Saturday, July 8, 2017

Expedition to the Forbidden Zone - An Apes Victorious / Mutant Future Mashup (Part 1)

I have been enamored with Goblinoid Games's Apes Victorious roleplaying game ever since it came out last year and have been dying for  chance to take it for a test run, I mean... good god! An OSR "Plant of the Apes", and from Goblinoid Games no less! Count me in!

I'm also an avid post-apocalypse roleplaing fan since the 1st Edition Gamma World era, so I've been in love with Goblinoid's OSR post-apocalyptic Mutant Future game for years. When I first read through Apes Victorious, I immediately wanted to mix it with Mutant Future into some far-flung, post-apocalyptic earth, much like what you can find in Mutant Future, with the Apes from Apes Victorious running the show as the dominant intelligent species.

I haven't been able to find much of a local gaming scene where I live, and a medical condition makes driving unsafe for everyone involved, so I took to Goggle+ to hunt down players for Expedition to the Forbidden Zone,  an online play-by-post style game mashing up Apes Victorious and Mutant Future. The response was so quick that my poor group had to wait patiently as I played catch up to give this adventure the prep and excitement it deserves,

I have been known to enjoy a good dungeon crawl, especially over cold beer or decent bourbon, and some themes and genres lend themselves exceptionally well to a mission or assignment style format. By far, though, my favorite - as both player and GM is a sandbox, explored or otherwise, full of exciting locations and opportunities fir adventure. In the past, one trouble I've had with sandbox style scenarios like this (granted you have some objectives and a limited selection of routes) is not coming up with enough detail before it gets underway. I know it sounds nuts... a sandbox should be the easiest to improvise, right?

As it turned out, I was still trying to find the right balance of information. Not having enough prepped, or using only the broadest strokes to define setting elements, always made for exciting and liberating GMing, but it was also causing me some problems. In the past, I have usually waited until the characters engage with these locations and creatures before giving them more than the briefest descriptions and/or maps and stats in my GM notes. This is usually a good way for me to prep tabletop games. It eliminates too much unnecessary prep and won't tempt me to railroad my players to some extent so they don't miss whatever amazing things I've prepared. This also helps to slay the "quantum ogres". The problem I have had over the years is that I am never fully prepared for these encounters, and the game slows to a crawl or just stalls out forever while I prep the specifics of the situation.

For Expedition to the Forbidden Zone, the initial map the PCs have access to , along with its description, took very little time, aside from some trouble with my map making program (which persists still - apologies for that. I would have preferred a nice old school hex map, or even something artistic and hand drawn, but the vagueness of the one the PCs have now is fitting for the adventure). So I have my adventure intro and concept, a sparsely annotated and potentially inaccurate map, and a handful of locations, creatures, and other elements 
I wanted to exist.

The locations listed on the characters' map have all been detailed. Not to the extent of a published module, but I have maps, notes, NPCs, and more all ready to go as soon as the group hits those locations. I have also, in my own GM map, made note of many other locations the group can find ruins, geographic oddities, strange tribes, lairs of deadly beasts, etc..

I've always been more partial to larger and more well explored sandbox locales, but the smaller size and the incredible amount of biological and geological diversity within the area has enabled me to pack quite a lot into this setting. 

The smaller number of known locations has enabled me to do more prep for those key spots, and in less time than if I were giving less attention to three times as many locations. My GM notes contain enough information about the other hidden locations, lairs, and encounters that I can run those encounters without having to do much more than roll for some variables.

Also,  for the first time in far too long, I have been writing random encounter tables. I have a general encounter table that can apply to pretty much the entire map, and I also have random encounter for specific locales. On these tables are animals and plants (more on that in a moment)  but strange weather activity, NPCs whose primary goal is not to kill the PCs, potentially lethal natural hazards, and more.

Lastly, I would like to discuss monsters. Running a mashup of Apes Victorious and Mutant Future means that I have a basically unending supply of monsters, dangerous plants, sentient species, telepathic beings, or whatever else I might want. The Mutant  Future and Apes Victorious books have some great, evocative monsters. I like to create setting specific monsters as well. If the old imagination fails me, I can lift and re-skin pretty much anything from any OSR game meant to emulate BECMI mechanically, which in turn means I can hack up stat blocks from d20, 3.5, 5th edition, Mutants and Masterminds, and so much more. Yesterday, I needed Apes Victorious stats for a creature I ended up finding in a Pathfinder book. The Pathfinder version is a lot less twisted than what I wound up turning it into, but it took less than five minutes to pare down the Pathfinder stats and make the changes to unleash something terrifically horrid into my world.

So what's my point? What am I yammering on about?

I think I may have discovered - if only for this one campaign - the perfect amount of sandbox prep. Granted, prepping this still took longer than I wanted, but I think I've discovered a new workflow and some new creativity tricks.

Creating this area of the Forbidden Zone has been and continues to be insane, ridiculous fun. If my players have half as much fun on their expeditions, I will consider my efforts successful!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Villagers Who are More Than They Appear - The Lock-Picking Shopkeeper

I am working on a system-neutral roleplaying game supplement containing several NPC villagers that are more than they appear to be. Each one can be used to add some variety to the commoners that are usually encountered in a village, and each one provides a few adventure and plot hooks.

This is a rough draft of one villager. When creating a system-neutral project, it can be hard to differentiate between "easily adaptable" and "too vague". For example, I have tried not to be too specific and have left his appearance and a few other things for the GM to decide. I'm not sure if I should add those details - and other more specific information - or leave it open. Feedback is greatly appreciated.

The proprietor of the general store is a former thief who betrayed his partners or guild. He traveled as far as he could, evading his pursuers, and eventually settled in the village. He used some of his loot to buy land and construct a small general store, and buried the rest in the nearby wilderness. He has taken great care to change his appearance as much as possible, and he has managed to hide from his enemies for several years. 

His days of thieving are well behind him.  He has taken a wife, fathered a son, and is a respected member of the community. He is regarded as a hard working and friendly man, personable and cheerful.  He is not violent by nature, but he has killed men in the past and would do so again to protect his family and his new life. 

If the PCs befriend him, he might let it slip that he has a talent for picking locks, This information might also be obtained through rumors at whatever tavern or inn the locals frequent. In any case, he will pick locks for a reasonable fee. He will also buy stolen goods, appraise items, and attempt to find any sort of rare or illicit items that the PCs desire.

No matter how how friendly he becomes with the PCs, he will never talk about his true past. If asked  he will say that he is from a far away town where he worked as a merchant with his father. He will not accompany the PCs on any sort of adventure, scouting mission, or heist. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Bronze, Iron, and Steel

By Takkk (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
I've been doing some research for my Iron and Chaos setting regarding bronze, iron, and steel.In the world of Iron and Chaos, there are cultures with differing technology levels, so I need to read up a bit more on the subject and then "game-ify" it so that - for example - the difference between a bronze sword and a steel sword has an in-game effect.

If you are interested in the subject, here are a few links I've been checking out. I will be happy to post any additional information and sites that I find if anyone is interested

And here's a little something on sword construction and blood grooves, just because.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying - NPC "Septon Garet"

Septon Garet was once a soldier. He fought during Robert’s Rebellion for the Targaryens and, having seen enough bloodshed and atrocities, embraced The Seven and became a septon when the war was over. He serves House Gartner in their sept, performing religious services and maintaining the family crypts.

This is the NPC record for House Gartner's Septon. Feel free to download, modify, utilize, and horribly murder him in your own games.

You can grab him right here: Septon Garet

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying - NPC "Keyel Rivers"

Originally from The Riverlands, Keyel Rivers is the bastard of a riverboat captain and an unknown farmer’s daughter. Growing up aboard his father’s ship, he learned the skills necessary to navigate through treacherous rivers and sea routes. His father, Gorid Rivers, helped House Gartner during Robert’s Rebellion but died shortly after in a storm. Keyel’s knowledge of ships and natural leadership ability soon gained him appointment as House Gartner’s Master of Ships. Although his travels sometimes take him to sea, his main responsibility is the Greenblood river.

This is the NPC record for House Gartner's Master of Ships. Feel free to download, modify, utilize, and horribly murder him in your own games.

You can grab him right here: Keyel Rivers

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying - NPC "Ser Garet Bryke"

Ser Garet Bryke is a longtime household knight of House Gartner, a veteran of many battles, and Ser Willar’s uncle. His younger brother, Ser Herek, was slain during the early days of Robert’s Rebellion, and Ser Garet lost an eye to a Stark arrow during The Battle of The Trident. He now serves as House Gartner’s Castellan, overseeing its defenses and garrisons.

This is the NPC record for House Gartner's Castellan. Feel free to download, modify, utilize, and horribly murder him in your own games.

You can grab him right here: Ser Garet Bryke

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying - NPC "Maester Burgess"

NPC - Maester Burgess

House Gartner, Wardens of the Middle Greenblood, are a Dornish house, sworn bannermen and personal friends to House Martell, House Gatrner are a powerful and influential house, thus requiring the service of a skilled Maester of The Citadel.

This is the NPC record for House Gartner's Maester. Feel free to download, modify, utilize, and horribly murder him in your own games.

You can grab him right here:  Maester Burgess