Monday 31 October 2011

De Profundis - an overview {Cthulhu}

Right, it's no secret that I love H.P Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos, so when I came across Cubicle 7's De Profundis at my local game store I knew I had to buy it. Not only do I like collecting Lovecraftiana, I was also incredibly intrigued by the premise of the game.

In essence, this is a game of letter writing. Yes, that thing we used to do before email. It forces you to actually become a character in a Lovecraftian story, writing to other players in order to uncover some sort of mystery. While the rules are badly laid out and written in needlessly convoluted prose, when you get to the nuts and bolts it's a hugely immersive experience.

You have the option of setting the story in the 20s or present day. You're also encouraged to send parcels, photos and journals as props in order to create an authentic atmosphere. Another aspect that attracted me to the game was that it's possible to play it solo. You can create a journal and use dice and tables as well as logical questions in order to progress the story.

A really interesting part of the game is that it's part LARP. The author encourages you to go out and experience things instead of just sitting and writing whatever comes to your head. If you want to go and explore a dark ruin, actually go and do it - experience it. This will allow for a much better account in your writing - or so it's claimed.

I really want to get a game of De Profundis going. I've signed up to the official Yahoo Group, but it doesn't look like there's a whole lot of activity on there. I have posted a scenario idea to see if there are any takers, but I figure I'll open it up to you guys too, so let me know if you fancy playing and we can sort something out. Here it is:

The Horror in the Trenches

Convention: Weird Fiction/ Historical

Time and Place: Europe 1918 and 1920-1921

Plot: The Great War seems like a horrific nightmare for a group of ex-soldiers who fought in it, but the horror is only just rising to the surface. One member of the group receives a letter and a journal from the wife of his friend Jonathan Cook, a friend who served in the same platoon and has suddenly died. While the wife does not know the significance of Jonathan's journal, he had always told her that if something happened to it, he was to send it on to his friend. 

The journal contains odd entries regarding the war, especially in 1918 during the battle of Amiens. Jonathan makes suggestions that high ranking officers were up to something and he had recorded evidence of it in his journal - particularly of the strange markings he found around the trenches and the blasphemous artefacts he came across after much prying. 

The game will seek to uncover what exactly Jonathan found in the trenches and how he came to die so suddenly at the age of 28. His journal from 1918 will be referenced in letters by his friend, who will seek help from the men he served with in the war. Preferably the ex-soldiers will consist of a journalist and academic researchers - but occupations can be fairly loose. 

I wouldn't mind taking on the mantle of the friend who receives the journal from Jonathan. Just let me know if you're interested because I'm looking to get this kicked off soon. 

Thursday 27 October 2011

The Whisperer in Darkness at Leeds International Film Festival {Lovecraft}

It's coming up to that time of year again when my home-town becomes a buzzing hive of celluloid activity with the Leeds International Film Festival. 

In 2006 the HP Lovecraft Historical Society screened their debut feature film The Call of Cthulhu and this time they're back with their 'talkie' adaptation of The Whisperer in Darkness, which will be screening in the Hyde Park Picture House on 14th November. I'm totally hauling my arse over there.

Check out the trailer.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Here, have some random horrors {T&T}

Shrieking Zombie
MR 26
Special: 1/1
Abilities: Cry from the Crypt - If the Shrieking Zombie wins combat the targets must make a L2-SR on LK or take 1d6 INT damage.
Stats: ST 14, INT 2, CHA 1, DEX 5, WIZ 9, SPD 4, CON 26
Treasure:  1d6 gold pieces

Shadow Vampire
MR 38
Special: 1/1
Abilities: Blood Drain - If the Shadow Vampire wins combat, the targets must make a L3-SR on ST or have their ST and CON reduced by 1d6.
Stats: ST 21, INT 16, CHA 17, DEX 11, WIZ 10, SPD 9, CON 38
Treasure: 3d6 gold pieces

Hulking Ghoul
MR 45
Special: 2/1
Abilities: Head Crusher - If the Hulking Ghoul wins combat, the targets must make a L4-SR on ST or take 2d6 CON damage and reduce their combat adds by half next round.
Stats: ST 32, INT 8, CHA 4, DEX 16, WIZ 7, SPD 15, CON 45
Treasure: 4d6 gold pieces, or 1d6 gems worth 10gp each

Sunday 23 October 2011

Let's Play: House of Hell {Fighting Fantasy}

It's almost Halloween and to celebrate this most chilling of days all week I'm going to be writing about spooky stuff. So let's kick off Halloween Week on Trollish Delver with House of Hell.

Steve Jackson released House of Hell in 1984 as the first modern horror addition to the Fighting Fantasy series. Rather than starting out as a semi-proficient warrior with weapons and armour, your character is a regular schmoe with nothing. Also, you have to avoid being frightened to death by trying not to rack up a fear score as high as your fear attribute. It's sort of a sanity mechanic similar to The Call of Cthulhu but much simpler.

At the start of the book you're driving through torrential rain while pondering whether the sinister old man who gave you directions actually told you the right way to go. Suddenly a figure appears in the road and you veer the car into a ditch, Fearing you just gave someone the old Audi smackdown, you rush out to find there's no body. However, you remember the face of the figure - the face of the old man who gave you directions. What's even more of a buggeration is that your car won't start. You see a bedroom light flick on in and old house and decide to go there to get help. Good move.

So let's roll up my character:

Joshua Delaney
Skill: 8
Stamina: 19
Luck:  12
Fear: 7

Ah crap. I rolled a 1 for fear, making this guy a complete chicken. Good job he's lucky though.

Ok, so I make my way to the door. I'm pretty concerned about waking anyone up since it's 5 minutes to midnight and I have the option of rapping on the door, ringing a bell or checking out the light at the left side of the house. The bell will probably wake everyone up and I don't really want to be peeking into someone's room, so I'll go for the rapping.

Some gaunt dude in old-timey attire answers. I ask if I can go in and he obliges, saying that his master has been expecting me. Creepy. Maybe he saw me crash into the ditch. I hope they have pop-tarts in there. While Jeeves is off to get his master, I decide to check out some interesting paintings on the wall. Ah, great - their eyes move. He's looking at a door as if he wants me to open in. Um, no thanks mate - I'll just stay put for the time being.

After a while, the master, Lord Kelnor comes downstairs and introduces himself. He's rocking the High Hefner look so I hope there are some playmates around. Maybe they can warm me up, nudge nudge, wink wink. He says he'll help me and sends Franklins, the butler, to get the cook to make me some grub. He then comes back with a brandy each. I decide not to drink it because, y'know, I could be driving later, but Kelnor doesn't seem happy about how nervous I seem. He smiles at me in an eerie way and BOOM, that's 1 fear point on my tally.

FEAR COUNT: 1 - Unnerved

Funny, I thought that PAINTINGS WHOSE EYES MOVED would scare me more than a smirk, but hey - I'm a chicken. I'm taken into a luxurious dining room and offered either red or white wine. Red is always blood, so let's go for white. Brandy and wine within like 5 minutes of each other? I bet in half an hour we'll be doing jager shots. My wine arrives, I drink it...and I'm out cold. Yup, the bastard drugged my wine with asprin.

I wake up in an empty room, bound at my hands and feet. Dammit, I've seen Hostel and I know what comes next. I guess I'm not going to see any playmates after all. I decide to break a window and use the shards to cut my bonds. After a positive Luck test I manage to cut myself free.

LUCK  - 11

Fortunately the door's open and I head out onto the landing. Here's where I get annoyed, because I'm faced with a 'left or right' situation. I hate these because my choice is entirely random. I grumble and go left along the landing where there are 2 doors - one with the name Balthus. Wait - wasn't Bathus an artist who essentially painted porn? I guess it's someone's room and I don't fancy creeping into it. He might be an axe murderer, or worse: a politician. I go for the unmarked door which opens into a hall that ends in a window. There's another door here that reads Diabolus. Well, 'Diabolus in Musica' was a pretty poor Slayer album, so I'll give that door a miss. Also Balthus Dire from Citadel of Chaos wasn't exactly a nice chap. However, that window may be a way of escape! Ah crap, it's heavily barred - but what's this? A message in condensation reading "Mordana in Abaddon". That could be useful  apparently - so I must remember to turn to paragraph 88 when the time comes. of course, Abaddon means 'place of destruction', so maybe I have to find Mordana in a place of destruction. Fun.

I leave the hall and go downstairs. I get the choice of left door, right door or front door. I'm going to try front door. I open it and AH CHRIST! There's a bloody goat man with blood dripping from his mouth here.

FEAR COUNT 4 - Cacking my pants

I slam the door and decide to try another one. I choose left and enter a drawing room where I get to choose between exploring the room, leaving through another door or getting wasted on brandy. I decide to look at the ornaments and AHA! a dagger that gives me a +2 to SKILL rolls.

EQUIPMENT - a groovy dagger

I leave the room and enter a study. There's a piece of paper on the desk with writing appearing on it "Find Shekou". Scary stuff.

FEAR COUNT: 5 - laughing madly

I decide to look over the books to see if there's anything that might be able to help me. Oooh, a book aobut hypnotism - sweet. Except the cover has some weird eye on it and...oh great, I'm hearing agonising screams and seeing hideous things in my mind.

FEAR COUNT: 7 - Rip my own eyes out

Well that's it, I've been frightened to death. I didn't spend a long time in the house and didn't get to fight anything. Damn my rubbish FEAR result. Anyway, that was House of Hell - a spooky adventure that tries its best to get you drunk.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Why Dungeons and Dragons was the BEST movie ever {Movies}

In 2000, a film emerged that would change the movie landscape forever. The film was so beyond its time, so well-acted and had such an intricate plot, I'm quite comfortable in calling it the greatest film of all time. What is this monumental celluloid achievement?

Dungeons and Dragons, my friends.

I know what you're thinking: Scott, you're on acid. Maybe, maybe not. However I'm here to defend this masterpiece to the death. So let's get started.

The main protagonist is Ridley Freeborn, played by Justin Whalin, well known for popular movie Serial Mom. He is a thief and along with his best friend Snails, decide to break into the magic school to steal whatever they can get their hands on. Right off the bat we get a likeable sidekick in the form of Snails, whose charm shines through the entire movie. There they meet a beautiful librarian mage called Marina and get into a heated but comical exchange. The dialogue is as sharp as any Kevin Smith film and it just goes to show that fantasy can be oscar material. Of course, the three must make a quick escape when Damodar,  the henchman
of main antagonist Profian, played by Jeremy Irons, comes in and tries to get a wizard to tell him where a map with the location of a magic artefact is. The artefact in question is a red rod that can control red dragons - which is an interesting and well thought out plot device.

Irons plays a subtle and intelligent villain

Irons is an incredible villain and plays Profian with subtlety and panache. He can portray an emotion with the tiniest facial expression and his annunciation is impeccable. Bruce Payne as Damodar is amazing too, with his intimidating demeanour. Some people were confused by his blue lipstick, but it's obviously supposed to represent coldness.

Ridley and Marina get sucked into the magical map and when they emerge they realise they must work together to find the Eye of the Dragon, a ruby that opens the tomb where the red sceptre is kept. The special effects are stunning, especially when the two are being sucked into the map. Ridley has to then navigate a maze in a den of thieves, which is full of traditional D&D traps.

"A special effects extravaganza"

Marina is captured by Damodar and tortured in a grotesque and gritty scene. Ridley and Snails meet an elf called Norda who is loyal to the good Empress Savina (Thora Birch). Thora makes a stunning performance and at one point she made me shed a tear.

A harrowing interrogation scene
Then comes an intense scene where Ridley and Snails break Marina out of her prison. SPOILER ALERT: Snails is callously murdered by Damodar in one of the most emotionally intense death scenes I have seen in any film. I never cry at films but by now I was bawling my eyes out, curled up on the floor and reaching towards the TV in desperation. Snails was gone and I couldn't take it.

I still weep to this day
Ridley and Marina fall in love in a heart warming scene before finding the red sceptre but having it stolen by Damodar. They chase him to the Empress's castle where Profion uses the sceptre to summon an army of dragons to do his bidding. What follows is perhaps the best battle in any film, where dragons fly around the skyscape and Ridley and Profion battle in the castle. My heart was pounding so hard and I was phyiscally rooting to Ridley to take Profion down. Eventually SPOILER ALERT a gold dragon eats Profion and the world becomes peaceful once more.

Memorable characters
I won't give away the ending, but it does leave it open to my favourite character, Snails, to stay alive. I really hope they make another movie where Snails is the main character. He may be the best actor of our generation.

In summary, Dungeons and Dragons was a triumph of film-making and belongs in the same category as classic such as Casablanca and The Godfather. Incredible acting, special effects and script. You MUST see this film.

3 common misconceptions about RPG gamers {Community}

There are few geekier past-times than getting together with some buddies and imagining you're a face-crushing barbarian called Konanz. But the hobby has always had negative connotations in the mainstream, although it's becoming a little easier to be a nerd nowadays. At least we're no longer called devil-worshippers (I worship the great Cthulhu) by a hefty number of nitwits. Misconceptions are still rife though and I want to dive face-first into them.

1. Gamers have no social life

This one is probably the most common and possibly the most absurd. Think of more mainstream hobbies such as crafts and scrapbooking. There are so many hobbies that are solitary but aren't picked on the same way gaming is. Roleplaying games are social games. You get together with a group of friends and spend a good 3-6 hours talking to each other. In fact, RPGs are a great tool to build social skills for the more socially awkward. Besides, we have huge meetings with hundreds and hundreds of like-minded individuals called conventions. Try telling me that's not social.

2. Gamers can't get women/men

This one is ridiculous. I don't know of a single roleplayer who isn't currently in a relationship or hasn't had a bunch in the past. In fact, most gamers who add me to Google Plus are married. This misconception is repeated time and again in TV and film - somehow we can't cope around the opposite (or same) sex and all we can talk about is our level 20 elven druid. Also the typical representation of a geek is usually fat and ugly, and while I don't think of myself as handsome, I definitely wouldn't call myself ugly and I'm certainly not fat.

3. Gaming is their life

How many times have you seen a TV show or film where the token geek is wearing a cape (like all GMs, of course) and relates everything back to Dungeons and Dragons? Yeah, pretty much all the time. Kids, this just doesn't happen. Like all hobbies, we take part in our spare time. Sure, gaming is more absorbing than many other past times - hence why so may of us write about it and get involved more professionally, but we won't just randomly bring it up in conversation.

I think in the past few years us self-certified geeks have gained a little bit more respect, mostly due to mainstream shows like The Big Bang Theory and films like Role Models, which, although they have stereotypes, they also show that being a gamer is pretty cool.

Monday 17 October 2011

3 ways to make T&T combat more awesome {T&T}

I've always thought that if you play Tunnels and Trolls combat by just rolling two lots of dice and finding the difference, you're doing it wrong.

So here are some tips to make your fights that bit more entertaining and challenging.

Get creative with saving rolls

Much of the time delvers will be against the odds when it comes to fights. If they were to do a straight fight, that is to say they roll both lots of dice and find the difference, they will eventually be whittled down to corpses - and that's no fun. Saving rolls during combat allow for creativity and to gain an advantage over opponents. The hobb warrior could open his purse and throw gold on the ground to distract a goblin or a particularly dexterous elf could perform a spinning kick to the urook's face to try and stun him. The GM sets a level for the saving roll, usually the level of the enemy or the MR divided by 10, or whatever they want to use. The GM can then decide what advantage the delver gains. If the enemy is knocked to the ground then perhaps they aren't able to contribute any of their dice or adds for 1d3 rounds. Disarming could halve the adds of the monster.
However, to avoid the temptation for the players to keep repeating the same move to disarm or floor an enemy, increase the saving roll by one level. This simulates the fact that the enemy is learning the players' tactics and it means they will find other ways to use their saving rolls.

Allow players to use set-pieces to their advantage

It can be difficult for players to continuously come up with new ideas for saving rolls, so give them a hand by creating interactive environments. Big, sprawling scenes shouldn't just be reserved for 4th edition D&D - they can work a treat in T&T too. Ropes, torches, loose ornaments and magical artefacts all come together to create a veritable playground for players during fights. They could cut down a curtain that lands on the enemy's head, rendering them blind for a turn, or they could torch the oil on the floor and push a creature into it. Put lots of stuff that could be used on their own or in conjunction with each other. I guarantee this will spice up your fights and even the odds.

Add a secondary objective

I mentioned this in my post on creating better 4th edition encounters, but it bears mentioning here. A fight is all well and good, but adding an objective other than killing the monsters can create tense and exciting battles. Perhaps the princess is gradually being lowered into a magma pit and the players have 5 turns to release her, or the demon is using a staff that created dimensional gates that let more demons into the battlefield, so the players must destroy the staff to close the portals. When the stakes are upped then the players will have a better time.

Why nerf the specialist ranger? {T&T}

I love the idea of specialist types like the badass combat mage and the even more badass paragon. However I've always found the ranger to be too powerful, with its ability to roll a first level saving roll no matter how far away the target is. 

This means that she can basically hang back and reign hell on all and sundry while everyone else is fighting for their lives in the fray. It removes the challenge faced by missile-users, essentially making the ranger a constant hitter.

I propose that specialists rangers keep their awesomeness but in a fairer way. Instead of everything being a level 1 SR, the ranger gets to roll one level lower than the specified roll. So if she is supposed to roll a level 3 SR, she instead rolls a level 2. Easy. It means there's still a challenge but also the ranger is far superior in ranged combat than anyone else.

Elder Tunnels Halloween 2011 is out! {T&T}

It's that time of year again when the ghouls come out to play. Peryton's new Elder Tunnels Halloween edition is packed to the brim with awesomeness, including my very own Evil Dead parody.

This edition is the biggest one yet and you can go buy it at DrivethruRPG for a bargain price!

The book contains the following:

  • Bats in the Belfry, a solo adventure by David R. Crowell
  • Cabin in the Woods IV: The Stabbening, a GM adventure by Scott Malthouse
  • Wallas's Tree, flash fiction and a monster by Katje Romanov
  • The Persistent Drifter, a BEAN! solo by Jeff Freels
  • Dead on the Run, a GM adventure by Mike Larsen
  • The Wendigo, a monster by Tom K. Loney
  • Unhallowed Ground, a short story by Neil Riebe
  • Woodsman, Don't Spare that Tree, a GM adventure by Ken St. Andre

Sunday 16 October 2011

Alternate rules for Talents {T&T}

Talents are a great little mechanic in 7.x Tunnels and Trolls that allow for interesting skills and roleplaying scenarios. However, with the delver gaining one automatically every level there is a chance that the new talent is either at odds with the character or it seems illogical to have it. An illiterate dwarf warrior probably wouldn't suit a talent in 'eloquent social engagement' and it would make no sense for a 'lucky gambler' talent to be gained by hobb ranger who keeps fumbling on luck elsewhere. 

An alternative to automatically gaining a new talent each level is that the GM weaves it into a quest as part of the character development. Does the combat mage want to learn the history of Khosht? Make provision within the campaign for her to go and spend some time studying it. Perhaps have them find a book about Khosht in a dungeon.

This method makes gaining talents more logical and more involving for the players.

Friday 14 October 2011

A Guide to Uruks {T&T}

No doubt Ken St Andre had in mind Tolkien's Uruk-Hai when he came up with the Uruk race. Having similar features and origin, the Uruks (sometimes referred to as Urooks) are essentially the Orcs of Trollworld. They are ugly, tough and live in small tribes, usually hidden away in mountain ranges.

It's true that the Uruks have probably had the biggest impact on Trollworld, even more so that the elf wizard Khazan. They were created by an elven wizard known as Loopo the Mad Mage, who bred his new race from magically mutated elves. This was during the world-spanning Wizard Wars, which saw hundreds of powerful 'God Wizards' battle it out for supremacy. Loopo took his army of Uruks and marched against the other wizards  and spread the creatures throughout Trollworld.

Not much is known about Loopo. It is said that his birth name was Loo-polierol-Loo, which is a name that uses typical elven naming conventions. He was eventually banished from Trollworld by the mighty elven wizard Nin-durjiel-Nin at the battle of T'Shanshinarr. The Uruk forces were decimated and from then became little more than wandering tribes with no power to unite them like Loopo once did.

While Loopo was still around, Zweetz, the alien-bird serpent wizard, kidnapped thousands of Uruks and took them to a desert island where he shaped them for a millennia into a new race: the Cyurks.

Many thousands of years after the Uruks became nomads, there was a sudden explosion in their population and tribes, led by powerful Uruk shamans, began to raid the human lands. This became a time of great fear for humans as attacks from tribes were frequent and devastating. One of the worst atrocities came from the razing of the city of Herome by Uruk and Ogre allies. Nine-tenths of the population was murdered and the rest were saved by the dwarves, who took them into their citadel - Thrindol.

After many more attacks, including one on a newly rebuild Herome, the 'good kindred' of dwarves, elves and humans decide to form an alliance to take down the Uruk threat once and for all. Led by the wizard prodigy Khazan, the Uruk Wars begin, lasting 62 years.

The Uruks and their monster allies are eventually defeated by Khazan's forces and driven underground, where most of them currently live.

Uruk/Urook characters have the following stats: STx1.25, CONx1.25, DEXx1, INTx0.75, LKx0.75, CHAx1, WIZx1, HTx1, WTx1.25

As monsters, they have the following ratings:

Uruk Lvl 1: MR 40 (5d6+20)
Uruk Lvl 2: MR 60 (7d6+30)
Uruk Lvl 3: MR 80 (9d6+40)
Uruk Lvl 4: MR 100 (11d6+50)

Warriors generally carry a small shield and a crude weapon such as a scimitar or a spear. At low level armour will be negligible, but more powerful Uruk wear scale or ring-jointed plate. Shamans will generally be unarmoured at all levels, but are able to use spells at their level or below. Because of the brutal nature of the race, shamans are more likely to use combat spells such as Blasting Power and Freeze Please.

Uruks typically name their tribes after vicious animals, such as the Black Wolf and Frost-Bear. Due to their history with the good kindred, the Uruk do not take kindly to mainly humans, dwarves and elves, but some have integrated into society and can be particularly found in more 'liberal' cities like Khazan, whose current ruler is the part Elf, part Uruk Death Goddess.

Monday 10 October 2011

Why Tunnels & Trolls would make a great wargame {T&T}

Recently I re-read A Fragmentary History of Trollworld, a short tome that outlines this history of T&T's default campaign setting. 

While T&T is often looked at as a comedy game, it actually has a rich and rather serious back story, full of notable heroes, villains and epic wars. From the massive Wizard Wars spanning thousands of years, through the Uruk Wars where monsters rise against 'good' kindred, and the siege of Khazan; there's loads to go on, which leads me to think that T&T would make a great basis for a wargame.

The rules are loose enough that they could possibly be incorporated into the wargame. Each unit could have its own Unit Rating, similar to a Monster Rating, which could derive its abilities. However, it would probably be best to create entirely new, but simple, rules for this new type of game. In fact, using a system like Hordes of Things or the like could be just the trick. For smaller skirmishes Songs of Blades and Heroes would be a great ruleset.

Here are just some of the ideas I've had for scenarios:

The Elven-Trollish Wars - The Attack on Kharg

In ancient times, the elves and trolls raged a fierce war with one another. The war lasted for thousands of years, eventually culminating in the elven attack on the trollish city of Kharg. This could either be a massive game where the elves must breach the city walls and capture the capital building while the trolls try to stop them.

The Dwarven-Elven Wars 

In A Fragmentary History it is said that the elves and dwarves found in small skirmishes rather than huge battles. You could do a million things with this, including having the dwarves' objective be to capture an elfin emissary or get an elf mage into the right position to cause an earthquake to raze a dwarven stronghold.

The Monster Wars - The Jungle of the Naga Realm

The great wizard Khazan united all good kindred in a huge war against monster-kind. Part of this war consisted of a crusade into the jungle realms of the Naga snake people. In the history, the attackers are overwhelmed by Naga magic and almost completely eradicated, but this scenario could easily be balanced for a more fair fight.

There are plenty of other notable battles and skirmishes in Trollworld's history and I think it would be a waste if somebody didn't play some of them out as a wargame.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Dammit! {T&T}

I've just been reading Ken St. Andre's latest blog post about T&T Dwarves and this part made me kick myself: "Seeing a Medusa does not turn a Dwarf to stone."

Buggar! If only I knew that when I was running through Halls of the Gorgon. I'm assuming Ken's 'Medusas' and Holmes's 'Gorgons'are the same thing.

The quest sandwich {Campaigns}

From reading various bits and pieces on the internet, I can see that different people go about structuring their D&D campaigns in a variety of ways. 

Some will go for a more 'adventure of the week' approach where the PCs work their way through individual scenarios that are loosely tied together. Others will have one massive arc spanning from level 1 to 30. There are even those brave few who run sandbox campaigns where the PCs are free to roam and find their own adventures.

Then again, I'm sure others do exactly what I do: the quest sandwich. From the outset I established a few enemies who were tied to an even bigger bad with some world-conquering scheme. Seventeen levels in and the PCs are still following the same arc - but that isn't to say I don't throw the 'adventure of the week' in too.

Essentially, the quest sandwich model is where you have a large over-arching quest (i.e. to stop an evil person from waging war on the world), smaller important quests that are tied to this one (i.e. getting favour from border kings to send their troops against the big bad), and then even smaller quests that serve as an 'adventure of the week' that aren't necessarily tied to the main quest (i.e. to gain favour, the king asks the. PCs to rid local caves of a rogue sorcerer). Of course, when we've zoomed into this tertiary quest, we can assign secondary quests, such as having to bring the sorcerer's stolen magic books back to the university.

I find this interwoven quest method to be more interesting than having a loosely tied adventure of the week, as it offers lots of fuel for further adventures. The DM is able to spark off every one of those tiers, right down to the secondary quests, to give the PCs something more to do.

Anyway, I thought I'd share my campaign model with you and I'd be interested to hear how you guys run a campaign.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Micro-solo 2: The Mine of the Wretch King {T&T}

Welcome to the second Trollish Delver micro-solo: The Mine of the Wretch King. Since you'll be flung straight into the adventure, take sometime before to spend some gold and stock up using the equipment tables in the rulebook (whichever you may be using). Enjoy!

The Mine of the Wretch King


You are listening intently to the conversation two dwarves are having next to you in the pub.
"Did you hear about Folli? He went into that damned mine looking for Heglock's gold and never came 
back. What a fool!" The other rolls his eyes and glugs his mead. 
"Not the smartest, that Folli," he wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, "But I don't blame
him. Heglock's Mine is said to be filled with riches."
The thought of all this potential money interests you, so you proceed to ask them there whereabouts
of the mine. They reluctantly tell you after pestering them and before long you're on your way. 
When you reach the mouth of the mine you see there are two tunnels, both very dark. Go down the left tunnel (go to 6)
or go down the right tunnel (go to 8)


You enter a small cavern. The decomposing body of a white-bearded dwarf lies here. It looks
like all valuables have been taken from him except a jewelled dagger that he grasps in his hand.
Do you take the dagger? (go to 7) or keep going? (go to 5)


You quickly duck behind a large rock and watch as three little grey creatures walk by, each 
carrying crude weapons and wearing ripped cloth armour. When they are out of sight, you
emerge from your hiding place and continue into the mine (go to 2).


The cart contains a badly beaten helmet (4 hits). Go to 2.


After meandering through a complex labyrinth of tunnels, you reach the main mine. It's a massive
cavern consisting of multiple levels and large chasms. At the far end of the cavern a large 
three-eyed green creature sits on a stone throne. It has a mane like that of a lion and the 
tongue of a snake, which darts in an out. You recognise it as a Dredgeclaw - a monster
that's frequently referenced in bedtime stories. The Dredgeclaw is surrounded by a handful of
Mine Wretches, who clearly worship the creature. Next to the throne is a pile of glittering gold.
You quietly move closer to the gold, but soon you're spotted by one of the Wretches, who cries
out and draws its blade. You're now surrounded by four of the creatures and must fight your way
out. They each have MR7. Once you have defeated them, go to 10.


If you don't have a light source then make a L1SR on LUCK. If you fail, you trip and smash your face
on a rock. Take 2 CON damage and continue. 
After walking for some time, you start hearing scrabbling sounds up ahead. Suddenly you're
hearing voices and they're coming your way! Do you hide behind a rock? (go to 3), stand your ground?
(go to 9) or flee to the entrance? (go to 1) 


Roll a L2SR on INT. If you succeed, you realise that the dagger has been placed there as a marker
to indicate the corpse is infested with a Shreiking Parasite, so you avoid it and keep going
(go to 5). If you fail, as soon as you remove the dagger you hear a shrill cry coming from
within the corpse. Suddenly, a worm shoots out of the torse and tears at your flesh. Take 1d6 CON
damage. You now carry the Minerot disease, which saps 1d6 strength at the start of every paragraph
from now. However, you also have a damaged jewelled dagger (2+3) worth 30gp. If you're still alive 
you continue onwards (go to 5)  


If you don't have a light source then make a L1SR on LUCK. If you fail, you trip and smash your face
on a rock. Take 2 CON damage and continue. You walk down further into the musty belly of the mine
and arrive in a wide, cavernous room. You see a badly damaged mine cart on its side and an exit 
to the north. Do you check the cart? (go to 4) or continue north into the mine? (go to 2).


Three squat creatures with pinprick red eyes scuttle around the corner into plain view. They have
grey, bumpy skin and long, beak-like noses. They wear crude cloth armour and carry badly-crafted
swords and maces. The creatures spot you and with a cry they charge. You must face three
Mine Wretches, which have MR7 each. If you defeat them, you can take any of the following: 
Crude Blade (2+2), 3gp and a Bone Necklace worth 20gp. 
You continue through the mine (go to 2). 


As the last one falls, the Dredgeclaw, who was watching the whole time, stands up and roars. He
picks up a massive hammer that was leaning against the throne and stomps towards you. 
The monster swings wildly at you. Make a L1SR on DEX to avoid the blow or take 1d6 CON damage
ignoring armour. Now it's time to fight. 

MR 40
Special Damage: 1/1
Special Abilities: Hammer Swing - Every round the player must make a L1SR on DEX or take 1d6 CON

If you win, the mine begins to rumble and shake. It looks like the Dredgeclaw enchanted itself
so that when it dies, its fortune goes with it. You grab a sack that's lying around and shovel as much
gold in as possible (800gp). You also find a Windforge Mace (5+5). You sprint through the crumbling tunnels towards the dim light of the outside world. The mouth of the mine collapses as you dive onto the soft grass outside and breathe a sigh of relief. Your adventure is over, well done. Take 1000AP for your valiant efforts in the mine of the Wretch King. 

Monday 3 October 2011

T&T character type: Starwatcher {T&T}

The universe is a vast and confusing place. There are few in Trollworld who have managed to even start the intellectual voyage into the unknown depths of space, but those who have dared to do so have discovered the ancient secrets of the cosmos. 

Starwatchers are students of the universe who usually spend their whole lives researching the things that are beyond the sky. There are very few Starwatchers, mostly due to the fact that their studies are likely to send them mad when they come upon the power of the cosmos. Those who don't turn into lunatics learn how to wield the power of the stars as wizards use the powers of magic. However, the cosmic power is still created from kremm and therefore follows the same rules.

Prerequisites: 13+ WIZ, 14+ INT

Prime Attributes: WIZ/INT/CHA/LK

Recommended Talents: Star Navigation (INT), Cosmic Knowledge (INT), The Universe is With Me!* (LK)

*Starwatchers are pretty lucky as it seems that the universe is watching out for them.

Special Abilities:

Cosmic Scrying: Once a day the Starwatcher can look to the universe for guidance. The GM can give a clue to help her in some way.