Skip navigation

Category Archives: Role Playing Game

Been diving deep into some Deadlands Hell on Earth Reloaded! This setting rocks!

There are so many post apocalyptic tropes to explore in this setting that you could do a twist on almost any post apocalyptic TV show or movie. The plot point campaign “The Worm’s Turn” is also a great option to jump right into the action.

Here are 5 archetypes ready to play. They are all Heroic level.

Doomsayer

Junker

Syker

Templar

Witch

I want to begin by reporting a crime. Pinnacle’s Lankhmar Test Drive is about the best introduction to Savage Worlds you could ever want – and it’s FREE! Seriously, PEG outdid themselves on this test drive product and I would highly recommend this as the default introduction to new Savages!

Lankhmar Test Drive

Back to the Lankhmar campaign. We’ll likely try and wrap up our delve into the Lankhmar game we’ve been running this weekend depending on how long it takes to get through the remaining Eyes of Goro’mosh PPC. My plan is to begin the session by running the two middle adventures, then run the players through the classic D&D module White Plume Mountain converted to Savage Worlds, and finish the final adventure of the Goro’mosh PPC. This may take a couple of sessions, but that’s okay. I really like running classic modules that require the adventurers to retrieve some powerful magic item and WPM has three of them! Plus, it’s a rather short module.

Here are the monster conversions for WPM:

White Plume Mountain Encounters

Our next setting delve is going to be Deadlands Hell on Earth Reloaded and I think I might like the setting even more than Lankhmar, which is saying a helluva lot, so stay tuned!

Sunday’s game returned the players to the world of Nehwon where we began by finishing “The Blasphemy of Pavel”.

Here is the final battle of that  adventure. Having succeeded, the heroes returned to Lankhmar where I threw them some adventure time in the city. The first thing I hit them with was the first part of the Plot Point Campaign of “The Eyes of Goro’mosh”. I also ran the Savage Tale entitled “Moonlight Madness” from “Savage Tales of the Thieves Guild”. It was fun, but the werewolf Feherbay escaped and so now I have a villain who will likely return later on.

Then it was time for another job outside of the city. This time, the group included Fafhrd and Gray Mouser. The gang was hired to retrieve another magic item. This time, a staff from The Vault of the Dracolich.

This was actually a really fun dungeon that didn’t feel like a straight up dungeon crawl. Instead of laboriously trudging room to room, I chose to only run the major battles and allow the players to role play quite a bit more. It turned out to be a heck of a lot more fun and fast-paced.

The heroes did pick up two more adventuring companions: a Drow assassin and a Treant.

In the module, the Drow is male, but I changed him to a female. Otherwise, it was a fairly straight conversion.

VotD Encounters

Strykelda

Ironbark

The final battle with Dretchroyaster the Dracolich was run as a Dramatic Task and it fit perfectly with the module!

Here’s the final scene.

When I received my Lankhmar box set I couldn’t wait to jump into some adventures in Nehwon. Pinnacle did a great job with this line of products and I was most pleasantly surprised by how quickly I received it and the great packaging of the dice, maps, Bennies, and books! I wish they would do this with all of their product lines.

As I read through the material, I couldn’t wait to jump into an adventure. I also noticed immediately that the magic and how it’s treated in Lankhmar is very similar to the Solomon Kane setting – another superb product from Pinnacle. I threw out the idea of running an adventure using the random adventure generator in “Savage Foes of Nehwon” just to see what adventure it generated. The results were a mysterious patron hires the adventurers to go and retrieve a magic item.

As our group talked about running an adventure in Lankhmar for our session on Sunday, we also discussed the books by Leiber and the Conan and Solomon Kane books by Howard. Then someone mentioned that having blackpowder weapons would be pretty cool. So, we threw together a rather strange adventure party.

The party consists of two characters that saw a lot of playing time in our Call of Kungfulhu campaign: Wrantin Kullslug (an assassin from the Maestro Kwellin) and Shi-La (a fire wu from Shan). Their stats are here:

Character stats

For more information on the exploits of Wrantin over the years, see the document entitled “The Outlandish Adventures of Wrantin and Raven” here:

Source Material

The two conquistadors were generated using the Solomon Kane rule book.

One is a lesser noble who was the leader of the explorers and the other one is his closest friend. The two men were displaced from their universe but met up with Wrantin and Shi-La in Lankhmar. This is their first adventure together, but we might shuffle the characters around a bit as we go. It’s always fun to use a stable of characters who go on adventures with each other at various times and can be rotated in and out for flavor. Fafrhd and Gray Mouser stats are included and we are definitely going to be adventuring with those guys!

Juan Herrera

Antonio de Cruz

I chose to recycle an older adventure I randomly generated for both Savage Worlds and D&D 5e. In the adventure, a Death Knight has possession of the sword “Souldrinker” (page 99 of the Fantasy Companion). This sword is the item the group must retrieve.

The adventure is found here:

Blasphemy of Pavel

We made it from Lankhmar to the temple and got about halfway through the dungeon on Sunday. The group wasted no time taking on Pavel, a couple of soldiers, some demons Pavel summoned, as well as his Nightmare. Shi-La summoned a Fire Elemental, too. That’s a lot of people/monsters in one battle, but Savage Worlds is the most fun when there’s that much chaos! (If you look closely at the picture above you’ll see the scene from Rooms 2 & 3 of the dungeon. Below are my sheets for all of the baddies in play.) The group prevailed and secured Souldrinker, but, of course, they wanted to loot the entire dungeon.

Below are rooms 14 & 15 of the dungeon with the party outside the door as they plot their entrance.

I think that Lankhmar is going to be a great time. The Plot Point Campaign entitled “Eyes of Goro’mosh” provides some great material and also allows for numerous adventures to be thrown in from the other source books. If you wanted to play a long campaign, there’s more than enough material to last you and your group months of entertainment!

Oh, and the maps are great, too! I love big maps!

I’ve been thinking about creating a method to play Savage Worlds solitaire style and I decided to begin by adapting Savage Worlds to the wonderful choose-your-own-adventure books of the Fighting Fantasy series. I acquired the Wizards Books series 2 version in a set of 10 books.

Fighting Fantasy Box Set

I randomly selected the book “City of Thieves” to use as my play test because I wanted to use the “Fantasy Companion” and “Lankhmar: City of Thieves” for stats. Most monsters or Extras can be found in these two books.

The only real addition I worked out was the use of “Luck” and “Tests of Luck”. All of the combat using Skill and Stamina I pretty much discarded and used Savage Worlds rules to resolve battles.

Here’s how I used Luck. First I replaced the starting 3 Bennies your character typically gets with starting Luck (1d6+6). This becomes your starting Bennies and any time the text instructs you to lose or gain Luck points, just lose or gain from your Benny pile. Bennies, of course, can still be spent to re-roll Trait tests, remove Shaken status, etc.

When the text instructs you to make a Test of Luck, simply make a Spirit roll. I thought of creating a derived statistic for a Trait called Luck, but I didn’t want to get too complicated, so I just used Spirit.

And that’s pretty much all you need to do to grab a pregen fantasy character and start playing. The book City of Thieves takes part in Port Blacksand and I was able to find a map online that helps you to navigate the city as you go through the quest.

Of the 10 books in this series, the book “House of Hell” is the only one that uses “Fear” rules for Fighting Fantasy. It’s set as a modern horror story and isn’t high fantasy or swords and sorcery. The easiest method for incorporating Fear is to simply roll 1d6+6 and that becomes your cap. You start at 0 at the beginning of the adventure and any time the text instructs you to, you make Fear checks or acquire Fear points. If your Fear ever becomes equal with your cap, you have lost your marbles and the adventure ends. It’s fairly simple to incorporate into your character stats for Savage Worlds.

There are other times when you have to make up methods on the fly for resolving things, but it was fairly intuitive. For example, in one part I was apprehended by two guards. The text had instructions for resolving the struggle and I simply made it an Opposed roll of my Strength vs. the two Guard’s Strengths. All in all, converting it to Savage Worlds was seamless and quick!

 

I decided to incorporate more Mass Battles and Sieges into a fantasy-themed game I’m running that utilizes the Black Powder Brigade characters I created. This turned into a research project on the various Mass Combat/Siege rules in several of the Savage Worlds products. Namely: Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorers Edition, Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion, Weird Wars Rome, Weird Wars II, Iron Dynasty, and Realms of Cthulhu.

Basically, both Mass Battles and Sieges utilize a quicker system that revolves around opposed Knowledge (Battle) rolls made by the opposing commanders. The breakdown of the steps into the most basic outline is:

  1. Characters perform Trait tests to determine the deductions/bonuses they contribute to the Knowledge (Battle) roll.
  2. The two opposing commanders make their Knowledge (Battle) rolls.
  3. The losing side deducts the symbolic representation (tokens) of their losses.
  4. The losing commander makes a Morale (Spirit) roll.
  5. Repeat until one side wins.

 

One thing I noticed when reviewing the Leadership Edges that affect Mass Combat and Sieges is that these Edges rarely are taken by players. In order to incorporate these Edges into a Mass Battle/Siege, I created a list of 6 effects (Edges). Instead of having these as Edges, however, I made them into a table that requires a 1d6 to use one of them. The trapping for this can be any manner of item, artifact, person, etc. that embodies the boon to the army. For example, in my game I’m running a siege where Orcs and Goblins are attacking a Dwarven fortress. The Dwarves have an item called “The Horn of Galfallen” that allows the heroes to roll once on the Boon table at the beginning of the siege.

I’ve also added tables for all the common modifiers that a GM would need to run Mass Battles and Sieges.

Mass Battle & Siege Cheat Sheet

Finally, I would recommend printing or having handy pages 16 and 18 of the Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion. Page 16 lists different ways characters can affect either the Knowledge (Battle) roll, the Morale roll, or Supplies. Page 18 lists Siege Engines and Fortifications.

Using the Dwarven defense of their stronghold as an example, here are the factors that modify the Knowledge (Battle) roll for each side.

700 Dwarves have a huge Fortification (+3) with light artillery bonus (+1). The characters must each make their Trait rolls with the results further modifying the +4 bonus. The Dwarves will use 7 tokens with another 6 tokens representing their Supply total of 6.

1,000 Orcs and Goblins are attacking the fortress using light artillery (+1), Giants (+1), catapults (+3), and siege towers (+2). The Orc/Goblin army also receives a +3 because they have 3 more tokens (10) than the Dwarves. This gives the enemy a +10 to their Knowledge (Battle) roll.

And this becomes a great opening scene for the next Savage Worlds session!

I’ve been running nothing but One-Shots lately. The thing about Savage Worlds is that there are so many great settings to play. I put in the work for developing campaigns, but everyone wants to play everything under the sun. Don’t get me wrong, though. I still love running all these cool settings even if it is just a One-Shot. But I decided to adjust my GM planning a bit and quit focusing on so much research and preparation. I’m also going to try and throw in some crazy twists to the One-Shots I run just to make them more memorable.

The next One-Shot is going to be a Weird Wars Rome game.

I found myself drifting into the black hole of information and prep work with WWR and had to tell myself to just stop. It’s only going to be a One-Shot and I needed a radical mash-up. Then it hit me.

Dwarves with Guns!

When I used to play Mage Knight I acquired numerous of these Black Powder Rebel Dwarves with firearms.

How about the Contubernium the characters are a part of go into northern Germania and run into a patrol of Dwarves with muskets? Now that’s a mash-up that would be cool to run!

Presented here are the details and character sheets for the Black Powder Brigade (inspired by and using the minis from the Black Powder Rebels). The characters are the equivalent of the Contubernium sized unit. The particular ones I made the characters for are called “The Axeheads”. Most of the other Dwarves that make up a Squad will use a mix of battle axes and war hammers, but The Axeheads use axes exclusively and bear as their symbol two crossed battle axes.

The Black Powder Brigade

The Black Powder Brigade comprises Dwarves who have dedicated themselves to both the study of battle tactics and the effective uses of black powder in warfare.

The structure of a Black Powder Brigade Squad

Each Squad is led by a War Mage. The typical make-up of the Combat Squad is: War Mage, Black Powder Mage, Sapper, Sniper, 2-4 Draggoons.

The War Mage has the Arcane Background of Alchemy (see Fantasy Companion). War Mages learn to harness Alchemical powers in order to boost the soldiers effectiveness in combat. This could include both offensive/defensive magic as well as healing magic. They are not trained in the finer combat maneuvers that the Dragoons study and employ, but they are trained in leadership and command of the kind that boosts morale and esprit de corp.

The Black Powder Mage is typically the second in command. They utilize the Arcane Background of Weird Science. While the War Mage can concoct the Black Powder, the Black Powder Mage is an expert on how to effectively employ it. They design, repair, and teach the finer arts of the musket and grenade to the Dragoons, Sniper, and Sapper.

The Sniper is usually a Dragoon who has displayed exceptional skill in marksmanship. They serve the squad as a scout as well as providing valuable cover fire for the Dragoons.

The Sapper is utilized to lob grenades in front of the advancing Dragoons as they form The Dwarven Shield Wall. Their skills come in handy in numerous other ways as well, though. Sappers are typically well-versed in fighting with axes and hammers and can join melee, too.

The Dragoons are the backbone of the squad. They have developed tactics that maximize their use of muskets, but they also love to leap into open melee. Dragoons in a Squad are the experts on battle tactics and not the War Mage.

New Edge: Dwarven Shield Wall

Two Dragoons use one massive shield between them to effectively fight with muskets. The War Shield is a Large Shield (+2 Parry; +2 Armor to ranged shots that hit). In addition to the shields inherent bonuses, both Dwarves that possess this Edge receive Heavy Cover while performing the Dwarven Shield Wall maneuver.

The Dwarven Shield Wall maneuver consists of two Dwarves behind a single shield rotating back and forth to provide protection while the other reloads. The first Dwarf fires on the first round. On the second round he advances the shield forward. At the end of the advance, the second Dwarf steps forward to fire and advance while his partner reloads.

There could be any number of adjacent Dragoons performing this tactic as a battle line. In a Squad, the Dragoons’ tactics are augmented by the other members and their tactics.

Here are 6 members of The Axeheads. Nevor Runecarver and Bruge Slagdrinker are Dragoons. If you want to create more Dragoons, just use Nevor and Bruge as templates and change their names.

Fargus Mithrilsmith

Brygo Ironforge

Angus Graniteskull

Hovar Stonespeaker

Nevor Runecarver

Bruge Slagdrinker

Members of the Black Powder Brigade love good tobacco. This is also practical. Pipes and cigars burn slowly so that they become a valuable way to light fuses while on the march or fighting.

P.S. I made a shield for my Dragoon.


The Last Parsec is an amazing setting with some really great adventures. It has an old-school feel that reminds me of the classic TSR game Star Frontiers.

Actually, The Last Parsec was directly influenced by Star Frontiers and Shane Hensley talks about that influence here.

Last year I ran Leviathan and it was a fun campaign. Recently, our group began running Eris Beta-V and I have to say that it is an amazing, high-action set of adventures.

We’re using the pregenerated characters from Pinnacle’s web site. I went through most of the products available for The Last Parsec and wanted to provide a possible order to do all of the adventures in.

The Last Parsec Adventure Order

  1. Omariss Death Worm
  2. Unexpected Colony
  3. Beginning of Eris Beta-V
  4. One of the first missions of the EB-V campaign can be Ghosts in the Machine
  5. Continue EB-V
  6. Untimely Discovery
  7. Leviathan
  8. During Leviathan run Catch of the Day
  9. The Enigma Equation
  10. Scientorium
  11. Pranac Pursuit

 

One of the things I like best about The Last Parsec is how seamlessly it runs with Savage Worlds and the Science Fiction Companion. I’ve noticed that Rifts is very similar in adhering closely to the Science Fiction Companion and I’m thinking about merging the two somehow. It would make for a great sic-fi setting that feels a lot like Guardians of the Galaxy.

The D&D multiverse is a pretty friggin’ cool thing to role play in. With Wizards of the Coast’s rebranding of D&D with 5e’s pseudo-retro focus and feel, it’s tough to ignore what’s happening with their products. As a hard core Savage Worlds’ fan, it’s fun to keep abreast of the 5e stuff while at the same time thinking of opportunities and methods of Savaging 5e.

Several weeks ago I created a team of elite Eladrin (Elves from the Feywild) who were a commando team that were being sent into the Shadowfell. I created both 5e and SW versions of the four-person team.

As I was reading about some background on the Eladrin, I discovered an entry in the Dungeon Master’s Guide on the Eladrin as a race.

So, I went and updated the 5e sheets to reflect the feature of Fey Step.

Ranger 7

Paladin 7

Druid 7

Bard 7

I really don’t like page 2 of the D&D sheets, so I printed these and replaced them as page 2.

Quarion Pg 2 D&D

Paelias Pg 2 D&D

Ivellios Pg 2 D&D

Anastrianna Pg 2 D&D

For their basic backstory and the Savage Worlds character sheets, see this post.

The only Shadowfell-set story that has been released for 5e is The Curse of Strahd, so that would be the natural product to Savage, but let me throw out a couple of ideas.

The only product outside of 5e I’ve counted on for this campaign is the Shadowfell Campaign 4e book. The amount of information and the great map of Gloomwrought are worth using it just for that content, but the book has even more awesome stuff to help you expand beyond the valley of Barovia.

The box also comes with the equivalent of a fear deck that is great to use with 5e. You’ll need to convert from 4e to 5e, but this should help.

In Savage Worlds, it’s best to use the Horror Companion’s rules for Fear and Psychosis. You can adjust the timing of when the group has to make checks to be more-or-less in the background, or you could give difficulties and increase frequency to make it grittier.

Either way, if you use the Tarokka deck, you’ll be using a couple of decks of cards in Barovia. You could even use the Tarokka deck to deal Action cards in SW.

I thought it would be a cool storyline to have the Eladrin team travel back and forth between the Shadowfell and a location in Faerun that serves as a base of operation. My pick for this is Baldur’s Gate, which has been statted for 5e under the title of D&D Next. The campaign guide for this is robust. The campaign takes place earlier in the timeline than all of the D&D 5e book products, but remember, time flows differently in the Shadowfell; so, a long campaign in the Shadowfell after The Murder at Badlur’s Gate campaign could cause the characters to return to Faerun during the time of another, later campaign (like Tyranny of Dragons, e.g.).

The possibilities are endless with areas to explore when the bases of operation become Baldur’s Gate and Gloomwrought. A possible connection could be a portal in both cities linking the two.

And finally, here are numerous monsters from the D&D multiverse statted for SW. My go-to places to find monster stats before I wind up making them from scratch are the various bestiaries from PEG’s line-up – especially the genre-specific companion books. I also like Zadmar’s Savage Stuff and this wonderful bestiary.

Hopefully, I’ll one day run these campaigns in BOTH systems just to compare the experiences.

My last horror collection I wrote is entitled The Other Side of Despair. It was inspired by my studies in Psychology as well as the classic weird stories of Robert W. Chambers that was The King in Yellow.

I was posting a link to the book in a thread and happened to see a review. It was refreshing to see someone get the book as I intended it!

Here is the review by Arnstein H. Pettersen with many thanks from me, sir! I’m glad yo enjoyed it:

Using the science and art of psychology to descend from the ledge chiseled by Lovecraft, further into that dyscognitive abyss.
(Also containing the short story collection that amass to the tale of ‘The Scourge of Wetumpka’, which firmly resides within the Cthulhu mythos.)

The horror genre often bring psychology into the mix as it plies its trade; dread does after all reside within the limits of our minds. Yet only rarely does one find an exemplar of the genre as The Other Side of Despair, where the matters of the psyche is at least nine-tenths of the tale. Its eclectic assortment of short stories persists in pitching the perceptions of the fantastical against the fabrications of the mind, leaving the reader lost for answers in a dilemma akin to that of figuring out which one initiated the (seemingly) etrnal cycle of causality between the chicken and the egg. And to present this dilemma as vividly as possible we have to gain a most intimate insight into the cogitations of the perceiver – or if you prefer the imagery: to observe the prancings of the Devil through the eyes that behold him. It is clearly no coincident that the stories consist mostly of monologues, excerpts of diaries, and personalized letters; ways of narration that are tightly bound to the core of the narrator’s world and interpretation thereof. Yet, despite their differences, they belong to a common literary universe, amassing the information of the individual story into something larger, perhaps even into something resembling answers.

The first monologue is titled ‘Shockley House’, and it is these 18 pages who serve as our introduction to the overall theme of the book. It details an attempt to research hauntings as a psychological phenomena – “Ultimately, it falls into the psychological realm because a statement of belief about witnessing something supernatural, […] is a statement about the psychological state of the person’s belief in what their senses have conveyed to them.” – where the researchers utilize a house rumored to be spectrally inhabited in order to coax their patients into believing the haunting to be real. It is a tale that goes to great lengths in attempting to give a scientific rationale for the phenomena, postulating that it is indeed made from mental fabrications; and much of it is, unexpectedly, quite persuasive. Yet, after wholeheartedly attempting to win the reader over to its logic – going so far as to make nearly testable hypotheses – the tale changes. The aforementioned dilemma begins to form as the rationale begins to shows its cracks, through which the fantastical seems to seep out into reality. The resulting horror results as much from the questioning of the world fabric as from the happenings themselves, making it a truly Lovecraftian experience despite lacking a common mythology.

The following short stories do an even greater job of muddling the dilemma, bringing such vagaries as shadows and dreams into the deliberation. Especially difficult is the tale called ‘Children of the Wasteland’, which bases its premise on Zhuangzi’s butterfly conundrum: “Once upon a time, I, Zhuangzi, dreamt I was a butterfly […] unaware that I was Zhuangzi. Soon I awakened […] Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.” (In fact, the tale is so convoluted that a tip is in order to facilitate the reading. It is not a spoiler and the reader will still have to do much puzzling to make sense out of that one. The hint is: Put to mind Brother Humphrey’s prayer.) Also, the tales are in a sense interwoven through a common world although the clues we are given to this lie discretely placed. The most obvious one is that several of the tales take place in Rathbone Asylum, but closer inspection will reveal others too. This is without a doubt one of the most intriguing works of horror which I have ever come across.

The bonus tale, ‘The Scourge of Wetumpka’ – which is quite some bonus since it covers nearly a hundred of the two-hundred and twenty-four pages of the book – has no connection to the tales of The Other Side of Despair. It is constructed from several short stories, each of which present its own part of the narrative; it builds upon H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, not to mention the works of several other authors who have continued his legacy, but most importantly it builds upon ‘The Colours from Outer Space’ to such a degree that the reader should be adviced to read that short story before embarking upon it. Indeed, this tale could be considered a continuation of the excellent tradition of fanfics (a tradition ancient compared to the term ‘fanfic’ and its modern stigmas, even predating our Current Era/Anno Domine), or, if one prefers to describe it as thus, it is a honorific towards one of the inspirations and thus co-creators of any current work of penmanship. Yet, it goes beyond this and brings to light obscure bits of history and actual conundrums, with notes carefully added with the information on what is accurate and what is embellishment, so as to avoid corruption of the facts. I was particularily fascinated by how little embellishment was needed for the author to connect the fictitious cult of ghouls to real historical events. In my opinion, this is a very welcome addition to the Cthulhu mythos. Also, since it consists solely of letters, clippings, recording transciptions, and similar, it would be an excellent piece of source material for game masters planning role-playing forays into the mythos universe.

Before ending the review, I’d like to note that David Maurice Garrett is not just a writer but also a musician (not to be confused with the violinist David Garrett) with currently six releases behind him, all of whom relate to the horror genre and Lovecraft’s works in particular. There is even a soundtrack for ‘The Scourge of Wetumpka’ among them. Whoever intends to delve into this book would clearly do well to check out these releases as well (the soundtrack in particular, of course).”

 

The story entitled “The Children of the Wasteland” that Arnstein mentions was featured on the Podcast Random Transmissions.

David