Your Money or your Life!

The Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventure campaigns at Indiegogo are now live! 19 adventures by really famous RPG blokes, such as Vincent Baker, Monte Cook, and Richard Pett. Also, adventures by people no one has ever heard about, such as Yours Truly!

Here’s the final lineup, in alphabetical order by author:

Escaping Leviathan by Aeron Alfrey
The Seclusium of Orphone by Vincent Baker (art by Cynthia Sheppard)
Strange and Sinister Shores by Johnathan Bingham
Towers Two by Dave Brockie
The Unbegotten Citadel by Monte Cook (art by Eric Lofgren)
The House of Bone and Amber by Kevin Crawford (art by Earl Geier)
Of Unknown Provenance by Michael Curtis (art by Amos Orion Sterns)
Machinations of the Space Princess by James Desborough (art by Satine Phoenix)
Horror Among Thieves by Kelvin Green
We Who Are Lost by Anna Kreider
The Land that Exuded Evil by Cynthia Celeste Miller (art by Rowena Aitken)
Pyre by Richard Pett (art by Michael Syrigos)
I Hate Myself for What I Must Do by Mike Pohjola (art by Joel Sammallahti)
Broodmother Sky Fortress by Jeff Rients (art by Stuart Robertson)
Normal for Norfolk by Juhani Seppälä (art by Rich Longmore)
Poor Blighters by Jeff and Joel Sparks (art by Mark Allen)
The Depths of Paranoia by Jennifer Steen (art by Jason Rainville)
Red in Beak and Claw by Jukka Särkijärvi (art by Jason Rainville)
The Dreaming Plague by Ville “Burger” Vuorela (art by Juha Makkonen)

Teasers for the adventures and bios for the talent and more info on the campaigns can be found here.

Time to pony up for some old school fantasy excellence!

Type III D&D + Old School sensibilities equals what?

This awesome lizardman illustration has nothing at all to do with this article.

I recently started (and ended) a very short-lived RPG campaign with the stated goal of using Paizo’s Pathfinder RPG rules set, and Paizo’s Serpent’s Skull Adventure Path, but with the rules mechanics pared down to resemble earlier versions of D&D, and with the Old School no-nonsense sensibilities of gaming style, e.g. lethality, rulings not rules, no battle mat, rolled attributes straight down the line, only four character classes and three races, considerably less skill points, slower feat progression, no easy access to healing magic, and no resurrection of any kind. An ambitious rules hack to be sure, and an interesting experiment on the compatibility of, in my opinion, two very different rules sets and the gaming styles derived thereof.

To start of, let me state that I’m strongly of the opinion, that rules sets are never just “the rules” and thus separate from the game world and what the actual game is like, but always strongly connected, e.g. the rules describe the metaphysics of the game world, and thus form the meta-culture of the way the game is played as a whole. You cannot separate the two more than you could use a spoon to extract oxygen from water.

The gaming group I had consisted of two players with a wide range of experience with different editions of D&D, including Mentzer D&D, AD&D, Pathfinder, and Lamentations of the Flame Princess; a player who had only played LotFP before this; and two players who had only played WotC 3.5./Pathfinder. The characters were created at the start of the first game session. We ended up with a fighter, two clerics, a rogue and a wizard, e.g. all four available classes represented.

Right off the bat we ran into some group dynamic problems, when one of the PF-players concocted an rather convoluted character backstory, which was soon revealed to the other players, but not the other characters. This is for for the most part fine when playing some more modern RPG’s, but for an old school style game, it just doesn’t work, as the intent is that first level characters aren’t supposed to really have complex backstories (“Character background is what happens during levels 1-4″ -G.Gygax), and also, in old school play, the line between player and character knowledge is so blurred it might as well be non-existent. The backstory had other problems as well (for one, the character was the cleric of an evil deity), but these problems have little to do with the topic of this post.

It soon became apparent, that there would be problems in more than one area. For one, the players who were only familiar with Type III were in no way prepared for how lethal combat becomes, when the characters aren’t superheroes anymore. Instead (as typical of Type III play), then met dangers head on with the expectation, that of course the challenge would be level-appropriate, thus providing a safe and sanitized moment of heroics, that would at most drain some consumable resources. Not so in old school, though. A few character deaths later, and they were starting to pay more attention to the fact, that the best way to survive is to avoid fighting, and if things start to look grim, its time to run. One also needs to realize, that sometimes not even the best preparations in the world will save characters from totally random death by trap or poison. This is also a feature (not a bug, mind you) not really present in Type III, but there in abundance in old school play.

An unexpected development from the rules changes was this: Since a lot of the combat rules and of course the battle mat of Type III wasn’t used, a lot more of what was actually happening in the game rested on so-called GM fiat. The actions of players had become decidedly less important than the description provided by the GM. This is something I’ve become very familiar with when running White Wolf games, where the system itself doesn’t tell you much of what’s happening. For White Wolf games, however, that’s perfectly OK, since the emphasis is supposed to be storytelling, not conflict resolution. In old school games, however, it most definitely isn’t OK, since the GM is supposed to be an impartial referee who just sets the challenges, rolls the dice, and lets them fall where they may. In fact, that particular trait of storytelling games is one of the main reasons why I started to gravitate away from them towards the OSR some years ago. Why was this happening, though?

I came to this conclusion: Since a pared down, or “vague” rules-system (such as Storyteller and my chopped up Pathfinder) sets a framework that tells you what the rules are like, without providing the actual nitty-gritty on how it actually works, the blanks (e.g. setting appropriate challenges and moderating troublespots) are left for the GM to fill. In my experience, this doesn’t really happen with either Pathfinder proper or with old school games. I think I need to ponder on this some more, though.

In conclusion, the experiment was successful in proving that a proper merger of two game systems so dissimilar is impossible without sacrificing some of the traits that are essential to actually making said game systems what they are. Pathfinder is fine if you want to run a system-heavy heroic game, with an incredibly detailed combat system, and old school style games work the best when using an old school style rules system. Oh, and of course Storyteller (briefly mentioned) is just fine if you don’t care about system at all, and would rather concentrate on co-operative storytelling.

Did I learn anything? Maybe. Next up, something completely different.

Lamentations of the Whispering Tyrant II

Since my last update on the topic at hand, the Ustalav campaign, my experiment in combining old school rules with new school adventuring material, has progressed rather nicely. We’ve managed a total of nine game sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. I originally intended to have four players in the group, but as one of my intended players never managed to make it to a game session, we’ve had to make do with just three.

Here’s a brief recap of the first two game sessions:

Session 1: The characters’ carriage breakes down en route to the town of Ravengro, and they are forced to seek shelter from the ghastly weather. A weird old tosser living alone in a small house on a hill reluctantly agrees to grant them lodging.

In the darkness of the night, the restless dead rise from their graves, and come demanding their pound of flesh from the old tosser. The characters do their best to fend off the skeletal horde, but are eventually forced to ditch the old man, and make for the tunnel entrance under the house. The tunnel leads down into an old crypt, where the PC get to fight some more skeletons. They also manage to score some loot.

This game session was intended as an introduction to the rules, and the intended mood of the game. Worked out rather nicely, I’d say. The one-liner back story about the old man and the restless dead was nicked from an old issue of Creepy.

Session 2: The characters arrive in Ravengro, stock up on supplies, and head back to the old crypt. They get to fight some more skeletons, and manage to make it out alive, their packs filled to capacity with loot. Back in Ravengro, the town Sheriff grows a bit suspicious about this group of outsiders leaving for a day, and returning wounded and battered carrying heavy burdens. The sheriff’s investigation is cut short (heh, heh), as a ghostly horseman decapitates him while he’s wandering about on the moors.

The Headless Horseman is another classic of early horror literature, and deserves a place in a campaign such as this. The townies growing suspicious of the adventurers, however, is something rather rarely seen in D&D-type play, but it was well received by the players, who had a blast trying to cover up their grave robbing activities.

As evident to those familiar with Paizo’s Carrion Crown Pathfinder Adventure Path, the players have so far not even gotten to the actual contents of said adventure path. Not to worry, though. Old School play has a tendency to drag on a fair bit longer than the quite a bit more combat-intensive type III D&D the adventure path was originally written for. By my estimate it will take the group about 20 game sessions just to make it through the first book of the series. I’m, however, in no hurry whatsoever.

More on the rest of the game sessions later!

Into the Caverns of Thracia

I recently started playing in an OD&D-style campaign based on the classic Judges Guild module The Caverns of Thracia. The rules system used is Autarch’s Adventurer Conqueror King System. The referee has a blog of his own describing the two game sessions played so far (sessions 1 and 2), so I won’t go into much detail about the actual games here. Go read Demos’ blog, though. He writes well, and is a rather prolific writer on all things RPG.

Let me tell you about my charact…

This one time we came across a pack of…

Fuck it. Go read what Demos has to say about it. Me, I’m having a blast just playing for once.

WHFB Warriors of Chaos – Requiem

My Warriors of Chaos army has now reached a respectable size, but as my interest in Warhammer Fantasy Battle has waned somewhat, it is time to move on towards other project. And so, I’m putting my whole army up for sale. I took some new photos, and have included them in this post. If you’re interested in acquiring a fully painted Warriors of Chaos army in one go, seek no further!

Cult of the Frigid Razor

The Morrighan was ancient beyond belief. She had seen empires rise and crumble. She had witnessed the fall of the Eldar race, the flight into the Webways, the founding of Comorragh, the brutal power-struggles that ensued, and eventually the rise of the upstart Vect. She had bid her time in the shadow of Lelith, waiting for her hour of might. Her cult, The Frigid Razor, was strong, and grew stronger with each season of gladiatorial combat culling the weakest from the flock. The Morrighan’s aeons of planning were finally about to give fruit. And yet she couldn’t shake the nagging feeling, that something was missing from the puzzle… She would have to consult the Crones.

Alright! Progress report time. I’ve settled on a paint scheme, that I’m satisfied with, both in terms of overall look, and speed of painting. The main colours are hawk turquoise and red gore, with some ice blue and fortress gray added to the mix. I’ve assembled the succubus, three reavers, and ten wyches, and painted the reavers and one of the hecatrixes (hecatrixi?). I was at the store painting with a friend and co-worker, and he was kind enough to snap a few photos of my miniatures. Tell me what you think.

A New Darkness Arises

Shrill screams pierced the eternal night. Frigid winds blew, forming icicles on crooked iron spires. The scent of blood lay heavy in the air. The wyches were getting restless, and the death-screams of wretched slaves were testament to this. The Morríghan savored the moment, licking her blood-red lips. Soon her covens would be strong enough to take their rightful place among the cruel Commorragh elite. Soon, very soon…

I started thinking about a new army a short while back, and after a rather arduous process of elimination came to the conclusion that there really is only one choice for me… the Dark Eldar. I plan on starting out with a small army list, get those painted, play a few games, and try to learn the inns and outs of the Dark Eldar army. I also plan on staying away from internet forums full of know-it-all’s, and instead try and discover what makes the Dark Eldar tick on my own, through the time-tested method of trial and error.

This much I know so far: There are going to be a lot of Wyches. There won’t be too many Raiders. I will only use models I actually like. The colour scheme will be cold and grim.

Here’s what I plan to start with:

Cult of the Frigid Razor
HQ
The Morríghan (Succubus)
Agoniser, Haywire Grenades

The Crone Mothers (2 Haemonculi)
2x Liquifier Gun

Troops
Ceridwen’s coven (10 Wyches)
Hecatrix, Power Weapon, Blast Pistol, Haywire Grenades

Blodeuwedd’s coven (10 Wyches)
Hecatrix, Power Weapon, Blast Pistol, Haywire Grenades

Fast Attack
The Skyrazors (3 Reavers)
Heat Lance, Arena Champion, Power Weapon

Total 618