"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Friday, July 6, 2012

New B/X Monster: The Uberilla

Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 7 (L)
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 4 claws
Damage: 1-6/1-6/1-6/1-6
No. Appearing: 1-2
Save As: Fighter 4
Morale: 9
Treasure Type: L

A giant, two headed gorilla, both heads having one eye, giving it a sort of cyclops like appearance. The Uberilla has four arms and four legs. Their fur is purple. An Uberilla can attack up to two opponents each round with two claws (with each attack suffering a -1 penalty to-hit due to poor depth perception) or may focus all four claws on a single target (without the penalty). If two claws hit a target, the Uberilla grabs the target and makes a bite attack for an additional 1-6 damage.

Inspired by watching World of Quest with my son this morning.

Filling Out My Lulu Order

I am planning on placing an order with Lulu over the next while. Currently my shopping cart contains:

  • Fight On! #13 (which rounds out my Fight On! collection)
  • Towers of Krshal
  • Terminal Space
I want to make sure my shipping costs are worth the trouble so what else should I add to my order?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

B/X Sword, Science & Sorcery - House Rule #1 Classes

Classes allowed will include:

  • Fighter (as B/X rulebooks with the additional ability of when fighting creatures with less than 1 HD their # of attacks = their level)
  • Thief (as B/X rulebooks)
  • Magic-User (as per the B/X rulebooks. However, their prime requisite changes to wisdom given the willpower and resolve required to master spells and using my strict reading of their spellbooks)
  • Barbarian
  • Scientist
  • First Men
  • Savage
  • and possibly a Mutant class and a Synthetic class which I will post soon.

All characters are human (at least in some derivative form for the mutant and vat-man).

Edit: I had considered using Labyrinth Lord with the Advanced Edition Companion so I could use various types of humans ala the Races of Algol Men but decided to stick with B/X.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Dungeon of Random OSR Evilness was done in my absence.

Before my long break I had the idea of posting a small dungeon using the B/X rulebooks and the free materials provided by the great members of the OSR blogoverse. In what I like to think of as a case of great minds think alike, the Planet Algol blog shortly thereafter made a post titled Semi-Random Megadungeon "Saturday Night Special" Generation Using Existing Resources that did pretty much exactly the same thing I was thinking about.

I will be revisiting this for the B/X Sword, Science & Sorcery game.

Key Principles for B/X Sword, Science & Sorcery

The key principles for the B/X Sword, Science & Sorcery campaign are:
  1. Develop an online, weird science meets sword & planet campaign using my favourite version of D&D plus a some house rules.
  2. Specifically designed to fit into the busy schedule of adults having a flexible schedule. It will follow the same scheduling convention as what was used for the West Marches - there will be no regular time: every session will be scheduled by the players on the fly. It may eventually also include face-to-face play.
  3. Designed as an open game. There is no regular party: each game can have different players. Invite your friends. Ideally, I would like to draw from a large pool of people. This will be enforced by having the players use a tavern in the city as a "homebase" and using Jeff's Triple Secret Random Dungeon Fate Chart of Very Probable Doom if you don't make it back before the end of the session. To support the open game there will be campaign wiki.
  4. The game is an exploration-focused sandbox game set in an ancient, sprawling and decadent city with a maze of catacombs and vaults beneath it and an alien landscape outside the walls that provide for numerous adventure opportunities.
  5. I am a busy guy (and paradoxically quite lazy) therefore I am going to try to make life as easy as possible for myself. The main resources I will use include Vornheim, Towers of Krshal, various published adventure modules (some of which you may recognize), various maps and adventures available online, my archived copy of Scott Driver’s World of Thool blog, the Planet Algol blog and some adventure sites I make up myself. But I will steal shamelessly from anywhere.
  6. The players decide where to go and what to do. It is a sandbox game. No overarching plot, just the overarching environment.
  7. A "beer 'n pretzel" game where fun is the key. Everyone is aware that it is a game and can enjoy as such. This isn't Shakespeare, this is a game of murder-hobo where the players that gather the most treasure win.

Monday, July 2, 2012

B/X Sword, Science & Sorcery

I am looking at starting a new online sword, science & sorcery B/X campaign. 
The elevator pitch is...
Sword and sandal and weird science meet in a sprawling ancient and decadent city lying in the blasted terrain of a dying planet. The city has numerous palaces, temples, arenas, inns, taverns, brothels, towers, prisons, laboratories, graveyards, etc. for adventures to snoop, infiltrate, rob, burn down, etc. Also, below the city lies a megadungeon, as well as an uncountable number of dungeons, lairs, vaults, chambers, tombs, caverns, crypts, and caves to explore/plunder. Outside the city's walls lies the potential for hexcrawl exploration of the alien landscape.

It is inspired by some of the blogs I follow such as Planet Algol and Scott Driver's old Thool blog as well as novels such as Leigh Brackett's Skaith and Mars series.

The next few posts will develop some of my thoughts and the house rules I am considering.

If you are interested either reply in the comments below or email me at p_armstrong [at] email [dot] com.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Can anyone tell me about Roll20?

I just saw Roll20 and was wondering if anyone could tell me about it? Have you used it? Is it user-friendly for us non-online savvy people? Give me a SWAT analysis? ;)

I have been thinking about revisiting online gaming and was thinking about trying G+ but then I saw Roll20 and it piqued my interest.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

From Underground Con

Last Saturday I attended Underground Con here in Calgary. It is a great little unpretentious gaming convention held at a neighbourhood community hall. I believe this is the second year that it has been held but I was unable to attend last year. I am glad to report I had a great time.

The morning started off with me joining Roger from Stirges Suck and Cam, Sandy, Zedd and Bruce to play in David Miller's great Cthulhu-Scooby Doo game that used the Jenga Tower-based Dread rules. The character questionnaires that started the game were answered by everyone in a mixture of camp, humour and imagination. I played the Freddie analogue named Buck Slade. The tower is used whenever a character takes a risk within the game or needs to do something beyond his or her normal abilities. A player makes a “pull” according to the rules of the tower game, and if the tower collapses something horrible happens to their character and is then out of the game. One hour into the game us players did indeed DREAD having to make a pull from the tower. I had a lot of fun.

During the second slot I played in a swashbuckling Tri-Stat game pitting Pirates vs. Ninjas. The game was fun but very linear. It turned out that the gentleman to my left at the table was John Montague. John is a game designer and illustrator. He was taking time out of demoing his game Villains. After the Pirates vs Ninjas game, I hovered and watched while John demoed his game for another group. The production quality was outstanding and while I didn't actually play it, the game play looked quite interesting. I will be keeping a keen eye out for the game.

During the final slot I ran Richard Graves' The Mad Demigod's Castle plus Joe Bloch's Castle of the Mad Archmage using the OD&D rules for a full table of players. The players were a great mix. Roger is familiar with old school D&D, of course, and CJ is a wily 1E AD&D vet. All of the other players did not have any experience with TSR versions of D&D but had played 3rd and 4th edition. I was excited to see them quickly jump into the appropriate mind set.

We started the 4 hour session with 10 minutes of character creation. I had a rough treasure map that led to a treasure on the 3rd level of the dungeon but was really just a plot device - I never expected them to make it that far. The adventure proper began with the characters hiring a couple of retainers and then set off for the ruined castle.  After ad-libbing the exploration of some surface ruins, the characters delved into the dungeon. The players displayed the correct amount of paranoia but unfortunately also foolishly dove head-long into too many pointless combats. A handful of deaths and four hours later the adventure ended just short of midnight. Everyone seemed to have a good time and I really enjoyed it.

After a couple of years of DMing a linear adventure path, it was really refreshing to DM a more open scenario, even if for just a one shot. It did reinforce my desire to make the next campaign a sandbox. Hopefully my group agrees.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Typical B/X City

One thing I am fascinated by is the setting that is implied by the rules and tables in the B/X rulebooks.  For example, the average B/X Armourer is far better off than the average Calgarian in terms of the ratio of average housing price to average annual income.  The average house price in Calgary is about $470,000 and the average household income is approximately $125,000 per year for a ratio of about 3.76-to-1. Page X52 in the Expert rulebook says that a typical two-storey wooden civilian building costs 1,500 gp. The average an Armour is paid 100 gp per month (1,200 gp per year) for a ratio of 1.25-to-1. I'm not too sure this really tells us anything but I find it interesting.

While I was recently looking at the wilderness encounter tables on page X57 and X58 I was thinking about the probabilities of city encounters. Below is a table that lists the probability of having a specific encounter given in the random encounter tables as well as how many times each encounter would happen in a year. It assumes one random encounter check per day using the dice rolls given on page X57 and X58:
A few observations off the top of my head:

1. The typical B/X city is a place of commerce - the highest probability is with a Trader followed by Bandits.

2. Two encounters with Ghouls in a year?!? What kind of place is this? How do the normal humans survive?

3.  You will encounter a Dwarf, Elf or Halfling as often as a Goblin, Orc or Ogre. I find the low probability of encounters demi-humans interesting. Also, the chance of encountering a chaotic humanoid is higher than I thought. Not quite Mos Eisley but more monsters wandering around the city than I thought.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I haven't vanished again

Just travelling for work. I am working on a post about B/X city demographics which I will get up here soon.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New Weapons

I got a package in the mail today…

Sorry for the poor quality blackberry photo.

Small But Vicious Dog

I have been out of the loop for a while so I just discovered Small But Vicious Dog. It is AWESOME!

It makes me want to grab it and Stars Without Number and make a hack to play a game with Noise Marines.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

One Adventure Only

If you could have only one published adventure module, which would it be, and why?
And don't wimp out and pick a compilation ;)

I would likely choose...

  • I love the pulpy, Red Nails-esque mini-sandbox.
  • I like the fact that it is easily expandable and customizable as it has no direct story.
  • There is lots of roleplaying potential between the various human factions.
  • And come on… Zargon is the bomb… He is how B/X demons should be treated.

Monday, April 30, 2012

DCC Adventure Imagery

I don't know very much about Goodman Games' Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG but I do love the layout and imagery of the covers for the adventure modules…

They strike me as very pulpy.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad

Last night my son and I watched The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. I love that movie.

It reminded me of an old post that JB made on Single Encounter Adventures. I love the fact that the Cyclops and Dragon are only overcome by setting up favourable circumstances and not just hack'n slash.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dogs of W*A*R - Black Ops

A couple of weeks ago my home group was scheduled to meet and play our ongoing Rise of the Runelords campaign. However, it turned out two of players were going to be unable to make it so instead I quickly prepped a Dogs of War game using the first mission of Call of Duty - Black Ops as the premise. The characters were part of a special ops team sent into Cuba to assassinate Castro just as the Bay of Pigs invasion begins.

Based on how my players go behave in the D&D campaign, I planned the game to be a rip-roaring, shoot'em up with gun fights and car chases. However, the players instead made a faceman, a sniper and a leader/driver. The faceman started the game by easily talking their way past the first two scenes which I had planned.

After the first two scenes the characters had met a leader of the Cuban resistance and had received a dossier containing intelligence gathered on Castro's location.  At this point I stole the idea of the Planning Stage from John Wick's spy game "Wilderness of Mirrors".

The players were able to tell me what information was in the dossier and what their plans were. For every detail they gave me about Castro's location the group earned an Exploit Point (basically a hero point in DoW). For every 10 minutes they took planning, I took a villain point that I could use to make one part of the intelligence from their dossier incorrect.

Instead of going in guns blazing, the group came up with an intricate plan to infiltrate Castro's safehouse as Russian Army officers. My villain points were used to great effect so that there was already a Russian general in the safehouse and that the "Castro" in the safehouse was a double. Great fun ensued.

While everyone (myself in particular) had a great time, one lesson I learned was to be more direct in terms of the feel/genre I am going for in a one-shot such as this. While I had testosterone-fuelled, gun blazing adventure in mind, the players were thinking clandestine espionage.

Edit: I seem to be having trouble getting the hang of this new blogger. I missed putting a title in each of the three most recent posts.

What is Going On

My home group has been playing Paizo's "Rise of the Runelords" adventure path using 2nd edition for the past couple of years. We are just now getting to the home stretch in the campaign. It has been a great experience. The group has evolved over that time until we have settled on stable group of five. They are a great bunch and I am hoping to keep this group together for a long time.

The group is a mixed bag of experience. K-Slacker and I are definitely from the old school, two other players are mostly 3.5-era gamers and the current campaign is the first for one player. As such, each comes to the table with a certain bias and set of expectations.

The adventure path itself has been fun. I have been enjoying the process of trying to hide the rails from the players and reacting to their actions. I have also been enjoying the process of converting a series of adventures designed for 3.5 back to 2nd edition. It has re-taught me a number of things that I had forgotten about 2nd edition. As an aside, while my heart belongs to B/X I have played more 2nd edition than any other edition of D&D.

Using an adventure path has also kept the work load to a minimum. Which is great as, you might remember, I am the father of two kids whose schedules just keep getting busier. Prep has been very easy, the support from Paizo and their forums is great, and the adventures themselves have been fun and memorable.

However, while hiding the rails from the players has been fun, there are definitely rails. Which increasingly becomes a drag.

As the adventure path begins its home stretch, I am beginning to think about what the next campaign might be. I want to try to give the group, specifically the 3.5-era guys and the new guy, a real "old school" sandbox and also develop a campaign that is an open table with more flexibility for attendance. The first thing that came to mind was to try to redo my Northern Marches campaign but then I also thought about revisiting the City of Thieves idea I had. Honestly though I am worried about the level of player agency required for a good sandbox and if some of the members of the group are up to it. Also, I am lazy and a little leery of the effort.

I am going to pose both to the group (and maybe include as un-yet fully formed idea for a third) and see which they would prefer. I will post the final decision here and hopefully use the blog as a place to develop my thoughts about the campaign.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Underground Con 2012

Hello folks,
The Calgary gaming convention Underground Con is on June 9th, 2012. K-Slacker who is a friend of mine, attended last year and had nothing but good things to say.

I have signed up to DM Castle of the Mad Archmage using OD&D.

K-Slacker is GMing a game of Tempora Mutantur:
By KBR. The Fall has long since wiped out civilization, leaving the planet's surface a savage land of radioactive waste crawling with mutant creatures, and forcing the few survivors underground. Your community has endured through the long years since the Fall, its inhabitants sheltered safely beneath the earth. Until now…

'Scavengers' they call you. You and the other volunteers are being sent above ground to salvage whatever you can from the ashes. Armed only with your wits and the weapons you find, you must travel through this less-than-inviting real estate on the surface.

Stay alert! Fierce radiation storms can blow up at any time, causing all kinds of nasty mutations. And hordes of marauding monsters are roaming around just waiting to make you the snack du jour.

Few have made the journey, and even fewer have survived. Can you?

Tempora Mutantur is a minimalist rules-light post-apocalyptic RPG. Pre-Gens will be provided! You can learn more about it at: http://tempora-mutantur-rpg.blogspot.com.