Monday 30 September 2019

Delvecast episode 4

I did another episode! What a guy I am. I talk a little more about yesterday's post about the problem with D&D, and give a few shout outs to new games. 

Please call in and leave your message. 

Sunday 29 September 2019

The problem with Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons is a subcultural phenomenon, there's no denying it. With D&D, Gygax and Arneson created an entirely new form of entertainment and little would they comprehend that when they formed those rules that it would become the behemoth it is today. D&D is great - it's the touchstone of the hobby and generally a lot of fun. But there's a problem with it.

Wizards made some incredibly smart decisions with 5e, from larger event-based releases to bringing streaming into the forefront of their marketing. It's worked effectively and as such the game is likely bigger than ever, with approximately 13.7m players worldwide. Target had an exclusive on the Essentials Kit, Rick and Morty and Stranger Things sets exist, tapping into a broader, non-gaming audience. The media is now constantly talking about D&D. But this is the problem. They're talking about D&D - not tabletop roleplaying games. Tabletop roleplaying games aren't getting more popular - D&D is.

Imagine if every videogame were referred to as Super Mario, or every book The Da Vinci Code. It sounds ridiculous, but that's what D&D is right now - shorthand for every single RPG out there. I see questions online about how you'd play a horror game using 5e. You wouldn't - there are plenty of games specifically for horror.

The problem is, this skews people's expectations about what roleplaying games are. This is supported by Twitter discourse, where so many default discussions are about D&D. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of really cool, smart people who are super into D&D. I'm not knocking the players here, just the culture that means it's tougher to build a playerbase for a different game because there's not a Critical Role or a Stephen Colbert or millions of dollars being funnelled into the game. I worry that so many indie creators who are doing exciting, bleeding-edge stuff aren't getting a look in because of the D&D monopoly.

But there could be a silver lining here. D&D, in general, is a gateway drug to the rest of the hobby. It's where I started decades ago. We could see a post-D&D movement where more people begin to explore other options. More people in the hobby is good for the hobby - they just need to peek of our from behind the DM screen and see the vast world beyond.

Saturday 28 September 2019

Throne of Eldraine prerelease report

As I said previously, I decided to get back into Magic: the Gathering (a bit) by attending today's Throne of Eldraine prerelease tournament.

I was under no illusion that after several years of not playing I'd be pretty rusty, but really it's just a fun game to play and the new set is pretty much made specifically for me. One game turned into a good fight as I sacrificed pies, hogs and fruit for my witch to do damage to the opponent. Thematically, this is a really strong set and the art is impeccable. 

Alright, so I ended up winning one, drawing one and losing three (although the last was pure lack of mana). Even so, I met some new people and had a lot of fun. 

I'm not going to get back into Magic full time - it's a money drain and I'm not a fan of modern constructed, which rewards cash, not tactics. Sealed limited is where it's at for me - everyone is pretty much on an even keel. So I'll probably purely attend prereleases in future. 

Friday 27 September 2019

Against the Darkmaster Kickstarter coming October 22nd

Most of us have been waiting a fair while for the reveal of Against the Darkmaster's Kickstarter date and now it's finally here.

The design team on the game, which is a MERP-inspired epic fantasy, appeared on the Grim and Perilous Twitch channel today to talk about the upcoming book, offering some new glimpses.

The team have now set a Kickstarter live date of October 22nd. The team promises some extra treats when the project goes live.

Thursday 26 September 2019

Throne of Eldraine is bringing me back into Magic

How could I resist it? When I saw a few months back that Magic: The Gathering, the greatest money-sink in the universe was releasing a set that mashed up Arthurian legend and fairytales, how could I even possibly NOT buy everything?

I've not played Magic properly for a good few years. I've played some Arena online and some of the apps and games on the old computer machine, which are always fun, but by heck, I'm really smitten. So smitten that I pre-ordered and subsequently devoured The Wildered Quest, the novel that was released prior to the set. Oh, by the way, it's a really good read.

So I'll be going to the prerelease tournament this weekend and getting valiantly rogered by my opponents. Will let you know how that goes. Anyone else playing?

Image: Wizards of the Coast

Delvecast ep 3. Echoes of the Labyrinth

It's been a while since I did a podcast, so I thought it was time to get back on the bandwagon.

This episode I talk a bit about Echoes of the Labyrinth, my new OSR T&T-inspired game.

Listen here:

Also, do leave me an audio message!

Sunday 22 September 2019

Echoes of the Labyrinth out now

There's no rest for the wicked. Today I released Echoes of the Labyrinth, a T&T inspired mini roleplaying game using the rules I first cooked up in Delvers of the Underchasm.

The concept is that in the centre of the world is the Labyrinth, part architecture, part god. The Labyrinth calls out to certain people, known as Yearning Delvers, and enchants them to delve into its depths in the hope they will die and their souls will be devoured by the god.

The mechanics are T&T-like, with pooled combat and cool stunts. Foes are simple to create on the fly.

Download from Drivethrurpg or Itch.

Sunday 15 September 2019

Five tricks and traps for your game

1. Mirror spear: A long mirror is placed on a false wall. Behind the mirror is a spring loaded spear trap, 3 spears (3ft in length), each arranged to hit the average human, dwarf or halfling in the face. A pressure plate at the door of the mirror releases the spring, send the three spears through the back of the mirror and into the viewer. Works best if you write a load of nonsense on the mirror so the victim has to closely inspect it.

2. Poison Statue: A false door is installed with a brick wall behind it. A statue is placed in the centre of the room, its eyes and mouth hollow. Inside the statue is a cannister of paralysing gas. A wire runs from the door, under the floor, up the statue and around a cork top on the cannister. When the door is opened, the cork pops out and gas spills into the room, paralysing all and sundry.

3. False lava: A cute play on the old checkerboard trap. A 50x50 checkerboard forms the floor. Many of the checks are red hot lava, while others appear to be cool stone you could jump on. Not so. As an illusion placed on the room by a crystal chandelier, the spaces that appear to be lava are actually safe, while those that look like stone are boiling lava. Smashing the chandelier breaks the illusion.

4. Magnetic inferno: A trophy is loaded onto a pedestal, with wires running around the room and through the trophy, creating a circuit. The ceiling is metal and electromagnetic. Attached to the ceiling are 100 small metal balls full of oil. Two burning torches on the walls are also magnetised. When the trophy is picked up, the circuit is broken and the balls fall, breaking and spilling oil everywhere. The torches also fall, igniting the oil and the floor of the room. Place two more trophies near the circuit trophy to add some extra peril.

5. Sponge walls: a short corridor has sponge walls. Behind each wall are a series of cauldrons on shelves. When a pressure plate in the corridor is pushed, the wooden legs holding the cauldrons up fall down and the water flows into the sponge walls, causing them to rapidly expand, smothering anyone in the corridor.

Sunday 8 September 2019

The Purple Hashish House

Adventure hooks:
- The vizier is visiting his favourite hashish house and needs guarding
- There are rumours a group of leprechaun thieves works out of the house.
- A frost wand was stolen from a local Wizard who believes the miscreants frequent the house.
- A dwarf thief with a manticore trapped in an opal was seen in the house. The Extreme Guild of Merchants will pay 1000gp for it.
- You're hired by rat people to assassinate the vizier for his crimes against their kind.

1. Entryway: A lounging catfolk (MR14) lazes, playing with a yellow frog called Ereep (MR4 - does 1d6 damage if touched with skin). A silver mechanical bird sits by his feet, picking the sand from his toes. A grouchy bonobo (MR12) wearing an emerald eye patch (30gp) is serving ice cold camel milk for 2sp. Patrons pay at a small counter manned by an over-enthusiastic pink djinn called Tamara (MR40). She can cast 3 spells 3rd level and under.

2. Massage parlor: Three geckomen nomads (MR20) set their poisoned spears on a rack. Two are getting roughly massaged by a talkative pelican woman (MR10). One smokes a long pipe and watches their belongings (10gp, spears, scorpion venom, smoked frogs). A quiet elf called Heloras (MR16) is looking for a stolen dragonfly brooch.

3. Royal den: A smooth-spoken turbaned ostrich visier (MR34) takes deep huffs of a yellow pipe, rapier in his belt. Two overworked fairy handmaids (MR8) cast water spells to keep him cool. A pouch of 30gp sits unattended. A blue cobra (MR26 - spite 1/ extra 3 damage) slithers in. A rotund selfish astrologer inspects a silver dragonfly brooch (300gp).

4. Main den: A pink haze lingers. A suspicious dark hob (MR20) in sparkling robes sits with his two-headed tiger (MR80), telling it old stories in a dead language. An assassin of the Green Cobra disguised as a forgetful old lady (MR60) sips jasmine tea and scans the room cautiously. A chattering blue imp (MR16 - can cast wink wing) scurries around carrying a manticore opal (if smashed, an MR120 manticore emerges), chased by a drunk dwarf thief with one arm. A glass bottle of lilac perfume belonging to the imp sits on a small table (25gp).

5. Backroom: Guarded by a 7ft sarcastic sand golem (MR86). Three robed leprechauns (MR22) are counting blood money at a sandy table. A devious fat rhino woman (MR40) paces the room, complaining about discretion and paying off the city guard. A green concoction sits on the table that increases CHA by 10 for an hour when drank.

6. Secret underground chamber: Three demon rats (MR30) plot to assassinate the visier with a frost wand (three uses, costs 5 WIZ, does 2d6 CON damage and immobilises for 1 minute). They speak the language of the desert. Cases of hashish are stacked against the wall. It smells sweet.

Random encounters. Roll 1d6.

1. A boastful purple djinn (MR36) barrels through the door, challenging anyone to a sprinting contest.
2. An eloquent elephant soldier (MR70) charms a cobra.
3. A noble emerges from the main den, a dagger deep in his gut. He says the words "snake scar" before dying.
4. Two demon belly dancers (MR28) entertain a pale elf Wizard called Lania (MR80). She holds an ever-refilling goblet of wine and eats skewered fire drake.
5. An elderly puppeteer (MR10) has an argument with her sentient llama puppet (MR12) over who will pay the bill.
6. The snake sultan (MR28) walks in with a retinue of four royal guards (MR32). People fawn over him, asking for a slither blessing.