Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Capricorn and Aries, Hanging out Playing Aquarius

A quick game's winning "hand" pictured above.

My wife and I are taking it easy, getting ready for "church" (what we call going out for sushi, begging your pardon if need be) with some cocktails and playing a little card game I picked up at the FLGS called Aquarius. I'm pretty sure it was Timeshadows that mentioned this on her blog quite a while back - I mentally bookmarked it and only got around to buying it recently. It's very simple and pretty fun, the cards' graphics are very clean and eye pleasing. 'The one with the longest hair goes first.'

Monday, March 29, 2010

Eight Magic Torches

There are some players who will scoop up just about anything underground that seems useful. I'm usually one of them, but sometimes it's not wise to fool with Mother Dungeon...

Torch of Pointing

Although normal sized, this torch only illuminates 5’ in diameter when held upright. When pointed, it works as a spotlight, allowing the illumination of an area about 3 feet in diameter and 100 feet away. Although detail may not be able to be seen at such a distance, any such light will be brightly reflected from the eyes of any creatures with the ability to see in the dark, also marking them as potential missile weapon targets.

Stinking Torch:

A Stinking Torch functions normally for a turn before suddenly spewing out large smoky clouds of noxious yellow vapors in a 10’ radius. This causes d4 hp of damage to anyone in range (saving throw allowed), but otherwise should be treated as per the 2nd level magic user spell “Stinking Cloud”.

Hungry Torch:

This magically cursed torch consumes the rations of anyone within its area of illumination. It does so at a rate of 5 rations per turn (and will burn for 12 turns). Food directly illuminated by the light from such a torch will change in appearance to become hazy as if exuding heat before disappearing entirely - and be consumed at the rate of 5 rations per round. Anyone touching disappearing food will be burned and unable to hold onto it (or 1 hp/round of damage if it’s attempted), although this heat will not cause anything else to ignite.

Inextinguishable Torch:

This torch is otherwise normal but will burn for 24 hours straight and is completely inextinguishable, burning underwater, under extreme wind, or any other physical circumstance. It can be put out with a Dispel Magic spell (but may be relit and reused for as much time that remains from its initial use) or counteracted with a Darkness spell.

Black Cat Torch

D6 rounds after being lit, this cursed torch will begin brightly sparking, emanating extremely loud bangs and a great deal of smoke (treat as 2nd level Magic User spell “Pyrotechnics”).

Cowardly Torch:

This torch burns a very long time (12 hours) but immediately extinguishes itself if exposed to typical combat noise (such as weapons colliding against each other or armor).

Molasses Torch:

Anything within this torch's area of illumination will suffer movement and attacks at half speed, no saving throw allowed. If the entire party is within range, they won't notice anything out of the ordinary.

Torch of Blunting:

Any edged weaponry exposed to the light provided by this long lasting (six hour) torch will become dulled and -2 to hit/damage for the duration. Close examination of such weaponry (studied cleaning or sharpening) will reveal that no reflection in their metal can be seen in this torch's light. Otherwise it provides normal illumination.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Keep Finding Rings

In the last couple of years, I’ve found four rings while just walking in the neighborhood within a few blocks of my house. At the moment I can only find three of them in my office (I usually lasso lead miniatures with them underneath my monitor). Seems like a fairly high number of rings to find by chance, no? The last one was just a couple of days ago, the most beat up one so far, possibly from a set of overlapping rings and apparently having been driven over. I’ve never looked at these very closely but it appears the heavier one here is 14k white gold, now that the photo has brought it out. I’ve never put these on of course, fearing they might be cursed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Werewolf Limerick

There once was a werewolf from Dyvers
Who looked on the bright side of his curse:
"It's true I eat babies -
But I don't have rabies!
I mean, it could always be worse."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

FLGS Score: Miniatures at Ancient Wonders in Tualatin, Oregon

I made my third ever trip to Ancient Wonders in Tualatin earlier this week. I have to head up to Portland on business several times a year and it’s not far out of my way. It’s a great store, with a lot of 1st and 2nd edition D&D books and modules. The prices range a bit, but are pretty much in line with what you can expect to buy them for on eBay (versus scoring a lucky auction win), although you’ll save on shipping and have the advantage of being able to examine the merchandise beforehand. I’ve been slowly replacing my long lost 1e module collection, but this time due to the aforementioned budget cuts, I only picked up two of them. I chose N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God and U1 The Sinister Secret of Salt Marsh.

On checking out, one of the owners asked if I’d found everything I wanted, to which I replied that my only problem had been narrowing down my choices. Then I asked if he had any old lead for sale, like 25mm preslotta stuff from Grenadier or Ral Partha. He said that he couldn’t sell any of that any longer due to regulations having to do with the lead content. But he asked me to hold on a minute while he looked in back to see if he had “any weird stuff”. He came back with a box of old Heritage 25mm lead miniatures. It was the “Level 4 & 5 Monsters” package from 1982, and was complete with inserts: monster descriptions, color guide, and the Heritage Introduction to Painting Miniatures sheet.

“Oh nice, yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. Stuff like that.”
“Well, I can’t sell them to you…But I can give them to you. Here ya go.”

The set turned out to be complete, with a few other random figures (a Grenadier cleric, unknown MU, what appear to be two homunculi, and an orc or goblin.

I thanked him and promised I’d spread the word, so here it is. Get over there and give them your money, they’re awesome folks! Thanks again Ancient Wonders.

By the way, in looking at the box cover, I found it interesting that Heritage neglected to mention the cockatrice therein. Hmmm. 1982 mind you.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

OSRIC Session Journal: Leave the Rock, Take the Chest

The party saw to the gnome's remains as best they could (it began to rain and put out the pyre, what remained was buried and stacked with rocks). The tower was re-entered via their rope, and further exploration at the next level revealed a locked and trapped door. The traps were discovered and disarmed by Gladric the Thief (this took a lot of time to discuss), and he was able to unlock it. Inside was a crystal bowl, with a rock at the bottom shrouded in a yellowish mist. Demurarg said she saw a man’s face in the rock, in extreme pain and believed that his soul was trapped there.

We discussed smashing the bowl, and ways that we might free the man’s soul. In the end, we had Demurarg take it out onto one of the tower’s balconies and sort of huck the contents of the thing out and away. The stone at the bottom fell to the ground, but the vapors followed and stayed with it. The crystal bowl looked valuable and harmless, so they kept it. Then they proceeded up the steps to the last level and room of the tower.

Nick cued up some Joy Division “…someone take these dreams away…that point me to another day…” and I had to laugh. The next room was barred, and Gladric strode up and bent the bars. Ha! Gladric is really the badass of the party, he’s scaling walls, disarming traps, and bending bars! He’s totally full of himself at this point. So they go into the next room and find a whole bunch of books. Now Gladric is stoked and says pile them all up ‘cos he’s really good with Reading Languages too, and he might be able to sort them out.

Then we got bogged down a little into a discussion of whether or not bleach or hydrogen pyroxide was available in our world, and whether the game was “Conan” or High Fantasy (at which point I pointed out “We have gnomes in this game. Guh-NOMES. It’s high fantasy!” and it was settled that it was, but that it was “dark ages” high fantasy.

Aaanyhow, in addition to the books there was a chest, Gladric couldn’t find any traps and failed to pick its lock. They decided to just carry the dang thing out and huck it off a balcony, but it didn’t break at all. They took as many books as they could, which all seemed fairly mundane but perhaps valuable.

They looked for more secret doors and then they left. They went down and found that the rock they'd thrown down still had evil looking yellow mists surrounding it. They didn't know what to do about that, but nobody wanted to touch it. So they didn’t! They just left it there, deciding to strap the chest to a horse, and go back to town. Vadco couldn’t go, being exiled, and Ouze ended up staying with him. The useless Demurarg, who really hasn’t contributed anything to the whole endeavor thus far, went along. She was eager for a share of the loot and a bath, as she hasn’t had one in months. I’ve decided that I hate her.

We feel a little bad for that guy in the rock, and for anyone else who comes along and messes with it. I reckon Benedict the Lawful cleric is going to have a hard time with us abandoning it. My guess would be that the guy in the rock was the owner of the tower, and would reward anyone who saved him, but see, we’re really not big on heroics and besides, we already have the loot. Now we just need a guinea pig or expert to open the lockbox.

Back in town, the books only fetched 75gp. I think we were probably ripped off. Then it was bed time, so the treasure and crystal bowl appraisal have to wait a fortnight for our next session.
(I'm a player in these bi-weekly OSRIC sessions, and DM our S&W game)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Real Egyptian Tomb Maps

More web research today turned up Friesian.com's Egyptian tomb maps... Maybe you'll also find them of interest or inspiration. I zipped them up for downloading here.

Copyrighted maps, with rights reserved, but permission to reuse for "any non-commercial educational, scholarly, and personal purposes, including reposting, with links to the original page, on the internet."

Poor Hanuman

I can't understand the lack of Hanuman love in OD&D.

In OD&D’s Supplement IV, Gods Demi-Gods and Heroes, ‘Hanuman the Accursed’ is found on page 46.

“Hanuman assumes a giant ape form when appearing on earth, and strikes as a Storm Giant. His ancient religion of the East requires human sacrifices.”

What?! Talk about alienating your Indian customers. A long time ago, I lived for a while in an intentional community (aka “a commune”*) that had an Indian ascetic guru. He wasn't my guru, me being more of a zenhead hunting after Buddha, but living there for a few years exposed me to a lot of Indian culture. And the good karma seeking yogis were highly enamored of Hanuman. As far as I could tell, they certainly weren’t practicing human sacrifice or even brainwashing anyone. Being a devotee of Rama, Hanuman epitomizes selfless service. Well, at least there wasn’t an accompanying illustration.

It was dropped from the 1st edition “Deities & Demigods” hardback - presumably the PR department set someone straight. Although the presence of other Indian deities there might have hacked off some Indian fundamentalists if they’d existed back in the day.

Not that it really bothers me or anything - I was a big fan of Galloway’s ballsy statting of the Virgin Mary, for example. Not of the stats mind you, just the statting itself. Huevos, I say.

* A commune? I know I know, it's a long story. See, there was this girl there. Oh nevermind...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sitting in the Waiting Room

The Missus and I were sitting in a waiting room, she reading her Time magazine, and me reading the 3rd issue of Fight On! I only bought recently… I couldn’t stop myself from continually mentioning its awesomeness to her.

“Check this out - an undead shark - swims in a river of blood!” … “Check out this Type 5D Devil picture, it looks like something out of the Yellow Submarine” … “Listen to this! ‘This monster-god reposes in forgotten basalt deeps, and his once thronging temples have stayed abandoned since the horrific collective suicide of his faithful’!”

“Would you shut up and let me read my own magazine!?!” she says.

“But yours sucks! - Look at this, the Spawning Grounds of the Crab-Men!”

Eventually it works, and she puts down her magazine and is now laughing and smitten with mine.

“This magazine rocks, it’s just crazy stuff people put together that you can use in your own game or just get inspired by… You should try it. Just make up a monster, maybe half-man like the crab-men here. What would yours be?”

“Giraffe people,” she says. “And they attack you by hitting you with their heads that they swing on their long necks.”

The grooming of the future D&D player continues. :-)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another Map I've Been Playing Around With Lately

Prospective and current players, it should go without saying that I trust you will not download or look at this map. Please read no further.

This is another map I've been working on lately, there is a small kobold tribe which has recently taken up residence here and begun reworking the place. Previously it was a dwarven mine, the long passageways to the North running Northeast were following ore at one time. It was abandoned as structurally unsound, the underground water in particular becoming an impediment to the mining effort. The lake can be traversed leading to deeper levels.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

S&W Session Journal: Into the Temple

The party got up very early to head down to the harbor. They’d made arrangements with the harbormaster who'd located some fishermen who were willing to take the group across the river. There, they would climb the hill to the deserted temple.

On their way, a large young man, perhaps only 16 or 17 years old, jumped out in front of them. He apologized for possibly startling them, and relayed how he’d overheard his father, the harbormaster, telling his mother about their group of “idiots” and their plan. Having been called an idiot (and worthless layabout) himself many times by his father, he wished to join them in this minor expedition. He hoped to make some quick money and move out, and show his father he wasn't useless. The group talked about it a bit, worried that they might get into trouble somehow if they took him, but as he begged and pleaded, and showed that he'd brought a spear and some padded armor, they agreed to allow him to come along.

During the river crossing, this new party member (“Chuck”) was observed having a minor disagreement with one of the boat’s crew. They reached the other side of the river in short order, and departed after making an agreement about how and when they were to be picked up again. They then made their way up the trail that led to the abandoned temple.

They saw that the one large entrance had been barred from the outside. This was easy to undo, after they first listened to see if they could hear anything. They opened the door and watched as swirling mists inside escaped and eventually allowed clear sight in. There was an altar, very plain, as well as four doors in sight. They entered one of the very small rooms, and came upon two skeletons sitting upon stools across from one another, one with a large book beneath it. The skeletons became animated and attacked.

Chuck and Frederick (Wagstaff’s new henchman) had of course been placed at the front of the party, and both were very seriously wounded before the two dwarf brothers smashed the skeletons to pieces. The book was very heavy and undecipherable. Agnal the Chaotic examined it briefly and said that it made him feel mildly sick somehow.

Another room was explored which appeared to be a supply room for the regular services that must have at one time occurred. There were a number of hymnals as well as about a dozen candles, which the party took. One was lit, and the party continued exploring.

An empty room with stairs leading down was entered, and the party followed them to the basement. The candlelight was insufficient, and a torch was lit. A door at the bottom led to a long and wide hallway, whose sides were adorned with giant tapestries. At one time these had held images, but now they were burnt and beyond interpretation. Agnal discovered a sword, hidden in a secret niche behind one of the tapestries, inscribed with a name.

Taking this, they proceeded to another door at the end of the hallway, and after hearing nothing behind it, again forced it open revealing another long hallway, similar to the first. Four skeletons were seen inside, all huddled together as though in prayer, holding unlit green candles. They became animated seconds after the light fell upon them, and began approaching the party menacingly.

I’d been drinking before tonight’s session, having been out for sushi beforehand and was pretty well soaked in soju. Unfortunately, this has made some of the details a bit hazy for me - I don’t look forward to having to ask for some reminders, but I can't say I regret any part of the dinner. :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Den of the Water Naga: A Swords & Wizardry Mini-Adventure

I mean, really, it's a mini-adventure - formatted to fit on a 4x6 index card and thrown in your box set. This came out of an exploration of underwater maps the other day... I had fun making it, but of course it's not playtested! Map thumbnail above, download the PDF here. Get your bifocals on, old schoolers.

Open Game License

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Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
System Reference Document Copyright 2000-2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Rich Baker, Andy Collins, David Noonan, Rich Redman, Bruce R. Cordell, John D. Rateliff, Thomas Reid, James Wyatt, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

DungeonsnDigressions, copyright 2009-2010 Robert A. Hewlett

Labyrinth Lord Copyright 2006, Daniel Proctor. Author Daniel Proctor

Swords and Wizardry Core Rules, Copyright 2008 Matthew J. Finch. Swords & Wizardry Whitebox by Matt Finch and Marv Breig.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Underwater Cave Systems

I've done a fair amount of cave exploring, but cave diving is one of the bravest (or most foolhardy) things I think a sane person could ever want to do. Since I've been adding an underwater component to an adventure I've been writing lately, I went looking for some inspiration on the web this morning and found Floridacaves.com.

The maps there immediately caught my eye, some basic and some more complex and artistic. The various warnings found on the site are interesting on their own. My favorite is the one that reads "If you have a Dixie flag bumper sticker and a pickup, you should be safe."

I downloaded a lot of the maps to check out further. If you'd like to download the same ones easily, I zipped up a bunch here (and excluded any that were clearly copyrighted).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

OSRIC Session Journal: Climbing the Tower

The druid emerged from his meditation in the chambers beneath the circle of stones and announced that it would be fine if the group returned to the tower to finish the business it had there.

Returning to the tower, the first item of business was in removing the dead gnome’s body for a proper burial or burning. The party continued upwards and entered an empty room that had collapsed inward, perhaps from some kind of impact. Gladric was able to look outside and see higher up the tower. The group tied a rope around him, and he was able to scale the tower to the next balcony. Once there, he discovered a barred entrance to a chamber beyond the balcony. He could also see that the chamber's entrance from within the tower was also barred.

Ouze the Cleric was able to make it to the same level by being levitated there by Demurarg. He then was able to magically deduce that there was a trap of some kind at the entrance to the room they were able to observe, having something to do with a lever they’d spotted. They failed to bend the bars either through brute strength or with the polearm Ouze had borrowed and brought along, and in the end, they had to return to the lower level on the outside of the tower and consider a more direct approach. Hopefully the brief recon they were able to do will prove useful.

In writing this, I can’t believe this was all that was accomplished in three hours of role playing!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sneedsworth the Money Lender

Occasionally, one needs a loan. The seeds didn’t take, the rats got into the flour, the pig died. In Wagstaff’s case, he got bit by a rat. Not a big deal in and of itself, until he realized after a couple of weeks that the wound wasn’t healing so well. Aside from that, he was just feeling weak overall - and worse every day. Sure, the local high ranking cleric could heal him… for a price. Though he didn’t have the money to pay, a new friend who’d recently inherited some money lent it to him. But what about those poor souls that couldn’t find or know anyone who could lend them money in a similar situation? The local church seems to have no pity for men such as these! Perhaps it’s just the way of the world - even in a land of magic, men must sometimes die poor, ignoble deaths.

But there is hope, in a sense, for these folk that have fallen by the wayside… for those that society has failed and who stare grimly at their own impending doom - due only to an empty wallet. Hope’s name is Sneedsworth and Associates!

A thin, balding man of between sixty and seventy years of age, Sneedsworth seems frail. Seldom seen, when he does make a public appearance, it’s with an entourage of attendants, helping him to move about with his cane. He’s a man of few words, businesslike in conversation: polite but to the point. He seems to smile at odd times and occasionally lose himself in thought. Sometimes this is mistaken for early senility - but the truth is far from it.

In fact, Sneedsworth is an assassin - and a nearly retired guildmaster at that. His headquarters are located in the largest city of the region. A brimming red cauldron of gold is the symbol that hangs outside, as it does outside the numerous branches scattered throughout the kingdom. This and the prominent “Sneedsworth’s” name on such signs are all that’s necessary to both attract and warn passersby.

Sneedsworth's primary business has become money lending. Where other perhaps more reputable lenders would refuse a loan or require serious proof of credit, this is seldom if ever required by the customers of Sneedsworth’s. Here a man can simply rely on his own good word in order to obtain a loan. Small sums and large sums, it matters not - even nobles have approached Sneedsworth’s with requests for vast quantities of gold. Of course, the terms of these loans can only charitably be called extortionate. And repaid any loan best be, for the loan officers of Sneedsworth (high ranking assassins themselves) are deadly serious about their work.

Loan terms can vary wildly, from 0% interest (especially for first time, small loans to locals) up to 500% interest per day. In the course of coming to terms over a loan, virtually anything can become subject to negotiation. Typically, such negotiations are brief, and payment is expected within a short matter of time - from a day up to as much as a month. As opposed to many other shady lenders, failure to repay a loan when the final payment due date has been reached will not result in a price being put on the debtor’s head. Instead, Sneedsworth’s prefers to deal with such matters on their own, sending out its assassins when necessary. If it’s suspected that a customer knowingly took out a loan without ever intending to pay it back (perhaps intending instead to forfeit their life upon signing, as a sacrifice for some purpose the money could fulfill), then the family and friends of the customer may be targeted. If the sincerity of someone who’s been issued a loan is ever in doubt, torture (in addition to magical means) may be used to ascertain the truth. Sneedsworth makes no apologies for these “standard business practices” and the terms are always made explicitly clear to the loanee!

The tactics of Sneedsworth assassins run the gamut from the traditional (back stabbing, or poisoning of food and drink) to the more direct approach (such as waiting for a weakened party to exit from a dungeon before shooting them with poisoned crossbows), to the more example setting extremes of public, live disembowelment or burning. Sneedsworth’s has a reputation to uphold, and their “debt collectors” are not interested in last minute payment, although they are not averse to removing all of a debtor’s possessions before executing him.

Sneedsworth and Associates almost never accept solicitations for work involving assassinations - theirs has become a very specialized business. It’s also a very lucrative one, and its niche has allowed it to flourish while free from costly battles with other assassin or thieves guilds, some of whom even “bank” with Sneedsworth’s. Of course there are always those jealous of the success of others to be on guard against, as the guildmaster himself well knows.

Branches are maintained in meticulous compliance with headquarters’ standard operating procedures. No loans are made without being signed off on with two officers witnessing. Funds are not always immediately provided, and the movement of any large sum to or from a branch and headquarters is heavily guarded with mundane and magic power alike. All associates of Sneedsworth wear the red, gold filled cauldron symbol of the guild emblazoned on platinum medallions. The backs of these are inscribed with secret symbols: a riddle or one’s solution, which are known only by guild members.

Sneedsworth: Level 9 Assassin
Loan Officers: Assassins ranging in level from 4-7 .
Other “Associates” (assistants, guards, couriers, etc.) are fighters and assassins ranging in level from 1-3.

Swords &Wizardry Assassin Class per the S&W Companion

Sneedsworth has made his own deal with the devil known as Mammon, and serves his lord however he can when Mammon’s messengers call upon him.
This post is dedicated to bankers everywhere.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tavern Graffiti: The Pixie Limerick

There once was a tramp of a pixie
Whom near everyone knew as Trixie
But one day she was split
By an ogrish git
And not the best cleric could fixee...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Index of Adventures in Knockspell & Fight On! Magazines, Part Two

This is part two of an index of Knockspell and Fight On! magazine adventures. The first part was Knockspell, and Fight On! follows here below. These aren't reviews of course, they're just a resource list. Anyone play any of these? Please feel free to comment with corrections or information, I wanted to keep it brief but helpful.

Fight On! #1:

“The Ruined Monastery” by James Maliszewski, p.7
A small (14 room) dungeon crawl for 1st level characters.

“The Tomb-Complex of Ymmu-M’Kursa” by Gabox Lux, p.12
No level recommendation, monster hit dice ranges up to 12. Dungeon crawl.

“Nature’s Nasty Node” by Makofan, p.20
For levels 4-7. A Wilderness Encounter/Mini-Adventure with tower and cave (12 room total).

Fight On! #2:

“The Tower of Birds” by Gabor Lux, p.3
No level recommendation, but there are 19 HD 2+2 bird monsters. A tower in the desert beckons with the promise of water.

“The Darkness Beneath: The Upper Caves” by Hackman with Calithena and David Bowman, p.19
Low level dungeon crawl.

“The Red Gem of High Cartography” by Edsan, p.64
A quest for 2-6 3rd to 5th level characters.

Fight On! #3:

I just realized I don’t have a copy of this. I ordered one, but for now I know that there must be at least another contribution to the “Darkness Beneath” megadungeon.

Thanks to Terrex (see comments) for the following:

"Khas Fara: Village of Fear" by Jason Morningstar p.28
For lower powered characters (even 1st level).

"The Darkness Beneath: Spawning Grounds of the Crab-Men) by David Bowman p. 51
Third level of a megadungeon.

Fight On #4:

“House of the Axe” by Calithena, p.12
A large adventure for levels 4-10, centered on a house in a swamp and the dungeon below it.

"The Spring Temple of Ai" by Gabor Lux, p.42
Unspecified levels (monster HD from 1 to 7). A mini-adventure that takes place in a temple on a small island.

“The Tower of Duvan ‘Ku” by James Edward Raggi IV, p.46
‘Some easy money or perhaps a deathtrap masquerading as an adventure, for those who suffer the delusion that all adventure locations are meant to be solved.’

“Arcane Vault of Isis” by Matthew Riedel, p. 57
An adventure for “high to very high level” characters.

“Fungoid Gardens of the Bone Sorcerer” by Geoffrey McKinney, p.70
Carcosa setting, wilderness and cave crawl. Unspecified levels, monster hit dice ranges up to 10.

“These Mean Streets” by Baz Blatt, p.79
Empire of the Petal Throne city adventure.

“The Darkness Beneath: The Mysterious Crystal Hemisphere” by James Maliszewski. Level 4 of a megadungeon crawl.

Fight On! #5:

“The Tomb of Ixtandraz” by Lee Barber.
For levels 4-6. A map leads to a tomb inside a mound complex, set in a marsh, tropical location, or by a river.

“Black Blood” by Gabor Lux, p.25
No level recommendation, although there is a 9th level magic user antagonist. Large building and dungeon crawl.

“A Giant Dilemma” by Frank Farris, p.50
For levels 2-4. Short, story driven cave adventure.

“The Barrow of Therex” by Erin “Taichara” Bisson, p.55
Low level minidungeon (4 rooms).

“Warren of the Troglodytes” by Calithena with David Bowman, p.67
Low level adventure in a trog den.

Fight On! #6:

“Hell Grave of the Tveirbrodur” by Jason Morningstar, p.9
A short tomb crawl, no level recommendation but the most powerful monsters are HD 5.

“The Tribe of Rorvash” by Erin “Taichara” Bisson, p.13
Low level minidungeon.

“Welcome Back to Slimy Lake” by Jeff Rients, p.18
Really a keyed hex map/mini-sandbox, but included here as it was the only fantasy genre “adventure” - it’s for use with Mutant Future.

“Blocks of Quox” by Tony Rosten, p.29
For 2-8 characters of levels 3-5. A mad illusionist’s dungeon.

“Stone Gullet” by Gabor Lux, p.46
Levels not given, probably 2-3. A short adventure based around and in a tower and garrison in the desert.

“The Darkness Beneath: The Lower Caves” by David Bowman, p.79
The fifth level of a megadungeon.

Fight On! #7:

“Legend of the Dullahan” by Matthew Riedel, p.3
A headless horseman roams the night.

“Temple of the Sea Demon” by Gabor Lux, p.9
Unspecified levels, but there is a 12 HD monster. A temple. Of a Sea Demon!

“Former Gnomish Caves” by Alex Schrӧeder, p. 25
Low level one page dungeon.

“Song of Tranquility” by Jerry Stratton, p.29
No level recommendation, but HD 5 to 8 monsters spotted. A shipwreck on a mountaintop.

“Beware of the Lord of Eyes” by Allan Grohe Jr., p.38
A dungeon crawl with a behold3r. ;)

“The Search for Lord Churisa” by Krista Donnelly, p.52
‘..non-canonical Tekumel adventure’ for 2-6 players.

“The Darkness Beneath: Fane of Salicia” by Lee Barber.
The sixth level of a megadungeon.

Phew! Knockspell index here.

Update: There's no way I can keep up with the FO! adventures, there's just too many in every issue. I'll still try to stay on top Knockspell for now.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Index of Adventures in Knockspell & Fight On! Magazines, Part One

I try to be prepared but sometimes players go in un- expected directions. Between this and being short on time, I've been using a lot of published material that I’ve reinterpreted or mashed up somehow. The other day I thought I'd look through my issues of Knockspell and Fight On! magazines to see what adventures they had to offer. Here’s a brief index starting with Knockspell Magazine below. I'll try to keep this updated, please feel free to correct any information or let me know if it needs attention. Anyone played any of these?

Knockspell 1:

“Isles on an Emerald Sea” by Gabor Lux, p.23

No explicit level recommendation, but there are two 7 HD monsters as well as a 15 HD roc amongst a number of other creatures. “A bare realm…where castaways have died in lament… yet those who are courageous enough and cunning may win free - and even gain treasure in the bargain.”

“Charnel Crypt of the Sightless Serpent” by by Jeffrey P. Talanian, p.32

For 4-6 characters of levels 4-7. A Hyperborean themed dungeon crawl adventure involving a giant serpent and a necromancer.

Knockspell #2:

“Isles on an Emerald Sea, Part Two” by Gabor Lux, p.24

Presumably for the same levels or slightly higher of part one. Includes info. on the Isle of Barzon and the city-state of Skeir (pop. 600) as well as the Isle of Armul which is ruled by a vampire who resides in a tower there.

Knockspell #3:

“The Font of Glee” by Jason Sholtis, p.20

“Designed to be used as the inaugural adventure” for a party of 4-6 brand new 1st level PCs (and some henchmen/hirelings). A noblemen hires the party to clear an area of monsters.

“Labyrinth Tomb of the Minotaur Lord” by R. Lawrence Blake, p.39

For levels 3-5. Adventurers hear rumors of a magic relic that resides in a tomb ripe for looting. Dungeon crawl.

Knockspell #4:

"Beneath the Crossroads" by James Gervais
A roadside shrine with rat demon for levels 2-4.

"Isle on an Emerald Sea" by Gabor Lux
Continuation from previous issues, there is a 13HD monster but most are 3-4.

"Rats in the Walls" by Jeffrey P. Talanian
for 4-6 PCs of levels 1-3.

Next up, Fight On! (FO! index no longer being updated - too many!)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Gaming Underground (Literally)

For a while now I've been wanting to play D&D underground. Silly and nerdy, yes, but how cool would that be? So sometime next month, or maybe early June, I'm hoping to get a couple of friends together along with my nephew and I, and head down a lava tube for a sort of pick up game of Swords & Wizardry. In all likelihood they won't be able to make it, but Joe and I will still try... Pictured above is a friend from a previous trip, and one possible gaming location (because of the slight additional light).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pass the Torch

Thanks Mr. Gygax, may we also pass the torch!

S&W Session Journal: Shove Your Cure Disease “Donation” Up Yer @&$!

Last night’s short session was another town based, mostly provisioning type of affair. The usual suspects of armorer, general store, innkeeper, and the like were all played. In addition, Olav the Dwarf’s younger dim-wit brother, Aleger, showed up in town looking for him. It was a grave reunion as he brought news that their father had died a fortnight ago. He’d been ill for some time, and perhaps the additional strain of clan infighting and local politics, plus the fact that their business was broke, had pushed him past his limit. As the two brothers have many older brothers and the family wasn’t doing well, the inheritance wasn’t much. It consisted of a pony and 50gp, which was split between them. But the evening’s greatest fun, I think, was had in an exchange involving Wagstaff the Thief...

Wagstaff had been bit by a giant rat and fallen ill - he’d noticed this in previous sessions, but only during this session was it becoming an obvious problem. They asked around and were directed to a church where the abbot could heal him. The entire party went in.

The odd thing about the church was that there were a great number of acolytes and a few priestesses, but they seemed to be milling about with not much to do. There were a few villagers coming and going after paying their respects, but it seemed a little strange.

The party approached someone who examined Wagstaff’s infected leg and immediately recognized that nobody would have the ability to heal him but the abbot himself. Thus began an uncomfortable conversation with a priestess about the “donation” that was expected in such circumstances.

Now Wagstaff had only about 13 gold on him, and was shocked that the cost would be 60. He agreed to pay it, and someone went to fetch the abbot. While waiting, he was led to an area where he would have to “fill out some paperwork”. This included signing his name, and then standing by while his money was carefully counted out, with a second priestess serving as witness. These two would then both sign their names after writing down what particular service was being rendered (Cure Disease). The notion of all of this appalled Wagstaff after the procedure was described to him, especially since he didn’t have the money available to pay.

When the abbot appeared, expecting to have this business completed (or nearly so) by now, Wagstaff quickly approached him and asked if he could arrange some kind of payment plan. The abbot was unfazed and had apparently had to deal with this type of development many times - he explained that though the fees may seem high, that everyone pays the same amount, rich, poor, villager, and travelers alike. However, the abbot understood that the disease was contracted whilst Wagstaff was attempting to help the Miller, which was a benefit to everyone in town. Consequently, he would be willing to take half now and half later. He also offered to hire the party to explore an unused temple on the opposite side of the river and rid it of any beasts. He was hoping to clean it up and consecrate it to his own deity. Wagstaff and the party agreed, but still didn’t have enough money to pay, and wondered wasn’t there any other agreement they could come to amicably?

The abbot then explained that that there were many services that the church does for the community, and that not all of them could be accomplished simply through magic. Therefore, the present system had been put in place and exceptions could not be made. He suggested that he might be able to find a loan or other means of payment elsewhere in town and quickly turned and headed off back into another private chamber, not waiting for Wagstaff’s reply though he was in mid-sentence.

There was some grousing generally about this and requests for another conversation with the abbot, but the various church staff insisted that he leave for now. The acolyte that’d first looked at his leg at one point said something like “Don’t worry, by the look of it, you’ve got at least a week before it has to be amputated.”

Now Wagstaff apparently had a plan, which was this - as they all filed out, he lingered near and off to the side of the open church door. There he fell down into a sort of crouching, kneeling, leaning on the side of the building position. He tried to make himself look utterly pathetic, hoping for pity and charity.

Again, it would seem that this type of behavior was not unexpected or without precedent. Two of the largest acolytes rushed over asking him to please leave the church’s grounds immediately and to not cause trouble. They were just about to lift him up to carry him a distance away when Olav and Frayse (the large human fighter) stepped between Wagstaff and these two acolytes. It looked like there might even be a fight, as five other acolytes now appeared with hands on maces at their belts. It was suddenly clear to the party why there were so many idle clergy members here! A priestess who’d been watching and expecting this turn of events even attempted to cast Hold Person on Olav who nicely Saved with a 17. The party kept its cool and decided to avoid a fight, and Wagstaff picked himself up, looking suddenly somewhat healthier. Then just as he was begun to be accompanied further away from the building, he yelled into the church doorway, “Hey abbot, you can take your donation and shove it up your ass!”

A grim silence came over the party - except for the Chaotic Agnal, who laughed his ass off. The abbot was probably the only one for quite a distance who had the capability of saving Wagstaff’s life. Then the half-wit Aleger piped up “Why don’t we just loan ‘em the money he needs Olav? Don’t you remember the inheritance we just got?” Olav grumbled something about not loaning money out any time soon again (the last time he did, he lent it to two party members who ended up dying and their money being taken by goblins - all while carrying out a plan hatched by Wagstaff). Then Aleger decided to sell his pony for Wagstaff.

So after some time and other interactions with townsfolk, Aleger managed to raise enough money by selling his pony, even though he was totally ripped off, but he didn’t really care as he doesn’t like riding anyhow. The party went back to the Church, where this time only Wagstaff was allowed to enter. It seems nobody had taken his shout seriously, or once again perhaps they'd encountered similar behavior from others before. Not only this, but the abbot either wasn’t told or doesn’t seem to care about Wagstaff’s outburst either. In short order, he was as good as new.

The whole thing seemed oddly familiar somehow. :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March Forth for March Fourth - Gamemaster's Day Deals

I'm jumping ahead a little on this post, but thought why not bring this to the attention of readers and give them more time to take advantage?

Your Games Now via their newsletter:

"It's that time of year once again when we celebrate the people behind the screen! To commemorate GM's Day, various publishers at the cooperative are holding sales, including:

Expeditious Retreat Press is offering 25% off all electronic titles from March 1st-7th.

HinterWelt Enterprises is putting its product 25% off from March 1st-7th.

Tabletop Adventures is offering 25% off the price of all its electronic products, through March 7th.

Coupon Section: To redeem a coupon, simply put product in your shopping cart and enter the coupon code during check out. Customers can only redeem 1 coupon code at a time.

DragonWing Games
Get $5.00 off any purchase of a DragonWing Games/Bastion Press product when you use the following coupon code from March 1st to the 7th.
Coupon Code (case sensitive):DWG032009

RPGNow offers 25% off hundreds of select items (sale runs to the 8th).

and Dustin at Chaosium sent word that they will be giving something away for GM’s Day... “a couple of adventures for sure” and possibly more. I don't know if it’s listed on their site anywhere yet but that’s the scoop! So check back soon, they might not post it until tomorrow.

Update: Looks like Chaosium opted for something maybe a little more in keeping with the spirit of GM's Day - A free download of The Keeper's Companion (normally $17.95) with any website purchase of $8.95 or more. Offer good for the next couple of days. Details on their main catalog page.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thoughts on OSR Publishing and Reviewing or "We Can Say Bad Things Too, Right?"

My apologies in advance if I ramble in what follows, I'm still sorting out some of my own feelings on the subject...

I buy a lot of OS publications. Much of it I know I'll never use directly in my game, but still find enjoyable and also attractive as a collector. As I've said here before, I've been reluctant to review many things coming out of the OSR - part of this hesitancy has to do with the fact that I'd been out of the hobby for a very long time compared to many readers. Besides that though, our community feels small, and I haven't wanted to hurt any feelings.

I occasionally feel torn, because many of the things that attract me to the old school gaming community - the DIY, homebrew, share and share alike ethos that I know and remember from the height of my gaming days can be at odds with standard business practices, as well as the new awareness of intellectual property. Sometimes I wonder if purchasing anything from an OS publisher is the beginning of the end of a great thing, a sort of commodification of art.

That being said, I also know that old school gamers are for the most part very much adults now... I know that times are tough and that many people want to make a living from the hobby we love because of unemployment, to supplement income, or just because, in perfectly understandable earnestness, the idea of doing what we love and making a living at it at the same time is a big part of what is called Living the American Dream (or just following your passion, leaving the U.S. patriotism out of it). Of course I don’t have a problem with this, and the profit motive can encourage quality as well as new materials period.

Then the question arises of supporting the OSR. I’d like to see the hobby grow and preserved for a number of reasons, but I do not in any way feel obligated to support old school publishers. Whether it's someone just putting out a PDF or a more established or officially incorporated publisher. When there's a profit motive involved, obligation I feel not. If I feel any such obligation to support the hobby’s growth and legacy, I’ll direct it first to any nonprofits (or nonprofits-to-be) such as TARGA or OSRIC. Any criticism or review of such organizations or their materials I would be more inclined to be charitable with, as of course I would be with someone offering their work for free or in the spirit of just gladly sharing their creation with others, tips appreciated but not expected, so to speak.

So coming back to the subject of reviewing most OSR publishers' work, I wish to qualify some things I might say in the course of a review that might adversely effect an opinion of me. I do this in the wake of a short (and I think very positive) review of BHP's White Box Set for a reason... although I feel my review was sincere and off the cuff, I can see how it would offend some folks in the "nothing in the OSR should be criticized, lest it not help the OSR grow" camp.

Is there such a camp? I don't know. Based on my own experience with small communities with certain similarities to ours, I would guess so. But here's the thing - I'm amazed at the amount of traffic my last post garnered here. I do keep track of such things for a number of reasons - what interests the readers, what's currently hot in the OSR, etc. It seems a good time to take advantage of the interest to point out what the main purpose of this post is... If you really want the OSR to grow and improve, honest, forthright criticism is helpful, and I hope any other prospective reviewers consider this. Publishers and others who wish to see the OSR grow should welcome and consider constructive, heartfelt criticism, even if it seems petty or at first misguided, and even and especially at this stage of growth. Hopefully it won't be taken personally. As long as it's respectful, the quality and reach of OSR publications will gain from it.

Anyhow, maybe this post wasn’t necessary, and thanks for wading through it if you've read this far. I'll hereafter be able to refer to it as my "Standard Review Disclaimer".