All posts by Chuck

I've been a gamer, a geek and nerd for about 30 years. Any questions?

Cursed Scroll Zine Issue No 1

I’ve already blogged about the upcoming Shadowdark RPG and guess what there’s already on official zine. I know the first thing you’re thinking, “If the game isn’t out yet then how is there a zine?” Here’s what I’ve learned so far. First, the beta rules are available and free. The rules are solid but there’s some art and a little layout to be done. I’m going to assume there might be some minor rules tweaks or other editing but like I said the rules are solid. ETA on the published version is Spring 2022. And the rules are a kissing cousin to old school systems so conversion to your rule set of choice won’t be that hard.

Sure, you can call me a fanboy but I grabbed this up when I found out about it. So what do you get with this? There’s a mini Hex Crawl, The Gloaming. It’s complete with rumors, adventure hooks, random encounters, and several subplots and mysteries. You could plenty of sessions just out of The Gloaming. But it does have a solid horror vibe to it so be advised but it isn’t over the top Edgelord stuff. Yeah, I’m so planning using in my upcoming campaign.

Then there’s a First Level adventure too! The Hideous Halls of Mugdulblub! It’s a weird and warped dungeon crawl. Once again, I think it’s pretty cool. Of course, you could just listen to the author (a few minor spoilers).

But wait there’s more. Three new classes. Witch, Warlock, and Knights of St. Ydnis. So Warlock is pretty like the 5E style Warlock but the zine comes with its own Warlock Patrons and none of them are touchy feely types. They’re pretty mean and basically evil. The Witch comes with it’s familiar and their own spell list. So yes. there’s new spells in here too. The Knights of St Ydnis are pretty interesting. They’ve sworn to fight evil by embracing it. This is sort of a Gish type class (Fighter/Magic-User). They use the Witch Spell List and gain spells at a slower rate than full casters but also have decent combat abilities augmented by demonic possession.

So we got classes, spells, a hexcrawl, and an adventure. Since there’s a hexcrawl and adventure that also means there’s also new monsters. And there’s even a random Diabolic Treasure table to finish things off.

Overall, it’s a good zine and worth the money. I’ve paid more for less gaming content. You can grab up the Cursed Scroll at The Arcane Library.

YARC Behind the Screen: Monsters & NPC’s

Everything I’ve posted about YARC has been player facing stuff. This is where the whole tone of any game really happens in my opinion. It’s the options that are available for the player character that make things move. And that part is basically done. The players have a draft of the rules and it will be time to start rolling some dice in the near future. But now I want to start looking behind the screen and stuff to make the life of the DM easier.

One of the most useful axioms is that monsters and NPC’s don’t have to follow the same rules as player characters. Sure a DM can use that to cheat and just outright kill or outshine the PC’s but the true intent is to make the DM’s job easier. The less time that the DM has flip through rule books or try to puzzle out a page long monster stat block is time away from actually keeping the excitement up. This where so many of the old school games shine. Easy and to the point monster stat blocks.

If you remember from the early posts, another goal of YARC to make it so that the DM could grab just any old school adventure and quickly and easily convert it while running it.

If we boil monsters down to their most basic, there’s three things that become the core mechanics of monster: HD, AC, and Damage. Hit Dice are basically a monster’s level. It’s how many Hit Points they have plus how powerful they are overall. Sure you could roll for HP but I’m running a standard of 5 HP/HD. As far as Attack and Save Bonuses. That’s the HD. Armor Class can be just from what’s listed or compare it to what the AC might be for a player character and if you’re using a source that only has Descending AC the just take 19-AC to get the Ascending AC. Damage same thing. Just use it or think of it in terms of the what’s available to the player characters. Then adjust or run any special abilities as needed. No this isn’t a scientific approach. It’s a lot of instinct and what feels right. So let’s make a freaky swamp monster

It’s pretty tough for single low characters but it’s going to go against a whole party. Let’s give it HD : 3. So it’s got 15 HP and +3 to Attack and make any checks and Saves.

It’s got a tough rubbery hide. Let’s say that’s about leather armor so AC: 12.

Its got long nasty claws. Those are sort of like daggers but it’s really strong so let’s make damage: 1d6.

It’s a Freaky Swamp Monster so it needs a couple of freaky powers. It lives in a swamp so it should be aquatic. I know let’s make it a stealthy predator so give it Advantage on Stealth type checks in a swamp. And last let’s give it a Swamp Gas power. It’s a fog that blinds and disorients everybody but it.

Now, I know that for higher HD monsters the HD as bonus thing breaks. So I’m running with a max bonus of +10. So a HD 18 Demon Lord would have only a +10 and 90 HP. It’s a good max while it does make the monster powerful without being overpowered plus anything with that many HD is going to have really nasty special abilities that really won’t depend on hitting high level characters in combat.

And those special abilities are where a lot of monsters shine. Don’t even thing putting those into a paragraph or a sentence for use at the game table.

  • Just
  • Use
  • Bullets

IMHO, too many monster books are just too damn wordy.

I call them Death & Taxes

Let’s talk about NPC’s a bit. Unnamed, and unimportant NPC’s basically use a monster stat block. That city guard, random pickpocket, tavern keep, or merchant. They are all going to be 1 to 2 HD and might not ever be seen again or you might need even any combat stats for them. And that’s an important note right there. If an NPC isn’t going to get into combat then you don’t need stats for them.

Here’s a confession. Vasha of the Night Market is an NPC that I’ve used in two campaigns. At the very least, the player character know up front that she’s a powerful magic-user. With even the smallest bit of research, they learn that the city elders let her do pretty much whatever she wants. She’s the only person that the head of local Thieves Guild actually fears. It’s clear to the players that if they do something stupid then eight kinds of hell is going to come raining down on them. I’ve never made any kind of stat block for her.

But if that NPC is the big bad. Oh hell yes. Go crazy and make that cool stat block. And make one’s for NPC that are reoccurring that you just need to have them go into combat either with or against the player characters.

Then there’s that special time that you want make an NPC with a whole sheet just like a player character. Always keep one of those in reserve.In case a player doesn’t show up or even if there happens to an extra player show up.

I know this has been a rambling post. So it’s time for me to shut up. I’ve got a game to prep for this weekend.

And here’s the Freaky Swamp Monster

HD: 3 (15 HP)

AC: 12

  • Aquatic
  • Advantage on Stealth
  • Swamp Gas: Blocks vision further than 10 feet. Save Vs Magic or Confused.

What’s in store for 2022

So what’s going to happen on the good old blog this year? Well, hopefully a lot. And I want to try a few new things. But there ‘s some caveats.

Yeah that may sound pretty pretentious. That’s not my intention. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Controversy outweighs content. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of all keyboard warriors who’s only contribution is complaining about the most current bit of outrage. Sure there are very important societal issues that should and need to be addressed. Of course, any reasonable discussion is drowned out by shrill name calling and just plain childish exchanges. You really see this on FB. There’s groups that I’ve belonged to for years. They used to be fun. They used to be about gaming. Just scroll through the posts. Any gamable content or a review. That’s crickets. Dare mention something slightly political or an opinion that may be different and folks who have contributed nothing suddenly spring out of the shadows and start throwing shit. So with that being said, most of gaming related networking is going to be on MeWe. I know lot’s of folks don’t like it for whatever reason. There’s some good folks over there. And you get out of it, what you put in. Sure I’ll be on Facebook but I’m going to limit my interactions over there. It just ain’t worth my time.

Then there’s Patreon. I have such mixed feelings about it. There’s a couple of things that I don’t like. Some of it isn’t their fault like having to collect sales tax based on the location of the Patron. I know it’s petty but I just feel like it’s the Patron’s are the one’s getting screwed. Maybe I shouldn’t care about it but I do. The other is buried in their Terms of Service. It’s mostly forgotten but they were changed a few years ago. They can punt you if you do something that they don’t like that is off of the platform. Sure I know the usual arguments but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. But on the brighter side, they are adding some pretty cool new features this year. So I may have to swallow my pride. But I am exploring the possibility expanding onto KoFi. And see what happens. Nothing says you can’t have both and it’s up to the individuals on how and if they want to support the old blog.

And also speaking of expanding. I just throw a couple of things up on Itch.io just to see what happens. Plus I have had the strange temptation to do some post videos. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I dropped the podcast since it really wasn’t the time efficient for me. I know videos will take more time. Also, there’s already so damn many. I just have to see what strangeness pops into my head and see how far it goes.

What RPG stuff? Well, that’s going to be interesting. I’ve already been asked if I’m going to publish the frankengame house rules of my YARC project. I may. Right now, it’s pages of notes that are fine for a handout to my players. It will take a lot of polish. Plus there’s a few things in that I’m using that may not be open game content so I have to double check and fix any of that. So there’s a good chance something will emerge on the publishing side. Plus there’s about half a dozen other things that I’ve started. Be nice to get some of those done.

So as I started this post, 2022 is a year where I’m going to do my own damn thing. Post about the gaming stuff I like. When I’ve had my fill of stupid, I might post about things I don’t like. But I want to focus on things that I think are cool and fun. I want to expand and explore some new platforms for sharing content. Maybe do a few weird and quirky things to see what happens. So stay tuned as various crazy things come together. Most importantly, I want to have fun in 2022. That’s what gaming is supposed to be about. Entertainment.

Predictions 2022: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Just like everybody else, I got my predictions. But I want to start of with the positive first.

The Good: There’s a couple of things that am I excited about that should be released this year. The Shadowdark RPG looks pretty good. You’ve got all the old school goodness while adding some of the newer mechanics. It’s been a long time since I actually got excited about a game coming out. This is going to be welcome addition to the gaming library and I’ve already added some of the mechanics to my own home brew. Release is scheduled for Spring 2022.

There’s another game that I’m really interested to see and that’s the Goblinslayer TTRPG (English) version. This was supposed to come out in February but has been pushed back to April (at the time of this writing). Say what you will but I really want see this game and possibly some alternate design philosophies and from what I can understand it should be fairly rules lite. But we shall see.

The Bad: Oh WOTC….They say they’ll revive some classic settings. Just like Hollywood attempts reboots. Me thinks, they’ll stink.

The Ugly: This kind of goes with “The Bad” but may be we redefine D&D as Division & Drama. Various platforms are going to sink further into the cesspool. IMHO, so much of this is driven by narcissism, virtue signalling, attention whoring, self righteousness, and some folks just get off on the drama. Let’s face it. Everyone has a pretty tough last couple of years. How about just try to be decent, mature people. That may be too much to ask from some.

Let me pull back from the stink hole and end with the positive. Let’s go out there this year and have some fun. Roll those dice. Kill those monsters. And have fun.

The Year in Review: 2021

Man. It’s been one hell of year. We thought that just may be things would get better but a lot didn’t. But enough about that. What happened here on the blog and it’s associated places on the web?

Let’s stick the more positive things that happened. Two Copper Bestsellers on DrivethruRPG. That’s pretty good for me. Blog traffic steadily increased from last year by about 15%. The odd part of that is that I just gave up cross posting to various Facebook Groups in July and it didn’t make any difference. I took a little time and started looking more closely at the posts in groups and the activity. In general, if a post was actually about gaming like a review or actual gamable content then it was crickets. If it was about the outrage of the day then people would come out screaming. And it just isn’t things I posted. It didn’t matter who posted it. Outrage click bait just seemed to drive Facebook.

Wizards just want to have fun.

What else happened over the year? Well, I pulled the plug on the podcast. Yeah, that’s kind of negative but the amount of time I was spending doing that took away from blogging and just didn’t seem to be the most efficient use of my time.

I also want to give out some shout outs to the things that I think were the coolest.

The coolest game that I stumbled upon has got to be Barbaric! It’s quick, easy and simple.

The coolest RPG App is Owlbear Rodeo. I know it’s been out a while and fought going virtual for way too long. But it’s become my go to VTT.

And finally, an honorable mention goes to Kanka.io. Once again, I’ve fought going online with a lot of my RPG stuff. After playing around with it for a couple of months, it’s the one I like. Handy for getting the campaign fluff out to a geographically challenged gaming group.

I know that this is short post. Like others, I ‘m getting ready to kick 2021 ass to the curb and give 2022 a stern, warning look. I got crazy plans and some even crazier predictions for next year but you’re just going to have to wait until next week for that.

Till then HAPPY NEW YEAR!