'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

Showing posts with label Pathfinder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pathfinder. Show all posts

Friday, February 15, 2019

Friday's Forgotten Fiends: The Essence of Beyond

Welcome back to another installment of Friday's Forgotten Fiends! Custom monsters for your RPG table feature stat blocks for Conan 2d20 and Dungeons and Dragons 5e as well as paper 28mm miniatures and VTT tokens!

The candles flickered in the circle around the old wizard. His blade was raised above him in symbolism of ritual sacrifice. The bronze bowl before him held the still warm heart of some unfortunate soul, either human or a large animal, only he knew. with his circle of power intact, his sacrifice prepared he began the chant in some long forgotten tongue taught to him by his ancient master so many years ago.

He had enemies, and he intended to summon a dark thing to do his bidding and have is revenge. He would no longer be the laughing stock in his village. He would show them all the power he possessed! After chanting for what seemed like an eternity he felt the very veil grow thin as the air around him grew cold, and in a final motion his blade struck down into the heart completing the ritual and unleashing the dark forces all around him.

He could almost hear the great tear open between our two world, as the gash opened, and he called forth his creature. Within moments a dark smoke like foot stepped through the tear, fel energy swirling and coalescing around it.

The last thing he saw was a claw of smoke and a mouth filled with row after row of gleaming white teeth. The chamber was filled with the protests and then screams of the wizard as the dark thing took it's price for his desires. When it had had it's fill of his flesh the thing stood and left the chamber, off to do what it was summoned to do. Behind it the great portal slowly stitched itself back together, and in a moment all that remained was the wizard's body as it was slowly consumed by the remnants of the dark energy that game through with the beast. In moments what can only be described as the Essence of Beyond remained, hungry and angry.

These blobs of malignant energy are the remnants of dark sorcery gone wrong, a merger of the one who summoned forth the magic, and the magic itself. They are a manifestation of the outer dark made physical in our world. Typically found on old places of power such as a ruined temple or ancient sunken city, these things feed on our world, and especially on the life forms in our world. These being simple manifestations of power have coalesced into semi-sentient and hostile creatures. Although having no magic themselves, and being relatively easily vanquished, their very nature can make them difficult to pin down and strike, and in that process many warriors have fallen to these.

Conan 2d20

D&D 5e

VTT Tokens

Paper Minis!

And finally paper minis!


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Friday, February 8, 2019

Friday's Forgotten Fiends: The Boar of Nergal

Welcome back to another installment of Friday's Forgotten Fiends! Custom monsters for your RPG table feature stat blocks for Conan 2d20 and Dungeons and Dragons 5e as well as paper 28mm miniatures and VTT tokens!

The shepherd lounged under a large tree. The air was warm and clear and the sun shone down bright across the meadow lands. A small flock of sheep munched happily on the green grass emitting only the occasional bleating. Arvad was happy with things, predators had been few and far between and his flock grew fat providing wool and food for his family and money for his pockets.

In an instant everything had changed, the throng of sheep broken and running in all directions as a Boar or Nergal stalked into their midst killing what would surely be more than its fat belly could eat. It seemed to be killing for sport as much as anything, a keen intelligence in its eyes as it turned and spotted Arvad. With a low growl it stalked towards the small man, sitting shocked beneath the tree.

In a smooth action Arvad took up his spear and slid to his feet slowly as the monster continued its slow methodical approach. Leveling the spear, the shepherd planted the spear at his feet as he waited for the infernal creature to come for him. The beast continued its slow approach and as it did its true size began to show itself, easily as tall as a man at the shoulders, gleaming red eyes and yellowed teeth and tusks glistened in the sun, now stained with the blood of his sheep. With a slight pause the massive head is lowered and in a flash nearly one thousand pounds of predator charged towards him. Arvad could do nothing but grip the spear tighter, aim its point, close his eyes and pray to Mitra.......

The giant pig like creatures are some long forgotten remnant of a time best left forgotten, when giant beasts ruled over the lands. They generally favor the northern plains of Shem where the pastoral lands meet the low foothills of the Mountains of Khoraja. Although these creatures are generally solitary they live in small loose knit herd-like communities, coming across one means more are almost certainly nearby. Named for the dark god of death, Nergal, these creatures, although resembling boars are actually fierce predators. It is not uncommon to see them hunt the largest game.

This beast is based on the real life animal known as the "HELL PIG", but I didn't want to simply call it that, I wanted something more... Hyborian. So I went out onto the Internet and looked up gods, I found a nice list on Xoth.net. I did perhaps make a small error in ONLY using that site as it uses all sources for the Hyborian Age, not just REH. There is nothing wrong with that, but I would prefer to use REH as a first source and pastiches as a second source.

Do not worry though, as I found a story fragment on the Internet this morning, The Hand of Nergal, which makes me cheer a little in that the name I have chosen is both fairly fitting and REH.

Don't forget to scroll all the way to the end to see a new feature I am looking to add to these to supplement the stat blocks and VTT tokens!

Alright as Matt from Rogues in the House loves to say....

"ENOUGH TALK!"

Conan 2d20

D&D 5e

VTT Tokens

Paper Minis!

And finally paper minis!


If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

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Make sure you don't miss a single post and subscribe by e-mail today!

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Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Story Seed Tuesday: Suns

Welcome to the first of a new weekly series we are going to try on Starships & Steel, "Story Seed Tuesday".

Whether you play Dungeons and Dragons 5e, Rifts or Traveller I hope you find a story idea in one of these articles.

Starships

Articles like this began to pop-up recently: Sun will Turn Into a Solid Crystal

WOAH. When I first saw these pop-up I was blown away, I'm pretty sure I haven't encountered that in sci-fi, and immediately my mind turned to a small starship on approach to a massive crystal hanging infront of it in the heavens.

  • Did this crystallization cause a civilization to die?
  • Did an advanced species mine the ancient star?
  • Is the crystal integral to the villain's doomsday machine?
  • Is something alive in the giant crystal?
  • Is it a backdrop to a giant orbital station?

Steel

Giant crystalline suns will be hard to beat, but lets keep suns as the theme of the day.

As you move towards the poles of our world the days and nights become increasingly long depending on the time of the year. Far enough north and the darkness is eternal for half of the year. To people who don't understand science this concept on any world is rife with ideas.

  • The yearly darkness is spreading further south.
  • Some dark creature emerges from it's lair to hunt during the darkness.
  • Sorcery is at it's height at this time, the wizard must be stopped.
  • Every year champions are sent north to fight back the darkness.



If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

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Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Search for Clues: How I approached Investigation in Conan 2d20

Introduction

Whenever I write a new adventure for my players I try and include things that are not simply hack and slash. Ways for members less adept at combat to shine and have a great time. I have worked with placing "Trials" into combat situations so the non-combat characters can contribute in a more meaningful way. I like the idea, but often my party tunnel vision's on monsters and villains and won't do anything else until they are vanquished. Generally what I want the trials to do, don't work in this situation.

In my last adventure I wanted the players to start their adventure arriving at an abandoned Asgard village. They would need to investigate the village and figure out what had likely happened and go forward with the adventure from there. Previously i've had things in the adventure that were available for players to find, maybe some ancient script on the wall that would reveal some deeper meaning to the dungeon they were in, add some more COOL to it. Nothing that really *NEEDED* to be found to progress.

With an investigation you want your players to look around and find clues, and then use those clues to draw conclusions about what they should do. If you make this difficult they might not find those clues and end up with no way to progress. What to do!? Well I, like you, went out to the Internet and read a few articles and watched a few videos on running investigative games. What I came up with is the idea that there should be some clues that are going to be found if the players walk into a place and do a cursory examination. These clues are the most basic information the players need to move forward with the plot. Other clues are there and can be found which will add information or a better path for the players.

The Clues

Since running the adventure I have had time to think about this methodology for investigation and might do a larger adventure with it, but until then I will tell you about how I broke down my clues. I felt each clue should have a few basic elements: where it could be found, what skill was used to uncover it, what difficulty it was, what was the result of finding it and what was the result of not finding it.

Finding & Using the Clues

I later decided that all clues should be found with an observation test, and once found a further test could be used to determine something useful from them. This way a player is always rolling against the same skill without the clue being hinted at. This will also allow the keen eyed character to find tracks and the expert tracker to follow them, allowing more non-combat team work for the party. ie A player makes a D1 Observation test to see the tracks, followed by a second D1 Survival test to learn about them. Of course common sense needs to be used, if the clue is a testimony from a dieing man, you probably don't need to find him.

There are times when you will want players to use a certain skill to gain knowledge about the clue, but what if they don't have that skill? Sometimes a secondary skill can be useful. If they found animal tracks, but don't have survival, you may want to allow them to use a skill like Observation, but probably with a higher difficulty.

Setting up the Clues

With this knowledge let's set up the clues following a set of five basic steps.
  1. Crime Scene: Describe what happened. This will give you a good founding of what went on in the scene and why clues are what and where they are. We see this all the time in detective and police shows, but from the other end, where the main characters have found clues and have pieced back together their version of the events that placed them there.
  2. Key Clues: Identify the key clues the players will need to find to lead them to the next phase of the adventure.
  3. Negative Effect Clues: Pick out things from the description that are key and build clues around them that might have negative consequences if not found.
  4. Informational Clues: Pick out further informational clues that have no real long term effect on the adventure.
  5. Red Herrings: Maybe a few clues scattered about to lead the players astray, and make things more difficult.
Step 1: Crime Scene.
Evening falls, and as most nights recently the village is huddled around their central fire pit for comfort and security. Something has been stalking them. Finally they hear a low growl as a giant cat appears on the edge of the fire light, with terror the villagers panic and run. Only the Shaman stands to stop the beast, striding forward he commands it to stop. He is struck down where he stands, as a giant claws tear through his flesh. The cat stalks the people while small dark humanoids chitter with glee as they pull down and bind villagers, the ones they do not capture escape into the cold night. The cat and the children of the night escape out towards the mountains, with the villagers for sacrifice by their Master on the coming Solstice. A light snow beings to fall..

Step 2: Key clues.
We know we need the players to find evidence that will lead them to the mountain. The easiest one is the tracks the cat and the little people leave behind, but with the commotion I think tracks might be harder to find, especially with the snow that had begun to fall. Instead we will see that the villagers have been stalked for sometime. Our first clue will be notes written by the chieftain about sending a party to the mountains and other similar information to make the players believe the mountain is important. We will place this note in the Chieftain's hut.

Clue
Location
Skill & Difficulty
Found
Not Found
Chieftain's Notes Chief's Hut Observ. D0 Notes describe The Chief's council with the village
shaman about omens in the mountains.
A party of warriors investigated and found
ruins of an ancient fortress inhabited by snow apes.
N/A

Players entering the hut and making a basic cursory look into the place will find this clue. It is possible they don't search all the huts and in the end don't find this clue and end up not knowing what to do. As much as I recognize this to be a possibility, I think players who have not found a plot hook and haven't searched all the huts deserve to be stumped a little bit. In short I think they should have to do something to get the clue, even if once that is done there is no dice rolled.

Step 3: Negative Effect Clues.
Now that we have this basic clue let's work from there. We know the cat and little people and villagers would leave tracks. We can make it more interesting by placing this clue in a few areas, maybe in the village where they are hard to find and outside the village where they are easier to find. If the players find this clue we should reward them, maybe give them a safer, faster way to the mountain fortress.

Clue
Location
Skill & Difficulty
Found
Not Found
Animal Tracks Outside the Village Observ. D1 ->
Survival D3
Observ. D5
Tracks of a large animal lead away.
Players use the easy passage through the ruins.
Players use the dangerous passage through the ruins.
Animal Tracks Inside the Village Observ. D1 ->
Survival D1
Observ. D3
Tracks are obscured by other tracks in the village
Tracks of a large animal lead away
Players use the easy passage through the ruins.
Players use the dangerous passage through the ruins.

We had a couple of other things happen in our description. One was the shaman being struck down. Perhaps he managed to drag himself to his hut and as the beast crashed in to finish the job, he managed to ward it off with some spell or alchemy? We can add clues to handle this as well.

Clue
Location
Skill & Difficulty
Found
Not Found
Blood Entrance to Village Observ. D1
Covered in snow
Blood stains in the snow.
Lead to Shaman's Hut
No effect.
Shaman Shaman's hut Auto find ->
Healing D1
Persuade D2
Tells of the battle with the cat &
solstice sacrifice.
Cat doesn't cause FEAR 1 when
the players encounter it.
+1M Gives the players a talisman
to ward off the cat.
On a failed test:
Shaman croaks a single word, "The Mountain."
and dies.
Star Charts Shaman's hut Observ. D1 ->
Lore D1
Observation D3
Shows how far away the solstice is.
Solstice is one day closer than previously determined.

Now we have three clues associated with the Shaman, one simply leads the players to him, and the others provide information and perhaps a little bit of advantage if the investigation here goes very well. I haven't included basic things such as claw marks on the body or the damage on the hut, but things like this should be improvised pretty easily based on your knowledge of what happened here.

Step 4: Informational Clues.
We also know there was struggles and villagers being bound and taken against their will. Players will probably make this assumption, especially based on other clues, but you can sprinkle a few things around the village to given them a deeper investigation.

Clue
Location
Skill & Difficulty
Found
Not Found
Bindings Next to one of the huts Observ. D1
Covered in snow
Iron shackles with arcane
glyphs.
No Effect
Small footprints Around village Observ. D3 -> Survival D2 One of the Children of the Night
erupts from the snow and attacks.
No Effect

Step 5: Red Herrings.
We know villagers ran off into the night from our look at the crime scene. We know not all were taken by the wizard. What happened to them?
Clue
Location
Skill & Difficulty
Found
Not Found
Blood West of the Village Observ. D1 ->
Observ. D2
Survival D1
Covered in snow
Blood stain leading southwest.
See BEAR ENCOUNTER if followed
No Effect

With a fairly simple crime scene description we are able to come up with 9 clues of varying merit, and at least one that will lead the characters the right direction. Hopefully this will give you some inspiration on ways to add clues and investigation into your own game. If you do I would love to hear how it worked out! Of course if you have other ideas or comments on this methodology please drop me a comment below.


If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

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If you need to check out any of these great games stop on by DriveThruRPG and pick something up through my affiliate link to help support the blog!

Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Monday, December 10, 2018

NPCs: A Codified Approach to the Man on the Street.

In a general session of play, you as GM may have a series of NPCs that you are aware of. A cast of characters you expect your players to interact with. You have an idea about them and how the interaction will go. You have at least some idea of how the social encounter will work. This article is generally not about those cases, although it may act as a guide to flesh those characters out if you generally haven't and have trouble figuring out how you want to role play them.

This is an approach to NPCs that will hopefully help you have better social interactions between your players and the cast of characters that populate your world. Not just the few have prepared in advance but everyone the PCs encounter. They are, after all, representing people with their own lives and aspirations, even if the PCs only encounter them during a single session. I am going to present a basic framework to help you give your NPCs more life, more direction, which in turn will allow you as the GM to role play them better.

It's easy to want to boil these encounters down to a single roll of the die or an opposed test and go from there, and I won't tell you this doesn't have it's place. Instead this framework will allow you to use these rolls and give these NPCs desires to resist, or be difficult. Should the random guy on the street be as willing to help as someone the PCs have known, will bribing them be a way to get more information? I believe that simply boiling the encounter to a simple set of dice rolls is short changing a potentially rich encounter that may lead down different paths. Maybe that dancer they just tried to get information from is actually in cahoots with the villian and is laying a trap for the PCs? The possibilities!

The Framework

I see us needing to have a few known things to really flesh out the NPCs: What do they want? What is their disposition towards the players and what motivates the them? Certainly you can answer more questions about them, but I think knowing these three simple things will allow you to really add some realism to these people.

The Disposition of the NPC

If we accept the NPCs disposition is separate from their personality or charisma, then we must define it. Mechanically I see a scale, in the middle I see someone who is neutral, who just doesn't care. They might help. They might not. For this I think a simple social test at a basic difficulty is a fine way to determine if the NPC will be somewhat helpful or disinterested. I don't see this as an outward showing by the NPC towards the players, simply a concept of how easily they can be swayed.

As we move away from the middle of the scale we get the two basic dispositions you might encounter: positive and negative. One end of the scale is an NPC who thinks of the PCs as good friends and is willing to help them, go out of the way for them, maybe even endanger themselves. On the other end is an NPC who is openly hostile or rude to the PCs. Someone who hates them and who might become something more to them in an antagonistic way in the future.

I would probably leave the far ends of the scales alone for random NPCs unless the PCs have had numerous positive or negative dealings with the NPC.

What does the NPC want?

What the NPC wants can have a direct impact on their disposition. If they want to steal or cause harm to the PCs they are more likely to have a negative disposition towards the PCs. Is the NPC someone who wants something from the players? Is he a merchant looking to sell, or perhaps someone who needs something recovered? Or do they just want to be left alone to go about their business, that is probably the case of the neutrally disposed NPC.

Knowing what the NPC wants is something we should determine first and from there we can use this to determine a more accurate disposition for the NPC.

The Motivation of the NPC

The thing that motivates the NPC is something a player can use to change her disposition in their favor making social encounters easier? Is it money? Money is probably a motivator for a lot of people and is the easiest one for the players to figure out. Bribing someone with cash can be the easiest way to change there disposition towards a character. Of course there is probably a few people out there that will see an attempted bribe as an insult and may move disposition away from the players.

Maybe something else motivates them though, which could make things more interesting: family, friends, trinkets, food, jewels. You can use these to help flesh out the NPC. If the NPC is motivated by jewels, perhaps she is adorned in several of them, or mentions them in conversation. Likewise someone motivated by fine wine, might be overweight, or have a winejug with them. These small details might be picked up by the players making observation tests to determine more information about the NPC.

The NPCs motivation might not be something useful at all. The motivation of someone not motivated by money, who will do anything for their family, might not be useful to the players, unless they can determine that and are willing to do something....unsavory.

Quick Random NPC Tables

Now that we have a framework to build NPCs from, sometimes when the players encounter someone, or force and encounter with someone you will need to determine something about that NPC beyond basic stats. A few quick tables and a roll of a few D6 can generate this quickly and easily.

You can of course simply pick how you want the NPC to act, or build their framework however you want, but we all like rolling dice.

What do they want?
1 - Left alone (+)
2 - Left alone (-)
3 - Help finding something (+)
4 - Help finding someone (+)
5 - Rob the PCs (-)
6 - Lure the PCs into a trap(--)
Disposition
1 - Negative
2 - Negative
3 - Neutral
4 - Neutral
5 - Positive
6 - Positive
Motivated by Money?
1 - No
2 - Yes
3 - Yes
4 - Yes, but expensive
5 - Yes, but expensive
6 - Expensive and insulted by low offers
Other Motivation
1 - None
2 - None
3 - Delicacies
4 - Jewels
5 - Trinkets
6 - Family

So we roll 4d6 and consult the tables to describe the social aspects of the NPC. You will not that under the column, "What do they want?" each entry has a (+) or a (-) on it. Each + or minus will shift the disposition one direction, one step. So a (+) would move a hostile disposition to neutral and likewise a (--) would move a positive disposition to a negative one.

Lets see this idea in action

Your players are on a mission to rescue the king's beautiful daughter, the Princess of Zamora. They haven't simply ridden out to the evil Wizard's mountain as you expected, instead they have decided to hit the local tavern and see if they can glean any information from the tavern goers.

You are not really prepared for this, but as a good GM you have a set of generic human stats just in case, but of course these are not all generic people. The party warrior approaches someone at the bar and engages them in conversation........You as the GM, quickly roll 4d6.....and roll: 4,4,5,6. Suddenly the random generic tavern goer is someone in need of help, perhaps his own kin has been taken by the wizard, or maybe a more mundane kidnapping, either way as the PCs approach he sees warriors and maybe hope in finding his lost friend or family. He will react positively to the PCs, at least initially, although he *IS* motivated by money, he is expensive, but can also be swayed by family.

Now we have more than just a block of stats, now we have a somewhat fleshed out NPC that we put together at the drop of a hat with a few rolls on a very basic set of tables. How many options these tables get is limited only by you imagination and the world the NPC lives in.

Until Next Time. Keep it Weird!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Expanse RPG: The Zone, Part 1: The Basics.

I first encountered this idea in Conan 2d20, which isn't surprising since it was the RPG that brought me back to this hobby. I've seen it used a spatial idea in other games since then, which isn't to say Conan was the first, just the first to me.

When not playing theatre of the mind, games like Pathfinder use a grid or a measurement to move miniatures around and determine if they can attack. ie Thogar, my warrior can move 20' in a turn and a square is typically 5 feet, allowing my character to move 4 spaces in a turn.

Zones allow us to understand our spatial relationships but remove the idea of moving 4 squares or 5 squares. It gives up some granularity and some level of tactics, but gives us a fairly nice bridge between the boardgame/wargame feel of a grid/measurement based system and a theatre of the mind.

If you are unfamiliar with a zone, you can think of it as a spatial area where some action might take place. It's size isn't *THAT* important but should probably make some sense given the encounter. If we take a generic tavern we might have 4 or 5 zones.
  • The Bar.
  • The Front Entrance.
  • The Tables.
  • The Fireplace.
  • The Dark Corner.
Instead of measuring your 4 or 5 spaces a character can generally use their standard action/move to simply move from one zone into another. Moving around inside a zone is generally a simple/minor/half-move action depending on the game you are playing. Yes it removes the ability to do tactically think about where a character is moving and if they will trigger attacks of opportunity or similar. Yes it removes the ability of some players to be a little faster than others. What it does give you is a fairly simply way to spatially show about where players and their antagonists are located in an environment.

You can also fairly easily define areas that are slower to move through by simply making those zones a little smaller. Consider the following graphic showing a road flanked on either side by dense forests. Without specifically counting squares we can see that the road is a faster way to travel and in this case, twice as fast.

You can further make the environments interesting by adding skill tests or increased difficulties to the zones. In Conan 2d20 perhaps the forests add +1D to all skill tests including combat unless they are at home in the forest. In something like ICRPG where you set a TN for the room, you could now set it for each zone instead. Perhaps the zone is on a cliff edge and requires a dexterity test to not slip and another once slipped to not fall off the edge? As you can see it has the ability to add a lot of environmental factors in pretty easily.

You can define these zones with terrain as normal, although this is often the most challenging way to do it as terrain will often bleed together and where a zone is exactly can be difficult for a player to see, especially if they are used to a grid or measure based system. Another way to define a zone is with a set of simple index cards, and I would be remiss without mentioning Runehammer's collections of index cards that make excellent zone markers. Currently he is up to four collections of these cards, with volume 3 being sci-fi oriented.

Our next installment is going to look at how I am thinking of implanting this with Expanse given the full set of Modern Age rules. Things may change but it will give us a good starting place on how to implement this awesome and simple system in our games.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Easy DIY Gaming Table Upgrade!

Welcome back!

Last year, late in November I did a quick video on what I use for a gaming table. It was easy and cheap and created a cool lifted surface. You can find that video here: Gaming Table!

I have always planned on rebuilding the top and making it nicer. Over the last year it has also warped a little, but not enough to be unusable. Since it functions and it would be a solely aesthetic upgrade it has become a low priority in my life. I did however have another idea I wanted to try out; under table LED lighting.


As you can see it creates a pretty cool effect! I got this inexpensive set of lights from Aliexpress which has a nifty remote and allows changing of colors pretty easily! All of the colors are good except for the pure yellow, which looks more yellowy green.

Total price for the strip and remote was about $10cad. Super inexpensive! I did have to get a battery for the remote that ran be a couple of dollars as well, but it didn't turn this from a $10 upgrade to a $30 upgrade. It was still under $15 when it was all said and done.

This project is based on a raised tabletop, but if you had a sunken play area you could use it on that as well just as easily. It adds a new quick and easy dimension to your game that can really help with mood, if you can add this to your area, I highly recommend it!

Have you done any upgrades like this to your gaming area? LED lights? something else cool? Drop me a note and let everyone know what cool things you have done!

One last thing don't forget that buying items through quite a few of the links I provide gives me a small kick back which helps to support both the blog and the YouTube channel! Thank you to everyone that stops by and enjoys my ramblings!

Until next time! Keep it weird!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

RPG Accessories. Tokens, Trackers and Coins! Oh My!

Tabletop roleplaying games need very little in the way of supplies to play; Some dice, Some paper and a pen or pencil. Of course you need a set of rules as well. Apart from that though? Nothing.

BUT! There is always a but. Sometimes accessories can help take your game from cool to COOL. Most players like rolling dice. The physical aspect of touching and using an object adds to the fun. This idea can be applied to many other things we need to track!

Many of these accessories can be made. DM Scotty has some videos on building things like this. Things like little quivers to track arrows instead of erasing 10 and writing 9 can be simple and add another element of fun to the game.

Some games have a set number of Hero points, Bennies, Fortune or similar mechanic that could also benefit from this idea. Having a player toss in a coin of some description is more fun than just changing that number of the page.

If you are busy like me, sometimes you don't have time to craft everything, or sometimes you just need so many tokens it's just not feasible to craft them.

Below is a list of things that I have found on aliexpress, amazon and a few other places where you can simply drop some cash and grab your supplies. I personally use a far number of these in my Conan 2d20 games. Remember, AliExpress will generally be less expensive, but you will need to wait longer for shipping.

Skull Beads! White! - AliExrpess
Black! - Amazon.ca
Flat Beads! White Acrylic - AliExpress
Transparent glass cabochon - Amazon.ca
Plastic chips AliExpress
Amazon.ca
Coins! Plastic Pirate Coins - AliExpress
Fortune Coins - AliExpress
Fortune Coins - Amazon.ca
Metal Phoenix beads - AlieExpress
Bowls for your Tokens AliExpress
Amazon.ca
Wound Trackers AliExpress

Hopefully you will find something you can find useful, or it sparks your imagination!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Printable Miniatures. Part 2, Basing the figure.

In the first part of this series on paper miniatures I went over the various ways to get the paper miniatures with links to some kick ass guys on drivethrurpg as well as some links to a few custom tutorials. Today I want to continue this series with a short discussion on bases and the pros and cons of each type.

The easiest way to base the paper miniature is to grab a piece of foam core, put a slot in it and insert your figure. It may require a coin or similar on the bottom to give it a little heft. These are cheap, plentiful and with a little work, can look good. This isn't the method I use, but Wyloch goes over it in his video on creating the paper miniature.

The next option is also a DIY option with the caveat that it requires you to have access to a 3d printer. 3d printers can be fairly expensive, especially a genuine Prusa, however there are several models of inexpensive printer that are good for basic printing for a gamer.

I have an A-net A8 which is a decent machine, print quality wise, and gives you the ability to try getting your feet wet for not a lot of money. It is built with cheaper components which should be replaced if you are going to use it a lot though. It will be more than able to print up bases and other things that you might find at a website like thingiverse. These two links are some samples of thingiverse links you can use for basing paper miniatures. Sample 1 Sample 2

Moving away from the DIY option we start to move into some for of clip. The first and cheapest version of these is a binder clip. These are a pretty good solution being easily available, inexpensive and coming in multiple sizes and colors. I don't personally use them, and right now as I am typing this I am wondering why. The only real drawback I can see to these is they will be a little more fiddly when it comes to changing your figures over. You will have to re-insert the metal handles so you can easily open the clip to remove the figure. I think the pros may outweigh the cons here.

You can get a cheap acrylic base designed for boardgames as well. These are pretty good and give you a clear plastic base, and can be purchased in multiple colors. The downside to these is they require a fairly thick card as the clip is fairly wide. I have used these and need to use several layers of construction paper to make them work. Despite how inexpensive they are, I don't really recommend these ones unless your paper figs are quite thick.

The ones I have purchased and use the most are most similar to the binder clips, they can be found sold as "card holders". These are easy to use and replace the figure into. I have only found them in black, which is another strike against this style. The downside to these is they are among the more expensive option, that being said they are still going to run you less than $.50CAD cents each. As much as I like a lot about this style, I doubt I'll be buying more of them.

Litko makes a range of bases for paper figures, similar to the 3d printed model I talk about, these are square or circular and come with a curved slot to hold your figure. The downside to these are two fold. One, they are getting upwards in price, running about $.50CAD each. Two, I don't find litko to have especially friendly shipping options to Canada. If you are in the USA this might be a great option where they will be about $.40USD each and have better shipping options.

Over the past year of using paper miniatures in most of my games I have used several of the above purchaseable solutions. At this time I have not tried the binder clips or 3d printed models, but I think that the binder clips might be the best option being inexpensive, easy to get and in multiple colors. I have also not ordered from Litko. Another possible downside to some of these is that they represent non-standard bases sizes. I don't think it'll take much to make them work, but it's something to think about.

Now that we have our bases and figures, next week we will talk about the process I go through when I assemble these figures! Until next time, keep it weird out there!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Miniature Scale Comparisons.

"How well do they scale?"

When people talk about miniatures from board games(BG) this is one of the first things that comes up. It is probably second only to people wondering how good they are.

Scale is a common concern among miniature gamers, and it gets asked about different figures from different companies all the time, it is not just asked about BGs.

I recently got my pledge for "Mythic Battles: Pantheon" and let me say, that I love these figures.  I was asked almost immediately about how well they scaled with Conan.  This blog post will attempt to compare and contrast a fairly decent range of figures including Bones, Bronze Age, Conan, Mythic, Wizkids pre-paints and the new line of unpainted figures from Wizkids.

One last caveat.  We are not scale modelers in my opinion.  We use our miniatures and our terrain to make our battles or rpgs come alive with cool ideas.  The figures and terrain we use are seeds to our imagination and serve to keep each of us playing more or less in the same frame.

Starting with  a group shot of all the figures.
Bronze Age, Bronze Age, Pre-paint, Bones, Bones, Bones, Deepcuts, Conan, Conan, Mythic, Mythic.

The last Mythic figure I simply included for fun as it is the "god" scale for the game.


These two images show a Bones Conan-eque figure next to some Bronze Age figures, both are your pro-typical barbarian figs. I think they are pretty similar in scale, with the Bronze Age figs perhaps being more physically proportional. Either way they will work fine together on the table.

The two males next to each other show the proportional differences much clearer. Despite these I still think they will work fine on the table together.
Here we have that same Bones figure next to one of the pre-paint figures. I think she is from the "Rise of the Runelords" collection, but I can't recall for sure. Again the scale is pretty good. She stands at a human height next to our hulking barbarian. He might even look a little short if their bases were the same height. But again I have no issues using these two figures together on the table.
This is a scale comparison between one of the Conan BG figures and our Conan-eque Bones figure again. Again we see more of the same. Decent scale, easily useable on the same table, even thought the Conan BG figure is a little talled.


Same scale we saw in the Conan BG figure, this Mythic BG figure is slightly taller than this Bones figure, but still useable together on the same table. I would also like to take this time to point out the excellent detail on the Mythic figure.
Now lets look at a few non-Bones comparisons. We have seen these two before, Conan BG vs Bronze Age. I think they stack up pretty well together. If I had to make a critical note on the scale differences, the Conan BG fig makes the Bronze age fig look like he has a giant head. From a tabletop perspective though, I think they will be great together.


Comparing one of the new Deep Cuts figures (or Nolzurs I can't actually remember which) to the Bronze Age figure. I think these two are a pretty good fit. She is smaller, but generally in fantasy (and other generally heroic and idealized) art women are drawn with smaller frames.

Not surprisingly the Conan BG and Mythic BG figures both scale very well together. Probably the most similar sized strong dude to strong dude of the lot.


To be complete here is the Bronze Age figure next to the Mythic BG figure. Nothing new here, pretty much what we saw when comparing the Bronze Age to the Conan BG figure.






One final shot of a Bones, Mythic God and Mythic Warrior....



This Bones Paladin is in a pretty similar stance as the Mythic Warrior, and has a base of about the same height. He stands nearly a head shorter. This is getting to the point where they might start to look funny in my opinion, but then again, maybe the Paladin is just a short human or an elf?

Are you more of a scale perfectionist than I am? Do some of these figures not work for you when placed together? Why not let me know what you thin and drop me a comment below?

Friday, January 26, 2018

Conan 2d20 review. How clunky is it? A comparison with Pathfinder.

I have seen a lot of posts. People often read the Conan 2d20 rules and decide without playing them that they are too clunky. They have too many fiddly bits and they are just too slow.

But are they? Does Conan 2d20 present us with a system that is actually clunkier? I aim to answer this in this post by comparing a combat through multiple systems to see how they stack up.

For simplicity our encounter will start with a lone fighter, "Conal", breaking into a dark tomb to retrieve some long forgotten treasure. In an ancient tomb he is attacked by five skeletons.

Conan Zone Layout
Pathfinder Grid Layout

-- Conan 2d20 --

Conal
Agility: 13
Melee: Ex 5, Fc 5. TN 17/5
Coordination: 10
Parry: Ex 3, Fc 3. TN 13/3
Brawn: 12, +3cd
Fortune: 3
Broadsword: R2, 5cd, parrying
Shield: R2, 3cd, 1H, parrying, Shield 2
Armor = soak 2 everywhere.
Vigor: 13
Resolve: 10
Talents: No Mercy (equivalent 3 ranks): Re-roll xCDs

Skeletons (M)
Agility: 9
Combat: 2. TN 11/2
Pitted Sword: R2, 5cd, parrying
Armor: 2
Vigor: 5
Resolve: 8
Fear: 1

DOOM POOL: 3

Round 1

Conal
Conal goes first (Don't need to roll initiative in Conan, PCs always start unless interrupted by a GM doom spend)
Conal moves into a new zone(minor action)
Conal attacks the skeleton. (standard action)
Conal pays 3 doom into the pool and rolls 5d20. DOOM=6
Conal attacks and rolls 5d20 vs D1: 4,15,11,16,1 = 7 successes = 6 Momentum.
Conal rolls 8cd for damage: 5,2,3,4,3,2,3,5. Re-rolls 3 misses, rolls 3,4,4. tough luck. Damage = 6.
Conal spends 1 momentum for 2 points of soak ignored.
Conal does 6 vigor damage, causing a wound, destroying the skeleton.
Remaining momentum to the group pool. MOMENTUM=4
Conal approaches the first skeleton and raises his sword, striking the abomination. Although his sword blow is not devastating it slashes past a week spot in the skeletons ancient armor, through the torso reducing the bones to a broken and collapsed mess.

Skeletons
Skeletons form a mob.
The remaining 4 skeletons all move to engage Conal. They form a mob giving them extra attack dice.
Skeleton mob rolls 4d20+3d20 from doom. DOOM = 3
Conal attempts to parry and rolls 5d20, buying 3 dice with momentum. MOMENTUM=1
Skeletons attack and roll 8d20 vs D1: 6,11,16,11,14,15,4,18 = 4 successes = 3 momentum.
Conal parries and rolls 5d20 vs D1: 4,16,1,11,9 = 5 successes = 4 momentum.
Conal successfully parries the mob of skeletons. MOMENTUM=2
The shambling mob approaches Conal and with only the noise of metal on bone the 4 raise and slice at Conal, with a terrific effort Conal wards off the blows, feeling as if he has gained the upper hand on this undead horde.

Round 2

MOMENTUM reduces by 1.
MOMENTUM: 1
Conal
Conal pays 1 doom into the pool, uses 1 point of momentum and 1 fortune and rolls 5d20 against the mob of skeletons. DOOM = 4
Conal rolls 5d20 vs D1: 20,10,14,8,1 = 5 successes = 4 momentum. MOMENTUM=5. Complication. DOOM=6
Conal rolls 8cd for damage: 6,4,6,6,2,4,3,5. Re-rolls 3 misses, rolls 3,2,4. Damage=8.
Conal spends 2 momentum to increase damage to 10.
Conal spends 1 momentum for 2 points of soak ignored. MOMENTUM=2
Conal does 5 points of vigor to the first skeleton destroying it. 5 damage is carried to the next skeleton. 2 skeletons remain.
Taking advantage of the skeletons being pushed back by his parry, Conal swings a deadly arc of steal crashing through two of the skeletons reducing them to dust.
Conal spends 1 point of momentum and strikes at the remaining skeletons with his shield (Dual Wield, Swift action)
Conal kills 2 with a sword and 2 with his shield.
Conal spends 1 point on an extra die and 2 into the doom pool. DOOM=8
Conal rolls 5d20 vs D2 (D1 +1 for swift action): 11,17,1,19,14 = 5 successes = 3 momentum. MOMENTUM=4
Conal rolls 6cd for his shield. 1,3,4,3,3,5. Re-rolls 3 misses, rolls 2,3,2. Damage = 6.
Conal spends 4 Momentum to bring his damage to 5 and spends one point of doom to gain 2 points of soak being ignored.
Conal causes the other two skeletons 1 wound each.
As Conal's sword slices through two of the skeletons, he lashes out at the other two with his shield. With a terrific crash the impact reduces the remaining two skeletons do nothing more than a pile of bones and a slight haze of dust in the air

-- Pathfinder --


Conal
Fighter
Human Level 1
STR: 17 +3 (attack rolls, Damage rolls)
DEX: 14 +2 (Armor class, initiative)
CON: 14 +2
HP: 12
Longsword DMG: 1d8 Crit: 19–20/×2
Chainmail AC:+6 Max Dex Bonus:+2 ACP:–5 Spell Failure: 30% move: 20 ft.
Shield, light steel: AC:+1 ACP:–1 Spell Failure: 5%
Power attack, Cleave
AC: 10+6+1+2=19
MELEE ATTACK BONUS: 1+3=+4

Skeletons
AC: 16
Hp: 4
Speed 30'
broken scimitar +0 (1d6)
Base Attack = +0
FEATS Improved initiative (+4 initiative)

Round 1

Roll for Initiative
Rolled and sorter for order
Skeleton 5: 20+4 = 24
Skeleton 2: 17+4 = 21
Skeleton 4: 10+4 = 14
Skeleton 3: 9+4 = 13
Skeleton 1: 6+4 = 10
Conal: 4+2 = 6

Skeletons
Skeleton 5 moves to engage Conal and rolls a d20 for his attack. Rolls 15. Conal's AC = 19.
Skeletons move to attack.

Skeleton 2 moves forward 30'
Skeleton 4 moves and attacks Conal. Rolls a d20 and scores a 9. Not enough to beat Conal's AC.
Skeleton 3 moves up and attacks Conal as well. Skeleton 3 is opposite Skeleton 4 and so gains a +2 flanking bonus. Rolls it's 20. Gets an 8+2=10. Still fails to strike Conal.
Skeleton 1 moves forward 30'
The skeletons advance quicker than the undead should be able to. Three reach Conal with 2 close on their heals. Their sword swings are ineffectual, a combination of armor and dexterity cause all three to miss

Conal
Conal attacks Skeleton 4. Rolls his d20 and rolls 9. +4 = 13. Not enough to defeat the skeleton's AC.
Conal being pressed back by the horde of bones strikes wildly but fails to land an effective blow against the skeletons.

Round 2

Initiative
Skeleton 5
Skeleton 2
Skeleton 4
Skeleton 3
Skeleton 1
Conal

Skeletons
Remaining 2 skeletons close.  All attack and miss.
Skeleton 5 swings at Conal! Rolls a d20. 12. not good enough.
Skeleton 2 moves and attacks Conal. Rolls a d20. 12. Not enough.
Skeleton 4 attacks Conal. d20. 16+2 flanking = 18. Not enough.
Skeleton 3 swings. D20. 7+2 flanking, misses.
Skeleton 1 moves up and swings. 4...Misses.



Conal
Conal strikes at Skeleton 4 and rolling a d20, gets a 14+4=18! A HIT!
Conal rolls 1d8 for damage and gains a +3 from attributes. He rolls a 5+3=8! A skeleton falls!
Conal using cleave strikes at Skeleton 2! He rolls a d20 and scores a 15+4 = 19! Another hit
Conal rolls a 1d8 and scores a 2, but with his +3 it becomes a 5 and a second skeleton falls.
Conal slashes out at the skeleton beside him, his blade passing easily across the bones reducing it to dust, his deadly arc continuing in a devastating attack, striking down a second skeleton

Round 3

Initiative
Skeleton 5
Skeleton 3
Skeleton 1
Conal

Skeletons
Skeleton 5 swings out, this time enjoying a flanking bonus, and Conal is at a -2 for his AC from using Cleave.
The skeleton's D20 roll is a 16. +2 = 18, enough to hit Conal with his temporary AC of 17.
Skeleton 5 rolls a 1d6 for damage and scores a 5.
Skeleton 3 stikes next enjoying the same bonuses as his cohort. Rolls a 19. Also enough to strike Conal.
Skeleton 3 rolls a 1d6 for damage and scores a 6.
Conal has suffered 11 damage, leaving him a single hit point.
Skeleton 1 lashes out at Conal, rolling a 13 on a d20. Not enough to hit Conal, even with his -2 AC
Unbalanced by his massive attack two of the skeletons slice out with ancient steel, blood flows and Conal barely blocks the third blade from ending his life.

Conal
Conal swings at Skeleton 5. He rolls 6 on his d20, missing the Skeleton.
Conal staggers and ineffectually swings back at the undead seeking to have him join them.

Round 4

Initiative
Skeleton 5
Skeleton 3
Skeleton 1
Conal

Skeletons
Skeleton 5 rolls a 4, +2 flanking isn't enough to strike Conal.
Skeleton 3 swings and rolls a 17. +2 = 19. Enough to hit Conal.
Skeleton 3 rolls damage. and rolls a 2. Conal only had 1 HP left and so it reduced to -1 and dying.

-- Analysis --

Number of Rounds
Conan-2d20: 2
Pathfinder: 4
Verdict: Conan resolves combat faster.

Number of d20s
Conan-2d20: 22 in 4 rolls
Pathfinder: 16 in 16 rolls
Verdict: This depends on if you like dice pools. We roll more dice in Conan. We roll more often in Pathfinder. Time wise I suspect Conan will win here as I do not think each combat roll in Conan-2d20 will take 4x the time to resolve, and there are times it will be just as fast in my experience

Damage dice
Conan-2d20: I didn't count this. You roll A LOT of damage dice.
Pathfinder: Way less dice to resolve damage
Verdict: I am going to go with Pathfinder. It's simpler to roll a single die and things can be sped up by just rolling damage with your attack die. The upside for Conan-2d20 is with it's effects you can have a lot more interesting things to happen. More damage, grappling, stunning etc.

Narrative guidance
Conan-2d20: Each roll you make tells you what has occurred. How much you were successful by, if your weapon pierced armor etc.
Pathfinder: While providing some it is generally obscured by choosing a simpler resolution
Verdict: Conan, in my opinion provides the player and GM with more ideas about what is actually happening.

-- Final Thoughts --

I am not here to tell you which system is better. I simply wanted to compare two systems, one I feel is a popular game with a combat system people seem to enjoy, and the other a system that often gets a bad rap. The system in Conan reads poorly, but in actual play is a fun and interesting combat system. It is not without it's problems, but all games have some.

One of the interesting things about this comparison is seeing the hero die in Pathfinder, having this occur in Conan against enemies like this is practically unheard of. The system provides players with characters which are by all definitions, heroic.

If you have any comments, I would love to hear them!