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.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Sorrowfell Plains

I finally made a Hexographer map of the Sorrowfell Plains, the main campaign setting for my Crux of Eternity game.  I haven't yet put the roads on it, but it otherwise includes all locations noted in Crux of Eternity or any of the associated one-shots.

There are, of course, towns, villages, and geographic features not yet noted on the map; they'll get added as they become important.

Bread and Circuses players take note; this is where you live, too.  Scandshar is right in the middle.

And yes, you grognards, one hex is six miles across.  Geographic features are written in Dominican font; settlements are written in Village font (or you can download it from this The Prisoner fansite).

Click to enlarge.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dwimmermount: the Dwimmermountening

As of a week ago, our long national nightmare is over:

There are still some bits and bobs coming, but the bulk of the thing actually exists and is in the world.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dungeon World: Bread and Circuses

Running the first actual session of my new Dungeon World game tonight, so we'll see how that goes.  The characters are all enslaved gladiators.  We did character creation last week, with the following results:

Ashraf Scarscale, The Battlemaster

Evil kobold battlemaster

Croitus, The Necromancer

Evil alligator-man necromancer

Dhavita, The Medic (picture updated 9/14/2014, 5:41 PM)

Good dhampir medic.

Nobody, The Barbarian (picture updated 9/14/2014, 10:45 PM)

Chaotic eladrin barbarian

Resh Burntscale, The Skirmisher

Neutral kobold skirmisher
Southie, The Brute

Chaotic dwarf brute
That's the setup — we'll see how it goes!

Monday, September 8, 2014


Since I didn't get around to it in August, I'm going to do a brief entry for Autocratik's #RPGaDay today.

Click to enlarge.

Without further ado:

1. First RPG Played

I'd be hard-pressed to recall, as I started running first and that's more memorable to me.  I'm sure it was World of Darkness, — maybe Werewolf? — although I might be wrong on that count.

2. First RPG Gamemastered

Vampire: the Masquerade (second edition, if you're curious).  I ran a couple of abortive attempts before finally making The Imperial City, which eventually focused from play-whatever-you-want to Mage: the Ascension.

3. First RPG Purchased

A lot of my first RPGs were gifts, but I actually think the first thing I purchased was several Deadlands sourcebooks.

4. Most recent RPG purchase

I just got the AD&D 1e Manual of the Planes in the mail the other day, so we'll go with that.

5. Most Old School RPG owned

I have the Wizards of the Coast reprint of the 1974 D&D books (books I-III, and supplements I-IV).  In terms of actual age, I have a copy of the Holmes Basic Set.

6. Favourite RPG Never get to play

Unknown Armies.  I've run it once or twice, but people always get bored with it and want to move on.  Perhaps I'm no good at running it?

7. Most "intellectual" RPG owned

Does the Nobilis 2e book count?  If not, Ron Edwards' books are probably pretentious enough to count.

8. Favourite character

Hard to say.  I know "Crazy" Jerry, the Ratkin based on the historical Crazy Jerry, was a fan favorite.  I always seem to revisit Dr. Ebenezer Zirpoli or Paul St. Claire.  I thoroughly enjoyed Ermolai, the heavily-political Nosferatu Red Sign cultist.

9. Favourite Die / Dice Set

I don't tend to fetishize my dice all that much.  I appreciate my Chessex smiley dice and Zocchi dice.  (Doubly so on the latter because I just learned Gamescience is no longer a thing.)

10. Favourite tie-in Novel / Game Fiction

Game fiction tends to be of uneven quality, although World of Darkness is usually pretty good.  (Usually.)  I really enjoyed The God-Machine Chronicle anthology.

11. Weirdest RPG owned

Going to go with Noumenon, wherein you play telepathic humanoid cockroaches in a surreal dungeon environment.  And when I say "telepathic," I mean only with the other PCs; you cannot verbally communicate with any other creature you meet.

12. Old RPG you still play / read

Unknown Armies, full stop (second edition is over ten years old, so I'd count it).  I've also been ruminating on AD&D, as I do.

13. Most Memorable Character Death

When playing, mine tend to be standard overwhelmed-and-too-much-damage deaths (although Bart "The Bastard" Mason died when he gazed upon Abhoth, gained psychosomatic blindness, and then stumbled through the dark until the entity ate him).  My players, on the other hand, tend to get decapitated, ripped in half, devoured by eldritch abominations, and unwritten from reality.  A couple of my PCs in The Imperial City were ripped apart in Nephandic Cauls.  A couple of other PCs were punched to death by shadowy vampires — one of them notably post-coitus.  Bezaldooz was ripped in half by umber hulks.

14. Best Convention Purchase

I've obtained a lot of signed game artwork at conventions, so that's pretty cool.

15. Favourite Convention Game

The Continuum game we played probably counts for table-top.  PST Productions always runs good LARPs; the one wherein I played a Nazi occultist always stands out in my mind.

16. Game you wish you owned

A vintage copy of 1974 D&D would be nice.  Some day, perhaps.

17. Funniest Game you've played

Gaming tends to be pretty hilarious in our circles, so that's a hard choice.  Maybe the one Red Dwarf game we played counts?

18. Favourite Game System

Unknown Armies.

19. Favourite Published Adventure

Better Than Any Man is a pretty strong wilderness hexcrawl.  I've always wanted to run Day of the Beast (also known as Fungi from Yuggoth).

20. Will still play in 20 years time...

Any of them, but let's be frank — I will always play Unknown Armies.

21. Favourite Licensed RPG

Since it's the only one I've really played, maybe Firefly?

22. Best Secondhand RPG Purchase

Unknown Armies, of course.  In terms of value, probably Star Wars Saga Edition.

23. Coolest looking RPG product / book

The Lamentations of the Flame Princess books are always gorgeous.  Of course, Nobilis is a pretty coffee table book.

24. Most Complicated RPG Owned

Traveller is infamous for its reams of charts (so much so that HoL parodied the whole shebang), although I might go with Continuum — the rules aren't complicated, but I'm intimidated by the prospect of running it as keeping track of the timestream seems a little daunting.

25. Favourite RPG no one else wants to play

Again, Unknown Armies.

26. Coolest character sheet

Dungeon World and Lamentations of the Flame Princess have both pretty and intensely functional character sheets.  So does Deadlands, for that matter.

27. Game You'd like to see a new / improved edition of...

I liked the rulesets of both, and so wouldn't specifically want any changes there, but I'm glad to hear that both Delta Green and Unknown Armies are getting new editions that will update the metaplot to the modern day.  (The latter is still up in the air — they could always completely change the metaplot of UA and still be totally in-theme, but I would like to see an update for the 2015 occult underground.)

28. Scariest Game you've played

LARPing at Avalon was always good for a panicked flight or pitched battle.  Knowing that I'm playing a Lamentations of the Flame Princess module immediately sets the mood; bad things are going to happen.

29. Most memorable encounter

We still talk about Changeling: the Dreaming prelude I played wherein a unicorn entered my office.  I forget the context, but the line, "Unicorns don't poop," was uttered.

30. Rarest RPG Owned

A fair number of them are out-of-print with limited print runs originally available.  Maybe Nobilis?

31. Favourite RPG of all time

Look out, here it comes again: Unknown Armies.

Friday, August 15, 2014


So I made a bad pun on Google+ yesterday, suggesting that Rafael Chandler should have called Slaughtergrid by the name "Quimmermount" instead.

But then I stormed a brain and realized — orcs on Rockulon Prime were originally vat-bred by the drow, like Peter Jackson's take on the Uruk-hai.  Being that the drow were sufficiently advanced, it makes perfect sense that birthing pits would somehow be self-regulating (or at least some of them would have been).  Probably some mild artificial intelligence, making the whole thing like a sentient ooze that generates orcs.

So what if one went bad, like cancer?  A cancerous flesh labyrinth, burrowing deeper into the earth, spreading corruption as it goes.  A malign, insane, genius-level intellect guiding the dungeon.

It would still have traps and monsters, but these would be part of its immune system.  There would probably also be mutant orcs as its birthing pit protocol became increasingly corrupted.

It could probably also have treasure — it produces bezoars and pearls and weird mineral deposits that work like gems, and it has probably absorbed precious metals and magic items.  It probably has caches from adventurers who previously attempted to delve it.  Or it created weird, organic devices of its own design, looking like chaositech or Yuuzhan Vong nonsense.

For that matter, what if Quimmermount needs organic material to generate further legions of progeny?  What if it is deliberately attracting adventurers to generate the necessary material, supplementing it with whatever its pseudopods can catch.

So, Quimmermount.  A cancerous orc birthing pit worming its way into the earth.  A living, breathing megadungeon.  It's a thing.

Brainstorm the Second: By the way, if you run a game like Lamentations of the Flame Princess which tones down the fantasy elements and makes creatures unique, perhaps this is the only source of orcs in your campaign setting.  Maybe orcs are relatively rare, only haunting one particular location with Quimmermount at its heart.

So when some baron asks you to look for these greenish, pig-faced monsters haunting, say, the Black Forest, you find the corrupted birthing pit at its heart, no doubt made by some antediluvian civilization for unknown purposes.  Or maybe the original birthing pit seed fell to Earth in a meteor strike, and has only now grown enough to start spewing out its bio-engineered progeny.

Maybe orcs are humanoid because it uses human DNA as the template.

I'm just rambling now, but there you go.

Print Friendly