Archive for Projects

One Page Dungeon 2013

I’ve put off entering the One Page Dungeon contest for years, but I finally got my act together. My mini-adventure is called “Into The Demon Idol”. The adventure is based on the Trampier cover of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. The famous demon idol is cast as a giant robotic death machine created by cultists who have since fallen out of favor with their demonic masters.
You can download my entry here:
Let me know what you think!
Demon Idol
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Fanfic: a storytelling game about making bad fiction

I recently created a storytelling game based on the premise of creating awful, erotic fanfiction called Fanfic. The rules PDF is now available for free at game’s website, http://fanficgame.com/. My biggest influences were Ben Lehman’s “Hot Guys Making Out” and Atlas Games’ “Once Upon A Time.”

From the introduction:

Fanfic is a game for collaboratively creating erotic “fan fiction,” naughty fan-created stories inspired by existing works of fiction, and it aims to do it badly. You will explore the deepest sexual desires of characters from your favorite books, television shows, movies and video games. Fanfic strives to emulate everything that is quirky and ultimately endearing about fan fiction: bodice ripping; stilted dialogue; awkward turns of phrase; and improbable coupling. What better way to learn to do it right than to do it oh-so-wrong?

Feel free to share the game with anyone you like. My only request is if you play the game, please send feedback to feedback@fanficgame.com. You can purchase printed copies for $5 with amazing cover art by Wendy Morthorpe (http://mwaters.deviantart.com/gallery/) by sending email to orders@fanficgame.com.

Happy Gaming!

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Annotating Every 1st Edition D&D Adventure

A while ago I had a great idea for a new campaign I was planning on. All the players would start out as hardened criminals incarcerated in a maximum security prison mine deep inside a mountain. The adventure started with a prison break. The characters would start out practically naked with no weapons in a hostile environment. Giant spiders and other hideous creatures could leap on them at any moment as they were pursued by guards. I thought my idea was so original and was jabbering away to one of my DM buddies. He said, “Cool idea. Sounds just like In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords.” I had to admit I had no idea what he was talking about. The cruelest cut? I have had A4 sitting unread in my gaming bookshelf for years.

I decided right then I would have to go back and become familiar with every classic adventure I could. I love designing monsters and writing adventures. I really need a better understanding of the classic adventures that have been written over the years.

I started out trying to cheat. I pulled a list of all the 1st edition D&D adventures that TSR released from Dragonsfoot and read the wikipedia pages to get an overview of the plot, but that was ultimately unfulfilling. I really wanted the details of the characters and the encounters in the story. I just wasn’t finding it.

I decided finally I just had to bite the bullet and read all the adventures for myself. I’m starting out with the entire 1st edition TSR catalog of D&D adventures. My goal is to create an annotation for every adventure and share it on my blog. Each post will be a cliff notes version of the module including plot summary, major NPCs and memorable encounters. I’m sure I’m not the only adventure designer out there that would find this information useful. Assuming I can beg, borrow or steal a copy of each adventure, I’ll post a annotation. I’ll keep the list on this post updated with links.

A SERIES

A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity
A2: Secret of the Slavers Stockade
A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords
A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords

C SERIES

C1: Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (Greyhawk)
C2: Ghost Tower of Inverness (Greyhawk)
C3: Lost Island of Castanamir
C4: To Find a King
C5: Bane of Llywelyn
C6: Official RPGA Tournament Handbook

CB SERIES (Conan)

CB1: Conan Unchained (Conan the Barbarian)
CB2: Conan Against Darkness (Conan the Barbarian)

GDQ SERIES

G1: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief
G2: Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl
G3: Hall of the Fire Giant King
D1: Descent into the Depths of the Earth
D2: Shrine of the Kuo-Tua
D3: Vault of the Drow
Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits

EX SERIES

EX1: Dungeonland (Wonderland)
EX2: Land Beyond the Magic Mirror (Wonderland)

H SERIES

H1: Bloodstone Pass (Forgotten Realms)
H2: Mines of Bloodstone (Forgotten Realms)
H3: Bloodstone Wars (Forgotten Realms)
H4: Throne of Bloodstone (Forgotten Realms)

I SERIES

I1: Dwellers of the Forbidden City (Greyhawk)
I2: Tomb of the Lizard King
I3: Pharaoh (Forgotten Realms)
I4: Oasis of the White Palm (Forgotten Realms)
I5: Lost Tomb of Martek (Forgotten Realms)
I6: Ravenloft (Ravenloft)
I7: Baltron’s Beacon
I8: Ravager of Time
I9: Day of Al’Akbar
I10: Ravenloft II: The House on Gryphon Hill (Ravenloft)
I11: Needle
I12: Egg of the Phoenix
I13: Adventure Pack I
I14: Swords of the Iron Legion (Forgotten Realms)

L SERIES

L1: The Secret of Bone Hill (Greyhawk)
L2: The Assassin’s Knot (Greyhawk)

N SERIES

N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God (Greyhawk)
N2: Forest Oracle
N3: Destiny of Kings
N4: Treasure Hunt (Forgotten Realms)
N5: Under Illefarn (Forgotten Realms)

R SERIES

R1: To the Aid of Falx
R2: Investigation of Hydell
R3: Egg of the Phoenix
R4: Doc’s Island

S SERIES

S1: Tomb of Horrors (Greyhawk)
S2: White Plume Mountain (Greyhawk)
S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (Greyhawk)
S4: Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (Greyhawk)

T SERIES

T1: Village of Hommlet
T1-4: Temple of Elemental Evil

UK SERIES

UK1: Beyond the Crystal Cave
UK2: Sentinel (Greyhawk)
UK3: Gauntlet (Greyhawk)
UK4: When a Star Falls
UK5: Eye of the Serpent
UK6: All that Glitters…
UK7: Dark Clouds Gather

U SERIES

U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
U2: Danger at Dunwater
U3: The Final Enemy

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DM Challenge Visual Aids

My First PAX

From the moment I entered the convention center, I felt immersed in a massive chaotic swell of gaming culture–unreleased video games, photos with cosplayers, shiny new board games, walls of slick videos, back to back panels with gaming legends, creative indie games, marketers trying to shove useless crap in your hand every ten steps and everywhere you look, throngs of unapologetic gamers. Trying to soak it all up was like drinking from a firehose with a sippy straw.

PAX DM Challenge

The high point for me was finally getting to complete in the DM Challenge. Ultimately, I didn’t win the Challenge, but I had a ton of fun running the game for five unsuspecting victims.. um.. I mean players; contact me if you were one of my players and give me some feedback please. If you haven’t played in one of my games, I like to use video projectors, speakers, lighting and props. Boiling that down to something portable is difficult. I settled on mini usb speakers, a video projector on a tripod, a PS3Eye video camera and my laptop. I almost had to bow out at the last minute. During the pre-flight check in the office, my laptop video card decided to stop working. The main display kept turning off and all my windows would show up on the projector display. Not good. Luckily, I was able to transfer my tools to my desktop computer, but that meant I had to add a desktop computer, keyboard, power strip, power cables and a monitor to my “portable” rig. Even worse, the camera drivers refused to work on my desktop machine. I had to disable all the camera calls in my code at the last minute.

My presentation seemed to go over well. I created a short introductory video in After Effects for my adventure entitled “Secret of Neverneath.” Check it out at the top of the post. I tracked combat initiative with a tool I created to reformat the web browser display of 4E Combat Tracker. I’m including all the materials here if people want to hack the visuals for their own games. I have to warn you though; you should probably be already familiar with a programming language or willing to spend a little time learning one. The code is not enduser friendly. If you still haven’t been scared off, download NWVisuals.zip and follow the instructions in README.txt. An example encounter file for 4E Combat Manager is included: “Encounter – Gnolls.xml”.

Tips for hacking the code

The display code is written in a language called processing. Processing runs on OSX, Windows and Linux. Combat Manager only runs on windows; however you can connect to the Combat Manager webserver over a network. Non-windows users aren’t out of luck. You could run the display on another machine connected to a projector or TV and run Combat Manager in a VM on your laptop. The camera code is still included but disabled with the ENABLE_CAM flag. If you have a camera and want to experiment, set the flag to true. On Windows, the use of the camera code requires you to install quicktime, camera drivers(for PS3Eye, I use the CL Eye Platform driver) and WinVDIG.

Changing character portraits

Changing character portraits is actually pretty easy. For each monster or player in your encounter list, you can create a PNG file sized 305×278, set the name of the file to it’s name in the encounter list without spaces–for example “Deathjump Spider” becomes “DeathjumpSpider.png”, then place the file in the data folder under the NWVisuals folder. Players can additionally have a PlayerName-Dead.png image if you want to show a funny picture of a dead player.

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CMVisualizer for DnD4E Combat Manager

Last year, I started heavily using video projection in my games. I began by displaying maps and handouts, but after a time I came up with the idea of keeping track of combat initiative with a scoreboard I could project on the wall. I discovered a cool little programming language called processing that let me rapidly prototype the system. It worked well for my needs at the time, but what I really needed was a full-featured combat tracking application. Then my campaign died out after six months and I shelved the idea.

Fast forward to a month ago. I was evaluating several combat tracking applications and discovered DnD4E Combat Manager. Though it seemed a little less polished that other applications, it had a very interesting feature; an integrated webserver. I dug out my old combat tracker code and started trying to hack the two systems together. I eventually arrived at CMVisualizer.

CMVisualizer provides an alternate player display for Combat Manager’s web interface. Before you can use it, you need to have installed DnD4e Combat Manager 1.8.1 and processing 1.5.1. Then download the CMVisualizer_Beta.zip and follow the directions in the README.txt.

Once the processing sketch and Combat Manager’s web server have been started, use combat manager as normal. CMVisualizer will display the data. You can setup CMVisualizer to display on a second monitor or video projector. With some minor modification of the code, you could even run it over the internet.

The coolest feature of CMVisualizer is the ability to display custom portraits for players and monsters. The sketch comes with a generic portrait, but its easy to add your own. Every time CMVisualizer actives a monster or player, it looks in the data folder for an image file to display. If determines the filename by stripping all spaces from the name and appending “.png” to the end. For example, the file name for an “Abyssal Ghoul” would be “AbyssalGhoul.png.” The image file MUST be in PNG format and be sized 304×278 pixels. If the image doesn’t exist, a generic portrait is displayed called “generic.png.”

Future versions of CMVisualizer will use menus or config files to ease use. This release is definitely for the hardcore geeks that have been bugging me to give them the source. The code is pretty simple. Making changes to the placement of elements, fonts and colors should be easy even for novice programmers. Check it out and drop me a line with your thoughts.

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Eye Candy for D&D Encounters – Session 12

Tonight is the final encounter of Season 1 D&D Encounters. Session 12 is appropriately named, “Showdown.” I can’t wait to find out what happens.

Right-click and save as this link to get a copy.




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Eye Candy for D&D Encounters – Session 11

More Season 1 D&D Encounters eye candy. Session 11 is entitled, “Charnel Pit.” I’m going to be there tonight – come hell or high water.

Right-click and save as this link to get a copy.




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Eye Candy for D&D Encounters – Session 10

D&D Encounters visuals are back. My flash has been getting too bloated. I’m experimenting with making smaller files. Session 10 is entitled, “Myconid Infestation.” Sounds like it’s going to be a good one. I hope I don’t miss it.

Right-click and save as this link to get a copy.




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Eye Candy for D&D Encounters – Session 9

The next shipment of D&D Encounters eye candy has arrived. It’s the beginning of Chapter 3. This week’s session is entitled, “Broken Tower.”

Right-click and save as this link to get a copy.




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Eye Candy for D&D Encounters – Session 8

New visuals for D&D Encounters. Better late than never.

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