15 September 2020


I was posting over on theRPGsite about death-free PCs and gaming, and to my surprise my normal stream-of-consciousness bullshit actually paid off:

Players that are cool with PC death would DEFINITELY prefer their characters are each riding and blasting/hacking away at a separate one of Tiamat's heads as she plummets towards earth with broken wings while Planars and Solars sing in the chorus*, rather than run over by a drunk gnomes steam apparatus on the way home from the tavern.

That's going in my signature.

10 September 2020

Tear it down, build it up Part 1: Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan

Like most DMs, especially grown-ass adults that have jobs, there's only so much time to prep.  If you even HINT that the weekly game is going bi-weekly that table full of serial killers in waiting might decide to start on you!  So maybe you reach for help in the form of a published module.

I may or may not have mentioned that I'm running Tyranny of Dragons.  Thematically, it fits my setting, and I've always wanted to use Tiamat as a big-bad.  Hoard of the Dragon Queen wasn't bad - Rise of Tiamat SUCKS.  Put a pin in that, I'll be going into detail later.

So far, all the modern modules (2014+) I've looked at, has been a bloated mess with one exception: Tales from the Yawning Portal - which sounds like a BOREDOM INDUCED title that had to get its Misbegotten Realms pecker trails all over modules that had nothing to do with Faerun.  The only reason the bloat is minimal is that it's a reprint of far better modules with minimal work done to bring them up to 5th edition.  

It still manages to shoe-horn some bullshit about a bar built over a dungeon, with an immortal bartender, since the Realms is all about cherry-picking and mashing together better ideas until they suck.

As mentioned previously, I feel modules should be MODULAR.  I don't give two shits if Ed Greenwood wrote the module and wants me to give me the guided tour of Elminsters shoe room; I better be able to make it into the home of some other Gandalf rip-off easily, or I could have just written the adventure myself.

Since I'm working within a time limit, I use them.  I'll touch on some of what I've done, and will be doing, with various modules.  I'm going to start with an easy one - easy because for my particular campaign, it required minimal changes:  Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan.

I've always loved Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan.  Aztec-ish old-one death gawds, step pyramids, funky Indiana Jones-esque traps HELL YES!

First problem:  No way the party would detour far enough south in the campaign wurld to get to a jungle.

Ok.  Hmmmm.  I do a quick review of my setting notes - the wood elves were the original nomadic dwellers in the region, became decadent and civilized (they so often come together), and over two centuries got thrown down by the high elves and their newly-created dragonborn footsoldiers.

Sweet.  I see an angle already.  Wood elves like woods.  Evil blood-demanding gawds love blood and sacrifices, and tell their grugach worshipers, 'build us a pyramid'.  The grugach do, and with proper sacrifices the jungle starts to grow out from the pyramid.  Soon I have pointy-eared blood-priests spreading fear and jungle in my wurld history.

This gives me the option of slapping these bad-boys down in other terrain, with hints of the former green glory... and suspicion and fear when they find one in a thriving jungle - because that means the blood is flowing!

Great!  So from here, I ditch the 'fell in a hole' start and make it a bizarre hidden snake tunnel mosaic connected to a nearby tomb, leading to room #1.  A little bit of care describing the murals as pointy-eared assholes, instead of round-eared assholes, toss in a series of murals of the dragonborn as footsoldiers to the high elves (which was, at the time, a secret) and voila!  It fits into my campaign and actually adds cool stuff for when the adventure is over.

The older modules tend to be better about this than the new stuff; and I'm sure that's by design - WoTC (rhymes with Naz... er, Yahtzee) wants you to pay for Ed Greenwood's Platinum Pornhub subscription, so buy The Sword Coast to find out more!

Fuck WoTC for not reprinting the original handouts by the way.  Some of the new art is GREAT... but impossible to use without work.  Get the original (even if its just for the handouts) at Drive-thru RPG ($4.99 at the time of this post) and if you're willing to do the conversion work, skip the WoTC reprint.  The maps are shit in the scan; but there are nice options online.

Alright, that's it for now.  Next time, I'll take a look White Plume Mountain and how it's tied into my game wurld now.

07 September 2020


 I've been under fire by my liberal friends* because I have a habit of giving other adults benefit of the doubt, and expecting the same.

The latest shitstorm has been going on for months, and no-cost me a player at the table, although her husband has stuck around (awkward).

It started with the Orc Lives Matter assholes.  In short, if I describe something as primitive, violent, and savage, the racist lefties brain pops to 'OMG he means black people'... 

No, I don't.  I mean orcs.  I said orcs.

I'm archiving my side of the story here, so I can stand by my words for better or worse, as my cousin deleted the conversation on Discord.

I lead in with a link to the article here: 
Stop with the inclusivity! Only FAN GATEKEEPING can save our favorite nerd passions – from D&D to Star Wars by Sophia Narwitz

It's an Op-Ed.  The key point I agreed with was thus: 

it’s up to long-term fans to shut down those who want to forcefully enact change. So, for as much backlash as the woke crowd is already receiving, they need to get even more of it. These people don’t deserve to feel welcome in our hobbies. There is no place for them here.

Sounds pretty harsh out of context, I admit.  I clarified - People that want to come in and ignore/destroy the past of a franchise (usually because they aren't creative enough to compete) should be kept the fuck out.  Full Stop.

Mind you, if you read the article, it lays it out.

Here's the funny part, I got attacked initially because I didn't vet the source - apparently it's a Russian Bot site.

It's an Op-Ed.  What exactly do you 'fact check' on an opinion?

So going back into Facebook I see some smears and libel on my posts, so I updated with a couple of classics:




I've never once, and never will, keep someone from playing 'the' game the way they want at their table.

I've never once denied someone a seat at my table because of their beliefs, race, sex or who they prefer to have sex with.

I -have- and will continue to restrict my table to people that will bring something to the game and NOT DISRUPT IT.

*who have no problem misquoting me online, taking what I say out of context, and stirring up shit - in a word, facebook.

04 September 2020

theRPGsite down?

Gawd, I'm like a junkie missing his fix...  theRPGsite is in the process of updating their website and while I was able to access it for a couple days, I'm locked out again.  <naturally, at the time of this post, it's back up>

So while that's' down, here's a couple blogs I've dug into:

((nil) is (not(null))) - not just RPG topics, his very well thought out OSR are good stuff.

Goblinpunch - has been previously mentioned.

FalseMachine - showcases some great gaming art.

Against the Wicked City - specifically this post on the OSR aesthetics of ruin.

02 September 2020

Remember when Modules were Modular?

As mentioned before, I've been gaming since the early 80s.  I like using modules even if I rarely leave them unchanged.

Ranting here.

The NICE thing about the old modules is they didn't expect/force you to use a specific campaign world.

Look at this example, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks from the S1-4 Realms of Horror reprint:  

Locating the Adventure

It is assumed that this adventure is located in the WORLD OF GREYHAWK fantasy world setting.  As presented here, the spaceship lies in the Grand Duchy of Geoff, i the mountains northwest of the city of Hornwood.

Of course, if you want to use this adventure in your own campaign world, feel free to do so.  You need only to locate it in a mountain range not far from a city large enough to finance the expedition.

Boom.  Done.  

Most of the old stuff was set up this way.  The handful of BX/BECMI* modules I have were every bit as easy to drop in anywhere.

I was happy to see that they left Saltmarsh in Greyhawk, but from what I've seen of the rest of the 5e modules, you BETTER love the Sword Coast.

I don't.  In fact, I don't care for the Misbegotten Realms at all; Ed Greenwood and his Elminster totally my OC <cough, cough Gandalf cough, cough> and RA Salvatore are hacks.

So what's my point?  Well, to cut on prep, and since thematically it worked well with my homebrew of Folia, I decided to run Tyranny of Dragons.

The first book was fine and reasonably easy to use - but FFS, The Rise of Tiamat is a grand tour of the Forgotten Realms, and in true FR fashion, NPCs and factions that are cooler than you are waved in your PCs faces.

I grumbled about this over on theRPGsite, and was pointed to promising project: Tales of Lothmar.  We need more of this.

*BX is Basic/Expert, BECMI refers to Basic/Expert/Companion/Masters/Immortal sets

Gygax, G., &amp; Schick, L. (1987). Locating the Adventure. In Realms of horror (p. 43). Lake Geneva, WI, WI: TSR.

01 September 2020

The Shadow, The Mysterious Stranger, the Guardian Angel

 I'm kicking around an idea that would -probably- work best as an advantage/perk in systems that support it, but could basically be done along the lines of a Figurine of Wondrous Power.

You see, I've been reading the early Shadow pulps now;  (Thanks Razorfist!) and if you're familiar with the way he's handled in the pulps, The Shadow swoops in at the last moment, and is busy in the background figuring things out, while his agents do the day-to-day grunt work.

In gaming terms, Harry Vincent is the PC, and he has The Shadow ability on standby, he needs to burn an ability on 'cooldown' or an item with a limited number of charges.  I'll be chewing on this idea, and come up with different versions of it for various rules sets.

30 August 2020

Tasha's Cauldron of Political Correctness

 Hoo Boy.  Tasha's Cauldron of Everything leaks are coming out, and it looks like some of it is playing catch-up with Paizo.

Tasha (of Hideous Laughter fame), the Chaotic Evil temptress from the World of Greyhawk, is being re-defined.

Polygon is talking positively about it, so I'm sure I'll hate it.  They're making it so that there is less difference between the races, and none of them have any penalties.

On the positive, it seems to be consolidating some of the classes from the assorted books, and has brought in some more of the other rules so you wouldn't need to buy the odd setting-specific books such as Guildmaster's Guide to Ravinica.

I'm looking to get OUT of 5e, and more into OSR or possibly Fantasycraft, so my desire to invest is nill.