Sunday, December 28, 2014

Simple DND

Came across this website. As its name suggests, it promises to simplify D&D, boiling down the Red Box to its very basic components for fun and easy play. I haven't had a chance to read through it all yet, but I like what I've seen so far and it really suits my idea of what classic roleplaying should be.

Conflagration Weed
At first glance, these strange lifeforms appear to be some form of aberrant, darkness dwelling plants. In actuality, they are closer related to sponges and coral. The organisms grow very slowly by leeching minerals from the rocks. They grow in long thin, branches that can be anywhere from 1cm to 1m long. At a certain point, the branch will begin to form a pod surrounded by sharp spikes. These pods are filled with the spores of the creatures. They are also filled with phosphorus and other chemicals, and when touched, the pods will explode, driving the spores into the nearby rocks.

While the pods are generally quite small, they will eventually fill a room. Even a small pod will do d4 (or equivalent damage), a room with thousands can easily become an exploding deathtrap. Delvers also sometimes call them Fireburs, Needleweed or Deathspores.

The Santaur

A little late for Christmas, but holy Krampus would this thing scare the crap out of the players during the annual Holiday themed adventure. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Sword and the Sorcerer, 1982

Taking a bit of a break through the Holidays, but I also had to work. Needless to say, it was rather dull so I entertained myself on my Boxing Day shift by watching The Sword and the Sorcerer, one of the now-classic fantasy films of the early eighties. Keeping in mind that "classic" doesn't necessarily mean 'good'. 
The film is pure cheese, but redeems itself primarily by not taking itself at all seriously. The hero, Talon is a complete rogue with a heart of gold and a truely remarkable head of hair. Played by Lee Horsley, Talon is the kind of angst-free, lighthearted hero that we don't see anymore, and maybe needs to make a comeback.   
Oh that hair!
He is the heir to a lost kingdom (of course) turned mercenary who agrees to fight the evil King Cromwell, not for the money, but for one night with the beautiful Princess Alana played by one of my personal favourites, Kathleen Beller.
Can you blame him?
Gamewise, there isn't much here except for the Sorcerer Xusi,played by the great, Richard Moll. Xusi would make a great model for a Big Bad; an ancient, evil Sorcerer King from some long forgotten race...
The funny part is that poor Xusi is completely extraneous to the plot. He is awakened from some sort of magical tomb by Cromwell at the beginning of the movie. In one of the better bits of fx, he lies sleeping in a blood-filled casket that appears to be made of living faces and likes to magically rip the heart out of people.

After using the sorcerer's magic to conquer a couple of kingdoms, Cromwell quickly decides that he doesn't need the potential competition and has Xusi stabbed and thrown off a cliff. This all takes place in about the first ten minutes of the film. Don't worry he gets better, but he doesn't appear again until the very end for the final showdown. That reveal, where he literally bursts out of his own skin is particularly good and gruesome.

That's the Sorcerer. The Sword part is even better. The hero Talon's legendary weapon is called the Tri-Sword which turns out, is exactly what it sounds like:
You can take my kingdom, but you will never touch my hair!
The two side blades can even be shot out of the sword like a crossbow quarrel, which is kinda awesome in a really cheesy way. Also, there is a long dagger hidden in the hilt. I think this thing would be a perfect fit for a certain style of Old School game.

Hair of the Hero
Certain wizards can style an adventurer's hair into a luxurious mane of manliness. This will provide a bonus to charisma and strength until the hair is cut.

This is a difficult weapon is difficult to master. Unless the welder is proficient, they will suffer a significant penalty to hit. Once proficient, the weapon does triple long sword damage! The side blades can be shot out to a range of 50' and will do short-sword damage when they strike their target. There is also a long dagger concealed in the hilt. Only one such sword is known to exist. It is magical and when struck against another magical sword, will produce cool light and sound effects. 

In  2010 they made a squeal (promised at the end of the 82 film) starring a pre-crazy Kevin Sorbo, which I'm going to have to track down just to see how it stacks up (not well by all accounts).
and finally, once again, Ms. Kathleen Beller:

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

DIE Alone: Arduin and the Howling Tower

I decieded to go even old-schooler with my next DIE Alone adventure and break out an old Arduin adventure: The Howling Tower.

Problem is, I know next to nothing about Arduin and a lot of the monsters listed are unique to the game. Luckily, others have done some of the work for me and I've found
Jeff's Game Blog
Fire in the Jungle
Hall of RPG Oddities
and I also found this in the Way Back Machine! 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Haunted Sword for Sale!

A family in Texas is selling their haunted heirloom for the low, low price of $150!
Buy it Today! 
That I desperately want this sword is a given. That the picture above is an unforgettable NPC just waiting to happen is also a given.

However, it has also gotten me started thinking about the idea of 'magic items'. Ever notice that no book character ever has more than one, yet every D&D character above level 3 is walking around with at least a magic weapon,  a suit of armour, maybe a ring or two and an extra large bottomless purse, just in case? Plus they can head down to the local temple or magic shop to pick up an extra potion or two, or maybe an enchanted koala because it that would be fun at parties.

This is the Loot aspect of the game, and I get it, collecting cool and powerful stuff is fun. It also reeks of Monty Haul* campaigning and video-game mentality neither of which I don't enjoy that much. As a result, I am going to skew DIE Alone away from magic items. Not sure of all the details yet, but I have now made it a hard rule that magic-items cannot be 'bought' in-town.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Nightmare Chair

The party opens a door to find a small room with only a single only a dusty chair, surrounded by nothing but old bones and dust... surely one of the tired adventurers will want to have a seat?

This cursed artifact was created by ancient Phobicnauts to draw forth the deepest and most terrifying fears of their victims. When seated in the chair, the victim will firmly believe that their greatest nightmare is unfolding in front of them. This nightmare rises in shadow form around the chair, and will torment them endlessly. Those not seated in the chair will only see a change in their companion, changing from sudden rigidness to powerful screams and thrashing, though no amount of conversation will persuade the person in the chair that the shadows are not real. Furthermore, touching bare skin with the victim may cause the would be rescuer to see fearsome shadows of their own.

The person seated in the chair can not, or will not willing stand up and will react with violence if forced. Destroying the chair has a 25% of doing severe physiological trauma to the person seated.

Caverns of Questemundo: Post Wrap

In Search of the Unknown is about as generic old-school as it gets. The dungeon has no logical
Our hosts, Rogain and Tadalafil in happier times.
design or layout except to mess with diligently mapping players; rooms have random effects and it was written a long time before 'dungeon ecology' was even a consideration. I framed the caverns as a B&B for two retired adventurers that failed when they tunneled into the 'Downlow' cavern complex. It added some fun, and even some context to things like the random taxidermy room ("The Sportsman Suite"), the Room of Pools ("A jacuzzi to suit every lifeform!"), the large kitchens and even the irritating opulence that usually turned out to be illusionary.  It was fun for a trial run, but I can't see myself breaking out the adventure again even for nostalgia's sake.

I'm happier with how the DIE Alone rules played out. My novice hero, Thakko even came close to death twice; once saved by the use of his BS Point to re-roll a damage that would have killed him, and secondly when he avoided become a zombie on a lucky roll. He returned to Onderdunk twice more to be Healed at the Temple and stock up on Prescription Leeches.

My next step is going to be to write down the stats of the monsters encountered so far into a file so that it is consistent in further adventures. 
Taking an idea that I am unabashedly stealing from Sooga Games marvelous game, Into the Odd, I am basing DIE Alone experience on Quests Completed. Individual achievements in-game are rewarded with BS points, but only a successfully Completed (or survived) Quest awards the player with a point that can be added anywhere on the Hero's Sheet. I am also going to try another idea for Skill rolls.

Once I've drawn up some fresh Things to Kill and fleshed out items available for purchase, Thakko's next challenge is going to be Arduin Dungeon #2, the Howling Tower