Tuesday, July 31, 2012

quickie wandering monster tables for DCC RPG

Two things I like about the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG are its good supply of neat monsters and its radical devotion to random die charts.  Two things I don't like are its lack of wandering monster charts and the absence of an index.  Well, maybe there are some wandering monster charts somewhere in the book, but without an index, how the heck am I going to find them?  So I made some.  These creeps are sorted mainly by hit dice and most of the die ranges are my guesswork.

Level 1 (d14)
  1. 2d4 Acolytes
  2. d6 Bandits
  3. d6 Deep Ones or Subhumans
  4. Demon, Type I
  5. 2d4 Dimensional Sailors
  6. d6 Giant Ants (workers) or Giant Rats
  7. d12 Goblins or Kobolds
  8. d6 Hobgoblins or Gnolls
  9. d6 Lizardmen or Troglodytes
  10. d6 Orcs
  11. d20 Peasants
  12. Primeval Slime, 1 hd
  13. Serpent Man with d6 Subhuman servants
  14. d12 Skeletons
Level 2 (d20)
  1. d6 Bat Swarms (mundane)
  2. Bandit Hero with 2d6 Bandits
  3. d8 Berserkers
  4. d4 Cave Octopi
  5. d4 Colossal Leeches
  6. Demon, Type I
  7. Gargoyle
  8. Ghost
  9. d4 Ghouls
  10. d4 Giant Beetles
  11. d4 Hell Hounds
  12. d4 Hollow Men
  13. d6 Killer Bees
  14. Knight with 2d6 Men-At-Arms
  15. d4 Living Statues (crystal)
  16. d4 Man-Bats
  17. Primeval Slime, 2 hd
  18. d4 Serpent Men with 2d6 Subhumans
  19. d6 Shroommen
  20. d4 Vombis Leeches with d6 Vombis Zombies
Level 3 (d16)
  1. d4 Androids
  2. d6 Cave Crickets
  3. Cockatrice
  4. Demon, Type I
  5. Friar with 2d6 Acolytes
  6. d6 Giant Ants (soldier)
  7. d6 Giant Centipedes
  8. d4 Giant Cobras
  9. d4 Living Statues (stone)
  10. Lizard, Giant
  11. Magician with d6 Peasants
  12. d4 Owlbears
  13. Primeval Slime, 3 hd
  14. d4 Underdark Slugs
  15. Witch with d6 Servitors
  16. d12 Zombies
Level 4 (d10)
  1. d4 Bat Swarms, vampiric
  2. d6 Bugbears
  3. Demon, Type I or II
  4. d6 Insect Swarms
  5. d4 Living Statues (Iron)
  6. d4 Ogres
  7. Primeval Slime, 4 hd
  8. d6 Rat Swarms
  9. d4 Giant Vipers
  10. d4 Time Travellers
Level 5 (d16)
  1. Ape-Man (Giant or Four-Armed)
  2. Basilisk
  3. Brain Elder
  4. Chimera
  5. Cyclops or Giant
  6. Demon, Type I - VI
  7. Elemental
  8. d4 Giant Scorpions or Giant Boa Constrictors
  9. d4 Harpies
  10. Hydra
  11. Manticore
  12. Minotaur
  13. d4 Mummies
  14. Primeval Slime, 5 hd
  15. d4 Shadows
  16. d4 Trolls

I put Peasants on the first level chart under the assumption that the party could run into an NPC funnel group.

Given how often they come up, the GM should probably pre-generate some Type I Demons and Primeval Slimes.

Level 4 is kind of boring, isn't it?  It's like the calm before the storm of getting completely clobbered on Level 5.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Zzarchov Kowolski has his head on straight

Here's how I know that:
The Known Rule
NGR contains a large number of rules, and in the end it is not likely someone will have them all memorized.  The rules of this game are only applicable if someone involved actually knows the rule (or claims to).  If no party involved knows the rule then they obviously did not choose their course of action based on the mechanics.  In such a case, the GM should issue a ruling and move on.  You should never be looking up rules during play.  Doing so results in -1 awesomeness for a player or +1 awesomeness to all players if the GM looks up a rule (per occurrence).
--Neoclassical Geek Revival, page 4.

I don't know what the awesomeness mechanics are yet, but it doesn't really matter.  Whatever they are, that's a rock solid approach to D&D type gaming.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dig this

I've been remiss in not reporting this item sooner.  Starships & Spacemen second edition is a project from Goblinoid Games that takes a musty old sci-fi rpg and updates it to full compatibility with Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future.

In case you're new here: Labyrinth Lord is the retroclone closest to Basic/Expert D&D and if add in the Advanced Edition Companion it also emulates they way AD&D played when I was a stupid kid who didn't know you "couldn't" mix AD&D and BX.  Mutant Future is an almost-clone of Gamma World that more compatible with LL than Gamma World was with BX/AD&D.

Adding a full-blown sci-fi option to this scheme is pretty much my definition of rock solid awesomeness.

This project is already fully funded, so if you kick in five buck now you will be getting a PDF of this game.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I live for stupid crap like this

So last night at the Armored Gopher we were playing a third session of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.  The party was descending this big spiral staircase somewhere under the Tower of Zenopus when some stirges flew down and started harassing them.  Eustace the Bold uses a Mighty Deed of Arm (which I use as an ad lib stunt system, ignoring the details in the GM section) to swat one to the ground with his shield.  The beggar-thief and the cleric of Cthulhu try stomping on its head, but both roll miserably, bumping into each other in their haste to kill the prone bird-bat-mosquito thing.  On the next round the stirge gets up and attacks the cleric, rolling a crit.   I don't know if it was my idea or not, but I will totally take the blame for this next part: the cleric now has a stirge jammed in his crotch, sucking out his, and I quote, "dick blood".  The stirge in question is killed on the next round and gingerly removed from the area in question.

The proboscis-to-jimmy attack ended up only doing a single measly point of damage, but I doubt I'll ever forget that particular one point.  That cleric won't either, I reckon.

I was interviewed

Jennifer Steen interviewed me for one of her Jennisodes podcasts.  She was a lot of fun to talk to.  You can check the interview out here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

hybrid Chainmail/DCC spellcasting

Rolling dice to cast a spell goes back to Chainmail.  Here's the basic 2d6 chart:

2-5 Fail
6-7 Delay
8-12 Success

-1 for a first level spell, -2 for a second level spell, etc.

+1 caster level 1-2
+2 caster level 3-6
+3 caster level 7-8
+4 caster level 9-10
+5 caster level 11+

I may have that level chart slightly buggered up, as I'm doing it from memory.  A bunch of my gaming stuff is packed at the moment.  Also, note that the Delay category refers to the spell going off one Chainmail turn after the casting.  In my games I'd probably rule that the spell goes off the following round, provided nobody disrupts the casting in the meantime.

Anyway, even if you are a pretty strict Vancian adherent there's still lots of uses for a chart like this.  A moth eaten scroll with an incomplete spell.  Some joker with read magic trying to cast a high level spell directly out of a spell book.  Someone attempting to cast an Arduin spell that's rated a spell level beyond the scope of the rules you normally use.  Basically, any situation where the casting is less certain than normal conditions.

For DCC-style "you must roll for every spell" shenanigans, just add a "1 or less" category that sets off a spell fumble and an "oversuccess" result on a 13+.  While I don't mind making up spell fumbles and oversuccesses on the fly, a couple good rules of thumb for the latter might be in order.  Something like this:

  • Any spell with a variable based on caster level gains +1d6 levels.
  • Spells with no such variable double range, duration, etc as appropriate.
  • Magic Missile gains one bonus missile for each point over 12 rolled.

If you want caster Intelligence to figure into the roll, here's a chart for that:

Int 3: -2
Int 4-8: -1
Int 9-12: no modifier
Int 13-17: +1
Int 18: +2

These are the standard stat mods for BX D&D when applying a modifier to a d6 or 2d6 roll.  See Initiative Adjustment for Dex or Adjustment to Reaction for Charisma.

Monday, July 23, 2012

video blog

Nine days left in the fundraising period for my adventure.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pre-FLAILSNAILS cross-campaign logisitics

"When last winter'’s tedium was broken by the fun and games at WINTER FANTASY, I was scheduled for DMing continual adventures in Greyhawk Castle, and that is exactly what they turned out to be — continual. Not having the heart to cut them short, I ended up eating meals while play went on, and the games lasted from morning into the late hours of Saturday night, from early Sunday morning straight through until evening, and fatigue made me a bit silly. When the last party, which included several regulars in the campaign (Mark Ratner and Jim Ward each playing one of their player character henchmen, and Ernie Gygax playing the character another participant had abandoned when he or she had to leave for home), beat up a body of gnolls and slew their master, there was a scroll amidst the heap of booty. It was, of course, a curse scroll, and it was a curse which whisked all creatures off to another world. Jokingly, I said that there was a I in 10 chance that the curse would teleport them all to Jim’s starship, and when the die was tossed out what should come up but the stark single line of a 1! imagine the surprise which struck my weary countenance with a look of wonder. . . imagine the groans from the regulars! They didn'’t want to be stuck aboard Warden, not with precious henchmen aboard that deathtrap. But all six characters, along with three gnoll prisoners, were, in fact, exactly that. The whole party was gone from the ken of D&D-kind and off amongst the horrors of METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA.

"That took place in January, and the affair was not resolved until Jim Ward’s next visit to Lake Geneva in late March. Frantic letters and telephone calls from Mark Ratner were to no avail; determination of the fate of the nine intrepid creatures from Greyhawk could be resolved no sooner. Mark, being headquartered in New Jersey, was unavailable for play, so we had Brian Blume fill in for him. And instead of refereeing, yours truly was now a player, a pawn of the remorseless ShipMaster, James M. Ward."
That's the introduction to "Faceless Men & Clockwork Monsters" written by Uncle Gary and appearing in The Dragon #17, August 1978.  Dig this neato title/illo:

The rest of the article is a blow-by-blow of D&D types stuck on the Starship Warden.  Today I mostly wanted to point to out that Gary halted play the moment the party arrive in Jim Ward's campaign and the players had to wait two friggin' months to continue play with those characters.  Also note Mark Ratner's efforts to get something going before then.  A lot of successful D&D play comes from being motivated.  Bad die rolls and crappy rules are largely surmountable obstacles, so long as the players are dogged.

One other thing I thought would be neat to share is the roster and magical items of this crew:

Thurible of Roaky, Cleric 9 (Gary Gygax, who is demoted to player in Ward's game)
Dorag, Fighter 9 (Luke Gygax)
Hodkin Ap-A Wrd, Half-Elf F6/MU5
Neb Rentar, MU8 (Brian Blume)
Scrag Flatchet, Assassin 8 (party character)
Nivell, Fighter 8 (party character)
3 gnolls captured in a previous encounter

I'm guessing that by "party character" that means a pregen Gary whipped up for the con.  Here's the gear these guys had with them:
"In addition to a good selection of the usual gear typical of members of a dungeon expedition, there were the following noteworthy items: 
  • 1 gem of seeing
  • 1 fireball wand (97 charges)
  • 1 strange gem with 2 wishes contained within
  • 1 snake staff
  • 3 magic swords ( +3, +2 teleporting — with some other minor abilities, +1)
  • +2 hammer
  • +2 dagger
  • 2 suits of magic plate mail (+2, +l)
  • 2 magic shields ( +2, +1)
  • scroll of 6 sixth level magic-user spells (none too useful!)
  • scroll of 4 fourth level cleric spell 
  • 3 potions of healing. 
There was also an assortment of normal armor and arms, including 2 bows — one carried by a fighter, one being amongst the arms taken from the gnoll prisoners. Fortunately, there were also pack- ages of iron rations and skins of water, for the group spent much time in areas where there was no game, but I am getting ahead of the story."

Note that Ward rules that the wishing stone and teleporting sword would not get their owners out of this scrape.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reputed entrances to the Dungeons Below Wintoncester

A hole in an old Roman wall at the end of Crap Alley.  It's called Crap Alley because several houses along the south side of High Street are perched over it and anyone passing along the alley are in danger of sewage barrage.
Via the Chapel of St. Oswald in the Assassin's Guildhall.  Not that anyone knows where the Assassin's Guildhall is.
Beyond a triple-barred ironbound door in the cellar of the Wild Boar Tavern.  Old Bert, the proprietor, is said to allow usage of this doorway for a couple gold a head.
Through the torture chamber under Winton Castle.  This is one of the many rumored ways Empress Matilda escaped the siege of 1141.  Ask around, every gabber in the city has their own pet theory.
Under a hatch on the grounds of the Cathedral of St. Swithun.  The Cathedral is relatively new, the old cathedral was demolished to make way for it.  Rumor has it that the entrance to the catacombs are not encompassed by the new floorplan.
Down an ancient well, said to be in a small courtyard between a tavern and a blacksmithy.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Things you should know about Wintoncester

So I'm starting to gear up for a new Wessex-based D&D outing.  This time I'm going to set the game and the dungeon in/under Wintoncester, the biggest and oldest city on the map.  Here are some initial notes on the city.

  • No one knows how many people live there, even though everyone generally agrees Wintoncester is second only to London as far as English cities go.  When the Domesday Book was being prepared Wintoncester and its environs were one of the many places not included in the census.
  • There are no good maps of the place.  Non-natives should expect to be lost much of the time.  Even natives sometimes get lost in the maze of twisted streets, as the medieval and Roman streets are laid out in contradictory grids.  The problem is further exacerbated by by the unpleasantry of 1141 AD, when the forces of King Stephen and Empress Matilda fought within the city and much of it was burned down.  Rebuilding has been haphazard and without much central planning, while many blocks still feature one or more burned-out ruins.
  • The city has been continuously occupied going back to the Anglish, for whom it served as the capitol of the kingdom of Wessex, to the Romans, to the Belgae and the prehistoric Celts.  This being a D&D type campaign, all those people built tunnels of various sorts under the city.
  • The foremost lure for the adventurers are the underground Tombs of the Wessex Kings, where gold and magic await the daring.
  • One of the biggest buildings in the campaign is St. Swithun's Cathedral, right in the heart of the city.  The cathedral is the nominal headquarters of the ruler of the city, the Bishop of Winton, Henry of Blois.  Do not mess with this cat.  He is often call the King Without A Throne and is reputedly the richest man in England.  You don't achieve accolades like that by being a nice guy.
  • Wintoncester has services and institutions not found elsewhere on the campaign hexmap: a hospital, skilled craftsmen, an alchemist or two, a grumpy old sage, an Assassin's Guild and even a semi-secret order of magic-users one can attempt to join.  It's not quite Waterdeep or the Free City of Greyhawk, but for crapsack 12th century fake England it has a lot of possibilities.
  • There are nineteen different establishments that will sell you as many drinks as you can afford.

DCC fighter thoughts

So the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG gives the fighterly types this thing called an Attack Die.  At first level you get a d3 and it increases in die size as you advance.  You roll this die every time you make an attack, in addition to the standard to-hit roll.  The Attack Die roll has three functions:

1) You add the roll to your to-hit roll.  A 12 on the d20 and a 2 on the d3 means you actually rolled a 14 to-hit.  Note that the Attack Die completely replaces the fighter's Base Attack Bonus.  I.e. A 1st level warrior has a BAB of d3 rather than +1.

2) If your combined roll is a hit, you also get to add the same number rolled to the damage you do to the foe.

3) You can declare a Mighty Deed of Arms, which is basically the stunt system of the game.  If you hit and if you rolled a 3 or higher on your Attack Die, you also pull off your Mighty Deed.

There's a bit more to the Mighty Deed rules we can ignore here, but overall there's some neat stuff happening with these rules.  Clearly you could just bolt these rules directly onto other D&D type games with little difficulty.  In general anything that makes the fighter types feel fresh and interesting seems to be worth investigating further, I think these rules need a little tweaking.

First of all, I don't like the idea of asking someone in a Google+ game to roll a d3 all the dang time.  I can bring extra funky dice to my FLGS games, but I don't think it's fair to expect everyone online to own a d3 or d5 or whatever.  Yes, there are work-arounds such as rolling a d4 and re-rolling 4's or using one of the d6/2 methods, but that just seems clumsy when you are using that faux die with every dang to-hit roll.

Second, I'm not sure I like stunt systems any more.  I'd rather the players just declare awesome actions and we resolve them on the fly.  About the only thing I like about codified stunt rules is that there existence suggests to players that stunts are possible, but there are other ways to communicate that fact,

So here's my idea for adopting the Attack Die to baseline D&D:  Keep the normal to-hit progression for fighter types.  Disallow weapon specialization or any other stuff that would give additional bonuses to fighters.  Instead, all fighters get to roll a d6 with every to-hit roll.  If the roll comes up a 6 then they get either +6 to-hit or +6 damage but not both.  Call it a Mighty Strike or some similar nonsense and Bob's your uncle.

Yeah, a +6 modifier on either roll is pretty big and bad but keep in mind that there will be times when the d20 roll plus 6 will still be a miss.  You could use a d4 and get a 25% chance of +4 to-hit or damage instead of a ~16% chance of +6, but I hate rolling d4s.  Does anyone like those things?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dig this bad boy.

This is a modern replica of a 12th century 'bar' style mace fished out of the Thames.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wizardly Wednesday

Thanks to Jeremy Deram for this image!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More LotFP contest results: Pro-Am category

Nearly everybody being judged today did their best to tell me how they were really not a professional game artists, but the fact remains that their work was published somewhere prior to the contest.  I created a separate category for these folks to avoid scaring doodlers away from entering the competition, but that really worried some of the entrants here.  What can you do?  Anyway, check these out.
Doc Rotwang!, who totally needs to update his blog, got a laugh out of me here by riffing on Raggi's weird choice of picking a header font with old fashion long s.

Craig Brasco's work here is technically good and I'm as fond of hot dark-haired sorceresses as the next het dude, but from an art direction point of view I just don't see the connection between the text and the illo.  Great pic, but I wouldn't put it on this particular page.

Felipe Budinich's tromp l'oeil approach is a great break from stock fantasy art and the execution is great, too.  Like the witchy gal above, the connection to choosing a name for your PC is a little obscure, unless Felipe is attempting to comment on the strange metafictional nature of RPG characters.  Whether there's a message here or not, I'd love to see a whole game illustrated this way.

This submission from Wille Ruotsalainen leaves me doubly frustrated.  I want to see the whole illo free of the text and I sure as hell want the text without the illo under it.

Here's another one from Wille.  I like both pics.  Fantasy RPGs need both more princesses in pointy hats and more samurai throwing down with bigass apes.  And I love the choice of a swan on the tabard of the fallen knight.  The discarded helm is a nice touch as well.  The only thing I don't like is that there are two separate illos side-by-side.  If I was the publisher and Wille was hired for art on this page I'd want a redo combining the two pictures.

I love, love, love Jennifer Weigel's pic bugs crawling all over this page.  They remind me of this old Homestar Runner cartoon.  But I hate, hate, hate the idea of covering up the text.

This other Jennifer Weigel illo is just about the best thing ever.  It nicely illustrates one of the spells on the page as well as winking towards Call of Cthulhu.  Cutesifying Cthulhu has gotten really played out in the last decade or so, but Jennifer brings a freshness to the subject that I find irresistible.  And that's why she gets the blue ribbon for this category.

Congratulations Jennifer!  Send me an email with your mailing address and your choice of whether you want the Minibox of Mystery or the Preposterous Miscellaneous as your prize.

The Ten Rings of Qwaar the Axiomatic

These ten enchanted bands are much sought by arcane masters.  Each golden Ring of Qwaar has two functions, the greater of which requiring great wizardly skill to activate.

  1. Ring of Ice - Identifiable by eight small, oblong white stones. - Lesser power: Ice Blast, 3d6 damage, 30' range, 3/day - Greater power (MU 5+): Summon Ice Elemental, 8 HD, who remain and obey wearer for 2d6 turns, 1/day
  2. Ring of Mento-Intensification - One princess cut (square) pale blue stone - Lesser power: Charm Person (old 'no further save' version), 10' range, 1/week - Greater power (MU 3+): Full telepathic contact with Charmed victims at will
  3. Ring of Lightning - One oblong green stone mounted diagonally - Lesser power: Shocking Grasp, 3/day - Greater power (MU 4+): Lightning Bolt, 6d6 damage, 1/day
  4. Ring of Flame - Four oblong red stones - Lesser power: Burning Hands, 3/day - Greater power (MU 3+): Fireball, 6d6 damage, 1/day
  5. Ring of Light - Two small white stones - Lesser power: Light, 3/day - Greater power (MU 1+): Turn Undead as cleric of your same level, 1/day
  6. Ring of Darkness - Eight tiny blue stones - Lesser power: Darkness which wearer can see as if illumined by light, 3/day - Greater power (MU 6+): Summon 2d6 Shadows, who remain and obey wearer for 2d6 turns, 1/day
  7. Ring of Destruction - One square orange stone - Lesser power: Shatter any object the size of door/barrel/etc or smaller, 3/day, magic items allowed save - Greater power (MU 1+): Disintegration, 1/day
  8. Ring of the Vortex - One small blue stone - Lesser power: Floating disc sustain by tiny whirlwind, 3/day - Greater power (MU4+): Whirlwind as per a djinni, 1/day
  9. Ring of Invisible Force - One purple stone cut in the shape of a five-pointed star - Lesser power: unseen servant, 3/day - Greater power (MU 6+): Flamestrike erupts from inside foe, 1/day
  10. Ring of Alchemic Power - One small pink stone - Lesser power: Turn any metal into any other known metal, up to 10 coin weight, 3/day - Greater power (MU 6+): Turn anything of user's mass or less into anything else of user's mass or less, 1/day

Note that none of the Ten Ring of Qwaar the Axiomatic function if the wearer is employing any other type of magic ring, but that all ten Rings of Qwaar will function together just fine.
A rumor among certain sages indicates that the possessor of all ten rings may access the Secret Ultimate Power of Qwaar, but that's probably just scholars conflating the rings with the Rod of Seven Parts.

Monday, July 09, 2012

More LotFP Reskin Contest Results

When I thunked up this contest I included a category for art appropriated from other sources so the non-drawing inclined could join in.  But I only got one entry, so hail the winner, my buddy Kirk.  Let's check out his submissions:
Calling attention to the airship lurking in the vehicle price list is a great idea.  Raise your hand if you missed that LotFP included airships as a canonical mode of transport?  I missed it.

If you're going to swipe your art, choosing a fun source like the Order of the Stick is aces in my book.

So, Kirk, congratulations on your victory by default, Heinz Doofensmirtz's favorite kind of victory.  Since Jonas selected the Boxed Set Bonanza, you may pick from one of the following grab bag prizes:

The Hardbound Hoard
The Minibox of Mystery
The Preposterous Miscellaneous

Pick one and I'll bring it to Wednesday night's game.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Wizards as Holmes Basic monsters

I woke up this morning thinking it might be neat to imagine what wizards might have looked like if they were written up as a foe in the monster section of the Holmes edit of D&D.  Here's what I came up with.


Move: 120 feet/turn     Alignment: variable
Hit Dice: 4     Attacks: 1
Armor Class: 5     Damage: 1-6 points
Treasure Type: E, S, T

Wizards are semi-human spellcasters whose abilities exceed that of normal magic-users.  They have 2d4 first level and d6 second level spells available to them, as well as d4 strange powers beyond the normal spell rules.  50% of all wizards have some sort of aberrant appearance that reveals their inhuman nature.  Most wizards have d6 unusual minions, such as demonic imps, a hunchback, robots, a super-intelligent horse, etc. 

Why do wizards have AC 5?  Because they're wizards.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Behold, Ragnar!

This delightful drawing, by Adam Thornton, should have been party of Wednesday's judging but got caught in the spam folder.  Sorry Adam!

To avoid this problem coming up in the other categories, you might want to send me a follow-up email if your name does not appear on this list: Kirk Hess, Craig Brasco, Felipe Budinich, Jennifer Weigel,   Will Routsalainen, Michael Brough, Brett, Scrap Pruncess.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Broodmother Sky Fortress videoblog

If what I'm saying here makes sense, please consider pledging for the Broodmother Sky Fortress crowdsourcing campaign.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

LotFP art contest judging, part 1

Okay, time to "judge like apes!" as Milk & Cheese once said.  I challenged readers to grab the totally free no-art version of the main Lamentations of the Flame Princess rulebook (available here) and fill in the blanks with less gore-tastic art.  Or at least differently gore-tastic art.  Today we'll look at the first category, original art by total amateurs.  A couple of entrants might be cross with me because I pushed them into the judging Pro-Am category, but come on, suck it up.

Anywhere, check out some art.  Click to embiggen.

First up is Tim Schaeffer.  What appear to be Sathar (from Star Frontiers) dissecting humans is a great choice of subject matter for the "Is the Character Suitable?" section.  It fits in well with the general grimdark horrorcore tone of the actual LotFP art, which is kind of the opposite of what I was looking for in this contest.  The examining table on the left looks a bit like a lobster tail, which I can't decide if I like or not but I'm pretty sure wasn't intentional.  Also, why are those dudes wearing underwear?  Either this is a soulless inhuman dissection room or not.  For the integrity of the scene those dudes' johnsons should really be on display.

Paul of Blog of Holding did great work here.  A British imperialist and a Japanese imperialist meeting makes a great illo for the languages section.  You know some shit is gonna go down there.  And the illo in the lower right corner is a great concept.  I love the dude with the map taped to the inside of his shield!  I think some of the shading got a little out of control though, as it looks to me like the area around the torchbearer's hand should be lit at least as much as the map.

The last entry in this category is from Jonas Mustonen and I am eating this cartoony style up.  Simple lines suggest so much here.  And look how just some exclamation marks and frowny faces show so much expression on those monsters.  And that stop sign cracks me up.  The other two entries are very entertaining, but I have to give the award to Jonas.

Jonas, you get your pick of one of the following boxes of game stuff:

The Boxed Set Bonanza
The Hardbound Hoard

The Minibox of Mystery
The Preposterous Miscellaneous

Shoot me your preference and your mailing address and I'll try to get to the post office by the end of the week.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Jeff salutes: Graham Staplehurst

I don't really know anything about Graham Staplehurst other than his credits: Robin Hood (the Rolemaster/HERO sourcebook), Angmar, Minis Tirith, Phantom of the Northern Marshes, Gates of Mordor, as well as White Dwarf articles stretching from #18 to #93, including all of these MERP articles:

Issue #64 - "The Dawn of Unlight: A MERP/AD&D Scenario in the Forest of Mirkwood"
Issue #73 - "Star Spray" - another MERP/AD&D dual stat
Issue #77 - "A Secret Wish: An Adventure for MERP and D&D"
Issue #79 - "Where and Back Again? Or, Starting a Middle-earth Campaign"
Issue #87 - "Taurëfantô" - also MERP, set in Mirkwood
Issue #89 - "On Ealden Byrgen" - actually a Robin Hood adventure
Issue #93 - "Letters From A Foreign Land: Multi-System Adventure for 3-5 PCs"  Purportedly statted up for WFRP, MERP and Call of Cthulhu!

Back in the day I got Robin Hood when it first came out.  I recall thinking it was pretty dang good, but without orcs and wizards I didn't see much reason to run it for my game group.  I think that's the big problem with medieval historical games in this hobby: they can feel like D&D Minus.  Still, Mr. Staplehurst did great work with the material.

I've got two of his White Dwarf adventures, "The Dawn of Unlight" and "Star Spray" and I think they are pretty excellent.  Each takes an incident in the Silmarillion and explores its ramifications in the age of Bilbo Baggins, giving a real epic turn to the PCs activities.  Another virtue of both is that they're short, maybe 3 or 4 pages each, but easily expandable into large arcs with suggestions how to do so.  And in "Star Spray" there's a side quest where you try to capture a live wooly mammoth for a circus.  How sweet is that?  The only thing that may annoy some is that there's a little bit of the Big Important NPCs The Players Are Supposed To Watch In Awe, but they all have stats so if the party really wants to backstab them they can.

Any other Graham Staplehurst fans out there?  How are his full-blown MERP modules?

Additional: While researching Mr. Staplehurst I came across a MERP article in White Dwarf written by someone else.  Martin Veart's "Up and Coming: A Look at Levels in Middle-Earth Role-Playing" in issue #80 sounds intriguing.  With MERP rating a typical orc warrior as level 3 to 5, I've always wanted to see an explanation for what a first level adventurer represents.  Are you a kid at first level?  I remember one MERP session where our entire party was routed by a single grumpy orc.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Jim Raggi is the craziest

I swear to Grodd, every time I hear of Jim Raggi's lastest scheme for his Lamentations of the Flame Princess publishing outfit I think to myself "dude's finally gone off his rocker".  A boxed set RPG in this day and age?  Publishing suicide.  Update Carcosa as a flashy hardbound?  Who needs a deluxe version of a niche little weirdo product like that?  Crowdsourcing a hardbound version of the LotFP main rulebook?  Who the hell is going to kick in on that?  (Me and several other people, it turns out.)

Hell, just starting a new game company is a pretty crazy ass thing to do, much less "Hey, I don't really speak the local language, but I think I'll start a publishing outfit in Finland anyway."  It's like he's always charging headfirst into some wall but instead of hitting it and crumpling, he leave's a Raggi-shaped hole as he smashes through.  He continues to give the one-finger salute to the haters who want him to fail.

Raggi's plan for the month of July is to crowdsource nineteen different modules from nineteen different authors with nineteen different artists assigned to the project and then shepherd to publication all the individual products that get funded.  Madness.  If anyone but Jim Raggi proposed it, I would say it was an impossibly stupid thing to try, but clearly the man has an established track record of making awesome things happen.

Below is a list of all the people involved, with links to their individual campaigns.  You can see how the funding is going for all the individual projects by checking out this page.

Escaping Leviathan by Aeron Alfrey
The Seclusium of Orphone by Vincent Baker (art by Cynthia Sheppard)
Strange and Sinister Shores by Johnathan Bingham
Towers Two by Dave Brockie
The Unbegotten Citadel by Monte Cook (art by Eric Lofgren)
The House of Bone and Amber by Kevin Crawford (art by Earl Geier)
Of Unknown Provenance by Michael Curtis (art by Amos Orion Sterns)
Machinations of the Space Princess by James Desborough (art by Satine Phoenix)
Horror Among Thieves by Kelvin Green
We Who Are Lost by Anna Kreider
The Land that Exuded Evil by Cynthia Celeste Miller (art by Rowena Aitken)
Pyre by Richard Pett (art by Michael Syrigos)
I Hate Myself for What I Must Do by Mike Pohjola (art by Joel Sammallahti)
Broodmother Sky Fortress by Jeff Rients (art by Stuart Robertson)
Normal for Norfolk by Juhani Seppälä (art by Rich Longmore)
Poor Blighters by Jeff and Joel Sparks (art by Mark Allen)
The Depths of Paranoia by Jennifer Steen (art by Jason Rainville)
Red in Beak and Claw by Jukka Särkijärvi (art by Jason Rainville)
The Dreaming Plague by Ville "Burger" Vuorela (art by Juha Makkonen)

There's a lot to take in here: Michael Curtis, author of Stonehell and The Dungeon Alphabet; Cynthia Celeste Miller, who will always have a place in my heart for writing d12-based RPG rules; Vincent Baker, of Dogs in the Vinyard and Poison'd fame but who I always think of as the guy who wrote kill puppies for satanJames Desborough, who featured heavily in the latest internet ragefest I got sucked into on Google+; Mike Pohjola, author of the Turku Manifesto; and Dave frickin' Brockie, a.k.a. Oderus Urungus of GWAR!  Hot damn!

And I'm on this list, too, with cool guy Stuart Robertson suckered into doing art for my project.  My module is called Broodmother Sky Fortress.  Titles for projects are not my strong suit (hence Jeff's Gameblog, one of the least interesting titles ever), so I have to give Mr. Raggi credit for helping me tighten up the name of the adventure.  I would have gone with an X of the Y Z sort of arrangement.  He suggested that was played out and that of all the possible title ideas I pitched him the words Broodmother and Sky Fortress were the strongest.  Here's the elevator pitch for the adventure:
You know what your crapsack campaign world needs? Giants made out of sharks and elephants, lurking in a haunted house in the clouds, ready to jump out of cyclopean shadows and murder your PCs right in their stupid faces.
So over the course of the next couple weeks I'll be talking about the basic concept behind Broodmother Sky Fortress, what I'm trying to accomplish, some old modules that got me thinking along those lines and why Stuart Robertson is a kickass choice for the illustrator this adventure.  I'm told video clips make for better crowdfunding campaigns, so expect a few videoblog entries.

In the meantime, if you are already onboard with Broodmother Sky Fortress, please go pledge.