Friday, April 28, 2017

The Midderlands - A First Look

I've been thinking a lot about parallel universes lately.  As an example I recently had a conversation with +MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal) about the Midderlands product that he has been working on.  Email parallel universes are even weirder, as part of the discussion was originally about the Midderlands, but then I turned it on him and said "hey man here are your interview questions".  It's very much the whole chicken and the egg thing.  So instead of posting about the Midderlands first, I posted the interview instead.  All of this might be the other way around in a different version of the universe.  Interesting note though, The Midderlands is based on a part of England where Glynn lives.

The Midderlands itself is a twisted, medieval-fantasy version of a region fifty-miles across centred on where I live in England.  It’s an S&W Complete-based, OSR, mini-campaign setting with bestiary of monsters/NPCs and race-classes, and a hex-map, and whilst it’s not a hex-crawl, it could be used as such as some hexes are described.


So I'm currently digitally pawing thru a copy of Midderlands (a current draft).  First thing that strikes me is an "OSR Mini Setting", second thing I notice is that its a 155 pages.

Things to note:  Weird shit happens in the Midderlands, The Gods are disinterested in the place (although they are aware of it).  There is a lot of wonderful tongue in cheek humour (which I absolutely adore).

Here's the run down of the coolness of this "mini" setting.  First off it's not mini whatsoever.  Just reading thru it I keep getting inspired, ever single page there is a nugget of something that makes me go "Yes! this would be cool!".  There's a whole section on the variety of fish in the Midderlands, there are places of interest, monsters, classes, random tables, detailed hex map locations and a included adventure.  Everything you want in a setting.  And not written in the typical boring setting style.

I'm going to say there's a good 40+ monsters in this book.

Glynn has a cool collection of tidbits, maps, images that are going to be used in the Midderlands, you can follow it here:  https://plus.google.com/collection/wJJXME 

As far as the humour is concerned, it's honestly the kind of stuff that I always giggle at.  I personally think that a lot of adventures and modules take themselves a little too seriously, and this is a welcome change.

Hex 1122 provoked some much needed Monty Python type discussions.  At the table I could see this one being super entertaining.  And honestly this is just a taste.  There is a lot of great stuff in the hexes.

As the draft stands now it is easily run-able as a setting, I am curious to see what the end result is going to be however.

The nice thing about it so far (I'm currently reading it) is that its one of those settings that you can go in and tinker under the hood.  I've often talked about my hate for the cannon of the Forgotten Realms, and how it feels like I'm destroying something, because so much has been written about it.

The Midderlands gives you more than enough ammo to get cooking.  And I can only guess that by the time it is done, there will be a helluva a lot more awesome.

The layout is fantastic, the art and maps are what you have come to expect from Monkey Blood Design.

Spying over the fence there is a conversation on Gee Plus about what Glynn would like to see in the final product, and if that happens (even if its a special edition) it's going to break new ground.

I can't wait for this one.  As I stated earlier, it's inspiring.  There is something on every page, whether its a graphic, a interesting line, or a cool table.

At this point obviously this is still in its draft form, but WOW I can't wait to run this.  I'm thinking what might be a fun mashup is to take the Midderlands (look at the map) and to the east put in "Pyramid Of The Lost King" from Genius Loci Games. 

All images contained in this post are copyright Monkey Blood Design (2017), all rights reserved.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Session 1 - Mutant Future - I'll never sleep well again

Last night we reconvened the old school group to play some Mutant Future!  I have been so excited to run this.  Now that I have had the opportunity to, I have a few thoughts on the game.

On monday evening, my wife and I created a character for her.  She decided on a mutant plant.  One smart thing she did was not decide on exactly what type of plant she was until after we finished rolling up mutations.  She decided that she was a cactus named "ouch!" because that's what happens when people touch her (she is covered in thorns).  Character creation took a little while the first time around (more time than just regular old school D&D).  Last night we got together with the gang and created everyone elses characters.  I wound up with another mutant plant (Juce the apple tree), a mutant human, a mutant animal Komodo dragon (arrfllahgh!) and a android SPAH (which stands for something super entertaining that I can't remember off hand).  All of the rest of character generation went reasonably quickly, as none of them were allowed weapons whatsoever.  So there wasn't the long shopping trip like usual.  It seemed like a bunch of the players managed to get the "Immune to cold" mutation, which kinda sucks for me, oh well.


The premise of the adventure is nuclear winter, 150 years in the future in Manitoba, Canada.  The players are strapped down to a slave wagon and are promptly rescued by a group of royal Canadian mounted police (humanoid polar bears, cuz right!).

The polar bears leave them to their own devices.  They loot the bodies of their captors, and find a hex map, a note for delivery of slaves to the "pure alliance" plot thread, and a key.  The key we will get to.

The slave wagon was being hauled by 2 spider goats.  Cue "I'll never sleep again!" being yelled by one of my players.  I even included some fun sound effects like hissing "bah" noises.

The players decide to set off in the direction of the polar bears that rescued them.  After a few hours they catch up with them.  The apple tree throws a apple at one of them to get their intention.  The MP's introduce themselves, discuss a few plot threads and then decide to camp with the group for the evening.  They build an igloo.

Random encounter checks.... nothing.

The next morning the players decide to go back towards the slave wagon, as there is a small town near there.  It is at this point they realize they are in Manitoba.  The town is called Gimli

walking past the slave wagon, they notice a scavenger looking thru it, kicking a metal box on top of the wagon (which they previously didn't notice).  They scare off the scavenger and take a look at the box.  One of the players uses a mutation to blow the box open.  Inside they find their old equipment, leather armour, some backpacks, rations, and a few pen caps.  I have each player roll 1d6 for a starting weapon.

1.  Dagger
2.  Club
3.  Short Bow and arrows
4.  Spear
5.  Short Sword
6.  Sling and 20 stones.

NOTE:  The currency in my game was going to be CAPS, however every time i said "caps" the players thought I said "pencaps".  So from hence forth, pen caps is going to be the currency. 



The players make their way towards Gimli, they find the gates of the town built out of old cars.  In a beaten up old apartment building a guard stands duty.  A large evergreen tree mutant holds a semi automatic rifle.

Most of the inhabitants of Gimli live underground where it is a bit warmer.  As I only had so much time, I created only what I thought I would need.  a tavern and a shop.  I used actual names of locations in Gimli.

The players decide to check out "Riverside Pawn" and find a large burly proprietor named "Newman!" He has a pair of glasses, with one broken lense and is quite frugal with his prices.  Anything in the game book that is 10 GPs and under is available for sale.

Newman is in need of some delivery men and women to bring some tech to a guy named "whiz" who lives in the forests to the east of the town.  The caveat is that the tech needs to be secreted out of town, so that the tech hungry MPs don't get their hands on it and confiscate it.  Newman gives the players a few hand grenades and some old school muskets as payment.

He also talks to them about how the political atmosphere has become a problem in town.  The current mayor's rule has been called into question by the MPs that live in the area.  Due to his overwhelming mutations he hasn't been making good decisions.

After a brief stop at the tavern "Dockside Inn", and a bit of information gathering we called it for the e evening.

Now I have some more writing to do.  I didn't have enough time to sit and create every single hex, so I am going to have to do that.  Now that I know which direction they are going.

Thoughts on the game.

I decided to use descending AC and roll under ability checks.  I was a bit hesitant because I thought the players might have an issue with it.  They roll with the punches no problem.  What I did find however is that I need to create myself a games masters screen.  I know there is one out, but I'll just work on it myself.

A few things were a bit of a problem for me:

Monster saving throws - I need a chart

The mind attack matrix was problematic.

Any attack with a mutation? Obviously if its a mind attack I roll up the willpower of the baddy and have the player either A.  roll over that for it to take effect, or B. use mind attack matrix.  I had considered doing an opposed roll, but seemed more problematic.

If its a physical mutation attack, i wasn't sure if it should be automatic? or if its should be a regular attack roll?

I think what I'm going to do is create a basic saving throw table for monsters based on HD.  Regardless of what type of saving throw it neesd to be.  That will make it easier for me.

Other than that I thought mechanically the game went very well!



 

Monday, April 24, 2017

It's your turn - An interview with Glynn from Monkey Blood Design.

1. How did you get your start roleplaying? What system did you use?

Back when I was around twelve or thirteen, a good friend of mine introduced me to the game.  We initially played Mentzer Red Box D&D, and then moved onto AD&D, which is where I started to DM games myself.


2. How and when did you discover the OSR?

On G+ about 3-4 years ago, although I have collected all the old modules for years, so finding the Revival/DIY scene was fantastic!

3. Tell me about Monkey Blood Design, How did it start?

I was painting miniatures/modelling, as well as drawing map symbols and posting my work on G+.  I was contacted by ProFantasy to work on a symbol set and that pushed my brain into thinking that what I was doing was worthwhile and valuable to others.  I then decided I would formally build on that and created MBD. It really took off, and I’ve had little spare time since haha 😊

4. Tell me about your upcoming release “The Midderlands”?

My first ever MDB-published work was The DemonStones.  It’s got two flavours, Pathfinder and S&W Complete.  This was effectively an experiment to learn about the whole self-publishing scene and see if I could do it.  

I see that as the groundwork for The Midderlands.  Firstly, here is a link to the G+ page where I put a lot of the WIP posts;


The Midderlands itself is a twisted, medieval-fantasy version of a region fifty-miles across centred on where I live in England.  It’s an S&W Complete-based, OSR, mini-campaign setting with bestiary of monsters/NPCs and race-classes, and a hex-map, and whilst it’s not a hex-crawl, it could be used as such as some hexes are described.

Midderlands sample/WIP map below (keep in mind this is a WIP and things will change a bit, it's however super friggin cool!). 



I like to think that the book contains a lot of “game-juice”.  No rigidly-defined character and history, but more seeds to allow a GM to go where they want with it.  I’ve tried not to over-describe everything, but just make it engaging and hopefully useful and fun.  Many of the locations exist but I’ve put a Midderlands spin on them.  For example; Blacken Rock in Hex 1816 is described as such;

Blacken Rock

For a start, it’s not black. A large, dark-grey boulder some ten-feet across sits here next to a small pond. This boulder is not of local stone, and there appears no explicable reason why the fifty-tonne piece of solid hellstone should be here.  Hellstone is only found in the northern parts of Scrotland. This strange stone is flecked with crimson glass-like deposits, and reported to ward off evil spirits. Many “treasure-hunters” have tied to chip off chunks of this super-hard substance - all to no avail. No-one has ever managed to budge the boulder, not even Big Owge from Alderwych.  It is based on this in real-life; http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2652579.  I’ve worked on a lot of the setting writing, and setting look-feel, the initial creature illustrations, cartography and layout.

These endeavors are rarely one person’s work though, so I have had help from Edwin Nagy with the creature/class builds and mechanics. He has done a lot of work with Zach over at Lesser Gnome (now Frog God Games) with Death & Taxes and The First Sentinel. Edwin worked with me on The Demon Stones conversion to S&W previously, and he’s awesome! I’ve also got some supplemental artwork in progress with Jim Magnusson. We have mutually admired each other’s work for quite a while and it’s been great to have him on-board the process.  It’s still work-in-progress, but currently weighing in at 150 pages in A5 format at the moment. I expect it to be PoD with some way of getting printed versions of the setting map (which I have to finalise). I have a liking for profanity too, so there could be swear words involved – be aware.

5. What are you currently playing?

I don’t get to play as often as I would like as the day-job, family commitments and MBD take up pretty much all my spare time. I do however currently play in an occasional campaign of The Cthulhu Hack by Paul Baldowski. It’s a friend’s game and I play a Smuggler called Joe Malone.


6. If you could campaign in any world which would it be?

When I was younger I played in Lankhmar A LOT.  I even overthrew the overlord and ruled it.  For years it was Forgotten Realms though.  I played Dungeons & Dragons Online for a few years and really got to like Ebberon.  As it stands nowadays, I really like the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea setting created by Jeff Talanian.  I worked on the large world map for the 2nd edition, soon to be released) so I got to study it in detail.  Jeff has created a beautifully-rich setting and game.  Also, I’ve spent a lot of time working with Venger over at Kort’thalis and his Alpha Blue setting is a marvelous kaleidoscope of gonzo, sleazy sci-fi action with extra pleasure!



7. Tell me about your art & cartography, when did you start? What your influences?

I’ve been a technical drawing guy since I left school, so that’s has shaped a lot of the ability.  I’ve always loved to draw since I was a kid, so when all that comes together with a hobby you love, it’s like a dream.  I love the work of Mike Schley, and going old school Paul Ruiz (Geoff Wingate) of the UK series of TSR modules and Imagine magazine.

8. Who is your favourite artist and or author?

Artist is probably anyone from the 80’s that worked on Citadel products, like Tony Ackland and John Blanche. Author is Raymond E. Feist (Magician, Silverthorn, Darkness at Sethanon)

9. What is one of your favorite adventures other than something that you’ve released (or worked on)?

I loved the 3E City of the Spider Queen – I GM’d it and wiped the party out in Szith Morcane.  Not sure if they have forgiven me yet. I have fond memories of playing CM3 Sabre River
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabre_River) and the gold piece hoard, as well as the Lankhmar modules.



10. When you get a chance to play a character, what type of PC do you like to play?

Usually a meat-head fighter if I don’t want to do much thinking. There is something intensely satisfying about rolling big dice when you score critical hits.



11. What are you most excited about in the RPG scene currently?

Crikey, there is so much. The amount of talent is overwhelming.  The Scandinavians are creating some of the best-looking stuff I’ve seen outside of the indie-scene.  Tales of the Loop, Mutant Year Zero, Symbaroum – lovely to flick through and admire art and layout alone.

12. Would you rather be a Tiefling or an Orc?

Orc = meathead, so Orc.


13. What are the plans for Monkey Blood Design this year?

Get The Midderlands out, and continue to offer my services. Hopefully I will be as luck this year as last. I’ve got all manner of personal projects bubbling away. I’ve also worked on a big project for LotFP for 13 months, so that should manifest this year, as well as Clint Krause’s Driftwood Verses, Venger Satanis’ Trinity of Awesome Returns, Jeff Talanian’s AS&SH 2E, Liz Chaipraditkul’s Monster, amongst others.

14. Cheezies or Nacho Chips?

We don’t have Cheezies here in the UK, but they look like Cheetos in the US or cheesy Nik Naks here in the UK. Nacho chips are presumably Doritos in the UK. To be honest I don’t like either much… but give me Smokey Bacon-flavoured anything and I’m like a rat up a pipe.

15. Where can we find you on the web?
My web-site which I really, really need to update and restructure;

I am always found lurking on my Google Plus stream;

I can also be found lurking on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest




Thursday, April 20, 2017

Session 1 is coming up next week

By the sounds of it we will be getting together next week to start playing some mutant future.  I've been slowly planning the world the last few months.  I tend to do a bit to much procrastinating though, this weekend I need to frame up a few last minute things.

This isn't over planning so much as just laying out general things.

I plan to attempt to run the game by the book, use descending AC, and 3d6 or 4d6 checks, using roll under.

Of course, we will see how that goes! It's relatively easier to hack and convert if the players don't quite get it.

The other day I posted on g+ that I needed some help, and was overwhelmed with some responses! Thank you very much, I appreciate it!  I was just trying to figure out a few things to kickstart the adventure and now i have many! (thanks +Scott Charlton +Terra Frank +Kirwyn and +Steve Grod for giving me a kick in the butt, and getting me going).

So sometime this weekend I have 2 little dungeons to write up, and I'm good to go! All i need to do is grab my super cool original gamma world screen and bag up my books, pencils and dice.

I also should go looking for a cool hand drawn mutant future character sheet, I'm sure there is a nifty one out there.

As a side note, this was a good read.

http://maziriansgarden.blogspot.ca/2017/04/old-schools-manifesto.html

I realized, publishing wise, I've played it safe and created a lot of "stock adventures" that can be plopped into any setting.  Or atleast any setting with orcs and fairies.  

The conundrum of course is if you create something cool and unusual, some people might take it as to far from the norm.  And if you create something standard, well the people that like cool and unusual while also be mildly upset.  Grand scheme of things is you can't please everyone hahah.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

f**ked up dream leads to lotfp adventure idea

A big thanks to champix and not smoking for this crazy dream.  I took my pill last night a bit later than i should have.  You are supposed to take with food, and I usually do after supper as its hard on my stomach, however I was a bit busy cooking and forgot till later. Cue insomnia. 

I'm not entirely sure if this is lotfp or just a b/x dream, it is weird nonetheless.  I'm a player character with a flint lock hand gun, a dagger and a musket on my back.  Protecting a ranch style huge house.  The architecture is heavily influenced by Mexican culture, stone roofs, etc.   

There are a bunch of us trying to keep the place secure.  It's late at night, and every single little thump or noise makes people jump.  I can see the bad guys.  They are goblin like, dressed as clowns.  And the weird thing is whenever anyone gets bit by one, the victim turns into one of these shrunken clowns.  (as a side note, i'm not one of those people who is scared of clowns).  

After the initial part of the dream where i'm helping fight these things off, my mind switches and goes to mechanics.  So these clown goblins can infect victims on a critical hit, after that I'm guessing its like 1d6 rounds before the victim is turned into these weirdo clown goblin things.  

And now I feel like I need to start the darn things out, draw up a map of this ranch and throw some PCs at it.  The weird thing was the clowns would wait out the PCs, not attack directly but hide in the shadows.  They even had weird clown goblin dogs.  At one point I was standing on one side of the fence and I could see in the shadows this goblin and its dog, I made a break for it and didn't make it.  

At some point they were all riding motorcycles, (in D&D I'd just make it horses) in a big circle around all the survivors.  

Talk about weird. 

Day 10 I believe, I've lost count now, and don't care at all about smoking. It's just the lack of sleep that's starting to get to me.  


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Curse Of Strahd - Session 9 - BBQ Goat

We reconvened in Barovia yesterday.  It was a lot of fun.  I can`t quite believe we are on session 9 already.  I`m going to have to start working on some ideas for a campaign or a one shot very soon.  I`m guessing we will have Strahd wrapped up by summer.  Just a note we play once every 3 weeks or so.

When we left off we were in the basement of the winery, after having just finished murdering a large tree thing.  We found 3 holes the size of fists in the ground near the tree.  After a bit of checking around for gem stones that might fit into the holes, and just random searching we decided to up and leave the winery.

And Viola! guess who`s standing outside happy as you please.  God damn Von Richten.  I swear this guy is Gilderoy Lockhart, always taking the credit, but never there for the action.  This time around though he actually gave us the credit.  I was amazed.

We have a discussion with the martikovs who own the winery, and they need to get back the gems as they help with the wine process.  After a bit of haggling, apparently we will be paid in wine.  Woot.

By the sound of it Baba o``riley (lasaga, lasanga, whatever her damn name is) has the gems.  So we go off for a wander looking for the witch.

Come across a stream.  My cleric just jumps in and swims across.  The dwarf fighter tosses the gnome across the river.  And the thief swims along beside me.  We leave Gilderoy with the wagon filled with wine on the other side of the bank (after we beat up the witch we are going to go and drop off the booze in Valaki).

On the other side of the river we meet up with another martikov who is scared shitless.  We talk to her and she tells us all about the Baba`s camp, the protection, etc.  She knows way too much.... whatever.

So we find the camp of the Baba`O`Riley.  From the bushes we sort of scout the whole thing.  It`s decided that me and the dwarf are going to create a distraction.  The thief & the gnome will be invisible and will sneak into her house (which is apparently a monster) and try and knife her in the back.

And splitting the party.

The dwarf and I find this goat pen, its behind 7 foot tall fences.  There are skulls lining the top of the fence.  he gives me a boost, up and over I`m in the pen.  I throw a rope over and now we are both in the pen.  Looks like there are 9 rather normal looking goats in the pen.  The dwarf decides to lit them on fire!  So now there are 9 on FIRE! goats.  in a small pen.  Egad we are intelligent.

After some thought, I remember the dwarf has a decanter of endless water, so I suggest before we get burnt to a crisp, that we in fact douse the now BBQ`d goats.  At this point we decide to have a bit of a feast.

Cut to the gnome & the thief.  They sneak into the monster hut, notice some ravens outside in cages.  Once inside the thief does a sneak attack, rolls a crit and double damage.  The Baba will never make perogies again.  One hit is all it took to utterly destroy her.  Somewhat disappointing ending.  But team work was cool.  While the 2 of them are searching the lair, us 2 idiots (cleric & dwarf) finally set off the skull alarms.

BEEDO BEEDO BEEDO BEEDO!

And they sort of hear it from the hut.  The gnome finds a ring that controls the hut, releases the ravens who kill off any scarecrows in the vicinity.  We are finally let out of the pen, and hand out nicely bbq`d goat to everyone.

We all get in the monster hut thing and start making our way back to the winery.  During the night, the thief decides to steal the ring from the gnome.  Seriously those 2 are at each others throats the whole time.

Next morning the Gnome wakes up, notices the ring is gone.  I honestly thought he was going to fireball her.  He decides to cast an illusion on her that she has no hands.  She literally screams at the top of her lungs.  They jabber back and forth for awhile.

I get up to relieve myself, while doing so I come up with a plan.

Get back to the table, and they are still arguing.  I cast silence on both of them, and dispel magic on the thief so she has hands again.  The dwarf gives me a high five and we go off to the winery.

The thief (who doesn`t play the game that often) wasn`t sure how long silence would work, so she basically shut up for like a half hour.

We drop off the gems to the winery, they give the thief this nice bottle of 1000 year old wine.  She makes peace with the gnome and gives it to him.  He`s still peeved.  Afterwards we head off to Valak to deliver the wine.  I can`t wait to see what festival is happening this week.

Oh we met a old martikov who is going to help us, he buggered off to scout strahds castle.

that was fun.

I've been quiet lately.  My brain has been filled with guitars, and not D&D.  I managed to finally quit smoking, and I think its going to stick this time.  Every time I quit I start looking at guitars I can't afford because I smoke. So my brain has been filled with that instead of D&D, I'm guessing it'll start receding and going back to RPG things.  

Saturday, April 8, 2017