Saturday, August 1, 2015

[adventure] Crash on Zija


I wrote this a couple of years ago for the Contessa zine Randomocity. I happened across it today on my HHD and thought I should make it available for everyone. There is not allot there but then, you do not need all that much to wreck havoc upon the universe. I dropped it onto RPGNow mainly so I can track the number of times it is downloaded.

Perhaps you will enjoy it. Perhaps you will die. Let me know...


If you do not know what 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars is, well my friend, you need to educate yourself. Click the link and let your mind explode.

Monday, July 27, 2015

[map] The Isle of Kalvania

 
Another quick map for the month and then I think I will focus on my writing. This one was drawn while my family watched TV and relaxed after a busy weekend. This is another in the style +Matthew Lowes posted on Google+.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

[map] Welcome to Ratown & Bagel's Olde Wood Shoppe

As a long time DM I have often found that images and maps can be great as tools at the table to help get a location's feeling or atmosphere across to players, BUT I have also found those same thing to be fountains of inspiration for the stumped DM. That's where this piece is coming from. I created this map to be used but also to hopefully inspire. My hope is that a DM would be using this map and get inspired by the hints on the map to flesh out the underground market known as Ratown.

Each business in Ratown has a small hint at at what might be inside - a name or perhaps what is sold inside. My hope is that this will spark a creative idea in the DM and help them create unique locations and inhabitants of Ratown for players to visit.

Let's give it a try.

Near the middle is a location with the term "Bagels" on it. Now, while I might like bread just as much as the next guy, bagels are not my favorite bread product (barely nudging out croissant, that evil doughy thing from France). That means I would likely steer clear of this being a bakery that specializes in bagels...what if the owner is named Bagel instead?

Bagel's Olde Wood Shoppe - 
Bagel (pronounced bah-ghel) is white-bearded gnome that shares his race's affinity for pointed hats, in his case a blue one. He is most often found wearing sturdy - and dirty - coveralls and a belt with many pockets. Bagel is a serious and hard worker with a specialization in woodwork. With his natural ability in magic and his god-given skill in woodworking he has mastered the skill of wand and staff making, providing a wide variety of each.

Bagel's Shoppe is dusty and tight. The store is divided into two sections with the front being essentially a hallway that runs between the two doors. This section is full - from floor to ceiling - with small boxes of wands stacked upon each other and small barrels choked full of staves. There are so many to choose from that a visitor will feel a little overwhelmed when they enter. This is actually a ward that Bagel has cast upon the entryway. Moments after entering the shop Bagel will appear from the back and wave off the ward's effects.

The back section of the shoppe is Bagel's workshop and is full of stacks of wood and a large bench covered in the various tools Bagel uses to create his masterpieces. This area is exceedingly dusty and will cause anyone entering to begin suffering complications. These will include coughing, itching and watering eyes, and a general feeling of discomfort from the dust-filled air. This is caused by another ward being placed upon the area.

All of Bagel's products are sold ready to accept any magic placed upon them and are inherently magical due to charms and wards he places upon each when he is finished working his craft. Thus, simply owning one will afford the user a +1 to any single roll each day (player picks).

What does BagelRandom Woodcraft Generator
Type of wood (d10)
1- Oak
2- Hazel
3- Mahogany
4- Cedar
5- Willow
6- Ash
7- Black Ash
8- Holly
9- Birch
10- Elder

Form and shape (d10)
1- Thin and appears brittle
2- Stiff
3- Bendable
4- Strong and sturdy
5- Light
6- Firm
7- Bendy
8- Gnarled and twisted
9- Bone white
10- Strangely Heavy

Best for the use of... (d10)
1- Transmutation spells
2- Charms and illusion spells
3- The storage of any spell
4- Offensive spells
5- Healing spells
6- Defensive spells
7- Locating spells
8- Enchantment spells
9- Abjuration spells
10- Divination spells


Sunday, July 19, 2015

[map] The Duchy of Kilbomsbaron


Another of the map in the style of +Matthew Lowes, this time with Hexes! I have to admit I love the zigzag rivers on the map, love how they turned out. I may have to make more of these.  :-)

While I love the colors, I almost like the black and white one better. Just has a sort of old school magic feel to it. Makes me think of something you might find on the inside cover in a novel.

Friday, July 17, 2015

[map] The Isle Kingdom of Sewol Wehtam

Sort of feels like a map that belongs in the game Far Away Land, no?

Cool dude +Matthew Lowes  was drawing maps like this over on Google+ and I thought it looked cool enough to make me want to try my hand at it. You can view his post here:
https://plus.google.com/+MatthewLowes/posts/UhLGKW3CzJb

Black and white version

You might recognize the colors used on the map (first one up above) as well, they are taken directly from the old (read: good) Forgotten Realms maps that were produced for the box sets. Damn I loved those maps!

Numbered, in case you crazy mofos want to use this somewhere.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

[gaming] Solo play rules

+Sophia Brandt posted something over on her excellent blog today and it suddenly inspired me to pick up some dice. You can read her post here. She was inspired by a few posts from others, notably one that I have seen before, the Tiny Solitary Soldiers' Solo Engine

I decided I liked both their ideas and opted to meld them together into one. I did not change much so most of the credit should go to them for what follows.

THE SYSTEM
Step One:
Stat up your Hero, Declare your setting.
This is a short description of where the Hero is and what's happening.

Describe your character in 3 sentences or more. Make a list of his strengths & weaknesses. You have 3 tokens. They represent both your mental as well as your physical health. When you are down to zero tokens in a conflict, you lose. What that means depends on the type of conflict and your setting description. It might be getting knocked out, having a mental break-down, getting captured, dying, etc.


Step Two:
Scene Goal

At this time you should also come up with a Scene Goal for the Hero... This will determine when the scene is over (whether they achieved or failed at the goal).

Step Three:
Begin asking questions!

A question can be either an Inquiry or an Action outcome. Questions must be in a yes/no answerable format.

For each question, roll 2d6 and read the following result (If your Hero has a significant advantage, roll a third d6 along with it and choose the result. If a significant disadvantage, roll the third D6 but take the worst result for the hero):
5 or less:
odd: No, but… (you don’t’ get what you want, but there is something positive)
even: No, and… (you don’t’ get what you want and something bad happens, too)
6: Not yet, not until… (the GM will tell you what you need to do in order to achieve your intention)
7-9: Yes, but… (you get what you want but at a cost)
10: Yes (you get what you want)
11-12: Yes, and… (you get what you want and there’s an extra benefit)

NPCs
The NPCs are similar to PCs. They get short descriptions and the GM decides what they can do well and where they are weak. He gives them an appropriate amount of tokens. NPCs can have more or fewer tokens than Player Characters.

Example Mooks:
Five Goons: good at fighting, bad at everything else, Tokens: 5

Resolving Conflicts
To resolve a conflict compare the situation your character finds themselves in along with their strengths, weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages against those of the opponents. If both sides are more or less on par, roll normally. If the player side has an advantage or disadvantage, roll 3d6 using the rules above regarding advantages and disadvantages.

Defeat of either party can only be narrated after of all of their tokens are lost. Conflict continues until one side runs out of Tokens. You can either narrate each ‘round’ or continue to roll until one side has lost all their tokens

The Twist
Whenever you roll the dice, roll a different colored D6. This is the Twist Die. If this die equals 1 it means there is a twist to the scene.

To determine what this twist is roll two d6 dice, noting which was rolled first, then consult the following chart:
      1st d6                                     2nd d6
      1-An NPC                              1-Appears
      2-The PC                               2-Alters the location
      3-An organization                 3-Helps the hero
      4-A physical event                4-Hinders the hero
      5-An emotional event           5-Changes the goal
      6-An Item                             6-Ends the scene

Interpret these two phrases in a creative way using the events so far. I have found using Rory’s Story Cubes can help when you have a creative block and cannot determine the next path.

The Next Scene
Once the scene ends in some way (the protagonist's goal is met or failed) roll the next scene and use the result to steer the story:

1d6
1-3: Dramatic scene
4-5: Quiet Scene
6: Meanwhile…

A dramatic scene means the action doesn't let up! A quiet scene means there is no immediate danger, probably a good chance to gather intel or discover more about the characters or situation. A Meanwhile scene is a remote location, and does not involve the protagonists! This should be immediately randomized as a twist and kept quite short. I haven't done one of these yet but I'm looking forward to it.

Experience
During game play characters can grow, change, learn and even get worse at resolving conflicts. When you determine this has happened, annotate any changes to your list on your character sheet.


EXAMPLE OF PLAY
Setting: Cthulhuesque 1930s, PIish noir type thing
Character: Thomas McElvine is a former policeman turned private investigator with a knack for noticing things he should not, oftentimes things relating to the occult. He is a man haunted by the death of his daughter and his broken marriage. He refuses to fail in his investigations and is not above bending the laws to ensure success, this has made him a few enemies.
The List:
  • Thomas is detail oriented and easily notices details and connections
  • Can handle himself in a fight and always carries a .38
  • Thomas has some knowledge of the occult
  • He is haunted by the past
  • Has enemies on the police force.
Tokens: Three

Playtest

To start I roll two randomly selected Story Cubes, getting the Shooting Star and an Open Book. I determine that Thomas has been searching for information on the strange occurrences that have been happening in the area. He is hoping to find something that piques his interest.


A few days ago Thomas came across an old dusty book in the basement of the Knoxville Public Library...the off limits part. In the book he found a miraculously detailed account of a witness who saw (past tense) a shooting star in Cade’s Cove. The problem? The report is dated tomorrow evening. Thomas quickly decides to head out to the Cove and see if anything should turn up.


Question time: Is Thomas able to sneak back out of the library without anyone noticing?
I roll three dice and one Twist die. I roll 5,5, and 2, plus a 1 on the Twist die. The Twist die over rules the Conflict resolution roll so I put aside the dice and roll for the Twist. I get a 3, An organization, and a 4, Hinders the Hero.


Thomas slips the book into his satchel and makes his way to the back stairs, guessing he can still slip out that way. As he turns the corner he sees a policeman coming down the stairs, clearly the copper thinks something is afoot. Thomas ducks behind one of the numerous rows of book-filled shelves and hopes the man has not seen him.


Can Thomas get around the cop and escape the library?
I decide the cop and Thomas are on par and I roll 2d6 getting a 5 and a 3, the Twist dice comes up a 5. Thankfully, no twist this time. Eight gives a result of ‘Yes, but...’ I grab my Story Dice again, randomly picking two dice and rolling. I get a figure with a shadow and a comic chat bubble. I like the shadow.


Thomas waits patiently as the cop scans each row of shelves, hugging the shadows. The cops heads to the far side of the room and Thomas slips up the stairs and out the door without being seen.


He darts across the street, slips into the shadows, and scans the street. No one is on the street and everything looks clear. Thomas lets out a sigh and steps into the light, making his way to his car.


Fifty yards away from Thomas, and unseen by the detective’s keen eye, a cigarette flares in the shadows. Dark eyes watch him as he moves away from the library.

What happens next? I roll a d6 and get a 4, a quiet scene.

Thomas makes his way to his office. Once there he prepares for his trip to Cade's Cove. He packs a few things into a bag then tosses a notebook, a blanket and a shotgun into his trunk. He jots a quick note to his secretary telling her he will be gone for a few days while he follows up on a lead.

  ----  o  ----
So, initial thoughts are that this works pretty well, not sure I like it or not. Maybe continue tomorrow...




Monday, July 13, 2015

[crafts] Crafting a medallion

So I am still working on my secret project, experimenting with a few ideas as I ensure that I could actually pull of the bits and pieces that I need to complete the project. Today I attempted to sculpt a medallion - for no other purpose than to see if I could do it.

First, I swiped some clay (not sure what brand or anything) from my daughter's art area. I am looking at a few different kinds of clay that I can buy because I would need more, much more for the project. I drew up some random designs on paper as a example before I cut into the clay. Below is what I came up with.
 The reverse side:
I baked this in my convection oven for about 20 minutes, it was dry but still bendable at the end of the twenty minutes. Kinda weird, it looks like stone but bends a little like rubber. Strange....and perfect!

Next I grabbed some paint - literally whatever I had in the garage - and started playing around. I want this to be strange, sort of familiar but not exactly right. I grabbed an orange, blue, and bright red spray paint and took turns with each color, wiping some off here, dabbing it there. Then I filled the crevasses with black paint and then dry brushed the black off the top surface in a sort of haphazard pattern. The result is below, the one side turned out mostly brown with lots of pits and scratches.
 The other side ended up more red and strangely like bloody flesh in color. Really weird.

I wanted to see what a 'final product' might look like, so using the paper I made last weekend I wrote a quick letter and then a piece of scratch paper with drawings, notes, etc.

I am not 100% happy with it, but it is close to what I wanted. For a first attempt it turned out pretty well. This is entirely far too easy and so much more simple than I expected it would be. Fun lies ahead of me!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

[map] The Babble


Named after the excellent +Billiam Babble, I present a small craft suitable for exploring the depths of space or maybe the depths of the ocean? The craft has a crew of two but can support three for a short duration. A small crew compartment offers a two bunk set up (with a cramped three bunk option) for living quarters.

Black and white version:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

[crafts] Aging paper for your games, part two

Part one covered using tea, for part two we are going to move to coffee. I have always used tea in the past but some of the results using coffee are really outstanding. Needless to say I am hoping coffee makes it even better.

For this step I pulled out some coffee I had in the cabinet. Honestly I would not use this stuff because we have lived here for five years....and I have never, ever used it. Not sure how old it is. I used two heaping spoonfuls of coffee grounds in hot water (too much really) and then had a pile on a paper plate as well.
I managed to find a black Liquid Magnus Rollerball pen and I added it to the mix, I am hoping it works as good as the red version. This would give me two really good pens (two colors!) for use on the pages.
This time I also took the step of crunching up the paper before wetting it.
This time I only did two pieces of paper, mainly because the rest of the paper is out in the garage and it is hot as hell out there. I am also lazy.

Here you can see the reason why I crinkled it up before wetting it. Now the water pooled on the paper. I am hoping this will cause more variations across the paper. I also took the dry grounds and sprinkled them over the paper.
Again, ten minutes in the oven at 200 degrees. I think I could very easily do a handful of these at a time in my toaster oven instead of heating up the big oven. Maybe next time. I used this twenty minutes to clean up the mess I had made.  ;-)

Here are the results. The watercolor paper on the left, the drawing on the right side. One thing I noticed (maybe because my oven was already hot from the tea paper) but the paper was much more dry this time around. The drawing paper curled! Very cool. Again the Vista ink faded (might use that for something I want to be mysterious and fades) and the black Rollerball seems to work perfectly.
Here is a lower angle so you can see the curl. One thing that is very different is the feel of the paper. The coffee made the paper feel much older. This aging process made the watercolor paper feel almost leathery while the drawing paper came out feel brittle, though it feels and looks much more brittle than it really is.
The back side of the same page.
Comparisons. On the left is the tea, on the right is the coffee. First up is the watercolor paper. The coffee stained paper is much darker and the pre-wet crinkling did its job and provided more variation in color.
 This time I crinkled the coffee paper for a better direct comparison.
This time the drawing paper. Left is tea, right is coffee.
Again, I crinkled the coffee paper. Looking back at crinkling, I will use the post-dry process to crinkle the paper.The pre-wet crinkling ended up giving the paper a much more crinkled appearance. I like the smoother and larger wrinkles in the paper.
One thing I noticed is the edge of the coffee stained paper. I left it in the oven for slightly longer than the tea stained and it produced a darker edge. This adds significantly to the feel of the paper being old. Here is a close up. In the next round of paper aging, I will leave it in the oven for longer. The paper thickness seems to have an effect on this edge burning. The thicker watercolor paper did not have the burnt edges so I am guessing I will need to leave it in the oven for even longer time.
So there you go, it is very easy to make even store bought bright white paper to be aged at home using nothing more than tea or coffee. Here is another shot of the paper that I made in about an hour and a half at home.
If you make some paper, be sure to share it on Google+ and tag me, I would love to see what you make and how you tweak the process to make the paper even better.

Monday, July 6, 2015

[crafts] Aging paper for your games, part one

So while I was on vacation this last weekend I came across a brilliant idea. While I am not ready to discuss this idea yet and I would like to keep it under wraps anyway, I am not going to tell you about it. You will just have to wait.

However, one of the requirements is that I will need to step up some of my crafting skills. One of the first things that will be required is aged paper. Now I have seen a few ideas around the web before, many having to do with tea staining and I have tried this method in the past. Years ago.

I decided this is the first step to my project being successful. It is also a requirement for this project, so without the paper, this is pretty much dead in the water. It is also to note that this paper is able to stand up to a little finer eye than it might getting being a simple prop for a game table, so I want to go the extra mile if needed.

First, my ingredients. First up I brewed some tea. Here I used what I had in the cabinet a couple of Lipton teabags. I brewed two in my Keurig and let it sit for about fifteen minutes. This produces pretty strong tea, strong enough that I would never drink it. I also broke a third one up onto a paper plate.

Today I went by and grabbed another pack of paper. This  is the cheap stuff, nothing fancy here. The Drawing runs $5.99 for 200 pages and is a thin stock. What I like about the Drawing paper is that it is already a tan, yellowish color.

First step to get it sloppy wet. I used a brush I found in my garage, I think I used it to stain my deck this spring. Anyway, not a good brush, it doesnt matter. I get the paper sloppy wet and then drop some of the unmixed grounds onto the paper.

Here I used wax paper between each sheet so that I could do multiple sheets at a time. If you do not, the sheets can stick together and when dry become difficult to pull apart, sometimes even ripping.

While I was doing this, I also pre-heated my oven to 200 degrees. Here you can see more work.

I also used three of the pens I have here at the house and wrote a short message. I plan on writing on the paper so I need to find not only a pen I like to write with but one that will not fade too much. Another option is to write on the paper after it is dry but for aging and fading, I think the pre-wet is a better option. The pens I had around the house ended up being a Mircon #08, a Skillcraft Vista Gel Ink pen, and a Red Skillcraft Liquid Magnus Rollerball pen. My currect favorite for work is the Vista, a nice smooth and bold ink pen.

When I started putting water down I immediately knew the Vista was in trouble. The ink had been drying for about twenty minutes and did not smudge when touched but when water hit the ink bad things happened.

Now, if you read my blog you likely know that I cannot leave well enough alone. So while it was wet I thought I would toss in a few extras to see how it would go. I grabbed the red and yellow food coloring and a canister of those sprinkle things you put on cake or cupcakes, specifically I wanted the black and orange bits.

I stuck these into the oven for 15 minutes at 200 degrees. I removed them and took them outside for the better, more natural lighting. The watercolor paper, a much thicker paper, is on the left, while the drawing paper is on the right. You can also see the food coloring can through prominently on the drawing paper while it barely stained the watercolor at all (odd because I thought watercolor paper would absorb it more easily).

The other side of the same pages.

And the two with writing were very interesting. The Vista ink completely disappeared on the drawing paper! The lines were from the wire rack I put these two to dry on (note, be careful what you put the paper on in the oven!)

So, now you are probably asking what to do with these, why would you go through all this just for some paper.

Here are some ideas. I took the two with writing and rolled them, like a scroll. Tell me your players would not flip when your NPC halfling merchant tosses these up onto the table during a game.

I crinkled these up a little prior to rolling them up. I think it looks pretty good. Get some cool text, maybe a quick sketch on there of a dungeon layout (half faded, half incorrect of course) and tell me the players would not go all googoo over these at the table.

 The other four pieces I took and folded in quarters then took a piece of dark twine I had laying around from my book binding and tied them off.

I really like the way the paper curls and does not lay flat any longer. When I made them into these little bundles I actually only used a single piece of paper for each. Each bundle has a full page, cut in half, stained, dried, then folded. Because of the drying process the paper becomes more stiff and curvy, producing cool little bundles like this.

I think these would be wonderful to drop on the table during a game. If your characters are haggling over a mysterious map, note, or scroll, I bet the GM could get the players to unload way more than average with one of these props on the table.

Now, tomorrow I will try the same process with coffee and see how it goes.

[UPDATE]
+Jesse Morgan had the idea of doing the above process and using photos for the back ground of maps and such. Great idea! So I stole it.

I scanned the paper and have dropped it here. Feel free to use this scan, commercial or otherwise (attribution please).

And black and white: