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Showing posts from June, 2018

Dragon Warrior, Why I Tried Torchbearer, and Why I Left

To me, this is the most tense I have ever experienced a dungeon:

Dragon Warrior / Dragon Quest 1 for the NES. Likely the first RPG of any kind I played. Doesn't look like much, but everything about the way DW handled its dungeons evoked tension to me:
The limited light. When you first enter a dungeon, you only see the square you're in. Light a torch and you can see adjacent squares. The actual distance you can see isn't too different from, say, Wizardry, but something about the overhead view made you keenly aware of how little you can see.The absolute pitch darkness beyond your field of vision. No gradual fade (as later remakes, in my opinion, mistakenly had). No hints of what might be beyond. Just black.That awful sound it makes every time you bump into a wall, which happens a lot, because you can't see.The way the radius of the Radiant spell (which lights a 7x7 area) gradually shrinks. You feel the darkness encroaching. I don't think torches ever actually burn out …

Cardstock Miniatures for A Red & Pleasant Land

Finally complete. 

Moving the ruleset for my A Red & Pleasant Land campaign away from Torchbearer and towards Into the Odd gave me another excuse for a big crafting project. I set about finishing the miniature work I had started earlier. My goal: make a cardstock miniature for every beast and person listed on the AR&PL encounter table.
Player charactersAs always, thanks to Zak S. for the amazing and inspirational art. Here we have minis intended for player characters. Mostly drawings of Alices from AR&PL, but I snuck in some Vornheim art as well.
The Colorless HouseIf I ever get ambitious, I might redo the Colorless Rook as a 2.5d mini (make a 3d chariot out of cardstock or something). The book says that Colorless Rooks are 50' tall, but that is huge and feels like it might have been a typo. I made mine a relative 15' in height like the other Rooks. Looks about right.
The House of HeartsNo large figures for these guys. Where did that tiger come from? Digitally added st…

Torchbearer Props

Crafting. Making Things.

Some weeks it feels like the majority of the reason I play RPGs. As a kid, you could stick me in a room with a pair of scissors, roll of tape, stack of grocery bags, and I'd come out at the end of the day with a 3D model of Bowser's airship from Super Mario Bros 3 and a big smile on my face.

One of the things I did enjoy about Torchbearer was that there was plenty of opportunity for props. Conflict cards, equipment cards, status trackers, etc. Combined with the strong theme and great art of A Red & Pleasant Land, there was a lot to be inspired by.
Torchbearer Conflict Cards
Art is obviously Zak's from A Red & Pleasant Land. (Even if you never run the setting, you owe it to yourself to buy the hardcover just as a work of art.) Workflow here was something like: create playing card template in GIMP, "scan" images from AR&PL with my smartphone, insert into template, save sheets of cards as PDF, print them on cardstock, cut, dark…

Chess Based Spatial Distortions for A Red & Pleasant Land

Some gameable content... 

A Red & Pleasant Land by Zak S. makes a lot of references to the way space and time have become distorted and ravaged by the Slow War. The spatial effect of this is supposed to be especially bad in the Interior. I like this. Makes me imagine things like taking shortcuts across Voivodja using discovered interior routes. Feels like it could give players an interesting choice over whether to travel via the overland gardens or the underground interior.
Can I create a tool for randomly generating useful interior spatial distortion?
The map of Voivodja is made up of squares, not hexes. In my campaign, it's an area of 40x30 squares. Here's what my players have explored so far: Hey, you know what else is square and fits in with the themes of AR&PL? ChessPlayers enter the Interior at some square. After some exploration, they are likely to find a different exit out of the Interior.Where does that new exit lead to? Same square? Nope, the ravages of spatial d…

A Red & Pleasant Land, Part 0: The Story Thus Far...

How it started

My current RPG group was born a couple years back when I invited my fellow DevOps-nerd coworkers to play D&D with me. Most had never played a tabletop RPG before. I hadn't played or run a game since college. I had recently started diving down the rabbit hole of original, 1974 OD&D. Reading through the Little Brown Books, digging through old message board discussions, drawing up dungeon levels, checking out retroclones (Delving Deeper being the one I finally settled on.)

Thus was born our group's first campaign, The Ship on the Grass Sea.

Here's us at that first game. So young, so few props on the table...

But this post will not be about that campaign or about OD&D. This post is about our current campaign. A journey through Voivodja, the Land of Unreason, from A Red & Pleasant Land by Zak S.

Originally, I ran the campaign using Torchbearer rules. We had played a couple Mouse Guard one-shots that the group enjoyed. I was wanting a campaign that emph…