Wednesday 25 December 2013

Summary of the Year 2013

It has been a good year for me and great first year for my blog. As I now hit the Publish button, I have produced 42 blog posts, and the blog has received more than 12,000 total pageviews. I believe it is worth mentioning that the five most viewed posts were (1) Starting a Megadungeon Campaign, (2) Alternate Rule for Paralysis, (3) Rappan Atuk - Classes, (4) Vikings & Valkyries, Session 1, and (5) Rappan Athuk - Session Zero.

For fun, I did some text analyses. Based on my blog posts, Typealizer, for instance, proposed that I am of the ISTP type. Another analysis by resulted in the following: " is probably written by a male somewhere between 66-100 years old. The writing style is academic and happy most of the time."; I may not be that old, but it was flattering to read that my blog "is the 326th most manly blog of 17,730 ranked".

What follows is a list of games I played or ran this year, other game-related things I did, some things I wanted to do but did not, and, finally, my game-related plans for the next year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Review: Arcana Rising

Now that the final version of this game hit the electronic shelves, it is time I wrote a review of it. To be clear, I was a backer of the Kickstarter project, and I was paying much attention to the development of the game since the first beta; otherwise, I have no affiliations with the author whatsoever.

So, Arcana Rising is an urban fantasy role-playing game; it takes place in a contemporary setting to which magic has been recently brought back by Russian scientists' drilling down into Lake Vostok, apparently breaching the seal that warded the source of magic. From the first two and a half pages we get to know how the Atlanteans ruled thousands of years ago, how their kingdom fell, and how magic was locked away; then a few paragraphs about role-playing games, dice conventions, Rule No. 0, and then we get a summary of character creation.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Vikings & Valkyries - Session Five

Session 5 (October 26, 2013)

(Back to Session 1)

I am very much late with this play report, so let me just get through it quickly.

The current party of adventurers:
  • Harald Greentooth (Viking 2), veteran javelin-thrower and spear-wielder
  • Jormund (Sorcerer 2), cunning sorcerer
  • Gottfried Flogasson (Prince 1), designated tank of the party, also of noble heritage
  • Esya Valdensdottir (Huntress 1), a hunter living in the forest
  • Freydís (Priestess of Freya 1), a priestess coming from a secluded community of Frey-worshippers

Thursday 7 November 2013

Rappan Athuk - Session Three

Session 3 (October 15, 2013)

(Back to Session 1)

This report should've been written two weeks ago. Now I don't remember every detail and my mind is occupied with other things. In fact, I only finished it because I didn't want it to be missing. I intend to continue with this, I'm just busy right now.

The party included the following characters:
  • Azureus (Magic-User 1)
  • The Baron (Fighter 1)
  • Bolwír (Fighter 1)
  • Starbucks (Fighter 1) and Starbucks Junior (light infantry)
The highlights of the session were the following:
  • The party entered the dungeon through the Mouth of Doom and found themselves in a room of many doors, one of which (the one with the carving of a goat-face above it, claims one of the partying adventurers) turned out to be a false door with a pit trap in front of it.
  • The eastern exit lead them to a couple of outlaws, hiding from the authorities. The party killed all of them but one; he joined the murderous company in hopes of staying alive.
  • The party fought some skeletons and, after an intermezzo with the bandits, a mummy-like creature (fortunately, they managed to kill it before it could rise from its grave).
  • They were surprised by a bunch of bandits, who led them to their base of operations within the dungeon. There they met their leader, found a girl (possibly Emily, daughter of Bernard), and received a quest which would require their descending to the second level.

Friday 1 November 2013

Vikings & Valkyries: XP and Advancement

The following house rule suggestion was made with Vikings & Valkyries in mind (which means it also works as written with Mazes & Minotaurs), though I believe it would work with other iterations of The Classic Fantasy Game.

The default rules for advancement in Vikings & Valkyries (a little bit simplified) are as follows: Warriors, Magicians, and Specialists earn Glory, Wisdom, and Experience, respectively, through different actions (Glory by fighting monsters and doing heroic deeds, Wisdom by fighting magical beasts and experiencing the supernatural, Experience by using skills). This means the incentives are different for each character (and also quite similar to what Roger describes as "XP for means"), which I would like to avoid as much as possible. Furthermore, I would like my reward system to be more directly related to deeds of legend, even if that means less generic and more campaign specific rules.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Rappan Athuk - Session Two

Session 2 (October 10, 2013)

(Back to Session 1)

The present party:
  • Azureus (Magic-User 1)
  • Erik (Fighter 1)
  • Ozborn (Cleric of the Sun God 1) and Milkiway (archer)
  • Starbucks (Fighter 1), and Starbucks Junior (light infantry)
The major events were the following:
  • The party returned to the mausoleum where they left an animate corpse wearing a ring. Long story short, said undead lost his ring and his head, as well.
  • Entering the main mausoleum the party figured out the puzzle to enter Rappan Athuk; unfortunately, members of the adventuring party refused to share the secret. The only thing they mentioned was a fight with two skeletons black as coal.
  • The party, due to sheer luck, successfully avoided a dangerous trap; they also marked its place with white chalk.
  • They encountered a bunch of ratlings, who shared some useful information with the party: (1) the northern half of the first level, as the party suspected, is the territory of the infamous Dung Monster, (2) the western corridor leads to the second level, home to a group of ogres, and (3) the river supposedly leads to a temple of sorts.
  • The ratlings also offered some vials of poison in exchange for eliminating Ambro, the leader of the ogres.
  • The party encountered the Dung Monster; reasoning with it seemed to be less than fruitful (all it cared about was food), and eventually they had to run away.
It was a much less fruitful delve than the first one; the party only recovered 247gp worth of treasure (compared to 3170gp for the last time). Nevertheless, they have explored most of the first main level and have a rough idea what else is about to come. Furthermore, the rumours and quests also helped in certain situations, which is exactly why I devised them in the first place.

(Next session)

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Rappan Athuk - Recruiting Henchmen

It may be wise for a party of adventurers to hire additional muscle; henchmen are zero-level NPCs who fight alongside the PCs. Their statistics are the following: HP (1d6), AC (determined by armour), and Morale (7 + employer's CHA modifier).

There is a limit of how many henchmen may follow one particular player character (the modifiers are cumulative):
  • the base limit is 2
  • +1 if CHA modifier is positive
  • -1 if CHA modifier is negative
  • +1 if 4th level or higher
  • +1 if 8th level or higher
It is generally true that seeing luxury lures more brave and foolish people than poverty; the players are able to manipulate the number and quality of possible henchmen by spending gold between sessions as shown below (note, these amounts must be spent in addition to other purchases as they represent drinking festivals, victory feasts, luxurious wakes, and oh-my-god-we're-alive orgies).
  • Zero GP: 3d6; each 5 is a light infantry and each 6 is a light archer
  • 100 GP: 3d8; as above, plus each 7 is a heavy infantry and each 8 is a crossbowman
  • 200 GP: 3d10; as above, plus each 9 is a barbarian and each 10 is a swordsman
  • 500 GP: 3d12; as above, plus each 11-12 is a special henchmen rolled on an upcoming table
The number of dice rolled may also be increased by spending the initial cost multiple times or 50gp for the base option (for instance, for 400gp players may choose 4d10 or 6d8), but no more than 10 dice can be rolled.

Below you find the base statistics, equipment, and hiring cost of the different henchmen types:
  • light infantry, 10 GP (leather, spear)
  • archer, 15 GP (leather, short bow, 2 quivers, dagger)
  • heavy infantry, 20 GP (chain, spear)
  • crossbowman, 30 GP (chain, light crossbow, 2 quivers, dagger)
  • barbarian, 40 GP (leather, great axe)
  • swordsman, 50 GP (chain, shield, sword)
After surviving the first expedition, henchmen earn a name and the ability to advance as they survive further expeditions. After each session, their master has the option of paying them an extra 100 GP, for which one of the following bonuses may be chosen (each may only be taken once): (1) +1 to damage rolls, (2-3) increase HD by one, (4) improve AC by 1 point, and (5-6) increase morale by 1 point.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Underworld Lore - Magical Gems

The following magical gems were written for a community project of Gorgonmilk.

Amber Stones of Lahrissima

It is believed that upon defeating and imprisoning Lahrissima, the Mistress of Dormant Hatred and Familial Murder, the thirteen gemstones used to fuel her powers were extracted from her body and sold to anonymous collectors; no one knows, however, where they are now, and only a few would realise how immense power they are capable of holding.

Each of these gems grant an extra spell per day (without limiting of which level the spell must be) as long as they are in the possession of a Magic-User. If such a gem is surgically installed to the body of a female spell caster, she may choose a single spell of level 3 or less and gains the ability to cast that spell 3 times per day, in addition to memorised spells. The operation, however, is not without risks; a failed Save vs. Death results in the following (roll 1d4):
  1. The caster's body starts to rot slowly; her STR, DEX, and CON scores are drained 1 point per week permanently, unless she regularly tastes the flesh of children.
  2. The caster's skin, nails, and teeth become amber-coloured, her fingers grow unnaturally long, and her touch petrifies food and water.
  3. The caster's menstrual blood, as if some strange ooze, escapes during the night and finds shelter somewhere away from the sunlight (abandoned well, sewers, dungeons, etc.), where it slowly grows into a Lesser Blood Elemental.
  4. The caster dies; her body immediately rises as an Amber Wraith (it is also the standard outcome of the surgery with male patients).

Cyclamen Orb of Inhuman Voracity

Skeletons enhanced with such a gem are capable of detecting life forms from 120'; they also gain an extra bite attack, dealing 1d6 damage. A living creature carrying an Orb feels insatiable hunger all the time, which ultimately results in the consumption of completely inedible materials and objects (roll a Save vs. Spells to resist such a strong urge for 1d4 days). The upside is that the character also gains the extra bite attack and the ability to detect life within 120'.

Eye of Chaotic Power

One into whose eye socket this gem of swirling colours is implanted has access to a random ability, changing each time the creature makes a successful attack or suffers the effects of one (roll 1d6):
  1. see invisible creatures and objects
  2. petrifying gaze (saving throw negates)
  3. darkvision (120')
  4. mistake friends for enemies and vice versa
  5. gain the ability to shoot heat rays from eyes that deal 2d6 fire damage (Save vs. Wands for half damage)
  6. confusing gaze (Save vs. Wands or as per Confuse)

Seeds of the Eternal Forest

Skeletons enhanced with these brown oval seeds are very territorial in nature and furiously defend their surroundings (+2 to-hit and damage); it also appears that their bones are covered in brownish bark (AC improved by 2), which is very much like a living tree (double damage from axes and fire). When one of these seeds touches the ground, a Guardian of the Eternal Forest grows there within 1d3 exploration turns.

Friday 4 October 2013

Rappan Athuk - Session One

Session 1 (October 3, 2013)

Due to sickness on my part, we could only start the campaign this week. Three players were present for the first session, during which they talked to dead guys, killed an undead knight, and looted some nifty items.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Workday Ramblings - Rules and Rulings in RPGs

This post is my long response to a comment on a blog post; I also thought about many things during writing it so it became somewhat incoherent and it does not have that nice structure I crave for. Nevertheless, I though it deserved its own post.

Over Monsters and Manuals, there is a post dealing with how different it is to enter the role-playing hobby to entering some sports game (i.e. to become familiar with the rules and how they are played). I am actually not that interested in the main discussion but in something Lucky said in the comments:
Where the analogy breaks down for me is that in sports, the devil is in the details. The rules are not an abstraction in sports the way they are in RPGs, where you're trying to collect a multitude of things into a smaller set of rules. In sports, those things ARE the game. The challenge and enjoyment of sports is in trying to accomplish a simple goal under a complex set of dos and don'ts. At least for me, RPGs are about trying to accomplish (sometimes) complex goals under a simple set of rules. In sports, it pays to know all the rules, because you're bound by them. In RPGs, both the DM and the players can hand wave to their hearts content.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Fate and Doom

In the sixth issue of the Minotaur, Igor A. Rivendell introduced the Fate/Doom mechanics to Mazes & Minotaurs (for which boxes later appeared on the Vikings & Valkyries character sheet designed by Rubén Navarro, rising to a sort of "semi-official" status - at least, that is how I see it). Below I first describe the original mechanics, point out some aspects it covers and others it does not, and finally introduce my own, not yet playtested, version of the rule. It was designed with Vikings & Valkyries in mind, but with minimal tweaking it should be applicable to most D&D-esque systems.

(I would like to thank my Vikings & Valkyries group for reading and commenting on this sub-system, Gábor Palkó and Kapitány, and especially ZeroDivide for his keen insights. Thank you guys!)

Monday 16 September 2013

Rappan Athuk - Session Zero

Below you find invaluable information about Rappan Athuk: a list of known entrances, circulating rumours, quests to take, and followers ready for hiring. The campaign hopefully starts in no later than a week or two from now; if you are interested, send me an e-mail, a u2u on LFG.HU, or post a comment here (as of now, the game is run in Hungarian).

For those of you who do not participate in this campaign but currently are or sometime will be delving through Rappan Athuk, proceed reading at your own risk (the long way of saying spoiler alert).

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Horrors of the Screaming Forest PDF

Over the odd74 forum there was a Delving Deeper adventure writing contest in which I participated. Unfortunately, I only started working on my entry a week prior to the deadline, and because of that I had to cut the content (I thought it would detail twice or thrice as many locations). Someday, I will definitely do it.

Anyhow, without further ado, I present to you my first adventure shared with the community, the Horrors of the Screaming Forest. Having just started, I can already say there is going to be more: there is a community dungeon being published in a Hungarian old-school e-zine (Kazamata) level by level, and it is my honour to write the next level (Süvöltő Gépezetek Csarnokai; something like Halls of the Wuthering Machines) for the upcoming issue - and I definitely intend to share it with English-speakers as well.

Monday 2 September 2013

Alternate Rule for Paralysis

In standard D&D rules, ghouls' paralysing attacks work something like this: (1) ghouls need a successful attack against a target, (2) target makes a saving throw, (3) if it fails, they are paralysed, and effectively, out of the game, for a given time. It makes ghouls, and other paralysing creatures, fearsome, but also boring. It takes away the tension regular combat achieves as one's HP drops round by round, circulating closer and closer to their inevitable doom.

Some editions of the game (3rd and 4th) try to solve this problem by allowing characters to make a save against such an effect each round. It might not be a bad idea, but it also lessens the power of ghouls, plus there is a lot of extra rolls involved.

Justin over The Alexandrian offers a different solution: he proposes that these attacks deal ability damage instead, both extending the generally ablative nature of combat to such situations and maintaining their seriousness (1d6 or 2d6 temporary damage to an ability may not be lethal, but a couple others have a great chance of debilitating your character; thanks to dice rolling, it varies a lot). My problem with this variant is that one is required to keep several totals of damage: one for HP and possibly one for each ability.

In -C's On the Non-player Character, social combat is resolved through regular attacks dealing subdual damage and checking its total against the target's HP to determine whether it has a minor, major, or no effect on the target.

This system could be used for paralysis (or actually any other "save-or-die" effect). A successful attack and a failed saving throw would result in the accumulation of subdual damage (probably 1d8 for B/X and 1d6 for 0e types of games); the minor effect could be along the lines of the shaken condition (-2 to attack rolls), while the major effect would be ye olde paralysis. If neither effect would be triggered, the paralysis damage would convert to standard non-lethal damage, as usual.

Also, one could eliminate the need for a saving throw by penalising such attacks with -4 as other types of non-lethal attacks; the target's AC could be (10 - 1/2 HD - Con modifier). This way, ghouls would have the option of attacking regularly or trying to paralyse the characters, if different types of attacks are your thing.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Rappan Athuk - Stages of Play

What follows is a detailed gameplay description of my forthcoming Rappan Athuk megadungeon campaign. I tried to make it as thorough yet simple as possible, but I am sure there may still be parts unclear to some, so I encourage those who are interested in either playing or are simply into the idea of such a campaign to articulate their questions or concerns.

To be sure you understand the context in which the following applies, read my proposition for the campaign and possibly the description of the available classes (it comes particularly handy for typical exploration activities).

To put it simply, the game consists of the following parts: (1) first, the players are given information about the dungeon so they can plan ahead, buy proper equipment, and hire qualified followers; (2) then actual dungeon crawling is resolved with exploration, friendly encounters, and deadly combats galore; (3) finally, they return to base, sell loot, and spend some money. Below, you find detailed description for each stage, procedures that have to be followed, and some of the rules that help resolve the situations that arise.

Friday 23 August 2013

Rappan Athuk - Classes

Below you can find the re-worked versions of the four basic classes that are going to be available for players in the Rappan Athuk campaignNote, that certain advanced classes and special abilities can be unlocked in play (see Talysman's Leech and Apothecary to get the idea).

Before describing each class, some general notions:
  • There are no Prime Requisite abilities, thus no bonus XP.
  • The given base XP is for 2nd level; it doubles for each level thereafter (e.g. a base XP of 2,000 means 4,000 for 3rd and 32,000 for 6th level).
  • There are no weapon or armour restrictions. Spell-casting, however, is impossible in metal armour and takes twice as much time in leather armour (thus, usually 2 rounds). Also, some other actions may be penalised or even forbidden in armour. For our purposes, "changing" takes 1 full turn.

Monday 19 August 2013

Rappan Athuk - Starting a Megadungeon Campaign

Since I got my hands on a pdf copy of Rappan Athuk Reloaded (available on rpgnow), I have been thinking about running it. Then the new edition came out (which was reviewed by Bryce Lynch, if you are interested), and I really wanted to run this baby of monstrous beauty. So, that is exactly what I am going to do. Below you find a couple of my thoughts on the campaign, a sort of "design goals" that I intend to accomplish.

Mind you, this is going to be a Google+ game, for now, run in Hungarian.

To sum it up:
  • an exploration-driven campaign
  • XP awarded only for treasure recovered
  • extensive use of rumours and quests
  • limited number of town activities
  • unique magic items (except for potions, scrolls, and wands)
  • B/X-esque base + house rules

Thursday 8 August 2013

Keeping Score

D&D has an explicit goal (i.e. looting treasure from dungeons), and one's accomplishments towards this end are clearly reflected in their XP total, which could easily work as a sort of score table. How about emphasising this aspect of the game?

The main goal of the game would be levelling up without dying. Achieving any particular level would earn the players points equal to said level squared (i.e. 4 points for lvl-2, 9 for lvl-3, 16 for lvl-4, etc.); losing a character would deduce a number of points equal to the inclusive sum of 1 to the lost character's level (thus 1 for lvl-1, 3 for lvl-2, 6 for lvl-3, etc.).

I would further add that the death of a henchmen also result in the loss of 1 point, thus hiring henchmen became a more complex tactical decision (i.e. not only monetary cost and number of henchmen were to be considered, but also the possibility of losing a few points) and they became more than simple meatshields. To compensate for this, I would probably give each henchmen a particular skill or asset that make them useful companions.

In order to make this work and the pace of earning points matter, the Referee needed to introduce some sort of constraint on the length of the campaign, possibly something that is independent of the players. In many board games the number of turns is fixed at the beginning of the game; Beedo's Black City Project comes to mind as a good example of implementing such restrictions that make sense in the fiction: the eponymous megadungeon is so far to the north that gold-diggers need to leave the site before winter comes and prevents their journey to home.

Thursday 25 July 2013

Is it house-ruled D&D or a new game?

A current discussion over the odd74 forum deals with the question of what constitutes a new game and not a house-ruled D&D. I offered the following hypothetical games in whose case it may be decided whether they are D&D or something else. I firmly believe that the answers could help us establish a simple baseline to what D&D is and what it is not.

  • No. 1. Exactly like B/X but with a spell point system (but the point costs can be reverse-engineered into the original spell levels); thus, rules for spell point recovery, spell point-based magic item creation.
  • No. 2. Exactly like No. 1. but with spell schools and specialised wizards, for whom the spell point costs are also varied by schools and not only the original spell levels.
  • No. 3. Exactly like No. 1. but the spell point costs are not related to the original spell levels anymore.
  • No. 4. Exactly like B/X but no Hit Dice; instead, a flat number of HP is gained upon each level, and monsters' have a fixed number of HP, too.
  • No. 5. Exactly like B/X but no character classes; characters are built from powers (which resemble cast abilities: attack bonus, saving throw bonuses, turning, casting, thief skill, etc.).
  • No. 6. Exactly like B/X but uses d100 instead of d20. The probabilities are the same, though, only the die size is changed.
  • No. 7. Exactly like B/X but uses 3d6 instead of d20. The probabilities are sometimes drastically changed because the bonuses and penalties are not adjusted at all, only the die rolling mechanics.
  • No. 8. Exactly like B/X but uses a single die roll to determine the outcome of battle. Other sub-systems (spell casting, non-combat spells, thif skills, movement, advancement, etc.) are untouched.
  • No. 9. Exactly like B/X but character advancement is based on (a) "role-playing" (acting like your character, doing a voice, etc.), (b) clever solutions, and (c) witty remarks in-character that bring laughter to the table.
  • No. 10. Exactly like BX but adjusted to a 1on1 setup with no henchmen or followers. A single hero versus the world.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Alertness and Stealth

I have been thinking about using a skill system in my next campaign; I was trying to come up with a couple of skills, when I got this idea. The general rule in most OSR D&D-esque games is that parties are surprised on a roll of 1-2/d6, which is essentially a d6 roll against a Target Number (TN) of 3; these numbers are hard coded, but I wanted to play with them a little, which resulted in the following:

Alertness could be a skill which decreases the chances of surprise (by increasing the die size step by step); it could be rolled against 3 by default or higher in case of stealthy creatures (5 for giant spiders lurking on the ceiling, for instance).

Stealth, on the other hand, could be a passive skill, increasing the TN the opponents have to roll against to avoid being surprised; the TN is 3 by default, 4 for skilled, 5 for expert, and 6 for master skill level.

Although noting these numbers for individual monsters seems like extra work, it is actually already included in the rules (counting the chances from 1 and up, though). Any possible downside of this I do not see? How would you try to implement such a rule?

Friday 5 July 2013

Campaign Settings: Underworld, Hell, and Afterlife

There has been a similar post to this on Grognardia (part one and part two) detailing interesting and unusual settings developed for D&D-esque campaigns. In this short post, I intend to do the same. Each of the following settings deals with the underworld, Hell, or the afterlife to some degree. Take it as expressing my greatest admiration to the creators of these wonderful settings. Enjoy!

Friday 28 June 2013

Marvel-esque Initiative and Turn Sequence

In OD&D, where it is basically only a roll with a d6, initiative is not much of a chore - but not really much fun either. In other games which use individual initiative, it certainly gives more random and individualised results but also increases the book-keeping factor. It was argued by Justin Alexander that initiative, as is presented, does not function as a seamless way of transitioning from the previous game structure (hexcrawl, dungeoncrawl, or else) to the combat structure; furthermore, the book-keeping it requires weakens the dynamics the outbreak of combat would present to the players (see this post and this post with the comment).

Trying to solve these problems, I came across the new Marvel game which uses a turn sequence system that I find very clever: after acting, it is the combatant's duty to choose who acts right after him. There are two important restrictions: (1) you cannot delay your action, you act when you are called, and (2) nobody may act again until everybody has acted in the round.

The game leaves to the GM to determine the first one to act depending on the situation; in a D&D-esque game, I would say the one who states his action the quickest may act first. By instantly resolving the first participant's action, we - all of a sudden - find ourselves in the combat structure.

Opinions? What possible disadvantages you can foresee regarding this approach? Do you think the benefits proposed above outweigh them?

Thursday 20 June 2013

Vikings & Valkyries, Session 4

Session 4 (June 8, 2013)

(Back to Session 1)

The report of our latest Vikings & Valkyries game of ours, in which the party fights Sea Devils again, gain some help from villagers, and - by a hilarious(ly clever) trick - conquer a whole village, the home of the bastard Gregorssons.

Friday 7 June 2013

Land of NOD, Session 4

Session 4 (May 23, 2013)

(Back to Session 1)

We finally carried on with our Land of Nod sandbox campaign; it has been a while since we last played, and it took this whole session for us to get back on track with the whole sandbox/hex-crawling idea. Having defeated the pirates, the party decided to explore the whole of the island.

Thursday 6 June 2013

Weather and Fortune

Since our last Vikings & Valkyries game, I have been thinking about the random weather table, the given sailing speeds, and the sailing rules in general (Mazes & Minotaurs Player's Manual, pp42-43). I have read several takes on randomly determining weather (Talysman, LS, and Brendan) and decided to use the 2d6 reaction table for that, because (1) it eliminates the use of d10s (except for the morale rules - but I will get to that) and (2) I can easily roll 3d6 together, two for the weather, one for random encounters. Anyway, the revised table is below:

20 miles
Pleasant Breeze
40 miles
60 miles
Strong Gale
80 miles
2d6 x 10 miles

Last session I also had to improvise a way of determining a ship's Fortune modifier and ultimately settled on the following formula: 1d4 minus 1d4 (thus 62.5% of ships have a non-negative Fortune modifier). The only drawback of this that I can see is that it introduces the use of d4s, whereas it is my intention to use d6s and d20s wherever possible.

An alternate approach that popped into my mind was to use 3d6 and the traditional B/X modifiers to determine a ship's Fortune; I dislike it for two reasons: (1) the arrangement of modifiers in V&V resembles 3E not B/X and (2) non-zero modifiers would be much less common which, concerning the frequency of acquiring a boat, would make Fortune much less relevant.

I am not pleased with the official rules regarding Storms and Drowning whatsoever; in time, I will surely propose my own variant rules for those situations.

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Mal-Lam the Fearful Symmetry

Submitted for the Petty Gods project.

Although the thought of perfection in geometry amazes people, when it becomes a reality, they are terrified of it; that fear is Mal-Lam, who gains his powers from the right angles, regular shapes, and symmetric patterns of nature and our creations as well.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Ixomant the Living Darkness

Submitted for the Petty Gods project.

Ixomant dwells in the deepest of caves and the darkest of dungeons. Even if unseen, his presence can be experienced as a feel of a nightly breeze chilling to the bone, a lurking amorphous shadow, or simply the overwhelming fear of the dark, for exactly it is he.

Friday 31 May 2013

Vikings & Valkyries, Session 3

Session 3 (May 18, 2013)

(Back to Session 1)

Our third session was quite a short one: we began playing later and finished playing earlier than usual, plus there were five players instead of three. Nevertheless, the session was fun, they managed to set sail and get the hell out of Jarl Olaf's court. Below, I present the most important occurrences only.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Vikings & Valkyries, Session 2

Session 2 (April 20, 2013)

(Back to Session 1)

I am quite late with this session report; I am remembering less and less details about this fine session, hence the brief report (the actual game was about eight hours long, including having a pizza, non-game-related talks, and such).

(For some information on the NPCs, check the previous session report.)

Thursday 16 May 2013

Songs for the Metal Axe

The second instalment of Patrick Wetmore's incredible Anomalous Subsurface Environment (check Bryce Lynch's review of the first book here and Gus L.'s of the second) features one of the coolest magic items: the Metal Axe, a great axe with guitar strings, with which fighters can play songs of magic. This post describes 14 songs (with the original 6, it makes a nice 20), reflecting my interests in gaming and guitar-centric music, as well.

Rank was decided by comparing the song's power to the ones described in ASE II and spells in the original edition, but I may have screwed this up; I am open to helpful criticism. As for monster stats and modifiers, those were written with OD&D/Delving Deeper in mind.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Thief Skill Rolls

Another quick post. Thief skills and the method their success is determined have been discussed many times on either blogs or forums. This particular post is aimed to improve upon Jack's idea of using the "hear noise" column for everything instead of the complicated and quite arbitrary percentile tables, about which Brendan of Necropraxis (earlier Untimately) also posted about.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Some Petty Foods

Just a short post today; the following petty foods were submitted to be included in the relevant appendix of the Expanded Petty Gods.

Crystal Oranges of Al-Mahraba
These crystallised oranges grow in the sacred garden of Al-Mahraba, guarded by seven soldiers of simian body and reptilian head - divine servitors of [deity associated with lies or equivocation]. The crystal fruits become edible once immersed in either the tears of a child or water from a subterranean sea. The consumer is granted the ability of always detecting lies, in exchange for not being able to tell the truth ever.

Milk of Barghobulya the Thrice-Horned
On plateaus most unreachable, Barghobulya the Thrice-Horned is known to pasture among other bovids of divine origin. Barghobulya's milk is said to cure all diseases; mixed with powdered unicorn horn it becomes pestilential, infecting imbibers with a virulent disease that twists their bodies and minds in equal measure. Fanatical followers of the Jale God oft wonder what properties the mixture of Barghobulya's milk and the powdered horn of an Atacorn might have.

Scrambled Totlyanian Eggs
The saint flock of Totlyanian birds roam the world from season to season, and it is during the spring when they lay their golden eggs to places where they will be most safe from [deity associated with beggars or poverty]'s followers, who are known to scramble these precious eggs. Even a single bite of such a meal results in heavy hallucinations resembling the sickest and wettest dreams imaginable. Besides being highly addictive, its regular consuming causes the weak-willed to slowly abandon morality and swear allegiance to [deity associated with serial killing or similar amoral actions].

Walnuts of the Agrapax Tree
During the magical autumn in the land of fairies, the Agrapax tree bears exactly thirteen walnuts, each the size of a grapefruit. The seed of such fruits carries the blessing of [deity associated with wisdom or fairies], and its consumer gains knowledge about locales or items he seeks the most. Cracking the walnut's shell, however, releases nightmarish sounds that terrify mortals and urges them to crack each other's skull instead.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Vikings & Valkyries, Session 1

Session 1 (March 30, 2013)

I have previously played Mazes & Minotaurs with a couple of Hungarian gamers (Narmor, Marvin, and Premier as Maze Master) and I also launched a Vikings & Valkyries PbP game; unfortunately, both were pretty short (the former spanning over two or three sessions, the latter only a single scene). Nevertheless, my enthusiasm for M&M and V&V reached its peaks over and over again, this time resulting in a longish gaming session.

With this play report I actually try another method for presenting the game sessions. Instead of writing in summarised points I write in full sentences, occasionally pausing to make a comment on my own refereeing, realising mistakes in hindsight, describing why I thought something would work, etc. You are encouraged to tell me in your comments whether this approach to actual play reports is more enjoyable/useful/better or not.

Friday 29 March 2013

Land of NOD - Session 3

Session 3 (Jan 15, 2013)

(Back to Session 1)

I made the mistake of not writing the session report shortly after the game... I hope I included everything important. Let's see...

Wednesday 27 March 2013

40k and D&D - A General Overview

Warhammer - I am mostly talking about 40k here - fascinates me; the setting has some crazy great ideas and the artwork is superb and very inspiring. It has two major flaws that oft hold me back from playing it, though: (1) the official system is baroquely complex for my style, and (2) the setting, if logically followed through, excludes D&D-style adventuring altogether. With this post (and probably with a couple more) I intend to get over the problems (admittedly, both can easily be solved) and create the means of adventuring in a setting (reminiscent) of Warhammer 40k.

Thursday 7 March 2013

Twelve Peculiar NPCs

The following characters may make interesting henchmen or retainers (or allies or enemies or whatnot), in addition to showing how silly my games can sometimes be. Statistics are not provided so that each Referee can decide how powerful these characters are.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Twisted Demi-Humans - Dwarves

Dwarves; we all know them well: short, stout, bearded folk of the underground, excellent warriors and miners, oft with values strongly associated with those of the romanticised vikings. Although this is a picture we can all relate to and it bears the advantage of ease introducing the concept to newcomers, it gets old and boring with time.

There have been many excellent variants geared toward making them more interesting (e.g. ASERed TideDevil's in the Details, etc.); hopefully, the compilation of ideas below may be useful for some people and live up to the standards set forth by the aforementioned examples.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Land of NOD - Session 2

Session 2 (Jan 11, 2013)

(Back to Session 1)

Continuing our campaign started not much before the - apparently delayed - End of the World, the party pursued their goal and, after quickly acquiring a ship and hiring several sailors, set off towards the little island of Psara, where Porto's pirates were supposed to lair. The player of Udes could not come due to sports injury (which we, students of philology and similarly portentous fields, who participate not in such mundane and strenuous activities, shall never fear*); however, an other new player joined the game. We play together in Narmor's Dragon Age campaign (unfortunately, the reports are in Hungarian); he is new to OD&D, however.

*Such is the humour of ours, arts students.

Saturday 26 January 2013

What makes a setting work for D&D?

A while back on Dreams in the Lich House, there was a couple of posts (here and here) regarding what makes a D&D setting good in terms of playability. Although there was some disagreement over which elements count as core and essential to the game, no one has offered a better treatment yet (regardless of what exactly "better" is supposed to mean in this context).

Assuming there exist a number of criteria which absolutely have to be satisfied, we can find the core elements of a D&D setting by analysing how adventures are generally set up, what elements they include (locations, items, etc.), and how they relate to the player characters' actions.

Sunday 20 January 2013

Land of NOD - Session 1

Session 1 (Dec 18, 2012)

Note: This session report is an edited version of the one posted at

We finally kicked off our long-awaited Land of Nod campaign. After a short introduction to the setting and the rules (OD&D with a few tweaks), four characters and their followers were set loose in Ophir, looking for trouble. I must admit, I improvised all of what happened on the fly (I wanted to prevent creating stuff in vain, plus I have started my best campaigns with a completely improvised session earlier, so it seemed reasonable it may also be accomplished with a pretty rules-light game, too).

Saturday 12 January 2013

HCC1 - Valley of the Hawks

Note: This is a reposting of a review from Dragonsfoot with minor editing.

The Valley of the Hawks is only but the first instalment of the Hex Crawl Chronicles, a series describing different sub-settings (based on certain North American areas, according to the author). It is published by Frog God Games and written by John M. Stater (of whose NOD magazine both Melan and Bryce Lynch wrote a review). It uses the Swords & Wizardry Complete rules, but can be used with any old school D&D-esque system (for those who are interested: a Pathfinder version is also available).

Thursday 10 January 2013

Brief Introduction

Greetings everyone and welcome to this yet another OSR blog!

After giving much thought to the idea, I took the advice of a fellow Hungarian gamer (Narmor, I'm looking at you) and decided to kick off my very own blog. The following types of posts are likely to be seen here, in no particular order:

  • house rules and how they worked out at the table
  • reviews (only once in a while), ideally with game experience
  • session reports (summaries in bullet-point format)
  • campaign/setting ideas (most of them never reaches actual play, thus they are likely to be sketchy)

Creating and maintaining this blog is actually one of my new year's resolutions (gaming-relevant ones are to be discussed here); I suppose three posts per month seems to be a good lower limit, so expect at least that many.