We managed another online session this weekend. Sure Owlbear Rodeo was having some server problems but we worked around it.
So here’s a little recap. The party was hired to help one of the local nobles find his missing daughter. They soon find out that the local Temple of Set was also looking for a girl and quickly deduce that they are all looking for the same person.
After some shenanigans, the party finally gets an audience with the High Priest of the Temple of Set. Of course, he looks like this.
I couldn’t help myself. Here they learn that that temple doesn’t want to sacrifice her. They want to outright kill her. According to the High Priest, Kalia, the girl, is a gateway and will become the mortal vessel of the ancient evil serpent god Yig. The only way to stop it is to kill her. The High Priest offers to double the reward from the noble if they help. The little mercenaries agree.
They do a little more detective and find a tavern that seems to be under new management. They go in, they get suspicious, and the fight breaks out. Panicked bar patrons, brute guards, and oh yeah Serpent People. Spells and body parts go flying. The party’s henchman, Daryl, is killed in the fray. A pair of burly serpent man guards try to rush Kalia out of the tavern but the party prevails.
And things get more interesting now. The Druid was still in wolf form and quickly notices that the “girl” they are rescuing isn’t Kalia. The Serpent folk assassin drops her disguise spell, fails to stab anybody, and gets cut down quickly.
That’s when they notice one of the “dancing girls” hasn’t fled. She drops her disguise spell and it’s Kalia. Just evil green-glowing-eyes Kalia. She mutters, “You just can’t find good help. You can’t stop me, mortals.” She blasts the party with a spell, dominates the Barbarian and orders him not to let his friends leave this room, and she runs.
The chase is short. Only two characters manage to get passed the Barbarian, the Monk and the Courtier. Kalia with the use of a few spells easily looses them.
So the party got to confront the big bad of the campaign and they survived.
Well, we had another session of the 5E Sword & Sorcery game this weekend. I didn’t post about the last session but then I should have. So I’ll throw a little bit of that in here too.
The party had just rescued their favorite henchman, Bob, from being possessed by an ancient necromaner. This whole adventure was my own quick take on the Necromaner’s Knife from The Spider-God’s Bride and Other Tales.
After a bout of carousing, the party is approached by Lord Josef (a minor noble in the city). He needs to rescue his kidnapped daughter, Kalia. They haggle for even more money but in the end agree to help. Since this an investigative session, there was no combat at all and I’m only go to do the highlights here and not in chronological order.
Their first round of investigation they learned that that Josef has not received a ransom demand. They eliminated any actions my rival noble house. They also learn that the local Temple of Set is searching for a woman who bears the mark of the Serpent Star. It doesn’t take them long to figure out that the missing Kalia is the one who bears this mark (according to her handmaidens). They deduce based on the cult’s actions that they haven’t this out yet.
The party does a little research on the Temple of Set and the Legend of the Serpent Star. They learn that there are two factions within the Cult of Set. One believed that Set and Yig are just two names for the same god. While the “orthodox” view is that Set is the son/brother of the ancient serpent god Yig the Father of Serpents. Set tricks and imprisons Yig to steal his power.
The party questions Kalia’s hand maidens and searches her room. They learn that Kalia has been having nightmares the last few weeks. In the room, they find an ancient hold symbol of Yig, a small book written in an ancient language that no one in the party can decipher, and some pieces of the snake skin in her bed (as if a snake had molted). They also find the marks where a grappling hook was attached to her window and where one was used on the wall surrounding the villa. The party’s Druid changes into a wolf and literally begins snooping around. She tracks Kalia from her window across the courtyard to and over the wall. Kalia travels further into the city (in the opposite direction from the the Temple of Set) and meets a snake? And shortly after that the Druid lost the trail in the city.
The party takes the small book to a sage for translation. It’s short and the sage tells them to return the next day for the translation. They return and the sage has been murdered and the book is gone. Examination of the body reveals that while the sage did suffer wounds from a fight the main cause of death was from what appears to be an unusually large venomous snake bite. They also find a scrap of parchment in the sage’s hand. Written on it, “I shall return.”
Yes, it’s time again for me to start thinking about what to run next. I know that my little gaming group is only a few sessions into the 5E game but I always start planning months out. And there’s a lot reasons I’m doing it on this one.
It’s all about really coming to grips about what I really like. I’ve always leaned more towards Sword & Sorcery and coloring outside of the lines just a bit but never going full Edgelord. Never go full Edgelord. I really love house ruling, kit bashing, and just tweaking rules. And lastly. 5E is just really loosing its luster for me. Sure, when it first came out. I liked it. And I still think it’s a good game system for a vanilla modern D&D setting. But I just think it won’t work that well with kind of game this going to turn into.
I went a long time without going “Oh wow! That’s cool.” But a few publishers really sparked my imagination. Planet X Games with the Phylactery Zines and Magic & Shit; the wild and crazy adventures by Dark Wizard Games; the Black Label adventures by Art of the Genre; and finally the recent Kickstarter for Hypreborea. To put it simple, these folks are talking my language. A little pulpy, grind house, B-Move Inspired weird fantasy material with a dark sense of humor without going full on Edgelord. So I have to fully admit that this sort of thing is right in my wheelhouse.
My first step is come up with what game I want to use the foundation/chassis to build this campaign around then start adding bits and pieces to make the characters fit the setting/genre.
I know I’ve ranted a lot about Barbaric! And it has a lot going for it. It’s an easy system for new players to pick up. Character generation is very quick and easy. And it’s cheap. (I won’t need to be asking players to shell out a bunch of money). There a couple of things going against it. Most of my players are only familiar with d20 based games (especially 5e) and I have so much material that based on old school d20 games on hand. I suppose I could convert the adventures and stuff. But it add another layer to any GM prep time and, well, I’m lazy. And I’m not sure how well it would work for a long term campaign.
I’m also looking at White Box. So it fulfills the cheap for the players and d20 based. The rules are very simple and I’ve done plenty of hacks on them. The only minor thing is converting monster damage and spells from later editions like BX or even AD&D. It wouldn’t be that hard. So that’s a definite possibility.
Swords & Wizardry has been my go to old school game for a long time. Some of the group even played in Blight Campaign. Easy to house rule and convert on the fly. The monster stat blocks are really easy to use and there are ton of monsters available. So yeah there’s that one.
Old School Essentials/Labyrinth Lord OK, these two are basically the same game. I did run a Labyrinth Lord game for the group and they liked it. I do have to say that OSE is the old-school darling of the day and is laid out and organized much better. Lamentations of the Flame Princess also basically has many of the same rules and some interesting spells.
Hyperborea has taken a lot my attention of late and the setting itself is very close to whole vibe I’m going for. While there are some extras from AD&D era, I don’t think it’s anything really overwhelming.
These games for me start with the best frame works to start working from. Sure I do love me some Dungeon Crawl Classics and Castles & Crusades does have a special place in my heart. But so much of what I’m planning is a total Franken-Game. Grabbing the best bits from various games or just being inspired by them. So yeah there will bits and ideas from all of the above but right now I’m trying to think which one I’m going to hack apart and put back together with the extra ideas and inspiration. What’s strange is that I’ve already got 40 pages of notes that I’ve copied and pasted from old house rules, random ideas, and various inspirational material. So needless to say, the final setup will have a bit of a different vibe going for it.
So I guess this really long post is a gigantic teaser about what’s coming up here on the blog and maybe on my Patreon.
Like this post or others? You can support the blog.
I admit that I didn’t back the Kickstarter on this one. I wish I had. I’ve heard good things about it so I grabbed up a copy. I’m going to do this little in parts, the Rules and then setting.
First up, let’s talk about the rules. It’s got a nice little set of lite 2d6 rules based on a roll under your attribute mechanic. There are “skills” but they really aren’t skills. They are more like classes. From what I can gather from the brief rules, characters ability scores get better but when it comes to skills, it’s either you have it or don’t. Not really a scale. Damage is determined by margin of success modified by the weapon or hazard. All of this outlined in only a few pages in the book.
Since it’s a 2d6 based system, my first thought was to think about Barbaric! While Barbaric! is a rules light game, it is crunchier than the Warpland rules. But there’s some mechanics that be lifted from the Warpland rules and added to a Barbaric! game. Similar to my post on Barbaric! for Lemuria, the classes as skills concept could be modified and act as a replacement for the standard Barbaric! skills. Warpland also has a simpler but just about as deadly crit system based on the damage type. Easy to port over. There aren’t a lot of spells but once again with a little tweaking (adding a TN) then those to are easily converted. But because of the difference in mechanics, especially the way damage works and how much characters can take, it’d be more challenging to try to convert any monsters.
Yes, I know what some of you are thinking. Why not just play Warpland the way it is? Well, you can and you can have a good time doing it. But this leads me into the second part of this rant. The setting.
This is where Warpland really shines for me. The setting is a dark weird fantasy/post apocalyptic grim place. You’ve standard fantasy type stuff like magic and you’ve got forbidden technology that could get you burned at the stake.
What I really like about it is that it’s inspirational. There’s a simple map plus a few pages for each location. Most of those pages are used for random tables. It doesn’t lead you around and tell you what’s what but instead inspires both the players and the GM to make that specific game interesting. This takes up the bulk of the book and is pretty much system neutral. So like I was ranting about previously you could easily use it for Barbaric! or even whatever d20 based retroclone that you like such as OSE, Swords & Wizardry, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Hyperborea, or even with a polish Dungeon Crawl Classics. Personally, I’m looking at Hypreborea but more on that later.
Did I mention inspirational? Yeah, I did. I rarely comment on a game’s artwork but Warpland is really inspirational with a variety of really cool art.