Friday, August 23, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Surprise

Today's topic is Surprise.

What is the most surprising thing you ever witnessed in a game?  I have to say it was a game my older son ran for my youngest son and the sheep.


It was so surprising because of how crazy it all was and how much noise we heard coming from the basement.

So it goes like this.  The party was supposed to get to the next town to get to a job.  The job was what the adventure was supposed to be about. Simple right?  So they all decide to take a short cut through a field and stay off the main road.  They ask what is in the field.  My oldest, not having planned this bit out (because why should he) rolled and said "Sheep".

The players freaked out.  They all wanted to have sheep as pets or animal companions.  So they spent a long time chasing sheep, trying to charm them or casting any spells they could think of.  By this time some of the players got tired of chasing sheep so they started killing them. Next thing the players they started try and raise the sheep from the dead, others wanted to bring them back as zombies.  Then the characters started attacking each other, the zombie sheep started to attack the characters.  By the end of the night, some four hours later, the sheep were all dead, the countryside was on fire, and at least three characters (out of six) were dead.

There was so much yelling and laughing and shouting.  We were laughing our asses off upstairs.

Every kid downstairs had to tell us their version of the story.

I know I am not doing the story any justice here. But it was so damn funny to hear them tell it.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Adventures in Hyperborea

Hat tip to Jason Vey for sharing these with me.

So if I know ANYTHING at all about Conan, likely it came from Jason Vey. In addition to being a top rate game designer, he is a Master's level scholar on Robert E. Howard.  So when he shares something related to Conan, or Howard or realted topics, I pay attention.

This week he shared this with me, Adventures of the Hyborian Age. This is an older site with adventures for the Mongoose d20 Conan game.  Jason is using this material for his OD&D-based Conan game which sounds fantastic.

He shared with me something he knew I would love. A Conan-flavored conversion of one of my favorite adventures of all time, S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

The new adventure has a more Hyborian feel to it and draws heavily from Conan lore, in particular, Red Nails.

HS4 The Lost Caverns of Acheron

The adventure is, at it's heart, the same as S4.  Save now it has been reskinned for the Hyborian Age and all the background has been changed.

Now maybe I have been reading a lot of Eric Fabiaschi of late (or always really) but this sounds like a PERFECT adventure for  Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea!

Eric has had a LOT to say about AS&SH (most of his blog) and S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.  In fact he pulls in a lot of Jason Vey's own game, Amazing Adventures into the conversations too.

In fact, I am very curious to hear what Eric has to say about this adventure. (EDITED: I talked to Eric before this post went up. He has played it using AS&SH. He also pointed out my next point.)

Now AS&SH only takes us to level 12.  This adventure is right up against that level limit and might even be a bit more than a party can deal with. I would alter this by having a larger party to be honest or carefully scaling the encounters.

Outside of the Hyborian skin the biggest change is the Witch-Queen Xaltana.  She essentially combines the characters of Iggwilv and Drelzna into one.

So instead of this:


We get this:


It actually works out quite well. In fact, Xaltana is much more interesting than Drelzna ever was. (Sorry D!)

Appropriately the adventure takes on a more Clark Ashton Smith feel to it.  This plays so well into the sequel WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun. Which could in like fashion be reskinned as The Forgotten Temple of Thasaidon. Hmm. Maybe that is something to try; borrowing heavily from The Tomb-Spawn.

She would make a great Witch Queen!  More on that later.


#RPGaDAY2019: Lost

Today's topic is Lost.

One of my favorite things in RPGs is visiting or exploring lost lands.

I am currently re-reading Tolkien's The Silmarillion.  I didn't enjoy it as a kid, but when I re-read as an adult a few tears back I loved it.  Today I am getting a lot more out of it still.

One thing that bugged me back then that I adore now are these maps.

As a kid I was very familiar with this map:


I had this on my wall for years until I went to college.

But this map in the Silmarillion bugged me.


Obviously, these maps are related.  Reading the stories I knew these were the same worlds or at least related lands.

It wasn't till I noticed the only commonality between the two maps, on the far right of the Middle Earth map and the far left of the Beleriand map you can see the Ered Luin, the Blue Mountains.

It works better if you place the maps like this and sink the lands under water that Tolkien mentions.


Now, this map fills me with joy.  Look at all those lost lands!  If I ever do a Middle-Earth game there will be a way to visit these lands.

Even if I never do I want to know more about it.  What happened to these lands when the waters claimed them? Were there still people there?  Not just lost Gondolin, all the places.

It reminds me of Doggerland.  A lot more real and closer to home, but no less lost.


Think about it 8,000 BCE, lands to the east of England.  Walking from (what would be) London to (what would be) Copenhagen.

This is a Mesolithic (Middle to Late) period in human history.  We know so little about this time and the people that lived here.  Not just a lost land, a lost people, a lost time.

Sure we have some wonderful archeological finds from this time, but who were the people? What did they do? What sort of adventures would they have had?

Again, I might never get the chance to do anything with it, but I do love looking at these maps.

Back in the early days of AD&D 1st ed I took an immediate liking to the lost lands of the Suel Empire of the Greyhawk setting.

Like Middle Earth, I want to run a game set during the Invoked Devastation / Rain of Colorless Fire.  Something along the lines of the Doctor Who episode "The Time Monster" where the PCs get sent back in time to witness the destruction. I would have watched it around the same time I was playing AD&D 1.

I love lost lands, one day I might even get to visit them!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

In a time of Ancient Gods...

There were the ones that beseeched these gods for power and it was granted!

These are the witches of the Classical Traditions and their closely allied sisters the Amazon Tradition.



Coming soon for the BLUEHOLME Journeymanne and Prentice Rules.


Sumer. Egypt. Greece. Rome.
These are the foundations of civilization. Where mythology, religion and magic collide in a fertile land.
It is a time of Gods and Witches!

This book introduces the Classical Witch Tradition. Witches from the ancient time of myths and legends.
  •         The witch class and four new combination classes
  •         Guidelines for playing any species of witch
  •         Six witch covens of the Classical Tradition
  •         120 Spells and Rituals for witch characters
  •         24 Monsters to challenge or be allies
  •         29 magic items and six artifacts
  •         Three Non-player character witches from pages of mythology

Also fully compatible with Daughters of Darkness: Lilith and the Mara Tradition.



#RPGaDAY2019: Vast

Today's topic is Vast.

Vast. Seriously it is like it is too large of a word to tackle all at once.


To any PC in any sort of RPG the setting should feel vast.  For D&D it is can be the world or the known planes.  In sci-fi games, this can be the galaxy or even the universe.

But I don't write vast.  I write local.

Yes, there is a whole world out there, but how much of it are the PCs going to see? What do they really know about it?  Sure, there were people in the 13th century that had a pretty good idea what the world looked like, but did the peasants?

Let's look at Star Trek and by extension my BlackStar game. Because really, what is more vast than space?


That is a map of the Known Space of the Star Trek universe roughly at the end of the 24th Century.  My BlackStar game is likely to be set 50 years prior to this.
This is a LOT of territory.  The Sol system is where the larger yellow line is.  Click to see larger.

This is roughly 1,500 Light Years wide, of the Milky Way that is 105,000 Light Years wide, about 1%.

That's a lot of untold stories. 

I wish I had more time to do more!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Noble

Today's topic is Noble.

I have to admit. I don't really do a lot with nobles or nobility in my games. Unless of course, they are a plot device.  Either a backdrop ("The King has ordered...") or the big bad ("Count Dracula, I presume.").



Honestly, I really should do more.

Recently I received my PDF of Adventures Great and Glorious from Joseph Bloch's Kickstarter.  I have not read it all in detail but so far I like it.  Between it and some of the rules found in Adventurer Conqueror King, there is a lot to help me with a good system of kingdom creation and management.   Who knows, maybe it will give me some ideas for my upcoming "War of the Witch Queens" game.

The gold standard of this sort of game is naturally Pendragon.  A game I adore but never got to play much.  Another one that comes to mind is Birthright.

Birthright is an odd one for me.  Odd in the sense that I know nearly next to nothing about it.  It came out during TSR's dying days. In the Second Ed era I was firmly entrenched in Ravenloft,  but by 1997 I was giving up on D&D.  I had started to move on to other games already (this was the height of my Mage years) and I was generally very disappointed in D&D by then. I had even sold off large sections of my collection to where I was down to just a few dozen books.

At a Gen Con some years ago I got to play in a Birthright game.  It was fun, I played a Goblin archer (fighter), but in this game, goblins were a lot smarter. So more like an angry halfling.

I don't own any Birthright books, which is a crime really.  So I am thinking of picking up the core set.   From my understanding, it would convert well to 5e.

What are your favorite games or supplements for dealing with PCs becoming nobles and ruling the lands?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Goblin Men

“We must not look at goblin men, 
We must not buy their fruits: 
Who knows upon what soil they fed 
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
- Christina Rossetti, 1862

There are two artistic movements that have fueled my imagination for my games more than anything else I can think of; Tolkien and the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
They converge at Goblin Men.

In Rossetti's poem, the Goblin Men are found in the Goblin Market. Honestly, if this poem doesn't fill you with ideas for your games I don't know what will.  In Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Goblin Men are essentially half-orcs. Both types are depicted as evil, or at the very least, desiring mischief to humankind.

The fact we don't have Goblin Men in D&D is a crime.

Since my theme this year is "Back to Basic", here are Goblin Men for my two current favorite Basic-era Games, Blueholme and Old-School Essentials.

In my worlds, goblins are closer to fey-creatures than they are to orcs.  Mostly evil, or at least mischievous creatures.  I might adopt some of what Pathfinder 2 is doing with them as well to make them more of playable race.    Goblin Men are born to human women that wander too close to lands where goblins dwell.  Not through sexual congress, but an intermixing of essences of the magics that surround goblins.  Often the goblin child is taken in the night by goblins and a stillborn changeling is left behind; opposite of what other faeries will do, taking a human child to leave behind a living changeling.

Goblin Men
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: 7 (leather armor)
HD: 1d8
Move: 25
Attacks: 1 weapon Damage: 1d6+2
Alignment: 3N : 1CE
Treasure: 12 (1)
XP: 10

Goblin Men
(Old-School Essentials)
Ugly humanoids with elongated lower tusks and glowing, orange, but intelligent eyes. Dwell in dark forsaken places.
AC 7 [12], HD 1 (5hp), Att 1 × weapon (1d6+2 or by weapon), THAC0 19 [0], MV 60’ (20’), SV D14 W14 P15 B16 S17 (NH), ML 8, AL Chaotic, XP 10, NA 1d4 (2d10), TT R (C)
Infravision: 60’.
Hoard: Only have treasure type C when encountered in the wilderness or in their lair.


Goblin-men appear as larger, fiercer versions of a goblin with an uncanny glint of human intelligence in their eyes,   Some Goblin-men are so akin to humans as to pass for an ugly human (15%).  Most are neutral in temperament with only a few being truly evil.  All though are mischievous creatures not above taking advantage of others when the opportunity presents itself.

Unlike goblins, goblin-men can withstand daylight and take no penalty for fighting in conditions of bright light.

Goblin-Men make a good substitute for the half-orc and provide an air of mystery to the creature.  Who was its mother? Did she stray too close to the Goblin Markets? Eat their fruits?



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...