Monday, September 18, 2017

Product Development: Stat Blocks

I'm stepping back into the publishing arena and am developing a product for the OSR and DnD 5th Edition.

At the moment, as I work out stat blocks I'm pondering two issues.  

First, should I simply include a PDF for the OSR, in this case Labyrinth Lord and a PDF for 5E? Or should I feature dual stat blocks within the same PDF?

Second, here is the format for both stat blocks, please tell me what you think?

For the OSR
Yvelda Rivenheart (Female Hobgoblin AL C, MV 30', AC 5, HD 4 +1, #AT 1 [weapon], THAC0 16, DG 1d6 or weapon, SV 4 fighter, ML 11, XP 80)

For 5E
Yvelda Rivenheart (Female Hobgoblin AC 18, hp 97, 3 maul +9 (2d6+3), hobgoblin abilities,  Str +3, Dex +2, Con +3, Int +3, Cha +2. CR 1)


For the OSR
Argyle Fayde (Male Tiefling AL C, MV 30', AC 9, HD 2, #AT 1 [weapon or spell], THAC0 18, DG 1d4 or weapon, SV 2 magic-user, ML 7, XP 20)

For 5E
Argyle Fayde (Male Tiefling  AC 13, hp 33, 1 firebolt +4 (1d10), fire resistance, tiefling abilities, Dex +1, Int +1, Wis +1, Cha +2. CR 1)

Opinions would be appreciated.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Gamestorming: Teenage Mutant Ninja Tortles

Growing up in the 80's and being a comic book nerd, I've always loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Battle Beasts...basically I like humanoid Animals who use martial arts and guns.

Friday, Wizards of the Coast released the Tortle Package with it's proceeds going to the Extra Life charity. You get the tortle race and some additional information on Chult. 

It's worth the $10.

After reading through it, I started realizing that the tortle race, along with lizard folk, minotaurs, arakocra, kenku, and tabaxi, formed the backbone of a Mutant Animal game. You can stick with fantasy using straight DnD 5E or you can use UltraModern5 or Modern 5E for a game closer to the inspiration, or even Hyperlanes for SF.

I'm pretty stoked about the idea, but I don't have room to start another game right now, so I'm hoping to work this out sometime next year.

At this point, I'm leaning toward a modern setting probably working with UltraModern5, but allowing at least Warlocks and Mystics. The players would be raised in the Nursery, a base owned by the CHON Corporation. Are the mutants uplifted or hybrids? What is CHON's purpose for them? Why does the Si Fan have an interest in them? And last but no least, why is the sasquatch known as Howard Bly spying on them?

Friday, September 15, 2017

1,000 Faces: Sabrina and Serena Wollstonecraft

The Wollstonecraft twins are ambitious up and comers within the Contractor's Guild of Zobek. Their mother is Enchidna Wollstonecraft of Lem, Qent's most successful caravan magnate who has opened trade routes throughtout most of Tarth. Their oldest sister, Amarilla, went off to study wizardry at the Tower of Omens and Enchidna assumed her twins would want nothing more than to assume her place in the family business when she retired.

However, Sabrina and Serena despised their step-father, Piers Arliss-Wollstonecraft and their younger half-sister, Vyvian. Both women were always far more interested in stories of lost treasures and piracy, eventually found their way to Zobek and in the business of their uncle, Taurus Wollstonecraft, a moneylender who had ties to the Minerva crime family.

The twins were drawn to their Uncle's darker life, filled with violence, intimidation, and murder.  Eventually, a lover they shared named Norrin Dard, introduced them to the worship of Zehir and from there they used that thread to gain the access to the Contractor's Guild for the training they desired.

Rumor has it that the twins have deeply impressed Guild Master Yuanna Shadowspear and have continued to perform above expectaions for assassins of so little experience.

Sabrina (7th Level Human Assassin Rogue and 1st Level Sorcerer) is the quieter of the two, she notices everything and truly enjoys the kill. She believes that some strange heritage flows through the blood of her family and spends her downtime perfecting it. She is very close to their oldest sister and exchanges letters with her often.

Serena (8th Level Human Mastermind Rogue) is talkative and vivacious. She likes to be the center of attention and is always aware of the most recent gossip, a literal encyclopedia of who's who in both the underworld and high society. She is plagued by recurring nightmares of murdering her mother, which she has hidden even from Sabrina.

Both women are very loyal to the Guild Master and to their mentor Trok of Brimmen. While they learned the tenets of Zehir, they have no interest in the religious aspects of the Guild and therefore despise Highs Shroud Cedric, an old friend of their father who seems to always be keeping his eye upon the two women.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan: The Olman

My Oakhurst game started with the Sunless Citadel and has just entered the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan.

While my game is set in my own world, Tarth, which is a mixture of homebrewed sandbox and Nentir Vale, and Greyhawk. Reading through the adventure, the Olmans and their language come up regularly. None of my Players speak Olman and I didn't plan ahead enough to factor them.

My solution is to have the Olman people be the source of genasi for my campaign and exchange the Olman language for Primordial.

While I currently have no genasi characters, it gives me options for how they might enter the Campaign if word gets out that the Players found Tamoachan and raided it of it's treasures.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Thinking about WotC's Campaigns for D&D 5th Edition

Because I run a Wizards of the Coast Premier Store, I got my stock of Tomb of Annihilation in today and I took my lunch to browse through it. It's awesome, gorgeous, I can't recommend it enough.

But as I was browsing through it, a thought occurred to me. The campaigns and adventures that have published for 5th Edition, to me, channel the spirit of early DnD and ADnD. I don't say this simply because many of them draw deeply on classic roots, but in the sense that yes, they are mostly set in the Forgotten Realms, but in the same way that early adventures were set in Greyhawk or Blackmoor. Sure, they can expand that world, but they are just as much a DM's tool to shape their world.

I'll be the first to admit, I didn't start roleplaying until 1991 and ADnD 2nd Edition is where I started, so I'm not really an authority on those earlier modules. But I've read them since and again, in my opinion, each new Adventure WotC releases gets better and this impression I have feels more accurate.

Whatever the truth is, I feel like I'm living in another Golden Age of DnD and I'm very happy to be doing so.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Starfinder: Part 1

As a fan of Dreadstar and FFG's Dragon Star, I picked up Paizo's Starfinder RPG.

While Pathfinder is not my game of choice, I admire what Paizo has done with it and the direction it has taken. I've never been a min/maxer so the sheer number of options within Pathfinder are a bit overwhelming to me as a player. Those options and the Pathfinder rules themselves are doubly overwhelming to me as a Game Master.

Diving into Starfinder was not an easy decision for the above reasons.

The book is gorgeous, as beautiful as any product Paizo has produced. However, at 45, these eyes aren't sure how I feel about a 500 page book with something along the lines of an 8 point type font. The page count alone is intimidating to me.

I like the rule change where Hit Points are a flat number (as I did when I first encountered it in FantasyCraft), but I'm uncertain about adding Stamina Points. I'm guessing this is to allow a broader range of weapon damage, but I'm not sure why a laster gun has to be more deadly than a sword?

I'm still making my way through it and I'll post more thoughts as I continue.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Fiend Folio: Cifal

"The cifal — the name is acronymic of 'colonial insect-formed artificial life'  used by gnomes — refers to several swarms of insects (several hundred thousand insects to each swarm) which come together to form a single amorphous creature about man-sized."
Medium beast, unaligned

Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 45 (7d8 + 14) 
Speed 30 ft.
   Str            Dex         Con           Int         Wis         Cha
16 (+3)        11 (+0)        14 (+2)        4 (-3)      10 (+0)      6 (-2)

Damage Resistances Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing
Senses blindsense 30 ft. 
passive Perception 10
Languages --
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)


Swarming Insect Bites. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (3d6 + 3) poison damage.

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Avalon Game Company is having a $1 Sale

Avalon Games which published Heroes Wear Masks for DnD 5E and Pathfinder is having a company-wide $1 sale on many of their PDF products!

You should check it out now!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

D&D 5th Edition: Skaven Clanrat

   "Clanrats forms the vast overall bulk of Skaven military power, a large verminous horde of ratmen that go to war as basic and highly-expendable front-line infantry. These Skaven belong to any one of thousands of Clans scattered throughout the underground burrows, strongholds and bursting cavern-cities that make up the whole of the Under-Empire. Of all the teeming masses, only the worker dregs, the worthless and even more insignificant Slave Rats, are care considered even more numerous then the Clanrats themselves.

   Clanrats are slightly smaller than man-sized, standing four to five feet high. They range between lithe and scrawny and are possessed of a constant energy, most commonly seen in a nervous twitching of their hairless, worm-like tails. A single Clanrat is not a fearsome opponent. A lone warrior will lack any degree of discipline or determination and is likely to skulk in the shadows, afraid to go forward, too catious to go backwards and terrified to even stand it's own ground for more then a moment without fleeing. Unless driven by black hunger, a single Clanrat will only attack something that is visibly weakened or crippled, preferring even then to attack unseen from behind. When banded together in a large pack, however, each individual Skaven would bolster each other's confidence and fuel their feral ferocity to a highly aggressive level. This allows the individually cowardly ratmen to form massive units that will recklessly hurl themselves into a fray against obviously superior troops."

Medium humanoid (skaven), chaotic evil

Armor Class 13 (leather armor)
Hit Points 11 (2d8 + 2) 
Speed 30 ft.
   Str            Dex         Con           Int         Wis         Cha
10 (+0)        15 (+2)        12 (+1)        11 (+0)      13 (+1)      9 (-1)

Skills Athletics +2, Perception +3, Stealth +4
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13

Languages Common, Undercommon
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)

Keen Smell. The skaven clanrat has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell. 

Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) slashing damage and 2 (1d4) poison damage.

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Oakhurst: The Contractor's Guild

The Contractor's Guild is the only authorized and legally operating assassination guild in the Kingdom of Qent. The Guild operates out of the city of Zobek, along the eastern bank of the Essex River.

The Guild received it's charter from King Urth XI after successfully eliminating the Ianna of Tarn, also known as the Usurper and who some sages claim was Urth's older sister.

For the last 200 years they have followed their charter's guidelines and even opened a charter house in Jarlsburg to the north, Lem to the west, and Freeport in the south.

The current Guild Master is Yuanna Shadowspear, the great, great grandaughter of Kelven Shadowspear, who assassinated Ianna the Usurper.

The Guild also enjoys certain tax benefits within the Kingdom due to their status as a church of Zehir. The high priest of the Guild, known as the High Shroud is Cedric of Lem, also known as Crowspeaker. He holds nearly as much power as Yuanna and there is a growing antagonism between the two.

Membership within the Guild does not require members to worship Zehir, but a growing number of recruits are being converted, which is shifting more power toward Crowspeaker.

Yuanna has no use for gods or zealots and is secretly seeking ways to split from the church, even though it will be mean a substantial increase on taxes from the Kingdom.

DnD Beyond: Two Weeks In

I've reached a point with DnD Beyond where I'm not using my print books any longer and hypothetically, if I had access to PDFs, I'm not using them either.

As a DM, I find the campaign feature works very well. It has Private and Public Notes which are easy to use and have simplified my workload.

The chat interface is great for Play by Post, scheduling, questions or simple discussions. For me it has replaced our Facebook group.

I really can't stress how glad I am I early adopted. The product, as it stands right now, is worth the investment to me and any further features will simply be icing on the cake.

I'm planning on slowly buying the additional monster and magic item sections of the various campaigns, about 1 each week, as they range from $3 to $6.

For me DnD Beyond is a 10 out of 10.

Oakhurst: The Blood War

The Blood War between devils and demons or baatezu and Tanar'ri, respectively, has always fascinated me.

In my Oakhurst game, the Blood War is over. Perhaps Asmodeus, as a new god, pushed the Abyss deep into the Elemental Chaos as he did in the 4th Edition Era or perhaps not? What matters is that, according to prophecy, it has reignited and the Players are right in the middle of things. In fact, our Paladin has to find a mythic shield and horn to protect his world from this newly ignited conflagration.

What has me excited, isn't merely the chance to toss my Player's into the crossfire of war between fiends, but also how those fiends might go about interfering with or even recruiting said players. How will celestials factor in? And what role will yugoloths play?

In my mind's eye, the Blood War is an epic, desperate, ruthless battle between enemies willing to do anything to win.  In many ways, they remind me of my Players.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

1,000 Faces: Bellamy and Plum

Nadir Bellamy and Robespierre Plumb are tomb raiders, reivers, and brigands who have reputation for the merciless approach they take toward their dark deeds.

Bellamy is a Fighter (5th Level Human Battlemaster Fighter), as well as a sage and accomplished alchemist and poisoner. He is very tall and brawny with long midnight-black hair down to his arse and a tattoo of a serpent eating it's own tail, circling his throat. Rumors insist that Bellamy is obsessed with finding the fabled Tower of Eram.

Plumb is Sorcerer and Rogue (3rd Level Tiefling Wild Mage Sorcerer and 3rd Level Assassin Rogue) and a keen observer of people, a gifted liar, and charming when the mood strikes him. His skin is ruddy in color and his eyes peculiar. He is missing two fingers on his left hand and is constantly fidgeting. Plumb's only goal, besides his work, is to find the next woman to bed.

The pair have been working as a team for over a decade, where they claim to have met while being held in the dungeons of Baron Yyrd for horse thievery and assault. They insist that they broke free one night and are responsible for murdering Yrd.

When not working a con, plotting a robbery, or working a contract they can be found most often at the Laughing Corpse, an public house known for catering to the rougher side of life and not safe for civilized folk.

The duo spend coin nearly as quickly as they "earn" it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 30

What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?

Hanging out with my kids and my friends around the table.
For years, gaming for me was about the process, the theory, the mechanics, the story; everything but hanging out with my friends and laughing at stupid jokes. In my case, the latter is what I should have been focusing on. For a long period of time, I made gaming a negative in my life. I'm lucky that I saw that, that I owned up to it, and then I moved on from it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017: Days 27-29

What are the essential tools for good gaming?

Remembering it's just a game, a good group of decent people who like to have fun, some dice and paper.

What film series is the biggest source of quotes in your groups?

Right now, it's the Rick and Morty TV Show.

What is the best run Kickstarter you have backed?

Any Kickstart done by Robert Schwalb Entertainment. 
Both of his Kickstarters I have back have been smooth sailing.

Monday, August 28, 2017

D&D 5th Edition: The Expended Property for Magic Items

I've been contemplating using some magic items with finite charges per older editions of DnD.

In thinking about this, I worked up a mechanic inspired by DnD 4E and 5E's Recharge ability used in monster design.

Essentially, a magic item can have an Expended property with the number or numbers on a d6 that cause the item to become expended and run out of charges.

Here is an example:


Wondrous item, rare, expendable 5-6
As a reaction, you gain advantage on a saving throw against a spell or magical effect. After using this ability, roll a d6. On a 5-6 the item is expended and no longer works.

I'm looking at this approach because as a DM it means I don't have to figure out how many charges an item has and track them.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

DMing: Magic Items

My first DM was very concerned about running a Monty Haul campaign and magic items were few and far between. This was ADnD 2nd Edition and I realize now that not only did it make our character's lives harder, but it also reduced customization of characters.

However, I find myself being tight on magic items, as well. But it's not for fear of my campaign getting out of hand, it's simply that I forget about them. Since I tend to either run my own adventures or go dramatically off course of published adventures, I find that I forget to add magic items as rewards.

I'm trying to rectify that and to give the Players some varied goods I'm considering going back to Old School DnD where some of the items have finite charges that don't refresh. I guess, it's my way of bring Monte Cook Games' cyphers into DnD on some level.

Additionally, I'm looking at using the concept of Legacy Weapons from DnD 3.5. Hopefully, this will allow me to spotlight characters as they explore the lore of their favorite item and will also give them some in-game rewards, as well.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 26

Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

While, it's not my game of choice, it has several options for character creation and VTT software and much of the game is OGL and available for free.

Friday, August 25, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 25

What is the best way to thank your GM?

Tell them they are doing a good job, 
a GM can't hear that enough.
Additionally, chip in on books and supplies or by them a snack.

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 24

Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more?

Other Side Publishing. 
I've been a fan of +Timothy Brannan and his blog for years. 
As a blogger and designer he has taught me a great deal and he has always been friendly and forthcoming with help and advice.
He designs some excellent products and all of it is 
well worth a few sheckles.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

D&D Beyond: An Unexpected Upside

I spend quite a bit of time with my 3 Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Core books, while making posts here. I love PDFs, actually prefering them to print books these days, but I've had to confine myself to the print products for 5th Edition.

A surprising upside of my DnD Beyond subscription and purchase of the 3 Core books was how well they are replacing my print books. Finding topics is very quick and intuitive and the areas I'm looking at often have call-outs that reference additional information.

I bought into DnD Beyond, primarily, as a Dungeon Master and thus far they are proving very, very useful to me.

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 23

Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

Castle Falkenstein. 
I love that half of it is a novel 
and half of it is the rules and 
they are are different paper stock.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 21 & 22

What RPG does the most with the least words?
Dungeons and Dragons Holmes' Basic.

What RPGs are the easiest for you to run?
Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, Champions 4th Edition, Shadow of the Demon Lord.

On Being a Game Master: Player Buy-In

I have two gaming groups and absolutely zero drama, it's wonderful and very refreshing. However, one problem I've encountered a few times in the last year or two is the issue of Players buying-in to the game. I've mostly seen this from new players, but I'm sure it can be an issue for anyone.

I attribute it to the expectations of some players who are more versed in novels, cinema, and these days even DnD on YouTube.

Essentially, what I'm talking about are player's who are constantly expecting for me, as the DM, to provide their character with a reason to continue to adventure. Heck, sometimes they even expect the other characters to provide this drive. At my table, if you are setting there, the understanding is that you want to be there and to some degree so does your character.

It's great to have deep ties to the story being told and clear goals that your character is working toward, but those things are two-way streets. The person running the game needs help achieving those goals. When you sit at my table for the first time, I don't know if your an active or passive player. If you prefer deep roleplaying, exploration, or heavy combat, and honestly most of us want some or all of that at the same time and our preferences can vary depending on the session.

And at my table I'm deeply appreciative, if the players convey their goals and expectations, though I can't guarantee to address all of them immediately.

Additionall, sometimes your character's arc is completed or the character isn't what you expected, and that's okay. I don't want you playing a character you don't enjoy. What I want is for you to come to the table and realize you are running a character in a game. That you are going to work with the other players to have an experience and either shape the story in the direction you want to go or be willing to follow another character doing the same thing.

Finally, every table isn't for everyone. I've had players who didn't care for my DMing style and we all parted amicably after communicating and trying, it just wasn't meant to be.

Monday, August 21, 2017

D&D Beyond: The Beginning

Last night I bought in. I paid for a year's worth of the DM tier, all 3 core books, Volo's Guide, and the SCAG Guide.

I want someway to centralize characters for my campaign and my son's campaign. 

It's not exactly what I want yet. I'm anxious for iOS support and I'd like a cleaner way to export or print out stat blocks for monsters.

But I like where it's started and I want to see it succeed. It's a shame that Wizards of the Coast has taken this long for an official solution.

If you are on there and want to chat, I'm Sunsword.

I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 20

Which is the best source for out-of-print RPGs? 
Yeah, I know that it has merged with, but I prefer going to the former site, maybe just out of habit.

Oakhurst: Dungeon Mastering Session 13

This is an Actual Play report (with my DM notes for the session).

The group headed to the Laughing Corpse to see Meegan and learn about Zeos the Necromancer (For continuity and to root the players to the setting I decided on the spot last session to put Zeos right under the player's noses. Meegan was an NPC a previous PC had had a fling with).

The group meets with a half-orc bartender and inquires about Meegan. She comes out to speak them and they bluntly ask her about Zeos. She asks them to meet her at table in a few minutes. The Wizard creates a magic circle to protect them from celestials, fiends, and undead as they wait (he asked if there was any way to conceal the glow to the magic circle and I allowed him to roll Arcana with a DC 20, which he passed). Meegan brought out food and ale for them and the talked about finding a way to meet with Zeos and why (only 3 of my 4 players ate and drank, I wanted to have them be drugged and offered them an Inspiration for going along with me. One player resisted and I told him he'd have to spend an Inspiration to avoid it, which he did not have. I stole this from FATE)

The players succumbed to the powerful drugs quickly and woke up in an underground cell with an iron gate and a zombie standing guard. The stone of the cell had phosphorescent running through it, providing light. The zombie began to moan and a man with white-blond hair and crescent moon scar came into the room. The Ranger remembered seeing him at the Laughing Corpse (I wanted to introduce an NPC that could become a long-term adversary for the group and Meegan fits that bill. However, she isn't a combatant per se and so I created her right hand, Logriss, for that role)

Logriss explained that Zeos would meet with them soon and would determine their fate. The players found that all of their gear had been taken (The spellcasters became extremely frustrated that their spell components were missing). After a bit of time, a very tall man in black robes that concealed his face entered the cell area. He inquired what business they had with him. The players said they required his services and learnt of him from Gargok Trou. He countered by asking why dungeon crawlers and agents of the Mayor would want his aid (It shocked the players that they had a reputation and they were Known)

They countered that they found the Mayor inept and explained that he wasn't aware of the Necromancer. Zeos explained that he knew that and that perhaps he had eyes on the Mayor. After more negotiations he explained that he would allow them to live and leave and if they wanted to work for him he need a job done. He told them of the Karnak family that had fled Oakhurst and the destruction of the Prospector, their general store, but the Players explained that the Karnak family were wererats and that they burned the Prospector down and had discovered deep tunnels into the underdark and the ratmen who dwelt there, as well as other monsters. Zeos explained the Karnak familiy were not wererats and that the tunnels of the ratmen had a strange idol that his associates required. If they retrieved that then they should contact Meegan (The ratmen are one of the factions from earlier in the game that the Players seemed to have moved on from. That's okay, but I wanted to remind them that antagonists remain and that they are plotting and scheming).

Zeos then left with Logriss and had his zombies release them 10 minutes later. The Ranger began tracking a rider on a horse headed to Oakhurst, but they learned it was Logriss and had no clue where Zeos went. They also contacted Corkie the Cleric and warned her about Meegan and Zeos and asked her to keep an eye on the Corpse as they were heading to Northrun to seek the bedlam inmante who knew the location of Tomoachan. The Party then headed to the Firefly Inn they were staying at. However, waiting for them was Venture Captain Roland Van Zandt of the Pathfinder Society who had sent the original group into the Sunless Citadel. He was shocked to see that only the Ranger was still adventuring and offered him work on a Society Expedition. It would take them to the Lost Land of Morado, an hidden plateau to the South, in search of an artifact known as the Verdant Heart. The Ranger declined and Van Zandt offered him a sending kit if he wanted to join later, he also offered him a special pill to aid them in traveling to the Captains location, which the Ranger took (Van Zandt's role will become clearer as the game progresses, plus I wanted the Pathfinder Society to be reinforced as an active player in this world).

The Wizard cast alarm on his room, while the others slept. Several hours later a ratman attempted to kill the Ranger in his bed (I had this encounter planned before going into the session, again I wanted to remind them that their enemies were moving forward too. Of the group that went into the tunnels below the Karnak house, only the Ranger and Wizard are left and only the Rangers is left from the original party, hence why he is the target). While the Ranger was hurt severely he fended off the ratman and the group's decision to head out for Northrun was reinforced (I know it seems like I'm creating "quest hubs", but I want the Players to see that their achievements build reputation and the world is moving around them too, but in the end they decide which direction they go in).

After breakfast, the group met with the Mayor and offered to escort the 3 envoys from Spartansberg back on their way to Northrun, which helped pay for some of their supplies. The trip was uneventful and about a day's out from Northrun, they came across a Roadhouse, the Hare, whose owner, Tiara McClintock, was the heir to the chest they carried. They stopped and met Tiara and her husband Tode and presented her with the chest...

In truth, I have plenty of notes about the Hare and Northrun, other directions would have required more improvisation, but I'm serious about letting the players drive the plot.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 17, 18, & 19

Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?

World of Synnabar.

Which RPG have you played the most in your life?

That's a tie between Champions 4th Edition and 
Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition.

Which RPG features the best writing?

Castle Falkenstein.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 16

Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. 
It's pretty close to what I would have designed for my perfect version of DnD.

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 15

Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

Savage Worlds. 
It's easy to learn, easy to teach, easy to adjust (though very little adjustment is needed), and can handle any genre.

Monday, August 14, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 14

Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. 
Since I began playtesting it, right before creating this blog, I've finished 4 campaigns. The first was a playtest of levels 6-12. The second started as a playtest of Out of the Abyss and evolved. The third was Princes of the Apocalypse. And the fourth we finished up a few weeks ago and was a playtest of a campaign that releases in September.
I'm currently running my 5th, Oakhurst.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Thay Invictus: Session 2

I'm playing Robert San Fernando, Bobby from the DnD Cartoon "all growed up".

We made it to the Ziggurat and saw numerous slaves and guards--orcs mostly, in buildings around the Ziggurat. The slaves were working with silk.

We noted that hourly patrols were going into the woods we were hiding in and there a single road entering the area.

We headed east to scope out the back of the Ziggurat and got wrecked by giant spiders. I went down, Cutwyrm--our Ranger went down twice and it was only because of our Divine Soul--Echo that we made it out.

We rested and spent a full day learning the patrol patterns.

There were arguments about simply achieving our goal, proving there was a threat here and going for more treasure. Several of us were less enthusiastic about facing more spiders, including me.

We settled on having Emeril, our Warlock, go get a bolt of silk for evidence. He confirmed the workers were slaves and tried buying a bolt. It didn't work.

He went back in, invisible this time, and simply stole a bolt of silk.

At this point the party was once again split on heading back to town or exploring further. Diego, our Draw Rogue and Emeril staid behind, agreeing to give us until nightfall as the rest of us went exploring.

Our group came upon four priests. We learned they served the Witch Queen, a lieutenant for the god known as the Horned One. She was the last Witch Queen and the silk was for her. Then we overpowered them and took their robes and headed back to our Rogue and Warlock.

We toyed with using the robes to sneak into the Ziggurat, but decided to fulfill our mission.

We headed back to town and informed Mayor Jon of what we found and what we saw. He sent us to the Librarian for more information on the Horned God and we used that knowledge to formulate a plan to annex the Ziggurat. We negotiated our fee and salvage rights and then headed out to hire mercenaries.

In the morrow, we'd be headed back.

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 13

Describe a game experience that changed how you play?

It was pretty much all of my early experiences with my first GM playing in his Champions and ADnD 2E games.
 While I have no problem being challenged, you never got to achieve your goal unless you were a favorite player and then you just started with what you wanted. 
The pacing of the story was quite a bit like the infamous Fantasy Fucking Viet Nam, except you couldn't die.

I grew up on comics books and action movies, not Gygax and Tolkien. I wanted big sets and sequences and to spotlight the players. And I still do.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Oakhurst: DMing Session 12

I'm going to try something new. I'm going to give insight into how I DM. Let me know what you think.

After closing the saga of Angelika the Hag, two weeks have passed (while that is my primary storyline, I want this to be player driven and a sandbox, so I always have 2 to 3 plotlines available. They are rough ideas, not really scripted).

As the session opens, the players have learned that Spartansberg, a town to the west is now under the rule of Gargok Trou, an orc. Meanwhile, the Paladin is researching Tomoachan and wants to head there because of the prophecy that the Blood War is about to reignite and the horn they need to stop it. Finally, the Wizard wants to fulfill the dead Sorcerer's promise to a spirit to find it's heir.

The group decides on Spartansberg (what I have worked up is that the coup was bloodless, that's it).

It takes several days to get there and the trip is smooth (I rolled each day for random encounters and nada. In my head I was prepared for a pure roleplaying session, so I didn't ignore the die rolls. When rolling for random encounters I decide what number or lower it occurs on a d10, ususually a 1 or a 2).

On the road, the group, an official expedition from the Mayor of Oakhurst with additional men for support, notices several supply wagons heading back and forth to Spartansberg. Each group contains a wagon driven by humans and escorted by warg riding orcs.

The group sees that there is no one working the fields and that there are plenty of people in and around the fortified keep that is Spartansberg. Orcs and humans appear to be working and training together (I took a few minutes to describe the scene and work up details, in my head I decided that the Lord Mayor had of Spartansberg was corrupt and had sold off most of the food to other cities and owed 2 mercenary companies money for foolish missions. He was lynched by the towns people while the orcs watched).

The Players move up to the closest farm house to spy, but find several women, human and orc, getting supplies from inside. The Thief knocks on the door, while the rest hide. An orc woman questions him and worries he's a brigand and uses magic to send up a flare. Quickly, several orc and human riders close in (I emphasized that there was cooperation amongst both races whenever I could).

The Thief revealed himself as an envoy of Oakhurst and the lead orc relayed Gargok Trou's mission to raise orcs from savages and throw off the yolk of Gruumsh. He was keen to set up a meeting with the Players (here, I emphasized how the orcs were clean, well spoken, regimented and worshipped a different god that none of them recognized).

The meeting was the following morning and the night was uneventful. All of the Players went into the keep where they saw that tents had been set up, as well as foodlines and training areas. Their liason, Rork, mentioned that families had been given priorities on real homes and that they were working on new agricultural techniques to grow food quicker and that Gargok was trying to negotiate with the 2 mercenary companies, but they were preparing for any eventualities (the players kept looking for "evil" and just couldn't find it).

They met Trou in a meager tent where he met and planned with his staff. Magic revealed his throne, staff, and chainsword to be enchanted. Gargok explained that he was a scro from the stars and that he wanted to bring a better life to the orcs of this world. They questioned him about getting the chainsword from Anglika, and he admitted that he wasn't as physically powerful as most orcs and needed an edge. They asked about the boon she refused and he admitted that he turned to the necromancer Zeos for it (I was suprised my players didn't press this more and didn't ask what he got from Zeos).

He explained that felt good that he would be able to put off the mercenary companies, that the grain that the Lord Mayor made contracts for wouldn't be honored (one of those was to Oakhurst) and that he didn't seek war, but wanted his people ready to defend themselves.

The Player's mentioned meeting zombie orcs and he admitted that his regiment was built from the best of seven orc tribes and that many were given to Zeos as payment for his services. They asked how to contact Zeos and were shocked that he used a pub in Oakhurst, the Laughing Corpse, run by Meegan, who they knew of (I had been looking for a way to bring Zeos back into the story and this worked really well).

The Wizard also asked about any McClintocks in the town and Troug found Brennan McClintock for them. The Wizard tried a ritual to put the ghost of Brennan's Aunt to rest, but they found out that she had a daughter, Evie, who owned a pub near Northrun (remember, I wanted them to head that way, but this gives them more reasons to choose that later. Additionally, when Brennan encountered his Aunts things, I emphasized how supportive and happy everyone seemed to be, this was further emphasized by the fact that anyone could receive any training they wanted, they were not locked into a class or profession any longer).

The group asked for several townspeople to return with them to Oakhurst to give testimonials about the new regime (the players, worried about enchantments felt this would give it time to wear off).

Oakhurst's Mayor Leng was stupefied at the news and asked the townsfolk from Spartansberg to stay for 3 days (the Mayor was frustrated at the news about the grain contract, but relied on the player's opinion that things seemed to be on the up and up, as frustrating as that was).

After several combat intense sessions, I wanted time to breath, roleplay and worlbuild. We got that. I created several leads based on player actions and helped get a better view of what was happening. Next session they intend to lead with investigating Meegan's connection to Zeos.

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 12

What RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition 
Player's Handbook.
I love the art in it. It screams DnD to me. 
I'm sure nostalgia is a factor

Friday, August 11, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 11

Which dead game would you like to see reborn?

I love the property and I think it's a good basis for an RPG and has a great system--being the first iteration of 
West End Game's d6 System.

#RPGaDAY 2017: Day 10

Where do you go for RPG Reviews?

RPGNow is always my first destination. Then I'll google search and check whatever blogs come up.

Product Development: Stat Blocks

I'm stepping back into the publishing arena and am developing a product for the OSR and DnD 5th Edition. At the moment, as I work ...