Courage Mongoloid! Part 2.

It’s been 2 years since our last HORROR ON THE HILL session with the famed Ashtel Lumberton, Snachus Maximus 2, Nerdlinger and Tor Horst (and Ulug and Glug the Mongoloids).  So I bring you, in as little detail as possible to not put you immediately to sleep, part 2 of our sad story of murder, robbery and death.

Mongolioids! have courage!
Mongolioids! have courage!

I want to preface this with the following few statements.  Old School D20 games are not great for combat, focused more on getting through combats fairly quickly and having MORE rather than having few, but meaningful combats (like, say, Runequest) and yet, many of the old school modules involved nearly only combat throughout.    Things have changed since 1981, and while the occurrence and ability in combat is still an important thing in OSR games, in most systems, fighting a lot means you are doing very, very badly and your party is likely to get wiped out.  In many cases in the description of play below, the only way through certain obstacles is to fight through.  This module began to feel like playing Advanced Heroquest and that’s because that’s what it is.  So this is not indicative of what a normal Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventure is like- if indeed there is such a thing.

In addition, unlike 4E, 5E and 13th Age, there is no concept of short or long rests, recoveries or anything like that in LotFP or Labyrinth Lord. Any time heavy damage is dealt to characters, and especially with the brutal healing rules in Lamentations of the Flame Princess, it requires multiple, multiple-week trips back to town to recover from injuries rather than fighting onward deeper into the dungeon.  Remember, unless the characters find a polder, they cannot rest in the dungeon at all.   Since the play is so brutal (most players had multiple characters die), play is naturally conservative, so even the M-U being out of spells may require a trip back to town.  This seemed to frustrate the GM, but what choice do the players have really?  13th Age and 5E added recoveries and rests in to keep it in the dungeon and not back at the tavern after every fight.

Lastly, we were not high enough level for this adventure, and it became painfully obvious!  Now let’s go!

PC’s

  • Snachus Maximus 2: Fighter level 2
  • Ashtel Lumberton: MU (with sleep) level 2
  • Tor Horst: Fighter level 2
  • Nerdlinger: Cleric (bless most of the time) level 1
  • Mcunty Ruffbottom (not his real name): Fighter level 1

NPC’s

  • Lars: linkboy
  • Colon Defiltch: rescued thief
  • Grul and Uleg: rescued Mongoloids
  • Ashtel’s dog (the last one remaining from last session)

Another VERY fighter heavy group, with no Specialists of any kind, we were bound to have problems.  Clerics at level 1 are nearly useless, and MU’s can be based on their random spells.

This was about the third time we hit this dungeon, and it got restocked repeatedly.   Exploring slightly beyond the areas we’d been in before, we found a pile of human bodies with some gibberish hobgoblin words of warning written in blood.  Shortly after a fight with two Bugbears ensued.  Ulug, bravely, took the brunt of the attacks and went down and out before the bugbears were disposed of.  Tor Horst broke his axe.

This took Ulug and Grul out of the story a bit as Grul dragged the limp body of Ulug back to his people.

After a fortuitous secret door check, we found what I feel is one of the most terrible magical items in D&D: the invisibility ring.  The cleric grabbed it and put it on.  Since we didn’t have a specialist and he was level one, no one minded much, but if you want a character to take center stage and do everything, give the adventurers an invisibility ring with no drawbacks at all to use.   It’s pretty much a “I’ll survive the adventure no matter what” card.

After a fight with some glowing birds (?!), we were on to the final fight of this level with the Hobgoblin King, or so we thought.  Using the invisibility, we were able to draw out a barracks of hobgoblins into a fork in the passageway and a massive fight ensued.  Colin the thief was decapitated, Ashtel’s dog was also nearly killed and Snatchus Maximus 2 was dropped to zero HP before Sleep was cast to end the encounter.  We opted not to go on to the now more vulnerable Hobgoblin king fight, instead running back to town to heal– for five full days.

This caused some GM frustration who wanted to get to the next part of the dungeon (it being 2 years and all in the same area).  Given the number of fights this module presents (pretty much constant fighting) you can see why recoveries, short rests and long rests made it into the D&D’s design with 4th Edition and beyond, to try to keep players in the dungeon!  Lamentations has no such niceties, so if you are going to fight fight fight, best to be running multiple characters.

trampier-bugbear

After the rest up, we were back in the dungeon ready to face the Hobgoblin King, who, for simplicity sake, looks like he just waited in his throne room for us.  Rather than rush in and fight, or sneak in and fight, we challenged the Hobking to a duel, which he accepted readily.  He was to fight the first level character: McCunty Ruffbottom.  The plan was that McCunty was to fire off his brace of pistols, then we would all rush in, cast sleep, and start killing hobgoblins in earnest.  Since the barracks was all cleaned out, there weren’t that many left anyway.

The plan didn’t work out too well. Mcunty did fire his pistols, but missed and was struck down by the Hobgoblin King forever. While the multiple sleep spells from Ashtel helped cut the hobgoblin numbers down, that couldn’t save poor Grul, the last of the Mongoloids, nor Ashtel’s “lumberdog” who was crushed underfoot by the Hobgoblin king. Eventually, the 20 AC fighters wore down the King and he was eventually dispatched.

That wasn’t the end to the killing, as another well found secret door revealed a couple of trapped chests, and Tor Horst failed his saving throw vs poison and instantly died.

The treasure was bountiful, and since we had a Portable Hole at this point (as well as the invisible ring) it was off to town to collect experience for the three survivors: Nerdlinger, Ashtel Lumberton and Snatchus Maximus.

Stay tuned for part three! Where more characters die and there aren’t any mongoloids…

World of the Lost session 2

Lost

Had to wait an extra week to play but here we are with the 2nd World of the Lost session report. Here is the first session.  As this was a playtest as well, I went in a different direction this time with a straight up fuckall deathcrawl compared to the open ended city session last time.  This was not what I was expecting to run when I first set out to do the playtest, but here we are.

Characters.  We only had four for this session.  One player bowed out because he said he can’t play RPG’s on roll20 and one no-show.

  • Rainer Keeling – MU with a leather mask to hide his face (1 hp), Move earth, Mass Suggestion and Stone Shape
  • Van Hagen – Specialist
  • Bernard Dreu – Fighter
  • Udo Quattlebaum – Fighter (w/mancatcher)

The characters woke up tied with vines outside of a ruined temple after a night of carousing in Khirima.  They woke to the screams of another of the Portuguese  from the caravan they had traveled with crawling on the ground with his tongue cut out.  Above him stood a tall, severely pregnant African woman with a wild wreath of red hair holding a bloody knife.  The very Ekene they had been sent to kill!  Around the crumbling stones and edge of the jungle were Ekene’s retinue, many with Leopard kilts, long spears and some with steel drums.  She seemed displeased.

She watched the characters slowly wake up to the sounds of the jungle and mid-morning sunlight flitting through the canopy and then told them (in Hausa at first, which none of them spoke since the translator was still passed out, then broken English) that they must beg for their lives for even thinking of harming her.  They babbled excuses at her that they hadn’t done anything and after a few of them actually begged for their lives, she called her guards over to remove a large slab from the steps of the temple.

Musty and chilled air poured out over the temple grounds, and the characters were untied, given their weapons and equipment and bade to go into the black space under the tomb to bring out anything they could as repayment for the offense given by their plotting.  While they had their pistols and weapons, Ekene confidently turned her back on them, basically daring them to strike her, and went and sat on a portable couch to watch while getting fanned by her retainers.  The drummers started up and the characters put their armor on, loaded their pistols and descended into the darkness.

The tomb was chilled and the air heavy. The stone of the temple was impossibly smooth granite and this caused some concern as they hadn’t seen anything like it in Khirima. They hit a wrought iron door first that Udo unlocked easily (a fighter who had +3 tinkering). This lead to a small, empty room with bas reliefs of priests worshiping a humanoid in long robes with a crow’s head.  They hit another iron door, but this one was not locked…

In the hallway beyond this door, the characters started to learn that Ekene wasn’t the nicest person.   Bernard fell into a pit trap and took 8 damage (I allowed a WIS save), and as the group pulled him out of the pit, Van Hagen hit a tripwire and was hammered by a swinging log on a chain from the ceiling  (taking 3 points of damage– I’m listing exact damage cause it’s important later) and barely missed being thrown back into the pit himself (I allowed a WIS save for this as well).

Beyond the trapped hall was a large tomb complete with a sarcophagus, and two steel statues; obviously some sort of protectors of the tomb.  Bernard threw his throwing axes into the room to see if he could trigger a pressure plate, but to no avail.  When he went to pick them up, the statues came to and after their long wait for intruders to pummel, started attacking.

Bernard used the (new) Guard action to hold them off and to push his AC up to 19.  Down to 2 hp it was lucky the statues didn’t hit him. This luck will run out.  Meanwhile, the other characters prepped the log to try to swing it at the statues as they came through the hall. Stuck between the pit and the statues wasn’t the most pleasant place to be!

Rainer had Shape Stone (a 5th level spell), so when Bernard ran back into the hall to kite the living statues into the log, he cast it on a block of stone above one of the statues and pinned it to the floor for a bit.  Meanwhile, the other statue got the log directly in the chesticle, and was thrown back into the tomb.   Rainer fired his brace of pistols at the one he had pinned, but to little effect except a misfire that he burned his session Luck points on (also to no effect), so Udo then used his mancatcher to toss it into the pit, destroying it, and they hammered the other one with the log again.  Great job in the combat as there were no attacks with normal weapons (other than the pistols).

The guardians down, it was time to loot the tomb.  The characters did a bunch of search rolls (luckily no wandering monsters) and found a trapdoor made of stone at the top of a dais, and a small keyhole in a sarcophagus. After many failings at rolling the dice,  Rainer decided to simply Stone Shape the trapdoor, and things went quite awry.  Being his second spell of the day, he had to make a Magic save with 5D6, which failed and the spell was miscast!  An alien light filled the tomb and all characters re-suffered their last damage.  Bernard was  killed, and Van Hagen was down to 1 hp.  Since they had never taken any hp of damage, Udo and Rainer both doubled their hp.  Udo up to an incredible 14 hp (at first level) and Rainer up to a WHOPPING 2 hp.

rollin 1's all night!
miscasted.

We had to call it for the night.

Adventure notes

Needless to say, there’s lots of room for stuff in World of the Lost.  This tomb fit in pretty well for a non-plateau encounter.  I like Ekene, pregnant and fucking pissed as she is, and she ain’t one of the main module characters as written, but she is in mine!  World of the Lost has “make this your own” all over it without that making being a lot of work.  While this was just a two session game, and didn’t even scratch the surface of the content, so I’m looking forward to going back to the World of the Lost again.

System notes

This is a 0.1 playtest so there are some burrs. I like the spell system, but it’s a bit strange as players have zero control over what they get, a bit like the Arcanum from Into the Odd. I’m used to miscasts from WFRP and especially 8th Edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle so fuck yes to that. However, I think nearly all the spells need to be rewritten to fit the totally random method of selection. A daunting task and one that might fuck with backwards and forwards compatibility.  Of note as well, if designers are building adventures, it’s possible that they would assume that parties may have specific spells at certain levels. With the no level requirement and random spells, this may be impossible.

Frankly I would just directly steal the Warhammer Fantasy Battle cast and miscast rules.  The MU has a pool of D6’s based on his or her INT score (calculated just like the CHA and WIS saves) except these are used to cast spells. The formula would be XD6’s + level vs spell’s casting number, X being the number of dice the MU wanted to use to cast a spell.  Casting number would be the number of pips needed to successfully cast a spell. 1st level spells are cast on a 6+ for example.  MU chooses the number of dice they want to use from their pool (say they have a 2nd level spell that casts on a 7+, they might use 3 dice giving them a 9 average roll + their level to hit the casting number).  Spells never go crazy if they fail to cast, spells only go crazy when the power used to cast them is too much for the MU to handle!   If two 6’s come up, you roll on the ‘really bad’ miscast chart.  No matter what, the spell is cast if two 6’s come up, but other stuff happens, bad stuff (see picture below).  A 4th level magic user (with a +4 base to the casting roll) would rarely need to roll more than 1 die for 1st or 2nd level spells (D6+4 vs casting number of 6 and 7 respectively), so would have zero chance of a bad miscast.  Even with 2 dice to make sure, the chance is very low.  A 6th level magic user would never need to use casting dice to cast 1st or 2nd level spells.  The magic dice pool is refreshed every long rest the character takes that would also give back at least 1 hp.

miscast

Combat was fine, I’m not sure about the new armor rules  so just went with the old version.  The guard action seemed to be of use but there is both a firearms and ranged ‘combat style’ that seemed a bit redundant.

The skills are interesting now that everyone has them, but I think the Luck skill is by far the most important skill to get.  It can make impossible rolls possible and help the specialist be able to use every single skill in the game with just a small spread of points (by level 13, a specialist with points in luck left has statistically 100% chance of success in all skills if he spread just 3 points into every skill there is). In addition, if Steve had saved his luck for his miscast, things could have gone better. So rather than INT being the go to stat for Magic User, high CHA and Luck is the ideal to keep those miscasts off.

A bit we didn’t like was the -4 hp save/partial save mechanic.  at -4 HP, while the full save equals ‘passed out but survives,’ the partial save means the same thing as a failed save: death with no chance of healing or recovery (it just takes longer).  The feedback loop of a partial save (not that easy to get on 3 or 4d6) makes it feel like it should be a better outcome, like you are out and will die in 1d10 rounds, but can be saved by another player somehow.  Also, the death saves are based on Wisdom (non magical), which was a bit odd.

Damage healing was very harsh in the new version, especially with no clerics and no access to healing magic except randomly.  Expect characters to drop like flies if they get into combat after combat.

Lastly, I had to make saving throws for the monsters and didn’t know how many D6’s to roll. They can no longer ‘save as a fighter of X level’ anymore (X=HD).  Maybe I missed something in the book.

My biggest issue with the playtest packet is that I put the LotFP current ruleset on a high pedestal for my D20 gaming.  The rules are really perfect for the style of play and totally compatible with nearly everything put out by the OSR (DCC, S&W, LL) and likely 5th Edition as well.  I don’t want it to change as drastically as this playtest doc suggests the new version might.  I just want something that I can use with little trouble if I grab stuff as disparate as Secret of Bone Hill, Idea from Space or Out of the Abyss. I think if the LotFP fans grind on this with long months of playtesting, there could be something great out of it.

swinging off some NUTS today

This is a post about people that made some cool shit that just came out.  We’re all into the high end AAA video game titles and polished D&D 5E and 13th Age books, but today this post is about two titles that are not AAA by any means, very few people on the planet will ever notice them, but are still fantastic.

First is Venger Satanis’s Girls Gone Rogue, a companion adventure to his recent Space Station module, Alpha Blue.  Because I got Alpha Blue along with another module of his that I just couldn’t put down (Purple Putrescence) I hadn’t looked at AB too much except reading it on the shitter here and there.  It looks cool, and if you don’t want to use the game system in the book it would be a great setting for Runequest Star Wars (yes, this actually got made by Design Mechanism), White Star (even though the rulebook is the most fucking boring thing ever, the rules are solid), or if you haven’t already become completely disillusioned with FATE like any normal person, Bulldogs!  If you are a fucking masochist, you could use Star Frontiers, but no one would do that would they?

slutbot
slutbot

That said, there’s not much adventure in AB driving the players.  Lots of hooks, yes, and very interesting stuff as a setting, but no flat out adventure.  GGR solves this problem where players are tasked with taking down a slutbot gone rogue.  I haven’t read much yet but first, the HOOK is just fantastic and unexpected and the art– holy shit.  Tits everywhere, alien orgies, some sort of vaginal… I’m not even sure what that is…where Alpha Blue was pretty tame with the art, GGR is gonzo with the nudity and space robot fucking.  The names Satanis chooses are ridiculous and some of the charts are incredible.  ie: What the Fuck did I do last night??!

All in all, along with Purple Putrescence, which is excellent BTW, GGR solidifies me as a Venger Satanis fan. He’s got a ridiculous sense of humor and he knows his genre and his slavering, sex starved middle aged, children of the 80’s audience as well.  If I’m ever having a bad day at the fucking office, I can come home and read some of this crazy shit, and if the feeling takes me, I can run it and you know they’ll be cascades of space piss into your open mouths.

The second item doesn’t have any tits or nudity, but it sorta DID in it’s first printing.  Palace of the Silver Princess is a pillar of D&D obscurity, the ORANGE cover version was pulled as soon as it was printed and few copies exist (since I grew up in WI, I know I saw one in person before, but can’t remember where or who had it or if it was on the shelf at the hobby store in Brookfield Square).  Why was it pulled?  Well there is a part of the adventure where 9 dudes are (maybe) tearing the clothes off a woman tied up.  Remember when this came out. Early 80’s? Kids getting into D&D and not just old beardies? Yep. They pulled it even though AD&D and Fiend Folio had drawings of boobs right there for us to beat off to.

It’s unfortunate because the Orange version is better than the Green version that eventually came out because it details an entire area, not just the dungeon/palace.  I’ve been thinking about running Orange for awhile (the PDF is around) but it’s got some of those ‘stock your own stuff’ rooms that I just don’t have time for. Christ no.

princess

Bam, then what happens?  A bunch of the LotFP writers got together and rewrote the entire module, indoor, outdoor, upstairs, downstairs using the original maps!  Raggi, Zak S, Kowalski, Green and others that I don’t know, probably promising n00bs specially selected.   I haven’t read this yet (I hate PDF’s and need to get it printed on lulu before I can read it), but there are good snippets I’ve seen.  It lists the writers of each section so you’ll know if you are walking into something interesting and crazy (Raggi, Kowalski, Green, Zak) or something boring and pretentious that takes itself too seriously (won’t mention names) and you can then skip the overwritten or lame parts or revert to the original module as needed.

Also, I need to mention, it’s FREE.

LotFP: World of the Lost first session

So we belayed 13th Age for a bit to try out the new playtest rules for Lamentations of the Flame Princess last night starting the new World of the Lost module from Rafael Chandler.  There IS confusion around the new rules, since it’s no longer JUST a better version of B/X, there are some biggish changes, and I’m not sure I like all of them yet (hence playtesting which will round off the burrs), so let’s see how it goes.

Main things are:

  • Everyone has some random skills, specialists have more skills that they can choose
  • There are fighting ‘styles’ now and Fighters can use all of them
  • Saving throws are different and use D6’s
  • All spells can be cast at first level.  This makes things a bit crazy because now spells can go awry (a la Warhammer Fantasy Battle/Roleplay).

Session stuff

Characters:

  • Rainer Keeling – Magic User (1 hp)
  • Van Hagan – Specialist (tinker, bushcraft)
  • Udo Quatellbaum – Fighter with a man catcher
  • Bernard Dreu – Fighter (I’m glad matt picked a good name this time)
  • Anton Schleiss – Magic User
  • Isaac Netherwood – Specialist (languages)!

The characters joined a ship’s crew in Cornwall under one Richard Trower who sold them on the idea of heading over the ocean to Africa, finding the city of Khirima all for a hoard of the “Negro silver!”  After months on a boat and weeks of travel from the Portuguese port of Lagos along with a Portuguese caravan, they made it to Khirima and settled in to start to look for the silver. Trower took 6 Germans from the crew and went off, supposedly to meet a contact and then come back the next morning– and that was a week ago.  While they waited, they stayed on the down low but got some rumors from the tavern.

As money ran short, the characters talked about what to do and decided to leave the tavern they were at to search the city for trace of Trower or the Germans.  When they did so, they were approached by an obviously sick and recently beaten Portuguese brass caster (who was with them on the caravan from Lagos) who kept repeating: “they put a disease in me.”  He told them that since Trower was now ‘gone’ THEY had to fulfill his debt for the crime he committed by fulfilling a task for ‘them’.  They were to protect a caravan from attack while also murdering a noble that would be a long with it.  They were suspicious and tasked the Portuguese hard but he only had so much information.

When he wandered off, they followed him into the Royal district, where he dropped dead while walking.   After being accosted by guards (Leopards) and a barber surgeon who noticed them following the man (as Europeans stick out quite a bit in Khirima), they dragged the body off, dumped it in an alleyway and high tailed it back to the tavern.  It was only a Portuguese anyway right?

They decided to scout the caravan they needed to guard the night before departure, but couldn’t find it, and then headed back to the tavern where they caroused.  Someone slipped them something in their drinks and they woke up in the jungle tied to stones by vines with something crawling towards them screaming.

Welcome to Africa!

Lost

Of note, the characters were constantly exposed to languages during this short session, so there were rolls for Hausa, German, Portuguese and nearly French as well.  The linguist specialist speaks nearly ALL of the languages they will encounter during this game and I tell you that helps.  I wasn’t sure what to do with languages since with a normal party, they wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone except via hand signs, with a linguist specialist, they have it made.

World of the Lost is pretty fucking badass,  got to run it more, but so far: recommended.

Lamentations Exhibiting at Gencon 2017

Email this morning that is big news for fans of Lamentations of the Flame Princess here in the States– LotFP will be at Gencon 2016.

So the key thing here with a small publisher is to help fund this (James Raggi IV lives in Finland) by buying a bunch of stuff that you need to have.  Buy it for yourself, buy it for people that are for some inexplicable reason do not yet play LotFP.  There’s lots of small stuff, like shirts, and I love the bookmarks during play, so I buy a set with nearly every order, and you should too.

Buy Stuff here (real stuff)

Buy Stuff here (pdfs)

Iconic

 

Yeah, I’m off for XMAS

Xmas is the absolute worst time of the year to take a couple weeks off work, but fuck it, here it is.  Today is my second day off.

I saw STAR WARS a couple of times so far and yep, it’s great.  Worth the hype and I can’t wait for the next one.  Pulp fantasy /sci fi and let’s hope it ushers in a WAVE of cheesy clones like it did in the 70’s and 80’s a la MESSAGE FROM SPACE and STARCRASH.

SHINOBIGAMI!
SHINOBIGAMI!

I broke down and backed this fucker after saying NO MORE kickstarters.   While I’m not an anime freak and am certainly not all that into the whole schoolgirl ninja thing,  after reading the rules and how this plays, it seems like a lighter, shorter TENRA BANSHO ZERO.  From the description, it can be played in an evening on say a board game night as a one shot– and I’m all about the one shots.  I can do the Ninja school girl thing for a one shot!  As soon as I get the playtest/beta test packet, we’re playing this fucker.

lamentations

Over this holiday, if I get any time to myself at all, I’m going to finish up my random equipment tables for Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  I finished a draft of the fighter table last week and worked a smidge on the cleric.  Whether anyone else uses them,  it will speed up play for us a lot ditching the shopping mess during char gen.

bodyguard

 

Tonight is my first go at Feng Shui 2.  I haven’t run a game since 1997 so let’s see how it goes.  They fixed a lot of the annoying stuff in FS2 and while I think the backstory and fluff have gotten weaker, the rules are a lot better.

Degenisis
Degenesis

The above pic is from a Polish RPG called Degenesis.  It’s a horrifying post-apocalyptic world where earth is basically fucked forever.  I’ve been really impressed with the art and there are two excellent trailer videos for it as well.  Lookee here.