The Backup Campaign

For a while now I’ve wanted to have a campaign, or at least a setting, which we could use on days when there weren’t enough of us present to run one of our ongoing games.  I’ve tried a couple of things as “backup” games, but so far nothing’s really gelled.   We had a couple of sessions of Basic D&D, but nobody but me really digs the rules (and I’m not 100% on them), plus things didn’t go so well in terms of tone for the party (“We suck!” Wendy shouts in the background).

So I had them roll up new characters for the system (D&D inspired but not quite D&D) and setting that I’m using for the kids Friday night adventures, and so far (fingers crossed) it’s a bit more promising.

Currently the party consists of

  • Tomato, a Fairy Witch (Mage/Actor)
    Str 5 Dex 5 Con 12 Int 17  Wis 8 Cha 22 Siz 2 Lk 20
    HP 3  Stam 6  MP 12
    Talents: Cute (+6), Acting (+6)
  • Hurlon, Dwarf Assassin (Thief/Fighter)
    Str 14  Dex 12  Con 12  Int 10  Wis 13  Cha 8  Siz 6  Lk 13
    HP 6  Stam 10
    Talents: Thievery (+6), Dwarven Background (+3)
  • Poden Persas Human Priest of Maner, God of Scales
    Str 11  Dex 11  Con 4  Int 11  Wis 15  Cha 5 Siz 12 Lk 10
    HP 1  Stam 1
    Talents: Herbalism (+5)

Poden starts the game with one Exotic Trait because of her crappy stats (though as I type it up I realize that she doesn’t quite qualify according to my original rules, because of the 15 in Wis, but whatever…not going to take it back now).  She rolled well for that and got a Wish, which she chose to save for later so it will be interesting to see how that will play out.

Because we got a late start, after they rolled their characters, we didn’t have much time left…just enough for them to be shipwrecked and thanks to a judicious miracle from Maner find themselves beached on the shore of the Sea of Sky.  They found a nearby settlement, Pontus, City of Bridges, persuaded the guard to let them in despite the gates being closed, and secured lodging at the Inn of the Bronze Calf.

I was tempted to start them in Arla, the same town that the kids are playing in, for a bit of West Marches style, but decided it would be simpler to keep things separate for now.  Plus, I’m using Amityville Mike’s Stonehell as the local dungeon for the kids, but some of my regular players might actually be familiar with it from reading this blog if nothing else.  One thing that I know is going to come back to bite me is that I used Mr S Island as the entrance to Stonehell, which is going to make it hard to work the “real” Mr S Island dungeon into the setting once I get it further along.  One thing I’m considering (because the backstory for Mr S Island actually allows it) is that the entrance on the island can actually lead to different dungeons depending on circumstances… or maybe I’ll just live with the fact that there’s a disconnect between different versions more than just that Mr S is originally being statted for Tunnels & Trolls.

I’d Buy That for a Dollar!

Just downloaded my copy of
Miscellaneum of Cinder by Jeff Rients (Book) in Games

A book of random dice charts for the kind of referee who likes lots of random dice charts. Broadly compatible with most games involving deadly underworld environs and magical flying dinosaurs with acute halitosis. Dice sold separately.

Next step: putting some of them in my tiddlywiki to use with Rollon!

The Ghoul’s Shrine

Well, I finished my One-Page Dungeon Contest entry and mailed it in.  It was interesting and fun, though I’m not sure that what I produced was any great shakes.  I spent a lot more time than I had planned just wrestling with the format and trying various tools.  I ended up drawing it free-hand with GIMP, using Chgowiz’s GIMP graph-paper template, mostly because that was the easiest way to guarantee that the result fit neatly into the dungeon template itself.  GIMP is far from my favorite tool for drawing, mostly because that’s not really what it’s for, it’s designed as an image manipulation tool; next time I’ll either figure out how to do what I want in Painter, or really spend some time learning either Inkscape or AutoRealm.  I fooled around with the latter two just enough today to realize that if I tried to use either I’d never have finished in time for the contest deadline.

One of the things I found interesting was just how easy and enjoyable it was to write a systemless dungeon; freedom from having to stat up anything at all let me write it for a party of completely indeterminate size, composition, and power level.  Of course, that means that whoever picks it up and tries to use it will be faced with plugging in numbers from their favorite system, but I deliberately stuck to just a few monster types to make that a little less painful.

On the other hand, it was a bit painful and frustrating to keep trimming the text to stick to a single page.  It pretty much precluded introducing any unique monster or puzzle, and drastically cut down on the flavor text.  I think that Chgowiz’s template really comes into its own when it’s used the way Amityville Mike does in Stonehell: a single page for the map, wandering monster table and notes, and a separate page or two for the key.  That’s definitely my plan for my next project, which will probably be a sample dungeon for my RPG write-up.

Writing a Free RPG

The Free RPG Blog: Rob Lang’s free guide to organising your RPG is a nice guide that I’ll definitely be returning to when I try to write up my system notes for my latest franken-brew. The part that I’m unsure about is just how necessary setting information is. I never use it myself, except perhaps to cannibalize it for an idea here or there, but Rob feels it’s the lifeblood of any free RPG. Michael Wolf (aka Sanastar) has encouraged me to include some, so I probably will…

My Appendix N

via The Omnipotent Eye (among others), here’s a quick list of the literary influences on my earliest RPGs:

  • Alexander, The Prydain Chronicles
  • Burroughs, John Carter, Warlord of Mars
  • Byfield, The Book of Weird
  • De Camp, The Complete Enchanter
  • Dickson, The Dragon and the George
  • Eager, Half Magic
  • Goldman, The Princess Bride
  • Heinlein, Glory Road
  • Howard (et al–back then his imitators and rewriters were all mixed in with his work), Conan
  • Lanier, Hiero’s Journey
  • Leiber, Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser
  • Lewis, Narnia
  • McCaffrey, Dragonriders of Pern
  • McGowen, Sir MacHinery
  • Moorcock, The Chronicles of Corum, Elric of Melnibone
  • Nesbit, Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet
  • Norman, Chronicles of Gor (only the first three, and I was way too young to get the sex parts, which apparently got more and more blatant as the series went on)
  • Norton, various, but particularly The Beast Master and Star Man’s Son
  • Tolkien, Hobbit and Lord of the Rings