Saturday, 3 April 2021

Virtual Gary con Recap

Ethereal Gary Con XIII ran from March 25th to 28th, and - not surprisingly - it was a virtual event. The advantage of virtual events is that, in addition to people in North America, I got to play with individuals in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Serbia. The disadvantage is that I am not just rolling out of bed at the Timber Ridge Lodge to jump into games. I am using an area that I share with my family, and that means trying to balance home and play in a way that I don't have to worry about at a physical convention.

Of course, that is all just a long-winded way of saying that I miss physical conventions.

On Thursday, I got to play Stephen Newton's Shadow Under Devil's Reef hosted by Judge Julian Bernick of Spellburn fame. I have run games for Julian twice before, but this was the first time that I got to play an adventure he was running. With enormous luck, I left the adventure virtually unscathed!

Also on Thursday, I played Slowly the sloth in Dan Steeby's The Big Bop Back to Brooklyn, using the Bronx Beasts rules, and that was a load of fun. I can't really talk about the adventure, as it isn't out yet, but I can say that the rules and action really did catch the feel of an 80s Saturday Morning cartoon. The rules for various beasts trying to be the dominant member of the pack came into play several times, and they were definitely fun to use.

On Friday, I played in Michael Curtis' To Free the King of Elfland, a sequel to the most excellent The Queen of Elfland's Son. Again, as this adventure is unpublished (and still in the playtest stage), there is little I can say. One experience along the way was both charming and fantastic. Although Michael Curtis' vision of Elfland has many points of contact with Lord Dunsany's, it is even more a thing that bears his own stamp.

(If I had been at the Con physically, I would have tried to get 3+ games in from Thursday to Saturday, so you can see how being at a virtual Con is more limiting, for me at least, than being at a physical Con. I am really, really hoping to see people in meatspace next year!)

On Saturday, I switched hats from player to judge, and ran The Fence's Fortuitous Folly (DCC Lankhmar) for Martin Saunders, Paul Gyugyi, Adrian Hermann, and Mihailo Tešić. As became a theme for the convention, the players finished with time to space, so we also did a little carousing and a second expedition.

Later that day, I ran The Dread God Al-Khazadar for Eric Rollins, Adrian Hermann, Scott McKinley, and Geoff Knox. I used these special characters, so the party consisted of Prospero, Conan, Princess Ariel, and Bilbo Baggins. To start the game, I had to get the previous tenants of WA_1 to decamp, and it was not at all easy. This was the first time something like that had occurred at a virtual convention for me, and as it was repeated on Sunday, I think I will stick to my own Discord for virtual gaming hereafter. Of course, when I ran games at AlbaCon, either they had more courteous attendees or they monitored their servers better, because the same problems did not occur.

On Sunday, I ran Apotheosis in Green and Gold, an 8th level playtest, for Chris Zank, Randall Harris, Adrian Hermann, and Jason Menard. Again I had to remove the current inhabitants of the Discord room, but, unlike the first case, the previous inhabitants were polite about it. Because this was a playtest, I won't say much about it, but fun was had,

Overall, I enjoyed the convention, but I really miss physical cons. Whether your beverage of choice is a Spotted Cow, black coffee, Mountain Dew, or just water, it is nice to share that directly while the dice roll. It is also nice to have the Con be a thing unto itself, rather than feeling like you are interrupting the weekend for your family.

Thank you to all the awesome folks who played in my games, and those who ran the games I played in, or put up with me as a player in those games! DCC folks really are the best folks.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Chess Enthusiast?

If you are a chess enthusiast, my niece has started making chessboards with pieces. Her site is Amber Resin.

If you are interested in chess, or just feel like checking it out, I encourage you to do so!

Monday, 15 March 2021

Spawn of Cyclops Con & Etc.

Spawn of Cyclops Con
was the last weekend in February, so I am a bit late in posting this. However, since I was set to record Episode 109 of Spellburn the Friday after, and it discussed the convention, I decided to wait until after the podcast episode dropped. In the meantime, I discovered this nice podcast, in which a few nice words are said about my blog post about creating magic items!

I only ran one adventure this convention, Journey to the Crypts of Orderly Death, a level 3 adventure originally written for a patron at Storm Crow Manor in Toronto, and which I am currently playtesting.

On Saturday, I ran an 8:00 am game for Steve Barnett, Jason Menard, David Persinger, William Walters, and Bryce Katzman. Journey opens with a "Michael Curtis Special" - an encounter in which a character may easily die. In fact, that is exactly what occurred. 

This was the first time I had run the adventure in over a year (damn you, Covid-19!), but the group was fantastic, I soon hit my stride, and some of what followed included little bits of improv that I used in every session that weekend, and which will surely make it into the final product! I am hesitant to say too much about the adventure before it is published, but I think the players enjoyed drinks at the Fallen Angel if nothing else!

The second group, playing at 6:00 pm managed to win the "Michael Curtis" opener without any losses at all! In fact, they managed to do so well, that it was a shame that a more powerful version of flaming hands than expected took out a character near the end. Still, the players did very well, and they surprised me in the end with a well-cast holy sanctuary! This group consisted of David Dubois, Mike Dawson, Matthew Shayefar, Joe Colistro, and Jack Derricourt.

The final group on Sunday included Pete Doroshenko, Jon Wilson, Hector Cruz, Aaron Kreader, and Julian Bernick. The game started at 1:00 pm. The entire opening encounter was bypassed by a well-cast holy sanctuary, which received some mention on the Spellburn episode. I wouldn't nerf a critical if the monsters rolled one, and I won't nerf good rolls from the players either. 

Since there was a preview version of The Inn in the Forest given away as Virtual Con Swag, I didn't create anything additional for this convention. The Vecnoid, however, does appear in Scientific Barbarian #2, and I have an article in Scientific Barbarian #3, which is currently kickstarting!

Overall, I am enjoying the plethora of virtual conventions this year, but I take up the kitchen table when I run games, so I limit how much time I actually get to spend playing. I miss rolling out of bed at a hotel, showering, and then rushing forth to roll dice in person!

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Down to the Final 8 Hours

The Inn in the Forest is down to its final 8 hours. The outpouring has been phenomenal, and I cannot thank you enough!

Saturday, 27 February 2021


It seems to be normal enough booze, but do you drink what McBones, the Skeletal Bartender, is offering you?

Roll 1d7, modified by Luck!

1 or Less: Rot Gut literally rots your gut. Take 1d3 damage immediately, plus 1d3 damage each turn that you fail a DC 15 Fort save. Once you have saved once, the danger has passed.

2: Crypt Tequila forces a DC 15 Fort save. Failure means you drop like a stone, helpless and apparently dead for 1d6 hours. Your comrades probably loot your body.

3: Ghost Rum is tasty stuff! Succeed in a DC 15 Will save or take another drink - and roll 1d7 + Luck modifier again!

4: Manna Gin! Good for a +1d10 bonus on your next spell check, if you make it during the next 1d3 hours. After that, the buzz fades. Yes, multiple drinks can stack (if you are lucky enough). Yes, any class can make a spell check, so this might even help a warrior. Yes, McBones sometimes tends bar in dungeons!

5: Bone Brandy puts a stiffener in your skeleton. Your bones cannot be broken (for example, as the result of a fall or a critical hit) for the next 1d5 days.

6: Burial Bourbon heals 1d5 damage. Better, no matter how badly you are injured over the next 24 hours, you always survive (recover the body checks are always successful without a roll...of either type; if no one rolls the body, you awaken groggy with 1 hp after 1 hour). Even if swallowed whole, you are not slain, but receive a "free pass"!

7 or Better: Super-Whisky not only brings on a warm feeling in your gut, but heals 2d12 damage and all diseases! 50% chance of it being a double-malt that also neutralizes poisons!

McBones, Skeletal Bartender: Init +0; Atk claw +0 ranged (1d4); AC 9; HD 4d6; hp 13; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP death throes; SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +6; AL N.

Death Throes: It is uncertain that McBones can be truly slain. Yes, if he reaches 0 hp, his bones are shattered, but as soon as that happens the house goes dry. Even water skins within 500' are mysteriously emptied. At the same time, somewhere else, a skeleton calling itself McBones opens the bar somewhere in the multiverse. Is it the same McBones? A successor? No one knows. McBones doesn't care to discuss the matter, and he never holds a grudge.

How the West was...Weird!

Agamas Ringo, the Saturn Kid (alien gunslinger): Init +3; Atk claw +2 melee (1d4) or ray gun +4 ranged (1d12); AC 15; HD 3d10+6; hp 30; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +2; AL POD +3. Crit Die d8; Fumble Die d12.

Be glad the frame only shows Ringo's hand. The Kid is about as pretty as a skunk with the mange dressed up like a saloon girl, and smells near as good to boot!

That Ray Run gets 100 shots before it runs out of juice, and the judge should roll 1d100 to determine how many shots are left when the Saturn Kid is encountered.

Yes -- It's Bitner, Your Dead Partner

Brain-Bat: Init +4; Atk claw +0 melee or bite +2 melee (1d3) or psychic blast +3 ranged (1d6); AC 10; HD 1d7+1; MV fly 40’; Act 1d20; SP control corpse, psychic death throes; SV Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +15; AL C.

A Brain-Bat can slip onto a corpse and wear it like a zombie. Treat the corspe as a Zombie (DCC core rulebook, page 431), except that it attacks with a claw (1d4) or a weapon (by weapon type).

When a Brain-Bat is slain, its wail of psychic distress affects all living creatures within 100'. These must succeed in a DC 15 Will save or take 1d3 points of temporary damage to both Intelligence and Personality. On a natural "1", one of these points is permanent (player may choose which).

Brain-Bats are extremely intelligent. They can use corpses to speak when riding on one, and use both the living and the dead to further their schemes. 

You Look Perfectly Normal to Us!

Lobsterfication: A victim of this foul magical disease has their body slowly turn into that of a crustacean over the course of several days.

When a character first encounters a vector, they must succeed in a DC 15 Fort save to avoid infection. While victims of lobsterficiation carry the disease, other vectors might include curses, magical creatures, or even tainted food and drink (such as water consumed after a rain of tiny dead monsters).

If a character is infected, each day after the first they must roll a DC 15 Fort save. Failure indicates a bodily change, which occurs in the order below:

1. Body grows shell-like carapace. +4 to AC, armor cannot be worn.

2. Left hand becomes pincer-like claw. 1d8 damage. Can transmit lobsterfication.

3. Body becomes hunched. Permanent loss of 1d4 Agility and 10' of speed.

4. Right hand becomes pincer-like claw. 1d8 damage. Most spellcasting is now impossible. Can transmit lobsterfication.

5. Body grows extra pair of legs and victim can no longer stand upright. Head is unchanged. Lobsterfication is complete. 

The process of lobsterfication can be halted with a Lay on Hands check sufficient to do 3 HD or more of healing, but more powerful magic is needed to undo effects that have already taken place.

Average Lobsterman: Init -1; Atk claw +0 melee (1d8 + lobsterfication); AC 13; HD 1d4; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP lobsetrfication (Fort DC 15 avoids); SV Fort +0, Ref -1, Will +0; AL N.

Friday, 26 February 2021

Good Heavens! It's Raining Tiny Dead Monsters!

It doesn't often happen, but every once in a while - maybe only once in a million years - there is a tiny dead monster in ever raindrop. These are larger-than-normal raindrops - each being a good 2 feet long - but the number of dead monsters dropping from the sky is beyond count.

Anyone caught in such a rain must succeed in a DC 10 Fort save each round or take 1d3 damage from the pummelling of tiny, water-shrouded corpses. The rain lasts 1d6 turns, so anyone not able to find shelter will surely perish. 

But the worst is yet to come!

Tiny dead monsters seep into the water supply over a 1d30 mile radius. Anyone (and anything) consuming water in this area over the next 1d7 days begins to change....

Roll 1d20, modified by Luck:

0 or Less:  The body shrivels, permanently losing 1d8 points of Strength, Agility, and Stamina.

1: The brain swells painfully, but unfortunately not helpfully. Take a permanent loss of 1d3 Intelligence and Personality.

2-3: Pull out your Mutant Crawl Classics book and roll up a Defect.

4-5: Pull out your Dungeon Crawl Classics book and roll up a Greater Corruption.

6-8: Pull out your Dungeon Crawl Classics book and roll up a Major Corruption.

9-12: Pull out your Dungeon Crawl Classics book and roll up a Minor Corruption.

13-16: You are miraculously unscathed!

17-18: Gain 1d3 points to a random attribute.

19: Pull out your Mutant Crawl Classics book and roll up a Physical Mutation.

20: Pull out your Mutant Crawl Classics book and roll up a Mental Mutation.

21: Pull out your Mutant Crawl Classics book and roll up a Physical Mutation.

22: Pull out your Mutant Crawl Classics book and roll up a Mega Mutation (equal chance of it being Physical or Mental).

23 or More: A paragon! All of your attributes are raised to 18, you gain a permanent 1d12 hit points, and you gain a permanent +2 bonus to all saves!

Minor creatures (insects, birds, etc.) undergo only minor cosmetic changes unless the judge rules otherwise. This is a great opportunity to introduce new (and sometimes tragic) monsters to a previously-explored area! Or bring some DCC monsters into MCC! Or MCC monsters into DCC! Go wild!

When creatures who have been changed by consuming the tiny dead monsters die, their bodies evaporate after one hour, eventually forming together into clouds that allow the next rain of tiny monsters to fall, millenia hence!