Friday, December 22, 2017

Maple Punk Campaign Setting

Ever since Fifa stopped dropping off the brown envelopes a couple of years ago--no idea why that happened--we've had to scale things back a bit at DiceChucker Enterprises, and nowhere was this more obvious than at Dicechuck-a-thon XXVI.333, staged last weekend. This year's event was relocated from the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan to a corner table at the fabled Royal Canadian House of Pancakes. To be fair, it was one of those big, round tables with the booth-style seating; we could've seated 8 comfortably.

Inspired by the venue, I decided to debut my new maple punk game. Set in an alternate earth some time after the Cold War came to a head with a limited nuclear war--a la War Day by Whitley Strieber & James Kunetka, or, for the less-literate, "Red Dawn" by the immortal Patrick Swayze--both the Soviet Union and the United States are vastly dissipated as a result, leaving Canada as the predominant force in the Northern hemisphere. Rumors spread that the nuclear strike was instigated by Moscow in retaliation for the Miracle on Ice, which induced Canada--outraged that they were left out of a war over a hockey game--to send troops across the north pole to claim the rich ice fields of Novaya Zemlya and simultaneously, in a move known as "Burgoyne's Revenge", invading the U.S. at several points in New England and the Upper Midwest, staking claim to the American rust belt and cornering the world's maple syrup supply.   

But the the Maple Leaf forces, upon reaching burnt out remnants of Schenectady in the east, or perhaps on failing to find the Ransom Money from "Fargo", decided there really wasn't much to be gained by the occupation and retreated back to their pre-war boundaries. But the remnants of the United States had broken up into various regional confederacies, none of which seemed to want anything to do with the frosty North Country territories that the Canadian troops had vacated, and made no effort to reclaim these lands. The area has now become a no-mans land stretching from Maine to Minnesota and as far south as the I-90/94 corridor in some areas. Populated by settlers and bandits driving rusted-out pickup trucks across frozen lakes, all sorts of freebootery take place in this zone but, this being the North Country, three commodities reign supreme: Labatt's, cheese curds, and the collected works of Irving Bacheller.  

I see it as a sort of Boreal "Road Warrior" or perhaps "Dukes of Hazzard" on snowmobiles. As such, I'm using a mishmash of Gamma World/D&D rules with stuff from Gangbusters--mostly firearms and vehicular combat rules--and maybe some Aftermath wherever that seems appropriate, like when I need some nuclear fall out. We played the shit out of it at the pancake bar on Saturday. Sorry to have missed you.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Year End Filler: Erol Otus Anagrams

I was wandering around Wikipedia the other day and found myself reading up on everyone's favorite TSR illustrator of the early 80s who isn't Tramp, although maybe we don't even need to mention Tramp in that timeframe as--other than Wormy--his work is pretty much absent from TSR publications after 1979.

Anyway, EO's wiki states that there's a drow artist referenced in a TSR module (A4?) whose name is "Ool Eurts" which is a tribute to--and anagram of--Erol Otus. My first thought was, "Ool Eurts? That's the best you could do?" So I started messing around with the dude's name, coming up with names like Etru Sool, Sulteroo, Ros Leotu, etc. which led to this "It's December and I need 4 more posts to quell the Baleful Gods of Blogger OCD" post. So enjoy these anagrams and feel free to provide more of your own.



Thursday, November 9, 2017

Palace of the Silver Princess Orange v. Green: module showdown feat. D Osgood

Orange, as in "Original"
Archaic D&D module B3: Palace of the Silver Princess, published in 1981, has a more interesting publishing history than most works in the genre. Written by Jean Wells--the only girl in the TSR boy's club back in the day--and printed up with a snazzy orange cover, Upper Management found the thing so shockingly offensive that they hunted down every known copy--purportedly going so far as removing copies from employees desks under cover of night*--and heaving them into the dumpster behind the Lake Geneva KFC. 

Green for "festering act of bowdlerization"
Not satisfied with this heavy handed gesture, the honchos of TSR then took the original manuscript and tossed it to the pack of underfed hounds in the writer's kennel, where Tom Moldvay snatched it from the grasp of Lawrence Schick and tore into the thing with his teeth, drastically re-working the text for a second publication under the same name but with a vomitous green cover.

What drove this effort to erase Ms. Wells's original work and chasten the offending author? Was it the risque art? The seditious messages hidden in the text? An aversion to the color orange? The debate rages on. 

Well, I'm not raging on about it; I've never had any contact with this module before now. But fortunately DiceChucker Caverns Platinum® member and guest blogger emeritus D. Osgood is seething with fury on the topic and has taken it upon himself to further the discussion by writing up a comparison. In a misguided effort to help publicize his plea--have you seen how few hits this site gets?--he called me up on the Bat Phone and we had this conversation: 
Osgood: "Hey Chucker, you haven't posted squat all year, I'm taking over your stupid blog."

Me: "Fine."  

Osgood: "Cool."
What follows is the transcript of a debate that Osgood facilitated at NerDivaCon '17 between Princess Argenta, damsel in distress in the Moldvay version of B3, and Lady D'hmis or D'jiminez or D'something, the sardonic pro(an?)tagonist of the original Wells version. Also, His Steaminess, Lord Osgood--as part of our licensing agreement I have to refer to him using this honorific--tells me there are Easter Eggs hidden in the copy. Let me know if you find them and you'll win something that I'm sure you will find incredibly unrewarding.

Osgood:  Princess Argenta of Haven and from the land of Gulluvia, Her Grace, Lady D'hummus. D'Thanks to both of these eminent women for joining our panel today. Princess Argenta would you care to start us off with a description of your version of the Palace?

Princess Argenta:      Why of course. My palace is made of shining white marble which glows like silver when the sun sets--hence the title of the adventure. It lies in the land of Haven, a bucolic valley hidden in the heart of the Thunder "All Through the Night" Mountains. Here the crops are bounteous, the rivers run fresh and clear, the weather is pleasantly mild, and the humans, dwarves, elves, and halflings live in interracial harmony. Everyone is good, fair, and free of acne. Teehee!

Lady D'hmis:     "Haven?" Please. The setting in my version is the Barony of Gulluvia and it’s All Mine, sister. Ever since my husband accidentally fell on my poisoned knife I rule not just one cutesy castle, but six thriving communities. Now the barony is efficient and safe for militant feminists of all the important races. Everyone, especially men, know their place. All except possibly the NPC tinker and his daughter who can be used as a plot device as needed.
            The closest princesses are to the south east in the lands of Glantri, past the Thunder Mountains and Abaddon Woods. My lands are also bordered by the Moorfowl Mountains and the Misty Swamp to the north. They are all nasty places that my adventure-writer put some thoughtful detail into.
           Your precious castle, my dear princess, doesn't glow at all because it lies in ruins up in the Moorfowl Mountains. And, it gives me great sadness to report that you, my dear, [Winking at the crowd] have been dead for centuries. 

PA:      My goodness. A little testy aren’t we? Fear not! It can't be as bad as that for Haven is defended by good faeries called the Protectors, and they are the adorable!

LD:      They’re green; like the cover of your module. And by the way, I submit that you would have fared better if you had some strength of your own rather than relying on some jumped-up faeries who couldn't prevent a third level cleric--that’s two whole spells, dearie, neither of which cause damage--from sacking your precious palace.

PA:      Anyway, all of my subjects adooooore me. So much so that when my dwarven miners discovered a ruby the size of an apple, as a token of their devotion, they committed it to me.

LD:      Bequeathed, bequeathed.

PA:      They named it “My Lady’s Heart.” Touching, isn't it? I was so pleased that I invited all the realm to attend a celebration of the wondrous gem.

LD:      Your palace isn’t that big. Where would you keep the sheep?

PA:      Hush. They’ll organize themselves. At any rate, the day before the celebration, a gorgeous knight in black armor arrived riding a glamorous white dragon. He was Ellis, a Knight of the White Drakes.

LD:      You do know that white dragons are evil, don’t you? And this is coming from a company that was so stuck on alignments and races that goblins were not allowed to have shamans. Their spellcasters were all crazy humans. Every time: The Caves of Chaos, The Palace of the Silver Princess…

PA:      My beau Ellis…

LD:      ...Horror on the Hill…

PA:      My Beau Ellis was a good and honorable, and so was his dragon steed Ariksbane. He requested to escort me to the celebration and since Haven is known for hospitality, of course I granted his request.

LD:      A valley tucked into the heart of the mountains and sealed off from the rest of world by little green men is known for its hospitality? It seems like a land so far, far away would not have a reputation at all. Sounds like a boring reputation anyway. Now my reputation… mwah hah haah!

PA:      Alas, at midnight, disaster struck. Dark clouds hid the moon and a freezing wind blew through the valley. The crops withered in the fields, the cattle fell ill and the valley began to die. An explosion in my alchemist's laboratory destroyed much of the castle and an eerie, red glow surrounded the palace. All of my people were turned to white marble, while my beau and I were trapped inside the ruby.

LD:      Let me guess, this adventure was written during the Cold War when fear of nuclear weapons was high, the peasants’ understanding of radiation was low, and when it wasn't considered racist to turn into white marble. 

PA:      Raiding bands of humanoids now roam the countryside, Haven lies in chaos…

LD:      Right on!

PA:      ...and even the Protectors have disappeared!

LD:      I warned you about relying on faeries. Just sayin’…

PA:      The situation has become desperate!

LD:      I’d say so. This is an introductory module; that means you're counting on 1st level characters to save your bacon. Here, let me fill you in on your future. In my world, what you've related all happened almost five hundred years ago. Your beau-legged Ellis was no knight in shining armor; he was a bandit intent on stealing the ruby. When he saw your beauty, he decided to take you as well. The extent of the disaster that struck at midnight was a confrontation between the knight and a small party of demihumans. The palace was not destroyed by your alchemist Napolean Blownapart…

PA:      His name was Silverheart.

LD:      Silverheart?! Seriously? Oh Tom, Tom, Tom. Excuse me a moment, I feel an attack of the vapors coming on… Right. The people were not turned to white marble – those are statues carved by... statue carvers one presumes. And you were not trapped inside a giant ruby.

PA:      I most certainly was! And for all its outer beauty, it was rather drab on the inside.

LD:     About that. Are you saying that the ruby was hollow? Didn’t anyone notice that?

PA:      The ruby was magical of course. Its true name was “The Eye of Arik.” Arik of the Hundred Eyes was an ancient being of great evil. Several centuries ago, Arik was banished to a special dimension where he was to be imprisoned for all eternity. He had been trying to escape from his prison-dimension for ages…

LD:      At least he wasn't stuck in a ruby.

PA:      ...and he desired to take over Haven and enslave all its people.

LD:      Small-time thinker.

PA:      He at last managed to send one of his eyes across the dimensional barriers into the heart of the mountains. There the dwarves mined it, brought it to the palace…

LD:      And that’s when you threw a party for an eyeball. That is disturbing, princess.

PA:      The Protectors would have sensed the evil, but by the time they saw the ruby it was too late. Arik had already struck.

LD:      What about your palace cleric?

PA:      Branaur? What about him?

LD:      Well. That’s a much better name than the one your alchemist is cursed with. Yes, this Branaur, then, why didn’t he detect the evil radiating from the demon eyeball? Pretty simple spell, right?

PA:      Ermmm...

LD:     You did take magical precautions, didn’t you?

PA:      Well, that’s beyond the scope of… that it to say, I am certain he would have taken a look after Silverheart was done with it.
LD:     [Wincing in agony] Can we just call him 'The Alchemist' from here on out? I don't think my intestines can withstand hearing that name again. But back up a bit. You were throwing a party for the ruby before you had court security take a look at it to make sure the gem wasn't cursed? Tell me again why princesses outrank baronesses? So then this eyeball attracted hordes of orcs and goblins and such to town?

PA:      Evil eyes have a reputation for doing that.

LD:      … Indeed.

PA:      And then it teleported the evil priest Catharandamus into the palace to prepare the ceremony that would allow Arik to escape his dimension and cross back into our world. Finally, the ruby created a magical force field around the palace to prevent help from arriving and stopping Catharandamus.

LD:      Katherine who? Yeah, yeah, I know. That name didn’t change between versions. Still, this plot is pretty convoluted. I can’t help but ask - “magical force field?

PA:      [sigh] Don't blame me; I'm quoting straight from the adventure text.

LD:      Well, that's a most fascinating tale. Now please allow me tell you how your fate was written in the original orange version. There was no mention of this Cthulhic demon of the hundred eyes named Arik--I suppose that's a better name than "Jawn" or "Pattee" but not by much. There was a dragon and a dragon rider, but this unnamed Knight of the Suave Hair did not fly into town on a white dragon. He crashed your party and ogled both the gem and your fair demeanor. Then, many weeks later, a red dragon terrorized the land and feasted on its denizens. A few people, mostly the uneaten ones, claimed to see a knight wearing silver and blue armor mounted on the dragon. You, dear princess, were never heard from again and the palace is now in ruins, presumably due to centuries of neglect rather than alchemical misadventure.
What?! No caption?
            Rumors abound as to your fate. Some say the rogue knight made off with you; others say you were slain and the palace looted, but most agree--for no good reason other than to entice PCs into the adventure--that the ruby still lies in the ruins. But fact is stranger than fiction -- well, you know what I mean--because what really happened was that both you and the knight became ghosts who, together, protect the ruby.

PA:      Oh, is that us in that drawing of the angry woman with the knight in shining armor? She has such fabulous hair and a lovely figure. Are my legs really that shapely?

LD:     Did you think it was just a couple of smashingly dressed adventurers with unfortunate headgear? 

PA:      It is rather excessive.

LD:      Finally, we agree on something.

Other changes

      Besides completely cutting out the setting and background; changing a helpful and interesting tinker and his daughter into green faeries who command you to rescue the princess, but won't talk to you or help you other than getting you through the red force field of death; completely altering the character of the knight and the dragon; introducing an extra-dimensional demon god; changing the nature of the ruby; and moving the destruction from 500 years in the past into the present; there are a few other changes that Tom Moldvay made.
      Tom deleted the drowning rules. What?! How dare he! I’m afraid he did.
      He changed Catharandamus from a recently renowned local figure with two dwarven retainers and a female werebear flunky (all with backgrounds and character concepts) into 7 orcs and a werewolf with no personality.
The illusion in question. Roll a save to disbelieve.
      Tom eliminated almost all of the new monsters. Most notably, the 3 headed, 3 armed, 3 legged ubues became bugbears, an ogre, and a wight. The hungry little bear cub was replaced with a black bear wandering around the halls. *sigh* Tom replaced several wandering monsters on the upper level (gelatinous cube, a faction of berserkers, bandits, and ubues) with ghouls, harpies, zombies, and a freaking medusa. He threw in a few white apes for muscle. Notably, he removed the illusion created by the decapus; said illusion had greatly affronted one of the TSR managers. The decapus was retained as a mutated plant creature; rather, it already was a mutated plant creature, but Tom made it a different mutated plant creature. Jean had placed it in a room without plants; Tom moved it to a garden room without access to sunlight and outside air.
      Tom changed the maps here and there. Jean had left 20 rooms unstocked, but had suggested where to put monsters, traps, and treasures. This was done with the intent of training new dungeon masters how to create their own adventures.
      Tom replaced Jean’s several closed portcullises to be moved by main strength with several closed portcullises to be cleverly opened by raising two levers, one in each of two siderooms. His intent was… I’m not sure. The kicker is that he tossed out her one page of straightforward descriptions in favor of a “choose your own adventure” written in 63 entries and covering five pages of a 32 page booklet.
      Tom claims that the palace is enchanted but he removed every single indication of enchantment. He retained the weird physical traps, like the pit trap with unflaming oil between two undescribed rooms; I like to think of them as the school room and the vending machine room.
      The main change was that Jean’s adventure was searching a dilapidated, haunted, enchanted castle in search of famous loot. Tom’s version is a desperate fight to save the land from centuries of oppression by a demon lord with detachable eyeballs.

*You really think I've got a  source for this? Ha! You could try Wikipedia though; they might know something about it.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Happy St. Cuthbert Day

I missed St. Cuthbert's beer-drenched festivities back in March but, thanks to the Episcopal Church in the States, we get to celebrate his saintliness on August 31st as well (and again on Sept 4 in Wales). So here we are doffing our chapeaus to the Cudgelly One as summer slips into its inevitable tailspin.

In searching for a graphic to spice up the ol' post, I found this cool image from a t-shirt produced by Teepublic (go by one). What makes it extra-cool is that they've superimposed over a pair of iron-clad cudgels--in deference to Greyhawk Cuddy's well-known affinity--the stylized cross ascribed to real-world St. Cuthbert.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Dice Chucking in Hommlet: A campaign gone awry

[This essay was written ages ago but deemed unworthy of publication by the DiceChucker editorial Board. Given the lack of content lately, they've relaxed their standards significantly. It's essentially a summary of the Hommlet campaign that has inspired much of the fodder for this blog in the years since. -- D. Chuck] 

That's me lurking in the tree behind the party.
Back in the winter of 2012, I was hard at work on a semi-home re-brewed T1-4 which I christened TR 1-5 Against the Cult of Superlative Evil (I don't remember why it was "TR" instead of just "T", just roll with it) wherein I was using existing--though heavily re-worked--Gygax penned modules to complete the T series.  Using as starting point a relatively intact V. of H., it was going to diverge into a wholly different experience from there.  A quick synopsis of how I planned out the campaign:
  • TR1 V. of H.: Logistically pretty similar to the original T1 except Lareth and his storm troopers are in the late stages of preparations to launch an attack on Hommlet.  Thematic changes involve the old timers of Hommlet expressing their irksomeness about the recent influx of Cuthbertians which they see as the Velunafication of Hommlet.  Also, the Temple of Elemental Evil has, as yet, never risen its head--the moathouse is an ancient frontier fortress from the Great Kingdom days--and Emridy Meadows is actually a big ol' swamp and not the locale of a recent battle.  Also Lareth=Y'dey, but everyone knows that now. Intelligence gathered here would unearth the first kernels of a malevolent Cult acting in the region.
  • TR2 Monastery of Cuthbert: The PCs head over to Nulb which, in my altered G-hawk is not a particularly evil place, where they hear of a ruined monastery--a fleshed out DMG Sample Dungeon--that may be harboring a particularly valuable Fire Opal. Evidence gathered here begins to indicate that the Cult of St. Cuthbert is not what it seems. 
  • TR3 Citadel on the Borderland: The players find themselves in a citadel of oozing malignancy-the KEEP from B2 Keep on the Borderlands, except heavily influenced by my recent reading of Franz Kafka's The Castle--giving them the chance to experience everyone's fantasy of clearing out the KEEP.  Unless the players are dunderheads, they will realize that the Cult runs pretty deep in these parts.
  • TR4 Caves of the Unknown: On the run from the Cult, the players head for the hills, where they meet a motley assortment of rebels holed-up in a cavern-riddled ravine not far from the ol' keep.  Of course, the evil empire finds them out, and a hard fought battle ensues.
  • TR5 Prelate of Elemental Evil: The conspiracy goes all the way to the top as the players discover that the See of Veluna has become a mockery of all that is beneficent in this world.
I never sourced an existing module to rip off for TR5, but it didn't matter because what actually happened was this:
  • Session 1: Players loiter in Hommlet recruiting a party.
  • Session 2: Players get their butts kicked by frogs, bandits, and skeletons before they even set foot in the moathouse proper.  Return to Hommlet toting the corpses of half the party.
  • Session 3: Players loiter in Hommlet recruiting a new party.
  • Sessions 4-6: Players finally head back to the moathouse but decide to bypass it and follow the track through the swamp instead.  Since TR 2 was nowhere near ready for them, I started rolling furiously on the random encounter tables--resulting in the sudden appearance of an abandoned shell keep.  What followed were several sessions of semi-random dungeoneering. My players and I come to understand that the swamp is actually some sort of portal of chaos where things don't function like normal. As an example, we used the DCC RPG magic rules in the swamp.   
  • Session 7: Cancelled when half of my players moved to Australia.
None of my backstory machinations really came into play--at least not the way that I had originally planned.  Every time I had a cool explanation for something that would lead the gang into the clutches of my malevolent plot, the players ignored them and went somewhere else.  Every time I left a clue, the PCs passed it over--or even willfully destroyed it--without ever noticing it's significance.  And it was pretty sweet.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Dungeon Rats: Dice Chucker sells out

The good folks over at The Dungeon Rats asked me (and probably you as well, no?) to write up a piece on their DnD playin' podcast.* They record their gaming sessions as their posse of PCs quest through the Endless Dungeon. Highjinks, one hopes, ensue.

The Dungeon Rats are not your typical gang of sweaty, Dorito-snarfing gamers. They've got a background in improv--which one suspects will come in handy for this type of endeavor--and some pretty slick production values. They incorporate listener input into their game--oh cripes, read the press release for yourself, it's right over there on the other side of the page. Hopefully it's something along the lines of Harmonquest minus the animation.

Those of you who pay [too much] attention to my stuff are probably thinking, "Hey D-Chucker, this sounds like an adventure log in podcast form. Don't you hate adventure logs?"  And the answer is yes, it is pretty much an adventure log in podcast form and, indeed, it's not really my thing. But hey, plenty of people do like that kind of thing, so if you're one of 'em, you should go check out The Fungeon Rats.**

*I usually ignore these sort of requests--I say as if they happen all the time--because I assume that someone better equipped to do them has also been solicited for the job. But it just so happens that Reader Rick was pestering me to get off my ass and do something on the same day that these folks contacted me and so, lacking any other material at hand, voila!
** That "Fungeon" bit was a typo but maybe the Dungeon Rats will ask me permission to trademark it.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Iron Rangers of Stonefist: Hockey in Oerth

I'm just sayin'...

Coat of Arms of the Iron Rangers, a semi-professional hockey team based in the upper Midwest during the 1970s
Coat of Arms of the Hold of Stonefist, a nation of the World of Greyhawk, created in the upper midwest during the 1970s .

Thursday, March 16, 2017

What I want from a DMG

This is a few years overdue but, inspired by nothing in particular, I've finally decided to ponder a few different reference tomes written specifically for the guidance of Dungeon Masters, referees, Game masters, and their ilk.  In addition to the original 1979 Dungeon Masters Guide, I've reviewed the Hackmaster Game Masters Guide, C&C's Castle Keepers Guide, as well as some non-DM specific works such as the DCC RPG rulebook and S&W Complete because they purport to include DMly--as well as playerly and monsterly--information all in one comprehensive tome.
Listen up Trollords.

Without further ado, here are a few things that I think make for a good DMG:

Tables, lists, charts and graphs.
I want easily digestible visual data.  Information must be presented in the most visually consumable method possible.  Text should be limited to a sentence or two whose purpose is to support a nearby table, graph, diagram, or illustration.  Perhaps a paragraph or two here and there to introduce concepts and such, but the make the paragraphs short and keep them to a minimum. Anything more than ~5 or 6 sentences and you've lost me.

A few essential Types of tables to include:
  • Random dungeon generation
  • NPC generation -- including personality traits
  • magic item generation -- as in creating magic items not listing pre-fab items
  • spell generation -- ditto
  • monster generation -- a la DCC RPG.
Though of course potential DMG authors should not limit their table-generating activities to this small sample.

Adventure narratives.
Every now and then you're going to want to write up an example of your game in action. The best way of doing this is a cool adventure narrative written up in easily digestible screenplay format, not as paragraphs of undifferentiated text.  And they must be entertaining. Throw in a little table chatter among the sample PCs for good measure. 

DM: As you round the corner your torchlight reveals a generic dungeon corridor, 10' wide and high, with a poorly mortared flagstone floor continuing off into the darkness. Same marching order?
Gamer 1: Yes, Guthouse Barrelboy and Buttout the were-elf are in front with Blotto the monk and Bluetooth the wizard taking up the rear.
Gamer 2: [sotto voce] Just the way they like it.
DM: None of that, now. How do you proceed?
Guthouse Barrelboy: I tap the floor with my 10' pole.
Gamer 2: More like 10 inches.
DM: If that's a dick joke you might want to reconsider it. Gutboy, you tap around the floor, nothing happens.What next?
Buttout: I walk down the hall.
DM: You make it about 20 feet before you step on a flagstone that sinks slightly into the floor.
Buttout: Oops. Sorry gang.
DM: A fusillade of arrows comes whizzing at the party from behind. Everyone in the back row save vs. traps.
Bluetooth: Buttout you asshole, if you kill my character I'm gonna' -- 17! Nice!
Blotto:  Fuck. I rolled a 2.
DM: Well done Bluetooth, you take no damage but Blotto, [Rolling dice] two arrows rip into your hindquarters--shut up Gamer 2--for... Oh dear, 11 points of damage.
Blotto: Cocksuckitall. I only had 8 hit points.
DM: Roll a save vs. rolling-up-a-new-character at -3.
Blotto: grumble grumble. I got a ... 20! Sweet Nelly, I'm alive!
DM: [Sighing] Blotto the monk is not quite dead, but he is incapacitated. Do the rest of you want to waste your healing on him so soon in the dungeon or would you rather go on without him?
Blotto: C'mon DM, what the hell did I ever do to you?
DM: You rolled up a monk, that's what you did. What kind of A-hole plays a friggin' monk?

and so forth.

Sample Dungeons
As with tables, the more of these the merrier. Preferably they're short and sweet with, say, 20 encounters or so, maybe 4 or 5 pages of text and a map taking up ~half a page. Also awesome if you can drop just enough background info--name a nearby tavern or town for PC use, an intriguing NPC or two--to allow the DM to use it as the basis for creating his own setting. Or, if you're feeling particularly crafty, surreptitiously link it to a module you're publishing concurrently.

And some things that doesn't make for a good DMG:

Essays, treatises and manifestos
Let's face it, longwinded essays in RPG rulebooks are the equivalent of a comb-over for game designers futilely attempting to hide their lack of table-creation skills. Sure Gygax included some verbose essays in the original DMG but he gets a pass for a few reasons:
  1. back in '79 DMing was a fairly new occupation, one which he'd been doing for longer than anyone... who wasn't Dave Arneson.
  2. there was no internet, and therefore new gamers could not fall back on the accumulated wisdom of 721,846 bloggers to figure out how to run a campaign. 
  3. he's Gary Gygax.  
Nowadays, game designer folk need to stop pretending that their off-brand RPG is going to be anyone's first entree into the genre.  Even if, by some tragedy of fate, your tome does wind up providing the medium for some poor slob's induction into advanced geekdom everyone who can buy a book can navigate the internet; direct those interested in your bizarre take on world creation (Rivers flow toward the equator(?) because of gravity(??)) to your freakin' blog and make with the tables already.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Quag Keep Addendum

Commentor Mark pointed out that I failed to mention items regarding Loice in the good ol' Quag Keep Companion, which inspired me to have another sift through Norton's tome in search of other goodies that I failed to mention. I'll add these to the actual Companion, but thought I'd draw attention to them here for those Quag Heep completists out there. Without further yada...

Brethern [sic] A band of mercenary-adventurers responsible for armed incursion into some of the most notorious regions of LoG in search of legendary treasure hoards.

Standard of King Everon Banner of the aforementioned monarch, last king of Troilan. Under this banner, Everon led his people against an invasion but was overwhelmed and met his end on the field of battle. At his death, the land of Troilan sank into a mire into which his banner was lost. Just as the meadows of Troilan sank into a dismal swamp, its people morphed into a lizardlike breed which holds drylanders with contempt. This item was captured by a group known as the "Brethern" [sic].

Loice, Mirror of This artifact of the great queen Loice is a flat stone of a shimmery, reflective rock that is said to have mystical properties. As with the Standard of King Everon, it is said to be lost in Troilan Swamp, though a group of mercenary adventurers known as the Brethern [sic] has claimed to have acquired it in recent years.

Loice, Spectre of The ghostly embodiment of Loice, legendary queen of Troilan who reigned over the land before it sunk into a swamp, the spectre is said to rise from the mire and command its denizens in defence of her soggy domain should it be threatened by outsiders. (#)

Wild Coast Stretch of shoreline above which Lichis the Golden and Ironnose fought for a time before plummeting into the sea. See Harrowing of Ironnose. (#) It is noted for its wildness.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

d12 Underwhelming Magic Items

  1. Hobnailed Boots of Hiking
  2. Multiple Medallions of Machismo
  3. Deck of Several Things
  4. Libram of Illegible Instructions
  5. Lyre of Dissonant Jamming
  6. Manual of OSHA Dungeon Safety Standards
  7. Maul of America
  8. Ice Skates of Single Lutzing
  9. Mirror of Withering Judgment
  10. Incense of Hemp Concealing
  11. Neosporin's Ointment of Antibioticness