King of the Monsters 3: Crown the Necrocorn the Queen!

Roughly every year,  Kobold Quarterly hosts a monster design contest called “King of Monsters.” Participants must design a new original monster with descriptive text and an accompanying statblock for the D&D or Pathfinder roleplaying games. I designed the last champion, the horakh – an insect that eats eyes balls and hunts in packs. This year, I decided to do something different. I designed a queen. Check out the entries here and vote for your favorite. I hope you like it and crown my creation the Queen of the Monsters.

Who knows? Maybe Kobold Quarterly will have to change the name of the contest…

Behold the Necrocorn!

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

How to Play D&D (by a 7 year old)

Last year, my daughter Zeta gave me a great gift for Father’s Day. She wrote and drew a book about something dear old dad taught her… how to play Dungeons & Dragons. Well technically we were playing Labyrinth Lord, but same difference. Zeta and her sister Nita picked some minis from my collection to represent themselves. Tip for kid’s game designers: Pets are a big hit. Add them to your game. Both girls bought attack dogs and sicked them on everything they could. Zeta’s book is really cute. I scanned it into PDF format (download).

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Annotated A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords

TITLE

A3 – Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords

AUTHORS

Allen Hammack

SYNOPSIS

After interrupting the slavers’ operation in the Drachensbrag Hills in A2: Secret of the Slaver’s Stockade, the adventurers have tracked the slavers back to their hidden city beyond the mountains. They must infiltrate the city and take down the slave lords.

PLOT

Head of the Snake – Some organization is causing problems for the locals. The players must track the bad guys back to the source and eliminate the threat.

SETTING

A system of caves that lead to a lake in a volcanic crater that hides the slaver’s island. The remainder of the adventure takes place in and below the island city of Suderham.

MONSTERS

In the salt caves, the primary opponents are gnolls. The city is filled with human slavers and many of the encounters are random making the number difficult to calculate. After the adventure moves to the sewers, the monsters vary wildly.

piercer (30), gnoll (28), bugbear (8), slave lord (5), minotaur lizards (4), ogre (4), wight (4), giant rat (3), leucrotta (2), giant spider (2), gelatinous cube (2), giant constrictor snake (2), leprechaun (1), hyenadon (1), storoper (1), rust monster (1), illusionist (1), flesh golem (1), killer mimic (1), hell hound (1), minotaur (1), shambling mound (1)

NOTABLE NPCS

Wimpell Frump (p 6), a “lackluster illusionist” hired by the slave lords to protect the entrance to their hidden city. He has used an illusion to disguise himself as Yeenoghu and bend the gnolls in the area to his will.

Feelta (p 19), a eye-patched buccaneer and leader of the slave lords.

Ajakstu (p 19), a slave lord and magic user with power magic items. He has been spying on the adventurers with his crystal ball so the slave lords are fully aware of their approach.

Nerelas (p 19), a slave lord and assassin with a penchant for back stabbing with the help of a potion of invisibility.

Brother Milerjoi (p 20), monk from the Scarlet Brotherhood.

Mordrammo (p 20), chief priest of the Temple of the Earth Dragon.

NOTES

The adventure plays out across 3 locations; salt caves, a hidden city and the sewers beneath the city.

CAVES OF DRACHENSGRAB

Following the maps discovered in A2: Secret of the Slaver’s Stockade, the adventurers trek to the Drachensgrab Mountains in pursuit of the slave lords. They discover a salt cave that leads to the secret city.

A4. Hyenadon Feeding Time (p 4) – Gnolls throw bloody meat at the players to get the hyenadon, giant dog-like creatures, to attack. If I was a player, I’d throw the meat back at the gnolls.

A5. The Curtain of Blue Fire (p 4) – A magical blue barrier bisects a room filled with an enormous pool of white goo (no bukake jokes please). The barrier causes electrical damage, but the goo insulates against the effect. One can swim under the surface of the goo to avoid the magic barrier. The goo can also be breathed like air. If an adventurer decides to sink to the bottom of the pool and walk across to the other side of the room, they will walk into an invisible sword known as the Sword of Lyons. The sword is a pretty amazing sword. The blade is invisible. Then the sword is sheathed, the wearer is invisible. Once the sword is drawn, the invisibility ends. It seems like every room has some sort of easter egg in 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons. I wonder how many people in the history of running this module actually stumbled upon this sword without any prior knowledge.

A7. The Storoper (p5) – A statue in the room is actually a stone roper or “storoper.” This version of the roper can turn party members against each other. I like that this creature is totally unique to this adventure.

A9. The Throne Room (p 6) – This is a very entertaining encounter that matches the scene in Erol Otus’s excellent back cover art. Wimpell Frump the illusionist, disguised as Yeenoghu foul god of gnolls, sits upon a magic thrones that power his illusions. The party is attacked by an ankylosaurus and a great number of gnolls and ghouls. The illusions hide the real threat; a rust monster. Frump’s real gnoll guards hide behind pillars taking pot shots at the distracted party. The illusionist has strategically positioned himself behind a glass wall that stops arrows and normal missile attacks. Frump flees into a secret passage if the battle turns sour for him. The throne contains a hidden cache containing a key to the secret door and a map to the secret city of Suderham.

THE HIDDEN CITY OF SUDERHAM

The isle of the slavers, also known as the Aerie, is situated in the middle of a lake hidden in a volcanic crater. On the island, an extinct volcanic peak called Mount Flamenblut rises over the hidden city of Suderham. The author warns the DM to restrict the players movement to Suderham. The rest of the island is explored in the next module, A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords.

• The introductory text (p 8) does a good job of setting up a ticking time-bomb scenario. The party captures some aristocrats, ties them up and steals their papers. Their fine robes fit over the adventurers armor. Entering the town as dusk gives the players extra cover. They need to find the entrance to the subterranean passages beneath the city before dawn.

• The cryptic clues that are supposed to lead the players to the Sign of the Rose house of ill repute are opaque. At location B29, the sage will give the players a book entitled The Illumination of the Rose for 100gp. The sage offers no further explanation. The stable boy in B44 if offered 50gp will whisper, “There is a secret passage! It is in the rows of rouge!” I just gave you more fucking gold pieces than most people make in a year. Do you think you can you be a little more specific?

• The city overall is poorly designed. Of the 68 locations in the city, 28 are literally closed. Several others have nothing useful or notable within. Half the buildings on the map are closed! Why bother with numbering and listing a description?

B13. House of Ill Repute: Sign of the Rose (p 11) – The secret passage leading to the catacombs is located in oddball brothel. While the cathouse next door is packed to the rafters with townsfolk and merriment, the Rose has no patrons whatsoever. Do the locals know something? Maybe all the girls have incurable VD. The entrance to the undercity is via a trapdoor hidden under a bed in an empty room. The stable boy should have said, “Seek ye the saddest room in the lonliest whorehouse.” And for 50gp, he should be waiting in the room ready to toss the barbarian’s salad and open the trap door with his teeth.

B19. Denhow’s Pub ‘n’ Grub (p 12) – Ayares the Cutpurse is a horrible pickpocket. He attempts to pick a players pockets and fails. If the adventurers give him a hard time, his brigand friends at the the bar back him up. Great way to add conflict to the story. The adventurers are trying to remain low key. Is it in their best interest to start up a brawl?

THE CATACOMBS

Two equally difficult to locate passages lead the adventurers to the catacombs. The party confronts a cavalcade of classic monsters before squaring off with the slave lords.

• This section is referred to as both sewers and catacombs. There seems to be no unifying theme to the creatures in this section. The author’s sense of ecology in the Caves of Drachensgrab is totally abandoned in this section, but there are some interesting situations.

C3. The Killer Mimic’s Lair (p 16) – The mimic traps the characters with some sort of sticky trap, forms its tendrils and starts bludgeoning its victim. What can I say? I’m a sucker for mimics.

C5. Minotaur Menace (p 17) – The minotaur encounter takes over several rooms. I like the idea of a single monster fight taking place spread out across multiple rooms.

C6. Cunning Gelatinous Cubes (p 18) – The only thing I love more than one gelantinous cube is two gelatinous cubes. A pit trap causes adventurers to fall on top of a gelatinous cube. Once kill the cube is killed, there are some shiny magic items in the bottom of the pit, including an ioun stone. While the party is divying up the spoils, another gelatinous cube jumps into the pit from above.

C9. Council Chamber of the Slave Lords (p 19) – The final battle of the module takes place in this chamber. In tournament play or at the DM’s discretion, the writer’s intent is that the players are sandbagged to leading the story into the next module, A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords. The slave lords show up again in the next adventure.

Please add your own comments on the module below. Memorable moment’s from actual games would be great too. Hopefully, these annotations will become a resource for future game designers’ study.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Annotated A2: Secret of the Slaver’s Stockade

TITLE

A2 – Secret of the Slaver’s Stockade

AUTHORS

Harold Johnson with Tom Moldvay

SYNOPSIS

After defeating the slavers in Highport (A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity), the adventurers discover a map of the slave route. The trail leads to a stockade where the adventurers uncover an extensive hidden slave operation within a ruined hilltop fort.

PLOT

Head of the Snake – Some organization is causing problems for the locals. The players must track the bad guys back to the source and eliminate the threat.

SETTING

A ruined hill fort and the dungeon complex below.

MONSTERS

The fort is primarily populated by hobgoblins. The dungeon level tips the monster count scale toward goblins.

hobgoblin (208), goblin (143), caveling (62), giant rat (29), gnoll (28), horse (25), orc (25), dog (20), worg (18), wolf (17), bugbear (12), kobold (10), boar (9), stag (8), ogre (7), ape (7), boggle (6), ghoul (6), oxen (6), half-orc (5), werewolf (5), bear (4), wereboar (4), ogre mage (4), giant centipede (4), hill giant (3), griffon (3), wight (3), viper (3), elf (3), haunt (2), giant spider (2), owlbear (2), cave spider (2), anhkheg (1), madman (1), cloaker (1), halfling (1), badger (1), medusa (1), cave beetle (1), cave lizard (1), minotaur (1)

NOTABLE NPCS

This module features a fair number of NPCs. The most important characters are listed first, followed by a few less significant characters that I thought were entertaining.

Markessa (p 27), “a small female elf with ivory white skin, golden hair and an evil slant to her amber eyes.” Markessa is the leader of the Slave Lord’s operation in this area. She carries out vile experiments on slaves in her mad quest to create the “perfect slave.”

Gulyet (p 21), a goblin witchdoctor and apprentice to Markessa. Gulyet wears a special whistle that can be used to sound an alarm or summon a large white wolf.

Blackthorn (p 30), the captain of the guard and treasurer. Blackthorn outwardly appears as a tall, gaunt human, but is actually a polymorphed ogre mage. Blackthorn detests Markessa and her cruel experiments, but needs a good excuse to remove her as leader of the profitable slaving operation. Blackthorn will work with the players if he can convince them to do his dirty work, but will betray them as soon as they adventurers have dealt with Markessa.

Icar (p 19), the fort commander, second in command to Markessa. Icar is a 7 foot tall, black human adorned in black platemail and a helm with no eye holes. Blind from birth, Icar learned at a monastery to use his others senses to compensate. Icar’s chosen blade is a two-handed sword called “Death’s Master”.

Executioner (p 18), an ogre second in command to Icar the fort commander. The ogre is dressed in black chainmail and wears and black executioner’s hood. Executioner wields a special bastard sword with curved hooks at the cross guard which he uses to disarm his opponents.

Estelrath Tancred (p 18), a slave merchant waiting on a shipment. Markessa created his caveling guards, Cari and Filch. The pair were once elves, but bear little resemblance to their old forms. Cari has large hands and a tail with a stinger. Filch has a prehensile tail and likes to attack by jumping on a victim’s back, wrapping its legs around it and stabbing with two daggers; one gripped in its hands and one in its tail.

Lady Morwin Elissar (p 5), escaped slave. She pretends to be a “lady of quality”, but is actually low born. “She tends to be hysterical when threatened (50% chance of crying out and perhaps fainting), which will alert guards to the party’s whereabouts.” Stupid women always fainting and stuff. I think it has something to do with their baby-making parts.

Mouth (p 31), a dull-witted caveling that is the result of Markessa’s experimentation. Mouth got his nickname because “he remembers the tongue of the outside world.” Mouth has no legs, but has learned to walk swiftly on his hands. Mouth warns the other cavelings when intruders are around by making hooting sounds.

NOTES

• The detail of every room is exquisite, especially on the upper fort level. The level of detail would not be useful on the fly while running a game, but I found the details memorable enough that the read-alone text reminded me of the information I had read earlier.

• The fort level has an interesting map layout. After passing the front wall, the second section is broken in a east and west wing. The third section winds unnaturally forcing the players into a strange, spiraling linear path.

• The sounds of crickets are referred to repeatedly in the opening. It adds great color. I liked how the crickets stop chirping when the anhkheg is about to strike. I need to use something like this in one of my adventures.

• There so much alarm sounding that its often not clear who is alerted by an alarm or why after the first time an alarm is sounded that the entire complex isn’t called to arms. I think for this sort of stealth-based style of play, there needs to be specifically alert areas defined. If an alarm is sounded, creatures from these rooms answer the call.

• Several maps can be found that lead the players to the next adventure (A3: Assault of the Aerie of the Slave Lords) ensuring the players get a clue before they complete the adventure.

1c. Gatehouse Inner Room (p 6) – The cat knocks a crate onto the floor alerting a guard. God damn, cats! They’re all the same.

2e. East Guard Post (p 7) – The opening takes a trippy turn pretty quickly when the “song of the crickets take on the din of a distant battle”. Pretty cool – albeit bizarre – idea.

9a. Gatehouse Wall Walks (p 10) – Boggles are chained to the gatehouse wall as watch dogs. They can see invisible creatures and will wail if they see any intruders. A few pages later a hobgoblin guard has boggle on a leash. This created vivid imagery for me. Like! +1

15. The Empty Room (p 10) – In the long history of empty rooms, this is one of the best. When the players enter the room, the see a ghostly figure and hear moaning. The ghost is actually a billowy curtain and the moans are the wind in the chimney.

16. Madman’s Lair (p 12-13) – An escaped slave, tortured to the point of madness by the slavers, has taken over this area of the fort. The madman has driven off the hobgoblins with traps and gimmicks that have convinced the hobgoblins the area is haunted. The entire madman section is amazing. He’s the John Rambo of squatters. His weapon of choice is the noose which he drops down on the neck’s of the unsuspecting. This is a perfect sub-plot.

25. Room of Slaves (p 16) – A roomful of slaves being made docile by a cloaker. The original cloaker has some interesting powers. It can disguise itself as a normal cloak. It has multiple eyes on its back and a mace tail. It emits different subsonic moans that can cause fear and incapacitate. It can also manipulate shadows to throw in an enemies face and create mirror images of itself. The cloaker is also known as a “Tenebra Complexor” which means something like “shadow embracer” in Latin.

33. Servant’s Quarters (p 18) – Goblins and kobolds are drinking beer and betting on a match between fight between a halfling armed with a table leg and a badger. I hope it’s not a honey badger because honey badger don’t give a shit.

36. Cook’s Quarters (p 19) – The bedroom is a mess but apparently empty. The half-orc cook is hiding under the bed with a dagger waiting to stab anyone who looks under the bed. This is completely true. My cousin’s friend told me last year at the Winter Festival, a half-orc was hiding under wagons and cutting people’s ankles and stealing their presents. All I’m saying is LOOK under your wagon before you get in.

2. Entry Hall (p 21) Giant magnet trap pulls metal weapons and armor against the wall.

5. Storeroom (p 22) – Another brilliant empty room. Faint hissing sounds turn out to be 2 inch long cockroaches.

13. Alchemist’s secret storeroom (p 25) – A gas trap causes everyone to hallucinate that the person who triggered the trap is an efreet wielding a flaming sword. The effects wears off after about as many rounds as it takes for the party to grind their former teammate into hamburger meat. Lulz.

16. Beehives (p 25-26) Bee keeping… in a dungeon. Scoff! Indeed.

The Caves (p 31-32) – “The Caves” section is a great side trek. The caves are home to a society of escaped caveling, the mutated byproducts of Markessa’s experiments. Every caveling is afflicted with a madness that determines their place in society. For example. homicidal maniacs move to the Hunter’s camp. If the players are non-threatening, the caveling may befriend them, then soon after attempt to surgically alter them into caveling. Communicating with caveling is difficult since they are all insane and speak only in grunts and shrieks.

28s. Slave Cells (p 33) – “Three men and a woman. The woman is desperate to survive and return home and is prepared to do whatever is necessary to reach that goal.” I’m starting to think Harold Johnson was just Moldvay’s joke pen name. Harry Johnson? Nevermind.

30a. Markessa’s Double’s Chambers (p 33) – Markessa has created a brain-washed body double through magical experimentation. There is a chance the double will resist her programming which is to lead the adventurers into a trap.

31. Bodyguard’s Exercise Room (p 33-34)- The elf bodyguard is the product of another of Markessa’s experiments. She reshaped a puny, ugly elf into a svelt fighting machine and trained it to love her. Unfortunately, the bodyguard fell in love with Markessa’s double instead. No expense has been spared in outfitting the bodyguard with the training equipment he needs, including “a goose down matress for exercise sessions with Markessa.” Sadly, the bodyguard can only stare wistfully into the middle distance thinking of Markessa’s exact duplicate while banging the gorgeous slave lord. The heart wants what the heart wants.

Please add your own comments on the module below. Memorable moment’s from actual games would be great too. Hopefully, these annotations will become a resource for future game designers’ study.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Annotated A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity

TITLE

A1 – Slave Pits of the Undercity

AUTHORS

David Cook

SYNOPSIS

Sea-faring slavers are ravaging coastal towns and villages. The slavers are using Highport as a base of operations. The adventurers must stop them.
An escaped slave has given information on a ruined temple entrance on the outskirts of the city.

PLOT

Head of the Snake – Some organization is causing problems for the locals. The players must track the bad guys back to the source and eliminate the threat.

SETTING

A ruined temple compound and the sewers beneath it.

MONSTERS

The predominant monster in this module is the orc. The number of encounters involving dopplegangers borders on the ridiculous; to the point that I was surprised one of the dopplegangers wasn’t actually a doppleganger in disguise.

orc (159), giant ant (38), half-orc (34), aspis (22), ghoul (21), stirge (20), giant rat (20), human (16), zombie (12), skeleton (12), harpy (8), giant weasel (7), doppleganger (6), crocodile (6), ogre (5), basilisk (4), wight (1), sundew (1), green slime (1), gray ooze (1), troll (1)

NOTABLE NPCS

This is a tournament module so the adventure is pretty straight-forward: Kick in the door; Kill everything or avoid the trap; Repeat. Other than a freed slave that may join your team, there is not much non-player characterization.

NOTES

• Random encounter tables include the maximum number of a creature. Unless the party leaves the area, the monsters do not replenish their ranks. For example, on the Wall Encounter Table, a roll of 8 indicates 1-4 harpies. Say you encounter 3 harpies in a random encounter and later you encounter the harpies again. There can only be 1 harpy because the maximum is 4.(pg 2-3).

• As noted above, there is a comically high number of dopplegangers.

• The Temple Chamber encounter (pg 10) is interesting. A evil cleric and her half-orc guards stand before a gigantic statue of a one-eyed orc lofting a a sword above its head. A troll “made tiny by a potion of diminution” is hidden inside a poorbox and springs out after battle ensues. I love these sorts of non-sequiturs in an encounter (as long as they aren’t over done.) They usually make a fight memorable. “And then a miniature troll leaps out of the poorbox, grows to full size in mid-air and claws your back!” “Uh! Ooo-kay.”

• The False Drum (pg 14) is a unique dungeon feature designed apparently to waylay the misophonic and obsessive compulsive. A giant overturned cask makes a a repetitive sound resonate through the sewer whenever a water drop strikes it. If the cask is moved, the sounds stops which alerts intelligent creatures that someone is in the area.

• The Slave Lord’s Den (pg 18) paints a very quirky scene. The Slave Lord decided to situate his office right next to a moat of raw sewage. When intruders arrive, he orders his five trained giant weasels to leap over the sewage moat and attack while his ten orc guards pepper you with crossbow bolts. The Slave Lord then runs behind a crate and drinks a potion of invisibility so he can get in position to back stab. The crates of rations and supplies are for a slave caravan… stored next to an open pit of raw sewage. “Hey Thrask! Does this jerky smell funny to you?”

• Giant weasels and floaters aside, the ending is a let down. Among the Slave Lord’s supplies you discover a map of the slave caravan route that leads you to the next adventure, A2: Secret of the Slaver’s Stockade. Alas, your princess is in another castle.

Please add your own comments on the module below. Memorable moment’s from actual games would be great too. Hopefully, these annotations will become a resource for future game designer’s study.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

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

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

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.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

PAX GM-Less Gaming Workshop with Ben Robbins

PAX Prime 2011 launched today. After briefly walking the floor, I marched to the Games on Demand gaming room (Room 306) to get my game on. Another gamer filled me in on the GM-Less Gaming Workshop led by Ben Robbins that was going on a few rooms down. I figured I go check out the talk.

You may already know Ben Robbins as the debonaire heir to the Baskin-Robbins family fortune. Between parties with the jet set on the Riviera and counting piles of money while sitting at a desk constructed entirely from piles of money, Ben finds the time to design games. He is the author of Microscope, a popular GM-less game.

In his talk, Ben goes over the role of the game master, defines GM-less games and goes over several examples including Fiasco, Polaris and Shock. The discussion was excellent and I came away learning something new.

I apologize for the crappy audio. I wasn’t planning on recording and just slapped my phone on the table to record the session.

Download PAX GM-Less Gaming Workshop with Ben Robbins

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

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.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Bainbridge Island D&D Encounters

Starting February 9th, I’ll be running D&D Encounters, Season 4: March of the Phantom Brigade at The Curious Child on Bainbridge Island. I slapped together a quick render and posted this flyer around town. I hope there are enough RPG and Dungeons & Dragons fans around to get a few tables going.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)