Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Cursed Chateau Maps : ENNIE AWARDS NOM NOM VOTE

So The Cursed Chateau got an ENnie Awards Nomination for Best Cartography. 

If you're wondering what the maps looked like here you go.

Hopefully, when you're voting for best Cartography, you're not voting along product lines:

"I like Cthulhu! I like Lamentations! I like Numenera!"

Hopefully, you're voting on which product has the very best cartography.
The criteria for what makes a great map:

Is it practical, easy to access, easy to use at the game table?

Is it parseable, easy to read, easy to comprehend?

Is it informative, providing as much detail it can without cluttering the map?
Is it evocative, is it easy on the eye?

Hopefully, The Cursed Chateau meets these criteria.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Return of the Man Rider

Previous adventures retold in gripping wordplay here!

Haven't played man Rider in a couple of years. I think there's a bit missing after the last session report above, that I will call Missing Session Twelve... but basically Man Rider survived pregnancy.


Session Thirteen (Vaults of Vyzor): Joins cadre of powerful warriors summoned across space and time. Definitely felt out of place. Dusty too. Have been frozen in carbonite for last two years. No princess to kiss when woke up. Sad, but woke. Have joined party exploring Vaults of Vyzor: Slovenia Troll plus Dog of Awesomeness +1, Barnie the well oiled muscletron plus One Eyed Otto, and one armed Yareh. She's cute. See much potential in her, especially after her one handed crossbow loading maneuvre. Convinced Muscletron to be mounted into battle. Still have oily thighs. Explored Vyzor. Found: Wolves, Hungry Like the. Wanted payment in meat. Think Slovenia made deal to feed them Man Rider. Think they would not like it. Found rope pulley thing. Pulled it. Summoned orcs. Killed orcs. Yareh hot. Corridors. Lots and lots of. Killed ghouls. Otto hurt. Otto healed. Otto blessed by Akayle Ozph. Now Otto of Prehensile Eye. Dog of Awesomeness finds secret door in back of shower. Forced to have shower. Door leads to stairs. Stairs lead to Orc lair ruled by Orc bard. Orc ambush. Have buzz saw arrows. Shear Man Rider's buttock clean off. Had worse. Win fight, healed, butt grows back in right place. More orcs. Slovenia perpetrates ruse that convinces orcs to worship Man Rider. Man Rider happy. Slovenia and rest of party kill Orc worshippers. Man Rider sad. Mandolin smashed. Yareh accepts the blessings of Akayle Ozph. Cuts arm off big Orc, wants attached to arm stump. Try to make it happen. It happens, but Akayle gives her Crows Legs as well. So hot right now. Took unrequited love and share of Orc treasure to bar. Got drunk. Lost all money, got new quest from God. Find the Unimaginable Star of Yragnnngrelfffzzzikkrraxxllarrrgghh. Oh great. All Man Rider wants is true love. Too much to ask for? Flowers for Yareh. Must remember.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

STAR WARS D6 Character Sheet PDF

These Star Wars D6 Character Sheets are to go with my streamlined rules 
based on WEG's 1st Edition Star Wars game, 
with a few special modifications based on playing pretty much every year 
since it came out in '87. 

You can check'em out here:

If you end up using these sheets and think there's something you'd like to see
added to them, leave a comment below. Thx!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Conrunning the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan

C1: The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan was one of the few AD&D modules I remember having as a kid. For years I've wanted to run it again, and did so at EttinCon in the Blue Mountains beyond Sydney last weekend. Two 3 hour sessions, 6 players first and 7 players second, using 5th Edition rules. Spoilers ahead.

HSoT was originally written in 1979 for Origins, and published in 1980, then republished in 1981 with a full colour cover and more pages (I had this version). You can get the PDF of it here. Turns out it'll be coming out in 5e rules as part of the collected adventures in Tales from the Yawning Portal. Cool.

1981 version Cover Illustration by Erol Otus 

Information design and presentation has come a looooong way in the 35 years since, and while yakking with Erik Jensen about Tamoachan he mentioned there was an updated version for 4th Edition in Dungeon Magazine #209 (which you can grab here).

The presentation was much improved (boxed text alert) and I ended up using this version when I ran it. Mike Schley did the cartography for the 4th Ed version which was printed and given out as a Game Day reward in 2011:

The hi res map isn't publicly available for download, but I contacted Mike Schley and he not only gave me the digital version of the map above, he then went and found the unmarked player map. Awesome.

I really wanted to have the map printed out as a battle map on the table for the players (I find it helps them focus on the game and cuts out the air time spent on giving dimensions to each room, especially important when you're up against the clock at a Con), but scaled up to 1" = 5' that map would have been over 13 feet long and 7 feet wide. I ended up breaking the map up into five sections: 3 for the first Tier, 1 for the second and third Tier, and 1 for the top of the Temple. Even then I had to do a fair bit of photoshop work to compress the map so the bottom Tier would fit on three A0 posters, and I could only get the scale to 3/4" = 5' but that was ok. Come gametime I had the five maps laid one on top of each other, working our way down trough the pile. As you'll see in the set up, the players begin with a map of the temple which explains why they can see it in-game.

In terms of adventure design it starts with a single "only way out is through" entry point A (the partially caved in room bottom right), with a possible-but-highly-unlikely-they'll-find-it exit that allows you to explore from the top of the temple downwards B, several branches that lead to a single choke point C, several different paths to the next choke point D, several branches and paths to choke point E, and then a fairly straight run to the top of the temple at F with a couple of optional branches on the way.

There was one secret door in the original adventure at G, and I added another a H cause I didn't want the players to see the clear exit off from these two maps so they'd explore the dungeon.

The game would have played quite differently if the maps weren't there on the table, a lot more exploration, but even so both groups were really pushed for time to finish it at all, and with the second group that played I even cut whole levels of maps out in the end. But I was fine with that, cause there was a lot of getting into their characters and I didn't want to punish that investment.


The 1st Ed version has: "In general, party size should be from 5 to 7 characters of 3rd to 7th levels. The average level of the party should be 5th. If fewer than 5 players are involved, the average level should be 6th."

The 4th Ed version only has "for 7th level characters".

I wasn't sure what levels to go with for 5th edition characters, but ended up making eight 7th-level characters for the 6-7 players to choose from each session.

What a fucking nightmare that was. 

Even with the help of Jack Shear and Reece Carter (many many thanks!) it took fucking forever to a) create the characters and b) condense all the character info into one digestible page, with an extra page for spells. As each character piled on ability after ability it really did bring home some of the flaws with the hidden complexity of 5E. I could have created the equivalent in one evening using some over systems I'm familiar with. It took hours and hours and hours...

Anyway, it's done, and it's available here so you don't have to go through my pain:

Top Row: Shank the Half-elven Assassin, Xyla the Human Wizard,
Pinchgut the Dwarven Rogue, 
Jinx the Halfling Bard
Bottom Row: Horhog the Human Barbarian, Ulsha the Elven Cleric, Dendrek the Human Fighter,
Riff Raff the Human Ranger (cursed to look like a Ratling).

I based the characters off these awesome illustrations by Eric Belisle, who's done a lot of great work for Pathfinder and some illos for D&D. I really wanted a set of united character pics all by the same artist, and with that hint of jungle in the designs and these were perfect. On top of that, there's a wide range of color and body type and gender representation so I reckon its a rocking bunch of adventurers.

So was 7th level the right level? Yeah, if you wanted to play on easy mode. There were two character deaths in each game, but that came from a Save or Die situation I'll talk about in a sec. One character got dropped to 4HP at one stage, but with the cleric packing the heals and the Wizard being an Abjurer at no point were the characters perilously close to death. I reckon you could easily go for 6th level and still be ok, 5th level for a challenging but possible game.


I printed out the 8 characters on A5 sized card stands and lined them up infront of the players and let them choose which ones they wanted to be. In both games there were 6 players, leaving 2 characters left. I made sure they both turned up later on.


I really wanted to have an in game explanation as to why the players could see the layout of the shrine and their location within it, and I also wanted to give them a reason to explore the shrine instead of taking the shortest possible path out of there. So I came up with this terrible poem:

Enshrined within the shrine lies the mask of pain divine
An end to all world’s ills when worn the mask reveals
The boon or bane of man in lost Tamoachan

and the following introduction:

You and your friends have shared in many adventures, and now search for the Mask of Tamoachan, a legendary artefact said to grant wishes to the one that wears it. Each of you wants for different reasons, but have all agreed to find it together.

Two weeks ago you broke into the fortress of one of the Sea Princes and stole a magical map. On one side it revealed the location of the lost city of Tamoachan in the Amedio Jungle; the other showed what appeared to be a section of the layout of the Shrine of Tamoachan.

The Sea Princes don't take kindly to thieves and sent bounty hunters after you. In a stolen ship you sailed across the narrow waters to the shores of the Amedio, and struck deep into the shadows beneath the rainforest.

But the hunters dogged you every step of the way, and had coerced native trackers to help bring you down. 

Finally you drew near to the location marked on the stolen map, spotting a junglecrusted temple ruin rising out of the trees ahead — and that's when they attack. 

Poisoned arrows and crossbow bolts whistle around you as you dash through the jungle, smashing through branches, stumbling over fallen trunks, torn by thorns and vines. In the chaos you lose sight of some of your crew, but the plan is simple: get to the temple, regroup and take a stand.

And then with a great roar the ground beneath you splits apart, and you are all thrown down a mighty crevice and into darkness.

From there the adventure begins, with the players starting in Room 1. Away you go.


I placed the mask in the trapped Chest 2 of Room 33: Ancient Tamoachan, where the miniature version of the city is found. An Intelligence (Religion) check DC 12 is require to identify which of the buildings is the Shrine of Tamoachan. "Enshrined within a shrine".

The mask looks like a green death's head, furnished out of jade stone and shells, bound together in bloodsoaked leather straps and highlighted with various stone of blue and red. Leather ties from the back of the mask are used to secure it to the wearer. Soft bloodstained leather lines the inside of the mask, and is slightly damp to the touch. Examining the mask for several rounds will show that there is something strange with the jade stone: it seems that the natural white speckling and flaws move. Further examination reveals that these shapes coalesce into vaguely human forms, and that rough faces seem to be screaming.

The mask must be firmly tied on for its power to function. Once worn, the wearer can commune with the mask, and know that it will grant the wearer its greatest desire. The wearer must make a Wisdom Save. If successful, the mask fulfils the wearer's desire functioning much the same as a wish spell. If unsuccessful, the wearer is instantly killed, their body and soul sucked into the mask. The wearer may use the mask's power once per week.

Destroying the Mask:
Brute force is all that is required. The Mask is AC: 20, has a hardiness of 14, and 20 hit points. If it has any hit points at the start of the round it immediately regenerates d6 hit points.

Why the Characters want it:
I also added a bunch of individual goals for the pregens and why they seek the mask; it made for some great roleplaying when they finally get their hands on it.

Shank the Assassin has a deathwish, and wants the mask either to kill him or take away his pain.
Xyla the Wizard has promised the souls trapped within the Mask to a Demon Lord that has ensnared her master.
Pinchgut the Rogue wants to sell the mask for gold and joools.
Jinx wants the mask to resurrect her lost love.
Horhog the Barbarian needs the mask to cure him of his deadly disease.
Ulsha the Cleric wants to destroy the mask and return the trapped souls to the great spiritual journey.
Dendrek the Fighter wants the mask to heal his missing eye.
Riff Raff the Rogue wants the mask to return him to his human form.


They turn up twice in the adventure.

In Room 33: Ancient Tamoachan — yep, the same room as where the Mask of Tamoachan is found — there is lying in a coffin the shapeshifting Tlacaelel, which assumes the visage of "someone you thought you might never see again" — which is where the unchosen character comes in (or one of the characters if there's more than one). They take the extra character's form, and use the cover story that the natives caught them, bound them and placed them in the coffin as part of some native ritual.

They also turn up at the final battle atop of the Shrine of Tamoachan, in Room 54: The Temple Ruin. The extra character(s) have gone full Belloch: they've sold out the rest of the group, and when they "disappeared" at the start of the adventure during the attack, they were simply rejoining the other hunters, and are waiting for the player characters to do their dirty work before joining in on the attack along side the Olman natives and Witchdoctor. If you want you can also add a few hunters (use Thugs and Veterans from p.350. of the Monster Manual) if the players have survived without much injury.

Thanks to all my players in both groups. Hope you had as much fun as I did.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


If only.... mock cover using art by Paul Dainton from the amazing Artstation ILM Challenge

Firing up a new Star Wars campaign, both locally and on G+. I've never run a Bounty Hunter focused game before. Should be fun. And bloody. I'll keep a running summary of each episode on the blog.
    STAR WARS: THE WILD HUNT is an episodic campaign focused on Bounty Hunters during the Dark Times of the Galactic Empire.
    The campaign is not tied to any location and will roam across the Star Wars galaxy— where-ever the trail of your bounty leads. The reign of the Empire is at its zenith, the galaxy cowers under its oppressive rule, and those outside of elite Imperial circles carry the greatest burdens of the Imperial war machine. The galaxy is crumbling under its weight.
    Grim and gritty space sleaze. Bounty Hunters trawl the underbelly of the galaxy and must be willing to get their hands dirty. Very dirty. Their quarry is usually desperate, and their rivals will do whatever it takes to get the job done. There’s a reason Bounty Hunters get paid so much.
    Violence, corruption, and survival. Do you have what it takes to survive in such a violent life? Everything has a price, and some things have a cost that cannot be measured in credits. How much are you willing to pay?
    The purpose of your team is to hunt bounties, but only a few of your profession are bounty hunters by trade, the rest falling into the job as their old career fell apart. Many different skill sets can give a team of hunters an edge over its adversaries. Just be sure your character can hold their own in a fight — a Str of at least 3D is recommended, as is some skill in blaster, brawl, melee, and/or dodge.
    Some questions you should also think about while you create your character:
  • Why your character has signed up as a bounty hunter?
  • What’s driven them to this violent life?
  • How long they intend to stay with job?
  • What they plan to do with their bounties?
  • What will it take to get them out?
  • Do they have a code of conduct to keep their morality intact?
  • Are there any limits to what they’ll do for credits?
  • Are there targets they’ll refuse to hunt?
  • How much will it cost to change their mind?
  • What does your character do to forget the horrors they’ve seen, or maybe even committed?
  • Have they killed, or do they only take jobs where the quarry is wanted alive?
  • Has you character done anything they’ve regretted?
  • Can they do anything about it to make amends or will they have to live with the guilt?
  • What do they think of the Empire? The Old Republic? The Jedi? Even the rumors of rebellion?
The answers to these questions should help you choose your character’s Edges and Burdens.
    Bounty Hunter companies have one of three allegiances: Imperial Sanction (Imperial bounties only, Imperial privileges), Hunter Guild Membership (Guild bounties only, Guild privileges), or Independent Hunters (freelance bounties, no privileges, no restraints).
    As a group you’ll need to work out which Affiliation your team has.
Use the rules linked here: STAR WARS D6 RULES ESSENTIALS to create your character using one of the following character sheets. Given the scarcity of the Force during the Dark Times, no Force Sensitive characters are allowed, and only 1 Force Point can be spent by the team each session.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Cursed Chateau

It's here! Where I've been for the past few months. 

I'll put up a post about its production over the next few days, dealing with the issues working with metallic inks, two color illustrations, design, but for now, click on the image to go get it and support a great writer, a great publisher, and a dishevelled and underslept artist.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Star Wars Force Awakens: A new Era for Adventure?


So for the last few weeks I've been thinking "hey when Force Awakens is out I should really run some D6 SW rpg again, and won't it be cool to use the new era as a springboard for adventures cause it's so hot right now".

Only... now that I've seen Force Awakens... I'm not thaaaaaat inspired by it as an rpg setting, at least not more than I am by the Star Wars Classic Era games. And I've been mulling this over for the last day or so.

Why is it that I'm not champing at the bit now I've seen it? There's lots of cool non-time specific era stuff to yoink into any Star Wars game:

• The concept of Jakku - scavengers ekking out a living in the shadows of ruined battlecruisers - is great (I have a Junk World in my homebrew Star Wars Malicrux sector where scavengers pull apart beached warcruisers, stealing from the tanker strippers you get on the beaches in India)

• Tons of new races glimpsed, just waiting to be detailed, oh and droids too.

• Hints at the criminal gangs like the Kanjiklub and the Gauvian Death Enforcers

• Those Space-Otyugh (Rathars, I think?) that Solo's transporting - the best space critter seen in any of the SW movies

• Mas Kanata's smugglers den... she's been around for a thousand years (sold pot to Yoda during his college years, I hear) and according to Lupito N'yongo has run the place for a hundred years, so there's no reason it wouldn't exist during Classic or Clone Wars games. "Ya'll meet in a bar..."

• Lord Snoke... (hear me out on this) could possibly be a giant, or he could just be doing the Wizard of Oz trick and just be a little guy behind smoke and mirrors. But if not, and that hologram of him was 1 for 1 scale.... well now we have giants in Star Wars. Cool.

• The First Jedi Temple. Well that's got to have been a round for a few thousand years. So yeah, suitable for any era (I totally reckon they shot scenes from SW VIII while they were there, btw)

• Some excellent new Force Powers for the rare Jedi character out there (Boltholder, Force Paralysis, Seize Memory), plus an excellent demonstration of a latent Force Sensitive awakening.

• Some highly dodgy hyperspace hijinx your desperate smuggler can try and pull off.

... and so on. Bound to be tons more stuff in there that I'm forgetting that can be ripped out and dumped into your game.

But as for playing during the new First Order Era?

One of the few complaints I have about Force Awakens is how thin on the ground it is with its locations and the greater galactic scope. It really highlights one of the strengths of the prequels: Lucas' world building and expanding of his galaxy was really great, and Force Awakens was comparatively really dull. A desert world (been there way too many times already), a world of lakes and forests (been there), a world of snow and ice (been there, too), an urban world (briefly!) and an Imperial military complex (been there, lots). Say what you want about the prequels, but boy did Lucas take us to some really interesting places (same goes for the Clone Wars series, and for the new Rebels series). Even the planets and locations in the Nu Trek films are way more interesting than Force Awakens.

And the complaints aren't just about physical locations. The set up— there's a new Republic, which seems to have a democratic government going down, and there's the First Order trying to tear them down but they're only soso powerful, and they're being thwarted by the Resistance (who's relationship with the Republic is... weird to say the least, why not just be the New Republic Armed Forces or whatever) — the set up ain't very clear, and it's very cursory.

Compare that with say the set up of New Hope: there's a tyrannical galactic empire that's grinding everyone under its boots, the remnants of the Old Republic being swept away, criminality is flourishing under draconian rule, and there's a fledgeling Rebellion trying to fix this crapsack setting. There's more impetus to adventure implicit in the Empire's domination of the galaxy. There's a much grander sense of scale too, even if we don't see Coruscant, the Senate, the Emperor the Imperial Academy. "If there's a bright center to the galaxy you're on the planet that it's farthest from." "I've been from one side of the galaxy to the other and seen a lot of strange stuff." There's an awareness of how small these players feel they are in the grand scheme of things (only they aren't small, after all).

The galaxy in Force Awakens feels small. And incomplete.

Maybe we'll just have to hang out for the next two films to fill in those gaps before we go galavanting around this new galaxy. Maybe I can just make my own shit up to fill in the gaps. But if I have to run a Star Wars game... the new First Order era isn't calling to me, yet. There is little in the new era that makes it stand out from the previous eras (whether it's KOTOR era, or Clone Wars era, or Classic era). There is nothing unique about it that would make the gaming experience much different to those other times. All you'd be doing was changing names.

So how do you fix it?

When they were during production one of the early snippets I caught about Force Awakens was that the galactic war was far from over despite the destruction of the second Death Star, and that the war dragged on across the galaxy for decades. And that really sounded fascinating to me. Imagine a protracted civil war between government forces, numerous anti-government factions, meddling by external powers, and throw in a bunch of wild and crazy experimental game-changing technological weapons. Basically... take your cues from what's going on in say Syria. 

Now take Syria, and make it Syria.... IN SPPPPAAAAACE. A galaxy wide civil war. And then make that war play out over three decades across the stars.

What a horrible, terrible place the galaxy would be.

What I hoped we were going to get was two major players - the New Republic and the remains of the Empire - utterly exhausted by the war, having to deal with interference by vested interests — say a Hutt mercenary army or other criminal enterprise trying to capitalise on the chaos and expand their territory by invading wartorn worlds and offering new security. Imagine the state of the galaxy: everything's shot to pieces, or been consumed by the warmachine, or completely disrupted and malfunctioning, of crumbling edifices, ruined starports, and countless bodies everywhere, a scavenger galaxy where dysfunctional governments are usurped by gangs and warlords and everyone lives under the rule of the gun. And suddenly two fleets appear in the skies overhead, and for days the locals live in terror first of wreckage raining down on their world, and then the takeover by the victors above as they strip the world bare of any fuel and parts and food and munitions and people to continue their idealogical genocide.

And maybe that's what the galaxy of the new First Order era is like. A small pocket of civilization at the heart of the Republic, where things are goodish, and several pockets of draconian rule under the Empire.... and everywhere else is utter shit. A points of light campaign on a galactic scale.

Jakku seems a bit like that at least. 

Anyway... that's what I'd do to the rest of the galaxy, what I'd do to make it stand apart from the other eras. There would be a lot more scavenging, kludging, cobbling, and starving; a lot more desperation, despair, and cruelty on all sides, a miserable place where all hope for the return of the Jedi. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


So finally after months of pussyfooting round I finally got to run the first session of Swords of Nordheim using D&D 5th and a bunch of houserules (modified races and classes, mainly, plus the use of futhark runes as character inspiration).

Two old mates of mine: Steg (also in Sydney) and Wes (currently working in Tokyo), who I've known and gamed with for twenty years or so, ran using Google Hangouts (man their "downgrade" is making it hard to stick around on G+.... sigh). Hopefully a couple more players will be join us soon.

And to push myself with the arty stuff and with the writey stuff I'm going to keep a session recap, complete with quick illustrations (I need to work on being faster with the pen). Lessee how long I can stick this out.


Nordheimer Warrior of Noble blood, drew the rune of Eihwaz merkstave, and favours the god Heimdall above all others. A master of games (few are his equal at shatranj) and a likeable son of the local lord. The broadsword and round shield are his weapons and he wears a fine chain shirt into battle.

Trollblood Berzerker who trained as a Weaponsmith, drew the rune of Isa merkstave, and favours the goddess Sif above all others. His trollblood manifests as hideous claws that he must sever each morning before he goes to work in his smithy, where he hammers out the finest swords in his town. The sword and round shield are his weapons, but he eschews armour in his berzerker rage.

Jotunblood Huntress who sails the coast hunting whales, drew the rune of Nauthiz merstave, and favours the god Uller above all others. She is descended from Sea Giants. The Harpoon is her weapon, and the hide of her kills protects her. (I like having a DMPC in my games, especially if there's only a couple of players, and they're almost always heavy hitters just to help the PCs stay alive. And no, they're not snowflakes. They die very well, thank you).

(Merkstave means the rune has negative connotations, and the choice of favoured god from the Norse pantheon confers a minor blessing on each character)

The names are all from here: Viking Fantasy Name Generator


Steg punched a bunch of storyhooks into his brief character background, and here it is verbatim:

His father, a devout man, was famous for his own adventures twenty years gone. But last summer some old friends of his father's, some familiar to Gunvor and some not, turned up late one evening. The last trace of his father was a hastily scribbled note: “Eerika Bergljotdottir stirs in the Doom where we trapped her. We journ to Helmsborg to seek answers. Godsmun Bjornen Triggson gave oath this could not happen unless Strength in Life, Strength in Battle.”

So the player characters are the sons and daughters of Kirby's friends who have gone missing for several months, and I threw them straight into rowing their faering boat across the frigid waters to where their parents were last known to be heading: the island of Eerika's Doom.

The Island awaits...


We started late and there was the usual first session muckaround to begin with, so we didn't get terribly far into it (which is good, cause I was underprepped and I can bang some stuff out in time for next week's game).

The three adventurers made it to the island and dragged their faering up over the rocky shores and into the tussocks beyond, then headed to the headland promontory away to the east to get a better view of the island. Through the slowly parting mists they saw a large rocky hill rising from the centre of the island, granite and barren, and were about to head off there when Torrad spied a wooden dragonprow poking up from the forest near the harbour on the far side of the headland.

They investigated, and found a small knarr fit for a dozen people had been pulled ashore and covered over with tarp and hidden by branches. They searched the ship, found no-one, but guessed from the rotting food stores that the crew had intended to stay for some time but had not returned to their ship. At best guess it had been hidden for several months; a small campfire was found but had been partially grown over. The three adventurers also found a couple of odds and ends (I'd forgotten to roll on the trinkets table and got them to do so in game). Then headed off to the rocky hill and found it soon enough.

As they scrambled about the hill, they found the rock was exceptionally cold to the touch, akin to touching bare flesh on frozen steel, and that there were no signs of animal life. Again Torrad's keen eyes spotted the flight of rough hewn stairs running up the side of the hill, and ascending it they came to a wide landing and a low stone cliff, into which some masterful hands had carved a wide opening that descended down into darkness.

At the bottom of there were two heavy stone doors, shut tight; but with a hefty push the doors parted to reveal a long hall lined with statues of excellent craftmanship, dark passages descending between each pair of figures. It appeared to be a burial mound, but the funereal boat was not lying along the floor. Instead it had somehow been inverted, so that the tip of the mast touched the stone ground, and the ceiling lay many feet deep in the thickest grip of ice. Only the prows emerged from the glacial grasp, and the ice ran down along the walls to smoother the upper halves of the statues.

The hall was incredibly cold, the air hurt to breathe, and touching anything froze the flesh.

Torrad persevered though, and using a torch and dagger managed to chip the ice away from one of the statues, that (serendipitously?) revealed the statue was a goddess, and was indeed his patron Sif, the goddess of War (have an inspiration point for that). The others went looking for their gods. Drifa found and freed Uller, the god of Hunting, but none of the statues were of Gunvor's patron Heimdall.

Instead Gunvor found Heimdall's face carved into the massive stone doors at the far end of the hall. Fitting, that the god of guardians would be found protecting the inner sanctum of the burial mound. Gunvor gave it his best to open the innder doors, but Heimdall was having none of it.

A quick investigation of the six other passageways leading out of the main hall reveal each descended to yet more stone doors. One was open, but at Torrad's insistence they chose the door guarded by Sif.

With a bit of effort (the ice that gripped the ceiling ran down each passage and partially covered the doors) they managed to open the passage and found a tomb inside. The walls were again lined with statues, this time of nobility, looking down on a massive sarcophagus. Gunvor and Torrad were about to push the lid off it when Drifa spotted a secret door up in the passageway, but they pressed on with the task and with a massive crash the stone lid fell away.

Inside was the fully armed and armoured skeleton of a Jotunblood warrior, easily over nine feet tall. Long dead, Torrad decided to bequeath his armour to Drifa, and the warrior's fine looking sword to himself; he snapped the Jotunskel's head right round as he was removing the helm.... only to see the head turn slowly back and the horror rise up out of its resting place.

The Jotunskel (reskinned Minotaur Skeleton p273MM, increased AC to 14, decreased damage to 1d8+6).

It mouthed breathless words as it snapped Drifa's harpoon in half, swatted away the first sword blows, and then attacked. Maybe because Torrad was the one who defiled his tomb it concentrated its wrath on him and brought its own sword down on the trollblood hardest. The first blow to hit dropped him two thirds of his hit points, but the combination of Gunvor's swift swordwork, Drifa's horns and Torrad's rage wore the creature down, and it was finally felled by Gunvor's sword to the neck. As the decapitated head rolled away, its still mouthed its silent words. "You shall bear these arms at Ragnorok," was what it appeared to say, watching as the victors looted its fallen body.

We called it a night there. Midnight; tired Jez, more prep needed.


I didn't get anywhere near enough prep time as I would have liked, so grabbed the old crypt map I'd made a few years back to showcase the DungeonFu GoogleDocs I'd made... so far this is what they've explored:


Trinkets from the boat:
- a brass king from a shatranj game (Gunvor)
- a mysterious iron holy symbol of an unknown god (Torrad)
- a large scale from a Vaengrwyrm (Drifa)

From the Jotunskel:
- one suit of chain mail and warhelm (fit for a Jotunblood)
- one fine heavy broadsword (+1 damage)
- one fine dagger
- a magnificent bejeweled belt
- one wooden round shield marked with a doubleheaded orca
- a fine silver necklace bearing an amulet of Thor's hammer Mjolnir


Exploring the Island: 150XP
Defeating the Jotunskel: 450XP

TOTAL: 600XP/3 = 200XP each

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Goreball Playtests

Ready to Roll....

Been a little quiet here, but only cause I've been busy hammer and tongs on Goreball!

Took the game for its first public playtests last weekend at the inaugural BezerkaCon in Sydney, which was a great motivator for getting the prototype up and ready and the rules refined enough for proper play. Also managed to get a few games in with my gamer crew in the lead up, so all up it's had about 10 playtests with others now.

A big thanks to everyone who took it for a spin, your feedback has been invaluable and I've spent the last few days tweaking and refining. I'm really happy with where it's heading.

What I've learned from the playtests:

• I suck at playing my own game. I haven't won once.
• Everyone really digs the look of the board and figures. Phew.
• Gameplay comes in a wide variety of styles, which is great. Working out which tactics are best is going to be fun.
• The playtests were only using teams of Kludgers — the allrounder position with the same amount of dice in every ability. That made it easier to teach the basics. I look forward to trying it with the full roster of positions available.
• I had a guy with fairly poor eyesight look over the board and the designs of all the positions and could separately identify everything. Good.
• People reaaaaaaally like hurting their opponent's players. This game runs on schadenfreude.
• People reaaaaaaally like picking up their own Goreballers with their Mauljaws and throwing them around the arena. Even when they splat.
• The Gore tokens are a winner. Ain't called Goreball for nothing.
• There's a lot of love for the Mauljaws. The moveable goal aspect is really popular.
• Mauljaws are really really hard to take down. But not impossible; once you get them on their back it's possible to pile on and with everyone and hurt them bad.
• I need to differentiate the two special Mauljaw attacks of ripping Goreballers limb from limb and just eating them whole. Mechanically and results wise they're too similar.
• It's taken a while to get the lethality levels right. Originally I had it so that injuring the Mauljaw, or injuring all the active Goreballers so there's noone in the Arena was a means of winning the game. That led to some heavy slugfests while the goreballer with the Gob hung out down the back,and once one team gains the upper hand numberswise its a death spiral. That's been changed now so that instead of winning you just score a point, which means that a passing game ends up being a more effective means of point scoring which is what I wanted.
• Falling off a pylon and critically injuring yourself as your opening move is hilarious.
• When the Gob explodes, it's a little less dangerous than I originally hoped for, and might need bolstering.
• It's possible for one team to have multiple turns in a row. There was one game where my opponent got three full turns before I could act. It didn't bother me in the slightest — I might have been to caught up in the playtest — but it could prove frustrating for certain players. I'll need to work that out.
• The biggest recurring issue was the bases for the Mauljaws. Currently I'm using the Pathfinder Pawns medium and huge sized bases. No real probs with the Goreballers (minor issues with bases being ever so slightly larger than the hexes but barely commented on) whereas the huge circular base placed over multiple hexes was confusing when it came to moving the Mauljaw around. In a perfect world the bases would be hex shaped to best fit on the hex board, and the Mauljaw bases would cover a 7 hex shape with its edge matching the outline of the 7 hexes. But no one to my knowledge makes them, and I really want to avoid going do the path of manufacturing unique plastic pieces for this game. Conundrum.
• The amount of dicerolling.... was a lot, but no one complained about it.
• The core rules seemed to be picked up by everyone pretty quickly.
• Teaching people how to play Goreball is exhausting!
• Teaching people how to play Goreball is awesome!

All in all, the playtests were great.

So from here:

• revise the rules with all the feedback and playtest again.
• finish designing the female Goreballers (I had the Kludgers as 50/50 guys/gals. These things are important).
• finish the mutation tables for the Goreballers and Mauljaws, as well as work out more interesting equipment to be picked up from the stash drops.
• test the rules at higher levels of ability. Currently all the positions have abilities ranging between 1 to 3 (that's the number of dice you get to roll and your result is the highest die). I need to see how it plays when Goreballers have abilities between 4 to 6, and the Mauljaws (who currently attack and defend with 4 to 6 dice) need to be tested with 7 to 10 dice.
• once that's all done, and I'm 100% happy with how the core game runs, I need to work out rules for tournaments and league play.
• playtest the league rules.

and once that's done, I can start to look at production and distribution.

can't wait!

Death don't care what color you are. Or if you're packing or racking.