Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Flayed King 500+ Uploads in a Week


I've been seeing the print copy has been landing around the world.  I'm surprised how fast it got to my friends in Great Britain.  They seem to get it as quickly as some of the folks in the states. 

I checked the numbers and between the downloads on S&W Appreciation Day and the number of downloads on RPGNow, The Flayed King has been downloaded over 500 times in that short span. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Feature: Creature Compendium, Heroes & Other Worlds & Bird of a Feather


Lulu had a 30% off sale a week or two ago and like most of us I took advantage of the sale.  The first thing I grabbed was +Richard LeBlanc's Creature Compendium.  This is a no brainer.  Richard only does spectacular products.  This one is no different.  I've spend some quality time in my 'reading room' with it and I've already marked a few of the creatures to add to my adventures. 

The second book and third book I bought was +c.r. brandon's Heroes & Other Worlds (HOW) and a copy of The Cauldron that is a accompanying zine for HOW.  I've been hearing about HOW for a while now.  +Tim Knight uses it in his campaign and +Joshua Macy has been writing content for HOW on his blog.  So between these two and the sale, I got a copy of the system.  I really like how it works.  It is simple.  Which is important because my brain is wibbly wobbly most of the time and stuff falls out.  It's a simple system with a lot of options.  I haven't had a chance to look at The Cauldron yet.  It looks to have a lot of complimentary material.



The last thing I received in my mail call was Bird of a Feather from +Lesser Gnome.  Created by the minds of +Zach Glazar and +John Hammerle.  They had a 40% off sale during Swords & Wizardry Appreciation day.  I bought it knowing very little about it.  I was very impressed with their other products so with the sale I just clicked and waited.  Very fast turn around by the way.  Little did I know Bird of a Feather is a collection of short adventures.  Right up my alley.  Everything about this book is good.  The adventure ideas, the creatures, personalities, art, layout and over all quality are all top-notch.  I'm officially a fanboy of Lesser Gnome. 

Oh, and they sent me some hardcore tattoos to sport at my next gaming session. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Being the Difficult One in the Party or Oh Yeah, I'm That Guy

I find myself in an unusual place in +Rob Conley's current 5E Majestic Wilderlands campaign.  I'm the difficult one in the party.  I'm usually the one who plays a peacekeeper or the go along with whatever guy.

This campaign I started with Sidwin the Sharp, a charismatic rogue whose initial idea was to build criminal network, but to the benefit of the community he adopted on Phandelver.  There would always be criminal activity so he figured if he could control it, he could make sure the people benefited from it and he could keep out the toxic riff raff.  While a thief, smuggler and criminal, much of what he earned would be reinvested into the local business and into people who were looking out for the welfare of the folks.

All was going well, very well.  It looked like Sidwin had a foothold established early on, had a lot of good intel and a place to begin.  Then the civil war happened and the party took a side.  Sidwin knew then he couldn't travel down the road they were going and left the party.  I wrote a post called, When It's Time for a Character to Leave the Party that goes into more detail about it.
http://gothridgemanor.blogspot.com/2015/02/when-its-time-for-character-to-leave.html

So I built my current character, a lizardman gladiator.  I know it sounds like it is one of those weird to be weird characters, but it is very plausible option in Rob's world.  His loyalty is on the same side as the party's.  However, he has a different view on how our common goal should be accomplished.  Which puts him at odds with the party once again.

I believe +Douglas Cole referred to Goldylocks and said one was too soft, one was too hard, so the next character I make should be just right.  Now before anyone wants to put Doug in a headlock he was joking, and a little funny because he is correct on the analogy.

However, Leshar isn't going anywhere until he goes to grass.

I'm playing a lizardman who is ruled by his passions and thinking is a secondary action.  The party is led by a paladin and priest who like to plan.  So there are moments when Leshar's actions are no in line with the party's set plan of actions.

Here's what I enjoy about this, and not just being the character that goes against the grain, but the roleplaying options.  While I am not a full blown role-playing dude, I like to take on the personality of my character and follow their own motives.  That's what makes it so much fun.  +Chris C. sent me an IM that I get scary when I play mean Leshar.

What makes it fun is the guys understand that I'm just RPing and not just being difficult or taking it personal.  Some folks take it as a personal insult.  I don't play Leshar as a dick at all.  He's loyal to his party members, would never hold out any loot or sell them out to another.  However, if there is a situation at hand that has a few options of being resolved and violence is one of them, Leshar is always going to favor that one.  The part that gets him into trouble is he doesn't care about the odds.  His gladiator mentality accepts a glorious death as much as a glorious victory.

The last thing I would ever want to do is spoil someone else's playing experience.  And because of the group we have, it allows all of us to explore characters that might not be perfect fit with a party.  But I think those jagged edges are what makes the adventuring experience memorable.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

When Lizardman Gladiators Go Bad: From Behind the Lizardman's Eyes

by BKMcDevitt - bkmcdevitt.deviantart.com
Monday Night, Game Night.  Another session to play my lizardman gladiator, Leshar.  The title would suggest that Leshar is sometimes good.  Not so much, but let's pretend that is possible.

We opened the session by being told to stop fighting by another, higher level, group of adventurers who waited in the shadows.  They tossed a fireball in the middle of battle to get our attention.  Leshar was not impressed.  What followed was a lot of talking.  Leshar listened as we forfeited everything we had fought for.  We slaughtered the sheriff, his son, most of the guards, a batch of Set priests, and a myrmidon.  We burned down the keep.  We saved the imprisoned Mitrians.  We rallied the townsfolks to stand up for themselves.  Then the Twilight Company throws I fireball and we hand them everything...

Leshar has no plans of staying.  Most of the people that needed to be killed were dead already.  Time to move on since killing is what he does...not talk.  But Leshar was disgusted by simply handing it over.  The party woke the next morning.  More talking.

Leshar goes hunting.  Asks if any Settites were still alive.  They said something about miners led by a guy named Henry.  Found out where Henry was staying.  Went to the tavern with Vougner.  Leshar yells out "Henry!"  Man looks up.  Leshar smiles and attacks.  Henry goes down.  One of his men goes down.  The third pisses himself and falls to his knees.

We leave the tavern.  One of the Twilight Company is waiting.  Asked what we were doing.  We exchange nicities and agree we do not like each other.  Again, more talking.  Leshar accepts challenge to fight, but Vougner manages to put Leshar is a headlock and drag him away.  Leshar like Vougnar.  Kill Twilight Company another time.  Will give them a good death.  Glorious death.

Return.  More talking.  Leshar wonders if all the words they ay mean anything.  They talk about attacking a dragon.  Leshar laughs.  Stupid.  Leshar try to tell them about dragons.  They not listen.  But go along because they finally want to fight.  It takes six men to attack one woman apparently.

The Vougner says something about Glassstaff.  Glass breaks easy.  Not sure what the big deal is.  We surround woman's hut.

End of session.

It was an interesting night.  My participation was minimal, but I think I set the tone for Leshar and how I planned to continue to play him.  While he is agreeable to the party's overall goal, he's got his own ideas on how to achieve them.  Makes it fun.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Random Map Monday 16


After receiving a brilliant map sketch by the ever brilliant +Simon Forster, I took inspiration from the bold colors he used.  I've been wanting to introduce more colors into my maps, find new ways to texture my map features.

I thought of an underwater coral reef.  One that possessed precious ores or resources to mine.  The orange areas are what I imagine is the precious resource location.  Underwater miner dudes finding a way to gather what they can.  Then I used two other colors and meshed them together.  I like the effect.  I like the color. 

In the bottom right corner is a drop off.  I took someone's suggestion and made the top line bolder and thicker to give a sense of that was up and what part of the ridge was down.  I think it works out.  The ridge drops into a deep dark water with not apparent bottom in sight.  That's the black swirly part.  I wish that would have come out a little better.

The weekend was very busy with the Swords & Wizardry project I completed, The Flayed King.  I went a little crazy and decided to make a print version and sent them out to folks.  Whew.  That was a lot of work.  Ivy even made homemade envelopes for them because they wouldn't fit in any of the envelopes I had.  All the print versions I had are gone.  No more will be printed.  But you'll be able to grab a copy from RPGNow for free+Jim Magnusson cover and art inside are amazing.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Print Version of The Flayed King


Last night, as I scrambled to finish The Flayed King for the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day, I knew I was going to do a print version.  That was the idea all along.  But I barely had enough steam left to finish a PDF version.  So this morning, I got right to it.  I think it looks cool.  I've already sung the praises of +Jim Magnusson's art, but without it this project wouldn't have gotten off the ground.

I'm sending out a batch of mini zines to my patron folks and people who have already contacted me.  If you are interested in a copy please email me at elder(underscore)sensa(at)yahoo(dot)com.  If I have it in email I'm less likely to lose it in all the activity of Google+.  And it doesn't matter where you live.  I'll send them out to anywhere.

This is my small offering to the gaming community and to Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day.  It's a great idea and I hope it becomes a yearly thing. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day: The Flayed King

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/24669806/Mini%20Manor%202%20-%20The%20Flayed%20King.pdf

Here is my offering to today's S&W Appreciation Day, an adventure called The Flayed King.  It kinda caught me by surprise this year so I decided to feature something I'd already done, reskin it (pun intended) with some art by the magnificent +Jim Magnusson.  He came through in a pinch and did an incredible job. 

I'm glad I was able to sneak this one in.  Please enjoy The Flayed King.

Friday Review: The Exoterrorists


Esoterrorists is a game I found at Origins last year.  I walked into the +Pelgrane Press Ltd booth and left all my money there.  I'd been looking for a system/game to run a supernatural themed campaign.  When the lady at the booth described Exoterrorists it sounded exactly what I was looking for.

I ran part of a session at the last Con on the Cob before most of us collapsed from exhaustion.  Long gone are the times when we could game all weekend with little to no sleep.  Even though we only got through a section of the adventure I was hooked.  The game lends itself to blending the supernatural elements with everyday stuff.  Which I continue to do.  Sometimes to the horror of my players. 

Esoterrorists uses the GUMSHOE system.  A system that isn't about finding the clues, the players always find the major clues, but what they do with them is the interesting part.  Why do they find all the clues?  First of all they are highly trained and know what to look for.  Second if they don't find the clues the adventures comes to a halt.  Some folks may think this is lame or a cheat, but in a procedural type game, it is a necessity.  Let me tell you, even when the players have all the clues in front of them, interpreting them is no easy task.  Especially when you are like me and throw in a couple extra pieces into the jigsaw puzzle. 

I've run a Wednesday night group.  The group is only two folks.  I wanted to keep it very small because this kind of game requires a low noise factor.  It allows for immediate tension.  An absolute to act.  There is no group to blend into.  You're it, on the front lines, dealing with forces that you can very little chance of defeating.  But there is a chance.  And if you can interpret the clues correctly, your chances slowly creep up.

The premise of the game is the players work for an agency that is fighting esoterrorists who are trying to tear down the walls of reality.  The players job is to patch the holes and make sure very few are affected.  It is very similar to the Men in Black movies in this way.  Ultra-secret organization trying to protect the world from the truth.

I've been very pleased on how has run.  I'm still not all that knowledgeable about the system, but I know enough to house-rule what I don't know.  The setting and situation are a nice break from the medieval fantasy settings.  The one thing I warn you about is it requires you to role-play.  Not just "I flirt with the girl" or "I'll intimidate him" and then roll.  Nope.  Well, I guess you could do it that way, but I would imagine that would be a watered down and unsatisfactory game experience. 

In a later post I want to do is one about placing clues.  How to edit your mystery.  How simple or difficult your mystery should be.  And how to develop small details which become so vital to the game.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Two T-Shirts Going into the Rotation

It's been a weird day.  A t-shirt day.  No one has given me clothes for millions of years.  Today I received two t-shirts.  The first is a Game of Thrones t-shirt, a couple who I let borrow my GoT discs and acquired an addiction.  The husband bought three t-shirts for him and his wife (I work with her) to wear during the premiere.  She asked who the 3rd shirt was for and he said it was for me.  I love out of the blue, geekery (sp?) gratitude.



Then at lunch I go the post office and there is a package from Zazzle (I think).  I got my LIZARDMAN GLADIATOR t-shirt.  I was like, are you fucking kidding me?  I nearly disrobed right there on federal property to put it on.  But decided I did not need to collect misdemeanor offenses.


After these are washed they are going into the rotation. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Random Map Monday 15


I drew this one on Friday.  I liked how it turned out overall.  I added a new map element and that is a stone damn.  That's what that black thing is going across the creek.  It's made up of dozens of tiny circles.  I didn't have any ideas when I drew this map, but once it was done I thought of how this would be a two house homestead.  A harsh father with five sons who hones them into fighters.  He himself was a champion of the arena and now he expects nothing less from his sons.  That's about all I got.  Not sure how the damn or creek or pond work into it yet.

I had a sale on Starter Adventures (print version) over the weekend at Lulu.  I'd matched their 30% off with my own.  Seven people took advantage of the sale.  I was hoping for a few more, but that was seven more sales than I got the month before.  heh.  I need to get back to doing my monthly sales reports.  It helped me keep track.

This week I've got gaming nights on Monday and Wednesday.  Looking forward to the aftermath of slaughtering the people in charge and burning down their pretty keep.  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Starter Adventers, Sale Upon a Sale

Lulu is having a 30% off sale this weekend when you use the code: APRIL30.  So I saw some others matching that discount and I decided to do the same thing.  So I cut Starter Adventures print version by 30%.  BOOM!  If you've had it in your cart for a while or just doing a giant shop like I did, grab a copy, it's the lowest cost it has ever been. 

If you've got a player who is just starting to learn RPGs, Starter Adventures is a great product to have.  Short Adventure designed to assist someone learn the game.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Review: Barrowmaze

Three+ years ago I did a review on a newly released OSR mega-dungeon called, Barrowmaze by +Greg Gillespie .  I'd bought the PDF and did a review of it then.  I really dug the it.  Still do.  Recently I had a transaction with +Harald Wagener and he generously threw in a print copy of the original Barrowmaze.


My apologies to +Stefan Poag for blinding his beautiful cover with the flash.  I was thumbing through it again and found myself wanting to integrate into something I was running.  The whole mega-dungeon is basically a tomb and my favorite monsters/adventures to run involve undead.  A few years ago I ran it with two different groups.  While I did keep it intact, I ran it as a 'thing that was out there'.  Not the entirety of a campaign, but a significant landmark within the campaign.

My memory is not the greatest, but for me, it was the first OSR mega-dungeon I remember or at least the one the kindle my liking of mega-dungeons all together.  Greg developed a few interesting sub-games such as bashing in walls and looting burial coves.  A sledge hammer will fast become your friend.  Both these are time sinks, each time you do either you may cause that evil bastard behind the screen to roll another random encounter to gobble you up.

Here's how I used Barrowmaze.  In both instances Barrowmaze was well known and a hotspot for adventurers, and not just the party.  I played it like a boom town during the gold rush.  Secondary business sprung up around the known entrances.  Business folks knew adventurers were going to need things such as sledge hammers and healing potions, weapons and armor repair, booze, women, and some good old fashion religion.  And you could get it all outside and in the a few of the rooms inside Burrowmaze.  You just had to pay for it.  Basically I multiplied the standard price by ten.  Had one party become enterprising and they bought extra sledge hammers to sell to another set of adventurers within the crypts. 

I also did not play it as a mega-dungeon, but I let the mythology of the place speak of its size.  Usually the players would enter and explore a dozen or so rooms before exiting.  With so many undead around it was nearly impossible for the party to recover.  I used Barrowmaze to plant certain things to recover.  Maybe a magic item, or family heirloom or maybe Timmy fell down the Barrowmaze well and needed saving.

Barrowmaze was a place to get a lot of loot quick...or die quick.  Both happened.  Either way it provided a great setting to use.  I've always been a big fan of Barrowmaze.  The only fault I see in it is it needs a separate map booklet.   To solve that issue I was able to print the maps from the PDF and I taped them together.  I then used colored pencils (I know your shocked to hear I use those)  to assist me with keeping track of their trek.

Greg now sells Barrowmaze Complete over at RPGNow.  This includes the original Barrowmaze and the second Barrowmaze.  I can't comment of this book, but I have both the first and second Barrowmaze so I know the content is great.

And that is my Friday Feature this week.  I hope to be back next week and do a little something on a little something call a zine I recently received.  Time to sign off.  It's Friday.  And remember, the best thing about a cell phone is you can order your pizza to be delivered ahead of time so when you get home your pizza guy will be there already so no waiting. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Manor, Issue 8 - Sneak Peek

I've been plugging away at issue 8 of The Manor.  This issue has a great feature article from +Douglas Cole and +Peter V. Dell'Orto.  They've created a very usable system for Old School Grappling.  Also included in this issue is +trey causey who has a Strange Stars entry.  It is the first 'sci-fi' entry in the Manor.  And finally I'll have two pieces sandwiched in between this cover... 


Here's a sneak peek at the cover.  This is a mock-up for now.  The artwork is by +John Larrey.  I'm going to finalize what the cover looks like by this weekend, but this is pretty close as what the cover will look like.

In a week or two I hope to have the final piece in place and ready to go to the proofreaders.  This is going to be another fun issue. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Random Map Monday 14 (Just Under the Wire)


I think I prefer doing Random Map Mondays after work than before.  I am so negative otherwise.  He's one of the most recent maps I drew.  I went through a drought the other week and couldn't get myself to draw.  Then over the holiday weekend I drew four.

This one I went with the more textured trees.  Or sometimes I call them my 'brain trees'.  Instead of the blob trees.  A simple creek running through, some steep hills with colors contour line and a broken up building.  Oh, and a broken road.

I used this map in my latest Patreon, it is called Old Sloculm Road.  It's an out of the way place.  A road that once connected a kingdom that no longer exists.  This map spoke to me right away.  Told me what it wanted to be.  Here's the end result.


I used Xara to add the white backing to the labels to make them pop more.

When I go on Google+ and look at all the amazing maps people are doing, I mean some of these guys are absolute artists, and hope my maps add to the whole.  A little pontificating before sleep.