Monday, December 8, 2014

8 Levels Deep

Finished drawing the dungeon maps for "Entry Level", the upcoming Dungeonteller adventure. Next up, scanning them, keying them and writing the encounters.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

HeroForge 3D Printable Minis Screenshots

Posting screenshots of two of the custom minis I'm ordering through the Kickstarter reward for HeroForge. Even if you don't actually order the minis, the screenshot feature is a great way to create character portraits.
Shown are Kefl Dür, my D&D level 22 barbarian/rogue, and Kat aka Ekaterina, level 15 rogue/thief-acrobat, from a longstanding campaign back in the 3e and 3.5e era. Cool!

Kefl Dür

Sunday, November 16, 2014

[Map Preview] Iso Dungeon Map

This weekend I dug down to the 3rd level of the upcoming Dungeonteller adventure. If you liked "Welcome to the Plunderdome," then you'll like this even more, I'll wager.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

[Map Preview] "Entry Level": A Dungeonteller Mega-venture

Quick snapshot of a map in progress. The action takes place in a town where only licensed adventure-houses can enter the big dungeon underneath and go looting. In fact, the town's economy depends upon it. The heroes can choose one of three houses to work for, each with its own terms of employment, per-diem, and loot-sharing policy.

Fun fact: the original working title for this adventure was "In Search of the Unpwned."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Make the Dragons Nice, and Hold the Dungeons

My kid hates dungeons.

She loves dragons — nice ones who let you ride them or have tea with them. Most of our Dungeonteller gaming sessions are about acquiring exotic pets, making friends with monsters or about scolding the ones who insist on behaving badly. If they get on really well, she will invite them back to her tropical island home base/monster sanctuary. She really is a kind and lovely soul, and as game master I work hard to make sure the games appeal to her.

This can be challenging for me. My tastes run to the creepy and atmospheric, like if D&D had come out in 1930 and the modules were written by Clark Ashton Smith and HP Lovecraft. Without horror, conflict or combat to inject into the adventure, I still flounder a bit at times. It's easy to throw another troop of orcs at the PCs when you're not feeling inspired, but when the crunchy/tactical side of the game holds no draw for your players, you've got to find a new way to sustain interest and engagement.

We played today with her BFF, and there was a little more interest in conflict and tactics. The two of them play Minecraft together where there's lots of monster-fighting for loot drops and such -- maybe that's hardened them a bit. Anyway, the PCs had spent a snuggly night in a tundra tiger's den with her little cubs crawling all over them as a snowstorm raged outside. In the morning, the PCs found ogre tracks outside (easy to spot because of the drag marks left by the ogres' loot bags). Setting off home for the elven sanctuary of Ringwood (from the Big Hexyland map set), the PCs were soon waylaid by two tundra ogres ("snow-gres?") and a fight was on. My kid's hero is a forest guardian (a centaur/druid type that is not on the official Dungeonteller hero list), and her BFF was playing a rogue (with a wolf as a pet, along for the trip with her pups in addition to the tigress and her cubs). The heroes slowly wore the ogres down with help from the wolf and the tigress, but the centaur was down to 2 Luck before she remembered a medallion her ancestor spirits had given her to summon help in an emergency. A cloud bank in the form of charging centaurs appeared in the sky, setting the ogres to flight. The funniest conceit of the encounter was that the ogres thought the rogue's crossbow bolts sticking out of their hides were fast-growing body hairs and that they figured it was time for a mutual full-body shave once the battle was over.

Have you ever DM'd a game for kids or grownups who love RPGs but aren't the least bit interested in fighting, looting, or solving mysteries? How did it go for you?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

[Actual Play OD&D] The PCs Discover Their Class Abilities

Move silently! Backstab! Turn undead!

Now that my young players have absorbed the basic dice mechanics of Holmes-style D&D, they are actually looking at their character sheets and discovering what their PCs can do. As you will see if you read on...

The heroes had just finished off the last of some nasty kobolds and now decided to commandeer their barge. Drifting and poling downstream, the PCs soon bump up against an iron portcullis that bars further river travel into the kobold stronghold (unless the kobolds decide to open the portcullis). On the other side of the gate there are arrow slits hewn out of the rock. Kobolds start firing crossbows through the portcullis at the PCs, who  waste a bunch of ammo firing back before taking a few too many crossbow hits and deciding to withdraw. So much for downstream.

Upstream, they come to the base of a waterfall, and a small landing carved out of the river tunnel, with a door leading to parts unknown. And there's a path that leads behind the spray curtain of the waterfall. They opt to try the door, and have to bust it down. Beyond is a creepy temple or crypt area which looks disturbingly familiar to the old wizard, Corvax, who fought the vampires here a century before. Inching along a corridor, they see a source of pulsing red light around the corner.

The thief slinks ahead, rendered invisible by a spell from the old wizard. He discovers a sanctum with an altar holding a pulsing red gem. Eight robed figures are kneeling, facing the gem. The thief fails his move silently roll but the robed acolytes don't notice him. He reports back, then returns, leading the party to attack the sanctum. He backstabs one robed figure and misses, his slash opening the figures robe to reveal a dusty ribcage sans flesh. Slowly the robed figures turn. They are possessed skeletons with glowing red eyes!

The fight is on. The cleric tries to turn undead and rolls a 2 on 2d6. Ouch. The warrior socks one with a hammer she picked up from the kobolds. Smash! The skeleton lurches but manages to remain intact. The old wizard sees the whippersnappers need some help. He casts web and snares 6 of the skeletons. The druid smacks one with her bow (yes her bow, lucky it didn't break). The thief finds that daggers aren't much use against these bony foes. By the time the two standing ones are destroyed, the others have escaped from the web. Fortunately the fighter has found her mojo and smashes 3 skeletons in three successive rounds of combat. Eventually the undead are all rendered merely dead, and the heroes' attention turns to the pulsing red gem. The cleric, who has a pet fairy dragon, orders the little pet to grab the gem and bring it to her. Into her backpack it goes. Did I mention the gem is full of the souls of the vampires' old worshipers, waiting for  skeleton bodies to be reincarnated into.

Who should come into view down the hallway but two more skeletons, carrying an inert pile of bones between them, ready to incarnate another worshiper. The thief takes one down with a backstab + natural 20 clutch roll. The cleric turns the other skeleton who begins shambling away. "Gimme your bow," says the warrior to the cleric. By the time the warrior has an arrow nocked, the skeleton is nearly out of sight. She shoots. By gosh, another natural 20!

And it was time to call it a day.