Monday, April 30, 2012

From Hell's Legion: The Daughters of the Goat

Vladmir felt guilty, and a little ashamed,  but the wine in his belly gave him fresh confidence as he made his way through the dark woods.  He had already lost one boot to the deep mud that surrounded his village every autumn.  He trudged to the same grove he had found on midsummer, looking for her.
    There she was, laying on a bed of moss, eating wild grapes and honeycomb, a pale beam of moonlight illuminating her naked form "Welcome back Vladmir"
   "I need to stop coming here, I am not tending to my fields, winter is coming" he stuttered as he fumbled with his clothes.  "Don't fret about such things" she cooed "You can stay in the forest with me,  I have all the food I need and more".
     "I have children to feed lovely one, and a wife to care for" though he did not stop disrobing.
     "Then fix that,  they seem to only bring you sadness" a suddenly serious tone in her voice.  Some fire raged still in Vladmir's belly as he struck her viciously,  but she did not so much as defend herself.   Two more vixens moved into the grove and began to massage his neck and shoulders  "Do not be so submissive to some crone who tricked you into marriage,  come be a real man,  come stay with us, be our master...".   He had been drinking heavily for weeks,  the whole town had.  They were all going to starve this winter anyway as the harvest was rotting on the fields.  "I'll be a free man tomorrow,  then I'll run away with you all". 
   Technically the vixen was honest,  but she didn't need any food at all. A  few grapes did not survive Vladmir the winter. 

  If one is going to be damned to all eternity, Bacchus certainly seems a fine choice to the young and the foolish.  His daughters prowl the wilderness, looking for the stupid and regretful to tempt.  At first the appearance of the Daughters of the Goat may appear a boon to a less devout community.  Wine and other intoxicants will seem to last far longer than they should.  Flasks will refill themselves slowly without being opened over the course of a few days.  Pouches of herbs will slowly overflow.  Eventually mugs of mead and horns of wine will simply begin to appear whenever one isn't looking. People will be filled with mirth and sloth, and very little work will actually get done.  This alone will infuriate local lords, and come winter, be the death of the community.
   Worse still, the Daughters themselves are not content to simply help the townsfolk blow off steam,  they desire souls as sure as any demon.  They are forbidden from violence, unable to strike back to defend themselves.  They are forced to simply dance while their whole band is slaughtered.  So to achieve their ends,  they must extract deals from those less pious individuals who are found wanting.  They will ask for increasing levels of evil in exchange for their company, and sadly, their wishes are usually granted.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

From Hell's Legion: The Brides of Tezcatlipoca

    Centehua swung his club blindly in an adrenal fueled haze.  He felt it connect with a wet crunch into the side of the large beast that had bowled him over.  The creature leaped backwards, its claws removing most of Centehua's woven cotton armour in the process, leaving only tattered scraps covering his bruised chest.
     Centehua could see the creature they had been tracking these last two days clearly against the flickering campfire. The creature that had dragged three pregnant women from their homes in the dead of night, it seemed at first glance to be but a great jaguar.  Something was wrong with its face however, despite the vicious wound Centehua had delivered to its brow,  he could see something was wrong with its face.  Its one remaining eye was a smoldering ember of coal;  its maw dripped a constant stream of blood that evaporated into steam upon touching the earth.  As Centehua stared at this beast, he heard a slight rustle in the bushes behind him.  Centehua was shoved out of the way as his old friend Chimalli rushed to his aid,  taking his place in the shredding claws of this second great jaguar.  Centehua, in a moment of clarity struck out once quickly the injured Jaguar as it lurched towards him.  Inside the blur of a split second his legs were bleeding and one of the jaguars was wheezing in heap, blood pouring from its stove in skull.  As he leaned his back against the rough bark of a damp tree, facing the second beast, he called out to his companions 'Acamapichtli! Shoot her now!'
   But Acamapichtli's courage did not hold, and he fled into the night.  Atl followed a second later, his bow discarded by the now dimming camp fire. As Centehua prepared to journey to Mictlan with Chimalli, he saw the broken bones and bloodied flesh of the injured jaguar knit and heal before his eyes.  All of this had been for naught.

    Tezcatlipoca is a demon god of terror,  lord of the night and patron of sorcerers.  By night, his brides stalk the darkness as jaguars of unnatural size; by day they do not exist in the physical world at all.  Their maws drip with the blood of Tezcatlipoca, a potent mystic poison against those who exemplify the light of order and civilization; Their eyes burn with dark magics enabling them to truly see people as they really are; to know what beats in their heart.  The brides feed on terror and cowardice. They maim or kill the weakest and most beloved in communities to inspire panic, aided by a supernatural musk they seem to exude. When warriors march out to hunt them, they may find the hearts of their companions falter.  Those who allow any fear into their heart will find they cannot control themselves when their courage is called to the test. This plague upon the morale of soldiers make an infestation of the Brides a great worry to kings and warlords. Those without fear, who often seem to be amoral treasure hunters with no true concept of danger, are the greatest nemesis to the Brides as they can only be harmed by those without fear.  The high priests warn not to bring cowards with you however,  as the brides will heal and rejuvenate upon the sweet aroma of terror. Rarely will brides hunt alone, but it is known that only seven will exist at any one time, and rarely all in the same location.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

From Hell's Legion: The Apes of Wrath

    The howling was getting closer,  but they didn't have time to pause as they moved through the burning forest, cedar twigs snapping against their soot covered faces.  The riot had started during the autumn dance and got out of hand when Tobias spilled his drink on Jedediah's shoes.  Somehow, a fire started in the rafters a few seconds after the first punch.  
     The riot and its accompanying fire had already spread to the church by the time the howling monstrosities clambered over the walls.  They attacked at random,  screeching howling beasts wielding weapons but biting faces and gouging eyes at the earliest opportunity.    Perhaps they could have been repulsed,  but everyone had been too busy settling old grudges and assigning blame to form a defense. 
     Now the two of them were the last remnants of the town, running through the woods. 'I had heard of beast's like these, a travelling adventurer told of the Barbary apes of the Moorish lands.' Jonah spoke in a barely audible whisper, his eyes glazed over as his mind focused back to the horror he had witnessed in his final minutes in the burning embers of his hometown. 'More like..Barbarian Apes! right Jonah?' Samson spoke with a mischievous twinkle in his eye and a slight grin.  Jonah did not turn around in time to see this however.  The sound of his grip tightening upon his shovel seemed to echo in a silence that didn't truly exist.  The screams of Samson were quickly drowned out by the howls of the fast approaching horde of apes.

The Apes of Wrath, a fast moving troupe of pure rage.  These demons often take the form of apes or baboons and roam about the country side as a small army, armed with melee weapons, an immunity to flames, and an utter lack of mercy.  This is surely an irritant to local nobles,  but not much worse than bandits.  The true danger with this troupe is the influence they exert on the denizens of their region.  Tempers tend to easily flair, simple bumps on the street can lead to fatal duels among aging grandmothers.  People's first reactions to strangers tends to be far worse than normal.  When violence breaks out,  fires seem to break out in tandem.  The combination leads to a death spiral among settlements.

Friday, April 27, 2012

From Hell's Legion: The Wave of Despair

Dorvich used to be such a happy town.  The old mill would listlesly spin in the gentle breeze as the sun shone on the sprawling meadows, until the mill caught fire along with the granary.  The bubbling brook would be full of children playing and singing , back before the Jutner twins drowned in that tragic accident. The town burgomeister used to hold festivals and celebrations during the spring to celebrate the warming weather, but given his recent hanging when unmentionables belonging to the lost baker's wife were found bloodstained in his home such celebrations would seem out of place.  And now,  poor Gorman had just had to kill his own dog.  The creature had become unsettled lately, barking for no reason, howling at night.  But when three chickens were murdered, their bloody feathers strewn about the straw mat by the porch where Bodin liked to sleep.  Gorman knew what must be done,  the look in poor Bodin's eyes as Gorman swung the axe.  Gorman drank heavily from his flask of mead and clutched his balding head in his hands, wisps of graying hair pinched between white knuckles as Gorman seethed in frustration before settling in resignation.

Behind him, emerging from behind clay pots and straw filled cracks in the aging walls were dozens of tiny grinning faces.

       Scholars and theologians call it "The wave of despair", as if it were some tidal wave breaking down on an unfortunate community.  But this is no formless wave of malaise that crashes across the land,  but rather a swarm of demonic imps.  These imps take form as rodents of unusual size,  no bigger than a man's thumb.  While they may look like no more than a swarm of hundreds of thousands of tiny rats, they are in fact far, far worse.  These creatures of pure malignancy have minds with all the wickedness and cruelty any man has ever been able to muster and more; their tiny paws are unusually dexterous and nimble, able to work fine machines and construct elaborate traps which look like mere unfortunate circumstances.
        It is unknown how they form,  but it is known they place a great value on tears of sadness and despair; tales tell of infernal bargains made with the creatures and of unscrupulous village reeves selling off their villages for dark powers.  It is said the only defense against the creatures is happiness.  Should the creatures ever come within line of sight of a truly happy person they will turn to dust. To trick them with tears of joy is said to wipe out entire colonies.  Thus the church advises that no matter how terrible your life may be,  no matter how much you may seem to toil..that one should always be happy, and to remember that not being happy will only empower these creatures to threaten your neighbour.  The church recommends that townsfolk who hear their neighbours complaining too much should report them for the good of the community.

From Hell's Legion: Mad Monks of the Limus Orthodoxy

The whole village was sick.  Men and women, children and the elderly, all laying down to avoid exertion.  Confused family dogs roaming about and whining in distress over their masters.  The hunger was unbearable,  but nothing seemed to sustain them.  They had gorged through their winter's stores, eaten the seed for spring.  They still had wasted away as if they had not eaten at all,  nothing so much as a momentary lull in the hunger, not one extra ounce of fat.  The air was quiet but for the odd sob, broken occasionally by a frustrated scream of anguish.
   Then came the laughing,  the maniacal laughing.  Someone was about to end themselves again,  how would this one go?  There was no strength for rope work any longer.  The answer came a few minutes later,  just enough strength to open his wrists.  The madness had set in deeper at this point, in a frenzied wail one of his neighbours sunk as low as to gnaw upon his still warm flesh.  Even in their state the townsfolk could show disgust, at least until those words were echoed from that blood stained mouth, dripping with skin and hair and dropping bits of flesh.. 'It is filling!'

Limu,  the demon princess of hunger. A dark mockery of the eastern saints,  her priests wear but simple sackcloth robes, drawn tight with bits of frayed rope.   Each one an emaciated wreck of a human being,  often they are mistaken for the undead,  but these poor souls are still living in body if not in spirit.  While the mad monks themselves are not terribly difficult to overcome,  they are incredibly dangerous.  When they enter a region, food will not sustain nor sate hunger in any way among the men and other humanoid creatures.  Only the flesh of other thinking beings will sate their hunger, turning the region into either a graveyard or a den of ravenous ghouls.  They will lurk in dark forests or hidden crags and chant their dark praises from their unwilling lips, a mockery of the religious rites of righteous knights who foolishly hunt them. While they will defend themselves with crook and staff,  stone and sling... slaying them is a terrible fate.  Those who spill the blood of a mad monk, will be cursed to always both feel the hunger of Limu and cause it in others, even if all monks are slain. The madness often drives the former heroes to become the next monks.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

From Hell's Legion: The Bloodied One

"You have brought me the coins, good...goooood... hand them to me now."

"My,  what soft hands you have.  Would that I had a pair of gloves as soft as this"

Just on the edges of human civilization,  exists a dark parasite feeding off the greed and malevolence humanity seems to exude despite it's best efforts.  Lingering near demonic ruins one may find a robed figure, clad in the finest embroidered white silks.  The embroidery is of tiny red droplets, leading to the figures description as the bloodied one.

Should one remove the figure's cowl they would see it is clearly undead; a silvered skeleton and ruby eyes may suggest a Knight of Mammon,  but this is no sword wielding warrior.  Should this creature be enraged it will reveal its true form and unleash its 6 skeletal limbs in a flesh rending fury, or disgorge a massive swarm of golden mechanical bees from its maw.  The creature is rumoured to have been seen in command of Xvarts, often securing captives for unknown purposes.

No one knows exactly what the being wants,  only that it is a reluctant servant of Mammon at best and seems very interested in any strange coins or jewelry adventurers may possess.  Priests of Mammon will make 'Control Undead' attempts against the Bloodied one as if they were 3 levels higher. Slaying the creature seems to have no effect, it seems to simply reform by the next full moon.  The only known defense against the creature seems to be a coin of St.Philip,  the creature seems unable to harm a person carrying such a coin.

From Hell's Legions: Mammon's Knights

 Silas crumpled the note and threw it in the fireplace.  Three weeks ago he had found a note on his horse's saddle promising a great sum of gold when a village elder died.  The elder had contracted the plague some weeks ago, and passed shortly after Silas had received the note.  The next morning his saddle bags were full of gold.

Silas had paid down some of his debts, and spent some on repairs to his family manor,  and the next day he received another note.  When one of his second cousins died he would receive another great sum.  His cousin was at war with the Northern Tribes, and news came in several days later of his cousin's death.  Once again, his saddle bags were full of gold.  Further repairs were costing him an arm and a leg from those price fixing artisans in town, and he took out an additional lone to improve his manor, buy a new horse and have a small celebration.  The next morning he found another note, when his friend Bartan passed he would receive an even more enormous sum of wealth.   But several weeks had passed,  Bartan was chipper and happy.  Healthy as an ox.  

'Bartan' Silas hissed.   He lay there asleep from too much wine on the couch.  'Drinking my wine, sleeping upon my couch...' Silas scowled as he thought on the ingratitude he suffered at the hands of this Bartan. 'And you feel this is owed to you don't you? Because you saved my life once so many years ago? Because you gave me wealth a few times to pay debts...' Silas felt his belly fill with a self righteous hate and he knew what he would do.  'Well then you shall help me pay off one more debt' 

The Knights of Mammon are the souls of the damned, brought low by pure greed. Each one is a trained warrior,  increasing in level as they ply their evil on the realms of the living.

A Knight of Mammon will take the form of a silver skeleton wielding a finely made weapon.  As they gain experience and levels,  their form will become more ostentatious.  Their teeth will become gold,  giant rubies will adorn their eyes.  Their weapon will be plated in  the finest silvers, adorned with pearls.  Suits of golden mail,   gem studded helms and shields.  This is not their true power however.

When a Knight of Mammon haunts an area, the nearby townsfolk will be overcome with feelings of greed.   Prices of goods will double,  prices offered will halve.  People will become miserly and selfish.  What is more,  the Knight will sneak about in the witching hour,  attempting to coerce the vulnerable into greater depravity through greed.

When the Knight has found an exemplar of greed,  they will slay them with their blade.  The flesh will quickly rot off the individual, puddling into golden blobs that in turn form into coins bearing the mark of Mammon.  The skeleton will turn to silver under the next full moon, and the damned soul will rise as a new Knight of Mammon. As most PC's are motivated strongly by greed,  most of those slain by a Knight of Mammon will suffer the same fate (unless they are fleeing when slain, in which case they still value their life more than wealth).

Should a knight be slain,  his body and equipment is worth 1 gold coin per point of experience the knight has earned,  plus 100 gold for their skeleton (if melted) and sword as a base.  However,  this treasure will slowly seek to escape from the players as soon as they aren't looking.  A gem falling out of a sword here, a coin rolling out of a pouch there..   Slowly but surely the knight will reform.

The only way to slay the knight permanently is to smelt the weapon and all treasure on holy ground and cast bless upon it.  Few take this option, as the weapon will count as a +1 weapon for every 2 levels of the knight (or part thereof).  Few are willing to destroy such a powerful weapon alongside such vast wealth.

Monsters on the Loose: Escape from the Hellmouth

So my "Blight of the Khazars" ConstantCon game has ended,  the portal to hell was opened and legions of the damned spilled out under the watchful eyes of a giant 8 headed snake.

But some of the more colourful monsters from the local dungeon are now free to wander around into other games.  So I'll be posting a different monster write up every day in case some Flailsnails GM wants to have some wandering monsters infest their campaign for awhile.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In which I gauge interest in a new printing of Neoclassical Geek Revival

So I am getting to the stage where I am down to mostly layout for the next printing, rewording clunky sections and adding spaces to make things look better.   That kind of chestnut.

So I thought I should check on who has interest in a hard cover copy?  The price would probably still hover around $30 CDN for materials plus shipping.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Journal of Abraham Nermal: Everyone else is a giant mooch

So good, honest, hard working Abraham was taking a thoroughly innocent and unsuspicious morning constitutional through the woods with his shovel and rope when lo and behold..  ungrateful adventurers came by.  Abraham was just going to sneak past,  but then Frederick said hello and Abraham does have a hard time saying no to tha ole charmer.

Up to the Abbey we go,  they babble about... one of them was looking at my boots.  They wanted to go back to the North Tower,  where I won my cards the week before.  The hatch was shut again, warped again.  I think the doors are alive.  It must be dull to be a door.   Sure enough,  no one else brought rope.   Its all up to Abraham...again.

Down we delved into places deep, into the place of bad things and worse ends.  The door to the base of the stair would not budge,  no matter how the brave adventurers scowled or heaved or huffed.   Abraham used his universal lockpick.  The door opened and bled mauve blood..the same goop from the vines.  The doors are evil.  In we explored, looking at the rotting corpses of the horrid cultists, sprawled about the table.   The oil Abraham threw past the alcove was still there.  The shields and axes were gone.

One of the fools wandered into the alcove, stood in the oil, looked about, left.  Set fire to the oil.  Big blaze on the stones,  Abraham thinks that is dangerous. So much fire, what if the stone children awaken?   Worse the flickering light brought things. Abraham was too smart for those foolish adventurers, Abraham hid under the table while they shot bows and braced spears and these howling shrieking monsters in the shape of dead man, clad in dead mail came scrambling with their dead fury.  Then Abraham did something stupid, tried to help.  Tried to hook the dead man's foot with a crowbar from under the table.  Abraham tripped and rolled out into the hall, surrounded by the dead.  Abraham nearly joined them,  they clawed at his throat,  one of them swung his crumbling iron sword and cut Abraham's head.
      The fancy lad then saved Abraham,  there was a great crash as he rolled the table into those hideous things,  breaking their fragile bones to dust.  He's a doctor,  he stitched my cuts. He was quite masterful..master...ful...
      We kept looking about,  found a shrine to St. Augustin or was it Augustus? He was an emporer, he's very important to the church.  There was a pool of green water,  no one wanted to drink any..everyone wanted someone to drink lots.  Past that was another room,  full of stools and a podium, and broken frescos.   Abraham took a stool as a sample.  There was a great book full of text and pictures.  Even if Abraham knew all the letters,  many were hidden by blood and ..other things.  Abraham put the book in his sack.

    There were more things about, another's reliquary was looted.  Abraham was puzzling with the shrine while the others went ahead.  A spear was thrown,  Frederick cried out.   Abraham looked over and saw dozens and dozens of filthy rat men, small things, climbing over poor Frederick.  Abraham liked Frederick,  so I had to saves him.  Poor Frederick, laying there on his back,  swarmed by rat things,  his gaping maw exposed.  Abraham threw his grappling hook I dids,   hooked 'im right in tha gum,  dragged his slimy hide back to safety,  free of the screaming rat things.   Then the fancy man,  with the fancy language,  he chanted something and the rat things went to sleep, he is a master of such things.

  We killed almost all the things, we saw the hall they came from.  A big pool of fetid black water.  The other way was a set of doors.  Abraham listened at the door, heard 'Caw..Caw'.  Awful rats,  those awful awful rats.  They would try and eat poor Abraham's beautiful, beautiful eyes.  Then Abraham's noggin got thinkin...  they loves eyeballs.  These rat folk has eyeballs.  We poured oil in front of the door, started soaking the eyeballs in the green water of St.Augusto. Then we heards it.  A sickening slapping noise, like an unconscious call girl against marble stairs.  We dimmed our lanterns and tried to hide,  people got lost...wandered about.   Abraham went to find them with a dim candle...saw those yes, those read gleaming eyes   , Abraham lit the oil trail...set the trap for those Awful Rats ablaze in a flickering glow of raging fire he saw many of them,  more than both hands...  great flapping , living , bleeding piles of man mean animated without bone or soul, wailing in rage.   Abraham fled out,  others followed.  We waited outside by the tower for some time.   Abraham thought we should go,  but back we went.

Deep into that horrid place we went,  trails of blood everywhere.  But the eyeballs were still in the pool.  Greedy we were,  more oil,  the stool was placed in the center of a great pool of it.  Eyeballs in a great mound, a trail of eyes leading to the door and a trail of oil leading to us.  We used Abraham's grapnel and rope, as we always do, because no one else every contributes supplies because they are mooches.  We tugged on the door and pulled its stuck frame open.  Out scurried the rats,  several dozen in a swarming mass as they swarmed along the trail and gorged on the feast of eyes.   As they did so they began to grow larger and turn green.   Abraham set fire to them,  they exploded.   As the fire dimmed we entered into their room.  Full of straw and bits of cloth.  Abraham rooted through it, found many shiny bobbles, rings of gold,  silver broaches, many things, many many things.  We went into its neighbour room,  it had already been destroyed,  it was also growing still.  The next door had blood trails.. we didn't go in that door.

The black pool was mocking us.  Abraham had to use his spear (always Abraham's things at risk) to prod the pool, there were things down there, things giving resistance.  It was too deep for Abraham's shovel (no one else brings any tools) so Abraham made the others give their belts,  lashed the shovel to Abraham's spear, and a spear from the rat folk. Pulled out dozens of thousands of copper coins.   Abraham's sack was overflowing with treasure.   They wanted to go deeper, Abraham put his foot down, no point going deeper when we have more treasure than we can carry.  They grumbled and we went back up top to the mule...wolves were trying to eat it.  Then ran when we appeared..the mule was hurt.

Back to town,  set up accounts with Rupert.  Abraham should have quit there..but they wanted to go just one more room deeper.  So back we went to the abbey,  back into the North Tower,  past the black pool, deeper into those accursed tunnels.  There was a big round room,  who has to sneak forward and look?  Abraham.  Abraham crawled closer...saw bloated tall men with appropriate levels of tan,  but bad eyes,  no good from those eyes.  Those bad eyes saw Abraham. Abraham tried to blend in as one of them, it didn't work.  Abraham ran passed those foolhardy, no foolish, adventurers.   They stopped and fought and stabbed with spears.  But nothing worked, the spears bounced off their pallid flesh like it was stone.  Then everyone was running.
    They nearly swarmed the man who was looking at my boots,  he touched one of their faces...its face melted, they ran.  We kept running.

  One more room,  I will put it on his tombstone yet.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Legend of Grimrock

So I purchased "Legend of Grimrock" from and it has been well worth my $15.  Starting off with a few people naked in a dungeon,  reacting with awe and wonder at such treasures as "Rock" and "Knife".

It has a diablo vibe I have noticed, as you get deeper into the dungeon the architecture changes.  One thing that will be infuriating is figuring out what the game is capable of.  It often reminds me of old "type an action" RPG's like old Quest for Glory games.

This is cool in that often the solutions are really outside the box thinking,  figuring out you can do things you didn't think you could.  Also irritating,  because that outside the box thinking is also annoying at times (ie, you see a body in an crypt alcove with a helmet, but you can't take the helmet or beat someone with a femur as a club...but you should know that you put other things in alcoves :\).

There is also an "Old School" mode where you don't get a minimap and have to crack out a pencil and use graph paper. A note,  this can't be turned off if you select it.

Still, absolutely wonderful.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Drastically slashing GM Prep time to almost nil: The main strength of "Neoclassical Geek Revival"

One of the nice things of OSR games is that it doesn't take very long to "Stat out" opponents , or much space to write up a dungeon compared to newer games.

But I never got on the 3e bandwagon and so I always thought even OSR games took too long.  It largely boiled down to a thought I had one day "What the hell IS a hit die anyways?".

I wanted the ability to fully flesh out a region (and any dungeons or ruins in it) as fast as I could think them up.  But I also don't want everything to be generic.  I don't want to save time by slotting everyone down as "mook or evil boss #1 reskinned".   So I didn't build Neoclassical Geek Revival to do that.

When it comes to adventuring, everything in Neoclassical Geek Revival is descriptive.  You describe "stat" things only as you need them, and purely based on description.  So lets say the party runs into goblins.

I start with an average man,   all 10.5's for attributes. I will need the following chart from page 24 of the lion printing.

Task is considered:
Impossible -20
Grueling -10
Hard -5
Difficult -2
Normal 0
Straightforward +2
Easy +5
Very simple +10
Utterly trivial +20

So I start off by thinking "How is this goblin different from a person?"  I might be tempted to say "Weak" and lower the the strength.  I would say "An arm wrestle with a goblin would be easy" so I give the goblin -5 strength.  I round down if the total is below 11 and round up otherwise (personal quirk).   But is the goblin really "weak",  compared to a man sure,  but a man is twice as big.  This wouldn't scale right if I did that.   So I use the "Size modifier rules"  (page 39 in lion printing).  So the goblin is half the size of a man in my mind,  he is size modifier 1/2.

So that means I am comparing a goblin to a man shrunk to half size.  I don't see him as especially weak,  but I would see him as very crass (-5 social) and somewhat quick (+2 agility) and otherwise as a man.  

So thus far the goblin is all 10's, except for 5 social and 13 agility (if it ever comes up).  The goblin is also size modifier 1/2  (all damage he deals is halved, all damage he takes is doubled.  For stealth all suspicion he takes is halved and all that he deals is doubled).  Nothing written ahead of time other than "12 Furitive, Ill Tempered Goblin hunters with hide shields and javelins"

So what about their equipment?   Well I would say that for their size,  the javelin is a medium weapon (check) that does piercing damage (check) and then throw on some weapon tags like "Pole weapon" and "Throwing".  I would say they have large shields,  but being hide they have the "Light" tag.   This is all in the equipment setting.

So the light shield is giving them +4 to defense (can't stop armour piercing or devastating weapons),  and the javelin is doing d6 repeating damage, with +2 to hit when thrown, a range of 2 areas, and -2 to hit in melee.   All of these are size modifier 1/2 (like the goblin).  Finally they don't have names so they are 0th level.  They are hunters, so their 2 "class" pie pieces would probably be warrior (specialist in javelins since they are hunters not warriors) and rogue (specializing in tracking).

Let me show another example.

Maybe I right   "Ginormous but lazy fire breathing dragon named Guams"

So how many times bigger than a man is this?   10?  Sure, it is size modifier 10.

So I see it as insanely alert (20 awareness) and very clever (16 intelligence) but maybe somewhat old, arthiritisy and unhealthy (8 agility and health).

It has scales (mail armour),  made of dragon (material if you care).  But it has an exposed belly so I'd give it's natural armour the "Partial" tag.

It's claws  (if they get used) I'd quickly think of what they count as.  So they are small (to the dragon)  but slashing weapons,  probably count them as "vicious" too.  So they do a d6+1 damage if they hit (x10 for size).  If the dragon bites I might apply different tags, same with the tail.  For the tail I might call it a large,  blunt weapon  (d8 x 10 damage).

It also breathes fire.  That seems magical so I sort through a spell to look for an appropriate one.  "Cone" seems to be a suitable template,  its a size modifier 10 creature so I say it has enough mana to cast it at power level 10".  I'd count that as an innate spell,  same as an "elf" with its cantrips. I could do the same with any other abilities.

It has a name, so finally I'd give it a level and class,  I think I'd pick warrior and bard (it likes riddles) and give it  "Dual wield" (I see it hitting with both claws) for warrior, and for its two part bard i'd give it ("Reputation", "Silver Tongue" and "Wit").  This is based on viewing Guams as a retired warrior who couldn't hold his own against another dragon,  but sure has a fierce reputation among dumb peasants. Since I haven't written down any notable deeds Guams has done, that means he's on his first milestone, and thus level 1.

Both of those are "Just in Time" mechanical explanations to the creatures when they come up.  They can be placed ahead of time,  but the mechanics themselves don't need copying down.

This also applies to traps, magical items, etc.   With people who have skills, they use the same "schrodinger's character" mechanism as new PC's.  I just assume that most of their skills aren't applicable to the current situation, but 1/3 of their intelligence worth will be (usually 3).

For some things you will want to write down specific details,  if a wizard has specific spells,  write down their names (you can use a spell template to add the appropriate mechanics). Jot down how pious a priest is.

But in general,  most things just be descriptive about what is in a location.  Thus when it comes to modules,  Neoclassical Geek Revival is truly system neutral.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Familiar but not: GMing someone else's setting, with them as a player

So I am quite a fan of the ConstantCon that Zak spawned all those months ago, which now sits in the good hands of dozens of GM's.

I've had chances to be in many different settings:  from Urutsk, to Wessex, The Dark Country, Stonehell, Terruizeng and Agrivaina among others.

And one recent challenge I have tasked upon myself and several of the more gracious GM's have offered to help with,  is to GM the settings and games of other GM's for a one shot, with the GM in question playing in their own setting.

I have so far only had a chance to run through an adventure in "The Dark Country" with Evan from "In Places Deep" playing his famed wizard (From Wessex)  known as "Philip the Bloody".  The adventure bypassed 100% the dungeon/ruins I had built and ended up involving using gnome mercenaries to overthrow a petty feudal lord who was oppressing his people.  Only one PC died and very few gnomes were eaten. I may not have 100% captured the feel of the dark country.

It was a fun exercise to try to run a game in someone else's style,  forces you to stretch out your brain.  I still need to work on it,  but I am looking forward to trying again with some of the other GM's who have volunteered to let me destroy a small portion of their own works of art.

The Journal of Abraham Nermal: Abraham's Big Score

The local gravedigger is prone to talk for a free meal and  drink..

So, with the end of the world about to doom us all I decided some creature comforts before the inevitable disembowelment and eternal torment would be pleasant.

I wandered down to the Rupert and purchased some treated leather sacks, old wineskins looks like. Had me a plan I stole fair and square from Stavros. Stavros is a nice fellow, be a real shame when I have to burn his corpse. He's a hero you see, and there aren't enough saints about to keep those types running for long. Left a note for Fredrick when he woke up, I had most of the letters down right so he'd be able to figure what was up. Froglings are smarter than most folk think.

So it was to be a quick in an out with a bunch of muscle and book types, the types who think they are smarter and better than ole Abraham since they know all the letters, and have symmetrical bodies. One of them was faerie touched, I could tell. Better than that cuckold that was roaming outside the walls earlier. They didn't give the place the fear it deserves, mocking me as I avoided the malice breathing from that place. They wanted to look into the hell mouth, I had half a mind to tell them the statue we stuffed down there had diamond eyes just to watch em pull it up..get eaten.

That's when I noticed, the vampyr bodies what was, was but dust and odd webs. I figured it was from burning their heads at the church, it tweren't.

We went to the rooms of statues, still with spikes in their eyes. I puts the bags over thar heads like Master Stavros said, tied em up real tight with twine. We did the ole one two and opened a coffin, chopped the head clean off what wuz inside. Fancy armour, fancy rings, fancy cross. Then the mage saw the light to our south. I hid, I hid beside the arch way as it crawled in. A horrid glowing orb, it hummed, hummed like my old master's machines and dials. I knew it was going to kill people, and Abraham wasn't about to start being people then. I waited for it to start floating by, moving at those stupid fighting types, trying to fight evil with bits of iron and wood. I grabbed the leg of the corpse and with a little Nightwick magic, tried to rush past it to the sunlight. I got a boot, didn't notice till i was hiding in the next room. It mangled folks right quick, ate the fairy folk lad, turned him to dust. Ate the corpse too, turned it to dust and webbing. Then it left as the others wailed and moaned in fear. No one else saw where it went, but Abraham did. Abraham knows it's secret, and Abraham won't be its next meal.

No time for wailing, we took the other bodies as the bags filled with some hideous gas. We fled quickly. It was a small fortune.

We were too greedy. We went back the next day, even old Abraham did something stupid, thought he was a hero. Thought maybe we didn't all need to die, thought we could stop the abbey being rebuilt by that horrid slime, those horrid vines. We dug up the roots, We hacked with with axes and holy water. Poor Frederick tried to set fire to it, breathed in the purple smoke. Nearly killed him. Almost dead he was. New hire was a doctor of some kind, got him breathing.

Was hiding at the tree line, looking to get some logs, keep the fire going. Saw the goblin horde, couldn't get away, me and the brainy westerner might have been meat. But they went to the burning pit, breathed the purple smoke as the others came to hide too.

This was Abraham's second mistake, decided if they weren't looking we could
knock em into the fire. Got half, there was too much smoke, didn't see other half. We all passed out, one guy died, fell in the fire. Threw in oil and lard before we slept, really made too much smoke. Maybe St. Deodat was looking out for me, keeping his boots safe. We managed to wake up with the Goblins gone.

No more fooling around. Went to see a smart man, only man with class in the area. I like his house, he's Abraham's kind of guy. Shame he isn't hiring. He confirmed we are doomed.

So we went back in, Abraham knew what to do. Find cultists, kill cultists, take their fancy cards and fancy coins.

Don't try to be a hero. Heroes die, and St. Deodat can't save them forever. Abraham will let others be heroes. Abraham will collect many boots.

The Journal of Abraham Nermal: Welcome to Nightwick

Heard from a grubby little fellow getting drunk in a Nightwick alley,

So let me tell you a thing or two about the mausoleum in the ole abbey. I went with a bunch of charming chaps, a rather rude inquisitor who inquired all too impolitely of the local clergy, a dancing frog, an impoverished southerner and some hulking lad named Flint.

The place was overgrown with vines, save the dead graveyard. Brown grass and unearthed graves. But the graves were dug up from the bottom up , and truss me..I know the difference. I guess the sun's rays did em in cause thar tweren't nuttin but dust and webs near the graves. Seven of em, one fer each sin.

The Mausoleum had a couple gates, both unlocked, that is where the horror began. Moving into the fell place we saw dust and manleather, far too much of each. Stone coffins everywhere, some poor saps had tried to make a barricade out o the lids. Didn't seem to work, there was another arch that lead further in.

We looked through that arch to a room with more stone coffins and big ole statue. and defeated two vampyrs still that stone coffins, put thar heads in me sack and made sure they had a stake in thar ribs. Then this horrid scribblin an a scrabblin came from a dank and bottomless pit we found in the room. We aint cowards but the noises mades us all pale, we heaved a lid from one of them fancy stone coffins over the pit, and somethin started clawin at the stone.

A bit nervous and sweaty we moved into a room to the west, saw the otherside o tha barricade that never got finished. Three more vampyr's killed in thar fancy stone coffins, three more heads in me sack. Evil frescos glowered at us from the walls an we kinda lost it, we screamed the name o the lord and the very halls hissed and bled. We carved crosses and smashed the mocking images on the walls, we sent smoke billowing up...and found a locked hidden door. We began looking through the vampyrs stone coffins fer a key and found one. We thought it a moment of good luck when those hideous eyes...

I won't go into what happened there, but the southerner had a lung ripped through his back and eaten, nearly did im in but for a grace of god. We fended off the beasts as we could, they feared the cross but not for long. We hope we barricaded their hideous warren that leads to hell itself, but we don't know if it'll hold, or if we be foolin ourselves like the poor saps with the other barricade.

We retreated to the sunlight, but the inquisitor, the hunter..he wanted to look in the big hall. We used the frog an a rope to get to the roof, and the inquisitor, praising me for my bravery with a promise of new boots, made the lonely trek next. I know not what happened next, but within moments spears were flying over the roof and the unholy chanting of a blood orgy was reverberating through the walls. The inquisitor's body fell from the roof and the Frogling soon came clamberin down after.

Tales o' a thousand goblins, dancing in thar blood orgy spewed from the frogs mouth.

The lord help us, they be in our churches, they has our relics and they be invertin our symbols!

We are all going to die. Soon.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Artist and the Developer, differing approaches to making a game

So I have been busy doing some major layout overhaul for the next release of Neoclassical Geek Revival,   also working on "Scenic Dunnsmouth" some more, and if its suitable it may even be published by an impressive brand,  but I try not to count chickens before hatched.

I was thinking about different approaches to releasing games.  I am very much in the habit of doing iterative releases and don't believe there will ever be a time when I say "There, I am done".  I am a tinkerer and I always see room for improvement.

But I do notice many people want to get things "right" and produce one work that stands for a good long period of time.  If something gets fixed its because they legitimately didn't notice it before release,  not that they just didn't have a better option at the time.

I also work in software development,  I began noticing other people who release in similar methods to me also work in development.  I noticed through my super scientific sampling of a few people who don't release this way that they tend to be artists or writers.

So I am genuinely curious if this is just anecdotal crap,  or if this is a real pattern.