10/28/13

10/27/13

Playtesting Rob Conley's Fudge-Based Version of the Majestic Wilderlands

Our Monday Night Gaming Group is taking a little break from the Montporte Dungeon campaign to do some playtesting of +Rob Conley's (Bat in the Attic) Fudge-based version of the Majestic Wilderlands. It was a blast.

I really like Rob's approach to character creation. It took very little time to get up and running, thanks to his character templates. My initial thought was that our group was not very tough--two fighter types and a burglar, with me playing the burglar. However, we beat the snot out of party of orcs, despite being outnumbered two to one. Like GURPS, being outnumbered taxes a character's defensive options, but the potential consequences didn't seem so dire.

I really enjoy playtesting and providing feedback. I already am putting together a list of my thoughts for Rob, which I will give to him after our next session tomorrow night. 

As a side note, I am enjoying playing a burglar who has a bit of a Jeff Spicoli vibe to him. His name is Ampersand and he always finds himself between "hard luck & trouble."

10/15/13

My Favorite Cleric

My Dad was a huge fan of westerns--books, movies and television shows. So when I think of clerics, I always start with Clint Eastwood's Preacher. Of questionable origins, alignment, and religion, Preacher is the prototypical cleric for me. No weird Gygaxian mix of alignment, militant religious orders, schoolboy Greek mythology, or cosmology...just a holy symbol filled with lead and a glare that will stop undead in their tracks.

10/14/13

10/12/13

Montporte Dungeon Campaign Session 18 Notes

The Cast
Adzeer Mattiu, Hunter of the First Circle (Half Orc, Hunter): Tim (Gothridge Manor)
Dante Rathburn (Human, Warlock): Chris (The Clash of Spear on Shield)
Luven Lightfinger (Human, Thief): Rob (Bat in the Attic)
Larramore “Little Larry” (Kobold, Marksman): NPC
Ansarkhan ("Mushroom Man", Fighter): NPC
Diana (Human, Torch Bearer, Goat Driver): NPC
5 cave goat
Map A (1 Square = 5 Feet)
The Session
The party of brave adventurers finished Session 17 in Room 1 (Map A above). This area is part of an abandoned silver mine, that continued on to the north. The party had been in this area (Room 7 on Map A) back in Session 12.

The party continued further into the mine in Room 2, where they found a human corpse standing in the middle of the room in mid-stride. He had an obsidian staff in his hand and his flesh was dried and burned, resembling the texture of beef jerky. There were rat bones in the area and evidence on the corpse that the rats had done some gnawing on the legs of the dead guy.

Using gloves, Luven knocked the obsidian staff out of the corpse's hand. Adzeer then examined the staff, using the Lens of Melnar. The staff was magical, but the real magic of the staff came from its inhabitant, some sort of creature that was kind of like a fire elemental but also possessing negative energy. In the meantime, Luven snatched up a scroll case off the corpse without anyone in the party noticing.

The party decided to leave the staff alone and moved east, exploring a few rooms until they arrived in Room 3 (Map A above). From Room 3, the party could see north into Room 4 and they spied a large pile of rock and dust slowly moving south towards them. The pile was huge and had a vague humanoid shape. They decided to stay in Room 3, hoping that the mystery pile of dirt couldn't pass through the narrow opening between the rooms.

It turned out that the creature was able to pass through the stone walls and they found themselves attacked by a tough but slow moving mystery creature, which they guessed was some sort of elemental. The mystery creature absorbed considerable damage without causing any harm, which eased the party's fear of it. However, confidence turned to full scale alarm when it finally hit Luven and drained part of his life force plus did a lot of damage. The party turned to magic but most of the spells failed. Finally, they were able to destroy the fell creature.

Luven finally revealed the scroll he had swiped off the corpse and it turned out to be written in elvish. Dante was able to read it and he recognized, based on the content, that it was written by a ancient elven scholar of great reknown, Pliny the Alder. The information in the scroll was dated, to say the least, but it did give the party more information about the Montporte Dungeon and its previous inhabitants (the pdf file of the scroll can be viewed here).

Having gained a bit more information about the Montporte Dungeon, the party continued to move east from Room 4 into Room 5. The group  started to move into Room 6 when Luven, who was in Room 5, heard a noise from the south. It sounded to him like the clank of someone walking in armor.

Adzeer moved south to scout out the noise and saw a red-hooded figure with two crabmen and two armored "super gaunts" in Room 7 (Map A above). The party retreated into Room 5 and Little Larry moved into the corridor between Room 6 and Room 8, into to outflank the opponents with his bow as they moved into Room 8.

And their opponents did move into Room 7 and then north, where Adzeer and Dante could take them on one at a time at the opening of the corridor. Little Larry started pouring arrows into the enemies, with Ansarkhan watching his back.

The opponent's party split, leaving Little Larry a bit exposed. He backed into Room 6, where Ansarkhan could help out. It was a close run battle, with Ansarkhan going down with critical wounds. The party, however, was victorious and was able to heal Ansarkhan.

Given the abuse the party had suffered in their two encounters during the session, they decided to hole up in Room 9, a room that they had been in previously.

This is where the session ended for the evening.

The Dungeon So Far
Level 1 (1 Square = 5 Feet)
Level 2 (1 Square = 5 Feet)

10/10/13

Megadungeon Hall of Fame: The One-Page Dungeon

The One-Page Dungeon idea captured my heart back in 2008-2009 and its influence can be seen in Michael Curtis' (The Society of Torch, Pole, and RopeStonehell dungeon (which is actually a composite of two-page dungeons). The One-Page Dungeon approach is a great way to design a dungeon and I have used it quite a bit myself. The One-Page Dungeon template (by Michael at ChicagoWiz's RPG Blog) is a great way to get a playable dungeon area created, as it enforces the discipline of not creating too much extraneous material that either becomes a time suck (if you are a perfectionist) or simply won't be used in play.

You can see the key posts by Dave (Sham's Grog & Blog) here and here. Michael (ChicagoWiz's RPG Blog) had an important post in between Dave's two posts, which you can find here. Michael Curtis (The Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope) wraps up this class of Hall of Fame inductees with his post on the same topic here.

10/9/13

The Evocative Dungeon: Montporte Level 2 in Pictures

Yesterday, I posted some evocative pictures of the first level of the Montporte Dungeon. In today's post, I will do the same thing with the second level of the dungeon. I googlegrabbed some pictures that I hope are evocative of the three different areas of Level 2 thus far explored by the somewhat brave adventurers. Here is the map of Level 2, as explored by the player characters through Session 18:
Here is the same region of the dungeon, represented with a simple schematic map:
Here are some pictures that create a sense and feel for three different areas of Level 2:

Level 2: Mushroom Farm:

Level 2: "Factory"

Level 2: Mine

10/8/13

The Evocative Dungeon: Montporte Level 1 in Pictures

Graph paper, even in its more elegant electronic form, doesn't do much to convey the mystery, danger and terror of the dungeon. I decided to googlegrab some pictures that, in a general way, I hope will represent the various areas of the Montporte Dungeon. In this post, I have some pictures that represent the areas the player characters have explored thus far on Level 1 of the dungeon. Here is the actual map, so far:
And here is the same area, represented in a very simple schematic map:
The brave adventurers have encountered three different areas on Level 1: The Elemental Monastery, a Mine, and an Ant Lair. Here are some pictures that I hope evoke a feel and sense of what those areas might actually be like:

Level 1: Elemental Monastery

Level 1: Mine

Level 1: Ant Lair

10/7/13

Monday Moodsetter 31

RPG Rorschach: What is the first gaming thought that pops into your head?

10/6/13

Haiku 13--Blue Dragon

This is a blues weekend at our house. I was a substitute bass player for Chicago Bob and the Butchers at a local blues festival on Saturday night ("No, kids, Daddy is not a scab, he is a substitute."). Tonight, we are going to hear (and see) Buddy Guy in concert. So, in keeping with the blues, I offer this haiku:

sparks and bolts erupt
spewing high voltage current;
elven hair stands on end

10/5/13

Montporte Dungeon Campaign Session 17 Notes

We enjoyed another night in the Montporte Dungeon. +Tim Shorts (Gothridge Manor) has written up an excellent first person account of the session. +Chris Bard (The Clash of Spear on Shield) has posted another collection of sound bites for the evening (all taken out of context, but the context is not helpful in the least).

The Cast
Adzeer Mattiu, Hunter of the First Circle (Half Orc, Hunter): Tim (Gothridge Manor)
Duncan Kern (Gnome, Wizard/Thief): Dan
Dante Rathburn (Human, Warlock): Chris (The Clash of Spear on Shield)
Luven Lightfinger (Human, Thief): Rob (Bat in the Attic)
Larramore “Little Larry” (Kobold, Marksman): NPC
Ansarkhan ("Mushroom Man", Fighter): NPC
Diana (Human, Torch Bearer, Goat Driver): NPC
Crystal Golem
5 cave goat
Map A (1 Square = 5 Feet)
The Session
Session 16 ended with the brave adventurers finding another stairwell down from the first level and also encountering some small crystal golems, created by gnomes. At the beginning of Session 17, Duncan explored Room 2 (Map A above). The door was locked and spiked, so it took a bit of doing to open it. Inside were two gnome skeletons, lying on the floor, with hammers nearby. There were two piles of silver necklaces, which a crystal attached to each one. There were nine necklaces but only one crystal was undamaged [as a point of reference, there were nine crystal golems in Room 1 and the room to the east of it]. Duncan put on the necklace and found that he could command one of the crystal golems in Room 1. Having added another oddball member to their party, the group headed down the spiral staircase in Room 3.
Map B (1 Square = 5 Feet)
The party arrived at the bottom of the stairwell on Level 2, after a 100' descent. They found themselves in Room 4 (Map B above). They moved west into a north-south corridor. Looking south, they saw a guy in a red cloak and hood, accompanied by two large crabmen (Area 5 on Map B). They had not encountered anything like them before. The guy in the red cloak, drew a flaming broadsword, and moved north.

The two parties met in combat in Area 5, with the flaming sword guy staying in the corridor and one crabman going into the rooms to the east and west. The battle was particularly nasty, with the threat of the flaming sword, and the two attacks each of the crabmen creating a bit of uncertainty. However, the brave adventurers gained momentum early and prevailed, thanks in part to some poor tactics on the party of their opponents.

After the battle, Adzeer picked up the flaming broad sword and found himself connected to Elias the One, the leader of the "Breeders." It was not a telepathic link, but there was enough of a connection that Adzeer knew the general location of Elias the One: Almost a quarter mile northwest and 200 feet down. In turn, Elias the One knew Adzeer's location.

This second bit of information created the session's next encounter as 2 groups of breeders moved into Rooms 4 & 7 (Map B above); the move into Room 4 involved a secret door that the party hadn't discovered. Each of the two breeder groups were made up of a guy in a red cloak/hood with a flaming broadsword and two crabmen.

The southern portion of the adventurers' party was the more powerful group, but Dante, who was in the northern group, cast a sleep spell that took out the two crabmen. Having thus tilted the battlefield in their direction, the party again prevailed against a tough foe.

The rest of the session involved exploration, with the party following the secret door in Room 4, which led to find a couple more secret doors. They then moved west in Room 8, which was a large room, harshly illuminated by magical lighting near the ceiling. The party had previously found a similar area to the west (Session 14 and Session 15). The picture below gives a general idea of what Room 8 looks like:
The party felt vulnerable in the large, illuminated space and moved north in Room 9 (Map B above). There they found four semi-intelligent "meats" (human slaves bred to be food for the Breeders). The meats were tending to rows of mushrooms, so the party left them to their work.

The party moved into Area 10, which looked like the start of a mining area. There was a lot of rock dust on the floor and there were piles of tailings in the rooms of Area 10. Duncan thought this was evidence of silver mining. Adzeer, who was carrying all three flaming broad swords, decided to ditch them in one of the piles. He could tell that, as long as he had at least one of the swords, Elias the One would know his general location.

This is where the session ended for the evening.

The Dungeon So Far
Level 1
Level 2

10/4/13

Random Gaming Thoughts

A wild week at work. After two years worth of work, our merger closed this week. In our neck of the woods, nonprofit mergers need to be approved by the state Attorney General Office. Things got stuck there for no other reason than they are understaffed. It postponed the merger closing by a day and meant that all of the insurance, banking and employee benefits stuff couldn't be completed ahead of time. So, now I am enjoying a second bowl of tempeh 3 bean chili and a second bottle of Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen.

Random Thought #1: Thinking back on my last 4 or so years of gaming, I see significant shift of focus. I used to spend a lot of time on world building. This goes back to my childhood. Going back to my elementary school days, I made up cities, worlds, histories and even a galactic empire. This has carried over to gaming. I was very much a top down sort of GM. I am now the opposite...bottom up. I create just enough to get a campaign started and then make it up as I go.

Random Thought #2: Another shift in focus is moving away from spending time on house rules, class creation, etc. My focus now is more on the encounter. This is where the action is for me.

Random Thought #3: Gaming intent is important for group play. This is something I learned from decades in management and leadership and, more importantly, by playing music in a number of bands. Things go better when there is a common understanding of purpose and intention. Not that you need to bring in consultants and have facilitated touchy-feely pre-campaign sessions. I just think things go better when everyone at the table agrees with the premise and intent of the campaign, including style of play, etc. I have found this to be very true when playing music. If you want to make a group suffer for "your art," go play in an S&M dungeon with a group of masochists.

10/2/13

Haiku 12--Ogre

big bodied...dimmed wit
weaklings become next meal;
still barely giant class

10/1/13

Good Savage Stuff in the Mail

My book purchases tend to reflect my mood, so you can draw your own conclusions about the two books in the Amazon box about the Eastern Front in World War 2. However, the box did include a third happier item, Savage Worlds Deluxe: Explorer's Edition.

I don't buy a lot of gaming stuff that I do not intend on using, but I am not sure when I will get a chance to play Savage Worlds. This being said, I am liking what I am reading. I am not sure how much time and energy I have for another rules toolkit (a topic for another post), but the tweaking of the rules looks like it would be easy enough.

Anyone (reading this) have actual gaming experience with Savage Worlds? If so, what did you think?