Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Status of Things

Still working on my first solo/gm adventure titled 'A Day in Baru-Kesh'...updated the cover with newer art by JEShields. Still hoping I can spend the needed hours over the holidays to get this wrapped up and out in January.

Illustration © 2014, James E. Shields – Jeshields.com
Some artwork copyright William McAusland, used with permission.

Monday, December 22, 2014

New Snollygoster now available!

Check out the new Snollygoster, volume 5 - available from Drivethrurpg.com.

I expanded my standard 'Starting a Gaslight' campaign information a bit and created my version of a T&T/Stay Alive! "Werewolf". Check it out and let me know what you think of my take on the classic Lycan foe.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Updating the Stay Alive! Rules - need some help

The actual writing aspect of trying to be a pseudo-writer has been quite a challenge for me. I have found the inspiration comes and goes and very much infrequently. I have a bunch of bits of scrap paper in the car where a moment of believed brilliance struck at a stop light.

While there are a bunch of ideas churning, I have two items on my list that I want to wrap up sooner rather than later. As I mentioned a few months back, the solo adventure I originally had intended to include in MMv1 is almost complete. I am still hopeful this will be available before the end of the year. Anyone reading this that are also members of Trollhalla - let me know if you would be interested in being a play tester for me.

While I still think it would be cool to get a "Gaslight" or "Zombie" Edition in the works to support multiple session/campaign play, I still need to update and finish the actual ruleset for SA! When I released the Lite Edition of the rules about a year ago, it was not a completely finished product. There are a few additonal sections I would like to add (Motorized Weapons, Miniatures Rules, Professions) that were not in a good enough state to include. Also through the course of running games with the kids and at conventions, I have made plenty of notes in my print copy of things to add/expand/update.

Stay Alive! Monstrous Edition will be that updated set of rules. I will have more details in the coming months as I work through making these updates, but it is quite nice to be able to start addressing some of the items that I knew I needed to come back to. The cover art is from James Shields and his Patreon project that I am supporting. If you like it, check out the site linked here (RPG Character Compendiums) and see all the wonderful work that he has been doing. Some of the internal artwork will also be refreshed.

Help Item #1
One thing that I would like some feedback on...speaking from a survival horror angle, and things that would be commonly used as melee weapons in the modern day: Assuming that most people do not have brass knuckles or katanas laying around the home, but just in general, what may be missing?

Baseball Bat
Brass Knuckles
Broken Bottle
Cricket Bat
Hunting Knife
Lead Pipe
Police Baton
Switch Blade
Tire Iron

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Blast from the Past - 'Zombie Plague'

I began working on some combat talents this morning...trying to decide if I want to submit to an upcoming Snollygoster or just hang on for some Darkshade work.

Anyway, I do like to double check that what I have just created has not already been done by someone else. So, I began scrolling trough some already printed items, primarily the previous editions of the Trollszine. When I first started my involvement with T&T, I downloaded the first 3 or 4 Trollszines not personally knowing any of the various authors credited in its pages. 

Now when I look at these older volumes, I can say that I have met and corresponded with many of the names listed. One such that stuck out for me this morning was in Trollszine #2, a solo adventure written by Tom Grimshaw. Paragraph 19 has a very interesting mechanic for 'Zombie Plague' in a fight against a zombie that I thought should be noted.

The Special Attack is "2/Zombie Plague". If inflicted, the character in the solo has to be successful on a Level 1 SR vs CON to avoid being infected. If infected, the character loses 1 point of CON per paragraph in the solo until either magically healed or he is reduced to zero CON. If the character is turned into a zombie, the author makes a note that the character should be added as a zombie with an MR equal to his STR attribute to the room where the death occurred for future characters in the solo to encounter.

Well done mate!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Vacationing Dwarf

Been quiet lately and that has been because of my trip to England in mid-September. I could not help it, but while walking through Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, the Roman Baths, and the Canterbury Cathedral, I was immediately in game mode, trying to figure out and categorize all the amazing sights into some form of adventure in the future.

People in Europe I think take it for granted that some of the buildings and structures around them have been around for hundreds and even a thousand years. Here in the states, we are lucky to find areas that are still put together after only a few hundred years.

So while I get my act back together and get my Darkshade Publishing projects back on track, here are some of the sights that I experienced that will hopefully provide some inspiration.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Gen Con 2014 Report

A week ago tonight, I had just finished driving home from Indianapolis after 5 days of gaming at Gen Con. It is crazy to think how time flies...a few weeks ago, I was worried about getting everything ready for the convention. A few weeks before that, I was thinking I still had plenty of time to get everything done, maybe even get one more Darkshade Publishing book completed ahead of it. Now, the next Gen Con is only about 49 weeks away since it is an early start next year (July 30).

Pictures? Nope - did not even bother to snap any on my out dated and not smart phone.

Busy? Yup - worked about 8-12 hours each day at the auction as well as ran one 3.5-4 hour game each day.

The Exhibit Hall? I just find it hard to pay retail price for things these days. I usually try to track down Wargames Factory since they offer some free sprues with their new sets, but they did not show up this year. I did drop in a few times on the Peryton Publishing booth to say hello or grab a few SA! Lite books to use for my game on Saturday, but I otherwise did not really do any real shopping or investigating.

Darkshade Publishing? Tom and Robin at Peryton Publishing were kind enough to offer my two books in the Exhibit Hall. I don't think I sold more than a few copies, but I am ever thankful for the exposure they offered.

Wednesday? I showed up early on the day and helped with auction intake. I then went to the KFG Wednesday Gaming at Scotty's to get a good meal and run a cool little card game that is one of my favorites (Formula Motor Racing). Briefly talked to KFG Bart there and ran my game at 3pm for an awesome local couple. No one showed  up for my 1pm slot, so I enjoyed a sandwich and a dessert watching Hellboy 2 and Man of Steel on the vid screens. Went back to the auction, worked a few more hours, then met the Peryton group at the Tilted Kilt for our annual pre-con gathering.

Game of Thrones RPG? I find that the game is always a good time. It can be a challenge dealing with a table full of people that more than likely know the books better than I do. It is also a low magic, lower monster type world which presents its own additional challenges. I think the one thing I can confirm for 2015 is that I will be taking a break from AGOT - 6 years (2008-2010, 2012-2014) was a decent run.

Tunnels & Trolls? The fantasy sessions seemed to work well enough. All the players were new to T&T so it was really a teaching session, but both groups really developed some strong characters in the short time. The strength of the system is its allowance for creativity on the character front - players seem to love being able to choose a race that could be improbable for other games.

Stay Alive? I ran the Gaslight game for 8 players. It went quite well and I think it is something I can really try to expand upon for future Darkshade projects. As with most independent publishers, I need to find some reliable and affordable artists to work with.

What did I buy? Not much at all. I bought a copy of 'Castle Panic' in the auction for $16 (with an expansion) and bought a zombie board game in the charity auction for either $26 or $28. I sold a few items in the auction, netting just over $200 after paying my seller fees.

Will I be back next year? It is hard for me to resist the temptation of Gen Con. Every year I say that I am done running events, but then I have some really great players show up and make me re-think that stance. I already promised the boy that I would bring him along next year, so the only question will be working out the hotel room and how much time to work at the auction.

It was nice to see some newer friends once again - Cram, Sligo, Caed, Jordan...met a few others for the first time from the Peryton crew. Thanks again to Tom and Robin for everything you do and for the 'Event Uber Overlord' t-shirt. I really do enjoy organizing those events every year. Also to Robin for running the D&D 5E game that I showed up late to...and KFG Bart for once again tracking me down to give me my t-shirt and dice (and for organizing all the KFG stuff every year).

Monday, August 18, 2014

Attributes - Kindred Limitations

The Lone Delver posted a very detailed  and well thought proposal for the update of starting kindred modifiers HERE.

I have just returned from GEN CON after having run 3 separate T&T sessions, all with new character generation. One was my SA! GASLIGHT game, so I will not refer to that character generation since those were human only characters.

Jeff Dee/TSR

Does it make sense to 'cap' or set a maximum for a kindred that cannot be surpassed by spending AP to increase the attribute? It makes sense to limit a Hobb or a Leprechaun to start with a limited STR, however those low numbers are easy pickings to start raising once the AP starts flowing in.

I know that most purists would say that this would be nonsense and T&T should be unbalanced, but then why have racial modifiers at all if you are limiting or rewarding the character based on his or her kindred propensities at the start?

If a Leprechaun and Hobb are both limited to a negative starting adjustment for STR, does it not make sense to say that such characters should never exceed a 15 STR? Would it make sense for a Hobb who is so racially limited at the start of his career to have a negative modifier to his natural STR, to be able to get this value up to a 40 or 50, thus being 'stronger' than say a giant?

Just thinking out loud here...I will spend some time adding to the existing 7.5 charts what I think should be MAX values for different kindreds. More to come soon...

For my fantasy games at the convention, I had two distinct and wonderful groups...

Group 1 consisted of the following:
  • Naga Wizard (complete with a saddle to allow the Leprechaun to ride on his slithery end)
  • Leprechaun Rogue (with a Talent for 'finding profit' - basically a Ferengi, well played)
  • Dark Elf Wizard
  • Dwarf Warrior
  • Dwarf Warrior
  • Hobgoblin Warrior (with a talent in cooking that endeared him to the humans in the caravan the group was guarding - also had a small boy who eagerly followed him around with a fork trying to help him fight)
Group 2 consisted of the following:
  • Ogre (female) Warrior (she patched together her armor from bits and pieces of armor from fallen foes - she also took insult to anyone that just assumed  she was a monster - she was very un-uncouth)
  • Vampire Wizard (told others he was victim to some really bad acid wounds so he keeps his entire body covered)
  • Merperson Warrior (an aristocratic envoy to the landed peoples who got tired of the hum drum life of courts and politics and took up his harpoons, trident, and net to try some delving)
  • Leprechaun Rogue
  • Hobb (female) Rogue
For the record, my SA! Gaslight game had the following:
  • The Assistant (a chemist assistant who was eager to try out his own talents at mixing things)
  • The Doctor (nicknamed Doctor Death for his eagerness to stab anyone with his hunting knife)
  • The Dentist (carried around his bottle of chloroform)
  • The Rich Guy (independently wealthy, loved his boomstick)
  • The Irish (he was Irish and he created a talent called 'Liquid Courage' which worked quite well)
  • The Dancer (proficient with darts, she also brought out a burlesque dance in a tavern to cause a needed  distraction)
  • There were 2 other characters that I am having a hard time remembering their details...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Stay Alive! Gaslight, and another Gen Con Update

Was able to play some SA! on Saturday night (before and after the Columbus Crew game) with Tom, Robin, and the Boy. It is nice to be able to bounce some ideas and flesh out some ideas with a strong group of role players and friends.

For my convention games, I like to use what I call my 'Danger Room' method. I fondly remember plenty of old 'Uncanny X-Men' comics where the characters start an issue with a fight against some sentinels or was seems to be the return of the Marauders. After the fight, we find out that it was a Danger Room exercise, a bit of action to set the stage for the issue, or just start the blood flowing a bit for the story.

Playing at a table full of strangers, and normally people that have little or no experience with the game or system, it serves as both a way to hit the ground running (after what could be a half hour of character creation) and also get the mechanics of combat out of the way so that it goes potentially smoother later in the session.

My Danger Room scenario was intended to be a quick fight and capture of a Voodoo Papa Juju as he was interfering with the crews continuing the work of draining the Black Swamp and building a southern road. The group started out on the back end of the investigation, but I found out quickly that it could have easily served as full adventure - I really took away from some good role playing opportunities by just handing them the climax of the story.

Also it should be noted that both Tom and Robin came up with creative background for both their characters. The Boy's character background had already been fleshed out over the prior weeks leading up to this weekend. I am making this note to just remind myself to come back to this particular game as it had some very memorable events to share.

Gen Con update....

Darkshade Publishing Preparations
Pack up Peryton Gamers T-Shirts
Pick out the games to sell in the Auction
Enter the games to sell online at livegameauctions.com
Pack game for KFG Wednesday Gaming

Need to do
Print character sheets for T&T games
Print out character sheets for AGOT game
Pick out the games to sell in the Auction
Enter the games to sell online at livegameauctions.com
Pack miniatures for AGOT and T&T games
Pack game for KFG Wednesday Gaming
Update and Print AGOT adventure
Update, Playtest (Aug 9) and Print T&T SA! adventure (In process)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Gen Con 2014 - Darkshade Publishing

Gen Con.

Those of you not going are probably get sick of all the constant references and posts about preparations.

Peryton Publishing will be kindly offering some Darkshade products at their booth in the Exhibit Hall, #1317. Hard copies of both Meandering Monsters V1 ($7) and Stay Alive LE ($5) will be available as well as some nifty postcards with the 50% off discount code for the PDF, good through September. There are not many copies for sale (about 13 of each), but I would not imagine they will be selling out either. Tom or Robin from Peryton Publishing will be at the booth, or some other Peryton Gamer volunteer.

I will also have some of the postcards with me for the T&T games I am running on THUR-SAT-SUN.

There will be some extra t-shirts as well. If by chance you are not already getting one (Peryton Gamer) and would like one, reply to this post and I will try to get you one. If I am not running a game, I will be one of the countless fools working in the auction all weekend. You could find me there as well.

If you are not busy on Wendesday afternoon, I will be running a card game called Formula Motor Racing at Scottys Brewhouse, both at 1pm and 3pm. Seats are still available, but official sign-ups are currently closed.

Here is a full list of the Peryton Gamer events - some still have tickets that can be purchased on site. Also, show up with generics...most events have no-shows or can accommodate more than the listed attendees. No promises, but worth a shot.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

What I still need to do before Gen Con

Others have done this and I think it is a good idea to help me be a bit more organized.

Darkshade Publishing Preparations
Pack up Peryton Gamers T-Shirts

Need to do
Print character sheets for T&T games
Print out character sheets for AGOT game
Pick out the games to sell in the Auction
Enter the games to sell online at livegameauctions.com
Pack miniatures for AGOT and T&T games
Pack game for KFG Wednesday Gaming
Update and Print AGOT adventure
Update, Playtest (Aug 9) and Print T&T SA! adventure

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Gen Con Preview for Darkshade Publishing

Have not posted very regularly lately - soccer matches, vacation, and Gen Con preparations have sapped much or any free time as of late. Although, getting rid of the Xbox would probably help as well...

Gen Con is only a few weeks away. While everything that I am running this year has been run previously, there are a few things I really want to update with the Gaslight "Frogtown Plague" and "Game of Thrones" scenarios. I am not too worried about my two T&T fantasy sessions since I have plenty of tried and tested material to draw upon which is how I normally prefer to run my games; allowing the players to basically plot their own course through my world.

I also have everything I need for my Darkshade Publishing presence at the convention thanks to Tom and Robin at Peryton Publishing. There will be a few hard copies of both SA!LITE and MMv1 on sale at their booth. I also had printed some color postcards with a discount code to use to get the PDF versions of the books from DriveThruRPG. This is all new to me, trying to market or sell some items at the convention. The cards will be sitting out for anyone to grab and take with them. Will be interesting to see how long they last as I only printed about 50 of each and decided against dropping more money to get a few more.

For the Peryton Gamers, I once again acted as the event organizer for the group's games and had Darkshade sponsor some t-shirts for our GMs. There will be a few extras so if you are reading this and you are not already getting one, talk to Tom or Robin at the booth and hopefully there will be one they can hand off to you at the show.

On August 9, the crew is getting together for one last play testing session ahead of the big convention. We have been sporadically meeting in Columbus on the weekends of the Columbus Crew home games since I have season tickets. The boy will be with me and it looks like Tom will be running some WOBBL and I will be running my Gaslight adventure, the aforementioned 'Frogtown Plague'.

The focus of the original scenario I created a few years back for Savage Worlds was that there were a series of mysterious deaths being reported in 1890's Toledo, OH. The primary antagonist was a group of young vampires that were leaving the dead bodies laying around the city. I am going to keep the vampires, but I am also going to introduce a second antagonist that will be leaving dead bodies with different wound patterns that will hopefully provide a different challenge.

For my Game of Thrones game, it has become pretty simple for me...if I have a player in the group that has played in the first adventure before, I run the second one. If I have an entirely new group of players, I run the first adventure. The first scenario I have already played around with adding new scenes and changing things around a bit. If I run the second one, I am planning on make a few small changes - just need to get that down on paper so that when the time comes, I do not forget. This event sells out quickly every year. I would imagine I could quite easily run this adventure a few times a day throughout the weekend and have sold out games with the popularity of the books and the tv series. However, I do not foresee GRRM giving me any permission anytime soon to publish my AGOT adventures, so my focus will have remain with my T&T revolution.

So - less than 3 weeks away. I have to paint a few miniatures and iron out a few adventures, but otherwise, things actually seem less stressful this year despite the new challenges. If you cannot make it to any of my games (still one ticket left to my Sunday T&T game), check out the auction. I will normally be there when not running my games. The auction is what actually pays my bills at Gen Con, so stop by and look for me behind the counter or on the stage - I do sell some things every once is a while.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Darkshade Chronicles Preview

I have been working on getting the solo portion of what was supposed to be included in MM1 completed, and I remembered my original idea over a year ago when I first started thinking about self-publishing.

T&T seems to have a small but loyal group of supporters, and even that group is split by those that are primarily looking for solo adventure material and those that lean more to the GM side of things. DC01 will feature both a solo adventure as well as information needed to more easily run as a GM adventure. Ken St. Andre did something similar with his Rose of Stormgaard novel as well as the Saving Fang adventure written for 1E resulting from the Kickstarter.

I am sure others have done this as well...but something I have wanted to do for some time now.

Friday, June 13, 2014

New Monster-isms for T&T

There have been a few reviews of Meandering Monsters Volume 1, and thanks to both Kopfy and Robin for doing so. 

Robin referred my use of a 'triggered disadvantage', what I have labeled as a 'Special Hindrance', and I thought it would be good to show everyone what I now use as my default monster statistics grid thingy, for lack of a better word.

Below is a page from Meandering Monsters that lists out the definitions or descriptions for the statistics that I include for each monster. I personally like the idea of a monster having both positive and negative aspects that can be fleshed out and triggered in game play. I also added what I call an 'Alpha' version of the monster, influenced by the old AD&D manuals where a war chief or shaman would have slightly different stats displayed.

To be clear, I think T&T is a game that should always involve tweaking (and twirking?) of the stats to best meet the GM's needs. At the same time, I like the idea of a minimum value if you will. A goblin is normally just a goblin, just like most humans would normally just be citizens with very limited abilities.While I will always increase the stats for goblin leaders and goblin heroes to present a challenge, the base gobbo should still be just a base gobbo, not increased to a higher level just because the party you are running is of higher power/level.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Out of the Ashes...

This was removed from MMv1 because it was holding me up a bit. I am hoping to get this out before August, but with some momentum, it could see the light in June.

No promises, but I have some hope...

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Meandering Monsters: Volume 1 now available on Amazon

Still waiting on Drive Thru RPG to review and approve the PDF version...I must be doing something wrong to have attracted such attention from them. In the meantime, I have no such problems meeting the requirements for CreateSpace and Amazon...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

Meandering Progress

Pretty much any spare time lately has been spent on getting this first volume wrapped up. My goal is to still have something before the end of the month. In regards to status, here is where my different sections are at:
  • Monsters - 100%
  • GM Adventures - 75%
  • Solo Adventure - 50%
  • Spellbook - 100%
  • Magic Items - 100%
  • Game Aids - 100%
I have one or two maps to complete along with finishing writing on the GM Adventures. The solo adventure is plotted and almost completely written, but still need to finish the layouts which I am assuming could take some time since I need to jumble things up and fit them on the pages trying to get a bit of artwork around them.

My fallback is to remove the solo adventure all together and release without it. It would still leave me with about 40-50 pages, or I can break the solo into two parts...I will see what I can do to still meet my May deadline.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Another Meandering Monsters Preview

I think all of us GMs have dabbled a bit in map making. Creating one for a publication is something that is a first for me.

This is a small section of my known world...very much influenced by my current real life arrangements. Let me know if my references are a bit too obvious, but then again, that was my intention.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Meandering Monsters Preview

The first volume of 'Meandering Monsters' has taken a bit longer to put together than I was hoping. The premise is simple enough: I wanted to produce something akin to the old Dragon magazines from TSR that supported their games (AD&D, Top Secret, Boot Hill, etc.). The main focus though is on the one area of T&T that I believe gets generalized a bit too much - the monsters.

T&T is wonderful in its ability to allow the GM to produce a monster with a challenge rating that can easily be matched to the party, using the MR system. However, the name of the monster really does not matter if you are just using this number. What is the difference between a MR50 Uruk and an MR50 Giant Ant? In game terms, they both have the same combat value; same hits to kill. The GM can describe what the Giant Ant looks like as opposed to the Uruk, but other than that, they are the same, at least in the simplest of terms.

So what will Meandering Monsters have? It will have more than a few featured monsters re-envisioned for your T&T game. There will be GM scenarios that feature the monsters to take straight to your group as a fill-in adventure for your current ongoing campaign (if that is the case). 

For those solo gamers out there, the first issue will also feature such an adventure (and I confess, this is what has considerably held me back a bit, but I think the quality of the end product will be worth the wait). 

There will also be new artwork from Mike Hartlieb, a foreward from Tom K Loney from Peryton Publishing, a game aids section for players and GMs, as well as new magic items and spells.

My goal is to create something that would appeal to the player and the GM for T&T. Hopefully, you will be seeing this sooner rather than much later.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

House in the Hills, Part 2

(Continued from the previous post, we completed the adventure on the night of 3/28/2014)

The Elf was struggling all through the adventure thus far with his CON value. While most fights were of little concern once he found some weapons, the Spite damage was adding up. After the fight with the spiders, the centipede, and the small beetle, he as sitting on 1 CON. He had even used some AP to level up his CON from 7 to 9 when there was time before exploring the next room.

He slept for a few hours in the upstairs bedroom in hopes of getting back some CON points. A roll on the random events table resulted in his slumber being interrupted by something scuttling around on his leg. A small scorpion bit him, but he was not poisoned. He regained a few CON points from the rest and decided to continue his quest to get out of the house.

He tried the 'Knock-Knock' spell again on the front door, still no affect. He checked the windows and only saw one wolf lingering around the door. He tried hitting the door with his sword, but its magic did not allow it to budge.

There was one room on the first floor not yet explored, which ended up being a small kitchen off the dining room. After rummaging through the cupboards and drawers, he disturbed a few giant rats. He ran away and with a successful L2 SPD check, I allowed him to escape and close the door on the rats. 

Returning to the front room again, he found the gloves on the corner table and found a dead body stuck in the chimney of the fireplace. Dislodging it upset a swarm of blood bats of which 3 attacked him. They were easily dispatched, but a few more Spite damage once again put him on the edge of death. A knife in a scabbard (Sax) was found on the body as well as some bracers and a backpack containing torches and flint/steel. He could finally make the trek into the dark and dreary basement.

First though, he dragged the dead body to the staircase down to the basement and hurled the body down the flight with a loud thud wanting to see if anything down there would reveal itself. Not hearing anything, he returned to the kitchen in hopes of killing the rats for some food to regain some more CON. After dispatching the rats without taking any additional damage, he built a fire and roasted one regaining a few points and also leveling up his CON again with some experience earned.

Back upstairs, he checked the remaining door. It was ornate and cold to the touch. Another 'Knock-Knock' spell had no affect. The lock on the door did have a keyhole, and the key had not yet been found.

After lighting a torch, down to the dark basement he went. The torchlight did little to illuminate the entire room, but among crates and barrels he did notice a door on one wall and a chest in one corner. Coming a bit closer, there was also a zombie that slowly turned and attacked. Fighting the zombie with his broad sword and newly found sax was close at first. The armored zombie was able to deflect some of the damage, but was eventually worn down and defeated.

When the boy wanted to dual wield the zombie's dropped broad axe with his broad sword, I asked him what his STR was. It turned out that he was not even strong enough to wield the broad sword by itself. So, I let him continue using the broad sword, but he had to wield it 2 handed.

The chest contained an oil wrapped chain hauberk that was immediately equipped, replacing his previously found doublet. His eyes also lit up when he realized he had an oil soaked cloth that could be used for a potential molotov cocktail. Also found - a first aid kit that was good for two doses; one was immediately used to get his CON back up a bit along with another leveling using his earned AP.

The door in the basement led to a wine cellar with racks of bottles and a 3 casks lining the walls. Finding most of the bottles empty, he did locate one bottle of red and one bottle of white wine. Drinking from both bottles, the red provided some more needed CON points while the other was foul tasting and resulting in a penalty to the next few SR rolls. Regarding the casks, one was hollow and when broken open, a key was found. 

Back upstairs to confront whatever was in the room. A withered and emaciated old man was tied to the bed and amazingly still breathing. The cold was protecting from the demon that was also in there, keeping him from being able to cast spells or fight at its most powerful. The fight was also slanted in the hero's favor due to the broad sword that granted double damage versus fire based creatures. I did not reduce the demon's adds when losing CON to keep it a bit of a challenge. Once again, Spite damage almost defeated him. Back down to 1 CON when the demon was defeated, the old man in the bed passed away and the Elf used the remainder of the first aid kit.

The chest at the foot of the bed contained more monetary treasures as well as some more equipment. As this was being searched, a loud crash could be heard from downstairs - the wolves were back and in the house now that the magical protection had been lifted.

They came up the stairs to meet him and would have to fight them 2 at a time. After the first round, he was looking at a stalemate as their damage together was equal to his. He also took yet another few Spite damage, so he needed to come up with another plan.

He wanted to leap over and past the wolves and get out the front door. I challenged him with a L3 DEX to do so, followed by a L2 SPD SR to try to close the door on the wolves. I figured a successful save would mean that one wolf was able to follow him through before closing the door, a failed save would allow two to get out, and a critical fail, all of them. Being successful on both, he faced off against the one wolf that squeezed through and was able to defeat it easily 1 vs 1. He then realized that he left the spell book behind.

Taking out the oil soaked rag, he lit it on fire and placed it on the front door. The fire started to spread quickly on the old house, but the wolves were able to eventually break free through the now burning doorway. One of the wolves was killed getting through the fire while the other two burst through and continued their pursuit. The Elf then went up a tree and decided to use his daggers to try to finally win the day. Two successful ranged attacks later, the wolves were laying dead and he was able to pick his way through the burning house to get the desired spell book.

*    *    *    *

The one thing that is really nice about running a solo adventure as a GM adventure is the ability to allow alternate choices that are obviously not possible normally. No solo adventure can ever present every possible idea that pops into a player's head.

Monday, March 24, 2014

House in the Hills, Part 1

Dan Hembree's solo adventure "House in the Hills" is a good one. I ran it as a GM moderated adventure at BASH Con back in February since I only had one player for my scheduled game.

So, I am doing it again for the boy...with some pictures along the way.

WARNING - Spoilers will follow, so if you are looking for a good solo adventure, definitely do yourself a favor and pick it up before reading on. I did allow the boy to play a Rogue as opposed to a warrior and will note where I have made some changes in the adventure. 

And away we go....this is how far we got in a few hours on the evening of 3/23/2014.

Character: the boy chose to play an Elven Rogue - after adjusting his stats based on the racial modifiers, his CON was reduced to a 7 while most of his other attributes increased. I randomly determined his starting spell  to be 'Knock-Knock'.

The adventure begins with the character on the run from a pack of wolves after previously being robbed and left for dead by bandits. Running for his life, the Elf sees a forlorn house in the distance. Rushing to the door, it is miraculously open and he is able to duck in and slam the door on one of the wolves on his heel. The only light in the room comes from the moonlight filtering in through the windows in the front of the house. The room has a open door to the right, a staircase leading to a second floor, closed doors to the left and under the staircase, and a table and chairs in the corner.

Looking out the window, the Elf sees the wolves pacing outside; waiting. Touching the doorknob to see if it is secure, it is cold to touch and takes 1 CON of damage. The door however is secure and he is unable to open it.

He proceeded to the room on the left which was filled with bookcases featured a pentagram drawn into the floor. Examining the books in the cases, most were falling apart and unreadable; either moldy and wet or scorched from heat. He did find one book that was intact and upon opening it, a creepy incorporeal Phantom popped out attempting to attack his mind. After successfully blocking the mind attack, the Phantom disappears leaving a book full of 1st level spells. The table in the corner had some various semi-valuable trinkets and a standard Dirk, but with no bag to carry anything in (I gave him a Lvl 2 SR vs LK to see if he could find a bag in the first two rooms). He kept the dirk as his weapon and the rest of the items were left on the table with the hope to come back for them.

Returning to the front room, the Elf checked the couch, only to be damaged again by a cloud of moldy dust and finding some gold for his trouble. Also in the couch was a handwritten note warning about being trapped in the house and supposing there has to be a key somewhere. He tried casting his 'Knock-Knock' spell on the door, but it remained magically closed.

The open door to the right led into a dining room with a candelabra on a large table, chairs, a large cabinet, a pile of debris with human bones littering the floor, and another door in the North wall. An investigation of the bones allowed for the deduction that they once belonged to two different people. A lucky SR also led to noticing a small amulet with a four leaf clover insignia. Not hesitating at all to wear the jewelry, the Elf now gets the benefit of +1 to all his SRs (while the amulet is worn). We called this the "Lucky Amulet". 

Turning his attention to the large cabinet and after checking for traps, the doors would not budge. He tried casting 'Knock-Knock', but the door was not locked, simply stuck. A successful Strength SR forced the doors open finding two vials of liquid - one red and one green. Chugging the red first gave him a STR point (supposed to be temporary, I just let him apply it permanently). Feeling lucky, he chugged the green as well which healed him and gave him another point of CON to his max (again, I let him make it permanent).

Leaving behind the door in the north wall and taking a closer look at the candelabra, he returned to the front room and check the staircase to the basement. It was pitch black and without a torch, he decided to close the door and climb the steps to the second floor. He still has not searched the fireplace or the table and chairs.

Note: I am not giving him all the options as they would be displayed in the adventure. I am describing the room and letting him choose what he wants to do.

Another Note: The boy is increasingly getting frustrated at me stopping the game to take pictures or running upstairs to get a cotton ball to try to represent the moldy dust cloud attack from the couch.

Up the stairs, there is a painting on the wall on the way up depicting a man in a room with bookcases standing in the middle of the pentagram. I think the boy picked up on this, but not sure.

At the top was a hallway with three doors and a rope hanging from the ceiling attached to a trapdoor. There is an open door to the right (east), a closed door to the north, and a large ornate door to the left (west). Deciding to pull the chain, a staircase drops down leading to the attic. 

Entering the attic, he sees a few chairs, a chest and in the corner a large spider web. He is immediately attacked by 3 spiders, fighting each one at a time (only one attacking each round, but rotating their attacks). He was able to hold his own with  superior combat adds compared to the individual spiders, but also took a number of Spite damage hits that again reduced him down to a few CON points.

(Fighting the spiders all at once would be certain death for a low level character, especially one with little or no equipment. Fighting them one at a time is still a challenge and the Spite damage really worked. The outcome of the fight was never in jeopardy, but the Spite really had its affect for the future of the adventure.)

Anticipating a trap, he checked and found one. After triggering the trap from the side, some darts shot from the front of the chest and landed harmlessly in the opposite wall. In the chest was a magical broad sword that was cold to the touch and granted double damage rolls and spite when fighting a heat based creature. We named the sword "Frosty".

A Note to the Note to the Note: I have allowed him to use his earned AP to increase his CON during any down time between rooms.

Returning to the landing, the Elf entered the room to the north which had a bed, a night stand, and a wardrobe. A successful DEX check prevented from plummeting to the room below when the weakened floor collapsed. The nightstand revealed some parchment revealing more details with the previous occupants of the house. The master of the house wants to summon something very powerful in return for eternal life and he will not listen to reason. The writer will attempt to stop him. Also in the nightstand are two rings, one gold and one silver. The silver ring required a CHR SR, but with a success granted +1 to all attributes while being worn. The gold ring provided no additional powers when worn. Searching the wardrobe revealed a serviceable doublet that could be used for body armor.

Turning his attention to the east room, he found more bookcases, a roll top desk, and a glass cabinet. Opening the desk resulted in a giant 3 foot centipede attempting to bite his hand; a successful SPD check avoided this. A quick and easy fight ensued, but a few more Spite points again left the Elf with only 1 CON point. He used his sword to search the rest of the desk, finding a nest of younger centipedes that were stamped and killed. A small pouch contained a few red gems and a journal was found - this one written by the master with is last entry detailing his plan to push forward with the plan and his disposal of his apprentice and friends who seem to just be in his way.

The bookcases reveal nothing magic but a few pricey tomes for the resale market. The glass cabinet held multiple items on multiple shelves. A helm added to his armor worn, a coin was made of platinum and worth 10 GP, and a small box with a mirror seemed to have no affect (successful SR). A black stone was heavy but provided a magical surge when held and on his person (1 WIZ bonus plus 1 per level when leveling up). Two figurines were left; one a jade beetle, the other was an ivory snake. Selecting the beetle first, it comes to life sinking its mandibles into his unprotected hand. With only 1 CON left, this would have killed him. I did allow him a Level 2 SR vs SPD which he barely made (applying his level bonus). He then angrilly defeated the small jade beetle in combat, very lucky not to get any Spite damage that would have definitely finished him off.

Technically, the solo should have claimed another victim, but I have let the boy get by. He wants to rest in the bedroom to get some CON back. When he awakes in our next session, there will be a roll on the random encounter table...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cool Kickstarter for my Stay Alive! Game

Yes, cardboard buildings are perfectly fine for the most part. However, having this type of product that is made of HDF, is paintable, and have interiors that can be used is a bit too much for me to resist.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Peryton Gamers at Gen Con 2014

The Peryton Gamers have been together and operating as a somewhat organized group for longer than I have been hanging with them. Last year, I volunteered to organize our events to maximize our ability to take advantage of the Gen Con policies on GM badges. Since Tom and Robin get Exhibitor badges, and I get my badge from the auction with all the hours I volunteer with them, we realized that the 3 of us ran enough games to earn GM badge credits that we did not utilize.

In 2013, we entered August with 22 registered events, most of which were sold out in event registration heading into the con. A last minute cancellation from one of our GMs reduced that number to 20.

2014 looks like we will once again hit 22 registered events. We have two new GMs this year (Tim and Randy), with Mike (Monk), Scott (Sligo), Tom, Robin, and myself returning for another go.

Check out the current list here: 2014 Peryton Gamers Event List

Sunday, February 23, 2014

BASH Con 2014: Goblins, Froggies, and Wolves Oh My!

Despite what Robin has to say, here is my phantasmagorical account of Bash Con 2014. Better late than never, and I do feel tardy.

This was the first year the Boy attended for the entire weekend. With his increasing interest in T&T via Kopfy's online games and our continued home games playing around with my Stay Alive! rules, he was very eager and excited to have 3 days of gaming. It is really all he talked about for about 2 weeks leading up to the weekend. The attendance at the convention seemed to be pretty consistent all weekend. I did not attend the auction games bazaar this year due to the fact that it has increasingly become a waste of time over the past few. More and more people seem to think it is funny to put in absurd and non-gaming related items while the convention staff do nothing to try to restrict or curb this. Alas - I guess I will be content with the Gen Con auction from here on out.

The exhibit hall are in the smaller end of the "T" section.
One half of the rest of the hall.
The only game of the night was Kopfy's annual T&T game and it did not start until 8pm. I picked the boy up from school and went back home to continue painting some miniatures and planning for my games on Saturday and Sunday. The Boy converted my old rain coat into his duster and had his cowboy hat ready to go for his attire. We arrived about an hour early knowing well enough from experience that registration at BASH Con can be hit or miss, normally "miss" but lately "hit".

Dan H was finally able to make the trek from southern Ohio and join us. Since Robin, the Boy, and I all have had the same characters for a few years now, I was concerned about Dan's character starting from scratch. More information on that game can be found on Kopfy's blog; no need to really just restate the finer points already covered. The map lead to a goblin lair that was promised to have some wealth to pilfer, but we were ambushed and taken captive. Robin's spell more than likely saved our arses by beguiling the goblin king enough to offer us a way out of being put on spits and roasted for dinner, unless gobbos like their meat raw and still squirming.

The most fun of the night was the setup revolving around a caravan guard that liked to brag about his amazing exploits who had a map to a treasure. The boy's character Curly pick pocketed the map after we provided the owner with plenty of free alcohol. After getting a good look at it, the group then tried to convince Curly to put the map back so the owner would be none the wiser, but he refused. Comedy ensued in the morning when the group heard the man wake up and storm down the stairs yelling about his missing map. Dan's character eventually convinced him to look in his room again and we finally got Curly to throw the map on the floor in the corner so it could be found.

Despite the Boy's adamant desires, I just wanted to get my tired arse home for some sleep knowing I needed to get up early to get miniatures and such together for my games on Saturday.

Got up early on Saturday to get my miniatures packed and jot down some final notes on my game in the AM which would be a variant on my 'Stay Alive! Gaslight, starting adventure, "The Gathering". The one nice thing I have found with running the same adventure multiple times for different groups is that I can try alternate scenarios in the base story to see which works best. The Gathering is based on a group of strangers traveling by train to Toledo where they are to meet a mysterious benefactor who is inviting them to join him and his larger group with the task of hunting monsters. The Boy played a roguish former outlaw character. Dan H was back and playing a NYC cop (much to the chagrin of the Boy whose outlaw became paranoid about the lawman) with some experience with the supernatural during his day job. Susie (I believe) was back from last year when she played in my zombie game. Her character's background with monsters was that her father had been mysteriously killed with no capture or evidence of his killer. She has learned in her dealings that the monsters exist and she had taken on the crusade to fight them.

This time around, the train was in the process of being robbed buy a group of bandits. Susie's character saw some mounted riders in the distance on horseback alongside the train with some extra horses. The boy was snooping around the train looking for the baggage car so he could do some thieving. He did find an American Army guarded car with a locked safe room. He was dense enough to keep asking questions to the point of almost being detained by the soldier. Dan picked up on the suspicious actions of two other gentlemen on the train. The train lurched as one of the outlaws on the train disappeared from the car and then reappeared having detached the last few cars from the rest of the train.

Dan quickly drew his sidearm and shot the 1st outlaw in the arm, then handcuffing him. The other began shooting it out with the Boy and Susie. The fight eventually drew in the other 2 outlaws on horseback, both the Boy and Susie climbing to the roofs of some cars to get better vantage points. One of the soldiers from the safe car was gunned down, but all the outlaws were captured or killed and eventually, they arrive in Toledo. The rest of the adventure involved another group of bad guys representing an opposing bad guy group taking over the benefactors mansion and attempting to capture and kill the players by making them believe they were the staff and man of the house. The did fight a Jeckyl/Hyde type creature I call the 'Mega-Man'.

I talked with Dan at length after the game as he was heading back to Athens right away. I had given him a copy of my Stay Alive Lite book while he gave me a copy of his House in the Hills. Lunch with fellow Toledoans Garry and Mike, along with Kopfy, Robin, The Boy, and Paul at Phoenicia. Lots of talk about tanks and guns and artillery that was lost on me for the most part. 

The afternoon game was Robin's Qalidar game where we continued an adventure that myself and Kopfy originally started at the Holiday Game Bash in December 2013. After the Boy, Paul, and Kopfy chose their characters, I unknowingly picked the same character I had in December. I guess I am drawn to characters that are good at long distance fighting. We portaled to another world where we were looking to continue the fight against and illegal organ trafficking organization. A few froggie looking guards were waiting on the other side and threatened us to go back the way we came. A firefight ensued with the froggie armor absorbing much of our attacks. We eventually dropped one and overwhelmed the other into surrendering, offering him a trip through the gate to avoid a bad fate from his employer for failure. The rest of the adventure we kind of bungled as we ignored all the clues to get more information in the town, found our way into the facility with stolen ID cards and subterfuge, and then wondered around until we alerted some guards and found ourselves trapped in a closet and having to fight our way back out of the building.

Dinner at the Phoenicia again after walking to the food court to find our only options were Subway or Magic Wok. Kopfy and I were both dragging and kind of dreading our evening games. Paul and the Boy were set to playing Kopfy's Crawlspace game. I had one player show up for my T&T game, so I decided to have him create a character then run him through Dan's 'House in the Hills' solo adventure. We spent a half hour creating his character and getting him equipped only to have him lose all his belongings at the start of Dan's solo. The character is waylaid by bandits and chased by wolves to a lonely but magically haunted house in the middle of nowhere. I plan on writing a full review of House in the Hills in a future edition of Meandering Monsters. This was Dan's first published solo and I think it was one of the best I have ever played for T&T. More importantly, the player liked the game and had said he hoped to return next year for our annual Friday night game. He meticulously recopied his updated character on a new character sheet after the adventure. He also picked up on the APs for T&T, jotting down his experience with every roll and taking any opportunity to level up an attribute when he could.

2nd Dinner was at Applebees with the Boy, Kopfy, Robin, and Paul. I am always happy when Red Dwarf is worked into a conversation. The Boy continued to profess his admiration for his fake 'Uncle Tom'. I ate far too much and once we got home, did not have the energy to unpack and get ready for the next morning's AD&D game.

My annual AD&D game was the normal crowd; no newbies or younger kids for the first time. Kopfy reprised his role as the werebear berserking Kraze, the Boy as his barbarian Lorian, Garry was back playing both halfling brothers Gill and his normal Bill, and Robin switched to a thief acrobat/mage. The adventure started with the group being attacked in a waterside bar by some old enemies, a faction of evil monks. Two evil looking wizards seemed to have bet on outcome. The monks were dipping and flipping with some added ninja evades that I gave them to be a bit more of a challenge. The leader type (we called him Lo Pan ala Big Trouble in Little China) was floating around and watching his minions until Robin decided to throw some magic missiles at him. Kopfy eventually charged his opponent, rolled a fumble on the attack, and awkwardly lost his balance running into the path of Lo Pan...then bear hugging him and tossing him into a hole in the bar that lead to the surf. I love it when the bad guys get away to fight another day.

Being a convention game, the party was offered an 'exorbitant' amount of money, half of which up front, to help one of the mages win a follow-up bet, which was to retrieve an item from a Frost Giant in distant frozen mountain range. They would be competing against another group more than likely hired by the other magey dude. They were given a magical dial that would allow them to group teleport to the mountain range and then one return trip.

My finished 'Remorhaz' miniature, from the Reaper Bones line.
Arriving on the mountain after a night's rest and such, the players immediately see their apparent destination: a cave mouth up a distance in the foothills. Seeing a blur of red in the snow ahead, investigation finds an eviscerated body of a barbarian, cleaved in two with only one half remaining. Some icy trails are also seen in the area around. On edge and on guard, the party are then attacked by a surfacing Remorhaz, or frost wyrm. The Boy and Kopfy charge in directly taking the fight to the wyrm. The halflings provided some support with ranged weapons while Robin continued her spell casting, but finding the beast's 75% MR a bit daunting. The beast was defeated and a few chunks were bitten out of both characters. The Boy did more damage, but Kopfy delivered the final blow: this was the source of the next scene with the two characters arguing over who killed the beast. Robin cast a 'Phantasmal Force' of a frost giant coming down the mountain which briefly distracted them. They soon continued their argument and eventually Garry had one of his halflings cast a hold spell on the Boy which proved successful.

A search of the wyrm's carcasse found a second body of the competing party in its belly, with some additional magical weapons and equipment gathered. The hold spell eventually wore off which prompted the two fighters to start arguing again. Robin and the halflings growing tired of the shtick progressed up the hillside toward the cave mouth. The halflings lead the way, both invisible and softly making their way up the slope. The heavier footsteps of Robin behind them alerted the Frost Giant hiding beneath the snow of their approach. He burst out of the snow bank with a boulder in hand. Robin landed hard, but right in front of the giant while the halflings rolled down the hill to relative safety. A boulder flung and skipping heavily off of the Boy's shoulder finally broke the fighters from their argument and they both advanced on the new threat.

Quickly, Robin used her Dimension Door (psionic) to move directly behind the giant on the cave's ledge. She cast a Slow spell on the giant, but then realized that behind her was another icy breath - a large ice troll. With the giant now at her back, she cast another illusion spell that successfully kept the troll in a distracted trance, but it required her undivided attention to keep it in place. If the giant turned on her, she would be vulnerable. The giant however focused his attention on the charging fighters, both racing to see who would be the one to take the credit for killing the giant. Even with the brute strength and a large sword at his disposal, the Slow spell cast by Robin and the two fighters proved to be too much for the large man to handle. After the giant fell, the rest of the group noticed Robin's pyrotechnic display and rushed up the slope and quickly dispatched the troll, eventually burning the beast so that it could not regenerate.

Into the cave as the game ended, a chained baby white dragon was found, eagerly trying to get at the tied and bound 3rd member of the opposing band of adventurers. The item that was being retrieved was a withered and magical hand of legend, that of the wizard Vecna. Garry's halfling immediately tried to douse the hand with a flammable liquid and set it on fire, but it had no affect. Knowing full well the evil power they now possessed, they started talking about how and where to destroy it. 

We will pick up next year right where we have left off.

Arrangements were made to meet up for lunch, Garry and his friend from his writing group joining us at a Mexican place. The Boy asked Kopfy what 'PACCIO' stood for in Spanish. We had a good laugh at that one. Good company and fun discussions about games and conventions and soccer and such ensued.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gaslight - New Miniatures

Painting miniatures consistently has unfortunately become a lesser priority for me as I continue to try to push out releases for Darkshade Publishing and run games for the kids. In our most recent game it became apparent that my stock of painted 19th Century type miniatures are lacking.

I did go through a faze a few years back where I was running Rippers, which is a Gaslight/Victorian Horror campaign setting originally designed for the Savage Worlds system. The original adventures I wrote/ran for those games are the inspiration for my current Stay Alive! Gaslight game, removing the specific hooks that were original to the Rippers setting.

I dug out some miniatures that I bought and had stored away. Blue Moon Manufacturing have some wonderful products for this type of setting. If you are interested, these are the ones that I would recommend for Gaslight, although most of their 28mm ranges look really good.
They also have lines for Gangsters, Sherwood, and Swashbucklers - lines that are really good with matching to many television or movie properties and ideas.

So the boy had a few days of from school after the weekend (Jan 27-30, 2014) and went on a painting rampage with what I pulled out and put on 30mm bases. He did a really good job - I did take care of the eyes and the buttons, but he did everything else on these miniatures.

We finish our miniatures with Army Painter's 'Quickshade', apply the basing, and then end with a non-gloss protective spray.

And this is what I am working on currently for BASH Con ... hoping to get them finished this weekend. Mostly just have some base coats done so far.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Glowing in a Wasteland

There are so many influences when considering a scenario or campaign for a post-apocalyptic wasteland setting. My first thought always leads to Mad Max and the struggle of the leftover civilians against the warriors that have yielded to the new way of violence and brutality.

More so though, I lean towards the incredible Grendel comics by Dark Horse in the 90's, especially the "Grendel Tales" that depicted competing tribes of Grendel followers and the Grendel Prime cyborg that was sent to protect the young leader to be a la Terminator 2 (T2 1991, Grendel War Child 1992 - but Comico's bankruptcy delayed the publishing of the Grendel series). Matt Wagner is my all time favorite comic book creator, so I am a bit biased. The world he created that was then expanded in the Tales comics by different creators continues to amaze.

Both of these primarily deal with the human v human dynamic, although the Grendel series did introduce an underlining story regarding vampires as major enemies of society that helped bring down the leftover catholic church leadership and would become the scourge of the Grendel Tribes, when not fighting each other.

Still thinking on this I guess...