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Inside the Rookery

September 8, 2021 1 comment

I’m proud to be a part of Rookery Publications along with fellow veterans Andy Law, Lindsay Law, Mark Gibbons, and Andrew Leask. Between us we have over a century of experience developing award-winning tabletop roleplaying products for some of the biggest and best publishers in the business, and now we’ve decided to go out on our own. One commentator called us “a roleplaying supergroup”.

We have some great things planned for our ground-breaking, system-agnostic*, modular** Coiled Crown line of tabletop roleplaying products. But that’s not all we do.

Every week, we do a streaming show called “Inside the Rookery”, which goes out live on Twitch, Facebook, and YouTube. We discuss topics related to gaming in general, we have guests on now and then (and there are some great ones lined up for the rest of September), and we let you know how things are progressing with The Coiled Crown.

The streams are open to all. They are live every Saturday at 7 pm UK (2 pm Eastern, 11 am Pacific), and past shows can be found on our YouTube channel.

Patreon Logo transparent PNG - StickPNG

To help support our weekly streams, Rookery Publications just launched a Patreon campaign. Please take a look and support us if you can. Rewards include our undying gratitude, special status and exclusive channels on the Rookery’s clamorous Discord server, patron blogs and more!

Want to know more? Watch as Andy Law and Lindsay Law give you a tour of the Rookery’s Patreon offering, along with a peek at our vibrant Discord community!



*That’s right, system-agnostic. Whatever your game of choice – even if it’s not even fantasy – we show you ways to incorporate our products into your games.

**We like to think of our approach as like LEGO sets. You can use everything as given, to create an absolutely awesome campaign with a stunning setting, a staggering plot, memorable NPCs, some terrifying original monsters, and an array of optional adventures. Or, you can pick and choose what works in your games, change the order, mix it up with other things to make something completely new that no one even thought of before. It’s yours to do with as you please – well, that’s true of every roleplaying product you’ve ever bought – but the difference is that we know it, and we’ve planned to support you in however you choose to use it!

Even Rougher Nights


My WFRP 4 adventure collection Rough Nights and Hard Days uses a multi-plot format that I first developed at Games Workshop more than 30 years ago. It’s been widely discussed online, though to my surprise I never heard of anyone using the same style in their own adventures – until quite recently.

A little while ago, I got a very complimentary email from Arjen Poutsma in the Netherlands, thanking me for all the enjoyment that WFRP had given him and sharing a copy of a multi-plot Call of Cthulhu adventure he had written called Night of the Rising Sun. It is now available on DriveThruRPG.

As the title suggests, the adventure is set in Japan – 1830s Japan, to be exact, which makes it something of a niche product. Still, I think it is worth your time. It was designed to be run as a one-off, and would make a different and interesting con adventure. With a little work, it can be adapted to be run with 80s-era games like Bushido, GURPS Japan, AD&D Oriental Adventures, or Land of the Rising Sun, which will shortly be available in a new 5th edition. With a little more work and a little imagination, it can be set in any version of Japan from the 1920s of Call of Cthulhu to that of cyberpunk settings.


Thinking of Night of the Rising Sun reminded me that I had written one other multi-plot adventure beside those in Rough Nights and Hard Days. Called ‘The Last Resort’, it was written for the d20/3.5 rules and appeared in Green Ronin’s 2003 adventure collection Tales of Freeport.

The adventure has eight plots, which I won’t spoil by describing them here. It is set in a grand hotel and features a wide and diverse cast of characters, and while it fits right into the Freeport setting, it could easily be moved to Altdorf or another large city in WFRP’s Old World, or to 1920s New York, London, Paris, Berlin, San Francisco or somewhere similar for Call of Cthulhu.


‘The Last Resort’ completes the catalogue of multi-plot adventures that I have currently in print, but I’ll add a little teaser: there’s another one coming from Rookery Publications. If you don’t already know about this new indie publisher (which consists of WFRP veterans Andy Law, Lindsay Law, Andy Leask, and Mark Gibbons as well as me, and was described by one poster as ‘a roleplaying supergroup’), you can find out more here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1044080065964332/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RookeryP

Discord: https://discord.gg/mMeRpPgY

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxVxRCPYv–_w9xFjW5fdOA


So are there any other multi-plot adventures on the market? Has anyone tried to create one for their own campaign? How did it go? Let me know in the comments section!

Return of the Bling

April 3, 2021 8 comments

Here are a few more images that Pinterest threw my way. Apart from Jewish bridal rings, I did not know that rings in the shape of buildings were a thing, but here is an interesting selection.

I’ve thrown in a few thoughts about what these shapes might mean for magical rings in a fantasy game.

Note: All images are copyright their original owners, at the urls indicated.

The Castle

Castelli 15
Image from https://www.alessandrodari.com/en/opera/castelli-15/

The castle is a symbol of safety and protection, so this ring might give its wearer a significant boost to armor protection, or protect in some more subtle way.

The Palace

VICKY AMBERY-SMITHGOLDSMITHS’ FAIRThis week I’ll be sharing some of the designers I’d love to see at the Goldsmiths’s fair in London. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to go, but if you have a chance, the fair will be going from Sept 27th to Oct 9th.For...
https://athousandfacets.tumblr.com/post/151161004052

The palace is a place of power and authority, so a ring in that form might give its wearer a boost to their social status and accompanying skills, making others treat them as powerful nobles even if they are not.

The Temple

http://www.alaintruong.com/archives/2010/02/27/17061074.html

Like the portable shrine ring from an earlier post, this ring might give the wearer the same protection as being on consecrated ground, or it might give their prayers greater efficacy, perhaps even granting limited clerical powers to a non-cleric.

The Tower

https://www.alessandrodari.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Untitled_Panorama8.jpg

Towers are usually associated with wizards, so this ring might enhance a wearer’s magical abilities, possibly allowing them to cast spells at a higher level than normal or making their spells harder for targets to resist.

So there are a few ideas to play around with. For more buildings, search for ‘architectural rings’.

It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Bling

If you like this kind of post, you’ll also want to see these:

Armillary Rings: Handy for astronomers, astrologers, and navigators.

Compartment Rings: Hide your true allegiance, or carry a secret message.

Poison Rings: An old classic.

Gun Rings: Add more punch to your punch.

Eye Rings: Protection, divination, gaze weapons, and more.

Miscellany: No theme, but lots of possibilities.

Let us Bling: A Ring for Clerics that unfolds into a portable shrine.

Day-After-Monday Gun Day

December 29, 2020 3 comments

Yes, I missed it by a day, but I have an excuse.

Jake Blues Quotes

Well, none of those, but still. It’s the holidays, it’s 2020, I’ve had a lot on – and most important of all, I only just saw this, like, five minutes ago. So there.

Anyway, I’m sure there are player characters everywhere who would love a little toy like this:

It’s a gun made for Francesco Morozini, Duke of Venice (1619-1694). You pull the silk bookmark to shoot while the book is closed.

It’s clearly a flintlock, and it looks to be a good enough size to count as a standard pistol in most rulesets. The barrel is on the short side so it won’t be terribly accurate over longer ranges, but within a few feet it should be just fine. And that, after all, is why it’s hidden in a book: so you can get close without arousing suspicion.

More Like This

Hidden Weapons: Pay attention, 007!
Multi-Barrel Weapons: What’s better than a gun? Lots of guns.
Combi-Weapons: Now you can bring a knife to a gunfight.

Let Us Bling: A Ring for Clerics

June 29, 2020 7 comments

I haven’t put up a bling post for a while, so here’s something that Pinterest randomly threw my way: a ring that unfolds into a tiny portable shrine.

Clearly, any cleric in a fantasy rpg would want one of these (with the iconography of their own religion, of course), but what might it do? Here are some thoughts:

When the ring is opened and the wearer is praying – including casting divine magic and using other clerical abilities – they gain any benefits from being at a shrine or temple. These vary from one game to another, but when a game allows them they often take the form of a bonus to prayer rolls and/or a boost to the effectiveness of spells and miracles.

Extending this thinking, the wearer might also gain the benefits of being on consecrated ground while the ring is open. This is equivalent to a protection spell against evil creatures, demons and devils, undead, and servants of the deity’s rival gods.

Opening the ring takes a full action, and is a delicate process. If the character is wearing gloves, or is being attacked or is otherwise under stress, a Dexterity check might be required to open the ring. The test can be repeated each round until successful, but a critical or other serious failure might damage the ring, rendering it useless until it is repaired and re-consecrated. The ring might offer some lesser protections when it is closed, and when it is worn by a character who is not a cleric.

In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th edition, this kind of ring might have the following effects:

Open or Closed: Armour 1 (Divine) against attacks by any creature with the Daemonic or Undead Traits.

Open Only:

+1 bonus to Bless and Invoke (lore of the ring’s deity). If the wearer lacks either or both of these Talents, it is gained with a score of 1.

+10 bonus to Pray Tests addressed to the ring’s patron deity.

Fear 2 to followers of Chaos and other enemies of the ring’s patron deity.

It’s possible to design variants for a specific deity, which offer specific abilities and protections according to the deity’s particular interests.

It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Bling

If you like this kind of post, you’ll also want to see these:

Armillary Rings: Handy for astronomers, astrologers, and navigators.

Compartment Rings: Hide your true allegiance, or carry a secret message.

Poison Rings: An old classic.

Gun Rings: Add more punch to your punch.

Eye Rings: Protection, divination, gaze weapons, and more.

Miscellany: No theme, but lots of possibilities.

Architectural Rings: A building on your finger.

Monday Gun Day Part 3: Hidden Weapons

May 25, 2020 3 comments

Any roleplayer who has seen any of Robert Rodriguez’s “Mexico trilogy” (El Mariachi, Desperado, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico) has probably longed for a character who carries an arsenal of hidden weapons. They are not the first. Just as much ingenuity has been devoted to finding ways of concealing and disguising firearms as went into the development of the combination weapons covered in the last instalment of this series. Here are a few examples:

It seems that key guns were quite popular with jailers for a while. In addition to unlocking a cell door – for the key was quite functional – they gave one-shot protection against any prisoner who tried to overpower the guard and break out.

Here is a 19th-century gun disguised as a pocket watch.

These small-caliber weapons are designed for use at very close range and their damage ratings are lower than those of the smallest pistols in the average rules set.

Larger guns can be built into walking sticks, like these:

These weapons can be larger caliber – say, up to .50″ without looking unusually thick for a walking stick. They are reasonably effective at short range, but lacking sights and shoulder stocks their performance drops off sharply as distance increases. And before the late 19th century, they are all single-shot weapons, awkward to reload. For these reasons, most gentlemen preferred a sword-cane or a simple “loaded stick” with a lead-weighted pommel that turned it into a light mace. I may post about weapons like these some time in the future.

The spies of the Cold War, both real and fictional, were equipped with guns disguised as a wide range of everyday items. Pens were popular, and so were cigarette packets, lighters, and purses – like the Frankenau purse revolver from the 1880s, for example:

These later weapons were usually .22 caliber, sometimes .22 magnum, and again they were for use at very short range.

There’s one more hidden gun that I saw in a book, years ago, but try as I might I have been unable to find a picture of it online. That’s a shame, because it would be perfect for a game like WFRP, or any other game set in a world with a 17th-century level of technology. On the outside, it looks exactly like a Bible or any other heavy tome. But each cover has a pistol fixed to the inside, so you can just open the book and fire. I can only imagine the pithy lines a badass preacher or scholar character might deliver as they fire such a weapon.


More Like This

Multi-Barrel Weapons: What’s better than a gun? Lots of guns.
Combi-Weapons: Now you can bring a knife to a gunfight.

The Devil Eel, a New Monster for WFRP4

May 23, 2020 20 comments

A little while ago, I came across an intriguing story online. Someone in Australia caught a very odd-looking fish with no eyes and an almost human-looking face. I immediately thought it would be just the sort of thing that might be encountered in Chaos-affected waters, such as the River Reik below Castle Wittgenstein.

Sadly, this inspiration came too late to include the creature in the Director’s Cut of Death on the Reik or the Death on the Reik Companion, but with the second instalment in the Enemy Within campaign about to be released as a PDF, now seems like a good time.


Devil Eel Swarm

Where the waters of a river or lake are polluted by the influence of Chaos, small freshwater eels may be mutated into Devil Eels. With no eyes and a bestial face, they are a disturbing sight, though few get to see them. Gathering in swarms, they attack any prey they can find with mindless savagery, and it is said they can strip a carcass to the bone in mere minutes.

MWSBSSTIAgDexIntWPFelW
44501135455

Traits: Aquatic (see below), Bestial, Bite +0, Corrupted (Minor), Fast, Frenzy, Hungry, Immunity to Psychology, Night Vision, Painless, Size (Tiny), Swarm

Optional: Infected, Mutation, Territorial, Venom (Challenging)

New Trait: Aquatic

The creature can breathe underwater, and moves at its full Movement rate in water. It cannot move on land.


More Like This

Zoats: From Warhammer to 40K (and back again)
The Ambull: From 40K to WFRP (again)
Viydagg: A Forgotten WFRP Monster
Mardagg: A Forgotten WFRP Monster
Mabrothrax: A Forgotten WFRP Monster
Jabberwock: A Forgotten WFRP Monster
Gargoyle: A Forgotten WFRP Monster
The Toad Dragon: An Old Citadel Miniature Described for WFRP4
The Spectral Claw: An Old Citadel Miniature Described for WFRP4
The Mud Elemental: Two Old Monsters Combined for WFRP4
Ngaaranh Spawn of Chaos: A Very Old Citadel Miniature for WFRP4
Leaping Slomm Two-Face, Another Old Citadel Miniature
Zygor Snake-Arms, Another Old Citadel Miniature
Independent Daemons for WFRP 4th Edition
Chaos Snakemen – A Forgotten Warhammer Race
Menfish – Another Lost Warhammer Race
Golems in Warhammer

Monday Maps #13: A Quick Tutorial on Caves

May 18, 2020 1 comment

Happy Monday! I hope you and yours are all staying safe.

 

I haven’t posted a Monday Map in a little while, but I came across this YouTube tutorial that is worth seeing. If you’re like me and the only things you can draw are a breath, a bath, and a conclusion, invest 1 minute and 14 seconds of your time and take a look.

 

 

Hammers and Dragons has a Facebook page here with links to a free downloadable maps, including this one. Of interest to Warhammer and WFRP fans will be the Skaven temple posted on May 7th. Here’s a small-scale preview:

 

Skaven Temple Small

 

One of the things I especially like about Hammers and Dragons is that artist Tomasz Ratajczak is teaching himself to draw, so he’s not presenting some lofty masterclass that makes the rest of us feel like idiots. And yet, his simple techniques produce results that would not look out of place in a professional publication. He’s only just getting started, but I’m looking forward to seeing more from him.

 

Links

Hammers and Dragons YouTube Channel
Hammers and Dragons Facebook page

 

Jabberwock: A Forgotten WFRP Monster

May 16, 2020 44 comments

Well, it’s not original to WFRP, of course. The beast was born in Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwockyand its image was established for all time by Sir John Tenniel’s illustration from 1897.

Nick Bibby’s Jabberwock miniature was advertised in the first Citadel Journal, which was published in Spring 1985. Following my policy of covering every Citadel miniature I could find, I wrote it up for the Bestiary chapter of the WFRP first edition rulebook.

Journal 1

Nick Bibby’s Jabberwock (right), with a Ral Partha Jabberwock mini of similar vintage.

I don’t think the Jabberwock appeared in any official Warhammer publication outside of the WFRP 1st edition rulebook, the Warhammer 3rd edition rulebook, and a handful of miniatures ads – but if you know better, drop me a comment!

Here is my re-imagining of the beast for WFRP 4th edition. Needless to say, what follows is extremely unofficial, completely optional, and does not constitute any challenge to copyrights held by Games Workshop, Cubicle 7, or anyone else.


The Jabberwock

WFRP Jabberwock

The Incursions of Chaos have produced thousands of strange creatures. Living in the deepest forests, the Jabberwock is little seen – at least, by those who live to tell of it – and it is known mainly through local rumours and the distant sound of its burbling cry.
The Jabberwock stands over 12 feet high, and can move by running on all fours or walking on its hind legs. All four limbs are equipped with sharp claws, and its mouth is armed with long, chisel-like teeth. They are very aggressive, but rather stupid.
The Jabberwock’s wings are too small to allow it to fly. It can only bounce along or jump a few feet into the air. Their flapping makes a thrumming, whiffling sound which can be disconcerting.

M WS BS S T I Ag Dex Int WP Fel W
6 79 0 55 65 20 40 15 15 85 100

Traits: Arboreal, Belligerent, Bite +9, Bounce, Claws (2) +10, Distracting (Noise), Hungry, Night Vision, Size (Enormous), Stride, Stupid, Tail +8

Optional: Corruption (Minor), Fear 1, Horns +6, Mutation, Regenerate, Stomp, Territorial, Venom (Challenging)


More Like This

Zoats: From Warhammer to 40K (and back again)
The Ambull: From 40K to WFRP (again)
Viydagg: A Forgotten WFRP Monster
Mardagg: A Forgotten WFRP Monster
Mabrothrax: A Forgotten WFRP Monster
Devil Eel: A New Monster for WFRP4
Gargoyle: A Forgotten WFRP Monster
The Toad Dragon: An Old Citadel Miniature Described for WFRP4
The Spectral Claw: An Old Citadel Miniature Described for WFRP4
The Mud Elemental: Two Old Monsters Combined for WFRP4
Ngaaranh Spawn of Chaos: A Very Old Citadel Miniature for WFRP4
Leaping Slomm Two-Face, Another Old Citadel Miniature
Zygor Snake-Arms, Another Old Citadel Miniature
Independent Daemons for WFRP 4th Edition
Chaos Snakemen – A Forgotten Warhammer Race
Menfish – Another Lost Warhammer Race
Golems in Warhammer

Monday Gun Day, Part 2: Combi-Weapons

May 11, 2020 4 comments

There’s an old saying about bringing a knife to a gunfight, but the painfully slow reload rates of black-powder firearms made it advisable to have a backup weapon. Some attempts were made to combine the two: bayonets became the most popular solution, but there were quite a few attempts to build pistols into melee weapons of various kinds.

These included swords:

Sword Gun

Daggers:

Dagger Gun

Axes:

Axe Gun

And warhammers.

Hammer Gun

In a roleplaying game, a combi-weapon is a one-shot firearm. Most would be pistols, though some, attached to two-handed weapons, might count as larger firearms. They reduce the time needed to switch weapons, perhaps to no time at all. However, they have some significant drawbacks:

In the first place, they are not generally available. Almost all will have to be made to order, which takes both time and money. The cost will be at least twice the sum of the cost of the two base weapons, and the same is true of the time needed.

An artisan charged with making a combi-weapon must be skilled as a gunsmith as well as a bladesmith. All skill rolls involved in making a combi-weapon carry a significant penalty.

The finished article represents the worst of both worlds. It is heavy and awkward to aim, and ill-balanced for close combat. In game terms, the very best combi-weapons, made by master artificers (even Dwarves!) can never be better than average quality. Most are inferior, and if your game system has a way to rate quality, a combi-weapon is at least two quality steps below the normal level of quality produced by the artisan who made it. There are attack penalties, an increased chance of misfires, and the weapon is weaker overall, meaning that it is more easily damaged in combat if your rules set covers damage to weapons.

That said, though, it can give a wielder the advantage of surprise. An unexpected gunshot at the start of a fight can unnerve the enemy, who will be left wondering what other tricks the character might have up his or her sleeve. Enemies will be warier, even if they don’t mean to be, adopting a more defensive, cautious stance. How this is handled in a game’s rules is a matter for the GM to decide. Especially skittish foes may have to make Fear checks to get over the surprise of a combi-weapon firing, running away if they fail.

So there you have it – and you can see why they didn’t really catch on. Still, I can imagine some players’ eyes lighting up at the thought of a sword that is also a gun, and you can have a lot of fun if the party decides to track down an artisan capable of making such a weapon and persuade them to try.

More Like This

Multi-Barrel Weapons: What’s better than a gun? Lots of guns.
Hidden Weapons: Pay attention, 007!