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Literary Inspirations » Planet of Adventure » 2/19/2019 10:21 pm

Well I finished the Planet of Adventure series by Jack Vance.  I'll admit that it did get better and had its moments, but overall I'm not super impressed with Vance.  Not sure I'll read anything else by him.  There were a few interesting characters and settings, but the novels overall were a bit slow and somewhat repetitive in that the plots were basically the same in a different setting.  Cool to have read it, but he's nowhere near the top of my favorite writers list.  At least I know where some of the other AS&SH monsters, like the Oon, come from.

Literary Inspirations » Lyonesse » 2/11/2019 11:42 pm

Just picked up the PoA series and I'm a bit over halfway through the first book.  So far I think it should be called Planet of Dullness but I'll push on through based on the recommendations here...

Rules Discussion » My Tentative Houserules. What do you think? » 2/09/2019 2:47 am

Speaking of criticals, our Labyrinth Lord party suffered their first casualty in the Barrowmaze tonight as Sir Godfrey, party leader and fearless paladin, fell to the scimitars of a bone golem, which inflicted a nasty critical made worse by exploding dice.  Ironically it was literally the last room the group had planned on exploring since they were already weakened and totally out of healing spells or potions.  He was avenged, however, as both bone golems in the room were similarly destroyed by criticals inflicted by the PCs.  That at least made his death epic and memorable.  They limped back to Helix laden with booty and using an unseen servant to carry the corpse...

Rules Discussion » My Tentative Houserules. What do you think? » 2/07/2019 10:45 pm

I forgot to add and didn't see it in the original post, but following the old MERP method, we allocate bonus xp for delivering or surviving criticals.  In general it's 50 xp per severity level of critical delivered (100-250 spread) and 100 xp per level of critical received (200-500 spread). 

So you may want to add this for survivors of your "super" crits!

Rules Discussion » My Tentative Houserules. What do you think? » 2/07/2019 10:38 pm

Like many others here, the supercritical system stood out for me.  Here is our version of criticals:

Natural 20 is a critical.  Roll a second d20:

1-15: x2 damage
16-17: x3 damage
18-19: x4 damage
20: x5 damage

The multiplier is applied after all bonuses.  And we use exploding dice.  This also applies to healing spells so you can benefit there.  For damage causing spells, if the target rolls a 1 on their save, crit rules apply as above.

Fumbles occur on a natural 1.  That means you lose an action the next round and may incur an AC penalty.

For death, characters are unconscious at 0 hit points and dead at -10.  They have a number of minutes equal to their constitution score to be brought back to 0 or they die.  Also, anyone taking more than 50 points of damage from a single attack (like a spell or breath weapon) must make a system shock roll or die.

Incidentally we also have a few other special rules that might apply criticals for certain characters.  For example we have an organization of undead slayers in our campaign world.  They instantly kill undead with certain rolls.  It's a natural 20 for levels 1-4; 19-20 for levels 5-8; 18-20 for levels 9-12; and 17-20 for levels 13 and above.

Sorcery » The Dark Treasury » 1/26/2019 10:42 am

Thanks, I literally have three different campaign notebooks I'm using now to jot down ideas and keep track of all the threads and permutations emerging.  Fortunately, both the character parties I'm running are still low to mid levels (3-6) so they won't be high enough to go through this projected campaign for awhile.  But many seeds are already being planted.

Adventures » Solo/One-on-One Adventures » 1/26/2019 10:36 am

This guy with a pen name of Kabuki Kaiser did a couple Asian-themed supplements, Mad Monks of Kwantoom, and The Flower Liches, that include solo adventures in them.  With a bit of work you could port them (literally, as Kwantoom is a port city) into Hyperborea or the Hyborian Age, especially if you're wanting your character to go to Khitai.

General Discussion » Sources for Cool Maps » 1/20/2019 9:41 pm

Sweet!  Just what I was looking for.  I just bought several maps from them.

General Discussion » Sources for Cool Maps » 1/19/2019 1:02 pm

Thanks; yeah I've gotten a few from there in the past.

Sorcery » The Dark Treasury » 1/19/2019 11:15 am

Brock Savage wrote:

I'd like to suggest another classic volume.

The King in Yellow. A thin black volume with a large Yellow Sign embossed across the cover. The text is an ambiguous, dream-like play in three parts describing the succession of royalty in an alien city. It reveals truth as a phantom and the essential hopelessness of man's search for meaning in a cold and dispassionate universe, exposing readers to madness. Spells: The Yellow Sign.

The Library of Khromarium will pay handsomely for its return.

Hey Brock--

I've decided to make this volume, or a modified version of it, the hook to the whole campaign.  At the beginning of the campaign, the party attends a birthday party for a famous magician named Uriah.  One of the gifts he receives is a copy of The King in Yellow.  This historical piece details the rise and fall of the aforementioned king, also known as the Yellow Emperor of ancient Leng.  His use of the Dark Treasury resulted in the destruction of his kingdom, but the power of the works nonetheless holds great attraction for certain evil individuals and factions.  Shortly after the birthday party the book will be stolen and the magician will be assassinated.  Thus will begin a series of fetch quests in a sandbox style of sorts to gather the Dark Treasury or thwart others from doing so.  In fact, one group is going to try and resurrect the King in Yellow, whose trap-laden tomb is hidden somewhere in the environs of the ruined city of Sarkomand.

Thanks for the inspiration!

General Discussion » Sources for Cool Maps » 1/19/2019 9:34 am

While I have little trouble coming up with adventure ideas for my home campaign, I'm not that pleased with my map-making skills.  So I often crib maps in whole or in part from other sources or even purchase maps or map collections from online sources.  I got some great maps back in the 90s from Wyrm Works and I've picked up others over the years. 

Among the best maps in modules I've re-purposed are those from Iron Crown's MERP game.  I'm actually thinking about using their massive Dol Guldur module and re-purposing its maps for Mount Vhuurmathidon since its description in the rulebook of warrens with strange monsters leading to cyclopean deeps seems to fit how Iron Crown designed Dol Guldor.  I think I'll use Orthanc for the Tower of Ghul.  I also use real world stuff.  I'm trying to find a schematic of Angkor Wat for a yuan-ti/snake man city in the jungles of a fallen empire in my regular campaign world. 

Just curious if others had suggestions for good map sources.

Television and Film » Cold Skin (2017) » 1/13/2019 11:23 am

Watched this on Shudder last night.  Great, creepy setup, but I thought the movie lost a bit of steam as it dragged along.  I agree that the premise could be easily adapted for an AS&SH adventure.  Along these lines I've long had dreams of adapting parts of the Call of Cthulhu adventures "Beyond the Mountains of Madness" for a fantasy setting and seeing this film brings this to mind.  I'll soon be getting my copy of Realms of Crawling Chaos for Labyrinth Lord, so that may add more potential ideas.  I'm thinking this can fit somewhere into my Dark Treasury campaign arc.  So many ideas, so little time...

General Discussion » I'm starting a new Hyperborea game. Any advice? » 1/10/2019 11:49 pm

I should add that our group has played several of the official published adventures, including "Black Moss Hag of Lug," (in the rulebook), "Anthropophagi of Xambaala," "Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes," and "Mystery at Port Greely" and these are great in helping convey the flavor of the setting.  So you might want to check some of those out, especially if you don't have time to create a bunch of your own scenarios.  (Note: Jeff/Ghul did not put me up to this

My current plan (I'm the DM) is to complete all the published scenarios, then, at the higher levels, put the party into my own adventures, which will be tied into a Labyrinth Lord campaign I'm running simultaneously with many of the same players.  It will be like those cross-over TV shows.  Throughout the earlier stages of these campaigns I'm dropping clues that will eventually bring the two PC parties together for a grand finale (I hope).

General Discussion » I'm starting a new Hyperborea game. Any advice? » 1/10/2019 11:40 pm

Welcome to the game and this board!

I ditched the initiative too (we use d10), but as the others have noted, you can play it pretty much like straight D&D if you like.  The single saving throw is convenient and make sure you keep track of fighting and casting ability, since they don't always correspond to level.  One thing I'd recommend is trying out the sub-classes.  Our character party consists of a huntsman, a berserker, a scout, a shaman, a pyromancer, and a cryomancer.  So it feels a bit different, but familiar enough to what we all grew up playing.  There are some cool spells available for these sub-classes that add a different vibe to the game that our group has enjoyed a lot.

Adventures » Mystery at Port Greely » 1/08/2019 2:21 pm

Interestingly enough our group of players also chose not to take the ship from Ghost Ship.  They saw it as a hassle and they were freaked out about the effects of the green diamonds.  The one thing they did take, which will have implications later, was the Staff of Stygian Purpose out of the Xambaala adventure.

Adventures » Mystery at Port Greely » 1/08/2019 12:39 pm

They did get to the attic, but left the demon there; even taunted him a bit!  They did not divine the purpose of Merlokk's scepter because they torched him before he got a chance to activate it and the automaton.  So they simply took the scepter as loot.

Adventures » Mystery at Port Greely » 1/03/2019 10:32 pm

With the long university holiday we managed to squeeze another day of gaming in and our group tackled the Mystery at Port Greely.  A bit challenging in that a couple players are big Lovecraft fans and obviously know the story but they did a good job of staying in character.
A few highlights (and spoilers for those who haven't played the module):

The party are a suspicious lot and mostly foiled the bartender by having the huntsman, who has a periapt of proof against poison, down most of the drinks.

They did pretty well in town, but got captured and freed by the drunk and set off for the islands.  And the scout got blinded by the glyph in the temple so he was largely out of commission, though he donned a ring of invisibility for the duration. 
Luckily they searched the lighthouse and found the wand of freezing, which the cryomancer put to devastating use later.  In the Temple of the Deep Dwellers, there were a couple interesting developments.  The blinded scout managed to backstab and kill the guard captain with some crazy rolling.  Then, after they got caught by the trap leading to the aboleth lair, they met Mother Hydra, who rose from the pool (they discovered the illusory bridge) and immediately took out the huntsman and the berserker with tentacle attacks.  As the shaman tended to them with cure disease scrolls, the cryomancer nailed the aboleth with her wand of freezing and killed her in one strike due to exploding dice (and the fact that the wand works better for cryomancers).
In the subsequent battle with the sub-chiefs, thanks to a critical, the berserker, recently cured of his potential transformation into a fish-man, was reduced to a single hit point.  But they forged on after rescuing the prisoners and determined that the high priest must be in the last chamber.  So, using a wand of phantasm, they created an illusion of the sub-chiefs bringing prisoners to Merlokk.  This bought them time for the shaman to cast darkness on him from her Staff of S

General Discussion » First Character Created » 1/02/2019 9:06 pm

rhialto wrote:

Spider of Leng wrote:

I still do all my campaign notes and adventure writing by hand.

I usually do as well, though sometimes I do manage to type them up as I go. I bought some RPG journals for one of our players, and she's an amanuensis in truth: a running record of our sessions, all hand-written. We usually go a few weeks between sessions, so her records are a godsend, even for the Ref...

Back in the late '90s, when I was playing MERP, one of our players kept a detailed journal that I still have.  It was definitely helpful.  Off and on I've written up my own notes.  The most extensive was for a BECMI campaign (ca. 2003-2012 intermittently) that took the PCs from 1st level to immortality and used the vast majority of the published TSR adventures and all the gazetteers.

General Discussion » First Character Created » 1/02/2019 4:35 pm

I've also got many of my old adventures too, though ironically I won a module design contest at Walden Books when I was in 8th grade but I don't seem to have that adventure anymore.  It had something to do with kobolds.

I still do all my campaign notes and adventure writing by hand. 

In fact I still take all my notes for my published academic stuff on 3x5 index cards, then type the manuscripts from the cards.  I'm old school in many ways, I guess.  Hell, I still collect CDs and I was making mix tapes until last year when I traded in my old car that had the cassette deck in it...

General Discussion » First Character Created » 12/31/2018 1:22 pm

As I was putting together the marching order for our group's upcoming foray to Port Greely, I realized that today marked the 37th (yikes) anniversary of my entry to role-playing games.  For Christmas in 1981 my mom got me the red basic (Moldvay) boxed set.  I read through the rules and on New Year's Eve, 1981, my brother and my best friend and I all created our first characters.  Mine was Persimmon, an elf who was somewhat patterned after Legolas, of course.  My friend Greg created Kanda the dwarf and my brother made Gorrdon, a fighter. 

Anyone else have fond first character memories?

P.S.--The rest of that first party included Zircon the magic-user, Diende the thief, Father Rozemas the cleric, and Crom the halfling.

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