DIY Dungeon Terrain

So I’ve had this idea for quite a while and finally the folks over at Gnome Stew threw up this little post and I finally got off my butt and made some simple and inexpensive Dungeon Terrain.

Here’s the materials list:

3/4 inch x 3/4 inch (That’s about 2 CM x 2 CM) square doweling (I got three 3 foot pieces, so that’s 9 feet of wall and it cost only about $7.50).

Spray Primer (Already had in the garage but should only cost a couple of bucks.)

Gray and Black paint (Once again, I already this laying around but only a couple of bucks more.)

Clear Acrylic Spray Coat (Yes, I have a lot stuff around the garage but only a couple of bucks more.)

Depending on good your selection of local home improvement stores is, you’ll probably spend between $15 and $20.

1. Cut the dowels into conveint lengths.  (I did 1 inch for doors, then 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 inch lengths.)

2. Sand down any rough spots.

3. Prime it.

4. Paint it.

5. Seal it.  And you are done.

I decided to go with 3/4 inch for a couple of reasons. One there was a huge price difference between 3/4 and 1 inch.  Also, I wanted the walls to be shorter than the miniatures.  There’s always one person who won’t lean forward or stand up to see that “hidden” orc behind the wall in front of them.

You can paint as much detail as you want.  I just went with a simple gray and then painted black lines every inch or so.  I’m not that exact when it comes to laying out dungeons.  It’s just one of those things that I think “close enough” is good enough.

Yes, I just realized that the door is upside down.

Another cool thing you can do is make stairs with the various lengths.

Dwarves always want to smack the elf upside the head.

So there you go. Some inexpensive, durable, easy to make and light weight dungeon terrain.

I Love World Building

Really, I do. For me it’s a neat little creative exercise. Creating a setting that’s just rife with adventure seeds. That has its own feel and all sorts of ways the players can go out and adventure.
Hell, it’s almost like playing the game. As each little bit is created, it’s just like when the characters learn something new. There’s that odd bit excitement and the feeling of anticipation to go and see what the next city, dungeon or whatever is like. As I’m creating this I’m discovering. Damn, it’s fun.
You know what else is fun? Twisting the tropes and putting the completely unexpected out there. Let’s be honest. We’re at point that if you don’t start putting a little spin on all those tropes things are going to get pretty boring. And nobody likes boring.

My Home Brew Hack Has A Name

You know there just so many retroclones out there. Some folks say too many. Meh. Every one of them adds just a little bit more to my little tool box of ideas. A new way to this or that. An interesting take on a monster, class or spell. So as long there is something at least a little bit new, I can find a use for it.
But any way I got tired of just calling my own little kitbash “Home Brew Hack”. I wasn’t really trying to come up with a name but one popped into my little brain and stayed there.
YARC. That’s right YARC. “Yet Another Retro Clone”.

Occult Moon’s Toys for the Sandbox

I’ve been meaning to pick up a few of these for a long time and like a fool I didn’t put it down on the good old shopping list. Yeah, I just juggle too many things. But good old Erik from Tenkar’s Tavern had a little contest to create some fun 0 level Dungeon Crawl Classics characters and I was one of the winners. My bit of loot Toys for the Sandbox 6 to 10.
Damn. What the hell was I thinking when I didn’t scrawl these down in big red letters. Buy them! One thing I look for in RPG products these is bang for the buck. The Toys fit right into. What these give you is a location and myriad of possibilities and inspiration complete with plot twists, encounters and rumors. And it’s pretty darned easy to find ways to use one of the locations in multiple ways.
Even more bonus. They are system and setting neutral.
Even more bonus. They are inexpensive.
So go check out Occult Moon’s site or check out their stuff on Drivethrurpg. You won’t be sorry.

Dungeonslayers 4 In English!

OK, seems I’m rattling on about products but there’s just seem to be a string of stuff that just keeps popping up. (Note: Yeah, that’s going to continue next week.) But dang. Dungeonslayers 4 in English. Way cool.
I’ve always been a fan of Dungeonslayers. It’s got some great simple mechanics and all the fun of the old school stuff. It’s always on the very top of my list when a potential gamer asks about for a suggestion on a first game. The cost is awesomely low. Like free and released under a Creative Commons license. There’s minimal for a new gamer. Just need a d20. And if the new person is nice, I might even just give him one. Mini’s. Yeah, we all know they are useful but you can get by with tokens or whatever when you’re first starting out.
Now if that ain’t enough for you to check it out. There’s plenty of fan made adventures, settings and supplements. So just go check it out already.

Realms of Crawling Chaos for Labryrinth Lord

OK, so I admit it. This one slipped under my radar and it shouldn’t have. But I have no qualms about doing a rant about a product that isn’t brand spanking new.

This little product is pretty damned cool. Hell, everybody loves a freaky Mythos adventure. Realms of Crawling Chaos is all about Lovecraftian horrors. There’s good advice and background info for twisting your campaign and there’s some Mythos inspired races. Cool. The usual (or maybe I should unusual) array of monsters and spells presented. Once, these are really cool. And there’s a psionics system ala the Old School way.
But there some places where this really just stands out in my mind. These are things that could be added to more normal campaigns to spice things up.
Formulae are alchemical processes akin to spells. Not just brewing up a Cure Light Wounds potion. We’re talking the weird and just a bit disturbing stuff that comes along with messing with Things Man Was Not Meant To Know.
Eldritch Artifacts chapter is just fucking awesome. Like a lot of folks, I’ve grown weary of the Magical Wal-Mart stocked full of generic items. Anything that breaks out of this mold is a welcome addition. Hell, even if you aren’t running a Mythos based game this is some good inspiration. A need I say that there’s also a nifty random artifact section. Good way to keep those players guessing at just what kind mystical bauble they’ve picked up.
Finally, there’s a section on studying tomes of forgotten lore. This is something that should happen pretty often in a game. Wizards are always poking around on the edges of what is possible and what should just be left alone. Here’s a good little system for that. Yet another good tool for the game master.
For just under $5, it’s a damned good buy with plenty of tools and crap to throw into a campaign. Realms of Crawling Chaos is available from Drivethrurpg. Enjoy!

Races: Go Gonzo!

The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope a has the videos of a really cool discussion from NTRGPCon about Gonzo gaming. I mean really folks, you’re there to have fun. And in my humble opinion, one of the best ways to go Gonzo in your game is with player character races. So here I go again painting things with broad stokes and just brainstorming a little.
Let’s face it the standard fit out of races has gotten pretty damned boring. Also, players want their characters to be cool. So instead of having a couple dozen classes that are only slightly different from one another make some of your standard “monsters” available as races for player characters and like I did before tweak and twist some of the tropes of the standard races. I already started down this path with some preliminary notes on a Sexy Alien Elves, Hillbilly Dwarves and  Pragmatic Orcs.
Hey but what about game balance? OSR games are a slave to number crunching but there still needs to be some balance. The idea here is not to overboard but still make some neat choices and keep things freaking simple. Let’s take on that big elephant in the room. Everybody wants to play Drow. Oh, admit it. To that I’m saying screw it. Nope. Just make Elves freakier and just a tad bit evil and mysterious. What about Dragons? Hmm, maybe that’s a good one. Maybe I can run with that.
There’s another 800 pound gorilla in the room too. Especially, when talking about races in an old school game. That’s racial classes. There are good arguments on both sides of this debate. I stand firmly in the middle and proclaim, “It depends.” First, the racial class has to be special and not just a rehash of another class. It has to have some flexibility so not every member of a race turns into a cookie cutter Fighter/Magic User (You know what I’m talking about.) It also has to be cool. Just doing it to do it or doing to balance more powerful races just for the sake of some sort game balance.
Let’s break down what I plan on ending up with when I start hacking into the crunch bits of this Frankengame.
The Standard Races: Humans, Elves and Dwarves are in. Half-Orcs and Half-Elves are out. I’m just tired of Half-Races. I don’t know why. Halflings and Gnomes are just about the same damned thing so make them just one race. Let’s call them Gnomlings.
“Monster” races: Like I said Half-Orcs out. But Orcs are in. Here’s some other creatures that are up for consideration (in no particular order): Centaur, Lizardfolk, Ogre, Bugbear, Goblin, Kobold, Minotaur.
Some Monster Races that would take a little tweaking of fluff but still have some good potential: Satyr, Lamia, Nymph, Dryad, Medusa, Naga, Doppleganer.
I admit that I said I hated Half-Races. But for some odd reason, I find Tieflings and Asamir to both be pretty cool. So they deserve some gonzoing up and twisting to make them a little more interesting.
I can’t say that these ideas just came about. Our little group has played plenty of gonzo type games with Pathfinder and 3.X. And I’ve seen the dangers of over powered races and how too much crunch from too many sources can end up dragging a game to halt. And also there Zak S. over at D&D with Porn Stars. Hell, his game is totally gonzo and totally cool. Just dig back and see what kind of characters are in his game and all the tweaks he’s done to so many of the standard tropes.

Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun!

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