Monday, 28 February 2011

Arkham Horror - Arkham Busters

I just wanted to throw up a quick post of some other homebrew gaming stuff I've made; stuff for the Arkham Horror boardgame. Once I started playing this game I was hooked. Got myself a couple of the expansions, lurked the Fantasy Flight forums, and downloaded a copy of Strange Eons, which is a free custom Arkham Horror content designing program. Major kudos to the designer of it.

After playing around with it for a bit I decided to make a couple things based off of one of my favorite franchises: Ghostbusters! I find that the Lovecraft Mythos and Ghostbusters just go together so well. I've made a literal butt-load of "Arkham Busters" stuff and I've made tons of stuff based on Clive Barker's Undying and the Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth video games.

But I'm only going to post two "Arkham Busters" material. Mostly because I've worked on these long enough to consider them complete. Someday I'll get around to play testing them thoroughly and posting them up on FF forums for peer review. Until then, enjoy.

My very first component, an Ancient One, I present to you: Gozer the Gozerian!

And the main villain from the underrated sequel in my opinion: Vigo, Scourge of Carpathia as a Herald!

Please leave any Questions, Comments, Critiques.

Splitting the Party, Part 1

It tends to be something that GM's and players alike playing tabletop RPG's tend to avoid like the Rakghoul plague: Splitting the party.

There are numerous reasons why this is considered taboo, both between player's and their GM's and I'm going to brush upon most of these in turn as this past month I've had deal with a few of them and I just wanted to post my thought's.

From the GM's standpoint this can cause balance issues; primarily with set encounters and degrees of appropriate challenge. A simple example would be an encounter geared towards a party of X PC's is stumbled upon by a group half that number or less. Aside from the obvious concern of it being more challenging and potentially dangerous for the PC's (which can easily be corrected by a GM who can scale the encounter on the fly, we'll get more into that later.) the PC's who overcome the challenge on their own are the only ones who get to reap the rewards of XP and/or loot. The loot can be divided amongst the entire party, (provided you have generous PC's) but XP and other non-tangible rewards are a little more tricky. Essentially you can try to balance it out by providing an separate encounter for the other party members with equal rewards sometime in the future but this can lead into our next concern:

Aside from the possible challenge/balance issue that might arise, there is also the concern of keeping your players' included and entertained. Unless any/all of your divided PC's are participating simultaneously in an encounter of their own or are able to join an encounter soon, you run the risk of them getting bored/feeling useless. I've seen that there are three basic obstacles when it comes to getting one or more PC's to join a encounter already in progress: Communication, Distance, & Time. And all three of them intertwine.

Communication: Unless one group of PC's is within sight and/or earshot of another, a means of communication between said groups must be made to establish concerns, alertness, and any pertinent information such as...

Distance: How physically far way one group is from another can be crucial if one group wants to aid the other or wants aid. If the distance is too great, they might not be able to render any assistance. This factor leads into...

Time: Once distance had been established, the amount of time it takes to traverse that distance is crucial. If it takes too long, help not arrive till combat is over, for better or worse.

Now, I'm going to mention a few short examples based on the Dungeon & Dragons and Star Wars Saga Edition games I run.

Ravenloft is a fantasy style game that places greater emphasis upon party Communication. Aside from magic and the like, methods of Communicating over distance in nearly all medieval fantasy games find direct parallels in history. Mounted messengers, lights, smoke signals, drums, homing pigeons, flags, horns, etc. The examples are limitless and though possibly impractical, they can be very useful to savvy players that want to keep in touch. Communication does not need to be limited to near-instantaneous spells and slower primitive methods; it could be something communicated ahead of time. An example being: "If I don't return in 10 minutes, come looking for me." Or "We will meet you at the Crossroads on the 8th Day, else we've run into trouble in the town."

Now, we've established that communication is key, but Distance and Time must be taken into consideration with this information. This has greater importance in more modern or futuristic RPGs. As Communication becomes more prevalent, the distances between communicating parties tend to become greater in turn, a result of the level of technology. PC's in Fantasy RPG's tend to stay within close range of each other for several reasons, one of the being communication difficulties. In Sci-Fi games where the ability to both communicate and traverse immense distances at nearly the speed of light is possible, the limitless size of a galaxy doesn't seem to be really that grand at all.

But don't think that in the future these basic rules don't apply! Communication, Distance, and Time still matter, and now there's a higher chance that though Communication may be established in an instant, the Distance to traverse and the Time it would take to do so might be greater in comparison! Plus if one doesn't have the chance to pick up the Comlink and radio your buds across town, don't expect help to arrive any sooner. ;)

Wow, I've written a lot more than I was expecting I would. So I'm going to split this up into parts. The next part I'll go into how splitting the party isn't necessarily a bad thing if handled correctly.

The Scriblings of a Scribe II

Excerpts from the notes of Archivist Tim, Friar of the Order of Ehlonna

Barovian Date: 31st of the 10th Moon

...Our route led to the town of Barovia, in the nation of the same name. The road was clear, but poorly maintained – the stone statues marking the edge of the land were cracked and broken when we chanced upon them. A quick pause saw them mended towards a semblance of their former glory.

...We have picked up a knight who calls himself Draven Steele. He has a queer pet raven that follows him everywhere, and seems to understand simple commands. Draven claims to be from Barovia, a member of a knightly order called the “Order of the Raven”. The orc-man's name, apparently, is Thorax (Thorex? Not quite sure, and the bloke can't spell it for me, of course). The orc-man is full of wild claims of his past deeds, from dragon slaying to being a formidable foe of undead creatures. We shall have to see how he measures up.

… We entered the town of Barovia today, and saw firsthand the devastation there. Buildings torn apart and burned, livestock dead in the streets. On our way deeper into the town in search of survivors, we encountered several groups of undead, and quickly confirmed the old adage that waters properly blessed will hurt the foul creatures – weapons can also be doused in the holy waters for extra effect. Some other preconceptions were shattered though: several of the zombies were still intelligent enough that they could cast (or perhaps, their malignant creator could cast through them?) spells such as “Hold Person”, and their bodies were far more durable than the fables would have us believe. The roaming packs of zombies were sometimes accompanied by other creatures, including foul Carcass Eaters (a type of diseased carrion-eating canine) that tried to feed on the living since all the slain rose again as undead. Other groups were accompanied by the dreaded Varghoulis (reanimated skulls that fly on leathery wings and screech with the powers of hell at their command).

The battles on the way into the town illustrated the classic orcish tendency towards exaggeration and bravado, but also showed that while the Order of the Raven may teach its members powerful skills for the use against undead, they were far less prepared to deal with non-undead abominations and extra-planar outsiders.

We found that the remaining villagers had fortified the town square, and were under active attack when we won through to them. A powerful creature called an Entomber (an undead that can seemingly bury the living alive with a touch) lead the assault, and worked its foul magicks on the orc-man before we could defeat it. We saw the orc-man claw his way back out of the ground however, and hope that he, too, is not now undead.

The town was being defended by Ashlynn, a human paladin of Ayailla (Aye-all-ah), who had arrived with two now-missing companions to search for the legendary Sunsword, a blade said to hold great powers against evil and undead creatures – those that wizards claim are animated by “negative energy”. (Their talk of negative energy is absurd! There is only energy or its relative absence – it cannot exist in reverse, or it would simply be indicative of movement in the opposite direction! In any rate, I leave these debates for elsewhere, as libraries are filled already with discourse on this subject.)

...Tavern talk of the guild known as the “Lightbringers” tonight. They are a group of allied undead-fighters, loosely affiliated with a number of different churches. They operate in Barovia, too, as Ashlynn's presence proves, but in numbers far too few to stem the tides of darkness currently flowing in this land.

...A patron who claims to the son of the now-deceased Burgomaster (a minor noble title in these parts, equivalent to a Baron or Knight with title over the town and its taxes, it seems) talked to us about the Burgomaster's death after he refused to bend the knee to Strahd Von Zarovich the XI, following 20 years of peace where the lord did not make any demands beyond token annual taxes. Troubling. If what he says is true, then the missive that summoned us here in the name of the Burgomaster could not have been written by him, and his son claims ignorance of the matter. So......who troubled to write the missive, and who managed to get the word out of Barovia to us – and how, since the town has been under siege for more than a week already!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Scribblings of a Scribe I

Excerpts from the notes of Archivist Tim, Friar of the Order of Ehlonna

Barovian Date: 30th of the 10th Moon

...While passing an evening at an inn after my last adventures, I witnessed a strange encounter: a tall, swarthy man, dressed finely for travel, burst into the common room where I and others supped, and chose a mangy barbarian (who seemed to have more than just a smattering of orcish blood in his veins) to deliver a sealed missive, then immediately departed. As the poor sod could not read, I offered my services, and thus found myself invited along for an attempt to assist a village besieged by the undead.


Alright my first blog post. It's been a while since I've had updated on any form of interwebs, so I'm a little rusty. I'm also kinda tired right now. But I know I had several reasons why I wanted to start up a blog, I will try to recall them as follows, although note, they are not in any semblance of order:

  1. I just turned 26 this month. Had a great b-day. For some reason I was compelled to funnel my creativity into another outlet. I'm creative, but not in a practical-I-can-earn-a-living-with-this kind of way. (At least not yet.) Just wanted to find another way to expand/express I guess. I have tons of hobbies and I'm always creating something in one form or another. I figured a blog would help me chronicle these things.  
  2. I am currently running two (2) table top RPGs right now. A Star Wars Saga Edition game and a 3.5 Edition D&D Expedition to Castle Ravenloft game. One of my player's in the Ravenloft game has been writing a meticulous in-game journal. I found this awesome, as it gives his own unique perspective of the story that I believe needs to be posted and updated somewhere for all (those interested) to see. Also, I'd like to have a place to throw up my house rules/homebrew stuff I make up. This will also go beyond just these games.
  3. My thoughts. First of all, I'm going to avoid treating this blog like a personal diary. Seems like everyone had one of those back in the day, and seriously who wants to read that crap? While, yes, this is MY blog and I'm going to write about whatever I find interesting, but I'm hoping to write about stuff that other people will find interesting. So I'll be plugging my interests and sharing them and hoping that those following me may share their own interests.
  4. Lately I've started listening to podcasts and reading several other people's blogs. A lot of my time is spend on the computer; most of my life in fact; but thinking about it I've been reading/hearing others' thoughts and whatnot so much I wanted have my own little slice of the interwebs. Maybe this lesser form of web publishing may lead into something greater. Maybe not. An experiment if you will.
  5. ... I'm sure I had a few more reasons, but they elude me. I'll post them up if I ever remember them.
 That's all for now folks. I look forward to posting a better write up in the future, but this will have to do for now.

I think I'll post up a bit of "Tim's" notes to kick this blog off proper!