Friday, April 21, 2017

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day 2017


Here is my small contribution to Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day.  


My current favorite of the Swords & Wizardry family is The Hero Journey Fantasy Roleplaying by James Spahn.  It is an offspring of S&W White Box and is flavored with a bit of The Lord of the Rings.  In THJ, Magic weapons are not only forged but can be created in a special way.  They can become infused with the magic of the heroic actions of their owners.  And sometimes they take on an aspect of a heroic deed.  So, a weapon that becomes magic when it is used to slay the orc chief may become particularly effective against orcs and gain the moniker “Orc-Bane”.  But what about weapons that are used by villainous non-humans? Do they absorb the essence of the vile actions of their owners?  I say yes!


Here is a d4 table of magic weapons that became magic through the actions of their horrible owners:


1:  Crotchsplitter (Shortsword +1/+2 against opponents more than two feet taller than its owner.)  This sword was used by the famed goblin king Gobsmack who led his goblin horde against the humans and fought the Battle of Snakeskin Pass.

2:  Spear of Morphos (Spear +2.  Allows its wielder to cast the Sleep spell once a day.)  Used by the hobgoblin warrior Grindtooth during his battles against the Cult of the Morphos, god of sleep and dreams.  It gained the power of sleep when Grindtooth spitted the high priest of Morphos at the altar of the largest Temple of Morphos in the world.

3:  Brainspatter (Mace +1)  Used by Grunzen the orc warrior to repeatedly, well, spatter brains.

4:  Backbiter (Dagger +1 Humanbane)  The favorite weapon of Bocaraton, the wererat, Scourge of the Eastern Cities.  Bocaraton embeded his dagger in the back of countless victims during his infamous career.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Martos the Scholar Redux

Almost 7 years ago I created a character named Martos the Scholar for Barbarians of Lemuria.  You can read about him here.  I was going through some old documents and discovered that I had written a bit of fiction about him.  I do not remember writing this at all and I don't know why I didn't include it in the original post.  Probably because it sucks.  What I wrote is the first part of Martos' conversation with the chancellor.  This leads to the second, unwritten part in which the chancellor orders Martos to Qeb to find the scrolls.  Of course the Valgardian will serve as the guide.  Anyway, here it is:

    "Lord Chancellor, the Lecturer Martos," the servant announced as he opened the door.
    Martos entered the chamber, eyes downcast as custom dictated.  The room was smaller than Martos had imagined it would be.  It was lined with stuffed bookcases and almost cozy.  The Chancellor sat behind a surprisingly utilitarian desk.
    "You summoned me, Milord?"
    "Yes, Lecturer.  How goes your history of Qeb"
    "Well, Milord.  It is nearly finished.  But..."  Martos paused, thinking about the the history he hoped would gain him a coveted professorship.
    The Chancellor raised an eyebrow.  "Continue."
    "It is the sources." Martos said as he unconsciously began to pace in front of the desk.  "They are so few and fragmentary.  And the translations are a crime.  I've had to retranslate everything in order to glean the true meaning of the writings."
    The Chancellor raised his hand.  "Be still, Lecturer."
    Martos stopped in midstep and looked about with a start.  "I'm sorry.  I..."
    The Chancellor smiled slightly.  "Do not worry.  We all become enthralled by our studies.  Look here."
    Martos stepped closer and looked at the lone sheet of parchment on the desk.  He unconsciously adjusted the reading lamp burning there and examined the sheet.  It was obviously old, crumbling at the edges.  He slowly began reading the faded script.
    "Ygddari," he muttered.  He continued to read then his eyes widened and he looked directly at the Chancellor.  "Can it be?  This is...Is it?"
    "Yes, it is."
    "How?  Where?"
    "It was one of those Valgardian barbarians who are always poking around in places best left undisturbed."
    "In Qeb?"
    "Yes, the brute was looking for trinkets to sell to help slake his prodigious thirst for wine and ale.  He actually found a few minor pieces and used this to wrap them.  The illiterate didn't even know that the scroll was the most valuable item he had found.  It was the merchant he sold the trinkets to who recognized it for what it is.  He sent it to us.  For a price, of course."
    "Milord, this is wonderful!  When can I translate the piece properly?  I'll need to make revisions to my manuscript.  This could change many things.  I wonder what..."
    "Martos," the Chancellor said quietly but firmly cut him off.  The fire in Martos' eyes faded as he refocused.  "Martos, there is more."
    Martos smiled.  "More, Milord?"
    "We tracked down the Valgardian.  There are more scrolls."
    Martos could not stand still.  His excitement was such that he began to pace again.
   

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Analysis Paralysis

So, I mentioned before that I have semi-committed myself to running a campaign for a group of co-workers.  This is the first time in nearly 20 years at my work location that there is a group of RPGers.  They are all in there twenties and have a Pathfinder background with there current campaign being 5e.  I'm always blathering about old-school this and OSR that and they called my bluff so here I am.

I still love this cover!
They all like The Lord of the Rings so I plan to use The Hero's Journey as the rules-set as it gives off that vibe.  I want to use my own setting so I have some basic, cliche background ideas.  Basically, 500 years ago the Golden Empire was assailed by the forces of the Dark Lord™ because, you know, Dark Lords can't abide peace and happiness.  The Dark Lord™ was ultimately defeated but the Empire was shattered and the land fell into a dark age.  Now, with civilization crawling back towards the light, the successor kingdoms are reclaiming and re-inhabiting land once ruled by the Empire.  The PCs have been gathered by the most prominent wizard in the kingdom to help a young, newly-minted baron tame the underpopulated borderland territory he was enfeoffed with.  The king charged him with uniting and civilizing the area.  This will be a cool place for the players to adventure in.  Plenty of ruins to explore, competing factions, threats from beyond the border as well as from within.  And did the wizard mention something about a resurgent evil?  Something about him suspecting the Dark Lord is making a comeback?  I even have a rough idea what the map of the nascent barony will look like.

So, here's the problem.  As is my nature I am overthinking this.  When it comes to drawing the map and populating it I go into analysis paralysis in a couple of different forms.  I haven't created a "formal" campaign since I was a kid.  I want to do it right.  As is also my nature I research.  There are lots of good articles and posts about setting up campaigns.  So I get lost in the research.  Then, some of the articles have contradictory advice.  Which do I follow?  How should I do this?  Then, throw in my Gamer ADD and I have a real mess.  I just read a post about using central Asia and the Silk Road as the inspiration for a campaign.   Cool!  Maybe I should chuck my initial idea and do this!  Then I read something else and want to add or subtract or otherwise modify what I am doing

Arrgh!

You can see my problem, right?  I've taken what is a relatively simple task and overthought it and over complicated it.  Why the hell do I do this to myself?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Mazes & Minotaurs on DriveThru/RPGNow

I don't think I have mentioned this yet but you can now get the fantastic Mazes & Minotaurs on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow!  And it's still free!  They started with the Revised Edition and are adding more as time goes by.  If you aren't familiar with M&M it is a fully playable game that speculates what the original RPG would've been like if Gygax and company were inspired by classical Greek mythology instead of the Medieval.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Black Pudding #2


So, the second issue of the 'zine Black Pudding has come out.  I described it elsewhere as "delightfully quirky".  And the second edition certainly is.  Here is an example of the inventive content that both delights me and cracks me up.   This is the description for a new 10 level class

Fey Savage

You are the child of a dainty fairy and a human barbarian.  The combination has resulted in extremes of behavior that make your friends uncomfortable.  You are about 3' to 4' tall and you smile a lot, especially while in bloody battle.  Life is good.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Dare the Stars!


Man!  I absolutely love this cover for some reason.  And Dare the Stars! is based on White Star so it's definitely on my to-buy list.  I've always had a weakness for pulpy adventures of the spacey kind.