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...

Thursday, August 17, 2023

D10 +1 Hex Denizens

Via Reddit: A group exercise of creating some hexes to share ...

Not so much hexes, as much as those singular features or encounters that may be found within:

ROUBAUD, FRANTS (1856–1928) Caravanserai by Gur-e Amir in Samarkand

1. A decrepit caravanserai sits along an overgrown trade road, its only resident a hill giant named Oblex, who reclines within its collapsed walls, carving rough animal figures from tree limbs using a dull short sword. He raises a few goats and feral hogs that roam the forest, and will trade for casks of ale or wine. For a few extra shinies, he will lead a party to the Caves of the Drumming Ghosts in the cliffs beyond his residence, although he will not enter.

2. A hobgoblin caravan approaches, carrying preserved beast-meats and lead ingots.

3. The village of Shropshire perches among the cliffs of the Heagearth Reach. Its residents are wan and pale, yet the village has avoided the incursions of Chaos in recent years. The lord of the manor is Vitomir Birsa, with his wife Luana Brkiæ, provide their protections to the village. Any villager will explain that they are very busy, but may take an audience after dark. Neither Vitomir or Luana will admit to being vampires.

4. The bronze dragon Aythyd lounges in his lair within the Clarengami Tops. He is 900 years old, and recalls the battles of the Cornryn Flats, as humans and Chaos met at the Walls. Such amusing scrabblings and scufflings back and forth! He doesn't pay much attention to such struggles after all. They have very little of interest, unless great heroes or mages meet and leave interesting artifacts next to their broken bodies.   

5. The Lich-Bride Julija Repar and her legion of thrall-grooms hold the sacred Effinggan Pass against the fanatical battle-nuns of the Wynrey Theocracy.

6. The plains are strewn with iron ships' anchors, 100 miles from the closest ocean. They were dragged there as penance by the crews of a vanquished navy a generation past.

7. Barrows and mass graves line an ancient battlefield. Ghosts of the warring foes arise, their quarrels long forgotten, to exchange tales and commune with one another, or those who dare cross their field of war.

8. Feral, bloodthirsty horses bred by the vivimancer-warlord Gavril Florsech roam among the bluffs and forests, preying on unwary travelers and slower herbivores. Gavril was a adept creator, but a poor trainer...

9. Massive stone golems walk slowly in a circle, marching to the drone of some antediluvian song. Their walk has gone on long enough for them to beat a waist-deep trench into the earth.

10. The forest sports woven branches manipulated by a tribe of druid-goblins. The arboreal macramé is comprised of tree limbs, bones, and detritus from doomed caravans.

11. Bird-folk in their aeries trade raw emeralds for old books and scrimshawed dragon's teeth.

Tomas Honz

Thursday, August 10, 2023

38 More "Who Followed the Party?"

 ...Finally bringing the Camp Followers list up to 100.

  1. Small circus, including a trained bear named Bobo, who is a surprisingly adept pickpocket.
  2. Halfling Cultists, frighteningly cheerful.
  3. One of more of a PC's alleged illegitimate children.
  4. Crows, lots of crows.
  5. One very irascible possum.
  6. "Influencer" half-elf, constantly painting self-portraits of themselves holding meat pies and ales at various taverns.
  7. Dungeon Dietician: Making the best use of your rations and foraging for fun and profit.
  8. A hermit just off a five-year vow of silence. Very talkative.
  9. A pair of harpies attempting to kick off their singing careers.
  10. Five elves trying to promote a new sport, "hööpentossen."
  11. A halfling gambler of some renown, Two-Thumbs Bogwillow.
  12. A monkey with a knife.
  13. A gnome alchemist brewing sketchy potions. Best to camp him downwind.
  14. A vampire wearing a welding helmet.
  15. A bewildered WWI Tommy equipped with a gas mask, entrenching tool, and Lee-Enfield with 50 rounds of .303.
  16. Claustrophobic minotaur.
  17. Someone's mother: Constantly fussing over everyone to wash their hands and have dry socks.
  18. Two Spartan warriors. Very disciplined, but a bit self-important.
  19. Halfling-driven chuckwagon. You are the envy of adventuring parties everywhere.
  20. An intelligent swarm of bats. Communicate by flying formations to play charades.
  21. A poncy Landsknecht wearing bright motley and wielding a two-hander.
  22. A Witchhunter with a portable library of anti-heretical literature. Completely ineffective at recognizing spellcasters and heretics.
  23. Bounty hunter with a repeating crossbow, a bloodhound, and a sheaf of "wanted" posters.
  24. Killer automaton, nigh-unstoppable. Keeps asking for "Sarakonnor" in every town.
  25. A pair of siege engineers. "Trebuchet is the solution to everything."
  26. A gnome artisan specializing in erotic woodcarvings.
  27. The tabaxi cheerleading team.
  28. Knight-errant, constantly affronted, will periodically challenge duels at crossroads and bridges.
  29. A hill giant named Toby. Wears a very revealing macramé breachclout.
  30. Doom-saying fortune-teller. Constantly followed by a small raincloud.
  31. A platoon of gnoll halberdiers. 30% chance of changing sides in the middle of battle.
  32. An aranea with several charmed minions, may abscond with one of your porters.
  33. Birdwatching elf. Makes random stops and shushes party to make observations. Not amused by people giggling at "greater tit."
  34. A wandering monk, a master of seven styles. Occasionally attracts vengeful ninjas.
  35. Vengeful ninjas.
  36. Explorer claiming to be from the center of the earth. Fascinated by nightfall.
  37. Mage with a collection of magic staves carried in a golf bag by a goblin caddy.
  38. Seven dwarves. Become very cross when you call them by adjectives.

Updated Chartopia roller