Doing Evil in the name of Good is still Good Right? Session 5 of my OSE game

This time we had three players, my good friend Stan, Ryan of the THAC0 blog and Todd of Third Kingdom Games.

Characters included the following PC’s and Retainers:

Gimbaya, Hobgoblin warrior woman,

Abbeye Softpaws, level 4 Lawful cleric (Stan)

Lance, Level 2 Neutral Fighter

Drucilla, Level 2 Lawful Magic User

Ruben, Level 3 Lawful Fighter (Ryan)

Annie, Level 3 Lawful Cleric

Sanken Tonni, Level 3 Neutral Fighter (Todd)

Barto the Bold, Level 1 Neutral Magic User

Encountered were the following:

a Merchant in Dunmore, along with his retainers

Farmer Brown, now proud owner of a cart and mule

Barin and Fergus, Level 1 Lawful Dwarves rescued from ogres

Nain, deceased Dwarf

Bill and Bob, two ogres, deceased

an army of skeletons, some slain, some turned, some under command of Barto the Bold

Our group met in the Brass bell, and divided up the loot from their last adventure, retaining the jewelry as a more compact form of currency than coin, except for a sapphire they sold to an insistent and slightly glazed over merchant, who said “She likes Blue” when asked why he so wanted a particular stone. The group had already checked for magic and had found none. There was a discussion about carrying coin, and I had become very used to DFRPG’s 255 coins to a pound as opposed to the 10 coins to a pound model of these older games. In any case, they sold it and reupped their supplies, upgraded Abbeye to plate mail, and passed her chainmail to Gimbaya to wear instead of her leather scale, bought a mule and cart, along with a door for the tower.

After bringing the door to their demesne, and checking to see if anyone could hang it by rolling for background skills, it was determined that both Sanken and her retainer Barto had been shipwrights, and had skill enough to install the door to the tower. The other backgrounds had Annie as a candlestick maker, and Abbeye as a baker, but no butcher was to be found; Ruben was a bowyer/fletcher, and Lance had been apprenticed to a cartographer, which had spurred his interest in adventure, and his skill with a schematic is probably what lead to the right size door being ordered. Drusilla was a Lorimer, which I had to look up, so she made spurs and the metal bits on tack and harness. That Todd’s characters were woodworkers of a sort was hilarious, as Todd is a master carpenter and cabinetmaker, as well as being a prolific game designer.

After a check in, threat session with their goblin tenements, they spent an uneventful night before heading out on the hobgoblins’ pole boat, and headed upriver. I kept rolling shit for encounters, so they got to a safe place to drag the boat onto the shore and make camp. Late that night, they heard noise and everyone got up and discovered some ogres arguing over whether it was better to boil dwarves before roasting them or to tenderize them by beating them into a paste and then grilling them. One bragged about eating “Coshig,” which he describes as a cow stuffed with a sheep and a piglet then stuffed into the sheep, but the other cut him off and told him the only thing he had ever seen him stuff into a sheep was himself… and a fight broke out. The party hailed them, and a simultaneous initiative roll resulted in a grand melee, during which Sanken was struck twice, but minimally by the ogres, Lance was injured, and Barto released the dwarves, who joined the party after the ogres were trounced,, although they mourned their cousin who had been surprised on watch while they slept, and also their prospecting gear that had been left at their camp.

Later that morning, after convincing the water wary dwarves to join them with healing and promises of loot, they headed back upriver, and eventually came to a good spot to tie up the boat. Gimbaya was without a clue as to how to proceed, as she always took the overland route instead of the water route, so they headed into unknown territory. Soon, while scouting with Ruben, she found a large encampment of skeletal warriors practicing in unison with their spears, and ignoring everything else. The party formed a brilliant plan, which involved first missile fire, a wall of flaming oil, then turning by both clerics, but discovered (after wasting oil) that because the skellys had been told to keep practicing until told otherwise, that they were fairly easy pickings, and they were able to eliminate over a dozen, and turned another 9, who regrouped and started practicing again. Searching the remains of the camp, they found the body of a backstabbed officer who had a baton marked with the same 4 horned goat skull as was on the skeleton’s shields.

Barto grabbed the baton, and found that by brandishing it, he could command the remaining 9 skeletons, prompting Abbeye to call out “Doing evil in the name of Good is still Good, Right? This deeply wounded Ryan’s sensibilities, as he is an Ethics professor. Nevertheless, the neutral characters prevailed in the use of the undead troops as they finally came upon the Hobgoblin’s ring fort. This meant an end to the evening, as it was time for Todd to go.

Things learned about playing OSE, included a lot of presumptions about undead from later editions were shared by most of the group. A quick check found that Skeletons, like all undead are chaotic in this edition, unlike 1e’s neutral alignment for mindless undead, and that there were no weapons any better or worse than any other for dealing with them.

A low loot expedition, but the hobgoblins in-lair treasure awaits!

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Demons and Patrons in Basic Era Games

I am working on converting both my adventure Beneath the Fallen Tower and the Redoubt of Hades from GURPS (because I don’t have a license) to BFRPG (in particul;ar my publisher’s variant Odysseys and Overlords) and OSE.  BFRPG is very easy to pick up; it was designed as a quick and cheap starter game that anyone could immediately pick up and play. Old School Essentials is an elegant and accurate re-framing of B/X D&D. A circumstance I have discovered is that while my games feature a lot of summonable creatures, infernal, celestial, and elder entities, BX has no such thing.

Literally, in addition to the menagerie a couple of the druids are porting in, the Necromancers accompanied by the spirits of their ancestors, and the earth priest with his pet elemental, there is a character with elder thing power investiture from an otherworldly sorcerer that keeps rolling insanely good reaction rolls, a wildly talented bureaucrat who summoned a celestial demonslayer, and another player who has a hellhound, demonic servant,  and ‘Spirtitual adviser’. It is a lot.

Neither old school game system has any spells for summoning,  which makes things less of a headache for the DM, and generally kept these editions from triggering Satanic Panic responses, but they do have devices for summoning elementals and both djinn and efreet. Therefore, I propose items for summoning other extradimensional entities, perhaps graded for the HD of what they summon, 1d12 HD, with lemures, larvae, or manes at the low end, and a demon lordling at the high end, and an extra chance for getting something higher level.

   Brazier of Extraplanar Summoning

brazier

This iron or bronze brazier, incised with runes and chased with enamels or silver inlay , is inscribed with the name of a being from a nearby dimension. Any item of this type is good for summoning that singular being, for a period of up to one hour, and can be used no more than 6 times per owner.  For any given brazier, roll 1d12, and on a roll of 12, roll an additional d8. The total number rolled is the HD of the creature that can be  summoned by performing a ritual with the brazier as the central feature, involving candles and diagrams on the floor. The creature summoned may be of any alignment, and this can be determined by random die roll.  The summonee must perform a service for the summoner, but may make a save vs spells (minus the summoner’s wisdom bonus, if any) to resist. Braziers are worth 1000 GP per HD summonable.

Now, you can find game stats for any sort of extradimensional being in most advanced rulebooks, and in a variety of blogs ( such as Hereticwerks  where I got the Ymid from), but if you want to keep B/X formatting, I can recommend New Big Dragon’s Fifty Fiends (available on Drivethrurpg for only a buck!)

And for that matter, you can get a bunch of neat pictures of demons from me too!

(Or from Jeremy Hart )

And now that demons are in play, what about patrons? DCC did this excellently, but here I have

20 answers to the question: What does your warlock’s patron want in exchange for power?

1 to spread chaos! Go out there and blow shit up!

2 to be entertained.  They are bored, and find your actions interesting…until they don’t.

3 to be amused. They find the supplicant ridiculous, even pathetic. 

4 to annoy a rival, by showing them up with their own fancy minions.

5 to annoy a rival, by encouraging the destruction of their (equally) nefarious plan.

6 to spread their own influence; use of their powers tags an area with their signature,  the entity with the most tags wins something, as if our world was a boardgame to them.

7 to manifest themselves in our world; the more their power is used, the greater their ability to enter our plane.

8 to void excess energy that is causing them etheric indigestion. 

9 to silence your yapping. You are annoying, but not yet worth the bother of destroying.

10 to alleviate the irritation of the sense of debt; the entity cannot tolerate supplication without response; it itches.

11 to appease their sense of vanity. They desire worship.

12 to appease their curiosity. Whatever will the minion do with a little power.

13 to appease their hunger. Blood and Souls!

14 to appease their hunger. Only creatures empowered by and flavored like them can fulfill their hideous appetites

15 to appease their unnatural lust. Only creatures empowered and flavored like them can fulfill their hideous appetites.

16 to better observe our plane. Buying a pair of eyes is cheaper than actually manifesting.

17 to relieve their aching loneliness. Being immortal makes it hard to keep friends.

18 to pay a gambling debt. The being is making the pact because of an unfortunate forfeiture on a wager.

19 to pay back a favor. The summoning and binding spells are vestiges of an ancient promise made to someone who liberated the being from imprisonment, and then forgot that they were still active.

20 to be left alone. Power is cast out to deflect contact.

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The way I Roll

No bad/wrong fun. You play the games you like, the way you most enjoy. I happen to enjoy a certain style of play, and am particularly enamored with a particular system that I have played with for some years.

I started gaming in 1981, and have played with a variety of systems. The ones I remember were Basic D&D, along with 1e and 2e, Star Frontiers, Top Secret, Gatecrasher, Paranoia, Toon, Palladium Fantasy and Rifts, CoC, Twilight 2000, Both MSH and DC Heroes, V&V, Cyberpunk 2020, Fasa Star Wars, and early WoD, in its original form, LARP, and ported to GURPS.

I have played GURPS  since 1989, and enjoyed a number of translations of other settings, principally CoC and VtM. I discovered skill systems in 2e, and am a firm believer in your character having competencies that are measurable  and checkable with probability as well as roleplay. The description is always integral to the resolution, the numbers are a mechanic that determines success, much the way more than mere intent is neccessary to resolve things like combat. Do you remember the thing, or were you asleep during that class? Can you make a positive impression, (or do you have spinach stuck in your teeth, or did your voice crack)? Can you craft something on the fly, or jimmie a lock in the dark? Do you recognize the noble’s house by their heraldry, and do you know their properand preferred form of address?

I stopped playing for about ten years, and when I started up, I collected every retroclone I could find, and have had tabletop experience with DCC and SW:CL, as well as GURPS. I have also read Torchbearer, Fate, Mothership, and Dungeon World.

For the last 6 years, I have run GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. As I recently told someone, my style of play involves deep construction of a sandboxy world, that has both a measure of secrets and an internal consistency that requires building on my part. My need for this is partly tied to a memory problem I have. Players shape the world, according to the limits and abilities of their character concept. They also do some shaping of the world during character creation. You were trained by a mystic order? They, and their enemies, are out there. Suffered an injury at the claws of a dragon? Don’t  be surprised to see her shadow flying overhead at some point.

Now, we play with a certain set of expectations; these are covered in my online information about the game (the game is a play by post. ) I want the characters to be built from certain sourcebooks according to, or very close to template, and customazeable to an extent within your character concept. Technology is limited to specific tropes of the genre. I take characters at a few different power levels, higher powered concepts are not something I am equipped to deal with at this time.  Expect that your character will be excellent at the primary features of their concept, fairly good at some related things, and not so good at things that are not part of your chatacter’s main focus. If you wanted a sort of multifaceted jack of all trades, you might be good at a lot of things, but not particularly amazing at any one thing.

You can expect that other characters, much like yours, will have their own motivations, dreams, fears, limits, and connections to the rest of the world, and are invited to participate in these aspects. You can expect to have some effect on the world, actions have consequences, and good deeds make the world a better place.  There are a certain amount of fate-influencing conditions that can be built in to a character design (GURPS is a point buy system, so it is a very thoughtful choice to make to include things like this). Advantages like Serendipity, which will always place you in reach of what you need, assorted varieties of luck, Weirdness Magnet, which keeps things interesting, Wild Talent, that lets you try and spontaneously learn things you have no training for,and Gizmo and Widget, which make sure you packed your whatsit when you needed it. There are modular abilities that let you become a temporary expert in any topic, and there are social advantages ranging from allies you have a close tie with, and enemies likewise entangling your life, smaller scale things like “I know a guy” and Favor that kick in in a pinch, but there are no real narrative switches that are player defined the way they are in FATE or AW.

You build your character, and that is a worthy endeavor, and I build the rest.  This is not to say I am giving you a script, but a stage with scenery, lighting, perhaps thematic music, and I hire all of the actors not in your troupe, and write some of their lines.  I keep track of hundreds of NPC’s and their motivations, some with minimal notes, others growing in detail as their interactions with players define them.

A good knowledge roll may inform you that there are tunnels below the city, and that they have been used for smuggling, but it will not tell you that the nearest manhole opens directly into the ninja’s secret lair, because I know all of the entrances to their lair, which ones are trapped, which are guarded, and which are forgotten.  At the same time, someone built their character as a member of the Sewer worker’s guild, and paid to have a rudimentary map of the undercity.

The same way you can build a character who oozes magical terror, and someone else can be immune to fear,  you can build someone who is (expensively) supernaturally attractive and inhumanly charismatic,  and anyone else can have a (cheaper and easier) build that is simply immune to their charms;  A bonus laden roll to use sex appeal on someone completely uninterested will not sway them to your cause, sometimes the best response you might get is a polite “You are cute, but not my type”.  Likewise, a terrific search roll will not reveal a secret door that isn’t there. I usually reward critically successful search rolls with the discovery of something valuable that the inhabitants of the area are unaware of, but abilities like inventing a door when you need one are worth almost half of you character’s base points  (Warp, -10% (accessibility) for requiring a search roll to “find” a temporary door (+0% special effect) that leads where you want to go: 90 points).

Around the time of the collapse of G+, I had been to the gauntlet forae, and attempted to initiate conversations about the type of games I play, and was greeted with the same kind of condescending hostility that I used to only get from ZS and Pundit back in the day, for not playing their kind of way.

My game isn’t colonial, folks are largely exploring an area that was depopulated after a plague, and dealing with undead in the same areas, or fighting bullies, or rescuing a mixed couple from an angry mob. Sometimes they are fighting demons, cultists, and ninja, other times they are helping people the local law enforcement choose to ignore.  One group (I am running eleven threads, each with its own party of characters) is helping a village that is comprised of refugees who left their homeland without their genealogical records, and as such cannot call on aid from the ancestors they have forgotten the names of in order to combat evil spirits.  One group I had all ready to throw down with an alien elder thing, and to my surprise they parleyed, and the dice delivered an awesome reaction roll… now they have it living in their compound – an abandoned set of tenements they are revitalizing in the wake of a set of serial murders and a magical disaster that collapsed the streets. Another team had been accompanied by a GM PC that was a  godborn demon hunter.  The huntress was banished back to their home plane, leaving them to track down a magically moving shop on their own, and the gang split up to try and summon her back. I wasn’t expecting them to want her, but apparently they became very attached to the four armed celestial, and now she is back in the game.

I told someone the other day that my play style and my game were not a good fit for any systems Powered by the Apocalypse, and they asked me why I didn’t want to improve* my game, without knowing what or how I play. It all depends on what your group likes.  My daughter expressed an interest in having me run a game for her friends. I love my GURPS, but, if the game actually formed, I would be spending a bit of time learning what their assumptions and preferences were, and might end up running Far Away Land, Blood & Treasure, or 5e (like the fancy kids play) for them depending on what they wanted. I might go with BFRPG because I could get everyone the books. It depends on what they like or want. There is no wrong way to have fun.

 

 

*What they had said is why wouldn’t you want to be improving your game, but had meant doing more improv (improv-ing maybe should have been improvising) not making improvements…

 

Undead Stock art and reviews

undead cover.png

Just released this week ( and in time for Halloween) is my latest bundle of stock art : Undead available from DrivethruRPG for $4.99.

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I have been doing a lot of work these past months for Gabor Lux’ Echoes from Fomalhaut, and in particular for his upcoming Tegel Manor inspired megadungeon, Castle Xyntillan, and the still-in-development In the Shadow of the City God

in the shadow

 

Two of his most recent items, The Nocturnal Table currently available as a pdf from Drivethrurpg and featuring work by Mathew Ray, Stefan Poag, and Peter Mullen as well as myself, along with EFF#6: The Rising Tombs which has art by myself and Stefan Poag also, both are suited for describing convoluted weird cities at night. As my own game takes place in such a place, I found this rather interesting. The random encounters in the Nocturnal Table go way beyond the old DMG city encounter tables, and into some very strange places. Otherwise boring encounters with nameless NPc’s are richly described run ins with peculiar named personages, each with a distince flavor. There has been a lot said about demonstrating an implied setting by examining the encounter tables instead of dropping in extensive exposition, for example, regarding OD&D. The Rising Tombs does this with minimal descriptions and small notes, and leaves the reader to connect the dots.  In one part of the city, in a sealed community where the swells reside, it is always night with a perpetual full moon. This is atmospheric, but there are some supporting features; The city is ruled by a powerful illusionist, and also the rich folks are near immortal and addicted to potions of longevity… or they may be vampires.  The under layers of the city evoke a bit of the depths of  Dwimmermount, without dumping pages of history up front.  There are, by way of anticipating adventurers who want to burn down the tavern, mentions of an enormous machine that extends into the depths, that might explode like a megaton warhead if tampered with, and the side note that one must wear “sacred vestments” (radiation suits) to safely enter the lower levels of a dungeon. Not only are the routes to this area from a  cheap hotel that H.H.Holmes might have built, or through the green room of a collapsing Theater haunted by a phantom… or through a temple of a rat/plague god. These are not your typical entry by sewer dungeons, and definitely not like either  my  or Hasbro’s  taverns with conduits to the underworld.  Gabor Lux, (known on forae as Melan), for all his resentment against the Sworddream style of OSR derived play, is firmly in touch with the parts of our hobby that are gonzo and rooted in Weird fiction.  It is no secret that I like that style of gaming, as I grew up reading my dad’s virtually complete Appendix N library (assembled as it was printed, in crumbling 35 cent paperbacks, most of which I have been reacquiring from used booksellers), and while a good amount of both Gabor’s and John Stater‘s products are procedurally generated, they go into some far out places that I am happy to illustrate.  That headless undead in my stock art bundle is based on one of the encounters in Nod zine, although I forget what issue.  I own copies of about eight issues I did illustrations for, but there are 26 other issues of the same grade of super detailed and strange hexcrawls.

Meanwhile, in my game, there have been some odd developments.

The group travelling with the  demon hunting celestial Kalima  have decided to try and summon her back to the world after a demonologist they were fighting banished her with a hurled Spellstone. I was thoroughly expecting that they would be glad to be rid of such a DM PC, but no plan escapes an encounter with players unscathed. They are enlisting the leader of a Kali cult named Molaram to help in the summoning…

My Wuxia group has traveled into the megafauna rich land of Veroigne, nominally to collect a rice harvest for the Sahudese population back in Northport, and have encountered the odd ecosystem of the rice grower’s village.  Swarms of stirges rise out of the rice paddies, but are chased away from the workers by a sacred giant dragonfly, from whom the party received a blessing, much the way the other group in the area had their ranger blessed by the Stag of Veroigne, who was somewhere between the Forrest Spirit of Princess Mononoke, and Bambi’s father. Both groups have seen tracks of giant rabits being stalked by dire wolves.

The group that were hired to hunt a rampaging beast have instead decided to try and take over an abandoned castle, which brings me around to an issue developing around my Juniors group. They have been trying to establish themselves with real property (excepting those among them who have Social Stigma:Criminal, who cannot directly own real property in Northport) and I have been using the Base Perk as a leveled one.  Base normally gives you a place that you don’t have to pay rent that is about as good as what you might have, but with a status level of 2 levels lower than your own.  At status 0, that is not much to talk about, in this case, a peasant’s hovel or tenement row house in disrepair. I suppose in other settings it would be a back booth in a diner or a leaky basement apartment.  Making it a leveled perk lets you raise it by one status level per point invested, which means that at 3 points, it is a clean, functional status 0 home.  This group of PC’s are trying to control the housing above an entrance to the dungeon and in particular, to a magical gate.  I had originally had them invest in independent income, but that was only netting half a silver a month per point at average wealth, so I converted those points to base. The Initiate in the group has been attracting followers (not yet bought as allies) who have been doing things like basic carpentry, weeding, whitewashing…etc, that have resulted in the area being upgraded.  A lot of the things I have been thinking of here were sort of echoed in Necropraxis’ blog about Stronghold Achievements for low level characters.

I miss things like the Mansion advantage from GURPS VtM, and the leveled advantage Sanctuary, from the defunct Advanced Goblins & Grottoes setting from Otherwhere dot org, (sadly even beyond the reach of the internet wayback machine). That one let you build anything from the Batcave (large, secret, secure) to something like the airships of Girl Genius.

Minicon Recap

  • Last weekend at Manhattan Minicon, I ran and completed The Redoubt of Hades over two play sessions.

Players were Greg, who I met for a pickup game of GURPS Infinite World, and who has played through two of my other con games, Beneath the Fallen Tower, and Shame of the Deepguard. He played Jelani the halberdier, and made great use of called shots to the neckJelani Character Sheet 187 for Greg

Next was Andre, who has played several characters in my online game, Northport, including the goblin priest of the Erl King, Zeelzeel Shadowspear.  He was torn between Marlo, the thief of indeterminate gender, and Zeelzeel’s necromancer cousin, longtime NPC Razakeel Shadowcloak , who had some zombie allies. He ended up settling on Marlo, due to his love of knives.

Marlo Character Sheet 187 for Andre

Mark, enthusiastic and new to GURPS, was also attracted to Razakeel, became torn between Ofelia, the Sleep centric mage from Shame of the Deepguard, and Thornstripe, a movement and missile mage, equipped with both fireball, and the now off-book Winged Knife. He succumbed to the sweet lure of pyromania, which worked well against the undead being faced.

Thornstripe character sheet 187

Nick briefly contemplated an adventurer, but decided to complete the classic quartet and wonderfully played the cleric Sister Clarissa

Sister Clarissa 187

(Note: her will is 13, not 11)

Nick is French, and my campaign is set in a caricature of medieval France, so there were some awkward moments as I mangled the names of some of my NPCs. He took everything in stride and was hilarious in his depiction of the charitable but severe priestess.

“Good morning Heretic, we are here to enter the Undercity.”

The adventure started in the common room of the Adventurers Guild, which is my conceit for accommodating a West Marches style of play.  They were called upstairs by Bellarius (high elf Agent from DF15), the secretary of Camilla the Quest Coordinator (Agent+Adept) who brought them to her, where they also met with Plutocrat Remulos of the Hadereum (cleric+a couple of social lenses with rank and wealth), Margeaux le Manifique (the apparent sole survivor of that poorly managed expedition by a bad player), and Karlow the orc working for the Department of Acueducts and Sewers.

Due to increased cult activity in the Undercity, several members of the hadereum (12 cultists and 2 initiates) had entered to rededicate a long abandoned temple of Hades in order to strengthen the presence of law amid the chaos below. Two weeks ago (a week before Margeaux returned) they went dark, and a guarded caravan of food and supplies sent to them disappeared.

The route from the Hadereum has been blocked, as something large (the bhole {super dire Rotworm} that came through the Ymid’s Bone Gate) collapsed part of the tunnels. Margeaux’s story suggests another route, and Karlow will be their guide.

Margeaux is accompanied by the ghost  dof her dead husband Claude, who really wishes their wedding vows had included “to death do we part”, and she talks to him, suggesting he keeps himself hidden with the Plutocrat present. (The Hadereum likes everyone to stay dead where they belong)

Claude spells out something in water drops from a glass nearby “Anything to get away from you!” Which is spotted by Thornstripe on a critical perception roll, allowing the mage to see the shimmering form of the spirit.

Sister Clarissa, having higher purpose: slay undead starts chanting an exorcism, which is interrupted by Remulos, who asks her to refrain from her non-pagan ways in his presence (Sister Clarissa is a Triunist, and comes from the Bishop of Sonne, who is currently paying Adventurers to fight wights in the abandoned Monastery).

They proceed to Ashbury’s Abattoir , meet the crew their, and find their way to the ladder well left unsecured when Margeaux’s group had lowered their dwarf sized iron golem down it. This caused grumbling from Karlow, who closed the hatch. Now on the second level, they ran into the terribly hungry and frightened young speaking Otyugh (IQ6) in a catchment room, trying to keep out a handful of horde zombies who fell to fireballs, thrown knives, halberd work, and True Faith. (The zeds had been released from impromptu burial chambers by evil cultists with the Brotherhood of the Dead perk).

Karlow grumbled some more, fed and locked it in its pen and the catchment room., And they determined that the local Sewer employee had been killed by a member of  Margeaux’s group…

They dove into a room that recently held dead to avoid a horde of plague zombies, and Jelani rolled a critical strength failure trying to push the door closed, and instead pushed something out…

Just the TiP

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After this encounter, they entered the pool room, where Margeaux’s party met their demise, (along with a crowd of undead whose corpses were  the scattered about)  along with the reanimated remains of her party. The guild was paying them to recover their guild badges, so they collected all but Timeon’s. When confronted with the puzzle of lighting fires atop the pylons, the mage fireballed one, and critically failed another, stunning himself.

Lighting both pylons (in a very Legend of Zelda way) caused the fountain to spill gold coins into the mildly caustic water (the golem had rusted through in a week). Unfortunately, not lighting them simultaneously (which two people with torches could have done) released The Thing in the Pool, or as my players called it, “just the TiP”. It was a multi-tentacled elder thing that had a fear aura, and laid heavily into the party. We even used a bit of Gaming Ballistic’s Fantastic Dungeon Grappling when dealing with the TiP wrapping tentacles around Jelani before it could eat her.

After it was defeated, with both haste and great haste being cast, and both the gold and the golem’s orichalcum maul, which Sister Clarissa took despite lacking the requisite strength.

They exited the pool room into a nearby storage room where Timeon was holding out, using one ancient barrel of rations for food, and another for used foods, and he shot Marlo with his crossbow, and the tribe accepted him as a member, finding out while resting and healing that he had been unwilling to re-enter the pool room for fear of the Void Brute that Frer Noe had summoned to kill the previous party, and  because he broke his lockpicks on the outer door. Once some fatigue was recovered (including some from Lend Energy) they exited the anteroom by means of Karlow’s key, and ran into a horde of plague zombies

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True faith and great haste again ruled the day, as they cleaved,  mauled, stabbed, shot, and fireballed their way through the fleeing horde, and ended up Fantastically Grappling a cultist who had been herding the dead.

The second cultist ran ahead and opened a door, releasing three New and Improved Wights.

Unlike my previous versions, which were unkillable with an Achilles heel of Silver or Magical Weapons, these had Injury Resistance (50%) to attack forms other than fire and silver or enchanted weapons. Skeletal undead take 2x from crushing weapons, which cancel out the injury resistance, allowing Sister Clarissa to pound the wights, which is good, because two out of three resisted true faith.  Jelani was closed with after missing a neck shot with her halberd, and was the first to suffer energy drain (FP) from the wights. Marlow made a head shot count, and Karlow stepped in, and was eventually overrun, losing enough FP to end up in a HP lowering Death spiral.

Weakened and afraid of Karlow turning, they took out the wights.

Soon after, they rescued the worshipers trapped in the Redoubt, and headed home.

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Podcast: History of Northport

Listen to the newest episode of my podcast,

Ramblings Of A Gamer And Artist: History of Northport

Had some recent shout outs from other anchorites, Tim Shorts

And Larry Hamilton

At some point, I will figure out how to include call ins to the podcast.

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This was a big inspiration, and had a review of GURPS Horror I looked at what it considered to be the weakness of the game, lack of a highly detailed setting, and just kitbashed CoC for it.

GURPS Classic Fantasy

This was a book I used for years, and I borrowed a lot of the setting, Yrth, later released as Banestorm in 4e. Real world medeival folk, complete with religions and all that jazz

Also mentioned: Stonehell Dungeon

Michael Curtis had some stuff I plagerized, like the Plated Mage

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The Glass Harmonica

Seriously, Amazon lists two for sale- jump on this!

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The Giant Under the Snow

You can get this on Kindle now. Giant earth elementals, witches, liches, armies of undead!

Cappadocia

Enormous Turkish underground city

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Ruins of the Undercity

My first OSR purchase! A great way to solo play by Kabuki Kaiser

Lesserton and Mor

What happens after the orcs win the war.

Daggerspell

Katherine Kerr wrote an epic series about a cursed wizard and incidentally did some world building that inspired me.

Swords Against Wizardry

Fritz Lieber describes a megadungeon in the Lords of Quarmall. Gotta have air circulation !

The Chronicles of Prydain

Lloyd Alexander introduced me to fantasy, and to the Gwythaint from which I draw my moniker.

Join my game, Northport

Support my work, at my Patreon

 

Guide to the OSR for the Perplexed

Currently making the rounds is a questionnaire from Zak S. Not someone I follow personally, but someone known to make a good random table. Edit: he is a horrible person to be avoided at all costs. Don’t buy his stuff.

1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me:

Pricipia Apocrypha
2. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark:

Not every encounter is going to be your level
3. Best OSR module/supplement:

Kabuki Kaiser’s Ruins of the Undercity The very first OSR item I purchased.
4. My favorite house rule (by someone else):

I cannot remember who wrote it, but there was a great ruling for choosing to let shields  break to absorb the damage of a hit that would otherwise  bypass the armor class. It Jives well with The Thirteenth Warrior.
5. How I found out about the OSR:

W.J.Walton’s RPG Advocate @the Escapist.com where I encountered links to my first retroclone: Dark Dungeons
6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy:

OBS
7. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers:

G+ for the longest
8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games:

MeWe, This blog, Facebook, Discord, anywhere you find me in meatspace.
9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough: 

Henchmen make awesome backup characters
10. My favorite non-OSR RPG:

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. OSR sensibilities, built on an engine I like better.
11. Why I like OSR stuff:

I get work from it. I love the feel of games that remind me of the early eighties, when I had the magenta box and the phb, and I have always wanted to draw like Tramp, Sutherland and Russ. Now I do, and my work is featured in quite a few product lines, B&T, Blueholme, S&WCL and a number of zines.
12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet:

James Garrison’s truly weird gaming blog, Hereticwerks and John Stater. He is insanely prolific, writing for Swords & Wizardry, and Blood & Treasure and dozens of Bloody Basic Variants, including Grit & Vigor. I love his stuff, and that is not just because he is my primary art patron. Buy his stuff, I am all over it.
13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be:

Peter Dell’Orto’s Dungeon Fantastic. It is what got me gaming again.
14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is: 

Beneath the Fallen Tower. It is published for S&WCL, and I blog a bunch about it, including actual play and conversion notes to my prefered system.
15. I’m currently running/playing:

I run a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy game play by post here, and have since 2013. I am always taking on new players.
16. I don’t care whether you use ascending or descending AC because:

I grew up on THAC0. I prefered to use Len Lokafka’s 5% tables, because  THAC10 was better at describing how low HD critters were; most of them hit AC3 on a 20. I can do the math, it goes either way.
17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice: 

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This one is exclusively to be found here, I got paid double for exclusivity, but I can draw you one a lot like this one if you want.

I can be reached for commissions at Gwythaint.ny@gmail.com

you can support my patreon here

and get a quick prospectus of my work here

Blood & Treasure Monster Book II is now available!

I have been contributing illustrations to John Starter Stater’s Zine Nod and to the second edition of his excellent Swords & Wizardry variant, Blood & Treasure.

After two years of work, he has finally released the Blood & Treasure Monster Book II.

I have 16 illustrations in the volume, 14 of which were commissioned specially for it, but there is so much more than my work to recommend it. Over a dozen artists have their work here, and as good as their work is, it is the text they are illustrating that is the star.

The volume of mythological resources mined for this are staggering, and the content ranges the gamuunt from oozes, to extraplanar creatures, undead, dragons, mutant dinosaurs and fey creatures.

The pdf can be got at OBS for $9.99.

The rest of B&T can be found here digitally, and here in print.

You can get the art seen above here.

As always, you can support my work on patreon!

Hall of Judgement, The Nun and progress on Heritage Mini’s

My kickstarter rewards for backing Douglas Cole‘s DFRPG supplement The Hall of  have arrived: Dungeon Grappling (which had its genesis in an article he wrote with Peter Dell’Orto for Tim Shorts‘ zine The Manor) I got these not only because I am a GURPS DF completist, and because I want to support 3rd party GURPS products, so that there will be more of them, but also because of the art. Doug had reached out to me at the beginning of the DG project, but I wasn’t able to work for him because I only digify black and white; I am not proficient enough in illustrator and its ilk to do digital color. (I will paint in acrylics for you (with very little editing possible), but give me specific proportions. I messed up a commission for Charlie Mason by painting it 8×10, and he needed 6×9) The art he chose to use is pretty damn good. He got Gennifer Bone, Michael Clarke, Juan Ochoa, Rick Troula, and Christian Villacis and also John Blaszscyk, Gerasimos Kolokas, Rick Toula, Roland Warzecha, Cornelia Yoder, and Dan Roy. Both books have a nice polished, high end feel to them.

Being largely norse in theme, here is not a lot I would use directly in my faux 14th century France clone game, but there a quite a lot of nice critters in the bestiary that  I do intend to use, and a very thoughtful implementation of humanoids as Fay creatures rather than rival hominids that makes me think of  Alan Gardner’s handling of the svart-alfar in The Weirdstone of Brisingamen.  I also have to implement the Damage Resistance trait from DFRPG for my creatures that are resistant to non-magical weapons, instead of making them all unkillable… like these.

Now, I just blew a couple of Black Tickets to see The Nun, which is Super-Catholic B-Movie Schlock in JamesWan’s shared universe of The Conjuring and Annabelle. Every haunted castle trope was used, but the set! The set was the thing that kept you from imagining that this was an old Hammer Film. It was a terrific castle with dungeons and a backstory that screams for gamification.  Scooby doo style splitting of the party at the worst possible times, innovative use of  (limited number of uses) Artifact, good boss monster, heavy Ravenloft atmosphere, and a bullshit excuse of why their Romanian guide spoke English. If you plan on running a game with these elements, it is worth watching for that alone.

The Miniatures that I deeply indebted myself to obtain are now primed. These are the 8 minis from the Crypt of the Sorcerer on the left ( fighter, wizard, dwarf, hobbit vs orc, skeleton, troll and sorcerer in the back row) and Caverns of Doom on the right (Back row: imp, vampire, skeletons, spider, rats, Dragon, ooze, Hobgoblin vs cleric, barbarian, elf, a different wizard, that same fighter and a thief).  I will update (infrequently I am sure) as I continue painting them.  What I wouldn’t give for the paints that came with the old heritage sets, their chainmail color was great, one of the closest matches I have found is Aquatec’s  pewter paint, but the consistency is different. I may have to use silver ish craft paint and use an ink wash to get the right effect.

Return of the Blue Baron

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I recently contributed a puzzle room to a collaborative Dungeon project, grab it here for free!

Also keep in mind that I have demonic stock art for sale here

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I recently git a chance to play some tabletop GURPS, in an Infinite Workds game, where I played a Technomancer.

Here is my character:

Milton was an employee of Necrotech, and had served as a handler for Z company during the war in Viet Nam. In 1987 he was involved in an experimental dimensional gate project that ended up opening a rift, a catastrophe  that eventually led to him being recruited by ITWAS.

 

Milton Collins

Attributes: 140 Adv: 135 Dis: -100 q:-5 Skills: 35 Spells: 45 Total: 250

ST: 11 [10] DX: 12 [40] IQ:14 [80] HT:11 [10]

HP: 11 [0] Per: 14*[0] Will: 14 [0] FP: 11 [0]

T/S: 1d-1/1d+1 BL:24 lbs

BS: 6.75 MV: 6 Dodge:10 brawl parry: 10 knife parry:10

Advantages: [135]

[50] Gadgeteer

[5] Gizmo

[25] Magery 2

[5] Resistant to Metabolic Hazards

[15] Unfazeable

[15] Combat Reflexes

[15] ISWAT law enforcement Powers

[1] good with undead

[1] Cultural Familiarity: Vietnamese

[3] Vietn3 spoken: Accented /written:broken

 

Disadvantages: [-100]

[-20] Constant Hazardous Duty to ISWAT

[-15] Weirdness Magnet

[-5] Sense of Duty, Companions

[-10] Lifebane (exposure to excess necromantic radiation)

[-10] Nearsightedness,  mitigated by glasses

[-10] Clueless

[-5] Flashbacks

[-5] Light Sleeper

[-10] Addict, Marijuana

 

Quirks:[-5]

Really into Vietnamese food, noisy eater, creepily comfortable around dead things, claustriphillic, bites his nails

 

SKILLS: [35]

Soldier IQ/E [1] 14

Parachuting DX/A [1] 11

Survival, Jungle Per/A [1] 13*

First Aid TL7+1 IQ/E [1] 14

Guns TL7+1 DX/E [2] 13

Brawling DX/E [1] 12

Knife DX/E [1] 12

Throw knife DX/E [1] 12

Beam Weapons TL7+1 [1] 12

Innate Attack (lightning) DX/E [1] 12

Hazmat NBC TL7+1 IQ/A [1] 13

Computer Programming TL 7+1 IQ/H [1] 12

Research TL 7+1 IQ/A [2] 14

Speed Reading IQ/A [1] 13

Mathematics IQ/H [1] 12

Physics IQ/H [1] 12

Weird Science! IQ/VH [4] 13

Occultism IQ/A [1] 13

Thaumatology IQ/VH [1] 13’

Thanatology IQ/H [1] 12

Engineering, Electronics TL7+1 [4] 14

Electronics op, Sensors TL7+1 [1] 13

                       Necrotech TL 7+1 [2] 14

                        Parachronic TL 8 [1] 13

 

Spells [45]

Knowledge:   Detect Magic [1] 14

                     Seek Magic [1] 14

                     Identify Spell [1] 14

                     Analyze Magic [1] 14

Light & Dark: Light [1] 14

                     Continual Light [1] 14

                     Magelight [1] 14

Movement:    Apportation [1] 14

                     Locksmith [1] 14

P&W :            Missile Shield [2] 15

                     Magelock [1] 14

Healing:         Lend Energy [1] 14

                      Recover Energy [2] 15

                      Lend Vitality [1] 14

M&B               Find Weakness [1] 14

Fire                 Ignite Fire [1] 14

Water              Seek Water [1] 14

Earth               Seek Earth [1] 14

Air                   Purify Air [1] 14

                       Create Air [1] 14

                       Odor [1] 14

                        No-Smell [1] 14

                         Stench [1] 14

                         Lightning [1] 14

                         Resist Lightning [2] 15

E&C                  Sense Life [1] 14

                         Sense Foes [2] 15

Necromantic      Death Vision [1] 14

                          Sense Spirit [1] 14

                           Summon Spirit [1] 14

                           Zombie [1] 14

                           Control Zombie [1] 14

                           Skull Spirit [2] 15

Technology          Seek Machine [1] 14

                            Reveal Function [1] 14

                            Glitch [1] 14

                             Malfunction [1] 14

                             Machine Summoning [1] 14

                              Machine Speech [2] 15

Gate                       Beacon [1] 14

                              Seek Gate [1] 14

                              Scry Gate [1] 14

                              Control Gate [1] 14

Equipment

Electronics toolkit $200

Military fatigue jacket,

Cargo pants, tie dye shirt

Combat boots $80

Dufflebag $40

Re-cased Mac with roll-up keyboard, box of magelocked floppies,$1200

Human skull                    

Assorted electronic components

Hazmat suit $200

Additional equipment acquired in game were a 10pt manastone, a bong made iut of Trinitite that boosted the mana kevel, and a lead jar containing 5 .38 rounds of SPDN. We had a great time, and I want to play again, but am not sure when I can.

 

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