Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Six Scenario Seeds From BuildADungeonFromMe

This is the sort of thing I intended BADFM to do. Hit the random button and get inspired.

ONE - The final room of the alien shrine. While appearing to be sunlight filtering through the window in the roof, there is only solid rock (or desert sand) for hundreds of feet, if not miles, above. The picture window is in fact a minor warpgate that only permits light to travel through it is transmitting sunlight from a far distant star, perhaps from the alien civilisation's home solar system.

Research suggests that if all the engraved grooves in the walls are filled with a mix of fat and blood from intelligent species, the Featureless Goddess will come to life and grant the performer of the ritual one (and only) question guaranteed to be answered correctly. If the question cannot be guaranteed to be truthful it is believed that reality will in fact shift to match the answer. Clever PCs may be able to use these unanswerable questions to achieve Wishes.

(For example - When will Bountcrass the Usurper die? Since that is not known, an answer of "in ten years to the day" will change reality - Nothing can make Bountcrass die before that date, nothing can prevent his death on that date).

TWO - A Chaos Warrior of the Cult of The Chimaera of Scorpion and Man. It is of vital spiritual importance to these Chaos Warriors that their mortal remains be fed to the temple scorpions, accordingly cult members will go to any lengths to recover their fallen and return what remains of them to the Feeding Pits in their hidden temple deep in the desert. This is undertaken in the hope that one day the scorpions fed upon such will give birth to their Messiah, a hybrid of Scorpion and Man, the titular Chimaera. Somewhat predictably their temple/dungeon is quite heavy on the Dromopoda theme.

THREE - Cranial Parasite. A small grub that nests and grows within the brain cavity of severed heads that still possess a large degree of their original brain matter. Feeding upon the latent psychic energy within, the grub rapidly grows a size commensurate with the skull, growing tentacles with which to move and interact with it's environment and a large, lamprey-like mouth in the original owners jaw.

It's MO is to fight from ambush, dropping upon it's prey and sucking blood until it's prey is dead. It will then repeatedly vomit it's virulent stomach acids upon the neck of the victim until the head is severed, planting a child grub within the head before looking for new prey.

In regions where the Cranial Parasite is known and feared, most cultures practise cremation to avoid the spread of them.

FOUR - Monsieur Guillotine.

AC5, HD3, Att - 2 fists + charm-like effect, DMG - d4/d4, M12, AL:C, Usual undead immunities. Turn as Wight.

A bizarre magical hybrid of guillotine and animated skeleton. Upon encountering living beings that can be killed by decapitation, Monsieur Guillotine will attack while issuing a strange chanting noise. Each enemy who hears the noise must Save vs Spells each round they remain in earshot of MG or sink to their knees in a fugue-like state, totally unable to defend themselves or take any action.

Once all enemies are in a fugue-like state (and those that resisted are dead or have fled), on each subsequent round a random victim will raise and lay him or herself down in the guillotine (one round to perform). On the next round, the guillotine will descend and slay the victim (no save).

FIVE - Lord Treasure-Stomach. Believed by legend to be a narcissistic Earth Elemental who caught sight of his own reflection in the lake and froze in position unable to tear his eyes away. Furthermore it is believed that such creatures exist on a diet of valuable gems that stay secreted in their stomachs and that should the lake ever be drained Lord Treasure-Stomach will awake in a murderous rage and lay waste to the area. Locals will go to nearly any lengths to avoid the risk of adventurers trying to wake him in order to see if the gem diet legend is true.

SIX - Morkhoon the Death-Writer. First you have to locate this ancient, withered undead beast. Then you have to pay his grim price which he will tell you in staccato hisses of a volume barely audible to the human ear. This price varies by job and probably by whim of Morkhoon. Then he will prick himself and draw his thin, black blood and write the name of your target upon his wall and furthermore your name alongside it. The target will be dead within a year and a day. Morkhoon never fails and your name will be alongside your guilty deed for ever. Morkhoon knows who requested the assassination and will always draw the name of the guilty party - it is no use sending a catspaw or delegate to request your dirty work. Amongst the names of the guilty are those of many Kings and Emperors who thought that slaves, servants and messenger boys would be taking the rap for them.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Death Frost Doom in a Black Country

Yeah, it's all my fault - no sooner do I print out and start to bind my PDF of Death Frost Doom then the snow sweeps in and paralyses the UK. Sorry. If it makes you feel any better I slipped and fell on the side of my arse walking back from Tescos today and Das Coopwagen will almost certainly be stuck on the drive for much of next week.

I won't bother reviewing DFD because it's been out a few years now and basically everybody else has already done so. I quite like it, it's almost scrupulously fair (which will be returned to later) and has a nice atmosphere. However there is one word that breaks it for me.

That word crops up as early as page 10 and is "susurrus".

Now, I already know what that word means. This is because I had to look it up after encountering it back in White Dwarf 9, specifically Albie Fiore's classic three-and-a-half-page 1st level D&D dungeon The Lichway from 1978. It's not like The Lichway is a famous dungeon or anything, nothing like something mentioned by people like Pterry as being the setting of the first game of D&D he ever played in.

So yeah, DFD is basically a rewrite of The Lichway. I think a lot of people have already noticed this and commented upon it so I'll just add this - LOTFP's Tower of the Stargazer is basically a rewrite of the Beacon at Enon Tor from IMAGINE 1 (April 1983). So there's previous here.

Basically the big problem I have with this scenario (and to be honest, it's the only major one) is that as soon as the word "susurrus" is mentioned, two things happen.

1 - Somebody says "what's that mean?" or
2 - Somebody blinks and thinks "Shit, this is a Lichway rewrite. This time there might actually be a Lich".

So that's problematical. It's a further problem in that the situation is slightly different in the two scenarios, but Lichway's is, I think, superior. To elucidate;

In DFD, a thorny plant blocks entrance to room 22. Air travelling through it's expanse makes the susurrus noise that keeps the undead "asleep". The players will just regard this as a problem to be brushed aside or, worse still, will be sagely wondering if the susurrus noise throughout the dungeon complex is, you know, maybe just maybe keeping the undead asleep. Because that Might. Just. Happen.

(This is what I mean by almost - knowledge of just how bad removing an irritating loads of brambles could be just isn't guessable and if it is - well we all know which WD scenario your players are familiar with...)

In Lichway, a beast called the Susurrus is kept in a cage over a secret trapdoor (yeah, that's a spoiler. The scenario is from 1978 FFS) over the secret treasure (ditto). It lives off air which it pulls through a series of resonant chambers in it's exoskeleton producing the susuruss noise that keeps the undead "asleep". It doesn't actually block any passage through it's chamber. It lives off air so has no reason to attack the PCs unless they have a naked flame which it detests seeing as how a naked flame burns up all the oxygen and is a direct competitor for resources. This makes sense. There is also a bullroarer in the dungeon complex specifically made to control the beast.

So the Lichway sets up a situation whereby the PCs don't actually need to dispose of the Susurrus and probably have to go to some lengths to do so (it's 8HD, they are 1st level) but intelligent play will certainly show them a way to "solve" the "puzzle". DFD just gives them an annoying briar to remove in order to get access to a room that will then fuck them up for doing the obvious thing which is a situation compounded by the fact that in the optional "go to dungeon on quest for McGuffin found in one room" the DM is supposed to place it in the room blocked off by the Susurrus plant.

However, that's the only part I dislike. So, thinking about it while on the household chores this afternoon I came up with the following take. Drop the thorny susurrus plant and introduce


Now we have a wizened old immortal, perhaps one of the very first members of the cult back in Ye Olde Days. He sits in room 22 playing a bone flute. This can be heard everywhere in the dungeon that the original susurrus could. He has sat there since time immemorial playing his bone flute very badly, awaiting the day that a new Grandmaster of the cult will arrive and declare that is time for HELL TO VOMIT FORTH IT'S FILTH. This has never happened in the past. But the eschatology of the cult says that it will one day. Maybe the Grandmaster doesn't know he's the Grandmaster. Maybe he was living the carefree life of a murder hobo dungeon bastard right up until the point where he made the music stop. Who knows? Devan-Ku moves in mysterious ways.

If the PCs try to talk to him he will carry on playing his flute. Should they make moves to attack him he will stop, ask "Are you sure? Are you really sure?" and if they are sure he'll just shrug and let himself be hacked down (1hp which should shock and worry any player who thought that this was THE BIG END OF LAST LEVEL BOSS and was preparing accordingly).


Another tiny problem I have is that there is a chimney up from room 22 clearly intended to be an emergency exit from, basically, the shitstorm that the PCs have just caused. This is claimed to be difficult to find from the surface (i.e. you must use DM's fiat to stop them finding it or the scenario will be fucked) but as we know, what is intended purely as an exit sometimes get used as an entrance as well. The chimney is partly blocked by susurrus brambles but the scenario is quiet on what exactly it would take to clear this and what, if any, this effect would have upon the susurussy noise. It strikes me that this was put in more in hope than expectation that the PCs don't find it. A bit scruffy.

Also why would you have a secret door in room 22 that requires a human sacrifice to open (this is good), alongside another secret door that, err, doesn't require a human sacrifice to open and leads to exactly the same corridor? I would cut out the linking N/S 10' of tunnel that links room 23 to the likes of rooms 24, 25 etc. or have the ritual open both.

But I like this scenario. If I were ever to get a game on, I'd happily run either as an introductory game but I'd have to prep players before running DFD that this is a little bit different to the more run of the mill D&D game.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Just Two Members of the Horde of Goreshitter

Firstly, a frank and honest admission of some shocking 'Eavy Metal heresy.

I like gloss varnish.

I especially like gloss varnish on 28mm figures.

My excuse for this is that some of the first miniatures photography I saw in White Dwarf was the work of Aly Morrison and they were slathered in rock hard gloss varnish. I loved the effect, the sheen and the porcelain-like finish and it was massively inspirational upon me. Gloss used to be quite fashionable up until the early 1990s but then it went away in favour of the almost maniacal "must be flat and reflect no light" look which was probably inspired by the increasing use of the black undercoat.

Anyway, I gloss all my 28mm. I even like the tactile feel when they are picked up.

Unfortunately this makes photography of my toys extremely difficult. Anyway here's two that I managed to snap via the iPhone without looking utterly shit.

Hathroll Stone Ommer, Asgard Miniatures Half-Troll with Hammer, pretending to be a Runequest Broo Oldhamster Chaos Beastman. I wanted to use this model because Asgard is Bryan Ansell's old company although I actually bought this as a reissue when Tabletop Games owned the moulds. I had a go at a traditional Blanchitsu "Orange Ogre Face" on the shield, but in red to match the red-and-yellow-ochre colour scheme that the rest of the warband has. Unfortunately the model is far too big to fit on a 25mm x 25mm base so I've double-based it - the frontage is the correct-for-Oldhamster 25mm but twice the depth as if it were what the kids all call a "unit filler" these days. Groundworking will be done all at the end of the project to keep it consistent across all models.

Yak Gotegobla, Citadel Miniatures Beastman Champion. I was a bit unsure about whether this model fitted in with the Oldhammer ethos being, to my mind, from the modern, rubbish period. But then I realised that the copyright date on the slottabase tab was 1995 which is obviously a hell of a lot closer to the magical year of 1987 then it is to the modern day...

So it gets a pass and gets to lead Göreshitter's Beastman unit Göreshitter's Shitters of Göre (all 5 of them). I tried to go all "limited palette" on this one, it's possibly ended up being a bit too subtle.

I do have other members of the warband painted up, unfortunately the gloss varnish and uneven lighting in the flat (fuck you shitty modern energy saving bulbs) meant that the pics aren't worth posting.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Been Quiet Recently

Been quiet recently. The reason for this is that I'm following a self-imposed curfew from VDU use after 10 at night in the interests of combating insomnia. So no PC, iPhone games, DVDs or vidya after 10 which is cutting the amount of time I spend online.

Despite this, the Rogue Trader game at Oldhammer weekend is go go go, scheduled for Sunday 1st September at Foundry in Nottingham. You can find the thread and rules and such like at the B.L.O.O.D. forum (no idea what that acronym stands for) here.

Anyway pics of some toys that will no doubt show their faces at Foundry.

Sunday was the West Midlands Military Show at Wolverhampton which is the same show that used to be based at that run-down secondary school in Walsall just off J10. Despite the name it's 90% wargaming with the balance being made up from displays by local kit modellers, a re-enactor or two and a couple of Second World War US Army vehicles.

These days, with the decline of the small "club open day" show this is one of only two shows I attend, the other being the show that used to be called Sandwell Skirmish but then moved out of Sandwell and into Brum which is held in December.

I picked up a few bits and pieces, mainly for the Oldhammer 40,000 game. I saw nothing of RPG interest, the usual Bring and Buy stall was pretty desolate and devoid of much of interest. I think this is probably the continuation of the decline of the B&B concept (once upon a time being the only real reason to attend smaller shows) it's market share having been decimated by eBay and a lot of tales of theft from stalls. That's usually where I pick up RPG bargains but nothing of interest this time.

On the subject of RPGs I finally got around at looking at the PDF download of 1977 vintage Tunnels & Trolls (4th edition) that I downloaded back in November. Printed out and bound this now means that I have four copies of T&T across three different editions and I have never played any of them...

Friday, 1 March 2013

Oldhammer Game Proposal - Rogue Trader

WD112 had this announcement of a "Bring and Battle" Rogue Trader event at Games Day '89.

I'd swear that there was an earlier incarnation of this game at Games Day '88 using just Space Marines and presented as a sort of gladiatorial game for the title of Emperor's Champion but I can't find any evidence of such in White Dwarf back issues. I may have dreamt this but I'm fairly certain I didn't.

I'd like (if the interest is there which is where you guys come in) to run something similar at the Oldhammer bash at Foundry this August. Using the 1987 rules of course.

This would be a case of each player turning up with something that resembles a Space Marine tactical squad (loaners would be available although I imagine most people attending Oldhammer would be able to lay their hands upon 10 Space Marines - RT01s or modern it really doesn't matter) and pitching in - either as an "everyman for himself" thing or set up as two opposing table edges. I guess the format depends upon numbers really as I suspect the rules might fall apart if there are too many sides.

I envisage people being able to turn up and just join in as and when, re-joining in after being wiped out if they so fancy. An excuse to push some lead and plastic around and roll some dice in other words. We might keep score, the winner wins the adoration of his peers or muttered asides of "powergamer..."

But while inviting all and sundry to the gladiatorial games on the world of Ghun'Khryme-Kapitol there will be a few... say we say complications.

Which is to say that your GM (yours truly) keeps thumbing through Warhammer 40,000 - Rogue Trader and thinking thoughts like "hmmm... random Dinosaurs....", "hmmm... vortex missiles" and "hmmm... biowire. I remember that issue of 2000AD..."

In other words, lots of random events designed to stir things up and stop it being a Missile Launcher sniping party. And it might allow me to kill something as it looks like my Khornate warband in the RoC battle royale won't be achieving very much...

Any interest? Is it worth my while sorting the game out. Let me know here or on the Oldhammer Facebook page.