Friday, September 14, 2018

End-of-Week Elmore (9/14/18): Let's Get Hammered!


Hey, here's Elmore's take on Perrin from the Wheel of Time! As they say in my neck of the the woods, have a good one!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Friday, August 31, 2018

End-of-Week Chen (8/31/18): Lemley and Dr. Lobotomy


I guess I'm sorta late to the game when it comes to Titansgrave, the first setting for use with Green Ronin's Fantasy AGE RPG (which was originally introduced as the system behind the company's Dragon Age RPG). Wil Wheaton (yes, Wesley Crusher of Star Trek: TNG fame) helped create Titansgrave, and ran a bunch of sessions that aired online a few years ago. You can go here to watch Wheaton run the seminal Titansgrave sessions.

The Titansgrave setting combines magic and technology. Yes, think Shadowrun. But on another planet. And with more of a medieval flavor in some ways. But also blasters, flying vehicles, cyborgs, and neon. Lots of neon.

The illo above is by Rayden Chen, and depicts one of the characters from Wheaton's Titansgrave sessions: Lemley, who wields a blade named "Dr. Lobotomy" from her cybernetic arm!

In general, I kinda dig the setting and the vibe! Plus, having run a few sessions of Dragon Age a little while ago, I've learned to like the AGE system. Once my current Labyrinth Lord campaign is over, I'd consider running some Fantasy AGE, perhaps on Valkana (the planet featured in Titansgrave).

Friday, August 24, 2018

End-of-Week Denmark (8/24/18): Mars Attacks!


I'm getting back into the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories about John Carter of Mars, which of course reminds me of Warriors of the Red Planet by Thomas Denmark and Al Krombach. I also decided to do a late pledge for the John Carter of Mars RPG that was Kickstarted recently. Someday I'd like to run a WotRP campaign, using the JCoM content as a resource.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Salton Seekers - Session 1: Into the Barrowlands (and 1st Annual D&DBQ)


We kicked off our reinvigorated Salton Seekers campaign in grand Summer style last Friday! We decided we would hold our inaugural D&DBQ! Props to my boy Jim for granting the event its name!

So, before the gaming started, we gathered up some barbecue staples, everything from burgers and dogs to kielbasa and chicken. We also had a bevy of sides, and even a cheese and cracker plate! We're not barbarians, folks (especially because we're playing Labyrinth Lord)! No, we have class (or rather, classes...seven of them, to be exact)! And of course, the beer flowed freely!

After fueling up, we headed to the gaming table! Here's the characters and the players:
  • Devalla of the Mountains, level 2 magic user (Derek)
  • Nikolaus, level 2 cleric of the One True God (Jay)
  • Xander Darkwood, level 2 thief (Dan)
  • Varhauth Chainsman, level 2 fighter (Jim)
  • Gideon Silverleaf, level 2 elf (Pat, who arrived toward the end of the session)
Just a note: I love the names of these characters! And a well-balanced party. All the characters except for Nikolaus were pregenerated at Wizardawn.

To set the scene: On the planet Æarth, at the northern tip of a continent ruled by the New Thulian Empire (which arose from the ashes of the Old Thulian Empire), lies the frontier city of Salton (known as Salt Town when it was founded as a humble fishing village hundreds of years before).

So, the session started with the gang (minus Pat's elf because he was running late for the game) gathered at the adventurer's guild. One of the guildmasters made some announcements of adventuring opportunities in the area. The party decided to head to the barrowlands, to investigate the rising of the dead (for the promise of a reward of 50 gold apiece if they could bring back some good evidence of what is causing the dead to rise).

The rumor is that something is amiss with the neutral god of death, Nergal, who hates undeath for obvious reasons (he wants the dead to stay dead). There are two gods who are in constant conflict over the domain of undeath: Set and Orcus. The Church of the One True God doesn't like any of these opposing deities!

A half-day's ride on rented horses brought the party to the eerie expanse of burial mounds south of Salton, a place eternally drifting with mist and strangely quiet. As the group began to explore and investigate, they found a trail of somewhat fresh blood, as if someone had been dragged through the calf-high grass after being killed.

The gory trail led to the entrance of a smaller barrow, which had been opened some time in the past. They were met with a grizzly sight: the half eaten remains of some human limbs. There was a strange darkness within the barrow entrance that neither daylight or lantern light could illuminate. Xander the thief detected wet sounds emanating from the barrow...

After a lot of cautious planning, the group moved into the darkness of the barrow. Within, they found a sarcophagus, behind which hid several ghouls finishing a gory feast of human flesh. The cleric cast Light, bringing the illumination of the One True God to the chamber, which finally banished the unnatural darkness that their torches and lamp could not.

The party made short work of the ghouls, then studied the sarcophagus. The lid sported a carving of a strange-looking beetle. Actually, evidence pointed to the fact that the lid once featured a different carving, one that was reworked into the shape of the beetle for some reason. They decided to open the sarcophagus. Pushing open the lid, they saw a body wrapped in bandages, adorned with magnificent jewelry and with an ornate silver dagger on its chest. There was also a scroll resting above the head of the wrapped body, with a wax seal bearing the eye symbol of Nergal, god of death.

Nikolaus the cleric decided to break the seal. The scroll was written in ancient Thulian, which the magic user Devalla can read. The scroll was a blessing for one called Sheeara, a priestess of a god called Khepri. Nikolaus knew that Khepri is worshiped in the deserts far to the south. The scroll praised her for her sacrifice in the struggle against the vile servants of Set and Orcus. The group cut open the corpse's bandages to reveal the recently deceased Sheeara herself. Out of respect, they resealed her sarcophagus.

Though the party had enough evidence to obtain their rewards, they decided to check out the central barrow in the vicinity, surrounded by a ring of standing stones and rumored to be the entrance to a maze of tunnels below. They noted much evidence of other adventurers having come and gone from the area: broken arms and armor, signs of old blood, cast-off equipment.

Entering the central barrow, they saw a old, much used tripod with a pulley system and rope hanging down into a pit at the center of the chamber. The group used one of their own grapples and rope to lower themselves down. They saw more evidence of many past adventurers in the form of graffiti, some crude and some ominous, mentioning the deaths of comrades.

The party found passageways that seemed well-constructed, not the rough tunnels they were expecting. They turned down a short passage and inspected a door. Moving through it, a trap was triggered that brought down a heavy stone slab in the doorway. They group had no choice but to throw themselves into the room beyond the door. Another door, on the opposite side of the small 20' x 20' room, burst open, and five grotesque humanoids ran in, armed with crude but wicked-looking weapons. The beings themselves were strange hybrids of man and animal, and some looked like mutated humans.

The party slew two of the creatures, causing the rest of the hideous humanoids to retreat back through the door from which they entered. Then, the stone slab that had trapped the adventurers raised back up, allowing the group to escape. It was then they encountered Gideon the elf (Pat arrived after work), who had just come down from above, on a mission from the elf king of Dolmenwood, Atanuwe.

The group, with Gideon now joining them, decided to head back to Salton before night fell. They were able to return to the city before too late in the night. They promptly returned to the adventurer's guild, and showed their evidence to one of the guildmasters, who suggested that the scroll be taken to the temple of the One True God for study. The party decided to rest for the night at the most notorious inn in Salton: the Wanton Cockatrice. That's where the session ended, well after midnight in the real world!

Thanks for reading this recap! I hope I wasn't too cheesy...


Session two will, hopefully, happen very soon!

End-of-Week Elmore (8/17/18): Conan the Mercenary


Monday, August 13, 2018

Salton Seekers: My Frankensteinian Labyrinth Lord Campaign


Okay, so I'm doing a soft reboot of the Basic D&D campaign I started earlier this year. My group of old friends and I sorta stalled on the roleplaying for a while. But we're all basically back on a more normal adult responsibility schedule, so I'm deciding to kick things off again.

Also, while I love the pure nostalgia factor of using the B/X rules, I have so much stuff for Labyrinth Lord, from the referee screen to game supplements, that it made sense to shift over to using LL. As any OSR follower worth their salt knows, there's enough differences between B/X and LL to necessitate moving from one rule set to the other.

I'm still using the city of Salton I created as the foundation of the campaign. I'm letting players keep characters or create new ones, with all characters moving up to level 2 (based on prior play and XP gained). Just need to transfer characters to LL sheets!

As for the campaign world itself, I was primarily using the Dwimmermount world of Telluria as the basis for the campaign, and using some homebrew stuff tacked on (including Stonehell Dungeon). I've decided to move things over to a world I call "Æarth." I know, clever aren't I?

To pull back the curtain a bit, here's a list of older and new OSR products I'm using so far to cobble together my Frankensteinian campaign:
  • Dolmenwood (from the pages of the Wormskin zine)
  • Barrowmaze
  • Isle of the Unknown
  • Frostbitten and Mutilated
  • Blackmarsh (and possibly the larger Points of Light campaign setting)
  • Stonehell Dungeon
  • Maybe Dwimmermount again, if the characters head far enough south...
Okay, that's all for now! I'll be posting some session recaps as we go along! Happy gaming, y'all!

Friday, August 10, 2018

End-of-Week Caldwell (8/10/18): Alias and the Azure Bonds


I also appreciate the art of Elmore contemporary Clyde Caldwell! Those of us who played AD&D back in the late 80's and early 90's surely remember the illo above! The lady in the foreground with the impractical armor is Alias, the protagonist of the Forgotten Realms novel Azure Bonds (and the module Curse of the Azure Bonds). In the background is her friend...Dragonbait! Ah, the good old days!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Score at the Vintage Store: Endless Quest Books!


So the male offspring and I went to The House of Fun in Oaklyn, NJ yesterday. It had been a while since we'd been there, and I've written before about their stash of D&D and other tabletop gaming material.

As the boy, as usual, drooled over the wall-to-wall press of old and new action figures and other stuff, I headed for the book shelves in the back. There was the usual stockpile of games including D&D modules and particularly a lot of Ravenloft stuff. 

But lo and behold, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a small selection of random Endless Quest books! I also spotted something I'd never heard of: a Sagard the Barbarian adventure book. According to the Wiki entry, St. Gygax collaborated with Flint Dille, screenwriter for Transformers: The Movie and game designer/writer for games like Dead to Rights.

I figured I should grab a couple of the books for nostalgia's sake (you know how that goes). The store owner said they were $8 a pop, so I settled on two:


I was particularly glad to snag a copy of Return to Brookmere, being a fan of the cover illo by Larry Elmore. The interior art by Tim Truman is no slouch either (his stuff has a definite similarity to Elmore's work...perhaps that's why they were teamed up for this book?):


I picked up the other book, Duel of the Masters, mostly because of the artists: Clyde Caldwell for the cover and the late, great Keith Parkinson for the interior illos. I've honestly never seen anything done in black and white by Parkinson. I've always associated him with the incredible cover art he's done for gaming books and novels. 

Anyway, I'm happy with these small scores! Have you picked up anything you're excited about that has fueled some nostalgia?

Friday, July 27, 2018

End-of-Week Elmore (7/27/18): Magic Missile!


Quick, what level is this magic user?

Friday, July 6, 2018

End-of-Week Nicholson (7/6/18): The Wages of Sorcery


I love this illo from Russ Nicholson, which I spotted in the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Rules & Magic book. Russ's work is always evocative, IMHO! The guy in this piece looks like he's suffering for his craft...or should I say witchcraft? He seems to be paying a steep price for power!

Friday, May 25, 2018

End-of-Week Kelly (5/25/18): Dark Castle
















This past weekend, I went to one of the few remaining used book traders in my area of the world. As is my wont, I went seeking some old pulpy genre fiction from bygone eras.

While slipping through delightfully tight aisles of shelving that towered over me on both sides, I came upon a stack of books by Tanith Lee from the 1970s. I've never read any of her work, so I decided to take a chance and picked up a couple of the books.

The cover art of one novel called Dark Castle, White Horse was done by the talented Ken Kelly. I thought it was very cool, evocative, and suitably pulpy! I'm not sure how good the book actually is, but I'll report back in on my thoughts when I'm done with it!

Friday, March 9, 2018

End-of-Week Elmore (3/918): Killer Queen!


Dynamite with a laser beam!
Guaranteed to blow your mind...anytime!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Tales of Telluria Session 1: The Adventures Begin!

Identities hidden to protect the not-so-innocent...

So, here's the scenario: we got the old gaming band back together. These guys are good friends I've known since my youth, and include gentlemen that were around in the early days of my gaming career.

We decided at last that it was a crime we haven't roleplayed together in ages. This had to be remedied ASAP. So, we set a date and got together. Me? Well, I got into my traditional role as DM. 

Yeah, I said DM, not GM. Because we're playing D&D, baby! Moldvay/Marsh/Cook Basic/Expert D&D, to be precise! Yeah boy! It was beyond awesome to have the old crew around the table again! It's been far too long, criminally so! 

But all regrets aside, here's what I'm doing with the old crew: I'm running an episodic campaign. Whoever can jump in during the sessions, that's who's there. Players/characters can pop in and out on the fly. If a guy can't make a session, his character gets "separated from the group," whatever. The excuse doesn't matter. 

I printed out 70 pregenerated characters before the session (generated from this excellent site). Ten characters of each class. The guys decided to pick characters at random. Here's who they got:
  • Derek is Devalla of the Mountains, second level female magic-user
  • Dan is Eam the Spiritual, second level male halfling
  • Pat is Nufar the Searcher, second level female cleric
  • Jim is Cope, second level female fighter
The campaign is set on the world of Telluria, the setting for the Dwimmermount megadungeon. The campaign has started out in the town of Salton. A day's ride west is none other than Stonehell dungeon.

Oh yeah, I'm throwing it all into the pot, folks!

ANYway, three ladies and a halfling walk into a tavern after checking in at the adventurer's guild. The tavern is The Wanton Cockatrice, and the crew is there for a good time.

Cope the fighter puts her high Charisma to immediate work, looking to fleece some poor sucker out of some gold. She puts the moves on Finz the veteran fighter (an NPC), who she convinces to buy drinks for everyone in the place. 

Eam the halfling earns some gold plucking on his mandolin, while Nufar and Devalla drink up (Devalla does so in a disgruntled manner, because she is generally disgruntled... by the way, she's a magic user with 18 Strength, 18 Intelligence, and 18 Dexterity... what can I say, that's how the character generator created her...)

Well, suffice to say the usual roleplaying tavern shenanigans ensued, interrupted by sudden iridescent flashes of light and rumblings from outside. The party scrambled outside to see flashes of rainbow-colored lighting emanating from the red crystal dome of a wizard's tower across the river to the north. The place has been the dwelling of a powerful magic user who has hermited himself there for years. 

As the artificial lighting struck the surface of the river, a great bubbling arose from the depths. Then, pale, grotesque humanoid fish creatures pulled themselves from the water onto the docks.

The group sprang into action, entering into combat with the monstrous, disgusting things! Once the creatures were dispatched, the proprietor of the Wanton Cockatrice, a beefy fellow named Dirk, told the group that the wizard in the tower, the former adviser of Salton's Lord Brereton, had holed himself up in the tower years ago. During that time, events such as this would plague the town. The party resolved to get some sleep and investigate the tower in the morning. 

Ah, but in the middle of the night, there were more screams of terror! The party awoke to see dark, hulking forms running through the streets outside the Wanton Cockatrice. Whatever the creatures were, they had broken into homes and murdered local citizens before disappearing.

The group suited up and headed out, and spoke with some members of the town guard, who led the party to a collapsed well in a nearby public square. The well had caved in not long after the shockwaves emanated out from the wizard's tower. The party, worth their adventuring salt, decided to head down to investigate. The town watch lowered them into the collapsed well. 

The group found themselves in a winding passage, lined with burial niches. Perhaps they had stumbled upon an ancient Thulian Empire burial chamber? They lit up torches and lanterns and headed forward into the dark...

They eventually came to a larger chamber with several columns carved with bas-reliefs depicting scenes of conquest. None of them being Thulian scholars, they weren't sure if the carvings were from that empire, but the supposition was likely, given the fact that Salton is located at what would have been the eastern frontier of that old kingdom. 

There were eight niches in the walls of this chamber, filled with bodies wrapped in ancient linens, and adorned with ceremonial costume jewelry. These were more elaborate burials than those found in the niches in the passageway they had just left, though the fake jewelry spoke of pretended nobility. 

The group decided to cut open one of the "mummies" to see if there was greater wealth inside. The action of slicing open the wrappings exposed the group to a noxious, powdery substance. Saving throws were rolled, and a few of the group failed. Those who didn't make their saves began to cough up blood!

Then, the desiccated corpses in the wrappings began to stir, and ripped free! The cleric turned a few of the undead abominations, and the remaining things were defeated with a combination of weapons and magic!

We decided to stop there, after a long night of gaming and drinking! Overall, the group felt good to be back at the table! I, for one, felt great! After years of gaming with "strangers" who became friends, it was wonderful to be roleplaying with my original crew!

Session two of the campaign will happen next month! Can't wait!

P.P.S. One complaint I have is regarding the Labyrinth Lord screen I was using during the session. Now, I know there's some minor differences/modifications from B/X, but that's not my problem. Here's my gripe: I really wish DM screens had reminders of rolls for demihuman detection skills (hidden doors, etc.) and other abilities like what you have to roll to open doors, etc. But maybe that's just me. It makes me miss the unified SIEGE Engine mechanic of Castles & Crusades.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Friday, February 2, 2018

End-of-Week Willingham (2/2/2018): Dragon Slaying in Living Color!


Love this Willingham illo! Of course, the one at the front of the Moldvay Basic book is black and white, but with some color added it becomes even more epic, no? 

Incidentally, the image in my old, much-used copy of the Moldvay Basic book was colored in at some point by a prior owner. That is so cool, isn't it? I mean, someone else at some time in the past, perhaps back in the early 80's when the book was "hot off the presses," was so enamored of this image that they felt compelled to bring it to colorful life! Here's a shot of it:


I love D&D, folks!

Friday, January 26, 2018

End-of-Week Willingham (1/26/18): Haunted Halfling


What dark spirit lurks behind this halfling?

Friday, January 19, 2018

End-of-Week Willingham (1/19/18): Adventurers on the Job!


I love this illo, from the first page of the Expert set that puts the X in B/X! There's some doughty adventurers as seen from the perspective of some dungeon creature or other! Those hardy folks don't look worried at all! As a matter of fact, they look eager to take out their opponent! I love it!

Friday, January 12, 2018

End-of-Week Dee (1/12/18): Well...


Continuing on with my current obsession with Moldvay Basic D&D, I've featured an illo from Jeff Dee this week. You've seen his art in both basic and advanced D&D tomes, no doubt. Keep watching this blog, kids. I'm planning some interesting things. Well, I think they're interesting. It remains to be seen if YOU think they're interesting. Stay tuned...

Friday, January 5, 2018

End-of-Week Willingham (1/5/18): Drow Warrior


If you're a fan of the Moldvay/Marsh Basic/Expert era of D&D, you're familiar with the art of Bill Willingham. I have to confess that I've recently delved back into B/X...indeed, thoughts and plans are swirling around in the old noggin with regard to that particular set of rules...

More information to come...in the meantime, enjoy a Mr. Willingham's drow warrior!