Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rogues - Free Paper Miniatures

I haven't made any of these in a long time... Originally, I was going to call this one "Two thieves and an assassin" but then I figured they're pretty much all just rogues, right? The dagger wielding assassin with dagger dripping poison could just as easily be a backstabbing thief with a dagger dripping blood...

Here's the 4x6" PDF for printing on an index card or other heavier weight paper. Thanks to Telecanter for sharing the source images used here (and in many of my other paper minis).

Intermission Music - Fantastic Soap

The beer made me make this.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hardcore Dawn Patrol Players ... Ludotecnia's Dogfight

I’ve never played Dawn Patrol that I can remember but I’d love to check it out (anyone have one to sell or trade?)… I was doing some quick web searches for it over the weekend and found this impressive set of pics from someone’s campaign set up. It took about a year of preparation…

Daaanng..More pics and info.

Then I discovered the spanish RPG “Dogfight” by Ludotecnia. It’s part of a series of games called Cliffhanger which are being published once a month and cost only a few euros apiece. I’m hoping to get my hands on a couple of these… There’s a nice little review here. Just thought I'd share for any fans of the genre.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Servants of the Servers

The Servants of the Servers are a religious order that’s very different from other cults. Indeed, its members would claim that they aren’t a religion at all, and that they don’t believe in gods or even magic for that matter.

From an outsider's view though, the members of the order seem to worship impersonal forces known as the Servers. Some Servers are said to be very deep underground, and others are like stars, regularly crossing the sky and sometimes easily observable at night. The Servants do not regard these entities as gods - they describe them as creations of the ancients; tools which were originally constructed to aid mankind.

Members are trained to pronounce certain sounds and visualize certain symbols in order to telepathically communicate with these Servers. The Servers, in turn, signal a great and varied number of other ancient constructs too small to be seen with the eye, and coordinate the activities and movement of these to accomplish the servants’ bidding. The Servants call these smaller and highly mobile entities “Nanites” and describe them as infusing nearly every inch of the world’s air, water, and soil.

The term “Servants” itself is really a misnomer - the phrase “Servants of the Server” was coined by those outside the faith and fails to understand the true nature of the relationship of its members with the constructs they refer to as the Servers. In reality, the Servants regard the Servers as equals - they see their role, along with the nanites, as just a part of a system that forms a holy trinity. They believe that if others would take up their point of view and cease the selfish and haphazard use of magic, the world could return again to a peaceful state of being, where everyone’s needs were met and conflict did not exist.

There’s an unmistakeable evangelism to the order that many of those who come into contact with find offensive. It takes the form of disdain for all forms of worship and especially for magic use itself, which they see as the ignorant and dangerous manipulation of the Servers. They view the followers of other religions as deluded and backwards, and at best view gods as (admittedly) powerful charlatans who are abusing the power of the Servers for their own selfish ends. Also off-putting is their open use of a language that seems to be artificially constructed, purposefully complicated, and whose meaning is rarely translated for outsiders.

The beliefs of the SotS are based on the views of several prophets, and on those found in an ancient manuscript found fairly recently and written by a man known only as “RMS”. Among other things it describes a previous golden age and civilization’s self-destruction due to the selfish and excessive manipulation of the Servers. Though its followers deny it being so, it’s still viewed as a religion by nonbelievers for two simple reasons. First, because no one in the order has been able to prove the existence of nanites and that the powers they supposedly exhibit aren’t just some type of more typical magic. Similarly, it’s unknown if anyone has ever touched a Server or seen one up close, and all attempts to do so through magical means have failed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm Just Tryin' to Find the Bridge...

Has anyone seen the bridge?

Items Missing from the Library of Lord Beynac

Current and Prospective Players: Please skip this post.

Here’s a draft of a handout from my Dordogne setting S&W game. I see this letter falling into the hands of the players, though I’m not sure how yet. It might be stolen, found on a dead body, or the original courier hires the party to deliver it for some reason and they just can’t resist taking a little peak. Or maybe an enterprising, intended recipient shares it with the party and hires them to help recover the missing items.

The idea for missing books probably came to me after reading a great series of posts by Joseph Browning. Books seem full of game changing possibilities - they can simply be valuable for what they are, or they could contain valuable information (or here, hidden valuable objects). They make great hooks, and aside from that, they can help convey some local flavor.

I’m not sure how useful the list and letter here might be to anyone else - maybe just as inspiration or for quick use in a jam. I’ve numbered the books to make it easy to randomly select one when needed. They’re not particularly fanciful - I wanted them to at least somewhat approximate what might be found in Lord Beynac’s library. Their specific inspiration came individually after having taken stock of some of my own books - maybe you can spot a couple you recognize.

(Click the thumbnail image above for fonty version of the below text).

To: Sergeant of the Guard, Bridge at Turnapeak
Subject: Items Missing from the Library of Lord Beynac

The following books are hereby listed as missing and presumed stolen from the personal library of Lord Beynac. This list was compiled at his lordship’s request, following his order of a review of last year’s annual inventory record. In addition to yourself, other copies of this list are being provided to the Keep’s Captain of the Guard, Sergeant of the Guard, Bailiff, and the Corporal of the Guard at Domme Crossing. A salary bonus, two day’s leave, or a case of gueuze is offered for the return of any and all items in this list, or for information leading to their return.

3. A Collection of Popkin Favorites by Tirel
4. Astrology and the Bowels by A. Vatts
5. My Life Among the Kobolds by Anon.
6. Hymnal of Suthac (purple cover)
7. A History of Ockland Duplicity by Sarthac
8. Upkeep of the Keep, A Guide to Annual Maintenance
9. An Illustrated Guide to the Low Dance by Raimon de Cornet
10. Rules to Card Games by Michel Dupris
11. How to Sack a Castle by Ragäh the Unpleasant
12. The Memoirs of Brother Arseny
13. The Philosophy of Goldmund by Narz
14. Roots of Elvish Magic by Erynein
15. The Masks of Gageac, A Play in Two Acts
16. Omens and Skywriting by Jean Leon de Vesoul
17. Treatise on the Four Loves by Louis Sies
18. Hocus Phokus - A Swordsmen’s Guide to Countering Magical Holds by Ivan Agüt

Be aware that the above listed “Treatise on the Four Loves” is of particular sentimental value to Lord Beynac although likely of little value to anyone else. It is tightly bound in twine and easily indentified by its cover which depicts two lovers embracing. Should this book be recovered, please take extra precautions to insure it comes to no harm in transit, and be sure it remains unopened to minimize the chance of pages coming loose.

In the service of Lord Beynac, signed

Jean Tertius

More information if found...

3. Rare cookbook. Describes various complicated recipes involving popkin fairies. Value: Up to 100gp.
4. A strange book of interest to magic users or fortune tellers only. Value: Up to 50gp.
5. An entertaining and uncommon title. Tells the tale of an Ocklander adopted and raised by a tribe of kobolds. 25gp
6. A rare version of the more typical, red covered hymnal. Showing it to priestesses at a temple of Suthac will bring free healing, curing of disease, and a great many questions. Value: 25gp.
7. Written by an Ogled noble during the last war (some 50 years ago). Value: Up to 10gp. Worthless outside of the Dordogne Valley. Ocklanders will be eager to buy and destroy it.
8. A dreadfully boring book of some utility. Up to 10gp value.
9. No one will want this but a wealthy merchant or member of the nobility. Mighty handy though, if you’re ever invited to a fancy low dance affair. Up to 5gp value.
10. A cheap book, easily replaced and common, although Lord Beynac is so out of touch he doesn’t know it. 1gp
11. Once rare, there’s now one in every castle. Up to 5gp value.
12. Memoirs of a cleric, his imprisonment, torture, and eventual escape. Up to 10 gp value to scholars, no value to others.
13. Another book of scholarly interest, though slightly more valuable (up to 10gp).
14. Contains some beginning magic user theory and several cantrips. Value: Up to 25gp.
15. A play, written by a long deceased local - a town in the Dordogne is named for the author (who is also a figure in the play). The play is still sometimes performed in Sarlat. This old copy is signed by Gageac himself - though who could vouch for the signature is uncertain. Value: Up to 50gp.
16. Another book of interest to magic users or fortune tellers only. Up to 50gp value.
17. If the twine is undone, and opened, this book will reveal a hollowed out space containing four keys. Sold unopened, it will fetch up to 4sp.
18. Value up to 200gp. If studied for a week, it permanently lends +2 on saving throws vs. Hold Person. Useless to clerics and magic users.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beyond Belief Games Releases S&W based Woodland Warriors

Beyond Belief Games has published Woodland Warriors - a woodland creatures role playing game based on Mythmere Games’ Swords & Wizardry. I’ve been following BBG’s updates in the S&W forums and hope to entice my wife into a game now that it’s available.

“WOODLAND WARRIORS is a fantastic little role playing game suitable for kids and adults alike. It uses the popular Swords & Wizardry Core with modifications to more closely suit the genre (for example, WOODLAND WARRIORS uses D6 throughout), which itself is based on the original role playing game of medieval fantasy adventure. Readers of Redwall and other fantasy-animal books will love this game. Set in the Alder Vale, Stonewell Abbey is a place of learning for the Kind and a bastion against evil. Players take the role of Mice, Moles, Hedgehogs, Squirrels and Badgers, who must protect their Abbey against the Verminous Rats and Weasels that pour down from the Murkenhills, intent on pillage and plunder. Danger and adventure awaits - are you brave enough to put your sword to the defence of Stonewell?”

Woodland Warriors is available for $5 on RPGNow as a downloadable, 114 page PDF. It includes a small campaign setting and sample adventure...Seems like quite a bargain. I hope it becomes available in print as well.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Phroaig and a Bigfoot

A few words on two beverages this evening...

First up: Laphroaig. A scotch - I’ve had it before, but it’s been some time and I only considered it again after reading Barad the Gnome’s recent write up. So I had this at Izakaya Meiji Company a couple days ago, and as soon as it touched the table, I immediately remembered it as one of the most smoky, peaty scotches I've ever had. My wife recoiled from the table in horror, and I began to have second thoughts. I drank the first half neat and then added just a dash of water for the second half. That opened it up nicely, but caused my wife to reel backwards again. I briefly thought my eyes might start watering, but maintained composure in the lady's presence.

For the uninitiated or non-scotch drinker, I would say that this one might cause the weak-kneed to become faint or nauseous. Not to say it's bad - far from it. It's just got a lot going on and advertises it in its bouquet without shame. Definitely your grandfather's dad's scotch, briefly evoking the memory of dangerous chemicals in a run down shed, perhaps stored in a rusting, metal container and daring you to bravely (and deeply) inhale the spirit within. I should add, with much better consequences.

Next up: Sierra Nevada’s 2011 Bigfoot Ale (a barleywine). Two words: Blew it. Or, in one word: Burnt. I’ve been drinking these for some years now, and never really been too much of a fan, but I do partake of a single Bigfoot every year to see what’s what at the big SN. Sorry, this year, it’s a big “Don’t buy.” Maybe I just got a bad batch, but I doubt it.

I drank the missing links too.

Incidentally fellow beer snobs, did you know that apparently people will pay (beer) money for your old beer bottlecaps? Yep. I've got a good 350+ different caps here from the last few years. Pacific Northwest and all... Seems almost a shame that the best ones don't bother to put anything distinctive on their caps. On a barely related note, please customize your new "Print Friendly" buttons! It's like someone went on a tagging spree and puked green gobs all over yer blogs. Eesh.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

S&W Sessions Journal: Agnal Bites the Dust

Agnal the Chaotic cleric died last night, which was sad to me for a number of reasons, one of which was simply because he was nearing 3rd level and everyone else is 1st or 2nd. The dice were just against him - after four of the seven party members entered a chamber, a giant spider dropped from the ceiling, surprising them. It managed to land directly on top of Agnal, quickly scoring 6 points of attack damage (he had 7) and though its poison was weak (+2 bonus to save) and though he was a cleric (+2 against poison per S&W), he failed his saving throw.

To add insult to mortal injury, Girard critically fumbled and chopped off Agnal's arm while he lay unconscious and dying from poison. The irony was not lost on Henri, who himself had lost an arm on their very last outing. Henri was the first to speak up, saying “I get his armor” following the awkward silence that had briefly descended once they’d dispatched the spider. Agnal was stripped of all possessions, right down to his skivvies, following his wishes and the rites of his deity - Corrno, God of Thieves...

So much for all my work in devising the mysteries of his order. I suppose they still might be used by Kitoth, the magic user turned cleric following his blinding, who was converted by Agnal not long before his death. Big shoes to fill there Kitoth, especially considering you’re blind and nearly worthless since you don’t get magic until second level and have practically no way to gain experience points since, oh yeah, you’re blind.

It was immediately clear that the party leader was assumed to be Wagstaff again. The thief will no doubt miss his long time traveling companion but seems more than happy to be running the show again.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Have some GIMP brushes

I converted some of the designs at Roles, Rules, and Rolls into GIMP brushes - I didn't have any stairs brushes yet and I especially like Roger's spiral staircases. If you like them, there's a host of other designs in his original Powerpoint file that you might useful too. You can download the GIMP brushes in a zip file here. CC license. Thanks again Roger!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Gaming Experience - How Long and How Continuously?

I suspect I’m in the minority when I consider my gaming experience in comparison to other OSR bloggers. Probably most of my fellow bloggers have been gaming more or less continuously since the early editions of D&D, either never having stopped playing those editions or maybe returning to them recently for a variety of reasons. Personally, I only returned fairly recently to any kind of gaming (after about a twenty year break!)...

To be honest, I only became interested in role playing games again after struggling to finish some short works of fiction. A friend and I had agreed that it might be interesting to collaborate on a screenplay and we settled on something we referred to as our “Bloody Mess”. It was a work of horror that centered around a blood bank, government approval of artificial blood for use in a small pilot program, and the (I thought) hilarious consequences.

As that project lost momentum, at one point I came up with the idea of role playing exercises to get the ball rolling again. Originally I was looking at CoC or BRP for help with this, although we also discussed using some kind of framework of our own design. Eventually, we settled on the games we knew from many years ago - namely, early editions of D&D. It didn’t really fit with what we were trying to accomplish in our writing, but we still thought it would be an interesting exercise. Probably we both secretly yearned for an excuse (as if one was needed) to play the games we'd enjoyed in our youth again.

In the end, the writing fell by the wayside but we continued to play our one on one games of D&D, which had taken on a life of their own and become a lot of fun. Along the way, I’ve played with a few other folk, and we’ve had some guest appearances in our game from time to time as well.

So, am I wrong? Have you been playing non-stop since you were a kid? How many years have you been playing more or less continuously, and how many years would you say you’ve played total..? I wonder how many OSR bloggers came back to the game recently versus those who’ve never stopped playing but just went back to earlier editions of the game. I’d be interested in hearing from my fellow bloggers about their experience, but I’ve put up a poll here as well in case you prefer to be anonymous or prefer its brevity. I’m not sure if I phrased the options as well as I could have, but it’s a start.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Prison Scenario

In trying to devise some in-town adventure scenarios, I came up with the idea of a prison riot. The mistreated petty thieves, smugglers, and a murderer or two awaiting trial or execution manage to escape and take over the building where they were imprisoned. Barricading themselves inside, holding hostages as well as some good crossbow sniping positions from the upper levels, they might hold off a massive counterattack from the town’s militia. Maybe the poor choice of the prison’s location, close in to other buildings, is also hampering efforts to retake it. Then there’s the evil magic user still in solitary confinement - the other prisoners are scrambling to find the hidden key that would free him in order to gain his aid.

The idea came to me while thinking about Boot Hill and old western movies actually. I like the idea of the bad guys taking over a town, or at least making a lot of trouble in it, and the party, as newly deputized lawmen, having to retake control.

I’m not sure how much fun it would be though - it sounds a bit more like a war game scenario than one for role playing. I can see a lot of tactics being discussed, and magic used to work around the barricades and somehow gain entry. I’d want to create some sympathy in the party for the escapees too - maybe one of them really is innocent (“I was framed I tell ya!”) and the party uncovers some kind of high level corruption.

It might be better suited to slightly more experienced PCs than our current crew, which are all first and second level. I’ll post a follow up if anything comes from it. I'm a little bummed that work and dealing with taxes have been keeping me from giving any real attention to the hobby or blog lately, and the last two sessions of our usual weekday game were canceled too.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Google Mars as Campaign Map

Though I’m using the Dordogne Valley in the south of France as a rough geographical location in my game, it seems like use of historical or real world maps in campaign settings is relatively uncommon. While playing around with Google Earth the other day, it dawned on me that it’s now possible to accurately do the same thing using another actual planet - namely Mars, using the View > Explore > Mars setting. While the Google Mars website itself would probably prove more valuable for most mapping purposes, the Google Earth application has some great animation and view options that could help with visualizing terrain details. For that matter, war gamers could use both to really create some terrific battle maps and scenarios.

Here's a short little animation I recorded using Google Earth to show the progression of some historical maps of Mars up to the present day...

Nathaniel Green (1877)
Giovanni Schiaparelli (1890)
Percival Lowell (1896)
Eugène Michel Antoniadi (1909)
United States Air Force (1962)

You can download a much higher quality version here (34mb .m4v file).

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sinornithosaurus Postcard

First I found the List of Fictional Diseases on Wikipedia (fun discussion there too), which I thought might be of game use or inspiration. That led me to the List of Fictional Toxins, which eventually led me to the Sinornithosaurus. An image seach later and bam, Sinornithosaurus in your face.