Friday, January 13, 2023

For The Next Gaming Session...


Cannot recommend enough...absolute ball-breaker of an album by Iron Man...yes, they started as a Black Sabbath cover band, and then came into their own sound.   I give you one of the most under-rated guitarists and song-writers in the world of heavy music.  Get ready for Al Morris...if this doesn't get you in the mood to pick up the sword, then I can't help you!

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Had This One In High School...


...keep seeing all these old rockers as characters....the Alice Cooper Group (the band was the thing, man, not the "act" that came later...if you ask me) was always a favorite.  First record I bought on my own..."School's Out" it at a garage sale for a quarter. about a cool wizard character for the game...look at the dude!   You know what?   Now I have to find the perfect warrior.  We'll see who fits the bill.  Ozzy maybe?  Should be Lemmy for sure, but I kinda got Dik Mik for a rogue already, and those two dudes were both in Hawkwind...need someone else...Hmm.   

Monday, January 9, 2023

Dik Mik: The Original Rogue


...betcha don't know who Dik Mik is do you?   Well, he happened to be the amazing oscillator player (yep...that's right.  He played an oscillator.  Not a full synthesizer...a single oscillator into an echo unit) from Hawkwind.  You might oughta go check out Hawkwind if you haven't before.  There's a serious Michael Moorcock connection there.  He's all over "Space Ritual" doing vocal/poetry live.  The guy that wrote the Elric series was part of Hawkwind?!  Yep.  Lyrics, vocals and, I think, even instrumentation at times.  And this was Lemmy's band (If you don't know Mr. Kilmister then I don't know what to tell you...)?  Shouldn't that qualify the Hawkers as the coolest band for any old-school fantasy RPG'r out there?

Anyhow, not sure he's a good fit for P&P (my notion of it), but if we end up running some Tunnels & Trolls in the next few weeks, I think I'm gonna roll me up a character based on Mr. Michael "Dik Mik" Davies...look at that knife!   This guy would make the best rogue ever.  Look at him, laying here in some hippie dream out in the park, soaking up the sun and not giving two shits about "The Man"...nothing but the whirling din of space oscillations floating around in his skull!  Any guy that wears a Freewheelin' Franklin shirt AND carries a knife that big for the hell of it, has got to be pretty cool rogue if you ask me.  

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Pits & Perils Solo Playtest Pt. V's been a bit before today since we last played, and my notes may be hard to figure on, but this morning we had some good battles and I figure I better document it before my notes start slipping away from my mind like a Vancian-styled spell from the mind of a 200 year old wizard with dementia, so, here we go...

We managed to get out of the dungeon last time and rest up.  We had our hired cleric do some healing on us to get us back up to speed, and then we ventured back to the staircase that would get us to level three of the dungeon.  Ales and managed to bend some rusty bars of a portcullis door that was blocking our way at the bottom of the staircase, and we squeezed thru.  We found a room that Possum managed to pick the door to, but, after we got in there we were facing a giant scorpion.  We all took some hits, and fought like hell, and recovered some gems and gold after a search in the damp and muddy conditions.  

We next ran into a magic door that none of us could open (including our worthless hired magician), so we started back-tracking and doing some searching for secret doors somewhere.  We finally managed to turn one up (rolled one luckily on our generator), and explored that option.  Lo' and behold, it led to a small room where that darned stranglebones from earlier had apparently retreated to (man, this generator is rough.  I'm going to design my own.  I don't like the way this thing shakes out when rolling.  I'm all for monster battles, but the way this one is lined out, they drop in and out of every other room, ha)!  We fought that critter, took more damage, and then came some real fun...

The room connected to that was filled with that party that tried to hire on with us earlier.  This time, when Possum tried to pick-pocket one of them he got caught!   The fight was on.  We wailed back and forth with their party for some time, and they weren't slouches by any means.  At this point, their party had a magician, a thief and a barbarian all at 4th level.  Ales decided to whack on the mage first, just in case he got to rolling with a spell, while Possum read off a scroll of invisibility and was thinking the same thing:  Sneak up behind the mage and cut his throat.  Though it didn't kill the wizard it put him down where he couldn't cast immediate, so the rest of the party just started tangling...hits were scored all over the place, back and forth, and during the melee the magician managed to croak out a lightening bolt which hit Rufus the dwarf for minor damage (lucky roll), and later he got one more off before he expired...a stun spell that popped Four-Toed.   In the end, we killed 'em and took their stuff...and we got a decent haul.  They must have been in here awhile.  There was some gold coins, a stone or two, some jewelry and a magic plus mace...also recovered some boots of speed off the thief and a scroll with two spells off the mage.  

We moved on...after a few empty rooms, we encountered two wraiths.  Yikes.  Now, we were (are!) in trouble.  You can't hit 'em with regular weapons and they drain a die damage roll on each hit...being that they are already whacked up to half as a party point wise, we decide to stay and fight and see who dies...that turned into a retreat...ha.  We gave the retreat maneuver a free attack for the wraiths as we try to escape, and that almost put both Ales and Rufus into the dirt, as they were both hit.  We all managed to escape (so far)...even the cleric and the hired wizard, but it didn't fare well for our torch-punk.  Poor kid got wraithed.  And the bad news for him is he'll be coming back as a wraith...and probably looking for the group of grown-assed men who couldn't keep some kid that carries torches alive!!   

Friday, December 30, 2022

S.S.T. - "Small Solo Tunneler"


Not too long back, I wrote an article on playing Tunnels & Trolls solo for "TrollsZine #13".  My buddy that I game with and I have been using it sometime to both play together in randomly determined solo adventures, and it's worked pretty well, I have to say.  T&T is one of those systems I go a long way back there with, and I've always found it to be really, really enjoyable.   I like to move around and play a lot of different systems, but T&T always has a "home-base" feel to it for me.  The problem, as a young kid, was trying to find others who would play.   Back then, there was a lot of AD&D snobbery flying around, and to my friends, T&T was "too goofy" to be taken seriously (first of all, who does that!?) and enjoyed.  Ken St. Andre seemed to be a little too much of a regular-guy for my friends,.  They wanted the "real" game to be something that others "wouldn't understand".  Sort of an insider philosophy.  Hell, I just wanted to play!  If the 5 or 6 of us weren't seen as pariahs of a sort in high school, I would have welcomed anyone to get in there with us, but it is in a redneck town when you are a weirdo.  Still, there was one guy that I knew that liked T&T, so he ran it for me sometimes when I wasn't playing AD&D 1st ed. with my gang.    

T&T always brought me back though.  There's something about my personal history with it, along with the game itself...the art, the setting, the writing, all of it.  I always thought it was something that was a little less wargame-nerd and more kill-some-stuff-grab-some-treasure.  Of course, its way more than that (or can be), but it always felt that way.  A welcome break from the headaches that would come from studying the great Bible of game systems; with it's head-scratching, statistical prose and college-graduate, academic vibe.  That isn't true either of course.  I loved AD&D, and still do.  I'm just illustrating the feel that T&T had for me.  It went well with cranking up a Deep Purple LP, and sneaking one of your uncle's beers out of the fridge to split with a friend.  There was something sort of late-era hippie about the whole thing that really appealed to me.  Liz Danforth's cool art was a lot of it.  

Anyhow, when I can't get together with Shaun and do some gaming in what we are currently running, which is Pits & Perils (formerly we were running OD&D), I like to run solo using T&T.  But, I wanted something that I could use other than the fantastic solo modules published by Flying Buffalo.  I have them all in my collection and like to visit them, but something more free-form.  So, as I say, I came up with a way to do that, and Shaun and I play-tested it a bunch and really enjoyed it.  Still, I wanted to streamline more.  Even less than what I had come up with.  Something I can take to work that will be easy to cart around, where I won't need to carry a lot of gear.  A game I can jump into and out of quickly during a lunch break or downtime.  So, I came up with the "Single Solo Tunneler" idea.  I'll lay out exactly how it works, but first I need to talk about the gear to play it.  

The first thing I had to do was decide what game system to use as the core for the whole idea.  I decided on 5th ed. T&T.  I know the system well, it's fast and runs quickly when you want it to.  There's little to keep up with mentally or physically and it has the feel I want for this.  If things work out, I may try to overlay the idea on Pits & Perils, as it seems to me that P&P would run perfectly solo.  It has a lot of the rules-light feel that T&T has and would be easy to track as you play along.  I own reproduction hard copies and pdf.s of the 1st edition of T&T, along with the 4th and the 5th.  I also have 5.5 and the beautiful Deluxe Edition.  I went with the 5th.  It's streamlined and right in the proper zone I think for my design.  I may still add spite damage though, we'll see.  If I do, it's pretty much 5.5 at that point, but whatever.  5th edition is what I settled on.  

Now, portability is the thing.  I have to lug a huge pile of crap back and forth every day for my job, and it seems to get worse each passing year, so I decided this whole thing needs to be compact as I can get it.   I printed up my pdf. of the game at 50% and made a miniature version of the 5th edition rules.  I did the same for some character sheets, the "survival pack" (four cheat-sheets put out by Flying Buffalo that pretty much contains all the rules you need), and grabbed five of my Flying Buffalo "Death Dice".  All of it I plan on putting in a small pouch that has room for a pencil, a ruler, a micro-calculator and any extras.  Ridiculous I know.  I spent the night working on a two-page solo set of rules to guide me through random dungeon creation.  The goal this time is to not use so many picture-dice to get me there.  I picked up this pouch over on you-know-where (Ugh.  Need to get off that whole thing):

...we'll see how it goes.  I should have the whole rig ready to roll and be able to play-test what I came up with next week, and will report back.  If it works as I have planned, I'll post the little rule-set here in case anyone would like it.  I'm looking to roll with something that's a lot faster and cleaned-up than the old DM Guide solo-play pages.  It won't have the depth of playing at the table, with a DM of course, but I want to build in some stuff to make it fun in its own unique way.  It'll not be anything comparable to "D100" or one of those other great solo games that have come out in the last few years...just something simple that will allow 2-12 room dungeon exploration, some battle with monsters and some treasure snaggin'! 

Monday, December 26, 2022

The Megadungeon Update Numero One...

...just some information about the development of the megadungeon I've been working on for "Pits & Perils".  I'm about 37 pages into it so far.  Being my own editor, I'm doing quite a bit of re-writing here and there to keep this thing clear and can run out of control quickly!   

So far, I've created about 50 special monsters for it, and a handful of special treasure.  A lot of the monsters go back to notes that are nearly 35 years old, so they truly will be "old school", as I used them in dungeons I ran as a young kid and teen.  There are 4 main areas to explore:  a village, a forest, a tower and potentially never-ending underground dungeon.  I think my support story is decently simple and effective.  I've completed with details about 16 rooms so far of the first level (this supplement will have the first 3 levels, at about 100 rooms for each level), so I have a long ways to go, but work is steady and I've been putting in at least an hour most nights (some evenings far more, depending on my son's sleeping schedule.  He has autism and much time is spent trying to encourage him to just sleep on schedule).   The map for the first level is drawn (not inked yet...doing all that by hand, the same way we did our own underground comic books in the old days), and I have started drawing out the art for it as well.   

There are many surprises, and I can assure you, this will be one unusual dungeon (I've been a proud weirdo for my entire life!), but very traditional, as I know no other way.  No danger of anything other than this "OSR" notion from me, 'cause I don't have experience with modern mechanics and tropes, to be honest.  If I were to roughly guess completion for this module I'd say sometime in mid-summer.  If folks seem to enjoy it,  then maybe I'll do levels 4-6 and put that out there right behind this one.   

...and the pdf. form it'll be free, baby, free!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Ral Partha 13-020 Cyclops Miniature

I can't recall for the life of me where I first encountered Ral Partha's cyclops mini (13-020).  Somewhere, back in my young life, I do remember clearly wanting it.  I'm thinking that I may have seen this one in the game shop, but either way, I was mesmerized by it.

For one thing, clearly it's based upon Ray Harryhausen's creation for "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad".   That was the first movie I went and saw on my own in an indoor theatre.  I still remember leaving the apartment we lived in, walking across the field that summer morning, and climbing over a large wood fence to make it to the shopping center that was playing it.  After paying some scratch from my two-dollar weekly allowance, I sat down to watch a movie that fully captivated me, and still does so to this day.  This is one of my favorite movies of all time.  Ray's vision for the cyclops (no pun intended) is horned, four-fingered, goat-hooved and huge.  He's really nasty and hoards treasure like you can't believe.  That single film probably had more impact on the creators and players of fantasy games of the 1970s than just about any other movie.  

I'm curious if the figure was ever released in different versions, because one of them had a little red plastic gem for an eyeball, and that's the one I recently scored on fleaBay and can't wait to get started painting on!  The other one I always wanted was the Ral Partha Three Stooges three-headed troll, and I nailed it too on an auction.  I'll be posting some pics of my attempts at doing 'em up as soon as I get them and get to work.  I ain't no Kevin Dallimore by any means, but I'm sure gonna do the best I can on 'em.  

Hope my painting can do both of these miniatures justice.  I'll be using them frequently in my P&P games.

*-Image from The Armory's "Buyer's Guide to Fantasy Miniatures", 1983.