Archive for March 2016

FrankenFourth Public Alpha

As I mentioned in our most recent (as of this post) Age of Worms play report, we've assembled a kind of public alpha document, which you can see and comment on here. It contains enough information (races, classes, monsters, etc) to play for at least the first three levels, though you could pretty easily bullshit at least a few more beyond that point.

We're currently most interested in hearing feedback about the mechanics. More content (races, class, talents, monsters, magic items, treasure tables, everything from A Sundered World, etc) will be gradually added over time.

In particular we're really curious what people think about the cleric and wizard, Vitality and Wounds, and armor. I've been gradually tweaking Vitality and Wounds, trying to get it to a point where characters are a bit more durable than their D&D counterparts, because I think it's silly for a cleric to run around poke-healing the rest of the party x times per day.

We're also trying out the abstract armor rules, because Chris feels that Adair's armor of 6 (5 from plate, +1 from Abjurer) makes him "too safe" (and I agree). Gonna see if reducing it to 4 (3 from heavy armor, +1 from Abjurer) makes him actually worry about getting hit, without making him too easy to take him out.

Feel free to share it with your group, play it yourself, and comment on whatever on the Google Doc, here, or the FrankenFourth community over on G+.

Announcements
We've added most of our stuff to Tabletop Library!

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Ghost has manifested!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World<

4Ward/FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 111

Cast
  • Adair (level 4 elf war cleric)
  • Humal (level 4 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Sumia (level 4 elf rogue/ranger)

Summary
Since there were still prisoners that needed rescuing, the characters resolved to continue exploring the lizardmen lair.

They'd just finished arming the soldiers when a lone lizardman entered the chamber, and with a single rap of his staff both entrances were suddenly clogged by a tangle of thick roots. Prepared for a fight, they were surprised to discover that not only could he could speak Common well enough, but he elected to do so instead of fighting.

The lizardman druid told them that it knew why they'd come, and offered to exchange the remaining prisoners, help them escape, and cease hostilities against Blackwall Keep if they would slay the current chieftain. When asked why, he explained that their chieftain had been recently changed by a dragon, both physically and mentally, which had spurred their tribe into what the druid considered to be needless conflict.

Knowing that this would ultimately lead to their destruction, the druid had been seeking a way to eliminate the chieftain, and it believed that the characters were more than capable of doing so (and if they failed, the druid wouldn't be to blame). The characters agreed, and were led to the druid's personal chamber, which housed the other two bound and unconscious prisoners. The druid explained they had been drugged with a sleeping poison, but were otherwise fine.

The chieftain's chamber was nearby, so Sumia tried sneaking in to scout it out. It was too dark for her to see clearly, but the chieftain could apparently sense her just fine; whatever the dragon had done to him had increased his strength substantially (and enabled him to breathe acid). Fortunately, he only got one hit in before the rest of the party came to her rescue.

Once the chieftain was slain Sumia asked the druid about the dragon. He didn't know why it had offered to help them or where its lair was, but it had left an egg with them as a gesture of good faith. The party wanted to take the egg, each for their own reasons. The druid wanted nothing more to do with the dragon, and fully intended to relocate the tribe elsewhere in the Mistmarsh, so told them where their hatchery was as it also had a passage that would lead them outside.

Carrying the unconscious and wounded soldiers, they traversed a mostly submerged tunnel that eventually emerged into the hatchery. The dragon's egg was easy to identify: it was considerably larger, black, and seemed to loom over the rest of the eggs. When Adair went to examine the egg, he noticed several partially buried chests surrounding it.

They debated on what to take, wondering if the chests belonged to the lizardmen or dragon (or were gifts for the hatchling), and whether either party would notice or care if they were gone. Eventually they settled on just taking everything, figuring that the lizardmen wouldn't bother trying to track them down, but when Adair tried picking up the dragon's egg it tore in half.

It was filled with Kyuss worms.

The worms spilled out of the egg, sluggishly crawling towards the lizardmen eggs. The characters and conscious soldiers frantically smashed the worms and carried eggs to safety. Only one worm managed to wriggle its way into an egg, and moments later a gruesome, mostly-formed lizardman hatchling tore its way free, only to be immediately crushed by Adair's hammer.

Once they were sure the worms were dead and no more lizardmen hatchlings would be zombified, Sumia returned to the druid to tell him what had transpired. The druid thanked her, she returned to the party, and together they following the other passage outside and began the trek back to Blackwall Keep.

Design Notes
We've assembled a kind of public alpha document, which you can see and comment on here. It contains enough information (races, classes, monsters, etc) to play for at least the first three levels, though you could pretty easily bullshit at least a few more beyond that point.

We're mostly interested in hearing feedback about the mechanics. In particular we're really curious what people think about the cleric and wizard, Vitality and Wounds, and armor. I've been gradually tweaking Vitality and Wounds, trying to get it to a point where characters are a bit more durable than their D&D counterparts, because I think it's silly for a cleric to run around poke-healing the rest of the party x times per day.

We're also trying out the abstract armor rules, because Adair's armor of 6 (5 from plate, +1 from Abjurer) makes him feel too safe. Gonna see if reducing it to 4 (3 from heavy armor, +1 from Abjurer) makes him actually worry about getting hit, without making him too easy to take him out.

Chris, the player of Adair, needs to drop out for at least several months: if you're interested in playing, lemme know. You don't gotta play his character (and we'll give you access to all of the stuff we've made), we'd just like at least one additional player to round the party out.

Announcements
We've added most of our stuff to Tabletop Library!

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Ghost has manifested!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World<

Forging Dungeons With Dwarven Forge: Caverns

In my previous post on Dwarven Forge tiles, I talked about their vanilla dungeon sets. This time I'm gonna talk about their cavern sets, which unfortunately require more investment because:
  • A basic set of cavern tiles runs $80 for pre-painted, and $60 for "dungeon grey" (and there isn't a slightly discounted three-pack).
  • You don't get as much as you do in a dungeon set: only 26 pieces compared to 32 (plus two doors, for a total of 34), which means you'll need more sets to get a really good cavern going (and the varied walls and floors and cavern floor sets if you want some added variety).
  • They take a bit more effort to paint: we go through the same steps as our dungeon tiles, just adding some brown here and there for the stalactites and stalagmites.

The basic cavern set comes with 8 corners, 9 straights, and 9 floors, Compared to dungeon tiles, you get more corners but less straights and floors, and as with dungeon tiles they all eat up a 2 x 2 space. Here's the total floor space you get with a single set:


And here's about what you can do if you're going for a more "cavernous" look:


Not much. Here's an example of what you can do with two sets:


Bigger, but still not much. I wish Dwarven Forge had a cavern three pack, like they do with the standard dungeon: you'd be able to save a few bucks, and that's basically what you're going to need if you wanna build a decent-sized cavern.

Oh, pick up the varied floors and walls set if you can. It's basically an entire set of tiles that adds some much needed, well, variety.


Announcements
A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Ghost has manifested!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance! Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.

FrankenFourth: Deep One Dungeon Crawl, Part 2

Cast
  • Arras (2nd-level human wizard)
  • Jovan (2nd-level human fighter)
  • Rosalind (2nd-level human fighter)

Summary
The previous session ended with a shoggoth bashing its way through a nearby door.

Since Rosalind and Arras had exhausted themselves during the last fight, the party decided that discretion was the better part of valor and legged it.


The characters fled through a few doors, and once they were out of the shoggoth's sight ducked into a small chamber and hoped it wouldn't find them.

They waited long enough to take a short rest (ie, about 30 minutes): partially because Arras needed to regain her magic, and partially because they wanted to be really sure the shoggoth was gone before they emerged.


To their relief, when they finally came out of the closet the shoggoth was nowhere to be found...but a quartet of deep ones did get the drop on them while they were preparing to smash open a door. It was then that they realized that all pools they'd seen throughout the dungeon were connected...


...just in time for the shoggoth to make another appearance.

They again fled and ducked into another room, but the shoggoth still managed to find them. They tried barricading the door with a stone sarcophagus, but to their dismay it was still able to force its way through.


The shoggoth got a few hits in before the characters were able to wriggle their way past and find a place to hide. The party was able to evade its notice for a time thanks to a hidden passage that linked a pair of rooms...


...but it found them soon after they'd made their way into what they could only assume was some kind of deep one treasury.


This time they didn't stop running, even when it seemed as though the shoggoth had finally given up...


...because of course it hadn't, ambushing them in the cavern near the portal. Fortunately, they were all able to escape through the portal before Arras sealed it behind them.

Behind the Scenes
There wasn't really any objective for this dungeon crawl: it was basically them trying to nab as much treasure as they dared to. They were aware that they could die, and were surprisingly cool with it (if nothing else, the kids looked at it as a chance to get a new mini).

With Melissa's prompting, the kids were smart enough to run from the shoggoth, which was five levels higher than them. The whole session reminded me of playing Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and Amnesia, with the shoggoth randomly popping out of pools or bashing in doors to try and devour them.

All things consider it went really well: they got a bunch of money, and even a magic amulet that lets them breathe underwater, but only underwater since it causes whoever wears it to grow gills. Here's a screenshot of Melissa's character sheet, so you can see how she records XP and loot (and how little space characters take up):


In other news, the public alpha is nearly ready to go. I'm hoping by the end of this week, or during next week at some point. Juggling this, new classes for Mythic Mortals, and adding our stuff to Tabletop Library (and other places).

Announcements
A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Ghost has manifested!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance! Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.

10+ Treasure Vault Color Softcovers are Available

Exactly as the title says: you can now pick up a color-softcover version of 10+ Treasure Vault.

If you already bought the PDF, check your email (if you can be contacted via DriveThru) for a discount link so you can pick it up "at-cost". If you want a B&W version, we're waiting for the proof.

10+ Treasure Vault features every magic item from our 10+ Treasures line, plus various magic items drawn from our numerous Dungeon World classes, for a grand total of 174.

It's also in full-color, with a bunch of new illustrations, advice on making your own magic items (which we've put in every magic item book), and some tables to randomly generate a magic item from the book.

You can see a preview of it over on DriveThruRPG.



 $14.25 (Print & PDF)

$14.25 (Print)


Announcements
A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Ghost has manifested!

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance! Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.

A Sundered World: More Character Stuff Preview 4

Kytherans are a machine race, one of the earliest creations of the primordial Antikythera. They aren't alive, so don't need to eat or sleep, and are immune to disease and poison, but must repair themselves when damaged (and how they "reproduce" is one of the race questions players can answer).


In the upcoming A Sundered World supplement, we're expanding on them quite a bit: new kytheran race moves will let you, among other things, attach your head to a metal (or mostly metal) ship in order to control it, attempt to take control of another kytheran or Legionnaire, scavenge bits and pieces from other kytherans and Legionnaires to gain access to new abilities and/or repair yourself, and be partially made of astral stuff (allowing you to "heal" in the astral, or use the astral shaper world move to directly transform your own body).

In addition to race moves (and even new races, which I'll touch on in a later preview), there's also going to be new equipment. While hard stats for enthollows and jotuncases will be included, you'll also be able to have your kytheran's frame be made of adamantine, mithril, cold iron, godstone, madiron, and sinsteel.

Announcements
A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Ghost has manifested!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance! Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.

FrankenFourth: Deep One Dungeon Crawl, Part 1

Cast
  • Arras (2nd-level human wizard)
  • Jovan (2nd-level human fighter)
  • Rosalind (2nd-level human fighter)

Summary
The characters entered the portal, which led to another, similarly sized cavern.

Much of it was covered by a brackish stream. On the far side of the chamber they could see a gaping hole that had been carved through the wall. They took note, but decided to explore the rest of the chamber and see what else they could find.


They quickly discovered a pile of rubble, but before they could remove it a landshark suddenly burst from the ground and grasped Jovan in its powerful jaws. Its many rows of teeth tore through his armor with ease, and to make matters worse one of his arms was pinned inside, preventing him from bringing his maul to bear.


As he struggled to free himself, Arras exhausted herself blasting it with her magic before fleeing towards the portal, while Rosalind frantically hacked away: miraculously, she was able to finally slay it just after Jovan was rendered unconscious and it turned its attention to her.

Rosalind and Arras hauled Jovan and the landshark's carcass back to town, and after spending a week recovering, repairing their equipment, pawning loot, and buying more supplies they returned to the grotto.


The rubble concealed a narrow passage which led to another, smaller chamber that was packed with stalagmites. One was oddly surrounded with a smattering of shining gold coins which, when they went to examine the gold more closely, revealed itself to be a roper.

It snared Rosalind and Jovan with a pair of viscous strands: this not only prevented the pair from fleeing, but pulled them closer to the roper, or more specifically its circular mouth...which didn't particularly matter since they both excelled at melee and would have done so anyway.

Once the roper was destroyed, they gathered up the coins before spotting an ominous entrance.


As far as they could tell it wasn't trapped or magical in any way, so they ventured inside.


The first room was small and rectangular, constructed with irregularly shaped blocks of stone. Near the center was a filthy, square pool. They couldn't see anything inside, but nothing attacked, so they proceeded past it and through a nearby door.


In flickering torchlight Rosalind thought she saw shadows moving in the darkness. Jovan hung back while Rosalind carefully explored the room, but all she could find was a gruesome, bloodstained altar, a larger pool of water, and a few doors.

When Rosalind went to examine this pool, however, a slimy, fish-like humanoid leaped out. She beheaded it with a single sword stroke, but three more emerged. They raked at her and Jovan with long, sharp claws, but once they slew two of them the third retreated into the pool, dragging one of the floating corpses with it.


As they considered which door to take, something smashed against the door behind them. Something big. Unsure what to expect or what to do, whatever it was smashed into the door again. They stood their ground, as they'd faced several massive creatures thus far and managed to prevail.

The third attempt shattered the door: the creature was a shapeless mass of some dark, gelatinous substance, flecked with dimly glowing orbs of various sizes. It glistened only faintly in the torchlight, which fortunately was insufficient for them to behold the creature in its abhorrent splendor.

They were wrong: they had never faced such a thing as this.

Announcements

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Ghost has manifested!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print.

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance! Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.

FrankenFourth: Grotto of the Sunken God

Cast
  • 1st-level human fighter (sword & board combo)
  • 1st-level human fighter (big-ass maul)
  • 1st-level human wizard (evoker and abjurer)

Summary
We got in a Dwarven Forge water cavern set last week, and the kids wanted to play with it (as they are wont to do every time we get a new set), so after quickly painting it (looked pretty drab in "dungeon grey", but that's easy enough to remedy) I cobbled a dungeon together.


The general idea was the hideout for a sort of water cult: they'd abducted some villagers, probably to sacrifice them to some sort of water god (didn't decide at the time, but going with something like Father Dagon and/or Mother Hydra since I got a lot of awesome Cthulhu Wars minis to use), so the characters were hired to rescue them and wipe out the cult if possible.


Lacking any sort of lock picking skill, the characters opted to simply bash their way in. While effective, they attracted the attention of several guards.


In the next room they came across an acolyte, which summoned a water elemental to support the lone bodyguard before fleeing, presumably to warn the rest of the cult.


After quickly bashing, hacking, and blasting their way through the bodyguard and elemental, they chased the acolyte into the mess hall, which was unfortunately occupied by another trio of guards.

While the fighters and guards clashed, the wizard (who was out of both Mana and Vitality anyway) ran back around to try and cut the acolyte off (and ideally cut him down).


The acolyte almost made it, but the wizard took him out with a nat 20 dagger throw (at max range even, not that it matters with the almighty nat 20).

(NOTE: Many spells can end up eating through your Vitality and Wounds if you aren't careful: if the acolyte hadn't summoned the elemental, he would have survived just a bit longer, maybe long enough to escape!)


Thanks to the key they found on one of the guards, they didn't have to bash in the door on the prison. First objective complete!


Despite a lack of armor and only a handful of Vitality and Wounds, these acolytes still managed to inflict a decent amount of damage with their magic before going down.

While looting the room the characters found several much needed mending potions, and after knocking back a few found a hidden passage in a nearby chamber. It led to a grotto, which was inhabited by another acolyte and...


...a wereshark. I think. Could have just been a big-ass, mutated shark-person. I dunno: didn't give it any silver vulnerability or regeneration, not that therianthropes are necessarily vulnerable to silver or could rapidly heal.

The cult's high priest was also there, and while the party was busy fighting shark-thing he hopped onto the altar and began summoning a large water elemental...


...which, fortunately for them, appeared right after they defeated shark-thing.

On a whim Melissa had her character go after the priest, and after she cut him down the water elemental vanished. Good thing, too, because it downed the other fighter during the previous round.

The wizard discovered that the altar could open a portal to another linked location, so next time they're gonna step on through and see what's on the other side!

Announcements
DriveThru is currently running a GM's Day sale, so for the next 8 or so days you can snag any PDF in our store for 30% off.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Ghost has manifested!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print.

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance! Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.

Forging Dungeons With Dwarven Forge

Some seven or so years ago I bought a variety of Dwarven Forge sets. Despite the fact that all told they ran me about $750, they barely saw any use up until last year, when I started playtesting Dungeons & Delvers with our kids.

Unsurprisingly our kids loved playing with them (it's very rare that they're all put away at any given time), and when I looked into getting more I was pleased to see that I guess a few years ago the company switched from resin to something called dwarvenite, which isn't brittle like resin (great since we mostly have hardwood floors) and also about half the price (great because, well, half price).

For those considering picking up one or more sets, a "starter" set of 32 dungeon tiles (34 counting the doors) now only runs $85 for a painted set, or $55 for the unpainted "dungeon grey", and you can save yourself $15-20 in either case by getting a set of three.

I'd recommend getting at least a set of three if at all possible, because you can't do much with just one (or even two): for a kind of benchmark, here's the floor space you get with a single set (which comes with 14 straight walls, 6 corner walls, 12 floors, and two doors; all tiles are 2" x 2"):


Here's what we've been able to make with several dungeon sets, most of a set of a water cavern supplemented with the normal cavern, bits from the furnishing and dungeon dressing packs (the latter of which gets you some extra doors), and some tavern accessories:

 Monsters added by our daughter, who comes up with stranger results than any random encounter table I've ever seen.
Note that these were all dungeon grey sets we painted ourselves, because even if you suck at painting you can still tackle Dwarven Forge tiles (plus you save about $30 per set).

For the cavern and dungeon tiles, we start out base coating them (ie, painting the whole damned thing) in a dark grey, then go over it quickly with a lighter grey, and then finally dry brushing on a tan color (like Karak Stone).

Using about $30 in painting supplies (depends on what kinds of paint and the brush you use: we prefer Citadel paints and a large drybrush), you can quickly and easily go from this:


To this:


For some added flair, Melissa likes to add some brown to random bricks, the results of which you can see in the first image.

Finally, it's easy storing them even if painted: we just throw them into some plastic drawers we picked up at Walmart, sorting them by type (dungeon, cavern, city, etc).


Announcements
DriveThru is currently running a GM's Day sale, so for the next 8 or so days you can snag any PDF in our store for 30% off.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Ghost has manifested!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print.

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World<

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