Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Lunch Games

Long time no post.

Wrathofzombie's BlogThe big news in my gaming life is that I've been playing a sporadic one-on-one game of White Box with a coworker during my lunch time.  Our session lengths are necessarily limited to about 45 minutes so they are usually short and sharp.  We've been enjoying ourselves particularly since it is strictly our game and we can do whatever we choose with it.  So, for example, the character my player runs isn't strictly by the book but hey, it's just us so who cares.  I posted about the background back in July and you can read about it here.  So far my player T's character Shael, an elf ranger, has left her home forest, helped an old farming couple by killing a wild boar that was ravaging their farm, fought some bandits on a road and is in the process of clearing them from their lair.  She just defeated their 4th level leader and sent him packing.  She is about to reap the benefits of her efforts with a surprisingly large amount of loot.

We've been trying various venues for our game which has lead to at least one amusing situation.  We met at a local Starbucks to play and we had one lady throw us several odd looks in the midst of describing a battle that involved axes and some gratuitous bloodshed.  I mean when my player rolls a 20 and one-shots a bandit I need to give his death a proper description, right?

Each brief session has been fun and stress free and both of us have look forward to our next game.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How He Started His Sandbox

+Michael S aka Chgowiz who writes Chicagowiz's Blog wrote an interesting post about how he started his long running sandbox game.  I found this not only helpful but timely as I have been trying to create a sandbox setting to start a new group in.  I have a solid, if cliched, idea for the foundation and a way to tie the group together and to the setting.  And I have three or four adventure hooks to start out with, a starting base with key npc's, as well as an overarching plot if I want to use it.  My problem is that whenever I try to do a project like this is that I become overwhelmed, lose my self-confidence and end up almost paralyzed with doubt and indecision.  I had read Michael's excellent post "Dispelling a myth - Sandbox prep" previously but apparently hadn't taken it to heart.  However, "How I Started My Sandbox" seemed to pull it all together for me and helped ease my doubts to the point where I can now put the first seven or eight hexes down on paper and key them with the adventures I have in mind.  Thanks, Michael!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

One-on-One Campaign Background

I have mentioned elsewhere that my co-worker T and I have been planning a one-on-one White Box campaign during lunch hours at work.  Here is the background and the character T created.  In order to add flexibility and avoid her character’s early and untimely death we we’ll be using Black Streams: Solo Heroes by Kevin Crawford.

First the setting background. Or, in other word, another derivitive setting for your consideration.

The Sidhe have ruled the land for nearly 1,000 years.  The seemingly immortal fey creatures appeared suddenly and quickly conquered the petty kingdoms of Humans and Dwarves using force, guile and eldritch sorcery.  Orcs and Goblins joined the Sidhe and provided armies for the conquerors.  The High Elves willingly joined the Sidhe becoming commanders in the armies.  With the conquest began a reign of tyranny that ruthlessly exploited the peoples of the world.

The world is inhabited by many humanoid races.

The humanoid family tree has two branches that separated long ago.  One branch consists of elves, humans, dwarves and halflings.  The second of orcs and goblins.  The two branches have drifted apart so much that they can no longer interbreed successfully.

There are three elf-like peoples.  The Sidhe are brilliantly beautiful fey who are arrogant and aloof and rarely seen by ordinary people.  Over the centuries the Sidhe have grown tired of their empire and have given themselves over to indolence, debauchery and the study of black magics.  In fact none have deigned to leave their capital Aris the City of Crystal Dreams in the last century. This has led to the borderlands breaking away from the Empire, daring to declare their independence.  Fractious petty kingdoms have arose to fill the power vacuum.  It is a time of chaos in the Empire and the Sidhe don’t even seem to notice.  No one seems to know why the Sidhe came to this world to conquer it in the first place, only abandon it for their pleasures.

The High Elves, feeling a kinship with the Sidhe (though it is not reciprocated), have become willing collaborators of the Sidhe.  They enjoy the wealth of the Empire and have a prestige second only to the Sidhe.  They hold high offices and governorships and lead the Empire’s armies and since the Sidhe have withdrawn from worldly affairs they are the actual masters of what is left of the crumbling empire.

The Wood Elves withdrew to the deep forests when the Sidhe arrived and avoid outsiders as much as possible.  They are still subjects of the Sidhe but are largely left alone.  There are a few adventurous Wood Elves but but for the most part they stick to the their forests.

(My mental image of the elves of this world can be illustrated by the movie version of The Lord of the Rings.  The Wood Elves are typified by Legolas, the High Elves by Galadriel and the Sidhe by Galadriel as the White Queen she would have become if she had taken the One Ring.)

Humans are the most populous and varied group of people in the land and are the most versatile and adaptable.  They can turn their hand to almost any profession and can live in most climates successfully.  The Sidhe have enslaved the humans, taking their land, their wealth and their dignity.  They are forced to work at whatever tasks given them and have been exploited ruthlessly over the centuries.  However, humans have a strong spirit and secretly yearn for freedom.  They immediately took advantage of the slackening grip of the Sidhe and have set up a series of small kingdoms in the borderlands.  They are grinding away at the Empire and are slowing gaining back the land that was once theirs.  Unfortunately though, humans have the propensity to fight amongst themselves as often as they fight the Empire.  There is a theory among the more open-minded of elf scholars that elves are the result of the union of humans and Sidhe at some time in the incalculable past.  High Elves display more Sidhe traits while Wood Elves favor their human ancestors.  So far this is just a theory though but it does explain why elves and humans can procreate successfully.

Dwarves are as oppressed as humans.  Their clans are mostly confined to their mines and underground kingdoms.  They are master smiths and crafters and are forced to produce luxury goods made of gems, gold and silver for the delight of the Sidhe.  They produce the finest weapons of bronze, iron and steel in the world.  Though elves and humans can craft fine weapons, even magical ones, nothing can touch the quality of the dwarves.  Their finest weapons are reserved for the Sidhe and are made from the rare element thimril.  The Sidhe, being true fey, cannot use iron or steel.  It is poison to them.  So, they long ago began using thimril .  Thimril is a silver colored metal that is extremely strong, yet light and enchants well.  Thus, most magic weapons are made from thimril though iron and steel weapons can also be enchanted.  Because of the scarcity of thimril and its ability to take enchantment, the Sidhe have outlawed the use of thimril by any other than themselves.  The problem for the Sidhe, however, is that only the dwarves know how to work thimril and despite all of their efforts they are unable to pry the secret from them.

Halflings are said to exist but are considered a myth by many.  Legend has it that with the coming of the Sidhe they withdrew to remote valleys and dales and live their lives in seclusion and peace.  The Sidhe could probably find them if they wanted to but have never bothered.

Orcs and goblins are brutish creatures that have little regard for others and live in a state of almost constant conflict when not under the direct control of the Empire.  They live in tribes and are constantly quarreling with the other races.  When they don't have other races to attack they fight each other.  The union of orcs and goblins produced the hobgoblins.

Last, and definitely least, is the gnome.  A gnome is the unfortunate offspring of a dwarf and a halfling.  They are hairy of feet and hairy of face and are neither fish nor fowl and thus accepted by neither group. They seem to inherit the worst traits of both parents.  They are grumpy, gluttonous and greedy.  They live underground like their forebears but to quote Tolkien the typical gnome lives in "a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell".  As a result they are grubby and extremely malodorous.  In fact the easiest way to find a gnome hole is to follow the reek.  To top it off, gnomes are infertile and often their genitals are nonfunctional.  They dislike the world and everyone in it but, luckily, they are solitary creatures.  Fortunately, there are very, very few of them.

The playable races are the standard four:  Human, Elf, Dwarf and Halfling.
The class choices are:  Fighter, Magic User, Cleric, Thief, Barbarian, Druid and Ranger.

T chose to play an elf ranger.  Since White Box doesn’t cover this combo explicitly we kind of mashed them together.  This is her character and the backstory she came up with. I particularly like the bit about the Tree of Legend. There is so much we could do with this down the line.

Shael Cloudburst- Elf Ranger Level 1Player: TAlignment:NAC: 14HP:7 HD:1+1Str: 13 Dex:11 Con:11 Int:10 Wis:11 Cha:7 (all mods at 0)Saving Throw:16 (+2 vs. poison)Spells/Abilities: Forestry 2, Giant Slayer, Hereditary Foes, Two Weapon Fighting (2 longswords), Keen DetectionLanguages: Common, Wood Elf (can also speak with gnolls, goblins, orcs, hobgoblins)Chain Mail +4

Shael was born deep in the forest, in a small village of wood elves. The moment of her birth was marked by a sudden opening of the skies in unexpected downpour. The elves took this to be a good omen, and they believe Shael is destined for greatness. Coming from a long line of heroes and rangers, Shael grew up hearing stories of travel and adventure, stories of a time before the Sidhe, before their inglorious reign. Her favorite story is a tale told among the wood elves of a legendary tree. A tree that witnessed the arrival of the Sidhe. The stories say it knows their secrets. Shael is tired of her boring life in the forest. She wants to bring glory to her family. She wants them to rise once again as heroes. She believes this is her destiny, and her first step is to leave her forest in search of the tree of legends.

I have a home-base village and a couple of beginning adventures selected.  I have an idea of what the area all this will happen in will be like. And the beauty of Solo Heroes is that I can use any level appropriate adventure.  We are about ready to begin.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

OneDice Fantasy Ranger

I recently purchased OneDice Fantasy and thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  One of the beauteous things about OneDice is that it is easy to mold into what you want.  That is what the author did with Fantasy.  The character creation process is similar to all OneDice tomes that I have read with the exception of what the book calls "Professions".  Professions are essentially templates that represent one of the classic fantasy RPG archetypes and give you two preset skills.  So you have Cleric, Fighter, Sorcerer, etc.  You then can spend the rest of your skill points as you choose.

My friend and I briefly talked about using OneDice as the rules-set for the 1-on-1 campaign we are planning.  We ended up going with something else but it got me thinking.  She will be playing a ranger and Fantasy doesn't include ranger as one of the professions.  So, I decided to make one.  Here is my version of the OneDice Fantasy Ranger Profession.

Ranger:

A woodsman at one with the natural world.

Track 2,  Survival 1 or Archery 1

Animal Empathy You have spent so much time roaming the outdoors and interacting with nature that animals view you as one of them.  Regular animals will not attack you without provocation or being controlled by an outside force.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Gnomes

I don't think about gnomes much.  In fact I don't think about them at all unless I'm somehow forced to.  However, I am currently planning a 1-on-1 campaign with a co-worker to play during lunch breaks.  She always plays gnomes in her other games.  It apparently stems from an incident years ago when she inadvertently allowed a large number of gnomes to starve to death in a pit.  She chose to not open one last door before turning back towards civilization because she heard noises on the other side.  R.I.P. gnomes.

In my campaign (which I may detail later) there are no gnome PCs so she chose to play an elf.  I was going to leave gnomes out entirely but then I thought, hey, why not, I will include gnomes as NPCs but they will be...different.

So, here they are:


A gnome is the unfortunate offspring of a dwarf and a halfling.  They are hairy of feet and hairy of face and are neither fish nor fowl and thus accepted by neither group. They seem to inherit the worst traits of both parents.  They are grumpy, gluttonous and greedy.  They live underground like their forebears but to quote Tolkien the typical gnome lives in "a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell".  As a result they are grubby and extremely malodorous.  In fact the easiest way to find a gnome hole is to follow the reek.  To top it off, gnomes are infertile and often their genitals are nonfunctional.  They dislike the world and everyone in it but, luckily, they are solitary creatures.  Fortunately, there are very, very few of them.

Here are the stats for White Box:

Armor Class: 7 [12]
Base Hit Bonus: +1
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: Short Bow or Short Sword (1d6−1)
Move: 9
HDE/XP: 1/15



Saturday, July 1, 2017

Loot, Plunder and Pillage

German Warrior"Loot, plunder and pillage.  That is the life.  There are few things better than swooping down on an unaware town and taking what you want.  Some prefer to take ransom from the dirt scratchers.  They are not true warriors.  I crave the tumult of battle.  It satisfies the Blood Gods and helps manure the fields for the next season's crops."

This is a character I want to play.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Few Brief Thoughts on the OneDice System

I titled this post A Few Brief Thoughts on the OneDice System and then went blahhhhh all over the page.  So here are my few brief thoughts.  If you are interested in the blahhhhh you can read that afterwards.

  1. I really like the OneDice system.  Simple and effective even if it's not innovative.
  2. In addition OneDice Universal there are many setting/genre books.  Including a very complete quickstart.  (Everything but the magic.)
  3. You don't need any of the setting books if you are creative and have time but if you are lazy like I am they are wonderful.
  4. Each setting/genre book has the complete OneDice rules modified to fit the setting.  I think this is a very astute choice.  Others may be interested in only one setting and thus only need to buy one book.  I like the various setting and will buy more when they come out.  (I'm looking at you Space!)


Quit reading now if you don't want the blahhhhhh.

My love of rules-lite games continues.  I really like the OneDice system put out by Cakebread & Walton.  (I also like the name Cakebread, but that's a different story.)

The system is really simple.  Character creation is point buy, three stats, a couple of derived stats and skills.  Roll over a target number using one six-sided die (hence, OneDice) + stat + skill.  It isn't new or groundbreaking but it is simple and functional.  Advancement is a level system with fixed bonuses at each level or an optional free-form system where you trade your garnered experience points for higher stats or skills.

They system was first presented in OneDice Universal.  One of the nice things is that at the end of  each book (at least of those I have) the author presents several "skins".  Skins are a brief overview of how to use the rules for a certain genre.  OneDice Universal, for example, includes three skins, Fantasy, Supers and Space.  All in 15 pages.  These aren't full settings but contain enough to get you going.

C&W have also come out with several OneDice books devoted to specific settings/genres.  I have the PDFs for OneDice Universal, Pulp, Steampunk and WWI.  I plan to acquire Supers, WWII, Fantasy, Space (when it comes out) and Robin Hood (just published today.)  In addition to these C&W currently offers Cyberpunk, Raptors, Cold War, B Movies, Martinis and Masterminds, Cold War, Hauntaway, Twisted Tomorrow, Urban Fantasy and Pirates and Dragons as well as two licensed settings, Abney Park's Airship Pirates and Michael Scott Rohan's Winter of the World RPG.  So the really cool thing about all of these is that they are all self-contained.  Each volume contains the complete OneDice rules suitably modified for the genre.  No need to juggle various books to look up a particular rule.

It is this last point that actually got me started on this paean of a post.  C&W has many genre books for the system and more planned.  Thinking about it though, a person doesn't need any of these genre books.  All they need is Universal and some imagination and inventiveness.  You can take the simple basics and twist them into whatever shape you want.  You just need the time and energy.  But I think C&W have come up with a winning strategy for those who lack time and imagination or for those who are lazy (like me).  And by including the full rules in each volume you only need to buy the one you are interested in.

If you are interested they also have the OneDice Quickstart our for free.  Although they call it a quickstart it contains pretty much the full rules.  You can find it here.