30 April 2022

Resources to run Spelljammer today

tl;dr: since it looks like we are keeping the same aesthetic, re-use our old Spelljammer stuff, what was old is new again!

If you want something to whet your appetite while waiting for August here are resources to get your space-swashbuckling campaign off the ground today. The quick hack for Spelljammer is 'do a ship-based campaign, but in space' - we can break this down into 'what are my tricks for doing ship based campaigns well' and 'how do I generate interesting 'space' themed stuff'

All logos from Wizards, used to illustrate relation

The simplest version is hand-wave the travel, describe how the party arrive at their destinations in Wildspace and then get straight to the space-themed encounter table.

If you want to do this, I compiled links to online encounter tables from original Spelljammer.

More advanced, to make it feel really different to, say, a planar campaign or space-travel with a teleporting mage needs us to to two things:
1. Get the ship right
2. Wrap the campaign around it

27 April 2022

Review: Burgs & Baliffs by Paolo Greco

tl:dr; a content-packed zine, lots of useful things in here with a nice urban theme.

Recommended on most lists of 'what to get for gaming off Lulu' Burgs & Bailiffs by Paolo Greco is a 'zine full of articles on the European Middle Ages written specifically for roleplaying game use. With articles on justice, tournament, warfare, cities, illness and medicine Burgs & Bailiffs will bring a more historical feeling to your game.

Burgs & Baliffs, POD from Lulu

First impression - at €4 the zine is a steal - shipping will kill you if you order them on their own but next time you go anywhere near Lulu, throw this in on top, you will not be disappointed.

25 April 2022

Shiny TTRPG links #65

Another great week of links from around the internet. More can be found on the previous list found here. The original inspiration for all of this - weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links. You can find even more links on the weekly blogroll on r/OSR or a roundup of non-blog news on Third Kingdom Games roundup.

A Culinary Journey from Ten-Towns to Calimport!

Knock Three Times on Weaver.skepti.ch

Combined Encounter Checks & Tables Using d% on Marcia’s Blog On a spacey theme given this weeks announcement of new Spelljammer:
130 Weird Treasures From Across The Spheres on The Cosmic Orrery
Baroque Science Fantasy God Generator (Part 1: Appearance) on Lizardman Diaries
d100 Events on a 5 Year Exploration Mission on Elfmaids & Octopi
Solar System Recap (So Far) on From the Sorcerer's Skull
Which could combine with "Space Angel" on Land of Nod

Ulflandia Campaign: Introduction and Overview by The Man With A Hammer - great to see NOD hex-crawls hit the table!

Harbinger Games returns with Common Elements of Epic Adventures

23 April 2022

Thoughts on new Spelljammer announcement

New Spelljammer has been announced and it also came with the release of "Monstrous Compendium Vol 1 Spelljammer Creatures" on D&D Beyond from which we can glean a little about what we are likely to get. First off there is mention of Wildspace and the Astral Sea so it looks like we are seeing a swap out of phlogiston between the crystal spheres for the Astral. Not too unhappy about that, not going to miss the phlogiston.

Looking back on 'things people say they loved about Spelljammer' from campaigns back in the day we can ask does it look like we will get these things from this new edition?

Positive things appearing in discussions:
1. Easy to integrate into settings
2. Cool ships
3. Weird Aliens
4. Vast and weird setting
5. Space-swashbuckling atmosphere

So as a first look, we can refer to the Wizkids ship scale minis as to what we might be getting. That they have all these ship scale figures for tactical combat strongly implies we'll get some ship combat system? Reskin of the systems from Ghosts of Saltmarsh? We can also get a good sense of the aesthetic we will be getting.

20 April 2022

Player choice of unusual races within D&D classes

Poking about for new datasets I found a favoured class/race pick set and saw a weird pattern. It looks like certain class/race combos are so favoured it resembles the old 'race as a class' set up.

When you do a heatmap of top 30 class race combos they mostly cluster in the 'big races' with a few outliers. These are some of the stereotypes you may have encountered - half-orc barbarian, dragonborn paladin, firbolg druid. Note the numbers are not important, the distribution of the colours - clustered at the top - is the message here.

18 April 2022

Shiny TTRPG links #64

New links from about the internet on this Easter holiday Monday. More can be found on the previous list found here. The original inspiration for all of this - weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links. You can find even more links on the weekly blogroll on r/OSR or a roundup of non-blog news on Third Kingdom Games roundup.

Awkward Turtle has created A Traveler's Guide to the Echelon Forest - "a system agnostic die drop forest crawl"

The Implied Setting of Original Dungeons & Dragons is Post Collapse on Grumpy Wizard

@goatmansgoblet tweets a Jousting subsystem idea

The Viridian Scroll writes ZineQuest 3: Roughly One Year Later

ZINE MONTH 2022 POST-MORTEM on Uncanny Spheres

Eldritch Fields gives us a retrospective: d10 popular posts on this blog...

Adapting Punnet Squares for Treasure on Mindstorm

d100 - Why is Garlic so Stinking Expensive? on d4 Caltrops - also helpful for generating miscellaneous local troubles.

d40 Fantasy Overland Region Generator (Travail Saga) on The Lizard Man Diaries

16 April 2022

d20 Treasures of the Ancient Giants

Awkward treasures, scaled to giants. The theme here is things so big, ostentatious and impractical they would impress even the titans of yore with the resources squandered in creating them.

1. A jewelled flowering hedge, life-sized, with blossoms of gem and leaves of jade. Waist high to a storm giant ~ 2m. 11850 gp
2. Amethyst wall panels, slabs mounted 2 meters off the ground running 4 meters up to the ceiling. Est. 25000 gp per panel removed intact.
3. A whole fossil sea scorpion, approx 1.5 meters long, with 2/3 of the shell in opal. 7000 gp, more to appropriate collector.
4. A mercury necklace studded with diamonds, mounted on a stand of eternal ice to keep it solid. 2500 gp for the necklage, 1500 gp for the stand.
5. A hair pin, that could serve as a short-sword for humans, with a pommel of a black pearl the size of a fist. 1250 gp.
6. A charm chain, with strange items threaded onto a braided rope of gold and silver. 5400 gp.
7. A cunning folding box and bag of stiff hide, containing some coins. Folds one way to be a box, folds another way to be a bag. Can be moved by a pack animal in bag form. 12500 gp.
8. Bejewelled head-band that could serve as a belt for a human. 700 gp.
9. The capstone of the window arch is a magnificent diamond the size of a shoebox cut to fill the room with rainbows when the sun shines. 1500 gp.
10. A carved model of a legendary building, perfect in detail within and without, with the stellar coordinates of where the building was etched in the base. 250 gp.
11. A shield, the size of a dining table, inlaid with precious metals tell the tales of its one time owner. 1250 gp.
12. A carved table for giants with golden feet. Each foot is carved like an eagles claw, approx half a meter in diameter. 250 gp per foot.
13. Firepans of precious stone, set in stands of iron, approx 3 meters tall. 750 gp each.
14. A decorative table that is a cube of solid silver, 4 meters per side. 440000 gp.
15. Giant sized precious metal utensils. These could be easily used as improvised weapons. 250 gp each, 12 place settings with 8 utensils each present.
16. Jigsaw of valuable woods, many now extinct or from off-plane. Each piece is edged with gold. It makes an image of a woodland picnic. 5000 gp.
17. Table with a map of the world set into the top, each nation made of precious stones from that land. These realms are all long gone now. 6250 gp
18. A drug bottle with a spoon sticking down from the cap. Two doses of giant-appropriate snuff still remain within. 350 gp for the bottle, contents priceless.
19. Perfectly sealed ancient liquor bottle. The contents are a legendary and lost-but-for-this brew. 7250 gp to right collector, 150 gp in any bar.
20. A cloak of gold and silver thread. Sized for a cloud giant, incredibly heavy. Suitable for enchanting, currently non-magical. 3350 gp

13 April 2022

Slushpile - Evernote spring cleaning edition

Inspired by these meltings of the slush glacier and other similar postings I present some backlog sweepings that perhaps someone may find gold in.

1. More lizardfolk culture - 100 words for heat; the stones conductive properties become emotions - the emotions become attitudes and outlooks
2. Magical back blast (grimdark, radiation equivalent)
3. Sigil character building though location generation
4. d6 pain crazed antagonists
5. The campaign implied from randomly selected house-rules
6. Visual iconography of alien animals, simplified for ritual codes
7. colony of versions who live together: clone, upload, simulacra, etc. are happy to spend their time together but separate (sitting around reading books, playing games, not-interacting in same room). Galaxy of selves. Echo chamber of not dealing with outsiders
8. Character travels galaxy with a pair of data cores worn as earrings or other piece jewelery. This is, as they are aware, "displaying the skulls of my enemies". They are pursued by others for those datacores seeking to ressurect the thing that was killed - a ship / world / whatever.
9. Extraterrestrial animal zodiac - symbols of certain aspects & attributes - introduce wierd, ancient, sometimes extinct animals to earth
10. Daniel Jackson esque Dwarven scholar to be escorted to treasure hall. Lifting the volcanic cores from outlying forge complexes. Volcano cores – superheat – unsafe to move except at certain facilities
11. Ruins visible from working city - light discipline to remain secret - tension point with natives when newcomer spoils it
12. The incrementing engine where a study or a code crack is being done by sheer brute force. A clearing in a jungle where pieces of a summoning grid are being moved around by zombies/drone tractors to gradually work through the possible permutations of the grid to figure out the correct arrangement
13. Transposed Earth finds itself with moons, Mars etc all covered with relics and ruins -  a flosting space hulk, etc - all signs of an ancient dino-type culture that thrived, then was wiped out.
14. Respect the Elders: old means badass; steady accrual of tricks, contacts, assets, wisdom. No such thing as incompetent old folk out here - infirm get shipped home, lazy retire home, idiots & the weak get dead
15. The Antiquarians: "It just takes one bad link to break the chain to eternity" - people who have signed up with aliens forcibly removing Earths heritage as we cannot guarantee to be good stewards 
16. "be scarier than the darkness, strap on fanged mask and jet bike and plunge into the alien swarm catacombs"
17. Aliens treating the swarm worlds where every things is available as living in a lost and found office or living in a supermarket. Tons and tons of things, more than they could ever possibly want and for the most part they ignore it because it is not useful to them day to day.
18. A dead galaxy is no use to anyone. This is why you need boots on the ground. You need true believers. People on the world have to accept that you are the victor, that your paradigm is the true paradigm. If you wipe out the planets and leave nothing between the stars except dust, then there is noone to believe and the dreamland is dead. There is no energy to draw on, there is nothing to do.
19. a place that has descended into a post apocalyptic anarchy where high technology is used without any comprehension. Initial encounter is the new arrivals watching someone using a magic sword or "soul sword" and in fact they are waving around a particulalry sharp chunk of computer memory and the soul encoded on that is the thing that is generating most the effects.
20. Appendix N comparison for different gaming communities - Ireland, Australia any different to whats in the US original?

11 April 2022

Shiny TTRPG links #63

Bringing back last weeks broken links and new ones to boot! More can be found on the previous list found here. The original inspiration for all of this - weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links. You can find even more links on the weekly blogroll on r/OSR or a roundup of non-blog news on Third Kingdom Games roundup.

Ghostfire Gaming on Running a Dark Fantasy Campaign – Defining the “Dark”

The Wandering Gamist finds the rich vein of Don't Split the Party and reacts with Market Availability and Diminishing Returns and Seasonal Overland Travel Times

Grumpy Wizard gives us Make EVERYTHING More Interesting?

Whose Measure God Could Not Take updates their OSE Hexcrawl Generator

Speculative evolution with the Hegemonic Cube & d8 Niche Owlbears on Leicester's Ramble

09 April 2022

Capsule Reviews #1

In an attempt to manage the torrent of stuff that I grab off the internet on a regular basis, I am going to to cut down reviews looking at just 3 aspects - interesting crunch (things I can easily use at my table), inspiring fluff (ideas sparked or used directly) and pleasure in reading the thing in the first place.

D&D Unleashed: The Elements & Beyond. At 247 pages of planar homebrew content this is a huge amount of stuff by Benevolent Evil - split into 3 sections and a half dozen appendices. By sections we have character options, new spells and a DM section with monsters, monster customisation and magic items for 5e. Chunks are big ~ 30 pages of races, ~40 pages of subclasses, ~40 pages spells which is a lot to digest. New races has some good inspiration baked into the origins and backgrounds. Spells and monsters include variants around similar themes - I find this better for monsters as I can be inspired by 'huh - imagine all this bunch together in an environment'. As per the name, lots of tuning things for different elemental themes - earth, air, fire, water then returning to the old para-elemental ideas of earth/fire for magma, water/air for ice and so on. Design is a good standard for homebrew, art is mostly credited at the back, a few 'unknowns.'
3/5 on inspiring fluff
4/5 on useable crunch
3/5 on joy to read

Enter The Forest Pamphlet - A pamphlet from Highland Paranormal Society by Josh Hittie this setting and encounter generator is an awesome shot of 'I need a forest fast' - lots of tables for locations, encounters, things found - but also questions to pose to frame 'why is any of this happening'. No system, just inspiration.
4/5 on inspiring fluff
0/5 on useable crunch
5/5 on joy to read

Giffyglyph's Darker Dungeons - 180 pages of content to create dangerous adventures for your D&D 5e games with new rules options by Giffyglyph. I was pleasantly surprised as I leafed through this catching myself muttering 'this is some pretty clever stuff actually'. There are some very good break downs and frameworks of how to set up adventures which I think could be very useful for beginners. The ways to slot lots of these together and scale things up to make arcs are good thoughts to consider even for veterans. Layout is very clean and clear, this is a giant toolkit of modular additions for your game, offering an enormous amount of possible tweaks.
4/5 on inspiring fluff
5/5 on useable crunch
3/5 on joy to read

06 April 2022

d6 elements of the old hoard

Suggestions to be found in the old hoard, inspired by recent personal adventures.

1.A few things the hoard owner themselves collected as precious, then surpassed - priceless antiques now but less than the treasures the owner was known for creating.
2.The hoard owners early works including many lateral things to what they are known for, some useful precursor materials. A lot is irrelevant, much of this is basic level but for those looking to unlock their later works, these are the rosetta stones.
3. A complete set of second tier treasures, good, unusual stuff, within the hoard owners expertise but not what they are known for. Valuable, prone to be doubted by those without deep expertise but even more precious to true experts who understand how rare these abandoned lines of work are.
4. Working copies of early works, damaged and worn due to hard use. May have interesting notes and marginalia from the hoard owner. Likely to be stained and stinking, some small chance they are impregnated with poisons or intoxicants.
5. The core collection - the really valuable stuff that was too heavy or awkward to move, that was left in secure storage for later recovery but, for whatever reason, was never taken. This is incredibly valuable, the signature stuff the hoard owner is known for, well-stored, well-defended and difficult to move without damaging.
6. Ancillary gifts - elements relevant to the core collection and contemporary to these works, these are gifts and trades from peers. These will have many famous names and be valuable in their own right but wildly heterogenous with the only common factor being the time they were in circulation.

04 April 2022

Shiny TTRPG links #62

Again a rich week but only a few given here as I travel. More can be found on the previous list found here. The original inspiration for all of this - weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links. You can find even more links on the weekly blogroll on r/OSR or a roundup of non-blog news on Third Kingdom Games roundup.

Update: THREE WORD SWORD Generator from Whose Measure God Could Not Take

World Building and Woolgathering writes The Rest of All Possible Worlds: Names, Planes and Alternate Realms.

Hexmapping in real life - a Hexagonal Map of London.

The Brave Art of Running Away on Semper Initiativus Unum.

Utopia of Rules - a review by weaver.skepti.ch

13 Superstitions for Sci-Fi Space-Farers
from Haruspex's Hovel

Parrot-Fiends of House Manati (and the Unceasingly Useful Dermestid Box) from Save vs. Worm

Leicester's Ramble writes mapping method in Exploring Marwater Cavern

02 April 2022

A planar compilation

Since we are about to receive a new planar nexus in June, this is a round-up of various variant takes on the planes I have found over time (plus resources for Planescape itself at the bottom).

A pair of magnificent planar cosmology variations for your sages to argue over - Hexian cosmologies by Bearded Devil and Planescape variations by Locheil.

Scrap Princess did an extended take on the planes in 'Planescrap' with a lot of great stuff in there including a generator for Sigil in "Planes scape some tables for Sigil (Scrawled over mix)".

This post on settings that deal with the underworld, Hell, or the afterlife to some degree by Ynas Midgard.

Mystara's Plane of Fire with Map on the Piazza.org.

u/Insanely_Lucid has worked up a fantastic map of the elemental plane of fire in Inkarnate