Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dolmenwood Gypsy Encounter

For those who want to add a cliche forest road encounter for their Dolmenwood Campaign I present to you the Gypsy Wagon

Encounter Results

Gypsy Wagons: Either encountered making their way, or pulled up in camp the Gypsy Wagon is a hodgepodge of useful and baneful encounters. If the PC's ignore the Gypsy Wagon they will be unmolested. If the PC's stop to talk with the Gypsies they will be shown to the Matriarch of the caravan. She will offer any assistance her meager train may offer; provisions, information, first aid for the injured. All she asks is to pick a card from her deck of fortunes. This request will be made after assistance has been rendered and much feasting and dancing has been had in the camp. Grab a deck of normal playing cards and pull one. While only one card is being pulled the set up should be of an elaborate fortune telling reading within a heavily curtained wagon. Lighted candles and cheesy effects will give the Matriarch the appearance of a typical entertainer, but her readings do have power. Have one of the PC's pull a card while you hold the deck and snicker. Regardless of suit read the description for the matching numbered card. After much shuffling of books and papers, state;

Ace: “Happiness and joy are for those who sleep. Your journey will leave you dead and alone.” The PC's are encouraged to spend the night with the Gypsy caravan. If they do each character will be visited by strange dreams while slumbering. These will leave the characters uneasy with feelings of dread in the morning which are hard to shake. From now on the Matriarch will have a sense of the character's well being while in Dolmenwood. When out in the wilderness and the party is in distress she will dispatch woodland animals once which would be appropriate to provide some form of immediate aid.
Deuce: “Beware treachery, especially from those you trust.” Moving forward in the campaign every time the party gets a favorable reaction roll from NPC's there is a 15% chance the NPC is actually playing the Party false and will attempt to deceive, rob, capture or kill members of the Party. Once they are betrayed the curse is broken.
Three: “The future is pregnant with disaster.” For the next three days the Party will have a daily encounter which will go poorly or poses some kind of threat.
Four: “Act swiftly or all is lost.” Upon hearing this fortune if the PC's immediately press on they will encounter someone who will be able to provide aid and/or useful information on their current adventure. If not, if the Party actually stays the night with the gypsies they will awaken with the camp having moved on. Besides not waking to the departing camp the party as a whole is light 50% of their hard currency or foodstuffs.
Five: “Unify, even with your enemy, or all is lost.” The next encounter which requires a reaction roll if the one who drew this card is present than the reaction will at least be favorable.
Six: “You cannot afford the luxury of trust.” The next time the PC's ask someone an important question (not a gypsy) and are told the truth the one who drew this card is sure they are lying.
Seven: “Reckless abandon and chaos are your only friends.” The next time the PC's flee an encounter the one who drew this card will not be caught.
Eight: “Search deep beyond the meaning of oaths, even if it means torn hearts pulsating in your blood stained hands.” The first time the PC's are lied to the one who drew this card will know it.
Nine: “If you wish it, it will come. If not now, then you must take it by force.” When the PC's first encounter treasure or receive a reward for deeds done they will receive an additional 100 pieces of gold.
Ten: “War! You will witness the devastation of armed conflict.” The next time the PC's are in a walled settlement it will fall under siege by whatever appropriate force makes sense to you.
Jack: “Do not temper lust, lay waste.” The next time the PC who drew the card is in a tavern they get wildly drunk and must roll on the “Carousing Mishap” table of your choice.
Queen: “For the future be clouded, trust that blood will flow.” For several nights hence a werewolf will stalk the party. While the first two nights are black with dark clouds on the third night the sky will clear pregnant with a heavy, full moon. Then the night beast will attack. If the PC's are not alone than who the werewolf attacks needs to be rolled randomly. If the PC's are indoors or underground they should be able to avoid the beast's rampage. The darkened two nights prior will give the PC's an opportunity to notice they are being stalked if they are keeping a sharp watch.
King: “Faith in the old gods is misplaced. Ruthlessly stamp out heresy.” The next time anyone of the Party present at the reading encounters a Cleric they will be accused of being dangerous blasphemers of the one true faith and will be driven from the holy person's sight.
Joker: “Disguise yourself from you kin, they seek to pull you down.” One time a PC will not be recognized by an enemy seeking them out. The PC will have to be present at the card reading to have a chance of being unrecognized in the future. This will apply to all PC's present but a PC can only benefit from this effect once.
Advertisement: Random roll (1D10) from the 1e DMG random encounter chart page 174.
1 is a Dungeon Encounter,
2 is a Underwater Encounter,
3 is an Astral & Ethereal Encounter,
4 is Psionic Encounter,
5-10 is an Outdoor Encounter.
Yeah, I know, how the fuck do I do an Underwater Encounter on a woodland road? I leave you to your imagination. Besides this table entry is useless without the DMG so you might have to just make it up anyways.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Western USR review sort of...

I actually took down my various PDF's for USR as I thought they all needed some heavy editing and didn't want someone to pay for a set of rules which didn't work.

But Western USR does work. Sure it need some polish. +Andrew Domino has recently discovered the awesomeness of USR and has delivered many useful blog posts on how to create different characters and campaigns with this universal system. He commented on my interpretation of Westerns with my Western USR rules set. Seems he liked my addition of a Speed attribute to the standard attributes listed in the game.

Besides the fact he interpreted the rules wrong in comparison to the speed of a knife versus gun, I am immensely pleased with more looks and critiques on how I use +Scott Malthouse 's lovely set of minimel rules mechanics.

I created Western USR with TSR's Boot Hill 1st edition in my hands. Speed was about the only thing out of the TSR rules I took away which needed to be captured. When mere humans meet hot lead who shoots first is all that matters. I'm finding more and more detailed tactical scenarios do not add to the game. As long as I can answer the question of how far away the target is I think players fill in the rest of the details on the combat environment. Players like to try and control the combat turn to their favor obviously. I like to try and rush combat events so as to make players feel out of control what happens next when the guns and blades come out. With Western USR I tried to construct the combat rules so instant death happens when cool heads do not prevail.

Try the game out and let me know what you think.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Gathox Vertical Slum Gang Generator

Once again I am playing around with Logan Knight's Choose Your Own Generator  java tool and fashioned the random tables in Gathox Vertical Slum to provide an instant Gathox Gang Generator!

Here is a link to the text documents I used so you can create your own bookmark link that will spit out your own instantly random Gathox gang:

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Big Black Book of Sorcery is being drafted

Most likely the next POD publication from Vanishing Tower Press in 2018 will be The Big Black Book of Sorcery. So far the draft is indicating a 72 to 96 page softcover 8.5" x 11"  publication with sixty two new items of magic; whether they be magical items, terrible incantations, or demons of the void. What they all provide is mind blasting, soul seering sorcery for your USR Sword & Sorcery world!

The art in this book will be more of the royalty free line art which has graced the two other USR Sword & Sorcery publications. The contents of this book will not be included in the upcoming Deluxe USR Sword & Sorcery. This book is its own thing and will try and further my vision for USR Sword & Sorcery gaming. I'm laying it out as I write out the specific spell details and mechanics. I don't have any set process so each one of these books comes out with their own amateurish look and hopefully one day will be purchased in a discount bin of obscure role playing games by some exploring gamer with next to no money in their pocket.  

Sunday, December 31, 2017

USR Sword & Sorcery Deluxe has an Editor!

Taking the recommendation of successful DIY producers I have engaged the services of an editor for my next POD publication. It makes eminent sense to provide a clean text document competently polished by an experienced hand before evocative art is committed to a final product.

+Jens D. the creator of Monkey Business, a procedural junglecrawl, and The Disorientated Ranger blog has agreed to throw his prodigious talent behind USR Sword & Sorcery Deluxe for a princely sum therefore guaranteeing a usable, coherent, free-wheeling rules set for fantastic pulp-fantasy adventure!

Consider this an art-free version of a USR Sword & Sorcery game complete with new adventures, genre-specific magic system, bestiary, seafaring and mass combat rules. Everything a Crypt Keeper will need to start their own USR Sword & Sorcery campaign world.

Essentially USR Sword & Sorcery Deluxe will be the core rules and Horrors Material & Magic Malignant put together along with new adventure content and mass combat rules suitable for role playing pulp fantasy engagements; whether on land or sea.

Release date is set for August 2018 and if there is enough interest in the book I will commission original black and white line art appropriate for the genre.

So 2018 is a year to improve the presentation of USR Sword & Sorcery along with including more grisly adventures. More like it, get a core book I can be really happy about so I can stop fussing and move on to more adventure writing!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

2017 Renaissance Campaign in Review

The shared campaign notes document is four pages long now. Player generated session reports are over 64,000 words. The campaign since it started covers five weeks of activity. This has taken 22 months of gaming with a live session every other week. Sometimes a month can go by without a game happening because of life. Either way the players have covered much ground and there has never been a let up on the action. The group of four core players is down to three with a fourth able to play infrequently. Sometimes we have five. There has been a total of three PC deaths, countless of NPC's of course.

The second year of BRP Cthulhu & Chivalry opened with the PC's trying to unlock the secrets of Constine Mallebench and ended with plans to storm a tavern to apprehend an alien god.

Here are the top five highlights of this year's action from your Keeper's perspective:

#5. Taking Advantage of Norton Manor: With the Senior Norton chasing his fancy back to Keswick and the Dr.'s bedridden mother laying close to catatonic the rest of the PC's did not let the Norton's crumbling fortunes deter them from enjoying the upscale digs. After the trail of gore and horror just endured, and more danger sure to be faced, the PC's counted a quiet evening at home a win. While typical wisecracks of using the “#1 Son” coffee mug, scraping blood and brains off their boots, using the monogrammed robes carried round the table made for memorable levity it was the indicated small release of tension among the Players which was most gratifying. This meant the game wasn't stale and there were still many more good adventures left in the campaign.

#4: To Kill A Mime: I love collateral damage. I like supers roleplaying for the implications of collateral damage at scale. Our Cthulhu & Chivalry world is but a background of literal collateral damage. War, famine, plague terrorize civilians country wide. Chaos and confusion are the order of the day. So it takes something exceptional to happen to make me notice any one death among many. Or just mimes. Are they the gnomes of seventeenth century alt-history gaming? When the PC's survived a street ambush and the smoke cleared we had mimes bleeding out and dying. The PC's promptly ignored their suffering and looked to the well being of other wounded bystanders forever establishing if “Street Entertainers” are rolled up for an encounter and they end up getting shot make them mimes if you want to hurry things along. My point is, what I find important about this bit of gaming goodness was that it was a procedurelly generated event. I enjoy being a game master because I get to world build and constantly pose the question of “What if… ?” to myself in fantastical context. But much of my enjoyment also comes from letting the PC's actions dictate what will be. Taking the great information being shared here in the Google+ OSR I've learned to use random tables for oh just about everything now. Name generators, encounter tables, reaction results. Published and homemade. Injecting random stuff and trusting the PC's will make something of it has been a real big learn for me. It gives me enthusiasm to muster more “stuff” for the PC's to do because I know each session is going to have as much surprise for myself as the players.

#3: Dr. Norton's Yarmouth Chronicles: I know it isn't great literature but the continued writings of the PC's of their trials not only is a fun read, but preserves vital world info I would otherwise forget. The in-game time has only been a month and a half. The voluminous testimony of events as they occurred reveals how chock full of “stuff” we cluttered the campaign with. Items or incidents which were thought of as bits of color now may be the source of entire adventure arcs. I'm sure our group has a better game as a result of these records.

#2: Inky Pete at the Asylum: Another randomly generated encounter which provided much more game than expected. Taking a cue once again from information and tips shared online I have a much better approach to making my own encounter tables. It basically boils down to a simple question; “If I roll it do I want to run it?” There goes all sorts of “normal” encounters I might reflexively generate for a game, or use from a published supplement. When I create a random encounter table for a session I now trust whatever comes up is going to be fun for myself as well as the players. If I don't want the PC's to encounter wolves in the woods don't put them on the random encounter table! And I don't mean every random encounter is pregnant with meaning or significance, but the idea is it is worth talking about and gives players “stuff” to do. This is a good place to point out how often I use Vornheim: The Complete City Kit. I did not know how to run urban adventures, at least to my liking. This book not only has content I find interesting and useful, the whole structure of the book is instructive on how I can make the same. This means Vornheim is probably the first truly “universal” game supplement I've used fulfilling on the promise.

#1: The Badger's Drift Bear Trap: Simple, effective and truly inspired from the roots of my early OSR upbringing. What I enjoyed most about this encounter was how ordinary items produced a harrowing, memorable danger. As any good accident points out it isn't just one thing that gets you. It is the layering of consequences from seemingly minor threats which begin to spell d-o-o-m in player's mind. When you can pull it off it is justly earned referee glory. Fantasy games accent the fantastical. So much so actually frightening your players can seem nigh impossible. The feeling of discomfort and disfunction sometimes has to be mechanically enforced on players because of the distance created by the game's fictional devices. Call of Cthulhu being an obvious, and successful, use of mechanically enforced fear. Therefore with the PC's unbalanced by a simple trap hidden in the snow and simple woodland animals (Yes, now wolves are interesting!) an ordinary skirmish quickly rose to deadly stakes at the same time confounding expectations.

There are many more, but I want to limit myself to just a few events which were a direct result of all the tips learned here on Google+ and the OSR online community. As the group closes out another year of entertainment I promise there is much more to come because there is so much more to come from the DIY OSR creators!