Saturday, August 20, 2011

Swords and Wizardry White Box City Campaign: The Entrance to Hollowheim

RECAP from 8/19/2011 S&W Session

We played Swords and Wizardry White Box last night at Scadgrad's house since we were missing too many key players to continue in G2 Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl in our usual Friday night Labyrinth Lord Game. It was the same campaign I played in a few times at Gen Con in the Devil's Breakfast Table neighborhood (a really rough part of town) as the Weaselly Ferrets gang with a slightly different cast of characters. The events take place in a large city setting that is heavily influenced by Warhammer Fantasy Role Playing's default setting (flint lock firearms, chaos enemies, Skaven, Beast Men etc.).  It was a blast like before at Gen Con and below are the hilarious and gruesome results.

A contingent from the Weaselly Ferrets Gang consisting of Franzen Conner the Cleric, Vortigern the Wizard, and his henchman Snit the halfling (amongst others), descended into the depths of the Sikorsky Delve (SPOILER ALERT - this is actually Dyson's Delve modified for the setting) and retrieved a huge sum of loot which was distributed afterwards to those present and a generous cut was given to the two bosses in the interest of full disclosure. 10% was given to Big Slick, our Ogre boss, and 10% was given to the Big Boss Oranishi (also an Ogre) so that they wouldn't think we were holding out on them (which could have gotten us concrete galoshes). We also discovered what we think is the entrance to Hollowheim which was a set of stairs leading down from the Arch Wizard Sikorsky's abandoned lab which is where a good portion of the loot was found. Following is a brief recap of events:

The group descended through the abandoned tenement and into the sewers without a hitch after evicting a few homeless vagabonds from the tenement while en-route. When we descended into the first level, we encountered a large group of Skaven accompanied by two Storm Vermin which we quickly overcame. We descended the stairs to the next level below. The halflings were scouting ahead of the group (we had another one now) and when they got to the intersection where we had previously fought the fire beetles, they were attacked by four of the tough chitinous critters. The halflings tried to flee back to the group but were caught in the hallway by the beetles and a fierce melee ensued. The beetles were dispatched and then we searched their lair (the room with all of the junk in it) and found a locked coffer with 2000 g.p.!

We went back out into the hall and instead of heading back to where the other group had fought the Skaven, slave rats and Storm Vermin, we went the other way instead (down the left hand hallway). We opened a door in that area and were attacked by an old Skaven Sorcerer! He zapped a couple of the front line guys with some kind of lightning spell and we pounced on him and killed him. He had some loot and a +1 suit of halfling sized leather armor that went to Snit. We also fought a large group of giant rats which were quickly overcome and went through a temple which had been re-dedicated to a Skaven god. There were bodies impaled on pikes all over the place. We went back into the hallway and it led to steps down! We went down to the third level and ended up in a catacomb with niches every so often that held old mouldering and dessicated bodies. We searched them methodically and found a large sum of loot in one and lesser sums in several others (we searched about eight of them) and also found a secret door in one of the catacomb burial niches. While searching a few of the last niches, we were attacked by four ghouls. Since we had three clerics in the group, they had no problem turning the ghouls and we decided to head into the secret door before they returned.

The secret door turned out to lead into a tunnel that went on for about a half of a mile. At the end we found the Arch Wizard Sikorsky's lab! There was all kinds of equipment all over the place and two tables. One table had what looked like some kind of watermelon like pod thing on it and the other had a similar pod that had been opened and was empty. Then we were attacked by a spider like crab critter that was hiding under the table that looked like the thing in the first Alien movie! (This was actually a Xenomorph Face Hugger from Digital Orc's Blog) As it attacked, the other pod opened up and another one attacked Snit too! As the first one attacked, its victim tried to disengage from melee but it was way too fast for him and scurried after him along the ground like a crab on crack - there was no escaping these nasty little tick like parasites!  We were horrified at the prospect of what would be birthed from our stomachs should they attach to our faces so we did our best to defeat them as quickly as possible.  We killed them fairly quickly (in one round really) but they sprayed us with acid as they died and a couple of our weapons got damaged and were useless (they required repairs) and snit and the other fighter henchman got burned badly as well.

Then we searched the room and found 4,000 g.p. and a nice stash of gems including five that were worth 500 g.p. each! That was a major jackpot. We also found stairs leading down through the door on the other side of the room which we presume is the long hidden entrance to Hollowheim! Hollowheim is the massive and ancient dungeon below the city, that was previously only accessible from several other gang's turf. If our assumption is correct, it can now be accessed from Weaselly Ferret turf for the first time! In the interest of full disclosure, we told both bosses about our discovery but nobody else outside of the gang.

Afterwards, we threw a big block party for our little four block area to try and win over some local support with our new found wealth. The next day as we were recovering from our revelries, we were summoned to Big Slick's office where he promptly told us that Goldfag was a problem and should be dealt with at our earliest convenience (meaning immediately). Goldfag was the Ogre mercenary who originally told us where the entrance to the Sikorsky Delve was, and that it probably contained an entrance to Hollowheim. Obviously, the bosses thought this was a problem now and decided that he needed to be permanently silenced lest others discover our new found secret. We consulted our information sources and found out where he was likely to be found and where he was last seen.  We then went out into another portion of our big boss's territory that was outside of the Weaselly Ferret's turf and beyond our four block area of control to look for him. We found him arguing with a street merchant over the price and quality of goods he had eaten and was refusing to pay for. One of our hirelings decided to talk to them in an attempt to try and mediate the dispute while the others maintained a low profile elsewhere on the block.

The fighter hireling and our other wizard offered to buy him a drink and he gladly accepted so they headed off to a tavern. We quietly slipped in, two at a time to avoid his notice but he was obviously suspicious of the offer. While he was greedily gulping down his ale and ordering food to try and make the most out of his benefactor's offer, one of our compatriots just outright clocked a nearby bystander and started a huge brawl. Most of the women and others that didn't want to get involved fled out the door, but a good twelve or so tavern goers, along with our group of 9 thugs got into a robust tavern brawl complete with breaking chairs and mugs over each other's heads and general fisticuffs - it was a downright donnybrook! One of the tavern wenches went outside and blew a whistle to summon the city guard as well.

In two rounds, we slowly managed to coerce the brawl into Goldfag's direction while he was still eating and drinking at his table and then we let him have it! Two of our group fired their flint locks at him but both missed (and one accidentally killed our fighter henchman that had started up the conversation with him), the two wizards fired magic missiles at him and Snit threw a dagger at him as well wounding him badly. He struck back hard though and walluped one of our number before we finally jumped him with daggers and rapiers and dispatched him. Meanwhile, the bartender had pulled out an blunderbuss to keep people from trying to rob him in the brawl and once we started attacking the fat ogre, he let us have it and killed the other halfing hireling with his gun (not Snit, the other one). With our foe dead and two of our henchman also lying on the floor in pools of blood and obviously no longer with us, we beat a hasty retreat back to our turf before the city guard showed up. The GM told us aftewards that the bartender was actually a 5th level fighter and not one we wanted to tangle with so much.  And that's where we ended the session...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

GEN CON Indy 2011 Wrap Up...

Well, I went to Gen Con in Indy a couple of weeks ago and had a blast.  Its only the second time I've ever gone and made the trip from Richmond with Scadgrad, our GM from our regular gaming group.  We met up with one of the guys in our online Averlorn game and a few of their friends in Indy.  I went to Gen Con once before in Milwaukee back in the mid nineties while I was freelancing for ICE and had a blast then too.  During that time, I played in a bunch of RPG events, acted as an assistant GM for ICE for a few of their Rolemaster RPG events and manned the ICE booth several times to help them out which was really cool and added a lot to the experience.  

I have to say that Gen Con 2011 was very crowded but there was lots of stuff to do, things to see, things to buy and games to be played.  I signed up kind of late so missed out on most of the good game events but did manage to get into a few good seminars.  One seminar was put on by the guys from Xtreme Dungeon Mastery and it was hilarious - I haven't read their book yet but Tony tells me it is quite good.  It was all about throwing out the rule book when necessary, and doing what you have to do to have fun in the game which is, after all, the whole point of playing any game.

We also went to the PDF Publishing Seminar put on by Wolfgang Baur, Steve Russell from Rite Publishing and I think the third guy was from Super Genius Games but I didn't write his name down.  Tony and I went to this seminar because we have been contemplating doing some self published PDFs for a while now (he's an artist and graphic designer and a very good and creative GM and I'm a published game artist, architect and amateur writer) and wanted to get a bit of info on how to go about it and what's involved.  What amazed me from the seminar is that there are people out there (like Steve Russell among others) who actually publish PDF RPG products for a living.  They have actually turned this pursuit into a viable business and a full time job!  I never even thought that was possible but it is an interesting revelation.  They talked about all kinds of aspects of PDF publishing like frequency of publication (weekly, monthly or whatever), turning your PDFs into actual printed works through print on demand verses larger publishing runs, business aspects such as legal protection of your personal assets by setting up an LLC, accounting issues (don't overlook this important aspect of the business), price points for the sale of your product, marketing, subscription models, and distribution platforms such as Drive Thru RPG and the IPR (for Indy games) among others.  All in all it was a very insightful, informative, and well done presentation.

Joseph Browning at The OSR Booth
We also went on our daily tours of the convention floor and auction hall and visited all kinds of booths in search of  new or used game products, dice, and gaming accessories or to find out about all of the cool new games being published or produced which was a lot of fun.  I spent a lot of time at the OSR booth and checked out a bunch of new games and products from a number of established publishers and some newer ones as well.  I also had the opportunity to meet Joseph Browning of Expeditious Retreat Press.  We played through one of his modules in our Averlorn Campaign - you can read the recaps here: The Barrow Mound of Gravemoor.  Several of the guys bought new board games and we tried them out in the hotel room or the public areas of the hotel.  We also had a chance to play Swords and Wizardry White Box a few times and I have to say, I was impressed with it.  It was a lot of fun and seriously simple to play rules wise.  I was a bit skeptical about playing a 0E system at first but once you get over that and realize how easy it is, it really makes the game play fast, so we managed to get a lot done in only a few sessions.  Plus character creation is a breeze - we had new characters up and running in about 15-20 minutes.

I also spent some time networking and scouting out game companies in an effort to find some cartography work and met some really cool people in the RPG business.  I even ran into a few old friends from back in the ICE days.  All in all it was a lot of fun and I would really like to go again in the future if possible. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

ICE Merp Layouts from the Palantir Quest and Minas Tirith Modules

The first ICE MERP 2nd Edition modules that I did artwork for starting in March of 1994 were the Palantir Quest adventure module and the city module for Minas Tirith.  I was just developing my drawing style at this point and the CAD drawings weren't as nice as the first hand drawn ones so I'm posting the hand drawings here now for this blog post.  I may post some of the CAD drawings from this module at a later date along with some of the other hand drawn illustrations that aren't shown here.  The coolest one of the bunch has to be the town of Larach Duhnnan map that I drew by hand for the Palantir Quest.  I remember spending a lot of time on this one and it shows (there's a lot of ink on the page).

The Town of Larach Duhnnan Map from ICE's MERP 2nd Edition module for the Palantir Quest

The next illustration is also from the Palantir Quest and depicts an architectural floor plan of the ruins of the Royal Library at Annuminas.  The ruined portions are represented by the dash-dot line hatch and the intact portions are represented as solid walls by the black poche (the solid black fill).  Again, there is no text on these pre-press layouts as it was added later for the area/room keys, the graphic scale, the north arrow and the legend which is typical of most of these scans.

Palantir Quest ruins of the Royal Library at Annuminas

The final drawing I'm posting here from the Palantir Quest is the Smuggler's Cave and Lake Town hideaway where some important clues for completing the quest are located.  Note the larger scale waterfront lake town location map at the top and the close up view of the Ruins and Smuggler's Cave below.

Palantir Quest Lake Town Smuggler's Cave and ruins with water front site plan

All of these layouts were drawn using ink on vellum which was my usual medium for the hand drawn illustrations that I did back then.  The next illustrations were done for the MERP Minas Tirith Module.  I did quite a few more city dwellings and other structures for that module but these were the two nicest ones of the bunch.

Minas Tirith Walled Manor House

The final layout in this series is an upscale dwelling with a pool on the first floor and elaborate rooftop gardens above the second floor accessed from the spiral staircase.  I did a number of other simpler dwellings for this module but none quite as elaborate or interesting as these two.

Minas Tirith upscale dwelling

Copyright notice:  All original artwork on this page is displayed for self promotion purposes only and is copyrighted by the original artist, Daniel Cruger.  This artwork may be downloaded and used for personal use only and may not be reproduced for commercial purposes in any way without the express written consent of the owner.