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On Gygax Design II

Hack & Slash - Thu, 11/11/2021 - 02:30
Let's look at the background section of the adventures B2: Keep on the Borderlands, and Return to the Keep on the Borderlands. Part I of this article is here.


Keep on the Borderlands has a four paragraph background, and a two paragraph starting encounter. The expectation is that the background is read aloud. 



The Realm of mankind is narrow and constricted. Always the forces of Chaos press upon its borders, seeking to enslave its populace, rape its riches, and steal its treasures. If it were not for a stout few, many in the Realm would indeed fall prey to the evil which surrounds them. Yet, there are always certain exceptional and brave members of humanity, as well as similar individuals among its allies - dwarves, elves, and halflings - who rise above the common level and join battle to stave off the darkness which would otherwise overwhelm the land. 
I mean, he wrote it as if it pulsed fire in his heart.

The starting scene is particularly appropriate because it instructs the players to introduce themselves to the gatekeeper, and thus the other players.

What follows is six pages detailing the keep itself. We're going to talk about this in a minute.

The Return to the Keep on the Borderlands has a five paragraph introduction, and a two paragraph starting encounter.

But wait? What chicanery is this?!

The introduction is not to be read to the players and contains ancient history. What's more it's dull. No, really. I'll—just look:

Such, at any rate, was his plan. In the event, Macsen found that retirement agreed with him. He devoted all his time to managing the affairs of the garrison and the Keep, . . . Fortunately Macsen had chosen his castellan well. Devereau was a faithful henchmen, an archer who only remained behind because of a crippling wound received in an early adventure. . . Today it is a small but thriving community once more, less populous than of old but warded by people who have invested years of hard work making this into their home and been willing to defend it to the bitter end. That's how it ends. That's the call to adventure. Let me sum up.

Once a dude got a keep, and it was too much effort to dick around with assholes in the woods. And so other people did it, and then all the monsters were dead. Then he went off and died in war, and the rest of the people stayed and now they are strong and happy.

Two paragraphs on a dude that's dead. Story that's both boring and not accessible to players of the game, and the call to adventure is "It's a safe, nice place."

The starter encounter has a paragraph of read aloud text as you approach the keep, and you are hailed by a guard. The boxed text makes no horrible affronts, only slightly telling the players what they feel or do. Then there are eleven pages detailing the keep.

So Much of the KeepWhy do we care about the keep? What can we learn about the way it's presented in the module? What's in those six pages?

Amazingly, it's very gamified. Each section of the keep is a tool to drive the adventure. Gygax meticulously details the arms, armaments, and tactics of people in the keep in addition to documenting the location of every loose copper piece.

What's noticeable is the expectation that the interior of the keep will be explored as a dungeon environment. The players walk in, and then walk around to all the different places. Let's look at some of the gamification of the environment:

1. Main Gate: "Two men-at-arms. . . require that persons entering the keep put their weapons away and then escort them to area 3."
3. Entry Yard: "All entrants, save those of the garrison will be required to dismount and stable their animals (area 4). The Corporal of the Watch is here [and] is rather grouchy, with a low charisma, but he admires outspoken brave fighters and is easily taken in by a pretty girl."He doesn't have a name, but he gets a personality. Further:
Map by Dyson Logos3. Entry Yard: Cont. "A scribe. . . records the name of each person who enters or leaves. . . Lackeys will come to take mounts or mules. Any goods not carried will be stored in the warehouse. Another lacky will then show travelers to the Traveler's Inn."
This connects directly to the entrance scene, informs characters of the stables, that there's goods in the warehouse, and then walks them over to the inn. Which is at area 15. If you're using the map, this walks the characters directly past every other interesting player facing building on the map. To wit:

They walk south past the stables and warehouse, directly towards the bailiff tower (at 6), then west directly past the smithy/armory (at 8) and the provisioner and trader (at 9-10) and the fortified loan office on the south wall (at 11).

By the time they've reached the tavern, they've been exposed to everything there is interesting to do in town for a new adventure, but it doesn't stop there.

Areas marked 7 on the map are private apartments, and Gygax provides two. A jeweler who will exchange gems and money for the characters, and a priest who is willing to assist the party in the caves (but spoilers secretly is chaotic and will attack the party—I've killed more than one player who came to the priest for aid and got a cause wounds for their trouble.)

The apartments (and their many empty partners) are set up for the Dungeon Master to introduce characters of their own. Though this is not explicit, the introduction does say "Special quarters are available for well-to-do families, rich merchants, guild masters, and the like."

How do we know that the information that's listed here is deliberate and not just something compulsive Gygax did because he was an insurance actuary? Because of what he leaves out. He does not detail the normal family members of the personages of the keep.
"The five small apartments along the south wall are occupied by families of persons dwelling within the Outer Bailey of the KEEP."This is the only sentence addressing what Gygax felt were non-game entities. They aren't described, given treasure, etc. because they aren't likely to be involved in gameplay. The smithy's grandmama isn't going to need combat stats, and the players aren't likely to interact with a house full of women and children, so those "apartments . . . are occupied" is all the text that is given.

This deliberate presentation of some things and not others is designed for what the Dungeon Master needs in play. What if the keep is attacked? What if the players attack the keep or try to steal things? Well, that information is there for those Dungeon Masters. The contents of the bank and warehouse are documented. 

Can you figure out why? I can. Because I've played Dungeons and Dragons before.

Where is there to go in this keep? What can the players do? Those questions are also answered in the text, in a very sort of computer game, pick the smithy menu, here's some information about that encounter.

What's in the northern half of the outer bailey—you know, the part the characters don't walk past on the way to the tavern—is unsurprisingly the things the characters will need after their first foray out into the wilds. 16 is the guild house for travellers, 17 the chapel for priests and healing, and most importantly, the gate to the inner keep, which you can only gain access to after you have accomplished deeds in the caves.

You can't go home againIn Return to the Keep on the Borderlands, the map remains very similar (with one or two new tricks). The guard challenge is repeated and they are met at the gate by a named non-player character, Sabine the Gatekeeper who directs them  to the stable, warehouse, marketplace, and inn/tavern. Everyone in the sequel is given names ("The second floor houses. . . Laurl, Charl, Wort, and Joop.")

Each home in the sequel has details of their occupants, no statistics, just a story about what type of person they are.
"A quiet man who keeps mostly to himself, Reece. . . has since married a local woman (Asgrim, a young widow whose first husband marched off to the battlefield while they were still newlyweds, never to return). They have a three year old son, Decius, and a year-old daughter, Nadya."I don't see how the above is accessible or useful to play. He's a cobbler. When will the players intersect with this information? Why is it detailed? 7f details three sisters who are milkmaids and their schedules throughout the day, but should I references 7f which I'm deciding who's in an area?

Each paragraph is giving me a little character story or vignette. . . and no tools to integrate it with what's actually going to be happening at the table. The presentation is convoluted bullshit with zero effort given into what I'm supposed to do with that information.

It gets worse. The players can't buy anything at the smithy "Rafe can make horseshoes, nails, and bits with ease, but weaponsmithing and armor-forging are beyond him." followed by this useful gem that can in no way impact our game, "The keep once had a resident weaponsmith in Mascens day who kept the garrison supplied."

!?

Let's play a game. In what world where you have sat down with your friends to play Dungeons & Dragons is the following information useful?

"Beasley's daughter, Calista, divides chores and responsibilities with her husband."

"Most folks only stay here for a few days, but some stay for extended periods."

There's literally thousands of words detailing small family relationships, who's married to who, local town politics, organized only by building title:"Guild House" under which you find, Greeves and Peta who are the grandparents of Jess who is in the one-eyed cat.

Is the adventure about small town drama? If it is, why is it so poorly organized? How would I keep this web of stories and relationships straight without re-writing everything?

Every entry in the original adventure contained information that I might need. And it did so in the correct place. Anything else, it left me to create and keep track of (such as the large number of un-named guards and people)

There are some bright spots. Even though entirely too many words are used, there are an entertaining collection of colorful characters that the players can collect as henchmen. There's no indication of where they are located in the keep next to their stats, but: Third, a warrior who wears a bronze mask all the time, Brother Martin, a fair cleric who makes sure that everyone provides input (even shy people), Opal, a neutral moon cleric who's Lawful-Chaotic alignment axis changes with the moon. A clever but loony mage, a manipulative necromancer who just wants to find a way to worship at the hidden temple, and a cowardly thief.

Then there are three keep encounters, one keyed to happen after the first three times the characters return to the keep.

If the intent was to detail family relationships, following the form of Gygax is the worst way to organize it. Even though the original module has six pages devoted to the keep, it just feels like six pages of tools for the Dungeon Master to respond to players ideas and successes. Whereas the house descriptions in the sequel are devoid of any mechanical information.

I can see how you could interject some of this drama into the lives of the player characters, but I want to be clear. The text provides no tools to assist with using this information in play, besides creating the unexciting situations: A ward falls in love with her step-father, or how the twenty some-odd members of the Lum clan make up most of the militia. etc. What's more is that the format actively works against this.

I can run the keep with a single pass over Gygax's text. I couldn't even understand the second adventure unless I spend the time to reorganize all the information it gives me.

Next time, we'll look at the wilderness and cave encounters proper.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On Gygax Design I

Hack & Slash - Thu, 11/11/2021 - 02:00
It's unspoken in the rulebooks all over the place.

You are just supposed to know certain things from the culture of wargaming. But it blew up way past that microculture.

The immediate casualty was the adventure. This has been my focus now for over a year. What went wrong? Why are the modules Gygax wrote good, while others that ape the style are so bad?

Keep on the BorderlandsLet's just start with the introductions. 
"You are not entering this world in the usual manner, for you are setting forth to be a Dungeon Master. Certainly there are stout fighters, mighty magic-users, wily thieves, and courageous clerics who will make their mark in the magical lands of D&D adventure. You, however, are above even the greatest of these, for as DM you are to become the Shaper of the Cosmos. It is you who will give form and content to all the universe. You will breathe life into the stillness, giving meaning and purpose to all the actions which are to follow. The others in your group will assume the roles of individuals and play their parts, but each can only perform within the bounds you will set. It is now up to you to create a magical realm filled with danger, mystery, and excitement, complete with countless challenges. Though your role is the greatest, it is also the most difficult. You must now prepare to become all things to all people."-Gary Gygax, "Keep on the Borderlands"
Let's see.
"You are not entering this world in the usual manner" is literal. He presents this powerfully as descending not only personally into the realm of fantasy, but the, and I quote, "become[ing] the Shaper of the Cosmos. It is you who will give form and content to all the universe."
Heady stuff. 
Let's look at the introduction of Return to Keep on the Borderlands by John D. Rateliff 1999, at the tail end of the dark ages of Dungeons & Dragons:
"Return to the Keep is an update of the classic adventure, detailing what has happened in the Caves of Chaos and the Keep itself in the two decades since brave adventurers cleaned out the monsters and departed for other challenges. The rules have been fully updated. . ., encounters have been fleshed out, and the section of advice to inexperienced Dungeon Masters expanded and rewritten. In the main, however, Keep on the Borderland remains what it has always been: A series of short adventures, distinct enough that player characters can catch their breath between each section, that smoothly segue together. Altogether, this adventure gives novice players and characters a chance to learn the ropes without getting in over their heads; characters who survive will have learned the basic tricks of their trade, just as players and Dungeon Masters will know the basics of good gaming."
What the f$% happened here? Do you see this shit? Apologies to Rateliff, but I try to edit my blog posts better then this introduction. There's just extra, redundant, words in excess of the words that are needed, for some reason that's a reason there's extra words for a reason. Right? 
"A series of short adventures." is the short description of "Adventures distinct enough that player characters can catch their breath between each section". How about "In the main, however". What purpose does that equivocation serve?
An example from one of the worst printed module of all time, N2, The Forest Oracle. Although terrible, it's common in quality to the vast majority of material on RPGnow and DM's Guild. But I'd rather not punch down on amature creator, so consider this a stand in for the type of dross you find on onebookshelf. 
"The Forest Oracle is an AD&D module for levels 2-4. It is an independent adventure, and not part of a series. It can be integrated into any existing campaign or played as a separate adventure to help initiate players into the world of AD&D." -Carl Smith Forest OracleEvery single word of the above introduction is patently obvious. The level range is on the cover. You can integrate any adventure into an existing campaign or play it as a separate adventure.  This is literal wasted space. Compare with original borderlands text.

The point I'm driving at here, is Gygax used every word of the introduction to drive home a mind-blowing idea, the introduction was copied for the sequel by a writer who writes as if he gets paid by the word, and the worst adventure writers don't even understand the point of the introduction so they just say truistic generic comments. "This is a module." or one of my personal favorites "This module is for X level characters, but you can run it with higher or lower characters if you increase or decrease the difficulty."

No shit?

Why did I pay? How does this help me? What does this do for me?

Dungeon Master TextThis text varies between each individual module.

Let's look at the original keep:
This module is another tool. It is a scenario or setting which will help you to understand the fine art of being a Dungeon Master as you introduce your group of players to your own fantasy world, your interpretation of the many worlds of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Adventure. THE KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS is simply offered for your use as a way to move smoothly and rapidly into your own special continuing adventures or campaigns. Read the module thoroughly; you will notice that the details are left in your hands. This allows you to personalize the scenario, and suit it to what you and your players will find most enjoyable.Which commits the sin of being obvious, but considering the dearth of modules at the time, this was good advice then. Is the pass I'm giving the above text unfair?

The DM should be careful to give the player characters a reasonable chance to survive.Hopefully, they will quickly learn that the monsters here will work together and attack intelligently, if able. If this lesson is not learned, all that can be done is to allow the chips to fall where they may. Dead characters cannot be brought back to life here! Then, Gygax lines out his conception of Dungeons & Dragons:
The KEEP is a microcosm, a world in miniature. Within its walls your players will find what is basically a small village with a social order, and will meet opponents of a sort. Outside lies the way to the Caves of Chaos where monsters abound. As you build the campaign setting, you can use this module as a guide. Humankind and its allies have established strongholds—whether fortresses or organized countries—where the players’ characters will base themselves, interact with the society, and occasionally encounter foes of one sort or another. Surrounding these strongholds are lands which may be hostile to the bold adventurers. Perhaps there are areas of wilderness filled with dangerous creatures, or maybe the neighboring area is a land where chaos and evil rule (for wilderness adventures, see DUNGEONS & DRAGONS@ EXPERT SET). There are natural obstacles to consider, such as mountains, marshes, deserts, and seas. There can also be magical barriers, protections, and portals. Anything you can imagine could be part of your world if you so desire. The challenge to your imagination is to make a world which will bring the ultimate in fabulous and fantastic adventure to your players. A world which they may believe in.He is a priest, his sermon dense with meaning. Note particularly "will meet opponents of a sort" and "hostile foes of one sort or another".

Jeff Dee's art is a treasureThis is the first module, a teaching module, the first time many of these things had ever been seen. Yet the form of treating it as the first-ish publication anyone may ever see, is not something that other and later modules needed to copy. A lot of the text in the original B2 is almost an errata—a detailed description of procedures in play for lost or confused Dungeon Masters. Other then a few pointed notes, I'm going to excise this from the analysis, due to the singular artifact of "being first".  A rules addendum is tangential to our examination of Gygax's content versus the imitators of form.

Of particular note:
To defeat monsters and overcome problems, the DM must be a dispenser of information. Again, he or she must be fair - telling the party what it can see, but not what it cannot. Questions will be asked by players, either of the DM or of some character the party has encountered, and the DM must decide what to say. Information should never be given away that the characters have not found out - secret doors may be missed, treasure or magic items overlooked, or the wrong question asked of a townsperson. The players must be allowed to make their own choices. Therefore, it is important that the DM give accurate information, but the choice of action is the players’ decision.It's bolded like that in the original text.

In Return to the Keep on the Borderlands, the text and advice is largely similar and fascinating. Perhaps Ratcliffe was just warming up earlier and needed a sharper editor for that paragraph. I'd like to quote  things that indicate people carried true knowledge always with them, even as those who claimed to be kings had lost that knowledge. To wit:
"Boxed text can either be read out loud by the Dungeon Master, or simply paraphrased in his or her own words. Paraphrasing is often preferred by experienced Dungeon Masters. . ." "Players have a habit of doing the unexpected; resist the temptation to force them to follow a particular track." "For purposes of this adventure, the Dungeon Master is strongly urged to use the optional rule that grants experience points for treasure (at the rate of 1 XP per 1 gp value); this sends the message to the players that there are a multitude of right approaches to take (combat, stealth, negotiation), not a single preferred method of play."This was in 1999, before the release of 3rd edition, where traditional games of Dungeons & Dragons and Vampire were advising Dungeon Masters to invalidate their players choices, and modules consisted of badly constructed railroads of the sort a grade schooler might create. In the darkest moment the hobby of Dungeons & Dragons has experienced, light still shone.

Next time we're going to look at the background section of the adventures and dig into things both nitty and gritty.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Updated Dragon's Foot OSR Free Adventure - LG1: Terror in the Forest of Gizzick By Claude M. LeBrun For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 11/10/2021 - 22:24
 GRAB IT RIGHT HEREGood evening kids, your uncle Eric is back with another bit of commentary this time we go back to Dragon's foot for a free adventure download with lots of potential. I'm speaking of LG1: Terror in the Forest of Gizzick By Claude M. LeBrun. This is a free fifteen page AD&D 1st edition style adventure that takes full advantage of its PC levels right out of the gate. There is an Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hulks & Horrors Redux - Some Thoughts on Space Dungeons - Adventurer, Conqueror, King's Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu (BCK), Colonial Troopers, & Colonial Troopers Knight Hawks

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 11/10/2021 - 20:23
 So  last night after getting back from our Neon Lords of the Wastelands game we had after the game talked about space dungeons & the guys mentioned the Hulks & Horrors rpg. And why I'm I bringing this game up yet again?! Well because of the fact that it has some of the best OSR tools for creating massive space dungeons & hazards randomly.  H&H is  all about 'Dungeon Crawling or more Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Daughter of the Dead King

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 11/10/2021 - 12:11
By Jesse Davenport & Matthew Neff The Strange Domain OSR Level 1?

Evil has descended on the sinking village of Myre. As deaths and disappearances increase, whispers of demon possession spread and townsfolk eye their neighbors with growing fear. At the heart of this nightmare is a mysterious young woman, desperate to dispatch this evil before it is too late. Will you be the saviors of Myre, or just more bodies lost in the bog?

This 36 page adventure is going for a creepy/spooky vibe as it describes a few NPC locations in town and a swamp and abandoned city. It’s abstracted content, for the most part, but it generally works … if you’re in to that sort of thing. I think it could use more structure and be longer.

This is a rough one to describe. It has content, and that content tends to the evocative side of the spectrum, but it’s structure is more story gamey … without going fully over that side of the game/not-game line. 

You’re on your way to town when you have an encounter with a spooky ghost lady, pointing to the town. It’s described well, in that it lends to a spooky vibe. Coming to the town you see a funeral procession being led by a young acolyte. Turns out its the high priestess … the same one that sent a letter to the baron asking for help, which got the party involved. Asking around town or talking to the acolyte gets you the same info: a demon haunts the village and someone is dying each night. Seems each night someone gets possessed and tries to kill the acolyte. She tells you its a demon and she can put it to rest if prayers are said in the old church in the city in the swamp. You could also learn that and old hermit, in a different swamp, has a spirit box that can put the demon to rest. There are a few NPC’s (miller, shopkeep, merchant, mayor, blacksmith, innkeep) but, it’s pretty likely that the players just talk to the acolyte, I suspect. 

You go through the swamp, having a number of random encounters, and then enter the lost city, which is also abstracted in to a couple of random encounters. 

These encounters probably make up the bulk of the adventure. It’s of the “roll x times and/or have six encounters and then you find the destination you were looking for” sort of mechanic. And this is, primarily, why I say that this leans heavily to the story game/plot side of the D&D adventure line. It’s not my favorite mechanic as I think it tends to remove the agency from the players. It’s more “ok, time to have an encounter” sort of thing, which gives the party little control. Environmental hazards and creepy non-dangerous things are heavily weighted on the table, so it’s not all combat. 

In the church in the city you find a bunch of dead people, 20, who attack only if you fuck with them, a fresh body on the alter, and a yawning portal behind it to the Upside Down. There you can (or have the acolyte) say some prayers, or use the hermits demon box, or just stab, the evil demon thing. Adventure over.

The demon thing is described as “Only a glimmer, like the shards of a shattered mirror, betray this near invisible death. Its voice is like acid in the ears.”Ok, so, creepy words, for sure. And, probably more than enough to run an evocative encounter. Most of the descriptions are like this, hinting rather than saying. I don’t hate the descriptions, but I do think they are getting close to that. Essentially, you can take “evocative” too far. This doesn’t do that, but it does get close enough that, combined with the abstracted travel, I start to raise my eyebrows. It never goes fully in to that territory though. 

It’s a pretty short adventure. 

An unusual amount of real estate is spent on the town. The NPC’s, rumors, and someone dying every night. It’s well supported, with a great little “how the villagers react to stress” table, as well as a paranoia mechanic for the villagers as the deaths increase. If they do. Like I said, one death a night and the path forward seems pretty clear to me: talk to the acolyte immediately and go to the church in the lost city in the swamp. It’s not that the village is bad, it’s actually very well supported, especially for an adventure brining the creepy vibe. It’s just not clear to me that it’s going to get much use. A nice snag though for another creepy village you’re running. Who’s not up for an impromptu wedding because of all the grief in the village? 

Items are good also. The hermit has some magic beans (bring on the folklore!) that when you plant them in a corpse grow a vine with weird fruit. That turn out to be healing items. That’s probably the most involved item, but, a broken silver dagger rumored to have slain a werewolf might give you a reason to visit the blacksmith,  and so on. There’s a non-traditional aspect to them that I dig a lot. 

So, creepy vibe. Nice advice to create creepy villagers when they are possessed. Nice village, if no reason to fuck around there. Abstracted randomness, misplaces, on the journey through the swamp and in to the city. (I’ve said this before and will not doubt harp on it in the future: why are you inserting randomness randomly? Just create some fucking encounters, fully fleshed out things, and insert them.) . The backstory is overwrought, takes up too much space, and is essentially irrelevant. 

Short and creepy. Maybe, 2 hours of content? It’s interesting, as a design type. It’s use of abstraction and weirdly descriptive/abstracted text to create a spooky vibe is interesting. Academically interesting. To me. It needs to be tightened up and expanded in to a full adventure.

This is $5 at DriveThru. The preview is the full thing. Yeah! You CAN make an informed decision. I’d check it out, even if you are not interested. Check out the “Grim Tidings” table for the village, or the intro scene with the ghost lady, pages 11 and 13.


https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/375709/Daughter-of-the-Dead-King?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: DC, February 1981 (wk 1 pt 2)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 11/10/2021 - 12:00
My goal: read DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands around November 13, 1980.


G.I. Combat #226: This story has a couple of decent stories. The Kanigher/le Rose "The 6-Minute War" chronicles the harrowing descent and ultimate death in battle of a paratrooper, 6 minutes after his first drop. Wessler and Talaoc tell the story of an American medic who treats the wounds of 3 German soldiers, then takes them captive. When they try to kill him with a grenade, he bats it back at them with his rifle butt and blows them up! O.S.S. by Regan and Carillo continues to be hardcore and grim. A German working for Control volunteers to assassinate Dr. Mencke who killed his wife and child in Auschitz. He purposely gets captured and sent to the camp where he assaults a SS officer and is shot and killed. Mencke catches sight of his extensive tattoos and takes him to his lab to remove his skin for a nice lampshade. The time bomb that started up when his heart stopped beating explodes and kills Mencke during the procedure. While we're on the note of grimness, Wessler and Vicatan present the tale of a deserting GI being chased by his sergeant. His sergeant saves him from some Japanese, then he saves the Sergeant from quicksand when he could have gotten away. Regretfully, the Sergeant takes the deserter back to be shot by firing squad.
The first of the two Haunted Tank yarns also deals with a runaway tank of deserters. These guys have the decency to die in battle after seeing their error of their ways, though. The second story has the Tank and its crew playing a pivotal role in capturing the bridge at Remagen in March of 1945.

Justice League of America #188: Zatanna's 80s costume designed by Perez has it's co-first appear with New Teen Titans #3 in this issue. Here it is drawn by Heck/McLaughlin. Even though they came out at the same time, I guess this issue is technically the first appearance, since it shows Zatanna debuting it for her teammates. Or one of her teammates; Conway has the Flash is trying to put the moves on Zatanna, and she's conflicted about workplace romance and being the rebound girl, but she's kind of reciprocating. A villain from the Creeper series, Proteus, Man of 1000 Faces, has been defeating the JLA one by one and making them think they are average joes. Zatanna's costume change cues the Flash into the fact something is going on. His suspicions aren't strong enough, though, and he too is replaced, but their are signs the other heroes are coming to the rescue. Proteus wanting JLA duplicates to commit jewel theft hardly seems to be aiming high with all that power.

New Teen Titans #4: I continue to be impressed (or exhausted) by how much Wolfman and Perez put in these issues. We get a little bit more of Raven's backstory here. We find out that she first approached the JLA about helping her against Trigon, but they would because they didn't believe her. They instead want to fight these three wizards she thought were doing the right thing, I guess? Maybe I didn't read it close enough, but I'm a bit confused. Anyway, the Titans fight the JLA not once, but twice. Once because they were give hypnotic suggestions by Psimon, the next time because Raven convinced them they should. In the end, the JLA reveals how much Raven has been manipulating them (for good reasons, she assures them) and now they aren't helping her. The fights with the JLA were well done, and with the backgrounds Perez draws in this magical realm, it really has a "warming up for Crisis" vibe to it.

Secrets of Haunted House #33: "In the Attic Dwells Dark Seth" by Kashdan and Serpe may not be the the best horror story I've read since I started this, but it really feels like the answer to "just what are these horror comics like?" Wealthy and kind of creepy looking Stanley is bringing his new bride (a gold-digger as her thoughts reveal) home to meet the creepy family. Turns out the couple has a baby on the way, and Stanley says the "Professor" expects a perfect baby. His bride doesn't know who the Professor is but when older brother Seth starts howling upstairs she forgets all about that. She's told to leave Seth be and not to disturb him. Naturally, she goes and unlocks the door during the night and Seth, looking like some sort of winged gargoyle, chases her down the hall, until Dad and Mom send him to his room. They explain to their shocked daughter-in-law that they are Satanists. They were supposed to get Satan's perfect child, but instead got this demonic mutation. They didn't want to sacrifice the kid, so they keep him locked up. Turns out Satan kept at it, though, and her husband is the son Satan always wanted! As her sanity flees, the cringing bride hears how she's going to bear the continuations of the line. 
Wessler and Bingham follow that up with a confusing yarn about a guy the cops think killed his 4 previous wives, but they can't prove it. There fears seem founded, because he clearly seems to be planning to kill his new one. The cops are trying to find a way to stop him, but he's too slick. Until, that is, his new wife brains him with a hammer, killing him like she did his other wives. Kashdan and Wade then present a pointless yarn about a spy sneaking into a Baron's castle and getting vampirized. Finally, Rozakis and Spiegle are back with a Mister E story involving a wealthy man who is being blackmailed by his chauffeur who has a cassette tape of a voodoo ceremony that appears to resurrect the dead. He's threatening to use it to bring the man's brother back to life and get him arrested for insurance fraud (since he's brother's insurance policy was the source of his fortune). Mister E exposes the blackmailers as frauds, and scares them by impersonating a zombie, sending them falling from cliff.

Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes #3: The Legion origins continue, wrapped in the RJ Brande is dying story. We learn that Bouncing Boys costume is not in fact a costume, but the regular clothes he was wearing when he got his powers. Anyway, Saturn Girl spills the beans, revealing that the reason for reviewing the Legion's origins is that one of them is Brande's kid.

Superman #355: "Battle of the Super-Hyper Powers!" by Bates/Swan pits Superman against that Sean Connery lookalike, Vartox. Clark Kent and his tv co-workers are skiing up at Mammoth Mountain, but then Vartox shows up. He came to let Lana know their love can never be because he found a planet that needs a champion, so that takes up pretty much all his time. But all is not as it seems! Vartox believes the people of his new world are playing games with him. They've been manufacturing world-threatening dangers to keep him busy. Superman goes to the world pretending to be a space outlaw, so Vartox can apprehend him and they can work to discover what's going on. Meanwhile, the Tynolans summon dread Noxumbra and plan for Vartox to be a sacrificial hero!
The backup by Newman and Deblo is the first of the "Fabulous World of Krypton" features. It's the story of an ancient member of the Nor family who enlisted the help of aliens in securing leadership of his people, but then led the rebellion when the aliens proved to be untrustworthy. While in exile, he also destroyed a space cloud that threatened Krypton.

World's Finest Comics #267: Burkett and Buckler have Batman and Superman teaming up with the Challengers of the Unknown.  It's a decent team-up yarn with everyone getting something to do as they go after terrorist with the power to effect gravity. Haney/von Eeden switch it up from Green Arrow to give his lady friend a chance to shine. Black Canary saves a Black woman police officer from a mob convinced she killed a man in cold blood. Canary tries to prove the cop's innocence, but not before the officer is kidnapped and put on trial by The Graffiti Gang. With a blind man as her star witness, Canary reveals that the real killer was one of the gang members who was dealing drugs. This story is almost "70s socially relevant" and seems very naïve in 2021, but von Eeden's art is great in it.
The Red Tornado story be DeMatteis and Delbo has RT kidnapped by a macrocephalic T.O. Morrow who has been killing himself with his super-advanced brain and needs a new body. He transfers his mind into RT and then precedes to take over the android's life. The Rozakis/Saviuk Hawkman story has the insectoids that were menacing last issue attacking. At the end, the Hawks prepare to face off with Lord Insectus! Birdwell and Newton get to the culmination of their Monster Society of Evil story with the villains staging an all-out assault on the Rock of Eternity. Captain Marvel calls in Mary Captain Marvel Jr. and the Lieutenant Marvels for the battle. The individual takedowns are clever. This is my favorite story of the issue.

Weird War Tales #96: The cover warns the reader that you "might hate" the cover story by DeMatteis and Spiegle, suggesting perhaps than stories about Vietnam were still considered "edgey" in comics of this era. And this one kind of is, at least for kids. It's 1967, and Marty Voight, hippie, is drafted. He's injured when a buddy is blown up by a mine, and he becomes convinced that some energy in the Viet Cong device got into him and is mutating him. He's also using heroin, and starts using more to deal with the pain in his shoulders. His response to being forced to participate in atrocities and seeing friends die is more heroin. He hallucinates his friends back home and the girlfriend that left him as he stumbles through the streets of Saigon. Finally, the mutation is complete and he sprouts wings, at least in his mind. He jumps from a helicopter, to his death. "It was the drugs," one soldier opines, but another doesn't seem so sure it was only the drugs. I think this may be the strongest story since I've been reading this title.
The rest is a let down Kasdan and Rubeny deliver a short yarn about a tulip field in Holland that subsumes German and American combatants to keep things peaceful. Kashdan and Henson reveal the futuristic late 1990s where the ultimate weapon has been developed, but it will inadvertently destroy the entire solar system, so a soldier colludes with an alien to cripple it.  The final story isn't particularly a Weird War Tale, but Kanigher and Vicatan have a racist U.S. soldier getting a supernatural comeuppance after abusing the locals in 1899 in China.

Wonder Woman #277: Staking out the funeral of Priscilla Rich (Cheetah I) Wonder Woman has her first run in with a Kobra goon. Conway really doesn't portray Wonder Woman as having super-strength most of the time--or at least only minor super-strength. It turns out Kobra has infiltrated the military and draws her into a trap at Carlsbad Caverns. Meanwhile, the plans for the "ultimate dirty bomb," Cobalt 93, have been stolen. Wonder Woman finds them in the caverns in the hands of Kobra. 
The backup story by Levitz and Staton brings the Huntress/Power Girl story to a close. The DA (who now knows Huntress' identity) reveals the Thinkers plot. Power Girl is briefly in the Thinker's control, but our heroes rally, and the Thinker's helmet gets smashed.

Crusade of the Sand Bros - Neon Lord of the Toxic Wastelands Combined With Venger Satanis's Cha'alt - Session Report #4

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 11/09/2021 - 23:13
 The events on Cha'alt have kicked things into high gear as the galactic federation have gotten wind of the PC's capturing a Elysium sand harvester last game. They making off with the contents! This has gotten back to the owners of the sand harvester! And they want the party's heads on pikes! Meanwhile the party is back in the city of A'agrybah trying to get a handle on the 'cosmic coke ninja' Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Dust Up In The Cloud Giants Market - - ACK's Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu & Colonial Troopers Knight Hawks rpg - Session report Two

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 11/09/2021 - 18:41
 There's something about the Terran Empire in Adventurer.Conqueror, King's  Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu™ (BCK). The more I read the less I like them, why?! Because the Terran Empire are lying interlopers  from another plane of existence & they're fleeing something nasty. But the Terrans are there to explore, exploit, & connive the Hell out of the players PC's.  The Terran Fleet is something Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Review & OSR Commentary On 'Artificial: Robots in Clement Sector' By Michael Johnson For The Clement Sector(Cepheus Engine rpg) or Old School 2d6 Science Fiction RPG's

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 11/09/2021 - 02:11
 "Designed to excel!Robots are a common sight in Clement Sector.  They are often seen taking on not only the jobs that humans, altrants, and uplifts cannot do but also the jobs where biological lifeforms are unwanted.  Often seen as tools and machines rather than entities, few care if you endanger the existence of a robot.Artificial: Robots in Clement Sector provides you with a detailed design Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Old Hrolmar Free Stormbringer 5th Edition Campaign City Pdf

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 11/08/2021 - 21:49
Old Hrolmar by Richard WattsThe last of Chaosium’s published monographs, Old Hrolmar explores the Vilmarian city of the same name,  and details how the home of Duke Avan Astran represents a bastion of change throughout of the Young Kingdoms.  This monograph includes information on the city, its inhabitants and its future in a world doomed for destruction.I've been raiding Stormbringerrpg.com for Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

All Things Zombie End of Days Coming to Kickstarter

Two Hour Wargames - Mon, 11/08/2021 - 20:29

 This month or next month. Gamers change, rules change. Still THE Zombie game.

ATZ

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Haunting of the Inn

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 11/08/2021 - 12:11

By Don MacVittie
Hellebarde Games
C&C, OSRIC, 5e
Levels 4-8

When all you want is a drink at the inn, perhaps a warm bed for the night, of course it has been taken over by unspeakable horrors! If you’re going to get an ale and a room, you’ll have to brave the stench coming from the front door, and figure out what went wrong.

This twelve page adventure uses three pages to describe 24 rooms in an inn. It wants to be body horror. It is, though, just a monster zoo with the usual issues. Inn of Lost Heroes it ain’t. 

I’m in the mood for something new & delightful! Let’s see …  Multiple Mauseritter adventures. Darkmaster adventure. Morg Borg adventure. Surrealist RPG written by an AI … Halloween adventure it is! While I’m not the biggest fan of holiday adventures, halloween gets a special hall pass cause SPOOKY.

What we have here, though, is an absolute fucking mess of an adventure. 

It WANTS to be spooky. It WANTS to be atmospheric. It WANTS to be body horror. But it doesn’t do anything to facilitate any of that beyond the basic aspects of “oh, look, a gibbering mouther!”

The first issue is the town itself. There isn’t one. There’s no real hook, or town, or anything. And that’s ok, not every adventure needs a town or a town element. But what there is are little bits of the town, scattered throughout, in the various “marketing blurbs.”  The DriveThru description is quoted above. The front cover description has the staff & patrons turned in to horrifying monsters … and the locals only caring that all the ale comes form the inn, so, you know … could you please? The first page has different teaser line from the town, and a little bit of “shutters baning and miasma smells coming out of the front door” thing. Then the first real page of the adventure has a fog rolling out of the doors and more rotting meat miasma. There’s a further line deep in about what everyone in town knows. The BACK cover blurb has the constable saying things like people that go in don’t come out. Get it? It’s all scattered, not in one place, no way to reference it in a meaningful way during play. So, there kind of IS a town element, but no way to get anything out of it. 

And the map. Ug, the map. There is only one set of doors, I guess, in to the inn. And no windows on the first floor, even though the text references there are some? But the second floor is showing explicitly? And no real interior doors on the first floor? Just walls? The map here is “color” and I’m guessing comes from some app. Better to have an actual functional map, in black & white or even hand drawn, than a color map with features … that you can’t make or use.

Let’s see, inside the inn you get to make, if you are playing non-5e, a Save vs magic EVERY TURN or turn in to a monster. You need to miss two to complete the transformation. EVERY TURN. A save vs magic. Fuck me man! Clearly, someone doesn’t play old school and this is just a bad conversion attempt. 

And then the atmosphere. Or lack thereof. We get one line, one sentence, that says “Be atmospheric. The rhythmic chopping coming from the kitchen, the squeak of rats from the nursery, the claws scraping wood coming from the common room” That’s it. A well written adventure would have supported the DM in this regard. Noted this in each room, or in the previous room. Stuck in atmospheric details in the various rooms. Summarized them on a chart. SOMETHING. Nope. One line telling you to do it. Well, no shit. 

And then there’s the body horror. Or lack thereof. The people in the inn are supposed to have been turned in to horrible monsters. Grey Ooze, Cubes, gibbering mouther, zombies, and some other stuff. Mostly bestial and/or abominations. But you don’t actually get anything to support the body horror aspect. “Frank was turned in to a gibbering mouther” is about as much as you get. No description at all. Nothing to support the horror. What happens, then, is thar the entire place just feels like am monster zoo. Go in a room. Fight monster. Go in another room. Fight a different weird monster. 

And the rooms, proper, don’t get any support either. There’s no horror, or destruction in them. There are hardly any descriptions. An occasional “this room is destroyed” comment, but that’s it. Nothing to support the horror, or body horror. 

But what there is has a lot of … backstory! “Servant Bunkroom: This is where the servants normally sleep. They were all working hard when the trouble started, but three ran back into here when all the chaos broke out. As they ran, they transformed into Zombies.” So, that could be shortened to “Servant Bunkroom: 3 Zombies.” Everything else is padding. Instead of padding it could be a description of the zombies, or of the room, or SOMETHING to support the actual play of the adventure. And room after room after room does this. A boring description full of backstory not supporting the horror elements of the game. 

You  can’t just say that there’s a gibbering mouther in a room and call that horror. You can’t just say “create a spooky vibe.” Of course you should be doing these things. It’s the job of the designer to help the DM pull it off. 

This is $2 at DriveThru. There is no preview.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/371815/The-Haunting-of-the-Inn?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Affairs of Wizards

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 11/08/2021 - 12:00


What is a D&D character to do after they've surpassed all those domain building levels? Epic level campaigns where the monsters are just have more hit points? Walk a path of apotheosis like some out of Mentzer's Masters Rules set?

Both of those are good, but they could also hang out in luxury, go to parties on exotic demiplane, try to one-up their fellow epic levels at every turn. In other words, they could act like the Arch-Magicians in the Rhialto the Marvellous stories by Jack Vance.

I feel like the hero/quasi-deities of Greyhawk are ripe for this treatment (see Mordenkainen's magical prep of what must be an epic sandwich in the image above), but Elminster seems like this sort of guy as well. I don't mean to suggest they would never go on something resembling a traditional adventure (Vance's "Morreion" is good inspiration, here.), but the main challenge for these demigods is out doing other beings of power. Sure you could kill Asmodeus, but wouldn't it be more civilized and rewarding to humiliate him in front of his infernal peers?

Nightshift Veterans of the Supernatural Wars by Jason Vey & Tim Brannan Rpg & B3 'Palace of the Silver Princess' By Jean Wells & Tom Moldvay OSR Campaign Commentary

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 11/08/2021 - 04:03
 B3 'Palace of the Silver Princess' By Jean Wells & Tom Moldvay has an adventure location lost and frozen in time. Now what would happen if this module echoes its circumstances on our modern Earth?! Can you imagine what might happen as B3 Palace of the Silver Princess's  spell weaves its way towards Earth?!  Now let's pick it up with someone possibly one of the player characters being the 'chosenNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
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Review & Commentary 'It Came from the Scriptorium' By Ivan Cantero Muñoz "The Fictionaut" From Stellagemma Publishing For the Barbaric rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 11/07/2021 - 18:18
 "Dark times has fallen upon the Storm Wolf Tribe. Once edible fruits and plants had become poisonous and game that was docile turn into viciously aggressive malformed monstrosities. The source is an abbey used as a vault for dark knowledge way too harmful to be left loose on the world. Something horrible has happened to the kind yet weird monks living in the abbey and it seems to be ancient and Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
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Foot loose In The city of A’agrybah - White Star Galaxy Edition & Cha'alt Session Report #1

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 11/07/2021 - 17:35
  During last night's White Star Galaxy Edition game session  my 1st level pilot Hermes Tralley went up two levels in last night's game as our party confronted a whole nest of galactic scum. Our party are members of the SS Raider a modified Spacelinker salvage ship. We spread out in the city keeping in constant communication because of the criminal nature  of the city. No way were we going to getNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
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Jim Ward on the Why of Chits

Zenopus Archives - Sun, 11/07/2021 - 15:28

The Chit Sheets, Front and Back.
Source: The Dice Collector

Later printings of the Holmes Basic D&D set came with an infamous sheet of chits, pictured above, in place of dice. I myself was one of those kids that received such a set, which only added to my confusion in understanding how the game was placed, despite the instruction sheet included for using the chits. It's long been rumored that the change was due to a dice shortage in face of D&D's popularity, and thus increased need for dice, but former TSR employee recently related (here on FB), how it was actually the result of management decisions by TSR during a time they were developing their own dice:


Young Jim Ward and the Dice Monster

© all rights reserved by James M. Ward 

“Young Jim Ward” was a history teacher in a small rural school when the call came in. I had just finished writing Gods, Demi-gods & Heroes, Deities & Demigods for AD&D, and Metamorphosis Alpha the first science fiction role-playing game. I told Gary Gygax that as soon as he could pay my teacher’s salary of 13,400 dollars I would move back to Elkhorn and join his company. In 1980 he was able to do that and I moved. 

“Young Jim Ward” started out in the sales department as the inventory controller. It was my job to order the boxes and parts for the games and especially the D&D box set. It was selling 100,000 units a month, steady as clock work. One of “young Jim Ward’s” jobs was to make sure the Hong Kong dice came in on time to fill the next batch of 100,000 boxes. It was a responsibility I took very seriously. 

It took exactly six months for 100,000 sets of poly dice to be made, ship from Hong Kong over the water, and be delivered to the boxer in Madison; Patch Press at the time. Naturally, being a careful person “young Jim Ward” ordered the dice two months early so that 100,000 boxes in December had their dice ordered 8 months out. So in May “young Jim Ward” was ordering dice for the December publication and everyone was fine with that. 

I’m proud to say there were some problems with getting things in on time before me. After “young Jim Ward” started, we were never late on getting product out. This included the day Patch Press printed 16 pages of the monster manual pages in the player handbook [sic*] and shipped the 100,000 to our warehouse. 

So one day “young Jim Ward” is doing his job and the vice presidents of the company have a meeting and decide it would be much more cost effective to make our own dice. I had no problem with the concept. I told them my dice schedule and young Jim Ward went back to work. Two months later, the Vice President in charge of getting the dice molds made comes into my office and says I can stop ordering Hong Kong dice. I became very alarmed and asked the question, do we have finished dice molds? His reply was no but he was sure we would have finished molds in a few short weeks. That was why I could stop ordering dice. “Young and diligent Jim Ward” didn’t want to stop ordering dice since there wasn’t a finished dice mold yet. He went to his Vice President and got permission to order the next month’s 100,000 dice. 

Weeks later the other Vice President comes storming into the sales office. “I thought I told you not to order dice,” he shouted. “Do we have a working dice mold?” I asked very meekly even though I wasn’t feeling meek. I had a job to do. “No we don’t, but that doesn’t matter, we will when we need the dice.” He stormed out of the office and I heard the lecture. I was told if a vice president of the company gave me an order I had to do it. I didn’t order the next month’s dice and it almost killed “young Jim Ward” with worry. 

For two months “young Jim Ward” got real sneaky and tracked the progress of the dice mold. On the day we were going to be late if we didn’t have Hong Kong dice “young Jim Ward” sent out a memo detailing the schedule and our need for 100,000 sets of dice. “Young Jim Ward” gave it to all of the vice presidents. An hour later the mold VP brought the memo back to my office and threw it in my face. “We will have dice when we need them. You are not to worry about this matter any more.”

Naturally, “young Jim Ward” started to worry even more. I asked my Vice President if I would send out memos every week (I wanted every day, but held myself in check) on the dice issue. He made me send out one a month. On the day when it would be too late to order dice to get them in December I sent out a memo detailing that fact. All the vice presidents got together and were assured we would have dice. “Young Jim Ward” was ordered not to send out any more memos on the dice. Raw blades of inventory agony transfixed “young Jim Ward’s” body as the weeks went by. Still sneaky, I knew exactly what condition the dice were in that were being made by the mold. I begged my VP to talk to Gary about the matter. He did and Gary went to the dice mold VP and asked to see what type of dice were being made by the new molds. That VP opened his desk to pull out several pieces of what looked like popcorn with numbers on them. Clearly they would not be used for the D&D box set. Gary went to me and told me to order dice and get them as soon as possible. He also told me never to listen to anyone who said not to order dice again. That dice VP got a written reprimand and I got a huge smile on my face. 

For three ugly months we used cardboard counters and a coupon for dice in our box sets. The only people happy about that were the prisoners in jail as they couldn’t get games with dice in them. From then on the dice VP didn’t like me at all and every time I was promoted into another position he would tell my supervisor what a trouble maker I was.


* It was the Dungeon Masters Guide that was misprinted with the pages of the Monster Manual, in what is designated the "Second Alpha" printing here on the Acaeum.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Where Void Knights Fear To Tread - Carcosa, Cha'alt, & White Star - Campaign Session Report

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 11/06/2021 - 17:19
 So I'm taking a break behind the screen to play in someone's else's campaign specifically an adult game of White Star Galaxy edition. So let's talk White Star Galaxy Edition & the fact that DM Steve has been running a White Star game campaign for some time now. And he's been using it with LoFP's Carcosa for many years now. The beleaguered adventurers & the  Star Knights have been trying to keep Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Eye of the Storm

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 11/06/2021 - 11:11
By Joseph Mohr Old School Role Playing OSRIC Levels 3-5

The sleepy little coastal village of Sea Mist has a problem. A ship bringing important goods to the village is overdue. A major storm hit the coast earlier in the week and the village elders wonder weather the ship wrecked on the dangerous rocks nearby. But something far more sinister has occurred.

This eighteen page adventure uses five single-column pages to describe twenty rooms in a wrecked ship. It is lacking anything interesting. It has no joy. It is misery.

An isolated village of a hundred people are waiting on a ship to arrive. It is overdue. Could you go a couple of miles up the coast to find it, pretty please? Why are you in an isolated village? Who knows. Why do you do this? Because that’s D&D tonight. Why haven’t the COASTAL villagers gone two miles up the coast to see? Who knows. Well, no, actually, I do know. Because the designer is lazy.

It’s like there’s no effort at all anymore. A Dyson map. Some public domain art, Single column text done in Word or Google Docs. Monsters? Some mermen, a water spider and a sea lion. Challenges? None, other than combat. Role playing? None. Interactivity? None. The wonder and joy of D&D? None. 

A ship. The top level/deck is empty, but for some subtle signs of combat and a spider. The second level has more signs of combat, a sea lion, and some prisoners who tell you it was … MERMEN! The lower level has twelve mermen, who almost certainly all show up in a pitched battle, leaving the rest of the lower level nothing but a “what loot do we find?” interrogation of the DM. B O R I N G. 

Also, no storm in this. No eye of the storm. Nothing.

“Cargo Doors – When cargo was brought aboard it was dropped through these grated doors
to be brought below. These doors appear to have been forced open by someone as one of
the doors hangs downward.”

That’s a room description. Here’s another:

“A single water spider has decided to make a nest in this cabin. This is the rarer sea water
variety. Although the spider enjoys proximity to water it still needs air to live. It uses this
space as it’s home now but hunts down below on the second level.”

Expanded minimalism. They both say almost nothing at all. The spider entry, for sure, says nothing, while the cargo doors has the signs of being forced. Which, of course, os abstracted text. Don’t say signs of being forced. Describe what the fucking things look like.

But, that would take effort. And effort, clearly, was not involved in this. I dub thee “Rip off” with the honour of receiving the coveted Bryce “You get a 1 out of 10” award,.

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $3. 

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/375267/Eye-of-the-Storm?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Review & OSR Commentary For Wendy's Guide to the Fleets of Earth Sector, Volume 3 By Michael Johnson From Independence Games For The Cepheus Engine rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 11/06/2021 - 02:52
"Incoming intelligence!Ship captains need information about the systems to which they are traveling. These captains depend on Wendy’s Naval Weekly as their primary source of naval fleet information.  It is rare to find a ship captain that doesn’t have Wendy’s Naval Weekly on their handcomps or mindcomps.Wendy’s Guide to the Fleets of Earth Sector Volume 3 is the third entry of a series which willNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
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