Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Starter Adventures for Sale

Yesterday I received my copy of Starter Adventures from Lulu.  I was pleased with the way it turned out.  This is my first experience dealing with POD.  I tried RPGNow first, but found it difficult to navigate the print side of things.  Lulu was more user friendly.  Easier to get your book setup. 

This project took a long time.  Mainly due to me getting distracted by a different project or just plain laziness.  +Jason Sholtis and +John Larrey did all the the artwork you'll find inside.  They did an awesome job.  This was actually the first project Jason and John helped me with and these guys really went to town.  The cover was done by Jason.  He sorta tossed it at me and asked if I could use it for anything.  I looked at it and said, "That's my cover."  I love the twilight lighting, the orcs searching and the PC hoping whatever is in the bottle is going to help.

I had another OSR all-star assist me with this project, +Rob Conley did the maps.  I think I had him do six different types of trees for the one map.  I think he was ready to hit me with one of those trees.  His maps are always fantastic and pieces of art themselves.

Starter Adventures was thought up after a night of gaming with my wife.  I wrote it so folks could use it to introduce someone into the RPG hobby.  There are four adventures for each of the four main classes (cleric, fighter, magic-use and thief).  I wrote Starter Adventures to teach a person what die to use, some of lingo, that combat is not the only option, using magic items and so on.  Also inside is Red Bear Tavern.  Every adventuring group needs a place to hang out.  It's a pretty cool tavern if I do say so myself.  And the final entry is a full-fledged adventure to put those newbs to the test.

If you have any question, feel free to ask in the comments or email me. 

Lulu Print Link
Lulu PDF Link


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Review: Mischievous Monsters

If you don't know who Simon Forster is, you should.  He creates fantastic maps, adventures and he is an overall cool dude.  A few weeks ago, Lulu did one of their big coupon deals and I picked up a few books that included Mischievous Monsters.  I've been a big fan of Simon's from way back, but I couldn't remember him releasing this adventure.  I mentioned something to Simon about his lack of pimping this adventure and his reply was, "That Mischievous Monsters is old and nowhere near as good as it could be now, which is why I don't tend to promote it."

With that statement I should add to the list of Simon's qualities, he's full of shit.  I just finished reading Mischievous Monsters and this adventure is excellent.  I've read Simon's other adventures and I enjoy the way he constructs the scenarios and the simple mechanics he applies to add to the experience of the adventure.

Let's get some of the regular stuff out of the way.  It is a low-level adventure compatible with the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy RPG.  Which means, it adapts to any OSR system with a small bit of effort.  I bought the print version, paperback, digest-size, 28-pages long, and a left and right justified single-column.  Good sized font which makes for easy reading.  The cover is a default from Lulu with an inset picture.  There is no other art in the book.

Onward, to the adventure.  A simple premise, the party stays at The Dancing Donkey Inn with some other folks.  During the night, stuff gets stolen.  The layout is very nice, a roster of who is staying at the inn is given in a simple table form so referencing is easy.  Above, I mentioned simple mechanics that add to the experience of the adventure, here's what I am talking about.  During the night when the thieves are thieving, Simon provides a simple table of what happens, what turn it happens and the chance of the party waking while it's happening.  This simple mechanic at the beginning of the adventure can change the course of the adventure in many ways.  I dig this kind of thing.

Everyone in the morning is boo hooing that they lost their stuff and ask the party to get it back.  A great role-playing opportunity.  There are rewards to be had,  all simple, but useful.  This is a trait I enjoy about Simon's adventures, his adventures are understated.  Hyperbole is tossed in the bin. 

Another simple mechanic Simon has employed is a simple timeline.  Depending on how fast the adventurers react to the situation, things are moving in the background.  There is a countdown, this adds tension to the situation.  Because the players are unaware of these behind the scene activities, it will make certain 'happenings' unexplainable and mysterious. 

The meat of the adventure is when the party attempts to retrieve the stolen goods.  The things the party encounter and how the adventure unfolds are very cool.  I won't go into too much detail because you just need to get a copy yourself.  At the end, there is a great little magic item that has a history and makes sense.  It's not just a randomly rolled item cookie-cuttered in.

In the back of the adventure are three new monsters you'll run in the adventure.  Again, Simon makes this section very usable with a random table of treasure and items they might carry.

Lastly, the map.  I got to know Simon by his maps.  The map is fantastic!  He's got an overall map with three connected cutaway maps included and in one glance you can reference all four maps.  It works well with the adventure.

Overall, I think Mischievous Monsters is a great adventure and glad I added it to my collection.  This is one I can see running.

The paperback version of Mischievous Monsters can be gotten at Lulu for $10.78.  The PDF version is all yours for $2.36.  I would tell you to buy the PDF, but put it towards the print version.  It is a handy adventure to have in your arsenal when running a campaign or a one-shot for the evening.

Well done Simon.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Quick Thought on Adventure Description

I've been writing adventures for as long as I can remember.  A good mix of fun ones and shitty ones.  I can't remember who said it, but it went something like "You need to write through the crap to get to the good stuff".  If you ask some of my long time friends (yes, I have a couple of those) and they can vouch for my compulsive adventure writing.  I've got 100s of them.  All in various states of finish.  There is a lot of crap in there also, but a lot of it can be salvaged, but would need a huge rewrite.

One of the major considerations when writing an adventure is simply how much detail to include.  An age old question.  I tend to default to, when writing a room-to-room adventures, is to detail two things within the encounter area.  Any more than two tends to clutter the page.  If you have an orc standing sitting in the room and he's throwing a hand axe into a halfling corpse hung upside on the wall, you're probably good.  First detail is the orc.  The second is the corpse of the halfling.  There might be more in the room, but the initial viewing and reaction is going to based off the orc and what it's doing.  You could go into more detail, like some furniture or a chest, but I add those as a secondary description.

So the party comes in, nails the orc to the wall next the halfling, then the secondary description can come in.  Describing furniture is always thrilling (NOT!).  Give a few details.  There's a bedroll, sack and dagger on the floor.  Dagger is a dagger.  Bedroll is infested with tiny critters.  The sack has few silver pieces hidden under two dead rats.  Very simple.  And even that could be pared down to the sack.

If you keep your prose terse, GM can pick up the details quickly.  And the OSR has a herd of folks that are outstanding GMs.  Give them a small seed and they can grow a tree.  With these quick details they can create a scene that is memorable and unique.

Some adventures I am good at following this rule and other times I blow it out of the water.  I tend to write in a wide range from in-dept levels of description.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Buck A Manor Sale
Click to magically teleport to the sale. 

I'm running a $1 a Manor sale over at RPGNow.  If you've been wanting a copy now's a great time to grab one or all seven issues. 

Done and Not Done

With the final touches done on Stone Fields of Azoroth, I am in printing mode and trying to find a good box to ship them in.

In the meantime it looks like I have abandon the blog.  My brain can only work so many hours in the day.  It's pooped out right now.

Still, as I am printing the books, I'm thinking of other ideas and projects.  Some projects that have stopped and started over the years.  Time to start them again and get going on the next projects.  In fact I am uploading files for one of them right now.

Just ordered a proof copy.

The waiting begins.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Magic Items of Praxus

Putting the final touches on Stone Field of Azoroth.  I thought I'd share a few of the magic items I created for it.  I also created a new god, Praxus, God of Imprisonment, but that is for another time. 

Imprisonment Stone
Imprisonment Stones are created by the priests of Praxus.  The can come in various forms, but most are made from granite.  It is imbued with every magical spell known that immobilizes a creature.  It takes one month to complete one Imprisonment Stone.  This will bind a single creature of 10HD or below for as long as the stone is intact.  Great Imprisonment Stones take three months to construct and can bind a single 15HD creature or below.  There is rumor of more powerful Imprisonment Stones, but they are made with rare materials and would be considered an artifact level.
If an Imprisonment Stone is broken, the magic contained within will explode the stone showering those within a 50’ radius with stone shards doing 6d6 damage.  A Great Imprisonment Stone showers a 100’ radius, doing 12d6 damage.  A successful save will halve the damage.

Swords of Praxus
The Swords of Praxus is a pair of short swords.  They are imbued with +1 to hit and damage.  One a successful hit, the target will need to make a save or be held.  The victim is immobilized for 10 minutes.  Each sword can ‘hold’ one target at a time.  The wielder can chose to release someone who is held to target a new victim. 
Requirements to wield the Swords of Praxus are a strength of 15 or better.  These are heavy swords, weighing 35lbs a piece.  To keep the swords powers active, the wielder will need to make a blood sacrifice (4hp of his own) once a week.  Each time this is done, there is a 2% chance that Praxus will notice and send him on a quest (no save).  The GM should think of something horrible the character will have to accomplish to complete the quest.  At the end of the quest the character may receive a boon.  This may include a bump of 1 to any attribute, bonus experience or money. 

So far so good.  Finished up this last part.  Let it sit for a day.  Do a read through and some edits.  Start printing and mail them to Jarrod.  I'm probably making him very nervous pushing this to the final days.  Sorry Jarrod! 

Hoping you guys who got in on the Mythoard box enjoy my contribution.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Quick Glance at a Mythoard Exclusive

If you haven't heard, +Jarrod Shaw has created mythoard, a subscription based service where you will get a box of random RPG products.  December is his initial run and he's limited it to 100 boxes.  The last I heard, he only has 6 remaining.  I was excited when Jarrod asked me to be apart of the first box.  He asked for a random assortment of Manors.  I made the suggestion that I create something original for the mythoard box.  Here is the first peek at the cover for the Stone Fields of Azaroth.  The kick ass art is from +Oxide JCHart (Jeremy Hart) the man behind Omegapointillist Studio.

The Stone Fields of Azaroth is a mini-sandbox.  It is centered around the small Village of Bad Water.  I've detailed the entire village.  Bad Water may seem like a quiet, out of the way village, but there is a dark history that saturates the soil.  Along with Bad Water, there are three adventures that are waiting for the adventurers to discover.  These adventures can be run independently or run as series that ends in a....heh, I'm not telling you shit.

I'm printing Stone Fields of Azaroth in zine format using cardstock for the covers and maps.  The cover and maps will be in color.  I'll only release this with mythoard.  If you want to see this and all the other great stuff that's inside the box, head over to mythoard and grab one of the last boxes!  Do it quick! 

Okay, back to work.  This isn't going to write and edit itself. 

As of a 4:42pm Jarrod reports all 100 betas are ordered.  But do not fear if you missed this one.  You can cry, but don't fear.  In December he'll take orders for the month of January.   

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Flash Review of Our Boss Battle

Last night our Monday Night group took on the boss fight in Phandelver.  We were already whittled down from process of getting to them.  It didn't help that we didn't have our only true fighter during that time, but he was back for this.  So we started the session where we left off from last session, we were running away.

We fought characters with monikers such as Black Spider and Glass Staff.  Our group has a dripping hatred for Glass Staff.  Along with them were orcs, bandits and spiders.  Oh yeah, and a doppelganger.

While we fled, a few of our party members got trapped.  If not for some heroics by our torchbearer one of our members may have died.  Sidwin, my rogue, had one little hit point the entire session.  Our party fought back to free our other party members.  Webs were flying.  A small mistake by Rob who forgot Web was a concentration spell, but I thought it added more tension to the situation and no one else remembered the concentration thing until after the fight.  We killed off the bandits.  The spiders were more difficult.  And we found the secret to our success with defeat two mages with Shield, surprise them. 

With some bad tactics and a little luck we took down Black Spider.  However, Glass Staff remains alive.  We were too injured and depleted of resources to give chase.  So we retreated out of the mines to take a short rest.  To recharge enough to give Glass Staff his finally send off. 

Again, 5E battles have taken us to the edge each and everytime.  It seems that when a battle ends one of us says, "I can't believe we survived".  It's very true. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

It's the Cool Little Things

Yesterday +Thaumiel Nerub shared a cast of characters sheet he created based off my adventure, Where is Margesh Blackblood?  It's cool little things like this that make gaming a blast.  Especially with folks in the OSR.  I printed a copy on card stock and I'll keep it around for the next time I run the adventure. 

Here's a shot of the picture next to the printed source material.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

We Laughed Like Manly Men Who Wore Flannel

Last night the B-Team of +Douglas Cole, +Peter V. Dell'Orto+Joe D and some crazy Australian named Reece who fit right in.  Oh yeah, and +Erik Tenkar ran us through +Joseph Bloch's Castle of the Mad Archmage.  I think we bullshitted more than played.  Which was completely cool and much needed after a long week.  I can't say enough how good it is to sit around slinging some virtual dice, being completely inappropriate and laughing a lot.

This time out the B-Team found the stairs to the 4th level.  We quickly ran into a group of men training for the arena.  At first we weren't sure what to make of it, but their half-orc boss came out and made fun of Peter's manhood and they agreed to spar to first death.  Causing fighting to the second death gets confusing.  I wasn't all the way dead.  Just a little dead.  Yes you were.  No I wasn't. 

After a surprisingly inept performance by Peter, he yielded to the half-orc and lost his silver dagger.  We then got the scoop on the area.  There were a bunch of color coded teams that fought in the arena.  The half-orc said we could get on with the purple team because they sucked.  Nice to know.  So we went exploring and found the arena.  You may ask why is there an arena in the 4th layer of a mega-dungeon with guys wearing color coded shirts, I say why not.  As long as they can get the hot dogs and ketchup delivered to the concession stand, more power to them. 

Along our travel we met many doors that refused to budge.  We were profoundly lacking our ability to get doors open.  It was bad enough that we cheered when we succeeded opening a door.  A little sad.  Not one of the most stellar moments in B-Team history.

Then we came to an interesting door.  They pulled and nudged, picked and pocked at the door, but it would not yield.  I always have a Knock spell at the ready.  Like in the Elder Scroll games, nothing irritates me more than leaving an locked door or chest behind not knowing what was inside.  I cast Knock the door swung open and Minister avoided a curse that would have surely killed him.  It depended on the moral character of the party for the outcome, so with the B-Team's record I would have been dead in days.

We found the treasure room of the arena and decided it looked to cluttered and that they needed more space.  So we helped the arena clean it up.  It looks much cleaner now that it's empty.

We then staggered around some more.  We nearly encountered stuff that would have killed us, but we avoided them and into some skeletons we ran.  Hack.  Hack.  We redeaded them. 

After that we returned to the surface to count our loot and get our experience points. 

While not much happened in the adventure.  We has a blast.  Ivy said we were giggling like little girls.  I told her we laughed like manly men who wore lots of flannel. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pictures of What's on My Gaming Table and a Zen Moment

I was asked to give a picture or two so here it is.  There is the 1st ed DMG.  Heavily used and I put tape on the bottom of the pages I used the most to keep them from tearing.  The random table which I will show you more in a second.  The Treasure Hoard Generator on the screen.  I highly recommencement it.  I've been using it for years.  And lastly some dice.  Real dice. 

Here's my amazing random table.  Amazing is it not?  Surprisingly it helps me out a ton.  I roll a d12 and let the adventure muse guide me.  Then I roll a d4 to determine how many items/things are in the room. 

Empty doesn't mean empty unless it's empty.  

Zen baby!  Bring on the Zen Girls!

This has nothing to do with zen, but who fucking cares.

Stuff on My Gaming Table

For the last couple of days I've been working on thing for +Mythoard.  I was checking out the materials on my desk.  I would have taken a picture, but I forgot and now I'm at work.  The first thing I wanted to use was the 1st edition DMG.  To me, it is the mother of all gaming books.  If I need a random bit of information or spark of inspiration I know I can find it within those pages.  So the DMG is first and foremost.

The second most prominent thing on my desk is a small random table I made for adventure development.  It provides a very simple spark to get my creative juices going.  I'm not a huge fan of a third of the room will be empty.  While it may not have a creature running around inside you can have some details.  Even if its just a small detail that advances the story/theme of the dungeon.

On my computer on my right hand screen I have Chaotic Shiny's Treasure Horde Generator.  It provides a lot of details that I pick and chose from.  I love it.  It helps provide interesting properties to an item beyond the +1 this or that.  

Lastly, my dice.  I don't roll no stink'n electronic, computerize bulllllshit dice.  I roll the real plastic man.  I have d10, percentage dice, d12 and a d4.  They each have a specific purpose.  It's strange to how these things can create pretty much anything.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Exclusive Product for Mythoard

I'm not sure what the timeline was, but I believe it must have been two months ago when +Jarrod Shaw approached me about getting involved with a project.  At the time it didn't have a name.  Later it became known as Mythoard.  I've always loved the idea of Loot Crate, but never subscribed to it because I've got limited space and what little space I do have is reserved for gaming stuff.  And I don't need Mutant Ninja Turtle sunglasses.  Jarrod purposed a subscription based service where you get a box of random gaming stuff.  Hell yeah. 

It took me .043 seconds to agree to participate. 

Jarrod asked for copies of The Manor.  I agreed.  Later (which means last night), I thought about it and figured a good chunk of folks that are going to participate probably have a copy of some of my Manors.  While +Boric Glanduum can never have enough copies I didn't really want to have people opening the box and see something they already had, so I told Jarrod I wanted to do something new for Mythoard. An exclusive.

I'm working on an exclusive product that will only be available through Mythoard.  I'm not sure what the name will be yet.  I'm re-purposing some maps I used in my campaign world and rewriting much of the material.  Only the Monday night group has played in it.  I touched up the village map of Bad Water.  You can see the before and after pictures below.

Original map of Bad Water.
New version.
This new style of detailing my map came from a discussion with +Rob Conley, +Joshua Macy and +Chris C. when I asked them to critique another map of mine.  I enhanced the lettering and numbering with a white background beneath them to make it easier to read...I hope. 

Village of Bad Water will be fully detailed.  But that's all I'm going to tell you about it.  You'll have to get a subscription to Mythoard to know about the rest.  This is the first box and it is limited to 100 subscribers so get in on this on quick because they are going quickly.  Jarrod is doing a limited release within the USA to get the logistics tweaked.  I can't imagine all the juggling he would need to do for this.

I'm excited to be a part of the first box.  If you haven't, check out the Mythoard site, it's only $20 for the box and who knows what the heck you'll find inside.  I really have no idea myself.  And that's what makes it fun. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Editing Micro-Adventures

I just released my 15th micro-adventure, Chambers Island over on my Patreon page.  A little while back I asked my patrons if there was a particular theme they wanted to see.  One said a swamp adventure with Cthulhu influences.  Love that idea.  I originally mapped out an entire swamp area.  It was too big for a micro-adventure, but thought I would do a second micro-sandbox, but it became too long.  I got jammed up.  Had too many ideas I was trying to fit in. 

So I drew the swamp island above.  I had this visual of the players seeing the island from the distance.  A crumbling tower with out buildings in various states of collapsing.  Channeling a little Apocalypse Now with corpses and body parts hanging from the trees.  But as I started writing, it was obvious it wasn't going to fit.  Grrr. 

Some projects just beg for a larger canvas.  This one did.  I'm not sure if I did the adventure a disservice by forcing into my micro-adventure space.  I plan on returning to it again and flesh it out into a full-fledge swamp hex crawl.  Even as big and bad a Cthulhu is, he cannot survive the power of the edit.

Instead what I tried to develop was a mix of subtle and in your face references of The One Who Shall Not Be Named.  Like with most micro-adventures I hope to have a few ideas planted within that the GM can run with.

There is a lot of give and take.  While I have to sacrifice some of my ideas, I hope the brevity of the adventures makes it easier for a GM to pickup and play.  And that is after all the reason I started these.  I wanted to make the adventure accessible with minimal clutter.  Ideas are good, but they take space to explain.  I try to stick with one idea and give hints of things beyond not said.

Anyway, Chambers Island is free for anyone to download.  Just hit the link above.  You'll get the PDF of the adventure, a detailed GM map and a blank players map.