Sunday, December 14, 2014

Revelry on

Just found the Amazon/CreateSpace proof in my mailbox.  Guess it came yesterday without my knowing.  Usually, they leave large and/or awkward packages upon my front door or in the garage.  Luckily, it wasn't damaged by shoving it in and then back out of the mailbox.

Anyway, the proof looks awesome!  I just approved it.  That means a softcover is immediately available on CreateSpace and it'll be 3 - 5 days before Revelry in Torth shows up on amazon.

Now that I know Amazon is covered, I'm 99% sure DriveThru's print version files will also be OK.  However, I'd feel like a real jackass if I approved that shit before actually seeing the proof and then found out that DriveThru somehow mishandled it or there was an error created by Lightning Source's interpretation of the files.  So, probably another week on that.

Still waiting on reviews.  All I've been able to find is a 5 star "Nice job, Venger!" on DriveThru and a longer, so-so review over here.  I considered writing a tit for tat rebuttal of his analysis, but realized that probably wouldn't be very productive.  Not that Merric doesn't have valid points, just that his expectations are probably a bit off in regards to my style, how I write, how I GM, etc.  And what he said about my short short story seemed kind of mean-spirited.

My work is somewhere between my personal adventure notes (before, during, and after sessions) and what a big RPG company usually puts out, like Wizards of the Coast or Pathfinder.  Those expecting more of the latter will most likely be disappointed.  As mentioned in Liberation and Purple, I've put 85% of what's required to successfully run a mini-campaign on an aesthetically pleasing platter (you should see the horrendous scribbles from my actual session notes!), it's for individual GMs to add their personal 15%.  The combination is what makes it magical.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Concluding the Temple of Elemental Evil

Yes, it is finished.  Faced with the distinct possibility of going out with a whimper, I always prefer a bang, instead.  My home gaming group was disintegrating before me, my only hope was to conclude The Temple of Elemental Evil next session.  That being last Saturday, I have a session report for you...

  • Prior to the session's start, Daniel (playing Sir Basil) explained his odd behavior last session.  Taken aback by Xar's disregard for human life, Sir Basil uncomfortably "went along with" proceedings even though the holy knight had deep reservations about slitting the throat of that woman cultist/vessel encountered last time.  Basil decided against confronting Xar for the sake of party cohesion and the greater quest of dispatching the foul remnants of the temple.
  • As there was a player shortage, the extra characters who didn't have players to run them (X'fritl and Tidillo, specifically) simply vanished before the remaining characters' eyes.  Left with nothing more than a faint, disembodied evil laugh, the "survivors" marched forward to the unexplored areas of the 3rd level.
  • Having an hour's preparation, I planned for two special things, unique aspects of my own devising that would make the Temple stand out... that would make it truly mine.  
  • 1) a hexagonal room with six doors.  Four of them led to a jungle.  Upon opening those doors, the PCs saw bits of dungeon floor and walls here and there, slowly giving way to an entirely new environment - a mysterious jungle.  Just in case they got curious or needed a break from the dungeon crawl, I provided an escape.  Those doors led to none other than the islands of purple-haunted putrescence.  After their discovery, the players opted not to venture out into the jungle.  That was fine by me, though I had my book full of weird science-fantasy encounters handy just in case.
  • 2) towards the end, I wanted a couple of dimensional travelers to interrupt the party's progress.  We'll get to that later.
  • A powerful demon guarded this section of the dungeon.  One or more PCs could have died, but near-constant magic missiles and Sir Basil's frostbrand made short work of him.
  • More prisoners discovered:  human, humanoid, and elf.  One of the elves became the party thief.  The rest just wanted to go home or stay in the dungeon.
  • An illusion made for interesting combat as the characters were almost totally taken-in by were-jackals.
  • A bronze pit for a bugbear was easily scouted by Markus the ragged - a templar revenant who joined the party last session.  The revenant is a character class provided in FH&W.  Tricky to play and DM, I let a lot of stuff fly that wasn't specially mentioned in the rule book.  
  • A potentially huge encounter with bugbears, ogres, and a hill giant was cut short by Xar's well-placed fireball.  
  • Some evocative and Lovecraftian descriptions provided a dank and dreary atmosphere - perfect for dungeoneering.  
  • Stairways showed level 4 having collapsed some time ago.  That kept everyone on level 3 where the action was.  This being the last session, it made sense.

  • Finally, a purple throne, an inner-sanctum, and a towering spider demon with cyclopean 9th eye shooting burning rays of fire.  Luckily, two out of the three PCs wore rings of fire resistance.  I got most of the stats from Fiend Folio and converted the rest to be the big bad at the temple's end.  When not using its eye ray, it had four attacks.  I pulled out all the descriptive stops for this one.  I mentioned the viscera and slimy entrails yanked out of its abdomen when Sir Basil scored a critical hit - max damage on both dice!  When he finally struck it down, after almost dying (luckily he had a potion of extra healing), I detailed its severed head twitching and wounds oozing a yellow-green substance, etc.  There was nearly an hour left after the creature's destruction.
  • Back to Vengerizing the temple, the party decided to rest up before looting the spider demon's treasure.  Nothing happened while they slept.  Upon waking, however, the party heard voices and clanging noises coming from the inner-sanctum (they slept in the throne room adjacent).  They investigated.  Two humans and a magic portal.  The humans told of their mission - to retrieve a sacred object containing the essence or soul of their unpronounceable god.  Using one of the special abilities of his class, Sir Basil detected that the god contained within the silver container was evil.  The party forced the two dimensional travelers to give up the container.  Before leaving through the portal, they promised to return... with reinforcements.  
  • This led to an amusing, though brief, chase through the third level.  The PCs hid in a large crack where they left off at the end of last session.  After a DM reminder (I usually refrain from that sort of thing, but couldn't resist), Xar used his limited wish scroll to destroy the evil god trapped in the silver vessel.  Not finding any easy loopholes, his wish was granted.  And not having any way to see if their god was still in the container, the dimensional intruders took back the container.
  • Amongst the spider demon's horde of gold and gemstones, the PCs claimed a dragon orb and a few other random magic items from the 1st edition DMG.  At that point, they marched back up to the surface, away from the misery-infused stone of this particular dungeon.  
  • Not that it mattered, but everyone leveled before going home.

I was pleased with this session and The Temple of Elemental Evil as a whole.  However, I'm confident that next time I run it, things will go three times as awesome!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Revelry in Torth PDF

Despite my attempts to schedule the PDF release of Revelry in Torth a few days from now, DriveThru thought fit to put it up for sale ahead of time.  Who knows, maybe I forgot how to use a calender?  Anyways, it's live now.

Ed and I are still working on the print files for Amazon/CreateSpace and DriveThruRPG.  Will post about those when they're squared away.

Thanks again to all the Kickstarter backers who supported this project.  I hope everyone finds many things to enjoy.  Happy gaming!


Friday, December 5, 2014

Physical Fitness (monthly progress report) #2

Gaaaahhhh!  Not that happy with my progress... if you can even call it that.  This picture sucks, too.  I weighed in at 186 this morning.  Of course, it didn't help that half a dozen birthdays and two Thanksgiving feasts (plus leftovers) were part of November.  Also, the wife and I actually got to see a movie!  In the theater!!!  And I had a gift card that practically begged me to buy a large buttered popcorn and mountain dew.

Anyways, enough excuses.  This month I've got to get even more serious.  Because another weigh in and photo like this in January will just be fucking embarrassing.

On the plus side, I believe my strength is going up.  Definitely squats.  On the others it's hard to tell because I'm cycling between heavy weight with low reps and lighter weight with high reps.  Next month I'll start writing down some of my lifting numbers.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Do you DMG 5e?

I think I already know the answer to this one.  I'm pretty sure.  However, I've been wrong before.  Lots of times.  At least a few d20s worth.

So here's my question for those who don't already own it or have it on order from amazon or some other retailer:  If one is to believe the countless glowing reviews for 5e's Dungeon Master's Guide (consensus states this DMG is the best out of all three 5e core books, as well as, being fantastic in its own right), are you more likely to buy it now or in the near future (did you just purchase it a day or two ago because of favorable reviews)?

And for those who currently own it or have it coming do you think you're more likely to use it in your current and/or future campaigns?


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

More Evil Elements in the Temple

We finally got to resume our dungeon crawl through the Temple of Elemental Evil (see here for last session).  Below is a bullet-point snapshot of what went down...

  • Harold returned to the fold.  For awhile there, he was spending every weekend with his girlfriend Carrie.  Luckily, there was space at the table because he brought her to play with us.  She'd never played D&D before but had played Changeling.  Not sure exactly how that happens, but ok.  Carrie played Melanie's character: X'fritl.
  • There was a moment where I thought I'd lost everyone's character sheet (again!).  Thankfully, they were tucked in some RPG book upstairs.
  • We all went through a re-cap and re-introduction because it had been so damned long since the last time.
  • Monsters were killed (owlbears, bugbears, trolls, etc.) and humanoid cultists were either tricked or hypnotized.  Speaking of evil priests, I changed a few things around so that one of the lesser head priests had just murdered the high priest of that level in order to have his way with a nubile envoy from another temple.  It was an interesting diversion for a minute... until both their throats were slit.
  • Sure enough, the party wanted to descend into the 3rd level of the dungeon before they'd cleared out the 2nd.  Not having read that far ahead, I did my best to wing it.  Either porting parts from the 2nd level to the 3rd or reading the boxed text for the first time... aloud to the players.  At least there was only an hour of game time left by the time they explored that 3rd level.
  • Fire's a bitch.  A temple space devoted to the elemental evil of fire contained several salamanders which took awhile to kill.  Kaazor took another PC's life.  Harold's old character Verdilo was chewed up and spit out (or possibly swallowed).  
  • After the salamanders, an iron box containing a super-powerful magic sword was discovered and went to Sir Basil, the paladin.  Incidentally, every battle Basil would try to throw himself in harm's way as a monster or humanoid was about to do damage to another party member.  This happened about 5 or 6 times.  From then on, I decided he'd have a 33% chance to take the hit for another PC or his hireling Milo.
  • Harold created a new character - Murak the dwarf.  He picked up a trident of yearning and attempted to drown himself.  Luckily, he was saved.

Even though interesting things are happening, I'm ever so slightly starting to get bored with The Temple of Elemental Evil.  It's my own fault, really.  Never made it my own.  I'm going to introduce something weird into the mix... something I've been meaning to do for awhile, but time just gets away from me towards the week's end.  

Because next Saturday is Ben's last game for a couple months and it's difficult to keep a diverse and newly formed group together around the holidays, I think next time will be our last session with the ToEE.  Plus, I'm itching for something fresh.  Who knows, maybe Bell Bottoms, Black Sabbath, and Beltane (here) or the newly compiled and modified WEG Star Wars d6 RPG (here).


P.S.  Oops, I forgot about something.  I did have a chance to use my new O5R Advantage/Disadvantage system.  Just once.

After opening a door and getting attacked, Verdilo (being a gnome) scurried between the troll's legs and stabbed him in the thigh.  It was inventive, cinematic, and tactically sound.  For me, it goes to show that little things aren't really worth worrying about.  But when something is noticeably advantageous (or the reverse), it should get special treatment.  Verdilo hit thanks to the +4 and did a small amount of damage (due to his size, naturally).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fourth Issue of Draconic Magazine

It's been about six weeks since the last one because I was working on my upcoming adventure, Revelry in Torth.  I think you'll be pleased with all the content over at Draconic Magazine.  Below is a summary of what's in store for you...

  • Tweaking adventures for conventions
  • The importance of 1 (or even 2) in 6
  • In-game lies that GMs tell
  • PC autonomy
  • Bag on a stick
  • Image of Aryd's End
  • Silk of a Thousand Spiders (new spell)
  • A Demilich and his lion
  • Kodarr's Kommandments
  • Pumpkin Giant
  • Adventure hooks that make you yawn
  • The terrible, terrible fan-fiction of Edgar Phillips Reitman
  • O5R Advantage/Disadvantage
  • 100 reasons that characters are together
  • WEG d6 Star Wars RPG revised, expanded, and updated
  • Witch Shackles (new magic item)
  • Lizardmen of Kilkutch (PC regional race)

Thanks goes out to all the many contributors who wrote articles for this issue.  Much appreciated, guys!


Monday, November 24, 2014

Liberation & Purple sale

It's done.  The November 25th sale prices have been keyed in and ready to go.  One day only!  See the sidebar images on the right or use the following direct links to Liberation of the Demon Slayer and The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence.

Along with Dungeons & Dragons, I turn(ed) 40 this year.  It's been quite the journey for both of us.  The whole damned community, no doubt!

Sadly, no new reviews or play reports.  But here is a great (albeit, familiar) analysis of Purple.  Hope you enjoy, guys.  Oh, and feel free to bring those reviews and play reports in with the new year.  ;)


Friday, November 21, 2014

Hooray for Lulu Hardcovers!

Lulu has a new coupon code valid through November 24th.  Type in "HC50" and receive a 50% discount on hardcover books!!!  You just can't beat that!

Let's read some suggestions from you guys.  Below are a few things I just picked up.  What other RPG-related Lulu hardcovers are worth checking out?

  • Fantastic Heroes & Witchery
  • Dyson's Delves I and II (revised)
  • The Mutant Epoch
  • Narcosa
  • Mutant Future
  • Swords & Wizardry white box
  • The Dungeon Dozen
  • Labyrinth Lord (and the Advanced Companion)
  • Tales of the Grotesque & Dungeonesque (I, II, and III)
  • Barbarians of Lemuria
  • Blood & Treasure
  • Transylvanian Adventures [looks like Ravenloft for DCC]
  • (Almost forgot!)  Encounter Critical