Saturday, June 13, 2015

Wastelands Map Handout on Leather

Here is another map I've drawn .. this one done with an ultra fine point sharpie on a piece of leather.

Like many folks, I've always been a fan of cool handouts for RPGs. Items that are evocative of the setting and/or genre of the game. In this case, I thought it would be a nice tactile handout for the game. A bit more interesting for the players than giving them a piece of paper.

The PCs in my Wastelands of Kreth campaign do not possess a map of the Wastelands. They will soon. At least a photo anyway...

Unfortunately, in terms of using the leather map handout, our current campaign is played via Hangouts. So the players will have to wait a while until we all get together to actually get the tactile experience! lol :-)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Map: Golden Eye of the Kobold King

This is my first attempt at an "inked" map. It is from an adventure I ran many years ago called the Golden Eye of the Kobold King. I dug out my old pencil sketch map and decided to give a go with pens. I must admit, I cheated a bit, and sketched the cavern and chamber outlines in pencil first. The thought of putting a pen to a blank page was too terrifying!

I'll be posting more maps in the future as I work to try and develop a more unique style. I'm thinking some maps will be "colorized" (likely using pencils) and others black and white, but I'll work that out as I go. Hope you enjoy!

The Golden Eye is a cursed magic item possessed by the Greebok the Kobold King. The PC who slays Greebok must make a save vs Spells or become enamored by it. So much so that the PC removes it from Greebok's head, then plucks out one of his own eyes and replaces it with the magic Golden Eye. Any beneficial effects are left to the referee's discretion. :-)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Special Talents for White Star

I have been reading through James Spahn's excellent space opera RPG White Star this week and the notion of special talents struck me. Characters in the space opera genre (and many other genres, really) often seem to have special abilities, talents or unique things about them that set them apart.

I have used these types of "special talents" before in B/X games, so I looked up some old files and re-tooled them with a hydrospanner for use with White Star.

Presenting below, a quick list of special talents for PCs...

Special talents are unique traits possessed by PCs or notable NPCs. Special talents may be inherent or genetic traits, mystical powers, mutations from being exposed to weird radiation, benefits or knowledge gained from a background or upbringing, or simply well-practiced skills—whatever explanation works for the referee. Numerous special talents are presented below, some provide minor statistical benefits and others are general or knowledge-based traits.


PCs gain one special talent roll at 1st level.


Roll d8   Special Talent
1             Dirty Fighter
2             Gizmo Sense
3             Linguist
4             Lucky
5             Mentalist
6             Quick Healer
7             Servant
8             Starbrat

Dirty Fighter: You know how to piss off your foes. Each combat round you may designate one opponent that you have already damaged. If that opponent attacks anyone other than you, he suffers a -1 penalty to his attack roll.

Gizmo Sense: You have a 10% chance per level (max 90% at 9th level) to identify the general purpose and function of any “magical,” ancient, pan-dimensional, or otherwise bizarre technological device. You can try this once per day.

Linguist: You possess a natural gift with languages. Regardless of your Intelligence score, you know two additional languages.

Lucky: You have the favor of the cosmos, are fated to do great deeds, or are just plain lucky. Once per day you can invoke your luck and roll two dice for any single die roll and take the better of the two results. You can decide before or after you’ve made the first die roll.

Mentalist: You are a mentalist. You possess a mysterious gift, as hard to command as a dream, which enables you to sense echoes of the past. Once per day, you can invoke a vision tied to the immediate area in which you are standing. A vision augments your rational senses, providing you with information about events and people at that location during the past. The vision lasts for one minute or until you leave the immediate area.

Quick Healer: You heal quickly from injury. You naturally heal 1d4 plus your Constitution modifier in hit points for a complete day of rest.

Servant: You have a butler, handmaiden, apprentice, servant android or some other assistant appropriate to your class and social standing. You may call upon your servant to perform any tasks or duties he is trained for. Your servant is not an adventurer (i.e. doesn’t possess a class) and will not fight for you, but he does know some useful skills appropriate to his training. You are required to provide and pay for your servant. At the referee’s discretion, your servant is not replaceable. If he is killed, you cannot call upon another servant until you perform a particular task or make an appropriate payment.

Starbrat: You grew up in starports and aboard starships. You know your way around them (including the service corridors and crawlspaces) and won’t get lost, no matter their size. You also know where to find interesting or black market items and people who don’t usually want to be found.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

DM Session Log Sheet for 5e D&D

Today's post offers up a DM's session log sheet with a master monster matrix tailored for 5e D&D games.

Basically, this 2-page sheet helps me handle 3 critical things during a game session:

1) It allows me to see important player character stats at a glance and track damage/conditions/etc.
2) I can jot down notes on encounters the PCs have, treasures they find, and track their accumulated expees.
3) It gives me a place to write out monster stats so I don't have to flip through a book unless absolutely necessary.

Enjoy, I hope you find it useful!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Wow my DM's Seat sure has Changed!

It's got screens now. WTF?!?

Yes, the Wastelands Campaign has gone online. My players and I all live in different places now, so we've had to switch up how we meet to play.

I ran my first online session in the Wastelands campaign using Google Hangouts tonight. Weird. Not used to this kind of "tabletop" gaming yet. I was pretty well prepped as far as notes and setting up my desk for use goes (I think!) but without a virtual tabletop or combat maps, I felt kinda lost at some points. I'll get used to it, I'm sure, as will my players.

We just haven't had "theater of the mind" combats in a very long time, and it showed. I think next time I'll at least have some chamber or combat maps drawn and ready to post for reference, if the players or I need them.

Overall it went pretty smoothly though, and we're looking forward to the next session during the week.

If you good readers have any tips or recommendations for running games over Google Hangouts, I'd love to read them. Cheers!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hogtown Games to Launch this Summer!

LONDON—April 19, 2015—The Borderlands: Steve’s Dorky Old-School Gaming Blog today announces the Summer 2015 launch of Hogtown Games, an independent small press publisher of tabletop RPG supplements.

Company spokesman Nudford Alastair Duke III, or 3-Nads-a-Swinging, as he is affectionately known around the office, addressed the flashing cameras and furious text-thumbing of the paparazzi after graciously exiting (completely of his own volition, we assure you) to the red carpet of the Prince Albert Pub on Hampton Road, Twickenham, with the following public announcement:

"Take yor bloody hands offa me you pin-headed wank... Huh? Wotzat, love? Oh yes, the Thai food here is bloody fab... Huh? Papawhatzi? ... Oh, roight! *cough cough*

"Esteemed members of the press, and I include you seedy blogosphere hacks when I say that, I thank you for coming here tonight. I'm very pleased to announce the formation of Hogtown Games, an independent small press publisher of tabletop RPG supplements. Hogtown Games is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Global-Evil-Tech INC's Super Happy Fun Time Gaming and Fish Sauce Exports Emporium, LLC.

"Hogtown Games mission is to create old-school flavor gaming products with pulp adventure-gonzo spices and ingredients. Due to the technologically sensitive nature of the company, and the raving insecure egos of its corporate shareholders, we will not be taking any questions at this time. 

"Thank you, once again, for coming. Cheerio, and happy fun time gaming!"


The press release is obviously fake, but Hogtown Games is not. :-)

My mission with Hogtown really is to produce old-school flavor RPG supplements with pulp adventure-gonzo spices and ingredients. There may even be some more "standard" fantasy stuff (and even sci-fi/space) thrown in as well. I won't reveal any specific details of planned supplements yet, other than the first freebie one will be coming out this Summer, and that some will be free and others will be for sale. All will be available as PDFs and most will be available in print.

I'm a one-man operation based here in Toronto, so certainly don't expect a release a month (or even a quarter for that matter!), but I will update the blog whenever I have solid information to share about Hogtown Games releases.

See there on the right ... I even have a cool logo designed by the groovy artist +Del Teigeler. You can check out Del's art blog over here. It's full of awesomeness. Thanks again for the great work, Del!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dungeons & Dragonauts? [Wastelands Dragons]

Dragons don't exist in my Wastelands of Kreth setting.


OK, they actually do. But in the Wastelands our favorite D&D monsters are known as dragonauts—vile, machine-like horrors who wield magnetism and magic as weapons, in addition to their razor-sharp extremities and devastating breath. And they lust after treasure, of course. Otherwise, well ... who the frig cares about dragons in any form but for their gleaming, bountiful treasure hoards.

You can thank the dwarves for that.

You see, Wastelands dwarves believe that the multiverse was created by a tightly-ratcheted group of deities. Both the gods and the multiverse are known as the Mechanoid Construct, and they are one and the same—indivisible, unbreakable and perfectly ordered to function for eternity. So long as no one throws a wrench in the gearworks.

Prime deity of the Mechanoid Construct is Synculon the Articulator, who first created and gave precise timing, expression and substance to the multiverse. Allied with him are Justicron, warrior and protector of the multiverse; Oculus, visionary, magician and revealer of the multiverse’s secrets; Regulus, loremaster and organizer of the multiverse and establisher of systems and laws; and Technus, the forger of elements and stars and worlds, and inspiration for the construction and crafting of all things, including the dwarves. 

Now the wrench. Opposing Synculon's instrumental cabal is Chaositron, the dark god, destroyer and saboteur of the multiverse. Chaositron’s driving purpose is to undo the perfect machinations of the Mechanoid Construct. To aid this goal, Chaositron created the perfect tool—dragonauts. And dragonauts love nothing more than tormenting, eating and slaying dwarves. And taking their treasure, of course.

So, it's all the dwarves' fault.

How do we make a dragonaut to punish ... er, entertain your players at your next game session?

Simply re-skin one of the existing dragons. Using the red dragon as a baseline, I made numerous adjustments to the stats. Dragonauts in my game have poison breath, for example, and they are vulnerable to lightning damage. Dragonauts tend to be a bit less cunning than standard dragons, so I've lowered their Int and Wis scores. However, they're still smarter than white dragons. I've also divided the dragonauts into "ages" of a sort, but renamed them mechaling, mecha, mega and ultra.

Here are my stats for the Dragonaut mechaling (or "wyrmling") to illustrate.

Medium dragonaut, chaotic evil
AC 19 (natural armor)
Hit Points 68 (9d8+27)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft., fly 60 ft.
18 (+4)
10 (+0)
16 (+3)
10 (+0)
8 (-1)
11 (+0)
Saving Throws Dex +2, Con +5, Wis +1, Cha +2 
Skills Perception +1, Stealth +2 
Damage Vulnerabilities lightning 
Damage Immunities poison; bludgeoning, piercing and slashing from nonmagical weapons 
Condition Immunities poisoned 
Senses blindsight 10 ft., darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11 
Languages Mechanoid 
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP) 
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit; reach 5 ft.; one target. Hit: 9 (1d10+4) piercing damage plus 3 (1d6) poison damage. 
Poison Breath (Recharge 5-6). Dragonaut breathes poison in a 15-foot cone. Targets in area make DC 14 Dex save or take 21 (6d6) poison damage; half-damage on a successful save.

Lastly, we'll have to consider the lair actions and regional effects of the mega and ultra dragonauts (the "adults" and "ancients.") The following are some options I've come up with to cover these.

  • Cacophony. The dragonaut shakes and writhes its articulated metal body creating a painful cacophony in a 60-foot radius around it. Each creature in the area (other than the dragonaut) must make a DC 15 Con save or take 21 (6d6) thunder damage; half-damage on a successful save.
  • Magnetic Field. A field of magnetic energy engulfs a 20-foot radius centered on any point the dragonaut can see within 120 feet. The field lasts until initiative count 20 on the next round. Each creature wearing metallic armor that starts its turn in the field must succeed at a DC 13 Con save or be paralyzed until the end of its turn.
  • Metallic ruins dot the landscape within several miles of the dragonaut’s lair. These might be the crumbled shards of skyscrapers from an ancient city, the rusted hulls of abandoned ocean vessels beached in a long-desiccated silt sea, or the half-buried debris fields from a crashed starship. Regardless, rust monsters are naturally attracted to the region (but stay well clear of the dragonaut’s actual lair from deadly experience) and the chances of encountering them are increased manifold.
  • Metallic objects occasionally thrum and lightly attract each other due to strange magnetic forces within 1 mile of the dragonaut’s lair.
  • Magnetically-charged aetherstorms frequently disrupt magic use within 1 mile of the dragonaut’s lair. When a storm gathers, treat this region as a wild magic zone. Roll on the Wild Magic Surge table (p.104 of the PHB) whenever a spell is cast, or improvise a strange magical effect that occurs because of the spell.