Friday, 24 October 2014

[Review] No Country For Weak Men

The cover alone is extremely cool. I printed this PDF to booklet format using watercolor paper for colors for nice texture and "feel". In real life it looks awesome! You have to believe me in this.
No Country For Weak Men is an adventure written for Swords & Wizardry rules (very OSR compatible) using some house-rules provided with links within the PDF.

I get strong Death Frost Doom and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (as setting, not as video game) influences and themes here, which is cool. Cool as northern wind and snow. The adventure is written by +Anders Hedenbjörk Lager

The look is top notch. Layout is great and illustration is... great. Easy and enjoyable to read. For a free product (yes, this is free) the appearance is grade 10.

The dungeon where the adventure happens is 15 areas long. The dungeon map is great and well thought. There are some puzzles what remind a little of video game puzzles but I think they play well in roleplaying game too. The area descriptions are inspiring and there is enough variety in dungeon rooms to keep the adventure rolling and interesting.

I like how the dungeon is not "you're-screwed-after-you-play-this" (like LotFP and DFD what I get some vibes from) but it can be very tricky, and could end into a death trap... unless you are clever. And if you survive the dungeon, you still might be in trouble because of the setting location (C-O-L-D).

I like this because of DFD and Skyrim like feel and because this dungeon is not just delving to get some loot. This is a location, what you need to explore to find its secrets. I also like the cold wintery theme. You don't see that every day in adventures, do you!

Also the future premise is promising. You get an area map with different locations not covered in this adventure. Those are future premises, that the adventure in cold and harsh environment doesn't end here... it just begun (I hope Anders Hedenbjörk Lager doesn't stop here but finishes what his plans are with the area map!).

You should get this because:

  1. It is free. And not only because it is free but because it is commercial quality. I would pay for this, that's how good free product this is!
  2. You like Death Frost Doom* by Lamentations Of The Flame Princess and the setting of Skyrim.
  3. You like dungeons that are not just rooms to host treasure for players to find to get richer and more powerful.

And now, seriously, go get it!

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* I only got the original DFD. This link goes to new fancy DFD. At this moment writing the blog there's PDF available (LINK), but soon there will be prints available also... Follow LotFP and +James Raggi to keep up to date with new DFD!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

[Review] The Overrun Mines

The local mine has been overrun by foul creatures, stopping all mining operations! The Lord has dispatched a call for brave heroes to clear out the mine, but what lurks below the surface?

That's the premise written on cover of The Overrun Mines (that's a Drivethru link, it currently costs only 0,39€) by 3 Toadstool Publishing+Shane Ward.

Looks

Illustration is from https://openclipart.org and it does look like it's taken from a source where you can get pictures for your stuff. It is not necessarily a bad thing and the pics chosen for this adventure are ok. Only the cover picture is lame. But hey, look at the price tag of this adventure and don't judge!

Layout is normal, two columns, easy to read. Nothing fancy. Everything doesn't have to be fancy as long as it is easy to read and to check things up.

In my review copy there were some mistakes (I pointed these out early, don't have updated version if there is any). Really minor and easy to work around. AC and HD mistakes and dungeons section number 13 twice replacing number 12. Nothing too bad and definitely no game crippling.

The Dungeon

Map is hand-drawn, no special effects here. But it is clear. The dungeon is interesting in my opinion though a little railroading. By this I mean that soon after entering the dungeon you go left, right or straight. Basically all of these end in dead ends (except one what leads to part two of the dungeons). So exploring is an u-turn at some point.
I have two thoughts here:

  • It's okay because this place is a mine, not a labyrinth complex. So it makes perfect sense. Also this is a small dungeon you can throw in your campaign so characters are not going to spend damn long there (this is a problem I'll deal with later)
  • It's a little dull and either all places get explored, or player rushes through (my player!).
The sections (14 in first and 8 in second part) are good though. Nothing super special, but I enjoyed running and reading it. Not everything must be flashy and gory and what-the-funkery all the time and  more traditional approach (for me) is something I welcome. There are great things what I enjoyed a lot (wounded worm was awesome in play) and something what made me a little confused (undead goblins waiting for you). There are also some NPCs you could rescue, what was fun!

The second part is better, because behind an ordinary dungeons experience there's something else. You can do a lot with this part, if you want to. I did! It fit my campaign very well, actually inspiring it. I did not run the second part fully by-the-book but it was very good resource and idea to push my campaign to this new direction... That was great in this adventure, to inspire.

I am not sure how many force the adventures to work as written, and I am not sure if the review is not as good if you didn't run it b-t-b (heck, I don't even run or use everything I review!) but that's the fun of roleplaying. You take something someone else created, and make it your own. The product cannot be bad if it inspired you. It is bad if you don't even want to use it! In this, The Overrun Mines worked fine.

Extra

Okay, the dungeon is ran, what next? I like products what give something extra you can use. Small rules, new monsters, something. When you have used the adventure or the dungeon there's still some value left. And here is.

First, you get pregens (four human race-as-classes, they look like Labyrinth Lord and B/X stats) with equipment ready.

Then you get rumors. I love rumors! In my opinion the rumors tell a small story about the game world the writer wrote the adventure for. Even though it is generic the rumors are the people of the adventure, what make the background even if there is no setting background involved. These are good rumors and good adventure catches.

Also you get two optional rules. The first is Resurrection rules. Simple. When you get resurrected, roll D12 and see the table for results. You might loose 1 from stats, or level, or HP. Mundane, but nice addition (not always resurrection table results should be gore-gruesome-weird).
The second rules is Underground Day Rules. Basically the more you stay underground in the dungeons without daylight, the more symptoms you get. Like saving throws worsen but there are also good things that can happen. I have to say, there is not much logic why some day you might feel weak and next day you can memorize more spells or get bonus to combat. Maybe the dark claustrophobic surroundings can make you feel bad, or make you perform better. I don't know.

Conclusion

Nice, short adventure to run. Nothing earth shattering. It is cheap and easy to throw in your campaign and for me the second part of dungeon worked as campaign altering inspiration.

I don't know how I could have liked it more. If undead goblin enemies made more sense (why those are there, why miners didn't just throw the corpses away) and Underground Day Rules idea was better explained. But still this was good enough for me to enjoy it!

Cheap dungeons to throw in the middle of your campaign, go get it!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Creating a character for Labyrinth Lord

In my old blog Cradle of Rabies I created some characters, labeled 1000 and 1 characters. I begin it in here, now. I remember when I was younger player I enjoyed to create characters. Character creation was like solo-gaming, or a mini-game of the roleplaying game. Also creating characters taught me how characters work and what are disadvantages and advantages of different stats. Basically how game worked in player's point of view. I think it is also good practice to create a character or two for a game you are about to run to make character creation run smooth. At least there is one person at the table who knows what's going on!

Anyways, here's the first character for this series of posts called Character for every game. Obviously I cannot create a character for every single roleplaying game out there so I have to start with games in my collection. Starting with my dead woods, and if I run out of those I still got plenty of PDFs to cover!

The first game I chose is Labyrinth Lord for the reason that it's the game I am currently running. Let's start!

1. Character Abilities

3d6 in order, then write down the modifiers from tables. For every ability there's own table of modifiers.

My abilities are:

Strength: 10 (modifier to hit, damage, and forcing doors: 0)
Dexterity: 10 (modifier to AC, missile attacks, and initiative: 0)
Constitution: 9 (modifier to hit points: 0)
Intelligence: 12 (additional languages: 0, able to read and write)
Wisdom: 11 (saving throw modifier: 0)
Charisma: 13 (reaction -1, retainers 5, retainer morale 8)

I see a Magic-User here!

2. Choosing A Class

It's Magic-User because of high Intelligence. My intelligence is not high enough for experience bonus though.
I need 2,501 experience points to reach second level.

3. Hit Points

Magic-User's hit die is very low, 1d4! It doesn't matter that much do I roll 1 or 4, I better stay in the middle anyways and try not to get stabbed at all. Rolled 3, I might survive a blow... or two if I am lucky.

4. Spells

I can memorize one spell per day, but I decide I have two first level and two second level spells in my magic book. I determine these starting spells randomly. My spells are:

  • Sleep (1st lvl): This is extremely handy spell for crowd control.
  • Read magic (1st lvl): This should be class ability rather than a spell in my opinion, because it is essential for Magic-Users to learn new spells from other spell books. Glad I got it!
  • Detect Invisible (2nd lvl)
  • Mirror Image (2nd lvl): My "extra lives" in combat. For every mirrored image I get a free hit I can take.
5. Saves

We are close to where saves are in the book, so let's write those down. Saves are the same for every M-U of levels 1-5 unless you get a bonus from high Wisdom for magic effects. My saves are:

Breath Attacks: 16
Poison or Death: 13
Petrify or Paralyze: 13
Wands: 13
Spells or Spell-like Devices: 14

6. Alignment

I choose my alignment to be neutral. No need to be Lawful nor Chaotic. I just walk my own path.

7. Languages

I can speak and write common and alignment. If I had higher Intelligence, I could know some extra languages.

8. Starting Wealth And Equipment

3d6 for starting gold gives me 150 gp. Time to buy stuff! I get:
  • Silver dagger (only weapon I can use and no armors for me! It's silver though so it can harm some supernatural beings. More expensive though...)
  • Five scroll cases
  • Backpack to carry all my mage's stuff around
  • Garlic, three gloves (makes rations taste good and for supernatural monsters to sniff)
  • Ink, quill pen (to write scrolls and spells)
  • Lantern and oil (to be able to read and write in dark)
  • 10 sheets of parchment
  • Rations for 5 days, preserved
  • Large sack for loot of magical in nature
  • Wolfsbane, fistful
  • Guard dog (my loyal friend and security)
51 gp and 1 sp in pockets after shopping.

And my AC is 9, unarmored.

9. Finishing Touches

All done! Now my Magic-User needs a name. He shall be called Dom Wiz. It is not his birth name, but the name he was given in mage's college. He was just a peasant with normal name what didn't fit the guild's reputation.

The guild's teacher of herbology found Dom when he was only four years old, alone in the woods. His parents were eaten by a werewolf and Dom was saved to be a desert. Luckily herbalogist Magic-User found Dom before this and saved him.

Dom started as servant but his adopt father teached him little things every now and then. Seeing potential in him he suggested that Dom should become a student in mage's guild. That didn't happen but Dom's adopt father got a permission to teach Dom as long as it didn't affect his duties.

That's how Dom learned arts of magic and herbology.

His adopt father now dead he has no real place in guild. He packed his belongings and took his favorite dog and left to find his own path...

Now in this tavern he stopped by, there looks to be adventurers in the corner reading a treasure map...