Monday, July 29, 2013

Primeval Thule Kickstarter

I'm still invested in Primeval Thule even though it has not quite reached its goals.  The campaign has four days left and about a third left of its goal (about $20,000).  That's a long way to go, but I've watched James Raggi do it before, although he may have access to forbidden Finnish magic.  The jury's still out on that one.

Anyway, Primeval Thule is a pulp genre mash-up setting that draws heavily on the traditions of Robert E. Howard — savage sword-and-sorcery action with the threat of big, nasty Lovecraftian horror in the background.    Primeval Thule uses the core conceit of Forgotten Realms (mythic Earth) cross-pollinated with the Hyperborean Age or Middle-earth (prehistoric Earth) — Thule was the mythic Thule of the Greeks, the fabled northern continent, but has since become a lost land.  Humanity is a young race, having arisen in a savage wilderness with aspects of ancient cultures and creatures.

As is the way of sword-and-sorcery, Thule is predominantly human, although demihumans do occur.  They are, however, rare; there is probably just one city of elves, one city of dwarves, and so forth.  These demihuman enclaves are small and hard-to-find.  (The game will also note the possibility of using the demihuman races, but just making them cultural variants of humanity.)

Likely the best way to experience Thule is through Sasquatch Game Studio's website.  They have a post describing Thule in seven sentences, as well as a post talking about adventure design in Thule.  The news feed is also a good place to look: it features articles describing the lost continent of Thule, a sample star-spawned danger of Thule (with Pathfinder statistics), twenty-five adventure seeds, and how demihumans will fit into Thule, among other information.

The Primeval Thule Kickstarter ends August 1.  Primeval Thule is compatible with Pathfinder, D&D 4e, 13th Age, and Call of Cthulhu.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Campaign Updates

Things continue to be slow on the things-to-post-on-the-hobby-blog front.

But, I continue to run and organize campaigns, so that's good, right?

If you want to read about my D&D 4e game that's been running for two years (we play infrequently, unfortunately), check out Crux of Eternity.

If you want to read about my comparatively more recent AD&D 2e Spelljammer game, check out Can't Take the Sky.  We also play infrequently, although we're scheduled to play this weekend.  I'm not convinced that will work out.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pulp Era Kickstarters

I've come across two current campaigns to start kicks, and I bring them to your attention.

Exile Game Studio's Revelations of Mars is an expansion to the award-winning Hollow Earth Expedition role-playing game.  For those not in the know, Hollow Earth Expedition is a 1930s pulp adventure game wherein characters are adventurers and explorers in the Hollow Earth.  Previous expansions added further detail to Hollow Earth and also detailed the pulp weirdness happening on earth's surface; Revelations of Mars expands the action to encompass Mars, providing rules for a not-quite-Barsoom world of weird science fantasy.  Revelations of Mars has already hit its funding, but it's a good opportunity to pre-order the book or round out your Hollow Earth Expedition collection.  The Revelation of Mars Kickstarter ends on July 31.

Sasquatch Game Studio's Primeval Thule is a savage sword-and-sorcery pulp fantasy setting for Pathfinder, D&D 4e, and 13th Age.  It's a little Robert E. Howard, a little H. P. Lovecraft, and a little Edgar Rice Burroughs.  (On the H. P. Lovecraft front, they're also going to provide a conversion document for Call of Cthulhu, and one of the adventures is designed to be used with the miniatures from Cthulhu Wars.)  With an awesome horror pulp setting (like Dark Sun but with more than one biome) and industry veterans like Rich Baker and Todd Lockwood, I'm particularly excited about this project.  It has not yet reached its funding, but is nearly halfway there with roughly 17 days to go.  (Basically, support the project, because I want to get a copy.)  The Primeval Thule Kickstarter ends on August 1.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Good News and Bad News

This week I was introduced to two videos about Dungeons & Dragons.  The first details a fundamentalist Christian take on D&D suggesting that it's actually a cult activity:

I never get to be Lord of the Little People.

The second video is an interview with Vin Diesel in which he discusses playing D&D.  The part where he talks about a player's demeanor changing about two hours in?  That's right on target:

Deadlands, Part XL

When last we left our heroes, the group boarded a train to Albuquerque, from there hoping to travel to Garrison Wells by way of Amarillo.  While en route, the group exorcised the creature from Ruby and Father Seward, acting under the influence of the spirit inside him, stabbed Rufina and kicked her out of the train.

Father Seward gives a cockeyed grin and raises his hands in the air.  Rex draws his gatling pistols and puts several rounds in Seward's chest.

Once Seward is immobile, Rex takes his gun and asks what must be done with him.  As Ollie is still in the corner, and Ruby is curled in the fetal position on the floor, Rex's conversation is largely with David.  David says that he thinks Father Seward should be left alive.  Rex disagrees, saying that puts the whole party at risk.  David says that if Seward is going to save the world and close the Hellgate, it's worth the risk to the party.

Seward is to be left alive.  Rex and David use David's belt to secure his arms.  Then, they sit and await Albuquerque.

About an hour later, Father Seward starts to awaken.  Despite having been overtaken by the demon inside him, he recalls everything.  He tells Rex he's a bad shot, and then rolls off the side of the train.  Rex, unprepared, doesn't grab him in time, but he draws his gatling pistols and starts aiming for Seward's head.  Several rounds are discharged before a blast of scarlet paints the desert and Seward's body slumps to the ground, lifeless.


Since Father Seward was apparently integral to the Devil's plan, our GM called game there.  Deadlands is finished for now.

So, apparently, Cobb's plan involved becoming mortal and being forgiven so that he could enter Heaven and storm the gates.  He gathered certain people to aid in these affairs: David Hood and Ruby O'Flahertie owned the land surrounding the Hellgate, Father Seward was empowered by God and could actually forgive the Devil of his sins, and Jake was going to take the Devil's place as the new ruler of Hell.  However, the Devil ran into a little snag: as a mortal, he was subject to mortal emotions, and ended up falling in love with Seward's daughter.  When the Indians' ritual involving Seward's daughter didn't work, they savaged her and started carrying her with them as they traveled.  Cobb encountered her again years later and fell in love, taking her from the Indians, raising her as his daughter (and also keeping her around as his lover).  As such, he had developed a genuine interest in saving the world from the growing Hellgate.  Whoopsie daisy.

(Of course, the Devil being the Devil, when given the choice between staying with his lover and declaring war on Heaven, guess which one he'd take.)

Anybody who is interested can go ahead and read Father Seward's backstory.  For the record, he was heavily inspired by Jack Crabb from Little Big Man, and the Preacher from Pale Rider.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Art Evolution

The other day, I came across this cool thing: writer Scott Taylor managed to contact a bunch of classic role-playing game artists and each get them to illustrate a character.  In this case, Taylor picked an old character of his, asking each artist to illustrate "a female wizard named Lyssa, who always wears white trimmed in gold and has raven-black hair."

Over the course of the project, he manages to get artists such as Jeff Laubenstein, Jeff Dee, Tony DiTerlizzi, Larry Elmore, and Liz Danforth.

Check it out here.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Decamer Campaign

Hot on the heels of my Fiend Folio campaign setting, I came across this Gnome Stew article describing a campaign in which you take whichever ten D&D monsters you think are the dumbest and write a campaign featuring them.  (Basically like Jeff Rients' proscriptive campaign creation or noisms' 2d6 random creatures as the core of a campaign setting, except a trifle more silly in conception.  Also a good time to note noisms list of his ten favorite monsters.)

You should go read it.

Fiend Folio World: Llurb Tdunon

(Apart from any errant travelers who may happen upon the world, Llurb Tdunon is entirely made of Fiend Folio creatures.  Feel free to check out the Fiend Folio-only encounter tables that accompany this world.)

Set in the same star system as Rockulon Prime, Llurb Tdunon is an enormous world (albeit with Earth-strength gravity), hundreds of thousands of miles in diameter.  (In Spelljammer terms, it's a Size H, Type E spherical world.)  Llurb Tdunon is a savage land of tundra, desert, forest, and jungle.  Like Rockulon Prime, Llurb Tdunon's development was also influenced by the coming of the Space-God.  Unlike Rockulon Prime, Llurb Tdunon did not play host to the dead-but-undying deity's corpus, but rather, the planet was infused with large quantities of the Space-God's blood (so much so that it has a somewhat ruddy hue, and even has a series of red rings, formed by frozen blood droplets).  The quantity of deific blood prompted both strange evolutionary lineages as well as the proliferation of extraplanar portals.  Various outsiders — such as githzerai and githyankislaads, and even the occasional devil — roam the landscape.  It is said that the Princes of Elemental Evil even roam the landscape in material forms.

The natives, largely ignorant of the mythos of the Space-God, instead worship the strange outsiders that have come to be known on this world.  In addition to the Princes of Elemental Evil, the planet's inhabitants are also known to worship Ssendam, Lord of Insanity, and Ygorl, Lord of Entropy.  While many of the planet's drow worship the Princes of Elemental Evil, some have turned to the heretical worship of Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders.  (Oddly, apart from retrievers, there aren't really any spider-like creatures on Llurb Tdunon.  Scholars think the local populace either treat the spiders as mythological creatures, or that some of the drow originate off-world and brought spider lore with them.)

Note that the good races typically also worship these deities, although their prayers and sacrifices are largely rituals of placation, and they tend to worship different aspects of the deities.  The Princes of Elemental Evil, for example, are venerated simply for their connection to natural forces, while some clerics refer to healing spells as "The Closing of Lord Ygorl's Eye," referring to the idea that the Lord of Entropy's ignorance allows growth and healing to happen.

All-in-all, Llurb Tdunon is a savage land populated by monstrous humanoids and weird creatures.  Barring visitors from other worlds and planes, native sapient races include creatures such as aarakocrabullywugs, dakon, drow, flinds, githzerai, kenkusvirfneblin, and the like.  With no native unifying race, the races tend to be insular and largely keep to themselves.  (Adventuring parties composed of humanoids, however, occasionally occur.)  As such, cities tend to have lots of untamed land between them, and they tend to organize along racial lines.

(Parties interested in the background of Llurb Tdunon may wish to read about the development of Fiend Folio encounter tables.)

Fiend Folio World: Fiend Folio Encounter Tables

(If you just came here for the Fiend Folio wandering monster tables, click the following link: View: Fiend Folio Wandering Monster Tables.)

Long before I started blogging, Jeff Rients mentioned the idea of "proscriptive campaign creation," referring to a campaign with certain intentional limits.  In the linked post, he discusses using Booklet 2: Monsters and Magical Items of S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth as the starting point of a campaign setting, but he also mentions the prospect of using 1981's Fiend Folio as the basis of a campaign setting.

While adventuring through the OSR blogosphere, I feel like I've heard this concept a couple of times, and decided that since I'm working on a Spelljammer game for my associates, now would be as good a time as any to work on the concept.  (For that matter, the Spelljammer core box set notes the possibility of using obscure Fiend Folio creatures to populate a world on pages 11 and 12 of Lorebook of the Void.)

As such, I decided to make a Fiend Folio-only campaign setting.

I'm really just here for the Fiend Folio stuff

Before I bore you with a ton of design notes, here are the Fiend Folio-only wandering monster tables in Google Drive spreadsheet format.  If that's all you want, just follow that link and you're good to go.  They're not terribly pretty, and they're not in a good format for printing, but they're readable.

When I decided to make a Folian setting, I discovered (to my surprise) that it had not yet been done publicly.  Jeff Rients has been compiling any data people post regarding the Fiend Folio, but there isn't much apart from a few musings on the subject.  In terms of AD&D-style data points, there were only two: Rients' own post on the Folian mythos, detailing the bleak gods of the Fiend Folio, and  Chris Hogan's Fiend Folio-only wandering monster tables, showing only the Dungeon Level wandering monster tables.  (Special thanks to Chris Hogan of Vaults of Nagoh for compiling those tables, because that jumping-off point was exceedingly helpful.)

So, over the course of a few days, I converted all of Hogan's tables to d100, removed any errant non-Fiend Folio results (his tables include humans, rival adventuring parties, demon princes, and groaning spirits), and reduced the "DM's Option" results (which I interpret as either DM's choice or special encounter tables or whatever) to 3% of the chart.

I also proceeded to convert all of the wilderness tables to D100 and remove all the Monster Manual results.

Here are more relevant notes:
  • These tables assume access to TSR's 1981 Fiend Folio for AD&D 1e.  Several of the creatures have been reprinted elsewhere, so it's not totally necessary, but everything makes more sense if you have it.
  • As per the original Fiend Folio, the aleax, denzelian, hound of ill omen, terithran, and trilloch are omitted (although the terithran appears on the Ethereal Encounter Table).  The creatures typically only appear in specific circumstances.
  • All percentages are kept as originally on the random encounter charts.  I make the same assumption as Chris Hogan and assume creature frequency is the same in a Folian world.
  • DM's Option is whatever the DM chooses.  You can throw a rival adventuring party into the mix, use a special encounter table, pick a creature you want to use, or whatever.  (If you're stuck for ideas, you can always just re-roll.)
  • As in the original text, the wilderness charts feature several italicized creature names.  These creatures have a 75% likelihood to be encountered airborne.
  • I replaced the number appearing distributions with dice ranges.
If I made any glaring errors on the charts, feel free to leave feedback in the comments.  And make sure you check out the tables.

(Also, interested parties may wish to check out the sample world of Llurb Tdunon.)

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