Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Chamber

Been a while since I last posted, and I'm still developing my dungeon crawl... in the meantime, a really cool indie game has come out that needs some spotlight (for how awesome it is). 

The Chamber - on Print or PDF
Written by SVDPRESS (Sersa Victory)

"The Chamber is an emotional manipulation game about four broken people fighting the Walls, the Demon, the Eye, and each other.

The Chamber
In a game of The Chamber, you and three other people wake up in a confined, sealed-off location. No one has any memory of how you got there.

Unfortunately, there’s no time to figure things out. The environment around the four of you teems with unthinkable traps and perilous hazards, all designed to extinguish life. Worse yet, it soon becomes clear that only two of you will be able to leave the chamber alive.

In order to survive, you must manipulate the other subjects into trusting, supporting, and caring about you while turning them against everyone else. If enough people are on your side, you’ll be able to seize and control the means to escape. If not, you can only hope to be saved by whoever stumbles upon the way out first.

During it all, the Observers watch.”

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dungeon Bastard Saves (My) Gamehole Con!

Yesterday, I took the day off of work to run some games at Gamehole Con in Madison, WI. I had planned since June to run a 13th Age/Crucible of the Gods (which I posted about previously) and also a D&D 4E Fourthcore run of Fane of the Heresiarch. I was pumped up, it was going to be EPIC! How could it not - these adventures (found for FREE at svdpress.com) are incredible examples of excitement in a one-shot game.

The day didn't go anywhere near there I thought it would, but in the end it was incredible.

Waking up, 5:20am, a good hour drive from Milwaukee to Madison, and I got myself settled in at my table, all set up and ready to run. I even tweeted a pic of my setup.

Ready to rock 13th Age!
Just need players... Bueller? Bueller?
The Game that WASN'T
Then it all deflated horribly. No players came. I didn't have any pre-registered players, but I thought, "Hey, there will be some looking for a game that will give me a shot, right?"

I was wrong, and even attempts to sell my game in the hallway were pointless. I sat from 8:00 to 10:00am, trying my best to not take it personally. But I did. When I saw the many Pathfinder Society tables - ALL FULL - I felt like the biggest LOSER. 

I ran into Chris Perkins of WOTC, and that helped my spirits. He's a cool guy, a great DM. I already thought to myself, "Well, my day sucks hard, but at least I got to meet Chris Perkins!"
Watching Chris Perkins work his DM Magic
I packed up my game, stuck it all in the car and wandered the small con looking for something to do. I ended up watching Chris Perkins D&D Next game, which had Bill Cavalier, the Dungeon Bastard himself, standing nearby and making funny comments as the game progressed. If you don't know who Bill Cavalier is, do yourself a big favor and watch the videos here: dungeonbastard.com

When you see Chris Perkins DM, he's clearly excited about D&D. It shows. He does an excellent job of setting up a scene and describing what's going on to the players. He allows players to try things "outside the box". To me, D&D is not a spectator sport, so enjoying myself watching his game and enjoying it is saying something!

Pathfinder Society, Meh.
My spirits were raised a little more by watching the D&D Next game, but I wanted to be in a game. I couldn't take the possibility of my afternoon Fane of the Heresiarch/4E game going the same route as my morning Crucible failure, so I cancelled it and jumped in a Pathfinder Society seventh level adventure: The Ungodly Lands.

Pathfinder Society was merely OK. Boring combats where everyone kinda stands around and beats up on some monsters until they drop, and everyone argues about what bonuses stack on what, and how far you can move in a round. No puzzles, nothing to interact with really. No chance of character death. Apparently in Pathfinder Society, character death is frowned upon heavily?

The Insurmountable Guantlet of Doom
After my Pathfinder game was done, I ate dinner and thought to at least watch the Dungeon Bastard run his 7pm dungeon crawl game using hybrid old school D&D rules. I had to leave at 9:30 anyway (previous commitment!), so I thought, "Hey, I can enjoy watching him DM his game for a bit before I have to go."

But my luck would suddenly change immensely. There was an opening in his game! I jumped in and found myself in the best game ever. I can now put down Bill Cavalier on a list along with Sersa Victory and Dr. Davy Jones as people who have a finger on the pulse of the kinds of games I like. 
That's right, my DM was THIS GUY.
(pictured with Jen Page)
IGoD has a great mix. Combat, puzzles, tormented, epic environments... (What? The river Styx can't flow through here? Screw you pal and your 'dungeon has to make sense' crap!) and the house rules Bill employed threw away the nit picky (whoa, did I move five feet or ten?!?!) crap and focus on being BADASS. He rewarded players for actions/descriptions that kick ass, and penalized players for being less-than-awesome - which included a possibility of being ejected from the game!

Player character death is NOTHING compared to the thought of being shame-ejected out of the game. And we all ate it up. That's right - ejected from the game in SHAME!

Bill's style of DMing combines great descriptions told in dramatic voice. He doesn't shy away from gory scenes, and his Dungeon Bastard humor sprinkles in throughout the game. I found myself laughing so hard at times, and then intensely focused on some obscure deathtrap puzzle with the other players. The tension of crusader death was all about us, and we loved it. He doesn't mind pulling in strange game mechanics - pulling from a strange deck of cards, or fast 'n loose saving throws designed to keep things moving.

Leaving the Con Revitalized
I only got to play 2.5 hours in Bill's game, before I bowed out. That was more than enough to revitalize my faith in epic fantasy dungeon crawls. Any of the day's disappointments were banished forever. Now my only regret is not backing his kickstarter for the World's Worst Dungeon Crawl! If only I knew.

I hope Bill doesn't mind if I steal some of his game concepts to run myself. I'd tell you what they are... nah, screw it... If you want to know, play in my game. 

Or better yet, play in the Dungeon Bastard's game!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Crucible of the Gods: 13th Age Style

Today Fourthcore turns four years old, and in honor of it, I will be running Crucible of the Gods at Gamehole Con tomorrow... but this time using the 13th Age system!

In this version of Crucible, four of the world's Icons have been secretly plotting together... the Crusader, the Prince of Shadows, the High Druid and the Diabloist. Together, in a secluded location, they have created secret races that are better and stronger than their worldly counterparts. Perhaps they intend to dominate over the other Icons? No one knows for certain. 

The players play crusaders of these secret super races... and they must prove to their iconic masters that the experiment is worth continuing.

Should they fail to light the divine brazier of the Crucible of the Gods, the four Icons will terminate their experiment and eradicate them all!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gauntlet of the Fallen Godkings: Teaser 2

Imagine a party of all this guy,
wrecking havoc in a deathtrap dungeon!
Designing a tournament module allows me to go places that I couldn't go in a campaign. I can have players try a different kind of crusader, and in the previous teaser I made reference to the players taking on the role of godkings.

Godkings have abilities and powers beyond that of mortals. These skills (and those of the player!) will be tested to the fullest as the players take on the gauntlet... a deathtrap dungeon the godkings themselves created ages ago as a means to torture and execute their enemies.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Gauntlet of the Fallen Godkings: Teaser 1

When summer began, I took a break from all play-by-post gaming to attend to some personal family matters. When those matters were more under control, I began to write my own fourthcore adventure.

When it is finished, I will provide it for free download, just like the excellent adventures that you can find at svdpress.com, dungeonoracle.com, and rpg.brainclouds.net.

To the right is the first of many semi-weekly teasers that I'll post as I write the module. Enjoy!

This year could be great for fourthcore. I hear of other adventures coming out too... Pit of the Void Locust, for example. Exciting times!!!