Showing posts with label dragonslayers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dragonslayers. Show all posts

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gaming Wrap-up

With Gen-Con, some time off and weekend gaming I have managed to get a ton of gaming in over the last couple weeks.  Here is a wrap-up

3.x/Dragonslayers
The Dragonslayers are heading into Epic levels, but there are some characters that need some help filling out their last levels.  Also my kids wanted some side-quests for some special magic weapons, so we did that.
Module: WG4 (upgraded)

1st Edition Game
The boys left B1 and on their way discovered the Keep on the Borderlands.  They are currently planning their attack on the first of the caves.
Module: B1

4th Ed Game
The larger group is getting ready to attack an sort of different Keep, this time the Keep on the Shadowfell.  They still don't know who Nera is, but are learning more about the cult of Orcus.  They also just learned a big secret, the God of the Dead, Kelemvor is dead himself.  No new god of the Dead has been named.
Module: H1

All in all the games are going very well.  My two boys, the commonality in all groups, have now played at least 5 different versions of the D&D rules in the last couple of weeks.  It has been a blast.

I like using the modules for a couple of reasons.  First, I want them to experience these classic adventures.  And it helps me keep three (or more) games and adventures straight in my head.

No idea what we are doing next week.

This week it is back to work.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Gen Con recap: The name of the game is "D&D"

I did something truly special this Gen Con. Something that I would love to repeat.

I played D&D with my family through the entire Con.  One of the things I wanted to do with my boys was to play the history of D&D with them.  I didn't get into every game I wanted, but I got in enough to make it count.  I also wanted my wife to join in so she could give her unbiased opinion of the games.  I have learned to trust her judgment on many, many things over the years.

Part of the plan was that any XP, gold or magic the boys got in the games they could translate that over to  the special 1st Ed Game we were playing at night.

We played a D&D4 game on Thursday.  It was a fun game where we all played Dwarfs.  The DM was great and he played well with the kids.  Thursday night I had a game of my own to play (which I'll discuss later).

Friday was our Castles and Crusades game.  I REALLY wanted to play this one after going on and on so much about C&C a while back.  I picked up my new copies of the 5th printing of the Players Handbook and Jason Vey's amazing Amazing Adventures.  The game we played was also a lot of fun.  Again we had a great GM...er Castle Keeper, and in this we all played Assassins.  My youngest loved it.

Friday night we rolled up characters for 1st Ed AD&D!!  They rolled up two each, and these are the children of the Dragonslayers (their current 3.x game).  That took us till midnight since I had to look a lot of things up and we were sitting on the 2nd floor of the JW Marriott and everyone had stop by and comment on what we were doing.

Saturday we played D&D5/Next.  If I would have known we were making characters I would have gone into it with a different mindset.  But it worked out well and character creation was a snap.  Really.  It only took me 30 mins to do my character and help out my wife and two kids.  I playtested the Warlock and I like it so far.  The game itself was fast, I mean really fast. I am going to come back to that in a sec in fact.

Saturday night we played AD&D 1st ed.  I had the boys go on a quick adventure into Castle Quasqueton from B1 In Search of the Unknown.  The boys had some great rolls and they even took out some orcs, zombies and a group of kobolds. The boys made their objective (which happened to be a on sheet of paper I wrote on when I ran this in college around 1988-9 or so), find a missing witch (Marissa) and bring her back.  I hinted there was an evil cult at work (cause that was what I was doing in 88) and the boys ran with it.  Now this cult is "infiltrating" the lands and they now have to put a stop to it.  I might run with that.

Fighting the Kobolds
Quite by accident one of the common elements in the D&D5/Next playtest and my AD&D game on the same day was the party (6 and 5 characters respectively) fought 4 kobolds.  The combat for each ran very, very similar.  In both cases it was fast with hit points flying everywhere and characters on the verge of death. I can say that in at least this respect D&D5 is closer to old-school play than 3 or 4 was.

It dawned on me at one point or another while playing Saturday night.  I was playing AD&D. With my boys. At Gen Con!  I play a lot of D&D with them and I have played a lot of AD&D over the years, but this felt special. This felt like the best thing I could do then and there.

I have no idea what I am going to do with D&D5 when it comes out.  At this very same Gen Con Wizards of the Coast had announced that D&D5 would not be out till 2014.  That is a very good year in my mind.  Still gives us time to play some 4e AND be out in time for the 40th anniversary of D&D.
WotC also announced that previous editions would be made available again via e-book format of some sort.

There were copies of 1st Ed for sale at Gen Con and we all also picked up a full set of D&D "Drow" dice.

For me there is no debate. D&D still reigns as king at Gen Con.

Monday, June 18, 2012

New Game Group and Game!

There is nothing quite like the excitement of a new gaming group.
New people getting together for the first time, new characters, new game, new worlds to explore.

My oldest son has a friend that really wants to learn to play D&D. So I talked to his mother and she is thrilled about it too. She used to play Werewolf back in college.  We are also going to add his younger brother and my youngest too.  So a total of four boys ages 9 to 12.

My oldest plays in a group now that he is continuing with. They are playing Castles and Crusades and having a good time with that.  My oldest and youngest are still playing our 3.x Epic game, the DragonSlayers.

Given I still have all this 4e stuff I want to get my money's worth out off, we are going to play Fourth Edition D&D.

I think it is going to be a great time to be honest.

Right now the plans are to play every other Saturday.
I picked up the Forgotten Realms books at Half-Price books a while back dirt cheap so maybe we will play in the Realms.  I have never done that before.

My kids created their characters yesterday and I am going to use the companion rules to let them have a human or animal companion.  My oldest is playing two characters a Dragonborn Paladin/Warlord and Genasi Sorcerer,  My youngest is playing a Half-elf Bard.  I am planning to go totally 4e gonzo on this too.  Use all the options, the cards, everything.

So yeah, it is about as far from an old school game as you can get, but you know what, it is going to be a blast!  I can't wait to get started!

I am not likely to use the "Basic Levels" idea I came up with.  Which is too bad really, cause I really liked that.  But hey, who knows.  Let's see what the kids want.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tiamat on my Mind

Been doing some research on the end game of my kids D&D 3.x game and I have been thinking a lot about Tiamat.  The kids are going to fight her in the end, but I wanted something more than the big five-head dragon of the AD&D Monster Manual, and not exactly like the Takhisis of Dragonlance.


So I hit the "books".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiamat
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tehom
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiamat_(Dungeons_%26_Dragons)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takhisis
http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Tiamat (for the Forgotten Realms info)
http://www.pantheon.org/articles/t/tiamat.html

And inspirational posts:
http://gorgonmilk.blogspot.com/2012/01/tiamat.html
http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2012/05/percentile-systems-girl-voices-and.html
http://blackmoormystara.blogspot.com/2011/09/divinity-of-dragons.html


http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2010/03/drow-should-be-lawful-evil-among-other.html
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2010/01/going-up-to-hell-cosmology.html
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2011/05/post-666.html
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2010/11/sohave-you-ever-killed-god.html


Well I also hit the real books too.

One thing I recall thinking up years ago was that Tiamat in the old myths was the personification of Chaos.  This idea was reaffirmed with me when I, like many others, dabbled in Chaos Math and Science (it was the 90s, all the cool grad students were doing it).   Tiamat is primordial chaos.   Well what is that in D&D?  Simple, the Abyss.  So I have placed Tiamat in the Abyss, but it is not-quite-the-Abyss.  Her realm is Tehom, the Hebrew word for abyss or deep.  It is also related to the Kabbalah, being one of the Qliphoth.  Tiamat and Tehom also are have etymological relations.

Zak even talks a bit about fighting Tiamat and the mytho-historical Tiamat near the end of his interview over at Penny Red. (1:20:00 or around there).

Tiamat and Lolth
In my games Tiamat and Lolth are strong allies (no, not like this). Mostly because I have effectively had them swap places; Lolth becoming LE and in Hell, Tiamat CE and in the Abyss.  But also because they have similar backstories.  Both were (are) gods. Both were cast out by male Gods to establish some new order.  I can see each seeing something of herself in the other, and not in a self-loathing way (Lolth in my world is full of self-loathing, no pun intended) but rather as solidarity.  Their views are radically different, but their plans for conquest do not conflict really.  So they see each other as an ally.  Not best friends or anything like that, but there is mutual trust built up over centuries.  They are evil, not stupid.   If I were to play this out then I would have an alliance between the Drow and a group of dragons.  Most likely the red dragons, like what the Githyanki do.  I might even revise that a bit and say it was a select group Drow that went to serve Tiamat and she in return had some dragons serve Lolth.  Of course they are spies, but everyone knows this.

Here is an odd entry, attributed to the Demonomicon that Lolth is the offspring of Tiamat and Alrunes, the Queen of Sorcery.   Not quite sure about that one really.  But I have conjectured that Orcus is the offspring of Tiamat.  That would give me a hook too.

Of course I had this evil thought of using  the Scales of War material for the last few adventures.

Just a little late night research.

Anything cool about Tiamat or Lolth I should know?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Itching for the Tomb of Horrors

As I posted yesterday my son is going to get to play some of the classic greats, B1, B2, and X1. This along with the idea that 4e is on the wane and 5e coming up, I don't really need to complete my 3.x game just yet.  Plus there are still so many classics I want to play again.

So my kids' characters are at 20th level.  I was thinking that I could take the Tomb of Horrors (3.5 revision), link in some of the ideas (and maps) from the 4e version.  Add some monsters from the Tome of Horrors complete edition and just through it all together in a meat grinder.

They have already gone through S2 and S4 (not sure about S3 yet)

It really could be awesome.

It is one of the all time greats.  And even though the characters are twice the level, I would make it a little deadlier.  Plus a lot of this adventure is really based on Player skill and not Character skill.  My kids are still younger than the average player of this adventure, so the greater power characters might be offset by that alone.

Interestingly enough, this is the only adventure I know of that has has official products for each edition of D&D.

So kind of a no-brainer really.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dragonslayers: An Epic Epic of Epicness

So after my Book of Vile Darkness enhanced version of S4:The Lost Caverns of the Tsojcanth, the characters all for the most part hit 20th level and frankly I don't want to stop.

So I am pouring over the Epic Level Handbook now.  This is not something I used back when I was play 3.x, and it has taken this long for the boys to get to this level.  I have some issues with it, for example the editing seems bad in places. But man this book is just full of great ideas.  Some of which would be great for Epic Level Play in D&D4 or 20+ level in D&D Bacic/BECMI.
Really it is kind of a fascinating book.  It takes the rules into places the original designers I don't think expected, but yet there is such an enthusiasm for it that it makes the reality of a 30-level D&D4 a no brainer.

They have not leveled up yet, they are still in the caves.  I am merging the 3.x rewrite of the LSotT with the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdûn.  I now have the temple far, far underground where the dengerate Norkers dwell and keep millennia old rituals alive to a God no one remembers.  There will be demons, monsters of pure chaos and all sorts of evil.  Maybe even a rogue Brain Collector.  Love those guys.

To keep the sense of evil, dread and most importantly fear, I am still going to use the Book of Vile Darkness (both the 3.0 and 4.0 versions) but I'll also include some elder scariness from the Epic Level Handbook too.

The idea here is to build to something big, apocalyptic even.  That is why I bought this thing.


The Mage Knight Apocalypse Dragon to stand in for the full Goddess form of Tiamat.  That is the 3.x era Aspect of Tiamat and the 4e Orcus.   I am not sure how powerful she is going to be, but I am expecting HP in the low 1000 area, at least 30-35 HD and enough magic the stomp a small city-state.  I want it to be so epic that the boys will tell their own kids one day.  Just like the time that my characters had to defeat Orcus in the original H4 Throne of Bloodstone back in that far off time of 1987 and that mystical land sages once spoke of, Southern Illinois.

But since I also want to make all the battles leading up to this one epic in feel I am also reading other's play experience with these two modules.

Beedo over at Dreams of the Lich House has a great post on his group's battle in the Temple of Tharizdun.  This is a great run down and shows that all in not quiet in this so-called Forgotten temple.  James of Grognardia gives us his retrospective as well.  What both bloggers offer me is something I already knew, but was glad to see it all spelled out again.  The Forgotten Temple is not a simple dungeon crawl. Sure it looks like one, but it isn't one. This is alien horror.  This is Lovecraft meets the Satan Pit.
There is no over ridding goal to this adventure.  This is uncovering a plot and then running the hell away. I'll give them chances to acquire some magic items, even face some ancient, eldritch evils.

If I ever do Tharizdûn it will have to be even bigger than the Tiamat battle.


Tharizdun. Now there is name.  You don't need to know anything else about this guy other than his name to know he is up to no good.

In Gygax's Oerth he is the next best (worst) thing to Satan.  He is the Source of All Evil, to borrow a page from Charmed.  He is the biggest baddie there is.  I'll take his "Satan" aspects and his "Thasaidon" aspects and maybe even pepper in a bit of Lovecraft for good measure.

Links I am currently reading for "inspiration".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Forgotten_Temple_of_Tharizdun
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tharizdun
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clark_Ashton_Smith_deities#Thasaidon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghaunadaur#Ghaunadaur
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elder_Evils
http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Tharizdun
http://www.canonfire.com/wiki/index.php?title=Tharizdun
http://www.canonfire.com/wiki/index.php?title=Elder_Elemental_Eye
http://www.canonfire.com/cfhtml/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=968
http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/11/retrospective-forgotten-temple-of.html
http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2010/08/pulp-fantasy-library-dark-eidolon.html
http://ulmo.mux.net/greyhawk/tharizdun.html

Anyone else run an Epic level game?  Or take on the Temple of Tharizdun.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Reviews. Books of the Dragonslayers

The great thing about a long game like I have been playing with my boys is I have had the chance to try out a LOT of different things.

Here are some of the books I have used to date.

Children of Wyrms
My oldest son loves dragons.  One of the things he loved the most about D&D4 was the ability to play a Dragonborn.  But we didn't get to play that much D&D4, he does get to play a lot of Pathfinder.  So Children of Wyrms is a great product.

Let's start with the obvious.  You get to play half-dragons, quarter-dragons and dragon-bloodied (not their word) characters.  So dragon plus some other race.  The details for the race creation is detailed.  The bonuses are detailed as expected and follow from the Pathfinder source.  So nothing is unexpected here.  All four "races" are detailed and special attention is give to Draconic Sorcerers.
Plenty of feats are included as are magic items.
For the old-schooler there is even a table of random physical traits varying by generation.
Part 2 deals with the "Birds and the Bees" aspect of dragons and birth.  It is assumed for the most part that the father is dragon and the female is humanoid.  I suppose the reverse does not pose as many problems for a dragon female.

The book is only 30+ pages, but packs it full.

The artwork and layout is top notch, what I have come to expect from FG actually.  And works as good companion piece to Sisters of Rapture.  I am guessing from the point of view of both books the Sisters spend a lot time with dragons.

I am not 100% sure I'll use the entire book.  But I do plan to use the feats next time my son's "3.x Dragonborn" levels up and it really has a lot of potential.

My only con in this book?  No rules for playing 1/2 Chromatic dragons.  Not that I can't figure it out from all of this, but the assumption here is that only good dragons do this.  I get that and I understand where the authors are coming from, but the option would have been nice.
5 out of 5 stars

17 Archer Feats
My youngest son loves to play archers.  So this was a no-brainer really.

This collection of 18 (not just 17!) feats really help highlight what a good archer should be able to do.
What is good?  Well I like the names, feats (and often times spells) don't have evocative names.  Not so here, "Ring the Bell", "Until You see the Whites of their Eyes" are cool sounding and you want to take them as feats!  The sound more like super-powers really.  They are though what feats should be, something extra special you can do that others can't because of your training.

There are several here my son has used including his favorite at lower levels, Instill Arrow.
Obviously there is a bias her towards elves and rangers, but since he is a half-elven Ranger/Bard he is perfect for this book, or it is perfect for him.

The art is above the normal standards of The Le books, which is nice.  Really in a book like this I would prefer to see old woodcuts of archers.  I think it adds to the feel that the feats are adding to the game, no need for "cartoony" art (of which there is only one piece and it is not really that bad).

The feats work, and they work well.  What more do you need?
Printer and screen versions.  Works great with 3.x and Pathfinder.  Some even look like they would work well in D&D4 (but I have not tried).
4 out of 5 stars

Demon Hunter's Handbook
As we moved later in my 3.x/d20 games, Demons became major antagonists for the characters.  This book was one of many I bought on the subject, but one of the better ones.  The book begins with a a couple of new races for PCs based on Monster Manual/SRD races, the Steward Archon and the Aasimar.  Next we go to a discussion on how each of the core classes can be a "Demon Hunter" using what they already have.  I lked this part since it also encourages better role-playing.
We follow up with demon-hunting prestige classes, which are a better sort than other books like this one.  My favorite was the Righteous Sword and his power "A Good Man's Wrath".  Very nice.
Chapter two gives us the options; new feats, new uses for skills and new spells.  As well as new equipment. All of which have had a place in my game at one time or another.
Chapter Three gives up campaign advice and how to keep a demon hunting game going.  I particularly like the Urban adventures parts since I love to play in cities and there is not much in the way of good material out there.
Chapter Four (which thematically could have been just more of Three) gives us the organizations that fight demons.  After years and years of playing horror games this was less useful for me, but good for someone just getting into the demon-hunting RPG biz.
Chapter five gives us the monsters.  Not very many here and other books do have better choices, but I don't think that a huge list of demons was the prime motivator of this book; so that is fine.

All in all a good book and a very nice collection of demon hunting ideas for any group of characters.
4 out of 5 stars

[PFRPG] Player’s Options: Aasimars, Tieflings, and Elemental Templates
One thing I think Pathfinder players miss out on are the number of races that the 4E players have.   4 Winds Fantasy Gaming though knows how to solve that.  Presented here are various racial templates for new player character races for use with Pathfinder.  Now these are not "copies" of the 4e ones, but they are "influenced" by them.  Taking races from the SRD we have some very interesting new choices for players.  We get 3 types of Aasimars, 12 elemental types and 3 types of Tieflings.  With this there is certainly enough ideas to figure out other Plane-descended races.  What I felt was nice, and glad to see it was not omitted, was how these different racial templates mix with the various types of Sorcerers.
There are also plenty of good feats here for the various bloodlines.

While this is not a long book, it is packed and for the price it is an absolute bargain.
I have come to have a high opinion of the 4 Winds products.  I have not been disappointed and I am glad to have gotten this one.
5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic Maps: The Dragon's Lair
Sometimes I don't need a module, all I need is a good map.  "The Dragon's Lair" is a good map.  My kids love to play with minis and while I can scribble on graph paper, a good scale map for minis is more than I want to do.
This product, plus some printer ink and little imagination became "The Lair of the Stinky Dragon" for my kids one rainy afternoon.

Give yourself some time to print, cut and put this together, but in the end it is worth it.
I love the cutaway view of the dungeon to know what is where in three dimensions, after all the mins are.

I'll be honest here.  I grabbed this one over all the others because it had lava in it.
5 out of 5 stars


Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Let's Play 1st Ed. Dad!"

Those are the words I heard after I told my boys that 5e was on the way and there were going to be reprints of the 1st Ed AD&D books.

Part of me is thrilled, another part of me is wondering what the hell am I going to do with all the 4e stuff I bought. ;)  You might recall my Big PlanTM was going to be have the kids fight Orcus.

Here are the adventures I am thinking of running with them at the moment.  You will note that these all have a large amount of undead and "horror" themes to them.  As with the "Dragonslayers" I'd run this to level 20 or so.


    • T1 The Village of Hommlet, levels 1-2. 
    • B1 In Search of the Unknown, levels 1-3
    • B2 The Keep on the Borderlands, levels 1-3 (this should be higher really, the caves are a killer)
    • L1 The Secret of Bone Hill, levels 2-4
    • X2 Castle Amber, levels 3-6 
    • I6 Ravenloft, levels 5-7. That is if I don't use it as a convert Ghosts of Albion adventure. Use some of the Ravenloft campaign/world setting stuff here too.
    • I10 Ravenloft II, House on Gryphon Hill, levels 8-10. (maybe)
    • I9 Day of Al'Akbar, level 8-10. Useful for the Cup and Talisman of Al'Akbar.
    • S1 Tomb of Horrors, levels 10-14
    • S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, levels 8-12 (this is an odd one.)
    • G123, Against the Giants, levels 8-12
    • D12 Descent into the Depths of the Earth, levels 9-14
    • D3 Vault of the Drow, levels 10-14
    • Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits, levels 10-14 (maybe)
    • CM2 Death's Ride, levels 15-20. (If I don't use it in my current games. Thematically it fits better here.)
    Then there are these modules:
    • H1 Bloodstone Pass, levels 15+
    • H2 The Mines of Bloodstone, levels 16-18
    • H3 The Bloodstone Wars, levels 17-20
    • H4 The Throne of Bloodstone, levels 18-100
  • Interestingly enough this is almost EXACTLY the same path my characters took when I played back in the day.  Some of these will be my first time running, others (B1, I6) I can run in my sleep.




  • Others I have a bigger issue with.  As muchas I LOVED the D series, we live in a post Drizzt world.  Drow are not the TOS era Romulans anymore.  They are the DS9 era Romulans.  The mystery is gone. Drow are no longer a big secret anymore.  Plus how does Lolth fit into the Orcus plot?  No idea.  She doesn't have too, but I want a big sweeping epic.  Something my kids will talk about when they are older.

  • If I do keep with 4e, I can do my original plan.  In both cases the Big Bad is Orcus.  And I kinda like that idea to be honest.



  • If do 1st Ed I am very likely to include information from JB's B/X Companion Rules and the Rules Cyclopedia to deal with the higher level play.

  • Who knows, maybe 5e will give me the power to use all this stuff under one game system.





  • Of course there is one other option.  Play the 1st ed games as a "Flash back" game or even (gasp!) a time travel one.  The characters (whether 4e or 5e) spend some time in the past.  I would stat up the characters as 1st Ed ones.  I kinda like this idea to be honest.  Play my 4e plan, and then hit some of the past adventures too.  I could then be more selective about which older adventures to use.



  • So many games to play and so little time....
  • My first House Rule

    Ok, maybe not my first one, but one of them any way.

    "You are allowed to name your character after a Lords of the Rings character.  But only once."

    I think we have all done it and then later in life thought "man what was I thinking?".  I had a halfing thief named Bilbo.  My son is in the "regret" stage now with his wizard named "Gandalf".  I told him not to worry that everyone has done it (que a bunch of replies of people saying "I never did!").

    So instead of feeling bad about it I say embrace it.  Own it.
    Galdalf was named after a legendary near-mythical wizard.  With a name like that he was bound for greatness.  Bilbo is a very popular name among halflings, as is Frodo and Sam.

    So here is where I have to ask.  Did anyone name a character after a Tolkien character?

    Sunday, January 29, 2012

    The Dragonslayers vs. The Lost Caverns of the Tsojcanth, Finale

    Last night the Dragonslayers (aka my kids) finished up the Greater Caverns to discover Iggwilv's greatest treasure and fight Drelnza.  I was considering to bring her back, but she was so completely destroyed that I just can't imagine how she would do it.


    The boys did great really, I am very pleased how they played.  I was amazed how well my youngest did.  He figured out the secret of the central doors really fast and had a really good sense of direction.  We used minis of course, but not for the entire dungeon, just the battles.  They got the Lanthorn, the Prison, and all her books of magic.  Everyone leveled up one level.

    Of course the boys had a  great time and we even got to play past bedtime. They woke up today and wanted to get right back into it.  That is the sign of a good adventure.

    Now I need to figure out what the guys are going to do next.  I'd love to move on to the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, but I am anxious to get them to the big battle against Tiamat.

    For that I am considering using the old H4 Throne of Bloodstone, but not sure yet.

    Here are the previous posts in this series.



    Tomorrow. Something special!


    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    The Dragonslayers and the Books of Vile Darkness

    The Dragonslayers are currently wandering around the Greater Caverns of Iggwilv's lair (The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth).

    They have been sent to recover the rumored "Golden Treasure of Iggwilv" which of course is Drelzna.  I am of course keeping all the treasure (Demonomicon, the 6 books, Prison and Lanthorn) but I am also throwing in a copy of the Book of Vile Drakness.

    I have been using the 3.0 version to expand the monster choices in the dungeon, figuring Iggwilv would have bound some demonic creatures to her lair.  Plus, the original S4 introduced a lot of new demons to the 1st Ed Game and the BoVD added more to the 3rd ed game.

    So I picked up the 4th Ed Book of Vile Darkness over the weekend to help buff up what would be in the game world version.

    I have to admit, the 4e one does not compare to either the 3.0 version OR the 4e Demonomicon.
    The 4e version is fine, don't get me wrong, but it lacks the gravitas the 3.0 version had.

    It's not that the 3.0 is more graphic (graphic is not the same thing as useful or good) but it suffers from the basic fact that all the ideas that should be in have already appeared somewhere else.

    I'll use the props that came with the 4e version, and I'll expand the 3.0 version to include the 4e (And really converting between the two systems is not that hard).  I'll use the monsters in the lower levels, espcially if I plan to add on the Thaizdun bits.

    Plus the Dragonslayers need the book because it has a ritual to summon Tiamat.  They are all god characters, and the ritual requires the sacrifice of a "Rainbow Dragon" which at the moment they think is a Chaotic good faerie dragon.  Have not decided about that one yet.  They are just kids afterall.

    Did I get my money's worth for the 4e book?  Yeah, I feel that I did. There are some very neat ideas and some cool things for a 4e game.  Not as much as I would have hoped for though.

    Of course if I use the book in 3e, should I turn around and have it reappear in 4e or 5e?  No idea yet.  Let me get done with 3e first.

    Oh. And my oldest son wants to go back to Mentzer Basic.  It figures really, I have tried to push Moldvay/Cook Basic D&D on him for so long that naturally he would only be interested in the one box I never really pull out.


    Friday, December 23, 2011

    Return of the Dragonslayers

    I got home early from work today and my boys wanted to play some D&D.  Like a good Daddy I agreed.

    We continued going through the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, the Lesser Caverns, and they got to the stairs to the Greater Caverns.  I pulled out my 3.0 version of the Book of Vile Darkness to up the "demonic" content a bit.  I figure that caverns are a stopper for the forces of the Abyss, so the boys are bound to run into the worst types of demonic scum.

    The original adventure had the Greater Caverns were protected by a gorgimera.  Today it was the largest abyssal chimera ever seen (well by them).

    It was a great time today.  Looking forward to the Greater Caverns and the search for Iggwilv's greatest treasure.

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    A Good Toy Goes to War

    Normally Friday night is movie night at Castle Brannan.  We pop up some popcorn, order some Chicago-style pizza and watch what ever new movie is out.  Buying a BluRay disc sight-unseen is still cheaper for us than taking every out to the theater.

    But tonight we are going to do something different.  We are going to try a new game.
    The boys are a little burned out on D&D so I have wanted to try some new games.  I didn't get a chance to play Doctor Who with them last week, but tonight I would like to try out Toy War.

    I picked this up as part of the the Teach Your Kids to Game event this week at DriveThruRPG.

    My boys are at the ages where they have an odd collection of toys.  They still have some older stuffed animals and newer action figures.  This game allows you to take any toy in your house (2-3 per player in fact) and play with them in an RPG.
    Actually reading through the rules I am struck more how they are closer to the War Gaming origins that I would have thought.

    So tonight we are getting out some toys. My oldest has already picked out a small Dalek and my youngest has this giant polar bear and some seals that he got from The Petting Zoo.

    It should be fun.   I'll keep you all posted.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    The Kids Are Alright

    With my wife down from her surgery I have been left to do all the things she does, take care of her and still find the time to squeeze in "my" stuff.
    One thing though (of many) that has taken a hit is my game time.

    I have no idea really if I'll get back to my Pathfinder game; things are just too crazy on the weekends and my regular game with my kids has been hurting.

    My son though REALLY wanted to play.  I couldn't so he sat down on his own and wrote an adventure involving finding a lost King and defeating the monster that took him.  It was simple really but he hit it with enthusiasm.  Remember, all those things we in the older guard consider cliche or even passe are still new to someone.
    He then proceeded to grab my books, roll up some characters (it was a 1st level adventure) and play with his brother and a friend.  They were in my kitchen while I worked so I got to hear it all and answer

    They spent some time looking for equipment, managing their funds and complaining about the high cost of cross-bow arrows in this land.  They heard rumors, interacted with townsfolk and then went on their quest.

    They were attacked by goblins, but found clues that lead them to a treasure trove, the King and a green dragon holding him hostage.  The dragon was a youngling and not very skilled.  The fighter and the thief nearly bought it a couple of times, but they had some help from their retainers.
    The king was returned safe, the gold from the treasure returned to the merchants' families and the King gave them all a reward for bravery and honor.

    Not bad for a few hours of play.  And certainly not bad for their age range (8 to 11).

    So when people are worried about whether kids have the interest in D&D anymore, I have to think of "The Forrest Quest".

    Now good readers.  Can you also ID what version of the D&D game they were all playing?

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    The Dragonslayers vs. The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Part 2

    I have been re-reading the original S4, the original tournament module it was based on and the update Iggwilv's Legacy and something occurred to me.  For a module centered around Iggwilv and her interest in demons, there are surprisingly few demons in this adventure.

    Since I need to up the ante anyway I am thinking that I am going to replace some of the monsters with demons.  It will be one of the last times I'll use demons in a 3.x adventure and I have tons of books on them.  So stirges for example would be replaced by chasme (fly demons), the dao in the greater caverns (the "ante-chamber of the garden of 1001 delights") will be replaced by incubi and succubi.

    I won't go overboard, but I think I have a few good places where I can do this and it will work out well.

    I'll keep you posted.

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    The Dragonslayers vs. The Lost Caverns of the Tsojcanth

    Today the boys wanted to play some D&D for Father's Day.  Really, how could I say no?

    So we wrapped up the last bits of the return from White Plume mountain.  The boys went and visited Crazy Omar to collect their reward.  Omar got Whelm, as he wanted.  They traded Blackrazor for an equally notorious weapon from my world, the crossbow "Bessie Mauler" (yes, yes stolen from the Riftwar Cycle, but to be fair I stole it from my old DM and I had no idea he had stolen from somewhere else).

    I also wanted to point out that they now had a crowd following them wherever they went.  After all they were the heroes that freed the Silver Princes and defeated Dragotha.  They are a long way from The Caves of the Stinky Goblin (the first adventure of the Dragonslayers).  I wanted them to feel like heroes.

    Of course now they are a day's ride to the Horn of Iggwilv.  Omar has told them that great treasure awaits them in Iggwilv's lair.  They are free to keep the spell books, but Omar has his sight on "Iggwilv's Greatest Treasure" something so precious that she "wrapped in in gold".   Well Omar, or the boys yet, don't know that the rumors of the greatest treasure are referring to Drelzna and she is wrapped in gold.  Gold armor to be exact.

    The made it up into the mountains.  They know there is a Gnome kingdom located in the mountains and they have just been abused by a group of Stone Giants tossing boulders at them.

    I have had S4 forever and it is great to finally get a chance to run it.  I am using the original AD&D 1st ed version of this, along with the Iggwilv's Legacy update from WotC from 2007 (no longer online) and will include the Lost Temple of Tharizdun IF it seems like a good idea.  This adventure should take us well into Gen Con.

    There is a blue dragon in this adventure and one in the next one I am planning, Death's Ride.  I am going to make them the same blue dragon.  It would be good to give them a reoccurring enemy.  And who better for the Dragonslayers than the Huge Blue Dragon Korbundar?

    I am not planning on having them run into Iggwilv just yet.  Mostly I am torn on whether or not to make into a witch (one of my versions) or make her into a wizard.  She did study with the Circle of Eight and she does seem to be in every respect a wizard.  The easiest thing to do is cheat and wait till I am running 4e and just make her into a Warlock/Wizard multiclass.  A person of such history would be great to have in my games.  Wilva though is not a do-er, she is a manipulator. She has pawns.  I think this pic sums her up best.


    I still have my Big PlanTM in motion for 4e and Iggwilv is a part of that.  So she is manipulating the Dragonslayers now to get them in place for her take over of the Abyss.  Turns out it will be their kids, but she can wait.

    I just don't know if I can!  I want to play this all now!

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    What's Next for the DragonSlayers?

    I like to read PDFs while running, I feel like I am getting more done that way.  On this weeks's reading list: The Lost Caverns of the Tsojcanth and the 3.5 update Iggwilv's Legacy.

    I loved this module back in the day and I still have my original copy.

    Should be a lot of fun.

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    They didn't kill the Ubues.

    A while back my kids group, the Dragon Slayers, completed an adventure I was calling "Return to the Palace of the Silver Princess".  I used elements of both the "Orange" and "Green" versions (sounds like something I might have bought in Northern Ireland), the Tome of Horrors books and a bunch of other materials.   I turned it from a  low level dungeon crawl to a high-mid level campaign.



    But I am not here to talk about my mad DMing skillz.

    I want to talk about my players, my boys.

    They got to the kitchen area, which is on the second level. They had been through the first level and fought goblins, giant rats, and mutant kobolds all as warm ups. The second level was where Arik's magic was in greater force and there were a couple of beholders floating around and some dwarves that had been turned into orcs and a giant prehistoric were creature that had elements of both bear and wolf (Aliegha*).  The Ubues were up next.  Like many of the creatures I increased their HD and attacks.  Either I multiplied their levels by 3 (which is what I did here) or added 10 levels.

    The kitchen was of course home of the Ubues, and home to the art that got the Orange (or Loyalist, wait wrong orange again) version turned into a collector's item.
    The boys rationalized that the Ubues, being all weird looking but living in the evil glow, were not really evil, but mutated innocent humans.
    So instead of killing them they put them all to sleep (usign one of the sleep spells from my d20 Witch book).  They then moved them all to a room and Locked the door with a spell.

    Now I could have played this by the book and kept them evil monsters.  I didn't, I like their idea so much I decided it was the truth.  In fact each Ubue was in fact three servants merged into one creature and that had driven them a little mad.  Also by the book rules would have also said they did not get an experience points for this "encounter" I gave them full XP.  I decided that since they did in fact defeat them and caused them not to be a threat anymore then they deserved full XP.

    I am pleased with what the boys did and glad they were less bloodthirsty than others.

    *Coming back to this, they did kill Aliegha.  In the Orange version she was a werebear and in the Green she was a werewolf.  Since I had already had the dwarves (orange) mutating into orcs (green), I had Aliegha mutating into were creature that was somewhere between bear and wolf.  I had just finished reading "Frostbiten" by Kelley Armstrong and I had been curious about the prehistoric Amphicyonidae (Bear-dog) since a trip to the Natural History Museum.  I figure she was changing into some creature that was the ancestor of the "modern" werewolf and werebears.  They did kill her, but now I kinda wish she had gotten away.  She would have made an interesting character.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    ...here there be dragons...

    School is winding down for my little guys and that means the summer of no school, no homework and no reading right?

    Wrong!

    You can't be the kid of an educator and not expect something.  But this time it was my son that surprised me.  I was talking with him the other day and he wants to write a book, and not just any book.  He wants to write one on dragons.
     
    Liam has been playing D&D now for years.  He loves dragons and has read dozens of books on them and of course he is the original Dragonslayer in my games.  

    We talked and I talked with teacher, so this summer Liam will be writing his first book, "Here There Be Dragons".  There will be stats, histories and all sorts of goodies about dragons.  He wants to do it all for Pathfinder and maybe 4e.  I also suggested doing it for OSRIC and Basic era games too.

    He wants spells, prestige classes and even has come up with some very specialized dragon hunting weapons including the dragon hunter's spear ("Because getting close enough to a dragon to use a sword is stupid.")

    I will be doing the layout and editing, but all the ideas will be his.

    The best part?

    We are going to make the book available to everyone.

    I don't know all the details yet.  But expect a book of dragons coming from us sometime later in the summer.

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    The Dragonslayers vs White Plume Mountain, Part 4 Final

    I was feeling a little sick over the weekend.  Caught whatever my son had caught and only ate crackers for lunch.  So my boys asked if we could finish WPM.  I had a bunch of material worked out for the final part, combining the 2nd Ed. Adventure Dragotha's Lair and the WMP Web Enhancement Outside the Mountain.  Since I wasn't feeling well I reduced Dragotha's Lair to a smaller area and removed many of the (redundant) undead.

    They battled the Effrit on their way out of the mountain and he was quickly dispatched by couple of cones of cold.  Dragotha did carry off the wizard, but a well rolled concentration check and a quick teleport spell the wizard was safe.

    I kept the Hag, Thingazzard and had her using my own 3.0 rules for witches and she provided a good hazard on the way to Cave of Bones.

    The Dragonslayers fought Dragotha in the end, taking some pretty serious damage almost loosing one of their elemental sorcerers. But in the end they triumphed. They collected the next part they needed, the Red Dragon tooth, and there are odd notes in Thingazzard's Book of Shadows about the Horn of Iggwilv and an item that might be what they need.

    All in all the boys did good despite my general lack of energy.  They may have gotten off a touch easier than they should have, so to compensate the amount of magic is not as great.  Everyone managed to go up a level so next time we will decide what those levels will be.  Liam wants his wizard to take a level of fighter so he can use the cool new flaming sword he found.  I also suggested Bard.

    Next up, into the deeps as the Dragonslayers enter the gnome vale and find The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.
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