Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Crazy Ideas - How Far Am I Willing to Go?

  I am working on Tiny Kingdom (an adventure set in the garden of a mad arch-mage where the characters are just an inch tall) and updating The Book of Seaward (my book of house rules) and prepping a 2nd edition of Far Realms (my rues supplement for the OSR). I am also talking with the kids, playtesting Rolemaster Unified, rebooting a Champions campaign, starting a new business, and dealing with 4 family birthdays in just 15 days.
  So last night I was re-reading Hackmaster 5th because I have absolutely nothing else to do with my time and remember how much I like how they did the fighter/knight/paladin thing. Son #3 was getting some NPC classes (from my book Far Realms, an excellent stocking stuffer, if you'll forgive the hint) when we started talking about NPC improvement. One of his PCs has a hireling, a mercenary spearman, who has been to Skull Mountain 3 times and lived through it all. He and I agreed that this guy has done enough that he is no longer a 0-level merc, but a level 1 Man-at-Arms and can advance to at least level 2
  Son #1 joined in, asking about his 4th level Man-at-Arms, who is fairly tough and has been through the wringer. Son #1 asked,
  "Let's say he drank a potion of super-heroism, grabbed a +2 axe, and brought down, oh, a fire elemental. Could that be enough to transform him into a 4th level fighter? A 3rd level fighter?"
  We also spoke about the DCC 'funnel'; we've only glanced at borrowed rules and never played DCC, but the idea was interesting - can the schmoes of the NPC world become PC classes through Great Deeds?
  Then Son #2 came in with some of his work on Tiny Kingdom and his suggestions for some custom classes for the mice men and bumblebee knights and Son #4 asked if we should just break down and put a mini-retroclone section in front of Tiny Kingdom so it can stand alone; after all, with a bunch of new classes....
  But I said there are not just a lot of great retroclones already, the OD&D/AD&D books can be had, now, so if I am going to make a game, it will be different and new.

  20 minutes later we had this;

 It can be hard to see, but it is an advancement tree for the fighter classes. All start as Men-at-Arms and then you can either stay a Man-at-Arms or move on to Woodsman, Warrior, or Nobleman. Warriors can go on to be Weapons Masters; Woodsmen can be Weapon masters or Rangers; Noblemen can be Cavaliers; etc. It would be similar to the old Palladium RPG but you could move up, down, or sideways, as with hackmaster 5th. Men-at-Arms fight less well and have fewer HP, but a lot more mundane skills. Others trade skills for HP or fighting or special abilities. 
  The other 'big four' classes would have similar trees:
  Allowing players to mix, match, and customize their PCs.
  Again, this was back of the envelope stuff from last night - thoughts?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Adding to Appendix N: Clark Ashton Smith, the Beast of Averoigne, Castle Amber, and Horror. A scattered bit of writing.

There will be spoilers for Clark Ashton Smith tales and for the module Castle Amber within - be warned!!

note: written late and editing will be done in a day or three.

  Every Halloween I run my players through a classic module. This year it is Castle Amber.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Movie Review: Shin Godzilla

Ultrabrief Capsule Review:
Number of theater-wide chuckles: 2
Number of theater-wide laughs - 3
Number of theater-wide 'wow!'s - 2
Number of theater-wide 'daaaaaaammnn's - 1
Ovation at the end? - yes, not standing
Out of 5 stars? - 5

full review below

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Magic Item of the Week: The Shadow Bow

  The party just got one of these in the loot from the second level of Skull Mountain.
  Shadow bows come in ally types of self bow and are always enchanted at least +1 Their unique power is that any arrow fired from the bow is Invisible until it strikes its target. Because the arrows are unseen in flight defenders have and Dexterity-based improvement to armor class reduced by 2 points and monks have a -4 to deflect the missiles.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Let Me Add Something on How To Add More People to the OSR

  Over at Tenkar's Tavern the host has written about how to add players - play in public.
  He's not wrong, but he's missing something.
  See, he's talking about playing at a store aimed at us and bringing in people who play Pathfinder, 4e, and other things.
  That's great! Bring them in! But there is more.

  I have mentioned how my son started a new game with total newbies. Well, their tenth game is next week and there are now 5 regular players and they are recruiting more, all of them fresh to RPGs. That, to me, is even more critical than exposing people who play other games to the OSR - bringing totally fresh blood to RPGs in general.

  And it doesn't just have to be teens.

  Think about how long you have been playing RPGs. Now, in that time how many of your non-gaming friends and co-workers have you tried to 'bring in'? I have asked co-workers, classmates, and relatives. My most daring was either the guy sitting next to me on a 6 hour greyhound bus trip or a girl I met on a blind date on our second date.
She and I have been married for almost 25 years, now, BTW.
  I have had a lot of success bringing people into RPGs just by asking 'want to come over for game night?' and not saying anything else. I make sure I have a wide range of games - HERO system, Star Wars, Marvel Super-Heroes, Traveller, and (of course) AD&D. We talk to them about the movies and books they like and then pull out the game that seems most apropos. That date? HUGE Star Wars fan, so it was WEG's D6 Star Wars. These days it is easy to start with the LotR or Hobbit movie franchises or Marvel, but it all works.

  Another thing Ii do these days is have stuff ready to email them - PDFs of OSRIC, character sheets, party log, and a simple free adventure module. As a family we buy those Pound O' Dice packs as needed so we can hand them a set of dice, too.

  Yes! Play in public! But also talk to the people you know.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Return to Skull Mountain - After the Second Session

  Follows this report.

  The party:
  JL - Brigid, 6th level human Barbarian (custom class)
      Byron, 5th level Cleric henchman
  JR - Seeker, 4th/6th elven Magic-User/Thief
      Kaspar, 3rd level human Scout (custom class) henchman
      Marion, 1st level human Bard (custom class) henchman
  AJ - Starfalcon, 5th level half-elf Ranger
  ST - "Clint", 5th level human Paladin
      Willem, 5th level human Hedge Mage (NPC class) henchman [at base camp]
      Arthur, 5th level human Man-at-Arm henchman
      Akio, 3rd level human Monk henchman
      Baldric, 1st level human Fighter henchman
      Meritus the Tall, 1st level human Cleric henchman
      Spearman hireling [at base camp]
      Healer hireling (custom) [at base camp]
  NH - Thorin, 3rd/3rd half-orc Fighter/Thief

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Return to Skull Mountain - Brief After Session Report

  Today's session was after a non-combat session about the sage and the stars.
  Today the characters were

  JL - Brigid, 6th level human Barbarian (custom class)
      Byron, 5th level Cleric henchman
  JR - Seeker, 4th/6th elven Magic-User/Thief
      Kaspar, 3rd level human Scout (custom class) henchman
      Marion, 1st level human Bard (custom class) henchman
  AJ - Starfalcon, 5th level half-elf Ranger
  ST - "Clint", 5th level human Paladin
      Willem, 5th level human Hedge Mage (NPC class) henchman
      Arthur, 5th level human Man-at-Arm henchman
      Akio, 3rd level human Monk henchman
      Baldric, 1st level human Fighter henchman
      Meritus the Tall, 1st level human Cleric henchman
      Spearman hireling
      Healer hireling (custom)
  NH - Thorin, 3rd/3rd half-orc Fighter/Thief

  Willem, the spearman, and the healer stayed in the kitchen/hall area of the Entrance behind a barricaded North Door in a base camp with food, equipment, components, holy water, etc. They had a horn to signal if attacked.
  The party proceeded directly to what they are calling the Pilgrim Doors and unbarred them. The went down the stairs beyond and soon emerged into landing area dimly lit by magic. Starfalcon sensed a secret door, so Brigid (the toughest fighter) opened it and began to enter. When the green slime spattered onto her armor Byron yanked her back and Clint burned it off with his Flametongue. As they were checking her for damage Clint thrust his Flametongue into the secret passage and watched the green slime seep into cracks in the floor.
  They began to explore the passage when Akio noted a skeletal figure in plate & mail armor and a bardiche stalking them. The skeleton was killed in short order.

  The party soon noted that a huge corridor, 20' wide and arching to 24' over head, seemed to 'box in' a huge space. The 'inner' wall of this corridor was decorated with bas reliefs - the northern half images of followers accompanied by fire elementals and devils as they attacked good places and people, the southern half similar but with ice elementals and devils. The outer wall had rooms and off-shoot corridors and the inner wall had a set of massive doors that seem to give access to the inner area.
  The party decided to clear out everything else before even entering the central space.

  In monk cells they were attacked by a starving ghoul that had been trapped for long years - Brigid and Clint took it down swiftly. In another room they found an Ioun Stone hidden in an ancient bedroll. In one place a section of the bas relief stepped out of the wall and fought them fiercely. After it was destroyed they returned to camp.
  The next day they found a massive statue to a fire elemental with devilish features. Byron Blessed it...
  ...and it exploded into a gout of flame that engulfed the entire party. With henchmen down (negative but not dead) and Seeker one point above zero they retreated to camp again, healed up, and returned.
  In another section they found an abandoned prison with dozens of cells. Beyond that was a large torture chamber - and the undead Headsman and Torturer, eager to fight!
  Brigid went berserk and charged the undead Headsman and his (obviously enchanted) bardiche while Clint closed with the Torturer and his magically-hot branding iron. This was a very tough fight for the party and if Brigid hadn't been berserk they would have retreated.
  The Torturer was tough and his branding iron was doing a lot of damage [1d8+7 from the blow and 1d8 heat]. When Clint was healed by Byron they learned to their horror that magic couldn't heal the heat damage! Brigid fought the Headsman fiercely, but he was almost as tough and his bardiche hurt, although not as much.
  Clint had to swap out with Starfalcon but stumbled (he was using Boots of Striding and Springing) was was out of battle for a round. Even with henchman pouring missile fire in and Seeker causing damage (he prefers to outthink his foes) with a spell (the first time in 2 levels) things were pretty grim!
  After a lot of rounds and a lot of badly hurt party members they prevailed. They checked on last room and found the gear of another party the two undead monsters had killed, then returned to camp.
  Before that happened however....

Thorin as a fascinating character to watch being played. His stats are fun - 17 strength, 16 dex, and a 19 con; as well as a 5 intelligence, 5 wisdom, and 6 charisma. NH plays him as a guileless innocent who happens to be nimble, strong, and tough. He is illiterate but very open, very kind, and very warm-hearted. His low charisma comes from his tendency to not speak, his confusion over all but the most straightforward topics, and his tendency to just appear out of nowhere, staring at you.
 Way back at first level, 18 months ago real-time, I rolled a random encounter and added a bracelet to a treasure haul, amused to see what happened. When the party retrieved everything I rolled reaction rolls for the bracelet for every party member. With Thorin it rolled 100. The bracelet has been worn by Thorin ever since. Why? It appeared on his wrist while he was sleeping and he just - accepted it.
In the many adventures since sometimes NH gets a note that says 'your bracelet tells you not to touch that' or something like it. The player has always had Thorin just do so, never saying anything to anyone. Tonight the bracelet told him to touch Clint and Clint's burns healed (Thorin's had already been healed). When the party asked him how he did that he simply said, "My bracelet told me to" and he went about his business.
At camp they did tests and queries and eventually figured out - Thorin's bracelet is an Agathion. I've been having fun with that for months!

  The party thinks they have just a few more rooms before they enter the central area.