Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Greesed Pigs and Flaming Oil

A group of 0-level non-adventurers have entered the BARROWMAZE to try to make their fortunes. I am using the Dungeon Crawl Classics Beta Test 0-Level character rules. In our first session a peasant sheep herder's dog protected the body of its fallen master, heroically destroying three skeletons after the adventuring party fled leaving the dog alone to its fate.

In this latest 4 hour game session my group restocked with some new 0-level replacement fodder including a 0-level Dwarf farmer with a pig. I should mention the sow was intended as "trade goods" but the player with the sow insisted on taking it along and lowering the poor creature into the Barrowmaze as a companion. Ultimately, I am okay with this kind of thing. If "piggers" gives the player some joy and a roleplay handle through which to connect to her character, who am I to argue?

The party managed to open one door in the Barrowmaze room 11/Q2 - a room with a deadly giant crab spider above the door that dropped on the first character inside. The spider combat was noisy and long and afterwards 3 characters were dead (this is okay the 0-level rules expect a high mortality.) The players argued among themselves as it was pointed out that the party had suffered as much if not more loss at the hands of a character on the players side, who insisted on throwing flasks of flaming oil into the melee.

And as the players fooled around: argued, searched the room for treasures, looked for secret doors, it came time to roll a random monster encounter. Six zombies on the way down the hallway.

The zombies were spotted by the look-out (the previously mentioned oil toting pyromaniac) who began chucking flaming oil at the approaching hoard. This gave another of the players an idea, who decided to grease up the dwarf farmer's pig (the dwarf farmer died fighting the spider) and send it squealing chaotically down the hallway. (In retrospect I should have ruled that these actions could simply not be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time, and wouldn't be realistic for use in this combat. But, I didn't think of that.)

The Dwarf's player still had three living 0-level characters and they took offense at the idea of using the deceased Dwarf farmer's pig as a suicide bomber. This incited new arguments. (I should mention that this kind of thing is actually pretty healthy around my game table, everyone gets along very well and heated discussions in character are generally enjoyed by all.) The problem was this was happening in the middle of a zombie attack.

The while the pyro kept throwing oil which did effectively slow the zombies down some, one of the players representing "Piggers" commenced to stab with a dagger another player's character who insisted on greasing the pig over objections. Lines were drawn and combat between players commenced. Zombie threat ignored.

Maybe I should have stepped up as the DM and stopped this ... but everyone playing is an adult over 30. We have all been playing together long enough to know better. If this is what they wanted to do ... I didn't stand in their way ... I just pressed forward with the zombies, now in melee range with the pyro.

One of the players decides that the rest of the party is crazy and decides to beat feet out of the dungeon, his four characters set out, but the path to freedom is covered in zombies and fire. So, they go the opposite direction deeper into the dungeon ... ??! Wha?

Before opening the spider room door (where the party has retreated) the party explored the neighboring room first because it was already open (door broken open, crypt defiled ... 11/D3) a phantom there scared the entire party who fled (all but one character) screaming back to the entrance. This was the first encounter of the night picking up after our first game session.

The player whose group had decided to leave had already forgotten about the phantom and waltzed right into that room. Saving Throws were failed and the exiting group ran screaming away from the phantom and head first into pyro and the zombies.

Now the zombie combat was on and players stopped fighting and joined the fray. And the pig was greased up and thrown into the zombies ... after which it promptly ran away (currently safe and sound in the entrance chamber with one abandoned sheep herders dog.) The flames had died down enough that they did not ignite "Piggers" and the entire grand scheme was for naught. The zombies were eventually defeated.

Doors opened: 1
Rooms explored: 2
Monsters killed: 6 zombies, 1 giant crab spider
Player character deaths: 7
Pigs set on fire: 0

... and the crazy thing is ... all the players had a great time!

Regards from the Barrowmaze,

Jeff Moore

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What I'm Playing Now

I am one of the lucky ones who gets to game. I have a group that meets once a week. We miss the occasional week due to conflicts but manage to meet fairly regularly. I am bad about consistency though. As a game lover there is always one more game I want to try. And this week I did it again, and started a new campaign.

I was reading on some other blogs about D&D and what Wizards of the Coast should do to make the game a better game … and in getting ready to run my latest game, which I want to be a dungeon crawl in the spirit of the D&D I played as a youth … I suddenly realize, “I don't care.”

What WoC/Hasbro does with D&D is nothing I need to worry about. The game that I knew and role-playing games like it will be around in one form or another. I am getting ready to start a classic style dungeon crawl, but using actual D&D rules never crossed my mind.

If you like Original D&D there's Labyrinth Lord, Dark Dungeons, and Swords and Wizardry

If you like 1st Edition there's OSRIC and Basic Fantasy and Castles and Crusades

If you like 2nd Edition Myth and Magic looks promising.

If you like 3.5 D&D check out Pathfinder.

If you like 4th Edition there's Descent: Journeys in the Dark.

(Okay, I jabbed a little fun at 4E there by comparing it to a board game, but that's how it makes me feel, and besides .... Descent is a great board game.)

Anyway, the point is … I never even considered D&D (as in actual D&D) as my go to choice when I decided to play “D&D.” And I don't have to. I will never miss it. The games I mention above are a fraction of what's available and many of them are available for free.

As it happens I am very fond right now of: Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Role-playing. And, I want an old school dungeon crawl, so I am running the Barrowmaze.

Now, I am using LotFP as my core rules set, (It simply uses the cleanest, easiest, most logically streamlined iteration of original D&D that I have seen.) but the other awesome thing about living in a world with so many choices is that I don't have to pick just one game to work from. Barrowmaze is written for use with Labyrinth Lord so I have that handy for the monsters.

Also, sometimes a game has good ideas that you just have to steal. Goodman Games' Dungeon Crawl Classics has a system for random character generation they call “the funnel” that I just had to try … and the game Thursday night was a blast!

Everyone had a great time. It was even pointed out that “the funnel” would be a great tool for introducing new players to the hobby. The funnel works like this: everyone generates a few random characters (we did 4 each). These are completely random 0 level characters. This is good for new players because they get to touch character generation without the need to understand or know the rules at all. Everything is random: 6 Random Attributes, 1 Random Occupation (that comes with a tiny bit of possessions) and you're done.

The trick is, each character begins with -100 XP and you throw them into the dungeon as they are and the hoard of neophyte 0-level peons all struggle to survive and come out with just a little treasure and enough experience to put them in the plus column. Fatality is high and dying is even fun. The dungeon is scary again for these “true noobies.” And if anyone of them makes it out alive with just 1 XP then the character can choose his class. And at this point, the player is invested!

Can you see how awesome this little gimmick is for getting new players started in the adventure? (The highlight of our game was a lucky little sheep herder's dog that single handedly destroyed the remains of three skeletons defending the body of its fallen master. I was just going to handwave the dog's death following the party's retreat, but the players wouldn't hear of it. And miraculously the little pup survived!) Amazing how fun survival is when fatality is so imminent.

“The funnel” allows players to play with no prior knowledge of the rules. It's an “on the job dungeon crawl training device” and a bit of brilliance from the Dungeon Crawls Classics Beta Test rules. I checked and the full game isn't out yet, but check it out when you can. It has some wonky ideas that I just can't see at my table, but that's the risk of being innovative … but it also has some great ideas crammed inside its pages, and the point I wanted to make when I started this post is that all these rules are adaptable and adoptable.

With all the OSR and similar material available “Modular D&D” or “D&D Next” already exists and I am playing it now!



Monday, March 19, 2012

A+ Fantasy and HiLo Heroes released to Creative Commons

So, I lost both HiLo and A+ to a HDD crash in (2006?) and I got it into my head to retype them so I would have working copies for the future. It seemed like a great idea, but it did not take into consideration my less than stellar typing abilities (My typing is LOW / Weak -1) ... and I want to be a writer ... LOL.

Well, HiLo is done. The new version is up and available at right. Note that it is almost identical to the original as my goal was to recreate that game. Some of the art is different, and a word change here or there ... but it's the exact same game. This one does include the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license ... so feel free to reproduce at your leisure and if you want a copy of the Open Office "ODT" document, drop me a line by clicking on my name in the Dreams and Dragons sub-title above and I will get one to you right away.

The art isn't Creative Commons, it's copyright Louis Porter Jr. and those licenses were all re-purchased and updated for this release. Now, after having gone to all this trouble for HiLo, I went a much lazier route with A+ Fantasy. I decided I didn't need an editable original right now and just slapped a new cover around the old document using a PDF merging application. The Creative Commons license is added with the new cover and I am ready to move on. You can also get this updated version of A+ by clicking on the image on the right.

Moving on means work on a revised "HiLo Heroes." My greatest hope in doing the reconstruction of the original document was that I might become inspired to work on a new version, and that has worked. I have many new ideas and will be putting something together in the near future.


Jeff Moore

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Create this Super Hero contest!

Okay ... so I am working on reformatting "HiLo Heroes" and putting it back out here as Creative Commons. I lost all the original docs for it and for "A+ Fantasy" after a HDD crash about 6 years ago. Some great guys have been doing characters and optional rules suggestions for "HiLo Heroes" and have inspired me to pursue the game more aggressively. I plan on releasing the existing HiLo largely unchanged as Creative Commons and then working from there on some suppliments and expansions without touching the original game. Again, all done under the CC-BY-NC-SA unported license.

I am pretty excited and motivated to get this done, but there are as always distractions ... take for example: September Carrino. LOL (Hey, I am only human.) ... But, what if September Carrino isn't?! (Human, I mean.) She certainly appears bigger than life! Perhaps she is a superhero!! Look at her! The pink and gold costume! The dragonfly tattoo! She looks like a super hero to me!

So, here's the challenge:

Create a HiLo Heroes character and Hero Identity for September Carrino as pictured in her costume above.

Can you do it? As a prize, I have a print version of HiLo Heroes that I got from MagCloud and I will mail it out to the best entry!! Oh, and if you don't have a copy of HiLo yet click on the cover image to the right, these links go to my public Drop Box folder; no need to mess with Scribd anymore.

Good Luck!


Jeff Moore
(mesmerized by huge tracks of superheroic land)