Thursday 31 March 2011

3 easy ways to spice up your game

Is your RPG getting stale and you want to breathe some life into it? Don't worry, this happens to just about every GM ever in history. There are easy ways to spice up your RPG with minimal effort.

1. Images

A picture paints a thousand words, so help your players visualise the world you have created with a few choice pictures. Not only will this give them a clearer idea of what their characters experiece, it also helps you since you don't have to write massive descriptions of towns, monsters or NPCs. Paizo's Friends and Foes cards work a treat for showing the players your cool NPCs.

2. Player Rewards

While experience points and money are great incentives to keep your players going, you can easily spice up your game with some nifty rewards. In Dungeons and Dragons +2 tokens work well, which can be handed out to use on anything in a single encounter. You could reward players for daring stunts or great roleplay, but you can also go a little further and give them a reward for writing a short poem about their characters or drawing a picture of the main villian in your campaign. These types of activity keep the players engaged with the story and give them a laugh at the same time.

3. Player Competition

There's nothing healthier than a bit of competition, so why not make a session into one for the players? Since they're so used to working as a group, pitting them against each other in some sort of sporting event or trial will get them thinking more about their characters and provide a change of pace in the game.

Relevant Links
My new D&D accessories

Wednesday 30 March 2011

What is a roleplaying game?

A roleplaying game is structured group storytelling, where the story is progressed by the participants through improvised acting and randomisers such as dice. This is roleplaying at its core, but as experienced gamers know there is more to the hobby than this.

Roleplaying games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, allow the players to act out rich and vivid scenarios that, for a few sweet hours, remove them from the real world and take them to a place of evil creatures and valiant knights, where magic is everywhere and the world is in peril. A roleplaying game is a chance for friends to bond over snacks and soda whilst saving the universe.

The most famous roleplaying game, Dungeons and Dragons, is still the most successful game of its kind. It's likely that most people have heard of this fantasy game but wouldn't have a clue how it's played. Perhaps they have seen the game depicted on TV where the Dungeon Master - the referee in a roleplaying game - dons a cloak and speaks in funny voices. These depictions are usually far from the relaity of the game and often serve to make participants look a bit silly.

But while fantasy is a popular roleplaying genre, there are as many different types of roleplaying game as you can think of and more. From zombies to space adventures, there's a game to suit anyone.

Where can you get a roleplaying game? Well, unfortunately these specialist items won't usually be found in the local department store, but hobby and comic book stores usually stock a wide array of books. The internet is a great place to get your hands on roleplaying games on the cheap and you can even download games to your computer.

There's a world of fun to be had with tabletop roleplaying. These games open up doors in the imagination you never knew existed as well as being a great way to improve math and literacy by having a fantastic time.

Relevant links:
5 reasons you should play Tunnels and Trolls
Why Tunnels and Trolls is a good 'gateway RPG'
Heroes in Dungeons and Dragons

Sunday 27 March 2011

T&T Character Type: Wytchfinder

Wytchfinders are feared across the land for their stone cold determination to rid the world of all witches by any means necessary. Wytchfinders are well versed in religious lore and are able to easily identify a witch when they come across one. Wytchfinders usually wield crossbows tipped with a special poison they brew especially to affect witches.

Prerequisites: 13+ DEX, 13+ INT

Prime Attributes:

Recommended Talents: Sense Magic (INT), Crossbow ace (DEX), Religious knowledge (INT), Intimidation (ST), Witch stories (INT)

Special Abilities:

Identify Witch: The Wytchfinder is able to instantly recognise if anyone is a witch* on a L1-SR vs INT.

Witch Poison:
Wytchfinders can brew a potent poison that affects witches. It takes three hours to create the poison with 10gp worth of ingredients, which is applied to the Wytchfinder's weapon (usually a crossbow bolt). The poison lasts 24 hours before it dries up and loses its affect. If a witch is hit by the poisoned weapon they receive damage equal to half the Wytchfinder's INT rounded down.

* the term witch applies to any evil female magic user.

T&T Character Type: Burglar

Burgling is an art form for those who practise it, and breaking into buildings and stealing things are what Burglars to best. Burglars sneak in the shadows and often disguise themselves to get where they need to be and take what they want to take. Hobbs generally make good Burglars due to their high DX.

Specialist (Must roll triples on DEX)

Prerequisite: 13+ INT

Prime Attributes:

Recommended Talents:
Pickpocket (DX), Stealth (DX), Persuade (CHA), Distract (INT), Con artist (CHA), Eye for detail (INT)

Special Abilities:

Disguise: Burglars are able to disguise themselves as other people of their size and approximate weight. To pull off the disguise the Burglar must pass a L1-SR vs INT. If the disguised Burglar is inspected closely she must make a L1-SR vs LK or be discovered. Disguises last for hours equal to the Burglars INT score before they have to be re-applied with the correct materials (rubber mask, hair dye etc) which costs 40gp to buy.

Burglars have the tools and the know how to pick locks. All locks require a L1-SR vs DX to pick regardless of their complexity.

Saturday 26 March 2011

New Tunnels and Trolls Character Type: Wildfarer

Wildfarers are people of nature, often taking up residence in vast forests away from modern civilisation. They have mastered the art of communicating with the animals and even plants around them and can draw out nature's energy to use magic. It is unlikely that a Wildfarer will have come across many people in their lives so they are usually insular and unsociable, but always willing to help if it's for a good cause.

Prerequisites: 11+ INT and WIZ

Prime Attributes: INT/WIZ/CHA/DX


Level 1 – Natural Empathy (CHA) – Wildfarers are able to 'listen' to nature to gather information.
Level 2 – Player's choice
Level 3 – Nature's Healing (INT) – Wildfarers can use seemingly mundane plants to concoct healing salves.
Level 4 – Player's choice
Level 5 – Wilderness Walk (INT) – Wildfarers' experience of the woods mean that they can rarely ever get lost in them.
Level 6 + - Player's choice

Special Abilities:

Animal Companion:
Wildfarers may choose one animal companion at first level from below that affect the Wildfarer's SRs.

Bird – MR 6 (+1 to DX Saving Rolls)
Mouse MR 5 (+2 to CON Saving Rolls)
Lizard MR 6 (+1 to LK Saving Rolls)
Wolf MR 8 (-1 CHA Saving Rolls, +1 SP Saving Rolls)
Monkey MR 6 (+1 INT Saving Rolls)

Animal companions level at the same time as the Wildfarer, giving them a +2 to their MR. If the animal companion dies it can be brought back to life by the Wildfarer reducing their CON and WIZ to 1, which transfers her energy to the animal companion. This ability can only be used with an animal companion. The Wildfarer may only ever have one animal companion.

Communicate with Animal Companion: Wildfarers are able to communicate emotion with their companion. Both the Wildfarer and the companion are able to feel the emotions of the other no matter how far apart they are. However this does not work if they are on separate planes of existence.

Gunne Restriction:
Wildfarers are opposed to gunnes and will never use them.

Wildfarer Magic: Wildfarers are able to use a limited number of natural spells. They automatically learn new spells each level.

Level 1

Sun Palm [Conjuring]
WIZ cost: 2
Range: 10 feet per caster level
Duration: 10 minutes
Power Up? Yes. Double duration for each level increase.
Description: A blazing light shines out of your hand to light up the darkest places.

Vine Trip [Combat]

WIZ cost: 5
Range: Up to 80 feet
Duration: Instantaneous
Power Up? Yes. Double previous damage amount with each level increase.
Description: Lashing vines sprout from the ground doing 2d6 hits on a single target.

Level 4

Healing Spirits [Cosmic]
WIZ cost: 15
Range: Touch
Duration: Instantaneous
Power Up? No.
Description: Heal target's CON by your INT score.

Too-Bad Toxin [Metabolic]
WIZ cost: 7
Range: Touch
Duration: Instantaneous
Power Up? No.
Description: Stops the harmful effects of poison, purging the toxin from the target's system. This does not restore any lost CON points, nor does it heal wounds caused by poisoned weapons.

Level 6

Call of the Wild [Combat]

WIZ cost: 30
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 combat round
Power Up? Yes. Double the previous damage with each level increase.
Description: You command the denizens of the wild to join you in battle. Any appropriate animals for the environment will attack up to 4 opponents, doing damage equal to you INT to each.

Review: The Temple of Issoth

To say there's been a recent upsurge in Tunnels and Trolls activity would be an understatement. In the past year a bunch of new T&T oriented blogs have cropped up and new writers have been coming out of the woodwork. On such person is Dan Hembree, who runs the Lone Delver blog - one of the best Tunnels and Trolls sites on the net in my opinion. Dan has written four solo adventures so far, all which can be bought from RPGNow or Lulu. The Temple of Issoth is his free-to-download book (I also bought the physical copy because that's how I roll) for low-level delvers. The adventure is a testament to the energy this new generation of writers have brought to the game, although there are hiccups now and again.

The Temple of Issoth is designed for 7.5 but like most other adventures can be tweaked to suit 5th edition. The gist of the story is that a man has hired you to rescue his son from the priests of Issoth, who are to sacrifice him to a Lovecraftian god.

It's beneficial to map out this solo because it's quite easy to lose your bearings. Dan has done a great job of making the dungeon as free-roaming as possible, allowing you to go back and forth through rooms. Because guards are roaming the temple all the time you'll be flipping back and forth to the 'guard combat' paragraphs. These encounters are almost always random but expect to fight them multiple times. This really brings us to the downfall of an otherwise well-made adventure: lack of variety in enemies. There are guards, priests and ghouls as well as the final encounter (which is very cool), but the lack of a random encounter table makes enemy types feel constrained. However, Dan has clearly gone for a themed dungeon and he's definitely pulled it off.

There are three pre-generated characters at the back of the book if you want to dive right in, which is a nice addition. The illustrations throughout are well-drawn and evocative of the setting and includes some nice work by veteran T&T artist Jeff Freels as well as others.

If you survive then you're going to come out much richer than you went in, which is always a bonus in solos. Overall The Temple of Issoth is a great themed dungeon to explore and plunder. Just watch out for the tentacles!

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Interview with BEAN! creator, Jeff Freels

He goes by the name of Grumlahk in the rowdy halls of Trollhalla, but others will know him as Jeff Freels, the artist and writer of BEAN! The D2 Roleplaying Game, which recently released its second edition. Jeff is a stalwart in the industry and has done work for games such as Tunnels and Trolls and his Fabled Worlds system, as well as a bunch of retro videogames.

Aside from RPGs, Jeff has a huge portfolio of art ranging from adverts and business logos to comic strips.

I contacted Jeff to see if he would answer some questions for Trollish Delver and he graciously obliged. Among other things Jeff talks about his love of Tunnels and Trolls, the difficulty of being a blind artist and how he came up with the idea for BEAN!

How did you become involved in Tunnels & Trolls as a player?

I was introduced to RPGs in the 80's, but never had the money to pick up all the different games that were making the scene. My friends and I became pretty adept at modifying the rules of Dungeons & Dragons to be quicker, and more versatile to play the kinds of things we were interested in. Many years later when the Tunnels & Trolls Tin Box came out I picked it up and fell in love with the simple yet versatile rules and the whole DIY liscense to really take off with your own creativity. It really felt like I was home.

What made you decide that you wanted to start doing art for Tunnels & Trolls?

It was that DIY feel of the game where regular people were encouraged to contribute so that everyone could be involved and make the game richer. I contributed a cartoon to a fanzine, and was asked to do more and more illustrations for various projects. People got to know my work, and I've been very fortunate to work with some really talented people bringing their monsters to life on the page.

You're actually legally blind, so how do you manage to do these awesome pieces of artwork? It must be difficult.

I'm guided by spirits... how's that for a short answer? You're right, it's quite difficult. Since my eyes fell apart I've had to relearn how to draw, and I use a computer with super large magnification and special magnifying lenses for my good eye. This is why you'll see a lot of thicker lines in my work. Partially I like the flow of lines that move from thick to thin and the expressiveness therein, but a lot of it is because I just can't work with thin lines anymore. We do what we can, eh?

What is your proudest moment as an artist?

I think the moment when I realized that my game BEAN was taking off. It's really quite validating to have something finally work, and to be appreciated by so many people. Best of all, my artwork makes the game accessable and helps to draw people in while encouraging them to draw on their own creativity. Even the most psychotic Beanfolk have this "come aboard" feeling to them. It's really very difficult for me to think of the artwork and the writing as seperate facets because it just feels like such a holistic project ot me.Because I've been able to create something that can take on this life of its own, this was probably my proudest moment as an artist.

BEAN! to me is a love-letter to Tunnels & Trolls. Would you say that's accurate?

That's very poetic, and a wonderful way to express reverence for that unbridled creativity and community that comes from Tunnels & Trolls, and Risus too for that matter. Gaming is at its most magical when it's about connecting with others and seeing where your collective imaginations can take you. BEAN is of course an expression of those games that came before it and inspired its creation. So yes, I think that's a beautifully accurate description.

A fantasy world inhabited by bean people is pretty unique. What inspired you to come up with the idea for BEAN!?

It was a theme that evolved from just muddling over the idea of making a working gaming system with beans. Beans on the table led to beans in the writing, and eventurally to the characters themselves. It just kind of happened, really.

Is BEAN! your game of choice on game night, or do you play others?

BEAN has certainly become my game of choice. The system is so versatile and quick to adapt to absolutely anything you can imagine that it's something you can just pick up and run with for quick sessions or intricately planned scenarios alike, and so it works really well for whatever I want to do.

Who are your roleplaying heroes who inspire you in your work?

Ken St. Andre has been instrumental in making RPGs accessible and fun. I think his influence is obvious in my own work. He's got a big heart and he's been a good friend to me.
S. John Ross, the creator of Risus: The Anything Role Playing Game, showed the world that you can create characters in 30 seconds for a game that's as serious or as silly as you want. He's also a really nice guy.
Dave Arneson expanded wargaming into fantasy gaming with individual characters and did a lot to encourage others to go out and develop their own game systems. He was a pioneer who encouraged others to continue their own explorations and I think we all owe him a lot.

What material are we likely to see released for BEAN! in 2011?

"World of BEAN!" is the next big project I've been working on. It's an atlas of BEANworld that also descrobes the inhabitants and major points of interest in the world. It'll be a fun source of inspiration for those who want a ready made setting for their adventures.

And finally, why would you recommend people give BEAN! a go?

This isn't the kind of game that you have to spend days studying to learn to play, nor is it a system that demands a huge financial commitment. You can play whatever kinds of characters you want to in any setting. BEAN is where it's at!

Many thanks to Jeff for taking part in this interview. You can buy BEAN! Second Edition now and don't forget to check out Escape From Khosht, a free solo illustrated by Jeff.

Visit Jeff's website at Jeffwerks for more of his awesome art.

Monday 21 March 2011

Now available - The Forest of the Treelords

Fancy a short Tunnels and Trolls GM adventure for free? Have mine! I've just published The Forest of the Treelords, a short adventure for delvers levels 1-3. You can download the free pdf of buy the book.

Here's the synopsis:

The town of Oakblade is an attraction to a great many adventurers looking to make a name for themselves as well as a sackful of treasure. You see, Oakblade is home to the Darklight Forest, a place of secrets where deadly creatures dwell.

Every year Oakblade hosts an event that adventurers around the region flock to participate in. In the event, brave adventurers must enter Darklight Forest in groups and seek out the Treelords and best them in combat. If the party manages to defeat the Treelords they are granted an extraordinary prize – the Essence of the Wood, an elixir that can reportedly bring the dead back to life. So far, not a single adventurer has returned from the event – is this about to change?

Review: BEAN! The D2 RPG 2nd Edition

It's not often that a game knocks my socks off. After reading through BEAN! and playing a couple of solo modules I'm convinced that my socks are not only off, they are somewhere in the next area code. The thing is, it shouldn't even be this good. The mechanics require tossing coins or beans or anything with two sides and there are three character types to choose from, which is severely limited. But the game's author and artist Jeff Freels has made it so easy to customise that complaining about the lack of archetypes is basically just admitting that you have no imagination.

In essence, Freels has mashed Tunnels & Trolls (he's a veteran T&T artist, don't you know?) and modern 'dice pool' games into a streamlined tabletop gem. It's almost Risus simple, and it works a treat.

Your character can be one of three fantasy archetypes: Wizard, Warrior and Rogue. Unlike Tunnels & Trolls, the Rogue is more of a thief like in Dungeons and Dragons than a rookie magic-user. You fill three stats with 9 'beans': Body, Mind and Spirit; getting an extra bean in your chosen archetypes prominent attribute. Your hit points are equal to your Body and Defence begins at zero. You then get as many skills as your main attribute (which you can make up) that will help lower the difficulty level in certain situations. That's pretty much character creation, aside from rolling for copper pieces and buying whatever you can from the equipment list.

Mechanics are a simpler than simple Simon's simple son. In combat each combatant chucks their beans simultaneously according to their Body + weapons and the one with the highest number scores hits equal to the difference of the rolls. It's very Tunnels and Trolls, yet it's simpler and chucking beans around is worryingly addictive. Contested rolls work the same, each participant rolling on an attribute to see who wins. Challenge rolls are also used, where the player has to roll a set number of successes depending on the difficulty of a task.

The second edition made a few changes to the first, but not many. Firstly the book is more streamlined, making it easier to read. There are hower a couple of formatting issues that need to be addressed, but otherwise it's fine. The main addition to the book is the inclusion of mounted and vehicle combat, which is intuitively simple. There are also a few more creatures and spells included in the new edition, but otherwise it doesn't overhaul any rules.

There isn't a setting for BEAN! although Jeff does mention that even though it's a fantasy world there are portals that spew out anything a la Rifts. So it's completely possible that one moment you could be killing Gobleans (yup) and the next you're in a motorcycle chase with a troll carrying an uzi. Because of this you can set BEAN! in any genre, substituting archetype names for something more appropriate and by jove it'll work.

Jeff includes a short solo adventure at the back of the book to introduce you to the rules. It pretty easy, but you'll want to run all the archetypes through to test them out and go different routes through the story. With Ken St Andre's Death Phrogg Attack solo, it looks like BEAN! is going to be a great source of solitaire roleplaying fun.

BEAN! is a silly game, so those looking for a serious game probably won't want to pick this up, although it's so rules-lite that it could be easily adapted into a gritty game. It's also incredibly cheap, so there's no real excuse not to buy it, even if it's just to take a look at the rules.



BEAN! Second Edition is out now

The Second edition of BEAN! The D2 RPG is now available for download. Jeff Freels, Tunnels and Trolls artist extraordinaire and all round nice guy, wrote and illustrated this simple and fun RPG.

This new edition has a streamlined layout along with new rules for archetypes, skills, mounted combat and new monsters and spells.

If you're introducing kids to the wonders of roleplaying, BEAN! is the perfect game to get them started with. Instead of fiddly polyhedrons, the game uses beans, or coins or whatever has two sides that you can chuck onto the table.

But grizzled veterans definitely won't be disappointed, as the rules-lite gameplay allows for focus on roleplaying rather than massive volumes of rules.

So what are you waiting for? Get BEAN! It's way cheap!

Saturday 19 March 2011


My markings tell them to stay away.

I wandered through the market in my hood, but they still kept away. I pointed at the sack of ginger, flicking three fingers up. The small spice merchant sniffed and threw me a bag before shooing me away.

Frestia was like most other cities in the region, which was unfortunate for me. I sank onto a white bench in the academy gardens. The orchids were blooming this time of year and insects flitted through the petals.

A boy and his sister ran by laughing but stopped in their tracks when they saw me. The boy approached and asked what I was. "I'm a tree dweller." I hated the slur but I knew it was the only thing he would understand.

"My father says you hurt people," he looked expectantly.

"We hurt those who need to be hurt. Just like your King."

His sister urged him to stop tarrying and he left me and the bench alone. The sun was setting. It was time for the rite.

The guardsmen didn't pay attention to me as I left the gates. They knew me. I crossed the dirt path and walked across the soft dewy grass until I came to the field. There I waited.

One by one they came. Small bumps at first, but soon they crawled out from their holes and across the ground. Their beady eyes glinted in the moonlight and I could hear their soft breath. I slid my knife from its scabbard. Must keep low. I darted towards the closest Wulven and sank my blade between its shoulder blades. After a brief cry it went limp. I dragged it out of the way and laid it on its back. I prayed loudly as I slit its belly.

The patrons stared at me coldly. I slipped across the room and padded up the stairs to my room.

The morning brought marching. Regimented steps on cobblestone, they came by and left in moments. I heard muffled voices from the next room talking about raiders from the Bracken Hills.

I was sat observing the orchids when they returned, bloody and sweating. The captain rode on horseback grasping something in his gloved hand. Then I saw it clearly. They all did; the women, the children. They saw it and they cheered and whooped and whistled.

It was the severed head of a man.

Depths of the Devilmancer playtesting commences

In January I announced that I had drafted my first mini solo adventure for Tunnels and Trolls called Depths of the Devilmancer. A band of fellow trolls from Trollhalla are currently playtesting the adventure and I hope to have the finished product released at the beginning of April.

Here's the synopsis as a reminder of what it's all about:

You are sailing to Galinor in search of treasure. You have heard that there is a cavern there that holds untold riches, and you want to get your grubby paws on them. Except, there's something evil afoot in these caverns. People from the local port have been going missing and it's been said there's a Devilmancer living in there. Devilmancers have the ability to communicate with the hell realms and summon demons and devils to do their bidding, as well as other horrors. There's a hefty bounty on the head of the Devilmancer and you think you have what it takes to kill it and rescue the captives. Be warned, however. Sinister traps and even worse foes await you in the belly of the world. It's unlikely that you'll be returning.

Friday 18 March 2011

5 reasons you should play Tunnels and Trolls

It was around 3 years ago when I first got into Tunnels and Trolls and I haven't looked back since. The unbridled joy this game has brought me over the years is unparalleled in any other game and part of the reason I write this blog is to share my experiences in the hope that more people will get into the game.

Here are five reasons I think you should pick up Tunnels and Trolls and get stuck in:

Simple, elegant mechanics

Tunnels and Trolls was the first roleplaying game to use a universal saving roll. Couple this with the sole use of six-sided dice, simple combat and monsters you can create on the fly, this game is easy to pick up and play.

A sense of humour

With spells names like Hidey Hole and Take That You Fiends, it's clear that Tunnels and Trolls doesn't take itself seriously. Adventures are laced with pop culture references and humour and the characters you will come across are wonderfully zany. This isn't to say that you can't play a serious game with these rules, but light-hearted definitely works best.

Easy to play alone

Not only was Tunnels and Trolls designed as an alternative to Dungeons and Dragons, it was also made to allow for easy solitaire and play-by-mail games. There is a wealth of solitaire adventures to get your hands on and sites such as Trollbridge host numerous play-by-post games if you can't get a group together.

A tight-knit community

Although Flying Buffalo isn't an industry giant like Wizards of the Coast, Tunnels and Trolls has a fantastic and burgeoning community. The main hub of activity is in the hallowed halls of Trollhalla, a members-only online club for players. The site is run by Ken St. Andre himself, who is easily accessible unlike many other RPG creators. Trollhalla is home to some of the nicest people I've come across and it's a brilliant place to make new friends


Getting a copy of the latest rules, which is a boxed set chock full of material, will set you back about $20 more or less. After this initial purchase pretty much everything else is cheap and cheerful compared to other RPGs, and in some cases completely free. Also you don't need to fork out for funny-looking dice - just take them straight out of any boardgame you have lying around.

So there you have it, five reasons why you should play Tunnels and Trolls. Let me know if you decide to pick up the game and try it out and tell me your experience.

Thursday 17 March 2011

Creating a great Tunnels and Trolls monster

Fashioning a creature for Tunnels and Trolls is as easy as making a consceous decision to not travel back in time and jump into a volcano. In essence, you need two things: a name and a monster rating. Here's an example:

Burger Golem
MR 24

This is a perfectly acceptable monster. You know that it will roll 3 dice and plus 12 to the total. However, a Burger Golem on its own is going to be incredibly boring, like an old man reciting bible passages while doing his tax return. The Burger Golem needs some pazzazz - some flavour, so let's add some special damage. I usually give mine a couple at lower levels, but 3 or 4 special attacks make higher level creatures unpredictable to the delvers:

Burger Golem
MR 24
Special Abilities:
Spite 2/Hamburger Hop - When 2 sixes are rolled, the Burger Golem is able to bound out of the way of oncoming attacks. Halve and damage done to it this round.
Spite 3/Greased Lightning - When 3 sixes are rolled Burger Golem fires a TTYF with 13 INT. The target must also make a level 1 saving roll on DEX or fall on their faces, putting them out of the next round of combat.

As you can see, the little ham-bugger is taking shape with its new spite-triggered attacks. Now we must give him a special ability, positive or negative (preferably a bit of both), to further flesh him out.

Burger Golem
MR 24
Special Damage:
Spite 2/Hamburger Hop - When 2 sixes are rolled, the Burger Golem is able to bound out of the way of oncoming attacks. Halve and damage done to it this round.
Spite 3/Greased Lightning - When 3 sixes are rolled Burger Golem fires a TTYF with 13 INT. The target must also make a level 1 saving roll on DEX or fall on their faces, putting them out of the next round of combat.

Special Ability:
Sizzling skin - the Burger Golem takes half damage from ice weapons or magic. However, it take double damage from water weapons or magic.

Now Burger Golem has a strength and weakness, he's pretty much done. All that's left if to give him a little bit of flavour:

Burger Golems are created from the fastest of fast food by wizards with too much time on their hands. Their hot greasy skin makes them difficult to get close to, but damn do they smell good. In fact, you can usually smell a Burger Golem from 10 meters away.

So there we have it. A method to flesh out your Tunnels and Trolls monsters to make them more fun to play.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

3 cool ideas for clerics

Back in the early days of Dungeons and Dragons, when 0e emerged from the primordial soup of wargaming, Clerics were the class to be. Not only could they be armed to the balls, they had the power to make the undead spin around and make a beeline for the exit as if they had just seen mummy and daddy skeleton boning on the sofa. Sometimes these rotting shamblers would burst into flame just from a point of the Cleric's finger. If that wasn't enough they could smear the holy savlon of goodness on a booboo to heal it, as well as having a bunch of other spells at its disposal. Clerics were the bee's knees.

In honour of these heathen-smiting god botherers, here are three interesting ideas for your Cleric:

1. Stranger in a strange land - Make your Cleric a wanderer from a distant land. Maybe he or she worships a deity that nobody in the campaign location has never heard of. Does he or she go around converting people? Or does he/she have to wrestle with their own faith and the lure of other gods?

2. Taboo spell - Choose a spell that the Cleric will only use as a last minute resort for one reason or another. Make it a higher level spell that you will only be able to use rarrely anyway - no use in making it 'cure light wounds'. This gives great roleplaying opportunities.

3. Demonic vice - Everybody's got their vice, but what if it were moreso for a cleric? Maybe he/she has become the vessel of a weak demonic entity who forces them into gambling, excessive drinking or maybe murder? How does the cleric battle this demon in his mind? Choose a vice for your cleric and have it cropup every once in a while.

Saturday 12 March 2011

Monsters! Monsters! - an overview

I've been posting infrequently lately due to my laptop being in the shop for repair. I hope to have it back today or tomorrow, so I'll be posting more from this weekend.

Saving scantily clad floozies from towers and thwarting the schemes of a sociopathic lich is all in a day's work for the hero. But nobody cares about the monsters whose lives are made hell by these gallant folk, who stride into a cave, tear the guts out of half a family of kobolds while their whimpering sprogs watch in horror as mummy and daddy are kicked around by a twat in a funny cloak; and then stripped of their life savings.

In Ken St Andre's Monsters! Monsters! the roles are reversed and the player gets to take on the role of a Ghoul or Yeti or even a Balrog, each of whom have the sole aim of getting revenge on hero-kind and the evil civilised world by demolishing their towns and cities and eating their most beautiful people. The game uses familiar Tunnels and Trolls rules with some tweaks and a random character generation system using an ordinary deck of cards. For instance, drawing the ace of spades lands you with a Dragon to play with, or the six of diamonds nets you a Shoggoth. Some monsters are ridiculously powerful and others, such as the bland 'Human Scum' gets the average stats of an average human from averageville, averagestonia. Nobody wants to be Human Scum.

Adventures in Monsters! Monsters! usually revolve around going to a town and causing mayhem. Types of wandering enemies range from a cow to a warband of 10 fighters, each having a certain reaction to your monster depending on its charisma score. They could be friendly towards you - offering you chocolate and giving you a massage, they could be indifferent to you, or they could just flat out attack you.

I've yet to play a game of Monsters! Monsters! but I'm looking forward to reviewing it. It has all the humour of Tunnels and Trolls plus the chance to play as a Hydra.

Friday 4 March 2011

Losing my Vampire: The Requiem virginity

It doesn't take the most observant person to notice that vampires are enjoying a comeback. Done with luring buxom Victorian women into their boudoirs for a nightcap followed by good old fashioned jugular penetration, the once dark stalkers of the night have now become just plain old stalkers. The ever-maligned Stephanie Meyer rocked the worlds of teenage girls with her pensive vegetarian daywalkers who shine like emotionally unsteady disco balls in the daylight while offering some garbled message derived from Mormonism. Afterwards the bloodgates opened and there was the inevitable slew of angsty vamp dramas bathing our screens, from highschooley Vampire Diaries to the political raunchfest that is Anna Paquin's nipples, err, I mean True Blood.

So it was nice to sit down on Thursday night with my regular group minus one and get back to some proper gritty vampire action in my first ever game of Vampire: The Requiem. We played the first chapter of the introductory mini-campaign that is included with the rules. My character was a botanist who worked at the University of New Orleans and the other player rolled up a barkeep from a local club. After getting a brief lowdown on the rules we were off on one of the best adventures I've experienced on any system.

For those who came in late, Vampire: The Requiem uses White Wolf's storyteller system, utilising D10s as the core mechanic. It works well, making the focus more on story and character development than seeing how many civvies you can relieve of their mortality. Like a pair of silk briefs the experience was smooth and comfortable and I look forward to diving back into the New Orleans night for another taste of Vampire.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Heroes in Dungeons and Dragons

Back in those halcyon days of gaming; when TSR was top dog, much due to the lack of many other dogs, Dungeons and Dragons was a merciless game. Heroes were little more than peasants who were slightly more capable in hacking and hewing goblins that most other dung-covered citizen. In those days it was common for players to roll up characters who were as fragile as Christian Bale's ego i.e. started with 1 hit point. Coupled with a violent trend for Dungeon Masters to throw their "friends" into over-deadly situations, early Dungeons and Dragons was a meat grinder.

Ok, so this isn't entirely fair. Surely back in the Basic/Expert days there were some Dungeon Masters who preferred to keep their players from shuffling the mortal coil at the hands of a bunch of foaming, disgruntled bugbears. It's just that with such weak early level characters it's no wonder many gaming groups decided to start at higher levels.

Anyone who has played or is the least bit familiar with 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons knows that heroes are no longer soggy flannels, but are beefed up superheroes from first level. Wizards of the Coast emphasise the game needs to be fun for players too and as a result killing characters is actually quite difficult unless the DM chucks in monsters 5 levels higher than the party. A TPK is still possible, but it's now frowned upon by the creators.

To be honest, 4th Edition has a point. What fun is it if a) the players can't make it to second level and b) the DM needs to constantly be catering for new characters? Heroes are heroes for a reason; although some of their ridiculous powers could be stripped away. I guess that's why Wizards have given us the Essentials line, which feels more like a call out to the old days of Dungeons and Dragons, where basic attacks were king and spells were limited.

Heroes are tough, hardy and shouldn't go down with a good fight. 4th Edition has pumped characters but Essentials has made them sensible. While the old days of Dungeons and Dragons had a wonderful flavour, fabulously evoked in OSR games such as Swords and Wizardry and Labyrinth Lord, this new generation makes heroes more heroic, as they should be.

What do you think? Do you prefer your heroes straight out of the old school or do you like them to be people to be reckoned with?