Dungeonslayers: In English and In Print

Oh yeah, the English version of 4th Edition Dungeonslayers is going to hit the virtual streets soon. Now don’t confuse with it the 4th Edition of that other popular game. (That’s just a joke. Don’t start sharpening your pitchforks.)
I have to admit that is is one of my favorite rules lite games and it should get a lot more notice than it does. Personally, it’s my go to game when a someone who is a complete newbie to gaming asks, “What’s a good game to start with?” Simple rules. Simple math and not a lot of heavy math. A butt load of support and free adventures. And the best is that the PDF is free.
But this is also about how they finally struck a deal to have a dead tree version released. I’m not sure how easily it will be to get your hands on it if you happen to live this pond. It’s good news all around.

A Quick & Dirty Method for Generating a Continent

Anything that can make your life as DM easier is good. Sometimes you need to pull a last minute thing out of your ass and this little idea popped into my head a few days. Maybe you need a map of lost continent or you just need a quick map for that campaign you promised to run and forgot that it starts tomorrow. And I’ll go ahead and admit that yeah Zak S’s work with drop charts is an inspiration. This little system doesn’t do everything for you. You’ll need to use a bit of your own creativity but it can give a springboard to start.
Step One: Take a blank piece of paper. Roll 5d12. Trace around the dice like you are connecting the dots. This is the coastline of your main land mass.
Step Two: Pick up your 5d12 and roll them again. This is for your major terrain types. The dice that have the highest number are mountains. The lowest; swamps and moors. The dice with numbers in between are filled out from lowest to highest numbers with deserts, plains, forests/jungles and hills. Just use your judgment and imagination. If any dice land off of your main land mass, these are islands with the appropriate terrain type.
Step Three: Re-roll those 5d12 again. These are cities. The dice with highest number(s) are the major metropolises, lowest ruins or legendary places. The numbers in between are other major cities. If any dice land off your major land mass, these are more islands off the coast. It’s just that they have a city or something on them. If any dice roll 1 or 12, re-roll them and the appropriate sized city/ruin. Repeat this last step if any of those dice roll a 1 or 12.
Step Four: Roll those 5d12 again. This is for conspicuous features. These are locations that are legendary or important. Something that should stand out on the map. What the die rolls determines what is there.
1-Natural Feature: lake, crater, Valley, volcano, odd mountain
2-Man Made Feature: mysterious structures or monuments, altars, deserted mines, burial mounds
3-Magical Places: haunted places, evil places, corrupted places, you get the idea.
4-11 Nothing
12-Roll all five dice again for more features

Crypts & Things Magicians: Twisted & Tweaked

I said I’m mess around with Magicians for Crypts & Things and here it is kids. Yeah, I fully admit that this one full of my own biases. First, I’ve got a soft spot for spontaneous casters from later editions. Go ahead and call me a Sorcerer fanboy. Second, I’m continuing on with the specializations because like I said before why should the fighter have all the fun. The Magician remains basically the same as HD, Saves and so forth. And as I have said before there’s nothing that says you can’t tweak this to what you are using for your own home game.

Spell Casting: Magicians do not have to memorize multiple castings of the same spell per day. They may memorize the number of spells indicated by the spells per day chart. He may cast a number of spells of the appropriate level per day as indicated on the same chart. (You just have to actually read the book to see the chart). The number of spells memorized and castable per day is the same number. For example, if a Magician can memorized two first level spells. He can memorized Magic Missile and Detect Magic. During the day, he may cast whichever he happens to need. Magic Missile twice or Detect Magic twice or each spell once.

Sense Magic: With an modified Saving Throw a Magician can sense the presence of magical energy. He knows nothing other than fact that there is magic afoot. NOTE: This works best if you alter the Detect Magic spell to”Analyze Magic” and the spell become whatever type of magic that is being analyzed (White, Gray or Black).

The Magician gains specializations at 4th, 8th and 12th.
Alchemist: The magician gains a recipe book for potions containing two first level recipes and one second level. These recipes should be similar to the spells available. Check with your GM for costs and brewing times.
Extra Knowledge: The Magician gains an additional spell in his spell book. He must be high enough level to able to cast the spell. He may take this Specialization more than once.
Extra Magic: The Magician may cast an additional spell per day. When selecting this specialization, he must select a spell level that he is capable of casting. He cannot change this once it is selected but he may select this specialization more than once.
Necromancer: If the Magician does not already have Animate Dead in his spell book, he gains that spell. He also gains the Charm Undead spell (which is identical to Charm Monster but only works on Undead). Unfortunately, his connection to the Undead is so strong that if attempts to cast White Magic, it effects him as if he cast Gray Magic.
Powerful Magic: The Magician’s spells are extremely powerful. Targets take a -1 penalty to Saving Throws. This Specialization may be taken more than once.
Summoner: The Magician gains a +1 bonus on summoning and controlling extraplanar creatures. A magician may take this Specialization more than once. NOTE: This Specialization is intended to be used with the Summon spell from Lamentations of the Flame Princess and not the normal Summon Monster spells. Don’t worry. kids. I’ll be posting a tweaked version of Summon later this week.

The OSR: Stagnation, Preservation or Evolution

Let’s start with the disclaimer that I know that I’m probably going to get some hate mail on this one. Such is life on the Internet.
With the recent announcement of DNDNext, I’ve been doing usual round of peeking on various forums, sites and blogs and as usual it’s pretty thought provoking. In case you’ve been living under rock, WOTC has offered the olive branch to the OSR with their announced design goals for the next iteration of D&D. Of course, even this hasn’t set well some folks.
There are some nay sayers who insist that the OSR is just stagnation of the hobby perpetuated by a bunch of nostalgic grognards. Yeah, OK. I admit that I’m grognard and I was pretty much a grognard before it was “cool”. I do hang my head in shame that I wasn’t wearing my gognard tag with a sense of pride. But the accusations of stagnation are just plain silly. For those who prefer the retro-clones that most closely emulate the original editions or still have copies of the original editions, they aren’t stagnating. If anything they are preserving the legacy of games of yor. Really, would want to live in a world where no one has heard of “Save or Die”.
It may sound silly to preserve a set of rules or a play style but really. The whole damned hobby was built because of the success of the original editions. You may not like the game but every gamer owes at least a nod of gratitude to that little white box. Hell, it should be rite of passage to play through one of the original adventures with the original rules, just for the experience. Now, I know that there many crazy rules in the old games. I’ll admit that. But on the flip side, just because a game is new doesn’t mean that it is good.
Over the decades, the hobby and the games have changed drastically. As far as OSR games go, I consider myself and evolutionist. There’s nothing wrong with games based around the theory of “What would Gary do?’. It doesn’t mean they are accurate. It doesn’t mean that they are right but dang it they are trying. For me, I have no qualms about pulling a rule or a concept from a modern game then tweaking it into an OSR game. If it works and keeps with the rulings-not-rules philosophy then it’s a good enough for me.
So there it is. The OSR is not about stagnation. It’s about preserving what has come to past and building on it for the future.

Classic Monsters for Castles & Crusades

So if you were a Kickstart backer then you should have your PDF by now. But for those of you didn’t, well, you’ll just have to buy it in a bit. The guys over at Troll Lord Games have put together a pretty darned selection of classic monsters.
So how many tomes of monsters do we really need? I’m of the opinion that you never have enough good ones and think this is pretty good one. All these beasts have already appeared somewhere before, hence CLASSIC monsters (Yes, even the mighty Flumph.) Plus you can never have too many versions of the Tarrasque just to keep the players honest. But what I do like is the slightly different twists to put monsters into the C&C framework. This isn’t a bad thing because it’s still pretty easy to translate stuff into your retro-clone of choice.
Like most monster books, each entry has its own bit of fluff text. Just that slightly different bit of perspective on creature is enough to give the inspiration to do some tweaking and then viola something the players won’t be expecting. Speaking of things players won’t expect the book has plenty of obscure creatures to challenge the players. There’s a good representation of monsters across levels and types. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a good outsider, evil fey, undead, abominations, elementals or whatever. Hell, there’s a great collection of lycanthropes to chose from (Were-Shark anybody?) There’s a damned good chance that there’s something that you use.
The only negative thing I have to say is that I wish there a few pieces of art here and there. Because my aged grognard brain may not always remember what a creature looks like (for example the Meazel) but that’s no biggie.
Overall, I’m really happy that I picked this up. Even more twists on familiar monsters are just a good spring board to create your own creature creations and besides not everybody has their old Fiend Folio laying around.

Zombie Grubs Just Want To Eat Your Brain

Yes, I know I promised more Crypts & Things goodness this week but real life just came along and crushed all my well laid plans. So as a consolation prize, I present you ZOMBIE GRUBS!
Through ancient and profane rituals, powerful necromancers are able to transform disgusting rot grubs into an even more vile creature with a variety of evil uses.
At first glance zombie grubs appear to just normal rot grubs until it is too late. Once a zombie grub hits with an attack it begins burrowing towards the victims brain and will reach it in 1d4 rounds. The grub then begins devouring the victim’s brain doing 1d4 Intelligence and Wisdom damage each round. Characters may attempt to kill the grubs before they reach the brain using fire which will damage the victim as well or amputation. Casting Cure Disease will kill rot grubs but not zombie grubs. A simple Bless spell will kill the zombie grubs. If a cleric successfully turns undead, the zombie grubs will forcibly leave the victim’s body doing 1d6 damage. And if this should happen in the middle of combat, oh well.
HD 1d4
AC 9[10]
Atk 1 burrow
Move 1
Save 17
Special: Burrows to brain.

Crypts & Things: Some Actual Play

As luck would have it our DM for the Friday nigh game was taken ill so I threw out the idea for a Crypts & Things one shot and the group agreed. I quickly rolled up 8 third level pre-generated characters (two of each class) on Thursday night and was off.
We played it mostly by the rules as written but I did throw in a couple of my own crazy ideas. For rolling up the characters, I used the 6+d6+d6 Method. Basically, all scores start off at 6. Roll 6d6 and arrange to your liking. Then 1d6 for each stat in order. It pushed the probability towards making of a decent character of a particular class without diverging too much from the good old roll 3d6 and quit crying. Overall, I think the players really enjoyed the game. It was a fresh break from Pathfinder. And everyone picked up the rules quickly. We did make a couple observations during the game. The fighter actually seemed like the weakest class. He’s got a bad save and that made it difficult for him to do anything. Additionally, he wasn’t that much better at fighting than the Barbarian or Thief. It turned out that the Thief armed with a bow turned out to be the best damage dealer in the party. The group liked the damage system especially getting all their HP back after 8 hours of rest. Magic was useful and the magician started down that slippery slope to insanity after failing four saves during the session. Another interesting thing is that this is the first time in many years we ran a combat heavy session without using miniatures. And did I mention fast. Yeah, the combat was really quick compared to the endless cross referencing that we were used to. Personally, my biggest surprise was the amount of enjoyment, the players got out of the life events chart. (Hmm, maybe I should write up some longer ones.)
So yes. I definitely want run this again but with more preparation and few tweaks (more about those in later posts).
Here’s some random and crazy notes about what happened during the session.
I decided to go quickly tweak introductory adventure in the back of the book and throw in a couple more encounters to make things interesting. To give the players some ownership of the pregens, each of them rolled four times on the life events chart. After the dust settled this is how the characters knew each other.
The sorceress and the fighter were brother and sister (and not having an incestuous relationship) were in service to their father (who was not an evil sorcerer). Their father orders them to retrieve the lost spell book of Nizar-Thun for his collection or he’ll start charging his lazy kids rent. To help them in their quest Here’s a Thief and a Barbarian. And another Barbarian, Thudthack, who needs to go because Dad’s pet demon grew bored of him and he’s got to go. A little quick haggling with Igor the Castle Quartermaster for supplies and the little group was off.
Random Encounter the First: Group of three bounty hunters who stumble across party. They weren’t very bright. The bounty hunters were on the trail of this evil sorcerer and his crazy family who live somewhere in this area. The party convinces the bounty that they know nothing of evil sorcerers and that they should at that castle about a days walk back in that direction. Yes, they sent them back to dear old dad “who isn’t evil, just misunderstood”.
Random Encounter the Second: Moth Worms attack. A good fight but nothing special.
Enter the Town of Nor-Haven: A small little village at the edge of the swamp. The party starts complaining about the lack of Mouth Worm warning signs. One of the yokels explains to him that he is the local sign maker and there signs all over the place. The party quickly realizes that not only can was this guy illiterate, he might have still been the smartest guy in the village. The party spends an eventful evening and then overpays form some crappy canoes the next morning.
Serpent Men Ambush: The party gets ambushed. Poor Thudthack will forever be known as the barbarian who could stand up in waist high water and got sliced and diced by a pair of serpent men.
The actual dungeon: I won’t go into because it’d be spoiler filled. But I think the highlight was at the very end when party goes to cross a bottomless pit using some rope and really didn’t pause to think about that a demon that still on the loose until said demon showed up and started cutting the rope.

Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun!

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