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.