Sunday, November 28, 2010

JC Games' Space Pirates (German)

It's a pity the English translation of JC Games' Space Pirates quickstart rules seems to have run out of steam. From what I could decipher, it looks like it might be a fun rules light game. From their welcome page:

"Space Pirates is a free and wacky space-opera RPG about pirates in space in the style of 1980s cartoons and comics. It's intended for one-shots or short campaigns - the setting is compact and the rules easy to learn. Players are encouraged to help shape the adventure."

The original rules in German have been released under a Creative Commons license and can be found on a downloads page along with a number of supplements. A softcover print version is available as well. Sprechen sie Deutsch?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

DIY Gelatinous Cube: The Quick and The Dirty

I read Michael Curtis' post on his homemade Gelatinous Cube miniature and was inspired to give it a go. For some reason I always think of gelatinous cubes as translucent green even though I know they're described as "nearly transparent" - a google image search shows I'm not alone. I really don't understand it. Part of their appeal is the fact that PCs might walk straight into them. Still, maybe translucent green wouldn't show up with infravision or as much under torch light. Maybe the green version is a peculiar local variety in my game. Whatever.

The Quick: My first thought was: why make a mini? I can just take a plastic dice container, remove the bottom, turn it upside down, and voila! This has the added advantage of allowing you to put it over the top of your players' minis. If you like a green version, get out a green marker and use it to color the plastic container. If you don't want to permanently color it you can cut and fold some green acetate to the right size and put it in the container, taping or gluing it there if you like. I cut two sheets to try this since I couldn't be bothered to measure where to make folds.

Looks a little more like a gelatinous parallelepiped than a cube though. Not very gelatinous either.

Therefore, The Dirty: I really like some of the epoxy-resin mold produced versions of the Gel Cubes I've seen on the web. But there's something about being able to take another mini and put it inside the dang thing whenever you like that appeals to me. Plus, some of that stuff looked pretty toxic at the art store. So I decided to construct my own cube. First I got a length of balsa wood, about 3/16"x3/16" by 2'. I cut this up into appropriately sized pieces (I was going for a 2" cube) and glued them together in a such way that there would be some reinforcement.
Then I cut some green acetate into 5 squares slightly smaller than 2"x2" each and glued these to 5 sides of my cube. These gave it a little more strength. Too late, I realized that I should have painted the balsa before gluing it together as its pale color would be easily seen through the acetate once I was finished. Ah well, I painted it after the fact as best I could.

Next, I took some paper clay (since it air dries) and molded this around all the edges, leaving aside the open bottom face of the cube.

Then I painted it. The whole thing came out way more green than I'd wanted. Still, I've grown attached to the little monster... Here's our hero, before and after being swallowed by the creature.

Friday, November 26, 2010

OSRIC Session Journal: Trippin' at Camp

I’ve been meaning to put up a session report from our OSRIC game (where I’m not the DM) for more than a week now…

In this last short session, the two clerics and the illusionist drank the addicting, vision producing substance we had in our possession in the hopes that it would convey (as purported) some of our enemy’s tactics. We were pretty certain that the enemy was also drinking it, desiring to see what we were doing.

We knew the "Midnight Eye” often merely produced hallucinations, but still hoped to learn something useful. This wasn’t the first time we’d had some party members drink the stuff, and had prepared accordingly - we wanted the imbibers to be well rested and battle worthy again as soon as possible.

Vadco, Gladric, and the ranger were on watch outside of the cave entrance - they heard something coming down the tunnel, scraping sounds, and then they saw a handful of goblins with bows, all of them slow and obviously under the influence of the amber ooze. Too late we realized that we might have had the others drink one at a time instead of all at once.

The goblins were at some distance, and Gladric shouted to Demurarg to cast her fireball. She was hesitant to use the spell on mere goblins, but Gladric talked her into it. Vadco nearly killed Gladric by misfiring his bow, but Demurarg wiped the goblins out. Vadco perhaps somewhat drunkenly considered skinning the goblins of their faces for masks, but as they were burned up pretty badly it was not worth pursuing or discussing.

Now the party turned its attention more fully to those who had imbibed the magic elixir. Ouze the cleric sat cross-legged with his hands outstretched and an ecstatic look on his face. Dennis the gnome stood staring blankly ahead. Benedict (the lawful good cleric) was curled up in a fetal position shivering and moaning. They threw a blanket over him and went to sleep. Three hours later everyone checked back in with the imbibers.

Ouze said “I had a feeling of unity with all things. It almost makes no sense to talk about it now.” “Yes, yes,” said Gladric impatiently. “I’ve been there. But did you see anything of value with regard to our opponents' future actions?” Ouze’s further responses were too Moody Blues to be of any real use, so the group moved on to the next imbiber.

Dennis the gnome said “I was amongst a vanguard of warriors. They were perhaps insects of tremendous stature. They rode great steeds made of minerals into a mist of many colors.” He chuckled to himself. The group tried to interrogate him further, but it was quickly obvious that anything else he said was indecipherable. Gladric surmised that their opponents might be riding giant ants as steeds. Vadco felt that it was a good omen.

They went to Benedict next. “I felt so cold and alone and sick. Please! Give me wine! Trouble awaits! Dire trouble!” was pretty much all they could glean from him. It was fun role-playing interacting with these three fools tripping in our campground, trying to discern anything that might be of value in their visions. Kudos to Nick the newbie DM.

They asked the druid with them if he knew of any race or creatures that might fit the description of insects riding steeds, to which he replied that he wasn’t aware of anything like that and that Dennis might simply be relating some heroic story of the gnomes that had bubbled up from the depths of his brain. This seemed as likely as anything.

Their captive claimed to be starving, and Gladric was a little cruel in testing whether or not this was true - he was concerned that their rations might be running low and reluctant to give them up to someone he didn’t trust. Vadco helpfully suggested that there was some roasted goblin nearby if he got desperate.

Everyone ate and rested for another day and then they went underground again, back to the sole tunnel which they hadn’t yet explored. This passageway was very narrow. Anrid and the druid entered and proceeded a short ways when they saw three pairs of eyes which became war dogs running towards them and growling. Dennis fumbled some oil at their feet and yelled a warning to not drop any torches. Vadco was able to attack from behind with a spear and he and the druid managed to dispatch the beasts. The druid thought he heard something ahead though.

They proceeded carefully, coming out into a chamber of indeterminate size. Emerging slowly from the darkness they saw several naked women… Slobbering amber ooze from their mouths. One of them seemed to awkwardly wield a cat o’ nine tails. Another feebly brandished a noose, and another a piece of wood. These were defeated fairly quickly, but the druid was knocked to the ground unconscious and the session ended.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fun with Mushrooms

I was delighted to discover the king trumpet mushrooms my wife had bought for use on Thanksgiving, and immediately pulled them out of the fridge and went looking for miniatures to pose with them. I soaked some paper towels and put them around the bases of the mushrooms to get them to stand up straight so I could take a decent picture.One quick and dirty GIMP job later, I've a fairly decent image to complement a future game location's description. It could use some work here and there but it's a start. :P

Saturday, November 20, 2010

B2 Bugbear Lair Map and Note Card

It's fun to see these piling up... This latest one seemed to work better on an index card in portrait orientation. Click the pic above to download.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

B2 Kobold Lair Map and Note Card

Here's another index card for notes with map pulled from B2 to use as a minidungeon wherever... I'd hoped to get more done this week but work hasn't left me much time. This one came out a little brighter. Click the image above for the PDF.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

S&W Sessions Journal: A Fat Dinner

Thursday night's game turned into a short solo session with only Nick able to play. There’s a new magic user PC named Kimoth (rolled up to replace the fighter named Frayse a few sessions back), but since his player wasn’t with us, I had him stay at the inn. He’s from the far south, on the borderlands of a region called Athanor. :)

There was the usual mucking about in town, but Wagstaff had earlier accepted an invitation and escort to dinner with the castellan. During this session he went, and was seated a good ten or more seats away from him. Wagstaff listened intently for rumors and ate the best meal of his life. He purposefully limited his drink consumption to no more than 3 beers, but something happened. Nick was a little pissed when I told him he was feeling inebriated, and I had to explain that the food itself seemed intoxicating, perhaps magically so, and he felt compelled to drink more as well… In the end, he never mustered the courage to speak to the castellan directly (or perhaps Nick wisely sensed that he might say something more revealing than he would have liked, given his state), but he did glean some useful information about the location of the caves. He also learned from a guildmaster’s wife that the castellan admires “Courage…and punctuality!” It was obvious that she herself admired the castellan a bit more than her husband.

After dinner, Wagstaff had to stagger back to the inn alone. He passed out in the common room even though he’d paid for a private room, and was awoken by Agnal and Gulch the next morning. These two tried to pick his brain - after this, Wagstaff convinced them to journey the mile or so down the road towards the caves he’d heard about at the party.

Nick’s a very cautious low level player, I’m happy to say. He had the party approach one of the cave entrances to within 15 feet. Once at that distance, Agnal detected the stench of goblins (having had an embarrassing previous experience with them). Wagstaff was happy enough to find the caves location and a sense of what they held, and they returned to the keep, perhaps considering that they were only three in number. They'd hired two men-at-arms in the tavern, but these hadn’t joined them on this brief recon trip. That was the end of the session. At this point, I’m starving to get them underground and chopping up monsters again.

Friday, November 12, 2010

B2 Orc Lairs Note Card & Map

Here's another mini-dungeon culled from B2, formatted as a map/note card. Like the previous post here, only this one is of the orc lairs at the Caves of Chaos... click the image below for a closer look or to download.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Caves of Chaos as Mini Dungeons

Spoilers ahead - please stop reading if you're a player in this game.

Being caught completely off-guard by the direction the party took last time, I'd grabbed B2 off the shelf to fill in for one of the half dozen castles found in the area that I hadn't sketched out yet. While at the keep, they heard about some caves not far away, and as they're conveniently just off the road to the central part of the Dordogne Valley, I'm assuming they'll want to check them out. I'll probably be incorrect if recent history is any guide but I figure it's good to have at least something prepared for a session.

We were going to play Tuesday but it was rescheduled for tonight, so I spent some time today looking over B2 again, and the Caves of Chaos in particular. It's easy to chop them up into mini-dungeons and use them anywhere they're suddenly needed. I decided I'd take the Goblin Lair and Ogre's Cave and excise them from the rest of the module's map for tonight if they decide to investigate. The secret doors in rooms 17 and 21 are erased and voila! Simple as that. I haven't bothered to look again at the other caves because I already rumored the existence of an ogre nearby during the last session. This seemed to interest Wagstaff. Little do they know that it's the same ogre that tore the legs off of little Timmy (or even who that is), but it'll make for some fun role-playing if they can drop the thing and then meet up with Tim the half halfling (quarterling?) down the road.

My desk space is limited, and regular readers know I'm obsessed with putting everything onto index cards - the small map of the caves the party might explore tonight is no exception. I hate fussing with larger maps unless I really have to - although I probably spent a little too much time making this index card version today. If it's of interest or use, you can download the PDF by clicking the thumbnail image below. The resolution is pretty good so I suppose it could work for a 8.5x11" landscape also.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Las Vegas Tunnel People

Every time I see news articles about modern troglodytes, a part of me is glad to know that the human species may actually stand a chance of surviving a global catastrophe because of them. Not that these folk living beneath Vegas would necessarily stand much of a chance - I have to think their city's days are about as numbered as any could be. I also wonder how much more fascinating or shocking articles like these are to non-American readers (I remem- ber how often I was asked by Europeans and Japanese about homeless people in San Francisco when I was a tour guide there years ago).

In unrelated news, I'm hoping our small group will get together online for a session tonight. Hopefully we have overcome or can work around the technical problems that have been preventing us for the last few weeks or more.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Against the Giants

Congrats to my old town, it's been a long time coming...
This is probably as good a time as any to say that I'll be stepping back from blogging a bit - between the requirements of work and the fact that my games are on hold anyway, it makes sense. Fight on! - I'll be reading and making the occasional comment... I just need to take a bigger break for awhile.

Update: Obviously blogging is addicting...