Thursday 28 April 2011

Happy birthday Ken St.Andre

Today the creator of Tunnels and Trolls celebrates his 65th 64th (my bad!) birthday. Please join me in wishing this great man many happy returns.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Review: Call of Cthulhu - The Doom from Below

Last night was one of the rare occasions I got to play Call of Cthulhu and it was definitely worth the wait. I was Keeper as usual and I decided to go with The Doom from Below by Super Genius Games. Clearly I don't want to give anything away, but SGG have put a lot of effort into fleshing the back story of this one-evening module. You're given a very rich and detailed history of the White Mountains and the surrounding forest where the adventure is set - details that will likely never be revealed to the players but are important context-wise to the Keeper. I had a lot of fun just reading this, never mind playing it.

The quick synopsis is that a circular pit has been found in a New England forest that seems a tad out of place, so the investigators go to, well, investigate it by descending into its dark depths.

Again, not giving anything away, but this is a classic exploration adventure where the investigators uncover the mystery of what happened in that forest and the horrors that lurk within. I highly recommend this adventure.

Monday 25 April 2011

Paper or PDF?

As the shelves in my house are rapidly running out of space, I've found it an advantage in having the option to download games and supplements as PDFs. I know a lot of people prefer physical copies - including myself - but with the way print media is converging to the digital medium, PDFs may make paper copies obsolete eventually.

What I want to know is, are you a paper, a PDF or both? I've set up a little poll in the sidebar so get your answers in for SCIENCE!

Sunday 24 April 2011

First look at T&T miniatures

A few days ago the denizens of Trollhalla, the exclusive fan club for Tunnels and Trolls, received an email from Ken St. Andre asking whether a series of T&T miniatures should be put into production. Naturally myself and most others said "Hell yes!", so the Trollgod enlisted mini maker Jason Youngdale to craft up some pewter figures. You can find pictures of the first few Tunnels and Trolls miniatures on Ken's Flickr stream - but be warned because they're unpainted and pretty difficult to make out in their rocky environment.


Edit: It appears I got a bit mixed up here. These miniatures were not made specifically for Tunnels and Trolls but were a sort of 'tester', with the possibility of having some T&T figures made in the future.

Saturday 23 April 2011

How to create a solo adventure from beginning to end

I've been thinking recently about writing solo adventures for systems other than Tunnels & Trolls, such as Swords & Wizardry or Call of Cthulhu. It's a great feeling when you've finished writing a solo adventure and you play through it for the first time, ironing out the bugs and unleashing it upon the world as I've recently done with Depths of the Devilmancer. But how do you go about writing a solo from scratch?

1. Think of a story

This could be the easiest or toughest part, depending on how much you like writing plots. Many Tunnels & Trolls plots are very thin, with just the bare bones of a story as to instead focus more on the dungeon environment. Of course, this would be different for, say, Call of Cthulhu, where story is absolutely key to the quality of the adventure. It's really up to you what style you want your solo to be. If it's pure hack 'n' slash then you don't need much  of a story.

2. Map it up

The next step is to map up your world. You only need to sketch out a crude map with key locations you'll be using, as you may fill in a bit more as you write. You may need multiple maps if your adventure takes the player over the wilderness and into a dungeon - as you would need a map of the surrounding area as well as a dungeon map. Mark your starting location as 1. Give the player multiple routes to success, but maybe put more hazards in their path in one route than another.

3. Begin to populate

Things actually need to happen in your adventure, so for each location annotate your map/s as to what could be in there e.g. monsters, NPCs, treasure. You might want to colour code each type of encounter just to make it clearer when you come to writing it up. I use red for monsters, yellow for NPCs, green for treasure and blue for traps.

4. Start numbering

Make a spreadsheet with all the paragraph numbers you're going to use. Devilmancer has 40 paras so I wrote 1-40 in columns of 10. You'll also need to make a colour-coded key to show when a paragraph has been completed, whether it's in the middle of completion and if it's a 'dead zone' (where the character's adventure is over).

5. Start writing

Now we're into the meat of it. Begin with writing the first paragraph, which will end with some options (no more than 3 is probably best) that tell the reader to turn to the appropriate paragraph. You don't want that para to be close to the current one, so choose one that is at least 1 column away from the one this para sits in. Once you have written the linking paras, block them out on the spreadsheet to show they have been completed. Rinse and repeat until all spreadsheets cells are blocked out. Congratulations! You have written your first solo adventure. Now for the final step...

6. Playtest, playtest, playtest

You will need to go through the book multiple times, taking every route possible to find any bugs such as infinite loops, broken paths and things the player could exploit. Once you've done this, hand it to friends or family to go through, looking for typos and grammar errors that can be difficult to spot on your own. If possible, get people in the industry to playtest, as they will be able to point out balancing issues and specific rules that need changing.

7. Release it

Once you've had a thourough amount of playtesting it's time to put it on the market. It's up to you how far you want to go with this, but always make sure you've got all the appropriate copyright fluff in the book. There are quite a few places on the web that do royalty free artwork, which can be great to break up long sections of text. is a really good way to self-publish your materials, as you can also opt for PDF version of your book as well as the print copy. For a fee you can set up an author's account on sites like RPGNow or DriveThruRPG.

5 T&T solos you must play

One of the greatest things about Tunnels and Trolls is that you can play alone when you can't get a group together or you just feel like picking up an RPG and getting stuck in. I have a large catalogue of solo adventures that I'm always dipping into, so I want to share with you 5 of the best.

Buffalo Castle
Written by: Rick Loomis
Art by: Liz Danforth

The first ever solo for the system and written by Rick Loomis, Buffalo Castle is the adventure most player cut their teeth on as it was included with the 5th edition rules. While it's quite a crude dungeon romp, Buffalo Castle contains some great random encounters and weird magical effects (that water fountain can be a gamble). I know many players, including myself, who use Buffalo Castle as a gauntlet for new characters to test their mettle. Once they've graduated they can go on to other, more difficult adventures  - and likely get killed. The best part is that you can play Buffalo Castle free online!

The Dungeon of the Demon Mage
Written by: Andy Holmes
Art by: Simon Lee Tranter

Tunnels and Trolls solos are, by majority, notoriously difficult and The Dungeon of the Demon Mage is no different. However, it's difficulty doesn't detract from it being a fantastic adventure with a cool story about a, well, an evil demon mage who was supposedly destroyed in his mountain, but it looks like he's up to no good again. But, being a loot-hungry delver, you decide the best course of action is to head into his lair and steal his treasure. Dungeon of the Demon Mage is full of nasty traps and aweosme magical items, so that if you do survive you'll be much better off for it. Holmes' online store, Hobgoblin's Tavern, is currently down so this one may be difficult to get for the time being.

Castle Death
Written by: Andy Holmes
Art by: Various

This is the biggie. Castle Death doesn't mess around  - this is a deadly adventure that you're unlikely to survive, but if you do you'll become a legend. The castle of Duke De'Ath is a place of perpetual horror, where maddening things lurk in the dark, waiting for their next meal. There are plenty of treasures and magical items to be found in this hellish place, but whether you will emerge alive is another story. Castle Death is a massive solo, so take an afternoon out to get stuck in.

Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon
Written by: Ken St. Andre
Art by: Liz Danforth

With a superteam like St.Andre and Danforth, how could an adventure be anything less than awesome? Deathtrap Equalizer is St. Andre's first teleport solo - a type of adventure where the player is sent to random parts of a large dungeon with a dice roll. Before entering the dungeon proper, you are asked whether you want to Frog Ring or the Lion Ring, the former meaning you can teleport in and out of the dungeon and rest up during intervals between rooms; the latter is for veteran delvers only, as it has you go through the dungeon room by room without time to rest. Packed with fantastic and deadly monsters and wonderful challenges, Deathtrap Equalizer needs to be part of your collection. You can buy the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

Naked Doom
Written by: Ken St.Andre
Art by: Robin Carver

This adventure introduces itself by throwing you into the underground of Khazan as a prisoner who must run a gauntlet to earn your freedom. There is one tiny catch're only wearing a loin cloth. Yup, Ken 'Masochist' St. Andre created a solo where you begin with buggar all and you must be constantly on the move, fighting monsters and avoiding traps. There's understandably a high mortality rate in Naked Doom, but it's worth doing if you want some great loot. This is an original and tense adventure that will keep you hooked. You can also buy it at DriveThruRPG.

Friday 22 April 2011

Depths of the Devilmancer now available!

Well, it's finally here. My first solo adventure for Tunnels and Trolls is now available for purchase for £3 or free download from Lulu.

Thanks to all who contributed to the final product that is a bizarre and hopefully funny mini adventure.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Creatures of the tundra for T&T

Ever since I read H.P Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness I've been in awe of the polar regions and research conducted there. Setting an adventure in these inhospitable snowy regions makes for a hell of a game, as not only do the characters have to contend with the strange creatures that live there, but also strive to stay alive in the freezing cold.

Here I have created a selection of creatures to use in Tunnels and Trolls, but feel free to port them to whatever system you see fit. As you'll see, I'm going for a very Lovecraftian feel, as that is what draws me to this setting.

Shivering Crawler
MR 34 (4d6 + 17)
Special damage: spite 1/1
Attributes: Shuns the light - in the daylight the Shivering Crawler halves its MR (17).

Shivering Crawlers are wretched creatures that have lurked beneath the icy mountains for aeons. They live in large civilisations of hundreds of thousands, building great cyclopean cities out of ice and rock. They have bulbous heads similar to that of a frog and several spindly appendages that serve as arms and legs. Their bodies are jelly-like and capable of a-sexual reproduction.

MR 20 (3d6 + 10)
Special damage: 2/ Snow cloak - the Hoboleth becomes invisible while in the snow. Halve all damage done to it.
Attributes: Many eyes - The Hoboleth is able to see in all directions and therefore cannot be surprised.

Hoboleths are 7ft tall gangly creatures with eyes all about their naked bodies. They inhabit vast mountain ranges, often serving as hunters for Shivering Crawlers. Hoboleths are fairly frail but have the ability to camouflage against a snowy backdrop so they can get the jump on their prey.

MR 160 (17d6 + 80)
Special damage: 3/ Tentacle bash - The Bashannonoth does an extra 2d6 CON damage to every player in sight.
4/ Maddening scream - Every player must take a L4SR on INT or be driven mad for 1d6 rounds. During those rounds they will drop to the floor in a gibbering wreck, unable to attack or defend themselves.
7/ Swallow whole - 1d6 players in melee combat with the Bashannonoth are immediately swallowed whole. They must pass a L7SR on STR or be eaten alive.
Attributes: Fire resistant - Fire magic or physical fire will not harm Bashannonoth.

Bashannonoth roam the wastes devouring whatever they can find. They are often called the Hounds of the Tundra, as their baying resembles that of a dog.

Stylish blogger award

We'll here's a nice surprise. Bard over at the awesome The Clash of Spear on Shield has seen fit to award me the Stylish Blogger Award, which is awful nice of the chap. So thanks, Bard - everyone should go visit his site.

The award comes along with a few fun rules:

1. Thank and link back to the person giving you the award.
2. Share seven things about yourself
3. Select 10-15 blogs who you think deserve this award
4. Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award

I've covered the first one in the first paragraph, but many thanks again, Bard.

Seven things about myself

1. I'm quite a keen fencer. I find swordfighting on a Monday takes the stress out of the beginning of the week.     Stabby stabby.

2. I'm an amateur poet, though I haven't written for a while. If you're curious you can check out my full collection

3. I bloody hate tuna. Ick!

4. I'm a guitar-playing metal head and my favourite band of all time is Iron Maiden.

5. My favourite TV series of all times is Blackadder II, III and Goes Forth

6. Away from the blog I'm an SEO and freelance videogame journalist. I play lots of videogames.

7. The first movie my girlfriend and I watched together was the highly romantic Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Cheer Kevin Smith!

Blogs deserving of the award

1. T&T Liasha World - Always a great commenter and a wonderful Tunnels and Trolls blogger with some nifty campaign ideas.

2. The Lone Delver - In depth analysis of Tunnels and Trolls and a joy to read. Also a writer of fantastic T&T solos.

3. Trollhammer Press - Writer of fantastic solos, creator of interesting creatures and fellow metal head.

4. Lloyd of Gamebooks - One of the best gamebook bloggers around and a really nice guy to boot.

5. Atroll's Entertainment - Ken St Andre's blog which is chock full of cool things, both gaming related and not.

6. Turn to 400 - This is hands down the funniest blog on my blogroll. Murray's Fighting Fantasy reviews are detailed and hilarious and well worth a read.

7. The Omnipotent Eye - Andreas is a lovely guy and an asset to T&T. His blog is awesome and so are his solos. 

8. Adventures and Shopping - Excellent gaming/ accessories reviews and where to buy them. A great resource for all roleplayers.

I can't really think of any others that I follow regularly, so I'll leave it at that. Now to inform them. 

Thursday 14 April 2011

Do you run multiple campaigns simultaneously?

Every Thursday me and the boys get together to roll some polyhedrons in our weekly 4e game. This is all well and good - I like the system although it definitely has its drawbacks, but at least one player has been wanting to play some Pathfinder. I'm really up for this, as I'd probably prefer Pathfinder to 4e to be honest, but we have a year and a half invested in the current D&D campaign. I have a dilemma. 

However, every last Thursday of the month we play a new game just to mix things up, so I've been thinking about running a monthly mini Pathfinder campaign. Since the two games are fairly similar it should be easy enough for the players to pick up, but since it's a fantasy game I don't want to be giving them more of the same.

So I ask you, friends. Do you play multiple simultaneous campaigns? Would you play two versions of the same game at the same time? Please let me know.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

4 reasons you should be playing retroclones

The OSR (old school renaissance) is a behemoth. This movement to revitalise classic roleplaying has stretched far and wide and it seems like every week a new OSR blogger is added to the ranks. Those who choose to stick by modern games are really missing a trick by not being part of this burgeoning community, and here's why.

1. Tonnes of fan-generated content

Although all the old TSR stuff is out of print and yellowing on the bookshelf, the OSR has a dedicated fanbase that is churning out quality material left, right and centre. From guides to adventures, OSR content is generally pretty cheap and well worth the money. Hell, even the games themselves can be counted as fan-generated content. As well as blogs and websites, retroclones have an array of great high-quality publications such as Knockspell and Oubliette filled with high quality articles. 

2. Returning to roleplaying roots

While I love a lot of modern roleplaying games it's great just to go back to where it all started by cracking open a good retroclone. If you cut your teeth on the venerable 1st edition AD&D then you might like OSRIC, whilst Holmes/Moldvay fans would probably gravitate towards Labyrinth Lord. Even if you were brought up on 4th edition, it's a good learning experience to have a go at the older editions to see just how the game has changed over the years. 

3. Inexpensiveness  

Retroclones are cheap. You can get most of the PDFs for free providing you don't mind forgoing artwork or the paid-for downloads aren't exactly wallet-busting. In a world where the economy's in the toilet it's good to know that you can get together with friends and play a game completely gratis. Also, since there are old-school games, there is no emphasis on minis, so there's a big money sink right out of the window.

4. No corporate shenanigans

Wizards of the Coast has come under fire in recent years for some of the decisions they made with D&D and as a result has lost some support from the fans. Since retroclone creators aren't completely profit-oriented they are more likely to listen to fan suggestions and implement them. Not only that, under the OGL you can create all the content you desire for your favourite retroclone without the impending hand of a lawsuit on your shoulder.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Listen to Conan's symphonic orgy

Conan the Barbarian is not only a testosterone-filled hack fest, but it also has one of the greatest musical scores in film history. One of the best tracks is The Orgy, which comes on when Conan enters Thulsa Doom's hideout where he finds a bizarre cannibalistic orgy going on. It's a great score, so give it a listen.

A Sworded Adventure out now

Ken St. Andre has released the second in a series of updates Tunnels and Trolls solo adventures, after the excellent A Traveller's Tale which came out earlier this year.

A Sworded Adventure will challenge human warriors to a typical day in the famed city of Khazan,  with pickpockets, the undead and hordes of uruks.

This adventure has been updated from the version that appeared in Sorceror's Apprentice issue 5 in 1979. Ken has expanded it, partially re-written it and added new illustrations. A Sworded Adventure is also compatible with 5th and 7.x editions.

You can buy the new solo at DriveThruRPG  for a mere $2.95.

Thursday 7 April 2011

How to create great dungeons

The dungeoncrawl seems to be going out of fashion with 4e Dungeons and Dragons. Instead of long winding tunnels full of complex passages and secret doors, the game encourages a couple of big set pieces per dungeon. Publishers like Goodman Games are getting back in the swing of good old-fashioned dungeoncrawls with their Dungeon Crawl Classics range and as the OSR grows and grows so does the need for good underground exploration.

But there's no reason why you can't have a great dungeon-based adventure with any edition or any fantasy game. We're going to look at exactly what you need to craft fantastic dungeons from your imagination.

Dungeon History

The key to making a great dungeon is to make it feel like a living, breathing place, full of tribes of monsters, an economy and architecture. The best way to start building your dungeon is by thinking up a history for it. You don't have to go too far back into the past - just sketch out a few key historical events that led to the forging of your dungeon. For instance, a mad mage (aren't they all?) built an underground lair to keep out of the eyes of the king while he hatched his evil scheme. However, he was found and the place was ransacked. A year later a tribe of kobolds made their lair in the entrance and over time moved deeper into the dungeon while new creatures, like orcs and goblins took up residence in the upper levels. This is a very basic history, but you get the picture.

Once you have an outlined history, you can start filling in more details about the monsters who live there. Did they move in to find loot? Or are they attempting to build an underground empire? This brings us onto our next point:

Dungeon Ecology

You'll usually want two or three races occupying a single dungeon. This adds variety whilst not overloading the players with too much information. Usually different races appear on different levels of the dungeon, so figure out why certain races are where they are. Do the goblin have a small war going on between the Kobolds on the level below? Is it set up like a religious order with the pions inhabiting the top levels and the archpriests at the bottom? Do the races on the extreme top and bottom levels know of each others existence? The latter could be a catalyst for some great roleplay. Figure out what the climate and architecture is like on different levels. More intelligent creatures are more likely to have more intricate architecture and furniture, whilst the dumber ones sit on crates and sleep on hay.

The Rooms

Rooms are the real meat of the dungeon. Inside rooms anything can happen. There could be a family of hulking ogres or a puzzle to solve. The trick is to keep players on their toes. Don't make every room the same old bland 'four walls without much going on'. I find that if you build your dungeon on some kind of theme then inspiration comes easier. Rather than being an everyday medieval dungeon, make it an Egyptian tomb but with Norse influences, or represent the 9 circles of hell but have a 'heavenly' place right at the bottom level. You don't want your players to think; "Ah, there's another sarcophagus, there'll be a mummy in it", so put a living goblin in there who has been locked up in solitary confinement.

Also try and mix up encounters. Perhaps have 2 puzzles, 2 easy encounters, a medium encounter and a difficult encounter on one floor. Don't have your goblins just sitting around waiting for a fight, have them wandering around or taking part in some kind of goblin annual celebration. Bring the place to life!

The Big Bad

This is the guy or woman the adventurers have been working towards, the meanest of the lot. Again, try and find out what motivates the boss and write a little background for her. But again, flip the players' expectations. Make them fight a version of the boss on every level, where she gets stronger and better equipped the deeper they go; or maybe feed the players information that monster A is the boss, but then lead them to believe it's monster B but in actuality it's monster C.

I hope this little guide has been helpful to you when you come to making your dungeons. If you have any other tips you'd like to share just pop them in the comments.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

What is the worst tabletop RPG ever?

In the community we talk a lot about what the best roleplaying games are (according to opinion), but rarely do we look at the dregs of the hobby, the games that are really, really terrible.

Now, I don't want to diss someone else's work that they've spent hours and hours on, but there must be games out there that are just, well, crap.

Probably the most infamous game is F.A.T.A.L, a RPG that focuses on sexual violence and other such uncool things. This 900 page tome is a testament to awful game design and would test the will of even the most die-hard gaming adventurer.

Rifts has always had its opponents, as have Palladium games in general, but they're probably nowhere near the worst games.

So tell me, what is the worst tabletop RPG you have ever played or come across, a game that has made your blood boil and your knuckles white?

Tuesday 5 April 2011

10 free RPGs you must play

Free RPGs are all over the major PDF download sites like DrivethruRPG and RPGNow, but the real task is to sift through the mud and find the best free roleplaying games. Now, I'm not talking about introductory games here, I'm talking about full blown core RPGs for free. You can't go wrong there. So let's take a look at what RPGs the web has to offer our cheap and greasy hands.

CJ Carrella's Witchcraft - If you're looking for modern horror and urban fantasy you need look no further than Witchcraft. Playing out like Buffy and Supernatural, Witchcraft uses an easy system - Unisystem, that allows for a lot of variety in your game.

Labyrinth Lord - One of a couple of OSR games on the list. Labyrinth Lord is a wonderful re-imagining of the Dungeons and Dragons B/X rulesets. As long as you don't mind text-only, this is a free RPG you don't want to miss.

Tales from the Wood
- Sure, playing as a vole or ferret doesn't sound like much, but once you get playing Tales from the Wood you'll realise there's a lot more to this little game that meets the eye. Rather than playing humanoid animals, here you take on the role of actual animals in their fight to survive in the woods.

Swords and Wizardry - This is one of my all time favourite games. Swords and Wizardry is a great free roleplaying game that emulates the original D&D edition. This is pure old school mayhem and it doesn't get much better than this.

D6 System - Bundling 3 settings for one great price of nothing, the D6 System is a simple and effective ruleset used in games such as Xena and Star Wars. For diddly squat you get Adventure, Space and Fantasy. You can't ask for much more than that.

Barbarians of Lemuria - This game rocks all kinds of face. BoL is set in a low fantasy, sword and sorcery world and contains some amazing streamlined rules. My favourite part is the freeform magic system, which allows the player to pretty much do whatever they like with their magical powers. Great free game.

Neverwhere 3rd Edition
- Based on Neil Gaiman's book and TV series, Neverwhere is an urban fantasy game set in London Below, a magical parallel realm that co-exists with London, or 'London Above'. Check out the source material and get playing.

Mutant Future
- Gamma World gets the OSR treatment with Mutant Future, a madcap post-apocalyptic RPG where you can play as a plant. Oh hells yes.

OSRIC - Here's a cleaned up ruleset based on 1st edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Worth a play if you feel like harkening back to the glory days of roleplaying for free.

Four Colour System
- Ah, the golden age of comic books, when heroes were heroes and villains were nasty but loveable. 4C has a great set of rules to run a supers game for free!

New Kindred and Type: Lycanthrope

I got an email from James Mayhark who wanted me to take a look at his lycanthrope kindred and type for Tunnels and Trolls. Were-creatures are actually covered in 5th edition, but are in no way this in depth, generally having double-stats when they 'were-out'. Here James has gone for the double-whammy, with some great rules for both a kindred and a type. Maybe it's just me but I prefer the lycanthrope as a kindred, but he's thought up some really cool ideas to use it as a type. Check it out:

New Kindred: Lycanthrope
Half-Wolf (Werewolf)

Lycanthropy (derrived from the greek "lykanthropos", 'lykos' being "wolf" and 'anthropos' being "human") is the state of a human sharing and existance as a wolf, as well as any other given animal (the term 'lycanthropy' techinically being specific to werewolves is also loosely applied to describe other were-animals in the place of the proper term 'therianthropy'). It is looked upon as a curse and a power as they find abilities that their animal sides grant, as well as the dreaded animalistic rage and instinct widely accepted to couple lycanthropy.

ST x2
DX x3/2
CH x1/2
CN x3/2
IQ x1
SP x1
LK x1/2
WZ x1
*Players may choose to partake of an animal other than wolf in their lycanthropy. Also, if the player chooses, and with the GM's consent, the player may relocate the modifiers above as it would seem fitting for their animal of choice (for example, a werebat may be faster than a werewolf, but would also be slightly more frail. This would allow for a greater dexterity bonus, but also a lowered constitution.).

Special Abilities
Great Strength: Wielding two handed weapons in one hand requires no extra Strength or dexterity. Also, when dual wielding weapons, instead of requiring a combined Strength and Dexterity requirement totals, Lycanthropes only have to meet the requirements individually.

Wild Communion: Lycanthropes can communicate with animals (but only on a verbal-type principle, not on a psychic level such as seeing into memories, or sensing feelings from afar).

Beastial Fury: Any weapon weilded by a Lycanthrop only gets half (x1/2) (rounded down) the ADDS bonuses for combat, as their fury does not allow them to wield them to their full potential, resulting in enraged hacking and slashing. (Note that the amount of DICE is unaffected)

Beastial Fury 2: Lycanthropic rage also effects the focus and control of a lycanthrope, and does not allow them to practice a given occupation. Therefor, lycanthropes cannot be considered to be a certain character type or class aside from "lycanthrope".

Lycanthrope "Class" info

Prerequisites: 13+ STR and DEX

Prime Attributes: STR/DEX/CON

Lycanthropes start with 1d6x10 gold

Lycanthropes start with one talent of the players choosing, and earn talents the same as the other classes listed in the book. Lycanthropes may, like warriors, may use their talents to gain combat adds.

Lycans automatically learn their spells at the propper level. They may also learn, but not automatically, spells the same as rogues can, as demarked in the book.
Level 1
Shifting- Costs 1- The player shifts into animal form. Constitution is temporarily reduced by 3, but the player gets a +7 bonus in an appropriate attribute (depending on animal, ultimately the GM's discretion) while in animal form.

Improved Sense- Costs 2- make either a Luck or Intelligence level 1 Saving Roll to sharpen your senses, allowing you to figure out traps, detect enemies in hiding, or to add 5 dexterity for a single encounter.

Regenerate- Costs 1 per 3 health- you MUST regenerate fully when using this spell, and therefor must calculate the cost of the entirety of your missing health.

Level 3
Partial Shifting- Costs 2- Shift part of your body (such as a hand) to make claws, giving you +4 combat adds for a single encounter. You may spend 2 points more to shift both both hands/multiple body parts to receive +4 more combat adds for the encounter. This spell may be cast in addition to attacking during your turn in combat.

Poison Fang- costs 4- If your animal is considered poisonous (snakes, spiders, ect) then you may use this spell as your attack, inflicting 1d6+4 of damage (plus normal combat adds, NOT including that of weaponry) and poison your enemy. Make a Level 1 Saving Roll for dexterity to determine weather the attack is landed or not. Your opponent takes 1-3 damage during their turn (roll one d6 and divide the number in two, rounded UP, to determine the damage done by poisoning)

Level 5
Animal control- Costs 7- Roll one d6. On a 1 or 2, you get a single animal from your surroundings with an MR equal to 3d6 each. On a 3 or 4, you may get 2 animals with MR equal to 3d6 each. On a five, you get 3 animals with MR Equal to 3d6 each. On a 6, you get 3 animals with MR equal to 4d6+1 each. Note that you roll the given amount of dice for each animal SEPARATELY.

Special blood- Costs varies- You may heal another character back to full health through the sacrifice of an amount of your precious blood. The cost for this spell is equal to half the recovered health in both power and constitution (to a maximum of 6 each)(you must heal the character back to full health)

Level 7
Summon Spirit- Costs 9- Summon forth the spirit of your ancient kin to support you in battle. The spirit's MR is equal to 5d6+7 and has a natural armor of 2 protection.

Monday 4 April 2011

Destiny Quest is a paper MMO

Gamebooks are making a resurgence into semi-popular culture. First came the new Fighting Fantasy books, including some fresh titles likes Stormslayer and Night of the Necromancer, then Lone Wolf once again dropped onto our gaming shelves, albeit in drawn out stages. Most recently we've seen the re-release of Fabled Lands, the series that raised the bar in what can be done in gamebooks. Now there's a new contender and its name is Destiny Quest: The Legion of Shadow.

Destiny Quest doesn't beat around the bush in flaunting its inspiration. The aim is to complete quests, beat bosses and acquire phat lewt along the way. Yes, Destiny Quest is an MMO in book form. OK, it can't really be massively-multiplayer but author Michael J Ward has clearly loaded the book with popular MMO tropes. The end result is a mash-up of Fighting Fantasy and Fabled Lands. While there is an overaching plot, the player still has the freedom to choose which quest they want to do next and when they want to go back and visit town. It's more restricted that Fabled Lands, where you can anywhere you like, but its much more free-roaming that Fighting Fantasy or Lone Wolf.

To find quests, the players uses the three colour maps at the front of the book, which are each split into acts (1, 2 and 3). Each quest is colour-coded to signify difficulty and the aim is to work your way from green to red quests and finally defeat the boss at the end of the act. You can then move into the next map and 'act'.

Characters begin as lowly adventurers, but are eventially able to choose a path, such as warrior, rogue or mage, which the player must stick with, but later they can choose a career, like assassin, ranger or pyromancer, which can be swapped around. The entire aim of the game is to have an incredible endgame build with the best weapons, armour and trinkets that boost abilities. Because of the vast amount of customisation in the book you'll in theory never end up with the same character twice.

Combat is really simple, rolling first on yours and your enemy's speed value to see who hits and then rolling on brawn or magic (whichever's highest) to see how much damage is done. Like in an MMO, there are slots on your body for armour and weapons, including feet, helmet, hands, chest, and each hand, as well as room for two rings and a necklace. Each weapon or armour will boost a certain ability and ofen give the character some kind of special ability that can be used once per combat. Endgame characters will have different abilities in all slots, making them ridiculously powerful. There are even rules for PVP - battling your mates.

Destiny Quest is a fresh take on gamebooks that wants to draw in a new generation of nerds. While Fighting Fantasy wanted to emulate playing Dungeons and Dragons, Destiny Quest seeks to copy MMOs like World of Warcraft in its gamestyle. Watching your character grow from a puny guy with +1 brawn to a ranger with massive dps or a tank who can take the wallops is really rewarding and I highly recommend this book.