Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG - Does a Patron By Any Other Name Still Smell Like Brimstone?

Alright, my random quest through the DCC RPG rulebook has brought me to the Patron Section.  Although half of the sample Patrons seem overwhelmingly evil, if not diabolical, in nature, the Three Fates is an example of power that is not evil.  So, if they were your patron you would have access to their power (and still possibly be open to corruption), but your patron would not be evil by nature.

Mind you, I'm not calling the Three Fates primarily good, but they seem to fall along the Order side of the Order - Chaos meter.  So, more like Lawful with Good tendencies (if we are looking at this through classic D&D eyes)

Four of patrons in the core book are evil, three are somewhat neutral and one is lawful with good leanings.

So, if one were to think up more patrons, would that ratio stay the same, or would one say that neutral and lawful patrons are under represented?

Now I Have the Wife Brainstorming for Me!

It was bound to happen.  We were driving earlier today and she started throwing (figuratively speaking of course) some things that she thought were ageless children's toys (to go along with my current unofficial theme of magic items based off of children's toys).  I had to tell her that the "pop up" dice roller from Trouble and a Slinkey probably weren't "timeless" in the sense I was looking for.

She did throw "Jacks" and a "Boomerang" in my direction, so i am grateful. ;)

I think I've written (or started to write) about a dozen items so far.  I'll see how far this them can take us.  I may drop one or two into the ACKS game tonight, although it probably won't include the Beer Bear from last night (I just had a Blueberry Ale from Blue Point Brewery - mmmmm!  bears would like this :)

So, if you want to throw some toys into the fire feel free.  Just the toy, mind you, not what it does.  I need to let my mind go off on it's own tangents without previous direction with this project.  Besides, it's more fun (and generally weirder too).

For Free RPG Day - Toys For the Sandbox #21 - Great Bridge

If you follow this blog you know how much I enjoy the Toys For the Sandbox series of releases.  They are inexpensive and perfect for sandbox style play.  The fact that they are systemless (yet definitely OSR styled) makes them very easy to drop in just about any fantasy campaign, and systemless also means level less, so you can adjust the power levee to what works best for you.

Occult Moon Games has released Toys For the Sandbox #21 - Great Bridge for FREE today only.    Yep, a Free RPG Day Freebie!

Here's a bit about Great Bridge:

Toys for the Sandbox is not a module, it is not a campaign setting, instead it is a framework for GMs to use to reinforce their own imaginations. Sometimes players zig when you expect them to zag, other times they take your plot point into a back alley and leave it penniless and bleeding. Each week we present a new location with a map and some flavor text. In addition we add 4 NPCs with a bit of history and a few simple thoughts on how to stat them for whatever game you are playing. There are also 6 plot hooks each with 3 ways to twist them. Added to that there is usually a table or two filled with rumors and encounters.

Along an arduous, and dangerous trade route through the great southern mountains is a small town where merchants can meet each other halfway. Constructed on an ancient bridge built by some gigantic race the town of Great Bridge provides a place for commerce, a warm meal and possibly adventure.

It's Free RPG Day 2012 - There Are Some Goodies You Can Get Never Leaving Your House

I don't usually mix well with Free RPG Day.  I'm either away for the weekend or stuck with a crapload of weekend responsibilities that I never saw coming.  So, this morning I ordered a handful of RPGs that I was interested in from Noble Knight Games and got to choose 1 freebie for each $15 spent.  I spent a hair over $60, but I know I'll be getting my DCC Quickstart, Cosmic Patrol Quickstart, Dice Tower and the Warhammer 40K adventure.  Not too bad.  One of the things I picked up was the Waterdeep Board-game.  I've heard good things about it, so it should be a win-win.

Of course, the other option is to wait for the Free RPG Day products to be released at One Book Shelf (or the manufacturers) website.  At the moment, one of the Free RPG Day products is up at OBS:

Obsidian Apocalypse: World of Abaddon is available for download at OBS for free.  It's for Parthfinder, but I have no doubt it can be converted to other games.

Now, there are other products at OBS that were recently released for free that aren't part of the Free RPG Day promotion, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't grab them:

Trollzine # 5 - If you are a fan of Tunnels & Trolls, this is the fanzine for you.

Golden Age: The Adventurers Guidebook: a 70 page , simple to learn RPG based on an audio play series

When more Free RPG Day items got posted in PDF, I'll add them to the list ;)

Friday, June 15, 2012

There's a Storm in My Brain!

My wife was out at a stained glass class (say that five times fast) with my mother tonight, so I got to do a little "brainstorming".  Yep, finally putting some parts of Never Unprepared into action.  Took me long enough. Well, not really, as I've been brainstorming during my drives to and from work. Just needed to find the right times to get my brain to work in the right ways.

For tonight's brainstorming I will firmly place the blame on Mike Garcia and Tony Love.  The timing was right, so I am not complaining.  A little more magic, a little Evil magic - back and forth.  Actually, maybe there should be a mix - never mind.  Might be saying too much.  It's dangerous to cross the streams, especially when it might give the player's in your games a "heads up".  That certainly won't do ;)

I must say, I do like the idea of being dually productive.  If I can design stuff for my campaigns and possibly get some of that stuff out into the RPG wilds too, I'm doing good.

As a side thought, I have some ideas for a DCC / ACKS mashup.  That's definitely for another night tho ;)

Thaumaturgy Tidbits at the Tavern - Have a Beer Bear on Me ;)

This Bear Would Probably
Dispense Dark & Tan ;)
I figure if I'm going to brainstorm, I might as well post as the process works it's way out.

As I said earlier, most magic items found in RPGs (and similarly written about in RPGs) have to do with magic weapons and magic armor.  It certainly makes sense from a gaming POV, as many, if not most, RPGs revolve around combat. Therefore, you give the players what they need to get better at combat. When we think "Christmas Tree" effect, we think of weapons, armor, stat buffers and saving throw adjusters.  Do any of these really help the Wizard as he goes about his daily business in his tower or about town?

So what we really need are magic items that are useful, even if they aren't directly useful for combat.  Some of them might be indirectly useful for combat, and many players will certainly find a way to push these "non-combat" magic items into uses that the GM will never see coming.

Additionally, if we are looking to design / create / invent / pull out of collective butt holes magic items that don't directly fall into the "Christmas Tree" effect, we can, for the most part, design them without stats or numerical values. That's important, because if the idea behind the item can transcend game systems, it's chance of being used in someone's game just increased exponentially.

Some items will have more of a direct use in the average adventure than others, but inventive players will find a use for pretty much everything as some point.

Now, I have an idea for magic items based upon classic children's toys.  As such, I'm going to go with the idea that they are the inventions of a single Mage.  Maybe his son passed at an early age, and in the child's memory he uses children's toys to accomplish different tasks.  Well, magically enhanced children's toys.  Still need a name for the mage though.

Here's a quick example:

Beer Bear - This appears to be a child's stuffed bear of smallish size.  If one tilts the bear's head back and makes a poring motion with the bear, cold beer (up to the amount of a pint) flows forth.  The type of beer that the bear dispenses depends on the color of the bear.  Black bears dispense stout and brown bears dispense a pilsner.  The bear will dispense beer up to 8 times in a single day.

Hard to beat the image of one of the PCs going to sleep in a dungeon, holding his Beer Bear tight to him, of fear another party member may take off with it ;)

Making Magic - Then Trying To Catch It Before It's Too Late

Thoughts are like dandelion fluff. If you don't hold on hard enough, the first breeze takes it away.

Which is annoying, as most of my brainstorming seems to take place as I drive, and it's not always (if ever) convenient to pull over to write some thoughts down.

Some of my current brainstorming has been about brewing up some unique magic items, which may or may not make their way into a published product. They most assuredly will make their way into my ACKS campaign. They certainly can't make their way to this blog without first being introduced in my campaign, or else I risk letting my players in on all the little secrets before they even come across them in the first place.

I will say this - magic weapons and armor are not part of the growing list of things I'm working on. Not only are they too linked to individual systems, but it's the miscellaneous magic that adds the depth to the world. Besides, would most wizards spend time making magic swords and enchanting chain mail when they could be making thinks that actually help them?

I think not. I say empower the wizards not by giving them at will powers, but give them willful toys. Or something like that ;)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Best ACKS Art Ever! (because it's for our current campaign)

Seriously, this is an awesome piece of art.

I give players in my ACKS campaign a 10% expo bonus if they do a write up at our Obsidian Portal Site.  I've had some excellent write ups that cover the events in our weekly sessions.  My players are truly skilled.

Craig asked if in leu of a write up, he could submit a piece of art.  Who am I to turn down an offer like that?

Well, this is what Craig submitted.  Holy fucking shit! Between the write ups and art like this I'd put my players up against any others out there :)

The amazing thing is, they play as well as they draw and write ;)  

Silly Me, I Had Actual Thoughts! :)

Silly me. I've agreed to write a few pieces for an RPG sourcebook. Always time this for when you are planning to kick off a second weekly night of running RPGs, because as we all know GMs have WAY too much prep time ;)

Amazingly enough, I thought up some decent stuff during the first ten minutes of my morning commute. Which left me thirty more minutes of driving before I could write anything down. Thirty dangerous potentially forgetful minutes...

I think I may drop one or two of today's thoughts into my ACKS campaign over the next session or two as sort of a playtest. If any folks can push and prod and find creative uses, it's my players.

Oh, and I got mentioned in The Grumpy Celt's latest video blog. I think it's time to wake up Feltothraxis from his long dragon-like hibernation...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What's in an Edition Anyway?

Dungeons & Dragons is working on it's 5th Edition, but that's not true, as it only started counting with AD&D.  So it is really around 7th or 8th Edition.  Pathfinder could easily be considered yet another edition.

Traveller is working on it's 5th (?)

RuneQuest is on it's 6th, although Legend is certainly a divergent path.

Tunnels & Trolls in on it's 7.5 Edition (and 8th is apparently in the works)

Castles and Crusades has "Printings".  I think the Player's Handbook is now on it's fifth.

World of Darkness is on it's... second, third?  someone, anyone?

Hero is on it's 6th.

GURPs is on it's 4th.

Savage Worlds is kinda on it's 2nd.

Rolemaster is on it's 3rd?  Maybe

Warhammer Fantasy Role Play has gone through 3.

I'm sure I missed a few.

With the exception of WFRP, has any RPG gone through the extensive system changed that D&D has?

Games From the Basement - Shadows on the Borderland (RuneQuest 3 Adventure)

I really really liked RuneQuest back in the day.  I certainly liked it a lot more than my players did.  Maybe it's because I bought Dragon Pass before I even got my first RuneQuest game (not that anyone ever played Dragon Pass with me - ah well).

I found RQ3 (the Avalon Hill Deluxe Edition) before I found RQ2 (Chaosium).  So, I didn't dwell too much on the differences between the systems.  I used RQ2's Pavis and Big Rubble with RQ3, converting on the fly.  I really dug the setting more than the system in the end I think.

Shadows on the Borderland is one of the few RQ3 setting books (or boxes, most were boxes) that I really dug (one day I'll post about Monster Coliseum and how that manuscript should have been burned instead of printed) , but I bought it long after we moved back to AD&D and RIFTS and Space Master and such.  Which is a shame, because there is much goodness here.

Maybe I should brings some Broos to my ACKS campaign and convert some of the scenarios within.  Between this and WFRP, they'll be confused to all shit ;)

Appendix N Kickstarter for the DCC RPG - Push For the Final Stretch Goals

Brave Halfling posted an update to the Appendix N Kickstarter they have running.  I'll do a basic summary, then I'll copy and paste the gist of it.

Appendix N has reached it's 3rd Stretch Goal, which means that everyone that has pledged for $20 or more is getting 4 adventures in print and PDF.  If it hits $10k everyone at $20 or more also gets a limited edition box for the adventures.  If it hit 15k, a 5th adventure (more like a mini setting) is added in print and PDF.

If you kick in $30, you get two copies of all of the print adventures, plus you get the first 8 Appendix N Adventure Options releases.

I'm in at $51 ;)

As I post this it's at just over $8400.

Here's the full info from today's update:

Wow! Three weeks ago, if you would have told me we would be close to hitting the fourth Bonus Goal in less than two weeks, I would not have believed you! Thanks you so much for your support in helping launch this new line of digest adventures in support of the DCC RPG! As another way for me to say, “Thank you,” I will be sending every supporter a free pdf detailing the god Ramat - his faith, teachings, rituals, spells and holy items.:)This will go out at around the same time as the first two modules ship.

Lots of folks have asked me why I set the “sweet spot” for this Kickstarter so low ($20) and how could I possibly be making any money off of it? That is a fair question and I would like to answer it here. In my 4+ years of hobby publishing I have learned a few things by trial and effort, by researching the industry, and by making many mistakes. This new line is exactly the kind of products I love to create! And this Kickstarter will enable me to create each of them in the quantities and at the level of quality I desire for them. For the first couple of years of BHP, I was able to fund projects out of my own pocket. But like so many people in our culture, I ended up being unemployed and underemployed for 13 of the last 24 months - and that reduced my ability to fund new projects. On the bright side, as our budget became tighter and tighter, my family and I have ended up spending more and more time playing games around the kitchen table. I know other families have as well. Times are still hard for many people. Each of these digest modules will retail anywhere from $5.95 to $8.95 (depending upon their size) and provide a session or two of gaming. That is very affordable. My goal for this Kickstarter has never been about making as much money as possible. Honestly, I am not sure using Kickstarter that way is very ethical. No, from the beginning, my goal has been to raise enough money to get this new line of products going and I am more than happy to provide all the modules and bonus goals in this Kickstarter to supporters at a greatly reduced rate (compared to the retail price) as my way of thanking them for providing me with the funds to release these modules in the quantities and at the level of quality they deserve. 

With that said, I know that everyone wants to get as much for their money from this Kickstarter as possible and that means hitting as many Bonus Goals as possible. Folks know this kickstarter is already a fantastic deal and the current sweet spot for most supporters is $20. As a way of helping us hit the last two Bonus Goals, I will give copies of the first 8 Appendix N Adventure Options pdfs (detailed below) to every supporter who pledges $30 or more! This includes anyone who upgrades their pledge to $30 or more too.

Appendix N Adventure Options pdfs:
Something I did not even consider when I was putting together this Kickstarter is how BHP will also be supporting the DCC RPG with little pdf releases (in addition to the modules listed in this Kickstarter). This line of pdf-only products is called, “Appendix N Adventure Options.” BHP began as a pdf publisher putting out many pdfs in support of Labyrinth Lord, and I am going to do the exact same thing in support of the DCC RPG. Indeed, I have what I think are some unique (and very DCC RPG) takes on the optional character classes of ranger, bard and paladin. In addition, I also have an entire, pantheon of gods to be released with detailed descriptions of their faith, followers, rituals, teachings, major and minor places of worship, spells and holy items, etc. The gods of this pantheon include: Rhuynda (Withered Old Witch), Thaxson (The Just), Glenys (Wise Mother), Oska (The Goat god), Olmina (Sister Sea), Wurdyn (The Old Man), Miven (The Shameful), Shorn (The Scholar) and Valtor (The Mighty). Plus, other releases will include new magic-user spells (with single-page sheets), magic rituals, unique magic items, additional patrons, etc. 

Again, thanks so much for your support and I look forward to serving your DCC RPG needs as my preferred customers for the next many months!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Games From the Basement - Warhammer Fantasy Role Play (1st Edition)

I remember hearing about Warhammer Fantasy Role Play, probably in issues of White Dwarf.  I wanted this badly!  My sister got it for me for Christmas and hid it under her bed.  I found it and read most of it before I even got to unwrap it.  I was a bad brother (but I have an excellent sis).

We played the shit out of this game.  Regretfully we never finished the whole Enemy Within Campaign, but that was the result of a TPK.  Apparently one shouldn't run around casting Fireballs while carry vials of oil.  That was the first midway completed campaign TPK I ever GM'ed, and although folks were disappointed that the campaign was over, the stories of that TPK were told for years later.

You know what, I'm going to steal some stuff from this book for my ACKS campaign.  Gotta keep my players guessing ;)

"Less is More" or "More is Better" - How Do You Like Your Rules?

I touched upon this in a G+ D&D 5e thread earlier today, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this: "Less is More" and "More is Better", is in my mind at least, The Great Divide amongst games and gamers alike.

See, under Less is More, the GM is more of an Arbiter of the Rules. You have a framework of rules that cover (hopefully) all of the major points. The less common rules issues may or may not be covered. That is where The Arbiter of the Rules comes in. The GM makes a common sense ruling and the game moves on.

Obviously under the "Less is More" style of gaming, each group will evolve it's own set of houserules, so even groups playing the same game aren't playing exactly the same game (much like the early years of D&D and AD&D).

Under the More is Better approach to game building, the desire is to have an established rule for just about any event that may come up. I like to think of D&D 3x and even more so 4e as this type of game. In this case the GM is the Enforcer of the Rules. He's not there to make decisions or interpret, he's there to make sure everyone at the table is following the game rules.

More is Better is certainly geared towards organized play, as every group will be running with the same set of relatively unadulterated rules. This allows players to move a character from game to game and expect the experience to be fairly similar across tables.

I've used D&D editions for examples because they are an easy way to point out the differences, but it applies to all RPGs to some extent.

I suspect D&D 5e is trying to straddle the line between the two. It's a dangerous line to walk, as the two sides are not natural companions.

So, where do you lean? Do you lean differently as a player than you do as a GM?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Psst! Don't Tell My Players...

But I did a total improv on Saturday night.  When one of my players asked to look for a secret door in the room with the crystal statues (that tried to kill them) there wasn't one on the map.  But once they asked for it, I saw the need for it, so I moved some stuff around and moved a room to be the secret room.

Horrible horrible GM Fiat, I know.  Or maybe great GM Fiat, as it almost resulted in a potential TPK where the mage and the 1st level cleric had to save the day by dispatching the ghoul / ghast creature. So it actually played out in a most awesome manner.  The thing is, last minute improves like this can also backfire, so I don't plan on making a habit of it.

Now, if I hadn't been reworking stuff at the last minute I may have arranged things differently (and placed a secret door / room there in the first place) but one works with what one has - or doesn't have ;)

Another Game Arc is Recruiting at UA-LC: Pathfinder "We Are Goblins"

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?

The Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG Arc that I opened for sign ups last night is already over capacity, so I'll be adding a second run through of it in July.

Now I get to announce the Second UA-LC Game Arc to recruit players - James Kennedy's "We Are Goblins, a 3-4 session Arc for the Pathfinder RPG.  Go the the link and read up on the Goblin Goodness that awaits you ;)

If this keeps up I'll definitely need to use the Google Calendar to keep things organized ;)

There Are Not Enough Days in the Week

It looks like the DCC RPG Arc is being well received. So well, in fact, that unless a second GM suddenly appears (hint hint) I'll be running a second DCC RPG Arc in July. It's physically impossible for me to run the second group concurrent with the first.

I'll do a quick poll of the first 6 that responded over at UA-LC.com and see if any want to defer until July, but somehow I doubt it. Good news is that there are still slots for the 2nd DCC RPG Arc.

The guys from my old face to face group (and later a slightly expanded MMORPG group) have viewed Saturday's video of my ACKS campaign via Google+ Hangout and Tabletop Forge and it looks like that group might be resurrecting after a 15 year intermission.

I need a longer week ;)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Recruiting Players For a 2 Session DCC RPG Arc Via G+ Hangout

The details are in the latest post at the UA-LC site.

In addition to the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG ArC I'll be running, I believe we also have a Savage Worlds game and a Pathfinder game in the wings to be announced later this week (and possibly one or two others - I need to double check).

If you are interested make a comment at the post linked above.

ACKS Session 5 - The Panicked Adventure Rebuild

When Charles Jaimet raised me yesterday and mentioned about using Google+'s On Air feature to allow for others to watch us live using Tabletop Forge and record for later, I was all for it.  No biggie - I do monthly training sessions for 30 to 40 cops at a time these days, and after the first time or two, it's no big deal.

Then Charles asked me to use some of Matt Jackson's geomorphic battle maps in last night's game and I said sure, no problem.

The only problem is I didn't know who would be uploading the geomorphs, what order they would be laid out in, how I was was going to get the party to a place they would be using the battle maps (as we left off with the party partway through a crypt-like dungeon full of ghouls and the like.

Sure, areas which they hadn't seen or come across are easy to change, delete, rearrange, etc - but I had to keep the campaign in it's moment.  We weren't going to do some Dallas Dream sequence just to make a nice show for out viewers.  Still, I need to be ready for just about everything.  So after reworking the current level of the crypt, I added a second level to the crypt.

Now, as I was unsure it what order or even how the geomorphs were going to be used, I designed encounters to be assigned to each individual geomorph map tile.  Which surprisingly worked better then I expected, but also means I prepared for way more encounters that were actually used.  I'm kind disappointed we didn't get to use the one that quickly became my favorite as I was preparing them.  I'll save that one for later ;)

Now, next week will be a return to Matt's geomorphs, but as I now know that I get to place and rotate the map tiles I'll be better prepared to make sure everything works as a coherent whole.  Oh, and I have a whole week to to do it :)

ACKS Session 5 Recap (Part 1) and Video - For Those That Missed it Live ;)

Yep, Adventurer Conqueror King or Die Session Five was live on air via Google+ Hangouts last night.  Talk about pressure.

Wait, being asked to use some of Matt Jackson's excellent dungeon tiles in the adventure mere hours before we were two kick off on air, now that's pressure.

Not knowing how or in which order the tiles were to be used?  Priceless ;)

Last night had it's share of technical difficulty, more to do with the On Air app for Google+ Hangouts than anything else.  From my end, the technical difficulties were minimal.  What can I say, I learned to screenshare for the viewers at home and figured out how to upload the tiles (resizing I needed some initial direction).

I've now watched bits and pieces of the video myself, and I'm surprised and happy to say I think I did a decent job, especially considering that I changed EVERYTHING up in the last few hours before the the game.  That includes the encounters in the beginning where I was using the screen as a whiteboard.  My DM style is best suited for the whiteboard in my opinion, although I have to say using the tiles were a blast.

I didn't expect the "ghost-like" ghoul in the secret room to nearly lead to a TPK, but it was nice to have some of the less powerful (at the moment) characters shine as the damage inducing folks were puking their guts out.  It played out better than I could have hoped.

If you are going to watch some of the video, come in around 43:00 or so, as that is when we figured out most of the technical difficulties ;)

More wrap up later...
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