Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dungeon magazine

 As a kid, I never owned any Dragon magazines, I'm not even sure if I even knew of it until around 1990, and even then, with the budget issues I had, I probably wouldn't have seen the use it buying it anyways.  I was lucky enough to buy a few dungeon magazines though, not many but a few. I say lucky because, wow, some of those submissions were very well written. Two of my favorites included a library where the rooms shift around in issue 29, and an Underdark adventure involving a massive multidimensional alien in issue 24.

I think one of the things that would impress me the most about these adventures, was that many times the designers were either high schoolers, or college kids close in age to myself. I would read these mini-modules with a mixture of admiration and envy that such quality products could be written by such young people.
At first I thought is was strange that I rarely saw anything written about them in the old school blogs, but I realized that dungeon magazine was mostly a 2e (and beyond) resource. Still though, to me, converting between 2e and 1e (or B/X for that matter) was no big deal.
I remember reading on JM's Grognardia about the lack of truly memorable 2e modules, and some-one had quite rightly pointed out that although the offically released 2e modules were mostly forgettable, Dungeon magazine was releasing some great material at the time (a sentiment I would have to agree with from what little I had read in the magazines). 
    The thing is though, that although the few I had were impressive as reads, I never had a chance to actually use any of them in play (only because by that time I was mostly a player, and never a DM). I guess this leaves me wondering how playable they would have been. I'd hate to here that they were like most 2e materials, interesting to read but impossible to use in play.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Borderlands Monsters

The Perverssi Koira
  (Ghoul Hounds)

Armour Class:             6
Hit Dice:                      2+1 to 4+1
Move:                          180'
Attacks:                       2claws/1bite
Damage:                      1-3/1-3/1-6 + special
No. Appearing:            4-6
Save As:                      F2
Morale:                        9 see below
Hoard Class:               VII
Alignment:                  Lawful (evil)

     The Perverssi Koira (more commonly known as Ghoul Hounds) were an ancient dark undead construct, created through horrid perverse arts involving the sacrifice of both wolves and humans in a ritual that would drive even the most seasoned adventure mad from witnessing it. 
   The exact method this took, was a a closely guarded secret which was thought lost to the vasts mists of time long ago. Recently however, these creatures have resurfaced, terrorizing the Grey Forests of the Borderlands with their horrific howls of pain; which always precedes a hunt.  Its unknown whether these newly reported sightings are the last remaining creatures from the past, maybe freed from long held imprisonment; or worse, if someone has discovered anew how to create these terrifying monsters.
    Perverssi Koira can be considered a combination of ghoul and wolf, with abilities derived from both. It has as the ghoul's chilling paralytic touch, as well as the wolf's great speed. Most importantly though, a ghoul hound will retain a wolf's pack mentality, making it easy for its creator to control, and giving him/her a powerful and loyal servant (hence its lawful alignment).
  Despite its great power though, the ghoul hound does seem to have an usual Though no more or less susceptible to the ravages of flame then other creatures, a ghoul hound shows a hesitancy to cross any large flame (it must make a saving throw vs paralyzation). This fear will eventually be overcome though, resulting in a saving throw being made at  +1 each round. It is unknown where this fear comes from; is it an instinct that is retained from its wolf like nature, or a fear born from when the beast must pass through the flames of hell as it returns to the realms of man.
    A ghoul hound's paralysis (just like a ghoul's) can be counteracted through the ingestion of the blood of a Corp d'Arbre. 

Well these are the stats for a creature that I had recently created for the PC's . Originally it was made as a simple wandering monster encounter, but it left such an devastating impact on the players ( all level ones), that they've had to make a repeat appearance since (the players now live in fear of its telltale howl). Many of it's characteristics (such as the howl, fear of flames and the counter to its paralysis) were developed through the character actions in game. I hope you enjoy (and please disregard any grammatical errors I may have made).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Puzzle and riddle goodness

I've been interested lately in incorporating some puzzles in my game. I know they can give the game a "funhouse" feel. But when I played I always enjoyed having at least one puzzle or riddle challenge in it (I guess they'd be seen as cliche now). I've been searching for some, and found I neat one derived from the Davinci Code on this site. I like the idea of using the Fibonacci sequence  (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,etc) but I worry because one of the players is also a math teacher and may pick up on it realy fast. My idea is to use pressure plates with stones on them where the adventures have to put the proper amount of stones on the last plate.
   I also have one which would be alot more challenging involving a geometric riddle which I'll paraphrase:

         A King wants his gardener to make plant 5 rows of 4 roses, only problem is he only has 10 roses to do it
    How what does he do?  I usually put a lot more flourish in the presentation when giving this one, but you get the idea.

Answer:  a star shape.

I also love old fashioned riddles too, but I find that sometimes they can slow things to a halt because if people can't get the answer, they can't progress any farther. So I like my riddles to be for non essentials (chests, scroll cases etc.). I also like how they were done in the old video game Betrayal at Krondor; where each riddle was given a dial lock mechanisms. (again Davinci Code did something similar for a scroll type case) I find they can make them a little too easy at times though, giving not only the possible letters but how many of them there are as well. Still, the right riddle can keep them challenging anyway, and we all know there are enough of them out there.

I also really like this idea from Die Hard 3 

That's all Ive got for now, I hope some of these are useful to you, and If you have some to you want to share please feel free.

See ya.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Summer is Over!!

So the summer is done, and we spent it working on the new house.  We decided not to head back home for this year, which means I missed all this:

I also didn't play either; summer is not the best time to get a group of teachers together, as they tend to go on family vacations at different times. But we have started back since then, with one session two weeks ago, and another set for this Sunday.
   I decided to combine the keep on the borderlands with 0one's blueprint for the Caves of Chaos. I found that they gave a more exploratory feel, and allowed me to place some more traps and mysterious hooks for the players. (Not that they found any......oh well maybe on the next game).
     I've also had a few inspirations for puzzles which I'll share later, as well as had the pleasure of reading through Grimtooth's traps (again I think I'll share more about it also).
   I've found since starting to game again, I've also  found since gaming again, I've blogged less; which in all honesty is fine by me, because if I had to choose between the two, I'd take gaming over blogging anyday  :p

Monday, June 21, 2010

Borderlands Session 4

Like I said, I was behind on my session wrap-ups, so that's why these are coming at you fast and furious style.
   By the end of the last Session, the PC's had found a map which supposedly would lead to a treasure hoard found in Quasqueton, and had managed to discover a secret passage between Melissa's and Rohgan's rooms.

                       This session saw the party going through Rohgan's private quaters, only to interrupted by a group of Northmen, who have also been exploring Quasqueton's halls. While they first decided to try diplomacy with the barbarians; suspicion soon turned to open hostility, as Dale the Killing Machine quickly attacked the tattooed warriors.
 A long battle then ensued, as for the first time, the party seemed to face an even match in their foes. After beating back the Northmen, the PC's blockaded a door and took a prisoner. again the questioning seemed to get very little and the frustrated party left the prisoner tied to the bed as they fled the fortress.
 They headed back to the Keep, to regroup and report on what they had found with Balin, the wizard who had hired them.
  Once there they deciphered  Zelligar's coded diary, and the PC's learned of his suspicions of the true instigators of the Northern attacks 20 years ago; a group by the name of the Red Hand. ( An organization composed of wizards, clerics and nobles who have revived the worship of some sort of Elder God which is yet to be revealed to the players).  Balin was concerned about the nature of such a secret society, and asked the PC's to further investigate the halls of Quaqueton for more clues.
 The party though decided to take some down time to enjoy the amenities of the Keep, While MoonBeam and Theodore the cleric took the time to study and pray; Stickles and Dale the Killing Machine had come up with a ploy, where Dale would distract a local patron with small talk, and Stickles would use the moment of distraction to pick their pockets for cash.
        Unfortunately the plan backfired; the first person Stickles attempted to rob caught on to what was happening. He and his friend confronted the duo, only to be attacked by Dale, who nearly killed one of them men with a single blow of his axe.
Shocked by the wanton display of violence, the remaining patrons and the barkeep held Dale until the authorities arrived. Stickles, seeing the sticky situation that was about to occur, slipped out during the commotion, and was able to avoid arrest.
   To make up for their crime Dale (and by default the rest of the party) were charged with the rescue of a local merchant from a group of Bandits which had been attacking lately from the woods.  The characters then readied themselves to face the bandits of the woods, in what they considered their first rescue mission.

Edit notes...Okay so this session had actually happened looong ago, and its hard to remember all the good bad and ugly, but here goes. I seem to remember the challenge in improvising all the events in town; especially the consequences of their robbery attempt. They were really keeping me on my toes. By the way if you didn't know it all ready, Dale is a bit of a sociopath; I tried to play some shock at his resorting to a weapon right away in the bar fight (an axe no less). The Keep as a meant to be a tough but law abiding area, a frontier area filled with puritan ( at least on the exterior) types. I haven't put a great deal of work into the personality of the Keep yet. Its pretty small after all, and I see it more as a focal point for small villages in the area as opposed to a sprawling city which can hide thieve guilds, etc. I don't even think the Keep has a brothel....not that I've put a lot of thought into it, but one character did try to find one....maybe I'll have some sort of traveling "entertainment" group come in or something.

Well I have more to think on about this, plus two more sessions to summarize yeesshh.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

x1 Isle of Dread

One of the few regrets I have about my early D&D experience, is the total lack of experience with modules; when I had bought my Metzner basic, it didn't come with an introductory module (except for the small sample dungeon in the books). My own experience was using that  small sample as my model of what an adventure should be, and then designing castle and dungeons on my own (with far too many encounters if I remember correctly)
   That's why X1 Isle of Dread is so important to me, it was the first and only module I had ever owned as a youth;  but what a module!  Now back then I had no idea who Moldvay was, or the extent of his design genius; all I knew was that this module rocked. It had it all: sea exploration, dark mysterious islands, pirates, and especially.......dinosaurs, forget the alien kopru....for me the highlight was definately the dinosaurs...well them and the feline warrior society (I remember one of my players took a real liking to owning a pair of the claw weapon they used.

  Unfortunately; in part due to my own young age or inexperience, I never took full advantage of Isle of Dread's possibilities as a module. I did treat it a little too much like an adventure that the player's had to solve; as opposed to a springboard for many adventuring ideas. However even then we were able to create some role play interactions, and side treks...I seem to remember something about the pirates conflicting with the natives on the island.
   I think at the time it disturbed me a little that there was no end goal to the module...I'm not sure if I realized at the time the purpose of, or even had an understanding of, a completly open ended adventure. Still, we loved that module, and played it for days on end.  From the time I had a sea hydra attack their vessel in the ocean, to the moment the PC's defeated the evil Kopru in those hot muddy geysers on the plateau this module proved to be a joy to play.
Isle of Dread stretched both our playing skills, and our understanding of what a great D&D adventure can be. Because of that I have to say that the module TSR actually provided for FREE with its Expert Set still remains,in my mind, one of the best adventures ever written.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Borderlands sessions 3

 The group were last left at the bottom of a pit trap and had fought off a group of bow wielding goblins. Fortunately Stickles the thief came back from the keep and followed their trail through the fort. He managed to get some rope down to the group, and help them out of the pit. After discovering that the trapped door was in fact a fake, the frustrated group doubled back down through the fortress to investigate a side of the building still left blank on their map.
 During their explorations, they met up with an adventuring elf by the name of Moonbeam (I know) who had been attracted to the rumours of the richess in Quasqueton. The group decided to allow her to join them as they continued on through the halls of the fortress..
Narrowly avoiding a confrontation with a group of dangerous looking blue tattooed Northmen, and getting lost in one of Zelligar's Mazes of Confusion, the PC's eventually came upon Zelligar's garden room, which had become overrun with all manner of strange plants and fungi. After going about halfway in, the PC's soon found themselves bombarded by a loud shrieking sound emanating from some large orange mushroom shaped plant. Just as the PC's were getting ready to destroy the screaming fungus, they were attacked by some creepy crawlies, and enraged orcs who attention had been attracted by the loud wails.
 Again it was Erin the farm-boy who proved himself in combat; severing the head of one of the orcs in a single blow, and fatally wounding another. No sooner had they finished off this first attack, when the still shrieking mushroom attracted even more creatures. This time the group found themselves surrounded by three large underground reptilian creatures (troglodytes). The PC's thinking they wouldn't be able handle this new threat, decided to try and bluff their way using intimidation. Opting for savage brutality, they stuck the severed orc heads on swords and spears and shook them violently in front of the troglodytes. Fearing for their lives in front of the this new powerful foe, the creatures bowed in deference to the PC's who seeing an opening fed the orc bodies to the reptiles, and made a quick getaway out of the garden. Using their map to back track, they soon found themselves in the eastern half of the fortress again, and made their way to what turned out to be a room belonging to Rogahn's mistress Melissa, while there they made two important discoveries; a supposed treasure map to the lower level, and a secret passage connecting Melissa's room directly to Roghan's.

Editorial:  Two more players joined in for this session but one of the other guys couldn't make it so that gave a total of three players. It made for more discussion as to plans on what to do, as well as a lot more out of game banter..but thats what its all about right. Moonbeam doesn't exactly get named until session 4, but I thought I'd break it too you I've had a Moonbeam, Dale the killing machine, and from the first session and only session my wife participated in...Head Honcho....

             I found the mapping difficult in this one (actually I should say the player's did, b/c I don't do their mapping). It became an extra challenge during the maze part; however they get a kick out of when one hallway somehow intersects another. I'm thinking of using white board so i can make an outline first then let them do the mapping on their grid paper.
I also saw a lot of encounter avoidance this time. The party took great pains to try and find what was in a room before going there (even using mirrors under doors), and then leaving if it appeared anyone was inside; they seemed especially concerned over the northerners bearing blue tattoos. Still I liked where the group was headed, and how easily they fell into what we call old school adventuring. I'll post 4 and 5 soon. as some interesting town and wilderness events are starting to well as some....PLOT..oh no!!!!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wilderness encounters

So the group is going to be searching through the forest for a group of bandits (I have yet to post sessions 3/4 to explain why). Now while I've created an encampment for the Bandits, I also decided to create a few encounters for the wilderness. I wanted to create a sense of supernatural strangeness to the forest, so I decided on some encounters that go beyond just regular wandering monsters (what a strange statement to make.......regular wandering monsters). Anyway, here it is I'd like to know what others think:
Roll a D8

1.....feel dripping from above and snapping branches.....find a frozen, partially eaten corpse in a tree that comes crashing to the ground.....

2.....See a run down abandoned cabin (chance 50% day/ 50% night)....if the party is in or near the cabin at night they will see a pale luminous women in a white night dress staring out the window with a gaping wound in her chest (only noticeable if she is somehow turned away from the window). She will not respond in any way unless touched, at which point she will turn and chant ---"come back to me my love" over and over. at this point all male characters from right to left must save vs spells, the first to fail will be drawn to the figure's embrace where they will age 10 +1d4 years per round until rescued.

3.....An Orgre and a ___(undetermined sorry)___are sharpening tools and preparing a fire next to them tied to a tree is an unarmed person (level 1 magic user) with an extremely despondent look on his face.

4.....The party comes across a petrified tree with a vaguely humanoid figure and what appears to be a face twisted in extreme agony...if the figure is touched, the mouth begins oozing a dark reddish viscous liquid.

5.....Hear a horrible buzzing which seems to be getting closer and closer.......suddenly the the buzzing stops only to have the party immediately become attacked by a swarm of flying insects.

6....Come across a clearing with a ring of 7 white roses with a stone in the center, bearing some sort of faded inscription.  If they decide to read try to read the inscription roll a dice to see who can make it out (1 in 6 chance) the first to succeed is handed a note saying " "Y'salgoth's roses bloom in the dusk of life".....if anyone else asks about this paper or the inscription you must read this quote out loud".Once read aloud 7 zombies will crawl out of the ground from under the roses.

7...The PC's come across a Cairn made of skulls each one with a single jagged hole in the forehead

8...Undetermined yet

so there's the list. Looking back i notice a few hings:
#1 not all have a supernatural or strange bent, which gives different possibilities a different feel.

#2 Not all would have any game effect  (many have no combat) and with the idea being locating a group of bandits, is creating a strange supernatural mood really necessary...I don't know...

Well there are the ideas so far let me know what you think....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Probability Madness

Did you know you have the same probability of rolling a 6,6,6 as you do of rolling eaxctly 4,5,2......(1/216)......I just blew your mind didn't I?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Retro modules

So lately I've pretty much finished my collection of the old TSR stuff, both in paper and pdf (actually I may be missing a large swath of Dragon magazines). My eyes have now turned to the new quality products that have been put for the retro clones.
My purchase have so far included James Raggi's Death Frost Doom, Alphonso Warden's The People of The Pit, Goodman Game's Saga of the Rat King, Micheal Curtis's Dungeon Alphabet, and James Maliszewski's Cursed Chateau. I'd like to eventually give my thoughts on all of these products, but to be honest I've only fully read 3 of them so far (and those were quick reads too). I do know that I'd already like to put DFD and People of the Pit into my campaign...which isn't fair because there are so many of the old modules I want to take a stab at too. Damn that doesn't even include the free modules that people have published online.....Dragonsfoot........
My question to others is are there any new old school modules that you feel are worth a purchase? I know I've put a few on my shopping list at rpgnow, but I'm curious as to what others have to say.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Leveling Up

So the Borderlands has run through 4 sessions in total now (the first being an introductory without much adventuring), and I've been tabulating the experience now that they've actually gone back to town. I don't know about you, but I'm found the experience gained up to this point a little low; the most gained by someone who's been there through all three adventure sessions is 311 exp. Is this normal or have I been too stingy on gold rewards...looking back they accumulated perhaps 200 gp altogether (jewellery included), with another perhaps 500 for selling stuff (mostly rare books). Looking back my one mistake up to this point seems to have not bee to roll for random treasures for the wandering monsters; the treasure placed was taken directly from the B1 module. Maybe its just me though; looking at things if it continues at this rate it could take around 20 sessions to get to second level, this seems beyond the patience threshold to me. I have a feeling I may need to offer a little larger treasure incentive, with a larger risk too of course.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dungeons and Dragons is Geek

For anyone who thought things have changed after thirty years, here's a little story: I pulled out a large set of multiple dice this week, to teach grade nine math students about probability, and the one student referred them them as "Nerd Dice". When asked what that meant, she told me they were used in dungeons and dragons, which of course was only played by nerds, and geeks. With wide eyes, I replied "Oh Really". Well the expression on my face must have said enough, because her look quickly turned to panic as the person next to her asked me if I played. I turned it around and asked them if it would be so bad if I did. Unfortunately almost in unison of group of them nodded much for the cool factor of being geek.
     I love our hobby, I really do, but it saddens me that because of it we get saddled with a label that I at thirty five can handle properly, but one for which a shy, awkward fourteen or fifteen year old can feel like a social kiss of death.

PS. I'm not a fan of divulging much of my own personal life with students, but my reply to the question on whether or not I play was to ask my level six paladin.

Borderlands Campaign Session 2

Wow, I've waited too long to recap session 2 (in fact to be honest there's already been a session 3, but more on that later), I will be doing a lot of this from excuse me if I forget some details..I'm not an elephant you know. Again I should be doing this sooner, as its suppossed to also be for my own benefit to refer back too.....sigh....I never learn.
   To begin with Stickles the thief, Dakken the Magic User, and Satara the elf all decided to head back to the Keep, leaving Dale the Killing Machine alone with the two retainers to tackle Quaqueston. Luckily he was joined at the gates by a adventuring holy warrior (i.e. cleric), by the name of Theodore. Shoring up their courage, the now much smaller party stepped through the imposing arched doorway to the dark depths below.
      The group came upon many unnerving sights as they explored the fortress, starting with the grisly remains of a recent bloody clash between some ugly pig faced humanoid beings and a group of humans marked with strange blue tattooes along with a slain dwarf. The group immediately began searching the bodies only to find some coins upon the dwarf.
       The group's luck improved though as they located a private reception area off of the main dining hall; where they proceeded to investigate a large statue of an unknown woman gesturing as in greeting; with some poking and prodding, the group found a compartment inside the statue hiding a beautifully wrought silver laced black mace, bearing the word Bonecrusher along the side. Needless to say Theodore was pleased beyond belief by such a find; and was eager for a chance to test the quality of his new found weapon.
      This opportunity came soon enough, when they stumbled upon a large barrack holding 4 of the pig faced creatures (which Theodore had deduced were Orcs) sleeping in their cots. The group attempted to quietly sneak into the room, but the battle trained creatures were light sleepers, and awoke to find these four humans breaking into their home. As the group did battle, it was Erin the farmhand that they had hired who surprised everyone (himself included) by slaying an orc single-handed, and aiding in the killing of another. The last 2, seeing their comrades killed so quickly, and maybe the slaying skills of Erin the farmboy, soon surrendered. When questioned the two revealed that they had thought the group where either in league with the northmen (the tattooed people) or someone they referred to as the Red Wizard, also that they were waiting for what they felt would be the eventual return of their long departed master (Zelligar). Theodore not trusting the two beast men decided to truss up them and have them guide them through the building.
   They were quickly lead through the building to the bedroom of the fortress' former owner, a room left untouched (more proof of the orcs continued loyalty, or at least fear of the mighty magic user). Once there it was hoped by the orcs that the dangerous poisonous spiders who had taken residence there would make quick work of the adventures. However the trapped was turned upside down when the group threw their prisoners into the on rushing spiders. The distraction  worked, mostly, and the small number that continued on  to attack, were easily dispatched, leaving only one of adventurer to be bitten and  crippled by the strength numbing venom.
    The intrepid explorers were also lucky enough to come upon Zelligar's private library, where they located his diary, penned in a secret code none of the adventurers understood. Having left the library with the diary they continued on down the deserted hallway, to find a large oaken door barring their way. No sooner did they attempted to open it, when suddenly the group was dropped plummeting down a deep shaft into a frigid pool underneath. With little time to gather themselves after the dangerous fall, the group was set upon by a group of short ugly goblinoid creatures who pelted them with arrows from across the way.
     Somehow through both skill and luck, the group was somehow able to regroup and dispense with their mysterious attackers without succumbing to their surprise attack. However they were now wounded, trapped and beginning to low on resources; what would they do?
End Session 1

Editorial (keep in mind this is actually coming really late, as Session 4 wrapped up last Sunday). I was actually a little sad when we started, because only two players were able to make it. I thought for certain they'd feel too awkward to play (for was actually his first time), but they still wanted to try it, and had a blast doing so. I'm kind of glad to be starting with a group of complete beginners with a very BASIC dungeon because I'm starting to realize how rough my own DMing skills are after over ten years of not playing (it may be more like 15). I also liked some of the ingenius tactics they seem to take, the attempt to use the orcs as guides..and then as food (a theme that repeats itself later....oops spoiler), I just hoped I don't stifle subconsciously try to stifle this as it creates a great challenge to my own improve skills, and gaming ability.
    Still things went really well with one of the players recapping the session at work the next day.
Sorry for the lateness in my posts, but real life has gotten in the way house..busy work.

PS I'm not certain if the narrative style works, but I'd thought I'd give it a shot anyways.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The BorderLands Campaign has begun

Well after all the anticipation, after all the hype, after all the viral advertising and million dollar box office trailer, the BorderLands campaign is off and running. Okay welll I exaggerate about the trailer; it only cost about 800,000,
One of the reason why I've haven't been very active lately is due to the fact that I've been getting ready; but too be honest I also find that if I don't have much to say, then I usually don't post either (I'm much more of a casual blogger)
   So with out any further ado I give you BorderLands Sessions 1 & 2
The session  began with our intrepid adventurers marching up to the imposing walls of the mighty Keep located at the edges of the untamed wilderness of the North. There they introduced themselves at the gates: Stickles (a thief), Dale (the killing machine), Dakken (a user of the eldritch forces of magic), and Satara (an elven maiden who has studied both the arts of war and magic). In town, they made their way to the local store to gather materials, followed by a trip to the tavern to investigate for rumours on any strange going ons in the area. While there, Dakken pursued his love of the drink, spending the money he had saved on weapons and armour, buying casks of wine. The group also learned of a local mage who may have had some information of interest to them. There they found out about an abandoned stronghold which once belonged to the legendary figures of Zelligar and Rohgan. The retired mage had once been apprenticed to Zelligar, and was curious as to why this deserted fortress was no reported to have lights and activity occuring inside. Asking them to report with any information they can find, the mage made one further request; he told them of a massive crystal located somewhere in the building that he would like to examine. Informing them that the structure would be too large to move, he asked them to leave an enchanted medallion in the same room as the object, allowing him to travel directly to the room.
     Set with this task ( and the promise of great rewards if successful) the adventurers headed of, following the map that was given to them.
     with no incidences along the way the team located the old structure and were at the point of deciding how best to enter.

So ended session 1
Editorial of how it went:
  First off it must be mentioned that no one who played that night had ever played D&D before, so really by the time everyone showed up (we had to wait while one poor player was lost looking for my house), most of the first game was spent going over some basic rules and creating characters. I don't know why it went this slow; if it was me, the newness to the game, or the fact that the pizza arrived soon after the last player, and we kinda spent a good half hour just chatting and eating. But even this short session left me with some important insights to take away for next time.
   I was surprised by the choices of alignment in the game...I think One person was lawful, with the rest choosing between neutral and chaotic...teachers...sheesh....No heroic fantasy for these guys...actually  during the explanation I don't think I stressed chaotic as meaning evil...just individualistic and opportunistic.....again....teachers....
   Looking back I also think that I inserted character role playing to early, trying to use that aspect of B2 with role play of the town guard, tavern keeper, and mage, instead I may try to keep it more about exploring adventuring and discovery, just until people are more comfortable and the "role play" part comes out on its own. This is how it went for session two, and I think it went better (still even here a few interesting moments of role play happen which added to the game.
  I know I still have to work on my book keeping skills (I had a name for the damn town mage but I've lost it somehow), as well as memorizing the adventure. I had read B1 at least twice before the adventure, but still started to blank as they approached Quasqueton; I think I even forgot to mention the name of the stronghold during play. I noticed after wards that the problem may have been that I had read the module more for pleasure then in a mechanical "hey I'm going to be using this fashion".  I really feel this makes a big difference, because next time when I read it with the question "How will this be used in play?" in my mind, I was better able to keep in mind important details. It does mean slower reading, but it helps me mentally feel more prepared, even though there is still a lot of improvisation going on.
  Still despite any problems, things must have went well enough, because everyone was looking forward to playing again; and I will soon give a wrap up of Session 2 (Warts and all again).
This may wait until after Easter (Family will be over so I will be entertaining people).

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The True Green Slime

Okay, so I was driving around today listening to Quirks and Quarks (a science radio show on CBC), and they were talking about green slime. Now I had assumed that yes slime is real, but they were talking about some of its characteristics, and that's when it became a little strange. They can grow up to a few meters in length; around five meters I believe was mentioned on the radio. (their still going to be small at maybe 30 grams though). They are I believe considered single cell organisms, even though they have periods where they multiple nuclei (I don't know if at this point they are still considered unicellular or not, because these nuclei are not separated by cell membranes.They have periods of asexual and sexual reproduction...I hope that image is burnt into your heads, and despite what you may have read in the Monster Manual, their true weakness is direct sunlight (try fighting that in the dungeon depths).

   Now what I found truly found fascinated is that on the show a research scientist was talking about the research she had done showing that these  single celled green slimes, could actually differentiate and make CHOICES about different food sources (keep in mind that they have no brain too) She brought food sources with varying amounts of nutritional value to the slimes to see if they made choices between the foods...for example she had low nutritional food out in sunlight (remember this hurts the slime) the slime I guess would investigate it with a pseudopod (think of that like a small arm) and choose that the payoff wasn't worth the hurt from the put a similar food source in the sunlight with 5x the nutritional value, and the green slime would go for it, deciding that the payoff, in this case food with a higher energy value, was worth the damage it would take from the sun.

   All this the tell you that science has found what has been on page 49  of the Monster Manual all along: a large pulsing green ooze, that can decide whether your worth having as a snack, or not.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Not Just Another +1 Sword (Part 2)

I've got to post these ideas the moment they come to me, I had a much better articulated and thought out idea in my head when I decided to do this, but  I just seem too busy to get them down right away. My wife and I just bought our first home, and we move in 4 we are busy as heck right now.

Right so my next idea on how to keep the magic in magic weapons. Games, or campaigns which have a higher prevalence of magic, may have +1 swords a plenty, and the idea of naming all of them too daunting, or unrealistic.Most classic modules seem to fall in this category; even Keep on the Borderlands looks to have quite a few in the hands of many of the NPC's, not to mention the Caves  of Chaos themselves. Another option here maybe the Hattori Hanzo option (re: Kill Bill 1); have the "low level" swords be crafted by master sword makers. A campaign could have  between 1-5 true master weapon smiths whose  creations are seen as true works of art.  “This my finest sword. If in your journey you should encounter God, God will be cut.” Maybe each one has some sort of signature, sigil, or symbol belonging to the great artist, which is always present on their pieces. It could be that the weapons are expected to held only by those worthy enough  to wield such a treasure, and challenges could be made to test if this is really the case. Perhaps certain martial schools have a signature weapon, which only their members can own (think of what happens if a non-memeber is caught with a Hell's Angel patch).
   Another take maybe the weapon made by an ancient long dead civilization; swords made from Atlantean steel, Bows from the Ancient Groves blessed by the Druids etc. Again anything to give the weapon some kind of history.
   Speaking about history why shouldn't the weapon have a past. I like the idea of the PC's learning a little something about the weapon; things like who owned it, their own fortunes, and what legends are told about them. These things can give the characters a chance to hypothesize about the weapons capabilities. The weapons past doesn't have to be to grandiose, Characters may or may not what a weapon which has belonged to the greatest hero in history, creating an expectation they themselves may never live up to. It could be something as simple as "This weapon belonged to the loyal bodyguard of the Thane of Theosguard, who died protecting the fallen body of his lord liege. Its said that he fought as ten man that day, and sustain such injuries as would have killed twenty. But he held on, refusing to fall, till he saw his fellows rescue the unconscious form of his beloved king." Forget about what plus the weapon has, thats a weapon with some weight behind it, and a pretty good "cool factor".
    A weapon could even come tied with a destiny.  I'm not talking some railroad plotted destiny, it's best if things are left vague enough to allow for its fufillment to be seen after the fact. Who's to say that the great danger that will be overcome wasn't the Blue dragon to which the character just managed to inflict the killing blow. (a nasty idea is to take away the weapons abiltes afterwards, at least until it is needed again). Plus in all honesty the destiny may not necessarily be fulfilled by the character presently holding the weapon (its sad but they just weren't worthy of the great responsibility). It maybe a curse that is also placed on the blade which is hinted at through riddles. My one compliant about old school weapons is that the curses were sometimes to blatantly obvious. Curses can be tied to boons; yes Swiftstrike will allow you to hit first in the first round, but it also leads to hot tempered aggressiveness, with the character needing to role to see if they will attack immediately in an encounter.

I've got a couple of other ideas to share, but I'm going to leave it be for tonight. I hope some of this "idea diarrhea" is proving useful to someone besides myself.


Okay, I'm not a huge hockey fan...but man I can't believe we lost to the US. They had one helluva goalie though; good job this time guys, but we'll be back. Right now its 1- nothing for the Canadians against Germany.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Not Just Another +1 Sword

When I was young and playing (dm'ing actually) I became jaded very quickly to simple +1 weapons. I wanted my magic weapons to have more, do more, and be more. I blame part of this on my youth and the monty haul approach I had to the game when I was young; unlike some others,my small and I were completely self taught in D&D; and boy did we end up doing some pretty "bad" things rules wise with the game. Now though, being older, more experienced, and enjoying the feel of low magic adventure, I want each magical weapon I bring into the game to have some weight behind it; to give an impression of power and history, no matter if it is "just" a +1 weapon or not; and I think I've come up with a few ideas on how that I'd like to share.

My first thought is naming; I believe EVERY magical weapon in a campaign should have a name. I don't know about you, but as a player I'm certain as hell that I'm going to be more frightened if the Gulthor the evil Orc lord is growling at me in a low chuckling voice "Now fool its time for you to taste the cold touch of my blade Night Strike" as opposed to "Now fool its time for you to taste the cold touch of my +1 blade". Naming weapons is just more evocative, pure and simple.
Here's a list of some words I think would make cool sword names, the list is certainly not exhaustive (in fact as I'm writing this I can think of more) but here goes:

autumn horn shred

bane hug silver

bind ice sky

bite kill slay

blade lightning slice

blind luck smash

blood master split

bone metal spring

burst mountain squash

carve night star

claw omen star

cleave part steel

cloud pierce sting

conquer pulverize stone

crusher quelch strike

cutter quell summer

death quick sun

despair razor sweep

edge scratch swift

embrace sea thunder

envy seduction tooth

ever sever torment

fall shade wind

fire shadow winter

flame sharp wound





(Sorry about the formatting, copying tables into blogger is turning out to be more difficult then I had thought)

Looking at this list it occurs to me that I could try and create some random table to create two word weapon names. Some of the words are not meant to work alone of course, just like some verbs work better in their -er form " eg. bone pulverizer". Weapon names can be single words alone (ala Sting), double words (God's Hand ), or describe their function (Sea Spark the Flame Quelcher). I think the names should have some sort of air of mystery, or personality: calling the PC's new magical mace "Envy", for example, is going to lead to some interesting questions from the one who found it.

    Of course the names don't have to be in English, or "common". I personally like Old English words, there's something very direct and hard about them; instead of calling the battle axe "Death" call it ifgedæl, or forðweg. Both here and here are some useful Old English links, there's also old Norse, if you prefer. You get the idea; any old language will add some history and weight to your weapon naming. If you prefer something out of a true historical context there's this site that has a random name generator for many things, weapons included.

You may want to keep in mind whether or not your going to include more powerful weapons later in your campaign. It'd be more appropriate to keep name's like DemonSlayer for that +3 battleaxe +4 vs demons, and give the +1 sword Wolf's Tooth. Both are cool, but the first one does seem better suited for the more powerful weapon.

Names can give clues as to the weapons abilities, but that's not a necessity. Sometimes a little vagueness is a good thing, for example: Silver Bane could give a +2 vs lycanthropes, but who's to say for certain. I could keep going on about naming, but I think you get the idea. The main point is that we should not  discount the power of even a simple one word name to add a little something to your "plain old +1 weapons".

I think I'll add more to this topic, dealing with other ways to bring the magic back to magic weapons very soon.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Education is painful

So, I've learned two very important things today, the first is that I'm not twenty anymore, and can no longer teach grappling right after lifting weights..or is that I can't lift weights just before I hold a grappling class (either way my back hurts and I'm not happy).
But I've also learned there were some big mechanical differences between original d&d and the Moldvay set. You see last night I decided to buy the pdf of Micheal "Chgowiz" Shortens Swords and Wizardy's Reference Sheets. Well I was very pleased with the product, I felt it gave concise information in a useful format, and even gave intstructions on how to make a booklet form of the sheets (I guess I learned something new about my printer too). However when I crossed referenced the mechanic info on levels, spell progression, and turning values ( heck even item prices) I was struck with how much diference there was between oD&D and B/X D&D. I mean I should have been aware of the fact that there would be some differences yes, but I hadn't realized the extent. As a quick example take the cleric (please....ohh groan); in swords and wizardry ( and by extension oD&D I'm assuming) a 10th level cleric requires 225,000 exp, as opposed to B/X which requires 300,000. In swords and Wizardry the spells at 10th level are 3,3,3,3,3; while in B/X its 4,4,3,3,2; the same with turning in B/X they can destroy a vampire (I'm not sure I like this as a smart vampire makes a good NPC foe you just don't want to be obliterated so easily, in Swords and Wizardry ( and again by extension oD&D) you don't have this problem as they can only be TURNED on a 10 (on a d20 of course). This is only one example. Again I knew the mechanics were not exactly the same but I'm still surprised to see just how different they are. A general trend would show that characters progressed faster in terms of exp points in oD&D, maybe not time wise as it may have been harder to earn said experience points in the first place, while B/X D&D had slower progressions with more powerful changes at each new level. I wonder why that was?
Well any way the reference sheets are still good for me, but not quite as usefulr for my game as I thought, because Its going to be a combined Moldvay/Mentzer D&D game (I just hope these two aren't different mechanically.
Maybe I can find a way to create my own sheets...ummm food for thought.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My B2 Plot Hooks (thus far)

Well, I've been reading through B2 Keep on the Borderland, and trying to decide on some plot hooks to incorporate to keep it from being all hack'n slash. Some things that are needed are connections to the people in the keep, goals while in the caverns, chances for roleplaying and negotiation, the chance to overcome some tricks and traps, and finally some mystery to keep the players wanting to investigate these caverns. Here are some ideas I've gotten and decided to write down, so they don't get forgotten; they're not presented in any order, and they are pretty rough right now:

1) Once the characters have established themselves, and been introduced to the Castellan, a memeber of his family could go missing (kidnapped by the priests of Chaos). I'm picturing the Castellan as an older man (mid forties-fifties), a rough frontier type noble very common sense and straight forward (probably not favoured by any distant "court". His son a promising heir with an expectant wife (don't know why).

2) If the Orcs capture the characters in the net trap, they may try to use the characters to rescue their brethern from the goblin/hobgoblin alliance, or to kill the hired "Big Guns" aka the Ogre. I see the proposed warring groups as splitting between lines of those aligned with the priests of chaos and more independent races. One idea I've been toying with is that the goblins are natural beings of chaos who are subservient to the priests while the orcs and gnolls are magically created to be superior, but proved to unreliable and rebelled against their masters.

3)The jewel merchant may have a story of a trusted seller coming with a famed necklace who barely survived an attack from tiny dog faced demons known to lair at the foreboding caves.

4)The hermit may have been an apprentice of Zelligar the Unknown. I don't want to dismiss Search of the Unknown, and the hermit maybe a nice link between the two. Aswell the Zelligar, and Rogahn may have fought the Priests ( or worked with them). Of course there is nothing set in stone here, just an idea to link the two modules. It would mean looking at how to show signs of this link in the adventures' tower-cavern complex though.

6) The treacherous priest the treacherous priest, oh what to do with the treacherous priest.

Well these are just some hooks I thought of using, there are still more to come. I also want to flesh out the priests of chaos a little bit : why are they there, what are their goals, are they a death cult, do they serve some elder evil god, how prevalent or powerful are they? While I don't want to restrict myself too much in the beginning; some history here would help.
My goal here is to leave pausible plot hooks without forcing a railroad plot on people. I'd like to know what others think; are any of these good ideas, too railroady, am I over-thinking this ( okay I probably am over thinking this, but its fun!).
I know there is a vocal group out there who have gone away from total world creation before getting started (and I for one agree), however I'd like to have a little background history to work with, as opposed to make it all up on the fly.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Good News

Okay, so what happened right, why didn't I get a game going?
Well being in a predominatley French part of Canada has always proven to be a challenge on extra curriculars, bought especially in something like D&D which relies so heavily on verbal descriptions, and lets face it describing a detailed dungeon room is challenging enough in English, my French is just not good enough to make it work.
Recently though I had read a post from James raggi at LotFP describing how to get players, well the gist of the article was to tell me to get off my butt and ask, so I did just that. Since I had no takers from the letter I had posted at the game store, I just sucked it up and asked people at work. Low and behold I got four takers ( a couple I didn't think would) with a couple of other maybes. So I told them that I was going to set up a game for them after we move in a month (it's just too busy and chaotic in here right now).
My wife and I will have a new home and I'll be set up to host them in style (maybe with a little home baking as well). My question now is which module to introduce them to classic d&d with; my gut is saying B2 Keep on the Borderlands: I like to idea of starting them in the small keep and its combination of dungeon, town, and wilderness possibilities; with some work I can hopefully create backstories to open up the dungeon so its more that just exploring the dungeon for exploring's sake. I don't what railroady plots, but I feel that they'll want some goals to work towards, particularly in the first session. It's got to be something that will hook them in to want to play more (three of the four have never played before).
My only hesitation with B2 is it does seem to be combat focussed, with very little in the line of purpose (which I will have to create, and very few traps, there's just one I think). I think I can change things up to maybe add an extra danger or too; and maybe some connection with the evil priests in town (after all the hobgoblins have prisoners from town, and captive maybe there's possibilties there as well).
So I'm not completely sold on B2 yet, but if anyone has any input about B2, or ideas for introducing new adult players into the game, let me know.

P.S. This is the first time I've created a link on blogger, It's supposed to be idiot proof, which sounds just about right for my level, so let's see if it worked.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Back after an insanely long layoff

Well color me embarrassed; I mean I didn't really plan to be away so long. I never planned on being a daily blogger or anything, but I mean 5 months, wow. Of course work does take its toll, just like for everyone else, but that's still no excuse. I could try to blame the fact that I had no real new rpg info to add; I still don't think that's reason enough. No the reason is, that only truly possible reason sheer laziness. Yep
You see part of the reason for doing this has been to not only record my attempt to play d&d again. but to also try and become more familiar with the technology of the medium. I teach at a school where computers have become highly prevalent, so I thought this would be a fun way to get better at some of the web technology being used, which means that I can't get lazy about doing my blog, because it could help me at my job (a little at least, I still believe my first responsibility as a teacher is to teach).
Of course, once the school year started this all went to the wayside, as not only do I teach, but I also coach some sports with the students after school. Plus not to get too personnel, but the wife and I have been busy since the summer house hunting (a none too easy task let me tell you).
So long story short (too late) life started to get in the way, but I'm sure I could have posted something if I hadn't been too lazy. That said though,there is some interesting information to share which I will get to very shortly