Friday, July 20, 2018

Pirates of Treasure Island Kickstarter

I think I have enough pirates - and I have some Treasure Island-themed pirates already. But still tempting:

Thursday, July 19, 2018

What use is Sex Appeal in a dungeon?

This came up in an email.

What use is Sex Appeal in a dungeon?

Offhand, I can think of a few uses:

- getting a positive - very positive - reaction from NPCs of an interested sex, be they man or be they man-like.

- distracting foes

- inspiring NPC hirelings

- annoying players running female elves with a good roll to disrupt their rolls against you.

If that's not worth a point or two, what is?

Apropos the skill name, back in Rolemaster, there was a skill called "Seduction." I always liked that name better than "Sex Appeal." It just felt more broad, and yet more nuanced. I'd change the name but it messes with bookkeeping for no good reason.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Crossbow house rule for AD&D

One thing I never liked in AD&D was that crossbows are the much-poorer cousin to bows. Maybe Gary Gygax was really swayed by those accounts of Crecy, but it seems odd that crossows are basically slower, weaker bows. So much so that no one ever took them until I made some house rules.

Here they are:

Heavy Crossbow: 2-7 vs. S-M, 1-6 vs. L, ROF 1
Light Crossbow: 2-5 vs. S-M, 1-4 vs. L, ROF 2

Range, cost, etc. are the same.

The heavy crossbow is now a once-a-round weapon that does superior damage on that single hit to the bow. Still not as good as a bow, since 2 x 1-6 is better than 1 x 2-7, but it's not a completely inferior choice. Items like the Crossbow of Speed move this up to ROF 2.

I used to run it with ROF 1 for both of them, but I find the light crossbow needs some help to be a valid choice. And "Crossbow" is one proficiency in my games, such that proficiency matters.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Talk about your hobbies at work

This is the second time* my hobbies will get me unrelated work.

I was chatting with a client who was slogging through some necessary but boring work capacity development. Aka, walking on an inclined treadmill. We were discussing having stuff, and having stuff that's hard to move around.

So naturally I mentioned my minis collection. Hard to move around, important to me, and irreplaceable if sold off.

I could have said, I collect figures, or I have some toys, or whatever. But I said, I paint miniature gaming figures.

"Oh, that's exactly what my son did. He used to play Warhammer."

Heh. I said, "That's exactly the kind of figures I paint - plastic and metal 28mm miniatures. I don't play Warhammer, but I know it."

That led right to my client saying that she'd mention that to her son, as she'd like him to train with me for a while, and he'd be really interested to know I was a minis collector and painter and gamer.

It's interesting to find out who overlaps your hobbies.

So, my advice? Let people know what you play. It could lead places unrelated to gaming.

* The previous time? I mentioned to one of my occasional clients (not mine, someone I'd cover when her trainer couldn't make her session) that I grew up playing role-playing games. She told her son, and that was the clincher for him coming in to try out training. Not often you associate "role-playing gamer" and "personal trainer" but they pair up in me just like "I've written game books you can find on" and "I've fought full contact."

Monday, July 16, 2018

Line Painting & Finishing Up Guys I Don't Like

Some line painting today:

Those six guys came out blurry in the shot but you can see they mostly have their base coats on.

Next up:

- the head on the standard.

- their shields, off the figures first.

- mount the shields.

- wash with a brown or black magic wash (maybe both) to deepen all of the colors.

I like these figures. I didn't have any fun at all painting them.

They're all done, except:

- the shellbacks need a magic wash to protect the paints and bring out the depth.

- the mangator needs his eyes done, and then a magic wash.

It's too humid to do a wash now, I think.

Last couple hours of Advanced Labyrinth Lord

Last couple of hours on this Kickstarter. If you like Labyrinth Lord (basically, a B/X D&D derivative) and Advanced Edition Companion (a B/X derivative version of AD&D, basically), this is a one-book compilation of both books.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

What spells do DF wizards need in Felltower?

Following up on my own post, what spells do DF wizards need in Felltower?

This list obvious is much different than it would have been in the past. It's based very heavily on current needs and situations the PCs face now.

Levitate. This is a critical spell because "easy" access to the dungeon now involves a fair amount of climbing. Even fairly solid Climbing isn't enough to ensure a risk-free entrance to the dungeon. Plus, hauling out loot, wounded comrades, monsters bits that the PCs are sure will sell, etc. This is one the party needs. Wizards love it for gliding around "out of harm's way," which largely isn't true, but still.

Missile Shield. This is less critical because of the increasing prevalence of missiles the spell won't or can't stop, such as meteoric iron bullets for slings and prodds and area-effect attacks. But it is what keeps your wizard from being pincushioned by the all-too-real threat of orcish arrows and poisoned crossbow bolt traps.

Scry Gate. Gates are a major part of Felltower, and the path to real riches and success lays in going through them. Going completely uninformed is foolish, however, and risky.

Seek Gate. Useful mainly to find a gate in a new area. It's on the list of very important spells to have.

Shape Earth. If you can't shape stone obstacles out of the way, you will slow down the party significantly. Or make some exits impossible!

Note this automatically means you know Seek Earth. Good thing, you need that, too.

Finally, a fire or acid spell very useful. Fire more than acid, but you need one. There are a number of things that can't be fully defeated without burning damage or corrosion damage.

Looking over the PCs and the dungeon, those seem to be the "show up with these or don't show up" level of magic. Not everyone can and will start with all of these, but you need some. A complete wizard will eventually want to know them all.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Kickstarter Ending Soon: Hall of Judgment for DFRPG

I'd like to amplify the signal on this Kickstarter that is ending soon:

Doug's Hall of Judgment for the Dungeon Fantasy Role-Playing Game. It is an excellent supplement from what I've seen. Doug always makes very high-quality books. And if you support this, you're supporting GURPS and the Dungeon Fantasy Role-Playing Game alike. So, please do that.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Kickstarter Ending Soon: Advanced Labyrinth Lord

Less than 72 hours to go in this one that I backed:

I figured I'd post it and make sure no one missed it who is interested.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

What spells do DF wizards need?

After re-reading For Want of Dispel Magic, I was thinking, what do DF wizards need to bring to the table?

Not want, not desire, not build around, but capital-N need to have in order to do their job?

These are spells that I feel do things that you can't easily do another way.

In no particular order:

Dispel Magic and Counterspell. You need to be able to counter magical effects. If they best you can hope for is "maybe he'll snap out of it" or "maybe the spell will run out" or "let's try putting sunglasses on him" you're probably hosed. You need to be able to counter spell effects.

Mage Sight. Although you can generally spot magic items with just Magery and Per, this is a simple, foolproof way to check for them. Don't depend on "I can spot magic items" to spot all magic, either. "More reliable" is worth one damn point. Spend it.

See Secrets. Yes, the Scout and Thief spot stuff without this. They'll spot everything with it.

Remove Curse. If it's not placed on the "cleric only" list, this is a must-have. Be able to remove lasting, curse-like effects - like Curse or Possession spells.

(Forgot one: Continual Light. For the love of everything that is delving, be able to create a lasting light source.)

Campaign matters, too. Felltower rewards Seek Earth, Scry Gate, and Levitate pretty well. But the few above are one that, when PCs lack them, they lack the ability to usefully do things that only wizards can do. What else is on the "must have" list? Not types - I don't mean "some kind of missile spell" but specific spells.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

840+ hours of DF

I was just updating the DF Campaign page and thought about about much DF we've played.

We usually play for about 8 hours. It's very rarely less, it's often more. So, conservatively we've play 840 hours of DF. It's probably much close to 1000 than that, though. I'm counting a few sessions I knew were closer to 10 hours and a few 12+ hour sessions as 8 here.

I think I'm going to put myself down as "very experienced" in running Felltower, and "experienced" in running DF in general.

I'm just sorry I haven't been able to find more hours to play in.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Status of the Ken Shabby Memorial

It's time for a Tenkar-style look at the status of the Ken Shabby Chainsaw Bear Memorial Statue Fund.

Here is Ken Shabby himself, poised with mighty spells to destroy his foes. Sadly, ogres turned out to be immune to magic, and he was slain. Perhaps struck down, only to return stronger than before?

Nope, just struck down.

But how about that fund?

Current plans include a full-sized chainsaw bear style statue of Ken Shabby. It will be the centerpiece of a trio of mages facing a wall listing all of the mages slain in Felltower.

Current assets: 0 sp.

Total assets raised: 0 sp.

Assets looted from Felltower since the plans were made: Many tens of thousands of sp.

The status of the Ken Shabby Chainsaw Bear Memorial Statue isn't positive. On the bright side, it's not so much "in the red" as "not in existence" sense.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Pre-gens, chargen, and Dork Tower

So as I'm spending timing thinking about how to do characters for my next side foray into 1st edition AD&D (motto: needless complexity can be yours!), there is a well-timed bit of warped Catholic theology about rolled-but-unused characters:

Click along, it keeps going from there.

So how are we going to do the characters for C2?

I had some thoughts:


The module comes with pregens . . . but only five. It has a whole story woven into those five, too, but the story drops away as soon as you enter the dungeon. That's not a big worry. I do need more than five, though.

I thought of using other pregens. The A-series has good characters - and nine of them - but they're short a bit on levels. I may save them for when/if I get to run A3 and then A4, which I think would also be a fun side game. The ones in S4 are too high level, the ones in I1 are a bit iffy in terms of power distribution. No one wants to be a 3rd level C/M-U with 9 hp.

Roll Our Own

We could do that, using the experience of WPM and Appendix P, and probably go with the roll-six-sets-of-4d-drop-lowest and use Appendix C to give them magic items.

I'd be tempted to use the "buy your equipment" magic item list in C2, but that will take at least an hour of discussion, and endless minutes of "Who has the Sword +3?" followed by "No, remember, we decided to get a Sword +2 instead, and use the extra money on a Potion of Flying." "Who has that?" "It got broken, remember?" Aargh. At least if I hand it out, it's just out there.

So I am leaning toward the roll up six sets and equip from Appendix C.

What level? Depends on a few things.

Level Issues

If the module is scaled for five guys around level 7 or so, then eight-ten players with level 7 or so PCs means the module isn't going to give them as much of a challenge. But if I lower them down too much, they'll lose out on higher-level spells which can be critical to dealing with some situations. Potentially. I am not cleverly giving stuff away here, or cleverly avoiding doing so. I haven't re-read the module in enough depth to do that. I'm just saying, if they expect you'll have level 4 spells and you don't, that could be an issue.

The old AD&D pregren thing of mixed-level groups is nice, but who wants to be the lower-level guy? If I let someone be M-U 7 but the second M-U is only 5, that's probably fair to the module but not so fun for the level 5 guy. We'll do that in Barrier Peaks (we'll use those pregens) but not here.

Also, I need to know how many players, so I can distribute XP accordingly. We're so far out we don't know. I'll have to pick a date soon, so we can get on this.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Current Complicating Connections of Fellower

We're currently on a short lull in gaming in Felltower, thanks mainly to my schedule (unavailable for three straight weekends.)

But I think it might be interesting to list of the connected moving parts that are giving my players fits in Felltower. I'm using their terms of the levels, here, irrespective of how I actually label them.

The Surface

There are basically only two ways into the dungeon, now. The main entrance, and the tower entrance.

The PCs abandoned and lost their ladder-turned-bridge a few sessions back. The tower entrance is heavily built, and if it's locked from within it harms those who try to open it. They haven't found a way to destroy the entrance's lock.

There were at least two other ways in within the castle. The PCs destroyed the well entrance, so the orcs plugged it up with refuse and wreckage. It's clearable with a lot of manual labor that no one is willing to do. They haven't located where under the ruins the other one is, although they found those stairs when they found the Choke brothers.

The castle itself used to be an easy walk-in, over ruined walls and an open gate. They destroyed the gate in the down position (!), and the orcs repaired the walls to a sufficient extent that the PCs need to climb.

Outside the castle is the bugbear entrance, but that was filled with earth last time they checked. Someone or something collapsed it.

Level 1

The Orcs. They've been relatively quiet, but they are there and potentially can attack the party as they limp home or if they futz around too much on level 1.

Level 2

More orcs here - the "orc hole" is on this level. Orcs don't seem to patrol the area by the door to the Giant Fantastic Staircase, but they are close by.

The draugr are off of this level.

Stirges still hassle the PCs periodically thanks to an infestation near the connection to level 1.

Level 3

There is a way in from outside, through the dragon's lair. But the whole of level 3 accessible from there is a series of dead-ends, connecting back to a heavily orc-held area of level 2. The orcs have put up multiple blockages to make even getting to them involve heavy digging.

Level 4

The norkers and gnolls and ogres were cleared out. But the gnome (?) is still on the loose. The PCs have a key they believe is to a pair of massive doors, but can't find the keyhole. In addition, those doors are very close to the biggest complicating factor - The Lord of Spite.

There is a black reaver down on that level, which the PCs managed to trigger. They're not sure if it's patrolling around or not. That complicates getting to a number of areas nearby.

There is a sinkhole to a "massive treasure" but it sits on top of a mobile floor. The sinkhole is near some areas with monsters, too, so it's not an easy exploration.

The hallway near Phase Snake Junction has some obsidian golems in it, and the PCs can't figure out a way to clear them on the cheap (aka, one at a time, by attacking first.)

ALL of this is subject to the Lord of Spite. Although a lot of discussion centers around him "sleeping" in his "apartment," he moves around a lot. He could intervene in any of these situations, not just the one near his "apartment complex."

Level Mungo

The PCs can get to this level by swimming and breathing water. The level is probably lethal for most of them.


Those seem to be the open complications.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Next AD&D - Decided!

It looks like our next AD&D gamne will be a run-through of C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness.

G1-3 actually had a lot of votes, but some players have an issue with the time - probably 2-3 sessions per adventure, with three adventures.

No one asked for S1 Tomb of Horrors.

And one player has played in, and GMed, T1 The Village of Hommlet multiple times. I'm not sure that would hurt, but it certainly wouldn't help his enjoyment.

So it will probably be C2.

C2 comes with five pre-gens, but it's likely that we'll have more than five players. So I'll apportion out XP like I did for S2 White Plume Mountain and allow people to generate characters.

Magic items will be done in the style of the original adventure - a pile of cash to use to select magic items by value. That should be fun. Originally it's 25,000 gp. But perhaps I'll do 5,000 x the number of PCs, or some lesser amount (more PCs is more power anyway).

I'll take a run through the adventure and decide how to structure it, but it's likely I'll use the tournament encounters only to speed the group's progress through.

Look for a game of this in late Summer.

Friday, July 6, 2018

How current are rumors?

I hand out a lot of rumors in my Felltower game.

How current are rumors?

Some Rumors Age

Some of the rumors in the game are time-limited. They provide information, probably old by the time you hear it, about something that is subject to change.

Oddball "I'm calling you from a café about 10 miles south of Mesurier. I wondered if you could do me a favor?"
Bellamy: "Mesurier? I got a map here someplace that says we haven't even captured that place yet!"
Oddball: "Yeah, so I heard. Everybody seems very friendly."

- Oddball and Bellamy, in Kelly's Heroes

It's usually easy to spot these. They refer to current events, recent happenings, and the actions of people who may come and go. They may age (and I'll take unheard but now aged rumors off the list, if necessary.)

Some Are History

Some rumors simply refer to the past. They don't reflect any current situation. They age, per se, but the information was already old. Rumors about the history of Felltower, of past adventurers, of lost civilizations and races, etc. refer to events already past. They may turn out to be false or too old (the lost sword was found, the dragon was slain, etc.) but they provide a basic understanding of the world of the past.

Some are Timeless

Some of them refer to foundational elements of the world or the game. They don't actually come with a time limit. Rumors about monster weaknesses, strange varieties of magic items, mystic pools, etc. are like this. They probably don't change.

"It's timeless, like a fine watch." - paraphrasing Zonker Harris (IIRC)

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Brief reflections on levels for our AD&D game

When we play AD&D next:

Low vs. High Level

I think low-level play and high-level play are equally unforgiving in some respects. Low-level because a single mistake can cost your irreplaceable resources or kill your character. High-level because you have more resources but if you aren't clever about how to use them - or experienced in what's actually needed and what isn't - the higher-level threats can end you or cost you resources you need to solve a problem.

Mid Level Sweet Spot?

For people new to AD&D, mid-levels seem to be okay. You have enough HP and spells to get some stuff done but also not to die in a single good roll by the DM.

Very High Level is Tricky

Unless you scale down the opposition, very high level play is tough. When we played GURPS Dungeon Fantasy for the first time, it helped that we had PCs who badly outmatched the other side. That way while the players were learning what the power level played like, they had wiggle room on inefficient tactics and on weaker foes. In AD&D, if I toss level 14+ characters at my players and then expect them to deal with level-appropriate challenges, that's asking a lot. They just aren't as familiar with the play of the game. We witnessed that in White Plume Mountain, too, where resources were occasionally frittered away, it was hard to get used to HP as something you couldn't heal back up with rest and time in the dungeon, and then resources were husbanded when they could have been most efficiently expended.

So I think of the three, mid-level is the most forgiving for relative newbies.

All of that said, if the players vote on, say, G1-3, we'll play at the appropriate level (which just might be the pregens, although they're a bit high-powered for G1 in my experience.) Tomb of Horrors will use the list of PCs in the back. C2 might be the best choice, but it may not be chosen. And that's okay. These are only paper men, making real memories.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Mead-Guzzling Mini for the Tavern Level

I have to get this guy ready for the fabled Tavern Level of Felltower.

I'm not saying the players are close, but hey, they could be.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What AD&D is next?

Since we had such a good time with White Plume Mountain, I asked my players about another round of AD&D. Here is what I put up on the list as options and my comment:

C2 Ghost Tower of Inverness (tournament style, with pre-gens)

G1-3 Against the Giants (we'd do them one after another)

S1 Tomb of Horrors (warning: not hack and slash. Come ready to think.)

For low-level fun:

T1 The Village of Hommlet (we'd skip the village except as background)

With T1 I'd say we'd make up guys you'd want to run again in the future. For the rest, pre-gens and one-shot guys.

We'll see what they choose, or should I say, what we agree on.

Some adventures I like but I rejected:

A1-4 - the Slavers Series - because most of my players have been through at least one of these modules. I may bust out A4 at some point, as I think it's a great adventure with an unearned bad reputation.

S4 Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (I used its central conceit as part of Felltower as a direct homage)

WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure (it's good for a smaller group, and we'd have between 7-10 PCs)

S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (too much prep for right now)

Return to White Plume Mountain (it's 2nd edition AD&D, so I'd need to fix it a little, and do a lot of re-reading.)

The Mud Sorcerer's Tomb (from Dungeon magazine - great stuff, too much prep.)

. . . and another Unearthed Arcana-era adventure that is too high level for my players. They just won't have the AD&D experience to really get much out of being high-level characters.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Ever run S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks?

I'm wondering if there is anyone who has run S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks straight-up, preferably with 1st edition AD&D. I have some questions and I'd love to see game summaries or hear feedback on it.

It's been on my "to run" list for a while, but the adventure seems like a difficult one for the GM - and for the GM to describe even given shared dungeon vocabulary. So if you have run it, or can point to a summary (not a review), that would be very helpful.

I'm specifically not looking for comments that contain spoilers for it - I'd be running it for my crew, some of whom are unfamiliar with it besides the basic concept. I am also not really looking for advice on mixing magic and tech. Just on the actual mechanics of running the module itself.

I do intend to run this at some point, with AD&D, once I feel like I have a good handle on how to do so. This is long-range planning as I'm too busy these days. But I have to start my long-range planning a long time ahead, right?

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Brother Ike's upgrade

Here is how I finally spent those points on Brother Iklwa that I'd mentioned in my post on spending points on allies.

1 point went to learn Swimming.

1 point each went to praying for Great Healing and Restoration

- 12 points went to raising Energy Reserve (Holy) 1 to 5.

In my opinion, those made significantly more sense than just raising Power Investiture. He really does need to pray for Remove Curse, but the two he learned were critical at this stage, and Great Healing was very close to being needed. He may get Protection from Evil at some point, but as soon as he does his primary mission will be "buff cleric" instead of "healing cleric" during combat with anything that just might turn out to be capital-E Evil. That would actually undermine his utility as a healer, in my opinion, as his pool of energy and the need to cast at penalties now already limits him.
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