Friday, 30 April 2010

Art on Friday - Andree Wallin

Well, it's Friday and fear not, art fans - I've not forgotten you. We're back in Sweden today, for another glut of super artwork that I've managed to track down on the net. Quite a lot of it is either sci-fi or post-apocalyptic but there are a couple of nice landscapes in there for the fantasy brigade.

There is a whole lot more on his site, so nip over and check it out. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy.

I'm off to see who wins out of Conan and Fafhrd - it'll be a tough match so be sure to tune in tomorrow evening to see it happen. Some interesting posts due next week as well - I've been very busy with RL, but am trying to fit some game-related (and useful, I hope) stuff in.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Halfway to 90

The more eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted that today, I've changed my profile to read 45, rather than 44. Yes, the earth turns, the seasons move on, the days get longer and now the anniversary of my birth sneaks up (making its Move Silently roll) and slugs me over the back of the head.

I'm certain that I'm not the oldest blogger on the OSR and it is heartening to note that there are a good many younger bloggers about, in some cases much younger. Whilst there is a wealth of experience and memories at what I shall call the grey end of the spectrum, the excitement, exuberance and freshness of approach of our younger members keeps me and I suspect many others on their toes.

I may have the chance of expanding my player group to welcome another young person soon. Nothing makes me review and reassess my approach and outlook like having to teach somebody from scratch something that I know so well. A child's enquiring mind and lack of guile forces me to question the way that I do things and the question "Why?" is the chisel that chips the barnacles off. And it brings back memories of being young (albeit not quite that young) and discovering D&D for the first time.

Being a member of the OSR community is a surefire antidote to vegetating into routine. There's always something new on the blogroll. I follow more than 140 blogs at present (check them out on the right) and I don't have the time to do justice to every one. But I try; it's informative, entertaining and sometimes downright provocative.

And reams and reams of new gaming material. That's like having a birthday every day.

Thanks guys!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Miniatures Monday - The Three Goblin Stooges

Citadel Miniatures always designed to give the figures personality. That's what we've got today. I set the arrangement up randomly but to me, the central figure definitely says "Boss". His henchmen on either side are geared up for some action but he's doing the goblin equivalent of the Haka.

In my opinion, too little is made of that sort of thing - the psychological aspects of combat that would surely go on amongst humanoids. All too often, goblins, kobolds and even orcs are just regarded as excuses to get the swords wet, whereas they would probably have evolved rituals, gestures and insults to precede a fight and try to freak out their enemies. Most minor humanoids wouldn't know that in a very few minutes, they're going to be new entries on the fighter's kill list; as far as they're concerned, here are new enemies that need showing, in a typically goblin way, just what they've got themselves into.

I did have my doubts to begin with about the solid red for the eyes, but looking at it again, it occurred to me that when we take photos with flash, the eyes often look red anyway, and this shot might well represent cave dwellers snapped in a moment of illumination. Depending on how you reckon infravision works, it may well be that there are more blood vessels in the eyes of dark-dwellers and this may well increase the amount of redness when light falls on the back of the eye.

And speaking of dark-dwellers, next Monday, we welcome the return of something that just loves the darkness...

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Saturday Night Fight Club - Conan v Red Sonja

As you can see, my time-travelling experiment to get the Marvel Comics illustrators to do me a SNFC special was successful.

Thanks to Old 4 Eyes for getting me the stats for these two stalwarts of sword-slicing action.

So now without further ado, let's meet the contestants!

Red Sonja

Fighter level 11 THAC0 10 so to hit Conan, she needs a 5 or better

3 attacks every two rounds. I’ll rule that she gets 1 on round 1, 2 on round 2, 1 on round 3 etc.

S 14
I 17
W 10
D 17 +2 reaction bonus, -3 to AC
C 11
Ch 18

HP 75

Broadsword (2-8 damage), dagger (1-4 damage), leather armour (well, chainmail bikini) Base AC 8 less DEX bonus = 5.

I won't be reducing his movement rate based on the fact that he has a woman stuck to his leg.

S 18/90
I 14
W 10
D 18 +3 reaction, -4 AC adjustment
C 18
Ch 17

Fighter level 13 THAC0 8 so to hit Sonja he needs a 3 or better.

Two attacks per round. I’ll rule that he gets the second attack in at the end of the round.

Thief level 7

HP 100

Leather armour (well, loincloth, anyway) (base AC8, less DEX bonus = 4) , broadsword (2-8) , dagger (1-4)

To make it a bit more pulpy, I’m going to rule that when one of the contenders drops to 10% of their starting hit points, they will yield to the other.

There’s going to be a lot of blood flying around tonight. I wonder how many rounds it’s going to last.

Okay, or should I say, by Crom, round 1

Conan rolls a 5, Sonja a 1. Their dexterity adjustments turn those into an 8 and a 3 respectively.

Conan, with an eager grin, aims his first blow but Sonja’s skills are legendary for a reason and she brings her sword in to parry the Cimmerian’s blow. Any other swordsman’s attack would fail but Conan is far from ordinary and he slips by her defence, slashing a long red line across her flesh for 3 damage. Her smile flashes as bright as her hair and with a roll of 15, returns the favour. Conan grunts with pain as her blade cuts into him for 7 damage. By Crom and Mitra, this lass is good!

Conan’s second attack reminds Sonja that this is an opponent of terrifying skill and power – he rolls a 10 and with damage of 6, that chainmail bikini is doing little to fend off Cimmerian steel.

End of round 1 and Conan is on 93, Sonja on 66

Round 2, and both combatants are at each other like tigers, their attacks landing at exactly the same time. They twist and turn in the air, each moving the sword like a dancer, the air parting before their blades.

Sonja gets a 9, Conan a 14. Yet for all their skill, their swords have hardly bitten at all; Conan manages a scratch with 2, whilst Sonja’s blade barely grazes the barbarian with 3 damage. Again, they come at each other, again their swords sing in the air; as they turn and land, cat-like, taut and expectant of the next attack, it can be seen that both are hit; Sonja scores a hit with 8, Conan gets the same score. Their damage scores are the same, 6 apiece.

End of round 2 and the sands of the arena are spotted with blood, scuffed with the panther-like movements of these two worthy opponents.

Conan is on 84, Sonja on 58, but the feisty she-devil with a sword seems to relish the damage, from the look in her far from downhearted eyes.

Round 3. Both combatants come hurtling in a whirlwind of steel and sweat; Sonja knows she only has one attack this round and has to make it count and fast – with 5, brought up to 7 with her DEX bonus, she thinks she has the edge. Conan rolls a 3 and even with his cat-like reactions, can’t quite beat the Hyrkanian hellcat to the first blow. Alas, as the sword slices down towards him, Conan twists his body to one side and the blade cuts deep into the sand. A 2 is not the roll that Sonja wanted at this point of the game. Conan turns and strikes at the swordswoman but surely some grit must have got into his eye – she is not where his sword slices. He too has rolled a 2. Crom! What deviltry is this?

No matter, for as she scrambles to her feet to carry on the fight, the Cimmerian’s sword swings and lays her a vicious blow – 8 points of damage leaves her reeling in pain.

End of round 3 – where does that leave our battlers?

Conan ends the round with 84, where he started, whilst Sonja is on 50. She’s lost a third of her hit points whilst he seems barely to notice the 16 damage that his mighty frame has sustained.

Round 4 – both Sonja and Conan roll 4 for their reaction but Conan’s body, honed by many long years of battle and hardship has the edge and he strikes first. He lunges with his sword and Sonja desperately tries to dodge the attack but fails – another wound on her lithe frame and 4 damage to this redoubtable but embattled warrior. Just to make sure that the mighty Conan does not get too cocksure, she slips under his guard with her broadsword and he cries out in pain as the blade cuts deep into him for a telling 8 damage. Her sweat-glistened grin fails to hide the tiredness and pain that she is feeling but it’s there nonetheless.

Conan replies with an overpowering attack that Sonja cannot dodge but she scores a hit of her own. A 14 and an 11 respectively and the d20 is getting into the swing of things. Did I mention that it’s red? Conan inflicts 5 damage, as does Sonja.

End of round 4 – Conan is on 71, whilst Sonja is still standing, but on 41. The heat of the sun and the punishment that this heroine is taking have visible effects now; her fiery mane hangs limp and damp and her body is covered in spatters of blood and sword cuts.

Round 5 – Sonja’s reactions are slower now; she rolls a 2 (adjusted to 4) compared to the Cimmerian’s 6 (upped to 9). Her eyes betray the realisation that she may not win this one, except the gods look kindly upon her. But unless her god is an icosahedron with the hue of a blood-red ruby, her prayers may go unanswered.

Conan’s attack is a masterstroke, shunting aside her parry and knocking her back onto one foot but somehow, she seems to have turned the blow at the last minute, for she only takes 3 damage. Wrong-footed, she flails with her sword and Conan effortlessly dodges her blow. Is he laughing at her or grimacing with some unseen discomfort? It is of little matter for as Sonja tries to evade the barbarian’s second attack, he catches her with the edge of the blade. She falls, rolls, is on her feet again, having only taken 2 damage

End of round 5 – Conan is now on 71, untouched by that round’s attacks, whilst Sonja is real trouble with 36.

Round 6 – both fighters have two attacks this round. Sonja needs to make hers count. But again, she is too slow – a 2 compared to Conan’s 5. Even her light-footedness can help her little now. Conan strikes, so quickly that only the keen-eyed can see how he did it. Sonja came so close to parrying the blow but Conan somehow brought his sword in and under her guard and this time it will cost her. 7 damage; can the doughty Hyrkanian sustain this sort of punishment?

She strikes back, her sword keen and true; Conan snarls in pain as her blade slices deep into his taut body for a hefty 8 damage. Both fighters edge around each other, waiting for the other to make the first mistake. The swords flash in the sun and both strike home, yet Sonja’s is the better blow, an 18 to Conan’s 9 and 6 damage to his five.

End of round 6; Conan is on 57, but gallant Sonja languishes on 24. The end of this combat cannot be long in coming but Conan gazes on his opponent with a respect born of the heat of battle.

Round 7 – both fighters roll a 1; Conan’s speed with the blade tells and he strikes first, a heavy blow that knocks Sonja’s parry aside, a lighter wound but in her tired and weakened state, it may be all he needs. 3 damage – small but at this stage, all too dangerous. She retaliates and with what strength remains, gives the barbarian another reason to respect her – 6 damage to his already battered frame. But as she turns, blade slick with blood, his own sword slices through air, skin and flesh, 5 damage to a body that has so little left to give.

End of round 7 – now Conan is on 51, down to half his hit points, but Sonja, battered and bloodied, is on 16.

Round 8 – again, the d6 speak as with one voice; both Conan and Sonja roll 3 – Conan, hewn of barbarian stone, refined in the fires of a hundred battles and more, gets the first attack in. Yet Sonja is making him work for his victory – he rolls a 3, barely enough to touch her. The damage his sword does is almost enough to bring her to her knees – but not quite; a 5. Her attack bites home, doing 4 damage. Their swords dance in the air, each wary of the other’s steely brightness. Both seek the gaps in the dance, both dart forward, both hit. Sonja, with her last gasp, makes Conan pay for his triumph with a stinging 7 damage. Conan is almost reluctant to wound her again, yet he does so and finally, taking another 5 damage, she falls to her knees, the sword drops ringing onto the sand.

At the end of round 8, Conan has 40 hit points left, and Sonja crouches before him, on 6.

“You fought well, lass” Conan says, pointing his sword away “By Crom, I swear I’ll not take your life today”

Now, I expect that everyone out there is saying to themselves "Hey, wait a minute, where are the To Hit and Damage bonuses for Conan's amazing strength. Doesn't the PHB give +2 and +4 respectively for STR 18/90?"

Well, if you weren't saying that, you are now. Truth is that I got so carried away with the full-on experience of writing this combat up that I just plain forgot to factor them in. Having finished the write-up and been fairly satisfied with it, I spotted the omission and went back to the beginning to rework it. And do you know what? I don't think it improved the fight. If anyone is interested, with the bonuses factored in, Conan beat poor Sonja into submission in a little over four rounds. Not what lovers of heroic and epic battles want to see. So I'm leaving it as it was originally. I think it reads better.

Anyway, that's tonight's combat over and done with. What's coming up next week? Well, now I have the stats, I thought that Conan might continue his wanderings, ending up next time in....


Friday, 23 April 2010

Happy St George's Day

"I rode out on a bright May morning
Like a hero in a song
Looking for a place called England
Trying to find where I belong
Couldn't find the old flood meadow
Or the house that I once knew
No trace of the little river
Or the garden where I grew

I saw town and I saw country
Motorway and sink estate
Rich man in his rolling acres
Poor man still outside the gate
Retail park and burger kingdom
Prairie field and factory farm
Run by men who think that England's
Only a place to park their car

But as the train pulled from the station
Through the wastelands of despair
From the corner of my eye
A brightness filled the filthy air
Someone's grown a patch of sunflowers
Though the soil is sooty black
Marigolds and a few tomatoes
Right beside the railway track

Down behind the terraced houses
In between the concrete towers
Compost heaps and scarlet runners
Secret gardens full of flowers
Meeta grows the scent of roses
Right beneath the big jet's path
Bid a fortune for her garden
Eileen turns away and laughs

So rise up George and wake up Arthur
Time to rouse out from your sleep
Deck the horse in the sea-green ribbons
Drag the old sword from the deep
Hold the line for Dave and Daniel
As they tunnel through the clay
While the oak in all its glory
Soaks up sun for one more day

And come all you at home with freedom
Whatever the land that gave you birth
There's room for you both root and branch
As long as you love the English earth
Room for vole and room for orchid
Room for all to grow and thrive
Just less room for the fat landowner
On his arse in his four-wheel drive

England is not flag or Empire
It is not money it is not blood
It's limestone gorge and granite fell
It's Wealden clay and Severn mud
It's blackbird singing from the may-tree
Lark ascending through the scales
Robin watching from your spade
And English earth beneath your nails

So here's two cheers for a place called England
Badly used but not yet dead
A Mr. Harding sort of England
Hanging in there by a thread
Here's two cheers for the crazy Diggers
Now their hour shall come around
We can plant the seed they saved us
Common wealth and common ground"

Maggie Holland 1999

Art on Friday

Greetings, and firstly apologies for not having been more prolific this week with the posts. I have had some interesting ideas but I'm notoriously over-critical of my own stuff and I haven't been able to convince myself that they're blogworthy. Maybe next week.

Anyway, on to the business of the day. Art. Have I found any? Hoo-boy, you bet I have. Today's artist is a games illustrator and fellow Brit, Pete Amachree. He turns out some pretty cool stuff, much of which can certainly spark an idea or two in a DM's mind. I found quite often - back when I was a much younger Grognard - that the images on the covers of the old White Dwarfs (that's before issue 70 or so) would get my mind thinking 'How can I use that in a dungeon?'. I hope these pictures set off something similar.

Temple of the Medusa - now come on, who's just written the entire dungeon in their mind?

Who knows what lies beyond the Gate?

You want post-apocalyptic art? We've got that.

More post-apocalyptic here. What weird mutants lurk in the water?

It's bleak, it's icy, you bet it will do nicely, Giant Hall, Giant Hall...

If you go down to the woods today...

Clash of the Titans? Pah! Now this is epic...

Well, I'm just off to roll some dice for SNFC which, with any luck will be up tomorrow. Sunday may well see me getting some gaming in with Junior Grognard, off across the river again in search of treasure (it's about time they actually found some!)

Monday, 19 April 2010

Miniatures Monday - Elric, is that you?

Not sure what it is about this figure that made me think of Elric. He's got long white hair but that sword isn't Stormbringer and the figure is just a bit too muscular and beefy to be the doomed Melnibonean prince. Still, its raised face and ghastly expression - as if he's calling out to some infernal deity - somehow makes the sickly green complexion and the white eyes with a tint of red all the more appropriate. The armour, which to me has a mediaeval authenticity, again benefits from Andy's excellent metal painting techniques with what appears to be dent damage around the shoulder guards.

In fact, with the foregoing in mind, I have just thought that this figure would make an excellent anti-paladin. I've never come across them but I suspect that if I did, this is what one would look like. A sort of Sith Lord of D&D.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Where can I get...

...a D&D t-shirt that doesn't have an in-joke that only gamers will understand? I want one that just says D&D or something very similar. And doesn't make me look like a dork (I can do that just fine by myself). All part of my Reach out and Recruit strategy, raising our profile, etc.

Any ideas?

Many thanks.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Saturday Night Fight Club - A Shark's Tale

Look at this picture. It’s amazing – it’s almost as if the authors of the Monster Manual somehow knew that thirty-three years later, I’d invent Saturday Night Fight Club and decided to illustrate tonight’s bout.

So without further ado and with the blessing of Dave Sutherland upon us, let's take a look at tonight's contenders...

Sea Lion

Frequency: Uncommon
No appearing: 3-12
Armour class: 5/3 (head is 5, rest of body is 3)
Move: 18”
Hit dice: 6 (average hit points 27)
% in lair: 20%
No of attacks: 3
Damage/attack: 1-6/1-6/2-12
Special attacks: Nil
Special Defences: Nil
Magic resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Semi
Alignment: N
Size: L

THAC0 13 so he’ll need a 7 to hit the shark


Frequency: Common
No appearing: 3-12
Armour class: 6
Move: 24”
Hit dice: 3-8 – let’s even up the game and give him six also. Same number of average hit points
% in lair: 0%
No of attacks: 1
Damage/attack: 2-5/2-8/3-12 – I guess that this relates to the hit dice. Mr Sealion is going to outclass him utterly if I leave it at 2-8 so let’s up it to 3-12.
Special attacks: Nil
Special Defences: Nil
Magic resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Non
Alignment: N
Size: M to L

THAC0 13 which means to hit the Sealion’s head he’ll need an 8, to hit its body, he’ll need a 10. I’ll use my normal rule for deciding the hits, 20% chance of the head, 80% the body.

I’ve raised Sharky’s damage dice slightly, and because he’s faster in the water than the Sealion, I’ll roll his reaction on a d8 and the Sealion on a d6. That’s sort of fair because it tilts the odds but doesn’t rule out Sealion getting the edge.

Right, round 1

Roll for reaction. Sharky gets a 5, Sealion rolls a 6. There you go. The type of dice made no difference.

Sealion attacks with the old claw/claw/bite – 17,18 and 16 – whew, that’s some rolling. 5 and 3 from the claws, only 2 from the bite.
Sharky swings in to attack – that bite is famous for its damage – just ask Robert Shaw. Let’s see if it’s as dangerous as the stories say.

29% says the body takes the bite. And with an 18, he still hits. Total of 6 damage.

End of round 1 and the hit points are as follows

Sharky 17
Sealion 21

Round 2 and who’s going to served up with chips? Only one way to find out…

Sharky rolls a 5 and this time, Sealion rolls a 3. Is that really a d8 that Sharky’s rolling or a d6 with an identity crisis?

48% says that Sharky hits Sealion’s body again. Let’s see what his to hit roll says

5 means his so-called razor sharp teeth just bounce off the scales.

Amazingly, the Sealion’s attack dice roll 4,3 and 6 – he misses utterly. Might be the 3D effect on Jaws 3…

End of round 2 and the hit points stay the same.

Round 3 and Sharky rolls an 8 for his reaction. Sealion can only manage a 3. Will it make the slightest bit of difference? Let’s see…

57 – so no, it’s a body hit again. Sharky rolls a 16 this round and manages to inflict 8 damage on Sealion who replies with…

5, 4 and 6 – what is this, d20 behaving badly or what?

End of round 3 and the hit points have changed somewhat…

Sharky is still on 17 but Sealion has slumped rather dramatically to 13.

Round 4

Sharky rolls a 5 and Sealion a 4.

Oho…fins away, here goes our sharp-toothed friend again. Roll for hit location and it’s the head this time. Ooh, that’s going to give him a better chance to hit. Hope that d20 behaves itself this round.

Oh dear, it’s only a 3. That d20 – what a tinker, eh?

Sealion swings in for his attacks – 6, 4 and 18 – ooh, thought the d20 was up to its old tricks there. Sealion scores 7 damage and the end of Round 4 is upon us.

Sharky still hanging on in there with 10 and Sealion with 13

Round 5 – the reaction rolls could clinch this one

Sharky rolls a 5, the d8’s favourite number and Sealion rolls a 3

And with a 01, Sharky goes for the head. He rolls…

15 – the d20 has been sent to sit on the naughty step and learned the error of its ways. Sharky’s damage is 8 – that’s bringing Sealion to the perilous state of being one good hit away from death.

But of course he has yet to have his attack – was that high score just a flash in the pan?

5, 16 and 6 – yes, the d20 of doom returns to its bad old ways. One d6 of claw damage gives 6 in total.

End of round 5 and the hit point totals are as follows

Sharky 4
Sealion 5

Surely Round 6 will see the chips ready? It’s all to roll for on the reaction dice

And it’s a tie. Both contenders rolls a 3. How about that? So close that Victor Kiam just bought the die rolls.

We’ll let Sharky go first although it’s not really first. 45% says the body gets the teeth and he picks up the d20…

It’s a 19. Well, unless he’s really unlucky with the dice…

9 damage! Will Sealion scrape home with an honourable draw or…

14,6 and 4 – well, that’s one claw that’s hit home. If he scores less than 4, he’s actually lost this one.

4! Exactly what he needed. It all came down to that last die roll and there it is – death on both sides.

Well, the Sealion in the picture seems to be having much better dice luck than our contender tonight. Must be a better-behaved d20.

I must admit that, like aerial combat, I haven't had much experience with underwater action but, leafing through the MM, some of those sea creatures were pretty scary. Take the shark's bigger prehistoric cousin Megalodon. It goes up to 15HD and does 6-24 damgage, with a chance of swallowing you whole. Here's a rough idea of just how big it was...

We're going to need a bigger boat...

Join us next week, all being well for something a bit different as Conan gets into a fight…with Red Sonja!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Art on Friday - Robin Olausson

A few weeks ago, I was singing the praises of Norway's Anders Finer. Well, it must be something in the Scandinavian water, because today's artist of note is from just next door, Sweden.

The first three are examples of his fine landscape and scene work.

This one hints at sci-fi and could very well be pressed into service as a Mutant Future scene.

You could just show the players this as they approached the dungeon entrance. No words needed.

I like this one - surreal and yet strangely familiar. Like something out of a dream.

He does a neat line in post-apocalyptic art as well.

This one just cries out for a Jim Raggi module to go with, if Death Frost Doom doesn't fit the bill.

Robin's DeviantArt site can be reached here. There's lots more good stuff to be seen.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

APB for Biopunk

Biopunk, if you're out there and reading this, and want to take a look at my first module, get in touch with your e-mail address and I'll send it on.

Playtesting news - I've forwarded a copy to Dungeonum and dnaworks should have a copy soon. Mr Roper and Pukako - if you could let me have your e-mail contact details, I can do the same for you.

Dungeonmum has said that once she and her group have played the module, she'll post about it on her blog. That'll need a spoiler alert then.

So far, I'm very pleased by the positive response that people have shown. Whether I'll be as positive when the feedback comes in is another thing.

Onward and upward, as someone said somewhere.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Playtesters wanted!

I've written a module. It's ready to face the first challenge of its life - playtesting. However, I only have one 7-year old child in my group and this is definitely too intense for him.

So, if there is anyone out there who fancies giving this one a spin, let me know and I'll try and get it to you. It's currently in Word format with jpeg maps.

It's for about six 5th level characters and I wrote it for 1e so it will run on LL and AEC or OSRIC. I've called it The Stones of Mithras and it was originally set in Old 4 Eyes' world of Albion, which was a fantasy version of Britain about 200 years after the Romans left. It is perfectly adaptable to other settings, however. It's about 30 pages long, plus maps.

I'm not looking for feedback on the production values (which, because I'm doing much of it by hand will be rough and ready at present) but I do need to know how it plays, if I've made it too dangerous, not tough enough, if there are any areas that just don't work. The feedback will be used to do the 3rd draft.

This, along with the Training Dungeon will be the first offerings from a new publishing concern that myself and Old 4 Eyes are setting up, called Effigy Publishing. Why Effigy? Well, it's a nod to the cover of the 1e PHB but it's also how F.E.G might be pronounced, which stands for Four-Eyed Grognards, a combination of my blog and his (late, lamented) one.

Our output will be split into two strands - informally titled by myself DCD (Dark Content Dungeons, full-on and intense, and KWD (Kiddie-wink dungeons), which will serve as introductions to D&D for children (and possibly adult newbies). We hope to have something final on offer by the autumn, depending on how the modules play-test.

Any takers? If you're interested, PM me or reply to this thread. Many thanks in anticipation.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

D&D Top Trumps

Ever keen to introduce the young and innocent to the world of D&D, I hit upon this method last year, when prowling the dusty halls of Dragonsfoot. Junior Grognard, who will turn seven tomorrow, loves Top Trumps and when I saw this, this,thisand this, I thought "This is perfect! What a brilliant way to learn the way that monster stats work!" I just printed them off, cut them out and we were away. We started off using AC, HD and XP value. It very quickly gets them used to descending AC as well.

We actually play this version more than the official ones they sell. However, now we have started to use height and morale, the vampire is no longer king of the hill.

Print them off and give them a go!

Toad in the Hole at the Tuesday Tavern

Yes, it's Tuesday and that can only mean one thing - I crank open the doors of the Tavern and welcome four more guests, Aaron Nuttall, Christian, Steven Ewing and Frost to the chaotic but friendly fireside table that is Daddy G's.

Today, because I'm based in the largest county in England (well, the eastern bit of it) although I'm not actually a Yorkshireman by birth, I thought I'd rustle up a variation on the theme of Yorkshire Pudding - Toad in the Hole. As any English gastronome knows, it's all about the sausages.

And you will of course want something to wash it down with...

Helga! Holen Sie Bier für die neuen Gäste!


Monday, 12 April 2010

Something Nasty in the Water

Recently, with the good weather that has come upon us, I was out cleaning the pond that had got very dirty and full of old leaves over winter. As I did so, I had the opportunity to note the various tiny critters that were living in the stagnant and rather odiferous water and started to think on the possibilities of including them, or something like them, in dungeon environments. In one module on which I'm currently working, there is a large body of water and some ideas that I had for that have made their way into this post.

Also on my mind was Aaron Nuttall's recent post on the hazards of getting wet. Well, I hope that these microbial critters are hazard enough for you, Aaron - along with their fungal friends, this should be warning enough for anyone to make sure they carry a Cure Disease at all times. Cures and protection have been left vague in most places to allow the DM to individualise their effects and dangers.

The Writhing Darkness
These little beauties are black worms about an inch long and need to roll to hit their victim, with a THAC0 of 20. However, if they do hit, they at once burrow into the skin and make their way deep into the body, where they locate the vital organs and lay their eggs within them. The eggs then hatch into tiny larvae that slowly eat the organs away over a period of days, during which the victim sickens and withers. However, he does not die straight away. The worms are more cunning than that. As they eat, the larvae release a chemical into the blood of the victim that causes him to crave immersion in water as a respite from the pain. Once total immersion is achieved, the body bursts open and the myriad larvae are released into the water.
Once the eggs are laid within a victim, only a Cure Disease can kill them. Once the larvae hatch and begin to eat, there is little hope although the DM may wish to specify a cure that will halt the deterioration.

Crave Fungus
When disturbed, this fungus shoots out a cloud of spores. If any person inhales these spores, they become filled with a strong hunger for the fungus (save vs. poison to avoid this effect) and are driven to consume as much of it as possible, of course disturbing it and causing the release of more spores. The fungus, once inside a human body, will begin to produce more of itself, slowly taking over its host and causing their body to become bloated and distended until it can take no more and bursts, at which point the fungus will finally consume the remaining flesh, forming the basis for a new colony of fungi. A careful examination of the outcroppings of the fungus in this area will show that they are growing on bones and the remains of armour and clothing. Once the fungus is inside the body, only a Cure Disease spell will be able to eradicate it.

Nightmare Fluke
These creatures, tiny parasites enter the body almost unnoticed, having burrowed in with an entry wound so tiny that it is almost invisible. They also use a substance that is like a local anaesthetic to numb the area of entry. The flukes then make their way to the eyes of the victim, where they start to consume them over a period of time. However, they also secrete a substance that causes the victim to believe that he is seeing horrific hallucinations – his companions might appear as undead, or empty passageways might be filled with monsters. Eventually, after a day or so of these terrifying visions, the flukes begin to pour out of the digested eyes like black tears. Anyone who comes into contact with the flukes must save vs. poison or run the risk of becoming infected themselves. The victim is not killed but is left with the very real chance of insanity due to the visions that he has experienced and of course will be completely blind.

Oil Spores
Floating in some areas of water is a slimy black oil-like substance that appears to be harmless. It will not burn or sting, and merely adheres to the skin of its victim. A scrubbing with vinegar or lemon juice will be enough to kill it. However, if its victim has any open wounds (in this case, if any combat damage has not been healed completely), the oil-like substance will enter the body and its true nature will become known. It is a colony of tiny spores which secrete the mucus that binds them together. Once inside the body, they will attack the blood, using the cells as breeding grounds to produce more spores. Over the following 12-36 hours (d3 x 1d12) the victim will begin to turn grey as his blood becomes steadily more and more oily. He will die at some point within those 12-36 hours unless a Cure Disease is carried out. No wounds he has sustained will heal and after a while, they will begin to weep black oil.

The Raging Doom
During combat, there’s often a lot of blood flying round. The Raging Doom parasite is transmitted via blood and once inside its victim makes its way to the gland centres that produce adrenaline and testosterone. For the latter reason, this parasite does not seem to affect females as such; males are its primary vector. Once it has arrived at its target glands, it causes them to produce many times more hormones, causing aggressive and irrational behaviour in its victims. They tend to seek out combat situations and initiate actions that will lead to bloodshed and further transmission of the parasite.
The parasite also has a secondary effect inasmuch as it stimulates production of pheromones that act as a signal to nearby predators and other creatures, causing them to home in on the victim’s location. This is probably an insurance policy to make sure that there are enemies to fight. In practical terms, this means that anyone infected with Raging Doom will cause a doubling in wandering monster rolls.

The fungus that causes this lives in clusters on the sides of stalagmites and appears to be a slight encrustation that may be anything from a deep red to a warm amber in colour. However, should anyone brush against it, the fungus at once sends out a cloud of spores that, once breathed in, begin to grow in the victim’s lungs. They do not kill the victim at once, or even affect the breathing much, although the victim may well develop a hacking cough that could cause problems in a dungeon environment from the perspective of silent movement.
What is actually happening is that the fungus is producing a substance which enters the blood and starts to travel round the whole body. As it does so, it begins to affect the body tissues, causing them to swell and enlarge. After about eighteen hours, the victim will begin to resemble more a doughy parody of themselves, at least 50% larger in all aspects except height. Movement will slow considerably, and no clothing or armour will fit. The victim’s size will increase by 10% per six hours thereafter until they are too heavy to move. When they sink to their knees, the doughy flesh will begin to calcify and harden; the body will lose shape and harden as it does so until it is very similar to a normal stalagmite. Once the hardening process is complete, the fungus appears on the outside of the new formation.

In the very darkest cave pools, there is a parasite that, when it enters its victims, causes their skin to become very photosensitive. Over the course of the following 42 hours, the skin becomes more and more sensitive, taking damage as follows:

0-7 Victim takes damage from full sunshine only, 1d3hp per round exposed, the skin will begin to flake and blister
8-14 cloudy days – the skin will take 1d3 damage per round. The previous category of damage will double
15-21 twilight - the skin will take 1d3 damage per round. The previous category of damage will double
22-28 moonlight the skin will take 1d3 damage per round. The previous category of damage will double
29-35 continual light - the skin will take 1d3 damage per round. The previous category of damage will double
36-42 torchlight - the skin will take 1d3 damage per round. The previous category of damage will double

The parasite will, however, stimulate the sight of the victim, causing them to become progressively better at seeing in poorly lit situations until by the 36th hour, they are able to see extremely well with no light whatsoever. The parasites will leave the body by means of its excrement but short of a Cure Disease, there is no real cure once the victim is infected.

Flay Mites
These tiny organisms thrive on sunlight, but in order to get their nourishment, they produce an alarming side-effect. As soon as they enter a host, they begin to spread to all the skin cells on the body. Once they have completely infected every cell, which may well take up to seven days, they start to absorb sunlight and produce a by-product which causes the skin to become invisible. The invisible nature of the skin actually increases the nutritional effect of sunlight for the parasite, which will continue to produce the substance. The victim therefore takes on the appearance of a flayed body, although he will suffer no other adverse effect. Needless to say, his new appearance will cause considerable alarm and upset amongst those who see it.

Please feel free to use these and by all means change the names - I've had a bit of a mental block when it comes to suitably gruesome appellations for the horrors above.

PS - I had intended to put pictures into this post but I decided not to. Go to Google Images and type in 'parasite' to find out why.

Miniatures Monday - The Ogre

Meesa back! Firstly, apologies for the lack of SNFC this weekend. Mummy Grognard has an important assignment for her Health and Safety qualification and so she was on the computer the entire weekend (Friday night to Sunday evening). All being well, the postponed fixture should take place on the 17th.

And now to business.

I've no idea where it says that all humanoids are green. Perhaps it's to do with Shrek. It seems to have become an accepted fact; I mean, look at all the pictures of orcs these days - green to a man. The Monster Manual tells us that the skin colour of ogres is "dull blackish brown to dead yellow", their warts and lumps often being a different colour altogether. Mind you, the MM also uses the word 'hide' rather than 'skin' in that particular entry, so it's pretty evident that the ogre is to be regarded as more animal than person.

Be this as it may, let us pause to admire the sheer belligerence of this figure. Its slant-eyed countenance and leering, snarling mouth says to anyone who is still around to listen that it really, really wants to fight. Its hair is white (not sure why, but perhaps it runs in the family) and the top-knot bound up by hide of an unspecified nature completes its punky malevolence.

I like the huge notch taken out of its halberd (a veteran of a good few fights if the rust and/or blood on the blade is anything to go by). And if we let our glance drift downwards, past the knuckleduster, past the very impressive vambrace on its other arm, we come to the ripped trousers, which seem to be the colour of stone-washed denim. Hey, perhaps they are - this is one tough cookie, who - if he lived in the modern age - would probably be riding a Harley.

It's such a mean, malevolent figure that I tend to use it to stand in for anything that little bit bigger and that little bit meaner than orcs or goblins. He and a mate recently played the Bugbear brothers from the Training Dungeon as well as being an actual ogre later on in the same adventure.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Art on Thursday - Mark Zug

I came across Mark Zug on the Fantasy Art Gallery website, which is always good for a browse. I was immediately struck by his originality of style and sought out his website which I would really advise anyone who likes the following selection to visit. I thought when doing this post that I'd just select about three or four pictures that I really liked but then when I got to ten, I thought "Must stop, or I'll download the entire gallery"

You may recognise some of his work; there is a huge selection of MTG illustrations on the site that take a long time to download so check them out if you've got time.

For now, I'll let the pictures do the talking.

This one should be familiar to Old 4 Eyes...

Poe's Law and 4e

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Poe's Law, it runs something like this:
"Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody...that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing."

So with grateful thanks to Fools Jest, on whose blog I found this and thought "Hahahahahaha!", we have the following example:

Er...this is a parody, right?

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Table for two at the Tuesday Tavern

For my two latest followers, Editor and Matt, a terrace table...

And back by popular request, here is Helga with another round of drinks...

I've a feeling that some of those beers might be warmer than others...

And to all inhabitants of Idaho (you know who you are), something that I know you're going to like...

Welcome one and all. It's truly amazing that only a month ago (or so) I was celebrating fifty followers and now there are seventy-one. I must be doing something right.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Miniatures Monday - the Stone Druid

Something a little unusual today. This figure came as a standard Citadel Miniatures cleric, although I reckon that it was a druid since the sickle can be seen hanging from his belt. However, Andy had decided to use the figure (which I don't think was ever needed, since I can't recall anyone playing a druid back in the day) as an experiment in stone painting technique. I reckon it worked out pretty well. It really gives the impression that the figure is made of stone, complete with weathering and a little chip taken out of it here and there, as can be seen on a fold of the robe.

I can see myself actually using this one as a dungeon ornament, hinting at worrisome females with snakey hair somewhere in the depths. In fact, the caption for this figure could well be

"Medusa? Ha, doesn't scare me, all shall fall 'neath the hammer of..."