Monday, December 28, 2015

Patron Monday: Entorpus

Like this one... by David Fisher
Another patron for +David Fisher's campaign -- this time I wrote it, though he conceived it. The idea of the relationship of entropy to heat loss/transfer was interesting to me. So, credit a lot of this to wikipedia and other reading.

David did all the art...

Entorpus! 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

DCC RPG Class: The Charlatan

Still loving Black Powder Black Magic by the guys over at Stormlord (+Eric Hoffman +Carl Bussler.) The Brave was the first class I dipped my toe in with. Now I present the Charlatan: part stage magician, part snake-oil salesman, and all hustler.

In addition to a few skills, the charlatan learns one "spell" per level that he or she can mimic with distraction, chemistry and the "belief" of the mark.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

The Charlatan

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Playing Star Wars with White Star

We had planned a night of gaming with some friends I hadn't played with in a while. These guys only get to game about once a year, which is tragic to me. I have an ongoing D&D B/X game running at home. We alternate between in-person games at the house and online games via Google+ and Roll20 -- just depends on whether my middle son is in town or back in Kansas. I had planned to break that out, start the guys at the Keep and let them hex-crawl their way through the evening. 

Then The Force Awakens happened. I hadn't even planned on seeing it until after Christmas, but the doom and gloom of long lines and crowded theaters just didn't materialize everywhere, and we snuck into a pleasantly packed theater on Thursday night before the official opening -- barely had to stand in line... it was weird. 

Anyway, like most of you, I immediately wanted to run Star Wars again. I never played the d6 version, but my kids' first RPG experience was Star Wars d20 -- it ended up being easier to introduce to younger children because they had a firm basis in the world and the capabilities of the characters. Plus, I mean, it's Star Wars. 

Of course, I had about 48 hours to game time. There was no way I was running d20 Star Wars. Hadn't looked at it in years. But, I had White Star by +James Spahn  and a scenario I had started for another campaign using the Graveyard at Lus by +Jason Paul McCartan. I spent an evening making modifications to that scenario and tracking down maps for various Star Wars ships. Spent another evening thinking about characters -- I pre-genned since I knew that would take time from gaming for these guys. So, in this post, I'll talk about characters for Star Wars using the White Star system. 

In future posts, I'll talk about the scenario, building the party ship and other ships, the Force, and finally talk about how the scenario played out. Short answer is that the players really enjoyed the simple system and how complex their interactions with the world could be -- without a lot of mechanics to weigh down gameplay. 

-=-=-=-=-=-=
White Star is Whitebox Swords & Wizardry at its core, but James did a great job of building a generic sci-fi version of that ruleset. It leans heavily toward space opera (and Star Wars) with its "Star Knight" class, the "Way" and "Void Knights." I wasn't planning on running a "Prequel" style adventure, focusing heavily on Jedi and Sith. I much prefer the Dark Times of the original trilogy, with more common heroes affected by the machinations of larger forces, including their own destinies.

The other classes: Pilot, Mercenary, and Aristocrat are perfectly generic templates to build these types of "normal folks" of the Star Wars galaxy. I'd also already created a Smuggler class for my Galaxy Wars 1939 campaign (over here in the first issue of Radiotapes Intercept #1) -- it's basically the thief class for whitebox with a bit of a interstellar merchant and scoundrel about it.

What I wanted, though, was a little more specificity to the archetypes in the Star Wars universe. So, I took each one of the classes and added an "occupation" of sorts, that gave the characters a couple of extra skills relevant to the universe and the adventure. 

For instance, here's the two Smuggler characters -- the pilot and co-pilot/mechanic. Both are
smugglers, but with pilot abilities. 

I took the Aristocrat class and built a Merchant, Doctor, and Archaeologist -- all with similar "professional" abilities, but based on the Aristocrat class. Adding a "assess value" type skill for all three of them like I did with the Smuggler base class. I built the soldier directly off of the mercenary class -- just a couple of added spices for flavor.

I left the Species up to the players, so we had an Ewok mechanic, a couple humans, and one player who decided to play a "narwhal." We had no idea what that would look like, but a fat, humanoid narwhal she was. And since her character was female, it didn't have a horn... which seemed more convenient all around. 

I don't know if this complicates something that could just be emergent in play, but for the actual game I was setting up, I wanted the players to have the time to play without having to spend a lot of time before play developing character archetype concepts. The scenario I'd built was essentially a salvage mission, with the Pilot, Co-pilot and Merchant each owning a third of the ship, with the others being hired guns. I threw in a wild card character -- a "fringer" who's profession was mining. I really liked this catch-all class, as a concept, in the d20 Star Wars system, though I don't know that it was implemented all that well. 

You might also notice that I'm using a "Skill" -- this is a simple system similar to the Saving Throw to resolve actions that matter -- repair something under fire, resolve a tense negotiation, etc. I don't know if I'll keep it, but it was interesting to play around with it. I love the single Saving Throw, and I had been using that to resolve critical actions, but I felt like it made an actual saving throw against seriously deadly or weird attacks too mundane if I used the same mechanic for other critical actions. I'll talk more about the Skill Roll when I talk about the actual play. 

Next post, I'll talk about the scenario -- developed from Jason's excellent Graveyard at Lus resource. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Patron Monday (ish): Trisdeus -- Guest Author Edition

Greetings,

Another Patron Monday (sort of), and this week we have a guest author, +David Fisher of Shinobi 27 Games fame. You may know him from his two modules for DCC: Feast of the Preserver and The Trolls of Mistwood. He's currently working on the Curse of Mistwood to further the series. Or you may know him from his art in a number of DCC RPG third-party publications. I love his work; I have
the t-shirt. And he's done a lot of the art for Patron Monday!

Trisdeus is a god and patron of extreme law, truth and justice. Though his spells are typically more useful outside of combat than during, the adherent to the Tri-God strikes fear into Chaos and disorder by her very appearance.

Check it out, and as always, let us know what you think.

Trisdeus - The Tri-God

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Patron Monday: The Nazhghad (Tuesday Edition)

The Nazhghad?
© 
Chorazin3d | Dreamstime.com - Insect Monster With Wings Photo
It's another Patron Monday (late edition). Today's super fun guy is the Nazhghad. Clearly this one was inspired by Aliens/Prometheus -- and related to AKAS, an earlier entry into the Patron Monday annuls.

You may also notice that the Nazhghad is somewhat related to Myrrdin -- being that its current home
lies next to the River Rgene in the Piretis Jungles. It may sound like I had a rip-roaring jungle campaign where all the supernatural beings had inter-related goals and conflicts -- and I do... but it's in a different place. When I was writing these patrons, I needed something to get me "connected." It's remarkably hard to conceive and codify a patron for DCC RPG. If you don't believe me, try it. What worked for me was the introduction -- spicing it up with faraway and interesting places, grounding the patron in a history or story -- CONTEXT -- definitely helped in the process.

Without further ado... here's the godawful Nazhghad, the buzzing demon in your head that drives you to build ever higher, conquer ever wider, and drag living sacrifices, screaming, back to the Thousand Foot Spire.

The Nazhghad

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Galaxy War 1939: The Legacy of Oros Print Edition

Greetings,

We are proud to announce that the print version of The Legacy of Oros, first in a line of Galaxy War 1939 White Star Compatible products, is available from One Bookshelf (DriveThruRPG and RPGNow). The PDF price has been reduced to $4.99, but best value is the physical book: $10 and you get the PDF for free.

The adventure follows the crash of the British transport ship, the Connor, and its precious cargo, the Chinese biologist, Dr. Wang Bao Li. The characters face off against Nazi rocketmen, dangerous bio-weapon creatures, and a mysterious entity calling itself the Oros.

Here's a shot of the mini-comic that +JEStockArt (James Shields) did for the book. So fun.




-=-=-=-=-=-=-
I have a few blog posts about the world and additional house rules that we use as part of my home White Star campaign in this setting.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Patron Monday: AKAS, the Interstellar Jailer

Art by David Fisher @ Shinobi 27 Games
I've been lax in my Patron Mondays, but here's another minor patron. This one was at least partially inspired by Prometheus, the film by Ridley Scott. I wasn't a huge fan of the film, but I really liked the idea of a race of beings that released unholy biological horrors on the universe.

So far, we're up to three patrons -- this one, Myrddin, and Yephriel, the Iron Champion.

And this one has art by +David Fisher from Shinobi 27 Games.

Enjoy!

AKAS -- Revered of the Ape-Men! 




Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Patron Monday (ish): Yephriel, the Iron Champion

I started this patron-a-week experiment two weeks ago... unfortunately, I haven't held to my schedule due to life-y kinda things. Anyway. Here's the second one. Not on Monday.

I also talked about patron generation methods -- a "process" to at least generate some ideas for invoke patron (and even spell) results over here and here.

Back when we were writing Angels, Daemons and Beings Between, Daniel and I were contemplating not just "lawful" patrons, but patrons of right and good. I came up with a couple, and Daniel's made it into the book: Lavariel, Angel of the Temple -- friggin' awesome lawful/good patron. I never finished either one of mine, but now I have.

Yephriel is directly inspired by a combination of the Colossus of Rhodes (in addition to being one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, it's also the subject of an interesting book by L. Sprague De Camp -- the Bronze God of Rhodes), the Iron Giant (because he's awesome), and general interest in
giant death-dealing robots.

Another little experiment with this one -- What if the particulars of the patron caused additional effects, both helpful and not so helpful, when spellburning? Dunno. Have a look see. Try it out. And as always, let me know what you think.

Yephriel, the Iron Champion

Monday, November 02, 2015

Patron Monday: Myrddin, Spirit of the Pits

Art by David Fisher @ Shinobi 27 Games
Way back near the beginning of DCC RPG, I wrote a book with +Daniel Bishop called Angels, Daemons and Beings Between. I don't link the book here because, even though I'm proud of our work, I'm not going to enrich a publisher that left his customers high and dry. It was a book of patrons for DCC, and it was a lot of damn work. Rewarding work, but a lot of work, all the same. I wrote... fifteen patrons for that book, of which only a few made it in. There had been talk of a second book, but the publisher flaked, folks were pissed and so it goes.

About a year ago, I was resolved to publish another patron book, both as an apology to the folks that got stiffed and in order to do something with all this damn content I wrote. That fell through in maddening fashion before it ever got off the ground. So, here I am, a stack of patron content and no where to put it.

And thus, you benefit.

I may throw all of these into a single free PDF eventually, or not. Otherwise, you should see... about 22 patrons over the next 22 weeks or so.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-
I was contemplating "classes" of patrons while writing the first book. Not all patrons are all-powerful entities with universe-spanning powers. Some are local petty gods, spirits and demons with limited influence and power. These patrons are eager to see their influence grow through their cultists, and thus also may have certain secret rituals and artifacts that enhance or expand their power beyond their current limited range.

Myrddin was an example of a Minor Patron -- one with a limited geographic influence, only a few invoke patron results, no granted spells, etc.

As always, let me know what you think of this one. My goal is to publish one a week -- on Monday. Stay tuned for other weekly content (probably on Friday).

Myrddin, Spirit of the Pits (PDF)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

DCC RPG Class: The Brave

I got to play some Black Powder; Black Magic with +Noah Stevens a couple of weeks ago, and this class just came to me. A kind of warrior/cleric mix -- holy warrior without the spells, essentially. I have no idea who the Hollow Men are, but it sounded cool.

Looking forward to continuing to play in the world that +Eric Hoffman and +Carl Bussler conceived. You should definitely check out the 'zine, if you haven't, over on OBS: Issue 1; Issue 2.
-=-=-=-=-=-=-

The Brave

A warrior of the tribe, you run through the tangled eastern forests, slide down the dry choke canyons of the west or gallop astride your pony on the central plains. Your courage is unmatched and with a weapon or not, your enemies quail against your mighty war cry. The spirits guide your steps through the shadowed lands, where you seek out the Hollow Men – those that have died but yet wander. 

Hit Points: A brave gains 1d8 hit points at each level. At 1st level, a brave gains 2d8 hit points.

Weapon Training: Braves can use any melee weapon, as well as bows, pistols and long rifles. 

Alignment: Braves are typically Lawful, being seekers of the damned in the dark places of America. Those that have succumbed to the predations of evil embrace Chaos. 

Hunter of Evils: Braves seek out creatures cursed by the spirits. Demons, undead, unnatural beasts all are their enemies. When fighting these creatures, braves add a Deed Die to their attack, can execute Mighty Deeds and have an increased chance of scoring a critical hit on these creatures. Additionally, braves can track these creatures through spoor and scent.

Mighty Deed of Arms: Braves may use any Mighty Deed of Arms against opponents unholy to the spirits. In addition, they have a special Mighty Deed that drives away the evil creature(s).  

Repel Unholy
The brave’s force of will and skill at arms can affect the morale of creatures considered unholy to the spirits. If a successful hit and deed is rolled, the unholy creature struck receives damage as per the Mighty Deed and must make a Will save (DC 9+deed result) or be affected as described below. Others that may be affected for higher deed results make the same saving throw.


Initiative: When fighting against unholy creatures, braves add their level to the initiative roll.

Luck: A brave’s Luck bonus is applied to his or her attack roll against Unholy creatures.

Action Dice: A brave uses his Action Dice for attack rolls and skill checks.  

* Deed Die and increased threat range apply only to unholy opponents. 

Monday, October 05, 2015

Radiotapes Intercept #1 -- More Stuff for your OSR Sci-Fi Game

Greetings,

You may have noticed our recent obsession with the White Star(TM) RPG, a fantastic OSR-based sci-fi core rulebook by +James Spahn. There have been a number of great resources to come out of James' Compatibility License: Graveyard at Lus by +Jason Paul McCartan, several resources by +Chuck Thorin, Drongo by +Mark Hunt, and many others.

We threw our hat in the ring with a couple of one-page adventures, Bug Hunt and Last Transmission, set in a retro sci-fi setting just prior to World War II. We followed that up with an official Galaxy Wars 1939 adventure, Legacy of the Oros.



We introduced the campaign world without a lot of background or rules, because we feel like that such things should emerge during play. Legacy of the Oros was intended to be an introduction to that world, with support on this blog. We've posted a few articles related to the campaign -- The Spy character class (which is usable in any White Star(TM) or OSR sci-fi setting) and some clarification on the level of technology and FTL.



Now we present a free (as in beer) 'zine called Radiotapes. This is intended to collect rules, classes, new psionic powers and even a few adventures, as we get to them. While some of the content is focused on the Galaxy War 1939 campaign, the majority is usable in any White Star(TM) or OSR sci-fi game.

Take a look at Radiotapes Intercept #1 and let us know what you think. We also have it in 2-up and Booklet format.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Legacy of the Oros is Live!

Greetings from the ball turret of my Vickers space transport. 

Our first Galaxy War 1939 adventure, Legacy of the Oros is published. Click the image to purchase at OBS.


And check out this free preview!  Including the Disciple, a new character class. 


Monday, September 21, 2015

Swords & Wizardry & One Ring & Darkest Dungeon

Our regular Sunday night White Star game didn't make last night, so I had to come up with something quickly for +Brenda Wolfe and +Jesse Wolfe. They won't let me rest if we don't game on Sunday. I had about 20 minutes to decide what to do. I'd spent Saturday re-organizing my gaming bookshelf, and forgot that I had the One Ring RPG. When I got it a few months ago, I flipped through it and decided against running it -- the system looks neat, but learning, then teaching a new system to gamers that are fairly casual didn't seem like something I wanted to spend time on at the time. And on Sunday night, I certainly didn't have time to teach it. We had probably 2 hours before everyone had to get to bed. But, my eyes lingered on the book and I made a quick decision: We're going to use the setting and D&D Rules Cyclopedia. We can do this.

 I've never run a game in Middle-Earth, but have enjoyed the books since I was 12. They were the first books I read to Jesse and he's very familiar with the movies, so there's a good precedent. Brenda read them for the first time when she was pregnant with +Lukas Wolfe. She used to walk a couple of miles every day, so she'd read them while she walked -- and she loved them. Decision made. Everyone knows BX D&D and everyone loves Middle-Earth.

I skimmed the introductory adventure - seemed pretty simple -- Balin and Oin (yes that Balin and that Oin) were off delivering an invitation to the King of the Eagles for the annual gathering of the Five Armies, but they had never arrived at their destination. Gloin (yes, that Gloin) was worried and put out a call for adventurers to track down what happened to them.

Zithras, apprentice mage and the hulking warrior Shren responded, got the low down from Balin and even needled out of him that he feared that the Elvenking may have the two dwarfs in his dungeons again. Zithras, being a wily sort, even got out of the old dwarf that he feared for his brother's life because of a prophetic dream of the younger dwarf drowning in dark waters.

The two set out  out to equip for the journey. While asking around in the local Lake-Town inn about the river path and other helpful information, they attracted four likely assistants. The boatman, Danel, weary of his boring life, Mara and Frazen, woman-and-man-at-arms respectively, and the hunched and stringy haired Gorin, a scholar of the secret ways and powers of the world. Equipped and fresh-faced, the party set out for the Stair of Girion and the boatman village, for portage down the falls. After a long day across the lake, the party spent a festive evening with the boatmen, teasing out clues to the dangers ahead in the Long Marshes.
-=-=-=-=-=-
We had to break for the evening because everyone had to be up early, but the players seemed to enjoy the two hours of basic interactive role-playing. A little bit of dicing, but no combat.
-=-=-=-=-

I took the One Ring books to bed with me and read through character creation again, thinking maybe we could run the system. Again, I thought it was too complicated to get without having ever played it -- and then teach it to my players, especially when we have only a couple of hours a week to game. But, it got me thinking. There are interesting and unique concepts to the Middle-Earth milieu. The threat of the "shadow" or corruption of all mortal things and how the Enemy exploits that. The concept of Hope as a mechanic to fight against corruption. And the stress of travel, fighting, killing, seeing death and destruction, strange magicks and foul beasts. It immediately reminded me of Darkest Dungeons -- but also, the designer did a fine job of capturing the idea of the adventurer as just a regular person facing all these horrors, with only his or her own will against the chaos.

I thought about this all day, and in my spare moments, jotted down how it could work in a B/X system. It just didn't fit. But Swords and Wizardry... I've been doing a lot of development and gaming with White Star, which is S&W Whitebox based and I thought it was a better fit. Beyond that, S&W Complete, with it's AD&D classes made a lot more sense in Middle-Earth, as well. Middle-Earth is low magic, but I saw a way to limit Magic-Users and other spellcasters with the shadow/corruption idea.

This is what I came up with as a start.
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Shadow and Hope


Characters gain shadow points, which accumulate through fear, exposure to powerful magicks, great hoards, horrible monsters, tragedies, and other calamities. Shadow points inch characters closer to corruption. Shadow points can be burned by GM against the character to trigger fumbles and other unfortunate calamities. If Shadow points equals or exceeds hope, certain beings, items and situations cause characters to temporarily lose their minds. In addition, the character must make a Saving Throw or receive an affliction (see below).

Shadow points can be reduced by GM burn, rest in a safe place, magical healing, good things happening, etc. Additionally, shadow points are accumulated by spellcasters in two ways: Any spellcaster can take a Shadow point per level of the spell and cast that spell beyond their allotted number of spells per day. Anytime a magic-user attempts to learn a spell, he or she must make a Saving Throw, or accumulate 1 Shadow point per level of the spell.

Hope is the average of Int/Wis/Chr as a base score. Hope can be used similar to Luck in DCC -- 1 point of luck per point added to any roll. 2 points of Hope allows you to re-roll any roll. Three points of Hope allow you to roll two dice and take the best result.

Stress reduces Hope, as well. Hunger, fatigue, certain weather, getting lost, death or serious injury in the party, betrayal, etc. In these instances, the character must make a Saving Throw or lose some number of Hope, depending on the situation.

Successes increase Hope: Critical hits, defeating an enemy with HD > than the party average level, Every 1000 XP. Hope gained in this way cannot exceed the character's maximum. Hope increases each level and certain magicks or other effects can increase total Hope.

Afflictions occur when Shadow equals or exceeds Hope and a Saving Throw is failed. The Affliction is temporary -- the character makes a Save each day with a penalty/bonus depending on the Shadow/Hope level. If a character is afflicted and receives another affliction, the second affliction is permanent until magically healed or the character has a full week of rest in a safe locale. A Saving Throw is made daily after the first week with the same penalty/bonus based on the Shadow/Hope level. There are debilitating afflictions and "virtues" which present as beneficial, but give the GM an opportunity to force a character's hand.

Afflictions:

  • Paranoid -- Cannot heal shadow with rest; -2 saves vs illusions, 1/day, forced to refuse aid from party member.(GM activated with Shadow point burn)
  • Coward -- -2 to attacks when party outnumbered or outclassed (HD), -2 to saves against fear, When at 1/2 hit points, attacks at -4. 1/day Character forced to flee from danger (GM activated with Shadow point burn)
  • Selfish -- -2 to Shadow checks when character has something to gain; -2 to saves against area attacks, 1/day refuses to assist another party member (GM activated with Shadow point burn)
  • Irrational -- ??? not sure yet, -2 to saves against poisons; 1/day performs random action when faced with a stressful situation (as a Confusion spell) (GM activated with Shadow point burn)
  • Hopeless -- Shadow point accumulation doubled; -2 saves against diseases; 1/day Character's ennui causes a Shadow Saving Throw for the whole party ((GM activated with Shadow point burn)
  • Abusive -- Acts last in combat; -2 saves against shadow creatures effects; 1/day Character's abusive attitude causes a Shadow Saving Throw for the whole party ((GM activated with Shadow point burn)
  • Greedy -- Attacks enemy with the most valuable gear; -2 saves against treasure-based shadow (dragon fever); 1/day Attempts to steal from another party member ((GM activated with Shadow point burn)

Virtues: 

  • Powerful -- Damage +2; Saves +2 vs mind control; Shadow points can't be reduced
  • Courageous -- Shadow -2; Taking damage for another character reduces everyone's Shadow by 2; Must fight the most powerful enemy. 
  • Stalwart -- Shadow total halved; +2 to saves against affliction/corruption; Must stand and fight, last man standing
  • Vigorous -- Heal 1 HD; +2 saves versus disease/poison; Gains x2 Stress
  • Focused -- +2 to attack; Critical hit on 19; Saves +2 vs shadow creatures; Surprised on a 1-3

-=-=-=-=-=
So, that may be too complicated, but I wanted to try it out. It definitely changes the D&D dynamic -- great hoards of treasure have the potential to corrupt. It provides consequences for murder-hobo actions. Codifying it with rules and things may not fit the S&W style. We'll see. I'm still mining One Ring for some other stuff, as well.

I have some ideas for alternate XP methods -- more "story awards" and roleplaying bonuses. +Brenda Wolfe 's character told a story by the lake-men's campfire, so I awarded her 100 XP. Nothing too innovative -- I've done this a bit in the past, but I think it may be critical here.

We played another short session tonight with the new rules. More on that later...


Monday, September 14, 2015

Galaxy War 1939: The Legacy of the Oros Preview

My first White Star compatible product is inching ever closer to release. I've changed the name of the thing three or four times, and may end up changing it again. What hasn't changed is the awesome cover art that +James Shields painted up for me. I've been futzing with the layout and composition (two words I barely understand, frankly). But I got a blessing from some folks that I trust, so here's the preview.



And to stay committed to posting gameable content to this blog, here's a further preview -- the typical Nazi patrol with its Light Hover Support Vehicle.

Weltkriegsmarine Squad (6)

AC: 5 [14]; HD: 1+1; hp: 6 each; Atk: Kar98k Rifle (1d6+1); or Grenade (3d6/2d6) SV: 18; MV: 12; Possessions: Medium armor, Kar98k Rifle, 3 grenades, 15 rounds ammunition; HDE/XP: 1/15

Weltkriegsmarine are the standard combat troops of the Deutschstern Reich. They are typically equipped with standard rifles, grenades and medium armor. Squads are composed of five individuals led by a Rottenführer, or squad leader. Platoons (6 squads) are led by a Sturmscharführer or platoon leader. These leaders have maximum hit points.

Art by ME! 

Sd.Kfz. 2250

Light Hover Support Vehicle

AC 4 [15]; HP 20; MV 15; Target +0; Atk MG34 machinegun (2d6; ROF 3) [crew-operated]; Other Equipment: Short wave radio; Crew: Driver and gunner (as Weltkriegsmarine above)

The Sd.Kfz 2250 is an armored hover vehicle used to provide fire and communications support for patrols of weltkriegsmarine in the rough highlands of Churchill IV. Though lightly armored, the vehicle takes no damage from light weapons. A squad of troops can ride on the back and sides of the vehicle, though it only provides a modicum of cover.


Friday, September 11, 2015

The Vampir Strikes!

Here's a second preview for the upcoming Galaxy War 1939 adventure that we'll be publishing soon (hopefully this weekend!).

The Nazis have taken control of the British system Churchill IV, and its eponymous Earth-like planet. After the initial invasion, the Nazis encountered stiff resistance from the miners left in the northwestern highlands. After months of fighting the dissidents, Nazi high-command unleashed their secret weapon: the kriegstier -- alien predators biologically enhanced to hunt the partisans, rooting them out of their cave and mine redoubts.

With the suppression operations at an end, the Nazis now need to get control of the krigstier, which immediately adapted to their new environment. They need the precious metals found in the northwest highlands in order to fuel the galaxy-spanning war machine. To support this, they have issued a general system directive allowing off-duty units to travel to Churchill IV and hunt down the kriegstier.

As the population of kriegstier hunters grows, so does their arsenal. The ME-22 Vampir is one of the key pieces in the hunt for the kriegstier and any remaining dissidents. A small stunt fighter, the Vampir is typically a short-range interceptor (it lacks a rail monitor for inter-system travel) launched from much larger carrier ships. Within the atmosphere, the Vampir is agile, fast, and capable of hovering. It is one of the few Deutschstern Reich fighters to mount laser cannons, giving it a good punch of firepower.




Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Tools of the Trade

In my Galaxy War 1939 home campaign, I needed to give a thought to technology – it’s a retro-sci fi / alternate history setting, so futuristic computers, weapons and other equipment don’t necessarily exist, especially as ubiquitously as in other high-tech settings. The technology of space travel sprang onto the human race almost instantaneously, rumored to be some strange alien find in the Mongolian highlands. So, a fast technological leap meant that certain technologies just haven’t got there yet. Starships are hardy, but not as well-developed as, say a Star Wars type setting. Standard firearms are modified to function in space or different atmospheres, but they are essentially the same weapons used in 1939. Even the man-portable lasers are so new that they are bulky, rare and expensive. Heavier, crew-served laser weapons are also impractically expensive for every starship or vehicle to mount.

Additionally, the “treasure” system I’m using often calls for XdX rolls on the equipment table, so I needed a numbered table of equipment to more efficiently support that. So, what I did was take the standard White Star equipment table and rebuild it for my purposes. What you’ll see are slight changes, some things removed, some consolidated (like hand weapons), and some tweaks to prices and weights to account for the newness of the technology.

I added descriptions where necessary – where they differ from the standard White Star descriptions. Let me know if you see something amiss or have questions. The Big Plan™ is to release this campaign information as a pay-what-you-want PDF in a nicely formatted presentation. For now, they’re blogposts, mostly intended to get things organized for my home group.

Equipment Table


Ammo Bandoleer – Laser weapons in this campaign are larger, thus the energy cells are likewise more bulky. A clip for a standard weapon holds 10 shots.

Scanning Binoculars (infrared) – Other than standard binoculars, scientists have also developed bulky, night-vision binoculars. These devices display an infra-red image at the standard power of binoculars. They can also be switched to “day mode.” 

Gas Mask (particulate) – This is a standard gas mask intended to filter out poisonous or biological agents from breathable air. The mask filter is good for 10 turns of continuous operation. 

Environmental Mask (particulate filter and provides oxygen) – This gas mask includes a small oxygen bottle that attaches to the belt with a hose to the mask filter, providing breathable air, as well as the standard filter capabilities of the gas mask. The oxygen and mask filter last for 24 hours of non-strenuous activity. For more strenuous use, GMs can modify the operation time. Oxygen bottles weigh 12 lbs and cost 50 credits. A refill of an existing bottle costs 20 credits. 

Environmental Suit (atmosphere) – This system provides a protective suit with an environmental mask. The suit provides no armor protection, but protects the user from hostile environments, such as extreme heat or cold, corrosive atmospheres, and the like. The suit can operate continually for 24 hours of strenuous activity, and unless destroyed, can be cleaned and recharged for further use. 

Environmental Suit (space) – A bulky space suit, combined with environmental mask with oxygen, shielded helmet and protection from heat/cold and the vacuum of space. The space suit can operate continually for 24 hours of strenuous activity.

Basic radio (shortwave paraset) – This radio set is a miniaturized version of a larger shortwave
radio, with whip antenna, handset and parabatteries. The set has a range of ~1000 miles depending on the length of the antenna and interference. With the addition of accessories, the paraset can be used as a radiotape reader/writer and basic computational device. 

Rail monitor radio set – This radio set is a specialized device that interfaces with a ship’s rail monitor, allowing for communication between star systems using the rail network. Though radiohacks are expert in the use and operation of the rail monitor radio, others can successfully use the device with a Saving Throw. 

Jet Pack – The jet packs of 1939 are bulky, expensive and dangerous. Each use requires a Saving Throw to successfully take off and land. Some versions incorporate glider-like wings – the jet pack serves to get the pilot off the ground, while the wings guide and extend flight after the jet is turned off. 

Radio-Tape Reader – Information is stored on a technology called radio-tapes (think a reel-to-reel tape system of later years). The radio tape reader is an accessory to the basic radio paraset and includes a small text-based screen and keyboard, in order to read/write data to the radio-tapes.


Weapons

Weapons in 1939 are different from a standard White Star campaign setting. Man-portable laser weapons exist, but they are more rare, heavier, and expensive. Most soldiers, pirates and scalawags use standard firearms, though soldiers may have submachineguns and machineguns, as well as rocket launchers and other heavy weapons. Mono-molecular melee weapons and star swords are not known to exist.

* These weapons are considered “heavy weapons” and can damage starships and other vehicles. 

Armor

The technology of standard issue armor is much lower than the standard White Star RPG campaign. Though some laser reflective coating exists, for the most part, standard armors are less effective against laser attacks. Rumors of recently developed armored space suits, “war suits” and other forms of personal protection are rampant but unconfirmed. Most front-line soldiers and partisans only have access to light armor, relying on cover and concealment to protect them from attacks. Energy shields do not exist, though shields with laser coating are a recently available and expensive protective device. 

* When subject to laser attack, AC [AAC] is reduced by +2 [-2]

Monday, September 07, 2015

Beware the Chitin Bear...

I did this one-page adventure for a White Star contest over on the White Star community, and against all odds, I won. I released the one-pager as a pay-what-you-want over on RPGNow/Drivethru, but in running the adventure for my home group, I expanded the concept of the adventure significantly. I've written a couple of blogposts about it, and my home group really likes it (which is always good when you take an experimental campaign leap and introduce a new ruleset all at once).

Anyway, since the community seemed to like the concept and my home group is enjoying the game, I'm putting the whole thing together and releasing it as a PDF and print adventure. All of the art is in (from +James Shields and +Jason Sholtis), and I'm working through the final edits and layout. Expecting to have it out for your perusal by the end of the week.

But, while you wait, check out the Chitin Bear, one of the many kriegstier that were released by the Deutschstern Reich in order to complete the subjugation of the United Kingdom of Planets' possession: Churchill IV...





Nazi guts are Spicy... Art by +Jason Sholtis 

Friday, September 04, 2015

Space Travel in 1939

This the where I'm going with interstellar travel with my Galaxy War 1939 campaign. We'll be testing the rules-y stuff to see if it plays smoothly enough. It might be overly complicated, but I want to add an element of danger and uncertainty. Even though I'm trying to keep our game as streamlined as White Star RAW, I have a few modifications based on the fact that this is a lower-tech setting. The equipment is very specialized and very... analog... the operations are dangerous to the uninitiated, but not insurmountable.

So, I have the write up about the interstellar rail system. Not terribly original -- it's hyperspace with a low-tech 1930's reliance on radio technology and "switch and dial" computational machines. The expert at utilizing this system is the character class, the Radiohack. Coming soon.

As always, let me know what you think...

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

The Interstellar Rail System

It is thought that space travel was discovered nearly simultaneously across the industrialized world in the late-1920’s. The Austrian scientist, Erwin Schrodinger is credited with the discovery, but many have speculated that Schrodinger only provided the analysis and practical application of extraordinary finds by the explorer Janet Wulsin in the highlands of Mongolia. What was found, exactly, is not known.

What is known is that these discoveries led to limited intra-system space travel in less than 2 years and the discovery of an ancient interstellar “rail” system that connected more than fifty star systems with Earth-like planets to our own.

The Rails

Within the Sol system, explorers soon found two interstellar portals, or tears in spacetime (one near Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, and the other in orbit around Mars). These tears allowed access to what scientists called “nullspace,” but essentially allowed for fast, direct travel to other parts of the galaxy. The Titan portal led to a star system which came to be known as New Bern. The Mars portal led to the Roosevelt Nebula, a nexus for two other portals.

Eduard Spelterini, the famous Swiss explorer, is credited with making the first trip on the interstellar rail system, taking the Titan portal to the New Bern system. Here he discovered the Earth-like planet that he named Léman after the many lakes and oceans found there.

Over the intervening decade, the human race spread far and wide, discovering rails between nearly fifty star systems. The industrialized countries coveted these resources and soon political tensions on Earth were reflected in the stars.

Monitors, Communication and Railjumps

Moving along the interstellar rails, called railjumping, is a complex operation requiring a space vessel to communicate with a central computing system. This is accomplished with a radio device called a rail monitor, on the rail-traveling vessel, which communicates to a rail station. The rail station comprises a small space station that houses a mechanical computing device, continually manned by a group of technicians that receive radio transmissions, perform the necessary calculations, and relay
those calculations back to the vessel’s monitor. This information not only communicates the exact location of the rail portal and proper alignment trajectories, but also acts as a traffic controller, ensuring that vessels do not collide while traveling the interstellar rail. The calculations also keep the vessel properly positioned within the rail so that the ship arrives safely at the next rail portal. The experts at using the rail system and its associated technology are called radiohacks.

Raidohacks have enhanced the capabilities of the rail monitor, allowing it to send short messages through the rail network. This allows for faster communication between systems, though not as fast as some would like. Rail stations can be used to bounce messages through a rail portal and on to the end star system ensuring that messages move through space as quickly as possible. However, the radio waves must still travel through one or multiple star systems in order for the message to reach its destination. Such communication could take hours or weeks, depending on the interconnectedness of the star system and the final destination of the message. Additionally, these radio transmissions can be intercepted by any within the systems that the message transverses, making such communications less than secure.

Due to the shifting political situation, not all rail stations are friendly to vessels that wish to travel to certain systems or along certain rails. The vagaries of rail station positioning (proximity to the rail portal disrupts certain radio communications), usually prevents visual confirmation of a vessel’s origin, so a radio code is first transmitted by the ship’s rail monitor to the rail station. These codes are closely guarded secrets, often locking off entire clusters of star systems from unwanted visitors.

There are a number of ways around this restriction, and radiohacks are experts at riding the rails without authorization. Undiscovered rail portals are the usual method, though there are significant risks. A rail monitor can be configured to locate a rail portal, though the exact position is rarely determined. Railjumping without exact calculations could damage or destroy a ship.

Certain devices, all of them cobbled together from old radio monitors and other electronics, can break and transmit proper codes. This runs the risk of alerting an unfriendly rail station of an attempted breach. The typical response to a detected breach is to launch short-range interceptors to either disable the rogue ship and capture the crew or to simply destroy it.

If a friendly rail station is positioned on the other end of the rail portal, the radiohack can attempt to send a message through the rail portal in order to retrieve positioning and alignment information. The only risk here is that the unfriendly station on the front end of the rail could detect the communication and deploy countermeasures.

Finally, codes can be gathered through more traditional means – capturing a rail monitor configured with the proper code, buying codes on the black market, beating the code out of enemy prisoners, etc.

Game Rules

A skilled operator of a rail monitor with a friendly rail station transmitting calculations and no other complications can make a railjump without mishap and in a negligible amount of time. When the situation is more dire, or an unskilled operator attempts to make a railjump, things can get pretty desperate.

In the table below, the standard situations are described, along with duration for certain operations, as well as Success/Failure results, as needed. See the Railjump Mishap Table for those situations where things go awry.

The duration is based on a d20 roll by the operator, and comprises 1 + 1 per point of the roll. For instance, Alfred, the radiohack, is on a smuggler vessel that’s under attack by Nazi jump fighters. He receives calculations from a friendly rail station, and attempts to make a railjump. For the final calculations to complete and the ship to reach the proper alignment, he makes a duration roll of 12 on a d20. The operation takes 1 round + 12 rounds (13 rounds for you math whizzes), and the jump completes without a chance for mishap (other than the Nazi’s pounding the ship with laser blasts for 12 minutes). 

NOTE: Unskilled operators cannot make railjumps without calculations from a friendly rail station and cannot operate codebreaking devices to receive calculations from unfriendly stations.

Railjump Operations Table



Railjump Mishap Table









































Ship Critical Hit Chart



Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Shadowed Galaxy

In my home White Star campaign, the setting is a science-fiction version of 1939. The super powers having discovered spaceflight and a means to reach other star systems within the galaxy (details in a future post) ten years before, they have taken exploration (and their own quickly degrading political situations) to the stars. It is the eve of World War II and this tension, and the brush wars that arose from it, are played out on planets far from Earth.

I did a couple of one-page adventures in this setting: Bug Hunt, and Last Transmission. An expanded version of Bug Hunt is currently in the works (ETA end of September 2015).

The United Kingdom of Planets (UKOP) is set against the Deutschstern Reich (DR) as both try to gather allies among the other League of Free Worlds powers in order to bolster their forces for the inevitable confrontation to come.

UKOP formed the Space Operations Executive (SOE) with broad missions of sabotage, partisan recruitment, and intelligence/counter-intelligence against the DR and its allies (or potential allies). Denied by UKOP and with very little direct support, these teams of 4-10 specialists in the fields of intelligence, military operations, science and black ops fanned out to the stars with missions as varied as the political situations they encountered.



-=-=-=-=-=-=-

The tip of the spear in any SOE operation is the spy, a character specializing in disguise and diplomacy, with a network of contacts that can supply resources, safe houses, and most importantly: Information.

The spy is a new class meant for +James Spahn's excellent White Star RPG, or any OSR sci-fi game you wish to use it with.

Also note, this class is Open Content by the terms of the OGL.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

SPY

You work in a world of shadows, where who you are changes as frequently as the mission at hand. In all of your guises, you have contacts across the galaxy that feed you data, and you have “ins” to organizations and governments that get you the information you need. Whether crouched in the muck on a jungle planet negotiating with a hostile tribe to railjumping across the galaxy to your next diplomatic soiree, you
are the secret weapon that feeds your employers with the most valuable currency of all: Intelligence.

Though seemingly a supporting character type, spies often lead groups of operators, radiohacks, and smugglers onto dangerous worlds, behind enemy lines, in order to complete intelligence missions for their employers. Spies assemble the teams, gather information from their contacts, and act as the “face” when negotiation and diplomacy are called for. When the laser blasts start impacting, spies can typically give as good as they get.


Weapon/Armor Restrictions: Spies can use clubs, daggers, firearms, grenades, laser pistols, mono-daggers, mono-blades, staves and swords. They can wear light armor, but do not use shields.

Linguist: Spies speak three languages plus one language if their Intelligence ability score is 15 or higher.

Disguise: Spies are masters of disguise. When affecting a disguise, it is generally accepted, unless
someone suspects the spy’s identity. Any that attempt to detect the disguise must make a Saving Throw. This roll is penalized by the level of the disguised spy. Disguises are limited only by the imagination of the player and the forbearance of the GM, though impersonating a known/famous person should entail significant bonuses to the Saving Throw.

Contacts: Across the galaxy, the spy cultivates assets that feed him or her data. This information is specific to the mission at hand and may tip the balance from failure to success. When used in play, the spy is able to gather public information on a target or location without a chance for failure. For secured or hidden information, the spy must make a Save modified by his or her Intelligence or Charisma bonus (whichever is higher or more appropriate to the situation). A failed save typically nets a portion of the secret information, but with consequences (i.e. the spy’s activities were detected/intercepted, someone informs on the spy to an enemy, etc.).

When dealing with someone in person and on friendly terms, the spy is able to draw the contact under his or her influence (as per the Charm Person Meditation). The contact is allowed a Saving Throw to resist the attempt. Such influence can be dispelled (or trigger another Saving Throw) if the spy asks too much of the contact, puts the contact in direct danger, or otherwise oversteps the bounds of an ally (GMs discretion). These direct contacts are limited to the one per level of the spy.

Saving Throw: The spy receives a +2 to all Saving Throws to detect or avoid traps.

XP Bonus: A spy with either a high Charisma (15+) or high Intelligence (15+) receives twice (x2) the normal Bonus XP for that attribute (10% not 5%).

Network: By the beginning of 4th level, the spy has built a network of protectors, informants and turncoats that are loyal to the character. This network includes 1d3 1st level Mercenaries that act as constant bodyguards, enforcers, and combat troops in addition to 1d8+level individual NPCs spread across the galaxy. Up to 1+character level of these individuals will directly serve the spy during a mission, while the others funnel information and resources, as needed.

Bolt Hole: At 8th level, the spy has acquired a defensible location (space station, planetary base, capital ship, etc.). Though the location must be purchased, the spy and his or her resources are completely protected from enemies. At this level, the spy’s network of loyal followers doubles.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

From the Great Sky Gods Falls a Gift...

I spoke a bit about this adventure in the last post, and I've promised +Daniel Bishop that I would finish putting this thing together for.... jeez... three years, on and off. Instead of blathering on about this history of it, I'll just link the dang thing and you can read it for yourself.

The Tribe of Ogg and the Gift of Suss is a free 0-level DCC-RPG module set in a prehistoric time. Stay tuned for more free prehistoric stuff, because Daniel's module, along with +Michael Curtis' Frozen in Time inspired my home crew enough that I wrote out a fairly detailed cosmology, with patrons, spells, and a couple more adventures (other than Steading of the Nergalites...)



Get the PDF:

1-up

This PDF is formatted with one page, per page, in order.

2-up

This PDF is formatted with two page, per page, in order.

Booklet

This PDF is formatted as a printable booklet (pages aren't in order).

And here's a better quality map for the adventure area...

And the Gift of Suss! 


Thursday, August 20, 2015

DCC in the Land of the Savages

Before Frozen in Time, Daniel Bishop was working on a caveman adventure for me. This was before I understood the complexities of the DCC RPG license, and I got in some trouble for commissioning an adventure without pre-clearing it with Goodman Games. Lesson learned. Water under the bridge. It's all good now.

But, the damned adventure was really good. And it was a perfect lead-in to Frozen in Time. So, we played it at home anyway. About half of the cavemen made it through Daniel's adventure and through Frozen in Time. Half of those survivors were thrown into the distant past on Praeder Island, via The Tower Out of Time (another great Michael Curtis adventure). Praeder Island also made an appearance in the DAMN adventure: Forsaken Reavers of Praeder Peak. Anyway, the poor cavemen characters had a few adventures, encountering the Baboon Men, getting cursed, and various other niceties.

That was fun and everything, but we still had half our cavemen characters back in the neolithic era and their players really wanted to play. So, I did what I do -- I improvised a campaign setting on the fly using various sources, including UK5: The Eye of the Serpent, which I partially converted to DCC RPG. When we got to Area 16: The Eyrie, the idea of it was intriguing to me, but woefully underdeveloped. I was working on some other stuff within the campaign world (rise of the cult of Nergal, being one of them), and decided to develop out a few things behind the Eyrie.

This is the product of that work -- an unofficial, free, fan-made adventure for DCC RPG. It's got cover art, thanks to +David Fisher, and a map I created, but otherwise, it's all adventure. And it's all open-content. Use it however you want.

Pick up the Steading of the Nergalites right here: 1-up, 2-up, Booklet (if you want to print yourself a book)


And as always, let me know what you think about it.

Also, here's a hex-map of the area. After you read through Steading of the Nergalites, keep your eye on the northwestern area of the map (around the village of Ogg). Something fun is coming right around there in a week or so.




Saturday, July 11, 2015

Peanut Butter and Chocolate and Space and WWII

I've been pretty focused on fantasy gaming through DCC RPG for a few years now. And very focused on the same through various versions of D&D for many many years before that. I have delved into Call of Cthulhu, Star Wars (d20), and a few other systems, in the intervening time, but for whatever reason, fantasy gaming has held my attention almost exclusively.

Strangely, I have other interests in reading both fiction and non-fiction, as well as other media. History is probably the number 1 interest, even above fantasy fiction. I tend to hone in on periods of history where major social upheaval provides opportunities for social mobility. All those fancy words really mean, when chaos reigns, people like me have a chance at a different life other than toil and servitude.

The time period around the 1500's seems to be a huge draw for me-- when it seemed that the human race "woke up," realized they had a brain, and started flexing against the strictures of generations of fiat rule by kings, priests, and other thugs. The sengoku jidai period of Japanese history, the Renaissance in Europe, Age of Exploration and the founding/subjugating of the New World. All of these time periods and general locales seemed to undergo painful, war-torn periods from which emerged a completely different world. And all have held my obsessive interest at various times.

It's the same with World War II. The war was so pervasive and echoed so far down history that we still see and feel its impact -- and yet, we can barely imagine what people went through during that time. So many people had their lives taken from them, and so many others rose above the death and destruction to do things that we today find utterly astounding. I was a soldier, and I was in the first Gulf War, but I can still barely imagine charging up Omaha beach on D-Day, standing across the Siegfried line as my comrades fled around me and the Allies advanced, unopposed, crouching in a blown out building in Stalingrad trying to pick off one more Nazi officer, or piloting what was essentially a paper airplane with a thousand pound torpedo strapped to it over Pearl Harbor. From 1939 to 1945, there are too many stories. You can't tell them all.

Science (fact and fiction) has also always held my interest. Whether it was the pulpiest of space pulp to scientific journals crowded with concepts that took me months to understand -- I've always been captivated by our need to understand the universe.

So, yeah, it's only natural that when +James Spahn published the White Star Role Playing Game, that all the chocolate and all the peanut butter converged to one sweet delicious idea: WWII in Space.

+Edward Kann published a great set of RPG books back in the early 2000's called Rocketship Empires 1936. In it the human race was given the power of spaceflight by Martians and so headed out to the stars, very quickly developing technology of a decidedly pulp variety. The concept of the game was fantastic. It hit almost all the cylinders of my interest -- pulp, sci-fi, pre-WWII political strife. I wrote several scenarios based on his universe in the Savage Worlds system (you can still check them out over on the Mystic Bull Cafe. But, Ed abandoned that game, for whatever reason, and I moved on from it.

I did a lot of other work on scenarios and systems related to WWII, but I could never seem to find the right one, or enough folks interested in playing. Rocketship was close, but it was too early. I wanted to take the stories from the actual war and put the sci-fi spin on them. And I didn't want to be burdened by political situations, aliens, and other stuff that I didn't feel like fit.

So, I'm embarking on my own pulp sci-fi journey. Set in an alternate past, starting in 1939 as the war truly starts, only this time, the war starts in space. Why in space? Because that's where I want it to be. I'm not planning to write a campaign setting explaining every detail of alternate history. There's going to be no "campaign map" or write-up of regions, kings/rules, and armies. These are stories about men and women involved in the secret war between the United Kingdom of Planets and the Deutschstern Reich. Between the Dai Nippon Teikoku and the Soviet Star Republic. And unofficially, the American Galactic Union against any and all enemies.

Cut to the crawl...



In 1939, as the brush wars that would eventually become full scale conflict began between the Deutschstern Reich (DR) and the League of Free Worlds, the chamberlain of the United Kingdom of Planets (UKOP) dispatched teams of operators to gather intelligence on the enemy and to conduct disruption operations on its assets in Reichspace. Assembled from diverse cultural backgrounds within the League of Free Worlds, these teams were composed of 4-10 specialists in the fields of human and signals intelligence as well as military, science, and black operations. With broad missions of sabotage, intelligence, counter-intelligence and partisan recruitment, the Space Operations Executive (SOE) fanned out to the stars. Disavowed by the UKOP and the League and hunted by the elite weltraumkommandos, the SOE fought a shadow war against the greatest threat to peace our fledgling space forces have ever known.

And cut to the (working) logo...


The first adventure is a free one -- Bug Hunt. It's Pay What You Want over on One Bookshelf 


Monday, January 05, 2015

Blame it on the Keep, Part 2

I have been fairly inundated with DCC RPG writing, playtesting, and general gaming for a couple of years now. Recently, (mostly due to +Eric Hoffman ) I jumped back into running a B/X/Etc. game based around Keep on the Borderlands.

This campaign took off over the holidays. True to form, the PCs (in game) and deliveries (out of game) changed the trajectory of the campaign world.

I had been angling for a space that I could run a number of the old school modules, since (to be completely honest) I've never played nor run most of them. As you can see from the campaign map, I was going with the U1-3 series (Saltmarsh etc), Ghost Tower of Inverness, Assassin's Knot (at least some portion of it) and White Plume Mountain. The towns and sites up north were reserved for a high level set of adventures that I wrote up several years ago that never got played.



To start out, the PCs wrecked several plans within the Keep area -- drove off the evil priest that was lingering about the Keep, sent the kobolds on a mini-trail-of-tears, and then discovered a barrow in the swamp that links to several storylines in Barrowmaze. I was marking time, really, until Barrowmaze Complete showed up, because I wanted to send them through a modified Barrowmaze -- with just a handful of the barrows and a section of the maze. Then Barrowmaze Complete showed up on Christmas Eve... and the characters ran down their hooks to that area and, basically, refuse to leave.

So, now, the campaign map has changed...



I'm still putting the U1-3 stuff on the coast (in Bogtown, instead of Saltmarsh), and I changed from Greyhawk to Ironguard Motte (mostly because Greyhawk is just too damn big!) for a large settlement in the area.

So far, in the Barrowmaze area, the party has come to the attention of the forces of both Orcus and those dormant (no longer) forces of Nergal. I had planned to link KotBL and Barrowmaze through Nergal (the evil temple in KotBL is an attempt to rally Nergalite forces, due to rumors of artifacts and shrines in the area). The party has raised Varghoulis, a Death Knight dedicated to Nergal, who in turn raised an undead army. He has since marched off to the north to consolidate forces for an old fashion "god raising." In the meantime, the party managed to lob a grenade into the the forces of Orcus, by murdering one of their priests and stealing a bunch of books related to rituals and histories of Orcus and Nergal.

So now, not one but two major evil cults are aware of, and not very happy with, the PCs. This should get really fun, really fast.