One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bundle of Holding: Heavy Gear Rpg

Bundle of Holding has a bunch of second and third edition pdf's of the Heavy Gear RPG on sale until April 24 2017. This is a great opportunity to get into this rich sci-fi setting that is way more than just about mecha combat.

Living in Montreal gave me the opportunity to meet and play a HG demo with one of the designers at a con back in the day. It was a blast and I ended up spending a fortune on buying books and models. It saddens me a little that Dream Pod 9 pretty much focuses on the tactical miniatures combat side of the game these days.

The Silcore system is based on the Silhouette system that exclusively uses d6s. The rules are skill based, there are no classes and it is easily breakable if you have a spike in your group. If you're looking for a system that is simple and can scale well between tactical vehicle combat and roleplaying all tied into one then this is you're system. Silcore came out during the d20 boom and tried be be a generic system that you could use for whatever genre you could conceive. It made a few adjustments to the rules but otherwise theres not a whole lot of differences between first edition heavy gear to this version.

The Heavy Gear universe is deep and well thought out. There is room to run virtually any kind of game you want. Each geopolitical region of Terra Nova (the main world in the setting) is rife with potential for adventure and intrigue.

This is one of those RPGs that I've longed to run a full campaign for but never had for various reasons. I did run a cyberpunk bank heist style adventure with the Slicore rules once and that was pretty rad. Our old group played in the adventure that was in the back of the first edition rule book that I recall was pretty fun. But yeah, beyond a short lived tactical campaign we didn't do too much with all this RPG goodness. Such a shame.

Learn from my mistakes! Go out and get yourself some Heavy Gear right now while the price is right!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Hommlet: The Revenge of the Raid-Mother

In the Temple of Elemental Evil Gygax wrote “If [the heroes] need more seasoning before continuing to the greater challenges, you may – and should – design and develop other adventures in the area”. 

This post is part of a series  of posts about my Ultimate Greyhawk campaign. 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. 

The following location is numbered based on how it appears on the map of the village of Hommlet found in T1-4: The Temple of Elemental Evil. You can see the rest of the entries in the Ultimate Greyhawk sidebar of the blog.

Black Jay, former hero of Hommlet

19. Black Jay's Cottage
Black Jay was once a great warrior. He is haunted by the death of his family who was slaughtered while he was away fighting in the war against the Temple. Today he’s a taciturn sheep herder that wants nothing to do with anyone, let alone adventurers.  This grizzled and unfriendly ranger has powerful Elven friends in the Ironwood north of Hommlet.
Black Jay has three shepherd dogs that help him tend his flock and guard his property from interlopers. Hidden in a trunk in his room is are his boots and cloak of elvenkind, gifts given to him from the Ironwood Elves during his adventuring days.

Adventure Seed: Black Jay, You’re Our Only Hope…

A contingent of Elves from the Ironwood have come to Hommlet seeking Black Jay’s aid. Black Jay, feeling that he past his prime and hearing of the hero’s great deeds in the village attempts to convince them to join him on the mission…

Adventure Seed: Grave Robbers

The graves of Black Jay’s family have been disturbed, their remains missing. Black Jay is distraught and enraged. The heroes find him in the Welcome Wench drunk and belligerent. Depending on how they handle the situation they may find themselves aiding in recovering his families remains from who or whatever would desecrate them.

Uldag, The Raidmother

Adventure Seed: Revenge of the Orcs

During his adventuring days Black Jay mercilessly hunted down and destroyed a tribe of orcs that had been raiding in the area. During his attack on their lair, Black Jay took pity on Uldag, a deformed female orc child, convinced that without her tribe, she would die soon anyway. But Uldag lived and she never forgot that night. Uldag dedicated her life to gain enough power to have her revenge on the warrior that destroyed her tribe and show the world that even an orc with a deformity is a thing to be feared. Today Uldag is known as “The Raid-Mother” and leads a small tribe of orcs and goblins known as the Twistedfoot Tribe. Uldag’s scouts have finally tracked down the location of her nemesis. Black Jay and the town of Hommlet may soon need some help.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ultimate Greyhawk & Tales from the Yawning Portal

Let me tell you about a place called Greyhawk.
I haven’t had a chance to do more than a fast scan of WotC’s new hardcover, Tales from the Yawning Portal. I have to say I was super happy to have a bunch of adventures from across D&D’s history converted 5e. Especially The Sunless Citadel, which was the first D&D adventure I ever ran and Against the Giants, a classic I’ve been dying to run for a long long time.

The 5e version of Against the Giants is set for 11th level characters and fits perfectly into the Ultimate Greyhawk campaign I hope to run one day. I also think that it might be useful as a guide to convert older D&D modules to 5e. The thing I’ve noticed is that treasure and magic in old modules tend to be on the high side. This may be because that’s how xp was gained back in the day, but it’s an easy thing to fix.

Traditionally, the Steading of the Hill Giant Chief is placed in the Jotens between Sterich and Geoff. I feel however that for a campaign that features the Temple of Elemental Evil, it would be better served placed in the Kron Hills. I feel that there is much more incentive for the players to get involved if the giant raids begin happening in the area they have spent so much time in. At an appropriate time, I would have a mixed contingent of giants and their allies attack Homlet and then have the players decide how and if they will track the raiders back to the Steading.

Fee Fi Foe Fum, I smell the blood of  adventurers!
Finally, this would lead the players into the Underdark and all the way to the Vault of the Drow. One of the story elements I really liked from D&D 4e was that it was Lolth’s Webs that had chained and imprisoned Tharizdun. In order for the Chained God to be free, Lolth’s webs needed to be weakend and destroyed. Thus, in my mind at any rate it makes much more sense of why the drow are involved in all this and how you can make allies from enemies.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tyranny of Dragons: Actual Play Session 6

Session 6: Welcome to Undermountain Bitches!

Zibo, Undermountain's goblin guide.
The Tyranny of Dragons campaign continues. This Monday night the campaign continues after last week’s cliffhanger. You can read about sessions 4-5 here. Now onto the latest events in the campaign!

Last week the characters while exploring the “Dragon Hatchery” found a room with a room that had an archway and arcane runes chiseled into it. On touching the wall, the members of the group disappeared and found themselves transported into a another dungeon type environment.

Here they encountered a lone goblin decked out in armor made of pots and pans and armed with a spatula who introduced himself as Zibo. He explained that they must have been sent here via a one-way portal, because there was no return portal that they could find.

The group spent the night in Zibo’s hidden lair and the next morning he sent the off with a rough guide of how to make their way to the Yawing Portal, which was the nearest exit to the surface that Zibo knew of. He warned them to be careful in the dungeon region they needed to pass through because a pair of wereboars named Tooth and Nailz had been terrorizing the area and looting treasure.

Unfortunately, the characters were unable to sneak past the lair of the wereboars without alerting them and a chase ensued. Raven dropped some ball bearings causing Nails to slip and fall and Godric tried to buy the group some time to make their escape facing off with them in combat. This lead to a band of goblins being attracted to the fight. Variel managed to cast hold person on Tooth keeping him out of the fight.

Eventually the group managed in a running battle to defeat the lycanthropes and the goblins with some well placed spells and hit and run combat tactics. The group decided to loot the bodies and drag the wereboars back to their lair. In the lair, hidden behind a curtain of magical darkness the group has holed up for the time being. Far from being safe they’ve regrouped as they make plans on how to escape from the dangerous depths of Undermountain…

Tooth and Nailz, when wereboars attack.

DM Notes
So I took things off the rails. Undermountain is not featured at all in the Tyranny of Dragons campaign. But I was ready to flex my DM muscles and make this campaign mine. I do plan on continuing the battle against Tiamat, but I’m going to do it my way and use the rest of the campaign books as inspiration.

Because I'm the DM thats why!
For this session I used the stuff from the first Undermountain boxed set as inspiration. The stuff with the wereboars came from an encounter in that book and eventually the group should make it to the Yawning Portal were I plan to launch other expeditions in the infamous dungeon as well as in Waterdeep.

The other thing I tried to do this session was use the chase rules from the 5e DM’s Guide. Things didn’t work out exactly as I planned, and as one of my players suggested, it probably would have worked better if I had had them chase something, instead of the other way around. In addition, I made the mistake of trying to coerce them into running instead of letting it happen naturally.

Otherwise the session went great. Everyone seemed to have fun and I’m glad I made the decision about switching things up in the campaign the way I did. And as I said, the party has not seen the last of the Cult of the Dragon, Tiamat and of course that blue Dragon Lennithon that they made a deal with not so long ago…