Thursday, April 8, 2021

Skurmish! Player maps

I put together some player maps so they can track the hexes they've explored and to track troop movement across the battlefield (I will be providing these in PDF for easy printing). The above is the 11x17 version with ample room for note taking. Below is the 8.5x11 for those suckers without larger printing capability.

Each hex is numbered (probably hard to read on these images) but essentially each column is a letter (A thru N) while the rows in herringbone style are numbered (1 thru 0). Players with old eyes (me included) will probably want to write those above and to the left of the hexes for visibility's sake.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

FKR Skurmish!

Inspired by this post, I decided to try my hand at this FKR skirmish game and enlisted a few fellas to help me. Essentially you create rival warbands based on an image and text alone. Then using that knowledge, and common sense, the Host (me) arbitrates the results of all the actions of the players. I have been wanting to run some sort of skirmish game and have struggled in the past with how to exactly do this without a complicated rule system. I have probably read or skimmed through at least 30 skirmish type rule books and I often came to the end thinking "This is way to complicated" without it dawning on me that using the FRK-ideals, one could really run a skirmish on hardly any rules...or rules at all! 

For those gamers among you that are struggling to understand how you do this, trust me, it is difficult. A friend and I struggled for a full week thinking about this. Anywho, if this manages to get off the ground, I will keep you updated as we play.

Below is the email that was sent out to the players, setting up the ideas of the game and how we will proceed:

This is being sent out to all the players BCC so you will not know your enemies. You cannot directly act with one without going through the Host (little ol' me), in other words, you can attempt to contact your rivals by sending a message through the Host.

How to Play:
1) Following this email, you will put together your warband, a small skirmish unit of beings. We will have a few email exchanges as we tweak your warband. You will not have ‘stats’. See "Setup" below for more information. Deadline is Noon (central) Saturday, 10 April. If everyone gets theirs in early, we will move forward.
2) I will provide a blank hex map of the valley to each player and indicate your starting hex.
3) I will request starting orders for your warband and provide a deadline for you to and these in.
4) You will receive a reply from me approximately 3-4 days later informing you of the results of your turn.
5) We will continue in this fashion until one warband is determined to be the victor.

Setup:
Imagine an open world. Your warband has been called here to battle, to explore, to become victorious. Your warband has assembled and are ready to take to the field to seek glory and treasure! A massive valley, the Valley of Bones holds riches, dangers, but also rivals. Your warband has come here to explore the valley despite these dangers.

Step 1)
Find a picture (or more) of your warband to help define what type of warband you command. These can be photos, drawings, minis, paintings, etc. You tell me what type of warband (goblins, orcs, space marines, wizards, Stormtroopers, lizardmen, Army Rangers, etc….go wild here) and once I have these from everyone I will reply with numerical details of your unit. I will do my best to normalize the power levels (ie 100 goblins versus 1 wizard sort of thing). It is fine to have more than one type of being in your warband. Once we have the "type" locked down, we move to step two.

Step 2)
I will ask for a brief description of your warband. This can include names, backstories, quirks, etc. You can be as brief or as detailed as you wish. Include your thoughts on the morale of the warband. Your warband should have a leader, name this leader, how they became leader, describe him/her, and how effective you feel their leadership.

That’s it!

A couple of notes:
o Please put (Skurmish!) in the title for each email regarding the game, that way I can easily keep things straight.
o Deadlines for you to send in orders are hard deadlines. If you fail to send an orders, your warband will act accordingly. If your last order was for them to march north and attack any beings they encounter, they will continue to do so until they are given other orders, are defeated, or are victorious (in which case, what are you but a useless meat sack).
o There will be instances where you will come across caves, ruins, temples, even villages as you explore the Valley of Bones. These can be explored. These may detract your warband from exploring the battlefield, they can be dangerous, but they can also be rewarding as well.
o Alliances, treaties, deception, subterfuge, tactics, are all in play. You can instruct your war band to any task you can imagine, but remember their capability and the reality of the world. While we might have Jedi knights fighting Shaolin monks, battling warmongering giant hamsters, and facing off against dino-riding turtles, remember that the world is a place with real physics and your band is a group of people that want to live and breath.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The Floundering Queen

 

This inn is so named after an event in the past that occurred during the visit by the Queen. After slipping into the sulfur mud pool to the north of town, the Queen managed to pull in her aides until they were able to drag her wet, muddy, and smelly butt out. A local artist's rendition of the event reside above the mantle in quite elaborate mosaic.

The tavern was hand built by the current owner and operator, Thornton Eckelstone. As Thornton is not an exceptionally skilled carpenter, he made a few notable mistakes when laying out and constructing his tavern. Most notable among these is the height of the ceiling. Due to his own short stature, he did not notice the fact that his ceiling was shorter than the norm. Many visitors will bang their heads on the aged, dark wood of the ceiling.

Regardless of how many people are here it feels crowded and has a claustrophobic feel. Favorite place of the sailors who visit the village. 1 in 6 chance every turn a fight will break out. At any one time there are d6+2 sailors here, 4 in 6 they are already drunk (and rowdy like sailors get).

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Woodrowe's Elixirs

Woodrowe's Elixirs is a shop the boys have been to in Shiteton. He's a bit eccentric and if I had to pigeonhole how he looks, sounds and acts, it would be Sean Connery. Just imagine a older Sean in a fancy medieval robe, fidgeting over a table filled with tiny bottles.

Potions, elixirs, salves, etc. If it can be made into some sort of ointment, powder, or drink, Woodrowe probably knows how to do it. He occasionally has magic items that he will let go to people that he likes. Will often pay ridiculous finder fees for mushrooms of unusual species. He also seems to have an affinity for elves, attempting to continue conversations with them beyond what would be normally expected, some times to the point of awkwardness. My guess is he hasn't seen that many in his life...

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Barrowmound 5

The Darrowdeep Kickstarter just began and it inspired me to do up a quick barrow map. Nothing super special, just giving of while I listen to Erik & Bad Mike interview Greg to discuss his new KS. Gotta say, I like Greg and his adventures.  ;-)


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

The Marshall Barony

For those following along at home (and to help my players visualize) I made a map of the local area. I added all the locations we have explored thus far to the map. As we explore more of the wilderness I will be adding to it. Below is the black and white version for printing at home.



Monday, March 8, 2021

Adventures in Marshall Barony, ep 19

 

THE CAST O' CHARACTERS:

CURRENT ROSTER
Vance - Yozzat, a dwarf
Joe - Olwen Door-Hinge-Bane, a human ranger
Tim - Raymondo M., human thief
Seana - Marigold, best class ever....HALFLING
Steve - Dosta Grimm, a fucking elf
Shane - Ralgar the average beetcake  ;)

Ep 19.  Bandit battle - 4 Mar
The party continues the desperate battle to regain their stolen treasure...and things immediately go downhill. Yozzat is nailed by the troll, nearly killing him. Dosta pulls out one of his magic cards and attempt to sway/distract the troll but the troll resists the trolly womanly ways (we all have a good joke about Dosta not knowing what a 'sexy trollbabe looks like'. Olwen gets blasted by the troll, rendering him to zero hit points and launching him into the bushes. 
As this was going on Ralgar joins the fray and attempts to hit the troll from the rear, but misses. The party suddenly realizes they have hirelings (this is a constant problem with us) and they rush headlong into the battle. Bluto, Joe's favorite hireling, charges in, tosses his spear, misses, then attempts to grapple, misses and ends up behind the troll next to Ralgar. Raymondo sets himself up on a boulder just out of reach and starts taking shots at the troll, landing a few solid hits.
Bluto grabs his spear and joins the attack. Dosta pulls out a flask of oil and dowses the troll from behind, but no one has a torch ready. Raymondo begins lighting a torch while Yozzat tosses another oil on the troll. Moments later, the troll is engulfed in flames.
Catching their breath, the party realizes that one of the bandits and that darn mage have slipped away! Luckily though, the party recovers all their gold and treasure, plus some additional items (see the previous post about a map) and additional gold. The party has come ahead in this, though they lost one of the longest running party members, Owlen. 

DM's Thoughts: 
For a hastily thrown together encounter, I think this went ok. There were some issues (yeah the troll was a mean DM moment) and a certain mage cast one more spell than they are actually allotted, but overall, it went well and in the end the party came out pretty good.

I have done a little 'soul-searching' as a DM. While I have achieved the goal I set out way back, "Run a campaign with quick little trips" I have become a little jaded with it. The original goal was to simply get us playing again and now that has happened and party members are starting to level up. I feel a yearning for a more involved storyline, a real 'goal' for the party besides murderhoboing all the time. I counted it out and we have entered four dungeons and left, never to return.

With Shiteton I have given the party a few NPCs that have story plots that could be developed but so far, the party has seemed to be content with slash and grab tactics on local dungeons. The village is situated along the 'frontier' in a land rich with ruins, dungeons, and places to clear but for whatever reason we lack the stick-to-itism to finish a place. I feel this getting a bit stale and I have a grand adventure in the works with a goal in mind for the party if they take the bait. I have some work ahead of me to finish up this dungeon but it is already planned out in outline form, so this should not be too hard to complete.

For now, the party is planning to return to the well (ep 16 & 17) and complete this dungeon. After that, who knows.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

A map discovered! (overland style)

Last week the players stumbled upon a map in the bandit's treasure (a horde really...and they claim I'm a mean DM!) 
During Zinequest 3 this year one of the projects featured an overland map that reminded me of the maps I had often used during my tenure in the Army and I was curious if I could pull one off. Here is the result.

I dressed up the map with some filters for the players so it looked like folder piece of parchment they discovered, so here is the "clean" version.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Adventures in Marshall Barony, ep 18

THE CAST O' CHARACTERS:

CURRENT ROSTER
Vance - Yozzat, a dwarf
Joe - Olwen Door-Hinge-Bane, a human ranger
Tim - Raymondo M., human thief
Seana - Marigold, best class ever....HALFLING
Steve - Dosta Grimm, a fucking elf
Shane - Ralgar the average beetcake  ;)

Ep 18.  Rescue Marigold, thievery, bandits! - 25 Feb
The party regroups and wait for Marigold who suddenly realized the predicament she was in. She manages to get back to the party and they quickly determine that they must return to town and collect their XP

As they exit the well, they discover two of the hirelings joined up with bandits and fled with about half of their gold. Obviously very angry, the party mounts a heated chase for these bandits. (see my comments below) They manage to catch up with the bandits and wayward hirelings camped along the side of a road, with a roaring campfire and quite a few bandits, including a large trollish type creature.
Without pause for their concern, party devises a plan to set up in a tree for sniper attacks while the sleep-master Dosta readies a sleep spell (see comments below). They manage to sleep about half of the bandits...and Ralgar begins mercilessly slaughtering the snoozing victims.
Everything appears to be going to plan when suddenly they realize one of the bandits is....a spellcasting bastard who returns the favor and casts sleep on the party! Olwen falls out of the tree he was going to snipe from, Dosta and Yozzat both take a nap in the road. Olwen's player 'debates' that falling from the tree and smacking into the ground would cancel the sleep spell effect...sure, sure whatever. So he wakes up and sprints over to Dosta. I told him he could (1) get up from his fall and pick up his bow, (2) run over to his friends, (3) shake his friend to wake them up, and (4) fire his bow all in a single round. So he opts to step on Dosta instead of shaking him. :/   Players, I swear sometimes....

His arrow has little effect on the troll and we ended with the troll about to pummel the PCs back to first level.

DM's Thoughts: 
I think another player (her hubby) explained to her the OSR mantra of 'never split the party' and that is what caused Marigold to suddenly change course and return to the party.

DM Comment 1: they were quit upset that I did not let the bandits and hirelings be a simple, 'we show up, kick their ass, and take back our gold.' Boohoo crybabies, suck it. Did I do it on purpose? Heck ya, railroad my adventure for some chase through the woods? Yeah, have a bandit party with a troll and a spell caster, bitches. How you like me now?

DM Comment 2: They cried more when the troll was not effected by the magical sleep spell and then when I pulled out a spell cast to cast sleep on them! Whiney little fuckers! You'd think I had a bunch of millennial 5e players instead of some cool old school guys.

DM Comment 3: Here is the real thing. Dosta cast sleep on the Fungal Men in the cave. Then two hours later (we discussed this and the players suggested that 2 hours was how long they were down there), he cast ANOTHER Sleep spell! As a first level elf. 

I am starting wonder about this group....

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Q-36 Space Patrol Craft


Goofed off a little this afternoon while I waited for people to join a work meeting (via Google Meet). In honor of the amazing job NASA did today with Perseverance landing on Mars, I drew a solid pulpy spaceship. Perfect for the brave Space Patrol crew to keep those space lanes clear for travel and maintaining peace on the galaxy!

A little later I added shadows. I like how this turned out!



Monday, February 15, 2021

Horrors of the Sepulchre Kickstarter is live!

We have launched our zine KS for ZQ3 over the weekend, Horrors of the Sepulchre! 

Horrors of the Sepulchre is an old-school RPG adventure created in the tradition of the classic module Tomb of Horrors, but it's made for the B/X "sweet spot" of player character levels 4-7. Deadly, but survivable for the creative old school players. The zine is packed with amazing artwork by Del Teigeler, maps by Matt Jackson, and written by Steve Cook of Dice Roll Zine fame.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/steve-c/horrors-of-the-sepulchre-zine-quest

Here is a sneak peek at the map I am finalizing for the Kickstarter. I plan on providing both the black-walled version as well as the hatched style suitable for VTT use.

The AMAZING Del Teigler is doing all the interior art and we are planning a separate booklet with just his art DMs can use at the table to show their players what their characters are seeing. Should be pretty cool with artwork like this:


Help us reach our goal, spread the word, and if you are able back the project!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/steve-c/horrors-of-the-sepulchre-zine-quest

Friday, February 5, 2021

Adventures in Marshall Barony, ep 16 & 17


THE CAST O' CHARACTERS:

CURRENT ROSTER
Vance - Yozzat, a dwarf
Joe - Olwen Door-Hinge-Bane, a human ranger
Tim - Raymondo M., human thief
Steve - Dosta Grimm, a fucking elf
Shane - Gordo the thief/ then Brother Allman

DM Note: I missed the count of sessions and left one out when we did some shopping and hanging out in Shiteton, the missing session was prior to the 'Battle of Shiteton'. Thus I have added one to the session count to correctly number the sessions. 

Ep 16. Into the well. - 28 Jan
The party is about to bed down after the Battle of Shiteton when they notice flames outside the Burntwood Inn. Going to investigate they discover a group of people have formed up surrounding a large funeral pyre. In front of the flames is Wolfstan Redmane, saying a prayer with tears rolling down his cheeks. Apparently his son, Bronc, was killed in the battle. Bronc and others who passed in the battle are now being served up to the gods. Wolfstan thanks the party for assisting in the defense of the village and mentions his disdain for Lady Romilda Freug, the local ruling lady. He mentions it was quite a coincidence that her and half her guard left town just hours before the attack began. Supposedly a visit to the distant city of Bourdain. He again thanks the party and says quite ominously "It is good to know I have friends that are not afraid to step up when needed. There will be a time, and I am glad I can count on you."

Next morning the party gather up their gear and head out (a few players forget they have hirelings). They arrived at the well and slowly made their way down. A large dome shaped room lies 70 feet below the well, with large stalactites hanging from the ceiling like a forest of stone. The rest of the party comes down and they discover the chests, a dagger among the bones (which Yozzat immediately clips to his belt) and Brother Allman takes one of the mushrooms for later snacking.

The chests are quite rewarding and just as the party discusses heading up top, two large Crab Spiders drop from the ceiling and launch their attack. A quick use of the oh-so-useful Sleep spell by our party elf, Dosta, and the two spiders are easily dispatched. The group heads back up to count their coins and rest the night (and gain back another damn sleep spell).

Ep 17. Back down the well, and "Should we listen when we are warned?" - 4 Feb
The following day, the group heads down, discovering that the spiders they killed have now been cocooned and entrapped in large spider webs covering about half the room. They set these on fire and begin moving down the passage to the southwest.

Dosta moves forward, using his infravision to scout ahead. As the party moves through the area Dosta and Olwen hear a faint but deep voice that tells them a few things: This is his home. Pests have invaded and killed his brother. That the way north is dangerous and they should be careful.

The party deems that this may be a troll but decide to ignore the repeated warns and head north anyway. (What is a DM to do?)
A small chamber with some candles is discovered, they brashly knock over the candles and pocket the brass candle holders then proceed north to find a dirt filled, moss-covered room with clumps of mushrooms growing here and there. The party moves into the room and suddenly two mushroom men pops out of the ground and moves to engage. Marigold and Olwen sprint to the next hallway but the rest of the party is forced to engage the 'schrooms, which prove quite deadly. A single blow more than halves Yozzat's hit points while a single blow pommels Brother Allmen into a mushy mess. Half the party begins a hasty retreat, tossing vials of oil to create a flaming barrier between then and the upset ' schrooms. They head back towards the entrance.
Doing so however, traps Marigold on the other side, deeper in the dungeon...

DM's Thoughts: 
Its been great getting back into the game again. I am struggling a little with the size of the group. Before the holidays I was lucky if I had three players for each session, rarely I would have four. These last two sessions I have had a full house with six! There is a little too much time with people speaking over each other and in between players each taking their turn. Players have not commented on it yet, but I am feeling it.

THE GRAVEYARD
Grey, a short-lived archer (Shane)
Misstep, wayward magic-user
Able Artone, human fighter - (Christian)
Macros - long-living magic-user (Joe)
Brother Adelmo - cleric (Tim)
Vox - human barbarian (Bryan)
Janos - halfling (Jason)
Harold Flynn - halfling badass (Vance)
Shelzabaz the Magnificent - magic-user (Steve)
Caradoc - an awesome halfling unjustly murdered by a callous and vile DM (Vance)

HIRED HELP
Dimgert Flathammer of the Kragagor clan, alas dear friend, ye are no more
Bint (kobold) who they oddly forgot about this adventure!!
Usee (kobol) likewise forgotten  
About ten kobolds who died to avenge their people!
Garth the human (dead)
Izzy the elf (dead)
Too many retainers to count and I cannot recall their names


Sunday, January 31, 2021

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Adventures in Marshall Barony, ep 13&14


THE CAST O' CHARACTERS:

CURRENT ROSTER
Vance - Yozzat, a dwarf
Joe - Olwen Door-Hinge-Bane, a human ranger
Tim - Raymondo M., human thief
Steve - Dosta Grimm, a fucking elf
Shane - Gordo the thief/ then Brother Allman

The game is starting up again, so I figured I need to update this before hand! 

Ep 13. Moar Shopping.
The group continued their shopping and met Woodrowe, the local 'weirdo' alchemist and trader in oddities. They were able to figure out if some of their items were magic or not, sell some, and acquire a lizard that can detect magic in a unique way. 

They then continue to search for more hirelings and enter the Adventurer's Guildhouse and have a rather amusing encounter with an old dwarven war veteran who they quickly learned they could not push around. Wolfstan Redmane, a flaming red bearded dwarf with a right wooden peg leg. They attempt to swindle him and he subsequently kicks their ass. It was great, for me at least. ;) 

Ep 14. War comes to Shiteton!
They bed down for the night and are suddenly awakened by loud noises and activity directly in front of the inn. Rushing out, they find their new 'friend' Wolfstan out directing town militia into ranks and quickly find themselves put in command of a squad. Before them are goblins, orcs and giants attempting to smash poor little Shiteton to bits. The party was up to the task and were able to fend off the invaders, though not before losing a number of townspeople. Creative casting by Steve lead to an illusory dragon appearing and fighting alongside the party, which was quite impressive.

Wolfstan commented that Lady Romilda Freug, of House Freug, had conveniently left earlier in the day for a trip to her aunt's in Bordain (a town about three days ride to the east). He seemed very upset by this. We ended the session with the party worn out and tired from the extensive fighting, but heroes for helping save the little town.

DM's Thoughts: 
Its been a long time since we played. Originally I was to travel for work in November, so we paused and another player offered to DM. I ended up not going (re:COVID restrictions), then we had Thanksgiving. Then when I was about to start running it again...well, I had a heart attack which sidelined me for the month of December (I am doing ok now thanks to the doctors). Then the holidays, and well, now we are trying to start up again! Here to hoping it goes well!


THE GRAVEYARD
Grey, a short-lived archer (Shane)
Misstep, wayward magic-user
Able Artone, human fighter - (Christian)
Macros - long-living magic-user (Joe)
Brother Adelmo - cleric (Tim)
Vox - human barbarian (Bryan)
Janos - halfling (Jason)
Harold Flynn - halfling badass (Vance)
Shelzabaz the Magnificent - magic-user (Steve)
Caradoc - an awesome halfling unjustly murdered by a callous and vile DM (Vance)

HIRED HELP
Dimgert Flathammer of the Kragagor clan, alas dear friend, ye are no more
Bint (kobold) who they oddly forgot about this adventure!!
Usee (kobol) likewise forgotten  
About ten kobolds who died to avenge their people!
Garth the human (dead)
Izzy the elf (dead)
Too many retainers to count and I cannot recall their names


Saturday, January 9, 2021