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Zine Scene: Special Box Edition

May 25, 2015 Comments off

In the last installment of Zine Scene, I mentioned my love for Stormlord Publishing’s Black Powder, Black Magic… and the authors have started a new Kickstarter near and dear to my heart: The Zine Vault. Described as “A better way to store, organize, and transport your growing zine collection, plus dice, pencils, and more.” File this under: Why Didn’t I Think Of That?! Currently at 65% of it’s goal, I have no doubt it will finish strong and with my growing collection of zines it is going to make life very easy. Right now my zines are scattered hither and yon on my gaming bookshelf, tucked in wherever there is room. It will be nice to have a separate stand-alone ‘vault’ to protect them.

There’s a number of stretch goals associated with different types of art to be put on the boxes you order, and as it says in the video you can ‘mix and match’ from whatever is unlocked and have a blank one, a fantasy one, a weird west one, and a sci-fi one… or more! Two of each! Three blanks and three western! A great feature. I’m in for 8, figuring with the way the zine scene is growing there will be a need down the road for more.

As if that weren’t enough, all pledges will include a PDF of a new short adventure “The Vault of Pasha Kalthraga” and the higher tiers get both the PDF and a printed version thereof. Perfect for you to start your zine collection if you haven’t already got some. Check out Carl Bussler and Eric Hoffman on their Kickstarter video and store your zines safely!

All. The. Zines!

All. The. Zines!

 

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The Making of the Ghost Ring Review DCCRPG

May 20, 2015 Comments off

GhostRing-600I picked this up at GaryCon, but just gave it a thorough read-thru yesterday. The Making of the Ghost Ring is a 4th level adventure from Michael Curtis. The basic premise is to provide an example for the type of quests GMs can create around the creation of a magic item. While rules and tables for creating magic swords and staves (staffs?) are detailed in the core book, rings are not. Sidenote: The adventure it makes reference to the first DCCRPG Annual (ha!) for more information about creating magical rings. For those of you who have been DCC fans as long as I have, the Annual has become a bit of an in-joke, as the first “Annual” has been talked about since about 2012. Hopefully it will come in the form of something like Unearthed Arcana did for D&D, a bunch of cool, optional additions you can use to spice up your game. And now, back to the review…

The structure of this adventure works as you might expect. In order to complete the ring, certain tasks must be performed before a deadline, but true to Michael Curtis and DCCRPG adventures in general, the tasks you encounter will most definitely be memorable. I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers in here for folks who may play the adventure. This one weighs in at 20 pages with maps, and would likely take 2 solid gaming sessions to complete. I would *not* recommend this for a convention, as there is too much to do to fit most con slots.

One minor gripe that stuck out for me is the name of the place you seek out the ghost. She lives deep in a fetid swamp called… the Stink Pools. Really? C’mon Michael Curtis, are you going for laughs with that name? And this from the author of Gnatdamp in Gygax Magazine #1, an entire swampy town filled with great names! The other names in this are outstanding! The Ghost: Lifthrasir, the halfling: Nikademos Phedge, even the town is Oolvanvar. All great names. I know! It’s a little thing, and could be renamed something awesome, but just seems lame on the page.

The art throughout is excellent, and features an all female Band as the back inside cover. The wrap-around outside cover is one of Doug’s best. Mark Allen does the cartography which is good, but would benefit from hand-lettering the way Doug has done on previous adventures. The maps have awesome illustrations outside of the rooms to give you a flavor of the different areas, but the text in a plain font just isn’t as cool.

The overall adventure should provide some great fun, as the encounters are varied, and include a nice mix of strategy, traps and combat. 4th level seems to be a really nice sweet-spot for DCC in which the PCs are powerful, but not yet ridiculous. This adventure could also be a nice side-quest for an existing campaign, and Mr. Curtis leaves us plenty of adventure seeds at the end to continue the story or tie it in to a larger story arc. Overall, I would recommend picking this one up. It has some classic adventure elements with those memorable DCC twists that will keep your players talking about this one for many gaming sessions to come!

Princes of the Apocalypse Review PLUS Converting the Temple of Elemental Evil: T1 – The Village of Hommlet to 5th Edition

May 11, 2015 3 comments

First, let’s talk about Princes of the Apocalypse:

I picked up Princes of the Apocalypse a few weeks ago, after we had completed the Hommlet section of Temple of Elemental Evil.  In case you weren’t aware, Princes of the Apocalypse is 5th Edition’s campaign for this year, and is not a reboot of the classic module, but derives core ideas and starts a series of entirely new adventures.  They’ve done good work in not respawning the old story, but creating a new story with continuity to the old.

The philosophy is that Elemental Evil is something that transcends existence, touching down on various worlds through sheer force of will, infecting different communities with its blight.  Ergo, Greyhawk is one of the first places to suffer its wrath, but this time it has found the Forgotten Realms.   I can buy that, despite my intense love for  Greyhawk .

Fortunately, they have a simple and clever conversion guide showing how to place the new events of the Princes of the Apocalypse in Greyhawk, Eberron, Athas, and other worlds.  They translate factions to local entities, making the Harpers equate to the Circle of Eight, the Zhentarim to the Greyhawk Thieves Guild, and so on.

I love the old Temple of Elemental Evil, but as my group stares down the barrel of its 300 room dungeon, I am reminded now that my love is rooted in nostalgia that newer players will likely not appreciate.  Accordingly, it is perhaps necessary for a more modern take on game design be applied to a new module.  The designers nod to the old module, directing you how to get a copy and advising the ease of conversion (which is somewhat true).  I think they have narrowly avoided angering grognards and new players alike by pumping out a spruced up but changed Hommlet and Temple.  They’re not imitating the past, they’re building on it, depriving us curmudgeons of an opportunity to bitch about how they messed everything up in the reboot. So, well played, sirs.

Princes of the Apocalypse contains several new regional settings, great maps, and a story that crosses boundaries, suggesting a unifying element to Elemental Evil.   The remainder of the book contains items make this a must-have for those converting the old Temple.

First, there are several stat blocks for elemental priests and acolytes.  These are kept in a separate section of the book, and are easy to reference.  This is going to save you a fair bit of time when going through the various sects, with stats for elemental creatures as well that are completely new, but add nicely to the campaign world.  Temple of Elemental Evil suffered from a problem of having somewhat limited options (Monster Manual I) for filling the monster hotel.  Choice replacement may spice things up a bit in making your conversion, so I recommend you look at what’s here.

Secondly, Spells, many of which are fairly classic, are found in this book.  I did not pick up the Tyranny of the Dragon Queen, and I’m starting to worry that key and classic spells are going to start to appear in the back of numerous $50+ books, pushing players to collect them for  just a section of the book.  That may be the new way, unless they can be found elsewhere on a legitimate basis.  It’s not a good way to collect information, but I anticipate increasing web resources to fill that gap.

Third, Magic items are found in the book with details on several weapons of great power (artifacts) which I am going to place into my game in key places. Other more miscellaneous magic items also exist, fleshing out the DMG’s selection and providing thematically entertaining tools that keep the mystery of magic items alive.

For those reasons, I would recommend checking it out.  It’s good in it’s own right, and is  a truly epic campaign (taking the players up to 15th level).  I think that you’ll want to have it if you’re doing the old Temple, and see what you want to bring to it or change.

CONVERTING T1- THE VILLAGE OF HOMMLET

We’ve just finished this part of the module, so I can place the conversion material here now.  NOTE THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD so anyone getting ready to play the old T1: Village of Hommlet should stop reading now.  Below are a complete list of monsters found in the Moathouse and their page number in the Monster Manual. Some are quite obvious, but others not so much. I found these to most closely match the original intention and play of the first mod, and the challenge seemed spot-on.

  • Brigands p. 343
  • Bugbear p. 33
  • Crayfish, Giant  = (as Giant Scorpion p. 327 but no sting attack)
  • Frogs, Giant (Large) = Giant Toad p.329
  • Frogs, Giant (Small) = Giant Frogs 325
  • Ghouls p.148
  • Gnoll p.163
  • Green Slime DMG p.105 (it’s a hazard now)
  • Guardsman = Guard p.347
  • Lareth the Beautiful = See below
  • Leader = Berserker p.344
  • Lieutenant = Bandit Captain p. 344
  • Lizard, Giant = p.326 but add 2 to AC because of magic shield in its belly. Stupid, but true to form.
  • Ogre p.237
  • Rats, Giant p. 327
  • Sergeant = Thug p.350
  • Snake, Giant p327
  • Spider, Huge p.328
  • Tick, Giant = See below
  • Zombie p 316


Giant Tick

Reaper’s Giant Tick

Medium Beast, unaligned

AC 16, HP 22, Speed: 20′ Climb 20′

Str 14 Dex 8 Con 16 Int 2 Wis  8 Cha 6

Senses: Darkvision 60ft , Passive Perception 9

Languages — None

Challenge 1/4 (50XP)

SA: Blood Drain Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft, one reature. Hit: 1d6+2 piercing damage, and attaches to target.  While attached, Giant Tick doesn’t attack, each round target loses 1d6+2 for bloodloss.

Giant Tick can detach itself by spending 5 feet of its movement.  Drops off after draining 15 hp.  DC 14 Str check to remove)


Lareth the Beautiful

Medium Humanoid (Drow Elf)

Lareth the Beautiful

Level 5 ClericProficiency bonus +3

AC 21 HP 55 Speed: 25′

Senses: Darkvision 120′

Special Abilities – Sunlight Sensitivity, Channel Divinity (Trickery), Divine Spellcasting, Blessing of the Trickster, Invoke Duplicity

Str 18 (Save +4)

Dex 17 (Save +3)

Con 16 (Save +3)

Int 14 (Save +2)

Wis 18 (Save +7)

Chr 18 (Save +7)

Skills: Deception +7, Insight +7, Persuasion +7, Sleight of Hand +6

Abilities: Dancing Lights 1/day; Darkness 1/day

Attacks:

Staff of Striking [DMG p. 203] (+10 to hit, 1d6+7 plus 1d6 per charge expended)

Inventory – Plate Mail +1, Shield, Staff of Striking, Silver Holy Symbol, etc

Spells (DC 15)

Cantrips –  Guidance, Resistance, Sacred Flame, Thaumaturgy,

Level 1 –Bane, Charm person, Disguise Self, Healing Word, Inflict Wounds

Level 2 – Blindness, Hold Person, Silence

Level 3 –Animate Dead, Bestow Curse, Mirror Image, Pass without trace

Edge Bounty Hunters Guild – Careers

May 4, 2015 Comments off

Mandalorian_logoI’ve been kicking around this idea since picking up the Bounty Hunter’s Code 6 months ago, and I’ve decided to start a series of articles about setting up a pick-up game of Edge of the Empire, based on being Guild Bounty Hunters. What day better than May the 4th (be with you) to kick it off! Ideally the GM would have 2-3 scenarios prepped, each focusing on different sets of skills. The higher the bounty, the more difficult the baddies.

The players would bring 2-3 Guild bounty hunter PCs to the table, and choose from their stable the best team of hunters based on who shows up for game day. This would get boring quickly if we restricted the career and specialization to just that of Bounty Hunter (Gadgeteer) Bounty Hunter (Assassin) and Bounty Hunter (Survivalist). All three of course would be welcome on just about any hunt, but there are plenty of careers and specializations outside of the namesake that would make excellent hunters.

BHCAs I was re-reading the Bounty Hunter’s Code, the one that immediately jumped to mind is the Marshall, from the Colonist sourcebook. The Guild treats hunting like a very specialized version of law enforcement, and a Marshall (or narratively, ex-Marshall) with a past could make a really awesome vigilante-like hunter. Not only are you great in a fight, the Marshall has some social talents in Good Cop and Bad Cop that could be useful in tracking down leads; one way or the other.

Another fun option from the soucebooks would be Enforcer from the book on Hired Guns. Enforcer would be ideal for a player’s stable of hunters when the party needs to get up close and personal. This specialization blends melee and brawl skills with some talents that combine street smarts and an intimidating presence for those dens of inequity that require a bit of swagger. This blend of skills and talents would make for a strong addition to the party on an urban hunt.

SWE10-Book-leftIf you don’t have all the awesome sourcebooks out there (which I can understand, but they are SO good), there are plenty of specializations in the core book that could make fine additions to a Guild hunt. An Explorer (Scout) would make a great versatile edition to a team, especially for hunts that require travel to a remote destination or sparsely inhabited world. Survival can be a rare skill, but medicine is the big advantage, as few hunters would have training in that. I would also submit Technician (Slicer), as it never hurts to have a computer expert that can also train in mechanics and stealth.

This is just the beginning. One could make a case for several other “outside-of-the-box” hunter careers and specializations. Who will be available for the next job? What skills will they bring to the hunt to insure success? Next installment (which will likely be in several weeks), sample bounties!