Saturday, December 29, 2012

Boggle Character Generation

Now, I'm not going to tell you that 3d6 in order -- or 4d6/best3 -- are difficult methods for generating characters.  They are not.  But occasionally my brain takes me on little side trips and I feel compelled to see where they go.

Sometimes, I like to share these ideas with those of you who are good enough to read this blog.

Here's my idea -- use a Boggle game tray to generate a character in one whack.

Here's a pic --

Take 16d6 and put them in the Boggle tray.  3 of them should be a different color -- in this case green.  Shake liberally then set down.  If the dice don't fit exactly, minor rearrangement may be necessary.  Your character is now generated.

One possible advantage to this method would be when generating NPCs.  You could shake the dice and set them aside.  Maybe you only need to know their STR right now.  Fine.  Read it off the dice.  At the next lull in the game, you can jot down all their other stats into your notes.

If you prefer 3d6 in order, here's the way I'd read the dice --

The stats would be -
STR - 9, INT - 15, WIS - 9, DEX - 9, CON -  8, CHA - 12
If you prefer 4d6/best3, here's the way I'd read the dice -

The stats would be -
STR - 10, INT - 17, WIS - 10, DEX - 13, CON - 12, CHA - 12
In either case, I would give 80 gp to Wizard characters, 100 gp to all others.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

NPC Graash [Rapscallion Registry]

If you'd like to contribute a PC to an OSR version of the "Rogues Gallery," click this link.

Graash, Lizardman Cleric

In my Q1 adventure where the characters fought against the Evil Temple of Fraz Urb'luu, the PCs rescued a lizardman from the dungeons.  That turned out to be Graash.

Graash was a valued member of the party at low levels.  His healing was about all the healing the party had, outside of healing potions.

I actually bought and painted a mini of Graash.  Probably one of my earliest paintjobs and it was an NPC.  :)

Monday, December 24, 2012

NPC Doorknob the Daring [Rapscallion Registry]

If you'd like to contribute a PC to an OSR version of the "Rogues Gallery", click this link.

Here's the next NPC --

Doorknob the Daring was a lot of fun to play.  He was tough and capable and he was always willing to fight.  Brash, Sharky and Skanderbag all came to rely on him for opening doors and leading the battle against any humanoids the party encountered.  His sparse talking style was easy to roleplay and it was fun to be "in character." 

I remember a moment when Sharky picked him up by the doorknob on his helm before he could charge into combat against a band of norkers.  Priceless.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Seven RPGs Meme

Here are my seven --

  1. 1st Ed. AD&D -- In Christmas of 1980, I received this very DMG from my parents.  They purchased it from the Sears Catalog (!).  I didn't have a PH or MM, but I wanted this book.  It seemed to hold the mysteries of AD&D that I was so interested in.  I wasn't wrong.  This book as been one of my prize possessions since that day.

    In 1983, I started running my Queston Campaign for two friends, NC and JD.  They had two PCs, a wizard and a ranger, and the rest of the party was made up of NPCs.  Great adventures were had for many years.

    This book is a staple of any fantasy game that I run, even if it's another system.  Good stuff.

  2. AD&D 2nd Edition  -- Later, around 1988, I started running another game for 7 or 8 friends.  "The Questians" was the name of there adventuring group.  We played for about 2-1/2 years, culminating in a grand battle in the Abyss against Orcus and his minions.

  3. Runequest -- There was a period when we played the hell out of this.  I really liked Battle Magic and the way that armor/hit locations worked.  We never really obsessed about Glorantha and all the religions, etc. there, but we did have great fun with the ducks, bronze weapons and power crystals.

  4. Champions -- Starting with the first edition (a thin grey saddle-stitched paperback) we began playing Champs.  I played one character, Bouncer, almost exclusively.  I ran many adventures for friends and at conventions.

  5. Fantasy Hero -- I read Terry Pratchett's "The Colour of Magic" and I was almost immediately inspired to run this game.  Something about the ability to make *exactly* the hero you wanted and the ability to start out competent was great fun.

  6. FUDGE/FATE -- The free-form nature of this game is its great strength, but also a weakness.  It takes a great deal of trust on the part of the players for this to work.  I enjoy tinkering with it and I've had great fun running it.

  7. Swords and Wizardry White Box/Labyrinth Lord -- I've been running the Castle of the Mad Archmage for over two years.  We started out with White Box but then moved to LL.  I'd go back to White Box in an instant.  I think it's just perfect.

NPC Harry Furryfoot [Rapscallion Registry]

Happy Festivus everyone!

If you'd like to contribute a PC to my OSR "Rogues Gallery" please click this link.

Here's my next NPC --

Harry Furryfoot (yeah, I know, not original) was a stealthy sidekick to Brash Blunderbuss.  He was a little bit of comic relief and he was the only one who could find and remove those pesky traps.  I didn't run him as a DM pet; the PC's had to almost direct him when they needed him to do those "thiefly" things.

The "Gold Dragon Elf Charm" was a magic item in my campaign where you roll 2d6 for an extra saving throw in dire circumstances --

  • I'm falling off the top of a tall building
  • I'm falling into a pit of acid
  • I've just been immolated by an ancient red dragon
If you roll a 7 or 11, some miraculous, unbelievable coincidence saves you.
  • There's a haywagon at the bottom of the wall
  • An acid snake looms up out of the acid and you grab it by the fangs
  • The dragon sputters and belches out smoke instead of fire, giving you an opportunity to scramble to safety
The circumstances you find yourself in aren't always better, but you are still kicking.  Works twice per day.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Queston NPCs and ALL CALL

TL:DR -- I share NPCs and I call for submissions for the "Rapscallion Registry" a new, OSR version of the old TSR "Rogues Gallery"

In 1983, I started my Queston campaign world.  It was a mish-mash of bad puns, some clever ideas and a lot of fun.  I always think of Queston as a funny, slightly silly world where the comic heroes face real, dark horrors and evil.  In any case, I think that most who adventure there enjoy it.  I know that I enjoy running games there.

My recent CotMA campaign has added to the mythology by fleshing out parts of Whair (a large island to the East) and continues to be great fun.

Back in 1983, however, most adventures took place on the central continent with its dominant Fyrkingdom.  (hat tip to Ralph Bakshi's Fire and Ice)

Anyway, in the spring of 1983, I turned 16.  I got a car (thanks Dad!)  He gave me his old Buick Electra 225.  It looked like this, but the Arizona sun had pretty much ruined its paint.
With a car came responsibilities and a job.  With a job, came cash!

I started working that summer at a golf course -- for $3.35 an hour! -- and eventually I got a job as a cook at KFC.

I paid for my insurance and my gas and I started buying gaming stuff, most of which I still have today.

One item I purchased was the Rogues Gallery.  I really used this product a lot for on the spot NPCs.  I also REALLY love the section of characters from the original games.  That section is where this product really shines.

I set about writing up NPCs for my Queston game and I put them in a ring binder for use in my games. Here's the first one.

Brash was an NPC that had a friendly rivalry with Sharky Dangerthorn in my game.  He was always trying to one-up Sharky.  Usually, Brash was able to bed the tavern wench whereas Sharky would win the big pot at the local Orcish Nod game.  Brash was the literal "wall that walks like a man" and was valuable for keeping the tiny party of PCs (two) alive during adventures.  We just didn't do hirelings back in the day...

Now, if you'd like to contribute a favorite PC from any of your games -- please fill out the form below. I'd love to compile all the PCs of days gone by into a book, like Rogues Gallery, that could be purchased from Lulu POD.  Many thanks in advance for your contributions!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bookshelves Meme

I'm not sure if I'm too late to this party or not, but here they are -- my messy gaming shelves:
Here's a prototype 3D dungeon mat, some MageKnight dragons and some dollar store gargoyles that I plan to use as giant statues someday...

A bunch of old AD&D modules, Judges Guild stuff, and some other odds and ends.

AD&D 1st and 2nd edition hardbacks, OSRIC, ACKS, Dungeon Tiles, etc.

Hero System stuff, Arduin, Secret Fire, My set of Citybooks, FUDGE stuff and Tunnels and Trolls

Misc stuff -- there are Dragon Magazines, White Dwarfs and Dungeoneers in those white boxes

More Dragons and some odds and ends -- 

Binders of printouts, misc. projects (poorly labeled), the new Rappan Athuk, Matt Finch's Tome of Adventure Design, Paizo cards

Printer drawers with painted and unpainted minis in them.  I have tons more boxes yet to paint and I have the Reaper Bones Kickstarter coming.  I believe if I never buy another mini, I will die with unpainted minis in my collection.  :)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

RIP Elin

Months ago, my CotMA campaign was exploring the Bone Road in search of the Everfrost.  The Everfrost is a crystal of immense cold that is the only thing capable of melting down Collen's broken frostbrand so it can be reforged.

The characters found the location of some extra-dimensional chambers, known as the Wheel of the Year, and they set out to defeat each guardian within.

The guardian of Ostara was a large, spell casting red dragon, named Murmaugh.  He was a canny and rather clever opponent and he was difficult to deal with.  During the battle, he managed to incinerate Elin the Grieved, the party's 6th level Cleric of Coriptis.

Elin had a rough go in the campaign.  Her face had been completely melted away by chaos magic.  Now she wears a mask that allows her to see.  She also had a run-in with the Regen-O-Pod of Uuthak and came out with insect eyes on the palms of her hands.

Anyway, she died bravely and will be remembered for her heroic contributions.

Here are some scans from the notebook Elin's player used to track her exploits.  I found them fascinating.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wizard Level Titles

Back in the old AD&D days, each time a wizard would gain a level, they'd gain a new level title.  Here's the chart --
I had this thought --
What if, at each title change, the wizard gained a small power bonus?  They would only have one of these bonuses at any time.  Once they reached name level (Wizard) they can choose any one bonus permanently.  At 18th level (Archmage) they can choose another.
This would represent the changing magical emphasis - experimentation with multiple eldritch energies - as the wizard progresses in level.

This might not be a new idea - and I haven't tested it - but the bonuses shouldn't be too unbalancing.  YMMV.

Level Title Bonus
Prestidigitator For any illusion spell, the Prestidigitator may re-roll any random element associated with the spell, taking either roll.
Evoker For any evocation spell, the Evoker may re-roll any random element associated with
the spell, taking either roll.
Conjurer For any conjuration spell, the Conjurer may re-roll any random element
associated with the spell, taking either roll.  When casting Find Familiar, treat the Conjurer as if double their level.
Theurgist For any divination spell, the Theurgist may re-roll any random element associated with the spell, taking either roll.
Thaumaturgist For any abjuration spell, the Thaumaturgist may re-roll any random element associated with the spell, taking either roll.
Magician For any alteration spell, the Magician may re-roll any random element associated with the spell, taking either roll.
Enchanter For any enchantment spell, the Enchanter may re-roll any random element associated with the spell, taking either roll.
Warlock For any spell associated with plants or natural animals, the Warlock may re-roll any random element associated with the spell, taking either roll.
Sorcerer For any spell associated with fire or darkness, the Sorcerer may re-roll any random element associated with the spell, taking either roll.
Necromancer For any necromantic spell, the Necromancer may re-roll any random element associated with the spell, taking either roll.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Emergent Narrative at the Open Game Table

So, last Wednesday, I had four players.  Ten players are participating in my game, with six or seven being typical attendance for the night.

With four players, there's a lot more experience to go around if you hit the mother lode or manage to defeat a bunch of monsters.

To be honest, the players did neither, but I do think the session was memorable nonetheless.


  • Oryx Flamebeard, dwarf fighter
  • Grunbar Rockpuncher, dwarf handsman
  • Morgrim, dwarf cleric of Bachontoi
  • Collen Redsides, human figher (with Silly Hat of Infravision)

The players began by discussing where they'd like to go in CotMA.  They settled on level 5.  A magic level, filled with slimes and other aberrations, that they hadn't fully explored.

They teleported down to the level and while approaching a secret door, Oryx discovered a faint, blinking multi-colored light emanating from the room beyond.

"Floating, glowing orb," they reasoned -- and they were right.  These things can be dangerous and they are quite fragile.

Oryx suggested that Grunbar should go out there and "blow on it" to move it down the hallway.  Grunbar considered the suggestion for a moment and then decided to execute that plan.

Mostly he managed to move the glowing ball backward and forward within the room, but eventually it moved out into the hall...

...where it attracted the attention of a group of Owlbears.

Grunbar and the rest of the party fell back into the room and waited for the owlbears to approach.  Approach they did, a bit mesmerized by the glowing sphere.

Grunbar deftly threw an iron spike at the sphere from a place of protection around the corner.  The sphere detonated blowing one owlbear into a haze and severely damaging the other two.  The owlbears didn't put up much of a fight after that.

The cautiously moved out into the hallway and moved toward the strange Moai head that dominates the large corridor.  They were moving under cover of darkness because everyone had infravision!

Eventually they heard more hooting.  More owlbears!

They crept backward down the corridor and set up a trap.  Using Oryx as bait (and his dwarven harness as a tow line) they hoped to trick the owlbears into falling down a covered pit.
Months ago, they had discovered the pit when a few clumsy gnolls failed their morale check and fell into the pit, sealing their doom...
Grunbar (STR 18) and Collen (STR 19) grabbed ahold of Oryx's "leash" and the dwarf started making noises of his own.  The six owlbears charged ahead and the party reeled Oryx in.

Two owlbears crashed onto the covered pit and fell in.  The other four swarmed around to the left of the pit, where Collen, Morgrim and Grunbar closed to melee.  They dealt with the threat in quick fashion.

*** Insert extensive pause in posting -- I've forgotten some details -- Bummer ***

  • The party fought and defeated a couple giant (I mean REALLY giant) black pudding and ochre jelly using fire, guile, burning owlbear corpses, and a flaming owlbear claw/arm.  Well done!
  • Collen fought some flinds on his own - fumbling his frostbrand into the aforementioned pit.  It froze the icky water solid requiring substantial chipping to remove.
  • The adventurers encountered a group of flumphs, whom they befriended with beer from Grunbar's everful-keg.
  • The flumphs let them visit the visage of an angel of Bachontoi, Gabrielus, who told them how to free him.
I'm sure I've forgotten some awesome stuff, but it was a great session and I've been over 90 days NOT posting about it.  :(

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bones Kickstarter + some old monsters

You all probably know about this, but just in case you don't AND you're a big mini fan like me, you might want to get on board.

At the $100 pledge level, you now get ALL THIS --

If not, here are a couple of monsters I created in the '80s.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Savage Worlds Wizard Tips

My wife played the wizard in the Savage Worlds party.  In order to help her track her "power" or "mana" points, I made a little bead tracker using a pipe cleaner and some pony beads.

I color coded them so she'd know when she was running out and also to prevent the accidental "flipping around" of the tracker to "refresh" the power points.  :)

Also, at the Dollar Store I found these little "spell books" from a CCG called Zatch Bell (?).  They work out REALLY well for a game like SW.  You can print shorthand versions of each spell the caster knows (and they typically don't know that many" and put them in the book.

You can also store magic item cards/scrolls/etc in the book if you'd like.  You can see a Paizo item card peeking out from behind her spells...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Savage Worlds Monster Cards

One thing I remember about Savage Worlds was using a deck of cards for Initiative in combat.  Nice idea and it works well in the game.

I found that as I dealt out cards to each player, I wanted to deal out cards to each group of monsters.  I initially had trouble keeping track of what monster group had what card.

Then I struck upon an idea -- make cards for each monster!

Using I made a set of monster cards.  Some monsters have more than one card because they are complicated :( but that's OK.

Here's what it might look like on my side of the table after I deal the cards --

Each player gets a card then I deal these out in order at the end.  Works well and serves as a visual reminder of who has gone and who still needs to act.  The card is removed when the monsters turn comes up.

If you want a copy of my monster cards you can download them below.  Enjoy!