Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How (Not) To Play Dungeons & Dragons


Tunnels And Trolls

The Complete Fantasy Game.
I dug out my Tunnels and Trolls book yesterday (although I forgot to put it in the car) and headed off to Miranda, for what proved to be a most enjoyable day of roleplaying. I played a Hobbit called Clegg the Remarkable, alongside another Hobbit, two Fairies, an Elf and a Wizard. Actually we were mostly spellcasters of one sort or other. Ahmen's character was the only human; Deadly Vapours, a ghostly character barely holding onto existence after an unfortunate magical catastrophe in his Wizardly past.

The only Warrior amongst us was Clegg's cousin, Felen. Upon meeting Clegg she informed him that their entire family had died in a fire. Later this story changed to death by falling cows. Or was that flaming cows? Charlie's character Felen turned out to be a pyromaniac, although she had help keeping this under control.

Gathering at The Jasmine Dragon Tea Rooms, this unlikely party had a Jack and the Beanstalk type adventure that involved all manner of fantasy tropes bent and twisted beyond recognition. A thoroughly delightful day, with Mark Thornton at the helm, an excellent gamemaster and a good friend of Ken St. Andre. It turns out Mark (and his son Charlie), write solo adventures for Tunnels and Trolls.

Obviously with that sort of game mastery, it didn't matter that I'd left my rule book behind! Characters were created with a mix of point buy and dice, resulting in a group of characters that were quick and smart but not particularly tough or strong. Due to the party being low on brawn, some player expertise was required throughout the game - light on combat and heavy on exploration and negotiation. Saving throws were used for the few skirmishes but there was very little in the way of toe-to-toe slug matches that you might experience in a game with more frontline muscle.

Memorable moments include the fairies, Marmaduke and Fay, healing the Elf's head wound. The Elf Gohan had fallen badly through a trap door. Marmaduke applied his 'lucky' first aid talent using straw and bandages with almost fatal effect. Fay then used her 'faith' healing ability and brought Gohan back from the brink. Later the brave Felen killed a charging giant chicken. No mean feat for a Hobbit armed only with a knife! Gohan and the Fairies freed the Giant's wife from a life of servitude and domestic violence while my own character found a magic ring (which can animate bones) and talked the Giant into descending the beanstalk for a cup of tea.

After the game I also played some guitar with Ahmen. All and all a great day with some fine folks!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Shark Hunting off Khaghtch'an

Just began Monday by opening a new scene in 'Missing Inaction' - shark hunting. I can see the throwaway line that led to this new avenue to explore giving rise to another dozen paragraphs.

The Friday game saw the cannonballs left undisturbed but the dwarf captain of the barge was forced to turn pirate when the PCs decided to test their strength by taking out the Watch boat when they were stopped for inspection. Not straightaway, true, but it always lurked their as a possibility. A new creature was discovered in the barge's cargo bay - the snook, a large rodent with kangaroo back legs, a leonine head and four arms ending with wicked claws. One PC got the job of 'snook tamer' (and feeder) and has to go into the cage with them once a day. Another PC got the task of cooking a stew for the uruks and ogres making up the crew of Captain Bastart's law boat. Thee players proclaimed it the 'best game ever' so I travelled home at the end of the week tired but well pleased.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Works in Progress

My current project is a huge Khaboom city solo, titled "Missing Inaction" (because you will not have a moment to relax) and I have just received the draft front and back cover from Stan. I know need to write the blurb - a short job compared with getting to the end of the solo (still nowhere in sight after reaching paragraph 1139!).

I have the next chapter of a long-running campaign to GM this afternoon where the players are attempting to deliver a load of cannonballs to a port - they have already broken the axles of one re-inforced wagon and a can see problems with a large hill ahead...

I have the luxury every second Sunday of being one of 8 players in a game played out on a planet called "the World of Laws". The GM is a DM... it is very loosely based on TOG as we have ACs, Hit Points and the like but the players quickly have learned to say 'Luck' instead of 'Wisdom" and although we roll d20 for saving rolls, the rolls are permitted with no reference to a rulebook, only to what makes the game hum. A roll of 1 or 20 represent the extremes of a critical fumble or doubles sixes. There is a veneer of TOG but it has the heart of the Troll :)

All three are works in progress, as are we all :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kickback - a very short satirical solo

It's been a long name but then, when you have nothing to say...

A passing whim made me start this (just paragraph 1) yesterday on Trollhalla. I thought I would continue it but it is not yet finished and I shall only finish it if a jury of my peers returns a guilty verdict. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead-ish is entirely haphazard and you must remember that I am English and as a general rule we are unable to express affection and so mask it by matey digs, understanding full well that everyone else knows we only poke at the ones we love...


You sit at your desk, pouring over the text which long ago began swimming before your weary eyes. Much of it is familiar but there are twists and tweaks, some odd, some perhaps perverse. You know many are counting on you and have backed you with gold. You grit your teeth and battle on. Suddenly, your nose twitches and you sneeze violently. Make a L1 SR on CON. If you make, it is just a very nasty cold - go to bed for 3 months with a hot water bottle (go to 10); if you fail, you put your back out and cannot move a muscle for 6 months... (go to 20)

You lie there helplessly, watched by your cats who come and go through their catflap as they please, while you can only dream of movement, freedom, health and artistic endeavour. After what seems to many as decades rather than days, you rally from your stupor and hear the sound of the doorbell ringing. Make a L1 SR on STR to rise up from you sick bed and greet whoever may be calling. If you make it, you see the smiling face of the Game Designer Fellow, clutching a hastily picked bunch of nestertiums from your neighbour’s window box (go to 19); if you fail, you are unable to summon the inner forces to admit the visitor and so miss out on critical new rule tweaks based on actual gameplay, albeit not universally popular with the guinea pig players – you are feeling well enough to pick up pen again though and begin amending rules which bugged you way back in the day and adding ones which seem to work well in other, more lucrative, games (go to 2).

You begin to receive a large number of anxious emails, both from friends and strangers. Friends are solicitous about your health while the emails from people you don’t know are more concerned with the release date for the magnus opus dependent on your editorial care and your artistic genius. Make a L1 SR on INT. If you make it, you phone a Fellow, the one who is good with graphics and could easily have worked for the United Nations (go to 15); if you fail, you respond to all the emails saying that you are sure you will be better tomorrow and, despite the day job, you reckon things will be back on track by the fall (go to 5).

You tell the PR Fellow that you need more time and he is quick to weigh up the situation, deciding that an aggressive defensive spin is necessary. He floods the website which fans frequent with news of emails that all the Fellows have sent out, beers they have drunk together planning their masterpice and sends little pieces cut from newspaper that can be rearranged to form the word ‘TROLL’ so that the fan base has something new to play with in the meantime. Make a L1 SR on LK. If you make it, this strategy works with most loyal fans but not quite all of them (go to 7); if you fail, the tactic gains no sympathy and rebounds badly, drawing the attention of the ‘Other World Out There’ to the shortfall in delivery against expectations – go to 18.

Your computer beeps at you aggressively – it is stacked to the gunnels with unanswered emails but you can’t get up to type. Your cell phone is full with messages too but you lost your voice yesterday and can only listen – all your Fellows are urging you to have skeleton replacement surgery for the sake of the project. Make a L2 SR on CON. If you make it, you steel yourself against the pain and manage to send an email to the PR Fellow (go to 15); if you fail, the effort reduces you to little more than raspberry jello and you collapse into a catatonic coma (go to 3).

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Beta Rules

I pitched in my dislike of the do over saving rolls for humans. I understand the reasoning but think there is no problem to fix, it is not about balancing out and it just goes against the grain.

As for the 'loss' of negative adds... No big deal, it didn't feature much but here's a hypothetical fight:

Weebo and Norm get into an argument at the county donkey fair and start shoving each other. There is a big pile of donkey droppings and soon this is the aim of each of the shovers - to deposit their adversary on the pile.

They both have adds of 10 for everything - except that Weebo has a STR of only four.

In the Beta Universe, he has a 50/50 chance of winning, That does not seem right! He couldn't punch his way out of a wet paper bag.

In the other Universes (5.5. and 7.5), Weebo would be a pushover, needing to roll a 6 to get any go forward while even with a roll of 1 for bare hands Norm would match his puny fellow donkey lover.

So are these other Universes boring no doubt places? No - because Weebo knows his weakness and goes for stunt attacks, like jamming his thumbs into Norm's eye sockets, and the possibilities are endless.

As they are in Beta-verse... just like to call a spade a spade or a wimp a wimp.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Latest Game and 'Missing' Projects

The latest game we have embarked on deals with what happens at Wizards' School. We have a group of 10 students starting out on their training, hoping to qualify as L1 wizards. So far, they have learnt 'Sparkle' and "Call Flame'. The basis premise is that they do the classroom work in the morning and then try to cast the spell under pressure in the afternoon. I am trying not to Hogwarts-ise it too much...

We play a rule that if a wizard fails the INT SR to cast a spell with a critical fumble, a random spell of that level is cast instead. With only one or two spells known, Professors Faunus (a centaur) and Indus (a satyr) are getting sick of seeing sparkly balls. One student died when Indus made him re-cast Hocus Focus - this called for a Master of the Metabolic Arts to hasten to the classroom to cast Nefarious Necromancy and a Mistress of the Cosmic Arts to hurry to cast Born Again before the N N spell ran out.

Elsewhere in my mental landscape, I am wondering about the well being of Trollzine #8 and the 'Apocolypse In Your Home Town' project, both of which I contributed to last year.

I had a query from the purchaser of a printed 'Arena of Khaboom' (go to Lulu) - what is the difference between being a Champion and a Challenger? Apart from champions getting their CON restored after every contest, the former have to commit to 10 fights, the latter just 3. Must get round to doing the pdf for DriveThru soon...