Tuesday 31 May 2011

DemonLord design diary 3 - combat

Obviously it's important that a game like DemonLord needs to have a simple combat system. I wanted to use d6s since they're easy to get hold of and, well, I like them. Each player will only need 2d6 in this game.

The following is an example of how combat is conducted.

Tiberius Flagstrom comes across a warped demonic entity known as a Hulking Damned (it's not a troll, honest!) and decides that he wants to kill the creature in order to proceed. To decide who is quickest to react, each rolls 2d6 and adds their Athletics attribute. Tiberius wins easily.

As his move action, Tiberius engages the Hulking damned in melee combat using his Deathlover Sword. 

He now uses his attack action. He rolls 2d6 and adds both his Fighting bonus and the bonus he gets from his Deathlover Sword, which is +2 and +1 respectively. His total attack value is 12.

The Hulking Damned now rolls for his defence. It needs more than Tiberius' attack value to successfully defend. It rolls a 5, then adds its defence bonus of  +4 and the armour bonus from its Leather armour, which is +1. Its total defence value is 10, which means that Tiberius has struck a blow. 

Having hit the Hulking Damned, Tiberius rolls his weapon's damage dice. The Deathlover Sword deals 1d6 + 1 damage. Tiberius rolls a 4 for a total of 5 damage, which is deducted from the Hulking Damned's current HP. 

This is a very simple combat example. Advanced rules for combat include two-weapon fighting, total attack, total defence, steady aim and concealment modifiers. There is also the possibility of substituting an action for a Task Check in order to see if the hero can do something cool, like disarm a creature or launch them into a trap. 

Monday 30 May 2011

4 awesome minimalist roleplaying games

Sometimes you don't want to have to plough through a 300 page hardcover rulebook in order to play your next one-shot. It's so much easier to pick up a rules-lite RPG and get your improv on. The following games have really gone to town with the 'lite' aspect. Here are the top 4 minimalist roleplaying games:

1. Cthulhu Dark

Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu isn't exactly a crunchy game mechanics-wise. Simply roll a percentile to find out if you succeed in doing something. Of course, there are other rules for phobias, magic and the like, which make it a little more than a proper rules-lite game. Cthulhu Dark is the Call of Cthulhu experience distilled to its bare essentials. Conceived by Graham Walmsley, Cthulhu Dark (a pun on Cthulhu Lite) is a 3 page rules set with freeform character creation and simple d6 task resolution. Dark still keeps a simplified sanity system in which when you see something horrific you roll a d6: if you get higher than your insanity value you increase it by 1. Once it reaches 6 you're incurably insane.

Get Cthulhu Dark free

2. Risus: The Anything RPG 

Risus is arguably the most popular rules-lite game out there, with it's simple-yet-brilliant task resolution system involving dice pools and madcap sense of humour. Risus is designed as a system more than a setting in itself, so it can be used for whatever genre you want. Last Halloween I ran a teen slasher flick game with Risus completely on the fly and it went great.

Get Risus free


BEAN! Is a game I've been championing for a while I even interviewed creator and artist Jeff Freels about the second edition of his unusual and brilliant system. The D2 system involves using a 2 sided object like a bean or a coin for resolving tasks and combat. Each character has only 3 attributes which have 'beans' assigned to them. The default setting is fantasy, but there are rules for modern and sci-fi too.

Get BEAN! for cheap

4. Zombie D6 Lite

Now this is what I call minimalist. Zombie D6 Lite is merely 1 page in length but offers a really fun zombie apocalypse system. Each character has attributes that have a poor, average or good score. Each score has a related roll to succeed in a task with modifiers depending on the difficulty of the task. Give this a whirl if you're looking for zombie mayhem without the prep time.

Get Zombie D6 Lite for free

Sunday 29 May 2011

DemonLord design diary 2 - heroes

In DemonLord the players take on the role of regular men and women who have set out on a journey to become rich by plundering the darkest reaches of the world. Because of this heroes are fairly weak unless they're kitted out in superior equipment. 

Because of the low fantasy setting and the fact that characters really are just normal schmoes, DemonLord is designed to be a classless roleplaying game, allowing players to adjust their attributes to suit their play style. Players are encouraged to write a brief back-story and career for their characters to flesh them out. They could be a seasoned sailor with knowledge of the world and its inhabitants. She has seen everything and this will come in handy when adventuring. In this case, the sailor would start with a high Lore attribute and may possibly want to achieve more knowledge by plundering necklaces, which enhance their Lore. 

Alternatively, the character could be a novice pit fighter, brawling for money in taverns across the kingdom. A high score in Fighting and Defence would work for this type of character. Nothing pleases him more than unearthing great weapons and armour to make him stronger in battle and able to withstand blows that would surely destroy a weaker being. 

Perhaps your character has a high score in her Social attribute. She would probably be well suited to be an ex-diplomat or government official, who is used to talking her way out of tight spots rather than fighting her way out. 

Having a loose character system allows for some intriguing roleplaying opportunities. How does the thief and the town guard get along? Perhaps there are two clerics from different religious sects who must fight side-by-side. 

As long as the player can think of a reason for the character's decision to go into adventuring, they can be anything. The imagination is the only limit here in DemonLord.

DemonLord teaser trailer

DemonLord design diary 1 - items

DemonLord is all about exploring castles and finding items with awesome names. The real aim is to become a walking tank who can eviscerate anyone in your path, so items and equipment are a big part of the game.

I wanted to blend action RPGs like Diablo with tabletop games like Tunnels and Trolls and Dungeons and Dragons. I really love the special weapons and items that can be found in Diablo and the notion of kitting yourself out with a range of glowing magic items that make you look badass.

So in DemonLord I want the player to have the same feeling of awe and accomplishment after they emerge from a dungeon, scarred to hell but carrying amazing equipment. There are several 'slots' on the character that can be used for items: weapons, armour, rings, bracers and necklaces. Each slot enhances a specific attribute making them perhaps much more agile, better fighters or give them better knowledge of the world.

A character who has survived quite a few adventures may look like the following:

Serra Lionscarr
Level 4
Fighting 18 + 4
Social    16 + 3
Lore      10 + 0
Athletics 13 + 2
Defence  12 +1
HP          18 
Total Attack: +6
Total Defence: +3 
Armour: Devilspawn Leather + 2
Weapon: Dagger of the Godeye +2 (1d6+1)
Ring: Ring of Glory +1 (Social)
Necklace: Reapersnare Necklace +2 (Lore)
Bracers: Godeater Braces +1 (Athletics) 
Because of the simple mechanics in DemonLord it's really easy for the Demon Master (Games Master) to create kick-ass new items. This is really a game for people who want to be awesome. However, DemonLord is designed to be a deadly game (hence its tagline) so it may take some time before you have the character of your dreams, which makes it all the more sweeter when you finally get there.

Saturday 28 May 2011

Coming soon - DemonLord

Do you crave an old fashioned dungeon crawl? Do you think adventures should be riddled with horrific traps and horrendous beasts to challenge the players' mettle? If so, my new roleplaying game DemonLord should suit you well.

DemonLord is no walk in the park. Death lurks around every corner and players will have to have all their wits about them to emerge alive.

DemonLord is all about hack 'n' slack and getting awesome loot. Players will be able to kit themselves from head to toe with equipment such as the Ring of Endtimes, the Radiant Spear of the Tides and Chainmail of Dragonoath. Only if they are armed to the teeth with trinkets, armour and weapons can adventurers stand a chance of surviving a quest.

The new roleplaying game uses an original d6 system that offer quick and easy gameplay suitable for solo play.

DemonLord's first draft is close to completion and I hope to have it available from late June/ early July. I will keep you updated on progress and I hope you try the game out.

Friday 27 May 2011

DelveCast: Episode 1

Unveiling DelveCast - the Tunnels and Trolls podcast

Along with the videos I've been putting up recently, I'm starting a podcast covering all things Tunnles and Trolls and beyond. DelveCast will be the first Tunnels and Trolls podcast in the world (to my knowledge) and the first episode will be up shortly.

Right now it's just me but in future episodes I hope to interview writers, artists and publishers as well as have some of my fellow bloggers guest star.

Watch this space.

Jay and Silent Bob pimp RPGs

Snooch to the nooch all. I've been an ardent listener of the Smodcast Network for sometime now and since cult director Kevin Smith and his comrades launched Smodcast Internet Radio (S.I.R) just 3 weeks ago I've had the likes of Jay, Silent Bob and Jen Schwalbach massaging my ears with their crudely hilarious humour.

Since the show is free they have to run a bunch of ads, but rather get people to send in their own audio ads, the radio hosts read from scripts, which are more often than not deviated from for comic effect.

So what's this got to do with RPGs? Well, the other day they ran an ad for Victoria, a roleplaying game set in Victorian England where players can solve mysteries with Sherlock Holmes, brush shoulders with Captain Nemo or even track down Jack the Ripper. Apparently the game will be shown off at Gen Con too.

This made me smile a lot. Smodcast has a wide array of listeners, so exposing a large audience to roleplaying is really great. I know Jason Mewes (Jay) plays D&D and he was getting pretty excited about it when he was reading the ad.

Unfortunately, I can't find any information online about Victoria, so if you know of a website please shout it out because it sounds intriguing.

Kevin Smith fans would do well to check out Smodcast and SIR, which provides me with constant entertainment throughout my working week. I've just got to practise not laughing out loud like an ass when I'm at my desk.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

My T&T solos video part 2

Turn this up a bit.

Balancing encounters in T&T

First of all, go and check out this post by the almighty Kopfy and then come back. Read it? Good. This is a really great post containing some advice that is pretty rare in Tunnels and Trolls: how to balance combat encounters. Kopfy does a really good job explaining how this can be achieved and his method has inspired me to create an easy reference matrix for GMs to use when writing adventures for parties of certain levels.

Like Kopfy says, you have to figure out the maximum potential combat adds a character can have and match it with the maximum damage of a monster.

lvl 1
28 adds x no. players =  max damage
lvl 2
68 adds x no. players = max damage
lvl 3
108 add x no. players = max damage

This is easy enough. All you have to do is +40 adds for each new level to get your max player adds.

Below are some monster ratings and their maximum potential damage. This gives you a guide as to what monsters you can throw at a party of a certain level.
10 17
20 28
30 39
40 50
50 61
60 72
70 83
80 94
90 105
100 116
For example, say you're writing an adventure for 4 second-level PCs. Using the above formula you know that  you have 272 to spend on monsters. So you could throw in a Goblin Priest MR  20, a Blue Wolf MR 40, an Orc Clubber MR 50, a Goblin Skeleton MR 10 and an Ogre Knight MR 100.

Now, this isn't perfect. You will still have to tweak it slightly once you have all your monster ratings. Above, if all were joined as one MR it would be 220, which is 23d6 + 110, so you perhaps should check the PCs' max HPT and see if it needs to be a dice lower.

Kopfy's right in saying that T&T writers really need to start balancing encounters better, so I hope this helps a little. If you have any better ideas leave me a comment and share it with everyone.

Monday 23 May 2011

D&D Lair Assault brings the rage

It seems that every few months Wizards of the Coasts sparks some new controversy in the roleplaying hobby that sets the blogosphere alight with 4e bashing and defending. You've likely heard now that the gaming goliath is starting a new in-store tournament programme called Lair Assault, which sees a party teaming up to scramble through really tough dungeons, using their tactical know how, knowledge of the rules, and ability to optimise their characters to complete the events.

This has created quite a stir in the community, with some prominent bloggers coming out hard against WotC's move to appease the min/maxers and remove the roleplaying from a roleplaying game.

Look, this isn't something I'm going to take part in. The fact that the press release states that Lair Assault is "pitting the skill of the players against the wits of the DM" really puts me off, since that essentially makes the DM a bad guy rather than a referee in this scenario. But I don't care if people want to play this if they find they enjoy it. I can't really see it taking off, due to the amount of people, both deriding it and defending it, who state they won't play it; but if it does then great, let people enjoy themselves. I can get on with playing D&D the way I like it, and let the tactical players get on with assaulting lairs.

Yes, I'd much rather Wizards spend their resources supporting current games, like Gamma World maybe, which they're really neglecting, but I couldn't care less if they want to put another event on. I don't have to play it and neither do you.

Sunday 22 May 2011

My T&T solos video

I made my first video about Tunnels and Trolls! There are only a handful of videos on Youtube about the game, so I wanted to do something about it. Here's part 1 of my solo collection.

Friday 20 May 2011

Bring your RPG to life with Gowalla

As a guy whose dayjob takes place entirely on the internet, I'm usually on top of web technologies, but I have to admit that I never got into the geolocation social network/ game Foursquare. After some reading I decided to sign up to Foursquare and its rival Gowalla and see how they were and what I could get out of them.

One thing Gowalla has that Foursquare hasn't is the ability to leave private notes for your friends at the location of your choice. For example, my girlfriend could put a note on a supermarket, so when I 'check-in' that location on Gowalla her note appears telling me to get milk or whatever.

This got me thinking about awesome ways to use this tool for roleplaying games. What if the GM placed hidden items throughout the city, such as treasure or magical weapons so when the players checked-in to, say, the comic book score, they each received some treasure for their character?

Or perhaps you could leave clues around the city or your local area, each of which they have to follow to get the next clue, which could eventually lead them to discovering some treasure.

Ok, so it isn't exactly roleplaying and the fact that the characters themselves aren't getting treasure in the game may put a lot of people off doing this, but it seems like a cool interactive idea. Alternatively you could leave little stat bonuses that they can only use in one session, since that's a bit more abstract.

I really think this function on Gowalla has some really good roleplaying potential to engage players more in the game. Maybe you can think of something? If so, let me know in the comments.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Alternate Dwarves for T&T

Along with the 7th edition rules came a short book on alternative rules for playing Tunnels and Trolls. This gave options for new rules to incorporate into your game for things such as combat, spells and character creation. I've only ever really skimmed through this, but I thought I'd have a more detailed look into the lesser-played rules of T&T, starting with Dwarves.

All male dwarves wear full
beards, usually tangled and covered in
dust. Dwarven society is truly egalitarian,
and the women work alongside the
males in their tunnels and fight alongside
them on the battlefield
We begin with some flavour about my favourite kindred. I find it interesting how Ken St. Andre gave the Dwarves an equal society, where women have the same roles as men, which isn't often addressed in other games and fantasy fiction in general.

Dwarves can see much better than other
kindred in low-light situations, needing
no illumination to make their way about

This is a pretty common trait with Dwarves, as it makes sense that they would be able to see in the dark do to their proficiency as miners. Interestingly, they can see better than other kindred, even Elves, which goes against a lot of popular RPG tropes.

Dwarves have strong, sturdy bodies
from centuries of toiling in a difficult
environment. After rolling and assigning
his 18 dice for abilities (see “Rolling
Ability Scores”), a dwarf may re-roll up
to 1 die from each of his ST and CN
attributes, keeping the better result of
the original roll or this re-roll

This new addition allows Dwarves to be even stronger and hardier than they already are, really setting themselves apart from other kindred. However, their INT and CHA are dropped due to re-rolls and taking the lowest number.

Dwarves gain a +1d bonus on all SRs
made to sense their current direction or
distance underground, or when climbing,
searching, examining, or crafting
stone or stonework.

I love these little specific rules that grant advantages. This gives Dwarves a real advantage over other Kindred when delving into most tunnels, as they will be likely made of stone. In fact, this rule makes it integral that you have a Dwarf Warrior in your party.

Weapon Familiarity: When using axes,
picks, or hammers as weapons, dwarves
may treat any combat die rolls of 1s as a

On the other hand, I don't like this rule. This means that Dwarves will never fumble, unless it's house-ruled that a natural 1 and 2 rolled are always fumbles regardless of the rules.

I don't currently integrate these rules into my games but I'm definitely going to in the future. They really flesh kindred out, giving them a better flavour and making them stand out from one another.

Next up: Elves.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

The Tomb of Baron Gharoth review

I despise this solo adventure. I don't mean to say it's bad because it's absolutely not - in fact it's a fantastic book. No, I hate it because it killed my favourite character that I've been levelling for some time: Mogwrath the Dwarf.

If I were standing up I would have fallen to my knees and screamed "NOOO!" to the thundering skies. But in reflection this was a really good way for my beloved Dwarf to perish: at the hands of a well-written and entertaining solo adventure.

Dan Hembree of Lone Delver Games is a relatively fresh face in the Tunnels and Trolls world but he has already got a handful of great solos on the market. They're all high quality and sport lovely full-colour cover art as well as some nice pictures, though most of them public domain, throughout the books.

The Tomb of Baron Gharoth is a good old-fashioned dungeon-crawler, as you delve deep into a vast crypt in search of a family heirloom that was buried with the malicious and vain Baron Gharoth. The promise of 5000gp as a reward plus the stuff you could potentially find in the tomb is enough to forgive the fact that if you run away from the task at hand you'll be swiftly turned into a crossbow pincushion by some bodyguards.

The tomb is, of course, crawling with undead - zombies and skeletons are the flavour of the week here but the random encounter table throws up one or two non-undead thingies. The chart itself is interesting because rather than just listing the monster you have to fight the die roll corresponds with a paragraph you must go to. This is great for creating a good narrative, but bad for losing your page - so use a bookmark!

Fights are well paced and structured, getting more difficult the closer to the big bad you get. The zombies on the upper level are a doddle but when you get to the skeleton warriors in lamellar armour and carrying kite shields even tough delvers will be whittled down with spite damage.

I don't want to give anything away, but the final battle is a tad unfair and it was where my Dwarf met his fate just because he wasn't carrying a certain item. This really ticked me off to be honest, but hey, I should have done more exploration.

There are some stock dungeon traps here that I managed to avoid, but there are more subtle ones too that I was impressed with.

The Tomb of Baron Gharoth is a very well-written 7.x solo adventure for more experienced delvers. The fights are intense and there's a lot of loot to grab if you explore, but I feel that the boss conditions are a bit too strict and brutal. Overall, you should buy this.

Monday 16 May 2011

The five God-weapons [Project Stormvault]

A large aspect of the campaign world of Project Stormvault will be what I call the God-weapons: five mystical items supposedly put on the planet at the dawn of time to be one day wielded by the worthy. These powerful weapons are scattered in the hidden places of the world where men only whisper of and not even the most ferocious best dare go. One is in the Dire Mountains, one under the Ebony Forest, one in the Sea of Silver Ships, one in the Kakora Desert and the last in the Gorgolashana Caves. Few people know these locations; only the three Magisters and the odd scholar.

The five God-weapons are as follows:

Beleshia, Queen of Blades
Type: Falchion
Dice: 300 + 200
Req: ST 30, DX 25
Special Abilities: Beleshia is indestructible. In addition, the wielder increases her DX and ST by 30 when Beleshia is wielded.

Horgart, The Hellhammer
Type: Warhammer (2-handed)
Dice: 350 +230
Req: ST 60, DX 32
Special Abilities: Horgart is indestructible. In addition, it has a 20% chance of killing anything it hits.

Velastina, Bow of Angelic Songs
Type: Greatbow
Dice: 140 +150
Req: ST 25, DX 40
Special Abilities: Velastina is indestructible. In addition, it includes a quiver of infinitely replenishing arrows. All DX saving throws made with this bow are reduced to level 2.

Barvizora, The Staff of Storms
Type: Staff
Dice: 120 + 100
Req: ST 10, DX 7, WIZ 40
Special Abilities: Barvizora is indestructible. In addition, it knows all 13th level spells and below.

Selena, The World Dagger
Type: Dagger
Dice: 160 + 130
Req: ST 20, DX 17
Special Abilities: Selena is indestructible. In addition, it has a 20% chance of summoning an Earth Elemental with MR 200 every time the wielder attacks with it. The Elemental stays in play for 3d6 rounds.

Check out these fancy dice

What would we do without dice? They are core to our roleplaying experience if you're not playng a fancy schmancy dice-less system and I'll bet you've got a lot of them around your house - I know I have. I love dice.

So when I received an email from the patron of Dicecreator I was in awe of these wonderful designs. Check them out.

Cool, no? 

Sunday 15 May 2011

A Fragmentary History of Trollworld review

All great fantasies have their origin story and Tunnels and Trolls is no exception. The rulebooks aren't exactly a goldmine for setting fluff but Ken St Andre has sought to rectify that with A Fragmentary History of Trollworld, a book spanning thousands of years in his campaign realm, Trollworld.

Readers may remember that Ken uploaded this brief history on his site for all to see for free, but released in as a print-on-demand (POD) publication shortly afterwards after a warm reception to the blog posts.

If you're a Tunnels and Trolls enthusiast like I am this is hands-down one of the best purchases you can make for the system. While it's a short tome, Ken sets out a rich history of the events and characters that shaped Trollworld that can easily be lifted into campaigns. Some of the best entries are the ones which talk about the kindred of Trollworld and it's clear that Ken wanted to put his own original spin on familiar races such as the Dwarves, who are actually all vegetarian, and the titular Trolls, who are the most ancient race and a lot more intelligent than in other fantasy universes.

While other fantasy worlds have their gods who created their races, Trollworld's gods are just very powerful wizards who came from other dimensions, bringing kindred along with them. When these mighty individuals went to war with each other they changed the ecology of the world, creating and eradicating races and changing the geography of the land.

Joe Calkin's cover art of who I believe is the Death Goddess is superb and David A. Ullery's line drawings throughout are wonderfully old school and evocative of good old-fashioned high fantasy.

This is a joy to read from cover to cover and in terms of campaign material for T&T you're not going to get much better than this.

Friday 13 May 2011

Interested in blog swapping? Let me know

As part of my re-design, I've decided to make Trollish Delver a more open platform. Therefore, I am interested to know if you would like to write a guest post for the blog. In exchange I would write a post on your blog. This would benefit both parties and the audience of both blogs.

Let me know if you're interested and we can make it happen.

Site refashioning

You may have noticed that Trollish Delver has changed a lot over the years, as I'm always trying to improve both the content and the style in which it's presented. I've been thinking a lot over the past couple of weeks of how we as gamers use certain aesthetics in our blogs and I felt like I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to clean things up and present a minimalist version of the blog where the content, not the graphics, portray my views. I want to begin to mix contemporary graphic design and roleplaying to bring the hobby into the present.

So I give you my new design. I hope you like it.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

New T&T Kindred - Automata [Project Stormvault]

Automata are mechanical creations of Clock Mages - magic-users who spend their lives creating a clockwork replica of themselves from impossibly intricate mechanisms. Once wound up Automata can continue functioning almost indefinitely, as long as they mind themselves up at dawn when they begin to get sluggish.
Most Automata come from the Winding City, where a good majority of Clock Mages thrive. Their presence generally denotes that their creator has passed away and they are his or her earthly representative. While they are a marvel to behold, Automata are not good conversationalists, although they are capable of disjointed speech that sounds like grinding gears, and they often try to mimic others in their actions. Many Automatas get jobs in manual labour due to their strength, often in the mines. Others, however, choose to explore the world and become delvers out of curiosity more than a want for money.

Automata are unable to use magic, so may only choose the Warrior type in character creation.

Their stats are as follows:

ST: x 2
DX: x 1
INT: x 2/3
SP: x 3/2
WIZ: x1
CON: x 3/2
LK: x1
CHA: x 1/2

Trait: Automata are created from metal able to withstand extreme heat or cold. Natural fire or cold attacks do 1d6 less CON damage because of this.

Announcing Project Stormvault

I've begun work on a new publication for Tunnels and Trolls under the project name Stormvault for Trollish Delver Games. It's going to be a campaign setting but with a difference. I'll be releasing snippets of Project Stormvault over the next couple of months before release. I'll be following the same sales model of TDG's other books - free PDF and relatively cheap print version.

I'll keep you posted  - hopefully this will be something that T&T players can really sink their teeth into, but I imagine that you could convert to other FRPGs.

Monday 9 May 2011

The tale of Drong and Drokki

In my solo Depths of the Devilmancer, there are two Dwarves called Drong and Drokki who explain to you what's happening in Port Gloomstorm and help you on your path. I really like these characters and have decided to flesh them out more in order to put them in future adventures.

Essentially these guys are a comedy duo like Wayne and Garth, Bill and Ted or Jay and Silent Bob. Drokki's the (sort-of) straight man while Drong is the thick one with a heart of gold. They both want to help, but aren't always successful in their own adventures.

Drokki Snotkicker was brought up in the Black Mountains, where he excelled in his studies and when he left school he became a very knowledgeable librarian. Drong Hamfists, on the other hand, dropped out of school in his first year so became a waste disposal officer- which he wasn't exactly much good at. In 1324, the Year of Shadow in the Dwarvern calender, the Black Mountains were invaded by Hobgoblins and Goblins, who wanted to expand their territories in the north. As there were so many, Drokki and Drong were conscripted into the army and spend a year fighting the creatures.

They met because Drong saved Drokki's life. A particularly nasty Ogre had cornered poor Drokki and was about to slice him up with his mighty cleaver when Drong leapt off a ledge and decapitated it with his axe. Since then they have been firm friends and Drokki, who was once snobby about those with lower intellect, respects Drong more than anyone else in the world.

Once the war was over the two went back to their normal jobs, but often met up for ales at the Rockhelm Tavern. After a couple of months, Drong and Drokki met up with the same things on their minds: they wanted out. They experience exhilaration and excitement that they'd never felt before the war and they craved more adventure. So they both decided that they would quit their day jobs and leave the Black Mountains to seek adventure. 

I'd really like these guys to make regular appearances in my solos and GM adventures and perhaps even start some fiction about them.

Sunday 8 May 2011

The Lord of the Rings LCG Review

I've been waiting for this game since Fantasy Flight announced it last year and I finally sat down and played my first game last night. The Lord of the Rings LCG is an incredibly fun game with elegant mechanics and the high quality production value that everyone's come to expect from Fantasy Flight- although it does suffer from some balance issues at the moment.

First off, for those of you who aren't familiar with Fantasy Flight's range of Living Card Games or LCGs, of which there are a few including Call of Cthulhu, Game of Thrones and Warhammer: Invasion; are a lot like Collectable Card Games a la Magic The Gathering, but instead of having random boosters, card expansions are released in set packs. The reasoning for this is sound - rather than sinking hundreds of whatever currency you're using into randomized cards in hope of snagging those rares, LCGs give you the deck building experience but with non-randomized expansions. Not only that, these monthly releases also continue to tell a story in that game's universe - hence the 'living' part.

Now that's done, lets bite straight into the juicy meat of the matter. The Lord of the Rings LCG is a co-operative game, in which players join forces to combat the agents of Sauron and complete a series of quests. One brilliant aspect of the game is that, because the quests are 'programmed' and the encounters random, you're able to play this solo very nicely - although it's a tad tougher that way.

There are four deck types that correspond to 'Spheres of Influence': Lore, Tactics, Spirit and Leadership. Each player controls one of these decks and three heroes that go with them. The decks play differently to one another and use varying strategies for victory. I used Leadership, which is a resource powerhouse, allowing you to spend lots to play cards - but I've heard that Tactics is a difficult deck to play at the moment, so they're going to have to sort out these balancing issues in future expansions. You can also use decks with multiple spheres, which will be something that will happen much more in tournament play I imagine.

The way to win the game is to progress through a series of quests, represented by quest cards. You do this by committing heroes and allies to the quest to try and add enough progress counters to the quest card in order to complete it. Of course, life isn't that simple as you'll also be fending off Spiders, Orcs and other evil creatures, as well as detrimental events and exploring threatening locations. The main mechanic behind the game is Threat. You get  a nifty Threat Tracker, which displays the current threat level of the game. Each round the threat increases, which makes it more likely that an enemy will automatically engage you in combat rather than letting you wander around unnoticed. If the threat level reaches 50 the player loses the game. You can also lose by having all your heroes die. These two losing factors make for a tense and strategic game - since you have to decide whether you should commit your heroes to questing in order to progress, or wait to see if a big bad monster shows up so they can fight it - questing heroes and allies can't fight in combat as well.

Combat resolution is really simple, but also quite unpredictable. While the game goes for the classic 'try beat its defence with your attack' the addition of Shadow Cards make combat more dynamic and fun. How Shadow works is when an enemy engages you, you take the top card of the encounter deck and attach it to the enemy. Once you have selected a hero or ally to defend you flip the attached card over and see if it has the 'Shadow' text. This will often boost the enemy's attack, or do damage to other heroes. Either way, they can be deadly.

There are three scenarios included in the rules, each with ranging difficulties. I played the first scenario, which is difficulty 1, which kept me playing for around two hours, but scenarios range up to difficulty 7! Eek!

With four player decks and three scenarios, The Lord of the Rings LCG has enough to keep you playing for a long time, even before the expansions are released. The counters included are high quality, although the cards themselves feel a little flimsy. Overall the game is a joy to play and I'll definitely be investing in future sets.

Thursday 5 May 2011

Midnight Folkore re-launch

Just a quick post to say that my other blog, Midnight Folklore, has been re-launched. I'm a massive fan of folklore and I use the blog as a repository for my research and general musings.

So if you're interested in folklore, check out www.midnightfolklore.blogspot.com.

This will by no means mean I'll be neglecting Trollish Delver. Oh no, not a chance.

Sunday 1 May 2011

T&T Monster: Hexwood Crawler

Hexwood Crawler
MR 64 (7d6 + 32)
Special Damage: 
Spite 1/Wink Wing
Spite 2/Mind Warp - When 2 sixes are rolled Hexwood Crawler does 1d6 INT damage to the target. 

Special Ability:
Camouflage - Hexwood Crawlers are able to blend into forest surroundings. Every time a player attacks a Hexwood Crawler they must pass a L3-SR on LK or do half their hit point total.

Hexwood Crawlers are three-foot long quadrupeds with stalk eyes and needle-like teeth. They hunt in packs of 3-7 but generally don't stray too far away from their nests. Hexwood Crawlers make their nests in large hollowed out trees where they store bodies of anything they catch for their young to devour - of which there can be up to 10. They are masters of camouflage and are able to teleport to ambush their pray. However, before attacking, the Crawlers attempt to psychically disable their prey by turning them into slobbering imbeciles. To communicate they emit a call in a frequency that only Leprechauns and Fairies can hear. To them it sounds like a high pitched, drawn-out whistling that can be heard from 200 ft away.