Author Archive

September 12, 2014

Terrors of the Ancient World Wallpaper

Digital wallpaper of the cover art: http://www.patreon.com/creation?hid=949280
Wallpaper

August 7, 2014

Terrors of the Ancient World

mm1Last year, I started a Patreon thing in order to make monster manuals with a friend of mine, because he can draw real good and I can write pretty well. So we make two monsters every month, and now, finally, we’ve put some of them together into an rpg book.

Terrors of the Ancient World is a monster manual for the Dungeon World role-playing game. It has over a dozen monsters, illustrated in full colour, along with all the things that make Dungeon World unique, like fronts and dangers, custom moves, and a fiction-first focus. There’s also a new character class, the Satyr, and plenty of adventure hooks, items, NPC ideas, and even a few locations.

This is NOT just a reprint of the Monthly Monster material. Terrors of the Ancient World contains plenty of new material, corrections and edits, and new illustrations. Monsters that were originally illustrated in black and white are presented here in colour.

Please Note: Although the monsters we release every month as part of the Patreon campaign include versions for both Dungeon World and Labyrinth Lord, this book contains only material for Dungeon World and is designed to highlight the particular strengths of that game. It is not compatible with Labyrinth Lord in any meaningful way. There will, of course, be a Labyrinth Lord compatible book of our monsters that presents them in ways best suited for old school fantasy role-playing, but we are still working on that.

WHERE TO GET IT: From DriveThruRPG, click this link.

The pdf is digest-sized, full colour, 107 pages, for US$15.
The print is US trade-sized, full colour, 108 pages, for US$30 and comes with a free pdf if you want one.

There might be a Lulu option in the future, but I have to look into it.
There might be posters of the cover art in the future, but I have to look into that, too.

July 28, 2014

Writing Dungeon World Adventures: Some Tips

Lots of people have made adventures and scenarios for Dungeon World other than me. Joe Banner, John Aegard, Josh Mannon, Marshall Miller, just to name a few. There’s adventures in both the Grim Portents and Mondo Sotteraneo magazines, and then there’s fronts and dangers and stuff in Grim World, Inverse World, and Pirate World.

But I have published the most adventures so far. So probably I’ve learned a few things?
Maybe. Here’s what I can think of right now. Or maybe these are, like, my “opinions, maaaaan.” Whichever, you decide.

FRONTS AND DANGERS
A front is just an organizational tool. The real meat is the stuff in a danger: type, impulse, impending doom, and especially the grim portents. Description, cast, custom moves, and stakes are cool and everything but you will do that stuff anyway if you want to and you won’t if you don’t. How you lay out the dangers and their grim portents—the way the DW book shows or some other way—doesn’t really matter, as long as the GM can understand.

SCENES
I like to include suggested scenes with my grim portents. It is one thing to say “the bandits attack the sheriff” on the grim portents list, and it’s another, more useful thing to suggest how and when they might go about doing that. Give the GM ideas, that’s what your adventure is there to do.

LEAVE BLANKS
There is a right way to do this and a wrong way. Don’t leave something blank if you’re just going to have to invent it later. If you leave a blank spot on your dungeon map and then when the PCs get there you still don’t know what’s there, that’s a sub-optimal use of your prep time.

Instead, when you are the GM, you should leave blanks so you can incorporate suggestions and ideas that the other players contribute. If they tell you they are exploring this dungeon because the Sword of Matrivhor is supposed to be there, don’t just ignore that and plow ahead with your Shrine of Klogh dungeon that has nothing to do with swords or Matrivhors. Put the sword in there somewhere, instead of, or in addition to, the stuff you thought up beforehand. Or change it to the Shrine of Matrivhor and have the PCs find it already looted, with the sword missing—and a clue that will help them find out who took it. Then continue adventuring.

Or, leave the treasure blank in your prep and make sure to ask the players why their characters are raiding this dungeon—what great treasure do they believe is located here?

In short: When you ask them for stuff, use that stuff later.

If you’re writing an adventure, though, how do you encourage this?

KEEP EVERYTHING CONNECTED
The point is that it’s not just a collection of random, disparate things. You have a collection of people, places, things, and situations that actually work together, play off each other, and interact in ways that you have already decided on (and hopefully some unexpected ways, too).

So: try to leave blanks in later parts of your adventure, but put questions in the beginning that will generate the information you need to fill in those blanks.

For example, there is a scrying pool in Island of Fire Mountain that shows the PCs what life is like for the people they left behind to come to this tropical island. This is one reason why you are told to ask the players where their characters come from and what things are like back home—so you can show them what has changed.

Another example: PCs go into a dungeon. Ask them what they fear might be down here, or what they expect, or how they feel vulnerable. Ask them what they think the creatures down here are like, from the worms in the earth to the trolls they are trying to rob. Later on, when they fall into the mutagenic pools in the abandoned alchemical laboratory, use their earlier answers to describe how their bodies mutate. They become the things they feared would be down here.

QUESTIONS
Give the GM questions to ask, things to wonder about. Make them somewhat connected to the stuff that you are presenting in the dungeon. This can be a hard thing for many GMs to come up with, so if you give them stuff they can do right away, those questions can become the seeds of inspiration.

WHAT TO DESCRIBE
In general, I make the assumption that the PCs are unfamiliar with what is being described in the adventure—the people, places, and things—so I try to describe all the stuff that I think is important. The world around the adventure is what I leave up to the GM to either invent or to ask the players about. I also try to include options for the PCs being familiar with the people, places, and things in the adventure, but this is not my default, mainly because this is a fantasy game, so dungeoncrawling and monster fighting and chasing after fleeing thieves are going to be more common than family infighting and small-town romantic shenanigans.

A few other tips:

MONSTERS
The goons at the Something Awful forums decided to add tactics to the monster stat blocks, and this is a good idea. One instinct and some moves alone don’t always tell you what lengths a monster is willing to go to, when they might decide to turn and flee, or what would motivate them to attack the PCs in the first place. Listing tactics beneath their moves is a succinct way to communicate this info. Also, if you put NPCs in your adventure (monsters or people) you should probably give them a motivation of some kind, so the GM doesn’t have to invent one. The GM’s job should be to role-play the how, and spend less time inventing the what, which is why she bought your adventure, after all.

SPOUT LORE RESULTS
Joe Banner puts little sidebars in his adventures, with interesting and useful pieces of information that might be the results of the PCs spouting lore about the things they encounter. This is a good idea! I didn’t do this in any of my adventures, but I should have.

This works better for spout lore than it does for discern realities, I should add. Discern realities results should be right there in a description of the location or situation, but spout lore results can come from sources far afield. Also, if you have answers ready and don’t have to do too much thinking, it encourages players to use spout lore more often, because they know they can count on it actually being useful.

KNOW WHERE TO CUT CORNERS
I’ve written this mostly of these assuming you want to write adventures for other people to use, but these are also tips you can use for your own adventures. If you’ve run even just a few of your own adventures or DW campaigns, you probably have a good idea of what you find easy to improvise during a game and what you probably need to prep for. So skip the tips that don’t help you do that prep. Most of these things don’t really rely on each other.

July 10, 2014

Vertiginous Infiltrators, a science fantasy monster

infiltratorMy Patreon project is producing more free monsters! This is a science fantasy monster. You can find it in pdf form with stats for Dungeon World and Labyrinth Lord on the Patreon site:
Dungeon World Vertiginous Infiltrators
Labyrinth Lord Vertiginous Infiltrators

Grown in vats by unlawful geneticists, the vertiginous
infiltrators are perfect copies of the Sargosyalan race, able to mimic
the mannerisms and behaviours of anyone they could observe.
They were deployed against the Sargosyalans and quickly took
over key positions within that race’s leadership. Not only did they
capture vital military resources for the Xalvorians, but the paranoia
these double agents created within the Sargosyalan ranks was a
setback they could never recover from. Within a few short decades,
a war that had rages and stalled for more than a century was over,
and no true Sargosyalan remained alive.

With their homeworld and all their colonies overrun by the
Xalvorian overlords, the vertiginous infiltrators are all that is left of
the Sargosyalans. Undying, they continue to serve their masters,
infiltrating the societies of other alien races—but no subsequent
success can compare to their original triumph over the beings they
were made to mimic.

May 5, 2014

Den of Thieves

Den of ThievesDen of Thieves is the revised version of a game I wrote in 2009, that has more or less been on a back burner since 2010. I haven’t seen anything similar to it since then, though, so I thought I should maybe polish it up to let other people take a look at it.

It’s a game about fantasy thieves in a fantasy city, with magic and whatnot and a sort-of Victorian underworld vibe. The rules are probably closest to Otherkind Dice (i.e. Ghost/Echo) but a little more rigid. You need a deck of cards to play. Each card represents a specific person, place, thing, or event. You make a map of cards laid out on the table, and you also draw cards to resolve actions, instead of rolling dice. The game is structured in scenes, and you can play with or without a GM (that role is split in two).

The intention is that each time you play, you choose a custom decks of cards, instead of an adventure scenario. Each deck would have a different set of people, places, things, and events, each with their own special rules. Production-wise, this is actually a lot easier to do now than it was in 2010, so possibly I should be thinking about working on this game again.

You can play it if you like. Let me know how it goes. What’s missing is a section telling you how to play the roles (protagonist, dealer, antagonist). If you’re familiar with games like Apocalypse World, Fiasco, and Ghost/Echo, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out, though.

 

LINK IS HERE

April 25, 2014

DW2: Island of Fire Mountain

At long last, both the DW and the River Knife series of adventure modules are complete trilogies.

Island of Fire MountainA small island in the South Seas. A lone fort plagued by cannibal hordes and a race of monsters. A ship, wrecked on the rocks of the far shore, missing all its crew and passengers. An ancient city that stands in ruins, guarded by the very elements themselves, and rumoured to be full of ghosts. All this and more lie waiting for a band of intrepid adventurers. Will they bring peace and prosperity to the island, or merely line their pockets? Will they discover the secret of the lost city of Kuna Lii, or will they leave the entire world in ruins in the attempt? Come ashore, and find out for yourself!

What size is this book?
It’s 102 pages, black and white, 6×9 in print, 5.5×8.5 in pdf.

What do you get with this book?

  • Inside this adventure module, you will find:
  • A complete island, with numerous warring factions and a ruined city.
  • New monsters, characters, and magical items to vex or aid the PCs.
  • Customized starting procedures and advice about asking the players questions that contribute to the setting, while keeping the island a mysterious place for them to explore.
  • A new base class: the Elementalist.
  • Cover art by Robert Scott, from the Prismatic Art Collection.
  • Fantastic interior art by Nate Marcel and Tony Dowler.

Where do you get this book?
You can buy Island of Fire Mountain in print and pdf from DriveThruRPG, for $20. Or $8 $15. Or $7 if you only want the pdf.
You can also buy the print version by itself from Lulu for $16. $12.

February 6, 2014

Bluish Multitudes

bluish_multitudesThese hideous abominations were invented by the archmage Drakdagor as a way to both punish his failure-prone minions and guard his underground storehouses. Once he had transmogrified a minion into a doughy, bluish creature with a blob-like torso that slowly absorbed the minion’s original head, he could add more minions to it and they would meld with the blob. The result was a new creature with multiple limbs and mouths, and a ravenous appetite for intruders. Those minions that failed Drakdagor would often find themselves becoming part of a bluish multitude.

Ultimately, Drakdagor created too many of them and they destroyed him, devouring his flesh and his magic. Those multitudes that ate of their master became magical themselves and have proved to be far longer-lived than the others.

Dungeon World stats:
Amorphous, Construct, Hoarder, Large, Solitary.
Teeth and claws (1d10+2 damage)
Hand, Close, Forceful
15 HP
1 Armour
Special Qualities: Infectious.
Instinct: Protect the underground storehouse.

  • Grab a foe and begin to eat.
  • Push and shove a group of foes apart.
  • React strangely when touched by magic.

Labyrinth Lord stats:
No. Enc.: 1 (1d6+1)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armour Class: Leather & shield
Hit Dice: 2 to 7 (1d6+1)
Attacks: 2 claws and 1 bite
Damage: 1d6 / 1d8
Save: F4
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: IV / S (XVII / F)

Art by Nathan Jones.
Text by Johnstone Metzger.

You can find more monsters, with more text and larger pictures, on PATREON.

January 22, 2014

Heliotropic Sky Devil

skydevil_loConsidered by planetologists to be the pre-eminent apex predator on Maldorine VII, the Heliotropic Sky Devils feed off the various megafauna roaming its planet’s deathlands. But recently, the arrival of the Moon Marauders have thrown their lifestyle into jeopardy.

Sky Devil of Maldorine VII
Huge, Organized, Solitary.
20 HP, 1 Armour
Barbed tail (b[2d10]+3 damage, ignores armour)
Close, Reach, Forceful
Special Qualities: Hyperviolet-reflecting skin pigment, Multispectrum eyes, Wings.
The megafauna of Maldorine VII are partly comprised of metal, usually in the form of a chrome exterior, all the better to reflect the hyperviolet rays unique to the star Maldorine. The Sky Devil is the largest specimen of those creatures that have instead developed special skin pigments, but the lack of metal in its biology has not hindered it in any way. It is still the ruler of this world, able to rend apart steel and iron. Reigning supreme over all other predators, the Heliotropic Sky Devil languidly roams the skies of its deadly homeworld, endlessly searching for prey.
Instinct: To assert dominance.

  • Call out to other Sky Devils.
  • Detect a foe’s weaknesses with multispectrum eyesight.
  • Grab a foe with its tongue.
  • Swallow a foe.

If they prove to be too dangerous: Become confused, fail to understand.
If they submit and cower: Move on to other things.
When a Moon Marauder is detected: Summon other Sky Devils.

Using this monster: You can use this as a regular Dungeon World monster, but you can also use it as a gigantic, nigh-invulnerable beast if you treat is as a spaceship, using the rules in Adventures on Dungeon Planet. In that case, it can only be harmed by spaceships and other such vehicles, but not by humans or their laser pistols.

Art by Nathan Jones.
Text by Johnstone Metzger.

You can find more monsters, with more text and larger pictures, on Patreon.

January 15, 2014

Marauders from the Moon

cone_faced_marauder_loHuge creatures that fly through both air and space, these cone-faced marauders were deposited upon the moon of Maldorine VII by aliens vast aeons ago. They lay in suspended animation until very recently, when they awoke and flew through the space between worlds to bring death and destruction to an infamously deadly planet.

Moon Marauder
Alien, Hoarder, Huge, Solitary.
12 HP, 1 Armour
Hyperplasmic blast (1d10 damage, 2 piercing)
Reach, Near, Corrosive, Messy
Special Qualities: Flying, Ray-Eater, Voidstalker.
The moon marauders now roam the skies above Maldorine VII’s deathlands, soaking up the various ultra-spectrum radiations. They produce waste in the form of a hyperplasmic liquid residue that they spew from the orifice on the front of their face. This residue is incredibly destructive to the planet, polluting the land and killing off the various terrifying megafauna and the flora they feed off of. Huge tracts of land are now smouldering wasteland, and certain forms of indigenous life have begun to turn against the marauders.
Instinct: To absorb ultraspectrum energies.

  • Absorb an energy attack.
  • Grab a foe in gigantic hands.
  • Pollute a landscape.
  • Take to the skies and fly through space.

When they are resistant to hyperplasma: Throw them into the Killer Sea.
When they block the ultraspectrum rays: Smash them!
When they prove to be dangerous: Retreat into space or the caverns of Maldorine VII’s Dark Zone.

Using this monster: You can use this as a regular Dungeon World monster, but you can also use it as a gigantic, nigh-invulnerable beast if you treat is as a spaceship, using the rules in Adventures on Dungeon Planet. In that case, it can only be harmed by spaceships and other such vehicles, but not by humans or their laser pistols.

Art by Nathan Jones.
Text by Johnstone Metzger.

You can find more monsters, with more text and larger pictures, on Patreon.

December 28, 2013

DW3 Ghostwood Haunts

Before the year comes to an end, here is a new book! Ghostwood Haunts is an introductory adventure module for the Dungeon World fantasy role-playing game. This is the sequel to DW1 Lair of the Unknown.

DW3 Ghostwood HauntsWhat’s the adventure about?
In the midst of the Ghostwood, the village of Knifesbridge holds a mere few thousand souls, but trouble enough for all. A gang of bandits preys upon the local road traffic, drug addiction spreads through sleepy village streets, and corruption at the heart of municipal politics stymies all attempts to restore law and order. Worse yet, a dead witch’s ghost seeks vengeance, and a demon waits to walk once more beneath the Ghostwood’s leaves. At the crossroads between these fronts lies and old, abandoned tower, and the secrets buried beneath it will tear this village apart.

What’s it look like?
It’s 138 pages, black and white, 6×9 in print, 5.5×8.5 in pdf.

What do you get with this book?
Inside this adventure module you will find:

  • Two complete fronts with three dangers each.
  • NPCs for each of these six dangers, plus more to populate Knifesbridge.
  • Suggested and optional scenes that further the villains evil scenes.
  • Crime, political corruption, and drug addiction.
  • Ghosts, witches, and a demon.
  • Maps of important locations.
  • Three new compendium classes: the Bounty Hunter, the Drug Addict, and the Infernalist.
  • One new base class: the Magnate.

Why is DW3 the sequel to DW1, Johnstone?
That’s a good question, Johnstone! It’s because DW2 isn’t finished yet. Look for that one in March or something.

Where can you get it?
The pdf is available at DriveThruRPG for US$7 in pdf, and $15 for both print and pdf.
  Andthere is a print option at Lulu (with no pdf) for US$12.

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