Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Robotech RPG Tactics: Game of Quotes

Robotech RPG Tactics
Very recently, the delivery concerning wave 2 of Robotech RPG Tactics (RRT) was again pushed out to an unspecific date in 2018. Who will take the plastic throne of Robotech RPG Tactics? Who will break the never ending wheel? First this manufacturer is on top, then this one, then Kevin Siembieda, then Essen Spiel, then that manufacturer, a power outage, the internet is down, and a spider stops by for a visit… And oh look! A squirrel!  In honor of this “development,” let’s talk about that. But, as I learned from the last time I posted about this project, (and for those new to this debacle) let’s recap.

Note: And yeah I'm a blogger with a grudge, while my friends are currently out their wave 2 "rewards."

Robotech RPG Tactics (RRT) surpassed its initial funding goal of $70k, to the tune of just over $1.4 million. Funding of the campaign ran April 18th thru May 20th 2013. In total, the crowdfunding roped in 5,342 backers. With a rough estimate that’s an average pledge, a bit over $260. While Kickstarter lists the project as completed, this is not actually true; as Palladium Books claimed dividing the project into two waves was the more efficient way to proceed. While the first wave was pushed back it was eventually delivered, with international shipping completed by May 13th 2015. While four years, and three months after funding... Wave 2 remains only a twinkle in Rick Hunter’s eye.
During this time the main comments section continues to roll (it will hit 100k soon). During the process of wave 1, complaints related to delays, the overall part count, positions of the seams and the skill level required for assembly of the game pieces, were many. However, in the last 2 years and while the (second wave of the) project has remained in ether, or as I like to call it the Game of Quotes, complaints have shifted, to outright anger and contempt. Most of this in regards to a clear lack of transparency by Palladium Books.

Since May 2015, despite the claim of Kevin Siembieda that the project will deliver... What has Palladium said, or more importantly shown, that this is in fact the case? The answer is not much. But let’s take a look back:

By: Kevin Siembieda
·       “…I want you to know there has not been any misappropriation of the funds raised by the Kickstarter, nor any wrongdoing of any kind. Not by me or anyone at Palladium Books.”

·       “…we have not been able to show you physical work, because we are exploring different possible solutions…” 

·       “As stated, we’re shooting to release RRT Wave Two around the end of 2015 or sometime in the first quarter of 2016.”

By: Kevin Siembieda

·       “…as we explore a number of different possibilities. For a variety of business reasons we cannot yet discuss or reveal exactly what we are looking into and considering.“

By: Kevin Siembieda

·       “As I have stated, for strategic and business reasons we have been unable to share with you everything Palladium has been exploring, considering and working on.”

By: Kevin Siembieda

·       “We are working on something exciting right now that, if it pans out, could change everything and help us bring you RRT Wave Two by the end of 2017.” 

·       “We have not released details these many months because everything has been in motion, and still is.”

By: Kevin Siembieda

·       This update Kevin Siembieda reveals that one of his freelancers (a co-creator of RRT) has attempted suicide after wading into the comments section of RRT to discuss the Rift Board Game.

By: Kevin Siembieda
·       “…we are trying to make improvements and headway on Wave Two rewards, via reduced part counts for easier assembly, reduced seams and better sprue layouts. This is happening right now, as we compare quotes utilizing new manufacturing approaches and technologies in the production processes to help attain what we are seeking, while preserving the high detail and quality.”

·       “…With Wave Two rewards having so many unique unit designs to be broken down and quoted, and with Essen Spiel (one of the largest gaming/miniatures conventions in Europe that is visited by many miniature manufacturers - just transpired in October) and the Chinese New Year over, we are hoping the congested pipeline for quotes will move much faster now.”

·       “Once we have the quotes, we can then decide which manufacturer(s) to move forward with. Unfortunately, this process does not yield visual results that can be publicly displayed.”

Angry Nird
What has Palladium Books been working on? Working on getting quotes (of coarse) and reducing the part count. But even being conservative, from the finished delivery of wave 1 (May 13th 2015), to KS last update (Feb 23 2017) that’s 22 months (counting days) or nearly two years. Two years of getting quotes!? C’mon man? Many are asking: what is the reason it’s taken two years?

More recently Scott Gibbons recently announced himself as Palladium Books business manager (or fresh face of the Game of Quotes) and apparently… comment wrangler extraordinaire. And in his first update he actually provided something a bit diiferent than: “For business reasons, we cannot share details about reasons… of um, err business.”

By: Scott Gibbons

·       “First, Wayne and Kevin spent half of Friday morning (7/16/2017) on a conference call with a manufacturer (I did not sit in on the call due to another pressing business need that morning). During the call they discussed the manufacturer’s initial quote on producing Wave 2 which we had received the day before. There were some points in the quote that needed clarification, as well as setting expectations for what we need in the finished game pieces. All in all it was a productive call and we are looking forward to getting a revised quote soon.“

·       “From here on out, I personally will be posting updates every two weeks - even if nothing has changed I will check in to let you know.”

By: Scott Gibbons
·       "Part of the conference call with the manufacturer on 6/16/2017 was spent discussing delivery in 2017. The manufacturer expressed that they believed a fourth quarter delivery was probably possible. We asked them to look closely at this while working up the revised quote and see if they could give us a firm commitment for delivery."

By: Scott Gibbons
·       “We have been in contact with the manufacturer I mentioned in the last update several times over the past two weeks, giving answers and clarifying our expectations on a number of issues. We had hoped to have their revised quote by now but are still waiting.” 

·       “In the meantime we have reached out to several other manufacturers (ten in total) in case the manufacturer we are currently working with is not able to satisfy our need for quality assurance, delivery time frame, etc. On that front, we have received responses from several that are interested in the project and a few that aren’t due to already full production schedules.”

·       “With the extended delay in getting back the revised quote, an end-of-year release for Wave 2 is beginning to appear less and less likely. However, we will not know until we see the quotes and hammer out all the final details.”

·       “Several people have asked for renders of the Wave 2 game pieces - I will work on getting those posted here for you.”

Update #202: Jul 18 2017

By Scott Gibbons
·      “We got three new quotes at the end of last week, a refined quote from the factory that we’ve been dealing with as well as initial quotes from two others that we had reached out to. We are currently analyzing the information in the quotes - a task that is not as simple as it may sound.”

By Scott Gibbons

·         One new Rendor…

Update #204: Aug 1 2017

By: Scott Gibbons
·      “We’ve gotten several quotes now from manufacturers, some of which are encouraging while others were not. “

·      "The manufacturer Palladium had been talking with when I came on board at the end of May has updated their quote to us. It is not what we were hoping for however, as their quoted price went up significantly. We’ve asked the broker who has been our go-between to seek additional details from the manufacturer about why the price jumped so much.”

·       Of the quotes we have gotten from other manufacturers, we are actively reviewing and comparing several of the most promising and there are two that are very promising. In fact, we were happily surprised with one particular quote, as everything we had heard about this broker and manufacturer said they did excellent work but tended to be expensive. We will be meeting with their reps at Gen Con, along with several other companies.” 

·       “We also had a soft-introduction this week with a domestic injection-molding company (our thanks to the gent who sent them our way).”

·       “With the dragged out quoting process we’ve been going through, unfortunately, I sincerely doubt that RRT Wave 2 will be finished with manufacturing by the end of this year.“

Update #205: Aug 15 2017

By: Scott Gibbons
·       “We have reviewed the quotes and pared down the selection to our top candidates for the job. We are looking forward to reviewing their manufacturing samples and terms before making our final selection.”
At this point even if Palladium Books completes wave 2 they have failed. They needn’t concern themselves with the 200-300 semi-irregular (and rightfully ticked) posters in the comments page. What they should be concerned about, is the 5k plus backers who aren’t commenting at all… They should realize that whatever they do, if wave 2 is finished, that alone doesn't build a game. The unfortunate mis-management of this project, the lack of transparency is and has been, just too much. Play the game of getting and squiring quotes long enough, and despite Scott Gibbons attempts, there really is little difference between what had come before:

“For business reasons, we cannot share details about reasons… of um, err business.”

And what is coming now, since Scott Gibbons has claimed the plastic throne. Or as one backer put it…
“Yeah, the WE'RE GETTING READY FOR GENCON!!!!!!!!! update. Can't wait to firm up those quotes at Gencon! Quote me on this, Wayne and Kevster are quoting the quotes to get a quota on some quotes. You can quote me that even though I Scooter the Magnanimous will not be there in person, Kevayne is totally Mouth watering to get some highly detailed quotes that will forever change the quote market with reduced parts to the spreadsheet. Have you ever tried to quote a spreadsheet? Don't quote me but the quotes will be quoted after Gencon. Buy sum product! Robotech bux!”

Who will take the plastic throne of Robotech RPG Tactics? Who will break the never ending wheel of quotes? It won’t be one of the ten quotes fielded from some random Chinese manufacturer…
Palladium Books can spin it how they like (and have), but the wheel is already broken.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Digital Release: Border of Yore, Collection 2

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Borders of Yore, Collection Two
Borders of Yore, Collection Two utilizes the designs of public domain and page/border art. This collection is perfect for OSR products/e-zines! Collection #2 consists of 13 pieces, which have been cleaned up, vectored and formatted. Derivative pieces and arrangements have been made from the originals. This product is available on &   
 Borders are 300 dpi with black lines
 Borders are clean and can be modified with software effects and image filters
 Borders are can be resized with software such as Adobe, Inkscape, Gimp.
 Each Border comes in Tif and PNG format
 Borders are best suited for page or booklet sizes, or smaller.
A fair use license is included with the PDF. This work includes both public domain and derivate work. Borders of Yore is formatted and intended for use in publishing. If this product has your interest check out Borders of Yore, Collection One which is available here.
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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Submissions Open: Knights of the Dinner Table Parting Shots
RPG Gag Comic
Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT) is currently looking for gag/comic submissions for Parting Shots. If your submission is accepted, you'll receive a copy of the issue in which the work appears, and flat rate payment of $25. Not to shabby. Also, your name will be printed in real ink within one of the (if not, The) best RPG magazine known man and woman kind. If you have any hope of punching your ticket for a future audience with the "gamer gawds of the many faced dice..." This friends, is your chance. No pressure, but don't blow it...

"Wait. What is Parting Shots?" You ask.

In each issue, KoDT publishes a one page treatment of fan created gag/comic style illustrations. The title of this page is Parting Shots. A gag is defined as a one panel comic or one picture (dialog is optional), which for KoDT is usually focused on gamer humor: spoofs on fantasy races, dice, or RPG shenanigans. The best advice I can give is to consider picking up an issue of KoDT and witness what has come before, first hand. The second best advice is to check out this very blog (or create something better than the pic above, which shouldn't be too difficult), or just click RPG Gag Comic (link includes comics on this blog).

If you do submit, give yourself the best chance by including your name and address. Kenzer and Co.'s submission guidelines are here, which indeed need an update, but I can confirm that after an inquiry with one of the editors, that Parting Shots is now included under paid content. Follow the guidelines. I can only offer advice as a fellow submitter... AKA, in an unofficial capacity, but you have questions just ask. Good luck! (and mind my, inside joke: (Egg Embry)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Review Burp: EN World & KoDT #246 RPG Reviews

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KoDT #246
Writing RPG Reviews for EN World & Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT) continues... For EN World, my reviews of Murders & Acquisitions and Sertorius posted last month; for KoDT I reviewed Simple Superheroes. Needless to say, but three very different RPGs.

Murders & Acquisitions is the first creation of Nerd Burger Games, a dry humored and (as I wrote in the review) delightfully absurd -corporate themed RPG. If you're in the market something different... I think it makes an excellent fill-in game. Crunch wise, it's a light and easy to learn system. The review on EN World is here.
Simple Superheroes

Sertorius is the third product I've had the pleasure of reviewing from Bedrock Games. I really like this RPG. This game includes a complete fantasy setting and the premise of the player character's taking the role as near demi-gods. The GM sections of this book are well done. The Review on EN World is here.

Simple Superheroes is a sandbox type RPG enabling player characters to create their own super powers and abilities. I enjoyed this RPG, but gave it a mixed review and I wasn't a huge fan of the overall layout of the book. There are certainly simpler games out, and due to layout I'd recommend the PDF over the dead tree version. I liked the GM section of this book as well. You can get a pretty good idea by checking out a succinct PDF outline of The Heart of Simple Superheroes -free of charge, here (no affiliation).

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Submissions Open: Freelancer Open Calls (Pathfinder)

If you're an artist, or a freelancer who is familiar with Pathfinder, consider checking the Paizo boards for the: Third-Party Publishers: Freelancer Open Call. Requests and the duties per request vary as well as rate of pay. Looking over the last two pages I see a couple of companies submitting open calls including Fat Goblin Games, Wayward Rogues Publishing, and d20pfsrd Publishing. Third-Party Publishers posting interest for paid content, is somewhat regular.

Submission Open is a RPG freelancer resource, but I need you're help to make this list viable. Know a company (one not on the current list) who has put out a submission call or creates a periodical RPG publication; and pays freelancers for content? Contact Me, tag me on G+, or type the relevant information in the comments.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

RPG Review: Crime Network

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Crime Network
Crime Network, Cosa Nostra
Written By: Brendan Davis, Steve Bowden and William Butler
Published By: Bedrock Games
Review By: J.L. Duncan

Welcome to Crime Network, Cosa Nostra. This review concerns the portable document format (PDF). Print and PDF products are available through the company website at As I recently watched The Godfather trilogy I’m feeling inspired to write this review. We begin by letting the game speak for itself…

“Crime Network is a fast-paced, gritty role playing game, set in the underworld of organized crime. Players control mobster characters as they rise through the ranks of the American Mafia. In the spirit of Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco, and The Godfather, players will work with and against each other in their pursuit of infamy.” (Pg. 5)

Crime Network is exactly the above; a mafia themed role playing game (RPG), which utilizes a basic system of rules which are just as easy to learn as apply.

In regards to mechanics, the system is for the most part what I call a skill based and utilizes a unique D10 dice system. This system doesn’t include incremental +1 or +2 modifiers to damage etc. but relies on the number of dice to increase the chance of success, given a specific situation.

In short, dice rolls involve the player rolling against a target number (TN) set by the Game Master (GM). Character skill or level of aptitude, is reflected in the total number of dice rolled. A player with less skill may attempt to succeed using one dice, while a player with great skill rolls up to six dice. As long as one of the dice the player rolls is a number equal or higher than TN, the character succeeds on the specific task. Though combat is bit more involving (and death delightfully just around the corner), as well as situation and circumstance may have a number of modifiers explained in the rules, this in a nutshell is the system.

The timeline of Crime Network is modern day. The main setting is Baybridge, a city on the coast under the yoke of organized crime. The city setting is sprinkled with a respectable amount of detail, while plenty is left to the GMs creativity to fill in. Baybridge is made up of twenty-two districts. Each district is provided with a basic outline, a few notable businesses and recent “family,” happenings. Following this a section is dedicated to specific gangsters their personalities and criminal activities. The setting information is very well presented and provides a respectable amount of tools to assist in getting a game going.

Featured is the adventure, “Remo Loves Lucy.” While it’s certainly serviceable, it’s a bit mundane in my opinion for a featured adventure. The introduction specifically mentions the game as one of paranoia and suspense, the adventure doesn’t reflect this, more on this, later.

Chapters written to assist the GM with weaving and running a mafia themed RPG present the basic tropes of (movie inspired) the gangster existence. While there isn’t much original it was nice (even essential) to be able to reference these themes in writing.

Overall, Crime Network is a sort of hit and miss, RPG. The writing is well executed, I felt as an RPG it could have done a better job by showing in certain parts, rather than telling.

Also content of some sections just didn’t capture the essence of the heading. Specifically, this is reflected in the Creating Tensions section where the advice summarizes to-and I’m paraphrasing: eventually a gangster character will be targeted to be whacked, perhaps months after a possible transgression and the GM has to decide whether or not to leave that task to the other player characters. I just don’t think the above really captures the essence of tension. Certainly it might create tension between players rather than characters, but this isn’t the sort of tension I usually enjoy with my RPGs.

Tension in any gangster movie I’ve watched usually related to one or two themes, getting caught or the power struggle. Tension is a matter of degree and hard to encapsulate. There are hints of this throughout Crime Network, but central to the game? Ehh!?

Like I mentioned, hit and miss. I really enjoyed the system and the setting elements of this game. I like it when creators balance the setting information as they did in this case: A good amount of detail, a good amount left to the GM to create. The art and layout is refreshingly crisp and easy to follow. I think the game does a decent job of scratching the surface of a mafia themed RPG, though I’d like to have read a bit more depth. 

The price for a PDF Crime Network Cosa Nostra is currently $1.99. Is that an offer you can’t refuse? I’ll leave it to you.

Disclosure: This review is property of Kenzer and Company, originally published in KoDT, and republished here with permission.

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Review Burp: Alpha Blue RPG Reviews with Stuffer Shack

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Alpha Blue
RPG reviews for Stuffer Shack begins! My review of Alpha Blue (link to Stuffer Shack) was posted just this last Friday. As mentioned prior (with Submissions Open), Stuffer Shack is paying a flat rate for RPG related articles and reviews. If you're interested the submission guideline is here. And the best advice I can give, is to browse the site to get a better idea of the sort of content they might be interested in.

In the future, I'll be including my announcement(s) of RPG reviews with Stuffer Shack along with what publishes with Knights of the Dinner Table and posts with EN World. But, it felt right to post a brag... err, I mean announcement of this first review. I've already got my next title for review with Stuffer Shack lined up... I just have to put aside the time.

Oh, yeah as to Alpha Blue? Well, you'll have to just head over to Stuffer Shack and read the review (duh)... But in the meantime, should I ever get the chance to run Alpha Blue... I'm running it in the 41st century.

And how did this movie get a PG rating in 1968!


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trouble on the Road: Part Three

Part One: Here
Part Two: Here


Interior of the Carriage
As Elian is spins his false tale of woe and attempts to place the coachmen's corpse in the carriage, the GM can introduce any number of the items which belong to the Dorman family. How the GM does this, as well as the number of clues which are available, is at the GMs preference. If the player characters inquire more about the scene (the interior or exterior of the carriage) the clues should be revealed. As they are revealed, Elian will fiction an adequate story for each as explained below.  

The exterior of the carriage has two rectangular, open air windows at the back of each flank, offering no view of the perch from inside. A thick beige fabric shrouds the view (and is latched) inside. The interior of the carriage is a total mess. This is because Elian was in search of valuables until the player characters arrived on the scene. Clothes, a few empty containers and some food stuff are strewn throughout. If you’d prefer a random clue roll d4

1) Sitting upright in the corner adjacent to the doorway is a corset.
2) The frill and lace of high quality ladies dress in two sizes (Ulna’s & Dorna’s) and a large bulge at the center of it which the iron lock box will be revealed if the clothes are moved.
3) An ornate ivory comb, which closer inspection reveals long strands of fair hair. Elian’s hair is short and brown.
4) A blood splattered tunic is at the bottom of the tangled mess (Elian’s)
GMs Dialog Example:
GM: “As Elian opens the door you (addressing the group) notice the interior of the carriage is a total mess and reeks of spilt wine. Clothes, books, a few empty containers and some food stuff are strewn chaotically throughout.”

Player Character, Camden: "What about the mess inside the carriage?"

GM: “Camden, in addition to the mess,(Gm rolls D4, result is a 1) the lace and distinct curve of a corset catches your eye.”

Exterior of the Carriage
Besides the body, nothing to peculiar about the exterior of the carriage unless the player characters specifically inquire and/or make effort to investigate. The road itself is rocky and hard revealing little in the way of tracking clues, though looking to the ground might reveal clue #4. Player characters should discover a recent trail left by Talen and the Dorman family, though the grass to the grove of trees to the northeast, should they search for it away from the road.

1) Close examination of Elian’s frayed leather ridding gloves, reveals blood. The gloves are stained with blood from the killing stroke.
2) The perch of the carriage (where the coachman sat) is heavily stained with blood but a hand crossbow is upon the seat, unstained (because it belongs to Talen). 
3) The coachman has a wound on his arm. A piece of broken shaft and smallish bolt (which fit the hand crossbow) are revealed if the arm is inspected.
4) Partially beneath the back wheel is a small toy horse, on closer inspection at the bottom of the child’s trinket, the name Dorna is carved.

Elian’s Silver Tongue

If the player characters voice their observations to one another and are overheard or question Elian directly, he has a sufficient story to explain most suspicions away. (Each Instance: *Td6*) 
The mess inside the carriage he attributes to his own panic while searching for his sword and old gloves during the attempted robbery. Fact, The mess is Elian scrounging for items of value.

The ivory comb, ladies clothing & corset belonged to patrons, who fancied more than his acting and donated them for use as actor props. The fact is that these are possessions of Ulna and Dorma.
The toy horse a toy he bought at a bizarre which he’s gifting to his niece. The horse is Dorma’s toy and her name is inscribed on the bottom.

The coachman and his fatal wounds as well as the hand crossbow he will claim to know nothing of. The coachman’s fatal wound was delivered by Elian’s short sword at his hand. The hand crossbow is Talen’s weapon left here thoughtlessly while binding the family.

Elian: “So much blood, I couldn’t do anything to help the man. It was too late.”

If the player characters catch the above line and recall that Elian claimed on two prior occasions (bolded prior) that he never left the carriage, as well as the windows of the carriage which are situated at the rear, and don’t afford a view of the perch, award them (additional XP for attention). Still, Elian will hold to the story long as the player characters keep their distance. If the player characters inquire about the contradictions Elian will stutter a bit, but claim that he was in such a state of fright and panic he can’t honestly recall what he did or did not do.  
If the player characters ask to examine Elian’s sword gloves, he will refuse to allow either to be closely examined. His reaction upon request will reflect guilt. The sword was sheathed hastily without wiping and gloves spattered with blood, revealing his deception to this point and the fact that he delivered the killing stroke. Keep in mind that if the player characters have allowed Elian to lift the body into the carriage he could have received some of that blood on his gloves, which in fact this is what he will claim.

Attempted Custody (*Td6*)

Aggressive actions directed towards Elian at any point will be met with harsh threats, pending actual guilt is yet revealed. Looking through the carriage forcefully without permission Elian never breaks character. GMs should play him how you like but I prefer to play him with a certain aristocratic air about him. The moment his bloody tunic is discovered, or guilt is determined obvious by the player characters, Elian will make an attempt to flee. 
“Do you fools know who you’re dealing with? I am a great and favored actor of these lands! People for mile upon miles love and favor me. Mind you-people in high places! Those who try and manhandle me or-mine shall be digging themselves an early grave!”

“No doubt you plan to rob me as well!”
If the player characters attempt to “handle,” Elian in an impolite manner Elian will strategically position himself to make sure they have not surrounded him or cut off his exit for flight.

If the player characters attempt to procure Elian’s sword through physicality he will brandish the weapon (revealing his guilt). Being outnumbered he uses it sparingly making all efforts to escape. Elian is very mindful (as guilty folks often are) of his surroundings as well as how the player characters position themselves about his person. If a grab is attempted, his first action will be to duck and roll beneath the carriage to the other side, breaking into a full sprint for the grove. Make an opposed roll. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Map! Products & Borders of Yore: Chirstmas in July!

Map! Tower Ruin & Map! Swamp Dock are currently 25% off, as part of the "Christmas in July Sale." My publisher's resource product, Borders of Yore is also available. Admittedly I'm not huge fan of Drivethru's frequency of sales. I usually I don't option in. However, nearly coming up on this blog's one year blogiversary, I figure I'd give this one a try, as a test. Is this sale better than "Products written in Chinese Sale," or the "Thanksgiving on the second Tuesday of the Month Sale?" (Note: Those sales don't exists, I'm being smart) Ehh... We'll give this one a shot...
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Product Page Link Sale!!!
Borders of Yore

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Trouble on the Road: Part Two

Part One is Here 

Narrative (to be read aloud) is in blue,

(*Td6*) = Timeline Mechanic, described in Part One

-Encounter Introduction- (*Td6*)
“Beside the occasional farm, your travel on the old road is unmet and uneventful. Groves of deciduous trees highlight the countryside. The occasional gust of wind services to cool the warmth of the mid-morning sun. For 100 hundred feet the road meanders up a modest hill…

As the hill plateaus you see the rear and side outline, of an enclosed passenger carriage. The two horsed carriage is off the right side of the road. The horses idle.
At the perch of the carriage a boot and pant leg hangs over the road side, presumably of a coachman with his back against the frame of the carriage, seemingly at rest.”

The player characters are approximately 60ft away; approaching the carriage from the rear (Starting position marked by S, bottom center).

If the player characters exercise caution: (*Td6*)
If the player characters exercise caution by inquiring more about the carriage or the scene in general, emphasize that the carriage is one of luxury; enclosed and crafted of study wood and iron. The carriage is more common to a city living, than country roads. The carriage door is parallel to the road, at the center of the cab. The oak box step beneath, is trimmed in copper. The carriage has one window (2) on each flank toward the rear. Each window is shrouded by a beige curtain, fastened on the inside. The seat of the perch is at the front and somewhat above level of the frame carriage. 

When the player characters are within 20ft: (*Td6*)
When the player characters are within 20ft, perform a Hear Sounds check. For Labyrinth Lord, classes which don’t have this mechanic; House rule: rolling a 1 on a D6 indicates success. Unless a player initiates the check the nature of the roll is unknown to the players.
Success entails that the player character will hear Elian scrounging about the cab, hear the squeak of the iron suspension and once heard, notice the slight lateral shift of the carriage against the wheel. In short the character is certain that someone is inside the cab.

If the player characters hail the coachmen or carriage: (*Td6*)

The coachmen’s body is positioned with his back to the player characters. The body is upright on the perch. The head and shoulders rest against the frame of the carriage. The coachman is clothed in leather and dark brown fabric, which makes the stain of blood less obvious. If the player characters attempt hail the coachman, Elian emerges from the cab.

If the player characters sneak up on the carriage: (*Td6*)
When the player characters are Within 10 feet they will certainly notice a pool of blood on the ground below the front wheel and which the origin of this blood is of the coachman.

Once within 10ft roll 1d6 for each character. Any result of 3 or more indicates one of characters have spooked the horses. The horses are a bit high strung due to recent events and neigh loud enough to alert Elian to the presence, which he emerges from the cab.
In the event that the characters have snuck all the way to the carriage unnoticed and if they should happen to open the carriage door Elian will be surprised. His reaction and whether his guilt is revealed, such as drawing a blood stained short sword, is up to the GM.

If the player characters hail the coachmen or their presence is revealed, read the following

“As you approach (or as you hail the coachmen), the carriage shifts and the side door opens. A shirtless man in leather breaches, gloves and boots leans out from door. He sees you and steps upon the block of step beneath the threshold, with a gloved hand guarding the scabbard of his short sword.
The passenger says (or shouts if further than 20 ft. away), “What an eventfully damned day! And who are you? More robbers I suppose?”

The passenger puts his hand to the scabbard of his sword and steps off the carriage; the shift of weight causes the body of the coachman to fall face first from the perch to the road.”

Optional narrative, pending the player character’s awareness (if they had snuck close enough to notice) that that coachman is dead:
“The coachman is dead and not from the fall. You can now see the top of his head is a mess of blood and flesh. A savage looking cleave-mark at the crown of the skull exposes brain.”

-Character Encounter: Elian- (*Td6*)
Elian spins his “tale” of recent events (perhaps a bit too enthusiastically) while hefting the coachman off the road and inside the carriage. Elian’s story is horribly inconsistent. Upon the first read through, GMs should take note as to what is bolded.  

1) Elian claims that he never left the carriage during the (fictitious) assault. An examination of the short sword on his hip (hastily wiped), and/or gloves, reveals blood spatter, suggesting otherwise.
2) Later, Elain claims to have attempted to help the coachmen with his wounds. In addition to supposedly never leaving the carriage, he didn’t even take the coachman down from the perch. The coachman’s wound was certainly enough to cause instant death.

The GM can play this a number of ways. Recommended, is to commit to a character that is immodestly self-consumed and slightly pompous. The following dialog is a guideline, but there is a lot of room to make the Elian’s story more or less consistent to what has actually transpired.
Would one of you be kind enough to give me hand (with the body) here?

I’m sorry you had to see that, but thank the gawds you’ve come along. We’ve had some trouble here-some bandits killed my man, in front. I was so frightened until you came, I didn’t even think about leaving the carriage. I couldn’t see much of it from my view in the back. Windows here out the back sides. Poor desperate souls tried to rob us, I believe. Whoever they were, the rabble fled once my other man confronted them. He gave chase on horseback into that thicket of trees!
Elian points to a large grove of deciduous trees (supposing) northwest of the carriage. Indeed it is the grove Talen has taken the Dorman family. If the Elian’s talk spurs the player characters to charge for the grove, Elian will shout, “No wait! It may have been in that direction,” now pointing northeast, feigning uncertainty.

If the player characters remain with the carriage: (*TD6*)
Elian introduces himself: as Elian Stormspire, the highest paid actor and talent of the land, performer for kings, lords and ladies of fine standing. GMs should consider adding as much theatrical flair as they are capable, but a few jazz hands and a bow should be sufficient. Without being asked and once introductions have concluded, Elian continues the ruse saying that his journey is to a nearby city, where his acting and stage talent have been procured for a season festival.

If the player characters press Elian for more information: (*Td6*)
In regards to the scuffle, the number of bandits, weapons, or ask, if the bandits were on horseback. Elian will claim cowardice and which he heard the scuffle better than witnessed it, never leaving the safety of the carriage. Once the coachman is inside-Elian finds a shirt (surprisingly) close to fit and puts it on.

If the conversation remains civil: (*Td6*)
And if the player characters seem to believe him, he will certainly offer the group employment as escorts for the remainder of his supposed journey, once Talen returns.

Part Three is Here

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trouble on the Road: Part One ( I need input)

Trouble on the Road is a short encounter designed for Labyrinth Lord or Basic, but for the most part is system neutral. Included are a couple of unique features, which a more experienced Game Master (GM), might option to use only in part, or discard entirely.

·         Blue (classically, Boxed) text is presented in two sorts. The first is scene narrative, which is to be read aloud to the players. The second is dialog, which may or may not be read aloud, but more so intends to present the disposition of the non-player character (NPC) speaking.

·         A Timeline Mechanic underlines this encounter. Though for the most part the mechanic is in the background, its execution can alter the sequence of events and so following, change the outcome of the encounter.    
The encounter is for 3-5 characters of 1st to 2nd level, but some consideration is needed for game balance. Recommended, is that the two NPCs should be slightly less or at maximum, equal the cumulative experience level of the character group.  For instance, a group of four 2nd level characters is 8 levels to distribute between the two NPC bandits. How these levels are distributed is left to GM: 5th & 3rd; 4th & 4th etc., and relevant to the mechanics of the system.

-Encounter Overview-
The encounter begins on an isolated road, with a carriage robbery in mid progress. Two bandits, Elian Stormspire and Talen Crow, murdered the coachmen and halted the carriage. The passengers are Dorman his wife Ulna and the couple’s eight year old daughter Dorma. Before the player characters arrive at the carriage, Talen has led the family off the road to nearby grove of trees. Currently, Talen and the family are out of sight. Elian is within the cab searching for items of value.
When encountered at the carriage, Elian spins a false account: that he and the coachmen were the victims of an attempted robbery. And that his guard Talen, chased the rabble rousers off and should be returning soon.    
Talen and the family are unaware of the player characters arrival at the carriage. He has transported the family using his and Elian’s mount. Talen’s task is to bind the family to a tree and leave them such that they should be able to untie themselves once the bandits are afforded a head start. The original plan to escape with the carriage may be followed through depending on the player characters.
Though indeed Elian and Talen are criminal opportunists and have murdered the coachman-neither are cold blooded killers or willing to slaughter an eight year old girl and her family for a few months’ worth of coin. The two live by the golden rule of lawlessness: Steal enough gold, make your own rules. The level of infamy, if any is left for the GM to decide.
At the GMs preference, Dorman is a successful merchant or minor lord somewhat influential. The family was in route to the funeral of Ulna’s father. Dorman had made haste upon receiving the news, mistakenly traveling lite and under protected.
 -GM Notes-
·      The encounter starts (line of sight) as the player characters are 60ft from the carriage.
·      The coachman is dead. Upon first impression he is seemingly at rest.
·       Elian is within the cab, searching for items of value.
·       Talen and the family are 40 feet within the foliage, and out of sight from the road. The perimeter of the grove is 60 feet from the carriage.
·       Talen is in the midst of binding the family to a tree.
Timeline Mechanic
Talen becomes aware of the character group, if and only when he has finished binding the family. The completion of his task is represented by a Timeline Mechanic. Each member of the Dorman family is representing by 1d6. A Cue: (*Td6*), indicates when the GM rolls this mechanic. A single die total of 6 translates that Talen has successfully bound one of the family members to the tree located on the map. The GM rolls 3d6 when the encounter starts 1d6 for each member of the Dorman family and rolls one less dice on future rolls for any result of 6. Example: rolling two sixes indicates that two family members are bound. The next Timeline Mechanic only requires 1d6.
·         If player characters venture into the grove and Talen has not finished his task, the likelihood that he is surprised is 3 in 6. The order Talen binds the family is Dorman, Ulna, Dorna.

Notes: So... It's been slow goin' for Trouble on the Road, my short road encounter (I'm callin' it an in-between adventure) for D&D Basic/LL. Finishing it by August is a no go. I haven't even begun to tackle the illustrations I wanted to create for it; I'm not even in the "warming up my formerly, semi-artistic abilities" stage (seriously, yes, as a creator I'm just as pretentious as that sounds). RPG Reviews have picked up, and I have a whole host of other excuses I'll just not mention... Honestly, sometimes I look at this blog and think ugh! I need to post something! So I'm going to attempt to kill two gnome thieves (evil procrastinating bastards they are), with one series of blog posts.
I cannot emphasize this enough: Comments, critique, grammar and spelling corrections, noting word usage errors (which I'm really good at) and whole host of whatever comes to mind as you read the above is welcome. Keep in mind: This part one other parts will be forthcoming as time allows. Any input and/or discussion is appreciated. 

Trouble on the Road: Part Two