Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dudes, New Clash of the Titans Kicks Ass

I don't remember reading a positive mention amongst the blogs I frequent for the Clash of the Titans remake.  Of course, the majority of comments were "me too" from people who hadn't even bothered to see it.  Still the posters who were down on CotT.  I don't understand, I gotta assume they hate fun.

Actually, I believe I understand.  I just find it hard to accept so many are "get off my lawn", conservative, movie, "prudes" (the opposite of the following list).  Some things about me that may or may not invalidate my opinion of movies for you:
  1. I like stop motion animation CotT but I love CGI.  They're really different things and not comparable, impressionism vs photography.
  2. I judge movies on their merits. Not if they follow a book / papyrus scroll, previous movie, etc.  In fact if movie is same as book/previous edition, wtf even bother making it?
  3. I do not require from movies profound statements, deep meaning, fine art, or even good writing/acting. If I sit on my edge of seat, cheer, and/or whisper that's "bad ass" I'm happy.  In other words I'm not negatively predisposed towards the action/adventure genre.

First, a couple of things that bothered me enough to notice:
  1. I was not keen that Zeus and the other gods wore full, shiny plate.
  2. WTF desert wizard dudes, they were cool, and completed the party (see below) but seriously random.
  3. 3d, not a fan. There was option to watch it normal, but my friends and I (well I) choose beer and food over 2d.

Why Clash of the Titans Kicks Ass

Visually stunning, wow! The way Hades formed and the depiction of the gods watching man from Olympus, kicked ass. Char wood guys were keen too.  I got a half dozen ideas and lots of good descriptive fodder for use in running RPGs.  Reason enough for me to like this movie.

While they got a love interest in there, the soulless beings who make 90% of Hollywood movies suck, were unable to work in the "two boys fight over girl" plot that ruins most movies.  Instead plot is totally adventure 101.

The movie flowed EXACTLY like a RPG adventure.  PC is "railroaded" (movies often railroad due to time constraints/pacing/being non-interactive) into meeting with plot hook, gathers some men-at-arms (Argosian soilders), picks up a couple thieves (the two comedic relief guys), later they hook up with a wizard (chared wood dude).  They have to seek out witches to learn what the mcguffin is.  Go get it (nice example of using terrain to make exciting combat), then use mcguffin to beat the big bad. [It's so perfect I sort of suspect the writers/producers consulted with computer game publishers to smooth the inevitable companion games.]

Clash of the Titans is a flippin fun movie.  If you hate fun it's not for you, otherwise see it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Devil in the Details: Alfar Berserkers

The Devil is in the Details has grown on me since I first saw it in Fight On!

I generally don't like character background tables or mechanics.  Mostly because I want chargen to be very fast. And with minimal steps/choices so newbs aren't overwhelmed.  I wouldn't make these tables a required or even suggested part of character creation.

To me the true value in these lists lie in how they concisely convey a bunch of background and flavor to the reader.  Whether that reader is a player trying to get a grasp on the campaign world or me at a later date wondering what the hell I was thinking...

Here is my entry for Alfar Berserker.  These are Basic D&D/LL style race and class are combined.  "Alfar Berserker" is the class, there are no Dwarf Berserkers or Human Berserkers.  All Alfar share the Many Alfar table.

Many Alfar (roll 1d20 three times)
  1. Adventure due to a death wish and desire to die "young and happy".
  2. Would rather die then let a slight or insult stand.
  3. Have been outlawed by their city-states.
  4. Will not wear the color red (blood color tempts weapons to strike).
  5. Have synesthesia.
  6. Are exiled and seek to return honor to their name/clan.
  7. Believe today is a good day to die.
  8. View humans and halfmen as out of control animals in need of frequent culling.
  9. Believe if you can't keep me from taking your stuff, then it's not really your stuff, is it?
  10. Suffer from narcissism.
  11. Claim other worlds exist.
  12. Believe "Loosing" is dishonorable. Cheating, dirty fighting, using unfair odds, etc in order to win is not.
  13. Appear androgynous to humans and halfmen.
  14. Proudly display their clan via distinctive dress/facial tattoos/hair styles.
  15. Find the concepts of aging and death endlessly fascinating.
  16. Treat short lived races as the naive, ignorant children that they are.
  17. Have not learned to hide their arrogant aloofness around others. -2 reaction.
  18. Sense latent emotions left in items, areas. 2 in 6.
  19. Secretly worship the Vanir and Jotuns.
  20. Are hundreds (3d6) years old.

Some Berserkers (roll d16 once)
  1. Consume narcotics and hallucinogens to enter berserkergang.
  2. Sing beautiful, melodic, haunting songs while slaughtering.
  3. Berserkergang with eyes closed.  Their blows guided by hate and anger.
  4. While berserkergang remain absolutely silent, flowing gracefully from one slaughter to the next.
  5. Consul against violence and war.
  6. Have lost faith/interest and tire of the endless slaughter.
  7. Really have it in for Jotuns(giants).  Must attack them first, -4 reaction, +2 hit.
  8. Really have it in for big snakes and ophidians.  Must attack them first, -4 reaction, +2 hit.
  9. Are actually just psychotic murderers and give a rat's ass about Thor and his cult.
  10. Have interests other than fighting, battle, and Thor.
  11. Know the time of their death, know they can not avoid it and that it will not come early.
  12. Follow war/violence/death god other than Thor.
  13. Name and talk with their weapons.
  14. Violent, murdering ways have attracted dark beings keen to complete the Berserker's corruption.
  15. Have unintentionally killed friends while berserkergang. 
  16. Have tasted human flesh.

Common Traveling Gear (d16 1d3 times)
  1. Wolf pelt worn as cape.
  2. Plants and mushrooms eaten to achieve berserkergang.
  3. A wide leather strap embossed with the runes of Thor's Blessing worn across chest bandoleer style.
  4. Roman style weighted Cesti, for sparing amongst friends.
  5. Armband with one feather/tassel/ornament for each viking they have participated on.
  6. Token of Thor's admiration.
  7. Scroll detailing the major arteries and vital organs of several races.
  8. Soap and scents to clean off the blood and gore of the dead.
  9. Shaving knife to keep their head nicely bald.  
  10. The ring with crest of powerful Human noble house, acquired while viking.
  11. Warpaint.
  12. A halfman child's doll, slightly stained with blood.
  13. Knee spikes.
  14. Pouch with the finger bones (index, middle) of defeated enemies.
  15. Rune scribed belt indicating their rank within Thor's cult.
  16. Helmet with horns!

Monday, April 26, 2010

North Texas RPG Convention Special Release

Badmike posted to the TARGATalk E-Mail list a special release to occur at the North Texas RPG Convention, June 3-6, 2010.

Tim Kask's adventures "High in the Hellgate Mountains" and "Temple of the Weaver Queen" available only at the NTRPG Convention
The NTRPG Con is proud to announce we will be selling limited edition booklet copies of Tim Kask's adventures "High in the Hellgate Mountains" and "Temple of the Weaver Queen" at the con. ONLY AVAILABLE at the con, in limited quantities of 50 copies each, these adventures were presented (respectively) at the 2009 Gencon Acaeum Game and 2009 NTRPG Con, and have never been available before except in extremely rare DM copies auctioned or given away at the Gen Con Acaeum dinner or NTRPG Con #1.

The adventures will be in small booklet form, limited to one per attendee, with only 50 copies available of each adventure. Tim plans in the future to present these and other specially written adventures in a more traditional format, but for right now this is the ONLY way to get a look at two great old school OD&D adventures in their original form!

Stay tuned. More announcements to come...

The Geomorph Dungeon Cube Project Continues

[Other Geomorph Dungeon Cube posts]

I went to thrift store today. Didn't find any Scrabble.  But, I did find some 1.5" square blocks. Ten for $.99. Enough for a 2x2 cube.  And when I find more blocks I can reuse those as the corners of a 3x3 cube.

I can use the cubes as is. 2x2 seems to stay together fairly well and it's easy to rotate four blocks.  I'd like to drill holes and add magnets to the inner faces so they stuck together.  Think that would be needed for a 3x3.  Wonder if I have the skill, I certainly lack the drill press/router that would make it easy. [Note: on my skill. Middle school shop class, I picked the very most easiest project.  A box, to hold magazines (Dragon's actually).  When I set it down on teachers desk to be graded it split at the seems and fell apart.]

Your dungeons will be assimilated! 

This is an interesting project.  Due to nature of 2x2 Rubik's Cubes three maps will always be adjacent and it's worth some consideration in choosing the maps and alignments. For instance I put all the natural cave tiles on two cubes.

Next up, besides shellac, is the keyed Dungeon of Geometric Doom and rules on when/why cube rotates!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What's Up With Attack Table Progression

What's up with attack table progression in original, classic, and retro D&D?

Whatever, I'm sure this issue has been talked to death. I just want to say I much prefer this table to the standard Labyrinth Lord one. Which among other things annoys me to no end that M-Us have same hit chance as fighter until 3rd lvl. In this table fighters (Edit: after 1st lvl) are always better to hit than other classes of same level.  Btw, I'm uninterested in AC lower than 0 (the best AC possible) or levels above 9-12.

Awesome Table
Warrior Whacker Wuss tohit 0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9
   0             1    +0  20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11
   1     1-2    2-4   +1  19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10
   2     3-4    5-7   +2  18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10  9
  3-4    5-6    8-10  +3  17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10  9  8
   5     7-8   11-12  +4  16 15 14 13 12 11 10  9  8  7
   6     9-10  13-14  +5  15 14 13 12 11 10  9  8  7  6
  7-8   11-12  15-16  +6  14 13 12 11 10  9  8  7  6  5
   9    13-14  17-18  +7  13 12 11 10  9  8  7  6  5  4
  10    15-16  19-20  +8  12 11 10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3
  11    17-18  21-22  +9  11 10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2
  12+   19+     23+  +10  10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  2

Instead of tables I much prefer the formula tohit + AC + d20 >= 20 scores a hit.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Alfar Berserker

[After thinkering over the feedback I got in my first Berserker Post I decided to change things up a bit. Below I present the complete GnG Alfar Berserker class for Labyrinth Lord or B/X, BECMI, RC, whatever float your Swanboat. Needs play testing but I think I'm done messing with it before I see how it plays.]

Alfar / Elves

The Fey know them as the Alvar Vekk (Fallen|Low|Lost Fey), men call them Elves, Alfar is the name they themselves use.  Long ago they turned their backs on their Fey cousins and the Mythic World. They embraced The Mundane. Ploughed the meadows, cut the woods and mtns pilling them into cities, learned science and technology. In a word they civilized and the other Fey have never forgiven them.

Elves cluster into large family clans.  Most clans have banded together into city-states.  Elves are fiercely loyal to their clan and city-state.  Competition, raiding and out right war is common between the city-states.  Known for exploration and colonization.  Their lodges and larger colonies may be found anywhere.  Sighting the prows of their flying Swanships on the horizon presages either a violent and merciless raid or a profitable trade meet.

Although various colonies and individual elf groups have adopted most other pantheons at one time or another the majority elves follow the Asgardian pantheon. Espcially Odin+Frigg and children (Tyr, Bragi, Baldur), Thor+Sif, and Loki.  These gods have taught and influenced elves to adopt much of the culture and attitudes of Earth's Norsemen.

Alfar Traits:
  • "Slight Build" - 120lbs, 5-5.5' tall. Can wear only Light and Medium armor.
  • "Unchanging" - Long lives, thousands of years. Most elves die of heartache or misfortune before old age reaches them.
  • "Noble" - Graceful and beautiful by human standards.
  • "Sly" - Acute sense of sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. 2 in 6.
  • "Star-eyed" - Low-light vision, see clearly with very little light.
  • "Myth Born" - No chance of using Ancient tech*. -2 saves vs magic.
  • "Look Elves!" - Loved by Hobbits, +2 reaction rolls. 
  • "Fallen" - Despised by Fey, -4 reaction with Fey including Gnomes, Dwarfs, and Unseelie. Resistant to Fey magicks, +4 on saves vs Fey magick.

Alfar Berserker (Thor's Children)
Requirements:     INT 9
Prime Requisite:  STR and CON
Max Level:        9, upon reaching 9th lvl Valkyries arrive and take you to Valhalla
Hit Dice:         d8
Combat:           as fighter, 1h d6, 2h d8, Martial Skill
Saves:            as fighter
Level:            as fighter
Languages:        Elven (low fey)
Ethos:          Red only. Most are members of Thor's Cult.

"Berserkers stand and fight because if you run, you'll only die tired."
Must have 13+ in both STR an CON to earn 5% xp bonus.  Must have a CON of 16+ and STR of 13+ to earn 10% xp bonus.  Note: high Wisdom is a detriment for Berserkers making it hard for them to work themselves into and sustain berserkergang.  All Berserkers hold Thor in great esteem for it is his hate and anger that fuels their berserkergang frenzy.  Most are active members of his cult.  If there was any doubt all Berserkers follow the Red ethos*.  A Berserker may earn the right to various titles (wolf, bear, beast, dragon).  To do so they must kill the title's creature and wear it's pelt.

Berserkergang: During combat, whenever they take damage, a Berserker may attempt to work themselves into a berserker rage by rolling 2d6+damage >= their Wisdom score (2 always fail).  Hit point damage received is added as a modifier to the berserker rage roll.  Berserkers may attempt this roll every time they are hit for damage.

Berserkergang lasts until Berserker does not attack (for whatever reason) or Berserker fails to hit at least once in a round and also fails a sustain rage roll, 2d6+lvl >= Wisdom score (2 always fail).  Berseker's level is added as a modifier to the sustain rage roll.

After the berserkergang leaves them, Berserkers are mentally and physically exhausted.  Until they rest (during post combat recovery) Berserkers suffer the following effects.  Cannot work themselves into a berserker rage.  Have a -2 penalty to all activities; to hit, skill rolls, saves including Death & Dismemberment rolls!

Effects of berserkergang:
  • Must opt for direct melee attacks over other activities. I.e. will not use ranged weapons, tricky combat maneuvers, stop to drink potion, stand still to receive healing, seek cover, withdraw, etc.
  • Will use their most damaging preferably two-handed weapon.
  • Will not use a shield other than to bash with. Does not gain any defensive benefit from shields.
  • Receives a bonus to saves vs charm, friends, command, fear, etc. and moral checks equal to their level.
  • Does 2x damage.  I.e. Roll normal damage die, multiply by 2, add modifiers.
  • If required to roll on Death and Dismemberment Table, may roll twice taking best result and ignores stunned and knocked out results
  • Gains "Bloodlust"* and "Slaughterhouse"*.

Berserker Pelt
Berserker's who kill a wolf, bear, beast, or dragon earn the title wolf|bear|etc-slayer and the right to wear it's pelt.  A Berserker who drenches their pelt in the blood of 99 battles and takes it to 9 places holy to Thor may sacrifice themselves with this pelt.  If Thor is pleased he will return Berserker to Midgard as a shapeshifter able to transform into the creature matching the pelt.

Commentary & Notes 

Too many dice rolls?  A couple 2nd ed Kits, Berserker and Battlerager are very similar to my other Berserker Post, including the attacking friends FU.   Compared to Fighters, Berserkers are limited to medium armor, will be benefiting from shields less, do slightly less 2h damage (but 2x when berserk), two prime stats for xp bonus, susceptible to magic, and no ancient tech.  High damage, but likely to burn through hit points.  Maybe a bit like the combat version of magic user, in that they hit hard but quickly blow their wad and need to go home and rest.

Some numbers on entering/sustaining berserkergang.

Ancient tech -- the air cars, the laser pistols and the other kick-ass stuff are genetically coded to only work for the Ancients (or those possessing enough Ancients' DNA).

Red ethos refers to the five color MtG "alignments" Red, Green, Blue, Black, White.  Best translation is probably Chaos/CG.

"Bloodlust" -- After dropping an opponent in melee, receive free attack on nearby target.

"Slaughterhouse" -- When in melee with opponents who are all 1/2 your level or less, roll one attack and X damage dice where X is your level.  Damage dice may be split (one die per target) amongst opponents 1/2 your level or less that are "close".  It is assumed the warrior is hacking his way through this fodder and thus can reach enemies who aren't directly adjacent.

    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    Neat Weapon for Sci-fi

    I loved the rocket rifles and needlers from Star Frontiers.  This Real Life weapon reminds me of those. Funny that it was developed by "Tickle Me Elmo" dude, Bruce Lund.
    Lund recalled seventh-grade science demonstrations in which an electric current is passed through water, producing oxygen and hydrogen gas. Mix the two together, add a spark and boom!

    The application was an ideal fit for Lund's combustion technology, which can measure out the appropriate amount of gas for each shot.

    The weapon's effectiveness has been tested on blocks of gelatin that simulate human flesh; the projectiles hit with considerable force, but do not penetrate.

    The muzzle velocity is normally set automatically, but at the military's request it has a manual override, so the shooter can dial it up to maximum power and fire lethal shots.

    2d6 + mod >= value

    Probable Probabilities Series

    2d6 + mod >= value, 2 always fails

    Rolled 10,000 times.

    value +0  +1  +2  +3  +4  +5  +6  +7  +8  +9
      1  97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97%
      2  97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97%
      3  97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97%
      4  92% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97%
      5  83% 92% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97%
      6  72% 84% 92% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97%
      7  59% 72% 82% 92% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97%
      8  42% 59% 73% 83% 92% 97% 97% 97% 97% 97%
      9  27% 40% 59% 72% 83% 92% 97% 97% 97% 97%
     10  17% 28% 42% 58% 72% 83% 92% 97% 97% 97%
     11   8% 17% 28% 41% 58% 72% 83% 92% 97% 97%
     12   3%  8% 16% 27% 42% 59% 73% 84% 92% 97%
     13   0%  3%  8% 16% 27% 43% 59% 72% 84% 92%
     14   0%  0%  3%  8% 17% 27% 42% 59% 73% 83%
     15   0%  0%  0%  3%  8% 17% 28% 43% 60% 72%
     16   0%  0%  0%  0%  3%  8% 17% 28% 42% 58%
     17   0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  3%  9% 17% 28% 42%
     18   0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  3%  8% 16% 28%
     19   0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  3%  8% 17%
     20   0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  3%  9%

    2d6 + mod >= value

    Rolled 10,000 times.

    value +0  +1  +2  +3  +4  +5  +6  +7  +8  +9
      1  100% -->
      2  100% -->
      3  97% 100% -->
      4  92% 97% 100% -->
      5  83% 91% 97% 100% -->
      6  72% 83% 92% 97% 100% -->
      7  58% 72% 84% 91% 97% 100% -->
      8  41% 58% 72% 84% 91% 97% 100% -->
      9  28% 41% 58% 72% 84% 92% 97% 100% -->
     10  16% 28% 43% 58% 72% 83% 92% 97% 100%100%
     11   9% 17% 29% 42% 58% 71% 83% 91% 97% 100%
     12   3%  8% 17% 28% 41% 58% 72% 84% 92% 97%
     13   0%  3%  8% 17% 28% 42% 59% 72% 84% 92%
     14   0%  0%  3%  8% 16% 28% 42% 59% 72% 83%
     15   0%  0%  0%  3%  9% 17% 27% 42% 59% 72%
     16   0%  0%  0%  0%  3%  8% 17% 28% 41% 58%
     17   0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  3%  9% 17% 28% 42%
     18   0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  2%  9% 16% 28%
     19   0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  3%  8% 17%
     20   0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  0%  3%  9%

    Geomorph Cube Dungeon

    [Follow up to my Dungeon Geomorph Cube and Slidy Puzzles post.]

    I created a little proof of concept for a 2x2 Geomorph Cube Dungeon. Rubik's cubes are more complex than I originally thought.  It still lacks some tile rotations, [actually it's kind of screwed up].  I don't think I have enough SAN to code a 3x3 cube.  You can download the code and geomorphs to run it locally and/or mess with it.

    It's sort of a pain to mentally translate the cross projection to a cube and I don't DM with computer.  So, I'm less inclined to finish/prettify the above proof of concept, I think... Would like to find large Rubik's cube and actually build one! Cause that would be rad and something I could actually use in game and totally flippin awesome to laugh maniacally as I rotated it.  But, the largest cube I've found has approx 1" faces, which is damn small for these geomorphs.  I have no idea how to build my own Rubik's or working facsimile.  Or rather, I know how, just not how to limited by my poor mechanical / shop skills.

    Thanks to Risus Monkey for letting me use their geomorphs. And thanks to mthomas768 for remembering what movie, The Cube, I was thinking of.  And Huge Thanks to Grim and their blog Postapocapost for coming up with this awesome idea to begin with.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Probable Probabilities

    I'm a sucker for dice and other mechanics. I see (in games, on blogs) many interesting mechanics and think up my own crazy schemes from time to time.  I often wonder about the probabilities behind these mechanics.  I've done some "analysis" in the past.  I'm doing more.  All will be indexed in this post.

    ["analysis" is in quotes cause 1) I'm no statistician 2) I'm gonna mostly use brute force programs (i.e roll 1,000,000 times, avg result) rather than math which is more exact but math is hard&work where as programming is easy&fun.]

    Probable Probabilities
    • Ye old bell curve.
    • Exploding dice.
    • Hackmaster's correct exploding dice.
    • AC Bonus vs Save.
    • 2d6+mod > value.
    • 3d6+mod > value.
    • Roll X dice take highest.
    • Roll X dice take lowest.
    • Party rolls vs individual 2in6, etc. see Party Rolls.
    • 2d6 Thief'n from RPG Characters.
    • Forget where this came from Instead of using a percentile die for Thieves' Find Traps etc., you could give them more dice, depending on their level. Start them out with 2d6, and add a d6 every 3rd (?) level. For consistency, I'd do this with Elves and Dwarves as well, so rather than finding a trap on a 1-2, they'd get two dice to roll and find the trap if either of the dice showed a 1. Incredibly cunning traps might require 2 ones showing to be revealed, or even more for truly diabolically sneaky traps.
    • To be continued...  (requests welcomed)

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Dungeon Geomorph Cube and Slidy Puzzles.

    If you've only made one post so far this year make it a quality one!

    Idea is to make a mini dungeon using geomorphs placed on the faces of a Rubik's Cube.  When characters think they know where they're at or are about to make it out you spin the Rubik's cube and screw'm (or if you're a wuss DM you could make it a fair and logical large scale puzzle).  Like that bad Sci-Fi channel movie I saw once and don't want to remember name of.

    Or, less ambitious make the geomorphs into a slidy puzzle.  Just print out 8, 15, 24, ... arrange in cube.  Maybe with bluetac or magnets and slide them around. 

    Rubik's Cube: 9 geomorphs, 6 sides to a cube that is 54 geomorphs.  Hmmmm, where oh where can I get 54 square, smallish geomorphs. If only someone had a Geomorph Mapping Project and had produced like a bazillion awesome hand drawn geomorphs.

    At first I was gonna do six screen grabs of Rob Lang's map generator, but it hasn't been updated and only has the first 30 geomorphs. If I go to trouble of doing this might as well do it up right!

    Speaking of which I should physically make this, like in RL 3d.  I need a Giant Rubik's Cube.  Er, that's too giant how about Large Rubik's Cube, google be failing me!!  Did you know Rubik sells DIY Rubik Cube with Lube? I didn't, but it too small.  Come on, Internet, wtf?  Ah, found some 10cm cubes on ebay... would make maps about 1" sq.  Flippin tiny, but maybe usable.  Gonna hold off on RL 3d, maybe my wonderful readers will find something better, hint, hint ;)

    Downloading 54 maps latter...  TBC

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Anniversary Post

    It's hard to tell cause not all my posts are RPG related and I have a dozen half completed posts in draft and I'm too lazy to figure it out.  But, sometime soon or recently [been procrastinating finishing this post, think I'm at 215-220 mark now] Troll and Flame passed the 200th post mark. Big deal.

    I'm not a fan of anniversaries, perhaps this is related to my denial of time and avoidance of mortality.  But, a comment I wrote somewhere made me realize there are reasons I started and continue to blog.  I'd like to call a few out and thank them.

    I started this Troll and Flame for three reasons, in order; 1) I'd been reading the OSR and other RPG blogs for a while and was getting so many ideas and resources I wanted to contribute back.  By adding my own ideas to the mix both in comments and on this blog.  Also, spreading awareness of and driving readers to other blogs/resources.  Sharing the awesomeness.  2) I've always needed an outlet for my creativity.  Blogging fits the bill nicely. 3) I'm a vain, attention whore.

    That was enough to get going but the fuel that has sustained me is the wonderful community of RPG bloggers I'm part of.

     Early on Zack Houghton of offered to swap guest posts with me.  It was a small thing but really made feel welcomed and encouraged to continue. Thanks Zack!  I've recently offered guest post swapping to a new blogger I know.  [Also, if anyone wants to swap posts you can email me, I'm totally up for it.]

    Jeff's Gameblog was one of the first blogs I found and it encouraged me to start blogging. Actually, it encouraged my adoption of a whole new gamer attitude. Locking away the "serious, analytical, everything must be perfect in my campaign anal norm" and unleashing the "holy crap yes, I will run that without any prep and it will be flippin rad, monkey norm!"  [I dump such crazed adulations on you, you're probably thinking I'm some psycho stalker.]  My best friend, also named Jeff, cracked my head open and you've continued his mental expansion work.  You two are the Buddhas who brought me enlightenment. Thanks.

    The Lair of The Evil DM another early blog I followed and among the blogs that made me want to contribute back more than just comments.  The Lair's mix of  softcore and dress up mandolls posts* encouraged me to write Troll and Flame "as norm", rather than attempting to create a more acceptable/mainstream norm.  Thanks Most Evil One.
    * Plenty of other types of posts as well. Just, those where the ones that made me think "holy hotness, what does this have to do with rpgs" / "haha what a dork, grown man playing with dolls"** and that I'd never have that stuff on my blog.  But then "fuck it".  The Evil DM doesn't give a shit what I think about his porn and mandolls why should I give a shit about what others think about my cussing and dorkery.
    ** A bit of creative license, greatly exaggerating and twisting my thoughts. Your action figures are rad and adults who don't play with toys suck.  And I shouldn't talk shit being the owner of several stuffed animals.

    [A "My Advice to Bloggers" aside: In retrospect that, being norm, has been key for lasting over 200 posts.  At times your audience will be non-existent or piss you off and you'll loose the desire to continue.  To last, write for yourself not an audience.   Write what you want, when you want, how you want.  Internet big place, an audience will find you as long as you are true to yourself.]

    ChattyDM Thanks for being my first comment!

    Sham aka Dave Thanks for being my second comment!
    JB Wow, I hadn't realized you've been reading for so long. Thanks!

    Grognardia You might disagree and I'd wager you'd prefer it not to be, but, you are a leader of a community of blogs. Thanks for being a good one. And thanks for having a blog roll which started me on this adventure.

    There are many others to thank... Daily I read blogs that blow my mind, spark my imagination, and drive me to continue blogging.  I owe a debt of gratitude to all of you, the bloggers in my roll. Thanks. You people are driving me mad with ideas!

    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Sunday Links

    [Read first Sunday Links post to find out what this is about.  RPG Links for past Sunday posts and other link posts.]

    Talislanta Video --

    Space Babes --

    The Redbox, it grows --

    Obsessive Compulsives' store --

    Pretty much everything on this site flippin rocks --

    Using tossed objects (condiment sauce, dice) to generate cave maps, flippin brilliant --
    Too many other original, interesting ideas on that blog to link to.  Trust me.  Spend some time clicking around and reading you will be rewarded.

    Magic buttholes and exploding eyes --

    Lots of Free OSR Stuff --

    The latest goings on of interest to classic style gamers are reported by Jame's in his weekly OSR News from The Underdark Gazette.

    The Care and Feeding of Your GM -- Roleplaying Tips Weekly E-Zine Issue #485

    Roleplaying Tips Weekly E-Zine Issue #485 is out! This weeks topic is "The Care and Feeding of your DM".  Yeah baby, represent!  I take oatmeal cookies, btw.

    And that's why you shouldlet us kill your characters.

    So, what is the nicest thing you've ever done for your DM or a player did for you?


    Saturday, April 17, 2010

    Barsoomian Name Generator

    In Like Flynn created nifty tables for generating Barsoomian sounding names.  I was bored and wrote up a little javascript that used his data.  Results below;

    Data and idea from In Like Flynn Blog.
    The Button/Javascript probably won't work on blogger. [Edit: Nope it doesn't.]  Here's a working version and also the code (use the view source Luke!).

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    First Spam Comment

    Does that mean I've broken into the popular blogs?  Proly not, just random luck.

    Origin of the Flumph

    Hey, isn't that a Flumph on the cover of Invasion of the Air Eaters?  And hey, why not? Certainly Flumphs are scary enough to represent monsters that breath I mean "eat" air.

    Courtesy of this E-bay auction.


    Not anything overly wrong with the various "rage" mechanics I've seen for D&D (except they keep attaching them to barbarians).  None of them really do it for me either.  Looking for something to use for a Berserker Alfar* class I came up with this.

    Going Berserk
    • During combat, at the start of their turn, a Berserker may attempt to go berserk by rolling 2d6 >= to their Wisdom score.
    • Damage received since the start of their last turn may be added as a modifier to their berserk roll.
    • Berserkers may attempt this roll (once per round) as often as they like.
    Being Berserk
    • Must melee attack every round.  Even if only targets are "friends." If there are no known targets left alive Berserker will run off in random direction looking for something to murder.
    • Will not use ranged weapons, stop to heal, etc.
    • Will run/charge to get into melee range.
    • Will use most damaging (preferably two-handed) weapon.
    • Will not use a shield other than to bash with. Does not gain any defensive benefit from shields.
    • Immune to to charm and the like.
    • Receives bonus vs fear, command, moral checks, and the like equal to their level.
    • to hit and/or damage bonuses of the typical sort.  Leaning towards double damage.
    • While berserk, at the end of their turn, a Berserker may attempt to calm the fuck down by rolling 2d6 <= their Wisdom score.
    • Damage they dealt during their turn must be added as a modifier to their calm down roll.
    • If Berserker is knocked unconscious/asleep/temporarily killed their berserker rage is over.

    It has the feeling of wild rage I think of when picturing Berserkers.  I espcially like the roll above/below Wis. But, it's kind of a FU to other players. This douche will be killing hirelings and characters in uncontrollable rages.  Anything that makes Berserker less douchey also lessons the "risk" of going berserk.

    I don't know what else to use as the "risk".  Being tired afterwards is not a big deal. Other balancing mechanics; X per day is supa-lame. Loss of hitpoints / new stamina stat are annoying, can be gamed with healing, and are obscured versions of x per day mechanics.

    ? Make the calm down roll mandatory every round.  To hit/damage/AC penalties, during post berserk period. Limit Berserker to one rage per "combat".

    ? May deberserk at will.  To hit/damage/AC penalties, during post berserk period.  Limit Berserker to one berserk roll attempt per "combat".

    * Alfar are Fey (elves) who were enticed by Stargate SG-1 Asgard Grays to abandon their Mythic heritage. They've assumed Earth's Norse mythology and culture, with few wrinkles. Such as instead of going a viking in Dragon Longships they swoop down from the sky aboard flying Swanships. Having learned how to harness inertia dampeners salvaged from a crashed Asgard Mothership for flight.

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Knockspell Issue #4

    Knockspell Issue #4 contains a veritable cornucopia of gaming content for your retro-clone or out-of-print fantasy campaign! Here's a preview of the table of contents:

    From Kuroth’s Quill Allan T. Grohe, Jr.
    Beneath the Crossroads: an Adventure Joshua James Gervias
    Artist Interview: Christopher Burdett
    Megadungeon Adventuring Tactics Matt Finch
    Isles on an Emerald Sea 3: An Adventure Gabor Lux
    Random Tavern Generator Robert Lionheart
    Artifact Type & Attributes Scot Hoover
    Spell Interval System John Stater
    Online Roleplaying: A Quick Overview Marcelo Frossard Paschoalin
    Rats in the Walls: an Adventure by Jeffrey P. Talanian
    Stealing the Histories Michael Curtis
    Free-Form Rules as a Referee’s Toolbox Al Krombach
    Rolling Along: Wheeled Magic Items James Bobb
    Weird Weather and other Unexplanable Phenomena J Shoultis, J Larrey, J Hartleb
    Review: The Dungeon Alphabet Allan T. Grohe, Jr.
    Weapon Generator J.R. Cone
    New Magic Items James Bobb

    Knockspell #4 is now available in both print and pdf versions from Black Blade Publishing

    Troll Pimping A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe

    I added a new widget: This Week I Be Pimpin

    Just so there's no confusion, no one has asked me to pimp anything well not this thing anyhow. These will always be products which I own a copy of, believe deserve exposure, and believe maybe worth your time/money.  The pimping idea totally stolen from The Underdark Gazzette. Hopefully I'll remember to change it every week.

    This week it's XRP's A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe 2nd Edtion. One of the best, thorough, and RPG useful source books for medieval Europe I've read.  Lots of reviews for the 1st edition.

    Necrotic Technology

    In Grognarida's Dwimmermount Session 36 the party encountered --

    obviously dead apes whose bodies were animated through some sort of necromantic technology -- tubes, gears, and silvery-black replacement parts.
    Which gave me the science-fantasy idea that all corporeal undead are "cyborg" constructions.  Mostly skeletons and zombies in all their countless variations.  I've never been sold on undead as a "class" of beings.  There just sort of boring and the ones you could poke always seemed to diminish the incorporeals' impact.

    I like having "spirits" be the real "dead" and the "walking dead" being necromantic abominations.  I'm fine with having ghouls just be cursed cannibals. Vampires being somethings altogether unique.  What others are there?

    Being associated with necromancy, gives reason for technology to be (wrongly) shunned. It all just fits much better with my world/underworld view and with the science-fantasy setting I'm migrating towards.  Half the reason I'm using LL is cause I think it's a only short hop away from MF.

    Hmmmmm, there's amazingly few images of zombies or skeletons with gears and such findable with 5min of google searches. Everything is about the terminator or Gears of War video game. :(

    All I could find was this break-dancing samurai pirate.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    New Redbox Group Forming in College Station Texas

    A new Redbox D&D meetup out at College Station.

    Sunday April 18th is their first meeting.  Hopefully I'll make it out that way.

    Other Red Box Groups

    Party Dice Rolls

    [Timeshadows' comment on this post gave me this idea which I put to the test during my recent B2 Caves of Chaos Twelve Hour Marathon.]

    I'm annoyed by players lining up, conga style, each rolling an attempt to find secret door, open stuck door, and the like.  In the past I've done things like say "The best at searching, elf, has already failed.  Those of lesser skill have no chance."  Not very satisfying.  Or, let everyone try and just roll more random encounters as players waste time.  Not very satisfying either and many people I play with are not hip to that risk/reward trade off. Years of dissimilar play style are hard to overcome in the one-shots I find myself mostly running.  Or, d20's assist mechanic. A poor mechanic IMO and fails cause no one pays attention and they all want to jump in only after the main roller fails.

    So, prompted by Timeshadows' comment, I came up with idea of making these rolls "party" based. Which is basically the same as everyone rolls in a conga line, with more of a blob than a line. But in actual play it is physiologically different and felt "slick", like the party was working as a team / everyone was participating rather than twiddling their thumbs while thief and elf searched every 10'.

    Search, Hear Noise & the Like

    Search rolls and the like are made by the party together all at once.  Each participating character contributing zero or more d6 to a "pool".  Each player rolls their character's dice and the number of sixes rolled determine if task is successful.  The number of dice each character contributes equals their x in 6 chance for that task.  E.g searching for secret doors; 1 die for most, 2 die for elves and dwarves.

    Simple Auction 

    When party has some art or other rare unique treasure.  They either have to hunt down a buyer, an adventure in itself. Or, sell item(s) at auction. DM in role of auctioneer groups items into lots and decides on a "value range" for each. Value Range being some linear (i.e. involving only 1 die) equation.  Such as 1d12x100gp or 10+d20gp.

    If the lots and value ranges are acceptable to the characters the auction can proceed.  Each character who will share in the proceeds rolls the "value range".  The highest roll is the highest bid and is how much the lot is sold for.  Taxes, tariffs, auction fees are at the DM's discretion.  Characters divide profit as they see fit (it is unrelated to their "range value" roll).

    If the characters are especially clever at attracting buyers, or they aren't in a backwater borderland keep, the DM should up the "value range" and/or roll as if there were additional characters.  Note: a certain amount of character effort in attracting buyers, self bidding, and other shenanigans is assumed and built into the mechanic. I.e. more characters rolling "value range" == greater chance of higher roll.

    [BTW this came about cause I didn't have a clue how much owlbear eggs were worth. My DM's default response to "I don't know" is "roll a die."  Also, I've been moving towards "players roll all dice" esp for treasure.  So, while trying to decide which player should roll dice for the eggs it dawned on me "all of them, of course!". Thus was born simple auction rules.  For me this is exactly what "winging it" and "rulings not rules" means and is why those styles are so much fun.]


    When party wants to booze and wench it up (which I require whenever they return to home base laden with treasure) each character rolls a d6x10 (or larger die if player wants).  The sum of all rolls is how much gold the party spends.  This is evenly divided amongst all characters. Example: three characters roll 2,4,6.  Each of them must spent 40gp on "entertainments". The party's obvious success and wealth provides a +1 the following day to each characters attempt to recruit hirelings or henchmen. Once the hangover subsides that is.

    A bit like Jeff Rients Party for XP table without the XP and without the risks. A house rule I was thinking about but didn't want to get into for a one-shot. Thus I came up with the above "simulation".

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    B2 Caves of Chaos Maps

    B2 Caves of Chaos Twelve Hour Marathon Recap Part 1, other B2 Caves of Chaos Posts.

    I get free rolls of newsprint from my employer which come in handy for drawing large player maps such as this one depicting the ravine that contains The Caves of Chaos.  I only drew the cave mouths that are immediately visible.  Also depicted is are wooden areas (and tree stumps that the nature destroying orcs left behind, bad orcs!), contour lines, and a stream.  I had hopped that the players would draw (their maps and notes) directly on this map.  Didn't happen much.

    I have no scanner. And I'm done futzing with my camera and ready to move onto something that's not B2 so below small, blurry pics are the best you're gettin, sorry.

    [Also, check out this B2 Map]


    The above is a color copy I made of base map (not pictured) to which I added colored pencil shading.  The shading does accentuate the isometric and multilevelness.  It also looks perty.  Oh, I used three colors of shading, dark brown for top level, reddish brown for mid level and green for low level.  Also the higher up, the darker dungeon walls are (using different pen thickness/colors(grey vs black) and going over walls twice to make them darker).  Another trick to visually separate the various mini-dungeons is to use different "wall styles". The temple used big square blocks.  Warangutang lair used very straight lines.  Molemen and kobolds used wavy lines.  This also served as a reminder as to the composition and quality of construction of each lair.  E.g. wavy meaning dirt, tree roots hanging from ceiling, and the like.

    The map is a mixture of D&D B2 and Hackmaster B2 maps. I liked some of the Hackmaster flavor and it was larger, but too large and not easily made isometric.  When combining the two I added many loops, alternate paths, more connections between lairs and levels, and more multilevel lairs.  The original B2's lairs are all fairly small and linear.  Characters have a choice of what what cave to enter but once there it was pretty much hack through a couple dozen minions until you get to the "end boss".  These loops provided tactical options to players and defending critters alike.

    B2 also was lacking in traps.  I added a few.  Many from Hackmaster, the Kobolds lair in particular is trap central.  Btw pit traps are fun to draw isometrically, esp if at their bottoms are secret doors leading to the Otyough's cave complex!

    I'm somewhat sad neither group got to the Warangutang lair (aka Hackmaster's Hobgoblins).  Warangutang's come from (ack forget which) blogger's mutant future campaign, uplifted by the ancients.  I decided their leader had a laser pistol, handed down through the generations.  They also, from Hackmaster, have funny motivational posters such as:
    A tapestry depicts a group of four smiling Hobgoblins hangs on the west wall.  Which has some hobgoblin writing that reads "Sometimes the best solution to morale problems is just to kill all of the unhappy people."
    ... depicting a Hobgoblin military leader shaking his finger. The text reads "Don't make your death serve as a warning to others."

    The hardest things to draw isometrically are caves and octagonal rooms.  I drew 2 drafts prior to getting to the final map.  I still made a couple mistakes, placing a sinkhole in the floor lower catacombs leading to the Minotaur lair some 2-3 levels above. And forgot to draw dashed lines a couple places where a passage was underneath another.  Overall neither a big deal. But makes me wonder how many iterations professional published module maps go through?

    B/W copy of base map(not pictured) used for key and notes.  During a session I might scribble notes on this, deaths, changes to terrain, etc.  Esp if I were running a campaign.  Then create a new one for each session.  One reason I like to keep an original and make copies of it for in game use.

    If this dungeon was my own creation it I'd probably not have a key.  Being my own creation much of it would only be in my head and vaguely defined rather than written out.  (A reason I publish very little.)  Rather than separate keys, I prefer to write notes / reminders directly on the map.  You might have noticed a theme of encoding as much information into the map as possible (isometricness, wall styles, trap symbols, drawing room features on map (see temple for example)).

    Although, this particular map is a bit dense and too "zoomed out" for that to be very effective.   When more detail is needed I like to use 3x5 cards.  Each "lair" would have one card with encounter table for that lair, any other specific rules / reminders for that lair (5' ceilings, dirt and rough stone construction), and a few "five senses" evocative words / phrases for use in description.  Such as "Bree-yark!", stank of animal, dark, rat squeaking, crickets, moist dirt, tree roots from ceiling.  Then, if necessary, a separate 3x5 for each room/encounter with stats, names, tactics, treasure, boxed text, etc.  Really helps me give each area it's own flavor and feeling and cards with short notes are easier for me to access in game then flipping though book and reading paragraphs.

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Roleplaying Tips Weekly E-Zine Issue #483 Instilling Common Sense Into Players, Part 2

    Instilling Common Sense Into Players, Part 2

    Roleplaying Tips Weekly E-Zine Issue #483 is out! This issue continues the topic of getting players to realize their characters aren't invincible superhero's, who can't be killed cause they are integral to the plot.  John Four put some of my advice in this issue so like even more reason to read it. Part 1 of Instilling Common Sense Into Players.


    Can Newbs Start With a Sandbox

    Z's comment on Grognardia's Dungeonworld post asked about Sandbox D&D post by Gabe over at Penny Arcade.

    Like I replied in Grognardia's comments I believe Gabe has discovered the key to sandboxes --
    I sit down at the table with no idea what they will do or where they will go that night. The adventure ends up being just as much a surprise to me as it is to them.
    I wanted to discuss and see what my readers had to say about this quote --
    I honestly think that I could not have started out running this type of game. I think having a year of running more structured adventures under my belt gave me the skills I needed to open the world up like this. I think the same could be said for my players as well.
    I'm guessing that is true of most people. Whether it's inherent in our psychology or we've been accustomed by books, movies, other playstyles to storypaths is moot. I certainly see it with new players.  Ignoring play style just being comfortable with the rules and your role (DM, player) can take time.  I see inklings of in myself, when running new systems/settings I don't wing it or run the game nearly as well as when I'm intimately familiar (that might be just cause I'm a suckass DM).

    It's an interesting point for those of us actively trying to grow and popularize sandbox style gaming. Maybe we need to do a little more hand holding in the beginning, or even run hybrid style.  The Western Marches, in retrospect, seems if not a hybrid at least a sandbox with some structure and direction.  Instead of 100% open.  Western Marches have big ol' signs "the stuff, it's over there". And there are aides to direct and motivate players; table map, competition with other groups, the increasing danger "bands".

    Maybe we should suggest that new DM's get a year of one-shots, running modules, etc. under their belts before they dive into the sandbox? I'm more or less doing that with Labyrinth Lord.

    What say you all?

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Sunday Links

    [Every week I pre-schedule a "Sunday Links" post.  Throughout the week when I find something that piques my particular interests but I don't have time to say much, or don't have much to say I'll add link to it here.  Little bit in the spirit of and a little bit cause I'm always forgetting were I saw cool idea 'X' and little bit cause most weeks I read so much that deserves a wider audience.  So, there may be a lot of content or may not be much each week.]

    I Hit It With My Axe is picking up nicely, episode 4 made me laugh out loud --

    ITGW Success --

    Greyhawk was the 1st campaign world I ever encountered.  It held the "this is how it should be done" title for quite awhile.  But, I eventually grew to abhor the shiny, nice, pseudo-[medieval|late Roman] trappings I had associated with it.  Reading various "pulp" interpretations, Greyhawk seems new and awesome again.  Considering returning to it.

    This is how paladins roll, 'God Haunted' is great description --

    And this is how Dryads --

    And War Chimps --

    And Dolls --

    And Bad-Asses --

    End Game Material via Greg Christopher --

    OMFG, yes! There is a Planet Algol Master Index --

    The realism and detail of CG is beginning to freak me out, and I so love that "RPG bloggers" have there very own 3d artist rocking out new characters and scenes every week --

    "Knightmare", British Dungeon Game Show kicks all sorts of serious ass (in the it's cool looking back at it as a 40yr old but I would have dismissed as lame kids crap when I was a kid) --

    The latest goings on of interest to classic style gamers are reported by Jame's in his weekly OSR News from The Underdark Gazette.

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    B2 Caves of Chaos Twelve Hour Marathon Part 2

    B2 Caves of Chaos Twelve Hour Marathon Recap Part 1, other B2 Caves of Chaos Posts.

    [I'm forgetting order of things and some details. I'm sure I'll get things wrong.  This player report is probably more accurate.  These recaps are more after-action analysis of my DMing, rules, scenario, props used than campaign dairy.]

    In Attendance:

    • Piss Pants the fighter, cousin of shit pants
    • Mundy Meatshield, a fighter.
    • Alex, token dwarve.
    • Starhawk! an elf, what else?
    • Blod thief of good spirit and bad luck, Soon replaced with Magnus a priestess of Marcuniess(sp?) Goddess of Metal and Healing.
    • Onedias the most marvelous magic-user, aka NPC caster.
    • Two wardogs "Gwar II" and "Sir Bitesalot", which were deadly but short lived.  Basically 100gp bazookas.
    • Various men-at-arms who's names and exploits will not be remembered

    Good Plan Lets Do It Again

    Again party heads to Caves of Chaos.  Again DM rolls a 1 on d6 indicating wilderness encounter.  This time I roll [one roll looked up on two encounter tables] vampire (inhabited) and orcs (mtns).  I go with orcs, cause fuck this marathon is called B2 The Caves of Chaos I don't want to spend 12 hours slaying the party with a vampire.  Looking up orcs on my very freaking handy LL monster cards (Thanks Jonathan Chappell!) which I put into my DM binder instead of cutting up into cards (crappy photo at right). I see that #Encountered is 2d4, I roll 6.  Then I roll Reaction (2d6) got neutral response.  Figuring these orcs came from the "Blue Line", one of two tribes in the Caves of Chaos, and were out here on the road looking for a caravan to raid not a 8-12 member strong band of good guys.  Knowing they'll likely be spotted they send out the red heart on white flag universal "Let us parley" sign.

    The party sends up two orc speakers. Pisspants and Starhawk an elf.  Who the orc "negociator" points at and says "Is that suppose to be an insult." Quickly thinking Pisspants looks angrily at elf and says "Stand back 10 feet." "Ah," orc says, "It is your slave, very nice.  We eat ours."  Short negotiations later, both parties agree to let the pass peaceably along with suggestion by Warich, the orc raiders leader, to seek out the "Blue Lines" chieftain, Muback if the party was sincere in their offer to aid the orcs in destroying their enemies. [Not even at the Caves and party is already trying to get the monsters fighting themselves.  BTW if they do this I award XP for monsters killed. Even if characters did not do the actual killing.  To my mind, getting "them" and "them" to fight each other doing your work for you is at least as deserving of reward/XP as risking your own neck.]

    The party wanders around Kobolds "Hedge Maze" for awhile mostly remembering to use 10' pole and avoiding the many pit traps.  They find the entrance and a small fight erupts.  But the group shows zero interest in screwing with Kobolds.  Choosing higher risk and more rewards and less flippin pit traps.  And also bringing a tear of joy to the DM's eye for picking up on that "old school" characteristic so quickly.  More wandering and the emerge into the caves proper. I read them Gygax's "boxed" text;
    The thick, twisted tree trunks, unnaturally misshapen limbs, writhing roots, clutching and grasping thorns and briars all seem to warn and ward you off, but you have hacked your way through regardless.  Now you have stepped out into a ravine like area.  The dark, streaked rock walls rise rather steeply to either side to a height of about 100' or so.  Clumps of trees grow here and there.  At varying heights on all sides of the ravine, you can see the black mouths of cave like openings.  The sunlight is dim, the air dank, there is an oppressive feeling here.  A flock of ravens rise croaking from the ground, the beat of their wings and their cries magnified by the terrain to sound loud and horrible.

    You know that you have certainly discovered the Caves of Chaos.

    Party makes straight for what they've been told is the "Blue Lines" cave.  Some failed negotiation, crossbow bolt to the chest of Hylas Amazonian men-at-arms, and a wandering monster roll (again!) later group decides, after much deliberation, to "take out" the Owlbear.  [Since negotiations were taking some time and party was hanging out of caves I rolled d6 a '1' indicating some activity related to one of the denizens of the CoC's. I rolled another die and counted cave entrances clockwise landing on the Great Horned Owlbear's cave.  And that is how we got to what happened next.]

    Party makes a fairly reasonable plan to kill the Owlbear with dogs and ranged weapons.  Being the single most feared creature I figured it was "smart" enough to have not fallen for standard tactics like that. Rather than become a pin-cushion it used forest and other covering terrain to approach as close as possible to it's dinner.  Emerging from the tree-line 1 round worth of charging away.  Onedias yells, "Wait! Hold fire for one round." and casts charm.  I felt bad having NPC take the "lead" pull out the ace.  But, that is what he'd do and I added him specifically to the party so they would have that ace.  Well one failed save and DM misinterpertation(lack of bothering to look up spell actually) later party has a third "dog".  Just this one has 5hd and 3 attacks.  Onedias yells his second line of the evening, "Now, now my friends we visit our friends the orcs!"

    Best marching order for entering orc cave;
    charmed Owlbear in front.
    Everyone else anywhere that is out of it's way.

    Orcs amazingly succeded the several moral checks I subjected them to as the party and Bear Owl slaughtered them.  Owlbear was killing about 1.5 per round but orcs using corridors to their advantage were able to get 4 attacks per round on it.  It got down to 1 orc (who yet again made is moral check, a 3 I think) and owlbear with 3 hitpoints.  That guy was gonna be a famous orc hero. It's porcine bust carved in marble or cast in bronze, sitting on the mantles of upper caste orcs from the Grimlok Sea to the Mushy Marshes.  Instead bear owl rolled it's to hit first and started munching on tasty orc.  That is when Magnus Priest of healing and metal (not good kind of metal) decided she had better finish owlbear off rather than risk charm breaking.  Since target was unawares and distracted I let her roll damage (automatic hit). She luckily rolled more than 3.  Would have been great time to roll on Death and Dismemberment table for owlbear.  But, alas, I had already decided that was not for monsters.

    Some playing hide and seek with a Otyugh (which I couldn't find in LL, not there? called something else?) and several forays to city to sell orc loot and owlbear eggs/loot and leveling. They decide to take on the baddest, scariest cave there is.
    "You find a hidden set of steps carved into the steep ravine.  Starting about 100 yards from the large cave entrance to either side of the path are skulls resting on tall polls.  As you get closer you can tell this is no cave but an entrance lined and faced with large granite blocks. Into which skulls and necromantic features have been carved. On the whole it appears very tomb or crypt like.  Standing before the entrance you smell the stench of death's decay.  Emanating from the black hole is an oppressive malevolence, weighing you down and testing your resolve."
    After that description and near universal men-at-arms moral check failures party decides to try the next cave over.  Minotaur yeah! Onedias (under player control this time) charms the Minotauress and if you read the Hackmaster B2 version of the minotaur lair you you know what a mistake that was.  Much handwaving of details later party rescues Onedias and slays the Minotaur.  After some DM prodding they even locate the secret stash of major loot; Staff of Curing, +2 platemail, potions, and lots of gold.

    Some Observations
    That I didn't work in elsewhere or need repeating.
    • Labyrinth Lord is fun!  I can see some peeps wanting more detailed, nailed down system for a long campaign (not me). But, for a pickup D&D game.  Nothing beats it.
    • Example of ruling not rule. Alex dives into pool in attempt to remove Grey Oooze, but ooze acid eats him to 0 hitpoints.  Alex rolls "knocked out" on Death and Dismemberment table.  So, I rule that getting into water did dislodge ooze, but unfortunately Alex is now face down in the water. Mundy wades through pool and hoists Alex onto his shoulders. Sadly (or comically depending on your sense of humor) another ooze had been moving that way and decides to drop.  So, I rule that 1-5 it drops on Alex (who is on Mundy's shoulders) and on a 6 it will drop on Mundy.  It falls on Alex and for pure comedic value (the players didn't see the funny in it though) I further rule that Mundy is unawares and wades back across the pool to safety. Cheering that he has saved Alex, setting him down only to see a Grey ooze where Alex's torso use to be.
    • Example of winging it. Magnus finds secret tunnel, leading to secret door, leading to bottom of 30' pit trap.  No one but he wants to open it. Rest of party go way back down the tunnel. I knew it wasn't trapped. But I didn't know what was down there beyond the traditional "skeleton of past adventurer".  Since player had shown initiative and taken risk I thought they deserved chance at reward.  Ask them to roll d4-1 and that was how many magic items they found.  Magnus rolled 4.  More really lucky random rolls later; A mace +1 +3 vs undead, scroll of protection from undead, boots of springing and leaping.
    • Example of winging it/rulings not rule: Frandor's keep has got to have black market.  For one shot I didn't figure out NPCs, what was available, etc. Instead when player looks for something I ask them for a d6-X roll, where X larger number for rarer items and that is how many they find. Most common item is potions, d6-2. Then roll randomly on potion table. If they ask for something specific, there's a 1 in 6 or 1 in 12 or 1 in (you get idea) chance that it is available.  Reaction isn't a factor in market, they want to sell, you want to buy, it's business. But buying from the church requires a Reaction roll and if it turns out poorly they will not sell to you (nor the rest of the party if they know you are associates)
    • I made the players booze and wench it up when ever they returned to Keep loaded with treasure. Every character rolls d6x10 (or larger die if they choose).  The sum of all dice rolls / number of characters is how much gold each must spend. One side benefit is this provides a +1 when rolling for hirelings.
    • A men-at-arms pulled her unconscious master from certain death by Grey Ooze.  I gave a 1 in 6 chance that such bravery elevated her to 1st level and henchman status.  She failed that roll and both her and master got dissolved by ooze shortly there after.
    • Here is a picture of a 3x5 card of things I always forget and want to be reminded of.  I never remember to look at card and still always forget these things.
    • I'm ok with the hands body (means use my hands and whole body when doing NPCs, monsters, etc) and enthusiasm. But can never have enough of that.
    • Mid-encounter description means part way through battle, take a pause and redescribe the scene.  Updated with blood and drama and tension.  "Blood glistens from Mubak's axe as he raises it to deal Mundy a final death blow."
    • 30 sec visualization pause, means before describing scene. Take 30sec to build up scene in my mind using all 5 senses before opening my mouth.  I'm way to frantic during play to ever do this, but I do it before play and sometimes remember it. Such as describing entrance to Temple of Chaos.
    • Slow, slow pacing description. Means I need to quit being such a frantic spaz, allow some slow parts, allow players to digest and plan. Remember to describe fully instead of rushing to next thing.

    Next B2 post will be on the maps I made.

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