Friday, January 21, 2011

Domain Rituals With Many Casters

So for the Hill Canton's LL Domain PBEM Campaign, we were talking about the possibility of including powerful spells in the form of "Rituals" that would affect an entire hex or hexes of a world map.  These would be similar in affect as the Domain/Realm spells of Birthright.  We were talking about how each Ritual would have various requirements of the number and level of the casters needed to cast the spell in question.  The world map we are currently using has 5 mile hexes.

I suggested that there would need to be a magic-user that would be the Focus Caster of the Ritual, and they would need to be of a higher level than the rest of those helping with it.  So the requirement for a certain Ritual might be that the Focus Caster must be of 5th level or higher.  In addition to the Focus Caster, there would need to be a required number of levels of helping casters, or Secondary Casters.  So perhaps a Ritual needing a 5th level magic-user might need a total of 10 levels of Secondary Casters.  So if you had four 2nd level magic-users, and two 1st level magic-users, then you would have a total of 10 levels of Secondary Casters.

We also thought about the possibility of a Ritual affecting additional adjacent hexes of the world map if there were enough Secondary Casters, or perhaps if the Focus Caster was of a level much higher than the required level for the Ritual.  The question comes down to the required extra levels that would be needed.  It also depends on how powerful you think that a bunch of clerics or magic-users should be in a setting.

If the setting is high magic, maybe the requirements would be less to affect adjacent hexes, and if the setting is low magic, maybe Rituals that affect adjacent hexes would not even be possible.  I think it comes down to the GM and what they would like out of the rules.  I'm guessing that the goal should be to come up with rules for those mid fantasy settings, and GMs can modify the requirements as they see fit.

I was trying to think of a quick formula to figure out the costs to affect those adjacent hexes from where the Ritual actually took place.  I wanted something simple, so here is my first stab at it.  I also wanted to either have a powerful Focus Caster be able to do this, and/or to have a bunch of Secondary Casters in addition to the normal requirements to affect those adjacent hexes.  So here goes:

1) If the Focus Caster needs to be of X level to cast the Ritual, then for every +1/2 X additional levels the magic-user has (rounded down) the Ritual can affect an additional adjacent hex.

2) If the Secondary Casters need to have a total of Y levels to cast the Ritual, then for every +1/2 Y additional levels of Secondary Casters the Ritual can affect an additional adjacent hex.

So using the above suggestion let's make up an example Ritual to show how I think this could work.

Ritual: Harvest Boon

Focus Caster Requirement: 5th Level
Secondary Casters Requirement: 10 Levels of Secondary Casters

"This Ritual decreases the growing time of planted vegetables in your hex by half.  This would allow a hex to have two harvests in one growing period, thereby doubling the work, and doubling the yield."

Let's say that your Focus Caster is of 7th Level, and that you have 10 total levels of Secondary Casters.  Using the above formula, you could affect the hex where the Ritual took place, and one extra hex (because you have a Focus Caster with 2 extra levels than are needed (5 divided by 2 rounded down).

Let's say that your Focus Caster is of 5th Level, and that you have 15 total levels of Secondary Casters.  Using the above formula, you could affect the hex where the Ritual took place, and one extra hex (because you have 1 1/2 the needed total levels of Secondary Casters).

The nice thing about that, is that you can have both a high level Focus Caster, and extra Secondary Casters and use both to affect more and more adjacent hexes.  Once all of the adjacent hexes have been affected by a spell, then you can go out to the next ring of adjacent hexes.  This probably would only happen for very large conclaves of magic-users or clerics however.

I think this format could be used for Divine Rituals, as well as Arcane Rituals, as I can see both working out well.  I'm not sure what the differences would be between the Divine and Arcane Rituals and their effects, but I'm sure there would be some overlap in areas.

In addition to the above, I was also thinking that other things could help out these types of far reaching Rituals.  Perhaps the following could be boons to casting bigger and badder rituals:

1) The stars are right.
2) Sacrifices (animal or humanoid)
3) Burning Spell Slots of the magic-users or clerics involved in the spell.  So they would essentially exhaust themselves of every spell slot they had for the day.  I'm guessing there would be some formula to give extra levels to either the Focus Caster, or Secondary Casters.  This might be a bad idea though.
4) Lay worshipers and lay cultists could help out, but there would need to be many of them to do so.  These worshipers/cultists would be chanting, singing hymns, dancing, smoking things, etc.
5) Alignment of the moon(s) in the night sky, or the position of the sun(s).
6) Using magically oriented crystals, or minerals that are particular to your setting.  Magic rocks can help in the casting perhaps by multiplying, or adding to the total number of casters, or the level of the Focus Caster.
7) Sacrificing powerful magic-users or clerics themselves might have a powerful effect, but with a heavy price...  The Terry Goodkind Sword of Truth series had a lot of magic items and powerful spell effects created by the loss of life of powerful magic-users, so why not here?  Perhaps every level that the sacrificed caster had would translate into twice the amount?  This might be too dark for some campaigns.
8) Summoned extra planar creatures could perhaps be conjured forth to aid in the spell casting, but with a lot of risks to those performing the ritual.  Perhaps there would be a % chance of the Ritual going awry, and perhaps performing a curse instead of a boost to what they were attempting to accomplish.

That's all I can think of right now.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Elf & Magic-User Sumerian LL Spell Names / Command Words

I posted this over on the LL forum, but I figured it would be good to post the full list here.  Some of the translations of words are pretty weak IMO, but I did the best I could with the available words.  I think the worst translation was Reverse Gravity (because Sumerians didn't have a word for gravity).  If I couldn't find the word, I tried to boil down what the effects of the spell were, and go from there typing in words till something popped up.  I used the link to find all of these words:

1st Level LL Sumerian Elf & Magic-User Spell Names/Command Words
Charm Person "Namhili Umia"
Detect Magic "Hulu Emegar"
Floating Disk "Dirig Gur"
Hold Portal "Du Daggan"
Light "Geshnu"
Magic Missile "Emegar Gagsisa"
Protection From Evil "Shudul Hulgal"
Read Languages "Gu De Eme"
Read Magic "Gu De Emegar"
Shield "Duksium"
Sleep "Usag"
Ventriloquism "Zulun"

2nd Level LL Sumerian Elf & Magic-User Spell Names/Command Words
Arcane Lock "Emegar Za"
Continual Light "Duri Geshnu"
Detect Evil "Hulu Tuku"
Detect Invisibile "Hulu Nu Igi Duh"
ESP "Ningdirig Shu Gid"
Invisibility "Nu Igi Duh"
Knock "Gal Taka"
Levitate "Dirig"
Locate Object "Hulu Barutum"
Mirror Image "Zarbarshu Mete"
Phantasmal Force "Gidim Gu"
Web "Ash Ningdu"

3rd Level LL Sumerian Elf & Magic-User Spell Names/Command Words
Clairvoyance "Mushma Igi Bar"
Dispel Magic "Hash Emegar"
Fireball "Izi Ellag"
Fly "Barash"
Haste "Kusham Tag"
Hold Person "Du Umia"
Infravision "Mashgik"
Invisibility 10' Radius "Nu Igi Duh Eshe"
Lightning Bolt "Saggul"
Protection From Evil 10' Radius "Shudul Hulgal Eshe"
Protection From Normal Missles "Shudul Gagsisa"
Water Breathing "Asura Pag"

4th Level LL Sumerian Elf & Magic-User Spell Names/Command Words
Magic Eye "Emegar Igi"
Charm Monster "Namhili Mushhush"
Confusion "Suh"
Dimension Door "Anshag Daggan"
Hallucinatory Terrain "Kur Kalam"
Massmorph "Mah Giri Kur"
Plant Growth "Abushu Dubul"
Polymorph Others "Giri Kur Balare"
Polymorph Self "Giri Kur Ni"
Remove Curse "Hash Ash"
Wall of Fire "Egar Izi"
Wall of Ice "Egar Halba"

5th Level LL Sumerian Elf & Magic-User Spell Names/Command Words
Animate Dead "Zi Shag Gal Dugdugurhi"
Cloudkill "Dungu Gaz"
Conjure Elemental "Dim Lahama"
Contact Other Plane "Di Anshag"
Feeblemind "Huba Sag"
Hold Monster "Du Mushhush"
Magic Jar "Emegar Tigul"
Passwall "Dib Egar"
Telekinesis "Sa Sag"
Teleport "Emegar Zid"
Transmute Rock to Mud "Shu Bala Na Luhum"
Wall of Stone "Egar Na"

6th Level LL Sumerian Elf & Magic-User Spell Names/Command Words
Anti-Magic Shell "Nu Emegar Murguba"
Control Weather "Ku Gal An"
Death Spell "Dugdugurhi En"
Disintergrate "Sugzag Gu"
Geas "Gasham Duga"
Invisible Stalker "Nu Igi Duh Gissu"
Lower Water "Kita Asura"
Move Earth "Sa Lag"
Part Water "Na Deg Asura"
Project Image "Sig Mete"
Reincarnation "Kunu Sug"
Stone to Flesh "Na Ushmeda"

7th Level LL Sumerian Elf & Magic-User Spell Names/Command Words
Grasping Hand "Tab Silig"
Delayed Blast Fireball "Giri Gub Tab Izi Ellag"
Instant Summons "Inesh Dim"
Duo-Dimension "Min Anshag"
Limited Wish "Kisher Kurku"
Mass Invisibility "Mah Nu Igi Duh"
Magic Sword "Emegar Ugur"
Phase Door "Alad Daggan"
Power Word Stun "A Shum En Udi"
Reverse Gravity "Balare Shu Dub"
Simulacrum "De Uludin"
Statue "Alan"

8th Level LL Sumerian Elf & Magic-User Spell Names/Command Words
Antipathy/Sympathy "Umul Kunu" / "Umul Kar"
Clenched Fist "Mir Geshba"
Clone "Gabari"
Glass Like Steel "Anzah Kugan"
Incendiary Cloud "Manu Dungu"
Irresistible Dance "Gu Gud"
Mass Charm "Mah Namhili"
Maze "Dih Dus"
Mind Blank "Sag Nunignam"
Polymorph Any Object "Giri Kur Ningnam"
Symbol "Zib"
Trap The Soul "Ellagdu Shedu"

9th Level LL Sumerian Elf & Magic-User Spell Names/Command Words
Crushing Hand "Gum Silig"
Imprisonment "Egal"
Meteor Storm "An Amargu Ud"
Power Word Kill "A Shum En Gaz"
Prismatic Sphere "Bara Ni Karkar"
Shape Change "Egar Shu Bala"
Temporal Stasis "A'udtegiba Nu Sa"
Time Stop "A'udtegiba Gala Dag"
Wish "Kurku"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Old Paper Scrolls & Sumerian LL Spell Names

A few posts back I mentioned that I bought this old photo album from my local antiques/junk store for a buck.  It has odd large shaped paper and it is turning a brownish yellow from age.  I've tried to emulate that color with normal printer paper / drawing paper with tea bags, but this age you just can't duplicate well.  The feel of the paper just lets you know it is old, and it is a little fragile as well (which adds to the affect).

It was good for me that only like 5 sheets of this paper had those corner holders glued on to the pages, and the rest is in pristine unused condition.  After I took out the pages where the photos were, an idea came to me.  What if I cut the pages in half, and then printed only on one side with my printer?  The idea of scrolls popped into my head, and so that is what I did. 

I used a "Lucinda Handwriting" font, and made it 14 points so it was easier to read.  It looks like some neat crazy mage wrote the spells down on the paper!  :)  I bolded the Spell Name at the top of each spell, and then copy and pasted the Labyrinth Lord spell description below it.  Beside the name I went ahead and figured out what each spell name would be in Sumerian (since I'm going to go ahead and use that as a command word for each spell).  That way, if any role-playing inclined player wants to chant/yell the name of the spell, they can.

I started with the 2nd level Labyrinth Lord spells, and I'll branch out and do more from AEC and perhaps 1st level spells as well (even though they have most of them by now).

LL 2nd Level Spells In Sumerian
Arcane Lock  "Emegar Za"
Continual Light  "Duri Geshnu"
Detect Evil  "Hulu Tuku"
Detect Invisibile  "Hulu Nu Igi Duh"
ESP  "Ningdirig Shu Gid"
Invisibility  "Nu Igi Duh"
Knock "Gal Taka"
Levitate  "Dirig"
Locate Object  "Hulu Barutum"
Mirror Image  "Zarbarshu Mete"
Phantasmal Force  "Gidim Gu"
Web  "Ash Ningdu"

I'm not a Sumerologist or anything, and I've never been good with picking up any other languages.  The above are just my interpretations of words I could find on the Sumerian Lexicon.  When I couldn't find a word, I would look around for a word that was similar. 

While I'm at it, I might as well figure out the Sumerian words for the 1st level LL spells.

Charm Person  "Namhili Umia"
Detect Magic  "Hulu Emegar"
Floating Disk  "Dirig Gur"
Hold Portal  "Du Daggan"
Light  "Geshnu"
Magic Missile  "Emegar Gagsisa"
Protection From Evil  "Shudul Hulgal"
Read Languages  "Gu De Eme"
Read Magic  "Gu De Emegar"
Shield  "Duksium"
Sleep  "Usag"
Ventriloquism  "Zulun"

All Sumerian words were found on the following website:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Darves Hill Audio Files On YouTube?

I'm hoping to start making audio recordings of the Darves Hill game, and start putting them up on YouTube.  I've done this in the past with a Vampire/Werewolf game I ran awhile ago.  So far the players seem to like the idea, but I wanted to get the okay from everyone before I started recording their voices.  I'll still sum up the adventures here as well (and I'll have audio to listen to so I don't forget anything).   We play at a gaming club so I'm curious to see how much background noise I'll have to weed out of the recordings when I go through them after the sessions. 

The next session will be on Feb 12th.  So most of my posts will be about other LL things until then.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Simple LL Races (Using AEC Class & Races)

I like the standard race-classes in the core Labyrinth Lord books, but I also realize that some players like a little more variety and like to mix and match races and class abilities.  I've never quite been happy with the way the separate races are presented in the AEC (Advanced Edition Companion) book, as they seem to be more complicated than they need to be.  I'm of the opinion that you can have a simple race description and then just add one of the human classes to it (Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, and Thief). 

So what really do you need to make a race?  I suggest that you really don't need that much to make a race.  Sure, you can go into the fluff as much as you like to fit your particular setting, but mechanically you can cap each race to a few special abilities, add some modifiers to stats, and then you are all done.

So, let us see if we can make some simple races.

Stat Modifiers: Dex +1 / Str -1
Infravision 90' (-1 to all dice rolls in bright sunlight)
Hatred: +1 to attacks and damage vs Dwarves & Kobolds
Tracking Scent: 1-3 on a D6

Stat Modifiers: Str +1 / Cha -1
Infravision 90' (-1 to all dice rolls in bright sunlight)
Hatred: +1 to attacks and damage vs Dwarves & Elves
Depravity: Everyone hates Orcs even other evil races.  Not only are they violent, but they do all sorts of horrible things to the corpses of their enemies.  All social interactions should have role-playing consequences left up to the GM. 

You could come up with more special abilities, or change them till they fit the way you view the race in question.  Making simple races also makes it easier to make new races of your own design.

Actor Pictures For Characters

I've been a few games where players would scour the internet looking for a picture of a certain actor that would fit their character to a T.  I always liked that idea.  You could also just look for some picture of a random person and use that as well, which would probably work better because it doesn't have the baggage that some actors have.  Think of playing a character who picked Jim Carrey as the actor for instance...

When the Lord of the Rings flicks were in the pre-planning stages, everyone had their perfect cast lists.  Just think of doing something like that for a RPG.  I just watched the official cast video from HBO for the Game of Thrones show, and it got me thinking about this idea again.

So, the next time you are coming up with a new character idea, or you want to flesh out your NPCs just a little more than you normally do, perhaps look for some actor or random person picture online.  An image is worth a thousand words.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Domain Labyrinth Lord Playtest

So, I jumped into the Domain LL Playtest with a bunch of online players.  It hit me right at the time that I was wondering about Birthright, A Game of Thrones, and Houses of the Blooded.  I had just played some of the old Birthright: The Gorgon's Alliance on the old junker PC, and the fire of ruling kingdoms was in my belly.  So when I saw the post on the LL forum, I jumped at the chance.

Yeah, I needed another gaming project like I need a whole in the head, but I just couldn't resist.  A rules-lite domain level game?  Man, that just sounded like an amazing thing to be a part of.  If this ever becomes a product, my name will be listed as a playtester as well.  :)

The guy that is putting this all together, and running the playtest game has a blog:

Like some of my other gaming projects, and fantasy settings, I'm going to be using the Sumerian language to name everything.  I'm also going to have some Sumerian cultural influences when I make this new kingdom.  I will try to designate what each word and name means in Sumerian.  For a link for a Sumerian Lexicon, go here:

I'm having a lot of fun weighing all of the possibilities of running a new territory, and working my way towards making a society that can fend for itself, without still leaning on the old kingdom.  The idea was that there was this portal that went to some strange land with a redder sun, and that the old kingdom wanted some new territory in this new place.  That is where my main character (a 4th Level Cleric) and his retinue come in.  We are there to put down fresh roots, and to carve a place for our little band there.

I came up with the name Gibilki for the name of the Domain, which means New Land in Sumerian.  It just seemed to fit, and had a weird sounding name, so I went with it.  

I find myself laying awake at night planning ahead for the next turn of the game.  We have only had one turn, consisting of 4 weeks in game time.  Each turn will be every 2 weeks in real time, so we have time to weigh our decisions, and tally up all of our costs.  I've built a large stone Ziggurat (Temple) to the four gods of my culture, did some planting of crops and holy white Elammakum trees, carved out some tunnels and rooms for the miners to live in, and built some crappy lean to structures until we can take the time out to make better structures.  The miners have been churning out stone for the building of the Ziggurat, and for other building projects down the road.  I'm hoping to build roads, walls, and other stone buildings for my peasants to live in as well.  It all costs money, and takes time however.  It would be really nice if those Dwarven Miners found some silver or gold, to help with my income, but only time will tell.

My culture is a mix of Dwarves and Humans, with a heavy religious flavor.  There are Dwarven Infantry that fight in small units called Balgi (which means Turtle).  These Dwarven Infantry units have shields and fight mainly with spears, though they have swords as well as a back up.  They fight in small knit units that move simultaneously together.  Other units of Human Archers called Tirah (which means Shoot) fight behind the infantry units and fire their arrows at oncoming enemies.  I want to have some cavalry units eventually as well.  It costs a lot of money to give them improved equipment, but that is exactly what I eventually would like to do.    

The one thing that I'm not sure of in the game, is income.  A LOT of things have monthly costs, and I have to make sure to be able to feed everyone.  I want to eventually have Yaks (yes Yaks) be some sort of  bad ass cavalry.  It makes sense to have War Yaks as well, but that will be out of my price range for a bit.  Since they are the same costs as Draft Horses, and War Horses in the LL rules.

I want to extrapolate on the religion and the culture as time goes on.  Depending on what other cultures and races I bump into, will probably alter how my culture looks at the world, and what kind of culture they become.  If my culture bumps into nothing but cultures that want to kill them, then they will become more militant.  If they bump into cultures that want to trade goods, my culture might become more productive and trade more (and probably build a lot of roads).  What is cool, and yet frustrating, is that I need to wait to hear what happened in the last turn, before I can make too many plans for the future.  I also get the feeling, that some unexpected problems will begin to arise that I will have to deal with.  My lofty goals might be put off by attacks, diseases, natural disasters, etc. 

Perhaps people would like to see the four deities I would like to flesh out as the game progresses?  Well, here they are:

Adhalid [SECRET RIVER] (Add-Ha-Lid) - God

Domains/Portfolio/Specialties: Insanity, Luck, Lust, Prophecy, Rivers, and Secrets

It is said that Adhalid dwells in the rivers and streams of the land, and gathers unto himself all the secrets that people want to keep hidden. He is a master of gossip, betrayals, illegal business dealings, and secret sins. He has seduced many a chaste couple into the throws of passion, especially when they were near a river. It is said that Adhalid is a mad god, and at times he bestows insanity on those nearby. He likes to influence the ways of the world, or change the odds in favor of a mortal he admires, and in so doing, he lost some of his sanity. 

Barakara [UNKNOWN] (Barra-Karra) - God/Goddess/Force

Domains/Portfolio/Specialties: Cold, Death, Fate, Sorrow, Vengeance, and War

Not much is known of this deity. It is an enigma, and it is surrounded in mystery. None knows if the deity is a male or female, or perhaps an impersonal uncaring force. Many philosophers and theologians speculate on the properties of this deity, but the only thing that is known, is that eventually all come to feel the presence of this thing before the end of life. 

Diĝirama [DIVINE MOTHER] (Dij-Ear-Amma) - Goddess

Domains/Portfolio/Specialties: Childbirth, Fire, Harvest, Love, Nature, and Wisdom

Females that give birth call on Diĝirama most of all, but husbands also seek to ask her favor for their loved ones. She is called upon during auspicious events in life such as the birth of children, harvest time, marriages, and appointments to public office. It is said that every drop of blood that falls to the ground was once in Diĝirama's veins. It is also held to be true that Diĝirama and Adhalid's lust brought forth the mortal races, combining both flesh and the spiritual flame within it. 

Imhul [WIND] (Imm-Hull) - Goddess

Domains/Portfolio/Specialties: Air, Archery, Art, Birds, Knowledge, and Judgment

The worshipers of this goddess hold birds as being the carriers of inspiration and the muses of artists. Killing birds is forbidden, and dead birds that are found are cremated in honor. It is believed that the goddess Imhul travels through the air and only reveals herself through birds. A pleasant cool breeze on a hot day is attributed to her, and vicious storms are sometimes attributed to Imhul being exceedingly angry at something. 

The religion has a hierarchy, and the way Labyrinth Lord handles Clerics and levels works well with that.  So far I've described the religion as having lots of animal sacrifices on the altar in the Ziggurat.  I may be open to letting the culture sacrifice captured enemies (bug again, it all depends on how rival cultures interact with mine).  They sing lots of hymns, chant, burn incense, and the peasants and soldiers all take part in religious ceremonies and festivals.   

The government is going to be mainly a Theocracy, but with a heavy Military leaning.  The General can veto anything the High Priest says, if he thinks it is a stupid idea, or if it will cause problems.  It is normally the soldiers that institute the High Priest's orders, so they just can not follow through with the orders that they don't agree with.  So taxes in the territory, will be more like tithes, and gifts to the running of the temple, and to the territory as well.

It has been exciting to plan out how 65 people are carving out a new life for themselves, and I get to do a little bit of world building as well with the culture.  I'm very excited to see how the rules we are using change and are modified as time goes on.  The playtesters questions are making the author of the rules put more flesh on the skeleton as we proceed.  I'm having a lot of fun.  :)

Here is my Human Regent/High Priest that rules and controls the operations of the Ziggurat, and the Dwarven General that heads up the military branch of the government.

Lesser Noble Daramuš (Dare-ah-Mush) [RED FACE]
Human 4th Level Priest
(Leader/High Priest of the territory)
(Rolling 4D6 straight down, dropping the lowest, 2D6+6 for Cha)
Strength 9
Constitution 13
Dexterity 13
Intelligence 10
Wisdom 10
Charisma 13
“You will start at 10,001 exp and maximum hit points. Assume that you have all the mundane equipment list.” Needs to get to 12,501 to reach 5th level.
Hit Points 4D6 + 4 = 15HP
AC = 5(Chain Mail) -1(Shield) -1(Dex) = AC 3
Breath Attacks 16
Poison or Death 11
Petrify or Paralyze 14
Wands 12
Spells or Spell-like Devices 15
To Hit Armor Class Zero = 18 (and then down the line)
Uses a mace, and shield to fight.

Dwarven General Girdušia (Gear-Dush-Ya) [WEED STONE]
Dwarf Soldier
3rd level Dwarf
(Rolling 3D6 straight down)
Strength 13
Constitution 13
Dexterity 11
Intelligence 5
Wisdom 14
Charisma 11
Hit Points = 3D8+4 = 18HP
AC = 5(Chain Mail) -1(Shield) = AC4
Breath Attacks 13
Poison or Death 8
Petrify or Paralyze 10
Wands 9
Spells or Spell-like Devices 12
To Hit Armor Class Zero = 18 (and then add in the +1 to hit from Strength = 17)
Uses a Spear, Short Sword, and Shield to fight, like his soldiers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Keeping A House Rules / Rulings List

As a GM in old school games, you have to come up with answers to questions that aren't covered by the rules.  I think this is one of the strengths of using a rules-lite game such as Labyrinth Lord because you can craft the game to your likes very easily, by adding on small layers of complexity as time goes on.  It just feels organic somehow, like the game is slowly growing. 

As a GM I always want to be fair and consistent.  So to make sure that happens, I've been jotting down the rulings I've been making as we play.  This way I can keep my own past rulings straight, and the players feel like they have a consistent and fair interaction with the rules and past precedents.  These rulings can also be called house rules if you like, and I think it is always important that your players know what house rules you have come up with for your games.  I always try to give my players a list of house rules before we even start playing, but some of them creep up after you start. 

So, if you are a GM out there, make sure to keep a list of what makes your game different when it concerns the rules, and I think your players will greatly appreciate you being organized and fair.

Character Bios & January 2011 Game Summary

New Players & Character Bios

So we are three sessions into the campaign now, and I've killed off two characters.  I think I'm doing this right.  :)  The campaign has five players now, since two more victims people showed up to take part in my chaotic style of fun.  If attendance is good, I'm not going to allow anymore players into the game.  I get the feeling that everyone seems pretty dedicated to showing up, and that is always a good feeling to have.  I also like when players communicate when they can't attend, and they all seemed to be of the same mindset.  Communication is important to keeping a group/game going.  I also think I have an AWESOME crew of players for this game, and I hope the game will continue on for a long time.  Thanks for playing everyone.

This is just a reminder that much of the setting will be organized on the following bad HTML website:

Perhaps I should introduce our illustrious heroes?  "I wrote a song about it, like to here it, here it goes." -Calhoon Tubbs/In Living Color

Cyr is a Human Thief that is played by Mike.  He has recently found an old coin/holy symbol.  A Quasit Demon latched onto him, and another character Thimple (detailed below).  Cyr's retainer Tyr Vand Dedsoon (a Human Magic-User) was eaten alive by a swarm of bugs, and his body was burned in the proper fashion.  Cyr has recently hired on Targ, who is a Human Fighter to help him in the quest of clearing out the evil of Darves Hill.  Cyr was the first character to reach Level 2.

Grunk is a Human Fighter that is played by Jeff.  He has taken on the trappings of the groups leader, but that title may just be in his own mind...  He has taken charge of making sure everyone seems to get a long, and to make suggestions for the splitting of loot, and for shouting tactical orders during battle.  He has a Halfling retainer, that has been known to be a bit... um... shady...  This Halfling goes by Thimple, and he is the other character that the Quasit Demon has latched onto.  It seems when you are trapped in a small box for a long period of time, that the people that let you out, become your "friends."  Grunk is now a Level 2 character.

Brother Derris is a Human Cleric that is played by John.  He isn't very fond of the Quasit in the party, but he has let it slide so far.  He has been instrumental in translating many things at Darves Hill because most of it is written in an ancient divine language, that he is familiar with.  Many items seem to have been given names, that allude to their properties.  He has a Dwarven retainer by the name of Ordok Throon.  Ordok has an adventurous spirit, and seemingly good luck.  Brother Derris is now a Level 2 character.  

Silverleaf is an Elf played by Friar (Brendon).  He has shown cunning, and a cautious adventuring spirit so far.  He seems to have much potential.  His trusty Dwarven retainer Steel Beard is more about action than long thought out cautionary procedures.  This risky attitude may bring him great success, but possibly also a short life expectancy.  Only time will tell. 

Marjuan was a Magic-User that was played by Tom.  Marjuan met the gods when he failed to follow the warning of the arcane words inscribed above a doorway.  They told him to not look backwards, and he did.  He was killed by illusionary magic, in the form of evil spirits.  Marjuan's Human retainer Mescillius, then became the master (and inherited all of his boss's equipment).  Later a Human Cleric by the name of Metham would join with Mescillious' in a life of danger and possible wealth.

January 2011 Game Summary

The group met up at the holy temple to discuss things with the head priest Ur-Nammu.  He told them of a rumor that a huge winged creature had flew over the town early that morning and was seen heading north in the direction of Darves Hill.  The group found it odd, that they didn't see it on their way into the town of Nahm...

The group met with Silverleaf & Steel Beard, as well as Marjuan and Mescillius.  It seems they had also answered the temple's call for the purification of Darves Hill.  They were given some welcoming gifts from the other characters (ie stuff they couldn't use) and headed off to the Inn to get some food and to get a room for the night.  Grunk paid for everyone's meal, and for their rooms, and tipped the establishment heavily.  They were treated like pauper Kings that night.  Silverleaf chatted up the attractive bartender Ashley, but she seemed pretty empty headed.  The Magic-User and Elf took time out to share the spells in their spellbooks, and they scribbled arcane passages into the night until sleep finally took them. 

The group headed North, and about halfway there to Darves Hill, they noticed a very large creature was indeed resting on the top of the ancient temple at the very top of the hill.  As they got closer, it seemed to be a large Green Dragon that had fallen asleep.  A noxious gas could be seen escaping from under its wing, where its head was being sheltered from the day sun by its massive wing.  The adventurers kept as hidden as possible, but the Dragon did not wake from its slumber.  They eventually made it to the hill, and began their work renewed after their previous night in the Inn.

The group made a plan to remove all of the equipment from one of the four donkeys in their retinue.  They tied a stone to the bridle with a rope, and the plan was to drop the stone if the Dragon woke up.  This way, the group could run away and the donkey could be Dragon food.  It was a good plan, but one that didn't need to be implemented yet.

They explored a building with no doors.  All of the structures on the hill are made from a black brick, with gray and reddish mortar.  While searching, they found a strange lever behind one of the loose bricks.  Grunk offered to pull the lever, and a forcefield, similar to a magical bird cage sprung out over him.  He was standing on grass though.  Unable to dispel the magical effect, Grunk instead dug out the ground where he was standing and figured out that the cage did not continue on past the dirt.  In short order, they managed to dig a little tunnel for Grunk to escape.

When Grunk pulled the lever, a secret door popped open.  Inside the bare room, was a single urn made of pottery on the dirt floor.  Brother Derris was able to read the name of Ur-Masha written in strange cuneiform lettering.  The room had not been opened for a long time it seemed.  Ordok Throon noticed that there was an area of the floor that had slightly different colored dirt, and began to dig.  Slowly they uncovered an ancient skeleton wearing a chain belt and a ring that seemed to be resting on the skeleton's face.  In the skeleton's hands it was holding a very large and ornate two handed warhammer.  The weapon's name was Namuš A Namuš which meant Death To Death.  They later inferred that this was a weapon to smite Undead with.  Ordok Throon put on the strange ring, and it re-sized itself and then small sharp spikes implanted themselves in his finger.  It seems for better or worse the magical ring's unknown abilities are stuck on the Dwarves finger.

Brother Derris inferred that Ur-Masha was a powerful priest from bygone days.  They had planned to take this name back to town and try to do some research on it.  The urn was trapped from below, such that if they pulled up on the urn, something nasty would happen.  They wisely did not move the urn and left the little room.

Nightfall is a horrible time on the hill, so the group wisely took shelter in one of the larger ruined buildings that they had cleared out previously.  The night was strangely quiet compared to previous nights, but they would hear the massive wings of the Dragon and then the sound of something unnatural dying a horrible death.  At one point massive scratching claws scraped the walls of their building, and they spiked the door shut.  It tried to force its way in, but could not breach the door.  This same creature was also eaten by the Dragon after its breath weapon seemingly killed it.  The creature killed was thought to be an Undead, because the warhammer glowed a faint white light when it was near.

In another ruined building, the group found part of the floor was raised, and on this raised floor was a black very clean slab with very minute words inscribed in a circle.  The group felt that this was some sort of teleportation device, or perhaps some way to disintergrate things.  They tested it out by dumping water on it, and by dropping rocks on it.  All they know is that when anything touched the surface of the slab, it vanished from sight, and was not there anymore.  No one stood on it to see what would happen.

In another building, with an archway entrance, Thimple walked in and was momentarily scared by the visions of horrible demons and menacing spirits trying to enter his body.  He shook off this horrible vision (with a saving throw) and told the rest of the group what he felt and saw.  There was strange unknown arcane writing on the back of the arch, and the others threw in the special Helmet that they had found earlier that aided in deciphering languages.  It was a simple warning that said, "Walk In Backwards."

The Dwarf Steel Beard offered to walk in first, so he turned around and went in backwards as the warning said.  He also made sure not to look backwards, for fear that he might suffer some horrible fate.  He was surprised to find a set of invisible stairs that hit the back of his heels.  He felt around with his feet and hands, and discerned that they were two feet wide, and each step was about a foot high.  He slowly began climbing the stairs.  Nothing it seems could touch or even feel that the stairs were there, except for the feet of the character.  Everyone started getting a little freaked out, but Steel Beard kept moving backwards up a set of invisible stairs.

Thimple was getting tired for waiting for the cautious Steel Beard (as the Dwarf was making slow progress) so he quickly moved up the stairs backwards, until his Halfling head broke the plane of the ceiling, and found that it too was an illusion.  His eyes broke through the floor like an alligator's eyes looking for prey just above the surface of the water.  He found another inscription that read, "You can look everywhere now."  He saw four padlocked chests, and quickly continued on into the room.  He marked the edges of the real floor, and the illusionary floor, so he wouldn't fall through once he was up there.

Marjuan wanted in on the action, so he began testing the stairs as well.  He made the mistake of looking backwards, and he too felt the encroaching evil of spirits trying to enter his body (and he failed his saving throw).  Marjuan screamed horribly, and then his lifeless body fell down through the invisible stairs.  Blood flowed out of all of his orifices, and was a testament in death to the living to be cautious.

They found a good many coins, and a suit of chain armor with Ur-Masha's name on it, as well as the holy symbol of the two snakes eating each other on the chest.

This is where it got interesting, because from here on out I just winged everything, and let the game take on a life all it's own.  I've very big on inspiration, and flying by the seat of my pants, so this was awesome.  John in an out of character quip, said the following, "Ur-Masha! Ur-Masha! Ur-Masha!" in a way that mimicked The Brady Bunch.  I ruled that this was said in character, and the players got nervous... especially when they saw me smile like an evil GM.  > : )  This made me think of Beetlejuice (yeah, a little lame I know) and I had them roll to see if they could hear a sound.  They heard a popping noise coming from the room with the urn and the skeleton.

They left their safe house, and investigated the room with the urn once more.  The top of the urn had seemingly exploded, and ashes were swirling in the air.  Slowly the ashes were being attracted to the bones of the skeleton, and the ashes started forming muscle and tendons.  Mescillious was scared that some powerful Undead was forming right in front of his eyes, and tried to smash it with his warhammer, but the warhammer no matter how hard he tried, would hit the skeleton.  Brother Derris asked the group for patience, because he had a hunch that something miraculous was taking place. 

The skeleton was looking disgusting with bleeding muscle and tendons, and it began to move its arms and legs slowly.  It eventually sat up, and opened its eyes.  These eyes stared seemingly right into Brother Derris' soul.  With a deep voice, that sounded cracked and aged by time, the fleshy Undead creature began asking questions and discussing things with Brother Derris.

It informed them, that its name was Ur-Masha, and that Brother Derris had saved him from an excrutiating eternity in some hellish netherworld.  He explained that he was one of the last holy priests left back when the temple on the hill still promoted religion and housed priests.  He was betrayed by his brothers and sisters of the faith, and was dragged unnaturally by summoned demons into a pit of torture and madness.  When brother Derris had called his name three times, he heard the voice, and a way of escape was laid out before him.  He fled through time and space, and woke up here, where once his corpse was cursed.  He informed them that Lekorh, and ancient Undead Lich with powers of the demonic was the source of all the evil in the hill, and that the priests of his order had made a pact with it.

Ur-Masha was very disoriented, and not all of his skin was formed over his bleeding muscles and tendons.  He's a pretty fugly bastard if you want to know the truth...  While discussing things with Ur-Masha, he seemed to be getting pulled back to that hellish prison that he had just escaped.  He made them promise to destroy him on this plane, because he would rather be nothing than to endure such hell again.  In a moment of quick insight, Grunk told Brother Derris to cast Protection From Evil on Ur-Masha, and he did in a quick fashion.  Ur-Masha said he felt like the evil connections were severed by the spell, and that he felt much better, even though he said everywhere he looked, looked so much different than it once was.  He told them that a city once resided at the base of the hill, but there were no signs that anything like that ever existed.  It seems that city was made almost at the dawn of time, and that Ur-Masha is ancient indeed. 

Silverleaf, worried that when the spell's duration ended, that Ur-Masha would be dragged back to his hellish prison, so he wanted to try to take him to that illusionary room that felt like a pocket dimension.  Strange things started to happen when the Undead was in the room, and several of the PCs noticed that horrible clawed and twisted creatures seemed to be trying to invade from some other reality.  They escaped the room, and felt like the room was possibly closer to the plane where the demons resided, and hence they were able to invade easier.  The room was fine once Ur-Masha was no longer present in it. 

The group decided to head back to Nahm, and to take Ur-Masha in a round about way to the temple to have the priests there take a look at him, and to see if they could protect him from the demons or devils that wanted him still.  He isn't the kind of guy you want to parade around the peasants in the town...

On the way back home, a religious discussion sprouted up between Brother Derris and Ur-Masha about what gods each other served.  Ur-Masha did not know the gods of Brother Derris, but Grunk managed to interpret that the "Two Snake Gods" that Ur-Masha had mentioned worshiping sounded a lot like Mar and Umar (the creative and destructive forces of the modern day pantheon that didn't require worship).  Ur-Masha said that the gods that Derris worshiped sounded like minor helpers to the true gods, or perhaps the helpers were new gods, and the older ones had ceased to care.  This was all so worrisome to Ur-Masha, and the rest of the way to the town he spent in quite thinking.  

The duration of the Protection From Evil spell finally ran out, and the demons did not come to reclaim their prize torture victim.  Brother Derris clapped Grunk on the back, and the group continued heading to town, feeling like they had done a great cosmic good deed. 

It was a great time, and I think having more players really brought more fun into the game.  Thanks for playing everyone.  I look forward to playing in Feb. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Last Minute Prep, Props, & The Midnight Setting

This is going to be a quick post.  I believe I have all of my last minute prep work finished.  Most of my last minute prep work is making sure I actually have everything I need.  When you have to leave your house to run a game, it can REALLY SUCK if you forget something.  It's not like I can drive an hour home, and then drive an hour back... 

I also have several props that I want to include today.  I found this old photo album, that had this ornate textured cover, that was tied to the back cover with some old string.  The paper on the inside of it looked very old, and was turning yellow.  I removed the few pages that had the corner tabs that kept the old pictures in there, and the rest of it was just blank old paper.  It looks like an oversized spellbook.  :)  I'll probably roll the pages with the picture corner tabs up to make them look like scrolls.

Lastly, I have a place in my heart for the Midnight Setting by Fantasy Flight Games.  I'm a big Middle-Earth fan, and Midnight seems like a good alternative for me to play in a Tolkien-inspired setting, without tarnishing that intricate setting.  Midnight is like a Middle-Earth if Sauron won...  I might run a LL campaign of it someday. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Gaming Once A Month & December's Summary

So, Darves Hill is played during a four hour time slot, once a month.  For those that have never gamed once a month, it can be a bit different than getting together every week.  It is also held at a Gaming Club ( so there is normally a good pool of people to draw into games, if they find the game interesting of course.

Needless to say, with running once a month, it is going to take lots of time to get through the megadungeon.  They don't have to go through every room of course, and a good portion of the rooms are "empty" but it will still take a lot of grains of sand in the hour glass before they get to the end.  I'm not really sweating it though.  In the past I think I worried about WAY TOO MUCH when I was running the game.  Sure, I still have worries, concerns, and stress, but in this campaign I've had a lot less than normal.  There is just something simple, and yet awesome about having a big ass dungeon to go through, and a small town nearby to buy and sell in.  I'm really enjoying this campaign so far.

So, we've played twice so far, and tomorrow will be the third session.  They have investigated most of the surface buildings, and have started to peak down certain passageways that lead to the depths below.  what they are discovering is that the buildings on the lower portions of the hill, lead down to deeper levels of the dungeon.  When I made the map, I made the hill like a topographic map, with layers of graph paper that can peal back like an onion.  One of the characters was almost devoured by a slimy purple-green tubular creature, that resembled a hairy worm.  It's body's mass filled the entire tunnel that he worked his way down to.  I described the creature in such a way as to suggest that it, "had a lot of Hit Dice."  :)

They destroyed a many armed skeleton.  The adventurers had acquired a strange coin previously from a dead corpse that happened to be one of the PC's family members.  The coin had two snakes eating their tails.  Later this coin tingled with magical power when the above skeleton was slain.  Later they would find out more about the coin, that appears to be a kind of holy symbol as well.  It is rather enigmatic, even with what they do know about it.  It may be a holy symbol from an ancient cult.

They heard some strange clicking language, down one of the deep shafts leading down to the lower depths of the dungeon.  There were many voices, so they avoided finding out what uttered the strange language.

They wandered into a huge area filled with dark tall pylons.  They are made from a strange substance that has been seen several times on Darves Hill.  It is a dark hard stone, with white flecks in it.  It seems to have been formed with some strange technique, that didn't require tools.  A half-demon with sickeningly saggy skin was jumping from pylon to pylon, and with strategy and intelligence defeated the creature.  They pulled twenty arcanely incribed metal shards from under the skin of the creature.  The magic-user learned that if someone shoved these under their skin, they would become empowered by demonic energy.  No one raised their hands, and the Cleric wanted to have them destroyed, or taken to the Temple in the town of Nahm.

They solved a puzzle, where several of the pylons caught on fire, and then a woman's face was visible.  She seemed to be pleading with them.  Other pylons then seemed to have a tone to them, and they figured out the correct configuration to hit them.  Another grouping of pylons crackled with electrical power.  In the end, they discovered a long held cache of magical items.  For some reason, they felt like they also released some tortured spirits of a bygone era.

They freed an imprisoned Quasit Demon, and the the two PCs that let the creature out of the metal box under magical liquid, have now found that it... seems to have befriended them both.  Neither one of them was a magic-user, but it still seems to want to help them.  How long this continues is anyone's guess.  The Cleric was really sure what to think of the whole affair, but he is watching the creature carefully.  The Quasit was scared of the coin with the two snakes eating each other, but didn't seem to realize what the Cleric's holy symbol was.  It seemed odd.

I jotted down some magical items on 3x5 cards, and passed out the details to the players.  They found a cache of items that were apparently being tested to see what they do.  They know some of the properties of the items, but not all of them.  This gives me a little wiggle room to add on things later, if I see fit.  Yes, I gave them some magic items at 1st level, but there will be plenty of opportunity to use them in the near future...

Oh, that's right, they discovered a hidden mural, above the magical pool where they freed the Quasit Demon.  The mural was on the inside of an upside down pyramid, and the player was looking down from the roof onto the mural.  There were four frescoes on the triangle walls, and the snake holy symbol in the very top of the inverted pyramid.  There were scenes of slaves working tirelessly pulling massive stone blocks, what appeared to be some sort of Undead Lich on an intricate throne, Devils and Demons rejoicing in the flames, and finally some priestly types building what appeared to be the very large Temple on the top of Darves Hill.  There wasn't a story to go with these images, but they seemingly speak of many things in the past.  

It looks like we will get another player tomorrow, so our player ranks will swell to four!  I'd like to get up to six players so we can still play when a few people have to miss because of real life screwing things up.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the characters do tomorrow, and in which direction they venture forth.  

Samwise7RPG - My RPG YouTube Channel

I figured out how to put a Video Bar on the blog, and it seems they randomly chose 4 videos for it.  In case you want a direct link, I blabber about RPGs and do reviews here:

I've been blown away by the community that has sprung up there, of fellow RPG enthusiasts.  I feel like I've got to know lots of cool people, with different thoughts on our little hobby.  Not all of my videos are about old school RPGs, but there are several of them.

I hope to do a Lamentations of the Flame Princess review fairly shortly. 

The Talislanta Setting - Weird & Free

I never got a chance to wonder around in the strange place that is Talislanta, but I've always wanted to.  Awhile ago free PDFs of the Talislanta setting starting popping up on the Talislanta website.  I've given them some time to put more stuff up, and they have.  There are more PDFs, maps, and fan material for your free downloadable pleasure!

Even if you just download them now, and take your good old sweet time looking at them, I think it would be well worth the effort.  There are plenty of ideas here to include in any fantasy game, and if you do run a game in the Talislanta setting you have almost everything ever published at your fingertips. 

Even if you don't like the system, with some elbow grease it wouldn't be too hard to port it over to another system.  Enjoy.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

So, I've noticed that I like to bite off more than I can chew.  So I try to rethink any decision to jump into a new project, or game, or really anything that takes up my free time before I say yes.  Maybe some of you are like that as well. 

I've been posting fairly regularly on YouTube, and I didn't realize how awesome of a RPG community there is on there.  I feel like I've made some genuine friends on there, and we all comment on each others thoughts, and we've even sent gifts through the mail of some of our extra gaming books.  My main point, is that even though it is awesome, it has taken up a big chunk of my free time, and I didn't expect that.  So be careful of what you are getting into, before you say, "Yes."

Currently I am playing in: a Firefly/Serenity RPG on Monday nights, a H.A.R.P. play by post game on Real Roleplaying, a Vampire: the Requiem game also on Real Roleplaying, a Dragonlance Labyrinth Lord game at my GASP gaming club, and finally in a play by email Labyrinth Lord game that just started up using Domain Level house rules, that are similar to Birthright but more rules-lite.

In addition to playing those games, I am running a Conan Barbarians of Lemuria play by post game, that will probably wrap up in the next month or so because of lack of posting, and players dropping away.  I also run my Darves Hill Labyrinth Lord game at GASP, that is coming up this Saturday (so I need to do a little prep work for that). 

So, I do a good bit of gaming.  Plus, I try to comment on various gaming forums, I've tried to start drawing monsters again, and while doing all of the above, I'm trying to keep the Wife happy, and take care of an old house we bought last year.  I can get busy at times, and the free time I have left over from work seems to vanish quickly.

So, just be careful out there that you don't do too much, and that you can figure out how to keep up with everything, even if all of it is fun.  :)