Wednesday 28 May 2014

D&D Basic - How will this affect the OSR scene?

So I'm guessing anyone who cares knows that D&D (5e) will be available as a Basic game, to be supplemented by rules available in the DMG, PH and MM. So how will this affect the vibrant OSR scene?

I've no doubt those interested in the hobby will continue to play and create content, that wont change. But will the grognards be switching over to the new edition? We already know (and have been promised) that it will mutable enough to emulate almost any edition available, and with going about releasing all the oldschool modules will people still stick with their S&W, C&C, DCC and others? 

I know for a fact i'll be picking up at least the core books - our group really enjoyed the playtest, we just wanted something more polished. Who knows we might jump ship. I can tell you we'll be taking some things with us, Backgrounds, One unique things and Icons if we do.

Let me know, what system are you and your group with at the moment and where do you see yourself at the end of year?

Monday 26 May 2014

This room contains..

My group has kind of moved into theatre of the mind play over the last 6 months, mainly as a logistical thing to help with changing playing areas. Its had a nice effect on how we play, for me its easier to create stuff - i've changed the way i structure my thinking a little and its had subtle knock on effects in other areas.

We've also very recently taken our first stab at Fate Accelerated. We enjoyed it a lot, although its not replacing 13A as our regular fantasy engine. It has got some really cool mechanical stuff in it - i've been thinking about using them as a sort of creative brainstorming exercise. I also read a real interesting post by someone talking about how stringing the incongruous random elements of OSR encounter design together is the fun part so how do those two ideas collide?

It goes like this :

This room contains Adversary with Roleplay Opportunity doing Activity

So Adversary could be rolled of a random table, maybe i'll create one for each creature group - undead, greenskins etc. None should definitely be option here. Sample Table : 
  1. No Creatures
  2. Signs of recent Habitation, Roll again to determine what.
  3. 2 Wights
  4. 6 Zombie Peasants 
  5. Vampire Spawn Assassin
  6. 4 of the Necromancers Henchmen and 2 Mercenaries.
Roleplay Opportunitys' are things like Interesting Loot (Indecipherable scrolls, Ancient artefacts etc) NPC's (Slaves, Emissaries from rival factions) Dungeon Events (Cave-in, Extreme Temperatures) Interesting Features (Pools of Ooze, Altars etc)
  1. Carved wooden horse.
  2. Emissary from rival faction.
  3. Ancient Scroll written with gold leaf.
  4. Partial Collapse.
  5. Dark Altar to a forgotten god.
  6. Argumentative brain in jar.
And finally Activity is a reason for being in room, you could create a table for loads of broad groups should you need creatures with different motives eg, Military Actions, Leisure Activities, Acquiring Knowledge and Resource gathering.
  1. Fighting over food.
  2. Relaxing with mind bending intoxicants.
  3. Asking lots of obscure questions.
  4. Digging up the floor.
  5. Enacting corporal punishment.
  6. Concocting a noxious fumed broth.
So random rolls 4, 1, 6. My room has Zombie Peasants and a Carved wooden horse concocting a noxious broth. Hmm. So the Zombies are in the Wooden horse - having been suffocated by a foul alchemical fire lit in the horses mouth. 

6, 3, 2. A group of the Necromancers henchmen sit in a circle all taking turns to hold an ancient scroll written in goldleaf, after reading the scroll for a time they become euphoric and fall into an intoxicated haze for a period. 

Its obviously the last cog in this machine that will provide the real creative stretch, so this is where you'll be able to easily adjust tone of the encounters, the more offbeat and weird you go with these the greater the jump will be to connect the dots. If you roll No creatures you might ask whats the point rolling on the activity? I think its a way of looking out the box. No creatures? Why? Where did they go and why is that related to the Roleplay Opportunity.

The other last thing if your going to adopt this technique, write all of these independently of each other. Wait a couple of days between writing some of pick greatly different overtones and swap them around. I'll post up some of mine i've written for my upcoming game after we play - don't want my players coming across spoilers.

Thursday 15 May 2014

Out of Bullet Points

I've been thinking alot recently about how I structure my prep work for my weekly meatspace game, using a classic 3 Act format, with loose detail s given in bullet points i'm able to quickly map the intended course of the adventure. The loose structure relies on improv to flesh it out at the table, but thats ok - it gives me a skeleton to riff off and gently exercises the part of my brain that deals with quick thinking. A big plus is that if the players derail, your plot is flexible enough to adapt.

It pretty much went according to plan, some changes but the players enjoyed it, it would be interesting to run the adventure again - change a few dials and see how it plays differently.

Here's how I wrote up the last 3 sessions:

Act 1
Present the Threat

Arrival at tower
  • Merchants carrying exotic overland goods, large crowd growing outside shut gates.
  • Rumours of one brother acting strangely after returning from an adventuring trip
  • After a time the Speaking face will sound the alarm, the doors will bursts open unleashing swarms of clockwork pirates.
  • If un-reacted to the genies guards begin to lose and merchant will urge anyone with strength to help.

Fight to the Top
  • Several combat encounters up the tower

The Brother Plight
  • Two of the genie's are lying unconscious in their rooms, under a demonic curse.
  • Merchants will know where the Pirates came from, and why its important that whatever affects the brothers be stopped, them re-united and made well (they are the only ones who can open the gates to the overmarch)

Act 2
Ramp Up The Tension
Flight to Red Roost
  • The genies have a roost of Hippogryphs
  • Red Roost must be navigated to.
  • Pirates patrols can be avoided or tackled 
  • the final patrol is at sunset.

Finding a Way Inside
  • Gain entry to the Red Roost fortes via stealth or strength, either skill challenges or combat encounters.

Showdown with Red
  • Djinn has glamour cast upon him, he's really demon
  • Fight with the 3rd demon-bound clone of brother
  • A large talisman will open a pocket dimension to the Abyss.

Act 3 
Finale and onwards
Through the Portal
  • Search the Demense
  • Encounter weird Abyssal entities
  • Possible chance of combat encounters.

  • Fight with Arch-Demon guarding the 3rd Brother
  • Brother kept in purpqle energy cage

Back to the Tower

  • When free'd the brother will teleport everyone back to the tower and revive his brothers, Open the gate to the overmarch.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

ICON is here!

Im reposting this from my other blog - grab your copy of ICON here.