Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sewer Dungeon

I have always resented the short shrift Wizards of the Coast gave in its "Undermountain" gave to level 4 the sewer level. Iconic "Old school" D&D always involved battling a diverse clean-up crew of Otyughs, ropers, gibbering mouthers and black puddings the size of horse carts. Here is the "official" map of the fourth level of Undermountain:

The twisty passages and river are alright. However notice the scale one square equals 10' On my standard 5 to the inch quadrille this is barely 8.5" by 11". Comparing it to the double quad fold 34" by 22" of level 3 the Skullport/Sargoth level and considering it supposed to drain and feed all of Undermountain, this map just pathetic. Fortunately it appears I am not the only one with this option. Here is a redrawn home brew fourth level of a size to do it justice (from slade88green's image shack account).

and half of it redrawn in the box set trade dress (courtesy of Doirche [who died too young] on the cartographer's guild forum). I had to use the way back machine to resurrect this one.

Some nice discussion on the these maps at the Undermountain Back in Print project. Although most of this site seems frozen amber, it is a least still there. Halaster is promising progress in 2016.

Now all fourth level needs is some farms, a temple of the slime god, black puddings the size of horse carts and so om.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

October update

Well it has sneaked off and become November, without my noticing. Therefore I am offering another update just to prove my existence in the blogo-sphere. Major event of October was my trip to Con-on-the-Cob. As usual this proved to be an enjoyable convention, although the new location made for a much more dispersed location. The overwhelming smell of chlorine in the open gaming room (which was poolside) did not incentivise me to sit down and play so most of the time was spent in the dealers and art room. Initial purchases where Anomalous Subsurface Environment level 2-3, and Random Esoteric Creature Generator from a booth selling printed versions of various OSR type products (although I already hold a number of these items .pdf form I felt a need to purchase something to encourage the dealer to sell at other conventions). I bought after long haggling Dreamscared Ultimate Psionics book for Pathfinder (Once again I am a hard sell having already purchased large quantities of Pathfinder stuff from my friendly local game store. However he gave me a 20% discount and threw in a psionic gamemasters screen for free). I also bought a "Low Life" Boss Blocker (I paid full price for that one, not wanting to re-buy either the "Low Life Redredged" or "Kestier Island" which would have qualified me for a free Boss Blocker). I bought in the art room a small clockwork door as terrain for some future battle mat. The man who made the clockwork door did not produce overnight the clockwork man-way I had suggested, so I'll have to watch his e-bay site for it). We did have a long chat about the strengths and weaknesses of various D&D editions and whether Games Workshop had jumped the shark again (at this point I think it's jumping the sharknado, but least the Tau have gained the uber sized "D" gun equipped model to stand toe to toe with most of rest of the 40K armies, no help for my beloved Tyranids yet apparently skyscraper sized monsters aren't actually capable of destroying things in a single hit like mechanical swords). Unfortunately for my blogging here I have "discovered" Pinerest. Its right brain approach to blogging appeals to my "slacker" nature. However, after few weeks of re-linking all my deviant art likes I am discovering the internet is much shallower resource than I had hoped. Both flattering and discouraging was goolging for "Tekumel World Maps" and discovering my own world maps (which are very nice but definitely not Tekumel) listed on the first page of images returned. Until later...

Sunday, October 4, 2015

What I did with my summer vacation

Its been long busy summer. Unfortunately with two hard drive crashes and some moving I have fallen way behind even my lack-a-day one a month posting schedule. I did however make it to both Origins and Gencon. Origins was not so exciting. However, Gencon was a different story. Only went for one day so all I did was the dealers room. Major swag included:

- In to the Breach, both Players and Fate Masters guide. I have seen too many rigged card decks to be favor of card based resolution, but at least its role playing  rather than miniatures (my main gripe with Malifaux its sister game).

-Prince of Satar (a print version of the web comic).

-Heroquest in Glorantha. A revised Heroquest (The Laws Stafford one, not those other two) tricked out with artwork from the Gloranthan gazeeter. Unfortunately its still Heroquest (I am still hoping 13th age in Glorantha will give me a Gloranthan game which is my style).

-The battle mats for the Emerald Spire dungeon (already had the dungeon)

-Lone Wolf Adventure Game. Well written but perhaps aimed at a younger audience than me. At only$30 for the boxed set still a good deal. Here is a picture of me and Joe Dever at the Cubical 7 booth at Gencon:

Flying Buffalo had booth but only a mock-up of the Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls so I didn't get anything then. Broke down and bought the .pdf of Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls yesterday. It still uses the same sad combat engine as before (I have blogged my concerns previously), but nice artwork and lots of extras. I'll try and get some longer reviews of things later.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Spelljamming Postmortem 4 To Infinity and Beyond

Link to Week 1

Link to Week 2

Link to Week 3
P.S. I forgot to mention the Manticore. At the end of the fight with the Manticore the Druid casts deaths door to keep the Manticore from dying. After a brief negotiation the Manticore agrees to serve as the druid bear girlfriends, as long as the Druid feeds him two sentient beings a week. Having an abundance of dead githyanki to fulfill this weeks quota the druid agrees. The Manticore spend the visit to the planet of the Dinosaurs blissfully asleep atop the hatchway of the Reasonable Fear insuring no messes with the ship while the party is out and about.

Map Below:

Week 4
The ship lifts off  and appears to have grown a laser turret while sitting on the landing pad (the originator of the ship had explained its necrogenerative properties the week before). Captain Sabido sets course for the Moon of Brass. After all they are still sure to need mercenaries and no one's going to know about that "little accident" with the Pride of Hasaphut. Shortly after the ship launches Captain Sabido feels a tap on his shoulder. He turns around and sees an eight foot tall guy dressed in a loincloth, with red skin, horns, a flaming sword in one hand and a whip in the other. The guy explains that he is here to "reward" Captain Sabido for freeing him from a eternity of servitude powering the engine of the Pride of  Hasaphut. The guy vanishes in a puff of smoke only to be replaced by a vulture headed guy and two large orangutans with glowing red eyes.  Captain Sabido quickly banishes one of the orangutans, and screams for help. The fighter and bard come running. The cleric having been at the bottom of the ship checking out the new turret arrives just in time to watch the last orangutan fall dead and dissolve (I was going to run this week 3 but since Captain Sabido didn't show I saved it just for his return).  Onwards, day 2 the space squid  attacks (statted as a hydra, because 5e Krakens are moving into to Tarrasque range). The new laser turret (acts a wand of lighting bolts, but requires 1d8 hp from the "co-pilot" per charge, the Druid has assumed "co-pilot" duties due to his players absence from the game) proves quite effective. Day 4 with the Moon of Brass in sight but still a day away the party is accosted by two small spider shaped craft with open cockpits (I was thinking the new Harlequin two man jet-bikes, but used my giant spider minis instead). After taking two laser hits from the spidercraft the guard Manticore flies away. As the spidercraft streak past one space elf from each of the craft uses his flipbelt to leap aboard the fighting deck of the Reasonable Fear. The cleric mans the laser turret and the Fighter, bard and Captain Sabido race to the fighting deck to repel the boarding elves. When the blast from the laser turret downs one of the spidercraft pilots the Manticore returns for a quick snack. The other pilot decides to join his fellow elves on the deck rather than risk another laser blast, but to no avail. All three elves are quickly overcome and added to the Manticore chow locker for later. Day 5 the ship in on approach to the Moon of Brass which reveals itself to be completely covered with ancient ruins made of metal. When the comm system crackles to life and orders them to follow the small squarish spacecraft to the Starfort in the distance they look at the forts 500 ft long space cannons and decide to comply. They land where instructed on a flat spot in one of the horn works and are greeted by 20 dwarves in funny hats, nineteen with long halberds and one with a scroll which he reads to the party explaining the rules and regulations. Once the party convinces them that they are here to sign on as mercenaries (after all they are here to sign on as mercenaries, Pride of Hasaphut? Never heard of it!) they are given a contract to sign and escorted to the mercenary barracks. More next time!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Spelljamming Post Mortem 3 Take the long way home

Link to Introduction and Week 1
Link to Week 2
Week 3
When we last left our intrepid adventurers the "Pride of Hasauphut" had just exploded. Being intrepid they immediately turn around to loot what remains. Unfortunately for them the explosion of a power plant big enough to run a battle hulk has triggered a secondary explosion of the infernal engine which powers the "Pride of Hasauphut", so the ship had been reduced to a fine mist of brass droplets. Miraculously the space marine who had been taking a nap on-board (player didn't show for week two) is found drifting in space unharmed (Being a "softie" I prefer to have players kill themselves with their own foolishness, than rule them dead because the party did something foolish the week they didn't show). Captain Sabido stands speechless in shock and awe (his player didn't show this week). The party quickly straps Captain Sabido in the co-pilots chair and the Fighter (the farm boy snatched by Negoi off the surface of planet Farmville) assumes piloting control. They set course for the dinosaur planet, as the druid has a strong hankering to see a few of those in action. Remembering Captain Sabido's promise to the githyanki, the party wisely decided to exit the red mist on the opposite side of the red mist. Unfortunately, the githyanki being experienced space pirates have posted a manticore rider here as a sentry to watch for that sort of thing. The party opens fire with everything they've got to take the rider out before he sounds the alarm. However, the pilot decides to take the ship further away from the sentry (new player, after contradictory advise from all the table, I took the standard DM approach quieting the kibitzers down, and saying it's your character, what are YOU doing?). This makes it so when the sentry turns and flees he out of effective range of every one (having lost two thirds of his hit points in the first round he know when its time to get help). For a couple days it looks like they have given the githyanki the slip, then on day three who should appear but five manticore riders on attack vectors moving at flank speed, plus some tougher looking guy on white dragon back. The word "dragon" seems to conjure a susurrus of fear amongst the party, but the druid and the wizard devise a cunning plan. The druid quickly summons his band of invisible pixies and sends them 200 foot out to meet the oncoming githyanki.  As the githyanki cross the 200 ft mark the pixies cast polymorph on the dragon, the wizard loans the dragon a "2" from his dice of fortune and voila! space chicken. The githyanki hurtle onwards, although one is slowed by having to retrive his illustrious  leader from chicken back. As the they cross the 100 foot mark they are bombarded by fireballs from the wizard and cleric (who knew sun clerics could throw fireballs), as well as being entangled in a wall of thorns by the bard. With grim determination the githyanki press on while the dragon fails to un"chickenize". The party is surprised when the githyanki misty step through the hull, but the opening bombardment has taken too much of a toll and the githyanki are quickly cut down. The dragon still stuck in chicken form gives up and flies off. Thus the legend of the "Space Chicken" is born. The party continues on and lands at the space port on the dinosaur planet which looks like a cross between Mos Eisley and a Mayan pyramid complex. The fifty foot tall posts with lighting bolts shooting between them and the surrounding jungle, suggests dinosaurs nearby. The city itself is inhabited by a fifty-fifty mix of dragonborn and spacefarers. Due to a character flaw the marine find the nearest bar and challenges the meanest looking customer, a dragonborn, to a fight. Although creatures with claws are at an advantage in a bare fisted brawl the marine comes within one punch of wining before toppling over due lack of hit points. The party halls the marine back to the ship to rest up. While the bike messenger sets off to explore the city. The druid and the cleric, and the druid's girlfriend (NPC) sneak out into the jungle. The rest of the night is spent using pass without trace to observe without disturbing the local fauna. The druid gets to add allosaurus, triceratops, pterodactyl, and saber tooth tiger to his list. More next time.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spelljamming Post Mortem 2 the return of Captain Sabido

See part 1 here

Week 2
Captain Sabido awakens to find his "Co-Pilots" gone. Being quick thinking and morally ambiguous he purchases a fighter and a magic user (two new players who wanted to learn how to play) from the bat winged Neogi slaver to act as "Co-Pilots". "Co-piloting" the Reasonable Fear involves being strapped in a chair while the ship slowly drains your life force away. By the way none of the "space  drow" will ever sit in that chair. Captain Sabido takes off and starts to shadow the manticore riders which are shadowing the "Pride of Hasauphut". Captain Sabido catches up with the manticore riders as they lurk outside the red mist (the magics that allow manticores to fly through the ether are not red mist proof). The manticore riders demand to see his papers that give him the right to fly through githyanki space (just between you and me are no papers that give you right to fly through githyanki space, matter fact if there even is a githyanki space this ain't it). Captain Sabido ask how much to purchase such papers, this is answered with how much you got? They finally settle for 500 gp and the rest when he gets back and let him proceed into the red mist without a fight. He comes into view of the "Pride of Hasauphut" just as the other players emerge from the ship. After the reunoin it is suggested that the extra "space drow" spacesuits (left over from the "space drow" that didn't volunteer for Captain Sabidos crew by laying their weapons down fast enough) might just be the thing for traveling the red mist. Captain Sabido being that kind of captain volunteers most of his remain "space drow" to go check out the third level. The space suits are indeed effective against the red mist, but the comm link soon crackles with "its a trap" follow by "oh my god their killing us" (Never send NPCs to do the PCs job). So the PCs suit up and head in, they bring the last remaining "space drow" after failing miserably to figure out how run the light mech and its laser cannon themselves. They penetrate to the point they see the lead "space drow" sliced in half by bladey things and the rest dead from strange puncture wounds. The wounds make more sense once the phase spiders attack. The mech proves surprisingly ineffective after the phase spider phases the the armor plate to bite the drow in the cockpit. The party slays two phase spiders drives the third one off. Captain Sabido decides to leave the paralyzed drow in the mech cockpit with a dismissive "Oh, he'll be fine just let him sleep it off". They  move on and find a strange contraption of silver hoops which on closer examination appears to be some sort of star chart. They encounter encounter a blue slaad sitting on a pile of space marine, although he willing to talk he seems to want do it while murdering people. He injects Captain Sabido with blue slaad eggs before succumbing to the parties ministrations. Unfortunately the "angel" cleric seems to have left his cure disease in his other pants. No worries just hang on at half your hit point with no healing until tomorrow. The party presses onwards. They encounter a antechamber filled with seven suits of power armor in their charging stations. Opening the doors they enter a large hall which has at the far end the 20x20 cube that is the ships power source. Next to the cube is a woman in a green slinky dress (green slaad) and an automaton with a shield (shield guardian). Strewn through out the room are dead space marines. Once the party is entirely in the room the woman in the green dress gives a shout and the space marines begin to rise. The arcane members of the party respond with two quick fireballs. Although this fixes the space marine problem, the party is appalled both that the woman in green dress seems unscathed by the fireballs and that she throws on of her own. Captain Sabido  pulls out his trademark spell and casts them into the black void of outer space. Neither the woman in the green dress (being a fiend from limbo) or the automation (being not alive) seem to be bothered much by the black void of space, but it does block their line of sight until they move out of it. Eventually after the shield guardian crumbles away in the hand to hand which ensues, the woman in the green dress also succumbs and reveals her true toad like nature. The party triumphs disconnects the power plant and tries to figure out how to  move its several ton mass out of here. No problem the'll get the mech. Well the mech is right where they left it, but the mech pilot has disappeared (leaving him alone with the phase spider,even if they did scare it off for a while, was not the best of plans). However, it turns out that Captain Sabido knows how to run a mech after all. The party exits the space hulk with seven suits of space marine armor, a new power supply, and a star chart. The bicycle messenger claims dibs on the star chart and places it in his cabin on the "Pride of Hasauphut". When the power plant appears to big to fit through the hatch of the "Reasonable Fear" Captain Sabido sells it to the Captain of the "Pride of Hasauphut" for 5000 gp. Both ships power up and prepare to head out. The "Pride of Hasauphut" explodes...

More next time

Bonus space video just because its my blog:

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spelljammer Post Mortem

Alright back from the multiverse to blog some more. The Planescape game I blogged about in my last post has drawn to a close (only planned to run for the month of March to begin with) and has seemed quite successful. Due to pressing time constraints (never should have signed up for that on-line college course) preparation for the Planescape game consisted of a half hour of bookmarking monsters in the monster manual on the weekend and 15 minutes of picking out battle maps before the game started. Loot was rolled up randomly after each encounter. For the finale she-who-must-be obeyed helped out by spend several hours on the weekend gluing together custom battle maps from the Skeleton Key Dungeon Tiles I printed out.

Captain Sabido blasts off planet Farmville in a shiny metal spherical spell jammer known as the "Resonable Fear" with a crew of  six "space drow" and the two PCs crazy enough to ride with him (the bard and the druid). The players were less enthused with the "Reasonable Fear" once they figured out what the co-pilots chair which faced backwards had no control panel and wrist restraints really did.

Week 1
The Reasonable Fear docks at the nearest space bar the "Rock of Fred" a smallish asteroid with a giant neon sign that says "EATS" run by a blue hippo. Also parked at the asteriod a nineteenth century sailing ship with red sails stayed like bat wings, two manticores,  a bicycle with arcane symbols woven into the spokes, and a Mississippi Paddle wheeler made entirely of brass labeled named the "Pride of Hasauphut". Inside the bar are two githyanki, several dwarves with funny hats, a 19th century Marine with two flintlock pistols and a muzzle loader, a man claiming to be the angel of light, and a bicycle messenger. After some short negotiations the two crew who flew in with Captian Sabido, the Marine and the "angel" sign on with the "Pride of Hasauphut" as mercenaries to travel to the Moon of brass and help drive the "Darkness" from the ruined cities there and check out a wrecked spaceship along the way. The bicycle messenger rents a cabin to spell him between message jaunts. Captain Sabido is left in his inebriated state to fly the "Reasonable Fear" on his own (after making bold statements about how exited he was to be playing Spelljamer, the player who controlled the captain failed to show for the game). A sharp eyed PC notices the githyanki saddling up and following the paddle wheeler at a distance short after the "Pride of Hasauphut" pulls out. Two day out in deep space the githyanki are joined by two more. Four days out they encounter a zone of red mist, the dwarf captain orders everyone inside. Traveling through the red mist (the githyanki don't follow) they enter a clear area within the mist were floats half of a ruined space ship decorated like a Gothic cathedral but with a skull motif as well. Three decks are wide open for entrance, the party enters the top one, the dwarfs refuse to leave the ship but offer the party hazard pay. The party battles a swarm of shadows in the ships corridors, and reaches the bridge only to activate the automata which guard it. They salvage the bridge for electronics and realize the power is still on they try to descend through a ladder in an access way to the third level but discover the third level is shrouded in red mist. The bard, after watching the bottom his boot dissolve, wisely decided to climb back up. They return to a stairway they passed on the way to the bridge and descend to the second deck. They reach what appears to be the main galley only to encounter two red slaad. After a tough fight (somehow those fire spells didn't work as well as they were supposed to) they gather the loot and head back to the "Pride of Hasauphut" to rest up.

Week 2 next time

Saturday, February 28, 2015

We're Jamming

So by some weird twist of fate I find that I will be spending this weekend preparing a fifth edition spell jamming campaign. The Wednesday night group at the Friendly Local Game Store has been enjoying the clean spare lines of fifth edition by gooping it up with weird gonzo stuff. Unfortunately it is my turn in the DM rotation. One of the stipulations of my time in the chair that characters get to transfer from the old campaign, and yes they get to keep the evil eleven space suits, boltcasters, medium size mecha, and the Death Jammer the space gorilla (player character) stole. So we're jamming and I have the weekend to figure out spelljamming rules for fifth edition. I should be able to steal ideas and encounters from the Void below the World campaign I ran for fourth edition, but it is both a different level and system. I'll be using two guiding principles: 1) If tech is magic then magic is tech (i.e it may look like an evil elven space suit, but stats are like the adamantite armor in the DMG) 2) When in doubt make stuff up (this invokes the awesome power of the DM's imagination and keeps the game moving, because nothings worse than watching the DM spend a half an hour riffling through pages of rules and notes). Time to put on my DM hat, saddle up and see where this bucking bronco of a campaign takes us. Luckily this is not my first time in the chute, and  given the inherent gonzoness of the Fabulous Unknown City and Farmville campaigns my fellow DMs ran before me, very little will seem out of line.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hot pink sands of Athas

As I mentioned previously, my son has become quite interested in the defunct online computer game "Dark Sun Crimson Sands". Unfortunately the ability to resurrect a client/server game who's last server shut down in 1999 has proved a bit challenging. I did find a copy of the files and was able to get the splash screen to materialize for a brief second before the "unable to connect" brought things to an abrupt end. I know the graphics and visuals are hidden in the .GFF files, but finding something capable of reading those .GFF has proved challenging. I am pretty sure they are not the genomic file format used for DNA. The generic file format used by Bioware for the Witcher and Knights of the Old Republic seems closer, but all the third party GFF reader gives me is a structure number. My hex code byte reader gives me little snips of text surrounded by gibberish. I am sure there are pictures in there somewhere, but have yet to find a binary code reader that can reconstruct images (assuming that they are either uncompressed, or compressed with a common format like .bmp or .gif). However desperation has led me to a unique and interesting approach. As it so happens "Wake of the Ravager" also uses GFF files and it was pretty easy to guess that the files labeled rgn01, rgn02, etc were the map files. I copied over the rgn files from Crimson Sands to a copy of "Wake of the Ravager" and voila a game with just enough difference for my son to declare it "Crimson Sands" and move to the next project. Screen shot below:

P.S. My son has great faith in me, but after all I am a rocket scientist
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