Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bits and Pieces - Winners, Losers and Whiners

First day of vacation has caught up to me. With the help of Hex Ox, I've determined the winners of the July DCC RPG Contest, but I don't have the time tonight to post it and award all of the prizes and still finish game prep for tonight. Sorry, it will have to wait till the morning ;)

Now, a brief message to my legion of fans over at Youthful Dilettantes Intellectually Stunted - No, I haven't supported every fucked up Kickstarter I write about - there are enough poorly run Kickstarters to keep those posts going forever if I never spend another dime. Glad you enjoy them. Sorry to hear you haven't found your way out of the outhouse behind the Tavern. No worries, when you turn 21 you can walk in through the front door and get served.

Alright, back to game prep ;)

On Deck for Tonight's DCC Session - Doom of the Savage Kings and...

What's that hidden behind my printed out copy of Doom of the Savage Kings?

Something that will be playtested tonight (internet connection willing) and lead the players to DotSK.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Answering Random Wizard's Top Ten Troll Questions for Your Game

Here's my answers to Random Wizard's Top Ten Troll Questions for Your Game 

(1). Race (Elf, Dwarf, Halfling) as a class? Yes or no?

a - depends on the ruleset. As I'm currently running DCC, I'll go yes

(2). Do demi-humans have souls?

a - sure. animals too while we are at it

(3). Ascending or descending armor class?

a - either or - I'm a fan of S&W and it's flexibility in this matter

(4). Demi-human level limits?

a - except for halfling fighters, do we ever really hit it?

(5). Should thief be a class?

a - yep. but I prefer bards ;)

(6). Do characters get non-weapon skills?

a - ACKS is about as complicated as I would get with this, but yes

(7). Are magic-users more powerful than fighters (and, if yes, what level do they take the lead)?

a - fireball is the game changer in classic / AD&D - in DCC, I think it balances a bit better as all of the classes can bust out beyond the others if lucky with their rolls

(8). Do you use alignment languages?

a - say what? never have

(9). XP for gold, or XP for objectives (thieves disarming traps, etc...)?

a - gold, killing, special achievements and the like

(10). Which is the best edition; ODD, Holmes, Moldvay, Mentzer, Rules Cyclopedia, 1E ADD, 2E ADD, 3E ADD, 4E ADD, Next ?

a - 1e if I had to choose, but I like them all and their little clones too!

Bonus Question: Unified XP level tables or individual XP level tables for each class?

a - really depends on the system - in AD&D, those xpo tables are part of the class balancing

Kickstarter - Updates From the Terminally Late Projects - Dwimmering the Far West with Nystul's Quantum Powers!

There are updates and there are - non updates.

I'm not sure WTF these are, but they really don't say all that much. Still, why should you have to go all over the place just to find these tidbits?

Here's some recent ones:

Far West: this was due Dec 2011

Limited Run News

Update #72 · Jul 26, 2013 · 3 comments  
Another quick update for you -- a lot of you have been waiting to hear about this:

I had a conference with Dom at Cubicle Seven this week, and I've confirmed that we WILL be doing a separate limited print run of the core rulebook for the Kickstarter backers.

The Kickstarter Limited Edition will feature a leatherette cover (basically leather-bound, but using faux leather made from cloth), and will of course precede the general-release edition sent out to local game stores world-wide (any new estimate on WHEN?)

I'll post an image when we have a sample.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll get back to work...  gotta do something to keep The Normal's 1978 groundbreaking industrial track "Warm Leatherette" from playing, over and over, in my head.

Gareth-Michael Skarka
Lawrence, KS

Quantum this was due April 2012

Breaking Bad Silence

Update #78 · Jul 18, 2013 · 8 comments  
Hey folks!

This is just a quick update to let you know I'm still here and the game is still progressing. I hope to put up a larger update next week showing some rules changes implemented during my work this last month. Until then, here are teasers of those changes:

Armor Rating changed to be simpler and require less paperwork.
My original intent was to have Style Trees rather than just Styles. I figured out how to do that without changing much.
Style Trees allow for "builds," even within Paradigms that aren't the Generalist.
Each Paradigm (except the Generalist) has two Core Styles and two Core Abilities. The rest of the Styles are now General Paradigm Styles learnable by most Paradigms. General Paradigm Styles will still be restricted to Fatigue or Prime, though some have neither as a requirement.
There are three Style Trees, tentatively called Melee, Omnimancy, and Erudite. You start at the top and purchase your way down various branches of your choosing to get the build you want. The Melee branch is associated with Fatigue, the Omnimancy branch with Prime, and the Erudite branch with neither.
Next week I want to preview the new Archer along with possible builds. This will serve to both preview the rules changes and show off the new Archer. (15 months late and the system still isn't finished?)

Until then!


Axes & Anvils - AKA Nystul's Fiasco - project that spent the money with nothing to show for it

Day Two Update (actually, this was posted early Thursday morning - technically Mike missed wednesday's promised update in addition to Monday's, which was supposed to be Day One. Mike needs to learn to follow the schedule he set for himself)

Update #53 · Jul 25, 2013 · 3 comments  
Hard at work. I will have some fairly big chunks to show you very soon. First up - Character Generation (which is big fun and practically a game itself). Until then, some news.

• The Okum Arts A&A set will be provided to you guys in a day or two - as soon as we get the file set up for you to download. It has a lot of really great character. I'm super happy with it.

• A test sculpt of stones was just completed - there will be pictures as soon as the artist takes them and sends them to me. I know some of you are concerned that with no real motivation to produce more the line will die with the first book. To offset that possibility I'm working with a local game store to have a regular Axes and Anvils night. That will ensure ongoing games that will breed new material. Also, if any of you is in Austin let me know and I'll arrange to run for the game for you. (WGAF?!? There's no money to make this shit anyway)

Below is the cover of the Okum Arts minis and the current Table of Contents. As I pass along stuff to look at please be aware that this is pre-release - pre-edit stuff. I'm a game designer, not a writer and certainly not an editor. Every thing goes through an editor before you get it.

More tomorrow.

Day Three Update

Update #54 - For backers only (sorry Mike, but you lost those privileges)· Jul 25, 2013 · 2 comments  

Another busy day. Still finishing up the Character Creation chapter. (this makes it seem like Mike actually write games. I though he was the "idea guy" and "overseer")

Andrew is working on the introductory adventure.

The artists who did the stones for me is at a Ren Faire and will have to get home before she sends pictures. As soon as she does I will share them.

The Axes and Anvils paper minis are ready for download. Okum Arts will sell these in about a month - they are free to Backers. Please do not share this link. There is no special download protection on this folder.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx no link for you! ;)

These print and cut minis are not a replacement for anything you are owed. They are a bonus for Backers of the project.

More tomorrow

Dwimmermount (I wondered where Tavis was the past month)

What the Goalposts Look Like

Update #57 · Jul 26, 2013 · 2 comments  
It's been a month since the last update, during which the development team has been racing pell-mell to get the Labyrinth Lord version of Dwimmermount ready for Gen Con. The bad news is that we won't have a book that we'd be satisfied with complete in time. What we will have for you in August are the illustration book and the outdoor maps. If you'll be at Gen Con, you can pick these up there; if not, we'll mail these to you around that time. Although in some cases the project could save money by combining the illustration books with the rest of your order, there's a lot to be said for using this opportunity to work out all the kinks in the shipping process before it comes to the hardbacks. Over the next week I'll be sending out an email blast to all backers who are getting print rewards, letting you know which address we have for you. If you want your illustration booklet sent to a different address, please reply within the Kickstarter system. (I'll try to make sure that all the address changes already sent in are reflected before sending out this email.)

If the bad news is that we won't have all of the book where we want it to be for August, the good news is that we do have 87 pages laid out to the development team's satisifaction (pending a final proofing step). The link in the last update now has the files for Chapter 5: Muntburg, Chapter 6: Outside the Dungeon, Appendix A: The Four Worlds, Appendix C: New Monsters, and Appendix D: Rival Parties, as well as the finished cross-section maps from Last Gasp and the complete set of door-revised level maps from Tim Hartin.

I hope that these sections make a compelling argument that the work we're putting into organizing, polishing, and presenting James' manuscript is worth waiting for. In deciding not to skimp on what I felt was necessary to do justice to this first publication of Dwimmermount, I was guided by the results of last year's development survey and encouraged by reactions to the revised sections like this, sent via private email:

Having seen the layouts you posted in the most recent update, all I can say is "Wow!" I am profoundly grateful for your vision and the way you went about implementing it, especially as you describe it in the introduction.

Although such feedback helps me feel we're on the right course, I'm going to return to weekly updates to crowdsource the process of making sure the project is on track. Under the time pressure of the Gen Con goal it seemed to make sense to spend all my time doing what needs to be done rather than making announcements about it. However, sharing regular progress updates helps the development team as well as honoring our responsibility to backers, and I'll be glad to work at a less break-neck pace that allows time for reflection on where we've been and what the next steps are.

I expect we'll also see a return of the (in)famous charts (Fuck Me ;). The things we now have that make this possible are a comprehensive list of what remains to be done, and data about how long it's taken the development team to do similar work on the sections to date. In this update I'm going to focus on the remaining to-do list. Over the coming week I'll be talking with the team to refine our estimates about how long it'll take us to do this work, refining the projections from previous performance in the light of things we know are coming up like summer travel or dedicated blocks of time free to work on the project.

One of the ways a project can fail is through the quest for perfection. The more we've delved into getting the manuscript ready for publication, the more improvements suggest themselves, and there is a certain temptation to keep tweaking Dwimmermount forever. Fear not: the desire to get it out there for people to enjoy will always be stronger. Here's the list of things I see as necessary for the remaining sections to be worthy, if not perfect; a comparison of how the existing layouts differ from the original drafts may be helpful in interpreting these fragmentary notes.

Chapter 4, Referee's Overview: Many changes are in the Word file available for download at the link in the last update. Remaining steps are to complete the discussion of access control systems to include the brooch of the Terrim and link to the indexes of control rods and passkeys, and to add some quotes about naming and link to the tables of sample namesJames contributed.

Chapter 7, Factions in the Dungeon: A table of each faction including leader's name, HD or level, alignment, and location in the dungeon is complete, as is the spreadsheet delineation of factions on levels 0, 7, 8, and 9 that weren't included in James' draft. The remaining steps are to complete the summary of these factions, with a greater emphasis on inter-relationships between factions and levels; to present a chronology of how factions have shaped the history of the dungeon, especially the recent changes since the Termaxian infiltration; and to sketch out different faction's relationship to coins and treasure, with a house rule about bribery.

Dungeon Levels 0 - 9: Tables of each level's wandering monsters, key rooms, treasures, and inhabitants are complete in Excel and divided up by faction; these will form a facing page to the map of each chapter. Most levels then need an introduction along the lines of the ones James wrote for levels 0 and 9. These intros will include a concluding section about future developments, focusing on the key rooms included on that table and marked on the cross-section maps. The dungeon keys need a final development pass to make sure that contradictions resolved in the revised intro chapters, like whether dwarven corpses are stone or decaying flesh, are reflected throughout. Most such instances are marked by comments in the development drafts.

Appendix B: New Magic Items: Editor Pookie has written descriptions for some items implied in the text - the athame of law and the Typhonian mace - that weren't originally contained in this section. I need to do the same for the helm of astral movement and the astral vessel, the details of which have been worked out in development calls and recent emails with James. Pookie has also done an analysis of the different kinds of cloth garments found in the dungeon and their special properties, which I need to integrate into a couple of different items that can be described discretely.

Appendix E: New Spells. In the course of writing up the Rat Boss I created a new spell, lose coin, which will go into this section as well as a to-be-written new spell that the King of the Cats offers to his animal clerics. We've also hit on the idea of using spell research as the model for getting the Great Machine to do things like lower the barriers around the prison, so the more substantial work to be done on this section will be to describe the various things the Machine could do and what level effect these would be considered for the purpose of the time/investment required to develop them.

Appendix F: New Gods and Demigods. This is a new section which will subsume the content I've referred to in early drafts as Secrets of Turms Termax. My existing writeup of the Rat Boss will go here, as well as being included in Petty Gods (pending the addition of a stat block), as will the King of the Cats. Erol Otus has given us an evocative and creepy description of Turms Turmax's lieutenants; Jonathan Bolding is working on the description of their powers, as well as that of their questionably-divine master. This section will also include a slightly expanded description of the Sleeping God's capabilities and physical characteristics, currently found on Level 9.

Appendix G: Azoth. This section will be revised to accord with Turms' powers once that section is complete; we've discussed ideas about how his golem body uses azoth as a fuel and a weapon, which will be reflected here.

Once the above changes to the text are made, they'll undergo another editing pass and then go to layout. We'll then do a final proofing based on the layout. Since the bulk of the email I quoted above was devoted to just this kind of proofing, I should say that it is very helpful indeed. Changes pointed out to us by backers and fans aren't being ignored even though they're not reflected yet on the sections available for download; they're  accumulating on hardcopy markups that Richard will use when the time comes.

Planning for Some DCC RPG Playtesting on Saturday Night

I  was offered the chance to have my group playtest some unreleased DCC RPG material and not being a complete fool, I said "Yes!".

I've already figured out where to fit it between last week's funnel and Doom of the Savage Kings. Actually, it may very well lead right to DotSK.

I just need to spend some time tonight prepping things in Roll20.

Fun times!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Working on the "Magic Mayhem Monday" Post for the DCC RPG

I'm not sure exactly what this "Cage O'Skin" will have as it's magical powers / enchantments, but whatever they are, I'm sure they'll be suitable unnerving ;)

Actually, the question might be "What does the Cage O'Skin hold on the inside?" Is it an egg? A spirit? Magic essence?

Heck, not even sure what I'm going to call it for "Magic Mayhem Monday", the totally unofficial "post your DCC and / or OSR magic item event.

A few of the fine folks from the DCC G+ Community page are on board, and as suggested by one of the fine commentaries on this blog, we're using the items found within the following piece of DCC RPG art for inspiration.

Want to join in? Just post your own "Magic Mayhem Monday" magic item ;)

When Kickstarters Eat Their Young - The Doom That Came To Atlantic City! - Part II - Don't Sue!

It's a fucking shame I share a first name with this piece of shit.

Again, I'm not going to comment throughout the update, as that would just distract from the bullshit already on the page.

I suspect if this hadn't raised 4 times it's goal, it would have been completed already. The more money raise, the more these folks find ways to misuse it.

I do love the "don't sue! if you do, all the money will go to lawyer fees!" I got news for you Erik. If folks sue you, its not to recover money - it's to bury you...

Nystul almost seems competent in comparison. 

Here's the latest. You can go to the original page and read some of the comments. Priceless.


Update #28 · Jul 25, 2013 · 16 comments  
This is not the post-mortem but a clarification for the last update. Its wordy, yes, but there is a lot of clarifying to do as many have already stated.

I've read every comment but they are too many to address individually. I've attempted to respond to every email and have gotten through most of them but will continue to reply. This morning, after reading the comments about reporting me to the Oregon Department of Justice, I contacted them and explained the situation in great detail. While they gave no promises their agent didn't feel that I'd committed any fraud. I am going to provide them with more information and work with them to see what I need to do to make this right in their eyes. I will also be contacting any other agencies who receive reports in order to provide them with a transparent view of the scenario from all angles. This project has been a year of frustration on every level. There are things you don't know and I can't talk about yet without first seeking legal advice, but hopefully in time everything will be made clear. I don't expect everyone to accept my apologies, there is nothing I can say that will make every single backer forgive me.

By canceling the game I returned all rights to the title, art and sculptures to their creators. This prevents me from producing any products, free or sold, related to the property. This means that I cannot distribute any type of print and play editions or related merchandise such as miniatures. Keith has commented that a print and play version is in the works but I am not a part of that. Since the last update Keith has been provided with all of your contact information so that he can update you as these become available.

The miniature statue originals were copied once for safety as they were very fragile. Those copies are still in China at the moment. They're going to be shipped back soon and returned to Paul Komoda. No pewter figures were created as they were to be done after the plastic sets were produced due to the original sculptures' fragility, as stated in previous updates.

I see Kickstarter backers, myself included, as pre-order customers and not investors in a corporation. Its against the Kickstarter ToS to sell shares of a company as a reward tier. As a project creator here I owe, per my contractual obligations with Kickstarter's ToS, the listed rewards or a full refund, nothing more or less. The estimated delivery dates are just that though, estimates. Once people have backed at that level those values are locked and unchangeable in this system, but still remain as only estimates which do not take into account any issues a project creator may run into. When I originally launched the project the terms were different then they are now but I'm sticking to the current version which promises "rewards or refunds" with no other options.

Any references to my past business and involvement with the defunct Joystick Labs is irrelevant to this topic. From a surface level it may seem similar but that was a very different situation. Every company at Joystick was provided with the same amount of funds and not a single team delivered their qualifying projects within that budget or schedule. Expectations were set too high and the daily realities of independent video game development were drastically underestimated by all parties involved. The two games that did eventually reach the market were funded separately from the main program by outside investors or publishers, and neither found commercial success. The Joystick Lab owners were experienced venture capitalists and well aware of the risks involved with investing in start-ups. While explaining that entire situation could fill a large book it is really not relevant here.

In regards to comments about backers never expecting to ever see a refund you should all know that I've already started the process and several individuals have already received refunds via the online store where I took post-campaign pre-orders. There is an issue with the PayPal API through Shopify that is preventing direct refunds in some cases but I've emailed those affected and am working it out directly with them. The reason I chose to refund the post-campaign purchases first is because they were offered a solid delivery date, unlike the estimated delivery date here, and never had the benefit of even my sparsest project updates. It is also the simplest amount to refund due to the system in use there, despite Paypal API issues. I am still working out the system by which I will refund everyone else as Kickstarter's Amazon payment system only allows direct refunds within the first 30 days.

Even if this project had folded on day one, before I'd spent a single cent of the funding, I would NOT have been able to immediately refund everyone due to the 10% fees that Kickstarter and Amazon took off the top. This is true for all Kickstarter projects. The few that have provided full refunds had to come up with those funds from other sources.

The company I started was meant to provide a framework for supporting The Doom that Came to Atlantic City with how-to-play videos, supplementary add-ons, and general customer support. The software licensed was needed to process art for press and do layout of elements such as the rulebook. The laptop used to edit the original pitch video could barely handle the high resolution files from the game's creator, so I upgraded to a desktop computer that could deal with it. The move back to Portland from California was multi-pronged, but mainly in order to work in a less expensive and more supportive community that I felt would benefit the company, and by extension its customers, in time.

Whether or not you think every cent should have gone to the printer and creators, and none to the publisher, it takes money just to get a project like this ready and build the framework that will keep it going after release. My hope was to one day use that framework to support additional games and allow the company to grow, just like any other business venture, but "The Doom" was first and central to the idea of the company. Without it The Forking Path ceases to exist. I put every effort into making this work and am more frustrated than anyone with its failure.

Lastly I'd like to talk about the legal threats I've received in the last 24 hours. I know that any trust in what I say is gone for the great majority of you and I get it. There is nothing I can say at this point to repair that, I just have to hope that I'm not digging the hole deeper with every keystroke. I've publicly promised to repay EVERY backer because that is my obligation per the Kickstarter Terms of Service. I am contractually bound to do that much and I absolutely intend to. If I were to immediately pay back as many of you as I could right this moment a sizeable percentage would go unrefunded which would only cause more problems. If I'm dragged into court then everything will vanish into legal fees and I'll never be able to refund anyone else. If a little more patience is dredged up from the depths and I'm given time to work and refill the coffers I can eventually, with some hard work and dedication, refund everyone.

I know this sucks. I'd rather work with everyone to find ways for it to not suck so much instead of dragging it out even more painfully. I appreciate everyone who's emailed or commented with kind messages. I don't want to create any more deadlines that might be broken so I won't give an exact date for the post-mortem but it is in the works. Again, I really am sorry.

- Erik


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Idle Hands are the Devil's Tools - Does That Mean I Should Start Crafting Some DCC Magic Items Again?

I wrote some DCC RPG magic items, which I later scrubbed off the serial numbers, mixed with some Swords & Wizardry stuff and released in the Minor Majics & Miscellaneous Arcana Vol I & II (see the Stuff I'm Hawking on the right side).

They were good OSR style magic items, and the weapons had history, but they really weren't DCC RPG magic items for the most part. I was running DCC pick up games, but my knowledge had holes that I freely admit I used AD&D to fill when in doubt.

I'm a bit more immersed in all things DCC these days. By no means an expert, but I've filled in most of the holes in my knowledge.

So, I'm thinking of writing up some DCC RPG flavored magic items on the blog, maybe posting them once or twice a week. Possibly themed - like 4 posts on rings, 4 on armor, 3 on misc items, whatever.

I think magic swords are fairly well covered in the rulebook, although some unique variations are always fun.

Any type of items folks are specifically looking for?

When Kickstarters Eat Their Young - The Doom That Came to Atlantic City - Raising the Bar for Failure

We bitched about Dwimmermount.

We mock Nystul and his Infinite Excuses.

Far West seems further out of reach with each update.

You haven't seen nothing until you've witnessed The Doom That Came to Atlantic City! It raised nearly $123,000 and now it's going bust.

I give it to you without further comment:


Update #27 · Jul 23, 2013 · 136 comments

This is not an easy update to write.

The short version: The project is over, the game is canceled.

After much deliberation I've had to make this decision. I've informed Keith and Lee and neither at all happy with this situation. Every possible mistake was made, some due to my inexperience in board game publishing, others due to ego conflicts, legal issues and technical complications. No matter the cause though these could all have been avoided by someone more experienced and I apparently was not that person.

From the beginning the intention was to launch a new board game company with the Kickstarted funds, with The Doom that Came to Atlantic City as only our first of hopefully many projects. Everyone involved agreed on this. Since then rifts have formed and every error compounded the growing frustration, causing only more issues. After paying to form the company, for the miniature statues, moving back to Portland, getting software licenses and hiring artists to do things like rule book design and art conforming the money was approaching a point of no return. We had to print at that point or never. Unfortunately that wasn't in the cards for a variety of reasons.

I'm going to write a full post-mortem to explain every issue in greater detail but suffice to say that I never gave up and always intended to get this project printed. My intentions have always been good and I've struggled with this greatly. I've spent a large amount of time pitching investors, begging banks for loans and seeking other sources of funding to fix this. Sadly I found no takers.

As stated above Lee and Keith were not directly involved in this decision. I informed them earlier this month about the situation. Keith went out of his way to speak with his contacts at other companies to see if any could help salvage the game. We spent quite a bit of time working on possible deals and arrangements but in the end they just weren't interested in taking the risk. Keith has only ever done amazing work in getting this made and can't be blamed in any way for its downfall.

My hope now is to eventually refund everyone fully. This puts all of the financial burden directly on my shoulders. Starting with those who've pre-ordered after the Kickstarter campaign through our webstore, then I'll begin working my way through the backer list, starting with those who funded at the highest levels. Unfortunately I can't give any type of schedule for the repayment as I left my job to do this project and must find work again. I'll create a separate bank account to place anything beyond my basic costs of living. Every time that account has a decent amount saved into it I'll issue a payout to a portion of the backer list. I'll post updates with each payout to keep you all informed on the progress.

Again, I never set out to con anyone or to perpetrate a fraud but I did walk into a situation that was beyond my abilities and for that I'm deeply sorry. This has been a rough year, I never wanted to make it harder for anyone. There will be no more monthly updates, not that there have really been in some time, but I will post with each payout, as well as the post-mortem when it is eventually complete.

Sincerest apologies,
Erik Chevalier

What is Your Favorite Sized Die?

For me, I like the d8. Classic long swords damage and the HD size for monster HP in AD&D.

Lest favorite? the d7. If you have to ask, you haven't seen one.

What's your favorite sized die?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

When Using a "Pre Written Adventure", Do You "Run as Written" or Do You Tweak and Rewrite?

At it's core, its a simple question: Do you run modules / adventures "as is" or do you tweak them to better fit your expectations and by extension, those of your gaming group.

I tried running a draft of Dwimmermount "as is", as that was the group's request, but we didn't have much luck with that.

We followed that up with the first few levels of Rappan Athuk, yet another megadungeon. With RA, I did tweak it a bit, but the tweaks were relatively minor.

Now we are trying our hands at the DCC RPG, and there are some extremely well written and original adventures from both Goodman Games and the assorted third party publishers - easily enough to keep a campaign going for a year or more. I expect to twist and tweak the threads linking the adventures and in turn tweaking and rewriting many of the adventures backstories, but I don't see a foresee a need to rewrite the adventures themselves, but time will tell.

How much tweaking do you do to the average "store bought" adventure or module?

A Day Late and a Kickstarter Short - Nystul Works the Bait & Switch With Axes & Anvils Update #52

Progress Report

Update #52 · Jul 23, 2013 · 1 comment  

Yesterday I took stick (you beat it with a stick? are you now beating Andrew?) of everything I had on hand and decided what the preview draft should contain, taking into account Andrew's recommendations and your feedback (Our feedback has been "Where the fuck is our shit Mike!" Hey, didn't you owe us an update yesterday?). Many of you have stated concerns about a rushed draft (we are stating concerns that there is NOTHING and you are full of shit). That is not my plan (you have a plan? amazing). You have waited long enough to have something that feels complete unto itself. With that in mind, I am assembling something that has everything so you get a full sense of the feel of the game (WTF does the sentence mean? Confusion is not supposed to be a Nystul spell). The final edition will simply include more (of nothing).

On the art front, I assembled the resources I have from Jeff. I am also working with a couple of freelancers. Another artist who is contributing is David Okum from Okum Arts. He has put together an awesome set of Axes and Anvils standups.

I am back at work today and hope to assemble a draft for Andrew and I that has everything we currently have so that it is very clear what remains to be filled in before we do our edit pass and send it out to all of you (holy shit! is Mike German? because this is a typical run on German sentence. I hope if this project ever gets done Mike isnt self editing) I will try to get you a few pages to look at in the next day or two.

Wait a sec! Mike is already breaking his rules from update 50 (July 20 - 2 days ago):
Here is the plan: Starting Monday I will share what I am doing every day. I will post some pages, some rules and art. I will be completely transparent. As Backers you will also have the opportunity to post feedback if you like. 
If I fail to make progress for 3 consecutive days or 5 days total Andrew gets the go ahead to take what we have, button it up and get it out.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Thoughts on a DCC RPG Appreciation Day

I've been asked multiple times if I was going to organize a DCC RPG Appreciation Day, much like I helped organize the Appreciation Days for Basic Fantasy RPG and the highly successful Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day.

The answer is simply - I don't know. So I'm asking for your input.

It takes a lot of work and time to run and organize these events, and before I'd even take a stab at it, I'd need to know if there was sufficient interest in the idea.

20+ blogs participated in the BFRPG Appreciation Day and the number that signed up for the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day was over 140. Truly insane.

Both of those games are supported by freely available rulesets, so even bloggers that didn't have direct knowledge of the rules were able to get it for free prior to the events. It's not quite the same for the DCC RPG, but using the DCC RPG Gaming on the Cheap link on the right and the free 66.5 Doom of the Savage Kings, I suppose we could expand the potential pool of participants.

I wouldn't be looking to run this until October or November of this year, as both the upcoming Unofficial OSR zine and a possible Swords and Wizardry online con / gaming weekend in September are going to be eating into my free time. Oh, yeah. Work and family shit too. Heh

Does this idea interest you? As a blogger, publisher, reader, gamer, whatever? Let me know as a comment to this post or via on of the accompanying G+ threads. I'm more then willing to expend the effort to get this up and running, but I'd hate to run it and have the response be less than optimal ;)

Looking at the Series of 59 Cent Adventures From Alderac Entertainment - Anyone Familiar With Them?

Well, originally this series of D20 adventures were 79 cents a piece, but with the OBS Xmas in July sale they are now 59 cents a piece (actually, some are priced a bit more, but still cheap as dirt)

I'm looking for stuff I can convert to the DCC RPG, even if it's just stealing the maps for Roll20 and the general plot. I mean, at 59 cents it's hard to go wrong, but it's still possible ;)

Anyone have experience with this series? Worth the bother to convert to DCC or not? Are there ones I should be looking for?

Planning for This Coming Saturday's Post Funnel DCC RPG Session

So, my players will each need to pick a character to level up and proceed to the next adventure. I need to figure out what I'll be using in the next day or so, so I can set it up on Roll20 in advance.

I'll be running the next session on my 13" laptop as opposed to my 27" computer screen I have at home - which is something I may need to keep in mind when I choose the next adventure. At least it will be 6 PCs or so and not 18 zero levels running around ;)

At the moment I'm bouncing between Doom of the Savage Kings and People of the Pit. I could also use one of the Brave Halfling Appendix N Adventures, so long as I tweak whatever I use a wee bit. They seem awfully short. I could aslo run Portal Under the Stars, but I ran a handful of the current party through that last summer using the ACKS rules.

Or I could have the delve into the Sunken City.

Decisions, decisions...

Open for ideas ;)

X-Mas In July Sale at RPGNow / DriveThruRPG Starts Now! 25% off!

Yep, there's a crapload of stuff on sale at the OBS store fronts for the next week at 25% off during the X-Mas in July Sale. Some highlights are:

Goodman Game's lines of DCC RPG rules and adventures

Necromancer Games line of adventures

Everything from Purple Duck, including it's line of DCC RPG adventures and campaign elements

The line of DCC RPG Adventures from Purple Sorcerer

The White Haired Man catalogue

Attack of the Frawgs for the DCC RPG by Thick Skull Adventures

The entire catalogue of Sine Nomine Publishing releases

Goblinoid Game's releases, such as Labyrinth Lord, Timemaster, Starships & Spacement and more

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I Went Looking for DCC 66.5 and Found It and Other Free DCC RPG Goodies at Goodman Games!

I have this in print, but the PDF makes using it with Roll20 a breeze!
Back in April, Goodman Games was offering DCC 66.5 Doom of the Savage Kings and the Free RPG Day 2012 release for free in PDF. I posted about it but forgot to download a copy of DCC 66.5 for myself (I have a print copy, but PDF is a Godsend when working with Rol20). I had trouble finding it online before stumbling across it in the Goodman Games download directory.

Well, that and other goodies, such as a form fillable DCC RPG character sheet. I think my players might need this.  Damn it! 4e not DCC RPG! Wait, class specific DCC RPG sheets, but alas, not form fillable...

They DON'T need a copy of DCC 66.5 - at least not yet ;)

Ohhh... full color map of Punjar, the default city in DCC, Nice!

Fun stuff is more fun when it's free :)

Mini Review - The Folk of Osmon (DCC RPG Campaign Element)

The Folk of Osmon is the third release in +Daniel Bishop 's Campaign Elements series. These are set pieces, locations, hooks, etc meant to be dropped into an ongoing campaign or to be used when the party zigs instead of zags. In many ways, their are the sandbox elements currentlt missing from much DCC RPG play.

The latest release raises the already high bar ser by the previous two releases.

The Folk of Osmon is a setting piece. As the scale is 10' per hex, the scale isnt large, but the value certainly is.  A new human like race, four new creature, natural hazards, random encounter charts (often overlooked in other DCC RPG adventures), four fairly well detailed encounters / hooks / mini adventures and three other possible hooks for the Judge to flesh out.

Daniel squeezes one hell of a lot of gameplay into a relatively small page count. Probably my favorite of the three releases thus far and I've liked them all.

From the blurb:

A mighty civilization once thrived where now only lonely Osmon Mire stretches across the land.  The crumbled and vine-laden ruins of ages-old buildings arise here and there from the reedy mud and water.  The remains of statues and derelict temples adorn low hills rising from the muck.  Fell beasts roam the mire at night and man-like shapes haunt the swamp.  After dark none willingly passes the low hill, with its blood-encrusted altar stone, where the Folk of Osmon are said to sacrifice their victims.

The Campaign Elements series is designed to help judges create persistent campaign worlds, as well as deal with patron quests, divine requests, and the sudden need to “Quest For It”.  Whether it is because you are short on players one evening, or the wizard needs to locate a new spell, the Campaign Elements series has you covered.

Each of these areas is short enough to be played through by most groups in only a single session.  That doesn't mean that the value of the area is limited to a single session – each adventure includes notes on “squeezing it dry”…effectively getting the maximum re-use from your investment.

DCC Session Recap Part II - Sailors on the Starless Sea (Spoiler Alert)

The previous post was more about the technical side of last night's Sailors on the Starless Sea DCC RPG Session. This is going to be more of "play highlight". It will have spoilers. It can't be helped. You have been warned ;)

For this, we're going to cut to the chase and head right to the highlights.

The party spent time searching the pool of skulls. One of the PCs found the mechanism that opened the drain (he got sucked down but saved and lived). The rest of the party lowered themselves down after him and searched the cavern, with the fortune teller finding a boney finger with a magic ring. This becomes important later.

Leaving the flooded cavern, they come across an underground beach. There's a viking looking dragon headed boat waiting for them off shore. As they attempt to figure out how best to get to the boat, one of the characters attempts to read the strange sigils on a nearby stone tower and immediately tries to kill another PC (and fails). One of the party's elves makes sure there isn't a second attempt and kills the violator. This becomes the 3rd PC death. (the party did an amazing job of being properly afraid of stuff that could kill them on the courtyard level, as they only lost 2 of 18 up above).

One of the characters swims to the boat offshore and nearly gets grabbed by a tentacle. Another character climbs to the top of the stone tower, sees an area for lighting a candle, lights a candle (thank you candlemaker) and brought the boat to shore.

Halfway to the island with all the lights, screaming and chanting (and probably their fellow villagers) tentacles come up from the water and block their path. The party briefly discusses sacrificing one of the women to appease the beast, but decide not to. Instead, they fight the six tentacles, which quickly grab a handful of party members (including all of one player's PCs). One PC gets grabbed by 2 tentacles and promptly gets torn in half.

I decide to let the elf that grabbed the golden censer and chaos inscribed wrapped incense take a DC 15 Int check to remember he had the items - he never even remembered grabbing the incense and never drew the connection between them and the censer. He made the Int check with room to spare, I reminded him of the loot, he lit it and the tentacles released their captives. Successful Luck checks had the PC land in the boat, failed landed in the water. The character with the magic ring? In the water. Agility check to grab an oar before sinking? Successful.

When they landed on the island they could see the sacrificial rituals going on up at the top. If you can see it, you can shoot it. So, after adding some magical armor protection to one of the tanks and sending the lads out to die as they were to wade through beastmen, the fortune teller casts Scorching Ray from the magic ring - and rolled an adjusted roll of 20! Two rays, dealing 1d10 each, struck the beastman shaman doing the evil ritual, causing him to plumet dead into the sacrificial fire. The beastmen are confused and terrified. The player of the the magically armed fortune teller? A DCC convert in full, I am sure :)

But wait! From the fire emerges the Chaos Lord Animated Effigy. The party contemplates retreating to the boat, but the Chaos Lord is making a beeline to them. There is no time! Those wearing found armor more up to engage him. He wins initiative, swings his flaming flail and rolls a 1. Fumble. In plater armor. D16. Rolls a 10. Armor joints freeze up. Can't attack for two rounds. PCs pile on the rabbit. The Chaos Lord falls, and everything goes to shit.

Back to the boat as the world crumbles down around them. Scene ends as a huge wave pushes their boat down an underground river.

They were extremely lucky in the final scene, as the Chaos Lord would probably have cut down a few characters if he had been able to attack. Killing the shaman from a distance was pure luck and awesome and negated the need of wading through hordes of beastmen.

We'll see where they wind up next week...

DCC Session Recap Part I - Sailors on the Starless Sea (Technical Aspects of Play)

I'm going to warn you in advance, there are some spoilers. Maybe not so much this post, but the following one for sure. I'll try to be vague where possible, but some of this is impossible to obscure ;)

I had expected up to 8 players and we wound up with 6, which means that we had a swarm of 18 peasants looking to brave Sailors on the Starless Sea to save their fellow villagers. Those numbers would suffice with some attrition.

The nice thing about using Roll20 within Google Hangouts is that you can incorporate the maps included with an adventure and make them the playing fields.

The Fog of War feature rocks. The one issue I have is that things like traps, secret doors, hidden stuff are on the map. I've learned the trick to keep most secret / concealed doors hidden, but the other stuff? Not so easy.  It's one of the any reasons I appreciate the Purple Duck releases, as they generally include both a DM and a Players version of the map. Upload the players version and you are good to go. If only Goodman Games would follow the trend... hint hint.

Now, although I use Roll20 as our VTT, I don't use, or at least up to this point haven't use, tokens. I remember my days of playing weekly Fantasy Grounds 2 sessions, and always waiting for one or more players to catch up with the group. I've also found it to be a bit distracting at times.

I'm trying to think how the session would have looked with 18 peasants and a half dozen beastmen on the screen and cluttered comes to mind - as well as the confusion of players trying to keep track 3 PCs each with their tokens. We did okay just using the "ping" feature of the pointer.

I am open to using tokens in the future, as one of my players inquired about it and it may be fine to experiment with for a session or two. I just don't want the token pushing and the usual accompanying tactical mindset to take precedence over the immersion of the Theatre of the Mind. There may be a balance, and if so, we'll find it. If not, I've survived this long without tokens.

18 PCs meant that I couldnt keep track of them all, so I left that in the hands of the players. Next session, when we have out usual 6 PCs or so, I'll keep track on my side of HP and PC basics. It worked well last night, and everyone seemed to have a good time, even if I had to prod the players at one point about an item they had to avoid a total TPK. It seems the players had trouble tracking stuff on their side too ;)

As for avoiding the TPK? Even in a funnel you need survivors. This was the first DCC RPG session for most of my group. I wanted the funnel to be fun and exciting, not discouraging. Besides, I figured they'd get whittled down in the following encounter, but they proved me wrong.

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