Best Selling

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Death Frost Doom Session Report #1

I always tell myself to just breath easy, take a moment before speaking, and try not to freeze up when there is much I must respond to immediately and anticipate its “logical” reaction in real time. There is nary a session I have not been freaked out at some point during play. The freak out goes something like this: What do I do? What do I do? What do I do? What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?

So if I am spinning out while running Death Frost Doom I conclude it must be me and not the published module. Maybe I can’t run these “awesome” adventures effectively? This is all rubbish of course. The only struggle, and I have had it before, is good old-fashioned page flipping during the game. If I get caught going back through my game material (mine or others) I start to unwind.

That is the other benefit of recording the game sessions. I make shit up that is not true in my head and believe it. Being your own worst critic. Little voices in your head...

The session was no better or no worse than any other. The PCs were wary, concerned and fearful of the place, but pushed on, nonetheless. The interesting moments of the session were player initiated. Any bad form I could find was having to do more retcon with the PCs than I usually must or desire. Retcon, my advice, get over it. Now if you want to find an indicator, some mark you have become a Dungeon Master master it is simple you never ever have to retcon during your campaign, Ever! This is clearly not possible, but I like it as a metric. The less I retcon the better all of us at the table are doing as far as attention and engagement are concerned.

Change of pace. Finding organic instances to change the pace of the action I consider important to. The previous session was a full-on wilderness night fight with wolves, werewolves, and the forest catching fire. Most grognards would call this a “combat heavy” session. And they would be right! For the player’s first time spending an entire session in the crypts there was no combat had. And I felt the players thought the stakes were just as high here as they were rolling on the forest floor with werewolves fighting knife, tooth and sword!

If you are a Dungeon Master curious or fretting on running DFD, the recorded session (link below) may put your mind at ease and may spark some ideas you want to include to pick your session up a notch. Please note, this is a recording of the live stream so there is no editing. The game session doesn't get started until 36 minutes in. Also, in another two weeks the game goes again and there is no sign the PCS are ready to quit the dungeon so you will most likely get a chance to see the module played all the way through? Heck, I'll even provide a link to some appropriate background music.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

1E/2E Gamma World Game Session: Detroit Suck City

I turned to the MeWe gaming crowd I've managed to keep together after the demise of G+ for players to fill my friends new 1e Gamma World game. The three other open seats filled fast with five people so it looks like the game may get some legs with a stocked roster of PCs. The bidding war was opened for first game date (it was this past Friday) to be picked, got it scheduled and slammed out our first group adventure (jiminey got a special introductory issue one-shot prior to this) with, what the GM said "were questionable tactics." :) You now can be the judge. Here is the unedited, unexpurgated game session. I thought we had solid plans all along?

Now you get to be the judge!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Shelter in Place with Gamma World 1e

I phoned a friend of mine today while sitting in the Falcon after the Kessel Run got canceled. He was finding some time off on his hands like the rest of the world and was perusing his old 1e boxed set of Gamma World. We quickly agreed we would hook up on line in a couple of hours and roll up some mutant humanoids and animals (no plants or PSH's, first house rule). With any good session zero, the character creation process started blocking out the campaign world. The apocalyptic event was recent and not in the misty past, so a lot of standing rubble and ruin. We picked Detroit out of the hat for the destroyed urban environment we would start in. Slag pits are what you climb out of when ascending the post-apocalyptic corporate ladder, and that is about it at this point. 

Building the game world around some random character creation is just such the right way to approach a classic Gamma World game. We all have so much Post-Apoc media influence the idea train shouldn't ever run out of track. 

I posted up a mewe group for the game so as to get others involved and start establishing some game dates. Come on over if interested. Don't need to be a player, lurkers are always welcome. At least head over to the group and poach the form-fillable 1e character sheet. Or not. It is easily found online. I'll think I will add it to my Summonings page anways.

Oh, here is the character I created, Jiminey the Unethical Mutated Cricket.

Bad Information in your Sci-Fi game

Advanced technology means access to tremendous information useful in dispelling the mystery of any StarMaster generated encounter or anomaly. And if the requests are reasonable and hard for the SM to discount, for whatever reasons, there is nothing for the ethical SM to do but offer up the useful, but risk-reducing, information in good faith. PCs do have the right to utilize accurate information in their favor. If not, then the SM is bad and needs to be replaced. But that does not mean the SM cannot bake in a chance for receiving bad information instead of the accurate information they are more used to getting. Now that is a good SM and should be cherished.

Image result for sci fi communication

In my games I start with a 25% chance the technically advanced “acquired” information is bad, inaccurate to the point of dangerous. This number can go up and down for any and all reasons. The PCS may even be aware of the increased chance for bunk info being had. I don’t concern myself much with applying modifiers. A flat 25% chance for a sour situation developing seems to give me the level of uncertainty I enjoy playing with.

So, I roll a random result for the information the PCs have dug up, and at an opportune time roll to see if the info is legit. My best practice for adding corrupted information is to assign a specific “bad” result thought out and pre-written for the specific result. The information on the “military installation” will have different complications then the “secret smuggler depot”, for example. I find this to work better than another random table filled with “bad” things. It saves time at the table trying to work something out, and the twist is more believable to the PCs if it doesn’t sound forced.

Therefore StarMaster prep will include an initial table for the possible information to be had, for a price. And then each entry needs a negative result, a twist, prepared which is easily picked up when called for.

Here is an example from the current adventure I am working on.

So, you bought a Cache Chip…

The PCs can sink 500cr. for a roll on the following table. This is the information the data chip contains, faulty or not. There is a 25% chance the information purchased is bad. If it is the SM need only scan the attached “bad” information for the particular info source. This will be the actual encounter instead of the one expected.
1.      Source of clean water.
2.      Independent Homesteaders.
3.      Bandit ship repair dock, smuggler depot.
4.      Military installation.
5.      Friendly natives.
6.      Popular hunting grounds
7.      Sheltered cove, no water but good fishing.
8.      High point
9.      Always bad weather
10.   Alien installation
11.   Surface Anomaly
12.   Golf Resort.

Image result for sci fi communication

1. With the global atmospheric contaminates, most land-locked surface water is unfit to drink. Purifiers stand a chance of breakdown every time such a device is used to filter this water source. Having an oasis in this “wet” desert can mean the difference between life and death if broken down. In fact, most of these information chips contain something useful if one found their transportation through the jungle compromised. The oasis is actually a trap laid by bandits or the source has been contaminated and therefore unusable.

2. Not all are here to exploit the land or local amenities. Living completely off the galactic grid is always attractive to some societal groups. This community is bent on scratching a living out of the thin soil and dangerous mega-fauna. Habitat is combination tree house and below ground chambers, natural or excavated.  They are always interested in trade and will help any who find themselves cast adrift under the endless canopy. If a “bad” information chip is indicated the homesteaders are psychotic cannibals with an enjoyment for animal gladiatorial deathtraps!

3. Illegal commerce flows unimpeded through this depot as it benefits many of the diverse industries operating on the surface. This place operates like a small, but well-tooled downport. Price for services is triple. The depot is a pirate depot which wants to keep their presence a secret, dead men tell no tales!

4. Starfleet? Military Intelligence? Local defense force, frontier fort? There are many reasons why a military base would be found somewhere on abc. Their purpose would be for securing the prosperity and security of settled property on the hostile jungle planet. To this end the military force either has small installations over a large area or one large base which operates as a world unto themselves. The base is for a known hostile starforce. This indicates the whole system is in danger of invasion!

5. One of the three types of primitive species capable of communication has established good relations with the human outfitters. There will be something they look forward to trading with and they are willing to give helpful local information on safe routes to take to the Celestial Clock site. If this is a bad result than they worship some horrid monstrosity and they intend to use the PCs as sacrifice!

6. The popular hunting ground gives stranded adventurers with a means of sustenance as well as contact with other hunters in the area for emergency extraction. Couple of deranged hillbillies listen on the radio for folks in distress and then go hunt them!

7. Hidden by storm, it provides a safe refuge for repair after crossing the dangerous storm. Taking this route saves enough time on the journey to make traveling this direction worth it. Some of the worst, and largest, beasts of the jungle hang out here. What kind of sicko would sell this kind of information to people?

8. Extended views over the jungle make it possible to avoid upcoming electrical storms and increase distance traveled in a day. Some scientist is conducting electrical experiments and needs a nearby vehicle to try something out. No good can come of this for anybody involved!

9. Some locations should never be traveled, for whatever reason. Problem is not many are known or mapped. This useful chip makes random encounter rolls unnecessary for one day of the PCs choosing. If the chip is bad than 3 encounter checks are made immediately. As soon as an encounter is indicated, stop rolling and resolve the encounter. If there are more encounter checks left to made, roll those now. Every time an encounter comes up it must be resolved before any other encounter checks are made.

10. The SM will need to decide if the alien species is known or entirely new. A first contact encounter will be much different than an encounter with a known entity. For both it needs to be established the extent of relations between the two species. If known relations are operative this will dictate the dangers and opportunities available to the PCs. If the SM has no established alien races appropriate for this encounter already in their campaign, just make this a bad encounter. The aliens intend to scoop out and analyze the PCs brains!

11. The surface anomaly is the LotFP’s adventure module The Monolith Beyond Time and Space. There is nothing good about this encounter, unless the SM counts watching the PCs having their minds disintegrated as a result of their curiosity a good time?

12. Golf Resort, this could be benign or an outrage depending on the PCs overall political and environmental views. Unfortunately, most groups of PCs are so amoral that they would not be concerned with any of the social inequity rife upon abc. A bad result? I think the SM should use their imagination here. The resort being some bizarre funhouse is a classic. The something is not what it seems trope.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

DFD Hits the Table

Image result for death frost doomThe virtual table, all my gaming these days is virtual. Online, video hangouts. And it has worked well, extremely well over (fuck me) 8 years now. I got hooked up on line with gaming again in 2012. And one of the most talked about adventure modules at the time was Death Frost Doom by James Raggi V. I passed on buying it at the time. I thought, what's the use? Everybody and their grandmother is playing it right now. Then some time later a new edition was released in some kind of package deal. I got Monolith, NSFW, Tower of the Stargazer(?) and the much talked about Death Frost Doom. Good adventure, I thought, for what it does. Evocative as all get out, and the possibility of world-ending events being triggered... Definitely good material in here to be used. But I haven't got a place to use it right now. In my current campaign. Some point I will, but it isn't today.

And there it has sat until this morning. My dowdy band of murderhobos got themselves into a scrape with a large horde of werewolves. The mercenaries had been overrun or had fled for their lives. The forest was well on its way to being engulfed in wind-driven flames and more werewolves were closing in. Murderhobos doing what murderhobos do, they fled. Not blindly. They had passed a boarded up hunting lodge before the terrible confrontation which had just shattered their armed troop. It looked sturdy enough. If they could just make it there, urge their wild-eyed horses on one last directed gallop, before the living fears of myth overtake them all.

The lodge is safely reached. It is not the cabin in the module. Here is a look at it;

Much bigger. 
Stocked with bear traps, hunting weapons like spears and bows. It is indeed a good spot to defend from. The rooms are quickly tossed and a trap door is found in the floor of the Great Room. There is also a thick book. It is pages on pages of names. They change over time, in fact the sweep of names covers thousands of years! The earliest names are in a language unknown. Not till the end of the book, representing the last two hundred years or so, are they comprehensible. These contemporary names continue until the last three pages where there are no signatures. Only row upon row of a bloody fingerprint. The blood now long dried these last few pages appear as some gory stamp book.

Heated discussions break out between the mercenary captain, the Marquee and Father Piedmont. The Marquee is adamant he will not quit the field until he has routed or captured the evil cultists behind rash of kidnappings. He seems in a complete state of denial over being attacked by werewolves. "Nothing but bandits in wolf skins!" I tell you, we go back there in daylight. You'll see."

Father Piedmont worriedly looks out one the Great Room's windows again and again. It is agreed the first thing to do is undue the padlock on the floor hatch and see what lies underneath. It is a 50' shaft down. Straight down into DFD! Fuck it, I'm using it. I'll figure out how to tie in the OSR cultists cum werewolves and their WolfMother petty-god later. If there is a later. 

To be fair, several players identified the location just in the first hall approaching the first door into the dungeon. But none of the players had actually played in it. Good, I'm getting to drag fresh souls through one of the most reviewed OSR modules to date.

Image result for death frost doomAnd that is where we left it. They did get in to the first two rooms which has them in the large, evil encased chapel. And we did leave with some disagreement within the party on what the next move should be, but it is Mq. Chabentaeu's resolve to have revenge against these fiends (cultists) which seals the deal. No murderhobo is going to appear as a coward. Especially in front of an NPC!

So I'm pretty satisfied with this cold open for DFD. Plenty of detail within the book to tie the death cult's religion from the module to the leading adversaries currently running amok in the campaign world. I can work out these "pantheonic" loose ends. The Cleric and Paladin are feeling obliged to uncover the nature of the evil lurking here while the jewels and gems just found are keeping the thief and the assassin in the game. Oh, yes, we even have a 1st level character along. The player of tragic La Batard returned today with his gentleman thief and rake. An Averoigne fop who is good with his rapier. The cleric is 3rd level (damn that Bless spell would be useful to have) while the rest are 4-5 level dudes. Not fragile, but the groups magical firepower is currently found only in the paladin.

Two weeks until next session. I already have a good idea to tie this site location in with the already established big bads. Otherwise I just need to pour over the pages of this black masterpiece all over again. Weep for me not....

Image result for death frost doom

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Perhaps a session report on the eve of a Feast of Blood

I am all pumped up for tomorrow's game so I will spend some of this nervous energy on a session report. 

The girl did pay, after all. Violet was handed over to her parents, the Marquee and Marquees de Chabentaeu, in a catatonic state, but at least in one piece. That's better than Liam Neelson did in A Walk Among The TombstonesThis netted the group 2,000 gp, a windfall they haven't seen since first session over a year ago! The Marquee, impressed with their gritty and grim bearing, offers them employment. His town is beset by kidnappings, missing persons and murder out among the farms. Merchants are leaving town. He needs to bring an end to these mysterious threats or he will lose his position of Warder of Le Frenaie. They have returned his daughter from these seemingly unknown kidnappers. Of course the Marquee has many questions for the PCs. It comes out the Marquee is a proud man, and set upon revenge against any who slight himself and his family name. They must lead him against the kidnappers. He will gather the militia. Piedmont has a mercenary troop the Golden Ray camped nearby. They shall provide the additional troops needed.  

The PCs say sure, they haven't much else in mind at this point, and arrange for rooms at The Crossed Swords. The local rat catcher is in the common room on a three-day bender. He is spending his "life" saving because the end of days is upon them. 

With the better part of the day and evening in front of them the group decides to pursue avenues of espionage. The local priest of Zotar deserves a visit. This Father Piedmont is obviously agitating for a vote of no confidence in the Warder. Perhaps they can weasel into his good graces as well. They are carrying a writ of authority they found, from the ArchBishop of Vyonnes himself! They show this purloined writ to the local Zotarian and let Piedmont know they expect his assistance if called upon. The mustering of the militia tomorrow is discussed and Piedmont decides he will join the hunt!

Lumin catches a street urchin for some errand duty. The poor, dirty wretch is writing some graffiti on a barn wall. It says "She's not my mommy!"

"Here boy, take this missive to the Marquee." The one-handed cleric gives the boy the note and some silver to run the message over to Mq. Chabenteau. He thinks it is a good idea to let the Mq. know Father Piedmont will be on this upcoming expedition into the local wood, known around here as the Tanglewood.  Varidell is a suspicious sort so decides to shadow the urchin and make sure the boy does as he is told. 

Toth and Lumin want to visit the local Drune Fortune Teller. She promised a free reading, she sensed the hand of the fates laying upon them. The Blue Moon Curio Shoppe is easily found and the gypsy-like crone sees them to her reading room. Toth lingers in the front room, listening to the reading while the crone pours over Lumin's outstretched hand.

But it is a ruse! Black treachery! The Drune grabs hold of Lumin's arm and holds it fast while an assassin springs out from behind the beaded curtains which concealed the room beyond. Garrote in hand the assassin quickly begins to choke out the cleric. Toth is set upon as well. Another assassin comes out from the kitchen baring a the would-be assailant is clueless on Toth's terrible martial reputation. Jyfrith, the Hammer of Justice, flicks out instantly and swings like lightning in Toth's hands. The assailant is crushed like a beetle, gout of blood pouring forth from open mouth and crushed sternum. 

Lumin continues to struggle with both the Drune crone and the cutthroat. He grabs for his Blood Knife, but not until Toth delivers a roundhouse with his hammer to the Drune's face can Lumin find the leverage to bury his eldritch knife deep into the unknown thug's eye. Before they both could say, "What the hell was that about?" Varidell's whistle can be heard outside. This is usually a sign the group's lead slinker was in dire straights.

The two holy warriors race out into the rapidly darkening evening and close in on the sound. They find Varidell rolling in the dust of an alley, three werewolves closing in for the kill. Blood pours from his savaged shoulder. Magical and silver weapons in hand, one werewolf is slain and the other two driven off.

My memory is fuzzy on this, but somehow the PCs became aware of Jankula Ansulex living in Le Frenaie. This stranger is responsible for at least Cree and Varidell finding themselves in Averoigne through unknown magics. The odd scholar provides Varidell with a potion "Guaranteed to cure the disease of lycanthropy."

Tea is brewed and the group shares secrets and information with Jankula. He is convinced gates from other worlds have been opened into Averoigne and alien beings mean to pass through and conquer all! "The ruined palace must be the source of the dimensional portals. You must return there. You must close these magical gates or the world as we know it will be destroyed," insists Jankula. 

"Leave the Negamancer's globe with me," he requests. "Perhaps I may be able to make it serve our ends. I will return it to you in the morning before you all depart."

Sunday, March 8, 2020

More Images from the VTP House Game

Toth and Lumin are beset by OSR cultists in the Blue Moon Curio Shoppe
To the right we can see Toth
under the mind control powers
of the vampire Clitus Dorvitte. 
The vile undead leader had the pious 
Paladin smash the skull of his alley - La Batard!

Jankula Ansulex postulates on the possible dooms which will befall Averoigne. He also forgot that when in deep thought he absent-mindedly masturbates in public. 

The rat-catcher of Le Frenaie on his last debauch before the end of days.

Varidell executes the magically held soldiers of the Marque.

This is a witch know as "The Three-Who-Are-One" preparing to create another Changeling from the corpse of a child.

The Paladin Toth and the Cleric Lumin battle the apparition Aladonie and her animated marble snake.

Varidell is ambushed in an alley of Le Frenaie by three werewolves.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Random City Folk for your Fantasy Streets

I found this half completed list for a random generator. I think it is cobbled together from disparate lists I found on other gamer's blogs. The purpose is to give me a quick NPC when the Player Characters decide they want to hit up a local for some information. This should give you enough details to make the encounter a worthwhile one.

Generate me a random city (or town) folk with a light dose of flavor!