Friday, August 27, 2010

Session XX: The Grim Death Of Geddleesmote Hammersend

After defeating the dark Priest of the Black Church and his guardians, the party recovered the Crimson Skull of Yam Gregak. With some of the party having healed from battle, they continued to explore the remainder of the ruined temple as they made their way to the exit.

They found a locked room and with keys lifted from the dead priest they opened the door to his quarters. Searching the room they found a secret door with a chest of jewels and a staff. Giving the staff to Gnarly the Druid to hold onto they decide to make their way out and back to Caladan to return to Father Halford the Crimson Skull. But Gnarly seemed to become quite disgruntled and moody. Thinking that the cause of his moodiness may be coming from the staff, Geedlee buries the staff in a sack along with his treasure.

Leaving the room they see in the shadows of the corridor a statue. Debating if they should backtrack and avoid it Skwanky made their decision for them and tried to run past it. The statue lifted it's arm and from it's fingertips spewed forth molten rock badly burning the little halfling and sending him into unconsciousness.

The party moved in to attack the statue and rescue their companion. Wolfheir started hacking away at it while Nadrak advanced to heal the poor halfling. Geedleesmote, not realizing how hurt he actually was from the previous battle with the shadows and gargoyles, tied a noose in hopes of roping the and bringing down the statue. After a failed attempt the statue raised his arm and molten rock burst from his fingertips, engulfing the dwarf in flame and killing him.

Gnarly, shocked at the fall of his companion, awakened out of his stupor and aids in the battle.

Eventually, between Wolfheir and the Druid, the statue was brought to the the ground and defeated.

Skwanky was healed by Nadrak's potion but there was no hope for the burnt and battered body of the dwarf. Wolfheir, having had quite enough of that ruined temple, finally convinces his comrades to head back to Caladan to fulfill their debt to Father Halford. The party agreed and they made their way back to the entrance with the body of Gedleesmote.

Awaiting them was Tibag who had moved the camp into the shelter of the temple as the frigid dreary weather took a turn for the worse and began to sleet. They decided to spend the night in the shelter of the temple and each took their turn at the watch. However, as the morning broke the party discovered that Gnarly and his Mushroom-man have disappeared and had trekked off into Harrowood.

The party quickly gather their belongings and, along with the body of the dead dwarf, headed out into the rain to follow the trail of the moody druid. But as the day progresses, the trail was lost and so is Gnarly. Soon the party breaks through the edge of the forest as dusk approaches.

In the rugged plains beyond, they spied a number of roaming Pegasi. Skwanky attempted to approach them by they let into the air and flew away. As they began to make camp on the edge of the woods, Slick Vinny informed the gullible halfling that he may have caught leprosy from the Pegasi and that to cure himself of the disease Skwanky would have to have sexual relations with a toad! As Skwanky pressed the wily wizard for more information, an armored traveller approached. Questioning this newcomer, they found that his name was Televan, devotee of the Lord of Dreams; Morpheus and who has traveled from the village of Blackmoor. Televan warns them of a witch in the woods.

The party invites Televan into their camp to share in their meal. In repayment, the priest heals the halfling from his earlier battle though his scars remain.

As the sun sets, they noticed in the distance a glow of firelight. Thinking it may be the witch with a cure for his "leprosy", Skwanky went running off towards it. The others, not wanting to abandon their impulsive friend follow and soon come upon a small pig farm. As they knock on the door they were greeted by a grizzled old hag who invites them in. This friendly old cron, Helgrid, offers the party stew. Helgrid claims to be from Amazonia and is a priestess of the Goddess. She has been foretold of their coming, most notable, Adara.

Helgrid informs Adara that the dreams she has been having were from the Goddess herself. These dreams were clues to a quest that the Goddess has bestowed upon Adara as repayment when the Ranger asked the gods for help to get her out of a drunken predicament. The Goddess heard her call and aided Adara. Now Adara must now seek an artifact of the long dead Dark Paladin Usk'Tor; his Shield of the Dark Sun and destroy it.

Helgrid said that Adara should be honored that the Goddess would bestow upon her a quest of such import!

Helgrid invited Adara to spend the night in her shack while the rest of the party were invited to sleep with the pigs.

In the morning, Helgrid was gone and the party was healed of all wounds.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Frogs And Wizardry

I usually don't dip into any of these (lame) OSR controversies as I feel it's just a waste of time (it takes a while to whip up a blog post) and everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I felt I might throw in my two cents on the news that Frog God Games will be releasing Swords & Wizardry products including a new updated rule book. It's not so much the actual news of this merger if you want to call it that because any thing that will introduce people into playing a rules-lite fantasy game is fine by me (throws out hint to local RPG Guild) but it is more the way that Frog God Games announced it (which, it appears they have retracted so I'm a day late and a dollar short on this one).

Because I use Swords & Wizardry as my core rule set and I've 'donated' illustrations to various old school products and publications and produced my own publications which I distributed through Lulu I feel I can chat about this from a real personal perspective (really, why stop at this point).

Like Matt Finch said, and I paraphrase, Frog God Games said what they said to entice their Pathfinder fan-base.

So yeah, it's strictly business, it's not personal.

But in what they stated, many people took as a disregard to what has been happening these past number of years in this OSR. And that's understandable. In many ways it is. Frog God Games is saying that they can put out better 'product' material than any of these self-publishing fans. That's a tall tale to live up to.

Like one poster's response yesterday on one of the blogs talking about this very topic; Why alienate the 400 of us who might buy the product?

Am I bothered by what they said? Ah, only slightly. I think it was just off the mark and a bit arrogant. Again, who cares. They said what they said. One just has to look at the publications that have been published by all of these do-it-yourselfers to see that Frog sGames word's are off the mark.

Just flip through any of the rule books and supplements published (S&W, BFRPG, LL, Wilderlands and there are a ton of other). These are all very well produced 'products'. Great layouts, fun illustrations, and a true sense of love for the game in all of these items. As far as I'm concerned, perfect!

Does slick production make an RPG product better? Not really. It's the content inside, the imagination put into the game is what counts. We'll all see if FGGs lives up to their own high standard.

Is this going to stop me from playing S&W? No.

Is this going to affect my gaming at all? No.

Is this going to discourage me from putting out my little gaming aids (or modules if I ever get to another one) on Lulu or my blog? No.

Do I think this will kill the community spirit of this fantasy RPG community? Not at all.

It's just another little meaningless blip on the larger radar of gaming history.

So unbunch your panties and Game On! Everyone!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dungeon Art

Here's a dark cleric illustration that will also appear in the next issue of Knockspell.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Session XIX: Dark Shadows

In our last session our players were a bit more, how shall I say, riotous than in previous....and that is saying quite a bit. We were only missing one player so the table was pretty full. It was challenging to keep the action moving along, to say the least! Only three rooms explored and one large battle.

I think Mike put it best:

The party joined together and further investigated the ruins whilst Teabag watched the cart.

(tons of bad stuff he cant reprint)

They find a strange room with a dark area.

(tons of bad stuff he cant reprint)

They fight some stuff.

(tons of bad stuff he cant reprint)

They find the Crimson Skull.

(tons of bad stuff he cant reprint)

Seriously it was the raunchiest one yet.....

Yeah, that was pretty much it.

Alas...I press on and try to bring you the more 'embellished' summary that I know you're all use to. So without further ado...

Session XIX: Dark Shadows

So while the majority of the party was exploring the ruined temple, Geedleesmote the dwarf, Adara the Stygian ranger and Slick Vinny the enchanter gathered their camp together and followed the trail blazed by their companions.

Regrouping at the entrance to the ancient temple, it was decided that Tibag would stay behind and watch-over the gear, the two mules and Wolfheir's horse. The rest of the party, once again, entered the dark temple in search of the Crimson Skull of Yam-Gregak.

Retracing their steps past the slain clerics they proceeded down the first flight of stairs. Finding a door, they opened it and discovered a silver skull upon a heavy mahogany base. Fearing that the skull may be trapped, Adara and Skwanky cautiously entered the room and examined the skull. Geedlee, however, was more interested in the wooden base and what may lie beneath.

After quite a bit of maneuvering, the skull was finally removed and the base pushed aside to reveal nothing of interest.

Continuing down the hall they discover another door and a turn in the passage. Finding the door locked and without Tibag, their skillful lock-smith, Skwanky the halfling warrior attempted to bash the door down with his mace. Eventually, with the help the Wolfheir the Viking they cracked open the door enough to squeeze through

Inside they found an empty room. Geedleesmote began to examine the walls of this so-called empty chamber while Skwanky, Gnarly (along with his remaining mushroom-man) and Nadrak guarded the hallway. The dwarf discovered a fist sized hole in the wall. Reaching in, he found a lever that he found can turn either to the right or left. Geedleesmote turned the lever to the left and, leaping back, narrowly avoided a puff of mysterious gas. Turning the dial to the right revealed a narrow opening in the wall to a small chamber beyond. Inside the small chamber was a small pile of glorious items; some scrolls, a ring (which Slick Vinny quickly snatched up) and a sword.

While the group in the chamber decided how to divide the found spoils, an impatient Skwanky quickly worked his way down the passage and found some more descending stairs. Gnarly and Nadrak pursued the inquisitive halfling as he disappeared down the stairs. Skwanky found himself in a vary large pillared chamber lit by torches save the opposite wall which was obscured in darkness. Chained to a pillar was a vicious looking dog with fiery red eyes. As the Druid and the Priest of Mithra ran down the stairs they observed a puff of flame and the charred halfling battling this demon hound! Gnarly and Nadrak tried to aid their tiny companion as the rest of the party caught up.

Running into the chamber, Slick Vinny pulled out a magic wand and turned the Hound of Hell to stone.

The beast defeated and the party together once again, they decided to cautiously examine the room. Wolf, failing to hinder the energetic halfling, watched as Skwanky bolted towards the darkness in the opposite side of the room, . The Halfling disappeared into the darkness and quickly ran into something hard.

As Skwanky entered the darkness, from the rafters above, two gargoyles dove down onto the party. A quick thinking Vinny entangled one of the flying horrors in a web spell while the party began to battle the other. Meanwhile, the halfling recovering from is run-in with some kind of wall, feels icy hands reach out and touch him sapping his strength. Skwanky came running out of the wall of darkness into the ensuing melee being chased by two living Shadows!

The Shadows and the remaining Gargoyle put up quite a fight with the Shadows bringing the halfling once again to the brink of death and wounding the Dwarf as well - normal weapons being of no use to any of these foes.

As Skwanky lay dying, Nadrak rushed over and healed the halfling returning him from the edge of the abyss once again. The battle continued as Adara worked her way to the darkened portion of the room. Eventually the Gargoyle and the two Shadows were defeated. When the last Shadow fell, the darkness in the back of the room lifted and revealed an alter atop of which was the Crimson Skull of Yam-Gregak!

Adara picked up the magical artifact but no sooner was the Skull in their hands when, coming down the steps was a heavily armored figure, The Dark priest of the Black Church. Slick Vinny tried to enchant the powerful priest but failed. The priest, however, put Slick Vinny out of commission by immobilizing the wizard and rooting him to that spot.

Wolfheir rushed up to confront the priest as did Nadrak and Gnarly. A melee battle ensued which involved the entire party and the Mushroom-man before the priest was defeated and killed.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Race: Stygian

To compliment the Atlantean race in our campaign, Mike and I finished up working on the Stygian.

Where the Atlantean focused on fighting and thievery, the Stygian's focus is either on Magic or thievery. I wanted to have an magic mechanic option besides the Vancian magic-user. The Stygian would be more of a natural sorcerer tapping directly into the mystic powers of the cosmos, at a cost of his sanity of course. The magic bit was a bit difficult to work up and I ended up borrowing from both Akrasia's Magic house rules from his Akradic Wizardry blog and Cyclopeatron's Oranjian Wizard.

I thought a blending of both of these concepts would work nicely but perhaps it's too complicated. I'm not sure. As of yet, this race has not been play-tested. As soon as it is, I'll post an update. I may have over-complicated this a bit but we'll see. Also, if anyone sees any glaring issues please let me know.

Race: Stygian

Like the Atlanteans, Stygians are a very ancient race seeped in the archaic mystic lore of cosmic spell-crafting. Where Magic Users and Illusionists think of magic as a science to be learned, Stygians see magic as their cosmic right, thus, as a Magic-User, they have a different mechanic for spell casting symbolizing their direct connection to this force (see below).

Prime Attribute: Depends on class
Hit Dice: As per class
Armor/Shield Permitted: As per class
Weapons Permitted: As per class
Alignment: Neutral or Chaotic (preferred)
Class: Only Magic-user (Sorcerers) or Thief

Attribute Adjustments
Stygians gain a -1 to Strength, +1 to Intelligence and +1 to Charisma.

Save Bonus
Stygians gain a +1 against to save against cast spells of a divine nature.

Class Restrictions
Stygians can be either Magic-users or thieves only. They do not gain any experience bonus.

Class Bonus
Stygian Sorcerers do not use the standard Magic-user spells per level chart. Stygian Sorcerers can cast any number of times per day, but spells cost exhaustion (Magic Points), and possibly corruption (if a ‘black magic’ spell is cast) A Stygian Thief gains a +1 to both Move Silently and Hide In Shadows.

Stygian Spell Casting:
All spells can be learned by Stygians in the same way that magic-users do (i.e., by recording them in spellbooks, and ‘preparing’ them to be cast later). If a spell has both a ‘cleric’ and a ‘magic-user’ version, use the ‘magic-user’ version. Each spell has a magic point (MP) casting cost that corresponds with the spell’s level (see table). Hit points may be spent in place of MPs to cast spells. As well, extra MPs may be generated by permanently spending 1 point of Intelligence per 10 MPs. MPs naturally recharge at the rate shown (1 turn = 10min).

Note: For the most part, the following is borrowed from the above mentioned sites as both bloggers have done a much better job than I could have on my own.

There is no ‘read magic’ spell for Stygian Sorcerers. Instead, Stygian Sorcerers know the ancient eldritch language in which all magic is written. First-level Stygian Sorcerers start with a spellbook that contains three first-level spells (player’s choice) and one second-level spell (player’s choice). All other spells must be found, learned from a tutor (usually for a steep fee), or purchased (also usually for a steep fee).

Spells are divided into White Magic (spells that promote or maintain life, protect against harm, and generally are ‘in tune’ with the natural laws and forces of the universe), Grey Magic (spells that typically involve the manipulation and/or alteration of objects and/or minds), and Black Magic (spells that typically are destructive and/or ‘contrary to nature,’ say, by being necromantic in character or by drawing on forces beyond this universe).

Spell Casting: Exhaustion, Corruption, and Sanity
When Stygians cast ‘white magic’ spells they suffer MP exhaustion equal to the spell level magic point cost so a Stygian who casts a third level white magic spell would use 10 Magic Points).

When Stygians cast ‘grey magic’ spells they suffer MP exhaustion equal to the spell level magic point cost plus 1 HP per level of spell (so a Stygian who casts a third level grey magic spell would use 10 Magic Points and 3 Hit Points).

When Stygians cast ‘black magic’ spells they suffer MP exhaustion identical to that caused by ‘grey magic’ spells (spell level magic point cost plus 1 HP per level of spell). In addition, Stygians casting ‘black magic’ spells must make a saving throw in order to avoid corruption. If this saving roll is failed, the Stygian is corrupted slightly and suffers a loss of temporary Wisdom points equal to the spell level (e.g., 3 points of temporary Wisdom for a third-level spell). Temporarily lost points of Wisdom can be recovered at a rate of one point per complete day of rest and meditation (no other action possible). The spell ‘Restoration’ will restore instantly all temporarily lost Wisdom points.

Furthermore, if a Stygian casting a ‘black magic’ spell fails his/her saving throw by rolling a ‘1,’ then that Stygian loses one point of Wisdom permanently (so if a Stygian fails his/her saving throw casting a third-level black magic spell by rolling a ‘1,’ he/she would lose one permanent point of Wisdom and two temporary points of Wisdom). The spell ‘Restoration’ will not restore any permanently lost Wisdom points.

A Stygian whose permanent wisdom score is lowered to 2 becomes insane, and possibly the thrall of an extra-planar demonic force. He/she henceforth is a non-player character!

Again, a special thanks to Akrasia and Cyclopeatron for their creative and innovative efforts.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Level Me Up, Professor!

I've got a lot of interesting players in my group and I'll have to give you a run-down on them sometime.

One of my players, Max, has come into RPG's via video games. This is his first PnP campaign and, from what I understand, is enjoying it quite a bit, though, as with many gamers, the open-ended world of the 'sandbox' is a bit of a challenge. He is playing the character of Slick Vinny the Magic-user which is quite the challenge for a first time RPGer especially in an Swords & Wizardry old school style game, but Max has brought a lot of personality to Vinny and has presented him in some very interesting circumstances as he explores the realm of sandbox gaming.

But more to the point, Max is a graduate student exploring game-based educational technology as learning mediums for students and teacher here at the U of A. What's interesting in his recent post is his display of the student's progress report.

It's a very exciting sample of what education potential in the near future may hold. With generations growing up in the virtual environments of Video games and RPGs it would seem that the paradigm of educational level advancement would have to adapt to a technology literate generation.

This is one interesting example of that direction.

But you can't help to think how Gygax and Arneson have actually affected change in the world with their little set of rules.

Friday, August 6, 2010

First Friday: Cult of the Witch Queen

Amazing stories 1946 - Spiders, fairies(?) and the Cult of the Witch Queen. That should get anybody's creative juices flowing!

For added inspiration here's a snippet from 1935 Sunday Funnies; the Witch-Queen of Mongo.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Save Or Die! Classic D&D Podcast

Check out this new weekly podcast called Save Or Die! Our hosts, Liz, Mike and Vince chat about the early days of D&D with a great focus on the rules-lite classic style of the game.

1st Cast: Adventure 1 (with a review about B1 In Search of the Unknown)

2nd Cast: Interview with Tim Kask