Archive for my game

Hedge-trimming, and other exciting events in my life.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 23, 2012 by reignofjotuns

I may finally have some money soon. I’m being paid $200 to trim the hedges around my grandparents’ house. I’ve already worked out most of my shopping list; Carcosa, Vornheim, Classic Traveller books 1-3 reprint, Classic Traveller supplements 1-13 reprint. That leaves me about 70 dollars, which I may or may not spend on OSRIC. I really want Carcosa and Vornheim, but I don’t want to pay the shipping rates from Finland, and seeing a price tag in euros really puts me off for some reason (patriotism?). I’m bypassing these problems by ordering from Amazon and Indie Press Revolution, respectively. I considered buying Traveller books 0-8 instead, but decided against it. I have little interest in the advanced character creation rules, limited funds, and a good deal of doubt about that long paperback format. If I had to choose between Book 4: Mercenary and Supplement 4: Citizens of the Imperium, it wouldn’t take me long.

In less rampantly consumerist news, my first try at running Mutant Future may or may not happen tomorrow. I’m going to go with the tried-and-true flyers in the bookstore method if necessary, but I decided to first try digging through all our old Memphis-area homeschooler contacts and see if anyone wants to play. If I don’t get a good group tomorrow, I’ll go ahead and try to meet new people (not that I know the people I’m inviting first that well anyway).

20 Questions

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 25, 2012 by reignofjotuns

Twenty questions to sum up the Northern Shore rules

1) Ability scores generation method? I’d love to be an incredible stickler for 3d6 in order- but alas, the folly of youth- when it gets right down to it, I’m a big softy. Don’t count on it though- I’d rather soften the blow of a 3-6-5-4-8-13 by doing away with stat bonuses entirely than by letting you re-roll.

2) How are death and dying handled? Ha ha! Deadface McDeaderpants!

3) What about raising the dead? It is possible… …But the casting ritual is incredibly esoteric, not just something you get at a certain level. Esoteric rituals like that can be cast by anybody, regardless of level or even class… …if you can find anyone who’ll teach them to you.

There are a couple of Miracle Maxes around who might cast them for you… …if you can find one. It is possible to find them… …but the rituals require incredibly hard-to-get ingredients that can only be got by extensive questing.

However, you are adventurers… …more of whom are likely to be killed on the way. You get a free frogurt… …which also requires questing to retrieve.

You do get your choice of toppings… …but the toppings are on the other side of a magical river. Magical river doesn’t sound too hard to get past…

…except that the current is strong enough to turn your butt inside out, the water’s so acidic it’ll dissolve any boat you put in it, the only bridge is a trap, and the water’s brimming with electric eeeels! So, you can raise the dead, but you won’t get toppings on your frogurt.

4) How are replacement PCs handled? Back at town… “Oh look, it’s a new guy.” “Hey new guy!”

5) Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Roll d6 for each side, high roll goes first, each side goes in whatever order it wants. Re-roll every turn.

6) Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? Roll a 1, automatic miss. Roll a 20, automatic hit. I won’t penalize you for the 1 unless you’re trying to do something ridiculous, like attack with flaming nunchucks, or jump kick on a log bridge.

7) Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? Usually the situation is that you get penalties for NOT wearing a helmet. Example: rocks fall, you save or fall unconscious.

8) Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? Firing into melee, not so much unless you’re in really cramped conditions. I assume that your character is competent enough for me to say, “hey, these conditions are really cramped”, and let you rethink your action before you point-blank headshot your cleric.

As for silly things, it depends how silly- If you try to get a minotaur to calm down by playing the flute (my sister actually did this, before my change to ‘tough-love’ DMing had really sunk in. Lucky she was first level), that will usually get YOU killed. Hum the ‘Mission: Impossible’ theme song while the rest of the party is trying to sneak, get everyone killed.

9) Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? Flee, weaklings! Flee, and know that you are mere mortals opposed to the Dungeon Master!

10) Level-draining monsters: yes or no? Yes. Fuck yes.

11) Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? I have something called the “Basilisks, Charm Person spells, Snakes, Spiders, Poisoned Weapons, Tainted Water, Smallpox, Death Rays, Dragon Breath, Gorgons, Catoblepas/Nekrozons, Traps, and Hypothermia Clause” (BCPSSSPWTWSDRDBGC/NTaHC), which basically says “Probably not. Let your guard down.”

12) How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? I’ll audit you once in a while. If your backpack doesn’t add up, I apply the appropriate penalty until the next audit, regardless of how much gear you drop before then.

13) What’s required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time? I give experience for treasure, mostly, which has to be retrieved to a relatively secure location before I add it to your total. Then you just level up, no fuss.

14) What do I get experience for? Treasure, spending said treasure. Don’t complain about not getting any from monsters- I don’t like the paperwork that brings.

15) How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? Description.

16) Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? I roll morale when the first PC dies, when the party is reduced to half of the size it had when it first set out, and whenever anything else incredibly terrifying happens. You can get retainers, and I think they’re awesome, but in all fairness- it will be hard to find someone willing to go into dungeons with you. The most likely source is making alliances with the rare ‘friendly’ ‘monsters’.

17) How do I identify magic items? Consult a sage, oracle, demon, etc. A good weaponsmith will have a few tests that can reveal the general quality of a weapon. ‘Detect Magic’ will reveal whether rings, wands, rods, staves, necklaces, and the like are magical, but it won’t reveal what they do. Most magic weapons and armor won’t even be revealed by ‘Detect Magic’, simply being

A~ extremely well made (+1 – +3),

B~ made out of some unusual material like demon’s blood, dragon scales, or tungsten carbide (+2 – +4), or

C~in some other way unique, such as having been cooled in the blood of priests/murderers/children, or ‘an old-sword of giants, with edge impenetrable’ (+2 – +5). Some of them get their powers from simple spellwork, but really, how lame would that be?

18) Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? You can trade them, buy them off of giants or demons, or make your own. Sorry, even potions.

19) Can I create magic items? When and how? You want to make magic weapons? Oh, you’re a feisty one aren’t you? A real awesome force in the campaign? First you’ll need to learn how. This is the hard bit- weaponsmiths guard their secrets jealously, and you’d be lucky to forge a +1 sword even if you were trained by the greatest. Besides, if you want a great sword, you’ll need a better material than mere steel. And who’s going to teach you how to work with obsidian, diamonds, or demon’s blood? No one you can look up in the phone book. It will take a lot of work, but you can learn the skill necessary. You can just come up with the concept and get somebody else to make it, but you’ll still need at least basic weaponsmithing skill, and knowledge of theory.

Now, come up with a concept. This bit is simpler. Maybe you study ancient tomes and examine ancient weapons- in other words, the boring way. Maybe you find a master in the art beat his secrets out of him (it would be a lot nicer to pay him, you thug!)- in other words, the cheaty way. Maybe you spend a lot of time thinking about swords, doing katas with regular swords, and then smoking/snorting exotic substances (flowers, lycanthrope pelt, weeds) while meditating on the subject- in other words, the unreliable way.

Maybe the idea just falls into your lap- you break your sword on a rock, suddenly the rock gets struck by lightning, splits, and gems fall out, and you think, “I’ll just make a new sword out of these”- in other words, the lazy way. It would probably be best to combine the methods. Remember not to waste too much on-screen time on it, and remember that I won’t make ideas fall into your lap if it doesn’t look like you’re trying.

Wands, staves, rings, rods, scrolls, potions, and miscellaneous items? Boring. Just make those pretty much according to standard rules, but if you want to go the effort you can probably invent some kind of ‘anything goes’ thing.

20) What about splitting the party? Sure. I can handle it. And in a play-by-post? Anyone can handle it.

Northern Shore House Rules

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 21, 2012 by reignofjotuns

Stats

Roll 3d6, in order, to generate scores.

The scores are not changed- instead, characters add the portions of their other scores which are above 9. Fighters use WIS 3-for-1, INT 2-for-1. Clerics use INT 2-for-1, STR 3-for-1. Magic-users use WIS 2-for-1. So, for example, a Fighter with STR 14, WIS 10, INT 15. His strength is 14, which would normally mean +5% experience, but he has an INT of 15. 15 means 6 points over 9. He uses INT on a 2-for-1 basis, so he treats his strength score as 3 points higher for experience purposes, giving him +10% instead. His scores are completely unchanged, as is his combat ability. he simply treats part of his INT as extra STR.

Prime requisite for fighters = STR + (WIS – 9) / 3 + (INT – 9) / 2. Read through that again and make sure you’ve got it.

Starting Gold

3d6 x 5, rather than x 10.

Classes

No weapon restrictions.

Backstabbing is usable by any character, rather than being exclusive to the thief class.

No class-based restrictions on hirelings.

Fighters do not have special options like paladin and avenger when they get to 9th level

Clerics do not have the option of becoming druids at 9th level. Instead, they choose at first level which spell list to cast from. Casting druid spells does not necessarily come with roleplaying restrictions.

Mystics not allowed.

Thieves are used as a base for any specially skilled adventurer. A player might substitute ‘tracking’ for ‘climb walls’ and ‘hunting’ for ‘open locks’ to play a ranger, for example. They may wear any armor, and have d6 hit dice.

Equipment

all weapons deal 1d6. Two-handed weapons deal 1d8. In certain situations, a weapon may deal double damage, such as a long weapon set against a charging beast, a long weapon used from horseback, or any weapon when catching an enemy unawares (backstabbing).

Experience

1 xp per gold piece won. 1 xp per gold piece spent on frivolous items.

Magic

Spell research typically requires no expenditure of gold pieces, just the necessary components.

‘anything goes’ magic is reachable, and usable by anybody, not just spellcasters. It is hard to get, though.

Other

Weapon Mastery not used.

General Skills not used.

Monsters

Reading through the monsters section will punish you. Revenant undead (vampire, draug, druj, wight, ghoul…) are all statted uniquely. Trolls do not necessarily regenerate, and if so, their weakness is not necessarily fire. Dragons are unique, not just cookie-cutter fire-breathing lizards. Words like ‘Hobgoblin’ do not refer to specific species, but are general terms.

Finally making some progress

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 10, 2012 by reignofjotuns

I’ve finally, after two weeks (total, not consecutive) of not doing anything on it, I’ve finished the first level of my dungeon. I’ve changed my plans a lot in the process- this is a lot of work, especially since, though I’m trying to make every encounter potentially deadly- I don’t want them to be utterly hopeless. I also don’t like most of the low-level monsters. They are mostly animals, or mooky humanoids. I can dig the benefits of potential allies in the dungeon, but I also don’t want to use any goblins except “The spooky magic kind with shrill voices that scare birds and eat babies and make terrible things happen to you if you tell lies or touch their weird magic tree”.

So I’ve resized the first level to one sheet of graph paper (with a second page for details), and tried to scale up the treasure a bit. I’ve also made most of the encounters deliberately wierd, puzzly, friendly, etc. And in doing so, I think that I’ve split open my psyche and lightly sprinkled the page with it. I’ll give some samples, to try to give an idea of the general character of the dungeon, but first, a note on humanoids:

As far as one-hit-diers go, I’ve stuck with kobolds and Phuka. I read a Grognardia post on the drow a while back, wherein Maliszewski points out that you scare your players more when you use things that scare you. After a bit of thinking, I came up with goats. I hate goats. I spent a month staying at the house of a friend whose family keeps goats, which served to reaffirm my fear of goats even more. They have wierd, sideways eyes. They smell like death. They excrete much more than seems necessary (I had to take a couple wheelbarrows full down the hill during my stay). And let us not forget Orcus.

Then I read this: http://flamingtales.blogspot.com/2010/05/phooka.html and it worked for me. Especially the Alan Lee illustration. I’m using these guys as a replacement for drow, gremlins, and orcs. I stat them as orcs, change the number appearing to match hobgoblins (they still keep the orc version of leader stats), and give their children stats as gremlins. I’m having them mostly use stone knives. When I was writing my dungeon, I saw that I had writ ‘Phuka’ instead of ‘Phooka’, and I’ve decided to just leave it like that.

The lair of Phuka on the first level is made up of three adjacent rooms, with one visible entrance and two secret. The lair is decorated by a human face, eyes, and tongue nailed to the wall.

My kobolds are at least partially based on the pikeys from Snatch. I’m calling them that, too. I like the word. They look like Hobbits/Daikini/Dwarfs in boots, with facial hair like Scottish Terriers. Their clan lives in a large, roughly carved room occupying 6 squares by 6 on the map. They live by petty theft on the surface or in the lower levels, selling equipment (stolen, looted from corpses, or bought) to anyone who’ll buy at substantially hiked prices, and occasionally eating the mushrooms growing in what I call ‘the waste room’.

The waste room is partially inspired by an episode of Planet Earth on caves- in one cave, the entire ecosystem relies on bats. The bats go out at night, eat and return. They poop in the cave. Massive swarms of cockroaches eat the poop, and are themselves eaten by other animals, including the bats. The waste room works much the same way, but add to the cockroaches ‘1d2 carrion crawlers and 3d6 telepathic fire beetles’. Also, the bats are huge and there are enormous mushrooms. The fire beetles, through telepathy, have formed a simple hive mind. They’re largely content to just burrow in the filth, though, so this won’t have much effect unless someone tries ‘charm person’ on a random beetle.

Speaking of random vermin- A small, out-of-the-way room containing 1d100 snails with silver shells. Yes, I stole this from Zak S. I did add that the snails are special, in that they eat precious metal and then excrete it with, if they choose, artistic precision. If the snails are in any way harmed, and any of them survive, and the PCs sleep in the dungeon, one of the PCs may wake up to find them trying to encase his face in several of his coins- or simply suffocate without waking up. I’m thinking 4 in 6 chance of waking up in time.

Speaking of things I stole from Zak, I also stole the ‘immortal piglet’. I also decided that the piglet is highly intelligent and unscrupulous (inspired by one of the comments on that post).

A bit of random wierdness inspired me to add a room containing a small creature with a lute, singing the Grateful Dead song ‘Dire Wolf’.

Inspired partly by the Black Sabbath song ‘The Wizard’ and partly by the cartoon ‘Regular Show’, In one part of the level there is a pepper plant, growing in a flowerpot full of what appears to be red wax. In another part of the level is the 5th level wizard Wisto Drazner, (appearance inspired by the cover of the Electric Wizard album ‘dopethrone’) who uses these peppers to prepare a vision-inducing drink he calls the ‘Louisiana Moonsperm’. anyone drinking it must save vs. spells, or their character will be unable to act for as long as it takes ‘What is and what should never be’ to play out-of-game.

At one point, there is a room containing three people dressed as a minstrel, a monk, and a knight in full armor. There are two passages besides the one you entered through, one of which leads to certain death. Only the mistrel and the monk know which is which, but one of them always lies- while the other always tells the truth. The knight stabs people who ask tricksy questions.

Dwarven Tidbits

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 5, 2012 by reignofjotuns

From my

campaign

world

Four for strength, Seven for luck,

Thirteen to keep fortune from fattening much.

             -Dwarvish Children’s Rhyme

The number thirteen has held special significance to the Dwarves for a long time. It has been a tradition among many clans to build particularly important rooms with thirteen sides since at least the year 700. Due to the Dwarves long-suffered ill fortune (which none talk about as much as they), Men have long associated the number with that ill fortune. the Dwarves say sardonically that if this is so, then they should keep using the number thirteen- with all the bad luck that comes to them, they wouldn’t want to go soft!

Dwarven folk stories are hardly ever about senseless heroics or renown. Rather, they match the humors of the Dwarves themselves, and therefore usually begin sadly, end badly, and have protagonists who are surly, cynical, vengeful, and yet wise. A popular story that is told to the children of Dwarves and Men alike (though sometimes with different purpose) runs as follows:

A Dwarf was returning to his clan from a visit to another. This required him to head aboveground through lands where no Dwarves lived at that time, which was normally no trouble to him- but this time, a great storm struck while he was travelling, filled with winds and rain and thunder, and he was forced to seek shelter in the hall of a human. This human’s name was Brevaldi, and he was but a minor chieftain among his people. His hall was thatched with straw, and had but a small pen for pigs and a stable for no more than two horses. When the Dwarf knocked at his door asking shelter from the storm, he said: “Allow such a filthy creature as yourself in my hall, in the name of hospitality? When have you given such to men?”

The Dwarf replied, “If you will but let me stay the night, my clan will offer shelter to you and yours whenever you should need it.”

“Faugh!”, he answered, “What should I want with your dark and unwelcome halls? I will allow you to stay in the stable, with the following conditions: you will pay me whatever gold you may have on you, you will join my kitchen thralls in serving food and drink tonight, and you will take nothing which you are not offered, or I will set my three hounds on you!”

The Dwarf paid him the thirteen gold pieces which he had brought with him. These were much larger, and of purer gold than the coins Brevaldi was accustomed to and was expecting to be paid, but he said nothing. That night, the Dwarf served food and ale with the kitchen thralls, while Brevaldi and his men drunkenly heaped abuse upon him and the hounds snarled whenever he came near them. He was offered no food, and so took none, not even the scraps that the thralls ate when all had gone to bed. He slept in the stable in the damp hay, scarcely drier than the grass outside in the storm.

That morning, he said nothing before he left but this: “You are a fool. Farewell, and I leave with you my fortune.” That afternoon, it was discovered that crucial beams had been sawn through when the hall fell over in a strong wind.

Traditional Dwarven ale may be distinguished by its metallic taste. While enjoyable, one should avoid drinking too frequently; this taste comes from water-soluble copper, and drinking it more than need demands leads to problems in the bones.  -Gleowin the Bard, Alcohols of the world

And there were all the flying things, and all the swimming things, and all the climbing things, and all the crawling things, and all the burrowing things, and they went about the world, each and his mate deciding their talents, so that there might be all manner of creatures when Men finally came to be.

And the most burrowing things decided to become worms, and badgers, and moles, and rabbits, and snakes, and beetles, but two of them decided instead to burrow very deep indeed, and so hoped to find their talents.

And as they burrowed, they passed by many things most wondrous and strange, and were filled with questions, but they could understand nothing- for understanding still was a talent that was reserved for Men, and such things that had it already. The two passed many such things, but they could ask no questions of them, not understanding speech. So deeper and deeper they burrowed, until they came at last to a great heat.

And they saw before them the great beast that is father to all beasts, the name of which is Dragon; The great thing that holds up the earth and is imprisoned beneath it, that claws at it with immense hands as slowly as trees may grow, the great hands that are strong enough to squeeze the blood like fire from the rock.

And he understood many things in his immense groaning, and the two sat and listened for many score years until they understood- and they lived there in the deepest depths for many years and had many children. –Dwarven myth on the origin of the Dwarves

How I came to play Old-school (and Why)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 16, 2012 by reignofjotuns

I was never introduced to D&D by a friend. That is technically true, though an uncle did introduce me to a game he ‘used to spend a lot of time playing in coffeeshops.’ The rules were ‘roll a d6 for every action. 6 is automatic success, 1 is automatic failure’. I never really played it with my friends, because I really had no idea how to DM.

Most of my exposure to the idea of D&D came from the roguelike game, ADOM. Other influences were present, such as a novelization of E.T. that we owned at one point [I actually watched the movie when I was much younger, but we never owned it or got it from Netflix (by the time it had occurred to me that it might be worth watching again, I was old enough to be disgusted at the Special Edition, which is all Netflix has)], the movie ‘Dorkness Rising’, and modern cartoons Adventure Time and Regular Show.

These were both introduced to me by my current best friend, as I had grown too cynical to watch modern cartoons without being introduced to them. Each of these cartoons had an episode that influenced me greatly, and I think may have been what finally convinced me to start gaming at all. Adventure Time had ‘Dungeon’, originally titled ‘Dungeon Masters’, which I mentioned by YouTube in my last post.

The whole episode is essentially a homage to D&D, with traps, trap doors, a Gelatinous Cube, and even a monster that looks like a chest. Looking back on it, that is the best example of a dungeon I have ever seen.

Regular Show had the episode ‘But I Have A Receipt’, which amazingly may actually have given me the push I needed to get started. In this episode, Mordecai and Rigby bring a new game called ‘Realm of Darthon’ to game night. The game’s rules are incredibly complicated, apparently requiring a protractor to resolve an attack roll.
Rigby: Okay, roll the 50-sided die.
Skips: All we have is a 48-sided die and two marbles.
Rigby: Close enough.

Once I actually decided to play the game, I started at the Wikipedia page on Dungeons and Dragons. I skimmed it briefly, and then right there the first game I decided to search for was 1st Edition AD&D. When I saw that cover picture, it summed up, for me, what D&D looked like. I was very disappointed to find it out of print. If I had done more research, I might have discovered OSRIC, and my gaming might have begun differently.

It seemed that 3rd Edition was the place to go, at this point, so I downloaded the SRD in .doc format. It confused me almost endlessly, as the files were organized alphabetically instead of by chapter- and I never finished reading it. For the time being, though, my picture of D&D was unmuddied by the 3e illustrations.

My local library, as it turned out, had a copy of the 3.5 Players Handbook, which I checked out and read. Obviously, it was missing a lot of information- monster stats, for example. I made a token effort to find games in the area using the Internet, but I never found a group to play in.

A year later, I decided to start looking again. This time, I actually thought to check gaming store websites. One of them had been considering starting an ongoing game, which I called about. The guy said it was uncertain which edition would be played- probably 3.5 or Pathfinder.
I downloaded a PDF of the Pathfinder Core Rules, looked them over.

The ongoing game never started up, but I had my Pathfinder PDF, I was fed up, I was going to just start my own game. I read through the PDF a couple more times, hoping to be able to remember enough of the rules to run a game. Thankfully, I recieved a hard copy for my birthday- all I’d have to do was print monster stat blocks from my Bestiary PDF.

I’ve been homeschooled all my life, and my mom would occasionally take my younger brothers and sisters to a weekly ‘park day’ a bunch of other local homeschoolers had organized- a few families with kids meeting at the park. I sent an Email to the group through my mom and put up ads in one of the local game stores. I started going to the ‘park days’ with the rest of the family. It was at one of these that I met my first player. He was about my age, hadn’t played before but happened to have some dice lying around (good thing- I didn’t). He showed up, and so did one other guy (his mom had pointed the Email out to him).

They comprised my playing force for a while. The first guy’s younger brother was going to join at one point, but decided not to when I tried to explain character creation (I now understand why). The games we ran at this point were largely “Monty Haul”- creating a character took so long that just not killing them off seemed easier. At one point I looked over some PDFs of the Basic D&D rules- this was my first experience with the Rules Cyclopedia. It seemed easier to read than having to go through B, E, C, M, and I just to get the same rules.

I really liked (still do) the RC line art. Yeah, when you look closely that Fighter’s arm is too short- but Black and White line art is part of my perception of D&D. And to someone coming from the realm of Women with Swords As Tall And Broad As They Are it was like a deep breath. I would have shifted to those rules right then, but I didn’t think my players wanted to go through character creation AGAIN, as well as get used to descending AC. So I left that first read as a skim.

I spent a lot of time on the Paizo forums at that time, and noticed an interesting looking thread about ‘feat-less, skill-less pathfinder”. Someone mentioned that the idea sounded something like Microlite20- so I looked that up.

Almost immediately, we switched. That Pathfinder book still came in handy for the equipment list and spell lists. We were still very Monty Haul, but we at least had a simpler system. That was some of the most fun gaming we had. The first RPG blog I read was Intelligence Check- an obscure pathfinder blog that I found while searching for something-or-other about alignment- I can’t remember exactly what. A little later, I started reading Grognardia. Grognardia took me to Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and a little bit later I designed my first dungeon that was both
A dungeon, and
Out to kill at least some of the party.
It was outstanding. Unfortunately, I moved three sessions later. That move gave me the opportunity to formally decide to start a Rules Cyclopedia game.

Merry Christmas to me and Dungeon Rationalization

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 12, 2012 by reignofjotuns

So, I got some black Gamescience dice already, and just yesterday I finally got what I had spent my christmas check on: an actual, hardcover, copy of the Rules Cyclopedia. I was worried I was going to have to use Dark Dungeons instead- not a bad thing, but definitely not the same thing. Upon getting the book, I noticed that it really is amazingly complete and amazingly light. My Pathfinder RPG core rules must weigh a 1/2 lb. more, not counting cover. The pages are actual paper, too, and feel than the Core Rules pages, which just feel- laminated. I hadn’t even noticed the War Machine and Siege Machine rules contained, either. When it comes to this, I would have had no qualms trying to pirate a pdf if the one copy under USD 80 was already taken.

I’ve also hit a problem, in that try as I might to ‘stop worrying and love the dungeon’, I can’t love dungeon backstories. I had the idea that perhaps, through some twist, the lords Varghare were not only long-lived but immortal, and that they had a tradition of retiring rule after a while to go and mine underneath the castle, resulting in huge catacombs. Of course, on further contemplation I realized that this idea sucked. It wouldn’t allow for stonemasonry or interesting monsters and places, because I have envisioned these people as weird people, maybe even immortal people, but still people. People can’t do things like that. The idea of one of them using powerful magic to create a dungeon that expands on its own, spreading like roots through the ground, didn’t feel right. I don’t much like the dungeon backstories of Dwimmermount, The Gloomrisk, or Stonehell either, which are all megadungeons being built by the authors of blogs I read. None of them felt right. I needed a backstory that would let me fly, let me build something more like this:

So I didn’t make a backstory for the dungeon. I made an adventure hook, obviously. Lord Marmadoc was a powerful magician, who used his magics to form the entire castle of raw earth, including a secret room just underneath the cellar in which to conduct his studies. However, when that room was formed, he noticed that part of one corner overlapped with an underground cave, largely filled with water. The cave is really extremely small, being little more than an underground pond with space to walk around it. But on one of the shores is an ancient staircase, leading down to level 1 of an immense structure. One day, Marmadoc simply lent the throne to his son and disappeared into the labyrinth. And all those of the family who did not die of violence have done the same and carved out their own pieces of it.