Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wherein the "B Team" Delves into the Castle of the Mad Archmage

Last night we had three players for the monthly (more or less) Swords & Wizardry "B Team" session. By popular of the regulars, it was decided that the PCs would venture into the Castle of the Mad Archamage. Megadungeon delving works well for a once a month game where the player roster has the potential to change a bit.

A few quick comments and notes:

- I change shit up, often spur of the moment. Your players may or may not have a pair of guardsmen with a tent set up outside the dungeon entrance, asking for "valid adventuring licenses", but if your players are asked, they probably should ensure they get their paperwork in order. Mine did ;)

- I like to play with accents in the sessions I run, often with "notable results", even if these results aren't the ones I was seeking

- I really wish all PDF modules / adventures included an unkeyed, sans secret doors and traps, made to be viewed by the players sort of map. With the amount of gaming that is going on online these days, this would be the icing on the cake for many otherwise excellent adventures. That being said, I've gotten skilled at using "fog of war" and keeping the secret doors"secret". If I have a single complaint about Castle of the Mad Archamge, it would be this. Not sure if it it so much a complaint as "I wish it included..."

- my party zigged when I thought they would zag. Isn't that always the case?

- poop is poop. some poop is more than others. some poop has treasure, most holds horrors. can I help it if the poop I scoop is deeper than written? ;) (couldn't help myself +Joseph Bloch )

All three of my players wrote up play summaries from their perspectives:

+Tim Shorts wrote his over at the Gothridge Manor blog.

+Douglas Cole wrote his over at the Gaming Ballistic blog.

+Peter V. Dell'Orto wrote his over at the Dungeon Fantastic blog.

Do I have great players or what?

Friday, March 28, 2014

My Biggest Gaming Regret of my Youth - Dismissing D&D Basic as "Basic"

My biggest regret of my gaming youth was thinking "Basic" D&D was somehow inferior to "Advanced"
D&D. Heck, I didn't even own Basic until I found a table of remainders with a notch cut out of each box. It was the Moldvay edition of Basic, and even then I had no idea of the gem I had in my hands.

It wasn't until I got older and returned to gaming from a prolonged absence that I saw the true value of Basic and the clones that emulate it. Sleek, streamlines, un-bloated and not needlessly complicated with rules we ignored in AD&D because we simply couldnt understand them, Basic was a breath of fresh air.

If I could go back to the days of my gaming youth, I'd make sure I appreciated "Basic" D&D for what it was - an excellent version of the D&D rules that was needlessly dismissed because of it's "Basic" label.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Shelf, Soon to Hold Minis & Terrain (and attempting to hold off China, Vases and more)

We're having contractor work going on over here at the Tenkar Abode. This shelving unit also closed off a doorway between the living room and my son's room.

The second shelf from the bottom has been bestowed upon me for use in displaying my Reaper's Bones and Dwarven Forge Game Tiles. Thankfully, the Dwarven Forge tiles are painted - I guess I'll need to paint the Bones too.

I suspect the rest of the shelves will hold teapots, vases, porcelain dolls, china and the like. Ah well, I should consider myself blessed I have a foothold outside the "man cave corner" ;)

and now for something completely different:

RPG Blog Carnival (March 2014): Virtual Table Tops and Online RPGs

I'm really not much for "blog carnivals" and the like. I enjoy reading them, mind you, it's the act of
participation that I often fail at. Probably has much to do with the fact that I usually have an abundance of crap to post about of my own and the distractions get lost in my own noise.

Not this time tho', and it's not just because this month's host is a member of the infamous "B Team". ;)

Nope, this time it's because it's a topic I hold near and dear - VTTs or Virtual Table Tops.

Let me give you a quick background of my VTT history. I've tried (and own licenses for where applicable) Klooge, Screenmonkey, MapTools, Battlegrounds RPG, iTableTop, Fantasy Grounds I and II, Roll20 and a small handful of others that escape me at the moment. Yes, a virtual plethora of virtual table tops.

As others, I really enjoyed playing with Fantasy Grounds II "as a player". Never got around to trying it as a GM because it was just too damn intimidating for me to even try to convert an adventure for use with the software, let alone a ruleset. Fantasy Grounds can do some amazing things in the hands of the right person - I just wasn't that person. Still, it is the interface that brought me back to the work of RPGs, and for that I am thankful.

Today, my poison of choice is Roll20. For a while, it was Tabletop Forge, but that was rolled into Roll20, and in the end it has worked out fine. In the beginning, however, it was a damn near bloody mess, as it didn't (does now, and does with ease) allow one to draw freehand - so if you wanted to actually map out the dungeon as your group progressed, you were shit outa luck.

Roll20 is truly night and day from where it was then to where it is now. These days, I mostly use maps from whatever adventure I'm running, drop it onto the virtual table top, cover it with "fog of war" and reveal the map as the party progresses. Heck, I don't even use tokens. I'm like "old school" "new tools".

So yeah, that's me pimping some VTTs for the current RPG Blog Carnival. VTTs allow me to game with folks from across the world with a schedule that works for all. As an adult with a family of my own and real employment, it sure as hell beats trying to organize a regular group in "meat space".

Scarlet Heroes Hard Cover in Hand!

Scarlet Heroes arrived yesterday. I doubt I'll have a chance to run my wife through anything this weekend, as I'm running games both Friday and Saturday nights, but I'm hoping I can put her through here second one on one RPG session (her first was an adapted T&T solo about 3 years ago) in about a week.

I'm pretty stoked!

The "B-Team" is About to Explore the Castle of the Mad Archmage

Look what the mail man left me yesterday (among other things which I may post about later).

Tomorrow night the B-Team will delve into the Castle of the Mad Archmage. Session reports and review will be forthcoming.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Here's the 34 Other Entries in the OSR Superstar Contest that are Moving on to the Second Round

Here's the list of the other entries that made the first round cut of the OSR Superstar Contest and are moving on to the next round. I'll have my staff pick 13 random numbers between 1 and 34 in the morning and I'll post the results tomorrow (this is to decide who gets the $5 RPGNow GCs and the D30 PDF)

Folks, if you made the list, start thinking about designing a new monster for Swords & Wizardry. Stat blocks, background, ecology, tactics - whatever makes your entry the best. Entries will be open until April 9th. We should be seeing 41 amazing entries ;)

As for the items listed below, we'll see them in more detail over the coming days.

Jason Reilly - Bow of the Grasslands

Mark Bober - The Lode Rod

Davis Brawley - The Jester Laugh

Tony Mullins - Beguiler's Eye

Jon Hiesfelter - Custodian's Conchitic Cover

David Chato - Crown of the Kobold Kings

Chri Nail - Sword of Kelnova

Legion McRae - The Choir Armor

John Owen - Staff of Spoken Words

James MacKenzie - Leaper's Lanthorn

Reginald McReynolds - Grave Digger's Shovel

Ed Hacket - Ghoul's Tongue

Eric Treasure - Lamp of Radiant Dispersion

Mark Clodi - Fantastic Rest Stone

Alexander Davis - Band of Oaths

Joel Davis - Deceptor

Gavin Norman - Mother Amulet Locket

Tim Snyder - Rune Eraser

Shane Knysh - Kef's Arrows of Tracking

Erin Bisson - Child of Brass and Ruby

Derek Fischer - Gauntlets of Greed / Generosity

Andrew Branstad - Chronoblade

Diogo Noguira - Backpack of the Brotherhood

Alan Mitchie - Tapestry of Tureign

Jim Stanton - Wizard's Pipe of Warning

Vita Moose - Fortescue's Gloves of Quasiambidexterity

Brian Richmond - The Lookout Beast

Danny Cline - the Marble Escritoire

Bill De Franza - Wondrous Wandering Wagon

Jasper Polane - Milvan's Master Index

John McCollum - The Wooer's Blade

Matt Kane - Book of Doors

Greg Gorgonmilk - YewGolm

Do Your Magic Missiles Automatically Hit, or do You Need to Roll?

I was listening to the Dead Games Society podcast on the drive to work this morning and they were talking about Holmes Basic and Magic Missiles came up as a topic.

In Holmes, the magic user needs to roll to hit with MM, and as all weapons do 1D6, and MM does 1D6 in Holmes if I recall correctly, why would one even bother to memorize the spell? Just throw a dagger with the same chance to hit and damage.

As for the Sleep spell, it's always been the low level nukes, but that's a topic for later.

So, do you prefer your magic users to roll for their Magic Missiles?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

And Now For Some New "Old School" of a Different Type :)

Twelve hour day at work, then dinner at the pub with the wife and kid - and still had some last minute stuff to move before the work begins tomorrow on the wall length closet behind me.

Yeah, the rest of the round one winners are going to have to wait until tomorrow. Shit, retirement can't come soon enough - I could blog full time ;)

Enjoy the musical interlude, an "Old School" rendition of GnR's Sweet Child of Mine:

Judges Guild has a City State of the Invincible Overlord Kickstarter to Update the Original

Judges Guild is going to rerelease City State of the Invincible Overlord via Kickstarter and +Rob Conley doing some of the maps?

Holy sh!t! Where do I sign up?

Seriously, this is damn cool and I already signed up, although only for the soft cover book and map - so I have the cash available to add new maps as stretch goals are hit - and they will be. Oh, they will be...

Alright, enough of me fanboi-ing.

Actually, not enough yet. This is dreamy ;)

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Top Seven Magic Item Entries for the OSR Superstar Competition - Enjoy!

What follows are the top 7 entries in the OSR Superstar Competition. Tomorrow I hope to list the other 34 entries (or so) that are also moving on to the second part of the competition.

+Gus L - Coward's Heart 

The betrayal, abandonment or mistreatment of one of the Green Circle, the Bone Charmers, is rarely wise for their torments are eternal and exquisitely cruel. Unlike most powers, necromancers need not lose the services of those who receive their greatest punishments, and often the utility of mortal servants is only enhanced by their deaths.

The Coward’s Heart is a filthy bundle of stained rags scribbled with illegible sepia sigils, reeking of camphor, but also an artifact of necromantic revenge. Fabricated from the preserved heart a craven, when a sorcerer stitches the Coward’s Heart into the chest of a corpse it will raise the body as a pusillanimous thrall.

Undead servants created by the Heart are timid creatures, suffering from the same terrors and lack of resolve that afflicted the Heart’s original owner. The very fear and timorousness that drove him during life prevents the donor’s soul from abandoning the heart for the peace of death, and this stubborn attachment to the self makes the Heart a desirable arcane object.

As long as the Heart is intact placing it into a new corpse will create a thrall, allowing the Heart’s owner to quickly recreate a destroyed servant. Unfortunately, thralls created by the Heart are so cowardly that they cannot undertake tasks that would be dangerous to a living person: opening strange doors, testing potential traps, leading others into a new place or engaging in combat. Perhaps because of the limited utility of Heart thralls, Coward’s Hearts are most frequently found in the possession of weak necromancer, or even for sale as a memento mori. On rare occasions a Heart Thrall remains active after the death of its master, and these piteous things skulk and scuttle at the edges of civilization, becoming increasingly afraid of discovery or enslavement.

Heart Thrall: HD 1, AC8[11] ATK 1 flailing (1d2), MV 12, SV 17, AL Chaos CL/XP A/5

Thrall may be destroyed easily by normal weapons, but there is a 5 in 6 chance that normal physical damage will not damage the Heart, allowing it to raise another. Fire and magical attacks will destroy the heart 4 in 6 times along with a Thrall, and if special efforts are made the Heart may be easily crushed or incinerated. Thralls are effectively completely loyal henchmen, capable of carrying a load, holding torches and standing watch while their master sleeps. They have normal undead immunities but may speak, though without a great deal of volition or intelligence, and are usually ordered not to as their frequent timid whining annoys most masters.

+Nathan Irving  - Codex of Dungeons 

The Codex of Dungeons is an unassuming tome, bound in leather with tarnished silver clasps. It feels lighter than it looks, and opens easily, almost willingly.

Each page of the Codex bears the name of a dungeon, a map, and a few jotted notes and sketches.  A few of the dungeons may be familiar to adventurers, but most are unknown. The maps are fairly uniform in size and scale: some display the entirety of a small dungeon; other maps are clearly subsections of larger complexes.

The notes are written in same hand throughout the Codex. Some indicate traps; others show likely guard positions, barriers, or entrances to passages not indicated on the map. A few indicate treasure. The sketches depict a variety of features: doorways, arches, columns, reliefs, and so forth.

The first time the Codex is opened with an intent to study it, it opens to the first page. The book may be closed and opened any number of times thereafter, but it always opens to the same page.  The pages flip stiffly and with great difficulty, and only one at a time. Once a page is flipped, it cannot be reopened again – the dungeon depicted is no longer accessible via the tome.

Tearing a page from the book transports the tearer and anyone around them to the entrance of the dungeon depicted on the page. Adventurers exploring the dungeon will find the map’s directions reasonably (~75%) accurate but incomplete: no more than one or two traps are usually indicated, for instance, even if the dungeon holds many more than that. Inhabitants, treasure, and other features are similar: a dungeon may hold goblins as its primary inhabitants as written, but they are allied with ogres instead of gnolls, and keep a cave bear instead of hyenas.

Burning the torn page returns everyone who was transported to the dungeon back to the point of origin (where the book was when the page was torn out). Corpses and the like typically return as well, unless they were consumed, cremated, or otherwise destroyed. The Codex can be opened and have multiple pages torn out (individually, not as a group), transporting characters to a variety of dungeons and back again (clever characters might use this to their advantage, or find themselves leaving the frying pan for the fire).

The dungeons become progressively more dangerous as the pages are turned, so characters that frequently flip pages will rapidly find themselves over their heads. (assume 1d4+2 dungeons per party level, beginning with dungeons suitable for 1st-level characters, then 2nd-level characters, and so forth). The total number of dungeons listed in the Codex of Dungeons is unknown, but may be beyond number. Many of the more dangerous and fantastic dungeons are rumored to be on different planes of existence altogether.

Finally, there is a danger to the book not revealed by any form of divination magic. Each time the Codex is opened, there is a 5% chance that it reveals the master map. This map can be unfolded to reveal a vast, sprawling dungeon labyrinth that seemingly includes every dungeon portrayed in the Codex.  One minute after the master map is unfolded, however, everyone in the area is transported to the master dungeon, and the Codex and any of its torn pages disappear from their possession.

Simon Hogwood -  Merkil's Marvelous Map

This normal-seeming piece of parchment, when unrolled, will be found to contain a map of the immediately surrounding area, up to 100 feet away (300 feet if used outdoors). All permanent physical features will be shown, but monsters, treasure, and other such items will not be noted.

When looking at the Map, characters automatically find all traps and secret doors and, when outdoors, have the chance of getting lost reduced by 20%.

The map refreshes itself every time it is unrolled, but requires one full combat round to be rolled back up for each time this is done.

The Map is usable by all classes.

+Keith Sloan  AKA Welleran - Bag of Six Demons

This curious bag appears as a small, black linen carpet bag with a simple handle.  Inside its extra-dimensional space dwell six “demons,” elemental powers that are useful in certain situations.  Each may be drawn from the bag and used once, at which point the bag will become useless.  For each type of elemental creature, there is a 15% chance that it is of a major order of power.  The demons are:
Wood – drawing this will cause an area of up to 60’ diameter to sprout entangling roots that will entrap enemies (save versus spells or be trapped for d4 turns).  If a major demon is drawn, it will cause a huge forest to appear (DM discretion as to size, but potentially miles across).
Fire – this will cause a Fireball-like effect of 8d6 power to strike the desired enemy; no matter the area struck, it will not affect the drawer of the demon or any allies within 20’ of him.  A major fire demon will cause a firestorm that will cause 4d6 damage for 3d6 rounds over a 100’ diameter area (save for ½ damage; once again, does not affect the drawer and allies within 20’ of him).
Air – this will cause a wind of over 75 miles per hour to blow in the direction the drawer wishes.  This is strong enough to blow any aerial creature away from the drawer and to prevent most ground movement against the wind.  Additional damage at DM discretion.  A major air demon will cause a powerful tornado that lasts for d6+4 minutes (damage is 16d6 to those caught in it).
Water – this causes a deluge to appear, enough water to fill a 10’ cubic space per round.  The water will flow away from the drawer and will not affect him.  Anything less than giant size will be washed away and possibly drowned (DM discretion).  A major demon will cause either a huge monsoonal storm or a tsunami.
Earth – this will cause a large crack to open at the feet of an enemy, who must save versus magic or fall into it and be lost in the bowels of the earth.  A major demon will result in a large earthquake, which may harm the drawer.
Metal – This will cause a bolt of lightning to blast forth from the caster – treat as a Lightning Bolt spell from a 12th level caster.  A major demon will cause a lightning storm for d6+4 turns over a large area (up to a mile in diameter).  Anyone in the affected area not under cover has a 50% chance of being struck by lightning every other round (6d6 damage, save for ½)

+Joe D - Liber Rubigo Mortem

This feared tome exudes a brown mist that constantly swirls above it.  Standing 20 inches tall, 30 inches across and one half inch thick, it is has two quarter inch sheets of rusted iron as back and front covers, bound by three rusted iron rings.  Within lies a single page.  Any who touch the book with their bare hands end up with rust stained hands.  The rust is foul smelling and of a nasty brown hue, and can never be washed off.  It will forever stain everything a person touches.  However, touching the book with your bare hands is the only way the book can be opened.  Many have paid the price, as the contents of that one page can be very powerful.  Within lie the instruction on how to make one of the most feared golems there is, the Rust Golem.  In addition, there are two spells, detailed below.  Only one who has actually held the book in his hands can cast any of these spells or create the golem, as the rusty covered hands seems to be a material component for all three.

Rusty Grip
Level 3
Area of effect:  1 cubic foot per caster level
Any piece of metal that the magic-user touches turns to rust, just as if it was touched by a Rust Monster. In addition, the mage can, once per day, mix that rust powder with water and drink it, curing himself of 1-8 hp of damage.

Rust Blast
Level 6
Area of effect:  90 degree fan, extending 20 feet in front of the mage
A rust cloud causes all within to save v. breath weapon or choke for 1-6 rounds, unable to take any other action even if they get out of the cloud until the choking fit is over.  In addition, another save is required v. spell, or else the victim loses one hp of constitution permanently.

Rust Golem:  
Cost:  200,000 gp
Time to create: 6 months uninterrupted work
HP 120
AC 0
HD 15
# ATT:  2 fists
DMG:  2-20 each blow, plus Rusty Grip effect upon landing a blow.  Note that this effects Iron Golems, who save at a -6 penalty.
Special Attack:  Rust Blast emanates from its mouth five times per day.  
Special Defense:  Metal objects hitting it turn to rust instantly and have no effect.  No save.  Magic items get a save, as per their wielder's save v spell.  

This foul smelling metal beast is the bane of all mages who build iron golems to protect their possessions.  It stands 12 feet tall, and a constant cloud of foul smelling rust dust emanates from it.  It has no known weaknesses and is immune to all non-magical weapons.  The only spells which seem to affect it are those which douse it fully with water, which slow it by 50 percent.  Otherwise it usually just has to be pummeled to death to kill it.

+Dwayne Gillingham - Torvit’s Amulet of Historic Viewing (this one needs the applicable graphics)

The mage Torvit created an amulet to aide him with his passion for history. The amulet has two ivory rings carved with runes used to set the date that is desired to be viewed. The outer ring is lined up with the pointer clasp that connects the amulet to the necklace and the inner ring is lined up with the gold pointer that the diamond is set into. The inner ring is divided into 16 sections with the 3 months of each season grouped together and the solstice day following each season. 

Depending where on the rune block the two pointers are resting is what date in the month and decade the users will be viewing. With practice the user can dial in a specific day in a month up to 160 years back in time. 

The amulet is activated by pressing in the diamond after setting the two rings to the desired date. After activating the user will see the world in ghostly images for intelligence feet from where they are standing. The images will be of what occurred in that area at the time selected and play forward in normal time. If the user moves so does his perspective of the ghostly world. Use of the amulet in intoxicating for every hour viewed a save vs spell (-1/hr viewed) must be made to turn off the device. It is rumored that Torvit himself was lost to over use of the device dying of dehydration. 

The amulet has many practical applications, solving murders, spying on meetings that have already occurred and making sure your wife is not cheating on you. *This device allows players to gather historical information on the Game Masters campaign world, giving the game master a way to showcase the hours of work he has put into his campaign.

Fred Bednarski  - Umarlak (Mourning Cap) -Amanita Spectra Mortis

Umarlak, known as the Mourning Cap by common folk, or Amanita Spectra Mortis by magisters, is a magic infused mushroom, that grows on bodies of those, who died recently. It bears a pale purple and gray cap, often with a pattern that resembles wailing faces.

It is used mostly by witches and druids, seconded by necromancers and even magi. Small colonies of it can be found nearby their lairs, as once harvested, the mushroom dries (turns useless) in D6 days. But even common folk where known to posses it, as a token showing their grieving.

Umarlak has magical qualities, and is often used as a magic ingridient, but a fresh and raw Grieving Cap can be used to see into a dead person's mind, before their demise, or even to disguise oneself as an undead.

Undead Disguise: When eaten (used as a potion), Umarlak makes the person look and smell like an freshly risen zombie. This makes undead creatures see the person as one of their own and not turn hostile. Other creatures will treat the person like undead (akin to zombie).
The transformation process is almost instantaneous and somehow painful - failed saving throw vs Poison gives penalty of -1 to all the rolls for the duration of the effect. The transformation lasts for 3d6 minutes, but more mushrooms can be eaten at the same time to extend that time. Each mushroom requires it's own saving throw and each failure gives a cumulative -1 to rolls for the duration.

Dead Mind Trance: When burned, Umarlak produces a high volume of thick gray and purple smoke. This smoke will induce a trance in anyone who inhales it long enough (1 turn per hit die). You can try to resist going into trance by rolling saving throw vs Magic. The trance lasts d6 turns. Those affected, will just stare into nothingness, their pupils turned white. They will not respond to any stimuli, even harmful ones.

Once in the trance, anyone who inhaled the smoke from the same mushroom will find themselves transported together to a “memory world”. This world will consist of d6 hours before the death of a person's on whose body this Umarlak has grown on (host). The world will seem very much real, albeit dream-like. You can explore it, talk to its inhabitants and even die (dying in the memory world requires saving vs. Magic or dying in real world). This world is somehow limited by the memories of the place that the Umarlak's host had: doors can lead to nothingness, people can have only know only a sentence or two, you can even stumble upon invisible walls. The trance always ends at the exact time of host's death, and those in trance will wake up in the real world, where only moments have passed. They will remember everything (keeping the experience points gained while in trance) and even show wounds suffered while in the memory world.

Cultivating Umarlaks: Once harvested, Umarlak dries and looses it's qualities in d6 days (it can still be sold as a magic ingredient to a right buyer). The most common way of keeping once harvested Umarlak's qualities is to plant it on a new host to grow a new one.

One should cut the mushroom into small pieces and turn it into a paste (usually mixed with water and ash) using mortal and pestle. This paste should be applied to a recently dead body of a intelligent creature and left in a dark and damp place overnight. The following morning a full grown mushroom will appear somewhere on the host's body, pulsating slightly as it drains the body's fluids. Leaving it on can produce more mushrooms over the course of weeks. Those mushrooms will now host the memories of this creature.

And the Winners of the First Round of the OSR Superstar Competition Are... (Part I of II)

So, an amazing thing happens when you ask 3 judges to prepare their personal "Best 16 Lists" out of over 330 entries - you get 3 lists that are almost each unique.

Of those 3 lists, only 7 entries made it on to 2 lists, and none made it to all 3 lists.

Soooo... those 7 will each receive $10 RPGNow Gift Certificates and one randomly chosen by +Tim Shorts last night gets the Crypts & Things PDF bundle curtesy of +Newt Newport and D101 games.

Who are those 7 you may ask and what were their entries?

+Gus L for Coward's Heart

Nathan Irving for Codex of Dungeons

Simon Hogwood for Meril's Marvelous Map

Welleron for Bag of Six Demons (Welleran will be receiving the Crypts & Things PDF Bundle)

+Joe D for Liber Rubigo Mortem

Dwayne Gillingham for Torvit's Amulet of Historic Viewing

Fred Bednarski for - Umarlak

Congrats to all of the above! I'll be contacting you in the next day or two to find out where to send your prizes.

As for the other entries? I discussed with Tim, and the idea we discussed was advancing everyone that made the lists. Which should be 34 entries in addition to the seven above (although I need to check to see if anyone made the list with more that one entry) moving on to round two.

13 of those 34 entries will get $5 RPGNow Gift certificates, to be determined randomly, but all 34 plus 7 will advance to the next round.

I'll work on that list of 34 for tomorrow night and will look to post the 7 entries that topped the list tonight.

Then round 2 will kick off later this and 41 fine folk will need to design some monsters ;)

Scarlet Heroes Art Has Been Released to the Public Domain - Crawford Does it Again!

Yep, +Kevin Crawford has done it yet again. This time he's released all of the art from the Scarlet Heroes rulebook into the public domain. You can use it on your blogs, in your projects and it's free.
Kevin previously did this with his first Kickstarter, Spear of the Dawn (art pack here and additional art here).

This time he even got +Dyson Logos to join in. So damn cool!

Below are some samples (and much more in the free art pack)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

And the Winners... will have to wait 'till tomorrow...

I have the lists from the three judges of the OSR Superstar Competition in hand and after quickly looking them over it leads me to believe one thing - with ties I suspect we'll have over the 16 first round winners allotted for. Which is kinda cool, and thankfully the patrons of this blog used The Tavern's affiliate links during the RPGNow GM Sale, so the credit is there waiting to be used.

If all goes well, it should be sorted out by tomorrow night - Monday. If it doesn't go well (meaning my contractor who is building a closet in this very room and likes to work late runs even later tomorrow) it may not get sorted until Tuesday.

Still, right around the corner.

Now, back to clearing out the rest of this room so it's ready for tomorrow. Yesterday was Bowflex disassemble time, which would have been upsetting, but as all it had done for the last year was act as a clothes rack and a shelf for books, the closet is probably the more practical option...

Scarlet Heroes QuickStart is Released for Free - Time to Get Your Significant Other Corrupted!

I'm a big fan of +Kevin Crawford 's Scarlet Heroes. It's the RPG ruleset I'm going to use to corrupt my wife and turn her into a gamer. Well, maybe not turn her into a gamer, but allow for me to introduce her to RPG play via some one on one gaming.

Kevin has just released the Scarlet Heroes QuickStart - an excellent opportunity to try out the Scarlet Heroes ruleset and see if it works for you and yours. Best part - after considering the fact that it allows you to run the classic modules with the "hack" built into the system - is that Kevin released the Scarlet Heroes QuickStart rules for free.

Grab them. Read them. Run them.

I'm going to try and run a session for my wife two weekends hence. I'll be sure to post a play report (waiting on the printed cop as my wife prefers print over PDF).

From the blurb:

Scarlet Heroes is an old-school tabletop role-playing game designed to provide classic sword and sorcery gaming for one player and one gamemaster. Scarlet Heroes is built to support one-on-one play, with no need for a full-fledged party of adventurers to provide an evening's entertainment. Whether for a spouse, kid, curious friend, or just as an alternative to boardgames for those nights when only one or two friends can make it to the gaming session, Scarlet Heroes gives you the tools for good old-fashioned skull-cracking adventure.

And now with the Scarlet Heroes Quickstart you can have a taste of those possibilities, all wrapped up in a crisp 32-page digest-sized booklet. Have a friend interested in the game? Hand them the DRM-free PDF, or pass them a copy of the eminently affordable print booklet. It's everything they'll need to brew up a hero ready to take on classic modules and new home-brewed adventures that might otherwise require a full party of novice adventurers.

The Scarlet Heroes Quickstart has everything you need to get going with an evening's adventure.

A thumbnail sketch of the Red Tide Campaign Setting used in the full Scarlet Heroes core rulebook.
Character creation rules for fashioning first-level solo heroes.

Stand-alone game systems to allow for lone adventurers, including mechanics compatible with most old-school modules and classic adventures.

Monstrous foes suitable for the challenging of even these fearsome warriors.
Treasures fit for whetting the avarice of the daring.

Adventure creation guidelines for building quick, easy dungeon crawls- plus a two-page mini-adventure for instant play!

So seize this new weapon for your armory of game mastering artifice. The full rules await for those who find worth in its pages, with a legion of new tools, tags, and techniques for delivering the kind of sword & sorcery adventure you want!

Scaling Your Sandbox

When I was running "The Caves of Ortok" last night, my players did what good players should do - they went off the script. They were so damn sure there was something beneath the tentacle headed statue there was no way in hell they were going to leave it standing.

As written, it was just a statue. Nothing special except the design of its head. When my players saw it, the "knew" it was special. In truth, if +Jason Paul McCartan wasn't lurking and watching the players progress (or whatever it is my group does that resembles progress) I probably would have put something under the statues. Minor treasure, a map, stairs - something. As it were, I wanted to keep true, as much as was possible, to the adventure design. To some extent, it was a playtest of sorts.

Still, my instinct is to reward my players when they think out of the box, as such rewards not only them, but myself and the campaign as a whole.

As +Jason Paul McCartan pointed out afterwards in regards to Sandboxes, and I agree, it is as much about freedom of choice for the players as it is them putting their own spin on the direction of the campaign. In truth, why shouldn't there have stairs beneath the statue they tumbles, long hidden and leading into dark depths, perhaps flooded and requiring the party to return at a later time, properly prepared for such an expedition?

Because it was written as such?

Sandboxes aren't so much written as created by the players and the events they put into motion. Sandboxes form in reaction to the actions of the players, not in spite of them.

A thriving sandbox is the result of ones players.

I've had some difficulty in seeing a sandbox as anything but a hex crawl, and now I see the sand is perpetually around the players so long as you allow it to be. And they allow it to be. A proper sandbox requires the DM to trust the players' ingenuity and also requires the players to trust the DM's judgement and off the cuff rulings.

It isn't so much the scale as the amount of trust.

Wherein the Party Bungie Jumps Off of a Statue's Head

So, last night the party entered +Jason Paul McCartan 's The Caves of Ortuk. Actually, it took them a most of the session to actually enter the caves, as they were distracted by a statue (humanoid with a tentacled head) on a small rocky island off shore.

Who did they send out to the island to investigate? The monk, followed by the magic-user and the thief. The ranger and the paladin found themselves a location by the caves (at the shore) to cover them with missiles.

Which was kinda good, as the giant crab attacked the two in armor, nearly taking out the paladin. There is something said about "splitting up the party"...

Anyhow, after the giant crab was dispatched by an amazing critical backstab by the halfling thief leaping out of the water (and there was some lamenting about the lack of butter) the two reaming on the island with the stone statue decided they needed to remove it from it's perch.

Being too large and heavy to push over, it was decided to tie a rope to the statue's neck and send the monk leaping from it's head and over the side of the island (10 feet for the statues, about 30 feet for the rocky outcropping off the island.

The first try yanked the head of the statues right off as the monk nimbly grabbed on the rocky of the cliff as he watched the head sail past him by mere feet.

Notice, I did say first try.

This was followed up by tying the rope around the shoulders and making the same attempt yet again. Surprising enough, it succeeded in knocking down the statues (nearly taking out the mage) and the monk again was successful in preventing himself from taking a tumble into the waters below.

The mage was disappointed to find out that the weathered statue was carved from the island's stone. There was no hidden passageway or long lost cache of loot to be found, but there was fun for all.

It was only afterwards that they found the concealed underwater entrance to the caves in question.

See, I knew my group would stretch this out to at least two sessions ;)
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