Friday, April 14, 2017

[JMG] The Incompleat Realmscrawl

So last year I tried to jump into the 5E market on the Dungeon Masters Guild, with some hex-based mapping of the Forgotten Realms called Realmscrawl (also, alternate version of FR based on some old campaign stuff). Sales went nowhere, for various reasons.
I had already done a lot of work on the rest of the Realmscrawl maps, and have decided to release the Incompleat Realmscrawl maps into the wild. The linked product includes all eight of the remaining Realmscrawl map Hexographer files, as well as small PNGs of each region, and one very small scale "mega-map" of all nine regions of the Eastern Heartlands altogether.
As mentioned, it is incomplete... none of the maps have any names on them, most got to the placement of locations stage, and Map #9 is only in primitive layout stage. But if you are into FR, or just need a blank sandbox or eight, this is for you, and at the right price... if you have Hexographer, of course...
The Incompleat Realmscrawl
Herein you will find the remaining eight maps of the Realmscrawl line, which never quite took off.

The initial release, Realmscrawl Campaign Map #5: Tilverton, never sold enough for me to further develop the line.
However, I still have my initial work done on the rest of the maps; here they are, incomplete, ready to be further developed for your own campaign using Hexographer.
Included are the Hexographer files for Maps 1 to 4 and 6 to 9.
Maps 1 to 4 and 6 to 8 are essentially complete, save for names. Map 9 is in a rather more primitive condition, but the general outline is all there.
Also included are small maps of each of the eight regions, in PNG format, as well as one map of all nine regions stitched together in a primitive fashion (made with slightly older versions of the maps included herein).

Monday, March 27, 2017

[New Spell] Investiture of Eternal Guardianship

Investiture of Eternal Guardianship
3rd-level transmutation
Casting Time: 8 hours
Range: 10 feet
Components: V, S, M (gems worth at least 10,000 gp, which are consumed in the casting; plus, a single solid object of any value made of any material as the focus of the spell)
You transform a living creature into an immortal guardian of a single place; an intelligent creature must be willing (not under any sort of magical duress). So long as the creature so affected does not leave this place, it will not age or die of natural means, though it can be killed normally. It also need not eat, drink, breathe, or sleep (though it may do so if it wishes). It heals normally, even without eating or drinking, and it need not sleep during its long rest, merely rest. The creature also never advances in levels or hit dice, and gains no experience points while thus enchanted. The creature can learn new languages, and can learn new knowledge from willing teachers or from books, though none of this can cause it any improvements in abilities or statistics.
I know he aged, so the comparison isn't quite perfect, but it is apt...
The area the guardian tends and must remain in may be no larger than a sphere 10 feet in radius per level of the caster; thus 20th-level caster allows for a sphere up to 200 feet in radius. Often the area the guardian must reside within is smaller, as set by the caster during the casting of the spell, perhaps a single room or cavern or small system of rooms or caverns, and the border is delineated by some design or motif, such as differently-colored bricks or stones, a painted line, a fence, or even a hedge of shrubs.
The creature innately knows where the boundary is, and never willingly passes the boundary, knowing it can mean instant destruction. Low-intelligence creatures cannot reason beyond their fear of the boundary, while intelligent creatures might determine that there is no ill effect… within their natural lifespan. Should the creature ever be forced to leave the defined area that it guards, for any reason, the spell ends, and it instantly ages all the years that have passed since the spell was cast. Should it age past its natural lifespan, its body will wither, turn to dust, and the dust will blow away.
The creature knows of any being that passes into its guarded area; by concentrating for a round it can view the being(s) remotely, as though present and within 10 to 30 feet. When so concentrating it can also hear the being(s) clearly, as though it were present, though it only understands any languages it already knows. If it is intelligent, it may also speak to the being(s), as though from the air or, perhaps, from some appropriate bit of décor within the area. The creature can always see clearly within its area as though it were perfect daylight, even through magical darkness.
Casting dispel magic on the creature or the entire area is inefficacious; the spell can be dispelled only by casting dispel magic (or other such spell) specifically, intentionally, and directly on the singular item that acts as the focus of the spell. This focus item cannot be removed from the area of effect; any attempt to do so merely causes the item to disappear from the hands or pockets of whomever attempts to remove it and causes it to reappear elsewhere within the area of the spell. The spell is also dispelled if the object is ever destroyed (thus the object is usually of some strong metal). Note that the object cannot be enchanted against destruction, nor with any other magical ability; the item detects as magical, while the area and the enchanted creature do not detect as magical or enchanted.
If the focus item is destroyed, or if the spell is dispelled, the guardian creature does not age instantly, and merely continues aging as normal, no longer having any benefits of the spell.

At Higher Levels. The spell cast with a 3rd-level spell slot only affects beasts, oozes, and plants. The spell affects low-intelligence (Intelligence 6 or less) elementals and monstrosities when cast with a 5th-level spell slot. A spell cast with a 7th-level spell slot affects higher-intelligence elementals and monstrosities, as well as low-intelligence aberrations, celestials, dragons, and fiends. A spell cast with a 9th-level spell slot affects high-intelligence aberrations, celestials, dragons, and fiends, as well as fey, giants, and humanoids.
Designer Note. I thought of this spell while playing the other day, wondering just how certain living creatures guarding a treasure remained alive and whole after centuries of being locked away in a dungeon with no "natural ecology" on which to survive...

Monday, March 6, 2017

[Pokémon Campaign] Pokémon Campaign

I've been pretty quiet here lately, been concentrating on playing games rather than writing about them... well, of course, I have to do SOME writing about most of the games I run. I've been running two campaigns, both 5th Edition.
I recently put the bigger campaign on hiatus, as I've got less time right now. The campaign is set in Kvin Mondöj, though less Heavy Metal and more Kitchen Sink. I ran the campaign at a local game store every other Sunday for several months, and even though we'd have an average of 8 to 10 players at a time, most of the characters reached 5th or 6th level... and that's where I find 5th Edition to kind of break down, with twice as many characters at that mid-level. I hope to pick up the campaign again, but first I'll have to figure out how to run it in a balanced yet challenging fashion for that many players at that level and higher...
It got a little weird at times, almost but not quite this weird...
The other game is a one-on-one I've been running with my wife. She's a huge Pokémon fan and so she introduced me to the anime midyear last year. After watching several episodes, I commented on how it would make a wonderful tabletop RPG, and wondered why such had not appeared as yet (in official licensed form)... and the rest, as they say, is history.
At first I looked through the usual suspects for a system to use (all the old Guardians of Order systems, for example), but I felt that they really didn't capture the experience just right. So I punted and started designing a Pokémon trainer class for 5E. I also snagged the Kanto Pokédex from Caniswolfman24 on Reddit; though it is a very good start, it only captures each Pokémon in a snapshot, and even then, as mix of each of the various generations as the author preferred... and as I wanted the Pokémon to be able to level up, just like they do in the game (and the anime), I had my work cut out for me...
And then, too, I needed a world... well, a Region, really, as these adventures needed to take place in their own region. I could have used Kanto, or Johto, or any of the already defined regions, but I wanted something that would be unknown and wild and open... a real Pokémon Sandbox, so to speak. So I created the Byoga region (not based on any real Japanese region or other worldly region), and set about creating the region based on my wife's favorite artist. Try to figure it out...
The main map isn't finished yet; I just wanted to get a decent feel for the overall region, and then drill down to the individual hexes. The campaign started in Café Town, and her first adventures were all in the Café Hills. The region hexes are 5 miles, and the township hexes are each 0.20 miles. I packed a LOT of stuff in each hex; with the way Pokémon trainers wander, they tend to miss a lot, so she was guaranteed to find SOMETHING each session (each session is one or more "episodes," depending on the action that takes place and the length of the session).
Anyhoo, here are three of the maps, and I'll see about posting some of the information about the Pokémon Trainer class and the various Pokémon Racial Classes...


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

[Found Treasures] Wilderlands of the Forgotten Realms

Stumbled across this old map while going through a pile of old writings. Not quite sure when I drew this, could be anywhere from mid-'90s to early '00s, would have been a time when I was fiddling around with both the Wilderlands and the Forgotten Realms.
No longer have the original file, this is a scan from a much-faded print. I don't recall doing any development of this version of the setting(s), as really, not much needed to be done to kludge them together like this.
Everything really fits nicely, with the western Wilderlands merging nicely with the vaguely Arabic Semphar and the eastern Wilderlands nestling quite nicely together with the Mongol/Chinese region of Kara-Tur. Heck, even the Karakhans make perfect sense; descended from a mix of wizards from Shou-Lung and Tuigans from the Plain of Horses who founded their own independent kingdom of Karak. You've got the Great Glacier/Sea of Ice to the north and the weird lands of the Utter East of the Forgotten Realms mixing it up with the Demon Lands of the southern Wilderlands...

Two Great Tastes that Play Great Together?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

[Review] Project Oasis by Joseph Bloch -- 5 out of 5 Stars

Project Oasis, written by Joseph Bloch (Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage) and self-published through BRW Games, is a 36-page PDF campaign supplement for Mutant Future and Apes Victorious, both being post-apocalypse (PA) games by Goblinoid Games.

Set 1000 years after the Devastation, it is a “kitchen-sink” style setting, containing all the themes and ideas from a wide spectrum of early PA literature, film, and television, focusing on the materials developed in the 1970s. Planet of the Apes, Ark II, Omega Man, Logan’s Run, Twilight Zone, Mad Max – it’s all here in a fantastic melting pot that gives you an entire continent of possible adventure.
The two-page introductory section explains the basics of the world and how it came to be; speaks of technology and geography; and gives some basic guidelines for the kinds of campaigns the setting is designed for (very different from many modern PA settings, due to the strong influence of the middle-era of the PA genre). Details are brief, but give a game master more than enough material to get started.
We then get to the meat of the booklet, the 22-page gazetteer. This covers every major power in the PA setting, a mix of stone-age savagery to high-tech insanity. Virtually every kind of PA trope is covered in this, with lots of opportunities for a game master to start a campaign in exactly the kind of setting he wants, then move the adventure on to other regions. There are ape realms, human-friendly, human-neutral, and human-enslaving; there are high-tech mutant realms hidden under wastelands, low-tech mutant wilds, human-mutant cooperatives, and mutant-power domains; there are hidden high-tech cities of wonder where the people are dedicated to recovering what was lost, high-tech cities of wonder where the people are kept in dystopian decadence, and there are low-tech kingdoms dedicated to keeping things exactly the way they never really were in chivalrous glory. And that’s just for starters!
I’m being a bit nebulous here, as I believe that it would give you, the reader, far greater joy to discover the world of Project Oasis on your own, rather than have me list off the regions chapter and verse.
Two things I will discuss are "Project Oasis" itself and the inclusion of adventure hooks with each region. First, Project Oasis is not simply the name of the book, it is also a major faction in the PA world. Project Oasis is a very high technology organization, operating from a secret base, that seeks to bring the world back from savagery (echoes of Ark II, Earth II, and Planet Earth); to this end, they send out teams of adventuring types to help uplift goodly domains and bring down or stall villainous ones. This provides an excellent hook on which the game master can hang her campaign, as it enables player characters to travel all over the continent (and beyond) with as much technological support as the game master wishes them to have at the time. Second, each of the region entries has three adventure hooks included, at least one of which deals with Project Oasis and how it, and its representatives, might interact with the peoples and powers of the region. So the book itself, as mentioned in the introduction, really gears play toward a Project Oasis-based campaign, though myriad other options are readily available.
The volume finishes with three short appendices, two dedicated to new monsters (one for Mutant Future, the other for Apes Victorious), and the other a listing of inspirational material. The new monster sections include everything mentioned in the work that was not otherwise found in Mutant Future and/or Apes Victorious, each section covering the same monsters. The list of inspirational material provides most of the books, films, and television shows you would need to read or watch to better understand the setting. Personally, if you have no experience with the middle-era PA genre, I’d watch Ark II, the Planet of the Apes movies and television series, and the Logan’s Run movie and television series; these give you a complete overview of the relevant material and, most especially, style of the genre.
Finally, there is the continental map. Created using Hexographer, it shows the relation between the new geography of the continent and all the various regions, including cities, major towns, ruins, and other notable locations. The only problem with it is that I have not been able to find a scale for the map anywhere on the map or in the book… I think it is 30 or 40 miles per hex? [NOTE: Confirmed from Joseph that the scale is in fact 30 miles per hex.]
Click to embiggen; this is a small and shrunken snippet of a full continental map!
The upshot of the review is that this is the best PA campaign setting on the market today, if you are into the middle-era PA genre. If you aren’t, well, get on the bandwagon! The PA middle-genre provides you with all the action, adventure, seriousness, and wild and wacky wahoo you could ever want out of a PA setting, and this book distills it all down for you. Project Oasis plus Mutant Future and Apes Victorious can provide literally years of PA adventures. With Project Oasis Joseph Bloch has presented the PA gamer community with a PA campaign “Greyhawk Gazetteer” upon which to build and develop their own campaigns.
Project Oasis is a book I wish that I had written. And really, I can’t give it better kudos than that.
Five out of Five Stars
Project Oasis
by Joseph Bloch
Published by BRW Games
36-page PDF with PNG Continental Map
Note: I purchased Project Oasis with my own money. I have not been offered anything in return for a review. The links above go through the Affiliate Program at OBS, so if you buy something after clicking through, I get a taste of the action. Hope all the cyber-cops are happy with this disclaimer.