Friday, September 30, 2011

The Bond Films In A New Light

I've been a huge fan of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels since I was in junior high. Of course, prior to that I loved watching the movies as they were replayed on television. At the time, they were all the Connery films and the first two Moore pix, Live and Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun.

But the first time I read Fleming's original novel, I believe it was Dr. No, I was blown away! The character and story seemed so much different then the invincible, gadget heavy, overly promiscuous secret agent of the films. The character in the novels was much more human, and vulnerable. He wasn't the blockbuster 'superhero' but a deep cover secret agent up to his neck in cold war espionage.

Out of the 22 Bond films produced (with six actors playing the lead) only a mere five followed Fleming's novels; From Russia With Love, Dr. No, Goldfinger, Thunderball and On Her Majesty's Secret Service. The rest were lifted in title and character only with screenwriters taking the stories into their own directions (with mixed results).

These five novels were adapted into film in almost the exact order that Fleming wrote them and with only minor changes to the stories, with the exception of Dr. No and From Russia being reversed. These five films are often thought of the pinnacle of the Bond 'franchise' and indeed they are.

What if these were the only Bond films made? What if we reversed Dr. No and From Russia With Love and place them in the order that the books were released? What I think we end up with is a very human character and a thrilling short and sweat franchise that builds up to an appropriate climax.

These 5 films, in the order they were released as novels, complete a full story arc of the Bond character and also fixes some continuity errors in the films (while adding a few). It displays an agent with human weaknesses and emotions and a villain that builds over the five films as well. Also, director Terrence Young would be director on three of the five films while Peter Hunt would edit all of films and direct OHMSS. Also, screenwriter Richard Miabaum would adapt all of the related books to film. All this helped unify this five film series.

So getting past the minor issues with reversing Dr. No and FRWL we come in as spectators in the middle of Bond's career in the order of the novels. The first four novels; Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever; though great cold war spy thrillers themselves, built up to the middle novels where you get the grandiose villains of Dr. No, Goldfinger and SPECTRE.

So we start with the movie....

From Russia With Love
Our intro to James Bond as he is the victim of an assignation attempt, fights for his life (the hand to hand with Robert Shaw is one of the best fight scenes ever) and nearly dies at the end of the film (as in the novel though the reader actually doesn't know if he survives). The only gadget is a fancy brief case. This film will introduce the Bond character (quite late into the film) as well as SPECTRE and it's leader Blofeld (and his infamous white cat). Bond must be a bad-ass if this organization would want him out of the way. We're coming into the middle of the character's story, remember. Think if it as Episode IV: A New Hope. Here Bond still believes that he is fighting his cold-war rivals SMERSH, which will fit well with the plot of stealing the Russian Lektor, but is introduced to SPECTRE . It shows SPECTRE to be a international organization. Also, the late John Barry completes the entire score for this film and along with the infamous pre-credit sequence solidifies the Bond film right from the start. And the exotic European locations fill out the foundation of a Bond story. Minor continuity issues would involve SPECTRE's mention of Dr. No and his defeat at the hands of 007 but one could look at it as a precursor to the next film in the 'series'. SPECTRE want's Bond out of the way so that their operation with Dr. No can go on without a hitch. The other is Sylvia Trench, a woman whom Bond 'met' in the film Dr. No and is seemingly having a long term relationship with at the beginning of FRWL. Trench mentioned Bond's trip to Jamaica.

Dr. No
SPECTRE's first big plot with the series' first colorful villain Dr. No, mechanical hands and all. Bond comes out of this story beat to hell and tattered in rags but, of course, with Honey Rider in his arms. No gadgets at all - man vs man. Dr. No will again introduce Bond to SPECTRE. Famous for being the only Bond film without a pre-credit sequence, placing this movie second may prove to have an abrupt bump after the more polished FRWL. Minor continuity issue would involve Sylvia Trench, mentioned above, whom Bond 'meets' for the first time in the casino at the beginning of the film. A minor re-edit at the beginning to add the typical Bond walk barrel shot and the scene involving the Three Blind Mice assassins killing Strangways and his secretary would serve well as the pre-credit sequence. From there the movie can roll without a hitch.

Of course the first two films can be viewed in their original release order but there's something about watching FRWL first that makes the beginning of the series quite intriguing.

Of these five films, it is here that the Bond character reaches his heroic peak and would also be the only film to not directly involve SPECTRE which gives some breath to the series and builds the return of the SPECTRE threat into the final two films (as they recover from their failure Dr. No?). Though he fights for his life against the colorful Oddjob and Goldfinger, the plot consisting of creating economic chaos by irradiating the gold in Fort Knox is still human is scale. Here, however, Bond comes out unscathed and smelling like roses.

Here we begin the two part conclusion to the series. SPECTRE reaches it's full potential of a world-wide blackmailing terrorist threat with the abduction of two nuclear weapons. Bond actually gets shot and bleeds running for his life from Largo's agents in a memorable scene filmed during the Junkanoo celebration in Nassau. Again, less myth and a more human character in the midst of a world threatening plot though it is pretty spectacular. All this brings us to….

On Her Majesty's Secret Service
The finale of this five film Bond series (skipping the film You Only Live Twice). Again, SPECTRE is involved and Bond comes face to face with it's leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, for the first time (as does the viewer). But the key here is that Bond falls in love and actually marries giving more depth to some of his romantic entanglements in the earlier films. Of course we all know that this doesn't end well and thus ends the series on a very human level. Major continuity issue solved, however. In the movie You Only Live Twice, which came out in 1967, two years before OHMSS, Bond meets Blofeld face to face for the first time. In that continuity, though Bond has already met Blofeld, in this film they act as if meeting for the first time staying true to the novel but disrupting the film continuity. Removing YOLT from this 5 film series fixes that continuity problem. Also, this would be the only time that anyone sees Blofeld. No issues with multiple actors playing this villain (Donald Pleasence and Charles Grey) but, of course, we have George Lazenby replacing Connery as Bond.

This would be the end of the series as no Bond film again ever truly tackles a Fleming novel nor brings a sense of vulnerability to this 'super' agent. Nor does a film ever touch upon the death of his wife with the brief exception of a small scene in For Your Eyes Only where Moore places flowers upon the grave of his beloved. Other than that, Bond becomes the super-hero.

These five adaptive films, in the order that they were written in, present a story arc of a thrilling spy facing real death and real life.

I think it would be a fun exercise to watch these five films in this order which I'm currently in the process of doing.. If you're a true Ian Fleming James Bond fan I think you might enjoy it too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Session XXXVII: A New Cause

Six months have passed since our party of adventurers, lost beneath the ruined tower of Zenopus, have returned to their Moon-tower. In that time, Caladan had fallen to the forces of Empress Kushana allied with the Pirates of the Blue Rose and all lead by Morak, who installed himself as ruler of Caladan.

To fortify their Moon-tower, Gnarly created a perimeter of thorny bramble with a pathway that only he and his companions knew about. He also sent out his woodland friends to gather information about Morak and Kushana's troops and while he had down time built up a Mushroom-man army (well more like a squad).

During this time the party had discovered that there was a possibility that Morak had spared Lord Osric and locked him in the Merchant Guild's dungeons and that the bandits north of Caladan are former Caladan watch members who escaped during the invasion of Caladan.

Vinny, along with Arg and Flora headed into Caladan to try to get in touch with the Crafty Magi. Stopped at the gate of Caladan, they were only allowed in with a special Writ of Passage by order of Lord Morak. After paying the fifty gold coins each, they entered Caladan and headed over to the Green Dragon Inn.

Finding members of the mysterious guild, Vinny learned that Risiri, the leader of the guild, is in good favor with Morak and thus, an enemy of Osric and Arvin's Avengers.

Vinny hatched a plan where the party would set out and look for the band of 'bandits' north of the town to try to gather a force to expel Morak and rescue Osric.

The party, including Gnarly, traveled around the outskirts of Caladan and headed for the Bridge of Avery over the Blackmoore river. They ran into some soldier guards who questioned them about their travels. Arg, almost began a fight with them but eventually they were given passage without incident.

Traveling north along the the Great Coast Road they were eventually way-laid by bandits who were discovered to indeed be the former Watchmen of Caladan. After it was determined that Vinny and Gnarly were original members of Arvin's Avengers (who helped rescue Lord Osric's daughter over a year ago), the Watchmen took them into their confidence. Blindfolded, they were lead to the camp.

At camp they parlayed with the leader, Bronswick, and told him that Osric was possibly alive and that a possible rescue of Caladan's former lord would rally the citizens and force Kushana's troops out. Bronswick thinks it's a good idea but doesn't have the man-power to overcome the ever-increasing troop presence. Vinny suggests that he will head into a near-by town to try to gather some more men-at-arms (intending to charm them if they refuse) and so leaves with Arg and a couple of watchmen.

While they were gone, Gnarly and Flora head north to Harrowood to seek out the head of Gnarly's order, the druid Morrison of Morrisonwood. On the way they ran into a party of adventurers on their way towards Brookestone on the trail of Fumark the Foul who has gone missing searching for the slain dragon Medora's treasure. The travelers tell Gnarly and Flora to avoid Morrisonwood as the master of the wood cares not for uninvited guests.

Not heeding the warning they continued on, and entered Morrisonwood. As the mysterious woods closed in around them, they had the intense feeling that they were being watched and followed. The creatures of the forest kept a close eye upon them. Eventually, Gnarly spoke with a chipmunk and convinced him to take him to see the master of the wood. A large bear came out of the woods and told Gnarly to follow him.

The bear lead them into a beautiful natural grove where dwelt Morrison and his lovely companions Pamela and Rose. He invited his guests to partake in the sweet harvest of the forest as he and Gnarly spoke.

Gnarly tried to convince Morrison to aid them in their efforts to free Caladan from the rule of Kushana's forces. Morrison laughingly refused as he felt the city was a blight on the face of the landscape. Gnarly offered up that Kushana was even raising the dead to aid her in her quests. Morrison only replied that he felt that there was no difference between the living and the dead as the living wrapped themselves in man-made environments. Though he was slightly swayed by Gnarly's arguments of the roaming undead, Morrison remained unmoved to aid them.

After finishing their meal, Gnarly and Flora headed back to their camp.

Meanwhile, Slick Vinny and Arg were traveling through the wood when they came upon a party of soldiers seeking out the bandits. From a distance Vinny charmed half of them while the rest returned arrow fire. Arg pulled out his mace and hammer and charged across the field dodging the hail of arrows coming at him. He burst upon his enemies and began bashing bones and brains all over the field. The charmed soldiers headed back to camp lead by Vinny and Arg carrying a pile of soldier's armor.

Back at camp it was decided to seek the aid of Lord Blackmoore and Gnarly sent Tuk the owl, along with a note, west to the town of Blackmoore...

(Gnarly, Morrison and Flora hanging out in the 'Druid Grove')

Monday, September 26, 2011

Madness Chart

Exploring deep dark places can be quite trying to the psyche of even the most stout warrior. After being stressed in the confining tunnels of some rancid tomb and facing horrific death and beasts only believed to exist in nightmares can be enough to tip anyone's scales into madness. Toss in some mutant demon leaping from around the corner and they're carrying you off to the mad-house.

Here' a reaction chart for those failing any type of sanity save.

Madness Chart

1. In Shock! Drops all held items and stands in a passive catatonic state. Totally helpless and useless.
2. Screams uncontrollably, attracts wandering 'guests'. Will attack anyone who is near or comes near him.
3. Runs screaming in a random direction, shedding items behind as he goes until he is completely without items or clothes
4. Begins raving and drooling.
5. Drops into convulsions and foams at the mouth.
6. Becomes paranoid. Thinks everyone is an enemy out to swallow his soul. A very dangerous person to be around.
7. Begins to talk to himself and is delusional. Looses connection to reality.
8. Looses all sense of self.
9. Becomes another personality (determine randomly or GM choice).
10. Begins speaking in tongues and becomes violent
11. The voices! The voices in my head! The voices tells him to do stupid and dangerous things. Not good to have in the part.
12. Becomes blind, deaf, and dumb.
13. Has an obsession with eating bugs and freshly killed things.
14. Urinates self and stands there helpless in catatonic state. Violently resist any attempts to move.
15. Begins clawing at own flesh. Sustains 1d4 hp damage every turn.
16. Can't stop pleasuring his/her self.
17. Begins hitting head against wall until unconscious (Sub-dual hp zero).
18. Starts sobbing uncontrollably. Becomes totally helpless and defenseless.
19. Seeks out the smallest, darkest place and refuses to come out (cave, nook, under a bed, etc.).
20. Believes the end is near and doom is upon us all. Becomes fanatical in this belief.

Remember any screaming or tantrum attracts wandering monsters.
These affects can last as long as the DM deems appropriate from a number of rounds (3d6) to a number of turns (1d6) .Quite and peaceful rest becomes the only cure.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

This Week In The War Of The Ring

While I post the quick highlights the the Journey of the Ring in the right column on a daily or semi-daily basis, I'll summarize in a weekly post the goings on.

Sept. 18th
Gandalf escapes from Orthanc....

The Black Riders cross the Fords of Isen.

Sept 19th
Gandalf Comes to Edoras as a beggar, and is refused admittance.

Sept 20th
Gandalf enters Edoras but Theoden kicks his ass out by bribing him to take any horse. Wormtongue gets the giggles.

Sept 21st
Of course Gandalf selects Shadowfax, but the lord of horses will have none of it and runs off. The grey wizard follows.

Sept 22nd
Frodo's birthday, hooray!
On a grim note, the Black Riders reach San Ford that evening and drive off the Ranger guards.
Gandalf and Shadowfax are now friends.
Sept 23rd
Four Riders enter the Shire before dawn.
Merry leaves with Fatty
A Black Rider comes to Hobbiton that evening.
Frodo leaves Bag End along with Pippin and Sam.
Gandalf, having tamed Shadowfax, leaves Rohan and speeds towards the Shire.

Sept 24th
Gandalf crosses Isen

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr. Frodo

It's Frodo's birthday today (and Bilbo's as well) so make merry!
(Make Merry do what?)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Screen Pass

I've been becoming quite annoyed using a DM screen for my S&W game. Though I've created a custom screen with the charts I need and a space to clip a map I haven't been using it much. In a rules-lite game such as we are playing (using ascending AC), I rarely have to look anything up on the charts and when I do, it's usually something that I don't have charted anyways and have to flip through the rules or my collection of random charts. Plus, a good full character sheet gives the players everything they need for play.

The other thing is that the screen separates the DM from the players to much. I like to be part of the table more which helps me, as DM, participate more in the game.

Plus with beer, snacks, dice, character sheets, and minis a screen just takes up too much room.

The last number of sessions I haven't had a screen set up. The maps and keys I just keep folded on my lap. But I would still like some quick access to some of my charts.

I made this little micro folded booklet with some of my current charts. It won't take up much room and it has just what I currently need. I'll be testing this out on Monday and see how it works. But however it works out, I'm taking a permanent pass on the screen.

Feel free to print this out (at 100%) and follow the instructions below for folding the booklet and give it a try. Oh, the Crit hit and miss charts were lifted from Gothridge Manor.

  1. Folded Booklet Fold A over to B.

  2. Folded Booklet Fold C down to D.

  3. Folded Booklet Fold E over to F.

  4. Folded Booklet Unfold twice (it will look like step 2). Cut on red line.

  5. Folded Booklet Open paper all the way. Fold G to H.

  6. Folded Booklet Push from ends so I meets J. Press down on folds to smooth out rough edges.

  7. Folded Booklet Now self-publish a collection of favorite jokes, illustrate a short story, or just doodle to your heart's content.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Today In The War Of The Ring

I'm starting a small calendar in the right column of this blog which will track the journey of Fellowship of the Ring and their journey to Mordor and Mt. Doom in real time. I'll comment a post at times as well.

Where we are at now is that Gandalf has already talked with Frodo about the ring and the journey to Mordor and has left for Isengard. On July 20th, Gandalf was imprisoned by Saruman and he has been there ever since. On July 4th, Boromir sets out from Minas Tirith for Rivendell. We pick up the story at this point....

...when Gandalf escapes Orthanc

The Black Riders cross the Fords of Isen...

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Little Friday Fun With Kingdom Rush

I'm not one to play or even promote video games especially online 'flash' games but I ran across this online game the other day and found it pretty fun. It's called Kingdom Rush by Ironhide Game Studio.

It's a great little concept of protecting a kingdom from invading goblins, orcs, wolves and other creepy things by strategically placing defending towers of soldiers, archers, wizards and bomb flinging dwarves along the road to various towns. Your job is to pretty much prevent the monsters from passing down the road by killing them.

The graphics and animations are fun and it very much has a hint of D&D to it that I think you all would like.

Kingdom Rush!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Session XXXVI: Into The Light

Anyone following along with our campaign will be happy to know that our lost party has finally made it out from Beneath the Ruined Tower of Zenopus. Yes, that's right, with only 3 PC deaths, experience and treasure was finally divvied up.

Of course Skwanky, the halfling that caused all this trouble to begin with, survived but that is beside the point.

Session XXXVI: Into The Light

The party, now only consisting of Arvin and his Mushrooms, Skwanky Furrytoe and Slick Vinny with a hand full of pirates at his command entered a large lit chamber that appeared to be a type of waiting room. There was a Giant Bat, a gnoll, an orc and orche jelly and a Gelatinous Cube all waiting to be called in from beyond a door where a giant spider had just left and a voice called out "Next!".

As the orc walked through the door, Skwanky started up a conversation with the Gnoll. It turned out that the Gnoll was here to see a wizard who would help him with his personal 'problem' (which turned out to be a four hour erection). He came from another part of the dungeon down a long, long tunnel.

After a while the orc exited the room and one by one the other creatures were called in. The orc (half-orc named Argh played by Brian who lost two characters down here and rolled up yet another one) struck up a conversation with the party still waiting their turn. It turned out that Argh found a flier for the services of the wizard in his village and came down here to trade his two orc sons for a scroll of the world's worst insult, which, after Skwanky read, made him cry.

As Argh's village was on the surface, it was thought that the half-orc could help lead them out.

All this time Vinny was getting anxious thinking that this wizard could grant wishes and give Vincent unlimited power. He no longer cared about the fate of Caladan thinking that they were now on some other planet or plane - which all turned out to not be the case.

When finally the wizard beyond the door called out for our party, it was decided that only one person will go in at at time. Vinny stepped in first.

Bowing before the mighty wizard, Vinny asked for more power. The wizard laughed and said that was not what he was giving out. He was offering potions, scrolls and other magics, such as his home-made skeletaurs. Slick Vinny then asked for a powerful spell of the eighth circle and the wizard laughed again. He wasn't so stupid as to give away his more powerful spells.

The Wizard introduced himself as Mordrith and this dungeon was his home.

Vinny asked him if he had heard of the city of Caladan. Mordrith replied that of course he had. He had lived there for many years before he came down here to continue his studies. When Vinny asked him about Zenopus, Mordrith spit out her name and called her evil and a powerful witch who had betrayed her lover and his friend Onyx for his tower and his magic. It was discovered that Zenopus was in alliance with Empress Kushana of the southern Empire.

Vinny finally mentioned the Crafty Magi and again, Modrith raged as he told Vinny that he actually started the Crafty Magi to share magic with one another but his guild was taken over by Risiri, a sorcerer from the south who took over the Crafty Magi and began worshiping the Yellow God Hastur with human sacrifice.

Mordrith offered Vinny treasures beyond count if he could bring back the head of Risiri.

To win favor with this powerful spell-caster, Vinny offered him Zenopus' spell book which Mordrith accepted with much triumph.

Suddenly the dungeon wizard was too preoccupied to be of assistance any longer and, after telling Vinny to follow the long tunnel to get back to the surface, closed his doors for the day(?), which was good, because a conversation with Skwanky could have been quite counter-productive.

So, the party left Mordrith's office and headed up the giant northern tunnel, avoiding any side passages. After passing Mordrith's skeletaur guards, they continued traveling for a couple hours down this passage until it opened up into a cavern with bridge crossing over a pool of water and three cave opening on the other side. Crossing the bridge, they decided to take the center passage which headed upward for a short while then turned and began to spiral downward. It was here that they were attacked by some Albino apes. Vinny cast a web spell on them and blocked the passage. Argh stepped in and slew the apes.

Heading back up the passage they found the cavern was filled with a bunch of giant worker ants which they slew as well. Taking the right passage, they headed towards the surface eventually coming out into another wide and carved tunnel that lead to a cave and the outside!

Traveling a short distance from the cave opening they made camp and rested. Here, Vinny looked into his Cat's Eye crystal ball and saw that indeed Caladan was overrun by pirates and soldiers from the southern empire.

It was in their camp that Gnarly spied a tiny figure watching them. It turned out to be a fairy that was lost in the caves and had followed them out. Her name was Flora Fawn and wanted to accompany them to Caladan (this was my wife's new character after her dwarf Maudlin was killed last session).

Not knowing quite where they were, they headed south and passing through some woods found the Great Coast Road and headed back to Caladan and their Moon-tower. It was from this vantage point that they saw the port town ablaze with the remnants of battle.

Back at the Moon-tower, Skwanky immediately ran to the kitchen. While the pirates wanted their fair share of the treasure so that they can head back to Caladan and pillage. Of course Vinny wasn't going to have any of it and soon the pirates drew their swords and demanded their fair share. Argh, didn't stand for any of the pirate's shenaggians and slew one while Vinny called up an illusion of Zenopus to frighten the other who ran off down towards Caladan.

Not wanting him to get away, Vinny sent One-Eyed Jones, the charmed pirate leader, after him, and Gnarly sent Tuk. As the sun was beginning to set, One-Eyed Jones was catching up to the fleeing pirate but saw that he was set upon by a pack of ghouls coming out of the forest. One-Eyed Jones high-tailed it back up to the tower.

The party, relieved to have survived their day and a half lost beneath the tower were quite happy to make it back and divided up their loot.

So this ended a great side-quest of a party lost in a dungeon. It was great fun for all of us. The players didn't think they were actually going to make it out alive. With three PC deaths it was looking pretty grim for a while but, for the most part, they prevailed.

So the party is united once more and the next sessions should have the whole group back together to begin an new chapter in the story of Arvin's Avengers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dice Rolling With The Rockers

I was chopping down a tree this weekend and I began humming a Rush song which was strange because I was never a big fan of the band growing up. Over the years, though, I've learned to appreciate them and enjoy what they brought to the 70's FM radio.

This got me thinking, what if these bands that we grew up with were the kids in our neighborhood playing classic rpgs with us. What would they be playing? Would we be invited to play with them? Would we want to?

RUSH - The kids from RUSH would definitely be playing Traveller. A serious campaign run by Neil taking you to the furthest cosmic reaches of the Spinward Marches. Some real sci-fi action and no screwing around.

Blue Oyster Cult - They'd be playing a serious Gamma World campaign. Not too gonzo but with some great sci-fi themes. A good game to join if you'd like a grim realistic grim campaign and if they'd let you play. Their sessions would be talked about with awe and become things of legend.

Black Sabbath - Ozzy and his friends would be playing a mash-up of Tunnels & Trolls, OD&D along with a bunch of Judge's Guild material. Tekumel would be their campaign world house-ruled to high heaven. Their weekend games would be held late Saturday nights and everyone would end up drunk and/or stoned and sneaking out until the wee hours of dawn. All the neighborhood church-goers would believe that odd kid Ozzy and his friends and their 'weird' game were all about worshiping the devil and your parents wouldn't let you go over there. You'd sneak over there anyway. They would be the kids who end up exploring the town's drainage tunnels.

Styx - Some high fantasy game; SPI's War of the Ring. Denis DeYoung would always insist on controlling Frodo.

The Who - Okay, these guys would be a bit older than everyone else and just won't quite understand this game ' of the imagination'. They make fun of everyone else playing that 'gay' game. Besides, they're too busy getting drunk and getting laid to really care. Many years later, Pete would discover the allure of the game.

Nirvanna - Kurt and his friends would be running just about everything. They'd start with Basic D&D then move on to 1st ed. AD&D, Boot Hill, Gamma World and Champions. All one big campaign with the same characters. Totally gonzo, anything goes, good times. Only problem, is that Kurt's girlfriend would show up and ruin everyone's fun. But they'd all put up with her 'cause she was hot in a trashy sort of way and pretty slutty.

The Ramones - Good ol' fashion D&D. Dee-Dee would be known to let anyone play but he'd always run Tomb of Horrors and take great glee in killing everyone's character. Everyone would drink beer afterwords.

PJ Harvey - Yeah, one of the few chics that was into playing RPGs. She started with OD&D and just stuck with that version, obsessed with re-interrupting the rules.

Queen - Metamorphis Alpha.

Duran Duran - A very gadget based Top Secret but soon ditched it for James Bond 007 RPG.

Smashing Pumpkins - Billy created his own campaign world with 1st ed AD&D and evolved it with each new edition. He currently plays the same campaign in 4th ed. but no longer plays with his original gaming group.

Cheap Trick - Paranoia

David Bowie - I hate to say it, but definitely a LARP - Vampires. David has played all the other games, though, so he's still cool.

Sonic Youth - Thurston would be running a Cyberpunk game full of edgy irony. Not many of the other kids would get into this but his gaming group is pretty dedicated and they'll end up playing the same campaign for years.

Glenn Danzig & Henry Rollins - These two guys and their friends started out with Moldvay's basic set but would become obsessed with playing Twilight 2000 for a summer and then give it up to begin pumping iron.

That's all I got. Feel free to post any others, I'd like to see what else folks come up with. I'm heading back out to cut some more trees.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Creative Commoners

Corey, Level 1 Gamer, and fellow gamer group member along with a couple of his colleagues have a pod cast called Creative Commoners a weekly podcast discussion for regular folks looking to add a bit more creativity to their lives. It's a great little show that's quite entertaining as they casually chat about creative endeavors.

They asked me to come on the show and talk about self-publishing and the radio-play. So if you have a chance to sit back today and listen to a great conversation about the creative process, check out Creative Commoners Episode 11.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mystery Men! Character Sheets

I've been playing in a Mystery Men! online campaign for the past couple of weeks now and it's been quite enjoyable. It's a great, easy to run/play system. I'm hoping to get a heroes game running this fall.

I thought I'd add to the MM! pool by coming up with some character sheets that have a more comic book feel. In the space for the character illustration I added come figure outlines so you can draw your own hero with a nice foundation. One of the things that I always loved in the original Champions game were the character sheet hero figures to fill in. I also added a character sheet with a blank space so you can completely draw your own or paste an illustration from an online hero generator.

Click on the image to download the pdf file.

Hero 1

Hero 2 Female

Hero 3

Hero 4

Blank Hero

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Session: XXXV From Bad To Worse

So after a looooong hiatus, we returned to our Swords & Wizardry campaign. We have a side-quest of sorts going as a handful of party members took a delve beneath the ruined tower of Zenopus on their own, stepped through a portal and have become lost in the Underworld.

Three hour tour, indeed!

Thanks to Skwanky the halfling, who willy-nilly jumped through the magical portal, a beloved PC had died a horrible death while lost underground, Tibag Backstabber!

This party has had their ups and downs seeking a way out, but last night's session was a bit grim. In fact, I even killed my wife's character, Maudlin the dwarf. Well, I didn't kill her, a Gelatinous Cube did, but it brought up the moral question: Should a DM allow his wife's character to get killed?

That question and others answered in Session XXXV: From Bad To Worse!

After slaying a pack of sleeping Bugbears and looting their corpses, our party, Gnarly the Druid, Maudlin the hermaphrodite dwarf, Slick Vinny the Wizard and Skwanky the troublesome halfling and along with a handful of pirates and joined by Radius Longshadow (the racist warrior) explored the enormous chamber.

They decided to pursue the lone Bugbear that escaped when he was set alight by farie-fire. Traveling down the twenty foot wide hallway they eventually came across the frightened creature who drew it's sword to defend itself. But his bravery was short-lived as Vinny paralyzed the hapless beast with a wave of his wand.

It is then that they noticed the large cavern they were in with the facing wall a featureless gray mass unlike the rest of the cavern walls. And in that gray mass they can see things moving around - swimming. It appeared to be some kind of membrane with a view to an underground sea.

Skwanky the halfling, examining the membrane discovered it had some give. So, pulling out his sword, he attempted to pierce it to the horror of his party. Gnarly, being quick on his toes tried to hold the halfling back but Skwanky was a bit too quick and punctured the membrane. Immediately, sea-water began to pour through the ever widening hole.

Realizing the danger they were in, Gnarly, along with his Mushroom-men, and Maudlin started to hightail it back down the hall while the rest of the party chastised the curious halfling.

Back in the large chamber, Gnarly sent out Tuk the owl to explore a couple of the chamber's openings. Down one passage was what appeared to be a thick jungle. The party, together once again, headed down to the Jungle room to seek an exit. While Gnarly and Maudlin explored the jungle room, the druid was attacked by a crocodile who soon fell with a couple of hits of Maudlin's hammer.

Meanwhile, standing outside the jungle entrance, Vinny, hoping to poison the troublesome halfling tricked him into eating a mysterious vine. Indeed, the vine was poison but it failed to kill Skwanky. Instead it gave him a terrible case of the uncontrolled vomiting which eventually lead him into unconsciousness!

Vinny called out to Gnarly and said he would take a couple of the pirates and try to open the large portcullis in the back chamber in hopes of finding a way out of the ever deepening water.

Finding the portcullis locked and unable to open, Vinny cast a spell of strength on a couple of the pirates who, with the help of Maudlin, busted the lock and raised the gate. The party trudged through the flooding waste deep water and entered another wide hallway. Eventually finding that the floor began to angle out of the water the party was high and dry for the moment and in the beginnings of another large chamber.

Again sending Tuk the owl out to explore, Gnarly found that deep inside the chamber there were a number of odd, floating objects; swords, coins, shields, armor, hovering no more than ten feet off the ground. Wary of what his might mean for the party, Radius moved ahead to see what could be. Gelatinous Cubes! Three of them! However, he also discovered a large set of double doors in the distance.

Thinking it better to avoid the cubes, they retreated behind another door they had found only to discover that the passage beyond had collapsed. They were now trapped!

Impatient about their predicament, Radius burst out of the hallway and made a run for the double doors followed by Maudlin. Unfortunately they got cornered by a fourth Cube with two more on the way. With the three heading for the doorway where the rest of the party was holed up that made six Gelatinous Cubes! A dire situation indeed!

Gnarly and Vinny tried to fend off the Cube attacking the doorway flinging magic missiles and torches with some success, but Radius and Maudlin did not fare so well. Radius is quickly paralyzed and engulfed by his cube which disappeared into the darkness dissolving the flesh of the new companion. Maudlin defended herself a bit more, actually slaying one cube before succumbing to it's poisons. Soon she too was engulfed and consumed (and thus, a DM has slain his wife's character!).

Seeing their companions fall to the Cubes, Gnarly and Vinny along with the pirates burst out of the doorway to engage the Cubes. With three of the cubes lined up perfectly, Vinny decided to let loose a powerful lightening bolt he had discovered in a magic ring many months ago (see session 19) and was saving for a dire circumstance. The lightening bursts forth engulfing each of the three cubes but as the smoke clears the Gelatinous Cubes were unharmed being immune to electricity! Lesson learned!

It's a battle to the death now, as the pirates engaged along with Gnarly. Vinny, slinging spells, was joined by Skwanky who didn't know what the heck was going on.

Eventually the cubes lay dead along with many of the pirates.

Scooping up the loot, the battered party made their way to the pair of doors and discover that there was light coming from beneath. Opening the door, they discovered an odd site. Before them was a large stone chamber raised by six pillars. Standing guard by each pillar were two centaur skeletons dressed in full armor. There were a number of chairs in the room filled with an odd assortment of beings; an orc, a giant bat, a bugbear, an orchre jelly sitting on a chair, even a large gelatinous cube. One of the Skeletaurs waved his hand and offered the party to take a seat. As they waited, a door on the far wall opened and out walks a giant spider who proceeded to leave through the double doors. A voice from beyond the door shouts out "Next!" and the orc stands up and goes through....

Session notes:

So that's where we ended.

Quite a night. Two PC deaths including my wife's character. She was a bit shocked but took it in stride and began to roll up another character. Now that's the spirit, eh?

The other character death, Longshadow what Brian's new character he rolled up at the beginning of the session to replace his infamous Tibag Backstabber. Alas, he ended the night rolling up a new character.

Skwanky (the character) has become (actually he always was) quite the troublesome little bugger having put the party at risk in more than a few occasions. Now, he is indirectly the cause of 3 PC deaths. But it's great! Some players are beginning to stretch their concepts of what role-playing means in the game and that's a good thing.

I also got to break in my new table along with using the Jenga blocks as walls which all worked out nicely, though the snacks and beer bottles still took up most of it. I've just started breaking in the new Swords & Wizardry Core rules so I have to make a number of adjustments to some of my house rules and charts. But after that, I should be pretty set on my rules. I do not foresee having to 'upgrade' the rule-set as I'm quite happy where we're at right now.

Looking forward to our next S&W session in a couple of weeks.

Quote of the game:
"You just vomited yourself into unconsciousness!"

And now for some awesome cube action!

I love this one, especially the Halfling. Typical!