Saturday 31 March 2018

Can't Sleep—Clowns Will Eat Me

The good folk of Juniper's Crossing haven't slept a wink since the circus arrived, and not for lack of trying. People are starting to see things that aren't real, and—even worse—some things that are.

This adventure was written by Stephanie Bryant, whom you might know as the author of the Threadbare RPG. She has served up an intense, layered, horror experience.

To spill the beans, deep inside the circus is something horrible, a "dream eater" that both keeps everyone awake, and causes their insomnia-fuelled hallucinations to manifest as shared illusions.

To top it off, the thing nests in a mirror maze with a quartet of dopplegangers. The potential for gaslighting by gaslight is completely over the top.

This adventure is potentially set in a different time than some of the others—P. T. Barnum clowns definitely evoke a period of American history in a way that my other adventures don't, and I really enjoyed where this took me, personally.

There's this aspect of fantasy worlds that are artificially eternal, as if somehow gunpowder, internal combustion, and industrial revolutions will never occur. At the same time, I find it fascinating to imagine a modern world that is somehow living out the past echoes of violent, fantasy world with its  hardscabble holds surrounded by monster-infested wilderness.

In my imagination, the nightmares of Juniper's Crossing are like the PTSD of a whole landscape, brought into painful reality by the dream eater.

Anyways, that's just my reaction! You can just as easily treat this as a slice of modern Americana, mythos investigation by gaslight, or just treat it as straight-up D&D-esque fantasy adventure.

I also have to say, a distorted mirror maze is one of the most dastardly places I've ever heard of stocking a mimic, that's just evil.

As always, the text and illustrations are all released under CC-BY-NC, so feel free to use and remix them non-commercially.

Friday 30 March 2018

The One-Page Halls Untoward

+Goblins Henchman has done a very cool thing, and turned the Halls Untoward into a single-page dungeon.. using Excel.

Here's a video tour:

If you want the Excel version (or a blank template), you can snag them from the Goblin Dropbox!

At the same time, beast-quester +Ben Milton is at work on a similarly motivated project, laying out the Halls Untoward as a series of one-page dungeon fragments, so he can kill his fifth-graders. Check it out!

It's pretty cool what happens when you release stuff under creative commons.

Monday 19 March 2018

2G2BT v0.12

No huge news on the 2G2BT front, but the game has accumulated a small number of clarifications and very minor changes, and it seems silly that the last word on this game is a few versions out of date.

Thursday 8 March 2018

Kickstarter Plans

Time to talk a little bit about my upcoming adventure compilation, which I'm going to Kickstart this year. All of this is tentative, but I figured it can only be helpful to open up my plans and get some feedback.

What will it be?

I'm taking all of my adventures, and putting them into a book. By the time I'm ready, there will be something like 45 of them, all lovingly written up and illustrated.

Beyond this, they will all be:

  • All re-edited, and in some cases rewritten for clarity
  • Brought up to the same stylistic look and feel of the newer ones
  • Replacing a map or two (Steeps of Ur-Menig is really bad)

It will also contain the adventure A Clutch of Shadows, which was never widely released. There will of course be a brand-new compilation-only adventure! Maybe a couple.

The Format

As you may know, some of my adventures are landscape-letter, and some are portrait (tall and skinny). I'm reformatting all of them to have the same orientation, the super-wide and cinematic letter landscape.

If all goes well, there will be three formats to choose from:

A hardcover edition, something on the order of 110 pages. A little more depending on stretch goals. For comparison purposes, this is the of the classic 1e Monster Manual, but of course turned sideways. This is an unusual format, but I think it works really well with the layout.

A saddle-stitched edition. This will come as two or three slim books—stapled, with no spine, they will lie flat. This version is meant to be spread out behind your GM's screen, with everything you need to run one of the adventures right there.

A PDF of the single-volume edition.


At this point, I'm looking seriously at DTRPG POD for the printing. I'm going to be carefully looking at samples before this is for sure, and it does have the "buy twice" symptom: people will pay once for the Kickstarter, which gives them a coupon for an at-cost copy from DTRPG, with shipping charges worked out at the last moment.

This feels like the right move for me to Kevin Crawford this to a sensible conclusion, in a way that works both for backers and the complexities of my life.

This lets me keep the project very DIY, while at the same time reducing shipping charges for European customers ('cause copies can be printed in Europe).

Extra Content

Here are the types of extra content I'm planning. I'm deliberately keeping the stretch goals modest. My plan is to try to complete the project very soon after funding, so stretch goals that jeopardize this are not an option. No T-shirts, buttons, or anything else I don't know how to make myself. Nor anything that depends on stretch goal writers.

Although.. I have been working with some fabulous guest writers recently, and that will continue over the coming months. In a sense, I'm picking writers I've really been wanting to work with before the Kickstarter campaign, which is a little bit like knocking out stretch goals before the campaign starts. :P

When I ran a poll many moons ago, by far the biggest request for additional content was gazetteer information about the world these adventures are set in. I'm planning to have a few pages on the major regions, and the history of the place. There will probably also be a few regional random encounter tables.

EDIT: A section on hooks for one-shots. What should the party be trying to do in order to engage with the adventure most fully?

I'm seriously considering a section on how to chain adventures together to form larger campaigns. There are some obvious links now, such as Oracle's Decree -> Roots of Ambition -> Lair of the Lantern Worm, and the various underworld adventures that lead to City of the Carreg. Then there are less obvious links, like Circle of Wolves -> Chains of Heaven.

There are now enough new creatures and unusual peoples in the adventures to warrant a short bestiary. This will likely be a paragraph on each creature, as well as systemless awesome stuff they do in combat. This will look a little like a Dungeon World monster stat block, just without numbers.

More detail on the magical items and treasures in the adventures.

Maaaaybe Stretch Goals

Color plates of select adventures—what would it look like from an adventuring party's perspective to arrive at this place?  I have already had one commissioned, and holy snot it's so cool to see it painted. If I go this route (if the math works out), then I might do a few more as a color insert in the middle of the book.

System-specific stats for the bestiary. Probably (in order of likeliness):

  • OSR-friendly B/X or Lamentations stats
  • Dungeon World
  • 5e (maybe)
What Do You Think?

What kind of feedback am I hoping for?

1. That sounds great, especially ____________________
2. I'm interested in this project, but I would much rather buy ______________
3. I have run a Kickstarter of this sort and don't forget ________________

Thursday 1 March 2018

Mulciber's Flute

In the Motes of Eternity, the old world has been ploughed under, demigods and all. I've been mulling over this process - was it cataclysmic? Was it gradual? I find that fascinating, the idea that the mythic underworld was once the surface world.

Perhaps it's the regional demigods, the ancestral hosts that protect pockets of the world being lost. Maybe the mountains are hollow, each one an ancient cyst.

Either way, not all of the powers would accept their fate gracefully. Mulciber's Flute is an adventure set in hell - well, a specific kind of hell: a pocket nightmare, the sort of thing you might expect if a demigod went all Vlad the Impaler.

In a way, I suppose it's my take on a paladin in hell, but with the prospect that adventurers could do something about it, without having to upend a spiritual pole of the entire universe. This is a hell without a heaven.

I kinda love Mulciber. :)