Sunday, October 31, 2010

Maddie the Kid Witch and Mathias her Werewolf bodyguard

My grandchildren look like they'd fit right into my S&W campaign...
If I can find a tiny witch mini, she'll be an NPC very soon...   :)

Happy Halloween!

An interesting statistic...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Attack and Damage Rolls

Fenway5 over at Sword and Shield proposed a damage system that is dependent upon the attack roll.  This applies to human vs. human(sized) targets.

This got me thinking.  What if any attack roll was d20 and d6?  You could roll both dice at once and consult a table.  You'd add all relevant bonuses (for level, STR, magic weapon, etc.) to the d20 roll.  I like AAC, but you could easily change the table to work with your preferred AC system.

Below you will find a mocked up table based upon Fenway5's work.  I've added my own twists (tinkering with the damages a bit and allowing saves for some effects).  I may give this a try during my next game night.

For your consideration:
click to make bigger

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Dungeon of the Ghost Tower -- 4e becomes S&W!

*** Spoilers Follow ***

The Dungeon of the Ghost Tower is and adventure from Dungeon Magazine #182.  If you have a DDO subscription, you can download it as a pdf.  I have a DDO subscription because I play an eladrin paladin in a 4e game run by my friend JD.

Anyway, I downloaded the module because I thought it would be interesting :) to read.  It was touted online as using ONLY TILES from the Dungeon Tiles Master Set (which I had recently bought).  It was this adventure that caused me to issue my dungeon building challenge!  (I will be assembling and stocking my DTMS dungeon very soon!  Stay tuned!)

I run an old school game twice per month on Thursday nights.  The adventurers are currently exploring CotMA.  I usually have 3 to 6 players and it's a drop in/drop out game.  

This week, in honor of Halloween, I pitched the guys a little something different; how about clearing a "ghost tower"?  They were game and we departed from CotMA and headed into the Witchlight Fens.

During the start of the adventure, the PCs met Traevus, a merchant/wizard whose brother had been beheaded by an evil wizard.  Traevus tasked the heroes with its return.  He offered them a reward and told them they could keep whatever else they found -- he just wanted his brother's head back.

So, they started here:
The Z's are "Grasping Zombies".  The zombies had HUGE clawed hands.  I gave them AAC 13 and if the zombie hit with a natural 20, it would grab onto the adventurer, pin his arms, and attack at +4 -- biting with unhinged jaws!  

Wow!  Who knew this would be such a tough encounter!  It went 8 rounds.  No one was able to turn any of the beasties (two clerics tried!).  The Owyn the Paladin and Rolf the fighter BOTH went to 0 HPs and had to roll on the Death Dismemberment and Dangerous Damage table!  At one point, Owyn had to roll THREE TIMES during the same round!  He ended up Stunned x2 and Knocked down.  Very lucky!  Eventually the tide turned; Elin and Oryx were key to defeating the zombies.  Kalen was actually very brave, casting Protection from Evil and then putting himself between the zombies and his allies.

Next came the buzzsaw room!

I made this room 8 boxes wide because there were so many PCs in the party.  I rolled a d8 three times when the party stepped on the pressure plates (they didn't look for anything).  They did see a glint of metal on the wall near #2 (the switch to turn the whole thing off) but they moved into the trap unawares.

Row 2, 4 and 5 were rolled and Owyn, Oryx, Kalen and Rolf had to save or be buzzsawed.  Owyn, Oryx and Rolf all opted to roll the d30 and all but Oryx saved.  He took 2d6 (7 pts) of damage from the saw.  Kalen "went all bullet-time" and was able to deftly dodge the sawblade with no effort.  This was related somehow to his putting a coin in the cup of the ape statue.  Interesting!  

Once the blades had run their course, the party ran for the exits -- some forward; some backward.  Collen moved toward the metal glint hoping that he could disable the room.  Whirring and clunking were heard as the trap reset and then --  CLICK -- another set of pressure plates!  Here come the blades again!  I rolled 3d8 and GOT 2, 4 AND 5 AGAIN!  Freaky!  Oryx, Kalen and Collen all had to save -- which they did and Collen turned the whole thing off!  Whew!

Now on to the tombs!
Where to begin?  There were 2 leader skeletons [AAC 14, 3 hits], 2 demonic bats [AAC 16, 4 hits] and a bunch of mook skeletons.

The clerics were able to turn the mook skeletons who ran for the back of the room.  Some entered the purple mist and found themselves coming right back out again.... teleport?  The party dispersed and attacked the leader skeletons and bats.  Collen was extra excited because BATS CAN FLY and he has a +3 sword vs. flying creatures!  The battle went four rounds, Collen, Owyn and Xavier took some serious damage, but the monsters were defeated.

Collen picked up a skull and threw it into the purple mist -- it came straight back out on the same trajectory it was thrown on!  Definitely teleport of some kind...

The party searched the sarcophagi and discovered a narrow shaft with a rickety ladder in #5 and #7 above.  A faint blue glow emanated from the depths of #7 while a leering, bloated yellow demon face looked back up the shaft at the party from #5.

What to do now!?!?  (more to come!)

Inspirational Art

Saw these over at Monster Brains.  Had to repost them because they are full of awesome!  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Portraits of Tegel Manor

Tegel Manor, the classic Judge's Guild module, is filled with enchanted family portraits.  Many are tricks, traps and are downright hostile to the party.

I found these strangely disturbing portraits over at io9.  I think they could serve as wonderful handouts, if printed, to show to the players as they explore the manor.

This one is exceptionally disturbing; perfect for a matron of the Rump family.

Dungeon Building Challenge II

Earlier this month I issued a challenge to design an Old School Dungeon using only the dungeon tiles from the DTMS.

I've been moving, so I didn't make the progress that I wanted to -- BUT -- I did scan all my tiles and make tiny little jpgs of them for your dungeon building pleasure!

In the files section to the left, you can download a zip archive of the jpgs.  Enjoy!

I will be dragging them into OmniGraffle to make my map.  Each tile is given a number AND an A or B.  You can't simultaneously use the A and B sides of the same tile.  :)  The files called "single sided" are black on the back and are marked AB.

I still hope to have my Old School Dungeon done very soon.  I'll share it here when it's completed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

...and our Intrepid Heroes come upon some Strange Wells...

The Dollar Tree by my house sells "Pirate Compasses" in a four-pack (I ruined one).  They seemed like just the thing to confound the heroes...

You gently take the gold needle out (pull straight up) then you take the compass rose out.  Using the point of a knife, you can flip the cardboard right out.  Flip it over and draw "mystic runes" on it.  I chose ABC, DEF, XYZ just for ease of communication.  I also chose only 3 per well so that the needle could clearly be oriented to one rune only.

It cost $1.08 with tax and I think they will supply plenty of dungeoneering fun for my players...

What Book is this???

Ever since I've seen this pic, I've wondered what book it's in/on.  I think it's great!

I'm assuming that its the cover of a S&W Monster book -- but which one?

Any help would be appreciated!  Thanks!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

I was looking through my D&D and AD&D modules this week (unpacking them onto a shelf) when I stumbled upon The Lost Caverns.

I've never run this module, don't even know if it's any good at all, but some of its elements have been KEY in my Queston Campaign for years.  Very odd.   I never really thought about its impact on me until now.

Here are some of the bits that play or have played a big role in my games since the module came out --

  • Graz'zt, the demon prince.  Was the focus of a major campaign where the heroes ventured to the Abyss to destroy him and...
  • Fraz-Urb-Iuu, the demon prince.  A temple to Fraz was actually one of the first adventures I ever wrote/ran in 1983.  I still have my copy of the dungeon.  Maybe I'll update it and upload it some time. 
  • Dretch.  These little demon buggers were very useful as hordes of minions.
  • Cooshee.  One of the elf PC's had one as a pet.
  • Chasme.  These demon bugs were popular fodder in the Abyss and in other abysmal areas.
  • Derro.  They became the evil dwarves in my campaign.
  • Behir.  A challenging non-dragon dragon.  I've used one in nearly every campaign I've ran since.
  • Gorgimera.  Frequently used as a major challenge to PCs and another non-dragon dragon.
  • Daoud's Wonderous Lanthorn.  Although I never used it, I did make a number of equally complex magical artifacts for my campaign. 
  • Magical Diagrams.  I actually created my own set of diagrams based upon Mr. Gygax's work.
Here are some of my favorite pictures from the module.  I find them very inspirational.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I'd like to thank "A Paladin in Citadel" and Norman Harman for their kind reviews of my book.  I much appreciate their support and their words.

I clicked over to Lulu today and I discovered that 45 ACTUAL PEOPLE (I bought 15 copies myself for family and friends) have purchased my book!  I am extremely pleased and humbled by this.   I am also psyched to keep working on the new/revised/modified Monster Book.

Here's proof!

Thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy!  I hope you enjoy it and I hope that it inspires your adventures!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Keeping Score in the Dungeon II

In my continuing effort to "keep score" of combats (like in baseball), I present test #2!


Round 1:  No one is surprised due to precautions set up by Orc Sgt. on his side of the secret door.  Orcs win initiative 2 vs. 1.   Orc leader closes with Oryx and does 4 damage (they hate dwarfs) and the two orc lieutenants rush for reinforcements.  Owyn, Rolf, Trey and Therin all miss with their melee attacks.  Oryx connects for 6 points.

Round 2:  Orcs win 3 vs 1.  Reinforcements arrive.  They charge into the room.  A lieutenant closes with Hanuman and hits for 3.  Orc Sgt. misses Oryx.  Kalen unleashes a "sleep" spell and 12 HD of orcs are slept!  Morale breaks and the remaining orcs on the other side of the door run away.


Round 1:  The party sees the scorpions in the distance and open up with missile fire.  Kalen misses and Hanuman hits one scorp for 3 pts.  Owyn, Oryx and Xavier do not act.  Rolf misses with his bow.  Trey and Therin throw javelins and hit for 3 points total.

Round 2:  The party closes to melee range and wins initiative 2 vs 1.  Owyn hits scorpion "A" for 6 pts.  Oryx hits scorp "B" for 6.  Rolf, Trey and Therin all miss.  The scorpions attack the adventurers with their claw/claw/sting routine.  Scorp A hits Trey for 5 with its claw.  It nearly sticks Owyn with its stinger...

Round 3:  The party wins init 6 vs. 2.  Therin hits Scorp A for 2 then Owyn finishes Scorp A off with 5 points damage.  Trey shifts to Scorp B and finishes it off for 3 points of damage.


Round 1:  No one is surprised, but the adventurers start off with missile fire.  They concentrate their weapons on the strange looking black frog.  It makes them nervous...  Kalen, Hanuman, Owyn, Rolf and Therin all combine to do him in before he can even attack them!  Trey closes with the yellow frog and misses.  The yellow frog hits Trey for 2 points.

Rounds 2 and 3:  (NOTE: this part of the sheet is really messed up.  I can't tell if I confused the columns or what happened...)  The adventurers took some damage this round, but no one died (I don't know what happened with the "circled 7")  The adventurers were pretty ineffectual, missing uniformly.  Owyn had his shield swallowed by the yellow frog.  Eventually the frogs were defeated.  :(


I need clearer delineations to keep the columns separate.  Its too easy to mis-mark a round in the wrong columns.  The grey shading helps, but I think I'll be adding some heavy lines.  The vs. middle column is important to use, but easy to forget.  I think I need a place to record morale.  The monsters DON'T need to be recorded alongside the hero names -- they go in the "vs." column.  Need to work on reading my symbol key to see if they are useful/useless.

All in all, I like the record.  I think it adds to the game.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My 15 Games

Here they are, in no particular order --

1. D&D (Holmes, Moldvay, Cook, 1st Ed., 2nd Ed.)
2. Champions (the original grey cover onward to the Big Blue Hardback)
3. Runequest (in the white box)
4. Tunnels and Trolls (the light tan version onward) w/ many solo dungeons of note
5. Warhammer 40,000 (the original book that fell apart)
6. Wizardry (on the Apple ][e)
7. Monopoly
8. Risk
9. Star Fleet Battles
10. Puerto Rico
11. Stormbringer (original version)
12. Toon
13. Fudge/FATE 2.0
14. Spirit of the Century
15. Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies

I'm sure I'm missing MANY board games but there you go...  TALISMAN!!!

EDIT: Myst (can't believe I forgot it!) had a huge impact on me as a DM...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Red Box Sightings

In a follow-up to my previous post, I was at Wal-mart again and they have sold a copy of the 4e Red Box.

Here's a pic of the shelf that once had two copies...

I was also at Target (I've just moved so the wife and I are doing a bit of shopping) and they had three copies...
We'll see how long they last...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spooky Town is ON SALE!

A few weeks ago, Christian at Destination Unknown posted that he bought some tombstones at Michael's from their "Spooky Town" collection.

I bought some tombstones too, but Christian beat me to the post!  :)

Well, now this stuff is 50% off!  I bought the display of this bridge and they knocked another 20% off!

Check it out!

This makes me tired...

Just looking at this exhausts me.  Don't get me wrong -- big bad monsters are fine; stat blocks (that are readable) are fine; cool powers are fine --

This just turns my brain OFF in a way that I can't describe...  I'm sure the creator of this beastie is a fine human being and I'm sure that he enjoys his game and kudos to him for that.

I can say with certainty that I won't be running a 4e game -- EVER!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Skill System part deux

Roger the GS suggested in the comments of my previous post that I make the racial skills two separate dice that you can fill in yourself.

Here's a version of the skill sheet with a "write your own" part.

Thanks for the idea!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Two More Bargain Bin Minis

Years ago, I bought these at the Big Lots.  I'm in the process of digging through old boxes of stuff and I stumbled upon them again!  What a find!

I don't remember the game that they came from -- the game involved strange dice that had eyes and were odd shapes (like monsters, statues, etc.)

I see these two as two competing mega-bosses in some fiendish campaign.

Should have put a regular sized mini in the pic for scale.  Suffice to say he's giant sized.  He reminds me of a cross between a storm giant and an ogre mage.

Oh, and he has a removable weapon!!!

This one is like a cross between a beholder and Tiamat!  Excellent!