Friday, 13 January 2017

Solo campaign session one: into cornfields

Every now and again I like to run a solo adventure with a lite ruleset, so I thought I'd do a campaign report here on my new In Darkest Warrens solo game.

First off, here's what I'm using: Mythic GME, 9Qs and story dice. 9Qs creates the structure, while Mythic answers questions and the dice flesh out the world. It works quite well.

Introducing Thurngast Goldscale, a dragonkin assassin out to redeem himself from a villainous past. He has a rapier, cloak and rope to begin with, with some money left over for lodgings and food.

He's knocking around the town of Aynor, after having fled his murderous past as an assassin for the Shivering Serpent. He has heard ravings that a farmer's head has been found on a pike on the north road and Red Orcs have been seen entering the farmstead. Thurngast saw this as an opportunity to help redeem himself, so went to meet with the mayor to see whether he could be of assistance (I figured this was due process and would keep Thurngast accountable). However, the mayor dismissed him, telling him there was no need to get involved. When asked if a retinue of guards would be sent to help the mayor said no. This was indeed incredibly odd.

Knowing lives were at stake, Thurngast went anyway, along an eerily silent path to the farmstead, not finding any traps along the way. He cut through the cornfield, rapier in hand, brimmed with a venom he had concocted from a Gung snake's glands. Emerging from the field he saw the farmhouse with one lone orc standing guard. He had to deal with the wretch swiftly. After a flurry of blows, Thurngast came out unscathed, while the orc's body was sliced asunder.

That was the end of the first session. There are a couple of questions that remain: what do the orcs want with a farmstead? And why was the mayor reticent to send any help? There is something not quite right in Aynor and Thurngast is going to get to the bottom of it.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Building Estagor - new campaign setting for In Darkest Warrens

I'm starting a new blog series where I create Estagor, a campaign setting for In Darkest Warrens, my minimalist fantasy system.

This is going to be kind of a mind dump area, where I brainstorm ideas and, with any luck, you guys can help me mould the setting. First I need to figure out what 'feel' I want the campaign to have. As this is coming from the British RPG scene, I would like to evoke that early 80s crust punk feel that art in games like Warhammer and Fighting Fantasy tended to have. A bit gritty, a bit dark and laced with black humour. I reckon if it were a soundtrack it would be later Darkthrone albums like Circle the Wagons and FOAD.

Image result for 80s warhammer art

Gary Chalk is a great example of an artist who creates this style of fantasy. Here's an example of Chalk's work (but do go and view all his work on his website). He's a bit of a favourite of mine, along with Russ Nicholson, for their incredible line illustrations that evoke this darkly funny fantasy world. 

                                                    Related image

So I suppose what I'm getting at is that Estagor is going to be a crust punk fantasy setting replete with dark humour. I don't want to go the Tunnels & Trolls route and make it obviously tongue-in-cheek, but perhaps a bit subversive. I'm thinking female rogues with mohawks and dirty cigarettes - very street level stuff. 

Next time I'll be looking at building the hook of Estagor. Hope you'll join me.

By the way - don't forget to pick up In Darkest Warrens and share your own creations. 

Friday, 6 January 2017

New D&D book taps into the old school

Wizards has just announced a new 5e book for April 2017 and, guys, it's a bit of a curve ball.

Tales from the Yawning Portal isn't the usual single module we're used to, but a mashup of several adventures from first and second edition D&D. So what have we got?

  • Against the Giants
  • Dead in Thay
  • Forge of Fury
  • Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
  • Sunless Citadel
  • Tomb of Horrors
  • White Plume Mountain
I have to admit that being a player who started around 3e, I've not been through any of these, but it does seem like Wizards is trying to take a slice of that OSR pie. Who can blame them? They did release a 4e version of Tomb of Horrors some years back but I can't remember how well received that was. I do remember that it was a bit more 'Fouthcore' than all those other frankly woeful modules for the edition.

My first thoughts are whether it would be cheaper to buy the modules separately and just re-stat yourself, but I suppose this does save time having everything done for you. 

The book will take players from levels 1-15.

Monday, 26 December 2016

King Arthur in Romance of the Perilous Land

If you've read through the RotPL book, you will note the tie to Arthurian lore. I would hesitate to call the game an Arthurian one, but I couldn't ignore the massive folklore impact the stories have had on Great Britain.

However, rather than talking explicitly about Arthur, he and his Knights are alluded to throughout the book so I wanted to make some clarifications about how he fits into the Perilous Land.

Here, Arthur still reigns over Camelot, which lies to the south west in the Perilous Land. Both he and his Knights of the round are the pinnacle of chivalry, their stories told throughout the land. Arthur is a famed monster hunter - with some saying he single handedly slayed a questing beast. In this way, Arthur is a knight class at the peak of his form at 10th level. He carries Excalibur (details in the rules) and wears chainmail.

In the Perilous Land there is no grail legend because there is no Christianity. That isn't to say in your game Arthur can't go hunting for a mythical artefact, but it just wouldn't be tied to Christ. Here, Arthur is a 'pagan' king. I will get into the Perilous Land pantheon at a later date, but he is in fact a follower of traditionally Welsh gods like Cerridwen, Dylan and Elaine.

Using Arthur in your game is pretty simple. The party could be on a quest from Camelot on the orders of the king to span the country looking to right wrongs and slay monsters. You could have Arthur become a legendary character that is only heard about but never actually seen.

I'll be detailing more about the Knights of the Round Table later.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Revenant for Romance of the Perilous Land

Merry Christmas one and all. I wanted to get a series started on new bits and bobs for Romance of the Perilous Land, my British folklore OSR game.

Today we have the Revenant - not the bear erotica flick with DiCaprio, but the walking corpses from middle ages lore. The Revenant is really a catch all term that covers many undead beings - from the aptrgangr in Norse mythology to the vampire of south-eastern European lore. In the Perilous Land revanents are commonly corpses that have risen from the grave to cause terror on the living. They do not necessarily drink blood or devour brains - they are evil, deceptive beings who would sooner psychologically torture someone than outright kill them.

Revenants arise through either black magic from a witch (a particularly powerful witch can catch Resurrect the Recently Deceased), or, one may arise if they die from being wronged - though this is much rarer and would likely happen in a location where magic is centered, such as a ring of standing stones.

HD 6 (16)
Attacks: Claw
Special: a Revanent is able to regenerate all HP after resting for 6 hours in their grave (or equivalent). In the daylight, halve the Revenant's HD and HP.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Get USR Sword and Sorcery in print

Just a quick one to say that Jay Murphy has released his excellent USR Sword and Sorcery book into print.

Discover more at the Vanishing Tower.