Sunday, 27 November 2011

Purple Mountain I: Temple of the Locust Lord - low level PFRPG megadungeon

Why are we looking at the outside?
Let's get into the dungeon!
Purple Mountain I: Temple of the Locust Lord -
published by Purple Duck Games

This is a really well presented module.  Although it represents one level of the Purple Mountain megadungeon, it could also be played individually in a low level campaign for pathfinder / DnD3.5 – but could easily beadapted by a confident DM to most systems, since there’s a focus on environment and some NPC motivation/tactics - enough "meat" for any system.

Don’t be fooled any negative associations with the term “Megadungeon” – the encounters follow logically, the adversaries are consistent with a dungeon population and themes, there’s also few nods to dungeon ecology.

The dungeon level has a traditional gaming feel, but the descriptions are modern and slick.
Dungeoncrawlers! Get 'em!
Purple Mountain 1 ‘Locust Lord has inherited from classic dungeoneering style the very best elements of play and plot by the way it is guided by the physical environment of the  dungeon - which was the original purpose of a original D&D dungeon - as opposed to the war gaming open field of battle.

The DM is given plenty of “what if/then” guidance if the players are struggling or alternative approaches to reaching the end points of the plot.

Appendices (inc. Monster stats) and inset tip boxes make this scenario very easy on the eye and implies minimal preparatory work on behalf of the DM.

Lush map of the level.
Definitely more than a
few sessions of play
in this baby.
I’m especially excited about this product because it can be played using it’s sister product – a gorgeous and massive battle-map by CSP (briefly looked in my post here).  I’m a sucker for glossy play aids.

As I type this, the product is at an absolutely bargain price for what you get. Disgustingly cheap!  If you don’t buy this product now, definitely keep an eye out for deeper levels in the Purple Mountain.  Again – this is playable as a single dungeon in its own right, the fact that it is part of a series of a huge sprawling megadungeon structure is a plus.

$3.50  $2.28
(at time of post)
Purple Mountain:
Level 1 Battle-Map
-Crooked Staff Publishing-
on DriveThru

stupendously good value!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Belated Happy ThankyousGivemas & Black Friday Deals

Black Friday: when it gets just that little bit darker before the weekend ...
I seem to have been living under a rock for, well, since forever, so I hadn't really heard of "Black Friday" - and even then I assumed that we were all commemorating a stock market crash or something.  In my various jobs in the past I have noticed a pre-weekend slacker attitude which can cause typing mistakes on a Friday, which may or may not lead to global financial meltdown.

I haven't had my translation goggles set to "American" so anything relating to Thanksgiving seems to come through as Klingon-Ewok gibberish.  It seems that Black Friday is a bit like our own hideous bun-fight Boxing Day sales.* 

I find the customs of the Lost Colonies just fascinating.  ;)
[ * -Either that, or my mother is a verengan Ha'DIbaHand I'm a P'Tok for not defending my family honour.]
By way of absurd comparison, the fact that we in the UK mainly only have fireworks on Guy Fawkes Night (New Year's excepting)  will seem a little strange to outsiders.

Oh dear. I've just realised that July 4th and November 5th could be seen as celebrations of political polar opposites.  The former is the independence of a nation from The Crown and the latter being the successful prevention of a plot to overthrow, and loyalty to, the same said crown.  So, perhaps in the UK we use fireworks to celebrate the execution of treason-doers and successful suppression by the state (of Catholic folk, anyhow ... oh, god, please don't mention Ireland, or this really will look like I was trying to be political and not just silly or trite -gulp-).  

In my hometown fireworks go off all of the time from October through to January.  People in-the-know point to the Diwali, the Festival of Light and Eid; also there's return of students to university, the occasional autumnal wedding, but normally it's just the local psychotic kids, who are armed.  Not with guns, but the next best thing, GUNPOWDER.  It's a plot I tell ye!   Occupy Parliament!
 (Hums God Save the Queen in quiet self-reassurance)

Anyhow, I think I supposed to be talking about cheap turkeys stuffed with maize and pumpkin or something.

Happy bargain Black Friday money-saving greetings to you all!
(and good luck to Christmas shoppers as well ...)

Paizo Black Friday Bundles

Assorted RPG games publisher and product line reductions on DriveThru - Gifts for under £10

Black Friday Sales

Lulu 20% off books - Enter code NOVBOOKS11 - Save up to $25 - Offer ends 11/30/11

RPGNow Sale Items

Black Friday at RPGObjects

Sale at Warehouse 23

Nevermeet Press - Black Friday (check out the size of that Turkey!)

Kidrobot Holidays Deals

Sales at Deviant Art
237641_300x250 Star Trek 15% off
... because you can never have
too much Star Trek gear...
Quick Jim, that man isn't
spending enough, shoot him!
(or throw quality mugs
and t-shirts at him)
Spend long and
makes us prosper...
Google Ebooks Holiday Deals: $10 or Less

501249_Cyber Monday Chess Sale with Coupon501249_Black Friday Chess Sale Banner with Coupon

Cyber Monday?!  What the frak!?

A couple of links have been borrowed from Roleplayers Chronicle who, incidentally are looking for writers who might be interested in RPG games industry perks.

(This is how I stave off my
existential angst. No, really.)

On a random almost-related note, this week I quickly dashed together a Calendar on Lulu to give as a present to friends and family - however I'm not so sure that it'll even get past the quality control robots at Lulu, but here's the link anyhow: Monsters! Calendar 2012

Thanks for reading this far. 
May your Gods aid you during your foretold credo-assigned apocalyptic civilisational endpoint.

For the love of money,
spend now before it all becomes worthless!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Teach Your Kids to Game Week randomthoughtsonintergenerationalgaming

I might be a week late here, but Teach Your Kids to Game Week is a really nice idea - the link will take you to appropriately child-friendly products on DriveThru.

Looking through the strange selection of games presented on DriveThru, I have three, not quite related, thoughts:

1. a kid themed or "soft" setting game may not be the answer to getting the kids hooked (see below) ;
2. why not play Lego Heroica? ;
3. I want to steal other people's children to play the Dungeon! boardgame with me.

As I decelerate into my fifth decade of life, it seems to be blind fate, that has procured me with a nil chance to spawn little ones upon which I can project my joys, fears, prejudices and/or personality shortcomings.  No Frankensteinian experiments for me!  No pitter-patter of little geeky stormtrooper feet. ;)

Back when I first played Dungeons & Dragons, it was coming in for a lot of flack (early 80s), and that was way before Pokemon cards hit the playgrounds and were clearly of a much more straight-forward evil.  As a young teenager, I defended D&D for it's cultural and educational value (but you also have to remember that nearly all children-to-teens know that citing anything as "educational" was a sure way of getting Santa to deliver).  I thought I was fighting for the misunderstood underdog.  According to me, D&D had made me a genius in Maths, English and History, inspired me to notice geology, nature and architecture, to draw, and later, to express and be loud in drama. I would bat aside myths of spell casting witchery and heavy-metal Satanism.  Although no-one was actually hunting role-players, an ominous threat was ever present, because my parents would absorb misinformation, like the mindless sponges I thought they were, and they could act fast: dining table hosting of games could be revoked at the last minute, I could become grounded, with friends turned away at the door. Perhaps, thinking back I had defended the hobby like an angry paranoid drug addict - seeing conspiracy at every turn, if only people understood, they wouldn't want to deprive me of the magic.

A friend's mother had rung my mother and suggested that they should organise a tennis club, specifically for their children who were playing this sinister game.  In all of this fresh air and racket wielding was just a hint of clean Christian fun, which would mould us into well-balanced morally grounded sin-free pre-adults.  I think my mum was not entirely convinced and had probably encountered this type of busy-body before.  She laughed it off, and perhaps realised that her clumsy PE-hating boy might find tennis just a little too healthy.  (Side note: as a youngster, I'd attended the Scouts once, but it was on the same night as Blake's 7, and missing one episode was enough for me).

When some teen problems later occurred, I was banned from reading my RPG rulebooks, and stopped from going to games, but this may have had more to do with the mistaken belief that if I had nothing to do in my spare time I would choose to revise for exams. Hmm. Naturally. Anyhow. "Maybe the depression will go away dear, if we deprive you of familiar things you like..."   That was you-don't-understand-me teen stuff vs. protective parent logic (perhaps now it's all about the confiscation of knives, hoodies, I-pods and blocking Live-play MSN- "Aw, Mum! I HATE you!" etc.).

I think we're originally talking about child gamers here, not teenagers, ....  I think the point I'd planned to get to was that it seems so strange that it's the parents who are trying to sell role-playing games as a concept to the children (and not the other way around) especially if they're pushing those archaic styles of play with the pencils, paper sheets, coloured dice and combat matrix reading.  "Sorry, Dad, I just want to finish my homework on the iPad. Can't mum play with you?  She understands all that old stuff with the dusty boxes and the smelly books." 

I mean, is it possible to talk to kids about RPGs without describing it as "World of Warcraft before graphics cards and consoles"?  Am I the only one thinking that suddenly tabletop RPGs sound like those jokes about grandparents having no toys apart from a piece of coal, a tangerine and a wooden horse (and the tangerine had gone off)? It's all true, before 1965, all of the world was in black and white, and toys were basically whittled figurines - now mistaken as religious fertility symbols.  At 12 you started an apprenticeship in an underground steel mill or had a baby and most of your childhood games were actually variations of how to avoid being beaten by the parents, relatives or neighbours, because in those days you were allowed to hit other peoples kids and it was expected of you and you could leave your doors unlocked and no-one would steal anything except foreigners who couldn't be trusted because they were foreign and didn't understand our honest ways etc.  It's all true, believe me, no really, ask yer dad.

A three year old showed me how to play on a Wii the other day.  Naturally, I had to defeat her at  ten-pin bowling and table tennis (just to prove a point).  Okay, she beat me at some sort of frisbee game - the one with the manic happy-then-sad dog.  I mean, even wires on consoles must look exotic and retro to these kids.  I'm still impressed about the Talisman board being in colour!

Perhaps this our chance to rewrite history and claim that D&D was played with chalk and blackboard slates.  throw in some marbles and a tin soldiers, perhaps a spining top, and it's all good wholesome Victorian fun for all the family (Sunday fun before Papa had to go back down t' pit and Mama had finish washing rags outside the Workhouse...).

It's really great to read about a new generation of gamers bonding with parents in this way.  Maybe we're like the hobby-railway enthusiasts, or scaletrix drivers. letting the children into the attic, showing them the diorama and controls - but don't touch that button, only daddies are allowed to touch that.  I'm pretty sure that dedicated Lego hobbyists are pretty strict with which sets they let the kids play with. Our "inner child" vs. the real child.  Get out, haven't you got texts to send?

Unless I was gaming with very young children I think I'd avoid child-like settings, perhaps this is because it brings me back to my own childhood where I despise the cuter characters and child protagonists - I identified with archtypal grown-up heroes (or at least teenage heroes).  I liked my fantasy to be played straight and absorbing.  Hawk the Slayer and Krull, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars were infinitely preferable to Neverending Story, The Goonies and Caravan of Courage An Ewok Adventure.  As an adult I really like the kids in ET, and I think I buy in to the idea of "family" movies better than I used to.  Mum once once described the Doctor's assistant Leela as "something for the dads to watch" - I must ask her why she watched Doctor Who - I think it was to do with plot solving and mild scary peril, judging by the sort of programmes she likes now.   Okay, I've gone off the point.  The question is, if your kids want to play muscle black magic dealing killers, can you cope with that, or is My Little Pony with some numbers more the sort of thing the kids should be playing?

Random aside: if you're into the psychology of children relating to heroes in fairy tales I recommend dipping into Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment  which blew my mind just a little at college and led to the devising of the dubiously titled Edinburgh Festival play "Grimm Realities".  But that was another life, and we shall never speak of this again.

Well, sonny, back in them days, we's had what some folks called "nuclear"
families.  Thems were bad news when they played them boredom-games together,
as it led to explosive argy-ments and nuclear fallings-out.  Then, after
Chez-Noble, the UN banned the boredom games and we wuz all told
to sun-scribe to only-lined video games like Wally Warcraft. 
And we was grateful for the 'Warcraft too.  We didn't have to talk to
folks  no more. Well, not to folks we wuz gene-related to.
And we could play any-time, -not just at Christmas. ...

I'm pretty sure I really know nothing on the subject of inter-generational gameplay, and I have never been forced to weigh up educational merits verses fun, or justify the moral abandonment of stealing tomb treasure being "okay" because "it's a goal related reward".  Only recently I was struck very hard in the face with the idea that many games (or at least the ones I truly enjoy) are nakedly capitalistic on so many levels.  Competition, wealth acquisition, renown and power. (I love it)  Which, incidentally, was part of the inspiration of the title of this blog.  Of course there's that bit where you have to share the wealth with others in the party, but it's done with a begrudging attitude and the glaring subtext of "I could just kill you now and take your share". Would I worry about navigating these moral minefields? I mean I struggle at work daily, trying to avoid being sacked because I think some words and ideas are very funny, whilst the rest of the grown-up world seems to I'm being some sort of an unprofessional monster (at this point I want to pretend to you that I'm actually primary school teacher... but that would be lying and the judges told me that it would never happen... actually the truth is in fact much scarier...)

Anyhow, I suspect this is probably what I'd be like as a dad playing games with his sons:

(Fast Show - Competitive Dad - )

Educational merits (or worries) aside, perhaps it's just important to "have fun" - which reminds me of that immortal D&D/RPG ethos that there are no winners or losers, because you "win" by having fun.  Cheesy, yes, but curiously applicable to all forms of creative play.

Anyhow, gamer-parents, I salute you!

To sign off, I especially liked this entry on Daddy Grognard.

Teach Your Kids to Game Week - on DriveThruRPG - with links to Facebook news and groups.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure Books on Kindle

Okay, a bit of an Amazon widget post coming up...
I'm a sucker for all of the little moving pictures - sorry if your browser slows momentarily - we must get better connections, larger screens, faster computers, UPGRADE, CONSUME, LET THE WORLD BURN!!

Ahem, sorry.

This was a new one on me, there's a few solo gamebooks (or "interactive fiction") out on iPhone and for various e-readers, but I hadn't realised how many classic Choose Your Own Adventure titles were available for the Kindle. And by "classic" I really mean "classic" - as in 30 years old and still looking good!

If you like system-less gamebooks and you're finding that Kindle copy of Dan Brown's latest The-Something-Puzzle-ooh-clever-twist-but-nothing-new-Conspiracy novel a bit of a chore to read on the train, why not spice up your commute with a Choose Your Own Adventure book?

^^ Amazon UK pretty widget thing ^^

vv  CYOA Kindle texts on Amazon US  vv

You've got to love those titles!

If you like the idea of interactive fiction on your Kindle, but prefer your fantasy games to have a meaty dice system (Fighting Fantasy - proper solo game-books!), you would be a fool not to have a look at these:
(on Amazon US)

Well that was fun. :)

May your path be the correct one!

Yours, Billiam B.
 -never knowingly actually profiting from links to Amazon, but is strangely hypnotised by all of the cover graphics ...

Friday, 11 November 2011

Map Art for Raging Swan Press

For anyone who likes home-made maps, I recommend a quick look at details of art I've been scrawling out for Raging Swan Press.

Inked Adventures entry:
Raging Swan Press  Treasure Maps
 (The same post in Blogger <-- befriend and follow me!)

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Jeff Dee redraws Deities & Demigods art

I'm not sure what to make of this.  It's of that strange post-modern reference-dizzying cyclical ilk of which the members of Old School Renaissance might champion - which is exactly what I'm doing now, by celebrating the old line art art Jeff Dee, whilst encouraging modern redraws of the same art.  It's new!  It's old!  It's old-new!

I like the work of Jeff Dee from the early D&D rulebooks and to see him reworking old art, whilst retaining some of the original style, is very compelling.  I mean, this is an aesthetic niche within a niche.  The bit that's confusing me is the money pledges, but hey, signed prints from celebrity artists go for a lot more on Ebay and Etsy than for what Mr Dee is asking, so that's fine, I guess (at the lower end of the pledges).

Kickstarter widget:
... will take you to an explanatory video which also tells us that early TSR art may have ended up in a dumpster! :o

A "before and after" sample on Deviant Art;

Then and Now by ~JeffDee on deviantART

(Sourced in part from RPG Table Top Game Systems on Facebook )

I'm half "yay!" and half "curiouser and curiouser", if you know what I mean.
Watch that space.

Monstrous Garage, Gaffam's PSDs, Purple Mountain qualityness

Monstrous Garage.   My esteemed friend, Will C Pfaff of Escape Velocity Gaming, provides us with a point based strip-down and boost-up kit for a selection of monsters.  Ideal for 4e DMs who find themselves tailoring and scaling their encounters.  WCP's system is fast to use and well-illustrated.

East Gate PSD Files    I adore the computer art on Dave Graffam's Models, Photoshop file versions of the models is a great idea for people who feel restricted by PDFs and want to get in and tinker with the masonry. 

Purple Mountain I: Temple of the Locust Lord and Purple Mountain: Level 1 Battle-Map
There's some nice collaboration going on here, the creative scenario forge of Purple Duck Games with the cartographic excellence of Crooked Staff Productions, bringing us a module and massive battle-map.  At the moment I'm drooling over CSP's Battle Map which is currently a bargain at 99c and could be used as a fixed-dungeon site in any fantasy campaign.  However the rightful occupants and hidden traps of  the Level 1 dungeon-crawl are described in the very-cheap-to-modestly priced adventure module, Purple Mountain I: Temple of the Locust Lord for the Pathfinder RPG (or D&D3.5) For level one characters - perhaps the perfect purchase with the new Pathfinder Beginner Box?

(All links lead to the DriveThruRPG Store. Thanks for reading.)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

(Unofficial?) Greyhawk Maps - Atlas of Flaness

Behind a growing set of modular shelves on a wall in my flat is slowly being hidden the ultra-massive multi-piece poster of Greyhawk, which came included in parts in Dungeon magazine - in the final year of it's printed form.  I also own a battered second-hand mid-80's Greyhawk boxed atlas, so I have a bit of a soft spot for this most "official" and "original" of all D&D settings.  It doesn't take me long, however, to acknowledge why, on the most basic level I find Faerun and Krynn, and perhaps even the unpronounceable campaign area of the Expert Set preferable to Greyhawk.  It's silly really-  I just couldn't justify a world which has a "Grand Duchy of Geoff".  I'm one of these pretentious fools who likes their places to sound half-old English, or archaic.  I think I can cope with the Empire of Iuz (for a while I was snobby-phobic about "Z"s and "X"s), but Inverness and desert locked Kanak* are real places on Earth - perhaps these are the portaled bridges to Oerth?  (*Or did I dream this, it's there, right?) I suspect, without properly researching, that the early modules which used these places as settings, in our world, but in a time of legends.  Perhaps the Knights of King Arthur live somewhere in the Greyhawk world as well?  Is this a good thing?    Quibbles aside, and let's face it, it feels like an evolved  "game" world -perhaps Geoff was once a PC and thank-the-pantheon that he wasn't named "Doug" of "Brad".  The Grand Duchy of Brad (Duke of Babes-appreciation)

The really nice thing about looking at any maps of Greyhawk is finding the location of 1st edition modules.  I felt a strange sense of completeness when I was able to locate the area in which Village of Homlet dwelt (I never got to that famous Temple...)  - although in my own campaign world Hommlet was a on a road not far from the capital city - a distraction and base between freeze-frame-room-encounters "dungeon-crawl" dungeons. Anyhow ...

Furundy, Greyhawk, Dyvers,
and (nasty orcy) Pomarj
(I've just seen a friend of a friend "like" this on Facebook...)
Greyhawk maps - Atlas of the Flanaess
(Facebook Page)

The quality of the maps is impressive, readable labelling, and modern textures, Anne B Meyer's tribute to Gygax is made with respect, flair and dedication.
The maps can be viewed as PDFs and JPGs, which might be indispensable to a DM, especially those of us who have an old printed copy which pencils and heavy dice must not mark!

Nice one, A.B.M!

If you hunger for more maps of Greyhawk or would like to see some earlier art, is also worth a browse.

Travel well!

Did I forget to mention "Woolly Bay"?