Monday, February 23, 2015

You Should GM: DM Roundtable

A couple of weeks ago, Wizards of the Coast posted a video offering Dungeon Master advice from DMs around their office.  It's all stuff with which long-term GMs are familiar, but it might be worth a look for anybody just starting out.  And if you have a spare 77 minutes lying around.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Tom Braider

Having recently finished Tomb Raider — despite my previously-stated plan, I decided to pause between Dragon Age II and Dark Souls — and still having AD&D on the brain, I found those two ideas weirdly synchronize.

There'll be mild spoilers ahead, so be wary of those.

For those of you who don't know, this is a reboot of the franchise in which an archaeological expedition hits some foul weather and shipwrecks on an abandoned island in its best Lost impression.  Lara Croft — a mere stripling of an archaeologist, and not the action protagonist treasure-seeker of previous games — is separated from the group.  After almost dying several times, she manages to find the others and uncover the secrets of the island.

Despite the more-or-less linear gameplay, they manage to make a neat little island hexcrawl with all the hallmarks of D&D.  Resource management isn't actually a thing, but one of the first objectives is to find food, and ammunition is always threatening to run out, even though it never truly does.  You don't actually risk starvation, but hunting and foraging are core mechanics.  As befits a game called Tomb Raider, the island is pock-marked by numerous small tombs, and tons of relics dot the island.

Plus, there are (admittedly simplistic) factions.  The main secret of the isle revolves around the worship of the so-called "Sun Queen," and the two groups are mildly antagonistic to each other despite both being her cultists.  (On more than one occasion, the appearance of one group distracts the other, allowing you to escape certain doom.)  On the one hand, you have legions of the Sun Queen's undying samurai, and on the other, you have a cult of shipwreck survivors who believe the Sun Queen will allow them to escape if they can provide her spiritual essence with a new vessel to inhabit.

It's not quite The Isle of Dread, but I would love to run an island hexcrawl of this nature.  Instead of idols and gems and gold, treasure tends to be food and whatever you can scavenge to craft the things you need to survive.  (How often do the crafting rules get game time, anyway?)  And in the meantime, you can have all the D&D weirdness of exploration, magic, secrets, and tombs.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Tower of the Stargazer for 5e

I ran Tower of the Stargazer for D&D 5e, and neglected to put my notes up here.

So, here are Tower of the Stargazer 5e conversion notes.

I used a gold treasure standard, but you're of course free to do as you'd like.

Incidentally, it went about as well as one might expect — the thief fell victim to one of the mirrors, and then wandered off by himself to steal the golden thread, which went about as well as one would expect.  The other three PCs survived, gained the thread, and profited from his fatal mistake.

Friday, January 23, 2015

1d10 Random Villages

Go straight to the entries: 1d10 Random Villages

Some of my associates are planning a round-robin D&D 5e game, and an entry I placed on a random encounter table is "A small village of 30+3d10, nestled in the woods."  Although I have some village building resources, it's always helpful to prepare ahead of time so you don't have to pause the game to generate a village.

So, I made ten of them.  Since that means that anywhere from 0 to 10 results might not get used, someone ought to find some use for them, right?  Why not these fine readers?

Stats are exceedingly minimal, but assume 5e.  (If it matters, the Religion check in entries #2 and #5 should be whatever would reflect an exceedingly difficult check regarding an obscure religion.  In entry #9, the deity should be any Lawful Good deity, and you can change the dragonborn paladin to a human paladin with no particular trouble.  If you don't use paladins, just use a cleric or a religious fighter.  Likewise, if you don't use sorcerers, assume the sorcerer in #9 is a magic-user.)

So, without further ado, 1d10 Random Villages.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Obligatory Update: 2015 Edition

Sadly, not a whole lot happening on the gaming front.  (At least, not anything truly blog-worthy.)

I'm still running that Dungeon World game.  I don't have much DIY stuff for it, though, because the PCs' responses to most things are Hack and Slash and Volley (usually with intensely graphic descriptions).  They are exceedingly efficient at murdering Scandshar.  I have a couple of extra monsters and magic items, but those will likely stay under wraps for now.  (Although, if you missed The Wendigo compendium class, there's that.)

It looks like Nicole and I are about to play a spot of D&D 5e.  I already have a sorcerer in mind; I don't know what she'll play.

Spelljammer has returned to my headspace and still won't let go after a year and a half; it now comes complete with a character creation document (still in progress, of course).

The current plan is to run A Single, Small Cut and Death Frost Doom at Madicon this year, as a sequel to the Death Love Doom run from two years ago.

A friend of mine wants me to run Rifts, which would require me to read any Palladium book; I have several, but I've never had cause to read them.  I suppose this is just cause.

The Carcosa megadungeon continues to lay fallow.  I think my New Years' resolution should be to get that underway.

I have been playing more video games, however.  I'm currently absorbing Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II, and D&D: Daggerdale.  As I'll likely be playing Dark Souls next, I clearly only play video games that start with "D" anymore.  I think that's why Spelljammer has returned to my headspace; fantasy immersion brings me back to AD&D.  (Plus it helps that Dragon Age is a little sandbox-y, as that's completely what I want for Spelljammer.)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from the Wendigo!

In honor of Thanksgiving in the United States, I offer you a Compendium Class for Dungeon World: The Wendigo!  Based on the D&D 4e monster of the same name (detailed in the Demonomicon), the wendigo is a demon that possesses people who become cannibals.  Willing cannibals can channel the power of the demon such that they retain control of their faculties.

It's my first Compendium Class, so feedback is welcome.

So, without further ado, The Wendigo!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Dungeon World

This is probably a little less structured than my other reviews, more properly being "rambled thoughts on Dungeon World," but there you have it.  (The fact that I haven't blogged in two months likely contributes.)

For those not in the know, I have been running a Dungeon World campaign every two weeks for two months; today is session number six.  Having had a few weeks to ruminate on the subject, I've started forming some thoughts on the game.

(Also, if you're interested, you can read the whole thing online.  So you can easily take it for a test drive before purchasing.)

Dungeon World hits a lot of notes I enjoy in gaming.  I enjoy quick task resolution, modular complexity, and modular character ability, and Dungeon World has all those in spades.  Roll 2d6, add your modifier, and compare against a set range of numbers.  Boom, task resolved.  Likewise, you can easily hack it, so it can be as rules-heavy or as rules-lite as you'd like.  Finally, since it's heavily narrative, you can be as gritty or as high fantasy as you'd like with it — maybe each attack roll kills hordes of mooks, or maybe each roll represents a single, desperate struggle against one guy.  It's your call, really.

Coming from a variety of wide-open, traditional RPGs, though, the prescriptive basic/advanced move list is a little different, at least at first.  (I personally prefer the simpler task resolution in World of Dungeons.)  Beginning GMs will likely spend time trying to delineate whether a given action falls under a given type of move; it's a small learning curve, but a notable learning curve nonetheless.  Likewise, it's not as granular as many traditional RPGs.  It can handle the mapping and resource management tasks of classic D&D, as well as that Oregon Trail feel, but it certainly doesn't do it in quite as structured a way — if you're expecting to map a dungeon 120' every ten minutes, this is going to be quite different.  (You're probably just going to manage a rough sketch in vague, narrative time.)

Likewise, it does narrative combat rather than tactical combat.  Since I started with World of Darkness, narrative combat is old hat to me, but it's still a very different animal than D&D's regimented combat system; even classic D&D's abstract combat requires a certain amount of tactical acumen (unsurprising, given D&D's wargaming pedigree).

Overall, Dungeon World is very good at providing a quick, action-movie feel to the somewhat staid world of fantasy role-playing games, but lacks the granular rules that sometimes add a little panache to the affair.  It won't handle resource management and dungeon mapping in a way to which you're accustomed, but that might suit your needs.

For me, I'll certainly use it sometimes — it's great for beginning groups, particularly since it's a little forgiving in terms of combat, and the fast resolution mechanics mean it's also great for one shots — but sometimes I want that complexity to give the rules a little more shape.  Additionally, the emphasis on narrative and intraparty relations does not suit every game, although it certainly covers a wide variety of them.

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