Sunday, September 21, 2014

Lift Bridge Game Updates

While most of the players have turned over since this picture was taken in Nov. 2012, this accurately depicts the space in which we play Labyrinth Lord at Lift Bridge Books in Brockport, NY.  

Much as I reported last March, I have been away from blogging (and may remain so) for awhile but am very busy gaming! Today I want to post a couple updates about my open-to-the-public Labyrinth Lord game that meets twice a month at Lift Bridge Book Shop.

Repurposing Classic Modules
The Lift Bridge-based group has been adventuring in central and eastern Ara, having found a dwarven artifact weapon called Whelm in the treasure horde of a green dragon they slew a few days east of Kaladar. A few sessions ago, that magical dwarven warhammer communicated to one of the party members -- an elven thief named Rux Joopy -- and offered him a chance to become dwarven champion and hero. Rux accepted, and instantly transmogrified into a dwarf. The party then marched north to Gannar and received the blessing of King Robert V, who charged them to seek out another missing dwarven artifact, the sword Skeenkarbulo, rumored to be held by the vile fire giant king Snurre in the heart of the mountains.

As those in the know will have deciphered by now, I have been having a grand old time using some classic TSR adventure modules as the basis for this group's recent exploits. I am not slavishly following all the directives in these modules -- turning the resting place of Whelm into a dragon's horde rather than (primarily) the haunt of a crazy wizard, for example -- but rather modifying them to fit our own ongoing pursuits. Fun!

They've been fighting a lot of these . . . 

. . . and today they fought one of these . . . 

. . . and saw a couple of these things mating!

Starting New PCs
When PCs die, or when new players join the group, I have been starting off the new characters that replace them at a higher level than 1st, since the bulk of the party is now up at 5th and 6th level on average (Voltage the Druid, the longest-lived and most powerful character in the party) hit 7th level at the end of last session). The rough guideline I used is:

Average Party Level                Starting XP
         4th - 5th                                    4,400
         5th - 6th                                   10,001

Not much else to report, just that we're having lots of fun.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

An OSR Victory

I have been busy running my two Labyrinth Lord campaigns: my so-called "home" campaign that meets about once a month over Skype, and my public game at Lift Bridge Book Shop that meets on the first and third Sunday of every month.

I will return to the "home" game in a moment but first a few words about the Lift Bridge game. As I have mentioned before, it is mainly attended by a group of younger gamers -- a couple twentysomethings, and one gentleman closer to my own age,* but mostly lads 14 and under (about 4-5 regulars in that age category). I have been getting increasingly drawn in by that group and am really enjoying how the looseness of OSR gaming synergizes with their wild imaginations. They are also, on the whole, getting smarter as players -- more dungeoneering, planning, and coordination of effort is taking place relative to when we began this group back in June 2012. It also probably can't hurt that we are generally in the "sweet spot" for LL game play, when most of the PCs are between levels three and six.

However, on top of all this, one of the biggest triumphs of my entire gaming career took place at the end of today's session, when one of the younger-generation gamers, Jake, told me that he is running his own game on the side -- using Labyrinth Lord!!  I asked him why he chose that system, and he said that as a DM, it was far easier to run LL than D&D IV. I concurred with his opinion, and told him I was pleased that he and his friends were enjoying LL even when they weren't playing it with me. I went home beaming inwardly that I seem to have succeeded in my stated goal in starting this public game, to wit:
my main mission in reaching out to [members of younger generations] is to introduce them to the Old Ways, i.e., Labyrinth Lord.
Mission accomplished!

As for my home game, that campaign is reaching near-domain level play, as all the PCs have reached level seven or thereabouts at this point. They are commanding some units of specialized mercenary demon-hunters and defending the Free City of Kaladar from a possible alliance between balrogs and a vampire clan called Needbo. I am having fun with that group as they approach the campaign endgame, and yet I am not sure how much longer that particular arc will continue. We will likely still be playing through the summer, and maybe even until the end of the year, but once the PCs reach level nine or so, I think it likely that I will want to retire this party and have those players roll up a new adventuring group and start over. We will see what develops.

UPDATE 3/17/2014: I realized after writing the above paragraph about retiring the "home" campaign PCs after Level 9 that I may be somewhat contradicting myself from here, where I said that I "expect my PCs to claim land and erect strongholds starting at Level 9" and that I am "open to seeing this campaign continue through to PC levels in and beyond the 'teens.'" Why have I changed my mind on this issue since December 2010? Two reasons: (1) I am so damn busy now that learning or devising new "domain game" rules at this stage would be an impossibility, and (2) the Lift Bridge campaign is emphatically reminding me how much I enjoy that "sweet spot" when the PCs are level 3-6 or so. Therefore the idea of retiring Dak, Yor, Innominus & co. and starting that group over from scratch actually has immense appeal for me; name-level PCs are really powerful and demand really intense foes and situations. I can sustain this for awhile longer but maybe not into the double-digit PC levels.  

* The recently un-hiatused Jack Phoenix!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sessions 57 - 59: Adventures Around Marshton and Slag Mountain

Session 57
Date: 5/6/2012
PCs: Innominus (Clr. 7), Dak (Dwf. 6), Yor (Dwf. 6), Uncle Junkal (Rodian Bard 5), Vivuli (Assassin 5 / MU 5)
NPC followers: Nic Cage* (Ftr. 3, follows Yor), Claude (Ranger 3, follows Uncle Junkal), Flipwaiter (Dwf. 2, follows Dak) and Rodrick (Thf. 4, follows Viv).
NPC hirelings: Dunsdonger (Ftr. 2) and Abbideck (Dwf. 2) were also along as hired mercs, four archers of Rogaland protected their Baron, and Brother Lawrence of the Brothers of Carcoon (Clr. 3) accompanied the group as an observer, though the latter was beginning, over time, to warm to Innominus' teachings about the Temple of Endra.

Early on Day 182 of the party's Arandish adventures, having just survived a snowstorm, the group awakened to light snowfall on the north bank of the Blintsflow River, fifteen miles southeast of the town of Marshton in Blint [hex 1517].

Marshton is in hex 1517; the city erroneously labeled "Marshton" in hex 1316 of the above map is in fact Blintsport.

The party took two hours to hide their boat, which was rendered useless by the overnight freezing of the Blintsflow, and then they hiked overland toward Marshton. On the way there, they were first assaulted by a swarm of dreaded eyepeckers,** which they fended off with flaming oil flasks and Viv's wand of lightning bolts, then were attacked less than an hour later by a bulette! While the open plains of central Blint are known as feeding grounds for these dreadful beings, this particular bulette was unusual: as Yor delivered the killing blow to the creature at the conclusion of a pitched battle, an old hag's voice sounded inside his head, saying "A curse upon you and your land!" Then the bulette flatulated mightily (right in Yor's face) and died. 

As Yor recovered from the stinky emission and pondered the unusual curse, Vivuli immediately set about x-raying and vivisecting the bulette's corpse. Inside its stomach the enterprising assassin found the partially digested corpses of six rodians, sailors by the look of them. Looting the half-digested rodian corpses, Vivuli recovered:

- a goodly amount of coinage and loose gems
- a couple of potions, of human control and giant strength 
- a decanter of endless water
- an embroidered kerchief identifying the group as members of Captain Blackskull's crew

Vivuli determined that all this stuff had been in the bulette's digestive tract since roughly the day before.

The group then pressed on to Marshton, reaching the small town in the late afternoon of Day 182 of their adventures. They checked into the One-Eyed Snake Inn and queried the innkeeper about where a group of dragon hunters could go to find extra hands in the town. After Dak and Viv both spent generously in the establishment, the innkeep suggested that they could find able-bodied warriors at the militia house on the north side of town, and also told the group that Ookla, the local wise woman, could help them with information about the precise location of Boris' lair on Slag Mountain.

 Ookla, Marshton's wise woman, advises a client.

The party paid a visit to Ookla the Wise, who lived above a small apothecary shop on Marshton's east side. They showed her the head of the dragon Zelda, and she was most impressed. She gave them directions to the lair of Zelda's mate, Boris, on nearby Slag Mountain. She also recommended a local mountaineer and guide named Jerry, who had been up on Slag Mountain before. Ookla was unable to shed light upon the significance of the bulette's curse, though.

After lurking around Marshton for several more days, the party set off to the east, toward Slag Mountain, on the morning of Day 188 of their adventures. Their guide, Jerry, took them first to the country dwelling of Oswald the goat rancher, who lived on a farm between Marshton and the mountain. The party stabled their horses at Oswald's place then ascended Slag Mountain in the late afternoon.

Up on the steam-vent-riddled mountain face, he group did battle with two giant snakes, vanquished them, then proceeded further upward. It got hotter. Claude the Ranger detected some snake tracks plus the tracks of some bipedal, ogre-sized magma creatures.

Session 58
Date: 6/3/2012
PCs: Innominus (Clr. 7), Dak (Dwf. 6), Yor (Dwf. 6), Uncle Junkal (Rodian Bard 5), Vivuli (Assassin 5 / MU 5)
NPCs: Nic Cage (Ftr. 2, follows Yor), Claude (Ranger 4, follows Uncle Junkal), and Rodrick (Thf. 4, follows Viv), Brother Lawrence of the Brothers of Carcoon (Clr. 3, follows Innominus), Flipwayter (Dwf 2, follows Dak), and Abbideck (Dwf 1) and Dunsdonger (Ftr 2), hirelings.

"I'm always for retreating if you guys are." -- Uncle Junkal

It is near dusk on Day 188 of the party's Arandish adventures. Light winter snowfall finds our intrepid adventurers high on the southeast face of Slag Mountain, which lies on the Blint / Minoch border.

No sooner did Claude find some suspicious magma footprints on the steep switchbacks than the group was viciously attacked by two huge magma elementals. The party eventually dispatched these formidable beings, and Vivuli wrote his name in piss on one of their melted-magma corpses.

In the wake of the battle, Uncle Junkal received a telepathic message in his mind: "GET OFF MY MOUNTAIN OR I'LL FRY YOU ALL AND EAT YOUR INNARDS."

Taking this threat seriously, presuming it to be from the legendary Boris the Red Dragon, the party opted to immediately descend the mountain in the falling twilight, under moderate snowfall. They reached Oswald's homestead after midnight, and bedded down there.

A foot of new show fell overnight, and the party set off toward the west on Day 189 of their adventures. They decided to head northeastward to the Free City of Kaladar, approximately a week's travel overland.

All day of Day 189, the group was pursued and repeatedly attacked by a pack of werewolves of DOOM.

Which they killed.

"I'm here to kill for my god!" -- Innominus

Session 59
Date: 7/1/2012
PCs: Innominus (Clr. 7), Dak (Dwf. 6), Yor (Dwf. 6), Uncle Junkal (Rodian Bard 5), Vivuli (Assassin 5 / MU 5)
NPCs: Nic Cage (Ftr. 2, follows Yor), Claude (Ranger 4, follows Uncle Junkal), and Rodrick (Thf. 4, follows Viv), Brother Lawrence of the Brothers of Carcoon (Clr. 3, follows Innominus), Flipwayter (Dwf 2, follows Dak), and Abbideck (Dwf 1) and Dunsdonger (Ftr 2), hirelings.

The party spends the next three days trekking overland through snow to Kaladar. The first day, they are attacked by horned cyclops, but eventually kill these enemies, tracking them to their lair, killing their extended families, and looting the lair.

The party's second and third days' travel were marked by the presence of saurian balrogs in the air overhead. The demons seemed to be flying regular patrol patterns. Early in the morning of Day 192 of their Arandish adventures, the party was attacked by a group of flying balrogs dropping fire gems! During this deadly bombardment, Brother Lawrence plus two good horses were completely incinerated.

Eventually defeating these foes, the party set off for the Free City once again, reaching the West Gate of Kaladar on the evening of Day 192 of their adventures.

* Nic Cage leveled up at the end of last session.
** Eyepeckers are an indigenous Arandish creature which you can find on p. 23 of The Lands of Ara Compendium 2011.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Delightful Deluxe T&T Photo

I was just updating some links and checking back in on the Trollhalla forum when I came a cross this blog offering updates on the new forthcoming Deluxe edition of Tunnels and Trolls. Of especial interest was this post featuring this photo:

I don't know about you, but I DEFINITELY want to get my hands on whatever game THAT gang is producing!

(Of course, I have already assured that I will get my hands on said game by contributing to the Deluxe T&T Kickstarter campaign.)

Friday, March 22, 2013

OSRCon 2013 Update

If you've been tracking the latest updates over at the OSRCon blog, you already know that due to various administrative and facilities problems, it seemed for awhile like OSRCon 2013 would not happen. Wrote OSRCon Director Chris Cunnington:

I’ll have a $1000 bill to use the [Lillian H. Smith Library] basement. I’ll have no way to collect money. And I’ll have four times the publicity/marketing burden than I did last year.

I’m stopping this before I take anybody’s money, before I’m committed. This started two years ago as a fun experiment. It’s time to get outta Dodge.

On the one hand, of course I was sad about this. I had a great time at both OSRCon 2011 and OSRCon 2012 and will miss playing RPGs in the basement of that beautiful library. However, a very good friend of mine is getting married in early August so there may be scheduling conflicts for me this year in any case. And in a way, I am happy for Chris because I know that putting on the full-blown Con each year is a LOT of work and stress and strain for him. It is my hope that scaling the Con back this year will give Chris and others an opportunity to regroup and think of a new way to go about this that is lower-key and less stressful.

In a more recent post, Chris announces that the Con is still on, but in a different location:

This year OSRCon will be over the August 3/4th weekend on the Saturday and Sunday. It’ll be at the Manulife Centre in the Party Room, thirty-one floors above Bay Bloor Radio. I live here so its easy to set up.

The Party Room is capacity sixty, well appointed, used for corporate meetings, has couches, a kitchen, and floor to ceiling glass windows. The view is fantastic. When people think of the Toronto skyline, they think of this.

So I urge you to attend OSRCon 2013; it sounds like the venue will be top-notch, and hopefully we can keep the momentum going from the first two years. Even if I cannot make it this year due to that wedding, I have my wonderful memories of the first two years, and want to publicly thank Chris for all he has done to make these engaging events happen in the first place. Hopefully this year's scaled-down event will help make OSRCon 2014 a possibility!

Monday, March 18, 2013


Says Spawn:

It occurs to me that there must be blogs and forums (fora, whatever) for fans and critics of the band Yes, of prog-rock fame.

Judging from my limited exposure to D&D blogs and forums, they must also have trolls, and probably someone long ago picked the handle

Owner of a Lonely Fart

and posts the most dastardly recriminations of post-Bruford or post-Wakeman Yes. Or something. Post-Dean cover art, probably.

Some compatriot of his has picked up another low-hanging-fruit-type handle: Fart of the Sunrise.

Another dead-ender has probably taken Long Distance Reacharound.

I have chosen not to Google these phrases lest I find my basest comedic instincts ratified by a blind machine.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Skype Session Photos

Things are intensely busy in my work life and so I haven't been blogging much. But I am gaming a fair amount, both at my twice-monthly game at the local book shop and with my "home" campaign that games over Skype. And just to prove to you that I STILL EXIST, here are some photos from my latest Skype-based Labyrinth Lord session (played 3/10):

Spawn of Endra, who plays Innominus the Cleric.

Carl and Danny, who play Dak the Dwarf and Vivuli the Magic-User/Assassin.