Direbane is an abode to share artifacts, simulacra, histories, and other items of note related to ongoing years adventuring.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Caliban Postmortem

(2:22am at the Sam Ramon Marriott Hotel time to pack up and head home...)
The quest into Caliban, 5th Edition mod, was entertaining for sure. My good friend Joseph "Ickbard" took the reins to DM much of the scenario (his first convention run) and, man alive, does dude know his 5e!

We had a 100% show with Chris, er Bill (j.k.) running his fighter, Albort's halfling sorcerer, Dan the eldritch knight, Matthew's half-tiefling lycanthrope barbarian, Tiffany's lawful good cleric, Rob's fate spinner (ha, damn that class is a pain in the ass for dungeon master's), Jeff and the halfling rogue, finally Eric with Sven the Champion!

Other than the noise and side-bar conversations it seemed to run well and everyone stayed to the 2:00am end, which is unusual for a Friday night convention game. I am very appreciative of the group for sure!

So thoughts number 1, the overland and dangers outside Caliban went very well. Got the players where they were supposed to be and properly set the mood of the unnatural-ness of the tower even in an average fantasy world.

Second, though, the interior had too many empty spaces for a convention game. I had supposed "neutral" descriptions for the vacant rooms which everyone (including Joe) played around with for awhile. Unfortunately, no treasure in these places so, well, there you go.

Thirdsies was that the dungeon could have been deadlier except I didn't understand enough about the fate-spinner to figure out how the baddies would counter some of the spinner's effects which were pretty profound.

Last, I have come to the conclusion that running for 8 players, in a convention setting where folks may not know each other and I certainly don't know them, is probably more difficult than it needs to be getting everyone engaged. Probably a hack and slash would be easier, but investigation relies heavily on the sneaks and investigative types for long stretches between combat which can detach more combative types.

Next Year:
  1. Run for no more than 6 players and keep a grip on side bar convos;
  2. Make sure encounters link up with mostly quick interludes (may be room for a sneaky bit, but make it the exception rather than the norm);
  3. Ha, and still this is always my Achilles heal, try to balance out some concluding encounter that starts to manifest around midnight.
Preview for next year? Maybe I'll run Under the Storm Giant's Caste? "Pins pins kill the pins!"

Saturday, February 9, 2019

All Queued Up for DunDraCon #43

Whew! Completed my 5th Edition conversion of Dave Hargrave's Arduin Dungeon #1 "Caliban" (1979) with five days to spare. A kind soul on the soon-to-be-ex Google+ Arduin Community gifted me some weapon card write-ups, and I was like "Oh $hit! I forgot about cards!" Dave Hargrave was big on handing out cards for magik items, and providing monster cards for DMs to use.

You can still purchase the Arduin Fantasy Card Collection from Emperors Choice on DriveThruRPG. Sadly none of the dungeon modules are presently available with their particular cards.

I used the card template that was shared with me to re-do the original basically OD&D write-ups to 5th Edition with somewhat funky results, but close enough for rock & roll.

It is also unfortunate that there is no clear way for any fan conversions to be publicly released to keep some of this Arduin fantasy alive. Of course Dave did "borrow" a ton of his ideas from other sources, which means a lot of the time there is a legally acceptable way to create a stat block based on Dave's third party source material. Emperor's choice, since they are sitting on the lion's share of Arduin intellectual property, ought to come up with some way to utilize the fan base to generate interest in the old Arduin classics.

Conversions into 5th Edition were fairly straightforward, probably the most I fudged on were experience points (ha, so am I that bad to think PCs level too fast?). Mostly I could find some root critter that was an aspect of what Dave had imagined, then just build in the other attributes. Many of Dave's beasties are amalgams of various thinks: Octopus-gorilla, Shadow and Titan, centaur-medusa, basilisk and griffin, etc. Easy-peasy to write up.

The magic items were fun too. Only trying to consider which ones required attunement was taxing.

The supporting gazette is the thing I wish I could share publicly. Around 50 pages of Arduin monsters, spells, and magik items. Oh well... Fight On Friday February 15th!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Firday Night "Official" Game at DunDraCon 43

102 Caliban
Friday 6 PM in 154 for 8 hr; ends Session 1
System: Dungeons & Dragons 5.0; 8 players
GM: Matt Morrison (Matrox Lusch)
Variations: d6 ‘party’ initiative
Level: 8th+
Rules Knowledge: Useful
Game Content: Mainstream
Players provide their own characters
Adrift in time and ghosting through distance, Caliban is like the Flying Dutchman of dungeons. Seldom seen, even less visited, Caliban now wanders aimlessly, awaiting only the gods know what.

Hmmmm, room 154. That's either the "Flower People" game room or (I believe this) right next to it. I suppose I'll figure the history out when I see which side of the door the bathroom is on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Secrets of Blackmoor Kickstarter

Blackmoor tribute painting by Kevin Mayle.
There is a very important piece of gaming history being finalized that y'all should back in the Kickstarter, The Secrets of Blackmoor. (Fudge, I had a bad link...) Basically detailing how Dave Arneson invented the role-playing structure of what came to be Dungeons & Dragons, the actual mechanic of a player being responsible for a single fantasy hero with the idea of a referee providing the scene and the essential question "What do you do?"

It is funny, because even back in the day (from 1979 or a little later) there was this discussion our group had about Gygax versus Arneson style. This was probably provoked by the common knowledge that AD&D first edition's effect was to pretty much shut out Dave Arneson as an author of D&D (Dave was listed on the OD&D books and the Blackmoor supplement, but excluded from AD&D).

Our group was firmly in the Judges Guild Wilderlands camp of settings even though we also had Greyhawk campaigns, and bought into the bizarre mix of the fantasy and discrete sci-fi influences from City State of the Invincible Overlord and Dave Arneson's First Fantasy Campaign about Blackmoor and published by Judges Guild.

Also, for better or worse, Gygax was often affiliated with the "DM vs Player Character" mode with dungeons designed to kill and ferret out the truly "best" players, rather than cooperative exploration and breathless team combat.

The stripped-down nature of Judges Guild and Dave Arneson's Lands of Blackmoor left open the areas for modification and exploration not only by player characters, but also for the Game Judges who ran the game. Everything was messier which is the way we roll...

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Arctic Cat & Pin-Cushions

(White elf cleric in snow*)
Midnight hour approaches and adventurers' dreams spersed of huge spider grinding sexually against wizardly human - pincers dripping ichor against his head.

As party awakens from troubled visions, Druid at guard indicates a quint of holy warriors moving forward in the snow, accompanied, Lizard-cleric recognizes, with his allies the Half-orc barbarian and elf mage-thief. Lizard-cleric wonders strange what brings together across the multiverse.

Group approaches and board druid's earthen platform, when Lizard-cleric's expansive infravision spies a lone being standing off several yards behind the interplanar arrivals. Apparently a white-haired elf woman, attired in ivory-beaded jewelry and bearing a largish white cat in her arms.

Haughty paladins charge at female through snow, who sets aside feline and unleashes a column of ice upon the devout cavaliers. As a paladin reaches elfin enchantress at her position, she has vanished. Instead, bearing across the snow plain is a ship of elves unleashing volleys of damaging arrows.
(White Elves' snow runner*)
The craft circles at long arrow-distance to avoid direct combat (Lizard-cleric does knock-off crow's nest inhabitant), and our heroes regroup when druid is attacked by the white cat! The lynx-sized creature slashes at druid's throat simultaneously unleashing a spell of debilitating noxious clouds.

While the adventurer's gather themselves against the missile weapons, Lizard-cleric and human Paladin are able to defeat cat from slaying druid. But suddenly the white elves' snow-ship is bearing down again from the opposite side. Running full speed, apparently aware of the region's topography but yet unaware of druid's earthen platform, the snow-runner crashes it's starboard side against the druid's elemental-piled earth and careens off in a spin.

Even disabled the white elves quickly regroup to arrow-attack, when druid confuses having shape-changed into lynxish white cat whom white elves do revere as commander.

White elves are defeated being unable to withstand mage-thief's fireballs, although a half-dozen escape, and the party examines their bone-crafted weapons and accouterments. The craft itself seems to bear some directional indicators - a bone-spur of cut sundial surrounded by cardinal points with interlineated markings and a rotating pointer under glass.

Perhaps indicators to the elves' base, or some other adventures...

(*White Elf slightly mod from Luka Rejek's art. Larry Elmore drew snow runner without elves.)

Friday, October 12, 2018

OSR Guide For The Perplexed Questionnaire

1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me: http://ixians.blogspot.com/2010/12/humanspace-empires.html
2. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark: "Thayt Chevski, hye is ane rottah. I liketh him notte ande blayme hyme gretely. Lette hym bee beyten withe stikkes." -- Chaucer
3. Best OSR module/supplement: “Carcosa” by Geoffrey McKinney
4. My favorite house rule (by someone else): Zak S. 5th Ed. OSR Hack “Death & Dismemberment”
5. How I found out about the OSR: Gestalt over time since 2008, I suppose starting with http://grognardia.blogspot.com/
6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy: http://www.thewingless.com/forge/forge.htm
7. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers: Google+
8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games: Google Blogspot comments
9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough: https://www.dropbox.com/s/244p1pe4qmkw6nw/ChasmoftheDrow.pdf?dl=0
10. My favorite non-OSR RPG: I do not presently have one, Call of Cthulhu 7th ed maybe?
11. Why I like OSR stuff: Because there is a tendency to go beyond the rated PG-13.
12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet: “Weird Adventures” by Trey Causey and “Narcosa” by a bunch of folks.
13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be: http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/
14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/175958/Underport-Abyssal-Descent?src=slider_view
15. I'm currently running/playing: Gently modified 5th ed in future dystopian Wilderlands (loosely… “Frosbitten & Mutilated” for Wild North; ‘Vornheim” for Veridistan, “Narcosa” for Elphand Lands, “World of the Lost” for Valley of the Ancients & Glow Worm Steppes; “Yoon-Suin” for CSIO; “Cinderheim” for The Desert Lands; and “Monolith Beyond Time and Space” for Blackmoor.)
16. I don't care whether you use ascending or descending AC because: Ascend and Descend convert seamlessly.
17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice: