Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Graphic Banner!

Check it out! I have a banner! With Pig-Faced Orcs!

Just wrapping up a few things at work and I'll be off until 2011. Hopefully, I'll get a couple more posts in before the end of the year, though.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

D&D Gamma World (AKA the new edition)

My every other week, Tuesday night group wrapped up the Gamma World adventure earlier this evening. I've mentioned the game on here before, but to recap, the DM, Dave, ran the adventure in the back of the rule book. We played through all the encounters over the course of 3-evenings. At the end of the session tonight, we had just hit 3rd level. None of the PCs have died yet, but most of us have had to make a death save or two. All 5 of the players have over 2 years of experience playing 4e D&D, so all the mechanics of the game came pretty naturally.

A few comments? Sure...We all had fun, as far as I can tell. The combats didn't seem to drag as much as what we were experiencing with late heroic and early paragon tier 4e D&D. Everything does a lot more damage, so it's easier to kill things fast (and potentially easier for PCs to die, too). The adventure, which Dave ran pretty close to the book, was fun. Basically we entered the crazy warehouse and stopped the baddies from building a robot army. Honestly, I think this edition of Gamma World is pretty great. It's got all the tactical finesse of modern D&D without getting too bogged down. I truly wish 4e came out a little more like this game.

It's been said already, but I'll just put it out there again...If you HATE 4e outright, no matter what, you probably aren't going to like this game. If you have some unnatural attachment to earlier editions of the game and feel that any updating should be a crime, you probably aren't going to like this game. If you hate "goofy" and/or "random" crap happening constantly, you probably aren't going to like this game. If you hate fun, you probably aren't going to like this game. If you are a munchkin or powergamer, you might not like this game.

Personally, I still like 4e for what it is, I've never actually played an earlier edition (but I want to), I love when goofy and or random crap happens if appropriate, I like fun, and I'm not a munchkin, so I like this game....a lot.

For anyone playing or interested in playing D&D Gamma World, there are a couple of cool things out on the web to check out.
  • WoTC released a FREE character generator. It has all the possible mutations for both the core rules and the Famine in Far-go expansion. Character generation was already pretty fast, but this made it a snap!
  • Critical Hits has unleashed the Junkulator on an unsuspecting world. The Junkulator should work just fine for any edition of the game. Essentially, random junk makes up a lot of the treasure in a Gamma World game. It's up to the player to figure out how to use a wireless mouse, remote control, or a portable table saw in the game. The Junkulator pulls junk for your game from a random list of nearly 900 objects compiled from all editions of GW and its supplements! Wicked. Very wicked.

A couple of nifty OSR "Toys"

Hey cool...I'm up to a dozen followers! Thanks folks!

There are a couple mega-cool things that popped up recently on blogs I read.  Meatshields! The Classic Fantasy Hirelings & Henchmen Generator allows DMs to make simple cannon fodder for their old school campaigns. The DM enters the size of the location, either village/small town or large town/city. For 5 gp, the players can The players can even choose to give an extra 5 gp to the town crier to get some extra (and I assume somewhat better) applicants. The example below gives the general idea of the output.

Name Type Race HP Sex Weapon Armor Alignment Background Possessions & Knowledge Notable Features
Samix Torch-Bearer Human 2 M Dagger None Neutral Mercenary Nothing Unwashed
Ulmyr Torch-Bearer Human 2 M Dagger None Neutral Failed Apprentice Mage Nothing Yellow teeth
Balgar Man-at-Arms Human 5 M Spear, Dagger Leather Neutral Failed Tradesman Nothing Pudgy
Beyda Man-at-Arms Human 4 F Spear, Dagger None Neutral Street Thug Nothing None
Corgard Torch-Bearer Human 4 M Dagger None Neutral Beggar An ink pot Hook for a Hand
Worford Man-at-Arms Human 2 M Club, Dagger Leather Chaos Escaped Slave Nothing None
 Notes for the DM:
The two most commonly recruited hirelings are:
  • Non-combatant humans who serve as torch-bearers, porters, potion-testers, door-spikers, etc. Suggested rate of pay: 5sp/day.
  • Zero-level human men-at-arms. Suggested rate of pay: 1gp/day.
In rare instances, the party may also recruit:
  • Zero-level demi-human (dwarf, elf, or halfling) men-at-arms. Suggested rate of pay: 3gp/day.
  • First level human henchmen (fighter, cleric, or magic-user). Suggested rate of pay: 1/3 share of employer's treasure.
Anyway, check it out. Pretty simple and a lot of fun. I'll definitely be using it for the Swords & Wizardry White Box game whenever appropriate.

Another cool OSR thing to play around with is the Weird Things in Rooms (d100) Random Table that popped up on Beyond the Black Gate yesterday. Lots of fun stuff on there to drive those players that assume everything in a room has to be there for a reason right up the proverbial  wall. Seriously. Dump this stuff in some room with no reason for them to be there and somebody will spend half the game session trying to figure out what they need to do with it.

Here's a couple examples to wet your whistle:
  • 3. A large stone wheel set on one wall, clicks when turned.
  • 14. One wall has been painted to look like three windows looking out into a lovely garden.
  • 33. Seven fluffy orbs of light dance and float in the air of this room, remaining ever beyond your reach.
  • 70. A mannequin stands in one corner wearing a surcoat made from fresh meat.
Just to be fair to your players, make sure you make these random rolls right before they enter room, so you have to be on your toes, too!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Swords & Wizardry White Box game report

Well, I guess I'm one step closer to being a complete and "official" member of the Old School Renaissance. At least that is my opinion. I felt like I was just on the edge of the OSR chasm. I have PDFs of Labyrinth Lord, Mutant Future, and Swords & Wizardry. I own the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role Playing box set and the Swords & Wizardry White Box box set. I've played convention games of LotFP and Labyrinth Lord convention games. I'm playing in two Labyrinth Lord campaigns at GASP Games Day. I write about OSR games, at least occasionally, on this blog. Off the top of my head, I can come up with 3 major gaps in my participation in the OSR. I needed to DM a game, design a mega-dungeon and publish something....anything...for someone else to use at their table.

Sunday evening I DMed/Refereed my first OSR game, checking one of my gaps off the list. We used Swords & Wizardry White Box. I selected White Box for a couple reasons. First, I had ordered the third printing of the S&W White Box from Brave Halfling and wanted to try it out. I hadn't played any of the S&W flavors and this seemed like as good of an opportunity as any. Second, I was looking for something rules-light. I was going to have 7 people around the table. Only two of them had played any of the retro-clone games. Three of the players had very limited experience with table top RPGs. The last two are more familiar with the more modern flavors of D&D. I wanted this to play as sort of a "beer & pretzels" style RPG. I figured it was unlikely that most of them would actually read the rule book (a correct assumption, from what I can tell). I wanted something where the players are open to "try anything" and I could make a ruling without having to check through a million rules. Finally, I just wanted to run one of them funky OSR games. I've been reading the blogs and buying/downloading some of the product, so I just need to check it out first hand.

I got together with the players and we rolled up characters. 3d6 straight for the stats. They then picked class, based on those rolls. I did let them start with max hit points at level one, because I was kind of nervous about how deadly the dungeon might be. As it turns out, it was plenty deadly...more on that later.

The Characters / Players -- 
Logthark the Oxford - Magic User, played by Ed
Meruus - Cleric, played by Brad replaced by Teruus, Cleric
"Dutch" Elmsplitter - Dwarf, played by Allen
Arum Vulgare - Cleric, played by Gina
Lorch - Magic User, played by Ben
Filthy - Halfling, played by Dave replaced by ???, ???
Angus Longshank - Fighter, played by Curt

Play Report
The party had left their home land of Syrtaff many days ago, traveling to Moseen. There are many rumors of great treasures in the hills and mountains of Moseen. Unfortunately, very few who travel to the region seemed to ever return to Syrtaff. They must have found their fortune and were living like kings....right?

The party consists of the seven listed about, plus a few other adventurers (OOC -- potential PCs in the case of character death), a torchbearer named Rais (NPC), two mules, and their handler (NPC). 

The journey to Moseen has been tough, and, in truth, more than the party bargained for. The weather has been uncooperative and the maps have been inaccurate, to say the least. They were running short on supplies, and from the look of the storms on the horizon, in dire need of some solid shelter for the evening. As luck would have it, the party has spotted an ancient outpost on the crest of a hill in the distance and hastily made their way towards it.

After arriving at the the outpost, they discovered the upper levels mostly abandoned, but there were a few signs of recent activity, particularly a couple of underfed wolves held in the stables. Surviving the wolf attack, and few other tricks and traps (included a chest that left Filthy and Logthark temporarily blinded), the party was able to find a couple passage ways into deeper levels. 

Meruus was not quite so lucky in the second combat of the session, as he was swarmed by giant rats. After just a couple well placed bites, the young cleric was bleeding out. The party called for his brother, Teruus, but alas, it was too late. The priest had passed on...Teruus took up his holy symbol and joined the party. 

After discovering another secret passage that led to an even lower level, the party came across 4 goblins guarding a hallway. Unfortunately, where there are 4 goblins, there are often more goblins in waiting. 12 additional goblins poured out of nearby rooms to join the battle. Lorch was able to charm one of the creatures and Logthark put many of the others to sleep. Again, unfortunately, the brave little (and scummy) halfling was still surrounding, and eventually cut down, by the monsters. 

At this point, we called it a night. There is still much to explore in the dungeons below the outpost, but that is another story for another time.

I was using the module The Outpost on the Edge of the Far Reaches, which I found online. I liked that it was a nice generic dungeon with a nice variety of monsters and treasures. I wrote up a few notes, but kept the intro as short as possible. I wanted to imply a bit of setting without spending any time developing it. I was presenting the game as a one-shot, with the potential for future adventures, so I didn't want to put too much into back story. I think what I came up with leaves the game open enough for sandbox style adventuring for the future.

As I expected, combat was quite deadly. Meruus the Cleric dropped dead after two rat bites in the second fight. Filthy the halfling was felled by a pair of goblins with short swords. Even with max hit points at first level (6 or 7 depending on class), a single swipe from a sword was enough to kill a character. I had a few characters I had created to practice rolling up, so Meruus dubbed my example cleric Teruus, and decided he was his twin brother. We wrapped the game after Filthy died, so I'm not sure what Dave is going to do for the next session.

The players took to the abstract combat and d6 based initiative pretty well. A couple of the players said they preferred it to the more concrete tactical combat of 3rd/4th edition. They felt that the cinematic quality was much more in line with the rest of the game, rather than feeling like a tactical wargame with some RP stuff tacked on to it. In general, I tried my hardest to present information about a room and let them go at it. Sometimes that was pretty challenging. There is a balance between providing enough information to pique a players interest and just giving everything away. I think learning that balance will come with more practice.

I was curious to see how players handled some of the standard "let the thief/rogue find the trap/pick the lock" type things, since I was running with just the 6 basic class/race options. It worked pretty well. I ruled some doors/locks could be pried open with a crowbar or bashed down and others would just require a key (or the discovery of another, possibly secret, entrance). The players seemed to accept that and there were no arguments.

The thing I found most challenging was being descriptive enough with the rooms. The players were doing their own mapping. Some of them clearly didn't care and were just bouncing from room to room. Others wanted to get it documented. Again, finding the balance was a challenge, but I think we will be able to overcome those challenges with more practice/experience.

Everyone was pretty excited about the session and wanted to continue, so I'll be scheduling another game in the near future. I think the set-up I have so far will allow for fairly casual play which should be fun for all involved. I'm excited to see where this all goes. I'll definitely keep the blog updated with additional updates.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Being Busy

Well, I'm certainly not keeping up with the blog with the same ferocity I did during the Daily Blog Challenge. I suppose that is to be expected. I didn't set any hard deadlines for myself or anything. Honestly, I'd probably rather be gaming or working on something game related than writing about games, at least right now. Plus, I post on a couple message boards, so that gives me some lower commitment opportunities to write about gaming experiences (and often provides nearly instant feedback)...

So I said I was busy, right? Well I've played 6 RPG session in 4 days this week. Saturday was GASP Games Day, which I wrote up last Sunday. Sunday, the 3.5 Ravenloft game resumed. Unfortunately, for the third session in a row, 3 of the players weren't able to make it. The three of us that did make it soldiered on and advanced the plot, though. Monday, I played in a grinder of a 3.5 Forgotten Realms game. My poor rogue was getting destroyed. I tried to design him as more of thug/brute than a sneaky type (he's got 2 levels of fighter and 6 of Rogue), but he was getting hammered on. I think he took nearly 200 points of damage over the night and was down/dying once or twice. Ouch. Tuesday we played Call of Cthulhu. We're still working through Masks of Nyarlathotep.

This weekend, I'll be running my first OSR game. It's going to be a one-shot that may lead to more sessions, depending on how it goes. The game is going to be made up of 3 guys from my usual Tuesday night game, another gamer friend with a lot of experience with new and old editions of the game, and 3 total novices. Two of them haven't played any RPGs in over 10 years and had pretty limited experience then. The third has never played anything, ever. I wanted to keep everything loose and light on rules, so we'll be using Swords & Wizardry White Box. I'm going to run a dungeon I found online called "The Outpost on the Edge of the Far Reaches". Since at least a couple of the players read this, I'm not going to give away any info. I know they're good and won't spoil it for themselves.

For the game system, I thought about using Labyrinth Lord or LotFP, but White Box is so stream-lined, it just seemed like a good fit. I want to save LotFP for my regular Tuesday night crew. Depending on how this goes, I may run a future one-shot with Labyrinth Lord or S&W Core, to see if people like a slightly more advanced system.

I am limiting to the 3 base classes and races -- Fighter, Cleric, Magic User, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. Players are going to roll their stats 3d6 straight. I've already come up with a few simple house rules to fill in the intentional gaps in the system, and I'm excited to see what I'm going to have to rule on the fly. All the combat is going to be abstract. We're not going to worry about minis or tactics or anything. I'm even going to try to get them to map the dungeon on their own, just using my descriptions. None of us are used to playing this style of gaming, so hopefully it goes okay. I want to have a little bit of culture shock for the people at the tabe, with out putting them off from old style play.

I'm really curious to compare the play style of the completely new person to the people that have been spending a lot of time playing newer editions of the game. Are the regulars going to get tripped up by the lack of skill system? You'll notice, I am running the version without the Thief class. I'm excited to see how they handle those locked doors and trapped passageways without somewhere there who can just roll a couple dice to "fix" it.

Anyway, I think I'm ready to do this. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I was a bit nervous. Running this kind of game seems like a significantly different experience than what I'm used to. I think I'm going to do just fine, but the unknown element always adds some jitters (and excitement). I'll be back with a full report on how it goes and probably some notes on the S&W White Box and the adventure.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

GASP Games Day Report

I attended GASP Games Day for the second time yesterday, a local gaming group. Games Day usually happens the second Saturday of each month. There is open board gaming, minis gaming, CCGs, and RGP sessions. To find out what's happening or learn more, I recommend the GASP Forum, where there are sections for each type of game and discussion threads. As Games Day approaches, people usually start organizing events.

Since I'm primarily interested in RPGs, I jumped in a couple extra games. I joined a DragonLance game that is using the Labyrinth Lord rules. Since there was some open time slots due to cancellations, someone offered to run a Gamma World (new edition) game that I jumped in on, and the second session of the Darves Hill Labyrinth Lord Campaign.

I joined the DragonLance Campaign because I was hoping to get at least one more regular game in at Games Day. To be honest, I was most interested in it because it's being run with Labyrinth Lord. I'm not really familiar DragonLance. I know the basics of the setting, but I've never read the novels or anything. As it turns out, we're actually playing characters from the original trilogy (I'm playing the barbarian/plainsman Riverwind) and playing through the novel's story. Kind of a different playing style from what I'm used to, but the group is good and the DM is letting us solve the scenarios as we see fit. I plan on sticking with it, unless something really intriguing shows up in the first slot.

RPGA ended up canceling this weekend, so there were a bunch of open spaces in the RPG pod. I don't have any interest in RPGA style gaming, so somebody else's loss is my gain. One of the other GASP members threw a Gamma World game together. I'm really liking this new edition for mini-campaigns and one-off sessions. The GM had picked up the new Famine in Far-Go expansion, and we were able to try out the new mutations. I ended up rolling a Seismic Plagueweilder name Dirty Girt. I mostly bashed the enemies with a piece of concrete covered re-bar. I think everyone at the the table was having fun. It's a nice little system, and even though parts of it can be a bit fiddly, it's pretty simple over all.

Finally, the reason I got involved with GASP, the Darves Hill Megadungeon. We did get a third player, who rolled up a Cleric with a Dwarf retainer. The party of 6 headed back to the hill to continue the exploration. Unfortunately, we met with a bit of tragedy. In the very first building we entered, we were attacked by a mutated skeleton. The new cleric made quick work of it, but a bunch of bugs rose up out of the soil. In befitting Old School style, one bite to the poor sickly Tyrvand Dedsoon, my magic user retainer, was enough to take him down. Dead.
Tyrvand Dedsoon RIP.

You were the first Dedsoon to ever leave the confines of Nahm and return in one piece, even if it was only two days. He will be remembered by his kin and stories will circulate through the Dedsoon clan, telling of the brave adventurer Tyrvand, who died of a bug bite. 
I rolled a new character. I was hoping for stats for another Magic User, but the dice weren't cooperating. I ended up making a fighter named Targ. He wears chainmail and swings a heavy pick. He worked out pretty well. We solved a strange musical puzzle, defeated another half-demon, and discovered some other crazy hidden clues about the history of the temple at Darves Hill.

Unfortunately, I'm going to miss out on the next session at GASP, as I'll be in San Diego for the American Library Association Conference. I'll definitely be heading back for the February date, though. Great fun. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lamentations of the Flame Princess Sale

LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-PlayingThis is just an announcement:

All of the PDFs James Raggi offers via RPGnow are is on sale for 1 euro or about $1.34 American.

More information here!

This includes the Lamentations of the Flame Princess box set, all the adventures he's written, and all the issues of Green Devil Face. I already own all of them in print, but I recommend them for anyone interested in some innovative OSR related stuff. I'm tempted to buy the PDF version of the box set, just to have it all in the PDF format. Check it out.

Post-DBloC Update

Well....I'm back. I survived a month full of posting and needed a little down time, but after a little less than a week, I'm back in the swing of things. I was further delayed as I needed to finish up some record reviews for the zine I write for, Short, Fast & Loud.

I was hoping to have a bit more to post about this evening. I was supposed to have my 3.5 Forgotten Realms game with Tim Robes DMing, but one of the players pulled a no-show. It wouldn't have been that big of a deal, but it was supposed to be his last game for a while, as he is studying abroad next semester. The whole evening was supposed to be dedicated to his character. Not sure what happened, but it was a let down for sure. We did get a  few rounds of Zombie Dice in before calling it a night.

I hit the Steel City Toy and Comic Convention this weekend. I have never attended before and wasn't sure what to expect. It was sort of like a combination nerd flea market/convention. A lot of the stuff there was pretty junky, but it was fun walking around checking everything out. That said, I didn't really find much of interest. As far as collectibles go, I don't really care about action figures, most comics, Star Wars/Star Trek stuff, Barbies, trading cards, or other knick-knacks and doo-dads. I was hoping for some old-school gaming supplies and maybe some horror/exploitation film stuff. There were a couple booths selling horror merch including DVDs, VHS, and magazines, but with the holidays quickly approaching, I refrained from buying anything. I did find a few gaming supplies, but not much. One guy had a box of Palladium and Rolemaster stuff, but none of the core books. Another guy have a few 3e books and a few other odds and ends. I did talk to a guy selling a bunch of old TSR board games, including a first edition of Dungeon!, but everything was a bit out of my price range. I picked up a couple sets of Game Science dice, because he was selling them for cheap. I also found the first Buffy Season 8 trade for $5, and I got to see Wrestling Legend Bruno Sammartino and TNA Knockouts Velvet Sky and Angelina Love, plus Lou Ferigno, Richard Kiel, and Priscilla Barnes. I saw some cool Planet of the Apes toys, but I decided that I needed another thing to collect like I needed a hole in my head. There were a bunch of people in (mostly Star Wars) costumes walking around, which was entertaining. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon for sure. I'll probably be back for the spring show in March.

Lots of gaming in store for the rest of the week. Session 2 of Gamma World is tomorrow. If everything goes as planned, we should hit second level by the end of the game session. Saturday is GASP Games Day, where I'll be playing in a Labyrinth Lord Megadungeon campaign. I'm still only signed up for one RPG. I was hoping to get in on another session, but right now nothing is jumping out at me. Hopefully in 2011, there will be some other games of interest. I might contact the GM for the other Labyrinth Lord game to see if he has seats. I know I have to miss the January Games Day, because I'll be out of town, so I may just hold off until February and see if anything new is offered. Sunday is the return of the Team Evil Ravenloft game. Monday, I might be trying to do the make-up session for the failed 3.5 game from tonight. Tuesday should be another Call of Cthulhu game. Brutality. Very excited.

Anyway, I just wanted to get back in the swing of things and make a post on here. More from me soon.