Archive for October, 2014


Looking back over the last Four Months as November draws Near

31 October, 2014

Happy All Hallows Day and Eve all!  Enjoy costumes, food and whatever else one does on this lovely holiday!

Tomorrow is the beginning of November with All Saints Day.  November is the ninth month of the Roman calendar, and -in the traditional Irish calendar- the start of Winter (and it is even making the attempt to get a little cold here).   Tomorrow also sees the beginning of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which I will be participating in, as usual, and perhaps I will even complete it this time.

In light of that, and seeing no obvious theme to November I will just write about whatever inspires me.   I will keep up with the Tuesday magic items and whatever else I can fit.  However, if you have any requests, anything you would like to see or any theme you would like me to expand upon, please let me know and I will try to fit it in.

July through October, 2014, saw the following posts here on the design journal:

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Shadowrun 2070 Campaign Report and New Seattle Scream (#46)

30 October, 2014

It has been sometime since my last update (unless you count PinkCat‘s) but Shadowrun has been continuing, the shared campaign has slowed considerably, with two GMs mostly dropping out of running, but the NorCal branch is still going on (expect another episode of Running in the Shade soon).

Turnout was been low for the last game, only three players, which was interesting as I have been used to six player plus groups but nice as I can actually pay attention to everyone and there is very little confusion.  Unfortunately, we are losing one of our newer (but dedicated) players who is following his wife to New England.  We will miss you player of “Bob”!

So, the players have interfered with a concert stage (partly by highjacking it for an unofficial show, which also signaled the retirement from Shadowrunning of Moonshadow), stolen items from a yakuza safehouse, and recovered a hidden item from a deconstruction site.  Only one of which is reflected in the latest issue of the Seattle Scream (#46).


Tuesday Magic Item – Sword of Libertas

28 October, 2014

Use for freedom“Stand aside for your betters,” commanded the guard in his colorful uniform.  “You move!”  He prodded a young woman with a cane who was moving with insufficient haste.

“Why?” she asked, hobbling aside.

“Because your ruler, the Tsar of Nyris, should not be delayed by rabble such as you,” sniffed the guard.

The woman muttered something and stepped away.  The mood of the other people did not seem improved by the actions of the guard.  A few moments later as the Tzar arrived, the woman stepped forward, her cane becoming a flaming sword.  “Now it is time for tyranny to end and freedom to rise!” she called as the rabble surged to attack.

Sword of Libertas

This sword is a remarkably plain weapon, notable only for the word freedom etched on one side of the blade and liberty on the other.  It also has the ability to change into a simple rod which can be used as a walking stick or otherwise easily concealed.

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Review – The Manor, Issue 7

27 October, 2014

The Manor, Issue 7 is a short publication dedicated to the OSR (Old School) branch of fantasy roleplaying.  This issue contains the following articles:

  • Boltswitch’s Mobile Potion Emporium, a traveling seller of potions, all done through prose which is an interesting choice.
  • Skinwalker, a trickster/minor shapeshifter class based on the Native American view of Coyote.  Short and direct, my have a place in some campaigns.
  • Mirror, Mirror, a selection of rather potent magical mirrors.  While I would not use them as written, good inspiration.
  • Trouble in the Well, a short adventure for when you need something to fill time between largest adventures which is always useful.
  • Horrid Caves, a longer adventure exploring a cave network containing things from the distant past and ancient magics.  I had great fun running this adventure for my Pathfinder group.
  • Lastly, a Mindflayer Haiku and picture wraps this issue up, disturbing but amusing.

All in all, quite fun and full of tools for OSR (or other fantasy) games.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.


Pattern Seekers – Episode 16: ‘Orrible Caves

26 October, 2014

Shortly after their last task, recovering an amber box  our three active venturers (Mirror, the unstable wizard, Tack, the pirate, and Thea, the adventurous druid, with her lioness Pho) are summoned before the Shaper.  The Shaper explains that the expansion of the Complex has encountered a . . . space which her other agents are ill-suited to explore.

A rift had opened in the side of the Complex, inside was a cave the floor thick with dust and a body.  Tack poked at it and it collapsed, releasing a cloud of foul gas.  They fled back into the Complex, led by Pho, and waited for the noxious fumes to disperse.  Having been provided with beetle based light sources, they again ventured in.

Exploration, encounters with undead husks, carnivorous snails, ancient idols, things from before history and other strangeness follow.  While occasionally pushed hard, they managed to avoid being killed or consumed by anything and they survived, gaining information and odd magic items out of it all.

Notes: This adventure used the Horrid Caves from The Manor, Issue 7, hastily converted to Pathfinder as its basis for a nice semi-creepy adventure.



Campaign Report – Evard’s Black Orchestra*, the Grossdunkleweg Variation

25 October, 2014

*the greatest musical show that hasn’t happened yet, name subject to revision (it is noted as such on all their posters).

Welcome to  Grossdunkleweg

Scenic Grossdunkleweg

So, our heroes(?), well, the band is en route to Vine for the Dominion Court Music Tournament, traveling by coach overs the mountains.  The band, with all of its hangers on, is so large that they have to be split between two coaches.  The second coach hits a rock and damages its rear wheel so they have to unload the passengers and husband the  coach to the nearest town, Grossdunkleweg, luckily only a few miles away for repairs, a sleepy little mining town.  The first coach, having Imperial post to deliver, continues on.  Thus do Amethyst, Jet and Ren, along with the three dancers, embark on a new adventure.

The first thing that greets them in the town is the spire of the Church of the Undying Sun, which makes Jet unhappy as he has had . . . issues with Sun Sects in the past.  The coach crew, Klaus and Ahmed, take the damaged wheel to the town’s blacksmith, Hilda, an ex-soldier.  Ren decides to stay and help and learn a bit about blacksmithing, which ends up mostly being told what a blacksmith does and working the bellows.  Amethyst, Jet and the dancer head to the inn, the Black Dog, for drink and food.  There they are served weisswurst, dark beer and rye bread while they try to convince the innkeeper, Hannah, to employ them as entertainers.  This meet with less enthusiasm than they think they deserve, so they head out to find the mayor, Ren joining them.

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Review – Halloween Horrors

22 October, 2014

Halloween Horrors provides six supernatural foes suitable for modern superhero games, though they could easily be adjusted to find modern horror games as well.  A good source of inspiration for horror-based adventures, nothing too deep here but the horrors are easy to use and should spark an adventure when you need one.

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New Magic Item – Ghost-Maker

21 October, 2014

An old sword and older curse“This town looks familiar . . .” the old warrior looked about suspiciously.

“It has changed hands recently,” the squire said, “my Lord took it in glorious battle.  That is why it is called Karlsburg now, after Sir Karl who lead the final assault.”

“What was it called before?” the warrior’s hand dropped to the hilt of the worn sword.

“Does it matter?  I think it was Ostbridge.”

“No, not Ostbridge,” wailed the old warrior in terror and took off running.

The warrior was never seen again, but the sword was found in a circle of blood at the edge of town, near to where a massacre had happened several decades before when a group of wounded soldiers was ambushed and slaughtered.  Local rumor said it was haunted and such rumors only intensified after the warrior’s disappearance.


This sword is of an antique design and has seen much hard use, looking closely on the blade, there is faint indication that runes were once etched along it. The hilt is made of yellowed ivory usually wrapped. The blade is cold to the touch and blood does not cling to it.

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Superhero RPG Appendix N Challenge

20 October, 2014

So, Barking Alien has challenged us Superhero RPG GMs to:

[L]ist between 5 and 10 Superhero comic books, and 5 to 10 Superhero live action or animated shows or films, that typify your style of Superhero RPG campaign.

Minimum is 5. Maximum is 10. This means you have to really think about the ones that best embody the type of Supers gaming you prefer. Who’s up for the challenge?

So, let me give it a shot.


Astro City, Busiak’s love of comics and appreciation of the craziness of the genre is evident across this entire series.  Very inspirational.

The Doom Patrol, especially Grant Morrison’s run, I love the hardluck superheroes of the Doom Patrol, people who did not want superpowers yet are willing to use them to help others and the Chief is fantastic in his madness.

Planetary, the exploration of the secret history of a supers world is fascination, while it has occasional missteps, overall a fantastic series.

Power Man and Iron Fist, Heroes for Hire, hitting my love of street level superhero and supervillains.  Yes, a bit blinkered in its sensibilities but Marvel was trying to reach out, I think, even if they had a tin ear every now and then.

(New) Teen Titans, the Perez/Wolfman run primarily, teen supers managing the best they can both in the shadow of the established heroes and with their own enemies.

Zenith, Morrison’s first superhero comic and suitably dark yet poppy with amazing art by Steve Yeowell (and now being re-released after being out of print for years).

I am sure there are others, my interest these days is more along the lines of Silver Age heroics, when heroes were heroes and villains were villains with crazy shticks.

Other Media

Doctor Who, he is a superhero without a doubt and he fights all sorts of bizarre supervillains and a good warning about how difficult it is to use time travel in a game.

Greatest American Hero, again, someone trying to manage the best they can with powers they can only just manage.

The Specials, a little known live action superhero movie that is more a slice of life story, it is just that the people involved happen to be part of a super team.

Teen Titans, a great blend between action heroics and light comedy.  I was very sad when they shut this series down.

The Tick, both animated and live action, truly but lovingly embraced the insanity that a world filled with superheroes would lead to.  (The comics are good too.)

I am willing to look in on most any superhero themed show or movie (and I am enjoying both the Flash and Gotham so far) and I am sure there is more media I should put up there, but nothing is leaping to mind.


Review – the Tome of Twisted Things (for Pathfinder)

15 October, 2014

While not for every campaign, the Tome of Twisted Things is full of interesting and useful ideas and resources that could be easily incorporated into a campaign.  Mostly they will fit into a campaign world where the fight between good and evil is brutal and where good is losing ground that is the sort of situation where the Darkborn and Avengers would thrive.  My only real complaint is the pinkish background of the PDF which is a little disturbing to stare at.

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