Saturday, December 31, 2011

current Caves of Myrddin PCs by class

Fighters - 10
Clerics - 6 (a vast improvement since last I looked at these stats)
Magic-Users - 6
Thieves - 6 (incredible, considering how much the class sucks)
Dwarves - 3
Elves - 3
Halfling - 2
Pigs - 1

Friday, December 30, 2011

Caves of Myrddin update

Harold the Adequate, Farley the Dwarf, Courtney the Loser and the Brothers Hoyle and Cadfael explored below the West Tower.  They all returned alive, but Courtney was missing most of the flesh on his face (green slime cured by fire).  A cure light wounds turned much of the poor bastard's face into scar tissue rather than blackened skull, but either way he's now Courtney the Hideous.  And Brother Cadfael picked a fight with the crows near the end of the session.  He comes back covered from head to toe with tiny wounds from pecking beaks.

The group explored under the west tower, in places west and northwest of the Goblin Village.  They eventually stumbled upon a Temple dedicated to Satan in his form of the Tempting Serpent and looted a bunch of gold religious implements.  This stuff was worth quite a bit to certain anonymous locals, resulting in massive carousing that got a bit out of hand.  The party spilled out of the Abbey and into the countryside and somehow the nearby village of Camelton caught fire.  The good news is that the witch and her hut were in the part of the village that didn't burn.  The bad news is that, in wake of the disaster, local prices for certain goods have gone up.  Check the latest version of the chargen doc for the new prices. (Hint: stuff made out of wood is more expensive now.)

One of the players convinced me to try enhancing play with, a group drawing program.  Below is the map we made.  Although the map was very helpful, I disliked flipping back and forth between it and the G+ Hangout screen.  Google+ Hangouts works for me as an online gaming venue because I can see the participants react in real time, so I'm not sure if I will try Twiddla again.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

question for 25mm enthusiasts

What minis manufacturer, currently in production or long gone, makes the shortest halflings?  I got some 1:72 plastic fantasy figures (as mentioned here many moons ago) for Christmas.  The makers of these figures also offer packs of elves and dwarves, but no hobbity types.  My attempts to google up 20mm halflings have failed.  So now I'm looking for particularly small 25mm halflings, if anyone can recommend such. Metal or plastic is fine, but absolutely no footwear, please.

my new favorite boardgame

I beat my brothers-in-law and nephews at 7 Wonders twice today.  These are all smart dudes and I usually struggle to not come in last.  So now I will insist we play this game at every family gathering. More seriously, this is a fun little card-laying game of civilization building that involves passing cards to the player next to you and not being able to use all the good ones, so you get the double frustration of giving good cards to one player and getting crap from another.  Good times.

Another game we played was Egizia, which has a cute little ancient Egyptian monument-building theme.  The two frustrations in this one are the player before you swiping your action, and not being able to pick the option you want without screwing yourself out of future actions.  The latter is represented by little landing boats along the Nile; you can only go downriver, so if you pass something you can't go back and get it.  Another fun one.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wizardly Wednesday

Here's the wizard from Regular Show.

Here's the wizard from Regular Show peeing in a bush
while he leaves his reality-altering magic keyboard
sitting on a bench in a public park.
Hijinks ensue.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

two more minis

These aren't really part of the group I showed earlier, but I found them during my search and thought they needed to be shared.


Hobby Products (later Mega Miniatures),  Metal Magic line 
C1019 Villagers and Townspeople 
C1019e, "Rat-Catcher" 
Sadly, a small but vicious dog is not included.

Heritage/Elan Merchandising, Lord of the Rings Diorama Sets
1701 Bilbo's Birthday Party 
1701e, "Gandalf with Fireworks"

A picture of a wizard with an armful of primitive rockets is enough to get any DM's brain going. Now imagine a variant MU class where Gandalf is the sole exemplar.  At some level you gain the ability to create fireworks!

serious dungeon adventurers in 25mm

You know what's missing from most miniature representations of dungeon adventurers?  Backpacks, sacks, and friggin' light sources.  On a lark I combed through the Lost Minis Wiki to see what I could dig up in the way of minis that looked like they were properly equipped for dungeoneering.  Below is every photo I found.

Adiken Miniatures, Nin-Gonost line, 
AF-040, "Eric, Squire with Lantern"

Asgard Miniatures, Dungeon Adventurers
DA-33, "Human Magic-User"
Is that a coil of rope maybe?  That would be cool.

As I recall a fair number of other Asgard figures came with backpacks and other equipment.

Grenadier and later EM-4 Miniatures, Fantasy Warriors Blister Packs
906, "Fighters and Companions"

Heritage/Game Figures Inc., Dungeon Dwellers Figure Sets
1215, "Henchmen"
They also appear in Heritage's Dungeon Dwellers box 3501 Adventuring Characters.

Grenadier, Small Boxed Set
2004, "Hirelings" (also Dragon Lords 2004, "Hireling Crew")

These guys are awesome.  James Maliszewski talked about them here.  Hireling H is pounding in an iron spike.  Isn't that great? I have yet to see another guy like that.  Several figures here also appear in the Grenadier large box 5001 Dungeon Explorers.

Dude with torch about to throw a flask! Sweet!
"Magsman w/ oil"
from Grenadier Small Boxed Set 2008, "Thieves"

Unidentified figure with a great array of equipment.

I like the substantive backpack on this guy,
Ral Partha, Fantasy Adventurers
03-081 or 61-050 or FA06 (appeared in 3 different production runs)
"Thief with Longsword in Ambush"

How do you get the bard to stop playing his damn lute?
Make him hold the torch!
Ral Partha, Fantasy Adventurers
61-006, "Bard with Sword/Lute"

Ral Partha, Fantasy Adventurers
FA37, "Questing Ranger with Torch and Sword "

Ral Partha, Fantasy Tribes Fighters
Boxed Set FTF300 Defenders of Law 
FTF55, unnamed 
I don't know what all this guy is carrying,
but here sure has a lot of it!

Ral Partha, Larry Elmore Collector Series
02-802 "Journey to the Gathering"
The sacks these two are carrying aren't much,
but the little weird dude also has great pouches.
This duo are based upon the classic Elmore piece below.

Ral Partha, Larry Elmore Collector Series
Boxed Set 10-310 Silver and Steel
"Female Warrior with Sword & Torch"

Ral Partha, Weird Fantasy line
WF-03 "The Complete Adventurer"
Probably the most realistic D&D mini ever made.

02572, "Overladen Henchman"

02638, "Adventuring Accessories"
Add some useful equipment to other figures!

There are a few more properly figures out there.  The HackMaster mini line features a few hirelings carrying substantive gear. I think I've seen a Grenadier figure with a 10' pole at some point. I'm pretty sure the Iron Wind Metals store (who now sell a bunch of Ral Partha's old designs) carries at least one fighter with a torch not in the Lost Minis Wiki.  The D&D type comic Nodwick got a figure line at one point and the Nodwick mini is hauling a bunch of stuff on his back. The Rafm Custom Character line is woefully under documented on the internet, but several figures in that line came with all sorts of great equipment.  Back in the day my buddy Dave had one Custom Character that had a big ol' wineskin. We loved that.  Many CC figs also came with backpacks.  And I haven't really sifted through the complete Reaper line yet.  I love Reaper's sculpts, but the fact that torch or lantern aren't even options in their awesome Figure Finder is not a good sign.

Monday, December 26, 2011

three faces, two eyes

Stumbled across this Warhammer mini, I'm not sure how.
but my first thought was "Holy crap! A sword-swinging Tirapheg!"

The tirapheg is a pretty obscure critter.
This picture is the Tirapheg as presented in the original Fiend Folio.
For lots of tiraphegy goodness, check out Tirapheg Week
over at Max's blog Malevolent & Benign.

While searching for that second image, 
I found this unreleased Citadel mini of the Tirapheg.
Poor bastard had one of his arms broke off.

two news items

1.)  Merry Day After Xmas! The Secret Santicore pdf is out! In case you're out of the loop, this was an OSR project where people emailed Jez of Giblet Blizzard with a request for some sort of game type project (I asked Santicore for a map, for instance) and in return you got someone else's wish to fufill (I ended up writing a brief adventure).  The whole 104-page thing-a-ma-bob is available for free download here.

2.) I'm going to be honest here, I had never of Diehard GameFAN until today. But I can't disagree with whoever they are when they hand out two of their annual tabletop awards to Lamentations of the Flame Princess (Best OSR Title) and Vornheim (Best Campaign Setting).  Well played.

Caves of Myrddin update

Today marks an unprecedented in the history of the expeditions to the Caves of Myrddin and the dungeons below Castle Dundagel. Abbot Wendron pays a personal visit on the guest house where most of the adventurers stay between delves. Normally he stays away from the place so he can plausibly deny knowledge of the shenanigans that go one there, but through a discreet messenger he quietly gives you one hour's notice of his visit, giving you a chance to tidy up a bit. The following is his address to all those present:

The peace of Christ and his servant Saint Emmet be upon you all.

My friends, three days ago my brothers and I had to bury one of your number, a lad named Gomma.  We are all born into this vale of tears not knowing the number of our days, but knowing that the numbering will be short. That he died young does not trouble me, especially considering the dangers he accepted in plumbing the hell-tainted depths of the nearby dungeons.

What troubles me was that he death was unnecessary and avoidable. Though slain by one of the numerous deathtraps below the ruined castle, what truly killed Gomma was foolishness.  Not his own folly, though perhaps he was not the sharpest knife in the kitchen, but rather he was slain by the folly of another.  It seems several of you have taken to bringing some chalk into the dungeon and mislabeling things, in hopes of luring your fellows away from treasure and towards deadly traps.  It was one of these chalk messages that led to Gomma's demise.

Men, this horse hockey has got to stop.  I know that there is a finite amount of treasure in those haunted crypts and each of you wants it all for himself, but ask yourself who these subterfuges really serve.  Every time you draw one of these deceptive signs the Vampire Lord of Crows licks his beak in anticipation of fresh blood.  Every time you get out your chalk in hopes of tricking other adventurers the Dragon of Dundagel laughs and counts his gold, secure in the knowledge that you are helping to protect it!

There's no point in attempting to enforce my wishes with an array empty threats.  I can't police what happens down in those hellholes. So I won't huff and puff and threaten to withhold our hospitality here or our clerical aid should my advice be ignored. But consider the words of this old man as friendly advice.  Nothing would please me more than for you to kill all the monsters, find all the gold and most of all, come back alive.  So do yourselves a favor and worry less about the handful of competitors for the loot and worry more about the horrid monsters that oppose you all.

And for Christ's sake, clean this place up a little.  What is that smell?

Friday, December 23, 2011

note to Blair/One Dudebird

Yes!  Merwik the Merchant still has those wicked suits of armor in stock!

To quote an earlier post:

A breastplate and helmet combo will set you back 100gp. Here's how they work: They protect you the same as ordinary chain and helm HOWEVER they're slightly lighter, so you can outrun someone in chain. It's not enough to up your movement rate but if you're both, say, fleeing a monster the other guy gets eaten and you get away. Also, while wearing this gear you look just like a kickass fighter from an Erol Otus illo. Thes items go to the first nine FLAILSNAILS players to comment in this thread indicating that they are spending the 100gp. They are sized for humans and elves.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Running Some Numbers: Sea Voyages

Today I want to do a little hypothetical.  Let's imagine that some of the players in my Caves of Myrddin campaign lay their hands on a map showing the location of the mythical island of Antillia, somewhere to the west/southwest of the British Isles.  How much would it cost to travel there?  I'll use the prices in the 1981 D&D Expert book to guide the calculations.

In my opinion, the first thing the party should do is hire a captain.  In my experience most players want to buy the ship first, but how the heck would their PCs know whether they're getting a good vessel or a lemon?  Starting with the captain gives you expert advice on every other aspect of the problem.  The normal cost of a captain is 250 gp/month.  He'll work for the PCs at least one month before the actual expedition.

Since the only navigational aid in the party's possession is some musty scroll probably found in a stinky old dungeon, the captain urges the party to hire a navigator right away.  "You don't want the navigator plotting the course as we leave the harbor, after all."  The navigator earns 150gp per month and will also work for at least one month prior to setting sail.

The captain and navigator study the scroll and estimate it will take a week to get there.  The party decides that this initial voyage will be a short one: a week there, two weeks of scouting out the island, and a week back.  So they will only hire everyone else in the crew for one month.  So the captain and navigator will end up costing a total of 800gp.

Meanwhile, the Captain has located a small sailing vessel he deems likely to not sink between Wessex and Antillia.  The cost is 5,000gp, plus 1,000gp for each lifeboat (it can hold up to two).  Our heroes decide they only need one lifeboat, since it will hold the entire party and they don't really care whether the crew lives or dies.  So they spend 6,000gp on the vessel itself, including the ship's boat.

Sailor's earn 10gp per month and at least 10 are required to operate a small sailing ship.  One of the more grizzled players urges the party to hire 15 sailors.  He fears the DM will kill some of the sailors and then pimp over the party somehow when the ship is understaffed.  That'll be 150gp for the crew.

So the party has spent 6,950gp and maybe thinks they're ready to go.  The DM smiles and reminds them they have to feed everyone for a month.  Including the PCs and their henchmen, that's approximately 25 mouths.  We'll round up to 28 people for a consumption rate of 4 week's rations per day.  For the first week everyone could eat standard rations for 20gp a day, or 140gp.  The remaining 3 weeks will cost 60gp a day for sea biscuit and beef jerky (iron rations), or 1,260gp.  That's 1,400gp for food.

Drink is a little trickier to calculate.  How much hydration does one wineskin provide?  I don't really know.  PCs in my game tend to guzzle the whole damn thing when adventuring gets rough. So maybe I'll just arbitrarily decide the expedition needs 10 barrels of wine at 100gp a piece, or 1,000gp total.

Some of the players will probably complain on spending 2,400gp for food and drink, but them's the breaks.  If they're smart, they'll round up to 3,000gp as cushion for windless seas and other emergencies leading to a longer expedition than planned.  They'll also bring 600gp in extra food and drink for each time they plan on carousing while on this little voyage.

So here's the final tally for our hypothetical sea voyage:

  500gp captain
  300gp navigator
6,000gp vessel + boat
   150gp sailors
3,000gp food & drink

9,950gp TOTAL

Note that's a small boat, no mercenaries to guard the ship while the PCs are playing away team, and no money spent on miscellaneous equipment the party might need once they make landfall.  And only a two week window to find anything interesting (i.e. loot to make the voyage profitable).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wizardly Wednesday: it's Adventure Time!

Dig this super sweet Ice King fan art! Here's the artist's deviantArt gallery.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

a good start

When  I was a kid all the coolest swords & sorcery books had art like this on the cover.  Naked or nearly naked people are just as important an element of the genre to me as blood-drenched swords and dark pacts with infernal intelligences.  So for my next campaign, set in ancient Japan, I kind of want to get some of that sword & sorcery mojo going, so instead of this sort of thing:

I sort of want the visual aesthetic to be more like this:

I've been scouring the internet looking for Frazetta style S&S art depicting Japanese people, but so far my results have been limited.  If I settled for 'big eyes' style anime art, I could easily come up art, but that's not what I want. So the search continues.

In the meantime, I think I'm going to use a new house rule for the next campaign.  I'm already leaning towards Lamentations of the Flame Princess as the system, and its use of an ascending AC system actually makes this idea dirt simple:

The Frazetta Nakedness Rule: PCs (and key NPCs) use their Dex score as their unarmored AC, or the normal unarmored base, whichever is higher.

Even with 3d6 in order, that ought to get a few people running around without armor, especially if the price for decent armor is kept high and magical armor of the plus variety non-existant. One of the ways LotFP cleverly avoids a lot of bloat is by keeping all ACs low and eschewing plus weapons/armor.

stuff you might like to know

Remember when Geoffrey McKinney's Carcosa precipitated the end of Western civilization?  A new, deluxified edition is out from the publisher everyone loves to hate, James Effin' Raggi, a.k.a. the Lamentations of the Flame Princess dude. Also released by LotFP is an entirely new weird ass sandbox from Mr. McKinney, entitled Isle of the Unknown. I haven't seen the inside of either yet, since they're coming on the slow boat from Finland, but the original Carcosa was one of the best things published by the old school ruckus and the previews for the new books look like they're full of kick ass.  You can order you own copy (print and/or PDF) over at the LotFP store.  Also get Vornheim while you're there, if you don't have it already.

There's a new issue of Fight On!, the flagship print magazine of the old school ruckus.  What is this, number thirteen?!  Damn!  I can't even friggin' keep up with the awesomeness!  Every issue is cram-packed with content.  I think I have a couple of tiny stupid die charts in this one, but the real reason to pick it up are the ten different adventures!  Direct links to ordering print and PDF copies are here and here. If you're new to FO! (or like buying the same stuff twice) then you should also check out this sweet compilation of the first four issues.

I've been asked if there's any chance that I will have a draft of Fleet Captain, my reto-stupid spaceship project, available for some playtesty action over the holidays.  Sadly, I don't think that's going to happen.  The project has not been forgotten or dropped, though.

Finally, I want to share a really dumb online cartoon series that David Insel, one of the Encounter Critical inner, inner circle, pointed me to recently.  Check out the awesome majesty of Gundarr!

Monday, December 19, 2011

thinking about magic again

Dig this diagram.  I've switch from MS Paint to Google Docs for my inept chart needs. I like the results.

Anyway, in my experience maybe 90% of PC magic-users stay in the center blue area.  There's a couple possible reasons for this.  One is that most versions of the game require serious gold and/or XP requirements to get into the green region.  If you need to be an MU11 to make items, then most MU will never do it. Another is that some players are more casual than others.  Some dudes just want to throw fireballs, no big whoop.

Another reason many MUs never engage the spell research and magic item creation rules is that they don't realize that they have these powers.  The chargen handout for my World of Cinder campaign specifically noted spell research as a class ability for magic-users and elves, but I'm not sure anyone ever actually wrote it down on their character sheet.  "I can cast sleep right now" tends to overshadow "with a few weeks and a couple thousand gp (that I don't have), I can make up a new spell".

Then there's that outer area.  I think many players don't realize that this region even exists.  Maybe it doesn't in some campaigns.  Whether the DM acknowledges it or not, the "Anything goes" region is in play if there's ever some evil jerkwad trying to conquer the world with one of those big apocalyptic not-on-the-spell-list rituals. In the Caves of Myrddin, at least two players have gotten some work done in this area.  A certain elf knows how to create a magical safe room, where no evil creature can set foot. And one of the magic-users is on the verge of being able to contact a demon. I can't wait to see how that turns out.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"magic_missile_is_so_boring_i_never_pick_it" - Zak S.

 It's just a spell that does damage at a range, right?

Magic Missile Manifestation (d20)

1. Summon Ghost Arrow
2. Laser Beam Finger
3. Ebon Flame Gout from Palm
4. Icicle Spray from Fingertips
5. Sparkly Rainbow Gesture
6. Summon Nano Black Hole
7. Throw Fire Shurikens
8. Bees from Mouth
9. Lightning from Eyes
10. Fingers Briefly Become Long Snakes
11. Heat Wave From Forehead Cooks Foe's Innards
12. Spheres of Eerie Light Up From Ground
13. Slime Erupts from Target's Pores
14. Summon Biting Skulls
15. Eyes Open In Palms, Shoot Purple Beams
16. Spit Lava
17. Conjure Vortex of Green Fumes
18. Call the Hideous Cackling from Nowhere
19. Blow Kiss of Death
20. Projectile Vomit of Acid

DMs may opt to track specific formulations, or simply each caster has their own version, or maybe you have to roll every dang time you cast.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Caves of Myrddin update: revenge!

Philip the Black, Luxembourg's premier necromancer, starts the session off right by blowing a carousing roll.  It seems he got drunk and tried out a new blasphemous ritual 'involving' Ewella the Alewife's favorite goat. Philip is now #2 on her personal grudge list. How long does Ewella hold a grudge?  The #1 spot is held by her husband, who has been dead for over twenty years.

So the next morning five set out from the Abbey: a hung over Philip of Luxembourg, the dwarven duo Farley Sheehan and Tarlo Tunnelcutter, Blixa the Thief and his dog Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter.  Somehow eight returned, in two waves.  About two and a half hours after the party left three completely naked buxom lasses show up at the Abbey, one of which carries the key to Blixa's room.  This giggling, bouncing trio introduce themselves as Shuddatha the Eviscerator, Ha-Vhlacho the Time-Beast and Oggonith of the Severed Star. They report that Blixa freed them and three of their sisters from a magical painting, but the others were petrified by a medusa in the courtyard of the ruined castle.

When the party returns a few more hours later, Philip of Luxembourg is literally completely covered in blood from head to toe, dripping all over the place and reveling in it.  Like at the end of Carrie or when blading at a wrestling match gets totally out of hand. Farley Sheehan is bloody up to his knees and the rest of the party is fairly bloody as well.  They report two separate run-ins with vampires somewhere under the old gatehouse (a.k.a. the east tower).  First, they found vampiric Frida Kahlo asleep in her coffin.  She was clutching a magically trapped painting that drew the two dwarves to the center of the multiverse.  Farley is still a little goggly-eyed from doing the electric slide with Azathoth.  (Tarlo made it out of the painting, but later fell in a pit and died. That's D&D for you.)  Anyway, they staked the bejeesus out of Frida and disintegrate her corpse with sunlight and holy water.  Blixa took her magical paints and brushes and painted an escape hatch onto the canvas.

Later the group found a spot presumably close to the dragon's lair, as the floor was covered in a sufficient quantity of sloughed-off giant reptile scales that Farley now sports a shield like the one in the film Dragonslayer.  Not wanting to run into the dragon, the party elected to explore another part of the dungeon.  They soon ran into Billy's replacement character, a cleric.  I don't recall the dude's name.

They encountered the cleric just before examining a strange chamber.  The floor is stained with blood.  Blood-stained holes one to one-and-a-half inches in diameter pierce the ceiling.  In the center of the room is a squat basket/vat type thing, like you would crush grapes in to make wine, but nearly full of blood.  Just as they begin speculating about the purpose of the room they hear people talking as they descend a nearby spiral staircase.  "Why were three naked women in the courtyard anyway?" "I don't know man.  What a waste they're statues now."  "Yeah, stupid medusas."  It's wandering monster time and guess who the dice say show up?
Holy crap!  It's Lenny and Squiggy!

The two vampires responsible for killing Blixa's war poodle Gleichman stroll into the room and start slurping up blood.  Too bad the party heard them coming, as they spiked the stuff with holy water.  Smoke starts pouring out of their mouths and noses when suddenly Philip bursts out from under the surface of the blood, laughing like a goddamn psycho, silver dagger and holy water flask in hand!  The dwarf and the cleric appear from behind half-column supports along the wall, with Blixa and Abe attacking from the rear.  The party came loaded with garlic and holy water and stakes, so they eventually overwhelm the two dorkiest vampires under Dundagel and manage to avoid losing any levels in the process.  Billy'c cleric earns bonus style points by pushing his holy symbol right into Squiggy's stupid face, burning him so deeply a cross-shaped section of smoldering, blackened skull is revealed.  In the end one vampire is complete disintegrated and other is staked, then beheaded, then melted with holy water. Revenge is a dish best served bloody.

Back at the Abbey, Blixa publicly counts out 1,000gp to each of his fellows.  He then disappears into his lady-laden room. Farley and the cleric go get themselves cleaned up, then Farley starts buying drinks for everyone.  Philip the Bloody cackles something about the truenames of demons and resumes his horrid experiments.

All in all, a pretty kickass day in the history of the Wessex campaign.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Caves of Myrddin update: goblin gold!

So the Wednesday night group made out pretty well last night. Based upon the drunken ramblings of the elf Vithujin(a.k.a. Elfy Don't, a.k.a. the guy on the Abbott's pooplist for prancing about the sanctuary stark naked) and Brother Cadfael's hopeless loser nephew (unlike Fred the Dwarf's henchmen, he's not loyal or smart enough to keep his lips shut), here's what the rumor mill says:
  • Most of the adventure was spent in the magical land of the goblins, where it was winter outside the goblin forest.
  • Monsters fought included a giant silver spider, some sort of land-catfish with a purple worm style maw, a giant pterodactyl that tried to carry off their guide Turg, helpful giant ants and a wizard made of cancer that tried to forcefeed himself to Gomma the Fighter.
  • Loot carried off included a bunch of unrefined gold nuggets, some gold 'coins' shaped like tiny foetuses, some Satanic dinnerware (sold to the local coven), some wavy-bladed swords, a dozen scrolls of black papyrus and some breast plates and helms of unusually light metal and wicked design.
Since nine sets of breastplate and shield were sold to Merwik the Merchant, these items are now available for sale.  A breastplate and helmet combo will set you back 100gp.  Here's how they work: They protect you the same as ordinary chain and helm HOWEVER they're slightly lighter, so you can outrun someone in chain.  It's not enough to up your movement rate but if you're both, say, fleeing a monster the other guy gets eaten and you get away.  Also, while wearing this gear you look just like a kickass fighter from an Erol Otus illo.  Thes items go to the first nine FLAILSNAILS players to comment in this thread indicating that they are spending the 100gp.  They are sized for humans and elves.

Additionally an incident occured in the main hall of the Abbey guesthouse, where PCs stay between adventures, so you all get the real deal scoop.  Gomma the Ugly made it known that he wanted to try and sell the Zircon Ring of Olorin, a minor artifact he's owned for several sessions and not used much.  James of Dillington, an NPC wizard, showed up to offer 2,500gp for the ring.  Before they could close the deal Lankii the Elf, a fellow member of Gomma's party, objected vehemently, arguing that the item was much more useful than any amount of gold the wizard could offer.  When Gomma ignored the elf and tried to close the deal Lankii threw a charm person on Gomma to prevent the sale.  Once the spells started to fly James the Wizard backed out the room and hasn't been seen near the Abbey since.

Later, Gomma got turned into a toad for talking trash to Dremelza the Witch, but Lankii saved him by trading away one of the Black Scrolls to placate the witch.  Gomma's player was on fire last night, I tell you.  He also needed to be rescued from the cancer wizard's cultist goons.  Good times.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wizardly Wednesday: Who the What?

Aruman the Red, from Ralph Bakshi's adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.

The name of this dude was changed from Saruman to Aruman to avoid the Saruman/Sauron confusion that tripped me up the first time I tackled Tolkien as a kid.  Why he needed red robes, I don't know.  Maybe it looked better with that grey beard?

initial thoughts on classes of the Saikaido Campaign

So I'm working on this mythic/faux-historical Japanese campaign.  Today I wanted to talk about classes.

Bujin (fighter) - Well-heeled samurai, wandering ronin, or desperate peasant-turned-bandit, all these fall under the bujin class.

Sohei (cleric) - You're a monk so into Buddha you can drop miracles. PC sohei are probably troublemakers kicked out of respectable monasteries.  The cops and/or monks from a rival temple may be looking for you.

Onmyoji (magic-user) - Ancient Japan actually had a government bureau of magic-users.  Most onmyoji stay in the capital and draw decent paychecks for little work.  PC onmyoji tend to be unlicensed renegades and/or power-hungry maniacs. Female onmyoji operate as a sisterhood outside the legal sanction of the bureaucracy, but since their order was founded by an imperial princess they have a certain romantic cache that makes them less spooky to the common people.

Ninja (specialist/thief) - I got nothing more to say about this class other than "Yes, you can play a ninja."

Wo (dwarf) - Not as beardy as their Occidental cousins, most Wo go for neatly trimmed facial hair, maybe just a moustache or even -gasp- clean shaven. Many have facial tattoos, looking a bit like an actor in a kabuki play. The Wo try to participate in mainstream Japanese culture, but because of their long lifespan and tendency to sleep for Rumple Stiltskin lengths of time, they can't keep up.  Like if in a modern setting game you had a short dude in your party that dressed and talked like William Shakespeare. The Wo aren't quite over the fact that suddenly (in their terms) some emperor living on another island is in charge around here and tend to be skeptical of imperial officials.

Korrobukura (halfling) - These hairy little people live in holes in the ground and generally try to stay out of everyone's way.  Their numbers are dwindling in the south (where the campaign is set).

Spirit Folk (elf) - Mostly human in appearance, every spirit folk has some sort of 'tell' that distinguishes them: odd colored hair, a tail, animal ears, impossibly long elf ears, a third eye that opens when casting spells, a long lizard tongue, etc.  The clans of the spirit folk claim descent from old imperial lineages on one hand and various kami (spirits) on the other, making most of them hella arrogant.  Since I envision spirits in this campaign as tending to be inhuman and weird, the Spirit Folk are kind of like what if happy shiny half-elves really had the Innsmouth Taint.

Monday, December 12, 2011

belated Caves of Myrddin report

So in last Friday's game a couple of PCs caroused successfully, so I should really share some drunken news about the ol' dungeon situation. 

Durgar Ironfoot, Skole the Viking and Philip the Black spent some time digging through the big pile of rubble that used to be the main keep of Castle Dundagel.  Well, Philip the Black didn't actually do any of the digging. He let his henchweenie do the work for him. Near sundown they cleared a narrow accessway to a wide set of stair leading down into some unknown part of the dungeons.  The number of sinister crows in the vicinity had been steadily increasing as nightfall approached, so the party decided to get back to the abbey before the sun set. 

The next day, with the addition to their party of the cleric Geoffroy of Cornouaille they descended the stairs in search of treasure and glory.  As I recall the only treasure found was a magic-user scroll with a spell from the Arduinian Age, mostly the poor deluded fools encountered brain-hungry zombies, rabid rats (one of which killed Philip's henchman) and several trapped doors.  The expedition ended prematurely when the dwarf Durgar narrowly avoided the gaze of a trio of medusae, who then proceeded to chase the party right out of the dungeon.

So if you encounter one or more snake-haired ladies on the grounds of the ruined castle, you know exactly who to blame.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

video time

Big thanks to Stuart over at Strange Magic for sharing this on the Google+.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wizardly Wednesday

My buddy Pat photoshopped a new face onto Gandalf to make me a photo of James of Dillington, the NPC wizard who has been seen skulking about the Caves of Myrddin. He used to look a lot more wrinkly, but Finn the Thief, a PC in my Wednesday night game, sold old James a Potion of Longevity. James is currently the guest of William of Crevan, the castellan of nearby Castle Bottreaux.  Staying at the Abbey guesthouse is for chump adventurers with no connections.

Monday, December 05, 2011

two from Google+

Since G+ is so ephemeral I thought I'd save a couple items here. First up, an idea of mine that a few folks seemed to like:

Today's stupid XP/class idea for old school D&D: Rearrange the XP bonus for stats so that a LOW stat gets you a bonus.

If you have a low Int, you get an XP bonus for playing a fighter.
If you have a low Str, you get an XP bonus for playing an MU.
If you have a low Dex, you get an XP bonus for playing a cleric.
If you have a low Wis, you get the bonus for playing a Thief.
You could use Cha for dwarves (all dwarves tend to act like Grumpy of Snow White fame) and Con for elves (elves have always struct me as slightly consumptive).

And here's a question I asked and the respones:

"If you dig Frank Frazetta then you should check out the work of ________"

Jeffrey Jones
The Brothers Hildebrandt
Boris Vallejo

Who else?

Answers: brom, Don Maitz, Julie Bell, Simon Bisley, Alex Ross, Mike Hoffman, M.W. Kaluta, William Stout, Roy Krenkel, Mark Schultz, Gary Gianni, Joe Jusko, kent williams, Sam Keith, Barry Windsor-smith, Cary Nord, Robert E. Howard :), Ken Kelly, Glenn Orbik, George Barr, virgil finlay?, Michael Whelan, Chris Achilleos, Don Lawrence, Frank Schoonover, Alex Raymond, Al Williamson, Wally Wood, Richard Corben, J. Allen St. John, Bob Guccione :-)

The Caves of Myrddin Thousand Yard Stare Club

Okay, so I've got 32 people on my player list for the Friday morning Caves of Myrddin game.  Each week I draw four names at random to get on Google+ and play.  So far 25 players have got a chance to play.  Most of those folks have played once, twice, maybe three times so far.  Here are all the people that have played more than that:

Blixa the Thief (Zak S) - 6 expeditions to the Caves
Hugo le Bâtard (Jeremy Duncan) - 5 expeditions
Philip of Luxembourg (Evan Van Elkins) - 4 expeditions
Pavel the Great (Mátyás Hartyándi) - 4 expeditions

Zak tops the list largely because he stays up late and is two time zones over, so if someone no-shows he's available whenever I broadcast the message "Need replacement player right now!"  The other three guys have just had the dice go their way when it came time to select players.  Actually being available for the play time also helps.  A couple of other people would be on this list, but they couldn't make one or two sessions when their number came up.

I'm bringing this up and identifying these guys because they all happen to be cool dudes. If you're going into my stinky little dungeons and want some clues on how to survive and thrive, these would be choice guys to hit up for advice.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Caves of Myrddin: fear the Vampire Lord of Crows

[The following was written by Evan of In Places Deep in a blatant attempt to cash in on his own Xp-for-session-reports houserule. Well it worked. Future explorers of the Caves of Myrddin may score +10% or 100xp, whichever is greater, for supplying a good summary of the session. N.B. I have made one edit to the following text, removing the italics. I hate it when gamefic is italicized.]
The following letter was found discarded next to an inebriated messenger boy.

My dearest Susan,

My return from Ireland has thus far been inauspicious, and I regret that my failing health will prevent me from visiting you in your bedchamber.  Since I was unable to bring you an treasures from the Emerald Isle, I thought I might win some more prizes from the ruins of Castle Dundagel.  Oh, how wrong I was.

In the company of one of your husband’s boorish knights, whom I hired to serve as my body guard, as well as two stout fellows and another fighting-man I headed out to the ruins of the castle.  Since the Dragon had been seen entering the southern tower, we elected to check the northern one to avoid its ire.  If only we had known what perils awaited us.  We explored the tower itself, which seemed rather non-descript aside from the presence of a coffin which I now believe must be the resting place of a vampire. 
While investigating the roof I was once again mocked by those hideous crows.  I managed to kill one, and I intended to turn it into one of those taxidermic displays you so love.  Now I cannot look at the thing after the horrors I saw in those dungeons!

After leading into the dungeon proper one of the dwarves abandoned us to die leaving us only with a cryptic warning to “watch out for cage traps.”  Would that I knew what he meant because it could not have been as terrible as what we experienced.  Exploring the chambers more, I found an area that looked familiar to me.  Just as I did, we were assailed by misty figures who soon materialized into vampires. 

Luckily, I had brought a large number of flasks filled with holy water.  These were quite effective against the creatures, but not before the most terrible of their number – a crow faced monstrosity whose terrible visage will haunt my dreams forevermore – raked me with his awful talons.  The shock of this still haunts me, and I find it difficult to remember the incantations that were once so easy for me to rattle off.

On the positive side, the mysterious power I learned in Ireland was of used to me as I used it to slay one of the vampires, which once was a woman.  While I have this small victory I am still gripped by the horrors of the things I witnessed.  I saw the crow-headed master of vampires burst into flame, but I know he still lives.
Incidentally, your husband’s stooge whom I had temporarily borrowed met his end in those tunnels.  I have included the sum of 600 solidi to make up for his loss.
Hopefully I will recover soon and be able to see you once again, my love.

Your snuggle-bear

Philip of Luxembourg

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Caves of Myrddin: holy crap, the dragon!

Oh, wait.  That's not the dragon. That's the sandworm that ate Finn the Thief's cook Jaan somewhere on the second level.

Here's the dragon.  Spotted flying not far from the Abbey and reportedly eating cattle from a nearby farm. To get a sense of scale, this beast is just the right size to squeeze down a standard 10' wide dungeon corridor.

And here's Finn the Thief and Vithujin the Elf after Vithujin picked a fight with the dragon. More info on that mess here.  Fortunately, they had bought life insurance for 1,000gp a piece. I really ought to start rolling a chance that the Bishop is away on business when you need a raise dead cast.

Also of note: reports of giant spider activity between the Chamber of the Roots and the entrance to the level with the goblin village.