Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle - session #4

Back in town, the party tended to business while Seamus recovered from his brush with death. A couple more days passed during which they sold the owlbear pelt, and gathered supplies for what they figured might be a somewhat longer stay away from town.

Another suit of chainmail became ready during their rest and they also bought two donkeys for carrying extra supplies and anything they might find.

Once Seamus felt well enough for the trip they set out to the same area in hopes that the owlbears lair, if they found it, might hold some treasure or at least give them a temporary shelter during their hunting.

By mid afternoon of the next day they had discovered a vine shrouded stone tower hidden among the thick trees and shrubbery about a mile from where Seamus had nearly met his end.

A search through thickets and clinging ivy eventually led to the entrance the creature had been using into this long abandoned ediface.

The tower reached up into the canopy and had to be at least 30 or 40 feet tall, possibly more. They made their way into the ground floor after tying the donkeys up outside. Confident that being in the lair of the areas top predator would be enough to keep the donkeys safe, they left nobody to guard them.

There were no windows within and the party needed to use a torch to provide illumination even in daylight. The dim torchlight scattered by their own shadows revealed a large nest and a litter of bones and other detritus on the floor, and a stairway leading upward.

Rowena had begun poking about in the nest, but afraid to risk her hands was accomplishing nothing so Seamus dug in and quickly recovered a necklace and some silver coins.

In short order they decided to explore up the stairs and discovered a thick wooden door bound with iron bands. Thorgrim called Seamus up to ply his locksmithing skills and get it open.

More bad fortune befell Seamus as one of his metal picks slipped from his fingers and bounced down the stairs. While he recoved it from the mess below, Thorgrim chopped his way past the lock and with Aiden's help pushed open the stubborn portal to the second floor.

The only filth on this level appeared to be a thin layer of dust. In the center of the room was a large stone spiral staircase with thick stone walls. The stairwal took up much of the space on this level along with four small stone statues of various creatures atop stone pedastals along the walls.

Ever suspicious, Thorgrim dulled one blade of his ax by taking a wack at the statue nearest the entrance to discover it was indeed stone.

The party decided to search the room for anything out of place and anything hidden. At first they uncovered nothing, then Valen going over the wall that would be beneath the stairs found a secret door.

The secret door concealed a compartment in which sat a medium sized wooden chest. Seamus determined that it was not trapped, and this time, he was able to defeat the lock. Within the chest was a large amount of silver coins. The party decided not to spend the time counting and chose instead to hide them back beneath the stairs until later.

Moving further upward, they decided to breach the door to the third floor. Seamus found this lock also beyond his skills so Thorgrim set to hacking at the door.

Shortly after he began chopping at the stout door, the party detected sounds of distress from outside and what sounded like a lot of flapping wings.

Rushing down the levels and out of the tower, they discovered their donkeys under attack by a large group of stirges that they apparently disturbed when trying to break through the door.

A well placed sleep spell and a bit of a fight later and the donkeys were saved, though badly injured and weakened. Two party members had also been snacked on by stirges, but none were killed.

The party decided to camp in the tower over night, bringing the donkeys inside with them. The door to the third floor could wait until morning.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sam Kisko Rides Again!

Sam Kisko seems to have a creative streak a mile wide.

A few years ago he entered the first of Paizo's RPG Superstar contests and produced some fantastic stuff. Part of which I plan to spring on the players in my campaign.

And most recently Sam won the Grand Prize in Fight On! magazine's Random Table Contest. I'm anxious to see that winning entry, it must be a doozy! His random table beat out 106 other entries by some very notable people in the OSR sphere.

Based on the things he submitted in the Paizo contest I would have to guess that James Raggi and Sam Kisko are psychic twins. They both have some very interesting and dark tastes. I really like what I have seen from both of them.

Way to go Sam and congratulations to all of the winners!

Hey Sam, if you ever plan to pass through Frederick on one of my campaign days, shoot me an email. You have an open invite to sit in for a session.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Don't Scoop! Those Are The Good Bits

See what my sleep deprived mind is forced to title things by those pesky goblins . . .

If you get a chance I highly reccomend checking out what Beedo has going on over at Dreams in the Lich House. He recently posted about sandbox play and has some very good points to consider about the triangle (Freedom - Effort - Detail: pick two). His post also encouraged me to go ahead with something I have been planning to write about.

When determining how to go about getting a campaign going and not driving myself completely bonkers with preparation and world building I had to examine that very triangle. Since I am actually pretty good with improv DMing (go-go-gadget pat-on-the-back) and hate having to spend enourmous amounts of time developing things players may never get around to messing with, it became necessary to come up with a way to make it work and still have decent material to work with.

The decision was made, it would be modules. Lots of other people's effort. The millionaire's method, get  a lot of others to do the heavy lifting for you while you benefit from all of their effort.

Over the hsitory of RPGs a good number of sandbox style modules have been released, both as individual products and as features in magazines. If you have been reading the early game logs and know a little something about early TSR modules you may recognise a couple of them that are already in play within the Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle campaign.

The Secret of Bone Hill and its sequel, The Assassin's Knot have so far provided plenty of material to act as regional foundation. I have also begun tossing in little bits and pieces of improvised material. These two, especially the first, are excellent fodder and Bone Hill is a full-fledged sandbox. Assassins Knot adds a little to the region, tons of interesting NPCs, and provides a plotline should one choose to use it.

Among the adventures, modules and mega-dungeons to come into play as need arises are some old material, and some much more recently released OSR products.

One on the list is something I have already run some of the players through when I converted my old second edition campaign to third edition back in August of 2000. From issue #71 of Dungeon Magazine, Priestly Secrets is another sequel to Bone Hill that takes place entirely within the town of Restenford. Some of them will remember it, but I don't know if they will place all the details. It is an excellent adventure, one of my favorites as short adventures go.

Others include a couple of old contest winning tournament modules from Dragon Magazine, Chagmat, and The Wandering Trees. Those can be dropped almost anywhere into the island. Then there are the Caves of Chaos, and Dwellers in the Forbidden City, two more classic sandbox style modules which already have rough placement.

More modern ingredients include Stone Hell, and Skull Mountain. Then there are some items from Fight On! magzine.

Each of these things will be thoroughly plundered for all of the wonderful useful goodness within, and should any of my players get the idea that reading them will give them an advantage . . . I will know, and I rarely use things exactly as written. Besides, why spoil your own fun! These adventures all offer a ton of material any DM can make a great game stew to serve your players well.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fight On! - table contest winners announced at noon tomorrow!

I had the pleasure of receiving this email earlier today.

Subject: table contest winners announced at noon tomorrow!

Eastern time US. Calithena will be listing winners and rolling prizes live at

Thank you all for your submissions, and have a great rest of the summer!

It may take a bit as there were a lot of great submissions, a lot of honorable mentions, and even a few great prizes on top of that.

If you are cool with having your tables published in Fight On! instead of or in addition to being published in the eventual proposed compilation, drop me a line letting me know (unless they were already published there). Thanks again, and fight on!



I am looking forward the announcement of winners and of seeing the final product. With 107 entries there had to be some very tough choices for the judges.

Random Table Thursday

What is escaping from the cage on the back of that wagon?
Roll 1d6

1 - A large hostile white ape that had been destined for some menagerie.

2 - An angry imp, formerly an abused familiar, now looking for a bit of payback against anyone of arcane or holy bent.

3 - Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?

4 - Criminals being taken to another jail or to the gallows.

5 - Undead bound for the experimental lab of a necromancer.

6 - A planned ambush, they're not escaping, they're attacking!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Non Portable Treasures

We continued the Lesserton & Mor campaign with the weekly group Monday night.

The party has been exploring a maze of passages and rooms beneath an old black tower in the ruins of Mor. While so far casualties are mostly bruised egos and one charmed goblin who fell into a pit and broke his neck, the pickings have been slim when it comes to physical loot.

We did however figure out where a wealth of value is that cannot exactly be carried. Some of the larger rooms are actually an arcane spell book, the walls being enruned with a bunch of spells. One room was entirely first level spells, another was entirely second level spells, and we believe we are close to a room which will have third level spells.

The entire place is geared less toward being lethal and more toward being a testing ground so we believe it used to be a training site for apprentice wizards. There are at least three iron golems active in the complex that do not attack unless struck first. They do however retrieve people from pits or that fall unconscious or paralyzed by traps and carry them to the base of the tower ladder.

Once we can get the money for inks and books to copy everything into we can profit wildly from it.

Meanwhile the meter is running on pay for hirelings and our supplies are getting dangerously low. We are having to improvise and scrounge for material to make torches.

Also, my character Isden has two bought and paid for war dogs waiting at the kennel which he will likely have to pay to get retrained it has been so long since he was there. And he found out not to poke fire elementals to light a torch when it can cause your protection from evil spell to go away, and will destroy your torch in short order. What? It's not like his 8 intelligence and 9 wisdom leave him much room for understanding these things.

Isden did manage to get back past the elementals by climbing into a pit and having a golem carry him to the tower ladder. He also found a corpse in the pit with brigandine armor, a shield, longsword, and javelin. And 4 gold pieces, so we covered at least one day of hireling pay and maybe more if we sell the gear.

There has to be an easier way of doing things, but for now we're going hall to hall, setting off all the minor magical traps to clear them. Those have been one-shots so far, but the pits remain active. Fortunately those are fairly easy to cross once discovered, unless you're a goblin.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Can't Sleep, Goblins Will Eat Me

Here it is late at night and I cannot sleep. The heatwave is playing a very small part, but I have this problem all too often regardless of the regional temperature. It is however the time when many of my game ideas come slipping from the shadows to play.

In case anyone wonders why this is showing up in the daytime on a Tuesday it is because I use the scheduling feature for the vast majority of my posts. Like this one, most of them are written late in the evening when I should otherwise be sound asleep, dreaming of dragons and treasure hoards.

I am currently mulling over some ideas for running Over The Edge as a fill-in game from time to time. I've been prowling the internet for images and forms to print out so I can spring something interesting on the players.

Some of the wonderful things about Over The Edge are how simple character generation is and how easy the system lends itself to improvisation.

If you like conspiracies and weirdness then this is a game worth checking out. Any fan of things like Lost, X-Files, etc, could certainly spend their time in worse ways than sitting down for a session or two of Over The Edge.

A game I pulled together a number of years ago featured PCs with some weird talents, fetishes, and backgrounds.

One was a Rock musician on the run from the law, accused falsley of murdering his wife by beheading her. He had a special talent to influence reality in small ways through his music and that was all that had kept him ahead of the enforcement agencies so far. He also had a nasty drug habit and was trying to sneak a suitcase full of dope through customs everywhere he went. It was the drug habit that left him unsure if he was guilty of murder or not.

Another was a graphiti artist of some notoriety with a penchant for gourmet cooking using people's pets as main ingredients. He was also on the run, having murdered a woman he was having an affair with and afraid that any real scrutiny would point to him instead of her husband the Rock musician. He was moderately certain the rocker had no clue about the affair or who he really was.

The third character was a street tough hoping to become a world class cage fighter, but his problem was if he lost control of his temper he would break out in a bad case of fangs and hair and the moon did not need to be full for this to happen.

All three of them had found their way to the island nation of Al Amarja in the Mediteranian. Here they might be able to duck notoriety for a time since word among those who knew of this place was that weird was the norm. Also, they didn't honor any extradition treaties these three knew about.

The game started off in the airport and one by one they had to locate their luggage, answer to customs and immigration agents, and then figure out how the heck to get out of the vast, sprawling building.

The C&I interviews are supposed to be very unnerving. The book explains that this is an opportunity to shake up the players and set them on edge. When you have players with quirks as out there as these three that task is so easy.

Then as they make their way around the airport having them encounter some oddball events to ratchet things up made it that much more fun. I introduced drug sniffing dogs and a look-alike for the murdered woman, a voodoo houngan, a man selling shrunken heads (that even if you don't buy keep showing up with your stuff), and advertisements for an old Wolfman movie at a nearby cinema, to goad each a little further along the nervous way.

It didn't take much for players to declare their characters were trying to shake the authorities and their personal ghosts.

Later in that session after losing a case full of dope, colliding with a cart full of exotic pets and having to fight temptation to steal any, the group finally made their way out of the airport and met up by having to share the same taxi into town.

They later spent some time at a nightclub where one one had a cage fight, another snuck out and began leaving his mark in spraypaint on the alley walls, and the third for some reason stole a large potted plant he thought was talking to him, shoved it in a cab and paid to have it driven to the other end of the island. Maybe it was the drugs, maybe not.

Unfortunately that group only had time for the one session so nothing in the way of ongoing plots could come into play.

This example is a bit more out there than some, but it was fun and with games, that is the point.

Hopefully I can work in a bit more horror and mystery into the next game of OTE that I run.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Google Minus part 3

Word is that the purge has begun.

Even William Shatner was not immune from the careless actions of the Google Admins and had his account shuttered for a time.

Some serious horror stories are beginning to emerge as the monster that is Google begins the pogrom.

In the event that this blog and my accounts fall victim to this nonsense, I will try to get a Twitter account to get the word out on where the blog might re-emerge and when.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Magic Item - The Pearls of Tessalon

The Pearls of Tessalon are named after a real world medication designed to help people with respiratory ailments cut down or eliminate fluid in their lungs. The drowning sensation of pneumonia sucks and thus this is pretty spot on for naming a water breathing item.

The pearls were a gift from the mermaids of the Bright Shoals to the hero Tessalon for saving them from attacks by the fishermen from nearby villages. 

A misunderstanding had grown into outright hatred and the people of the villages were now killing the merfolk they had once partnered with to improve fishing and reduce harm to the reef.

Tessalon had been traveling through the region when his small boat sank. He was rescued by a mermaid and asked what task he might perform as repayment for his life. The mermaid explained the situation and Tessalon pledged to do what he could to make it right.

From village to village Tessalon made his way finding some deed to perform. At Orbach he drove off the raiding goblins. At Highcrest he slew a small dragon that had been stealing children. It was similar at each village and at each the payment he asked was for the elders to meet him on a certain day on a small stoney island just after sunrise. 

The elders arrived as promised and once they were all ashore, Tessalon undid the moorings of their small boats and set them adrift. When the elders discovered they were stranded and would surely die of starvation without help, Tessalon shouted from his small boat a solution.

"Make peace with the merfolk and they may be kind enough to recover your boats." Not being complete fools, the elders realized the wisdom of Tessalon's words and before sunset all of the elders had been escorted home aboard their boats.

The merfolk were overjoyed by his success and as a gift of thanks they gave to him the magic pearls that alowed him to breath as they do beneath the surface of the waters.

These small translucent yellow pearls appear to have bubbles suspended within them. Swallowing one allows water breathing for a land dweller over a period of 1d6 + 6 turns.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gaming Dilemas

Sometimes it can be difficult to get a game group together to play.

For example my Lost Baronies campaign always feels like it is teetering on the edge of collapse. There was a period of time when it looked as if it might not even get started.

Invitations went out via email and word of mouth to 25 people two and half months before the planned start date. As the date got closer, notices were also posted on five websites seeking players. Through all that time only one person had committed to play. Then one week before the start six more agreed to give it a shot.

Since that time scheduling has been a hassle and two players have dropped out. Last Saturday was the scheduled date for session #6 and sadly last minute changes caused that session to cancel.

By comparison, the weekly group I am part of keeps growing. We have multiple DMs willing to jump in and run things, and we communicate constantly trying to work out scheduling to accomidate the most players. There have been some skipped weeks, but most of the time the biggest problem is picking the best night to play.

Currently the dilema is sorting out which of two campaigns is going to be active this coming week, and it looks like we'll be missing one regular player and gaining a guest player. The table will have a crowd around it and be almost standing room only. That is the kind of dilema every DM should want.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Getting Mug'd

After setting up the store for the blog I decided to order a few things from it myself. The two mugs and two t-shirts I ordered arrived today.

Here are two quick pictures of the mugs snapped with my phone camera.

 Kind of hard to see the details in this set of phone camera pictures, but they actually turned out pretty nice, especially the one of the silver and gold coins on the dungeon battlemat.

You can look back at the original picture for a close-up of the image.

Of course the other one is the logo Mark Allen did for the website.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Random Table Thursday - Barrel Rider Mishaps

These are some of the random mishaps that can pop up when a joker is pulled from the deck during moves in the Barrel Rider mini game.

Roll a d12
1 - A small mangy dog begins nipping at the heals of the person steering the barrel. Save against breath weapons. Failure indicates a runaway barrel. Draw two cards for movement. If currently going uphill the movment is in reverse. No attempts to modify movement are allowed against these cards. If another mishap is indicated apply it also.

2 - Lookout! A drunken spectator has stumbled into the way and spilled beer on the cobblestones. Choose: run him down and risk a mishap or try to avoid him through movement. If you choose to run him down save vs death. If the result is a failure roll 1d6: 1 - the collision results in a tangle of bodies around and under the barrel. One point penalty on rolls for this trip due to disorientation and sore ankles. 2 - the impact causes the barrel to jerk 90 degrees to the side (determine randomly which direction) 3 - you miss the drunk, but hit the beer slicked stones and spin. Rider must make a sickness save. 4 - the drunk you just ran over happens to be someone important and will want to get some payback for your impertinence at a later date. 5 - the violence of bouncing over the drunk brought the barrel down on a jutting stone and cracked a board. One point penalty to rolls for steering for the rest of the contest. 6 - Lucky break! you slam into the drunk knocking him into the path of a rival team and they spin causing their rider to have to make a sickness roll.
If you choose to avoid him draw a movement card. Straight indicates a collision, roll on the table.

3 - A fight breaks out between supporters of rival teams and they start throwing things until other spectators can restrain them. To avoid getting hit by something draw a movement card. If it indicates a turn, do so and you avoid the thrown object. Otherwise select a team member to have a one point penalty on rolls for the rest of this trip due to a painful lump on the head.

4 - A band holding your barrel together loosens. Suffer a one point penalty on all steering rolls for the rest of the contest.

5 - Another team has lost control of their barrel and it comes careening into yours. Theirs is destroyed. Roll 1d4 to see what happens to your barrel: 1 - you manage to deflect the worst of the impact, no harm to your barrel. 2 - draw a movement card and execute the move, straight indicates backwards. 3 - the bottom of your barrel comes out unbalancing it. Suffer a one point penalty on all steering rolls for the rest of the competition. 4 - the impact rings your rider's head causing him to suffer a one point penalty on the next sickness roll made.

6 - The person steering steps where some stones are missing and stumbles. Draw a card and apply that direction. If going uphill straight indicates backwards.

7 - Two battling tomcats rush into the barrel and continue their fight all around the rider while tumbling. The shifting weight makes steering harder by one point and on the next sickness roll the rider also has a one point penalty . . . and a lot of scratches.

8 - Angry birds! A frightened pig comes running through the street pursued by some squawking geese. Roll 1d6, even turn 90 degrees right, odd turn 90 degrees left.

9 - Who put those nails there?! You roll the barrel over some nails which barely pierce the thick wood. Now your rider has some additonal discomfort to contend with. Rider must drink one extra beer at the next stop to ease the pain.

10 - A small stone gets wedged into your barrel making straight movement difficult. when a straight movement card is drawn make a steering roll to keep it if you choose to do so. This stone is removed when this trip ends.

11 - Fire hazard. A rival team hired someone to cook your goose. A flaming flask of oil is rolled out into the road. Draw two cards and immediately execute them. If you choose to make steering rolls, failure causes a permanent one point penalty for all steering rolls, and your rider must make an immediate sickness roll. If you let the cards take you where they will, no harm is done unless you collide with something.

12 - You splash through a puddle containing animal filth and the rider gets a facefull. Suffer a two point penalty on the next sickness roll.

This list can easily be expanded. Post your ideas in the comments and if enough come in to expand to a d20 table the rest will be posted in a compiled table later.

Feel free to use and abuse this game in any way you see fit. please be sure to let me know what changes you make so an expanded version of the game can be posted in the future.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Tipping Hill Festival - Barrel Rider

Tipping Hill is a neighborhood in the southwest corner of Loreltarma. The neighborhood exists on a large section of hills that overlook the center of the city. There is a great dip at the crest of the largest hill with a cobblestone road running from peak to peak.

During the annual festival a contest is held with several teams competing. Each team must have between three and five members.

The teams purchase a keg that was emptied during the fall and winter seasons from either of the taverns. Usually there are about half a dozen kegs available in various conditions. Since the taverns also want to be able to claim that the winning team used one of their kegs, they often try to protect the empties from the weather and skullduggery, but sometimes, stuff happens.

At each peak are taverns and the objective is for each team to get their keg from peak to peak 7 times by rolling it on its side, ending at the opposite tavern from which they started. One member of the team must ride in the keg, and this can be a different member for each trip. If the passenger gets sick during the trip to the other peak, the team is eliminated from the contest. At each peak the teams stop and go into the tavern where they chug at least one beer each.

Participants must pay for their drinks and often tip generously for quick service, and sometimes for non-poisonous additives in rival team's beers to try to slow them down while they fish out the offending object or to encourage illness.

No magic may be used to enhance performance or to interfere with other teams directly. Showy displays of magic for entertainment are highly encouraged by the spectators, especially if it gives everyone a good laugh.

Points are scored, one for each beer consumed at each stop and any team member getting sick loses the most recent point they scored. Since this is also a race, the winners are determined first by seeing if any team makes all seven stops, then by which team made the most stops, then by how many beers were consumed as a tie-breaker.

Much wagering is done on which team will win.

If a team of pcs want to get in on this, here is how it is done.

Use a battle mat or a piece of paper, or your wall, whatever can be used to show where the taverns are and everywhere in between. Make sure there are 20 rows and 5 columns on the playing field. Random placement of 1d6 worth of obstacles at the beginning is optional. More may be added by destroyed barrels and other mishaps.
Grab a standard pack of playing cards, leave the jokers in. Shuffle the deck thoroughly. The cards function as random direction modifiers. Even cards indicate a 45 degree right angle, Odd cards indicate a 45 degree left angle, Face cards indicate straight forward movement, and with the jokers acting as random mishaps.

Each team rolls for initiative using the lowest modifier among the members of the team as that team's modifier with the exception of the rider that trip.

The players will draw a card for each space they wish to move to try to get to the opposite end of the map and the next tavern. If they want to try to change the outcome one player is chosen from those not inside the barrel, to make a roll under a specific ability. When going downhill the roll is against dexterity, when going uphill it is against strength. Keep in mind that a bad turn of directions can temporarily flip which roll is used for steering.

Succeeding at a steering roll means the team can counter the direction card to either keep straight or turn slightly if the card was indicating straight. Failure on the roll indicates the opposite effect. For example if the card indicates a left turn and the team wants to maintain straight and the roll is failed, then it turns 90 degrees left instead of only 45 degrees. In the case of a card indicating straight and the roll failing, the barrel instead moves backwards a space if going uphill, or continues straight.

At the halfway point on the map is the bottom of the dip in the road. Mark it with a darker line. Not only does this line indicate which ability score is used for steering, but is the point where the rider has to save or get sick.

PCs each begin with a -5 modifier to help them with steering. This may be further modified by having a good or bad Constitution modifier. If Bruno the Axe has an 18 constitution in Labyrinth Lord, he may modify the roll an additional 3 in his favor. At the start Bruno would have a combined -8 added to his roll.

Likewise for anyone that needs to try to avoid getting sick, characters begin with a +5, modified further by Constitution. In this case Bruno would have a combined +8. To avoid sickness the character saves vs poison.

Ah, but there's a catch! For each beer consumed by a character that modifier changes one for the worse. In Bruno's machismo at the start of the competition he decides to down two beers to score two points. He's tough, he can handle it, so now he begins the race with -6 and +6 as his modifiers.

By the start of the final leg of the race, each character will have downed at least 7 beers, maybe more if they are trying for points to help them in a tie-break.
If movement indicates a collision of barrels or with obstacles (in which case backwards movement is possible), draw a random card and move the barrel that diection. Also the character steering saves vs paralysis or falls prone for one turn and someone else must steer the next turn. Riders must also make a sickness save. Modifiers do apply as above.

The condition of the barrels can also modify rolls. Warping, loosened bands, and split boards can all modify the rolls as can slickness of cobblestones should there be rain or other liquids spilled. Taven keepers charge good money for better barrels.

If people want to run separate teams just get extra decks of cards.

The beginnings of the random mishap table will be this week's Random Table Thurdsay post. It is hoped that anyone that runs this will add more random mishaps.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nights Dark Terror

Somehow in my early days of gaming I missed out on playing the classic B10 module Night's Dark Terror. Or at least I don't remember playing it, which strikes me as odd since one of my friends has always been a huge fan of Mystara and Karameikos of which this module is a major part.

Monday night, in place of our regular game another of our weekly group members stepped up to start running this as a fill-in.

Our DM for Lesserton & Mor had missed his flight trying to get out of Florida on time. His explanation is that he was in the airport and somehow got drawn into a vortex of stupid. For anyone that has flown, this type of thing has a decent percentage of happening on the random encounter tables for any airport.

The party began in the city of Kelvin and hitched a barge ride northward to go to a job escorting horses. Our barge got ambushed by Iron Ring slavers who were no match for the party despite the wizard catching a dagger to the back. Now we're preparing to track a charmed slaver back to their meeting point to lay the smack down on more of them.

Next week I expect we'll be back in the Leserton & Mor game where the party is exploring a dungeoon beneath a black tower.

Seems like there's almost always something we can play most weeks. Good group.

A Quick Look At Stats

Being a young blog, TDAAL isn't setting any reords or burning up any charts, but I thought it would be fun to make a quick note of some stats.

Here's where the views have come from so far:

Unites States  372
Germany 6
Austria 4
Canada 4
Denmark 4
Finland 4
Czech Republic 2
United Kingdom 2
Belgium 1
France 1
Slovenia 1
Romania 1

Most of the European traffic appeared after the Vornheim post went live. The Romanian visit was the first visit from other than the U.S. and was before the Vornheim post.

And the blog has non-anonymous 5 followers so far and a few whom I know about that have not signed in as followers. All are appreciated!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Google Minus? - part 2

As we get closer to the date Goggle is supposed to start deleting private profiles, there still is not much in the way of solid information about how that will affect those who choose to remain annonymous.

Something that might be a clue however was what happened to me the other day when trying to work with some of the pictures on my blog. A window popped up within blogger mentioning my Picassa account and asking about my profile.

I don't have a Picassa account. Or before then I didn't have one.

I checked the matter out to discover that since Google is folding both Blogger and Picassa together under Google+ any pics added to the blog now get put into what will soon be named Google Photos.

Needless to say I was not thrilled with having my real name splattered all over an account I never opened so I immediately changed that profile to match my profile here on Blogger (soon to be named Google Blogs) so it only says OSRbaron.

Since I set it to private what happened next was interesting. It simply showed a string of numbers instead of any information. Could they be just calling private profiles by strings of numbers now?

Will they be denying anyone that wishes to remain annoymous access to their accounts after July 31st or can we still use our accounts? This is the biggest question still hovering around this whole issue aside from some of the privacy loopholes rumored to remain.

If anyone, especially someone from Google, can give us some solid information about the privacy concerns and access concerns it would be greatly appreciated.

Don't forget to check out my store.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle - Notes

At this point in the campaign the party had managed to score some nice magic items.

The stuff from the bandit lair on Bald Hill should have been tougher to get their hands on, but I made a mistake with the sleep spells and in the heat of play forgot the limit on the level of what it can effect. The Orc thief that was ready to backstab from up on the ledge, and the Orc cleric were both 5th level and should not have been effected.

If I had not made that mistake it is very likely that half or more of the party could have died during that encounter.

That is ok though since the party has done something that changed the timetable of behind the scenes activity, advancing the plans of some NPCs. Even though this is a sandbox, things still can and do happen and the actions of the characters does play a part. I cannot spill the beans since the events have not yet shown the ripple effect in play.

From the ritual they determined the effectiveness of the magic items as follows:

Leather armor +1
Chainmail +2
Shield +1
Girdle of Ogre Strength adds 3 to strength giving +2 to hit and +4 to damage
Dagger +1
Flail +2
Longsword +1

From previous encounters they still have a Potion of Plant Control, and the scroll with 2 level two spells, Levitation and Luck Runs Dry (from the Ancient Vaults blog).

There are also things my faulty memory casued me to miss during writing up sessions. One such item was when they sold the perfect ruby to Olhatta for 750 gold she offered them a chance to buy one of the "pearls of Tessalon" for 250 gold. They passed on that offer. This item will have its own post soon.

I was going to post some item card pictures to show what these items might look like, but with Paizo's lawyers going after people who do so, have decided not to tempt fate.

Don't forget to check out my store.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Distant Players As Guest NPCs

Over at Dungeons and Digressions there is a great idea being put forward about having guest NPC appearances by people via Skype or some other video chat system. Getting other bloggers to help each other by becoming a troupe of NPC performers seems like a natural extension of what we already enjoy about this hobby, the wealth of novel of ideas we can all benefit from.

The idea has a lot of good points going for it as long as nobody decides to use it as an opportunity for mischief. The last thing my players need is a chatroulette moment gone very wrong.

Battlestar Galactica RPG

The DM for the Wednesday night Labyrinth Lord group was away in Florida seeing family this week so another of the players stepped up and ran a session of the Battlestar Galactica RPG.

Like its sister game, Serenity, BSG uses the Cortex system (you add dice together to hit a target number, and the dice scale depending on how good your character is at something) and is published by Margaret Weis Productions.

I have the Serenity RPG, almost had a playtest group for it,  but couldn't find enough players willing to commit to once a week and signing non disclosure agreements. The cortex system is good for what it does. Not my normal cup of tea, but not something to complain about either.

We ran pre-rolled characters for this session and the GM had nifty table tents with pictures of various TV and Movie actors with character names at the bottom that he uses when he runs this as a convention game (which he did at Origins this year). My suggestion was to add their call-signs as well.

The mission was to extract Defense Minister from Caprica about 36 hours after the Cylon attack began.

Our team consisted of 3 marines, (a combat medic, recon specialist, and a meat shield with a D12 in brawling skill); a female Viper pilot that was a looker with a special bonus to charming the guys and was our mission leader; a Raptor pilot, second in command; and an intel specialist.

Each character began the game with 6 plot point markers, which appropriately in this instance were actual spent brass cartridges. Some from .22 ammo and some from .308 (if I recall correctly). These could be spent to add scaling dice to a roll or buy info, or change some minor plot element. You could also earn more of them for doing something very in character, or getting a chuckle from the GM, etc.

The mission began simple enough with the Raptor jumping into orbit at a junk cluttered LaGrange point to scan for activity and then a jump into the atmosphere of Caprica. Despite trying to hide while scanning, two Cylon raiders at least one of which was a heavy raider spotted our arrival from a good distance. Then our jump into atmo went a bit wrong and we arrived at 18,000 feet instead of 10,000.

Never take a combat medic's advice for a landing site. Sure the chalet had a helipad that gave us direct access. Sure we could potentially be in and out before those pursuing raiders arrived. Riiight.

Then there was the matter of the Minister's security detail. Our group was more diplomatic than the convention group. Instead of duking it out with fellow humans, our Captain talked her way in to see the Minister.

The medic and the Raptor pilot were left to guard the Raptor. That went really well. -ahem-

The pilot decided he needed a prolonged break away from the ship to eat an apple and "Doc", well he knows nothing about Raptor consoles, but his sense of impending doom ability did alert him to the blinking red light that had not been blinking before. Over the short range com he suggested that "Pirate" come see to the ship and cut off his extended pee break.

Turns out there was a missile about 20 seconds away with a lock on the Raptor. oops! They both ran. Then the Captain suggested ECM and counter-measures. Too late. Scratch one Raptor and our only known means of escape.

Not long afterward a heavy raider landed and offloaded 8 of the metal Cylons. Death toasters.

The party and the security detail had managed to get the Minister and his guest out of the compound and into hiding in the woods. And thanks to a happy little pill, calmed and controlable.

The two other marines along with our intel guy "Spooky" and our Raptorless pilot managed to board the heavy raider while the toasters were hunting in other sections of the chalet and grounds cleaning up some of the security detail that were left to fight.

Nobody could figure out how to fly it or make anything happen with the raider. It became necessary to rig some grenade triplines in case some toasters started coming back, which they did and promptly two of them were scrap metal.

More Cylons responded to the blast and soon the party was blasting away while mostly avoiding injury.

After the 8 toasters were neutralized everyone decided to make a break in the two SUVs parked in the compound, but not before Doc pumped a morphine and other drug cocktail into a major "vein" in the raider. No idea if it worked or not.

The party and our objective drove to a base about 10 miles away hoping to find something to get us into orbit in time for extraction. We ran into more Cylons, but we did find a replacement Raptor to get us off-world.

A fun session and not a bad system for a one-shot or even a campaign if that is your objective.

Don't forget to check out my store.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle - session #3

I have to spend some time getting ready for session #6 tomorrow so this write-up will be shorter than #2.
The party made their encumbered way back to Lake Farmin from Bald Hill. It was dusk when they reached the gates and had to pay their way in as before. Since it was too late for the meetings with Olhatta and Hestal, they decided to get rooms, store everything and grab some food and drink before going to sleep.
At the bar Tok decided to engage Glami the barkeep in some talk hoping a quick tale of their day's battle might net them some sort of discount. He opened with mentioning the serious scar on the inside of Glami's partially paralyzed right arm, "I see you're familiar with the hazards of swordplay. I would hate to see the other fellow." Glami mumbled "Yes, I know swords, what can I do for you?"
Tok began to mention the werewolf being a bunch of orc bandits and was about to pull forth a string with severed orc ears when he realized there were orcs in the bar as customers. He lowered his voice and confided the story to barkeep. Glami nodded his head and listened intently.
Despite the story, no discounts emerged. "Only the owner, Abraham, can cut breaks on prices."
Finishing a cheap meal, the company headed off to bed.
They planned to stay in town several days to rest their wounded, sell some gear, identify some of the items they had determined were laced with magic, and see if they could get Krak to modify some of the chainmail armor to fit their various sized group members.
Since the humans that could wear such armor would fit fairly well into it, they opted not to modify those, however the rest, 3 elves, two dwarves, and a halfling would require some work. In all, after negotiating prices, Krak indicated that the entire batch could be finished in 23 days, plus the two days he required to complete the work he was already doing for another customer.
This meant that they would only have a couple of people in better armor when they went hunting for the other bandit lair.
The party also determined that they had found quite a nice haul of magical arms and armor. One suit of chainmail, one suit of leather armor, a longsword, a dagger, a flail, a shield, and a girdle all reacted to the detect magic spell. Now they had to spend at least a couple days identifying items.
While the elves and wizard spent time conducting the Thaumaturgic Lore ritual, others would complete their business with Hestel the alchemist and Olhatta the jeweler.
Hestel returned the potions to them and explained that one was for listening at a distance, clairaudience, and the other was very odd indeed. He believed it to grant one sovereignty over plants.
Enough time passed that one of the chainmail suits had been modified and all of the items had been identified.
The party not only had a great deal more money, but found themselves now in possession of some powerful weapons and armor. The girdle imbues its wearer with much greater strength. The weapons and armor, greater prowess and defenses.
Refreshed and anxious for action, they gathered a small amount of supplies for a couple days hunting and set off to wander the Xerbal Mountains.
At first they seemed to be having little luck. In fact Seamus began to have what seemed like the worst luck he had ever suffered. As the company was walking across some open ground among some tall grass, while passing some bushes and small trees he managed to slip his foot into a hunter's snare and get tumbled and dragged into the bushes.
He suffered only a bruised ego from the snare trap and the laughter of his companions. Things were about to get much worse for him.
Elanna indicated she saw something move among a dense treeline about a quarter mile ahead. The party then spread out and began moving crouched over through the tall weeds. Valen, Tok, and Seamus moved ahead to get close enough to try using the clairaudience potion, hoping they might be able to determine if they were close to the bandits.
Valen uncorked the bottle and drank it down.
At first he noticed his hearing becoming worse, to the point of deafness and then as he concentrated on the area about 60 feet ahead, about 10 feet into the treeline he began to notice sounds. A squirrel to his left scampering up a tree. Insects chirping. The sound of breathing, and then a steady heartbeat. It was as if he were surrounded by the breathing and the slow, powerful heart beat.
He relayed this oddness and the three of them crawled slowly to within about 30 feet of where they perceived this to be coming from. Tok pitched a couple of rocks to help Valen guage things better. First one - 10 feet or so to his front. Second - about the same to his right. The third one, about 10 feet behind him and bouncing off tree branches and clattering into a bush. The heartbeat picked up a beat or two and the breathing was slightly quickened. Was he listening through the ears of the person or creature that possessed these sounds?
It was about the time of this realization that the enourmous owlbear burst fro the treeline tearing right at the three crouching intended meals.
Back-pedaling, Tok and Valen managed to get sling stones and arrows onto their foe. The party members further back were trying to draw ranged weapons and Rowena loosed a Magic Missile. Seamus was rooted in place by the sudden surprise of charging fur and feathers.
The battle was over quickly. Valen, still able to hear only through the ravening beasts ears was sickened at the sound of crunching bone as the owlbear clawed and bit Seamus. Then another stone from Tok and the assault of the remaining party members felled the creature.
After they pulled the 1500 pound monster from on top of Seamus where it had fallen, they began trying to revive the badly mauled thief. At first it seemed hopeless and then his luck turned and he began to draw shallow, ragged breath again.
While some tended to Seamus the others skinned the pelt and head from the owlbear. Then they made a litter for Seamus and made their way back to town.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Shameless Marketing Whore Am I

There are a series of special projects I would like to be able to do for this blog and for the OSR in general. It would also be nice to have a means of raising some scratch toward future OSR publishing projects like Crackhelm which was mentioned in one of my campaign write-ups earlier.

One of those projects is my "Support Your OSR Artist" idea, where I pay an OSR artist for a piece and display it here, talk about the artist's other work, etc.

To be able to afford it as an ongoing concern is going to cost some money and getting it was a bit of a puzzle until the idea occurred to me to sell stuff online.

This in mind I decided to open a Zazzle store The Dice Are A Lie store. (Hopefully I will soon figure out how to add this link just below the logo. I have no current HTML-Fu.)

The first two things in it are the wonderful logo above by Mark Allen, and the picture I took of the battlemat with the silver and gold coins spilled onto a dungeon map. Eventually these should be joined in the store by other images.

Feel free to call me a choice name or three in the comments or tell me the idea is tacky if that is how you feel, or just for fun. It won't hurt my feelings. It might sadden me if the idea for featuring and paying the OSR artists doesn't get off the ground, but I shall be fine otherwise.

Speaking of featuring artists, I'm hoping to do a multi-parter for Mark Allen, showcasing the process of developing the logo, and highlighting his work. I have to remember to email Mark and see if he will have time to do an email interview.

Please take time to check out the store. Currently Zazzle are celebrating their birthday and having daily sales on different items. Tuesday was 60% off cards, yesterday was $6 off each t-shirt, today is $6 off each mug when you use the coupon code listed at the top of their page.

Let me know your thoughts, good, bad, or indifferent.

Random Table Thursday

Things found at a local bazaar.

1 - Small ivory carving of what looks like a cross between and elephant and a flightless bird. It has tiny flakes of emerald for eyes.

2 - Bronze charm bracelet with places for 5 tiny charms, 2 are missing. The other three are made of cut and polished amber. The figures are a lion, a falcon, and a shark.

3 - A golden cage the size of a common lantern. Within is a blue lizard that the vendor occasionally spoon feeds water or a scrap of meat.

4 - Conical red hats with long white feathers sticking out from the top.

5 - A wooden ball on a thick string. The ball is hollow, with various sized holes cut into it and another wooden ball inside. When swung through the air it makes a cacaphonous whistle and rattle noise.

6 - A hairpin with a harp design. The strings are mother of pearl.

7 - Good luck seeds. A merchant is selling tiny pouches of various types of seeds he claims are blessed and that spreading these seeds as you travel brings you blessings of good luck.

8 - A narrow bolt of yellow cloth with leaf patterns sewn into it using brown thread.

9 - Small wooden flutes painted in various colors.

10 - Halfling sized silk gloves.

11 - Fragrant oils for lanterns.

12 - Packets of fish scales, alleged to ward off bad water spirits when sprinkled under your bunk or hammock aboard ship.

Another One Bites The Dust

This was something I was expecting for a couple of reasons, and it is always disappointing when it happens, though we soldier on.

A second player let me know Tuesday evening that he was also dropping out of the campaign. In both cases they prefer faster paced tactical play with lots of character customization to the old school system and sandbox style of play.

The two that dropped out were also carpooling a 200 mile round trip. It would normally be 136 miles round trip, but they were taking a side trip to pick up a third player. For that alone I could see them dropping out.

Again, they are good friends of mine and will be missed at the table. Heck I'm overjoyed and flattered that they made the journey to begin with!

Since the third player lives close to a number of others in the campaign I am hopeful that new carpooling arrangements can be made so I dn't lose a third player.

Speaking of which . . . Old School Labyrinth Lord sandbox campaign in Maryland is seeking players. :)

Session #6 of the Lost Baronies campaign is this coming Saturday. I'm looking forward to it. The timetable for some events in the campaign is advancing and the characters are about to head back out for more bandit hunting.

I also hope to post the session #3 write-up soon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Magic Weapon - Marrow Fiend

Marrow Fiend has a brutal history. The weapon was created by order of a tyranical ruler as the symbol of status for the guard captain at his most infamous prison. The mace was ensorceled by his court wizards.

Image of an all metal mace to give a general idea.

The weapon was forged of a single piece of metal and given properties that would increase the pain inflicted when hit, breaking bones and crushing the flesh.

It is + 2 to hit and damage. When used against prisoners within the grounds of a prison or jail, or against anyone in manacles or chains, the victim must save vs petrify or paralyze at -2. Failure indicated a broken bone resulting in halved movement and -2 (or -10%) on all physical activities for a month. On a natural 20, the damage to the bones is so severe that without magical healing within 2 turns a limb must be amputated.

Sages believe that a minor demon was trapped withing the weapon to give it such a thirst for the marrow within bones.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Prop Dusting

I have a bunch of props and other accessories for use in fantasy gamng. Due to the infrequency of play over the last few years, many have been collecting dust. Among those various and sundry items are a collection of Mardi Gras coins in various colors that I bought a number of years prior to hurricane Katrina from a company in Louisiana. I bought some other nifty props from them as well. I hope to recover the company name in time for my next Prop Dusting post.

Below are pictures of some of the coins spread out on a battle mat.

Altogether I received 1,000 coins, not all are shown. To keep the cost down I had to accept a random assortment and couldn't select how many of each would be sent. It still worked out pretty nice even though I would have preferred more gold and silver instead of as many green and red.

The dyed aluminum coins are about an inch and a half across and show whatever the various krews and organizations wanted on them. They don't interfere with the suspension of disbelief as long as players can ignore the modern information on them. (So who are these people, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra that are stamped on some of these red coins? Obviously the headmaster of some magical academy and a very tactless bard.)

When I looked into getting coins made for gaming, the cost was way too high so this alternative seemed reasonable. If I recall correctly, with shipping the cost per coin worked out to roughly 8 cents, if you don't count the other items that were purchased, in which case it was slightly less. Compare that to some of the fantasy gaming coins on the market and you'll see why this seemed to be an acceptable option, especially when saving money to buy other props.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle - Session #2 (part C)

The party decided to spend one more night at the Inn before going bandit hunting on Bald Hill. That was the last place they had been told some of the bandits had been seen prior to the bridge ambush. Maybe they had a hideout with some loot. They gathered supplies for a day trip and set out early.

It was a stroke of luck (for good or ill you can decide) that led them quickly to a scrub covered hillside where about 120 feet away was a cave opening. The sentry on watch called out an alarm before being taken down by Valen's bow shot.

The party continued to advance, spreading out along the hill, some closing faster than the others. Tok and Fred took up guard positions, with Tok hiding his rather rotund form in some small bushes. Two longbow armed Orcs stepped from the opening and fired into the group striking Aiden and Samson. Pedro stepped up and healed Aiden to nearly full health, but for Samson the cleric it was too late. An arrow through the throat had slain him. The closer members charged the two Orc bowmen.

A short time later the entrance of the cave was in the company's control and chanting could be heard from within. Aiden, Thorgrim, and Meira advanced further into the cave and a hold spell froze Aiden in place.

Lucky for Aiden, Elanna was close behind and her sleep spell dropped several lurking Orcs including the one on the ledge above the entrance ready to strike at the still form of Aiden.

The others began to come into the cave and a melee broke out at the front when another flail weilding Orc attacked Meira. The Orc priest of Kord raised his shield and flail, spoke a quick threat and attacked Thorgrim. Thorgrim's knees nearly buckled beneath the blow and it was obvious he was badly wounded and near death.

A Magic Missile from Valen, and a Sleep spell from Rowena finally brought the fighting to a close. Some cut bandit throats later and it was time to loot.

Spread about in the caves were dozens of boxes and barrels of stale food and water, dry-rotted cloth, and other worthless goods. However, there was treasure to be had. Not only did the Orcs have chainmail, flails, longbows, a shield, longsword, dagger, and a girdle, but they also had coins. A decent amount of gold, silver and electrum coins were looted from the bodies and in a sack behind some large rocks.

There was also a not instructing that the next things stolen should be brought to the Zerbal Mountain location.

After some rest and gathering up the good, the now fairly encumbered group decided to head back to Lake Farmin. Poor Samson was left behind without a decent burial, just rolled a little ways down the hill.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle - Session #2 (part B)

In the morning, the company set out from the East gate, expecting a rough day long trip without much for supplies.

Rounding the southeastern part of Bald Hill the party noticed some noise ahead that might have been a battle. Some in the party wanted to rush ahead along the road, but the majority won out and Tok was sent to investigate.

Tok had been gone what seemed too long to be coincidence. They had become concerned he might have been spotted lurking in the shrubs beside the road so ahead they went.

Rounding the bend and breaking from the thicker tree line they came upon a scene of chaos. Halflings, a few dozen at rough count, covered in red smears, screaming, running about, laughing, and having a grand time. Beer was being tapped from a small keg, and they were throwing cherries from bushel baskets at one another. Right beside the keg, getting a good early day drunk started was Tok, none the worse for wear.

This turned out to be a springtime ritual among the cherry farming halfling clans. A couple bushels of the worst cherries of the crop and a keg of good beer were brought to this intersection where a battle royale and party was had to celebrate.

Annoyed with Tok, some for his carelessness in not reporting back that everything was okay, others because he didn't invite them right away, they made introductions, bought 4 pints of the better cherries, collected Tok and prepared to continue on. That is when they were bid a good trip and warned about the werewolf that had mauled some folk on the hill recently. Apparently a drunken Tok was the least of their worries.

This was a fun little random encounter roll. The dice indicated two possibilities, a werewolf, or a bunch of halflings. The party lacked anything to defend themselves with so I decided to combine both in the above manner. I'm not against letting the dice fall how they will, but I'll err on the side of leaving open a suspenseful possibility before initiating a non-defensible tragedy this early on in the campaign. Next time . . . we'll see.

It was about an hour before nightfall when they reached Lake Farmin. The cost at the gates was a silver piece each, 10 times the cost of entrance at Restenford. Much grumbling later about "this is how you treat werewolf hunters", they paid the fee and entered.

They made their way to the Inn of Abraham where they again tried to use the story of being there to hunt down and eleimate the werewolf plaguing the area as a means of reducing expenses. It did win them a round of free beer, but did little to reduce the overall costs.

In the morning they set about finding buyers for the remaining gear that they themselves didn't need, as well as the gem appraiser and an alchemist. It didn't take long to locate all three.

Krak is a larger than average Orc who runs the armory and smithing operation. Olhatta is the jewler, and Hestel is the local alchemist.

With a little negotiation they had what they felt was a fair price for the leather and hide armor the bandits had worn as well as some of the weapons.

Olhatta charged a small appraisal fee and informed them that the gems were worth 10, 50, 100, and 750 gold respectively. It was the small flawless ruby that was appraised the highest. Olhatta offered to buy the ruby and could have the cash the next day. Agreed.

Hestel originally wanted 150 gold to identify the two potions, but a weakness for fresh cherries was his undoing. The price dropped to 100 gold after being given a few pints of cherries. The potions could be picked up the next evening.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle - Session #2 (part A)

The second session picked up with the original party getting close to Restenford on their way back after the bandit ambush. They walked along with a farmer who came off of a side road with his donkey pulled cart of apples from the hillside orchards. They bought a bushel of fresh apples for a silver piece, just what the farmer needed to pay his way through the gate.

Outside the gates were three locals just back from escorting another adventuring company along the west road. These three had heard about these newcomers, and wished to offer up their expertise and local lore for equal shares if the deal could be made.

Thorgrim, a dwarf, and his twin elf companions, Aiden and Valen, introduced themselves. Discussion was brief and to the point. A deal was made, full shares for full participation.

One copper piece each later and the now eleven member company made their way through the north gate into Restenford.

The three new players only created one character each and were likely to only be attending once a month. Their characters would be loaned out to other players or if prompting is needed, by the DM as an NPC just long enough to drop in some clues.

As everyone had business to attend to, the party split up, planning to meet later for a meal and to decide the next course of action.

After asking about to locate someone that might be able to help identifying two potions they uncovered among the bandit's goods, Rowena, Elanna, Pedro and Seamus went to the keep. Rowena and Elanna met with the Baron's trusted wizard Pelltar while Pedro and Seamus attempted to meet with Baron Restenford.

Pelltar seemed distant, somewhat hazey of thought and rather off-putting.What he asked as compensation to identify the two potions was too costly for the cash starved group and the meeting ended fruitlessly.

The Baron was unavailable, however his guardsman Relkin stood in for him and after a bit of explaining and showing off the ears and short swords taken from the Orcs, Relkin paid a bounty of 28 silver pieces. He also directed them to visit Alton, the town armorer who would buy the short swords. This netted them almost another 30 gold.

To the right is a portrait of Baroness Fairwind that hangs in the Outer Hall where Pedro and Seamus waited to meet with Relkin.

Later the party met up at the Inn of the Dying Minotaur for a light dinner, spending as little as they could for such a large group. This did not go unnoticed and made negotiating for rooms a little tougher.

The owner Gellcuff, the owner is a middleaged man prone to bragadoccio and enjoys trying to impress people with the story of how he slew the minotaur whose head hangs above the bar by "taking from him his ax and cutting his head off!"

He also fancies himself a ladies man and isn't above trying to convince women warriors that perhaps he could teach them something, as Meira found out while negotiating for rooms for the night.

The cost of lodging settled, the party set to making plans.  Pedro indicated that he needed at some point to make his way to Loreltarma on church business, though the time was not yet pressing.

There were still two potions to identify as well as more gear to sell and 4 gems to have appraised. The two arcane spells on the scroll Levitate, and Luck Runs Dry (courtesy of the Ancient Vaults blog) would be held until someone became proficient enough in the magical arts to cast them at which point they would be copied into a spellbook or sold if no longer desired.

Aiden indicated that Olhatta, a jewler and money changer, in the town of Lake Farmin would be the best bet for handling the gems. Thorgrim also confirmed that they would get better prices for the remaining armor and weapons from the orcs there as well.

So it was decided, in the morning they would make the journey to Lake Farmin and from there try to find more bandits.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Vornheim Gets Boned - cue bad porn music

The Ennie Awards are coming up at GenCon in early August and the nominations have been posted at EN World. This is something that has been going on yearly now for some time. It is a good thing since it is fan based and not an industry blown horn, however this year I can say I honestly feel a bit confused by where one producted ended up in the nominations, and I'm not alone in that thinking.

Jeff Rient's mentioned this on his blog earlier today and I feel it is only right to point and say . . .

It's okay Jeff, you aren't the only person of the opinion that Vornheim should have had better than an Honorable mention in the Ennie's category it was participating in.

Best Aid/Accessory
Each of the products has its value and fanbase, but let's face it, Vornheim has a greater re-usability value for any fantasy setting than the Gaming Paper Adventure Maps. In fact if you consider that it isn't shoe-horned into a single system or only a few systems and/or editions, it beats every entry on the list.

For those that don't know, Vornheim is the brain-child of Zak S. of the blog Playing D&D With Porn Stars (warning: occasional adult content because yes, he and his players are in the adult entertainment industry).

Having seen some of Zak's creative genius on his blog and having read a number of positive reviews, I bought a copy of the book and I'm glad I did. It is a work of art, brilliant in how useful it is.

Ok, so it looks a bit odd and might be confusing if you don't take the time to read how to use it while trying to do so, but once you do you will GET IT. With grokking this book comes the understanding of how incredibly useful and nearly indispensible it will become as part of your DMing arsenal.

Don't get me wrong, a tip of the hat goes to everyone nominated in the category because they are good products, just nowhere near as innovative as Vornheim.

Fight On! Magazine - Dice Tables contest.

Fight On! Magazine and Magician's Manse blog put together a contest that wrapped up at the end of May.

The judges are now going over what turned into a pile of entries reported to be 107 tables big, including one nearly 2 dozen pages in size. I cannot imagine what kind of random table that is other than perhaps an encounter table.

I am very much looking forward to seeing the book that will be made from these tables, and I am also interested in seeing what the judges finally decide are the winning entries.

Anyone out there have any updates on how this is progressing?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Random Table Thursday

Pulled from a well in the bucket.
Roll a d10
1 - a piece of unrefined ore (d6: 1 - gold, 2 - silver, 3 - copper, 4 - iron, 5 - tin, 6 - other)

2 - shoe (d6: 1 - human adult, 2 - human child, 3 - demi-human adult, 4 - demi-human child, 5 - humanoid, 6 - giant)

3 - eating utensil

4 - scroll tube, sealed with wax (DM should determine if the contents are useful)

5 - dead bird

6 - coin (d6: 1 - gold, 2 - silver, 3 - copper, 4 - electrum, 5 - platinum, 6 - other)

7 - piece of jewelry (d4: 1 - necklace, 2 - ring, 3 - earing, 4 - bracelet)

8 - wig

9 - key

10 - random encounter with a small creature (DM should create own sub-table)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Google Minus?

Just what is going on with Google +?

According the latest information, Google will be rebranding Blogger and Picassa as Google Blogs and Google Pictures (or something) and folding them under the upcoming Google + social networking system.

The troublesome part of this is that on or after July 31st they will be deleting private profiles and any profiles that exist will be forced to be public. This is where things get confusing. According to the article in Huffington Post "Google+ profiles will not be allowed to remain private, with users required to make at least their full name and gender public in order to use the site."

Can that be correct?

Is google going to force "out" annonymous bloggers who want to avoid having their co-workers, and potential employers know the details of their life, or want to avoid those same people from knowing about their hobby in case closed minds might have a negative impact on employment prospects?

That second category may hit too close to home for some gamers. Think back to the 1980's and all of the controversies invented by some wackos claiming the Dungeons & Dragons game was satanic or otherwise harmful. There are still people out there that think that way, and far more that look down on those that enjoy the role-playing hobby for other unfounded reasons.

From a personal standpoint I would be fine with people knowing I gamed if attitudes in this country were more mature. It would be nice if people could understand that, gaming, like model railroading, fishing, gardening, and going to football games are all just hobbies.

Having searched a number of articles, none, not even the statement on Google's own site, clarify just what this really means to Blogger users. Another of Google's pages seems to indicate that the deletion of the private profile will not delete the account.

There are a large number of Old School blogs hosted on Blogger. There's a good bet, that like me, some of them will find this of concern.

The other information out there about how Google + will function sounds confusing on other issues. Some articles indicate that restricing your information so that only your "circle" of friends can see your profile will not prevent people searching for you from finding you and thus what you publish, exposing it that way.

This bears watching and as more information comes to light I hope to make it available here. Anyone that has clearer information is asked to email me the link or links. You will be credited (by your alias if you choose) with the find. And if someone official from Google is willing to clear this matter up, please let us all know.

My fingers are crossed that I won't have to go through the hassle of moving the blog.

Stay tuned . . .

I also play.

I have the privilege to be part of a weekly campaign with the fine folks of Faster Monkey Games, publishers of a number of excellent Old-School products.

The campaign takes place in their campaign setting of Lesserton & Mor.
The game is an absolute blast and well run, and the people involved in the game are great fun to be around.

My character, Isden (a thief) has recently attained third level.

Sometime soon you can expect to see some recounting of play posted here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Temple Treasures

According to this article on CNN, the grand treasures kept in temples are not just from myths and legends, or stories like Conan, but are sometimes the real deal. This one seems to potentially be valued in the billions of dollars, including coins, gems, and jewelry.

The video with the article is useless. It just shows a bunch of policemen gathered or walking around. No pictures of the treasure is shown.

"Crom! I can take these puny guards. Get to the treasure!"

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle - Session #1

The characters found themselves standing on the docks of Restenford with only a small amount of their personal property and a writ from the Ten Islands Trading Syndicate worth 100 gold if presented to the right persons. The rest of their equipment was on board the Harlot's Due, missing at sea since the storm separated the 4 ship convoy.

After some discussion and asking for information from some of the local fishermen, they decided to visit the abbey of Phaulkon, god of the seas and good weather, where Pedro a priest and devotee of the deity would try to exchange the writ for gold.

Meanwhile Fred Stone, Tok, and Seamus made their way to a dockside bar named Falco's Tavern to gather information about local places to buy new equipment and to find lodging for the night.

Out on the dock, two hapless laborers were being harrangued by a smiling dwarf as they struggled with unloading goods from a boat. Pausing, he introduced himself as Gap and suggested they go inside and talk to his brother Falco who would be behind the bar. He also quietly told Fred that Falco would serve him a special free drink, being a fellow dwarf.

Meira, Rowena, Elanna, and Samson decided their time would best be spent exploring the town.

At the abbey Pedro met with Almon the Curate who explained that Qualton the Abbot was away on church business.

After the writ was exchanged they passed some time discussing Pedro's mission and local matters affecting the church. Almon explained that the Baron did not look favorably on the church after a prolonged series of events during which he felt the priesthood failed to aid the town in a sufficient manner. He also warned Pedro to beware bandits that have been troubling travelers to and from Restenford.

At Falco's, Seamus watched with amusement and Tok engaged in some wagering with some of the patrons as Fred tried to chug beer from a large stone flagon the size of his head, and ended up drenched in a potent beer reserved for dwarven customers. Falco, sufficiently amused, quietly offered Fred "room and board for a mere 4 silver", while his "usual price to non-dwarves is 11 silver and still the cheapest in town", although he has few rooms available. Fred also inquired with Falco if he knew anything about an ancient dwarven stronghold named Crackhelm*. This seemed to amuse Falco, but gained no useful information.

Meeting back up, the party went on a shopping spree to get some gear. Left with very little money, they decided it might not be a bad idea to try to find the bandits, defeat them, and gain some loot with which to support themselves.

Off they went looking for the bridge the Curate had indicated as the main ambush site where the bandits seemed to operate. This proved to be their lucky day and their plan to walk into the ambush and win went better than expected with all 7 Orc bandits dead and not a single injury among the party.

A well placed sleep spell, combined with good rolls for the party and bad rolls for the bandits made this a very quick and lopsided fight.

The party came away with no coins, however there were 4 gems, a scroll with two second level arcane spells, and plenty of equipment to either keep or sell.

The session ended with the party tossing the looted Orcs into the river, bundling up the weapons, armor, and other items, and heading back toward town.

* Crackhelm is something I am developing for possible publication.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Playing even when only two players show up.

Lost Baronies Session #5 is over and done with, and the time to begin preparing for #6 is approaching.

Due to some very odd scheduling issues this summer, there have only been two players (the same two each time) at the game for sessions 3, 4, and 5. The schedule is going to get wackier yet, though it should settle down when fall arrives.

With a party of 10 characters run by 6 (was 7, see an earlier post) players, many people would be inclined to play something else or cancel the session. In the past I would have done the same.

The differences for this campaign are that it is not heavily plot driven, being a sandbox style game, some of the players travel an hour or more to play, and I don't want to lose momentum and have the game die off as some past games have done.

When this happened for session #3 I was caught off guard, not having heard from anyone that they couldn't make it. Since then I have made a point of clarifying with everyone what their schedules are like for the foreseeable future.

The game is scheduled, and has been since before the start, to run regularly on the first and third Saturday of each month. Players can easily mark their calendars for it. Despite this, it has become routine now to send a reminder sometime during the latter part of the week before the day of play.

According to the players, unless things change, there should be 3 to 5 players for the next session since a new player is expected to join. We shall see.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle - House Rules

All games seem to start with and gain or lose house rules as they progress. These are the current house rules for the campaign, some sent at the start, others having been added during the first few sessions so far. More are sure to be added.

All characters begin play with maximum hit points for their class die and constitution bonus.

Thieves use a d6 to determine hit points instead of a d4.

Thieving skills - thieves may add 5% to the percentages on the chart if they have a dexterity of 16 or higher.

Clerics can use the weapon of their deity.

Turning undead can be tried once per encounter plus an additional number of times per day equal to wisdom bonus.

Clerics can either pray for spells in advance, or leave slots open and use a full turn to pray for them later (a turn is 10 minutes). If enough slots exist they can pray for some ahead of time and leave other slots open.

Characters reduced to zero hit points exactly are considered unconscious or incapacitated and can live if treated, bandaged, or healed. Characters reduced below zero can make a save vs death once combat ends to see if they are stable and can live. Characters in both cases that survive are treated as being at 1 hit point, modified by any healing performed.

Sheild using classes (some may recognise this as inspired by "Shields Shall Be Splintered", to be properly lauded in a future blog post):
Special Rule - when you take damage you can opt to say your shield absorbed the force of the blow or aided in your save against a damaging spell that allows an appropriate saving throw. The shield is considered damaged beyond repair. In the case of the saving throw it doesn't prevent all damage, instead acting as a successful save for half damage. Magical shields lose a plus of value instead of shattering outright. Eventually even a magical shield can be ruined. This rule does not help in the case of massive damage.

Magic Users:
No double dipping. To ensure more variety of spells in play, magic users may not memorize the same spell twice in their allotment. This should also inspire creation or purchase of scrolls, potions, or other magic items. (That's right, no loading up on multiples of sleep, fireball, etc.)

Identifying magic items (not potions). (this rule was created on the go during play and will be discussed in detail in a future blog post).
This is done by the use of a lengthy and dangerous ritual that all arcane casters know how to perform. The ritual takes 8 hours and leaves the caster so physically and mentally drained that immediately afterward another 8 hours of uninterrupted rest is required. If the required rest is not completed, a save vs paralysis is required with failure indicating collapse of the caster into a coma for 6d4 hours.
At the time of the ritual the caster must succeed on a save vs spells to know what the item can do. Failure gains no knowledge. A roll of natural 1 on the saving throw results in the caster immediately falling into a coma as above. The caster may only try to identify one item at a time.

Friday, July 1, 2011

This is how to do it right: withdrawing from a campaign the mature way.

Interrupting the planned flow of posts (was going to go over house rules).

Tomorrow will be session #5 of the Lost Baronies campaign. This afternoon I received an email from a player that is withdrawing from the game.

Because of how politely this was done, and how detailed the player's reasons are, I decided that it warranted a blog post.

No names or other details will be given, however this is the core of the email:

"I actually do not think I'll be playing in the campaign anymore . . . I do not like the game system . . . and I seem to have a different playing style than your usual group . . .I usually just want to fight stuff and solve mysteries . . . but they seem to want to role-play much more than I do. Thanks again for the invite and the hospitality!"

There was more to the email that wasn't focused on the campaign so it isn't relevant to this post.

That, OSR fans, is a mature and proper explanation of reasons for dropping out of the game. No beating around the bush, no trying to avoid hurting feelings, just complete honesty that really helps everyone understand what is happening.

I will miss the player being there and have indicated that the invitation remains in place should a change of mind happen.

And now back to our regularly scheduled mayhem . . .

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle - Background before play

Been a busy week-plus since starting the blog so without further delay here's a rundown of the background before start of the first session on May 7th.

This is what was emailed to all of the players:

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle
Character creation guidelines:
At the start of the campaign you will roll up two characters. Roll 3d6 in order for your stats.
If the average of the scores equals 11 or better keep the character. If the average is below 11, trash it and start again.

Once you determine the class appropriate for the stats as rolled you may reduce two stats by one point each to increase one prine requisite stat by one point. This is a one-time stat adjustment.

At the beginning of the campaign all characters begin with gold equal to twice their Charisma.

Wizards and Elves begin play with a spell book. Clerics begin with a holy symbol.

In addition, for the original group of characters there is a writ for funds in the name of the Ten Islands Trading Syndicate equal to 100 gold that the party will have available, upon arrival upon Lendore Isle, that can be cashed in with anyone willing to accept it. (This only applies to the starting group of characters. All others joining after May 7th 2011 follow the guidelines above thise one.)

The reason for such poverty is simple - need motivates. Also, for the original group . . .

When you set out on your journey to Lendore Isle to explore, survey, and take census of the island's remaining baronies, there were 4 ships in your convoy. The plan was to sail southeast of the island to hopefully avoid pirates reported operating to the north, and to make your way around to the city of Loreltarma on the northeast peninsula.

A freak storm split the convoy sending ships in all directions. The ship you were booked on has arrived off shore from a fishing town on the southeast peninsula of the island. The captain of the Sodden Wench has put all passengers off at Restenford because "with a breach the size of a sow's rump just above the waterline and another storm coming, I have no wish to sink, nor swim". The ship your supplies were booked on, Harlot's Due, is nowhere known at the present time.

Ten Islands Trading Syndicate is a "consortium of mercantile and other interests". You have been hired to explore the island reporting on what you find, especially regarding what baronies, cities, and towns you find, and to seek wealth, artifacts, and determine where new nobility might be able to lay claim. This is a strict confidence, not to be bandied about. Some on the island, and off, might take umbrage.

Word is that those who do well may be given choice appointments and even become enobled.

Note: individual characters may be given additional motivations at start of play.

Four players were able to make it to the May 7th starting session. Their 8 starting characters covered the races and classes completely. They were:

Samson a cleric, Tok a halfling, Seamus a thief, Pedro a cleric, Rowena a magic user, Elanna an elf, Fred Stone a dwarf, Meira a fighter.

Next post will go over house rules.