Morale Check

RPG Miscellany

Hermits hidden waterfall cave and environs

I wanted to practice and experiment with different crass hatching so I drew this in about 30 minutes in pencil and then inked it and and spent about another hour hatching and erasing and hatching and erasing until I got something that looked half decent.

My idea was to have different hatches for man-made areas as opposed to natural areas. I really like the hatch pattern for the man-made areas, I need to practice it more but I like the look. The natural cavern hatch though, that I am not sure about. I think it looks half decent, but does it look to busy? The best place to look is the bottom right corner as it has both hatches transitioning from one to the other.

Thoughts and feedback are appreciated.

PS. I really need to get more creative with these map names.

Map of Hermits Hidden Waterfall Cave and Environs

Woyra

This post describes the first of the deities I created that inhabit my campaign world. The format is inspired by the Valtor the Mighty PDF by Brave Halfling Publishing. Valtor is also a deity in my campaign but for the details on him you have to pick up the PDF which is well worth the $1.

Name: Woyra “she of the wild and wide open spaces”

Alignment: Neutral

Portfolio: Nature, balance, and bounty of the land

Symbol: Grey cloud and a lightning bolt atop a grassy field

Favored Weapon: Short bow

Typical worshippers: Farmers, Druids, woodsfolk, people of a carefree, wild, bent

Lost tower of the mad wizard Arghaham

This is an adventure (it’s not very long, probably 2 to 4 hours of play) I created for another game system (Hackmaster Basic) and have converted over to Labyrinth Lord.

The map is most definitely inspired by the work of Dyson Logos over at A character for every game. It is the first map I have ever really tried to “fancy up”. I am fairly happy with it. I think the hatching and little details on the side view came out well, although the hatching on the individual tower floors does not look right.

The intended number of players is 4-6 of levels 2-3, although I haven’t had a chance to run it to test it out yet.

Word version: Lost tower of the mad wizard Arghaham
PDF version: Lost Tower of the mad wizard Arghaham

Map for Lost Tower of the Mad Wizard Arghaham adventure

Combat sequence

* I continue to update this as I try different variations with my groups.

I use a combat sequence that differs slightly from the Labyrinth Lord one:

  1. Players declare any spellcasting.
  2. Initiative: 1d6 is rolled by each side; higher is better.
  3. The winner of initiative acts first. The Labyrinth Lord may check morale for monsters.
  4. Missile attacks occur.
  5. Spells are cast.
  6. Movement occurs.
  7. Melee combat occurs.
  8. Losing side performs steps 4 to 7.
  9. When every side has acted return to step 1.

Not a big difference but having missile attacks occur before spells provides a way for spell casters to have their spells interrupted.

Also, I prefer missile attacks and spells to occur before movement; it creates the opportunity for ranged weapon users to at least get one shot off before the fight comes to them.

Group 1 characters

These are the characters in my Group 1 campaign. Next session a replacement for Sneex will get created, I am hoping for a Halfling.

Sneex and Brann belong to one player, Madge and Lea another. As you can see Madge and Lea’s owner had some hot d6’s that night.

Name: Sneex (Dead)
Class: Thief, Alignment: Lawful
Strength: 12, Intelligence: 11, Wisdom: 6, Dexterity: 15, Constitution: 7, Charisma: 14
AC: 7, HP: 3

Name: Brann Bronzebeard
Class: Dwarf, Alignment: Lawful
Strength: 11, Intelligence: 11, Wisdom: 5, Dexterity: 9, Constitution: 10, Charisma: 13
AC: 7, HP: 8

Name: Madge
Class: Fighter, Alignment: Neutral
Strength: 15, Intelligence: 13, Wisdom: 14, Dexterity: 10, Constitution: 14, Charisma: 7
AC: 6, HP: 9

Name: Lea
Class: Elf, Alignment: Neutral
Strength: 16, Intelligence: 15, Wisdom: 13, Dexterity: 11, Constitution: 11, Charisma: 8
AC: 7, HP: 6

Den of the morlock shaman players map

This is the players map that resulted from Group 1’s first session. Pretty damned good for never having played a pen and paper RPG before I would say (for comparison purposes the original map is on page 130 of the Labyrinth Lord book).

I gave no help other than the standard verbal descriptions of room dimensions. I would repeat descriptions when asked but did not look at their map and say “yes that looks right” or “no that is incorrect”.

Players map of the Den of the Morlock Shaman

Group 1 session 1

Last night I began my new Labyrinth Lord campaign with Group 1 (consisting of my girlfriend and a friend of ours neither of who have really played a pen and paper RPG before). The session began with them creating two characters each; my girlfriend was rolling hot with the d6’s and ended up with very good attributes for both her characters, Madge, a Fighter, and Lea, an Elf, while the other player was rolling pretty poorly, his characters were Sneex, a Thief, and Brann Bronzebeard, a Dwarf, I’ll post their characters later.

My plan for the evening was to have them make characters, meet a few people in a town I had created, and then head off to adventure, they would be exploring the Den of the Morlock Shaman, the example adventure in the Labyrinth Lord book.

The party started off in the town of Parriksburg, having arrived a few days earlier in search of adventure. While in town they had heard two rumors:

  • some Morlocks hiding in an old Dwarven home to the south west had recently begun attacking outlying farms and stealing livestock. Two days ago the violence escalated and the Morlocks attacked and killed a farmer and his wife and made off with their two children.
  • recently a rich merchant and his caravan who had been travelling to Parriksburg were waylaid by bandits. Of the eight caravan guards only two survived the attack along with the severely injured merchant himself. The merchant is currently in the care of goodwife Jopa his chances for recovery did not look good, his wounds severe and some strange disease attacking his body from within.

Having decided to attempt to find the missing children the party is gathering supplies and preparing to depar when Sarjeant Emon Dorn, head of the town milita, approaches with two militia members in tow and asks the PC’s if they would object to Dathnel, a baby faced man in his early 20’s, and Ymta, a rough looking woman in her 30’s with short cropped brown hair, accompanying them on their mission. Happy to have local help and extra bodies the PC’s accept and the party sets out.

Six hours later they arrive at the entrance to the cave, Ymta is designated torch bearer so she lights a torch and the group enters. They immediately encounter a side alcove which Lea decides to investigate. As she begins searching a drip of green slime falls from the roof just before an entire Green Slime drops from above! Thankfully the slime misses and falls harmlessly to the floor where a number of sword blows (I missed it at the time but I really should have had the acidic slime damage the weapons that struck it) and an attack from Ymta with the torch put an end to the Slime.

As the party continued to investigate the cave, Lea and Brann, the two characters with infravision, scouted ahead while the rest of the party followed behind with the torch. Brann crept to the edge of a large cavern and spotted a group of 5 Morlocks in a circle arguing about something, engrossed in their discussion they did not hear him as he snuck away and called Lea to attempt to put them to sleep with her Sleep spell. Creeping to the edge of the cavern Lea let loose a mighty sleep spell and put the entire group of to sleep, following which she and Brann ran in and slew them as they slept.

Next the party came across a set of finely crafted stone double doors inscribed with Dwarf runes that read “Home of the Stonefist clan, Be Welcome”. From beneath the door the party could see light flickering inside. Sneex, being suspicious, searched the door and surrounding area for traps but found none so Madge slowly pulled open the heavy doors. Thirty feet away, seated with it’s back to them sat a large hunched furry white creature eating a goat. Surprising the beast, Lea drew her bow, fired and hit while Madge, Sneex, and Brann moved to attack the beast before it could turn on them. Dathnel and Ymta each moved to keep watch down the passageways leaving the room. The surprise round was brutal as Sneex landed a backstabbing blow from behind and Brann sliced the white ape on the arm. The following round was no better for the stunned ape as the party won initiative and cut it down before it even had a chance to attack or flee.

Unbeknownst to the party a group of 3 Morlock guards down the norther passage had overheard the fight and set up an ambush in a nearby room. Unfortunately for the Morlocks the party outsmarted them. Sneex, listening at the door, heard sounds that indicated creatures were inside. Using his Thiefly knowledge he was able to determine that the door was not locked and successfully used his Pick Locks skill to lock the door! Lea then jammed a copper coin into the key hole to make opening the door more difficult. The party briefly discussed pouring lamp oil under the door and setting it ablaze but decided against it.

Proceeding down the hall they discovered Jake and Anna, the missing children, locked in cells. While freeing the children Bran detected something odd with the stonework at the passageways end. With their combined skills Brann and Lea located and opened a secret door. Inside was a necklace on a pedestal and a small wooden chest. Sneex excercised his thiefing and searched the pedestal and chest for traps, finding none, he and the PC’s had Ymta carry the treasure chest, deciding to open it once they had escorted the children back to town.

At this point the party returned to town and left the children with an Aunt and Uncle in Parriksburg. Dathnel and Ymta left for their homes as the to recover the children had been completed. The PC’s decided to grab a meal and a room for the night in the inn and discuss what they wanted to do the next morning.

Waking the next morning they found Sarjeant Dorn in the common room where he thanked them for their service and provided them a reward of 50gp which they could keep provided they completely cleaned out the Morlocks from the cave, to which the PC’s agreed.

The next order of business was to open the small chest. They took it to a field behind the inn where Sneex, while failing to pick the lock, set off a poison needle trap. This was the first truly suspenseful moment of the night as it required a Save vs. Poison or die. Sneex made his save and was able to jerk his hand back out of the way before the needle could prick his thumb. Relieved, Madge began bashing in the chest while a crowd gathered to investigate the noise. Once broken, hundreds of silver coins spilled out as the crown oo’d and aw’d at the pile of treasure.

Deciding they needed somewhere to store their treasure they looked around town for a merchant that sold treasure chests. While they were unable to find a treasure chest to purchase they did come across a Gnome Jeweller by the name of Kerr Pang who also ran a money changing service. For a fee of 10% he agreed to change all their silver pieces to gold and to store their treasure for a number of days. Happy with this arrangement the PC’s set off back to the Morlock caves.

On arriving they fired up Lea’s lantern and gave it to Madge to carry. They decided to investigate a section of the cave they had bypassed before and they found it ended in a dead end. The dead end had some large rocks and stone debris in it as well as what looked like some recently disturbed earth. Lea entered to investigate, with Sneex behind her. As Lea approached the end of the dead end the roof collapsed bringing heavy rocks raining down! Lea, Sneex, and Brann were all in danger from the falling rocks, however Brann made his saving throw and was able to get his shield up over his head to protect himself while Lea and Sneex were not so fortunate and they each took 5 points of damage. As the falling stones came to a stop the PC’s were sad to see that Sneex lay dead under the rocks, his head crushed by a large stone. Lea, injured but alive, climbed from the rocks. The remaining party members took Sneexs money, said some words, and laid his bedroll over his fallen body. A debate about whether or not to continue occurred; in the end they decided that they wanted to keep the 50gp reward from the Sarjeant and thus must continue on to clear out all the Morlocks.

Returning to the set of double doors the PC’s are surprised to find the doors now closed. Marge again opens the doors and the party is not surprised when they find 4 Morlock guards arrayed in a line across the room; behind them stands the Morlock Shaman! Initiative is rolled and it comes up a tie, simultaneous actions! Lea begins casting a sleep spell while the Morlock Shaman begins casting Cause Fear, Brann draws his crossbow and fires at the Morlock Shaman and hits doing damage and causing her spell to be interrupted (a note here: I use a slightly modified combat sequence) while Madge draws her two handed sword and prepares to enter melee.  With the Shamans spell interrupted Lea’s Sleep spell is complete and once again all of the Morlocks fall to the floor in a magical slumber. The party moves in and puts an end to them.

A quick exploration of the remaining dungeon turns up the Morlock Shamans bedroom. The floor is covered by a huge cave bear rug which the party decides just might be valuable so they roll it up and carry it back to town.

This is where we ended for the night. Everyone had a good time, there was sadness over the loss of Sneex, but excitement over getting to create a new character to replace him.

All in all I have to say I was (1) very impressed with my players, and (2) very surprised by how easy this adventure seemed. Sleep is obviously very awesome and is the big factor in why there were so few deaths.

I do wish we had more players as I am not a huge fan of having people play more than one character, especially new players, because it does not let them connect with their characters.

Auhaits vision

Name: Ahuaits vision

Item: Necklace of Knowing

Description: From the gold chain of this necklace hangs a golden pyramid. Ivory in the shape of an eye is inlaid into the pyramid and set into the pupil of the eye is a disc of banded black and white onyx.

History: Worn by the priestesses of Ahuait, these necklaces granted them the ability to see in the hearts of men. Their uncanny ability to see the hidden truths made them a valuable resource . Often the priestesses were called upon to settle disputes and they were often called upon to settle grave matters when more mundane methods would not suffice. Ultimately this led to their downfall as they dared attempt to reveal the evil and corruption that his rule perpetrated on his subjects.

Special: This item grants Clairvoyance and Detect Lie (as an 8th level cleric caster) while it is worn and the wearer is on ground sacred to Ahuait. When on unhallowed ground the necklace allows the use of Clairvoyance and Detect Lie once each per day.

New campaign rules selection woes

I have a few new campaigns on the horizon; one for my girlfriend and a friend of hers who haven’t really played any type of table top RPG before (Group 1) , and the other for my gaming group that has played together off and on since high school (Group 2). I would like to choose a set of rules that I can use to make both groups happy but that is turning out to be more difficult than I had anticipated.

Group 1 is the easier of the two to please. They have no preconceived notions, no bad habits (although no good habits either), but really, as long as the game is simple enough for them to pick up over the course of a few hours things will run just fine and they will both be perfectly happy.

Group 2 is where my problem lies. We started gaming together playing 2e AD&D, from there we moved to 3rd, 3.5, and eventually 4th. We moved through the editions as they were released, always thinking that the new edition would just be a much (un)needed improvement over whatever edition we were currently playing. It wasn’t until we began playing 4th edition that my groups preferences split and trouble began. Of the six of us two now prefer 3.5, 2 have no preference, one prefers 4th, and one (me) prefers to revert back to an older, more “basic”, edition. Over the years and editions we have all developed some bad role playing habits; habits that I now want to break.

To break these habits I think going back to basics, games that use race as class and more GM rulings and interpretation than actual rules, is the way to go however I have to keep in mind that people won’t play if they aren’t having fun. I would like to believe that everyone would enjoy themselves using rules such as Labyrinth Lord, but, because of Labyrinth Lords use of race as class I am not 100% sure that is the case and I would rather not have change rules in the middle of a campaign.

One alternative that I have only recently become aware of is Swords & Wizardry, specifically the Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook. This is a 0e reinterpretation that does a lot of things that I like. It has separate races and classes to make my 3.5 and 4th preference players happy. Races are limited in class choices (for example dwarves can only be fighters or fighter-thieves) and the non-core classes have ability requirements, a big plus for me (one of the habits I think we need to break is that of creating characters instead of generating characters). I don’t find the Swords & Wizardry books layout as pleasing as Labyrinth Lords, and I think my newbies would find Labyrinth Lords writing more accessible.

Thankfully Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry are 99% compatible so my indecision on a game system hasn’t hampered my ability to prepare for the upcoming games. My Group 1 game starts this Saturday so my time to make up my mind is getting shorter.

Am I over thinking this? Does the system choice really matter to my players as much as (I think) it matters to me? Is my desire to return to the ultra simplicity of race as class to much of a knee jerk reaction to the over complication of 3.5 and 4th or is Swords & Wizardry a happy compromise?

What to do what to do, any thoughts are appreciated.

Eloras grace

Name: Eloras grace

Item: Brooch of Shielding

Description: Two small purple sapphires are set into the wings of this exquisitely crafted silver butterfly shaped brooch. Two antennae tipped with tiny reddish-brown stones extend from the butterflies head. The back face of the brooch is inscribed with magical writings (if deciphered they read: “Grace protect beauty”).

History: Crafted for the elven princess Elora before her visit to a human capital city in ages past. Sent as an emissary from her people her father feared for her safety and sought to protect her in every possible way.