Monday, September 25, 2023

Campaign Journal: On the Road Again, II

Back at it. A bit delayed with a work conference, taking care of outside things, as well as rejuvenating a couple of stalled project and tryin to wake the muse. Things in the works soon...

So, back to the party:

  • Jax
  • Frederick
  • Slick
  • Rondel
  • Orzu
  • and the Miscellaneous Others

The party, after vanquishing hobgoblins and other nuisances, set up camp for the night, being cautious to protect their horses, for some reason... ahem... 

Second watch was disturbed as Orzu spotted movement in the treeline, and Goober barked a warning. Everyone blearily scrambled to their feet as Orz kept a watch on the intruders. They appeared disciplined and cautious, spreading out and keeping low. The party did likewise, taking cover. Frederick took a potshot at one in the dark, one-shotting the foe. Another arrow went wide. Rondel said, "Sleep." Snoozefest. The intruders turned out to be a hobgoblin patrol, perhaps returning to meet their compatriots at the ruined fort. Slick offed them and went through their pockets.

In the morning, the party debated riding cross-country, or returning to the trade road in their search for the next node location. Jax suggested that the road, followed by some dead reckoning off the found map might be the best option. The party rode back to Karnione, stopping to drop some coin with the furrier and ale-wife in thanks for their aid. 

Friday, September 8, 2023

Campaign Journal: Hobgoblins and Lizards and Wraiths, oh my!

The party awoke after a quiet night, undisturbed by chitin wraiths and other nuisances. Our heroes for the week:

  • Jax
  • Bonk
  • Stumbleduck
  • Orzu
  • Fulvus
  • Slick
I began with a bit of retconning - Bonk was not present last session, but the doomed Xusto Goyanes was his best friend in town, so he needed a closure on the matter. After the required cinematic: 

Bonk spoke to Mayor Stroemen regarding contributing to the greater good. Stroemen discussed the ongoing threat and defensive needs, especially with the loss of militia. Bonk has been itching to start stronghold development, and considered this a good opportunity,  contributing a large percent of his cash to complete the wall and recruit more militia. On the condition that he is now referred to as "Captain." Everything comes with a price.


Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Campaign Journal: Homecoming

When we last left our heroes, they had just come over the hill to Neuforde, to discover smoke rising from the town...

The evening's crew:

  • Frederick
  • Slick
  • Jax
  • Orzu
  • Fulvus
  • Various surviving henches

We started the session by leveling a couple of the hirelings, who had managed to survive long enough to become 1st level henchmen.

Prior to session, I had rolled randomly what buildings were destroyed/damaged. Bad news - they got the halfling trading post owned by Evrard Hornwood and Angilbart Tunnelly, our party's confidantes and fences (and that of Elsa Siegmund, the town's cattle farmer). Damaged buildings included the White Badger Inn, Mayor Stroemen's house, as well as the tanner's and carpenter's houses. The party’s house is undamaged, thankfully.

rough scanned and sketched map, red is fire

The halflings were glumly salvaging material from their trading post and sent the party to talk to the mayor. Mayor Stroemen and his lieutenant, Gorman Burscogh, were looking over the body of a chitin drake, a chimera previously encountered by some members of the party. The party suspected these abominations were the cause of other reports of fire they had heard in their travels. While the town's forces had slain this one, two more had escaped, flying east.

Among the casualties were four militiamen and two civilians, including Bonk's buddy, Xusto Goyanes the half-elf fisherman. The party now has multiple causes for vengeance!

Trurok the ogre had been injured and had retreated to his cave to pout. Rondel and Henry Cee headed into the woods to cure and console him, and set up the gnolls as pickets west of town.

Elsewhere, the town was gathering to put out residual fires, clean up, and begin repairs.

Stroeman was most worried about loss of nearly half his militia. He was concerned that he may need to request Hougan Duchy assistance if he couldn't retain sufficient local forces. Especially since doing so would limit the town's autonomy. 

The party retired to the White Badger to drink and consider their next moves. As they drank, the sound of a heavy caravan was heard. Venturing out, they saw a string of heavy wagons that looked something like this:

Something like this, but full of dwarves

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Review: "Arcane Tools, Treasures & Trinkets" by Timothy Dunham

Another recent supplement find: "Arcane Tools, Treasures & Trinkets" by Timothy Dunham.

The document clocks in at 71 pages, with 61 pages of item text, plus an index of items by category (armor, adventuring gear, summoning, etc.), and an art appendix for an illusion item. The publication is Pay What You Want ($2 suggested) for the bookmarked pdf. I sprung for the print on demand B&W softcover ($7 suggested price).

The content is 100 items, for the d100 aficionados in the crowd. Magic items range from minor one-use items to large, bulky items. All of the items are accompanied by an illustration, also by the author. Items are designed for OSR-adjacent games, but are loosely-described enough to be flexible for other game systems.

A few magic items are whimsical, such as the Scroll of Summon Feline (roll it out and a cat appears), or the Bee Holder Eye (a prosthetic eye containing a bumblebee).

Or this...

The majority of the items are useful, but not obviously overpowered: Cosy Bear Skin (a restful night's sleep, with the option to hibernate); Instant Rope Grubs (box of silkworms that manufacture 50' of rope in exchange for crushed gems); Imp Assistant (a box containing an imp in his library).

A number of items have the quality of benefit-with-cost, such as the Helm of Heavy Thoughts (18 INT, but you become morose and worrisome) or Elephant Stomach Belt (18 STR plus endurance, but your appetite increases considerably).

Take your gifts where you can get them....

I like that the majority of the items have a unique quality to them, and don't seem to be carbon copies from other similar publications. Similarly, the items are well thought out, and most have some practicality to them. They aren't weird for the sake of weird, for instance. There are certainly some of questionable value, but creative players may find a use under the appropriate circumstances. As the author notes on the backpiece, they wanted to provide items more interesting than another +1 sword.

I suspect one of my players may get this...

Like many supplements, I can see about 10% of the material having possible utility for my game, and modifying several more to match the tone or qualities for an adventure. Or at least to use them for inspiration for creating my own magical devices. No supplement is going to be universally useful, but we can pick and choose as we need, or build as needed. 

I definitely believe this is a good supplement of magic items, with a fine selection of readily useful material that can dropped into a loot pile for players to find creative uses for. I recommend that people take a look and find those items that suit their personal game. There is a lot to mine in this compact supplement.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Double Review: Monkeyblood Design's "Chewer of Fingers" and Professsor Dungeonmaster's "Deathbringer" RPG

A few weeks back, Mr. Jackson and I decided to play a quick one-on-one game to pass a Saturday evening. For the system, we grabbed Professor Dungeonmaster's ultra-light Deathbringer. And for the adventure, Monkeyblood Design's Chewer of Fingers, described as a "grim, old-school introductory adventure intended for The Midderlands setting."

For those perhaps unfamiliar, The Midderlands is a fantasy setting based on a grimdark medieval England, described by the author, Glynn Seal, as a "green and unpleasant land." Fog abounds, as does a thesaurus-full of shades of green, along with an equivalent number of venomous NPCs and critters. Monkeyblood published the original volume, as well as a number of supplements, via successful Kickstarter campaigns. For people following the current Dolmenwood Kickstarter, Midderlands bookends very well with that setting, and both were used within Red Dice Diaries' "CSI Midderlands" campaign for anyone interested in seeing how the two settings mesh. I've seen discussions that the Dolmenwood setting is intriguing, but some people are less attracted to the fairytale tone of the setting. The Midderlands may be worth a look for people who prefer a darker, more grounded, tone.

So here we go:

I made up a 1st level character of each of the five provided classes in the two-page game system, choosing three to pit against the adventure: a deathbringer (fighter), grimscribe (mage), and plague doctor (sketchy healer/alchemist). Chargen took about five minutes each. More on Deathbringer below.

We considered truncating the adventure, but ended up running the full scenario, which we finished in around 3 hours.

The hook is to investigate and (hopefully) capture a serial killer (the eponymous Chewer) who has escaped from a local gaol.

The PCs started their adventure by saving a "mud cow" for an old lady at her decrepit farm.

Mud Cow
After freeing the irascible beast, the party scraped the mud off themselves and accepted a bag of turnips in reward. Clearly going to be a treasure-heavy session...