Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Houses of Stone: Turning it Into a Setting?

I posted this on G+ the other day but want to put it out there in a more permanent form.

As of this week, I'm working on turning my Houses of Stone world into a publishable (and hopefully, eventually, a published) setting book.

My plan is to do a brief book or booklet for all this.

Here's what I want to include:

  • Intro (Thematic details, how to utilize the book)
  • Thematic Hooks (Ideas, samples of how to hook PCs into African style adventures)
  • Map (Abstract showing types of locations that should/could be included)
    • Location type descriptions
  • Equipment (Specific gear, weapons, etc and how some might differ mechanically from traditional)
  • Alternate XP system (stories instead of gold--playing up the oral history preference )
  • NPCs
    • Adversaries
    • Allies
  • WM tables
    • Wilderness
    • Dungeons
  • Sample dungeon

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

FLGS Game -- Second Session Recap

I ended up with 6 players for the second session. They are as follows...
Steve, from last time
Scott, from last time
Cale, from last time
Dave, from last time
Jordan, a complete novice to RPGs (he plays Magic regularly and is probably 18)
Chase, another complete novice to RPGs (he also plays Magic and is 16)

The Setup:
We helped the two new guys roll up characters--they ended up with a Ranger and a Magic User. Good additions to the party.
I had the novices arrive via another "regularly scheduled caravan" of reinforcements for their encampment (thanks to Lord Jameson) and they had a near miss with some bandits on the road in. This gave the party another hook to the area near where they slayed the Ogre last time, and allowed me to showcase more content in the area.

The Adventure:
The group ventured forth and found the tracks of the bandits who attacked a recent caravan. They set a pretty interesting trap (trip wire to drop oil into a big fire) and had the Dwarf and a Cleric "pull" the bandits in. The bandits weren't that big of a threat, so were dispatched quite quickly. After the fight the adventurers had tied up the bandit captain and took him back to town. After questioning him, they discovered that the bandits kept their big stash of loot on a small mountainside to the west of where they found him--due north from the town.

After a good bit of roleplay in town regarding whether or not to subdue the Dwarf and steal the mysterious gem (see session 1) to have it destroyed/cleansed/secured... basically the Dwarf (Cale) has failed a saving throw or two against its effects, so he can't resist keeping it, and it's corrupting him slowly to Chaos's purposes.
I had some good chances to pull aside players and talk to them separately to see how they are handling this. Ended with Cale burying a rock in a bag to make them think it was the gem. The other PCs had someone follow him and tell the local high priest. Their plan for next week is to pay the innkeeper to retrieve the gem out of his room with the Priest's help. They are DETERMINED to get it out of his hands...

After this, they discovered that the small mountainside where they expected a bandit stash also contained a young black dragon. They talked the new guy out of fighting it.

On their way back, another Ogre (apparently this is their territory) attacked. They put this one to sleep and followed his tracks back to his lair, in a large gorge full of caves. (These Caves seem a bit Chaotic... *cough*)

After a night of rest they dove into the Ogre's cave, killed the large Ogre brute they found inside (again with a Sleep spell--I need to see what I can do about that...  ) and found a secret door into a section of worked tunnels!

That's where we wrapped, as it was almost 4pm.

- The new guys really got into it without much help
- I loved getting to pull a player away from the table for secret actions, then getting to ask the rest of the table for theirs
- They are still being *very* cautious all the time, and PARANOID. The more paranoid they are, the more they feed my world creation. I love seeing what they're afraid of so I can expand it. Especially when they're afraid of something that is actually *good* ;D

- Not enough time. We burned through our four hour slot in no time!

Monday, July 8, 2013

FLGS Game -- First Session Recap

I'm running a game at my FLGS now. It's my way of introducing everyone to the OSR, as the only RPGs going on there seem to all be 3.5 and newer. Variety, after all, is the spice of life!
(Disclaimer: I run old games, new games, storygames, OSR games... everything. This isn't a slight against or a stance for any one game. Just a thought that it would be fun to introduce these people to OD&D via Swords & Wizardry.)

I ended up with 7 players for the first session. They are as follows...
Steve, who lives just down the road from me, apparently, but I've known him on the Alehouse for a while.
Scott, having played since BECMI-ish time frame. I met Scott three years ago playing Pathfinder, and invited him to NTRPGCon.
Cale, who is the FLGS's Events Coordinator. He DMs 3.5/PF a lot, and has no Old School experience.
Garrett, also a DM of 3.5/PF, and a really creative guy. He plays Warhammer 40k with me from time to time. Recent high school graduate.
John, also a recent HS grad. He's played in lots of 3.5/PF games, but I don't think he's a DM.
Dave, one of my closest friends. Started playing and DMing with 2e.
and... Joel, bane of my existence for 2.5 hours. More on Joel shortly.

The Setup:
I had everyone roll 3d6 in order, but allowed one swap, so they can feel like they have some control
Everyone started with 3d6x10gp for gear, as the conceit of this world is that they are hired by a Baron to go on a long-term expedition. So the little extra starting gold helped a bit.

They ended up with two Clerics, two Dwarfs, one Fighter, one Thief, and one MU.

I walked them through a bit of the history of the game--what OD&D is, what B/X is, what AD&D is... apparently a lot of people who have no experience with Old School games think that 1e was the first D&D ever. x_x

The Adventure:
The PCs were all hired/summoned by a Baron--the Lord Jameson--to mount a long term expedition into the Chaos-infested wild lands. My world is very points-of-light... and the light is rapidly diminishing... so the PCs come from far away cities. Jameson wants to recapture part of the wild--centred around the village Grimmsgate--from the forces of darkness and Chaos that have ruled there.
After days of hand-waved travel, they arrived in town and set up a small camp on the outskirts.

- Players enjoyed it.
- They found a mysterious gem in a trick column in a cave and were so very cautious and so very paranoid (rightly so, as it turned out to be a daemonic influenced artifact).
- The local priest is suspected of collusion with Chaos by the PCs... in reality, he may or may not be. Remains to be seen.
- A quick defeat of a 4HD Ogre, thanks to the MU casting Sleep on it before the fighters (novices to Old School) could foolishly rush in.
- They spent time exploring the wilderness and enjoyed it!
- PCs found one of the big dungeons, The Elder Temple, and scouted appropriately to find it's entrances
- Within one room of the dungeon they encountered a guardian spirit of a tomb and, instead of rushing into combat, they talked to him and actually made more progress than if they had tried to fight (and they would have died--no question.)
- Excellent use of oil and FIRE!

- The aforementioned Joel... Joel is an odd duck. His past gaming experiences include some light-storygaming and some Pathfinder. He was *shocked* and a bit appalled that I would roll dice behind the screen when HIS character was checking for traps. (Yes, he played the Thief.)
We had to spend a good 5 minutes explaining why the DM should roll privately to maintain the suspense of the player not knowing whether or not the PC was successful in finding a trap. He complained that he might as well not have brought dice or some such.
Later, when the players decided to toss oil and a torch at a giant ant (WM) group, Joel declared he would throw a flask of oil. Knowing he had just re-fueled his lantern, I asked where his flask was (pack, pouch, or strapped to a belt somehow).
He spent at least a minute going back and forth with me saying "I don't know" and then "I DON"T KNOW" because "I don't know enough about the situation to be able to say."
All the other players at the table were aghast, honestly. I was giving him a chance to, essentially, retcon a flask of oil onto his belt so he could actually throw it this turn instead of fumbling in his pack.
We painstakingly explained that I really was asking for information. It's his character--only he knows where his gear is stored.

Honestly, that was my only disappointment.
Yes, they wasted a lot of time investigating the farmhouse of the disappeared couple, looking for clue leading to abduction or some such, but that's fine. It's a sandbox-ish world--they are free to waste time. I'll lay hooks into where they go, but I'm not bringing the dungeon or the adventure to them.

Everyone left on an upbeat note and said they were eager to play again on July 6th!
Joel will not be there on the 6th (yay) but may return after that.

I am very much looking forward to continuing this game.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hollow World: Torn Asunder

The Sundering

Our beautiful world was torn in half.

Once, the world was calm, peaceful, fully known. We had no questions about the world we lived in--certainly, philosophers waxed eloquent about the possibilities of afterlife, the old superstitious concepts of an Outworld, full of daemons, but it was more an academic exercise. In the last two years, though, we have realised how wrong we were to ignore those wise ones.

Though a small world it was, its smallness gave us safety, security, and peace. These last two years have ravaged our world: the climate now varies two or three times a year, there are regions of the world that are always cold, farms no longer produce crops year round... Worst of all, though, are the phantasmagorical phenomenae. The gulf of void that separates the Lower World and the Upper World is, we fear, a gateway from the Outworld.

Strange things happen daily. People disappear, bodies are found sacrificed on strange altars, animals scatter when nothing is present, birds take flight in strange new patterns, and some even claim they see blood in the sky. These are read as omens by most people; they consider them signs of pending doom from Outworld. Meanwhile, others claim that the sundering of the world is a time of excitement, of opportunity for exploration, redemption, salvation.

Art shamelessly borrowed from a Google Image search. I think maybe it's from the MMO, Aion.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Review: Zogorion, Lord of the HIppogriffs

No spoilers here.

Last night, I had the opportunity to run a pickup game of LotFP for some lovely folks on G+. I had been itching for a chance to run +Jason Sholtis's little micro-module, Zogorion: Lord of the Hippogriffs, and decided this was the perfect chance.

The Good: Brevity! This micro-module can be read in about 15-20 minutes. That's really all the prep you need, unless you want to add some more customized hooks, or reskin something.
Jason injected just enough character and personality into Zog, the main NPC, to make him a fantastically interesting character, but left a lot of the little details up to the Referee to nit pick or hand wave.
This is in no way a railroady module. You can lay the hook(s) and see how the players take them. The location described is openly laid out in the module so that a Referee can allow the players to approach the challenge however they wish. Within there are even several major items that could be drawing factors or goals for PCs besides the obvious interactions with Zog.

The Bad: I honestly can't say much about it that isn't good. Maybe the fact that he hasn't written another like this yet?
I suppose there are a few little details left out regarding Zog's lair. They are easily filled in by a good Referee, of course, so it's not a real problem. I can't lay out the details here without spoilers, so I'll leave it at that.

The Ugly: Nothing. Seriously, I can't find anything that I just scoffed at. This was easy to read, easy to tweak and tailor, and a blast to run.

Where can you acquire such a delightful module, you ask? Why at Jason's blog, of course: