Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Classic Modules Today

In February I signed on to this project to offer 1e D&D modules converted to 5e rules. I thought it would give me an opportunity to learn how 5e differed from the rules as I was used to them. +Stan Shinn was the organizer of the this project and not only has it given me an opportunity to review with new appreciation the old modules I first enjoyed it has forced me to learn how to do basic formatting, editing and layout with some of the simple word processing tools out there. These exercises have helped me sharpen up my cheap USR publications I have released on RPGNow and there is a long way to go before I think I have decent enough documents to start offering print copies, but it has been fun participating in the OSR exchange of goods.

It also exposed me to bad reviews, and yeah they feel like shit. But there has been more positive reviews and it seems there are many DM's out there who have found value in these conversion guides. Here is the latest one and it sure helps me push on through to complete my current assignments; EX1 and EX2!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Bearded Trees and Stone Barrows for your OSR game

Memory eaten away by time leaves who the terrible kings of old buried in the Stone Barrows were and what made their reign so terrible, but what is certain is the promise of unspoilt wealth to be won for those who can win their way into their cold crypts.
Why has the speculative wealth of these ancient kings lain untouched over these long years? Why have those who've braved the silent peaks of the Wadzo Nano-Tassis never returned from their sojourns? Is it true the dead kings jealously guard their old wealth and steal the souls of those who dare climb to their last resting place? 

There are several deadly horrors which make summiting the Wadzo Nano-Tassis perilous for adventurers lured to the Stone Barrows found on top. Any approach through the heavily forested flanks of the range requires travel through the Flenn, a perpetually mist shrouded forest. Beneath this thick sheaf of impenetrable gloom are found the Bearded Trees.

The Bearded Trees of Flenn are attracted to the breath of the living. At night the green mossy growth which clings to the damp dark branches detach and propel themselves to nearby living beings. Seeking the breath of the living the light web of moss fastens onto the source releasing a paralysing toxin. Rapidly growing the green "beard" rapidly expands into the lungs of its host, suffocating the victim. A soft phosphorescent glow throbs regularly while the beard feeds throughout the night. By the time noonday sun filters feebly through the ever present fog the victim has disappeared beneath the newly forming mass of moss. Within a month a new tree will have sprouted. Within six months the new tree will cast drifting beards of its own each damp night under the mist shrouded canopy of Flenn. The DM should mention during daytime travel that there is a complete absence of wildlife within the forest. 

The Bearded Trees of Flenn for BFRPG
AC: 14/17 for floating beards.
HD: 3 (for the tree itself. Each drifting beard can take 4 hit points of damage before it is rendered inert).
Number of Attacks: special (at night only); 
Damage: special (save vs. paralysis for three rounds in a row); from drifting beards. A failed roll results in paralysis for twelve hours. Must be destroyed within three rounds or the victim will be suffocated by the beards growing inside and shutting down the lungs and infecting the brain with toxins. The drifting beards must make contact with skin to cause damage. Keeping oneself completely clothed will offer protection as any beard which latches onto a live beings face that is protected will turn brown, brittle and slide off within three rounds. 

Once reaching the wind torn heights finding, let alone entering the subterranean tombs of ancient kings, adventurers will have to contend with a lunar cycle which will allow entry. 

For three nights surrounding the arrival of the new moon giant lizards will issue forth from the barrows themselves. Moving the huge blocks of stone which plug the entrance with their ridiculously strong tongues the Rock Lizards seek the dew and moisture which regularly coat the granite peaks. If there happens to be a rain storm when the prehistoric beasts emerge they will appear as in a stupor with their large jaws open and long tongues lax on the ground. After an hour the beasts will come out of their daze and return below, pulling the blocks back into place. Otherwise the lizards will remain on the summit sponging up moisture for at least four hours. In that case the Rock Lizards will be aware of and disturbed by the presence of the adventuring party and will move to attack.

 Rock Lizards of the Stone Barrows
 Number Appearing: 3-6
AC: 15
HD: 7
Number of Attacks: 1 of 3 types
Damage: from bite 2D10, from trample 2d8, and tail 2d6. 

With the lizards dead or dazed in a rainstorm a party of adventurers will find it easy to enter the stone barrows and descend into the unexplored depths. 

Only the Shrouded know of the Rock Lizards habits but for some reason never dare enter the stone barrows. They are an unknown race of beings which can be found only in the mist shrouded forest of Flen. Possibly an alien race which arrived in the world with the bearded trees, they live in symbiosis amongst the horrid woods. Abroad during the day clothed in elaborate suits composed of woven tree fiber the Shrouded harvest moss and bark for their dwellings and food. They nurture moss gardens in ravines carved by burbling streams winding down the slopes of the Wadzo Nano-Tassis. Camouflaged beneath stripped and limbed trees only the sound of flowing water will generally indicate the presence of inhabited structures below. At night these secret dwellings may be spotted by the fluorescent moss which they use for illumination. What moves these alien settlers to treat with interlopers, who knows? There are very few who even know of their existence and they prefer to keep it that way.

The Shrouded
Number Appearing: 3-18 abroad in the forest. Many more live within several "cities" within the forest
AC: 14
HD: 2
Number of Attacks: 1
Damage: from Spears and Stone Axes 1D8, from Paralytic Dart Guns save vs. Paralysis or be paralyzed for four hours.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Anthropomorphic USR beta

Here is the current version of the rules. Need to finish with an equipment list and an introductory adventure before it is released in the wild.

Please take advantage of this free beta version and kick back some feedback when you get a chance.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Review Undercroft #7

The OSR has spewed forth the best reflex action towards startling talent with the curdled froth of independent zines. The turgid underground of free thought every child learned to articulate with a Tonka Truck in one hand and a headless GI Joe doll in the other on top of a sun soaked sandbox is given free reign with the current OSR zine scene.

I dipped my financial toes in the water very selectively. These selections were Vacant Ritual Assembly #4  and The Undercroft #7. They just felt the most punk rock, to me, at the time.

The most important quality of a zine for myself is there is "stuff" I can use immediately at the table with a flick of a page. No lead in, no boxed text, just an immediacy of game content felt personable, new and ready to go.

Which is kind of contradictory on its face; looking for original content that is quickly grasped and made useful? Do I ask too much? Apparently not.

Both zines met my illogical desires and demands plus more.

Undercroft came in a hand-made envelope with a secret stamp while the zine itself was embellished with flecks of red ink, fingermarks, the impression of someone bleeding to death on the pages. I think I was all in for less than seven bucks to have this bizarrely personal piece of game artifact delivered to my mailbox on any given Tuesday from across the world. Art and presentation are the stand outs from this zine. The content is a bit iffy, but it passed the immediacy test with the last article containing a must have NPC. There is nothing more valuable to  me as a GM than a useful NPC. Not that I used Old Sigvor in toto, just that it gave an intended villain another face, more depth than I would have otherwise presented. The other articles and tables in the zine will be useful in their time, but I really enjoyed holding this brutally wrought gift in my hand.

Vacant Ritual Assembly #4 doesn't have the same level of dirty handed elegance but the pages are brimming with useful content. The front cover art is awesome. That wanky line art is just the right kind of loose scribble which sparks ideas in my game head. Very Traveller or Gamma World. I pulled a dream trance setting for a Sword & Sorcery campaign from its slim pages. A whole druidic battle cult race religion was available fully formed from its pages which inspired a Dying Earth BFRPG setting. I needed a lotus den for my then running Sword & Sorcery campaign and well the zine had that too. All in all promising adversaries devised "through a terrifying cosmos of adventure-gaming psychedelia." was well articulated in less than twenty two pages.

If this level of accomplishment is routinely being delivered by the myriad of OSR zines currently available then table top rpg'ers are indeed in the middle of a renaissance which will take decades to unravel and appreciate.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Thermal Factors

I spent my recent vacation in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. With every exploration into the wilderness I game it out. Yellowstone National Park is remarkable for the thermal features. Sure you have the vast plains, dramatic waterfalls and idyllic grassy meadows, but the warning signs are thrown up for the scalding hot water which just erupts out of the earth.

So the next time your B/X party of adventures are striding across the wasteland unimpeded have the ground they walk on start to erode their foot gear. Three days in and the PC starts taking damage, to their feet. Let them do the calculation. "But I can't survive the march out" if I'm takng damage from just walking.

Don't surprise the players. That is just shit GM'ing. But give them an inclination of  the slow degradation of foot gear. Any asshat of a PC will pay attention to it.

Which leads to the next question; when is it appropriate to introduce a waste land to characters. Only after they have picked a marching order!

Anyways I'm thinking 1 point of damage a day until protection is achieved or environment is left.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

I should have ran

but I decided two players wasn't enough. I don't think I have the chops to keep a small crowd entertained. Pretty soon you are down to one person and then you are in a relationship. I have one of those, It is work. RPG's are a chance to sit at the counter and kibitz with the lunch crowd.

But it is better than that. After a couple of sessions you get to see who sits at the front of the class, They want to play and as a GM you lovingly set up the pieces because they are nothing but dreams until another puts their hands on the table.

No one is herding cats here. But the most success I have had with running a game online is with a firm theme, regular set times, and being at the virtual table as the host ready to go.
So when I cancel a session I am seriously conflicted. Even if one person shows up shouldn't I run the session?

I've always decided no because I think a table top RPG runs best with three players minimum. That is one GM and three players. So four. With three PC's gaming the GM has some of the session work lifted off their shoulders because the group of players are going to start creating and carrying adventure ideas. So as a GM I get to start playing more. Less script, more random tables, and more riffing off of cause and effect being driven by the players.

I've had some really good two player sessions. But for regular campaign play I see three players essential to carrying the story.