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Monday, May 31, 2010

Bad fantasy novel covers

There are some real winners here. I found this site on Dragonsfoot. It makes me think about some of the fantasy books I like, and just how bad some of the covers are. You can rate each cover, as well.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Cursed Chateau - review

The Cursed Chateau is an adventure by James Maliszewski of Grognardia designed for use with any old school rpg. The adventure is well laid out, with no stats until the appendix, which includes a number of new monsters. This adventure is perfect for DMs wanting to run a stand-alone haunted house scenario for a group of adventures of level 4-6. It is specifically designed to fit into any "standard" D&D game with minimal fuss. It should be a lot of fun, and I would happily run it as written. There area  fairly high amount of Save or Die situations, though, and DMs may want to adjust this (or maybe not). Highly recommended!

The ghost is pretty cool. I love the table for for Jordain's Fun. It gives lots of little scares without actively endangering the PCs. I think the Wandering Monster Table probably should mention that certain creatures should be kept track of when killed, since they won't then be in their associated lair, but an experienced DM will figure this out pretty quickly.

I will personally add fly to the list of unusable spells, or the party will be able to escape fairly easily. The fountain, and all the associated piping and the underground lake and it's denizens were all great. The portraits in the parlor were neat, and had a nice haunted house vibe. The yellow mold privy is just mean. ;)

I am not completely sold on the secret room, since I can easily see a group of players not finding it (or dying when they open the door), in which case they would miss out on one of the better encounters (the demon adds a great roleplaying opportunity).

The invisible stalker protecting the dead mage is a cool twist on a standard monster. The ogre is fun. The ghouls and ghasts room is just ok, but I am really happy to see ghasts in an adventure. They are a great monster.

As mentioned, the frog people are neat, though I don't see too many players exploring their city. Cool idea, though. Same goes with the Red Planet. I like how this chateau can lead to some major new campaigns, if desired.

 Art-wise, I love the cover. One of the best among products for Old School gaming. The interior art is pretty good, as well, though it serves more to break up text than to directly represent the text around it, in most cases.

The included monsters are all pretty good (I especially like the Iron Maiden and theGhast). I would have preferred if the AC had been listed like S&W does, but I think I just need to subtract from 19 to get the correct value (or is this an AC 10 = unarmored version, a la 1e?).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My one wish about S&W that there would be a way to have the players want to run around in light armor, instead of the heaviest plate they can find. Yes, I know there are creative ways I can do this (excess heat, armor prices, etc), but they feel forced. And my friends would have immediately caught on to what I was doing and would get grumpy.

With the rules as written, it's really hard to get someone to have a "hoplite" style character with helm, shield, and spear, and maybe leg greaves. It's too bad. But I guess that's what Runequest is for. :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Published adventures, and how I use them

I very rarely use a published adventure as written. Too many times, my players will do something completely off the wall, or just ignore something that would cause the adventure to collapse before it even gets started. I've made a little list of things that I do that makes even stuff published for completely different systems usable.

1. Maps. These are always useful. I have a collection of photocopied maps in a binder that I can whip out at a moments notice.
2. NPC's. Also always usable. It's a bonus if they're written in the system I'm using.
3. Art. That cool picture of a vampire will be used somewhere.
4. General plot lines. These can provide some great inspiration, even if the particulars in the adventure wouldn't suit.
5. Little details. The room with a neat description and associated monster might get dropped into a completely different scenario, just because I like it. I've done this with a couple adventures that I've literally not used for anything else. It's kind of my "Well, at least I got this one little room out of the book" feeling.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mixing settings together

I'm sure I'm not the only person who mixes stuff from different settings together. I have a lot of fun doing so. And it lets me use some really cool stuff that other people have thought of.

Things I add to Forgotten Realms:
1. Shifters from Eberron. I really like this race. I wish they weren't so screwed over with feats. I really need to do a conversion of them for S&W.
2. Broo from Glorantha. Perfect bad guys. If you aren't  familiar with them, do a google search and read a couple articles, especially those with a focus on their god, Thed.
3. The Scarlet Brotherhood. Cool monk bad guys, who have a secret base in Chult in my world.
4. The City State of the Invincible Overlord, located in either the Border Kingdoms or the Western Heartlands, depending on convenience.
5. Various Planescape products. For when players want to explore extra dimensions.
6. Ravenloft monsters. The three monster books are just full of cool, creepy stuff.
7. The Ancients. An elven street gang from Shadowrun that I use in Waterdeep (minus motorcycles).
8. Adventures and maps. Just a grab bag of stuff here that I plop down whenever convenient. Which is kinda what these types of products are for, anyways.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Vile Worm of the Eldritch Oak

This is just a short review of the adventure included in the S&W WhiteBox. The adventure is short, but looks to be fun. It introduces two new monsters, and two new magic items. It can be inserted into any campaign with a forest, and is a good way to get the adventurers a good reputation with the local peasantry. I would happily spring this on an adventuring party.


The "priest" and his pets are pretty cool, though I think elves should get a chance to spot the lynx. The worm is pretty cool. It's reproduction process is creepy, and if the characters go to it's lair, it will end up being like a fantasy version of Aliens, which is a good thing. I am not so sure about the eldritch oak. It is very atmospheric, but could easily kill the party if they make a bad saving throw. As for the magic items, I think the axe is ok, but I love the ring.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A plethora of clones and sorta-clones

While I'm glad the old school scene is doing well, I believe we have too many choices nowadays, at least in game systems. I'd be a lot happier if even one or two publishers were making settings or adventures, instead of yet another variant of 0e/1e/3e combo system. I'm sure many will disagree, but that's my opinion.

I'd much rather have another Carcosa than another ruleset. Carcosa is a great setting, and includes just the rules pertinent to running it, instead of remaking the wheel.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

WotC Monster Slayers

I saw this on Bat in the Attic. WotC has made a game for smaller kids to play D&D called Monster Hunters. It's available as a free pdf download. I've looked through it, and it's pretty cool. I'm glad they are reaching out to kids with their games. I think it's also pretty evident that many gamers are old enough to be parents these days. I wonder how many teenagers are still playing, or have the demographics shifted largely to the twenty-something crowd?

I know many of the old school gamers are old enough to be parents, and more than a few are grandparents nowadays. If I'd gotten married when I was 20, I'd have an 18 year old kid now. It's kind of scary ;).