Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Halflings and Big-folk

More halflings  and a couple of big-folk from Foundry. The female "Robin Hood", the villain (boo, hiss), and the halfling in green are from an old Foundry pantomime set. The rest of the halflings are from a more recent halfling set. There are 3 or 4 more halflings from that set that I haven't painted yet. I like the cartoonish look of the halflings and they fit in well with some old GW halflings I have. Similar stocky build, not the weedy (but possibly more refined/realistic) figures of some miniature lines. These are stout lads and lasses.

I have some ideas of how to use these in some games, scenarios and battles (ala Hordes of the Things or similar rules where you don't need large numbers of similar figures for each unit). The variety of figures gives me lots of ideas for characters and abilities. More on that if or when it comes to fruition.

Meanwhile, I have been enjoying playing various boardgames solo. So far, in the past couple of weeks I have played Race for the Galaxy, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Witches of Discworld, and Agents of SMERSH. All fun solo games with good thematic story-telling aspects, good artwork, various levels of challenge. Some wins and more losses, but lots of fun.

(apologies for the variable quality of the pictures - I keep trying to get good shots, but I can't tell how they really look until I upload them to my computer, and I haven't figured out the right combination of lighting, camera settings, placement, etc.)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Gutzom, Dwarf Dungeon Delver

Over at Tabletop Diversions, at http://tabletopdiversions.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-ever-expanding-dungeon-session-25b.html , in the comments section I offered up a character to join the party. The character is a dwarf dungeon delver. Doodling around the other day I came up with this "cartoony" sketch of Gutzom (and friend).

Other than that, I've been playing some solo boardgames, Race for the Galaxy, Tales of the Arabian Nights, and the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. I have a few more games to add to the gaming queue now. And more miniatures to clean up and paint. (and, as always, more books to read). :)
Currently I'm painting up some more halflings and a few other peoples and animals.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Even More Assorted Miniatures

This time around, a mortar, which I think was a bombard from a 15mm or 10mm set (I forgot where I got this from), but seems to make a good smallish mortar for 28mm figures. The wonders of "modern miniaturization".

A snow leopard, from Reaper. The large cat is the animal ally of a druid (which I don't have).

And finally, Boadicea/Boudicca, queen of the Iceni, from Hasslefree Miniatures. I tried to do a different plaid on her cloak. It's not the best, but I guess it'll do.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

More Assorted Miniatures

First, some halfling militia/home guard and a couple of halfling adventurers with their well-stocked pony, all from Foundry.
Next a female archer from Reaper and a couple of male archers, source forgotten.
And last, but not least, some female dwarf warriors. I think these were from the same manufacturer who did the Highlander dwarves I did quite some time ago. The one with the axe is a weapons conversion. Her sword was too fragile, so I used a plastic axe head from a GW dwarf sprue, a bit of wire, a bead, and some greenstuff, to give her a sturdier weapon.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Oddities (Space and Otherwise)

Making more progress clearing out some of the old lead pile. Some of the figures are ones I liked or that amused me. I don't know if I will ever have any use for them in games. They're just fun to paint.

An alien from Reaper, their Chronoscope line, I believe.
A dire crocodile, also from Reaper.
A dimetrodon. From Acheson Creations, if I recall correctly.
(Maybe I will have to do some sort of lost world/jungle thing, with aliens. ha ha)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Norse Dwarves

I painted up another batch of figures from the old lead pile. These are old Norse dwarves from Foundry. In my fantasy world they are from the island of Smorgasbergen, a dwarf holding founded several generations ago by a seafaring dwarf known as Smorgas Herringsbane. I have a small family tree worked out of him and his descendants to the current chief, Snorkil Gnarlison, along with a map of the island.

I have shields that I think came with these figures, but I'm debating whether or not to attach them.

This finishes up the Foundry dwarf figures I have. Now I'm trying to decide which figures to work on next. Also, I've been thinking about whether to base up some of my old figures on stands for use with rules like Hordes of the Things or some sort of homegrown rules using stands of figures. I could easily work up a number of fantasy armies and still have plenty of individually based figures for skirmishes and rpgs. Of course, I could use movement trays or non-permanent attachments of the individual figures to stands, but permanent stands also have some appeal to me.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Dwarves and Lizards and a Walking Tree

First, a dwarf merchant and some dwarf fighters from the dwarven kingdom of Firestone. Figures are from Foundry.
Assorted dwarf swordsmen, gunners, and wizard, either from the dwarven kingdom of Beerstone or among the wandering Freestone dwarves. More Foundry figures.
Blue skink shaman and large chameleon pet/familiar/mascot. GW figures.
Old GW (or possibly Citadel) metal skeleton, with newer plastic shield. (A little tribute to Ray Harryhausen)
 Large plastic treeman from the Reaper "bones" line. The head and arms were separate, but had deep well-fitted connections making it a breeze to put together for a strong finished piece. Could make for a good forest-based monster or a creature or construct under control of a forest or jungle-dwelling shaman.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Games and Game-Related Materials

While I am slowly chipping away at my old lead pile, with some fantasy miniatures currently on the painting desk, I have also been playing Paizo's Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. I am thoroughly enjoying this game so far. In the past week or so I have played through 4 of the scenarios, playing solo as a single character. I like the artwork on the cards. The wide variety of cards keeps the game interesting, and I believe will allow for multiple enjoyable plays of the adventures and scenarios. I believe there is also a lot of potential for player-provided content and customization if people want to go outside the box.
The game plays pretty quickly (easily under an hour), doesn't take a huge amount of space or a lot of setup time. The rules book could be better organized, but there is already a lot of information on-line at Paizo and BoardGameGeek, so finding answers to questions isn't hard. After a couple of play-throughs I think I have a good handle on the rules, which hasn't always been the case with other games.
All in all, I find the game quite engaging. It's the sort of game where when I finish one scenario I want to go on right away and play another.
I know the game is not everyone's cup of tea, but if you're looking for a solo fantasy game with rpg-like elements I think this card game is worth checking out.

In other news, I understand the Rory's Story Cubes people are going to start coming out with themed 3 cube sets to mix in with the existing cubes when you want some thematic flavor. I think one of the first ones will be a fairy tale set, and another will be a dinosaurs or prehistoric theme, and a third one whose theme I forget (I was distracted by the dino/prehistoric theme). Apparently the idea is if these sets sell well enough they might do more themed sets like them in the future.

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Few Assorted Miniatures

I'm slowly getting some miniature painting done (and reducing the lead pile a bit), and hope to pick up the pace a little as the long hot Summer slowly cools down. For now, here are a couple of archers (old Citadel/GW figures, I think), an elf (from the Celtos line) and a fox (painted to be more dog-like) from Reaper, and some GW lizardmen.
(The lizardman with the blowgun is more than a bit tipsy, having a tendency to fall forward all too often. I need to find a way to help counter-balance that with something to add weight to to far side of the base.)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Here Be Dragons and Other Doodles

I've been spending some time working up monsters and other dungeon denizens for my OSH dungeon crawls and printing out more cards. This has involved some research, in the form of searching various RPG sources for monsters and monster skills, traits, abilities, tactics, and other characteristics (I could use some monster manual books! Not sure which ones to get though. I would only be using them for inspiration and to get ideas about the monsters and other creatures so I can convert for OSH), as well as checking primary sources in some cases (such as Alice in Wonderland). Also, some doodling to get some idea of general appearance and sizes, for my own use.

Here are a few examples of various monsters and minions I have written up for Old School Hack.
1. Basic Goblin Minion (minions are 1 hit point creatures in OSH. They only roll 1 die to hit, so it usually takes more than one to combine their attacks to get a hit on a character). AC 8-10. HP 1.
o Run Away! Add up HP of monsters. If equal or less than the number of party members the goblins automatically slip away. Add them to the next encounter.
o They try to gang up with at least 2-3 per opponent.
o Hatred of dwarves. If they have to choose targets dwarves will be the priority.

2. Hobgoblin Fighter (Guard level, which means they have 2 HP and roll 2 die for attacks. They will give characters a bit more trouble). AC 8-10. HP 2.
o All out attack. They can roll an extra D10 to hit, taking the top 2 die, but are then eliminated.
o Hatred of elves. If they have to choose targets elves will be the priority.

3. Bandersnatch (Monster, larger or tougher creatures that can give a character a tough time one on one). AC 12. HP 1D4+2. Reach weapon. Frumious.
o Fuming (Savage). 3 AP. Once per Combat. If it scores any hits double the damage. 
o  Furious (Fast). Constant. +2 on Initiative test and can move 2 arenas or move 1 and act in each round.

4. Kobold Shaman (Boss level creatures, usually have minions and guards along with them, additional skills, and tougher overall; well, kobolds might not be the best example of the latter!). AC8. HP 1D4+2. Light weapon, 1 hit.
o Dark Gods. 2 AP. Focus. The creature summons the dark energies of the gods it worships. After a frenzied chant dark orbs surround the target.
Attack: Ranged; Hit: 1 damage.
Effect: The target takes a -2 penalty to all attacks on their next turn.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Jellies, Gelatinous Cubes, and Blobs, Oh My!

I was reading about comb jellies, actual sea creatures, not closely related to the other jellies commonly known as jellyfish. They sound pretty cool and some of the information got me to thinking about gelatinous cubes, so here are a few notes and ideas for "spicing" up those iconic dungeon beasties.

Comb jellies come in a good variety of species. Some kinds have long tentacle-like extensions that they use to grab prey and pull it into the jellies to be eaten. Some chase down their prey. Some glow. Some light up with an electric blue color when they are startled. If they are cut in half the two halves can each regenerate over time into 2 individuals. They don't have eyes, but they can detect light.

Some of this already applies to gelatinous cubes (and their amorphous cousins, "blobs"?) in various rpg bestiaries, I believe. But one could "enhance" the gelatinous cubes and blobs by giving some of them tentacles, maybe spread out into a room or hallway to grab unwary beings and try to pull them in to be consumed. Some types could glow, lighting up a room. Some could light up with blue (or other colors) when some danger is near; maybe to be taken as a warning by savvy party members and/or dungeon denizens. Gelatinous critters could target prey that is carrying light (or be led astray by a magic user sending floating lights in a different direction, for example). I didn't see if comb jellies use any kind of toxins, but some of the other jellies do; so maybe some gelatinous cubes/blobs use toxins to put prey to sleep or to stun, paralyze, kill, etc., to make their prey easier to deal with.

How do adventurers deal with gelatinous blobs? Cutting weapons may only split them into 2 monsters, but might be useful against tentacles. Stabbing and piercing weapons, like daggers, arrows, spears, etc, likely would have little effect if any. Smashing weapons might be one of the few non-magical weapons that could harm them. Other things, like fire, freezing, maybe lots of salt, magic spells and magic weapons, could be the weapons of choice. Like the wonderful old game, Awful Green Things From Outer Space, maybe the things that affect particular types of gelatinous blobs varies and you may not know which ones will work until you try them, unless you have prior experience or specific knowledge (Shmucker's Big Book of Jellies, Gelatinous Cubes, Blobs, and Their Kin?).

So, that's a little look at being inspired by nature.

Going off in that direction I also thought, how about something along the lines of sea sponges? Terrestrial or amphibious cave sponges? These could be large less mobile creatures, known to lie in wait at the bottom of pits, for example. Anyone who falls down the pit will have their fall cushioned, only to find they are being swallowed by some big soft sponge creature. Toxins or soporifics could also be part of the sponge's arsenal.

Food for thought, eh?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Old School Hack, Dungeon Delve 2

I made some modifications, mostly to my encounter cards to make the encounters tougher (more minions per encounter, for example). I also wrote up some additional monster types and variations, with a special ability or tactic for many of them, including minions. For example, I give orcs 1 free Charge per combat. That means, at any point during the combat (usually right off the bat) the orcs charge their opponents, giving them +2 to hit and +1 damage if they hit. Some of the abilities, like Charge, are ones described in the OSH rules. Others I made up. An example of the latter is I give hobgoblins an All Out Attack. This allows them to roll 2D10 to hit, rather than the 1D10 minions usually get, but they are eliminated in the process. I tried to give the various monsters abilities and tactics that fit how I think of them.

I ran the same party as the previous test run, 1 fighter, 1 magic user, 1 thief, and 1 dwarf, with the same skills and stats. This time was less of a cake walk for the party.

Here is the map that arose during this playtest. The numbers are the sequence the delve followed. The lowercase letters are the arena types, t = tight, d = dense, h = hazardous, o = open (or would've done if I had had any), and n = neutral. Doors are represented by the colors; no color = no door, green = open, yellow = closed, red = locked.

1. The party enters the dungeon through a Tight tunnel that leads straight ahead. There are puddles of water, making the floor slippery and Hazardous.
2. They come to a T intersection , branching off left and right. This tunnel is dense with various odds and ends strewn about. 6 kobolds spring a trap that drops a net down on the party, but they all manage to avoid it (the dwarf barely dodged out of the way). Then they kill 4 of the kobolds before the last 2 flee.
3. Taking the left branch of the tunnel, heading west, the party comes to right turn. This section of tunnel is Hazardous, with lots of scattered rocks and broken debris.
4. The tunnel turns right again and narrows into a Tight space. Here they encounter 4 gnoll guards with heavy weapons. The magic user tries to blast one with his staff, but misses. The thief wounds one. The fighter kills one. And the dwarf attacks, but also misses. One gnoll hits the fighter, spending 1 AP to increase the damage to 3. The fighter spends 4 AP to reduce the damage to 1.
The magic user wounds one gnoll. The thief wounds another. One gnoll attacks the thief and another attacks the fighter, but neither lands a hit. The dwarf kills one, and the fighter lops the head off the last one.
5. The party goes through the closed door into a small Tight room. Here they encounter 2 more gnoll guards. One is larger than usual (+1 HP). A wild melee ensues, in which the thief lands a wound on the smaller gnoll. The magic user is unable to land any hits. The fighter wounds the larger gnoll. And the dwarf finishes off both gnolls in the end.
They search the room and the gnolls and find one healing potion.
6. The party exits the room through the closed door to the east, and enter a straight but hazardous tunnel. There are various bits of debris scattered about, with some possibly useful odds and ends, like rope, a pole, candles (Although it didn't come into play this time I would have this allow the party to have one minor needed item later on.)
7. Following the tunnel a but farther, they come to a dead end. Hazardous and full of sand.
8. The party backtracks to the straight tunnel where they encounter a group of 6 gnome warriors. After exchanging pleasantries they part ways. (Where did these gnomes come from and where are they going? Since they are heading in the opposite direction to the party that means they're heading off towards the dead end, but they shrugged off the party's warnings. More than meets the eye there?
9. The party returns back to the small room (at 5) and encounters a party of skilled kobold slingers (+1 to hit). The magic user kills one, and the fighter and dwarf each kill two. The remaining 3 gang up on the thief but fail to hit. The thief kills one and the dwarf kills the remaining 2.
Searching the bodies they find 3 GP.
10. They arrive back in the tight bend in the tunnel and encounter 4 bugbears. 2 bugbears attack the thief and land 1 hit, but the spends 2 SP and avoids the hit. The other 2 bugbears attack the dwarf, but fail to get through his armor. Combat ensues, with several misses, the fighter kills 2 bugbears, the thief and dwarf each kill 1.
11. Back around the second bend, the party encounters 6 skeletons. The fighter gets in a mighty swing and kills 3 of them and the dwarf kills 2 more. At this point 8 goblins show up and join in the attack on the party. The magic user kills the last skeleton. The thief kills one goblin, the fighter kills 3, and the dwarf kills 2 more. The last 2 goblins run away.
12. The party arrives back at the T intersection, where they encounter 4 orc guards with heavy weapons and good armor. The thief wounds one, and the fighter and dwarf each kill one. The orc fighting the thief deals out 2 points of damage. The thief spends 4 AP to avoid the wounds. The last orc charges the dwarf and hits for points of damage. The dwarf spends 1 AP to reduce the damage to 2. The dwarf then kills the orc.
The dwarf drinks the healing potion they found earlier to cure 1 hit point.
13. At the end of the tunnel an open door leads into a long room extending eastward. about 2/4 of the way in there is a Hazardous area. At the far end the room closes down to a Tight space. The rest of the room is Neutral. To the right there is a closed door. Farther down the are doors on either side of the room, the one on the north side is closed but the one to the south is open. The entry area to the room has a pit that can only be crossed by a narrow bridge. As the party moves across the bridge it tilts and the thief gets dumped off into the pit. 4 skeletons attack the other 3 party members as they reach the other side. The fighter kills 2 and the dwarf kills 2. After getting the thief out of the pit they search the room and find 2 GP.
14. They go through the open door on the south side of the room, entering into a small Dense room, looks like a storage room. Here they encounter 12 goblins (6 plus 6 reinforcements). The magic user kills one. Then 3 each attack the dwarf, getting 1 hit in which he avoids by spending 2 AP, 1 hit on the thief and 1 hit on the magic user. The last 2 goblins attack the fighter, but fail to cause any damage. In turn the dwarf and fighter each kill 2 and the thief kills one more.
Another round of combat ensues, with the fighter and dwarf each killing 2 more and the thief killing 1. The last goblin runs away.
They find another healing potion. The magic user drinks it and heals i wound. Everyone else has 1 point of damage on them.
15. They leave the storeroom and return the the large room, where 6 goblins armed with bows shoot at them from a distance, but the arrows fall harmlessly around the party. The magic user fires a bolt from his staff killing 1, and the thief kills another with thrown daggers. The dwarf and fighter move to get close enough to attack the goblins.
The thief kills another goblin, the dwarf kills 2 and the fighter kills the last one.
16. The party opens the door on the north side of the room and enters another small room, full of hazards this time. Here they encounter 4 ratmen guards armed with pole weapons.The theif wounds one, and that ratman fights back, hitting the thief. The thief spends 2 AP to avoid the wound. The fighter kills one and the dwarf kills another. The fourth ratman hits the magic user who spends 2 more AP to avoid the wound.
The ratman fighting the thief lands another blow, but the thief spends more AP and dodges that hit, too. The the thief kills the ratman. The last ratman gets one wound on the magic user before being killed by the fighter.
The party finds a helmet that add 1 to the wearer's Armor Class.
17. The party returns to the large room where they encounter 8 orcs. armed with bows. The magic user blasts one and the thief strikes down another with a thrown dagger. 2 orcs fire at the thief causing 1 wound. 2 more hit the magic user for one wound. The last 2 fire at the fighter, but miss. The fighter and dwarf move towards the orcs.
The magic user blasts another orc, and the thief also kills another one. 2 orcs charge the fighter, dealing 2 points of damage. 2 more charge the thief, but fail to cause any damage. The fighter kills 2 orcs, and the dwarf finishes off the last 2.
18. They try to open the last door, but it's locked. The thief quickly picks the lock and the party exits into a 
tunnel that branches left and right. They find orc footprints heading east, so they try following the other branch.
19. They enter a Hazardous tunnel heading south. As they move into the tunnel a trap is sprung spreading sleeping vapors into the tunnel. The thief succumbs and falls asleep. Before the others can do anything else an orc shaman appears, along with 8 hobgoblin minions. The shaman hits the magic user with a bolt, dealing 2 points of damage. The magic user strikes back for 1 point of damage. The fighter also attacks the shaman, dealing 2 more points of damage. And the dwarf cleaves through the shaman with a mighty blow of his axe, finishing the shaman off.
The hobgoblins gang up, 2 per each party member. They miss the fighter, but hit everyone else, doing 1 point of damage each. The magic user spends 2 AP to cancel his hit. The attack on the thief wakes him, but he's probably still a little disoriented as his attack misses.
The fighter kills 3 hobgoblins with a mighty swing of his sword. The dwarf kills 2 more. The remaining 2 hobgoblins go for all out attacks, hitting the magic user, who is now down to zero HP, and missing the dwarf. The magic user was just knocked out though, and after some quick first aid recovers back to 1 HP.
20. With all of the damage they have taken and nightfall coming soon the party decides it's high time to head back to the dungeon entrance. They return to the previous section of tunnel where they are attacked by 6 bugbears. The magic user focuses his energy to increase his AC. The thief kills 1 bugbear, but the fighter and dwarf each fail to land any hits. The bugbears fight back, landing 1 hit on the thief.
Rallying a bit the magic user and thief each kill a bugbear. The dwarf kills 2 more. And the fighter finishes off the last one.
21. Back to the large room. For a change nothing happens here.
22. Back to the T intersection nearing the exit. Another respite.
Night is falling fast outside now.
23. The party reaches the last section of tunnel leading out of the dungeon. But here they run into 10 more hobgoblins! The thief kills 1, and the dwarf and fighter each kill 2, while the magic user tries to Focus his energy. 2 hobgoblins attack the fighter, but fail to hit. 1 goes for an all out attack on the magic user for 1 hit, but the magic user cancels that by spending 2 AP. Another hobgoblin tries the same against the thief, with similar results, 1 hit canceled by spending 2 AP. And 1 hobgoblin tries against the dwarf, but fails to hit. The 2 remaining hobgoblins continue to battle the fighter, but the fighter manages to do them in.

Finally the party exits the dungeon, bruised and bloodied, with 3 hits on the fighter, 4 each on the magic user and the thief, and 2 on the dwarf. The party spent a total of 26 AP, all to avoid or cancel wounds. They found 2 healing potions, which they used. 1 helmet, and 5 GP.

This was quite a bit tougher than my first playtest, and not a lot to show for their efforts. On the other hand, at this rate they will have spent enough awesome points in another session to "level up", which in OSH lets them gain skills or increase attributes. OSH talks about levels, but I don't know if levels mean much in these rules. It seems like it's more about smaller incremental increases in character's abilities.

This game was fun and I feel like I'm getting "dialed in" to where I want the games to be. I don't know if this sort of report is of any use or interest to anyone else, but at least it gives me a record of the sessions, and thoughts about future sessions. If anyone has any thoughts about these reports, their structure or content, feel free to leave comments. I'd be interested to read them. Thanks!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Old School Hack Test Run

Today I printed out my cards and ran a test run dungeon delve using Old School Hack. Yes, a solo dungeon delve, using OSH! I think it worked pretty well, but I did learn some lessons from this test.

I first created a party of 4, 1 fighter, 1 magic user, 1 thief, and 1 dwarf. I won't bore anyone with the character details, as this was a playtest and those details are not very important in the grand scheme.

The procedure I used was to select a rooms/hallways (or tunnels) card, which have various geomorphs as posted previously. I drew a map as I went, placing the rooms and tunnels in whatever way made sense to me at the time, connecting with known openings and fitting into spaces that didn't already have a room or hallway. If the card I drew was a room I rolled for the door the party would be entering through. On 1D6 a 1 = Open Doorway (no door), 2 = Open Door, 3-4 = Closed Door, 5-6 = Locked Door. I may amend that so 3-6 = Closed, and then only test for locked/not locked when the party tries to open the door, where maybe 1-3 = Not Locked, 5-6 = Locked.

After I drew a hallway or after the party opened the door into a room I rolled 1D12 for OSH "arena" type for each 5-square block.
1         tight
2-3     dense
4-8     neutral
9-10   hazardous
11-12 open

1-5      tight
6-7      dense
8-10    neutral
11-12  hazardous

Next I rolled for any room openings the party could see from the first space of a room., 1-3 = No Opening (solid wall), 4-6 = Doorway. Then rolled as above for whether the door was open, locked, etc.

When the party entered a room I pulled an encounter card (monsters, stuff like debris or hazards or traps, etc.). At first I tried not pulling an encounter when entering a hallway, but later changed it to pull cards each and every time the party entered a room or a hallway, even when backtracking through previously explored rooms and hallways. I also gave the party or the DM (played by me in both cases) the option to pull "extras" cards (these could modify encounters, adding reinforcements, enhancements, other special effects, etc.). 2 "awesome points" went into the "bowl" any time extras cards were drawn.

Then I played out the encounter. And finally, if the encounter took place in a room I drew a treasure card. I made some judgement calls as I played. For example, giving some monsters a chance to flee if outnumbered.

Here is the map that arose during this playtest. The numbers are the sequence the delve followed. The lowercase letters are the arena types, t = tight, d = dense, h = hazardous, o = open (or would've done if I had had any), and n = neutral. Doors are represented by the colors; no color = no door, green = open, yellow = closed, red = locked.

1. The party enters the dungeon through a restricted tunnelway, branching off east and west.
2. The party goes right. The tunnel goes on straight with a side branch heading northwards.
3. The party follows the side tunnel, which takes a turn to the left. So far I wasn't pulling encounter cards for tunnels/hallways, so I gave the party the option to pull one and gain 2 awesome points (hereafter referred to as AP). They got 2 goblin minions with melee weapons. The terrified goblins tried to flee, but the thief took one out with a dagger and the magic user took the other out with a quick bolt from his staff. (hmmm, might need to beef up the encounters)
4. The party comes to a locked door. The thief quickly picks the lock and the party enters a room that extends a bit and turns right. At the far end are 5 goblins with bows. The party draws an "extras" card, but nothing happens.
The magic user sends off a bolt from his staff and kills 2 goblins (rolled 10 on both dice!)
The thief throws a dagger, killing another goblin.
5. The fighter and dwarf move to the far end of the room, but the remaining 2 goblins escape through the open door to the south.
6. Searching the room the party finds "1 weapon, player's choice" (I would choose what weapon type this is and it could be used by one of the members of the party or possibly sold back in town.)
7. The party goes through the open door on the north side of the room section with the number 4.
In the 4-way tunnel they encounter 2 orc minions.
The thief kills one in the first round of combat. The dwarf kills the other in the second round of combat.
8. The party moves forward into another 4-way intersection. Going right they find a set of stairs heading down.
9. Not ready to go that way yet they turn back and follow the northward branch of the 4-way intersection. They enter another hallway that turns left ahead. There they encounter 5 orc minions.
The thief kills 1. 2 of the orcs attack the thief back, but miss. The other 2 orcs attack the magic user and cause one hit. The magic user spends 2 SP and heals/avoids the damage. The fighter and the dwarf each kill 2 orcs.
10. The party continues down the tunnel, only to find it dead ends. They encounter 4 gnome warriors. The dwarf talks to them and the party and gnomes go their separate ways.
11. The party backtracks into the tunnel with the bend. Nothing happens.
12. Backtracking farther, to the 4-way intersection. nothing happens.
13. The party goes through the closed door and encounters 3 orcs ("DM" pays 2 AP to the "bowl" to double the number to 6 orcs).
The thief kills one with a thrown dagger. The magic user kills 2 with a bolt from his staff. The dwarf kills 2 more, but the fighter misses. The last orc fails to flee, so he strikes out at the magic user for 1 hit. The magic user heals/avoids the hit (for a cost of 2 AP)
The party finds a "reach" weapon in the room.
14. The party continues through the open door to the west into a hallway that turns northwards. They encounter a single orc guard in the dimly lit tunnel. The orc flees (he will be added to the next encounter).
15. The party enters a straight, but hazardous tunnel. there are footprints in the dust on the floor. I pull cards from the unused encounter deck until I get one with monsters, some kobolds. These will be added to the next encounter.
16. The party comes to a locked door. The thief picks the lock and they enter into a room the extends to the north and then turns right. They encounter a large spider, the orc guard and 2 kobold minion slingers. The thief quickly tosses some daggers, killing the 2 kobolds. The spider attacks the thief, and hits, but the thief spends 2 AP to avoid the wound. The fighter attacks the spider, but misses. The dwarf kills the orc. In the second round of combat the thief does 1 point of damage to the spider, and then the magic user finishes it off.
The party searches the room and finds a healing potion (heals 1 point of damage).
17. The party goes around the corner of the room and finds an open door into the room to the south. The room is strewn with large stone blocks and rubble, making it a tight arena. As the party moves into the room they spring a trap, a trapdoor opens in the floor. Thief and the magic user manage to avoid the trap, but the fighter and the dwarf fall into a 10 foot deep pit. No damage, but they can't fight from there. Before anything else can be done 3 skeletons with melee weapons come into the room. The thief kills one and the magic user kills another. The last skeleton tries to attack the magic user, but misses. The thief kills the skeleton.
The thief and magic user help the fighter and dwarf out of the pit. They find 1 gold piece in the room (1 lousy gold piece! ha ha)
18. The thief attempts to pick the lock in the locked door to the east, but fails. 2 wolves enter the room (DM doubles that to 4, for a cost of 2 AP).
The magic user kills 1 wolf. (I ruled the thief was busy with the lock so I didn't give him an attack this round) The other 3 attack the thief, getting 1 hit, which the thief avoids for a cost of 2 AP. The fighter kills 2 wolves and the dwarf kills the last one.
19. The thief tries to pick the lock again and this time he succeeds.
20. The door opens into a dead-end tunnel, with lots of loose dirt and hazards.
21. The party returns to the last room and finds it empty (aside from the pit and rocks and broken skeletons and wolf carcasses. This uses up the last of the encounter cards I dealt out at the start, so the "day" ends.

Not too bad for a first playtest. I think the cards are working well, although I need to make some adjustments to their content, especially to the encounters and to the treasures. Clearly the encounters need to be beefed up, with shields issued to those who can use them, more guards and larger numbers of minions, and more higher HP monsters. Either that or a smaller party. Because ranged weapons go first and can hit into adjacent arenas the thief (with the "skill" of "unlimited daggers", which can be thrown as ranged weapons), and the magic user (with a staff rated as a ranged weapon, firing off bolts of magic) were very effective. But being more lightly armored (or not armored at all in the case of the magic user) they were also more susceptible to receiving damage.

I'm still getting a feel for the rules, and probably made some mistakes, but still had fun. I think this can work out. More playtests to come...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dungeon Geomorph Basic Building Blocks

I was playing around with my dungeon geomorphs some more and broke them down into the basic 5 by 5 shapes that can be combined to create all sorts of rooms, tunnels, etc. Here are the building blocks, with a few additional ones added, and a few rooms made from them.

Also, a couple of quick examples of how the shapes could easily be redrawn to depict rough caves, which could be mixed in with the more refined blocks.
Of course, these will result in 2-dimensional, orthogonal dungeons, but I could always add in a few special rooms and tunnels as desired. Even pre-populated ones, rooms pulled from other dungeons, etc., to add some extra spice to a dungeon crawl.
I've also been thinking about visibility. For example, maybe I only check for doorways when they are within visible range (line of sight and lighting). For example, if the party enters that L-shaped room above from either end, they won't be able to see if the other end has any openings or not, until they get into the middle area. They may find it's a dead-end, but they may not even discover that until they've completed any encounter in the area first. Maybe light sources could affect what's visible as well. Creatures and characters with abilities to see in the dark wouldn't be affected, but others would only be able to see as far as light sources allowed. This is where candles, torches, lanterns, magic lighting, ambient or carried by the party, or even floating lights that can be sent around by a magic-user could all play a role. Still, I would want to keep it simple. Maybe something like, candles can light 1 "arena" (as they are called in OSH; and which basically correspond to one 5 by 5 tile in my geomorphs), torches 2 arenas, lanterns 3, magic - depends on the magic. I found some simple templates for tracking how many turns/rounds/what have you a torch or light source lasts. Some things can douse the light, temporarily or more long term. Torches and other light sources may also be found in the dungeon. For now I don't expect a dungeon adventure to last so long in game time to make food or water much of a concern, but in the event it could be I would lean towards simple rules for that as well. These kinds of resources do provide opportunities for things to go wrong or right, stuff gets damaged or stolen or lost, other stuff is found along the way, etc.
Of course, it's all too easy to make things overly complex, so to start out at least, I think I won't worry about lighting and just assume there is sufficient lighting one way or another. Line of sight visibility should make things interesting enough for starters.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Dungeon Geomorphs

One of the RPG rulessets I've been looking at is "Old School Hack". I love the simplicity of these rules, and the great graphic design of them. You can find a free download for them at http://www.oldschoolhack.net/ or another version at http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/old-school-hack-the-fictive-way
At first glance I thought they might not be suitable for solo play, but the more I look at them I think they can still work. The "awesome point" economy might need some judgement calls, and may be possible to make a little more objective assuming I get going on playing the game. I've been collecting a bunch of the monsters from the few available sources into my own sort of monster folio, for my own use. I will likely do some tweaking and hopefully add more as I go.

I have also been working on a set of cards to randomize encounters and treasures, for dungeon crawls to start with. I admit I am enamored of cards, because they are easy to customize from game to game, add new stuff, drop stuff, etc. as the game evolves. For encounters I have the main encounter cards, which include monsters, some traps, cards with minor stuff or nothing of consequence, etc. In addition, I have a set of cards to modify or add to Encounters. These are cards that do things like add or subtract from the monsters, have one time events, reinforcements for the monsters, and other sort of temporary or timely things happening. Again, some of the cards do nothing or only add color, without affecting game play. I also have a set of treasure cards, with the usual stuff, from a few coins to jewels and minor magic items, as well as nothing at all or mundane items (some, like a bag of marbles - could be useful, but isn't going to bring in much money; others are really not likely to be of much use, but who knows.).

I have also been working on some dungeon geomorphs. The pictures below show some of the ones I've drawn so far. I also have some larger rooms of various shapes. I will find a way to randomize these (more cards?), as well as where doors are, what type (open doorway, open door, closed door, jammed open or closed, locked, etc.), and "arena" types for the parts of the rooms and hallways, based on the OSH arena types.

Here are some of the elements, all based on 5 by 5 squares so they can fit together well. The inside walls are all squared off, but they could be drawn as rough irregular cavern walls as well. That's just aesthetics and doesn't really have any effect in OSH.

And here is an example map. This shows how pieces can be linked together, with openings closed off as needed. Everything that is gray is solid, impassible.

Using the same 5 by 5 basic building block you could also include special pre-designed rooms/halls/areas. Probably as "one offs". I think that could be a way to include rooms from published adventures/dungeons as additional special random places.
In practice, other than the entry room, I only used rooms with openings on all of the exposed centers of each 5 by 5 square and closed some off as I went. You can see where I covered the ones that aren't open. I just need to work out how to randomize which are open and which aren't. As I type this I realize, that could be as simple as rolling for each opening that doesn't match up with an existing opening in any adjacent rooms or hallways, with something like 50/50 chance of it being open or not.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Test Map

Following on from my previous post I tried out the random mapping just to see what I might come up with. I've tried both having the rivers follow the hex edges and flow through the middle. This example is one with them following the edges. I'll post an example of the other type once I get it cleaned up. Since I didn't have any paper with large hexes handy when I did the tests I just drew some really rough "hexes" (and a few pentagons and other shapes) on paper with pencil, scanned the result later when I had access to my scanner, and then cleaned it all up in a drawing program.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Random Mapping

I've looked around and have also been doing some fiddling of my own on the subject of generating overland maps. The sort of small scale "wilderland" maps where one hex or other unit represents a fairly large area, something on the order of 30 miles across. Inspired by games like Source of the Nile, which I had many hours of fun with when I owned a copy "back in the day", and Adventures in Jimland, which I have also derived quite a bit of fun from more recently, I jotted down some notes and toyed around with generating maps. I'm still experimenting, but I'm hoping I might get more organized by writing this up, and possibly get some thoughtful feedback. (caveat: I'm making a number of assumptions based on my interests, the kind of game and the kind of "wilderland" I want, so everything here is subject to my taste and not set in stone)

So my preliminary explorations have taken me to this point:
I tried breaking down things into a few simple basic categories. So I have Elevation, divided into Low, Flat, Hilly, Mountainous. Of course, these are very coarse categories and meant to be relative, not absolute, nor does it cover how rugged the hills and mountains are.
The other main category I have is Vegetation, divided into Forest, Mixed (a mix of woods and open spaces, and/or open woodlands), and Open (grasslands, heaths, prairies, etc.). As I have decided the area I am starting with has a moist temperate climate (like England, more or less) I am leaving out drier "vegetation" for now. No deserts in this region, nor tundras or permafrost. There would be a chance for swamps, fens, bogs, marshes, or the like. In general terms, Wetlands (possibly with or without trees), in Low or Flat hexes, especially if there are sources of water, such as a river flowing through the area.

The gist of the idea is that a party would start out in a known hex. Their home base/town, on the edge of the wilderlands. The elevation and vegetation can be rolled for or decided by "executive fiat". This could be just a single starting hex or a line of hexes representing the known boundary. There should probably be at least one known river flowing out of (or even into, depending on taste). If there is a river or rivers those would be likely places for the main frontier towns.

So far I've tried something along these lines:
Roll 1D6 for Elevation of any starting hexes:
1 : Low
2-4 : Flat
5-6 : Hilly

Roll 1D6 for Vegetation in each starting hex:
1: Open
2-3 : Mixed
4-6 : Forest

If the hex is Low or Flat Elevation roll 1D6 again (subtract 1 from the roll if there is a river bordering or touching the hex):
1 :  Lake
2-4 : Wetland (based on "original" Vegetation; so, if the original was Open, it's an open swamp or fen; if the original was Mixed, it's a mix of open swamp/fen, with trees mixed in; and if the original was Forest it's a swampy forest)
5-6 : keep Vegetation as rolled above

As the party explores, the map gets added to. I have toyed with various ideas for this. For example, if I want to assume we start out on the lower elevations of some continent there could be a chance the elevation will be generally increase as one travels farther into the wilderlands.

Roll 1D6 for Elevation and compare to the hex you just left:
1 : Elevation decreases
2-3 : Elevation remains the same
4-5 : Elevation increases
6 : special (1 : Elevation decreases by 2; 2-3 : Elevation increases by 2; 4 : plateau; 5 : Elevation remains the same, but becomes more rugged; 6 : Elevation remains the same, but there's a river (cannot flow through any known hexes, so roll randomly for which hex sides it flows into and out of. If there is only one open hex side left the river has to flow out of this hex through that side.)  - these are just ideas, not tried out nor have I really worked out what they would mean in terms of encounters and such)

Roll 1D6 for vegetation and compare to the hex you just left:
1 : Vegetation "decreases" (Forest becomes Mixed, Mixed becomes Open. Could extend the Vegetation types and say Open becomes sparse?)
2-4 : Vegetation remains the same
5 : Vegetation "increases" (opposite of above. Could extend Forest to bogs, swamp, or rainforest, depending on Elevation (and/or ruggedness))
6 : special (1 : Vegetation decreases by 2; 2 : Vegetation increases by 2; 3 : recently burned; 4 : recently flooded; 5 : dense forest; 6 : impassable rugged terrain - these are just ideas, not tried out nor have I really worked out what they would mean in terms of encounters and such)

Roll 1D6 for Rivers:
1 : river turns left by one hex side
2 : river turns right by 1 hex side
3 : river turns left by 2 hex sides
4 : river turns right by 2 hex sides
5 : river turns opposite of last direction (that is, if the last river turning for that river was left it goes right and vice versa. This is to reduce the chance of a "corkscrew" river spiraling in on itself.)
6 : river forks, roll again for each branch (assuming 2 branches)

Alternate Rivers table, 1D6:
1 : river turns left by 1
2 : river turns right by 1
3 : river turns left (1-3) or right (4-6) by 2
4 : river turns opposite of last turning
5 : river forks, roll again for each branch (assuming 2 branches)
6 : special (1-2 : lake; 3-4 : swamp (if Elevation is Low or Flat) or cataract (if Elevation is Hilly or Mountainous); 5-6 : river ends, as a spring or small lake if going upstream or goes underground if going downstream)

Of course, a lot is left to the imagination to fill in details, rationale for what comes up, etc. This was my latest incarnation based on previous versions that I have tried out just to see what kinds of results and questions came up in the exercise, re-worked here in the course of typing it out. I will play around with it more myself. If anyone has any thoughts or actually tries it out I'd be interested to read your comments. Keep in mind, I "designed" (rather grandiose word for what I did here! ha ha) this to generate fairly simple basic terrain of large areas, not detailed in any way. I want details to arise in game play, encounters, etc.

Friday, April 19, 2013

RPG Blogs/Blog Posts of Interest

On fantasy rpgs:
I've been reading about old school rpgs, dungeon delves, mega-dungeons, wilderness hex crawls, etc. and getting inspired to try some solo adventures myself. (whether that will pan out into actual gaming remains to be seen!)
Since part of the lure for me, especially as a solo player, is exploring and learning stuff about the world as I go I don't want to populate a map in advance. In fact, I'd prefer a game where I discover the terrain as I go, too.
To that end, I've been looking into random tables, including ones for generating the maps/terrain as well as encounters, for both dungeons and wilderness. I will create some as needed, but I'd rather not "reinvent the wheel" if I don't have to. I have found some good resources here and there, mostly for dungeon stuff (and taverns, and other things). So far, not so much for wilderness. I'll want ways to generate more permanent terrain and features, ephemera, encounters, tracks and traces, in a way that doesn't produce results that disrupt my "willing suspension of disbelief". I will also probably adjust whatever I find to suit my own tastes and world ideas (like you do).

Here are a few resources I've been inspired by so far:

I found this blog post on http://rpgdump.blogspot.com/2009/08/random-tables.html
in which the author writes about random tables where the first 50% is "nothing special" (or "the usual/something common"?), the next 25% is a minor result (or better than average?), the next 15% is a medium result, etc. Basically halving the chance each time so the lower order things come up more frequently. This makes sense to me for things where you want/expect that sort of distribution which is commonly found in things like demographics (1 large city about twice the size of the next smaller cities, of which there would be 2, which in turn are about twice the size of the next four smaller cities, etc.). It's a rough "rule of thumb", but can give you more realistic distributions. Another example might be if your adventurers/party are looking for a wizard; there might be 8 level 1 wizards in the area, maybe 4 level 2 wizards, a couple of level 3's, and only 1 level 4. Then do a little randomization to adjust the numbers up or down a bit.

aka Dyson's Dodecahedron
To my reader (if there is one. ha ha), if you're into rpg's, mapping, random encounters, and tons of goodies, and haven't been to this site go now. If you ever get back here I hope you enjoy that site as much as I do (albeit, newbie that I am to it, too).

I also want to recommend http://tabletopdiversions.blogspot.com/ once again. I am enjoying his Ever Expanding Dungeon solo series, as well as lots of other inspiring and though-provoking rpg posts (and comments!).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beerstone Dwarf Gunners

The more traditional dwarven kingdom of Beerstone has recruited its first unit of handgunners. Unlike their southern brethren in the Firestone kingdom the Beerstone dwarves tend to be more deliberate in the adoption of new-fangled technologies.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Prelude to Durik's Saga

Slowly getting ready for what I hope will be an ongoing solo rpg game. I looked at a variety of fantasy rpg rules. For now I think I'm going to use Savage Worlds. At least that's what I will start with and see how it goes. I bought the Fantasy Character Generation Toolkit a couple of weeks ago and had fun rolling up a character. It's designed to provide a pretty extensive background, and generate various bonuses and drawbacks, for Savage World PCs for fantasy games.

The only things I didn't roll for were race and gender as I knew I wanted to start out with a male dwarf for my main character (or first character). So, without further ado, let me introduce Durik, son of Barik, son of Burin. Durik is a young dwarf about to set out on his first quest.

Background, as rolled up:

Dwarf Fortune - Bones of the Mountain: Your people are tough as their mountain home. Add 1 die of vigor.
Appearance - light brown hair, neatly trimmed beard, brown eyes, large nose, average build
Age - barely an adult
His family are minor merchants, operating out of a human city in the kingdom of Artesia. Add 2 die to Persuasion; start with 500 GP. His family has been in this area for about a dozen generations, driven from their homeland by war.
His father left home some years back, on a quest of his own. There has been no word, so they don't know if his father is alive or dead. His mother operates the family business and is in good health. He has a younger sister, in good health. She looks up to her big brother and tends to copy him, both physically and in life choices.
Hometown - small town. Add 1 die to Streetwise. It's in a hilly region. Not far away is a dwarven enclave, the small mining colony of Zhul Dhar (The Blue Hills). The family fits into the community and is well-accepted.

Durik's childhood events:
1. He had an imaginary friend, which is actually a guardian spirit. Add 1 "benny".
2. He developed a strong sense of Right and Wrong. Gains Code of Honor hindrance.
3. He received a good general education. Add 1 die to smarts.

Adolescence events:
1. Blessed by the gods with Nine Lives.
2. Continued Education. Add 1 die to Smarts.
3. Explorer: He took long forays into the wilds, often across the border of the kingdom into the Great Greenwood to the north. Add 1 die each to Climbing and Survival.

Professional life. Not settling into any one profession, counted as "generic" in the charts, which gives him +1 die each in Agility, Spirit, Strength, Vigor, Fighting, Gambling, Guts, Knowledge (1 craft), Notice, Persuasion, and Streetwise.
1. Ratcatcher. Add 1 die each to Notice and Tracking
2. Worked in the mines. Add 1 die each to Strength and Vigor.
3. Had time to read. Add 1 die to Smarts.

So, overall, a good well-rounded background. Not particularly distinguished, but with a few lucky breaks that will give him a better than average chance to survive long enough to have a chance at achieving some goals. His main goal to start with is to track down information about his father.

I will add some more details to this post and then probably create another post with his actual stats.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


A large "salamander" from GW's lizardmen line I just finished painting.

You never know, but this could make an appearance in jungle exploration somewhere.