Saturday, April 27, 2013

Victory Through Superior Joie De Vivre

6th level drow thief. The blonde kind. 
Baron Vorgus, ex-goblin warlord, now Demilich of Cobalt Reach

The skull represents a skull-walker golem ripped from RIFTS

Used the top of this drawing to take notes during the storming of the gnoll fortress in a recent on-line game

Thursday, April 25, 2013

There Is A Desert

The collaborative hexcrawls keep coming. Here's a desert via Joey and friends.

An oldie but goody to go with it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Shadowy, narrow, and consistently hovering around ~480–400 Terahertz

Thanks to Trey for tracking down this picture of Satana by Mike Vosburg. I always imagined this is what Mandy's tiefling cleric looked like.

Basically, whatever it says on the tin: she's a witch.  Like any other witch I'm sure she has a whole theology and a god and an excellent scriptural reason for Causing Serious Wounds on you right now but, dude, she's a witch.
Actual Mandy with daemonettes--the unit she uses most in Warhammer 40k

Her D&D mini. from Reaper

One of her Rouncy/Palfrey mechs for Mekton/Pendragon

Her destrier mech
The Sister of Battle is another 40k favorite, though this obviously could double as a cleric of Vorn
Did a sci fantasy hexcrawl & Mandy based her PC on Shadow Weaver from She Ra
her teenage mutant ninja turles/Mutant Future character
Not a lot comes up when you google "female adeptus mechanicus" but Mandy plays one in Dark Heresy
EDIT: Here we go...

She also plays a dwarf named Jam in Rappan Athuk. I have no idea if he has a mohawk or red hair, but I am going to pretend he does because he's not tall, skinny or mysterious and I need to preserve the aesthetic consistency of this blog entry.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Some Excerpts From Pat Robertson's Recent Anti-Dungeons & Dragons Rant

"…D&D (and anything close to it) is quite a morally bankrupt game. It's about characters who deliberately choose to go into violent conflicts because of greed; it's about performing violence and trickery…."

"This kind of moral bankruptcy is the core of what makes it fascinating to children — it's "bad" and transgressive…"

"Being a participatory medium, it's actually much more serious business than allowing children to, say, watch violent movies..."

"There's just so much in the system that encourages negative things - like the way you are rewarded precisely and only for how many things you kill and/or how much stuff you take..."

Then there's a weirdly off-topic casual swipe at casual sex, then some complaining about D&D's "morally bankrupt core mechanic"...

Whoa....'Core mechanic'?

Oh wait, these aren't from Pat Robertson, they're from Story-Games.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Battle of Hex 1911. Day 1.

Trent aka Sir Manning wrote this Actual Play Report/Plea For Aid after our last Cobalt Reach game...

Stuff in black by him, stuff in blue by me.


COBALT REACH Travel.. Tip? Battle... thing?

Ok we have definitely got ourselves into a fight.Someone help us next week, please.__________________

Besieging a Chaos Gnoll fort. ~50 Gnolls, Each one at least 4HD, and at least 2 Witches and 2 Superbadass warriors... Commanded by the exemplary GM,+Zak Smith.The PC force is Sir Manning's Warband (~130, primarily Amazons, with some goblins, elves, drow, panthermen and beastmen, mostly 1HD) allied with some Goblins of Gaxen Kane (~120 1HD Goblins).

(Recruited one unit at a time over the last few months and bought off with favors, gold, and promises of victory. -Z)

First round starts.... unexpectedly. +Chris H Kootenai has a Druidic bolt of Lightning reflected upon him through foul magics.... Damaging him most cruelly, annihilating +Scrap Princess's fabulous cat-fish looking man, Phaddius and Koot's Battlefrog.... A Fortune turned foul, indeed!

(This refers to the fact that Chris had earlier in the day consulted the Astrologer's Consortium and randomly rolled the fortune "One you hope to surprise will be expecting you and one you love will be set on fire". What witch wouldn't use those stars? -Z)

25 Gnolls charge forth from the fort! The jungle shakes with their roar, as their hooves churn the strange jungle earth. The vile, inscrutable creatures are met in the open with Bolts, Arrows, Bola, A Fireball (from +Ian Burns' Morgan) and a well placed Entangle. Despite this, many gnolls reach our line, where a fierce battle rages. Sir Manning duels their Extremely Strong leaderbeast, and Koot Druid-shifts into a bear to confront a sublieutenant. The beasts are strong and fast, delivering heavy blows with terrible weapons. Manning remains calm and defends as well as able, and Kootenai strikes home with ursine claws.
After a furious minute, Manning is on the back foot. Koot too is looking rough. Morgan raises his hands and draws power from strange places, before putting the largest beast down with a horrible Phantasmal Killer 

(Terrifying spell). 

Manning siezes the opportunity, removing and then flourishing the foul LeaderGnoll's head.


Some inspiring words and roars of victory force the surviving Gnolls to flee to their keep. The sublieutenant goes down in retreat, from a well placed Magic Missile, and several more beasts are trapped and slain from Amazon Bolas and Spears. A fortunate victory with minimal losses, team Manning, though PC resources are low.

Kootenai demands another Lightning Bolt leap out of the heavens, after Morgan dispels the Witch's barriers. She survives the tremendous blast, taking a crossbow bolt from Manning for good measure.... Gesturing menacingly, the creature descends farther into the keep, beyond sight. From within, she summons a Foul Shelled Troll to rush poor Kootenai, determined to end the torrent of electricity. Hurriedly, the thing is intercepted by Sir Manning, 3 Beastmen and some swift Panthermen, who bear down on it with broad weapons and scything claws.A fierce battle ensues, as the main forces exchange arrows across the field. Manning is knocked down and unconscious as the troll unleashes terrible blows, but is dragged to safety by the lovely and enigmatic Olgreth. Manning's loyal beasts continue to drive their weapons into the thing, as Kootenai's summoned Insect Swarm keeps it at bay.

(Also terrifying.)

Manning regains his feet, praise Vorn, to do battle again. A second sally of Gnolls spew forth from the gate, headed in the direction of the critical Troll Battle. Manning gives orders for infantry to intercept the push at the treeline, whilst death flies from the forest into their advance.

(Also, the trolls eyes roll out of his head, hit the ground, sprout spider legs and begin walking around on their own...)

The game ends with the battle in the balance...We estimate 5% losses for Sir Manning, and 35% losses for the Gnolls. It has cost us in HP and magic, and we ache over what the Witches have still to throw at us._________________________
Just ignore the telephone pole

(This is how it'll work:

Ok, so assuming you don't do anything especially tactically intelligent/relevant and just went ahead and ordered a charge on the battlements, a full on combat would be resolved something like this:

(superior gnoll losses have been accounted for in the smaller "model" versions of the combats)

(also: keep in mind gnolls have cover (+2 AC) and high ground (+2 to hit))

White Elf Warriors: 13 (7 have Bows)
3 gnolls (in cover behind battlements)
which will be resolved as
5 White elves
1 gnoll

Drow Elves: 7 (With Bows, inc 2 Scouts/Thieves)
2 gnolls

Trent's Goblins: 19 (Crossbows + Flails)
4 gnolls
which will be resolved as
6 goblins
1 gnoll

Warpig: 1 (I guess the Goblin Lieutenant has it)
(assume this is strategically irrelevant)

Yellow Pterodactyl Tribe Amazons (w/bolas):50
12 gnolls
which will be resolved mechanically as
6 Yellow amazons
1 gnolls

Red Pterodactyl Tribe Amazons (with crossbows) 26
6 gnolls
which will be resolved as
5 red amazons
1 gnolls

Green Amazon: 1
Blue Amazon (Cleric): 1
(All Amazons have various Jon Blanche Weapons, 50% have Bolas & Crossbows.)
Beastmen (2hd) : 3 (Two Handed Swords, Morning Stars)
2 gnolls

BlueBlack Panthermen: 9 (4 x 2HD, 1 x 3HDftr, 1 x 3HD Ranger, 2 x 4HDFtr, 1 x 5HD Ftr)
2 gnolls
Which will be resolved as
5 panthermen
1 gnoll

Gaxen Forces:
Goblins: 113. 13 are on garrison duty back at the fort, 100 came with you. that's 100 goblins
23 gnolls
which will be resolved as
5 goblins
1 gnolls


PCs (3-6)
Witches, Bosses, special troops (# unknown)

I suggest that you assign, for convenience sake, a number of units (1-2) to each player (not necessarily PC) to control. 

Essentially from now on, mathwise, every time a PC kills an ordinary gnoll, you can add 4hd worth of troops to your side in any unit you want.

If one of your units gets so big that the estimated model combat beneath is no longer inaccurate in your favor, you add a unit to the estimate.
Like: lets say Scrap kills a regular gnoll in personal combat.
You may then add 4 amazons to unit 5, making the total 31 red amazons vs 6 gnolls.

This means the 5-to-1 estimate is no longer accurate, it favors the gnolls. So the estimate is revised to 6 to 1.
You don't actually get more troops, of course, you just jigger the numbers more in your favor.

Also, you can pull in NPC troops to help with the leaders, you just get less xp at the end and the number are less in your favor.
Will Kootenai's next bolt strike true? Can the incessant stream of stormy death continue to force the Gnolls from their bastion?Will the Troll go down before it destroys either Sir Manning or the valiant Kootenai? Will the Infantry reach the Gnoll's push in time? Or will Sir Manning be overrun?What cruel tricks have the Witches still remaining? Can the fort be taken, or are the foul magics too strong?

Join us next time, all ye PCs of significant/high level with ideally lots of magic or attacks or some way to fucking save our asses and would fit into Zaks game, because god dammit we can win this fight but I'm out of HP and both Chris and I are out of spells.

Check with me, opportunity is limited.

(Game is midnight on the cusp of Monday and Tuesday, Pacific time, if you want in.)

ps I love this game. We are constantly on the precipice of annihilation...

(Me too.)


Monday, April 15, 2013

Updated Character Generation Rules (now with Fuck It Mode!)

Character generation rules for Zak's games..

1. There are four methods of character generation, disaggregated by associated bragging rights, choose whichever you want...

A) ("Pornstar's first character" rules): Roll 4d6, pick the 3 highest and assign to the 6 stats. These are the rules the girls used for their first characters. Recommended for people who have never played an RPG before. 
B) ("Veteran" rules): Roll 3d6 for each stat, assign as you please. 
C) ("Bad Motherfucker" rules): Roll 3d6, in order. (These are the ones we all usually use now.)
D) ("Fuck it mode" rules): Roll 3d6, in order, then skip down to under the picture of the snowflake of this entry to decide everything else. (It's fast, that's for sure.)

2. Here are my canonical races and their associated bonuses, click to enlarge...

You can also be a sea elf (can survive underwater indefinitely but has to be fully immersed for ten minutes once per day) or, goblin (mechanically as halfling. They talk backwards. You can if you like.) Or hengeyokai (is actually an animal that can turn into a human)... 

...or, if you want to get crazy with it, any other thing you want so long as it's humanoid, its bonuses and penalties balance and you can convince me it's cool before gametime. Showing me a picture may help, especially if John Blanche drew it.

3. For online games we use the AD&D system for bonuses and penalties--look it up.

At home we use the 3.5 system, for bonuses and penalties. Like if you have a 12 or 13 in a stat, you're +1 to things associated with that stat, if you have an 8 or 9, that's -1, 6 or 7 is -2, etc. Write the number next to the stat. That same link will tell you where your base melee mod, damage mod, missile mod, ac mod, save mod and con mod are. Or just ask me and I can hook you up.

4. Classes available are Ranger, Paladin, Barbarian, Cleric, Thief (Rogue), Druid, Wizard, Fighter.
I have some alternate versions of the classes in bold under the "new classes" tag here, as well as a new, nonstandard class called The Alice.

Feel free to reskin them. I am also experimenting with a witch class, if you want in on that, talk to me. Once you pick a class, write down the attack bonus and save mods for your class from here.

5. You do not start at first level with maximum hit points. If your con penalty is such that you'd get 0 or fewer hit points, take d4.

6. No feats or skills. Except: thieves get skills--just pick 8 from the list here. No skill points, just pick 8. Pick 9 if you have an 18 int.

7. Other stuff to pick for your class and starting gp is summarized below, click to enlarge...(The barbarian part is messed up--add 4 to strength and con when raging--which you can do once per day.)

8. If you have a lot of time before the game, go here or to the AD&D player's handbook and buy stuff with your starting gp. If you don't, just tell me what you want and get it ok'd. If you write down a weapon's special 3.5-style crit you can have it--if you forget, you don't. We use "size m": damage only.

Any reasonable item on neither of those lists may be bought on a penny, nickel, dime, quarter, dollar basis. PCs may have familiars or buy dogs according to these rules, but all brand new PCs in any given party can only have one attack animal between them.

9. Clerics: possible gods...Vorn: Grim grey god of iron and rain, Tittivila: horned goddess of mutation and healing, Gor: bullheaded god of law, Ch'od: esoteric weirdo god, Cult of the White Web: Creepy spider cult, or invent one of your own, Akayle Ozph: elf /goblin chaos god . After and only after you have chosen your path, the DM will reveal special spells available to those of your order.

10. If you got spells, note duration, area of effect, etc. They can be from any system you want so long as you're comfortable with me tweaking them. I may use AD&D or 3.5 versions of spells, it's idiosyncratic, if my interpretation of a spell totally harshes your buzz we will discuss it before play starts and come to an agreement.

11. You may import old characters from any D&D-derivative (S&W, LL, C&C, 4e, Rolemaster, Tekumel, WFRP, LOTFP, DCC, Harn, Gurps, Pendragon, etc.) into the campaign if you have them, if they had 0 xp (or less) as of July 26, 2011, and if their stats can be intelligibly rendered in D&D format as a character of the appropriate level for the adventure I'm running. Strip them back to stats and hp, figure out the bonuses and penalties, and transfer them over. Consult me about anything weird or high-powered, we'll negotiate about it.

12. You may want to roll up a backup character or two. Motherfuckers die.



1. So you rolled 3d6 in order, that was step one, now...

2. Background: roll d100

1-3 Goblin from Gaxen KaneYou are from the Great Goblin Empire. 

4-5 Goblin from Cobalt Reach. You are from the radioactive jungle. 

5-6 Dark Elf Royalty from Drownesia. How did you get this far north? You're a prince or princess that somehow wandered up here. You lost most of your stuff in the process, sorry.

7-10 Dark Elf Pirate from Drownesia.  You can sail a ship. Roll for the crew form whence you hale.
11-22 Vornheim native (human).

23-24 Vornheim native (human, aristocrat) Go here, and read the section on "Inherited Rank".

25-30 Vornheim native (elf)

31 Vornheim native (elf, aristocrat) Go here, and read the section on "Inherited Rank".

32-39 Vornheim native (half elf)

40 Vornheim native (half elf aristocrat) Go here, and read the section on "Inherited Rank".

41-45 Vornheim native (halfling)

46-49 Vornheim native (dwarf) go here.

50 Vornheim native (dwarf)(aristocrat) go here.

51-52 Vornheim native (tiefling)

53 Vornheim native (tiefling, aristocrat) Go here, and read the section on "Inherited Rank".

54-58 Alice from Voivodja (human) (your class is Alice)

59-62 Alice from Voivodja (halfling) (your class is Alice)

63-71 White elf from Nornrik. You have a cool creepy viking-elf warmask that gives you +1 AC but -1 to notice stuff visually with Wisdom rolls.

72-75 White elf from Nornrik (aristocrat) Go here, and read the section on "Inherited Rank".

76-77 Gray Elf from the Far Lands You are one of those inherently magical elves from the Hexenbrachen or some other disturbing fey realm. You have the hit points and saves of a thief, one wizard spell (pick), and are otherwise a fighter at first level. You may level up in any of those three classes using these tables. -1 con. Note that your choice of spell affects your subrace.

78 One With Two Skins from the Far Lands. 

79 Vat Spawn from some alchemist's tower in Cobalt Reach

80-84 Pirate (human) from Vornheim. You're a human. You can sail. +1 con. Roll for your former captain.

85-86 Pirate (human) from The Land of Naj: choose one piece of slightly anachronistic technology to own. You can sail.  Roll for your former captain.

87-88 Pirate (human) from The Exotic East: pick a Kung Fu number.  You can sail. If you collect at least 4 levels in both fighter and thief, or at least 3 in fighter, thief and wizard you can call yourself a ninja.  Roll for your former captain.

89-94 Dwarf from The Nameless City/Lanthanum Chromate.

95-98 Dwarf from the Far Lands. Roll on the Dwarf Land trait table from Huge Ruined Scott's Dwarf Land pdf. Oh you don't have it? Just roll d6 and tell me what you got.

99-00 Sea Elf from the Drowned Lands. 

3. Scroll up to (2) above the snowflake if your race doesn't have its own link and note the stuff. If you're an Alice, Vat Spawn or an elf from the Far Lands, you've pretty much got your class cut out for you, otherwise, roll d8 for your class:

1. Ranger 
2. Paladin
3. Barbarian 
4. Cleric or, if you're Two-Skinned/Hengeyokai, you're a thief
6. Druid or, if you're Two-Skinned/Hengeyokai, you're a thief
8. Fighter

Note all the stuff for your class from 5, 6, and 7 above the snowflake. Ignore money.

4. If you're One With Two Skins, choose what animal you are, if you're a paladin or cleric, note your god depending on your background:

Human of Vornheim
1-2. Vorn: Grim grey god of iron and rain
2.Tittivila: horned goddess of mutation and healing
4. Gor: bullheaded god of law

1-3 Great Maggot
4. Akayle Ozph: elf /goblin chaos god . 

Dark Elf
3 Lolth
4-5 The Dracolisk
6 Akayle Ozph

Other I haven't got there yet, make something up

5.  You have a knife and another melee weapon of your choice and a backpack. If you are a cleric you have a holy symbol, if you're a wizard you have a spellbook.

Roll d20 on this table until you get the same result twice or the table instructs you otherwise

1. Shield or helmet AC +1
2. Leather armor +2
3. Studded/ring mail AC +3 or take leather armor or a cloak and (no matter what you choose) roll d10+10 on this table from now on
4. Scale mail AC +4 or take leather armor or a cloak and (no matter what you choose) roll d10+10 on this table from now on
5. Chain mail AC +5 or take leather armor or a cloak and (no matter what you choose) roll d10+10 on this table from now on
6. Banded/Splint mail AC +6 or take leather armor or a cloak and (no matter what you choose) roll d10+10 on this table from now on
7. Plate mail AC +7 or take leather armor or a cloak and (no matter what you choose) roll d10+10 on this table from now on
8. Crossbow w/10 bolts 
9. Roll d20 under your charisma. If you fail, take one thing, if you succeed, choose a number of things off this list equal to the number under, then stop.
10. Mirror, wolvesbane or 10' pole
11. 100gp or or thieves' tools
12. 5 torches + 2d4 oils
13. Rope
14. Grappling hook
15. Bedroll + some mundane object smaller than a breadbox not on this table
16. Caltrops or 10' chain
17. Melee weapon of your choice, it may be throwable
18. Short bow w/10 arrows
19. Lantern + 2d4 oils
20. Rations: 1 week +Wineskin

6. Fly little bird.