Thursday, July 31, 2014

Investigative Adventures

I've been reading a bit about adventure structure in various books.  While I can whip out a fantasy d20 adventure with very little pain, I'm working on a different type of adventure.  It's an investigative adventure.  In most fantasy adventures the main action is combat.  In this type of adventure it will be information gathering.

I've been reading Exoterrorists, GURPS Mystery and I have a few shows I plan to watch just to get a visual structure. 

Forwhateverreason, this is what has my off time attention.  If any of you have a interesting read on that kind of subject please let me know.

On another front: I released my 8th micro-adventure.  I'm creating something fun for my Patreon supporters. 

And the 7th Manor is done except for the introduction   Then off to my excellent ediitors.

I did that on purpose.  Really.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

MA #8 Temple of Selig is Open for Business

The 8th micro-adventure Temple of Selig is posted at my Patreon page.  Go grab a copy.  It is a part of the micro-sandbox, Misanthrope Islands or is can be used alone.  I've added a player's map so if a GM wants to use it on-line they don;t have to worry about numbers or critters popping up.  I think its a cool, but very dangerous adventure.  It also has a few cool magic items.  I hope you enjoy it.

D&D Next, My First Session

Last night Rob Conley ran a 5e session.  It's the first time we played the system since its 'release'.  We played two or three sessions in various stages of the playtest.

We used Roll20 and Google Hangouts.  They had 5e character sheets for Roll20.  There were very cool, some of the buttons didn't work, but over all it helped.  The only problem I had was the sheet covered the map.  So I had to keep closing/shrinking then reopen it.  It would be great if Roll20 could get to where we could use two screens.

The game itself, was a lot of fun.  I'm really liking the new D&D.  I am making my peace with the short/long rest and second wind mechanics.  While not a fan of it I can work with it.  I'm just having fun with it and working it into my strategies when I play.

I like the skill system.  And I think the advantage and disadvantage are good game mechanics.  Simple and effective. 

Last night we were ambushed by four goblins.  The two mages were immediately taken out of the fight.  The next round our fighter barely made it.  My rogue got a minor wound.  We could have easily been TPKed within two rounds.  By goblins!

One of the things that helped save our hides is using my Persuasion skill.  I convinced the goblins that more were coming and they should run.  That stunned them long enough for our fighter to second wind and then engage.  And I was able to get a couple arrows into goblin flesh.

So the combat was dangerous, fun and there were enough options to make it interesting. 

So two thumbs up for me.  D&D 5e so far is a good thing.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mail Call! Again! This is Getting to be a Lot!

Kickstarter alert.  Completed. 

+Frog God Games, The Lost City of Barakus has arrived.  I went in for the hardback and one of the player's guides.  The delivery date for this was August 2014.  They got it in early.  Well done. 
There was an option to buy additional books from FGG for a reduced rate and I saw the Tome of Horrors 4 was listed and grabbed a copy.  Can someone have too many monster manuals?  I'm finding out. 

Game night tonight.  +Rob Conley is running a 5e game.  We are short a player or two.  If your interested and not a dickhead, we do Google Hangout, just chat and use Roll20.  We start at 6:30pm and play until 9:30pm, give or take a few cracked skulls.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rearranging my Gaming Shelves

With the influx of gaming goodness that has been coming in lately I have to rethink my shelves. This is something I always dread doing.  Because I always want to redo the shelves in a different way, but then I end up putting back together the way they were in the first place.
This is only a simulation of what the actually event would look like if I did not keep my gaming books organized.

Normally I keep my books separated by system.  AD&D here, GURPS over there, Swords & Wizardry can fit in there and Blood & Treasure will do well there.  Now that I have so many different systems that its become more difficult to do it this way.

Last time I rearranged my gaming shelf I tried a different way.  I went with core rule books on a shelf.  A shelf for all my monster manuals.  Another for adventure modules, a section for developing adventures and a miscellaneous section.  I need a section for box sets.  Zines, of course.  And binders for gaming stuff for campaigns.  That's a lot to ask of some shelves. 

Plus, I need space for all the paper supplies for zines and adventures.

No easy task.  I believe I'm returning to my system based organization.  I need to figure out the space and who will go where in the hierarchy of systems on my shelf.

And I hate to admit it, but it may be time to purge some of my gaming stuff that I don't use or never plan to use.  Gah!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Art for Manor #7

The 7th issue is only waiting for me to finish my introduction.  I plan to pin that down this weekend.  The art for #7 is coming from two guys I don't think I'd spoken to until very recently.  +Jim Magnusson did the creepy cover and a handful of interior art and +Jarrod Shaw swooped in and added two needed pieces to complete the issue.  Oh, and I can't forget +j garrison.  He's in this issue with an adventure and he drew the art to go with it.

Talking with these guys, who were excited and willing to help me make my zine better is a giant part of why I do this.  It was fun working with them and both did a fantastic job.  Here's a preview of some of their work that's inside the next issue of The Manor.

by Jim Magnusson

by J Garrison
by Jarrod Shaw
by Jarrod Shaw
by Jim Magnusson

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Making Gaming Stuff

I've been messing around with developing an adventure using the Exoterrorists, GUMSHOE system.  Think X-Files if it had been on HBO (Maybe True Detective would fill the bill, but I've only seen one very good episode so I can't say).

So I thought I would make up fake, shadow government type documents.  The players would be working for Aegis.  I thought it fit the theme I was going for well.  But I could just have official government documents with Aegis on the header.  No, no, I have to come up with an official seal.

Don't Google official seal because I got a bunch of pictures of people killing baby seals.  Pisses me off just looking at it.  I want to hit those people with a big pole.  And there it is, I'm distracted from what I was doing.

As you can see, I made a seal up.  I was going to put more details in, but I'm happy with the outcome right now.  Plus my ability to fiddle with it will only make it worse.  Now I have a seal to put on the top of official government papers when I send them to my players.  See how I managed to avoid writing the adventure.  Not my first time.

Now go back to your porn.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Another Petty God is Born

And his name is +Jason Zavoda.  Zavoda does sound like good Petty God name.  Zavoda is the Petty God of Used Gaming Goods.  In my pantheon he would rate higher than a petty god, it is gaming after all.  Here's why Zavoda earned his deity status....

Jason asked if I wanted a couple of adventure modules that were in well-used.  I never turn down adventure modules.  I said sure.  I though maybe he'd send a couple in a manilla envelope.  Holy crap no he did not.  The package weighted about five pounds or more.

Now the amazing thing is not just the weight and the quantity that was inside, but the fantastic quality of what was inside.  Stuff I needed to fill in holes in my collection. 

There were a big batch of pirate ship cards.  Most of them were in individual plastic sleeves.  The ships look very cool. 

This is probably the most interesting bunch of the batch.  I've never heard of any of these or if I had that memory is long gone.  When I see stuff like this I go back in time to where we huddled in unair conditioned attic during the summer reading the latest gaming material we could get our hands on.  Then the inevitable debate about what this meant or what that meant.

I just started getting Lankmar stuff.   I've always been interested in it, but I've never had them.  I got the main book on eBay last week and then Jason sends me all this!  From the looks of it there are different versions of Lankmar.  I did not know this.

Role-Aids and Undermountain.  Like Lankmar above, I was also looking on eBay at these guys, just getting a feel for the prices and just pondering what was inside.  Undermountain looks crazy good.  Big maps!  Jason asked if all the maps were there...I have no idea.

 Stupid blogger flipping my pictures.  The next batch are a series of classic modules.  Some of these I have, but mine are also worn so its cool to have spare when the cover blows out or +Rob Conley spills pizza all over my booklet.  (Rob will proclaim his innocence, but he is guilty)

 Boom!  Classics!  I was raised on these adventures.  I don't have this version of Tomb of Horrors.  Very cool.

 The B series is one of those that I don't have many of.  I think I have 1 and 2 and  Zavoda used his powers and granted me two in the series I did not have.  I've been the B3 a couple of times when I had a full head of hair.  Long ago.

And lastly, a Ravenloft book I didn't have.  Again, Zavoda knows.  And a copy of the Free RPGDay DCC adventure from last year. 

As you can see I believe Zavoda has earned the right to stand in the pantheon of petty gods.

Gaming Staple: Cure Wounds Spells & a Rant About Rest & Recovery

As sleep is to mage, cure light wounds is to cleric.  A cleric in almost every system is the medic.  The guy who can help the party go further into the dungeon without having to leave to recuperate.  Here's the small break down of what Cure Light Wound does in other systems.
  • In standard AD&D it will cure 1d8 points of damage.
  • In Swords & Wizardry Complete it will cure 1d6 points of damage.
  • In Labyrinth Lord it will cure 1d6+1 points of damage or can be used to cure paralysis.  

In D&D Next they don't have a Cure Light Wounds spell rather a Cure Wounds spell that is scalable, therefore can be cast at a higher level when the mage has high spell slots available.  There is no need for extra names/spells such as Cure Serious Wounds, Cure Critical Wounds, or Cure Mildly Annoying Rashes.  They are all covered in a single spell. 

The standard healing of a 1st level Cure Wounds spell is 1d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier.  If the spell is cast with a higher level spell slot than the number of d8s rolled will reflect that.  Example, if Cure Wounds is cast using a 4th level slot, the player would receive 4d8 hit points healed +the spellcasting modifier.

I like the simplicity of it.  No need to remember all those spells.  This is an increase in healing ability over the other systems.    In D&D Next you get your next healing bump at 3rd level when a 2nd level spell slot opens up.  And 5th level to access a 3HD healing spell.
  • In standard AD&D your cleric needed to reach 7th level before getting the next level of healing spell.  And 9th level for a 3HD healing spell.
  • Swords & Wizardry Complete  is the same, you need to reach 7th level before getting a 2HD healing spell.  And there is no 2HD cure spell for LL.  
  • Labyrinth Lord is the same as S&W complete.
As you can see in D&D Next, the cleric has more ability to heal, faster and better.  This is why the whole spending hit dice during a short rest irks me.  And how a long rest recovers all lost hit points.  I am not a fan of this.  In this version you have access to more healing than any other version of the game.  And the need to add additional auto healing options just waters down the danger of the game. 

This is where the philosophy of your home-ruled game comes into play.  This mechanic demonstrates that the builders of the system are afraid to have character die in game (I'll get into the saving throw mechanic of death in another time).  To me, the fun of the game is the struggle of surviving a dangerous place, managing resources and hoping the next room has the treasure you're looking for.  A short rest allow a player to spend their hit dice like a healing spell.  So everyone in the party can recover from their wound by chilling out and grabbing a slice of pizza.  An ogre just slices half of you off.  No worries, I got a bag of Doritios and some Mountain Dew, I'll be fine. 

This is just my philosophy on the rule.  I don't like it.  I think with the clerics new options and increased healing ability this mechanic seems redundant and harmful to the overall sense of danger to the game. 

Oh, and do not get me started on that second wind crap.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gaming Staple: Sleep Spell Part 2

Last night was game night and I was talking with the uber goobs about the sleep.  I crunch some numbers. 

With 5th edition based on hit points.  It's current write up knocks out 5d8 hit points worth of enemies.  I'll use the goblin as the standard enemy.  I check the goblin stats in the Starter Set and they have 7hp.  So an average roll for the spell would be 22 to 23 hit points affected.  So in 5e a mage can put to sleep an average of 3 goblins. 

In older editions the standard sleep spell could take out 4d4 creature with 1 hit die or less.  Goblins average less than a hit die in older versions.  So the mage would average 10 goblins a Sleep spell. 

So the Sleep spell in 5e has been nerfed a bit.  I don't mind the change.  I always thought Sleep was overpowering to begin with.  I like the 5e version because its not overpowering at low levels and doesn't become completely useless at high levels.

JDJarvis brings up an interesting situation. 
What interests me in that notation is if the HP limits for spell effects are meant to be the targets usual healthy HP score or the current score. If the current score it opens a host of tactics that were otherwise completely absent, hitting a troll a couple times and casting sleep on it is now valid (but does it wake up when it regenerates above the HP limit of the spell?).

I think I would run with current hit points.  The party manages to whittle down a giant to 10 hit points and the mage hit it with a sleep, I say good on them.  Maybe the next giant will get to make meat soup.

How would you guys rule it?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Taking a Look at One of the Staples of D&D

One of the things I do is take a look at staples that are in every edition and played a lot.  In this case, I looked at the Sleep spell.

Most versions of the sleep spell effect Hit Dice of the creature.  There is usually some scale of the number of creatures effected.  This time around, 5th edition has taken the sleep spell and made it based on Hit Points. 

My first reaction was neutral.  I thought, okay, a little change up.  But still a bit of a token one.  But what I liked is the spell progressively gets more powerful with the mage.  In past editions it was the big bomb spell at lower levels and discarded soon after.  So the increase of hit points it effects as the character increases in level will make it a viable spell long term.

Since I'm on lunch break, I don't have any numbers.  I'll check back when I get home and do some calculations to compare version.

So this staple of the game, for me, has been improved.

Numbers later.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

MA #7 Gargoyle Lair and Something About Farts

Here's my latest creation, MA #7 Gargoyle Lair.  It goes with my first micro-sandbox Misanthrope Islands (you'll find the reference to it in the description of 3. Choracha Island),  but can be played on its own.  You can head to my Patreon page and download them.  I'm excited that I'm up to eighteen patrons and have nearly reached my third goal.  It's fun.  And it helps me pay for my addiction, gaming books.

The next adventure is also mention in the Misanthrope Islands, 7. Risco's Hideaway, Temple of Selig.  I've got the map done and ready to go.

One of the brain farts I had was I never gave the GM a player's map without numbers and little silhouettes.  Well I smelled the cheese, discover I dealt it and I am now remedying that oversight.  I'll add another bulk package, like I did before for the maps without background, for the past adventure maps without numbers. 

Pizza's done.  Sherlock is cued on Netflix.  Gotta go!

My 1st Character for D&D Next

Looks like Sidwin the Sharp is my first character for a new/old system.  I rolled 4d6 and wrote them from top to bottom, no changing them.  I used four precision dice from Dice God, Zocchi.  He smiled upon when I rolled. 

Usually I can tell if I am going to like a system when I create characters.  I enjoyed making Sidwin.  It is easy and yet has simple and effective options.  Gone are the video game mechanics of 4th edition that turned me off.  This system seems to have grabbed the best from the different editions and a few brilliant ideas from OSR systems. 

There will people who will crap all over it because it's WotC and Hasboro, but I'm judging on its playability.  I've had the chance to playtest it in the early stages and in the last stages.  So I'm looking forward to playing the final version. 

I've been reading through the Starter Set books and while I wish there was more in them to begin with I still think there is enough to get things going.  An inexpensive way to see if the game is for you.  And cool blue dice.  Dice are always a good thing.  And with the offering of the free PDF, I printed it out, 3-hole punched it and bound it together with bread ties.  I thought about getting fancy, but went old school, Wonder Bread style.

It fits into the box.  I've been going through it, but haven't sat down and read it from front to back.  I like making up characters and learning it that way.  Then read it.  I still need to wrap my head around the spell casting.  I think I've got it.  Almost. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mail Call: My PO Box is a Treasure Chest

I guess I've been in a acquisition mode.  +Ara Kooser was getting rid of some of his loot, so we set up an exchange, I sent him a bundle of Manors and he sent me...

Originally I just asked for Spirit of the Century.  +Ken H spoke highly of it and I've been enjoying non-medieval fantasy lately so I thought it would be a cool get.  Ara threw in the +Brave Halfling Publishing White Box.  It looks new.  I have one, but with box sets I almost prefer to have a spare.  Big thanks for Ara for his generosity.

The next score was on Amazon.  I've been really enjoying Exoterrorists.  That book has got my idea factory churning over time.  So I checked out a few books that went along with it.

The Factbook was something I was very interested in.  It sounded like a good resource to get a foundation built for an adventure or two.  I really want to take this for a spin.  Profane Miracle was priced cheap and thought it might be good to see how they build an adventure using the system.  The Book of Unremitting Horror is to run more of a horror type GUMSHOE game, but I plan on integrating into Exoterrorists.  

Lastly, I've been hearing about True Detective for many months now.  I think everything I read about it was positive and people were excited about it.  This time I just went to my local Wally World and picked up a copy of the blu-ray.  

I'm looking forward to watching this.  Sounds like my kind of show.  And actually sounds a lot like the game I want to run.  Although is it me or is McConaughey looking extra creepy lately?