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

Monday, March 19, 2018

Tex Ar-friggin-Cana...

(Tex Arcana #1, page 1)
Back in the days of yester-yore There was this artsy sci-fi & fantasy magazine called Heavy Metal that during the summer of 1981 (gawd, the summer between my junior & senior years of high school. Pretty much a blur, kinda fuzzy at least due to better living through chemicals... and beer) became mass-popularized by this artsy sci-fi fantasy movie called Heavy Metal.

Well, somewhere thereabouts 1980 I got me a subscription to the magazine, which was awesome (Mobius) and in March 1981 began following this here serial, Tex-Arcana, written and drawn by this dude, John Findley. The serial became intermittent at times, and had a break, and I let my subscription lapse and lost track.

Anyhow, I don't know what got me to thinking about ol' Tex Arcana, but I learned John has a Tex Arcana website that used to have all the comic episodes. Now it only has Book 4, "The Ballod of the Witch's Daughter."

However, through the magic of the Wayback Machine, you can read all the books, Tex Arcana from the beginning, here (a might teeny bit slower than normal). And you really should...

Friday, February 2, 2018

Channeling the D&D...

(c. April 15, 1977)
This is a piece of my "art" I found from age 12, just 9 months or so before I began gaming Dungeons and Dragons. Mostly my other doodles were rocket ships and race cars. I would say I was primed.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

DunDraCon Night of the Walking Wet...

DunDraCon Game #106 Night of the Walking Wet
Friday 6 PM in 163 for 8 hours
Room Map
GM: Matt Morrison
Type: RPG
System: Dungeons & Dragons (hybrid)
Edition: see web desc.
Players: 6
Provided: Characters may be provided by GM
Power Level: 5th
Variations: d6 'party' initiative, various homebrew rolls
Rules Knowledge: Useful
Game Content: Mainstream
One night, not more than a century past, a bright light streaked across the heavens, rocking the earth as it impacted Scum Swamp. Days later, a wandering priest was heard from no more. Strange things were happening in the swamp. Rumors of hobgoblins massing in their fens, villagers disappearing in the swamp at night, and strange robed men asking for direction to Castle Krake. Tales of huge monsters in the rivers and the appearance of large ogreish slime zombies soon helped to empty out what little population was left in Krake Borough. The True Gods want to see this foul blasphemy destroyed once and for all, but are not really interested in doing it themselves. Thus they seek others to quest it for them... An OD&D adventure written by Jennell Jaquays, Randy Cox, & Tamara Wieland and originally published by Chuck Anshell and Judges Guild in two parts of "The Dungeoneer," issues 5 & 6, in 1977.
Adopted for DunDraCon to modernish versions of the World's Most Popular Role-Playing Game.Hybrid D20 (3.0, 3.5, 5 all will work; AD&D/OD&D ok if you already have a character)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

40th Anniversary...

Basic Set advertisement from 1977-78 T$R catalog.
It was 40 years ago today that Dr. John, whose X-mas lies 2 days yet post from his birthday, received a combo birthday/X-mas present of the John Eric Holme's Basic Set to The World's Most-Popular Role-Playing Game.

Winter break mid-8th grade, I believe the first week of January Dr. John introduced to the game myself, Sumerled, The Boy with the Bark, and Bark & Dr. John's cousin Cathie. (Perhaps the last week of December, I would have to check an old school calendar for when break ended - I know we played solid for at least a week to 10 days or so...) No dungeons to start with, only Dungeon Geomorphs Set 1 and Monster and Treasure Assortment: Levels One to Three, but that was enough to put things in motion for our little suburban clan.

I haven't recently asked the good doctor from whom he received this wonderful present. He probably told me back in the day, but I had forgotten.

The twenty-sider I bought back then in the set of plastic dice had been rolled so many times that by maybe the mid-late 1980's it crumbled into pieces that I put back together with JB Weld. Ha, it is still in the dice set I gifted to our middlin' son. What a journey to begin from a simple gift.

Happy days.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Night of the Walking Wet...

"Night of the Walking Wet" at DunDraCon
Here is my "official" dungeon entry to run at DunDraCon #42 over President's Day weekend in 2018. The adventure is 40 years old, from an D&D fan 'zine "The Dungeoneer" back in 1977 that I updated to my particular flavor of modern, D20 rules.

The challenge is trying to find the sweet-spot for player character's level.

I've seen this recommended as written for OD&D (or "reloaded" for AD&D) at 6th-7th level parties, but I have found that the d20 editions (3, 3.5, 5) characters tend to run a little hotter in terms of damage per round. I wanted to set the level at 4th also because folks invariably bring in some PC slightly higher level than requested.

In the end as I was going through the encounters, I thought, "What the heck," gave the PC's a bit of a higher margin at 5th level. The main difference being how often the party has an opportunity to rest up. (Heh, heh, heh...)

This also seems to be the year of the "Walking Wet" as North Texas RPG Association for 2017 published a special "Dungeoneer Revisited" version of the adventure with a new forward by the author, Jennell Jaquays, to raise money to cover some health expenses for one of that convention's co-founders.

By the way, Jennell authored for Judges Guild two of the most iconic third party stand-alone D&D modules, Dark Tower and Caverns of Thracia. Her environments were intriguing to me as they often involved 3-dimensional interactions between encounter areas rather the typical strung-together, isolated flat pancake levels, one on top of the other and of denizens ne'er the twain shall meet.
Dark Tower, dungeon side view...
In Dark Tower, only the tops of the opposed temples presented at the surface. Adventuring was down through one and up through the other. Night of the Walking Wet also utilizes interesting vertical setting.

My long-running 1979-80 paladin, Lord Richard the Saintly, cavorted around in artifacts from Dark Tower's Temple of Mitra: Mitra's Eye (an amulet), Mitra's Favor (ring), Girding of Mitra (belt), and The Heart of Law (magical glowing gem)...
Lord Richard the Saintly
Ok, so if you're at DunDraCon February 16 and 17, 2018 look me up. 😁

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Gateway Outside the Circles of Time

The party ponders the strange, red-metal vehicle as red lights flash splash on and off to the south from the uniformed men around the southern corner up the street west. Soon the adventurers hear the engines of vehicles and sounds as if the uniformed men are driving away.

Man-with-no-name moves to take a closer peek through the car door Grady had unlocked, looking at the undulating, pearly image within the gem-like crusted frame only to have an sudden bare eyeball peer from the opposite side. Momentarily startled, the man leans back as blackened, smoky tentacles reach out and grasp the man's head and shoulders with painful barbs.
Mirror Eye
Man-with-no-name's face is drawn toward the orifice, he glimpses a desolate, fiery landscape where several robed personages appear to be congregating or cavorting with some demonic, aberrational creature. The adventurer feels himself be drowning down through a portal...
Vision of Cultists
In a lurch the half-orc barbarian, Groug, kicks vehicle's door closed on the blackened tentacles, chopping off their tips as the ends disappear in smoky tendrils freeing Man-with-no-name. As the smoke clears the party sees McQueef the half-orc barbarian has returned.

As the party pauses and unmarked white van approaches through the darkness. As everyone dives to either side of the street, the van passes and various tubes and equipment at viewed inside.
Unmarked Ambulance
The van continues on to the and of the street and turns to the back of the university library. The group in front of a library entrance notice the door is ajar. Man-with-no-name sees the key fob Grady left in the car door has a differently-shaped key from that of the vehicle and surmises that the fishy-folk may have entered through this entrance. Trying the key on the open door the key is discovered to fit perfectly.

During the meanwhile, elven thief-mage followed the white van down to the rear of the library and spies 2 humans, a man and a woman dressed in business attire, exit the van to remove a rolling gurney, then enter a back door of the university library. Elf chooses to stake out the van while the rest of the party (Man-with-no-name, McQueef, Groug, Lizard-cleric, and paladin) enters the library through the unlocked door on the street.

The heroes inside see the two human agents walk past down a hall and follow them to a set of mechanical, sliding doors. Inside the doors was a small box-like room with several buttons on the wall, and one button at the very bottom with a key-hole in it. Man-with-no-name tries the library key and it fits. The mechanical doors close and the room is felt to descend.

Mechanical doors open to a darkened, large basement seeming filled with rows of crates or tables. As the party moves to investigate, growls are heard and smokey apparitions resolve into hound-like creatures with blue-metallic hides, thin canine bodies, and bat-like faces exhaling steamy mist. Lizard-cleric realizes a similarity to the metallic hounds that appear as the blue marble counts down and, pulling the marble from his belt-pouch, see the counter is perhaps going to signal dimensional shift. As Lizard-cleric moves off green glowing orb rises claiming "I am the sum of all evil..." as the blue marble flies from Lizard-cleric's hand into the orb! The party is momentarily stunned.
Hounds from Nowhere and Orb
During the meanwhile, Elf hears squeaky wheels and views agent-looking man and woman moving some rolling table draped in a large, white, bloodies sheet. The agents move around back of van and Elf lies in wait toward the front, listening as the van doors open and close. The agents move off around the building corner as elf follows when... AMBUSH! The agent are waiting and grapple Elf.

Retreating from the basement up the elevator, the adventurers decide to move on down the hall to see whether agents have returned to the van. Exiting the library building, gasping grunts from Elf manifest and heroes attack - arrows and swords merely passing through agents without causing harm. But McQueef strikes with his invulnerable gauntlet knocking the male agent off of Elf. Surprised, the two agents then scamper like bugs, spider-climbing up the side of the library several stories to the roof.

Permitting for a moment for the agents to bugger off, Man-with-no-name opens the rear of the van. Inside is a large, worm-like creature with a human face, beaten and lifeless. In the Man-with-no-name's minds comes a thought, "... the Librarian."
The Librarian
The party decides action must be taken. First they open the doors to the red-metal vehicle and simultaneously run the gurney into the vehicle along with the worm creature, attracting the tentacles, then explode it by focusing their alien-tech laser weapons on the vehicle to heat the craft until it explodes in a fiery ball. Satisfied, the adventurers relax when Paladin glances up toward the heavens. Unfortunately, a gargantuan amoeba-looking monster peers through many red eyes back down. Adventurers once more retreat, running southward away from this new terror.
New Terror
Run, run the heroes move, out beyond a gate and paved street. They spy a lone, humanoid figure standing in doorway beneath sign reading "Toad Lounge" when to surprise they move in surrounding the hapless commoner. Startled, it is a young man who says "Hey, I'm Juan. I only work here..."

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Page After Page After Page After ...

(D&D Bloat)
An almost 10-year-old, but still interesting, chart from Chris Tregenza at the 6D6 blog indicating D&D - History and Growth from its inception in 1974 up through the introduction of 4e in 2008.

The chart shows the number of pages of rules published each year as well as the average pages of rules over an edition's lifespan.

Says Chris, "What is clear is that between the 1st and 2nd edition, there was a huge jump in the number of rule books produced and that the general trend is for large systems with shorter life spans."

Ha, our group used AD&D 1st ed. from 1978 until 2005 (28 years), v.3.5 from 2005-2011 (6 years), and our 1e/3.5 hybrid from 2012-2017 (5 years and counting).