The Jeweler That Dealt in Stardust

On Monday night of this week I ran a Dungeon Crawl Classics one-shot via Google Hangouts and Tabletop Forge. I ran The Jeweler That Dealt in Stardust written by Harley Stroh from the Free RPG module this year. The adventure is a city based adventure and is for third level characters. I had the players pick from the six pregens posted on the Goodman Games forums.

Note: There might be slight spoilers below.

The adventure takes place in the city of Punjar, but could easily be dropped into any major city in your campaign setting of choice. The adventure centers around breaking into a house in the city of a known fence that worked out of a jeweler’s shop. He has not been seen for the past month and the underlife of the city are starting to think there might be untold riches within – should the fence not still be within.

Of the pregens, we ended up with a cutpurse wizard, scribe cleric, mercenary warrior, outlaw warrior, and the slave thief. There was no love for the Halfling vagrant. The group decided on their character names and quickly assumed the identities of their chosen characters.

Since this was a one-shot we cut right to the chase with the party assembling outside the jeweler’s shop in question. The night was dark and the rain was pouring down. With a brief look from outside the shop (a handout is included in the mod which helped in planning), the group decided to send their thief over the garden wall. He did not get far, the rain soaked wall proving to be quite the obstacle as he failed a check to get over the wall. With a little more planning and some rope and grappling hook the party was able to clamber over the wall into the garden beyond.

The group was forced to deal with a threat in the garden, which felt to me just the right level of threat to the five party group. A somewhat tough, but not over the top encounter. Once the party found a way into the jeweler’s shop a screaming trap that went undetected surely alerted any that were within the shop of their presence.

The group explored the first floor before working their way up. The thief proved his worth, though I won’t spoil too much of the module here. Let us just say if you happen to be playing this it is good to have a thief along!

The group continued their exploration of the house which went fairly smoothly. The module had just enough details and description to make it easy on the judge without overwhelming the judge with superfluous information.

The group reached what was the pinnacle encounter for the module and again, the encounter felt like it hit just the right spot. Players were able to play with their might deeds to try to accomplish their goal. It played out pretty well, though the group lost Randolpho, the mighty cutpurse wizard to this encounter.

It took about three hours to run this module over Google+ Hangouts. I rushed it along a bit towards the very end after the pinnacle encounter, but that was simply because it was getting late and folks had to work the next day.

This was a great adventure to run as a one-shot or drop into a longer running campaign. I had a lot of fun running it and I had positive feedback from all of the players.

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is really hitting a sweet spot with me right now. The old-school feel with what feels like new and fresh rules has been great. The adventures I have read so far have been easier to pickup and run than a lot of the Pathfinder modules or PFS scenarios I have run in the past. With The Jeweler That Dealt in Stardust I was able to spend a fairly short amount of time reading it over, getting a feel for it and running it successfully for a group.

I am looking forward to running and playing some more Dungeon Crawl Classics!

A Look At Tabletop Forge

I have been following along with the development of Tabletop Forge since its early days when Joshuha Owen first started posting on Google+ about it. Tabletop Forge is a Google+ Hangout application that assists with playing tabletop RPGs via a Google+ Hangout. It includes mapping functions, whiteboard, dice rolling and integrated chat that allows aliasing and whispering.

I have played with several VTTs over the past few years. In the past I have tended to default to using MapTool and pairing with Skype for the voice end of things. MapTool is a fully featured VTT that when coupled with a framework for your system of choice is a pretty powerful VTT. Using a framework brings some complexity with the tool of course. Another possible con to MapTool is that one needs to host a server that the clients of the other players connect to over the Internet. For the technically inclined this is not a major issue, but for others it does cause troubles.

For those that are not aware, Google+ is haven of gamers. Do not buy the media headlines that Google+ is a ghost town, tap into the right circles and RPG gamers will find Google+ a wonderful home on the web for gamer discussion and meeting other gamers. Add in Google Hangouts for group communication and you start to have the makings of easy online gaming and an easy way to make connections with people that want to game online.

Then enters Tabletop Forge. As mentioned, it is an application that can be used from within a Google Hangout. There are not any servers to configure and setup and open holes in firewalls for. The application runs from within the Google Hangout and provides all the basics of a VTT application. It turns Google Hangouts into a one-stop shop for gaming online.

Tabletop Forge might not support all of the features that MapTool does, but it makes up for it in its simplicity and integration with Google Hangouts. The feature set for Tabletop Forge is growing and even in its current state provides everything to run games online.

I have toyed with Tabletop Forge a reasonable amount and found it easy to use and fully capable of running games via Google Hangouts. Most recently I played a game of Dungeon Crawl Classics over it. We primarily used it for display of images and for dice rolling. It handled the “funky” dice DCC RPG is famous for with ease. It did the job quite well and did not get in the way of the game.

I am prepping for a one-shot of DCC RPG which I am running via Google Hangouts which I will be using Tabletop Forge for. The game will primarily be Theater of the Mind, but I will also be using it for image display and dice rolling as well. The ability to draw up a few images if room descriptions are unclear will also be useful.

While I have talked about playing DCC RPG on Tabletop Forge, one of the things about Tabletop Forge is that it is system neutral. Choose your system and you have the basics to play a game on Google Hangouts with it.

Tabletop Forge currently has a Kickstarter running with about two weeks left to go. While Tabletop Forge is going to remain free, the Kickstarter will help enable the team to add some features and include some art packs with the tool. Plus it helps pay back the free time the current developers have put into it.

So swing on by Google+ and try out Tabletop Forge and see what it can do for your virtual gaming.

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Actual Play

On Tuesday night I was able to play in my first Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG game. Carl Bussler of Flagons and Dragons fame is the Judge of the game and we have several fine Google+ acquaintances playing. We are playing Sailors on the Starless Sea. If you don’t want spoilers you might want to skip this post. I do not intend to go into extreme detail, but I cannot guarantee no spoilers at all.

We are playing via Google Hangouts for voice and video. We are making light use of Tabletop Forge. We use it primarily for some overview maps and to handle our dice rolling. I have toyed with Tabletop Forge a bit on my own, but this is my first actual game with it. It seemed to work very well for our needs and its integration with Google+ is what makes it the perfect tool.

We had four of our five players for our game this week. We had a timely start and soon we were off to investigate some ruins to the south of Honningstad, the town we were based out of. Each player had three 0-level characters, save for the youngest player who we had agreed the session before could have four characters going into it. We are a generous group!

Our characters were the winners of a lottery, well, that is what we were told. Some of the unlucky characters were a bit skeptical and some of the others thought their fortunes changing.

The task was to travel south to investigate some troubles that were believed to be originating from Talonsgate Ruins. Our lucky (or is that unlucky) lottery winners head south to find out what they can about events.

My characters were Tanor the Healer, Sogan the Unlucky, a dwarven miner and Cam the Quick, an orphan. The group of twelve reach the ruins and one of the group circles the ruins and finds what might offer a way into the ruined keep without using the main gates.

We reach the area of tumbled boulders and begin to carefully make our way up. A loose boulder is knocked loose and sends a boulder cascading down the hill. Unfortunately the boulder manages to hit three of the party, sending them to their deaths! Taron the healer was no more along with two other party members.

In many games of the day, a death is disappointing, especially when it happens in the very first encounter. It simply wasn’t the case in this game. It was great fun as the dice fell the way they may and I lost one character and another player lost two of their three characters – in the first encounter! It was great fun!

We managed to move the massive boulder off of the dead and retrieve the valuables from the dead – save for the breakables!

From there we moved on with exploring an opening the movement of the boulder had opened. We found a door with a pentagram on it which spooked all of us. So we did not try to enter the keep through that portal, but moved up to the opening in the keep wall.

We explored several areas in the keep proper. At one point two of the characters decided to retrieve a pony we had left outside the keep to help open a door. So Cam the Quick and another character headed out the front gate of the keep. A portcullis came crashing down killing one character outright and wounding Cam the Quick.

We retreated quickly from that and back into the keep. We went to a ruined tower and explored that area as well. We encountered an ichor of some sort which began attacking our party. After several rounds of combat we finally managed to kill it.

This brought us to the end of the evening, we will be continuing next week.

My initial actual play impression of Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is very positive. There has been something very liberating with running characters with completely random stats through an adventure. Knowing that there is a good chance a character might die is also a nice change. Looking forward to our next session as we see who survives to actually move on to being heroes!

If you are looking for something with an old school feel, but not quite with old school mechanics – take a look at Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. It is a very solid offering from Goodman Games, my only regret is it took me so long to check it out!

Review: Coliseum Morpheuon

Authors:  Clinton Boomer, Jonathan McAnulty
Publisher:  Rite Publishing
Price:  Print – $31.49 / PDF $17.49 / Electronic Bundle $15.94
Pages:   122, Softcover
Tankard Rating:  5/5

Coliseum Morpheuon presented by Rite Publishing is a mini-campaign setting for the Pathfinder ruleset. It also includes a mini-adventure for 16th to 20th level characters. The setting is designed to be dropped into any campaign setting you may be using and details the Plane of Dreams. Regardless of whether you play in Golarion, your own homebrewed setting or any other published setting, Coliseum Morpheuon is easy to fit into an existing campaign world.

The setting covers the Plane of Dreams. The plane is ever-changing and one’s experience with the plane can easily vary from one trip to it to another. Gravity is subjective, time can be erratic, the environment can morph, yet magic tends to work normally – save for when it doesn’t.

The opening chapter of the book covers several of the regions of the plane with areas such as The Idle Isles of Daydream, The Ghoulish Cliffs, The Halls of Painted Heaven, The Slumbering Sea and more. Some attention is also paid to how one enters the Plane of Dreams.

Chapter Two covers the currency of dreams in the Plane of Dreams. In this realm dreams can almost be a form of currency separated in various levels depending on whether a dream is a Hope, Aspiration or Goal. Mechanically one can burn a dream much like one might use action or hero points in a game. Besides burning a dream a character can sacrifice a dream for greater effect, though this destroys the dream.

This chapter also includes several new traits for characters who enter the Plane of Dreams that relate to this new mechanic. For GMs that might feel dreamburning is too much for their game they also provide a short list of alternatives to dreamburning.

Chapter Three is dedicated to the Denizens one might find in the Plane of Dreams. This plan offers greater variety of life than most other planar realms. The book starts with covering the type of creatures, such as Constructs, Fey, Dragons, etc. Some brief information is given about each type, commonality and other tidbits of information. From here the chapter moves into specific creatures to the Plane of dreams with full bestiary style entries.

Chapter Four moves to cover The Island of The Coliseum Morpheuon. While the Plane of Dreams has a large number of changing environs the rest of the book focuses on this Island. The Khan of Nightmares oversees this island and it is legendary for its hosting of gladiatorial competitions that draw people from a myriad of locations.

The history of the island is discussed as well as the society of the island. More detail is given to the Great Coliseum that lives on the island and the various parts that make up the Coliseum. Later in the chapter some of the surrounding areas of the island are given some additional detail. The chapter closes with several additional adventure seeds for use by GMs planning to use the Plane of Dreams in some form.

Chapter Five provides a much closer look at the denizens of the Coliseum itself. This chapter does a good job of outlining how these denizens relate to each other and then much more detailed bestiary style entries appear later in the chapter.

Chapter Six contains an overview of the Epoch, an grand tournament that takes place at the Coliseum. This chapter provides some background, plot hooks to weave into the contest itself and information on the benefactors that the PCs may find themselves aligned with or struggling against.

The remaining chapters of the book are primarily related to the higher level adventure a GM can drop in to their campaign. From how the player characters receive their invitation, to the various tests and trials of the event and the last chapter addressing some of the secrets of the Coliseum to help the GM develop and engaging game.

And finally the Appendix includes two possible rival groups for the party to encounter during the tests and the third Appendix contains pre-generated characters.

I found the Coliseum Morpheuon a very engaging setting. One of the parts I really liked was that this mini-campaign can really be used in nearly any campaign setting you happen to be playing in. It does not matter whether you are running a game in Golarion, Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk or your own homebrew, there is room to drop this setting in to open up a whole new arena of play.

There are a lot of interesting campaign settings out there, but if you already have a game underway in one, it makes it difficult to do any real integration with another setting. But with Coliseum Morpheuon it can easily be used within a campaign you might already have running.

The included adventure also acts as a perfect end cap to an adventure path or any other long running campaign you might have wrapping up. As campaigns reach the winding down stage around 17th or 18th level the GM is often left with little option to continue another few levels. With the Plane of Dreams there is a whole new interesting area to explore, likely different than anything else the group has done before.

I also found the dreamburning mechanic interesting and different enough to add some spice to those later levels in campaigns. The thought of consuming your dreams for benefit or having dreams stolen was very intriguing and opened up several story ideas for me as I read about the concept.

A GM that was aware of this campaign setting could also easily work various side plots and such into their game even from the low levels. There are several ways to involve lower level characters into brief forays into the Plane of Dreams.

Overall I found this book a very good read. I believe it could provide a GM with an entire Plane to explore in –depth or simply provide a way for GMs to make brief excursions into the realm. The included adventure is a perfect way to cap off an adventure path once it has come to completion. So whether you use the mini-campaign setting in its entirety or in bits and pieces there is something for any GM to use.

The book is available in print and PDF at Paizo or Cubicle 7. A bundle option is available from DriveThruRPG that includes PDFs of Coliseum Morpheuon, four map packs, and paper minis.

Tankard Rating
5 tankards out of 5 tankards

Note: The Iron Tavern was provided a review copy of this book.

Dungeon Crawl Classics Related Kickstarters

Last week I took a look at the new Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG from Goodman Games. Already this game has an active community over on the Goodman Games forums. People are putting out various character sheets, 0-level character creators, upper level character creators and the game is seeing some good 3PP support. I plan to take a closer look at some of these resources in a future post here at The Iron Tavern.

This week I wanted to look at a couple of Kickstarters that are out there to support the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. Each of the following Kickstarters has about two weeks remaining, so there is plenty of time to take a look at them and make a pledge to them.

First up we take a look at the The Crawler’s Companion from Purple Sorcerer Games. The Crawler’s Companion project is an attempt to bring a cool tool for DCC RPG players to tablets (iPad and ones running Android 2.2 or higher). This tool would be extremely useful to have at the gaming table and will provide the following features:

  • Funky Dice Roller: D3-D100 and everything in between
  • Critical Hit Charts: All player and monster charts
  • Failure Charts: Fumbles, corruptions, misfires, deity disapproval!
  • Rules Reference: Many topics available for quick reference.
  • Spell Reference and Resolution: Yep, they’re all there!
  • Multiple Modes: Have the program roll for you, or use it to quickly reference the charts based on your own physical dice rolling

The developer currently has this running in desktop PC application. The funds raised by the Kickstarter will simply help port the application to tablets for easier use at the gaming table. Even the lowest tier of funding provides a PDF of a Purple Sorcerer Game’s adventure. Checkout the project and take a look at the video.

The next project that has already met its initial goal and is moving quickly to meeting its stretch goals is one from Brave Halfling Publishing. They are looking to get a solid start in producing modules for Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG via this Kickstarter.

As this Kickstarter is already funded it is a very good deal to get several modules to help you get your Dungeon Crawl Classics game up and running! As of now this Kickstarter is giving you:

  • Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #1 : “The Ruins of Ramat”
  • Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #1 a: “The Witch of Wydfield”
  • Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #2 : “The Crumbling Tower”
  • Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #3 : “Danger in the Sulyndri Forrest.”
  • Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #4 : “The Revenge of Abudakar”
  • Appendix N Adventures Game Box

There is still one stretch goal not met yet, but it appears to be a great one if the project can meet this final stretch goal of $15,000 dollars. From the Brave Halfling Publishing Kickstarter page:

“Five years ago, I spent many months working with Gary Gygax on a unique campaign setting for his game, Lejendary Adventures. We shared back-and-forth almost daily about designing settings, npc races, magic item creation, divine beings, etc. Maps were created and art was commissioned. With Gary’s passing and the end of his game, I decided to not release this material. However, from the first time I got to read some of the early DCC RPG play-test material, I knew this campaign setting had found a new home! So my friends, if this kickstarter reaches $15,000, everyone who has pledged $20 or more will also receive a pdf copy and a print copy of, Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #5: “The Old Isle Campaign Setting.” This product will include a 11″ x 17″ color campaign map, a digest Player’s and Referee’s Guide. While all Appendix N Adventures are generic and can be placed into any campaign, they all do have specific locations in the Old Isle Setting.”

If you are just getting started with the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, these two Kickstarters offers some great tools to help you hit the ground running.

I Have the DCC RPG Hardcover!

As I noted earlier this week in my brief look at the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, I decided having the PDF alone was not enough and tracked down a hardcover copy online and pieced together a set of “funky dice” to actually roll when I played.

Yesterday my book and dice arrived. Tonight I had a bit of time to take some pics of the book and the dice.

As you can tell I am pretty excited about the dice given the number of appearances they make in the pictures above! The book is massive and given the price is an excellent deal. The Koplow dice I pieced together from Troll and Toad are oversized. One day I will need to track down a matched set of a more normal size.

A Look at Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

Recently I have become interested in the Dungeon Crawl Classics by Goodman Games. I was aware of their beta playtest, but for the most part I ignored it. I am not real sure why I did not pay it more attention during the beta, but it never really made it any closer than the edge of my radar.

Fast forward just a bit and it the game started to get some activity on various forums and social media outlets as its release date drew nearer. Then people started posting they had received their PDF, then people started posting they had received their actual book. From there more review started happening and my curiosity grew.

I started reading a little more about it, EN World did a good review of it and I decided to look for it at Origins this year. I could not find the book there, so I purchased the PDF that weekend.

Initial thoughts are quite positive. The book is chock full of art and art from that early era of Dungeons and Dragons. The back cover has a quote that sums things up nicely “You’re no hero. You’re and adventurer…”

A group sitting down to play starts at level 0. You don’t start with just one level 0 character, but with three, four or even five characters. Why? Because many of them are going to die as they go through the funnel. The funnel is the adventure that gets ordinary people to go adventuring. Ill-equipped and with hardly anything to their name these adventurers go off to tackle the task at hand – maybe a few will survive. Those that do survive advance to first level where a class is chosen.

The game has the basic classes, Cleric, Thief, Warrior, Wizard, Dwarf (who is very similar to a warrior), Elf (who is like elves of old both martial and wizard in one), and Halfling who has some thief-like tendencies.

Magic is dangerous in this game. Casting even the simplest of spells carries some risk. This risk is what keeps magic from being too commonplace. Magic can corrupt you as the game goes on.

The game also uses funny looking dice. No. Not the funny looking dice we are all used to playing with. To us, d4’s, d12’s, and d20’s are common. DCC RPG uses things like the d3, d7, d14, d16, d24 and others. Dice that I actually did not have in my collection. I remember opening my Basic D&D Box set many years ago and the fond memories of seeing such unique dice. Somehow Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG was able to recapture that feeling.

I intend to take a closer look at Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG in a future posting, so let me move on into my early foray into the game. My son and I (the same one that has GM’ed some Pathfinder) generated up three 0-level characters each to see what that experience was like. It went quite quickly.

Generating characters with truly random stats and such was very refreshing! No agonizing over where to place your ability score points, just let the dice fall the way they will. None of our characters were very extraordinary, but I think we each had our favorite we were hoping to see survive.

Yeah, fat chance of that! We tackled the first adventure included in the book. Being used to more modern games where you characters are “supposed” to survive, six characters felt like plenty.

When we reached the second room and saw two characters die right away we quickly realized we might not have enough characters with us. I think we made it to about the fourth room before we TPK’ed. We loved it. We had a blast playing even if it did result in all of our newly created characters dying.

So this weekend I tracked down a copy of the hardback book (which was harder than one would think) and ordered two sets of those “funny” looking dice. I can’t wait for them to arrive later this week.

If you hold some nostalgia for your initial forays into gaming and those initial forays were back in the late 70’s or early 80’s you need to check Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG out. There will be some fun times ahead!