Saturday, March 30, 2013

Solo Traps: A Rough Draft

Last weekend, we took Young Lord Shadowmoss to one of those "play" centers where dozens of kids from the ages or 1 to 10 or so run around inside "bouncy castles" and the like, play with a myriad of ride on toys and, importantly, spread germs like plague rats. I staved off infection the longest, finally succumbing on Friday (Lady and the Young Lord both had it for the first half of the week).

So, while I had hoped to play the Ever Expanding Dungeon tonight, I'm not sure how up to it I am. Never the less, I spent a fair bit of time creating the following for use in said dungeon as a means of generating more varied traps in an attempt to move away from what I now perceive as an overuse of Save or Die poison of types X and XX. I still need to add the actual trap details generation portion, this first part is simply a mini-game of chance for determining if a trap is present and how it is triggered:

Step 0: Declare party actions [I do it in writing] prior to proceeding. Will the thief try to detect traps? Will the M-U cast Detect Trap or Detect Magic? Will the fighter try to pry it open with her sword blade? Will they hurl it down the steps to open it? Will the fighter kick down the door? Will the thief pick the lock first?

At the very least, you must state how you will attempt to open the door/chest now. If no trap is detected, the PCs will carry out this action and they can not change their mind. 

Step 1: Play the GM for a minute:
1. Determine if a chest or door is locked:

                    For chests:
     Locked : 01-66
     Stuck: 67 - 90
     Easy to open: 91 - 100

For Doors:
      Locked: 01-30
      Stuck: 31 - 66
      Easy to open: 67 - 100

2 Determine if the item is trapped, roll 1d100:

For Chests

Check Lock is TrappedCheck Lid is trigger
if lock not trapped
Locked01-6601 - 34
Stuck/Easy01-0501 - 66

For Doors:

Check Lock is TrappedCheck Door is Trigger if Lock is not Trapped
Locked01 - 2501 - 25
Stuck/Easy01-0501 - 25

3 If a Trap is Present, Roll Type of Trap:
Physical 01 - 60
Poison 61 – 90
Magic / Other 91 - 00

4 If poison/physical, roll to detect (or cast Detect Trap or similar) if party declared that action.
If magic/other, then only detectable with a Detect Magic or similar, if party declared.
5  If a trap is detected, an attempt to disable may be made using appropriate means. If the disable fails, the party may stop the process at this point and leave the chest or door closed and/or locked.

6  If no trap was rolled in Step 2, there is nothing to worry about, but if the trap exists and was not detected,  the party is assumed to take all of the actions specified in Step 0 without the option to back out. If one of those actions would logically trigger the trap, then that's what happens.

 For Chests Only:

Once open, if no trap has triggered, another attempt may be made to detect a trap on the contents (no additional spells need be cast, but thieves would have to roll again or if no spell cast yet, it could be declared now). Roll trap type as above. 
If one is found, a disable attempt may be made (again a Dispel Magic spell can be assumed to have dispelled a magic trap on the contents. If not yet cast, can declare to do so now).

If detect roll fails or disable roll fails, check to see if contents are trapped, roll 1d100:
Contents trapped: 01 - 34

I'm fairly certain in my congested head-feels-like-it's-buried-in-peanut-butter state, I've missed something obvious.  I'm sure that will come out in testing, but if anyone sees something glaring, please let me know.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Year, New (Social) Game with USR: Wastelands Game Session 2

Pa Ku is a new PC and is being played by our housemate, the Journeyman of Shadowmoss.  In short, he is a blood magic-based healer named Pa Ku, a highly ranked medicine man of sorts, and has been tasked by Jade's father to find her, keep her safe and direct her to a particular city where he has a contact that will be able to help her.

We had a chance to play after Young Lord Shadowmoss fell asleep last night.


Pa Ku arrived on his mule at the Ruins of Parth just as Jade, in an attempt to stealthily attack the electronic eye (see last session), triggered the eye to sound its alarm - which reverberated throughout the ruins. Hiding the mule, Pa Ku grabbed his spear [his spear has a metal tip and functions as  +1 on his attack roll] and headed off towards the sound.

Although she eventually managed to silence the alarm, two men, each sporting the symbol of the Jiuquan (her tribe), approached. Fortunately, the respirator she had donned kept them from recognizing her.

Pa Ku - a medicine man and blood rites healer known among many in the Quanzhao Valley (where Jade's warlord father, Heitan, is ruler) - came upon the three and demanded to know why the two men were there. The story they fed him about being there to find Jade and bring her home to her suddenly-struck-deathly-ill father did not fly with him, since he had been personally tasked by Heitan to find Jade and escort her to a distant city where she would find safety.

Jade slipped away during the conversation [She successfully rolled her Stealth specialism challenge] to finish making her delivery for Amid The recipient of the bale of wire, Bala, a rat man with an eye patch seated atop a slithering throne of writhing metallic tentacles, gave her the proof of the delivery (a small, thin, hard but flexible rectangular card with a metallic stripe runnind from short edge to short edge on one side). Although she wanted to know more about Bala, she wanted the promised goods from Amid just a little bit more.

Meanwhile, Pa Ku used his intimidation specialism to force Guo and Moy (the two men) to spill their guts. Ever fearful of the mysterious blood rites practitioners, they handed over a written message promising a reward for the capture and return of Jade, to Cicero, Jade's jilted fiance, and prince of the Atonis. Enraged, he sent them running - "I don't care where you go. Get out of my sight."

After tracking Jade down again, he tried to talk with her, and using his Divination specialism to see if he could figure out who this person was, had the intuition that she was in fact the one he sought. For a reason I can't quite recall, Jade decided to take off running from Pa Ku. Her escape was cut short by a Ruin Bug - a gigantic pill bug of a thing that burrowed up out of the ground and sent both Pa Ku and Jade running to escape [they both handily beat the Ruin Bug in an opposed attribute challenge of Action die vs Action die].

Huffing and puffing and in no mood to face the dangers of the ruins alone, she let Pa Ku go with her to meet Amid, where she acquired a medpack, 3 foot steel pipe [a two handed weapon that functions as a +2 for her attack roll] and a strange device (which she later learned was a tazer that she can passively charge with her innate electrical powers). They agreed to travel together and the decision was solidified further when, on their way to retrieve Pa Ku's mule, they were ambushed by mutant hyena men (gnolls) whom they handily defeated together.

Their success was in no small part because Jade was able to channel her power through the steel pipe into an explosive shock of electrical power which fried two of the mutant creatures. Never the less, Jade did take some damage during the fight and had been injured in the previous mutant ambush as well.

Pa Ku needed to fulfill his obligation to universal balance for spilling blood by healing someone or something and this was a convenient opportunity. Upon successfully healing Jade, she absentmindedly thanked him with the Jiuquan traditional sign of gratefulness to the healer, to which Pa Ku responded appropriately and added "Jade." It was clear to her that he knew her secret.

They ended the session holed up in the mech armory with night falling and plans to head out into the waste at day break.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kievski Regiment aka Proof I Still Paint Minis

Well, they aren't my best work, but they look OK from a "wargame distance" (although, in the picture below, I see some spots I will touch up) - 1 AoR/AtKM battalion of Kievski Regiment:

The red is Privateer Press Khador Red, the yellow is Ceramcoat Pale Yellow.

I have one more 12 figure unit to paint, which will be a guard unit, and then 2 companies of grenadiers.

Officers and standards will wait until I get some Swedes painted up.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Thinking About Poison

This morning, while waiting for my laptop to finish some updates, I read Poison: From AA to XX in Best of Dragon vol. II (originally appeared in issue 32, December '79).

The gist of the article is that:

1) Among humans, only alchemists can make poison
2) It can only be purchased from the Assassin's Guild 
3) PCs, other than thieves and assassins, may only use type S (sleep poison).
4) Locksmith's can use poison as part of setting an appropriate trap.
5) AA is the weakest of the poisons, XX is the strongest, and their costs reflect that.
6) Poison gas (one of my favorites) is generally used only to guard the most valuable treasures.

It also gives info on coating blades, damage, etc. 

It got me thinking about The Ever Expanding Dungeon (which I will get to play this week, so help me!), and my other dungeon crawls, and the frequency of poison needles and gas traps.

Are all of those poisoned traps set by the humanoids currently in the dungeon or are they holdovers from the past?

If they aren't holdovers, how are the humanoids making or acquiring poison which is essentially XX? That's really potent stuff, extremely expensive, and unlikely to be easily obtainable in such quantity that every few doors and chests are trapped with it.

Plus, I have been treating them all as Save or Die, with no other damage - so no 1/2 damage on save, and no chance of non-lethal traps. Is this a way to reduce the lethality of the dungeon in a manner that easily fits the narrative without my having to show any undo favoritism to my PCs?

As you probably have guessed, I'm working on a table to randomly determine the strength and type of poison, as part of my revisions of how traps are generated in The Ever Expanding Dungeon. 

I hope to have a draft ready by the next session.

Monday, March 25, 2013

In Loving Memory of Philios the Cat

This weekend, the population of Shadowmoss unexpectedly said goodbye to one of their beloved:

Philios was Lady Shadowmoss's constant companion for 16 years. He was with her when she graduated high school, when she went to college, when she graduated college and moved around thereafter. He travelled the country with her, wherever her job sent her, and as a result, he saw more of America than most people I know.

Basically, he was with her all of her adult life until now and she is understandably devastated.

He played fetch and could speak on command (although he was quite chatty around Lady Shadowmoss at all times), he threw and caught his own toys, was extremely friendly to all (except other cats, although he and my Pumpkin eventually learned to tolerate each other) and, I kid you not, when Young Lord Shadowmoss would cry out in the night, I'd find Philios waiting by the door, as if to say, "What took you so long? The baby needs you!"

His physical presence will be missed, but he is in our hearts and minds and will be with us always.

We love you "fuzz fuzz."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On Editing

As mentioned previously, I've been working on a zine. The writing is done and I'm wrestling with edits.

Every time I think "there, that's what I want",  I find something that was clear to me but that I don't explain and thus it might not be clear to a reader (I do that here often enough that I'm not surprised this is the case).

More commonly, I find words that aren't exactly what I want, or sentences I think can be said "better." By better, I mean, more efficiently and grammatically correct, per Strunk & White's The Elements of Style. Often, as this blog bears witness, I don't concern myself with such things but this is going to be in print and I can't go back and fix it easily later.

At some point soon, I'll just call it. You can edit forever, but it's a case of diminishing returns. 

Longer ago than I care to remember, as a teaching assistant in my first grad school attempt, I taught remedial English composition. The goal was to bring students with a less than stellar writing background in high school up to the standards of the university. 

I loved teaching that class. Unfortunately, for my students, I was heartless when it came to their papers - I would send them back for countless revisions before I'd pass it as acceptable. At one point, my mentor in the teaching assistant program said to me while holding a stack of the papers I had covered in questions to guide the student to a better paper, "These are good enough." And I learned an important lesson, one that I have since heard phrased as "The best is the enemy of the good."

OK, maybe I learned it intellectually, since I have to reach a point of frustration when painting miniatures before I'll say, "it's good enough." But, at least, in writing, I can let go a little sooner.

And, I'm rapidly approaching that point with this issue of my zine.

In any case, for your visual "pleasure", a mock up of the first issue of 6 Iron Spikes & a Small Hammer I did last week:

I'll release it into the wild sometime in the next two or so weeks.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Ever Expanding Dungeon: Session 15

After their return home, the party opted to sleep in late before meeting for a late brunch at the Zealous Dagger. Over their meal, Perceval elaborated on his idea to hire a force to accompany them into the dungeon. They had, he explained, overlooked the fact that they had a substantial amount of gold between them after they sold off the jewelry the had acquired a few delves ago. They could use that to directly boost their ability to make inroads into the dungeon. 

The party agreed it was worth a try, assuming they could find anyone willing to ride to the surrounding villages, post the announcements and spread the word.

[Enquiry Table: Are there townsfolk willing to ride to the nearby towns and put up said posters? Fair Chance, 6 and 6, Yes And - There are 1d6+1 willing to do it. 1d6, total:3]

It took 2 days before three locals approached the party and offered to ride out to the nearby villages, for fair wages, of course.

Kroyden [he of the 18 charisma] handled the negotiations, although Perceval supplied the coin. The party offered 10 silver for expenses, 10 sp for their trouble, plus a weeks worth of rations. In addition, for every suitable candidate their effort brought forth, they would receive a finder's fee of 1 gp each.

The offer was too good for fairly poor townsfolk to turn down and they agreed to set out the next day.

While the negotiations were under way, Sister Linkat approached the town scribe to order 10 bills to post, nothing fancy. For 15 gp he could have it for her by the next day. How convenient for everyone.

As promised, the following morning, the riders set off for the other villages with the parchments in hand.

Soon after, Dleggit suggested that the group make a foray into the dungeon again - with all due caution of course - rather than waiting around for mercenaries to arrive. "Who knows how long it will take?"

[Here I used my group decision resolution method No one was outright against it, but i didn't think support was strong enough to merit an automatic yes. After all, it's no skin off my nose to flash forward x number of days or weeks. The end result was a resounding yes however, to my surprise - not only would they go in, but they would leave for the dungeon today, rather than waiting for the next morning]

Sister Linkat ran to find Waldu [Waldu was not a sure thing. Neither his availability, his willingness to go, nor his price were a given. Was he available? 50/50. Yes. ] while rest of the party went to retrieve their gear, and load the mule. Waldu, as luck would have it, was available and after some back and forth, he agreed to go on condition that he be provided chain mail.

In no position to negotiate that stipulation, with time being of the essence, Sister Linkat took him the nearest (only?) armor merchant. However, as it turned out, they had no chain mail on hand and wouldn't for 2 weeks [Enquiry table: Do they have chain mail - 50/50, 1 and 2, No and....] He agreed that studded leather armor would be fine and then off they went to join the party.

Once inside the dungeon, the party resumed the same course of action as the previous session, with Kroyden scouting ahead. When he got to the door to the gnoll shrine room, he checked for traps and found none He also found it had been locked. 

After bringing the rest of the party up to the door, he tried to pick it, failed and set off a trap. [Do 1st level thieves ever do anything thief-y successfully?]

In this case, it was an alarm [I created a table on the fly for the kind of trap. I decided the alarm would manifest as increasing the chance of wandering monsters this session, and also, if anything was in Room 31 - the gnoll shrine room - then they could not be surprised]

Realizing their chance for moving about the dungeon unnoticed had been thwarted, Kroyden dropped back and the party assumed door-smashing order.

[Contents: 32, Monster. Mythic, Gnolls? Likely. Yes] 

As Perceval kicked open the door, the two gnoll guards on the other side were already charging towards him and Dleggit.

The first crashed into Perceval - rolling a natural 20, dealing 4 points of damage and sending Perceval flying back past Sister Linkat into Kroyden. Dleggit suffered an unbelievably similar fate - another natural 20, but for 8 points of damage, and he ended up flying back towards Waldu.

Kroyden dodged out of the way [Save vs. Dex], but Dleggit and Waldu ended up in a heap on the floor.

This left Sister Linkat as the front rank. [That was the end of the surprise round]

[Round 1. Party 3, Gnolls 6]

The gnoll that attacked Perceval followed right behind him and attacked again - 8 more points of damage [he was down to 2!], while the other attacked Sister Linkat and hit her for 6 points.

This was not going well.

Perceval managed to score a hit on his gnoll, but rolled a 1 for damage With his strength bonus, that yielded a whopping 3 points. The gnoll laughed its hyena-laugh at him.

Kroyden, who had planned to rush to join Sister Linkat, stopped himself mid-stride [Dex check], turned and struck the gnoll attacking Perceval, for another devastating [that's sarcasm] 3 points.  

[I always declare, i.e. type out, my party's actions before I roll initiative and if they want to change during the fight, they usually have to Save vs Dex. This keeps me honest and means meeting an unexpected threat isn't automatic.]

Dleggit quickly extricated himself from Waldu [another Dex check] and charged the gnoll facing Sister Linkat. His dwarven blood pumped with rage and his war hammer caved  in the gnoll's chest. It gurgled it's final blood filled breath and crumpled.

Good fortune struck the next round, and Perceval killed "his" gnoll without anyone taking any further damage. He who laughs last, does indeed laugh best.

Immediately, Sister Linkat set about casting her 2 cure light wounds spells: one for Perceval and the other for Dleggit. Neither one was brought back to full HP, but Dleggit was at least close.

The decision to leave the dungeon for another day was unanimous.

[Except, it was time for a wandering monster check: Roll 1d6, 1. Crap.]

Before the party could exit the room, two more gnolls rushed in. Seeing the bodies on the ground didn't help the party's cause. [Immediate attack]

At least they weren't surprised this time and the gnolls didn't roll natural 20s to start things off.

This time the party opted for a fighting retreat - and the gnolls chose not to pursue beyond the room. [That decision was made by the dice per Labyrinth Lord]

As they dragged their weary bodies back to the Zealous Dagger, Dleggit observed, "Perhaps maybe it is not such a bad idea to wait and see how we fair hiring some men-at-arms."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Martian Tripod? Control Battalion Walker?

Did some scavenging in a pile of junk that Lady Shadowmoss was getting rid of and found this hi-tech bit of Martian technology:

The above is made from an old ball-type mouse (as opposed to a laser mouse) and a small desktop mic or camera tripod.  It stands about 5 inches tall.

With a snip of the cable and a suitable paint job, I can use it for VSF or Far Future sci-fi games. And since the tripod fits inside the hole for the ball,  no gluing is required. This means the mouse can function as a scout ship of some sort.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Ever Expanding Dungeon: Session 14

Back in town, the party opted to rest for a few days. Sister Linkat had her duties to the townsfolk, in the name of the Hedonistic Lumberjack, to tend to and Perceval needed to heal a bit.

As luck, fate, chance, the mysterious workings of an uncaring universe would have it, etc.,  one night at the tavern, Perceval and Dleggit were chatting with some of the regulars when they noticed a stranger at the end of the bar. A few pints and some hearty laughs later, the lanky, but nimble, Kroyden (T:1), formerly of the Fiery Mines, was invited to join the party.

Sister Linkat approached Waldu about coming with them again to carry torches if needed and to handle the mule. He agreed, for a greater price: 10 gp up front, and 10 gp on his return and twice that to be paid to his family in the event of his death: a fortune for a commoner, but not unreasonable given the risk. Sister Linkat agreed, and bought him a club and shield for his personal protection and as an act of good will.

While reviewing the map, Perceval noticed a corridor that the party had missed. It was an obvious choice for the next expedition, as was the decision to enter the dungeon via the entrance immediately adjoining the passage.


Setting off at dawn (as usual) the party arrived at the dungeon and organized themselves to emphasize caution - Kroyden, relatively unencumbered in his leather armor, would scout ahead, report back to the group and a decision would be made - at which point, the party would advance and Kroyden would scout still further ahead. When the metal-armored party members and mule advanced, Perceval would tap ahead with the 10' pole - in case Kroyden missed a pit trap that his light weight wouldn't trip.

At the first door they encountered, Kroyden searched it for traps and did not find any [I then checked to see if the door was trapped and it wasn't. 

How did I do this? I made up a new table as I find the D30 DM's Companion a bit confusing:

1- Unlocked, not trapped

2-3 Unlocked but stuck
4-5 Locked , not trapped
6 Locked and trapped

I rolled a 5. So he then tried to pick the lock. Another fail.

After struggling with the lock, Kroyden admitted defeat and the party switched into door-smashing order, with Dleggit and Perceval in the front. When the door flew open, the party was surprised by the sight of 3 gnolls [d30 DM Companion] in the process of setting up a monument to dead warriors of their clan, mixing up red paint to throw on the pile of armor and bones. [Rolled Rory's cubes: scarab beetle, helm, knocking over a beaker]

[Reaction: 11, unfriendly, may attack. Rolled action die: Exiting/entering a room]

The gnolls appeared angered by the intrusion, but ducked quickly out a door in the northeast corner of the room.

Kroyden searched the pile of bones and armor while the others guarded the entrances . The haul was a whopping 8 gp and 4 ep.

Perceval suggested they avoid following the gnolls as it could be a trap, but Dleggit, being an adventurous sort, wanted to chase down the gnolls before they had a chance to alert any comrades to the party's presence.

Sister Linkat and Kroyden sided with Perceval [resolved group decision using the method presented in a previous post, and got an exceptional No, which I took to mean the party would not venture through that door anytime soon] and the party used the paint to mark the door the gnolls exited through, for future reference.

Some time later, after finding a set of stairs up and a dead end, at another door, Kroyden heard sounds emanating from behind it. Rather than spend time lock picking, the party again assumed door-smashing order and proceeded to force open the door.

They would have preferred to have seen the gnolls.

With a snarl, a large owl bear, apparently being used to prevent access to the doors opposite the party, lunged towards them. Fortunately its chain prevented it from following the party as they fell back.

There was still one more door in the "gnoll shrine room" to explore and so they doubled back there. Unfortunately, the gnolls were there again and more than a little ticked off that the party had stolen the coins from their shrine.

It was a slogging match between the three gnolls on one side and Perceval, Dleggit and Sister Linkat on the other (Kroyden was tasked with maneuvering Waldu and the mule to a safe spot and protecting them). When it was over, Dleggit was down to 4 HP and Sister Linkat was down to 6 HP.

She opted to heal Dleggit but felt her wounds weren't serious enough. A thought she'd come to regret in a few moments, when, a giant crab spider hoping for an easy meal dropped onto her from the ceiling above.

With total surprise achieved, it struck her first, and it's bite manged to find an opening. The Hedonistic Lumberjack was on her side that day as she made her save [thanks to the +2 bonus on the save].

What happened next is an embarrassment to all concerned.

The spider struck Sister Linkat again, but this time could not find a place to sink its mandibles. Sister Linkat for her part, tried to throw the spider off her but could not pry it loose. Perceval rushed over to try and pull it off of her, but his grip slipped and he fell backwards some 5 feet before landing on his back. Dleggit, who had been planning to attack the spider once the others had gotten it on the ground, stopped himself mid stride, turned to attack and managed to send his shield clattering across the ground.

[that's right, two fumbles]

Perceval managed to tear the spider from Sister Linkat and hurl it to a corner. Immediately Dleggit charged it and swinging wildly, managed to wound himself! [yet another fumble. for 3 points of damage to himself!]

Fortunately, both the dwarf and the fighter redeemed themselves somewhat by killing the giant arachnid. Eventually.

Sister Linkat healed Dleggit again, and suggested that perhaps they should abandon today's expedition.

Perceval agreed with her [she was down to 6 hit points, less than half of her starting]
Kroyden was OK with it either way and Dleggit had seen enough for today [I figured since he needed two Cure Light Wounds, and would be dead if not for Sister Linkat, he wouldn't object].

On the way back, a thought occurred to Perceval, "What if we hire some folks to travel to the other towns nearby and post that we're hiring some mercenaries?"

The party made little head-way, and while there was no real test of it, I think the extra caution they're showing will greatly improve their chance of survival.

I do need to tweak my XP award method. Sister Linkat has reached 3rd level and Perceval is knocking on its door. Dleggit is about halfway to 2nd level after two sessions. 

I used Basic Fantasy for the room stocking this time around, just to change things up.

The idea for the mercenaries was inspired by a chance reading of the page on wages for mercenaries.

Lady Shadowmoss is out of town this week, so I will have a chance to play session 15 sooner rather than later.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Friday Night WWII Skirmish + Simple Rules

France, 1944: American troops assault a German-held farm house.

On Friday night, I found myself with a small amount of time to play a game and so opted to put my new and simple house (with a stone wall built just for the purpose) onto the new tabletop (well, painted MDF resting on my desk). 

The setup was Mission 1 from the Nuts! 2.0 rule-book,which is the same scenario that was provided in the free MG-42 rules from THW several years back.

I ran it first with Nuts! 2.0 rules and, as I still had some time when it was over, I decided to make up rules using USR  as the base (I was too lazy to dig out the polyhedral dice). Both games were German victories.

Simple Quickly-Generated WWII Skirmish Rules:

Individual Stats
HP: d6

Roll 2d6 for each figure. 
Figures activate in descending order.
Ties activate simultaneously (wait to apply results until all with same score have finished)For 2-man MG-42  team, use the higher of the two initiative results.

Determine difficulty level (from USR rules) for achieving that distance, roll 2d6, if score = or higher, then success. For avg  or short distances (in my case, I used 8" as the base-line) I just move the figures without a roll.

Opportunity fire: If an enemy figure moves into LOS, then determine difficulty level (from USR rules) for getting a shot off at the target. Roll 2d6, if score = or higher, then resolve combat per below.

Attack: d6 + weapon bonus + specialism bonus if applicable - penalty for shooter movement if applicable

Defense: d6 + cover bonus if applicable + bonus if target is running or crawling.

If Attack is higher than Defense, subtract Defense from Attack and difference is the damage applied to target's HP. If HP reduced to 0, target is dead.

Movement penalty (for shooter): -1 if walking, -2 if crawling/running
Running/Crawling bonus for target: +1
Bolt-action rifle: +0
Semi-auto rifle: +1
SMG: +2
LMG: + 3
Grenade: + 3
Forest: + 1
Behind Wall: +1
Inside building: +2

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Ever Expanding Dungeon: First Level Map, Incomplete?

I had two surprises this weekend. The first was finding out that Hexographer has a cousin called Dungeonographer, and it too is available in a free version. The second came while plotting out the first level of The Ever Expanding Dungeon into something I could share here: the party isn't done with this level!

Even the completely oblivious can't help but notice the large amount of grey in the lower right corner. The passage there has never been explored!

There are also two doors that have never been opened and probably won't be - one is off the evil priest's chamber and the other off the throne room of the "mad king."

The green areas represent exits/entrances.
For the curious, the room in the upper right corner is the one that has contained goblins, a giant spider and bugbears. On my map, that's room 17.

I also noticed that there really aren't that many traps. My perception must have been skewed by the fact that multiple PCs have died in the pit trap just beyond room 17.

Dungeonographer has some limitations, such as not having a symbol for a one way secret door, covered pits, or any symbol for an exit to the surface world.

Still, for free, it's a great little program and it does just what it sets out to do. Both it and Hexographer have the added bonus that they run on my netbook - on which I'm running SimplyMEPIS as my OS.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Toy-style House for About a Dollar

1/32 WWII U.S. Figures by TSSD

Materials: foamcore, white glue, white gesso (to seal the foamcore and more importantly to give it some texture), cheap-o craft paint (mixed with a lot of water to make a translucent stain), an ultra-fine Sharpie (my writing implement of choice)

Total time: about 60 minutes from start to finish over two days - that includes waiting for layers of the "stain"to dry. Most of it was done today during my lunch break. 

The roof is removable and there is a "floor" so figures can be placed on the 1st or 2nd level.
I know it's not for everyone, but the look is exactly what I was going for : toy-like and functional. Plus, I can knock out a bunch of these as needed with relative ease.

I hope to get it out on the table tonight for a small skirmish - possibly a replay of the Nuts! 2.0 core rules infantry scenario. I do need to hack together a suitable stone wall from some foam core (an L-shaped assembly, painted grey and using the Sharpie to indicate stones) but that won't take long.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

New Year, New (Social) Game with USR: First Session!

On Sunday night, Lady Shadowmoss and I played the inaugural session of my New Year, New Game project. As I find it easier to reference projects/games if they have a name, we’ll call this the “Wasteland game.”

Setting background:

Jagged black rock formations rise to meet a fiery sky - thick plumes of black smoke rise from distant peaks. There are no suns, no stars, no moons visible through the thick haze above. This is a barren desolate land of red earth, of twisted leafless trees reaching for a sky that shuns their advance, of murky grey seas lapping at forgotten shores. It is an unforgiving place that permits life but does not give to it gratuitously.

The empires of man fell long ago, and cyclopean ruins bear witness to the forces of terror and destruction that was their undoing.

Yet, there is still some hope in the world.

A few human cities fleck the landscape - centres of commerce, study and often strictly enforced laws, built on or near natural resources. Many humans congregate in these places for the easy access to food, shelter and security. However, far more spend their lives in the vast harsh expanse, the Waste, by birth, by choice or as punishment.

Some among the people of the Waste have taken to extortion, raiding, and brutality, their leaders are want-to-be kings without countries, warlords of the wastelands. Clashes between warlords are frequent and violent. Others care little about claims to land or ruling over a populace, and only seek to capture and sell others into slavery or sacrifice to foul and evil entities.
As detailed in the previous post on this campaign, Lady Shadowmoss is playing “Jade”, daughter of a warlord, and born with an innate ability for technomancy. The latter is nebulously defined and is something we hope to explore and develop during play.


Our adventure began with Jade arriving at the ruins of Parth, an ancient city now rolling hills of rubble. Upon climbing a tall heap of stone, she saw, in the distance, dark figures following her trail. She immediately took to searching the ruins for a suitable hiding place.

She found it in an ancient armory tended for eternity by an immobile robotic clerk - a chrome head and torso fixed to a damaged and rotting dais,with thick cables and wire running to the wall behind it. Unable to understand its request for a pass code, and with the timer obviously running (its eyes turned yellow, then red, then began to flash), she removed her gloves and grabbed hold of the thing. A surge of electrical power from her overloaded the robot’s circuits, frying it in the process, but opening up a panel in the wall behind it.

Behind the panel, looming from the depths of a deep shaft, stood the head and shoulders of a large robot-looking suit of armor (think giant mech anime). Here Lady Shadowmoss’s eyes lit up like the proverbial kid in a candy store. Unfortunately, Jade’s power was insufficient, and too erratic, to do more than bring some of the gauges to a dim glow. Even if she could have powered the suit, she lacked the knowledge to control it. In any event, she opted to spend the night inside the suit.

In the light of day, she went scavenging for a weapon and took to using her stealth to follow a stooped, hooded, individual pulling a cart full of junk - Amid, the beast man merchant of the ruins.

When Amid was ambushed by mutated gnolls (yellow skinned and covered with hideous lesions), Jade was caught up in the conflict. Between them, they killed the four mutant attackers - thanks in no small part to Amid’s skill with a firearm.

A brief dialog ensued, and Jade found that Amid had several items in his cart of use to her - including a section of metal pipe (treat as a club and +2 weapon), a medkit and a device that looked like something she might be able to use her power with (she does not know what it is at this time though). Lacking anything suitable to trade, she agreed to Amid’s deal: deliver a bale of wire to a particular recipient within the ruins and the items would be hers.

As Jade approached the site of the drop-off, a hovering metallic football shaped object whirred into view and cast its spotlight on her.

[that’s where I ended the session]

Some thoughts:

Lady Shadowmoss and I both enjoyed the session which is good enough for me.

I had intended for a dark tone, but we quickly fell into the humor that pervades almost all games I have ever participated in and that went out the window. In my defense, she started cracking the jokes before I did.

To prepare for the game, I created a number of fall back encounters, but created no particular plot or story, other than the set up. I planned to improvise scenes based on Lady Shadomoss’s actions, using the encounters I created ahead of time to fill in when I was at a loss. The trade for the items on Amid’s cart, for example, was not conceived of before hand, but Amid himself was something I had already created.

USR rose to the occasion and easily handled everything Lady Shadowmoss wanted to do. My only complaint, which is minor, is that the initiative system in USR is slow when there are a number of combatants. I don’t like to have the PCs always go first, nor do I want to use a fixed order after every participant rolls the first time, but rolling for everyone every round can be tedious. I don’t know what the answer is because the last option gives the in-play result I prefer.

Perhaps I could deal cards instead? Except that undermines the advantage of a better Action/Wits combo.

Monday, March 4, 2013

One of Those Updates Where I Lump Stuff Together

In addition to contemplating the death rates in The Ever Expanding Dungeon, I've been working on a couple of other projects, one of which I've mentioned before, and one I haven't (at least not on here).

The first is the Great Northern War project. The Kievski battalion is coming along, albeit slowly.

I haven't been happy with the last few painting session results.

Part of it is my brush - I switched brushes between the last batch and the start of the Kievski unit. The feel is dramatically different than the Army Painter brushes I had been using (which I was trying out to see if they were any better than my usual brush choices).

The bummer is that I have used this brush (well, not this specific brush, but this brand, model and size) before, for my USMC and Japanese infantry last year, so I like them, but it's taking more time than I thought to get used to them again.

The frustration is hindering my enjoyment and I'm tempted to order another set of the Army Painter brushes (they fell apart after the 4th regiment was finished).

The second project is taking a lot of my spare time, and hence the (relative) silence here.

When I was contemplating what I wanted to do in 2013, generally speaking, not hobby focused, I realized that I really wanted to make a dead-tree zine.

This has been something I have wanted to do since I first encountered zines in the mid-90s with titles like Dumpster Diver, Dishwasher and the very well known, incredibly long-running Cometbus.

A feeble attempt was made in 1996, which I had dubbed Bored, but it never saw the light of day because I was bored and the content reflected that, i.e. not very interesting reading for others.

I continued to collect zines and even incorporated them into projects when I was in grad school for my MSLS. The idea of publishing one never died, but I could never figure out just what the focus would be.

Until I stumbled upon the RPG zine renaissance last year and became totally inspired.

So yes, I'll be putting yet another game-related zine out there, hopefully by the end of May.

It will likely have a "punk rock" or "lo-fi" asthetic, cut and paste with scissors and glue, hand bound with dental floss and illustrated crudely, as that's what I like and feel expresses what i want to express, but hopefully the content will appeal to people even if they don't like the way it looks.

As I plan to give it away for free (at least a limited number of copies),  I'm not worried about the effect on sales.

Oh, and Saturday night, I finished painting up the MDF for my new wargaming setup. They might need a second coat, but frankly, I'm too anxious to push some plastic or lead across them to do that!

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Ever Expanding KILLER Dungeon?

Bluebear Jeff noted the following in the comments to my last dungeon crawl post:

23 characters have entered the dungeon.
17 are dead
2 left the party
4 remain active
And here's what killed the 17:
Combat -- 7
Pit traps -- 5
Gas traps -- 3
Dart traps -- 2

I thought I'd throw up a few more stats and other info in the interest of benefiting other delvers out there.

Character Generation:
  • All PCs begin with their maximum HP value +/- Constitution modifiers. 
  • PCs are rolled up in a variety of methods which I have so far failed to track: 3d6 in order, 3d6 b/x method, 4d6 drop lowest in order or via the D30 DM Companion.
  • 0-level Hirelings got 1d4 and whatever I rolled and sometimes that was pretty bad.

Class Breakdown of Those KIA:
  • Fighter -- 5
  • Magic-User -- 3
  • Cleric -- 2
  • Thief -- 1
  • Elf -- 1
  • Normal Human -- 4
Stat Averages of Those PCs KIA:
  • STR: 14.61
  • INT: 11.31
  • WIS: 11.15
  • DEX: 12.54
  • CON: 12.08
  • CHR: 13.23
So, in other words, the average party member is an attractive/likable individual stronger than average with a bonus to attack and damage, with most other abilities on the high side of average.

HP for those KIA:
  • Average hit points per PC -- 6.85
  • Average hit points per Fighter -- 7.83
  • Average hit points per hireling -- 1.75
And the Rest:

Of the two characters that left the party, 1 was an NPC that the party couldn't afford to hire again (and given Perceval's terrible charisma, wouldn't work for him anyway. Sister Linkat didn't have the money at the time, but he might work for her, as her CHR is better). The other was a thief, who, given her back story, did the right thing by leaving.

Of the four that remain active, two became part of the party last session, and one of those is an NPC, who may or may not stay on.


Four of those KIA were knocked out during adventures outside the dungeon, so that means the dungeon has only killed 13 characters. Only.

This seems rather high to me - especially because I make a habit of having the party run away rather than fight it out when they're outmatched.

But then, if you look, you realize that 10 of the 17 were killed by traps, and all but one of those were within the dungeon. Since I'm using the ratio monsters/traps/specials/empty suggested in Moldvay, I thought back on other games I've played, and rarely can I recall traps being so prevalent, especially pit traps(50% of traps so far).

And that points to my random generator, which, up to four times per deck, will yield a hall trap, 50% of those will be pits. Perhaps that's the problem. That and at least one pit claimed multiple lives, even after the PCs knew it was there.

It goes without saying that I'd love to hear others thoughts on this. And if you want any stat I didn't provide, but think I'm likely to have, please ask.

My own conclusion is that it looks like I may need to adjust the dungeon generator again, and employ more 10' poles.