Saturday, June 30, 2018

Review: Death Frost Doom

  My relationship with modules and ABOP (adventures by other people) is complex; In the '70's and '80's i ran many "official" modules set in Greyhawk for one of my groups. The other group was all-new, all-original Seaward. Most of the modules were gifts, as was Greyhawk.
  Now every year I take a 'classic' module and run it at Halloween. I have play tested a few (notably A Baker's Denizen which I modified to fit), and I will steal a map or a monster here and there. I like to occasionally use a map by someone else, totally restocked, to avoid becoming too predictable.

  But I do not like just using ABOP; they are usually very, very heavily modified unless it is a Halloween adventure. And while I really enjoy a few contemporary adventures, I usually don't get much more than elements for my own games from the work of other people.
  That's me, not you. I am idiosyncratic and quirky, so are my campaigns. My Hudson City based campaign for Champions is so modified I am, in the end, just using the map.

  But I do review things. And I am rather frankly merciless in my reviews. After the 8th person in 4 months asked me to review Death Frost Doom I said,

"I ain't buying it."
When they gave me their copy, I was on the hook. I am told this is the original version.

How I am Reviewing
I am drinking G&T's while I do a 'read through and review' where I give first impressions, so it might end up a drunk blog, too.
Then I will sum up.
No edits!

Spoilers to Follow

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Seaward/Skull Mountain: Prepping for Midsummer

As seen recently the party is preparing for not just using the magical binoculars on Midsummer, but a major incursion into Skull Mountain as far as the Cavern of Herds at a minimum. Yesterday was spent in a long prep session for the mission that involved a huge logistics effort.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Two Tales: North to Greenbough and Back Into Skull Mountain

Over Father's Day weekend the wife and I were sick, so gaming was limited. But not zero!

North to Greenbough
The Company of the Dark Moon was contacted by 'mutual friends' and a group set out for Greenbough, capitol of the county of the same name.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Seaward Travelogue: Clothing and Food

  Adding details in the background is important, so in addition to the high level overview of Seaward here is more of a travelogue.

Typical clothing is very straightforward;
Rural and Town Men: loose trousers, a tunic that falls to about mid-thigh, soft leather shoes, and a belt. In cold weather a hat and cloak (usually wool) are added.
Rural and Town Women: A long skirt, a tunic that come to just below the waist, soft leather shoes, a belt and a simple bonnet. In cold weather a hat and cloak (usually wool) are added.
Farm/field work, colliers, and other intense or dirty activities: A long overtunic that falls to midcalf is worn. In the Briars it is often of canvas to protect the wearer.
Cooking, Cleaning, and other Domestic activities: Women add a long apron.
Traveling Men and Women: In warm weather a straw hat is usually worn, in cold weather a woolen cap that covers the ears and ties under the chin.
Wealthy or Prestigious Men: Trousers are tighter, shoes are replaced with boots, and colorful vests are worn over the tunic. Merchants and tradesmen often wear flat caps (wool, leather, or felt) and nobles often wear a hat similar to a tyrolean but of soft material.
Wealthy or Prestigious Women: A decorative apron is added, hair is often in a snood.
Priests, Monks, and other Religious Men: Monks, acolytes, and such wear long, simple robes with rope belts, the colors of which identify their membership in various orders; most are barefoot or in simple sandals in all but the coldest weather. Priests wear cassocks with a roman collar and are always shod but wear a monk's robe when engaged is strenuous activity. In cold weather a long, hooded cloak is added.
Religious Women: Long dresses and aprons are worn, the colors of which identify their particular order. Their hair is always completely covered.
Festival or Feast Day clothing: Very similar to clothing worn by the wealthy for all, but non-nobles have added embroidery and bright colors while nobles will add rare fabrics. Typically only festival clothing is brightly colored, while typical/daily wear is brown, beige, darker yellow, etc.

Staples: Rye and wheat are the most common grains in the north, central, and east while oats are more common in the south and west. Cheese (firm and sharp from cow's milk or soft and mild from goat's milk are the two most common), pickles (cucumbers, cabbage [sauerkraut], radishes, turnips, carrots, asparagus, beets, and pears), and potatoes (including sweet potatoes) are ubiquitous. Along the major rivers beef is common while mutton dominates the west and south with pork and goat common throughout the area. Chickens are primarily kept for eggs so poultry is hard to find and expensive. Fish is also common along the rivers and dominates the coast. Game (venison) is popular and usually served fresh while farmed meat is usually preserved (smoked, cured, corned, or pickled). Eggs are popular with all meals.
Tea, ale, and wine are the primary beverages. Ale is only mildly alcoholic and is closer to 'short beer'.

Meals of the Day
The people of Seaward typically eat much less per meal but eat more often than a modern Westerner is used to.

Early Breakfast- Traditionally eaten before dawn immediately on awakening by farmers, soldiers, and such this is a light, cold meal of cheese, pickles, and ale.

Breakfast- Eaten before terce (about 9 am) this is usually unleavened oatcakes (rural) or rye bread (town) with butter, a mug of tea with honey, a bit of cheese, and cold meat.

Second Breakfast/Elevenses/Morning Tea- The name varies by region, but it is always a light snack eaten before midday. In Ekull and the south (Second Breakfast) it is traditionally a mug of ale, a sausage (much like a bratwurst), and a piece of rye bread with spicy mustard. From the Stone Hills through Timberlake and the central valley (Elevenses) it is usually a mug of gruel (usually ground malted barley with a bit of wheat flour cooked by simmering with milk) served hot in Winter, cold in Summer. Along the coast and the eastern areas (Morning Tea) it is typically a mug of tea with honey, either an oatcake with sweet butter or a scone with clotted cream, and not much else

Lunch- Usually served shortly after Noon, Lunch is almost universally a mug of ale, oatcakes or bread, local meat, cheese, and pickles.

Afternoon Tea- Served immediately after None (3 pm) Afternoon Tea (or just Tea) is tea, cheese, pickles, and cold meat with some sort of simple treat (bread with honey or gingerbread). It is traditionally a very informal light meal where courtesy, deference, and rank are respected but at the same time soldiers mix with commanders, servants eat at the same time as their employers, and nobles speak directly to farmers.

Dinner- The main meal of the day, usually 2-3 mugs of ale, meat, bread, cheese, pickles, fresh vegetables (when possible) and potatoes served at or shortly after sunset.

Supper- Far from universal, this is seen as a "soldier's meal" and is usually a bit of cheese or pickles with a bit of cold meat and a mug of ale served right after Compline (9 pm). Priests, monks, and nuns often have a small supper, as well.

Religious Considerations
Members of the Church do not eat meat (fish and shellfish are allowed) on Fivedays, nor on certain Threedays in Spring and Fall nor during any of the penitential days of Advent and Lent making fish the staple of about 120 days a year. As a result many farmers keep fish ponds and the people of Seaward have a fondness for pickled eel, smoked fish, and fish chowders.
At the other end on certain Solemnities (major religious holidays) it is traditional to dress up and eat special dishes!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Play Report: Tournaments in Seaward

Spring in Seaward is cause for nobles to leap out of bed with a smile - the tourneys have begun! As soon as the blooms begin there is a tourney in Ekull, then at Wyvern Keep, then Timberlake, then at the Shining Keep, and then the Royal Tourney at the capitol.

The noblemen Ludwig and Lenard assumed they could not attend this year when an agent of the king met them and asked them to solve a series of murders....

Note: Adventure added, needs more edit.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

High Level: My Seaward Campaign

  In 1979, as I recall right after the 4th of July, I showed my players a map that had a pirate's cove, a wizard's tower, and a town named Seaward.
  I am still running that campaign.

  When you play the setting comes out in notes and during play. When you read about it on the blog you miss a lot of context. So I will give a high-level summary.

Mild edits (more needed) and some expansion.