Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Arkham Horror

During the camping trip we played some Arkham Horror.  Six investigators versus Cthulhu.  We got him down to about 5 points before we were all killed and devoured.  Still, a fun game.  Once we get a few more sessions under our belts (we've only played a few times), I think we will look into some of the expansion sets.  The King in Yellow will likely be first....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Back to the Dungeon

As we are all off this week, I plan on getting in a few sessions of Purple Mountain.  We should finish the first level, I hope.  Updates as they happen, and when the level is cleared I'll post my conversion notes.

Amber Witch

Just got back from camping over the holiday weekend.  Right before we left I went to the liquor store and chanced across something I'd never seen before: Strega.  From Wikipedia:

Strega (or Liquore Strega), is an Italian herbal liqueur produced since 1860 by the S. A. Distilleria Liquore Strega in Benevento, Campania, Italy. Its yellow color comes from the presence of saffron in its recipe. Liquore Strega is 80 proof (40%) and among its approximately 70 herbal ingredients are mint and fennel. Strega is considered a digestif, meant for drinking after meals.
Strega has a similar appearance to Galliano (though less vibrantly yellow). It is slightly sweet, semi-viscous, and has a bold, complex flavor with strong minty or coniferous notes.
Strega, of course, is 'witch' in Italian, so that didn't hurt either.  Anyway, I have a new favorite drink over absinthe.  It is very good neat, and I also invented my own cocktail using it.  Try it out and let me know what you think.  I call it the Amber Witch: equal parts Strega, orange juice, and quality ginger ale, on the rocks.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fight On! 13 T&T Content Redux

I said in a previous post that I was disappointed with the content of FO! 13.  Don't get me wrong - there are always great articles in the magazine and I've used a lot of the stuff from issues 1-8.  One of the best parts of T&T is that it is easy to convert material from other games to it, even on the fly, and you can make it as complicated as you want.  Due to the ease of early D&D to T&T conversion, especially, I've run a bunch of FO! material.  My disappointment here comes from the desire to see a lot more T&T specific material in the magazine.  Luckily the T&T community is served by a growing number of blogs and Elder Tunnels.  The loss of Trollszine is sad and probably unnecessary.

So what exactly is in FO! issue 13, T&T-wise?  I won't go into all of the graphics that are tributes to Ken, nor his quotes at the beginning of the mag.  These are all familiar to longtime fans.  The vast majority of the issue is still devoted to old school D&D, and I won't delve into that here other than to say check it out.  There are some interesting ideas and several (10?) adventures to loot.  Let me go over some of the T&T articles though.

Variant Kindred by Age of Fable: attribute modifiers for more kindred, including three for Tekumel.  Some of the kindred have special abilities or brief descriptions.

Battle School by KSA:  mini-solo for warriors.

The Lost Expedition of Martin Hidalgo by Andrew Trent: A tale of the three survivors of this adventure, statted for T&T, and two monsters encountered thereupon.  A clever idea.

An ad reminding us that KSA will be at OSRCon in Toronto 8.10 and 8.11.12 (so will Ed Greenwood and James Maliszewski).  Finally, a Con I might be able to get to.

Tricks & Treats for Tunnels & Trolls by Andreas Davour (of the Omnipotent Eye) and myself (with a sidebar by Calithena): this one has 7e houserules, new monsters, new talents, magic items, and combat saves and tricks.  Something for everyone, I should think.  Plus one of my monsters and a magic item have matching art.  It is funny...I was encouraging the trollspawn to write something up and submit it.  They asked what they could do, so I said keep it simple: monsters, magic items, or talents would be good.  Then I made up several things off the top of my head as examples, quickly ran to type them up, emailed them to Iggy within an hour, and there you go.  The trollspawn wrote up ideas, but failed to edit them, and so they were never submitted.  Shame.  They have been groomed on fantasy and gaming since birth and the oldest (13) may understand game mechanics, et cetera, better than me.

Mythal by Calithena: a setting, but also ideas on how to make a paladin and berserker work in T&T.

And there you have it, besides the pictures, cartoons, and KSA quotes.

Fight On! #13 Released

Fight On! has released its latest issue - lucky number 13 - dedicated to Ken St. Andre.  As with other issues, it is a solid offering, even if it is lighter in KSA-inspired content than I had hoped for.  Past issues of FO! have also featured articles/interviews with the game designer the issue was dedicated to.  Unless I have overlooked it, there is no such article in this issue.  There are quotes from the fourth edition of T&T at the beginning, however.  I even have an article in it - Tricks & Treats, grouped with Andreas Davour from the Omnipotent Eye blog.  It sports a Liz Danforth cover and there are a few other pieces of her art in the magazine.  Maybe once I have a chance to read through the issue in depth I'll comment on the T&T articles.

Friday, December 16, 2011

No Purple Mountain Tonight

No gaming tonight.  The two middle school trollspawn had to attend a school dance.  Instead I have a story to share.  This is a true story.

My oldest two trollspawn received their five-week grades in the mail last night.  The second oldest excitedly ripped open his envelope, eyes rapidly scanning the page.  "Wow," he said.  "What did I get a 106 in?"  The oldest, reading over his shoulder, replied, "That's your homeroom number."

Kopfihagen Island

Purple Mountain is just a dungeon, with no setting.  While I want the majority of play to happen in the dungeon, I also want there to be some interaction with the outside world.  As such, I've decided to use a made-for-T&T setting.  I've placed Purple Mountain on Kopfihagen Island, on the road between the city of Grimehaven and the fishing village of Fishhook, just south of Little Mountain.  Information about this region can be found in issues of the Elder Tunnels Summer-Fall (Halloween) 2010 and Summer 2011.  I plan to flesh this out more in play as needed, with permission and assistance of Tom Kopfy of Peryton Publishing.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Purple Mountain Play Report I

We started our Purple Mountain Campaign tonight.  I used the accompanying battle mat for level one - the Temple of the Locust Lord.  The trollspawn chose miniatures to represent their characters and we got right into it.  For today's session we jumped into the dungeon after a brief description of the surrounding area, which will be explored in much greater detail in the future.  But for tonight I wanted them to get right into the centerpiece of the campaign - the megadungeon.

In the dungeon, they battled the mites in entry chamber, winning with little difficulty.  Subduing one of the mites, the Leprechaun Specialist Mage cast Charmed, I'm Sure on it to serve as a minion.  [I renamed the Yassa Massa spell Charmed, I'm Sure, maybe 20 years ago.  Yassa Massa is, if not racist, at least something I'm not comfortable with.  Other than this spell, I'm fine with T&T's "silly" spell names and have never seen an issue with them, in spite of the somewhat widespread dislike of the spell names.]  After looting the bodies and searching the room, they moved on to another chamber.  This time they beat giant scorpions and flash beetles.  This is where we stopped after an hour and a half.

So, 90 minutes to set the stage and clear two rooms.  In my opinion this was slow progress compared to what I'm used to.  The play session was intentionally short, as we are playing with a child as young as 7.  However, using minis and the battle mat was something new...and time consuming.  While it was visually pleasing, I wonder how much it really added to the game.  It sure took a lot of extra time for me to print the maps, cut them, lay them out piece meal as they were explored, to say nothing of looking through minis and cardboard tiles for the appropriate monsters.  As I stated in a prior post, much of this is an experiment.  While I enjoy the actual content of the dungeon and think it will only get better, using minis isn't something I've done much, and I don't feel it enhances the game, at least for using T&T.  This isn't to criticize Purple Mountain.  I realize that for Pathfinder or D&D in many incarnations minis are important.  T&T combat isn't blow-by-blow, nor jockeying for position.  In fact, pinning characters down to specific squares on the map restricts the creative flow of a narrative approach.  Nevertheless, I am committed to using the battle mat throughout the first level.  I doubt I will do so for levels two and beyond.  Additionally, because I knew I would be blogging about this, I took the time to formally convert the adventure to T&T rules.  Normally I do this on the fly while playing; reading the adventure through once is sufficient on the ocassions I've used D&D adventures in the past because I know both rulesets well enough to do so.  In this case I've spent several hours to formally convert the rules over.  One of the reasons I enjoy T&T is so I don't need to spend hours constructing stat blocks, and so forth.  There is minimal prep.  None of this is meant to criticize Purple Mountain, Pathfinder, or D&D, just to identify differences in using T&T for a Pathfinder adventure.

After we complete the level, I will post my conversion notes for the original dungeon (Pathfinder rules) into my T&T house rules.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Purple Mountain Character Generation

So, last night we rolled the bones to generate four T&T characters to use in our Purple Mountain campaign.  We will be using my house rules for T&T 5.5e, all codified and spiffy.  More of how my ruleset varies form standard 5.5e as it become relevant (specialist mages from 7e are one example, as are talents, although I like my talents narrowish rather than broad).  As Temple of the Locust Lords calls for four first level PCs, and I have four trollspawn, it was a perfect fit.  So far, so good.  In addition to generating the basic T&T attributes, et cetera, I also had the players roll on a few charts of their choosing from Bob Liddil's fun 30 Sided Character (which they enjoy the quirkiness of, as do I) and also once from the Dungeon Motivation table from an early issue of Fight On! (by Paul Vermeren; sorry I don't recall which issue it appeared in off the top of my head).  They also described the character's appearance, decided on three personality traits, and came up with one secret to help flesh out the PCs a little.  What we ended up with is:

Delv'ain Elveric (played by Aeddon, 13) - Elven Wizard, talent: healing (INT)
Darikin the Banished aka 'Jim' (Alden, 11) - Half-Orc Rogue, talent: roguery (CHR)
Waterbeard (Alwyn, 9) - Dwarf Warrior, talent: brute force (STR)
ElDirk Lowlands (Arian, 7) - Leprechaun Specialist Mage (Communication), talent: pick locks (DEX)

I should note that I have been a longtime fan of the Flying Buffalo Catalyst products, so I long ago adapted the spell list to fit into Mike Stackpole's 8Cs of Magic.  Thus, rather than the four schools of magic that appear in 7e, I have eight schools.

Purple Mountain comes with no setting.  So I will be using some made-for-T&T material for that from Elder Tunnels.  This week I will figure out the setting details and work on converting the adventure from Pathfinder to T&T and we will start actual play next Friday.  After the players finish a level and are ready to move on I will post my conversion notes.  In the Temple of the Locust Lord there are lots of new monsters, spells, magic items, feats and more that I need to figure out how to handle in T&T.  More to come.

Friday, December 2, 2011

New Purple Mountain Campaign

After reading a review of the first level of Purple Mountain (Temple of the Locust Lord) at the fine Adventures and Shopping blog, I picked up the PDF and have decided to run it with my four trollspawn while my Demons & Wizards campaign is on hiatus over the winter.  [One of our players is blind and winter travel is too difficult for him.]  We'll be playing Friday nights while the trollwife is still at work.  Overall, I was impressed with what I saw in this megadungeon and it will be the 'tentpole' in a new campaign I began tonight (at least character generation).  Purple Mountain will have twenty levels, if all goes well with the Purple Ducks.

Because I do everything wrong ;), I will be running Purple Mountain using Tunnels & Trolls in lieu of the Pathfinder rules it is written for.  In addition to the dungeon PDF, the first level also has a companion 'battle mat' PDF.  I plan on using this as well - not for combat, per se (I don't feel restricting T&T combat in this way plays to T&T's strengths) - but for positioning, mapping, trap searching and the like.  This will be a new experience for me so I am curious to see how it will go.

What I will be attempting here, in addition to just having fun with the trollspawn, is to see how the conversion process goes between Pathfinder and T&T.  As the dungeon is intended to pair the characters' level with the dungeon level (i.e., 3rd level PCs should be exploring the dungeon's third level) it will be interesting to see how long this holds to be true.  While sharing the same fantasy roots, Pathfinder and T&T are quite different rulesets and I don't expect level correlations will be meaningful for long...but I've never attempted a level by level match up before.  It will also be interesting to see how Monster Ratings and Saving Rolls (SR) are impacted.  In T&T, in my experience, the base SR level is usually the same as the dungeon level, but there isn't a level to level pairing.  Usually the first level of a T&T dungeon is appropriate for 1st-3rd level characters (approximately).  While Pathfinder and D&D 3e in general have formulaic rules to make sure challenges and rewards are continually matched with character level (with all the weal and bane that goes with it), T&T is much more at the GM's whim and 'gut feeling', and all the good and ill associated with that approach.

In any case, this will be a grand experiment on many levels.  I plan to post my thoughts on the conversion process here, revealing how well it works and what I learn by the process.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Oh, my sad, neglected blog....  I always have such good intentions for you, and yet always leave you disappointed.

With my Demons & Wizards campaign on hiatus for the winter, I've been inspired by some new ideas.  This:


More to come....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Campaigns Starting

I am currently in the start-up mode of two new campaigns.  One will be a monthly girls-only group called The Devil You Know.  The other will be a weekly one for my children and my old friend I've known since '76 or '77 and played T&T with since '83.  In fact, it was his older brother who gave me my first copy of T&T!  The weekly campaign is called Demons & Wizards.  Devil has managed two sessions so far, and Demons one.  I intend to start doing session reports in the very near future, as soon as school starts back up and I get into my "normal" routine again.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blog Refocus

As I am starting a new campaign - The Devil You Know - I will give blogging about it and Tunnels & Trolls another go.  This campaign will feature an interesting dynamic, as all of the players are female.  TDYK is inspired by the music and imagery of Dio-led BlackSabbath/Heaven & Hell.

My intention is to post session reports here - guest written by the players - as well as discussion of issues that arise during play.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Session 7 (7.5) Play Report

The party finally enters the dungeon via the main entrance.  After avoiding the first two pits, Darged falls into the last one but suffers only minor injuries.  After, Ruffy smashes open the front doors with his warhammer.  In the room beyond is a statue of a humanoid wearing a stowed longbow and a sword.  As the party inspects it, its nearless featureless face flickers eerily.  It curses the party, affecting everyone other than Zalerc with mild insanity.

Pushing on, the party begins to explore the next chamber until they are ambushed by lurking goblins.  After a brief battle, the goblins surrender and agree to give up their treasure if the PCs will let them go.  The party agrees, and while they rifle through the coins and gems, the goblins slink off.