Yes, I know I didn’t get any blog posts done last week and I was hardly around on social media. Things were busy but I wasn’t idle on the gaming front. I almost have Back Alleys done for Dark Streets and Darker Secrets, I did some more brainstorming on YARC, and the whole reason for this post more mulling on The Blight.
Right now, I mostly messing around with the gods and Gods of Castorhage and thinking of how to make the various game systems. So I figured what the heck, throw out to masses and see what happens. Of all the games I have at my disposal I’ve narrowed it down to these (in no particular order). 1. Swords & Wizardry: It’s easy to do NPC’s. It’s flexible. It’s readily available in PDF form and the players can buy the book if they want. And there’s already a ready made version of it by Frog God Games. 2. Fifth Edition: It’s the elephant in the room. The players are already familiar with it and they already have their own books. It’d be a little tougher to run improved NPC’s off the cuff. The PC’s do have a lot more umph than in the other systems so make it a little grittier will take some house ruling. 3. Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar: Why? Well, DCC is cool and I should have my physical copies from the Kickstarter soon. The players are already familiar with it. The Blight is a city-based campaign so in my mind’s eye, it would make a good fit using the DCC: Lankhmar rules. Yes, I know no clerics and I would have house rule the partrons. So more prep type work on the DM’s part. I’m also aware of how crazy the magic can get. The players are already familiar with DCC and some have the books already. 4. Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Well, you can go weird and gritty without thinking about LOTFP. The players should be able to pick it up quickly. The art-free version is still available. It won’t take much to convert the Swords & Wizardry version over to LOTFP. 5. Something else? Oh. There’s plenty of other games out there. But the above are really my main choices.
So here’s a poll. Leave a comment. Let me know what you think.
Last month Frog God Games ran a contest for fan reviews. I did a couple and did garner some Frog Bucks to spend. I’m still shopping. The Blight was on my list of things review and I just didn’t have the time fully delve into it. But as luck would have it, I just did have some time and dove right in and wish I had done so earlier. Now, if you’ve follow me around social media I’ve mentioned the idea of mixing The Midderlands, Tegel Manor (which I backed), and The Blight. That idea still stands. One more disclosure for this rant. This is based on the 5E version of The Blight and I’ll only be talking about the Campaign Guide. I had grabbed it and a bunch of other really cool stuff from a 5E Humble Bundle.
Let’s start of with a general overview. So what is The Blight. It’s grim/dark, horror, gritty urban campaign location, namely the City-State of Castorhage. It’s mean and cruel place and it’s big. The campaign guide places the population at about 3.8 million. That’s roughly the size of Los Angeles. Not only is the city big so is the book. It clocks in at 890 pages or so. No easy feat reading this thing in PDF form. Castorhage is physically and morally corrupt. Countless alchemical experiments and a lot of sewage have polluted the the main river. The royal family is decadent and insane. To add to this already warped setting, there’s the Between. A nightmarish dimension that can sometimes be accessed through mirrors or other reflective surfaces. And to keep with horror theme sometimes the Between just pops up in those places.
Let’s do a little run down of the book itself. Like I said, it’s huge. It starts off with the usual overview. This can be most easily summed up with the Seven Prayers of Castorhage and the Seven Unspoken Prayers of Castorhage. Basically, the rules and philosophy of the city. One for the low born and one for the powerful. For Example: Only the wise know how to use the dangerous curse of magic, and only a fool would tamper with it./M agic is power, and power in the wrong hands is folly. Only those of high caste know how to use it wisely; the lowborn who dabble with it must be taught a lesson and cleansed as an example to others.
Next up are people. Some of the more important NPC’s as well as options for player characters plus quirks, and new equipment. Then we have a GM’s section with advice and suggestions on how to run the Blight. And there’s even more material about places and people. One of the interesting things about Castorhage is that there gods and Gods. Let me explain. The gods aren’t really gods. They walk around and inhabit the city. They don’t have real religions but they do have cults. They way the are presented in the book I’d call them urban legends to place blame or find cause for any mysterious or horrible thing that might happen. For the 5E version, they really missed the boat on this one. I feel that the gods would make great warlock patrons but alas nothing was written up so GM’s would be on their own.
Then there’s a whole section on the Between. Like I mentioned a nightmare dimension that personally reminds me a bit of Lovecraft’s Dreamlands. But that just maybe me. I don’t want to say too much on this part since I feel it’s a good venue for GM’s to throw in some mystery and exploration in an otherwise urban based campaign. But it is detailed as basically it’s own world. Oh yeah and the Between can corrupt characters and so on. Nasty stuff.
Then come a huge bestiary. I’m seeing why this book is so long. All sorts of new and interesting monsters as well as some of the major NPC’s. Oddly enough, enterprising GM’s will find a few other player character options like the Undying. You’re only sort of undead.
Then there’s a very small section of inspirational random tables and then the books goes into another more detail breakdown of each of the districts of the city. There’s a ton of information and detail about these districts. It’s not as crazy as City-State of the Invincible Overlord but still there’s a lot. Almost too much for your average GM to digest and remember.
Finally, there’s an adventure path, The Levee. I don’t want to put any spoilers but looks pretty good and if you want a sneak peak of what it’s like then stop by and listen to Swords & Misery, an actual play podcast.
So what do I think? Overall, pretty god but it doesn’t mean there a few problems. First there’s a few editing errors that make the 5E conversion seem almost like an after thought. There’s a few places where the explanation of crunchy is worded more akin to the Pathfinder rules rather than 5E. Like I said before, there’s lots of information and I fell it wasn’t always presented in the most efficient fashion leading to page flipping and head scratching till find another bit of information to tie it all together. Also, some of the NPC’s have powers or abilities that are mentioned in the fluff text but not even mentioned in the stat blocks. For example, one powerful NPC “borrows” the skin of an underling when needed. Yeah. Nasty stuff. And I suppose I should mention that if you aren’t ready for a decadent, horror-filled setting then just walk away. Also, going through the setting if you are the type to doesn’t like the Cantina Scene type set up then you may just house rule the extra races and racial options out. However, I would say this, it all seems to fit without seeming forced or “let’s just make sure that any player can play whatever they want”. There may be prices and/or consequences based on the character’s race or class.
Do I still want to run it. Hell yeah. But I’ve got some thoughts on that. 5E: While the version I have of the Blight is for 5E. I just don’t feel the game as written doesn’t play well as for a horror/grim dark setting. There would have to be some house rules. Sure all the races are ready made but there’s nothing about Tieflings which fit well and would have their unique problems in the city IMHO. Swords & Wizardry/White Box/Old School Essentials/OSR: This could be done with little or no conversion and only some minor tweaking. I know there’s a Swords & Wizardry version available but it’s so easy to convert into Swords & Wizardry. There’d me minimal house rules plus there’s is much good old school stuff out there it would be easy to find other tools that would fit. Now, I can’t mention the old school games without thinking about Lamentations of the Flame Princess. The vibe fits almost perfectly but there’d still be some tweaking. The real gem in LOTFP is the spell list which could be easily substituted for the original or vanilla lists. Dungeon Crawl Classics: Lankhmar This already give a set up for running urban adventures with a more Sword and Sorcery flair. Conversion would be a little more difficult and then there’s the fact the magic can get really swingy. So that would be a consideration. Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells: It’s no secret that I love this game. It’s rules light and very easy to convert into. It would work great. If you want to add non-human races then that might take a little work. Zweihander: I admit that I haven’t played this yet but I do have the PDF. And it would work danged perfectly. It’s fits great with the tone and atmosphere of the setting. There are a couple of problems. First, it would be a pain in the butt to convert all the monsters and NPC’s. I’d also be faced with teaching the group a whole new game system.
I’ve rambled long enough on this. I haven’t brought it up the gaming group yet so we’ll see what they say. We’ll see what happens.
Lankhmar for Dungeon Crawl Classics will be hitting the shelves some time soonish. The PDF’s have gone out to Kickstarter backers (Yep, I’m one) and the physical copies should be in my grubby hands in a couple months or so. One of the new mechanics added was Fleeting Luck which has been around a while for public consumption and comment for a while. I’ve used in Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics and the players loved it. Then I got to thinking why not use it other games.
So here’s a real brief outline how Fleeting Luck works. The PC’s each get a Fleeting Luck Point at the beginning of the session. If player rolls a Natural 20 or does something cool then they get another point. If any of the players roll a Natural 1 then ALL of the players lose all of their Fleeting Luck.
Since other games don’t have a Luck Score like DCC, I looked around and thought what could I use? Oh yeah. Hello, Fifth Edition. Inspiration Points. So if you don’t Inspiration Points let the player roll two d20’s and take the better for checks. And there you go. Use Inspiration Points with the Fleeting Luck mechanic.
There is one change that I would make for Fifth Edition, I wouldn’t let characters use Fleeting Luck to heal. There’s plenty (almost too much) healing in 5E.
That’s right Episode 22 is Live! Go ahead and give it a listen on Anchor. Of course, you can also subscribe lots of places.
In this episode, I remember that I forgot about making names in World Building series, got some call in’s, and of course The Tale of the Goblin War Cow. This is what happens when you let a crazy grognard play a goblin in 5e and let him be the brains of the operation.
Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for listening. And roll dice. Kill monsters. Take their stuff. And have fun.
Here’s a pretty lengthy rant about how I’m going about making my D&D/OSR/whatever world.
And here’s the “working” map of Zoong including mistakes and other sloppiness. But it works for a DM’s notebook. Where are the Elves and Halflings from? Hasn’t came so haven’t worried about it yet.
And here’s the zoom in hex map from the 5E Campaign. You may recognize some thinly veiled hints about what modules I had on tap.
And you know the drill. Subscribe to the podcast. I don’t always post every I say over here and vice versa. And if you’ve already subscribed. Thanks.
OK, yeah. I was a little rough on Primeval Thule for 5e in the last podcast. But there’s some good things too. And being forever the tinkerer of rules, I’ve got a few ideas for what may in the future become my next 5e campaign.
Off that bat. Races. It’s still a big no on Elves, Dwavres and Halflings. Just humans. That’s enough to keep things interesting. Use the normal human character rules.
Classes. OK. They threw the kitchen sink in there. But to keep to the low magic and Sword & Sorcery vibe. Reduce classes to Fighter, Barbarian, Rogue and Warlock. That’s it. Drop an class specializations that cast spells like the Arcane Trickster and Eldritch Knight. And there some good class specializations in the book. For the Rogue, there’s the Poisoner and for Barbarian, the Slayer. For the Warlock broaden the spell list and include many of the spells from the Wizard and Sorcerer lists plus many of the spells from Primeval Thule. I’d probably limit the Patrons to Fiend, Great Old One (which is awesomely augmented in Primeval Thule) and Hexblade. No I haven’t done THE spell list yet. That’s for the hurried campaign prep stage of things. What about healing? Now, those short rests are much more important. And with standard 5E healing, you get all your HP back overnight. I know this ain’t grimdark gritty but without Mr. Cleric Healbot along for the ride, it’s one of those things I could live with. Additionally, there a couple of ways to get some healing in Thule without the cleric.
Background from the Players’ Handbook. Drop them. Because Primeval Thule did it better with “Character Narratives”. Just what are Character Narratives? Like Background, you get a couple of skills. But in Thule, you also get some neat special level-based abilities. For most of them, the abilities at 6th and 10th levels aren’t that great. So I’d probably drop those. But the first level one’s are pretty cool. You notice there aren’t Rangers mentioned as a class. No prob. Take Hunter. No cleric. There’s a healer that gets 3 HP/level of healing sort of like a Paladin’s lay on hands. I’d say my two favorites are the Soothsayer and Bearer of the Black Book. So for Soothsayer, you can tell a character fortune. The mechanics are simple Roll 2d20 and write those numbers. Those numbers can each be used once to replace the character’s roll or an opponet’s attack roll. Bearer of the Black Book. Cool. You have an Artifact. You gain a spell slot. And there’s good chance somebody is going to try to pry it out your cold dead fingers.
For Feats, there’s some good one’s in the book that keep the vibe going. Use those too.
So overall. Inspirational and useful. But like so many things, I’d house rule the heck out it. Sure there are more cool bits and pieces but those are the highlights.
Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun.