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.

Rose of Westhaven Sideview Map

If you’re a player in my ROSE OF WESTHAVEN campaign, please stop reading now.

As some of you may be aware, I’ve contracted map fever whilst running my OSR Midderlands LOTFP campaign; one of the things we discussed in our session zero is that the players wanted to do plenty of dungeon-crawling during the campaign, so I started off drawing a few maps and reading online tutorials. I’m getting to point now where I’m really enjoying working out how the maps link together, to this end I decided to draw a sideview map showing the various elevations and locations of the different dungeon maps in the area around Porthcrawl (our game’s Homebase).

I’ve not got round to drawing a finished version yet but have roughed out the layout using Notepad.

Writer’s Block

Okay, so I’m sat at work at the moment on my dinner break, still suffering from lack of sleep/sleep apnea (hospital appointment soon) and thinking about some particularly non-exciting work I have to do this afternoon, I’ve also got the first game for a 5E Ravenloft (not Curse of Strahd) game I’m running tomorrow and also my regular LOTFP game to run on Sunday. It’s at this point when the dreaded writer’s block strikes.

I’ve already sent out some basic campaign details for the Kingdom of Angels Ravenloft campaign and I have a fair idea of what my PCs are going to do in our Westhaven LOTFP campaign:

  • Kingdom of Angels: Groups of people who have somehow failed their deity find themselves pulled into a dark realm ruled over by the religious tyrant known as the Pontifex.
  • Rose of Westhaven: The PCs are planning to explore the catacombs below the church in Porthcrawl, they also have been summoned to a meeting with the local Lord at the start of the session.

Writer’s block always annoys me, particularly at the moment when I’m reading more books (fiction and non-fiction), comics and watching more films than I do normally, if anything I should have a surfeit of ideas, unfortunately my sleep-deprived brain doesn’t work like that. So this is what I’m going to do in order to try and beat my writer’s block:

  • Jot down some random ideas that I find interesting.
  • Use these to create a very rough sessions plan.
  • Have a skim through some of my RP books that have a similar flavour to what I want.
  • Have a look at the Big List of RPG Plots.
  • Go through the player character sheets and background to see if there are any threads I can pull on there.
  • Have a scroll through Pinterest and look for some inspiring images.

I’ll let you know how I get on 🙂

In the meantime, post in the comments and let me know how you deal with writer’s block, or are you one of the lucky few who never suffers from it?

How like the Midderlands is Rose of Westhaven?

As I’ve mentioned in my main campaign page, our Rose of Westhaven campaign is heavily influenced by Monkey Blood Design’s Midderlands OSR campaign setting and bestiary, I wanted to jot down some notes about how far that inspiration goes.

Campaign Genesis

The Rose of Westhaven first started germinating as a campaign idea after I picked up a copy of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, the OSR game written by James Raggi. I’d steered clear of it previously because–every time I saw people talking about the game–they had either one or two reactions, it was either “Ewww, no, it’s obscene and weird” or people going “Yeah, it’s so metal and extreme, wooooo!”

The reality–as if often the case–was somewhere between the two, yes LotFP does have some artwork that’s risqué and a lot of the supplements tend to really ramp up the gruesomeness or the weird horror vibe (which I don’t mind TBH), but the actual corebook itself is a well written and tidy OSR game. Without getting into the system details, LotFP posits a fairly brutal version of old-school D&D with a streamlined skill system and a slightly darker background, more akin to the old WFRP than more traditional D&D. As someone who started roleplaying with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay I found this style very appealing, the game also contains optional rules for blackpowder firearms, with many of the supplements being set in worlds that have a more renaissance vibe to them than the traditional pseudo-medieval worlds used in a lot of OSR games.

I’m a big fan of this book, so it didn’t take me long to start looking around for a group of players and thinking about what sort of campaign I would run with it, I’m lucky enough to have a group of people who were enthusiastic to give it a shot.

Creating the Campaign

Originally when I sat down, I had loads of ideas racing through my head so I grabbed my trusty notebook and jotted down a few things I definitely wanted to be in the world that I was designing:

  • A slightly later time-period than normal.
  • Black powder firearms.
  • Some sort of large-scale conflict as a backdrop.
  • A conflict between modern and ancient religions.
  • A rationale for dungeon-crawling.
  • A world with ancient mythology.
  • The Mythos.

After taking a short while to look at this list and mull it over I decided that–whilst not impossible–creating all of this stuff from scratch was going to be a massive investment of time for a game whose lifespan was (at the time of creation) uncertain, I’ve seen lots of games where the GM has spent ages creating a world and the campaign itself never really gets of the ground or folds. Of course you can always recycle stuff and use it in other games, but I also didn’t want to have to be making loads of stuff up entirely on the fly.

Familiar Ground

I often find that–if I want to create a campaign but not make it up whole-cloth–taking inspiration from a film, a book series or the real-world can be a great shortcut. You just file the serial numbers off it, and it can serve as a great source of inspiration, and if you do have to make up something you can refer back to your source material for guidance. I decided to go for using a fantasy version of Great Britain and Ireland, since this gives me a wealth of folklore to draw on and is also quite familiar to myself, originally I decided to start the players on the coast (since I’d been reading Alas for the Awful Sea) near a small made-up village near the coat of Wales (originally referred to as Fada Siar in our campaign).

Research & Decisions

It was about this time that I started considering what sort of time period I wanted to run it in, since I’d already decided that I wanted to run the game in a slightly later time period than the standard medieval and wanted a background conflict, I started looking at the English Civil Wars and the Tudor Period. I decided to take inspiration from both of them, creating a setting torn apart by a conflict between staunch Royalists and freedom-loving Parliamentarians. Previously the countries had been ruled by a strong royal dynasty, but a leader amongst the common(er) folk had arisen and was leading a rebellion against the old ways.

I grabbed a number of books from local shops at this point and watched a number of BBC documentaries to supplement my historical knowledge (since I’m no history buff), and found that I was enjoying reading about history far more knowing I was going to be using the information to inspire a project rather than simply reciting them at school or similar.

Further Inspiration

Whilst creating the campaign I had noticed the kickstarter for Monkey Blood Design’s Midderlands campaign, I originally backed it because it was set in a fantasy version of the Midlands in England, which is where I live. When I received the book I was blown away by it (as you can no doubt tell from my review) and was surprised by just how neatly the material in the Midderlands book dovetailed with the game that we’d already established. I decided to start overtly using information and ideas from the Midderlands book in my campaign, after letting my players know I then started to move some of the campaign information (which had originally been in a PDF for the players) to this website (you can see it by clicking on the Rose of Westhaven link).

Potential Issues

One of the potential issues with importing a lot of the Midderlands wholesale is that my characters began far to the south of the area that has been detailed thus far in the Midderlands book. Luckily Monkey Blood Design are releasing a second book for this setting soon (as of time of writing) that is going to expand the setting to cover the rest of Britain and Ireland, Glynn Seal was kind enough to send me a low-resolution copy of the map that will be in the second book so I have a vague idea what sort of stuff is going to be covered. However, if my players decide they want to go somewhere before I get my hands on the book then I’m just going to have to create a version of the area myself (taking inspiration from the real-life source material) and then either ignore or reconcile the “official” version when I get my hands on that sweet, sweet second book.

TBH although I’ve called this a potential issue, it’s not really much of a problem. A lot of our campaign was made up wholesale and then fitted around the stuff that I wanted to incorporate from the Midderlands campaign setting, for example my use of the Old Ones from the Cthulhu Mythos as pagan gods worshipped by some of the Fade Siar tribes. In-fact the name of the Welsh analogue in our campaign is a good example, when I originally created the setting I called it Fada Siar, meaning Far Land in the Elven tongue (I used a celtic online translator or something similar for this), but in the Midderlands campaign book it is called Oldenwale. It wasn’t difficult to say that Fada Siar is the Elven name for the country and that Oldenwale is the more commonly used human name. I’m pretty sure that if I continue taking inspiration from the real-world (as the writers of Midderlands obviously do) then I should be able to flex my setting to incorporate other stuff; however, if we do come across bits in the new book that can’t be used as they are then I’ll go with what we’ve already established in the campaign.

My players are already making noises about heading to the nearby Hexenmoor which–looking at the map and similarities of the name–would appear to be based largely on Exmoor (presumably with a magical twist), it’s pretty easy to find some of that areas folklore and customs online so if they get there before I’ve got the book then I’ll take inspiration from this and see where we end up. I’ve already warned them about a devilish beast that is believed to prowl the area.

 

Want to make campaign creation easier? Make like Doctor Frankenstein

JosIn-case anyone is planning to point it out, I’m aware that the featured image for this post in Frankenstein’s monster rather than Frankenstein himself 😉

Any of us who’ve created and ran a campaign world–whatever the game may be–you know that it can be an awful lot of work. Not only are you having to put in all the normal amounts of session prep, but you’re spending time between games creating mythologies, drawing maps, not to mention the work that goes in before the campaign even starts, creating the bedrock of the campaign setting so that your players have some idea what world they’ll be adventuring in. This isn’t to say the campaign creation can’t be fun, if–like me–you enjoy creating stories and seeing things scribbled on paper come to life in games, then you probably get a lot of enjoyment from campaign creation, it’s still a lot of work though.

So what can you do about it?

I think that one of the greatest mistakes that some GMs make–when it comes to campaign creation–is assuming that they have to create 100% of the campaign world from scratch. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whilst creating elements of your campaign whole-cloth can be very rewarding and satisfying, it also drastically increases the amount of time you’ll spend agonising over your campaign world notes. We all have non-game stuff going on in life competing for our limited free time, and sometimes it can be difficult to find the time to sit down and spend hours writing up whole swathes of a campaign world.

Now there are a few different approaches you could take to get around this:

  • Just wing it

Don’t worry too much about your campaign world prep and just wing the details you need. This obviously cuts down your prep to pretty much nothing and can work, but only if you are confident in your improvisational skills and take copious notes (or have a really good memory), otherwise your liable to find yourself running into trouble as you forget details previously established in play.

  • Use a pre-published campaign setting

This has the advantage that a lot of the work is done for you, but you’ll still have to read all of the campaign book and tweak it to fit your specific group. There’s also the potential issue of one of your players knowing the established setting better than you do.

  • Frankenstein approach

In much the same way as Doctor Frankenstein created his monster from the stitched together body parts of different people, I suggest doing the same when creating your campaign. Don’t restrict yourself to just using a single campaign, take bits and pieces from different pre-published campaigns, adventure modules, etc, stitch them together and then fill in any cracks with your own creations. Using this method will create a campaign world that still feels like your campaign, but will save you having to create absolutely everything from scratch.

Example of the Frankenstein Approach

This approach is one that I’ve been moving towards since becoming more interested in OSR gaming, since a lot of those systems are broadly compatible it makes sense to beg, steal and borrow maps, pictures and text from the many and various different sources. Currently I’m using this approach for my Rose of Westhaven LOTFP campaign. When I began the campaign I started with the naïve assumption that I’d have enough time to detail every last little thing, health issues and other real-life factors quickly disabused be of this notion.

  • Here’s what I did

I definitely didn’t want to wrap up the game, because I was–and still am–having great fun running it and my players seem to really be enjoying it, but I also didn’t want to short-change them by presenting a wishy-washy, sketchy campaign world just because I didn’t have the time to develop it fully. In addition to the hand-drawn maps I’d created I had already started taking different maps from the internet to save me time.

For example: Porthcrawl Village, Salazaar’s Tower and the Church of Peaceful Repose in my campaign are all maps that I found online and then imported into Roll20, Google Image Search is your friend when it comes to finding maps. Even if you can’t find something 100% right for your game, locate something that is pretty near to what you want and then alter it, it’ll still save you a bucket-load of time.

A little while ago I backed a Kickstarter for the Midderlands OSR setting and bestiary, set in a fantasy version of Britain and Ireland, recently I started to notice how well this campaign setting dovetailed with the information that I’d already established for our campaign. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a 100% match, but it was near enough that I could see how I could get a lot of material from the Midderlands and import it into my campaign without having to make too many alterations.

For example: Midderlands comes with a map containing a fantasy version of the Midlands in the UK, since this is on a larger scale than the map I’m currently using, it won’t be difficult–when we zoom out from our current campaign map–to incorporate it into the larger Midderlands world map. An expanded version of the map that shows the Midderlands version of Britain and Ireland is about to drop onto Kickstarter soon as part of a second book in the series, I’m planning to back that and use the maps from it for my campaign.

The book also contains a lot of folkloric information that has been adapted from real-world folklore and information, since it uses the same sources as my campaign setting it will be easy to incorporate, especially since our campaign takes place in a different time period to the default Midderlands campaign.

Advice for Using the Frankenstein Approach

There are a few things that are normally easy to incorporate into your campaign setting:

  • Maps: There are loads of different maps and images available on the internet via Google Image Search, these are incredibly easy to drop into a game, just find a map that looks like a tower, town or whatever and then write your own key and details to go with it.
  • Adventure Modules: Depending on your choice of genre and games the ease of using adventure modules may vary, however, there are plenty of generic adventure modules out there that could be re-skinned to use in your campaign, even modules that have specific game stats can be altered to work with your own campaign. Make some notes on the book and look up equivalent stats for your system of choice and then run with it.
  • Pictures: A picture paints a thousand words, having an image of an NPC or an item found by your heroes can really help to provide visual impact for your game, again here Google Image Search is your friend, but you can also find suitable images in magazines and RPG products, even if they’re not perfect, as long as they give your players an idea then it’s a useful shortcut.
  • Campaign details: It’s often harder to convert elements from a published campaign to incorporate into your own, depending on how much flexibility your existing ideas give you to add new stuff in or alter old details, this is why I prefer to paint the broad-strokes of a campaign world and only drill down to the detail as necessary, it gives me more wiggle-room when it comes to incorporating material from other sources.

Joseph Teller mentioned the important point that it is very possible when using this method to create a monstrosity whose flaws only become visible further down the line, I think this is a good point and certainly something to keep in mind when you’re stitching extra material into your campaign. Joseph says that–in his opinion this method only really works for shorter lived games–I think it’s certainly easier to pull off and requires less forethought with shorter games, but as long as you’re careful it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for a longer game IMO.

More one-shots for 2018

I generally don’t go in for New Year’s resolutions very much, in my opinion most of them get broken shortly afterwards so I’ve never really seen the point in enshrining them as a resolution, if you’re going to do something then just do it. That said there are a few things–gaming wise–that I would like to do in 2018:

  • Continue my Westhaven LOTFP campaign: all being well we’ll be doing session 6 of this campaign this weekend, the game has been going well and there’s only been a single PC fatality so far. I’ve recently transferred some of the campaign data onto this site and am very much enjoying my first taste of OSR GM-ing, I’m hoping to keep the campaign going for some time.
  • Start up two Ravenloft 5E campaigns: I’ve been enjoying playing 5E recently as part of the Role with Advantage Facebook community, and it’s inspired me to have a go at running a campaign. I decided to go for a Ravenloft-style campaign, because who doesn’t like gothic horror? Just to put the idea of the game out there and try to generate a bit more interest I “advertised” it on my normal Facebook page as well as my Red Dice Diaries page and in various RP communities that I frequent online, the response was great with more people than I can cram into a single group expressing interest. To accommodate the interested parties I’ve split them into two groups and plan to have two separate groups of adventurers knocking around my version of Ravenloft, each game is only going to run once a month so I’m hoping this should be manageable.
  • Continue playing 5E with RWA: Speaking of Role with Advantage, I’m having great fun playing in some excellent games ran by André Martinez and hope these continue well into the New Year.
  • Run more one-shots in 2018: I’ve always found running low(er) prep one-shots and pick-up games to be enjoying and challenging in equal measures (many of the one-shots I’ve run can be found here on my YouTube channel) but found herding players and the other various bits of admin a real chore that could suck away enthusiasm faster than Dracula sucks down the red stuff. To try and make things a bit easier on myself in 2018 I’ve made a Facebook group featuring people who have played in my games in the recent past and who I have found to be reliable, my hope is that by advertising my games in this group first I’m more likely to get players; of course if that fails to secure enough players then I’ll advertise the remaining places in the usual communities online.
  • Release Storm & Sail: The pirate-fantasy campaign for Fate written by myself and Lloyd Gyan is pretty much ready to go, all the writing is done we’re just waiting for a final few pieces of artwork, after that it’s a few last minute layout tweaks and I should be able to release the PDF onto Drivethru RPG.
  • Release more Fate Thins: I really enjoyed writing and releasing my Fate mini-campaign books as PWYW PDFs on Drivethru, I’m hoping to release some more in 2018.
  • Expand my RPG writing: I’ve been playing several different games over the last year and going into 2018, I’m considering expanding my RPG writing beyond the Fate system, although I think to do so it’d have to be a system that I was really familiar with.

So those are my current roleplaying plans for 2018, let me know what your are in the comments 🙂

October 2017 Blog Carnival – Superstitions

I’ve not written anything on the Blog Carnival for a while, I finally put pen to paper (well fingers to keyboard but you get the idea) when I read a post on Of Dice and Dragons talking about superstitions in RPG campaign worlds. In the post a challenge was thrown down to write about a superstition in our own campaign world. I’ve just started up my Rose of Westhaven, Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign set in a fantasy world roughly based on Civil War/Tudor England. Lamentations has three non-human races by default: Dwarves, Elves and Halflings, to create a slightly more phobic and close-minded atmosphere I wanted to make these races a little more eerie and inhuman.

The race where this is most obvious at the moment (because a player rolled one as a character) is the Elves, they have bluish skin and bleed a clear liquid that smells like elder-flowers.

When it comes to the Elves in my setting there are a few superstitions that may or may not be true:

Continue reading

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.