Friday, March 31, 2017

Review Burp: KoDT #242

KoDT #242
My review of Adventurer Conqueror King (ACKS) published in issue #242 of Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT) magazine.

ACKS is a D&D stew of sorts, but it is also has some interesting features, which distinguish it from other clones. The best of this system is the Strongholds and Domains section, which provides a nice framework for players and Game Masters to make these elements more playable.

Disclosure: The banner below and the link to game under review includes my RPGNow.com affiliate identification  I receive token % in compensation if you purchase something on the landing page.


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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

RPG Gag Comic: My Feelings on the Gnome/Thief Archtype

As the title says. Also because: It's Tuesday. And I don't have the time to write a thoughtful post. And people like pictures, more than words anyway.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Making a Thing!: Part Two & General Updates

Old School RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com"
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Trouble on the Road

"Traveling, the player characters come upon a carriage robbery, mid progress. The passenger who emerges from the carriage is not a victim of road bandits, despite his claim, but one of two road bandits in the midst of this robbery."  

Update: The bulk of this adventure is written. I'm in the editing process now. I received some good feedback on the first draft, as to suiting it for OSR. I've changed it for use with Labyrinth Lord as I've just began running a campaign out of the Black Box 1070 (and I'm picking up the Rules Cyclopedia, before the PCs hit 5th level). For the most part with the editing; the goal is to be more specific, spotting and cutting out the verbiage. As it stands the word count is around 5k. I don't know what the final total will be and word count isn't really all that important, as long as the writing is as tight as it can/should be. Being fair this is going to take some time (says, my dyslexia).

I was able to do some work with one of the maps during the week:



It's certainly an improvement, from where (link to another page on this blog) I started. I would like to keep this map black and white, but the look of the field between the road and the grove of trees is something I've got to figure out. I've been looking for examples in black and white art, but I haven't found the right look. If anyone can point to good black and white maps, which depict grass/foliage etc., I'd love a link in the comments.

I also did some preliminary NPC character sketches in pencil. I haven't transferred these to my computer yet. I thought to use this Elmore, Stock are collection but I'm probably not going to. It's been awhile, but these character sketches don't look to bad.

General Updates:

I received a modest commission last weekend from someone who liked the look of my Map! products. The link to my drivethru page is here, if you'd like to check'em out. I've spent most of this week putting the initial look together. Here is the pic, that came with the commission:



This included with a couple of changes. That the trees be more cartoony and that the exterior wall/moat barrier of the exterior keep, should be more rounded. I've got plenty of time as the requestor noted his group plays once a month and shouldn't arrive (at said location) till Christmas. It's for a Western RPG, but I didn't ask which. Here is the work on that:





Obviously, I need to get a better handle on vector graphics. This commission was unexpected. This will be my last project using the wonderful, but limited MS paint. I'm really creating from scratch when I do these. I have some templates that I use (as to size etc.) but really you have to have a monk like mentality when you go to work with this program. After I finish, I'll certain be adding this to the Map! product line.

I have only a base knowledge in vector graphic software. I released Borders of Yore on drivethru recently, which is a collection of public domain and derivative, border art. One of these pieces I'm using as for the table of contents page for Trouble on the Road. I think these pieces are great for that purpose, or mostly for frill/page border art. I used gimp and inkscape to get them all set. I'll probably put together a second collection as time permits.

I'd love to look at something your working on. Feel free to leave a link to it in the box below. And because it seems that nothing sells like shameless self promotion, please click on the banner below and see if any of my Map! products might be serviceable for your adventures/campaigns.


Map! Products

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Digital Product Release: Borders of Yore

Savage Worlds: Fast, Furious, and Fun! - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
Disclosure: This post and the banner above contain links with my DriveThruRPG & RPGNow affiliate identification. I receive I token % if you purchase something from the landing page. Your purchase supports this site and it's content; thank you.

Borders of Yore
Borders of Yore, is a publisher’s resource which utilizes the wonderful designs of public domain and page/border art. This collection is perfect for OSR products/e-zines and the like! Collection #1 consists of 8 pieces which have been cleaned up, vectored and formatted. In addition, derivative pieces and arrangements have been made from the originals. This product is available on DriveThruRPG.com & RPGNow.com  
 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. 


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

RPG NEWS; Submissions Open: Raging Swan Press

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Twas, many nights after Brexit and all through the dungeon, not a creature was stirring over at Raging Swan Press, not even... wait?! what? How many cents per word?

Raging Swan Press (RSP) is buried beneath a dragon's hoard of freelancer submissions. It's their own fault. Through the success of their Patreon they've continued to publish quality content, while quietly paying the highest per word rate, in the ENTIRE RPG industry.


From the RSP Patreon:


From the Patreon
  
And it recently got better, as the previous rate of 9 cents has been bumped (yet, again) to an astounding 11 cents per word. I mean, that is pretty awesome. When the average rate for RPG content is around 2 to 4 cents per word (and RSP is around 3x that), it's just awesome (did I mention, it's awesome?).

Technically, submissions aren't open. But they might be soon. Click here: (submission page) and get the jump on when they might be. If you fail your saving throw, you can always support the Patreon. And if you're a cheep-a... Ah-I mean if you're frugal, RSP also has a lot of excellent free content.

What does Raging Swan Press know that you don't? Simple. RPG Freelancers are people too (insert: evil grin)... No really, they are!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Within the Dungeon: Making a Thing!

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Hey! I'm making a thing! It's a team effort. We have a long way to go. The goal is to finish before August and release a PDF.

"Me" has finished most of the writing (90%). "Myself" is making progress on the art (20%). And "I" is lording over these two infamous procrastinators and cracking the whip! (110%)

"Whua-Snap"
"Shuu-fnap"

That's the whip... Duh!

Unfortunately, it's slow going. I'm beginning to have a true appreciation of my many, and wonderful, limitations. We can't just slop this thing together. The idea is to make this thing unique. And awesome. Anything less than max effort, sucks. Oh wait, what is it you ask? (thanks for asking)

Add caption
It's a short adventure module for Labyrinth Lord (Basic D&D *wink*). I know, I know you've heard that before...

It's an in-between adventure. While the player group is traveling, instead of rolling on a monster encounter table you insert this thing.

The working title is "Trouble on the Road," which pretty much describes it. Obviously, the title isn't sexy, as far as titles go. Another possible title (currently in second place and gaining) is "The Trouble with Strangers," I'm liking this more. I had a recent idea to change the outline a bit... Honestly, I'm considering it.

To the left is a low-res mock up of the table of contents page. I've been working on the art. So that's what you get. The border is from some public domain art. I pixelated it, blew it up, cleaned the white spaces, did some resizing of the shapes and blew it down. The font is from (....this is me looking through me links... still looking... still looking...) 1001fonts.com Ye Olde Oak. Check out that font! And the carriage chase is a combination of Google search and my mad skills to use multiple profile pics and stay inside the lines with a virtual black marker. Though I couldn't find enough suitable horses in gallop so I did have to make some of my own lines, so they all didn't look like the one horse from which they were black marker-ed from... We can't have this thing being a one horsed module... (Ha!) I also drew the horsemen on top and the coachman flailing away. Yeah, I did stuff. With virtual thingys...

There is also a couple of maps. The more I look at this map (below) the more I want to scrap it. Oh, well. It will look better or I will. That's a carriage beside a road and a grove of trees (not lumpy rocks) in the right corner. My goal is to post about this project and show progress once a week.

By all means comment, share, like, subscribe, sit on a tuffet. But what I would really like is to test this thing beyond my group. If you're a blogger that does reviews that would be good too. I'll need both. If you'd consider yourself either leave a comment.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

RPG Review: Cryptworld

RPGNow.com Disclosure: Links to product pages in this review, include my RPGNow.com affiliate identification. I receive token % in compensation if you purchase something on the landing page. This review is property of Kenzer and Company, republished here with permission, and may have been modified by the author. The PDF Cryptworld was provided by Pacesetter, free of charge for the purpose of this review. 


Cryptworld
Title: Cryptworld
By: Daniel Proctor and Tim Snider
Published By: Pacesetter (link to company website)
Scouted by:  J.L. Duncan

Welcome to a review of Cryptworld, an RPG which includes a complete rule set for modern horror and adventure style gaming. Cryptworld is available at drivethrurpg.com and rpgnow.com and you can pick your poison be it print (soft or hardcover) or PDF format.
For lack of better terms, Cryptworld is sort of your everyman all-purpose horror game. Though the game derives most of its inspiration from 1980’s as well as late 70’s to early 90’s horror flicks-the actual theme of the game is left open or for the CM (Crypt Master/ Game Master) to decide.


The very essence of Cryptworld is written on the back cover:
“INVESTIGATE-strange occurrences and supernatural sightings.”
“HUNT-irredeemably evil things that torment humanity.”
“DESTROY-malicious forces of the unexplained.”

Cryptworld follows more of a campy horror theme rather than what one might consider pure horror. However as the description above indicates, what the game lacks in one regard, it makes up for it with monster mashing, with an adequate listing of “Things” (monsters) for characters to try their wits and mettle against.
The game system is flexible to fit most gaming styles so if you’d like a little more mystery and a little less mash the game seems able to abide. A section on Character Foundations provides a good amount of detail towards secret agencies and societies, providing a solid foundation of ideas for the CM to get a game going. As per usual though, we must start with making a character.

Character creation is organized a bit different in comparison to other RPGs. If performed in order, players are tasked with selecting their character’s background and skills before rolling for the basic abilities.
Characters have eight basic abilities (attributes) they are strength, dexterity, agility, personality, willpower, perception, luck and stamina. Each ability score is determined by rolling 3D10, multiplying the product by two and adding an additional 20 points to the score. The final result will be a range between 26 and 80. After all eight scores are rolled a player assigns the numbers too each ability as they wish. I liked this feature.

A Skill Table is rolled on to determine, between three to six, the amount of skills each character receives upon creation. Players may create any background (as the CM approves), or basically any they can imagine as there is no character class with Cryptworld, but one of their skill selections should fit their chosen background.
In regards to mechanics, ability scores play an important impact on skills. Each skill base is represented by at least one, but up to as many as four skills. The relevant abilities are averaged, to provide the skill base. For instance, the base of the Computer skill is Perception and Luck. The base score of these attributes is cumulated, divided by two, and now you have your skill base score. Skills progress three levels for advancement, but begin on the specialist level which awards +15 to the base total. Expert can be purchased at character creation (at the cost of a skill selection) or later with experience points and awards +30 to the original base, while the Master level awards +55 points to the base.

Ability scores have a ceiling of 80 while Skills are limited to the skill base +55 points, at the Master level.  Ability scores can be advanced beyond character creation as well as players can advance a skill by spending experience points. Speaking of which, Cryptworld doesn’t have character levels. Player characters collect experience points and spend how they wish to further build their character’s abilities, skills, or paranormal talents.

The next steps are determining the characters unskilled melee score (STR+AGL/2), the characters Penetration Bonus in regards to combat, as well as the characters stamina recovery rate and the number of wounds a character can endure.
Unskilled melee score is just that relating combat skills without a weapon or combat training. Typical hit points are determined by stamina which in turn relates to the number of wounds a character can endure. Wound boxes are provided on every character sheet and wounds are accumulated as a character takes damage; exceeding the number of wound boxes means character death. The highest number of wounds available in Cryptworld is fifteen with most starting characters averaging about twelve or so. A characters stamina score determines the amount of damage that can be received before the character loses consciousness.

Last is selecting Paranormal Talents if it is allowed by the CM. For the most part Paranormal Talents follow the same line as skills. The base score is derived by specific ability scores and divided to get the average. Paranormal Talents work much like psionic abilities or magic spells of other games, allowing supernatural abilities. A specific amount of Willpower is burned off to enact a Paranormal Talent. Considering the high number of skills this section of the book feels a little neglected.
Beyond character creation, rules are provided to that cover all manner of game play and actions. Checks and how they actually work as well as combat were of particular interest and I thought of as unique compared to most other game systems.

An important aspect of play with Cryptworld is the use of checks and how they function. Ability checks, Skill Checks and Combat checks each rely on an action table as a key that gives a basic descriptor of the level of success. Failure for ability checks where physical danger is present means the CM must decide the appropriate damage. In regards to Skill Checks which utilize research or knowledge, failure simply means no information could be gathered, while for combat checks failure indicates the target was missed.
A successful ability check comes at four levels of success each listed here being better than the last they are; Limited, Moderate, High Success and Colossal Success. However, only the Colossal Success for physical ability check is immune to the possibility of damage, which is left to the disposition of the Crypt Master (CM) who would most likely who be weighing the specific danger of the task and corresponding ability check being performed.

Skill checks follow roughly the same guideline, success or failure. Success is progressive, based on the margin achieved. Tables are provided which give suggested modifiers for the CM to consider.  
Combat checks fall under two guidelines armed and unarmed combat. One design element that is interesting with Cryptworld is the lack of detailed weaponry. Without a guideline to determine damage the CM uses the Action Table as a key to determine the amount of Stamina and Wound Boxes effected on a successful attack, which also a knockback may occur. While weapons ranges are included and modified and their use detailed under skills and some combat tables, these weapon effects are less determined by the specific weapon being utilized and more dependent on the Attack Margin. In other words the skill proficiency is more important than the weapon itself.

Use of an Action Table to determine effect, for combat or skills, rather than straight rolling for damage or skill success is a rather abstract in my mind. Though it’s an interesting feature one drawback is that two distinctly different weapons wielded with the same skill prophecy and with the same attack margin can produce the same damage. In other words (theoretically), a bullet delivered from a pistol and one delivered from a rifle might produce the same damage, or at least use the same rank of potential damage as it is. Though I’m not completely sold on it, the damage system is interesting because it means that higher skill proficiencies yield better results, say what you want but many games don’t capture this as adequately as they should.
My thoughts on Cryptworld overall are that a as a system, some things in regards to mechanics are easier, while other aspects feel a bit more complicated than they need to be. I blame those damned D10s.

If the goal is to make a simpler system, then the choice of excluding the other dice seems rather moot.  I’m not certain of the reason, and perhaps I’m being unfair, but why limit the mechanics to ten sided dice if not to make things simpler? If I had to guess I would say that perhaps the use of D10s is the Pacesetter system…
Though the idea of using a Key for skill and combat checks seems a bit complicated at first, I can see that in many regards this would move gameplay along quite nicely; in fact making checks a lot easier. This will appeal to some and not so much for others. Anyone one who has played a system, in which a five minute battle took an hour of real time or more, knows what I’m talking about. I don’t imagine this occurs with Cryptworld.

As I said, Cryptworld is an everyman all-purpose horror game. The game has a unique system that will take a bit of time to get accustomed to and a game that “borrows” a good deal of its theme and ideas won’t offer much original. However, the use of broad strokes will have their own benefit in the hands of the right CM.
The cover art fits the campy horror theme as well as the layout and black and white interior art is pleasantly consistent. The page format is three columned text, which sort of gives the book a newspaper feel to it. Tables are legible, but overall I felt there should have been a better separation of information; that said, they do the job. Weighing in at a mere 92 pages cover to back, there is defiantly a good amount of gaming content.

If you like campy style-monster mashing or like your horror genre a bit on the lighter side, I’d say you couldn’t go wrong with giving Cryptworld a try.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Review Burp: KoDT #241

KoDT #241
My review of the Dark Eye RPG published, in issue #241 of Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT). This version is the second production of an English translation. It earned over $100K on Kickstarter. I've been calling it D&D German, because much of the production and art is about on par with 5E, which is to say beautiful. Overall, I gave it a positive review.

KoDT also published one of my precious, Deadly Trappings: The Humorous No More. I certainly enjoyed writing the concept, but I've yet to find a spot for it in my game. I need to come up with a few more.

Disclosure: The issue of KoDT (stage left) contains an affiliate link. I receive a token % if you purchase something from the landing page.