Friday, December 11, 2009

Random Hireling Name Generator

Dungeons and Dragons Random Hireling Name Generator

I've been tinkering with a one page Random Hireling Name Generator to add to my Random Hireling Generator posted previously. Here's a shot at it. Please feel free to make constructive suggestions or share your opinion.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Quick Post: New Module Cover

It's the last week of classes in the fall term - whew!

Now that things are slowing down, I've begun preparations in earnest for the my multi-level dungeon campaign called The Ruins of Mar.

I'm using Dungeon Tiles for the entire project. I've settled on the Upper Ruins. I'm now starting to populate each level. I'll map out the first level of the dungeon later this week.

In the meantime here's a quick redraft of the module cover. This is just for fun.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

After Action Report: The Secret Sewers of Tsathoggua

On Saturday, we continued our Labyrinth Lord game. If you missed the last report, we play LL but with house rules (including mini-lite rules).

We've played two short adventures to work out the kinks before continuing with a larger campaign I have in mind.

The last adventure (a short first level dungeon) resulted in the death of 3 PCs, 1 Hireling, 6 Men-at-Arms, and 1 Henchman. Only three of the initial group of PCs survived and none advanced to second level: Mazzrik the Magician (Hu/Mu), Reiden the Fighter (HU/F), and Elwen of Riverwood (Elf). Yacky the Lacky and his two goblin slaves Yurk and Gak also survived.

To these three we added Sir Bannic of Torm (HU/C) as well as the following zero-level men-at-arms Durg Hillsmith (D/F), Wikelt the Vicious (Hu/F), Ulo Rotgut (Hu/F), Gaxx (Hu/F), Fenx (Hu/F), and Rallth the Thug (Torch-Bearer)

So a robust expedition consisting of 4 PCs, 5 men-at-arms, and 4 torch-bearers/porters.

The new adventure, I titled The Secret Sewers of Tsathoggua, had three parts: The aboveground ruins, the sewers, and the trog caverns. Here's the overview:

A band of troglodytes happened upon an ancient Rytonian shrine of the toad god Tsathoggua. Their shaman studied the ancient writings of the deity and began preaching Tsathoggua’s message of chaos and destruction. The shaman has called all manner of reptiles to defend the sewer.

Hidden at the end of the old long-ruined sewer network, the troglodytes recently defeated a group of adventurers and are confident in their new lair.

Never split, the umm, party...

A nest of Giant Centipedes disturbed

The party considers the descent

Giant Toads attack!

The battle rages!

Don't mess with a Giant Alligator

The adventurers find Lank the Archer near-death (a member of the party butchered by the Troglodtyes)

The group continues down the putrid sewers

A Shrieker and a Pod of Myconids

The battle continues and a Troglodyte guard investigates

Entering the Forgotten Temple of Tsathoggua; Elwen scouts ahead

Well-timed Sleep spells knock out many of the Trogs, the battle ensues

The Trogs kill all the Men-at-Arms!, Reiden dies!, Victory!!!

I'm hopeful that the next campaign report will detail the beginning of our larger campaign, rather than a series of short advantures. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Moral Panic: The Response

If you haven't followed this story here's the low-down.

A small newspaper, the Orangeville Citizen, published an article at the end of October that highlighted a double homicide committed 25 years ago in Orangeville, Ontario, Canada.

In the absence of a motive, Dungeons and Dragons was blamed because the person convicted apparently played the game, among other things.

I read the article and got really pissed off. I vented to my large undergraduate class and told them I was going to write a response. I noted my letter here and received some helpful input. Then off it went to the editor.

Sadly, the editor has made formatting errors including a number of words that require hypenation and weren't. Don't get me started on journalists...

The most important thing is that a voice was heard in opposition to the rhetoric. It was fun to note that someone else also wrote and bashed the article as well.

Click here for the original article.

Click here for my response.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Score!: Genadier Hirelings

I recently found a set of the Grenadier Hirelings for a great price on Ebay - and I'm really excited to put them to use. This particular set has never been used. Very cool.

In the 80s and the 90s we never used hirelings - ever. I'm not really sure why. I suppose that's why I was fascinated with this specific set of miniatures.

Since I've come back to the game, I've read many posts about the use of hirelings and henchmen and think they certainly add fun and flavour to the game.

The other reason why I'm excited is that I've slowly been adding new or new-old miniatures to my collection in anticipation of painting. I'd like to paint these for play, not display purposes.

Given my professional and family schedule I don't anticipate starting until sometime in the new year, but in the meantime I'll get all the supplies and tools together.

My favorite miniatures are definitely the Citadel slotted metal series from the 80s. I picked up a unique set of those recently, but I'll save that discussion for my next post.

Castle Amber: Help Needed

Believe it or not, I'm writing a research paper on Castle Amber and the influence of Clark Ashton Smith on D&D. I'll present the paper at a special session devoted to authors from Weird Tales at the Southwest/Texas Popular Culture Assoication Conference in New Mexico (Feb. 2010). How cool is that?

I was looking through Dungeon Magazine 116 - the issue with the greatest adventures of all time.

Castle Amber by Tom Moldvay is ranked number 15.

However, the author noted that the adventure has inspired TWO sequals. I am aware of Mark of Amber published in 1995 but I have no clue about the second.

Can anyone help me out?


Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Bullywug: An Aesthetic History (1981-2009)

I recently read a post over at Thieves' Cant regarding the representation of D&D bullywugs.

The author wrote, "bullywugs in my campaign are filthy, mucky, swamp loving brutes. More toady than froggy, more croaky than leapy."

I've always loved bullywugs, and that observation brought me to thinking about this post.

Let me state first - to each their own. Everyone has a right to construct their game in a manner and aesthetic that is fun for them.

However, we should note that the aesthetic history of the game suggests something very different from that represented in 4E.

From the outset, bullywugs were small, thin, frogmen. Monsters perfect for low-level adventurers alongside goblins, orcs, etc.

However, somewhere along the way to 4E artists dropped the ball. Instead of our beloved weak-kneed bullywugs, they became thick, muscle-bound toadmen. This evolution (devolution in my opinion) reflects the overall change in the game from playing feeble adventurers in need of hireling meatshields to characters that now begin play as heroes. What fun would it be in the current edition to beat up on poor thin-armed bullywugs? Not much I'm guessing, those of you who play 4E regularly can speak to this better than me.

The really interesting part of the aesthetic history of the bullywug is that, at a glance, one might look at the trainwreck that are 4E bullywugs and blame the latest iteration of the game. I'm not defending 4E, it isn't my bag, but as you will note below, bullywugs actually changed in 2nd Edition and subsequent editions have carried that aesthetic forward.






**Note: This is a moment where you stop and reflect on the above "iconic" image of the bullywug. All bullywugs are held against this standard for me. What an amazing sketch.




As a final note, MegaMiniatures has just released frogmen minis perfect for Old School gaming. Here's a sampling. You can check them out at their Ebay store.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Moral Panic II: Writing a Response: Draft I


Ok, thank you for contributing both to this post and the last.

I've revised and sent off the final draft.

I'll update with the published copy as soo as it is available.

Moral Panic II: Writing a Response - Join In!

I just talked to the editor of the Orangeville Citizen with regard to the article posted here.

He asked me to write a 200 word response to the article.

I'll draft it in the next day or so.

If you have suggestions please post them here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

D&D and the Moral Panic on CBC (1985)

I'm particularly fascinated with the moral panic surrounding D&D in the early to mid 1980s. I've watched the 60 Miniutes clips posted on youtube before, but recently someone posted clips from the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) from 1985.

I still find it shocking that such a discourse arose out of the game. I also find it ironic that when the odd death occurs "due" to WOW - like one in Barrrie, ON in the last couple years - people don't even notice.



Thursday, October 22, 2009

Note: Sinister Woods Dungeon Tiles

I just read a nice review of the new Sinister Woods Dungeon Tile set over at NewbieDM.

I won't re-review the set here.

However, I do think people should know that I bought 2 sets and in both cases the top layer was peeling away from the tile. I noticed this specifically on 4 tiles. Two of the largest size and two of the smaller size (2x2). NewbieDM noticed the same thing.

I had to glue these back down or they would have been useless.

The aesthetic of the tile set is great, and this is the first time I've had a problem like this.

Buyer Beware

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Miniatures from MegaMinis

I ordered a few miniatures from MegaMinis and they arrived in the mail today.

I've looked through their catalogues several times, and wanted to order a few as a trial to see the quality. I ordered the following (from Left ot Right):

Bard Playing Lute
Thief with Lantern
Dungeon Raider
Monk swinging Staff
Priest with Mace Raised
Male Cleric with Mace

Overall, I am very impressed with these miniatures. The aesthetic is perfect for old school gaming. The quality and detail is excellent and the packaging was first-rate. John worked with me on shipping too (I'm in Ontario). Customer service and communication was awesome.

I highly recommend MegaMinis, and do so without reservation.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Random Hireling Generator (Revised)

I was quite taken with the Bulette's random hireling generator for Labyrinth Lord.

I've made a few revisions that I think build on an already excellent idea.

I would have no problem using something like this for any D&D game that I play (LL, B/X, 1E, or whatever).

Please let me know what you think. I'd like to continue tweaking.

Dungeons and Dragons Hireling Generator

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hireling Miniatures: What Do You Use?

In our group, we face a quandry. We really like to use minis, but we prefer older rulesets (1E and LL). In many cases, DDMs don't provide an aesthetic that matches the look of traditional D&D. For us, the aesthetic of minis is just as important as the aesthetic of a module.

Back in the day, I painted more than a few Citadel miniatures (which I still think are the best sculpts around). I know that painting minis can be quite rewarding. We just don't have the time.

So we must sift through the DDMs for acceptable options - but we pick and choose.

When it comes to miniatures for hirelings there aren't a ton of options. I'm sure, if you use DDMs that you already have these scoped out.

I'm curious, if you use minis (metal or plastic), what do you use?




Deluxe Men-At-Arms:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Critical Fumble Chart

Here's our critical fumble chart. I surveyed those available online, made tweaks, and added our own thoughts. Originally, the chart used a d12 but there was some redundancy and so we edited down to a d8. Any discrepancy with the chart as it relates to gameplay is subject to the DMs discretion.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ye Fast Pack Revised for LL

I always liked "Ye Fast Pack" from The Lost City module.

We borrowed the idea and adapted it to most of our games in some form or fashion.

In this incarnation, Packs A and B are priced almost exactly. The vial of holy water throws off the pricing a wee bit for Pack C, but that doesn't get us bent out of shape.

If you have any suggestions for revision please let me know.

Friday, September 25, 2009

First Draft: The Duchy of Mar Gazetteer

Here's my first draft of the gazetteer for the Duchy of Mar.

I've taken a minimalist approach that provides some historical and cultural context but doesn't overdue it. The emphasis is on parameters.

Although I like my D&D dark and with a serious tone, I've taken liberties with the Hamlet of Duloc. I envisage an "Against the Ogres" mid-level campaign there at some point in the future.

Preliminary material on deities and organized religion was noted in an earlier post.

I'd be happy to hear your comments to improve the flavour of the setting.

The Duchy of Mar Gazetteer

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Score! William Dear's, The Dungeon Master (1984)

I'm developing a personal library of non-academic books related to D&D.

I recently bought a copy of William Dear, The Dungeon Master: The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1984).

The book was cheap, like 2 bucks and a couple for shipping.

The book arrived today and to my surprize included a signature by the author and a business card!

I have yet to read this book but know the story and the lore. I'm particularly interested in the moral panic surrounding D&D in the 1980s.

So three questions:

1) Have you read this book? What did you think?
2) Can you make any suggestions of published books I should add to my collection?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Organized Religion in the Duchy of Mar

We want to provide a small initial pantheon supportive of Law, Neutrality, and Chaos. We don't want to remake the wheel, and want some familiarity with past game editions. To that end, we like the idea of using gods/demi-gods from Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms. However, the exact nature of their incarnations (symbols, structure, worship) in this realm will be subject to the local and regional character of the Duchy of Mar (as it develops) and play over time.

For fun, I generated heraldric devices for both the organized regions and the towns/cities (to follow in a subsequent post) using the Coat of Arms Visual Designer from Inkwell and some extra work in Paint.

We are leaving the door open for religions, cults, and other deities etc as the campaign progresses.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Campaign Maps: The Duchy of Mar

A revision of a campaign map for our home game. More detail to follow in the coming weeks.

Here's the distressed version:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Academic Study of Robert E. Howard

There seems to be growing academic interest in the study of Robert E. Howard and his work.

The Southwest regional branch of the Popular Culture Association (PCA) has made room for papers devoted to Conan the Barbarian and the National Conference of the PCA has a special section devoted to Howard.

Also, a new journal has been created entitled "The Dark Man: THe Journal of Robert E. Howard Studies". You can access the some of the material here.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

After Action Report: The Burial Tomb of Ak-Owgra **WARNING: MAXIMUM CARNAGE**

After deciding on a base of house rules that suit our taste, we decided to play a short adventure of my creation. This was to have some fun but also to test the rules in actual play. We were pleased with the result.

(I'm still working on the Ruins of Mar Campaign, but with the start of the fall term I haven't had chance to get to it in detail.)

I created a short delve with the one-page dungeon sheet. I've made some changes to it, primarily swapping out the graph for a numbered photo of the dungeon (see below) using dungeon tiles. I found this cut out unnecessary steps. This adventure was designed with 4-5 hours of gaming in mind.

The adventure, entitled The Burial Tomb of Ak-Owgra (anyone know the movie reference there?), situates the adventurers as money-grubbing tomb-robbers. Here's the DMs backstory:

"Ak-Owgra, the Bandit Queen (some called the Bitch Queen) was entombed a hundred years ago. Many sought to plunder her tomb, and recently one group of brigands partially succeeded. Although they found rooms 1-4 most were killed off or fled. Rooms 5-10, including the main burial chambers, remain hidden. The defiling of her crypt has pushed Ak-Owgra and her buried minions into unlife."

What follows can be described as nothing less than maximum carnage.

The (initial) party consisted of the following first level PCs:

Rheiden the Human Male Fighter and Party Leader
Brother Banlin the Human Male Cleric (Obad-Hai)
Elwen of Riverwood, Female Elf
Talic the Human Male Magic-User

Joining the group were:

Ghiilner the Torch-Bearer (Hireling)
Grisit of Ulag (Man-at-arms)
Dros of Duloc (Man-at-arms)
Zert of Dolmvay (Man-at-arms)

All hirelings and henchmen were generated using a custom (emphasis on custom) version of the LL random hireling generator.

By the time the party arrived at the newly found tomb, the crypt door had been opened. The party lit torches and proceeded down the stairs. Here a pic:

The party proceeded into the first room and were surpised by a carrion crawler who was munching a half-eaten bandit while hanging from the ceiling. The CC paralyzed half the party before Elwen and Zert of Dolmvay managed to finish it off.

The group noticed one stone door bashed to pieces and proceeded down that hallway (without checking for secret doors). The entered a room and were attacked by giant spitting beetles. All three men-at-arms were below zero hit points and all made their saves vs death (see house rules). Sadly, Grisit was killed off by a coup-de-gras later in the battle.

The next room was filled with giant spiders and bodies of bandits in spider silk. The bit+poison or die seemed rather harsh to me and three party members died as a result. Brother Banlin (who never even had a chance to cast a spell before he died), Talic the Magic-User, and Ghiilner the Torch-Bearer all fell to spider poison.

The adventurers, now reduced by half, decided to press on rather than return to town to rest, re-arm, and recoup their loses. Instead they searched and found a secret door in the entry chamber and proceeded to a crypt room where they were attacked by lesser animated stone statues. There Dros of Duloc was killed. The only Man-at-Arms remaining was Zert of Dolmvay who had an uncanny nack for survival.

They opened one tomb and destroyed the ghoul within, found a magical longsword and some gold, and finally decided to return to town.

After spending a week in town the group added two more PCs:

Brother Percival a Human Cleric (St. Cuthbert)
Mazrik the Magician a Human Magic-User

Due to Zert unique ability to survive, he became a 1st level fighter and was hired as a henchman.

The following were also added:

Yacky the Torch-Bearer (Hireling)
Yacky had two goblin slave labourers he brought with him as part of the deal:
Yurk and Gak

Breston the Blugeoner (Man-at-arms)
Derx of Frogmorton (Man-at-arms)
Jax the Mighty (Man-at-arms)

The new (second) party:

Unfortunately things did not go well for this attempt either. In the Throne Room of Ak-Owgra the party was attacked by 7 skeletons, 2 zombies, and Ak-Owgra (Ghoul in armour with spells).


The only party members who survived were Rheiden, Mazrik, and Elwen (who I accidently killed off at one point by rolling the wrong damage die).


Total Kills to date:

PCs: 3
Hirelings: 1
Men-At-Arms: 6
Henchmen: 1

Here's the tomb overview map: