Monday, August 30, 2010

More Purple Worm Art

I just got some more Purple Worm art from Seattle painter Darin Shuler. Actually, Darin is formerly of Seattle, now of South Carolina. When I told Darin I was putting together a D&D module he got very excited and contributed an awesome Purple Worm God image for the back cover. It's weird, surrealistic, and spectacular and not what you expect (in a good way). I'm not going to post it now, though. I'm going to make you all wait until the final is done. :) Also, I probably owe you a preview of the interiour art by Ed Heil, whose work I have admired since the days of Trollbabe.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Holy Crap! Should I do an Art Show?

I have one of those "fake paper mug" ceramic coffee mugs with a plain white unglazed exterior. Being the doodler I am, I wasn't able to resist the pristine surface, so I doodled all over it. Anyway, to make a long story short, one of the managers at my local cafe saw it and told me that she'd be willing to hang my art in the cafe!

So I'm all in a tizzy now. My stomach feels funny. What do I bring? How do I present it? Maybe I'm not ready for a coffee shop show. Are microdungeons too inaccessible to the non-gaming crowd?

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Danger Peak

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Dun Hew

It's very exclusive, the Dun Hew Market. You need an invitation to get in. And you only get an invitation if you have something truly unique to offer. Goods from another plane, love potions that really work, information that no one else has--these are all pretty good. And by the way, don't drink the water.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Art, Sweet Art

Just got a quick look at the art for The Purple Worm Graveyard, and it is very fine!

Forward, Hirelings!

W few days ago, I posted a bit about what the hirelings are up to in an Apocalyse D&D game I'm running.

So here are the custom moves I use to manage dealing with hirelings:

Order Hireling
When you have to order your hirelings to face danger unsupported, or take a disproportionate risk, roll 2d6 plus your charisma bonus.
10 or better: Choose 3 from the list
7-9: Choose 1
6 or less: The DM decides how they react
  • They do it

  • They don't demand additional reward

  • They don't question your authority or lose loyalty

  • They don't hold it against you or become rebellious

Use Diplomacy
If you're making a reasonable offer, roll 2d6 plus your intelligence bonus.
If you're appealing to their passions or honor, roll 2d6 plus your charisma bonus.
If you're making threats or intimidating them, roll 2d6 plus your strength bonus.
10 or better: They do it
7-9: They do it, but you have to show them something tangible right now to show you're as good as your word.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Eyebite Mews

There's more going on in Eyebite Mews than meets the eye. Like why has Moglin been seen climbing down his well after midnight? Who meets int he old chapel? How does the Theives guild keep such a keen watch on the place? And why are there no stray cats in the neighborhood?

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Stafford: a Town in Need of Heroes

When you're in Stafford, and you let it be known that you're looking for something valuable, magical, or unique, roll 1d8

1. The witch has it. You'd better have something equally valuable to offer in return.
2. You see that glint of light off the top of Orlock at dawn? That's where it is.
3. You hear lots of rumors about it, but they're contradictory and obscure.
4. The herd people can provide that, but you'll have to undertake the shaman's challenge to get it.
4. It's right here in town, hanging on the wall in the Mad Baron's tower. The Baron hasn't been seen in public for years, by the way, and some think he's a devil in disguise.
5. The goblins in the vents, they know!
6. Vance had it, but he went hunting up near the slime woods, and hasn't been seen in days. A local Ranger is willing to lead you to the spot, though.
7. That ghost that hantus the owlpines when the moon is new, she often whispers about that. No one's stupid enough to stick around to hear the details thought.
8. That? Oh you can't get that here. Try the next town up the road.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Of Chaos Gods and Hirelings

I’m running a (Apocalypse) D&D game for Phil, sometimes in person, sometimes over email. It’s a solo game and he’s playing a wizard, so that means he’s been employing a number of hirelings to help buff out his chances of survival.

I always try to make a game with hirelings interesting. I don’t know how this matches the way other people run things, but I generally make my hirelings simple but dynamic people. I think of them as an interesting sub-plot that may occasionally take center stage. I don’t want to give the players too much grief via their hirelings, but I don’t want hirelings to be faceless minions either. Apocalypse D&D helps, because I’ve added in a couple of moves about working with hirelings (that’s another post, though).

So in his first foray, Suten Anu, the mysterious foreign wizard, engaged Mandle, a good-hearted farm boy, Tanga, a tough-yet-vulnerable fighting woman, and Roberto, a rather acquisitive thief. In the first adventure, Tanga emerged as a fearless warrior, Roberto grumbled continually about wanting more money, and Roberto Mandle died unceremoniously when a crossbow quarrel pierced his breastbone.

Back in town, Suten Anu spent considerable time and expense trying to make good with Mandle’s family (above and beyond the call of duty for a mere hireling), showing some of his better qualities. In town, we also got a glimpse of Roberto’s rather high-living lifestyle. No wonder he’s always after more money!

Suten Anu also hired Tartarus the Cleric, an old friend of Tangas. Tartarus finds the idleness of temple work a burden, and wants to escape his rather acrimonious marriage, giving him the perfect reason to go adventuring.

In their second Foray, Tanga discovered the dark lure of Chaos magic, which she embraced rather wholeheartedly, alarming Suten Anu extremely (also, it resulting in him growing a third eye in his forehead). The second foray ended rather abruptly, with Tartarus dragging Suten’s nigh-lifeless body back to town, but at least everyone survived and the undead were put down permanently.

Now Suten is getting ready for his third adventure. He’s gotten Tanga to foreswear chaos magic, but he had to promise to retrieve her father’s bones to get her to do it. They’re also joined by Rhackam, a rather shady Ranger character with a few secrets to tell.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010


The bottomless pit? It's not actually bottomless. But people think it is. So they throw things they want to forget, or to stay forgotten, into the pit. Diaries, evidence, keepsakes, gifts from dead lovers, accursed knicknacks, bodies. But the thing at the bottom of the pit keeps them all. You see, it's forgotten as well. And where you have a flow of things from remembered to forgotten, you've got to have a flow the other way too. So while all those things keep falling down the pit to be forgotten, the Thing is starting to be remembered. Right now it's only half-remembered dreams, lunatic ravings, and vague untracable rumors, but they are getting stronger. When the Thing is enough remembered, it will climb up out of the pit and there will be reckoning then.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

June Compilation

Whew! It's blazingly hot here (for Seattle), and my brain is barely functioning.

The June microdungeon compilation is ready, thanks to The Fantasy Cartographic!



Ronald is a curious dungeon, given to bouts of dyspepsia. Steadfast and loyal, Ronald should not be attempted without a quantity of iron spikes.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Art Preview!

I'm looking at the cover preview for an upcoming project, and it's extremely awesome!

Click to see the full image
This is an early preview of the cover for my Purple Worm Graveyard module. Eugene Jaworski is the artist. I think his old-school aesthetic is perfect for it. Plus he really knows how to draw monsters! Ed Heil is doing the interior artwork. I can't express how awesome it is to be able to hire professional artists. The work they do is pure magic.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Magical Research

I have always been fascinated with the idea of magical research, but no D&D campaign I've played in has really done it justice. Some flavors of D&D give rules for crafting magic items, but that doesn't do it for me. I want magic to have mystery, power, and unpredictability.

Here's a magical research move. It's totally stolen from Vincent's Savvyhead rules for Apocalypse World. I don't invent, I steal.

When you go into an arcane library, laboratory, and workspace trying to get to the bottom of something or make something magical, tell the DM what you want. The DM will answer "Sure, no problem, but..."

  • It's going to take days/hours/weeks/months of work

  • First you have to acqurie _____ (magical reagent)

  • You need some information you can get from ____

  • You're going to need ______'s help with it

  • It's going to cost you a lot of money

  • It's going to mean exposing yourself (and maybe others) to significant danger

  • You're going to have to take _____ apart to do it

For easy stuff, pick just one.
For medium stuff, pick one AND another OR another.
For seriously hard stuff, it's one AND another AND yet another.

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The Bogswan

They call him the Mayor of Bogswan. He lives in the domed triangular building just near the Bogslum gate. He only comes out at night, because of the crowds and stone throwing that haunt him by day. He's a sad creature, a half-medusa minotaur (don't ask him about his parents, you'll wish you hadn't). His body lacks the strength of his minotaur brethren. He does, however, retain the Medusa's intelligence and affinity for spellcasting. They say he's working on something in there-potent magical research. But whether he aims to cure his twisted shape or revenge himself on the city is a matter of speculation.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Ball of Confusion

When you start an adventure in the Ball of Confusion, do so without any preamble. Describe the scene, something like this: "You are in a winding, stone corridor about 8' in diameter. It's undulating curve has an organic look about it. The corridor extends to the reach of your light North and South."

The players may ask as many questions as they want about how they came to be here, and what it all means, but they will only get one answer per area of the dungeon explored. Take careful note of the questions they ask. You may answer questions as you like. They may suddenly remember how they go here, or their god may provide insight, or maybe they find a clue. Make up the answers as you go.

I've never tried running a dungeon this way. It might be a recipe for a great adventure or a terrible one!

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Don't go back to Rockston

Sometimes the people of the swamp region and surrounding environs need you to do things for them. They send you on missions to retrieve lost items, seek out dangerous bandits, and slay insidious monsters. But they never send you to Rockston. There are no adventure hooks leading that way, no tomes of lore about its origin, and no wild-eyed survivors telling tales of what they saw there. This silence and mystery only makes the place more compelling until you set out to find out once and for all what hides behind the eerie silence of Rockston.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Witch of Heartbreak Square

When you present yourself at the tower, asking the Witch to perform a service for you, roll 2d6 plus your charisma bonus.

On a 7-9, choose 1 from the list. On a 10+, choose 3:

The witch performs the service you desire
She doesn't take a dangerous fancy to you
She doesn't look through your eyes into your inmost soul
She doesn't ask you to retrieve Mordante's clockwork heart first

Note that the Rune Tree is also willing to perform similar services, but always demands a sacrifice of some sort before performing it.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dungeon World

So someone hacked my hack of the game I'm hacking. I've been working on this Apocalypse D&D thing for a while, mashing together Vincent Baker's Apocalypse World with AD&D. Sage just took the thing and ran with it, making it a whole generation better. His version, Dungeon World is here. And to make it even better, he's taking it with him to Gen Con to run for folks! Good luck, Sage!

edit link fixed!

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Jaquay Dungeons

A link on Jeff's Gameblog pointed me to this article on Jaquaying the Dungeon. I'm not familiar with Paul Jaquay's work, and now I'm really sad that I haven't seen more of it. He's obviously dedicated to pushing the art of dungeon design to new lengths. The bandit caves showcased in the article are spectacular. Must read more!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Magic Eight Ball

Adrienne collects magic eight balls, so this one is for her. Hi Adrienne!

And now, an insidious magic item for your campaign:

That Accursed Eight Ball

The Magic Eight Ball is an item with a storied history, associated with great successes and mishaps throughout history.

When you consult the Magic Eight Ball about some action, roll 1d8.
  1. "Outlook Bad" Receive -1 to your next dice roll

  2. "Yes" Character receives +1 to dice rolls as though under the effect of a bless spell

  3. "No" The next significant action the PCs attempt will fail if it is at all reasonable for failure to occur.

  4. "Absolutely" The next time the PCs attempt something dangerous, their attempt will fail in an unreasonable and apparently random fashion, as though someone had cast a wish spell to bring the failure about.

  5. "Death" The consulting character immediately drops to 0 HP.

  6. "Kaboom" The Eight Ball explodes, causing 3d6 to anyone close. The Eight Ball will appear again in another dungeon 1d100 miles away soon after.

  7. "Answer unclear" Nothing happens. For the next 1d20 hours, this is the only answer that can be obtained from the Eight Ball

  8. "Ask again" Character receives -1 (cumulative) to next dice roll, plus effects of any future Eight Ball rolls.

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