Monday, August 4, 2014

2 Quick Reviews

I bought a few items on RPG Now a week ago, and had ...mixed results. I don't normally do reviews, but felt I had to say something.  However, I'm going to quickly review all 6 items that I bought, rather than just the bad ones.

One Page Table Number Eight: Woodland Features and Hazards
One Page Table Number Eleven: Mountain and Hill Features and Hazards
PBE Games, written by Mark A. Thomas
Normally $1; bought for .75c apiece on sale.

These are pretty much WYSIWYG. Each  is a single table with 20 entries on a single page. The entries are system neutral, two or three sentences long, and describe a feature or hazard. They are varied and realistic, but not boring, and work well for someone needing to spice up a hexcrawl or overland journey.  I could see myself using them.

16 A grove of trees, all the same kind, breaks the usual forest mix. This place may hold special significance to local intelligent creatures, and its unique appearance makes it a useful landmark.

Layout is good. Not flashy, very functional. I wish the background were white instead of an off-white/light grey tone, for the sake of my printer ink, but they're still printable. At $1 I feel they're a little overpriced; .50c apiece would work for me, but at .75c I'm not disappointed in them.

Summary: 7/10 - Would buy again. Unlikely to buy more at current regular price; would consider buying more as needed at 25% off; will buy more at 50% regular price.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dalerain VIII: The Empty Queen

The Empty Queen, Crone Goddess, Lady of Despair
Power of the Dalerain
Major AoC: Curses, Despair, Disillusionment, Nightmares, Weakness
Minor AoC: Abandonment, Evil Witchs, Seduction, Summoning
Symbol: A gnarled staff, five withered fingers, a crow.
Allies: Malis, Tuar, Yilwyn
Enemies: Brigit, Catil
Avatar: Cleric 6 / Rogue 12 / Wizard 17
Kajalla appears as a wrinkled and decrepit old woman, though she can assume any shape or form that suits her purpose (any deity can do this, but Kajalla employs the skill more than most). Her clothing is worn and stained, her accoutrements scratched and dirty, and her manner foul and abusive. Those who meet her in this form and return the abuse are invariably cursed; those who treat her well without knowing her true nature earn at least a brief respite from her attentions.

Kajalla is known to be younger than Catil, but is otherwise one of the oldest and most secretive of the Dalerain. She is the head of a trinity of goddesses of evil, her companions being Malis and Yilwyn, and also allied with Tuar, the lord of the spaces below the earth. She was once a close patron and ally of Cheneitha, but that relationship has grown distant in recent centuries, and the Ice Queen is rarely found in the company of the Crone Goddess.

She is worshipped by witches and those who wish to bring harm to others, and she is appeased by nearly everyone. Her priests are manipulative and cruel, and often assemble small bands of like-minded individuals and monsters around them to further help them sow despair and and disillusionment. Many hags are aligned with Kajalla's faith, though few hags actually worship her -- it is not in their nature to acknowledge a power greater than their own.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Great Blog Roll Call 2014!

I made it onto the list!  :)

I tend to forget that this resource exists...I wonder if I can auto-email the link to myself once a week?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


So this is my backyard now.

And a pine and a spruce snapped off about 30' up.

The big 'un is a black walnut, which has a beautiful wood that was extensively used for furniture making. I have a friend whose father has an alaskan sawmill, so I'm hoping to get the walnut sawn into boards. Quite frankly, it's too big for me to do anything treehouse or playhouse with, but the spruce & pine have possibilities - sizeable trunks, and still well rooted.

The amazing thing is that not a single thing was damaged. I had parked my truck and trailer out back in the trees, and nothing fell on them. A very large branch landed next to our shed, but didn't damage it in the slightest. The wooden fence is unfinished, and the walnut squashed the black raspberries and the wire fence, but both will bounce right back up.The evergreens smashed the lilacs and forsythia I was going to cut back anyhow, and missed by 2-3' the baby spruce my daughter planted last year.

PS - Since everyone says it: I do not have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, and I have 3 brush piles already, so I'm good on bonfire material. I will probably use the softwoods to help construct some terracing on the south side of the garage for strawberries, and the walnut I'll split with the sawyer. The smaller branches I'll make spoons & suchlike out of.  The remainder I'm piling out back with the intent of letting it rot.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Vacation Update and blog hijack

Staying at campgrounds and the occasional motel around the country has been horrible for writing (it's still almost done; I swear!  My cousin has read the rough draft and loved it!), but great fun for the most part. Two nights of rain and an overly bold raccoon have left us a bit tired of camping though, so we're in a hotel in Pittsburgh for the last few nights (it's undergoing serious renovations, which puts it in our price range.)

Awesome trip though.  Turns out I really like Ohio.  Who knew?

In other news, my housesitter is getting a bonus. A major storm through our town, and she sat in the basement with our pets (we've NEVER had to do this). She came up to find the storm had uprooted possibly the largest black walnut tree in our backyard: the hole alone is 10-12' feet across and at least 4' deep from the photos and her description.

I used to build houses, and I recently worked for a year building playgrounds. Incredible, amazing fun. I've built two custom treehouses recently that have gotten some attention. I have a masters degree in landscape architecture. And now I've got a giant tree trunk and root structure to play with and really do something amazing with no boss but myself and my daughter????  As much as I'm sad about losing the tree, I'm practically giddy with the possibilities.  :)

Pictures when I get home.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Secrets #2: Down to the Wire

On Saturday I'm headed out for two weeks.  I'm bringing a computer, but internet will be spotty (campsites, y'know).
Here's what I think I'm looking at:

  • Cardstocks pages are laid out. That means I can take my diminishing pile of cardstock to the printer and get the covers done, hopefully tomorrow. UPDATE: Yup, did 'em.
  • Stickers are almost all written. UPDATE: Printed two sheets of 10, so that'll get me through the backorders.
  • I've got one race left that needs a big writeup, and then I need to go through and check all the entries, but then I'm good to print. I'm doing that at home, and I'm stocked up on paper and ink, I'll just need time. I really prefer a full bleed print for the space, but that means I can't print duplex - I have to print one side x number of times, flip the pile over, and print the other side x number of times. Rinse and repeat, then assemble and staple. So the big factor is time. It's doable, but it's tight. I can pack and do this at the same time, though.
  • Envelopes for everyone who's preordered are already addressed. I do need to go through and grab emails, though.
  • Best case scenario, print and pdf will go out Friday night and Saturday morning.
  • Middle scenario, PDFs go out Friday but I assemble along the way and stuff gets mailed between here and Chicago. Frankly, this appeals to me just because I can drop them off at different towns and you can all get random postmarks.
  • Worst case scenario, I will take the covers and envelopes and stapler with me, and complete the printing when I get to Chicago around the 1st or 2nd. PDFs, which don't require printing, will go out sooner. The allure here is if I wait a few days to print, I get errata feedback in time to make a difference.
We're driving out to Chicago and back, stopping at a bunch of places along the way and seeing the heartland of America (you laugh, but I've got a masters in landscape architecture, I'm from New England, and I'm fascinated by how communities evolve - driving through middle America is AMAZING to me). I'm taking the computer and a few slim books, but I'm really going to try and work in my notebooks and do some actual longhand writing for a change. It's been quite a few years. I'm hoping to work on the OSR Superstar adventure, but that might end up being a casualty of timing.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Secrets #2: Strange Races update and previews

Basically, I'm not satisfied with my write-ups, so I'm going through and tweaking/revising/expanding or editing them. Artwork is also a drain on my time, although I think I'm about done there.

Here's the illustration for the bast.

And here's the revised & expanded writeup for the crabmen.

Crabmen (Armamen)
Crabmen, or armamen, are bipedal, humanoid crabs the size of ogres. They have an insect-like head, a thick exoskeleton, a large pair of pincers arms, and a smaller set of humanoid arms below those. Most armamen are reddish-brown or brown, but occasionally a crabman is born with a much more vibrantly colored carapace of blue, white, yellow, or purple. These chromatically endowed crabmen are smarter and wiser than their brethren, and can become spellcasters. They speak their own language of hisses and clicks, and adventuring armamen can speak the local tongue as well. Crabmen mature quickly but slowly.

Crabmen are somewhat stolid and conservative in their worldview. Uncertainly, indecision, and change make them uncomfortable – a happy day, to a crabman, is one just like the day before. They keep to themselves and are slow to trust strangers. Most crabmen avoid conflict if possible, but defend their territory vigorously.

Armamen live in small communities along coastal waters or large rivers. They are primarily scavengers and scour the shoreline daily for food. Their communities are led by the elders with the advice of the spellcasting crabmen. They worship a few simple gods that manifest as monstrous sea creatures. The pantheon is led by a monstrous lobster god; its foe is a titanic kraken. An oracular mollusk is the guardian of magical secrets; for this reason armamen magic-users etch their spells onto pearls, which they carry in small pouches.

Racial Abilities & Classes
Crabmen cannot wield weapons or wear armor (their pincers are too crude; their arms too weak), but they can attack twice in a round with their pincers, inflicting 1d6 points of damage with each attack, and have a natural AC of 3 [16]. They also begin play with an extra Hit Die (1d6). Crabmen can swim at a speed of 9 and breath water or air at will.
Crabmen can become Fighters (4th level). Crabmen with an Intelligence of 16 or higher can become Magic-Users (3rd level); those with a Wisdom of 16 or higher can become Druids (3rd level). A crabman with Intelligence and Wisdom scores of 16 can become a Druid/Magic-User; if both scores are 18 the crabman can advance to 5th level in both classes.

Secrets & Lore
  • Crabmen (like so many other races) were servants of the Aten Empire, used as longshoremen and fishermen and housed in a great ghetto in A’aten. Many crabmen have continued in those professions in the Feathered Realm, but others have spread out into the islet-studded estuaries around A’aten. Many of these small islands hold ruins abandoned by the aten for one reason or another.
  • Once in a great while, a confluence of tides and tainted water instills a temporary madness in the armamen, giving them an insatiable and almost uncontrollable hunger for violence and slaughter. It has been so long since the last confluence that only a few elderly sages even know of the armamen weakness. The aten had an antidote, but the secret of its manufacture was lost when they were driven from power.