Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Adventure Week: The Temple of the Serpent Queen

The Temple of the Serpent Queen
 Today's adventure is the eagerly anticipated adventure from The Danger Forge. If you have been on Facebook in any of the old-school groups, you have seen postings from The Danger Forge. I don't know much about them personally, but they seem to have a genuine love for all sorts of old-school style play.  And it seems, they have done their homework.

TQ1: The Temple of the Serpent Queen

This is their first adventure and you can get four different versions of it. I bought all four because I wanted to see the differences and how much work they put into making them different for the specific rules.

All four are largely the same and have only minor differences based on their OSR rules set of choice. All four are available as PDF and POD options.

It doesn't really matter which one you grab. Get the one for the rule system you are most comfortable with. 

While this is a great way to give people what they want, it also splits their sales among four different titles, making it harder for them to get a "Best Seller" medal. However, it will tell them which ruleset sells better for them.  

I am going to review all four as one. 

This adventure centers around the reawakening of Khaliassa, the ancient Serpent Queen of lost Samarra. She is a compelling NPC/Foe so building the adventure around was a good start.

Khaliassa

The adventure is 56 pages with maps (in proper Old-School blue), License declarations, and covers. The covers are full color, and the interior art is black & white. Designed for 4 to 6 characters of 5th to 7th level.

The adventure is divided into four chapters, roughly a chapter for each major location. There is some background, largely background on Khaliassa and her realm. Other than that, this adventure can be dropped into just about any campaign that has a rainforest-like environment. 

This adventure also includes plenty of new monsters, new magic, some NPCs to add to the adventure, and pre-generated characters.

The adventure itself is a simple affair. Someone has awakened an angry demi-goddess, and now she wants to rise to power again. There is even a neat little mechanic for much more powerful she gets as time goes on.

This one hits all the nostalgia buttons. 

The art is good, but the layout and presentation are excellent. The Danger Forge knows when to invoke nostalgia and when not to be a slave to it. 

Khaliassa reminds me of Shahmaran from Turkish myth, and I think I see some subtle hints that this is what The Danger Forge was going for, albeit an evil version. 

The adventure is fun and can be run in a couple of longer sessions, to be honest. If this is their first then The Danger Forge is off to a great start.

How I Plan to Use This

I have to admit when I first saw I thought I might be able to slot it in as a potential adventure for War of the Witch Queens, but the more I read it I had other ideas.

Deserts of Desolation & Death

My Deserts of Desolation & Death, the second act of the Second Campaign, is one I have been thinking about a lot lately. This would fit in perfectly between I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City and I3 Pharaoh. Maybe as a companion adventure to I2 Tomb of the Lizard King. I can see the Lizard King and the Serpent Queen in a centuries long war. 

Considering how I am converting my "Second Campaign" over to Castles & Crusades, this would fit in just fine.

Now. Do I print it out to put in my Second Campaign binder, or do I buy a POD?

Monday, July 22, 2024

Dracula, The Hunters' Journals: 22 July Log of the Demeter (Cont)

 More log of the ill-fated Demeter.

Dracula - The Hunters' Journals


22 July.—Rough weather last three days, and all hands busy with sails—no time to be frightened. Men seem to have forgotten their dread. Mate cheerful again, and all on good terms. Praised men for work in bad weather. Passed Gibralter and out through Straits. All well.

 

Notes

Moon Phase: Waning Crescent

Calm before the storm?


Adventure Week: Faerie Tales (Quest of the Ancients)

Quest of the Ancients: Faerie Tales
I wrapped up two big projects last week and turned in my final draft of my materials for Thirteen Parsecs. So my schedule is back to being open. This week I am going to focus on a few adventures I have recently acquired and how I might use them.  Today is a rather special one.

Quest of the Ancients: Faerie Tales

Today's adventure was a bit of a surprise. I have been playing around with Quest of the Ancients recently, I was talking with QotA creator Vince Garcia and I bought a new core rules book from him for my son to use. I also picked up one of the last pieces for my collection, the adventure anthology Faerie Tales

I have to admit I had not had any plans for it until I began to read through it. Now I am really happy to have it.

The anthology consists of three small adventures and three longer ones.

Black Shuck (1st to 3rd level) is a "pocket" adventure featuring the black dog of English folklore and myth. It is a smaller adventure and one that can easily be dropped in anywhere. The PCs must get across a swamp (or a wet moor as I plan to use it) and avoid the demonic hound.

Dreamspinner's Art Gallery (Any level) introduces the party to one Islay's (the realm of QotA) powerful witches. She is a 15th level artistic witch and the adventure has a lot of flexibility to use as the starting point for plenty of other adventures. 

Hot Sands (3rd to 5th level) is our last pocket adventure and takes place in a desert. 

The Witch's Tower (1st to 4th level) deals with the return of witch that had been bound to her tower. The first of the three longer adventures.

The Star Splinter (4th to 5th level) is the second of the three longer adventures dealing with an ancient meteor. 

Belshazzar's Music Show (Any level) deals with a travelling music show that is more than meets the eye.

Every adventure comes with detailed NPCs and new monsters.  There is even a three-page writer's guideline in the back for people who want to write for QotA.

The adventures are not Earth-shaking, but they are fun and I am happy to have them. Converting them to say OSR-style D&D is such a non-issue that at one point, I forgot I was reading something designed for a different game. There are charts in back to help with this.

Quest of the Ancients

How I Plan to Use These

I have been thinking a lot about adventures lately. I have a few I want to get done for various projects/publishers, and a few I want to run.

War of the Witch Queens

A lot of these are perfect for my War of the Witch Queens. I feel like I need to include something from Vince in that campaign. I did a little with DL15 Mists of Krynn, but these are a better fit. In particualr I want to include Dreamspinner's Art Gallery and The Witch's Tower as a single adventure arc.  Black Shuck could fit in there are well. 

Deserts of Desolation & Death

My Deserts of Desolation & Death, the second act of the Second Campaign, is one I have been thinking about a lot lately. Hot Sands helps me fill in some gaps.

I am sure I can find homes for the other adventures as well. 

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Dracula, The Hunters' Journals: 20 July Dr. Seward's Diary (kept on phonograph)

Dr. Seward keeps us apprised of his patient. Has he made a new discovery?

Dracula - The Hunters' Journals


20 July.—Visited Renfield very early, before the attendant went his rounds. Found him up and humming a tune. He was spreading out his sugar, which he had saved, in the window, and was manifestly beginning his fly-catching again; and beginning it cheerfully and with a good grace. I looked around for his birds, and not seeing them, asked him where they were. He replied, without turning round, that they had all flown away. There were a few feathers about the room and on his pillow a drop of blood. I said nothing, but went and told the keeper to report to me if there were anything odd about him during the day.

 

11 a. m.—The attendant has just been to me to say that Renfield has been very sick and has disgorged a whole lot of feathers. “My belief is, doctor,” he said, “that he has eaten his birds, and that he just took and ate them raw!”

 

11 p. m.—I gave Renfield a strong opiate to-night, enough to make even him sleep, and took away his pocket-book to look at it. The thought that has been buzzing about my brain lately is complete, and the theory proved. My homicidal maniac is of a peculiar kind. I shall have to invent a new classification for him, and call him a zoöphagous (life-eating) maniac; what he desires is to absorb as many lives as he can, and he has laid himself out to achieve it in a cumulative way. He gave many flies to one spider and many spiders to one bird, and then wanted a cat to eat the many birds. What would have been his later steps? It would almost be worth while to complete the experiment. It might be done if there were only a sufficient cause. Men sneered at vivisection, and yet look at its results to-day! Why not advance science in its most difficult and vital aspect—the knowledge of the brain? Had I even the secret of one such mind—did I hold the key to the fancy of even one lunatic—I might advance my own branch of science to a pitch compared with which Burdon-Sanderson’s physiology or Ferrier’s brain-knowledge would be as nothing. If only there were a sufficient cause! I must not think too much of this, or I may be tempted; a good cause might turn the scale with me, for may not I too be of an exceptional brain, congenitally?

How well the man reasoned; lunatics always do within their own scope. I wonder at how many lives he values a man, or if at only one. He has closed the account most accurately, and to-day begun a new record. How many of us begin a new record with each day of our lives?

To me it seems only yesterday that my whole life ended with my new hope, and that truly I began a new record. So it will be until the Great Recorder sums me up and closes my ledger account with a balance to profit or loss. Oh, Lucy, Lucy, I cannot be angry with you, nor can I be angry with my friend whose happiness is yours; but I must only wait on hopeless and work. Work! work!

If I only could have as strong a cause as my poor mad friend there—a good, unselfish cause to make me work—that would be indeed happiness.


Notes

Moon Phase: Waning Crescent

Seward is getting a little ahead of himself here, but that is understandable. Every doctor, at one time or another, thinks they have a case that will blow apart our understanding of medical or brain science. 

In the movies, Bram Stoker's Dracula in particular, this is also explained by the fact that Seward was also taking opiates. An almost unnecessary addition, really. You spend enough time working with, and around the mentally ill you begin to lose track of what is normal. 

In any case, Renfield's own experiments seem to be at an impasse. He can eat flies and spiders, but birds make him sick. That means there is at least one Little Old Lady that is better at this than he is.  Now, there is a chilling thought.

Friday, July 19, 2024

Dracula, The Hunters' Journals: 19 July Dr. Seward's Diary (kept on phonograph)

Dr. Seward keeps us apprised of his patient and things are getting more dangerous.

Dracula - The Hunters' Journals


19 July.—We are progressing. My friend has now a whole colony of sparrows, and his flies and spiders are almost obliterated. When I came in he ran to me and said he wanted to ask me a great favour—a very, very great favour; and as he spoke he fawned on me like a dog. I asked him what it was, and he said, with a sort of rapture in his voice and bearing:—

“A kitten, a nice little, sleek playful kitten, that I can play with, and teach, and feed—and feed—and feed!” I was not unprepared for this request, for I had noticed how his pets went on increasing in size and vivacity, but I did not care that his pretty family of tame sparrows should be wiped out in the same manner as the flies and the spiders; so I said I would see about it, and asked him if he would not rather have a cat than a kitten. His eagerness betrayed him as he answered:—

“Oh, yes, I would like a cat! I only asked for a kitten lest you should refuse me a cat. No one would refuse me a kitten, would they?” I shook my head, and said that at present I feared it would not be possible, but that I would see about it. His face fell, and I could see a warning of danger in it, for there was a sudden fierce, sidelong look which meant killing. The man is an undeveloped homicidal maniac. I shall test him with his present craving and see how it will work out; then I shall know more.

 

10 p. m.—I have visited him again and found him sitting in a corner brooding. When I came in he threw himself on his knees before me and implored me to let him have a cat; that his salvation depended upon it. I was firm, however, and told him that he could not have it, whereupon he went without a word, and sat down, gnawing his fingers, in the corner where I had found him. I shall see him in the morning early.

 

Notes

Moon Phase: Waning Crescent

Renfield is progressing to larger and "higher" life-forms. Seward sees this as a progression towards homicidal mania, and he is not too far off, both in terms of the story and real-world psychology.

We know that many serial killers progress from harming animals to later humans. Not that all who harm animals will be serial killers, some are just assholes, but most serial killers start out this way. 

Kickstart Your Weekend: The Mosidian Temple: D&D 5th Edition Conversion

 I just turned in my last bit of content for Thirteen Parsecs and finished up two other projects, so I am back at it today.  Almost.  I wanted to get you some reviews up of some adventures I bought recently, but time ran out. I'll do them next week. Make a week of it I think! 

One of the adventures I am going to review is David Flor's The Mosidian Temple. In the meantime, he is running a Kickstarter for the 5th Edition version of it and it is worth checking out.

The Mosidian Temple: D&D 5th Edition Conversion

The Mosidian Temple: D&D 5th Edition Conversion

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dlimedia/the-mosidian-temple-dandd-5th-edition-conversion?ref=theotherside

Like many of us, David Flor wrote D&D adventures as a kid. He happened to save this one, and honestly, from what I have read of it so far, it is a lot of fun.

This is the 5e conversion, so perfect for when the new Player's Handbook drops in a bit. 

It's fun. It's nostalgic, and you help out an independent publisher. 

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Dracula, The Hunters' Journals: 18 July Log of the Demeter

Log of the ill-fated Demeter.

Dracula - The Hunters' Journals


18 July.Varna to Whitby.

Written 18 July, things so strange happening, that I shall keep accurate note henceforth till we land.

 

On 6 July we finished taking in cargo, silver sand and boxes of earth. At noon set sail. East wind, fresh. Crew, five hands ... two mates, cook, and myself (captain).

 

On 11 July at dawn entered Bosphorus. Boarded by Turkish Customs officers. Backsheesh. All correct. Under way at 4 p. m.

 

On 12 July through Dardanelles. More Customs officers and flagboat of guarding squadron. Backsheesh again. Work of officers thorough, but quick. Want us off soon. At dark passed into Archipelago.

 

On 13 July passed Cape Matapan. Crew dissatisfied about something. Seemed scared, but would not speak out.

 

On 14 July was somewhat anxious about crew. Men all steady fellows, who sailed with me before. Mate could not make out what was wrong; they only told him there was something, and crossed themselves. Mate lost temper with one of them that day and struck him. Expected fierce quarrel, but all was quiet.

 

On 16 July mate reported in the morning that one of crew, Petrofsky, was missing. Could not account for it. Took larboard watch eight bells last night; was relieved by Abramoff, but did not go to bunk. Men more downcast than ever. All said they expected something of the kind, but would not say more than there was something aboard. Mate getting very impatient with them; feared some trouble ahead.

 

On 17 July, yesterday, one of the men, Olgaren, came to my cabin, and in an awestruck way confided to me that he thought there was a strange man aboard the ship. He said that in his watch he had been sheltering behind the deck-house, as there was a rain-storm, when he saw a tall, thin man, who was not like any of the crew, come up the companion-way, and go along the deck forward, and disappear. He followed cautiously, but when he got to bows found no one, and the hatchways were all closed. He was in a panic of superstitious fear, and I am afraid the panic may spread. To allay it, I shall to-day search entire ship carefully from stem to stern.

 

Later in the day I got together the whole crew, and told them, as they evidently thought there was some one in the ship, we would search from stem to stern. First mate angry; said it was folly, and to yield to such foolish ideas would demoralise the men; said he would engage to keep them out of trouble with a handspike. I let him take the helm, while the rest began thorough search, all keeping abreast, with lanterns: we left no corner unsearched. As there were only the big wooden boxes, there were no odd corners where a man could hide. Men much relieved when search over, and went back to work cheerfully. First mate scowled, but said nothing.

 

Notes

Moon Phase: Waning Crescent

Something is going on aboard the doomed ship Demeter.  I have not watched "The Last Voyage of the Demeter" yet (I know, I am behind) so it will be interesting to see how it fits with the novel.