Showing posts with label AD&D. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AD&D. Show all posts

Monday, January 27, 2020

Matt Jackson's CollaboDungeon #2

Here we are, round two! I picked room 22, a forested room in a dungeon. Click here to read Matt's full post and see all three maps.


22. The Faerie Queen’s Thicket

Small animals frolic among all the trees. Under the largest tree is a white brocade blanket, upon which sits a elderly woman. On noticing the party, she sings out:

“Come out, come out,
“I am the mistress of scrying.”

As the characters approach her, she issues a warning:

“Come and sit,
“There is a place for all here,
“But don’t drink the water.”

The reference to water refers to room 15. She offers the characters food and drink. Consuming the food and drink of the Faerie Queen will restore 1d6 hit points and remove any curses or poisons. Characters may be reluctant to partake of the Faerie Queen’s provisions, but it is safe.

If asked about other rooms, the Faerie Queen will produce a crystal ball and describe them. The only limitation to scrying is if the characters have not be there, they might not understand. If characters look at the crystal ball, they see nothing but cloudiness.

The woman is reluctant to leave room 22, but the party can convince her to leave if they promise to take her out by the shortest route. If the party deviates from the shortest route, she will teleport back to her seat in room 22.

If they return to her, she will sing:

“This is my home,
“And you have been banished.”

No food or drink will be offered this time, and if the characters consume it, they will die in 24 hours. There will be no pain, only a sudden feeling of certain doom.

If any character takes the crystal ball, the Queen will vanish and that character will take her place.

The Goblin’s Henchmen’s rule is in effect, 300 words, less 1 for fun. This post draws on DMB’s song Don’t Drink the Water.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Best Module Ever - SES-01 - The One With The Killer Hook

Incredibly, everyone gamer in the WORLD owns the best module ever. It's called SES-01, The One With The Killer Hook. Who knows where you got it, but you have it. We all have it. Where it came from doesn't matter. 

What is SES-01?

Remember your first game session? All of the excitement and adventure, with dozens of mistakes and missteps? Yeah, of course you do. 

It's X years later. Your players have returned to the place where it all began to relive their early days, to see what has become of that place and the inhabitants. Everything is exactly as they remember it. Nothing has changed in all this time... except one thing. The denizens of where ever are somber, saddened by an incredible loss. And they need the Party to help them. 

Help them with what? 

Bury the dead. There are x numbers of caskets in need of pallbearers and escorts. There are graves to be filled and prayed over. One for each brave party member that participated in Session-01. They didn't make it. The locals are not so much holding out for heroes, but burying their past. They are honored, loved and respected, but gone. So much tragedy.  

What happened? This is all on you and your players to discover when you go back and play SES-01. 


The First Book - Zero to Hero, Uncommon Commoners

I play a fusion of B/X and AD&D. Back in the day, we had no internet, so I had no context as to which books went with which games.

I vaguely recall some sort of conversion rules to bring your Basic and Expert Characters to AD&D and vis-à-vis. I liked that idea, but then when going through the process, I said, "Screw it! There aren't enough differences between AD&D and Basic/Expert to really warrant this much effort. Elves can be Generic or classed. You can generate stats using either set, etc. We are just doing this."

After years and years of play, I know the differences between AD&D and Basic and Expert. The main twist is that AD&D characters have higher stats, higher bonuses, more of everything in AD&D from weapons to magic spells to magical item and monsters. Demi-humans advance faster with clearly defined abilities in B/X but have level limits, even with the lower levels and ability scores. For the homebrew game, the differences aren't so great.

One thing that bothered me about each set of rules was the lack of secondary skills as a fully fleshed out set of statistics. The options were always there to vaguely support NPCs, but when tacking on an professional skill to a Player Character, the DM had to do it all.

I love my NPC characters, usually they act in the supporting role. They don't cast magic, they don't own a sword. They are there to do far more that carry torches and equipment as per the rules, but not sling a sword or spells. Over the years, I developed a set of rules to accommodate these types of characters. I called it Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. They were the type of characters populating a small town to large city.

My first principal was developed from looking at the to hit and saving throw tables. Most of the time, player characters are challenged by rolls in the low teens at low levels. Well, making buckets is easier than that, so my NPCs have a 50-50 chance of making something. Second, failure is not applicable. You aren't a bucket maker if you fail 50% of the time. Also, failure for NPC professionals is missing one or more of their target goals. They make 8 buckets instead of 9, they are a day late, etc.

Second principle is they suck as combatants, but might have some terrifying skill with a tool. Stoneworker's hammers are just brutal, scribes have razor-like knives, and roofers have their terrible zaxes. These characters have an advantage with tools as weapons, but the tools themselves are poor weapons. Also, lumping someone in the head can damage the tool and the target.

Third, they have horrible hit points, attributes are rolled on average dice and saving throws are poor. They max out at 7 or so hit points, including constitution bonuses. "Luck number 7" was the guiding thought in this choice. It's luck that they have more HP than a first or second level character, but this is even a poor meal shield choice for the PCs.

Some people have asked if this is character sieve, it is very much the opposite. In fact, there is a section on how an NPC professional can transition to Player Character, saving a poorly rolled character. This method generates characters fast by allowing the DM to save those who have abysmal stats.

In Uncommon Commoners, you'll find over 50 character classes for professionals. They can be used to flesh out your towns or add a bit of flare to a PC. They are far from overpowered, but do add zest to any campaign.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Matt Jackson's CollaboDungeon... Number 1?

Over on MeWe, Matt Jackson kicked off a Dungeon Collaboration. He posted a map over on his blog, MSJx.org and invited us to pick a room to describe. You can follow the conversation over on mewe with the hashtag #collabodungeon and the results on Matt's blog.

Matt declared a free for all while Goblin’s Henchman through out an idea for 300 word description limit, which I ran with.

I picked area 7. Unlucky number 7.


The 300 word description:

Location Seven. The Twins.

There are two women, twins, in the pit. They are identical in all ways save one. One women wears a lead ring. When they become aware of the characters, they will both shout out for help. When the characters look in the pit, they will hear the following orders:

Twin with the ring: "Kill her! She's a demon!"
Twin without the ring: "Kill her! She's an idiot!"

They are both at the bottom of the pit and represent no threat to the characters in this state. They are both bloodied and bruised from the fall and each has a blacken right eye.

If the party rescues them, they will find out the following information. Twin One, the one with the ring is named Meredith. She entered the dungeon with her friends in search of treasure. She found a gold ring in area 8 and after discerning no purpose to it, put it on. She was pushed by a monster into the pit.

Twin Two, without the ring, was a doppelganger hiding in area 8. To take on Meredith's form, she ambushed her by pushing her into the pit. Unfortunately for the monster, Meredith grabbed it's wrist as she fell and both ended up at the bottom. As the doppelganger took her form, Meredith shouted "Begone!" which the ring of wishes interpreted as a command against the monster. Since the doppelganger was in mid-transformation into Meredith, the ring fixed it in that form before turning to lead. The doppelganger is now an exact copy of Meredith.

The twins have found combat against each to be profoundly lethal, as they mirror each other's moves perfectly, hence the matching black eyes. They will not fight each other. They will join the party to escape the dungeon.


I'll probably make up stats for Meredith someday, but she is presented as rule set agnostic here.

No one said anything about a follow up, but I'd love to see #1, #2, #3...

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Product Updates for 2020 - Kobold's Folly and The Compass Rose Mini Setting

I have updated the files for The Compass Rose Inn and The Kobold's Folly products. These items are still pay what you want, however, in each case I have increased the suggested price to $3.99 each.

In the case of the Compass Rose Inn, the map has been reworked to be 1 inch = five feet. This now brings the page count to 63 pages. Additionally, this file has map tiles that enable you to print out additional green space for more terrain. To fill some of this space, there is now a barn map with two levels, a stable or work shed with two levels, a well and bake house map. 

In Kobold's Folly, I detail what is different between the Tribe of Minwan and other kobolds and provide images of King Minwan and his sister using the two magic items found at in the folly.

If you have already downloaded these files, my thanks. You should receive an email shortly with the new files. If you can't wait, simply check your Library tab at DriveThruRPG.

Click the images below for full resolution images from the Compass Rose Inn.







NFL Championship, Power Outages and Bolt Cutters

Between the Bills washing out of the playoffs, today's power outages, and me getting ready for school, we taking a week or more off.

I have been hanging out with the players so I do have an idea of what happens next. I'll call it "Ortaire-4-9-3". One of my players asked if there was a spell that would remove shackles. A different player inquired about bolt cutters. So the players themselves have decided to free Ortaire the Raider from being auctioned off as a slave. 4-9-3 refers to the 4 raiders, the 9 characters of the player's party and the 3 elves.

I was expecting this very type of rebellion from the players, but not right in the face of the Coven of Ash. These are a triplet of 3rd, 5th and 7th level magic users. They can totally destroy the party in a direct confrontation.

Let's restate the facts:

  • The Emperor and his council have given the players a letter which allows them to purchase or hire a ship at a price not to exceed 4,000 pounds silver. (40,000 silver at 1/10 of pound is 4,000 pounds). 
  • Anytime this letter comes into play, it's being read as a grant of power which allows the players to do whatever they like as if they have the Emperor's blessing. 
  • Roleplay is making this happen, as the players themselves don't state this and are only vaguely aware that this is happening despite a lot of hints, like the reader can't read or notes the Seal of Office on the outside.   
  • Theoretically, they could simply demand that the town officials turn over Ortaire with that letter. (I would make them lose it in this play. It's a problem.)
  • The Emperor really wants to end slavery, so the PC kind of do have his personal and private blessing. But the Emperor is unaware of the PC's outlook, so blessings would come after the fact.  
  • The Emperor is hamstrung by other forces which prevent an outright end of slavery. 
  • The Coven of Ash will kill the characters outright if they try a bold approach. The city will go into lockdown mode to avoid the wrath of the witches, which means there will be no help. 
  • Senator Vitus is willing to help the PCs free Ortaire, but he has already contacted the 3 elves to do this anyway. They don't have a plan yet. 
  • The raiders don't necessarily care if Ortaire is freed or killed. His silence is enough. 
  • The raider's plan is to hoof it to their comrade's farm far to the east of the city. They will not do this if the witches are chasing them, but think it's a good place to be in a fight with the elves or the party. 
If the characters do anything on the sly, and it looks like they will, this will not trigger the Coven to take direct action. They will make a play on the PCs through mundane means, perhaps by sowing confusion among the city guard which has lost it Praetorian leadership. 

Other points of interest, the Praetorians in this setting are 20% assassins, 70% fighters and 10% all other classes as councilors and advisers. All of the assassins were wiped out by the Coven, so the Praetorians are reeling and allowing city officials to issue orders. Nobody wants to be in charge while the witches are in Nace. 

I'm setting a goal of playing again on Feb 1st, but we might have a session before that. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Stupid Hobby Collision D&D+Linux

I like Linux and D&D. Rarely do these hobbies collide, but sometimes I can force it. Not that I am a great Linux user. I like Linux. I like Ubuntu with XFCE. It's a great environment for my purposes. I am newbie when it comes to terminal skills. This post assumes you have zero skill.

I wanted a simple way to generate 6 D&D Character Abilities scores using Linux. There are the classic methods of using a spreadsheet, but what if I don't want numbers in a spreadsheet? What if I merely need them displayed on the screen or in a text file?

Well... terminal can do that with the shuf command. Open a terminal and try this command:

shuf -i 3-18 -n6 | paste - -s -d ' '


Breaking it down, shuf will select a seemingly random number. -i is the input of an expected range, in this case 3 to 18 or 3-18. The headcount or the number of numbers generated in this fashion is -n6. Everything after the pipe | is formating. Basically, this part will turn the typical column of numbers into a row of numbers. 

If you play D&D like me, you let players re-roll ones. In this case, your command would need to cover a range of 6 to 18. Two times three dice is 6. Try this line: 

shuf -i 6-18 -n6 | paste - -s -d ' '


Ok. That's great. You get six numbers in a row on your screen. What if you want that in a text file? For sanity, use the cd command to move from wherever you are to the Documents folder. (I lose lots of files and time by NOT doing this...)

cd Documents


Now that you are in a safe place, let's add some information to that line of commands:

shuf -i 3-18 -n6 | paste - -s -d ' ' > Stats.txt


The instruction > Stats.txt at the end will create a file called "Stats.txt" in your current directory.

Go open that file:


Great. That is one character's worth of stats. Let's make more: 

shuf -i 3-18 -n6 | paste - -s -d ' ' >> Stats.txt


Note the double >> symbols. All that does is tell terminal to append the current information to the file described. Note: I clipped my screen to show gedit and terminal in one screen shot for the next step.

Repeat the last command with a small modification, change -i 3-18 to -i 6-18. Since you didn't close gedit, you will get a new button which refreshes the file. Before you do, repeat the shuf command again. This is easily done by pressing the up arrow and then return. Do this twice.


Ok, now hit that refresh command. You have 4 sets of stats, where the first two have a range of 3 and 18 and the second is 6 and 18.


Shuf is not exactly a random number generator, but it's good enough for government work* and character stats. I THINK it is using it's the process id time and doing a computation based on that value. That means if you run a bunch of these commands in rapid succession and that interval is less than a second, then the seemingly random numbers will all be the same or very close to it. This is why I didn't make it generate 6 character at a time. You probably can't hit up arrow + return in less than half a second so the effect is not as noticeable.

Lastly, you could always run info shuf to see the full documentation of this command or to read at your convenience, try info shuf > Infoonshuf.txt

*This is joke. DON'T use this to generate random numbers for government work.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Armor in the Movies and in Games

This week, I had two ideas collide. I finally finished The Mandalorian on Disney+ and received my order of the book, What is Dungeons and Dragons?. The book takes you through the process of how to create for not just Dugeons and Dragons, but many game systems, while the TV show follows the adventures of Baby Yoda and his newly minted father figure, The Mandalorian.

One thing that stands out in the TV show is how armor should work. Mando gets blasted and knocked around, losing bits and pieces all over the place. Like the real world.


Apparently, Mandalorians are the only Star Wars characters with fully functioning armor. I'd like to bring that into my D&D campaign.

In the original Unearthed Arcana book, there are a couple of options for this. First, there is field plate, which acts like hit points and a matching Magic Armor spell which does the same. I use a fusion of B/X and AD&D so this isn't too outside the box.

What I would like to do is create a system where all armor works to reduce damage. AD&D's armor class is nicely suited for this as 10 is a person's street clothes armor class, which is not protective. It stands to reason that I could simply create a table where dividing each minus to AC by 4 reduces damage by one.

AC
10 0/4 is nothing, so No Damage Reduction
9 is -1/4=.25 No Damage Reduction
8 is -2/4=.50 for 1 Point of  Damage Reduction
7 is -3/4=.75 for 1 Point of  Damage Reduction
6 is -4/4=1.00 for 1 Point of Damage Reduction
5 is -5/4=1.25 for 1 Point of Damage Reduction
4 is -6/4=1.50 for 2 Points of Damage Reduction
3 is -7/4=1.75 for 2 Points of Damage Reduction
2 is -8/4=2.00 for 2 Points of Damage Reduction
1 is -9/4=2.25 for 2 Points of Damage Reduction
0 is -10/4=2.50 for 3 Points of Damage Reduction

This table is nice because it naturally places armor in groups: none, minimal, medium and heavy, which is kind of what the game books do anyway. The table requires division and rounding, which is easy enough on the brain to do on the fly or I could simply make an index sized card for quick reference.

What do you think?

Now, as promised, the ads. On January 1st, I picked up some new ad sources which are very nice. Clicking a link will take you to a store based on the topics covered in this post. The first is for a set of mini-figures from The Mandalarian and the second is to Alibris, where you can get a 3/3.5 edition of Unearthed Arcana. Of course, you could click on the link on the upper right and check out one of my books from DriveThruRPG, offered at PWYW. These ads provide funds to me to keep this site going as I head back to school.

Clicking the link below will take you to the Lego store.




Clicking the link below will take you to purchase Andy Collins Unearthed Arcana @ Alibris

Saturday, January 4, 2020

What is Dungeons and Dragons? Book Review

Title: What is Dungeons and Dragons?
Author: John Butterfield, Philip Parker and David Honigmann
Year: 1982
Pages: 231
Rating: ★★★★★

Way back when, my dad took me to The Tek Pharmacy and told me flat out, "I don't have any extra money to get you anything." As he shopped I made my way to the book section and was perusing the Choose Your Own Adventure Books. I didn't want another, I felt like I had "graduated" from those, even though they were always enjoyable.

Back then, things were not like they are today. Being a small pharmacy, the books on the shelves would be by today's standard very old. The books were perhaps as old as 5 year since their publication date being sold as new. This is why I can't nail down the exact year of this visit. But in all likelihood, I probably look like either one of the kids on the right.

After Dad picked up his script or whatever he was buying, he found me looking at a book called: What is Dungeons and Dragons? by John Butterfield, Philip Parker and David Honigmann.

As I put it back on the shelf to leave, my dad said, "Oh, a book. I have money for a book. As long as you read it." I was probably 10 or 11. Now I am almost 48. And I'll tell you, I read the hell out that book. The pages were falling out, the spine was shattered and the cover had gone missing a long time ago. Finally, the book met it's end when the basement flooded. It was a sad day because this book has been out of print probably for decades.

As you will note, this is my second 5 gold star review. My first was Nate Treme's The Moldy Unicorn. If I had it do over again, I would make What is Dungeons and Dragons? the first and The Moldy Unicorn second. My Mom is a publisher, my Dad writes game books and I write, too. I don't go forking out 5 gold stars for shits and giggles. (Normally, I don't cuss either, but it is what it is.) The content has to be not just superior, it has to be memorable.

I've read both over and over again and they both evoke the same feeling of nostalgia. Each was something wildly different than what I had encountered in the past.

Within Butterfield, Parker and Honigmann's book, you get a ground up approach to game play. The first 8 chapters cover a massive amount of ground. Back in 1982, this was the closest one could get to "The Internet". Chapter 1 is an introduction to D&D. Chapters 2-5 walk the reader through character generation, dungeon design, an adventure with examples, and the role of the Dungeon Master in the game. Each of these topics are presented in a solid and memorable framework, with the section on The Adventure standing out. The sample adventure is not a classic in the sense of many great modules, but is a model of what one could realistically expected to produce on one's own. And that is great!

The next several chapters cover more advance details, such as figures, accessories, computers and even AD&D with the same solid reporting of the first 5 chapters.

The final chapter addresses other game systems, in a rather cursory fashion when compared to the information now available to us now. At 231 pages, some of which are maps, diagrams, and indices, there is no way for this book to rival information available on even a couple of web pages, but this is all I had back then.

This book is a treasure. At this point I am going to throw an ad at you. If you love the history of the game, go purchase this book. My link is to Amazon, but seriously, shop around and try to get your hands on one by any means possible.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

3.5 Review - Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook

Title: Player's Handbook (3.5)
Code: N/A PHB 3.5, unofficially
Design Team: Monte Cook, Jonathan Tweet, Skip Williams
Rule Set: Dungeons and Dragons 3.5
Year: 2003
Pages: 320
Levels: Any
Rating: ★★★★

D&D 3.5 came out in June of 2003. It wasn't until 2007 that I even looked at it. I wasn't mentally prepared to make the huge jump from AD&D and Basic D&D to 3.5, but it turns out I was. This is "These Old Games", I'm not going to review a new game...

The difference between AD&D and 3.5 is huge. Where AD&D hosted all of your character's powers and abilities under the class description, D&D 3.5 gives a cursory example of powers under class then allows you to pick from a menu of abilities.

The system is a standardized d20 system. Standardization from the ground up is very good. One of the great advantages of 3.5 is it breaks every character down into a couple of stat blocks, which makes building a quality, unique character ease. Each character is made of 8 different categories of descriptions, all of which is uniform between classes. As per any type of D&D, you start with ability scores, then everything changes. You select a race, a class, skills, feats, character descriptors like alignment and religion, equipment and finally spells, if any. All characters have the first 7 items, while only spell casters have spells, obviously.

Races stayed basically the name, but the variety of non-human sub-races were put away, presumably so DM could style their own. Gone were most racial limitations, welcoming in an age of official Elven Paladins. Races have a preferred class rather than classes they cannot perform in.

The number of classes and their relationships have changed greatly. AD&D has 11, 12, or 15 character classes, 3.5 streamlined that down to 11. Magic user and thief were renamed to Wizard and Rogue. Bard are a real class which is welcome change. Assassin, Illusionist, Cavalier and Thief-acrobat were all gone, but not really. Also, multi-classing is normal and with few restrictions, while duo-classing is utterly gone. Few very class abilities appear in under character class, they are regulated to feats.

Every character has a set of skills based on their intelligence and class. Each skill is linked to an ability, so no more nerfed Charisma.

Feats are an incredible departure from AD&D. They are special abilities that are so varied that each class can be used to create a completely unique feel. They are wholly based on class and level, so you continue to grow after creation. You can use feats to bring back those lost classes: Assassin, Illusionist, Cavalier and Thief-acrobat.

One downside to the feats system is that it is unbalanced. Magic using players are going to want the ability to make magic items, so they will lose combative feats. Rogues will want observational powers, which in no way equates to magical or combat abilities. While some of the feats are chained together with prerequisite feats, sometimes you can get two things that pair in a very unbalanced way. Usually this comes into play when you get a bonus to initiative plus some other combat effective ability, so that character always goes first with a big hit.

Your character descriptors are pretty self-explanatory, what is your outlook, demeanor, etc. But 3.5 cranks up the effect of religion on your character. You are no longer a psuedo-Catholic priest, but a follower of something out of our world. Spontaneous casting should also falls under this category, but it is described with the classes. Basically, your character can cast whatever they feel like if they have this ability. Additionally, clerics can always cast healing spells if the need arises.

Equipment has been regulated to an abstract system, almost like a tool kit for the class. It reminds of Star Frontiers' Standard Equipment Pack. I find it odd and basically ignore it. Equipment lives in the half-world of wonderfully standardized rules vs. massively extensible character variety. The designers probably realized this and went with it to allow players to access equipment that is otherwise too expensive by the charts at first level. It's not that much of a problem, really because back in the days of AD&D, I, the DM, was forking out cool equipment on character generation day.

Spells have been completely revamped and tied back to the mechanical systems of the game. Additionally, they have been realigned with the various schools and those schools are often dedicated to specific classes. A 3rd level Wizard spell might be a 7th level Sorcerer spell. Also, being in tune with the mechanics of play, there are no oddball spells that work like nothing else in the game.

Back to the standardized rules. ALL information combat information appears in the Player's Handbook. Back in the 70s and 80s, you'd make a character then wonder what you were getting into. With this book, you know. There are a few things relegated to the DM Guide, but they aren't enough to slow you down. THAC0 and decending AC are gone. Your opponent's AC is your attack roll target number, which is reduced by your attack bonus. Combat is speedier, attacks come more often than AD&D. The rounds seem to take longer, but a heck of a lot can happen in a given round without reducing combat to "high roll wins all".

Saves have also been revamped to fortitude, reflex and willpower. It's a nice, easy system. I think it's far better than charts, even though I lament the loss of the marketing statement: "Includes 31 illustrations, maps and charts".

While I still prefer to play my mashup of Basic, Expert and Advance D&D, the benefits of 3.5 outweigh any negatives. If I were doing a one shot or something and didn't have anything in specific in mind, this would be my rule set.

4 of 5 stars.

You can grab a digital copy from DriveThruRPG for less than 10 bucks. Or head over to Amazon for a physical copy, I suggest you shop around for a good price over there. This one is too expensive. The link below is a paid ad and will take you to Amazon.com. 



It is also available at Alibris.com.


Thursday, December 26, 2019

OSRIC Module Review - M06 The Warren

Title: SM06 The Warren
Code: SM-06
Author: Simon Miles
Rule Set: OSRIC
Year: 2019
Pages: 79
Number of characters: 6-10 characters
Levels: 5-8
Rating: ★★★★★

Today, I downloaded Simon Miles' SM06 The Warren. He publishes under the name Dunromin University Press, which has it's own website. I found it to be an excellent read even though I play a fused version of Basic D&D and AD&D, the OSRIC information seemed completely transparent in purpose. I don't think this particular module fits with my current campaign, it is clearly an homage to Keep on the Borderlands. I could totally use this as a high level one shot.

Oh, and the artwork is amazing.

The production values are just as high in this book as SM00, this module is loaded with artwork and maps. The maps seem to be a fusion of old school and modern styles, where I actually can't tell if they are wholly digital or a mixed media. One addition that this module has is little vignettes of the dungeon map by the text descriptions. These are obvious digital, but a very nice feature. Again, I really like his maps.

This module takes the party through the Burning Woods to the goblin heaven or haven of The Warren. The adventures start off with mere rumors and weapons to start their adventures. The maps cover miles and miles of terrain and the multi-leveled Warren. The module is 79 pages with zero filler.

Mr Miles describes this module as "challenging". After a read through it, that is an accurate assessment, but we're talking normal challenging, not Tomb of Horrors total party kill-fest. Additionally, Mr. Miles adds in tactics and weapons for the Goblin pack, which is a great bonus.

I am not sure what to make of the World of Barnaynia as yet, I feel that these modules under that banner are easily modified to plug and play anywhere, which is why a ranked these modules as high as I did. I would like to see and understand more of the World of Barnaynia, so I await more materials.

ORSIC Module Review - SM12 The Trials of a Young Wizard

Title: SM12 The Trials of a Young Wizard
Code: SM-12
Author: Simon Miles
Rule Set: OSRIC
Year: 2019
Pages: 48
Number of characters: 4-8 Characters, one must be a magic user.
Levels: 1-2
Rating: ★★★★★

A little while ago, I downloaded Simon Miles' SM00 A Traveller's Atlas of Dunromin and the Land of the Young. He publishes under the name Dunromin University Press, which has it's own website. I found it to be an excellent read even though I play a fused version of Basic D&D and AD&D, the OSRIC information seemed completely transparent in form and function. I feel like I could run this campaign setting with a couple of rule sets with little modification. Oh, and the artwork was spectacular.

I wanted to see how the rest of the series holds up so I downloaded SM 12, The Trials of a Young Wizard. The production values are just as high in this book as SM00, however, being a module, it doesn't show off Mr. Miles' artwork as much. The maps seem to be a fusion of old school and modern styles, where I actually can't tell if they are wholly digital or a mixed media.

One of the surprises in this book is the fact that it's a single module, it's actually 3 books in one. The titles are The Lost Son, The Return of the Cauldron of Millent and Murder at the Red Barn. Nice! Key information for the DM is bolded and the text boxes are infrequent and spare so that a seasoned DM has space to add flavor while giving a new DM important info to grow from.

The stories are linear from one adventure to the other, but the wording leaves wiggle room so that players can have their PCs recover between them. The second adventure begins with the line, "It's not a big deal really". So, feel free to recharge those PCs with a little R&R.

The mechanics of each story or module in this three part set take into account the character's limitations. The first is not particularly dangerous, figuring the PCs are low hit point starters. I would think that seating 8 players at the table would work better, and I am glad to see the module assumes this from the get go. One of the biggest changes from Basic D&D to modern rules is the assumption that there will only be a DM and 4 players vs. a DM and any number of players plus their NPC retainers. This is one of the reasons I prefer OSR and the older original stuff to the otherwise fine rules of later editions.

2019. That ship has sailed...

Ah, the campaign will continue in 2020. I've briefly spoken with all of the players and their primary concern was not getting killed by the Coven of Ash.

Well, that isn't a big concern on my part, but I can see how it bothers the players. They will be meeting with a Senator, either under hostile or friendly terms very shortly. He is a target of the Coven of Ash, he knows a fair bit about them, so he can explain them to the players. I have interjected the Coven as a means of making the town seem alive with the obvious benefit of having the characters interact with something very nasty early on. I don't want to surprise them later with something out of the blue.

I had hoped the characters would hop on ship at the next town, but they haven't taken the bait. In fact, they have refused the bait. Fine.

The ship has sailed on my main antagonists, the raiders. The players are clearly planning to head inland to avoid and frustrate them. The players are seriously pissing these guys off by showing up in the coastal cities and settlements, which makes the raiders believe they have a play at them, but then the party drifts inland. At some point, I am going to make the players aware that their behavior is saving many cities and towns from a good sacking.

Anyway, back to planning. I need to firm up my map of the city of Nace by the second week of January.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - Item 44 - The Bountiful Pot of Perseverance

In this final post of the series, I have used the most recent
map of the peninsula to show how much things have evolved
over this series of posts. 
We are at the end of 52 Weeks of Magic. Due to the holiday, the posting of these items has been intermittent and out of order. I intended these two posts to occur on Christmas, which I managed to do, but they are not properly numbered because I believed that it would take me until December 31st to finish catching up with the series.

These last two items, The Bountiful Pot of Perseverance and The Spot of the Teapot are linked by a story from my campaign on the Peninsula of Plenty and real life events capturing the spirit of Magic and the Holidays.

Without further ado, here is the description of The Bountiful Pot of Perseverance. This magical pot, when placed on a fire will activate. Any scraps of food placed into the pot with water will be transformed into a hardy stew. Even the most meager scraps will magically be enough to feed a dozen people three meals a day.

How this device came to the Peninsula of Plenty is an elven legend. The first Elven colonies found the Peninsula to be very warm and snow to be a rarity even in winter, except for the mountains to the north. At that time, heating did not seem to be an issue and the elves naturally used magical lighting around their colony thus had little need for fuel.

In the third year after the establishment of the small port town, a blizzard swept down from the mountains and forced their ships to flee before the storm. All of the ships escaped home, but it was months before relief for the colony could be sent. As the Winter Solstice came and went, the food was nearly gone and the elves were trapped inside, with hardly any fuel for life sustaining fire. Exhausted and hopeless, the elves realized that survival was impossible. Cold and starvation is not fast and the elves could only wait for the end.

Three or four days after the solstice, the cold became unearthly. It was even too cold for snow. And as the dawn glinted off the Diamond Dust that hung in the air, the elves heard bells. And with the bells came a man. Or a dwarf or a woman. The only thing that the elves could agree on was this person was dressed in red, wore a fake beard and nose and carried several packages.

Their saintly benefactor gave to them many things, loaves of bread and teas and pots and earthen vessels and blankets. The survivors tried to thank their benefactor, but with a wink and a finger on the tip of his nose, he or she vanished into thin air.

The colony was saved and persevered through the harsh winter. To this day, the Colony is vigilant for foul weather, yet celebrates a great feast during the week of the Winter Solstice.

We are at the end of this series of wonder and magic.

I would like to dedicate this series to a friend, Gary, who was Santa for a great number years to many, many people. After his passing, his wife Katie took up his Santa hat and continued the tradition for many years until she awarded the mantle to their son, who continues the tradition for another generation. This series is dedicated to all people who place wonder and joy of others before their own needs, to create magic for others.

52 Weeks of Magic - Item 43 - The Spot of the Teapot

I have used the oldest map I have of the Peninsula as a nod
to all the hours spent on creating this campaign. 
We are at the end of 52 Weeks of Magic. Due to the holiday, the posting of these items has been intermittent and out of order. I intended these two posts to occur on Christmas, which I managed to do, but they are not properly numbered because I believed that it would take me until December 31st to finish catching up with the series.

These two items are linked by a story from my campaign on the Peninsula of Plenty and real life events capturing the spirit of Magic and the Holidays. These stories will be a part of The Bountiful Pot of Perseverance post, which will be out later this morning.

The Spot of the Teapot is an unusual magic item. It has multiple parts that do many things. The Teapot has a basket, which when filled with bark, leaves or grasses will produce 8 gallons of savory and warming tea per day. Drinking the tea will fortify the drinker against cold for 8 hours.

The second half of this magic item is the fire ring which protects the teapot from the coals of the fire. This ring will cause any sized fire to warm the teapot and the area around it for 24 hours, after which more fuel must be added. This area is variable, but large enough to hold about 10-12 people.

52 Weeks of Magic - Item 51 - Amulet of Fortuna

The Amulet of Fortuna is a simple device that provides special luck to the wearer. If the wearer fails a saving, they are immediately entitled to a second saving throw.

The magic of this devices is peculiar. It will only allow a single successful reroll per day. However, if the reroll fails to bring luck to the wearer, it will afford another save to a completely different event later in that same day. This can happen over and over until the wearer gains a bit of luck.

52 Weeks of Magic - Item 49 - Oakheart's Staff

Oakheart's Staff is a clerical weapon which confers a bonus of +1 to hit and to damage. The staff can also cast Shield and Protection from Evil, once per day, each.

The true power of the Staff is it's ability to remove status effects over a radius of 30 feet. Raising the Staff in this way will have the following effects:

1) Unconscious and sleeping characters will be awoken immediately.
2) All people in the area of effect will recover 1 hit point.
3) All manner of bonds, such as ropes and shackles, will fall off.
4) If someone is under the effects of poison, a spell like charm, or a curse, they will be allowed another saving throw.

All four of these effects happen simultaneously and affect friend and foe alike. This power may be used once a day and costs one charge. The staff has 50 charges.

This staff effects the casting of Create Food and Water. It will double the strength of these spells when used in the process of casting. This effect is unlimited and costs no charges.

52 Weeks of Magic - Item 52 - Cloak of the Magi

The Cloak of the Magi is a dangerous defense for a character to wear. This is a leather cloak imbued with the essence of a demon. The demonic power contain within requires that the owner not wear other magical defenses such as rings, bracers or any other device that confers a bonus to AC.

In exchange for this sacrifice, the Cloak acts as AC 4 armor. Second, the demon will ask the wearer to cast a spell at it. The effect casting a spell into the cloak is to create a magic barrier between the wearer and damage. The barrier will have hit points equal to twice the level of the spell cast at the cloak.

Once empowered in this way, the demon can defend the wearer against critical damage. If struck by a natural 20 or maximum damage, the cloak will strike out at the attacker. The victim is entitled to a saving throw vs. magic spell. The attack does 1d6 hp per round and the cloak will attack until the target is killed or makes a saving throw.

If the victim passes the save, the Cloak will turn against it's wearer attacking for 1d6 points of damage unless they make a saving throw. The Cloak will only make one attempt on it's owner's life. Passed or failed, the wearer's saving throw or the death of either the wearer or his or her attacker will depower the cloak until another spell is cast into it.

Note, if the character is struck by an item for damage which has no obvious source, the cloak will trigger it's attack sequence on the wearer unless a saving throw is made. Examples of damage which will trigger an attack are: magic spells cast from beyond visual range, a dart trap, falling debris, etc. Damage that are natural consequences will not trigger an attack. For example, poison ingested, fire, and falling.

Empowering the cloak "charges" the cloak for 24 hours. The barrier against attacks is not an increase in the user's hit points, it is a distinct thing separate from the wearer and the cloak. Casting a new spell into the cloak to recharge it will cause the barrier's hit points to reset to the last spell level used. The cloak always has a AC of 4, whether it is charged or not. If the wearer refuses to remove other protective devices, the AC bonus of the Cloak is nullified.

While magic using characters benefit the most from this cloak, any class can wear it. The cloak will only accept a spell from the wearer, someone else cannot charge the cloak up for the wearer.

52 Weeks of Magic - Item 50 - Flask of Dīs Pater

The Flask of Dīs Pater is an unusual curiosity. It appears to be empty under normal circumstances, but when shaken, it sounds like it is mostly full of a liquid.

The purpose of this item is preservation and rescue. If a character is reduced to one or less hit points, drinking from, or pouring the flask into the beleaguered character cause them to fall into a deep coma. The coma stops all reoccurring damage, such as poison. In the event that the person has less than 1 hit point, it will preserve the body at the edge of death. This property allows a cleric to cast a heal or cure spell on the person, even beyond the point where such a spell would be effective.

In the case of a character having a single hit point, they will recover from the coma in one hour, with one addition hit point.

There are limits to the flask's power. First, the coma only lasts 24 hours per sip or pour. Second, if the magical healing is not enough, the person will die immediately as the spell is cast. Magical healing is the only thing that will restore a character. Two or more clerics working together could cast two or more healing spells simultaneously in increase the odds of keeping the person alive.

The only way to see the liquid is to accidentally dribble it while drinking or pouring into a person with an actual need. It is crystal clear and smells strongly of honey and mint.

52 Weeks of Magic - Item 48 - Bullet of Impedance

Bullets of Impedance are magical sling ammunition. They are usually found in groups of 5 or 6. They are +1 weapon weapon to hit, but impose a magical effect instead of damage.

When a target is struck by the Bullets of Impedance, a maelstrom of wind afflicts them for 1d4+1 rounds unless they save vs. magic. There are 3 effects to this magical force. All attack rolls are at a - 1. Second, any spell current being prepared is lost and any attempts to cast a spell are hampered by the blast of wind. The third effect is actually beneficial to the target, their AC is improved by one against melee attacks and by 2 for missile attacks.

If a spell caster attempts to prepare a spell under these conditions, they will find the task impossible. They will not "lose" the spell as they can't even start the process.

While described as a wind, it is more like ghostly hands pulling and pushing the victim around unpredictably.