Friday, 11 December 2015

Whitebox Hangouts 6: Of Prostitutes and Profit

Not your average street walker

Getting involved in the intrigues of Patricians and courtesans. Featuring: Trained pheasants that limbo and do tricks. A return to the sewers, an actual alligator (non albino), the re-emergence of the mole men, remembering they attack from above at the last minute, Vayne's critical miss destroying his violin, everyone else thought it was funny, he did not. Posing as professional mole man exterminators, new guy Steinar bluffing like the best of them, a trip to the posh market and the purchase of gifts, a fine cloak, the shortage of doodle sacks resulting in an artisan penny whistle (whittled by Devan the bone whistle whittler himself) a hyena skull valuation (believed by Ottsa to be used in summoning rituals sacred to Hyena God,) a meeting in the summer house. Not being fooled by gender ambiguous clothing. "Look are you or are not the prostitute who has been sleeping with my husband?" A sinister silver chalice. The acquisition of a distinctive ring, being followed, hiding out at the House of Mercenaries, Sellspears and Blades for Hire, fighting a pitched battle three stories up on a bridge, Alvis the mystic flailing away wildly, Ottsa the mystic macing with deadly accuracy. Possibly the first ever decapitation by mace, Vayne going down then making a 1990's pro wrestling comback, mystically aided of course. Ottsa smashing a man's knee then sparing him, interrogating him and healing him, before packing him off with ten silver pieces. It gets you a manservant for life it would seem. The successful delivery of the ring and collection of payment, left on the table by the door...

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Grim North: Dragonmeet Edition

Beards: Cool until they want you dead

Rogues Gallery:

Pahn McDohl, lvl 1 fighter
Wister, lvl 1 fighter
Ottsa, lvl 1 mystic and former Otter cultist
Andy's lvl 1 thief who I can't remember the name of...

In which a team from the House of Mercenaries, Sellspears and Blades for Hire investigated the claims of Cilk Von Herrick. A patrician who having defeated a rival in a beard growing contest now believed his beard was sentient and trying to kill him.

A return to the butchers saw the PCs become freelance debt collectors for the Butcher's Guild. Each pinned a piece of chicken skin to their chest as a sign of office. The Fizzing Stone public house in the Patrician District was visited, where the owner keeps three pet wolves in the bar and yet it is still a high class establishment. Cilk Von Herrick turned out to be a drunk in possession of an enormous beard who would not deign to speak to the PCs directly but only via his manservant.

Ottsa used her mystic powers and detected hostile magic on the beard. Andy's thief cut a lock from the beard causing Von Herrick actual physical pain. In the stables the beard was combed for evidence, finding only a family of doormice, before being plaited for ease of transportation.

Religious instruction was sought at the Cathedral of the Aeternal Lords. A clandestine meeting with a priest in the crypts below lead to heading North across the city to the Necropolis, passing through the Merchant District and the District of Bridges on the way.

Fortunes were told. Von Herrick's movements had to be lubricated with the application of lots of wine.

In the necropolis strange, grey robed priests arranged the embalmed dead in scenes from life, such as a card game and watching a parade.

They met the wizard Oraculees, who was wizened but with giant eyes, and his stunted servant Maximillian. Some ate a turkey that had been served for a dinner party of the dead.

Wister paid the wizard's price of three cups of blood. Oraculees consulted the Book of Beards. He deemed that a demon should be summoned and a sacrifice was needed. Without hesitation Pahn offered the patrician's slaves but it turned out only a chicken was needed. One of the relieved slaves was sent off with some silver to buy a chicken.

And there we finished as time was drawing on.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Dragonmeet 2015

My first con.

I had met up with Mick Reddick and David Black for some breakfast prior to arriving at the con. There was no skulduggery involved in our entrance to the venue, none at all. No sir.

Mick Reddick knows absolutely fucking everyone. Not a joke. He couldn't go five feet or drink a cup of tea without bumping into some gamer buddy or other.

I bought nothing. I have to admit I was a bit bewildered by the trade floor. There was so much stuff on offer but basically nothing I wanted or didn't already own. I'm not a collector of rpg stuff, I like things I can use and when I own things I haven't used they gnaw at me... Mick bought some Lamentations of the Flame Princess stuff to round out his collection and Dave bought Stonehell, which he already had as a PDF but wanted a book of, and some ugly neon dice to play his Hivelife 1979 retro future D&D hack with.

Then we headed up to the bar to set up for some games. I ran a Grim North session with Oli Palmer, Kathryn Jenkins, Rachel Tew and Rachel's other half Andy. Rachel and Oli have played in the a Grim North before via hangouts and it was nice to meet up face to face and throw down in a tale of one man and his potentially evil beard. We didn't get to resolve the session due to time constraints. As is fairly normal for me I rambled aimlessly along and we finished up with the players looking to sacrifice a chicken in order to carry out some sort of divination on the evil beard while its owner was kept in a state of near constant inebriation by wine toting slaves. Good times.

With too many players for one game Mick had recruited enough random passers by to make up two games and Dave stepped up to run his rag tag bunch of plucky misfits through Stonehell using his streamlined retro clone Black Hack. I ran Mick's fighter for about 45 minutes while both Stonehell and Black Hack proved their worth. David is clearly cool with GMing a game with zero prep and his Black Hack system runs really smooth and easy. Stonehell is a great resource and it was handled well. Everyone at the table was having a great time, even if I nearly got Mick's character killed at the end. Still, what's a bit of crippling between friends?

Things I learned. David Black both writes and runs a good game. Seek out his work and enjoy it. He runs games via G+ UK OSR Hangouts community. His Black Hack rule set is available for free on the internet. Mick Reddick is a force of gaming nature, when a man says "I'll just nip downstairs and get two more players" even at a gaming convention I don't expect him to be back inside of two minutes! And last but not least the UK OSR Hangouts Community is a great place, filled with lovely people who I have thoroughly enjoyed gaming with so far, and long may it continue.

I'm going to write a quick session report for the Grim North game tomorrow.

Friday, 20 November 2015

White Box Hangouts 5: The Blue Otter Cult

In the terrace district Ram, the thief, picked the pocket of a victorious scorpion trainer in the Bell and Scorpion tavern (recovering 30 silver pennies and some minced hedgehog.)

Was the drunk old ex sewer watchman really telling the truth about the white alligators in the sewers? A white alligator skin could be worth a few silver pennies to the right patrician and a live specimen would fetch a decent price on the bizarre pets market.

So, willing to try their hand at anything that pays the PCs became sceptical alligator hunters and headed into the sewers.

They encountered the Sewer Watch. They battled cannibal mole men. The party's fighter, Pahn, coming so close to death that seasoning was applied to his unconscious body. Fortunately Vayne the bard stepped in with one of his many natural twenties. Decapitation and the hundred cut method proving the end for two of his adversaries.

No XP was awarded for puns.

Finding the secret idol of the Otter God, He Who is Both Furry and Yet Ferocious, they immediately attacked his cultists. Outnumbered, things were going ok until Ram took a sacrificial dagger to the chest on another Nat 20 and died. The cultists exclaimed this as a sacrifice to their God but her dying words were "I am not a virgin...."

Furious further natural twentying from Vayne and consistent spear work from Pahn left the remaining three cultists with no option but to surrender.

The cult leader unmasked and proclaimed herself an ex-cultist. She now wished to side with obviously superior mercenaries, and conveniently turned out to be a mystic and also Ram's player's new character. As a token of good faith she lead her new compatriots to the cult's hoard of otter themed silver jewellery.

They returned to the house of Mercenaries, Sellspears and Blades for Hire to fence the silver and divvy up the spoils and XP.

Friday, 13 November 2015

White Box Hangouts 4: The Hallowed Eve

I wrote a summary of Wednesday night's game but Paul C who plays Alvis the Mystic posted this to G+ in the style I used for previous write ups and it was better than mine so I stole it...

Not the Lord of Sorrows but suitable.

Paul wrote:

"Just played in another awesome session of the Grim North with monkiest2 as GM. Truly amazing adventure with cheese magic, choking mist, "teachers" looking for children,gloomy monolinths, a bard who is always right, a thief who can read lips, creepy children, dimensionally unstable demons, true love, a terrifying chase through the streets, a haunting spectre of a horseman and reaching HQ in the nick of time. All around class session of thrills and chills aplenty."

Some notes about the session:

Cheese magic. Tyromancy had been bandied about on G+ earlier in the day as useful piece of obsolete vocabulary, being a method of divination by reading signs in the coagulation of cheese. I liked it and immediately stole this as the means by which the Old Woman could introduce some lore about the various supernatural threats of the Feast of Hallowed Eve. Not least The Lord of Sorrows, who would arrive at midnight on his blood red horse to claim those still on the streets of the city, deemed to be given over to the realm of despair.

The Rolling of 3. During the Hallowed Eve the number three is sacred to The Lord of Sorrows. Anytime a three was rolled by any of the players on any die, he was drawn closer to the material realm. With most of the rolls in White Box being d20 and d6 there were quite a lot of natural threes rolled, eight in total. This resulted in the premature summoning of The Lord of Sorrows himself and the characters having to run for their very souls.

The tapping on the walls of reality. On the Hallowed Eve the walls of reality grow thin and horrors from the Outer Dark try to force their way into the world. This manifested as the sound on metal tapping on glass "Tap, tap, tap" which the PCs could hear every time things went quiet. Answering the tapping in kind, on a black marble monolith as it happened, resulted in a whispered voice saying "Let me in."

The Girl with No Eyes. Encountering a child with her eyes gouged out is just creepy, especially when she keeps disappearing. Her rag doll that the PCs were in possession of for a bit also had no eyes.

The battle. When Vayne the Bard invited the eldritch hordes of the Outer Dark to "Come on in" I rolled on the d6 random least demons table I had prepared for the game. They faced six floating ammonites with glowing green tentacles and black shells composed the twisted, fossilised, shrunken faces of the screaming dead. These were eventually defeated although Silent Silvie the Acrobat rolled appallingly, Vayne the Bard would have been horrifically injured if not for Alvis's mystic healing and Ram the Thief nearly died. Reduced to negative one hit points she was on her way out.
Vayne: "There must be some way I can stop her dying"
Me: "How exactly are you going to do that?" Knowing that there were no mechanical options open to the party.
Vayne: "True love's kiss."
Me: "Ha ok, I'll allow it." And so she did not die.

The session was planned around several independent supernatural threats which were then inexpertly interwoven with a simple fetch quest to recover some lost children in a park. I was pleased with how it turned out, good players making the game very enjoyable to run and they didn't even encounter the Tatterwitch and her pumpkin demon, any of the soul burned Black Magicians or the Cold Dead. Maybe next Hallowed Eve...

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

White Box Hangouts 3: "This Is Not An Adventure, it's A Pub Crawl"

I am the god of hellfire and I bring you...

 It was dark and smoky in the House of Mercenaries, Sellspears and Blades for hire. Dramatis Personae: Silvie, an acrobat, and Alvis, a mystic. Refusing to enter the sewers at any cost, the PCs decided to investigate what happened to Dek's missing beer delivery. Especially as it came from an old mercenary buddy of his from back in the day, Gorm, who had retired from the killing business and set up the Black Cow Brewery in the Canal district.

In heavy snow, the ruin of a brewery was found to be still smoking, clocks were examined and granary proprietors questioned, a trip to the Bleak Elephant public house yielded no trace of Gorm but beer was drunk out of horns, an eavesdropper was discovered and chased through back alleys, he was subdued by skilful flail work, a recipe for scones and information were extracted from him, the Alleyway Brotherhood were implicated, further investigation took place, the PCs were menaced by a small but vicious dog, a trip to the Pig and Barrel was proposed, a loud religious song and dance was performed, a wall was surreptitiously vaulted, incautious running caused a heavily burned floor to cave in, acrobatics saved the day but no one was around to see, Gorm was recovered from the smoking ruins of his brewery, there was planning, the mothman was seen flitting between rooftops but he spoke to no one, there was reconnaissance, mulled wine was deemed to be too expensive, a map was drawn in ale, the Battle of Five Dials was fought, a flask of oil was hurled into the canal (non intentionally,) surprise was not gained but initiative was, sling stones careered wildly out of the darkness, mystic powers were used, Marius the duelist proved to be a fearsome ally, Alvis took a club to the head and had a brief nap, there was "friendly fire" only with clubs, the Alleyway Brotherhood was warned off but only after a large woman urinated directly into a thief's face, victory was celebrated, heavy drinking was deemed to be the best thing for a serious head injury, a weird ebony and silver animal skull was recovered, silver looted from thieves was shared fairly with NPCs! Dek and Gorm were grateful and promised favours and the waiving of the fee on any future House jobs.

Another enjoyable session. Thanks to Eric and Paul who were exemplary players.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Need Meatshields? Roll d20.

Who's in at the House of Sellspears, Mercenaries and Blades for Hire: 

1 Rolv, the spear slayer, ringmail. Spear. Javelin. Also known as Centipede Bane following his last hiring but he's trying to keep that one quiet.

2 Martina, the laconic scout, she doesn't talk much. Leather, bow, shorts word, dagger.

3 Voltag the Rotund, an axeman and big eater. Battleaxe, chainmail.

4 Devian, the Quarterstaff. He has one, he looks like one. Leather armour. 

5 Oric of the deer hook knives, ringmail, deer hook knives (1d4+1). Tells long winded and extremely dull stories.

6 Asha the tall, Greatswordswoman, she is a ladette, ring mail.

7 Nimble Jim, scout and bowman, he has very long fingers. Leather, bow, hand axe.

8 Marius, the Latin duellist, wears chain. Sword. Hot tempered. 

9 Kadua, the Unwashed. She has a flail but when she swings it she kicks up. Filthy hide armour. Unpopular. 

10 Beric the Undeniably Old, has very thin sword from years of sharpening, chain mail.

11 Egrin, the posh mercenary slumming it with the adventurers. Plate. Sword and shield.

12 Big Pete, he's little. Classic mercenary humour. Has small man syndrome. Longsword. Chain.

13 Lott the Humble, he isn't. Ringmail. Spear.

14 Sadie the "shoot it with my crossbow" solution. Ringmail. Hand axe.

15 Basil the Quixotic Ninja. Leather, nunchucks, shuriken, delusions.

16 Zen, the knife thrower. Looks sharp, has lots of knives. Leather armour. And a really big knife, short sword sized.

17 Trent the ridiculously heavily armed. Tackleberry. Chainmail. Halberd. Sword. Shield. Battle axe. Crossbow, heavy (naturally.)

18 Ekred the sarcastic. A mace, great, that's really useful. Ringmail, because chain would be too much protection.

19 Yuli the overenthusiastic, club and shield. Exuberance.

20 Gunnar the Bearskin, axe and sword 10hp, no armour.

The spares, substitute as appropriate following the inevitable demise of any of the above.

Camp Al he has a rapier and wears leather at all times.

Veena, the cup. She's always drunk. Perhaps a flail is not the best choice of weapon in the circumstances. Ringmail.

Ill Phil, he has many ailments. He also has a mace and shield and leather armour.

The City of Pallid Masks - Actual Play

The City of Pallid Masks

With seven (count them, SEVEN, players,) most of them new to the old school, this was the first session of a foray into my reskinned version of B4 The Lost City.

Following the horrific snow storm that engulfed their caravan the PCs found themselves exploring a strange black ziggurat that towered above the rubble of a ruined city. It was topped by three giant statues. Statues of three forgotten gods.

A dead man/ape hybrid, with fearsome tusks, was blocking open a secret door into the structure. A crossbow bolt in it's chest from a triggered trap....

After much explanation that in Swords and Wizardry (Complete) 1st level mages really do only get one spell and some misfortune around traps, proper old school play started to kick in. Ten foot poles. Doors smashed of their hinges with hammers. That sort of thing.

An encounter with a lizard wolf put the frighteners on them after one fighter nearly died but in finding the Sacred Band of Gerrain they learned of the existence of the under city, the names of the three gods and their followers and the new, dark god who had caused the downfall of the civilisation that surrounded them. Its people had turned to drug use and human sacrifice, descending into a narcotic fuelled unreality. The Sacred Band stated they were searching for the sword of their god, "Remorse" which they believed had been taken by the Magi of Usamigaras, the elephant headed deity of medicine and sorcery, and was somewhere within the pyramid.

Two of the party's fighters and their ranger joined the Sacred Band and were gifted with their ivory masks and anointed with their oily musk (sounds weirder than it is,) swearing to uphold the ways of Gerrain and find the sword so they could defeat the new god from the Outer Dark, Oth Talos.

Could it be that one of the party's mages accidentally partook of the dream some found on a dead native? He certainly started to behave weirdly enough.

On their way to the next lower level of the pyramid they encountered more locals, this time dressed as birds who squawked at them and bid them fly away with them, cursing them for land locked fools when they refused. Off they sped, flapping their arms.

Eventually they found some stairs down and, with some trepidation, headed deeper into the ziggurat...

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Character Creation Guide for White Box Hangouts in the Grim North

It occurs to me that a character generation guide for my White Box hangouts game, which is going really well (thanks for asking,) would probably be useful.

So, for those who do not wish to spend the first five minutes of the hangout on character generation (always an option)....

For stats roll 3d6 in order. Average range is 7-14 above or below that is +/-1. Strength bonus only applies to fighters.

Class choices:

Fighter, by the book

Magic User, the same

Mystic, a reskinned cleric. Is a seeker of enlightenment in the mortal world not a worshipper of a specific deity or pantheon, more akin to a zen Buddhist.  Uses cleric advancement tables for XP, hp, attack bonus and saves. May use blunt weapons only and wear up to chain mail and use a shield. Has psychic powers that reflect the cleric spell list except that a mystic does not need to memorise spells in a Vancian fashion. He or she may select from the list of mystic powers they are trained in according to their available power slots. At first level they have one first level power slot. They may not turn undead.

Thief, uses James Spahn's Whitebox Companion as a template. Thievery is initially 2 in 6 for most tasks but 4 in 6 for climb walls.

Ranger, as Whitebox Companion

Bard, (if you must) as Whitebox Companion

Acrobat, as White box companion 2

Barbarian, as White box companion 2

Duelist, as Whitebox companion 2 except bonus while wielding a sword is +1

All characters start with max hit points at 1st level, so 6. Or, if a fighter, ranger, barbarian or duelist it's 7.

Race choices: None. Humans are the only PC race in this setting


Starting characters may choose

Appropriate weaponry, the carriage of more than two weapons and a dagger is considered inappropriate

Appropriate armour, although no starting PC may possess plate mail

One of these equipment bundles


Backpack, large sack, lantern, 2 flasks of oil, tinderbox, 12 iron spikes, small hammer, water skin, normal rations, 5 silver pennies


Backpack, 2 large sacks, 6 torches, 3 oil flasks, tinderbox, 10' pole, 50' rope, water skin, normal rations, mirror


Backpack, 4 small sacks, thieves tools or holy water, 12 iron spikes, 50' rope, water skin, normal rations

Characters desperate for further equipment items can explain their rationale to the GM in the hangout and are subject to a case by case ruling. (Although so far this has not been an issue.)

The setting uses a silver standard where the main currency is silver pennies.

This document will almost certainly be subject to major revisions at a later date.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

White Box Hangouts Game Session 2: "Comedy Side Quest"

With only two PCs this week, Tam Tenfingers and Pahn McDohl, the exploration of the upper floor of the Creepy old Von Keinlin place was deferred in favour of "a comedy side quest." 

Pretty accurate representation of the figurine itself

In the dark and smoky confines of the House of Mercenaries, Sellspears and Blades for Hire, the guys partook of the "cans only" bar and chatted to some barbarians. This resulted in a trip to the Stilt District, drinking stout in the Broken Hare with another barbarian mercenary, learning the Von Keinlin's were up to their necks in the intrigue and violence of Aeternian politics, back to the HoMS&BFH to meet their prospective new employer, being exposed to poor haggling and worse tradecraft, agreeing to meet a man in the Night Gardens while wearing a yellow ribbon and speaking the phrase "The swallow flies at moonlight," expecting to hear "but only under the Bridge of Deepest Sighs" in return, being hired to steal back a demon figurine made of clay with dubious value as a family heirloom, crossing the Paupers' Bridge to the North bank of the Skarrion, a recce of the Green Beaver public house where Barniman's golden ale was served and prize fighting the entertainment, confusion arising over the exact definition of a "Docker Boy," an exchange of information and secrecy for silver, being mistaken for minstrels, tangling with the Blackthorn Boys, the Disciples of the Forbidden Ark and the slightly inebriated Night Watch all at the same time in a four way bar room brawl, a fake headbut, a surreptitious pat down, tables and beers going everywhere, a partially successful WWE style cross body tackle, figurines rolling about on the floor and being repeatedly snatched out of people's hands, slow motion dives, boots put in to downed opponents, a rugby tackle and a suplex, a mid fight bribe, the deliberate smashing of a clay demon figurine and then spitting on it, loud complaining about said smashing, and finally making a run for it while everyone else was still arguing, getting clean away.

Friday, 25 September 2015

The Grim North Inaugural Hangouts Game: The Butcher Boys

Weird looking abandoned manor house based fun
It was snowing in the Grim North, it pretty much always is. In the House of Mercenaries, Sellspears and Blades for Hire it was dark and smoky. The place is run by Dek, an ex pit fighter and mercenary, so when four itinerant misfits turned up looking for work he offered them what information he thought they might useful. Some old sewer watchman was raving about seeing white alligators beneath the city. The Von Keinlin family had not been seen for ages and now there were weird lights and noises coming from their house at night. Some patrician's servant had been poking around trying to source a group for an object retrieval somewhere in the city.

What followed was a festival of meat delivery, dead horses, a missing horses head (location unknown,) listening at doors, pushing to front of queues, knocking ominously on doors, attempting to barge doors down and failing, successfully thieving doors open (but then Tam Tenfingers is the second best thief in the city, self acclaimed), finding something gruesome in the kitchen, stabbing it repeatedly with a spear to little effect, resolving to come back later and burn it with the intention of putting it out of its misery, pushing over a perfectly innocent suit of armour (loudly), finding a corpse in the cellar, finding another corpse in the armoury (well, chewed bits of one), recovering a grand total of thirty five silver pieces, discovering what appeared to be a summoning ritual gone wrong, torch throwing at a sub Olympic level, a would be summoner burned out from the inside, what can only be described as quite a lot of snails, a weird glowing circle inscribed on the floor, some books also burned through from the middle, and no one has gone upstairs in the Manor House, entered the detached tower or explored the rock garden.

Good times.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

The Lands of Legend

Given how scathing I have been of the latest release for Dragon Warriors I wonder if people are put off playing what is essentially a thoroughly enjoyable old school game with a lot of great flavour by its bum steer towards a more WOTC era D&D model.

The dark age/early medieval but folklore beliefs are true milleu is suggested throughout the adventures in the original books and in the monster descriptions but really comes into it's own in Book Six: The Lands of Legend. This is where the meat is. Even while the other Dragon Warriors books sat on my shelf unread for years, I would periodically peruse this one because it was better than pretty much everything else. When people talk about DW fondly it the setting that they comment on, not armour bypass rolls or the spell expiry mechanic (although that is a good one.) Book Six was all setting, all day.

Cool hand drawn maps? Check. Brief yet adequate descriptions of various countries and regions? Check. There are no discourses on the types of hats worn in Ereworn for example but we do learn that "at night the peasants shutter their windows and cower by the fireside while goblins dance on the rooftops and the Devil, they say, stalks the land with his two hounds—Pestilence and Plague." Excellent.

Russ Nicholson art you say? How about this? Boom.

Then there is the Lore of Legend. This is a chapter that is part magical item description, part rumour, part myth, part adventure hooks and wholly awesome. I would like to reproduce whole sections of this. The tale of the Immortal God King was always a favourite of mine as are the sections on Places of Magic and Mystery, and the Travellers Tales.

Character background and languages; good. Travel; good. Legal system; good.

Rules for tourneys would seem essential and are presented in all their glory allowing for the random generation of jousts and melees.

You also get another profession in the Warlock, a combination of warrior and wizard. Not sure if the game needs another magic user, this takes up to four, but some of the spells are nice and my players liked this one in the olden days.

The adventure, Mungoda Gold, is an interesting one. It takes the PCs to the "Dark Continent" of Legend to trade for gold and grave goods, meet exotic NPCs and maybe explore some strange ruins out in the jungle. I've never run it but it looks solid.

Friday, 4 September 2015

The Grim North is Undergoing Redevelopment

Snow fight
In order to convey a more sword and sorcery feel to the Grim North I have been immersing myself in pulp fiction of late. So I have feasted on a steady literary diet of Howard, Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, with some Burroughs' Mars stuff thrown in and even choked down one of Lin Carter's Thongor books. I also overcame my constant battle to enjoy Moorcock and actually liked some Elric stories.

So as a result I began hacking away at what I had written down for the setting that I considered "genre D&D," such as demihumans and stock monsters straight out of the manual.

I'm also working on a reskin of the cleric as a mystic warrior as opposed to a knight of some divine power. I want to avoid that warm fuzzy feeling of "True Gods" in favour a cold sense of cosmic indifference.

Non warm and fuzzy
Basically anything that looks like it might have come from the Forgotten Realms has had the chop.

Into the mix are serpent men, beast men of all kinds, more barbarians, elephant headed space wizards, Lovecraftian entities, weird science, alien races and dinosaurs (if I can find a way to shoehorn them into a setting that is effectively subject to unending winter, something like Marvel's Savage Land I think.)

So this in definitely in...

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Future's Not Set. There is No Fate...

With the collapse of my white box group, caused my multiple cases of real life interference (damn you Real Life!) I have been spending all my game time thinking about games instead of actually playing them.

To remedy this I have decided to throw my energies into devising a series of one shot games that I can run over hangouts. Dependent of course on my ability to devise one shot adventures and my ability to figure out how to run a game over G+ hangouts.

I've never really done a one shot before as my games tend to be rather open ended, somewhat deliberately and also because I meander as a referee. This will be a good opportunity to tighten up my GMing game and write something that can be wrapped up in a couple of hours instead of spiralling into free form, unresolved chaos.

Also I want to use this as an opportunity to get some use out of the dusty tomes of games I own but either haven't played for a long time, such as Dragon Warriors (must be getting on for thirty years) and Marvel Superheroes; or have never run such as Warhammer FRP, Runequest, Talislanta, DCCRPG and D6 Star Wars. Although I did play Star Wars a fair bit in my youth, the others I have not.

First stop is Dragon Warriors. Then we'll see what happens.

Work continues on my Grim North setting but that probably needs its own post really.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Black Metal Dwarfs


 I love these questions: "Where can I find a magic sword?"

When I start hearing that sort of thing from my players I know they are becoming self motivated, they're interested in exploring the imaginary world around them beyond what the GM has served up as this week's game. This when things get interesting for me. Really interesting. I mean that in the sense that I have to improvise wildly, often in a state of barely concealed panic, as I try to stay one step ahead of the PCs and have it all hang together seamlessly like it was some sort of pre planned branch line of the railroad. Ha, I jest, there are no railroads in my games. There is that panic, however. There is wild improvisation and that is the fun, for me, of the GM's role. At least when it all works out ok. Ha.

At the risk of preaching at length to the converted I shall return to the matter at hand..

"Magic swords are rare, extremely rare. It is rumoured that only a blade forged of black metal can hold an enchantment long enough to be truly considered a magic sword." Insider knowledge, this player has only recently started reading Elric and I expected the bite.

"Where do I find black metal?" Result.

"Norway?" Totally wasted attempt at humour, largely to create thinking time.

Like these guys but shorter. And less weird. No, more weird,

It turns out that black metal resides only in the deepest strata of the earth. It is born of falling stars, in ages long forgotten, before the knowledge of man. It is an alien thing, accursed, foul beyond imagination, and bleeds raw Chaos. The ore is death to those who would disturb it from its rest, yet it holds a bizarre fascination for those who hold the lore to work it. A secret cabal of dwarf crafters, drawn by the lure of its chaotic power and dark reputation, forgo the tenets of ordinary life. Embracing Chaos and their own mortality, they paint their skin white and blacken their eyes in the image of the dead. For the black metal can only be worked with hammers of bone, fresh from the sacrifice, and tempered with the blood of the smith....

Before it was cool.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

How I Ended Up Running a White Box Sandbox

It wasn't really intentional but a break in my availability to run games meant all my previous campaigns have gone off the boil. Players drifted away, found newer more reliable games to play in and I was at a bit of a loose end gaming wise.

Then a couple of weeks ago I just doodled this map in my notebook, it's not a good map, not even by my meagre standards. It's a valley with a town, some villages, mountains, a river, forests and a few adventure locations drawn on it. Pretty simple stuff. The mountains were probably home to barbarian tribes, the woods infested by beast headed humanoids,  and/or mutant humans. I always like the idea that the wilderness is fantastic and magical place. If you go for a walk in the woods or the mountains, you might take a strange path that leads to another realm or pocket dimension. The way the back of the wardrobe leads to Narnia. 

If I was going to use this as a setting I thought it would be ideal for a bit of S&W White box. My players would be ok with that but the lack of class options for them would be a stumbling block as they're used to S&W Complete and also race as class would be weird for them. I suck at creating character classes but based on the Quixotic Knight he posted on his blog, I picked up +James Spahn's White Box Companion 1&2 and that's classes taken care of.

I fleshed out the adventure locations a bit. Drew up some quick encounter tables. They still need more work but they were fine to start with.

The players rolled up a barbarian, an elf, a thief and a cleric. They set off intending to explore the abandoned mine in the mountains to the south west. 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Whitefen, a Frozen Swamp

The swampy region of the Grim North is known as Whitefen. 

Home to the Warlock of Whitefen. Fentrolls. Batrachian Frog folk and their king, Ranirex. Giant frogs, killer newts, and frosty salamanders. Worgs. Goblin toad riders. The black dragon, Ennithraz. Bog mummy. Witch lights. The lost ruins of Fenhall Keep. The Temple of the Frog God (can't really have a swamp without one). Wereboar. Fen peasants, untrustworthy. The fenranger. Quicksand. Doppelgänger. Hang man tree. Bats. The Hobfroglin. The Fen Hydra. The Flickering Fortress.

Needs flesh on these bones.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Random Trans Dimensional Relocation By d20

A table I came up with for my post magical apocalypse setting (which really needs a name. I can't keep typing that...)

In some peculiar locations the fabric of reality is threadbare.

You have pierced the veil, where do you end up? Roll d20 please...

1 Outside Time. The House of Chronos sits amidst Hellenic ruins. Chances are (75%) he isn't in. Woe betide you if he is.

2 The Desolate Hell. A vast rocky plane, littered with sharp rocks and strange, sulphurous pools. Birds circle overhead. They are birds, right?

3 A Dream Dimension. Not subject to the laws of nature. Strange occurrences are normal. 2 in 6 chance it is one of the PC's dreams in which case they can alter its reality, unconsciously as a matter of course. Consciously, if they roll 1 on d6. If it's not the parties dream then at some point they will encounter the Dreamer....

4 Some form of Elemental Plane. Roll d4 for Fire, Water, Earth or Air.

5 The Fiery Hell. Hot. Devils torturing souls. Industry. Nasty.

6 The Grim North.

7 The Isle of Dread.

8 The land of the anthropomorphic animals and a lamp post. There's a war on... The Jaguar King faces off against the Veiled Lady.

9 The Slumbering Ursine Dunes.

10 Mongo. Seriously. Evil Emperor (let's call him Krang;) his rebellious daughter Ora; Golden faced Lich lieutenant Klyvus,; Hawk men; Arborea; the works. It's called something else though.

11 The Demonic Hell. Demons. Dark, foreboding castles full of demons. Foul bat winged creatures haunt the sky. More demons.

12 The Beautiful City. It is an idyllic paradise of sweeping terraces and multi levelled gardens. The drinking of ambrosia makes everything fantastic and everyone wonderful. It's not and they're all vampires.

13 The Harlequin Forest. It's weird. The trees are thick, and sentient and they scheme. There are creatures lurking in shadowy glades. Somewhere, the Harlequin frolics and feasts. You may or may not be invited. You'll probably never get away.

14 The Flooded Shore. Shark men! Squid beings! Mer women!

15 The Hotel California/That place from the Shining/Paradise Towers. It's a hotel. It's haunted in some way. I would not disturb the water of the swimming pool if I were you.

16 The Trickster's Hall. It's a massive long hall built to gigantic proportions. Outside, the howls of the giant wolf demon can be heard as he scratches at the door.

17 The Red and Pleasant Land.

18 Random LotFP adventure location. Roll d4 1 Better Than Any Man 2 Death Frost Doom 3 No Salvation for Witches 4 Tower of the Stargazer but probably 3. The ritual has begun, the clock is ticking...

19 The Great Starry Void, characters will float there for 2d12 hours until reality re asserts itself

20 The Realm of Chaos Itself.