Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Lightning Thief

My Queen and I took our two young Princes to see Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. My oldest read the book a week or two ago. He loved it and really wanted to see the movie. So we went. It was with some reservation that we took our youngest, only 5, but there was no way we could get away with taking one without the other. All of us enjoyed the movie. The monsters were a bit frightening for the young one but he really liked the movie. The first thing he asked when it was over was if we could buy it when it came out on DVD. I have never seen my oldest enjoy a movie more. He was literally sitting on the edge of his seat though the movie with a gigantic grin plastered on his face.

I think the movie could serve as a good setting for a modern day fantasy game. What if the Greek gods and other ancient deities still existed? And you discovered their existence or were somehow connected to them? A fun world to explore.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

LoS: BoL Actual Play

This past Friday I received a call to pick up my oldest Heir from school. He was sick. Although he was sick enough not to be in school he wasn’t laying in bed incapacitated sick. Just uncomfortable. So, I decided to seize the moment (and take advantage of the lack of distractions) to play some Legends of Steel: Barbarians of Lemuria.

My son had created a character several weeks ago. I mentioned in another post that my son has a strange penchant for evil characters. Here is his character.

Sparks
Origin – Padjistan

Attributes
Strength 3
Agility 2
Mind 0
Appeal -1

Combat
Brawl 2
Melee 3
Ranged -1
Defense 0

Careers
Assassin 3
Gladiator 1
Mercenary 0
Thief 0

Lifeblood 14
Hero Points 5

Armor – Battle Harness
Weapons – 2 Daggers, 2 Swords

Boons
Blind Combat
Escape Artist
Hard-to-Kill

Flaws
Morgazzon’s Curse
Unsettling

He actually created this one evening when I was away at work. I was impressed that he chose to use his appeal as a dump stat as well as choosing Morgazzon’s curse. Rather complementary I thought.

Sparks had wandered to Belsa hoping the unsettled political situation would lead to steady work in his particular specialty. But things hadn’t worked out that way. We join our hero in a rundown restaurant having spent the last of his coin on a mediocre meal and a large mug of root beer. While eating he overheard a local talking about a mysterious tower and the riches within. While staring ruefully at the dregs of his root beer he was approached by a stout fellow who had somehow heard of him. The stranger introduced himself as Thorasz. And Thorasz had a plan. He was going to rob the tower but needed a partner. Sparks agreed and they arranged to meet in the alley outside in an hour. At this point I had to persuade my son that it wouldn’t be a wise idea to have Sparks try to pickpocket one of the patrons of the restaurant. So he sent Sparks outside. I then had to persuade him that mugging a passerby wouldn’t be a wise idea. Wait, I said. If the adventure in the tower didn’t work out be could rob people then.

Sparks and Thorasz made their way to the round tower. The tower was an imposing five story structure surrounded by a hewn stone wall. The two scaled the wall easily. They came down in the foliage of a lavish garden. Thorasz had heard that guards wandered the garden and the pair were suitably alert as they followed a trail to the tower. They were expecting guards but not the vicious tiger that lunged at Thorasz! The tiger promptly puts the bite on Thorasz, who is too surprised to react. Sparks isn’t surprised and reacts by charging forward with both swords swinging. My son, without delay, rolls a 2. I judge that his sword snaps and the blade sails away into the bushes. He swings his other sword and misses. The next round the tiger misses, Thorasz hits and Sparks again misses. Then the tiger hits Sparks for a small amount of damage, Thorasz misses and Sparks hits with a mighty blow that slays the beast. Bloodied but not beaten they moved to the tower.

Unlike the wall, the tower was smooth and featureless except for a window on the third floor. Thorasz had come equipped with a grappling hook and Sparks, on his second attempt, managed to hook it through the window. They climbed up and entered a lavishly appointed bedroom. The only door in the room led to a spiral staircase leading both up and down. Thorasz had heard that the treasure was on the highest level so the pair starts upward. And almost collide with a descending guard who immediately spears Sparks. After a brief flurry of blows Sparks drops the guard. The two thieves drag the body to the bedroom and stuff it under the bed. My son decided to spend a hero point to heal the damage caused by the guard. Flesh wound is an option offered in Legends of Steel. It heals the damage incurred by the last combat. They then begin their ascent again, skipping the door on the fourth level and going directly to the fifth. The door is locked but Sparks manages to pick it. Thorasz tells Sparks to guard the door while he checks out the room. After a few moments Thorasz staggers out and collapses on the floor, dead. Sparks enters the room carefully and sees five chests overflowing with gold and silver coins and an altar-like table with several gold chalices and a large, clear gem on it. Sparks moves to grab the gem, not noticing the giant spider as it drops toward him. The spider attempts to bite Sparks but misses. Sparks backpedals, swings and hits, causing a moderate amount of damage. The spider bites again and again misses. (I didn’t roll to terribly well this game.) Sparks braces himself and slays the spider with his next blow.

Sparks takes the gem and a chalice. As soon as the gem is removed from the altar the tower begins to shake, as if rocked by an earthquake. Sparks rushes out of the room and down the stairs but trips because of the shaking and takes damage in the resulting fall. My son spends a hero point on flesh wound and heals himself. He goes into the bedroom and finds the wizard waiting for him. The shaking stops and the wizard rasps something threatening about daring to enter his tower. And then zaps Sparks with a blast of lightening which does considerable damage. Sparks charges and hits the wizard. The wizard is only slightly hurt and throws another blast of lightening but misses! Sparks swings and connects. My son decides to use another hero point to upgrade his hit to a mighty success. The swing lops the head off of the wizard, sending it spinning across the room in a gout of blood. With the death of the wizard the gem explodes into small fragments and the tower begins to shake again. Sparks slides down the rope and makes his way through the garden and over the wall just in time to avoid the implosion of the tower.

Sparks survives and comes away with a golden chalice and his life. Now having played a few sessions of Labyrinth Lord my son was very interested in the money he gained from the sale of the chalice and wanted to spend it gold piece by gold piece. I had to persuade him that the money itself wasn’t that important. He ended up buying a nice suit of black clothing, rearming himself and eating many good meals. I awarded him with two advancement point which he used to improve his thief career and increased his ranged combat.

My son said it was too bad that Thorasz had died. I asked why? He said that he planned to rob him when they were done. Although he hasn’t read any sword & sorcery fiction he certainly he certainly seems to understand its spirit. This all took between 45 min and an hour.

We both had fun and look forward to playing again.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No Internet

I've been without internet for over 48 hours. The horror. I feel like I'm walking around with only one arm. Hopefully it will be resolved tonight.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vargold

Grognardia recommended a new blog the other day and I would like to second it. Vargold is a blog focusing on Barbarians of Lemuria. Which I love. So, I you like BoL give Vargold a look.

Treasure Awaits! Book 1: Basic Play


I have had the opportunity, finally, to look over the PDFs for Ancient Odysseys: Treasure Awaits. I just received my hard copy but have yet to open it. I’ll do this in a day or two and post my impressions of it.

Treasure Awaits is a simple dungeon crawl game that comes in three booklets: Basic Play, The Dungeon, and Further Adventures. I have read Basic Play and Further Adventures but have not read The Dungeon because it is an adventure that can be played solo or run by a GM. I want to play through it to see how well the rules work.

In this post, I will be covering Book 1: Basic Play.

Basic Play covers the rules for character generation, action resolution, combat, magic, potions and character improvement. All in 35 pages. It starts with a couple of pages of explanation about role-playing games then jumps into character generation. There are four races, three classes (here called vocations) and three attributes (abilities). Character generation is semi-random. You choose or roll race and vocation then roll on a table for abilities. There are eight points split between the three attributes so it would be simple to distribute them yourself. You then choose four pursuits from a list which is determined by vocation. Pursuits are this game’s term for skills. You then choose weapons, roll for armor and choose other equipment. If you are a wizard you choose your beginning spells. And it all fits nicely on a half-page character sheet that lists all of the pursuits comfortably.

Then the rules are covered. The basic task resolution is appropriate ability + pursuit + 1d6. The target number is often but not always seven. There are modifiers that can affect the target number. Each turn a character can perform one task in the order determined at the beginning of each turn by comparing a die roll plus modifiers with the other characters. Combat is one of the actions a character can take and is an important one for this type of game. The character rolls his ability + pursuit (a weapon skill) + 1d6 versus the opponent’s ability + pursuit + 3. There are various other actions that can be taken in combat other than attacking, such as block, cast a spell or run away. The game includes a “conflict action map” to allow for simple positioning during battle. It is optional but I think it will be a nifty way to keep track of where your character is while he or she is trying to avoid death at the hands of a vicious monster.

The book concludes with poisons, traps, spells and potions followed by rules for advancement.
This first book is intended to give you the rules needed to play through Book 2: The Dungeon. Although I haven’t played through I think this rule set will work well. At the beginning of the post I called the game simple but on first read it was more complex than I was expecting. Rolling for what amounts to initiative at the beginning of each term by adding the awareness ability to a d6 and trying to beat 7 and the other players to go first is an example of this. Another is combat in which you add up each opponents skill and attribute for each roll seemed excessive to me. But on reexamination I don’t know what I was thinking. It is not complicated at all. Maybe it is a case of reality not meeting expectations. I was expecting something dead simple and something with a little more complexity though still very straightforward and reacted to that.


My next installment will cover Book Three: Further Adventures.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Not Much Happening

Not much gaming news or ruminations from here. I am trying to give Ancient Odysseys: Treasure Awaits a read through so I can give my impression. It taking much longer than it should for such slim booklets.

I did, however, get to play a game of Memoir '44 with my oldest heir today. He's been asking and we finally had the time.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Treasure Awaits! PDF

I received an e-mail from Precis Intermedia saying the pdf of Ancient Odysseys: Treasure Awaits was available for download. Apparently the boxed set ships next week. I've downloaded the pdf but haven't looked at it yet. I hadn't checked my e-mail for a coupe of days and found out from from a post at SWORD & SHIELD, with mini-review included.

Friday, February 5, 2010

More on the D&D Starter Set

More info about the D&D Starter set can be found here. It's even going to have a red box.

An interesting post and discussion over at Grognardia.

Some seem to think that the set will only cover 1st and 2nd level characters. I agree that this could be limiting. But then again, the Moldvay basic only covered 1st through 3rd and it is considered a classic.

I'm still interested. We'll see what develops.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Legends of Steel BoL Edition

I received my copy of Legends of Steel: Barbarians of Lemuria edition the other day. I've had a chance to read it over and here are my impressions.


The book is split into three sections: The Player Section, the Campaign Section and two sample scenarios.


The Player Section contains the BoL rules. These are the slightly older Revised rules not the current Legendary Edition. There are some slight changes but these are predominately clarifications and minor additions. One example of this is a discussion of what motivates a Sword & Sorcery character. A second example is that boons & flaws are not connected to a character’s place of origin. You can choose whichever you want. It also includes a short discussion on the importance of taverns in a Sword & Sorcery world. All and all this is the BoL that people like. One touch I really like is on the first page of the book. The author briefly discusses the various types of Sword & Sorcery in fiction and then states in no uncertain terms and in bold type what version Legends of Steel is intended to be. I’ll quote.


“The setting for the Legends of Steel – BoL Edition campaign, The World of Erisa, is tailored after the comic book and cartoon Sword & Sorcery example.”


I like the way this statement stakes out what you can expect from the book.
The Campaign Section covers Erisa, the world of Legends of Steel. It briefly covers each major polity of Erisa and some of the major geographic features. Erisa contains all of your standard Sword & Sorcery locations. There is the still powerful but crumbling empire with both external and internal threats, rich city-states, evil sorcerer kingdoms, wild barbaric tribes, pirates, slavers, desert kingdoms, dark forests and forbidding mountains. Each major city is briefly described and then its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are laid out. Each city receives about a page and a half. I find this a good way to describe the areas and give the GM various directions to take adventures while still leaving the setting wide open for customization. The world’s pantheon receives attention next. Then there is a bestiary of both mundane and fantastic creatures. The one thing I didn't like about the original Barbarians of Lemuria setting was that common animals were absent. Erisa has all of the common animals, including horses. For some reason, for me, the hero needs to ride off on a horse. Not an ostrich-like creature.


The book wraps up with two scenarios and several sample characters. I like this book. I like the way the rules are presented and explained. I like the little additions and customizations. The world is intriguing and it looks like it will be fun to play in. And it has horses.


My only disappointment was with the book itself. I like the cover illustration and the full color map on the back but there are a couple of flaws with my copy. The first eight pages or so were stuck together at the top. It was as if they hadn't been cut completely. I had to carefully separate them. The second problem is the binding. It doesn’t seem to be attached completely at the spine. I have concerns that it won’t hold up in the long run. Other than these two things I’m generally pleased with the book. It is plain paper (as opposed to the glossy paper that my other two Lulu purchases had) and black and white on the inside. The illustrations are genre appropriate without being too racy. As much as I like BoL I wasn't comfortable allowing my 9 year old to read it because of the illustrations. I like the art myself, it’s just not appropriate for him. I have no qualms about allowing him to read the LoS version. The one picture I don’t like is the black and white map of Erisa. It is dark, a touch hard to read, and not very attractive.


These criticisms haven’t dampened my enthusiasm for the book though. I’m looking forward to my son cutting a swath through the mooks and villains of Erisa. He read the character creation portion of the book while I was at work one evening and created his first character. Hopefully, we’ll get to play this weekend. When we do get a chance, I’ll write about it and include his character’s stats.