Saturday, October 31, 2009

Worling's Magic Items

For fans of the famous wizardess of the British Isles:

Hand of Pilfering

Any lit candle placed into this dried, shriveled, and clenched humanoid fist will provide illumination as would a normal candle to only the person holding the hand. Anyone else will see the candle go out and no illumination provided. Prized by human thieves and owlish wizards and alchemists.

Mirror of Enemy Detection

This mirror will show its owner’s possible enemies (oppositely aligned creatures) within a 100’ radius. The images will be blurry or sharp depending on how far away the enemy is - in the case of multiple types of enemies, the images will rotate through a gallery of them, pausing a few seconds on each.

Light Snuffer

A candle snuffer that can extinguish sources of light at a distance, it's used as a wand, has a range of 100’, and can effect up to one dozen separate non-magical (ie. torch, lantern) light sources at a time once per day.

Teleportation Powder

Effects per the spell but usable by up to three individuals simultaneously, this powder is thrown onto a large fire which is then stepped into as the powder causes the flames to momentarily shoot up and produce a prodigious amount of green smoke. Often a magic item of last resort, in order for the teleportation to work, a saving throw must be made. Those who fail will not teleport and will take fire damage accordingly.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Homegrown Chinese Monster

The Telegraph reports:

Stunned farmer Zheng Dexun dug up a crop of fleeceflower, or Chinese knotweed, and found one shaped like a person, in Langzhong, China. The eerie-looking plant, measuring 62 centimetres tall, has clearly defined arms, legs, and head. Zheng said: "I don't know whether it is good or bad to dig out a Chinese knotweed that looks like a human. I'd better put it back in the earth!"

Just another few weeks and I imagine this thing would have dug its own way out.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

S&W Index Card Sized PC Sheet PDF: Latest Iteration

I'm always messing with these, here's the latest version, which I'm too lazy to reformat from the 3x5" index card format to a proper 4x6" (we just zoom the image when printing to 4x6's)... Get it better quality PDF (with reverse side equipment etc.) here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Street D&D: Market & Powell in San Francisco

King of RPGs posts pictures of their recent street D&D game. There's a slideshow here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Game Play Journal: A Shell Game

Tonight was the first time Nick and I have been able to play our one on one game in weeks due to illness. Since we haven't played in so long and have a new party, we figured we'd test drive Swords & Wizardry instead of playing Labyrinth Lord. His party of a thief and dwarf met up with three others (including the chaotic cleric Agnal) outside of a town's pallisade entrance and agreed to join each other. The other two with Agnal were Snits, the beautiful female elf, and Berk, a very unremarkable fighter.

There was the usual wandering around a new town, getting their bearings, finding the fletcher and arms shop, grocer, general store, tavern, etc. It dawned on the thief that he was at the lowest point in his life, as he had only 5 silver pieces, no job, no real friends, and no prospects in this strange town. He enthusiastically brought out three nut shells for a quick attempt at some gambling/swindling by sleight of hand in the tavern - perhaps a bit naively considering it was breakfast time, and the tavern consisted of a total of nine individuals (five of whom were party members, one of whom was the serving woman/wife of the proprieter, and the others were travelling merchants with whom Agnal, Snits, and Berk had hitched a ride the night before).

Nick's role playing can be very entertaining to listen to, particularly his high fantasy speech, and he's very content to converse at length with NPCs. However, today the merchants avoided eye contact upon recognizing that they were being solicited. Fortunately the dice ruled that Berk was suckered into Wagstaff the thief's shell game.

At this point, I realized that Nick thought that this sleight of hand thievery ought be very easy for him to accomplish. He let Berk find the nut the first time, then tried to double the money and secret it away - my problem was in trying to determine the probability of success here and I didn't want to just rule that he succeeded, lest an easy money precedent be set. We're using a combination of Skathros' thief and Dyson Logos' 2d6 thief skills. As there's no sleight of hand skill, I thought of using a DEX check but figured this was more complicated than that (it would have required training to perform as an adequate illusion on a regular basis). The closest thing seemed to be pick pockets, but even that didn't seem right since in the case of picking pockets, you are (hopefully) not being directly observed and scrutinized. I decided to offer Nick the option of trading his pick pockets skill for this shell game business, assuming that he'd have had to practice it and that it was a general sleight of hand skill and not just moving shells. He was fine with this, and using his DEX modifier, was able to successfully hide the nut and earn a single silver piece from his comrade in arms. Eesh.

He has a job prospect as a rat catcher though, so the thief's upbeat for the moment.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A God for Agnal?

As I mentioned earlier, I've asked Agnal's player (Nick) for an idea for a potential deity for his chaotic cleric. We've decided that as we're playing that clerics get no spells until 2nd level, they haven't committed to a deity before then and are really more like mystics. Achieving second level, they have an epiphany, choose a god, and are given magical ability. I like this approach as it allows players to immerse themselves in the campaign setting before fully settling on a religious identity for their characters.

While waiting for a response I came up with the following option for Nick if he prefers not to devise his own at this time. Some broad brushstrokes here, but I like the idea that it could lead to a tie-in with Mutant Future at some point in the future.
Skapeses - (skāpˌsēz) “The Anti-Shepherd”

Appearing as a wandering, diseased, or malnourished goat shepherd, Skapeses moves back and forth between a possible future Zirthus and the present. He is always accompanied by what appear to be (2d12) goats - These goats have had a permanent illusion spell cast on them to appear normal, but are actually a more intelligent variation of spidergoats (a la Mutant Future) - [AC 6, HD 4, ATK 1 (Gore, Kick, or Bite), DMG 2d4, 2d6, or 1d4, Save F12]. In addition, each of Skapeses’ attendant spidergoats can daily cast Bestow Curse as well as Web.

Skapeses and his followers sow confusion, doubt, and chaos. To amuse himself, he will often sell his goats to shepherds and farmers, or to travelers on the road as sources of food. These goats will always try to first secretly kill and eat other livestock and eventually move on to do the same to their human or demi-human keepers. If they accomplish this, they’ll then call upon Skapeses for their return via Teleportation.

Clerics who choose his worship are expected to follow the example of Skapeses’ spidergoats - Their ultimate goal should be to gain the trust of a community (especially a religious one) and subvert it in every way, eventually murdering the leaders and ideally making it look like the work of someone else.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Most Halloween Appropriate D&D Monster, Lest We Forget

I would offer this pumpkin headed depiction of the venerable Bugbear, from the 1975 Greyhawk supplement (page 67), as my suggestion for the most "Halloweeny" D&D monster. A far cry from the creature depicted in the 1e Monster Manual.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chaosium Releases "Classic Fantasy" Supplement to BRP

"Classic Fantasy" is a return to the dawn of roleplaying, when you would gather with your friends in your parent’s basement, bashing down doors, slaying hordes of orcs and goblins, and throwing yet another +1 sword in your bag of holding. In these early days of roleplaying, what eight giants are doing in a 10’x10’ room was less important than what their treasure rating was, and rescuing the beautiful princess isn’t something you did because it was morally right, but because of the 1000 gold piece reward. And finally, the adventures that didn’t have to be anymore detailed then “some giants are raiding the border settlements let’s kill em”, are the adventures you and your group still talk about to this day."

I've never played any Chaosium games and only bought the Basic Role Playing and Call of Cthulu rules books in the last year, but based on these two books I have a lot of curiosity about this new Classic Fantasy "monograph". Chaosium's having a 30% off sale, and if I hadn't already exceeded my monthly RPG budget I'd probably jump on this...Seems like it might be a good deal at 196 pages and the sale price of $20.97 (sale ends Nov. 1st).

If that interests you, there's also the two free FRPG's at - Fire & Sword and the SRD edition of the Mongoose Runequest rules.

Old School label? Well, it's described as "...An homage to the classic dungeon delve and the following games were inspirational in its design, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition, The Fantasy Trip, Tunnels & Trolls, and of course, RuneQuest 1st and 2nd edition."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wherein I Discover Some Nice Maps Hiding Inside A Rolled Up Battlemat

So there were a few mostly unexamined items I acquired as part of the Craigslist find some time ago. Some of these were large battlemats (something I’ve never used before). These were rolled up, and now that it’s been nearly two months since I got them, the other day I unrolled one and discovered to my surprise the following:

The World of Greyhawk Box Set’s two maps, very carefully lined up and laminated by the previous owner. There aren’t even any thumbtack holes in the corners.. Nice! Funny thing is, I had opened that box, and was disappointed to discover that the maps were missing. I then went and bought a complete box with maps, combined the best parts of the two boxes, and sold the one with missing maps. Then I find this. Still, very pleased and am slightly tempted to use them even though I’ve been plotting out a homebrew campaign setting for some time now. What to do. Maybe I should just put them up on the wall in the office...seems a shame to keep them hidden away somewhere all rolled up.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

iRobot's ChemBot

I saw this on Slashdot the other day and immediately thought of various slimes and jelly monsters in D&D, as well as something that one might encounter in Gamma World or Mutant Future.

Check out this video (shown "walking" towards the end):

Obviously there's a long way to go before this thing matures to the point of being useful...but the possibilities are kind of scary. The shapeshifting Terminator comes to mind among other things -it's not surprising that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Army Research Office are funding its development.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pirates: Beware Wizards of the Coast

The AP reports:

"Two of eight people accused in lawsuits of illegally distributing Dungeons & Dragons handbooks over the Internet have settled, and the maker of the pioneering role-playing game is seeking a default judgment against a third.

In one of three lawsuits brought by Wizards of the Coast LLC, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc., U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly on Friday accepted a settlement in wh">In a settlement accepted by Zilly in July in a second Wizards lawsuit, Arthur Le of San Jose, Calif., agreed to pay $100,000 to the Hasbro Inc. subsidiary.

Wizards has asked the judge to order that Le's co-defendant, Mike Becker of Bartlesville, Okla., pay $30,000 in damages and $14,616.75 in legal fees and costs. Becker has not responded to the lawsuit and was found in default in July, court filings show." More.

That's a lot of money - and probably unrealistic to believe that those 2600 downloads each would have translated into a $40 hard copy sale equaling slightly over $100,000 in sales. Even with the correct price of $34.95, this is a PDF file we're talking about. This seems like a great business practice - don't offer download purchases of your products, just sue when they're downloaded. How long were the files up on anyhow? It seems like there might have been better oversight considering the amount of downloads made - surely a flag could have been raised to at least check up on what was using that kind of bandwidth. Assuming conservatively it was a 10mb download that's 25gb of data if I did my math right. What are they, in cohoots with WotC, or just grossly negligent?

Maybe next we'll see RIAA-like tactics with peer to peer file sharing lawsuits. Except in the case of WoTC, it looks like their bottom line might actually be better served. I don't condone piracy, and I've wondered if, like the music industry, WoTC would be better off selling electronic versions of their products (or rather, going back to doing so). Considering these lawsuit amounts, maybe not!

Update: Just to add some more speculation, presumably (WotC's ex-Brand Manager) Scott Rouse's very recent departure from the company has nothing to do with this, but if I'd been in his position, based on the PR disaster the music biz suffered as a result of its lawsuits, it would definitely have encouraged me to leave if they're even considering going after individual downloaders.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Tavern Graffiti: The Purple Worm Limerick

Bursting through the tavern door
"The purple worm is no more!"
So said the paladin...
But between sips of gin,
"I beg to differ" said the whore.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Collaborative Campaign World Design

The evil cleric Agnal has no god. That is, we jumped into game play before ever bothering to sort it out, and then the character got ejected from the party (and the game) once his evil nature was discovered. Later, nearly the whole party was killed, new characters were rolled up, and perhaps to bring the aborted Agnal back into play, all the characters were made neutral or evil.

I’d like to make Agnal a larger plot force and was thinking of asking his player if he’d like to design his own deity for Agnal to use. There seems so much rich role playing material that is underutilized when it comes to clerics and their relationships with their dieties - perhaps part of the reason for this is the whole supermarket approach to god selection that most people seem to use.

After considering all of the benefits of this particular approach, it quickly dawned on me that there was no reason to stop with just clerics and deity selection - why not really open up the campaign world creation process so that it was much more collaborative overall? Obviously this happens in the course of play as the actions of the PCs inform the world - but I’m talking here about even before the PCs enter the picture. Geography, races, religion, culture - all of these can be created along with the players. Of course it won’t be for everyone, some are not going to have the time or interest, but I would imagine particularly with more experienced players it might be met with enthusiam. A side effect is that the role of DM becomes potentially something that can be shifted from person to person in the playing group more easily since we’re all playing in each others’ world that much more.

Practically, how would this look? One option would be to draw up rules that would outline the collaborative creation process, step by step, and give each participant a turn in contributing a part (reminding me again of my earlier thoughts on Exquisite Corpses). Knowing I'm not the first to have thought of this approach, I first turned up this interesting DM handout proposal, and then discovered N. Bob Pesall’s “Dawn of Worlds” game, which is exactly what I’d been hoping someone had already developed. I haven’t yet tried it out, but if nothing else it’s a great road map for potentially creating our own rules with the same purpose in mind, perhaps utilizing them with an online white board and wiki, or even Google Wave.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Korgoth of Barbaria and Conan: Red Nails

Sniderman at the GG forums brought this gem to my attention. Must see viewing, although discretion is advised...
Korgoth of Barbaria - Pilot

June|Bug|MySpace Videos

I'm curious to see if Conan: Red Nails will be any good, that is if it ever gets released. I think it's been in "post production" status for years now. Or did I just miss it somehow?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I'm taking a break from any posting until I get over this illness I've been fighting for weeks now - maybe the respiratory specialist I'm seeing tomorrow will help. "Fight On!" as they say...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tavern Graffiti: Two Limericks

The last time I stayed at the Ruddy Angel Lodge, I noticed these two limericks carved into the restroom's walls. If you're easily offended, it's probably best that you don''t read them...

The Scary Halfling

The Weird Dwarf

Reading and sharing those two terrible works with my fellow adventurers back at the bar, we all swore an oath to drink copious amounts of ale on a more regular basis in order to find our muses and resurrect the lost art of the limerick.

Disclaimer: Ok, I've been sick lately and I guess it's showing...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Zombie RPGs

I'm a huge fan of zombie films (actually, the last movie I saw at a theater was the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead), and I've been meaning to try out a zombie rpg sometime. I saved a link a little while back intending to research the genre some more...In case you missed it, here's Tim Bannock's excellent Complete List of Zombie RPGs post on There's still plenty of time to learn some rules, roll up some characters, and create an adventure for prospective Halloween party players - personally I'm favoring the All Flesh Must Be Eaten Demo kit at the moment.