Thursday, October 31, 2013

Feudal Japanese Fantasy RPG Resources Available

I've pretty much announced this everywhere except here, so I apologize if you've seen this already.

I've started a list of free / under $1.00 materials for an RPG set in a feudal Japanese setting. If you're viewing this in a reader, you probably don't see the link on the left hand side of the screen, so here it is for all to see:

Feudal Japanese Fantasy RPG Resources

The emphasis is on gaming materials, although I did include some free background material.

Obviously, a trip to the public library could greatly expand what you can get for free.

I may expand the list to include all of the RPG resources I've acquired regardless of price, as none of them, on their own, is particularly expensive.

In the meantime, because I built the list after the fact, I'm sure I've missed some things that I downloaded. If you see anything I missed in the Free or $1.00 or less range, please let me know.

Monday, October 28, 2013

My RPG Person Profile

Jumping on the bandwagon, mostly because I've enjoyed reading a bunch of these the past day or so.

I'm currently running (at home): Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying post-apocalyptic science fantasy. A solo Labyrinth Lord dungeon campaign. Some D&D b/x one shots.

I'm currently running (on line): nothing

I am currently playing (at home): A solo Labyrinth Lord dungeon campaign.

I am currently playing (on line): nothing

I would especially like to play or run: I'm prepping for a game set in feudal Japan with a fair dose of magic and strange creatures, with Yamato M20. Some days I think of running it with LL AEC + Oriental Adventures 1st ed. Either way it's at the top of my "to run" list.  I'd also love to run an extended D&D b/x sandbox campaign. I'd really like to play Space: 1889.

...but I would also try: Mostly anything if someone else is running it.

I live in: GA

2 or 3 well-known RPG products other people made that I like: Dungeon Crawl Classics, Tunnels & Trolls, AD&D Dungeon Master's Design Kit.

2 or 3 novels I like: King Solomon's Mines, The Lost World, The Beautiful and Damned

2 or 3 movies I like: Hari-Kari: Death of a Samurai, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Despicable Me

Best place to find me online: my blog, Twitter, or G+

I will read almost anything on tabletop RPGs if it's: not racist, sexist or homophobic.

I really do not want to hear about: why you think dungeon crawls suck.

I think dead orc babies are (circle one: funny / problematic / ....well, ok, it's complicated because....):  Problematic and as such, they don't exist in my games.

Games I'm in are like (link to something): No matter what atmosphere they start out with, they eventually end up like this: 

Free RPG Content I made for __USR_____ is available here:

Free RPG Content I made for __any RPG that has dungeons_____ is available here: (early versions of my dungeon generator)

Free RPG Content I made for __solo RPGing_____ is available here: (look for "solo rpg" posts)

You can buy RPG stuff I made about _any old-school compatible system___ here:

If you know anything about ____illustration_________ it’d help me with a project I’m currently working on: Issue 2 of Six Iron Spikes & a Small Hammer will have a decidedly different look to it than issue 1. I think. Maybe.

I talk about about RPGs everywhere I go online and off. 

Happy Belated Blogoversary to Me (more self-indulgent than usual, is it not?)

Tabletop Diversion's 2nd anniversary came and went and I totally didn't realize it until today.

This isn't surprising really, as I forget most birthdays too.

It's been a fun ride so far - I've "met" lot's of great people through blogging, enjoyed interesting discussions in the comments and refined many of my ideas based on those discussions. 

One thing I noticed recently that has changed: I started out just trying to share my projects, as a record for myself but also to give back to the community that I had gotten so much from. Now, I find myself thinking about whether or not an idea is blog worthy or not. I need to worry about that less, as I'm not recording things and I'm forgetting about them.

Blogging also deserves the credit for getting me off my butt to finally make a zine - some 17 years after I first read the likes of Dumpster Diver, Dishwasher and R2-D2 was an Indie Rocker and thought "I want to write a zine!"

Speaking of, the 2nd issue is coming along - but as I subscribe to the broader zine community's standard of "it comes out when it comes out", I'm not making any prediction anymore about exactly when it will be ready.

"Soon" sounds like a good guess.

In any case, here's to another year of pushing toy soldiers around the table, rolling funny shaped dice, taking blurry camera phone pictures and posting all of it for the world to see.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Swedes are Coming!

These took forever, despite the rather simple color scheme. My colors (particularly the shade of yellow) might not match everyone's conception, but I based my paint selection on a number of sources, illustrations and photographs of actual uniforms (which have undoubtedly faded quite a bit over time). 

Most of the regular Swedish infantry regiments wore blue coats with yellow facings by the 1700s. I will probably paint all of mine this way:

One issue I had was the blue coat over the the black base - it was very dark. I painted white over the coat, and then blue, and the result was marginally better. From a time perspective, it adds substantial time per figure and I'm not sure I'm willing to do that. 

The next 6, I'll do without the white and see what the result is with multiple coats of blue.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

To Slay the Demon Again?

November is just around the corner, and with it comes National Game Design Month (NaGaDeMon). It's also National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). 

Last year, I participated in NaGaDeMon and designed a game that I never did name officially, the Tenaru Project. It was a good time and I got a very small taste of the game design process from conception through play testing (I won't say finished product because, although playable, it isn't exactly where I want it and I haven't gone back to it). It's basically a tabletop version of Space Invaders, with the invaders being the Japanese and you control a 3-man USMC MG crew. Each turn an event enforces the setting. Or so I claim.

In 2008, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first, and thus far, only, time. Unlike NaGaDeMon, it seemed a great deal more harried. A game proto-type doesn't have to be very much, but 50,000 words in 30 days, one of those which, for Americans, is a holiday usually involving obscene amounts of food and family, seems like it's going to take some time. In my case, the whole week of Thanksgiving is pretty much a family event and so I had approximately 25 days to reach the goal. In the end, I hit a little over 35,000 words.Still, it was a lot of fun sharing ideas and such with coworkers who were also participating.

Quality, I should stress, is not the goal of NaNoWriMo,  completion is. I lost track of that and started worrying about this and that and how the plot was going and other things that really aren't relevant to the word count. You might question how much of a novel (or even draft of one) the result is, and that's a valid question, but it misses the point: the worth is in the doing and participating, not the end result. The benefit, too, and of relevance to me this year, is the kick in the pants it is for establishing a daily writing habit.

Recently, I went back and read a small part of  my 2008 attempt, and most of what is contained therein is crap, but there are a few spots that I think, with some revision, have potential - possibly for use in gaming related materials even or submissions to zines. I've also gotten a few comments on this blog about my session summaries for The Ever Expanding Dungeon and some other posts that have given me some confidence to attempt a piece of fiction again.

So, part of me thinks, this year I should attempt NaNoWriMo, and  go in with nothing, save a character or two, just to see what happens - the same way I do with my solo RPG sessions (indeed, I might even use Story Cubes, Mythic, et al. to move things along). Hell, it might even be a swords & sorcery adventure tale - who knows?

Some other part of me thinks that I should create some kind of game,and participate in NaGaDeMon again. I can't help think it'd be nice to take some of the lessons from last year and apply them this year.

One obvious solution, is to combine the two in some way: a solo adventure, a setting, a rule book, something. I still have a few days to make some kind of decision.

In the meantime, I'd encourage anyone with an interest in jump starting their writing or who has said something along the lines of "I'll design a game someday" or "I'll write a novel someday" to just do it - sign up, participate in the online discussions (not to the detriment of your goal!), and when November 1 comes, have a lot of fun trying to reach  your goal. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Post-Mortem on the Most Recent Ever Expanding Dungeon Sessions

As I mentioned in my replies to comments on the previous entry (Session 24), my fixation on some sort of heroic redemption on Dleggit (D: 2) was the cause of not only his demise, but 2 NPCs and the near death of my longest surviving character.

What Went Wrong

  • I split the party. It made sense in my head, as I had dreams of glory for Dleggit. In practice, it was the one thing had I done different that would have changed the whole outcome.
  • The pit - It wasn't that the pit was too dangerous on its own, but its depth. I used Mythic but I really shouldn't have set the odds at 50/50, once I knew it wasn't 10' deep. The party's average level, including NPCs but excluding the mule, was 1.4. Even if I just rolled a total of 3 HP of damage, that would be enough to kill the NPCs outright, 75% of the time (if they had no CON bonus). Since my PCs start with max HP, at least the magic-user survived the fall, barely. Of course, had I not tested DEX for everyone with a D20, but used 3d6, they would have had better odds as well.
  • Maybe instead of a DEX save for Dleggit to throw the rope over the beam, it should have been an attack on an AC 5 or some such.
  • Dleggit had terrible dice rolling during the combat - even with a +2 berserker bonus and a +2 strength bonus he never landed a blow. In fact he rolled a natural 1 on his first attack, which is how he ended up with the mantis between him and the party when they arrived.
  • Conversely, even though the mantis were only 1 HD and Dleggit has an AC 1, they were scoring way more hits than I would have thought.
  • White Eyes's magic-missile was a game changer - had he gotten 2nd casting off, he could have TPK'd the party.

What Went Right

  • The Five Room Model - including linking two of them together. I really like this method as it means something is always happening to increase tension/force choices, thematically its all connected, and it's easily resolved within a short time. What it isn't, is a crawl, as resources aren't really an issue. To me, torches, food, spells, missiles are all part of the enjoyable pressure on the party during exploration.
  • The use of the d6 for decision making Yes And, Yes, But, No, But, No And. I've used this a lot before, but I thought I'd mention it.
  • Bringing back a recurring villain - he's a danger and provided sufficient motivation.
  • Staying true to the dice. I could have re-rolled or give Dleggit or Waldu other advantage, but i stuck to the honest roll of the dice and took my lumps. That to me is required for solo gaming, an ethical minimum even. As I've mentioned before, if the results directly impact the character, the dice must remain sacrosanct.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Ever Expanding Dungeon : Session 24

Session 24 was played on 10/17

Scene 4 Main Combat/Climax (also Scene 1 Guardian for the Keep)

The weathered door clung tiredly to its hinges despite ample evidence of rot from many seasons of rain and termites, and held fast against the party's tentative efforts to open it. Finally, Dleggit put his shoulder to the effort and rammed the door open. As daylight flooded into the dark interior [I checked with Mythic to see what would happen: Decrease the physical] a chilling howl poured forth from the keep itself.

Does the set up hold? Chaos 5, 6, yes

[all save vs paralysis or run away, Manchiver - 7 fail, Waldu 9 fail, Mule 5, fail, Dleggit 18, pass, Linkat 9 fail, Stacha 19 pass] 

Although Stacha and Dleggit held fast, Manchiver, Waldu, the mule and Sister Linnkat fell back in terror. Even had Sister Linkat the notion to force herself to enter, Waldu and the mule were her responsibility and she chased after them.

Chaos 6
Scene 2 RP/Puzzle for Keep

Dleggit, determined to pay his imagined debt, grunted and offered Stacha a chance to return to the village - she had done her job. [Does she stay? Chaos 6, Unlikely, 01, exceptional yes]. To his surprise, she told him that she was staying because, more surprising, she is Perceval's 1/2 sister and she too would see him avenged.[that was unexpected]

Dleggit lit a torch and passed it to Stacha, and the two entered the gaping maw of the keep.

[Oppress Disruption]

Not unexpectedly, the door slammed shut behind them, the gust blowing out their torch. The earth began to shudder accompanied by the sounds of stone crumbling. With his infravision, Dleggit saw the floor opposite them falling away, the blackness of the hole that was forming getting closer and closer.

Does the scene stay? 8 Yes

Dleggit swung his pack around and grabbed his rope. Quickly, he handed one end to Stacha to tie around her waist, while he looked for something to fasten the rope to.

[Does he find anything? 1-yes and, 2-3 yes but, 4-5 no but, 6 No and, 4 No But]

Nothing useful was in reach, but he luckily could distinguish the tell-tale shape of wooden beams above his head; he thought he might be able to throw the rope over. Roll to hit AC 5? [1 f***]. The rope missed the target, hit the ceiling and fell back towards him.

Has the crumbling floor gotten to him, [5 no but] With the pit growing nearer, he had time to try once more.

This time he put his might into it and 15 (Hit!) the rope sailed over the beam. Is he able to catch the end? Save vs Dex (dex 13, roll, 19 Damn it) The dark made grasping the end difficult and before he could grab hold of it, the floor gave way beneath them plunging them [is it more than 10'? 50/50 31, yes. More than 20'?39, yes.] 30' to the ground below. 

A moment before his own impact, he heard a the indelible sound of a body slamming into rocks, and then he blacked out (he takes 11 HP of damage, but is still alive)

When he finally opened his eyes, he could not be sure of how long he had been out, but the blood from his head was still damp. He looked over towards the direction of the thud and recognized the cold, vaguely human outline. Stacha the tracker died in the fall (she took 13 hp of damage and had all of 4 HP).

Chaos 7

Scene 3 Trick / Setback for Keep (MORE of a trick or setback?)
[I'm at a loss, so i decide to roll:
Decrease Balance ]

Dleggit stood slowly, trying to take stock of his situation. To his right, he could see a tunnel. With now way up, the tunnel was his only choice. As he moved the ground undulated beneath his feet. 

"What manner of hell is this!" shouted Dleggit to the darkness.

This is an illusion to unbalance him, roll save vs spells 4, he fails and so believes the ground is really moving. Despite being a dwarf. He will attack at -2 and move at 1/2 speed]

Does anything attack now? 4 No, but it will next scene]

Have Linkat and Waldu returned? 5, No, but they will find their way to the Keep next scene

Chaos 8

Scene 4 Keep

Dleggit wound his way along the tunnel, stumbling and tripping as the ground rose and fell, but his Dwarven heritage served him well . Ahead he glimpsed a flicker of flame, and soon found the light getting brighter until he entered into a large circular chamber. Some 30' above, lit by the light of several floor candelabras, a man with a long beard and a dark hood cloak addressed him:

"Ah yes, I was informed that a dwarf accepted my note. I thought there would be more of you. Is the woman dead too? No matter. I shall do away with you and destroy that accursed village. My plans have been too long in the making." 

With that he moved some unseen lever and a gate dropped to block the tunnel, barring Dleggit's retreat. With the pull of a second lever, the grinding of a hidden gear revealed hidden cell, out of which stepped a 8' tall, 4 armed mantis man, red eyes glowing, mandibles clicking unintelligible insults towards Dleggit.

Does the scene stay? 8, 5. No altered Is dleggit surrounded to betaken prisoner? 50/50, 19, yes

With the pull of a second lever, the grinding of a hidden gear revealed hidden cell, out of which stepped six 8' tall, 4 armed mantis men, red eyes glowing, mandibles clicking unintelligible insults towards Dleggit.

Meanwhile, outside the keep - Sister Linkat prepared to reenter and smashed the door open.

[Has the floor resealed? Unlikely. 62, no]
I realized I would need to know how long it took Dleggit to wander into the ring -i decide it takes 1- 1 turn, 2-5 2 turns 6 - 3 turns. 3, 2 turns.]

Before her, she saw the blackness of the deep pit - concerned for Dleggit and Stacha she grabed the rope and had Waldu fasten it about the mule's waist. She grabbed a torch, left Manchiver in charge, slung her shield on her back, and carefully made her way down to the bottom of the pit.

Does she make it? She's s a bit of a klutz and is doing this with one hand. Save vs Dex 4, 11, she slips and falls to the bottom: (8hp. Does she lose consciousness Save vs Con of 13, 10. Yes

Hearing the crash of metal on rock, Waldu and Manchiver peerd over the edge?

"Sister? Sister? Dagnabbit!" [Does Waldu attempt to go in? Very unlikely? Chaos 8, I roll 02, exceptional yes.] Manchiver briefly looked at Waldu and then rushed to the rope to climb down (and slipped and took 3 HP damage)

"Confounded adventurers and yer death wishes!." The old man muttered and swore as he strapped on his sword and adjusted his studded leather armor. He lit a torch and again peered over the edge[1 turn]

[2nd turn] - he lowers himself down without issue - taking all due precaution] With extreme caution, he made his way down to the bottom, and in the light of the torch, he caught glimpse of the broken body of Stacha. 

[Is sister linkat conscious? Yes, but dizzy] [is the illusion in effect? 6 no and it won't be again. Manchiever is out cold] Sister Linkat pointed to the the tunnel. With Waldu's help she struggled to her feet and together they roused Manchiver. The three started into the tunnel..

[Turn 3 / Round 1]

Dleggit sized up his opponents as they spread out; he would have his work cut out for him. Brining his war hammer up to the ready he erupted with a rage-filled roar that had been building up these past 31 days. [i decided to give him a berserker bonus +2 to hit all combat]

Initiative - mantis 1 Dleggit 3

The party heard his battle cry and broke into a run down the tunnel.

Unfortunately, his rage blinded him and his target side stepped him easily. He now found himself cut off from the tunnel as the mantis formed a wall across the chamber and moved in. As they reigned blows upon him, he withstood it all.

[The mantis prepare to attack - all 6 fail to score a hit]

Round 2
[2 turns at half pace - 30' per turn. 60' total. At a full run Linkat and co. arrive at the iron bars]

mantis -6, dleggit - 6+1 = 7, Waldu and Linkat: 5

Dleggit swings again - 3 + 2 + 2=7, nope.

The mantis attack
2 misses and 1 crit miss (-2 defense, no move)
1 miss, 2 hits, 2 HP damage

Through the bars Manchiver throws a dart which strikes a mantis man - lodging in its shoulder, but the beast fights on.

Sister Linkat says a silent prayer and then hoists the iron gate upwards [To lift the bars save vs str (Linkat)13, she rolls a 15.] with ease.

Round 3
Dleggit will continue to fight, Linkat will charge into the fray and try to divert the mantis from Dleggit
Waldu will do the same, Manchiver will attempt to stay out of sight and in cover by the gate - he'll attempt to throw a dart if the opportunity presents itself

Mantis - 6 Party 4

with the arrival of Waldu and Linkat the Mantis might split their attacks: 1-2 Linkat, 3-4 Dleggit, 5-6 Waldu

1 Linkat - 11 miss
2 waldu - 16, hit for 1h
3 Dleggit - 4 miss
4 Linkat - 18 - 5 HP
5 Dleggit - 19 - 5 HP and dleggit is struck down
6 Linkat  - 6 miss

Steel and wood, stone and iron clashed. A great clamoring of violence raised up from the pit and down down the tunnel. Somewhere in that life and death struggle, Dleggit, who had seen many creatures far worse, fell to the ground. With vengeance on his dying breath, he cursed the wizard who had laid this trap with a restless lifetime of haunting. 

Linkat swings in a rage - 14+1 = hit 4+1 = 5 and kills one
Sister Linkat fighting to reach Dleggit before he was struck, smashed the head of one mantis men, dropping his body in a chitinous heap.

Waldu misses
Does Manchiver have a clear shot? Yes. He throws a dart - 19, hit. 4 hp and kills another!
Manchiver despite the odds succeeded in bringing down yet another with a carefully placed dart.

Round 4
I decided White Eyes might want to get in on this if the party is making a comeback.
Linkat will cast her cure light wounds on herself - she's down quite a bit, Waldu will continue to fight and Manchiver will hope for continued success with the darts, since his Sleep spell would take out his own party and have no effect on such a powerful wizard.

Mantis - 1 White Eyes - 1 Party 2

Linkat's spell goes off and she gets back 3 HP

Waldu attacks 15 +1 Hit for 8 hp, and another one dies.
(the mantis don't check morale)
Manchiver throws another dart 18 and hits! 4 and kills another

Mantis 1 attacks Linkat Miss
Mantis 6 attacks Waldu - hit for 3 HP He's down to 1

Does white eyes get involved? 3, yes but - not a direct attack. He'll flood the whole lower level

White Eyes pulled another lever and the sound of water crashing on rocks filled the chamber - within moments, 6" of water had already poured in.

Round 5

Linkat will heal Waldu, Manchiver will try to throw his dart at the wizard, Waldu will attack
The Wizard will let loose (1-2 magic missile, 3-4 sleep, 5-6 water breathing)

Mantis - 6, White Eyes - 3, Party 4

Mantis 1 Linkat - 9, miss
Mantis 6 Waldu 17, hit - 1 hp, and Waldu is dead

Sister Linkat had been prepping a Cure Light Wounds spell for Waldu, but seeing her faithful servant cut down, she healed herself (7 hp) hoping that she might live long enough to avenge the deaths of her friends.

Manchiver let loose his dart and missd
White eyes casts his spell 5, Water Breathing

the water is now up to 1- 1', 2-5 - 2', 6 = 3', 2 two feet

Round 6
Linkat will make for the tunnel - fighting withdrawal, Manchiver will run for the exit
White Eyes will cast 1-2 magic missile,3-5 Sleep, 6 - Web

Mantis 3 - White Eyes 3 - Party 5

Manchiver races towards the chamber with the rope, while Sister Linkat fends off her attackers and retreats slowly into the tunnel.

Do the mantis men follow? Likely.yes They both attack Linkat and both miss

White Eyes cast magic missile (3 of them)
Seeing the possibility of killing the other who had thwarted his plans the first time, he angrily hurled 3 magic missiles towards her, each striking the target. (and does   12 hp to sister linkat, she's down to 5). To his great dismay, she fought on.

Water up to 4 feet - 1 for all melee attacks.
Round 7
1/2 movement due to water
Sister linkat will take off towards the exit, Manchiver will try to reach rope and climb out
White Eyes will begin to climb down into the water in hopes of getting off another attack.

Mantis 4  - White Eyes 3 Linkat - 3 Manchiver 4

Manchever reached the rope and began to pull himself out of the water. Meanwhile ,White eyes lowered a ladder into the pit to climb down into the rising water.

The mantis attack and 1 hits for 2 hp

Sister Linkat, realizing that she'll soon drown if she doesn't make an effort to get away, turns and takes off splashing through the water as fast as she can.

Water up to 4' 6"

Round 7
With just 20' to go to reach the rope, the whole keep began to shake, stones fell from walls, and ceiling as the water rapidly eroded whatever foundation there was.

Manchiver will climb out and prepare to toss lit oil into water if anyone follows Linkat, Linkat will make for the rope, Mantis will try to reach her, White Eyes will slog forward through the water

Mantis - 3 White eyes 5 Linkat - 3 Manchiver 2

White Eyes made his way towards the end of the tunnel, more swimming than running at this point.

Do the mantis reach Linkat?No, and as they try, one drowns

Can Sister Linkat make it to the rope?2 Yes but she can't climb out this turn

Manchiver emptied two oil flasks into the water from his perch above.

Round 8
Manchiver will light an oil flask and toss the flaming flask into the pool floating on the water surface and hope it ignites and make for the exit, Linkat will climb out and make for the exit
The Mantis will be about 1/2 way into the chamber, White Eyes will make his way into the chamber
The water is at 6' now and only rising slowly.

Mantis - 2 White Eyes 6 Party - 2

White Eyes floated into the chamber dark - he sees Manchiver's torch ahead and above.

Sister Linkat scrambled up the rope as best she could, soaked, wounded and in armor, while Manchiver tossed the flaming flask into the oil pool he had created. 

does it ignite?Yes, but it's too scattered to do any damage

He then runs for the exit.

Round 9 

Linkat and Manchiver race for exit, pulling rope behind them
White Eyes can only vaguely make out their shapes but will cast magic missile

White Eyes - 1 Party - 3

The party dashed out of the door as White Eyes let forth another barrage - are they concealed enough for him to not be able to use mm? 4, No but 

Incredibly and undoubtedly by the hand of the Hedonistic Lumberjack, before the evil wizard could unleash his attack, with a moan and a wail, the keep crashed down in a heap, filling the pit where the wizard floated in water over his head.

The "party" stared at the rubble breaking out of the water here and there, as the water continued to rise ever so slightly, and trickled onto the trail - for now, the town was safe, but at an incredible cost.