Monday 20 December 2010

The troll is leaving the bridge for a few days

It's my friend's birthday on Wednesday and me and the rest of our friends have something awesome planned for him that involves being out of the country for a couple of days (he has no idea where we're going, so I won't say just in case he reads this, the sneaky blighter).

So if I don't speak to you before, though I imagine I will, have a fantastic Christmas everyone and thanks for your support this year. Trollish Delver salutes you.

Sunday 19 December 2010

Marvel heroes for Risus

I've already told you how much I like the Risus system. It's simple, versatile and can fit to any genre. With that in mind, I'm thinking of running a Marvel supers game in the new year, so I've written up some characters for my players to choose from. If you have your own you want to put forward then leave me a comment.

Captain America (Bucky)

Description: Hardened soldier with a sense of humour. Bucky tries his best to fill the red boots of his hero Steve Rogers.

Cliches: Cybernetic arm (3), Acrobat (2), Strives to be the best (3), Soldier (5)

Iron Man

Description: Billionaire businessman who always sticks to his guns, even if it gets him into hot water. Also - awesome tech.

Cliches: Super genius (3), Power armour (5), Ladies' man (2), Visionary (3)


Description: Witty web-head who's just an ordinary guy. Y'know, with superpowers.

Cliches: Webslinger (4), Agile (3), Science nerd (4), Never shuts up (2)

Ms Marvel

Description: Carol Danvers was normal until she was exposed to radiation that gave her super sweet Kree powers.

Cliches: Super sweet Kree powers (5), Super spy (3), Compassionate (2), Pilot (3)


Description: Norse god in a surgeon's body. He's blonde, speaks funny and can summon lightning KRAKOOOM!

Cliches: Godly powers (5), Protector of Midgard (3), Mjollnir (3), Donald Blake (2)

Friday 17 December 2010

Preparing for Christmas

Hey guys, like many people I'm getting ready for the Holidays, so I haven't been updating TD as much as I should. Rest assured that I'll be updating from Sunday, so don't leave me. PLEASE DON'T LEAVE MEEEE!


Tuesday 14 December 2010

Out of the Pit

It came! I've just been flicking through Out of the Pit, a book that's jam packed with creatures from the Fighting Fantasy universe for use with the Advanced Fighting Fantasy rules. It contains a map of Allansia, 250 creatures and random treasure and monster tables. The artwork is taken straight from the gamebooks, so they're the great quality we've come to expect from the series. I think these awesome monsters deserve a T&T stat conversion - so I'll be putting a few on the blog every now and again.

Sunday 12 December 2010

T&T Villian: Kandy Kane

You better watch out, you better not cry, because Kandy Kane will lay the smackdown on your sorry ass. Kane used to be a joyful lass, but that was when she was back in her own world - a dimension inhabited almost exclusively by elves, where Christmas came everyday and everyone was ridiculously happy. However, one day a mage in Trollworld was experimenting with cosmic magic to open a portal that would let him get to the shops down the road in a second, but instead tore a rift in space-time. Kandy Kane was in the wrong place at the wrong time and she fell through the dimensional rift and appeared in Trollworld, right before the rift closed permanently. Then she turned angry. Real angry. The comparatively hellish realm that she had been forced into was too much for her and after a while she snapped and began plotting the world's downfall supervillian style and find a way to get to her old home.

NAME: Kandy Kane
Level 5 Female Elf Warrior
Height: 6'11", Weight: 200 lbs.

ST: 21, INT: 31, LK: 31
CON: 5, DEX: 34, CHR: 40
SPD: 9, WIZ: 10

Adds: 50

Wt. Possible: 2100, Wt. Carried: 959.5
Elven (native language), Common Tongue, Orcish,
Balrog, Avian

Gold: 641 gp

Chill Blade of the Northlands, Dice+Adds: 4+1
ST Req'd: 10, DEX Req'd: 12
Value: 55, Wt: 90.0

Wintertip Bow, Dice+Adds: 3+2
ST Req'd: 5, DEX Req'd: 8
Value: 35, Wt: 50.0
Range: 30 yards

Buckler, Hits Taken: 3
ST Req'd: 1
Value: 10, Wt: 75.0

Breastplate of Winter's Wrath, Hits Taken: 14
St Req'd: 10
Value: 130, Wt: 15

Saturday 11 December 2010

Journeying to the Fabled Lands this Xmas

I've focused a few posts lately on Fighting Fantasy, but I've just found out some news that will add another gamebook series for me to obsess over. Fabled Lands has been re-released, at least the first four of the six books, and I've just ordered the first two to play over Christmas.

What sets the Fabled Lands series (or Quest series, for my American friends)apart from other gamebooks is the massive open-ended gameplay. There is no overarching quest that you must complete to 'win' the game, like in Fighting Fantasy. Rather, each book contains an area of the game world that you can explore at your own leisure. There are hundreds of quests to undertake, from really short to fairly epic; property to invest in and a fluid economy for you to trade in. You also get to choose from a bunch of classes when you begin your adventure, giving Fabled Lands more depth than your run-of-the-mill gamebooks.

There were six books that were originally printed (although 12 were planned), each increasing in difficulty as the series progressed and each with their own theme. If you want to travel to another land then all you need to do is pick up the book that land is set in. Think of each of the sequals as an MMO expansion, adding vast amounts of content for you to roam in.

The books in the re-released series are as follows (descriptions from Wikipedia):

1. The War-Torn Kingdom

Sokara, a nation at war with itself

Set in the land of Sokara, shortly after a civil war in which the king was overthrown in a military coup. This background provides the book's two major quests; the player can choose to either help the heir to the throne and his band of partisans regain power, or assist the new leader General Grieve Marlock in crushing the last few pockets of resistance.

Other quests involve assassinating the king of the rat-men infesting the sewers in the city of Yellowport, looting treasure from the lair of Vayss the Sea Dragon, delivering packages between the druids of the City of Trees and the Forest of Larun, defeating the Black Dragon Knight in combat to the death and rescuing a trapped god from the summit of Devil's Peak.

2. Cities of Gold and Glory

Golnir, a wealthy land steeped in curious folklore

Set in the prosperous kingdom of Golnir, wealthy from its rich agriculture. A common complaint readers had about the second book was that it was far more difficult to find quests than in the first book. There are still several major quests, however, including slaying a dragon for the Baroness Ravayne (the ruler of Golnir), searching for magical artefacts for the wizard Estragon, bringing to justice a murderer on behalf of his victim's ghost, finding the key of stars to gain access to a treasure filled tomb in the Forest of the Forsaken and making a map of the northern mountains.

The quests in the second book have a more whimsical, fairy tale nature to them than those in the first book. This gives Golnir a very strong Merry England atmosphere.

3. Over the Blood-Dark Sea

Swashbucking adventure on the high seas

Set in the Violet Ocean, which separates the northern continent of Harkuna from the southern continent of Ankon-Konu. Travel is severely restricted without a ship, making it a difficult book to start off in, particularly for less experienced gamebook readers. Over the Blood-Dark Sea is also one of the first in the series to feature regular danger - the player is almost always at risk of pirates, storms and even sea monsters.

Key quests include assassinating Amcha, king of the pirates, enrolling at a wizard's college in the city of Dweomer to learn magic, searching for buried treasure on hidden islands and climbing the enormous mountain on Starspike Island.

4. The Plains of Howling Darkness

The desolate wastes of the Great Steppes

Set in the Great Steppes, an environment of grasslands, plains and tundra similar to Siberia and Mongolia. Key quests include liberating the Citadel of Veris Corin for the King of Sokara (closely linked with quests in The War-Torn Kingdom), releasing the King of Harkuna from his prison underneath the Rimewater (closely linked with quests in The Court of Hidden Faces) and killing the immortal tyrant Kaschuf (based on the legend of Koschei the Deathless) who rules over the village of Vodhya (which requires the player to find and release his soul, hidden on an island in Over The Blood-Dark Sea).

This was the first book in the series to introduce the concept of a harsh environment - out on the Steppes, the player must make constant SCOUTING rolls in order to find enough food, and on the northern steppes the player loses one point of stamina a day from the cold, unless they have a wolf pelt to keep warm.

I'll be reviewing each book when I've had a play. Hopefully we'll see the remaining two books released soon.

T&T Monster: Sugar Plum Fairy

I suppose it's time for Trollish Delver to get festive, so to kick it off here's a holiday themed monster for your T&T game.

Sugar Plum Fairy

Monster Rating: 34
Combat Dice: 4d6+17
Special Damage: 1/Call Flame
Special Abilities: Hidden in Pastries - Sugar Plum Fairies are undetectable by any form of magic when they are concealed inside a pie. They can even survive being baked! They get an automatic surprise round when coming out of a pastry.
Description: Sugar Plum Fairies are evil little creatures that hide in fruit pies or pastries and lie in wait for a family to tuck into the violent dessert before jumping out and unleashing magic fire on its victims. It has become festive tradition to stab a hot pie a few times with a fork just in case one of these little blighters is hidden inside.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Playing Fighting Fantasy books with a group

Now I realise that there are in fact two Fighting Fantasy roleplaying games as well as d20 and GURPS conversions, but I've been thinking today about how I would go about running a Fighting Fantasy gamebook for a gaming group. Since the material is all there for you in one book it would be easy to pick up and play with little to no prep.

I'd imagine the players would all be one character. You could duplicate creatures for each player at the table but I could see that becoming cumbersome and time consuming. But to stop the players from getting bored of being part of the same character, I would assign them each roles, such as these:

Master of Stats

The Master of Stats would take care of all the character's stats, deducting and adding to attributes as well as overseeing special rules such as fear and time. The Master of Stats has the final say in using potions to increase/decrease stats.

Master of Equipment

This player would note down all items that the character begins with and collects/loses on the way. The Master of Equipment has the final say in whether a magical object should be used.

Master of Maps

This player draws a map of the gamebook world as the character travels, noting page numbers as he goes. He is also in charge of plotting the three save points on the character's journey. The Master of Maps has the final say in which direction to go and where to plot a save point.

I can't really think of any more roles. If there were a Master of Dice he wouldn't have a whole lot to do, so I would suggest letting players go round the table clockwise for each round of combat to roll dice. I've also mentioned the Master of Maps can plot save points. There coould be three that can only be used once, so they must be used wisely. If the map is any good then the players shouldn't have any problem finding their way back to a point where they died anyway, even if it's a long way from the last save point.

What do you think? I envision plenty of arguments, but the final say much go to the relevant Master. I may try it out and report back.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Why I love Memoir '44

Back in the day I played 40K and the Lord of the Rings wargame, mainly with friends but sometimes in big in-store games. More recently I played Napoleonics and thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I always tend to lose. Miniature wargames have always been a part of me, but it's only recently that I have got into war-themed boardgames.

The great thing about these is that you get everything you need to play from the get-go in one box. Granted, they're not cheap, but often you can get many hours of play just from that one box, whereas miniature games tend to swallow money gradually as you expand and upgrade your army.

The one aspect of war boargames is you need a good head for rules. Luckily I'm used to complex rules, as a result of playing lots of roleplaying games and CCGs, so that doesn't really bother me. However, some of the more advanced games can really get bogged down in the most intricate mechanics (see Advanced Squad Leader), and although they are really great games, they aren't games I have time to get into.

Not too long ago I picked up Memoir '44, which was my first step into the hobby. Since it was recommended for beginners I thought it would be a good way to start. I was right. Memoir '44, a boardgame based on some of the more famous battles of WWII in 1944, is wonderful. The rules are simple to learn but there is a lot of strategy involved in the game. The components are well-made and when set up the whole thing looks impressive. Me and my girlfriend have a lot of fun playing Memoir, and she doesn't like my 'nerdy' games.

For my birthday she bought me Tide of Iron, which we decided to take for a spin at the weekend. We were working through the rules as we went but she soon became bored and a bit confused (not that I can blame her) so we packed up after a few turns. I'll probably introduce TOI to my regular gaming group and get some games going, but right now Memoir '44 is really scratching that wargame itch. Since there are a bunch of expansions and hundreds of free scenarios online, it's definitely a game that will keep me interested for a long time to come. So if you're looking to step into the war boardgaming hobby or maybe you're a wargamer who fancies something a bit lighter, then I highly recommend this game.

The sexiest adventure

Awww yeah!

Weird monkeys.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Fighting Fantasy Newspunch: November

As the nights grow dark and the winter chill sets in, there's never been a better time to curl up with a good Fighting Fantasy adventure and a hot chocolate by the fire. Here's what's been happening in November in the world of Titan.

New Books: Curse of the Mummy and Forest of Doom

Wizard have released the covers for two revised adventures that will be dropping in February: Curse of the Mummy and Forest of Doom. I think they look awesome.

PSN Fighting Fantasy Minis

There has been more information released about the upcoming Talisman of Death on the Playstation Network. Check out these images and details to whet your appetite.

Destroyer of Worlds Fan Adventure

Are you a bit out of pocket because of all the Christmas spending, but you want to play some original Fighting Fantasy material? Then fear not, because Shane Garvey, R M Kawano and Phil Sadler have you covered with their ongoing effort called Destroyer of Worlds. It's free!

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Avast! Sea adventures, T&T style

Hoist the sails! Man the helm! Pieces of eight! Sometimes to mix a campaign up a little it's a good idea to have a change of scenery. Taking the players from the shores to the sea is a great way of doing this, whether it be a short trip to a small island or a month long voyage across the ocean to a distant continent.

There are a host of dangers for delvers to come across while at sea. Vicious storms can appear as if from nowhere, throwing the ship all over the bloody place; great sea monsters can surface to pull the delvers into the briny depths; magical vortexes can throw them into a completely different location. Pirates may try to board their vessel and loot them or just try and gun them down with cannons.

These aren't the only dangers at sea. Without vitamin C the delvers could develop scurvy if they're on a long voyage. They could even become mad or the crew could stage a mutiny. In any case, sea adventures certainly won't be dull.

So let's take a gander at what these dangers will look like in the game shall we?

Sea Monsters

So what nasty beasties lurk in the waters that await the players?

Kudas (MR 40-90): These barracuda men could climb aboard from their ocean home and terrorize the sailors with spears made of rock from the sea bed.

Sea Devils (MR 50): These red scaly creatures are able to fly out of the water and attack sailors. On a roll of three sixes a Sea Devil casts Smog.

Leviathan (MR 600): Few have lived to tell the tale of coming face to face with the Leviathan. Said to measure over 400 feet, this monster is able to detroy even the greatest of galleons with its massive jaws.

Hazards at Sea

The ocean is not without its natural dangers. Here are a couple:

Terrible storm: Huge waves sweep over ships as thunder roars overhead. Rain lashes the deck and chaos reigns supreme. An experienced sailor may recognise the signs of a coming storm with a L5SR on Intelligence. This may give them time to turn around and get back to land in time. However, when the storm arrives there is a 70% chance the sails will be destroyed and a 40% chance the ship will capsize.

Vortex: A portal a mile long (in a straight line) sits on the surface of the ocean, absorbing vessels that touch it, spewing them out in a random location on the map. A vortex can be recognised by a level 8 Wizard or a L6 SR on Int or Wiz.

So why not take your players out for an adventure out on the high seas? Who knows, they may even live to tell the tale.

Monday 29 November 2010

Iconic Tunnels and Trolls Monsters

It's a crime to me and many others that Tunnels and Trolls isn't more widely recognised in the hobby. It's a game that sports some of the most unique and finest mechanics in any roleplaying game, not to mention being infinitely charming, humourous and true to its roots even after 7 editions.

Because there's not heaps of support for the game, unfortunately T&T isn't as fleshed out as RPGs like D&D. Because of this, it hasn't really got the iconic creatures of D&D like the Beholder, Mindflayer and Otayugh. So I've been thinking what the most iconic monsters could be in T&T, and here's what I came up with:

Trolls and their variations (Rock Troll, Hill Troll, Sea Troll etc)

Oh come on, it's in the name. Without it, the game would just be 'Tunnels'. In T&T trolls were the original race in the aptly names Trollworld. They aren't dumb creatures like in most other games, here trolls are intelligent creatures with their own societies. Trolls are awesome.


Sounds like a common mispronunciation of Demon, but the Demond is actually an insanely powerful lesser-demon. This guy packs a punch with an MR of 400 (41d6 + 200) and is able to basically use the force, choking and throwing his victims about like ragdolls until they're bloody heaps on the floor. Oh, and he can fly.

The Bone Horror

Take six 8 foot tall skeletons, stitch them together and you end up with a Bone Horror. The truly terrifying thing about this creature is that once awoken, it will hunt the players until it dismembers them.

Hellblade Serpent

10ft snake that can decapitate a delver with one swipe. 'Nuff said.

If you can think of anything else to add to the roster please speak up. Also, Ken, if you're reading, please add what you would consider the most iconic creatures in your creation.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Can you recommend any historical RPGs?

I love me some fantasy slashy, hacky, looty fun along with a multitude of other roleplaying genres, but rarely have I come across anything to satiate the history nerd in me.

So I ask you, fair readers: can you recommend me a historical RPG? It doesn't matter the period, it only matters that it's historically accurate.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Swords and Wizardry - critical hit!

I just got back from one of my best roleplaying expriences ever. I never thought anything could top Call of Cthulhu or Tunnels and Trolls, but my introductory game of Swords and Wizardry went down a storm. I was dubious at first that my players, weaned on 4th edition, wouldn't get much out of it - but I obviously didn't give the game or my players enough credit. They loved it. They want to play again. I have to tell you, that was music to my ears. Hell, we didn't even get to finish the dungeon - they only explored half of it!

I ran the adventure in the quick start rules, but modified it as I saw fit. The roleplaying was better than in 4th edition and the laughs and gasps just kept on coming. Here are some of the highlights:

1. The players decided to adventure with two married (male) Dwarves who they met in the Hogshead Tavern. For one of the Dwarves I put on the voice of General Melchett from Blackadder Goes Forth.

2. The party bargained with a party of goblins to help them through a certain room, only for the party to find they had been tricked out of 40gp.

3. The party luring a wererat into a trap that incinerated it.

4. The wizard contracting lycanthrope.

5. The Fighting-Man becoming charmed by the goblin shaman and staying with him and the goblin party to sing songs while the others (both Dwarves had been killed) went back to town to find some men-at-arms to hire. The men-at-arms drank too much that night and had crippling hangovers in the morning.

6. The wizard putting the goblins and the charmed fighting-man to sleep, dragging him into another room while the henchmen carried the sleeping goblins into a room with two sleeping giant ants. Then closing and barring the door. Then making a racket and listening to the creatures wake up and go at each other.

7. The cleric tying the now uncharmed fighting-man to a tree and interrogating him to make sure he still wasn't in league with the goblin shaman.

And that was just half of the dungeon. Bloody fantastic.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Players, meet Swords and Wizardry

Tomorrow night me and my players are going to be kicking it old school with our first game of Swords and Wizardry. As 4th edition nuts, I'm not quite sure how they will take to the old school-ness. It's going to be a shock when I hand them their characters and they see that the strongest among them has a whopping 8 hit points, compared to the ridiculously high HP they're accustomed to. I'm half expecting the magic-user to ask whether his Sleep spell is closed burst 2 or say they will roll an athletics check to see if they can leap over a log.

I'll be running the introductory adventure found in the brilliant Quick Start rules, called the Dungeon of Akban. I'm hoping a possible insta-death by a certain eight-legged creature doesn't put them off (I think they're used to the mass deaths in T&T now anyway), but it looks like the adventure will be damned fun. For me at least.

I really hope they take to it. My softcover core rules arrived in the post today and I'm smitten. Do I hear wedding bells? No, because that would be creepy and wrong. But really, I do hope they see what I see in the game - lots of fun with little crunch and old school flavouring.

Sunday 21 November 2010

Fewer checks, more thinking

I recently wailed on 4th edition D&D for various reasons, one of those being the fact that part of the mechanics make players roll checks to glean information, rather than relying on roleplaying to solve problems. Now, I see the reason that games have these sort of checks - they show how proficient your character is at doing/ knowing stuff. But I think there's a danger that a roleplaying situations can become too reliant on chucking dice around to get a resolution, rather than talking or acting situations out.

Good players can use skill checks as frameworks for roleplaying, describing or acting out what the character says or does. However, it's possible for these situations to degenerate into: "I check for traps. I roll a 15, what happens?". It's perfectly fine if the group likes playing like this, but most of the fun of roleplaying games comes from the actual roleplaying aspect, in my opinion anyway.

Take a look at games such as Swords and Wizardry Core Rules and Tunnels and Trolls. The former has no rules for skills checks, and the latter is very fast and loose with check rules. If you want to check for traps, you probably want to take a 10ft pole and act out checking panels, walls and chests for traps. The player should specifically say what they're doing when they're checking for traps to determine whether it's triggered or not. For example, you, as a player, come upon a large chest that you suspect holds some kind of treasure, but it could be set to detonate on your face. First you would describe how you knock it a bit with your 10ft pole and see if anything happens (perhaps touch the ground near the chest too). If it seems safe to approach then you would probably explain that you look closely all around the chest and ask whether you can see anything peculiar. If not, then you may as well open the buggar and see what happens, providing it's unlocked. The DM might judge that you are better trained to recognise a trap, say if you're a thief or maybe your background has any implications on your knowledge.

In my mind, this method makes for a more involved game that just rolling to see if you find a trap. But this is just me. I'd love to know your thoughts about skills checks. Do you prefer rolling, description or a mixture of both?

Thursday 18 November 2010

4e is grinding my gears

Don't get me wrong, folks, I love me a slice of 4e and my players really enjoy it, so I would never quit on them. But lately I've been finding niggles in the system that have grown into giant puss-filled growths that are about ready to explode.

For one thing, combat can really drag. Yes, monsters have some pretty nifty powers, but strategic players can often reach points when they take a long time to decide what the hell to do; and this isn't their fault. The system is just too rigid: "Well if I swap my movement for a minor then I can draw my crossbow, but I need to shift to see the target. If I just move I provoke an attack of opportunity and then I can only put my sword away but not pull out my crossbow." I much prefer combat to be fluid, like in Tunnels and Trolls. I get that some people enjoy the tactical wargaming aspect of 4e, but it can slow a game down quite a bit.

I've also been finding that checks are replacing roleplay. This is a big complaint in 4e but has only recently been annoying me. "I check for traps", rolls dice. But how are you checking? Where are you checking? "I use history to see if I know anything about this place". Should this not be knowledged uncovered in-game from roleplaying?

I don't know. To be honest it's really the way you DM the game and how your players like to play. Some of mine like roleplaying and others prefer the tactical thinking in combat, no matter how metagamey it can be. In the end, the things that annoy me aren't necessarily the things that my players are getting irritated with. If my players are enjoying themselves then both me and the system are doing our jobs.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

T&T Monster: The Green Man

The Green Man is the spirit of the forest who tends to his wild world with a caring touch. Although he is the essence of everything that embodies the woodland, the Green Man is also able to form himself into a physical humanoid body should he want to, although it is a rare occurance. As the protector of the forest, the Green Man will do everything in his power to prevent harm being inflicted on his natural domain. In this way, he is able to command creatures of the forest to fight unwanted intruders or those bent on the destruction of wildlife. However, should a kind-hearted individual become endangered in his domain he will cause nature to come to that person's aid, perhaps by providing a healing fruit or a stream to appear.

Green Man

MR 400 (41d6 + 200)

Special damage: 11/Camouflage

Nature's wrath: Vines sprout from the ground and entangle the victim. L7SR-DEX or LK to escape the vines. If you are caught in the vines you cannot move or attack for 1d6 rounds and you take 4d6 damage.

Camouflage: The Green Man can blend into his surroundings as to become almost invisible. Attackers roll half the HPT when he is camouflaged.

Call Nature's Aid: The Green Man is able to command creatures native to the forest as well as fairies to help him. Once per day he may command 2d6 creatures/ fairies to undertake simple tasks or attack an enemy. Each creature has an MR of 20.

Saturday 13 November 2010

Swords and Wizardry Tiny Adventures 2

Adventure Two: The Goblin Hunting Party

After his encounter with the dwarf adventurer, Helric continued onwards to the Howling Forest.

It was not long until he reached the line of trees that marked the entrance to the forboding wood. Grasping his mace and shield, Helric made his way into the shadowy green realm, his eyes darting around cautiously. He moved deeper into the forest, searching for the berry he had come to collect.

After five more minutes of walking, Helric heard a noise from about ten meters away. He listened to the crunching of fallen leaves under foot as he remained motionless, staring in the direction of the sounds. Then he saw them. Three hunched figures walked into a circle formed by several large oaks. Their skin was a disgusting mottled grey-green coated in warts. They were no taller that four feet and each had a crudely forged blade drawn. Helric immediately recognised these foul abominations as goblins, probably a hunting party searching for their quarry. No doubt there would be a lair close by where they made their home.

[Surprise round] Helric, seeing that he had not yet been noticed by the creatures, crept around behind them, using the bushes as cover before leaping out at the nearest one. The goblin spun around and dived out of the way of its assailant a split second before Helric's mace would have caved its skull in. [Initiative] The goblin that had leapt out of death's grip charged at Helric with his blade, swinging it at his arm, only to have it deflected by the fighter's mace [rolled 7]. Another goblin rushed at Helric, attempting to gut him, but the human dodged his blow [rolled 11]. The third goblin decided that he would get into a more defensive stance to try and deflect Helric's blows [defensive stance, -1 attack, +1 AC]. Helric brought his mace down on the nearest goblin but was met by the creature's blade [rolled 6]. [Initiative] Helric attempted to strike the creature again, this time crushing its skull with his mace [nat 20, full 8 damage]. The goblin that tried to gut him launched itself into the air, its blade held aloft, but missed its target and landed in a bush [rolled 10]. The third began to back away, but remained on the defence. [Initiative] Helric turned to the one in the bush and launched an attack, but missing as the goblin rolled out of the way. In frenzied desperation the creature lashed out, slashing Helric's midsection [rolled 15, 1 damage]. The third saw an opening and charged Helric, but his blow glanced off his ringmail. [Initiative] Having drawn blood the goblin felt more confident and tried again, this time meeting the human's mace in defence [rolled 7]. The defensive goblin attempted another blow but missed his target altogether, to his embarrasment [rolled 1]. Helric swung and missed the goblin in front of him. He was tired of this long battle. He wanted it over with. [Initiative] Helric, in a fit of rage, struck the goblin before him in the face, sending the creature tumbling into the bush, now a lifeless corpse [rolled 19, damage 7]. The remaining goblin, seeing its brethren's smashed up bodies around him, turned and fled into the undergrowth as fast as he could. Helric was far to tired to pursue the creature. He was more concerned with tending to the gash on his arm.

[Helric gained 20xp but found no money on the goblins]

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Swords and Wizardry Tiny Adventures 1

Swords and Wizardry is a great old school D&D clone. The trouble is that, although I wish I did, I don't play in a Swords and Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord campaign, so I have decided to do a little solitaire experiment using these rules. I'm going to post up short installments of a mini campaign, for no other reason than it's fun. I expect each will be an encounter in a new room or something. I may even break out Mythic GME if I'm feeling saucy.

Anyway, my character is Helric, the Fighting-Man. He wears ringmail armour, carries a simple round shield and wields a heavy mace he calls Kasandra. Helric was the son of a wealthy merchant and has a twin brother called Tyrec. His family would travel all around the realm of Freelore selling fine silks, furs and other clothing to nobles and monarchs. When he came of age Helric decided that the merchant life wasn't for him and he set off to earn a living as an adventurer. Tyrec took up the family business and is in regular contact with Helric.

Adventure One: The Challenge of a Dwarf

Helric had been staying in the village of Willowcreek for five days. He he had been helping the local healer find herbs and berries to go into her concoctions, for she would not venture into the Howling Forest alone.

Today, the day of Evenfold, Helric took up his weapons and headed up the dirt track north of the village and made his way across the wilderlands. After a while he came upon a stout Dwarf, who stood in Helric's path. "I would advise that you move from my path, Dwarf," said Helric with venom in his voice. He didn't care much for this race.
"Do you challenge Fenrik, son of the timbermaster?" The Dwarf replied angrily. "Come on, let's see what you're made of". Fenrik pulled his axe out from its sheath and readied it. Helric grasped his mace, his eyes narrowed. He swung his heavy mace at the Dwarf but it was easily deflected by Fenrik's axe. Fenrik unleashed a mighty swing, missing Henric and losing his footing. The fighter saw his chance and brought the butt end of the mace down on the back of Fenrick's head. The dwarf fell to the ground in a heap, but still alive. Henric then reached for his foe's purse and took 45 gold pieces from it.
"Serves you right, stupid rock head."

Sunday 7 November 2010

Tunnels and Trolls 'Red Box'

I can hear the cries of blasphemy calling out from the depths of the internet already. I've mentioned before that I love both T&T and D&D and see the merits in both games. The advantage D&D has over T&T is that it's more widely known and has massive corporate output. T&T is much less well-known to outsiders of the hobby and has much less material released for it. I wish this weren't the case, but at least T&T fans are some of the most hardcore hobbyists out there and provide a lot of the material themselves, whether it be new solos, GM adventure or campaign settings. With the release of the fantastic 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons red box, Wizards are encouraging a new generation of gamers to pick up the game and play. It's an excellent starting point to get into the wider hobby, but Tunnels and Trolls doesn't really have anything like that. While it's a simple enough game, I think it would be great to put something out there to draw more people into the game at zero cost, providing them with everything they need to begin playing T&T in one place. So I scoured the internet to find free resources to download to make an overall introductory set. So, I give you the Tunnels and Trolls Starter Kit (5th edition):

Tunnels and Trolls: Starter Kit

Tunnels and Trolls Quick Start Rules
Character Sheets
Buffalo Castle Online Solitaire Adventure
Character/Monster Counters
Adventure in Fellbarrow GM Adventure
Online Character Generator

Saturday 6 November 2010

A look at Essentials

There's no doubt that Wizards have caused a stir in the gaming community with the release of their Essentials line, which has been met with both gleeful acceptance and wide-eyed horror.

In essence, Essentials is an effort to streamline character creation to make it simpler for new players and feel more 'classic' to veterans. This is in no way a new edition or even half an edition, it's a tweaking to various systems such as magic items and skill challenges, along with errata changes and new builds.

Wizards are releasing 10 products in their Essentials line that they see as, well, essential for play. Most of these are coming out in boxed form, such as the Monster Vault and the Dungeon Master's Kit, whilst others like Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms are just books.

People who are terrified that the new line will be a paradigm shift for 4th edition should stop cacking themselves. Essentials is completely compatable with the Players Handbooks and there are no rule changes per se. Yes, if you want to keep up with the latest errata then you either want these books, or the ones that are applicable to you, or DDI subscribers will get an updates soon on the character builder.

Although 4th edition has its naysayers, you have to hand it to Wizards for giving players plenty of options for classes. The problem is, for people who are just starting out, or those who would prefer some guidance in character creation and advancement, the slew of options can seem overwhelming. Creating a character by hand now is an incredibly laborious task, so most people use the character builder. Essentials is still allowing for optional builds, but slimming down the choices. In both Essentials player books you will find new builds that allow you to select from a much smaller palette that going on the character builder, but the classes still remain versatile and sometimes have their roles changed. For example, the Essentials Druid is the Sentinel, who is now a leader rather than a controller like the previous druid. It focuses more on healing but can also act as an off-striker, especially since you get an animal companion in the form of a bear or wolf, which can attack too. One big change that I can see is that Wizard's Magic Missile is now an automatic hit that does 2+ Int mod damage. Now that's pretty cool. For martial classes there is more of a focus on basic attacks (very old school) that are augmented by stances and aspects to give bonuses and extra effects. The new Fighter builds get no daily powers, making them feel a lot more like classic Fighters of old. Wizards have daily spells still that they prepare, but they also must prepare their encounter powers after an extended rest, too. Again, this feels more like a classic Wizard to me, having to study her spells before starting the day.

A great thing about the 'Heroes of a ...' player books is the amount of help it gives you in creating a character. They explain which race is suitable for which class and go into some detail as to why. The race sections are also beefed up with playestyles and background fluff for each of them. The whole package makes is much easier to solidify a character.

The Rules Compendium combines all the rules of the game, along with some campaign setting fluff and additional info for newbies, into a handy small book. Wizards could have definitely cut some stuff out of here, but for the newly initiated it's a pretty good starting point. Also, it's better than lugging a couple of big hardback books around if you're travelling to a game.

Essentials, to me, feels like Wizards have listened to the fans and delivered an experience more akin to AD&D. I really like some of the new classes, especially the Assassin and Hexblade, so I'll definitely be letting my group play with these new builds to see how it all goes.

Friday 5 November 2010

New T&T NPC: Vivi Viviacho

Rogue. Scoundrel. Wedding planner. Vivi Viviacho is all of these things and more. You never know where you are with Vivi, mostly because he's really, really bad at reading maps. He can easily be picked out of a crowd, as long as the crowd consists of 3ft people, since Vivi is a Hobb.

Vivi grew up in his mother and father's tavern, The Wily Cow, and there he learnt the fine art of picking pockets, a skill that only gets you so far in life. By the time he was 20, Vivi had already been in jail 18 times for petty larceny, cock fighting (which was him hitting chickens with a twig) and copping off with the constable's daughter, Trixie.

One day Vivi decided that he wanted to live a life on the road, drifting from one city to another making his fortune gambling, stealing and adventuring. Those who have met him know that he's an arrogant sod but his heart is occasionally in the right place. He's also a serial womaniser who tends to bed most of the town before moving on. Because of this he has many illegitimate babies all around Trollworld.

Vivi will help other delvers for a price and tends to screw them over when it comes to dishing out loot.

Vivi Viviacho

Level 3 Male Hobb Warrior
Height: 2'11", Weight: 80 lbs.

ST: 10, IQ: 10, LK: 7
CON: 31, DEX: 17, CHR: 16
SPD: 13, WIZ: 9

Combat Adds: 3

Wt. Possible: 1000, Wt. Carried: 999.8
Hobbit (native language)

Gold: 879 gp

Ankus, Dice+Adds: 2+1
ST Req'd: 2, DEX Req'd: 11
Value: 27, Wt: 50.0

Sunday 31 October 2010

Tunnels and Trolls: Minstrel

Sometimes all it takes is some sweet music to keep the most ferocious of beasts at bay. The Minstrel, equipped with his or her intrument, aids the party with songs of valour and might, whilst striking fear into the hearts of their enemies with forboding melodies. Minstrels tend to have long hair and wear leather jackets, often with patches sewn on depicting their favourite minstrels. Sometimes they form bands and tour the world for fame and fortune.

A Minstrel can purchase the following instruments:

Bagpipe (10 gold)
Cornamuse (20 gold)
Crumhorn (10 gold)
Harp, Poor (10 gold)
Harp, Good (20 gold)
Harp, Immaculate (30 gold)
Lute (10 gold)
Flute (20 gold)

Each intrument has a level that reflects its cost. A 10 gold instrument is level 1, 20 gold is level 2, 30 gold is level 3 etc. Instruments can only cast spells of their level or below. Instrument levels have the same attribute requirements as spell levels, so you must have the correct attributes to cast instrument spells.

Song of Battery (Level 1)
"Smashing through the boundaries
Lunacy has found me
Cannot stop the battery"

Wiz: 3
Effect: You sing a song to inspire your friends in combat. +2d6 combat adds to the party's HPT
Power-up? Yes. Double combat add dice

Melody of Death in Fire (Level 1)
"Total war is here
Face it without fear
Age of sword, age of spear
Fight for honor, glory, death in fire"

Wiz: 3
Effect: You play a viking-like melody that imbues your allies' weapons with magical fire for one combat round. If your allies win the round, all enemies hit must make a L2SR on CON or extra damage equal to your INT.
Power-up? Yes - add a level for the saving roll.

Tune of Fear of the Dark (Level 2)
"Have you ever been alone at night,
Thought you heard footsteps behind,
Turned around and no-one's there."

Wiz: 8
Effect: Your song paralyses your enemies with fear. Enemies halve their HPT for one round.
Power-up? - Yes - double the duraton.

Song of Watching Over Me (Level 2)
"His spirits like the wind
The angel guarding me
Oh, I know, oh, I know
He's watching over me"

Wiz: 8
Effect: You play a song of protection, casting a calming blue light over your allies. Allies gain 2d6 CON (cannot exceed original CON)
Power-up- No

Melody of Enter Sandman (Level 3)
"Exit light,
Enter night,
Take my hand,
We're off to never never land"

Wiz: 15
Effect: Your song puts your enemies into a deep slumber. Enemies will sleep until attacked.
Power-up? - No

Tune of Power of the Dragonflame (Level 3)
"From the silent hill we scream loud your name
Mighty power of the Dragonflame,
from the mountains proud and strong,
We call our dragonlord"

Wiz: 15
Effect: You call forth the fire of the great dragonlords. Enemies take 4d6 damage.
Power-Up? - No

Saturday 30 October 2010

Fighting Fantasy Newspunch

Welcome to the first Fighting Fantasy Newspunch, where I talk about the latest goings on in the Fighting Fantasy universe.

New House of Hell Video log

House of Hell, the only modern horror Fighting Fantasy book, is being translated into an ambitious film project that looks like it's going to be pretty special. Superteam are guiding us all the way with their video logs, showing us the new studio, the crew and giving us some insight into what this venture will look like when it's released. Take a look!

Creature of Havoc released on iTunes

Creature of Havoc is definately one of the most bizarre of the gamebooks that sees you take on the role of a beast who has lost its memory and must uncover clues to its past life. Now you can play this excellent adventure on your iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad.

Features include;

• New! Player Achievements

• Universal app iPad support

• Scrolling image gallery of unlocked in-game art

• Tap the on screen buttons to flip pages (No papercuts!)

• Shake to roll the 3D dice using the accelerometer (or tap through with ease)

• Inventory items selectable via touch-screen

• Game-save feature allows you to retrace your steps

• Includes both original illustrations by Ian McCaig and digitally re-mastered versions

• Integrated iPod music library access

Talisman of Death is coming to PSN

Coming soon to the Playstation Network is the first in the line of 'minis', which is based on Talisman of Death (one of my personal favourite books).

To keep both existing fans and newcomers happy with their treatment of the license, Laughing Jackal have included ‘Classic’ and ‘New’ game modes. The ‘Classic’ game mode very closely emulates the format of the original books, while the ‘New’ mode adds a range of all-new features to really capitalise on the console medium, providing greater visual excitement and giving power to the player, rather than to arbitrary ‘virtual dice rolls’ which the player can’t influence.

Exciting features in the first PSN minis Fighting Fantasy title include:

· ‘Classic’ mode – experience Fighting Fantasy in its original format, with classic dice-rolling combat.
· ‘New’ game mode – featuring additional game features exciting combat and brand new SKILL tests.
· Brand new character creation system, combining the best of the old with all-new presentation.
· Character Biographies – learn more about the people and creatures encountered on your adventure.
· Item Biographies – gain insight into the uses and pitfalls of the various items you’ll find.
· Page Biographies – Keep track of which areas of the book you’ve visited, and exactly what you did there.

New Amateur Adventures

Check out the official Fighting Fantasy website to play October's amateur adventures for free.

October's adventures:

The Curse of Blackwood Manor by Craig Dutton
Gamor's Tremble by Theophilus
Hellfire by Philip Sadler
Forest of Dreams by Nathan Page

Shipman is at it again

Oh James Shipman, why do you do it?

Most people in the T&T community and, thanks to widespread blogging, a lot of people outside this circle, know about James Shipman, the guy who used a whole load of artwork without the artists' consent and never paid them a penny.

For some reason, even after a firmly-worded open letter from Ken St. Andre, he's still producing T&T materials. I'm sincerely hoping that these are all legit, but it may be best not to buy anything from him.

Halloween Spooktacular: Risus Slasher Flick with Mythic

Like many of you, I ran a Halloween themed game this week to get everyone in the mood for the most delicious of holidays. This week just happened to be our 'new game week' where we try out a new rpg every last Thursday of the month. I really couldn't be bothered to teach new rules to the group, so I decided to introduce them to the ultra rules-lite Risus. I was also too busy to write up an adventure, but I had two ideas in my head that I'd been playing around with for a couple of days. The first put the players in the shoes of classic monsters, like the wolfman etc. Their task was to get as much candy as possible, but they would have ended up being arrested and I envisioned them eventually appearing on a daytime talk show. The other idea was the one I eventually went with: a teen slasher flick.

Since I didn't have the time to write anything, I took a few ideas and used the Mythic GME to carry the story along. I thought this could either turn out really well or fail miserably. Fortunately we had a blast, even if we didn't get to finish it. My group aren't big roleplayers, so this was a great vehicle to get them roleplaying more, as Risus is very rules-lite and there was little conflict. The Mythic GME made things unpredictable and often had hilarious consequences, as well as some moments that genuinely terrified the players (serial killer walking around the school with a machete will do that).

I definitaly recommend using Mythic and Risus together. The lack of strict rules allows for some great freeform roleplaying and helps keep the flow of the game. Mythic tends to also work well with T&T and Barbarians of Lemuria if you're wanting some fantasy goodness.

Friday 22 October 2010

I'm working on an RPG [G&G]

I have very little spare time in my life, but I've decided to use what's left of it to write an RPG; something I've been wanting to do since I was a kid. The working title is currently Gauntlets and Goblins, which I want to be an old school fantasy game but now derived from OGL. I love Labyrinth Lord and its ilk, but that's been done now and I want to create something new. I have some rough mechanics at the moments that borrow from game like World of Darkness, Tunnels and Trolls, Risus and D&D but I've kept them pretty simple so it's easy to pick up and play.

G&G is fantasy, but not D&D fantasy. I'm going for a more Arthurian feel with noble knights and classic sorcerers, whilst making heavy use of British folklore. So creatures you will fight won't be beholders and gelatinous cubes - they'll be a black dogs, hags, goblins, green men, boggarts and brownies. It's going to have a very British feel to it and a big focus on our great countryside.

Right now I have three classes: Knight, Sorcerer and Archer. I am planning two more, but I won't be having different races, so everyone will be human. This is both to keep the game simple and to give a better representation of Britain's mythical history.

I'll keep you updated as I plod on with this. I'm hoping to have it completed by February and put it online to download for free, so even if you hate it you can't complain that you've wasted your money.

Monday 18 October 2010

D&D Gamma World [Review]

Sometimes RPGs can be a tad too serious. Obviously Tunnels and Trolls, the roleplaying love of my life, is a humourous game, but many games can be not all that lighthearted. So it's refreshing to get my hands on a mainstream game that is high quality and hilarious to boot. D&D Gamma World is that game.

Gamma World has been around for aeons, first published by TSR in 1978 as a sci-fi alternative to Dungeons and Dragons. Now in its seventh iteration, Gamma World brings the bizarre post-apocalyptic world to a new legion of gamers, not least because it's directly tied to the 4th edition D&D rules. It's tradition in each new edition of Gamma World to change the origin story of why the world is now a nuked wasteland, and this is no different. Appealing to real-world events, this new edition tells the story of how the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva brought together hundreds of universes with their own timelines simultaneously. This would come to be known as The Big Mistake. In most of the timelines nuclear war had occurred, so when the merged realities finally stabilised what was left was a post-apocalyptic wasteland full of bizarre creatures and alien technology.

So what do you get for your hard-earned money? Gamma World comes in a nice box with some gorgeous artwork. Inside everything is compact; you get a 160 page rulebook, 2 beautiful double-sides maps, 2 card stock sheets of push-out monster tokens, 4 character sheets and 80 cards as well as an 8 card booster. The box could have probably been smaller, expecially because the rulebook is a very compact size, unlike the D&D core rules, but all in all it's nicely presented.

The game itself is powered by 4th edition D&D, so if you're already familiar with 4e rules then you can whizz through a fair chunk of the book. The main feature in Gamma World has to be character creation. Unlike 4e, rolling up a character here is fast and easy. There aren't pages of powers to pour over and you certainly don't have to plan your character's career path. Here you roll twice on an origin table to get your primary and secondary origins. You see, Gamma World isn't about fighters, clerics and wizards; it's all about the freaky mutants. You could end up being a cat person that fires electricity, a yeti who can use the force, or even a swarm of duplicting rats. Some people will be put off straight away by the silliness, but it's refreshing to see a modern RPG that just says "screw it, I'm going to have wacky fun".

One of the first things that a D&D 4e veteran will notice is the lack of powers for each character. Each origin has a power to begin with, so you will begin with two. However, this is where the cards come in. There are Alpha Mutation and Omega Tech cards in the 80 card deck. Alpha Mutations occur at the beginning of each encounter, when the player rolls a 1 and optionally after an extended rest. This requires drawing a card from the Alpha Mutation deck and 'readying it'. These are encounter powers that disappear once used. Having these random mutations, which could make you telepathic, able to manipulate gravity or maybe grow new arms, makes up for the lack of powers your characters have. What's more is that youcan choose to 'overcharge' the power by rolling a d20. A roll of 10 or more means that power has a more powerful effect, but 9 or less means an epic fail. So you could end up with four arms or none at all, depending on how you roll. Omega Tech is similarly drawn from the deck (either your contructed deck or the GM's) when the GM says so. Some of these are incredibly powerful, so you can see how deadly a game Gamma World is, especially as you don't get healing surges like in D&D 4e. If you are of the required level, you can salvage the weapon; meaning you can keep it but it has a weaker effect. Drawing mutation and tech cards lends some randomness to the game, since you don't know what may happen to you next. Players can build their own decks to suit their character, which at least puts a bit more strategy into a fairly chaotic game.

Don't expect long campaigns in Gamma World, as the level cap is 10 (although there are some home-rules for levels 11-20 on the interwebs) and levelling is quick as characters only need 1000xp for the majority of the levels. Also, you'll be dying quite a bit, I reckon, so it's a good job characters are quick to roll up.

The rules also include a pretty uninspiring adventure which is basically a series of encounters. My GM has chosen to skip running this and write his own, but let me know how you got on if you have played it. The book also contains some monster stat blocks with some nice looking art. You can even import D&D 4e monsters into your game, since they use exactly the same stats, which means that your Monster Manuals are now handy for two games.

D&D Gamma World is a balls-to-the-walls game that doesn't take itself too seriously. Being able to roll up characters quickly and randomly is great for the feel of the game, but it may put off those players who like optimisation. However, if you're looking for post-apocalyptic fun where anything is possible, you should really invest in this game. There are two expansions on the horison promising new adventures, monsters and, most importantly, origins. Apparently the game is selling well so hopefully there will be some official support by Wizards in the long run, but I wouldn't count on it. Either way, Gamma World will certianly be supported by eager fans.

Sunday 17 October 2010

Castle Death liveblog coming soon

A couple of weeks ago I made a teaser post with an image of A.R. Holmes' massive solo Castle Death. I'm now revealing that very soon (i.e. when I have some free time) I am going to be liveblogging a run through Castle Death.

I figure that death will come to my character hard and fast, 'cos y'know it's in the title, so I've decided that I will have a maximum of three characters that can try their luck at unearthing the fortunes in the castle. Once one delver dies he will be replaced by another one.

I don't expect to actually make it through the dungeon in one piece, but I'm going to give it a good shot and hope for the best. So watch this space for more information about the date and time Castle Death Live is taking place.

Frostwalker Giant [Blashyrkh]

In the harsh world of Blashyrkh there are few creatures that can match up to the supreme might of the Frostwalker Giants. Created by the Wintergods, these hulking beasts live in mammoth caverns underground, occasionally surfacing to disrupt a trade route by eating whoever is passing. These giants clad themselves in Thunderbeast fur, which they hunt on the barren fields of Krakish, using huge spears wittled from an entire tree trunk. Every now and again, when they are very hungry, Frostwalkers will attack neighbouring settlements, so many towns such as Snowhaven and Gaunt have erected great walls to keep the massive monsters away.

Frostwalker Giant

MR 480 (49d6 + 240)
Special damage: 15 spite/ Hurl - the Frostwalker picks up the closest attacking target and throws them into anything hard (i.e. a cave wall). That target cannot take an action in the next round of combat and must make a L7SR- CON or be out of action for 3 further rounds.
Armour: Tough Hide - 10

Saturday 16 October 2010

Keep on Rotting!

I'm in the mood for some Carcass. Yes, I even liked them when they went melo-death in Heartwork. In fact, I may even prefer them that way.

Friday 15 October 2010

Elder Tunnels Halloween Edition

Halloween is just around the corner and to coincide, the awesome Peryton Publishing have released a spooooky-scary edition of Elder Tunnels, introduced by yours truly.

This frightful tome contains four tales of horror - that is three GM adventures and a solo:

Within these pages lurk horrifying adventures by a group of ghoulish writers.

‘The Ephemera Furnace’ by the sinister Christina Lea will chill you with a tale of disembodied limbs and groaning zombies.

The murderous Mike Larsen will thrust you through hellish portals into the horrifying abyss of his dark mind in ‘Resurrection Missions.’

‘The Farmer’s Daughter,’ a solo adventure by the twisted David Crowell will give you nightmares of scarecrows, cattle mutilations, and things that go bump in the night.

Finally, in ‘Trouble among the Tumbled Stones,’ the foul Tom K. Loney will take you on a terrible journey to a place where travellers have been vanishing mysteriously. Could this be the work of bandits, or is something more disturbing afoot on the road to Grimehaven?

Go buy it and show your players a cracking Halloween adventure. Muhahahaha!

Monday 11 October 2010

New Book: A Fragmentary History of Trollworld

You may remember that not so long ago Ken St. Andre decided to write a multi-part history of Trollworld on his blog. His chronology went down a storm amongst T&T fans so by popular demand he had it published through Peryton Publishing. It's an excellent resource for any T&T player so you should really go and buy it.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

What Alien Breed can teach us about dungeons

I count myself first and foremost as a journalist, even though it's not my main source of income. One of my latest reviews which will be featured in the next issue of Thirteen1 was Alien Breed 2: Assault. I loved the first Alien Breed and even interviewed the developer, Team 17, about it, and I was more impressed by Alien Breed 2. One of the reasons I really like this series is because it feels like a dungeon crawl, and I love me a dungeon crawl. I thought I'd share my thoughts about what roleplayers can take from the level design found in the Alien Breed games and sunsequently transfer them to their tabletop games.

Alien Breed has a simple concept: get the power to the ship running whilst mowing down aliens. To do this you must navigate the dark, metallic corridors of the ship. The cool thing about this is that rather than being a straightforward shooter, you must achieve different mini objectives to get to the next location. For instance, you may reach a door where the power is out so you have to go to another room, kill aliens and hack into a terminal to get the power running. However, the door might be open, but the laser barriers are still operational on the other side and could slice you up into bits if you passed through, so you must find the room with the power generator and destroy it. As a result, you're not just going simply from one room to another- you're taking part in an ever-changing environment. Routes become blocked by debris, an elevator needs a certain fuse to get it running. It makes getting from one place to the next a challenge and pretty fun. This can easily be transferred to your RPG.

Monday 27 September 2010

T&T Game Night

Every last Thursday of the month I like to run a different RPG to broaden my group's horizons and make use of the boatload of game I own. This Thursday, by popular demand, is Tunnels and Trolls, so as can be expected I'm incredibly excited. However, I'm not quite sure what I'm going to run yet. I could write a short adventure but I have a lot on my plate this week with video game reviews that I'm not sure if I'd have to time.

So I turn to you, fair readers. What adventure do you suggest I run that will preferably take an evening, but it doesn't really have to.

Sunday 26 September 2010

I'm back!

I returned from my long weekend in Edinburgh a few hours ago after spending a good chunk of the day on the train. My girlfriend and I had a great time, even though she was sick last night, and we got to see some things that we hadn't seen in our previous trips.

Thursday 23 September 2010

Off to Edinburgh

I'm going to Edinburgh today, so I'll see you all on Sunday.

I write about MMOs

I really like MMORPGs. In fact, I like playing lots of different ones and writing about them. Good thing then that at the beginning of the month I landed a position at MMO Hut writing editorials and reviews on MMOs. So those of you who are fans of the genre head on over there. I have a new article up every week so don't forget to leave a comment.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

They've been bitten

After the premiere T&T game with my regular group last week I asked them individually what they thought and I didn't get the response I was expecting. I knew they seemed to enjoy it, but I didn't think that they enjoyed it THAT much. After all, their usual game is 4e D&D, which is a far cry from the mechanics of T&T. However, I was pleasantly suprised when they told me they loved it and 'have to play again soon'. I don't know why I doubted it - it's the best RPG ever, but I didn't know whether it would be their bag, what with the non-tactical combat and the funny spell names. But it looks like they've been bitten by the bug.

What suprised me more is that they liked it that much and it was an adventure that I winged there and then. What will they think when I run a written module by the great T&T trolls? Awesome will ensue.

That D&D module sucked

First off let me say that I'm delighted to have some new followers on the blog, many thanks for taking an interest in my nerdy ramblings.

Now to business. Last week I finished playing through an official Wizards of the Coast 4th Edition adventure called King of Trollhaunt Warrens. I really didn't enjoy Dming this and my players, although they had fun, were very critical of the module.

This was the first adventure that saw the characters into paragon, since I wanted a break from writing. It's also the first in a trilogy of adventures that get PCs up to epic level. I don't think I'll be running the subsequent two.

The real problem for me and my players is that it's far too encounter heavy. This may be fine for those who want hack hack hack all day long, but for the roleplayers out there, there is very limited scope to roleplaying.

The dungeon is pretty much encounter after encounter, broken up by a return to a town that's been invaded, which has some pretty cool encounters in it, but then coming back to the warrens that are basically stocked full of the same creatures. Whilst the writer did make use of in-combat hazards such as flaming pits and flammable oil, there was very little in the way of traps. I also can only recall two skill challenges, which is pretty bad considering it took (an edited) 7 weeks to complete.

In the end, it was a bit of a drag. Yes, there's an insane amount of loot to grab at the end, which made the players's eyes light up with glee, but there wasn't a whole lot of substance.

Today I continued the campaign with a new adventure. I winged it since I had no time to write but I felt it went quite well. I included an encounter with a Fen Hydra, a puzzle skill challenge and lots of lovely roleplaying to boot, making it fairly balanced. Ok, the story was a bit poor - fight hydra, go find mage who supposedly summoned it to destroy town, but at least it was interesting.

Monday 20 September 2010

Fleshgorger - Lesser Winterdemon [Blashyrkh]

Born under the Black Sun, Fleshgorgers are the minions of the Winterdemons. They prowl the dark chasms of the world where dark magic is prevalent and attack delvers with their great maws.

MR 180
Spite: 2/1
Special attack: 5 spite causes Breaker Breaker to be cast.
Special features: 10 bone armour.

Sunday 19 September 2010

TrollCon UK 2010

TrollCon has been a staple in the T&T calendar over in the States and I've always been jealous of all who attend. However, this year that is to change with the first ever TrollCon in the UK! Woo!

Check out the awesome logo for the event created by T&T art god Jeff Freels. On the Tunnels and Trolls website, fellow Trollhallan Knorrrskk has written a little about what con-goers can expect:

On the evening of the 5th and all day on the 6th November, we will be having a gathering together of Tunnels & Trolls players at the first ever TrollConUK.

All are welcome, and if you'd like to join us we will be at the Menzies Strathallan in Birmingham; easily accessible by bus, train and car, and with plenty of accomodation around. Any of you who have been to the UK Games Expo should be familiar with the place! Because of the cost of the room, at the moment the price is going to be £20 per person, however if we get more than enough people we will lower the cost of admission.

There will be plenty of good freebies, and a few competitions. As well as Tunnels & Trolls there will be the opportunity to play OgreOcre (Ken St Andre's T&T related card game) and Alf Seegert's Bridge Troll board game, and potentially Monsters! Monsters!.

Friday evening will mostly be socialising in the bar, meeting up and playing T&T related games. Saturday will be the con proper, with games running all day in our own room.

Unfortunately it seems that Ken won't be there as far as I know, but it will be a great time nontheless. I'm going to be there, so you should come too.

Friday 17 September 2010

Chronology of Trollworld - Dwarves

This is pretty incredible. Ken has written up the entire history of the Dwarvern race here

I especially love the fact that Dwarves build 'show cities' above their underground metropolises so people won't bother trying to enter their real domain.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Chronology of Trollworld

The great Trollgod himself has begun writing a detailed history of significant events in Trollworld and it's seriously cool. Go check it out at his site.

Some good inspiration for adventures here methinks.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

When Aslar became Aslara part 1 [T&T game report]

So today I introduced my regular gaming group to T&T. I wasn't sure if they were really going to get into it since we usually play D&D 4E, which is their preference (I really love it too). But it turned out really well, even though I improvised the whole thing.

The set up was simple enough. The delvers: Aslar the Dwarf warrior, Blue Fairy the, err, Fairy, and Tucan the Ranger, had been living it up in Khazan after a series of profitable delves. Four days in word came from eastern traders that a great dragon had landed in the hills close to the trade route. The government immediately put out a 900 gold reward for anyone who could kill the dragon, so naturally the players jumped at the opportunity, along with an arrogant NPC called Blob.

Off they went to find the dragon, first winding along the main trade road and eventually passing through Kobold Swamp (original, no?) The unlucky dwarf fell foul of a Kobold pit and had to be helped up with a bit of hemp rope (an introduction to saving rolls) before continueing, only to be stopped by a group of spear and sword weilding Kobolds (didn't see that coming did you?). After failing to convince the Kobolds that they were going to help the dragon (using their knowledge of the D&D kobolds who serve dragons, which is rubbish in my world) they were attacked. The creates were swiftly vanquished and the party headed deeper into the swamp, all the while Blob proclaiming that he killed the Kobolds single-handedly.

Eventually the group came upon five leprechauns who were sitting in a circle chanting. Blue Fairy fluttered up to them and cheerfully said, 'Hi'. The leprechauns seemed rather friendly and using my best Irish accent I told the players that they were just raising a demon because, well, it's Tuesday. The delvers didn't like this at all so attacked the leprechauns (each one named after a character in The Big Bang Theory). Blue Fairy, excited about all the spells he could use, struck one with a Hold That Pose as it was chanting to summon the demon. The leader was the first to fall but the second round saw a Demond (lesser-demon) pop into existence. I told the players that this was a very powerful foe and that they needed to try and be creative to overcome it. Aslar flung campfire embers into its eyes, sending smoke billowing around it, boscuring its vision. Then Tucan threw his chakram into the Demond's eyes before Blue cast a spell to kick up dust around the remaining leprechauns. After that they ran like hell.

To be continued...

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Happy birthday, Boozer

Raise a glass of ale and sing a birthday tune for it's Andy 'Boozer' Holmes' birthday today.

Andy is a titan in the T&T world, running The Hobgoblin's Tavern and writing awesome adventures that are well worth your hard-earned cash.

So many happy returns, chum. Drink the tavern dry.

Monday 13 September 2010

My TV has an MR of 20

Augmented reality uses technology to merge real-life with a digital fantasy, such as using an iphone to shoot down helicopters in your living room. I'm a big fan of AE, I even wrote an article about it a while back. So I was thinking about how we could augment reality another way, without the need for fancy gizmos. Then I thought of a fun but somewhat stupid idea. Give everything around you T&T stats!

That vase over there. It's has an MR of 6 since it'sso fragile. However your house could have an MR of 350. Want to use something as a weapon in a hypothetical duel? My Gibson SG electric guitar is a 3+5 weapon. Roll some stats up for yourself to get your combat adds and battle things around you to gain experience and level up like you would do in a normal T&T game. You don't like the guy that serves you sandwiches? Give him an MR and battle him.

I dunno, it's just a little fun thing to do to spice up your day if you're bored.

Saturday 11 September 2010

The heroes of 9/11

Today marks the 9th anniversary of a day when religion reinforced its role as the poison of the world. Too little praise goes out to the service people of the fire department, many of whom selflessly sacrificed their lives in order to save others. Don't even think about thanking a god for those who survived these dreadful attacks. Instead, thank these infinitely brave men and women for being more than any of us could ever be - heroes.

Friday 10 September 2010

Frostdemon Deathaxe [Blashyrkh]

Few weapons in the icy realm of Blashyrkh can top the might of the Frostdemon Deathaxe. The deadly weapon was created by Tilliad, a great sorceror who bound the frostdemon Marg into a warrior's axe and cast into the Chasm of Eversorrow. It is said that Marg still lives on in the axe and is still capable of great power.

Frostdemon Deathaxe

Str: 50
Dex: 14


Special: Marg Unleashed - If 5 sixes are rolled Marg is able to take control of the axe and cast Whammy, tripling the dice rolls on this weapon for this round of combat.

Ken St. Andre is a living legend

It's a harsh and painful reality that we can will no longer see Gary Gygax or Dave Arneson again. To us these imaginative men are the cornerstone of our noble hobby - they were legends in life and legends in death. The thought of the possibilty of meeting Gary or Dave was enough to make any roleplayer dizzy with excitement and now there is no chance of speaking to them is saddening in the deepest sense.

However, some people forget that one of, if not the biggest inspiration in roleplaying games still walks among us; his massive troll feet creating tiny earthquakes wherever he roams. I am of course referring to the Trollgod himself, Ken St. Andre.

Most people reading this blog will already know who this fine gentletroll is. For those who came in late, Ken is the creator of Tunnels and Trolls as well as a slew of other games. A retired librarian, Ken created arguably created the second ever roleplaying game (and some, such as myself, would say the best).

Having been acquainted with Ken myself, I can affirm the opinions of many who say that he is a kind, funny and charismatic guy who always has the time to speak with his fans. Granted, and Ken would testify, he doesn't have the gargantuan fanbase that Gygax had, but Ken's followers are some of the best roleplayers and people you could meet. He really likes to get in with T&T fanatics, being one himself, and talk openly and candidly with them. This is a special trait for a game designer to possess and one that few nowadays can honestly say they have.

I encourage everyone reading this to do one thing. Write to Ken with your thanks for doing what he does. Tell him that you appreciate his work. Write a blog post about your first T&T session, or about the time you met Ken at a convention.

Thanks Ken. You're a hero and an inspiration. Long may you be rule Trollworld.

Awesome picture belongs to the equally awesome Atroll

Thursday 9 September 2010

Solos and miniatures

There can be no doubt that gazing upon a dungeon map littered with colourful miniatures is impressive and a wonderful part of our hobby's aesthetic. However if you lack a regular group to adventure with then this glorious image will likely be a rarity for you.

As solo adventures stand, they usually contain fantastic artwork, normally by evergreen T&T artists like Jeff Freels and Simon Tranter. The images combined with well-crafted description make for a fine quest that is played out almost entirely in ones imagination. But adding miniatures into the mix builds another level of interaction that comes close to emulating the feel of a multiplayer session.

Firstly, having a painted miniature of your current character is enough to spark the imagination. You can see the kind of clothing she wears and the colours she is adorned in. Even if you can only use a non-painted figurine at least you have something tangeable that represents your character. Secondly, enemies come to life. You can see the expression on the Withlord's face as he hurls a bolt of dark energy at your character.

Rooms and locales are rarely discussed in terms of exact shape, so you have free reign over their designs. You could even draw in the detail as explained in the body of the text: a bookshelf here, a bearskin run there. This all serves to heighten your solo experience.

That is not to say that you won't run into any practical problems when undertaking such an adventure. For instance, you will have to move enemies, but as the solo will not usually dictate where and how the creature moves it's likely that you will only keep them in one position while you move your own delver around. However, a representation of where your character is in relation to an enemy can be beneficial, as it denotes whether you are close enough to get a good shot with an arrow or whether you are likely to send the missile whistling past the monster.

There is certianly no harm in trying out a solo with miniatures. The main problem you will find is that setting up is time consuming and tends to break up the adventure when you are drawing a new map out as you move to the next chamber. It is always easier to just pull the book off your shelf and go at it, but if you are in the mood to add a little spice to your solitaire game with a little effort then you will be in for a visual treat.