Five for Friday 27: More World War 2 Books

Several months ago, I posted a list of my favorite World War 2 books. I then added an update of some of my recent World War 2 reads. Here is another update, with the latest five World War 2 books that I have read (in alphabetical order):
  • The Guns at Last Light by Rick Atkinson: A masterpiece and a fitting capstone for his Liberation Trilogy. Of the 100 or World War 2 books that I have read, this easy is in my top five. This comes on the heels of my reading of Max Hastings' Inferno, another top fiver (I highlighted Inferno in my last World War 2 book post). The Guns at Last Light is excellent in every respect.
  • Leningrad: State of Siege by Michael Jones: Culled from interviews and private journals, this book is one of the heartbreaking books that I have read. Jones does a masterful job of painting daily life and death in Leningrad during the siege. While the fate of Soviet soldiers is touched upon, most of Jones' attention is on the average citizen of Leningrad during this terrible time. It is a well-told and moving history. 
  • The Retreat: Hitler's First Defeat by Michael Jones: A decent book, but not anywhere near as good as Jones' Leningrad work.
  • Russia's War: A History of the Soviet Effort: 1941-1945 by Richard Overy: Overy's work was one of the first in English to be published after the opening of the former Soviet archives and history vaults. It is important in that regard, but it has been overshadowed by more recent research and published works. It is still a short, readable history of the Eastern Front after the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
  • The Siege of Leningrad: 900 Days of Terror by David Glantz: I am a big fan of David Glantz's works, but this one left me cold. Not one of my favorites.
With the exception of The Guns at Last Light, all of my recent WW2 reading has been focused on the Eastern Front. I have been using the bibliography in Max Hastings' Inferno as my "to read" list, which is mainly focused on first person experiences of the war. I have been making lots of purchases of used books but haven't really delved into them yet.


Montporte Dungeon Campaign Session 26 Notes

The Cast
Adzeer Mattiu, Hunter of the Second Circle (Half Orc, Hunter): Tim (Gothridge Manor)
Duncan Kern (Gnome, Wizard/Thief): Dan
Luven Lightfinger (Human, Thief): Rob (Bat in the Attic)
The Session
We took a month break from the Montporte Dungeon Campaign and did some other things...a few session's in Chris's (The Clash of Spear on ShieldEphemera setting and some playtesting of Rob's (Bat in the Attic) embryonic Fudge-based system for his Majestic Wilderlands setting. But now we are back to the dungeon. 

Session 25 ended with the brave adventurers leaving the dungeon and heading back to the town of Montporte for some rest and recuperation. And shopping. Lots of shopping. Session 26 was all about shopping. Well, maybe not all about shopping. There was some tavern hijinks involving Luven, some serious selling of demon organs [no details here, as I am family friendly], a conversation by Adzeer with a fellow hunter, and the purchase of a house.

The party celebrated their return with dinner at The Blue Unicorn (#15 on the map above). Luven ordered food and drinks on house. Word spread and the place filled up. Luven took the opportunity to cut a purse, which garnered some gold pieces and a Ring of Mind Shielding [a lucky roll by the GM].

Duncan did some serious shopping at Nevin's Notions (#13). He also added some spells to his spell book under the tutelage of Pavel (#21).

Adzeer Mattiu
Adzeer Mattiu shopped for potions, picked up a magic short bow and arrows for Little Larry, Adzeer Mattiu's kobold companion from Jenson the Fletcher.

Adzeer Mattiu also had the conversation of the night with Adzeer Derriq, a fellow hunter. Adzeer Derriq lives in Twerpshoppleville, a small hamlet just outside the town walls of Montporte. Adzeer Derriq told Adzeer Mattiu that the black blobs the party met up with in Session 1 and Session 24 were not demons. Rather, they were aberrations from Ioucura, the plane of madness [for more information, read On the Planes]. Adzeer Mattiu also told Adzeer Derriq about the demons they fought, including the three they were unable to defeat, which left the party wondering how they could overcome them.

Adzeer Derriq offered to help his brother hunter by lending him a weapon past on to him from his uncle. Adzeer Derriq brought forth a plain short sword, made of a dull black metal. He explained that is Syvyys' Bane (Syvyys is the plane of demons). The sword has no effect on non-demons. However, against demons, the sword gains +6 to attack and does 6d6+6 in damage. Adzeer Dirriq told Adzeer Mattiu that he had little use for a demon slaying sword, but he would like to have it back at some point.

The party ended the session by doing some planning for their next dungeon expedition. Most of the planning involved figuring out how to use a bag of holding filled with oil. How many pints of oil would it hold (1600)? How could they dump it on a target? How could they ignite it?


Monday Moodsetter 41

Fan Ming Concept Art
RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Happy 40th BDay, Dungeons & Dragons

I started playing Dungeons & Dragons in 1977. I had read about it in the Detroit News, Detroit's afternoon newspaper. There was long article in the weekend Living/Accent section about the game (which I have since tried unsuccessfully to track down). I was already reading science-fiction and fantasy books, plus playing Strat-O-Matic sports games and Avalon Hill wargames. Dungeons & Dragons didn't seem like much of a stretch.

I scored a ride with my cousin, whose orthodontist was in Ann Arbor, near the University of Michigan. His Mom always took him to a nearby comic book store after his appointment, so I went along and looked for the game in the store. I asked the guy at the counter and he handed me the box containing the Holmes Basic Dungeons & Dragons set. It had to have been from one of the first three printings, as it contained the dungeon geomorphs and not B1 or B2. The absence of an adventure module was probably the most influential aspect of that particular boxed set, as our group never bought or used adventure modules in the early days. We each built giant dungeons or Middle Earth-like worlds and then took turns DMing, although I always ended up DMing when the entire group (four of us) were present.

We quickly added the original D&D boxed set of three books, the four original supplements, the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, and Judges Guild's Ready Ref Sheets to our game. It ended up very similar to the Swords & Wizardry Complete rule set (which explains my fondness for the S&W Complete rules).

Keyed Map of the Town of Montporte

A: Traders’ Gate
B: Miners’ Gate
C: Mountain Gate
D: Dwarven Quarter
E: Duke’s Square
F: Summer Park
G: Gnome District
H: Market
I: Warehouse District
J: Market Barn
K: Ruins
L: Indriallian Burial Ground
M: Public Stables

Public Buildings
1: The Montporte Keep (Caleb, Captain of Montporte Guard)
2: Town Hall
3: Town Steward’s Office (Rindolph, Count's Steward, Mayor of Montporte)
4: Montporte Guild Hall

Religious Buildings
5: The Temple of Urrohka
6: The Cathedral of the Fellowship of Light
7: Indriallian Shrine

Businesses & Merchants
8: Blacksmith (Turin, blacksmith)
9: Tanner (Ivan, tanner)
10: Tinsmith (Ivelina, tinsmith)
11: Miner Supply (Donkirque, proprietor)
12: Glassworks (Delina, glassblower)
13: Nevin’s Notions (Nevin, alchemist)

Taverns and Inns
14: The Golden Halberd (Private club)
15: The Blue Unicorn (Food & Drink)
16: The Dusty Road (Lodging)
17: The Nutty Unicorn (Food, Drink, & Lodging)
18: The Rusty Dragon (Food & Drink)
19: Three Giant Dwarves (Food & Drink)
20: The Fragrant Ogre (Food, Drink & Lodging)

21: Pavel, wizard
22: Gertrudge, faith healer


Mapping the Town of Montporte--Post 3

So I am finished with the Montporte town map. I might do some editing down the road, but for now I just wanted to get it labeled and keyed so it will be ready to go for the Montporte Dungeon Campaign.

Here is the labeled map of the town and immediate environment:
Here is a map of just the town, which is not yet labeled:
I decided to go hexless, as the grid made the map look and feel very cluttered.

Montporte used to have many more people, but famine, a poor economy and a dragon attack has thinned the population considerably. Parts of the town (the southeast corner) are still in ruins and much of the town has been repurposed for animal stables. Gnomes, escaping the civil wars to the west, have also rebuilt and settled into the northwestern part of town.

The Montporte Region: History and Geography

The Montporte Dungeon Campaign started as a one-shot adventure with this two-sentence backdropThe Captain of the Guard of Montporte (pop. 1,028) has his hands full. Bandits have holed up in the castle ruins to the south, orcs have been harassing the mining village of Wootspil (pop. 106), the wildlands to the east continue to spew forth all manner of foul creatures (most recently giants), and a rebel force commanded by the Duke’s upstart brother lies between Montporte and help to the west.

That has been enough information to propel us through 25 sessions of play. Along the way, the party has picked up additional information about the area that explains some of what they have experienced in the dungeon. I have also created a few NPCs that are based in Montporte for those rare times when the player characters are shopping or doing some other town-based activity.
Overview of the Montporte Area
Montporte lies beyond the eastern edge of the civilized world. It is a small, ancient town that was established, if common knowledge is to be accepted, by the Lyndanians as an imperial outpost. It was an important military outpost, guarding the eastern frontier of the Lynanian Empire from invasion through Mont Pass, one of few east-west crossing points of the Dragonfang Mountains. Montporte also developed into a regional trade center and a hub for mining activity along the western slopes of the Dragonfangs.

Montporte is one of the few settlements in the vast eastern wilderness that separates the Dragonfang Mountains from the Western Kingdoms. Its fortunes have waxed and waned throughout its very long history, yet Montporte has proven to be resilient to war, disease, famine, economic woes, and host of unpleasant creatures that inhabit the area.

Physical Geography
Montporte lies at the base of Mont Pass, one of the few readily traversed passes in the Dragonfang Mountains. The Dragonfangs occupy a geographic location that is akin to Earth's Ural Mountains, being a long north-south mountain range bisecting a very large continental mass. The difference here is that the Dragonfang Mountains rival the Himalayas in height. Montporte is located on the western flanks of the Dragonfangs, at the northern end of the range.

The latitude, altitude, and a large continental mass all have an effect on climate and weather. Orographic effects magnify the climate and also create wild swings in the weather, depending up the season and direction of air masses. Suffice to say that that winters are long and bitterly cold with significant snowfall. Summers are cool and damp. Prevailing weather patterns travel from west to east, bring moisture. Occasionally, the weather patterns change and very dry air sweeps over the mountains and through Mont Pass. Depending on the conditions, this can either raise or lower the temperature significantly in a very short time.

Economic Geography
The eastern slopes of the Dragonfang Mountains are rich in mineral wealth. Gold, silver, tin, and copper have all been mined in the Montporte area. There are significant deposits of iron ore in the mountains, south of Montporte.

The challenge to mining these natural riches are threefold: (1) The climate and topography make prospecting, mining and transport difficult; (2) The distance to transport to markets can be a challenge, particularly during times of unrest in the Western Kingdoms; and (3) The constant threat of orcs, ogres, giants and even more dangerous predators and foes creates a daunting challenge to set up and maintain mining operations.

Magical Geography
The plane of Aarde is the home of Montporte, the Dragonfang Mountains and the Western Kingdoms. The physical geography of the plane of Aarde is such that the presence of mountains stretches the fabric of the universe, creating cracks and crevasses for beings from other planes to make their way to Aarde. The tension present in the very foundation and framework of Aarde generates a tremendous amount of magical energy. Pliny the Alder wrote: The Eastern Mountains lie at the very boundary of civilization and much danger there awaits anyone who travels to their peaks and valleys. But this land also has a deep underlying magical power, as the fabric of our world is stretched thin [there is also additional information in my post, Montporte Cosmological Notes: On the Planes].

All manner of creatures and horrors from other planes are rumored to have found their way to Aarde by way of passages in the Dragonfang Mountains: Fey (from the plane of Umírající); Demons (from the plane of Syvyys); Dragons (from the plane of Zaj); and aberrant horrors (from the plane of madness, Ioucura).


Five for Friday 26: An Updated RPG Product Wish List

I don't really buy much in the way of RPG gaming products anymore, with our money pit of a house, a child in college, and the expensive hobby of playing music (which never pays for itself despite getting booked a lot). However, a kid can dream so here is my wish list of hard copy gaming items (in alphabetical order):
  • Fantasy Companion (Savage Worlds): I haven't played Savage Worlds, but I'd like to, assuming I will have the time and get the opportunity.
  • Fudge, 10th Anniversary Edition: I like the idea of Fudge and it has been fun to be in on some of +Rob Conley's (Bat in the Attic) recent Fudge-based playtesting. I know that Fudge is available for free, but the Fudge website is not particularly user friendly.
  • GURPS High Tech: Unfortunately, this has gone out of print and the prices for used copies on Amazon is sky high. But when the price drops, I might be there to scope one up.
  • NOD #4: This is one product that I will be ordering in the near future. +John Stater's (The Land of NOD) materials are uniformly awesome. I have no idea how one person can crank out so much high quality material, especially as he is a husband, a father, and appears to hold down a job. The early NODs use Swords & Wizardry as the base ruleset, but I am already seeing in the first few issues of NOD how he was developing the Blood & Treasure ruleset (which we are currently using for the Montporte Dungeon Campaign).
  • Tome of Horrors 4: This is a bit pricy, but one can never have too many monsters (in the humble opinion of this blogger).
When it comes to gaming, the reality is that all I truly need is a set of dice, some paper and a pencil or two. I try to remind myself of that from time to time.


Toilets in the Dungeon

Eliminating bodily waste is no laughing matter when living in an underground complex. This partially explains the large number of toilets found by the players in the Montporte Dungeon--a total of 22 toilets found so far between 12 rooms on 2 levels. I am not interested in trying to explain the technology or the logistics of all of these little stone thrones...I merely wanted to create a sense that someone had once lived there and those someones were concerned about hygiene. While flushing toilets are a modern invention, toilets are not all that uncommon in ancient ruins.


Mapping the Town of Montporte--Post 2

I had a snow day at work today and just went in the office for part of the morning. This afternoon I have been working on the Montporte town map for the Montporte Dungeon Campaign. I am using AutoREALM. This is what it looks like so far:
I might redo some of the buildings as I like the block style buildings that populate the eastern part of the town (plus they make for faster mapping). There is a lot less flexibility when using the built-in objects.

Monday Night Playtesting

We had a couple of players absent from our Monday Night Gaming Group, so we decided to postpone Session 26 of the Montporte Dungeon Campaign. Instead, we took this as an opportunity to do more playtesting of +Rob Conley's (Bat in the Attic) embryonic Fudge-based rules for his Majestic Wilderlands setting. We focused on the rules for arcane and divine magic. I played Horace Spindlemeyer, a human mage, and Dan played Benit Vache, a dwarven cleric.

We had the simple task of tracking down some bandits. A timely use of a charm spell in an inn provided us with some inside information. We were able to find their most recent victim and we tracked them back to their hideout. A sleep spell read off a scroll took out all of the bandits, except for the one hiding in the cave. Unfortunately, I rolled -4 on the Fudge dice (----), so the casting of the spell wiped me out too.

Benit tied up the sleeping bandits but then he had to take on the remaining bandit in the cave. The remaining bandit got the drop on us but critically failed when he attempted to shoot Benit with a crossbow (another ----). There was actually a second bandit and Benit found himself in a bad way.

Fortunately, I regained my senses just in time and cast another sleep spell, this time from my own inventory of spells. I managed to keep myself put together after casting the spell. We tied up the final two bandits and loaded them on the bandits' wagon so that we could take them back to the proper authorities.

This process was interrupted by a hungry owlbear. We didn't really think we could put up much of a fight so we let him make off with a dinner of two tied-up bandits. Horace felt a bit guilty about that, but not guilty enough to take on a hungry owlbear.

We ended the night by taking the remaining prisoners back to the authorities. We kept their booty for ourselves, with the hopes that no one would ask about it.

After we finished playing, we spent a bit of time tweaking the rules, which was as enjoyable as playing.


The Town of Montporte Map (So Far)

After running 25 sessions of the Montporte Dungeon Campaign, I finally decided I needed to create a map and some detail of the nearby town of Montporte. Given that it has served as a military outpost and trade center on the far eastern fringes of the civilized world for a very long time, I thought it should have a wall. At several points in its history, Montporte was a thriving center of trade, with rich mineral resources located nearby. Currently, the population is only a fraction of what it once was.

Here is the map so far, after about 2 hours of work using AutoREALM. You can see that I still have a lot of work to do:
The area of Montporte is a bit like the western foothills of the central Ural Mountains (with the mountains near Montporte being much taller). There is quite a distance separating Montporte from the much more densely populated Western Kingdoms. Below is the map I gave the players at the start of Session 1 (which, at the time, was meant to be one-shot adventure). The Montporte Dungeon is marked by the star at the top of the map below:

Monday Moodsetter 40

"Tickus" (source: Season on Behance)
RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Uyoga (Mushroom People)--Montporte Dungeon Campaign Critter

UYOGA (Mushroom People)
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 2 Fists (1d4) or by weapon
Saving Throw: 16
Move: 13
Challenge Level/XP: 2/30

The uyoga are common to large caverns, dungeons, and deep temperate rain forests. They are bipedal sentient fungi and stand 7' to 9' in height. Their bodies are fibrous and medium brown in color. While generally even-tempered and peaceful, the uyoga are fierce defenders of their colonies and that which they value.

The uyoga are always part of a colony. The colony is a mass of threadlike tubules under the surface of the soil that make up the main body of the fungus. The uyoga sprout above the surface of the soil but remain connected to the subsurface colony. They are, at times, able to disconnect themselves from the main body of the colony to tend to the needs of colony, defend it, or carry out other business on behalf of the colony. The uyoga are genderless while disconnected from the colony and only develop a gender when the colony enters its complex reproductive cycle. The ugoya then lose their gender until the next reproductive cycle.

COMBAT: The uyoga are a peaceful folk but can be dangerous foes when their colony is threatened. They attack with their fists, getting two attacks per round and doing 1d4 of damage each. They also occasionally use weapons, preferring larger polearms, such as halberds.

AS CHARACTERS: The uyoga can be played as player or non-player characters. They gain 1d10 in hit points per level, but are otherwise like fighters. They do not use armor or shields. They gain a +1 armor class bonus every four levels, starting at second level.


Haiku 14--Flind

fiend folio gnoll
sociologist's gnoll, too...
flindbar finds target


Mushroom Golem--Montporte Dungeon Campaign Critter

Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 50 hit points
Attacks: 2 fists (3d6)
Saving Throw: 3
Special: Immune to most spells; Immune to normal fire; Resistant to magical fire; Hit only by magical weapons
Move: 7
Challenge Level/XP: 14/2600

Mushroom golems are huge animated mushrooms with limbs fabricated from mushroom stems.

COMBAT: Mushroom golems attack as 6 hit dice creatures, getting two attacks per round with their giant fists.

MAGIC IMMUNITY: Mushroom golems are immune to most forms of magic. They are also subject to damage from fire-based spells (see below).

FIRE IMMUNITY/RESISTANCE: Mushroom golems are immune to normal fire and gain a +2 to saving throws versus magical fire.

IMMUNE TO NON-MAGICAL WEAPONS: Mushroom golems are immune to non-magical weapons and can only be hit by +2 or better magical weapons. They are not immune from attacks from “outsiders,” such as dragons, fey, and demons, although they do gain a +3 armor class bonus against such creatures.


Monday Moodsetter 39

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


Darius the Handsome

Darius the Handsome
I had a blast playing in the second session of Ephemera, run by Chris (The Clash of Spear on Shield). My character, Darius, is a first level human magic-user. We are using the Swords & Wizardry Core Rules (fourth printing) and I rolled the following:

  • Strength: 11
  • Intelligence: 11
  • Wisdom: 10
  • Constitution: 10
  • Dexterity: 7
  • Charisma: 17

While Chris did allow us to swap one set of scores, I decided to play Darius as I rolled him: Slow of foot but a delight be around. I miss my Holmesian days (back in the 70s) when we played the characters as rolled, warts and all.

Darius gets a maximum of six first level spells. I failed the rolls for Sleep and Magic Missile, but did get Charm Person. I opted to only put four spells in his spell book (Charm Person, Detect Magic, Read Magic, and Shield). That way I can reroll for Sleep or Magic Missile when I advance a level as I didn't max out my first level spell allotment.

The Charm Person was put to use immediately as I charmed Tub, a Frost Goblin Guard. Now we have a guide and more muscle in the party.


Good Stuff Under the Tree

My wife received good stuff, too...
a sound system for her music group. 
I received some excellent gaming stuff under the tree this year. My big gift was a bass envelope filter--not something immediately useful at the gaming table. I had to send it back before I could use is with my bass as the knobs fell off as I was taking it out of the box. I have had that happen before, but that is related to personal medical issues (you get older, things fall off occasionally).

Fortunately, there were no such issues with the gaming stuff. Here is a peek at what came my way:
I am hoping a new, fully operational bass envelope filter comes my way soon...before I have my next music gig (January 18). In the meantime, I have plenty of gaming goodness to keep me going.

Addendum: Bass Envelope Filter
For those wondering what an envelope filter is (maybe my Mom?), it is an effect pedal used with electric guitars and electric bass guitars. It is similar to a wah-wah pedal and is sometimes called an auto-wah. When set up for bass guitar frequencies, it can create a bunch of cool effects. The example that comes to mind is the effect on the bass line during the verses of Lenny Kravitz's Fly Away. If you want to know more, and I am certain you do, the Auto-wah article on Wikipedia gives a bit more information.

The Rusty Battle Axe blog is educational as well as entertaining for the whole family.


Monday Moodsetter 38

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


Sanity Rules!

Yes, it does. But not in the dungeon.

Keep this under your hat, as I don't want the rest of my gaming group knowing this: I have been using a rudimentary sanity rule in my Montporte Dungeon Campaign. Basically, there are certain circumstances where the players (and NPCs) are forced to make a saving throw and, if they fail, they lose a point of wisdom. Eventually, their wisdom points return and all is well. Unless the wisdom score drops below 3, then all bets are off. The player characters recently witnessed an NPC, Ansarkhan the mushroom man, go permanently insane. He is now in a catatonic state that is occasionally interrupted by quiet mumblings of gibberish.

I have used this simple sanity mechanic twice: In Session 1 and, more recently, in Session 24. In the first instance, there was no permanent damage done, but the second episode resulted in permanent insanity.

I like the idea of having a simple sanity mechanic in our current dungeon campaign, but I didn't want to spill the beans with the players or on my blog until I was able to use it to its full effect and the players learned that the victim (an NPC in this case) went insane.

I think adding sanity/insanity into the mix makes the dungeon a scarier place, but I think it only works when used sparingly. D20 rules do not really support a sanity-focused game and there are better rule systems if insanity is the focus. As an occasional threat, however, it could make the game more interesting.

I would like to fine-tune my sanity rule a bit but I am not sure if I should bother creating an actual house rule. I am also a bit undecided what it would look like. Here are a couple of options:
  • Wisdom + Charisma + Level = Sanity: I like bringing wisdom and/or charisma into the mix and also sort of modification for level. Under this scenario, characters would have a considerable amount of sanity and it would only slightly as characters progress (assuming a D20 rule system with level advancement).
  • (Wisdom + Charisma)/2 + Level = Sanity: This version takes an average of Wisdom and Charisma and then adds a bonus for level. Sanity is lower, but still influenced by both attributes. Level bonus has more influence, proportionally. I like this particular approach a lot, except that it looks like real math.
  • Wisdom Score + Charisma Modifier + Level = Sanity: My first reaction was "meh" but the more I look at it, the more I like it. Wisdom is the primary attribute here--being grounded, having deep insight, and common sense seems like it should be the buffer against insanity (playing fast and loose with the medical understanding of mental illness here). It is modified by "force of personality" (charisma) but charisma is not the primary determinant. After all, there are plenty of insane people with strong personalities.
  • Charisma Score + Wisdom Modifier + Level = Sanity: I really liked this, at first blush, as it makes charisma very important. However, I like the logic of having wisdom as the primary attribute.
There are a number of variations on these approaches but it seems a bit much to do an exhaustive list.

There are other ways that sanity scores could be modified: Race and Class come to mind. But that is a topic for another post.

I have read a number of blog posts on this, as well as various rule sets (I really like Crypts & Things). I am curious to know what you think.


Goblin (Fey)--Montporte Dungeon Campaign Critter

Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: By Weapon
Saving Throw: 14
Special: Spells; Move Silently; Improved Saves Versus Magic; +1 to Attack Rolls
Move: 10
Challenge Level/XP: 4/120

The goblins of the Montporte Dungeon Campaign are very different than traditional RPG goblins. Montporte goblins are fey and usually reside on the plane of Umírající (the plane of the fey). They are magical, devious, and quite cunning. While most fey have little interest in the plane of Aarde (the plane on which Montporte exists), goblins travel there frequently and interact with humans and, to a lesser extent, gnomes. They have nothing to do with dwarves and will only interact with elves under duress. Most of their interactions with humans are related to trade and commerce. Despite their frequent travel, they are very rarely seen by the inhabitants of Aarde and only trade with select trading partners.

Goblins are nominally aligned with the Summer Court of the fey, although they much prefer the art of the sale to the art of court politics. They typically sell weapons and supplies to both fey courts when Winter and Summer go to war.

While goblins can be a very tough foe versus the average human warrior or mage, they are among the weakest of the fey. To survive--and to avoid being minions/battle fodder--goblins rely on:

  • Their wily and cunning intelligence.
  • Their charm with non-goblins.
  • Providing superior customer service.
  • Expert use of the Seelie Accords (the laws governing the fey) to their advantage.
  • Investing in muscle and protection. They are rarely without guards of some sort.
  • Being a tightknit community. Goblins are very true to each other.
  • Having friends living on other planes.

Goblins are usually found traveling in small bands, peddling their wares. They usually have a bagoi with them, a brightly-colored wagon that is larger on the inside than on the outside. Their bagoi is often drawn by a single foribus pony. Foribus ponies are highly prized for their intelligence, mild nature, and ability to travel between the planes. They also are accompanied by tough, not-so-smart bodyguards, such as oafs or ogres. While ogres are giant-class creatures, residing on Aarde, oafs are fey.

COMBAT: Goblins avoid combat whenever possible by using clever bargaining, their bodyguards as shields, or, as a last resort, buying their way out of trouble. If they have to fight, they use short swords, daggers, and short bows (typically magic).

SPELLS: Goblins can use first and second level magic-user spells as if they were a third level magic-user. They have knowledge of all the first and second level spells available to magic-users.

MOVE SILENTLY: Goblins can move silently as if they were a third level thief.

IMPROVED SAVING THROW VERSUS MAGIC: Goblins gain an additional +1 to any saving throw versus magic or cleric spells, but not against magic items (wands, potions, etc).

BONUS TO ATTACK: Goblins are quick and clever opponents in combat. They gain an additional +1 to all melee and ranged attacks.


Five For Friday 25: Dungeon Campaign Ideas

"Underground City" by Elias Lewinsky
We have made it to Session 25 of the Montporte Dungeon Campaign and our sessions are still going strong. It has me thinking about some other ways to use the dungeon setting that I have already created for some future campaigns (this won't happen for a while because the other four guys in our Monday Night Gaming Group are all chomping at the bit to GM). Here are five thoughts that I have had, in no particular order:
  • Montporte Dungeon + GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: I really like what I have been reading about GURPS Dungeon Fantasy on other blog posts. More specifically, I have thought about GURPS templates based on the Holmes version of D&D (or maybe B/X), except I would drop halflings and add gnomes (based on what has already transpired with the Montporte Dungeon. I'd be tempted to start at 175 points for characters, but I think I would be fine with 250. I had also thought about a American Wild West or Victorian smash-up and then an hour later saw Peter D's (Dungeon Fantastic) review of Pyramid #3/60: Dungeon Fantasy III, I am definitely interested in checking out the article by David Pulver, "Eidetic Memory: High-Tech Dungeon Crawl."
  • Montporte Dungeon + Fudge: I have been really interested in watching +Rob Conley adapt his Majestic Wilderlands setting to Fudge. I have played two campaigns in the Majestic Wilderlands, with Rob as GM--the first campaign using Swords & Wizardry and a second using GURPS. I have been in on one playtest session with the Fudge version of the Majestic Wilderlands and really liked it a lot. 
  • Montporte Dungeon + Savage Worlds: This just looks like loads of fun (no apologies to those gamers who hate fun). I am not sure how Savage Worlds would hold up under a long campaign, but it would be groovy to do a shorter mini-campaign perhaps just to see how Savage World works (I haven't actually played it yet).
  • Montporte Dungeon + Heavily House-Ruled Swords & Wizardry: I would combine the human classes of Crypts & Things (warriors, barbarians, thieves, and sorcerers) plus dwarves, elves and gnomes (using the race-as-class concept). Maybe I would drop the non-humans and just go with a slightly modified version of C&T.
  • Montporte Dungeon + Onyx + GURPS: I thought about combining my half-baked idea for a medieval urban fantasy campaign (Onyx) with the dungeon by placing the city of Onyx deep in the Underdark. GURPS would be my preferred system. This seems like a lot of work, but I have parts of it already done.
Not sure if any of this will happen, but a boy can dream.


Montporte Dungeon Maps--After 25 Sessions

I posted the maps of the Montporte Dungeon after 15 Sessions back in September 2013. Here are the maps of the same dungeon after 25 sessions of play. I have kept the maps simple this time. I placed a purple "U" next to any unexplored door, corridor, room, or area. I placed a red "U" for the two ladders that lead down from Level 2 to an area still unexplored (maybe Level 3?).

Click on the maps to enlarge them. 1 square on the map equals 5 feet.

(1 square = 5 feet)


Gaming Goals and Resolutions for 2014

I have none. No goals. No resolutions. Nothing I want to buy. Nothing I want to sell. Just bringing some dice to the next session. To quote the philosopher, Cyndi Lauper: "Girls just want to have fun."

Review: "Execution Corner"

Disclaimer: +Tim Shorts and I are in the same gaming group and I am sometimes involved in his RPG projects. However, I was not involved in this one so you can totally trust me on this one. Really and truly.

Product Stat Block
Title: Execution Corner
Author: +Tim Shorts (Gothridge Manor)
Publisher: GM Games
Format: PDF
Pages: 5
Cost: Pay What You Want
System: n.a. (neutral)

Execution Corner is a small rural location that can be added to almost any fantasy or medieval RPG campaign. While the PDF product is runs five pages, the actual gaming material is contained in a one page map and one page description of the area.

The Map
The map is hand drawn, which I personally like. Unlike some more stylized maps, it can actually be used during a gaming session. I think it would work well on GameTable or Roll20.

The Location Description
The location description is simple, but effective. I get a sense of the area and can picture the location and the people in my mind quite easily. That is important to me in running a gaming session. There is an overview of each feature in the area, including the "No Tomorrow Tavern."

There are also four NPCs described: Gerald (a peddler); Ferren (a peddler); Willem (the executioner); and Max (owner of "No Tomorrow Tavern"). I believe that Tim is at his best when he is creating and describing NPCs. Rarely are they heroic or noble, rather they are a grim, hardscrabble lot. The NPC descriptions are short and evocative and they would be easy to roleplay.

You will not find an adventure, stats, loot, or such things in Execution Corner. You will be unhappy if you get this product with that expectation in mind. However, it is a simple and excellent product to use in spicing up a long overland journey or serving as a very simple location to start a session (assuming you are providing additional stuff). And, with Pay What You Want, you can get it for less than a song.