Tuesday, July 22, 2014

DragonCon 2014 : Here's What I'm Running (So Far)

This is probably the first of several posts I will make prior the event itself because I'm really looking forward to DragonCon this year and find myself daily checking for updates.

Gaming event submission has been open for a few weeks, and registration to play is going live very soon live as of Monday 7/21. I decided yesterday to apply to run 3 sessions and all 3 were approved.

The Purple Worm Graveyard (Planet Thirteen)

I had a lot of fun with this when I ran it in December 2013. My concern, then as now, is that it could all end early depending on what choices they make. I may fiddle with the module a bit to prevent at least one of the possibilities. But I will have a second adventure on hand, just in case.

I chose to run this at 9AM, the Friday of the con. 

I don't know if I'll get a full table or not, but last year the b/x game at 9AM Friday had 18 players (way too many) because people kept showing up with nowhere to put them, so I have hopes that I'll get my 6. I have been running as many as 8 with my open table campaign, and I find that is really the top end of what's fun. Four to six is the sweet spot; everyone has a better chance to get involved or perhaps, I just do a better job of involving everyone.

The Dungeon of Akban (S&W Quickstart)

I ran this in November 2013 and really enjoyed it. There's no way the players will complete the dungeon in 4 hours, but there are multiple paths they can take that will allow them to satisfy at least one of several possible victory conditions. 

I know, I know, you can't win at role-playing, but for a one-shot, I think it's nice for there to be a sense of achievement, even if it's, "well we didn't find X, but we found Y and Y was pretty cool!"

When i ran it in November, I converted it for use with Labyrinth Lord (that took about 3 minutes). For DragonCon, i'm going to run Swords & Wizardry : Whitebox. That's how much I like Whitebox.

I might sign up to run one more slot (probably a 2nd Purple Worm Graveyard), but that depends both on what I sign up to play, and what else looks interesting on the schedule, and how much time I want to leave for the pop-up zine library. At this point, I'm only signed up to play D.B.A. (I've heard many times that the best way to understand these rules is to have someone show you, so that's my plan!)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ariale (of Fjörgyn infamy) Has a Blog!

The subject line pretty much says it all.

Ariale has started posting some of her Tunnels & Trolls solo exploits, as well as her side of the screen for our ongoing B/X campaign, where she plays the chaotic, arguably evil, unarguably impulsive, Fjörgyn the Elf.

You can check her blog out here: Ghoul Slayer.

Her side of the screen. Photo by Ariale M.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Skalafell : Into the Evil Wizard's Safe

This session of Fjörgyn's adventure was held outdoors at Griffis Sculpture Park in Western New York. It was also the first time I have ever played D&D outdoors.

photo by Ariale M.

Fjörgyn followed the map Sister Rebecca / Evil Wizard gave her to the mouth of a cave in the hills south and west of Skalafell.  The tunnel within forked, and she chose to pursue the one to the north.

[I gave her some info to help her decision making, but I'll be damned if i can remember what it was.]

As she approached a cavern, her torched flickered [which ultimately was a terrible clue that something was amiss]. Remembering her infravision, she opted to extinguish the torch and peer into the cavern in hopes of not drawing attention to herself. 

Before her stood a large cold glob in the center of the room. Lighting her torch she saw a grotesque tentacled monstrosity of a statue. Expecting the worst, she tried to sneak past, but it was not to be - the living crystal statue animated and smashed at her with its massive tentacles.

Fjörgyn blocked and parried blow after blow before finally shattering the statue into hundreds of shards (some of which were stashed in her pack for later use). She had taken some damage, but not much [we're using Solo Heroes, so damage at most is 2 points per hit, and quite often just 1 pt]. 

She decided to return to the other fork and explore that direction, but found her path mysteriously blocked by a wall. A search for secret doors revealed nothing, despite her elven prowess in such matters, so onward she went.

After trying to climb her way around the walls of a room and falling onto a great glowing sigil painted on its floor (which cost her a point of INT), she made her way into a chamber wherein a large leather bound book, sealed with a clasp,  rested on a small plain stone dais. 

Taking no chances with her safety, but risking the book, she knocked it from its resting place. As the book skidded into the rough ground, this transgression triggered the rapid appearance of 3 skeleton warriors bent on making her life pretty miserable in a battle that did not go her way (she came close enough to death that Ariale was getting worried).

Finally, in an act of desperation, bloodied and bruised, Fjörgyn grabbed the spellbook and, like a young Walter Payton, blasted through their line and out the door into the hall opposite the way she came in. Fortune was on  Fjörgyn's side and the skeletons did not pursue - although fortune has a sick sense of humor and put her at the precipice of a great chasm some 20' wide. 

Despair may have settled in for a moment before the light bulb went off and Fjörgyn noticed hand holds and a small ledge allowing her to cross the chasm ever so carefully. 

Ahead, she heard the distinct sound of loud voices and with torch extinguished she spied several humanoid shapes sitting about another cavern. 

With surprise on her side, she prepared her Charm Person spell. It was not until she uttered the necessary phrases that the goblins became aware of her presence and by then it was too late - all but one of them failed their save. The sole exception charged into melee (Fjörgyn won the initiative) but was cut down quickly and easily. As for the others, they could not understand why their brutish companion would attack their dear friend, the elf.

So happy were they to see their long lost bestie, they readily gave up information about the tunnel system. Realizing her health had been seriously compromised by the statue and the skeletons, Fjörgyn asked for directions to the entrance. As it turned out, the goblins had their own secret way in and out of the cave and happily showed Fjörgyn the way to the surface. 

Sadly, obligations to their Boss prevented them from going with her back to town to continue their joyous gathering.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Ever Expanding Dungeon : Session 30

For this session, I decided to use the 5 Room Dungeon model as the frame for whatever I rolled up on the content generator/wandering monster table

For the thief skills, I'm using Whitebox Heroes.

After moving into the hallway, the party made their way across the hall to a door that ultimately led them to the Eastern door to a large, narrow room that already had been mapped [Room 43]. Listening at the door revealed nothing, and a brief examination showed the door to be locked.

[Room 1: Guardian I decided it would be a lock. Simple.]

Leegand set about trying to pick the lock but was unsuccessful and the party was forced to backtrack and approach the room via another [Room 42].

[Room 2 in the 5-Room Dungeon is Role-Play / Puzzle, I rolled Monster with Treasure]


As the party entered, 3 skeleton guardians attacked, ganging up on Runolf and Eomond, as they led the party into the chamber. Ygg called upon the Hedonistic Lumberjack but the mighty god must have been sleeping off a hangover and failed to assist in any way. "Ratsplitter" proved its worth against the undead, destroying the first skeleton outright. Runolf had a bit tougher time of it, taking a substantial wound [3 HP damage], before dropping the remaining skeletons single-handed .

[For the puzzle/rp, I felt like i needed more to go on and consulted Mythic GME's Subject Action tables: release danger.]

In the center of the room, a smallish metal box marked with evil looking symbols that any idiot could see was a warning sat surrounded by the scattered bones of the destroyed skeleton warriors. Lykidas noted that he could cast a spell to allow him to decipher the sigils and symbols, but he would have to do so a different day, as it was not a spell he had prepared for this delve. Ygg suggested carrying the box out with them and then Lykidas could cast his spell in the comfort of their room at the inn.

Amazingly, no one could see any flaws with this plan.

[Room 3 in the 5-Room Dungeon is a red herring / resource drain ]

Weird box in hands, the party made their way into the room to the south [Room 43. For contents, I rolled Trap. I used my own trap table from 6 Iron Spikes #2, and got "Piercing"]. 

Perhaps as reward for their success, javelins sprayed from the ceiling, floor and walls [I decided each member of the party would have to make a Saving Throw or take damage]. 

Fortunately, the trap wasn't lethal, although nearly everyone suffered some degree of injury. Despite efforts to bind wounds, the effect of the trap was enough for the party to decide to retrace their steps and get back to town.

[Room 4 in the 5-Room Dungeon is the Big Bad / Combat encounter ]

Unfortunately, their exit was not to be without incident. 

Unbeknownst to the party, the ghoul, whom Ygg had turned earlier, waited in ambush and sprung upon the party, catching them completely off-guard [the party rolled a 1 for their Surprise check]. 

Eomond bore the weight of the ghoul's fury and was dropped, paralyzed, to the ground - fortunately, for what it was worth, he was still alive. Ygg and Leegand tried to engage the creature from a distance, but Leegand's dagger sailed wide of the mark, and again the Hedonistic Lumberjack was unavailable for direct calls. Finally, Zilliniy charged the beast and cleaved it head to groin in one gruesome swing of her blade. 

Cheers erupted from the party - except for Eomond who, of course, was still paralyzed.

[Room 5 in the 5-Room Dungeon model isn't necessarily another room but treasure or a twist. I don't know why, but this popped into my head]

Unable to move Eomond and the weird box, the party set up guard to wait for the paralysis to fade. Meanwhile, the old man (Lykidas) decided to examine the ghoul - intellectual curiosity, you see - and found something quite odd : a series of numbers tattooed on its wrist. A curiosity no doubt, he severed the hand above the wrist and tossed it in his bag, for further examination in a safer location.

With Eomond mobile again, the party made their way home, only to be ambushed outside of the dungeon's entrance by two men [Wandering Monster : Thieves, 2nd level ] who had misjudged the party's health (easy to do given the amount of bloody bandages in which they were wrapped). Ygg struck a blow which killed the first and as the second ran Leegand and Zilliniy combined to drop the coward with sling stone and arrow.

*** Epilogue ***
Early the following morning, Lykidas, Ygg, Zilliniy and Leegand retired to one of the party's two rooms, shuttered the windows and locked the door - both Eomond and Runolf had far more recovery to do and were allowed to sleep in. In the center of the room, they placed the strange box. 

Lykidas cast his spell and reported that the box promised great treasure at significant peril. 

[Mythic GME: Does it give any clue as to the peril? 87, No]

Zilliniy drew her sword, Ygg readied his mace, Lykidas readied another spell, and Leegand set about trying to pick the lock. Unsuccessful, he stepped out of the way as Ygg put his crowbar to the task.

 [I decided if he rolled under his STR it would open. I rolled a 2. 
I was torn on whether the peril was monster or trap, so I turned to Mythic GME: Is it trapped? 57, yes
I again turned to my trap table in 6 Iron Spikes #2 and rolled "Dumbing"]

As the lid of box flew open, a ghostly form rocketed out howling and screaming in tortured agony. 

[All rolled to Save or lose 1 INT permanently]

Although Leegand and Zilliniy were unaffected, both Lykidas and Ygg felt as if ice picks had been wedged into their brains.

A moment later the apparition had vanished and the party stared at a pile of coin [30 gp and 150 sp]. Eomond and Runolf were summoned from their slumber and the treasure was divided equally among them all. 

"I think a shopping spree is in order, " said Ygg.

[The party will need 6 days of rest for all members to be at their full HP]

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mail Call! And more!

I just got back from my trip to Western New York and a pile of envelopes awaited me when I got in the door:

While I was on my trip, I swung by a store called Two Kings Gaming. The reviews I read suggested that customer service was rather low on their priority list, but I figured I had nothing to lose.

The store mostly caters to Magic : The Gathering, and Warhammer 40K, but they do have a decent selection of out of print RPGs (primarily D&D, but some other systems). 2e is probably the one they have the most of, although 1e and 4e weren't too far behind. Oddly 3e seemed to have very little. As nothing beyond 1e really interests me (except 5e), and I have all of the 1e stuff I care to have, I wasn't holding out much hope of finding anything. 

To my surprise, I found a copy of Holmes D&D for sale, tucked into the rack with the White Dwarf back issues.

My copy of Holmes is rather pristine, so I have been considering buying a "reading copy." I couldn't find any price, so I took it up to the counter expecting to be ignored (based on the reviews I had read). Instead, I was waited on immediately, and even better, although the price was $24(way overpriced), they sold it to me for $10 (much more reasonable).

Next time I'm up in WNY and I've got some time, I'll head back to Two Kings Gaming to see what they might have gotten in.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Skalafell : The Devil Never Had an Easier Time

[We had a short gaming session the other day, mostly to resolve the cliffhanger]

Fjörgyn heard the clomping feet enter the hut and stayed out of sight a bit as the visitors trashed the outer room. Having had enough, she went to the doorway, sword drawn. A brief confrontation with the three men, dark robes over armor, their faces beat up and bruised, found her informing them that she had disposed of the old man herself. 

[Initial reaction was mixed, but the subsequent check to that bit of news came up 11 - in b/x that's pretty damn friendly!]

Impressed, they asked Fjörgyn about the girl and she happily informed them that she had no idea where or who the girl was but that she had chased her into the hut. The three men quickly found her and Fjörgyn was happy to let them leave with the girl, although not before arranging with the men for one of them to assist her in preparing the old man's body to be dragged back to town inconspicuously.

As with all small talk, conversation turned to his cult, and she made inquires as to membership.

That's right, Fjörgyn wanted in. 

He informed her that a representative would seek her out at the Queen's Cauldron and then the cultists and Fjörgyn parted ways.

The old man's body in tow, Fjörgyn sloughed back to Skalafell to the fully defiled shrine. There a dark cloud hung in an otherwise clear sky, the cries and moans within had silenced, but a torrent of blood poured down the steps into the ground in a seemingly infinite wave. 

Obviously, the thing to do would be to throw the corpse into the bloodfall. 

A wave of crimson rose up and engulfed the offering, dissolving it into its current.

A moment later, a twisted figure, once Sister Rebecca, but now scuttling along with a strange gait appeared in the doorway, its face no longer the plain cleric, but more man-like, pointed and, well, evil. The face, Fjörgyn recognized, was similar to that of the ghoul she had killed.

"You! You did this!" 

Despite Sister Rebecca's face appearing briefly screaming for help, the visage returned to the grotesque caricature and one rather odd exchange later, Fjörgyn had arranged with the evil wizard now posessing Sister Rebecca, to retrieve his spell books, in exchange for his tutelage. 

He gave her a map, and she set out to prepare for her journey.

[Ariale claims she's not sure she's doing this role-playing thing right. Please. ]

Pop-Up Tabletop Gaming Zine Library : An Idea So Crazy, It Just Might Work

August 29, 2014, through September 1, 2014 is DragonCon - a huge convention that turns a handful of hotels in downtown Atlanta into a mini-city full of geeks and nerds of all kinds. 

This year marks the third time I will attend (I only moved here 4 or so years ago, so I don't feel too badly about that) and for the first time I will try to participate beyond being a consumer (literally buying crap or as a player in other peoples' games). As I've mentioned before, I am going to submit proposals to run a few sessions of b/x for the gaming track. 

But, the idea that came to me the other day, and one that means quite a bit more to me, is that I will setup and run a pop-up tabletop gaming zine library!

Not exactly!
 (image from: http://smallforbig.com/2011/08/diy-pop-upfold-flat-cardboard-playhouse.html)

What do I plan to do?

  • I will bring my tabletop gaming zine collection with me.
    • I may also bring a small pile of non-gaming zines with me, just for variety, as long as they are at least tangentially related to nerd-dom
    • It will be some kind of display - working out the details now.
  • I will setup here and there around DragonCon  (most likely I will be in the open gaming room, since there are oodles of open tables) between gaming events and panels that I am attending for people to browse, borrow, and read zines during their down time, with the request that they return zines before they walk off (or at least leave them on the table where I'm seated).
    • Anyone with a convention badge is free to use the pop-up zine library.
      • Borrowing is limited to 1 zine per person at a time.
      • Yes, there is a chance some of my zines will disappear. I'll take one for the team.
  • I will have basic materials for people to create their own 1-page, aka "pocket mod", print zines (paper, pencils, erasers, pens, Sharpies, scissors) and possibly offer brief lessons to anyone interested in simple binding for print zines or even making their own custom notebooks (3-hole and 5-hole stitched bindings).
    • These might be special "scheduled" time slots.
  • I will advertise the pop-up library, including my location and schedule with signage, as well as online via Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram
  • I will distribute bookmarks, flyers, samples, etc. for 6 Iron Spikes & a Small Hammer, and for anyone else who wants to provide me with material, via the pop-up library or by direct request at the con.
    • I will not leave promotional materials on tables around the con - it's against con rules.
  • Anyone local, or coming to town for the con, who might want to collaborate on this, let me know.

Hopefully, some people will at least stop by out of curiosity. If I manage to get one person interested in checking out zines generally, or tabletop gaming zines specifically, I'll consider it a success.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Appendix N Loot and More!

I'm up visiting my parents this week with my son, which translates into untold amounts of free child care for him and free time for me. 

On Sunday, Ariale and I paid a visit to a large indoor/outdoor flea market / antique market near my parents' house. 

Here are a few of the things I took home:

Although iconic, I've not read any of these before (and my local public library doesn't have them).

The dealer had an amazing selection of books, including a section I will include in an abandoned wizard's tower:

Photo by Ariale M.

One of the outdoor dealers was packing up and I spotted this before they got it packed away:

The box has seen better days, but I'm chucking it anyway. The figures are what I wanted. As soon as I saw them I thought "I could use these in a wargame!".  I'll probably use them with Gutshot! or something similar. I haven't measured the figures, but they don't look like they'd be out of place next to 1/35 sized figures (they're around 2" tall). 

More books!

Finally, I saw this comic book on e-bay a few months back and really wanted it. Maybe it's the idea of a flying, ghost inhabited tank, or that said tank is engaging a Japanese plane in the PTO, but whatever it is I just love the cover and wanted to see what was inside, but the price always seemed a little high to me.

As fate would have it, one of the indoor comic book vendors had "my" comic and Ariale decided I was going to own it (I win!):

You know I'm tempted to make this into a wargame scenario, too.