Category Archives: Adventures in Gaming

Sometimes we get together and play an RPG.

A Simple Little Swords & Wizardry Character Sheet

I has the wild urge to make a very small character sheet for Swords & Wizardry. My main inspiration was the 0 level sheets from DCC. So roughly index card sized, four sheets per page, and as flexible as possible (Just put in whatever is right for the character under the “Notes” part). I also designed around may own personal tastes. I’m one of those weirdos who likes ascending AC so no little To-Hit Chart. May you find it useful.
Swords and WizardY Index Card Sheet

Savage Space Opera Meet The Band

Well that Savage Worlds Space Opera game got off the ground last week. (No pun intended.) Here’s what the players came up with: And sorry the silly GM left his notes laying about so I forgot most of the PC’s names.
Tyler Titanic AKA TyTi: That’s the ship. I went ahead and gave them light freighter that in no way has ever been used for smuggling.
The no nonsense bounty hunter and pilot with a few enemies and a few connections.
The beautiful Katana-Wielding Rebel (or Terrorist depending on your point of view) who likes to blow things up.
A deep space salvage expert who also happens to really good ar gunnery and probably not a pirate.
The ray gunslinging guy who sounds like Batman.
The crazy SPACE GOBLIN! engineer. And yes it is spelled SPACE GOBLIN!
And Nut who is not Groot.
The party got hired to find out why a supply ship has gone missing on its run to a remote gas mining outpost orbiting a gas giant. I hate doing whole sessions write ups but here’s the highlights of the session. As a GM I kit bashed a couple of Savage One Sheets for the adventure (Routine Extermination for FEAR Agent and Ghost in the Machine for Last Parsec) and I’ll try to keep this spoiler free.
The group miscalculated their hyperjump and ends up running out of food four days before they get to their destination. So yeah the party is in deep space and no food.
The stations is overrun with rogue killer robots and the crew (except for some blood and a finger that the SPACE GOBLIN! ate) were missing. They blast their way thru a bunch of bots with no problem until they get to the main processing chamber. There they find a huge bot, building more bots and doing something else but they just aren’t sure what. This fight is pretty bloody for the player characters with about half the party having at least one wound. The Rebel Bomb Maker (who is not a Terrorist) decides to throw a bomb this goes very badly and doesn’t even detonate and lands way off target (Read way too close to the PC’s). The bomb does go off when they finish off the big bot which explodes on it’s own thus causing the bomb to go off. This rips a huge hole in the floor and half the party gets banged up even more and starts falling down the umbilical used by the miners skim gas from the planet’s upper atmosphere. And that’s where we ended the session.

Savage Worlds Whiff and Ping Revisited

This post appeared years ago on the old blog. Most of the thoughts still apply and since I’m starting up a little Savage Worlds game, I thought it would be good to bring it back.
This time I want to rant a little about Whiff & Ping. For those not up on the local gamer jargon, Whiff & Ping is easy to explain. Whiff: I swing, I “miss”. Ping: I swing, I hit, it bounces off my opponents thick scaly hide. Pretty much not matter what your system of choice is you’ve felt at least a little bit of this. In D&D, in it’s many forms, you’ve got high AC’s, Spell Resistance, Energy Resistance, Damage Resistance, Evasion, the lucky Saving Throw and the list goes on. In GURPS, you’ve got your Active Defense, Damage Reduction and a host of resistance rolls. In World of Darkness, you’ve got a one die pool mechanic, sometimes known as the “Roll a Pile of Dice and Nothing Happens” System. The danger of Whiff & Ping exist in pretty much every game.
At first glance, it might appear that Savage Worlds combat can suffer from Whiff & Ping Syndrome and in a way it does. In Savage Worlds, you have two defensive stats, Parry and Toughness. Parry is basically your target number to hit. Toughness is basically the target number to damage. Simple. Right? Anyway, some Big Bads can get some pretty high numbers. So it can be pretty hard for your buff fighter with a d8 in Fighting and shells out 2d8 in damage can hit the dragon but he’s going to have a hard time hurting it.
But here’s the deal. A lot of games out there basically use attrition damage systems (At least, that’s what I’m calling it here.) Let me explain. Most damage systems rely on a slow whittling away of Hit Points, Life Points, Wound Levels or whatever. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this. In a way, it’s kind of neat. It builds tension in the fight scene whether the players realize it or not. They slowly see their life getting chipped away bit by bit. When they hit an opponent, even it’s for the tiniest amount of damage it’s a reward. It builds the excitement and the players gain some sense of accomplishment. Our gaming brains have been wired to look at combat and damage in this light. Savage Worlds is more about the constant danger that the rug will be yanked out from underneath you at any moment. A couple of good hits and the right dice mojo will end a fight.
The act of hitting and not damaging an opponent equates to failure in most gamer’s minds. And nobody likes to fail. Even if you land that solid blow, you still might not hurt the guy. I’m going to use an extreme and overly simplified example here. Let’s say that we have an encounter with your standard D&D adventuring party of four versus a big nasty red dragon with 100 HP. On average due to various conditions each of our heroes does 5 HP a round to the dragon. It would take about five rounds with a total of 20 attacks to finally take down the dragon. In Savage Worlds, a similar encounter would run pretty much the same way. Twenty or so attacks until someone finally rams a sword through the beast’s eye. There will probably be a couple of Shaken results and maybe a Wound. Now, I know some of the math fetishists out there will want me to run some sort of simulation and work out all the probabilities. That ain’t happenin’.
Now it’s time to talk about the Whiff factor. This one is really simple. If you’re having problems hitting an opponent, read the Combat Survival Guide. If you are still having problems, you need to figure out if your GM is cranking up things too high. Finally, gauge your character to your oppoents. You might think your character is a bad ass but according the GM’s encounters, you’re a mook. Just talk things out, folk.
Just like any other game, it’s real easy to outclass the player characters if GM’s aren’t careful. The key here is just like every other game is to know the player characters and their capabilities and then design encounters that will challenge them. There’s no real magic bullet to balance an encounter and it doesn’t matter what game system you are using.

DCC Aftermath

No, not the post apocalyptic game by FGU. I see how you could think that since Mutant Crawl Classics is just around the corner. Nope. This is a little rant about about the my recent running of DCC. Now most of the things I’m to talk about are going to be old hat to folks who have plenty of DCC play time under their belt. Hopefully, this might help someone new to the game to get the most fun out it. I’d also like to throw out a big thank you to all cool folks of the G+ Dungeon Crawl Classics Community. One way to judge a game is by the communities that form around it.
Let’s talk about the little things you should have. As the judge, you’ll need the rule book (of course duh). Just to keep you sanity go ahead and pick up the Reference Book over on Lulu. That thing is soo handy. Do you “need” the funky dice? Not really. You can use the normal polyhedrals or the Crawler’s Companion (more on that later). Plus a spare printer cartridge to print out character sheets, spell tables and whatever else you’ll think you will need. Other than that just use whatever normal mini’s, maps, and what have you that you would in any other game.
For players, the list is almost identical. However, if the players don’t want to invest in a rule book(even the PDf). They don’t want to get funky dice. Then encourage, bribe, and shake your finger at them like an angry nanny to get them to use the Crawler’s Companion. Hey if they’re going to look at their smart phones, at least let be something related to the game you are playing.
Now this is, what I think, is the most important thing. The mindset. As player be prepared to have characters die. Don’t fear it. Don’t whine. Embrace it. Your character will (probably) not be a perfect hero with wonderful stats. Your character will not be min-maxed to the perfect (insert whatever class here). And just because of all those things, still have a connection with the character.
As a judge, you should be used to player characters coming and basically flipping the table when it comes to your laid plans and plots. Guess what? In DCC, the game will do that too. Don’t avoid it. Jump right in and change the world and the plot as the dice may land. Adapt and be creative on the spot. I know that ain’t easy and chances are you just might make a silly on the spot decision. Don’t worry. Roll with it. Also don’t feel bad about killing characters. It happens. Also, try to beat into the player’s head that they can use Luck. Really, my players hung on to their Luck like it was gold. Heck, the dwarf died because he chose to take his chances with damage rather than burning some Luck. Really, a first level character’s chances of surviving a 100 foot fall are pretty damned slim. A few points of Luck would have totally avoided that.
Now, I said I’d talk more about Crawler’s Companion. And here’s that rant. Use every freaking tool you can from Purple Sorcerer Games. From the Companion. To the Zero Level Character generator. Have your players (or do it yourself) print out a Grimoire. You’ll be thankful. And as I said. Get the Reference Book and put some bookmarks in it for those special pages. Or even buy the PDF and the core book and print out those pages you need and create your own. There’s a lot charts and tables for DCC, keep the ones you need handy and keep the game moving.
To sum it up. Be prepared. And be prepared to improvise.
While our little group is going for a change of pace and doing a Savage Worlds Space Opera game. I’m already coming up with some ideas for that Mutant Crawl Classics game. So stay tuned for a few rants on both of those.

Time to Reboot and Move Ahead

Real life and work has kept me way too busy. Heck, I even missed Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day. I know I’ve ranted about this before. I sat down this morning and I thought I’d write a cool post or two. Well, the old brain decided not to cooperate so here I am talking about what’s on tap.
First and foremost, it’s time to get the creative juices flowing again. After such a long time grinding away at mundane life, it’s really difficult switching gears so it’s time to start over with some basics.
I’ve got lots of stuff floating around in my head and need to get those notes organized and put down in some sort of useful manner. Like I said before when I had plans many of those still hold true. I need to sit back and start throwing some of this stuff out there. More issues of Gazebo Gazette, more work on The Shattered World of Durth (a gonzo fantasy post apocalyptic setting), YARC (remember that Yet Another Retro-Clone) for some old school goodness, and of course want to go back to the ancient Sword and Sorcery World of Skarynth (another of my crazy creations). We’ll see how this goes and damn wish me luck folks.

Oh, We’ve got plans

I know I haven’t been blogging or even interacting much online as of late. Things have been crazy at the day job plus there’s a few curve balls that real life has thrown at my head. So let’s take what we can get. But there’s much gaming a foot. As I’ve ranted before I’m currently running some Dungeon Crawl Classics at the FLGS but I’ve got plans for those folks in the future.
Next up is the Savage Worlds Space Opera game. It’s doesn’t even have a name but I’ve already thrown some ideas up here and some more will coming in the near future.
After that it’s back to DCC sort of. The plan is as soon as get my hands and brain around Mutant Crawl Classics that will start up. I have not idea how long that will run but I want to be for a while and it should be pretty darned fun.
After that it’s to hit up a good old OSR style game and see where that idea takes me.
I’m still around just not online as much as I would like. Things should get better next month. He says hoping he doesn’t curse himself.

Welcome to the Great City of Garnax

I don’t always post session summaries but this one had some good moments worth sharing. This was a by-the-seat-of-my-pants session. There were a few ideas in my head but I wanted things just to happen and see where the dice and the characters end up. The most valuable tools for this session were (of course) Vornheim, the Drunken Debauchery Table from Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea , Rory’s Story Cubes, and my own warped imagination.
The player characters finally have made it to the Great City of Garnax. Here’s the highlights.
The city is named after the Great Wizard Garnax who hasn’t been seen in over a century. His tower still floats over the city. The Shadow District is the poor section town and is in the shadow of the tower. The wealthy used to live there until someone mentioned that bad things might happen if the tower’s magic goes crazy and the whole thing falls out of the sky.
They learn the best place to buy “interesting” items is the Night Market. It’s where the normal market square is just at night. The Night Market is run by woman named Lady Vasha.
The Thieves’ Guild has a strong presence in the city. It is ran by the Halflings. They don’t crap from anybody.
The fighter with demonic intelligent magic sword is visited by an artisan who was commissioned to make a custom scabbard. The scabbard is fine work of art inscribed with demonic runes that say, “I’m with stupid.” The fighter later goes on to anger the commander of the city guard.
The Thief (who for some reason) was in charge of the party loot looses a bunch of gold in a back alley cockfight.
The party rescues Lady Cleopatra of Thrawl who has the disturbing habit of collect finger nails and then carving miniature portraits of herself in them. The party deals with some thugs and is later rewarded by the Halflings for taken out unsanctioned persons.
The wizard finds a mysterious map and a bakery on the sight of the an old alchemy lab that had a “minor” alchemical accident. The bakery makes low grade bread for the local jail and asylum.
At the Night Marker things get interesting. The dwarf tries to buy and sell recipes at the potions shop without any luck. The party doesn’t buy any potions. They don’t even pick up any in the “Discount Grab Bag Bin”. The party finally is granted an audience with Lady Vasha. After some initial haggling and a little divination on the side. Lady Vasha offers to hire them to find the Keys to the Tower of Garnax. She explains that many a skilled adventurer (and thief) has attempted to enter the tower and have never returned. She knows of powerful wizards who have attempted to gain entry. They too have been fatally unsuccessful. Her research has lead to believe there are “keys” needed to enter the tower. She wants to the PC’s to get her those keys. She sends them off to a blind elf cartographer who makes magical maps via spirit writing for a map to the location of the keys.
She brokers a little side deal with the party’s wizard. She can get grid of that corruption. The wizard jumps at the chance. (Yes, I played fast and loose with rules as written but it was fun). The good news. The PC wizard learned two new spells. Patron Bond and Invoke Patron. That patron of course is Sezrekan. And the corruption. Oh that was replaced with Patron Taint.
And where are the Keys to the Tower of Garnax….