Sniffing the Flowers in No-Man’s Land

The concept of “Edition Wars” never really struck a chord with me. I started my D&D life with Moldvay/Cook, and then bolted on all the cool stuff from AD&D (classes, races, monsters, spells). I later went to 2nd edition AD&D, ignoring anything I didn’t like and using the things I thought were cool (kits – at the time – being one of them). In 3rd edition I got tired of all the rules and hour long combats that would have taken 10 minutes in older versions of the game and ultimately abandoned it, but I never hated it and there were things in 3rd edition I thought were pretty clever.

And so it came to last Saturday night, when four of my daughter’s friends – aged 17 to 22 I think – gathered around my dining room table to learn D&D. To be more precise, they wanted to get their own game going, but since none of them have ever DM’d, and they knew I was a D&D-er from way back, they wanted to see how I ran a game. My daughter asked me if I was willing, and I was, and so the date was made.

Just a few weeks ago, I had started another D&D game because the wife of an old friend (and D&D player) wanted to try the game out. This game also included my daughter (who had played a couple times with me when she was younger), my friend (as I said, an old pro) and our wives, who had never really played. For this game, I decided to use Moldvay/Cook D&D for two reasons. The first is that I had just bought vintage boxed sets of both and wanted to play with my new toys. The other reason was that I wanted to use a game with few options and few rules so that people could ease into the game playing aspect without being overloaded with rules and regulations. We’re now three sessions in, adventuring in Jeff Rients’ Under Xylarthen’s Tower and I’ve only killed three characters … all of them belonging to my buddy, the most experienced player at the table.

So, having just successfully launched a game for novices with Moldvay/Cook, I figured that would be the best way to go with this new group. But then a complication arose … the kids had all gotten together (no including my daughter) and rolled up characters. With what version of rules I asked? D&D 5th Edition. Hmm.

The problem was that I didn’t have 5th edition and, frankly, I wasn’t going to get it. Nothing against it, but I just didn’t need another version of D&D and I didn’t have time to learn those new rules. I could have nixed the characters and required people roll up new ones for the session I was going to run, but I hate to quash youthful enthusiasm. I could have converted the characters to B&T, but since I knew they were ultimately going to play 5th edition I wanted this training session to be as useful to them as possible. My ultimate solution – I decided to wade into the No-Man’s Land between editions and cling to the faith that D&D is D&D and I could make these different editions work together with absolutely no preparation on my part.

It worked!

What did I end up running? I ran Michael Curtis’ Stonehell dungeon, which was written for Labyrinth Lord with my Blood & Treasure rules behind the DM screen and characters created in 5th edition D&D, except for my daughter, who ran a valley elf fighter named Moon Unit done in B&T. And – I want to stress – I went in 100% cold, with no knowledge of 5th edition other than the fact that lots of people think it’s pretty close to traditional D&D.

How did I handle the rules clash? If I was rolling it behind my DM screen, I was using a blend of Blood & Treasure (surprise, skill rules, saves) and a little old-fashioned D&D (listen at doors checks and reaction checks). If the players were rolling, I let them use what was on their character sheets, sometimes interpreting it through an old school lens. The first thing that took me back was the presence of more bonuses and higher ability scores in 5th edition than in old school games – not a shock, though, since I had played 3rd edition. To make up for the stronger fighting ability of the 5E crowd, I decided to bump monster Armor Classes by 2 points, and I rolled d10 for their hit points. This was after it looked like the characters were going to cut through the monsters like a hot knife through butter. After I made the change about halfway through the session, the fights got tougher and more fun.

I allowed the 5th edition healing rules and death rules to function as-is. If we were playing by old school rules, I killed three characters (including my daughters), two of them with a zombie who rolled really high on damage and who had as many hit points as he could have. Boy, did that zombie scare them. Since we used the new death rules, nobody died – which is fine. I’m not a killer DM, and hey, just getting knocked out scared the crap out of them and made the fights more fun.

The only hurdle I’m not 100% sure how to handle is XP. By 5th edition’s character XP chart, it seems like the group would advance very quickly through levels, making Stonehell too easy for them quickly. The group wants to stick with me as DM for a while longer and they want to explore the dungeon, so I need to keep it viable. For that reason, I think I’m going to use Blood & Treasure’s XP system, which they can then translate into 5th edition’s XP values when I hand over the DM’ing to the player who is planning to become the new DM.

So – moral of the story. Do not fear different editions. Though I can’t speak for 4th edition, which was a departure from the norm, I can say that different editions can work together IF … and this is important … IF you don’t care about getting things perfectly right from a rules standpoint, and just want to have an enjoyable, engaging, exciting game. Work with the players to make a good session, regardless of the rules, and you’ll all have a good time.

Oh – and I found an online character creator that allowed me to turn my daughter’s B&T elf fighter into a 5th edition elf fighter in about 5 minutes, with the exception of picking a feat or feats.

Grit & Treasure (Blood & Vigor?)

German warbird, or …

Work proceeds on Grit & Vigor. The last couple weeks have been spent gathering vehicle data, turning it into something useful, and brainstorming the rules for dogfights, car chases and inventions.

On the vehicle front, I now have data for about 1,400 tanks, cars and airplanes, and believe I have found a way to turn the raw data into game data. Just for fun, I thought I might throw out some comparisons between military vehicles from the olden days and Blood & Treasure monsters. Obviously, I need to look at some heavyweights.


The Neothelid – 25 HD wrapped up in acid-dripping, tentacled horror. Imagine it going toe-to-toe with a Russian T-18 tank. The tank is easier to hit, but can absorb some damage and deal it pretty well.

T-18: Huge Construct (Tank), HD 25 (88 hp), AC 19 (DR 6), SPD 10 mph (140), ATK 1 tank gun (8d8) and light machine gun (1d8), MVR +0, CP 2/0, WT 13,000 lb.

… fantasy robot – who would win in a fight?

The Balor Demon – 20 HD of demonic fury, roughly equivalent to a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. The Warhawk can deal more damage with its six heavy machine guns, but the Balor isn’t affected by such mundane weaponry. Better load that Warhawk up with magic bullets.

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk: Huge Construct (Fighter), HD 20 (70 hp), AC 16, SPD 360 mph (5280), ATK 6 heavy machine guns (2d6) and bombs (1000 lb), MVR +2, CP 1/0, CEILING 29,000 ft., WT 8,400 lb.

The Iron Golem – 18 HD of heavy metal death, the equal of Messerschmitt Bf.109 – though let’s be honest, one good strafe or bomb drop, and the iron golem’s iron hide and its vaunted magic immunity is going to go up in smoke.

Messerschmitt Bf.109: Large-X Construct (Fighter), HD 18 (63 hp), AC 16, SPD 398 mph (5830), ATK 2 heavy machine guns (2d6) and 1 medium machine gun (1d8) and bombs (550 lb), MVR +3, CP 1/0, CEILING 39,000 ft., WT 6,940 lb.

A few notes on the vehicles:

Size is based on weight (and how interesting would that be to do with all the monsters?). I used the full d20 scale (I only used Small to Huge in B&T), and added half-steps in. Size determines Hit Dice.

CP refers to crew and passengers. The crew is going to be making the attacks for the vehicle, so it’s their attack bonus that counts when firing their weapons.

The weapons here are generic, and the final stats will include their ROF and range. ROF works into the gun rules, with each addition round you fire at a target either increasing your chance to hit by +1, or contributing to an additional 1d6 damage at a rate of 5 rounds to 1d6 damage – player’s choice and they can mix and match (e.g. an extra 20 rounds of ammo can translate into a +20 bonus to hit, or +4d6 damage or something in between, like +10 to hit and +2d6 damage). The bombs I still haven’t decided on, but probably going to be treated as something like a fireball spell – damage dice and radius based on the poundage, with people and items passing saving throws to halve the damage. The game is really designed more for man vs. man, rather than man vs. B-17 Flying Fortress.

Speed is the vehicles top speed, in miles per hour and, in parentheses, feet per round. For car chases, I’m working out a system that uses top speed as a determinant for the difficulty of stunts, to make it easy for referees and players to create stats for vehicles without having to know much about them other than their weight, their style and their top speed.

Armor Class is based on the material of the vehicle’s skin, as well as its thickness. Size plays a part as well. Damage reduction (DR) is based on the thickness of the armor, since I needed a way to screen the tanks from weapons that, by right, shouldn’t be able to penetrate their armor.

MVR is maneuverability, which is based on the vehicle’s type and its power to weight ratio.

Not a perfect system, I know, but I think it will work well enough for game purposes. My focus is on three systems – aerial combat (aircraft vs. aircraft), car chases and a nod towards aircraft attacking land vehicles. G&V isn’t designed as a wargame, but the combat rules should be able to handle something as basic as two tanks plugging away at one another.

Oh, and just for fun …

Burrough’s Barsoom Scout Flyer: Large Construct (Fighter), HD 11 (39 hp), AC 20, SPD 300 mph (1460), ATK none, MVR +3, CP 5/0, CEILING 11,000 ft., WT 1,500 lb.

Nemo’s Nautilus: Colossal x5 Construct (Submarine), HD 250 (875 hp), AC 22, SPD 40 mph (580), ATK 1 ram, MVR -1, CP ???, DEPTH 52,000 ft., WT 1,500 tons

Well’s Martian Tripod: Huge-X Construct (Tank), HD 31 (109 hp), AC 22, SPD 10 mph (140), ATK 1 heat ray (10d6 fire) and black smoke projector (as cloudkill?), MVR +1, CP 1/0, WT 20,000 lb.

Martian Tripod vs. Balor – now that’s a fight I would pay to see!

40 Questions about the Wyvern Coast

Since I’m running a game on Google+ now, I thought I’d chime in with answers to these 40 questions that are floating about, along with a couple spell illustrations from Jon Kaufman (commission him – do it now).



1. Ability scores generation method? 3d6, arrange as you like

2. How are death and dying handled? Dead at 0 hp

3. What about raising the dead? Yes, but you have to find someone high enough level to do it, and they’ll want something in return

4. How are replacement PCs handled? Brought into the game as soon as possible, or one could make one of their retainers their new PC

5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Individual, though sometimes group makes more sense if there are too many combatants to allow individual initiative function smoothly

6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? Yeah … kinda … just wrote the rule into the playtest doc … haven’t used it yet; oh – no fumbles though

7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? Yes, and they are assumed to go with the suits of armor

8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? Yes

9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? You will need to run from some encounters

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

11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? Yes

12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? Very closely – logistics is part of the game

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? You level up at the end of a session, but spells have to be studied for – they don’t magically pop into your head; other forms of training are assumed to be “on the job”

14. What do I get experience for? Killing monsters, taking stuff, being clever

15. How are traps located? Searching (tell me how) and then maybe rolling dice

16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? Yes; they have a secret morale score and it is rolled on in stressful situations

17. How do I identify magic items? Detect magic, identify, etc, or finding somebody to cast those spells for you, or through experimentation

18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? Some alchemists can prepare a limited number of potions, otherwise no

19. Can I create magic items? When and how? Yes; when depends on what, as does how

20. What about splitting the party? Sure



1. What is the deal with my cleric’s religion? Phoenician deities, such as Kothar-wa-Khasis (god of artisans), Lotan (sea god), Baal-Zebul (evil), Astarte & Adonis (love, fertility), Melkarth (heroes) and Shedu (good); that being said, any deity from mythology is acceptable, any deity from fiction or your own little fevered mind might be acceptable

2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment? Jumda the Trader can supply most goods an adventurer needs

3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended? Jamab the Armorer

4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land? In Ophir, it is Jamala, court wizard of Zargo. Along the Wyvern Coast, probably Gilram of the Mists or Onort

5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land? In Ophir, both Balrah and Alod the Mad claim that they are the mightiest; either would pale in comparison to Holda the Iron Maiden (a dwarf), Sheleik the Berserker, Xaathan or Nemanta of the Black Capos; as for who is truly the greatest – challenge them and find out

6. Who is the richest person in the land? Prince Zargo of Ophir (as far as he knows), but Ephne the Oceanid is probably wealthier

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing? The Temple of Shedu, Astarte/Adonis or Kothar-wa-Khasis is your best bet in Ophir; Zelie, a druid of Zephyrus who dwells off the coast, would be another option

8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath? See above; you might also try Nokin the Healer or Lathiq the Barber for non-magical cures

9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells? No; you’ll have to worm your way into magic-user society if you want to trade spells

10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC? Lathba is a well-regarded sage in Ophir, and there is Nabe’ the alchemist

11. Where can I hire mercenaries? Put the word out and let people know where you’re conducting interviews – there are no “mercenary shops”, but the Bloody Bones tavern is a hang-out for many warriors (and the local guard – so be careful)

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law? Not in Ophir, though speaking above a whisper at night in the streets is considered taboo and people will regard you as untrustworthy

13. Which way to the nearest tavern? I would suggest one of the two drinking rooms at the Inn of 1000 Delights, but you could also visit the Bloody Bones tavern, Aigo’s Gambling House, Balbee’s Place (a brothel), Ubata’s Bordello or Mulla’s Place

14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous? Closest thing would be the corsairs who terrorize the coast; wyverns are always a problem on the Wyvern Coast, of course, and the ophidians beneath the earth are probably planning something nasty for mankind – no one particular baddie – many to choose from

15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight? Not on the Wyvern Coast. The men of Guelph are locked in never-ending battle (well, they take the winter months off) with the hobgoblins of the Klarkash Mts., the barons up north are always getting into spats, as are the rajs down south; the nomads of the steppe will probably sweep through the Motherlands again soon

16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes? Yes – pit fighting at Mulla’s

17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight? Wouldn’t you like to know … maybe you will

18. What is there to eat around here? Eel stew, lamb kabobs, rice kissed with saffron, braised almonds, pale ales, spiced wines, nut breads …

19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for? Absolutely

20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure? The Prince’s palace, or the tower of Kinyoth the Great Hag, or even Ephne’s palace beneath the waves

A few other things …

If you need a patron, try Hogo, Lady Nata, Riyad the Salt Merchant, Ubaha the Slaver, Balyad, Muta, Karma the Gentlewoman or Ubata the Caravan Master

Hoamir is a trader in jewels and gems

Alulla is a moneychanger, and as trustworthy as any of her profession

The Mercantyl Guild might offer a place to store your valuables


There may be a couple spots open in a 6th level party now exploring an ancient galley they just found in a dry, dusty cave a few miles from the coast. Just shoot me an email (address is next to my picture above) if you’re interested in my play-by-post Google+ game, or if you’d like an opportunity to bring your FLAILSNAILs character into Nod for a visit.

Into the Land of Nod

And so it has begun!

Last weekend, I officially started two things – my Blood and Treasure playtest and a foray into the hex crawls I’ve written for the Land of Nod using Google +. The games are play-by-post – maybe someday I’ll have enough time to run some ConstantCon games with Google hangouts, but for now pbp will have to do.

Eleven brave souls have stepped forward to brave Nod, and I’ve split them into two teams, which I’ve nicknamed Team Blood and Team Treasure.

Team Blood was placed at 3rd level. It currently consists of a lawful gnome cleric of Hercules, a human paladin, an elf fighter, a halfling duelist, a dwarf ranger and his guard dog and a human fighter. Their foray into Nod has begun in the wicked city of Ophir, where they’ve already had the opportunity to save a boy and his frog from an escaped carnivorous ape. Team Blood is now gathering at the Bloody Bones Tavern to talk things over.

Meanwhile, Team Treasure was placed at 6th level and consists of an elf duelist, elf ranger, dwarf barbarian, half-elf sorcerer and human cleric of Atlas. This group was lured to Ophir to collect a possible inheritance from an archmage they all had known in the past, but found themselves conked on the head for their trouble. Waking up, they witnessed their attackers fleeing the scene due to some confusion (apparently a carnivorous ape that was in their possession escaped into the city streets), taking with them a single belonging of one of the PC’s. They’re now hot on the trail of the two thieves.

If anyone else would like to adventure in the Land of Nod, look for me on Google + (John Stater) and let me know. I can’t promise to get you in on the action immediately, but once there are enough adventurers lined up, I can start a new group (Team Ampersand?) and set you loose on the sandbox.

Image of a human bard by Jon Kaufman from the forthcoming Blood and Treasure RPG.

Blood and Treasure Playtest + Google+ = NOD CAMPAIGN

A couple posts ago I mentioned the idea of doing a Google + campaign set in Nod using all those hex crawls I’ve written. I’ve also been thinking about the eventual need for Blood and Treasure playtesting. So … it took me this long to realize I could be doing both at the same time. If enough people are interested, I’d love to stage the hex crawling with multiple parties at different skill levels. So – let the call go out far and wide that the recruitment has officially begun. If you would like to be involved, you need to meet the following requirements:

1) Be on Google +

2) Email me (my address is next to my picture in the column to the right) or leave a comment here stating you would like to play. If you leave a comment and I can’t find your email address or find you on Google +, you’re officially out of luck.

Character generation will be as follows …

1) You contact me letting me know you want to play. I’ll send you a streamlined version of the character creation chapter – all the basics on races, classes, buying equipment, etc. You will have the following races and classes open to you:

Races: Human, dwarf, elf, gnome, halfling, half-elf, half-orc

Classes: Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Duelist, Fighter, Magic-User, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Sorcerer, Thief.

As the game proceeds and characters are killed, I’ll open up some of the monster races to play – aasimar, centaurs, tieflings … that sort of thing … so they can be tested as well.

2) I hook up with you on Google + and send you a randomly generated set of ability scores using the 3d6 method. You can arrange them as you like and let me know the class and race you want to play, what equipment you want, etc. I’ll review and make sure everything is correct.

Once we have a crop of characters, I’ll organize them into parties (or party, depending on how many people are interested). I’ll also randomly assign people a number of XP and thus a level – this allows me the opportunity to test different levels and the overall deadliness of the system.

Once the parties are organized, I will start them out in a city-state with two or three random rumors and then you’re free to do whatever you want. The game will be a picaresque – no major earth shattering quest and storytime, just a bunch of ne’er-do-wells roaming about the countryside getting into trouble and trying to make a name for themselves.

Play will be “play-by-post”  like the Mystery Men! game I’m currently running, so you don’t need to set aside a particular time to play. I wish I could do some face-to-face video chat stuff, but my schedule makes that difficult.

If you’re interested, let me know!

Image from Thomas Haller Buchanon’s blog The Pictorial Arts. Check it, Nodsters.

The Gas Mines of Regulon-4

Finally got to sit down with the Daughter of Nod last night and play some Space Princess. You met the core of her crew a few days ago. We added a couple more for this run-through – a veteran gynoid star warrior named XJ9 (pronounced “nye-in”, for those who never saw the cartoon) and a genius scientist named Egon. It gave me a chance to find the missing parts in the game and tinker with the mechanics. It also was pretty fun. Here’s a brief re-cap:

The gas mines are located on a small moon of Regulon-4, which is surrounded by a sort of asteroid belt / ring structure like Saturn. They represent a forward base for the empire of Lord Kang. Recently, one of the space cruisers of Kang overtook the royal yacht of the Princess Miranda and captured her. The dreadnaught took her to the gas mines, where she will be held until Kang can arrive and “convince” her to marry him, thus uniting his empire with the the Space Kingdom of New Avalon. Or something like that.

My daughter’s crew has managed to sneak into the gas mines via a forgotten shaft that runs through an exhaust port for the radium furnaces located beneath the main mine structure. A diversion caused by a wing of star fighters allowed their shuttle to land in a nearby crater on the rocky, barren, slightly radioactive moon.

The action kicked off with them sneaking into the exhaust port. This was a room divided by a 10-ft wide chasm through which radioactive green gasses were vented. There was a door and control panel on the other side of the room that looked as though it extended a bridge. Every so often, gasses would be vented. The crew were in space suits, so being in the presence of the radioactivity was not a problem, but being caught in the exhaust would probably kill them. Declining to use Lum’s “leap and swing” skill to vault the chasm, and instead sent Egon, with his anti-grav belt, across. Once there, he commandeered the control panel and extended the bridge. The crew waited for a venting of the gasses and then hurried across. Egon opened the door and they made their way into the complex.

A few turns later, they were listening at doors. Behind one there were many voices, so they passed it by. Another was fairly silent, so they opened it to find a sleeping carnelian space dragon and dozens of silvery gas canisters. They closed the door before it awoke and tried the door across the hall, which had the sound of industrial machinery.

This room had a balcony overlooking several machines that were extracting gas from the asteroid and packing it in the cannisters. Two maintenance drones were working here and ignored the group. The balcony had, one either end, two silvery discs implanted in the floor. Declining to look at these (I think she forgot they were there), Egon again used his anti-grav belt to reach the floor 20 feet below. Realizing the others were still trapped up there, and with some prodding by dad, she tried out a disc and found that it was a sort of elevator. When the whole crew got to the floor below, they checked out an exit door. This led into a small, 10×10 metal room with another door. Stepping in, they triggered a freeze gas trap, but all managed to duck back out before they were frozen. Egon went to work on the trap and disabled it, allowing them to enter yet another room.

This room was piled high with the gas canisters, all labeled and organized. As they entered, a computer voice asked them their business. Not knowing what to say, they quickly moved checked out another door, which led to another freeze gas trap. A third door led into a long room occupied by a floating black hole. Egon identified it as a graviton, a dangerous creature, so they retreated. Now, the computer voice was asking for a pass code. Egon managed to find a control panel and got lucky, entering a code and quieting the voice.

Passing through the trapped room, they enter a sort of small break room – coffee dispensers, chairs, tables. [Made me think of this – some language NSFW]. Sitting in here were three bounty hunters, which we nicknamed Space Cowboy, Space Pirate and Evil Space Suit. A fight breaks out, and after young Dr. Zaius is nearly killed (he has to spend a luck point to avoid death), the good guys finally prevail. Unfortunately, they’ve taken some damage by now. Egon and Dr. Zaius get to work jerry-rigging a medi-kit from spare parts (they take apart a communicator and locator device found on the bounty hunters, and also find another anti-grave belt and three ray guns for the scientists and psychic). While they’re working on the medi-kit (takes an hour), a wandering probe-bot enters the room, stunning the scientists with an blue cone of light and nearly killing the psychic by the time they’re done. Its spare parts are added to the scientists’ collection, the medi-kit is used to do some healing (three uses, only three were then left), and the group gets a move on.

Their next encounter comes as they enter a large arena, setting off alarms. A slasher (essentially a robotic marilith demon) is lifted into the arena and attacks. it is defeated, but when the group tries to leave the way they entered, they find a squad of soldiers coming their way. They quickly close the doors and Egon locks them. As the soldiers blast at the doors, the group opens the other exit. Only one soldier is posted there, and he is quickly dispatched with a hail of ray gun fire. Running down the long corridor, they trip a pit trap. Zaius and Crow T. Robot fall in and have to be rescued using the anti-grav belts. The group moves to the end of the corridor and finds an elevator.

The elevator, once activated, takes them up to the plush quarters of Lord Kang, who is not present yet. Here, they find the bound Princess Miranda and a hideous Star Inquisitor. The inquisitor uses its mental domination and turns Zaius and Lum against the party. Now, XJ9 and Crow engage the Star Inquisitor while Egon tries to subdue Zaius and Zora Lum. Egon makes pretty quick work of his student, but Lum kills Zora. Egon then subdues Lum. In the meantime, the Star Inquisitor has been slowly beating Crow while the two robots, immune to his psychic powers, chip away at him. In the end, the Star Inquisitor is subdued by a final ray gun blast from Egon (probably the party’s MVP for the session) and Lum and Zaius are released from his grip.

At this point, we stopped because it was getting late. Getting back out of the fortress while it was on alert would have been daunting, but fun.

Addenda: I used my handy dandy chamber generator to make this adventure on the fly while we played. Initially, there were no gas mines, but when the first four rooms ended up with “Gas” as special, it became a gas mining station. That, ladies and gentleman, is the value of random tables.

News of the World [Mystery Men! Dark Renaissance]

The players in my Google + Mystery Men! game continue to hunt down clues from Seattle to Washington DC. But as they do so, world tensions are rising …

News of the World

March 17, 1962


New York City – Tension continues to rise on news of a break-in attempt at the Old Senate Office Building and angry exchanges at the United Nations. After a day of attacks on military targets in the United States by American super villains, Soviet Ambassador Zorin issued an angry reprieve to those who have blamed communist agents for these attacks, declaring such accusations are based purely on “falsified information” from the FBI. In fact, Zorin went on to say, he believed these attacks were mere ruses to cover up American involvement in similar attacks on infrastructure within the Soviet Union, including the destruction of a dam and the sabotage of the Voskhod spacecraft in development in the USSR. American ambassadors countered that the United States government has made no such accusations of Soviet involvement and that accusations of American sabotage in the USSR are completely baseless. Nonetheless, each nation remains at a high state of alert.

Washington DC – After a successful robbery of the home of Senator Henry Haskel (D-Ala.) that netted the thief top secret papers, an unsuccessful attempt, possibly by the same burglar, was made last night on the senator’s office at the Old Senate Office Building. At approximately 3:00 unknown assailant, apparently “cloaked in darkness” according to eyewitnesses, wrenched open the locked window of Sen. Haskel’s office with “super-human” strength. The presence of the Bronze Statesman on guard in the office and heavy security by military personnel chased away the villain. This comes as tensions between the United States and Soviet Union are at an all-time high.

Chicago – After fighting the “Great Train Robbers” in the morning, popular heroes Firefly and Green Mask joined forces again to foil an attempted armored car robbery near 13th St and Wabash by known criminal Doctor Magno. Magno stood little chance against the combined efforts of Firefly and the Green Mask, and is now in police custody awaiting trial and transportation to Iron Island in Shore City, OH. Two associates of Doctor Magno escaped the scene in a 1958 Packard sedan after showering the two heroes with machine gun fire.

New York City – Negotiations between the Port Authority and the New York City Council continue over the site of the planned World Trade Center.Current plans would require the demolition of the Hudson Terminal building of the H&M Railroad and the demolition of famed Radio Row.

Washington DC – The U.S. Space Administration announced today that space agent Scott C will replace Deke S of the famed Rocketeers on their planned Mars expedition. Deke S had to withdraw from the program due to a heart condition discovered during a routine medical exam. Team leader Rocky X was unavailable for comment.

Mexidor – In the run-up to the long awaited elections in the Central American nation of Mexidor between the ruling, pro-American Democracy Party and the pro-Soviet Workers’ Dignity Party, there have been many stories of campaign shenanigans, dirty tricks and even violence. But now people in the hill country are spinning yarns about purple zombies seen wandering the hills and attacking livestock. Mexidor’s authorities have found no evidence that these spooks are real, and blame the sightings on a campaign of fear by the WDP. Dr. Albert Hale of New York University was unavailable for comment.

New York City – A 200 year tradition for New York City continues today with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Residents are warned that streets around the parade route, which extends from 5th Avenue and 44th Street to 86th Street, will be blocked and traffic congestion should be significant.

Prelude to War! [Mystery Men! Dark Renaissance]

The Mystery Men! Dark Renaissance campaign I’m running on Google+ is a week old and going well. The game is currently taking place in four localities, which I’ve turned into circles on Google+. There is also a Dark Renaissance circle for communications with all the players. Today I posted the first “News of the World” – a way for players to get inklings of what is happening in the campaign world, especially in the other cities. I’m going to post those news updates here as well so people can get an idea of what’s happening in the camapaign.

News of the World
Evening Edition
March 16, 1962


Washington DC – J. Edgar Hoover has given top priority to solving a series of super villain attacks at United States military installations which his spokesmen said could be a “prelude to war.” The military remains on high alert, in the aftermath of attacks at the naval yards in San Diego and Seattle, air bases in Las Vegas, NV, San Bernardino, CA,Lincoln, NB and central Oklaholma, and Fort Bliss in Texas. Only one of the criminals, known by the moniker “Super Size”, was apprehended by naval personnel in an attackon the USS Courser at Seattle’s Bremerton Naval Base.

Tensions were further raised when it was reported that Sen. Henry Haskel (D-Alabama), head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was assaulted in his own home by a masked, super-powered assailant whose identity is being kept confidential by the FBI. Together with the attacks on military bases, this assault has put the United States on high alert. President Kennedy is expected to speak to the nation tonight about these events and the way forward for the United States.

L to R: Pinball King, Sunburst and Shatter

Chicago – Union Station in Chicago has experienced a “Great Train Robbery”, in which three super powered criminals, identified by authorities as “Sunburst”, “Shatter” and “Pinball King”, did their predecessors one better by actually stealing the train. Shatter was apprehended at the scene with the help of the heroes known as “Firefly” and “Green Mask”. Firefly sustained injuries in the brawl but was released by police doctors after regaining consciousness and showing no signs of permanent injury.

New York – Mass panic at the Emigrant Savings Bank located on Broadway, as rats swarmed the bank, sending patrons fleeing into the streets. Injuries among patrons and employees were minor. Police say the rats were a diversion, as crooks entered the bank’s subterranean vaults and made off with an as yet unknown amount of loot. The FBI does not believe this attack on the bank is connected with the attacks on several military targets in the United States by super-powered criminals.

Geneva – Talks between France and Algeria continued in Geneva today, with spokesmen saying the two sides were “very close” to a substantial agreement to end the Algerian War. Nationalist elements in France claim they will recognize no such agreement and that the “war will continue until their cause is won.”

Manila – U.S. Military Intelligence is investigating the disappearance of Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 over the Western Pacific, enroute from Saigon to Manila. The Lockheed Super Constellation went down with 11crew and 96 military passengers. Sabotage is suspected.

As always, heroes illustrated with the help of Fabrica Herois.

Mystery Men! Dark Renaissance Villains

Yeah, I’ve made some villains for the Dark Renaissance campaign this weekend. Some are public domain, some are original.

Now, I’m not guaranteeing all of them will actually be used, but I wanted some options. If nothing else, I have some articles ready for future issues of NOD.

Thought I’d add to this some of the names of the original villains – find them all in the image above and win the admiration and respect of your peers!

Acid Arrow
Black Beard’s Ghost
British Bombshell
Chaos Hammer
Cloudkill (noticing a pattern to some of these?)
Grimalkin (formerly known as Faster Pussycat)
Gongthrottle (yeah, love to cross over with my other stuff)
Harletron 3000
King Seth
Pinball King
Shayna McBain
Silver Slasher
Super Size
Swamp Billy

Super villain images created using Fabrica Herois.

PARS FORTUNA Playtest Time

So, the old band got together last night to do a play test of PARS FORTUNA. It was fun, and generally I was happy with the results. A few take aways:

1. The olvugai (the tentacled critter to the right) was the belle of the ball. Dubbed “the potato”, he was the focus of most of the one-liners, i.e. pushing into the middle of a band of nizzertits (the kobolds of Pars Fortuna) so that he could attack to the front and back was termed a “classic potato maneuver”, the olvugai’s heavy armor was described as tin foil, “of the nizzertits show up with sour cream and chives, watch out”, “hand me my angry eyes”, etc.

2. Pars Fortuna is definite old school and my group is not really old school – the lack of combat bonuses for the warriors at first level (or second level) took a few people by surprise, and despite a gentle nudge, henchmen were rejected. Of course, henchmen were sounding better after the first TPK.

3. Oh yeah – I needed to adjust the wandering monster numbers – a large group of wandering nizzertits caused the TPK, and a later band of wandering osks came close to pulling a second. Easy adjustment.

4. The combat system worked very well, and everybody liked it. I was especially pleased with that. The special maneuvers system was also well liked (i.e. declare a special attack, make your roll at -2 to hit, if you hit AC normally, you do damage, if you beat AC by 4 or more, you do your special maneuver).

5. Tweaking the magic system a little, primarily in the random consequences of trying to cast more spells than normally allowed.

So, a few tweaks, but nothing too major. The other happy news is that I finished writing the last 24 magic items today. The game rules are now finished – 12 new race/classes, 100 new monsters, 120 new magic items, 100 converted spells new to Old School gaming and alternate rules for spell casting, combat procedures and weapons and armor. Now I just need to do a bit more editing, write a quick sample dungeon level and small wilderness hexcrawl and do an appendix with some conversion notes for other old school games, and PARS FORTUNA is ready to be published