Gamer's Notebook

Gamer's Notebook -- Kicktraq Mini

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Issue 4 Contents



Issue 4 of Oubliette is due for release next week.

Here's an advance look at the contents:

  • Weapons Test – A Labyrinth Lord Adventure with Guns
  • Monster Club #6 – Zombies
  • Firearm Rules for Labyrinth Lord Part 3 – The Monsters Fight Back
  • Tales from Hell – Buckets of Legend
  • Monster Club #7 – Monster Scaling
  • A Hunting We Will Go – An Encounter for Labyrinth Lord
  • PC for PCs – Featuring G1 Steading of the Hill Giant Chief
  • Purist to Puerile – The Orc
  • Seven Magical Mirrors
  • Reviews
  • Free PDF Round-Up
  • Mouse Watch – A Cartoon for Grown-Ups
  • The Song of Sithakk – Part 4 of our serialized story
  • Plus loads of Bonus Material including: Magic-user Spell Cards for Labyrinth Lord and Large Scale Maps and Character Sheets for the Adventure.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Teatime at the Hill Giant Chief's












Illustration for a new article in the forthcoming issue of Oubliette.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Mouse Guard

At the outset, I just want to say how much I admire David Petersen's prolific and fastidious work. Mouse Guard, an epic tale of valour, selflessness and dedication as told through the adventures of a particular set of characters within a colony of intelligent mice, is a firm household favourite.



But what if. What if we were to pass Mouse Guard through a dark and perverted looking glass?




Welcome to Mouse Watch. Home to hedonistic, sociopaths, Hannibal and Nibs(don't EVER call him Nibbles). These horrid two, bully, mug and murder their way through life. They have no accountability and enjoy a rather suspect relationship based on psychopathic co-dependency. In Issue 4 they'll be Master-Chiefing bootcamp.

The horror. The horror.


Monday, 20 September 2010

Oublie-Art

A quick welcome to Marg(Oubliette's in-house artist) whose blog posts are now appearing under the Oubliette banner.

Roland Depper MUST die

Not content with giving me a migraine over his first Present Arms! article, where I had to look up so many guns, I took to eating the discarded, screwed-up balls of paper containing my first efforts. This time it's Monster Arms. Monster @#£$ing Arms. 'What?' you may all cry in unison,'Great fun! Flights of fantasy-right up your street!'. No. No. No. You don't understand. Depper describes these arms most eloquently. These are guns that actually should work, misfire, blow up. This means understanding how they work.

Now look here. I like kittens, puppies and pretty dresses (albeit the former two worn on Steve Buscemi's head as a hat, a la Con Air, and the latter on High Court Judges). Flintlocks, revolving barrels, pistons, air undergoing adiabatic heating to several hundred degrees-this is just out and out gender-biased cruelty.

Suffice to say: Any more extra-ordinary ventures of this sort from Mister Depper and I shall introduce him to the joys of my calligraphy pen in a most rude and unhealthy manner.

Or maybe, and actually, much more likely, I'll just occasionally rant and knuckle down to the joys of concentrated prep and creation.

Don't judge me.

Here's the line drawing of the Orc Pistol. The finished version is nestled safely in the layout of Issue 4 with it its brothers.












P.S. I'd only hurt you a little bit Roland.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Progression











Zombies: Inking, Paint shopping,

Possibly finished?

I shall look at it over the next few days and be critical.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Stonehell Session 8 21st August 2010












During the previous session, the party covered a surprising amount of ground in just a few hours play. Hungry for more, and after a short refreshment break, we headed straight back in. The mammoth haul from last time had also helped the rest of the party to escape the knife-edged existence that is first level. The line-up's now:

3rd Level Cleric
3rd Level Cleric
2nd Level Dwarf
2nd Level Magic-user
2nd Level Fighter
2nd Level Fighter

A party like this should have no problems tackling the remaining portions of Stonehell's first level. At least, that's what we thought. We decided that as this would be a fairly short session, to take us up to dinner-time, we'd revisit selected locations, rather than starting a whole new section of the dungeon. We first made our way back to the highly tempting, but dangerous looking sealed stone cover in an area where we've previously met and despatched lots of undead. We chickened out of opening it last time and, after yet more discussion and no little scheming, we lose our nerve and move on. Instead, we content ourselves with checking the surrounding area and find two groups of zombies. With a couple of 3rd level clerics on hand, they are no threat and are turned easily, allowing us to help ourselves to some valuable looking gems and a scroll.

With seemingly nothing else to find in the undead quadrant of level one, we make for the portion of the dungeon that surrounds the stairs we use to enter Stonehell. We've spent several previous sessions exploring this area, and decide to take a fresh look at a glyph we found, and also give the Wheel of Fortune another spin.

The party gets to a room with a portcullis blocking the exit. The Wheel of Fortune is in a room on the other side of it. Unfortunately, we fail to lift it and decide to take a different route to bypass it. Big mistake! We head into a small group of caves that used to be home to some kobolds and their pet “Dragon”. Just as we are making our way through a cave with a well in it, we hear scrabbling sounds. Four giant crab spiders jump out of the well and attack.

Neither the party nor the spiders are surprised. The LL actually misses the rule that lets the spiders surprise opponents on a roll of 1-4 (I think we rolled a 3) but even though he spots this a minute later, he lets it go as we've fail to get initiative anyway. We use miniatures when we play, so the spiders go for the closest characters based on the positions of the figures. One goes for the Dwarf, another attacks the nearest fighter, and the two remaining spiders take a jump at the Cleric. All three characters are wearing plate armour, and this saves both the Dwarf and the Fighter. The Cleric, however, is AC3 rather than 2, due to his low dexterity. Two hits! Shock registers all round the table. He can take the damage but he's now got to make two saving throws or it's curtains. His save versus Poison is 10, so with a couple of rolls to make, that's just a 25% chance. A 5 and a 7. He's soon going to be an ex-Cleric.

The PCs take their turn, one of the spider gets hacked down, and the Magic-user sleeps the other three. The Cleric instantly starts to feel the effects of the venom, and the LL tells us he's only got a few turns at best. We have a desperate discussion about the options for saving him, including giving him a combo of five healing potions and all our cure light wounds spells. I can see the LL almost wants to go for it but ultimately, we all know he's dead according to the way we play the game. The party continues on to the wheel of fortune anyway – surely we deserve a break. The Dwarf gives it a spin and suffers a strange effect that leaves him feeling sluggish and slow. Then my dying Cleric spins. He gains an additional point of strength which takes him to 18. That would have made him a tank, had he lived to use it in combat. Last up, one of the Fighters spins, and just when we thought things were looking up, fate cuts us down to size. He loses a level, taking him all the way back to first level with zero experience points. We call it a day and head home. The LL is somewhat surprised that the dying Cleric didn't continue spinning the Wheel of Fortune to see what other outcomes there might be. He's got a point. I think we were still in shock at the imminent fatality and the loss of a level and by that stage just wanted out.

The treasure haul for such a short session is still impressive, with nearly 2,000gp in gems and coins. The scroll turns out to be cursed, but our leaders still seem happy to accept it.

Just before dinner I roll up a replacement character and settle on another Cleric. The dice aren't very kind and he's no match for his dead predecessor. In our game, we rule that replacement characters can join the party at the same level as the lowest level existing member. It suddenly dawns on me that, thanks to the level-drain the Fighter suffered, my new Cleric has to start at first level. Arghh!

The party will start the next session in a substantially weaker state. All except the Dwarf that is, he's the only original member of the party left, and has now made it to 3rd level and an impressive 23 hit points.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The OSR in Numbers












As a fairly new publisher to the OSR, I'm keen to gauge the size of the potential market to help plan print runs for future products. I've gathered together a small set of figures and thought these might prove useful to others. If anyone has any more figures to add please do so, provided that the publishers are happy for the information to be made public.

70    Sales required for a Hot Copper Pick badge at rpgnow.com
110  Oubliette PDF sales Issue 1
142  Underdark Gazette blog followers
150  Dark Dungeons print sales*
335  Majestic Wilderlands sales*
620  LOTFP Boxed Set print run
624  Grognardia blog followers
627  Oubliette AEC Character Sheet downloads
701  Goblinoid Games forum members
5000 Dark Dungeons free downloads*


*15th Sept figures for these added from here

As a fun comparison, here are some historic sales figures obtained from here all except for White Dwarf, which was taken from Wikipedia.

1,000  OD&D 1st print run
4,000  White Dwarf Issue 1 print run June 1977
5,000  Dragon Issue 4 print run December 1976
200,000  Sales for the most popular modules
1,000,000  D&D Boxed Set sales in 1989

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Seminal Pencillings


Okay, so it's been difficult to actually draw something that Peter, evil editor and slave driver to the artistic minion, hasn't liked. But after a decent amount of satirical begging I've been allowed to put on a spoiler. This one is going to be used in Issue 4. I've just finished the blocking and intend to ink it Friday. Basically, I like action. I like to show the moment when it all goes up the famous creek without a paddle. I also like money shots in terms of violence, menace and adventure. For those of you with a full vocabulary in porn terminology, steady. By money shot I mean a highly anticipated or satisfying end, but in a non-pornographic context.

Well that just sucks, Marg.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

More Imagine Issue 1

I've been flipping through the first issue of Imagine and have to say, mostly for nostalgic reasons, I'm really enjoying it.  It's got a lot of editorial features which in 1983 I probably wouldn't have even read, but now they give the reader a fascinating insight into the hobby.  

The opening editorial from Don Turnbull welcomes the readers to the magazine and talks a little about the state of the hobby.  It also reassures readers that whilst Imagine will have a lot of D&D it will also cover a wide range of other games.  Reading it convinces me that he genuinely wants to produce a great games magazine rather than a house publication for TSR.

















Above Turnbull's piece is a message from Gary Gygax which I have to say I find a little obsequious.  Some of the langauge is archaically overblown eg, "Gentle Reader" and "Kindly Editor".  Reading between the lines though I think Gygax was sending a clear message to show that it's really his magazine and the UK staff shouldn't forget it.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Stonehell Session 7 21st August 2010

Following on from the unfortunate death of my Thief in the last session, the party, now numbering six, head back to the dungeon. The line-up is now as follows:

3rd Level Cleric
2nd Level Cleric
2nd Level Dwarf
1st Level Magic-user
1st Level Fighter
1st Level Fighter


We set out to the dungeon and upon arrival, quickly head down the stairs to the first level. We follow a tried and tested 'safe' route which so far has got us in with no problems. Once inside again, we make our way back the section of the first level where we've previously encountered loads of undead. We stick to main passageways, but we're unable to avoid bumping into three giant toads. The party are fresh and ready for action though, and we make light work of them.


Once we reach the edge of our map, we begin exploring the rest of the area. We have half a dozen or so encounters with undead, and our two clerics are able to turn enough of them to make the combat manageable. Our treasure haul swells: 6,000sp from one room, nearly 3,000gp in jewelery from another. Then we disturb a solitary ghoul and fail in turning it. The fighters get stuck in but by the time we've downed him, three of us are paralyzed and everyone except the Magic-user has taken hits. We lick our wounds and make for one of the rooms we've previously rested in. There is some disturbance outside the room while the wounded sleep, but we've spiked and braced the door, and whatever is on the other side eventually moves on.


Once rested and restored, we continue our explorations and run into a crab spider. Poisonous creatures terrify our party. Thankfully the beastie fails in his attempt to bite the Dwarf and is promptly slept by the Magic-user. We then proceed to turn some zombies and open a door to find at least half a dozen stirges flapping about. We close the door on that one, not wanting to risk it without a sleep spell to fall back on. We back-track taking a small detour around the area and find a chamber with a stone bridge which spans a 10' wide chasm. We don't trust it, but after some discussion, we lose patience and start to cross it one at a time. Once the first of us is across, he throws a rope for the rest to hold as they cross. The bridge collapses as the Magic-user is making his way over, but luckily he manages to scramble to the safety with the rope. Tough luck Mr. Curtis, you're not getting us this time!


Next, we have our first encounter with other humans in Stonehell. We open a door and surprise an Evil-looking Cleric of Thusar Gillscar accompanied by seven Acolytes. The Dwarf and one of the Fighters cut down an Acolyte, and stand ready to take the rest of them. Our third level Cleric casts hold person on the Evil Cleric, who makes his saving throw and retaliates with a cause light wounds, but fails to touch the Fighter. The remaining seven opponents are downed in as many rounds by the Dwarf and Fighter, along with a few crossbow shots over the Dwarf's head.


Throughout this part of the dungeon, we've come across stone slabs that cover small rooms, many home to undead, and some containing loot. We now come to what seems to be the last of them, but it is a little different from the rest. The edges appear to be stuffed with rags, dirt and other debris, perhaps in attempt to make it air-tight. There follows a lengthy discussion about whether to open it. We're pretty sure there's something nasty inside but we also think there'll be treasure. Eventually, we cover the rags in oil and, from a distance, light them up. They burn for a while but the seal holds . There's no way the slab's coming off with some force, and that means one of us would end up standing face-to-face with whatever's in there. Reluctantly, we decide to leave it and head for home.


We make it home with over 4,000gp in treasure and a couple of healing potions. As part of our campaign setting, we use a mechanism where we only get XP for treasure that we donate to the community we live in. We hand in most of the gold, and along with all the kills/turns, get enough XP for three of the party to level up. A really rewarding session. Realizing that we've only been playing for about three hours we decide to have another session after a short break. I'll write that one up in a few days.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Mappage


Two maps done, 3D sketch of the over-view map and I'm about to sketch the group pic. I'm high on tea, and chocolate bananas from Serbia. The cover art was finished several days ago( phew-finally made the decision-a different direction of course-but keeping the other art for future Issues). Had to ink it in on the computer, which was rather labour intensive. It's definitely a change in style, so, hurrah. Here's a pic I did earlier for the Oubliette adventure.

Sterling.

Imagine Magazine

Imagine Magazine was published monthly in the UK between April 1983 and October 1985.  It was essentially a UK equivalent to Dragon.  The image below is of the launch issue's front cover,  and is actually a very washed out reproduction of an Elric poster by British artist Rodney Matthews.

I bought the last dozen or so issues as they were published, and I've recently manged to pick up the rest, well apart from the illusive second issue that is.  I did a quick search on the web and couldn't see any PDFs of them, legal or otherwise, which seems a shame as they published some great material.  Once I've finished reading issue 1, I'll post up a review of it.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Fear of the Dark

Last night, the family spent some of the evening sitting out in the garden.  As the light started to fade, we lit some torches and lanterns and continued to enjoy the evening until just after dark, when it got too cold.  Before we came in, I did a last 'patrol' of the garden with my four year old daughter.  We know an owl lives in the garden and we're pretty sure there are some foxes, but we didn't find them on this occasion.

What struck me, was how little light the largest lantern gave us.  I was reminded of my group's last Stonehell game, where the only light source is a single lantern on a pole.  In reality, a group of explorers would carry a massive amount of light into such an environment.  I scribbled some notes last year on light in dungeons and plan to use them in an future article.  In short, I think light is one of the most important considerations for a party venturing underground.