Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Last Will And Testament of Captain Danyo of Remlia,


I have traveled many worlds and I have spit in more eyes than most and fighting this dragon has put a lot into perspective for me. Eventually life gonna catch up with me and when it does my vast accumulation of wealth aught to go somewhere useful (assuming there’s any left). That’s why I’m having Steven write out these laying down papers for me before we go off to rescue Lurr. 

I’m not sure how you’re gonna get these things to these folks, since I myself don’t quite understand the nature of my traveling, but if you ever run into them by chance, here’s the distribution.

(Assuming of course I’m dead when you read this and you didn’t just sneak into the captains quarters to steal my wine)

There’s a Knight named Ragna in Remlia somewhere, I was told he was dead, but I think that may have been the treacherous lies of an old wizard. Give him my fishing pole and tell him to relax.

There’s a strip club in Tyr called the Cat’s Bones, give them half of any coin I’ve managed to scrape together by the time this gets opened, and tell them I was always a better dancer and these are my tips to prove it- they’ll get a kick outta that. The other half of the coin should go to Birch and Bat, they’re good folks.

As I’m having Steven write this I have in my possession several weapons of a magical nature. They have specific scabbards, and if I don’t manage to sheathe them myself I would have Rana do it for me, because I’ve seen the ice behind her eyes and I know she wouldn’t fuck it up. 

Blossom Buster and Spear Mynt go in the gut of the Elf King of Figaro, the bastard.
Tammy gets firmly planted in the skull of Kalak, former sorcerer king of Tyr.
Underbite goes with its sibling: Overbite, into the hands of Jasper Black, one of the greatest Fighters I’ve ever known.

Speaking of Jasper, I’m giving you my title (and hat) of Captain of the Tresendar. Don’t run it aground if you can manage.

Runt, I’d like for you to take care of Sandy, the Displacer Kitten I picked up in Athas- be careful with her, she’s getting kind of big. I saw her phase her whole mouth around a chicken the other day and I got  worried so I locked her below deck with a rum barrel and a few goats. She really likes drinking blood though so if it’s too much to handle you can probably foist her onto Milly. There’s also one last hit of blue sand behind the secret compartment in my self portrait above my bed, twist the eyepatch counterclockwise and have a good time with it bud.

Millie, I’m leaving you this pop up book I found in your home country, my doll collection, and my wardrobe, there’s some fun stuff in there and I know you’ll have a good time with it. Give my love to your mom and dad- 

A few other quick things- there’s a pickled goblin hand I found in a cave in Remlia some years ago, give it to the Pirate Queen of Mintarn and tell her I said I dig her style.

Look up Silas and Theodosia and give them my bronze medusa mirror, I dunno if it does anything weird but they’ve got a mirrored ceiling so I figure they’ll put it to good use.

That’s about it I think, I hope I didn’t miss anything or anyone- but if I did and you think something is rightfully yours,

Steal it back.

X

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Why are we down here?

You have to talk to people. 

I don't care how many dice are sitting on the table in front of you, eventually you actually have to interact with the people that are sitting at your table, or by extension, at their computer in the same video call as you. In order for this to be an experience that you think back to with anything resembling fondness you might want to consider a few things-

Does everyone know what kind of game this is going to be?/Are the groups expectations more or less on the same page?

I don't know if you've heard but there's like, a few options for RPG's these days. And the choice of which one you play only scratches the surface-

If a game system is a guitar (and it is) then not only are there like a bazillion different guitars to choose from (which all look different and cool but more or less they have strings and they let you play music) you also have to decide on a whole GENRE of music to play, with what is ostensibly your new BAND. Cuz buckle up buddy, you're in a BAND now- with the people who are sitting around you with their dice and their snacks and whateverthefuck else goddamn late capitalism fun time think geek accessories they brought with them. I KNOW I'M MIXING THE METAPHORS. It's intentionally confusing because if you walk your ass into BAND PRACTICE and you start laying down a face melting, gut busting metal riff and your drummer only knows how to play goddamn SMOOTH JAZZ well shit sonny you might have a weird time. Or a bad time. Or you might pull it off in which case cut your album/write your system and make a dime.

But regardless this is why people talk about the kind of music they play before they commit to being in a band and it's why you should talk about the games/stories/shows/inspirational youtube videos your gaming group likes before you start playing. And then like, decide on the kind of game you want to run.

Do you like these people?

The most popular piece of pithy writing I ever spat onto Tumblr was this:

"Don't play D&D with anyone you wouldn't go on a 3 hour car trip with"

I deleted the original post because it destroyed my notifications. 
I learned a few things from posting this, most notably that some people can manage to play for 7 or 8 hours at a time. If you can do this, good for you! Personally I would rather scoop out my eyes with a spoon than spend a full workday roleplaying but I'M NOT HERE TO TELL YOU HOW TO HAVE FUN. I'm just handing you a condom to carry your dice in.



The greater point i'm wobbling towards is that much like any activity involving more than just yourself, you should examine for a brief moment the quality of the company you are planning to keep for this foray into the world of imagination. It's okay to not want to play an RPG with someone, EVEN SOMEONE YOU LIKE. I'm not going to go into all the ways that you can let that person down easily but that's because it's a general life skill and there are more qualified folks who've taken a stab at that already. I'm just saying you should probably try to know what you're walking into, which leads me to this-
 
Are you cool with leaving if you don't like these people?

Say you've thrown caution to the wind and ignored every single piece of advice I have so far given, and you sit down, blind, to a game at a convention or other such wild west of a gaming tableu. UH OH. What if everyone at the table simultaneously takes off their baseball cap and reveal that they were all wearing FEDORAS or A SIMILAR STYLE OF HAT WORN BY THE PERSON IN THE COMMENTS THAT WILL BE LIKE "I THINK YOU MEAN TRILBY"
 
Then between swings of their katana sharp tongues uttering malapropacious memesplanings you must make a choice, do you love games more than your own comfort and sanity? I can only hope the answer is yes, because the world is big and wide and D&D is fucking MAINSTREAM AS SHIT now and you can do better- 

don't give up, don't be afraid to ask questions, and good luck out there.




Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Downtime Thieving

Instead of carousing after an adventure, a thief can choose to go on a solo mission to steal from local homes and businesses. Unlike a traditional carousing roll, the Thief gambles with their skill proficiency and if they win, they get experience AND gold, however, upon failing any of the required checks they have to roll on a fairly brutal table that may leave them significantly hobbled.

The thief decides on the size of the job they want to pull and rolls a corresponding amount of skill checks to determine whether or not they succeed. Here’s how it breaks down:

Small Job = 2 successful skill checks, reward = 1d6x100 gold and experience
Medium Job = 3 successful skill checks, reward = 1d8x150 gold and experience
Large Job = 4 successful skill checks, reward = 1d10x200 gold and experience

A thief must succeed on all of their checks to claim their treasure and experience. They cannot roll the same check more than once per job. They can use any thieves skills available to them. If they fail they must roll on this table.

1. Amateur hour. It was a sloppy job, you lose half the gold and xp. Tighten up.

2. Caught by the fuzz! You make no money and get no XP, thrown in jail with bail set at half of what you were expecting to make.

3. Dogs! Oh shit, you got bit! Start your next adventure at -1d4 health and a crippling fear of canines.

4. Caught and beaten up. Start your next adventure at -1d6 health and a lovely assortment of bruises.

5. You made it out with the loot but they saw your face. Wanted posters of you all over town with a reward of x5 what you stole.

6. Caught by a trap! Save vs. Poison or wake up at -4 health in a gutter with a thieves brand in a place of prominence.

7. Another thief beat you to the loot. You walk away empty handed.

8. The thieves guild is unhappy with you moving in on their territory. Pay 1d6 x100 in “reparations” or go on a hit list.

9. You pulled off the job but another thief was watching you from the shadows and mugged you on your way back to secure the loot. Lose the loot and all the stuff you were carrying/wearing.

10. The painting you tried to steal was cursed! Save VS. Petrification.

11. Acid Trap! No loot and your face is badly burned. -1 to your charisma score.

12. It turns out you stole faerie gold. It turned into dirt at sunrise, laughing stock of other thieves for 1d4 weeks.

13. The gold you stole was marked. 50% loss to launder it.

14. Seduced by someone who was in the house. They tied you up after you took your clothes off, but you managed to escape…in the nude and without any of the loot.

15. Grifted at the pawn shop. Get 1/4 the value of your fenced goods in gold but all the XP. It’s a life lesson.

16. You got cold feet and never even robbed the place. Chicken.

17. Captured by a vengeful homeowner. Roll a sleight of hand (or equivalent skill) to keep from losing your hand. No loot.

18. The place you tried to rob turned out to be the front for a large drug operation. Pay the amount you were expecting to make or lose your tongue.

19. Tripped on the cat and fell down the stairs. Dexterity type save or break your neck and die.

20. Poisoned! And you're addicted to it. You need a dose before every adventure you go on or you suffer -2 to all rolls. Save ends.

Friday, May 25, 2018

From the Diary of Yareh Falsong: Dicocoven, New Moon


Have you ever fucked an orc in the river of dreams?

I have. And let me tell you something diary, I’m not entirely sure how I survived the ripples of that one. It was just my luck that I ended up as some sort of chosen mook of Orcagorgon, and that his idea of calling in a favor is “Put an end to the Chairman of Vampires”

Did you know that the Chairman of Vampires is 15 ft tall? I didn’t. I was expecting some chump in a cape, and I’ll admit that’s on me but for fucks sake after we made it past the trolls with the blood bags (don’t ask it wasn’t pretty) and followed Thiggy’s (a decapitated troll head we got direction from) directions to the Chairman’s study, which was all GIANT SIZED I very nearly felt frightened.

After we secured a few of the scrolls for removal later we proceeded into a CHESS ROOM. That Bela Legosi motherfucker had a CHESS ROOM, and based on the fight we had with the shade inhabiting the white king it seems like no expense was spared. Kudos to Ribbon for snaring that thing in her magic cape, and diary remind me to fix the sword hole I put in that magic cape.

I gotta give props to Brutal Pete for being prepared with a few choice potions for this one. I’ve been broke for months and basically went into this geas with a hangover and a death wish. We busted in on the Chairman while he was in his sarcophagus and cracked it open like the worst walnut ever. They never mention the smell that comes out of a freshly opened sarcophagus but let me tell you it’s a treat- not to mention the fact that he looked like a piece of raw chicken with the skin peeled off.

As soon as he came out I cracked him a good one, but it should be made clear that my best “cracking him a good one” wasn’t going to be of much help. He almost crushed the robot that was adventuring with us and if not for some luck and a potion of undead control we would be exsanguinated husks hanging on the corner of his door like raincoats.

But instead we made him our puppet, made him show us his treasure (it was A LOT of treasure) and had him walk with us out into the cold light of day.

It would have went off without a hitch if the robot hadn’t insisted on stealing some VERY OBVIOUSLY trapped ruby vampire fangs out of a statue and nearly getting me killed when the GELATINOUS CUBE MADE OF BLOOD tried to chew off my feet as we got into the elevator. If Brutal Pete hadn’t risked his life dragging my ass in I wouldn’t be writing this now.

Brutal Pete is gonna be my next tattoo.

We brought the Chairman to the Dreaming River and I baptized him in the name of Orcagorgon- melted the head clean off him.

Take that you 15 foot Snailmas ham, I fucked in that water.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Video Games and Tabletop Games and When to Stick that Peanut Butter in the Chocolate

So I just read THIS. Which is an article about Alex Gygax working with  turning some of Gary's old unpublished adventures and home setting stuff into video games.

Here's a quote:

“I grew up playing this and I’m also a huge video gamer, so I’ve always wanted to see my dad’s work because I thought that they were some of the greatest stories and tough adventures,” Alex said. “I’ve always wanted to see them put out in the next level. Pen and paper is a dying art. Computer games, video games, they’re the next generation, the next wave of games and I’ve always wanted to see them on that new medium and I’ve always wanted to be working with someone who’s excited as I am about it.”

Pen & paper is hardly dying, I think anyone that has seen the massive following that actual-play podcasts like The Adventure Zone and streaming games like Critical Role have know that. And anyone that refers to video games as "The next generation" is possibly unstuck from time.

Something else that bothers me here is the idea that by plucking these adventures from their intended system and rehashing them as video games you are somehow upgrading them. It's like going and seeing an exhibition of beautiful and well shot photographs and telling the artist you would really enjoy their work if all of their photos were ceramic jars instead. Maybe that's true but why on earth were you there in the first place?

I don't want this to come across as some argument against adapting things. I think the idea of reverse engineering a system from a different system is totally cool and fun, Mute is working of an adaptation of Diablo for tabletop play which I'm very excited to try. It's a time honored tradition in tabletop games to look at something and say, "How would I do that with dice?" and you would be hard pressed to find an RPG video game that didn't owe something to the worlds most popular fantasy roleplaying game

BUT

The things that are satisfying about both TTRPGs and video games are more universal than a setting or a specific story. The feeling of exploration, anticipation, camaraderie and adventure are shared throughout games of all kinds. The thing that differentiates these mediums is approach and focus. Swinging a sword in a video game is different than saying that you're swinging a sword at the table, and you can build whole games around those differences, but in the end what you're left with is a ship, and a the point of a ship is to sail somewhere.

I guess what I'm really trying to say here is that "Lejendary Adventure" is a really dumb name and letting me buy it on Steam isn't going to change that J to a G.

By Jary Jyjax





Session 3: Spooky Woods & Mountain Jerks.


Part 1.

The party departs the Lonely Goat early in the morning, opting to save their cash and not purchase mounts. They spend the better part of a day leaving The Fields of Amber. The path to the mountains is heavily forested and they reach the woods around nightfall. The woods are very spooky and theres like, a lot of owls.

Deciding to find a spot to camp for the evening, the party wanders off the trail only to be met by a voice in the dark.

"Stay back you fiends!"



So theres a knight sitting at a campfire wearing this really old, worn armor that's covered in crests that nobody recognizes. And the party is like, whoa, relax my dude we're not here to do you dirty just looking to camp it up in these woods. The knight relaxes a bit and relates to them his story. He says that he's the last left from an expedition to the West to get medicine for his town, which he says is about a days journey away and beset by terrible disease. Around now Ovaria leans into the rest of the party and is like-

"Can't we just fucking murder this fossil?"

Which is a thing you say when you're the only chaotic evil member of the party, but the rest of them are like...nah.

But they do go through his stuff while he spends some time monologuing and find some pots of medicine hidden in the back of his cart that I think I described as "really old" because I wasn't playing my clues too close to my chest for this one.

So The knight keeps talking and name dropping a bunch of stuff that some good rolls confirm the party has no fucking clue about. And it's about now that Ted, who's playing an Eldritch Knight named Vorador Twitchel says

"I bet he's an unstuck from time Kilgore Trout ghost knight"

And of course he was because thats exactly the kind of shit I'm always peddling in my games, and so I panic and move on to the next bit of the encounter because for some reason I didn't think they would get it that fast because most of the time there has to be a neon sign to get the party to clue in on something that isn't a weird fixation they have on a jar that I described too well.

So there's a noise in the woods and some arrows come flying and one hits the knight in the leg and then he's like

"AROOOO I'm a kill you bandits and save my toooooooown"

And the party is just sitting there while he grabs his sword and he's like

"To arms my comrades!"

But they're like, let's see how this plays out and do nothing and of course the ghosts do a ghost fight with each other and one of the bandits attacks the party and it's sword goes through them in what would have been a big reveal if I cared more about developing an air of mystery but mostly it was good comedy and the knight got murdered by the bandits and the whole scenario of the bandits looting his shit played out and then I started to think on my feet and decided that this whole scenario would play on a loop. 

So now it's Groundhog Day + Unstuck from time + the knight at the end of Last Crusade and the party watches the whole scenario play out a bunch of times through the night and starts doing MST3K style riffing of it like its a bad movie and there was much merriment yada yada.



The next day they take the medicine* into the town (which is rubble because the ghost was from like 300 years ago) and they put it on the alter in the church and a bunch of children's ghosts fly out of the church and on the breeze they here the crusty old knight say

"Thaaaaaaanks"

And that was a hex and it took about an hour. Oh and the party searched the rubble of the town and found a box with some weird cubes that caused various minor magical effects like flashes and steam and stuff (Thank's for all the random loot over the years Vornheim)

*It was hidden so the bandit's didn't find it and just took the Knight's armor and food.

Here's my rules for Ghosts real quick:

Ghosts are created when a creature dies with unfinished business in a particularly magically charged area.
Ghosts cannot speak of their misfortune for they do not know it.
Ghosts cannot leave the place where their blood was spilled.

Ghosts are free to leave this plane when their task is complete.

Part 2.

The party sets off once again and begins to traverse the Gaptooth Mountains and after about a half day's march they find themselves at The Bridge Keep.

like this but without the waterfall.

They make their way across the first half of the bridge and meet the nice man (think Billy Eichnor) who extorts you for a lot of money so you can cross and he informs them that it's 50g per person and when they don't have enough to cross he's like

"I don't care"

So they try a lot of hijinks to get try and get past, but it didn't work because this is the kind of place designed to foil all of your hijinks with bows and arrows and rocks and hot oil and get your cash so I got to say no a lot and I made the guy SUPER rude and sarcastic so the players REALLY hated him. After about 3 or 4 hijinks he informs the party that theres a rowboat back a the beginning of the bridge down a precarious set of stairs and wishes them luck rowing across The Lake of Tears.

They all vow to murder him someday and climb in the rowboat.

They make it about halfway across the lake and I let them know that there's (obviously) something swimming up from below at them. So it's at this point that my players start to play a little game called:

GUESS WHAT THE DM IS ABOUT TO THROW AT US

After cycling through all the pop culture references they can think of (Krakens, Eels, Etc) I yelled at them all and said it wasn't going to be ANYTHING THEY COULD POSSIBLY GUESS. (which was a total lie because it was evil mermaids) and I considered making it like 30 regular horses just to fuck with them but accidentally perfectly described Old Gregg without realizing what I was doing.


So then Old Gregg The Evil Mermaid told them that it's people also required tolls and that they could pay with

1. Newborn babies blood
2. Everyone's left eye
3. A bottle of wine

And after a meticulous combing of their character sheets for wine (all they had was brandy) and a realization that they all really like their eyes somebody threw one of the weird cubes they picked up in the village at the mermaids head and it got distracted and they did a rowboat chase and made it to the shore and climbed up the cliffside because more than half the party has Spider Climb I guess.

Another hex completed and I did not expect for this blog post to be this long.

Thanks for hanging in there.

BONUS CONTENT

Dungeon Room
"The First Guess"

"The room is an unassuming 30x30 feet with pattern printed tile walls, floor and ceiling. The first character to guess the gimmick of the room is absolutely correct and whatever they say happens, happens. If no one makes a guess by the time the party has made it through the room, a treasure chest containing Type A loot will appear in the center of the room. The party can poke and prod the room however they like without invoking the "curse" as long as no one says "I bet its X" or a similar phrase.

Friday, April 6, 2018

From The Diary of Yareh Falsong. Lands of Vyzor. 4/6/2018

Dear Diary,

I've been on hiatus for a while, after I came back from the dead, and Sleet and I did that whole Monday night RAW thing (which felt like it lasted weeks) I took a few weeks off to get my head straight. Mostly I drank, but at least I didn't go drunk-thieving like I usually do, I think coming back as (mostly) a human was good for me. I got real deep into the crow-mind for a year or so and I have to say that it's a pretty dark place, I probably wouldn't have hired a demon and killed a bunch of thieves guild had it not been for the bucket of greed seeds I was calling a brain back then.

Being dead was weird though, I saw Orcagorgon in all their demonic majesty- 7 flaming crowns and all. It was cool but I was getting this totally judgey vibe from them because I'm still all geased up and I haven't gone on their weird God-quest. Which is probably why I still have this mad beefy orc arm, though all the tattoos on it are weird and demonic now. Sometimes I just stare at them for hours when I'm trying to...

What was I talking about? I just blacked out for a second. I came back to my room early after hitting the bars tonight and I'm not used to it being this quiet when I'm blasted.

So anyways I ended my vacation with that crazy party up at the Skyfortress that Sleet just captured. It was pretty wild, I got drunk and accidentally burned down the King of all Apple Trees, but everyone agreed it was an accident. They wouldn't have any way of knowing that Orcagorgon had old beef with that tree, right? Either way I'm all pawn in this chessgame and if a transdimentional being with 7 flaming crowns says to burn a tree down I'm just gonna do it, they don't pay me enough NOT to.

I blew pretty much the rest of my gold on booze a the party so it was time to get back on the old dungeon express and I hooked up with Kat Eumeleia, Brax of Tallstones, Lars Hootman and a collection of our hired goons to go on a quest that Kat got from her deity, Ke$ha The Star Goddess.


As delves go it was pretty smooth. We headed down the Dreaming River to this land called Wessex that I'd never been too, although I've heard some pretty buckwild stories about it from some of the older tavern crowd. We entered through a tower and not before long we ran into a Minotaur. Thankfully he spoke Orcish and instead of killing us on sight he was a total bro and gave us directions to where the cult was that was holding onto the silver ball that Kat needed. We had to find a winch that lowered us down to the 4th floor, which wasn't too hard to get to. "Avoid the 5th floor though, it's a fucking bloodbath down there" he said, the blood and entrails of an orc he was consuming spattering from his bovine lips.

The first room of the fourth floor was furnished and there were some cultists lounging around playing cards with a couple of zombie henchmen. We gave them the old, "we brought booze" routine, but Hootman didn't have any wine on him. Luckily Brax had a flask and I was holding a few nugs of good Vyzorian Kush. We put some in the air with the cultists and they got real chill and took us to see the silver ball they were guarding. The chamber was chocked full of zombies and there was no way we were killing all of them (they had this crazy purple slime on their claws and I do NOT fuck with slime) so I invoked the ancient kush-curse of "reminding them they were like, super hungry" (which is a total dick move I know but I don't have the gold to come back from hell again) and told them there was a burrito place back out through their chamber and up the winch. I was honest to god shocked when all of them cleared out and left us alone with the silver ball.


We got to work quick. Brax grabbed the silver ball, Kat went for a nice looking chalice and dagger on the alter, it was totally cursed and I was about to give her a hard time about it but then as soon as I pooped the first gem out of the eye I got zapped with magic lighting and a gong went off, filling the room with more cultists.

Turns out they were some lame ass jerks though and we smashed them good, the only casualty being Kat's nose, which we at least managed to retrieve. We booked it out of there and wended our way back to the elevator via the other chamber door. One of the stoned cultists was passed out there and we realized that the rest of them had ridden the elevator up and were arguing with the hirelings we left there to work the winch. 

"Burrito place? I don't think..."

After a quick party huddle we grabbed the sleeping cultist and put a knife to his throat. "Tell them the burrito place is on level 5 or I give you a new mouth just south of the old one" I whispered in his ear. He was quick to comply and we were treated to the scene of 3 hungry cultists and 17 zombies on an elevator eagerly awaiting their burritos. Vyzorian Kush is a hell of an herb. 

After they got off the lift we called up to the hirelings to raise it back up, but they informed us there were two zombies left behind working the winch now, so Brax and I climbed the chain. I tossed him one end of a rope and we gave the zombies the old malicious jumprope routine and sent them over the edge. 

We raised the rest of the party up and made our way back out of the dungeon. I'm still surprised it went so smoothly. 

Ke$ha must have been watching over us. 

Y