Saturday, October 12, 2013

Kickstarter Failures - The RPG Corner is Beginning to Pile Up With Them (Nystul Has Company)

The most famous failure that I personally backed is probably Mike Nystul's Trio - Axes & Anvils, Infinite Dungeons and Cairn. Blow the money on office space, staff and a failed con - leave none to actually fulfill the Kickstarts that were funded. Mike's communications were full of lies.

Mike is far from alone.

We've had the Fiasco otherwise known as Myth & Magic. There are actually 2 outstanding projects in this case - the Players Guide and the GMs Guide. Tom's communications, when he bothered to even communicate, as has gone silent for months at a time, appear to have been lies too.

Quantum Roleplaying, yet another that tried to run a second Kickstarter to cover for the mismanagement of the first (the 2nd never funded) has finally admitted the truth - 18 months late he has no cash to print the books:
Financially, I reached the wall where continuing to work on this game without a paycheck is not possible. I then had to spend time looking for, finding, and then accepting a new part-time job. It's not exactly the sort of job I want to shout to the roof tops, but it pays the bills. It also takes a great deal of time away from what I want to be working on (the game), but after the "busy period" I'm in right now at work ends in a few weeks, things to will settle back down to where I can crush the remaining chapters.
Who the hell is living off of the $42k from a Kickstarter for a year and a half and actually expecting to have money left for physical product? Josh, have you been smiking from the same pipe as Mike?

Then we have CHAMPIONS OF ZED: Zero Edition Dungeoneering. Over a year late, and no communication in exactly 3 months. Communication had been a major failure on this Kickstarter. My suspicion? Enjoy the PDF you have, as the print copy won't be coming anytime soon.

What about the could still fail / majorly fucking late / needs an oxygen tank type of projects?

The longest on the tooth is Far West. I no longer give a shit about this project. I'll never play it, never promote it. There is late and there is "holy fuck this shit is LATE!" Far West has gone beyond even that point. Or to put it another way, I pledged for ACKS 2 weeks prior to supporting Far West. It's like comparing apples to rotting tomatoes.

Dwimmermount. I suspect it will see print at SOME point, but this project has inherited one hell of a curse. Same could be said about Appendix N. John seems to be stepping on his "private member" at every opportunity.

I'm sure you have your favorites. Feel free to add them to the comments...

Complete Compiled Crowd-Sourced List of Patrons for Swords & Wizardry

Sweet! A nice, even list of 24 patrons. Well done!

Random prize winners of a $5 RPGNow GC are:

Brian Richmond for Fairfax the Wanderer

Porky for Bunzle Allbeard

My personal pick is:

+Joseph Bloch for the spirit of Hagar Trollbane and all of the adventures it may spawn :)

(edit - winners need to email me at tenkarsDOTtavernATgmailDOTcom)

The Complete Compiled Crowd-sourced List of Patrons for Swords & Wizardry

 1 - Vannell Sweetfritter. No visible means of support, but he connects buyers and sellers. A procurer. But he finds that hard to pronounce, so he calls himself a fixer.

Chris Blauwkamp
2 - Elisaveta 'No Nose' Becherovka. Local enforcer for the thieves' guild, able to give the PCs morally gray (or black) tasks.

Joseph Bloch
3 - The fountain at the corner of Tanner's Lane and Sickle Street. The face of the ram, which normally just spits water from its mouth, will suddenly speak to one of the PCs, promising riches in exchange for certain rare items to be placed in the fountain. It is the spirit of the famous adventurer Hagar Trollbane, trapped in the fountain by forces unknown. Once the proper items are placed in the fountain, his soul will be released to find peace. He will start off with missions to recover caches of treasure he left hidden in various places, to prove his sincerity. He only speaks to the PCs (or one of them, selected at random).

4 - Caltrop the Ratcatcher. One of those invisible public functionaries who's work takes them into the most unlikely & interesting places. A veritable mine of information on the nocturnal wanderings of the local Guilds of thieves & assassins, not to mention as a guide to the sewers & undercrofts of the city. A good source of rumour originating from servants of the local great houses & temples.

Brian Anderson
5 - Saul Bellows - A well traveled tinker/trader who took a shining to you when you were a kid, and would always give you a story of far off lands and a treat/present in his infrequent visits to your village.

Rev. Dr. Dale
6 - Mr. Winthrop is most certainly NOT an assassin. He may be a bit well spoken, drink wine instead of beer, and speak far too properly to hang around in a dumpy tavern like the Bishop's Arse, but he is most definitely not currently nor was he ever a hired killer. Some of the older gents at the bar tip their hat, and the waitresses appreciate his polite demeanor (and generous tips) and he doesn't take kindly to ruffians. Of course sometimes he might buy someone a drink, and it would only be polite to go speak with Mr. Winthrop. Sooner rather than later, I'd think. Rumor has it that in addition to having never taken a payed contract to end the life of someone with scads of enemies, he occasionally has small favors to ask and errands to run. Nice chap - and such a well groomed mustache.

7 - Ertin Harfrane runs the local Bluegill Tavern and seems to have a knack for knowing everyone. Rumor has it that he is just a front man for the Red Myst (some sort of self-righteous thief guild or some nonsense) or may have worked as a porter for the legendary Order of the Phoenix. Heck there are all sorts of rumors about Good Old Ertin. Whatever the rumors, he serves a fine pint and there ain't never any brawls in his fine establishment (even if it is in a shady part of town). Truth be told, I think he may have a bit of elf blood in him, because sometimes he just don't make no sense, ya?

8 - Auntie Ysbeth is a rather large, rather jolly lady who runs the local ... erm ... Home for Ladies That Don't Have Anything To Do But Sure Enjoy Gentleman Caller. She tends to know quite a bit about the extra curricular habits of some rather fancy-pants nob types in town. If they would just lower her taxes, she might not have so much to chatter about...

9 - Lord Edgewater Perrybottom, of minor nobility, but endlessly involved with all manner of political intrigue, strange debts owed to wizards, and the unceasing need to understand what it is, exactly, that makes dragons do what they do. Not so smart, but lots of money. His father (Duke Cinbrittle Perrybottom) HATES adventurers (and is none too keen on elves and dwarfs anyway). His mum always has the kitchen staff make nice round tea and biscuits when "Edgey's Friends" come for a visit.

10 - Ken the Wolf is a skinny old guy who sits around on fallen logs on the edge of town wearing a ratty old wolf skin (I killt it meself befre ta war) generally harassing folks for handouts (bit of bread; scrap of drink?). He is quite full of stories if someone would just take the time to listen. Some of them might even be true - especially the ones about the Ruins. Ken gets quite serious and tends to whisper those stories. "Tw'er a night like this, lads, dat the beasts did roam. Watch yer sitters, fellas, or the beast might givya da nip!

11 - Fritz Brogan. Dwarven commander of the city guards. Keeps a lid on major crimes, but has been chasing the infamous Earl "Snake" Baren for at least two tears. Fritz has personally commissioned wanted posters with a drawing of Baren's face and has posted them all over town.

**Wanted Dead or Alive for Murder. Earl "Snake" Baren. Known murderer of at least two city guards. Considered extremely vicious and dangerous. A small, thin, somewhat greasy human standing but five foot one with black hair and brown eyes. Bears marks of the Pox upon his face. Has vowed to never again see the inside of the gaol.**

12 - Hugo, a pimp of flamboyant dress and manners, knows all sorts of interesting rumors that he can impart to the PCs, all the while attempting to get the PCs to purchase his wares. He also has his hand in the local black market, and can get things that are hard to acquire otherwise. He might have an anonymous client from time to time, looking for a group to do something shady. All transactions go through Hugo; the client remains anonymous. The PCs may also be the clients from time to time. Finally, Hugo is able to sell stolen goods through a fence known to him, but both he and the fence take a cut, and no, Hugo will not reveal the fence's name. The girls who work for him call him Huggy.

Tim Shorts
13 - Dogeral Mansplitter, mercenary, he wears battered armor and a bent shield with runes etches onto the edge. He drinks from a hollowed, giant boar tusk that he carries with him. He's known to get better at fighting the more he drinks. Rumor has it that he's got a price on his head because he killed four guards during a drunken rage.

14 Bunzle Allbeard, an unusually hirsute reactionary puppeteer. Found in a burrow, raised by a mime troupe. Longs for the deep, dank places, and the old ways, but loves an audience. Very adept at misdirection - his thing goes unnoticed...

Brian Anderson
15 - You've had drinks for years with Torrim at your favorite tavern in town. Always happy to buy another round and talk of local news, but never about his own past or occasional disappearances, but happy to hear of your own plans for adventure and riches. One late night a foreign merchant approaches you after Torrim leaves from a long evening of drinking and tales, and asks if you really know the Dragonsbane? Suddenly you realize your drinking buddy is the famous Torrim Dragonsbane. Killer of a dragon and captain of the siege of Grunwald, and was rumored many years ago to be the paramour of the Queen of the neighboring kingdom. Surely Torrim couldn't have been hiding all this for years?

16 - Link is an in-between man whose sole passion in life is to connect you with someone who needs your abilities. Link’s job is to know you and know what you do for a living, what kind of things you’re good at. If you have been in town any decent length of time, Link will find a way to get to know you (he can do it himself, or he has others who work for him). Sometimes Link will wait a few days to get to know you; sometimes he’ll wait a week or more. It depends on the vibe he gets as he’s scoping you out those first few days.

Sometimes a party enters town looking for someone with specific talents and abilities. Link can be sought out instead of seeking you out, but you have to ask right (the right people in the right manner).

Also, Link’s services aren’t free. He has a business to maintain and a family to feed….

17 - Name: Scabs
Profession: Barber (and sometimes a dentist or surgeon)
Hook: Scabs is sort of an odd fixture. A balding man with grey and brown hair, missing one front tooth and handle bar mustache. You can’t always find his shop, despite it being in a brick building but when it does show up you know you've found the place when you see the red, white and blue barber pole that endlessly (and perhaps magically) rotates. The shop is well kept as Scabs employs a young waif name Willy who cleans up and acts a crier shouting out, “Shave and Haircut 2-Bits” when Scabs shows up. On the wall is a set of golden scissors. Scabs simply say, “It was a gift from me dear old Grandfather.” Could there be more to these scissors – is that blood on the blade that wasn't there last time? Regardless, the Barber Shop It’s a great place to catch up on local gossip, rumors and quick game of chess. Or perhaps get some help with a wound, disease or toothache. Rumor has it he has a high stakes card game that takes place once a month in the backroom. Mr. Winthrop is a regular patron for a weekly mustache grooming.

Paul Uhde
18 - Nackel "Knack" Tharad - A man of middle years and burgeoning stomach, he loves the good life, typically revolving around great food and good ale, or good food and great ale. He's made a bit of a reputation as someone who "knows things." He always knows who needs something stolen, or something found, ofttimes when something needs to go missing. If you're looking for something, he knows where to find it. He'll know when the guard patrols are going to change their routes. His "knack" for knowing things is uncanny.

Simon J. Hogwood
19- Sir Kent of the Heights - a knight and member of the city's elite, he is nonetheless quite friendly and egalitarian. He is also passionately interested in the pre-humanoid origins of the city, and suspects that the original builders are, in some fashion, still around and influencing events. PCs will routinely informed as to his latest findings, and will occasionally be employed to help Sir Kent seek out The Truth, whether it's in the private papers of the Chief Magistrate or a long-forgotten series of chambers buried under the local stables.

Stuart K.
20 - Cloritz is a potioneer renowned for both the efficacy of his potions as well as his absolute paranoia. Convinced his staff was stealing, he developed a bond with Ossus (keeper of bones) to animate skeletons for hire. Not only does he not have to pay them, they can't drink his potions or smuggle them out (where are they going to put them, their ribcages?) . Ossus, of course, demands sacrifices of rare bones, and if those aren't met Cloritz' potions begin to have...untoward effects. Good introduction to a patron, good plot hook (Ossus demanded a fresh lion skull! I'll pay you a lot of money for this! My reputation depends on it!" or "Yeah, that potion caused bony horns to grow out of your head, shoulders, knees and elbows. I'm uh a little behind in my tributes. I'm sure we can clear this up if you help me out a little."), nice way for potions to go horribly awry.

Brian Richmond
21 - Sheriff Montage, Leader of "the People". Montage is an every man looking sort with all the qualities you'd want in a leader, he looks like he can carry a blade, wear armor, lead men, and inspire a state; though his actual skill in all these things have never been properly tested. Montage was appointed Shire-Reeve of a small fief known for its banditry and criminal population, and has through some foul mean curbed their behavior. Montage expounds heavily about his faith, though never in great detail, and often offers to "re-educate" individuals who he finds lacking. He is a skilled speaker, though he comes across as stern and disappointed. He has angry and tired eyes, a worn scowl on his square jaw, and he doesn't seem to care much for non-humans. Montage knows people in power, and he can easily spread influence through his fief and some minor criminal groups who fear him .

22 - Fairfax the Wanderer. Fairfax is a short skinny being, confused for a halfling on more than one occasion, who rides atop Baubus a black pony he's painted up with bright patterns to match his monk's garb. Fairfax has a prickly, almost pubic, red beard and he seems to be in an almost perpetual state of positive emotion. If he's met on the road, he'll gladly cook a meal on the condition that he be allowed to illuminate the other wayfarer in his "Book of Wanderings". The only thing that will cause Fairfax to become outright violent (and thus allow him to show off his exceptional skill as a crossbowman) is when he sees poor behavior on the road. He'd just as soon slay a bandit as he would a knight, it all depends on the etiquette and who was unpleasant first. An apology accepted by both parties can calm him. Fairfax has been most places in-land (he dislikes boats because his pony dislikes boats) and he can carry messages or give information on those who travel roads.

23 - Entomidius, Physician and Scholar. Entomidius is a very old man of exceptional height and long spindly digits. His beard is perhaps the least rigid thing upon him as it is a large flowing heap of white looping locks which he must flip over his shoulder when he writes lest he get ink in it. Entomidius is fascinated by monsters and demi-humans, often paying large sums of money for their corpses and remains which he studies and writes about in his ongoing (currently 97 volumes worth of) research. Entomidius not only enjoys his writing his theories, as he is also very talented healer; though he dislikes healing due to the pressure of bringing back someone who may go on to perform something he wouldn't approve of. Entomidius will perform major surgeries and healing acts upon dear friends or those he believes will further causes he approves of (such as education, literacy, medical advancement, feeding the poor), but even then he is a nervous wreck. He enjoys building ships in bottles.

Henry Wong
24 - Wolbur Woodbottle is a plain seeming halfling wearing a dusty mottled leather jerkin stretching over a rotund torso and has a large short sword sheathed at his belt, all which looks as if they're well acquainted with use. The craggy self-employed caravan owner has the disposition of dwarf and the thirst for ale and spirits to match. Overall he gives the impression of an honest bloke, though not above bending the rules so the "little guy" can compete against the big companies. On the road he needs capable guards for his wagons, people who can serve as forward scouts or outriders to head off any trouble or outflank any raiders. In town, he needs agents for assorted business, but he'll test the party out on the roads first before letting them know too much about his operation.

Rev. Dr. Dale

Friday, October 11, 2013

New Swords & Wizardry Campaign Kicks of in 24 Hrs

Tomorrow night, around 930 PM, we'll be kicking off the new Swords & Wizardry Campaign via Roll20 / Google Hangouts. +Joe D will be alternating sessions with me, running LotFP Weird Fantasy on his end.

I'm leaving the direction of the campaign in the hands of the PCs. We'll be starting out in the Southern Reaches of the Wilderlands with a pretty full blown sandbox after the first adventure ( +Harley Stroh 's Tower of the Black Pearl).

Depending on how things play out, I can see this progressing to The Razor Coast around level 6, if the players steer things in that direction. The joy (and horror) of a true sandbox is trying to stay one step ahead of the players ;)

I'll be announcing the winners of the patrons and rumors crowd-sourcing tomorrow. Too much microbrew in my system to even attempt to get that straight tonight ;)

I Don't Often Post Links to Podcasts, But When I Do - Save or Die - Episode 78 - Eldritch Wizardry (Special Guest - Jon Peterson)

I pretty much listen to RPG podcasts commuting to and from work every day. The latest one I'm listening to is Save or Die Episode 78. The hosts talk about the OD&D supplement Eldritch Wizardry, but it's the insights of Jon Peterson that make this episode worthy of a shout out.

You can't go wrong by giving this episode a listen, and if you are into the history of the beginnings of D&D, you just might learn a thing or two.
Author and game historian Jon Peterson joins the crew once again to discuss the heritage of Original D&D; this time Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry. They discuss its origins, its impact on both Original and future Dungeons & Dragons, and its usefulness to current fans of Classic D&D today. It might not even be as controversial as the Blackmoor discussions!

From the Beginning - Do You Start New Campaigns at 1st Level or Higher?

Me, I've done it both ways. When we wrapped up the ACKS sandbox last summer with the loss and gains of players, we moved on to AD&D and I allowed players to start their characters in the range we ended the previous campaign - around 5th level.

In the end, that seemed less satisfying for the players, even those that seemed excited about the idea of starting at a mid level.

This time, we are starting at first level, and the very first adventure may change the direction of the campaign depending on how things play out.

I want my players to feel invested in the campaign from the very beginning, and I feel starting the characters from the beginning is key to that.

What about you? First level? Second? Fifth? Where do you start characters at the beginning of a campaign?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Myth & Magic Player's Guide - 2E Reviled and Unshipped!!!

First off, huge thanks to my favorite badger +Jason Paul McCartan for bringing this back to my attention. There has been so much bullshit attached to this project, it comes close to making the Nystul Trio seem well run. Hell, at least Mike admits to being a fuckup - Tom just keeps the lies rolling - complete with pictures of boxes of the Player's Guide ready to ship.

This was Tom's last update:

I have jack shit in the mail from Tom. From the looks of the comments on Kickstarter and on the soon to be expired company website, I'm not alone. Not one copy has shown up in the wild. Heck, one backer submitted a fraud complaint to Kickstarter earlier today on this very project.

So Tom Ryan / New Haven Games - are you prepared to take Nystul's crown from him?

Hey, Tom had a second project that is ALSO unfulfilled, the Myth & Magic GM's Guide with more pissed of supporters. Mike, you may just have to share that crown at the very least...

Numenera Has a Limited License For Small Time Publishers at a Cost of 50 Bucks

Maybe at some point I should actually read the game? After I get through my review slush pile and everything else that's occupying me free time...
In an attempt to support the gaming community while still protecting our brand, Monte Cook Games offers a limited, royalty-free license for individuals and publishers interested in producing small-run game material supporting Numenera. 
This is designed to be a hassle-free way for publishers to license small-press products with expected sales of $2,000 or less. 
This Limited License is probably not for you if you’re a fan who wants to create awesome Numenera items for your website, blog or community. You probably want to check out our fan use policy instead. 
This Limited License is also probably not for you if you are large company and/or are hoping to put out a product with expected sales revenues of more than $2,000. In that case, you’ll want to apply for a full licensing partnership from Monte Cook Games.
Here are some of the features of the Limited License: 
**There is a $50 fee. 
**That fee licenses a single print or PDF product supporting Numenera (you can obtain multiple licenses for multiple products). 
**You may sell the product commercially (or release it for free, if you desire). 
**You may not crowdfund the product. 
**You do not need to pay royalties and are not required to report sales unless we request a report. 
**However, this license limits your total sales revenue to $2000. (If you anticipate sales revenue greater than $2000, or if your sales revenues exceed $2000, you’ll need to discuss a full license with us. 
The Monte Cook Games limited license is intended for small-press support products. This is not the entirety of the limited license. If you are interested in pursuing a publication under our limited license and would like additional information about what it entails, please contact Charles Ryan at charles@montecookgames.com.
Not sure what to make of this. Some products may not even make back $50 after expenses...

Do You Like "Dark" Campaigns?

I like the Midnight setting. I think it's on of the better done "dark" settings, even though it is a bit too dark for my taste - I dont think the players have any chance of making a real difference in the setting as written.

Still, having the world go to crap around you, making adventuring more than just "time to get more loot" into something along the lines of "how can we get more powerful so we can change things for the better". Kinda pointing the heroes into acting like heroes, at least in the long term.

Yeah, I'm seriously considering kicking things off with +Harley Stroh 's Tower of the Black Pearl. That adventure can certainly change the direction of a campaign right from the first session (trying to avoid spoilers, as my players do read the blog).

So, what say you? Traditional carefree adventuring or heroes in "The Dark"?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Do You Prefer Shorter Campaigns or "Epic" Ones?

As I get ready to kick off the new S&W campaign in the Souther Reaches of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy, I find myself looking back at the campaigns of run over the years.

Most came to an end one way or another in the 5-7th level range, but the epic campaign back in the day lasted until most characters were level 11-13, which in my mind is fairly epic.

I'm already painting, with very broad strokes, where this campaign might get to, and I'm hoping that's name level or higher in AD&D terms (9+ in level).

Some folks say the sweet point of play is the levels in the area of 5-7. I won't argue that the game doesn't change above those levels, but the higher levels become a nice challenge for both the players and the DM.

Do you prefer campaigns that end at at mid levels, or do you prefer to get your heroes to the point where they are Heroes?

The Southern Reaches of the Wilderlands of High Adventure

I forgot about this map (only 1/4 is pictured above). This was commissioned by James Mishler's Adventure Games Publishing, and the cartographer was Peter Bradley (he works almost exclusively for Troll Lord Games).

It is an amazing map. Regretfully, I don't believe the companion booklet was ever published for this, tho bits and pieces of the setting was released by AGP and is available from the Judges Guild Page over at OneBookShelf, as is the above map.

Hmmm, I wonder if we could crowd-source a community driven detailing of the setting? It would allow this amazing map to actually live.

There are over 1300 hexes if I did my math right (at 5 miles per hex). Detailing 25% of the hexes at one per day would make this a year long project for one person. Would be interesting either way. Damn the lack of free time...

Latest Bundle of Holding - Stars Without Number

Real simple. If you've never checked out Stars Without Number, you NEED this bundle.

Best OSR SciFi ruleset on the market. Other Dust rocks too ;)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Southland, Wilderlands or a Hybrid Combination of the Settings...

Last Saturday night, when we decided to move on from the DCC RPG to S&W, one of the settings suggested was The Wilderlands. I knew where the box was, but I feared the two books for the setting were boxed away in storage, so I voted it down.

Needless to say, I found the books ;)

So, do I stick with the Southlands from Points of Light, which my party will probably outgrow around 5th or 6th level?

Do I switch it to the Wilderlands before we start on Saturday Night and chose a region to start with?

Or, do I wedge the Southlands into the Wilderlands, glossing over any rough edges and use both?

Crowd-sourcing Campaign Creation - Looking for Rumors, Big & Small

Similar to last night's request to crowd-source some patrons and connections for the PCs in my new campaign, tonight I'm looking for some rumors. All you need to know is it's for standard fantasy type setting (at least prior to the rumors and deciding which are true and which aren't ;)

I'll leave this post open for comments until 6PM Eastern on Oct 10th. One random entry and one entry that I pick as the best / most entertaining / wozza will get a $5 GC to RPGNow. Yep, that's 10 bucks up for grabs.

I may do something similar tomorrow night, so keep your eyes open ;)

I'm hoping for at least a dozen entries. If we get 20 or more, I'll add another $5 random prize.

After all is said and done, I'll make a nice random list out of the entries and post it on the blog.

So, get at it (and add an entry or two to the patron list while you are at it too)

Huzzah! Adventures Dark & Deep Bestiary Kickstarter Releases in Record Time

Huge props to +Joseph Bloch for releasing the Adventures Dark & Deep Bestiary MONTHS earlier then the Kickstarter estimated.

When I get home from work, I'll be kicking back with a cold one as I peek at the PDF and imagine the trouble for my players when the hardcover arrives ;)

The Awesome Loot From my 3x Era of Non-Gaming

It occurred to me, as i has going through the list of Goodman Games 3x adventures with 1e feel, that I never really played during the 3x era. Instead, I collected and I read.

I have a shitload of 3x WtC sourcebooks - for shit I never played or had any real opportunity to play. My one 3e gaming experience (excluding DDO) was a combat playtest using the Klooge VTT. I did a lot of spending on 3x for a system I never played ;)

My prized possessions though are as follows:

The Necromancer Games release of The Wilderlands -  I love that boxed set, even if I may never get a chance to run it. We are pretty set on using the Southland from Points of Light, but the only thing that could change that is a vote for the Wilderlands.

Goodman Games' Castle Whiterock. An excellent megadungeon - I think I burned out my gaming group with Rappan Athuk ;)

Goodman Games' Gazetteer of the Known World - Maybe more then I actually need for a settng, but nearly on par with the Wilderlands as settings go.

Swords & Wizardry Whitebox Boxed Set - I found his as I as finding the OSR. Bought two copies. Gave one away to my to the winner of a round robin AD&D combat scenario with my old (high school and college) gaming group.

And of course boxes of assorted 3x stuff in storage...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Compiling a List of Low Level Adventures - Part 1 - Goodman Games

I plan to seed a nice amount of published adventures throughout the Southlands (it is, after all, a sandbox campaign), and the first publisher I looked at was Goodman Games.

Admittedly, most of what I have in PDF (and on CD for the first 8 adventures) or print is for D20 / 3x. Still, they are old school in feel and easy enough to strip of their 3x'isms.

Regretfully, my boxed set of the Known Realms is sitting in storage, but I may just break that out of the Southlands get to small for the party (or just move them on to Blackmarsh, who knows). My boxed set of DCC 51, Castle Whiterock, is sitting under my desk. I don't see my players looking to spend that much time in one dungeon at this point.

So, I went through Goodman's RPGNow listings and found the low level adventures, most of which I have (and will need to skim to see which ones are applicable). I'll gladly take any feedback or thoughts you might have. Next, I'll go through he three volumes of adventures in hardback from Expeditious Retreat Press and find their low level gems (as they use OSRIC, conversion to S&W is even easier).

0 - Legends Are Made, Not Born - Level 0-1

1 - Idyllis of the Rat King - Levels 1-3

2 - The Vault of Tsather Rho - Level 1

11 - The Dragonfiend Pact - Level 2

14 - Dungeoo=n Interludes - Levels 1-13

24 - Legend of the Ripper - Levels 1-3

28 - Into the Wilds - Levels 1-3

29 - The Adventure Begins - 20 adventures in the 103 range. A fucking steal at 20 bucks

31 - The Transmuter's Last Touch - Levels 1-2

41 - The Lost Arrows of Aristemis - Levels 1-3

44 - Dreaming Caverns of the Duergar - Levels 1-3

45 - Malice of the Medusa - Levels 1-3

51.5 - The Sinister Secret of Whiterock - Levels 1-3

A large selection to pick through, I know, but I value the input of my readers. I am looking for the cream of the crop (and saying "Just use +Harley Stroh 's stuff" might be valid, but I've already used it, so you need a different reason ;)

Crowd-sourcing Campaign Creation - Looking for Patrons and Connections

I want to ground my PCs in the game world, and to do so, they need patrons and connections right from the get go. Even if they don't come into play until later, they need to be there from the start to have value. And guess what? My PCs are going to randomly roll their connections based upon your comments.

Sure, I could make up some basic list with Watch Commander and Bartender, but I suspect you folks will be better at it than me, and I'm willing to put a little cash behind my words.

I'll leave this post open for comments until 6PM Eastern on Oct 9th. One random entry and one entry that I pick as the best / most entertaining / wozza will get a $5 GC to RPGNow. Yep, that's 10 bucks up for grabs.

I may do something similar tomorrow night, so keep your eyes open ;)

I'm hoping for at least a dozen entries. If we get 20 or more, I'll add another $5 random prize.

Looking for a name, profession (not necessarily class) and a hook / quirk / something that makes them just a bit (or a lot) different. Nothing game breaking. No Fizbans or Elminsters ;p

Get to it!

Multipurpose Postings - Working on Prepping for the New Camapign

I've got a short time frame to get ready for next Saturday's game and little free time to get that done in.

As I've mentioned prior, the overtime spigot at work opened up in July, and as long as it's flowing I can't turn it down, as nothing lasts forever. It has put a few things on hold, both around the house (painting, wallpapering, bathroom renovations, putting in new floors) and hobby related (Unofficial OSR Zine, I'm talking about you). It has also slowed down my posting.

Believe it or not, I do most of my blog writing commuting to and from work (often with one RPG podcast or another playing in the background) and lying in bed trying to sleep (the whole Luck Houserule from Sunday's post came to be as I lay in bed after the Hangout with the group). Well, technically NOT actual writing, but the brainstorming. The actually putting words on screen is pretty quick when the thinking is already done.

The problem is, although I have my setting (Southland from the excellent Points of Light Volume 1), I still need to decide on a suitable starting adventure (prewritten or quickly written by me) and seeds for the further adventures (I am thinking of yoking them for a Halloween fright night ala the old Ravenloft gag - "Beware the mists!"). I want to hit the ground running, because if the start of your campaign falls flat, it's hard to recover (much like a Kickstarter)

This means much of my brainstorming is going to be going towards campaign creation, which in turn will lead much of my postings over the next week or so to be about the process. This may wind up being really cool series of posts or a steaming pile of shit. I guess we won't know until we get there.

Interestingly enough, i just started reading The Lazy Dungeon Master by Michael Shea and there are some ideas I's like to incorporate into the process. Why am i reading it? Because of the new Kindle Paperwhite I have, and the fact that this book comes in mobi format. Figure a review will be forthcoming shortly.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Review - The Gnomes of Levnec (OSR / NGR Low Level Adventure)

When is a Gnome not a Gnome? When it one of The Gnomes of Levnec! (insert evil laugh here)

I smiled, I cringed, smiled some more and nearly did a dry heave (well, maybe not that far, but certainly more than a cringe). Yep, this is that kind of adventure.

Things are not as they seem, and even when seen, they aren't what they are. Damn, I'm getting obscure.

You know what? Let me tell you what I want. I want 2 dozen pages or so and a map detailing the region of whatever fucked up world the town of Levnec is situated in. This is my kind of setting - weird enough to be disturbing, yet grounded enough to make the disturbing truly disturbing.

I think I've found my Halloween adventure for the new S&W campaign - I just need to have my party find themselves someplace new on the full moon or some such. It's a mystery perfect for the abilities of young murder hobos.

It's a dual stated adventure for both OSR systems and NGR (by +Zzarchov Kowolski )

Oh, layout is great and the art is on the money.

Okay, one complaint - the background of each page is is a grayish watermark - it's going to kill my ink when I print this out. And yes, I will print this out...

Review - City-State of the Sea Kings - Part The Last - Admitting Defeat

I know you, the fine readers of this blog, voted on City-State of the Sea Kings being moved to the top of the review pile.

I tried, really I did.

I just can't do it.

There is too much here for the little I want in a setting, and what is here is dry reading. Maybe not as dry as some of those history text books I had to slog through in my college days, but dry none the less.

Classic Judges Guild products were known for their brevity - they might have been dry as a cracker, but they got to the point and moved on. City-State of the Sea Kings is a box of saltines.

Isle of the Blest was less that 30 pages in the Necromancer release of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy (maybe one day I'll run that) whereas City-State of the Sea Kings comes in at nearly 380.

I don't need that much detail. Hell, I can't handle that much detail. It's not a product I would use at this point in my gaming life cycle, as I'll never find the time to read it all the way through, let alone know it well enough to run it.

There are folks out there that this book is certainly written for. Folks that can't get enough detail on a setting. That's not me, nor is it a fit for my group. Southland, from Points of Light comes in at 14 pages, including the map. That's our type of sandbox.

City-State of the Sea Kings is obviously a labor of life. It's detailed with excellent maps and suitable art. There is an audience for this book, and it deserves to find them. As for my copy? I'll probably put it on the shelf next to my copy of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy.

Free Adventure - "Three Sad Wizards" - (OSR)

The timing of this adventure is perfect as we just started a new Swords & Wizardry campaign last night. Will I be kicking off the new setting with Three Sad Wizards? Probably not, but there is a awesome amount of goodness for me to use piecemeal later on.

Three Sad Wizards is a mostly lighthearted fare. There are three wizards (obviously) and each has a problem they could use the PCs to solve for them. The whole thing is loosely strung together, and cutting the strings and using the different pieces on their own shouldn't cause any problems.

There are also some small encounters included at the end to flesh things out further if one wants to. For me, they are excellent pieces to place in my new sandbox. Very useful.

As the adventure is situated in the author's home campaign, there are some optional house rules included, as well as new spells and magic items.

It's a very well put together series of encounters, and you certainly can't beat the price.

Free in PDF and also available in print from Lulu.

The End of One Campaign Brings on a Fresh Beginning

We've had a real tough time getting the group together on a regular basis since mid July - summer distractions and other assorted events kept things dragging, and the gain and then loss of two players changed the party dynamics. It didn't help that I had just kicked off the new DCC RPG campaign at the start of the summer, replacing the AD&D / OSRIC campaign in Rappan Athuk.

The feedback from my players was the first campaign we played, ACKS in Blackmarsh, was still the game they always thought back on. The characters resonated, the setting had meaning and their actions had impact. I ran it as a "seat of my pants" sandbox, which was stressful, yet exciting at the same time. We also used Obsidian Portal for weekly character updates and players that made weekly recaps got bonus expo. Player drops and gains caused us to move on from this, but the style seems to fit my players and me more than anything else we've done.

So, last night we put it up to a player vote - start anew or not, and if so, what rules and style and such?

The results were pretty much as follows. Start anew, with a sandbox styled campaign. For the rules, AD&D came up but Swords & Wizardry Complete was the ruleset decided upon. Very close to AD&D and it allows me to houserule the shit out of it, which I will detail some of at the end of this post.

Choosing a setting was a bit trickier. Greyhawk folio? Forgotten Realms gray box? Then I remember +Rob Conley excellent Points of Light from Goodman Games. I copied the descriptions of the 4 settings into the Hangout's chat box, and it was quickly decided to use Southland. Just enough to kickstart a campaign without being bogged down in excessive details.

Rules chosen? Check

Setting Chosen? Check

Obsidian Portal set up? Check

Then we discussed house rules, which we are liberally borrowing from other OSR games.

- Cleave, as per the ACKS rules. Will probably use the ACKS charts for death and dismemberment too.

- All ability score bonuses range from + 1 to + 3 and penalties from -1 to -3

- Liberal multiclassing, assuming the player can give an in game logical reason for the class combo

- Few class / race restrictions. Explain to me why you want to play the combo in terms of the game, not the rules

- No level limits on single class demihumans

- Thief skills and the like will be based off of the single save (much like in Crypts & Things). Unskilled use of skills will need an 18 (adjusted by ability bonus / penalty) to succeed, and take 10 times longer to accomplish

- Luck - I like the use of luck in the DCC RPG game, and here's my attempt at a variation for other OSR games:
     All characters start with 5 points of luck, adjusted as follows - Thieves + 2, Clerics + 1, Monks + 1 and Halflings + 2 (race and class bonuses are cumulative)
     Once per encounter, a player  can decide to burn luck after rolling a die
         1 point spent equals + 2 to the roll
         2 points spent equals a reroll
           Halflings can spend their "once an encounter" luck ability on another PC at twice the                    stated cost - 2 points or 4 points
     At end of the adventure (not session - usually 1-3 sessions) players get back some luck, but in        no case more than they started the campaign with:
           Thieves get back 1d4
           Clerics / Monks get back 1d3
           All other classes get back 1d2
           Halflings add + 2 to the roll

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