Showing posts from March, 2018

Ref Tips for Running Tower of the Stargazer

I'm a big fan of Tower of the Stargazer (you can read my review here). I think it's an excellent introductory adventure, and it gives a lot of good tips to help a Ref run it. I used some of the suggestions in the commentary and added a few things of my own. Each challenge was tense, and the way my players went about exploring the tower ended up finishing the adventure with a big bang. Since there's so much to do in the tower, I'd highly recommend prepping beforehand, so here are the things I did that came in handy.

As always, pre-read the adventure. Additionally, I always find it helpful to print a copy of maps to reference without flipping through the adventure constantly, and I highlight things such as interactive items within rooms, treasure values, traps, and other stuff I want to be able to find quickly among larger blocks of text.

Here are the steps I recommend taking based on my experience with the adventure: Make an interesting adventure hookPick out a board ga…

Session Report: "We Found A Bunch of Cool Shit- All of Which We Immediately Put On Without Checking What It Does"

Campaign Date: August 23, 1630 CE
Location: The Barrow of the Old King
Cast: Hernando de Pieza (Nic's Fighter), Ferrn the Shepherd (Ross's Magic-User), Mystery (Bill's Specialist), Peter the True XXVIII (Peter's Fighter), , Bemuk (Brady's Dwarf), Hans (Chance's Specialist), and Kelvin Roseman, a very disturbing animal trainer hireling.

As his first action, Ross's shiny new Magic-User Ferrn used Arboreal Gallowsreleasing multitudes of bloodthirsty strangler roots in the lower level of the dungeon while he and the party remained above, safe from the carnage. Secure in the knowledge that those vicious little bastards would just wreck the ever-loving shit out of everything down there, they set up camp. The party took watch shifts, set two campfires, erected horsicades (a previous adventure had blurred the distinction between horses and bears) and secured their wagon and horses inside the barrow structure.

A few hours into the first watch, Ross and Bemuk heard t…


There is a lineage of fish that remember the time long ago when some of their kind left the waters and became creatures of the land. These animals have changed in their own way, and wish to stride the land just as their ancient brethren did. They await vulnerable creatures, preferably those with intelligence equal to their own, and crave most strongly of all to experience the lives of humanoids. Should they be lucky enough, they will take their form and even their identity while the original creature is left to drown. The Mirrorfin will fill their place until their magic is broken, when they will return to the waters and repeat the cycle once again.

Armor 14(fish) 12(humanoid), swim 100′ walk 80' , 2 Hit Dice, 10hp, no attack (fish) attack as unarmed or weapon (humanoid), Morale 10.

Gazing at a Mirrorfin causes creatures to be entranced by the glint of their scales. The following round, the Mirrorfin will attempt to lock eyes with the creature, which must make a save versus Paralyze…

Review: Tower of the Stargazer by James Edward Raggi IV/Spells That Are Fucking Metal: The Butcher's Bargain

<a href="">Animals As Leaders by Animals As Leaders</a>
Science-Wizards would probably listen to prog metal.
Spoilers: if you intend to play in this module, avoid this review

Tower of the Stargazer, written by James Edward Raggi IV, the publisher of Lamentations of the Flame Princess himself, is an adventure intended to serve as an introduction to old-school style gaming. The tone is somewhat more grounded than a lot of other LotFP adventures, featuring astronomy and real-world technology alongside magic. It offers a dangerous, lightning-blasted tower for players to explore, filled with all kinds of traps, puzzles and hazards, with only a few opportunities for combat. The adventure punishes rash decisions harshly, but holds great rewards for thorough and clever adventurers. When I ran it, it ended in a total party kill. Thanks …

Session Report: Murderhobos? More Like Suicidehobos

Campaign Date: August 21, 1630 CE
Location: The outskirts of Scarborough, the surrounding countryside and the Barrow of the Old King
Cast: Hernando de Pieza (Nic's Fighter), Roda (Ross's Halfling), Mystery (Bill's Specialist), Peter the True XXVII (Peter's Fighter), Carjek, "Mind of Light" (Anders's Magic-User), Bemuk (Brady's Dwarf), Hans (Chance's Specialist), and Kelvin Roseman, a very disturbing animal trainer hireling.

After facing exile from Scarborough, where both the Ref and the party had thought they would be spending the foreseeable future enjoying lucrative questing opportunities, the party discussed their options.

Before setting out Hernando attempted to gain entry to the town, hoping to pick up the custom shield he had commissioned. Nic had been absent the session prior, was completely aghast at the party's ridiculous fuckup, and thought perhaps he could convince the guardsmen of his relative innocence. Unfortunately he rolled poorl…

Bloodrot Sparrow

Bloodrot Sparrow
Among the forests and hills flock birds of rich earthen colors; innocuous, similar to brown sparrows or finches. They flit deftly about, gorging on insects or hiding within branches until they spot better prey. If warm-blooded and unaware creatures venture nearby, they seek to hide their nature until they are able to peck and claw at their flesh, implanting spores of a foul, necrotic fungus. Once their prey is filled with their deadly filth they will follow their quarry until the spores do their work and bring them down. They will lurk on the periphery, disassembling their birdlike forms to assume the shapes of moss or flowers, nearly indistinguishable from the real thing, awaiting their feast.

Bloodrot Sparrow Armor 14, Move 80′, 0 Hit Dice, 3hp, Peck 1d4 damage, Morale 5. An attack dealing 3 or more damage forces a save versus Poison or be infected with spores.  Those infected suffer wasting of the flesh over a number of days equal to the total damage dealt to them. V…


Under the rules of my Combat skill, Fighters gain unique combat options as they advance. Each time they gain a level of the skill, the Ref and the player collaborate to customize a maneuver that will be for that character only, reflecting their talents and combat experience. I gave several examples in the original post, but here are some more to help Referees flesh out NPC Fighters or roll on if a player would rather progress randomly.

Details such as range and other variables have been intentionally omitted and are up to the Ref to determine based on any relevant factors such as distance, level, skill level, hit dice, or other circumstances. As combat is a major component of RPGs, it is advised that effects have a short duration, have limited or situational application, and do not adversely affect the actions of other PCs or rob enemies of actions in order to preserve player agency and the challenging elements of combat.

This table will be added to periodically, and readers are welc…

Session Report: How to Have Your Pie and Get Away With Murder Too

Campaign Date: August 20, 1630 CE
Location: The city of Scarborough and the surrounding countryside
Cast: Hernando de Pieza (Nic's Fighter), Roda (Ross's Halfling), Mystery (Bill's Specialist), Peter the True XXVII (Peter's Fighter), Carjek, "Mind of Light" (Anders's Magic-User), Bemuk (Brady's Dwarf), Ferdinand (Chance's Magic-User), and a few thus far nameless hirelings.

This post is part 2 of an interlude between adventures. Part 1 is here .

After their fairly detailed investigation into the cause of the young girl Elyse's coma, the group set about trying to find some kind of solution. Many ideas were proposed at first, but the group settled rather quickly on the idea that they should find a way to get her out to a secluded area in which they would be free to cast a spell without fear of discovery. The spell they had in mind was Storming Through Red Clouds and Holocaustwinds. This sounded to the Referee, as it might to most reasonable people,…

You, Whom I Have Always Hated: Dwarves and the Divine

I more or less made a solemn promise to always make gameable posts. Then I was challenged by my good friend Beloch Shrike over at to post some pointless GM wank. Something useless, but fun for me.

I wrote recently that dwarves are atheistic, scientific, and opposed to the idea of magic. Why? They live in a world of magic. Even if the principles of science oppose those of magic and the gods, to doubt them would itself be unscientific, as they can be observed.

No, dwarves know it exists.

Dwarves originated from magic. In the times when ice covered the earth, the first intelligent, manlike creatures emerged, the giantfolk. From the giants came the gods, formed somehow in the layers of the impenetrable glaciers. From the gods came man, crafted from the wood of the first tree. From the bodies of  giants came the land, the oceans, the sky. From their blood  came dwarves, the maggots that came to feast upon the corpse the gods had left.

The dwarves know that they have p…

The Old-Folk: Dwarf Culture and House Rules

Dwarves exist scattered across the world in small settlements and great cities. Most are sovereign, even those within human countries. They are hardworking, ingenious, and prideful. They consider themselves physically and intellectually superior to humans, and are often proven right: dwarves live longer, work harder, and accomplish more than their taller cousins. They are the origin of science and progress, builders of machinery and workers of factories. Without them it is possible that humans would be stuck in the dark ages or reliant entirely on magic for survival. And yet the dwarven desire for achievement over power has led them to be a minority on the earth, living within the domains of men.

Dwarves are present in nearly every region of the known world. In the world at large, they are mainly either isolationist or the power behind the throne, but are tightly integrated in a few places as well. They tend to hold a large amount of power within human states. The economic power of d…

Session Report: Lamentations of the Fashion Princess

Campaign Date: July 15-August 20 , 1630 CE
Location: Scarborough, the Baronet's estate and the surrounding countryside
Cast: Hernando de Pieza (Nic's Fighter), Roda (Ross's Halfling), Mystery (Bill's Specialist), Peter the True XXVII (Peter's Fighter), Carjek, "Mind of Light" (Anders's Magic-User), Bemuk (Brady's Dwarf), Ferdinand (Chance's Magic-User), and a few thus far nameless hirelings.

This session concludes a 3-part adventure in the Barrow of the Old King. Here arepart 1,part 2, and part 3.

The very first action of the session was to get the fuck out of the barrow. Having killed the undead king after he appeared as the result of a random encounter roll and procured the silver ring by chopping off his finger, they promptly pillaged the hell out of the upper level, wanting for the time being to have absolutely nothing to do with what else might lay below. The treasure haul was fairly impressive: 32 semi-precious stone pendants, assorted fine…