Sunday, August 31, 2008

Two-Shot B/X Adventure: Horror on the Hill Friday Session

My buddy Ray called me up sometime while I was down with the Con Crud and mentioned his friend Ross was going to be visiting from Out East. He and Ross had played the hell out of D&D/AD&D back in the day, and Ray was wondering if I'd run something. I told him I'd be happy to; but of course, with the extended ickyness, I ended up in no shape to develop anything new.

We had decided to go with a modified B/X to enable them to have two characters with all the options, as they weren't much interested (initially) in playing two characters each; Ross played Ecles, a neutral 6th level standard elf (i.e., fighter/magic-user) and Ray played Phen, a chaotic 6th level elven cleric/thief.

I figured with that kind of power they could handle a standard classic Basic module as long as they were careful when the hordes of weenie monsters started swarming them. Both had played B2: The Keep on the Borderland and B3: Palace of the Silver Princess long ago; as they wanted some old fashion dungeon crunchiness I pulled B5: Horror on the Hill off the shelf, figuring they'd probably never played in it (I've met few that have). (B1: Into the Unknown was, of course, unfinished, while B4: The Lost City was just a bit too whack for my purposes, plus I wanted them to have the option of bugging out and going back to a base for healing and equipment as needed). Friday night we skipped the hill and the monastery ruins, and started in on the dungeon right away.

They ended up clearing out the northern section of the dungeon quite handily, taking out the sleeping bugbears without so much as a scratch. They rescued the captive thief (whom I renamed Chesty LaRue in honor of a Simpsons episode I'd seen recently), and she joined the party. They had some trouble with the giant centipedes, as one got in a lucky shot, but fortunately Phen had neutralize poison handy.

It was when they stumbled into the forge that things might have gone awry... eight hobgoblins and a bugbear rushed them, as such creatures are wont to do. Fortunately, Ecles had a lightning bolt prepared, and the short hallway before the forge was transformed into an electric cuisinart. The dwarf Gareth Ironhand, enslaved by the goblinoids, peeked around the corner with wide eyes and inquired, "Gandalf, izzat you?"

The grateful Gareth placed his hammer in Ecles' service, so now each player had two characters after all!

My wandering monster dice were off that night, so even with heavy modifiers the thunderstrike did not bring any wandering monsters. The goblins in the torture chamber, though, were about ready to go out and see what all the noise was about when the fast-moving adventurers happened upon that location; two dead goblins were quickly added to the boiling oil. They then explored the eastern section of the level, thoroughly looting the cleric's office and sitting-room, but rolling so dismally on secret door checks that they missed the cleric's chambers. On the way back they decided to desecrate the evil statue of the dark god from the cleric's office by dumping it in the vat of boiling oil in the torture chamber, and just after doing so encountered a group of seven goblins investigating the commotion. They slaughtered most of them, but a few got away to warn the rest of the tribe.

Now much warier, they first prepared a little nasty... Ecles lifted the boiling oil on a floating disk, the plan being for him to shift it in the direction of oncoming baddies, and for Gareth to push it over in their direction as Ecles cancelled the spell. The party then went back to the westernmost corridor and found the goblin arena with the dead party (Chesty's former friends) and dogs, Zeus and Apollo, who ended up being Chesty's puppies. They continued south down the corridor, where they decided to take the southern door rather than the eastern door... and as they were making their way through the southern door, the hobgoblins from the eastern guard room ambushed them. Things then got grim, as even though the boiling oil trick helped, it wasn't enough, and with many spells down and hp low, the party barricaded itself in the guard room as they heard a mob of more hobgoblins coming from the south. Gareth went and spiked the eastern door of the room shut even as another mob of hobgoblins reached it...

The party set up the tables in the guard room as barricades and mantlets, just in time as the southern mob broke through the western door and flooded in. Three got through before Ecles got off a web across the door, trapping the remaining four. Short but painful battle ended the remaining three, then as the eastern door (further barricaded by benches) was being burnt by the hobgoblins, the party flamed the webs and burnt all but one of the hobgoblins to a crisp. An arrow finished the last one. Ecles cast his last high-level spell, haste, and the party fled, running all the way to the ferry to Guido's Fort.

There the dwarf told the Lawful Brotherhood of his sad tale of slavery, and they healed him and gave him six gold pieces in alms. The rest of the party chipped in and gave him a suit of plate mail for his valiant service, and the magical +1 battle axe they found in the bugbear lair. The party rested for a day and healed up with Phen's spells, then went back to finish the job, Phen especially having a great desire to take out the Hobgoblin King.

Along the way the prepared hobgoblins had set an ambush, in case of such a return. The party made short work of them, with one of the hobgoblins being horribly mauled to death by the hounds.

When they reached the lair they found the halls cold and empty in the northern and central sections. They encountered the cleric Moray Vaco in his temple, praying to his dark god. His prayers went unheeded, as he was slaughtered. The party then explored the central dungeons, carefully avoiding the thoul and the piranha birds as being not worth the trouble (no treasure being evident), and looting the bodies (including the invisible dead magic-user) found in the chamber next to the thoul. Deciding all the hobgoblins, and the King, must be in the southern chambers beyond that one door, they decided to head that way.

And there, of course, in the southern corridor, they discovered the pit trap... the hard way.

Down they tumbled through the long, curving chute. Phen fought valiantly, first trying to cast his rope of climbing up, but there was no purchase; then he tried to slow his fall with his climbing skills, to no avail; an attempt to dig his daggers into the walls of the chute availed him not.

And so he and the rest fell tumbling into the second level of the dungeon...

And so ended the Friday night session... a scheduled one-shot which was completed the next night! And so the tale, too, shall be completed on the morrow...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Still Alive...

Well, that was unpleasant.

Usually the Con Crud hits me hard and is done with me in a matter of two or three days. This time it stuck around for most of a week and then some. Vengeance, I'd say, for me not being sick at all for most of the last, what, couple years?

But now I'm at the point where it's mostly gone, just the tail end of wheezing and hacking, so I am able to once again get back to work.

First thing I should mention is the AGP PDF sale continues until midnight Sunday. I'm not one to discount my products, generally, so if you wanna get something cheap, get it now.

The next PDF coming up is Barbarians of the Wilderlands, which features an alternative barbarian class for Castles & Crusades; tips on how to work both the original barbarian class (renamed "savage warrior") and the barbarian in together in urban and rural civilizations; listing and details on the major barbarian nations of the Wilderlands; and sample barbarian NPCs, from the stripling warrior to the barbarian lord of the wastes. I should note that the alternative barbarian class is NOT used in other AGP products; all alternatives are to be used solely at the Judge's discretion, and I'm not going to force a Judge to buy this PDF product just to use all the other Wilderlands products. So if you are not into alternative classes, you don't need the PDF. But if you prefer a barbarian class founded on classic pulp Sword & Sorcery principles, this is the class you have been looking for...

After that, the Southern Reaches Gazetteer... or Death! No Cake at all! I have to admit, this has gotten away from me in more ways than one. Timewise, it is going to be at least six months late. Page-count wise, it's... a mess. The way this thing is turning out, I've half a mind to make it a boxed set! As it is it will have a 48-page Judges Guide, a 24-page Encounter Guide/M&T, a 16- or 24-page Players Guide, the color folded cover (with an original Peter Bradley cover and B&W maps on the reverse), and the full-color 17" x 22" map. This is equivalent in size to the classic D&D Gazetteer, The Five Shires (which had a 72-page DM Booklet and 24-page Player's Booklet). Strictly speaking, the Adventure Games Journal Subscription Campaign Installment consists only of the Judges Guide and the map (the rest of the Gaz available at a discount), but after all the delays I'm considering including everything for this one time. I dunno yet if the budget can handle that, though.

Following the Southern Reaches Gazetteer another PDF, likely Demons of the Wilderlands 1, something I've been mulling about for a while now. Then on to Adventure Games Journal #2 and the Western Karak Gazetteer (11" x 17" map, 16-page booklet, both goodies for the subscribers and available otherwise in print and PDF).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Con Crud Hath Struck

Thought I avoided it this year. Apparently, it was simply performing a flanking maneuver, and bided its time till Wednesday morning to strike.

I'll spare you the gory details, but I will be conscious only intermittently likely for the next 24 to 48 hours (it usually ends up being a 72-hour thing for me). Blech.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More Gen Con Follow-Up...

Specifically, more stuff I bought that I'd forgotten about... mostly because right after I got them, I packed them in my suitcase so I would not forget them or lose them in the shuffle. And, of course, I forgot I had them...

First, Dave Arneson's Blackmoor: City of the Gods, by Harley Stroh. I figured it was a winning combination, between Dave's setting and Harley's dungeon-writing-mastery. Haven't had a chance to read it yet (this situation still obtains for everything I got at the show), but it is high on the list of things to read.

Second, two 1E Goodman Games adventure modules, Saga of the Rat King and the flip book, Tower of the Black Pearl/The Golden Auroch. I was incredibly lucky to acquire these from the very hand of the 1E conversion meister, Jon Hershberger. All three adventures should fit very nicely in my 1E Greyhawk campaign. Plus, there is an advertisement for the Southern Reaches Gazetteer in the Saga of the Rat King! Unfortunately, it lists the Gaz as being "Now Available"... sigh.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back from Gen Con

I finally got back from Gen Con Indy today. The plan was that we'd be home last night, but we discovered about halfway home that we were just waaaay too tired to drive all the way through. Deciding discretion was the better part of valor, we stayed the night in Rockford (actually, at the Red Roof Inn where I usually stay during RockCon/DorkStock).

I will post more details about the show as I recall them, as everything is still quite a blur. It was for me the most unusual Gen Con ever, as it was the first time ever that I spent the vast majority of my time running games rather than either playing games or working in a booth.

I ran three three-hour sessions each day, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. 7 to 12, 1 to 4, and 4 to 7. Of the nine games, only two were less than full, IIRC (one session only two of the six pre-registered players showed up, and another had only five). One session went over on the count, the last on Saturday, and I ended up with a table of eight rather than six players.

Fun was had by all, some quite enthusiastically. Several folks I know only from the Web and subscriptions (Omote and Stormqueen, hello!) played in my games, and in one session I was honored with the presence of long-time game industry guru Scott Haring and his lovely (and fun) family.

The vast majority of the players had never played Castles & Crusades before, but most had played 3E, AD&D, or one of the earlier editions or variants, so start-up was quite easy really. No one ever got to the end-game of the adventure, and some only got one or two rooms in, depending on how careful they were and how much fun we were having.

I definitely learned that next year there is no way I'll run three per day. One four-hour session per day, maybe only on two days. And 9 am to 1 pm, which will give me time to work in the booth in the afternoon.

I had all of slightly less than two hours in the exhibit hall before Sunday; I blazed through once on Friday and once on Saturday, in between sessions. On Sunday I got to run around quickly, and discovered that the only two items I REALLY wanted, the Monsterpocalypse Starter Set and the Pathfinder Beta Rulebook, had both sold out earlier (the Beta on Thursday, so I hear). Otherwise, I was rather uninterested in most things I saw, though that may well be due to the fact that I had less than four minutes to spare per booth. And when I was bumping into someone I hadn't seen in months or years every other aisle, that time-per-booth ratio declined dramatically...

End result was that I returned home with the least amount of stuff since the very first Gen Con I attended (1983: I returned home that year with a small sheaf of computer-generated character stats for D&D, $0.10 per sheet, and I bought 10 sheets. That year I was simply paralyzed with indecision, so many choices there were for someone who had never been at a con before). This year I bought myself a handful of dice from Lou Zocchi at Gamescience (it was his last show before retirement), a copy of GameNight by Jonny Nexus (I've heard really good things about it, and can't wait to read it), and Kobold Quarterly #6 (looks real good). I also scored a copy of Tales of the Chi-Town 'Burbs from the hands of Kevin Siembieda himself, and of course one of each new Troll Lord Games item (Crusader #11 (with an article from yours truly), Gord the Rogue: Saga of Old City, Castle Zagyg 2: The Upper Works, StarSiege: Event Horizon, and Towers of Adventure). I haven't had a chance to read anything yet, though; when I was not driving in the car I was sleeping, which shows how truly exhausted I was.

I also bought a Monsterpocalypse Monster Booster (no Godzilla-like fig, though, dammit, just two UltraDefenders, one with a missing arm no less!) and two T-shirts for Jodi: one with Captain Spaulding from House of 1,000 Corpses/Devil's Rejects and another with Godzilla.

I got to see all sorts of friends, old and new, and some of them I even got to talk with briefly in the rush! Jon Hershberger, Harley Stroh, Wolfgang Bauer, Joe Goodman, Breakdaddy, MacBain, Jeff Talanian, Kim Hartsfield, Robin Laws, Stormqueen, Terheyt, Phil Lacefield, Omote, Joyce and Mike Greenholdt, Chris Clark, Ken Hite, Calye Shovan (aka Amara Wintersword), Alan Lawson, and others who have been lost in the mists whirling about my brain. Frankly, it was quite friends and industry-light this year, as I missed the Diana Jones Awards this year, spent so little time in the exhibit hall, and no time in the gaming halls (save the RPG rooms at the Hyatt and Union Station).

It was a very good show, altogether, though it still does not feel like Gen Con, as I was so isolated in the Hyatt (except for that one session AAAAALLL the way down at Union Station. Sheesh).

The goals now are to get caught up on sleep, punch out another PDF for web sales by the end of the week, and finish up the Southern Reaches Gazetteer by the end of the month. Oh, and find that silly intern of mine, for putting everything on sale on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. I wonder if he did something that caused their crash? Any which way, the sale will continue through the end of the month, so get those PDFs on the cheap while you can. I'm changing all the passwords so Woody can't cause trouble anymore...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Moar Newz! Gen Con Speshul annownced!

Da bosz iz still buzy werkin on wayz ta killz playahz... I meanz, karaktaz... at Gen Con, soz he toldz me to post about da Gen Con Speshul whilez I wuz onlinez on eebays lookin for My Little Poniez and da trolls wit da big fuzzy hair.

Deyz tasty, dey iz. Da poniez, I means. Da trollz iz cute. Dey remindz me of Steev and Daiviz. Mostly Daiviz.

Anywayz, herez da stats on da Gen Con Speshul for Gen Con 2008 (iz copied and pazted, datz why speling is atroshus):

2008 Wilderlands Jam
48 Pages
$12.00 MSRP
Limited Print Run: 150 units

This 48-page booklet combines three web-only offerings and one preview of an upcoming product:

Warrior-Mages of the Wilderlands
Sorcerers of the Wilderlands
Monsters & Treasures of the Wilderlands 1
Valley of the Dead Queens

The Warrior-Mages and Sorcerers articles are available on the AGP site free as part of the earlier (and now defunct) Cool Rule of the Week effort; this is likely the only time they will every be available in print. Monsters & Treasures of the Wilderlands 1 is currently available only in PDF format, though some or all of the monsters and treasures therein might be available later in a print version.

The Valley of the Dead Queens preview provides insight into the upcoming Sandbox Module line. Each region in the line will have each hex fully detailed, including lairs, hamlets, settlements, dungeons, and ruins. Hex cartography is based on the classic Judges Guild style. The preview includes maps of hexes 04:0714 and 04:0715, details of what is to be found there, and a map of the hamlet of Cragfalls, a hamlet in hex 04:0715, along with descriptions of about half the locations in the village, including background and specific individual information. The Sandbox Module Line will premiere online on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow, enabling Wilderlands fans to puchase exactly the set of hexes they wish to supplement their Wilderlands of High Adventure and Wilderlands of High Fantasy campaigns.

Units of the 2008 Wilderlands Jam that are not sold at Gen Con will be made available first to Adventure Games Journal subscribers who were unable to attend the show. Unfortunately, due to the limited numbers, we cannot offer a subscriber discount at the show or afterward (should any be available afterward).

Woody D. Cyclopz
Adventshure Gamez Publishin

Da bosz is buzy, so da intern getz to play! AyyGeePee salez!

Hey evrybodiez!

Dis iz Woody da Cyclopz. I is da intern at Adventshure Gamez Publishin. Da bosz iz buzy gettin ready for Gen Con, so'z I gets ta be da bosz!

I'z declarin a SALE onna PeeDeeEffs. Dey'z on salez till da bosz finds out deyz on salez. Den I getz in trubble, but I getz to blame da catz, Captain Fuzzy Buttz.

So buyz deez tings while deyz on salez. Deyz Good! Da bosz will find out eventshually...

Da Wilderlanz Book

Da BIG Wilderlanz Map

Monstahs an Treashures

Da map of da Southern Reaches (I gotz some cousinz down dere!)

An dat magazine (Da bosz keepz whippin me to finish da next one!)

Buyz dem lotz! Den if da bosz getz some moniez, he can feed me fatter goblinz! Tankz!

Woody D. Cyclopz
Adventshure Gamez Publishin

Friday, August 8, 2008

World of the Wilderlands of High Adventure PDF now available!

This booklet is the sister-product of the Wilderlands of High Adventure Rhadamanthia Continental Map. The material presented herein originally appeared in the "World of the Wilderlands of High Adventure" article in Adventure Games Journal #1.

If you already have Adventure Games Journal #1, you do not need this product!

This booklet includes information on:

The Cosmology of the Wilderlands of High Adventure
The Sun, Moons, and Planetary Ring
The world of Gaia and its continents, oceans, seas, and islands
The 15 Districts of the continent of Rhadamanthia
The 18 Campaign Regions of the Wilderlands of High Adventure
Everything you need to start a continent-spanning campaign can be found in this booklet.

Note that the map of Rhadamanthia and most of the details that are listed herein were developed with Bob Bledsaw, the original designer of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy, upon which the Wilderlands of High Adventure is based. These materials are 90%+ compatible with everything Bob developed; a few names have been changed, and a few things have been added, all with Bob's blessing.

Normal retail is $6.00, but for a limited time the guidebook is available at only $3.00!

Get it at DriveThruRPG

Get it at RPGNow

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rhadamanthia Continental Map now available in PDF!

The Rhadamanthia Continental Map is now available in PDF format on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow!

This 17" by 22" map depicts the continent of Rhadamanthia, upon which the Wilderlands of High Fantasy are found. The Wilderlands is merely one of 15 large districts of Rhadamanthia, each District divided into 18 Campaign Regions.

The 15 Districts of Rhadamanthia are:

Northern: The Great Lakes, the Frozen Lands, Valonaria, Vanaraya, and the Tempest Lands.

Central: The Giant Lands, the Infinite Desert, the Wilderlands of High Adventure, Western Karak, and Eastern Karak.

Southern: The Lesser Horned Empire, the Greater Horned Empire, the Demon Empire, the Demon Seas, and the Infinite Islands.

Each District and each of the Campaign Regions of Rhadamanthia are described in the "World of the Wilderlands of High Adventure" article in Adventure Games Journal #1. The World of the Wilderlands of High Adventure guidebook, containing the information presented in that article, will be available separately in a PDF file in the next few days. Remember, if you already have AGJ #1, you do NOT need the Rhadamanthia Guidebook!

Note that AGJ subscribers will get a FREE 11" x 17" version of this map with the first Campaign Installment.

Get it from DriveThruRPG

Get it from RPGNow

Monday, August 4, 2008

Other Games I Have Known

Following in the good blog tradition started by James Maliszewski, here's my list of prominent games other than Dungeons & Dragons, d20, and D&D clones I have played. There are sure to be games I've played that I forgot to list... I've been playing since 1980, and my memory isn't so good. This does not count games I played in demos or otherwise tried only once or twice...

Aces & Eights
All Flesh Must Be Eaten
Boot Hill (2, 3)
Buck Rogers XXVc
Call of Cthulhu (Various)
Conan (TSR Edition)
Cyborg Commando
Dangerous Journeys: Mythus
Das Schwarze Auge (Auf Deutsch, naturlich!)
Dark Conspiracy
The End
Fudge (1, 2)
Gamma World (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Ghostbusters (1, 2)
GURPS (1, 2, 3, 3r)
Hero System (Various)
Judge Dredd (GDW)
Legendary Lives
Lejendary Adventure
Lords of Creation
Lost Souls
Marvel Super-Heroes
Middle Earth Roleplaying
Palladium Fantasy (2)
Paranoia (1, 2)
Powers & Perils
Recon (1, 2)
RuneQuest (II, III)
Star Frontiers
Star Trek (FASA)
Star Wars d6 (1, 2, 2r)
Top Secret (1, 2)
Traveller (What young'uns today call "Classic")
Traveller 2300/2300
Traveller New Era
Twilight 2000 (I, II)
Werewolf (I, RPG, not LARP)

Maybe down the road I'll expound on some of the cool (and not-so-cool) aspects of each of these games, along with interesting anecdotes (the Twilight 2000 stories could fill a book...)

And just to clarify, here are the D&D/d20/OGL systems I've played:

Original D&D
Moldvay/Cook B/X D&D
Mentzer BECMI D&D
Allston RC D&D
AD&D 2.5 (Player/DM Option)
D&D 3E
D&D ver3.5
d20 Modern
Conan (Mongoose)
Judge Dredd (Mongoose)
Castles & Crusades
D&D 4E [Demo only]