is a good idea?”

“Yes.” He paused. “No… but we have to.”

“Why risk it? We don’t know what we’re doing…”

Nimble grinned and looked up from the box “When has that ever stopped us?”

“If you’re going to do it, best get to it.”

Magic Box

This item, rare and powerful, allows a character to steal a mechanic from a different edition and use it in place of the standard rule for that edition. This rule change will permanently change the game world changing the rule for everyone it applies to. The Dungeon Master can make one rule change for every change the player makes.

I don't actually get my magic box for a couple of weeks yet, but I'll have the basic PDF by the end of the day!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Expedition to the Keep on the Borderlands session 2

This session was played on June 28, 2014 at Titan Games. Session 1 can be found here. Unlike that first report, this one was written by Peter Fröhlich, the DM!

The party (initially) consists of Melvin the Magnificient (male wizard), Wandra (female fighter, Melvin's bodyguard), Nayla (female fighter), and Alsador (male cleric of Tyr); Jax and Gorinka said they need to rest their weary bones.

Chronic financial difficulties make Melvin spend his last few gold pieces on 12 flasks of oil to smoke out the bugbears. The party returns to the bugbear lair and mounts their fiery assault. Sadly the bugbears don't seem to take the bait but ring a gong to alert the entire tribe.

After a few minutes the party decides to enter the dungeon ready to spill blood and more flaming oil. However, they eventually end up caught between two bugbear forces and they also set themselves on fire twice by accident. Wandra is killed by one of the huge Bugbear flails.

The bugbear chieftain offers the party their lives as captured slaves, but Melvin won't have it. In a last desperate attempt to win the battle he throws his entire sack of oil flasks at a fire close to the chieftain. Sadly nothing happens and the party is taken prisoners.

Cut to the road south of the monastery of Oghma. The (second) party consists of Burl (male halfling), Roos (male cleric of St. Cuthbert), Aera (female fighter), and Raph (male fighter).

These four had been sent south to contact baron Akar about a week ago. When they finally had a meeting with Akar's advisor they were told that the party of Melvin the Magnificent had been dispatched north to take care of all these troubles and that everything was being handled. They proceed to the keep and have a meeting with Gilda who cannot seem to remember anything about a Melvin and his party.

However, they find out from Marut the stableboy that he had led the other party to the bugbears two days ago and that four of them had set out this morning to attack that lair. Marut agrees to show them where the cave is, and so the party sets out to investigate the fate of Melvin and his companions.

Although they take a much more stealthy approach with Burl scouting ahead carefully, they are ambushed by three bugbears at the entrance to the lair. Luckily their brief melee doesn't seem to attract more attention, so they continue to sneak into the darkness.

After lots of careful scouting they decide to launch a surprise attack at a room where Burl heard monsterous giggling. They stumble right into the love nest of the bugbear chieftain and his mate and a chaotic melee ensues. Luckily they are able to overcome the giant monster fairly quickly. Searching the room reveals some treasure as well as a key to a store room across the way where they end up finding a magic shield covered in catnip and other goodies.

Encouraged by their exploits the party ventures down a steep flight of stairs only to get ambushed by two bugbear guards throwing spears. However, as luck would have it, they once again succeed in overcoming these two guards fairly quickly.

As they investigate the lower section of the dungeon they realize that they have stumbled into the bugbear's prison. They find prisoners of all kinds of races, kobolds, orcs, even a bugbear! But more importantly, they recruit the help of two human guards from Kendall Keep who were captured on patrol as well as a dwarf and an elf. And of course they find Melvin, Alsador, and Nayla! Crates are popped open and sacks ripped apart, revealing most of the equipment that was taken from the prisoners (minus all the valuables they were carrying however).

Thus bolstered to an "army" of eleven (!) they decide to attack the final bugbear stronghold, a big community room on the upper level of the dungeon. A keg of lamp oil is taken from the store room they found earlier, and they decide to surprise the remaining bugbears by rolling this giant "Molotov Cocktail" into the big room.

Over the elf's objections most of the party also decide to rush into the room when the keg fails to explode but keeps rolling toward a huge fireplace at the end of the room. Melee is joined, bugbear heads are cracked, and everything seems to be going well until the keg of oil finally decides to blow. All the remaining bugbears are taken out, however the flames also engulf Burl and Aera who end up being burned to a crisp.

The remaining nine decide that taking down one monster lair is enough for a day's work and head back to the keep. With a very excited stable boy I might add: He was promised a platinum piece and he did get it. :-)

At the keep the captain of the guard is very appreciative that the party rescued two of his men. However he doesn't have any way to formally reward them without Gilda opening the keep's coffers. So everybody retreats to the tavern for some well-deserved rest.

However, there they once again encounter the priest of Vana, and this time he's talking with a somewhat dubious character who shares new information about the lairs of the gnolls and kobolds that he and his "merry men" supposedly uncovered in the woods to the south and west...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

5e Incoming!

The release of the D&D Basic Rules PDF (FREE) is right around the corner (Thursday!), and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! I don’t yet know what I’ll do with it besides read it, but I’m looking forward to the reading. I think there's going to be a fair number of things that we'll see creep into various OSR games, particularly the advantage/disadvantage mechanic. I can think of a number of tweaks that could make that even more versatile. For example if you somehow incorporated the DCC Heroic Deeds mechanic...

This is where I started...

It’s interesting the various level of passion I’ve seen displayed toward 5e. Some people really care a whole lot, whether it’s for it or against it. I better understand the passion of the people that are looking forward to it. It’s something new, something potentially exciting, an infusion of some new ideas, maybe new people into our hobby.

I have a hard time understanding how that’s a bad thing, even if you have no interest in playing it yourself. How does this in any way stop you from enjoying a version of D&D that isn't officially supported anyway?They aren't taking away the OGL, the SRD is still up and running. Pathfinder certainly isn't going away! So what's with the hate?

On the other hand, I’ve gotten to play/DM more D&D of different types lately, including DCC, Castles & Crusades, and B/X, and I’m beginning to understand the strong preferences people have for their favorite systems, yet how minor those preferences/differences can be.

Who's going to start here, I wonder...

Even more than my own curiosity about the new edition, I’m looking forward to 5e bringing balance to the force I mean tapping down the edition wars that have flared up again that is... uhhh...

I'm looking forward to playing some more D&D, whatever the edition. Let's roll some d20's.