Saturday, May 26, 2007

Tell Qa Preview: Blacksmith and Stables

23. BLACKSMITH AND STABLES (D-15): Vinglo Derglon (CG male Starrcrag dwarf 8th level ranger, SL Guild 8) is a rarity, a Starrcrag dwarf with little lust for gold and a great love for animals, especially horses. He is the best blacksmith and horse trainer in the province. When not working with his three journeymen and five apprentices, he spends time on his ranch or wandering the forest and hills to the west. He prides himself on the health and quality of his war-trained steeds, which are the destriers of choice for Captain Milos, General Galiinaar, and wealthy knights of the province.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tell Qa Preview: Map Snippets

Well, the Tell Qa Map is done, so I finally have a few previews of the map, to go along with the prior previews from the last two Saturdays.

First, here is a snippet of the map showing the Copper Crown Flophouse and the area around it:

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You will note that the map indicates the position of doors on the buildings, but not the interiors. This leaves plenty of room for the Judge to decide the exact layout of a building. You will also notice two different colors of road; the light road is paved with flagstones, the darker roads are packed dirt and gravel. Imperial Avenue is one of the few roads of the Outer Town that is actually paved; the area south of the Temple of the Spider Goddess is actually the Grand Market, and is also paved.

This section, here, shows the area around the home and office of the Alderman, Kriton the Black:

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You will note that the Alderman has had a part of the alley accessing his home and office paved. From time to time, he has to deal with the local amazon, and of course, the beggar who hangs out in the Slave Market. The Bard at #17 is actually an ally and friend, a fellow High Viridian who detests the "lower races" and gives speeches in Viridian Plaza about Viridian superiority. The Temple of Mer Shunna is partially visible on this snippet, the round building segment north of Viridian Plaza being the entrance thereto. What's in the well in Viridian Plaza? That's for the Judge to decide...

Kudos to my cartographer, Peter Bradley, for an AMAZING job on Tell Qa!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Tell Qa Preview: Alderman Kriton the Black

04. ALDERMAN (H-8): Kriton the Black (LE male High Viridian 5th level cleric of Armadad Bog, SL General 7) is the chief bureaucrat overseeing all civil operations in the four blocks along Green Road. He doubles fines for non-Viridians, and requires triple normal bribes before he’ll consider a plea from a non-Viridian. His four bureaucrats are all High Viridian Shunnan acolytes with sinecures; the five spend their time drunk, drugged, debauched, or engaged in the Daily Flogging (a Shunnan ritual, little followed usually, which consists of slapping themselves with a fish tail as punishment for not being born a merman).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Castles & Crusades: A Simple Critical Hit System

A natural 20 is an automatic critical hit, as long as the total to hit is enough to hit the target AC. If it is not, then a natural 20 is simply a regular hit, and deals regular damage.

Critical hit damage is double normal dice, plus double all bonuses, plus BtH; thus, high-level fighters and fighter-types will always do good damage on a critical hit, even when the roll sucks.

Example: a 1st level fighter, specialized in long sword and with Str 14 rolls a crit while wielding a long sword. His normal damage is 1d8+2; the critical damage is 2d8+5.

The same fighter at 12th level, though will deal 1d8+3 normally (with a non-magical long sword), and deal 2d8+18 damage with a critical hit.

Special: In the case of a rogue's Back Attack ability, simply add an additional multiplier to the total rather than multiplying the multiplier. Example: A 1st level rogue who successfully uses Back Attack will deal three times normal damage, not four times...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tell Qa: Almost Ready for Press

Well, the cartographer is putting the finishing touches on the map of Tell Qa even as I type this, and it will be going off to press in the next day or so.

Thank goodness! After the computer crash at the beginning of the month, I thought it would never get done.

Writing it was an interesting exercise. It was the first time I've ever designed a town from scratch. Most other towns and elements of my various campaign settings have grown organically, from bits and pieces that came together during games or over time during the overall development of the campaign.

I'm pleased with it, though it isn't perfect. I wish I'd had the time and money for an honest edit, or even a proofing, but I had neither. And art... would have been nice to have art other than the map (which totally rocks, by the way), and a full color cover. But the important thing is that it has all the source elements that will give the reader an idea of what my products will be about.

Though my real products will have some bang-up art, I'll never be able to compete based on production quality. Well, never say never. Maybe some years down the road. Right now all I can compete on is actual game content. If I can get even half the fans of Castles & Crusades and Wilderlands fans to pick up my products, I'll be able to build a real, workaday company.

Rifts Campaign Session 070514

So I finally got around to playing in another session of the Rifts campaign.

It’s been going on, on and off now, for several months. I’ve missed about half the sessions, though, thanks to deadlines and conventions and such. However, as I’m playing a rather conservative character, I simply ask the GM to make sure my character stays out of whatever trouble the other characters are brewing.

It’s an eclectic mix. My character, Malcolm “Malcontent” Jones, describes himself as a wanderer, a seeker, a sometime mercenary and, at times, a hero. Really, he’s an ex-Coalition Military Specialist (i.e., military spook), who saw through the Coalition’s pro-human anti-D-Bee propaganda and decided to light out for non-Coalition territory.

Of late he’d been a loner, a trapper and explorer in the hills and wilds of Missouri, round and about a town named Linetown and a hamlet named Lineville… both being on the same ley line, apparently the founders thought the names simple and appropriate. Linetown is a week or more north and east of Kingsdale, which puts the town smack in the middle of nowhere, contested by everyone.

Mal fell in with some odd folks, though considering this is Rifts Earth, they are essentially the local boy’s choir. The Crazy named “Hot Head,” an Injun Mystic named “Dancing Bear,” and a City Rat named Jane (well, since she’s from Linetown, I guess that makes her a “Town Rat,” really). Looking for a group with big aspirations, Mal ended up with guys satisfied to be given the title “Village Hero,” free room and board for a week, and to have their names scrawled next to the pair of Xiticix heads mounted on the tavern wall.

Big damn heroes, indeed.

So far the adventures have been pretty low-key. They encountered and (barely) defeated the pair of Xiticix before I made it (missed the first session), and I then led them back to the place where they mentioned a battle had occurred between a LOT more Xiticix and the Coalition… and there was lots of looting to be had by all. I think we made more than 100,000 credits, and that was with our “City Rat” getting her ass handed to her in so called “negotiation.” It went something like this:

Black Market Guy: “We’ll give you 100,000 credits for the stuff.”
City Rat (Dice Roll Real High): “100,000? Is that a lot?”
Black Market Guy: “Yeah… that’s a lot. Really!”
City Rat: "Okay! Whee!"


After that we rescued a fisherman on a raft in a lake. He was being threatened by… a blob! Crazy on Skycycle with rope to the rescue!

I then missed a session or two, and found out that the Crazy (and maybe the Mystic, I’m still not clear on this) somehow got themselves indebted to a wizard who helped cure the fisherman’s insanity (well, his several buddies got eaten by the blob, and that’ll do for ya real quick in the Rifts equivalent of the San pool).

So tonight, for whatever reason, apparently the Crazy got the chance to repay the debt by hunting down a Borg, Headhunter, and Juicer who knew where some Naruni weaponry was being hidden. Not wanting to get in the middle of that shooting match, I let him go forward and deal with them himself, once we’d found them hanging out in the shantytown around Linetown. There were many handslaptoforehead moments to be had during those negotiations, including one where I did it myself, literally, and the GM adjudged my character had done the same (I’d already turned off my speaker from my armor to keep from cursing out loud at the direction of the negotiations, so it was a fair cop). I believed at one time it would be simplest to throw a bandoleer of high explosive grenades into the shanty to just clear everyone out, but it eventually worked out, and we all trundled out of town along with our newfound allies (who, it turned out, were a designed to be the Plot Hook rather than the Antagonists, thank goodness).

The Juicer ran into a gargoyle while patrolling at night, during the first night in the wilderness, but that was the only encounter… though my character, who is paranoid about the Coalition, has been surveilling Coalition channels, and believes the Coalition is after the same stash of Naruni tech. It was after we’d found it, and opened the holographically-hidden door to a hidden complex that the Crazy mentioned, “Oh, yeah, the Coalition might be looking for this, too… I think they were a day or two behind us in town.”

And it is, of course, two days later…


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Tell Qa Expanded: Tiimo the Fink

Here's the first expanded element of Tell Qa: Tiimo the Fink, the manager of the Copper Crown Flophouse. This is just an example of what can be built with the basic elements included in any Adventure Games Publishing Wilderlands of High Adventure product.

TIIMO THE FINK: LE male Smyrian 7th level rogue. HD 7d6, HP 20, AC 14 (leather armor plus dexterity), Move 30 ft., SL Guild 7. Str 7*, Dex 17*, Con 9, Int 13, Wis 11, and Cha 14*. Rogue abilities are back attack, climb, decipher script, hide, listen, move silently, open lock, pick pocket, traps, and sneak attack. He learned a special sigil in Lenap that, when drawn on a container, allows him to detect poison in the container once per day as the spell cast by a 3rd level cleric; the liquid bubbles and roils if it is poisoned. Tiimo is also proficient at swimming and appraising gems. He wields a pair of daggers (+1 BtH melee, +4 BtH thrown, 1d4-1 points of damage, range 10 ft.). He speaks Smyrian (L), Common Viridian (L), Lenapashim, Shardani, and Thieves’ Cant. He carries two potions, each vial in a small steel receptacle on a silver chain (worth 25 gp) on his neck: cure critical wounds and invisibility. He carries a 5 gp amber, a 10 gp malachite, 8 gp, 3 ep, 4 sp, 8 bp, and 16 cp in his belt pouch; he has 223 gp, 49 ep, 43 sp, 51 bp, 50 cp, and a +1 magical long sword in a locked (CL 7) chest in his room. Tiimo was born to a poor peasant family in the hills south of Tell Qa. He was orphaned at 10 when kobolds crossed the river and raided his hamlet. He made his way with the few surviving children to Tell Qa, where they joined one of the urchin gangs. At 17 Tiimo left town as an adventurer. He traveled south, to the Immortal City, and he wandered and thieved with several minor parties in the cities and towns along the Trident Gulf and Gulf of Pinnacles, as far as the Churning Sea. He settled for some years in Lenap, where he owned and managed a bar. Unfortunately, he was on the losing end of a guild war, and had to flee Lenap. During the guild war he was poisoned, and lost a great deal of his physical strength. He eventually returned to his old home, where he fell in with the local guild. His experience as a bartender serves him well, as he has a good eye for sizing up potential recruits and troublesome guests. Tiimo gained his nickname by ratting out on thieving adventurers, but he’s never let slip the name of a single guild member, for love or money. He’s the ostensible owner and manager of the flophouse, and is the public face of the joint. He puts on a plain and simple face, and makes sure that the Copper Crown never seems to be anything more than a simple flophouse. He has no desire to be the Guildmaster; he believes the position is more trouble than it is worth, and is solidly loyal to Ordric and Eurwyn. Guild members find him to be a quiet, resourceful master of the guildhall; he brooks no nonsense, but leaves the breaking of heads to his four strong bouncers, and the levying of penalties to the “mercy” of Blackheart Eurwyn. He refers those who ask to Fagin Copperpot (#63), one of his old urchin crew, when they seek a fence. Rumor: Tanglin Xhuu’ha of the Bazaar (#20) is the biggest illegal drug dealer in town. Rumor: Othilia Silver-Tress of the Burley Huntsman (#68) is a witch. Rumor: Aristokles Orpheu (#17) is haranguing a crowd in Viridian Plaza, and three maidens have already fainted at his detailed descriptions of the ravages of the Thygami hillmen.

An asterisk (*) after an attribute indicates that it is a prime. An (L) after a language indicates that the character is literate in that language. Special abilities are highly variable in the Wilderlands. Tiimo has, through his adventures, gained skill in swimming (an uncommon skill in a medieval style setting), and also learned how to appraise gems. The Judge should treat these special skills as class skills, or perhaps give Tiimo a +4 bonus when trying to swim or appraise gems. It all depends on the Judges' style and campaign needs.

Tiimo also has the ability to use an orison, a 0-level divine spell; many adventuring types in the Wilderlands learn a little magic, by hook and by crook, through contact with cults, priests, sorcerers, demons, and other magic-using beings. Again, the existence and use of these powers is entirely up to the Judge; if, in the Judges' campaign, she determines that only wizards, illusionists, clerics, and druids cast spells, then such abilities listed with other character types do not exist...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tell Qa Preview: Copper Crown Flophouse

Here is the entry for the Copper Crown Flophouse as it appears in Tell Qa: Northern Bastion of the Falling Empire, the Castles & Crusades offering from Adventure Games Publishing for Free RPG Day...

43. FLOPHOUSE (F-13): The Copper Crown Flophouse is temporary home to many semi-successful adventurers and poor wanderers. It is also the base of the secretive Tell Qa Thieves’ Guild. Tiimo the Fink (LE male Smyrian 7th level rogue, SL Guild 7) gained his name by ratting out on thieving adventurers, but he’s never let slip the name of a single guild member, for love or money. He’s the ostensible owner and manager of the flophouse, and is the public face of the joint. He is served by four bouncers (2nd level fighters) and four maids (2nd level courtesans). Anyone can flop on the main floor (3 cp/night, 2 cp/night for sleeping furs), but only members of the guild are able to rent rooms on the second floor (3 sp/night for a bed in a 4-man room, 2 gp for a private room); otherwise, the upstairs rooms are “always full.” It is actually a safe place to flop, as no thievery is allowed on the premises; non-guild thieves caught stealing in the flop room are rolled and turned over to the guard. At night six to 15 down-on-their-luck adventurers (1st to 12th level, any class, though usually barbarians, bards, fighters, or rogues) and 11 to 30 poor folk or farmers (1st to 3rd level, usually beggars, children, fighters, or rogues, double numbers on Sixthday night) will be sleeping on the floor in the common room. The backroom, accessible through the kitchen, has a place for guild members to relax and play cards (3d6 during the day, 1d6-2 during the night); the entrance to the secret basement is through the office, accessible only through the backroom. Meals include gruel breakfast with watered beer 3 cp; bread, cheese, and apple luncheon with watered beer 6 cp; pigeon pie dinner with watered beer 1 sp. Un-watered beer, ale, and mead are available in the back room for 1 cp, 3 cp, and 1 sp each, respectively. The guildmaster, Nimblefinger Ordric (LE male Common Viridian 12th level rogue, SL Guild 9, Dex 18, Int 16, Cha 14) knows more about the sewers and ancient tunnels than anyone alive. His lieutenant is Blackheart Eurwyn (NE female Aelvoress elf 9th level rogue, SL Guild 8, Dex 17, Int 14, Cha 17); she likes to seduce young, handsome, and rich adventurers and nobles, taking them for all their coin and possessions; those who treated her well get to live to tell the tale. The guild is to lets lone rogues or even small groups work on their own; if they prove themselves competent (i.e., are not caught by the guard after three major heists) they are told they need to join the guild, or leave town. The guild has 21 to 40 members in town at any one time (mostly 1st to 4th level rogues), as the guild is also active in banditry, brigandage, thievery, and smuggling throughout the province. They are currently seeking a way to clear out a band of competitors on Ming River Road (see #80).

Friday, May 11, 2007

Free RPG Day: Tell Qa Previews

Saturday June 23rd is Free RPG Day, in which more than 200 game stores across the country will give away free roleplaying game products to customers new and old. Some companies are giving away quick-start rules, others are giving away adventure modules, and some are even giving away computer programs or dice. Adventure Games Publishing will be giving away a 16-page town sourcebook, Imperial Town of Tell Qa: Northern Bastion of the Falling Empire, set in the Empire of Viridistan in the Wilderlands of High Adventure.

Unlike most other Free RPG Day products, Tell Qa is not a complete product in that it does not have a full-color cover, nor does it have any illustrations; giving away the product for free, I could afford to do neither. Otherwise, Tell Qa provides a glimpse into the nature of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy by providing everything a Judge needs to run adventures in a town on the edge of civilization. In fact, the town of Tell Qa is poised on the knife edge between absolute barbarism to the north and west and decadent empire to the south and east. The residents of and circumstances in the town are reflective of this situation, so Tell Qa provides many opportunities for adventure in wilderness, civilization, and the shadows in-between. It makes an excellent home base for adventurers seeking fame and fortune in nearby dungeons, and plenty of opportunities for adventures within the town walls.

Here’s a quick run-down of the sections in the Tell Qa booklet:

Recent History
Population and Cultures
Imperial Currency
Town Defenses
Important Streets and Markets
Town Description (including descriptions of 83 establishments and their inhabitants)

Over the next month and a half I will post previews and expansions of the materials in Tell Qa on this blog. Every Saturday leading up to the day itself I will post one establishment as it appears in the product, and expand upon the material presented with more background, rumors, character states, and adventure hooks.

Note that Tell Qa and all Wilderlands of High Adventure products are for mature players. The Wilderlands is a classic swords & sorcery setting, and as such contains elements and themes that are NOT FOR CHILDREN. Parental discretion is advised.

Look for the first preview and expansion tomorrow, Saturday May 12th.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Death Cage Match: Personal Blog vs Work Blog

As you may notice from my profile, I am the editor of Gaming Report, which is essentially a news feed/blog about the tabletop adventure games industry. I and my coworkers post news (both press releases and news articles), interviews, reviews, and other articles about all sorts of tabletop games on the site. Board games, role-playing games, card games, collectible card games, collectible miniatures games, traditional miniatures games, non-collectible pre-painted miniatures games... you name it, we cover it. Right now, it is mostly raw data, with little in-depth analysis, save perhaps for convention reports as opportunity permits; that's the way things pretty much were with Gaming Report when we acquired it, and we didn't want to make many changes right away, so as to not scare anyone away.

But that's going to change... soon. Everything we have there now will remain, plus we'll be adding more "bloganalysis" style articles (blogassayage? blogacity? blogitation? Hmmm... I like blogitation). How it is going to work I'm still not sure; most likely, we'll have links to individual blogs off the main news blog, in order to create a more personal environment.

When that takes off, the Gaming Report blog is where you will find my industry analysis and prognostication. This blog, Adventures in Gaming, is strictly for personal stuff, to discuss fun games and for discussion of my own side company, Adventure Games Publishing, and its products. So if you are seeking in-depth analysis of the latest trends in gaming, check out my blog on Gaming Report. Coming soon!


Lately the only game sessions I’ve been able to attend on a regular basis have been our daily breaks at the office, when we sit in the break room and play Cineplexity from Out of the Box. The game isn’t even my copy, it belongs to Maggie Thompson, our Senior Editor of Comics Buyer’s Guide. She got it directly from John Kovalic of Out of the Box for review in Scrye and our sister magazine, Big Reel. We played it for the review in the break room weeks ago, and a group formed around us in the break room… all “non-gamers.” And we got more inquiries about joining in the game than we knew what to do with.

In the weeks since we have played nearly every day, usually twice a day, for 15 to 20 minutes, with groups ranging from four to eight players. At least two “non-gamers” have bought their own copies since, and play the game at home with family and other friends. It’s a great game, along the same challenge and interaction level as Apples to Apples (also from Out of the Box and John Kovalic). If you are jonesing for a quick game, grab a copy and a few friends, gamer and non-, and before you know it you will have some new gaming friends.

First Post!

Whee! This is my first post on my shiny new blog. This blog will be my personal blog about games and other cool stuff that catches my eye, such as comic books, books, movies, and other fun stuff. No politics, life stories, whining, or other downer stuff.

Welcome to Adventures in Gaming!