Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dragon Armies 15 Meet the Dwarves

So after diving through the trap door our Dwarven adventurer winds up in a tunnel network face to face with Yellow Bill. Yellow Bill explains that he and 11 other dwarves are all that remain of the dwavern City of Blackstone Mine. Blackstone mine used to be famous for its adamantium mine, the shrine of the Golden Hammer, as well as the adamantium constructs it made. Several months ago Blackstone mine was overrun by a drow army. After King Hrothgar and his shield thanes fell in battle what few dwarves that remained retreated to the secret tunnels to eke out a meager existence staging hit-and-run raids and foraging the fungus caverns below. One of the raids did successfully recover King Hrothgar's crown and return it to the throne room, but none of the survivors felt they had a good enough blood line to claim the throne themselves. For some reason the drow don't seem to bother the adamantium constructs in either the throne room or the Shrine of the Hammer. However they are hard at work forcing their slaves to build a dark altar of adamantium in the central hall of Blackstone mine. A quick review of dwarven genealogies (only 10 minutes) reveals that the parties dwarf is closer to the Royal bloodline (after all he is second cousin once removed to Kings), but having hung out with "Yellow"(wink wink nudge nudge) Bill too long he decides to decline the offer of Kingship of this glorious city. Yellow Bill has yet one more piece of disturbing news. Although the golden hammer of the Shrine of the Golden Hammer rested within in the shrine until last week, a loud explosion then collapsed part of the roof damaging the guardian constructs. Shortly after this the golden hammer disappeared. Strangely enough, Leather Larry disappeared about the same time. Once the conversations have concluded Yellow Bill and the party's dwarf return to the rest of the party via a secret tunnel which bypasses the throne room. After the party's dwarf vouches for the rest of the party, they are invited back to hidden living quarters off the secret passage for some mushroom soup and some needed sleep.

P.S. I used the above sketch to flesh out character ideas for the few remaining soles of this once proud City. Drawing can be very useful for designing NPCs even if I am not Frank Frazetta or Michangelo. I find drawing figures allows ones brain to process character ideas subconsciously while drawing. Note also although there is a label for Leather Larry there is no picture because he's gone (he likes it that way too!)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ancient River Palace of Mellorin

Well I had meant to post another installment of the Dragon Army, having spent the last week by Hungarian RPGs, Haitian pdfs, and other shiny objects. However in my search for my missing notes on the dwarven hold the players have just discovered, I ran across this blast from the past. Above is the first level of one of my early dungeons from the summer of 1976. I have merged the two notebook pages together and tried to sharpen the faded pencil lines a bit. Although the rooms are numbered I have no encounter key, as I did not actually try and run this dungeon. Not sure how interesting the encounter key would be anyways, as what I did at the time usually was to roll up random monsters as the party explored and use the key to note their location for future reference if the party closed the door rather than fight. Enjoy!
By the way I was able to use google translator toolkit to get the gist of the Hungarian RPG. Google produces a text which seems to reflect a decent translation of the words, but considerable effort on style and grammar will be required for it to read smooth in English. Unfortunately it seems to be very close to Swords and Wizardry, so I did not bother going too much further. I can share the translation with someone else who actually speaks Hungarian if they are interested.
P.S. Finally found the dwarven hold notes, but its past my bedtime. More on the Tunnel Twins, Legless Bob, Yellow Bill and the Blue next time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

DriveThruRPG Haiti Relief Bundle

Well I appologize for being a me-too-er, but I found the Haiti Relief Bundle offer irresitable to an obtuse game junkiee like me. Once I hit the third $20 item already on my wishlist I was sold. Unfortunately last Wednesday everyone else came to same conclusion (afterall $1,400 worth of stuff for $20 is a no brains no brainer!) so my first attempted purchase hung half way through as the DriveThruRPG ground to a halt. However, DriveThruRPG handled the crisis with style and humility, and after a couple exchances between them and me, I able to complete my purchase Friday and had my free .pdfs added to my account today. So I am now happly downloading .pdfs (hope my harddrive doesn't run out of space). You too can help Haiti and get a fistful of .pdfs if you hurry (I think the promotion is over at the end of the month).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Old School Hungarian Style

Well another trip to the internet deep end. Wandering the blogosphere I came across this Role Playing Game site which is completely in Hungarian. Google translator helped me out enough that I could find the part that was labeled Download. So I am now in the possession of 8 .pdfs and two .zip files completely in Hungarian. Although my Hungarian is limited to "Egan"(yes), "Nem"(no), and "Nem besamy magaryoz"(I do not speak Hungarian), my Dad is much better at it. He also responsible for my love of games having introduced me to chess at age 4. I did finally beat him at chess about 10 years ago, I had to wait for age to dull his wit a bit. However, his interest in Role Playing Games is limited (He says any game with more rules than chess isn't worth learning) so convincing him to translate may be tricky. Anyone know a good method for feeding .pdfs into Google translator?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sneak Peak Reme

As promised a look a the map I use for Reme. It is in a lot better shape than when the Party blew through it like a warm Summer breeze. However after finishing the map She-Who-Must-be-Obeyed posed the following questions. Where do you buy riding tack, saddle horses, mules, wagons, medicines, potions, fabric, meat or fish for dinner, a new chamber pot, fuel for your fireplace, dishes for your table, glassware to drink from, perfumes and smelly oils for the bath.
Can you buy a warhorse? How would find one? A reference from the armor shop or a listed stable? Where does an adventurer stable a horse? If you live here do you subscribe to a fuel delivery service? How do you get a hold of them? The fine items for the dinner table are they just at the import market or is it a shop that specializes? Do they weave cloth in this town? Can I buy it from a weaver or the guild hall? Are all luxury items like perfume only at the import market or is there a shop or wandering merchant? Can we buy Jewelry? Gems? Is there a bank in town? Is the adventure supply the only place to buy a healing potion? What about refilling your healing kit? Someplace for a housewife to buy cough syrup?
So many questions! I must admit leaving a stable out might be a mistake. However most of MY ADVENTURERS seldom feel the need to purchase fine china, perfume, fuel, cloth or cough syrup. Given the seven markets in the town one thinks one could find a stall with any of these thing. There are also many houses in the town unmarked which could be shops for whatever. However one ignores She-Who-Must-be-Obeyed questions at ones peril, so I must get busy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dragon Armies 14

So the party returns to the rubble filled breakdown. It turns out the broken automation are easily outrun and don't have much interest in chasing anyone who leaves the magic circle they guard alone. After a trip through a room of magically suspended pillars and another with a continual darkness at the entrance inhabited by shadows (both in the orginal crypt of Yedloon, new stuff after this point). They arrive at a room with four dark skinned gentlemen in chainmail with pointy ears. "Oh? you must be hear to see the merchants. Well take that passage to the south. No we don't care if you go that way we're not guarding that. " After travelling the corridor south for 50' they arrive at a 30'x 50' chamber with a tent pitched at the southern end were they meet three humans who claim to be merchants. The "merchants" are more than willing to show their wares but insist the party enter the tent one at a time. Once the sorcerer entered the tent its true purpose became apparent as the so called "merchant" transformed into the sorcerer's twin and attacked. Unfortunately the sorcerer was better with a dagger than expected and had the sense to scream "Doppelgangers" loudly. The party made short work of the two doppelgangers and the third decided discresion was required and high tailed it out the northern passage. Rummaging the tent revealed it was blocking a passage heading south. Following the southern passage the party arrived at a large chamber with a central pillar surrounded by 12' tall dwarven statues very similar to the automations in the entry chamber. As the ranger crosses the threshold a voice booms out in Dwarven "State your name and purpose". The ranger says "I'm Shawn, and I'm hear to take a look around". This is followed by "You are unworthy, return from whence you came". Of the ranger wasn't going to let a mere voice boss him around but when he took the next step forward and saw the blue flash from the statues he decided turning around was not such a bad idea. When he consulted with the dwarf, the dwarf told him well that's not a proper name and purpose. The dwarf then crossed threshold and on recieving the challenge again spends five minutes reciting his name and linage back to the begining and explains the party quest for the pillar of history and greeted with "You may approach the throne". On rounding the pillar he sees on a raised platform in alcove on the southern wall a throne carved out of a single block of black stone. Resting in the seat of the throne is an iron circlet set with a blue saphire. As he ponders whether to climb the steps to the throne and grab the circlet, a small panel opens in the western wall and a dwarven voice whispers "Hey budy over here!"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dragon Armies 13 Into the Dark halls

Well after the Crypt of Yeldoon fiasco a little damage control is required. So on returning to Candololian the elf princess informs the party they have found a interesting notebook hidden in the desk of the lorekeeper and perhaps the party would like to take a look at it (long term readers will remember the party missing this a few installments back). The notebook says that lorekeeper has found a way to open a gate to an ancient dwarven stronghold and this stronghold may be the one with pillar of history which chronicles the history back to the time of legends and may contain clues to the location of the Valley of Ferns. One brief reminder that the automatons looked like dwarven work and the party sets off once more into the breach.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Quick Filler Post Things to Come

Well I promised myself I'd post tonight. However I ended up writing a long comment to cheer up Blackrazor and get his you-know-what in gear to get his supplement out. Unfortunately I forgot to sign-in and after I did it wiped the comment box. I hate when that happens! But now it is past my bedtime and I have no time write here. Well in the immortal words of Ms. Scarlet tomorrow is another day :(

P.S. The party is about to strike a blow for dwarven freedom soon
P.P.S. She-Who-Must-be-Obeyed is tidying up the City map of Reme working towards the day it will be "finished". I'll try and get a sneak peak edition up long before that. She also gave me a fist full of hand written notes on how Cities "ought to be run". I always try and moderate such things with "Have you actually run it that way?" and "How did that work for you?". However I will begin refining the textual ore for the gold nuggets buried within. I also suggested that I could set her up with her own blog if she wishes to present the unedited "TRUTH" to the world. She said she would like to have three to four posts "finished" before setting up a blog, so don't expect it too soon...
P.P.P.S. Hopefully my diplomacy skills have been sufficient I won't be spending too many nights on the couch (At least on the couch I can type on the laptop without waking people up).

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dragon Armies 12 The Sandbox and the Railroad

***Spoiler Expedition to Undermountain (not that it's not already spoiled)***
In effort to pick up some extra DM points from the Role Playing Gamers Association (RPGA), I decided to try and incorporate some RPGA adventures into my campaign setting. I duly registered my game, downloaded Crypt of Yeldoon from the Undermountain mini campaign. To connect I added added a cave-in to the underdark highway that the Mountain Man card gates to. On game night I issued RPGA cards to the players and had them set out. Well, one look at the arcane magic arcing off the Helmed Horrors in the first room of the Crypt of Yeldoon and the ranger decides well maybe the ice caverns weren't such a bad idea. The party retreats to Candololain for a two hour discussion of what to do next. Then its oh my look at the time it's 11:00 already (did I mention my party plays sloooooow?) we'll pick it up here next time. O.K. so the Crypt of Yeldoon which was supposed to be run in a single four setting on a specific night is now complete (100 ep to the party for peaking their heads into the first room). To add insult to injury the RPGA cards I passed out were too old for the online event reporter to take so I had get every one new cards. Well at least I got a week to rethink this fiasco and come up with a more enticing approach.

P.S. It takes the experienced professionals of the Editions that must not be named to take a sprawling sandbox dungeon like Ruins Undermountain and linearize it into a single track plot hammer railroad. As one my old gamer friends puts it "It should Expedition to a tiny little scrappy piece of Undermountain". In the Crypt of Yeldoon the linearization is handled by the crude expediency of collapsing all the passages which don't lead down the linear track. I can hear my players breaking out the picks and shovels even as I describe it to them. Well at least they finally published maps of all the levels, giving a good 25 pages of useful stuff in 221 pages of text, a better return than many books in the Editions that must not be named .
P.P.S Doppelganger merchants will be borrowed from the Crypts of Yeldoon for the follow-on adventure as well.
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