Sunday, March 31, 2013

My Inner 10 Year Old or Knowing is Half the Battle!

I just got back from GI Joe Retaliation and my inner 10 year old is pleased.  Just as in the first GI Joe film, I left adulthood at the doors to the theater and just enjoyed the ride.


Sometimes it's good to just enjoy the magic of cinema and not think about it all too hard. 

From that perspective, Retaliation was a roaring success.

Dwayne Johnson's Roadblock steals the show, but the moment where Stormshadow realizes Snake-Eyes is in his presence and the ensuing fight between them and all of the ninjas was something I've been waiting 30 years to see on the big screen.  It did not disappoint.


By the way Byung-Hun Lee is amazing and I need to seek out more of his work.


And the Zeus super-weapon is a truly devastating way to negotiate with world's leaders.

There are some interesting tidbits that I assume will be the focus of a third film, if this one succeeds, and COBRA really upped the ante this time.  Something I will say is that Cobra Commander managed to capture some of the menace that Darth Vader displayed in the Star Wars saga.  I actually wanted to see more of him.  And it was great to see Firefly (a favorite figure of mine) get some spotlight.

I can't say that it's a great film, but my inner 10 year old is pleased.  If you liked the first one, you'll like the second one even more.  I think this is a better movie, overall.

My biggest disappointment was not getting to see the previous film's Ripcord get wiped out.  Who's hires a Wayans brother for a movie anyway?

Yo Joe!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Teaching This Old Dog New Tricks

I have been lucky enough for the last month to actually play DnD Next on Mondays with a brand new DM.  Tony has been very creative and has a natural talent for Dungeon Mastering.  He's cooked up Critical Hit and Miss Charts, pretty much created character classes to order and just has great ideas.

This past week we managed to overthrow a tyrannical Wizard King by leading freed slaves from foul experiments designed to decimate a nearby elven stronghold.

One, for instance, is that if your To Hit roll is exactly your opponent's AC, you only do half damage.
I don't know why, but I really dig this rule and might steal it.

The group I'm playing with is much younger than I am, and in fact, are the first core group of Magic Tournament players that started with me close to a decade ago.

It's very fulfilling to have built a real friendship with all of them, and oddly it started with Tony convincing me to start running Magic Tournaments on Mondays...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Mark Rein•Hagen is back!

Mark Rein•Hagen and Make Believe Games are going to be launching a Kickstarter for a new RPG, I
AM ZOMBIE in June.

Apparently they've also got a Kickstarter for a Vampire Succubus Themed playing card deck with RPG/Party Game rules already live.

While Mark mentions that Zombies are stale, he seems to be overlooking the HUGE success of Walking Dead on TV and in Comics.  For our store, Zombies have never been bigger.  And while I don't think the World War Z movie is going to be an straight forward adaption of the incredible book, I think with a PG-13 rating it will be very popular.

Here is the rundown:



From I AM ZOMBIE:

MEMENTO MORI
Everything you’ve seen in the zombie movies is true, but it goes deeper than that. The mindless ones you see on the screen are our Skags, but you, you are one of the Profane, a master of death.

Your government has been lying to you for years. Outbreaks happen, but they are then covered up. Flesh eating bacteria? That was us. Chemical spills? You guessed it, that was us too. The Black Death? That was a big one, but guilty as charged. Mad Cow disease? Yeah … that’s not us.

I’d invite you to join us, but if you are reading this you’re already infected. Welcome to the party. Now you have to learn how to manage your disease and use it, but with great power comes great … yadda, yadda, yadda. Listen; if you cause an outbreak, they’re going to Supermax you. So pull it together newbie. You probably don’t have much time.

Once you learn to control it, you can live a long, long time, but most of us barely make 20 years. Live fast, die young, leave a gruesome corpse…

Your struggle will be to stave off the taint and keep yourself looking human most of the time so that your illness doesn’t become terminal. Let it get to that point and you’ll be spending the rest of your miserable existence as a quasi-sentient head in a box.

Take this book seriously! If you want to make it in our world, you need to know this shit cold.

Shades of Vampire: The Masquerade, no?

Witch: Crone (D&D Next)


Witch: Crone

Medium Humanoid (Human)

Armor Class 15

Hit Points 50 (11d8) 

Speed 25 ft.
Senses lowlight vision 50 ft.


Str 10 (+0)     Dex 14 (+2)    Con 11 (+0)
Int  18 (+4)     Wis 16 (+3)    Cha  8  (-1)

Alignment chaotic evil 
Languages common, abyssal, infernal, witch's cant


TRAITS______________________________________
Frightening: The witch gains advantage on all checks to intimidate.

Primeval: Any creature making a Charisma or Wisdom saving throw against a spell cast by the witch gains disadvantage.

Daughter of the Moon: As long as it is after nightfall, but before dawn, the witch has advantage on saving throws against magical effects.

ACTIONS_____________________________________
Melee Attack—Prehensile Hair: +7 to hit (reach 15 ft.; one creature). 
Hit: 11 (3d6) slashing damage.

Ranged AttackEvil Eye: +9 to hit (range 50 ft./100 ft.; one creature). 
Hit: 20 (4d8+3) psychic damage.

Wizard Spell: The witch can cast the followings spells once per day: 


Blight 

Chain Lightning

Cloudkill

Dominate Person


Feeblemind

Fly

Flesh to Stone

Mass Suggestion

Polymorph 


ENCOUNTER BUILDING 
Level 11                   XP 4500

Closing Out March

In March I exceeded my goal of a post a day.

I won't lie that things have slowed a bit, but that's because I've been prepping my posts for the A to Z Blog Challenge which starts April 1st.  Hopefully I'll exceed my goal again.

I've also been busy with a playtest I can't talk about.

Ironcloaks is developing fairly well and hopefully the Friday Dragon Age game will go well.  Although, when I'm don with the Friday game I've promised myself that I'll focus on only one game to run each week (unless it's for the kids).

And finally, the whole clan managed to come down with the creepin' crud and I'm worried about losing my voice.

Timothy Brannan over at The Other Side Blog was kind enough to feature my blog yesterday and I'm almost at 50 followers!  Thank you, Tim!!  I can't recommend Tim's site enough, he's been a big inspiration for my own blog and I recommend purchasing any of the products he's authored.  You won't regret it.

As he pointed out, I haven't posted the Crone for my DnD Next Witches, so I need to fit that in when I can.  Maybe tomorrow....

See you in April.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Free GI Joe RPG!

Check it out here.

Hasbro, it's time for official GI Joe, Transformers and My Little Pony RPGs!





Back This: Mini Comics Included

Mike Moreci and Steve and Tim Seeley have banded together to make all-age mini-comics (like those found in the original Masters of the Universe toys and Atari Force video games) and with enough funding even make toys of the characters, as well.

This really strikes a chord with me and hope this finds success.

Check it out here.




Monday, March 25, 2013

D&D Boardgames ported to iOS

Playtdek and Wizards of the Coast have reached an agreement that will bring the recent Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon and Legend of Drizzt boardgames to your iOS device.

You can read about it here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara


Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom and its sequel Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara, the classic arcade beat-'em-up adaptations of Wizards of the Coast's pen-and-paper RPG are BACK, remastered and refined for the modern age.

These games are returning with updated HD graphics and a wealth of other enhancements as a definitive double pack, titled Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara.

The double-pack is set for a June digital release on Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and Windows PC, developed for Capcom by Iron Galaxy and priced at $14.99.

More info here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pacific Rim News



The first Kaiju from the forthcoming film, Pacific Rim will be known as the Trespasser.

Read about it here.

Also, Del Toro talks about the prequel comic book series here.

My son and I are counting the days until this releases.

D&D Next: the Rhiknow


Rhiknow

Large Magical Beast
Armor Class 16
Hit Points 147 (14d10+70)
Speed 40 ft.
Str 19 (+4)     Dex  8 (-1)    Con 21 (+5)
Int 14 (+2)     Wis 17 (+3)   Cha 11 (+0)
Alignment neutral
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Infernal 

TRAITS
Poor Eyesight: A rhiknow gains disadvantage on any Wisdom check to search or spot.

Know Alignment: A rhiknow that takes a full round to study a creature learns it's alignment, if any.

See Aura: A rhiknow can look at a creature's aura at will.

Horn of Restoration: Once per day a rhiknow may cast Greater Restoration.

ACTIONS
Melee Attack—gore: +8 to hit (reach 10 ft.; one creature). Hit: 15 (3d8+4) piercing damage.

ENCOUNTER BUILDING 
Level 14                      XP 7000

Rhiknows are as much a relative to the unicorn as they are to the lowly rhinoceros.  Generally, a rhiknow will have at least one handler and a number of agents they refer to as their Eyes.  The creatures are known to abhor violence, but will defend their comrades or themselves if coerced.

On Being a Game Master: Getting it out of my head...

Tonight was essentially a disaster for me as GM.  Everything was off and very little went right.  I haven't felt like this in years.  

But I'm posting about it to get it out of my head.  


I won't lie, I think of myself as a pretty good Game Master.  I like action, I like letting the players take the spotlight, I like seeing them succeed.  I like all of us laughing and having fun.

But tonight wasn't good.

Last week's session was my first running Dragon Age for the Friday Group and it wasn't my strongest.  But I chalked it up to seeing a player off as he headed to Naval Basic Training.  And we had a huge number of people at the table.  But it was off.  I won't lie to myself about it this week, like I did this past week.

Tonight everything just flew apart.  I tried getting some of it back in line, but I simply succeeded in splitting the party up in four separate directions.

I've had two other spectacularly terrible sessions as a GM.

The first was at a small Con an old friend put on for all us.  I was still a student and had gotten in trouble with my parents and I shat forth a terrible session.  I was voted worst GM at the Con.  Worst.  G.  M.

You know I think I had actually blocked that?  I think I had buried that one very, very deep.

The second was stranger.  In many ways it was the night I found my voice as a GM.  I ran a high octane and slightly gonzo game of Mekton Z that I thought was awesome.  I had a blast.  I thought my players had a blast.  All of us were laughing.  But of the two players, one apparently hated it and when I arrived for the next week's session at his house, he informed me I wouldn't be continuing, that he hated my Mekton Z adventure more than what I'd run at the Con.  You know where I was literally the worst GM?  That one.

Both times hurt to hear.  This time does too.  But it's me who's saying I sucked, now.

I apologize for sounding like a smug prick, but it will get better.  I'll do better and my players will help me do better.

Now back to the party being split.  I'll figure it out.  Or the players will help me figure out.  It will get better and I'll still aim for great campaign.  I wanted to push myself with this game, after all.  But pushing yourself hurts.  I firmly believe this is merely growing pains.  I believe that because I'm pissed at myself and I'll fix this.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Jarlsburg: The Lunar Court

While the City of Jarlsburg is ruled by the Council of Oleander (where the Ministers of the North, South, East, and West work together with the Prime Minister) for most matters, the supernatural denizens look elsewhere for guidance, leadership and retribution.  And that is where the Lunar Court's authority comes into play.

Within two decades of the Oleander Council taking over the city from it's dwarven founders, it's members began to see that the mundane aspects of urban life were trying enough without the various quarrels found amongst the undead, ghosts, shapeshifters, and other horrors that inevitably settled within the city.

Their first measure was to form the Silvercloaks to bolster and work alongside the Watch in dispatching these menaces. That plan worked, maybe too well, as then Prime Minster, Augustus Craven learned one night as the ancient vampire, Phillius Montague "visited" him  in his night chambers to make the point that while the Silvercloaks might destroy all the vampires in the city, Montague would either not live to see it or worse, be amongst the Silvercloak's victims.

And so, a "dialogue" developed between several prominent supernatural citizens and the Oleander Council's members.  To avoid public outcry after the overwhelming success of the Silvercloaks, the unit was not disbanded but reduced to exactly thirteen members.  In return the supernaturals negotiating with the Council promised to form their own ruling body that would answer to the Prime Minister and would, in fact, oversee, fund and direct the Silvercloaks to enforce law and order amongst the their own kind.

And so the Lunar Court was born and the Silvercloaks became their most capable agents.  The Court's rule over the supernaturals mirrored the Council with the Crescent Regent ruling the East, the Gibbous Regent ruling the West, the Waxing Regent ruling the North and the Waning Regent ruling the South.  The High Inquisitor was selected to publicly represent this Lunar Court and work to oversee the day to day assignments of the Silvercloaks.

In the last two centuries the solution has been mostly successful and, aside from a rogue Waning Queen who tried to usurp total control over the city, eighty years ago, has been deemed a success.  You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, after all.  Or hearts, minds and skulls.

Arguably, the most significant role the Court has played was in helping the Silvercloaks and the entire Watch solve the gruesome serial murders of the prophetic madman, Eustes St. Kiln.  Before his reign of terror was over one Regent and two Ministers fell victim to his demoniac assaults and it was Dunedain, the Crescent King, who finally deduced his identity and lead the assault against him.  Rumors persist that the Council and the Court uncovered a terrible prophecy that clearly spelled doom for Jaurlsburg, "when the stars were right."

The current Regents are:

The Crescent King - Dunedain is only the second to hold his seat.  He's reasonably liked and universally feared.  He was a vocal advocate of Prime Minster Malifaux's ascension to the office, but has one glaring weakness.  His "daughter", Anastasia, a young woman of amazing beauty who is completely and utterly human.  It is suspected he is actively working against St. Kiln's mad prophecy, as he is known for backing odd proposals and is always curious about the strangest subjects.  For instance, he has used personal funds to form a committee that keeps a census on the number of pigeons in the city.  Each and every day.
Dunedain is a Lich.


Gibbous Queen - Mrs. Laurel O'Daire is also the Witch Mother of the Coven of Crumb and has held her seat at the Court for less than six years.  She strictly enforces the bylaws and practices of the Court and brooks no mercy for trespassers in her section of the city.  Her chilling punishments are renown for their creativity.  However, as an ally, none are more loyal, just be certian never to cross her.  Mrs. O'Daire deeply suspects that Dunedain is hiding something from the rest of the Court and has recently tracked several of his servants moving through her quarter.  Communication between the two is at an all time low.



Waxing Queen - Magda Balorengre assumed the position just over two weeks ago.  It's said that her predecessor decided not to honor an agreement he'd made with the Gibbous Queen.  His remains were found strewn throughout the city and a message was delivered to the surviving members of the Court, including one left for his replacement to read upon ascension.  
Magda has not yet replied to the message.  She is a well known and powerful Alpha werewolf with strong ties to the ghost community.  Her family owns several butcher shops throughout the city.  She is pragmatic, just, and completely overwhelmed.


Waning King - Count Eduardo Franco Bastion will celebrate his fiftieth year as a member of the Court
later this year.  He is popular not only within the supernatural community but also amongst the wealthy citizens of the city.  He is the owner of Jarlsburg's most popular, public house, the Night Club and has an extensive network of individuals who either owe him a favor or are looking for him to owe them.
   The Count's success is owed to the fact that he is, for a vampire, a truly "nice guy".  He genuinely takes pride in his position as a Regent and works diligently to fulfill his duties. A pet project of his, is the ascension of the first ghost to the position of Regent.  He had hoped to achieve that goal after the doom that befell Luther Glouchester, the former Waxing King, but knew that Mrs. O'Daire and Dunedain wouldn't approve.  It is why he supported Magda's ascension, as she shares his compassion for the ghost community and he is hoping they can build a power base to achieve their goal when the next seat comes open.

The current High Inquisitor is a very secretive being, known only as Lot.  He works most closely with Dunedain and has little to no tolerance for Count Bastion.  Rumors persist that only Dunedain knows what he truly looks like.  And other rumors assert that Lot is either a supernatural, or a highly skilled and accomplished magic-user.
   Lot is a precise and highly regimented being.  A real taskmaster for the Silvercloaks, who he expects nothing less than perfection from on a daily basis.  However, Lot is the first to defend and avenge any agent under his responsibility.  This extends to each agents family, as well, and it has been confirmed that he sees to the welfare of the widows, widowers and orphans of any Silvercloak that falls in the line of duty.


Back This: MAJUS

Michael Curtis, from the Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope blog and author of two of my favorite OSR The Dungeon Alphabet and Realms of Crawling Chaos has written a new game from Goblinoid/Pacesetter.
books,

It's called MAJUS and it uses the Pacesetter Action Table System (used in Time Master and Rotworld).

He's calling a Urban Fantasy/Magical Noir game of action and adventure.  He sites inspirations ranging from Hellblazer, Cast a Deadly Spell, The Maltese Falcon, the music of Blue Oyster Cult, to the Millennium TV show on FOX.  It looks very intriguing.

According the Kickstarter, the game is already written and playtested and it's just waiting for art.

This sounds great and hope it succeeds!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

This is my 302nd Post!

Yeah, celebrating the 300th Post makes more sense, but what ya gonna do?

I'm happy to see that I'm almost at Fifty Followers (thanks guys)!

I appreciate everyone who takes time to look at my ramblings and deeply appreciate the messages I get.

While I didn't manage a post a day for the year (still have a few more days), I'll gladly accept where I am now and just hope for the future.

Take care, everyone!

The Big Reveal Bloghop

Timothy Brannan at the Other Side Blog pointed this out for me.

I'll be participating in the A to Z Blogfest and this is my chance to declare my theme this year.

I have decide it will be Nostalgia.  No, not the perfume from Watchmen, but I'll be waxing nostalgic for my all the cool cartoons and toys and people and places from my childhood.

A Strange Tale Part 3


Solomon Strange was hurled, head first, into just another day in the City of Doors.  His palms and knees landed first, scratching across the cobbled stones.  A cutter stepped on Solomon, "Getout the way, Berk."

Stange painfully rose up into the throng of people, there was a hole in his pants over his left knee and blood flowed from where he'd scratched the sidwalk.  The palms of both hands were raw and red, he took a moment to step back to the door he'd been flung threw, tested it's handle and found it locked.
"Beatty, what have you gotten me into that has brought us both to Sigil?"

"Solo!  Isisit you?!" A voice like gravelly thunder burst at the Inspector.  It had been nearly a decade, but he recognized it immediately.

Strange turned and saw the monstrous greenskin, now well over nine feet tall and nearly half as wide, more importantly he spied the orc's companion and grinned, "Tater!  Is that Bebe with you?"

"Aye!  She has glasses now!!  Ms. Bebe spotted ya 'fore Tater did, no lie!!!" Said the giant standing next to what most would believe to a rhinoceros, but as most things in Sigil, she was hardly what she seemed.  The creature leading the orc was, in fact a rhiknow, a distant cousin of the unicorn and indeed she had a pair of pink glasses on her head.

"Hello again, Solomon Strange.  Old Tater did not fully believe me when I told him our day would welcome an old and dear friend into our midst.  You look well and I am pleased to see you."  Beamed Bebe the rhiknow.

Solomon closed the distance between his old friends and was nearly squeezed to death, twice, by Tater and gave Bebe a warm kiss on her forehead.

Bebe concerned, said, "You have seen better days my friend. Touch my horn and know health and peace."

Strange took a moment to look at himself, a thought turned the heavy woolen longcoat of bright blue into a light duster of the same hue.  But he knew he still looked exhausted, with fresh wounds on his palms and a tear of the left knee of his favorite black trousers.  He accepted Bebe's offer and touched her horn.  It was pleasantly warm and it made him feel the way he did as a child, when his mother would take him into her arms and make all the bad things in the world cease to exist.  His wounds were gone now, and he felt like he'd slept for a full day.

Solomon smiled, "Thank you very, very much."

Bebe inquired, "Did she call you here by your oath?"

Strange smiled, "Are you asking or confirming?"

Bebe returned a demure smile to him, "My Eyes saw the Slayer at the Memorial, I had wondered if you would be brought back here as well."

Solomon stepped in closer, inspecting the pink glasses on his old friend's face, "Yes, my oath and some meddling from an unexpected quarter brought me to her," he quickly steered the conversation in a different direction, "I'm surprised you still need your Eyes these days, those are truly marvelous glasses."  The rhiknow almost blushed.  "And you Tater, your still working with her?  I'll wager she sees better than you these days?"  The mock was friendly and with a wide grin.

But it was Bebe who answered, "As you well know, loyal friends are hard to come by and besides, I enjoy his...color commentary."  Tater beamed in pride, she continued, "Where were you at before being pulled to the Cage?"

Strange's demeanor grew more serious now, as if a storm cloud passed over his face, "Back home I was working on a case where my comrades were being murdered.  I need this business over with, so I can help."

"In Greyhawk?"  Bebe asked.

Tater added. "Crimson."  

Strange stared at the greenskin, and Bebe answered his look, "His color commentary."

Solomon laughed and before answering her, "No, Jarlsburg.  Greyhawk is no longer my home, hasn't been  in many years, in fact.  You should know that."

"Confirming.  I have to make sure my Eyes are accurate.  You should at least visit there, I will freely tell you that your family dearly misses you."  Bebe's word were filled with kindness and concern for the necromancer.

"Fuscia."  Tater added.

"I'd like to, truly, but the Circle of Eight made it clear I wasn't welcome there.  Ever."  Solomon's words poorly hid his pain and he looked away from both of his friends into the passing crowd.

The rhiknow asked, "In Grehyawk?"

It took Solomon a moment to answer, he looked skyward and held back tears, "On Oerth.  But enough of the past, and your "confirmations".  I'm to head to the Smoldering Corpse, will you accompany me?"

"Eggshell."  Tater answered.


A Strange Tale Part 2

"Yer Solo, den...I'm...unimpressed. Der Crescent King makes ye sound like a boogity beast." Yammered the lad.

Solomon looked at the boy and contemplated responding to his taunt, but there was no time to waste and much to learn, "Am I to understand the Crescent King is behind the murder of my comrades?"

"Herherherherherhehee....what need of der King to extinguish two humans?" Barked the boy.

"Then why are you here and more importantly why were you hiding?" Solomon narrowed his eyes and began to mentally unlock one his spells.

"Now, now...Solo...no need for ye necromancy. Der King knows that all hell's a coming to town and he's gotten wind that ye Silvacloaks have been chosen as der First. Ye can calm thyself." The boy's tone began to turn more solemn, almost respectful and he added, "ye can't expect me to rest atop der corpses, can ye?"

"Did you see the murderer? Can you identify him? They are to be the First? But the stars are not right!" Solomon was beginning to lose patience.

"Aye...but none a dat's yer concern now, der King needs you off der board. He wants ye to remember ye owe him. Ye canna refuse, I'm supposed to say. The First will fall, stars or no stars... it's not ye fight. He says ye will pay him off when ye answer der dwarf's call'." The boy looked confused and nervous now.
It was at that precise moment when the jolt went through Solomon's body. Strange heard her whisper in his ear and understood her need. He reached into one of his coat's many pockets and found the penny. The Slayer's own bloodoath was calling him to her.

"So I'm to answer this call and then your King and I are square?" Strange asked, anger rising in his chest.

"Aye." Answered the boy.

Strange stared first at the coin and then at his fallen comrades. In paying back two debts, how many more would he incur? It was not time for the First to fall and someone had to stop it. But if the Slayer called him, her need was great. He turned to Codex and began to speak, just as the spell hit him. Solomon jerkily turned back to see the ring the black-eyed child had produced from his trousers. Strange felt himself begin to be teleported away, he could not let his fellow Watchmen continue to die.

He unleashed his spell then, uttering the command, "Boy. I know you now and you will reveal yourself to Codex and give a full account of who or what you saw slay both Silvercloaks, you will answer any and all questions he has for you. And when he releases you, and only when he releases you, you will stand and watch the sun rise and be burned finally and fully from this world. This, I command."

And then Solomon Strange disappeared through a door to a city far from Jarlsburg, yet close to everywhere else.

The only thing the dark-eyed boy could do was part the Veil and say, "Aye", then he looked at Codex and said, "I have been commanded to answer any and all of your questions."

D&D Next: New Playtest Available

WotC has released the newest playtest for DnD Next and you download it here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Strange Tale Part 1

The only furniture in the small room was an old bed and a dresser where a chamber pot sat. And both of the victims. They were piled, one atop the other, on the bed, laying face down. Their Silvercloaks piled on the floor, to the right of the bed and on full display so that when the Watch responded they'd see that not only had two of their own had been felled, but that they also had been members of the dreaded Silvercloaks.

Inspector Solomon Strange took in the whole tableau, before walking around the bed. He had known Clancy and Verra since working with them on the malediction of Donal Bluth. Solomon found it impossible to detach himself from the victims. He had drunk and cried with both of them after their collective failure at keeping a four year old girl's father from falling to the darkness.

Clancy was very rigid and by the book, but if he had your back, he would fall dead before letting you down. He had nine children, the oldest only eleven. He made them toys in his spare hours.

Verra was the daughter of the Minister of the South, yet she'd he had hidden that fact well from most of the Watch. She wanted to succeed on her own merits, her dedication made many had call her distant, even cold. Verra knew what they said, but hid her pain using her keen intellect and bravery as a shining beaconing in the night. A hardened veteran and a shy girl of only twenty-seven.

It was a sad day for the Watch and the Silvercloaks, in fact the second of such in a mere nine days. There were only ten Silvercloaks now, with three having fallen in short succession. This was ill tiding for the whole of Jarlsburg. It was ill work for Solomon Strange.

"INSPECTOR. I'M WAITING FOR YOUR OBSERVATIONS." Codex broke Strange's reverie, oblivious to his partner's sorrow.

"Of course, Codex. We have two victims, both Silvercloaks of the Watch. Inquisitor Clancy Drabb and Inquisitor Verra Ap...Frost."

Codex addressed his partner, "INSPECTOR? IT IS RARE FOR YOU TO MISTAKENLY PRESENT THE FACTS OF A SITUATION, ARE YOU FEELING WELL?"

"I am. Would you mind if I explained my mistake in private?" Strange took a moment to move his attention to the Seargent, a warforged he had worked with for nearly a year now. Codex had been at his side ever since the Uberwold Affair, the Watch insisting he would no longer be allow to work without a partner. He firmly believed Codex was chosen for his ability to record everything that Solomon said or did and that the information was reviewed by their superiors. The Watch, indeed. The warforge's very nature had made the last year a weary one for Strange, but he knew Codex took his duties seriously and they had almost begun to find some common ground.

The warforge answered, "OF COURSE INSPECTOR. MY OLFACTORY SENSES HAVE DISCOVERED SOMETHING UNFAMILAR?"

"Yes, I believe it's a hard candy known as a Fizzy Pop." Strange began getting that all too familiar sinking feeling in his gut, had had begun to detect the presence of something else in the room with them. A lifetime of dealing with darkness and death made him keenly aware of what lurked just beyond the Veil.

He looked over his shoulder and called to the lead Watchman standing in the hallway outside the room, "Constable Marple? Would you make sure that everyone out there gives us plenty of space?" Marple stared at the Inspector in utter confusion, Strange spoke again, "I"m saying back everyone up, please." It didn't require Marple's intervention for his warning to be taken seriously.


Solomon moved all around the room, his eyes scanning the faded wallpaper with it's rooster pattern, now barely visible after years clinging to the walls. He studied the ragged hardwood floor and the ancient and broken down dresser with a new chamber pot setting on it. Brand new, in fact. The Inspector looked over at Codex and gestured for the warforge to be ready. Then he inhaled deeply and held his breath, while simultaneously closing his eyes. Strange let down his wards and began to carefully adjust his senses to the Veil that squatted, usually invisible, on top of our own world like a malicious spider on it's prey. Or was it their world?

He opened his eyes and exhaled at the same time. Solomon found his culprit on top of the dresser, where the chamber pot had rested moments before. A young boy or at least a monster was wearing it's shape. The boy sat on the dresser swinging his legs, grinning to himself and sucking on a Fizzy Pop, until the goose pimples began to raise on his bare arms. He was well dressed in short pants and a short sleeve shirt, both all black, but no shoes. The boy's flesh was very pale and his hair was like woven shadows, dark freckles dotted his young face. The lad was beginning to realize that Strange could see him now. The boy's wide eyes were brimming with blackness, far darker than any night Strange had ever endured. Those black eyes began to narrow and stare defiantly at the Inspector's face.

"Ye see mine presence then? What are ye?" Spat the lad.

Strange spoke clearly, daring to stare into the inky depths of the boy's eyes, "I'm a shadespeaker. I'm going to guess that you know something about the corpses in this room."

"Herherheherher....ye mean your a necromancer, ain't dat right? A shadespeaker! Thoust kind are so deliciously afeared. Words dunna hurt ye, teeth and claws and steel hurt, well at least yer kind. And aye, I know something, but I'm only to parley with a bloke called Solo."

The Inspector took a moment to survey the rest of the small bedroom. There was a faintness to Codex now, he was less defined, hazy to his Sight. Solomon was both relieved and sad to see that his fallen compatriot's souls had moved on already. This could make his task much more painful.

Finally, Inspector Solomon Strange answered the boy, "It's been nearly a year since anyone has called me that. Hail young master ill met, you may know me as Solo."

Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures Free Beta

Flatland Games is offering a free beta of their RPG Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures.

It's an interesting blend of ADnD and Dungeon World.  The Playbooks for your Class basically walk you through a lifepath process for building your character and are very, very intriguing.

There are only three character classes:  Mage, Thief, and Warrior.  But several playbooks based on how you reached that point in your life.

And Spells are divided into At Will,  X per Day and high powered and dangerous Rituals.

Check this out.  The game seems like a great niche and a spectacular addition to the OSR.  I hope it garners plenty of interest and helps Flatland Game get some well deserved attention.

Ironcloaks: More Rumors from Jarlsburg


Some of these might be true.
Roll a d10:


1.  Golen Gant, Grand Pooba of the Thieves' Guild was beaten to death over a pig.

2.  The Lunar Court has put a price on the head of an Ironcloak.

3.  Unicorn urine will break a curse.

4.  Krent D'Midnight is a recruiter for the Sindycate.

5.  Three Silvercloaks have been founded murdered in just under a fortnight.

6.  Old Lady Mackey, who owns the fruit stand on Fuller St. and Bleck Ave., has a reward for her daughter, Aubrey's whereabouts.  She's been missing for four days.

7.  A fire burnt down a tenement in Quagmire and a dwarven warmachine was found in the basement.

8.  The Harvest Queen is dead, she was assassinated by skaven of Clan Cull.

9.  A street preacher, known as the Shepherd, says that Death is coming to Jarlsburg.  He is urging anyone who will listen to prepare for his arrival.

10. A drow priestess has been negotiating with the Council of Oleander for trade routes under Jarlsburg and salvage rights to the old dwarven vaults beneath the city.

More about Roll20.net

Well not only did our playtest go great, but the community tools the site provides are astounding.

It's easy to manage the campaigns you've joined.  You have a calendar to remind you of upcoming sessions.  It's super easy to communicate in personal forums for each game and even simpler to communicate privately with the member of that campaign.

I won't lie, I haven't donated to it yet, but as soon as I can spare some cash I'll gladly do that.

I see no reason to entertain another solution and look forward to using it further.

Roll20.net just keeps rolling crits!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

D&D Next: Master of Dim Mak


Master of Dim Mak 
Medium Humanoid (Human)
Armor Class 15
Hit Points  32 (7d8)
Speed 40 ft.
Senses darkvision 30 ft.
Str 14 (+2)   Dex 15 (+2)     Con 11 (+0)
Int 11 (+0)   Wis 16 (+3)     Cha 8 (-1)
Alignment lawful evil 
Languages Common

TRAITS
Dim Mak: A living creature that is reduced to 0 hit points or less and has taken damage from a deathtouch takes 3d6 damage, which cannot be reduced in any way, on a failed death savings throw.
ACTIONS
Melee Attack—deathtouch: +4 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one creature). Hit: 13 (3d6+2) ki damage.

Ranged Attack—jump kick: +4 to hit (range 40 feet.; one creature). Hit: 15 (3d8+2) bludgeoning damage.

ENCOUNTER BUILDING 
Level 7                      XP 2000

A Master of Dim Mak understands the deepest, darkest secrets of ki and know how to murder with but a touch.  The knowledge is unique and only one Master may exist at any time.

Area 1851 Kickstarter

Aliens.  Cowboys.  What more could you ask for?

Back this!

Area 1851 Kickstarter.

D&D Next: Black-Eyed Children

Black-Eyed Children 
Small Humanoid (Horror)
Armor Class 14
Hit Points 14 (4d6)
Speed 40 ft.
Senses darkvision 30 ft.
Str 8 (-1)     Dex 13 (+2)     Con 11 (+0)
Int 11 (+0)   Wis 12 (+1)     Cha 14 (+2)
Alignment lawful evil 
Languages Any 

TRAITS
Persuasive: The black-eyed children gain advantage on any charisma check to persuade someone.

ACTIONS
Melee Attack—bite: +0 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one creature). Hit: 3 (1d6-1) piercing damage.

Ranged Attack—drain life: +3 to hit (range 20/60 feet.; one creature). Hit: 9 (1d12 + 2) psychic damage.

ENCOUNTER BUILDING 
Level 2                      XP 200

Black-eyed children often travel in pairs and try to get victims to take them home where an unspeakable  fate awaits.

Top Ten Movie Countdown BlogFest



10. Planet of the Apes (Original) Apes ruling a post-apocalytic landscape.  Damn, dirty apes at that!

9.  True Lies - Probably my favorite all time spy movie.  Great performances from everyone.

8. Star Wars It was the beginning of the road for me for comics and rpg's.

7. Terminator 2 The right mix of film for that period of my life.  

6. Sky High A super fun movie that I enjoy with my kids whenever it's on.

5. Aliens - Cameron's masterpiece.  Game over, man.

4. Big Trouble in Little China A Mystical, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Kung Fu, Monster, Ghost Story!

3. John Carter - It got SO many things right, I even understand why it was simply titled John Carter.

2. Avengers (2012) This is the best comic book I've read in over a decade.

1. Empire Strikes Back - Leia: "I love you."    Han: "I know."

New D&D Next Playtest Packet this Wednesday!

Mike Mearls newest Legends and Lore article promises a new playtest packet on Wednesday, March 20th.

It's promising the Ranger, Druid, Paladin, revised Two-Weapon Fighting and Races, a slight tweak to skills, and Exploration Rules.

Avatar the Last Airbender for the AGE system

Jeff Moore over at Dreams and Dragons has posted a version of Green Ronin's Adventure Game Engine for the Avatar the Last Airbender setting.  

I'm a huge Avatar fan and really dig what he's done, check it out!

D&D Next: Balefire--Cantrip for Arcane Magic-Users



Balefire 
(Cantrip on the Wizard's Spell List)


Effect: Make a magic attack against one creature within 80 feet of you. On a hit, the target takes 1d6 fire damage.  If a 6 is rolled, roll another die and add it to your total, continue to do this until you no longer roll a 6.
Special: If your caster level is 7th or higher, the damage is 3d6. If your caster level is 11th or higher, the damage is 4d6. If your caster level is 16th or higher, the damage is 5d6. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ironcloaks: Something Wicked

John W. and Chapen from the Ironcloaks game began working on some fiction outside the main game and their work inspired the following bits of foreshadowing for what's heading their way:

   Across from the church, two small figures prowled the shadows. Waiting to see if they would again glimpse their quarry before sunrise.
   “Glop, glop, glop, cruck.”
“What are you doing?” The older watcher screeched, his irritation forcing his voice up high enough to embarrass himself.
“Chwingg...glop, glop” The younger watcher spewed out unabashedly.
“Chewing what?” Asked the older one. 
 The younger of the two bared his prize through clenched teeth.
“You swiped her eyeball?!” The eldest was shocked at seeing the wench's orb held between his companions teeth like a sweet candy. Even now he marveled at how vividly blue their victim's eye had been. The youngest simply shrugged and grinned, “Oh, her memories are SO sweet.”
   The eldest began to chastise his bratty ward's behavior, both for making such a rash decision and because he was angry he hadn't thought of it first, but the wind shifted and when he caught the scent he froze before ranting. As he looked to his left to warn the younger one, he realized they'd both smelled Her by the look of fright on his companion's face.
   Their mission had brought them into the Gibbous Queen's territory and they were trespassing. If she caught them, she would have the right to punish them and there would be no way for the Crescent King to interfere on their behalf. Not that he would, he had refused to ask her permission in the first place and put them both in this jeopardy by asking them to spy on the knight.
   “We have to go!” The oldest hissed frantically, only now realizing that his younger partner had already begun squeezing down the rat hole they'd used to enter this alley, the wench's eyeball long forgotten, having dropped to the ground and rolled next to the alley wall. The older looked longingly at it and then began squirming down the hole, deciding it wasn't worth the risk.


     She read through his poetry again and wept, sobbing, knowing that the young boy who had written his love for the world in these verses was gone forever. She knew her sadness was compounded by the fact that he had been truly lost to her for almost seven years before his actual demise...no not death, murder! He had been murdered and she would find out by whom and she would have her revenge. Yes, an eye for an eye.
     The anger almost hid her sadness, at least for a moment, but then she cursed herself. His downfall had begun when he'd joined that....that....cult. The beautiful young poet, the little brother with eyes full of light, had disappeared fully then. She knew his grief at their mother's death had caused it. In many ways he'd died that day, as well as her. And now she was all that was left, gone were her mother, father, uncle, two sisters and now her third and last brother. All cruelly leaving her here, so she could rot each and every moment her fetid breath escaped her lungs.
     She should have fought that cult's grip on him. She should have pulled him back to her. Shame made her remember that he'd look so much like their beloved mother, that it hurt to see him. To look upon his face and see their own mother. The sobbing overwhelmed her.
    No, grief would not guide her. Vengeance would, first with the cult and then with his murderer. And maybe, just maybe, she would be blessed enough to join them all in the hereafter, sooner rather than later.


     Deep under the earth, he stood in front of the double doors to the inner chamber. Their stone faces etched in the language of the Wind Swords. He read their grave warnings, but they held no fear for him, his destiny was nearly at hand.
     He looked to the last three members of his party. They had started with nine, and this was all that was left. He had worked with most of them for over a decade and each had known and accepted the risks.  They were, after all, professionals. He would honor them all later, but now was not the time for nostalgia. Not here. Their requiem would not be in this dank tomb, but at a wake in the light of the sun.
     He looked at Rutger, the trap expert and motioned with his head to get started. He watched his oldest comrade inhale deeply and make a sign to the pagan god, Krysis. Then Rutger went to to work on the doors. He joined the rest who were all listening tensely for more denizens of this deep, dark hole shuffling toward them in the blackness. His senses took in the dampness of the cavern's walls and ceiling; the foul air that wrapped through the stone and his lungs; the elaborate stone tiling with it's symmetrical pattern that made up the floor. Finally, hen he heard the soft click of the door's mechanism and a small whirring as the ancient doors parted easily.
     He had requested that no one follow him into the the small chamber and none of them challenged it. The fleece was the only thing in the room, not even dust gathered here. It hung on the far wall on a small peg. It's wool as fine as the day it had been shaved.
     He removed it and began to study the words on the skin. The secret had been entrusted to the dwarves, hidden deep within the Jarl's Freehold. Such a remarkably odd choice, but the dwarves had owed the Monks at least that much. To protect the secret, to protect the world.
     He sighed and brought the fleece out to his waiting party. They had the practiced ease of tomb raiders, but he could see they were hopeful this quest was finally over. 
    He shook his head and fished into his sack for the Scroll he'd purchased and handed it to Wessely. “The Scroll will easily teleport us from this hole, read it quickly, please. And then we go to Jarlsburg where we will finish this.”

Roll20.net--Scored a Crit!

Last night, John W. ran myself and another player through a workout of the roll20.net virtual tabletop RPG system.

I worked well.  There was a bit of a learning curve, but I have that may have been my own shortcomings, instead of a weakness of the interface.

Roll20 easily utilized my webcam and mic, I unfortunately, didn't have my headphones or speaker with me.  I was having trouble seeing the map as a player, but when I logged out and logged back in as a GM, everything went fine.

Assembling an encounter or importing maps from the web is a snap.  And I was very impressed with it's easy to understand interface and self-explanatory toolset.

There seems to be a wide assortment of tokens to use for the player and GM and I see it being a major toolset in my future.

The die roller is great and it keeps track of your last 10 rolls, which was a huge help last night.

I used my MacBook Pro and had no trouble getting everything working.

I really can't praise it enough.  I haven't used other Virtual Table Tops, but at this point, I see no reason to seek any more out.

Too Quiet

This has been an odd week, in many ways a pretty simple week.  Although I did have a bout of stomach flu wednesday night and it forced me to bail on running my Ironcloaks game.

It did give John W., a fellow friday player and myself a chance to check out roll20.net which went pretty well and is something I'd been eyeballing to help Mark M. and I get a chance to game together.

I've also sat down with a playtest document and adventure and am pleased at the direction that this version of the rules document is going.  Wish I could say more.

I'm prepping for taking over the Friday game starting today and I'll be using the AGE system.  Still looking for a name for it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sellswords of Darkness: Ruminating on the Storytelling System

My good friend John W. pointed out to me tonight that I should use the Storytelling system (nWoD) instead of the Storyteller system (oWoD).  And I'd been batting this around in my head a bit and was glad to hear John's POV.

I think I translate most of it and ditch quite a bit of the rules changes.  I might lower the standard TN from 8 to 7.  Which would make most Class TN come in around 5 or 6.

Any opinions?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sellswords of Darkness: Tweaking Storyteller

It's been over a decade since I've played (Rob H.'s Vampire: the Masquerade) or run (Aberrant) the Storyteller system.

There are some things about versions of it I remember hating (1's cancel Successes depending on version) and things I think could be problematic for what I'm trying to do (Health Track).

So standard TN is 6.  If a task is harder you need more Successes.

1's DO NOT cancel Successes, and you only botch if you have more 1's on your roll than Successes.

10's count as 2 Successes.

I've decided to alter the Health Track so it works like FATE.  If I get hit for 3 points of damage I fill in box 3.  If I get hit for 3 again, I fill in box 4 (it "pushes" damage to the next highest open box).

Soak will be half your Stamina plus Armor.  No rolling Soak.

Damage will be half the value listed plus Successes.  So, if I have a Dagger that does 1+Str (3) then I do 4 divided by 2 or 2 points of Damage plus Success.  I've always felt that Storyteller and D6, as presented, have too much dice rolling.  If I'm rolling a pool of dice for Task resolution, I shouldn't also have to roll damage and then my opponent roll Soak.  And then Storyteller adds various types of damage to track, as well.

So, no difference in Aggravated, Lethal or Bashing damage.  It's all the same and it can kill you.

D&D Next: Witengamot Quietus


Witengamot Quietus
Medium Humanoid (Human)
Armor Class 15
Hit Points 43 (4d10+5)
Speed 40 ft.
Senses darkvision 30 ft.
Str 11 (+0)   Dex 13 (+2)     Con 12 (+1)
Int 15 (+2)   Wis 16 (+3)     Cha 10 (+0)
Alignment neutral evil 
Languages Common, Infernal 

TRAITS

Power Points: Twice per encounter, the witengamot quietus can increase a psionic bolts damage by 10 or target an roll additional 2 creatures.


Stealthy: The witengamot quietus has advantage on any dexterity check to sneak or hide.

Telepathy: The witengamot quietus can communicate telepathically with any creature within 100 feet of it that can understand a language.

ACTIONS
Melee Attack—dagger: +4 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one creature). Hit: 2 (1d4) piercing damage.

Ranged Attack—psionic bolt: + 5 to hit (range 100/300 feet.; one creature). Hit: 10 (2d6 + 3) psychic damage.

ENCOUNTER BUILDING 
Level 5                      XP 400

The quietus are the vanguard for the Witengamot to make it's presence felt as it targets a region it plans to usurp.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sellswords of Darkness: Vampire and the Gray Mouser

There are certain games I'd like to run or stories I'd like to tell, that at one time or another I felt I was not ready for and am still slightly intimidated by.

So, I decided I'd start talking about them and see if that will motivate me to do something with the ideas.

For well over a decade I've had this idea about running a Fritz Lieber inspired Sword & Sorcery game using the Storyteller System (oWoD).

Before and even after DnD 3.X came out, I'd always wanted a skill based fantasy RPG with simple classes.  Basically, the original thought was inspired by Cyberpunk 2020, a universal skill list and mechanic with very basic advantages from your "Class".

However, I really like dice pool based games and felt that the oWoD really got how to present character generation and made it simple yet enticing.  Those little dots made a big impact on me.

So, I figured I'd take most of say Vampire: the Dark Ages (minus Virtues, Blood Pool, Disciplines and probably Humanity) and go from there.

Standard Target Number (TN hereafter) of 6.  However, a Class could lower the TN for certain skills.

The Classes and their benefits are as follows:

Fighter:  Archery, Melee and Ride have TN 4.

Thief: Legerdemain, Subterfuge, Stealth and Dodge have TN 4.

Cleric: Theology and 2 Knowledge Skills have TN 4.  Can work Miracles.  Miracles are a Wits+Theology roll and are driven by the player creativity.  They are focused on defensive magic.

Mage:  Occult and 1 Knowledge have TN 4.  Can cast Spells.  Spells are a Int+Occult roll and are driven by player creativity.  They are focused on offensive magic.

Ranger: Archery, Hearth Wisdom, Survival and Stealth have TN 5.  Can cast 1 Hex per scene.

Paladin:  Leadership, Melee, Ride and Theology have TN 5.  Can work 1 Miracle per scene.

Barbarian:  Alertness, Athletics, Dodge and Melee have TN 5.

Bard:  All Knowledges have TN 5.  Can 1 work 1 Miracle and cast 1 Spell per scene.

Monk:  Athletics, Dodge and Brawl have TN 5.

Druid:  Hearth Wisdom, Animal Ken, Survival and 1 Knowledge have TN 5.  Can cast Hexes.  Hexes are Perception+Heath Wisdom and are drive by player creativity.  They are focused on elemental magic.

Races:

Elves would get +1 to any Social Attribute.

Dwarves would get +2 to Melee.

Halflings would get +2 to Dodge.

Gnomes would get +1 to any Mental Attribute.

Humans would get +1 to any Attribute.

More soon.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Happy GM's Day


Happy GM's Day!

I'm a Game Master and I'm going to tell you some of my secrets:  

I get nervous before every session I run.  20 Years after the first time I ran a game, it still happens.

I love being a GM because I like telling stories, but I love becoming NPC's more.  I love making up gestures and catchphrases and unusual behaviors.  

I like that moment when everything seems to click and the group's mind's eye is all watching the same scene.  Those are the moments I live for as a GM.

I've grown to enjoy World Design, but it's a skill I'm still exploring.

I'm far more comfortable being improvisational than having a strict outline for the evening.  I make a rough road map, but we could end up anywhere before the night's over, and that's ok.

I have to consciously choose focusing on the game, instead of the rules.  I'm a game designer by instinct, but I've discovered that it's more fun for the groups I've played with to simply play, than to let myself fret over the rules.  

As I get older, I want faster character creation and straight forward rules.  That's why I dove into the OSR.

My greatest enemy is Game Master ADD.  

DrivethruRPG has a GM's Day Sale!


And you can find it here!

Ironcloaks Status Update

We finally finished the saga of the Alabaster Bouquet this past Thursday.  We've added a few players over the last few weeks and I think the game is starting to gain the momentum I'd hoped for.

I'm anxious to continue, as my notes for the next chapter are geared toward filling out each character's past a bit and working on their goals.

It was revealed that our Monk's character would die at the hands of the Master of Dim Mak, so we will see where that takes him.

I'm hoping to work on a couple of major arcs that take time to simmer while dealing with smaller, more personal stuff to drive the plot for at least the next several sessions.

D&D 5th Edition: Training

I was reading a thread on RPG.Net about DnD 5th Edition House Rules and I noticed that one I've been using for awhile wasn't listed....