Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tales from the Game Tavern [Review]

Look at the beautiful orange and black cover.  The adventurers out with there jack-o-lantern candy containers.   A Halloween zine.  Two of my favorite things.  +Grand DM is the curator of The Game Tavern zine.

This review is based on the print version.  Tales from the Game Tavern is 28 pages, which is a bit meatier than the typical 24 pages.  The beautiful orange, cardstock wrap around cover.  There is a mix of artwork, some by the Grand GM himself and public domain images.  And the last two pages are dedicated to the OGL.  Now let's dive into the issue.

The introduction is one of my favorite parts of a zine.  A little glimpse of into the mind behind the zine.  This one is no different.  Grand GM professes his love for everything fall and Halloween and my favorite stat is he runs I6:Ravenloft and that Strahd record is 9-1.

There are seven articles within and the first on is titled Flesh Golem Redux.  An interesting take on flesh golems using the Gothic influence of Frankenstein.   A trio of female flesh golems, or the Monster's harem.  At the end of the article are a handful of helpful GM tips.

Haunted Armor is the next article, four pieces of armor that do more than protect.  I like the way this one is formatted.  A paragraph of flavor text, the appearance of the item and its enchantments.  The second paragraph is how to use it in game.  I like this feature.  Plus, the items are interesting and playable.  I am one of those GMs who likes to have magic items have drawbacks, these quartet fit that bill nicely. 

Tavern Ghost, a quick 1d4 table of, what else, Tavern Ghosts!  Add a little flavor into your tavern.  There are plenty of tavern name generators, tavern weird food or weird drink tables, but this is the first one for ghosts. 

Grody the Ghoul is a low level adventure.  This one is accompanied by a fantastic looking map.  Also a clever use of the map are two random tables Worm Chow and Gnarly Finds.  They do not disappoint.  I like the adventure, a straight forward affair that can be completed in a night.  What I like about it though is I can see it as part of the local folklore of a small village.  At the end of Grody the Ghoul is a nice hex map and suggestions on how to expand the adventure.   I like these GM tips and suggestions at the end of each article. 

Alien Abduction is a series of random tables to produce a horror abduction of the Halloween kind.  These table I see more useful in modern settings, but an interesting interaction between the four table can create crazy outcomes.

Now this one is my favorite article of the issue, Malignant Scourge.  It deals with disease, an underused thing in gaming I think.  And zombies!  I like the ideas and how it plays out I plan to steal it for my own game.  The spread of the Malignant Scourge is deadly and fun and add a few social elements and half-truths and it turns this article up to an 11. 

To finish out the issue is recipe for Game Tavern Goulash.  Taste is you dare. 

+Grand DM has put out a fantastic Halloween themed zine.  It is a lot of fun and there is a lot of good gamable stuff in the pages.  You can buy a print copy from his blog, Ultanya.  It is $5 US, $6 Canada and $8 for the world.  And after you order your copy go check out his incredible gaming room.  It's fricking beautiful.  If you want a PDF copy, it's available at RPGNow for $2.99.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Random Map Monday: Ruins & Quarry

Worked on this map all weekend.  Still working on ruins and also thought I would try my hand at a quarry.  This map took more time because instead of being on a 4" x 6" notecard, this map was drawn on a full-size sheet. 

I've got a unformed idea for this map.  My brain has not been working well these days so very little production of anything.  I'm hoping my brain begins functioning again or I may have to call my home owners insurance and see if I can get a replacement. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Screw The Man"

Tonight we run through +Ken H  2nd session and our 5th overall session.  Now I am armed with a physical copy of the Pits & Perils system.  +Chris C. and I will continue our investigation of the mysterious deaths in the area.  While we have gathered a bunch of information we are not sure what exactly what to do with it quite yet.  I figure tonight it'll come together somewhat. 

On Saturday is our face-to-face game.  +Rob Conley is running a Fantasy Age game in his Majestic Wilderlands.  +Daniel McEntee and +Dwayne Gillingham will be the other players around the table.  I finally finished my character after two false starts where I lost everything I did.  I ended up making an outsider, dwarven warrior, a radical.  So that should be interesting to play.  I have a 'screw the man', an Easy Rider kinda vibe.  In my head, this is what my character's home looks like.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Random Map Ruin

This map was inspired by +matt jackson.  I've always liked his ruin maps and it's something I've never been very good at drawing.  Matt allowed me to use one of his maps in issue 6 of The Manor, for an adventure, Witched of the Black Moon, I think it was called.  I went hunting for it and decided to give a ruin another go.

This is the original map by Matt.  I stole as much as I possible could from it.  I like the clear, simple defined walls.  And then Matt, like the other great map makers, create depth by adding a different level of exploration, it this case some underground caves.  I tried to steal that as well, but my attempt is a bit clumsy.  But I'll keep practicing. 

I may do a series where I draw a few maps in another map makers style, just as an exercise and I hope by the end of it I will have learned a few things from each to make my own maps better.

Monday, September 28, 2015

September Micro-Adventures Pre and Re View

I am ahead of myself this month.  I already have September's Micro-Adventures for my patrons printed and in envelopes.  Who is this guy who is all orginizational?  I decided to do a video of what my patrons will receive this month for backing me. 

In October I will do a promotional drive in attempt to increase my patrons.  I'll go into more detail later this week. 

Patrons, the micro-adventures will be sent out this week, but you get a sneak peek of what they look like.  Everyone else can got to my Micro-Adventures page and download the all the PDFs for free.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Mail Call Catch-Up

The past couple of weeks has been very good for mail.  I never get tired of getting cool packages in my post box.  It breaks-up the monotony of utility bills and advertisements and the latest political candidate flyer hoping you'll pick him or her over the other boneheads.  But this is how pretty my mail box looked like.

Look at them.  Just look at them.  That is a good looking group.

First, I finally got the print version for Pits & Perils.  I provided the thumb shadow, that was not included in my Lulu purchase.  +Olde House Rules created this rule set that the Wednesday night game use.  Wanna know something...shhh...I wrote in it!  I never do that.  But for some reason this book is inviting me to vandalize it with our house rules.  I like that.

This is the first of two +Simon Forster sightings in my mail box.  Simon has this fantastic patreon where he completed this Book of Lairs.  This is a great looking book.  And he and +Jim Magnusson, who illustrated this book, make a great team.  Review coming up for this one.

The newest entry into the zine scene id the +Grand DM's offering, Tales from the Game Tavern.  Absolutely love the cover.  There are 28 pages of gaming goodness that I will review very soon.  In the mean time grab a copy so you can follow along.

Another zine, but Crawl! is the original DCC zine and it turns 11 issues with this copy.  +Dak Ultimak the skipper, +Bob Brinkman as Gilligan, +Daniel Bishop as the Professor and +Sean Ellis as Mary Ann.  This issue focuses on seafaring adventures.  Which is good, because without a doubt, sea/water type of adventures are my weakest. 

And lastly, but not leastly is the second +Simon Forster offering.  A map on one side and The Disappointer on the other side.  This sad little shmoo won't hurt you, but it may have you questioning your life choices.

That concludes this episode of what's in the Manor's Mail.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

How I Hate My Printer and Inspired by Folklore

Some days I like my printer.  This was not one of those days.  It was one of those days where you create new curse words to describe your frustration.  You ask your printer to do things that are anatomically impossible, not that it has the anatomical parts to perform such acts.  This is on of those days where you wish objects had feelings to hurt.  Am I mean?  Maybe.  But when you request a simple thing, like print landscape instead of portrait, of your printer, you don't think too much of it until it refuses.  Maybe you're asking the printer to change the size of your document, but no matter how many times you click the button to change the size and save, the printer reverts back to a size you did not select.  Over and over again.

I finally settled on what it wanted to do and stopped fighting it.  I lost every battle.

I bring you Along Came the Spider, my 34th micro-adventure.  This one features the map I drew in a map book a good man sent me as a gift.  The map that is included was drawn in my vehicle at lunch and scanned in to use for this adventure.


 This adventure was inspired by folklore.  We've been messing with folklore in our Pits & Perils game and that inspired me to come up with something.  A folklore thing.  An artifact.  But not some powerful magic item, but a thing,  a symbol that contains meaning to people who know it. A thing that inspires or causes fear.

My $5 patron will receive the zine copy of Along Came the Spider at the end of the month and the PDF is free for anyone to download. 


Friday, September 25, 2015

Mobile Mapping Headquarters

Yesterday I posted about about the wonderful gift +Mark Hassman sent me.  Today I'm showing you a live action shot of how it is being used.  This is a console in my vehicle. 
  • Mark's mapping book fits perfectly in the slot. 
  • A pencil holder.
  • A couple of pens, not so much for mapping for back of check signing or emergency defense.
  • A letter opener for when I get cool mail at the post and can't wait to get home to open it.  That little stem on the apple is fricking sharp and it cuts through stubborn tape quickly.
  • The mechanical pencil is my main mapping tool.  I make too many mistakes to not be erasable.
  • However, when I am feeling cocky, I have an extra Micron .005 pen.  I'll need to remove it in the winter.  Pens don't do so well in sub-zero weather, but I think I still have a couple of months before that.
This allows me to map and jot down idea while at lunch or just sitting in the car waiting for whatever.  It's almost like the Batmobile.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

My New Favorite Person in the OSR is....

I received this in the mail yesterday, a handmade leather cover with a Moleskin graphpaper book inside.  The magnificent bastard who sent me this was none other than +Mark Hassman.  This made my day...hell my week.

This what the book looks like inside.  It's a 3" x 5.5" book with quarter inch graph paper.  What I love about this bad boy is, there is a slot in my vehicle that it pits perfectly into.  Today I put a pencil holder in one of the cup holders and put some pencils pens and markers in there so I have my own portable map making office.  While at lunch today I was able to doodle a map.

I absolutely loved doing that at lunch.  Gave me something to focus on besides all the crap I need to do at work.  Thank you a ton Mark.  The gift is very much appreciated and I hope to return the favor very soon.

The First Hut on the Left

Last night was our 4th session playing our round robin GMs using he Pits & Perils system.  The was +Ken H  first session at the helm.  I continued to play my charismatic fighter, Chevor and +Chris C. created a cleric called Odo the Penniless. 

Ken created this great map and included some inspirational pictures in this post.  Ken, someone who is extremely knowledgeable about history did an excellent job with developing the atmosphere of the setting.  I have four note cards of notes from the session so I am going to try to make sense of my own hand writing and the remember the flow of the session.

Odo and Chevor were traveling north from Inwood where, Phandor and Chevor solved the mysterious appearance of wolves and found a the missing Rose.  The first place we encounter is Darkness Bottom where we meet Ding, a guard in a narrow stone tower.  "You must be the king's inspectors coming to investigate poor Boc's murder."  Being an honest man I told him, no, we are mercenaries looking to make a living.  Ding frowned, "I don't think you get what I'm saying, you must be the king's inspectors or I can't let you travel this road with all your weapons and armor."  Ahh, so we were those inspectors they were waiting for.

He informed us that the murder occurred in Crossing Church.  The second gruesome murder within a month's time.  He gave us the details that the bodies were mutilated, torn to bits.  And he had many theories on how this came to be, the orcs from Verdoven-Bos, possibly witches.  He also mentioned a man named Anton, he seems to be a favorite person to blame.  He said if we went to Crossing Church that Leona was in charge of St. Amber's Church.  And Elston was the man in charge of the area as a whole, and he resided in Twiggleton.

We continued to travel north.  Met a few more characters before reaching Crossing Church.  When we first arrived was immediately met up with Leona and a woman named Tilly, Boc, the decease's wife.  They were tending to his pyre.  Tilly "I'm not going anywhere.  I'm staying here all night.  When Den was killed they had a pyre for him and in the morning when they came to collect his bones, they were gone.  No one is taking Boc's bones."

Odo and Leona had a short conversation about the area and her church.  She seemed surprised by the presence of investigators even though, we later discovered, she was to have sent for them weeks ago.  It is the only church in the area, but there are two abbeys in close proximity.  St. Diddlemyer Abbey with a long and rich history that several well known scholars and the new abbey is St. Mervin's.  An abbey that was established by Elson's father and himself. 

We then seek out a the man who found Boc's body, Arden.  A sharp old man who repeated the information that the body had been torn to bits.  Insides out, outsides in.  There were bite marks all over his body.  He believed it was the work of the orcs of some devil dog.  This happened north of Twiggleton six or seven years ago.

Odo asked for a tour of the church and Arden obliged.  A simple two room church.  A curious thing being the deep grooves in the floor.  Arden said they had replaced the altar eight or nine years ago.  The old altar had been in disrepair for years and the new one was a gift. 

We then explored the murder scene.  The ground had been scraped clean.  The local did not want the blood soaking into the ground.  It would taint the food grown in the orchard.  The scene was close enough that anyone should have heard Boc yell or at least seen what had happened.  We could see many homes from where we stood.  The only other significant detail we found was a few broken branches on the nearby tree.

On the other side of the orchard was Anton's home, a bit away from the other homes in the hamlet.  Anton features were very different in that he seemed ageless and that he had gold eyes.  He was a gracious host who seemed to enjoy the sparring of conversation.  He discovered he had heard, nor seen, anything.  However, he did get very interested when asked about the local history.  He mentioned a few times that the history was deep in this area.  The area is ancient, Imperial roads and ruins can be found in many places.  Before that the elves ruled this old forest.  And there were others even before that. 

Our final actions were we explored where Den was murdered a few weeks earlier.  The locals had cleansed the ground there also.  We decided to set up camp near the pyre to help Tilly keep watch on Boc's pyre so she can retrieve his bones in the morning. 

Our strategy after that is to explore north into Twiggleton, St. Mervin's Abbey and on up to St. Diddlemyer Abbey. 

It was a great session.  No combat.  More of a police procedural.  A few times I was thinking, "What would Brisco do?"

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Random Map Mon...errr Sunday

I've been slacking with my map making duties.  Or at least not posting what I've been making.  I've been attempting a few more blending techniques.  Not sure how I feel about them.  This one was drawn while watching two episodes of Persons of Interest.  My current Netflix addiction.  

I put this one in Paint.net overlaid the hex grid.  I haven't decided on the scale.  I go back and forth on making the hexes 2 miles or leaving the hexes off and making it a much small location, putting a few houses in the green.  If I keep it on the smaller scale I can use it for a micro-adventure.  

Earlier this month I was hyper productive and this past week I've been stalled and my creativity taking a huge shit.  I'm hoping to find something to develop this week. 

Looking forward to Wednesday's game, but also thinking about getting a second game going on-line.  I'll have to see who might be interested and what they want to roll with.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Shared World

The Wednesday night group of +Ken H+Chris C. and myself are finally getting around to doing our experiment of round robin GMing.  Chris finished a three session adventure that I wrote about in previous posts.  Ken is taking up the reins next.  While we agreed to do the round robin we really haven't setup any rules inparticular.  Other than deciding to use Pits & Perils for the system to use.

Here's my strategy on how to use the imagination of my fellow players to my advantage:

Chris generated a handful of colorful characters that live within a small village of Inwood.  What we know about Inwood is they are fairly friendly, but are quick to judge.  Their judgement of a young boy caused him to flee into the forest and shortly after he was killed by wolves.  This may not have been the first time these villagers have banished someone falsely.  Could be used for future fodder.

Chris also mentioned a Cult of Lycean (I am probably spelling that wrong).  He did not go into detail, but he created a symbol for it and it played a critical role in the adventure.  A wolf cult!!!  Shit yeah that is something I can run with.

A few things Chris mentioned was a larger settlement, Raventown, to the east.  While I won't presume anything about the town I can use the location to tie in other NPCs. While using a shared world I want to create a cohesiveness within my adventures. And using locations that Ken and Chris create will do a lot in that area.

Abandon abbey in the hills.  Loved that setting.  That's where we hunted the wolves during the second session.  And within that abbey was a saint, whose name I cannot remember.  So this is a twofer.  This makes me think, why is there an abandon abbey?  What happened?  Lack of funds?  Killed?   The saint lost favor with the church?  No clue.  But this is area I can mine for ideas and add to our campaign's religious background.  I've already seen Ken's map and he's using a saint something or other, so I think the religions of our world are going to be some psuedo-Christianity with a heavy sprinkling of pegan gods.  Still, religious oriented adventures are some of my favorites.

The lack of any guards or patrols or noble presence...a loosely ruled region?  There were no Sir Buttercups being bossy anywhere.  While Chris is not going to detail every little detail, I tried to pay attention to the details he thought were important to include, but also the details he decided not to include, that lacked importance.  Maybe the kingdom is struggling?  At war?  Maybe the local nobility only interferes if it doesn't get its taxes?  This is a blank slate that can be expanded on later.

Chris used only a gold piece system.  I'm cool with that.  Keeps things simple.  I like to play with currency sometimes, like different eras of coin and values, but in this case I'll probably stay away from that element.  I think our primary goal for this game is keeping things as simple as possible.  Despite what this post may seem like.

And knowing Ken's pssion for real world history, he loves to infuse that into his games and has done a masterful job in the past.  I'm sure I will have a ton of material to chose from once Ken's sessions are done and it becomes my turn.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Interviewed by 3 Toadstools

+Shane Ward , master and commander of The 3 Toadstools blog, sent me out an email earlier this week to do a 13 question interview.  I answered them under the influence of cough medicine and chicken broth so I cannot be held accountable for my answers.  Shane asked some good questions and one I know I didn't really answer.

He asked what was my favorite adventure module (other than my own).  And that is such a tough answer for me because I like a lot of stuff for different reasons.  So I didn't have a definitive answer.

If it is of interest to you at all head on over to The 3 Toadstools blog and give a read.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pits & Perils, The Wolves of Inwood Conclusion

+Chris C. concluded his adventure, The Wolves of Inwood, tonight.  I continued playing my fighter, Chevor, accompanied by Juliette and William, two footmen who are much better at hitting than me.  +Ken H played his mage Phrandor with his archer, Elizabeth, and his footman, Hogarth.

We stood in front of the cave's mouth knowing the wolves lie within.  We made our way into the first cavern and heard several dozen wolves growling from every direction.  We concocted a plan to build a fire near the cave's mouth in case we needed to escape then seal the way out. 

As we explored the cave we discovered that the acoustics in the cavern had played on our fears, making a single wolf sound like several.  We edge through the cavern and spotted our first wolf.  It charged us and I took a might swing...and critically failed and fell on my face!  After a few more rounds the wolf was killed by our faithful henchmen.  The head worth 5gp and the skin grabbing 3gp, we  headed deeper into the cavern.

To the north we spotted a dim light, so we slowly made our way into the cavern.  Within we found a man dressed in a hooded robe accompanied by a pair of large wolves.  Upon the ground an evil looking magic symbol was etched into the stone floor.  The man demanded to know who we were.  Phandor responded with a bolt of magic.  This is when I realized how potent magic could be.  The bolt hit the man in the center of the chest throwing him back against the wall.  "Kill them," he gasped and his wolves charged.

Chevor and the three footman formed a wall as Elizabeth the archer and Phandor struck with their arrows and magics.  I did NOT roll a critical failure this time, I just missed normally.  The man in black rose up and cast a fear spell upon Juliette who ran through the cavern in mindless terror.  Phandor and Elizabeth both struck the black robed man and he crumpled to the ground.

It was then we heard shouting from the cavern to the east.  A woman, screaming for help.  We finished off the wolves a couple of rounds later.  We went east and I found what I expected, the red haired Rose from town.  She was sobbing.  This man, Romulus, was deformed and wanted her to submit to a transmorphication (I forgot what the spell is called).  It would only work if she did it willingly.  It was his tactic to send his wolves out to kill the people of Inswood so she would submit.  Phandor burned the scroll with the ceremony to banish that evil.

We returned to Inwood with Rose, who explained what had happened to the others and that Fenric had been innocent after all.  

So concluded Chris's adventure.

The After Game Discussion
This is sometimes my favorite part of the night.  We discussed different GM techniques.  Mainly focusing on the aspect of provoking a sense of urgency in game.  It was an interesting discussion.

The other decision we made was to begin out rotating GM duties.  First we decided to keep with the Pits & Perils system.  It's an easy system that fades into the background.  Which suits or way of playing the best.  The second thing we decided was we would continue playing our same characters.  Next week when Ken starts I'll have Chevor falling into the mud somewhere on Ken's world.  And each of us will take turns GMing what we want for a few sessions.  It gives each of us a chance the play and GM. 

By the end of the night I decided that if we are going to run Pits & Perils I'm going to need more than the PDF, so I ordered a print copy.