Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Players Handbook now available on OBS

This morning, to little fanfare, Wizards of the Coast released a pdf of their most popular version of Dungeons & Dragons on Drivethrurpg. This is the first time a non-basic rules book (B/X, Rules Cyclopedia, BECMI) has been released to pdf through OBS since WotC lost their fear of the digital market two-years ago.

This release could mean a number of different things. The most hopeful is that WotC has finally fully embraced the digital market and gotten over their fear that all pdfs will be sold once and than pirated ten billion times. The other is that the sales for the collector's editions that have trickled out over the last two-years have finally begun to slump and WotC is looking for a new revenue resource for its older material.  Personally, I think it is a bit of both. The overwhelming success of the Elemental Evil Player's Guide on OBS has shown that the market isn't only there but utterly enthusiastic. My only hope is that the EEPG's print-on-demand success will cause WotC to re-evaluate things and offer other products up as POD (Rules Cyclopedia damn it!!!).

Right now I am interested in two hypotheticals that can potentially branch out of this release. The first is the release of the core books of the other editions of D&D to OBS and other digital services and the possibility of POD ability with those releases.  The second is how a complete explosion of the old rules back on the market in affordable/easily obtainable ways will affect the 3rd party market and in particular the OSR.  My personal opinion is that there will be little effect, however, I cannot deny that there does exist the potential for people to stop supporting "OSR 1e Clone" in favor of flat out 1e.

Monday, April 27, 2015

New Lulu Store

We now have a Lulu store front! I'm hoping to get all our products up by week's end, but for now just the last two are available in pdf and print!

Here's the link:  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/geniuslocigames

Saturday, April 25, 2015

MEPAcon Post 1 - The Coming of the Night Train


Just finished the first game of the con with +Reese Laundry and others. We were supposed to run "Rock of Saint Giles" for +Matt Finch's "Swords & Wizardry" but instead ran through my BasicModern/Eldritch Shadows adventure "The Coming of the Night Train". What an amazing time!

The adventure started out with the characters not together, and the Priest character "Father Bill" getting a letter from a former patient at a local asylum telling him that a bunch of murders in the town he lived in where demonic in nature. Soon Father Bill was forced to call in some associates, the Thug "Bobo" and the Council Mage "Bill" after both his and other Bill's phones called one another.

The players were awesome and took the adventure in some very unexpected directions, completely bypassing some sections of the adventure and getting into some neat exploration of the haunted train station. Near the end of the adventure after the "mid-boss" battle the players found themselves confronted by the FBI agent investigating the murders. In the adventure as written I give all these examples on how this could play out ... instead of anything I thought of, however, the Council Mage just used his sleep spell to knock out the FBI agent and his light spell to scare the HELL out of the local cops!

All-in-all a phone as hell game and an impressive showing by my group. I can't wait for the next game at 1400 which will be "Rock of Saint Giles".

I think the best part though was introducing Swords & Wizardry/OSR gaming to a kid used to the more modern schools. He seemed confused by the off-the-cuff rulings at some points but did say he was going to get the S&W pdf.

Thoughts on BasicModern itself are pretty nice. I've only ever played my supplement under very controlled settings, so getting it out in the "wild" was a great experience and I learned somethings I need to do for future use of the supplement before its eventual release.

Some thoughts -

Players get to subtract their HD from their Ability Checks so that things don't stay static.
Council Mages and Street Wizards need a little more work ... The Priest might be a little TOO heal-bot for my taste.
Sanity is perfect after the revision I released earlier this year. Its not too complex and the loss amounts are just right.

Friday, April 24, 2015

BasicModern/Eldritch Shadows pre-gens

Getting ready to head out to MEPAcon. Here are some of the pre-gens for the "Night Train is Coming" Game I'll be running for the fore-coming Eldritch Shadows paranormal modern Swords & Wizardry Supplement I've been making in my spare time.



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Frigga's Chosen to receive full release

For the last three days I've been working on cleaning-up, editing, and doing some other things to the adventure "Frigga's Chosen" for release as a 5next product on OBS. Frigga's Chosen was one of the first 5e exclusive Usarm adventures I did and I have always been rather proud of it. It is also my most shared free adventure appearing on EN World, The Evil GM, and a bunch of other sites in their lists of 5e products and must plays.

For the pdf release not much is changing from the main adventure. As it stands the adventure is approximately 7 pages of pure text. I am planning on increasing this to 10 plus included monster stats, magical item stats and so on as well as an increased random encounter table and some more information on Orus and Frigga.

What's more the adventure will be released on OBS as a Fantasy Grounds module as well for about $1.50 which will also be the price of the pdf file!

And to anyone wondering, yes, if you are a backer of Pyramid of the Lost King at $35.00 or more the pdf will be included in your reward.

Cover art for this project is a piece of wonderful stock art by Javier Charro and is used with permission (as I did buy it!).

Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday-s Workload

So outside the normal Monday work of cleaning, cooking, bathing children, and church meetings I have a nice load of gaming work as well.

Hmmm ... wonder what this could mean.


I'm also done one of the two add-on adventures for Pyramid of the Lost King and even got the map for its "dungeon" already from +MonkeyBlood Design! So outside of the above I will be trying to focus my writing today on some of my patreon adventures which I am horribly behind on and get the planning underway for the next segment of Pyramid's additions. This all means that barring anymore personal/home life issues I can get everything underway to the rest of the crew.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

MEPAcon Schedule is a Go!

Spring MEPAcon is in just a two weeks! My schedule of GM events has been pushed to the registration site for player sign-ups! If any of you will be in the Scranton, PA area and like to attend, I can be found on Friday and Saturday running the following:


Friday:
1400-1800 The Night Train is Coming - Swords & Wizardry Modern Supplement
Description: The bodies of missing teenagers have been found on the outskirts of the small town of Albany, PA. Two males, two females, all carved up like Halloween pumpkins. The FBI has been called in and believe it the work of a serial killer. Local drunk and guardian of one of the murdered girls, Jacob Greely, thinks different ... he thinks something more sinister is afoot and hires a group of private investigators to find out what is happening.
The Coming of the Night Train is a paranormal investigation adventure in the modern world using the Swords & Wizardry OSR system as its base. Characters will be provided for play.
Saturday:
0900-1300 Pyramid of the Lost King - The Rock of Saint Giles
1400-1800 Pyramid of the Lost King - The Rock of Saint Giles
Description: The old Drunk Priest, Clem has come across reference in his spiritual texts of a site of potential religious merit deep in the Upper Narrows. According to this text, Saint Giles, hero of the gods of Balance, built and consecrated a shrine within a rock outcropping while lost in a “land of unknowable thirst and sand”. Clem believes this shrine to be located somewhere in the Upper Narrows and wishes the party to locate it.
A Beginner Friendly Adventure for 5 players. Pre-gens will be made available, however, we can create onsite if players prefer.
While once again mainly filled with board games, Dungeons & Dragons 5e, and Pathfinder there does seem to be some Old school gaming events such as Circle Tooth Tower for AD&D and Dragons of Despair for 2e. Registration for the whole weekend is $45 and the Hilton in Scranton is an amazing and much improved location. So again, if your in the area stop in and say high and maybe if I can swing it during that hour break I can chat with people over coffee at the hipster cafe across the street (where I also happen to do much of my writing!).

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Fantasy Grounds 5e - First Impressions.

Yesterday Smiteworks, makers of the premiere Virtual Tabletop (VTT) application Fantasy Grounds (FG) announced that they had acquired the licence to carry WOTC's Dungeons and Dragons line on the platform. This is an amazing when for the gaming community. While other VTTs are freely accessible to all,none give the experience or user-friendliness that is offered by FG. The crew at Smiteworks often interacts with the community through both G+ and through their forums and has a wonderful reputation of updating and revising the program to increase the level of user-friendliness.

I've been legally using Fantasy Grounds since around 2010 with a lite license that has been slowly upgraded over time to become a Full License. I was introduced to the VTT back in 2006 when I was attending college and thought it better to play D&D 3.5 with Army buddies instead of paying attention in my 400 level Shakespeare class. As I said above the changes in the program and the fine tuning have been amazing! It was that constant support and drive from the creators that originally spurred me forward to move away from the "duped" copy my old Commander had sent to me and pick up first the "lite" version and then quickly move up to the full version (I will, however, never upgrade to Ultimate, just too rich for me). As someone who loves FREE and would prefer to always go the free route this is one program I can say without a doubt deserves the money.

When the announcement came I was not surprised. I have been wondering for a few years (since the release of the long maligned 4e tools) why WOTC didn't just contract/license the work out to Smiteworks. Honestly, the only thing that did surprise me was just how long it took! So, how did this long awaited partnership turn out? So far it is a mixed bag.

The majority of my current issue with the offerings from WOTC on the Smitework store. While there is a lot offered it is stuff that did not need to be offered at the chopped up level it has been offered at or for the price. If a customer ignores the single monster classifications and classes modules and just gets the "complete" sets along side the basic rules and the Box Set Adventure he or she is looking at a combined cost of $125 dollars. That's a huge chunk of change, now add that to the fact that most of the potential customers probably already own the Player's Handbook, the DMG and the Monster Manual (Not to mention the basic rules pdf is free on the D&D website) and you're looking at a huge investment.

The question, however, is "is the investment worth it?" Yes and No. Down the road as players and DM's get more comfortable with the system and start to really dig in then the majority of the current offerings will be worth it (I suggest just going with the "complete boxes" they're the best value) and the buyer wouldn't be getting ripped off. A huge amount of work went into these programs, and a lot is offered outside of simple copy/paste of the original document. From the Store listing for the Complete Classes:

This Module Includes everything from the individual class packs and the character customization pack in one complete module.
  • 328 fantasy character portraits taken from various official D&D sources
  • A custom theme derived in the same style as the Player's Handbook
  • All Races from the Player's Handbook that can be dragged to your character sheet
  • Random tables for rolling background bonds, flaws, ideals, origins, etc.
  • A list of all feats from the Player's Handbook, organized alphabetically and searchable, that can be dragged to a character for ease of reference during play
  • Equipment tables containing items that can be dragged to character sheets, treasure parcels or NPCs for ease of reference, encumbrance calculations and ease of disbursement. The searchable lists contain all items listed in the Player's Handbook (Adventuring Gear, Tools, Armor, Weapons, Mounts, Tack and Harness, Vehicles.)
  • Draggable weapons that auto-enter the inventory, weight, attack type (melee, ranged, thrown) and the damage (with damage type.)
  • Reference material and artwork which is not specific to any one particular character class
  • All spells from the D&D Player's Handbook, ready to drag and drop to your character sheet
  • The class description from the Player's Handbook for all 12 core classes: barbarian, bard, cleric, druid, fighter, monk, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, warlock and wizard
  • Details and features from levels 1-20 for all core classes
  • Automatic addition of new class features when you drag the class link to your character's level summary

The portraits alone are worth a good chunk if you look at the cost of some art packs/miniature packs that are sold for VTTs and I can attest from my initial testing of the $2.99 Basic Module that character creation has been made even easier from the main pen and paper version of the game. There are few flaws readily found and with even a half-baked concept in mind a player can build a character in 5 minutes or less.

With this in mind, the Basic Module is all anyone needs to play the game. This module comes with the core four races (Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, Human), the core classes (Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard), a decently sized bestiary and everything else a player or DM would need to play the majority of the game.

I'm working on putting a video together spotlighting everything that comes with the Basic Module for Friday so expect that in the early afternoon. Until then I will keep playing with it and enjoying a return to my favorite VTT.

Monday, April 6, 2015

5e Creatures - The Neverborn

The Neverborn are creatures created from the psychic echoes of those who – for whatever reason – never got the chance to live. The Neverborn are hateful creatures who abhor life and happiness and who wish to cause pain, misery, and death.

Neverborn “haunt” places most frequented by children and latch onto an especially happy or loved child. After the Neverborn has chosen its victim it sets to work turning the child's happy life to one of pain and misery. Unfortunately only the haunted child can see the Neverborn and any attempts by the child to reveal the foul creature end up back firing on the child causing him or her to become more isolated and further destroying the once happy life he or she had.

Neverborn
Medium Undead

Armor Class 18
Hit Points 300
Speed 30 ft.

STR -4 DEX +4 CON +5 INT +6 WIS 0 CHA -3

Damage Immunities – cold, necrotic, poison
Damage Resistance – acid, fire, lightning, thunder, bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from non-magical weapons
Condition Immunities – charmed, exhaustion, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poison, prone, restrained

Senses Dark Vision 120 ft, Passive Perception 14
Languages Telepathy
Innate Spellcasting – The Neverborn's innate spellcasting ability is intelligence (spell save 14 + 4). It can innately cast the following spells without components:

at-will: Detect Thoughts, Mage Hand
3/day: Telekinesis, Wall of Force
Challenge Level 11/7,200
Actions
Multiattack – The Neverborn can make two attacks
Attack – Barbed Tongue – Melee weapon; attack +7, reach 15 ft, one-target; Hit 22 (4d8+4) psychic damage
Mindlash (Recharge 4-6) – The Neverborn lashes out at in a 60' sphere around itself with psonic energies. Every creature in that area must succeed a DC 18 Intelligence saving throw or take (4d10+4) psychic damage and be stoned for 1d4 minutes. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Bonded Visage – The Neverborn is both invisible and incorporeal to all but the mortal child it has bonded with. Only true belief in the child's tale can give a non-bonded mortal sight of the Neverborn.

Legendary Actions

Lair Actions
When fighting within a place claimed as the lair of a Neverborn the creature can invoke the ambient magic of the area to take lair actions. On initiative count 20, the Neverborn can take one lair action to cause one of the following effects:

An area that is a 60 foot sphere becomes filled with an ink-like darkness totally obscuring the vision of all within except the Neverborn and the child it is bonded with. Until initiative count 20 on the next round the affected area is considered difficult terrain.

The lair begins to fill with memories of those within the lair's past. These memories start normal but slowly twist into horrible new memories that the affected creatures begin to remember as actual truth if they do not succeed a DC 20 intelligence check. All affected by this affect are stunned for 1d6 rounds.

Regional Affects
The home containing a Neverborn is warped by the creature's unnatural presence, which creates one or more of the following effects.

Creatures within the home of the Neverborn have horrible nightmares usually of the bonded child doing horrible things to them.
The taint of the Neverborn causes paint to fade, wood to rot and metal to rust slowly but at a pronounced rate, causing the sense of gloom to increase in the affected area.


If the Neverborn dies, these effects fade over a course of 1d4 days.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Patreon Supported Adventures - The Teeth

    1. Journey Through the Teeth
    1. Disclaimer

This Adventure serves as a world set-up for a longer sea-based adventure that I have been writing for the patron for the last month. Since March has been rather quite I needed something to get out and this is that. While “The Remains” is firmly White Box, “The Teeth” is system neutral and can be readily plugged into any system that you feel appropriate.
    1. Adventure Background

Trade between the Western and Eastern Holdings of the Lummin Empire is tightly controlled through the Golden Tradeways. A causeway along the warm currents of the ocean's mid-lines that is patrolled by the Empire's Navy. For years smugglers and Merchant's down on their lucnal use.k have search for other options to get their goods between the Holdings, however, the Northern and Southern passages a semi-regularly frozen to solid ice and hold the dangers of the mystical Albatross.
Now though, a Pirate name Bulis thinks he has discovered a way. Through an island chain known as the Teeth. Legend has it that the two two jagged islands that make up the teeth are in fact the remains of a long dead primal dragon. Other legends claim that the area is awash in Outsider energies. Bulis cares little for legends, if he can successful navigate the Teeth he'll be a rich man and able to retire, his name living on in the annuals of infamy. For that he needs some brave souls ready to brave the seas with him. He'll need those brave souls, for all the legends are true and more besides. The Teeth are a place where time, space, magic, and Other things all co-mingle and cross.

The Teeth

Several days out from la-Port-du-Cull the Pirate vessal you have all been hired on has come in sight of the “Teeth”. The jagged mountain islands jaunt threatening from the cold ocean like the the teeth of some great beast. Dark clouds swirl in the sky ahead threating a storm, but Captain Bulis assures the crew that the Teeth are always a place of dark clouds and choppy waters. “All will be fine for any able bodied man with his sea legs!” the captain can be heard assuring any frightened crew-men.

Referee's Note
The deck of the ship is wet enough from the violent waters to require checks for normal movement in the choppy seas. Should combat, through mutiny or other action take place and attack or defense action would be negatively affected by any who fail such a check.

As the ship approaches the Teeth roll a d20 should the result be under a 15 roll a d6 and consult the table below (adjust accordingly for system of choice):
D6
Event
1
Maelstrom
2
Outside Attack
3
Nothing
4
Harpy Attack From Teeth
5
Siren Attack
6
Teeth Attack

1. Maelstrom – The Ship is caught in a Maelstrom. Any keen-eyed player will be able to see that the maelstrom is not natural but supernatural in nature. In its center is a giant beak, similar to the kind that is typically found on squid. In truth, the maelstrom is being created by a giant squid who is twirling its body and hoping to catch and eat any who get sucked into its maw.

2. Outside Attack – A Portal to the Outside opens above the ship spewing forth a small horde of Outsiders (approx. 2d10).

3. Nothing – The ship encounters no problems and continues along the choppy waters until the next roll blissfully unaware of the dangerous nature of the Teeth.

4. Harpy Attack from the Teeth – As the ship nears the Teeth a horrible screech pierces the sky and echoes between the Teeth. A moment passes and the screech is answered by another louder cry. Within moments the sky grows dark as dozens of forms break from the Teeth and shoot into air. With the flapping of dozens of wings and the sound of bestial throats harpies descend on the ship and grab any unwary crew-men before breaking off into the clouds. Any crew taken are soon dropped … their heads' missing.

5. Siren Attack – From the rocky shores of the Teeth, a beautiful song goes out, soon all the go – male and female – are under a strange trance and the ship begins to list and buck wildly in choppy waters. If no one is able to gain control of the ship it will crash violently into the rocky shores in 1d6 rounds. A mental check or save is needed to overcome or resist the call of the sirens. If the sirens are located and physically engaged they will retreat and not bother the ship again this trip.

6. Teeth Attack – The Greatest legend is true. As the ship passes through the teeth a great bellow erupts as if some great god has awoken. The sea begins to shake violently, large waves crashing against the ship causing crew and cargo alike to crash and slid. Soon tooth other rocky teeth emerge and then another set and another. After a mere minute the hinges of a jaw snap forward revealing the maw of a beast as large as an island if not bigger. The wave roil larger is ancient, bat-like wings snap out from under the frothy waters. The beast takes a breath in drawing the ship down its maw.
There is no easy win for this scenario, should the players manage to escape the ship they will essentially be shipwrecked in the middle of untraveled ocean. However, it is also possible to create and have an interesting “bio-crawl” adventure within the belly of the ancient beast either destroying it or escaping it with their ship intact (ala Jona and the Whale). The beast could also be played as highly intelligent and possibly curious of these tiny beings it has no knowledge of, bartering the players' lives for knowledge of the world in the 10 million years since it first fell asleep.

Through the Teeth

Should the ship make it successful through the teeth the players will find nothing but clear skies and easy sailing for the next three weeks until the port of A'Jur'al is reached on the southern coasts of the Eastern Lummin Holdings. While A'Jur'al pays its tithe to the Empire it is known to have a lag port and will make an ideal port of call for an illegal trade route.
Once A'Jural is reached Bulis will gladly pay the players for their troubles as well as offer them a permeant place on his ship. If the players should decline the offer he will accept but warn them that the route is his secret and it would be in the players' best interest to allow it to remain so. Never-the-less, information on a non-Empire shipping lane is valuable information and could net the party a very large amount of funds. Bulis will, however, have his revenge, and the players should soon expect a price on their heads.