“When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.”

-George A. Romero, Dawn of the Dead

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hommlet: Hoonan Farmhouse

The following is an entry in my series on Ultimate Greyhawk. Much like how comics and movies will reboot a franchise with a new take on an old concept, this is my personal re-imagining of the Greyhawk Campaign Setting beginning with the venerable town of Hommlet.

Key to the Village
The following locations are numbered based on how they appear on the map of the village of Hommlet as found in the module T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil.

2. Hoonan Farmhouse

Elmo Hoonan
This is the home of farmer and Captain of the town's militia Bodasen Hoonan. He lives here with his wife Ulmentha, two sons Elmo and Otis, and a servant named Pavek. The couple are devout worshipers of Saint Cuthbert and thus are pragmatic and hard workers. The same cannot be said of their tow sons. Elmo is a slow witted drunk with aspirations to join an adventuring party. This is not an act, he is actually as dumb as he seems and if recruited by an adventuring party will pose a serious liability. Otis on the other hand inherited the brains his brother sorely lacks. He is a con artist and a rogue. He divides his time between Hommlet and Nulb and frequently direct merchant caravans and adventurers into well planned ambushes by bandits from Nulb. Bodasen and his wife realize that both their sons are lost causes, yet familial loves prevents them from acting against them. In fact Bodasen will often use his clout as Captain of the militia to protect his sons from any sort of accusations levelled at them and going as far as hiding evidence of any wrong doings.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hommlet: The Ginter Farmhouse

The following is an entry in my series on Ultimate Greyhawk. Much like how comics and movies will reboot a franchise with a new take on an old concept, this is my personal re-imagining of the Greyhawk Campaign Setting beginning with the venerable town of Hommlet.

Key to the Village

The following locations are numbered based on how they appear on the map of the village of Hommlet as found in the module T1-4 The Temple ofElemental Evil.

1. Ginter Farm House

A farmer named Zoltan lives here with his two sons Ivan and Sully and a pack of unruly dogs.They are followers of the Old Faith and thus have little liking for the Church of Saint Cuthbert and it's followers. This past season the family planted some new seeds that they purchased for next to nothing from a merchant passing through town. Unfortunately for the Ginter's and the rest of the town this passing merchant was actually an evil druid and member of the Twilight Druid Circle based out of the Moat House. The seeds are actually a new type of Twig Blight seedling that will soon begin to terrorize the town and numerous other locals where they have been planted.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


I finally found the blog post that I was talking about when I referenced the idea of an Ultimate Forgotten Realms campaign. That blog was of course the most rad and greatly missed PLANET ALGOL blog the blog post can be found here.

On a similar train of thought I've been writing up some notes on an Ultimate Greyhawk. The idea being that this is a reboot of the Greyhawk Setting. One of the campaigns I've always wanted to run was the classic Temple of Elemental Evil,  Against the Giants, and Descent into the Depths series of modules.

One of the things that often happens is that as I gear up to run this I get so obsessed over canon that I just give up. However now that I allow myself to be unshackled from the chains of canon I can just run with it and really make it my own campaign.

So I started with the village of Hommlet. I have the beginnings of some actual notes that take the village in some very radical directions from what Gary wrote. But you know what I think that's what Gary would've wanted. For us to take his toys and run with them. To make them our toys, to make it our game and play it anyway we felt was the most fun for us.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Ultimate Forgotten Realms

A while back I read a blog post (I can't recall the blog just now ) that hoped that “The Sundering”, the relaunch of 5e Realms, would basically shatter the Realms into an infinite number of alternate Realms. This would allow Wizards of the Coast to have their own official version, and each DM to have his own version in which events would play out in their own unique way. The idea would be akin to Marvel's infinite alternate universes.

I love this idea. It feels liberating to me. For a while now I've had this idea percolating in the back of my mind of starting with the the Grey Box, City of Splendours, and maybe a few other supplements and running an Ultimate Forgotten Realms campaign using D&D 5e.

The idea would be to run a campaign set in Waterdeep with a fresh take on things. The players wouldn’t be able to trust anything they previously knew about FR canon. Old villains, heroes, and history would be rewritten with new takes or twists and thus allowing the DM to have complete control over the campaign. I also think it would let many players sit back and enjoy playing knowing that they are the stars of the show and that they aren’t going to be shown up by Mary Sues or break the setting by doing some sort of crazy thing that might have an important realms shaking event. It would also allow the players and DM to learn about the world through play as opposed to having to earn a bachelors degree in FR history.

I suppose that for many groups out there this isn’t a new idea. Personally though I know this has been the case for the few groups I been with. Typically theres that guy that knows more than the DM and another that has no clue whatsoever. As a DM I can see this offering a happy medium solution. In the future I think I might begin a series of posts dedicated to my own personal Ultimate Forgotten Realms. If I suddenly fall off the face of the internet you know that Ed Greenwood has sent his Realms Lore Canon Ninja hit squad after me.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mecha & Martians

This post seems to be getting a lot of play according to my blogger stats. I found this second trailer on You Tube and I still believe that this would make for one kick ass RPG campaign. Mechs, steampunk, political drama and action all rolled up into one.

As I thought about what system I would use to run this, it occured to me that the mecha niche seems to be missing the plethora of OSR clones and rules add ons. Thinking on it I would probably use Stars Without Number, with a few modifications. I noticed the Core rules have stuff about mecha in them so that might be worth checking out. In fact I've been considering adding yet another blog project called Mecha & Martians. Seems like it would be a lot of fun.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

I've known for while that this movie was coming. To be honest I didn't really give a shit. But I have to say after watching this trailer I think I just might like this movie. Hell I might even give the comic a shot. A friend of mine is following the series and says its pretty rad so maybe he's on to something here.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Lake Tower of Vara Ristk

I've been playing quite a bit of Magic: The Gathering these past few weeks. Theres been a few things about the game that have got me thinking about Magic and the relation to D&D.

Magic is the saviour of D&D. When TSR was floundering it was Wizards of the Coast that swooped in with the money from the wildly successful card game, bought the company and revived D&D with 3e, created the OGL and created a renaissance in gaming history.

Here we are roughly 14 years later and D&D has been replaced by Pathfinder and self published old school enthusiasts. While Magic still rakes in huge amounts of money, and is perhaps even more successful than it was when it first went mainstream.  

I can see the parallels between D&D 3e and later edition rules and Magic. Both games attempted to makes the rules clear and precise with key words and standardized abilities.  If you look at the Monster Manuals of 4e you can see how the creatures have more evocative names like the creature cards of Magic.

Ultimately I find it sad that the D&D design team hasn't come up with adventures or campaign settings like the evocative settings and ideas that the Magic team does. Every year Magic comes out with what is the equivalent of a unique campaign setting with an over arching storyline, filled with unique monsters, NPCs, magic items and treasures. Yet D&Ds adventures pale in comparison. Other 3rd party companies, Pathfinder in particular have stolen the show because of this. I firmly believe that Paizo's success lies partially in the fact that they didn't alienate the 3.x player base, but mostly in the fact that instead of focusing so much on a rules system they pumped out adventure after adventure.  

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Heres a little Swords & Wizardry encounter inspired by some random Magic cards.

The Lake Tower of Vara Ristk

The wizard Vara Ristk, like many of her profession is a little off her rocker. She lives in a lonely tower that rises directly from the waters of an island strewn lake. An ever present mist obscures and cloaks the tower from view from the mainland. The tower can only be accessed from deep below the water, and the approach is protected by Isle-back Krakens. Vara can not be bothered with menial tasks and her lair is filled with a variety of homunculus. Worst among them, for spellcasters at least, is the Oculus.

Isle-back Kraken

At rest these Kraken look like rocky small islands. As prey gets within attack range they rise up an attack with their tentacles. One can sometimes spot an Isle-back Kraken in advance when it uses one of its tentacles to grab an unfortunate bird that has mistaken the monster for a true island and landed on one for a rest.  

Isle-back Kraken: HD 20; AC 0[19]; Atk 6 tentacles (2d6), bite (3d6); Move (Swim 3) (Jet 21); Save 3; CL/XP 24/5600; Special: Ink cloud, constriction, control weather, create lights.

Oculus Homunculus 

This creature has a powerful gaze attack that can suck the magic out of another wizard and then either transfer it to its master or use it himself depending on how it was programmed. On a successful gaze attack the wizard makes a saving throw. On a failure the Homunculus absorbs a random spell from the caster.   

Oculus: HD 2; AC 6[13]; Atk 1 Gaze (1d3 + spell loss); Move 6 (Fly 20); Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Spell-loss Gaze.