Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Irresponsible acquisitions!

This is going to be a short post.  I wanted to mention that I've picked up a few DCC adventures since Journey to the Center of Aereth.  There's been a lot of intriguing materials lately, much of it from DCC publishers Goodman Games.

Let's see what I got...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

DCC session report - Blackrock Brothel #2

When last we left our heroes...

In this session of the Blackrock Brothel campaign, we return to our intrepid adventurers as they have reached the bottom of the wizard Nekros' subterranean sanctum, a bizarre scene: at the bottom of a gaping two-mile deep shaft, reached after two days of marching down an interminable staircase, there lies a lake of acid, inhabited by colossal leeches, spanned by a set of narrow circular bridges.  At the central convergence of these bridges there waits a gigantic mound of guano.  This is the home of a wizard, and clearly, the ways of wizards are not the ways of ordinary men.

For this session, the following players were in attendance:
  • Stan, in charge of Grognard the Dwarf and Courve the Thief
  • Xavier, running with the priest Dar Shasta and Archimedia the Thief
  • Steve W., stepping in for Brendan to manage Sizarius the Wizard, and the mighty warrior Greg
In the real world, our session was delayed by about an hour due to connectivity issues, and the need to bring Steve up to speed.  I was worried that this would leave us without enough time to stab things and generally dampen spirits, but once the action got started, my fears were proven groundless.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sine Nomine and the sandbox

I talk a lot about DCC here, mainly because DCC is what I'm actually running right now.  And I'm running it because it's currently my favorite RPG; I'll probably explain that in another post.  But that doesn't mean it's the only RPG that I enjoy.  In fact, my interests aren't limited to OSR: for instance, now-venerable Over the Edge is my second-favorite RPG.

But OSR is definitely what has my attention these days, and that's what this blog is about.  In this post, I just wanted to say a few words of appreciation for Kevin Crawford's amazing work published by (his one-man operation) Sine Nomine.  I was reminded of this guy when I read through his latest work for Godbound, an adventure called Ten Buried Blades.  By the way, it's excellent.

Sine Nomine has been pumping out utterly fantastic sandbox content for an assortment of settings, always expressed through simple OSR mechanics. These settings are always terrific, and his variations on the OD&D ruleset are always clever adaptations to these settings.  But the real genius of Sine Nomine products is that they provide frameworks for the GM to create his or her own content in these settings.  By frameworks, I mostly mean a ton of well-designed tables chock full of inspiration and plot hooks.

Great stuff!  You may be wondering if I've ever actually run this stuff.  And the answer is: no, because I don't feel ready, yet.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Great DCC resource from Purple Sorcerer

I just discovered the online DCC resources from Purple Sorcerer, and I'm in love. The have generators and dice-rollers galore, but the real star of the show is something called the Crawler's Companion.  This app (web, desktop and mobile versions available) manages to compress all the mechanics and resources of the core rules into a single piece of user-friendly software.

This is an extremely impressive feat.  The amount of reference materials here are amazing...basically, every detail of all the spells in the core rules are available.  When I say this is comprehensive, I'm talking about built-in tools for generating magic swords and demons.  And with all of these reference materials available, Crawler's Companion can roll the dice for you.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Writing a DCC adventure

My previous campaign was using my Empress rules, and I was going for something relatively low-magic, or at least a setting where magic is subtle.  I was going for something a little grittier and low-key, with plenty of intensity but not much flash.  That way, I reasoned, it would be all the more exciting and mysterious when characters encounter the supernatural.

Well, I've largely abandoned that approach, for now, and instead embraced the gonzo ethos of Dungeon Crawl Classics.  That doesn't mean I'll never return to a more low-key approach, but I've come to believe that getting players to engage with that kind of material requires a better GM than I am - at least, at this time. I've taken a step back from trying to create everything from scratch, and taking my cues from something undeniably successful.

That said, I haven't given up entirely on creating my own content.  Towards the end of my run with Empress, I had a number of ideas for an adventure, and I think there were some very strong concepts in there.  Long story short - it didn't quite work, in practice.  But I still think there were some great core ideas that I'm not ready to give up on.

So now I'm trying to take what I've learned from DCC, and incorporate it into a new treatment of this adventure.  I'm going to talk about some of my ideas, here, and in future blog posts, I'll probably release bits and pieces of content.

Be warned: if you're one of my players, there will be a lot of spoilers to be found.  You'll ruin some of the fun if you read these posts, so I'll be sure to keep any such material "below the fold."

With that in mind...

Monday, October 10, 2016

DCC arcane spell: Zeloc's Marvelous Domicile (v2)

It didn't take me long to realize that I needed to smooth out the power curve.  The marginal success results were so marginal so as to be outdone by a guy with a tent, while the maximal success gives you a teleporting invisible super-mansion.  Well, I kept the maximal results, but I improved the consequences of low-end success so as to justify its status as a second level spell of wizards.

No promises that this is the last version.

DCC arcane spell: Zeloc's Marvelous Domicile


I just put this together for my campaign based on a reward that a player requested.  Well, one character wanted a new spell and another wanted a nicer house, so their would-be employer suggested that he teach the wizard how to cast this.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

DCC session report - Blackrock Brothel #1

The basics

This is the first session report from my new Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign, which I have dubbed the Blackrock Brothel campaign.  The concept behind this campaign is pretty simple: first, we play the funnel adventure Hole in the Sky.  Then, any survivors from that decide to continue together and form an adventuring guild. I told you it was simple.

To get things started, one of the players is a member of a distant branch of a long-declined noble house, and that player, out of the blue, inherits an estate in a suburb of Punjar called Blackrock.  This estate was sold by the family a long time ago as fortunes turned sour, and as the surrounding district also declined, the so did the estate.  In one of its most recent incarnations, it was a brothel in Blackrock, so named because it catered to miners in the nearby basalt quarries.

Once these quarries ran dry, so did Blackrock, and now the estate is in a state of a shocking disrepair, fit only for rats.  The surrounding district is home almost exclusively to bands of squatters and stray dogs, both of whom can be occasional hazards.  The brothel-become-guildhouse has three rooms that a human could comfortably live it, and a heavy safe set into a room on the ground floor.  

In the setup, I tell the inheriting player that not three days after his character (Archimedia the Thief) laid claim to the place, the tax collector showed up with two thugs to demands 50 gp.  When his character protested that she had no money and just showed up, the collector said he would be back within the year, looking for twice that.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Review - Dungeon Crawl Classics #91: Journey to the Center of Aereth

When I read about the appearance of this adventure at this year's Gencon, I was very intrigued.  Right off the bat, the bullet points for Journey to the Center of Aereth sound like a checklist for a no-fail Appendix N extravaganza.  Just check out the blurb:

The stories have reached you: A world beneath our own, lit by a brilliant sun and ruled by sages beyond reproach, where magic has replaced the spoken word, the weakest slave is like unto a superman, and the domes gleam with hammered gold.

You’ve spilled enough blood to know better.

Your trek to discover the truth will take you through endless caverns, ancient causeways and along unknown rivers. An expedition worthy of true explorers, Journey to the Center of √Āereth offers characters the adventure of a lifetime – or the means to a quick doom. The Journey awaits!

Did I mention that it's a level four adventure written by Harley Stroh?  I think that last bit is pretty important.  The consensus is that Mr. Stroh's contributions to the latest generation of DCC adventures are brilliant, and the consensus is right on this one.

But what about Journey?  Does it meet these lofty expectations?