Showing posts with label adventures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label adventures. Show all posts

Monday, July 10, 2017

Another Library Sale Haul

Working on a few things this week but I want wanted to share a recent local library sale haul I found.

12 Endless Quest/Choose Your Own Adventure books for a Quarter each.





I remember reading "Dungeon of Dread" and "Circus of Fear" back when they were new.

I also found a copy of "Quag Keep" for 25 cents.
Not too bad for just over 3 bucks.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Classic Modules Today: Death's Ride

I have been a fan of the "Classic Modules Today" group for a bit now.
The premise is to use the leeway of the DMSGuild to produce 5e conversions of classic TSR modules.
Well you know I am all about that!  So I have been buying as many as I can for the various campaigns I have been running. They are great. All the basic information I need in one place.

Could I have done these on my own? Sure.  But for the price of my triple grande latte, I can grab 2-3 of these pdfs and be good to go.

Since I also believe in giving back I made my own for an adventure I have coming up.

Here is the Classic Modules today conversion of one of my favorites, CM2 Death's Ride.


You can get the conversion here on the DMSGuild and the original module too.
You will need the original, these are conversion notes, not the full product.



You can find these and all the Classic Modules Today conversions (and the original adventures) at the DMSguild.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Into the Nentir Vale (was BECMI/4e Conversion)

Yesterday's post on my BECMI/4e conversions really took off and it seems there is a ton of interest in it.  So I am going to explore the idea further.
Now I have been conversions since, well since forever really. Converting fluff, converting plots. That is easy. Can do it on the fly.  Converting the monsters is also no great task, but it does require some care.  Since I am already doing the work of 4e to BECMI I might as well through 5e into this too.
Why not.

Crazy Delicious
When I convert say between 5e and TSR D&D (1st, 2nd, Basic) I just swap out the monsters. It works nice.  When I add 3e into the mix then I want to look over the monster for any feats or powers it might have and make sure those get preserved somehow.  4e is a bit trickier.

4e, more so than either 3e or 5e, has a strict XP budget. You are expected to level up at certain points in the game.  This might not be true of EVERY 4e game, but it is of HPE adventures.
The other factor working against me is the 30 levels of advancement in 4e vs. the 20 in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.  BECMI helps me out here with a nice range of 36 levels.
I want characters to progress through these adventures AND still stay within their target levels.

So I am building a spreadsheet (I am a numbers guy afterall) to help me calculate the XPs given per adventure.  This will help me find the appropriate monster replacement for each game, help me balance the XP so the levels come out right and give me the exercise of going through each adventure and understanding each encounter.



Open in new tab/window.

I am opening up my spreadsheet so everyone can have a look and comment.  I am not opening it up to contributors yet since I also want the exercise of going through every monster in every adventure.
I added the data from yesterday's conversion and added a 5e column as well.  The 5e data has the advantage of using a VLOOKUP to allow me just to put in a CR and it spits out the XP.  I could do this with the 4e and BECMI ones as well, just have not done it yet.  I could also easily add Swords & Wizardry to the mix if people are interested.

If you scroll to the right (Col "O" to "R") you will see I have summed up the XP per adventure and then figured out how much per character based on the default (4e) party of 5 or a party of 6.  My feeling is that to make the levels work out with 5e I am going to have to assume that 6 characters are going through.  This should also make the combats faster.  I have not figured out what the optimal number of characters is for BECMI yet.

I will also have to convert the treasure.  There are some wildly different assumptions on what treasure needs to be in different versions of the game.  You get lots in 4e, not a lot in 5e, and in BECMI (or at least Basic) Treasure also gives you XP.

THEN I need to figure out what this all means for my Come Endless Darkness game.  If I run this set of adventures the party goes up against Orcus. In CED I also wanted them to fight Orcus.  Have to figure it out later I guess.

Other posts related to this:


Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

RPGS and the Sunk Costs

Often you will hear people exclaim that they don't need to buy any more/new RPGs because they have more than they will ever play in their lifetime OR they have found the only one they ever need.
I can certainly appreciate both of these claims.  I DO have more than I'll ever play AND I have the game (or really 3 games) I could play forever and never need a new one.

Yet.  I still buy games.

I am fortunate really. I can make my hobby pay for itself. I can buy the books I want, when I want.
Thankfully my needs are also small and specific, so I also tend to write the material I want more out need of the material than out of a cost saving feature.
Sometimes though I buy something and I never use it, or, I never use as I wanted to use it.

Take for example D&D 4e.


I have a lot of 4e books.  Many I bought REALLY cheap, but some I got new. In any case it represents a sunk cost for me. Even if I unload them all at my FLGS auction, I am not likely to make anything at all back from it.

I'd love to do something with it someday, but am I playing into a Sunk Cost Fallacy?
That is I'll never make my money (time, resources) back by put more money/time/resources int it.

I would love to the run the HPE adventures that are centered around Orcus and the Raven Queen.  I have read through them many times and started them and think it would be fun.

There are three scenarios I am considering.

1. Run them under 5e.  This one is more of a thought experiment for me really.  I'd try to run it as a 4e/5e hybrid to scale 4e's 30 levels down too 5e's 20.   I like this idea since it would make for an interesting experiment and test my knowledge on both systems.  Converting 4e to 5e is easier than say converting 4e to something else.

2. Convert 4e to Something else.  I am honestly thinking of doing this under BECMI. Using the honest to goodness Red Boxes and everything.  This idea appeals to me on a lot of levels. BECMI's 1-36 levels map nicely onto 4e's 1-30.  Both end in characters being immortals.  Naturally this is the hardest to do and appeals to me the most, though I have done it before.  The level differences and system differences would allow me to start H1 Keep on the Shadowfell at BECMI level 4 or 5 and give me 1-3 for other adventures.  Maybe even the Aleena adventure in the Red Box and the Witchlight Fens adventure in the...Red Box.


The more I think about this the more I like it really.   I would need to decided on Class and Race (like AD&D) or Race as Class (as BECMI).  In truth it would not be difficult.  The 4e races all have a class they seem to prefer.  Dragonborn would all be Paladins, Tieflings all are Warlocks, Half-Orcs are all Barbarians and so on.  Plus there is a lot I still like about BECMI that I want to do.
This is something I think needs delving into further.

3. Run the adventures under 4e.  The simplest solution, naturally, has no appeal to me.

Am I sinking more resources into a fruitless endeavor?  Should I cut my losses and run?

No idea yet.  But I think I can invest a *little* more resources with out (too much) loss.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Tales from the Yawning Portal

Grabbed the Tales from the Yawning Portal today.


It's a lot of fun. A lot of great adventures updated for 5e.

It has another version of the Tomb of Horrors.  Noticed that there wasn't the slightest complaint like there was when the 4e version came out.

I am looking forward to running G3 here soon using these conversions vs. my own.
There are also a few Forgotten Realms adventures I am looking forward to trying out.

I will be at Gary Con tomorrow.
Look for me, I'll be the middle-aged gamer with glasses and a goatee.
Er...wait. I'll also be wearing a Games Plus 35th Anniversary shirt.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

New Adventure, Character and Resources

Kinda buried at work this week.
So I'll share some resources and new adventure I am reading.

First up is the adventure.
The Witch of Monte Rosa is from Bill Barsh over at Pacesetter Games.
For 12 bucks you get an old-school like adventure and PDF.  This adventure is for low-level characters using OSRIC or your favorite OSR rule-set.
It is a sanbox adventure designed to be dropped into any campaign and is adaptable to higher levels.  The main focus though is the titular witch and the damage she is causing to nearby life.
There are some new monsters and some new magic items that look like a lot of fun.
The main antagonist is Helena, a "Cauldron Witch".
It would not take much at all to retune this to work with my Witch class.  "Cauldron Witch" becomes a tradition with some alchemy based powers.  Instead of Magic-User spells, give her witch spells.

Here is my take on her.

Helena
9th level Witch, Cauldron Tradition
Chaotic Evil

Strength: 15
Dexterity: 10
Constitution: 13
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 10
Charisma: 17

Saves
Death Ray or Poison:  11
Magic wand or devices: 12
Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone: 11
Dragon Breath: 14
Rods, Staffs, and Spells: 13

Hit Points: 50
AC: 7 (Leather Armor)
To hit AC 0: 16
Weapon: Staff (1d6+2)

Occult Powers
Familiar:  Cauldron*  (her connection to her cauldron is explained in the adventure)
Lesser: Immune to the Affects of Undead

Spells
Cantrips (6): Black Flame, Ghost Sound, Inflict Minor Wounds, Quick Sleeping, Spark, Summon Vermin
First (3+2): Bewitch, Black Fire, Burning Hands, Cause Fear, Charm Person
Second (3+2): Agony, Biting Blade, Blast Shield, Hold Person, Spell Missile
Third (2+2): Bestow Curse, Danse Macabre, Ghost Ward, Scry
Fourth (2+1):  Arcane Eye, Elemental Armor, Spiritual Dagger
Fifth (1): Death Curse

Certainly a worthy opponent!

What sold me on this adventure was that she was described as a "Witch Queen, long forgotten."
Kinda makes it perfect for my War of the Witch Queens adventures. So perfect in fact I am going to use this as the introduction to the series.


Going to be a blast really!

Here are free resources on witches and witchcraft.



Though if you are like me these are all very familiar sites.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Blue Rose and the Palace of the Silver Princess

One of the biggest issues I have with Blue Rose is a lack of published adventures. I think if others could have seen the types of games that could have been played it might have done a little better.
One of Blue Rose's strengths though is it's True20 system. It means and adapting other game's adventures is fairly easy to do.

On such adventure that would be good to convert is the classic TSR Basic D&D Adventure Module B3 Palace of the Silver Princess.

I do want to use the "Green" cover and not the "Orange" one since the first is more about the rescue of the Princess and discovering what happened to everyone.

Some changes though will need to be made to make it more "Blue Rosey".  Here are my suggestions.
Change:
  • Princess Argenta to Queen Jaellin, early in her rule
  • Ellis the Strong to Captain John Cowan (and new character that I want to set up as the Queen's future lover/chosen/life-bond mate)
  • White Drakes can be kept, but change them a bit to be more like the "Skybolts" of Valdemar.
  • The Protectors (which were annoying) should be changed to a manifestation of the Golden Hart (because this IS a situation where the Hart is needed). 
  • Arik is a trapped Shadowfiend or even a lesser Exarch of Shadow. Not sure if he will be needed, though.
  • The Eye of Arik remains largely the same.  But instead of being found by dwarves it was found by Night People.  More on that.
  • Catharandamus is a Shadow aligned Adept.  Alha is a human Warrior werewolf.  They are both members of the Cult of the Crimson Eye (World of Aldea,p. 21).  They are in their late 20s but fully devoted to Shadow and the Lich King Jarek.
The plot is largely the same with some differences in the setup.

This takes place early in the Queen's rule, say only five years in instead of the ten from the core rules.  Why? I want a younger Queen that is still likely to be tested by her enemies.
Queen Jaelin avoids parties, official or otherwise.  But not tonight. Tonight is the Winter Solistice and the night of the great Yule Ball.  Captain John Cowan is the newly appointed Captain of the Sovereign's guard.  He had been a member of the White Drakes, a mercenary band that fought evil far to the north in the Ice Binder Mountains. He is charismatic, young and has the eye of many of the court's ladies and not to few a number of the gentlemen.  Captain Cowan only has eyes for the Queen.  She thinks he is loud, a braggart, way too promiscuous for her liking, and she is absolutely in love with him.  But to keep him "in his place" he has been named "The Lord of Misrule" over tonight's ball and he dressed in a gaudy outfit similar to that of a court jester.  The queen is dressed like a scullery maid as per the custom and she waits on her guests.  On the throne sits Aggie, a ten-yer old scullery maid. She was chosen, as all Sovereign's are by the Golden Hart.  Only this "Golden Hart" was Captain Cowan dressed in a ridiculous costume with "antlers" of an old tree branch. If the Queen was trying to take the Captain down a peg by making him act the fool, she has lost that gambit. She looks scared but happy as all the nobles bow to pay her homage.  Everyone is happy and making rather merry on this night of Yule.

That is except for you lot.

Aggie may have had the luck of Selene, but you all are the newest members of the Sovereign’s Finest and that means guard duty.  Still the spiced wine is warm and one of the lesser nobles acting as a servant in the Inversion Festival brings you a cup each hour and is not unattractive.  Mostly your job all night has been to make sure guests that have partaken in too much of Athne's favor are seen safely to rooms.  Other guests that have taken, or about to partake, in the favors of Leonoth or Hiathas are also quietly and quickly ushered to rooms of their own.
After ushering one particularly amorous couple off with a many "yes, Season's greetings" and "have a blessed Yule", your small group sees the Golden Hart.  Not the Captain in his fools disguise, but the genuine Golden Hart. And it is rushing towards you at a terrible speed.

The last thing you hear before the screams and terrible explosion is the psychic voice of the Hart ordering you to get down.
That's the start.  The PCs (the poor guards) are given a psychic replay of the events just before.  A group of Night People approach the "Queen" (really Aggie, but they don't know about Inversion Festivals) and present her a gift; a huge ruby.  The girl goes to pick up and at that point Queen Jaelin knows what the ruby actually is. She yells for Aggie to not to touch it.  Captain Cowan rushes the throne, the nobles scream and then the castle explodes with red light.

The Hart ran to the PCs because they were the closest AND since the Hart sees into the future knew they were the ones that could make everything right.  You begin outside of the Castle (where you were thrown) and have to work your way back in.

The cultists Catharandamus and Alha were hiding below and are now using the Eye of Arik as a focal point to a new Shadow Gate for King Jarek.  Of course, the King will deny this in the future.

Why am I using the Golden Hart here?  Simple. I am totally trolling the people that don't like this game. Well...that and the fact that the Hart actually works here and does what it is supposed to do.  Also I hated the Protectors in the original B3 module.   Sorry but even when I was 11 and I bought this new I knew they were dumb.  The Hart is a much better choice.

I am cheating and using Night Folk as Orcs.  The the Night Folk that delivered the Eye of Arik were unknowing dupes.   The ones in the castle are shadow aligned and working with Catharandamus and Alha, brought in by them.

Candella and Duchess are still here. Still theives (Experts), and just because I can they are also caria daunen. They are Twilight aligned, but if they help the party then they will be rewarded by the Queen.

New Monsters
The wave of Shadow Magic turned the guests to stone, trapped the Queen and Captain, and knocked your party out of the castle.  It also is starting to gate in things from the Shadow Realms.

Decapus
Large 4th-level aberration
Initiative +2; Speed 5', Climb 25'
Defense 12 (-1 size, +2 Dex, +1 natural)
Attack +5 melee  (no damage, tentacle), +0 melee (+0 damage, bite);
Qualities: darkvision 60ft; Superior Hearing
Alignment: Twilight
Saves: Tough +3, Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +3
S: 0 D: +2 C: 0 I: -2 W: 0 Ch: -1
Skills: Climb +10, Escape Artist +13, Notice +5, Sneak +11, Swim +9.
Feats: Improved Grab
Arcana: Illusion; visual illusion 20ft. Radius, range 60ft.

Combat Special
Rend: 3 tentacle hits target is grappled next turn and suffers lethal damage from bite. Only one target can be attacked per round this way.
Multi-attack; 9 tentacle attacks, 3 per target.

My numbers might be way off, have to play this to be sure.

For this conversion, I also grabbed the Classic Modules Today conversion of B3 Palace of the Silver Princess.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Sad Weekend Gaming

So in terrible news, JonBunny; my oldest son's pet rabbit, died this weekend.  He jumped off my son's bed, landed wrong and broke his back.  He ended up being paralyzed in his lower half.  I guess this is a known issue with this breed of bunny.  My son is (and all of us are) devastated.
We really miss that little ball of fur.


I did the only thing I could do.  I ran a marathon session yester of D&D to keep their minds off of what happened.

The Order of the Platinum Dragon went to the lower level of the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl.  They managed to free the daughter of the Storm King and defeat the remaining frost giant guards to get to the Jarl himself.   I got rid of his wife for a few reasons. She was just going to be another encounter; and not a very interesting one at that. I replaced her with a frost giant senechal who was also an ice powered warlock. Also I was going to have the Jarl attempt some weird ass forced marriage alliance with the daughter of the Storm King, so he needed to be single, or at least available politically. Also I don't have a female frost giant mini.


Everyone looks like they are going up a level after this.
After this the Order will head to the Storm Giants for aid, but little do they know that an evil Cloud Giant Queen has taken over the Storm King's Castle in Castle of the Cloud Giant Queen.

I also rewatched Galaxy Quest for some ideas on my Star Trek game.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Kickstart Your Weekend: Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #4: Vault of the Dwarven King

Mad genius +Mark Taormino is at it again!

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #4: Vault of the Dwarven King


The 4th dungeon in the Maximum Mayhem Dungeon series is being Kickstarted.

These modules really embody what I think is best about Kickstarter.  Mark uses these to get to a wide audience to pay for his art and production costs, which are always top notch, and get them out to everyone despite being a one-man operation.

This adventure is for levels 4 to 7 so it helps round of the "missing levels" from the other three modules.  It's almost like he was listing to me! ;)
(for the record I know he was not, this is a logical level spread and my input was not needed.)

In any case, back this. You know you want too.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Reviews: Victoriana 3rd Edition Supplements

To wrap up my week of Victoriana I want to focus a little now on the supplements for the 3rd edition. Now per the 3rd Edition Core Rules supplements for the 2nd Edition game can be used with the newer 3rd edition game. One would also suppose and visa-versa. That really ups the utility of any of these supplements in my mind.

I am reviewing the PDF versions of these books. No idea if there are print versions or not. I bought these on my own so no expectation of review from Cubicle 7.

Liber Magica
144 Pages. Color cover, B&W interior
Liber Magica is the supplement I ALWAYS want for my games. A book on more magic? Yes please!
This book features a lot of familiar names from both 2nd and 3rd edition.   This is good given the changes to magic between the editions.  There is a section (half-a-page) about bringing over 2nd ed style magics to 3rd ed.  It is really easy stuff and most GMs will do it on the fly really.
This book contains a lot more magical options than the core book had.  The first five cover the types of magic detailed in the core book (Thaumaturgy,  Sigil Magic, Conjuration, Psychodumany/Magentism, and Maleficium).  The last two chapters cover magical items and curiosities and magical societies.  There are a lot of new spells.
I have the PDF of this book, but I really want a print copy next time I hit Gen Con.  It is one of the single most useful Victoriana PDFs I own.  I adapt ideas from this for a variety of game including converting all these to Magical Philosophies in Ghosts of Albion or Traditions for the Witch.  This morning, in fact, I was rereading this for use in Leagues of Gothic Horror.
A supremely useful book.

Streets of Shadow
144 Pages. Color cover, B&W interior
Streets of Shadow is an adventure path (to borrow a term) for Victoriana that has a lot of history.  Three of the adventures, Dragon in the Smoke (Chapter 1), The Hound of Hate (Chapter 3) and Rise of the Red God (Chapter 5) have been published previously for 1st edition Victoriana. Here they have been updated and tied together in a longer story. A "shilling shocker" according to the book.
This adventure also ties in to other Victoriana adventures, The Devil in the Dark (3rd ed) and The Marylebone Mummy (2nd ed).
This is a great example of both an adventure campaign and of a game honoring (and using) it's past.
Sure these are useful for other games too, but really there is something very "Victoriana" about these. If you are planning on running any Victoriana games at all I say get these.

NOTE:  Rise of the Red God for Victoriana 1st ed is still available.  I am thinking of grabbing it and my copy of Amazing Adventures Rise of the Red God and do a mega-adventure of two times, two games and one threat.

The Devil in the Dark
23 Pages. B&W cover and interior.
A beginning adventure for characters that have been through at least one or two other adventures but are still low rank. This is an expanded and updated version of a 1st Ed adventure. This adventure in 3 acts feels a lot like a mix of gothic horror and Sherlock Holmes. Great for the price.

The Spring Heeled Menace
14 Pages. B&W cover and interior. FREE
Can't complain about this price.  I fun little introductory adventure with some pre-gen PCs/NPCs.
One Spring-Heeled Jack is bad enough, what about an entire gang of them?  Great adventure to introduce 3rd Ed Victoriana to new players.

The Concert in Flames
160 pages. Color cover, B&W interior
Part gazetteer of Europe of 1865, part adventure campaign.  What is great about this book is that covers a number of lands that are often ignored in most Victorian-era games.  There are not a lot of details, it's not Wikipedia after all, but plenty for your game.  The adventure (or Penny-Dreadful in Victoriana-speak) is a continent hoping adventure in the pure adventure vein as "Around the World in 80 Days" or the last part of "Dracula". It is done in a way that only can be done in the Victorian-era.  The world is still big enough that other lands can be mysterious, but small enough that travel (thanks steam!) is quicker, easier and an adventure all it's own.  Again, this makes this book not just essential for Victoriana but also a good buy for anyone running any Victorian-era game.
There are also four new races near the end.

I don't know about all of you, but I want to do some Victorian-era gaming!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Or...I can do some giants...

Well. My son's game fell through due to illness of half the players (schools are Petri dishes...).  So it looks like we might be doing our Come Endless Darkness game this weekend.  Which means going after some Frost Giants.

I wanted to finish up the G series at Gen Con, but we only got through G1(hill giants) and the unofficial G4 (stone giants).    On the plus side it has allowed me some time to consult some other references.


Storm Giants really didn't fit into my original idea, but I am going to give these a read and see what they have to offer.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Review: Beneath the Dome

Beneath the Dome is an adventure for the Castles & Crusades game by none other than James M. Ward.  The current versions out in game stores and OneBookShelf are a combination of four smaller adventures.  It is really like a small campaign or a longer adventure in four parts.

Each section challenges characters of progressively higher levels (1-5, 4-7, 10th and above) and deals with the invasion of a race of giant humanoids, the Amdromodon.   Aside: While the new monsters here are interesting enough, I couldn't help but think it might be cooler if instead, I replaced them with Slaadi from the old Fiend Folio.  But that was only a thought.

The adventures are interesting and I love the whole "invasion" and corruption vibe.  It made it feel a little different than your typical adventure dealing with outer planar creatures.   A little fleshing out with some other adventures the Castle Keeper could really make a nice campaign with this.  The only thing really missing is a very high level adventure where the PCs go to the plane of the Amdromodons.

There is a lot going on in this adventure(s) and it is a lot of fun really. In addition to the new monsters there are also some new spells.

The book itself is 36 pages.

Now.  I hate to be "that guy" but today I am going to be.
If your book needs so much editing that *I* notice it then you have some issues.  There is more going on here than the odd typo or comma splice. Some sections are so awkward in their phrasing and the way they were written it really made it difficult to read.  I know these complaints have been leveled against Troll Lords before and I have for the most part ignored them.  But this book for whatever reason seemed to be really bad.  Now the PDF might be updated, I don't know.  But the physical copy I have needs a lot of help.


Disclaimer: Links are affiliate links, this module was purchased as part of a Kickstarter add-on package.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Reviews: Castles & Crusades Adventures

My son is doing some gaming with his own group, so he has been spending a lot of time working on his own stuff.  So I have been reading a lot of Castles & Crusades.

I have to admit, and this is not really an admission since you all know this, but I love this game.
For me, it really hits a nice blend of 1st, 3rd and yes even 5th Edition.  Plus there is lot of material that I have not even been through yet.  The more I read it the more I REALLY want to use this for my War of the Witch Queens  adventures.

But before I do that I want to look at some of these adventures on their own merits.
Review Disclaimer:  I purchased these adventures as part of a Kickstarter add-on some time ago.



The Fantastic Adventure
This is a short adventure, 16 pages, for 4 to 8 characters of 1st to 3rd level. Actually, it is three very short adventures in a general area.  One flows to the next easily and can be run in a couple of sessions. The starting adventure revolves around finding a missing gem and this leads to the PCs saving a deranged golem.  There is also a host of really weird and interesting NPCs that could, if needed, be used as characters.  I know that C&C typically takes its cues from AD&D1, but this adventure felt like something right out of D&D Basic to me.  I mean that in the best way possible; I love D&D Basic.  This would make for a good first adventure to anyone new to C&C, but familiar with other FRPGs.
I often gush at the nostalgia fuel that Castles & Crusades often is for me, but this adventure really does capture a lot of the fun of playing in the late 70s and early 80s. Particularly the early 80s.  It is set in their larger, and somewhat more dangerous, World of Aihrde and can lead up to their other adventures.  Or it can stand alone for a couple nights of rolling dice and having fun.

I1 Into the Unknown: Vakhund
26 pages, for 4-6 characters levels 1 to 2.
Vakhund, Into the Unkown is a short adventure that builds up to some epic events in the later I series from Troll Lords for Castles & Crusades.  It starts out simple enough really. The party has been hired as guards for a caravan. Soon the wealthy merchant is dead and his daughter kidnapped.
Vakhund is interesting since for an adventure that has it's DNA in a game known as "Dungeons & Dragons" there are neither dragons nor dungeons (for the most part) in this adventure.  Typically for low level adventures there is a dungeon to explore. In this one the PCs are thrown right to a plot and it is rather interesting to be honest.

I2 Under Dark & Mistry Ground: Dzeebagd
34 pages, for 4-8 characters levels 2 to 4.
Following up on the events of I1 Vakhund the party finds the missing girl but uncovers a larger plot involving many local factions.  The conceit of the adventure is the party will be drawn in, but as far things go this is not a bad one.
This one is a bit longer than the last adventure and a bit more involved with all the factions.  This adventure can stand alone, but it works best as part of the I trilogy.  Interaction with the NPCs is really what makes this adventure so the game master should read up on all of them and their motivations ahead of time.

I3 Dogs of War: Felsentheim
22 pages, for 4-8 characters levels 3 to 5.
Felsentheim is the epic conclusion to the I series of adventures.   As with the last adventure the GM should be knowledgeable on all the NPCs and factions in this adventure.  Again it can be played on it's own, but works best as the conclusion to the I series.  While the adventure is shorter there is quite a lot of combat in this one.

All together these three books are greater than their parts and make for an interesting set of adventures.

Interestingly enough the entire time I was reading these I kept thinking how well they would work with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  Not that there is anything here that screams AS&SH to me, but just a feeling that it would work well.  I'll have to try it someday.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Review: The Wicked Cauldron

Troll Lords has been putting out some quality products since the 3.x/d20 boom days.  This includes not only their own "house" system, Castles and Crusades but also some 3.x material back in the day.
Well now they are dipping their toes into 5th edition and I could not more pleased.

This past Gen Con I picked up their 5th edition version of their adventure A3 The Wicked Cauldron. I already had the C&C version and I wanted to see how they compared.  Especially since D&D 5 really has a lot of ideas that C&C started with.


The Castles & Crusades version is 24 pages and designed for 3-5 characters of 3rd to 4th level.
The Dungeons & Dragons 5e version is 40 pages (larger font) and for 3-5 characters of 3rd to 5th level.

I am reviewing the print and pdf versions.

The premise is a fairly simple one.  There is a ruined ziggurat in the Barren Woods that is the home to many foul things. It also has a long and evil history and currently is home to one of the fabled Witch Queens.  The PCs must investigate and stop her.

The adventure itself is particularly original, but that doesn't make it less fun.  There is a good balance of overland and dungeon exploring, plenty of new monsters to fight, a threat of an ancient evil.  Given that this module is coded "A3" should give you an indication it is part of a larger series, and it is.  It can be played as part of Troll Lords "A" series that began with "Assault on Blacktooth Ridge" and "Slag Heap" and continues in other Airhde products and adventures.  But it can also be played as a stand-alone adventure.
The adventure is very reminiscent of the old Basic adventures of the early 80s, especially B2 and B4.  In fact, it is almost a perfect mix of these two classic adventures.  So in the nostalgia department, it gets a perfect score from me.

My biggest issue with the PDFs and the Print versions are the maps are fairly small.  I can redo them on my own and larger, but having something I can print out or read easier would be nice.

The 5th edition conversion is good and really, C&C is so close to D&D5 as to almost make the conversion unnecessary, but still I did enjoy looking through both to find the subtle differences.  The most interesting changes were to the Witch Queen herself.

The Witch Queen, Neb–Eprethat, is the central figure in this adventure and stopping her is the main goal.  In the C&C version, she is a Lawful Evil 5th level human cleric/wizard.  In the D&D 5 version, she is a Chaotic Evil 6th level human cleric.   In both cases, she could be better served as a witch.

There is no D&D5 witch class (yet) and I am not ready to publically reveal my C&C witch class.  But I can give her a try in my Basic-era Witch.  Though given that she supposedly worships and honors the "Horned One" she could be a D&D5 Warlock too.  In fact a warlock (as per D&D5) makes a lot of sense.


Neb–Eprethat - Witch Queen 
Chaotic Human Witch (Malefic Tradition), 6th level
The Witch stats

Strength: 11 Death Ray, Poison 11
Dexterity: 14 Magic Wands 12
Constitution: 12 Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone 11
Intelligence: 16 Dragon Breath 14
Wisdom: 14 Rods, Staffs, Spells 13
Charisma: 18

Hit Points: 20
Alignment: Chaotic
AC: 1
Dagger +4, Multiattack (allows 2 attacks per round)
To hit AC0: 18

Occult Powers
Familiar: Toad (multiple familiars)

Spells
Cantrips (7): Alarm Ward, Daze, Detect Curse, Object Reading, Open, Spark, Warm
First (3+2): Bewitch I, Cause Fear, Command, Minor Fighting Prowess, Sleep
Second (2+2): Biting Blade, Enthrall, Evil Eye, Hold Person,
Third (2+2): Bestow Curse, Continual Fire, Fly, Ghost Ward


She joins the ranks of the other Witch Queens that I have been gathering.

Can't wait to run this under my War of the Witch Queens campaign.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Review: Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #2 and #3

+Mark Taormino is like some sort of mad genius.  I love his Maximum Mayhem Dungeons and each one "delivers the goods" in terms of hitting that nostalgia feel.  I reviewed his first offering, The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen, a while back.   Today I want to look at the other two.

The Secret Machines of the Star Spawn
Let's play a game of what if.  What if the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks had been written in the 80s instead of the 70s?  What if there were influences of Star Wars, Buck Rogers, 50s sci-fi movies and just a little dash of 70s Blaxplotation?  You might get something like The Secret Machines of the Star Spawn, but it would not be as good as the module Mark Taormino wrote.
The module follows a similar flow of the other Maximum Mayhem Dungeons; something weird is happening, there are rumors, a long history of strangeness and a thin excuse to go adventuring.
What they PCs will uncover is...well I don't want to spoil it.  It's no shock that this adventure will feature a downed starship and some lasers.  But it doesn't end there.
In truth there is a lot to really, really like about this adventure.  In a different setting the monsters would be scary ass deadly and really, really awesome.  Also there is so many references to pop culture, especially sci-fi and 80s pop culture, that it would be pointless to address them all. The rock band KILL was one of my favorites.
Designed for OSRIC, I played bits and pieces of this using D&D5. Though it would work just as well with AD&D1, Castles & Crusades or any other OGL based clone game.
The one issue I have with it (and very minor)  is that players that didn't grow up in the 70s and 80s would not get all the jokes.   I ran Hanging Coffins for my kids and they loved it, but some of the jokes fell flat on them here. No surprise they have no context for them.  I thought they were hilarious to be honest.  Loved the Pinball Wizard!
If I were to run this again I would either merge it with a little bit of Expedition to the Barrier Peaks and run a huge Star Spawn mega-adventure.  Or I'd run it as is with some disposable characters and guys the grew up in the 80s too.

Villains of the Undercity
Here is another what-if game.  What if the Keep on the Borderlands was destroyed and then humans came in and built a new keep on top of the ruins.  Let's also say the caves of Chaos have been cleared, but not all the monsters were killed.  Where did they go? What did they do?  Now invite the Slave Lords from the A series over.  You would get Villains of the Undercity!
This adventure is an ode and homage to the great dungeon crawls of the day.
While this adventure fits the gonzo style of the other Maximum Mayhem Dungeons this one can also be played straight.  Well...sorta.  There is a crazy Halfling Illusionist Assassin, but that is for the players to figure out.
With this one anyone that has ever been inside a classic dungeon will find something to love.  There are lots of deadly traps, monsters and puzzles to figure out. Of course plenty of treasure too.
This adventure is also the one that I can see fitting into a larger campaign, even with adventures from other publishers.  I was mentally placing it in Greyhawk or even Dolmvay.
Just really a lot of fun.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons. My collection is now complete!

Look what I got in the mail today!



+Mark Taormino's Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #2 and #3.



I now have the complete set.

In order of playability, lowest to the highest.

Just missing an adventure for 4th to 6th and then 12th to 14th.

Not sure what I will do with these.  Hanging Coffins was so much fun I just had to have these.  The 3D glasses and pictures are a nice and unexpected treat.

I also can't help but think that Mark and +Venger Satanis need to get together to make a really gonzo adventure.  Liberation of the Demonslayer would fit into all of this really nice and Star Spawn practically begs to be mixed with Alpha Blue.  Get on that one guys!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Classic Modules Today

A tip of the hat to Armchair Gamer for sharing this.

There is a group online that are converting classic D&D adventures over to 5e and putting them up for sale on the DM's Guild.

Classic Modules Today has a website, a Google+ group and of course modules for sale at DM's Guild.  They are working through a list of modules and you can see their progress on their website.

I grabbed their updates for the Drow series, D1-2 Descent into the Depths of the Earth and D3 Vault of the Drow for a buck each.

Sure there is nothing there I could not figure out on my own, but it's all here and only a buck.

I also grabbed their conversion of B4 The Lost City.  It has conversion file (which I don't really need) but also the OpenOffice document files you can use to create your own conversions.

Maybe one day I will do the conversions of the D&D4 Orcus vs. the Raven Queen adventures. They are not exactly classics, but I would still like to run them some day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Getting ready to start running the Giants series next week!




Since I am going to be running this under 5e I made some conversion notes and print outs to help me along.




Not to mention some great user supported material online from various sources including WotC.






It's all coming together rather nicely I have to say.

I put these all together in a binder and opted to print one side per page so I could right notes on the other blank side.   It is nice to have over 36 years of material created for these adventures to help me along today and make the experience one I know my players will enjoy.  Can't wait to get into to this!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review: Maze of the Blue Medusa

Maze of the Blue Medusa is the latest book from +Patrick Stuart (of Deep Carbon Observatory) and +Zak Sabbath ("Red and Pleasant Land" among others) and published by Satyr Press.

All of that is relevant to the review that follows. First, you can see the DNA of both DCO and RaPL in Maze of the Blue Medusa (MoBM hereafter). Not to say this is the child of the other two, unless it is a child the same way a medusa is the child of an arch-devil, but there are fingerprints all over it.

Satyr Press is important too. Not because you have heard of it (I hadn't) but because they are not known for their RPG books. In fact this is their first and only one to date.  You won't find MotBM on DriveThruRPG or RPGNow. I have no idea if my favorite local game store carries it (though they did have RaPL).  So already we should know from all of this we have something different. And we do.

I have had MotBM now for a little while but I have been purposefully holding off on reviewing it till know for a very specific reason.  I want to review it now so you can vote for it at the ENnies.  Yes, I know that calls my bias into question and my intentions.  But there is the Product (which I am reviewing here) and there is the Philosophy (which is why I want you to vote).  I am going to review the Product, but I want to talk about the Philosophy.

Ok brass tacks.  What is Maze of the Blue Medusa?
Extremely simply put MotBM is an adventure.  It is a huge dungeon in the very, very classical sense that for what ever reasons your characters will investigate.  The PDF is 296 pages. This contains a map of the "Maze" (spoiler: it's not really a maze), both Zak's lavishly painted version and a utilitarian numbered one that is also hyperlinked (Philosophy vs. Product right there).  The PDF is massive, hyperlinks everywhere and the art is, as expected, top notch material from Zak.   I can't help compare it to Red and Pleasant Land, and favorably so.  The art is central to the map. OR the map is central to the art. They are one and the same really. So don't come to this product if you want grids or blue borders on your maps.  I love all that stuff, I do, but that is not this product, nor would it ever be.
The maps remind me also of the board game Dungeon! a little bit.  Same sort of color, same sort of "flat yet, multi-dimensional" feel to it.  I will be honest that was what attracted me most from the start.
The Maze is both explicitly and implicitly multidimensional.
The only thing I can relate it too was this multivariate regression course I took back in grad school where we tried to replicate 4, 5 and more dimensional multivariate axes on two-dimensional paper.
For me, at least, not only is the PDF hyper-linked, the Maze itself is hyperlinked.


We are given a brief history and a timeline involving an immortal medusa and three perfect sisters.
There is insanity all around them, thus the Maze.

Or whatever.

I like the background and it pulls me into this world, but it happened (game wise) so long ago how can any of the PCs be sure?  Implicit in the design is that you can do what you like here.  This is evident in the coding of the monster stats in some Ur-D&D. Designed to be flexible and compatible with a wide variety of editions and games.

Which gets me to my first big point on Philosophy.
The Maze has no meaning save what the reader/player puts on it.
I am not trying to discount what Zak and Patrick wrote in the book. Not at all, quite the opposite. They worked very hard to provide a copious amount text and background.  But like the medusa who changes people with her gaze, the Blue Medusa is changed by the gaze of others.   The details are enough to get you going but how it works in your world with your players and your style of gaming (not to mention the ruleset you choose) will change it.  The language used here is less "I am telling you what is happening" to "I am inspiring you to tell what is happening".  The difference is profound.  It made the work Zak and Patrick had to do harder, but more rewarding.  It is not their domain (or dare I say even their right) to tell me why the Medusa or Chronia don't age, it is enough that they don't and the world moves on.  Do you need to know for your game? Maybe, that is up to you.

The monsters, or really NPCs, are unique and tailored to this. Same with the magic items.  Sure there are some liches, but that seems to be expected given the rules of the Maze to be honest.  Hell I might throw in a couple more and have them be former adventures from my gaming groups of the neolithic days of D&D just amuse myself.   But in truth no-one is there without a reason.
One could, based on the surface features, call this a dungeon crawl but that is nowhere close to what it really is.  Yeah you can use it as that, but that is a waste of material.
Plus, unlike the great adventures of yesteryear (which I am still inordinately fond of) there are good reasons why these monsters/npcs/characters are hanging around here.  There is no sphinx guarding the corridors as in White Plume Mountain. There is no monster here because it fit the challenge rating of the rest of the dungeons.  Things are here because they serve a purpose in the Maze itself independent of whether or not the PCs are there.

There are also enough things going on in this dungeon/book that I could not help but be amused by knowing the histories and interactions of the designers.  I nearly spit out my coffee at the Canibal Critics.   I also have to admit I adore the Glyph Witch.

Now personally I am huge fan of the PDF. It is hyperlinked and I can jump all over the Maze in a way that is both utilitarian (Gods...I just called a Zak Sabbath book "utilitarian")  but also aesthetically pleasing.   I want to say though that the pictures of the hardcover are absolutely gorgeous.  It's the type of book you leave out and hope your non-gaming friends find a leaf through.

Sometimes They Get Lost
With so many characters (both senses of the word) wandering the halls of the Maze I can't help but have two thoughts. 1. Is this the authors' idea of what hell is? It has all the features of the Greek Hades or even Dante's Inferno. I am quite certain that all the NPCs represent real people in the lives of the authors. I have not identified them all and I am not likely too, but it is a fun exercise.  Also 2. Is this where all the lost characters go?  Sometimes when you play with a group, players come and go, what happens to their characters?  I am not talking about inbetween major adventures, but in the middle of one.  One session there are there and the next...gone.  Maybe...just maybe some of them end up here. They are lost in the truest sense of the word. Not evil, not good, but lost.  Maybe they have wandered the halls for a thousand years but still think that it was only minutes ago they got here.  Maybe they are all too painfully aware of what is going on but are powerless to do anything about it.

Why Should I Buy Maze of the Blue Medusa?
Buy this if you are the type of gamer that loves a new and unique challenge. Buy this if you are the kind of gamer that is bored of the typical dungeon crawl where you kick in a door, kill the giant rat and collect your 2,000 coppers.  After 36+ years of gaming, precious little seems "new" to me.  This feels new.  The ideas are old, but the presentation and the execution are new.
Buy this for the jaded gamer who thinks they have seen it all.
I am going to pick up the hard cover because I also think this adventure makes for good reading.  There is an implicit story here I would love to tease out for my own world.

Why Should I Vote For Maze of the Blue Medusa?
Obviously, I think the product is worthy of such consideration. This why I am posting now as opposed to last week or after I get my hardcover.  This is my next big point on Philosophy.  You buy MotBM for the Product, but vote for the Philosophy.  Zak's writing, work and much of his blog is about how games can and should be better.  MotBM is the tangible artifact of that ideal.  Now my "better" and your "better" and his "better" might not all be the same thing, but the effort to do something different needs to be rewarded.  The effort to try out adventure design where one designer paints and the other writes and they go back and forth should be rewarded and acknowledged.  There is also the fact that this is essentially a D&D product. If this were (gods I am going to catch shit for this) FATE adventure or something from the Indie Press Revolution, the style would be heralded and pedalstooled by that faction of gamers. This is the Indie RPG aesthetic applied to DIY D&D.

Maze is up for the following ENnies:
Best Adventure
Best Cartography
Best Electronic Book
Best Writing
and Product of the Year

Personally, I think it is worthy of all of these. Foremost Best Adventure and Best Electronic Book.
Buying sends the message to the authors that you appreciate their work. Voting sends the message to other authors that this is the sort of thing you like and you want to see more.  So please, vote for this.

We need more adventures and supplements like this.

I have no idea where I am going to use this, but I will use it.

Good job +Zak Sabbath and +Patrick Stuart.  Looking forward to seeing what is next.
---
I am up for an Ennie this year for Best Blog!
Please click on the link and vote "1" under "The Other Side".


Thursday, June 30, 2016

The search for Q2

In August I will start the boys on the GDQ series.  Reading through all the material I can't help but wish there was something...more to the ending.

Back in April I mentioned that Q1 seemed lonely because it was all by itself and it does have quite a different feel to it than the G and D adventures.  I mused at the time a "Q2" would be a good addition.   I think I even talked a bit about a drow civil war.

I have been thinking a lot about what a Module Q2 might look like or be.  Since I am also strapped for time I thought a pre-made, published adventure might be my best bet.  I want it also to be something that challenges the characters and players.  Q1 was designed for characters levels 10-14. So I want something near to that.

Plus to make the "Q" in "Q2" mean something I wanted to stick to "Queen" adventures.  BUT not  ones that I might want to put into my "War of the Witch Queens" adventures.

So who are the contestants in my Q2 pageant?

First up is +Mark Taormino's Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen.  This adventure has a lot going for it. There is the Queen connection, it's high level and there is a vampire realm briefly described in Q1 that would work for this. Also, I wanted more vampires in the end of the adventure too.
On the con side the module is a slaughter house.  Making it work with Q1 would take some work.  There is also so much going in this adventure that it really could be used on it's own.  I also like the idea of making this part of the old Palace of the Vampire Queen adventtures too.

+Monte Cook's Queen of Lies is another really good choice.  It's a good adventure (having been reprinted three different times), it fits the theme REALLY well, it is about the right level, has that Drow civil war thing going on and calling it "Q2 Queen of Lies" really, really appeals to me.  (Side note I had a rather infamous NPC back in the late 80s whose nickname was "Queen of Lies").   The basic plot though really takes the characters away from the big arc I have going on, but not so much I can't work with it.  It is for D&D 3.0, but I can make that work no problem.

+Wolfgang Baur and  Gwendolyn F. M. Kestrel's Expedition to the Demonweb Pits for 3.5 is an honest to goodness sequel (of sorts) to Q1.  It also has a lot going for it. The issue I have is that Lolth is assumed to be alive when the module starts and there is no way I can guarantee that.  Yes it is unlikely she will get killed in Q1, but it is possible.  Again this one is big. I mean huge really. There is so much going on here that it is also it's own campaign.   Lots of good ideas to mine here though.

P2 Demon Queen's Enclave is for 4e, but it has the whole Drow and demon thing going for it too.  Also it was written in part by +Mike Mearls and +Robert Schwalb so I know it has potential.  It also ties in the whole thing nicely with Orcus.



First (Fantasy) World Problems I know.



---
I am up for an Ennie this year for Best Blog!
Please click on the link and vote "1" under "The Other Side".


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...