Sep 30, 2008

Houses of the Blooded - MUST HAVE!

Halloo! Just a quickie today.

After trawling through the archives of, I noticed I missed a sale pointed out by Mentioned was a newcomer to the RPG world, "House of the Blooded". Upon further investigation, I see that the sale @ is still going on! Got 5 bucks? Try something new!

An additional review over at (honestly, I don't know how I missed it!) may help as well.

Still doubting? Go to After reading up a bit more, I was SOLD!!

Player generated conflict resolution? Dice pools? Barebones - fly by the seat of your pants campaigning? I had always wondered what it would be like, playing D&D with the World of Darkness engine...This seems pretty darned close. And while the default setting is a weird Burning empires meets WoD, with a wee bit of AMBER thrown in for good measure. I am unfamiliar with Octane and FATE game systems, so I'll have to leave it at that.

In any event, I will be buying it with an eye towards customizing it for use in a space opera. Have I mentioned my 3.0 Dragonstar game recently? lol, great game world there - crushed by the weight of bad rules.

Curious? -

And good times were had by all!

Sep 26, 2008

RPG CARNIVAL #2 An abbreviated wrapup.

On some advice from a fellow blogger I hold in high esteem, I have decided to retry this. Here is a listing, with links, of the participants (in no particular order).
Questing GM proving that staying away from the many venomous critters of Borneo gives a LOT of time to blog : ) A lovingly created full pantheon, created by Jatori, fleshed out in greater detail by follow up posts. As well as a bonus! tools and misc. helpers for newbie brewers, and a critique of the carnival in general. Avianfoo also gives us a homebrewed ruleset for use with the awesome Descent board game. Gomez gives us an excellent post on 4E familiars from Paper&Plastic. Rayvn's contribution, custom constellations, and how they can affect a world.
The indelible Graham, chiming in on how he likes his 'brew. (canadians and their brew...:-) ).
Nitessine reminding us of the delicious horror of a homebrew mashup.
Ishmayl breaks down another toughie, alignments beyond RAW.
Bob, over at the dice bag, lends his expertise (and memory) to show the heights of coolness a long running game can reach.
Tomkat1066 has moved to a new address, and given us a nice compilation of his homebrew burned lands campaign.
Mike Mearls honors me with his addition to the carnival. Another alignment system that scoffs at such silly concepts as law and's all about association, and motivation.
Madbrewlabs gives us a faction/allegiance subsytem from their in-development homebrew world.
Faustus gives us the d20 past game I always wanted to play - Infernal Victorian England!!
Chatty's entry, campaign prep notes...good stuff there!
Reverend Mike's entry, a nasty little critter name of...James. Greywulf and his homemade board game - Rogue Trader.
Storyteller gives us a firearms based homebrew class that has me thinking of...sandalwood...and dark towers...hmmmm.
Scott gives us one last look at the awesomeness of homebrew alignments. And Gregor comes in with a whopping pile of 'Brew just in the nick of time!

I'd like to thank you all for participating. I hope you all enjoyed the work and content as much as I did. Apologies for the earlier laziness. No excuses offered, just a sorry. I hope this is more like what you were expecting.

If I missed anyone, please yell at me in the comments section, you will be added. Thank you.

Sep 25, 2008

NOT DEAD! Just up to my rectum in rhesus monkeys.

Some period in time ago, I announced a short break in posting. This is near it's end. Between a sudden burst of actual work, and several large projects at my new house, most extracurriculars have been on hiatus.

After several late evenings, I am nearing completion of the most critical phases of said work. As such, I felt the need to disprove the rumors of my demise. Also, the 26th is upon us! The Carnival wrap up will be the next post.
On that note, allow me to thank all of you for participating...and curse your firstborns for there being so darned many of you. This would appear to be an epic post in the making. As to the next victim, That will be announced as well.

Until such a time as I post the next chapter in my blogging saga, have a giggle.

Sep 9, 2008

Skill Challenges - As flexible as the rest of the system.

Greetings folks. I know I said I was taking some time off. I still am, but I had an hour to kill waiting for some plans. I have posted an abbreviated homerule version of the 4E skill challenge I have been using. In my limited experience (so far) it has proven to be a whole lot more fun than the boring old RAW. Consider me back on break now!

First thing, I REALLY like the idea of a contest of wits. Unfortunately, players are always either too smart for your tricks - or too dumb to see the clues right in fron tof their faces. As such, any "scripted" conversation or noncombat event rarely survives intact. This is a major pain when you have spent several hours getting everything just right. Queue the skill challenge.
A Sphinx's Riddle - Challenge to possibly ascertain clues to the answer.

A Hostage Exchange - Negotiate safe release of hostage

A Criminal Trial - convict criminal or defend innocent

A Sensitive Negotiation - Two warring dukes making peace, A contested trade agreement.

Just a couple of flavors, each with a hundred variations.

So the game is rolling along. You have just finished combat, and the BBEG of the moment sees his minions fallen about the room. He pulls a hostage out of an off-stage area. Putting a knife to her throat, he demands his freedom in exchange for the hostage.

At this point we will roleplay until the proverbial "brick wall" is hit. Eventually it will reach a point where nothing is happening. "We want this, I want that. You first, no You!" At this point, Either the players or the DM will call a skill challenge!

Players: Who's in/out? They declare participants, order, and relevant skills.

DM: Secretly determines D4 (or one per participating player) random skills that are auto-fails. This reflects the uniqueness of each individual challenge quite nicely.

After this phase, The DM allows the players to roleplay their skills. They make their rolls and if deserving, are awarded style points (a +1 to +3 to their roll.) The roleplaying always precedes the actual roll.

BAM! You have a satisfing encounter. In this particular situation, the warlord was particularly good with his diplomacy. The Ranger informed him that it was 5 days on foot to the nearest village, The rogue ninja'ed himself to cut off a quick "cut and run" (auto-fail: Athletics), and the fighter flexed and growled menacingly. Unfortunately, the fighters intimidation sets off the BBEG (auto-fail: Intimidate) 2 failures before 4 successes!

How does one recover from THAT particular pickle? It was...interesting. I now allow named NPC's to make skill challenges too, and guess what? IT works very well too! what a crazy night!

So there you go. IMHO a much more dynamic system for skill challenges. Now they are as important as combat! Anyone else altered 4E's mechanical underpinnings? Specifically, anyone figure out a slightly less abstract healing surge? There is gold in these here hills! 4E aint perfect yet, but with a little hard work, we can make it so!

Am I insane? Brilliant? Pathetically average with a decent idea? Let me know what you think of this. I've used it for 8 challenges so far, with two of those against the party. So far so good.

Break time

Taking a short break. I Have actual work to do for the first time in weeks! It won't last, so I'll be back shortly! Until then...Have a giggle on me!

Sep 4, 2008

SO here she is...The Weeping Womb!

Resembling no less than a monstrous tentacle covered, pink maggot. The Weeping Womb is the hloy grail of Aberrant ambition. Once awakened this malevolent creature is capable of spawning a never-ending army of broodlings, that once properly fed, can be molded into any creature necessary. She is a creature of hate...and hunger. Viewing the world from one enormous eye, she plots no less than the end of the world, and the rise of hers.

My first attempt at monster creation. It took about 3 hours, ith the bulk of that skimming the MM for ideas. I am fairly confident that I did it correctly, but please let me know if you see anything glaringly off. My thanks to Jonathan, Graham, and Plotter for their assistance. More to come.

Sep 2, 2008

Okay, I'm sold. Assault on the lightless Depths will be 4th Edition.

Not exactly earth-shattering in it's import, but news it is. I mention this in a post because I want to talk about the reasons why.

As my regular readers may remember, I launched this blog as a public sounding board for my hare-brained projects. Whenever I am too lazy to write about them, I just spout off some other random crap that is generally entertaining at the very least.

My current obsession/project is a re-boot of a classic 2nd edition boxed set that introduced me to the joys (and travails) of Dungeonmastering. My goal is to re-write it using the new mechanics, and improve it enough to make a case of it not being a copyright infringment. Luckily, this is pretty easy if you actually invest a little time.

Thus was born ASSAULT ON THE LIGHTLESS DEPTHS, a combination of all the cool stuff that I want to see/play/run in a campaign.

Epic storyline? Check.
Evil villains? Check.
Dungeons? Check.
Dragons? Check.
Assassins? Check.
Stupid adventurers? Check.

Pretty simple right? Well, not so much. I have yet to find online tools that I am comfortable with to generate most of the encounters, so I have been manually creating the stat blocks and encounters myself...3 signatures have never been so necessary to prevent someone from becoming a danger to themselves or others. It has been AWFUL!

Here's an example. My BBEG at the very end is going to be a class 0 or 1 deity. How long do you think it takes to create a CR 22 Aberration Paragon Deity? So far, 4 1/2 hours. I have three full sheets of notes, a very basic set of skills, a very long list of desired powers and attributes, a proposed list of nearly 15 feats, some flavor text, and not much else. See, I've been hunting through 13 books trying to piece together a coherent whole. Looking forward, I am seeing the halfway point off in the distance...

THIS is why 4E will succeed. It isn't torture to design within the system anymore. Simplicity is not always a bad thing. In fact, in product development, it is usually paramount! So why is it so derided here? Entrenched nerdism gone sour? Fanboy FTW mentality? Wish-I-was-still-a-late-teen angst? Oh well, it's never that simple is it? (pun intended).

After perusing my 4E DMG, I see that the same creature would take more like an hour...tops. Minions? 20 minutes for the base critter, another 20 minutes per variant for the actual named NPC monsters. I don't know about you, but my time is becoming increasingly precious as I get older. It used to be acceptable (hell! it was a badge of honor!) to spend 10-16 hours prepping for a bi-weekly game. I simply do not have that option anymore. Between that and the incessant prodding from Graham @ criticalanklebites, I simply have no reason to hold on to a system, that while it holds a number of fond memories, was still a prison cell disguised as another 10 X 10 room.

My players are cautiously optimistic. I feel honored that they put more stock in my DMing than they do the rules it is built from. This said, I choose the product that is designed specifically to get me away from the hours and hours of homework, and back behind the screen where I belong.

BTW: I got called a 4oron on the Paizo boards the other day! Should I have been mad? I wonder if the mild amusement tempered with pity was the intended response? Somehow I rather doubt it : )