Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Original Edition Fantasy à la GDW's Traveller

If you missed Captain Jack’s post in the Dragonsfoot forums announcing it (or Andy’s OD&D Guild message), there’s yet another original edition fantasy set of rules out there, this one based on the original Traveller. Very interesting stuff - I really have to commend Captain Jack. I’m sure there’s a ton of us who thought “what if” but never took the time to put something like it together, or to such a degree. Check it out: Book 9 Adventurer.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Red Dwarf: Sci-Fi Original Edition Game Setting

In lieu of Futurama, I’ve been watching a lot of Red Dwarf via Netflix, one of my favorite television shows. Now I’ve got an urge to play an RPG with the setting - one based around the last known human being alive on an enormous deep space mining vessel.

Right then, for the sake of it, how would this work? I know that there was a Red Dwarf RPG released back in 2003, but I’d like to use something very rules light that I’m already more familiar with… X-Plorers seeks to be something OD&D would have been if it’d intended to be Sci-Fi based instead of Fantasy. That would work nicely, as would Terminal Space, which explicitly states that it’s a Sci-Fi supplement for OD&D. I could also use the original Traveller rules (I have the little black books and supplements). For the moment, I’d choose X-Plorers - I’d like to support a new publisher and the only reason I prefer it is that it’s in print. There’s something satisfying about holding a professionally printed game book, although I should mention that TS should be available soon on too.

The physical game setting is mostly aboard the mining vessel itself. The ship is so large that in episode 21, the character Rimmer (a holographic projection) takes a ten day holiday hike through the ship's combustion engines with two small robots as companions. A whole civilization evolved from a pregnant cat on board, ultimately abandoning ship in the midst of holy wars and in search of their god (Lister) and holy land. There’s also occasional run-ins with other space vehicles or bases and planets or asteroids. Smaller shuttle vehicles are used for exploration when these are encountered. The thing to keep in mind is that the human players (or one of them at least) was kept in stasis for three million years until a radioactive contamination of the ship was no longer dangerous. During this time, one might assume the entire human race had died out or evolved into something unrecognizable. Portions of the ship may have been inhabited by extraterrestrials for long periods (and maybe still are)… Or maybe there’s nothing out there anymore. There might be remnants of cat people lurking in distant recesses of the ship as primitive tribes. There’s always the possibility of time anomalies caused by spacial rifts and wormholes too.

One difficulty in using the setting would be the limited number of characters at the game start. In the show, there are only Dave Lister (the sole surviving human, and the lowest ranking member of the 400+ member crew), a descendant of his pet cat (now a semi-intelligent humanoid), and a holographic projection of Lister's bunkmate, known as Rimmer. Later in the series, they are joined by Kryten, a laundry robot, as well as by Kristine Kochanski, a former girlfriend of Lister. There’s also the ship’s artificially intelligent computer which is malfunctioning but still manages to navigate the ship and maintain most of its vital systems.

This is also what I like about the idea - that there are so few characters. As GM, I’d want to play the computer. Shades of Paranoia

Though the ship’s computer (“Holly” in the show) and the one hologram character it can provide power for can’t die, the remaining PCs might snuff it at some point. The artificially intelligent robot can be rebuilt or replaced with backups. So really there’s only the one human and the cat-man. If the human character died, I might rule that he could be cloned or rebuilt by nanobots (in one episode, everyone on board was brought back to life this way.) For game purposes, I’d have this process take a certain amount of time (perhaps 100,000 years for example) so death would still have consequences. Or instead, technical complications and malfunctions mean only one new character can come out of stasis every so often. Other crew members might be able to be brought back to life as well, or perhaps the holographic character’s program becomes corrupted and the original is replaced with another crew member. If or when the cat died, I’d rule that his foreign physiology would prevent any resuscitation. Players wanting another cat-man would have to go find one running loose in the bowels of the ship somewhere.

Well, that about covers the basics. Red Dwarf fans out there? Anyone ever play Deep7’s Red Dwarf rpg?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

United RPGs of America

This one goes out to Jeff (and the OSR publishers of course)...
Maybe I should turn this into a little PDF for easy printing and upload it to TARGA. I'd love to stash them in merchandise at a convention.


Apologies to anyone who might have followed the RSS feed looking for an article about Futurama (it was basically a post whining about how new episodes were out and it was on that night, but I was going to miss them since I've canceled our TV service). I figured nobody wanted to hear about what I wasn't watching on television and pulled it.

Having said that, I'll go ahead and tell you what I've been watching on the tube lately anyway - soccer and baseball. These and other things have kept me away from the blog and gaming a bit. Hopefully in a couple of weeks my regular S&W and OSRIC games will start up again. I'm also hoping to do some gaming via Skype with Telecanter to finish the adventure we started in the caves, and I've been doing a little work on my wife's Dordogne campaign setting.

Kobold Quest is exactly the kind of distraction I uncover when researching something for my game or a post here. You might like it if you're nostalgic or a fan of ancient, top down ascii computer games. You play the part of a kobold, laying traps for adventurers seeking to invade your cave and exterminate you. How could that not be fun? The kobold sounds remind me of Zak's goblin noises.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

10 Second Map Creation with the GIMP

Here's something a lazy or pressed for time DM might find useful - using the free image editing software GIMP, you can make a fairly decent world map in seconds. I discovered this by accident today while working up a logo from the Create submenu...

Step 1: Create the land.

Change the size and experiment with the random seed and elevations.


Optional Step 2: Add a square or hex grid overlay. GIMP comes with the square grid pattern already installed.

If you'd like to use a hex grid, you'll first have to install an additional script. An example of finished output is below, an example with square grid rendering is here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

OD&D Castle Composition in Random Wilderness Encounters

There are at least four castles in the Dordogne setting I’m using - these are Beynac, Castelnaud, Commarque, and Fayrac. I’ve written here before about my interest in devising a method to stock them - I don’t require a high level of verisimilitude, but having something to base my attempts on would be helpful. The first example I thought of (as maybe most of us would) was the keep from B2. Erin at the OD&D Guild charted this nicely, but I thought for kicks I’d see what the old beige books had to say on the matter.

Volume 3, “The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures” has a table on page 15 with regard to the subject, entitled “Types of Guards / Retainers in Castle.” Granted, this table is for use with random wilderness encounters with castles, but for fun let’s roll on it to see what comes up.

I’m glad to see I’ll be rolling a d6 on it. First roll result = 4. “Necromancer.” This necromancer has a 50/50 chance of being hostile to the party should they pass within one hex (actual distance not directly stated) of the castle. The suggested map to use for something like this was Avalon Hill’s “Outdoor Survival” map - thanks to Thomas Denmark at Original Edition Fantasy for the best online image I could find of the map itself. Note Book 3 says that if you use this map, all of the indicated ponds you should actually assume are castles. The closest to one another I could easily see are only 3 hexes away. Sounds like it would work for my Dordogne map: a couple of pages later, scale is described: “Assume the greatest distance across each hex is 5 miles.”

The table becomes a bit more arcane at this point. I interpret it to mean that having rolled for a Necromancer to inhabit the castle, I should now roll d4 to see what special guards or retainers there are there. Result = 4 again, which indicates d12 Gargoyles. This result is footnoted with the number 12, but I can’t seem to find where this footnote lives. It doesn’t seem to be anywhere in Book 3. Hmm, how many Gargoyles? d4 or d6 again, or something else? No idea. If you haven’t the book handy, you might find it interesting that also listed are such creatures as rocs, ogres, hippogriffs, vampires, and other possibly dubious entries as castle guards.

Moving on to human guards, the rules indicate that if hostile, my Necromancer here requires a magic item from the passersby as toll, and if none are available, d4x1000 gp. clerics will require a 10% tithe from passersby. Since clerics aren’t directly listed on this table, I think I should surmise that Necromancers would demand this. Evil H.P. (Evil High Priests) are noted there though. It says that if no payment is possible, clerics will send the adventurers on some form of Lawful or Chaotic task, utilizing Quest (5th level cleric spell.) I like that. I also like that Fighting Men within castles will "demand a jousting match... or 100-600 Gold Pieces... " that Magic Users "will send passersby after treasure by Geas if they are not hostile... " and that clerics require a 10% tithe or will send the adventurers on some form of Lawful or Chaotic task via Quest (5th level cleric spell.)

Page 16 of Book 3 indicates that in addition to men or monsters accompanying castle residents, from 3d6x10 men will be there as guards, one half of whom will be light crossbow armed and the other half of whom will be heavy foot soldiers. There’s another sentence here about the composition of such guards being mounted, but I can’t quite make sense of it. Compare these figures to the total number of 202 officers and troops in the Keep on the Borderlands.

Finally, there’s another table for the chance that a higher level MU / Fighters/ or Clerics (or MU apprentice or d6 cleric assistants) are in the castle. Should they appear, these will be from as low as 3rd to as high as 8th level.

Though I don’t think I’ll be relying too much on OD&D as inspiration for castle stocking even though we’re playing a S&W Whitebox game, it was an interesting exercise to see what Mr. Gygax might have been playing or thought reasonable back in the days of the original Grayhawk (sic) or Blackmoor campaign. I'm glad for the game spurs of random maniacs running out from the castles to engage the party in some fashion. I'm looking forward to using that in some fashion.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Boldt Castle on the St. Lawrence

Trey’s post made me think of another American castle, this one located in the Thousand Islands, an area of the St. Lawrence River which runs between New York and Ontario, Canada. Back in the early to mid-80’s, I visited the Islands for a week or so every summer. Some relatives own some beach front property on Carnegie Bay, and it was a short boat ride over to Boldt Castle on Heart Island. As a kid playing D&D, the place was one of the most inspiring things I’d seen.

I remember being told by my cousins who lived there during the summers that the island was quite the party scene in the 70’s before they began fixing up the place. I can imagine a ton of kids tripping through the possibly haunted (and probably dangerously unstable) ruins.

Millionaire George Boldt had construction begin in the year 1895. He even had the island formed into the shape of a heart. The whole thing was supposed to be a testament to his love for his wife. They began living there in 1900, but it was never completed - she died a few years later and he lost all interest in it. It lie in ruins for over seventy years. I went there several times, the last time being to show a girlfriend the place when I was about twenty. Back then, portions were still off limits, but the local Bridge Authority had acquired the property and were slowly restoring the entire location for tourism.

It seems they have quite the website up now for the place. Don’t miss the brochure and castle map.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wifey rolls up her PCs and begins play.

Last night my wife rolled up a couple of new characters for her solo S&W Whitebox/Dordogne campaign. We used the 3d6 in order method. Both PCs' stats were average, one with a Strength of 14 and Wisdom of 5. She decided to make that one a male fighter and the other a female cleric.

She wasn’t sure how she would name them and seemed stressed about it - I told her there was no rush to name them and suggested she roll a d20 and use the number generated to determine what letter of the alphabet to use for the first letter of the name. I’ve no idea where this came from, but she liked the idea. She rolled a 5 and named her cleric “Eon.” The male she named “Mander.” When I asked where she got that from, she said that it came from the fact that the crest of Sarlat pictures a burning salamander. I think this is great - she knows nothing of the Salamander monster of D&D, nor do I suspect she knows about the symbology. Wikipedia puts it well enough - “The salamander became a symbol of enduring faith which triumphs over the fires of passion.” I found this very fitting as she chose the cleric to be the main character and her young male companion “Mander” will be her loyal servant and friend. Of course, he’ll also be ready to assume the role of lead protagonist in the event of Eon’s demise. Maybe, I thought, I’ll take his name as a cue and have him revealed as the bastard son of a local nobleman.

Then I decided to bring up the subject of alignment. I'm generally not a fan of it in the game, but I thought it might be useful as a guiding principle for a new player. To my great surprise, she made her cleric neutral and her fighter chaotic. So much for Mander being a faithful servant, I thought! Well, maybe he'll somehow redeem himself in a glorious, dying act.

The backstory for these two characters is that they lived on the outskirts of Domme as the children of farmers. Being some of the poorest farmers in the area, their lands were closest to the wild lands and forest, and “Monster-men” attacked their settlements. The parents of both PCs (who hid them during the attack) have disappeared and their homes have been ransacked and burned. A few possessions were able to be salvaged by each, as well as a few gold pieces their families had buried.

One of the cool things about the setting is that she's familiar with the place names we're using (she'd wanted to play with this setting in the first place after all). We discussed what deity she might worship as a cleric. I told her there was no need to decide quickly, and that for the moment she might consider her character a bit of a mystic in search of a god or goddess that speaks to her. I also told her that her character knows about a goddess who has a church dedicated to her in Domme, and a "Horned God" who has a temple southwest of Veyrines. At this she said "Ah! I know where that is!" Finally, I described how she had seen some priests of another faith that her family told her came from the east by the river. These priests were increasing in number and believed that any magic that didn't come from prayer was evil. "If I'm standing at the Turnpike, which way does the river flow?" she asked. This was brilliant, since the Turnpike is a small pub we enjoyed visiting in the area. I'd already planned on using it as a prominent tavern in the game.

Eon began walking to Domme. She was seen and joined by Mander, and subsequently spotted and escorted by a contingent of the local militia on patrol. The sergeant gave them each a document to take to the office of the magistrate in Domme. These are supposed to guarantee them each a few silver coins and temporary shelter without charge as consolation for their predicament, and to help them travel further to join family elsewhere or survive until they find some form of gainful employment. The truth of the matter is that Domme’s leaders have been unable to protect the outlying settlements and hope to silence the growing murmurs of discontent with these token gestures.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Would Jung Have Said? Afterthoughts.

A while back I was discussing travel plans with a client of mine who happens to be a Jungian psychologist. I told her how I was interested in returning to some caves I’d explored in the past, and how I hoped to join some others there to play D&D in them. Being twenty years or so older than myself, she was familiar with the game’s name, but not with what the game was about. I did my best to describe it to her - role playing, dice, pencils and paper, and technically no way to win.

After visiting the caves and having had the chance to play in them, I went out to see her again for some more computer work she needed at her office. She asked how the trip had been and though there wasn’t any back and forth questioning about it that could be called analysis, I realized later that the simple fact that I’d talked to a psychologist about it made me want to re-examine my motives for undertaking such an adventure in the first place.

I’d been wanting to return to those caves for years. In fact, I was planning on returning there even if I had to go alone, though my wife may have (properly) vetoed any solo cave exploring.

What stood out for me when we were playing in the caves was how much less gaming "equipment" we could have brought and had the same game experience. Granted, we never had combat take place and didn’t need dice for its adjudication, although Telecanter did have to roll a saving throw for someone. At the time, I was immersed in the experience and simply enjoying it. Now that some time has passed, I can see more clearly how what we’d been doing there was something that at its root was very primal - prehistoric really. There we were, making up stories together in a cave.

I would venture that all of us have a need for something like this (though clearly some of us more than others.) There's a need to return to our beginnings and share in the myth making process. It’s part of what makes us human. D&D didn’t inspire me to go into a cave and play it - our “playing games” in caves long ago led us to re-create a framework so that we could experience it again today.

In light of this, the return of old school gaming makes more sense to me. Many of us are trying to strip our games down to the basics that we can each live with as the minimum we feel necessary for our game to feel complete. Telecanter recently writes of his attempts to increase portability of play. I’ve been on the same quest myself, being continually drawn to index cards, less dice and rules (OD&D/WhiteBox), one page dungeons, etc. “Receding rules” indeed! The ultimate end of such a quest being telling stories to one another in a cave, I suppose.

Still, if there'd been some bones down there, I swear I would have made dice out of them.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Soccer/Football Minis Game - Free Download

Here’s some news that might especially appeal to Gabriel at My RPG Characters. Writing from Uruguay, he's been tracking the World Cup games in the form of “encounter” posts on his D&D blog. If you’re on the MegaMinis mailing list, you may have already seen the new Golden Goal game they’ve posted as a free PDF download… It’s a soccer/football minis game complete with included paper minis.

"With the World Cup in session, we thought it would be a good time to release our first set of table top game rules. Golden Goal V1.0 is a FREE test version containing everything you need to start playing. Rules book also includes 2D paper minis and templates to help you build a quick playing field. We have also launched a Yahoo group (address found in the footer of the rules) for those of you with questions or suggestions."

I haven’t played it yet, but the paper minis seem decent enough if you actually take the time to cut them carefully (I haven’t, which should be obvious in the picture above). MegaMinis has also released a line of metal miniatures for the game - which would seem like a must have for any die-hard soccer/minis fan. Personally, I’d paint them up like the Rochester Flash… the only professional team I can remember going to see here in the U.S.

Cave Entrances Photos II

In an earlier post, I put up some examples of cave entrances for whatever inspiration they might provide. Here's another batch - these are all from our recent "CaveCon" in the lava beds of northern California. They're very different from the caves typically found back East or in most of Western Europe. They're more jagged looking both inside and out because of the lack of limestone, water, and acid to aid in their erosion.

Telecanter poses for scale.

Halfling silhouette.

The cave on the left immediately recalled B2's "Come in - We'd like to have you for dinner!" sign outside the hobgoblin lair.

Josiah cautiously inspects this entrance from above.

The sun bleached, dried out tree limbs could almost be mistaken for bones.

The entrance to Skull Cave was the largest of any we visited.

An unknown cave entrance we didn't explore.

The entrance to Sunshine cave, where we did most of our gaming.

Another view of the same entrance.

Monday, June 14, 2010

D&D Underground - Full Report with Photos

Josiah and I arrived at Lava Beds National Monument (not far from the border of Oregon and California) five hours or so before Telecanter and his friend Marcus. Since I knew it'd be a while before they arrived, I thought we should scout out one of the caves I’d been thinking of as a good prospect for a session location based on previous visits. It's called Sunshine cave, so named because of a ceiling collapse and small skylight about 150’ into it. For a sense of the place above this cave, here’s a panoramic picture. A hundred years ago, the entire area was covered with trees and was described then as “nearly impregnable.” In 1920 they burned down, and today it's high desert - very hot during the day, and chilly at night this time of year.

Sunshine cave looked ideal, but we explored a couple of other short and easy caves and were lucky to stumble into Telecanter and his friend near the visitor center since mobile phones rarely work in the area. Coincidentally, they’d also parked right next to us at the campground. We thought we were in site B3, but a ranger came around and informed me that I’d mislabeled the payment envelope and we were actually in site B2. Very auspicious!

We all went out and explored a few more caves and then went back to camp and made some dinner. We shared a few beers and got to know one another better - among other things discussing the OSR scene, our gaming histories, etc. I'd brought Telecanter a few token gifts and he had thought to do the same thing - very generously giving both of us a number of lead minis as well as some Gamescience dice for Josiah and a copy of S.B. Poag's Exquisite Corpses for myself.

The next morning we rolled up some Swords & Wizardry characters. Josiah opted to use his elf character from one of our own previous games. We generated some hilarious hirelings using Telecanter’s roll-all-the-dice chart - mine consisted of a 40-something feeble woman with giant frizzy hair (I named her “Afria”) who had to care for her blind old father named Baté. A blind old man for a hireling! Later, I tied the two of them together with a rope so he wouldn’t get lost or left behind - at least he’d be able to carry something for us. In the picture below, we’re inspecting a game map of the larger area where we’ll be playing.

After checking out a couple more caves, we went looking for Juniper Cave. On a previous visit I’d seen a large skylight/roof collapse there which I thought would make for an easier time gaming. This cave was much longer and more difficult than the others we’d so far explored. There were some very tight squeezes in this one.

In this cave, we even discovered that we’d become lost and gone in a complete circle - at one point, I looked down at something reflecting in my flashlight and saw that I’d come upon my character card which had fallen out of my back pocket the first time through.

I was glad we'd gotten lost actually, or I'd have never found it. After an hour or so, we eventually found the spot I’d been thinking of - it was pretty bright there, just as I'd remembered. We jumped right into the game.

While Telecanter stood there DM’ing, a bat flew behind him a few times up and down the corridors (we thought of you, bat!) He did some great voices of an old man and his autistic (or perhaps just “touched”) son and hilariously reached out and grabbed my arm as the old man died. Below, I think I might be trying to figure out what to do with the old man’s son and dying request that I take care of him.

After a while we decided to leave this cave and head back to camp for an intermission. It felt like we played for two or three hours in there to me, but it’s really hard to say. After a bite to eat, we went to Sunshine cave - this one was really a little more suited to the game and we totally lost track of time in there. Some pictures are below - even though it looks bright, it’s only because of the camera’s flash (you can see the flashlights are all turned on). Taking decent pictures underground is difficult - there’s little for perspective, and it either looks totally bright with flash or else you can’t see anything, or get blurry pictures with slow shutter speeds. Telecanter was seated on a rock directly beneath the skylight, so he had a kind of spotlight on him. I’m not sure how easily he could see us but we had our flashlights on the whole time at this location. We joked about rolling dice down the incline to him.

The elf is a little tired.

Though we never entered into combat, the role playing was great (terrific acting and voices from the DM as a blacksmith and farmer’s son too). I’m glad to have been able to play alongside Josiah instead of being his DM this time - he nearly got the party and his character into trouble a couple of times, and as player I was able to gently help guide him and remind him of the usefulness of asking others for their opinions about what course of action to take.

The caves were generally very cool and comfortable (once you could sit down) since it was so hot above ground, but eventually we all noticed that it was starting to get a bit colder. We checked the time, and realized we’d been there probably a few hours and also that we’d better leave quickly. The road we were on had a gate a ways down the road that was locked by rangers at a certain hour, and we didn’t want to have to walk all the way back to our campground and carry additional gear there.

Back at camp, we decided that we’d better go to town to get some gas for Telecanter’s car - it was almost empty, and we were a little worried that he might not be able to make it back to town. So we took both cars and headed back - the first tiny town only had a single fuel pump in it. I thought I’d put a little gas in my own car - once I got about $10 or so in, the pump started acting like it was empty. I got the rest of my money back and Telecanter was able to get just over a gallon more out of the pump before it ran dry… Enough to get to the next town where there was a proper gas station. So we went there, fueled up, and figured we might as well pick up burgers while we were there. We had a few more beers that night, got up early the next morning, and went to a couple more caves on our way back to the highway.

The first was Skull Cave, named for the numerous animal bones found there when first discovered. It’s the deepest of all the caves we visited, with year-round ice at the bottom - it also has a nice little Gandalf-“You shall not pass!”-bridge. The entrance is gigantic and it really looks like a dragon’s lair. I’ll do another post with some more cave entrance photos to add to the collection I posted earlier here.

We'd had a great time and said our goodbyes, and agreed that it would be fun to try to finish out the adventure we’d started via Skype. I’m looking forward to it, especially as my other games are on hold for a few more weeks. Overall the whole venture was a great success. My original idea that actually gaming in caves would be tremendously inspiring was correct - I think our imaginations were running wild as we (literally) crawled the caves. I can't do the experience justice in writing here and hope we can do it again sometime, there or in a similar setting. As I said a couple posts back, anyone's free to contact me if they're interested in a "next time." There's always your own corner of the world for D&D'ing in the wild. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Back from the Caves

We had a great time, I'm off to bed early and will try to do a full recap of the weekend's events tomorrow.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

CaveCon 2010 - D&D Underground

Hmm, maybe "CaveCon" is already taken. Ok... event name suggestions are welcome. So Josiah and I are off to join at least one more OSR blogger and his friend down in some lava tubes in Northern California for some cave exploring and an attempt at subterranean D&D. No posts until we get back Sunday or Monday as a result.

I only asked a total of five others if they wanted to go - some couldn't because of distance or scheduling, and one still may or may not go due to health issues. Full report next week! If it turns out well, it'd be great to make it an annual thing, though perhaps at a different cave (one with a great lodge immediately springs to mind). Let me know if you're in the Northwest or don't mind traveling and would be interested...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Odds and Ends

Solo-campaign prep time…

I feel like I may have been spending in excessive amount of time preparing for my wife’s solo campaign. My usual (temporarily on-hold) S&W campaign I’ve spent much less time on and had a ton of fun with. So I’m trying to decide if the self-imposed pressure for making my wife’s perfect (in my mind) campaign is really just avoidance, or if I really feel like the prep will pay off. Gah! I guess I’ll find out soon enough. I feel like I’ve got to flesh out the town I plan to lock her into for a while just a little further, and do the same for the mini-dungeon also located there.

Re-learn something everyday..?

Here I’d been thinking that THAC0 was a 2nd Edition only thing, although maybe used before that unofficially. Then I was browsing through O2 “Blade of Vengeance” (1984) when I saw the abbreviation defined there on page 3. Weird. I couldn’t find anything quickly via a google for “THAC0 earliest reference” but via Dragonsfoot re-discovered Appendix E in the 1e DMG. Yep, there it is alright. As helpful as Appendix E appears, I don’t remember ever having used it.

Less blog updates…

I’ve been slowly cutting back on blog updates as the weather gets better. Aside from less posts due to game journal updates being put on hold along with our weekly games, I've been wanting to devote more time to getting outside for some fresh air, gardening, and exercise. Gardening! I might have laughed at this when I was younger, but I’ve really come around to the idea. My wife is even slowly convincing me that the two chickens she’s acquired this Spring and built a small pen for will produce enough eggs to prove to me their worth, and stop me from wringing their necks for some soup. Yeah, I can really be a meanie.

Subterraneon D&D...

Occasional player and nephew Josiah and I are off to some caves about five or six hours away this weekend, where we’ll be meeting at least one other OSR blogger and his friend. We might even pull off an underground D&D session, but if not, the trip will still be a lot of fun and I’ll be sure to post some pictures and/or video of our adventure.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Frungi are an amphibious/fungal hybrid, found in slightly moist to very wet habitats. Instead of proceeding from egg to tadpole to full adults, frungi grow from spore, to a rooted mushroom-like growth (albeit with watchful eyes), and eventually to independently moving, brightly colored, and fully amphibious adults. In their rooted form, they're typically found growing underground, near subterranean lakes and pools.

The danger they pose lies in the paralyzing effects of their skin secretions which can be brought about by mere contact. Their threat to humanoid settlements is minimal, though sometimes they spawn in great (and even plague-like) numbers. They are easily killed when in their immobile, mushroom-like state, though their contact poison is just as dangerous - and remains so a full day after their death.

Frungi are occasionally sought after by alchemists and others for the more esoteric, vision producing use of their poisonous secretions.

Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 1 hit point
Attacks: Leaping attack for contact (no damage).
Saving Throw: 18
Special: Contact poison - causes paralysis for d6 turns (or one full day upon ingestion, see below).
Move: 9
Size: S (Apx. 1' long)
Challenge Level / XP: A / 5

Note: Magic users and clerics ingesting the poison of a frungus (either by brewing a tea or soup from them, or just through licking) will become paralyzed (no saving throw) for a full day, at the end of which they’ll experience one of the following:

1. Water Breathing, per the 3rd level MU spell.
2. Clairvoyance, per the 3rd level MU spell.
3. Clairaudience, per the 3rd level MU spell.
4. Contact Other Plane, per the 5th level MU spell.

There is a 1% cumulative risk of the loss of sanity with each ingestion.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Brief Ode to the Kobold

Thank the lowly kobold
slain with ease by dungeoneer
For all great sagas told
With a weighty wristed beer...

For what fighter raises sword
And demon or dragon bests
Were it not for kobolds gored
As a youth ridding these pests?

And what wizard of power
Would even know how to spell
If kobolds didn’t cower
And by mere daggers fell?

And though not turned by clerics
Nor converted from foul god
He seldom empties barracks
And stays well under sod.

Yes - thank him for his yip
For there’s much worse below
That flesh from bones can rip
Than this feeble fellow.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Grotte de Domme Map and Fat Index Cards

The other day I was rummaging through our shed and found some old art supplies. In addition to a great set of colored pencils I’d forgotten about, I also found a few unopened packages of 5x8” index cards. I’d grabbed those out of an ex-roommates trash years ago never knowing what I’d do with them.

Since I’ve been meaning to make an introductory minidungeon for my wife to explore beneath the streets of Domme, I used these pencils and cards to come up with this map last night.

There’s an unkeyed version here if you can use it. I wanted to make it pretty simple - I’m not sure if she’ll be interested in keeping her own map, but in case she does I didn’t want to quickly frustrate her. The entrance to the cave is through a shopkeeper’s basement where a portion of the cellar has crumbled. The building has an older history that the owner doesn't know about, and there’s a secret storeroom and shrine down there. At the far northern part of the map, the cave opens out onto a ledge high above the river below. The real Grotte de Domme bears little resemblance to this, although there is a small pool in common. It’s also similar in that it exits onto an outcropping above the river (nowadays, there’s a glass elevator to take tourists back up to the main level of the town).

It printed out nicely on one of the 5x8’s. I printed one of my PC cards too, to see what it would look like. Here’s a picture of them next to Brave Halfling’s S&W Whitebox. So long, 4x6’s!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Spidergoats Coming to a Farm Near You

Mutant Future fans will be familiar with the Spidergoat, a monstrous mutant combination of the two species, resulting in eight legged carnivorous goats that can spin webs. Thank Lolth, we're now one step closer to their creation. reports - "Researchers from the University of Wyoming have developed a way to incorporate spiders' silk-spinning genes into goats, allowing the researchers to harvest the silk protein from the goats’ milk for a variety of applications. For instance, due to its strength and elasticity, spider silk fiber could have several medical uses, such as for making artificial ligaments and tendons, for eye sutures, and for jaw repair. The silk could also have applications in bulletproof vests and improved car airbags."

National Science Foundation video...