Podcast Episode 3: That Elusive Page Turning Quality

It’s a warm day here in England, and in the third episode of the Podcast I’m talking a bit about what makes me want to keep reading an RPG.

Random Things: Nautical Tattoos

The home-base of my Rose of Westhaven campaign is a small(ish) port-town called Porthcrawl, recently we had a game where most of the people in the town had turned up to a funeral, in thinking about what the various inhabitants would look like I was scrolling through various pictures on Google Image search and noticed that a lot of the pirate/sailor types sported tattoos. I know from other reading and an interest in things piratical that lead to me creating the Fate game Storm & Sail with Lloyd Gyan (available from Drivethru RPG) that such tattoos were very common amongst sailors and that they had different meanings.

After a bit of reading I concocted the table below to randomly roll tattoos for whatever scurvy sea-dogs might be wandering the port, roll 1D20 on the chart to see what tattoo that scurvy buccaneer who’s eyeing your rum is sporting:

No.Description Meaning
1A Woman Serving as a reminder of loves left behind for a life at sea.
2Anchor The anchor tattoo represents stability and was given to represent that the sailor had traversed a particularly dangerous sea or ocean. Particularly sentimental sailors might have the name of a loved one added to the tattoo, giving them a reason to return home safely.
3Bottle Sailors were known for their love of drink so it was not uncommon to see this tattoo.
4Compass Rose Getting lost was one of the many potential dangers at sea, this tattoo was thought to ward against it.
5Cross Anchors Having such a tattoo marked you out as being a Boatswain Mate.
6Crossed Guns or Cannons Crossed guns indicate a member of the infantry army whilst cannons refer to the navy.
7Cutlass Some sailors would get this tattoo after dispatching a noteworthy foe in single combat.
8Dagger Through a Swallow Symbollising a lost comrade.
9Dice A tattoo often sported by risk-takers and gamblers.
10Dragon The seaman has survived an attack where their ship was set on fire and/or the powder exploded.
11Fully Rigged Ship Often awarded to mark sailing around a particularly dangerous cape.
12Harpoon Identifies you as part of a fishing fleet.
13Hold Fast The words hold fast mean holding onto the lines in bad weather to prevent being washed overboard, it is believed these words in a tattoo served as both reminder and a lucky charm in these circumstances.
14Neptune Given to a sailor who has successfully sailed both hemispheres of the world.
15Pig and Rooster Most often tattooed on the feet, these animals symbollised surviving a ship-wreck, since such animals would often wash ashore in cages following a shipwreck.
16Rope A rope around the wrist is a mark of being a deckhand.
17Shark This tattoo signifies having survived attack by some great beast of the ocean.
18Ship with Wind Filling the Sails This tattoo was believed to help a sailor's ship avoid getting becalmed on a windless sea.
19Skull & Bones A sailor with this tattoo marks themselves as having taken up a life of piracy, it is thought to have originated from brands once used to mark captured pirates.
20Swallow Each swallow tattoo represents 5000 nautical miles travelled (about 5754 land miles).

Cleric Miscast Table

In my previous post about adapting the VAM rules to use in my Rose of Westhaven game I created some generic options for a magic-user miscast table and outlined some of the circumstances where it would be used. In this post I use the same ideas for Clerics, the difference being that the table represents a Cleric’s patron deity either becoming offending at their hubris or seeking to test their worth.

In VAM each spell has specific flavoured results when your 1D12 rolled a 1-6 on the miscast table, my version for magic-users used traditional spells from the LOTFP corebook and I didn’t want to write results for each spell, it occurred to me however that this could be used in a different way for Clerics. What if results 1-6 weren’t tailored by spells but by deity?

Below you can find screenshots of the general Cleric miscast table and a specific one I have tailored to Dagon, the patron deity of the Cleric Odhran in our Rose of Westhaven game.

You can find a pdf version of the general table here and the Dagon specific table here.

Amended LOTFP spell mis-cast table

In today’s session of Rose of Westhaven we’re trying out using an adaption of the LOTFP supplement Vagina’s are Magic, we’re not going the whole hog with the weird spells and such-like in there (since that would entail a massive alteration of the magic level of our campaign) but I’ve been discussing with one of my players using the VAM rules for casting.

Essentially a magic-user has a number of spell slots equal to their level, they can cast any of their spells using those slots with no problems whatsoever.

However, if the magic-user tries casting spells in addition to that number then they must make a miscast chance. There are other circumstances that can force a miscast roll such as if a magic-user has taken damage in the same round they cast a spell or is massively encumbered.

The slight issue we had was that the VAM 1D12 miscast table only has result for rolls 7-12, results from 1-6 are dependent on the individual spells (as listed in the VAM rulebook). Since we’re keeping the standard spells we don’t have individual charts for each spell and I’m not greatly desiring to write that number of tables, so instead I’ve just created entries for results 1-6 based on some ideas of my own and some D&D 5E house rules that one of my players (Dennis Bach) was kind enough to donate to me.

The table is added below:

If you want a PDF version of the table you can find it by clicking here.

I’m interested to see how this adaption of the VAM rules will work, hopefully it will add a little bit more versatility to the magic-user; if it goes well then I may consider adapating it to use for Clerics, but with an offended deity table instead of a miscast table.

The wizard icon used for the feature image of this post is taken from http://game-icons.net/ and is used under the CC BY 3.0 license. 

VAM is copyright James Edward Raggi IV, no challenge is intended to any copyrights. If you’ve not yet got a copy of Vagina’s are Magic and you fancy experimenting with a weird magic system you can get a copy from http://www.lotfp.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=234.

Games on Demand at UK Games Expo 2018

Games I’ll be Running

For those of you who aren’t aware, I helped run Games on Demand at last years UK Games Expo (masterminded by Lloyd Gyan). Essentially Games on Demand is a series of two hour long ‘taste games’ where people can just turn up, buy a ticket for Games on Demand on the day, and jump into a game of some sort relatively quickly, each GM assigned to Games on Demand has a number of different games that they can pull out and run for a couple of hours. It’s a great way to kill a few hours, if a pre-booked game is sold-out/cancelled or if you fancy trying something new.

This post is going to give you a taster of the games that I’ll have with me at the Expo. I’m bringing PBTA, Fate and OSR with me, but the other GMs will have different things for you to try.

White Star Galaxy Edition

Emperor Valis rules the galaxy with the aid of the Cabal, his loyal cult of Void Knights. The Star Knights–once mystical defenders of the galaxy–have been all but destroyed, existing now only as a few survivors living in constant fear of apprehension and execution.

The only opposition to Valis and his New Order is a rag-tag rebellion lead by a mix of mercenaries, refugees and senators who have refused to bow to the new regime. Within this rebellion hide the last flickering remnants of the Star Knights.

The rebellion has received word that the New Order is working on a super-weapon that may spell their doom, and so they mount a desperate attempt to stop the weapon, at all costs.

White Star Galaxy Edition is an OSR game inspired by a smorgasboard of different science-fiction franchises, in this scenario you play smugglers with hearts of gold, outcast senators and hunted Star Knights banding together to try and stop Emperor Valis’ secret weapon.

In the darkest of times, will you be the ones to light the spark of hope?

Lamentations of the Flame Princess – Carcosa

In the skies the fireball breaks,
And twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen,
In Carcosa.

Strange is the night wherein men cry,
And bodies vanish into the night,
But stranger still,
Is lost Carcosa.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess is an OSR game of weird fantasy. The Carcosa supplement takes us to a strange world of serpent people and science-horror inspired by the writings of H. P. Lovecraft and others.

In this game a fireball has plummeted into the mountains near your village, since then strange creatures have been seen, odd noises heard and man have gone missing. The elders of the village council caution but–knowing that there will soon be no-one left if this continues–you have gathered some companions and set out to investigate the source of the disappearances.

Will you find your missing kinsmen, or do only death and horror lurk among the mountains or Carcosa?

Swords & Wizardry FMAG

“It simply won’t do, this is the third caravan to be raided on the Devil’s Pass in the last fortnight, merchants are already threatening to take their business elsewhere. This town thrives on trade, we cannot afford for this to happen.”

Swords & Wizardry FMAG is an OSR game of fantastic exploration and combat built to recapture the enjoyment and splendour of the earliest editions of the world’s most popular roleplaying game. In our scenario the players are a group of adventurers hired by Lord Harper, ruler of Highpeak, to investigate the matter of the raided caravans. Something or someone is preying on the merchants who are the life-blood of the town, it’s up to you to stop them.

Dresden Files Accelerated

The White Council is at war with the Red Court, a war sparked by the newly sworn in Grey Warden Harry Dresden, but the war is hardly confined only to the United States. Across the pond in the United Kingdom, the city of Birmingham, a group of consultants are called by their contact in the police force to the scene of a most unusual crime.

Dresden Files Accelerated is a FAE game set in the world of Jim Butcher’s popular novels. In this game you play a beleaguered police detective and a group of esoteric consultants attempting to solve a mysterious murder.

Can you uncover the culprit and bring them to justice using your know-how and the powers of the occult, or will the forces of darkness triumph?

Young Centurions

“Know this young Centurions, that I, Baron Zeppelin am responsible for the current drop in world temperatures, unless my demands are met he world will freeze whilst I remain safe in my arctic lair!”

Young Centurions is a FAE game where you play pulp-heroes in the early 1910s, born in the first seconds of the new century, each of the characters embodies the spirit of Invention, Speed, Joy or something similar, possessing powers far beyond those of mortal men. Raised to be heroes by a mysterious society, you may be the worlds only hope to stop the mad Baron, a young man born in the dying seconds of the old century who embodies the Shadow of Industry.

Masters of Umdaar

Skalldor–a dark and twisted necromancer–has menaced the lands of the Eternal Kingdom ever since overthrowing the rightful ruling family. He is opposed only by Arthur–rightful heir to the throne–and his loyal band of renegades. Rumours have it that Skalldor has discovered the resting place of the legendary Starblade, such an item would give him power to make his rule over the kingdom everlasting, but Arthur and his rogues race to retrieve the blade too and restore their Prince to his throne.

Masters of Umdaar is a FAE game of gonzo science-fantasy that models itself on classic heroic cartoons from the 1980’s. Can you help Arthur to recover the Starblade before the evil necromancer, or will the entire Eternal Kingdom soon bow to the foul Skalldor?

MASKS

“This is not a drill, repeat this is not a drill. This is Mister Miracle broadcasting to any heroes that may be left, my old foe Manat has stolen the Helmet of Chronos and two of the Moirae Stones that power it. The others are dead or gone, the Justice Warriors, the Super Friends, all of them. I’m broadcasting this on all frequencies, my only hope is that there are still some heroes out there and we can stop Manat before…”

The world’s experienced and greatest heroes have been wiped from existence by the–now almost god-like–Manat using the Helmet of Chronos, in his last act before being wiped out himself Mister Miracle, mightiest of the Justice Warriors puts out a call to anyone who may be listening, hoping that there are still heroes in the world. That’s where you come in, young heroes yet untested in the forge of destiny, but overlooked by Manat, you are the world’s only hope.

MASKS is a PBTA game of young heroes struggling with responsibility and their legacies as heroes, trying to find their place in the world.

Tremulus

“Well they say that the stiffs have been going missing up by the Old McCorley graveyard, I ‘eard the rumours but never gave it no mind, leastways no-ones been buried their fresh in months. Well that were before the police constable that the Mayor had set to watching over the place went missing, we all heard the screams, loud enough to chill yer blood. I expect that’s why they called you in eh?”

Tremulus is a PBTA game based on the Cthulhu Mythos, in it you play investigators, unwitting victims and daring scholars struggling to maintain their sanity in the face of the sanity-blasting creatures of the Mythos. Something is clearly rotten at the McCorley graveyard (other than the corpses) and the Mayor wants it cleaned up discretly and quickly, there’s a large reward in it for you if you succeed, fail and perhaps the graveyard will have claimed some new residents.

Adapting LOTFP for Midderlands

I’m currently running an OSR game using the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules, using the excellent Midderlands campaign setting created by Glynn Seal of Monkeyblood Design & Publishing (https://plus.google.com/+MonkeyblooddesignCoUk). In Lamentations there are three non-human race-classes available, Dwarves, Elves and Halflings, that aren’t covered in great detail in the Midderlands books, but that I wanted to be available to my players in our game.

Please note: This article is not an attempt to create a definitive version of the various fantasy races for use in the Midderlands, it’s just how I’ve adapted them for my game (trying to keep the weird-fantasy vibe of the Midderlands in mind throughout).

The various races in my game use the standard rules out of LOTFP (or the Midderlands Campaign books when it comes to various types of Goblins), the details below are simply additional set-dressing/flavour.

Dwarves

The Dwarves are a strange people of living stone who dwell in the northern Highlands of Scrotland, organised into Clans with strict, regimented hierarchies. It is believed that when humans first arrived in the Havenlands that Dwarves were much more widespread and taught the first humans the ways of working metal and smithing. Strict minded and traditional in their ways, the Dwarves were first pleased with the progress humans made and then worried by their experimentation and chaotic nature, gradually withdrawing more and more from the world until now only the north has Dwarves in large numbers.

Physiology

Dwarves are shorter and stockier than humans, tending towards muscular physiques. Each of them has skin that resembles stone in colour and texture more than flesh and eyes that are pupilless vary in colour from ruby red to emerald green. Dwarven blood is thick, red and slow flowing, it takes far longer than human blood to dry, eventually transforming into a red powder like ground brick.

When a Dwarf is slain their flesh retains it’s stony texture and does not rot like the flesh of some other races, however it does crumble away over time (or if subjected to enough force) revealing the iron-like bones beneath.

Location

The few remaining Dwarfholds are situated in the Highlands of Scrotland, clustered around the mighty Mount Nevis and the Great Northern Forests. Other races most often seek out the Dwarves when they are attempting to have mighty weapons or enchanted items forged, since the Dwarves are reputed to have secret methods of working stone and forging metal that are unknown to the other races. Items of Dwarven craftmanship tend to be hard-wearing and last for hundreds of years, although they are seldom decorative or beautiful in appearance.

Culture

Dwarves are organised into a strict caste-system, their caste is chosen at birth based on their parentage, Clan affiliation and–most importantly to the Dwarves–by the metal or stonethat their skin resembled. The system is organised into three tiers:

  • Nobles: Nobles are the rarest of castes, only a handful of them being born every few years, they are the most mentally agile and creative members of the Dwarven race and have skin resembling precious metals or rare stones such as gold, silver, palladium, marble, basalt and platinum.

See the following wikipedia article for further details on precious metals.

  • Warriors: Warriors are the second most common caste, they have good tactical minds and make excellent soldiers but they generally lack creativity, preferring to relay on ancient, tried-and-proven tactics. Warriors have skin resembling ferrous metals and more commonly found stone such as wrought iron, granite, limestone and steel.

See the following wikipedia article for further details on ferrous metals.

  • Workers: The most common of the castes, workers generally spend their life performing repetitive tasks and drudgery for the day-to-day operations of their Clan, workers are proficient at their particular tasks but lack creativity or even the tactical minds of warriors, making them dull companions unless you are discussing their area of speciality. Workers have skin resembling base metals and very common stone such as iron, soapstone and tin.

See the following wikipedia article for further details on base metals.

It is forbidden to act outside the boundaries of your caste system within Dwarven society, although occasionally a Dwarf is born to a lower caste but with unexpected curiosity or intellect. This often leads to them getting in trouble with the Thanes who rule their Clan, resulting in many of them being banished to the lowlands for their trouble. Most Dwarves encountered outside of the Highlands are banished Dwarves.

Relations with Others

The Dwarves have cordial relations with their neighbours, often trading with them for items that are not available in their mountain homes. However, the days of Dwarves teaching humans forging techniques have long past, and they now guard their secrets jealously. Dwarves and Elves are often wary of each other since Dwarves are mostly of a fixed mindset whereas Elves tend to be more adaptable or changeable.

Dwarves seldom get along well with Goblins due to their tendency to infest abandoned Dwarfholds, although they enjoy the genial company of Halflings.

Elves

A strange and secretive race with a fey-touched air to them, the Elves are widely believed to have originated in the green lands of Emeraude. It has become common parlance in the Havenlands to describe those who perceive sprites, boggarts and the like as having Emeraude eyes. Wise in the ways of the wild, the Elves most often remain secreted in the most ancient of woodlands around the Havenlands, using magic and misdirection to prevent their hidden hollows and homes from being discovered. Wherever Elves dwell there is always the smell of flowers and summer.

Physiology

Although Elves appear superficially similar to the other races of the Havenlands, they are actually more like living plants. Elven skin is an extremely pliable form of bark resembling Silver Birch and their blood is a thick clear sap with a light foral aroma to it. Elves do not age and die naturally, but when an Elf is very old he may feel the pull of the great sleep upon him; once this happens the Elves conduct a great cermony and the subject falls into a peaceful sleep, gradually taking root in the ground and becoming a mighty tree.

In the chest of an Elf is a glowing green gemstone known colloquially as an Elfheart, this remains after their death and is reputed to be a great boon to any magics dealing with the natural world. Of course, attempting to harvest these gems is a surefire way to anger any Elves you encounter, making them an extremely dangerous ingredient for magical workings.

It is rumoured that the ancient Ents who guard the deepest forests of Havenlands were once Elves.

Winter Elves

There are actually two species of Elves in the Havenlands, both are extremely rare, but the most common are known as Summer Elves, they embody the seasons of Summer and Spring, caring for the natural world and seeking to preserve it.

Rare are the Winter Elves who embody the dark times of winter when nature seeks to conserve it’s resources and survive the coming cold. Winter Elves have night black shine and hair as white as snow, often living underground they are selfish and cruel. The Elfhearts of Winter Elves resemble black onyx or clear diamonds.

Location

Elves are most often found in hidden communities within the deepest forests of the Havenlands, protected by magic and illusions. However, some of the younger Elves have grown curious about the world outside their leafy borders and have ventured further afield, interacting with the younger races.

Culture

Found mostly in the forested regions of the Oldenwale (or Fada Siar in their own tongue), the Elves are organised into Clans delineated by shared family bloodlines and heritage. Elven Clans are rules by the eldest and wisest of their number, although their leaders recognise that their society benefits from allowing younger members of the race venturing into the wider world and bringing new knowledge to their Clan when they return home and settle down after a couple of hundred years or so.

Relations with Others

Although the Elves technically owe no allegiance to Lady Owain–ruler of Oldenwale–they generally maintain a cautious peace with the people of the Oldenwale (although this has not alway been the case). Most of the Oldenwale Clans know to give the most ancient woodlands a wide berth and this satisfies the Elves who have no wish to claim other areas, although occasionally their are skirmishes when Clans attempt to log areas sacred to the Elves.

Halflings & Goblins

There are various races of Small or Weefolk (derogatory) scattered around the Havenlands, no-one is quite sure where they came from or if they have any relationship to each other, but it is clear from ancient Goman writings that–when the Gomans arrived in the Havenlands–there were already various types of Smallfolk already living simple pastoral lives there. This has lead some to conclude that they are the original inhabitants of the Havenlands, although their impact on written history has been minor.

Physiology

There is little similarity in the appearance of the various Smallfolk, but they fall into two broad categories, Halflings (or Hobbits as they call themselves) and Goblins. Although the actual strict definition of the two categories is somewhat up for debate, in general if a Smallfolk is human-shaped and of human-like colouration they are Halflings, whereas if they have more bestial features and greenish or unusual skin colouration they are known as Goblins.

Location

Smallfolk can be found scattered all over the Havenlands, Halflings tend to live anywhere that humans are located, rubbing shoulders easily–and working alongside–their human neighbours, often bartering their talents at storyteller, brewing and making pipeweed to make a living. Goblins are more marginalised and tend to dwell on the outskirts of larger human societies, in the cracks of urban centres or in isolated wilderness.

Culture

Halflings prize comfort and stability above most things and therefore look to settle down in places that are well defended by larger folk, living simple lives, getting on with their neighbours and making whatever living they can, younger Halflings occasionally get an urge to go out and explore the world and have adventures. There is much frowning from their elders and betters when this occurs.

The various Goblin races do not have much in the way of culture and tend to only exist in small family groups.

Relations with Others

Halflings maintain genial relations with most of the other races common in the Havenlands, whereas Goblins tend to be regarded as either a pest to ignore or a menace to be wiped out (depending on numbers and relative strength).

 

The icons used in this article were from Http://game-icons.net and are used as per the Creative Commons CC license.

The Mysterious City of Gold

Although reliable maps to the Undying Lands are few and far between, over the years distorted rumours and legends have filtered back to people in the Known World. Now that the grinding ice has retreated, adventurers have the chance to test those legends, proving or disproving them through strength of arms and cunning thought.

Let me tell you about the lost golden city of Dinas. It is said that before the time of the Sundering when the ice-sheets descended from the north, that there was a great a noble civilisation that ruled the Undying Land. Skilled in both war and wise in the ways of knowledge, the people of Dinas spread far and wide across their continent, they were a force to be reckoned with and commanded strange magics beyond the ken of modern mages.

Greatest of all was Dinas, their capital, a city built of solid gold, designed to serve as both dwelling and living temple to the gods. But it is said that the people of Dinas eventually came to believe themselves greater than the gods, replacing their idols with portraits glorifying their own achievements. Fair Dinas was cast down and sank deep into the earth, never to be seen again, but legend tells that some of their people survive and dwell still below the surface in their cold, dark halls, twisted with loathing and fear for the gods that condemned them.”

If you’re interested in getting involved with the Undying Lands feel free to join the Facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheUndyingLands/

Or if you can’t do that for some reason please shoot me a message at reddicediaries@gmail.com including the words Undying Lands in your email header. There’s a whole world of mystery and dangers out there just waiting for brave heroes to explore, we hope you’ll join us

The graphics in this post are from http://game-icons.net/ and are used under the creative commons licence.