Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Time Flies

In celebration of the first true anniversary for Sham's Grog & Blog a theme inspired new Monster is in order.

Time Flies(N): AC 2 Move 9 HD 1 Swarm of flies numbering in the hundreds. Cover an area up to 10' x 10' when feeding. Must target victim within swarm, their hits cause no damage but devour time, save vs spell or age rapidly at 3d6 years each round until flies dispatched. Most weapons are useless against them.

These deadly pests are best dispatched with fire, strong wind, smoke or other area of effect methods. Running away is a good idea unless the delvers have a solution at hand. Ever try to hit a fly with a mace? Think Three Stooges *bonk*.

So yeah, time really does fly.

Four years ago, or the last time the calendar told me it was February the 29th, it was Leap Year 2008. Without even realizing it was the day that only rolls around 25 times each century, I started plunking some keys and reminiscing about my early gaming days. The end result was four long rambling posts in a single day and the birth of Sham's Grog & Blog.

Posting activity peaked that year with a resurgence in early 2009. Since that time my contributions have been minimal with the last double digit post month occurring way back in August 2009.

No, this is not a fond farewell. I still lurk behind the scenes and follow numerous OSR related blogs. The blogger dashboard is one of the most common hits on my daily internet list. One of these days I will contribute again to the community. I still have a list of crap I wish to write about, including the still unfinished Cover to Cover series *cry*.

In retrospect, 347 (now 348) posts is a laughably low total over a four year span. With only 34 posts over the past two years, I can probably stop thinking of myself as a blogger. Considering the amount of fluff series posts I foisted on my readers I really haven't had a lot to say.

As usual I continue to do more planning than playing. I just don't plan out loud on my blog as I did for a short period of time. I plan way more than I actually produce, and I produce way more than I actually play. I do get to play D&D occasionally, but it's never often enough to get me back into feverish creation mode. Again, one of these days...


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Into the Hexes and Discoveries

When designing a campaign in which everything revolves around a single dominant theme, in this case the underworld of the Bleak Beyond, it is important to have motivations for the players and their characters to work outside of the central theme from time to time.

For a dungeon-centric campaign such as mine, this work outside of the theme would of course involve the wilderness around the Bleak Beyond. In OD&D the term “wilderness” refers to everything on the surface, so in this case it includes the starting town of Tenborough Hold as well as the whole of the Unbidden Lands in which the campaign is set.

While making notes for the Unbidden Lands, I wondered “Why would the players decide to explore the Wilderness?” Aside from being sent on a wild goose chase by an NPC, or to seek out a healing herb for their stricken party-mate or some other Ref-induced quest into the wilderness, was there a motivation for the party to set out, “into the hexes”, of their own accord?

For the Unbidden Lands, there is such motivation. The notion is that through exploration the characters have the opportunity to unlock game features by making Discoveries. Visiting the Town of Skinny Creek enables trade with the Hobbits there, and access to Hobbit Cuisine. Finding the Elves of the Worn-Wood enables trade and gives access to enchanted Elf Wine and other unique wares. Locating the Dwarven hold at Pinching Gorge likewise allows access to special works of craftsmanship.

Farther out in the Unbidden Lands, characters can discover more game material. Traveling to the Shrouded Mere will permit Aelfar as player characters. The same for unlocking playable character races with the Dvergar at Scrag Rock, the Doende at Lonely Crag, the Irklings at Itching Wood, and even the Troldekin, although the latter are only unlocked by entering the Supreme Citadel of the Morkevagten in the dungeon itself. Each area of discovery holds more game material, including access to such things as new spells and even more race specific resources for the adventurers.

In the end, the players have a chance to realize greater opportunities and resources by taking the initiative and going into the hexes. Ultimately such travels will pay-off for future plunges into the Bleak Beyond. Refs will likewise have the chance to flesh out the Unbidden Lands further, allowing groups who wish to feel the sun on their faces some time breathing fresh air for a change.

All of these Discoveries will be defined and described in greater detail as the whole project moves forward. For now I must continue to concentrate on the How to Play portion and finish up the various d00 tables which fuel the inner workings of the Bleak Beyond.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Experience by Plundering

In my most recent post I touched on a number of unusual methods in which the dungeon itself figures into the rules of advancement for my latest project, the Bleak Beyond. I received plenty of thoughts and feedback on the Accomplishments portion of that post, but I am wondering how readers feel about the fact that I am considering expunging the tried and true notion of Experience Points in favor of the proposed Experience by Plundering approach:

Experience by Plundering

Characters gain one experience level whenever they are a member of an expedition which makes off with a Treasure Trove, by successfully returning with it to town, providing the loot was plundered from a dungeon level which is of equal or greater value than the character's own current level.

For more specifics you can read the previous post below this one. There are, as mentioned within that post, other criteria which must be met in order to advance to level 12.

Thanks to the feedback from last week's post I will be redesigning some of the Accomplishments in order to right the wrongs indicated by reader -C and taking a less heavy handed technique in order to allow more freedom of choice by the players. In other words, more interaction with the dungeon itself and a little less with the dwellers within.

Thoughts, Ideas and Suggestions on Experience by Plundering?