Friday, 27 November 2020

How to Read Your Character Sheet

I created a simple pdf for an event I am running on December 4th. It is intended to make a Purple Sorcerer Index-Card style 0-level character sheet comprehensible to someone who has never played DCC...or even a role-playing game...before.

Then I thought, "Hey! Someone else might be able to use this!"

So I put it here


Saturday, 21 November 2020

DCC Choker, Darkmantle, and Roper

From a request on Reddit.


Choker: Init +4; Atk tentacle +6 melee (1d3+3); AC 17; HD 3d8; MV 20’ or climb 10'; Act 2d20; SP infravision 60', reach, hiding, throttle; SV Fort +2,Ref +5, Will +4; AL C.

This halfling-sized creature can reach creatures up to 10' away with their elastic tentacles. They tend to attack from hiding, often clinging to ceilings, gaining a +6 bonus to any stealth-based check. They are enormously strong (+3 bonus to opposed Strength checks), and can throttle creatures once they are successfully hit. Throttled creatures cannot speak, and take automatic damage each round unless they succeed in an opposed Strength check to get free.


Darkmantle: Init +2; Atk grab +3 melee (0); AC 15; HD 2d8+2; MV 20’ or fly 30'; Act 1d20; SP infravision 30', camoflage, cling, automatic bite (1d4+1); SV Fort +5,Ref +3, Will +0; AL N.

These creatures camouflage themselves among stalactites, gaining a +10 bonus to hide. Their initial attack is to cling to their victim's head, automatically blinding them. The tentacles of the darkmantle wrap around their victim, requiring a DC 20 Strength check to remove. Worse, the victim takes 1/2 damage from any successful attack targeting the darkmantle. While clinging to a victim, the darkmantle can automatically bite with its parrot-like beak for 1d4+1 damage each round (no attack roll is necessary).


Roper: Init +2; Atk tentacle +8 melee (2d6) or bite +10 melee (3d10); AC 20; HD 5d10+10; MV 10’; Act 6d20; SP infravision 120', reach, surprise, constrict, draw; SV Fort +10,Ref +3, Will +14; AL C.

These creatures can reach up to 50' away with their tentacles, surprising foes fully 50% of the time due to their stalagmite-like appearance (before they move). A creature so struck is held by the creature, who can use an Action Die to automatically cause constriction damage (2d6) or draw the victim 1d3 x 10' closer (opposed Strength check vs.+4 negates). The creature can only bite victims drawn adjacent to it. 

10% of ropers have a special ability. Roll 1d7: 

1. Stony Carapace: +4 bonus to AC.

2. Spellcasting: The roper has the spell abilities equal to a level 1d3 wizard.

3. Extendable Mouth: The roper can bite victims up to 10' away. If this is rolled again, the range is extended by +5'.

4. Better Camouflage: The roper has a +10% chance to surprise.

5. Stronger: The roper gains a +1d5 bonus to opposed Strength checks. Each of its attacks has its damage increased by the same amount.

6. Increased Hit Dice: The roper gains +1d3 Hit Dice. For every full 3 HD, it gains a +1 bonus to all attack rolls, a +1 bonus to Fort saves, a +2 bonus to Will saves, and a -2 penalty to Ref saves.

7. Roll twice and keep both results. This result can occur any number of times.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Animal Summoning and Monster Summoning

Okay, the first thing to notice about Animal Summoning and Monster Summoning is that the PC must have a bit of the creature to be summoned. What does that mean in practical terms? If the judge doesn't have stats, the creature cannot be summoned.

Having stats means that the judge knows what the HD type is. The player may not know how many HD a creature encountered is, and thus might either waste a casting or receive a weaker version of a creature, as the judge decides. I would, personally, go with a weaker version. Weaker versions might use a smaller Hit Die, have fewer attacks, have a smaller attack bonus, use a smaller die for damage, etc. They may, or may not, have the special abilities of the base creature.

(Example: Having shaved off the toenail of an elephant, our caster gains a 1 HD version of the same. This might be an elephant calf without tusks or the ability to trample that an adult has - or, if the judge is kind, it might be a "glass canon" adult with 5 hp!)

(Note that this can go the other way - a 5 HD chicken might be large enough to ride, with a devastating peck attack!)

When the player starts collecting animal/monster parts for these spells, the wise judge starts collecting these stats into a printable document to have at hand when the spells are cast.

As a player, be prepared to roll with what the judge tells you was summoned. Magic is unknowable, and there may be factors at play that you are not aware of. This is explicit in the judge's advice in the core rules - the judge is encouraged to have locations that skew the results of some or all spells.

As a judge, be prepared to expand on what the caster rolls. DCC monster stats are not difficult to modify - here is a post on understanding the stat block - and getting a giant chicken, a dog storm, or dozens of tiny hippos are all results that can be memorable in play. The goal is not to "gimp" the spell result, but to make the spell result fun for all involved, even when it fails. Maybe we see a spectral rhino that never quite manifests, or what looks like an inside-out lion appears like a transporter accident in Star Trek. You don't have to do that all the time, but once in a while is fun.

Best of luck!

Another cross-post from Reddit.

Making the World Dangerous and Mysterious

There are two parts to this - dangerous and mysterious.

Dangerous includes running into monsters - but it should also include running into people, dealing with the weather, natural hazards, and things like that. If you read any of the foundational literature from Appendix N, consider taking notes about things that happen when the characters travel. You can recast these as you need.

Mysterious includes special locations, such as standing stones that indicate a nexus of ley lines boosting certain types of magic, cavernous pits or chasms that lead who-knows-where, and lonely ruined castles on hilltops like rotting teeth. Basically, consider a lot of things that might be good or bad, and sprinkle them around. Each of these might lead into an adventure. Or they might be places the PCs return to at some point - the standing stones, for instance, when they want to cast some particular spell.

Both dangers and mysteries provide opportunities to create context for your players' decisions. If they are confronted by patrolling henchmen of the Evil Baron, that is both a danger, and something that allows them to learn about the Evil Baron. If they discover a waterfall into a vast chasm, which they have no reasonable means to descend, they might be able to link that to a river flowing out of a cavern later in their travels.

Remember, too, that an encounter need not mean combat. A cyclops might be waiting at a crossroads because it foresaw the party's arrival in a vision. It might offer to restore one of more PCs' lost Stamina once the recover some item it prizes from a nearby adventure location the cyclops is to large to fit into. Or, perhaps, the cyclops merely says "The Fates have decreed that you shall succeed in this endeavor, or no one."

And it doesn't mean they have to fight the cyclops if they say No. Who knows? Maybe the Fates decreed that they would succeed a year from now? Or ten years?

Also, there are other people in the world. Everyone the PCs meet knows stories of forest demons and hidden valleys where a fortune in jewels are to be had for the taking. Or stories of Elfland, both wondrous and grim. Some of these stories are true. Some have been distorted through long telling. Some are false. And some, whether or not the teller knows it, merely lead the gullible into a monster's gullet.

Give the players things to think about. Imply dangers that are not necessarily met...this time, at least. Let the occasional danger manifest. Suddenly, the world is both as dangerous and as mysterious as you could want!

Cross-posted from reddit.

Monday, 19 October 2020

Looking Back at the Bride of Cyclops Con

After being a little slow on my AlbaCon write-ups, let me see if I can be less tardy with Bride of Cyclops Con. As with the previous convention, playing at home meant balancing the needs of my family with time to game, so I only ran 3 games on the weekend. If you compare that with my average of 6 games at Gary Con, you will see that I actually do try to achieve some sort of equilibrium. 

I cannot overstate how much I appreciate the opportunity to do these things. Not only do I appreciate the players and the organizers, but I appreciate my family for letting me take over the kitchen table for so much of the weekend!

It was wonderful to not only game, but to talk to so many other people in this pandemic year. I go to work, and I have to be physically present in my job. Compared to others, I have had it fairly easy. Nonetheless, 2020 has been a steady drain on energy, mood, and creativity - and everyone waiting for FT 3 knows that my creativity has been depressed for a few years now.

Spoilers follow.

The Tribe of Ogg and the Gift of Suss

Saturday morning started with a delve into prehistory, very much inspired by Manly Wade Wellman's Hok the Mighty and Edgar Rice Burroughs' stories of Pellucidar. The PCs were cavefolk of the Tribe of Ogg, who venture into the Dread Forest in search of what Suss, the Sun God, threw to the earth.

This funnel has some potentially deadly encounters, including an early encounter with 6 hyenadons. The PCs decided to camp out without a guard, leading to a nighttime surprise that, due mostly to poor rolls on my part, ended in a near-complete victory for the Stone Age humans!

They encountered the Father of Pigs, but missed the space princess and the Gnarl-Gnarl cookout. That last was probably a good thing. Still, they had enough encounters - and rolled well enough - that a majority of the PCs survived to reach level 1 within the Gift of Suss.

Despite a high survival rate (which would turn out to be par for the course this convention) the players had fun exploring the Solar Bequest, and as the ship began to go through its dimensional shifts, an actual encounter with Cthulhu was a definite high point. You would think the monstrous nature of that encounter would have blasted at least a few minds, but where I roll low, they rolled high.

As the dimensional shifts increased (with automatic damage accruing with each shift) you would think that the ranks would thin. Nope. And, while they did go to the same world twice, they didn't go to the same world a third time (and thus cause a massive explosion, which would have killed them all). 

The Tribe of Ogg and the Gift of Suss can be picked up for free on the Mystic Bull website, here. The authorized sequel, by none other than Bob Brinkman, appeared in a free Sanctum Secorum Episode Companion

Many thanks to Bjorn Nelson, Matt Thompson, Jack Derricourt, Jason Menard, and Jesse Withrow for making running the game a blast! You may have survived more than you should have, but it was entertaining to see how it all played out! This game ran a little over, and I am thankful that all of you were willing to stay to the end!

Danger in the Deep!

When I set up this adventure, I decided to give every player a backup PC because I expected several deaths. There was not a one...but not for lack of trying!

This scenario includes some really serious hazards related to three-dimensional spaces and running water. Even entering the caves can be hazardous unless you have more than 100' of rope. Our party used 150', and still had rope enough left to meet some of the other dangers to come.

The party's greatest peril occurred when they met the Spinwoman, who nearly slew the group's halfling. A lucky crit with a crossbow brought her down...but by that point it also meant 4d6 damage for the halfling and 3d6 for two other party members as they were no longer being pulled aloft. Thankfully, the party included a cleric.

Part of the fun of role-playing games is the role-playing, and the snailtaur potion masters were a big hit. Charm person proved a powerful tool, due to good rolls, dealing with two major encounters. The second usage - against a gigantic spellcasting slug - triggered a spell duel, but I rolled so poorly with my counter that the players barely noticed.

There are a lot of ways to die in this adventure. Several are natural hazards. You can end up in a swiftly flowing cavern stream and sailing off down a waterfall, for instance. The biggest treasure - which the PCs never encountered, requires swimming or cleverness to get it. There are plenty of chances to die in combat or to fall to your doom. The players avoided making any decision that would lower the boom - or rolled well enough to avoid the consequences when they did - that they all survived.

The paranoia, though, was palpable. This is DCC, and you are careful what you touch! 

Many thanks to Gray Freeman, Wes Baker, Michael McMurray, Cristopher Messemore, and Ryan Bishop (no relation). 

The Weird Worm-Ways of Saturn

On Sunday, I ran The Weird Worm-Ways of Saturn and The Vault of Ash back to back. This is actually both parts of a two-part adventure, which I ran as a single event. It was 5th level, so rather than go the route of the awesome Purple Sorcerer generators, I decided to allow the players to choose from among 10 fictional characters I had given DCC stats.

The party consisted of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield, Conan the Cimmerian, Captain Jack Sparrow, and Severus Snape. We were expecting Tarzan of the Apes as well, but he was called to the lost city of Opar at the last minute. If you are curious about these characters or the others which were on offer, you can find them here. I claim no rights to the art or the characters; this is strictly personal use! The players did not get to see the write-ups before choosing.

I allotted six hours for the game. We ended up using just over 5 hours. With Captain Jack's compass, a willingness to risk the spires, and a dearth of random encounters, the PCs did very little actual exploration of Saturn. In truth, I sped up the magnetic flux a bit from how it is written, giving Bilbo the chance to encounter the ceiling when his mithral shirt was repulsed, and then encounter the floor a few rounds later. Bilbo broke both an arm and a leg.

The Vault of Zin is designed to eliminate PCs unlikely to restore the fallen sorcerer. There are rooms designed to specifically kill wizards and clerics, but the party contained no cleric and it was Captain Jack Sparrow who nearly killed himself in the wizard trap. There is also a room designed to slay those who are too clever - if it were not for a few lucky rolls, that room might have been the end of one or more PCs. It didn't help that I fumbled.

The party ended up taking the Red Metal Door to escape to Venus, and chose to avoid interacting with the idol, thus missing the three greatest dangers they could have faced. Even so, without a cleric, they were lucky to have the Hogwarts Potion Master in their ranks, because he had a few choice flasks at his disposal.

Many thanks to Paul Paul, Steven Danielson, Squin Squin, John Dow, and Tim White for joining me on this voyage!

As with many other Cons, I produced some virtual swag, which you can find here.

The DCC RPG community - online and off - are a fantastic bunch of folks!

Thursday, 15 October 2020

AlbaCon Debriefing!

Most of the times, in years past, I have done my Con recaps as quickly as I was able. This year, I am doing more conventions (online), but I paradoxically have less time for writing due to work and family commitments. And when my time isn't being spent making sure that something else is taken care of, I find my creative energies banked (at best) or completely MIA.

AlbaCon took place on 3-4 October of this year, and was a great success. I ran three games on Scottish time (the first started at 5 am locally!) using a combination of Discord for video/voice and Roll20 as a whiteboard. In truth, I barely used Roll20 - I think twice in three games, and never more than once in a single game. 

Needless to say, Spoilers Sweetie.

Fire in the Mountain

If I had prepared better, I could have had urisk PCs for the players. As it was, a good time was had by all, but the cautious exploration of the adventure resulted in (1) far fewer deaths than normal, and (2) a lot of the actual temple complex missed. I did make sure that the PCs had a chance to encounter the spiral staircase and brass wheel (for those familiar with the adventure) because it is the crux of the adventure. The PCs came up with a great solution to the giant fiery snake!

Silent Nightfall

Singularly the best experience I've had with the Grallistrax Elders. (Those are the owls, O' my players!) The PCs did free the demon, but the Elf PC managed to not only survive, but to bring the whispering stone to Elfland. It took 200 years, but that Elf was the only surviving PC!

The Imperishable Sorceress

Possibly the most brutal outcome this adventure has ever seen (when I was running it, at least) even though only on PC died. 

Many thanks to all who played! These include Steve B, Richard W, James W, Sam P, Ryan MMark P, Mikalye, James Q, Tabarkus, Martin S, and Bruce L. Because I am an idiot and waited to record the names off Roll20/Discord, several people have been left out to my chagrin.

As is my custom, I produced virtual swag for the convention. Interested readers can find it here. If you want/need more Scotland in your game (and why wouldn't you?), this might also be of interest!  Actually, so might this!

AlbaCon produced a number of videos to go with the convention. You can find them here.

Friday, 21 August 2020

The Bride of Cyclops Con

Well, I've thrown my hat into the ring. I will be running two four-hour games and one six-hour game for Bride of Cyclops Con. Crom have mercy on my soul.

The Tribe of Ogg and the Gift of Suss is a funnel where the PCs are Old Stone Age cave men in a world reminiscent of the ERB Pellucidar stories, or the Manly Wade Wellman tales of Hok the Mighty. Players who play in this game are absolutely encouraged to also play in Danger in the Deep!, leveling their post-funnel cave folks to level 2. If you go this option, download the free Tribe of Ogg adventure here, but don't even open the file until you've had the chance to play it! The free download includes a new race-class, mercurial magic for cave dwellers, and information on the gods of prehistory.

Danger in the Deep! is a 2nd level adventure. You get to explore some caves, looking for a magic flower that can cure a deadly plague. Along the way, you may discover a connection between this adventure and Ogg.

The Weird Worm-Ways of Saturn is a six hour romp on the planet Saturn, using the Crawljammer rules. It covers both parts of the two-part Saturn adventure I wrote for Moon Dice Games, and that six hour slot is a hard limit - you might end up trapped on Saturn forever! Because the adventure is for 5th level characters, I have decided to forego the usual Purple Sorcerer route and lovingly handcraft the PCs. But if you have a survivor from a previous adventure that you want to level up for the game, I am willing to go along with that. Just be aware that this adventure is perilous....

Hope to see you at Bride of Cyclops Con!

If you have not done so already, don't forget to also check out AlbaCon!

Monday, 3 August 2020

D120 Treasures

I am working on trying to get myself writing again, so I threw this together and put it as only $2 on DriveThruRPG.

If you like it, let me know. If you hate it, let me know. If you want more D120 GM aids, let me know what you would like. Something like monsters or spel
ls are hard to do while remaining system-agnostic. 

But, basically, this is just to try to reprime the pumps and get me writing again.