Saturday, August 30, 2014

#RPGaDAY 22-31

22nd - Best Secondhand RPG Purchase

Dungeon Crawl Classics. I picked it up last Christmas for $25.

23rd - Coolest looking RPG product / book

I'm going to again go with the DCC core book.

24th - Most Complicated RPG Owned

3rd Edition D&D with splatbooks. It really just got to be too much, which is why I stopped playing, and was thrilled with 4e.

25th - Favourite RPG no one else wants to play

Star Trek. As much as I love the show, I've never gotten anyone that's been willing to play the game, in any version. The closest I've gotten was a free-form storytelling game on a forum.

26th - Coolest character sheet

Maybe it's not cool, but I loved this sheet.

27th - Game You’d like to see a new / improved edition of…

Tales from the Floating Vagabond

28th - Scariest Game you’ve played

Honestly, playing in Stonehell with a level 2 fighter. I'd worked really hard for that level 2, and we were going into the section filled with undead.

29th - Most memorable encounter

It's a tossup between throwing the same hydra at the party 3 times, or having my god of moths go toe to toe with the god of war in a sword fight... and winning. :-)

30th - Rarest RPG Owned

I don't know that I actually own a rare RPG... Maybe the Star Wars supplements?

31st - Favourite RPG of all time

Rules Cyclopedia D&D always.

Big thanks to Autocratik for putting this list together, and to everyone else who participated.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The 6 Month Mountain Reduction & Painting Challenge - Introduction & Rules

I have a lot of unpainted minis. Like really a lot. I've very slowly been working my way through them, but it's unlikely I'll ever completely make it through the pile... but I've got to try! So in the spirit of motivating myself to get shit done, I'm joining in on The 6 Month Mountain Reduction & Painting Challenge from Chris' Miniature Woes and Dave's The Spider Web of History, which I found via The Dead Lead Project.

The rules, beginning September 1st, are as follows:

1. No purchasing of new miniatures, EXCEPT if you use a joker card.  Like in a deck of cards, you get two jokers to use on a figure purchase during the six months of the challenge.  Could be a blister pack, an ebay bundle, or a single can't splurge. [I don't think this is going to be an issue. There are so many reasons I don't need to buy any more minis...]

2.  Gifts do not count against you. Christmas and or birthdays etc. Also, if you're given gift cards by your hobby illiterate family or friends, you can without penalty use them on anything you want miniatures wise. [Again, not a problem. The last time someone gave me minis, it was a box of old D&D minis, and that was over 2 years ago.]

3.  Paints, terrain (or materials), and other hobby supplies do not apply to the no purchasing rule. [I'm set for paints and basing materials, so unless I break my clippers or something like that...]

4.  At least one hobby related blog post and/or Instagram update a week.  If you Instagram, be sure to hashtag your pic with #6MMRPC [I don't have an Instagram account, but I have a blog...]

5.  Zombtober will be part of the 6 month challenge so, Zombie related stuff during October is ENCOURAGED! [I can certainly work with that!]

In addition to those rules, my personal goal is at least one painted per week. It doesn't have to have been started that week, but one mini finished each week (basing doesn't count since batch basing works better for the most part). Extra minis finished in a week do not carry over!

We'll see how well I do with this...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unexpectedly Running 5e

Before last night's D&D Wednesday night encounters league I was working on some of my many Reaper Bones minis and thinking about how I wanted to level my wizard when the DM pops in early. It seems he has to attend some last minute event, and won't be able to run our table. Given that last week we had 2 full tables, and they were expecting to be able to do 3 tables this week... that was a problem.

The guys at the store knew I ran a game on Sunday, and they asked me to DM my own table.

I wanted to play, not DM... 

What was I going to do? Make my fellow players waste a night? Besides, I'd already read the adventure. So I grabbed the packet for the night and went to dinner. While chowing down on a bacon cheeseburger and waffle fries I refreshed myself on the stuff I'd intentionally tried to forget.

Now, my group is apparently a session or 4 ahead of where the adventure league is supposed to be. We kinda skipped a lot using stealth, and ran roughshod over any actual role playing. The governor barely had time to begin explaining a problem before we were on it. I think we managed something like 7 or 8 encounters in 2 hours.

So for tonight, I wanted to slow things down a bit. I intentionally made my players role play, interacting with the governor and one of the survivors of the attack. Then, of their own accord, they opted to role play with the cultists they were chasing! Seriously, no combat dice were rolled till over an hour of table time had passed! I played the cultists as incredibly lazy and stupid, and the kobolds as simpering cowards. In spite of my players' poor dice rolls for deception, the cultists perception results were even worse. And everyone got involved.

The combat itself wasn't actually all that challenging, but it did end up taking them the rest of the allotted time.
While the players noted the different pace, and one of them was seriously itching for a fight by the halfway point, everyone seemed to have a good time.

Beyond that, I felt like I really nailed it. Sure, there are a couple of things I'd have done a little differently, but overall I'm really pleased with how I did.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bits and Bobs XXIII

This week is the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters. For those like me who were too young to see it in the theater, it's back on Friday! You know I'll be there!

And if that isn't enough for you, Crooked Dice Games is releasing Four Paranormal Exterminators and (a big!) Ectoplasmic Entity.

Over at Wrath of Zombie's Blog there's a gory Blood Witch class for DCC. Like most of his stuff, it's well worth checking out.

Noah Stevens of The Hapless Henchman has a nasty deep black, tissue-paper-like monster called Noctules. Not only that, but he wrote them up for Dungeon Crawl Classics, Labyrinth Lord, and Swords and Wizardry!

If the new 5th edition is more your thing right now, Ed Hackett of Chainsaw Chirurgeon has a Myconids (mushroom people) race for you to use.

Arnold K over at Goblin Punch has some Fungal Giants + Moss Men + Disease Rules that thematically fits in with Ed's Myconids, even though it's more oldschool than 5e.

Jack over at Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque has a Mourning Blade (undead hunter) class for 5e.

Feel like you need some guns for 5e? Nicholas over at Realms of Chirak has you covered.

Cult of the Dragon bore you? Worshipers of the Great Old Ones just not doing it for you? How about some cults based on superheroes from Cedric P of Hors du chaudron de Koscista Noga?

And who's letting these cultists get away with it? Maybe it's the result of some (In)Effective Policing? Luke of ANT-LERRR has some random charts to try to figure out what sort of constabulary a town has.

Turn undead is a really underutilized mechanic. What else can the cleric do with Turn Undead? Eric over at The Dragon's Flagon has a few ideas worth checking out.

Lastly, I've decided that not everything I want to share really works well in blog format, especially lots and lots of pictures, so I've created a Tumblr, appropriately named Basement of the Archmage. There isn't a ton of content there yet, and none of it will be original to me, but it's stuff that I think is cool.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

5e Monster: Clockwork Zombie

Clockwork Zombies
Medium construct, neutral evil

AC: 14 (natural armor)
HP: 22 (3d8+9)
Speed: 25 ft.

Str 13 +1
Dx 6 -2
Con 14 +2
Int 10
Wis 5 -3
Cha 5 -3

Saving Throws Con +4, Wis -4
Damage immunities: lightning, poison
Condition Immunities: poisoned, frightened
Senses: Darkvision 60 ft., passive perception 10
Languages: understands the language it knew in life, can’t speak
Challenge: ½ (100xp)

Lightning Recharge: Whenever the clockwork zombie is subjected to lightning damage, it takes no damage, and gains temporary hitpoints equal to half the lightning damage dealt.

Tick-Tock: Clockwork zombies can never surprise anyone that can hear.

Slam. Melee weapon attack +4 to hit, reach 5 ft. One target. Hit: 8 (2d6+1) bludgeoining damage.

The manipulation of necromatic forces to reanimate a body is not an exact science, nor is it an easy path to master. The turning of gears, the pumping of fluids, and the spark of electricity may be just as arcane, but it is a science, though a weird one.

Clockwork zombies smell of chemical preservatives, and are full of gears, pumps, and assorted steampunk paraphernalia that animate these poor souls. The animation process manages to preserve the mind of the original creature, but twists it to evil. They are intelligent, but easily fooled.

My first attempt at a 5e monster...

Image Source

Monday, August 25, 2014

Has 5e killed the OSR?

No, of course it hasn’t!

While 5e has certainly received a lot of praise (well deserved in my opinion) and attention from the OSR crowd, the OSR is not a thing that is so easily killed off. For one thing, the OSR isn’t just one thing or group. It’s a massively complicated venn diagram of overlapping interests: older editions of games, clones, retro-clones, neo-clones, and more all hacked, house ruled, and DIY’d together under the flailsnails conventions and constantcon.

The standout feature of the OSR? Creativity. Amazing, twisted, weird, inventive people writing, drawing, and mapping things that spark the imagination. Some of it is inflammatory. Some of it is insane. Much of it is not safe for work! It’s Punk and Metal. It rocks harder than your favorite band. It’s diverse and wild with jazz-like improve and cross-pollination.

The introduction of 5e into the mix does nothing to change that. All it does is add some new flavors for people to play with. Is it monopolizing the conversation? A bit, but given what it is, the new edition of the game that started the hobby, that’s to be expected. It's new and exciting, and people are talking about D&D all across the media landscape in a positive light!

Of course that doesn’t mean that the OSR has ground to a halt, even temporarily. New issues of The Mannor and The Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad are coming out, the Gor inspired RPG is on indigogo, Zak’s Red and Pleasant Land is due out soon, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Is it all going to be good? Of course not, but even the lot good might have something interesting, something that someone will take and make something else new that might be good...

I’m excited to be playing 5e. I’m excited to be running 5e. I’m excited about maybe running two games of 5e!

Do I wish i could get some people to play DCC? Yup. It’ll happen, and my interest in it isn’t going away. Not with the Chained Coffin and the Purple Planet yet to arrive in my greedy grubby hands! But until then, I’m going to enjoy this new edition and the excitement that it’s created not just in the OSR but in the RPG community in general.

Let's roll some dice.

Post edited to correct for the fact that the Gor RPG has not (yet?) hit its funding goal. My error.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Inspirational Image: The Betrayer

Kharn The Betrayer, Warmaster of the World Eaters, Chosen of Khorne, Wielder of Gorechild frequently was included in my army, and his figure often served as a stand in for whatever nameless chaos lord was leading my insane chainax swinging force on the table of battle.

The best thing about Kharn, and where he gets his name, is the face that in the heat of battle he's just as likely to kill one of his own.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review: The Chained Coffin

Michael Curtis is one of my favorite game writers. From The Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope to The Dungeon Alphabet to Stonehell to the various DCC adventures he’s written, it’s all quality stuff. Beyond that, every interaction I’ve had with him has been positive.

I’m sure he’s tired of me asking about Stonehell 2 though… :-)

Given that he just had to write a TON of extra material for his successful kickstarter The Chained Coffin, and that he's written three 5e adventures, and he’s involved in a number of other upcoming projects, it’s probably going to be a bit yet till I get my greedy hands on it.

But I’m not here to talk about Stonehell, but rather The Chained Coffin.

I brought it with me when I hiked the Appalachian Trail a few weeks ago (wish I was still out there) in part because the setting of the Chained Coffin is based on Appalachia. Granted, it’s more a more southern stretch than where I hiked, but you get the idea.

Not only did I bring it with me, but I spent the week showing it to anyone who followed me on the trail by sticking it in the clear pocket of my sleeping bag's sack.

This is a terrible and blurry photo of my pack in the back sear of the car, but you can see The Chained Coffin prominently displayed!

There are going to be spoilers below…




The basic premise is that the party gets hold of the titular Chained Coffin. Entombed within is a holy cleric trapped by a chaos champion… his former friend. The chaos champion is getting ready to ascend to true demonhood, and the PCs have to stop him.

On the way there are a number of flavorful encounters, including one with Ol’ Blackcloak, a devil who’s looking for some souls to steal. A fiddle may or may not play a role in that encounter…

Other possible encounters include an old hag, hill giants, bears, trolls, wild hogs, and of course the various Shudderfolk families. Every encounter helps add to the feel of the Shudder Mountains as an old, dangerous place, but different from the typical quasi-medieval setting most D&D-type games are set in. There is something just different enough by shifting the setting to a quasi-appalachian land that gives this adventure a unique feel, something you don’t see often. Unlike the Purple Planet, it is just familiar enough that the weirdness comes off as unsettling. It’s the difference between banjos playing in the woods when you’re camping, vs a theremin ringing out while strange lights flash in the sky.

Like the Purple Planet, the Chained Coffin is also a hex crawl adventure, and while it doesn’t have the same source, there is a strong motivation to keep the players moving toward their goal - stopping the chaos lord!

One of the gimmicks of The Chained Coffin adventure (and the original reason to do the kickstarter) is the spinner. While it plays an important part of the adventure, once it’s over… there are other uses for it! Michael included 5 alternate uses for the spinner, plus whatever you can come up with yourself. And as ever, Doug Kovacs did an amazing job with the art. I really love all the little details on the maps and the spinner.

Finally, the adventure also comes with a bonus adventure - The Rat King’s River of Death by Steve Bean. It’s a nice little (4.5 pages plus map) level 1 adventure. I’m a little bummed that it doesn’t seem to have been written specifically for the Shudder Mountains, but aside from that it’s a nice addition to The Chained Coffin. And really, it wouldn’t take much work to tweak it to fit.

Once again Goodman Games seems to have knocked it out of the park! I can't wait for the rest of the material to come out (or for SH2).

Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: Peril on the Purple Planet

This is a review of the PDF of the Peril on the Purple Planet adventure by Harley Stroh. Not included in this review are any of the other products that will be included in the finished boxed set.

I’m really looking forward to both the complete Peril on the Purple Planet and the Chained Coffin/Shudder Mountains sets, but even the core adventures that seeded these two massive releases are filled with enough material that you don’t really need anything else to base an entire campaign around them.

Peril on the Purple Planet is heavily inspired by Edgar Rice Burrough’s Mars stories and the other Sword and Planet type stories. The adventure finds the PCs transported to a dying alien world, under a dying star that saps their strength, and the only way to get home is to activate an ancient artifact. If only they knew how…

The adventure is set up as a hex crawl with lots of keyed areas, random encounters, warring factions, seriously deadly yet potentially helpful Relics of the Ancients (including laser rifles!), and natural hazards (giant sand worms!) all of which will challenge the adventurers' ability to survive and get home.

On top of all that you also get charts for customizing the Kith, 15 Mushrooms of the Purple Planet that correspond with the mushrooms shown on the cover image, and a listing of Relics of the Ancients characteristic and operating instructions based on a series of 8 runes that each item shares. 

The art and cartography are the usual high standard that Doug Kovacs and Stefan Poag produce, and special mention has to be made about the cover, which will also be the DM’s screen art.

Seriously, is that not fantastic? The whole adventure has that feel about it.

If you didn’t get in on the kickstarter, this is definitely an adventure you’ll be wanting to check out for yourself once it’s released. You’ll also be strongly considering setting an entire campaign on the Purple Planet, not just one massive fantastic adventure… I so can not wait for the rest of the material to come from the Purple Planet!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Actual Play 5e Initial Review

Last night I finally got to sit down and play 5e. Titan Games is running D&D Encounters with 2 full tables. 2 hour sessions, running through Horde of the Dragon Queen. I was under the impression that the Encounters sessions were going to run something in the Tyrany of Dragons story line, but something other than this adventure. Which is why I didn't worry about picking up Horde of the Dragon Queen a couple of weeks ago, and reading through it.


Clockwise around the table, starting with me at 12 o'clock:
Dwarven Wizard
Dragonborn Thief
Human Cleric of Bane
Tiefling Paladin
Dwarven Sorcerer
Human Fighter/Barbarian
Human Ranger

I can say, thus far at least, it hasn't spoiled my fun, and I'll do my best to refrain from using my knowledge at the table. With 5 or 6 other players every week, that shouldn't be a problem.

As for how it went? It was great! It felt like D&D, it played like D&D. First level is still pretty squishy. I'd have gone down if I had been playing a wizard of any other race at least twice. The dragonborn thief constantly was having to make death saves. The fighter (will be a barbarian next week) dropped once, as did the paladin, and I think just about everyone else came close too.

On top of that, I'm going to try my hand at running 5e on Sundays, since I haven't managed to get any interest in DCC.

This was the other table, showing us up with their fancy headgear...

Ancient Sagas of Everlance: No dignity in jail or death

This update covers sessions played on 7/27 & 8/3. The current cast of character is as follows:

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

6th Erstdain, 1096 md.

Gloriana rewards those who fight with honor and intelligence. Fools are relegated to the charnel pits.

Once again, rain. Since the cave is only a couple of miles out of town, we’re going to walk, rather than take the horses out in this mess. With some skill and luck we’ll find the dagger and be on our way.

6th Erstdain, 1096 md. (continued)

Praise be to Gloriana for forgiving the foolishness of her less than humble servant.

We found the goblin cave easily enough. We also attempted to find the farmer, but didn’t spot him or his house. The cave proved well stocked with what I can only presume was stolen goods. It was also well stocked with goblins. We barely made it out alive. We’re now back at the inn with the dagger, dried off, and I’m looking forward to something warm from the kitchens.

7th Erstdain, 1096 md.

Gloriana does not tip the scales of justice. They will balance fairly under the bright light of day.

We were arrested for theft of the dagger. The farmer Thale Gorfin claimed he spied us on his land. Since we did in fact have the dagger, the local sheriff felt that he had the right to haul us all into his cells.

We were then brought before the local magistrate, and released. I have little hope that Thale Gorfin will face any consequences of making a false report, or harboring goblins on his farm. The lack of respect shown to 2 priests and a paladin (and a mage) is, frankly, astounding.

This is the final entry in the journal. Brother Caswyn fell in battle against a horde of goblins. The battle was fierce, and his sword deadly, but luck was not with him, or his companions. Each was felled in turn, even as the goblins numbers dwindled. Only the intervention of the ½ elven ranger Kelmar saved his companions.

In the WORST turn of luck I’ve seen in a long time, I managed to roll three 1’s in a row, and somehow managed to fumble so badly that Caswyn cut the back of his own knee open, and bleed out for 1d12 damage/round for something like 6 or 8 rounds. He had 12hp (I think) total.

The rest of the party was either dropped to 0 or knocked unconscious with only 2 or 3 injured goblins remaining. Rather than do a full on TPK, Mario (the DM) decided to let my next character (Kelmar) show up just as the last member of the party dropped.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wilderness Encounters on the AT

One of the things I noticed early on hiking the trail is that you spend a lot of time looking down, watching where you put your feet. Aside from the few really flat and gravel covered sections, the ground on the AT is scattered with rocks, uneven, and in spots muddy, which can make for treacherous footing. A little twist of the ankle, or a stubbed toe hurts, and can slow you down. Just stumbling on a loose rock with a pack on your back can throw you to the ground.

Remembering to look up and around is something that you find you have to remind yourself to do.

What does this have to do with encounters? It strongly impacts the distance at which the encounter happens!

This is a list of creatures I encountered on the trail:
  • Human, AT Thru-Hiker
  • Human, AT Lifer
  • Human, AT Section Hiker
  • Human, AT Day Hiker
  • Human, AT Volunteer
  • Human, Law Enforcement
  • Snake, Large Black
  • Snake, Ribbon
  • Turtle (not mutant or ninja that I could tell)
  • Deer
  • Squirrels
  • Chipmunks
  • Goat, wild
  • Birds (various)
  • Bugs (various)

The various human encounters, when they didn’t happen at a shelter, usually happened at a distance of 5-15 yards.

Both snake encounters happened at 1-2 yards

The (non-human) mammalian encounters and the bird encounters ranged from about 2-15 yards.

Yes, that's a wild goat

Bug encounters usually happened at 0-1 yards.

Encounter distance in the Rules Cyclopedia is based entirely on light levels. I had good light the entire time, but the 4d6x10 yards range is ridiculous in the woods. Sure, in a field, or a grassy plain or something open like that, but there is no way I was spotting anyone at anything even half way approaching 240 yards away unless it was a marching band or something else similarly loud.

Might be a teenage turtle

While I don’t think I’ve ever used the encounter distance chart, since I usually base it on what’s happening directly at the table, but if I did, I would take the result as the maximum distance the PC’s would spot the counter on a featureless plain, and then start knocking it down to a more reasonable distance based on the terrain. I’d also be more likely to impose a penalty on surprise checks in situations where the footing is uneven.

Creatures Not Encountered:
  • Bears
  • Snake, Poisonous
  • Mountain Men
  • Cats, wild
  • Boars (generally only found further to the south)
  • Moose (generally only found further to the north)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

#RPGaDAY in August #15-21

15th - Favourite Convention Game

Nobilis, because who doesn't want to be a god?

16th - Game you wish you owned

Is it cheating to say "all of them?" If so, then I'm going to pick the new Star Wars games.

17th - Funniest Game you’ve played

Tales from the Floating Vagabond - it helps to be drunk/really tired.

18th - Favourite Game System


19th - Favourite Published Adventure

That's a really tough call... Of the one's I've run, I really enjoyed Quest for the Silver Sword, and I've run it a couple of times now. Of the ones I've read, it's hard to pick one... Maybe the DCC adventure 81 - The One Who Watches from Below? And that's if I stick with just pure adventures, and not include boxed sets, megadungeons, etc.

20th - Will still play in 20 years time…

Some from of old school D&D I hope...

21st - Favourite Licensed RPG

d6 Star Wars

The #RPGaDAY in August event is hosted over at Autocratik.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Jewelry of the Bloodmilk Necromancer

The Bloodmilk Necromancer is not a name, or a title, but a cabal of macabre craftsmen, though few know the truth of this. Most believe there is a single individual who goes by that name. This belief has been fostered by the cabal by a clever disguise that hides the true appearance of anyone wearing it anytime the Bloodmilk Necromancer must make an appearance. A great voluminous mantle enchanted with a variety of illusionary magics makes the face of the wearer completely hidden in shadow. Beneath the shadow is an illusion of a gaunt bearded man, beneath that a deaths head. A final illusion of a mass of bloody worms constantly devouring the flesh of the face they cover. 

The works of the Bloodmilk Necromancer are enchanted items of jewelry. Each piece contains a minor magical effect, while at the same time being layered with a a curse, and another hidden enchantment - a link that allows the cabal to see and hear through their items whenever they're worn.

Jewelry of the Bloodmilk Necromancer

Item Type:
  1. Lens
  2. Necklace
  3. Ring
  4. Pendant
  5. Charm
  6. Bracelet

Defining Characteristic:
  1. Claw
  2. Bones
  3. Skull
  4. Horns
  5. Teeth
  6. Roll Twice
  1. Unintelligent undead will ignore the wearer
  2. Random gusts of cold wind will blow around the wearer
  3. Small items will be moved around slowly
  4. Random items will weep. 50% chance salty tears/blood
  5. Ghostly lights flicker around the wearer
  6. Intelligent undead are drawn to the wearer

  1. Ghastly appearance (pale, tired, etc.)
  2. Hair becomes thin and white
  3. Fingernails grow rapidly
  4. Eyes darken to black
  5. Teeth become pointed/fangs grow longer
  6. Joints crack and pop extremely audibly
  7. Earlobes droop
  8. Animals howl/hiss/bark at the wearer

Via: Knit me a pony

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: The Well of Souls

“From the darkness of the well emanates the haunting moans of the deceased plunderers and defilers who risked everything to learn the secrets below. But you have something they did not: The Tablets of Fate. Through guile and treachery, force and luck, you have jointly acquired these ancient stone tablets, and only with their hieroglyphics dare you hope to circumvent the horrors that lie within the Well of Souls.

You and your guide, Farid, stand around a gaping hole in the floor of a mountain cave. A crude pulley and rope system hangs over the hole, and from it dangles a single wooden bucket. Will you brave the depths below in search of fame, fortune and liberation from your downtrodden lives?”

This is a level 0 adventure, but it can be enjoyed with a party of 1st level characters aided by hirelings. It was designed to play in about 4-hours or less, making it ideal for new players, convention play, or even a one-shot.

By purchasing the print option, you also get the PDF for free!

The document is 5.5″ x 8.5″, and the printed version uses premium parchment paper for interior pages, and 65 lb. card stock for the cover. The interior pages have a deckle edge.
All print copies are assembled by hand.

The Well of Souls clocks in at 14 pages of content, including a page of handouts and 3 full page maps. I don't have the hard copy yet, so I can't comment on the premium parchment paper or hand assembly. The maps themselves are nicely drawn and easy to read. There isn't any art, aside from the cover, and the 3 tablets handout.

The adventure itself is a solid DCC funnel, and interestingly, designed for fewer players/characters than I'm used to seeing. 12-16 PCs, for 3-5 players.

Like most DCC adventures, the real danger isn't so much the monsters, though they're plenty deadly, but rather the tricks and traps. There are certainly enough clues to get past most of them, but what's the fun in that? I like how the adventure adds some twists on a traditional monster, and the magic item is not only flavorful, but useful.

My main criticism of the adventure is that it lacks a basic overview of the adventure, and ends with a door... to an area not covered by the adventure, and with no hint that it's the end of the adventure. Just "this door leads to area 7 on the map" Turn the page, and no area 7. It just seems an odd choice, given how little it would take to add a line saying "this door leads to an area that will be covered in the next adventure, or to the location of the judge's choice."

Aside from that, I'd say it's worth the $2 for the PDF if you're in need of a DCC funnel. I'll let you know what I think about the $5 print copy (with free PDF) when I get it.

You can buy The Well of Souls by clicking here.

If you're interested in seeing the Well of Souls in action, I'll be running it for ANTIGENCON on Sunday afternoon via google hangout. 

Disclosure: I received my copy for review for free.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


I'm not actually at GenCon, and really it's my own damn fault. There isn't really a good reason I'm not there.

I'm going to try to make the best of it though. I have a friend going, and he's going to try to snag a few things for me. Also, I'm running a DCC game at ANTIGENCON! If, like me, you're not at GenCon, you should sign up for a game, even if it isn't mine.

I also went to my FLGS last night and rolled up a character to play in the D&D Adventure League. It'll be my first time playing in an "official" D&D event. Also, there wasn't much rolling, since the rules require points buy for ability scores. We didn't realize this at first, and I had a pretty sweet pair of 16's. Oh well. 

Aside from that I have a pile of stuff to finish reading and write about, including (but not necessarily limited to):
  • Michael Curtis' Chained Coffin
  • Carl Bussler's Well of Souls
  • Harley Stroh's Peril on the Purple Planet
  • Daniel Bishop's Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror
  • D&D Basic v0.1 DMG
  • D&D Horde of the Dragon Queen
  • Dwimmermount
  • Crawljammer #3 
And I'm sure I'm forgetting something else...

You know, that's a lot of DCC...If only I could find someone to play with!

Anyway, that should all be upcoming relatively shortly.

Lastly, there's a #gygaxiandemocracy hex map that's in need of some love and attention.

THE KALTVAL a northern boreal forest nestled deep in glacial valleys, crawling with axalotlic kobolds, drakenkults, barbarian tribes and frigidian lizardines!

Come share your crazy ideas, and help us fill it in!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How Busy on the Trail?

In my Wilderness Travel is SLOW! post, Pippin asked “Any comments on how long adventurers would have to spend on activities related to travel: stops, food, water, visibility, other stuff that struck you during the trip?”


To be fair, my thoughts on the time and effort for these activities reflect the fact that I was backpacking with 20th and 21st century technology. Things might be a little different in a fantasy game...

During the day, I spent relatively little time doing much of anything other than walking, looking around, and snacking on GORP, granola bars, and snickers. Moving at speed (even a slow speed) while carrying a pack burns a lot of calories. While the snacking wasn’t constant, it was frequent. I never stopped for “lunch”, though I frequently stopped around lunch time if there was an overlook or shelter with a picnic table to take off my pack and eat a handful of something. These stops rarely lasted more than 15-20 minutes. If water was available, I’d drink as much as I could before setting off.

I’d also use the outhouse at just about every shelter I’d pass. This resulted in my never having to dig a hole or use my spade. Anytime I needed to urinate when I wasn’t near a shelter I’d just find a bush off the trail to hide behind.

One thing that did take extra time was foot care. This was especially true the afternoon of the first day and the entire second day. Having to stop and drain blisters and bandage my feet always took longer than expected. This was in part due to the fact that the cheap knockoff swiss army knife I had with me was crap. Not a single sharp blade on it. I ended up using the tip of the corkscrew to pierce the blisters.

¾ nights I stayed in shelters, which limited the amount of camp making I needed to do significantly. Basically I could drop my pack, pull out my little steno and stove, and make dinner. Unroll my sleeping bag, and I was pretty much done. I did have a fire some nights, which necessitated collecting wood. Since we weren’t keeping a watch, and didn’t need to keep the fire going all night, our wood needs were relatively light. I say we because there was always someone else at the shelters with me.

In general, I’d say that as long as the adventurers have at least an hour between stopping to camp, and sunset, they’ll probably be good. Of course while camp setup is going on, they’re going to all be noisy and distracted.

The perfect time for a hostile or curious random encounter!

More on encounters in my next post...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

#RPGaDAY 8-14

I don't want to tie up 31 posts with this, which is why I'm grouping it together in weekly batches.

8th - Favourite character

I'm a pretty big fan of Nick the Pike, a 6th level flailsnails fighter with the enmity of a devil, and a wish in his back pocket. Currently he's hanging out on Krynn.

9th - Favourite Die / Dice Set

I'm still a fan of my self-inked black Game Science dice.

10th - Favourite tie-in Novel / Game Fiction

THis one is tough, since it's been a long time since I last read game fiction. Most recently I think was probably Diane Duane's Harbinger Trilogy for Alternity's Star*Drive setting. I recall it doing a good job showing what this new setting was really like, as well as exploring some of the mysteries in it.

11th - Weirdest RPG owned

Honestly, probably Nobilis. Yes, same answer as the most intellectual RPG. I think it fits pretty well into both categories.

12th - Old RPG you still play / read

Rules Cyclopedia D&D!! It's still my go-to game, the rules set I compare all others against.

13th - Most Memorable Character Death

Boarface had his skeleton removed. That sucked a bunch.

14th - Best Convention Purchase

A big stack of Birthright stuff for pretty cheap. Still haven't read all of it yet.

The #RPGaDAY in August event is hosted over at Autocratik.

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Monster: Faceless Horror for DCC

Faceless Horror: Init +4; Atk ripping bite +1 melee (1d6+1 damage); AC 13; HD 4d8+4; MV 20'; Act 1d20; SP bit all targets within melee range, chatter; SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +5; AL C.

Crappy cell phone pic of my almost finished Reaper Bones horror

The Faceless Horror is a being that is entirely composed of flesh, teeth, and eyes. Being mostly boneless it is able to squeeze under/through gapes over 1". Anyone who comes within melee range can and will be bitten. The Faceless Horror also chatters constantly, and is incapable of surprising anyone who can hear. Additionally, anyone listening to the creature's chatter must make a Will save or suffer a -2 penalty to attacks for as long as they can hear the horror.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Kicking it DCC style

There are a couple of kickstarters going on right now that I wanted to point out to everyone.

The first is Peril on the Purple Planet adventure boxed set for DCC, though at this point it is much more an entire setting box set... and there's only about a day and a half to go. It's already reached it's goal, and all 9 of the original stretch goals, and it's now working on it's 10th.

It's written by Harley Stroh, Daniel J. Bishop, Tim Callahan, Edgar Johnson, and Terry Olson. Pretty impressive lineup...

Currently the boxed set contains:
  • Peril on the Purple Planet, the adventure module with an amazing three-panel wraparound cover and a three-panel fold-out gatefold map. 
  • Tombs of the Ancients, containing five mini-dungeons to be explored on the Purple Planet. 
  • Lost Tech of the Ancients, which contains an array of lost technology to be discovered on the atavistic Purple Planet. 
  • Bestiary on the Purple Planet, which contains a plethora of new enemies for your characters to battle in their explorations. 
  • Ecology of the Kith, with additional material on the bestial hordes that savage the purple plains, their ascendant masters, their glorious past, their degenerate present, and their refugee tribes. 
  • Mysteries of the Purple Planet, detailing at least 50 adventure hooks and random encounters, to give the judge inspiration for side treks, explorations, and entirely different adventures on the Purple Planet 
  • A book of handouts depicting scenes of the Purple Planet 
  • Magic of the Purple Planet. The reach of deities and patrons is not infinite, and the constellations familiar to terrestrial wizards are not easily located in the skies of the Purple Planet. So too are there great powers in the tech-laden world of the Purple Planet, whose mystical leanings are awakened by the arrival of the PCs… 
  •  The Purple Underplanet, describing adventures beneath the surface of the Purple Planet: monsters and races that have sought shelter from the weirdling sun, and their treasures and lairs 
  • A custom-printed three-panel Purple Planet judge's screen
All for $50. Pretty sweet compared to $50 for a D&D Player's Handbook.

On the mini side of things, Mantic is doing a kickstarter for their new dungeon exploration game Dungeon Saga: The Dwarf King's Quest.

prototype picture

To me it looks a lot like HeroQuest, a game I spent 5th grade completely obsessed with. This one has a bigger buy in at $100, but just under 3 weeks to make your decision. Keep an eye on this one, it's knocking through stretch goals like crazy.

Sunday Inspirational Image: Whore of Babylon

That's an interesting place to put a portal...

By PxelSlayer

Friday, August 8, 2014

Wilderness Travel is SLOW!

It turns out that walking 90 miles (give or take) in 5 days (not the 4 I’d hoped) with about 30lbs of stuff strapped to your back will not kill you. However, if you’re not used to it, it won’t feel good. Yet at the same time it’ll still be amazingly satisfying, even as you duct taping your feet for the 5th day in a row.

If you’ve never been on it, the Appalachian Trail is a well marked, well maintained wilderness trail. It’s extremely difficult to get lost, and it’s designed with many wonderful overlooks and rest areas. The week I spent on the trail had wonderful weather, far more reminiscent of early September than of late July. Still summery, but not too hot or humid. It never rained while I was on the trail, and only briefly at night.

In spite of these nearly ideal conditions, I averaged only around 2.25mph on the trail over the course of the 5 days. Some places were faster, some slower. At no point did I ever feel like I was making a brisk pace, except maybe the first mile or two. My normal hiking (without a pack) speed is much closer to 3.25mph.

Wilderness Travel is SLOW, even on a good trail.

Thru-Hikers who’ve been on the trail for weeks and months don’t make much better time than I did. 30 miles in a day is doable, at a forced march pace and full day duration. I did 26.32 miles my first day, and it took me over 12 hours. Terrible speed for a marathon, but not bad with a heavy and unwieldy pack. It also did a number on my feet, and on my shoes.

Day 2 I did about 15 miles to Harpers Ferry, and then another 4+ miles around town (2 miles up to and back from the AT Conservancy HQ). And then another 4 miles back onto the the trail to get to a campsite. Oh, and right at the end there? A 1,000 foot climb up a cliff. That’s 23 miles on day 2 for those keeping track.

The next 3 days were spent at a much shorter pace, around 13 or so miles a day. This was only somewhat voluntary, as my feet were pretty badly blistered by Wednesday (day 3). No, I’m not going to share pics of my blisters. I didn’t take any! I did count them, and at the worst, I had a total of 9. A week later, I’m finally all healed up.

So how does that compare to wilderness movement speeds in D&D? Well, in RC D&D, with my 30lb pack (300cn), I would be considered not encumbered, and able to move 36 miles a day.

Not so much. 30lbs strapped to your back is at LEAST lightly encumbered, and I’ll tell you that it felt more like heavily encumbered the longer I had it strapped to me. We’ll be more generous than my shoulders and hips felt, and say I was lightly encumbered. At that weight, on a trail, I can move up to 24 miles a day. That’s actually a pretty reasonable speed for someone in shape and used to hoofing it with a heavier pack. Maybe with more training (and thicker calluses) 30lbs wouldn’t feel encumbering? I doubt it. And even unencumbered, the Maryland Challenge (41 miles in 1 day) usually forces those who do it to at least take a rest day after. I can’t imagine that doing 36 feels much better. That’s still 12 hours of walking at 3mph, without breaks. That’s a long day, no matter how you look at it.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

#RPGaDAY 1-7

I'm a little late getting to this, but I didn't want to let it slip by completely. So here's my first 7 items!

1st - First RPG Played

D&D Classic Edition that came in the black box with that wonderful red dragon leaping up.

2nd - First RPG Gamemastered

The same as #1

3rd - First RPG Purchased

My first RPG purchased was FASA's Star Trek: The Role Playing Game, 2nd Ed. (1983) which I picked up sometime around... 1987 or early 1988. I really had no idea what it was, but I knew I loved the new Star Trek, and it was a Star Trek game, so I had to buy it (probably with birthday money).

4th - Most recent RPG purchase

DCC's Sailors on the Starless Sea and the One Who Watches From Below

5th - Most Old School RPG owned

Swords and Wizardry, probably. Though I think my Rules Cyclopedia is a close second.

6th - Favourite RPG Never get to play

Star Wars (d6)

7th - Most “intellectual” RPG owned


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Contest Results!

I had 12 entries in my random table Free RPG Day contest:
  1. Christian aka rorschachhamster entered a random Tail Generator
  2. c. vermeers offered up D12 Random Table - What Does The Mage Use For Magical Protection
  3. Dale Bailey entered Magic Missile Manifestations
  4. Matthew Schmeer entered Minor Meddling Immortals
  5. Thaumiel Nerub entered a Swampcrawl
  6. Christopher Dawson wrote up a random barnyard animals entry
  7. Brian Wille did Random Escape Pod Contents
  8. Edwin Stahlnecker entered some Random Events
  9. c. vermeers wrote What Is That Elf's Hairstyle? as his second entry into the contest
  10. Brian Richmond created some Magic School Charts
  11. A Teleportation Gone Very Wrong table was entered anonymously
  12. And finally Daniel Bishop entered a random table. 

The winners (Brian Wille, Thaumiel Nerub, Dale Bailey, and c. vermeers) were rolled randomly using 4d12, and they each will be receiving either their first of second choice from the prizes. 

These are the first 4 entries. Once I've posted all 12, I will put them all together as a free PDF.

Like a Special
Alligator -1 AC, but ½ damage by unbladed weapons
Armadillo +1 AC
Bird of Paradise Additional attack
Cat Burning
Cock Climb movement as normal movement
Cow Colored like another animal (roll again)
Deer Dazzling display
Devil/Demon Detachable
Dog Detachable and grows into adult monster within 1d6 days
Dolphin Detachable and Reatachable
Fish Diseased
Fox Disgusting
Horse Electric
Horseshoe Crab Ever moving
Lion Fabulous
Lizard Freezing cold
Manticore Grappling
Monkey Has extra eye(s), -2 on surprise rolls
Peafowl Looks odd...
Pheasant Luminescent
Pig Makes threatening sound
Rat Place of brain (instead of head)
Scorpion Poisonous attack
Skunk Short
Snail Showing feelings
Rattlesnake Swim movement as normal movement
Springtail Very big in relation
Stingray Very long
Tentacle With anal scent glands like a skunk
1d10+1 tails, reroll Roll twice
Just roll two times, once for each column, and add a tail to your monster. Or NPC. Or even PC.

What Does The Mage Use For Magical Protection by c. vermeers
1 - A magic circle with crabbed writing around the edge
2 - An amulet carved from a star sapphire, depicting a rooster-headed figure with serpents for legs
3 - A small, sealed bottle filled with urine and iron nails
4 - A crucifix
5 - A small box containing magical writing on paper, fastened to the back of his hand with ribbon arranged in a specific pattern
6 - A human tooth that once belonged to a Saint
7 - A cockatrice bezoar set in a silver cage and hanging on a silver chain
8 - A union suit embroidered with magical symbols
9 - A dog skull engraved with secret signs
10 - A wooden disk with a concave surface, painted black with a red pentagram and mystic writing in white
11 - A circular, concave silver mirror set in a wooden triangle
12 - Roll twice on this table

 Magic Missile Manifestations by Dale Bailey

A (d6) +B (d20) +C (d20) +

FaiencePlaying Card
GlaucousTree Branch
SkewbaldOcean Wave
SylvaniteSpinning Saw blade

And finally Minor Meddling Immortals which is a PDF by Matthew Schmeer that's well worth checking out.