Thursday, April 24, 2014

Finished a 1 Page Dungeon this Year

Since I had a map ready to use for the annual contest, I wrote a desert adventure starring those fiendish Flinds! I included a new monster and treasures, plus utilitarian check boxes for hit point tracking. I think the result is as good as my contributions to Fight On Magazine. I was tempted to draw one of the lion-humanoids for reference, but today anyone can simply do an online image search for fantasy creatures. I won't be drawing anything new till I'm ready to tackle my Bronze Age class designs.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ravenfeast Wargame Altered for Adventuring

Although most fantasy miniature games are focused on big engagements of warriors, some could be tweaked into a basic RPG. Devising some extra categories to spend your build points in might be all it takes if you don't need systematic leveling. Furthermore, you can ignore the wargaming aspects related to whole army clashes. One easy system I found while looking online is RAVENFEAST, which conducts the action with minimal die rolling. Your character buys skill levels, 1 to 5 on a D6, and must roll equal to or under to succeed. I added a category for sorcery, detailed weapons, and increased the survivability. I couldn't fit all the information a gamer would need on one page, but I think it could be done with 2-4. Below is the WIP layout:

Spells aren't listed, because I'm not set on the types of magic and their point cost. I don't want a game where the wizard has no options after investing in his spells. Warriors have three weapon sets (Mighty, Dual Wielded, Ranged) and consequently seem more versatile. Non-combat skills could be covered with "craft kits" bought as equipment; taking the surgery tools means you know first aid.

This system is extremely simple, but the goal is to wedge a spot (like a board game?) between 1 page micro-games and the "journal" sized introductory games like B/X D&D or Mini Six.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Atlantean Empire: Hexmap and Real Evidence?

Everybody out here in OSR space knows the story; a fabled civilization older than Egypt sunk in the ocean during a great cataclysm. Curiously, many believe that these ancient scholars, capable of mathematical feats and complex philosophy, simply confused some names and were embellishing more current events. Honestly, I think these critics want their "book studies" to be correct, and can't contend with inexplicable connections. People today have trouble with the candid nature of events only a century past; how would they process a re-write of 10,000 years of history?

The best evidence for an antediluvian empire is the kind that survives the eons - stone and precious metals. So, the first big clue you can crack your head against are the Cyclopean edifices with similar construction methods. These unbelievable rocks are everywhere, from the Nile Delta to Easter Island. Furthermore, the complexes dotted with the structures seem to have similar functions, as if the people were of one tribe. In the picture below, you can see what looks like a Mayan or Sumerian site. Rather, it is an Indian mound in Tennessee and a walled temple on the Italian coast!

Ancient treasures are known to have depictions of identical icons (like curling serpents) and be buried in countries that the items did not originate from. For example, the jade axes of Mesoamerica winding up in places across the oceans. I believe these goods were borne by ships that anchored at a port in the Azores, before the territory was a patch of cresting calderas.

Nobody knows exactly how much damage a huge comet or chain of volcanic eruptions can do. We do know that megaton blasts/quakes form tidal waves that can eradicate great swathes of occupied land. Nations near or on volcanic islands risk destruction by both fire and water, a combination known to have decimated the unlucky Minoans. Like Japan, the Atlantean mini-continent rested on a major underwater fault. Where there are fault lines there are volcanoes, bombs of magma that don't bode well for surface inhabitants when destabilized. Disasters in the Atlantic could easily have been the source of biblical floods, and why the "sea people" arrived back on the main continents.

Since nobody likely wants a completely underwater Bronze Age adventure, here is my (WIP) take on a partially submerged Atlantis circa 5~7000 BC. The legendary circular port (later copied in Carthage) is beneath the ocean, which rose dramatically after a cataclysm that ended the Ice Age. Now called Poseidonis, the realm is split by a rumbling trench and dotted with boiling volcanoes. Sea demons lurk in the waterways, and beasts once kept captive roam the forested hills. Arks full of the old world's wealth dot the land, carried to higher ground by formidable waves. What brave group of adventurers will leave their citadels and sail back to this doomed kingdom? I suggest my Celtiberian warriors and Urartrian priests! Soon I will introduce another class concept, the "Scythian" archer/ranger.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A PDF Sale on DCC Scored

The other day, the "One Book Shelf" online vendors had a crazy sale on popular rpg systems. Their servers couldn't even handle the spike in demand. I managed to slip through the matrix and download the Dungeon Crawl Classics book. I played a convention adventure hosted by M Curtis last year, a DCC module entitled Frozen in Time. It played much like basic D&D, with funky dice for new special abilities/luck. I can't call the system superlative in every way though, as I feel the spell casting classes were debilitated with severe risks.

By playing a fighting class, one understands that the trade off for reliable weapons and armor is the need to be in close range, rolling to hit for every swing. In DCC, a spellcaster has the traditional lack of equipment and brawn, yet must also roll to activate a spell. In my con game, I played a Cleric and botched many a turn by rolling below what is about a 50/50 threshold. Sure, a fantastic roll will boost a spell's effects, but you are still damn unreliable (even without the per day limits) and at risk of being corrupted. As a DM, I'd have to hem this mechanic some. Success checks would be reasonable enough if you only ask for them if the caster is in personal combat, wounded, or missing his arcane items.

There is a lot of useful stuff in the DCC book, and for the price I paid ($5) or a bit more, it is one of the best OSR products available.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spell Memory Table Concept

Over at the sepulchral blog of GORGONMILK, you can find a treatment of caster magic rendered with variable memory slots. After reading it, I put my sketching hat on and tried to visualize how a system of dice, memory boxes, and levels might appear. Below, you see the initial result, divided primarily into Wizards and non-wizards (like elves or druids). The former, being strictly academic, roll D6s for checks and have more spell slots per level. The latter have more trouble, rolling D4s and at most knowing a mere seven spell slots. By OSR parameters, I think that is a reasonable reduction for being able to use warrior equipment and enjoy racial powers.

Example: Murderkainen is 3rd level, but he found a 4th level spell in the crystal castle library. As a Wizard of the Hex Trotters, he can learn it if he rolls higher than "4" using 2D6. Once memorized, he has 4 slots left over for his other known spells.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bring this Mechazoid to LIFE

The resurgence of the kaiju film has me thinking about the giant mechs that fight them. If the "brain" of a robot combatant is a human, why does the form have to be the same? If a tiger or bear had laser cannons, isn't that better than anything on two legs? To see what I'm considering, do a search for ZOID models like this:
You can see the deadly combination of claws, teeth, and bolted on weapons. A humanoid machine would have to sacrifice its front limbs to carry weapons, and would be off balance performing any kind of leg attack. With big mechs fitting many RPG settings, I worked up a "zoid template" that could use some stats. Pictured below is a generic body surrounded by a modest selection of weapons. I'm not good at determining power levels, but I imagine that a mecha-zoid this size would be the equal of 200 regular human soldiers. Any rule set thoughts can be left in comments!

Monday, March 3, 2014

No Cute Goblins

I think the goblin design in Pathfinder isn't repulsive enough. The gaming universe can have cuddly kobolds if it desires, but goblins should be filthy imps that you'd never want to touch. I share this position with some other blogs, like Goblin Punch.

Here is specialized character creation for the goblin race. First, reduce stat dice from 3D6 to something like 2D8, producing low numbers and only modestly high attributes. Second, roll for some percentile based features:
  • 100% of goblins are detested by all other races.
  • 100% are able to see with standard infravision.
  • 100% of their actions in bright daylight are penalized 1 point.
  • 75% are born male.
  • 75% have no hair.
  • 75% are immune to non-magical diseases of the flesh.
  • 50% of goblins can smell a tiny amount of blood, like some animals.
  • 50% can howl in concert to affect enemy morale.
  • 50% can communicate with vermin, like rats.
  • 25% of goblins emit a disgusting, penetrating stench.
  • 25% can eat anything that was once alive.
  • 25% have enough sharp teeth to deliver a 1 point bite attack.
  • 10% are "froglins" with webbed extremities and slimy skin.
  • 10% have large bat ears and gain a sound detection bonus.
  • 10% of goblins can speak the human common tongue.
  • 5% of goblins know a limited number of spells.
  • 5% of goblins are "troll-kin" and heal faster than normal.
  • 5% are not afraid of baths.
There are three class/occupation types - Stabber, Chanter, and Hunter. Here are some D10 equipment lists for each (starting player picks one and rolls for another):
  • Dung-caked shield
  • Rusty dagger
  • Helmet with a nail spike
  • Bucket of bugs
  • Sling made of gut and skin
  • Owlbear claw
  • Stone mace
  • Pitchfork broken in half
  • Human made map
  • Bent hobgoblin scimitar

  • Black dung powder
  • Goblin glue pot
  • Flask of sour wine
  • Staff tipped in nose wax icon
  • Divination bones
  • Unholy demon mask
  • Psychedelic mushrooms
  • Cave cricket pieces
  • Human jewelry
  • Mildewed arcane scroll

  • Dung-caked small animal net
  • Worm infected pet weasel or raccoon
  • Rusty hand axe
  • Bag of moldy cheese
  • Woven reed hood
  • Human smoking pipe
  • Stone-tipped javelin
  • Orange Bat pet
  • Frayed rope and iron hook
  • Leather shoe soles

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mythological Iberia for D&D?

Last year I made a few posts about ancient Armenia, and how the location could be a change from the typical Babylonian setting. Now I have an interest in the Celtiberians, a Bronze Age nation occupying northern Spain before its inclusion in the Roman Empire. These hillmen were tough bastards, and could undertake the same kind of adventures their Celtic kin in Britain might. Naturally, this would be a low-fantasy type of campaign. Gear would be limited, and "runecasting" the only method of spell use. In actual history, these people constructed small forts and were in close proximity to both the ocean and mountain caves. Monsters could arise from the deep, or surge down from accursed caverns!

Among their known arms are the ubiquitous spear and infamous curved falcata. They also wielded slings, double edged daggers, and a short gladius that the Romans also favored. Since their tactics were more like guerrilla warfare, armor and shields were mostly light. For a RPG hack, I'd probably allow the use of bows, to give a player more choice. Magic runes would be divided into "divine" and "sorcerous" categories, advancing to maybe 4th or 5th level only. The only demi-human class might be a goblin/gnome creature called a "Trasgo".

I may finish a summary guide in OSR language, combined with those Urashtu priest warriors...

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Action Planned for 2014

With this blog now untethered from a closed OSR news site, I will likely use it only to announce finished works. I am going to focus on PDF resources I can sell online, and helping other grognards do the same. In the upcoming months, my primary checklist includes:
  • Release of my Troll Dungeon Level material, indifferent to the paralyzed status of Fight On magazine.
  • Release of Argots & Armour, my D&D hack for fast/lite play.
  • Release of the XOLGMOD swords and sorcery genre island setting.
  • Completing fantasy and sci fi 28mm miniature forces.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday Gaming with LEGO Heroica

Since an Uncle's job is to entertain his sibling's energetic children with cool games, I was once again playing the master of a plastic brick dungeon this Thanksgiving. Pleasantly, the kids are old enough to observe more advanced play that creativity can add to the simple system. Extra things to do in the dungeon beyond movement and attacking seem very popular. This means that the areas need to be more than just abstract terrain, and include some of the interactive things common in D&D.

First, I will show some player characters: the Fighter, Ninja, Wizard, and Archer. Weapons have two grades, dealing either one or two points of damage. The figs shown are equipped with the latter. Depending on what accessories you have, other classes can be substituted.

The dungeon itself uses my collection of gray, black and red bricks. The halls and common rooms are restricted to these colors. Special rooms and Boss Lairs are larger and utilize uncommon design pieces. The game runs best with the addition of teleporters and at least one place to heal up. Many fans of Heroica use "outdoor" bricks to make an enclave/town for players to recuperate or shop at.