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.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Panderii Skirmishers

The Panderii Skirmishers — also known as the Panders, the Pander Fighting School, or the Dagrayuro in the elves' native tongue — were a fighting unit organized under the Dark Elves of Rockulon Prime.  Well aware of the potency field permeating Rockulon Prime's Crystal Sphere, they developed a fighting and training style to make use of it.

Since the collapse of the drow, some military schools have continued to practice the school while other warriors have learned and developed some of the tenets on their own (or read about them in old tomes, or whatever).

A Panderii Skirmisher advances as a typical member of the fighter class — same base attack/thac0/whatever, same saving throws, same XP chart.  If your game uses prime requisites (such as AD&D), these are also unchanged — for example, AD&D 2e requires a minimum Strength 9, and offers a bonus 10% XP for a Strength of 16+).

Panderii differ from normal fighters in several ways:

  • If your game system assumes fighters automatically attract followers at domain level (or whenever they build a stronghold), Panderii do not automatically gain followers.
  • If your game uses weapon specialization for fighters (as AD&D 2e does), Panderii don't gain that, either.
  • Panderii cannot wear any armor, although they can use shields.
  • Panderii are limited to the following weapons: clubs, daggers, darts, hand crossbows, knives, lassos, short bows, slings, broadswords, long swords, short swords, and staves.

However, in exchange for these limitations, Panderii gain the following benefits:

  • Panderii Skirmishers gain a +2 bonus to AC (so +2 for ascending AC, -2 for descending AC).
  • Panderii move at 1.25× normal speed.  So, for example, Labyrinth Lord assumes 120' as a base movement speed; Panderii would move at 150'.  In AD&D, the base movement for a standard human is 12; the Panderii would move at 15.
  • Panderii Hit Dice move up one step — so, a Labyrinth Lord fighter with d8 HD would step up to a d10 HD; AD&D fighters with d10 HD would step up to d12 HD.
  • Panderii also gain the thief ability to Move Silently, with a base chance equal to the Panderii's Dexterity score + level.  As such, a Level 1 Panderii with Dexterity 14 would have Move Silently 15%, whereas a Level 9 Panderii with Dexterity 16 would have Move Silently 25%.
For obvious reasons, Panderii tend towards high Dexterity to boost AC.  On Rockulon Prime, they also tend towards high Strength or Charisma, as high values in these offer natural AC bonuses, as per the potency field.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Year Three

Tomorrow marks three years of How to Succeed in RPGs or Die Trying (starting with this post), which basically catalogs my transition from a modern occult horror conspiracy game master to a medieval fantasy game master.  I'm sure I'll wind up back among modern horror games before too long.

The past year has been pretty uneven in terms of regular blogging, but gaming has been fairly consistent (for certain values of consistent).  I continue to run Crux of Eternity when I can get the gaming group together, and I started running What Luck Betide Us, which similarly struggles with the tribulations of gaming as an adult.  I even managed to run a session of my woefully neglected solo campaign, True in Some Sense.

I've probably played more than I've run, however.  We continue the Changeling: the Lost game (although next week is supposed to be the last session), and occasionally get to play Rogue Trader with our ghetto fabulous crew.

Despite getting to the starting point I wanted, I've been lax in planning the Carcosa megadungeon; call it a new year's resolution to ensure it is operational and ready for the Google+ FLAILSNAILS crowd.  I am still ruminating on the abandoned Spelljammer game, though — my headspace has refused to let go of it and I hope to resurrect it.  You know, eventually.  (Really, I should bring some form of that to Google+.)

I haven't written anything terribly popular in the past year — a major side effect of not blogging — although my review of The God-Machine Chronicle certainly counts, and it's currently the most popular post on the blog.

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