Saturday is a day for playtesting

•May 7, 2010 • 2 Comments

Tomorrow is the playtest day for the adventure I am submitting to Chaosium’s 2010 adventure contest.  So far, the process is going fine but the deadline for the first draft version is approaching very soon. Little bit over 5000 words for now, I expect final version will be around 7000.

The story is set in the early 11th century in South-East Europe and could be easily described as medieval horror genre (there will be some amusing pagan ritual shit). The funny part is I have very little experience in BRP mechanics with just few played sessions of Call of Cthulhu.  I am not a total newbie  (since I am a huge fan of WFRP that also uses d100), but I will try to play my aces on the story element. We’ll see how will it end…

I am expecting five players to show up tomorrow, but since I am still waiting a respond from two of them, there is a good chance the party will be undermanned. The characters are made around specialist archetypes:  soldier/leader, diplomat/cleric/healer, scout, warrior/fodder etc. Lacking one of them could force me to wing my written material which is not something I am looking forward to. But as most of us learned from our early days in roleplaying – players are a chaotic and unpredictable bunch of cutthroats and vagabonds. Deal with it or leave it.

Anyway, I don’t have any solid ideas how to solve that;  I will probably try to call some friends to jump in or offer players leading two characters. Maybe the easiest way to solve it is to have few party’s NPCs but I am not very thrilled with that perspective.

Come back soon to find out how did it go…

Desktop Dungeons

•March 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Yesterday I was recommended to try short and quick  Roguelike game called Desktop Dungeons. After initial skepticism (my attention span for computer games fell drastic in last few years ) I was instantly hooked! And judging by feedback from other people I am not alone.

The premise of the game is incredibly simple. After picking up a race (human, elf, dwarf, gnome or halfling) and class  (fighter, wizard, thief or priest)  you start in a dungeon surrounded by black fog of war.  Moving around you encounter immobile monsters that you need to slay in order to progress yourself  to higher (more powerful) class levels. The main goal is to slay the Big boss, of course (I hope you didn’t expect anything else). If you achieve that you unlock extra shiny things, like new classes, monsters and items. Items  are consisted of potions (mana and health) and glyphs. Your character can pick up to three glyphs that give him special skills and spells, for example – first strike, fireball etc… When you’re fed up with specific glyph you can ditch it to gain space for a new one and to get extra bonus to your health, attack or mana (depending on your race). There are also altar of different gods in the dungeon that can give you additional bonuses if you decide to worship them. I especially like the detail when you need to denounce your former religion on the altar of that god if you want to change your faith. Of course, gods don’t like getting a basket so, in that case, you face a proper punishment for your sins.

The game is made by Rodain “Nandrew” Joubert and is currently available in 0.051 version, free download from QCF Design’s website.

In order to follow the good tradition of recommendation, I suggest you try it!

Clothes as flavor

•March 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Few days ago I borrowed the translated version of the book ‘Chronicle of Western Costumes’ by John Peacock from my local library. I didn’t really plan to borrowed but it got me thinking about the role of clothes in my games. Usually, the only time the PCs’ outfit is called for is on the beginning of the campaign when GM says: ”so you meet in the tavern, please describe your character to other players”. After that short and ephemer occasion whole empires can fall without any mentioning of PCs’ nickers or socks.

I think that’s really a shame, since clothes play a significant part of our everyday lives. And although I know most of you don’t have any interest in anything remotely ‘real-life’ while playing RPGs, I really do believe it can add interesting flavor to your games. For example, what is better of these two encounter’s description? A) You see a cleric of Pelor walking on the road towards you; B) You see a man dressed in simple white tunic with wide sleeves and grey canvas coat over it, he is wearing sandals and a sun symbol of Lathander hangs around his neck.

If you feel latter example is somewhat closer to your gaming style, then you should borrow and read this book. I’m sure it’s not the best book with that topic on the market, but it has its edges. Firstly, it covers a huge period of time: from ancient Egyptians and Romans to 80’s years of last century. So basically you can find inspiration for most RPG settings: medieval, fantasy, steampunk, Lovecraftian horror, spy games etc… Color illustrations are vivid enough to make your brain juices flow. The only remark I have with the book’s content is the lack of additional text that explains the background of the particular era’s fashion. You only get short descriptions of costumes which is pretty enough when you need some inspiration for your NPC, but it would be cool if all the story behind clothes has been expanded a bit. I really liked the bit from William Manchester’s book ‘A World Lit Only by Fire’ mentioning that during the Middle Ages clothes had a role of showing the wearer’s status. For example, only nobles had a right to wear fur and they consumed that right feverosly, even during the summer. Or the other fact about peasants who had skin diseases since they usually owned only one pair of rarely washed clothes. Yuck!

Those kind of obscure but bizarre info is something that could be easily used and adapted in your games. Don’t know about you, but for me  a sweaty, stinky noble in his precious furs makes an easily recognizable NPC.

Random Loot

•March 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Here’s a paintbursh picture I made sometime in 2005 for my ‘The Forest of the Horned Hunter’ DnD adventure, placed in the Silver Marches of Forgotten Realms setting.

It depicts a forested area in western side of Sundabar vale, where the story evolves. This is a draft version of the map and the only one I have, the starting town of Loseton is not marked.

Unfortunately, on the first playtest session (with other GM running it) things went very wrong and the adventure was never played to its end after that. Basically, the party’s vampire PC went on killing spree in Loseton and all hell broke loose. After burning half of the town, PCs somehow managed to escape danger and fell in some other unrelated encounter where they eventually met their demise. 🙂

Yeah, I always liked dark and gritty adventures. Life is cheap in the frontier as they say.

And as a special bonus here is an outtake from adventure, a gossip the PCs can hear during their visit in the local tavern ‘Dancing Hare’:

Evil grows in this forest. Some ancient power of hell has planted his cursed seed in forest’s womb. 30 years passed since then …today the spawn of that hellish force is grown and thirsty for human blood. Last month, three children disappeared in the embrace of the forest never to be heard for again. People are afraid and poor Lorick is just a new victim. We should burn the damn woods and evil in it before it swallow us all … But above all, we need to hang that old warlock, Evendur the Hermit. He is a servant of evil, he kidnapped our children.

The Lure of the Epicness

•March 3, 2010 • 2 Comments

I am not much of a crunch buff when speaking of RPGs. I like story driven adventures so that probably puts me somewhere in the fluff camp. When creating my new PC I tend to stick primary to his background and character (with flaws and quirks), so the rolls generally fall on the last place on priority list. Nevertheless, it always amuses me to see that different kind of players who enjoy minmaxing their little terminator demigods.

A group of players on a domestic fantasy forum, Eydis, (where I moderate a gaming section – Common Balkan language skill required, sorry) started playing an epic Pathfinder adventure with 25 level characters. One of the players with an epic munchkin status in our online circle, made this monster:

Race: Young Celestial Half-gold dragon, Storm giant, Were (horrid) Magebreed,  Woodling, dire tiger, beast of xvim, Lich (good)
Class: Monk 1, wizard 1, Shapeshifter 1, warshaper 1, Master of many forms 1, Nature’s warrior 4, hidecarved dragon 1

Cca 15 attacks per round, AC is around 94 and I am not sure how many hps he can have, but looks like a lot. Witnesses said he killed almost single handedely  a tarrasque that the party was send to kill for. Nice job, lad.  This is a pretty good example of the power of numbers and what a crunchy player with some extra time can make.

Funny, looking at all those templates and stats makes me wonder what is the story behind this character? How does he looks like? How did he become beast of Xvim and a good lich? Where did he get 1 level of wizard and monk? There is so much good stories this character could tell besides all those pimped stats.  I can’t escape my inclination towards fluff but I have to admit there is something viciously attractive to that epic level of (power)gaming. Some stories you just can’t make with your rusty sword and 5 coppers in your pocket. Some stories are made to be epic and legendary. Hmm, maybe I’ll try to make an epic undead, mutated, artificially and magically upgraded lorekeeping psy-bard 🙂

And you? Do you have any epic PC’s stories?

Drengmol Awaits!

•March 2, 2010 • 3 Comments

Last session I started a new, small home made Rogue Trader RPG adventure for ongoing campaign. I am changing the current GM who will play his character, Ahmed, a fresh archmilitant, ex Imperial guardsman. My character, a rogue trader named Karyl, will be in the background during this adventure, providing red herrings, hooks, and occasional fumbled assisting roll :).

The story goes like this: with some strange play of faith the party saves a mysterious psychic person from a well prepared ambush in Footfall. It shows that a person is a Squat and horribly tortured navigator, called Worloff. He posses the knowledge how to navigate to unknown system called Drengmol, situated somewhere in the depths of  Accursed Demesne, a subsector in the Koronus Expanse. Drengmol is shrouded in a veil of mystery, and Worloff will mention that it holds  an ancient and forgotten necropolis of the Eldar, loaded with precious gems and xeno technology.

But all is not that easy. Besides making proper preparation for expedition to Drengmol, party will face additional obstacles. Several other influential game factions (a fresh rogue trader family, an ex-general, a space pirate…) are also interested in Worloff and the party could easily  get in serious crossfire if they make few wrong moves.

Anyway, I plan to make a roleplaying intense adventure (in a i-will-trigger-my-WMDs-intense way) with a climatic action filled finale. The expected duration is around 3-4 sessions.

I will post some info as the adventure goes.

And how about you? Are there any rogue traders out there?

Read an RPG book in public week

•February 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Today starts the first day of ‘Read a RPG book in public week’ manifestation. For those of you who are not familiar with this terrific initiative, I beg to navigate your browsers to The Escapist’s blog.

I tend to participate starting of tomorrow, when I will pick a copy of Eberron Campaign setting and take it to my work. Since I need to ride 45 minutes with public transportation during the morning rush hour, I really hope I will make some passenger’s eyebrows go up.