Archive for November 11th, 2017

Rogue Comet’s Malloy’s Almanac: A Short Review

The weekend of 27-29 October, my son Christopher and I journeyed to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to attend the first ever Lone Star Game Expo. We had fun gaming all day Saturday, playing 5E D&D with our brand new characters in two different adventures and capping the day off with Savage Worlds Deadlands adventure. Good times.

During the day Saturday, I had a chance to talk for a bit with Stan Shinn of Rogue Comet. I like Stan. He’s a nice guy. He gave me a book. That’s me and the book in the picture. Aren’t we handsome?

But I digress.

I am interested in Rogue Comet’s Dungeonesque line of products, so much so that I plan on buying the little brown boxed set and running a demo of it at OwlCon here in Houston in early 2018. Stan gave me a copy of The Chronicles RPG Kit: Malloy’s Almanac, Volume I.

According to the sales text at the aforelinked site, Malloy’s Almanac lets me “Run fantasy roleplaying games on the fly!” This is because the book “is a system-neutral, old-school 5.5×8.5” booklet with tools to help you run well organized, dynamic RPG games”. If I’m interested in a detailed, accurate calendar for my fantasy game (I’m not, but let’s pretend), then Malloy’s Almanac “features a fantasy calendar with information on sunrise and sunsets, moon phases, tides, and weather”. The “real core of the book is its 20 random encounter tools.” These tables “have separate dice roll methods which let you choose encounters for either low-magic or high-magic settings” (more on this later). What’s more, the “final section is composed of tables of characters by race (Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and Orcs), with checkboxes next to each name to note when you’ve used them”.

Let’s take a closer look at that core of twenty random encounter tables. Each table covers a different topic, such as Travelers or Landmarks or Taverns. These topics are numbered one to 20, and are unevenly divided into Traveling, In Town, Loot, Verse (meaning Riddles), and Random NPCs categories.

On the tables themselves, “the first 12 entries are low-magic events” suitable for pretty much any fantasy campaign since a high-magic game would presumably also include low-magic. “The next 8 entries are specifically for high-magic settings”, and so when I use any random encounter table, I can roll either 1d12 or 1d20, the former for low-magic, the latter for high-magic. I suppose I could also roll 1d8+12 for nothing but high-magic encounters.

Now, let’s roll some dice and see what happens. First, I roll 5d20 to see what tables I’m going to use. I get 10, 8, 12, 14, and 9. The table of contents tells me I need to look at the Dreadlands, Campsites, Omens, Shops, and Relics tables.

For Dreadlands and Campsites, I’ll roll 1d12 for nothing but low-magic. For Towns and Shops, I’ll roll 1d20 for the possibility of high-magic. For Relics, I’ll roll 1d8+12 for high-magic only. When I do so, I get these results (which I’m retyping word-for-word to include editing errors, et cetera):

* Dreadlands Encounter 7: “At the top of perilous cliff, you spot a single cairn, its headstone engraved with the words, I couldn’t save her. Several corpses are strewn across the crags below, battered from the deadly fall. Standing next to the cairn, you feel compelled to leap to your doom as well.”

* Campsites Encounter 8: “A stone hut with a moss-covered roof is built into the side of a hill. An axe is buried deep in the wooden doorframe. Signs inside indicate a struggle. There is a locked cage in the corner with the skeletal remains of a large dog with a fine leather collar bearing the name ‘Brutus’.”

* Omens Encounter 16: “A boy mumbling of revenge prowls about a desecrated graveyard. He promise hidden gold if you avenge the desecration of his ancestors’ burial grounds.”

* Shops Encounter 5: “The Bosun’s Blessing. A small storefront where a former naval officer keeps his tools and accepts contracts. After retiring from his service as a seafaring soldier, the owner decided to put his experience to use by taking up the craft of repairing damaged vessels and assessing their seaworthiness.”

* Relics Encounter 16: “A crystal-clear, perfectly spherical glass orb. In its center, a vortex of whipping wind is constantly rotating, shooting out twister-shaped flares in every direction. The flares scrape the orb’s inner surface, begging to be unleashed.”

Those are some interesting encounters. Any of them could serve as a hook into a side quest or a main adventure with a bit of thought. At first glance, the $14.95 US price tag for Malloy’s Almanac seems a tad high. To be honest, if Stan hadn’t given the book to me, I doubt I’d have bought it. I think that would have been a shame. Twenty tables with 20 encounters each is a lot of content to cram into a 47-page book.

The interior layout isn’t anything fancy, and that’s fine with me. It’s mostly two-columns throughout with minimal black-and-white artwork. As can be seen from the Dreadlands and Omens entries reproduced above, there are some minor textual errors that escaped the editing process, but that’s hardly unusual even for much larger publishers than Rogue Comet.

All in all, Malloy’s Almanac is a welcome addition my collection of gaming resources.

Thanks, Stan!

November 11th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »