Friday, December 02, 2016

Thursday, December 01, 2016

the Broodmother cover, a better look

(Click to embiggen.)

And here's the official ad copy written by James Raggi (which I must admit I signed off on):
Since the invention of the adventure module, there have only been five adventures that were rated the most awesome, the most epic. Broodmother Sky Fortress leaves them all behind. It’s got these creatures that are half shark. Half elephant. All badass. They fly around in this cloud fortress, wrecking everything in the campaign until the players step up to stop them. It’s all terribly exciting! And all brought to you by none other than the world-famous Arch-Mage of Old-School, Jeff Rients! 
As an added bonus, we’ve included a Greatest Hits of the ol’ Arch-Mage’s essays and game tools to build your campaign into the unstoppable juggernaut you’ve always wanted it to be. Your game won’t suck anymore! 
Broodmother SkyFortress: Buying any other adventure is just throwing your money away

I like how preposterous that last line becomes given that LotFP is releasing another great product simultaneously.

“Wouldst Thou Like To DIE Deliciously?” 
The year is 1617, and the only thing on the minds of every noblewoman and aristocrat in Europe is CHOCOLATE. The act of eating this modest confection brings so much PLEASURE, it has become more prized than tea, spices, even liquor ... and it all comes from one place: LUCIA DE CASTILLO’s factory in northern Friesland. 
This one businesswoman has Europe by the balls, and some will pay handsomely for the secret to her success. But Lucia’s factory isn’t what it seems to be. The horrors and cruelties that exist within its walls defy IMAGINATION ITSELF. Nobody ever goes in ... and nobody ever comes out! 
BLOOD IN THE CHOCOLATE is a psycho-sexual romp that pits characters not just against their enemies, but against their own twisting, melting, inflating, or poisoned bodies. 
This adventure comes from the imagination of Kiel Chenier (Dungeons & Donuts, The Hell House Beckons), brought to life by the lurid illustrations of Jason Bradley Thompson (Mangaka: The Fast & Furious Game of Drawing Comics, Dreamland). 
An adventure suitable for low-level characters for use with Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-Playing and other traditional role-playing games.
 I'll update all y'all again once I have a link to a product page.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Broodmother is a real thing.

Hey all!  I must pause in my preparations to teach the youth of America a second day on how awesome Beowulf is in order to provide a brief update.

Photo: Gangsta.

I haven't opened them up and checked them yet, but unless I make a frothy, raving rant in 15 minutes assume they will be at Dragonmeet on Saturday and then go on sale on the webstore on Tuesday.

Broodmother backers will get a PDF tomorrow.

This menacing figure is none other than game designer and publisher James Raggi, of Lamentations of the Flame Princess infamy.  In his hand he holds some sort of flintlocky pistol (is it a prop? a toy? an actual firearm?  I don't really know) and 2 books.

One of those books is Blood in the Chocolate, an adventure by cool guy Kiel Chenier that, as I understand it, is all about Willy Wonka taking a break from murdering children to spend time murdering your PCs instead.  Good, clean, wholesome fun.  Everyone reading this post should buy one.

The other book is nothing less than an actual copy of Broodmother Skyfortress, the adventure I wrote quite a while back now.  A few copies will be on sale this weekend at Dragonmeet, a convention in London.  Copies for all the wonderful people who put up money before I even wrote the thing will start shipping shortly thereafter.

I want to thank everyone who pledged, for both their initial faith in me and their patience.  And to everyone who emailed me over the years to ask when this darn thing was coming out, I thank you for accepting my vague promises.  I am so super-pleased that you will be getting your long awaited book soon.  It honestly fills me with joy to know you'll soon be holding your own copies.  And I hope you all like it.

By the by, the original design spec in the IndieGogo campaign called for a 32 page adventure.  The adventure actually runs longer than that and there's a bunch of bonus content in the back.  The last version of the PDF I saw ran 162 pages, or more than 5 times the content you were promised.  I hope that serves as a little apology/bonus for the absurd amount of production delays.

Also, if you haven't read Beowulf, you should totally get a hold of a good translation.  It's one of the wellsprings of modern Western heroic literature.  I teach R. M. Liuzza's more scholarly edition, but there are lots of other good ones.  The Seamus Heaney version is easy to find and quite popular.  A new edition of Tolkien's translation came out not too long ago as well.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Apparently PCs are very sound sleepers

Here's a crowdsourced thing from G+ I wanted to preserve for posterity. The challenge was to come up with cool alternatives to the "wake up in a dungeon cell" method of starting a scenario. Thanks to everyone who contributed!

How do we start this crazy adventure? (d100)
01-02 PCs wake up in a mausoleum inside a haunted graveyard.
03-04 PCs wake up at the starting inn, but it is on fire.
05-06 PCs wake up getting shaved and tattooed and branded, before being hung up to give transfusions to diseased cultists. =)
07-08 PCs wake up in a wagon during a high-speed chase.
The PCs wake up hungover after a bacchanal
09-10 PCs wake up slung and tied over a horse.
11-12 PCs wake up on a sinking ship.
13-14 PCs wake up standing over their sleeping bodies.
15-16 PCs wake up tied to the belly of a boar
17-18 PCs wake up washed up on a beach after a shipwreck
19-20 PCs wake up falling from an airship
21-22 PCs wake up on a tower during a storm
23-24 PCs wake up during surgery... alien surgery.
25-26 Wake up with a knife to their throat
27-28 Wake up in a village, only they are still alive.
29-30 The PCs happen to be travelling down the road together when a horse-drawn carriage comes barreling around a turn towards them.
31-32 PCs wake up in a wizard's laboratory, decapitated. Fortunately for them they are being magically kept alive and just need to find their bodies. Also somewhere nearby there is a single golem that follows voice commands.
33-34 Pcs wake up in the inn. Water surrounds their beds. The inn is floating down river on a flash flood.
35-36 They wake up in individual coffins
37-38 They wake up strapped to various torture devices in a dungeon. Good way to introduce themselves as the torturer interrogates them.
39-40 PCs wake up each holding a fragment of a treasure map.  Between them they do not have the whole thing.
41-42 They wake up in each other's bodies. Sally the halfling thief is now playing a dwarven male fighter. They have to find each other in the city.
43-44 They wake up in a pitch black room that smells, and they are waist deep in acid. Something splashes nearby (they are in a giant's stomach, it unfortunately has worms. Big worms).
45-46 Being dragged from the sea by strange man-frog fishermen in walrus leather.
Wake up in a crater, smoking.
47-48 PCs wake up (unarmed and without their gear) with a headache, in a caged wagon, including an armed guard escort, and they are traveling in place they are not familiar with.
49-50 Same as above above, except they are traveling through an unfamiliar village and while being insulted and mocked by villagers, and being pelted with rotting vegetables and waste. They are quite aware of the shouts of "Witch!, Burn! Warlock! Demon Worshipper! Burn!" that can be heard amidst the other slanders, taunts, and insults
51-52 PC's wake up to find a rather large dragon attacking. As each pc is slain, they wake up once again, only they are not anywhere near their home,. They are all in a strange outdoor place with a glowing extra-dimensional gate or portal that is quietly powering down. The summoning wizard/wizardess is standing immediately before them.
53-54 PCs wake up in the menagerie garden of the Emperor
55-56 Wake up in a conference room with Dr. Doom.
57-58 PCs all wake up (with hirelings too) naked in bed together. A big bed.
59-60 They wake up underwater, surrounded by a maze of coral and seaweed. They have gills.
61-62 Wake up in hot air balloon that is descending
63-64 Wake up inside Kansas farm house In a tornado, tumbling through sky.
65-66 Wake up at your moms house, have an existential crisis, realize you need to go kill something and  take its gold.
67-68 They don't wake up. They never sleep. Insomnia has been constant for a month and now at four a.m. the dark sends a strange guest
69-70 They wake up outside of an already raided dungeon, unfamiliar magic items in hand
71-72 They hit middle age and none of their dreams ever happened and there are dragons out there and the bills are getting higher
73-74 They emerge spontaneously from the forehead of Zeus
75-76 They reverse-nirvana out of oneness with the universe and somebody in a dungeon did it
77-78 They wake up mid-brawl with each other. A neat sum of XP is offered the sole survivor. They were pregens, they roll up characters who were placing bets. The survivor won the privilege of guiding them into a dungeon
79-80 PCs wake up covered head to toe in unknown rune-tattoos
81-82 They wake up in a mesmerists room in Victorian London. He says that was a pretty good session but they need to regress again to find out where the special snowflake treasure went. They wake up in a dungeon.
83-84 They go to sleep on the night of the equinox and pass through The Gates of Ivory and Horn...
85-86 Waking up in a morgue has been done by Torment of course, but it has more applications than that.
87-88 They wake up under an upturned, burning wagon
89-90 The players (not the PCs), wake up naked in this strange temple. There is an old person in priestly robes staring at you
91-92 PCs wake up in the tavern, but the village is completely empty of other people. Half-eaten meals and cooking fires still burning. Footprints end mid-stride.
93-94 Wake up inside tubes full of fluid, which are slowly draining while an alarm sounds.
95-96 PCs wake up shrunk to 3 inches tall and inside an iguana terrarium. 
97-98 PCs wake up naked in the Sultan's harem as scimitar-wielding eunuchs enter the chamber.
99-00 PCs wake up chained to barrels of gunpowder, longs wicks sizzling towards their doom.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

The Deadliest Page

So it's early into the evening of Election Day here in the good ol' U.S. of A. and the present political climate has me sufficiently freaked out that I have started drinking.  So please forgive me if parts of this post are incoherent.

Anyway, I wanted to take some time before I get fall down drunk to tell you about the Deadliest Page of the original Dungeon Masters Guide.  There are several pages in the DMG that will severely ruin your PC's life.  My favorites include page 28 (where we find out that not wearing a helmet will FUCKING KILL YOU), page 225 (the gods damned ENCUMBRANCE RULES), and page 80 (the item saving charts will WRECK ALL YOUR COOL MAGICAL SHIT).  But the deadliest page of the first edition Dungeon Masters Guide is page 182.  Imma explain why.

There are two rules for wandering monsters on this page that I have NEVER seen applied.  Not in my own campaigns and not in anyone else's.  (If you've used them, please let me know!)  Rule the first is the Psionic Encounter rules.  The basic idea seems to be that psionic monsters are attracted to psionic powers or--and this is the kicker--spells that resemble psionic powers.  A lot of low level spells appear on the list titled Spells Resembling Psionic Powers: cure light wounds, detect evil, detect magic, charm person, feather fall, enlarge, ESP, invisibility just to name a few.  The upshot of this rule is that if your party casts ANY of these spells there is a 1 in 6 chance that the next wandering monster comes from the Psionic Encounter Table rather than the normal wandering monster matrix.  This table is no joke.  Not only does it include all the standard psionic monsters like intellect devourers and mind flayers, but all the sundry denizens of the Seven Hells and the Abyss also show up on it.

This means that under AD&D1 rules as written it would be theoretically possible for a 1st level cleric on their first adventure to cast detect evil and find nothing, only for Demogorgon to show up a few rounds later.

The other, and I think more important, section is Patrols.  The DMG asks DM to designate all outdoor areas as either inhabited or uninhabited.  One of the key differences between the two is that inhabited areas are patrolled.  In fact a full 25% of wandering monster encounters in inhabited areas will be with patrols.  A patrol looks like this:

  • Commander: a fighter (or ranger, if appropriate) level 6-8
  • Lieutenant: figher (or ranger) 4-5
  • Sergeant: figher 2 or 3
  • 2-3 first level fighters
  • (All of the above have plate, shield, lance, flail, and longsword, mounted on warhorses
  • 12-24 zero-level soldiers with chain or scale armor, bow or xbow, and some hand weapon, mounted on riding horses
  • either a cleric 6-7 or an MU 5-8
In other words, 1 in 4 encounters in inhabited areas involve a shit-ton of cops trying to ruin your murderhobos' day.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Ard times for MU's

So this exchange appeared in my tumblr feed yesterday:

That's pretty darn great if true, but a citation is lacking, so I hit up the online Oxford English Dictionary.  Here's the entry for the suffix -ard:


Etymology: < Old French -ard-art, < German -hart-hard, ‘hardy,’ often forming part of personal names as Old High German Regin-hart Raynard,Ebur-hart Everard; also in Middle High German and Dutch a formative of common nouns, generally pejorative, whence adopted in the Romance languages. Used in French as masculine formative, intensive, augmentative, and often pejorative, compare bastardcouardcanardmallard,mouchardvieillard.

 It appeared in Middle English in words from Old French, as bastardcowardmallardwizard, also in names of things, as placardstandard (flag); and became at length a living formative of English derivatives, as in buzzarddrunkardlaggardsluggard, with sense of ‘one who does to excess, or who does what is discreditable.’ In some words it has taken the place of an earlier -ar-er of the simple agent, as in braggerbraggarbraggardstanderstandard (tree). In some it is now written -art, as braggart; in cockade, orig. cockard, corrupted to -ade suffix.

The OED's first definition of wizard ("A philosopher, sage... Often contemptuous") confirms this negative connotation.

My conclusion is that etymologically wizards are close to mad scientists, in that both concepts express the fear that there is such a thing as too much knowledge.  That's basically what I do in the latest version of my Wessex campaign already.  Magic-users are twisted by their secret knowledge into cosmic conspiracy kooks.  Their paranoid insights into the universe are considered blasphemies against the established order of the universe, even when they are true.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

You, the universe, or both have gone very wrong

Why did you become an adventurer? (d30)

  1. Early one morning you saw the sky crack, then break, revealing strange worlds behind the sky.  You haven't been able to live an ordinary life ever since.
  2. You came home one day and the sister you buried a year prior was alive and well.  No one else in the family remembers her illness or death, yet her tombstone still stands in a nearby graveyard.
  3. You used to work as a computer technician in a futuristic domed city, but woke up one morning the idiot child of the village blacksmith.
  4. One day the bucket of the village well brought up blood instead of water.  No one else seemed to mind, but you sure as hell did.
  5. After the eclipse everyone else spoke a different language.  You're pretty sure the folks back home thought you'd been possessed by a babbling demon.  You've only now just picked up the basics of your new native tongue.
  6. Returning from a visit to a distant kinsman, an ancient forest covers the exact spot your village used to occupy.  You turned around and the trail you followed was gone.
  7. You were caught up in a war between shadowy angels and titanic metal gods.  At the final battle you took a blow to the head.  When you came to you were still on the same charred and bloodstained field, but everyone and everything else was gone.  None of the locals remember the war or its combatants, yet you have a dozen scars from it.
  8. One night you came home after a long day in the fields.  The womenfolk wailed and the menfolk cowered.  Your own brother drove you out of the house with a cleaver in one hand and a holy symbol in the other.  Later you found your own gravestone.  According to it, you've been dead 3 years.
  9. You worked up the nerve to ask the elder of the clan what had happened to the shadows.  Why were they no longer a luminous rainbow glow, but instead dark and spooky?  Without answering, he had you driven out of the community.
  10. On the day after midsummer everyone you knew started calling you by a different name, as if it had always been your own.  They also began blaming you for a wide variety of petty crimes.  Then you realized your face had changed as well.  Who are you?
  11. You used to live by the sea until one night a brass galleon with a skeletal crew slid into the harbor.  A skeleton prince wearing a flaming crown blew a silent note on a bronze horn.  Everyone in your village marched aboard the galleon, as if in a daze.  It sailed away, leaving you alone forever.
  12. In all your dull life you never expected to see an aerial battle right above your village.  Dragons and demons and flying ships exchanged strange fires and multi-colored lightning.  One of the dragons fell.  Only then did you realize how far up and how huge the combatants were.  The dying dragon crushed everyone and everything you ever cared about.
  13. You used to be a dog.  Slightly smarter than most dogs, but just a dog.  Your young owner treated you cruelly.  Then one day you and your owner swapped bodies for no discernible reason.  The dog ran away--no doubt fearing revenge--but you had to run too because you couldn't successfully imitate your former owner.
  14. One day you awoke in a mass grave.  It was only after you climbed out of a pile of rotting corpses that you realized you had no idea who you were or how you got there.
  15. No one else back home can see the hole in the sky or the baleful gaze of the hideous cosmic beast that watches us through it.  You couldn't work in the open fields any more, knowing it was always looking over your shoulder.  You had to flee.  It still watches.
  16. You used to be the whole universe, one vast ecstatic cosmic consciousness.  But then more and more of your all-body became numb and alienated.  Now you're just this tiny lump of ambulatory meat and you don't know what  happened or why.
  17. You don't know on what strange battlefield it received its wounds or whether it was a giant or a god or something else, but it stumbled into the village green and promptly died.  Everyone else in the village entered into some weird frenzy, gleefully tearing the corpse apart and devouring it raw.  As you fled in horror they started to change into unhuman things.
  18. Twice a year every year you had taken the old ferry, for as long as you could remember.  This time when you reached the far bank of the river it was a totally different place.  You turned around and the ferry was gone.  So was the river.
  19. You used to be a professional circus freak, the Hideous One-Headed Four-Limbed Abomination.  Then one day the sky flashed a weird color and suddenly everyone else was deformed just like you.  The poor bastards don't even remember their former three-headed, six-limbed glory.  You're not a freak anymore, but you're out of a job and still kinda feel like one.
  20. One day you started growing at a prodigious rate--or perhaps everything else shrunk--until your head cracked open the sky.  You grew and grew until you were normal size in a much bigger universe outside your old one.
  21. You were born with a special gift: You can dimly remember your past and future lives, as if your consciousness were a tangled thread in the weave of time.  People back home thought you were a witch.  Maybe they're right, but the whole burning-at-the-stake thing they tried was still super rude.
  22. One day the earth shook and the land shifted.  Your home and all your kin sunk beneath the waves, which was surprising seeing as how you lived a hundred leagues from the sea.  You'd have drowned, too, if not for that log you clung to.
  23. One day cracks opened in the sky.  You suddenly fell upwards and landed someplace else.
  24. One day you noticed an extra door in your home.  From the darkness beyond a gnarled green hand beckoned.  You're still not sure why you followed or who that goblin was.
  25. You used to be an astronaut.  Your single seat orbital spacecraft passed through a strange energy field and you lost all contact with mission control.  You splashed down in a world that doesn't seem to be Earth.
  26. The block of ice you were frozen in thawed out.  Apparently your home civilization has been gone for a whole ice age.
  27. Back in the day you were a glorious 7-dimensional hyperbeing.  Then the war in heaven came.  An omega angel wielding a meson blade sliced off a 3-dimensional appendage, which fell down to ordinary spacetime.  You may look like an normal person, but you're really a living amputation in a fallen world.
  28. The glowing blue rain turned everyone else in your home village into hideous snake people.  They told you they still loved you, even though you're now the local freak.  But you couldn't cope and fled.
  29. You were a footsoldier in the last of the Psychic Wars, but an Oblivion Bomb has scrambled most of your memories of the conflict.  Your not even sure how you ended up on this particular planet.
  30. You used to be a god.  Your whole pantheon fought in Ragnarockaggedon, but your side lost.  To escape the Cosmic Regulators and the inevitable trial for Crimes against Divinity, you dispersed your god-power and implanted your essence into a mortal body.