Monday, September 22, 2014

Game Props Part 5: Files & Photos

I've been working on a modern Esoterrorists game for when I meet up with the guys at Con on the Cob.  Some under the table gaming.  Last night when I was working on the adventure, I thought about how many more props you can use in a modern setting. 

First off, since my adventure is more of procedural there will be several folks to speak with and places to investigate.  One of the first things I needed to do was after figuring out the adventure was to develop a file.  It's easy enough to grab forms off the internet to give it a real feel.  And the organization that the players are working for doesn't like computers so I'm mixing a little 70's tech into it also.  Like the files are written on old paper, with a typewriter.  I accomplished this by a couple of simple tricks.  For the typewriter, I found different type fonts.  Easy enough.  There are many different kinds.  Secondly the paper, I went to the art section and bought the cheapest sketch paper I could find.  It has a texture to it that makes it feel older. 

Within the file there are also photos of people and places.  Last year Staples was having a sale on photo paper.  Big and small.  When I sale, I mean free.  I bought a few boxes that are close to Polaroid size or at least the smaller sized pictures and then some full 8.5" by 11".  With these and a good printer I can make some great older photos and newer ones.  The visual of the photo is cool to have when your players crack open that file.  And they aren't just greeted by a wall of text.

To also help with the look, I scavenged a couple of old files from work.  Beat up 6-tabs beasts that are ready for the bin, but thought they would look great.  Markings and scribbles on them.  Different textures from where labels were placed on them and then ripped off.  If I were doing an game set back in the 80's or 70's I would probably go with the plain manilla folder.

A great example of a game file from Propnomicon.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Path Not Chosen - Patreon Adventure

The Path Not Chosen is my 12th micro-adventure I have completed for my Patreon campaign.  It is a very simple encounter with a twist.  The adventure is free to the public, but if you like what you see and want to join my patreon please do.  I'm only $2 short of my next goal.  Sometimes I send surprises in the mail to my patrons.

Here's what folks get, a PDF of the adventure.  Most of the time it is a single-page, but I do allow myself to blather on more sometimes.  A color, hand drawn map, as you can see above.  The map comes in two versions, one has details for the GM to run the adventure and the second map is blank so you can use it with your players for the adventure or you could use the map for something completely different.  Maybe you just needed a map with a trail winding through a forest.  Now you  have one.

I design these adventures to be played within a few minutes of the GM first putting his or her eyes on them.  The adventure above is design for a party who is going someplace and the GM wants to throw a little something at them between here and there.  It takes no time just to throw a micro-adventure in.

Please head over to my Gothridge Patreon page and download some adventures.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Con on the Cob All Set

They didn't kick me out last year so I'm going back to Con on the Cob.  In fact, I'm going there for all four days.  From Thursday the 16th thru Sunday the 19th.  I really enjoyed myself last year.  This year the Monday night group is going to be there in force.  +Rob Conley will be there, he's going to run three games.  +Daniel McEntee will be there probably playing a short character who runs ahead of the party.  +Chris C. is hoping that I don't get sick again.  It wasn't a pretty picture.  By Saturday night I could have played a zombie and not needed any make-up.  And +Ken H is making the long trip.  He felt left out lest year and admitted he had a good man cry when we were all at the con.

Here's my schedule for the con.  I've got a loose schedule.  I wanted to leave time to eat, sleep and bullshit.  I also image we may just sit around the table and play a pick-up game.  It's going to be great to sit down with the guys and play around a table.

1:30 to 5:00 Expedition into Dwimmermount  
8:00 to 12:00 Death in Dust

That's right, Dwimmermount.  I'm on a quest to find 2000cp and big fucking rats.  And I am really psyched to play Death in Dust, its a Crypt world adventure.  Never had the chance to play it.

10:00 to 2:00 Blooddrinking Box

Keeping Friday schedule slim.  I considered doing a second game (another DCC adventure), but that means I'd be at the table from 10am to 6pm.  That's too much like a job.  Plus Chris will be arriving that night and we'll need plenty of BS time.  Especially with Chris and Ken.  Those guys can talk.  I can hardly get a word in. 

12:00 to 4:00 Tower Out of Time
7:00 to 11:00 Outpost in the Orclands

Another DCC adventure along with a 5e D&D adventure run by Mr. Conley.  Should be very cool.  DCC has a good representation at the con.  I think both the ones I signed up for are run by +Roy Snyder.  The lat time I played DCC was during the playtest.  And I promise +Jen Brinkman that I will not be careful when I play.  As I said, I will turn it up to 11.

Shadowrun: Welcome to the 6th World

I'm not sure if I'll be gamed out by Sunday, but I thought I would schedule one thing just in case I felt like sticking around for just one more.

I'm planning on taking Ivy's new tablet with me so I can take picture and blog from the con.  That is if I can pry it from her hands and sneak out while she's still sleeping.  I may have to slip some booze into her coffee.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Game Props Part 4: Fantasy Billboards

I've posted about my fantasy billboards I've used in the past.  Here's a post from 2009 and revisited the subject again in 2013.  Well I am doing it again.  This was probably one of my better ideas (although there wasn't a huge selection to chose from) to develop a community billboard the players could use.

We played at my house at the time and I had a section of the wall covered in notices, ads, announcements and sometimes threats.  The players would come in before the game and read through the billboard.  It gave them a focal point right away.  It engaged them into game without even starting.  It was a lot of fun and players really enjoyed it. 

I've google ganked from my own blog to show you some examples of what I used in the past.

First off we have an ad for siege weapons (misspelled, I wish I could say I meant to do that, but...) there were several merchants who would advertise their ware or skills here.

If you look down three pictures (the one with 3 small ads in it) you'll read a lady is asking for people to help find her husband.  None of the players bit on the adventure hook.  A few weeks later this note appeared.  It was interesting to see their reaction.  Just because they did not interact with the event did not mean things stood static. 

A weird ditty that might get the adventurers interested, but there is no information on where or who put this up.  However, if the players did show interested they would have had to camp the billboard to see who wrote it.

A simple announcement.  It blended in with the other announcements.  But it was an important plot point during that game session.

A mercenary band looking for work, then the initial note of Linda who wanted someone to help find her husband, but no one came and lastly, a note from a fanatic.  Fanatics posted often. Just like on Google+.

Janon was my rogue reporter.  He posted one-page commentaries of what was going on in City-State.  There would be a new Janon piece every week.  It was a ton of fun creating a fantasy TMZ.

Simple list of wanted people.  Once in a while I might mention a name that they would see on the billboard and they would all scramble to see if it was up there.  Sometimes they forgot that more than one person can have the same name.  It happens.  

There is some work upfront developing a billboard, but after the initial set up you can add a few pieces here and there to keep it fresh.  Just run with any idea you have.  Be weird as you want.  You can lace them with plot hooks, clues and develop storylines.  The effort I put into mine paid off huge and I know a few of the players still yap about it and it's been over 10 years.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Game Props Part 3: Coins

Nearly every fantasy game uses a gold, silver, copper monetary system.  And we talk about them some more.  I only did this once, but it seemed to have a significant effect on the players and that was to throw a money pouch onto the table as the offered reward.  It's one thing to say, "And if you do this heroic thing the lord will pay you 250sp as a reward."


But!  Try this.  Find an old Crown Royal bag (you know you have one somewhere) or a regular old dice bag, fill it with pennies (more on this later) and "If you do this heroic thing the lord will pay you..." then drop the bag of coins on the table.  There will be a visceral reaction.  There is something about the sound of metal coins thudding, followed by the clicking and sliding of metal on metal.  Now the players are no longer dealing with an abstract.  They have the coins sitting in front of them.

I know there are many coin props out there.  I just don't like plastic.  While it might have the look, it's the sound and weight that sells it.  There also metal coins available out there.  But for me, I haven't found any I like and they are a bit pricey.  Many of them look great, but they often have weird denominations on them and that doesn't work in my game.  I don't want a 5 scrawled on a silver coin.  A silver coin is just that, a silver coin.

A more affordable option is raid your coin jar for its pennies.  Get some silver and gold spray paint and go to town.  Copper, well since they're pennies...   If you want to get really fancy smancy you can take a hammer to them and squish them a bit.  Make their shape a little wonky.  Doing this gives you an inexpensive way to bring a cool prop to the table.

As I mentioned before, using dice bags are cool as money purses.  Or if you have someone at home that can craft some homemade ones even better.

While I have only used the coins during one adventure, it was very cool to see the players react to the actually coins being presented to them.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Game Props Part 2: Maps and Scroll Cases

I think maps were the first props given out in the TSR modules.  Some sort of players map you could copy and give to them.  Always a copy because 1) you don't want to defile your adventure module 2) the players grubby Cheeto stained hands and dexteritys of 4 would spill pop all over your map. 

Getting that map was very cool.  I don't remember what adventure module it was, but getting that map broke through a wall.  We had an artifact from the game we were playing.  Sure Monopoly had its fake money, but that wasn't a game of the imagination.  D&D, having that first map handed to you made the game that more interesting.

So of course what soon followed were homemade map handouts.  I think most of you grognards out there can back me up on this one.  To age the map we would take a lighter and burn the edges.  Never mind that it might be drawn on notebook or graph paper.  It was important to get that cool aged edge.

a properly google ganked image of the lighter edge technique

What happened more often than not you'd burn the entire map because you couldn't get the fire out.  Or you would burn off a section of the map that you wanted to keep.  Making aged maps was not for sissies . 

Another technique people use was using tea to age the paper.  I don't know about you, but I didn't have any tea in my home.  I had Coke.  Coke doesn't work.  1) it made everything sticky.  I hate being sticky.  2) the carbonation ate away paper fibers if you used the wrong kind of paper or 3) it devoured the ink off the page so it was an indecipherable mess.

use tea, as you can see there is no disintegration and it won't be sticky, very important
 If you wanted to get really fancy smacy and you'd almost be dabbling in arts and crafts at this point was making a map/scroll case.  I used a use paper towel thingy.  I colored it with paint, do some sort of half ass design and wa la.  Problem was I was never smart enough to figure out how to cap the ends.  So I would roll my freshly singed map inside and hope it didn't fall out.

This concludes Part 2 of my Gaming Props series.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I Got Zombie Signs!

I went to the Halloween store with the wife.  She pushed buttons and then ran away in case the display jumped at her.  Displays were very cool and expensive.  Near the back I found these two zombie signs.  Metal signs.  I've been digging the tins lately and I think these will look nicely on my wall.  We met a couple inside the store and they asked where we got them.  I told them where they were, but that we had gotten the last one of the Zombie Research Facility.  The girl said "That's the one I want." 

Not today woman.  It's my zombie sign.

Game Props Part 1: Tarot Cards

I decided to do a short series on gaming props I've used in my face-to-face games.  Just some simple props that add to the atmosphere of the game.  To kick things off I'm starting with tarot cards.  I dug through my chest of cards and I see I have seven different decks.  I'm not a tarot card reader, but back when I was much younger and had hair, I collected them because they were cool.

The first time I used tarot cards in game it was to simulate a Deck of Many Things.  In the beginning this went over well.  Having the physical prop was too much for them not to dabble.  In the 1st Edition DMG there is a guide to using a regular deck of cards.  I used the Rider Tarot deck at the time.  And I assigned cards as close as I could to the cards identified in the Deck of Many Things.  Today you could use WotC DoMT generator or buy an actual Deck of Many Things.

While I was looking at all the cards I put off to the side I would see their design and think of different boons or punishments.  I wrote a post years ago called Deck of Many Things and Then Some, it provides an excellent example of what I ended up doing.  I made a Deck of Many More Things.  Here's an example.

Hazardous Journey
Tarot Card: 6 of Swords
Playing Card:  6 of Spades

Upon the players next journey any random encounters during the journey will not be random.  The encounter will occur and GM selects the most difficult creature/situation available on the list.  The creature will focus its attack on the character who drew the card.

Note: The GM will have to decide how many encounters the player will need to endure.  To activate this card the character should be going someplace that will at least take one day to travel.  

With the advancements with virtual table tops these days you could to something like this virtually.  Although there is not replacement for the tactile experience.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Question: Who Haven't You Rolled Dice With But Would Like To

There are a ton of good folks out there in the blogosphere.  My Friday question is who of the bloggers out there, ones you haven't played with yet, would you most like to sit down with and game.  Your group is 4 to 6 players and name who would be the GM.  I'm not talking about celebrities or historical figures, just folks you know from blogs or being on-line. 

Here is the list of guys I've played with on-line.  All the ones I can remember at least.
+Rob Conley
+Chris C.
+Ken H
+Daniel McEntee
+Rhandom A
+Joshua Macy
+Erik Tenkar
+Douglas Cole
+Peter V. Dell'Orto
+Zzarchov Kowolski
+Shoe Skogen
+Michael Garcia
+Jason Sholtis
+Al Krombach
+John Larrey
+Dan C.
+dylan hartwell 
+trey causey
+Patrick Wetmore
+B. Portly
+Olman Feelyus 
+Gus L 
+Joe D

So all those guys would  be eliminated from this question.  Many of the people I think of are ones I've known for a long time and haven't had the pleasure to roll dice.  So here's my group.

+matt jackson
+Tim Knight
+Boric Glanduum
+Dyson Logos
 +Simon Forster

I'm going to go with Christian being the GM.  We'd play at his house because he always makes incredible food for his players.

There are another hundred or more I could have added, but this is only for your top 4 to 6 at this time.

So who would you choose?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tavern Rumor People

There are often rumor table to be found in adventures.  Here's a short, random list of the Tavern Rumor People that can spill the information.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Get Your 4 Issue Subscription to The Manor

Where's it going?

Kidnapping Package for 5E

Actually its a package that goes way back and edition friendly.

Last night we were playing 5E and plotting to capture a mage who killed one of our party members and had been doing evil things in general.  Our current party is actually made up of moral and good guys.  It's been a while since I think we have had a good group.  We tend to play morally ambiguous characters.  No pressure to be proper.

Rewind, we were sitting at the tavern discussing a plan to capture the mage.  The night before I decided to buy a couple of things, a couple would be a Criminal background specialty.   My guy, Sidwin the Sharp says "Don't judge me guys, but..." he pulls out a hood with a leather strap to secure it around someone's neck.  A leather gag strap that included a object that fit into the mouth to keep someone from talking/screaming/spitting and it was also equipped with a buckle to secure it to someone's head.  One size fits all.  And lastly a good pair of shackles. 

Total cost: 25gp

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Evidence Before the Court is Incontrovertible

So today I bring you evidence of an awesome mail day.  While the post box looked normal, dull gray as always, inside it contained treasures.

We have four items standing judgement.  All wrapped in inconspicuous packages awaiting the reveal.

Exhibit A: A postcard map from +Simon Forster.  Simon is obviously guilty of producing cool maps.  The man cannot help himself, but the severity of his punishment will not be diminished.

Exhibit B:  An off-white greeting envelope. 

Inside is the 3rd issue of Crawling Under a Broken Moon by +Reid San Filippo.  As one witness stated, "Reid is a guilty bastard."  Without a doubt he is guilty of producing a fantastic zine.

Exhibit C:  A simple looking envelope with surprising heft. 

Hmm, still more secrets.  Cardboard protected.

Wrapped in paper.

Ah, it is obvious guilt.  A steal off of eBay for the Thief's Handbook.  In this case, I to am guilty of this one.

Exhibit D: A bound cardboard box. 

Some try to conceal their guilt by wrapping it in plastic and soft, squishy sheets.

This is the most damning evidence I've seen in quite some time.  +John Stater's Monster Tome for his Blood & Treasure game and +Courtney Campbell's Hack & Slash Compendium.

After looking at all the evidence it is clear this mail call is guilty of being awesome. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Zine Fatigue & Subscriptions

I released my 7th issue of The Manor a couple of weeks ago and the fatigue hit me over this past weekend.  It's an odd thing, but not uncommon.  I go to my day job, work there anywhere from 40 to 50+ hours a week.  At night, I work on gaming stuff about 10 to 15 hours a week and add an additional 10 hours average over the weekend.  That number gets higher at release time.

With the release over there is this weird lull in production.   Usually I have three things going at once so if I get stifled on one project I can work on another to keep me going.  But I noticed a couple of weeks after a product release I just need to take a step back and take a breath.  Hell, I didn't even go to my Monday Night gaming session this week. 

Like I said, this is not uncommon.  But I still find it strange to need a break from gaming.  With that said I have one piece done for the next Manor, a micro-adventure nearly done (and an idea for a series of them) and a project that needed completing a while ago.  In addition, I've been messing around with modern, supernatural themed type adventures. 

A Random Topic Change
Another subject I wanted to bring up was subscriptions.  I just fulfilled my first subscription.  It was a six issue run and at times I wondered if I would ever get there.  But I was talking with a fellow ziner, +Daniel Sell who produces the wonderfully creepy Undercroft zine, and we were discussing subscriptions.  And it got me to thinking of doing another round of them.

I wanted to just get an idea if there would be much interest.  Here's how I would handle it this time around.
  • Like last time I would open subscriptions for a window of time.  I don't want to have to manage staggered subscriptions.  So if I opened it up again the subs would all start with issue #8.
  • This time around I would do a 4 issue subscription.  Seems less daunting and I have a better chance of completing them before the post office increases their rates.
  • I haven't worked out pricing.  I'm thinking $16 for 4 issues for US folks and then on up for Canadian and other worldly orders.
 If you would be interested in a subscription let me know.  I'll work on it this weekend.  I've put up a poll to the right.