OSR: Herbalism in LOTFP

I’m a great believer in taking inspiration for background, systems and just about anything really from pretty much anywhere I can get my hands on it, whether we’re talking about writing fiction or preparing RPG sessions. Recently I acquired a copy the Maelstrom RPG, published in it’s current version by Arion Games. I purchase it mainly because I remember reading a review of it in an ancient–and now defunct–UK RPG magazine called Arcane, and because it’s set in a period similar to that I’m running my Lamentations of Flame Princess campaign The Rose of Westhaven in.

There’s also a fairly nifty appendix in the book that deal with herbalism and lists the various herbs that are available in the Maelstrom game-world. I’m going for a fairly low-magic/monster-light vibe with my campaign, choosing instead to focus on human evils and shifting alliances. The idea of searching for herbs and preparing them–instead of relying on magic constantly–sounded great for the game. So I put my thinking cap on and started thinking about how I could use them in LOTFP, some of my ideas are listed below.

Key

Name: The name of the herb.

Availability: The season that the herb is available in. When someone wishes to locate the herb–assuming they are in appropriate environs–they must make a bushcraft roll, however, the roll may not be higher than that listed in the herbs availability, regardless of the characters skill level.

Preparation Time: The amount of time the herbalist must spend preparing the herbs before they can be used.

Cost in SP: How much in silver pieces the herb costs, the first amount is for unprepared herbs, the second is for herbs that have already been prepared.

Uses: How much doses each successful bushcraft roll garners.

Effectiveness: When the herbalist attempts to use/apply the herb, they must make a successful bushcraft roll, they may not roll higher than the number listed here regardless of their ability.

Effect: What the herb does.

 

Sample Herbs

Name Availability Preparation Time Cost in SP Uses Effectiveness Effect
All-heale Autumn (4 in 6) 2 weeks 2/10 7 4 in 6 Subject heals at double normal rate.
Bishop's Weed Summer (2 in 6) 3 weeks 3/6 3 2 in 6 Cures subject of the plague.
Deadly Nightshade Summer (4 in 6) 1 week 4/8 4 5 in 6 Causes to person to fall into a deep sleep for 24 hours. However, if the poisoner rolls a 1 for the herbs effectiveness then they have used too much, the victim gets a save vs poison or they die. Those who survive will be tormented by maddening visions for the rest of their days.
English Galingale Spring and Summer (2 in 6) 1 week 1/2 5 2 in 6 Enlivens the sense by increasing the flow of blood. A person who has Galingale successfully applied to them counts as having one additional pip in Search for the next 24 hours, additional doses have no further effect.

Rose of Westhaven: Session One Write-up

Date: Primaday, 9th of Moon Month. 1490 AU

A few nights after a terrible storm has lashed the nearby coastline, four people–wearing wet weather gear–arrive at the foot of the ancient lighthouse known as the Beacon, situated a couple of miles to the west of Porthcrawl village:

  • Edwin Locke: a man who has recently returned from fighting in the war between the Royalists and Parliamentarians, he remains silent concerning which side he fought for and his eyes have the haunted look of a man who has seen too much death.
  • Maarku: one of the strange, pale-skinned elves from Fada Siar, Maarku settled in the village of Porthcrawl some time ago and–despite some initial resistance–has earned some grudging respect due his ability as a carpenter.
  • William: to all appearances a normal young boy, however sometimes a shadow falls across his face or he speaks in a voice old beyond his years.
  • Sasha: sister to William, a young flame-haired woman dressed in the garb of a highwayman.

The wrinkled old lighthouse-keeper, Thackeray West tells the four that he has invited them to the Beacon because he saw a Royalist ship get wrecked on the treacherous rocks around Windy Bay during the great storm a few nights previous. With his in-depth knowledge of the local currents, Thackeray believes that much of the cargo from the vessel will have been swept into the sea caves that pock-mark the nearby cliffside. No longer a young man and unable to reach the caves himself, Thackeray volunteers to reveal a concealed smugglers passage down to the caves, in return for 20% of any salvage that the four can recover. After thinking for a few moments–and sharing a drink with the eccentric old man–the four guests agree to his deal and are giving the directions to the smugglers pass.

Creeping down the pass, the four individuals find themselves block on one side by a huge rock-face whilst on the other there is a 100 foot drop down to the crashing surf below, Edwin spots some detritus from the ship that has washed up against the face of the cliff far below. For a moment they contemplate using their rope to get down to the wreckage, but decide to press onto the caves, Thackeray’s warning echoing in their ears:

“You should be fine as long as you don’t delay, when the evening tide comes in those caves will be flooded, I wouldn’t want to be in there when that happened.”

As they reach the end of the smugglers pass and the entrance to the caves is revealed, Maarku’s keen sense of smell picks up the scent of tobacco in the air. Williams sneaks to the mouth of the pass and peers out, a guard wearing mustard and black colour clothes in the Royalist style is sat on a broken crate, smoking a pipe and occasionally shouting to companions of his that remain out of sight further in the caves. Unfortunately William dislodges some stone made loose by the sea air and it crashes down, alerting the guard who begins advancing on their position with a pistol drawn.

Edwin initially tries to speak to the Royalist, soldier-to-soldier but–when it becomes clear that he isn’t getting anywhere–he draws his arquebus and fires. Unfortunately the dampness has seeped into his powder and there is just a short puff of smoke. Whilst the guard is shouting to raise the alarm, the four are able to finish him off, William–seemingly lost to a strange bloodlust–continues to stab the guard long after the Royalist has breathed his last.

During the confusion Maarku has snuck further into the cave system, wading through the waist deep water and sees two Royalists attempting to dislodge a large, coffin-shaped box wrapped in chains from where it has become wedged between two rocky outcroppings, they are arguing with each other and mention the name Lord Rothschild. One of the larges leaves to find out what has happened to their lookout and is set upon by Maarku’s three companions, whilst the other spots the elf and moves to engage him. He is accompanied by his Captain who had been lurking–previously unseen–behind a rocky protruberance. Maarku attempts to fend them both off but is severely injured. It looks for a moment as though he is going to fall when Edwin–having helped finish off the guard nearest to him–grabs one of the Royalist’s pistols and neatly blows a hole in the Captain’s head.

Moving to investigate the coffin-shaped box, Maarku realises something inside is attempted to get out and he notes–with mounting concern–a number of holy symbols fastened to the box. Before he can fully warn his companions the box bursts open and a shambling corpses wearing the tatters of a monks robe climbs out, swinging it’s bony claws at the elf. Recovering from his bloodlust, William hurls a pot of lantern oil at the advancing corpse, which is ignited by a pistol shot from Edwin, causing the flailing creature to burst into flames. Seemingly unconcerned by the burning of its flesh, the creature cuts Maarku down and turns to advance on the others, hurling itself at Edwin, luckily he is able to fend it off for long enough that the fire finishes it off. Edwin drags Maarkus unconscious body out of the water to prevent him from drowning.

Exploring further they discover a great mess of debris and salvage from the wrecked vessel at the far end of the cave, William also finds a thin crack that appears to lead out of the cave and plunge further down into the depths but elects not to explore it at this time. Amongst the other salvage, they find a small wooden box with brass fixtures, when opened, it contains the partially ruined remnants of the a ships log, it talks about a weapon taken in fall Kalam on the orders of Duke Rothschild that they hope to use against the Royalists. The log refers to the weapon as an abomination and speaks of meeting people near Porthcrawl so that it can be offloaded and taken to the Sage Salazar.

They also find:

  • 50 silver pieces
  • 3 barrels of wine
  • a silver mirror
  • 5 pouches of tobacco
  • a spyglass

Gathering up all their new found wealth they return to the Beacon–carrying the injured and unconscious Maarku–where they give Thackeray a share of the silver, a barrel of wine and one of the pouches of tobacco.

Storm and Sail Update

For those of you who aren’t aware, myself and Lloyd Gyan have been working for some time on creating a Storm and Sail campaign book for the Fate RPG, this spun-off a campaign that I kludged together using the Fate Accelerated rules and a few ideas that I had, you can find the videos for that original campaign here:

As a big fan of swashbuckling adventure stories, a short while after the original mini-campaign has finished I decided to try and actually make it into a complete campaign book that I could publish as a PDF, Lloyd came onboard a short while later to lend assistance and a valuable second set of eyes to go over things.

I’ve been posting bits and pieces about Storm & Sail for a while (mostly over on Google+) but it’s been slow going in parts because we’ve both got RL jobs and other commitments that prevent us devoting 100% of our time to writing Storm & Sail, however, I’m now pleased to announce that we are getting pretty close to completion. By that, I mean we have most of the layout done with placeholders for artwork (yet to be commissioned) and we’ve sent advanced preview copies to a closed group of people to get some final feedback on the PDF.

Here are a few sample pages to whet your appetite:

So how long before it’s released?

Unfortunately it’s not possible for us to give an exact date when the PDF will be released since it depends on a few different factors:

  • How long the artwork takes to commission and create.
  • How long it takes for us to get feedback from our closed group.
  • Any last minute changes or alterations we have to make.

But we’re hoping to release the PDF as soon as possible, and we hope that you’ll join us on the High Seas 🙂

RPGaDay 2017 – End of the First Week

It’s the end of the first week of #RPGaDay 2017, there has been a massive response to this years RPGaDay, hundreds of videos and loads of blog posts with people getting involved and talking about the hobby.

What is RPGaDay?

If you’re not familiar with RPGaDay, essentially during the month of August people answer a series of RPG related questions and produce content related to it, these could be videos, blog posts, tweets, however you want to approach it. The idea of RPGaDay is that it gives us all an outlet to enthuse about this wonderful hobby of ours and share that enthusiasm with others, the side benefits are that we get to find out about cool new Youtube channels and also get to learn more about our fellow RP enthusiasts.

If you want to know more about RPGaDay, I’ve done a post at the start of August that you can read by clicking here.

Week 1 Recap

Runeslinger–who is one of the main forces for pushing the RPGaDay idea forward–has just published a video where he gives a brief recap of the first week and current state of RPGaDay 2017, you can click on it below:

Please note: This video was entirely created by Runeslinger, I’m just sharing the love.

What RPGaDay means to me

I don’t want to retread ground that Runeslinger has already covered–since he did his usual excellent job with the week 1 recap video–so I’m going to talk a little but about what RPGaDay means to me and then finish off this post with some of my favourite videos that have been published so far. This is by no means a comprehensive list, it’s just a few videos that stuck out or struck a chord with me.

RPGaDay to me is a though-provoking and sometimes infuriating exercise, the questions are always interesting, some of them I have to think about for a fair old while and others I feel like I’ve not really answered the question in full, either because I can’t, I’m not sure how, or because I have too many potential answers. However the questions always feel worthwhile to me, even if I struggle with them or end up giving an incomplete answer, it gets me thinking about this hobby that I love, often in ways that I may not have done were I not taking part in RPGaDay 2017.

For example: The most recent question (as of time of writing) was Describe a Game Experience that Changed How You Play, I struggled with this one for a while since I think that you inevitably tweak and evolve your playing style during games even if you aren’t consciously aware of the lessons that you are learning.

Eventually I settled on something one of the players in my Star Wars Campaign said that caused me to re-evaluate some of my opinions on games involving fewer players:

Although I did struggle to come up with an answer, by thinking about this subject it made me consider the way that we learn things in RPGs and how that affects our playing style going forward, even if I’d not managed to come up with an answer at all, thinking about it in this way has helped bring something from the back of my mind to the front and made me more consciously aware of it, this can only be a good thing.

Content I’ve enjoyed so far in RPGaDay 2017

Okay, so here’s some content I’ve enjoyed so far in this year’s RPGaDay:

Michael Guerra went a different route and used a simple graphic to show his choice of game for Day 5’s question.

Sophie Lagacé has published some great responses to RPGaDay 2017 on her blog, you can find the blog by clicking here.

So there we are, that’s a smattering of stuff that grabbed my attention for RPGaDay 2017 but there’s plenty more stuff out there, I’m stumbling across new content all the time – if you want to look for more then check out https://rpgaday.com/

Get Involved

So if you love RPGs but you’re not already producing content for RPGaDay 2017 you might be thinking it’s too late for you since a week has already passed, but nothing could be further from the truth, the point of RPGaDay isn’t to chastise people for missing making a day’s video, it’s to get us all talking for this great hobby. If you want to start producing now here’s a few suggestions:

  • Create a single post or video that answers the questions you missed, you can be as brief or verbose with your answers as you like.
  • Start with the current questions and then go back and fill in the missing ones when and if you have time.
  • Just don’t worry about it, start putting out content at whatever pace is comfortable for you.

I hope that more people will get involved and I look forward to seeing the great content in week 2 for RPGaDay 2017 🙂

VR: Peasant Competency Levels

One of the unfortunate things about filming video responses for my Youtube channel is that I tend to do them in an off-the-cuff manner, this is great for getting an unscripted and spontaneous feel to the video, however it does mean that on occasions I tend to forget things and only think about them after I’ve just spent an hour or so editing the video.

The same thing happened recently when I filmed a video response to the following video OSR Gatekeepers: I do not fear death by Your Humble Gamesmaster:

I filmed what I believed to be a fairly comprehensive response to the video in question, you can see my video here:

It was only after the upload had finished that I thought ‘Oh sh*t I forgot to mention the bit about peasant power levels in the video’ – now I’m not going to go back and record the whole thing again to cram that part in so I thought that I’d write a brief blog about it here instead.

The Humble Gamesmaster makes the point that peasants or commoners are often seen as being particularly weak in OSR style games, particularly when in funnel play or in comparison to characters who actually have levels in a more normal PC class (fighter, thief, mage, etc); this is a very valid point, I do have a few issues with it though. After thinking about it for some time, I realised that my main issue was based on an assumptions that I’d made about D&D and OSR style games:

  • Adventurers spend a lot of their “off-screen” time practicing their skills.

I’d always imagined that the fighter spent a lot of their off-screen time practicing combat whilst the thief was out engaging in nefarious activities, the mage was obsessively studying spells and the bard was playing their lute or whatever it is that they do when they’re not annoying the rest of the party and trying to grab some abilities from pretty much every other class.

The Humble Gamesmaster makes the point that peasants or commoners in a standard pseudo-medieval D&D world wouldn’t be weak, they would lead hard lives working the land, I certainly think that’s true, however, I’ve always seen the difference between commoners and PC classed characters in D&D as being akin to the difference between a fitness fanatic and a trained soldier in real life, sure the fitness fanatic might be fit and in reasonably good health, however they don’t exist in the constant state of readiness that the soldier does, knowing that s/he could be shipped out at any moment to face danger and death.

So let me know what you think, are commoners weak in your world or do they have some untapped wellspring of inner strength?

Only 3 days remaining to back Midderlands, an OSR sandbox setting

I have two great RPG loves in my life, one of these is the Fate RPG by Evil Hat Productions and the other is OSR gaming, something about the basic nature of OSR rules supplements really speaks to my style of gaming, I have numerous systems such as Basic Fantasy, Swords & Wizardry (core, White Box and complete), Lamentations of the Flame Princess and a few others. If you keep up with my social media then you’ll know that recently I back Midderlands, an OSR sandbox and mini-bestiary book set in a twisted version of the Midlands in the UK in the late middle-ages, as someone who actually lives in the real-world Midlands–and as a lover of OSR stuff–needless to say I was intrigued.

The book is designed principally for Swords & Wizardry, but should work with any OSR style game, personally I was thinking of breaking out my Lamentations of the Flame Princess book and running it using that; from the small amount of preview material I’ve seen the setting has elements that reminded me both of some of Lovecraft’s iconic odd settings (Innsmouth anyone?) and also cult game Fallen London, which has it’s own skewed take on urban Britain.

As of the time of writing the project needs another two and a half thousand pound (GBP) to reach it’s funding goal, with only three days remaining, personally I’m hoping to spread the love a bit and get some other people on board since I think this looks like an excellent book and deserves a chance to be published. So if you’re looking to scratch that weird OSR itch or you wants to take a journey through the odd places of a middle-England that never was, get yourself over to the kickstarter page and sign up now.

RPGaDay 2017

For those of us involved in a certain sub-section of the online TT RPGing community, the approach of August can only mean one thing, it’s almost time for RPGaDay – that special time of year when numerous roleplayers dredge through their memories and strive to create a series of blog and video posts talking about their current participation in the roleplaying hobby and their history with it. This year is the fourth year that RPGaDay has been running since Autocratik began it and–as usual–Runeslinger is flying the flag and getting the info-graphics out there, I’ve reproduced it below for convenience:

RPGaDay is a great way to reminisce about your RPG history and also to engage with other members of the community, we’re all talking about the same great hobby so–as well as making your own blog posts or videos–make sure to comment and get involved with other people’s, don’t forget to use the hashtag #RPGaDay. Even if you don’t manage to do a post a day, or whether you cheat and film/write several at once (like I do if I am really busy), that’s not important, what’s great about RPGaDay is that is gets everyone in the community involved and talking about this great hobby of ours.

I’ll be taking part this year and I urge you to do so as well 🙂 

Dresden Files Accelerated – The Motor City Files

I recently had the good fortune to be invited to play in a short mini-campaign of Dresden Files Accelerated ran by John Drury of Roll For Your Fate; in case you’re not aware, Dresden Files Accelerated Edition (referred to henceforth as DFAE in this article) is the second game in Jim Butchers Dresdenverse– you can find more info on that here–the first used an early iteration of the Fate Core system and was great fun but was a little clunky in places IMO. DFAE uses the streamlined Accelerated build of the system and has obviously benefited greatly from lessons learned since the original was released.

Continue reading

Reflections on the UK Games Expo

It’s been a few weeks since I was at the UK Games Expo, a yearly gaming convention that takes over the Birmingham Hilton hotel and a signficant amount of the Birmingham NEC, I’ve been a few times and always look forward to seeing a lot of the UK people I game with online “in the flesh,” this was my first year actually GM-ing at the convention though.

I was asked by Lloyd Gyan–Modiphious game advocate, RP Hipster and general great guy–who I game with a fair amount, to help him and a few others run Games on Demand, essentially the idea being that people who haven’t prebooked into a game in advance can rock up, buy a quick ticket for a game from the desk and then stroll down the room where we are and jump into a game. This is a great idea because the pre-booked games sell out pretty fast, perhaps you weren’t sure if you could make it, or perhaps you came for something else but are interested in this roleplaying thing that people have been banging on about, well if that’s the case you can still get in a game on demand. Continue reading

RPG Bugbears – Dilemmas

In this RPG bugbears video I talk a little about a recent dilemma I’ve been musing on.