Jump Scares

I have more exciting ebay news:

1. Chivalry and Sorcery: The second edition of Fantasy Games Unlimited’s Chivalry and Sorcery in its original box. The box has seen its better days, but it is more than 20 years old. Wear on top and bottom. Two corners are split, but there is no tape. Top cover bent in a bit near the top, probably from having something stacked on top of it during a move when I was in the Army. All three books are in pretty good shape. Covers are a bit smudged and yellowed. Binding is still pretty solid. Few to no pencil marks on the interiors. No ink marks or highlighting at all.

2. GURPS Imperial Rome: This copy of GURPS Imperial Rome, published 1992 by Steve Jackson Games, is autographed by by Steve Jackson, Jeff Koke (editor), and Ruth Thompson (illustrator). Some what used. Noticeable scratch on cover. Some wear on corners. Some yellowing of pages. No interior marks.

And, now, more for October. Ooh. Spooky.

Jump Scares

Let’s face it. It can be hard to run a horror-based game that is evocative enough with players who are immersed enough in the experience that the adventure unfolding really approaches anything close to the level of scary. So, with that in mind, do what schlock horror movie writers have done for ages. That’s right. Use jump scares. Get a large six-sided die. Display it prominently. Then, when something that’s supposed to be scary is about to happen, scream and roll the die. Before the players recover from your ear-piercing shriek, consult Table: Jump Scares and apply the results accordingly.

On a 1-2, the characters are somewhat more likely than normal to be surprised by the loud noise or by whatever suddenly appears. Of course, the something in this case isn’t dangerous, so there’s not likely any immediate effect, although that loud noise might alert nearby monsters, guards, et cetera.

On a 3, the characters are not only somewhat more likely to be surprised, but since the something is also dangerous, they are greater risk of harm.

The chance to be surprised increases on a 4 or 5 since a loud noise accompanies the sudden appearance of the something. Worst of all, on a 6, so many sudden things happen more or less at once that surprise is very hard to avoid.

October 13th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

The Masks of Nyarlathotep

First, an update. If you’re one of those few people who obsessively keeps track of the progress of Spes Magna projects, the reason nothing has been completed and released lately is due almost entirely to my real job. In short, I’m teaching about a dozen classes across five grade levels in a seven-period-a-day schedule. My committment to my students takes priority over Spes Magna Games, which, to be honest, is more of a hobby than a real business venture.

In other news, and before we get to some October horror, please note that I have a couple of items for sale via ebay:

1. The first edition of Cyberpunk from R. Talsorian Games, complete in its original box. The box is good shape considering it’s nearly 30 years old. Some corner wear. Some yellowing. No split edges or tape. Includes all the original books: Friday Night Firefight, View from the Edge: The Cyberpunk Handbook, Welcome to the Night City: A Sourcebook for 2013, and the player reference sheets. These materials are almost new as this game has only ever been gently used.

2. Path of Legend for Fantasy Flight’s Dawnforge campaign setting. I wrote this adventure shortly after contributing a chapter to the campaign setting itself. Path of Legend introduces players and their new heroes to the Dawnforge world with an epic quest that combines location and event-based encounters that include roleplaying, puzzle-solving, and, of course, combat. The book is most gently used. It is one of the complimentary copies I received for writing the adventure. It’s never been used for play, and it’s almost like new.

And now, let’s meet the Masks of Nyarlathotep.

Hit Dice: 2-5
Nota Bene: The Masks of Nyarlathotep, insane cultists who serve the Crawling Chaos, are kept in asylums under the care of loyal servants. When enemies of the cult require correction, the keepers of the Masks release their charges with necessary instructions, monies, equipment, et cetera. Masks vary in skill and deadliness, but even the weakest are a cut above the norm. In combat, they fight with mundane weapons, preferring razor-sharp blades so that they can better see the looks of terror in their victims’ eyes. A Mask wears a grotesque configuration of straps that affixes a leather strap across his or her mouth. Painted on this strap are a pair of smiling lips. While not monstrous enough to threaten Sanity, this accessory holds dark power. A Wisdom Save is necessary to see the accessory as anything other than a normal part of a trustworthy face. All Masks can cast a number of random spells equal to half his or her Hit Dice.

October 9th, 2017  in RPG, Spes Magna News No Comments »

Balaam’s Ass

And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, “What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?” And Balaam said unto the ass, “Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.” And the ass said unto Balaam, “Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? Was I ever wont to do so unto thee?” And he said, “Nay.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. (Numbers 22:28-31)

Balaam’s Ass
CR 2; XP 600
NG Medium outsider (native)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +5

DEFENSE
AC 13, touch 12, flat-footed 11 (+2 Dex, +1 natural)
hp 30 (4d8+12)
Fort +7, Ref +6, Will +3; +4 racial bonus vs. poison
DR 5/magic; Resist acid 10, cold 10, electricity 10; SR 13

OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft., fly 80 ft. (good)
Melee 2 hooves +0 (1d3+1)
Special Attacks smite evil (2/day)
Spell Abilities (CL 4th; concentration +6)
3/day – protection from evil
1/day – aid, bless, detect evil

TACTICS
Balaam’s Ass prefers to avoid combat. It lacks the proper training, and its gentle disposition makes the idea of shedding blood unpleasant. As such, it prefer to rely on its skills, spell-like abilities, and common sense. If forced to fight, Balaam’s Ass seeks to flee. If it cannot flee, it will fight with its hooves as well as it can.

STATISTICS
Str 15, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 16, Wis 15, Cha 10
Base Atk +3; CMB +5; CMD 17 (21 vs. trip)
Feats Endurance, Persuasive, Run (B)
Skills Acrobatics +4 (+12 for running jumps), Diplomacy +6, Fly +13, Knowledge (nature) +7, Intimidate +2, Knowledge (planes) +7, Knowledge (religion) +7, Perception +9, Sense Motive +6, Stealth +9, Survival +6; Racial Modifier +4 Acrobatics for jumping
Languages Abyssal, Common, Celestial, Infernal

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Docile (Ex): Balaam’s Ass has no specific training for combat. Its hooves are treated as secondary attacks.

Smite Evil (Su): As a swift action, Balaam’s Ass can smite evil twice per day as a 4th-level paladin. The smite persists until target is dead or Balaam’s Ass rests.

Nota Bene I used stats for the pony, applied adjustments as per the awaken spell, and then tacked on the half-celestial template. I tweaked things a bit here and there just because.

September 22nd, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

September 2017 Setting Sale

As part of a September Setting Sale at DriveThruRPG, some of my PDFs are (drumroll, please!) on sale. I know. Shocking.

That’s a Goblin for $2.01

Catch your players off guard with this Old School supplement that presents 23 goblin mutations, 15 fey goblin abilities, 3 goblin subspecies, and 6 goblin tactical specialties. Mix and match to create scores of different goblins! Also included is Tributary of Terror, a mini-adventure taking place within Reyr’s Well, a detailed fantasy hamlet suitable for just about any campaign world.

Goshahri: The City in a Cave for $1.84

Goshahri: The City in a Cave presents not a dungeon or even an adventure per se, although it includes a brief adventure. Instead, Goshahri is a place to be included as a recurring location in a Referee’s campaign world. Adventurers may visit Goshahri, perhaps to seek black market goods, to curry favor from the Bandit King, to deliver ransom payments, to rest and recover from an adventure, et cetera. While visiting Goshahri, adventurers may find themselves embroiled in the mysteries and intrigues that simmer just beneath the surface of the Bandit King’s domain.

Better Craft & Magic Bundle for $1.75

Improve your Pathfinder game with three products: Ars Metamagica, an alternate system for metamagic; In One’s Blood, a collection of new sorcerer bloodlines; and Making Craft Work, my all-time bestseller that turns the Craft skill into something that both makes sense and is useful for characters.

Ean Illiam’s Cavern Stores for $0.67

Find what you’re looking for in Ean Illiam’s Cavern Stores. Fully compatible with Dungeon World, this campaign location includes excellent features, such as cartography by Matt Jackson that includes blank spaces; not-too-complete descriptions of the cavern stores; two adventure fronts; stats and descriptions for the people, creatures, and animals found in the stores; pictures of the major and minor NPCs; and lots of helpful sidebars, including questions to ask and blanks to fill in, as well as new magic items and tables for randomly generating NPC names, types, instincts, and knacks.

September 19th, 2017  in Spes Magna News No Comments »

It’s Not My Fault!

Nota Bene: If you click on a pic, that pic embiggens so that you can read the cards more easily.

Recently I purchased It’s Not My Fault!, published by Evil Hat Productions and available on DriveThruRPG at the aforelinked location. I went for PDF + Cards, currently available for $8.99, plus a clear plastic container for the cards, which was a buck more, if I recall correctly. All in all, not a bad price. The printed cards, as you can see in the pics, aren’t works of art, which I appreciate. My aging eyes enjoy not struggling with miniscule point sizes and exotic fonts layered over art or some sort of pattern.

The deck is really four decks in one. Twenty cards are “character aspect/approach/stunt cards”. One side shows what some systems call a character class (Con Artist or Illusionist, for example) along with three approaches, color-coded, and an aspect in italics. Players pick two cards in turn, and the third is dealt at random. On the flip side of the cards you find which approaches that “class” is best at along with a stunt. The player adds up the pluses for the approaches, makes note of the stunts, et cetera, and the character is done.

I chose Con Artist and Illusionist. I randomly dealt myself Sorcerer. My character’s aspects are Have I Got a Deal for You!, Now You See Me…, and You May Call Me…Tim!. I like the idea of the first one being the character’s high concept.

His approaches are Careful +0, Clever +2, Flashy +2, Forceful +1, Quick +1, and Sneaky +2. He has three stunts, one from each card: Fast Talking, Vanishing Act, and Earth-Shattering Kaboom.

The other three decks within the deck each include 14 cards that “help you generate a sticky situation fast”. Shuffle each deck, deal one card from each. These cards answer the questions Where Are You Now?, What Brought You To This?, and (my favorite question) How Is It About To Get Worse?.

I randomly dealt a card from each deck. We discover that my character is miles underground because he swore an oath while drunk and that his means of escape just left without him.

The PDFs that come with the product also include card-sized rules references and card-sized character sheets. I’ve not provided examples of these, but you can see a sample at this link.

I’m kind of psyched about my It’s Not My Fault! cards. Fate Accelerated has become one of my favorite game systems over the past few years. It’s versatile, easy, and fun. Looks like it might be time for to schedule another dinner-and-gaming event.

Huzzah.

September 15th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »